Heading Out on the Boat


When you need to find a boat for your fishing excursion, then consider looking online. There are companies like Dixon’s Marine Group that have several options when it comes to boats. You can make a selection based on what you are fishing for, such as lobster, tuna or crab. There are also boats for leisure activities. The latest in boats and accessories is typically launched on a website, so you can find out about new items before they are debuted on a showroom floor at a company.

If you already have a boat, there is a section where you can click here for items you can add to it like nets or a trailer to haul the boat. After you have made a selection on the boat you want, it can usually be delivered to a business near your home that deals in marine supplies. All you have to do is pick it up, inspect it, and take it home. Repair kits are available to purchase online if there is something wrong with a boat you have. You can also find someone who can weld items to the boat, even if it’s an emergency. When you purchase a boat, you can find everything you need for passengers to stay safe as well. These would include life vests and floats.

10 Reasons Why I had a Memorable Trip to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia and Brunei

This was supposed to be a trip entitled “Don’t tell my aunts I climbed Mt. Kinabalu”.

My high school classmates and I have been chatting about going on a climbing trip before arthritis hits us.  Before the New Year started, two of them invited the batch to a trip to Kota Kinabalu which includes climbing Mt. Kinabalu. I was unsure if I could climb the mountain but I booked the trip anyway as soon as I saw a promo fare being offered. My cousin booked also. Another friend booked later after several annoying reminders from me. We had 5 months to prepare for the trip. We had this impression that it is easy to climb Mt Kinabalu. It is just a 6-hour trek to the base camp where there is decent lodging. We do not have to pitch in a tent and cook our own meals.   We could hire a porter to carry our bags. No sweat. However, one of  the classmates who is going to this trip with us, went on a 6-hour trek in Brunei and she shared that a 6-hour trek is not joke. She was the most athletic of the group and she did not think the climb is easy so we postponed the climb- not on this trip. It is still on the bucket list though.

Because we have 5 days for this trip, we thought we might visit Brunei as well. We hit two countries in one trip. We spent two days traveling to and from Brunei that I did not  feel like we have done a lot on this trip. Nevertheless, it was a memorable trip. This is the kind of trip that we did not get stressed about the number of sights to see or activities we to do.

Here are the reasons why the trip is memorable:

1. Relaxing vacation. We arrived at around 130AM in Kota Kinabalu and we were able to doze off at 3AM.  I slept well. The hotel was nice and clean. I recommend Hotel Eden54. It rained on Day2 so even if we woke up early and had our breakfast early, we went back to the hotel and waited for the rain to stop. So I slept. Oh, we also ate the brownies my friend baked which she brought from Brunei.

2. Tagalog.  There were many Tagalog-speaking people.  The people in Kota Kinabalu are warm and friendly. I think they can spot Filipinos a mile away for we were often greeted in Tagalog.  Geographically, Kota Kinabalu is in Sabah which is just south of Mindanao, Philippines. There are many Filipinos who migrated in this part of Malaysia. Still, I still get pleasantly surprised when Malaysians speak Tagalog to me especially when I have switched my brain to speak in English.

3. Food.  My friend treated us to a vegetarian meal at Beyond Veggie. Who would have thought tofu can be this delicious? I am a meat-eater yet  I love this dish.


Photo from my cousin’s instagram. Follow him: bong2begood

This is what I ordered. It arrived when I was already full from tasting what others ordered. This is a taro dish and I am sorry I was not able to finish it.

We love our breakfast at Old Town. Below are kaya and peanut butter toast, soft boiled eggs and coffee.

old town

Photo by my friend, Imma.

My friend’s husband let us try Kopi Luwak. Kopi Luwak is made from coffee beans passed on by a civet cat. Yes, the coffee beans passed through the civet’s digestive system. The beans that were excreted were processed  and the end product is Kopi Luwak. It is an expensive coffee so buying a bag is out the question for me. I just want to try what it tastes like. It still tasted like coffee to me with a hint of nuttiness. The difference is in the after-effect. I slept at 1 AM. Good thing I woke up early. We were leaving Brunei that day.


Kopi Luwak by bong2begood

My friend’s brownies are too die for! She baked salted caramel brownies for us which we brought to the beach. On day 2, it rained and we were stuck in the hotel, it was my comfort food. I was saving the last piece for later time but my friend Imma beat me to eating it. Huhuhu!  Follow my friend on instagram via Abbyzzoven. She is so good that a real princess orders from her. Too bad she lives in Brunei.



4. Sights and Activities. We did not visit a lot of places because of the weather but my cousin took awesome photos so I will just share them here.  We went island hopping in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. But we called it an ‘island hop’. We only visited one island because we went there in the afternoon. We visited Sapi island.

To get to the island, we need to get to Jesselton Point which  is a walking distance from the hotel.

Jesselton Point

We went snorkeling on Sapi Island. Well, not on the island, how can I snorkel on  land? You know what I mean. :D

Pulau Sapi

This is the Sapi Island in color. Stunning.

Photo by Bong Flores

Photo by Bong Flores

We only had one day in Brunei. My cousin took this shot of the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque.

The Mosque

And friends played paintball with some Filipinos (and a Malaysian) in Brunei.

5. Hotel.  We love Hotel Eden54! The rates are affordable. The rooms are clean. The people are nice. Since we were traveling to Brunei, we left  some of our things there because we would be taking the Kota Kinabalu-Manila fight home. They allowed us to stay in their receiving area when we came back from Brunei and offered that we can take a shower in their bathroom. We even unpacked and packed our things there. Imagine our clothes and what-nots sprawled over the place like our own home!

6.  Accessibility. Everything is so near in Kota Kinabalu.  The ferry terminal is just a block away from the hotel. Suria Mall is also a block away from the hotel.  We easily took the ferry to and from Brunei.  In Brunei, my friend drove us around since it is difficult to get around Brunei in a taxi. I do not even remember seeing one.  My friend said that there are as many people as cars in Brunei.

7. Duty Free Freebies. There is a duty-free shop in the Labuan Terminal. Labuan is the port town in Malaysia where we took the ferry to Brunei.  When we came back from Brunei, we bought chocolates there. A lot of chocolates that are on sale were about to expire in July. I bought 6 Cadbury chocolates of different sizes which are packed as one on sale. My friends bought more.  When we paid for the chocolates, the Filipino staff gave us toblerones and boxes of pralines. I got one large dark chocolate Toblerone and 3 boxes of pralines. My friends got more since they bought more.  The catch: the chocolates they gave for free were about to expire that week which is fine by me. Chocolates do not last for more than a week in my house.

8. Immigration. While filling up the immigration form in Manila, my cousin got too excited of the trip to Kota Kinabalu. In the country of destination, he was starting to fill up the boxes. He wrote the letter ‘K’ on the first box and started counting the spaces. He complained to me, ‘Ate, di kasya.‘ ( The letters won’t fit in the boxes provided.) To which I replied, ‘Kuya, country.”  He quickly realized his mistake.

I love that I do not have to fill up forms in Malaysia. You just have to show your passport and all they ask of you is to put your forefingers on the scanner.

In Brunei, it was a different story. When we arrived at the immigration area, we went to the side to fill up the form. We were careful about what to write and thoroughly checking our forms. Halfway through filling up the form, an immigration officer came to us and exclaimed, “You, Filipinos, are wasting my time. What are you still doing there?”. We replied that we are filling up the forms.  She asked, “Why did you fill that up in the boat?” “They did not give us the forms.” “Why didn’t you ask for the forms?”  My friend, who is a Brunei resident for 14 years already,  was speechless.  We quickly filled up our forms. While being interviewed by the immigration officer, we asked to show them our money. I have not experienced such ‘request’ in other countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau.  The officers asked us to count our money in front of them. It is now a running joke in our group that if we go to Brunei next time, we will bring  money in $1 denomination so that when they ask us to count the money, we will waste more of their time.  :D Kidding aside, we can only reflect on what happened.  Taking the ferry is not a common route for tourists. Aside from two Chinese before us, we were the only foreigners in that ferry. There may be prior incidents of illegal immigrants taking that route.  We should have asked to talk to the supervisor and report the incident. That was really rude for the officer to snap at us. We are not wasting her time since she is paid to do that job.

9. Laughter. We survived rain, grumpy immigration officer and long boat rides through laughter. We laugh at ourselves and at each other. We rib at each other over our obsessions: a friend got excited at Pandora and another one went  on a ‘shopping spree’ at Rip Curl. I laughed at my cousin’s mishap on the speedboat and for forgetting our hotel room number.

10. Friends. This trip was a mini-reunion for us high school classmates, two of whom I have not seen in 20 years. A lot has changed yet we still get along like nothing has changed. We updated each other about our lives. We reminisced high school memories. I also have to commend my cousin for getting along well with my friends. They got along well that you would think they have been friends for a long time.  If budget is not a problem, I will not hesitate to travel again with this group.


 Cheers to friendship!


A Day Trip to Corregidor

Since we still have time in Manila, I convinced my aunt that we take a day trip to Corregidor. I think the only way you can reach Corregidor is through Sun Cruises. Sun Cruises is located near the Folk Arts Theatre inside the CCP Complex.

The boat leaves Manila at 8:00AM and arrives Corregidor at 9:15AM.


The package tour already includes a guide and buffet lunch. It is something you must experience at least once. I am already okay with this one trip. War history buffs will surely appreciate the tour. There were things mentioned by the tour guide which I have already forgotten.

Since I want you to experience the tour itself, I will just leave you with photos. You must take the tour to learn about the stories behind each photo.  ( Yes, this is the excuse of  a blogger with a lot of backlogs!)


IMG_1610 IMG_1615 IMG_1638 IMG_1640 IMG_1643 IMG_1646 IMG_1656 IMG_1660 IMG_1690 IMG_1721 IMG_1723 IMG_1765 IMG_1795 IMG_1806 IMG_1817 IMG_1832

Baguio in a Day

Since our trip to Bangkok was cancelled, my aunt and I had 5 days in Manila. We can’t be spending all those days in malls and traffic so we decided beforehand to go to Baguio. I have never been to Baguio. My aunt had visited Baguio several times in past but was still interested in going.

Traveling to Baguio was convenient. Right after we landed in NAIA 3, we took  our lunch at the airport and took a taxi to Victory Liner in Pasay. Victory Liner travels to Baguio every hour. We were hoping to catch their First Class bus but there was only one seat left so we settled for the regular air-conditioned bus. It was an 8-hour trip. Quite long but we were comfortable. My aunt loved that vendors are allowed to go inside the bus. She remembered going to Baguio with my aunts more than ten years ago and they were in a hired van. They were very hungry  but when they told the driver to stop for food they were always told, “Malapit na.” (It’s near.) She remembered how they devoured their meals when they arrived in Tarlac for a stopover.  With our trip, she was never hungry. We bought this huge sweet corn (the biggest corn on cob I have eaten in my life) and chicharon from vendors.  The food made us forget the 8 hours of travel.

We arrived in Baguio at around 8PM. I loved the twinkling lights of  Baguio as we approached the city from the mountains. Too bad I was not able to capture it on my camera. We headed straight to the hotel to rest.

We woke up early the following day. It was a Sunday (March 2) and the last day of Panagbenga. The first order of the day was to find a church.  My aunt who was with me had spent the whole summer in Baguio in her 30′s for teacher’s training.  So I asked her:

Me: Tita, what is the name of their cathedral here?
Tita: St. Peter

When we reached the cathedral, it was called “Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral”. Ang layo! I realized that I should not rely on her for directions around Baguio. Hehe!


We had breakfast after the mass and walked along Session Road.  There were bazaars in the street.


 We saw gorgeous flowers. How we wished we can bring them to Butuan!


How cool is this? They can grow strawberries in a planter!
We really do not have an itinerary for the day. We walked where the road led us and found this busy intersection.

My aunt said that she had been here before and that Burnham Park was somewhere near. When we were nearing what looked liked a park, I approached a law enforcer and asked where Burnham Park is. He amusingly replied with arms wide open, “Ito na po, Ma’am.” Ah ok. It really showed how clueless I was.

There were exhibits of the landscaping contest. We bought some shirts for pasalubong since there was a bazaar.



The park was teeming with people.  I initially planned to try boating but the sun was already up and I was wearing a sweater! I thought it was going to be cold during the day.  Pass muna ang boating!


We found a neat opportunity to remember our Baguio trip: a photo in a costume! Our best Baguio pic ever! LOL!


When I posted this on Facebook, one cousin asked how I was able to convince my aunt to wear the costume. The answer: only ten pesos per picture with your own camera!

After we were done with the pictorial, we went Mines View Park. I dunno how this looked before but there weren’t so much to see. Sorry, Baguio! Do not ban me for saying this. I love everything else. 


The only consolation was that it was near the Good Shepherd where I bought strawberry jam, ube jam, peanut brittle and lengua de gato. We made a pitstop at the Botanical Garden and had lunch in the city proper. The bottles of jams were heavy to lug around so we went back to the hotel.

There were three things I wanted to do while in Baguio. Two of which did not happen: strawberry picking in La Trinidad and visit the Tam-awan Village.  The third one  I pushed to be there in the afternoon. I was glad we did. We visited the Bencab Museum!

Ben Cabrera is a National Artist for Visual Arts. He owns a museum in Tuba, Benguet, which is less than 20 minutes away from the city. The museum houses his works from paintings to sculpture.

There were works from other artists as well.  This photography exhibit by Emmanuel Tolentino looks interesting.



This is Bencab’s muse, Sabel.

I had to take a photo of this one.


This is a digitally reprinted hand-colored lithograph by another artist. When I went to the museum shop, there is a similar digitally reprinted watercolor painting of a bird with BenCab’s signature. I asked how much it was thinking I might get one as a souvenir. The staff replied, “P 20,000″. I have to pick my jaw up from the floor. I should have taken up fine arts in college.  Hehe!

The museum had several floors. I forgot to count them. This is the view from one of the balconies.  I read somewhere that he bought the mountain across this to prevent anyone from ruining the view.


I took this photo on our way out. No, this is not a painting. These are real orchids in the lobby. I love how it turned out in my photo.


I really recommend visiting the place.

We had time to spare. I got a message from my other aunt asking if we have visited Camp John Hay. Not yet.  So, off the Camp John Hay! We rode the jeep to go there so we were dropped at the entrance. I never anticipated that the road up is on an incline. My aunt was panting while going up. The goal was to go to The Manor.  We only walked up to Le Monet Hotel. My aunt already refused to walk further. Ha!  Good thing they had a Panagbenga float on display.

As expected, the flowers near the Le Monet entrance were gorgeous.

We went back to Session Road where I bought strawberries sold on the sidewalk.  From there, we called it a day.


I will be back, Baguio!


How I Claimed a Cebu Pacific Ticket Refund Without Going Crazy


There are horror stories. I have read lots of them. I know of people who vowed not to book flights from them ever. However, I am poor and kuripot (thrifty). I can only afford tickets from budget airlines like Cebu Pacific and, based on experience, I never had any untoward incident from them. Also, I knew what I was getting into when I booked the flight. I have read the fare rules: “Promo fares are non-reroutable, non-transferable, non-refundable and may not be stored in a Travel Fund.” However, I also know that if they initiate flight cancellation, I can opt for a refund. I have read stories how their refund took months to process. I wished it would never happen to me. I told myself that this is the reason I always book months before so that everything is planned smoothly. My schedule is fixed. I do not need to refund.

They say nothing is certain in life except death and taxes. This holds true for my Manila-Bangkok-Manila trip this March. Since January, I have been praying that protests will stop so we can visit Bangkok without worries. I have not planned the trip yet because I was following the news. I have also been following Richard Barrow on twitter. Richard Barrow is a blogger based in Bangkok and he has been updating the world on the protests happening on the ground.


A lot of travellers were able to enjoy their trip to Bangkok even with protests because he gives tips on where to go, what places are safe and what to avoid. It gave a little boost to my confidence knowing I could rely on this kind stranger for help.


  I believe God has other plans for me this March. Last week, I saw this announcement on Cebu Pacific’s Facebook page. My return flight was cancelled. cebupac I asked my aunt who is my travel companion which option we are going to take. She was not keen on travelling to Bangkok because of the protests. If it were up to me, I would have rebooked it to an earlier return date. However, my aunt is hypertensive and the trip might frightened her if the protests would not end. Earlier that week, I got these updates from Richard Barrow. I took these as  signs to postpone the trip until everything is back to normal.


I decided to cancel the trip. I have called the hotline before and it is a hit-and-miss thing. They have Manila and Cebu hotlines and I live in Butuan so calls I make are charged long distance rates by my phone provider. I always use my landline because rates are cheaper. I always prepare before I call. I sit in a comfortable chair. The electric fan is set at the right speed. The flight details are in front of me. I have a ballpen and paper.

I called the Manila hotline and I was put on hold. It helps to have something to do- read a magazine, play a game on your tablet, clean your nails, pluck eyebrows. This is because the recorded voice will be on repeat: “Your call is important to us. We will attend to call your shortly.” I understand how one could go crazy waiting on the line. When put on hold, I always give them 5 minutes. If no one answers, I hang up. On my third try, I called the Cebu number and I was able to talk to a person on the first try. I was happy that I was able to refund the entire trip even if only the return flight was cancelled. It is logical to do so but I am glad just the same. I was told to call again in 24-48 hours to confirm if my refund is ready. At this point, I wanted to protest. This meant that I had to call long distance again. However, I was too happy to get a refund that I let it stride.

After 48 years hours, I called again. I was told that the accounting department in Manila has not yet completed the preparation of the refund. I was asked to call again at 5pm that same day to follow up. It was a Friday. I decided I would follow up on the refund on Tuesday the following week to give enough time for whatever preparations they need. I also decided that I would follow-up the refund directly at the Butuan Airport since fare going to the airport would only cost P30 while calling long distance may cost a lot more.

Armed with the required documents- ticket, passports, IDs and authorization letter from my aunt, I went to the Butuan Airport this morning. I know that there is a 9AM Cebu Pacific flight and the next one is in the afternoon so I went at 10AM to avoid the crowd. I arrived a little past 10 AM. I was greeted by Jenny. She has a pretty smile and was accommodating. She was scheduled to have lunch so she endorsed my refund request to Al. She told me that she will get the documents and have them scanned. They would email Cebu for approval and once there is a reply in the email, I would get my refund. She told me to wait. She was nice. While I was waiting, she came back to tell me that Al was processing my request. Then I waited for 30 minutes. Another staff told me to wait a little more because Cebu had questions on my refund. Passengers started to arrive for their flights. After 15 mins, Jenny approached to tell me that they were still resolving the questions on my refund. They did not have a timeline when it will be resolved. She got my contact numbers (so I can do other things rather than wait at the airport like poor puppy). She promised to call me within day. True to her word, she called at 1PM. I arranged to go back at 3:30PM after the last flight has flown. True enough, I arrived at the airport as the plane took off. I arrived at an empty airport. It took a while to reach the airport because I took the jeep and I ran some errands, too. When I arrived, Jenny was already waiting for me. I filled up some forms and I got my refund. I found out when I checked my phone that I got a missed call from her and my uncle told me when I arrived home that Cebu Pacific called while I was away.

I can confidently say that: Cebu Pacific refunds in cash! This was thought to be impossible before.

On hindsight, there are circumstances that worked on my favor that prevented me from going crazy over their service. My friend who also had to refund her trip had an unfortunate experience. She was put on hold for more an hour and she got disconnected several times. She tweeted @cebupacificair and she was told to go to the Cebu Pacific office at the airport only to arrive at the Cebu Pacific office and read a memo that they no longer accept processing of online transactions and that clients should call the hotline.

These are the reasons why refund seemed easy for me:

  1. I had low expectations. Filipinos may be the most hospitable people in the world but customer service is still something to be desired. Most companies’ bottom lines are still revenues.
  2. I had a lot of reserved patience. If you think you are patient enough, that is not enough. You need more. Good thing that patience is one of my virtues. I have been waiting 36 years for my one true love. A Cebu Pacific refund is irrelevant. (Echus! I am kidding! I am only testing you if you are still reading at this point. Acknowledge it  in the comments. )
  3. I live in the province. Going back and forth to the airport twice was not much of a hassle. If that happens in Metro Manila and other big cities, I understand how that will increase the stress-level of any client.
  4. I was too happy to get the refund. The thought of being stranded in Bangkok was a burden off my back. I do not want to be stranded in Bangkok because I want to attend my friend’s wedding the day after I was supposed to arrive in Manila.
  5. I had a flexible schedule. I can understand how this can be a great inconvenience to those who have regular jobs.
  6. I do not own a credit card. I got an update from my friend. She said her refund will be credited back to her credit card in 30 to 60 days. Whew. That long? Good thing I have no credit card to speak of. I paid in cash so they had no choice but to give the refund in cash.

I think Jenny of Cebu Pacific Air in Butuan Airport was very accommodating. She knew what to do. She was the one who instructed her colleague on what steps to take when she endorsed my case because it was her lunch break. However, Cebu Pacific could still improve their system.

Here are some suggestions:

  1.  A toll-free number for their hotline. It can be expensive to call long distance. The Gokongweis used to own Digitel and Sun Cellular. They could have easily set up that toll-free hotline years ago.
  2. If we can book online to buy tickets, I guess they can create an online system for the refund.
  3. Since cancellation of the flights that is due for refund is initiated by them, they can be pro-active. They can identify these passengers. They can immediately prepare the necessary refund for the passenger so that all the passenger need to do is show proof and refund will be immediately issued. I wish they sent me email on the matter. I only found out about the cancellation because I was actively updating myself with the news.

To end these very long post, I need to write a disclaimer. This is just my experience. I am but one of their millions of passengers. I cannot guarantee that you will experience the same thing I did. I do hope you learn something from my experience and can strategize how you will have a better experience in the future. As passengers, we should know our rights.  Check out the infographics from the Office of the President.

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