Philippines Insider" The Ultimate Philippines Travel Guide for Tourists and Expats
Philippines Insider" The Ultimate Philippines Travel Guide for Tourists and Expats

Author Topic: Trip report for Manila,Iloilo,Bacolod, Cebu, Angeles, Olongapo  (Read 4601 times)

Offline tbevan

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Trip report for Manila,Iloilo,Bacolod, Cebu, Angeles, Olongapo
« on: December 29, 2007, 09:33:39 AM »
I am writing this trip report of our trip to the Philippines to accumulate all my notes and information I wrote down throughout the 40 days we travelled to Manila, Iloilo, Guimaras, Bacolod, Cebu, Angeles, and Olongapo. I thought some of this information might be useful to the many members of this Yahoo group.  Sorry about the format, but its just notes and observation, nothing formal.
Arrived Manila airport at 1050 PM after a 20+ hour flight from Fort Walton Beach Florida. Customs at the airport was no too bad, moved along pretty well. As my wife is a duel citizen we lined up in the Balikbayan line. Note: Show the agent at the immigrations window both your wife’s Philippine passport and her “American passport”; ask for a balikbayan status /stamp.  Have them stamp both passports just incase you lose the US passport (If she loses the Philippine passport you will need at least an entry date on her US passport when you try to leave.
We were through customs and walking towards the street by midnight.  Looking for a Taxi? Walk directly out the main airport door, walk across the street towards the overhang. Turn right and walk down the ramp to the airport pickup / taxi area. If you’re new to the Philippines be prepared for a mad rush of everyone and his brother trying to assist you. Word of advice: Say no thank you and head towards the taxi stand /ticket booth, it should be at the bottom of the ramp on the left. Only use these taxis. The booth attendant will give you a slip of paper after pay; this will be used to ride one of the taxis. The cost at the airport is expensive compared to the metered taxis and the street, but after a long flight its best to pay the 350 Peso and get to your hotel. Don’t bother asking a hotel to pick you up; most likely you will end up waiting for more than an hour for you ride.  Taxi is the quickest.
Exchange rate: We had plenty of pesos on hand from our trip last year, but if you need to exchange money you can do it at the airport. You will see an exchange window to your right as soon as you walk out of the customs area.  The rate is about one peso less per US$ at the airport. I would recommend having at least 2000 peso on you before you leave the airport. Always ask for small bills. It’s funny how no taxi driver has change when you pull out a 500 PHP bill.  Tipping Taxi’s? Never really quite sure on the protocol. I normally just round the fare up and maybe add a few pesos. Depends on the driver.
Load your cell phone near the exchange window.  Make sure you charge the phone; I normally charge it on my layover in Japan.  No cell phone? Local calls start at 1 peso.
In Manila, I would recommend your first stop be the Mall of Asia, Take a taxi or a jitney.  A taxi to anywhere in the city should not cost more than 100 PHP. ALWAYS use a METERED TAXI. Jitneys cost about 7.50 Php. Mall of Asia jitney will be blue or orange with a sign the reads “MOA”.  Watch out for pick pockets.  If you’re staying in Manila over night or for a day or two I would recommend staying near the MOA.
NOTES: Wallet in your front pocket, BRING Toilet paper where ever you go.
Internet: any of the shopping malls with have a NETOPIA or something similar. CHEAP cost about 30Php per hour.
We normally only spend a day or two in manila before we move on. This trip we headed for Iloilo.
Domestic airport: Manila to Iloilo cost 200Php airport departure tax. FYI. Always have a few pesos on hand when traveling by air. Taxi, airport departure tax, over weight fees ECT….. Anything bag more than 30 kilos you’re paying for it. I think we were 7 kilo over weight and paid somewhere near 280 Php. Again, when you come close to an airport, watch your bags; say no thank you to any “porter” assistance.  Politely say No thank you.  Before entering the airport have your passport and boarding pass or itineray out and ready to show the security guard. You can not enter the any airport in the Philippines unless you have ID and a ticket.
WE LOVED ILOILO, it will probably be our retirement location next year. Friendliest people we have ever met.  This was our first time on Iloilo. I have always heard it was really nice…..I concur.


Stayed at Del Rio Hotel…..Very nice people…. We arrived at the new Iloilo airport which is about 17km from the center of town.  Being the first time on Iloilo I had the hotel pick us up at the airport. They were there waiting when we arrived, which is very Uncommon in the Philippines unless your staying at a Five star hotel.  Del Rio is a nice hotel built in the mid 60’s clean, good food. Our taxi driver Edward was very helpful (email me off line if you want his cell phone number)
Our main reason for this trip to the Philippines was to find a retirement location so most of my notes are geared towards that. I am not a party guy or looking for girly bars so I hope you don’t  get bored.
Anyways, we visited a few places during our 5 day stay in Iloilo. Without mentioning any locations or subdivisions. Beware of the flooding situation. The price I was quoted on most land was between 2200 and 4000 Php a square meter.  Not being a new guy in the Philippines I am sure that price was the Foreigner price. Make sure when you rent or buy have the wife do the asking / negotiating.  My wife is an expert at haggling.  Looked at a few rentals. Asking between 15000 and 20000. Again I was present at the time.
Party time: Go to Smallville complex. Nice bars and restaurants. Pier 16 good live music.  Near the SM mall.  Visit the Marina River Garden as well. Good food, on the river. I really think Iloilo will be the next “you have to go there” Island.  We are looking at buying some property there in a few months. 
Tourist information next to the Iloilo Museum in the center of town. See Renee, Very helpful man. Want a  Good / Safe Taxi: LIGHT OF GLORY  329-1316. Jitney that makes the rounds on the main street: Balurte – Visavera.Internet: Robinsons Mall and SM mall 30Php per hour.
We took a Pump boat to Jordon port on Guimaras from Iloilo cost was 7.50 Php per person. It took about 30 minutes. The pump boat leaves Ortiz Boat station every 30 minutes. If you want to take jitney jump on the Mandurrio.
Guimaras is a beautiful island, no malls or above a 1 star hotel but a nice quite place to spend the day or do some biking or trekking. As soon as you get off the pump boat you will find a small tourist office. Mr. Vic Salmorin was very nice and helpful. He took us on a private tour of the island.
Ferry to Bacolod:  Weesam Express. First class is a nice, comfortable ride (air plane type seats), good aircon.

Arrived in Bacolod via Weesam Express Ferry.  Mad house on the dock when we left the ferry. Similar to arriving at Manila airport. No shortage of people trying to help you and direct you to a taxi. Same advise; Watch you bags, politely say no thank you, I will take care of my own bags. Plenty of taxis at the port. Make sure you get a “METERED TAXI”. As normal at tourist ports, the taxi drivers will try to quote you a price to your destination which will normally be twice the metered cost.
Best way to insure it’s metered. Ask the drive, look inside the vehicle to verify they have a meter, Make sure he turns the meter on. 
Most all taxis in the Philippines will start off at 30 Php with a turn rate of 2.50 Php per Km.
After getting a taxi we headed out to our hotel, “Palmas del Mar”. Very, very nice. They have several different types of rooms depending on what you want to spend. We had a junior suite, with balcony.
Ask the desk if they have and specials or membership discounts. We had reservation set for 5 days at 2020 Php per night.  They offered me a club membership for the cost 6000php which included 4 free nights per year and a discounted room (from 2020 to 1400Php). I paid the 6000Php and used my 4 free nights immediately.  The 5 night stay ended up only costing us: 7400Php. Saved about 2700 Php. Not bad.
FYI:  When in the Philippines if they give you a room with two double beds and you want a king, Ask the desk to give you a “matrimony mattress”  they will move the beds together and place a King size mattress over both beds. For some reason it’s had to find a king size bed in a hotel in the Philippines. It may cost you few pesos but well worth it.
Bacolod was pleasant, but for some reason the wife and I did not feel it was the right place for us. Nothing in particular just a feeling.   The hotel was right on the water. Three pools, lots of locals coming in everyday to use the facilities.
While in Bacolod I got my visa extension at the immigrations office downtown. Cost was 2020Php for another 38 days. Location: Take a taxi to City Hall, as you are looking at the City hall building go down the road to the right, walk about 100 meters until you see a Photo copy shop. To the left of the photo copy shop you will see a door, enter and go to the second floor, the immigrations office is the second door on the right.  POC: Miss Mita Chuvy Arguelles. Very helpful.  In order to get an extension you will need a photo copy of the first page of your passport and a copy of the entry stamp in your passport. You can get these copies down stairs… Cost: 1 Php per copy.
Use “FAITH Taxi” when you are in Bacolod.  Phone number: 0344410702
Party Time: Head for the “Goldfield Complex”. Plenty of Bars / Clubs / Casino’s. 
We depart Bacolod for Cebu via Philippine Airlines.  Small airport in Bacolod. No problems quickly went through the process. Over weight 9 kilos. 
Arrived at Cebu / Mactan airport. Again you have to pay a departure fee of 200Php per person every time you travel in country. This is a familiar city for the wife and I, we have been to Cebu about 6 or 8 times over the years.  She is originally from Cebu, some 25 years ago. Airport was no problem quick and easy. After picking up your luggage you can get a taxi outside the main doors. Look for the “Friends taxi / rent a car” service. You will pay twice as much as a normal taxi. I think it’s about 375Php from the airport to the center of town 30 min- 1hour depending on the traffic.  If you don’t want to pay that much you can walk up to the arrival area and jump in a taxi that is dropping someone off. We normally have her family pick us up.
We stayed at the Golden Prince Hotel, which is a 2 min walk to the Ayala shopping mall. New hotel, good food, across the street from a nice coffee shop. Cost: 1730 Php per night. Party Time: normally we stay low and relax in Cebu. But you can take a taxi to “Gaisano Mall” and visit   a few small pubs in the area. From Gaisano walk over the bridge and look for Badges dining pub on the right.  Good food, live music. Good beer.
For those military travelers. The Cebu RAO is located across from the SM mall. Look for the Sun Gold building (furniture store) behind the Sun Gold you will find the crown building. The RAO is of the second floor room 207. Ask for Lee. Very helpful. The RAO will help you if you need assistance.  Phone 232-3556
Taxi in CEBU: Shurie taxi: 422-7723 (cell: 09194715867) or Four C: 342-5495
We stayed in the City for a week mainly relaxing. Picked up a rental Van from her brother-in-law (800 Php per day) normally you will pay 1800 per day or 2500 per day with a driver. (I drive myself, but would not recommend it for a first timer).  I tell everyone I learned to drive at 15 years old in Boston. Cebu driving is similar ?  I know Cebu pretty good so I rarely get lost. But a new visitor can get confused with all the traffic and one way streets.
Before I forget: Bathroom alert; The McDonalds at the Ayala mall is private, clean, and has toilet paper and seats.
What do you think: I was thinking about writing a book on clean toilets with paper and seats in the Philippines? It seems it’s a daily concern search these out were ever we go. No so much me, but the wife plans her day around bathrooms.   Not really but pretty darn close. We left CEBU city and travelled south passing through Talisay, Naga, and Carcar and stopped in Argao. Carcar city of shoes.  Good bargains if you haggle.
We have a friend that owns an apartment in Argao so we stay there (empty most of the year). It’s a good half way point between Cebu city and the southern tip of the island.  Most likely we will be settling (retiring) somewhere south of Carcar towards Santander. I really like it down there and close enough to Cebu (2 hours max) if we need to visit a hospital or big malls.  (ANYONE HAVE SOME GOOD LAND FOR SALE?)
After a week we moved on to Moalboal.  I am a big SCUBA diver and love the water. Military diver for 22 years, diving since I was 12 years old off the coast of Cape Cod Ma. In Moalboal you have a dive shop on every corner. It’s a small diving community / village. Lots of bars, restaurants, tourist sales, and Diving.
For a treat you have to visit the local disco on a Saturday night (after 1000PM).  Hard to find if you don’t know about it. Basically walk down the main street until it looks like it ends. Walk through a small alley, as it opens up again, keep walking along the beach wall. Just ahead up the stairs you will see the disco.
Everyone and her sister go there on a Saturday night.  LOUD, CROWDED, but good people watching place.
Left Moalboal and headed back to Cebu.  Next stop…..Angeles City……

Angeles City:
Arrived at the Clark International Airport, which is the old military base right inside Angeles city. Flying into Clark /Angeles is a better that flying into Manila if your heading to Olongapo it is about a 2 hour car ride.  Plus you get to see the famous Fields Ave. I lived in Angeles for 5 years in the late 80’s and early 90’s so I am really familiar with the sights. I must admit it was more appealing to me when I was in my 20’s and 30’s. Now not so much. I do have a couple of good friends that live and work there so I always stop in when we are in country. A must is to visit my good friends bar and restaurant “MARAGRITA STATION” It’s the best place in town to relax and get a bite to eat (HUGH MENU).  The owner and I have known each other for close to 20 years. Great guy.  Margarita Station is also a full service business. Internet, rental cars, travel agent, money exchange, smokes. They will assist you in anything you need.
Let me back up a bit. When you arrive at the airport you must use the airport taxi’s to get to your hotel or destination. I think that’s really a rip off since they charge 200 Php just to get to Fields Ave. (it should cost about 40 Php. But I sucked it up and paid the 200.
We stayed at Kokomoes, Which is another good restaurant right on the strip. Great place to hang out and people watch. Make sure you get there early to snag a street side stool at the restaurant.  We stayed at Moes because it’s right downtown and has a large room with an internet capable computer in every room (free).
America Hotel is also a good hotel to stay at; it’s a bit of a distance from the happenings but nice and comfortable. If you have not heard of Angeles City and Fields let me clue you in.  BARS..GIRLS.. BAR GIRLS…..GIRLS and BARS. That’s about all you get there on the strip. Again I must admit there was a time many years ago I could be found most any night roaming the streets, but now it does not interest me must.  Lots of very young girls “walking around” with 60-70 year old men.  To each is own.  I judge no one.  The only think I would say is be careful in this city. Plenty of scams and crooks roaming to depart you and your money.  If it’s your first time enjoy it but always watch you money and your back. I will put up some pics on the site if the group will let me.
Anyway, we only stayed in Angeles for 2 days, and then headed up to Olongapo City, to visit my wife’s sister and friend. Olongapo has changed a lot over the years, getting better every time I go there. Mayor Gordon and family are really doing a good job. The old Subic NAS and Cubi point has come along nicely. Our friend rents a home (old officer base housing), on post. Nicely remodeled home, driving on Subic is like being back in the states. It felt kind of weird after driving all over the Philippines.
Of course we went down to the barrette to have dinner and see some more local friends.  The barrio has not changed too much.  If you like diving Subic is a good place to do it. I did not dive this trip but I have made many dive off the coast. Near Grande Island.  I heard the fishing is good also.

Offline tbevan

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Trip report Summary
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2007, 10:12:28 AM »
I wrote this informal trip report for those of you that are planning to visit for the first time. I hope it helps. For past 20 years I have been a great fan of the Philippines. The people are the friendliest people on this earth (in my opinion). As long as you treat them with respect and honesty you will get the same in return.  Of course always be weary, some will try to take advantage of you, the foreigner, but it’s no different than travelling in any big city.  I am actually more weary, sad to say about the foreigners there, its seems a lot, not all have some sort of agenda…trying to make a buck I guess. But again it’s no different than back home. Remember you are the visitor in their country. I personally have never had any problem traveling or there. 
The wife and I are returning in Apr to finalize our retirement plans, and plan on moving to Cebu next Fall.
Feel free to post a message if you have any questions.

Offline Maeara

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Re: Trip report for Manila,Iloilo,Bacolod, Cebu, Angeles, Olongapo
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2008, 03:50:44 PM »
tbevan wrote:
\"Safe Taxi: LIGHT OF GLORY  329-1316. Jitney that makes the rounds on the main street: Balurte – Visavera.Internet: Robinsons Mall and SM mall 30Php per hour.
We took a Pump boat to Jordon port on Guimaras from Iloilo cost was 7.50 Php per person. It took about 30 minutes. The pump boat leaves Ortiz Boat station every 30 minutes. If you want to take jitney jump on the Mandurrio.\"

I read your account on your trip to the Philippines with your wife. I am happy to note that you have found the people in Iloilo City, where I am staying, to be friendly. They are very helpful too.

Just a little corrections on the names of the places you mentioned, which I quoted below:
the correct name of the place is Baluate, not Balurte.
and Mandurriao not Mandurrio
and Robinson Place Not Robinsons Mall.

Offline robalew

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Re: Trip report for Manila,Iloilo,Bacolod, Cebu, Angeles, Olongapo
« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2008, 10:17:24 AM »
I am dying of cancer with about a year to go according to Dr.s and was thinking about living out the rest of my life back there around alongapo, I feel good and you couldn\'t tell I was sick except I get tired quicker than I used to. My question is where is the best place to fly into toget there and the cheapest but still nice place to live. Its been since 1975 since I\'ve been there. If you could help me out please reply I\'ll be living off my 30% disability from the Navy and 1,050.00 medical retirement from the VA hospital. my em is   Thank you If you can help

Offline coutts00

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Re: Trip report for Manila,Iloilo,Bacolod, Cebu, Angeles, Olongapo
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2008, 11:05:02 AM »
Before our resident spell checker gets online to correct your spelling alongapo is actually Olongapo. Now for some more details, is it just you or is there an asawa or wife to deal with as well. How does your family feel about you moving somewhere to die so to speak? For costs check out this site, its a bit out dated and the guys on the forum can give you more information. Do you or will you need hospitalization? Home health care, a nurse or housekeeper? Do you want to rent a house or condo? Maybe a pension house would be a good alternative instead of renting if you only plan on staying for a year? Do you plan to return to the U.S., I assume its the U.S. you are from for your last moments or stay here and be buried here?
Wayne  ;D ;D