Travel Articles

Visa free travel from Philippines to Japan to start by June

“Good news to Filipinos looking to visit Japan. Philippine Ambassador to Japan Manolo Lopez says Filipinos may travel to the Land of Rising Sun, visa free, by June. Lopez says, they are just waiting for the official advise from the Japanese government. Lopez adds, this is part of Japan’s plan to boost its economy.”


Watch the report here:

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Inihaw na Pusit (Grilled Squid)

INIHAW NA PUSIT. Grilled squid or inihaw na pusit is a Filipino dish of marinated squid stuffed with onions and tomato mixture then grilled over live charcoal. During Holy Week, it has been a practice among Roman Catholics to abstain from meat. Pork, chicken, beef, goat meat and other types of meat are usually out of the picture during this time of the year. Vegetables and seafood are commonly consumed unless you are fasting.


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Holy Week in Pampanga

HOLY WEEK in PAMPANGA. Devotees in Pampanga re-enact the passion on the cross of Jesus during Holy Week. Photo credit:


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Don’t have a Philippine e-Passport yet?

Posted at 12/26/2013 6:10 PM | Updated as of 12/26/2013 9:04 PM

MANILA – Filipinos are urged to apply for the e-Passport before their green or maroon passports expire, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

“All Filipino nationals holding Machine Readable-Ready Passports (MRRP; green passports) and Machine Readable Passports (MRP; maroon passports) will no longer be allowed to apply for an extension of the validity of these passports after October 31, 2014,” the DFA said in a statement.

The e-Passport, which first issued in 2009, has the logo of a microchip just below the cover.

“They must instead apply for a new e-Passport as soon as possible before the expiry of their current MRRP (green) or MRP (maroon) passports. Those who fail to do so will likely encounter difficulty at immigration checks when traveling through any ports of entry around the world after October 2015,” the DFA said.

The new e-Passport is in compliance with the standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The DFA added that all non-machine readable passports may no longer be extended beyond October 31, 2015 and must be completely phased out by November 24, 2015.

Passport holders are also reminded about the strict rules for applying for an extension of the validity of expiring or expired passports.

Passports that are valid for less than six (6) months or those that have already expired may be extended once only in the following instances:

-death in the family requiring the OFW and members of his/her dependent family to urgently travel to the Philippines;
-medical emergencies requiring the OFW and members of his/her dependent family to urgently travel to the Philippines or another country for medical treatment;
-OFWs returning to their employers abroad with valid employment contracts processed by the POEA; and
those going home on final exit visas (for Filipinos in the Middle East).

“In these instances, proof of urgency such as a copy of the death certificate, medical certificate, valid employment contracts processed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) or any of the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLO), along with plane tickets with confirmed flight details should be presented,” the DFA said.

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Philippine Airlines advisory to passengers


In view of the holiday travel rush , PAL and PALex are advising passengers to check in early to avoid congestion at the airport and help ensure timely flight departures.

For domestic flights, your airline recommends getting to the airport at least two hours before scheduled departure, and three hours before for international flights.   For its part, your airline is taking the following measures to help make your airport experience smooth amidst the surge of holiday travelers:

– Deployment of additional staff in all airports where PAL and PALex operate to serve needs of more passengers

– Beefing up of security measures to ensure the safety of passengers. These include the deployment of more security personnel and bomb-sniffing K-9 explosive detecting dogs at key points of the NAIA Centennial Terminal 2 and 3.

– Regular coordination with the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) and heads of airport authorities in the provinces to address airport and passenger concerns

For more information, please check flight status and latest updates by logging on to the PAL website at or the PALex website at

You may also call the PAL hotline at 855-8888 or PALex reservations at 855- 9000.

Happy holidays from your home in the sky!

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CNN’s Most Christmassy Destinations on the Planet


(CNN) – If your Christmas is too often one of tacky decorations, over-cooked turkey and bitter family feuds, now may be the time to put the baubles back in the attic and plan a yuletide getaway.

To help you along, we offer our top picks for the most Christmassy places around the world.

Barcelona, Spain

If you can manage to extend your Christmas holiday until Three King’s Day, (January 5) there’s no better place to catch up with Melchior, Gaspar and Balthasar than Barcelona.

On the evening of January 4, they arrive at the city’s port on the the Santa Eulàlia — their very own ship — in bearded and velvet-robed splendor.

Canons are fired, fireworks are set off, and as the mayor hands them the keys to the city, the magic of the Magi officially commences.

They parade through the streets in a magnificent cavalcade of floats that includes camels, elephants, giraffes and dazzling costumes.

Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland

While legends dating as far back as the 1820s cite the North Pole as the official home of Santa Claus and his jolly missus, the Finns would have us believe otherwise.

For them, Rovaniemi, Lapland, located just north of the Arctic Circle, is Christmas HQ.

Here, children make gingerbread cookies with Mrs. Claus, enroll in Elf School or take a calligraphy class and compose their Christmas wish lists with a traditional quill.

Other area attractions include the Ranua Zoo, home to baby polar bears, wolverines and moose; Sirmakko reindeer farm, where visitors can take a sled-led reindeer safari; and the Arktikum, a science center where the mystery of the northern lights is revealed.

Those in search of a truly frosty experience can stay in the Arctic Snow Hotel, made entirely of snow and ice, but equipped with saunas and hot tubs in which to thaw.

New York

Rockefeller Center lies at the core of the New York Christmas.

Its famed ice rink has been around for 77 years; the decorated tree is an 80-year-old tradition.

Across the street, Radio City hosts the annual Christmas Spectacular, starring the Rockettes.

On the southwest corner of Central Park, Columbus Circle hosts more than 100 vendors selling clothes, gifts, snacks and drinks at the Holiday Market.

Central Park has two ponds for skating and horse-drawn carriage rides.

Fashion’s biggest names join in the festivities, setting up impressive Christmas window displays. The most glamorous cases, at the Fifth Avenue flagships and department stores like Saks and Bergdorf, are impressive enough to melt the heart of Anna Wintour.

MORE: World’s most glamorous Christmas store windows

Nuremberg, Germany

The Nuremberg Christmas market (Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt) is a German institution, pulling in more than 2 million visitors each year.

Highlights include a giant carved wooden Ferris wheel, old-fashioned carousel and steam train.

Unlike all those “fake” Christmas markets that have been popping up in the region, Nuremberg’s Christmas Market Council is serious about making sure only traditional handmade toys and holiday goods are sold.

No mass-produced plastic garlands here.

The market’s 200 select vendors also put up fantastic displays as they compete for the Most Beautiful Stall Design award.

The top three walk away with a gold, silver or bronze “Plum People” awards.

Adults can enjoy Nuremberg spicy gingerbread and mugs of mulled wine.

For kids, there’s the Toy Museum, while the German Railway Museum is a hit with everyone.

MORE: Are there too many ‘German’ Christmas markets?

Quebec City, Canada

If you’re the type who likes to celebrate Christmas around a tree made from recycled sheet metal, with lights powered by the pedaling of nearby cyclists, Quebec is your destination.

A haven for environmentally friendly, outdoor enthusiasts, the city bustles with activity, offering holiday programs for all tastes.

Modern-day Victorians can enjoy a candlelit evening of stories from Charles Dickens, recounting the Christmas traditions of yore.

Sausage and roast chestnut lovers can browse the wares at the German Christmas market.

The more religiously inclined can wander an exposition of nativity scenes from around the world.

The nearby Sentier des Caps de Charlevoix offers family-friendly hiking, snowshoeing and skiing, while speed devils can zoom around in a snowmobile from Nord Expe.

Reykjavik, Iceland

When it comes to Christmas celebrations, Iceland has a few peculiarities.

Among these, 13 “Yuletide Lads” (scruffy Santas) are said to bring gifts to nice children for the 13 nights leading to Christmas.

Rows of small, beautiful huts make up the Yule Town Christmas market on Ingólfstorg. Here, visitors can pick up colorful Christmas gifts, decorations and treats.

The shopping differs day to day as some craftsmen and designers set up stalls for only one day.

Beaming down onto a city covered in snow and Christmas lights, northern lights displays add to Reykjavik’s festival feel.

MORE: How to be a Reykjaviker: 8 ways to be cool in Iceland

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Piñatas, posadas and ponche sum up the festivities in this colorful Mexican city, where Christmas is both a solemn and celebratory affair.

Leading up to December 24, you’re likely to stumble upon Mary and Joseph strolling the streets, as locals make pilgrimages from home to home, singing to “ask for posada” or “beg for shelter” as they re-enact the journey to Bethlehem.

Piñatas and ponche (a mulled fruit drink) cap a long evening of peregrinations around this cobblestoned city, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its wealth of grand churches, well-preserved architecture and grand zocalos, or sweeping public squares, replete with romance and Old World charm.

Santa Claus, Indiana

Christmas is a year-round occasion in this town of fewer than 3,000 residents.

Santa Claus, Indiana, receives thousands of letters a year from children trying to reach St. Nick himself.

A group of volunteers called Santa’s Elves was set up in the mid-1930s to reply to each letter.

The Land of Lights display is a 1.2-mile drive around the Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort.

Among various Christmas-themed events, the Christmas Lake Golf Course offers wine tasting on December 14. Santa hosts a buffet dinner at the course lodge on Fridays leading up to Christmas.

Strasbourg, France

Strasbourg’s series of themed Christmas villages morph the city into a visual and gastronomic wonderland.

Visitors can head to the Village of Alsace Farmhouse to taste prune, apricot and other holiday-inspired variations of farm-fresh foie gras.

The nearby Village of Bredle is supplied with its namesake traditional Christmas biscuits and copious amounts of mulled Alsatian wine.

From the Strasbourg Philharmonic to gospel to Django Reinhardt-inspired gypsy jazz, Strasbourg’s Christmas program is packed with concerts and cultural events from Croatia, the guest country of Strasbourg’s Christmas celebrations this year.

MORE: 8 top Christmas markets in Europe

Valkenburg, The Netherlands

This small town is the Dutch center for Christmas festivities.

Valkenburg’s Velvet Cave is transformed into a Christmas Market and the residence of Santa, where visitors can see his room of presents and reindeer sleigh.

The cavern houses sculptures and an 18th-century chapel, as well as preserved mural drawings that date to Roman times.

Marlstone products and traditional Polish handicrafts are a few of the unique items exclusive to Valkenburg’s Christmas markets.

Best way to reach the Christmas town? A Christmas Express train that runs regularly between Simpelveld and Valkenburg.

MORE: 10 best cities for a winter vacation


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6 rights you have as an airline passenger

Source: Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The Air Passenger Bill of Rights is out and will take effect December 21.

As an airline passenger, these are the key things you need to know:

1. Offloaded baggage

If your checked-in baggage were offloaded from the flight you’re in due to “operational, safety, or security reasons,” the airline has to inform you ASAP, give you a report, and ensure that your offloaded baggage is carried in the next flight with available space.

The airline should deliver the baggage to you within an hour from the time the flight carrying your baggage arrives at your destination. The airline must pay you P2,000 for every 24 hours that your baggage is delayed. A fraction of a day shall be considered as one day.
2. Overbooked flights

An airline is allowed to overbook a flight — an industry practice of selling more than the seats the aircraft has, based on demand-supply for a specific flight — as long as the passengers who are bumped off do so voluntarily.

If you volunteer to choose a different flight, the airline will offer you compensation in the form of amenities or cash incentives.

If the number of volunteers is not enough to resolve the overbooking, the airline is mandated to increase the compensation package by adding more services until the required number of volunteers is met.

3. Airline promotions

All airlines have to outline their limitations and restrictions in both English and Filipino.

When advertising promotions, along with disclosing refund and rebooking policies, baggage allowance policies, government taxes and surcharges, other mandatory fees and charges, the airlines also have to include the number of seats offered.

4. Check-in

If you arrive within the designated check-in area at least one hour before the flight’s published time of departure, you will not be considered late and the carrier is obliged to make sure you are checked in within the deadline.

5. Flight cancellation

If your flight is cancelled, you have to be notified beforehand via public announcement or written notice such as through a text message.

If an air carrier cancels the flight because of force majeure, safety or security reasons the passenger shall have the right to be reimbursed for the full value of the fare.

6. Flight delays

In the case of delayed departures, airlines are required to provide free food, drinks, Internet access, phone use and, in extreme circumstances, hotel lodging until the flight departs.

Your flight is considered cancelled if it is delayed at least 6 hours after the original departure time. You have the right to be compensated accordingly. –


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Visa-free: Myanmar opens up to PH tourists

Source: Rappler – Visa-free: Myanmar opens up to PH tourists

MANILA, Philippines – Temples that date back to the 12th century, ancient carvings, and a former capital called the Garden City of the East. Time to see all these in Myanmar – visa-free for 14 days.


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The Travel List Challenge’s 100 Places to Visit Before You Die

The Travel List Challenge’s 100 Places to Visit Before You Die

The Travel List Challenge’s 100 Places to Visit Before You Die.  How many have you visited?

Ayers Rock

Ayers Rock

View the list here:

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The Philippines: a guide to the best islands

The Philippines: a guide to the best islands

Six of the country’s 7,000-plus islands were devastated by Typhoon Haiyan; many of the others badly need tourists to return. Local writer Aya Lowe picks the best places to go

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