I kicked off my flip-flops and dug my feet into the cool, soft sand. It was the first sunny morning in a week of stormy skies and sudden rainshowers, and I wanted to make the most of it. I sipped the warm, sweet taho that I bought from a roving vendor, then I settled my glass snugly into the sand before finding my own sweet spot.
In front of me, the high tide was carrying strong waves in a sea of teal and blue. From a distance, I could spy a woman running toward the sea with her dog; in another direction, there were two little boys hopping and crawling on the sand. There seemed to be only a handful of people around me—I was in Boracay Island, yes, yet there were no beach-going throngs, no ugly windbreakers blocking the view, no jarring sounds.
This is how it is in Diniwid Beach, White Beach’s quiet, unassuming “little cousin.”
This is an excerpt only. Read the full post in Rappler.com.
Note: A colleague of mine is traveling to Paris in a couple of weeks, which made me fish out my old Paris booklets and re-open this old published piece. I share it here in case anyone needs tips for getting to know Paris in just 24 short but sweet hours.
I have to admit: it was a rather foolish decision to make Paris only a short pit stop between my trip to Prague, Czech Republic, where I had spent a week on a scholarship program, and the French seaside town of La Rochelle, where I was set to make a long-awaited visit to friends. Divided into 20 arrondisements (administrative districts), Paris is certainly a city that takes days—even weeks—to fully explore and enjoy. Even with enough time and cash on your hands, you will never run out of new experiences to savor in the City of Lights.
Still, my itinerary specified that I had less than a full day to enjoy Paris, so with my (broken) luggage in tow and with my spirit resolute to make the most of my Parisian experience, I set off to explore the city like a soldier on a mission.
The must-sees: The Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysées and the Arc de Triomphe, the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur, the Paris Opera House, and the Musée Louvre
I planned my trip around courtesy calls to the royalty of Parisian monuments. From my hotel in rue Cambronne (on the light-green Nation-Charles de Gaulle Étoile metro line) I took a long, leisurely walk to the École Militaire, the military school whose walls still bear deep, visible scars from the Second World War. The école sits right across Champ de Mars, a large, expansive park from where you can get an unobstructed view of the Eiffel Tower. Although named after the Roman god of war, the park is tourist- and family- friendly and also boasts a large Wall of Peace.
After ogling at the Eiffel Tower and snapping away with my camera for about an hour or so, I found my way to the Invalides metro station to take the train to Avenue des Champs-Élysées (where I was lucky enough to catch the tail- end of the Tour de France). The strip is also the city’s shopping district, home to many of the world’s most famous brands such as Louis Vuitton, Maison Guerlain, Zara, Adidas, Benetton, Sephora, and even the Disney Store, among many others. during the summer months, almost all on sale-up to 70% off, during the summer months. Right at its end sits the tall and proud Arc de Triomphe, which Napoleon had commissioned in 1806 to celebrate the victories of his army. Completed in 1836, it had once been called by the French literary great Victor Hugo as “a heap of glory.”
Another must-see in Paris is the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur (Basilica of the Sacred Heart), commissioned by the National Assembly in 1873, supposedly in commemoration of the 58,000 lives that were lost during the uprising of the Paris Commune from 1870 to 1871. Sitting grandly at the top of the butte (hill) of Montmartre, the highest point in Paris, the Sacré-Coeur is a majestic testament to the beauty of Romano- Byzantine architecture and looks even more stunning and awe-inspiring at night. From the top of the hill, and aided by the light of the full moon, we also saw a beautiful view of the lit-up Eiffel Tower, which sparkles every hour at night until 2AM in the summer (1PM in the winter).
Getting to Montmartre usually involves taking the metro all the way to the Abbesses (green line) or the Anvers (blue line) metro station, by the northernmost part of the city, and then taking the funiculaire (an uphill tram) or walking up Montmartre’s famed steps. I was lucky enough, to have some friends fetch me from Champs-Élysées and drive me up the hill, saving me a lot of time and foot stress.
It was already on the next day when I had the opportunity to walk around by myself and take a look at the Paris Opera House and the Louvre. The Opera House (which is a main stop of the Roissybus from Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport and can also be reached via the Opera stop on the pink or lavender metro lines) was inaugurated under France’s Third Republic. Its main auditorium features a ceiling painted by Chagall, and its deep underground lake, discovered much to the chagrin of its architect, Charles Garnier, was one of the inspirations for Gaston Leroux’s immortal masterpiece, Phantom of the Opera.
From there, I took the pink metro line to meet the jewel of my Parisian trip, the Musée Louvre. Although friends had warned me about how you can lose yourself in there for days (and still not finish viewing all of its exhibitions!) and I had only a few hours left before my trip to La Rochelle, I could not resist at least taking a sneak peak. The Louvre was built as a fortress in the late 12th century, converted into a museum in 1793, and is home to Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and the ancient Greek sculpture Venus de Milo, among countless other masterpieces. It also houses collections of Western art from the Middle Ages to 1848, as well as collections of ancient Oriental, Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan, Roman, and Islamic art pieces.
A tip from the locals: to fully enjoy the Louvre, you must have enough time on your hands to spend an entire day there, maybe even two or three. The Museum offers free entrance every first Sunday of the month. Just be ready to spend hours just falling in line at the entrance!
What to eat and buy on a budget: art prints and chocolates, breads and cheese
Since I was in Paris on a student’s budget, my only real shopping agenda was to buy enough art prints for my modest art collection and enough souvenirs and chocolates to keep the folks at home happy. The night market at Montmartre revealed lots of great finds, with art and souvenir shops lined up side by side. Prints of masterpieces by Monet, Degas, Klimt, Van Gogh, and other great artists can be bought for as little as €3 each; replicas of the Eiffel Tower can be bought for as little as €1. You can also have your portrait done in just 20 minutes by the street artists that line the square.
Ironically, it was while at the Avenue de L’Opera, one of the most expensive strips in the city, where I was able to buy my prize catches of the trip. Within the Opera metro station, somewhere between the ticket offices and the magazine stands, stands a small shop that sells beautiful bags and other genuine leather goods for the fraction of the price at the branded boutiques. There I bought a large, 20-kilo piece of luggage (to replace my broken luggage with) and a beautiful leather bag for well under €100. I also stumbled upon La Cure Gourmand, a specialty candy and chocolate shop that won the Grand Prix Salon International Paris in 1997. (Want a sweet surprise? Try their “chocolate-flavored olives”!) Another great shop was Bretano’s, home of more art prints and specialty paper products, where I found a beautiful replica of Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss for only €99. (Sadly, I had to forego the purchase because of my already- overloaded suitcase.)
One other thing I love about Paris is the fact that you can find a chocolaterie, boulangerie, or patisserie practically at every street corner and, sometimes, just within striking distance of each other. My favorite European boulangerie, Paul, is found throughout the city and offers a wide variety of savory and sweet breads to satisfy any palate. (A must-try: the sesame baguette with camembert!) The breads are also filling enough to satisfy hungry tourists on a tight budget.
Even with limited time and budget, I made the most of my day in Paris by soaking up the sights and taking with me as much as my senses (and my wallet!) could allow. That experience proved that anything is possible in just 24 hours–if you open yourself up and allow the world to come in.
To the intrepid traveler in search of exotic sites and adventures, Russia is the perfect starting point for the trip of a lifetime.
Aside from being the largest country in the world, spanning two continents and covering 1/7 of the earth’s total land area, Russia is also home to some of the most awe-inspiring natural and manmade wonders on the planet. (Some of the most widely televised events in the world will be held there, such as the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in November and the July 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.)
If the mere thought of navigating your way through this vast territory overwhelms you, fear not. Here are some must-sees and dos to get you started.
This is an excerpt only. READ THE FULL PIECE through the Inquirer website, HERE.
MANILA, Philippines – Technology has drastically changed the way people travel. The ubiquity of smartphones and 24/7 connectivity, for instance, has allowed frequent fliers to use websites and mobile apps to book flights and accommodations, keep track of mileage points and other perks, share recommendations and reviews, and post photos in real time.
Conference sessions will include plenaries on travel and innovation, emerging trends in tourism development and marketing, “tweet tourism,” “Blue Ocean” strategies for tourism, as well as breakout sessions on eco-tourism and sustainable development, social media marketing and many others.
Note: I’ve always been a fan of Travel + Leisure–I even placed in one of my old dreamboards (ca. 2010) the desire to write for this magazine and to live the “travel + leisure lifestyle.” So you can only imagine how thrilled I am to finally be able to write for them, and to feature no less than one of my favorite Filipino brands, Rags2Riches. Happily sharing an excerpt here for all of you 🙂
Social enterprise Rags2Riches transformed the lowly foot rug into a high-fashion statement. By Niña Terol-Zialcita
A dumping ground hardly seems like the proper incubator for high fashion, but for Philippine brand Rags2Riches (R2R), it was the perfect jumping-off point for an “eco-ethical” revolution.
In Payatas, where half a million of Manila’s urban poor reside, scraps of cloth are turned into foot rugs and sold to traders for US$0.20 a day. Enter a group of young idealists out to change the lives of Payatas’s poor, an haute couture designer willing to make a difference, and the audacious goal of turning rags into coveted fashion items–and just like that a stylish social statement was born.
This is an excerpt only. To read the full article, grab a copy of Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia’s October 2013 issue.
To make a dream come true, some action is required. Creating a visual plan may be what you need to help you achieve your success goals.
/ by Niña Terol-Zialcita /
Much has been said and written about visualizing your goals in order to make them real. The late great Stephen Covey, whose Seven Habits of Highly Successful People has guided millions of driven individuals on the path of success, said it best when he said, “Begin with the end in mind.”
You need to know what success looks like for you to know when you’ve already achieved it—much like an architect needs to first create a blueprint, then a 3D rendition or a scale model, of the structure he or she wants to build before the actual construction takes place. Similarly, any traveler will need a map to locate his or her destination and to know the pit stops and potential pitfalls along the way.
It would be difficult to get exactly what you like or where you need to go if you don’t even know what it looks like.
The first step, then, to creating a blueprint or a map for your goals is to create a dreamboard.
MANILA, Philippines – Two Filipinos were among those named as Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World (TOYP), an annual search by the Junior Chamber International (JCI), otherwise known as the Jaycees.
They are Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, president of MicroVentures, a social enterprise known for the multi-award-winning program Hapinoy; and Dr. Edsel Maurice Salvaña, Assistant Director of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the National Institutes of Health, University of the Philippines Manila, also known for his work with HIV/AIDS patients in the Philippines.
Aquino and Salvaña are joining 8 other outstanding young individuals from Botswana, Catalonia, Ireland, Madagascar, the Maldives, the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe. They will be awarded at the JCI World Congress in Taipei, Taiwan on November 20, 2012.
This is an excerpt only. To read the full story, visit the Rappler website, HERE.
MANILA, Philippines – For its August 27, 2012 issue, international weekly magazine TIMEpays homage to smartphones and mobile devices in its first mobile technology issue that shows “10 ways” in which smartphones and other mobile devices such as the iPad are “changing the world.”
In a video welcoming readers to the issue (which can be accessed by scanning the images on the “Editor’s Desk” section with the TIME mobile app for iPhone and Android) editor Richard Stengel points out, “Our cover this week, in fact, is made up of images sent by you, via Instagram — more than 30,000 images from all over the world, all 7 continents.”
Mobile phone as professional camera
Scanning the cover, in turn, reveals another video. Here, photographer Michael Christopher Brown offers tips for taking good photos on a mobile phone.
“With a mobile phone on the street, if you want to photograph people candidly, you can get close and you can experiment. You can take pictures in new ways,” he says.
This is an excerpt only. To read the full story, visit the Rappler website, HERE.
Tokyoites borrow the most library books, Parisians are movie-obsessed and other cultural snapshots of the world’s biggest cities
Which city has the most nightclubs?
Which the most greenery?
Where should you go if you want to eat at a different restaurant every meal, forever?
The answers are São Paulo, Singapore and Tokyo, respectively.
But there’s much more to be gleaned from the recently released World Cities Culture Report, published under the auspices of the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, which looks at cultural indicators in 12 of the world’s largest metro areas.
This is an excerpt only. To read the full text, visit the CNNGo.com website, HERE.
MANILA, Philippines – Watching Jim Libiran’s movies and listening to him talk with passion about the impact he hopes his work will bring to marginalized communities, you begin to wonder if “filmmaker” is an apt word for the man in front of you, considering his past lives as activist, award-winning writer and Xerex Xaviera alter-ego.
Perhaps “social auteur” would be a better term.
Libiran, whose feature films Tribu (2007) and Happyland (2011) have revealed unique angles about urban poor communities in his beloved Tondo, believes that working on a film gives one not just an opportunity to show real people in real conditions (think “poverty porn”). To him, films offer a concrete channel to provide people and communities with jobs, with exposure and with a real shot at a second life.
He shares, “The question I wanted to ask myself was: how can a film impact a community here and now? Not after the film is made, not years from now, but here and now?”
This is an excerpt only. To read the full article, visit the Rappler.com website, HERE.