Saturday, 20 July 2019

Hotel and Inn Review: Crown Hotel (Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte)

Date of Stay: July 20-22, 2019

RATING (Scale of 1 to 10)
Location: ******
Rooms: ******
Condition and Cleanliness: *******
Staff Performance: *****
Room Comfort: ******
Food and Beverage:
Other Amenities: **
Value for Money: *****

Crown Hotel

This 2-storey, seemingly still brand new hotel has airconditioned rooms with 32” LED cable TV and private ensuite bathroom.  

The Single Room (PhP1,000++) has 2 single beds, the Matrimonial Room (PhP1,000++) has 1 double bed, the Family Room (PhP1,500++) has one double bed and 2 single beds,  the Superior Room (PhP1,800++) has 2 double beds and 1 single bed) and the Executive Room (PhP2,000++) has 2 queen-size beds.

Room 4 (Matrimonial Room)

Charges apply for extra beds (PhP150), pillows (PhP30), blankets (PhP30) and towels (PhP30).  

They offer airport and port transfers (PhP3,000).  The hotel has a secured parking area for guests and a roof deck at the second floor for outdoor functions. 

Reception Area

The hotel also has no food and beverage outlet but you can buy snacks and cold drinks at the Front Desk.   

Rooms have no complimentary bottled water but there's a water dispenser at the lobby for free hot or cold water. For meals, here is a nearby (around 500 m. away) Jollibee outlet as well as other eateries at the town proper.

Though quite new, some of the tiles at the reception were poorly installed and were now detached and creaking.  You have to watch your step lest you trip. 

Hotel entrance

Crown Hotel: Dipolog - Sindangan Regional Highway, Disud, Sindangan 7112, Zamboanga del Norte.  Tel: (065) 918-0794.  Mobile numbers:  Cel: (0916) 164-6684, (0935) 278-0034. (0912) 679-4717 and (0915) 096-5696.

Saturday, 8 June 2019

HISTORIA, CULINARIA, Y CULTURA: A Celebration of Philippine Independence Day Through Food, Fashion & Culture (Taal, Batangas)

Historia, Culinaria y Cultura

Last June 8, 2019, the 2-day HISTORIA, CULINARIA, Y CULTURA: A Celebration of Philippine Independence Day Through Food, Fashion & Culture, celebrated 121 years of Philippine Independence via a showcase of heritage food, fashion and culture in the historic heritage town of Taal in Batangas.

Sining sa Taal

The “Sining ng Taal” Art Exhibit, at Tampuhan Café, Galleria Taal and Casa Gahol, featured the artworks of Mr. Oliver Y. Roxas (artist and designer), Mr. Randy Roa (visual artist), Mr. Jose Alain Austria (history professor and self-taught artist), Ms. Robelyn C. Canto (babaylan of the Manobo tribe noted for her hand embroidery), decoupage and collage queen Ms. Arlene F. Barbaza (of Artefact & Ressurection Furniture), Mr. Binggoy De Ocampo (Ressurection and Found Objects gallery owner), Mr. Lawton Ladao (a Bulakeno artist called the "Illustrator of Memories") and Mr. Herminio Tan (a sculptor who transforms bones into wearable art).

Taal Mayor Fulgencio "Pong" Mercado and Theo Arnold cutting the ceremonial
ribbon opening the "Sining sa Taal" art exhibit

The opening and ribbon cutting was graced by Taal Mayor Fulgencio “Pong” I. Mercado, former Ambassador of the Netherlands to the Philippines Theo Arnold,  acclaimed fashion designer Mr. Lito Perez, Mr. Oliver Roxas, Mr. Jay Bato-on, Mr. Rogie Reyes, Mr. Nathan De Leon, Ms. Mildred V. Vitangcol (Chairman of the Board of St. Peter Life Plan, Inc.), Ms. Beth Victoria (Publisher of Bravo Filipino Magazine) and Mr. Zardo Austria (cultural arts and fashion impresario).

Guests at the opening
Guests posing in period attire

The Historia aspect, aiming to educate visitors on interesting and little known facts about Philippine significant segments in Philippine history, particularly on the aspects of art and architecture, featured the following activities:
  • Talks by experts on Philippine History Art and Architecture
  • “Camino de Taal” are guided tours to historical places and heritage houses in Taal —especially the houses of illustrious Filipino families that have helped achieve Filipino nationhood.
  • Film showings featuring momentous period films that showcase the skill and soul of noted Filipino filmmakers.
  • “Kasaysayan sa Kanto,” a 2-day Photo Contest (by Kanto Salted Caramel Vodka) where amateur and professional photographers will display their snapshots of Taal’s historical places.

Kasaysayan sa Kanto

The Culinaria aspect will featured the following activities:
  • Pop Up Lunch highlighting Culinaria Filipina.  Here the Malolos Congress menu (Package Cost: PhP3,500) will be recreated and served in Villa Tortuga, one of Taal’s ancestral houses.  Dining in 19th century splendor, attendees will be required to put on full period costume.
  • 2-day Calle Tienda Crafts and Food Fair, held at Taal’s Social Plaza (Calle Mariño-Agoncillo), will feature food stalls serving local and fusion Filipino delicacies and artisanal crafts.
  • Food demos, along Calle Jose Diokno, where topnotch Filipino culinary artists will conduct demos on popular Filipino delicacies, traditional cuisine, and long-lost heritage menus.

1899 Malolos Congress Menu
Kundiman ng Lahi

Cultura, the distinctive Filipino culture which marries Western and Eastern influences into one fluid and vibrant way of life, became the inspiration of 3 centerpiece events namely:
  • The “Mutya at Ginoo ng Kultura,” the first ever search for the male and female ambassadors who embody Filipino cultural ideals and promote heritage tourism by advocating the preservation and conservation of local culture.
  • The “Kundiman ng Lahi” is a concert, in cooperation with the Lyric Opera of the Philippines (LyrOpera), of well-loved Filipino music (featuring performers Ana Feleo, Randy Gilongco, Mary Patrice Pacis, Tonton Pascual, Mheco Manlangit, Carlo Miguel Bunyi and pianist Peter Porticos) that highlights the different aspects of the Filipino psyche.
  • The grand “Historia en La Moda,” a fitting finale, is a fashion exposition gala that traces the evolution of traditional Filipino attire from Pre-Hispanic times to the genteel days of the Pre-World War II era.  It will feature the masterful creations of Manila’s top fashion designers (Lito Perez, Ditta Sandico, Edgar Madamba, Allesandro Sy, etc.) as they capture the transformations of the Philippine traditional wear.

Historia en la Moda

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Hotel and Inn Review: Huanying Hotel (Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro)

Date of Stay: April 27-28, 2019

RATING (Scale of 1 to 10)
Location: *********
Rooms: *********
Condition and Cleanliness: **********
Staff Performance: *********
Room Comfort: **********
Food and Beverage: *****
Other Amenities: ******
Value for Money: ********

Huanying Hotel

Huanying Hotel, the newest budget hotel in Calapan (opened May 2017), has airconditioned rooms with electronic door lock system, 40" flat screen LED TV with cable channels, 8” mattresses with luxurious beddings and linens and very spacious and elegant bathroom with granite countertop, hot and cold water, rainshower head and free toiletries.

The Deluxe Twin Room (PhP1,800) comes with 2 twin-sized beds while the Deluxe Queen Room (PhP1,600) comes with one queen-sized bed.  Breakfast (Filipino and Continental) is included in the rates. 

The entrance to the hotel is at the ground floor but the Front Desk, reception  area and rooms are on the second floor.

Front Desk

The hotel also has a 24/7 standby generator and safe and secure parking is available.   Snacks, cold drinks and souvenir items are sold at the reception area.

The hotel also offers a variety of massage services (Signature Massage, Shiatsu Massage, Aromatherapy Massage, Balinese Massage, Swedish Massage and Hand and Foot Massage).

Deluxe Twin Room

The rooms were chic, very clean and nice while the staff was very friendly.  The rooms and bathrooms are windowless so don't expect any natural lighting and ventilation.

The chicken longanisa meal (with brewed coffee) we had for breakfast was tasty.  Breakfast was served inside our rooms.  The advertised free WIFI here was spotty at best.  

Located in the heart of the city, it is near the Calapan Public Market and is very accessible to different modes of transportation.

Huanying Hotel: 8 Juan Luna St., Brgy.San Vicente Central, Calapan City 5200. Tel: (043) 288-8499. Mobile numbers: (0945) 269-7513 (Globe) and (0949) 440-1168 (Smart). E-mail: Website:

Resort Feature: La Hacienda Naujan (Oriental Mindoro)

La Hacienda Naujan - Villa Hermana

This picturesque, 26-hectare Balinese inspired private resort, once a family hideaway for personal healing, meditation and retreat, was formerly known as Fitta's Eden Resort and now has themed private villas with personal butler services. 

Fritta's Eden - the two-storey family house (photo: La Hacienda Facebook page)

The two 25 sq. m. single-detached villas (Kalaw and Dalupan, good for four people, PhP7,200/night) and two 30 sq. m. duplex with loft (Avocado and Champaca, good for eight persons, PhP9,000/night), are all fitted with modern furnishings with touches of traditional Filipino elements. 

Fitta’s Eden, the resort’s signature two-storey, 2-pax  family house (PhP10,000/night), has a well-manicured garden and a balcony overlooking verdant farm and mountains. 
The swimming pool with outdoor spa and sauna

Each non-smoking airconditioned room comes with a 32" flat-screen TV and media player.  

The private ensuite bath has a hot and cold shower and bidet with bath robes, slippers and free toiletries provided.

The three-tiered circular fountain

The pathway leading to Villa Hermana, the main house and the first and original structure of the resort, is adorned with lovely Balinese statues. 

Villa Hermana houses the registration area, lobby, entertainment and game room (darts, billiards, etc.). In front is a beautiful, three-tiered circular fountain. Free WiFi and private parking is available on site.

Lobby of Villa Hermana

The huge outdoor swimming pool, one of the main attractions of the resort, has an outdoor spa (Facessence) and sauna. 

Plaza Nanos, a stand-alone function hall, is a good venue for intimate weddings or parties. 

One of the villas (photo: La Hacienda Facebook page)

There’s also a vast garden, a fine dining restaurant (Casa Comida), a communal lounge/TV room, videoke and a private beach area (a 15-min. drive from the resort). 

Horses, goats and sheep roam unrestrained around the ranch. The resort also offers free use of bicycles, safety deposit boxes, mini golf, shuttle service (surcharge) and massage.

Plaza Nanos (photo: La Hacienda Facebook page)

La Hacienda Naujan:  San Agustin-Bancuro Rd., Brgy. Bancuro, Naujan 5204. Mobile number: (0999) 996-3611. Website:  Coordinates:   13°16'33"N   121°18'34"E.