The BenCab Museum

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Bencab Museum

Is it too much to say that I dream of a nail art museum? I think that would be wonderful. I hope my work will be displayed there if deemed worthy by the curators. This post however, is not about nail art. But it is about a museum in Benguet, Philippines called the Bencab Museum. It's about 20 minutes by cab from Baguio City in moderate traffic.



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A Pleasant Surprise by Sage Cafe in Baguio City

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Sage Cafe, Baguio City

Sage Cafe (pronounced as saj) is a recently opened restaurant in Baguio City and it's a place to rave about.

I honestly didn't know what to expect when we got there. But the surprise was amazing. The place is refreshing with its colorful yet homey interior. If you like a laid back dining experience, Sage Cafe is a must when you visit the City of Pines.



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Davao Crocodile Park

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I finally got to visit Davao last month with my mom and sister. During our first day, we decided to explore the city. The famous Davao Crocodile Park was our first pitstop before lunch.

It was a Friday when we visited the park and the place was crowded. It was hard to enjoy the park on a busy day. Weekdays are perhaps the best days to visit. The park charges an entrance fee of Php150 ($3.5) for adults and Php75 ($1.7) for children ages 12 and below.



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A Flat Tire

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My dad taught me how to drive when I was 17. I have been driving ever since and although it surprises a lot of people I know, driving has been one of the things that I enjoy doing. Of course that excludes Manila traffic. But to seat behind a wheel and be in total control is a priceless feeling. This is probably the reason why I enjoy long drives. It helps me clear my head.



I am sad to say that society still hold biases against lady drivers. We are often branded as the weaker link when it comes to driving skills. In my more than 10 years of driving experience, I have witnessed male incompetent drivers. I have always strive to prove those that look down upon women drivers by not just knowing the skill. My dad use to tell me that driving does not only entail knowing how to operate a car. It also entails understanding how a car works. I thank my dad for making sure I keep that principle in mind because a few weeks ago, my car had a flat tire and I was not completely helpless.






Reserved tire installed in rear, driver side.



I was on my way home on a Sunday evening when I suddenly felt that something was wrong with the car. It was harder to control. I knew then that I had a flat tire. But I was on a flyover and thought that it was not safe for me to stop there. And so, even though it is NOT advisable to drive with a flat tire, I had to until I reached a safer place. That night, I was very near a gasoline station so I opted to crawl the car there. This is very important especially when you are by yourself.



My petite frame limits me from changing a flat tire all by myself. I simply cannot lift a tire without breaking a bone, seriously. This is the reason that I enroll the car I normally drive to a roadside service provider so I could get assistance whenever I encounter a car problem on the road. I am currently a member of Wheelers Club International. They never failed me until my latest car emergency where I couldn't reach their hotline. I had no other choice but to ask help from some of the staff at the gas station.



However, the 2 male personnel that assisted me didn't exactly know how to change a flat tire. This is the reason why it is important to know at least the basics on car troubleshooting. Thanks to my dad who taught me how to change a flat tire, I was able to guide those that were helping me.






Changing a flat tire.



I wish I could have recorded on video how to change a flat tire but I was alone and needed to attend to other important things. Here's a guide on how to change a flat tire:

  1. Park the car in a safe area, away from passing traffic. Make sure the car in on a leveled ground. You really don't want to change a flat tire on an inclined surface.

  2. Get your jack, car tools, and tire reserve out of the car.

  3. Loosen the bolts of the flat tire. Loosen only, do not completely remove them yet.

  4. Jack up the car until the flat tire is lifted off the ground. Make sure any part of your body is safe just in case the car suddenly collapses.

  5. Completely remove the tire bolts. Set them aside on a safe place.

  6. Remove the flat tire.

  7. Install the spare tire.

  8. Attached the bolts. Make sure they are tight enough.

  9. Lower the car and remove the jack.

  10. Tighten the bolts again to make sure the wheel is fully secured.






The culprit, a 1.5cm long bent metal.



I brought the flat tire to a vulcanizing shop the following morning and found that a small nail-like metal was the cause of the flat tire. Fortunately, the damage was easily repaired and I am still thankful that it didn't cause my tire to just burst. That would have been more dangerous for me.






Flat tire repaired.



A few reminders:

  • Always have a jack and other essential car tools. You'll never know when you'll need them. And make sure all are in good working condition.

  • A flashlight is very handy, especially when your mishap happens in the evening.

  • Make sure the pressure of the tire reserve is correct. It is useless to change a flat tire with a flat reserve.

  • Know where to properly place the jack by reading the car's manual. This is crucial because there are specific jacking points on any car that can carry its weight when being lifted by a jack. If the jack is placed improperly, the car can collapse and you definitely do not want that.

  • Make sure the hand brake is up when changing a flat tire. This will prevent your car from rolling while it is being fixed.

  • The spare tire is not meant for prolonged use so immediately have the flat tire checked and fixed.



Experiences like this should not deem us (girls, most especially) helpless. If we are physically not capable, help will always be around. However, help comes in different forms. Sometimes, we need to help those that are willing to lend us a hand. Remember that driving entails more than just acquiring the skill.







P.S. Thanks to my parents who came to my aid because my jack was broken. I couldn't contact my roadside service provider and the gasoline station I went to didn't want to lend me their jack.




A Virgin Joins S3X Tour Tres – Day 04

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It's the last day of the Soccsksargen Experience Tour 3 and we still had a lot more to experience and explore. Wake up call was still before sunrise but it was an exciting day, for me, at least. It was the day we will visit the fish port in General Santos (Gensan) and I was looking forward to it. It was actually our first pitstop. We had to be there before breakfast since the port becomes really busy as early as 6am and it would be a worthy experience to catch just that.






Group photo at General Santos Fish Port



Gensan is the Philippine's tuna capital as the city houses the largest processing and landings of tuna in the country. Thanks to tuna abundant bodies of water that surrounds the city. For further details, please refer to my post entitled The Tuna Capital.



Breakfast was next on our list. The group were ushered by Avel Manansala, our host for the Soccsksargen Experience Tour to Gamay Eatery. It is located at Lanoy, Calumpang in General Santos City and is well-known for its Balbacua.






Balbacua at Gamay Eatery



Thank you to owners Cesar "Gamay" Garaygay and Mary Jane Garaygay for our interesting breakfast.



The group proceeded to Big Glory Bay Salmon & Seafood Company, Inc. in Purok Saydala, Barangay Tambler, General Santos City after breakfast. As of this posting, it is the Asia's most modern salmon processing plant. It is also the first in the Philippines. We had the privilege of sampling various salmon goods courtesy of Assistant Plant Manager Salvador Magbanua, Jr.






We had to wear lab gowns and boots during our tour inside the Salmon Processing Plant



It was particularly cold inside the plant. We were literally inside a giant freezer. My very petite frame was useless to the chill. But everyone were amazed on how clean the facilities are. We were fortunate to have been given a chance to see another first for the country. I bought a few salmons for my family and my father particularly enjoyed it. Will have to buy more on my next visit.



Lunch was calling when we got out of Big Glory and chicken was in the menu. My favorite! We went to Beestop, located at RD Building, Santiago Boulevard, Gensan. No, they don't serve bees. Instead, they offer very affordable chicken meals!






Beestop Restaurant



Their garlic fried chicken is a must-try. Single meals cost Php50 and includes a cup of rice! They also serve snacks like spaghetti and sandwiches. Pancit is also available. Choose from canton, sotanghon, or bihon. Order fruit shakes and ice cream to complete your meal.



Lunch was courtesy of Beestop owner, Charlene Enriquez. For further details, you may visit the Beestop Facebook.



We had a few hours to spare before dinner so the group went to relax at Robinson's Place while we wait for the tuna float parade. Some explored the mall, others took a nap, and the rest chatted away over drinks. We also got the chance to take photos of the floats that were parked in the mall's parking area before the start of the parade.






A few tuna floats waiting for the street parade to start.



The parade didn't start on time and we couldn't wait longer so we decided to catch it later and proceeded to our two-part dinner. Yes, we ate dinner twice and no one complained! Delicious food is always welcome. Our first dinner stop was at Asian Tongue, that serves Asian cuisines.






Asian Tongue



Visit Asian Tongue at Roxas East Avenue, General Santos City. It is right across DSWD, Oval. Dinner was courtesy of restaurant manager, Vince Blanco. Here's an important reminder: Their sisig is a bestseller. Make sure you order one on your next visit. We had one on the table where I was sitting. When picture taking ended, I stood up for a few minutes to get some vegetables on the other table. When I returned, the sisig plate was literally empty! I, and a fellow blogger who was sitting beside me had 1/4 of a spoon filled sisig to taste!



We decided to walk to our next dinner destination to give our tummies a chance to digest that delicious courses we just ate. Sydney Hotel was our last pitstop for the Soccsksargen Experience Tour 3 ... and our 2nd dinner stop. Thank you to hotel manager, Elmar Fabiala for our dinner.



The group dined on the rooftop and was lucky at that because we had a good view of the tuna float parade when it reached the area. Too bad for my camera that has a poor zooming power. The floats looked magnificent with all the lights decorations.



The day after, I went back home and brought with me all the good memories, experiences, and new friendships I gained during the Soccsksargen Experience Tour 3. From the bottom of my heart, I'd like to say thank you to brothers Orman Manansala and Avel Manansala, in cooperation with the Sox Bloggers, for giving me the chance to participate in this 4-day event.




The Tuna Capital

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A confession is in order. It is a stupid mistake that I have not listed General Santos City as a place to travel. My father would love this city simply because he loves tuna and General Santos City or Gensan as it is fondly called, is the Tuna Capital of the Philippines. Thanks to the recently concluded Soccsksargen Experience Tour 3, I was able to experience the city during the annual Tuna Festival that happens every September.



It was the last day of the tour and all woke up early to visit the Fish Port Complex. I tried to hide my enthusiasm, but I was really looking forward to this. Having known that Gensan is one of the largest supplier of fresh and quality tuna around the globe was enough to entice me to witness this Pinoy feat in action.






Tuna and more tunas!



One of our gracious hosts, Avel Manansala is actually known in the blogosphere as Bariles, the Filipino word for Tuna. He gave us prior instructions to wear jeans, a policy implemented inside the Fish Port. When we arrived, we were immediately asked to take off our shoes and put on this white boots:






classy white outdoor boots



My feet are relatively small and even the smallest pair of boots were too big for me. Regardless, I got the hang of it after a few steps. For hygienic purposes, I recommend wearing socks. I would also suggest to bring an extra shirt as you may get fish blood on your clothes.






These shoes are not for sale.



After a brief introduction, we were off to the docks!



The port becomes busy as early as 4am. I can only imagine how early fishermen have to be at sea to catch all those tuna! I learned that there are different types of tuna and General Santos is known to house the largest processing and landings of the yellow fin tuna. What makes this more amazing is the fact that the yellow fin avoids dirty water that makes this tuna more fit for consumption. This is why many countries opt to buy them.






Yellow fin tunas at General Santos Fish Port Complex



Everyday, fishermen bring in their catch of tuna as several trading companies await in the port and are on constant lookout for the best quality tuna to buy. In a matter of hours, these fresh tuna are either transported to their respective buyers or processed.



During our visit, I saw agents carrying a long and thin metal stick that they use to poke a tuna to determine its quality. The more consistent the meat color, the higher the quality. Cool!






The sight of tunas is overwhelming!



Gensan has been blessed to have been situated very near tuna abundant bodies of water such as the Moro Gulf, Sulu Sea, Mindanao Sea and Celebes Sea. Apart from this, modern facilities and an airport makes the city more attractive to international buyers. Before the morning ends, tunas that are meant for export are quickly packed and catches the morning flight of PAL (Philippine Airlines). Now, that is fast!






Transporting tunas!



Once sold, tunas leave the port immediately depending on the nature of purchase. Those that are meant for the local market or for processing were cleaned first then frozen in a matter of minutes by simply emerging them in a container full of dry ice. They are then loaded inside a vehicle that are especially insulated to keep the fishes frozen until it reaches their final destination. Those for export goes directly to the airport after packaging. I was personally amazed.






Me, beside a yellow fin tuna being weighed.



Truly, our visit to the Fish Port Complex has been one of the personal highlights of the Soccsksargen Experience Tour 3. The experience makes me a prouder Filipino. I know I have yet to discover more amazing things about the Philippines, and I am happy to have unraveled the wonderful chaos at the General Santos City Fish Port. If you are traveling to the south and find yourself in Gensan, I recommend you don't miss the opportunity to at least have a glimpse of the port.



I shall end this post with a fact: I weigh less than the tuna!




Richeva Gensan Suites

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Regardless the fact that I am used to being alone, I was a little nervous staying in a hotel room all by myself during the Soccsksargen Experience Tour 3. It was a first for me, during an out of town trip.



Most of the participants of the tour stayed at various hotels within General Santos City. I chose to stay at Richeva Gensan Suites, that is located at 11 Sampaguita St. It is relatively new, opened only last April 2011. I stayed here for 5 nights and the experience was satisfactory.






Richeva Gensan Suites
Richeva Gensan Suites



Richeva Gensan Suites is strategically located. It is near the national highway, City Hall, and several malls within General Santos City. It houses 26 rooms, a coffee shop, has a smoking and non-smoking lounge areas, and offers secured parking space for visitors with cars.



Rooms available are:


  • Superior Room Matrimonial - Php950

  • Superior Room Twin Bed - Php950

  • Suite Room - Php1450


Amenities include:


  • LCD TV with cable channels

  • Fully airconditioned rooms

  • Hot and Cold Shower

  • FREE Wifi or Internet Access on all rooms and lounge

  • 24 Hours Room Service

  • Standby Generator

  • Complimentary Breakfast


I stayed at Room 207, a superior room and requested for a matrimonial bed instead of 2 single beds. The rate is the same for single and double occupancy.



My experience with Richeva Gensan Suites has its ups and downs.



Thumbs down experiences:


  • Reservations - I called the hotel 2 weeks prior to my scheduled arrival to make room reservations. I rang them 2 days before my arrival and was disappointed that the personnel at the concierge could not find my name in the guest book. The Soccsksargen Experience Tour 3 was happening alongside the annual Tuna Festival and I knew it would be hard to find another hotel by then. I was persistent until the staff found my name on the guest list. Apparently, there was a slight confusion as to how my name was written.

    A Suggestion: Full names of guests should be written on the reservations logbook. Mine only got abbreviated. During the phone confirmation, the personnel kept looking for "Rina", only to find out I was listed as "R. Alcantara". Perhaps a computerized guest list would deem more efficient.





  • Richeva Gensan Suites
    Superior Room Matrimonial



  • No Complimentary Drinking Water - I was expecting this considering the room rates that Richeva Gensan Suites is offering. Alas, there was none and when I requested for one, they wanted to charge me for it. They offered me a small pitcher with their own distilled drinking water to satisfy my request. That was good enough for me.


  • No Credits - As of this posting, the hotel does not accept credit cards for payments. I personally didn't expect it. I find it really convenient to pay with a credit card, especially during travels to avoid bringing a lot of money.


    Note to self: Always inquire if hotels accept credit card payments during reservations.


  • Extra Bed - I requested for an extra during my last night at Richeva because 2 friends decided to join me. As we arrived in the evening, we just saw the mattress leaning against the wall. How much effort would it take to move the matrimonial bed to the side and lay the extra mattress beside it?


  • For Sale - Almost everything comes with a price. Complimentary drinking water is available for a fee. Defeats the purpose of being complimentary, right? An additional towel is Php50, same with asking for an additional blanket.





Richeva Gensan Suites
Superior Room Matrimonial



Thumbs up experiences:


  • Personnel - Richeva Gensan Suites have a very friendly and accommodating staff. There wasn't a day that I wasn't greeted with a smile and a friendly remark. Even the security guards were very helpful and kind. Even the concierge that I talked to over the phone during the confusion over my reservations was cordial regardless of my frustrations.


  • Clean - Everything was neat and clean! They will not clean your room unless you request for it. I only asked a day before I leave to make sure the room was freshly cleaned for my friends.


  • Peace and Quiet - The neighborhood is peaceful as Richeva Gensan Suites is located within a residential area. It was surprisingly appealing to me. If you are looking for a quiet place to stay in General Santos City, away from the busy streets, this is a good place for you. The S3X Tres Tour always had a fun-filled day. We start our day early and come back quite late. The peaceful atmosphere in the hotel made it easy for me to get a good sleep despite the few hours of slumber.



For reservations and further details, please visit Richeva Gensan Suites Facebook Page. More pictures of the hotel are uploaded in their albums. You may contact them directly for inquiries and reservations at tel. no. (083)5540410 or at their mobile nos. 09197936227 and 09323753001. You may also email them at gensansuites@gmail.com