Saturday, February 18, 2017

Vivere Hotel, Alabang, Muntinlupa City

I have been to Vivere Hotel in Alabang, Muntinlupa City twice to attend two big conferences sponsored by the Rotary Club of Muntinlupa North + PCCI Muntinlupa + Muntinlupa City government. The first was a forum on ASEAN economic integration last year, the second was last February 02 during the forum on Federalism. They have a nice, colorful grand ballroom on the 2nd floor, the two events were held there.

This photo at the ballroom was during the Federalism forum. I was not a speaker but I made the synthesis of the presentations and arguments by the five speakers. To my right are 3 of the 5 speakers and to my left is Elvie Sanchez-Quiazon, President of the Rotary Club and PCCI-Muntinlupa, also the hotel's General Manager. See also my article in BusinessWorld, "Should we go federal or not?" where I mentioned the forum.

Aside from the Certificate of Appreciation, there was a gift for all resource speakers, the forum moderator and the synthesis speaker (me) -- a gift certificate (GC) for an overnight stay at the hotel, executive suite. A suite! I was very happy and thankful of Elvie.

I thought a one night stay in a suite would be "bitin", my family especially my two girls would crave for more, so I reserved a two nights stay, will pay the 1st night, use the GC on the 2nd night. Elvie gave me a modest discount for the 1st night, cool.

So we are staying at the hotel, Friday to Sunday (tomorrow). Our room with tv, and sala with tv....


My work area (I have two short papers to finish this weekend, "staycation" for me) with a small bed behind, and a view from the sala and room -- the neighbor hotel, Festival Mall, other buildings and houses towards the Laguna Lake.

The elevators and our door on the 23rd floor.

Good view on the hallways, the rooms are on four sides and there is an open space in the middle. Looking down from the 23rd floor, and looking up from the 8th floor. There are nets every 5 or 6 floors, which are good in case there are some suicidal guests...


On the 8th floor are the playroom for kids, and jacuzzi. The playroom, my two girls used it for a few minutes.


The jacuzzi, very nice. There is tv while dipping in the hot water. There is shower inside, and a small sala.


The elevator has mirror on all four sides. And outside the elevator on the 31st floor.

The swimming pool on the 4th floor. Around 10am today, we dipped at the pool, the water was very cold, I got out of the water after a few minutes. But the two girls enjoyed the water.


An art work with a mirror behind, hallway of the pool.


Enough for now. Part 2 will be about The Nest, rooftop resto and bar, and the structures around the hotel. I like this hotel, recommending this to my friends and blog readers.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Leela Mumbai, India

My first time to set foot in India, I went to Mumbai last week for the Asia Liberty Forum (ALF), stayed there February 9-11 evening, flew back to Manila afternoon of February 12. Nice and grand hotel.

This area is behind the hotel lobby and reception area. With a small cascading water gently flowing.


The reception area, and nice colorful fresh flowers in front of three elevators.


The hallway on the 3rd floor....

Leading to my room. I like my bed.


My work area with tv, my bathroom is very neat and cool.


The multi-curve swimming pool.

The artificial waterfalls not far from the pool area. And an aerial view of the hotel, from their official website.

Thank you, Economic Freedom Network (EFN) Asia for the travel grant to attend the ALF and see parts of Mumbai.

Lakawon island resort, Cadiz City, Negros Occidental

Lakawon Resort is a tiny island, part of Barangay Cadiz Viejo, Cadiz City, Negros Occidental. I am from Cadiz City and the first time I went there was about 15-20 years ago, beautiful white sand island but no facilities, people just ride a boat and swim there, then go back in the afternoon. Some houses for a small fishing village.

Now things are different. Lakawon is now famous in fb and other social media. So last December, I brought my family there. 

View from the bridge. At high tide, the boats can dock at the beach but at low tide, they cannot so they dock at the end of this bridge and people walk to the island.


Huts and cottages for day visitors (they leave by 5pm)

Restaurant. Waiters and waitresses are not that trained well for the job though, they can rattle when there are too many customers ordering food, asking for water/drinks, get the bill, pay the bill, etc. so have patience. Beer is P60/bottle. Everything is "imported" from Negros mainland to this island, including drinking water.

Events/volleyball area. Below, open space between the aircon rooms and the restaurant, cottages area.

P3,500 per night. With two extra pull out beds, nice air-con, cable tv, but no own bathroom, series of bathrooms outside, which is also good so that people don't bring the sand and dirt from their feet inside the room. The two girls enjoyed the room.

There are nipa huts, P2,500/night with two beds, electric fan (no aircon). 

At the other side of the beach, high tide. Note the other islands farther away, either they are parts of Negros or Panay islands.

Morning, low tide. The "floating bar" seen from afar. This part is not deep enough for swimming even during high tide, 2-3 ft only and there are many small sharp stones or seagrasses.

The bridge at low tide, and at night.


The locals. The few families that used to live in the island were relocated to Cadiz Viejo mainland and they were given jobs. The resort hires lots of people -- waiters/waitresses/cashiers, cooks, room cleaners, construction workers, boatmen, etc. It should be the biggest employer in the whole barrio now, among the biggest in Cadiz.

It should be costly to develop this island. Everything like construction materials -- steel, cement, sand, tiles, roof, wood, etc. -- plus beds, food, water, LPG, etc. have to be brought from Negros mainland to the island by trucks then boats, then carried manually by the workers.

Electricity, despite being off-grid, it has 24/7 electricity from its diesel-powered genset. It should be far away because it cannot be heard humming even at night time.

Fees per head. The pumpboat fee covers 2-way, does not include boat ride to the floating bar, another P250/head 2-way ride with . If bringing food, corkage fee P50 or 75/head.

How to go there: From Bacolod City, go north and pass by the cities of Talisay, Silay, EB Magalona, Victorias, Manapla then Cadiz border. Brgy Caduhaan, then Brgy Cadiz Viejo, left at a small bus terminal, cemented barangay road about 3-4 kms.

From the airport in Silay City, you skip Bacolod and Talisay city proper, If coming from Iloilo or other provinces of Panay, better bring your car via RORO. Otherwise, it's taxi from the boat to Ceres bus terminal then bus then tricycle.

Those fees are a bit pricey, I won't go back there again in the next few years and would rather explore other parts of Negros. Nonetheless, for those living in Negros, the island is a cheaper substitute to see white sand beach and nice facilities than going to Boracay island (Aklan province) or Guimaras. If the fees are made higher, the resort will get less visitors, they will lose money. If they charge too low, the island will be swarmed by thousands daily, it will become ugly and the environmentalists will complain.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Mumbai Airport, India

First time that I set foot in India was last Thursday, February 09, Mumbai airport. My flight was Manila-Bangkok (PAL, about 3:10 hours) and Bangkok-Mumbai (Jet Airways, 4+ hours). Conference at The Leela Mumbai February 10-11, then I flew back to Manila February 12.

Huge, modern building. Not as big as the airports of Thailand or Singapore or Malaysia or HK or S. Korea but it's big and modern enough. There are many flights too.

The ceiling, check in area.

Our departure, Mum-Bkk was at Gate 75. Walk to the end of this hall...

Go further via an escalator.

But there is no free internet. There are wide screen computers near the departure lounges, I don't know how much is the fee per hour.

Plenty of shops inside the terminal too.

I like these ceiling decorations that host the bulbs.

Our plane to Bangkok was a medium-size plane, a B-737 perhaps. We were already inside the plane but for about half-hour, the plane would not move out of the tube, later the pilot announced that we have to deplane because they have to fix one engine.

So we got out of the plane but instead of walking back to the tube towards the departure lounge, we went through the arrival area, we were issued another boarding pass, went through another security check, escalator up to the departure area, walked back to Gate 75, we were given free lunch at Indiana cafe, short rest and we boarded again the same plane.

Right side of the terminal in this photo is the airport entrance. Airport security is rather strict. Passengers go through an X-ray machine but it seems useless because security officers still manually check all passengers with a metal detector + body frisks, from shoulder and arms down to the legs.