Exploring Athens With The Help of My RCBC Savings Debit MasterCard

Europe, Greece, review, Travel Accessories, Uncategorized

With cheaper tickets,  different ways of transportation and accommodation, global travel is becoming more and more possible for everyone. All you need is enough wanderlust and courage, to pack your bags and take the first flight out of your city.  Before you know it, you are finally traveling the world, and fulfilling your lifelong travel bucket list.

Traveling across the globe requires enough preparation and research on cheap flights, best connections and cost-efficient hotels or hostels. Lastly, you will also need sufficient budget to crisscross the world. You need dependable financial instruments that can help take you to your dream travel destinations.

Credit cards are a given. But did you know that using EMV-powered debit cards are now the most convenient way to travel.


My RCBC Savings Debit Mastercard

I recently traveled to Europe, and as part of my preparation, I applied for an RCBC Savings Debit MasterCard to take with me abroad.

The RCBC Savings Debit Mstercard is a powerful card that that comes with you savings or checking account. But more than just an ATM, it is also a card that enables you to make point of sale payments and online purchases similar to a credit card, thanks to its EMV-chip technology feature.

I realized that aside my usual credit card, I can easily use my debit card to make purchases without having to withdraw money from ATMs across Europe.

So, you have to ask. How powerful is your RCBC Savings Debit Mastercard? As I found out, it is actually very powerful and convenient.

A Handy Partner in Athens 

Greece was the first stop of my European adventure and I flew from Manila to Athens via Istanbul, Turkey. But instead of going straight to Santorini, like most other travelers and tourist do, I decided to have a 10-hour exploration of this historic city.

After all, Athens is host to some of the most important archaeological sites in the world.

As soon as I arrived in Athens, Greece, I was able to use my debit card to purchase the 20 Euro round trip train tickets that took me to Syntagma Square, the heart of the city. It was quite convenient since I didn’t need to find the nearest ATM to withdraw money.


Taking The Train Ride from Athens Airport to City Center.

From Syntagma Square, you can just walk towards the colorful neighborhood of Plaka district, which serves as an ideal jump-off point if you’re visiting the most famous attraction in the city, the Acropolis.

As part of the efforts to preserve this ancient world wonder, you have to pay a 20 euro entrance fee to the Acropolis. There is almost always a long queue towards the ticket booth and obviously, there’s no ATM at this older part of Athens. My RCBC Saving Mastercard Debit Card saved the day for me again. I simply flashed my card, and swiped at the POS machine, and voila, ticket purchased.


The Parthenon in Athens





After an extensive exploration of the Acropolis, it was time for me the enjoy my first taste of Greek awesomeness, and I decided to just chill out at this patisserie at the foot of the hill.

It serves Greek yogurt and sweets, much to my delight. I wasted no time trying out their melt-in-your-mouth chocolate cake and I went to dessert heaven.

It was definitely a perfect way to end my 10-hour visit to Athens.

The RCBC Savings Debit Mastercard was indeed convenient in purchasing transportation tickets, paying museum entrances, and for dining at cafes and restaurants. My whirldwind Athens adventure was made all the more easier by my debit card.

But hold on, there’s more. I was able to use my card in other European cities as well. Stay tuned for further posts.


For a more rewarding experience, you get a chance to win a Samsung S8+ Phone or a Samsung S3 Tablet or a Go Pro Hero 5 Black through RCBC Savings Bank’s Debit & Win Raffle Promo.  Every P1,000 single receipt purchase until December 31, 2017earns you an electronic raffle entry.  Join now and you might be the lucky winner in the January draw.

Still don’t have one?  RCBC Savings Bank MyDebit Mastercard is available in any of the 154 RSB branches nationwide.  Just bring one valid government ID and the initial deposit requirement so you can start unlocking all that life has to offer.












I Need A Zenfone 4 Max in My Life!

review, Travel Gadget

There are a lot of things you think you can’t live without, which are, in reality, truly unnecessary. I used to die of envy during my teens, when my friends would drive past our house on their newly polished cars. Now, as a global traveler, I find owning a car  a nuisance, because owning costly material things can weigh you down. Besides, there’s Uber.

On the flip side of the discussion, there are a million things you thought you don’t need, but they are in fact, crucial to your survival and happiness.


Shot Using Asus Zenfone 4 Max

This is exactly the realization I had over the past week as I was asked to try out and review the powerful and highly reliable Asus Zenfone 4 Max. I loved the earlier version of Asus because of the flexibility it gives me when it comes to video and quality. I never thought I would need another variant. Also, I never really took paid attention to battery life, because let’s face, you can always plug your phone and charge. I Or so I thought.


Some of my favorite things

Because I was embarking on a three-week adventure in Europe and the Mediterranean, the past week has been crazy and hectic, more than the usual, as I tried to attend meetings, and finish reports. There was a ton of things left to do, so much so,  that I had to report for work early mornings, and then go home late at night.


The dual rear camera allows for wide-angled shots. Sample sjot of my favorite Starbucks branch.

You know what kept me sane and connected? You got it. While my earlier Asus phones were dependable for entertainment and selfies, it was the  amazing 5000 mAh battery life of the Asus Zenfone 4 that got me through this hell of a week. Needlesss to say, I was able to go the distance.

I charged the phone on Sunday night and I never needed to recharge the phone until Wednesday morning. In between, I was able to make about 50 calls, watch several video presentations on my mobile, surf the internet and listen to some feel good music during my down time. I also dabbed in video blogging.

I also used the 13-megapixel main camera to take some Instagram-worthy pictures.


A garden shot using Asus

And yes, the 8-megapixel front cam, boosted by the live beautification feature of the phone helped me take some selfies that immediately appeared as profile pics in my social media accounts (haha).


I love the beautification feature of the phone

All the while, my other phone’s battery is drained after two hours of multi-tasking.

This week made me realize that I badly need an Asus Zenfone 4 max in my life, especially as hit the road once again and face new adventures.

When traveling, the one thing that always sets me back are drained batteries. I would stumble upon amazing vistas and city scenes, only to find to find out that my phones and cameras are dead.

But those memories will soon be a thing of the past, thanks to the long-lasting power of the Asus Zenfone 4 Max.


Power and Perfection: The Asus Zenfone 4 Max Gives You Superior Battery and Stunning Photos

review, Uncategorized

In today’s modern world where technology evolves continuously, we are spoiled with the wide variety of gadgets at our disposal, whether its for travels or just day to day slice of life, experiences. This means, that we all have different ways of getting the things we want.

Say for example, travel photography. While most people choose to arm themselves with expensive hardware, drones and stuff, I simply choose to savor my travel experiences and shoot sparingly. And I do it with a mobile phone.

I have been traveling all over Europe and South America for the past two years and most of the breathtaking photos I took in the past were shot using Asus Zenfone 2 and Asus Zenfone 3.


This photo of Vienna was shot using Asus Zenfone 2

So imagine my excitement when I found out that Asus has released a new mobile edition  with far more superior camera capabilities. This comes at a very opportuned time since I am embarking on a European odyssey next month and I will be traveling to Santorini, Croatia and fingers crossed, Iceland!!.


Batanes shot using Asus Zenfone 3

Anyways, the all-new Asus Zenfone 4 Max promises a whole new experience for mobile photography enthusiasts like me. It is equipped with two cameras for optimum results.

Two Cameras Are Better than One.

The first rear camera is a 13-megapixel camera with a standard 80-degree field of vision while the second rear camera has a 120-degree field of view that is better for capturing wider subjects such as landscapes and cityscapes.

S1920x1080_ZenFone 4 Max ZC554KL (24)

We’ve all had that experience before. The subject is too wide or too tall to capture in one frame. The extended field of view of the Asus Zenfone 4 eliminates that problem.

The second rear camera is also perfect for capturing wide subjects in confined spaces.

The two cameras also have specialized lenses for depth sensory.

As if that’s not enough, the Asus Zenfone 4 Max boasts of an 8-megapixel front camera, which is definitely a must if we are to get that awesome selfies. So watch out for my selfies as I hit the road once again this October.

S1920x1080_ZenFone 4 Max ZC554KL (23)

Power in your hands.

The only worry mobile photographers have is the speed at which most phones drain their batteries. Here’s a true horror story. I traveled to Berlin last April and I must have took hundreds of photos of the city. When I finally got to the Brandenburg Gate, my phone died and I just stared at my phone for a full minute, in shock hahaha.

The moral lesson? Bring a massive powerbank. All the freaking time.

What’s even better? Bring a phone that has a formidable battery capability.

Yes, I am talking about he incomparable battery of the Asus Zenfone 4 Max.


Parc Guell shot using Asus Zenfone 2

It has an ultra-high 5000mAH capacity battery, capable of powering the smartphone for 46 days on standby, or simply allowing users to shoot for far longer periods than conventional smartphones. It provides 3 hours of talk time with just 15 minutes of charging, has twice the lifespan of conventional phone batteries and can act as a backup power bank. It really is impressive.

I have been testing the phone for the past few days and so far, I only needed to -recharge the phone once, even after hours of taking selfies, taking videos, and listening to music, and watching videos, on repeat. Whew.

Needless to say, this feature is one of the most compelling reasons why you should get yourself an Asus Zenfone 4 Max. When you travel a lot, the battery capabilities of your phone will drastically change the way you take photos and videos. You won’t have any worries and hesitations, knowing that your battery won’t let you know.


PixelMaster technologies

One of the thing’s that surprised me about this phone is its Pixelmaster Technology, which allows users to elevate their photography experience and capabilities.

The ones that I really like is the Super Resolution Mode  which allows users to create an ultra-high resolution, 52 megapixel photo. How do you this? By using special image-processing techniques to capture and combine four 13MP photos to create a much larger single image with greater detail and less noise. this feature is perfect for travel mobile photography since it will allow you to take photos which you can print using larger formats.


A photo of Trajan’s Tower in Rome shot using Asus Zenfone 2.

Another awesome feature is the Power Saving Time Lapse shooting. With this gem of a feature, you can shoot extended time-lapse videos. In this mode, the phone automatically shoots frames at preset intervals which are then compiled into a stop-motion-like video. What sets the ZenFone 4 Max apart is its ability to save power through a “power saving” mode in time lapse shooting – which is important as time-lapse videos can consume a lot of battery power to shoot. I can’t wait to tale long time-lapse videos of Santorini!!

Impressive Looks

Lastly, I just love the feel of the phone. Its metallic curved edges makes it easy to hold. I chose a black one so its timeless and classy.

Obviously, I just love everything about the new Asus Zenfone 4 Max. I’ve only had it for a few days and I have yet to take it to another journey but here’s a promise. I’ll start posting amazing photos of my travels using the phone in the coming weeks. So watch out for them.

A Review of Seablings Seafood Restaurant, Cagayan de Oro

cagayandeoro, food, philippines, restaurant, review

While I consider myself a well-traveled person, I must admit that there are still a lot of question marks in my traveling resume.

Here in the Philippines alone, there are still three or four provinces that I haven’t visited and most of those I have actually reached, I only check out once.

It is therefore a welcome feeling for me to come back to Cagayan de Oro once more. Even though it was just a short stop en route to our main destination of Bukidnon, I really savored the chance to check out what we can given the minimal time we had.

And one major stop was at Seablings Seafood Restaurant.

I had high expectations from this particular restaurant mainly because a lot of previous travelers have given it high marks for its relatively cheaper cost, and sumptuous, fresh seafood cuisines. In fact, it is a highly recommended restaurant according to Zomato and the second best restaurant in Cagayan de Oro according to TripAdvisor.

Needless to say, I had to check it out. And I did. And boy was I glad that I did.

Located in Opol, Misamis Oriental (Cagayan de Oro), Seablings restaurant stands proudly along the beach, emphasizing its niche in seafood dishes.

The staff and crew were very accommodating and they entertained us even though I made reservations barely an hour before we arrived.

The entire restaurants have large, open door and windows, allowing the cool breeze, much to the delight of the customers. It was a really a good respite from the noontime heat.

We ordered several fish dishes, prawns, squid and scallops. We also ordered the native kilawin and pakbet with seafood. All dishes arrived within 20 minutes even though there were other customers at the time.

I must say the seafood dishes were really fresh and they were really good. I even found later on that they were really affordable t

I particularly enjoyed their pakbet sauteed with seafoods. It wasnt very salty and was very appetizing.

Their hilabos na hipon was also good, though I had to request for the dish to be reheated because it was not very hot when it reached our table.

Their red snapper was also excellent.

The ambiance was perfect for a relaxing, chill lunch among friends or families. I was so relaxed during our visit that I was able to eat a lot, hahaha.

Their banana split was ok but their leche flan needs improvement.

Overall, I really enjoyed my dining experience at Seablings. And I realized that the high praises given by fellow travelers were very much deserved. The awesome ambiance, great food, affordable prices plus the fact that it is about 20 minutes away from the airport are major factors why it is a very popular restaurant.

I would really recommend this restaurant to others.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I’ll give it an 8.5.

Food Heaven in Wee Nam Kee in Glorietta 2

food, philippines, restaurant, review

Better late than never.

For the entire months of May and June, patrons of Wee Nam Kee in Serendra and Glorietta had the pleasure of tasting first-hand the best of the best when it comes to chicken. The wagyu of chicken, if you must.
I was one of those who tried it in Glorietta and I just can’t help but share with you what the fuss was all about.
Anyone who loves Hainanese chicken knows that the original flavor came from Singapore. 
You can try the more expensive chicken house or you can just check out the hawker centers such as Tiong Bahru, but nonetheless, you will taste authentic flavor that makes it one of the most beloved chicken dishes.
The popularity of Hainanese chicken has spilled over to the Philippines and several chicken restaurants specializing in the dish mushroomed in the country’s leading malls. I must confess that I’ve tried some just because I love the dish but I can never compare it to the original dish I had in Singapore.
Then Wee Nam Kee opened in the Philippines and Filipinos finally had the chance to taste the real “hainanese chicken”. I even find it better than my erstwhile favorite version of the dish served at Marco Polo Club.
But as I’ve said, Wee Nam Kee upped the ante during the past months and gave local patrons the chance to taste the wagyu of chicken, the yellow chicken imported all the way from Singapore.
What’s the difference between local chicken and the one from Singapore you may ask. Well, I can say that the yellow chicken from Singapore is miles away in terms of appearance and taste. If you place them side by side, you will notice that the yellow chicken are much bigger. 
Reportedly, these chickens are fed with premium corn resulting in the bigger size and better taste.
The skin is fatter and more succulent. In fact, you will see a gelatinous layer of fat under the skin. It was really superb. The meat is also firmer than normal chicken.
We tried both the steamed yellow chicken and the roasted one but I really the steamed, because it brings out the best in the chicken.
I also tried different dishes and I loved some of them
I really fell in love with their Marmite Pork Ribs.
I also tried Wee Nam Kee’s Cereal Prawns. At first, I wasn’t sure if I was gonna like it because eating something sweet sometimes affects your appetite. Suprisingly, it didn’t and I really loved the dish.
I also tried their spicy squid, fried noodles and vegetables.
Compared to Wee Nam Kee branches in Singapore which are very small in area, the one in Glorietta is more spacious and elegant. You can tell that it caters to the more affluent and discerning diners.
I wanted to try more dishes but I was really full eating too much yellow chicken and marmite pork ribs.
Overall, I really enjoyed my Wee Nam Kee experience and if ever it decides to bring in the yellow chicken festival once again, I would gladly spend good money to try it again.

Spicy Squid

Cereal Prawns

Marmite Pork Ribs

An Awesome Discovery: Borgo Cafe in BF Paranaque

food, philippines, restaurant, review

I seldom venture to the south so the likelihood of me discovering awesome hole in the walls is very slim.
I know now that that is quite a disadvantage.

My colleagues and I were on a search for somewhere good to eat. We just came from a wake and we were starving.

It was already 10:30 pm and we didn’t want to wait until we get back to Makati before we have dinner so a good restaurant that can quell our appetite was imperative.

Then my boss suggested Borgo Cafe in BF Paranaque.

I really haven’t heard of the place so I had no expectations but boy, was I glad that we went there.

The ambiance was quite cozy and it’s perfect for low energy and private talks. It was already late so we had the entire place to ourselves.

We were welcomed by an english speaking waitress, which I soon realized was the maitre d’. Imagine that!!!

She gave us a rundown of the cafe’s best selling dishes and favorites so i learned that the place is quite famous for their Angus beef steak, similar to Melo’s.

It also serves several Italian and Spanish dishes much to our delight.

But we were tired and we doubt if our consititution can still handle a heavy meal like a steak so we decided to settle for chicken salpicao and gambas ajillo.

Their chicken salpicao was beyond reproach. The chicken was cooked gently and the serving of both chicken and mushroom was generous,

Meanwhile, the gambas was superb that it took me two minutes to finish one serving. The serving was generous, but I was just famished.

My boss, who apparantly is already a fan of the place, also liked the gambas and he couldn’t help but order another.

All the while, the head waitress comes and goes serving our lemonade and asking us if we needed anything else. I felt really pampered.

We stayed for a bit and I could tell that they were about to close. But the head waitress didn’t shoo us away, hahaha.

Overall, I really had a great time at Borgo Cafe. I promised that if I ever visit the south of the Metro once again, then this place will be high in my priority list.

I read that they serve Paella, one of my most favorite dishes, and I can’t wait to try to their own version of it.

A mini review of Swiss Deli in Davao City

davao, food, philippines, restaurant, review

During my most recent travel to Davao City, I have had the pleasure of indulging in a wide array of food styles thanks to various restaurants.

One that I really fell in love with was the Swiss Deli, located along J.P. Avenue in Lanang.  It is very close to the newly built Park Inn Radisson and SM city Lanang.

It has been the rage in Davao since 2003, but 10 years after it started operations, it remains one of the most visited dining establishment in the city. And it has since started distributing their products to Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao through various malls and supermarkets.

The Swiss Deli in Davao City is a quaint little restaurant that serves authentic Swiss delicacies.

The set-up is quite intimate perfect for tete-a tetes or small gatherings among close friends. They have a smoking area at the ground level and a private/airconditioned function room.

True to it’s name, they also sell wines, cheese, chocolates and other delicatessen imported all the way from Switzerland and Europe.

I have had the pleasure of trying out their ribs and prime beef and they are heavenly!!!!

Their sausage is to die for!!! I throroughly enjoyed it, I ate four whole sausage’s equivalent, hahaha. No kidding.

I also tried some of their swiss cheese and blueberry cheesecake and they’re awesome.

What I rea like is that the prices are not that exorbitant and the service is fast. The staff and crew are very accommodating, ready to assist customers at a moment’s notice.

Whenever you’re in Davao, I recommend that you visit this resto. You’ll really love it.

Experiencing durian frappe at BluGre Davao

davao, delicacy, food, philippines, review

I am always on the lookout for something new. Whenever I hear that a new place is drawing crowds or a great new restaurant recently opened, I would soon hope to get there soon. Of course, this doesn’t always happen.

This time it did, two weeks before I knew of an official business trip to Davao, the most progressive city in Mindanao, I heard of a friend raving about this unique coffee shop that’s hailed to give Davaoenos’ their own brand of coffee to enjoy.

Davao City is a mega city and coffee shops, are therefore scattered all over it. And BluGre has been in operation since 2009 so it is really not something new, but Blugre offers a flavor that’s not available anywhere else.

Have you ever tried durian cappuccino? or frozen durian frappe? I haven’t and many Manila-based folks haven’t either so this is is basically an experience.

As part of our tour of the SM Lanang here in Davao, we were able to visit BluGre located at the mall’s skygarden (2nd floor). (there are other branches including one at Davao Doctors but I don’t know all of them)

As expected, its durian flavored drinks and cakes are the main attractions of BluGre. My colleagues all trooped to the shop expecting to try it and did I.

But before I proceed, I have a confession to make.

I never really liked durian. It stinks and it tastes weird. A lot of people I know also don’t like it. It’s an acquired taste to say the least.

But as I’ve said, this isa new experience for me, so I had to try it.

The rest of the group ordered the famous durian cappuccino but being the cool person that I am, (hahah), I ordered a tall durian frappe.

Despite having a bog crowd that afternoon, service was quick and soon, I came face to face with my durian flavored drink.

I really wasn’t expecting to love it, because it’s durian flavored but I was hoping that the fruit paste is not too overpowering and thank God, it wasn’t.

The taste is mild and the aftertaste will make you mouth feel like a durian basket. In short, it was a pleasant experience but that’s the farthest I can go.

While some may have the guts and stomach to taste the cakes and other durian sweets, I just couldn’t. I guess I’m not that brave.

But I still give myself a pat on the back for at least trying the frappe. I’m really glad I did because like I expected, it was really an experience.

An Awesome Lunch Buffet at Marriott Cafe

buffet, Food and Dining, philippines, restaurant, review
One of the perks of being in the public relations business is that you get to meet outside in the office a lot. You hold meetings in private conference rooms, and often, at hotel cafes. And this is one perk I truly enjoy.
Just recently, I have the pleasure of having a meeting at Marriott Cafe in Newport City and I couldn’t have been more excited.
Of course, I have had meetings and/or functions at the Marriott Hotel but I never had the pleasure of trying their lunch and dinner buffets at their official cafe.
After so many lunch and dinner buffets I’ve had in the past, I never expected that I would be blown away by this particular one, but what do you know, I was really blown away.

First of all, I truly enjoyed their salads/appetizer section.

There were lots of garden favorites and cold cuts to choose from and this was important for the customers as they get ready for a tour de force of a meal

And then I tried next their seafood and sushi bar which I also enjoyed. The seafood were fresh as evidenced by their sweetness. The sushi bar is definitely one of the favorites in Marriott Cafe. You can tell by looking at the long queue and the way the sushi chef keeps running out of salmon and tuna, as well as they california maki.

One of the unique offerings of Marriott Cafe is their pizza section. Other cafes and lunch buffets do not offer this particular product so I was pleasantly surprised. I am not a very big fan of pizzas myself but I thought that this could one an added come-on to those who love them. After all, Filipinos are known to be pizza lovers too.

I wanted to try every dish the cafe is offering but remember that I was having a meeting and we had to eat swiftly in between our conversations so I maximized the experience by focusing on my favorites and those of you who have been following my blog must have surmised that I love pork and beef roast, hahaha.


Aftter three servings of roast pork, I moved over to their Chinese section and I had my fill of siu mai, wantons, and chinese noodles. I was trying to watch my cholesterol level but what the heck, I did give in to my craving for peking duck as well.

After all the meats, seafood, sushi, and noodles I’ve had, I still wanted to have some desert but the the cafe offered too many choices. There were mallows, cakes which you can put under your chocolate fondue and they have numerous cakes in their desert ref. So I had no choice but to try many of them. I just can’t help it.
And I know I was already committing a sin, hahaha, but I also enjoyed a scoop or two of my favorite gelato. I know you will understand.
 Overall, I have had one of my best lunch experiences in a long while. The fact that it was over an important meeting did not seem to deter or affect my appetite. In fact, it became a challenge to try as much selection in a limited timeframe.
For about $35, I definitely think that Marriott Cafe is one of the best buffet restaurants in town and I really mean it.
If someone offers to take me back to Marriott Cafe, i would definitely say yes.Scratch that, I think that I will have to go on my own soon. That’s how much i love it.

Red Carabao: A Great Hostel in the Heart of Manila

backpacking, Hostels, philippines, review

One of the things tourists complain about Manila as a destination is that hotel rates are not cheap. In fact, they are quite expensive as compared to hotels in other Asean countries. And there’s really not many options for backpackers who wish to explore the country’s capital but have little or tighter budget.

As a result, they are discouraged from visiting the country and if they do, some directly go to Boracay, Cebu or Palawan, and they don’t get to appreciate the urban charms of Manila.

But thankfully, there is a Filipino family who recognized this problem and decided to open a hostel, one of the most convenient and affordable type of accommodation right in the heart of Manila.

Red Carabao, located in Felix Huertas in Sta. Cruz, Manila offers local and foreign backpackers an alternative way of staying and exploring Manila.

Rates go for as low as P204 or about $5 per person (hostelworld.com) for group rooms. Discounts are even available for those staying for more than 14 days.

common kitchen

It has a common lobby, just like most hostels where you can meet fellow travellers. It has free broadband terminals and breakfast are already inclusive of the rates.

It has a rooftop smoking area (where staying guests hold drinking sessions nightly), and there’s no curfew, perfect for those who wish to go clubbing.

Red Carabao also has a 24-hour surveillance system to ensure the guests security.

The hostel’s location is also quite central. You can go to downtown Manila, Makati, Caloocan and Quezon city easily through by the LRT and through jeepneys.

Internet area

The emergence of these kind of hostels catering to foreign backpackers is a very much welcome development for the Philippine tourism industry.

The posh hotels will not really lose their clients since they are targeting a different segment of the tourist market. But these hostels, will encouraged those who have limited budget to still come to Philippine shores and see what we have to offer.

Tourism in Thailand boomed, thanks a lot to cheap hotels and hostels located everywhere, especially in Khao San Road in Bangkok. Backpackers also flock to Kuala Lumpur and stay at the numerous hostels along Jalan Petaling street.

Siem Reap in Cambodia also has lots of cheap hotels.

common lounge

I met Aldrich, one of the passionate owners of Red Carabao at a house couchsurfing party he hosted and I was immediately impressed by his passion and dedication to change and improve people’s views on Manila.

I admit, I am one of those who believe that Manila as a tourist destination doesn’t have a lot of things to offer aside from the clubs, bars and red light districts.

But like the backpackers who have stayed in Red Carabao, whom Aldrich tour around the city, I realized that there is more to Manila than I know, or wish to recognize.

Granted that he grew up in the US, but Aldrich says that what we consider normal can be interesting for tourists. For one, our churches are beautiful.

visitors in front of Quiapo church

Our street foods are as bizarre and unique like those in China and Thailand.

Our traditional Flores de Mayo also captured the hearts of foreign visitors who saw it.

He also toured visitors in Binondo, our own version of Chinatown and they loved it.

location map

Since it started operating in 2009, Red Carabao was clear and determined to accomplish its main goals. It is “on a mission to help change the way the world looks at Manila”.

With people like Aldrich and establishments like Red Carabao, I just realize that it may not be a futile attempt after all. In time, more and more foreign visitors may indeed see the city in a different, more positive light.

 Photos courtesy of Red Carabao Facebook page and WordPress site.