Philippine Trip: Fort Pilar

Fort Pilar in Zamboanga City is a historical site filled with beauty and calm.




Its origins were as a fort for the Spaniards before becoming a museum in recent days. In the courtyard of Fort Pilar, there is a shrine dedicated Our Lady of the Pillar.

You can purchase candles from vendors outside the fort for about 50 pesos. I purchased some, lit them, and said a prayer as they burned.

It’s very peaceful at Fort Pilar and I saw some people hanging out here as they took in the sight.

Philippine Trip:
1) Don’t Forget Your Luggage Tag!
2) Flight To Manila
3) 9 Hours at Ninoy Aquino Airport
4) Arrival in Zamboanga City
5) Isle of Santa Cruz
6) Paseo del Mar
7) Fort Pilar
8) Alavar Restaurant
9) City Mall
10) Vista del Mar
11) KCC Mall
12) Returning Home from Zamboanga City

Philippine Trip: Paseo del Mar

Paseo is located by the ocean and is a popular place for people to hang out, especially in the late afternoon/night when it starts to cool down and stores open up for the public.




An I Heart Zamboanga City sign at Paseo.

There are places to eat here and a great view of the water.

Paseo is also where you get on the boats to the island of Santa Cruz.

At night, the fountain in the middle of Paseo has dancing water and music. I sadly went in the day, so no dancing water for me.

I walked along the edge near the ocean, including a bridge over the water, to take plenty of pictures.

The bathrooms at Paseo require you to pay 5 pesos to use them. Also, at least during the earlier part of the day, when you leave through the gate, you also have to pay 5 pesos. But considering 5 pesos is barely anything in US dollars, I don’t mind paying.

Philippine Trip:
1) Don’t Forget Your Luggage Tag!
2) Flight To Manila
3) 9 Hours at Ninoy Aquino Airport
4) Arrival in Zamboanga City
5) Isle of Santa Cruz
6) Paseo del Mar
7) Fort Pilar
8) Alavar Restaurant
9) City Mall
10) Vista del Mar
11) KCC Mall
12) Returning Home from Zamboanga City

Philippine Trip: Isle of Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is a protected island off of Zamboanga and to get here, you need to have permission from the Department of Tourism. This was my first time going to Santa Cruz, but it’s a popular destination because of the pink sand on the beach. The pink sand is from the pink shells from the ocean that wash up on the shore.

Pink sand at Santa Cruz.

Boat rides to and from the island end about 2 pm because after that time, the waves are too strong to use the small boats.




My family managed to get permission so we went to Paseo bright and early in the morning to wait for the small boat to take us to Santa Cruz. When it was our turn to get on our boat, we were given a speech about the island, what to do and not do, and we put on our inflatable vests before getting on the boat.

Starting out from Paseo.
View of the water from Paseo.

Some of the things the guide mentioned was you cannot take anything from the island, not even sand, don’t leave anything behind like trash, there is no drinkable water there (so bring your own), and bring your own food as well if you’re going to stay a couple of hours.

Santa Cruz off in the distance.

I suggest bringing earplugs with you for the boat ride because the engine on the boat is very loud.

A closer view of Santa Cruz.
The boat that took us to Santa Cruz.

It didn’t take long for us to arrive to the island and we were greeted with a large “I heart Zamboanga” structure. There were plenty of huts with a table under the roof for people to sit at and have their picnics.

I heart Zamboanga structure.
Huts on the beach.

There are locals who do live on the island and sell some food for a lot cheaper than what it’d cost if you bought it in Zamboanga. My mom bought some food to take back to cook with.

Isle of Santa Cruz sign.

There are guards who walk around the island to keep people safe, but you can just ignore them. By the way, you are not allowed to pose with them and take a picture.

The view of Zamboanga from Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz is a beautiful place and I enjoyed visiting there. People come here to picnic and swim, as well as enjoying the view. There is also a lagoon on the island that you can visit while on a boat for 50 peso per person. The money goes to the locals who live on the island.

A stray cat living on Santa Cruz.

By the time we left Santa Cruz, it was a little past 1 pm. We had packed up everything, put on our vests, and got back on the boats towards Paseo.

Philippine Trip:
1) Don’t Forget Your Luggage Tag!
2) Flight To Manila
3) 9 Hours at Ninoy Aquino Airport
4) Arrival in Zamboanga City
5) Isle of Santa Cruz
6) Paseo del Mar
7) Fort Pilar
8) Alavar Restaurant
9) City Mall
10) Vista del Mar
11) KCC Mall
12) Returning Home from Zamboanga City

Philippine Trip: Arrival in Zamboanga City

Welcome to Zamboanga City!

I arrived in Zamboanga City in the morning before the sun rose. Zamboanga’s airport is tiny. When we were allowed to leave the plane, we exited off the runway and walked into the airport building.




It was raining a little, so some of the workers handed out umbrellas as we exited the plane stairs. My jacket is waterproof, so I didn’t take an umbrella. I was just happy that I was finally at my destination.

As soon as you enter the building, there’s just the little carousels for Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Air flights. I waited on a bench because everyone else crowded around the carousels waiting for their luggage. There is free wifi, but only if you have a Philippine phone number to type in. Alas, I don’t.

I finally got my luggage and walked outside where I saw my mom. We had a driver, but I’m pretty sure there are tricycles who can pick people up as well. Before we left the parking lot, we paid some pesos.

What are tricycles? They are motorcycles with a hooded sidecar and are one of the major modes of transportation for people around the city. It’s amazing to see how many people can fit into a tricycle. They’re pretty much a low-tech version of a taxi and I’ve ridden in them a few times.

The other form of public transporation is the jeepney. I’ve never actually rode in one before, but I see them everywhere. Specific jeepneys have specific routes that are listed on the side of the jeepney. I’ve seen a jeepney so crowded that people were hanging off the end and some people were sitting on top of the roof.

There are plenty of barangays (towns) in Zamboanga and places to eat and shop here. While I traveled here to visit my family, I also came here to see the sights and eat all the food. 😉


Sign on the road.


Traffic on the road. It can get even more crowded when scooters fill up the empty spaces between cars.


Ateneo de Zamboanga University


Tiny store


Tricycle and jeepney

Philippine Trip:
1) Don’t Forget Your Luggage Tag!
2) Flight To Manila
3) 9 Hours at Ninoy Aquino Airport
4) Welcome to Zamboanga
5) Isle of Santa Cruz
6) Paseo del Mar
7) Fort Pilar
8) Alavar Restaurant
9) City Mall
10) Vista del Mar
11) KCC Mall
12) Returning Home from Zamboanga City

Philippine Trip: 9 Hours at Ninoy Aquino Airport

Once I picked up my luggage at the carousel, I knew I had to wait at the airport for 9 hours until my flight departed the airport. I wish my layover was barely a layover at all, but that was never going to be the case. Unfortunately, there are only three flights that depart to Zamboanga from Manila and I had missed the last flight of the day by a couple of hours.




To get to my terminal, I knew I had to take a shuttle because the Ninoy Aquino airport is huge. Fortunately, there’s a free shuttle between PAL flights, so I went from Terminal 1 to Terminal 3 on it. It took awhile to get to Terminal 3, but I finally reached with my luggage. Since the PAL counters weren’t open, I had hours of waiting ahead of me before I could enter the inner part of the airport. I found a Passenger Holding Area on Level 3 and sat down there, taking out my tablet to watch some TV episodes I had downloaded. While I sat there, there were also some guards, so I felt safe.

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Level 4 has a food court that was open the entire night I was there. I didn’t eat anything, but it was nice to know that I wouldn’t go hungry if I needed to buy something to eat.

The airport has free wifi and I took advantage of it by checking my email and my facebook on my phone. I also messaged my mom to let her know I was safe at the airport.

The PAL counters opened after midnight, closer towards 1 am, and since I already had my Zamboanga ticket from LAX, I went to the bag drop off line. Once I dropped off my luggage, I then walked off towards the terminal and waited there until it was time to depart.

It is possible to charge your phone at the airport without a converter/transformer which was nice because my phone needed some juice. Just expect your phone to get hot really fast. I also recharged my iPod because I’ve been listening to music on it for hours on end.

My layover at Ninoy Aquino airport was pretty uneventful, which is perfectly fine for me. It was a good thing I brought things to entertain myself and time flew by. Soon I got on my plane and was heading towards Zamboanga.

(There’s a lack of pictures during this leg of my trip because it was so late and I was so tired, so I didn’t want to take pictures. Next time!)

Philippine Trip:
1) Don’t Forget Your Luggage Tag!
2) Flight To Manila
3) 9 Hours at Ninoy Aquino Airport
4) Arrival in Zamboanga City
5) Isle of Santa Cruz
6) Paseo del Mar
7) Fort Pilar
8) Alavar Restaurant
9) City Mall
10) Vista del Mar
11) KCC Mall
12) Returning Home from Zamboanga City

Philippine Trip: Flight To Manila

The trip from LAX to Ninoy Aquino International Airport is a little over 15 hours. Yikes! If you’ve never done that long of a flight (sadly, this length of time is a norm for me because of my usual trips towards Asia), don’t panic. It’s not too bad if you plan for it.




I boarded the plane on PAL (Philippine Airline) with group E. The PAL plane had middle rows along with side rows, but fortunately, the side row only had 2 chairs: aisle and window. Unfortunately, even though I requested for aisle, I got window in their economy seating. For long flights, your window is closed 99% of the time and if you want to get up to use the bathroom, you have to bother the aisle seat passenger, so I try to plan my bathroom breaks.

My flight served lunch, refreshment sandwich, and a hot meal. Before I boarded, I made sure to purchase a bottle of water to keep myself hydrated. You want to stay hydrated, especially on a long flight, to keep your risk of DTV down.


Front of the menu


Message from the airline


Menu

I brought along an iPod full of music, an iPad with shows and movies I downloaded from Netflix, and a notebook and pen to jot things down like this post. I also brought along a small textbook, a how to speak Tagalog book, and flashcards.

Admittedly, I’ve been trying to sleep for most of this flight. With a 9 hour layover in Manila before flying to Zamboanga, I’m going to need it. When I’m awake, I do ankle pumps, ankle circles, rolling my shoulders – basically keeping myself moving in order to prevent DVT.

The flight wasn’t particularly bumpy, but I kept waking up every couple of hours. It’s hard to sleep in one position for very long, especially if that position is seated. The plane’s lights were dim for most of the flight so I couldn’t use a lot of my reading material unless I turned on my seat light and bothered the person next to me. Sometimes I turned on my tablet to watch something I already downloaded, but for the most part, I listened to my music and slept.

We arrived in Manila and I headed to baggage claim, hoping that my luggage also arrived in Manila with me. Across the carousel, I saw two elderly Filipino men that I had seen at my airport as well as LAX. They had arrived at the LAX terminal before me, so I doubted they had ‘left’ the airport to go to baggage claim only to reenter the airport on the international side. Since I doubted they did that, and they were waiting for their luggage with me, I hoped my luggage was fine.

And it was! My luggage was one of the last ones, but they arrived and I was relieved.

Philippine Trip:
1) Don’t Forget Your Luggage Tag!
2) Flight To Manila
3) 9 Hours at Ninoy Aquino Airport
4) Arrival in Zamboanga City
5) Isle of Santa Cruz
6) Paseo del Mar
7) Fort Pilar
8) Alavar Restaurant
9) City Mall
10) Vista del Mar
11) KCC Mall
12) Returning Home from Zamboanga City

Philippine Trip: Don’t Forget Your Luggage Tag!

It’s finally time for my trip to the Philippines. Yay! To travel to the Philippines, all you need is your passport. No visa is needed, but you can only stay in the country for a month before you have to leave.

I landed at LAX in the morning after a few delays. First, at my city’s airport because we were waiting for our turn down the runway and then when we arrived at LAX and were waiting for a terminal to open up for us.




I have to say, for as much as I’ve traveled, mistakes can happen. I woke up at 4 am to get ready to leave for the airport and because I rarely travel with checked bags, I forgot to ask if I had to claim my bags at LAX before going to the Tom Bradley International Terminal side of LAX for the next leg of my flight. Nor was I given the tags for my checked bags which would reveal where my bags go. Because of the delay, there wasn’t much time between when I arrived and when I had to board, especially if I had to “leave” the airport by going to baggage claim, go to the international side, check in, and go through the long line at security.

There is a hall between the domestic and international side of the airport and it overlooks both the check in counters and the security line. Both were long which meant if I went to baggage claim, it’d take me way too long to reach my terminal.

Neither the rep at American Airlines or Philippine Airlines were much help with helping me figure out if I had to go to baggage claim in LAX or if my luggage would already be waiting for me in Manila. I decided to risk it and wait for my Manila flight at the terminal, but I was annoyed.

I did manage to meet a therapy dog while I waited to board. His name was Tucker and he had a collectible card. I petted him for a few minutes while I calmed down and took some pictures with him.

This entry was supposed to be more about traveling through LAX, but ended up as a cautionary tale for travelers. Happy ending, my luggage did manage to be waiting for me at the Manila airport. Huzzah!

And here’s a picture of Agent Romanoff the night before I left.

Philippine Trip:
1) Don’t Forget Your Luggage Tag!
2) Flight To Manila
3) 9 Hours at Ninoy Aquino Airport
4) Arrival in Zamboanga City
5) Isle of Santa Cruz
6) Paseo del Mar
7) Fort Pilar
8) Alavar Restaurant
9) City Mall
10) Vista del Mar
11) KCC Mall
12) Returning Home from Zamboanga City

International Women’s Day: Pt 7, Chloe Bennet

Happy International Women’s Day!

International Women’s Day is, according to this article, “a worldwide event that celebrates women’s achievements – from the political to the social – while calling for gender equality.”

Though why not celebrate with a week instead? Every day, I’ll highlight a woman and her achievements for International Women’s Day and keep this celebration going.




Today is the last day of my week long celebration of International Women’s Day with seven women and their accomplishments. The best part is that, there are hundreds upon thousands of women everywhere worth celebrating.

Today’s woman is actress and singer Chloe Bennet. Chloe was originally born as Chloe Wang in Chicago, Illinois on April 18, 1992. When she was a teenager, she moved to China to live with her grandparents and pursued a singing career.

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Uh Oh (English Version)


Uh Oh (Chinese Version)

She released a few singles before moving to Los Angeles. Chloe’s first acting appearance was in 2010 on The Nightlife. A few years later, Chloe was cast as the hacker Skye in 2013 on Agents of SHIELD.

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The timeline of Chloe’s character has gone from hacker to SHIELD agent to Inhuman Daisy Johnson aka Quake.

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Her role as Daisy Johnson is her biggest role to date and she has thrived as part of the cast.

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She also has been outspoken about a lot of Marvel and Asian issues.

Agents of SHIELD’s Chloe Bennet: Why I Stopped Using My Chinese Last Name

Collider News: ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Star Says Marvel Doesn’t Care About the Show

Chloe Bennet Speaks Out Against Gigi Hadid and Steve Harvey for Making ‘Ignorant’ Asian Jokes

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International Women’s Day: Pt 6, Vera Wang

Happy International Women’s Day!

International Women’s Day is, according to this article, “a worldwide event that celebrates women’s achievements – from the political to the social – while calling for gender equality.”

Though why not celebrate with a week instead? Every day, I’ll highlight a woman and her achievements for International Women’s Day and keep this celebration going.




Today’s woman is fashion designer Vera Wang. Vera was born in New York City, New York on June 27, 1949 and received a degree in art history from Sarah Lawrence College. Earlier in life, she trained to become a figure skater and soon entered the fashion industry after failing to make the US Olympic team.

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Vera worked at Vogue for 17 years, then worked for Ralph Lauren. When she turned 40, she left to become an independent designer.

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While she is well known for her wedding gown designs as many famous women have worn them, she has also designed for figure skaters. From wedding to home to fragrance, Vera Wang does it all.

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Vera Wang’s official site (plays audio)

Her name is well known in popular culture and both her name and her designs have been namedropped in shows like Sex and the City and Gossip Girl.

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International Women’s Day: Pt 5, Chien-Shiung Wu

Happy International Women’s Day!

International Women’s Day is, according to this article, “a worldwide event that celebrates women’s achievements – from the political to the social – while calling for gender equality.”

Though why not celebrate with a week instead? Every day, I’ll highlight a woman and her achievements for International Women’s Day and keep this celebration going.




Today’s woman is physicist Chien-Shiung Wu. She is also known as the “First Lady of Physics” and has been compared to Marie Curie.

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Chien-Shiung was born in China on May 31, 1912 and moved to the United States in 1936. During World War II, she was involved with the Manhattan Project and developed a way to separate uranium into two different isotopes.

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Her research into beta decay and law of parity helped two of her colleagues to be awarded with the Nobel Prize for Physics, though she wasn’t awarded the prize herself. Her book Beta Decay is considered a standard for the field and Chien-Shiung was a professor as well as a researcher.

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