Japan: The old and the new in Tokyo

From Osaka Castle, I take you to Japan’s busiest city in the third installment of this blog series (read my first post here).

Thanks to Japan’s fastest bullet train, we arrived in Tokyo from Osaka in less than three hours. We went straight to Shibuya, our home for the next two days.

First order of business was for my parents to take a photo with the famed Hachiko statue outside Shibuya station. And then, of course, we had to try the Shibuya Crossing – one of the busiest intersections in the world. Like any tourist, we crossed even if we didn’t need to. 😀 Continue reading

Japan: Eat, shop, play in Osaka

In my last post, you read about our busy day at Kyoto, straight from a red-eye flight from Manila.

For the second installment of my Japan blog series, I’m going to share with you our experience during our brief stay in Osaka.

Visiting Osaka, the second biggest metropolitan area in Japan, is my favorite part of our trip. What’s not to love when there is so much to see and experience without spending a lot (well, compared to Tokyo)? Continue reading

Japan: Temple Running in Kyoto

Last June, my family flew to Japan for a vacation. And with only four days to spare, we took on the challenge of visiting three of its most popular cities — Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo.

I figured that since it will probably take us a while before we went back to Japan, we might as well see as many places as possible.

Of course I later realized that while it was doable, it was terribly exhausting. Nevertheless, we accomplished our goal and went home with a luggage full of pasalubong and hearts filled with wonder. If you’re my Facebook friend, you can check out the video of our trip here. Continue reading

7 churches for Visita Iglesia in Quezon City

If you’re like me and you only have one rest day for Holy Week, you’ll probably end up staying in the city. Why not make it worthwhile by following the Catholic tradition of Visita Iglesia? You not only get to pray and reflect but also visit beautiful historical and cultural landmarks.

Yesterday, I visited seven churches in Quezon City for my report for Bandila. Watch our television report below (in Filipino) or continue reading (in English) about the churches I chose.

Santo Domingo Church – Known also as the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of La Naval de Manila, the Santo Domingo Church is the largest Catholic church in Metro Manila. If you read my previous Visita Iglesia post, you’ll know that it was constructed, based on the design of architect Jose Zaragoza, after the original church in Intramuros was destroyed during World War II. Continue reading

Manila Cathedral

7 churches to visit for a historical tour of Intramuros

Ornate carvings and intricately-painted ceilings are just some of the things you’ll see as you tour the churches of Intramuros. Each church has a story to tell, whether it be about how it survived the bombings of World War II or how old ruins paved the way for new buildings.

More than a week ago, my camera crew and I were the first media group to visit the seven places after the Department of Tourism (DOT) started promoting Intramuros for faith-based tourism. You can watch my report (featuring DOT and Ivan Man Dy of Old Manila Walks) in Filipino here or read about the seven churches in English below.

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Cityscapes: Petronas Twin Towers or KL Tower?

Model buildings and tiny toy cars. Everything looks miniature and enchanting when you’re on top of an observation deck, looking down at a city basking under the sun or encased in a cloud of fog. At night, the city bares another side of its soul as colorful lights illuminate its skyscrapers and iconic buildings.

Petronas Twin Towers

Petronas Twin Towers

If you’re like me, you don’t get queasy at the thought of being hundreds of meters above ground. Instead, you take delight in the scenic view and the opportunity to see the city in all its glory, from its cluster of majestic buildings to its long, curvy stretches of river-like freeways.

If you’re visiting a famous city, you should at least considering visiting one observation deck. And in the case of the bustling city of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia there are two iconic buildings to check out – the Petronas Twin Towers and the KL Tower.

When you’re on a tight schedule and/or a tight budget, you’ll end up visiting only one and it can be a tough choice if you know you won’t return to the country anytime soon. Continue reading

7 reasons why I enjoy flying (despite incessant thoughts of a plane crash)

PR1815 bound for Davao City — (12:25 nn) I am tens of thousands of feet above ground as I write this. The flight has been turbulent despite the good weather (Yes Mr. pilot, this is a shout out to you) but I don’t mind. Here, above cumulus clouds and blue waters, I am at peace.

Usually, when I ride an airplane, I brace myself for a crash. It’s because I believe that the more I travel, the higher the probability that I will figure in an accident. I am like that when I ride almost all forms of transportation (except trains, which are my favorite). I am fatalistic and I consider death an inevitability. But I digress. Continue reading

Storming through Davao Oriental

Earlier this month, my wish to return to Mindanao came true. I was given the chance to visit three towns that bore the brunt of typhoon Pablo’s wrath in 2012.

As someone who has spent her whole life living in a city, I marveled at the beauty of Davao Oriental’s enchanting mountains and photogenic shores. How remarkable it is that I am looking at the Pacific Ocean while in one of the most fascinating places in the country!

Dahican beach in Mati, Davao Oriental

Dahican beach in Mati, Davao Oriental

But the ocean’s strong waves reminded me also of the threats faced by the province. What was once a region known for its predictable weather has now been battered by strong typhoons, killing hundreds of hapless residents. “Pablo jolted us to the reality of climate change!” said one of the local environmental planners we interviewed.

A fellow reporter and I went to Davao to get interviews and data for INQUIRER.net’s special report on climate change. During our visit, we learned about how local governments implemented disaster risk reduction plans and how residents were trying to recover.

It has been almost three years since the towns of Banganga, Cateel and Boston were devastated by typhoon Pablo but the effects of the typhoon will probably be felt for a long time. Imagine majority of coconut trees being wiped out in less than 24 hours, instantly stripping rural communities of livelihood and source of food.

We still have a lot of work to do and the results of our investigation will hopefully be published in the coming months but the visit has also given me insights on issues not covered by our report.

Continue reading