Monday, July 27, 2015

11 Easy Steps for Planning Your Perfect Trip

Someone asked me, “How did you planned your trip?” then I just smiled.

Planning a trip can be an overwhelming chore. All the preparations always goes ahead of time. And when you are well prepared, you always have a smooth and more satisfying experience. They say that too much planning can make a trip so predictable to the extent that you will not going to enjoy your trip. But for me, I prefer to be prepared than sorry.

When I started planning our first trip, I am clueless. I don’t know where to begin, what the first step is, where to stay, what to bring and not to bring, and how much money will be needed. But now that I have successfully planned our first domestic trip, I want to share the steps and some tips on how to plan your perfect trip.

Step 1: Decide where you want to go. 

Planning your perfect trip
Decide where you want to go. 

A lot of people talk vaguely about travel. They just said that they are going, but never say when they are going. Picking a destination is really important because it gives you a definite goal. It’s a lot easier to visualize that “I am going to Davao” than “I’m going to Mindanao.” Your trip will not only become more concrete for you and easier to commit to, but also will make planning easier as well.

Step 2: Research about your destination. 
Planning your perfect trip
Research about your destination
When I was young, the only thing I know about Davao is their famous Durian fruit. And what to see? Just the Philippines Eagle. Haha! I didn't know that there are lots of things that I can do there and lots of a must see places. So it is very important to make a research so you will know what to expect when you get there. Internet can help you on this. There are lots of websites and blogs out there. Everything that you need to know like climate, tourist spots, activities, foods, accommodations and even price information that you need. Just don't forget to list down the tourist spots that you want to visit.

Step 3: Decide the length of your trip. 
You need to decide how long you will stay in your destination to figure out how much does it cost you to travel. For budget travelers, you can already explore your destination within 3 days. And remember that there is always time to come back.

Step 4: Start saving. 
Planning your perfect trip
Start saving
You know how much you need to get in your destination and how much would be your expenses, now it’s time to start saving. In saving money, it is ideal to write down all your current expenses so that you can determine where your money goes and how to cut expenses. 

Planning your perfect trip
Cut your expenses
When I was living in Manila, I learned to cook. I cooked a large dinner and then enjoyed the leftovers for lunch and dinner the next day. So I cook more and eat out less, thus I saved more money and I traveled sooner.

Step 5: Book your flight.
Planning your perfect trip
Book your flight
If you are not in a hurry to travel and you have limited budget, you could wait for promo fares. You could follow the airlines pages like Cebu Pacific and Air Asia Zest so that you will be updated to their promo. The good thing about it is that you can avail cheap airfare at the same time you can save money while waiting for your flight. 

Step 6: Book your accommodation. 

If you already have a set schedule, find an accommodation for the duration of your trip. There are sites that offer the best rates for accommodation like Agoda, TravelBook, and If you’re on a budget, book on a homestay or hostel which is cheaper than hotels. Remember that you only need a place where you can sleep after your day tour. So it doesn't need to be expensive. You just need a cheap but comfortable place. Accommodations have their standard check-in time. So always get the contact number of your accommodation you can inform them in case you encounter delayed flights.

Step 7: Plan your activities. 
Planning your perfect trip
Plan your activities
List the major activities that you want to enjoy and how much it will cost you. This will help you  to make any adjustments to your savings so you can ensure that you have enough money. This will also help you figure out if you need any reservations for your chosen tours or activities.

Step 8: Pack your things. 
Planning your perfect trip
Pack your things
Since you have your research, you should probably know what to bring like clothes, toiletries, small medical kit, and gears. Bring only a small backpack so you won’t tempt to overpack.

Step 9: Download travel apps.
Planning your perfect trip
Download travel apps
Make sure to download travel apps before leaving. The recent establishments of travel blogs and mobile apps makes it easier for travelers to plan any vacation that they intend to do. All you have to do is go online and learn to how travel into places. This will help you while roaming around your destination.

Step 10: Have mobile internet subscription
Planning your perfect trip
Have mobile internet subscription
Delayed flights is not new. So better have mobile internet subscription. This can save you from boredom while waiting for your flight.

Step 11: Enjoy your trip.
Planning your perfect trip
Enjoy your trip
Go get you bag. Don't forget your ID's and passport. Board on the plane. Have fun with your trip and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Traveling does not have to mean spending a fortune. You just need to be practical and you can go wherever you want.
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Friday, July 17, 2015

San Pedro Cathedral in Davao City

San Pedro Cathedral was considered to be one of the oldest churches in Mindanao. It is also the city's premier historical landmark. It was built in 1847 by Don Jose Uyanguren during the Spanish colonization. The San Pedro Cathedral was first built utilizing nipa and bamboo.  It was then rebuilt in wood in mid-1900s and remodeled in concrete in 1964. This church survived two bombing incidents in 1981 and in 1993.

Davao City
San Pedro Cathedral

The present design of the cathedral evokes the image of a fishing boat with the roofline inspired by the prow of a vinta gliding on water, carrying a cross at its helm. The old altar is preserved at the right wing of the cathedral.

San Pedro Cathedral is 5 minutes walk from City Hall of Davao and just in front of Osmena Park.

Next Destination: Mandarin Tea Garden, Gaisano Mall

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Monday, July 13, 2015

City Hall of Davao

The American government built the local government building as municipal hall in 1926, eleven years before the place was declared as a chartered city by then President Manuel L. Quezon in 1937. The City Hall of Davao City underwent several renovations and expansions through the years.  However, the original design of the facade remains the same.

City Hall of Davao

This City Hall of Davao is only 10 minutes walk from People's Park.

Next destination: San Pedro Cathedral
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Friday, July 10, 2015

A Must Try: Taklobo Restaurant at Jack's Ridge Davao City

Jack's Ridge Resort and Restaurant is located in Shrine Hills, Matina Davao City Philippines. Jack's Ridge houses plenty of its well-known grill and restaurants. It is nestled at the top of Shrine Hills and offers a panoramic view of Davao City which is really worth watching experience especially at night.

Taklobo Restaurant at Jack's Ridge
Jack's Ridge

How to get there? Well, you have two options.
Jeepney. From downtown, ride a jeepney going to Matina and ask the driver to stop at Shrine Hills. This option is a lot cheaper. From there, you will walk until you reach Jack's Ridge. Yes, walk. It is advisable to walk in the morning around 9am and stop in every station. You will get there by lunch if you will do that, seriously. Haha!
Taxi. Well, this is a lot easier. From downtown, just grab a taxi and ask to take you at Jack's Ridge. It will cost Php100-120.

We preferred to grab a taxi and went there. It cost us Php100 from downtown. When we get there, we watched the panoramic view of Davao City before heading to Taklobo Restaurant.

Jack's Ridge
Panoramic view of Davao City

Taklobo is the main restaurant in Jack's Ridge that offers delectable Filipino food that will surely make you come back again. The recipes themselves are familiar but it’s a convenient place to get a filling meal.  Grilled tuna and kinilaw are the favorites on their seafood-heavy menu.

Taklobo Restaurant at Jack's Ridge
Taklobo Restaurant

While waiting for our food, these guys were serenading the guests with an unlimited selection of popular songs.

Taklobo Restaurant at Jack's Ridge

Finally, our orders came.

Taklobo Restaurant at Jack's Ridge

Their kinilaw is good for 2-3 person. I don't eat kinilaw, but this one, tastes really good. It is cubed raw tuna mixed in vinegar, onions, lemon juice and slices of cucumber and radish. This costs Php167.35. 

Taklobo Restaurant at Jack's Ridge
Sweet and Sour Lapu-lapu

Their Sweet and sour Lapu-lapu really delicious. It is crispy fried baby Lapu-lapu, sauteed in fresh tomatoes and onion and gets a real make over with its flavorful sauce. This costs Php364.

Taklobo Restaurant at Jack's Ridge
Mango Shake

And for drinks, we ordered mango shake. Although we were already full, we still ordered desserts. We tried their Leche flan and Durian flan which costs Php75 and Php80 respectively.

Taklobo Restaurant at Jack's Ridge
Durian Flan

Taklobo Restaurant at Jack's Ridge
Dine in overlooking view of Davao City

We paid Php997.51 for all of our orders (of course including rice). Not bad, right?

Shrine Hills, Matina Davao City 8000 Philippines
Tel no: 63.82.2978830 to 31
Cell no: 0921.801.3499
Email add:

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A Must See Tourist Attraction: Lon Wa Buddhist Temple

From Gaisano Mall, we ride a jeepney with Route 4 labels and dropped by at the Lon Wa Buddhist Temple before going to Samal Island.

The Longhua Temple, also known as the Lon Wa Buddhist Temple is one of the biggest Buddhist temples in the Philippines and the biggest in the island of Mindanao. It is a must-see tourist attraction in Davao City. It is located along J.P. Cabaguio Avenue in Agdao District, about 3 to 4 kilometers northeast of the center of downtown Davao City. 

Lon Wa Buddhist Temple

Lon Wa or Long Hua means "Temple of the Dragon". It is home to Kung Fu monks and nuns of the Philippine Academy of Shakya, a Buddhist religion movement. Many Chinese migrants and tourists visit this place to worship and pay respect.

At the entrance, a smiling Buddha awaits visitors to the Temple where two large lion statues close to the flight of stairs stand guard at the foreground of the temple.

Inside the Temple

Admission is free and the Temple is open to the public from 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM. A guard usually stands at the entrance gate to assist visitors inside the Temple. 

The Temple is very accessible by public or private transportation. Jeepneys with Route 10 labels or those with signboards going either to Sasa or J. P. Cabagiuo usually traverse the route that pass by the Temple.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Mandarin Tea Garden at Gaisano Mall Davao City

My boyfriend said that whenever they go out with his family, they always consider dining at Mandarin Tea Garden restaurant for they serve delicious foods. So, my boyfriend suggest to try the foods in this restaurant.

Mandarin Tea Garden offers tasty Chinese cuisine for a reasonable price. They have a lot of food choices from noodles soup, veggies, fish dishes and meats. The foods they serve are often mixed with dried herbs and spices which makes the food more delicious and aromatic.

Mandarin Tea Garden at Gaisano Mall
You can also indulge with a variety of choices from their tropical fruit shakes like mango, durian, watermelon, avocado and lots of others.

We ordered steamed shrimp dumpling, sweet and sour shrimp which is good for 2-3 person, and a plain rice platter which is also good for 2-3 person, tropical fruit salad, calamansi juice and orange juice. We paid only paid Php457. 

Sweet and Sour Shrimp

Sorry, hindi na namin nahintay yung other orders namin. Super natakam na kasi kami kumain. Haha. Tara Kain!

Next Destination: The Peak at Gaisano Mall

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The Peak at Gaisano Mall Davao City

The Peak in Gaisano Mall is the newest hangout attraction in Davao. It is the expansion of the existing mall which houses several restaurants. The inviting lure of the Mall's sky-park themed Al fresco ambiance and beautifully landscaped surrounding with its interactive fountains at the center is surely a happy treat to families and friends even business associates needing to shop and dine or simply hang-out and relax from stressful day. 

What’s nice with The Peak is it is panoramic 360 degrees view of the city of Davao and you can even see the Davao Gulf and the picturesque island of Samal with  its mountain and the sea surrounding it.

It is a perfect place for dinner dates because of the romantic view of the city at night. It's too bad that I can't stay longer until night to see it. 

Next destination: Secdea Beach Resort, Samal
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Monday, July 6, 2015

DIY to SECDEA Beach Resort: The New Paradise in Samal Island

The Island Garden City of Samal is home of finest beach resorts Southern Mindanao region. So if you’re looking for a place somewhere in Davao that is worthy of your time and money, then Samal is the perfect escape for you. There are so many resorts and there are also a lot of options to choose from depending on your needs, budget and adventure preferences.

SECDEA Beach Resort: The New Paradise in Samal Island
SECDEA Beach Resort: The New Paradise in Samal Island

SECDEA Beach Resort is the newest resort that is conveniently located in San Isidro, Babak District. It is easily accessible whether by a private car or the island’s famed habal-habal ride.

From Lon Wah Buddhist Temple, we ride a jeepney to Sta. Ana Wharf. Then we get lost. Haha! They said that we should go to Sasa Wharf if we will going to Babak Wharf. So, we asked the jeepney barkers what jeepney should we ride that passes through Sasa Wharf and they answered different routes such as Panabo, Panacan and Tibungco. My boyfriend said that we will ride which ever comes first. From Magsaysay, we ride on a jeepney signed Panabo. Then we jumped-off in Sasa Wharf. Fare is only Php15 each. 

At Sasa Wharf, we paid Php10 each, registered our names and ride on the barge to Babak.

samal island
Payment area

samal island

samal island
Sasa Wharf

samal island

samal island
Time to ride

samal island
After 10 minutes, Welcome to Samal!

From Babak wharf, there are private vehicles, multicabs and single motorcycle which can take you to Secdea Beach Resort. If you are in a group of 5, better ride on a multicab. But you can also ride a habal-habal (means you will ride at the motorcycle). Habal-habal is good for two person. Either you ride on a multicab or habal-habal, fare is Php75 per head. You may also book Secdea's private van transport for Php1000/way. But we opted to ride a habal-habal and it takes 20 minutes drive from Babak Wharf to Secdea. About 50% of the road leading to the resort is already paved so expect some rough roads ahead.

From the entrance gate of Secdea, we were asked by the guards if we have reservations and then asked for the name. From the gate, we ride on their golf cart to their reception building.

Secdea Beach Resort
Secdea's Reception Building

Secdea Beach Resort
Secdea's Reception Building Entrance

Secdea Beach Resort
Open Lobby
Secdea Beach Resort
Fish pond

Secdea Beach Resort

We checked-in exactly 4:30PM. The receptionist gave us the key for our cottage. Then we looked for our cottage and we headed this way.

Secdea Beach Resort

Secdea Beach Resort

Secdea Beach Resort
Dining area outside the restaurant

From at the dining area outside the restaurant, you will see their swimming pool. Actually, they have two swimming pool, the other one is the infinity pool, but I didn't noticed it while we were walking to our cottage because I was so excited to roam around.

Secdea Beach Resort
Infinity pool view from the dining area

Their staffs welcome us with a smile. We asked where was our cottage, and he said that it was the end room near the Mangrove walk. He also told us to call them if we need something.

And this is our room. We chose this room because it's near the pool. Let's take a look inside.

Secdea Beach Resort
Seaside cottage

Secdea Beach Resort
Queen size bed

 Near the queen size bed is the refrigerator. What's inside?

see what's inside

It contains chocolates, softdrinks, and beers. You can eat and drink that and you will pay for it when you checked out. The pricelist was stuck in the refrigerator's door.

Secdea Beach Resort
Side table and chairs

Secdea Beach Resort
32 inch television an a coffee table beside it

Secdea Beach Resort
Coffee Table

Secdea Beach Resort

Let's take a look at the back door...

Secdea Beach Resort
Table and chairs for two

Here, you can have your breakfast. But take note, there is an additional payment of 10% for room service.

Secdea Beach Resort
Back door of our cottage

From the back door, you will see the Mangrove Walk, and the pool.

Before we went out of our cottage, we called the restaurant and ordered for our dinner to be served at 7:00PM at the restaurant. Their restaurant is open from 6:00am to 10:00pm for now. Last orders will be taken by their staffs at about 9:00pm.

Now, let's explore the place...

Secdea Beach Resort
Mangrove walk

Secdea Beach Resort
Mangrove walk

Secdea Beach Resort
Mangrove walk to Octagon Bar
You can enjoy the mangrove and the various fish that live among the mangrove roots by strolling on their walkways. The short walkaway is visible from the jetty while the longest one can be accessed from Jet-ski/Kayak station. The longer walkaway leads you to the Fishing Lagoon.

Secdea Beach Resort
Inside the Octagon Bar

Secdea Beach Resort
The Octagon Bar

Now let's go swimming...

Secdea Beasch Resort
swimming pool

Secdea Beach Resort

We had our dinner around 7:00PM. We spent Php475 for our dinner. It's so sulit!

The next morning, we had our breakfast at 7:00AM at the restaurant. Before we roam around the resort.

Secdea Beach Resort
Danggit, Egg and Garlic Rice

Secdea Beach Resort
Chicken Tocino, Egg and Garlic Rice
We had a really heavy breakfast. I liked their rice, whether its plain or garlic rice unlike in other restaurants. It's so heavy in the stomach even I only ate one cup. Haha! And it's the first time I ate chicken tocino. It really tastes good. 

After stomach is full, let's take a walk and continue exploring. There are service golf carts and bicycles available for rent in case you want to explore the 10 hectare property at your leisure. 

From outside the Secdea's Reception building, you will see their Massage and Spa area.

Secdea Beach Resort
Massage and Spa Cabin
Whole body massage is worth 750/person which lasts for 1 ½ hour. They have Bamboo Massage, Swedish Massage, Hot Stone Massage, Deep Tissue, Shiatsu and Ventosa. Head and Neck Indian Massage with ear candle, Back and Arm Massage, and their Leg and Foot Massage is worth 375/person each which lasts for 45 minutes. They also offer foot scrub with pedicure worth 560/person.

Secdea Beach Resort
Villa Secdea 2nd floor is good for 12 person

Secdea Beach Resort
Seashell Room good for 3 person

Secdea Beach Resort
Sea Breeze Lodge good for 4 person

Here are their regular rates as of June 2015.

Accommodation Type
Talisay Rooms (2pax)
Php 4,000.00
Amakan Rooms (4pax) *non-aircon, use of common T&B
Php 4,000.00
Seaside Rooms (2pax) *Not Hot Shower
Php 4,290.00
Seashell Rooms (3pax)
Php 5,390.00
Sea Breeze Lodge (4pax)
Php 8,140.00
Villa Secdea Two /2nd Floor (12pax)
Extra person/bed charge
Php 550.00/pax
Lunch for Overnighters
Php 450.00/pax
Rates are subject to change without prior notice.
  • Check in time is at 2:00pm, check out 12:00nn
  • Complimentary breakfast is served for regular overnight guests
  • Complimentary kayak usage of 30 mins. 
  • Free accommodation for maximum of 2 children, 7yrs below per group.
  • Free use of facilities such as Wi-Fi Access, Cable TV, Hot/Cold showers in selected rooms, Swimming Pool, and Volleyball Court.
Secdea Beach Resort
Going up to see the view

secdea beach resort
Secdea Beach Resort View

One last time, we enjoyed their infinity pool.

Secdea Beach Resort
At Infinity pool

Secdea Beach Resort
Oh! We have 30 minutes usage of kayak... Awesome!
After swimming, we used our 30 minutes used of kayak. Other amenities such as watersport equipment, bicycles, golf carts, Table Tennis, Badminton, & Basketball are available for a fee.

Secdea Equipment Rates
Secdea Equipment Rates

We started to pack at 11:00am and checked-out by 12:00PM. At the open lobby of reception building, there are lots of people went there for day tour. 

Secdea's Day Tour package is worth Php750/head for adults and Php550/head for 7 years old and below which includes entrance fee, use of swimming pool and beach, 15 minutes usage of kayak and buffet lunch. For overnight guests, they offer buffet lunch worth Php450/head. 

Secdea Beach Resort
Buffet Lunch

Secdea Beach Resort
check-out time 12:00pm

Whether you are here for overnight or day tour, I am sure you will going to love the entire place and wish to come back over and over again. Secdea’s accommodation and entrance fee may be quite pricey, but is nonetheless, worth its value.  

For more information, you may check the details and related information below. 

SECDEA Beach Resort
San Isidro, Babak District
Island Garden City of Samal
Samal no. (082)305-2774 / (082)305-4028
Mobile no. 0923-724-4938
Davao booking office no. (082)295-7912
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