MOA Pyro Olympics 2013 Schedule, Tickets, and Highlights

Everybody loves a fireworks display. There is something awe-inspiring about a grand display of lights exploding in the sky and the way these lights fade and cascade down as if to envelope you in their beauty. Add some exquisite music to complement the timings and poetic motions of these fireworks and you have a sensory masterpiece called the Philippine International Pyromusical Competition, or Pyro Olympics for short.

The Pyro Olympics Fireworks Display is annually held at the Mall of Asia (MOA), an appropriate venue, considering the mall is as extravagant as the fireworks competition. While there is a showing of fireworks every weekend at this very big mall, the annual competition is a more special show, because, aside from the musical component, it features the best of the best from countries all over the world.

Pyro Olympics Philippines MOA

A picture of a past Pyro Olympic show, taken from the official website

If you’d like to spend a momentous occasion with family, friends, or your significant other, below is the schedule for this year’s Pyro Olympics (2013). The event is in its fourth year

Pyro Olympics Schedule 2013

February 16: Japan and Finland
February 23: Taiwan and Spain
March 2: United Kingdom and South korea
March 9: Italy and The Netherlands
March 16: China and Australia
March 23: Canada and Philippines (closing exhibition)

Time: the first show usually starts around 7:30. The next one around 9:00

Past Winners and the Reigning Champion

1. United Kingdom (UK) was the first winner of the Philippine International Pyromusical Competition
2. China took over the championship spot on the second year

Who do you think will win this year?

Video Highlights of 2013 Pyromusical Competition

At this moment, fan favorites (including mine!) are Finland and Taiwan. Below are videos of their shows, if you were not able to watch them firsthand:

Team Finland:

Team Taiwan:

Where to Watch / Buying Tickets to the Show

Why should you buy tickets? The most compelling reason is that you get to listen to the music only when you’re at the show. If I had one criticism though, I would say that even though you’re at the paid section of the event, the sounds are still a bit soft, as they are overpowered by the bangs of the fireworks. Perhaps turning up the volume would be great?

Another interesting thing bunched up with a paid ticket is an optional dinner buffet, and the buffet features food from the country participants of that week. For instance, in this week, you can enjoy some Korean kimchi. I would have wanted some bulgogi or kalbi jim to go with it too but the other dishes are not as Korean-themed anymore ;) (sorry, as you can tell, I have a love story with Korean food hehe)

If you would like to go ahead and buy the tickets, you can buy from their official website (link below), or you can try going to Ensogo for cheaper, discounted prices (limited supplies though).

You can go see the Pyromusical competition’s official website here.

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New Accommodations Opening in Ortigas Soon

The country continues to boom and grow and real estate / property development companies continue building in the metro. Expect several new hotels and serviced apartments in Ortigas to open in the next 3 years. In particular:

1. The Marco Polo Hotel, Ortigas
Slated to open by late 2013, Marco Polo Hotel will join the other five star hotels in the city (Richmonde, Edsa Shangri-La, etc). It will be located beside the Union Bank building along Meralco Avenue, a very prime CBD location, making it an ideal accommodation option for expats and other business travelers. The hotel will have 313 rooms.

Marco Polo has 2 other hotels in the Philippines – Marco Polo Davao and Marco Polo Plaza in Cebu.

2. Citadines Millenium Ortigas by Ascott
Ascott is one of the leading providers of high-end serviced apartments in the country, with apartments currently in Makati (Somerset and Salcedo), as well as a hotel right in the Ayala Glorietta mall. By 2015, this will open and offer 210 units with the same level of service that its other properties are known for. Like the Marco Polo Hotel, it is targeted towards long-stay travelers like expats and their families.

Ascott also plans to open a hotel in Taguig by 2014.

If tourism in the Philippines and Manila continues to improve then we can expect high occupancy rates and even more properties popping up in Ortigas and the rest of the country.

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Edsa Shangri-La – a Popular Spot for Locals

The hotel industry is a high-earning industry in the Philippines, and it’s not just from hotel room bookings. This is especially true for the luxury hotel, Edsa Shangri-la, which, according to a recent article caters to one million diners a year at its hotel dining establishments, excluding hotel room guests who drop by and have a bite to eat as well. It follows that there are many local guests frequenting the hotel (85 percent to be exact).

What is the reason for its success? Aside from the quality service you can expect from hotels of such 5 star caliber, it is the hotel’s convenient location in Ortigas – right beside 2 of the major malls of the city, and the tropical resort environment that the hotel exudes, complete with a swimming pool to cool off amidst the sweltering heat of Manila.

The last reason? Well, because the food is, simply put, delicious. Dishes are always served in an elegant presentation, the ingredients used are always fresh, and the recipes are gourmet. And while these dishes are usually pricey, Citibank and Edsa Shangri-la has come up with an interesting collaboration which gives card members the chance to dine at any of the hotel’s restaurants at a discount… or even for free! All you need to do is dine at a minimum of P2,000, and you get a scratch card to try your luck.

So the next time you’re craving for some lavish meals – whether it be Japanese (Senju), Chinese (Summer Palace), or a buffet feast (Heat), try heading to the hotel, from now till September 30, 2012

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The Latest Hotel Rating System

5 stars, 4 stars, 3 stars… We hear and read about these ratings all the time when we book a hotel. It’s common knowledge that the more stars a hotel has, the better that hotel is, but do we really know what goes behind these ratings?

Just a few weeks ago, our Department of Tourism released a new set of guidelines behind the star rating system, which will be formally applied during the fourth quarter of 2012 through third-party audit assessments.

This new scheme for hotels associates points with the stars. A Philippine hotel can have a maximum of 5 stars, or a maximum of 1000 points. The correlation between the points and stars is as follows:

1 star hotel: 251 to 400 points
2 star hotel: 401 to 550 points
3 star hotel: 551 to 700 points
4 star hotel: 701 to 850 points
5 star hotel: 851 to 1,000 points

How these points will be awarded has also been revised. Instead of merely focusing on the presence of a certain facility, the auditors will also evaluate the quality of these facilities as well as the service – a very compelling change as it will ensure hotels maintain a good standard at all times.

To ensure strict compliance of these guidelines, a mayor’s permit will not be issued to hotels who have less than 251 points.

Just last week, the department announced that the Philippines will be exceeding the target 4.6M tourists this year so this improved rating system will bolster their efforts and help us achieve the president’s lofty goal of attracting 10 million foreign tourists by 2016.

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Postcrossing – Bridging the Past & Present. A handy tourism tool, too!

I miss getting mail.

I’m not talking about the digital kind we receive by the hundreds every day on our email accounts. I’m talking about the real deal here – snail mail in its flesh and blood (I mean, paper and ink). But alas, because of technology, exchanging snail mails has become a thing of the past.

Until recently, with the advent of “Postcrossing”.

Haven’t heard of it? Don’t worry. It hasn’t actually boomed here in the Philippines yet. In fact, I’ve only seen one Filipino travel blogger into this interesting concept – Mum-Travels.com — musings on meanderings. You can check out the postcard she received on the blog.

Allow me to explain the whole project.

Postcrossing, which is otherwise known as the Postcard Crossing Project, allows you to receive postcards from all over the world. This usually includes a personalized message from the sender, and some country-specific stamps. So it’s like stamp collecting, postcard collecting, and pen pal all in one! In exchange, you should also send postcards to other people – a great way to spread the Filipino hospitality everywhere and inadvertently help our tourism industry!

Here’s a picturesque postcard one of the members received:

I’m really loving this movement. I think we need to step away from our LCD / CRT screen from time to time and actually touch base with other people through different means.

So why not take a breather from filtering out spam mail, reading through business replies, and all other routines we spend with our email accounts, and try this out?

And if you haven’t yet, check out our promo here, where you can win a travel envelope from Fab Manila

Enjoy!

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Giveaway: Travel Envelope from Fab Manila!

Get a chance to win this stylish and ultra-practical travel envelope from Fab Manila:

A must-have accessory for jet-setters and fashionistas alike, it comes with several compartments for you to place your passport, boarding pass, different currencies, hotel booking confirmations, rewards cards, pen, etc. You can also use it as a wallet or as a handy accessory for office appointments, etc – a versatile piece! The envelope we’re raffling comes in a beautiful shade of light blue.

Here’s how to join:
1. Like our page AllTravelSpots
2. Like Fab Manila
3. Take our “How much fun have you had in the Philippines?” quiz (Optional: Share our quiz if you enjoyed it! ;) )
4. Reply to our wall post on FB with your score. Don’t worry, your score won’t affect your chances of winning so be honest! ;)

Do share this promo to all your friends and good luck!

Note: Thanks All Promos Philippines for featuring our promo!

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The Filipino Blogging Community – a Mirror to Yourself and to the Philippines

Blogging has become such an integral part of the online world. Amidst the too-formal company profile websites and overly commercial shopping sites, it’s good to find blogs that somehow provide a more personal, intimate bridge between one writer and a loyal team of readers. To illustrate – isn’t it a lot better to read about a mom (you have somehow gotten to know through her blog posts) rave about parenting products, rather than go to Amazon.com and check out reviews from faceless people?

Not only do these bloggers help us gain more insight about products, I think they also give us a better glimpse of their background, and in this light, I think Filipino bloggers have a unique and powerful way of portraying the Philippines.

I’m not just talking about Pinoy travel bloggers, who literally talk about their journeys through some of the country’s beautiful spots, famous beaches and hole-in-the-wall areas alike (though, of course, it would be obvious that these travel bloggers are, in many ways, helping our tourism department greatly). I’m also talking about Pinoy personal bloggers and mom bloggers who, I believe, also have a very big role in creating the Philippine perception. Inevitably, they talk about a great day at the mall with their kid, or about a Filipino-made product they really like, or about developments in the country’s online industry… even just their positive outlook on life is a positive reflection on our country.

In this light, I’d like to recommend two mom blogs that I’ve discovered recently:

Mumwrites is the blog of a mom and her journey juggling parenting, good health, blogging, etc. She gives product reviews, esp. for parenting-related products, and features a couple of giveaways and freebies from time to time. Her casual style of writing and her willingness to be open about herself makes Mumwrites the type of blog that fellow moms and women in general can gain an insight from.

Cruisin Mommyhood is chock full of reflections as well as road trip experiences from a working mom. She writes like you’re having an easy conversation with her over a cup of coffee.

I hope you guys can take the time to explore a blog or two today. You might just learn a new thing about our country… or about yourself!

Similarly, I hope I do gain a bigger readership and continue to play my role in mirroring the Philippines :)

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Bourne Legacy Trailer feat. Manila Scenes

The Bourne Legacy Trailer has been released and it features some Manila scenes and… a drifting jeepney!

Now for those of you who are confused how this relates to Matt Damon’s Bourne trilogy, let me clarify some things:
1. Jeremy Renner is NOT Jason Bourne. He’s Aaron Cross, another asset.
2. He is acting upon events that Jason Bourne ignited.
3. Edward Norton and company wants to burn the whole program down and kill all the assets.

Some Filipinos have been complaining that the movie did not feature the better parts of the city. For starters, this is an action movie and not a chick flick, so don’t expect Jeremy Renner and company gallivanting around Luneta or Intramuros. They’re killing people and running away from the government and the police, and this type of action is better associated with less scenic areas. This was also the case for other countries for other movies, not just ours. Secondly, we haven’t actually seen the whole movie yet, so how about we give it the benefit of the doubt? Besides, the very fact that such a big blockbuster (with big A list actors) chose to shoot on our country reflects positively on us because they gave us their trust and they were able to finish the movie safely and with ease.

Finally, let’s wait till they show the El Nido scenes, I’m sure those will be beautiful!

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What to do in Manila during the Holy Week Long Vacation

The long weekend vacation is finally here, and I’m sure a lot of you are outside Manila, your toes digging into the fine white sand of Boracay, feasting your eyes on the wildlife at the Zoobic Safari, or enjoying the scenery of Bohol. Some of us, however, are stuck here in Manila, and with the malls and most restaurants closed, it can be quite tricky to find something to do.

Here are some suggestions to fight off boredom:

1. Reflection
The Holy Week was ideally and initially meant for people to reflect upon their devotion and the passion of Christ. Perhaps all the closed establishments is a welcome idea – it gives you more free time to just sit down and pray. Or read the bible. Or go to Church. It’s also good for the body and mind to wind down.

2. Board game / Video Game / Shabu Shabu Day
Invite a couple of friends over at your house, bring out your board games, or your Rock Band set, or your PS3, and play the day away! For lunch or dinner, consider hosting a Shabu Shabu (Japanese hot pot) and have your guests bring some raw food for a nice refreshing potluck idea, which involves cooking your food in boiling hot broth in front of you and dipping it in some delectable sauces.

3. Still itching to step out of your house?
If you’re still missing the great urban outdoors, you can head to some Starbucks branches which are open today, like the one in Congressional, Magallanes, and Waltermart. Or, you can go hang out at one of the lobbies of the luxurious hotels that dot the metro. You can head to Makati Shangri-la where you can also enjoy the peaceful music of their live orchestra. Or, you can get a sumptuous buffet at the Heat, located in the sprawling Edsa Shangri-La Ortigas Hotel.

Consider checking into a hotel in Metro Manila, enjoy a dip on the swimming pool, and getting a relaxing massage – a very welcomed one after the hectic work lifestyle of the city.

And if you still can’t handle it… you can always ride off to the nearer out of town spots, like Tagaytay and Batangas for a spontaneous getaway! The most important thing, for us, is the company of family and friends.

We hope you make the most of this long vacation. Cheers!

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Our Top 5 Fave Booths at Best Food Forward 2012

This year, all the concessionaires truly put their best food forward and our appetites were fully satisfied! I had a lot of delicious treats during the event but if I were to choose my top 5 favorite munchies during the event, it would be the following:

1. The Angus Beef Brisket Ciabatta Sandwich by Claudia’s Kitchen:
Angus Beef Sandwich
Sandwiched between two fresh, crusty Ciabatta bread slices, you get a generous amount of Angus beef brisket slices. They’re sliced pretty thick that your initial fear is that they’ll end up tough and hard to chew, but one bite of this sandwich, and you’re proven wrong. The beef is tender and tasty, adorned with a bed of fresh crunchy greens and an equally delicious sauce – a sweet barbecue sauce with a hint of some Indian spice that adds another layer of flavor to the sandwich. Suffice to say, I could have eaten several sandwiches.

Claudia’s Kitchen – Facebook Page

2. Leche Flan in a Bottle by Sugar Cakes (by Ana’s Kitchen)

leche flan coconut sugar

The first thing you’re drawn to is the quirky idea of eating leche flan in a bottle. When you open the bottle, the flan looks unassuming, not particularly special, but one spoonful of the stuff and you’re sure to get hooked! The flan does not have the cloying, artificial taste that many store bought leche flans have, and I think it is partly because of the use of coconut sugar. The consistency is also very different, much softer, doesn’t really have much of a form (which is probably why they used a bottle), almost like a Panacotta, but even softer.

Speaking of Panacotta…

3. Kenacotta

panacotta kenacotta

Named after the owner, Ken, the Panacotta is just the right amount of sweetness. Texture is perfect and the fruit toppings are fresh.

4. Fish Eggs Spread by Choco ATBP

After trying a sample of this, I instantly wanted to buy a bottle of the stuff. It tastes like anchovy with a hint of garlic and tastes great on bread or with pasta. The owner also suggested placing it on rice with a sprinkling of kalamansi. A great pick me up for the morning!

5. Mochi Ice Cream by Mochiko

Mochi Ice Cream

This great round delicacy starts off being too frozen to eat but once you start biting into it, then savoring the filling inside, you are instantly transported to dessert heaven!

There were a lot of other great finds in the fair, like the butter beer, Simply Pie’s gourmet quiches, and a stall that offered prime duck liver pate and a jackfruit seed dip which I failed to get the name of! (Help me out and comment below if you know what booth I’m referring to!) Thank you to Kenacotta for informing me of the booth’s name – It’s Jaq’s Kitchen!

The verdict? I can’t wait till Best Food Forward 2013!

How did you guys find the event? Comment below!

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