Thought Bubbles...

musings, rantings, and what-have-you, about my own small part of the world, and my 'sometimes' not so-ordinary life...something to read and reflect on, and which hopefully will bring a smile to your face... :)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Island of my dreams

This is my speech project #7, for "Research your Topic". I delivered this at my TM club last night.


Imagine this… clear and cool, blue waves gently lapping on powdery white sand. The warm sun peering through near cloudless skies. The perfect picture of calm. And you, standing waist deep in the ocean, and being able to see not just your feet, but fishes of all different colors glistening in the sun!

I used to think this was the stuff of fairy tales and dreams… but for 4 glorious days and nights last March, I actually lived my dream! And I still have the tan to prove it! ;-> The dream island actually exists, and lucky for us Filipinos, it is right here on our shores. What dream island am I talking about? Nothing else, but the world-famous Boracay island.

This is the place which elicited "ooohhhs" and "aaahhhs" from my kids! Imagine, not once did I hear them say, “Mommy, I’m bored”. Instead I heard them say: “This is great!” OR “Mommy! This is awesome” And last but certainly not the least, “Mommy, can we live here in Boracay?” Hahaha! My kids had so much fun in Boracay that they didn’t want to leave. And I can’t say I can blame them coz I wanted to stay there myself!

Tonight I want to share with you some info about this tropical paradise, where it is, how to get there, and what to do once you’re there! Basically, a guide for all first-time visitors to Boracay…

Where IS Boracay? Boracay is a dumbbell-shaped 7-kilometer speck off the northwest corner of Panay Island, in the Visayas island group of Central Philippines. The famous White Beach is its central destination, stretching for 3.5 kilometers on the west side of the “handle” of the dumbbell. A dazzling expanse of “talcum-fine” white sand, it is considered by travel connoisseurs as the world’s best tropical beach.

Central Boracay is informally divided into three sections around the three drop-off points along White Beach. These are known as Boat Stations 1, 2 & 3.

How to get there? For us Manila-based mortals, we actually have 2 options… to go by air and fly direct to Caticlan, or via Kalibo. If you take Kalibo, it’s just an hour and a half trip via bus to Caticlan, then a short ferry ride to the white sand beaches of Boracay. 2nd option is via the land/sea route and get to boracay using the RORO (fyi, RORO means roll-on, roll-off). Of course, if money is not an issue, then I suggest you fly direct to Caticlan, and be in Boracay in less than an hour! From Caticlan, you disembark at the Boat Station nearest your resort.

Boracay is both the tropical dream, and party animal’s paradise…So before you go there, decide if you want to commune with nature, or party! The hippest, "party"-est places are in Boat Stations 1 and 2, while Station 3 is relatively quieter.

Boracay is commercialized, and really a “tourist” spot. Where else can you find children going around the beach offering their service of braiding your hair in corn rows for 300 pesos! Where else can you be snorkelling in the middle of the ocean, and find vendors hawking ice cream and fresh buco juice! :D But as commercialized as it is, Boracay’s natural beauty still shines through.

All throughout the year, there are loads of people at White Beach, so if you’re like me who prefers the quiet, "deserted-island" feel, then head to Puka Beach, where there are NO crowds, the beach is cleaner, the sand just as white, but with corals and tiny, pretty rocks at your feet. You can also go up Mt. Luho, the island’s highest peak, to enjoy the beautiful view.

What else is there to do in Boracay? Go island hopping. Famous tourist spots are Crystal Cove Island where the adventure is to go down into the different crystal caves and splash in the cold, cold waters inside the caves. There’s also Crocodile Island, aptly named such, as the shape of the island from afar is in the shape of the crocodile. This is where a lot of tourists go snorkelling, and try to find nemo. Or as in the case of my kids, to feed different-colored fishes with bread right from their hands, and wherein they saw starfish the color of deep blue.

Try everything Boracay has to offer, whether it be scuba-diving, snorkelling, para-sailing, or riding a glass bottom boat, or a banana boat…

Really, there are so many things to do and see in Boracay. Still so many tips but not much time to say it! So let me leave you with the most important tip. And that is to befriend the locals! You get the best deals, the best service, plus, they’ll tell you the best places to go!

And before I end, remember, what should be every traveler’s credo:
Take Nothing but Pictures.
Leave nothing but footprints.
Kill nothing but time.

Good evening…

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Wedge of Discouragement

The Wedge of Discouragement
by Tom Venuto

One day the devil was having a sale, hawking his many diabolical tools of the trade. On display, with their price tags attached, were all the devil's tools and weapons: the arrows of jealousy, the hammer of anger, the dagger of worry, the slingshot of doubt, the axe of hatred and numerous others.

But one tool stood out above them all. Displayed prominently on a pedestal high above the rest of his wares was showcased, "The Wedge of Discouragement."

Intrigued by this little tool, which was dented and worn with use, a curious shopper inquired about the high price, because the wedge cost more than all the other tools

"Ah yes," said the devil, "THAT is my favorite tool of all. You see, it's so easy to use. It hardly takes any effort. All I have to do is get the very tip of the wedge into my victim and the rest is easy. Once the wedge is in, I just tap it ever so slightly and it slides in deeper and deeper.

"Sometimes I don't have to do anything - my victims push the wedge in deeper all by themselves! A small opening soon becomes a gaping crack, making room for the rest of my tools. Before you know it, my wedge has completely split a person's dreams, hopes and aspirations in two."

"That's why the wedge of discouragement commands such a high price - because it's my most effective tool. It has opened more doors for me than all my other tools combined."

The moral of this story is obvious and so true, isn't it? The smallest bit of discouragement can split your dreams apart - IF you let it.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Negative experience with Sea Air

I sent out this email to Mr. Mark Hilario and the Sales Department of Sea Air last April 18. This was actually the 2nd time I wrote to them, the first time being April 7, just a few days after we got back from Boracay. But up to now, there has been no reply to any of my email messages. (After waiting almost a month, decided to send this out to my network of friends, and egroups...)

Date: Tue, 18 Apr 2006 00:41:45 -0700 (PDT)
From: Sheila
Subject: Re: Experience with Sea Air

07 April 2006

Mr. Mark Hilario
Sales Manager
Sea Air

Dear Mr. Hilario:

I am writing to relate to you my experience flying with your airlines. Last March 29, 2006 (Wednesday), my friend and I, with my 2 young sons, were scheduled to take Sea Air Flight # dg038, from Caticlan to Manila.

We arrived at Caticlan around 2:30 p.m., for the 4:35 p.m. flight. Upon check-in, we were asked by the ground stewardess if we would like to take the earlier flight, scheduled for 3:15 p.m.. She then informed us that for the earlier flight, we would be taking the 19-seater aircraft.

Although we had no prior experience flying in a smaller aircraft, we had no qualms about it, so we agreed.

Upon boarding the plane, we were informed by the steward that the flight would take an hour and 5 minutes. Initially, I didn’t mind the longer flight, but I thought that the ground stewardess should have informed us about this, since she knew that we were scheduled to take the 32-seater plane (which only takes 35 minutes to fly from Caticlan to Manila). Strike 1.

Thirty minutes into the flight, my youngest son (6 years old) needed to use the toilet. So we proceeded to the back of the plane, and found out that there was NO toilet. So we had to make do, and I made him ‘pee’ in the motion sickness bag. Strike 2.

Since this was a longer flight, we expected that snacks would be served, since we knew that on the 35-minute flight, light snacks were served. Wrong! No snacks, not even water, was served during the flight. Strike 3.

It was also so hot inside the plane all throughout the flight, that my kids constantly complained and I had to fan them with the inflight magazine. (Should I even say “strike 4”?)

Upon reaching Manila, I related my experience to the ground stewardess. And though she ‘seemed’ concerned, she did not take note of my complaint. She did not make any effort to take down my name, or write down my complaint. She only said that she will inform her supervisor, which I seriously doubted.

As I mentioned to the ground stewardess in Manila, the ground stewardess in Caticlan should have explained clearly what we should have expected flying in a smaller plane. As adults, my companion and I would not have minded the inconveniences. But since I had two young children with me, these information (no toilet, no snacks, longer flight, etc.) would have been vital. And clearly, had I known these, we probably would have opted to wait for our flight on the 32-seater plane, rather than take the earlier flight. And to think that the same fare is charged whether we take the 32-seater or the 19-seater! What gives?!?!

I was really quite disappointed with this experience with Sea Air and I would think twice before flying with your airlines again. I also would hesitate to recommend Sea Air to any of my friends who are planning to go to Boracay.

In the future, you should consider incorporating Customer Service Skills/Excellence, in your training and orientation for your stewards/stewardesses.