Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The President's Cup Regatta lights the "Summer Is Here" flare

It took a while, but Summer is finally here. Its hot and windy outside. Not your usual day at Subic Bay.

Scores of beautifully painted sails greeted my casual dive along Waterfront road last Tuesday afternoon. So I decided to investigate.

Hmm... yatchs. Lots of them. Ladies (and gents), as well. I took a risk and asked a female Boardwalk Inn staff, "what's up with those ships?" Without looking at me, she shot back, "President's Cup, and Summer!"

That's seals it. I needed the "Summer is here" confirmation, since there were unusual rain showers during the last two weeks.

To those who are planning a trip to Subic, fear not. The lady said summer is up, and I am sure she can predict the weather here better that your television weather reporters.

Just make sure that you book your rooms at least two weeks ahead of schedule. Room rates are pretty steady despite the demand.

Below are some hotels in Subic. But be warned that under no circumstance that their inclusion in the list below is an endorsement from this blog. I've been to some of them and I will write about it in some other time.
There is one hotel in the list below that I wouldn't stay in. Never.
Enjoy the hunt. And let it be said, "book at your own risk!"

Read the blog about this Hotel

For those who have more time to burn, click this link for hotels in Subic. You might think I am pulling your leg, but if you are serious at getting the best rooms in the area, click the Ads by Google link. They have great and very helpful reviews about the hotels.
If you have issues about the Google ads, then go to the website, and look for Subic Bay hotels.
Here are some photos of the yachting event.

All photos courtesy of Jun Dumaguing, Jr.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Subic Bay and Clark are now twins, with Metro Manila as an older sibling

AFTER almost a decade, the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) now links the former competitors, Subic Bay Freeport Zone and Clark Special Economic Zone.

The vision of linking Subic and Clark via an expressway came about after then Clark's Chief Executive Officer Rufo Colayco and former SBMA chair Felicito Payumo took a, well, let's call it helicopter date. Within the week, the plan was presented to former President Joseph Estrada by the Dynamic Duo, and approved. It was late 1999, some 13 months before Erap was forced out of office.

Politicians do get things done --- at least sometimes.

Here are some photos of the highway (reputedly the longest expressway in the country). I decided to keep the panoramic and more scenic photos along the SCTEx so as not to spoil the suprise, the OHHHs and the AHHHs!

Visiting Subic Bay is now a reasonable option for residents of the Metropolitan Manila.

It also makes Subic's schedule of events this summer bit more important. First, because it reduces a 2 hours and 30 minute trip by almost an hour. Second, traversing the SCTEx is like watching a National Geographic special. Just don't leave your seat for a popcorn and Coke at 80 kms per hour. Nasty!

And finally, once you enter the highway via the North Luzon Expressway, you will definetely end up in Subic, since that's the only exit you will find, Hahaha! At least for now.

Monday, March 17, 2008

DAYO: First full-length feature animation film produced entirely in the Philippines

(Teaser Trailer Only)

While preparing for a symposium that I will be attending, I came across this teaser trailer of DAYO.

I haven't seen the film, though. It is really great to see Filipinos finally taking a risk and creating content in for our national pride.

Enjoy the trailer. Better still, buy the video and support the Filipino animators!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Pier One: Great ambiance. Great food... if you can wait for it.

One of the busiest place in Subic is Pier One Bar and Grill.

People usually troop in droves starting Friday until Sunday. So, I went with the crowd last March 14. Scores of St. Joseph's School alumni who are celebrating their 60th Founding year were there to talk about yesteryears.

My group shied away from the open area, and opted to while away time at the restaurant's airconditioned room. There were at least s200 people at the grill, but not one joined us, despite the incredibly humid night.

The band, composed of three lovely ladies, belted our pop hits. One of them, sadly I forgot her name, is reputedly the best female vocalist in Olongapo City. Here is a video of one of their bands.

The blaring Retro music was stirring the crowd into a frenzy--- credit the oldies (ahem) from SJS for it. Those not accomodated by the limited stage, opted to "swing it" by their chairs. The least that could be said is that the patrons were enjoying themselves.

The waiter tapped my shoulder for my order. "SanMig light (P60). Marlboro lights (P60). Tuna sisig (P149)," I told him. Off went the waiter after my friends (Ansbert again and Lance) gave their orders. Click this link for their menu. However, for the Subic branch, add around 20% to the price indicated.

A full ten minutes later, the beers came. The SML wasn't room temperture, but it wasn't that cold. "Them oldies (ahem) from SJS again," I sighed. "Couldn't they have ordered one less cold SanMig light for this Saint Anne Academy alumni?"

It's good thing the Marlboro Lights came soon after. "Hmm puffing away carcinogenic clouds of smoke will go somewhere else," I thought.

So, after 30 minutes of live band action, gyrating hotties on stage, and some yesteryear bodies on the dance floor, the tuna sisig (and the rest of the selection) landed on our table. The verdict? It was great. I am sure that my hunger (remember: 30 minutes waiting time) contributed to Pier One's claim of "Great Food."

Hmm, maybe a hungry stomach is the secret to great tasting food?

Pier One's webpage says its "meat and seafood are delivered fresh regularly and processed promptly to guarantee freshness." If only they cooked them and delivered them faster, then it would be fresher, wouldn't it?

Some readers wanted a rating system. So, below is a ten-point rating system, ten (10) being the highest, and 1 (one) being the lowest. I will include this system in my previous posts. Just one catch, a score of 3 is definitely a "do not visit."

PIER ONE BAR & RESTO Filipino Cuisine
Waterfront Road, Central Business District
Subic Bay Freeport Zone
Open 10:00 am to 2:00 am (Daily)
Tel No:(63-47) 252-5970 / 1346

7 -Food (for Pier One, this rating includes the taste contribution of hunger)

8 -Place

9 -Band (if any)

6 -Service

7 -Price
7.4 -Net Rating

Monday, March 10, 2008

One Night Only: Cecil Licad @ Casa San Miguel

Photo from

Guess where my 10-day ticket hunt for the Cecil Licad show (March 15, 2008) at Casa San Miguel (CSM), San Antonio, Zambales led me?

Unfortunately, there is no webpage about the show, nor a website about Casa San Miguel where you can buy tickets.

Good thing a friend of mine, Jen Velarmino, knew a certain Lucy of CSM, and I was able to reserve five seats. The simple way was to contact Coke Bolipata, but a lost cellphone number complicated the matter.

As a DZFE-FM fanatic, I listened to classical music while studying at the FEU freedom park. One December day in 1989, a DZFE jock said that a Pinoy lady was making waves playing the piano (referring to Licad). The crummy guy forgot to play her piece.

So I asked around, and found a Betamax copy. Scratchy, and bad recording. But, I loved it!

I never had a chance to watch her, though. A promdi kid like me could not afford the tickets at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). Unless my grades (read: life) depended on it.

Tickets prices: P300, P500, P1,000, and (ahem) P1,500 .

Twenty years later, guess which ticket I could afford?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Lighthouse at the end of the road

Photo: Johann Ong, Colors of Subic
Lighthouse Marina
My moolah wasn't enough to get me a room at this hotel. Room rates start at around P6,000 or about US$148 per night, which they claim is "adequately for 2 adults and/ or 2 adults and 2 kids." Their words, not mine.

So, I decided to check out the surroundings, after all, its free.

Their pool, with a jacuzzi, is a bit small. Remember the magic number: US$148/room/night. But, lest we forget, the Lighthouse can't match the adjacent body of water --- Subic Bay.

No sense in writing about something without burning my moolah, so I asked my friend, Ansbert Joaquin of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, to have lunch at the Sands Restaurant.

It was chicken for him, beef for me. It was pretty good. And was worth it -- taste-wise and gram-wise. Our bill for one sitting? Around P900 pesos, including drinks and a pack of Marlboro Light Gold. Plus, the service was friendly and the place was cozy enough.

So that ended my spending for the rest of the day.

Don't get me wrong, if I had a place with a view like they have of Subic Bay, I would charge 2 dollars more than what they are charging for a room.

Last December, Dante Pollescas of Subic Enerzone (the Freeport's power distributor) sponsored a get together with Subic-based media at the 720 Bar. The food was great, the ambiance was terrific. It was really a place that an executive of a power firm would enjoy, especially at night. South Korean Hanjin shipbuilding facility's bright light illuminates the dark expanse of the bay.

For the adverturer, that's enough reason. If you think not, how about a "spot the Lighthouse Marina contest?" Check out this link.

So how do I size up the Lighthouse hotel?




Monday, March 3, 2008

Crown-of-Thorn starfishes attack Subic Bay

Thousands of poisonous crown-of-thorn starfishes are marching into Subic Bay. Hmm... can they approximate the damage being done by our politicians? I doubt.

Needless to say, these creatures, while hurting the marine econsystem, are also a threat to human beings.

Dive shops found a reason to rally together and stop their petty quarrels. They are now busy rounding up these creatures, and are calling on other amateur divers to lend a helping hand.

According to Ameth dela Llana-Koval of the Subic Bay's Ecology Center pollution is one of the reason for this phenomenon. While many scientists agree, there is still no consensus as to the real cause.

I understand that there are marine biologists studying the phenomenon. If you know them, give them a ring.

Photo below show what the divers have gathered in just a couple of minutes. As of today, some 20,000 have been collected.

Here is another group of divers working on the problem.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Lopez named SBMA's Employee of the Year; Cheers!

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) honored its best employee of 2007 last Friday, February 29, 2008.

Norberto Lopez is a fireman, and is also a member of the SBMA emergency services team that responds to calamities in and out of the Freeport.

If you see him, give him a pat on the back. He deserves it.

There were four other finalists that fateful night, but only the winner seserves the honor in this articles, and that's Mr. Lopez.


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