Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Cebu Pacific to Fly to Honolulu, Hawaii in 2015

Low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific is slated to fly to Honolulu in 2015 according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.  Although a launch date has not officially been set, the Gokongwei-owned carrier hopes to launch the US route by the middle of next year.

Image by: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
Sales officials for Cebu Pacific were in Hawaii's largest city from November 16 to 20 in order to meet with the Philippine consul, Gina Jamoralin, travel agencies, the local Filipino community, business groups, and airport officials in an effort to survey the market.  Officials from Cebu Pacific said that Jamoralin "expressed appreciation Cebu Pacific’s announcement, which will open up more opportunities for business and tourism travels for the Filipino and American people."  

Image by slowking4/Wikimedia
If the launch pushes through, Honolulu could become Cebu Pacific's first destinations in the United States.  The carrier has also recently expressed interest in starting passenger flights to Guam.  Since last year, Cebu Pacific has been launching flights outside the East Asia region flying to cities such as Dubai.  It also recently began flights to Sydney, Kuwait, Riyadh, and Dammam.

The announcement comes amidst expansion of Philippine carriers into the United States market, following the reinstatement of its Category 1 rating by the US Federal Aviation Administration. Without the Category 1 rating, local carriers are not able to expand their operations in the US or substitute newer aircraft on existing US routes. Philippine Airlines has been taking full advantage of the recent upgrade by deploying its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft to its San Francisco and Los Angeles. PAL also announced a gradual increase in its Honolulu flights to daily service, which is expected to commence in December. 

Cebu Pacific Draws Closer to PAL's Tokyo Haneda Slots

As it prepares to accept delivery of additional aircraft in 2015, Cebu Pacific, the country's largest low-cost carrier is planning to expand its footprint in Japan. The carrier is currently eyeing coveted landing slots being held at Tokyo's premier gateway, Haneda Airport, by Philippine Airlines.

cebu pacific haneda
Copyright Photo: Angelo Agcamaran/PPSG
After the recent negotiation of the Japan-Philippines air services agreement, Philippine Airlines was awarded all fourteen weekly entitlements between Manila and Tokyo Haneda. Cebu Pacific had originally filed an application for seven of the entitlements but it was rejected by the Civil Aeronautics Board citing that Haneda is an airport for business travellers and requires carriers that can offer Business Class. 

Although Haneda Airport primarily does serve business travellers due to its close proximity to the city, it is not exclusive to any particular type of carrier and several low-cost carriers already serve the airport with many business travellers flying aboard them. 

According to Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines is currently only using eleven of its fourteen weekly entitlements and the budget carrier would like to claim the three remaining unused entitlements. The Civil Aeronautics Board enforces a "use it or lose it" policy, which enables entitlements to be reassigned in the event that they are not used by the carrier that holds the rights for a period of at least six months.

In this instance, Cebu Pacific must wait until the end of this month before Philippine Airlines and its corresponding Haneda entitlements can be challenged under this policy. A spokesperson from Philippine Airlines told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that, "The plan is to progressively phase in the remaining PAL frequencies to Haneda in the first half of 2015." But it remains unclear if these plans will materialise or if it will be too late for the Civil Aeronautics Board.

The Civil Aeronautic Board still needs to assess why Philippine Airlines failed to use all of its entitlements. If there is a valid reason presented, it is possible that they may be given an extension. "We have a 'use it or lose it' rule," said Carmelo Arcilla, Executive Director of CAB. "But it's not a hard and fast rule."

The hearing on Cebu Pacific's petition to acquire the Haneda entitlements is set for December 10. Philippine Airlines originally launched the Manila to Haneda route with twice daily flights earlier this year before immediately scaling back just one month later. 

Meanwhile, Cebu Pacific anticipates delivery of five new aircraft from Airbus next year as part of its re-fleeting program. According to Jorenz Tanada, Cebu Pacific's Vice President of Corporate Affairs, the carrier is set to receive four A320 aircraft and one A330 wide-body aircraft. 

"The Airbus A320's may be deployed to our new short-haul routes announced recently -- Cebu to Tokyo Narita and Cebu to Taipei -- in March," said Tanada. "As for the Airbus A330, we will deploy the aircraft on the Manila-Hong Kong route after the successful air talks in October." He added that the budget carrier was looking at increasing frequencies in the Middle East and possibly entering the United States, pending regulatory approvals.


Caesars Entertainment Plans Development of NAIA Terminal 2

There are bright lights shining these days at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. However, they're not the runway landing lights but rather the lights of Las Vegas entertainment magnates, eagerly seeking to develop the areas bordering the country's primary international gateway. It began with Resorts World across from NAIA Terminal 3, and now another major entertainment corporation is ready to step in and develop property near NAIA Terminal 2. 

Image Source: Vegas Party Scene
US-based Caesars Entertainment Corporation, the largest American casino operator, made famous by its Caesars Palace property in Las Vegas is seeking to develop a $1.5 billion integrated casino-entertainment centre next to NAIA's Terminal 2. The planned development is expected to draw 3.5 million visitors annually to the Philippines, more than half of what the entire country attracts at present.

According to officials at Caesars Entertainment Corporation, the Philippines has much more to offer than Macau. "Macau blossomed into a behemoth because it allowed all the major global players to operate there,"said Steven Tight, Caesars Entertainment's President for International Development. "Each operator spent huge sums to market Macau. It will be the same with the Philippines, which actually has more to offer and should be a better destination."

Tight noted that Macau has grown at a rapid pace now boasting more than forty casinos with six times more revenue than Las Vegas. Although the Philippines is targeting gaming investments, the Philippine Government remains divided over the entry of another casino giant. President Aquino indicated in October that the Department of Tourism supports the proposal, while the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation is against it.

Caesar's Entertainment is targeting a thirty hectare government property that has primarily been idle. The company hired foreign experts to assess the re-design of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to connect Terminals 1 and 2 with light rail transit. 

Image Source: ADP-I
The foreign experts also indicated that there are ways to raise the number of flights on the existing runways. According to Tight, this would be accomplished through the construction of a new control tower with technologically advanced equipment that is able to guide aircraft from as far as 150 miles away, instead of the current 50 miles, which should enable more take-offs and landings.

In addition, the consultants are recommending that additional high speed exits be constructed in order for aircraft to immediately clear the runway after landing, which would give way to the next aircraft to either take off or land.

If the project pushes ahead, it is expected to create 20,000 jobs in the Philippines, establishing the country as not only a casino destination, but a major tourist destination. "There are sectors that are saying that Caesar's Entertainment would not be valuable to the gaming industry and the country revenue-wise," said President Aquino. "But there are also those who say that Caesars is a brand name that kind of tells the world that we have arrived."

Travellers Beware: Six Ways to Piss Off Filipinos

Filipinos are generally known to be friendly, happy, easy-going and hospitable. In fact, in some world surveys studying who are the friendliest or happiest people, you would often find Filipinos among the Top 10 like the Eden Strategy Institute's Happiness Index and HSBC's Expat Explorer Survey. But just because they---or should I say, we---are friendly to a fault, that doesn't mean we don’t get offended. In fact, we, Filipinos are some of the most sensitive people especially when it comes to our culture and heritage. And with social media, you will earn the ire of the entire Filipino netizen community should you commit any of the following:

Image Source: Wikimedia
1.      Insult our food.
Never say anything derogatory about our food as one travel blogger did when she said how she’d rather go hungry than eat our food again.

Also, never ever turn down food offered to you for whatever reason. You need not finish the entire thing but not having a single bite is an affront.

Image Source: Le Terre Sotto Vento
2.      Insult our city.
In 1998, Hollywood actress Claire Danes described Manila as a “ghastly and weird city" and how it "smelled of cockroaches, with rats all over, and that there is no sewerage system, and the people do not have anything - no arms, no legs, no eyes." That got her declared persona non grata. I don’t know if that was ever lifted.

On a more recent note, author Dan Brown described our capital as the “gates of hell” in his book, Inferno, and received an open letter from a government official.

Image Source: Gulf News
3.      Assume we are all maids.
A Hong Kong columnist called us a “nation of servants” which earned him a ban in our country which was subsequently lifted after his apology.

A Singapore-based Facebook user referred to the win of the Philippine candidate in the 2013 Miss World competition as a joke and called our representative a maid. That earned her a hate page.

A Hong Kong textbook depicted a Filipino as a domestic helper in the pursuit of racial harmony.

A Hong Kong (again) insurance ad showed a Chinese actor comically portraying a Filipino maid.

Image Source: Grayline
4.      Insult our heritage.
Before the turn of the 21st century, a cookie that was dark on the outside but white on the inside was named Filipino which got the government filing a diplomatic protest in Europe.

A few years back, Filipinos in Greece took offense at how a politician likened his country’s debt woes to a Filipino woman’s servitude.  Another incident involved the same country when its dictionary defined the word, Filipineza as a maid. Yes, there was an uproar but the Philippine Department of Education secretary back then lamented how true it is when it comes to the Greek context.

Image Source: Rey Danseco
5.      Insult Manny Pacquaio.
When Canadian pop singer, Justin Bieber, posted a photo ridiculing Pacquaio after his loss to Juan Manuel Marquez two years ago, he was threatened with a ban.

Image Source: Daily Mail
6.      Disrespect what is sacred for the sake of a selfie.
Every Good Friday, the city of Pampanga reenacts the crucifixion with some men literally nailed to the cross. This is understandably a spectacle for tourists but there were a few who thought it a good idea to have a jump shot and pose like a model on the cross. One even tried to mimic Christ by stretching out her arms.

And then are things that irk Filipinos but have not reached the level of a firestorm on the Internet like assuming that the Philippines is so backward that it’s a jungle or be surprised that we can speak English. Don’t be the tourist to start them.

Now if you want to get on the Filipinos’ good side and stay on it, just do the following simple endearing things:

1.      Eat balut---that fertilized duck egg delicacy which was even featured as a challenge on the defunct show, “Fear Factor.”
2.      Speak Filipino, not necessarily fluently but just a few phrases will make you look cute.
3.      Sing or dance the latest Filipino song like the former US ambassador, Kristie Kenny did.
4.      Praise our food like TV food chef, Anthony Bourdain did.

In short, just be nice and you will get to rewind your Philippine memories with fondness.

-The Paranoid Traveler

Would you like to visit the Philippines? Check out our Philippine hotel promos!

The views expressed in this article belong solely to the author and do not represent the views of Philippine Flight Network.

Abe's Farm: A Fusion of Fine Arts and Fine Food

“In the heart of Pampanga, in the foothills of the dormant volcano, Mt. Arayat, nestles a new lifestyle destination…” reads Abe’s Farm’s brochure. Good thing I didn’t know about the volcano thing! Nevertheless, visiting Abe’s Farm, a sister company of my favorite Filipino restaurant, Abe’s, was indeed “a haven of hidden delights.”

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
The ride going to Abe’s Farm was enjoyable with very light traffic and good friends to pass the time with. Actually, the only traffic we encountered was after North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) as there were two funeral processions hogging the small roads.

The funny thing is when we checked the website for directions, it just said to “ask directions to Barangay Ayala” upon reaching the town. Don’t know why they couldn’t be more detailed or visual. Anyway, left with no choice, we followed their suggestion and eventually found it as every person we asked knew where it was.  The sporadic signs that popped up in the direction the townsfolk pointed us to were very reassuring although I wish they had more of them immediately after NLEX.

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
The road leading to Abe’s Farm was not paved and it’s kind of narrow but seeing the entrance was already a stress reliever.

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Abe’s Farm houses a restaurant such as the one pictured above as well as a spa and lodging.

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
I love how they maintained the Filipino interior concept all throughout.

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
This is where they wash the dishes….

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
…as seen here.

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Even their washroom was nice.

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Better to call for reservation which we did. And as we arrived early, we were given a choice on where to sit. Would we want a private room or…

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
…the one with a view? We chose this one instead and so it was time to order.

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
I would never pass up a chance on my favorite sinuting babay squid (baby squid sautéed in olive oil and seasoning).

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
And one certainly can’t go to Pampanga without trying their famous dish, sisig (minced pork jowl and chicken liver sautéed in garlic, spices and chilies.)

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
But never miss the chance to try Abe’s signature dish, binukadkad na pla-pla (crispy fried butterfly-cut snapper (or tilapia) with sautéed fermented fish.

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
We also ordered guisadong mustasa (sautéed native mustard leaves with shrimps and tomatoes)…

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
…as well as that good ol’ Pinoy fried chicken. See how the skin is not thicker than the meat?

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
A Filipino meal is not complete without soup. This is the sinigang na bangus sa sampalok (milkfish fillet in tamarind-flavored broth with vegetables).

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
We also tried the sinuam with fresh native corn. It’s minced and sautéed fresh young corn. It was kind of creamy but not that heavy and very flavorful. It was a good complement to the dry snapper. I loved this so much that it is now my #2 must-order-always when at Abe’s, next to the baby squid.

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
And if you’re ever at Abe’s Farm, look for Aldrin, our so affable and ready-to-take-our-picture food server. He is somebody who enjoys his job!

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
After lunch, we toured the place (naturally). Although called Abe’s Farm, this four-hectare property only consisted of a spa facility, museum, and accommodations. We were kind of expecting a food farm of sorts although we were later told by our guide, Abe’s nephew and former councilor, Ernie Aguilar, that they are planning to put up an organic garden and a butterfly farm. Guess who will be coming back soon?

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
This is one of their nipa hut accommodations which has air-conditioning but the occupants must share a common bathroom outside. I just wonder how it will be when it’s pouring at night and you need to heed the call of nature.

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
The hammock underneath it.

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Another of the nipa hut accommodations which can fit two people.

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
The nipa huts are replicas of huts by the Ifugao tribes.

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
This is how you will know not to barge in. Anyway, the vacant huts were padlocked from the outside so we were not able to see the inside.

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
These are some of the scenic views you get to savor as you wander around the property.

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
The spa and the bigger accommodations share the same look.

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
How the accommodation for a dozen people looks inside. This is the bedroom below.

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Still that wonderful Pinoy interior. More sleeping area upstairs but its occupants must contend themselves with floor mattresses.

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
We didn’t know there was a museum so it was a pleasant additional surprise to our itinerary. This is the way to the museum which charges P30 per pax that will go to its foundation’s scholarship fund.

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Authentic vintage hats---the first things one sees upon entering the museum which is an old restored house.

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Anyone who is fond of antiques or curious about how things were back then will have the time of their lives here as you can even touch the items, at least some of them.

For the Pinoys out there, I don’t know about you but I hear Dolphy’s voice every time I see an old iron like the one on the left. I remember watching that black and white film on TV during lazy afternoons. They sure don’t make them like they used to. Can’t remember the title though but thanks for the memories, King of Comedy. We miss you!

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Although old, as you can see, it’s still being used.

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Beautiful old bottles lined up the window sill.

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
I can hear the guerillas…

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
The bust of the late, great artist, writer and diplomat, Emilio Aguilar Cruz---and also the father of the late Larry J. Cruz, one of the country’s innovators in Philippine cuisine and food industry.

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Abe’s actual tools.

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
His humor.

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
His personal memories.

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
His works.

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
Erwin Aguilar, our tour guide, shared that these doodles and scribbles were kept private by Abe that it was only after his death did the family know about their existence.

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
For a man of humble beginnings and tremendous accomplishments, no less than the late National Artist, Nick Joaquin, wrote his biography.

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
The very kind and helpful, Ernie Aguilar.

abe's farm
Copyright photo: The Paranoid Traveler/PFN
One can’t help but still smile with glee even after being exhausted from touring the property. As for me, I walked away learning a new term, bon vivant. Like!

For more information on Abe’s Farm, click here.

--The Paranoid Traveler