July 24, 2014

Budget Breakdown: Iloilo Guimaras Birthday Trip 2013


Spent my birthday last March 2013 in Iloilo and Guimaras. It was quick and we did not get to visit all churches and cemeteries in Iloilo. Guimaras also needed more days to enjoy. Still, happy to have spent my birthday in a new place in the Philippines. Must get on track on my personal goal of 81 provinces by 30 years old!

Day 1 (March 7)

Iloilo Airport to SM Iloilo (Van): Php50.00/pax
SM Iloilo to Ortiz Wharf (Taxi): Php300.00
Ortiz Wharf to Jordan Wharf (Boat): Php14.00/pax
Check-in at Villa Igang: Php1,000 per night

Tricycle Rental for Land Tour c/o Kuya Cherald: PHp1,000.00
Destinations
Guisi Lighthouse
Sadsad Falls
Trappist Monastery
Mango Plantation

Target Shooting (Guimaras Adventure Park)
Lunch at Raymen’s Beach Resort: Php325.00



Day 2 (March 8)

Island Tour: Php550.00/pax
Destination
Alubihod Beach
Turtle Island
SEAFDEC
Ave Maria Island
Tatlong Pulo

Tricycle going to Jordan Wharf: Php300.00
Boat to Ortiz Wharf: Php14.00/pax
Jeep to La Paz Market: Php7.50/pax
Lunch at La Paz Market (Madge Café and Neton’s Batchoy): Php360.00
Taxi to DB Hometel: Php80.00
Check-in at DB’s Hometel: Php1,725.00
Coffee at Book Latte: Php300.00
Smallville Dinner and drinks: Php280.00

Day 3 (March 9)

Church Hopping in Iloilo (via jeepneys): Php400.00
Destinations
Molo Church
Miag-ao Church
UP Iloilo
Guimbal Church

Lunch at canteen near Guimbal Church: Php120.00
Travel to Airport: Php140.00


TOTAL COST: Php7,587.00
Cost per person: Php3793.50*


*not inclusive of pasalubong and other snacks

July 23, 2014

El Nido Escape: Shelter at Talindak Cottages

Maybe Nacpan and I were not meant to be that time. They say timing is everything. I enjoy falling in love with new places but I was more eager to meet Nacpan during our visit to El Nido. The strong drops of raining falling on the metal roof that Tuesday morning meant we have to stay indoors. We packed our bags and moved from Skyline Inn, a budget room smacked right in the middle of the town, to Talindak Cottages which was homey and a good choice if we wanted to stay indoors.
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Woke up to heavy rain in Skyline Inn
It took our tricycle driver around 20 minutes to drop us at the corner leading to Talindak. There were no paved roads from the main road going to the resort. It was all muddy and some parts were even in puddles. I did not mind getting my feet wet as it was already drizzling. I was relieved as soon as I saw the native cottages facing the sea. The waves were wild and no shore was visible. The rain was crazier when we started ringing the reception bell. Our host allowed us to stay in the mini bar area as they fixed our room. We got a beachfront but there was no beach that morning. It was all rain and sea. We placed our bags in a bamboo cabinet.


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From L to R (clockwise):  (1) Beachfront view from our room (2) view of the cottages from the beach
(3) our room for the night

Kuya was kind enough to give us free coffee as we settled ourselves in the cottage balcony. It is a known fact that there is no electricity in El Nido from 6am to 2pm. We were there as early as 9am so we occupied ourselves with our own choice of reading. I have always believed that rain, coffee, and books were a good combination. Apparently it is better when you are facing the sea even if the waves appear deadly.

Our companions for the rainy morning
Our beachfront cottage was so cozy. Our room was spacious and the balcony was ideal for reading, chilling and even playing cards. We were eager to try the seats nearer to the shore so when the rain stopped we immediately patted the chairs dry and continued our reading. By noon we had decided to skip the land tour to Nacpan as weather was not improving. Rain was as moody as a girl on her period. I would know. So I accepted that I was not fated to gaze at Nacpan that day but rather have the much needed slow day.


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Talindak Cottages did not have any restaurant so we were pointed to the nearest place, Greenview Resort. We had two ways to get there - by the beach or by the main road. Little as I am, I still chose the beach. The waves were a bit kind. I just got my knees wet but reached the resort in one piece. We headed to their second floor where the restaurant was located. There were a few guests - two Caucasian couples and one male solo traveler working on his laptop. We chose a seat with a view then ordered bbq and chopsuey. Food is a bit on the midrange price. As if there were other choices on that rainy Tuesday.

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Chopsuey for Php160.00 (good for two)
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BBQ meal with iced tea for Php200.00
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We headed back to Talindak afterwards and the shore was beginning to show itself. Even children had gone out of their houses to play in the sea. We would later find out that the shallow shore would stretch long.

I took a nap when electricity was back and the rain started to fall again. I woke up at around four with the shore completely revealing itself and the rain stopping. J was in our balcony planning the week ahead. We took the chance to walk around the beach before the dark clouds looming would reach us.

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The day ended with grilled liempo, rice, and coke consumed at our balcony. I did not see the famed El Nido sunset but it was still a beautiful day. More peaceful than other days. I guess the world needed me to slow down.

Love is unexpected. You believe you are meant for something when some other thing captures your heart. Talindak was unexpected love but it reminded me of things I needed to appreciate. I enjoyed being with my guy on a rainy day because he was my own pocket of sunshine. I fell in love with the gloomy weather. I remembered the simple joy of having a book while you watched drops of rain. The bamboo wind chimes added a rustic touch. I fell in love with the feeling of having a simple life.  It was perfect timing as the next day we went back to Puerto Princesa unsure of our flight then got to fly back to Makati two hours over our expected arrival; and finally entered a room with no electricity because of Glenda.



Contact Details:
Talindak Cottages
Sitio Lugadia, Corong Corong , 5313 El Nido, Palawan
Website: http://www.talindak.com/
Mobile: 09094925944
Email: budz_apr16@yahoo.com
Room Rate: Php1000 for Beachfront Cottage



July 21, 2014

Make it Makati: Kodanda Archery Range


Source

Back when I was a kid, I followed what my brother did during his free time. This meant playing Diablo I and II on our personal computers. While my brother chose to go with barbarian class, I chose to go with the amazon. I always preferred the bow and arrow as my weapon of choice. Even for cartoons I always root for the archer. I was already building my amazon character named "Liria" to reach at least level 45 even before the time of Legolas and Katniss Everdeen. Being an archer was always a dream. I finally got to hold a bow and arrow last May 26 to check if I can actually be a real life archer.



One Monday afternoon, I paid a visit to Kodanda Archery Range in Makati Cinema Square which is just a few blocks from the apartment. Let's assess first my stats as an "amazon" based on Diablo's skills set but having the maximum at 100.

SKILL STATS
STRENGTH: 80
DEXTERITY: 70
ENERGY: 60
VITALITY: 75

CHARACTER LEVEL: 
LVL 1



It is safe to assume I did not get a bull's eye nor did all my arrows hit the target. One even flew above the target, bounced on the wall then landed at the back of someone else's target. In a nutshell, I sucked BUT IT WAS FUN. I see myself going back to that fully air-conditioned archery range and trying it out again and again until I finally level up.

Normal recurve bow used by visitors versus
professional customized bows (below)
 

Unique find: Customized bow worth more than Php100,000.00

The good thing is you don't need any membership fees and it is open to the public.  It won't break your wallet as they have an hourly fee that already includes range rental, use of international-standard equipment and protective gear, and coaching on archery basic from expert instructors. It's also easy to locate. If you're coming from Buendia/Gil Puyat, go down at Pasong Tamo/Chino Roces and ride a jeepney going to Magallanes. Stop at Makati Cinema Square then just head to the basement. It's quite easy to spot.

Photo from Kodanda FB Page

WHAT TO WEAR
Rubber shoes are the only required get up when you go to Kodanda. All other safely gear will be provided:
□   Armguard - protection for the arm against the string’s backlash.
□   Fingertab - protection for the fingers’ repeated pulling of string.
□   Chestguard - worn over the torso especially for girls to prevent the string from snaring clothes
□   Quiver - arrow holder
□   Recurve Bow – normal bow used in our range (the same one used in the  Olympics)


Range Information
□   Fully-air conditioned indoor archery range with seven (7) 10-meter lanes and a function room that can accommodate up to fifteen (15) people
□   Located on the Upper Basement of Makati Cinema Square, Chino Roces Avenue (formerly Pasong Tamo), Makati City
□   Open from 10:30am to 07:30pm from Mondays to Sundays

Rates
□   Php550.00 per person, per hour inclusive of the following:
ü  Use of the archery range
ü  Rental of international-standard equipment and protective gear
ü  Coaching on archery basics from expert instructors
□   Add’l Php30.00 for the target paper clients can take home as a souvenir.
□   Php 200.00 is the range rental per person, per hour for those who already have their own gear


Lessons Offered
□   Php6,000.00 for ten (10) sessions, one (1) hour per session
□   Student will be issued a Certificate of Completion after the ten (10) sessions
□   Fees include the use of the archery range, and rental of international-standard equipment and protective gear
□   Dedicated coaching on basic or advanced archery from one of our expert instructors:
o   Syd Nerickzon Fraginal ( former Phil. player, sea games record holder)
o   Ronalyn Alvarez (former NCR Team member, Palarong pambansa winner)
o   Ronna May Alvarez (former member of developmental team of the Phil.)
□   Sessions will be adjusted to the student’s schedule

Group Packages
            Groups of up to 15 guests may avail of Group Packages that includes rental of international-standard equipment and protective gear, and coaching on archery basics from expert instructors.  It may also include parlor games and/or coaching sessions depending on the intention of the group.  Rates also vary depending on the exact number of guests and duration of stay in the range. 

Contact Information
            Reservations and further inquiries can be made through contact numbers (02)621.9109 and (0932)843.6614, look for May.  Our email address is kodandaarchery@gmail.com. You may also check our Facebook page: Kodanda Archery Range.


Budget Breakdown: El Nido Escape


Our trip to El Nido was supposed to be from July 12 to July 14 only but Cebu Pacific called and cancelled our flights. So we had the option to rebook for free. Chose the first flight on July 12 then the last flight for July 16 making it a 5-day retreat. You know how people say there is always a grand scheme for everything? This trip was a proof of that. Glenda hit Manila on Wednesday morning so our original Tuesday night flight would have been affected. Thankfully we got to Talindak Cottages Tuesday morning and spent the whole day just chilling in our balcony. Waves were crashing hard and rain was pouring nonstop. No Nacpan beach as originally intended but got the time we needed to pause and reflect on our lives.


Here's a quick breakdown of our expenses. 

Day 1 (July 12)
Snack and water near PPS airport: Php130.00
Eula Joy van arranged by Skyline Inn: Php500.00/pax
Stopover Lunch at Bacuit Grill: Php80.00
Tricycle from El Nido Public Market to Skyline Inn: Php50.00
Toiletries at El Nido Town: Php88.00
Check-in at Skyline Inn for 3D/2N: Php500/night for a double fan room
Dinner at The Mezzanine (seafood pasta): Php320.00
Two bottles of beer at Skyline Inn: Php120.00

Day 2 (July 13)
Tour C c/o Caera Tours: Php1400.00/pax
Tour guide: Brandon
Environmental Fee (good for 10 days): Php200.00/pax
Snorkel plus mask: Php100.00/pax
Iced Coffee at The Alternative: Php79.00
Dinner at Aplaya Resto Bar: Php489.00


Day 3 (July 14)
Tour A c/o El Bacuit Tours: Php1200.00/pax
Tour guide: Leo
Snorkel and Mask: Php100.00/pax
Dinner at Coco Bar: Php310.00

Day 4 (July 15)
Check-in at Talindak Cottages: Php1000 for 2D/1N for fan duplex cottage
Lunch at Greenviews Resort: Php360.00
Dinner (liempo and rice bought at El Nido town): Php180.00

One of Talindak's Cottages

Day 5 (July 16)
5AM Van to Puerto Princesa: Php500.00/pax
Lunch at NCCC Mall Puerto Princesa: Php230.00
Terminal Fee: Php150.00/pax

Airfare via Cebu Pacific: Php2311.60

TOTAL: Php15,397.60 for 2pax
Php7,698.80 per pax

Contacts:
Darwin (09218299600)
Tricycle Driver around Puerto Princesa




Skyline Inn (09172576978)
Talindak Cottages (09094925944)




June 24, 2014

Send Off: The Cebu Pacific Juan for Fun Backpacker Challenge



 "Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience."

Five student teams. Seven destinations in nine days. The Cebu Pacific Juan for Fun Backpacker Challenge on its third year chose five teams each composed of three college students to fly around the Philippines and abroad. Back in college, I was already excited when I would take a bus to Quezon. Don't you wish we had this kind of opportunity back then? I'm sure I would do all sorts of acts just to join a challenge like this. The excitement was so raw on each team when they were sent off yesterday, July 24, to their first destination: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. They will be staying in Kuala Lumpur for two nights before exploring local Philippine destinations - Manila, Legazpi, Cebu, Camiguin, Cagayan de Oro and Davao. The adventure will end on July 2, 2014.

To help the teams on their quest, Cebu Pacific has tapped five noted personalities known for their love of travel, to play the role of Adventure Coaches. Volleyball star Gretchen Ho, Internet celebrity Bogart the Explorer, sportsman and TV host Paolo Abrera, champion surfer Luke Landrigan and travel writer Jude Bacalso are on board to mentor each team during the course of the challenge. They will stay in touch with their respective teams and cheer them on through social media. 




So what exactly is the "challenge"? The teams must have as many fun activities with their MYR800 (approximately PHP10,900) and PHP30,000 allowance, and win as many special fun challenges as possible. Do you think these youngsters have what it takes?

The Top Five Thrill-seeking Teams



Team Juanabees is made up of Cams Abandula (19, UP Diliman), Kirk Coronel (19, University of San Carlos Cebu) and Gian Paglinawan (19, UP Mindanao). This unstoppable trio representing schools in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao are passionate about meeting new people, discovering new wonders, and enjoying every second of life. Giving them sage advice and travel tips is volleyball star and TV host Coach Gretchen Ho.

Liang Borlagdan and Mara Sy (21, Ateneo de Manila University) and Julia Negre (21, UP Diliman) of Team Juanderlust are banking on their individual strengths to win the competition and take home the big prize. Best friends since they were little, this all-girl team will be paired off with dynamic travel writer Coach Jude Bacalso. 


Phoebe Alba and Cyp Basa (18, UP Visayas), and Gail Dela Rosa (17, Filamer Christian University) are ready to march to adventure as Team Suldado De Dora. Their journey will surely be a barrel of laughs as they get paired off with funnyman and YouTube sensation Coach Bogart the Explorer.


Team Tuklas, composed of Esme Escoto (21), Floyd Patricio (22), and Gab Saplagio (23) of UP Diliman, share a love not just for science, but for travel and adventure as well. This witty and wacky trio is all set to form their game plan with Coach Paolo Abrera.



Paul Garcia (22), Kae Lao (20), and Jehanna Huyo-a (21) of Cebu Doctor’s University and Informatics Cebu make up Team Watermelon from the Queen City of the South. Always raring to try new things and explore their limits, this team believes that having the right mindset and being with the right people are all it takes to have a fun adventure. To help them make waves in the challenge, they will be mentored by Coach Luke Landrigan. 

For The Win


Curious about the prizes? The trio with the most number of fun activities out of their given budget, and the highest standing in the Special Fun Challenges, will win the competition and score awesome prizes to go on even more exciting trips. Prizes include 12 round-trip tickets to any Cebu Pacific international or domestic destination of their choice, plus over Php150,000 worth of other exciting prizes such as Canon Powershot SX510HS cameras, Vaude Sapporo Carry-On Trolleys, Vaude Hogan Ultra-Light Tents and a lot more.

Teams can also win additional prizes during the special fun challenges prepared by Cebu Pacific and its campaign partners in each destination.

Follow the adventures of these five thrill-seeking teams in the Cebu Pacific Juan for Fun Backpacker Challenge and get awesome budget travel tips by visiting www.juanforfun.com. Cheer for your favorites and join the conversation on Cebu Pacific’s official Facebook and Twitter (@CebuPacificAir) pages by using the hashtag #JuanForFun. 

June 17, 2014

The Filipino Dream: GK Enchanted Farm


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“What we build in this farm is character.” – Tony Meloto, Gawad Kalinga Founder

What is the Filipino dream? Is it going to the United States of America to send dollars back here in the Philippines? Is it leaving the archipelago for greener pastures? Or is it making the Philippines a hub for social entrepreneurship in Asia? Ask yourself those questions then book a day at GK Enchanted Farm to find answers.

Enchanted Spirits

As a child, I believed in engkantos. I felt that believing in engkantos is part of being a Filipino. It is a cultural identity such as having mythical gods and creatures such as dragons portrayed in our houses. Last May 17, I got to visit an enchanted place in Angat, Bulacan. It is not as mystical as those in our alamats but I can definitely say that those staying in the Enchanted Farm are beings not similar to us. They have something special. They are living and building the “Filipino dream”.

Engkantos in Filipino mythology are beings known to bring either blessings or madness to people around them. It has been theorized by some scholars that engkantos were used to describe the first European missionaries in the Philippines who had fair skin, light colored eyes, and tall posture. Nowadays, the engkantos in GK Enchanted Farm are students from France, Spain and other parts of Europe who felt the need to serve in our country. Our contact and guide during our Blogger's Weekend was Clementine Turgeon who is a French intern currently staying here in the Philippines for GK Enchanted Farm. 

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Tito Tony Meloto and Clementine Turgeon during Tito Tony's talk on GK Enchanted Farm's beginnings
Engkantos tend to fall in love with brown-skinned mortals. Indeed, the foreign interns have fallen in love with the country and the Filipinos in the community. Engkantos give their object of affection prosperity. This is perhaps why GK Enchanted Farm is a Silicon Valley for Social Entrepreneurship and a Disneyland for Social Tourism.

Social Entrepreneurship

Social entrepreneurship is not known to many. Filipinos have been trained to be employees rather than entrepreneurs. We have been taught how to climb the corporate ladder but not how to build our own business. Moreover, we have not been taught how to create a business that will benefit the local community.  
When I was in 4th year high school, I struggled to find a course to satisfy my multiple interests. I came across BA Development Studies in the Ateneo course brochure and I got captivated by its description. It was multidisciplinary and will enable me to enter into different fields. I did pass Ateneo but I went into University of the Philippines which also had BA Development Studies. Little did I know it will change my mindset.
BA Development Studies in UP Manila focuses on Third World Development particularly on the Philippines. For a course that can help alleviate the country, it is quite unknown to everyone. I can count on my fingers how many actually understood what my course was when I told them my degree. But go to Europe and I will not be asked to explain my degree. Because the French and other Europeans know what Development Studies is and values it. Therefore, it is not surprising to find more foreigners than Filipinos in GK Enchanted Farm. They see the value of social enterprise and third world development.
It was so inspiring to see people who are already into Social Entrepreneurship and believe in Sustainable Development. Sustainable Development was bombarded to us during college but I was actually a skeptic when it comes to the Philippines. Being in GK Enchanted Farm actually gave me what we all need – HOPE. So who are these people and what are they doing?

Theo and Philo

Almost everybody loves chocolates. And for a country that can cultivate lots of chocolates, starting Theo and Philo was a struggle for Philo Chua. He initially struggled to find cocoa farmers to have locally made artisan chocolates that can rival Europe. These chocolates can now be easily identified by its artistic wrapping and unique flavors such as dark chocolate with green mango a& sea salt or dark chocolate with labuyo. These chocolates are made in the Philippines for the Filipinos. You can proudly say the cocoa are sourced from Davao and the sugar are from our sugar capital of Bacolod. If you are interested in the chocolate making process, Theo and Philo has chocolate making demos in GK Enchanted Farm.

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Philo Chua explaining how cocoa turns into chocolate
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Chocolate making demo

Gourmet Keso

We are not exactly a cheese loving country but we have so many green pastures. But did you know we import most of our dairy from a grassless country called Singapore? For shame, Philippines. Gourmet Keso aims to change the dairy industry in the Philippines. If you think making cheese is such a complicated process, then you should watch the kesong puti demo at GK Enchanted Farm. The kesong puti goes so well with our favorite almusal, pan de sal. Or open a pack of Skyflakes to pair it. They also have cream cheese and flavored carabao’s milk in classy packaging. Addison Falcon is dedicating his days for Filipinos to have access to locally-produced dairy goods. If you have a restaurant who uses foreign cheese, why not give this local brand a try?

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Addison Falcon explaining the current local dairy industry before the kesong puti making demo
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Got Gatas? Gatas and Gourmet Keso's Cream Cheese packaging. Would you believe these were rushed?

Plush and Play

Do you know Mais Ganda? How about Anne Kamatis? Manny Pakwan? Ryan Bawang? Have you met Buko Martin? If these names do not ring a bell, then drop by Plush and Play in GK Enchanted Farm. These are the wonderful creations of Fabien Courteille who saw the growing need for local toys. We all know about teddy bears but how many of us have actually seen a real bear? Do we even have bears in this country? I grew up eating mais, kamatis, pakwan and drinking buko juice. So why not create toys that embody the Filipino culture and do not have lead? Enter Plush and Play in the market. These are handmade by the mothers in Bulacan who lost their job when the nearby sewing factory closed down. Fabien saw their skills and need for jobs so he decided to make them a part of Plush and Play.

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Look at all those handmade plushies! My favorite is the starfish (of course).
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Fabien Courteille, together with his crew of plush toys, explaining how Plush and Play started


You should hear each of their stories personally. Tito Tony Meloto said that “Entrepreneurship is Leadership”. Why not learn from the current leaders? And guess what? GK Enchanted Farm is having their next Start-Up Business Camp! If you have an idea or urge to go into social entrepreneurship, then book a slot now!



Click here to know more about GK Enchanted Farm’s social enterprises.

Five-Star Community
Let me warn you about one thing: GK Enchanted Farm is not a five-star resort. You will not find fancy beds or modern bathrooms. However, you will experience a five-star community. How many of you have actually been to one? This is a community where you can meet children speaking French and families having their own herb gardens. You can start your own herb garden by buying potted plants here for only Php50.00. I bought peppermint and chocolate mint. Don’t just invest in ornamental plants when you can make pesto from your garden.

The farm’s Infinity Pool is one of my current favorites. Imagine having a dip while being surrounded by mango trees, grazing carabaos and a babbling brook. You can stay overnight at any of their villas.

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The architecture is a manifestation of the Filipino talent. There were carved wooden fishes that I wanted to take home.

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The Bamboo Palace Center for Development Design is an architectural feast. They made use of traditional Filipino materials such as rattan and bamboo. It’s an ideal place to catch the sunset. It’s like a higher class of our traditional nipa hut. The place can accommodate events and gatherings.

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Click here to know more about GK Enchanted Farm’s centers for sustainable development.

The Filipino Dream
So what is the Filipino dream? It is having everyone, rich and poor, to be part of the growing economy. It is not having to leave the country to be wealthy. It is having food in your backyard. Simply put, it is this:


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“We are poor as a country because we keep on leaving the poor behind. What we would like is for those rich with the privilege, with the best education, with access to capital, the market, the knowledge, the technology, to also bring their genius to unleash the genius of the poor.”  Tony Meloto, Gawad Kalinga Founder

After two days of staying in GK Enchanted Farm, it is safe to say I felt hopeful on what our country can do in the next years. And I definitely want to put up my own social enterprise within the next five years. For now, I am encouraging everyone to book a weekend at this magical place.




Did I mention their food are all organic and healthy? Here's a sample of what we had during our stay.














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* farm rates, packages and event posters grabbed from GK Enchanted Farm website and official Facebook page.
**Special thanks to Raf Dionisio for this Blogger's Weekend at GK Enchanted Farm




 

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