Island-hopping is the highlight of your El Nido1 adventure, and there are four standardized tour packages to choose from, with slight changes that started on the 27th of November 2018. Read a related post: Now You Know: EL NIDO TOUR PACKAGES THEN AND NOW

Did you know that part of the price you paid for your stay is the Eco-Tourism Development Fee (ETDF), or simply eco fee/tax?

It started in 2008 to finance the Eco-Tourism Development Fund geared towards environmental and tourism-related projects.

A non-Palawan resident is charged PHP200 and is then issued a receipt in their name, valid for 10 days, or PHP500 for more than 10 days.

A Palawan2 resident must pay PHP100, valid for 10 days, but a Palawan resident-student is only required to pay on PHP50, valid for 10 days.

Do not be surprised if you will be charged this amount as part of the tour fee even before you board your tour boat for your first island hopping tour. Actually, all visitors are required to pay this fee before going to any tourist destination within El Nido.

The municipality3 claims that it would cost PHP10 million a year to effectively protect El Nido’s environment – all 92,000 hectares, 45 islands, 2,645 hectares of mangrove forest, 447 species of coral, 888 species of fish, 5 species of marine turtles, and  114 species of birds.4

The breakdown of the ETDF is as follows: 50% goes to environment and tourism-related projects, 10% to barangay5 eco-tourism projects, 10% to the Protected Area Management Board, 10% to the general fund of the municipal government, and 20% to implementing costs.4

The ETDF Task Force manages the collection and disbursement of this fee, composed of representatives of government office, non-government organizations, and people’s organizations.4

So, to all El Nido visitors, just be glad that you are enjoying the beauty of El Nido and that part of what you paid for your tour will be used to preserve the environment, for the future generations to enjoy as well.

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you. Simply scroll to “Leave a Reply” and enter your comment in the box. Please scroll and click the “Like” tab and “Facebook” to share this post. Do not forget to follow me by clicking “Follow” on the lower right corner of your device.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

These footnotes are specially made for foreign viewers and those who want to know more about the terms below:

1El Nido is a first class municipality3 in the province6 of Palawan2, in the Mimaropa Region7, in the Philippines, known for its white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and awesome landscapes.8 It is considered the country’s last frontier, with the nickname “Heaven on Earth”. It was founded in 1916, has 45 islands9 and 18 barangays5. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “El Nido, Palawan”.10

2Palawan is a provincelocated in theMimaropa Region7 of the Philippines and was founded in 1818. It is called the Philippines’ Last Frontier and its capital is Puerto Princesa, according to the Wikipedia page “Palawan”.11. It was chosen as the “World’s Best Island of 2017”12 and of 201613, as well as of 2013, by Travel + Leisure travel magazine.14 As early as 2007, National Geographic Traveler’s magazine chose Palawan as one of the Best Travel Destinations in the World.15

3A municipality is a small, single urban administrative division, or local government unit (LGU), in the Philippines which has corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by law. It is a unit under a province6, subdivided into barangays5, and is locally called “bayan”. In the Philippines, a municipality is headed by a mayor, a vice mayor and members of the Sangguniang Bayan (legislative branch). It can enact local policies and laws, enforce them, and govern its jurisdictions. It can enter into contracts and other transactions through its elected and appointed officials and can tax as well. It enforces all local and national laws.

There are almost 1,500 municipalities in the Philippines and there are 6 income classes of municipalities in the Philippines: first class municipality (with at least 55 million pesos annual income; second class municipality (between 45-less than 55 million pesos annual income); third class municipality (between 35-less than 45 million pesos annual income); fourth classmunicipality (between 25-less than 35 million pesos annual income); fifth class municipality (between 15-less than 25 million pesos annual income); and, sixth class municipality (at almost 15 million pesos annual income). The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Municipalities of the Philippines”.16

5A barangay is the smallest administrative division in the Philippines, headed by a barangay captain, aided by a Sangguniang Barangay (Barangay Council). It is the native Filipino term for a district or village. It was formerly called a barrio. In a metropolitan area, a barangay is an inner-city neighborhood, a suburb, or a suburban neighborhood. The word barangay originated from the term “balangay”, a kind of boat used by a group of Austronesian people who migrated to the Philippines. A number of barangays grouped together is called a district. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Barangay”.17

6A province in thePhilippines is divided into cities and municipalities3 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays5, formerly called barrios, according to the Wikipedia page “Provinces of the Philippines”.18

7The Mimaropa Region is an administrative region of the Philippines. Mimaropa is an acronym for its constituent provinces6: Mindoro (Occidental and Oriental), Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan2. It was designated as Region IV-B until 2016. It is now also called the Southwestern Tagalog Region. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Mimaropa”.19

10“El Nido, Palawan,” accessed November 2, 2018,,_Palawan.

11 “Palawan,” accessed November 2, 2018,





16“Municipalities of the Philippines,” accessed November 2, 2018,

17“Barangay,” accessed November 2, 2018,

18“Provinces of the Philippines,” accessed November 2, 2018,

19“Mimaropa,” accessed November 2, 2018,


Some foreign friends asked me the difference between Noche Buena and Media Noche in the Philippines. Well, here it is:


First, let us describe what Noche Buena is all about. It is a Spanish phrase that literally means “the Good Night”, and often refers to the biggest feast for the Christmas season. It is celebrated annually on the night of Christmas Eve (December 24). In Spain, Latin America, and the Philippines, it consists of a traditional family dinner, often with a roasted pig (called lechon in Filipino) as the center of the feast. This practice is believed to date back to the 15th century when Caribbean colonists hunted down pigs and roasted them with a powerful flame.

In the Philippines, the traditional dinner may start as early 10:00 pm, but is usually held at midnight of December 24, after the whole family hears the late evening mass, locally known as Misa de Gallo.

Some of the common dishes served, depending on one’s social status, are: jamon1, queso de bola2, lechon, pancit3, spaghetti, fried chicken, arroz caldo4, lumpia5, adobo6, relyenong bangus7 (stuffed milk dish), noodles/pasta, rice or breads (like pan de sal8), desserts (e.g., fruit salad, ube halaya9, bibingka10, kakanins11, ice cream, pastries, fruits, and beverages (tsokolate12, coffee, soft drinks, beer, wine, and juices).

The above information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Noche Buena”.13


Media Noche is the Spanish term for “midnight” but the Filipino practice during this time of year was influenced by the Chinese. The Filipino Media Noche is accompanied by fireworks (also from the Chinese) at the stroke of midnight to drive away bad spirits. Different kinds of food are served (again, influenced by the Chinese).14

In the Philippines, Media Noche refers to the lavish midnight feast on December 31 (called Bisperas ng Bagong Taon in Filipino) that may last until the following morning (January 1). It symbolizes each Filipino’s hopes for prosperity in the coming year, according to the Wikipedia page “Christmas in the Philippines”.15

Actually, anything can be served for Media Noche as long as the table is full of food and drinks. The assortment may include, among others: lechon, barbecue, Beef Caldereta16, Beef Mechado17, Buko Pandan18, cakes, Chicken Sopas19, Chicken Sotanghon20 Soup, Crema de Fruta21, Embotido22, Fruit Salad, Hamonado23, Ilokano bagnet24, Inihaw25na Bangus26, Inihawna Manok27, Inihawna Tilapia28, kakanins11 (Bibingka10, Biko29, Maja Blanca30, Palitaw31, and Puto Bumbong32), Kalderetang Manok33, Leche Flan34, Lengua Estofado35, Lumpiang Shanghai36, Macaroni Salad, Morcon37, Lumpiang Sariwa38, Paella, Pancit Malabon39, Patatim40, Pininyahang Manok sa Gata41, Relyenong Bangus7, Siomai42, Spaghetti, Ube Halaya9 and round fruits (like apples, grapes and oranges).

However, for those Filipinos who have a strong Chinese influence, this feast consists of the following:14

  • Twelve (12) “round” fruits to symbolize prosperity for all the 12 months of the coming year. A round shape is the closest thing to a circle, a shape that does not have an end, which implies never-ending wealth. Thus, round fruits are as close as you can come to a circle. Examples are: grapes (eating 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight will give good luck for 12 months to come), or, pomegranates (since the seeds have always been associated with fertility and abundance in life).43
  • Pineapple is the centerpiece since this fruit’s scales resemble gold coins, which imply wealth for the next year.
  • Noodles for long life without illness, so do not cut or break them in the middle. Rice can also be served since it stands for fertility and wealth.43
  • Sticky desserts are served so family members will “stick together” for years to come.

Chicken and fish are not served since these symbolize scarcity of food.

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you re your comments on Noche Buena and Media Noche. Simply scroll to “Leave a Reply” and enter your comment in the box. Please scroll and click the “Like” tab and “Facebook” to share this post. Do not forget to follow me by clicking “Follow” on the lower right corner of your device.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy to Google such terms:

1Jamon is the Spanish term for “ham”. The Filipinos serve honey-glazed cured ham during Noche Buena and Media Noche.

2Quezo de bola is a popular cheese served during the Christmas season in the Philippines (perhaps due to its red rind) and is a traditional treat for Noche Buena (the traditional midnight feast with one’s family at home during Christmas Eve). Queso de bola is usually served with cured ham and hot pan de sal8. NOTE: It is called Edam, originating from the Netherlands, named after the town of Edam in the province of North Holland. This cheese has a pale yellow interior and a red rind/coating made of red paraffin wax. Edam only hardens with age.

3Pancit is the Filipino term for noodles, introduced by the Chinese, and adopted into the local cuisine, with many regional variations. Some versions of this noodle dish are stir-fried, often with sliced meat, shrimps and assorted/chopped vegetables.

4Arroz caldo is a Filipino rice and chicken porridge or gruel, heavily infused with ginger, and garnished with toasted garlic, scallions, and black pepper, usually served with calamansi44, soy sauce, or patis (fish sauce) as condiments, as well as hard-boiled egg. Most versions also add kasubha (safflower) which turns this dish to turn almost yellowish. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Arroz caldo”.45

5 Lumpia is the Filipino term for “spring roll”. It is a savory dish made with a thin crepe pastry skin called “lumpia wrapper” enveloping a mixture of savory fillings, consisting of chopped vegetables (e.g., bamboo shoots, cabbage, carrot, green beans, leeks), or sometimes also minced meat (beef, chicken, pork and shrimp). It is often served as an appetizer or snack, and could be served deep fried or fresh (unfried). The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Lumpia”.46

6 Adobo is a Filipino version of the Spanish adobo/adobar, according to Wikipedia page “Adobo”.47 It was originally made by stewing meat (chicken and/or pork) in vinegar and soy sauce, with garlic, salt and bay leaves, sometimes with sliced potatoes. It is sometimes fried after stewing.

7 Relyenong Bangus is a Filipino dish literally “Stuffed Milkfish” where the fish is stuffed with a sautéed mixture of its own meat, along with precooked/chopped/cubed ingredients (like garlic, onions, tomatoes, ground pork, carrots, potatoes, sweet pickle relish, raisins, red bell pepper and beaten eggs), seasoned with salt and pepper, wrapped in banana leaves, then usually fried in a skillet.  It can also be baked, brushed with oil, but without the banana leaf wrapping. What is great about this dish is that diners need not worry about fish bones!

8Pandesal is a common yeast-raised bread roll in the Philippines, traditionally made of flour, eggs, yeast, sugar, and salt, rolled in fine bread crumbs. It is commonly served hot during breakfast, and originally consumed by dipping in coffee or tsokolate12. It can also be enjoyed with butter/margarine, cheese, jam or peanut butter. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Pandesal”.48

9 Ube halaya is a Filipino dessert made from boiled and mashed purple yam (locally called ube). It is combined and thickened with condensed milk or coconut milk, along with melted butter/margarine, cooled, then typically placed on containers in various shapes, refrigerated, and served cold. It is can be eaten as is or as an ingredient in pastries and other desserts like ice cream and halo-halo. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Ube halaya”.49

 10Bibingka is a traditional rice cake in the Philippines made of rice flour, coconut milk, eggs, milk and water, traditionally cooked in clay pots lined with banana leaves with preheated coals top and bottom, usually enjoyed during the Christmas season, served hot or warm for breakfast or as a dessert. Toppings include butter/margarine, sugar, cheese, grated coconut and salted duck eggs50.

11Kakanin is the Filipino term for a common native snack in the Philippines, consisting of various kinds of rice cakes. NOTE: Kakanin comes from the word “kanin”, meaning “prepared rice”.

12Tsokolate is a native Filipino thick hot chocolate drink made from tabliya, tablets of pure ground roasted cacao beans, dissolved in water and milk. It is traditionally made using a tsokolatera51and briskly mixed with a wooden baton called the molinillo52 (also called batidoror batirol), causing the drink to be frothy. It is typically sweetened with a bit of muscovado53, and has a distinctive grainy texture. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Tsokolate”.54

13“Noche Buena,” accessed December 12, 2018,

15 “Christmas in the Philippines,” accessed December 12, 2018,

16Beef Caldereta is a Filipino dish similar to a spicy Spanish Beef Stew, made of beef, tomato sauce, vegetables (i.e., bell and hot peppers, carrots, green peas, olives, potatoes), and liver paste/spread, served during special occasions. Some areas in the country use goat meat, chicken or pork.

17Beef Mechado is the Filipino version of Beef Stew where beef is stewed in tomato sauce, along with spices, bell peppers, potatoes, carrots and green peas.

18Buko Pandan is a popular Filipino cold dessert made by using cubed green gelatin, flavored with the extract of pandan55 leaves or buko pandan flavoring and sugar, along with a mixture of condensed milk, cream, young coconut meat and tapioca.

19Sopas is the Filipino term for “milky macaroni soup” using elbow macaroni, meat (usually flaked chicken meat) and vegetables (carrots and celery), made creamy with evaporated milk. So, Chicken Sopas means “Creamy Chicken-Macaroni Soup”, served during breakfast, cold weather, or to sick people. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Sopas”.56

20Sotanghon is the Filipino term for “cellophane/glass noodles”, transparent noodles made from starch and water, according to the Wikipedia page “Cellophane noodles”.57 So, Chicken Sotanghon Soup is “Chicken-Glass Noodle Soup”, made of a thin but hearty soup made from chicken stock, flaked chicken meat, cellophane noodles, sautéed onions, garlic and kinchay (Chinese celery), vegetables (chopped carrots and napa cabbage), seasoned with salt, pepper and patis (fish sauce), colored with achuete (annatto), and topped with fried garlic bits, chopped green onions and sliced/halved hard-boiled egg.

21Crema de Fruta is a special Filipino cake made with layers of sponge cake, sweet custard or whipped cream, gelatin/agar, and different (canned or fresh) fruits (e.g., cherries, mangoes, peaches, pineapples, strawberries), usually served during the Christmas season, according to the Wikipedia page “Crema de fruta”.58

22Embotido is a Filipino steamed meatloaf, shaped like a thin log, made of a mixture of ground pork, chopped onions, carrots and red bell peppers, raisins, grated cheddar cheese, sweet pickle relish, bread crumbs or flaked bread, salt and pepper, and bonded by raw eggs. Hard-boiled eggs, Vienna sausage or hotdogs could be placed at the center of the roll so when it is sliced crosswise and arranged artistically in a serving platter, it would look attractive. It can be enjoy cold, but Filipinos sometimes fry this dish before slicing, and could be served warm, with (often banana) catsup as a dip.

23Hamonado is a popular and savory Filipino dish consisting of meat marinated and cooked in a sweet pineapple sauce, often served during the Christmas season. Typically, meat (usually fatty cuts of pork, beef or chicken) is marinated overnight in a sweet sauce made with pineapple juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, and various spices. It is then pan-fried until the meat is browned. The meat is then simmered in stock and the marinade with added pineapple chunks until the meat is very tender. It is best enjoyed on white rice. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Hamonado”.59

24Bagnet is a Filipino dish which is simply crispy fried pork rind, originating from the Ilocos Region, in northwestern Luzon, Philippines.

25Inihaw is the Filipino term for “grill” or “roast”.

26Bangus is the Filipino term for “milkfish”, with the binomial name Chanoschanos, according to the Wikipedia page “Milkfish”.60 So, Inihaw na Bangus is “Grilled/Roasted Milkfish”. NOTE: Bangus is not the official fish of the Philippines. In fact, there is no official national fish of the country.

27Manok is the Filipino term for “chicken” so Inihaw na Manok is “Grilled/Roasted Chicken”.

28Tilapia is a freshwater fish which inhabits shallow streams, ponds, rivers and lakes in temperate countries. In the Philippines, it is commonly called pla-pla and several species of tilapia are commercially grown in major lakes and rivers like Laguna de Bay, Taal Lake and Lake Buhi. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Tilapia”.61 So, Inihaw na Tilapia is “Grilled/Roasted Tilapia”.

29Biko is a kakanin11 or sweet rice cake from the Philippines which is made of coconut milk, glutinous rice, brown sugar, and usually topped with latik (either or both the coconut curds or the syrupy caramel-like variant). It is called sinukmani or sinukmaneng in southern Luzon. In Mindanao, it is called wagit in Maguindanao, wadit in Maranao, and wadjit in Tausug. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Biko (food)”.62

 30Maja Blanca (coconut pudding) is a Filipino creamy white, delicately flavored rice cake made primarily from coconut milk/cream and cornstarch/agar mixture, along with corn kernels, milk, and sugar. It is then poured in greased (with coconut oil) serving dishes, topped with latik (browned coconut cream curds), and allowed to cool, refrigerated and served cold. It is usually served during fiestas or holidays, like Christmas. It has the consistency of a thick gelatin. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Maja blanca”.63

31Palitaw is a traditional, small, flat, usually circular or rectangular, sweet, sticky Filipino rice cake made from “malagkit” (sticky rice, which has been washed, soaked and ground), rolled and flattened, shaped like a thin tongue, then cooked by dropping into boiling water. When it floats/rises to the surface, it is finally done and prepared for service by dipping it in freshly grated coconut, white sugar and toasted linga64. NOTE: Palitaw comes from the Tagalog65 word “litaw”, meaning “float” or “rise”.

32Puto bumbong is a traditional cylindrical, purple/violet, Filipino, steamed, sticky rice cake made from pirurutong (glutinous rice flour, soaked in salted water and dried overnight) with violet coloring, placed into bumbong (bamboo tubes) attached to a lansungan (steamer) then steamed until done (i.e., when steam rises out of the bamboo tubes). The cooked sticky mixture is tapped out of the bamboo tubes, traditionally onto a banana leaf, with a dollop of margarine/butter, then topped with a mixture of freshly grated coconut and (muscovado53 or white) sugar. It is then wrapped and kept warm in a (thermal) container.

33Kalderetang Manok is a rich and flavorful Filipino chicken tomato-based stew, made of chicken, tomato sauce, vegetables (potatoes, carrots, green bell pepper, chili peppers), olives, cheese, and liver spread.

34Leche Flan, or“milk flan”, is a popular dessert for special occasions in the Philippines. It is usually a steamed (but can also be a baked) flan made of egg yolks and condensed milk, poured in oval-shaped (or desired shaped) metal pans with caramelized sugar at the bottom. Prior to serving, a knife is used to loosen the sides and then inverted on a serving platter so that the caramelized sugar will serve as topping and will flow on to its sides.

35Lengua Estofado is the Filipino version of Braised Beef Tongue in tomato sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, along with white wine, olives and bay leaves. Ox tongue is usually used and this dish is served during special occasions.

36Lumpiang Shanghai is the Filipino term for “Fried Bite-Sized Spring Rolls”, usually filled with ground pork/chicken, minced shrimp, water chestnuts, carrots, singkamas (jicama), and chopped green onions. It is then served with sweet and sour sauce or catsup.

37Morcon is a Filipino dish like a stuffed meat roulade, commonly served during special occasions like Christmas. It is made of thin sheets of beef (or pork), wrapped around hard-boiled eggs, ham, bacon, sausages (hotdog or chorizos), carrots, sweet pickles, cheese, pan-seared on high heat to brown its surface, then simmered in low heat in a braising liquid made of stock and tomato sauce, then finished off with other flavorings to serve as gravy/sauce. It is then sliced when cool.66

38Lumpiang Sariwa, literally “Fresh Spring Rolls”, is a Filipino vegetable dish, typically made from a sautéed mixture of julienned ubod (heart of palm), pork/tofu strips and/or chopped shrimps, garlic, onions, and cilantro, wrapped in a soft (unfried) crepe-like wrapper with fresh lettuce leaves, garnished with a sweet sauce (made of brown sugar, water, pork cube, crushed peanuts, thickened with cornstarch), and topped with freshly minced garlic.67

39Pancit Malabon is a type of pancit3 which originated in Malabon City, located in Metro Manila68, in the Philippines. It has a yellow-orange sauce due to the use of achuete (annatto seeds), combined with shrimp broth, patis (fish sauce) and crab fat. Local fresh seafood toppings may include cooked shrimps, squids, tinapa69, mussels and/or oysters. Other toppings are boiled strips of pork, hard-boiled duck/chicken eggs, crushed chicharon (pork rinds), sliced napa cabbage, chopped green onions, and lightly browned/sautéed minced garlic. It is similar to palabok (another kind of pancit3) but has thicker noodles. It is best enjoyed with patis (fish sauce) and calamansi44 (calamondin or Philippine lime) juice. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Pancit Malabon”.70

40Patatim is a Filipino Chinese-style dish where a whole pork leg is first seared to seal in the flavor, then slowly braised in a sweet-savory soy sauce mixture made of Shaoxing wine (a traditional Chinese wine made from fermented rice), star anise, bok choy (a type of Chinese cabbage) and mushrooms until the skin is very tender and the meat has an almost melt-in-your-mouth tenderness. NOTE: “Pata” is Spanish for “leg” and “tim” is the Chinese term for a cooking style of this dish.

41Pininyahang Manok sa Gata is a tasty Filipino dish which literally means “Pineapple Chicken in Coconut Milk”. The cut-up chicken is marinated in pineapple juice then cooked together with coconut milk, pineapple tidbits/chunks, sliced carrots, green and red bell peppers, chopped onions, minced garlic, and flavored with patis (fish sauce) and ground black pepper.

42Siomai is a traditional Chinese dumpling, usually served hot as a popular snack item in the Philippines. It is usually made of seasoned ground pork with bits of shrimp, mushrooms, and other preferred ingredients/seasonings. It is accompanied by a dip made of soy sauce and calamansi44.

44Calamansi is a small (about 30-mm in diameter), tangy-sour citrus fruit with a thin, green skin (which turns yellow-orange when ripe), with a yellow/orange pulp. The juice is used in various food and beverages as a major/minor ingredient, seasoning or dipping ingredient.

45“Arroz caldo,”accessed December 12, 2018,

46“Lumpia,” accessed December 12, 2018,

47“Adobo,” accessed December 12, 2018,

48“Pandesal,” accessed December 12, 2018,

49“Ube halaya,”accessed December 12, 2018,

50A salted duck egg is a preserved food product made by soaking duck eggs in brine or packing the eggs in damp, salted charcoal. In the Philippines, the eggs are traditionally dyed red to differentiate it with fresh duck eggs. It is used as a topping for bibingka10, or mixed with chopped, fresh tomatoes and scallions, onions and fish sauce, as a side salad for fried fish.

51A tsokolatera is the Filipino term for chocolatera, a Spanish/Latin-American type of high-necked metal pot shaped like a pitcher used for the traditional preparation of tsokolate12, used in combination with a molinillo52 baton to froth the chocolate. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Chocolatera”.71

52A molinillo is a traditional turned wood whisk used in Latin America, as well as the Philippines, where it is called batidol or batirol. It is used primarily for the preparation of hot beverages like tsokolate12, held between the palms and rotated by rubbing the palms together, creating a frothy drink. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Molinillo (whisk)”.72

53Muscovado is a partially refined sugar with a strong molasses content and flavor. It is considered a healthy alternative to refined sugar due to higher levels of minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium). It is used in various food and confectionery, like puto bumbong32 in the Philippines.

54“Tsokolate,” accessed December 12, 2018,

55Pandan is a leaf used to flavor desserts and drinks like Buko Pandan, Maja Blanca and Gulaman. It comes from the genus Pandanus, according to the Wikipedia page “Pandanus”.73

56“Sopas,” accessed December 12, 2018,

57“Cellophane noodles,” accessed December 12, 2018, .

58“Cream de fruta,” accessed December 12, 2018,

59“Hamonado,” accessed December 12, 2018,

60“Milkfish,” accessed December 12, 2018,

61“Tilapia,” accessed December 12, 2018,

62“Biko (food),” accessed December 12, 2018,

63“Maja blanca,” accessed December 12, 2018,

 64Linga is the Tagalog65 term for sesame seeds. In the Philippines, it is toasted and used as a topping of palitaw31.

65Tagalog is a language spoken in Metro Manila68 and the provinces of Central Luzon(Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Zambales) and Southern Luzon (the CALABARZON Region, Marinduque and Mindoro) of the Philippines. Its standardized form is officially called Filipino, the national language of the country. It may also refer to the people who live in the aforementioned places.



68Metro Manila is the official and administrative urban area in the southwestern portion of Luzon surrounding Manila, established in 1975 through Presidential Decree No. 824. It is the capital region of the Philippines, the seat of government, and is officially called the National Capital Region (NCR), composed of 16 cities (Caloocan, Las Piñas, Malabon, Makati, Mandaluyong, Manila, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Novotas, Parañaque, Pasay, Pasig, Quezon City, San Juan, Taguig, Valenzuela) and the municipality of Pateros. It is the center of culture, economy, education and government of the Philippines. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Metro Manila”.74

69Tinapa is the Filipino term for “smoked fish”, often made from black fin scad (Alepesmelanoptera, locally called galunggong), or from bangus26 (milkfish), according to the Wikipedia page “Tinapa”.75

70“Pancit Malabon,” accessed December 12, 2018,

71“Chocolatera,”accessed December 12, 2018,

72“Molinillo (whisk),”accessed December 12, 2018,

73“Pandanus,”accessed December 12, 2018,

74“Metro Manila,”accessed December 12, 2018,

75“Tinapa,”accessed December 12, 2018,


All tourists who will visit Boracay starting October 26, 2018, its soft opening day, will be asked to sign an oath – the “Oath for a Better Boracay” – as follows: *

“I hereby solemnly swear, as a visitor of Boracay island, that I will, to the best of my ability, help ensure its preservation and sustainable development, and follow/observe environmental laws and regulations.”

This oath is a tourist’s solemn promise/pledge regarding his/her actions/behavior as a responsible visitor of Boracay. If all visitors are responsible tourists, there will be a positive impact on the community and the island as a whole. Let us see if this will really help make a better Boracay.

This oath was created by the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF), consisting of  three government departments – the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Tourism (DoT), and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

DoT Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat said: “We encourage everyone who sets foot in Boracay to be the best and most responsible tourist that you can be. Practice sustainable tourism and respect the island, and you’ll just keep it more fun for the generations to come.”*

Dear tourists, by affixing our signatures, we are giving our word of honor that we will abide by the environmental laws/regulations of this destination.

Meanwhile, can the stakeholders of the other tourist destinations, nationwide, get their act together, benchmark from the Boracay experience, and adopt the same tourist oath or make their own oath to make visitors affirm their commitment to help in the destinations’ preservation and sustainable development?


Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you regarding your comments on the reopening of Boracay and its visitor’s oath. Simply scroll and click “Leave a comment”. Do share this post with your Facebook friends, follow me by clicking on the bottom right corner of your device, and do not forget to like this post.  Thank you!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –



We, Filipinos, have only seriously considered the carrying capacity of our tourist destinations when the very popular island of Boracay was closed on April 26, 2018. The truth hurts, dearest Seniors, and yes, tourism inevitably impacts on tourist destinations!

So, tell me, do we really know what tourist carrying capacity is? Well, just to be sure, and before the October 26 re-opening of Boracay, read on.

The Tourist Carrying Capacity, according to the World Tourism Organization, is the process of determining the maximum number of people that may visit a tourist destination at the same time, without causing the destruction of the physical, economic, socio-cultural environment and an unacceptable decrease in the quality of visitors’ satisfaction.1

Former Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo stated that the carrying capacity of Boracay was set at 25,000 tourists, but, in recent years, it went as high as 75,000!2 Wow, that was triple the set capacity, no wonder the island had problems!

But what is an acceptable carrying capacity for a particular destination? It seems that acceptable conditions are a matter of human judgment and not an inherent quality of a particular site. It is difficult to calculate the maximum number of visitors since this is also dependent on other factors, amidst an unstable and unpredictable world.

So, tourism, environmental, local government, public works and transportation officials, the local community, and other stakeholders must get their act together to objectively implement the carrying capacity not only of Boracay but of other tourism destinations as well, so the latter will not suffer the same fate as the former.

Anyway, these stakeholders must take into consideration the 4 different forms of carrying capacity: physical3, economic4, socio-cultural5, and biophysical6. A framework for the limits for acceptable change7, developed by The US Forest Service in the 1980s, should also be considered, along with sustainable tourism8 and sustainable transport9.

The international tourism industry has generally accepted guidelines or formulas in determining carrying capacity. Alas, there is no one-size-fits-all checklist. Nonetheless, the bottomline, in all cases, is that the natural features of the tourist area, or the things/places that attract visitors to it, should be preserved for the benefit of its residents and the people who may, in the future, want to visit and enjoy them as well.2

The implementation, or enforcement, of the carrying capacity also takes a lot of political will on the part of the tourist area’s local government executives and stakeholders.3 Let this challenge all local government units in the country!

I pray that the 6-month long Boracay closure be the wake-up-call for national, regional, and other local leaders to redo their tourism development plans for all tourist sites, using all the aforementioned factors and setting stiffer penalties for non-compliance of rules/regulations, especially during peak season, and/or when local officials, or their kin, are also owners of tourist facilities.

So, anyway, after waiting so long from authorities, how many tourists will be allowed to go to Boracay, for example, on a daily basis, taking into consideration its current infrastructure, residents, workforce, and state of natural resources? What are the guidelines for ensuring the tourist carrying capacity? Will there be a maximum number of days to stay in the island? Let us wait for such guidelines/policies.

As of end of August 2018, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) set the tourist carrying capacity of Boracay to 19,000, taking the number of workers and the local population into account. And based on a study done by a multidisciplinary team of researchers from the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau11 and the University of the Philippines at Los Baños, Laguna,12 the island can only accommodate a total of 55,000 people (local population, workers and tourists, combined).10

Alas, only 3,000-5,000, out of the 15,000 hotel rooms, can be made available to tourists during the reopening date. The remaining accommodation entities still need to comply with the new permits and accreditation set by the multi-agency task force.10

There will be on-going roadwork/sewage rehabilitation and limited accredited accommodations, among others, when Boracay opens on October 26, but I am sure that the first batches of tourists will be excited to see the changes in the island. Instagram and Facebook will surely be filled with such pictures!

Most of the information was taken from the Wikipedia page “Tourism carrying capacity”.1

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you regarding your concerns about tourist carrying capacity and sustainable tourism, not only in Boracay but other tourist destinations in the Philippines. Simply scroll and click “Leave a comment”. Do share this post with your Facebook friends, follow me by clicking on the bottom right corner of your device, and do not forget to like this post.  Thank you!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

1”Tourism carrying capacity,” accessed August 16, 2018,

3The physical carrying capacity (PCC) is the maximum number of tourists that an area is actually able to support. It is the maximum number that can fit on the site at any given time and still allow people to be able to move, i.e., one meter per person. The formula used is: PCC per day = area (in meters squared) x visitors per meter x daily duration. Information is from the Wikipedia page “Tourism carrying capacity”.1

4The economic carrying capacity (ECC) is the level of acceptable change within the local economy of a tourist destination. It is the extent to which a tourist destination is able to accommodate tourist functions without the loss of local activities. It is also used to describe the point at which the increased revenue brought by tourism development is overtaken by the inflation caused by tourism. Information is from the Wikipedia page “Tourism carrying capacity”.1

5The social carrying capacity (SCC) refers to the negative effects of tourism development to the socio-cultural state of a destination. Reduced visitor enjoyment and local tolerance as well as increase in crime rate are indicators that the SCC has been exceeded. Information is from the Wikipedia page “Tourism carrying capacity”.1

6The biophysical carrying capacity (BCC) is the extent to which the natural environment is able to tolerate interference from tourists. This is made more complicated by the fact that because it deals with ecology which is able to regenerate to some extent, so the carrying capacity is when the damage exceeds the habitat’s ability to regenerate. Environmental carrying capacity is also used with reference to ecological and physical parameters, capacity of resources, ecosystems19 and infrastructure. Wildlife sanctuaries, for example, would be better off when there is a set of guidelines for regulating tourism without much disturbance of the wildlife. Information is from the Wikipedia page “Tourism carrying capacity”.1

7The limits of acceptable change (LAC) is based on the idea that any tourist activity has an impact, and therefore visitor management should be based on constant monitoring of the site as well as the objectives established for it. Information is from the Wikipedia page “Tourism carrying capacity”.1

8Sustainable tourism is the concept of visiting a destination as a tourist and trying to make a positive impact on the environment13, society, and economy. Tourism development should always be sustainable but how to achieve this is debatable, according to Wikipedia page “Sustainable tourism”.14

9Sustainable transport, or sustainable mobility, refers to transportation that is sustainable in terms of social, environmental and climate impacts, and the ability to, in the global scope, supply the source energy indefinitely, according to the Wikipedia page “Sustainable transport”.15

11The Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) is the principal research and development unit of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) focused on 5 major ecosystems20 of the Philippines: coastal zones and freshwater, forests, grassland and degraded areas, upland farms, and urban areas, created on June 1987.16

13The impact on the environment, or environmental issues, refers to the harmful effects of human activity on the biophysical environment17, according to the Wikipedia page “Environmental issue.”18

14“Sustainable tourism,” accessed August 16, 2018,

15“Sustainable transport,” accessed August 16, 2018,

17The human impact on the environment includes the changes to biophysical environments19 and ecosystems20, biodiversity21, and natural resources, caused directly or indirectly by humans, including global warming22, environmental degradation23, mass extinction and biodiversity loss, ecological crises, and ecological collapse, according to the Wikipedia page “Human impact on the environment”.24

18“Environmental issue,” accessed August 16, 2018,

19A biophysical environment of a population refers to the (living and non-living) surroundings of a population, and consequently includes the factors that have an influence in its survival, development and evolution, according to the Wikipedia page “Biophysical environment”.25

20An ecosystem is a community made up of living organisms and non-living components (air, mineral soil and water), according to the Wikipedia page “Ecosystem”.26

21Biodiversity refers to the variety and variability of life on Earth, according to the Wikipedia page “Biodiversity”.27

22Global warming, or climate change, is the observed century-scale rise in the average temperature of the Earth’s climate system and its related effects, according to the Wikipedia page “Global warming”.28

23Environmental degradation is the deterioration of the environment through the depletion of resources such as air, soil and water; the destruction of ecosystems20; habitat destruction; the extinction of wildlife; and pollution, according to the Wikipedia page “Environmental degradation”.29

24“Human impact on the environment,” accessed August 16, 2018,

25“Biophysical environment,” accessed August 16, 2018,

26“Ecosystem,” accessed August 16, 2018,

27“Biodiversity,” accessed August 16, 2018,

28“Global warming,” accessed August 16, 2018,

29“Environmental degradation,” accessed August 16, 2018,


Religious Senior Citizens worldwide, would you like to visit the four major basilicas1 of the world, as part of your travel bucket list? Do you know what they are and where they are located? What’s that I hear? Senior moment? No worries, Tita S is here to tell you about them.

But first, what is a major basilica? It is the title given to four great, ancient, highest-ranking Roman Catholic church buildings, all of which are also “Papal basilicas” and are located within the diocese of Rome. Hmmm, so better save up now to go to Italy on 2019!

These basilicas are distinguished by having a holy door2 and for being prescribed destinations for visits as one of the conditions for gaining the Roman Jubilee3.

Only the Pope and his delegates may celebrate Mass at the high altar. Wow, wouldn’t it be a blessed experience to hear mass in all four major basilicas?

Sigh, until recently, these were open 24 hours a day; the staff included a college of priests to be continually available to hear confessions. So before your trip, better check out their mass schedules, and when they are open.

The aforementioned information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Major basilica”.4

Here are the four major basilicas of the world:


It is the oldest and highest ranking of the major basilicas, giving its unique title “archbasilica”. It is the cathedral church of the Diocese of Rome in the city of Rome, Italy, and therefore houses the cathedra, or ecclesiastical seat, of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope. It is the oldest public church in the city of Rome, the oldest and most important basilica of the Western world, and has the title of ecumenical mother church of the Catholic faith.

Archbasilica_of_St._John_Lateran-Livioandronico2013The ARCHBASILICA OF ST. JOHN LATERAN (photographer: Livioandronico2013,

As the Cathedral of the Pope as Bishop of Rome, it ranks superior to all other churches of the Roman Catholic Church, including St. Peter’s Basilica. Its full official name is “Papal Archbasilica of the Most Holy Savior and of Saints John the Baptist and the Evangelist at the Lateran, Cathedral of Rome.”

It is also called the Lateran Archbasilica. It is located outside the Vatican City, in the city of Rome. It is made of marble, granite and cement, and is dedicated to St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist.

The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Archbasilica of St. John Lateran”.5 You can visit its website:


This major basilica is also called the Liberian Basilica because the original building was attributed to Pope Liberius6. It is the largest church in Rome dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, hence its name of St. Mary Major, i.e., the Greater. Its official name is the “Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major”. Baroque and Roman architecture were used for this basilica which was completed in 1743 and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Basilica_di_Santa_Maria_Maggiore-Pierre-Selim HuardThe BASILICA DI SANTA MARIA MAGGIORE (photographer: Pierre-Selim Huard,

Did you know that pursuant to the Lateran Treaty7 of 1929 between the Holy See8 and Italy, this major basilica is within Italian territory and not the territory of the Vatican City State? However, the Holy See fully owns this basilica, and Italy is legally obliged to recognize its full ownership thereof.

It is also interesting to know that this basilica is also called Our Lady of the Snows, a name given to it in the Roman Missal9 from 1568 – 1969 in connection with the liturgical feast of the anniversary of its dedication on August 5, a feast that was then denominated Dedicatio Sanctae Mariae ad Nives (Dedication of Saint Mary of the Snows). It is said that this basilica was built on the very spot which was covered with snow at the height of summer sometime during the 14th century. This legend is still commemorated by dropping white rose petals from the dome during the celebration of the Mass and Second Vespers10 of the feast.

The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Santa Maria Maggiore”.11 You can visit its website:


This major basilica is called the Ostian Basilica because it is located on the road that leads to Ostia, built over the burial place of Paul the Apostle, and completed in 1840. Its official name is the “Papal Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls”, or simply called St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, dedicated to St. Paul the Apostle, and consecrated in the 4th century AD.

Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls-Berthold WernerThe BASILICA OF ST. PAUL OUTSIDE THE WALLS (photographer: Berthold Werner,

This popular pilgrimage destination is so called “outside the walls” since it is located outside the old city walls of Rome. It is part of the Vatican City UNESCO Heritage Site.

The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls”.12 You can visit its website:


This major pilgrimage site, located in the Vatican City, is also called the Vatican Basilica. It was dedicated to, and built over the burial place of, Saint Peter, the first Bishop of Rome. It is perhaps the largest church in the world and is used the most of the chief religious ceremonies in which the Pope participates. Its official name is the “Papal Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican”.

St Peters Basilica-user FlickaST. PETER’S BASILICA (photographer – user: Flicka,

This is considered the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture, the largest church in the world, and “the greatest of all churches of Christendom”. It is regarded as one of the holiest Catholic shrines. It was designed by Michaelangelo, Donato Bramante, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and Carlo Maderno, and completed on November 18, 1626.

The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “St. Peter’s Basilica”.13 You can visit its website:

Oh, since you are already in Italy, why not complete the Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome14? After visiting these 4 major basilicas, you just have to go to 3 more churches! That will surely be another major milestone for your travel bucket list.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

1A basilica is a large and important Catholic church that has been given special ceremonial rights by the Pope, whatever its architectural plan. According to canon law, no church building can be honored with the title “basilica” unless by apostolic grant or from immemorial custom. It is divided into major basilicas and minor basilicas. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Basilica”.15

2A Holy Door is traditionally an entrance portal located within the papal major basilicas in Rome, Italy. It is normally sealed by mortar and cement from the inside so that it cannot be opened. It is ceremoniously opened during Jubilee years designated by the Pope, for pilgrims who enter through those doors may piously gain the plenary indulgences attached with the Jubilee year celebrations. The doors are opened by the Pope at the beginning of the Jubilee and then sealed up again afterwards. Traditionally, the Pope himself opens and closes the doors of St. Peter’s Basilica personally, and designates a cardinal to open those of the 3 other major basilicas. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Holy door”.16

3In Roman Catholic tradition, a Jubilee Year is a year of forgiveness of sins and also the punishment due to sin. It is also called a Holy Year. It is a celebration that is observed on certain special occasions, and for one year every 25 years, under certain conditions, when a special indulgence is granted to members of the faith by the Pope and confessors are given special faculties. Some churches are designated in each diocese for visitation.17 The last Jubilee year was 2016, a special jubilee announced by Pope Francis as the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy (December 5, 2015 – November 20, 2016), and for the first time, a Pope opened all the doors of the major basilicas personally, while designating cardinals to close all doors, except that of St. Peter’s. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Jubilee (Christianity)”.18

4“Major basilica,” accessed February 18, 2018,

5“Archbasilica of St. John Lateran,” accessed February 18, 2018,

6Pope Liberius (310-September 24, 366) was Pope of the Catholic Church from May 17, 352 until his death on September 24, 366, according to the Wikipedia page ”Pope Liberius”.19

7The Lateran Treaty was one of the Lateran Accords, agreements made in 1929 between  the Kingdom of Italy and the Holy See, settling the “Roman Question,” a dispute regarding the temporal power of the popes as rulers of a civil territory. It is named after the Lateran Palace, an ancient palace of the Roman Empire, where they were signed on February 11, 1929, and also became the main papal residence in southeast Rome. Information was obtained from the Wikipedia pages “Lateran Treaty,”20 “Roman Question,”21 and “Lateran Palace”22.

8The Holy See, or See of Rome, is the apostolic Episcopal see23 of the bishop of Rome, i.e., the Pope, and a sovereign entity of international law. It is headquartered in, operates from, and exercises “exclusive dominion” over the independent Vatican City State enclave in Rome, Italy. It is administered by the Roman Curia24, similar to a centralized government, and maintains bilateral diplomatic relations with 172 sovereign states, signs treaties, and performs multilateral diplomacy with multiple intergovernmental organizations. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Holy See”.25

9The Roman Missal is the liturgical book that contains the texts and rubrics26 for the celebration of the Mass in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, according to the Wikipedia page “Roman Missal”27.

10Vespers is a sunset evening prayer service in the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran liturgies of the canonical hours. It gives thanks for the day just past and makes an evening sacrifice of praise to God. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Vespers”.28

11“Santa Maria Maggiore,” accessed February 18, 2018,

12“Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls,” accessed February 18, 2018,

13“St. Peter’s Basilica,” accessed February 18, 2018,’s_Basilica.

14The Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome, or the 7 Holy Year churches of Rome, consists of: Basilica of St. John Lateran, Basilica of Saint Lawrence Outside the Walls, Basilica of St. Mary Major, Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, Sanctuary of Our Lady of Divine Love (formerly St. Sebastian Outside-the-Walls), and  St. Peter’s Basilica. The information was from the Wikipedia page “Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome”.29

15“Basilica,” accessed February 18, 2018,

16 “Holy door,” accessed February 18, 2018,

18“Jubilee (Christianity),” accessed February 18, 2018,

19”Pope Liberius,” accessed February 18, 2018,

20“Lateran Treaty,” accessed February 18, 2018,

21“Roman Question,” accessed February 18, 2018,

22“Lateran Palace,” accessed February 18, 2018,

23An episcopal see refers to the area of a bishop’s ecclesiastical jurisdiction30, according to the Wikipedia page “Episcopal see”.31

24Roman Curia is the group of administrative institutions of the Holy See8 and the central body through which the Pope conducts the affairs of the universal Catholic Church. It acts in his name and with his authority for the good and for the service of the particular churches32 and provides the necessary central organization for the correct functioning of the Church and the achievement of its goals. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Roman Curia”.33

25“Holy See,” accessed February 18, 2018,

26A rubric is a word or section of text that is traditionally written or printed in red ink for emphasis. Red letters are used to highlight initial capitals, particularly psalms, section headings, and names of religious significance, a practice known as rubrication, which is a separate stage in the production of a manuscript, according to the Wikipedia page “Rubric”.34

27“Roman Missal,” accessed February 18, 2018,

28“Vespers,” accessed February 18, 2018,

29“Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome,” accessed February 18, 2018,

30An ecclesiastical jurisdiction refers to the jurisdiction exercised by church leaders over other leaders and over the laity, according to the Wikipedia page “Ecclesiastical jurisdiction”.35

31“Episcopal see,” accessed February 18, 2018,

32A particular church is an ecclesiastical community of faithful, headed by a bishop, as defined by Catholic canon law and ecclesiology, according to the Wikipedia page “Catholic particular churches and liturgical rites”.36

33“Roman Curia,” accessed February 18, 2018,

34“Rubric,” accessed February 18, 2018,

35“Ecclesiastical jurisdiction,” accessed February 18, 2018,

36“Catholic particular churches and liturgical rites,” accessed February 18, 2018,


Ramadan 2018 began in the evening of May 16. I featured this special Muslim date in a related post: March – December 2018 Long Weekends … “Byahe Na”! (Travel Now!)

Anyway, dearest Seniors, do you have plans to visit any of these ten provinces – Basilan, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur – or these five cities – Cotabato, Iligan, Marawi, Pagadian, Zamboanga?

If you answered “yes”, my next questions are: “Will you go there for business? Do you plan to have any bank transaction, or visit a government/private office, during such a visit?

Well, if you answered “yes” again, and just to be on the safe side when you plan such a visit, bear in mind that there are five (5) legal local Muslim holidays1 officially observed ONLY2 in these provinces and cities, according to Article 169 under Book Five, Miscellaneous and Transitory Provisions, Title I (Muslim Holidays) of Presidential Decree 10833.

For those who do not know, here they are to guide you in your travels to these destinations.   Please be aware that banks and offices are closed during these dates:



2018 DATES4

Lailatul Istra Wal Mi’raj (Nocturnal Journey and Ascension of the Prophet Muhammad)

the 27th day of the 7th lunar month of Rajab April 13


(Hari Raya Pausa)

the 1st day of the 10th lunar month of Shawwal, commemorating the end of the fasting season

June 16


(Hari Raja Haji)

the 10th day of the 12th lunar month of Dhu al-Hijja

August 21

‘Amun Jadid

(Islamic New Year)

the 1st day of the first lunar month of Muharram7

September 12

Maulid-un-Nabi (Birthday of the Prophet Muhammad) the 12th day of the 3rd lunar month of Rabi-ul-Awwal

November 21

On April 27, 2018, Nisfu Sha’ban8 (April 30, 2018) was declared in ARMM9 as a special non-working holiday, through April 27 Memorandum Order No. 255.10

Did you find this post informative? Please scroll below and click the “Like” tab and “Facebook” to share this post. I would like to hear from you too. Simply scroll to the upper right side of this post to “Leave a comment”. Do not forget to follow me by clicking “Follow” on the lower right corner of your device.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

2Article 170 of PD 1083 states that these Muslim holidays may also be officially observed in other provinces and cities. Please note this provision for your travels in the Mindanao area.

5Id-ul-Fitr is also called Eid-al-Fitr, Eid al-Fitr, Eid ul-Fitr, Id Ul-Fitr, or simply Eid. It marks the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting and prayer. Muslims attend communal prayers, listen to khutba (sermon) and give zakat al-fitr (charity in the form of food) during this day.3

6‘Id-ul-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice, is a four-day Islamic festival that commemorates the willingness of Ibraham, a prophet and messenger in Islam, to sacrifice his son.3

7Muharram is the first month in the lunar Islamic calendar known as the month of remembrance or mourning, believed to be the most sacred month. Muslims are not allowed to fight during Muharram.3

8Nisfu Sha’ban is a holiday observed on the night between 14 and 15 Sha’ban11. According to the Wikipedia page “Mid-Sha’ban”, it is regarded as a night when the fortunes of men for the coming year are decided and when God may forgive sinners. In some regions, this is also a night when prayers are arranged for forgiveness from God for one’s deceased ancestors. 12

9ARMM stands for the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, a Philippine region located in the island group of Mindanao, with Cotabato City as its regional center. It has 5 local government units (LGUs): Basilan (excluding Isabela City), Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. Visit

11Shaban is one of the blessed months. It is the 8th month of the Islamic calendar and the last lunar month before Ramadan, according to the Wikipedia page “Sha’ban”.13

12”Mid-Sha’ban,” accessed April 28, 2018,’ban.

13”Sha’ban,” accessed April 28, 2018,’ban.

Short and Simple: WHAT IS BLUE SPACE?

Dearest Wandering Seniors, have you heard of “blue space”?

Blue space is the term for visible water needed by people to improve their quality of life.1 Examples of blue spaces are beaches, canals, fountains, harbors, islands, islets, lakes, marinas, ponds, ports, rivers, streams, and waterfront parks.

Seeing a beach, appreciating the clarity of its water, witnessing a beautiful sunrise or sunset along the beach, gazing at the waves and the soothing motion and rhythm of water, hearing the waves hit the shore, feeling the cooling effect even by just wading on the beach, the feeling of walking near the shoreline and smelling the ocean, riding a boat along a body of water and feeling the water with your hand, among others, definitely have a positive, relaxing and soothing effect on people. The refreshing clean, cool air, as you breathe in and out, somehow gives you a re-energized feeling from the polluted air in the city.

Environmental health research as well as environmental psychological studies have revealed that living near, or spending time close to lakes, rivers and the sea, has a positive impact on mental health and promotes physical activity. It reduces stress and improves mental health and one’s well-being.

So, what are you waiting for, urban-based Senior Citizens? This Holy Week, or even just a weekend this summer, go find a “blue space” for your mental well-being! Who knows, I will see you around!

Did you find this post informative? Do you have other travel issues/concerns which you would like me to feature? What is your “blue space” escapde this summer? I would like to hear from you. Simply scroll to the upper right part of this post and click “Leave a comment”. Follow me by clicking the “Follow” box on the lower right corner of your gadget. Thank you!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –


The ANILAG FESTIVAL is an annual week-long event of the province of Laguna, in the island of Luzon, in the Philippines, held every second week of March at the Laguna Provincial Capitol grounds in Sta. Cruz (the capital of the province).

This festival started in 2004 during the time of Governor Teresita “Ningning” S. Lazaro. It was renamed La Laguna Festival (called the “The Festival of Life”) on August 1, 2012, after the colonial name of the province, La Laguna, by then Governor Emilio Ramon “ER” Ejercito. However, on January 18, 2016, the Anilag Festival was reinstated by Ordinance No. 2, S. 2016 by the incumbent Governor Ramil L. Hernandez to continue the legacy of its origin.1

“Anilag” is the shortened term for “ANI ng LAGuna” (Harvest of Laguna).

This provincial festival serves as: a celebration of the foundation day of Laguna, a thanksgiving for agricultural prosperity, the promotion of tourist attractions, a showcase of the creativity of its people, and a source of community pride.

This event is called the “Mother of All Festivals in the province of Laguna” because it incorporates in its programs and activities parts and facets of the cultural and economic assets of all cities and municipalities of Laguna.2

Days 1-3

Days 4-6

Days 7-8The activities per year have evolved to appeal to all ages, gender and interests. The pictures above show the seven-day calendar for ANILAG 2018.

The La Laguna Festival or “Festival of Life” was awarded back-to-back the Best Tourism Event of 2011 and 2012, Provincial Category, one of the Best Tourism Practices from the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines (ATOP) and then honored as a hall of famer in the Provincial Festival category.3

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you. Simply scroll to the upper right part of this post and click “Leave a comment”. Do not forget to follow me by clicking “Follow” on the lower right corner of your gadget.

Visit a related post: ANILAG FESTIVAL 2018: Hali na! Tara na! Masaya sa Laguna! (Come on! Let’s go! It is happy in Laguna!)

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

2Anilag Festival 2018 Facebook account




Do you really know exactly the official number of islands1 in the Philippines, whether it is high tide or low tide?

Admit it, dearest Filipino Seniors, we grew up knowing there are 7, 107 islands in our beloved country. Well, as of 2016, not anymore!

There are currently 7,641 islands in the Philippines, according to the Wikipedia page, “List of islands of the Philippines”!2 An additional 534 islands were added, mostly located in the Mindanao region.3

Now, you might ask: who gave the official announcement and why is this so?

Secretary Ramon Paje of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) made the announcement during the Philippine Environment Summit on February 2016.

It seems that the Philippines embarked on a 2013 Philippine Islands Measurements Project headed by the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA)4 which is responsible for the official count of our islands.5

All these additional islands/islets were detected/located by an Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR or IfSAR)6 and will be included in a new map which will be released soon (how soon, it was not specified!). It seems this new equipment is more advanced to detect landmasses than those used in the past using older technology. These new islands can also be attributed to changing land forms.5

So, dear Seniors, the next time someone asks you how many islands our country has, you know the updated answer: The Philippines officially has 7,641 islands! Better still, tell your friends and relatives, especially those abroad, that there are now 534 new reasons to visit our beloved country!

Go see the following links if you want to know more about the different kinds of landmasses6Short and Simple: ISLAND, ISLE or ISLET? and Short and Simple: ATOLL, SKERRY, CAY and KEY

Did you find this post informative? Do you have other travel trivia which you would like me to feature? I would like to hear from you. Simply scroll to the upper right part of this post and click “Leave a comment”. Follow me by clicking the “Follow” box on the lower right corner of your gadget. Thank you!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

1An island/isle is a large, isolated landmass7 that is surrounded by water but not as large as a continent8, according to the Wikipedia page, “Island”. Source: “Island,” accessed March 3, 2018,

2“List of islands of the Philippines,” accessed March 3, 2018,

 4The National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) is a government agency under the Department of National Resources (DENR) in the Philippines responsible for providing mapping services and collection of pertinent data used in facilitating natural resources required in creating charts, maps and statistics. Visit its website:


6Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) is a new high-resolution radar-mapping technique used to generate maps of landmasses4, using a satellite.

7A landmass is a large area of continuous land (i.e., in one piece), mostly surrounded by water (not broken up by a body of water). A landmass can be called an island1 if it is above sea level, and on high tide, it should remain above water at any given time. It should also be capable of supporting plant and/or animal life through hard substrates9.3

8A continental is a very large landmass4 of the world. Recall, Seniors, that there are 7 (largest to smallest): Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe and Australia, according to the Wikipedia page, “Continent”. Source: “Continent,” accessed March 3, 2018,

9A substrate is a layer of substance that has something underneath it that goes through a process in which an organism can thrive and live. The NAMRIA4 can collect samples of actual sediments from the surface of a landmass6 through shallow digging.


The “Responsible Tourist and Traveller” is a practical guide to help you make your trip an enriching experience. The advice is based on the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism of the World Tourism Organization. There are 8 aspects which every traveler must know:

  1. Open your mind to other cultures and traditions. It will transform your experience; you will earn respect, and be more readily welcomed by local people. Be tolerant and respect diversity.
  2. Respect human rights. Exploitation in any form conflicts with the fundamental aims of tourism. The sexual exploitation of children is a crime punishable in the destination or at the offender’s home country.
  3. Help preserve natural environments. Protect wildlife and habitats, and do not purchase products made from endangered plants or animals.
  4. Respect cultural resources. Activities should be conducted with respect for the artistic, archaeological and cultural heritage.
  5. Your trip can contribute to economic and social development. Purchase local handicrafts and products to support the local economy using the principles of fair trade. Bargaining for goods should reflect an understanding of a fair wage.
  6. Inform yourself about the destination’s current health situation and access to emergency and consular services prior to departure and be assured that your health and personal security will not be compromised. Make sure that your specific requirements (diet, accessibility, medical care) can be fulfilled before you decide to travel to this destination.
  7. Learn as much as possible about your destination and take time to understand the customs, norms, and traditions. Avoid behavior that could offend the local population.
  8. Familiarize yourself with the laws so that you do not commit any act considered criminal by the law of the country visited. Refrain from all trafficking in illicit drugs, arms, antiques, protected species and products or substances that are dangerous or prohibited by national regulations.

All information was obtained from

Personally, I follow these 8 aspects when I visit a local or foreign destination. I research the best places to see and the local dishes or delicacies beforehand so I can maximize and enjoy my limited stay in a town/city. I bring my own folding shopping bag, my own refillable water bottle, and bamboo straw. I definitely respect the local culture and traditions. I properly dispose garbage, but in the absence of trash cans, I keep my trash until I see the next possible garbage bin. I see to it that I contact or visit the tourism office of the town/city to get more (and the latest) information about the destination. I ask friends and relatives who previously visited the place I want to visit to get contacts re accommodations and tours as well as get feedback re the best way to enjoy the destination. I buy locally produced products for family/friends when I return home. I only take pictures and videos, leave my footprints, and do not collect/get shells, sand, etc., nor buy other resources that are prohibited to be brought out of the place.

For more information, visit: You can also email

Did you find this post informative? Are there other topics you want me to post? I would like to hear from you re being a responsible tourist/traveler. Simply scroll and click “Leave a comment”. Do share this post with your Facebook friends, follow me by clicking on the bottom right corner of your device, and do not forget to like this post.  Thank you!