The car in our office suddenly stopped working and my boss is getting cranky because he will be needing that car for a long trip next week. He wants the car to get fixed quickly and he asked if I know a repair shop in our area that have expert mechanics and can fix the car quickly. I don’t have any idea of repair any repair shops in our area, so I tried to search in the Internet for the answer for his question. Thank God that I found the website of Repair Pal.

The Repair Pal website has an online directory of quality shops that is helpful in showing me the auto repair shops available in our area.  Each auto repair shop in the directory of Repair Pal contains ratings and reviews, which is very helpful because I will know if the auto repair shop can deliver quality service.

Aside from that, the Repair Pal website has experts that will tell people the common problems of certain model of cars, answers to commonly asked questions, ratings and reviews of the car. This is an excellent feature in the Repair Pal website so that even before going to an auto repair shop, customers will know the common problems of their cars.

Repair Pal is a good website and it is valuable for car owners like my boss. I am glad that I discovered Repair Pal. Now, I can give the solution to my boss’ car problem.
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I Want to Ski

Posted by Ishmael Fischer Ahab | Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I read the blog of Henrik Stigell where I read about his ski experiences. Skiing is good, especially now that we are experiencing the great heat of summer. I like to have my own ski board and rush down a great snowy slope and feel the cold rush of winter wind.

I had watched many ski competitions and I say that I am amazed by their stunts. Some of the skiers flew for many yards like a speeding bullet. Some skiers jump very high and are able to execute amazing poses before landing on snowy ground.

I am thinking of visiting Norway, Finland or Sweden to do some skiing. I believe that many good skiers came from these countries. Also, those countries are good place to be exposed to various techniques of skiing.

Skiing is impossible to do here in the Philippines, though we have parks that can create snow, I believe that there is no theme park big enough to build enough snow and cold temperature suitable for skiing.

So, do you want to join me in visiting either Norway, Sweden or Finland? Do you want to experience skiing? Do you want to feel the rush of cold air on your face? Come on, let's go those cold countries and let us ski.

Riding Zest Airways

Posted by Ishmael Fischer Ahab | Tuesday, April 26, 2011

In an old blog post, I said that I will review Zest Airways after I got the chance to ride one of their flights. Yes, I already got that chance. So, what is my review of my Zest Airways experience? Here it is:

My first ride of a Zest Airways flight is fine. I did not experienced any abnormal event during the whole duration of my flight, this is as compared with the flights of other airlines that rode before. I just experienced some bumpy ride during my flight in Zest Airways but that is normal because we are experiencing bad weather and some air turbulence during the flight.
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The hassle that we experienced on the Zest Airways flight is the almost one hour delay of our flight. We came to the airport two hours before our scheduled flight just to discover that our Zest Airways flight was delayed. It is a big hassle waiting inside the airport doing nothing but wait. Our flight is during the night so instead of resting early when we reach Manila, the delay caused us to reduce our resting time. It is a big hassle and the Zest Airways personnel didn't explain the cause of the delay.

I think that Zest Airways is OK, just like Cebu Pacific and Air Philippines. My only suggestion is that they avoid delays of their flights because it is a great hassle to people like me.

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Know about how to avail Zest Air Promo Fares in my old blog post.

Visit Before the Eastern Sunset and read about my review of Disney's retelling of Rapunzel's story, Tangled.

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Summer is here!

Summer means sweaty body, hot temperature and intense sunshine. Thus, it is good to escape the heat of the sun and go to cold places like Baguio City and Tagaytay City. If you are living in Metro Manila and is looking for a nearby cool place, I suggest that you visit Tagaytay City. If you chose to visit Tagaytay City, I also suggest that you stop by the popular Picnic Grove.

Picnic Grove is a park and popular tourist spot in the area. Picnic Grove boasts of the perfect view of Taal Volcano. Also, there are other activities that you can enjoy once you are inside Picnic Grove. Here are some of them:

1. View Taal Volcano


Like what I said, Picnic Grove boasts of a great view of the Taal Volcano. It is good to pose for some pictures in side Picnic Grove with the Taal Volcano and the Taal Lake as the background.
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Taal Volcano.

2. Have a Picnic


Picnic Grove is the best place for, of course, picnics. Picnic Grove has a wide grassy area that is perfect for laying down your picnic mats. Aside from grass, Picnic Grove also has trees that provide shade for picnickers if the sun become too hot. If you don't want to sit on grass or the ground, then you can rent a covered table. The price for each covered table ranges from 15 to 20 pesos. You can sit on these benches for free. Park personnel will charge you if they saw you place packed/picnic foods on the covered table.
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Covered table for rent in Picnic Grove.




3. Ride a Horse 'Round Picnic Grove


Once you enter Picnic Grove, lots of people will crowd around you offering horseback riding, pasalubong, or rooms that you could rent for the night. Horseback riding is a popular activity inside Picnic Grove. Horses can be rented for 200 pesos per hour. I suggest that you haggle with the horse owners so that you can lower the price down to 150 or 100 pesos. Europeans, who want to ride the horses inside the Picnic Grove, are reminded that those horses are smaller compared to horses found in Europe. We had a German visitor who rode a horse inside Picnic Grove. She told us that she is afraid of falling down because the horse is too small as compared to the horses in her hometown.

4. Experience Zipline or Ride the Cable Car


The most exciting facility in Picnic Grove is the zipline. Experience the Picnic Grove zipline and feel the cold wind as you slide down the zipline. You will be crossing a chasm between two mountains when you fly the zipline. Picnic Grove zipline is not for the faint hearted.
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Picnic Grove zipline.

If you are too afraid of the zipline, then I suggest that you try their cable car. The cable car is like a giant bird cage that allows you too see the Taal Volcano and the green land below as you move along the cable. On ordinary days, the zipline and the cable car costs for 100 pesos for one-way trip and 200 pesos for two-way trip. During holidays and weekends, one-way trips costs 200 pesos and two-way trip costs 300 pesos.

5. Buy Your Pasalubong


Picnic Grove is also a good place to buy your pasalubongs. Their shops inside Picnic Grove that sell handicrafts, sweets and other pasalubongs.

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So, those are some of the things that you can do inside Picnic Grove. Some people do other things, like kite flying, inside the Picnic Grove. If you are looking for a cool place, then go to Tagaytay City and don't fail to take a peek of Picnic Grove.

For more information, I recommend my article about Picnic Grove in my personal-travel blog.

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Taal Volcano is active once again and many people living on Volcano Island and around Taal Lake are alarmed by the increasing activity of this volcano. I saw in the news last night of the fissuring of the ground around Taal Lake. PHIVOLCS personnel went to the communities to check the effect of Taal Volcano’s activity. PHIVOLCS personnel noticed fissures on the ground. Also, the floors and walls of houses around Taal Lake have cracks. People living around Taal Lake are considering evacuating the area if the volcanic activity escalates.

In times like these, information is quite vital, especially for people living in the vicinity of Taal Lake.
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Taal Volcano
Taal Volcano taken from Picnic Grove, Tagaytay City

So, for people living around Taal Lake and threatened by Taal Volcano, here are some info available from PHIVOLCS:

According to PHIVOLCS, Taal Volcano had 33 eruptions recorded in our history. The last eruption occurred in October 3, 1977. 

Before the Taal Volcano erupts, it will show some activities that will be noticeable by people. According to PHIVOLCS, the precursor activities before Taal Volcano eruptions are.

1. The increase in frequency of earthquakes and other felt events that is accompanied by rumbling sounds.

2. The increase of temperature in main crater lake of Taal Volcano. Also, the increase of temperature at groun probe holes at Mount Tabaro.

3. Swelling of ground on Volcano Island and fissuring or showing of cracks on the ground around Taal Lake.

4. Reactivation of new thermal areas or development of new ones.

5. Sulfuric odor and acrid fumes.

6. Death of fishes and other aquatic animals in Taal Lake and the drying up of vegetation on Volcano Island.

For Taal Volcano, the permanent danger zone is the Volcano Island. Thus, no one should be allowed to live on the island. Additional buffer zones are the barangays of the towns of Agoncillo, Balete, Laurel, San Nicolas, Talisay and Tanauan that are located beside Taal Lake. The danger zone and the buffer zones may change depending on the activity and the eruption of Taal Volcano.

Those are the information I gathered from PHIVOLCS website. For people living around the Taal Lake, I suggest that you prepare for emergency evacuation. I suggest that you prepare emergency kits like the one suggested when preparing for earthquakes.

Emergency kits contains canned goods, bottled water, medicines, flashlight, extra batteries and battery-operated radios.

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Last week, my office computer suffered a severe case of virus infection. For the whole day, my Avira and AVG anti-virus software kept on popping virus notifications that disrupted my work. I had no other choice but to do a whole day computer scan.


The computer virus was removed but it left some damage in my computer. The virus destroyed some of my software and also disabled the task manager.

I dont know how to enable the task manager so I searched for a task manager enabler software that will solve my problem.  Thankfully, I easily found a task manager enabler. I downloaded it from Task Manager Fix. That task manager enabler is easy to download and install. With just one click in Task Manager Fix software, my computer's task manager was restored.
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Previously, I made a negative review of Zest Air. I said that Zest Air is quite dangerous and have a high rate of mishaps. Now, I am thinking twice about that. I believe that Zest Air responded to such criticisms and they fixed their image.


Of all the local airlines that I canvassed on, I believe that Zest Air offers the cheapest fares. Their regular fares are slightly lower that the ones offered by Cebu Pacific, and that is if the taxes and other fees are already included. Aside from that, Zest Air also offers promo fares. 

Most of the tips that I listed for in availing Cebu Pacific promo fares are also applicable for availing Zest Air promo fares. Here are some of the tips to get Zest Air promo fairs:
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Zest Air

1. Get timely updates from Zest Air

Just like in getting Cebu Pacific promo fares, the competition in getting Zest Air promo fares is stiff. Thus, it is advantageous for you if you will get information on Zest Air promo fares the moment they are posted on Zest Air website. To get timely updates on Zest Air promo fares, you must follow Zest Air on Twitter and Facebook.

2. Decide quickly in booking Zest Air promo fares

When I am booking for my Davao trip, I noticed that the fare price of the flight that I plan to book increases as days pass by. Therefore, I suggest that you book your flight the moment that you see the promo fare. Decide quickly in buying Zest Air promo fares so that you can book cheaply.

3. Pay using your credit card.

When you book online for Zest Air promo fares, you can only pay using credit cards. Even if you just book online for none promo fare, the only available payment option is through credit card. So, you must prepare your credit card when availing Zest Air promo fares. According to Zest Air website, if you don't have your own credit card, you can use other person's credit card. However, you need to bring the photocopy of the credit card that you used because it will be checked before you board the plane.

4. Call the ticketing office to reserve a flight.

I am not sure if this is true, but I asked a clerk in the Cubao ticketing office of Zest Air on how I can reserve a flight for Zest Air. She said that I can call their ticketing office so that they can reserve the flight that I want. I have to try this in the future though before I can be sure if what the clerk is saying is true.


I will fly Zest Air this month and that flight will be the best opportunity to experience flying with them. Zest Air has very low fares. I hope that the quality of their service is not as low.

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Read related posts which are about how to avail PAL promo fares and Cebu Pacific promo fares.


In the previous article, I listed some tips to help you avail Cebu Pacific promo fares. Now, let us talk about how can you corner PAL promo fares. Philippine Airlines or PAL is the Philippine's flag carrier and I believe that it is the popular airline for foreigners going to the Philippines. Ticket prices for PAL is expensive as compared to other local airlines that is why I don't normally buy tickets from PAL because I am such a cheapskate. I experienced riding one of their flight and I can say that I liked it. The airplane of PAL is bigger and have more legroom.


Expensive as it is, Philippine Airlines also offer promo fares and just like in Cebu Pacific. Getting PAL promo fares is hard because of the competition. So to help you, here are some tips to avail PAL promo fares:
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Philippine Airlines

1. Book as early as possible

Unlike Cebu Pacific, PAL don't give regular promos. However, they offer cheap flights like the Fiesta Deal and the Fiesta Saver. Fiesta Deal is the cheapest of the fare deals being offered by PAL but it is non-refundable. Prices vary on each flight schedule and destinations but it offers 15 kilograms of baggage for each passenger. The Fiesta Saver offers 20 kilograms of free baggage for each passengers. Fiesta Deals can be lower than 2,000 Pesos (taxes and other fees not yet included), depending on the flight schedule and destination.

The slots for Fiesta Deal are easily filled that is why if you are planning to travel and you want to travel by PAL, I suggest that you book your flight as early as possible. 
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PAL Dlight Selection
PAL Flight Selection

2. Get timely updates from PAL

PAL promo fares may be offered from time to time so it is good if you are updated of the offers the moment PAL upload it on its website. I suggest that you follow Philippine Airlines on Twitter and Facebook.

3. Book online and use PAL's different payment options.

It would be easy for you if you chose to book your flight online. According to PAL website, you can pay your online booking using your credit card, SmartMoney Debit Card and BancNet ATM Card.

PAL does not require that the credit card holder be part of the traveling party. This means that you can book a flight at PAL for your family and friends even if you will not travel with them. However, PAL may demand a photocopy of the credit card before it allow the traveling party to board the plane.

BancNet ATM cards can only be used to book domestic flights only. 


Those are the few tips that I can share if you want to avail of PAL promo fares. Just like what I said, PAL don't offer much promo fares like Cebu Pacific. However, the Fiesta Deal can be treated as PAL promo fares and good enough for anyone who want to fly Philippine Airlines.

Want to know how to book the PAL promo fares that you like? Read about Philippine Airlines online booking.

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Read related article on how to avail Cebu Pacific promo fares and Zest Air promo fares.


Image of PAL airplane came from Wikimedia Commons.
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I like to travel cheap and because of this, I always try to avail the promo fares available from the local airlines in the Philippines. Whenever I plan my travels, I always scour the websites of Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, Air Philippines and Zest Air for promo fares.

Getting a promo fare depends on chance and availability. Here are some tips so you can get that elusive Cebu Pacific promo fares:

1. Get timely updates from Cebu Pacific

Time is very essential in availing Cebu Pacific promo fares because the competition is stiff. This is why you must make yourself informed of Cebu Pacific promo fares at the very moment that it is announced on Cebu Pacific website.

To get timely updates on Cebu Pacific promo fares, I suggest that you subscribe to their Seat Sale Alert, which allows you to receive timely updates through e-mail. You can also follow Cebu Pacific on Twitter and Facebook.
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2. Decide quickly

As I had said, the competition for Cebu Pacific promo fares is stiff that's why you must grab the promo fare that you want the moment that you see it. Slots for Cebu Pacific promo fares are limited and slots may be gone in a matter of minutes.

3. Create an account at Cebu Pacific website

If you are a frequent flyer, then it is good if you create an account in Cebu Pacific website. This will remove the hassle of filling out the forms for personal information whenever you book for Cebu Pacific promo fares.

4. Keep your credit card ready.

Availing Cebu Pacific promo fares is better if you book your flight online rather than going to Cebu Pacific's ticketing offices. Since it is online booking, then having a credit card is useful. If you don't have a credit card, then you can ask your friends or relatives that have credit card to book you for your Cebu Pacific promo fares.

Some people are asking if is necessary to bring the photocopy of the credit card and the ID of the credit card holder to be shown to Cebu Pacific personnel before boarding the plane. Some clients of Cebu Pacific said that there is no such need while others say that hassle may be prevented by bringing those photocopies. I believe you better call the Cebu Pacific customer representative about this.

5. Other payment options.

If you don't have any access to credit card, then you must use other payment options offered by Cebu Pacific. You can pay your Cebu Pacific promo fares using your ATM card. However, banks that are affiliated with Bancnet are the ones only allowed to use this payment option.

You can also book online and pay over-the-counter at Banco de Oro (BDO). This is what I did on one of my trips. You can also pay over-the-counter at MetroBank, Robinsons Savings Bank, LBC, Bayad Center and Pacific Ace Bank.

Booking Cebu Pacific promo fares is easy. What is hard is to get the Cebu Pacific promo fares before the slots are all taken. All you need is to be updated at all times so you can beat the competition in the fight for the Cebu Pacific promo fares.

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Read related article on how to avail PAL promo fares and Zest Air promo fares.

Visit Before the Eastern Sunset and read about Bataan Death March.

Image came from Fakhri Travel and Tourism Center. 

It is common for me to encounter hopia that are sold in different flavors but I never thought that otap is also available in different flavors. That is why I am surprised when my brother brought home packs of otap that are in different flavors.

For those who are wondering, otap is an oval biscuit that is quite thin and fragile. That is why otap is eaten very carefully to avoid it from being shattered into bits and scattered to the floor. Otap is a biscuit famous in Cebu and many people coming from that island buy otap as their pasalubong.

My brother brought the otap made by Magic Melt. The flavor that he brought is the ube flavored otap and the regular otap.
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Well, the otap of Magic Melt is ok but I believe that there are better kinds or brands otap that can be bought from Cebu. If I ever return to Cebu, I will try to find the best shop to buy some otap.
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In the previous post, I talked about how to apply for a Unionbank EON card. Now let's talk about how to verify your Paypal account using your Unionbank EON card.


However, before you can use your Unionbank EON Card, you must follow these tips:

1. Deposit funds to your Unionbank account. Paypal requires a fee of 100 pesos or equivalent in your Unionbank account before you can use your EON card to verify your Paypal. The 300 pesos fee that you paid when you applied for Unionbank EON card is not deposited to your account that's why you still need to deposit funds to your Unionbank account.

2. Apply to Unionbank online banking. Go to Unionbank website to register your EON card. This is important because Paypal will send the verification code to your Unionbank online account.
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After that, log in to your Paypal account and just follow the steps given there. The steps given by Paypal are quite easy.

After you linked your Paypal Account to your Unionbank account, you will need to log-in to your Unionbank Online Banking to see the verification code. Your Paypal will be verified after you input the verification code. After that you will see this image in your Paypal account:
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If you so that then you have to congratulate yourself because you successfully verified your Paypal using your Unionbank EON card.

Hopia

Posted by Ishmael Fischer Ahab | Friday, April 01, 2011

When I was a kid, one of favorite merienda (snack) is the sweet bread called as hopia. My favorite back then is the hopia that is called as hopiang Hapon (Japanese hopia), which can be bought from the neighboring sari-sari store and is sold for 6 pesos per pack. Another hopia that my parents buy as snack when I am still a kid is hopiang baboy (pork hopia). I don’t like hopiang baboy as much as I like hopiang Hapon, which has a filling of sweet mongo. There is another hopia that is more special than the hopiang Hapon and that hopia is the one that is brought my dad as pasalubong whenever he visited my grandmother. That hopia usually comes in a red box and it is larger and thicker than the hopiang Hapon of the sari-sari stores. I can’t recall the name of the hopia though, but I know that that hopia is delicious. I believe that I still such hopia being sold in bakeries and sari-sari stores.

What is a hopia?


Hopia is a bean filled pastry. The bean used as filling is sweet mongo paste. It is usually circular in shape but other shapes (like the square shaped hopia) are available. The two variants of hopia are the hopia with sweet mongo fillings (hopiang mongo) and the hopia with candied winter melon and candied pork backfat (hopiang baboy).

Where to Buy the Best Hopia?


Most of the shops that I know that sells the best tasting hopia are located in Manila, particularly in Binondo Chinatown area. Hopia is one of the most sold food products in Binondo Chinatown and many people just go to this place to buy hopia. Here are the following shops that sell the best tasting hopia in Manila:
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1. Eng Bee Tin is the leading Chinese food shop that sells hopia, siopao (that is colored purple), tikoy, moon cake and other Chinese delicacy. If you are looking for good tasting hopia, then I suggest that you try Eng Bee Tin’s hopia. Just go to Binondo Church in Manila and many branches of Eng Bee Tin can easily be spotted in the vicinity. Eng Bee Tin sells various flavors of hopia. I recommend the “pastillas ube” hopia, which is my favorite hopia. I suggest that you stay away from the “pandan” hopia.
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2. Polland is the next best shop that sells hopia. Polland also sells other Chinese delicacies like Eng Bee Tin. Polland shop is located along Escolta, right after you crossed the Pasig River via Jones Bridge. Another Polland shop is also located near the Binondo Church. The hopia that I recommend is the Red Mongo Hopia, which I think is the best hopia in this shop.

3. Salazar Bakery is located in Binondo Chinatown and has branches in other places. As a bakery, this shop sells various kinds of bread. Actually, I have never bought anything from Salazar Bakery. However, my friend Anney recommends their hopiang baboy (pork hopia). If I ever get a chance, I will buy their hopiang baboy to know if it is really delicious.

So, those are the shops that sell the best tasting hopia in Manila. I am sure that there still many shops that I failed to mention and many of you might disagree. If you know of other shops that sell hopia, I suggest that you leave a comment about that shop so that if I will know where to buy my next hopia.

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