Where to Best Experience Christmas Spirit in the Philippines

Saying Christmas season is a huge deal among Filipinos is an understatement. Being a predominantly Catholic country, the Philippines just can’t help but live and breathe Christmas. We excitedly start the countdown as soon as the “ber” months roll in. The anticipation further builds up when radio stations start filling the airwaves with Jose Mari Chan’s Christmas songs. And for some reason, we automatically start LSS-ing to its catchy tunes, much to our dismay or guilty pleasure. Then Christmas-themed events and bazaars, both old and new, begin to pop-up everywhere. So if you’re looking for places where you can truly relish the spirit of Christmas, don’t miss some of these top Christmas attractions in the Philippines:

1. Ayala Triangle Gardens’ Festival of Lights

Photo by Marc Gerard Del Rosario | CC BY
Photo by Marc Gerard Del Rosario | CC BY

Conde Nast Traveler deemed The Festival of Lights in Ayala Triangle Gardens as one of the most spectacular places in the world to see Christmas light displays. Like a destination straight out of fairy tale, this miniature forest right smack in the middle of Makati CBD transforms into an enchanting paradise at night. It’s millions of twinkling lights that hang from trees and Christmas hymns that fill the air will surely melt even the Grinchest of hearts. Now on its 6th year of offering holiday cheer, this synchronized lights and sounds show runs daily until January 8 from 6pm-10pm every 30 minutes.

2. Silay City’s Christmas Village

Photo by Tj Samson
Photo by Tj Samson

Christmas celebration is a serious matter for the Silaynons. Every year, participating barangays in Silay City, Negros Occidental goes head to head and vie for the best belen and arc. These intricately-designed Christmas belens and arcs are exhibited at their public plaza that they meticulously convert into a Yuletide-inspired museum filled with colorful lanterns, life-sized angels and a giant Christmas tree. Silay’s Christmas Village also holds yearly Christmas carol competition and even a dance contest for moms, aptly called “Dancer si Mader Competition.”

3. Greenhills Christmas on Display

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Greenhills Shopping Center should be high up on your list this Christmas season. Not only because it’s where you can score gifts for your godsons and goddaughters without going broke. But this bargain hunter’s mecca is where you can also watch the much-anticipated and time-honored Christmas on Display aka C.O.D. This year’s theme, “One Life. One Story. One Fairy Tale,” revolves around famous princes and princesses. If you want to see your favorite royalty mannequin in action, be sure to visit Greenhills Shopping Center now until January 1, 2017. The Christmas on Display runs every half hour from 6pm-10pm. To accommodate your late-night Christmas shopping, the Christmas Night Market is also now in full-swing and starts from 6pm-12mn until January 1, 2017.

4. Star City’s Snow World Manila

Just when you thought you could never have ‘white Christmas’ in a tropical island such as the Philippines, here comes Star City’s Snow World. If you want to experience Christmas that’s colder than your ex’s heart, this is the place to chill literally and metaphorically. No need to go to the Harbin Ice Festival in China to experience subzero climate and marvel at stunning ice sculptures. Of course, don’t forget to glide down Snow World’s ice slide, the country’s longest. This modern indoor snow attraction also features two coffee shops for when your inner Elsa the Snow Queen needs some warmth and a little breather. Located in CCP Complex in Pasay City, Star City is open from 4pm onwards from Mondays to Thursdays and from 2pm onwards during Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

5. UP Lantern Parade

Photo by Myra Siason | CC BY
Photo by Myra Siason | CC BY

The University of the Philippines has been holding this annual Christmas affair for nearly a century now (since 1922). Before they go on their Christmas holiday, students and faculty members from different colleges and campuses, including affiliated organizations join the march to showcase their larger-than-life lantern entries around the Academic Oval. These lanterns and floats do not only aim to dazzle but also to depict messages concerning various social issues and current events. Definitely not your average Christmas lantern procession. As always, lantern entries from the College of Fine Arts never disappoint as the event’s fitting highlight and finale. The night’s festivities also include performances from several UP Performing Arts groups, fireworks display, music, dancing, and food. This year’s UP Lantern Parade is set on December 16, 2016.

6. San Fernando Pampanga’s Giant Lantern Festival

Photo by Caryl Joan Estrosas | CC BY
Photo by Caryl Joan Estrosas | CC BY

True to its title as the Philippines’ Christmas Capital, San Fernando, Pampanga is Christmas personified. It is home to some of the country’s finest and biggest lantern makers. A lot of these colossal lanterns are as tall as 20-feet and come in psychedelic colors and disco lights. To complete the Christmas vibe, these giant parols are usually accompanied with Christmas tunes that seamlessly sync to the dancing lights. Because of San Fernando’s proximity to Manila, it understandably draws many Manileños and also folks from neighboring provinces to witness its glorious lanterns. Be sure to check out Giant Lantern Festival’s website for this year’s schedule of events and exhibits.

7. Baguio’s Christmas Village

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Still dreaming of frolicking in the snow this Yuletide season? Then head up north to the City of Pines. Baguio Country Club’s Christmas Village is a winter-ful spot to experience instant ‘white Christmas’ sans going abroad. Here you can savor the faux snow, watch the nightly nativity shows and even hunt Pokemon. That’s right. The club jumped in on the Pokemon craze to make the event extra festive this year.

So expect to see Pikachu and his pocket monster squad hanging around the village as well. Of course, to stay committed to Christmas tradition, classic holiday décors like Christmas trees, belen, and sparkly lights still adorn the resort. And like in the previous years, about 80% of the Christmas décor that they used are recycled materials, such as wine bottles, plastic utensils, old key cards, golf balls and old sewer pipes. The Christmas Village is now open and will run until January 8 from 10 am-10pm on weekdays and up to 11pm on weekends.

8. Casa Santa Museum

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Remember the day you found out Santa Claus doesn’t exist? Sucks, right? Well, it looks like you’ve been lied to. It turns out St. Nicks from all over the world have been converging at this Santa sanctuary in Antipolo. Just 30-minutes (excluding traffic jam) away from the metro, Jardin de Miramar’s Casa Santa Museum exhibits roughly 3,000+ Santa memorabilia from different countries, of varying sizes, colors, and characters. Yes, they even have Yoda and Darth Vader Santas! If you’re nuts about Santa or Christmas and want to experience it all year round, then this is the place to be. Casa Santa Museum is open daily from 8am-5pm.

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10 Delightful Happenings in Manila This Week

Here at Ellry, we’re all about making everyday feel like an adventure. We’ve got ideas on how to make the most of your time, even when you’re not leaving town! Find out what’s happening in Manila with Ellry’s weekly guide.

01 Christmas CarnivaleChristmas Carnivale Bazaar

Still cramming for your Christmas shopping? Look no further because you might find what you are looking for at the Christmas Carnivale Bazaar. Go on a spree with the entire family where you and your kids can enjoy some balloon twisters, jugglers, clowns, and other carnival attractions. Shop till you drop while you support the projects of Zonta Club of Alabang in providing maternal health talks, initiatives addressing violence on women and children, and other programs for women in the community. You can also hang out at the food court for some great eats as you listen to Christmas carols and other entertainment.

December 9 – 11, 2016 | 9:00AM – 9:00PM
Cuenca Park, Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa
Fee: Free admission
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13 More Unlimited Wine Promos for your Vino Obsession

Just can’t get enough of those oaky reds and buttery whites? Fret not because we heard your plea. Since you loved this list of all-out wine promos in Metro Manila, we’re giving you even more! Choose from this updated roster to satisfy your tongue and satiate your soul (yes, your soul). Whether it’s for your brunch cravings, post-dinner drinks, and weekend unwinding, these unassuming wine meccas are waiting for you with open arms.


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Motorino is a Neapolitan-style pizza place with beautiful interiors, freshly made pasta, and a pizza menu to die for! For starters, you might think that pairing pizza with wine is sacrilegious as pizza’s most common alcoholic buddy is an ice-cold bottle of beer, but prepare to get your mind blown when you wash down a slice of their Quattro Formaggi with a chilled glass of Montepulciano, among others. It’s a partnership made by the Neapolitan gods.

The Promo: Wine All You Want

Possibly the most affordable unlimited wine option on this list, Motorino’s wine buffet costs only Php395. The only catch is that this is only good for the first 90 minutes, and then you’ll have to buy your wine by the glass or by the bottle. But hey, an hour and a half of their wine aren’t bad for such a low price! You can avail of this promo in Motorino’s BGC, Greenbelt 3, and SM Mall of Asia branches. Their last call for the promo varies per branch so make sure to call ahead of time to check!


No Reservations


The once-secluded and borderline abandoned United Street of Kapitolyo has now become a bustling hub for foodies and drinkers alike. No Reservations is one of the reasons for this with its delectable menu of Asian comfort food, from their famed Thai-style Ribs to their Beijing Duck.

The Promo: Unli-Wine Tuesdays to Fridays

Php399 for unlimited red and white wine is a sweet deal, wouldn’t you say? So come on over to No Reservations, every week from Tuesday to Friday from 7pm-11pm, to treat yourself with their fine Merlot and Chilean vinos. If you prefer a hard tipple, they also have unlimited scotch for Php499. Just make sure you’ve got your designated driver tagging along with you!

Address: 2/F 16 United Street, Kapitolyo, Pasig City
Phone number: +63917 605 5365


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This international fusion restaurant offers a truly satisfying experience with its medley of different dishes from all over the globe. While some restaurants only serve one type of cuisine, Torch chooses to showcase the best of international cuisine all at a very affordable price. What’s more, they’ve got the wines to suit every palate!

The Promo: Wine-All-You-Can Weekdays

When the lights have been dimmed, and the stresses of the office are still pounding away in your mind, head on over to Torch for their unlimited wine Weekdays promo from Monday to Thursday, 6pm to midnight. For just Php400, you can partake of all the wines your heart desires until your troubles are but a distant memory. The best part is this promo is available in all Torch branches: Greenhills, UP Town Center, Trinoma, Greenbelt 5 and Circuit Lane.


Escolta, The Peninsula Manila

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Escolta’s mouthwatering assortment of food never goes out of style! With live cooking stations, freshly baked pastries, artisanal desserts, and free-flowing wine, what more can a food lover ask for? While the prices may be a little steeper than most, with 5 stars to its name The Peninsula gives you a lavish experience that’s worth every penny.

The Promo: Champagne Brunch at Escolta

Available every Sunday from 12 noon to 3 pm, the Champagne brunch includes a buffet with Escolta’s signature brunch delicacies along with a sumptuous assortment of desserts, and of course, drinks! If you’re only in it for the food, the buffet would cost Php 2,350 for adults and 1,200 for kids under 12.

But if you want the full wine and dine experience, you can get the food along with free-flowing beers, juices, and sodas for Php 3,150. You can even step it up a notch on the luxury scale as for only Php 3,450, and you can get the full food experience along with free-flowing Champagne.

Address: Ground Floor of the Makati Tower, Ayala Corner Makati Avenue, Makati City
Phone number: +632 887 2888
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This little rustic gem amidst the hustle and bustle of the business district is sure to draw in wine lovers from all over the metro, mostly thanks to its very straightforward name. Cerveseria serves a staggering selection of tapas amidst other mouthwatering Spanish dishes, and, of course, an impressive selection of wines from all over the globe.

The Promo: The Wine Buffet

Pick your poison – white or red? For just Php688 net, you can indulge in the house wines of your choice for 2 hours. In the red corner, our contenders are Spain’s Montefrio Tempranillo, Chile’s Santa Luz Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, and Australia’s Benchmark Shiraz. In the white corner, you can take your pick from Spain’s Candidato Viura, South Africa’s Leopard’s Leap Lookout Chenin Blanc Chardonnay, Chile’s Terra Vega Sauvignon Blanc, and Australia’s Benchmark Chardonnay.

Address: Ground Floor, Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center, Makati City
Contact number:
+632 757 4791

El Cangrejo Crab, Seafood and Steak Bistro

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Just when you think comfort food can’t get any better, El Cangrejo goes and serves it up all-you-can-eat. This cozy joint in Sergeant Esquerra has fresh, meaty, seafood served with no frills to let their natural flavors explode. They also have large slabs of steak grilled to perfection. And if that’s not enough to entice you, they serve it all unlimited. Now, take the time to let that sink in.

The Promo: Unlimited Wine and Oysters

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, from 6pm to 10pm, you can get your hands on all the wine and all the oysters you can handle. The combo promo costs Php865, which comes with the fresh seafood swimming in a secret sauce made with its brine. But if you want more space for your bubbly, you can also avail of the wine-only promo for Php640. For extra special occasions, you can opt for the crabs and steak + wine promo for Php1,350 every Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Address: 34 Sgt. Esguerra Street, Quezon City
Phone number: (+632) 351-0700, (+63) 927-1462332

Nobu City of Dreams

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Make your gustatory dreams come true with Nobu’s sumptuous selection of Japanese-Peruvian fusion delights! With only 32 outlets all around the world, Nobu’s signature dishes have that touch of exclusivity and luxury that’s right within your reach at the City of Dreams.

The Promo: Sunday Brunch

From 11:30 am to 3:00 pm, you can go on a Japanese-Peruvian dining spree for just Php 3,188. But why stop there when you can cap off your brunch with a host of wines, beers, mocktails, cocktails, and free-flowing Moët & Chandon for just Php 5,070 net? How can you resist?

Address: Asean Avenue corner Roxas Boulevard, Entertainment City, Paranaque
Phone number: +632 691 2882

Eleven Tables

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Fancy eating your whole meal on sticks? Try Eleven Tables’ fondue sets for affordable prices. The cute little resto is strewn with wooden benches and tables, to maximize the sharing fondue experience. They offer courses from appetizer to desert, with different vegetable, meat, bread, and sauce combos.

The Promo: Wine All You Can

For Php500 you can drink up all you want for the first 2 hours. If, after that, you still haven’t gotten your fill, you can keep going with your unli-wine for an additional Php200 per hour. If you can “sip” these slim flutes like a boss, that price tag leaves you with a very sweet deal.

Address: G/F Ace Plaza Building, United cor. Brixton Street, Kapitolyo
Phone Number: (+632) 654-6748, (+63) 917-8114582

Comfort Tuesdays

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Unwind after a hectic day or just chill during the weekend at Comfort Tuesdays. This bright little corner sitting on a busy spot in Century City Mall is enough to brighten up your mood just by looking at it. But it’s not the relaxing ambiance that draws people here. It’s the generous servings of familiar flavors, inspired by flavors from home. From pizzas to pasta to ribs to salads, all of your favorites are found here.

The Promo: Wine Anytime

The name might say Comfort Tuesdays, but comfort can be found here daily with their unlimited wine promo. Come by whenever you need some soothing and help yourself to the wide selection of vinos lining the restaurant’s walls. For only Php535, this promo is available all day, every day.

Address: 4th Level, Century City Mall, Kalayaan Ave. corner Salamanca St., Brgy Poblacion, Makati
Phone number: (+632) 938-0958

Lobby Lounge, EDSA Shangri-La

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Class it up any time of day with EDSA Shangri-La Hotel’s Lobby Lounge. It’s open 24 hours and serves a variety of cakes, pastries, artisanal delicacies, and local and international favorites. A lush garden serves as your backdrop while you are serenaded by soft live music in the background.

The Promo: Wine Buffet

For 3 hours from 6pm to 6am daily, the Lobby Lounge offers a selection of whites and reds that you can enjoy to your heart’s content. It costs Php1,062 net per person and is best accompanied by their special night owl menu or cheese samplers. Between 6 choices each for reds and whites, good food, and stellar company, this is the kind of place to while the night away.

Address: 1 Garden Way, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong
Phone number: (+632) 633-8888

The Bar, The Peninsula Manila

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If you want to impress, this is the place to go. The rich, dark interiors and lush furniture are conducive to substantial conversations. This is probably why it’s a popular spot for business meetings where deals are closed over whiskey and cigar.

The Promo: 3 Flow Free Flow

Wind down after the week’s work or jumpstart your weekend with The Bar’s 3 Flow Free Flow unlimited wine promo. Every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 7pm to 12mn, The Bar offers free flow of various wines, as well as a selection of spirits, cocktails, and beers. With the quality of drinks and the unique ambiance, it’s definitely Php1,280 well spent.

Address: Ground Floor of the Makati Tower, Ayala Corner Makati Avenue, Makati City
Phone number: (+632) 887-2888



Set your palate alight with the punchy flavors of South American fare at Pampas Latino Bistro and Bar. This casual dining spot in Uptown BGC offers a unique dining experience where you can pick your appetizers right off carts roaming around the resto. Just make sure to leave space for the real scene-stealers: slow-roasted meat tenderized and seasoned to perfection.

The Promo: Siesta Fiesta

Drop by Pampas for Happy Hour from 4 to 7 pm daily. For only Php690, you can enjoy unlimited refills of their Chilean and Argentine reds and whites. Alternatively, you can chug on local beers with their Buy 1 Take 1 promo. Can you think of a more perfect cap to fine steaks and smoky Latino flavors?

Address: Uptown Parade, 36th Street cor. 9th Avenue, BGC
Contact: (+632) 946-3802
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Fino Deli

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Fino Deli is one of the newest haunts in Marikina, and perhaps also one of the most special. Its laid-back but sophisticated ambiance is perfect for date nights. Meanwhile its small but well-curated menu proves that a deeper level of thought has been put into creating the Fino experience. Their entrees, such as the tomahawk pork chop and pan-seared salmon, are crowd-pleasers. But their pizzas pastas cannot be missed either.

The Promo: Wine All-You-Can

Come by Fino Deli every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 3pm to 10pm to get your hands on their selection of fine vinos. For Php699, you have access to an extensive collection of reds and whites by Castel Starmina, makers of fine wines from Romania.

Address: 151, Dao St, Marikina Heights,Marikina City
Contact: (+632) 997-5024

14 Joyous Events In Manila This Week

Here at Ellry, we’re all about making everyday feel like an adventure. We’ve got ideas on how to make the most of your time, even when you’re not leaving town! Find out what’s happening in Manila with Ellry’s weekly guide.

01 Christmas BakingChristmas Baking Workshop 1

It’s Christmas party time once again! As you busy yourself with your menu, do not forget some freshly baked goodies for the kids. Gift them with your labor of love through your own Chewy Sugar Cookies, Oatmeal Cookies, Chocolate Cookies, Blondies, Fudgy Brownies and Lemon Pound Cake. If you don’t know how to prepare these, worry no more because Chef Junjun de Guzman of the Center for Asian Culinary Studies will teach you the basic procedures in creating these treats. CACS is also offering a Christmas Baking Workshop 2 (December 5) and a Flat Bread and Spreads Workshop (December 6).

December 2, 2016 | 6:00PM – 10:00PM
Center for Asian Culinary Studies, 455 P Guevarra Street, San Juan
Fee: Php2,900
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13 Merry Ways to Enjoy the Philippines this December

Here at Ellry, we’re all about making everyday feel like an adventure. We’ve got ideas on how to make the most out of your time, wherever in the country you may be! Find out what’s happening in the Philippines this December with Ellry’s monthly guide!

great-apo-expeditionThe Great Apo Expedition

Cap off the year by conquering great heights – the greatest one in the country, to be specific. At over 3100 meters above sea level, Mt. Apo is the tallest peak in the Philippines. Experience breathtaking beauty from its peak as you explore the mountain’s new landscape after being ravaged by fires earlier this year. Because it’s still healing, it’s very important for hikers to leave nothing but footprints not only for the mountain’s sake but for the benefit of all the people dependent on its biodiversity.

December 2-5, 2016 | 4:00AM onwards
Mt. Apo, Digos City, Davao del Sur
Registration: Php7999
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14 Pulsating Events In Manila This Week

Here at Ellry, we’re all about making everyday feel like an adventure. We’ve got ideas on how to make the most of your time, even when you’re not leaving town! Find out what’s happening in Manila with Ellry’s weekly guide.

01 25 Mushrooms

Ensaymada and Empanada with Chef Franz Presnide of Cordon Bleu, Dusit Bangkok

The cool Christmas breeze is in the air and soon the Filipino tradition of Misa de Gallo will begin. Wake up your loved ones with the delicious whiff of your ensaymadas and empanadas, two of our favorite Pinoy snacks. Through the instruction of Chef Franz Presnide who had a Diplome en Boulangerie from Le Cordon Bleu Dusit Culinary School Bangkok, learn how to create your tasty treats suitable for Christmas parties. Master the making of Quezo de Bola Ensaymada, Ube Ensaymada, Salted Egg Ensaymada, Beef Empanada and Chicken Emapanada through this class from Sari Jorge’s cooking school, 25 Mushrooms Kitchen.

November 24, 2016 | 10:30AM – 2:00PM
25 Mushrooms Kitchen, Molito Lifestyle Mall, Commerce Ave. Ayala Alabang (beside Cravings), Muntinlupa
Fee: Php1,300
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Coldplay or Travel: Adventures for the Price of a VIP Ticket

by Julia Escaño

Last week’s confirmation that Coldplay is coming to Manila resulted in mass euphoria. Then it was quickly followed by outrage and disappointment upon seeing soaring ticket prices, especially compared to their rates overseas. Local VIP tickets cost Php22,500, while the same costs only Php10,385.50 in Singapore and just under Php6,500 in South Korea based on exchange rates as of this writing.

If you’re torn whether to shell out that much dough for one night or to just use it for a bigger adventure, check out this list of alternatives. Here are all the things you can see and do for the price of watching Coldplay in Manila.

Watch them live in Singapore

Photo by Mark Meng | CC BY

Make like a jetsetter and check out the band in Singapore. A roundtrip Jetstar flight leaving on March 31 and returning on April 2 costs only Php8,323.60 gross with no check-in baggage allowance. With over Php3000 left over from airfare and ticket price, you can still afford two nights on a cozy dorm worth under a thousand pesos. You’ll also have enough for some authentic hawker fare at the original Makansutra, plus epic photo ops to boot!

Total amount: Php22,500, with change to spare
Concert date: April 1, 2017

Watch them live in South Korea

Photo by Victor Villanueva | CC BY

For as low as Php13,681, you can get a roundtrip ticket via Jeju Air flying in on April 14, arriving morning of the 15th, and flying out on April 18 – the cheapest flights that week. Accommodations in the Jamsil area, where the concert will be held, start at Php844 for dorm rooms. While the total for a 3-night stay is over the Philippine VIP ticket price, the difference is not that big and you will have been able to see Seoul in the process. The city has a plethora of free museums, parks, night markets, and awesome street food perfect for budget travelers.

Total amount: Php22,500 + a little extra
Concert date: April 15, 2017

Watch them live in Taiwan

Photo by Benjamin | CC BY

Compared to Coldplay in Manila, ticket prices in Taiwan cost NT $7,800. At the time of writing, it converts to Php12,087. If you can get your hands on roundtrip Cebu Pacific flights from April 11-April 13, you only need Php8,080.99 gross. (You can also opt to stay longer since flights that whole week are in the same range anyway.)  That gives you just enough for dormitory-style beds, which can cost at least Php1,200 per night. For a quickie 2-night stay, not only do you get to see Coldplay live, but also get to experience the country’s vibrant art scene and world-renowned food haunts. Plus, have we mentioned that Taiwan in April is a great destination for cherry blossoms too?

Total amount: Php22,500 + a little extra
Concert date: April 12, 2017

Forget the concert and meditate in Bali instead

Photo by Novak Hunsky | CC BY

If you’re looking for some peace and good vibes, you might want to visit Bali. Between surfing in Kuta, partying in Seminyak, beach bumming in Nusa Dua, meditating in Ubud, and chillaxing in Amed, it’s a great place for restoring your energy and spirit. It may be a far cry from a rock concert, but it’s money well spent. Roundtrip Cebu Pacific flights cost an average Php15,000 gross in April. With an average dorm rate of Php800 per night, and full hotel room rate of Php1,500 per night, you’ll have lots to spare for food tripping, sightseeing, shopping for unique Balinese crafts, and of course, saltwater and sunshine to soothe you soul.

Total cost: Php19,500 for airfare and lodgings

Go on an epic Southeast Asian adventure

Photo by Arian Zwegers | CC BY

Got time to spare and the moolah for VIP tickets? Why not have Southeast Asian adventures instead? You can fly roundtrip to Bangkok for Php14,503 gross via Philippine Airlines. Spend a day or two in the city exploring the ornate temples, giant buddhas, and exciting city streets teeming with backpackers. Then take the bus to Siem Reap for Php1,300 and spend another day or two getting cultured in Angkor Thom. Lodgings in these countries are famously cheap, dropping to as low as Php250 per night per head on shared rooms. For Php22,500 you can explore 2 countries, learn about 2 cultures, and possibly have cash to spare!

Total cost: dirt cheap!

Splurge on our very own islands

Photo by Fransisco Daum | CC BY

Have you been to Puerto Princesa? If you haven’t but you’re thinking about it, consider this as your sign from the universe. If you have, maybe it’s time to try it with some more luxury. For the price of Coldplay in Manila VIP tickets, you can fly (Php3,867 gross via PAL Express) to and from this gorgeous Palawan city, stay for 3 nights at a 4 star hotel (Best Western Plus). Then you can go explore the famous Undergound River, the firefly colonies living in ancient mangroves, the white sand beaches, amazing coral reefs, and possibly even have money to spare for a spa sesh and massages. The same rate goes for most of our other local destinations like Bohol, Cebu, and Davao.  If you’re hesitant about shelling out a whack of cash for one night, there’s nothing to hesitate about for three nights of stunning sights and memorable adventures right in your own backyard.

Total cost: Php10,667 for airfare and lodgings

A Different World Awaits in These Lakes Near Manila

by Julia Escano

When you cross out all the mountains and hiking trails nearby, and had your fill with food trips, where do you go next? Sure, there’s always something to discover in the dozens of towns and cities surrounding Manila. But at some point all of them start to look the same and you crave for something different. What then?

One yet-to-be habitual destination for city dwellers are the lakes near Manila. While some are already famous, there are others waiting to be discovered and enjoyed. These lakes near Manila are perfect for weekend getaways and daytrips; where you and your family or barkada can while away the day swimming or having picnics.

So if your gang is looking for a different escape, check out these scenic lakes near Manila for your next weekend getaway.

Taal Lake, Batangas  

Photo by Babak Fakhamzadeh | CC BY
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With the ever-increasing traffic jams going to Tagaytay these days, the thought of relaxing in the scenic ridge city is becoming more and more stressful. Instead of getting caught with the throng, why not escape to nearby Taal Lake and the smaller Crater Lake. While the rest merely enjoy the view, you can enjoy everything else this famous destination has to offer.

Resorts like Club Balai Isabel and Taal Lake Yacht Club offer tours to these spots. Packages usually start with a boat ride through Taal Lake to Volcano Island. Once on the island, you can have an easy trek or a short ride on horseback to the peak, where the Crater Lake can be seen. There are 3 trails to the crater: the regular tourist route taken by the majority; a “private” route via Talisay, which isn’t as scenic but is cooler thanks to its overhanging trees; and the secret route, which takes you straight to the banks of the Crater Lake. The water in Volcano Island’s crater is good for swimming, while huts are available for picnics and hanging out.

If you still want more lake action, Taal Lake Yacht Club also offers sailing lessons. Reservations are recommended if you’re sure you can make your appointment, though walk-ins are accepted as well. For something more chill, Filisup offers stand-up paddle boarding lessons and tours in Taal Lake. Be sure to reserve in advance as their instructors have to come all the way from Manila.

Taal Lake Yacht Club contact info: (+632) 811-3283, (+632) 811-3183
Filisup contact info: (+63) 917-7906352
Club Balai Isabel contact info: (+632) 897 0229, (+63) 906-5185491

Yambo and Pandin Lakes, Laguna

rope-swing-pandinLakes Yambo and Pandin in San Pablo, Laguna are part of the city’s famous 7 lakes. These two are considered “twin lakes” because they sit side by side and are only separated by a narrow strip of land. Unlike the other lakes in San Pablo, Pandin and Yambo Lakes have a perfect balance of convenience and serenity. They are not as overridden with tourists as Sampaloc Lake, or crowded by fish pens like Mohikap Lake. However, they have amenities that tourists would find very convenient.

Pandin Lake, for instance, has available rafts for rent which come with lunch packages. Groups of 2 cost Php500 per head, groups of 3 cost Php400 per head, and groups of 4 or more cost Php360 per head. You can take these rafts to the middle of the lake and enjoy the placid waters while filling yourself with a hearty home-cooked meal prepared by the cooperative of local women.

More adventurous spirits can also do a vine swing at the end of the lake or swim through its currents. From Pandin, you can also go on a short hike to Yambo Lake, where there are even less people. It’s perfect for tourists looking for some peace and quiet, while enjoying nature in comfort.

It’s best to book your trip ahead of time to assure that you can be accommodated.

Contact info: (+63) 929-9789565 (Ate Siony) 

Calibato Lake, Laguna

As lakes near Manila go, Calibato Lake is what every city-dwelling outdoorsman is looking for. It is another of the 7 lakes of San Pablo, located in the Barangay of Sto. Angel. It is said to be the most peaceful of the 7, perhaps thanks to the extra work needed to get there. A substantial hike through creeks and jungle is required to access the lake, making it perfect for people looking for some physical activity. Maybe because of this, there are also not many tourists in the area.

The lake itself is largely populated by fishermen and their bamboo rafts. Since it’s very rich, it supplies fish for many neighboring barangays. Swimming is not advisable in the lake because of the presence of fish pens but boatmen can be hired to take you around. You can also try borrowing the narrow bamboo rafts of fishermen for a truly authentic experience and some interesting photo ops. A visit in Calibato Lake isn’t just an escape, it’s an authentic glimpse of a different way of life. 

Lake Mapanuepe , Zambales


Thirty years ago, Mapanuepe Lake of San Marcelino, Zambales was nonexistent. Instead, the Mapanuepe Valley occupied its area, where a small, peaceful community resided. Then the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo happened, and everything changed its course. The eruption led to the blockage of the natural drainages of Mapanuepe River. When the water had nowhere to go, the valley was gradually drowned until it eventually became a lake.

These days, all that remains of the valley is the church steeple jutting out from the heart of Mapanuepe Lake. All other structures are submerged deep in the water. It’s quite chilling, boating over its calm waters, knowing a whole town is lying in decay beneath. Thankfully there were no reports of casualties, which make things a little better. Chilling or not though, the green mountains surrounding the lake and the wide beach make it a spot for camping and enjoying the fresh, clean waters. Because it’s not yet as mainstream, it’s also one of the lakes near Manila you can enjoy away from tourists and noisy crowds.

Pantabangan Lake, Nueva Ecija

Photo by Rawen Balmana | CC BY

Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija is perhaps one of the most progressive cities in Luzon today. With more and more services for hospitality, its tourism is also fast-growing – and rightly so. Pantabangan is rich in natural resources. The main highlights in the municipality are the Pantabangan Lake and Pantabangan Dam. The dam was built in 1974 and remains as one of the cleanest reservoirs in the country. It is proudly all-Filipino made, a testament our local engineers’ skills and expertise.

Right by the dam sits Pantabangan Lake. It is largely enjoyed by families for picnics, fun boat rides, and the stellar view. These days however, it’s also gaining popularity as a spot for sport fishing. It turns out, sport fishermen from across Asia and the world come here for the bass, among other things. Whether you’re into fishing or not, Pantabangan Lake is definitely worth a visit for its beautiful landscape and warm people.

15 Enjoyable Happenings in Manila This Week

Here at Ellry, we’re all about making everyday feel like an adventure. We’ve got ideas on how to make the most of your time, even when you’re not leaving town! Find out what’s happening in Manila with Ellry’s weekly guide.

01 iCycleICycle 2016: RIDE PILIPINAS Motorcycle and Bike Summit

“I want to ride my bicycle…” so goes the song by Queen. Bike riders will learn more on anything and everything about their two-wheeled passion through this Motorcycle and Bike Summit. There are experts lined up to speak on various topics such as 28th SEA Games Cycling Gold Medalist Marella Salamat will share about “Life of a Champion”; Arangkada Riders Alliance National Chairman Rod Cruz will tackle the rider’s rights; Colnago Manila’s Dale Rosales will talk more about making one’s lifestyle a business; renowned custom bike frame and fork builder Avelino “Ave” Maldea will discuss his craftsmanship; and chief Martin Misa will expound on road safety and emergency response.

November 18 – 20, 2016 | 10:00AM – 6:00PM
World Trade Center, Gil Puyat Ave. Ext. corner Diosdado Macapagal Blvd., Pasay City
Fee: Free admission and registration
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Enjoy Nature in Style in These 8 Glamping Spots Near Manila

by Julia Escano

Most of us are guilty of it. We romanticize camping, thinking it’s a cool way to show we’re hardcore outdoorsmen. We get it: the idea of lying outdoors with nothing between you and the stars does sound romantic. Then come the first few mosquitoes, the ants that find their way into our tent, and that annoying piece of rock that keeps digging into our backs as we sleep. While camping certainly has its charms, there is an alternative to enjoying nature without having to get rough and dirty.

Enter glamping. The concept of “camping with glamor” has been around for a while, and finally, it’s becoming a bigger thing in the Philippines. With glamping sites near Manila sprouting regularly year after year, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a crowd favorite for city dwellers. What’s so great about glamping is that it marries the best of both worlds: the rustic beauty of nature, and the creature comforts of luxury. What more can you ask for, right? So if you’re looking to kill two birds with one stone on your next weekend or holiday, here’s a list of the best glamping sites near Manila that you can enjoy.

San Rafael River Adventure, Bulacan 

glamping sites near manila - San Rafael River Adventure, Bulacan
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Along the stretch of the Angat riverbanks in the town of San Rafael, is a retreat that’ll make you feel like the city isn’t just two hours away. While amenities like an infinity pool are a major draw, the real attractions are the expanses of bamboo and the serene Angat River naturally defining the landscape. The best part is San Continue reading Enjoy Nature in Style in These 8 Glamping Spots Near Manila