Thursday, March 31, 2016

Commuting to Universal Studios

For a change, we decided to commute via the Singapore Mass Rail Transit (MRT) and Cable Car to Universal Studios instead of going there via taxi. In doing that we learned that the Singapore MRT system has more than a hundred stations and lines. But when you get the hang of it, its quite easy to understand.

We had a 15 - 20 minute walk from our hotel the Orchard Hotel Singapore. The weather was nice for walking and I had many stops because it was quite hard for me to walk for almost a kilometer going to the MRT Station. 

After walking endlessly, we finally found the Orchard Station of the MRT. Luckily they had a mall beneath the at the street complete with working escalators.

Had to wait for a while as my sister bought the tickets for us.

My sister buying the tickets through a kiosk. Note that it took her almost five minutes to get the tickets since there were no long cues in getting tickets.

This is a sight to behold, we never thought we can sit down considering that comparing this one to the MRT in Manila which is always full.

From the Orchard Station we took the North South line and went down at Dthe Dhoby Gaut station. Then we transferred to the North East line Dhoby Gaut station enroute to the Harbour Front Station. We walked again to the next building to ride a cable car to Sentosa.

After alighting at the Harbour Front Station, we walked once again to the city's most unique hilltop destination - Faber Peak Singapore. At the lobby of the building we bought our tickets at SG$29.

Eight people can fit inside a cable car. I think if we have something like this in the Philippines, most cable cars would carry 10 - 12 passengers with some sitting at the laps of the others. Just like what we say in the Philippines, "Punuan, Kalong Kalong, upong walong piso po!" 

After that ride, we changed cable cars as we went down the Mount Faber Line station to change cars.

The second set of cable cars at the Sentosa Station are colored and looks cool.

Upon alighting the Cable Car you will be greeted by the biggest Merlion in Singapore which is 37 meters tall.

Going to Universal Studios we walked around the Sentosa Island and passed by the Lake of Dreams

We passed by a lot of directional signs and walked and walked and walked 

Finally, the last sign going to Universal Studios. After turning right you can see the Universal Studios Globe. We must've walked at least 8,000 steps to reach our destination.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Carlton Hotel Singapore

I finally made it back to Singapore and one thing that I was so excited about was the hotel where I booked myself in for three nights - the Carlton Hotel. I like it when you can get in at 12 noon and not wait anymore for that 2:00 pm check in, they gesture to allow you to check-in early is a big check for me.

The room I got was a 30 sqm De Luxe room with city view.  First I love the King Sized bed with four big hard pillows that suits my taste together with the usual Business hotel amenities like complimentary hi-speed wifi and cables for my laptop. It also has a standard IP Television, Iron and Ironing Board, coffee and tea making facilities, robes, Mini-bar and ample space for a 3- 5 guests. 

What made this Hotel get my nod as the #besthotelever I have even been is their complimentary use of a cellphone complete with 4G connection which you can use in and out of the hotel. The phone also has apps that you can use to get around Singapore and point you to the best places that you want to go to. This for me is the best service that a Hotel has given me. 

Since I was on Vacation, a visit at their pool was necessary and I find their pool quite small for a big hotel like Carlton. I was just lucky that during the time I was on the pool there were just enough people there considering that the other side of the pool is around eight feet deep.

The usual bathroom amenities like the shampoo and  shower gel smells great. That was why I had to ask for an additional pair so that I can bathe away all day long and tuck some in as a souvenir.
The last thing I liked about Carlton Hotel is its location. Just in front of it is one of the best malls in the city - Raffles Mall. I liked that mall because  you can shop for great stuff, look for gadgets, have coffee and more importantly eat whatever food you are craving for because they have various fast food restaurants that can fit your budget. At the same time it is also near the MRT City Hall station so you can go anywhere you like. When in Singapore may it be Business or Pleasure, do consider the Carlton Hotel.

Cartlon Hotel Singapore
76 Bras Basah Road
Singapore, 189558

My Singapore Sling - A mixture of awesome experiences

My second time in the city of fines proved to be a more memorable one since it was ignited by my passion to travel through with travel group. Together with my sister Angie and my eldest nephew Louie our dream trip was filled with lots of beautiful memories.

We started out our day by checking in at the prestigious 5-star hotel Carlton Hotel Singapore located at Bras Basah road. The hotel is very accessible to almost everything since its near Bugis street which is famous for souvenir shopping and lots of other stuff, plus right in front of it is Raffles mall where you can eat at its numerous food courts, shop at its many branded stores and have starbucks coffee.

Being a member of our unique travel group has its many perks and when we checked in we were greeted with lots of gift items. A box of chocolates, a purse of straps and bag tags, a merlion souvenir icon and a bottle of wine complete with wine opener.

During our first day at the Carlton Hotel we simply took advantage of the time to relax by dipping at its nice pool. The weather was great and the 15 meter pool  was just right for some laps for a little bit of exercise.

Our second day brought us to one of the biggest attractions in Singapore - the Gardens by the Bay, Bay South. According to Trip Advisor, Gardens by the Bay is the number 1 attraction in Singapore and as I witnessed it I was amazed with everything I saw.

Our Singapore journey was very informative thanks to our very accommodating and pleasing Singaporean our Tour Guides Chris Tye and Glenda Wu.  Not in this picture is another cool guy Frankie Tang who was also nice and friendly.

Our trip inside the Gardens brought us to the Flower dome which made me think again on what I have studied regarding flowers which by far outnumbers the flower species I know by 10,000 to one. The only thing I can think of is that this garden most probably is how the Garden of Eden would look like today.

Not only that, there are so many other things that you can see just like this flower arrangement pictured above. Do you think the composition of this flower looks familiar? It is because these flowers are made of lego blocks. 

After our sumptuous lunch we went to the west side of Singapore to visit the Jurong Bird Park. Here is our International  Travel featuring Chinese Mainlanders, Malaysians, South Koreans, Americans, Taiwanese dream trippers and us. We were around eighty six in our group.

The highlight of the Jurong Bird Park trip was the 3:00 pm Bird show. The show was something i have never witnessed before because I have never seen birds respond to what the emcee was telling them.  The 30 - minute show had so many birds fly to the audience, engage with each other and walk around as dictated by the emcee. It was a truly magnificent way to see how the birds were showcased in this event.

Day 3 of our dream trip had us  join an exclusive trip to one of the icons that represent Singapore - the Merlion.  Half Lion and Half Fish your trip to Singapore is not complete without a picture at the Merlion park. We were joined by hundreds of tourists taking different kinds of pictures at the two Merlions in that Park.
My nephew was so happy  to be part of this trip which is his first international trip. I was telling him that he was so lucky that his first trip abroad was with our travel group because all the trips that he will have in the future will never compare to his experience with us.

Here is another photo of the Merlion and the very imposing facade of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore. Although its my second time to see this awe-inspiring hotel, just looking at it makes me happy to be part of our wonderful travel group.

Our last visit brought us to the Singapore's Chinatown for a look at the another attraction - the Buddha Tooth Relic temple. At the same time the Chinatown marketplace was just around the corner and some little souvenir shopping in that area. 

This Tang-Styled Chinese Buddhist temple in Chinatown gets its name from what the Buddhists regard as the Sacred Buddha tooth relic.

Our trip ended with a party at the Orchidville Gardens. We were treated with lots of performers and most of our travelmates performed as well. The food was also great as they served a famour Singaporean dish - the Singaporean Chili crab. There were unlimited drinks and most of all unlimited happy memories brought by this wonderful trip. 

The most important memory for me are the friends that I gained from different parts of the world which was made possible because of this one of a kind travel team. So if you want to travel around the world in style - Join our travel group. PM me for details since I will most probably be busy planning our next trip.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

2016 STI NBT 2nd round preview

The second round of the 2016 STI National Basketball Tournament will commence on March 19, 2016. At this point, all teams will be playing knock-out games as the remaining 22 teams from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao that survived the first round will test the mettle of the winners from other areas.

In the Luzon Region, the Sweet 16 format is in effect for the sixteen teams that advanced to the second round. On top of the sixteen teams is the STI College Santa Rosa squad which is the Luzon top seed with the virtue of their immaculate 4 wins and no loss slate in topping the Luzon 2 division. The Laguna based Santa Rosa team was averaging 90 points per game and their average winning margin is 40 points.  2015 STI NBT Mythical 5  selectees June Aliparo and Raul Guerrero leads the Santa Rosa team together with the vastly improved point guard Jhon Ursua as the triumvirate is averaging a combined 51.5 points per game with Aliparo averaging 22.5 points per game. In their way to the third round is STI College Dagupan which garnered the 16th seed in the Luzon standings. STI College Dagupan will lean on center Christian Cruz and a pair of undersized forwards in Michael Barrozo and Benjamin Biala.

Coming out second in the Luzon seeding is STI College Malolos which topped the Luzon 3 division with a similar 4 wins and no loss slate.  The Bulacan based Malolos team had an average of 80 points in scoring and won by a margin of 28 points against their Luzon 3 counterparts. The big frontline of STI College Malolos proved to be too much to their opponents as the hulking 6’5 center Kelbert Victoria, the bruising 6’3 forwards in Mark Tamayo, Ralph Bonifacio and Aram Pujante. Their opponents find it hard to go inside the Malolos defense that yielded an average of only 50 points.  Their opponent, STI College San Jose which leaned on the all-around brilliance of Davidson Antonio who scored 36 points against STI College Tuguegarao and 18 against STI College Laoag. The Malolos big men will need to work extra hard to contain Antonio while the San Jose defense should work extra hard against the giants of Malolos.

Defending champion STI College Global City topped the Luzon 1 division after registering three wins and a loss which was due to a default against STI College Makati. But the Global City squad still made it to the top since they make their playing do the talking whenever they are on the court. Led by Mythical 5 selectees Jeanssen Pangilinan and Mike Sampurna, the Global City squad also relies on its speedy guards Carlos King and Raymond Veluz. With the graduation of three vital cogs to their campaign last year, the Taguig based champions have their vastly improved bench players get quality minutes and at times compete with the best as Carl Manzano, Kley John Lumelay and rookie Shauwn Sabordo give their share on the offense and defense in the three wins of the defending champs. Challenging them is Bicol’s best with the STI College Naga team which is led by their veteran players Bryan Ronda, Ken Pilapil and rookie Kerwin Importante. The Naga city squad will have to double their efforts to be able to halt the defending champs this year.

STI College Caloocan on the other hand topped the Luzon 4 division with three wins against no losses but ended up as the seventh seed.  Most of the games that the Caloocan team played were close as they won one game with a solitary point and another one in overtime. Leading the way for the Caloocan team is their heady point guard Mark Anthony Abin whose veteran leadership and excellent quarterbacking led the way for the Caloocan team to be on top of Luzon 4. Ably backing him up are Aldrin Perez and a bunch of no nonsense teeners who thrive on defense and translates that to good offense. Their opponent, Luzon 2 third placers STI College Tanay which booted out STI College Marikina with after starting  0 -15 in the first quarter. STI College Tanay is in luck as Caloocan’s topscorer, Ariel Bautista, will sit out this game after being thrown out in their last encounter.  STI College Tanay will rely on the heft and Heart of McNeil San Antonio, Nomar Ignacio, Christopher Vidanes and Donie Onate as the four suddenly came alive in the second half of their last game to make it to the second round.

STI College Ortigas- Cainta, STI College Bacoor, STI College Las Pinas and STI College Novaliches comprises the other higher seeded teams vying for a slot for a third round entry.  Vastly improved, STI College Ortigas-Cainta has added more big men and their full court pressure defense has given them much wonders. The trio of Van Dam Locsin, Jeffrey Estabillo and Louie Paredes paces the ORCA back court as the three guards averaged in double figures in their three wins with a single loss to place second in the Luzon 2 division. Out to challenge them is Rolyn Morota, Alexander Perez and Reniel Ariate of STI College Tanauan.  This team from Batangas is the only team not to play in Manila and is a mystery to everyone, expect them to go all-out. Expect STI College Ortigas-Cainta to go all out with their pressure defense which they use effectively to make their opponents turn the ball over and this gives them more opportunities to score. If not they can go inside with their big men and pound the middle. STI College Tanauan will have their backs on the wall and would have to play as a team if they want to come out victorious in this one.

STI College Bacoor, Las Pinas and Novaliches seeded number 5, 6 and 8 respectively share similar stories as the three teams are bannered mostly by new players with some of them freshmen. STI College Bacoor is another team relying on its full court pressure defense to offset their team’s inexperience. They rely on their front court of Gerrald Tuiroc, Carlo Turla and Joshua Lloter who are ably complemented by the quick back court tandem of Jerick Dumag and Gian Garcia.  In this round the Cavite based Bacoor team drew STI College Quezon Ave. the lowest seeded team in the Luzon 1 – 4 eliminations.  Adrian Mariano, Francis Basco and the rest of the Quezon Avenue dribblers will have to reach deeper into their bag of tricks to pull out a win in this match-up to advance to the third round.  Their team has nothing to lose and everything to gain in this match-up. The Quezon avenue dribblers would have to find a way to break the vaunted trapping defense of the Bacoor team for them to stay within striking distance with the Caviteños.

STI College Las Pinas plays a lot like the Bacoor team and is slightly younger with their average age of 18 years.  The duo of Christopher Jutie and Dalton Balidoy proved to be the most consistent scorers in this team and will need to match the effort of their opponents from Meycauayan, Bulacan who are masters of come from behind wins. STI College Meycauayan relied on their end game heroics to secure a come from behind win against STI College Munoz-Edsa, a last second shot to beat STI College Quezon Avenue and lost to STI College Caloocan in overtime. Jeffrey Bulario and Kent Opena will have their hands full in containing the Las Pinas team and securing a win. If there is one thing sure, this game will go down the wire.

Finally, the 8th seed and 9th seed match-up is usually the game that sees both teams with equal chances of winning. Although STI College Taft placed second in Luzon 1 and STI College Novaliches 3rd in Luzon 3, both teams are evenly matched with no team enjoying a distinct advantage.  Look for STI College Novaliches to go to Joash Rupisan, Kaizz Maiquez and Nesty Taguba for scoring while STI College Taft will rely mainly on John Amante, Abby Bascara and Patrick Mendoza to lead their team. In this match-up, statistics will not be a factor but their heart and will to win will determine the winner.

The Visayas second round game is a repeat of last year’s regional finals with STI West Negros University battling STI College Ormoc once again. This year, both teams renew their newfound rivalry as STI College Ormoc emerged on top once again as they beat both STI College Cebu and STI College Tagbilaran with plenty to spare.  Leading the way are two of the four holdovers from last year’s team, Erwin Seneca and Calvin Ongue as they combine with rookie Rico Pelarios to try to reverse their fortunes against the best team in the south – STI West Negros University. Still known as the Mustangs, STI West Negros will still be bannered by their awesome foursome  in Jhan Nermal, Renz Solomon, Kobe Vizcarra and John Pastias.


Four teams fight it out in the regional semifinals in the Mindanao region as STI College Cagayan de Oro took control of Northern Mindanao, STI College Cotabato solidified its hold of Western Mindanao, STI College Davao came up on top of Eastern Mindanao and last year’s Mindanao champion, STI College Koronadal took control of the Southern Mindanao.  This year’s semifinal pairs STI College Cagayan de Oro against STI College Cotabato.  Leading the way for the Cagayanons is one of the two remaining mainstays of last year’s team , the veteran Edgar Omila who is joined by seasoned rookies in  Rey Gomez, Kenneth Maagad and Juan Labata. STI College Cotabato on the other hand will counter with Muhidin Sadin, Al-noor Uba, Bin-Hassan Ayob and Usaman Pasigan who are all ready to reck havoc on the court.

The other half of the Regional semi-finals will pit defending Mindanao champion STI College Koronadal against surprise semi-finalist STI College Davao.  With most of their veterans graduating, leading the team now is Bernard Caguisano Jr. and vastly improved Cris Valencia who together with two rookies, Paulo Soliva and Ricardo Castillo form the four cornered offense of STI College Koronadal that is complimented by their big men in Kenneth Libdan, Dan Ignacio and Almer Lopez. The Davaoenos on the other hand will rely on the duo of Eyan Cabaguio and  Roi Parra who ran rings around their previous opponent. They will be ably supported by Romeo Saplot and Jacinto Avenido III.

The 2016 STI National Basketball Tournament second round match-ups prove to be something worth watching. Who will make it to the third round and to the National finals? Good luck to all STIers representing their respective schools.