9.27.2008

Cebu Pacific Customer Hotline Horror

I'm currently on the phone with yet another Cebu Pacific customer service agent. This has been my 5th call for the last 30 minutes. My concern is simple. I just wanted to rebook my Cebu-Bangkok-Cebu flight to a later date, since I wasn't able to use my original ticket because they rerouted the total flight.

The first customer service agent I spoke with was okay. She was attentive and had great attention to detail. She was able to guide me through the process efficiently. Never mind that she was the one who told me that apparently they only had a 30-day allowance to rebook an old flight to get waived fees. She was also the one who told me that I cannot rebook my flight to a promo rate, and that I had to pay for the fare difference. She almost completed the transaction, except for one tiny detail. Cebu Pacific records show that I BOARDED the plane when I didn't even use the ticket at all! She then told me that she will fix it, and that I need to call again after a few hours to confirm everything. I told her that she could call me herself, but apparently they were not authorized to call their clients. Their clients have to call them back.

Three hours later, and I called their hotline again expecting to hear positive news that my rebooking was successful. The second agent I talked to for this day had no clue with what happened. I tried to explain to her everything that progressed, but she couldn't understand me. I dropped the call since I thought I was wasting my time talking to someone who seems to have no idea what she was going to do with my concern.

Let's move on to Agent #3. This one was smarter. She understood what I told her. One thing missing though is that their system had no record of my previous calls with the hotline. She had to guide me through the process AGAIN, asking me what dates I preferred, if I had used my old ticket, and more. For this call, the line got cut so I called the hotline again. This time, I spoke to Agent #4. Again, this agent had no idea what had transpired and she asked me the same questions all over again.

To make this story short, Cebu Pacific has no infrastructure of tracking the progress of their customers' concerns. To complete your transaction, you have to speak to one customer service agent alone or else you risk having to listen to yourself repeat your concern to different agents over and over again. There goes another Cebu Pacific horror.

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9.20.2008

Cebu - Maribago Bluewater Beach Resort


maribago bluewater beach resort

One of the things I love about Cebu is that one could easily get away from the hustle and bustle of modern city life and head to a nearby beach 30 minutes away. I spent my Sunday last weekend at Maribago Bluewater Beach Resort in Mactan, Cebu. They have a day trip package for Php600, and one could avail of the resort's facilities from 8am - 5pm.


maribago bluewater beach resort

The scene was definitely picture-perfect. We spent our first few hours idling by the beach. I was relaxing by the shore while my companions headed off to swim in the sea. The water was not exactly crystal clear, but it was okay. There were a lot of tourists around, particularly Koreans. Most of them were eager to try the water sports available -- kayaking, parasailing, jetskiing and many more. There were also a few who went out diving.

One thing unique about Maribago Bluewater Beach Resort is that they have a man-made island nearby, accessible by a raft or small banca. From there, guests could lounge and relax by the seashore. For larger groups, they could rent it out and have a private event there. I once attended a beach wedding, and the reception was made on Maribago's island. It was perfect for the bridal party since they got to gather their guests on the same place, and the guests couldn't leave easily after their meal since people would definitely notice if they went ahead.

If seawater's not your idea of fun, then head off to the nearby pool. The water depth varies. There's a 2.5-ft area for the kids, while the adults could enjoy swimming at the 5-to-6 feet levels. If you get hungry from all that swimming, there's a restaurant nearby that you could go to. Too bad I wasn't able to try out their restaurant that time. I'll reserve that for a future blog entry.

Maribago Bluewater Beach Resort
Maribago, Buyong
Mactan Island, Lapulapu City 6015
Tel No. +63324920100, +63322325411
Email: maribago@bluewater.com.ph
Website: http://www.maribago.com.ph/

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Bohol MetroCentre Hotel and Convention Center


I stayed at Bohol MetroCentre Hotel and Convention Center for a recent business trip. Here's a quick review:

Location
The hotel is located at the center of Bohol's downtown area, where the commercial district is situated. It's near to Bohol Quality Mall and Alturas Supermarket, where the two are only 10 minutes away by foot.

Rooms
I was glad to find out that most of their rooms have already been renovated. The walls are painted with a crisp white color, and the interiors are clean and simple. The hotel's being marketed as a business hotel, so I guess there's really no need for fancy decor. One thing I don't like about their rooms though is that most of them don't have windows facing the sun. If you need to wake up early, make sure to have the front desk ring you up or set up an alarm on your phone. The lack of sunlight makes you lose track of time.

Breakfast
My deluxe room for Php2,250 comes with free breakfast, but they don't offer much. Their free breakfast consists of bread with jam or butter, fresh fruit (I got only one slice of mango), and choice of coffee or tea. If you want a heartier breakfast, you'd have to order from their menu.

Service
This hotel really has BAD service. I had a meeting there at the restaurant in the afternoon. Most of the waiters were idle since they didn't have a lot of customers. I asked them for a WIFI connection, and they said I had to purchase a card from the nearby convenience store for it. I asked if I could have it charged to the room instead, and they said that I couldn't. I really had to walk out there to purchase the card so I could access the WIFI. The idle waiters didn't take the initiative to buy it for me, or even to ask the front desk to charge the bill to my room. What's worse is that this isn't an isolated case. When I checked out, I specifically instructed the woman at the reception to split the bill since I checked out earlier than my roommate. When she handed me my bill, I was surprised that all the charges were printed out. She didn't even listen to my instructions.

Summary
There are better hotels out there. If you're out to spend leisure time in Bohol, it is best to find a resort in Panglao rather than spend your time at a hotel in the city. If you're on business though and don't have the luxury of time, then you could consider MetroCentre. It's the one nearest to the commercial district and location is its only plus. Apart from its location, this hotel has got nothing much to offer.

The MetroCentre Hotel and Convention Center
Pres. Carlos P. Garcia Avenue, Tagbilaran CityBohol, Philippines 6300
Tel. No. +63384112599


Rating: 

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Free Flights from Cebu Pacific!

It's the second day of Cebu Pacific's crazy seat sale. Get one-way domestic flights for FREE! Pay only 200 Pesos if you want to carry baggage. Booking is open from Sept 19-21, 2008. Travel period is from October 16 to December 17, 2008.

It's Cebu Pacfic's way of celebrating their No. 1 spot in the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB). Hurry and grab your seats now! 

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9.18.2008

Pond's Pinkish White Dream Date Promo

Have you seen the latest about Pond's? They're having a Pond's Pinkish White Dream Date Promo featuring Piolo Pascual and Dingdong Dantes. I like the commercial a lot. It's simple, and straight to the point. The decision to feature two leading men from different networks was a smart move too. In this way, Pond's will be able to cater to a wider fan base. This commercial was supposedly shot in an undisclosed location so gossip mongers wouldn't get hold of any advanced info.



Promo Mechanics
1. The Pond’s Pinkish White Dream Date Promo is open to single women aged 18-30 who possess the qualities that embody the brand and the Pond’s White Beauty line: attractive with good, healthy-looking pinkish-white skin; and a desire to date either Piolo or Dingdong.

2. To enter: Submit one (1) recent colored half body photo and one (1) empty pack of any Pond’s White Beauty product, and write the following information on a sheet of paper: 

Name, 
Age, 
Address, 
Telephone/Mobile Number, 
Email (optional), 
Store where you bought the product, and 
Date Choice: Piolo or Dingdong.

3. Complete entries must be placed in an unmarked, sealed envelope. Send directly to: P.O. Box 727, Araneta Center, Cubao, QC, 1135. Participants can also drop their entries at the Pond’s Dream Date Booth at participating malls.

4. Entries will be accepted from August 24, 2008 until 5pm of November 15, 2008 only.  

5. Five (5) finalists will be picked by a panel of judges on November 21,2008 and will be informed through email, text message, or telephone (verification questions will be asked by official Pond’s representatives). Finalists will be called for interview.

Criteria for judging are as follows:
  • Pinkish White Skin Quality – 60%
  • Overall Beauty – 30%
  • Personality – 10%
6.  Two (2) Winners will be selected out of the five (5) finalists on November 28, 2008. Each will get a surprise Dream Date (arranged by Pond’s) with the heartthrob of her choice - Piolo or Dingdong- and P100,000 cash. Prizes may be claimed from December 2, 2008 to February 10, 2009.  

7.  By participating in this Promo, participants agree to be bound by the Promo rules and regulations and decisions of Unilever and to participate in the Promo’s advertisement (e.g. publication or broadcast of winners’ names, photos and actual dream date) without additional consideration.  To the extent allowed by law, acceptance of the prizes constitutes permission for Unilever to publish the winners’ names and/or show the dream date on television without prior notice and without additional consideration. 
 
8. All employees of Unilever Philippines, Activations Advertising, Ogilvy & Mather, their agencies / third party suppliers, and their relatives up to second degrees of consanguinity and affinity are disqualified from joining the promo. 

Per DOH-BFAD Permit No. 1005, Series of 2008.
Promo period runs from August 24 to December 31, 2008.



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9.09.2008

It's Always Best to Compare -- PAL vs Cebu Pacific

Sometimes, people get stuck with the perception that just because Cebu Pacific is always offering promo fares and does not extra perks on its flights, it must be CHEAPER. Lo and behold, that case doesn't hold true anymore. Philippine Airlines has bounced back to its glory by defending their turf and pitting themselves against Cebu Pacific's price point in airfares.

On my flight back to Cebu last week, I asked for a morning flight around 9am and for my colleague the last flight on the next day. Here are the options that our travel agency gave us:

05 SEPT 2008
Cebu Pacific MLA-CEB 0830 Php2,209
Philippine Airlines PR853 MLA-CEB 0900 Php2,170

06 SEPT 2008
Cebu Pacific MLA-CEB 1905 Php1,640
Philippine Airlines PR855 MLA-CEB 1930 Php1,587

Yes, you actually read that right. Philippine Airlines won in the price war this time, plus we got a free snack on flight! It really pays to compare these days. With the shrinking wallet of the consumers and the companies battling to get a share of that, they're willing to shrink margins to stay afloat.

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ABS-CBN's My Girl Ends



Last Friday, the last episode of ABS-CBN's My Girl aired. The soap starred Philippine tinseltown's current hottest love team Kim Chiu and Gerald Anderson. I'm not really an avid watcher of Philippine tv soaps, but this one's an exception. When I first saw their episodes, I thought the show was merely a copycat of Korean tv shows. As My Girl progressed, however, Kim Chiu learned to tackle the role effortlessly that she managed to capture my interest along the way.

Her chemistry with Gerald is undeniable. They definitely look good together, and they totally got the young-people-hopelessly-in-love angle. A nice bonus was Jasmine's (Kim Chiu's character) outfits. She could carry the latest fashion trends well. As for Julian (Gerald Anderson), I didn't quite understand why he had to wear suits all the time. Of course, he had to emulate a rich and handsome businessman but really, was there a need to show that off in corporate suits in humid Manila? Good thing in the latter part of the show, his stylist was able to dress him up in more comfortable clothes.

The supporting cast of Kim and Gerald were a welcome addition. Jasmine's best friend, in particular, added a good kind of humor to the story playing the loyal, fun and dependable friend. Julian's grandfather, a veteran actor, also added enough drama to make the story more interesting.

All in all, this show was definitely one of the best this season. It's a good thing that ABS-CBN resisted the urge to drag the story until the ratings start to dip, which is the tendency of the networks here when ratings are at an all-time high. One thing on their last episode that I couldn't quite relate to is that why they really had to squeeze in a wedding when they could have ended the story with a happy reunion anyway. Maybe Filipinos really like seeing endings at the altar, and that's probably why they had to fast forward the story to Julian and Jasmine's wedding. I hope there'll be more shows like this in the future. This is definitely a fresh break from all that drama and senti shows that we've had for decades.

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Casa Verde Restaurant, Cebu

I first wrote about Casa Verde in my entry on Cebu's best restaurants. Its original location is in an old house tucked away in Ranudo Extension, but it has recently opened its doors to a more accessible place at The Walk in IT Park, Lahug.

Casa Verde Restaurant Cebu IT Park

The ambiance is light and cozy. One could bring friends and family there, and easily feel comfortable with the crowd. Like its first branch which attracts a wide following, Casa Verde at IT Park is filled with varying sets of people. Employees working nearby could take a quick break and enjoy its delightful meals, while others who come from afar could conveniently drop by to visit.

Casa Verde baby back ribs


Of course, not to be missed are their famous baby back ribs with its tender meat delightfully served with their signature tangy sauce. It's the best deal at less than Php200. Aside from this, Casa Verde also serves delicious steak dishes that would definitely satisfy anyone's meat cravings.


Casa Verde tavern shrimps

For the health-conscious crowd, there are various choices available for them too. Several salad choices and seafood dishes are up for grabs if they want to save on calories and skip the meat. Shown on the left is a dish called Ting Ting's Tavern Shrimps. These breaded shrimps are served with its own sauce, rice and vegetables on the side.

For dessert, Casa Verde serves a sinfully delicious ice cream cake aptly called Death by Chocolate. It's the most ordered dessert on the block, so don't forget to try it out to cap off your Casa Verde experience wonderfully.

For those who regularly visit the Ranudo Extension branch, you would notice that not all dishes are available at IT Park. Still, one should find comfort that most of the restaurant's best sellers are offered at the new branch. For the complete selection, head over to the original location.

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9.08.2008

Manila - Conti's at Serendra

Last week, I found myself in Manila for an emergency meeting with some colleagues. These days, Manila trips are never complete without at least one visit to Fort Bonifacio, with the area always buzzing at night due to the allure of Serendra and High Street.

While walking at Serendra after a long meeting with my account, a colleague and I went out on a search for an interesting restaurant that we have not tried yet. Our appetites were adventurous, and we decided to try out Conti's Pastry Shop and Restaurant.

Contis

We were easily drawn to its inviting facade. When we went in, the ambiance was warm and friendly. The place was almost packed at 7pm on a Thursday night. Everyone was relaxed and busy chatting the night away with their companions. Each seemed to have an interesting story to tell.

My colleague and I were seated at a table for two near the entrance. We first tried their bestseller salad, since everyone seemed to be ordering it. It was practically on all of the tables around us! It was indeed sumptuous. Sorry, I really missed the name. It's the salad featured on their menu as a must-try.

Next, I had the Chicken Roulade with Saffron Mushroom Risotto. It's chicken with creamy cheese in the middle, and a bit of gravy sauce on top. It reminded me of my favorite Chicken ala Kiev at UP Diliman's Chocolate Kiss Cafe. My colleague ordered Fish and Chips with Salad and French Fries. The fries came with a honey mustard sauce. By the time we were eating our main course, I thought the experience at Conti's was nice but the one that took the cake (literally!) was their famous dessert, Mango Bravo. It was actually just recommended by the staff, and I'm glad I got to try it out. It's the best, BEST dessert that I've tasted so far.
Mango Bravo

The mango was ripe, and the cream tasted very delicious since it wasn't overly sweet. The taste was just right that you can't help but take another serving. As I ate the frozen dessert, I discovered interesting surprise ingredients like cashew nuts and chocolate bits. Mango Bravo was so good that one should dine at Conti's just to try this heavenly dessert.

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