Sunday, July 10, 2016

A Quick and Easy Summer Day Tour of Chicago

Here's an easy tour to take a guest with, one who visits in the summer.  I did this today with a college friend. But we had to leave very early on a Sunday, and got back home for dinner.

800am - Take metra train to Ogilvie. Have breakfast at the food court while waiting for the first water taxi going to Michigan Ave
9:45am - Take water taxi ($5) from Ogilvie/River North going to Michigan Ave. Purchase Architecture Boat Tour tickets ($35) at Wendella, where the water taxi docks at. The first architecture tour is at 10:30am. Will be done right before noon, still a little full from breakfast, so can manage to walk up north to John Hancock Tower.
Spend an hour at the John Hancock Tower, $20 general admission.
Around 1pm, walk 2 blocks south to Gino's East for Chicago Deep Dish Pizza. It will take 45 minutes to make the pizza so it pays off to have your guest eat a heavy breakfast earlier at the Ogilvie.
3pm - Walk all the way south to the Millenium Park for the Cloud Gate, the Crown Fountain, the Garden, and the Pavillion.
Walk a block south to the Art Institute of Chicago then walk along Adams Street going west. In a 2 blocks, stop by CVS for cheaper souvenir T-Shirts ($5 each).  Continue to walk till Wacker, take a quick photo at the main entrance of the Willis Tower.  When back up north west to Ogilvie for the 6:35pm train home.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Changing Your Name in the US

I recently got married and had to get through the process of changing my last name. Like everyone else, I googled and found pretty good information. But the sequence does matter, and here's what I have learned.

  1. Expedite your national marriage certificate and have it sent here to the US.  In my home country, it normally takes six months to claim one's marriage certificate from the National Statistics Office. I asked our wedding coordinator to file for an expedited process and it took 3 months.
  2. Go to Social Security to change your name. Bring original document from #1. Wait a week to receive new Social Security card.
  3. Use #2 to update your name in your employer's file. In my case, they asked for a photocopy of my new Social Security card. Because of this change, your records at the IRS, payroll provider (if any), and health insurance will change as well. Eventually, you will receive an updated health insurance card. And ofcourse, show the updated health insurance card to your health practitioner or hospital to also update their own records.
  4. Use #1 and #2 to change your name at the DMV. In my state, we get the new card instantly.
  5. Use your new DMV card as proof of name change to your banks. Some banks can be more strict, and some asked for my marriage certificate.
  6. Use your new DMV card to renew your passport, yes it is a renewal in my Consulate.  It takes 8 to 12 weeks to get the new passport, so avoid making plans to travel overseas until you get the new passport.
I hope this helps, good luck!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Travel Options from Southern Leyte to Surigao

What does it take to travel from Bato, Southern Leyte to Surigao City by plane?
  1. 5 hours by land from Bato to Tacloban City
  2. 1 hour flight from Tacloban City to Cebu City
  3. Transfer to another plane (No direct flights as of this writing)
  4. 45 minute flight from Cebu City to Surigao City

Here are alternatives if travel by ferry is not an issue

Option 1: via Liloan 

  1. Travel by land from Bato to Liloan Port.  Googlemap says 67 km, and would take only an hour. But to translate that into the kind of roads we have in the Philippines, that would really take some 2 to 3 hours.
  2. Take 3 hour ferry from Liloan Port to Lipata, Surigao City

Ferry Schedule here:

Option 2: via Maasin City

  1. Travel by land from Bato to Maasin City for an hour.
  2. Take 5 hour ferry from Maasin City to Port of Surigao, Surigao City

Ferry Schedule here:

Friday, December 05, 2014

9-10 Day Itinerary for Cebu and Negros Oriental

Day 1

Fly out of Manila 10am
Arrive Cebu 11:30am
Check-in at Tune Hotel, Cebu City (close to Ayala Center - Cebu)
Lunch at Ayala Center
Explore "Old Cebu" via taxi
  • Magellan's Cross
  • Basilica de Santo Nino and its museum
  • Cathedral Museum of Cebu
  • Fort San Pedro
  • Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House
  • Museo Sugbo
Taxi to The Walk, IT Park, Lahug
Dinner at Zubuchon

Day 2

Fly out of Cebu 1020am
Arrive Dumaguete 1100am
Travel 45 km north to Bais City
Checkin at a resort in Bais City

Day 3 - Bais City

Dolphin Watching and Manjuyod Sandbar (research on time when it is LOW TIDE to see the sandbar)

Day 4

Travel south
Check-in at Islands Leisure Boutique Hotel and Spa
OR rent a beach house in Bacong or Dauin
Option to rent van for all trips

Food to try: budbud kabog, sansrival, silvanas

Day 5

All morning, Twin Lakes of Balinsasayaw and Danao
Lunch at "Sans Rival Cakes and Pastries"
All afternoon:
  • Silliman University
  • Dumaguete Boulevard aka Rizal Boulevard, eat at tempurahan

Day 6

Day Tour Apo Island Diving

Day 7

Day Tour to Oslob Whaleshark Watching, take 30-min Ferry from Dumaguete Port to Osl ob

Day 8

Take one hour ferry to Siquijor and go back to Dumaguete in the afternoon, or take an extra day in Siquijor. Hire tricycle for a day (1,000 pesos) and will take your around already identified tourist spots.

Day 9

Pasalubong shopping
Fly out of Dumaguete at 4:55pm

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

An Untypical Day

I don't like waking up early for work. But today, I had to show up in uptown Chicago because the government needs to take my fingerprints. Having recently gotten hooked to CSI:Miami on Netflix, I knew what the government was up to. If you consider me your friend, please remind me to not leave fingerprints in a crime scene. And please remind me not to kill anyone. I took the slow city train that makes every possible stop. It may even stop when a squirrel hails for it. But it was nice to take it slow and easy for a change. I got off the train station and walked by a vintage movie house. It looked perfect to upload to my Instragram account, but I did not bring any of my two phones (1 for work, 1 personal) today because I was told it was not allowed in the government office I was going to. No problem, for a change, I'd love to temporarily detach myself from any gadgetry. So instead of using Yelp to find the closest place for me to have a meal, I could use my legs and my own eyes and my natural human instinct! Just as I was about to cross the street, three thin, bald monks crossed the same street. They each carried a gold-tinted jar, and they walked barefoot, with their heads down. I already forgot to cross the street because I realize this doesn't happen to me everyday. Part of me wished I could walk with them and make conversation about life, compassion and humanity. I decided to trace where they must have come from till I found a Buddhist temple around the corner. I almost stepped in, inside the temple, until I saw two old ladies in it, and not monks. Unsure of my next move, I turned away to address one of humanity's greatest need -- hunger. I was hungry so I walked back to an old and ugly diner I passed by earlier. There was a Starbucks nearby but the dilapidated signs of this diner and its many customers was more enticing to me. I expected to see a typical, rundown American mom-and-pop diner, but it was now run by Latino immigrants. I took one of the red cushioned seats that match the red-stained lamps above each booth. A middle-aged woman comes in, in her short red dress, laced red gloves, and striking red hair. She sat next to my booth and may have looked like a furniture along with the diner artifacts. "One day, I'll take all my things into my car and drive down to anywhere. Maybe Tennesee!", I heard a lady say to her friends. Deep inside, I cheer for her. You go girl! Claim your freedom! I look down to my omelet, and take a sip of my bad coffee. But I relax and savor this short few hours of not having to sit in a cubicle all day. I notice my hand trying to find my phone in my purse, my - it has become an automatic movement - que horror! I asked for my check and they refused my credit card. They only take cash. They gave me my change in coins, and one of them was a Canadian coin. What an untypical day for me, and I like it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Seeing My Philippines

I consider myself relatively well-traveled until I got a C- in this app.  I will travel again in July to see Palawan for the first time.  I know I will get a better grade after that.

My Lakbayan grade is C-!
How much of the Philippines have you visited? Find out at Lakbayan!
Created by Eugene Villar.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

My Map of the USA

Unexpected circumstances encouraged me to do some self-reflection.  If I ever have to move out of the US, am I satisfied with what I have seen and explored so far?

I have visited 17 of 50 states

Ahh, yes.  I am satisfied.  I can say that the US is no longer a mystery to me.  But, ofcourse, I still have a short list of the last few places I want to see:

  1. Aurora Borealis in Alaska
  2. Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington

Sunday, January 08, 2012

History In Movies

I used to hate history.  In school, my report cards confirm that I had very little interest in the past.  I guess the only one that stuck in my head was about the Sumerians who invented the sundial.  But since I moved here in the US, I happen to become curious about where all these races in the US came from.  It is no question that in the US, everyone are immigrants, except of course, from the native American Indians.  My museum trips out of state has slowly piqued my curiosity and slight interest in basic history not just for the Americas but mostly the world.  Fortunately, I have seen these movies that, I think, everyone should see:
  • Invictus - I knew nothing about South Africa and Nelson Mandela until I saw this movie.  It's amazing how recent they have embraced democracy.  I am most amazed by how Mandela charmed the Afrikaners to let go of apartheid to the native black Africans through rugby.
  • Schindler's List - A heart wrenching movie that depicts the dark side of the human race.  This is about Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who took big risks to save the lives of Jewish refugees during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories.
  • The King's Speech - Old World royalties do not really interest me but this is more about a person's own struggle with himself.  
  • Hotel Rwanda - Oh, gosh, this is another heart wrenching movie.  A friend recommended this to me and it reminded me of Schindler's List.  It saddens me how cruel we humans can become to one another.  
  • The Motorcycle Diaries - Che Guevara's roadtrip around South America.  This describes the very trip that changed him into the revolutionary that he was.  Very inspiring.
  • Evita
  • Iron Lady

Monday, June 27, 2011

Brown Rabbit

It was nice to see this little brown rabbit munching on some grass in the park. Seeing him made me happy!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

15,747 emails

My BlackBerry died on me one morning when I got 15,747 emails. Unbelievable.