Microtel Inn & Suites Cavite

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Microtel Inn & Suites is a budget hotel chain with locations in many countries, including the United States, Canada, Argentina, Mexico and Honduras.

It is said that a stay in any Microtel facility is equal to a stay in any other Microtel Inn & Suites, as the hotel chain sticks to the international standards of quality while ensuring affordability.

The Microtel Inn & Suites Cavite has 57 rooms, and provides an ideal setting that combines comfort, privacy and a convenient location at great value.

The Gateway Business Park/ Special Economic Zone and the First Cavite Industrial Estate are conveniently nearby, making the hotel a perfect place for travelers with business affairs in the area.

One of the best things about the Microtel Inn & Suites Cavite is that the hotel is located within the 700-hectare Eagle Ridge Golf and Residential Estates- which has four championship golf courses for your enjoyment. The courses have been designed by Isao Aoki, Andy Dye, Nick Faldo and Greg Norman.

The hotel does not have in-house dining facilities, but there are many restaurants and bars nearby, which are easily accessible from the hotel.

Other amenities, facilities and services include wi-fi internet connection at the lobby and a business center, which may be used for a minimal fee.

Average year-round price is US$41 per room-night. Other Microtel Inn & Suites locations include Baguio, Batangas, Boracay, Davao and Tarlac.

Microtel Inn & Suites
Eagle Ridge, Cavite, Philippines
(632) 671.7171

Other Sources:

Cheers, everyone!


Red Box: Singing to the Tune of Global Karaoke Entertainment

Thursday, October 9, 2008

from the personal travel notes of Renzie Baluyut.

Red Box has always been my first choice when it comes to great karaoke here in Metro Manila. It's comfortable, it's got a huge selection of songs, they got good food and drinks, and you can do so much more than just karaoke.

In fact, when family and friends fly in from out-of-town, one of the places I take them to at first opportunity is Red Box, and spend several hours singing our lungs out, playing billiards, or even going for a round of Nintendo Wii.

Here's something on Red Box from the official press kit I got a few days ago:

Only an international entertainment hub would understand that more than just getting a perfect score, true karaoke is a multi-sensory experience.

This is especially true in the Philippine karaoke scene where in the past, karaoke bars were viewed as sleazy, noise generating nuisances. Several attempts to make karaoke a more palatable experience popped left and right, but none gave the discerning, music-loving market a venue edgy and savvy enough to suit their taste.

But in 2003, Red Box, a leading karaoke bar in Hong Kong and Malaysia, splashed a new color to the metro's karaoke industry, one that exudes global sophistication. Since then, Red Box was able to redefine the concept of the genuine karaoke experience as something that is chic and classy--a destination anchored on the diversity of entertainment options.

“The needs of the Filipino karaoke market have evolved – they became well traveled, more modern, and greatly aware of the options available to them. They put premium on technology, style, and fun. And for a music loving nation whose demands are changing, I believe that Red Box is all of these – a fashionable place for cosmopolitan karaoke experience and more,” says Paolo del Rosario, Marketing Director of Red Box.

A fusion of music, dining, leisure and recreation, Red Box has delighted aspiring singers, food connoisseurs, laid back drinkers, rowdy gamers, and even top notch executives.

Songs to Last the Whole Night Long

Red Box is probably holds the distinction of being a karaoke bar that holds the most extensive song selection in the market today. With approximately 100, 000 songs and music videos that is updated on a weekly basis, enthusiasts can choose from the classic favorites like Frank Sinatra's My Way, to Britney Spears' latest hit, to Regine Velasquez's newest single, defining Red Box is a music oasis where anyone can sing his or her heart out in style.

Drink and Dine the Global Way

Most karaoke bars don't pay much attention to their food and drink offerings. How many times have you gone to a karaoke and ordered the usual sisig along with a conventional beer brand prepared and served in the same way bystanders in a sari-sari store do it?

Red Box's dining experience and menu is at par with the best restaurants in the city. Guided by culinary experts, Red Box offers a delectable selection of gastronomic delights ranging from local, Asian, continental and even vegetarian dishes. It is also the first karaoke bar to open at lunch time, providing metropolitan gourmands additional dining destinations.

To complement the menu, Red Box offers a variety of non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages. Quench your thirst after an intense song with skillfully prepared cocktail drinks like all time favorites Margarita and Sex on the Beach; top international beer brands like Stella Artois and Corona, and internationally renowned gourmet coffees and teas from The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.

World Class Leisure and Recreation Haven

Red Box also features a mix of leisure and recreational facilities that adds a sophisticated twist to your karaoke experience. This unique offering also enables you and your family or friends to gather in one place despite of varying interests. Whether you opt to play a game of pool, battle it out on the poker table or simply lounge in the karaoke bar's comfy sofa, Red Box makes sure that nobody will be left out of the fun.

The Hue of International Karaoke Experience

With Red Box's extensive and well thought of services, today’s more sophisticated urbanites can enjoy a karaoke experience that is comparable to how most first class cities in the world enjoy their own. “Before Red Box, the karaoke business has never been taken seriously. Mixing art, technology and a lot of fun, we want our customers to sing, eat, drink, play and lounge in the distinctly global Red Box way,” says Paolo.

Experience a different level of karaoke high. Red Box has branches in Greenbelt 3 and Trinoma. For more information and inquiries, please call 757-6188 or visit www.redbox.com.ph.

Photos and text from the Red Box press kit.

Cheers, everyone.


Vivere at the Richville Regency Suites in Alabang

Thursday, October 2, 2008

From the travel notes of Renzie Baluyut.

Located in Alabang, at the southern tip of Metro Manila, the Vivere at the Richville Regency Suites offers a lovely place to stay for both business and leisure travellers.

The Vivere at the Richville Regency Suites is a 4-star hotel with a wide range of accomodation arrangements- with studios, suites and even 2-bedroom units. Arrangements can be made should you choose to stay for weeks or months at a time, or even a year. Units come with fully equipped kitchenettes and bars making for a more comfortable and enjoyable stay.

• Superior Room (Standard Room) - Floor Area: 34-35 square meters
• Deluxe Suite (One-bedroom Suite) - Floor Area: 38-42 square meters
• Executive Suite (One-bedroom Suite) - Floor Area: 42-44 square meters
• Premiere Suite (One-bedroom Suite) - Floor Area: 59-61 square meters
• Imperial Suite (Two-bedroom Suite) - Floor Area: 72-75 square meters
• Regal Suite (Two-bedroom Suite) - Floor Area: 105 square meters
• Royal Suite (Two-bedroom Suite) - Floor Area: 73 square meters

Guests who have stayed at Vivere at the Richville Regency Suites were very pleased with the staff, praising them for their attentiveness, hospitality and special attention- particularly with guests travelling with children.

Dining facilities of note include the Vivere Skyline located at the 31st floor, which serves buffet breakfast by day and has a magnificent view of the bay and the city, especially at night.

Other amenities, facilities and services include function rooms for banquets and meetings, The Forest Stream Spa, a business center, the Fitness Edge Gym and a playroom for children.

Vivere at the Richville Regency Suites
5102 Bridgeway Ave. Filinvest Corporate City,
Alabang, Muntinlupa City, Philippines
(+632) 771.7777

Other Sources:

Cheers, everyone!


5 Tips on Making an Event for Bloggers

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

As more and more businesses make use of buzz marketing to promote their products and services and try to get good word-of-mouth, we get to see all kinds of gimmicks and come-ons.

Some fail dismally in this task- as more educated consumers see right through the more obvious efforts to put pearls on swine. Others cross the ethical borderline, striving to gain positive exposure no matter the cost. And then there are some companies you just can't help but support, solely for the reason that their corporate values naturally align with your own.

Having been a media person for 14 years, and now as a denizen of the local blogosphere, I can say that I've seen all kinds of companies employ all kinds of marketing tactics to get a good review or two out there. Some good, some completely forgettable, and some just downright wrong.

Of course, if your company chooses to make use of new media- blogs, podcasts, social networks, viral videos, etc- as a means to promote your latest line of products and services, you want to be remembered the right way.

I was in a bloggers' event last week, and it made me think about writing the post you're now reading. Let me share with you a few insights I had with that experience.

The Kawayan Cove Experience

Just a few days ago, several bloggers (myself included), headed off for Kawayan Cove in Nasugbu, Batangas. Kawayan Cove is a 68-hectare exclusive seaside residential community, located in Nasugbu, Batangas, a town 2 hours south of Metro Manila famous for its white-sand beaches and resorts. Edge Properties invited some bloggers to come check it out, and you can read the details of our visit on this other post of mine on another blog, The Life & Times of The Renzie Man.

Whether I like it or not, the side of me that's all media-and-marketing can't help but pay attention to how promotional activities- like this particular event for bloggers- unfold and run its course. I've managed a number of similar events in the not-too-distant past, so I have a few observations myself.

Here are some things we learned from our Kawayan Cove visit:

1. Set the expectations straight. Naturally, when we were given the invitation to event, I already had some preconceived notions in my head: is it going to be a sales pitch? Those real estate open house events are usually boring! Wait- blogging about real estate IS boring!

But the invitation explained it all: it's a workshop for bloggers into digital photography. Just so happens it's set in Kawayan Cove. Bring your camera- you'll want to take lots of pictures. Bring extra clothes- you might want to hang by the beach.

The organizers did a pretty good job in setting the expectations straight, and sticking to it. It was pretty much everything they said it was going to be, then they surpassed themselves by executing their plans very well.

2. Preparation is key. In any given event, even your best-laid plans can go awry. In this case, who would've known it would be raining half the day? Nevertheless, there was a Plan B in place- the venue for the talk was moved to a more suitable location (from the ampitheater to the pavillion by Bamboo Beach), there were vehicles on hand to shuttle us from place to place, even sandals for those who didn't bring any.

You have to admire the kind of preparation any company makes to ensure the success of any event. It's all about covering all your bases. And allowing yourself to be flexible when the situation calls for it.

3. Play the part of the gracious host. It's all about creating new connections and encouraging long-term relationships. Make your guests comfortable, encourage mingling with other guests, make yourself available for Q&A's.

In the case of Kawayan Cove, the Puyat family were all there to show us around, share stories and tell us what we needed to know about the property. I'm sure they've done this dozens, maybe hundreds of times, yet there they were, taking time to have a chat with each and every one of us.

The staff of Kawayan Cove was on hand to make sure we were well-attended to. From the welcome drinks, to the hearty lunch prepared for the group, even those nice little moist towels we got after the tour.

All that thoughtfulness and hospitality can only create a positive image of you and your company. For me, it shows how genuinely warm and welcoming the Puyat family is, and also how well Edge Properties trained their personnel. That's always a good thing in my book.

4. Provide lots of venues for interactivity. There were specially prepared food and drink arrangements, just for pictorial purposes, with Anton Diaz (of Our Awesome Planet) going around giving tips and pointers to all the bloggers, and the Puyat family sharing anecdotes about Kawayan Cove's history.

There was more than enough time to take pictures, work on a blog, do a podcast, or even shoot a viral video. Also lots of opportunities to walk around with fellow bloggers to compare notes and get to know them some more.

You want the interactivity because you want to give your bloggers a chance to soak up and appreciate the experience- in every way possible. It's good that they have a good experience about your products and services, and even better that you allow them to process all that information, and consider all aspects of whatever it is your promoting.

5. Content is still king. What makes your event so compellingly different from everybody else's? A promotional event like this gives your company an opportunity to create content relevant to your market. It doesn't have to be forced, nor does it have to be overly elaborate. It only has to be relevant and timely.

With all of Anton's experience as a photographer- he only stuck to what we wanted to hear: Travel and Food Photography for Bloggers. In fact, he only had ten or so slides, yet we already learned so much.

More importantly, we had the chance to put all his tips to practice for the rest of the afternoon as we toured the property. Two birds with one stone: not only do we get to appreciate the majesty of the natural beauty of Kawayan Cove, we also had a newfound appreciation for digital photography.

Bottom line: Make your event a memorable experience. For businesses who wish to tap blogs and bloggers as a means to promote their products, events, ideas or services, what they're really trying to accomplish is to get good online buzz- the kind of word-of-mouth that inspires the bloggers to tell their readers about their experiences, and share something unique about the activity.

As a blogger, The Kawayan Cove event was probably one of the best I've ever been to. I've learned a lot from it, made some new connections, and it gave me a fresh perspective on things (particularly on the topic of real estate, for me!).

As a media-and-marketing person, the activity was well-planned and equally well-executed. Businesses who plan on making use of blogs and bloggers would do well to learn from this exercise.

Cheers, everyone.


A Step-by-step Guide on Writing a Resignation Letter

Monday, September 15, 2008

I've worked long enough to have seen dozens of resignation letters pass through my hands. Heck, I've written quite a few myself.

When it's time to leave the job you have right now, it's probably in your best interest to leave the company on the best possible terms, even if you feel otherwise.

A resignation letter has to accomplish two simple goals:

  • It gives your employer a formal (and legal) notice of your intentions to leave the company, and
  • It gives you an opportunity to make an impression that, yes, you are professional, yes, you are rising above the petty things others might otherwise fall into, and yes, you are respectable.

A resignation letter is not a venue to go emo and vent your frustrations, or air your opinions, wishes and grievances. It has to be concise and straight-to-the-point. That's all there is to it.

How To Write a Resignation Letter
  1. Treat the resignation letter as a standard business letter. First, you have your name, position and department. The date comes next, two lines down after that. After two more lines, put in the name, position and department of your employer. Then two lines more, you can go into your 'Dear Mr. '.
  2. On the first paragraph: State that you are leaving your position, and give the date of the last day you'll be working.
  3. Second paragraph: Thank your employer for the opportunity you had working for them. If you want to, mention colleagues you enjoyed working with, or supervisors you want to thank for mentoring you.
  4. Third paragraph: For your closing statement, wish the company continued success.
  5. After two lines down, type 'Sincerely,' then your name after four lines.
  6. Sign your resignation letter on the space above your name with a flourish.

There you have it. A short and sweet resignation letter. Hope this helps.

Cheers, everyone!


The Linden Suites in Ortigas Center, Pasig City

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I have had the pleasure of staying at The Linden Suites several times in the recent past. Mostly for work-related functions back when I was still working for an FM radio station, but there were a couple of times when I have been able to spend a few days off and just kick back by hanging out here.

The Linden Suites is located right smack in the middle of the Ortigas Center, one of Metro Manila's more progressive business districts, as we've seen more and more outsourcing companies and multinationals setting up shop in the vicinity.

You also have a number of good shopping malls and restaurant strips around the Ortigas Center- more notably, Shangri-la Mall, SM Megamall and Robinsons Galleria- all three of which are along EDSA- and then you have The Podium (along San Miguel Avenue), MetroWalk along (Meralco Avenue), and Tiendesitas just a little bit ways off towards C5. All of these spots are within the general area of Linden Suites, the first three malls being the closest.

The Linden Suites is managed by the Hong Kong-based Swiss Belhotel International group. It has more than 160+ rooms, and you can choose to have a standard room (the Executive room), a one-bedroom suite, two-bedroom suite, or even a penthouse suite if you want to settle into more long-term accommodations.

Personally, I love getting one of the one-bedroom types. You get an adequately comfortable room that also comes with a kitchenette (with pretty much all the utensils you need to whip up a storm if you have to), and a nice little receiving area where you can just chill in front of the TV and catch on up your DVD viewing. Absolutely great if you have guests dropping by, or if you want to keep your family entertained for the weekend.

For me, the Linden Suites makes for an excellent destination for hosting a dinner party, or just relaxing with the family over a long weekend. It's very family-friendly; you can arrange to have baby-sitting services, rent a playstation for the room, or even grocery shopping arrangements if you need an extra hand getting things done with the kids around.

Ideal also for business travelers, the Linden Suites also has a business center with pretty much anything you might need to get some work done- broadband internet, conference rooms, laptops, overhead projectors, and even serviced offices if you might need one while you're in town.

If you need to relax, you can have a massage at the Health Center, or just stew for a while in the sauna, or take a dip in the indoor pool. I had a massage done a couple times myself- you can even choose to get it done in the comfort of your own room if you'd prefer. Just make sure you book well in advance.

As for food, you can ring up some room service, or head on over to the second level, which has the Azzurro Bistro and Bar. Alternately, you can head on out to Ortigas Center to check out the local nightlife, or if you even prefer, get some food delivered to your room from the many restaurants nearby.

I would have to say that The Linden Suites is a great place to stay whether you're traveling with the family, or if you're traveling on business. With the rates that they have, you easily get more for your money given the amenities and services available to you, even compared to a lot of hotels in the Makati or Manila area.

The Linden Suites is located at #37 San Miguel Avenue, Ortigas Center in Pasig City. You can check out their website here. For inquiries and reservations, you might try calling their 24-hour customer service hotline at (+632) 638-7878. AsiaTravel.com has a map to The Linden Suites if you want to go check it out.

Cheers, everyone!


The Bellevue Hotel Manila

Thursday, September 11, 2008

From the Travel notes of Renzie Baluyut.

The Bellevue Hotel Manila is a 5-Star hotel located in Alabang- one of the more upscale and rapidly developing cities at the southern end of Metro Manila.

Mostly catering to business travelers and the occasional medical tourism market, the Bellevue Hotel Manila is conveniently located a short distance away from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, two major shopping malls- Festival Mall some 2km away and the Alabang Town Center less than a kilometer away from the hotel.

Also very close by is the Asian Hospital & Medical Center, encouraging other guests to come stay while attending to their executive check-ups or other out-patient medical needs.

The Bellevue Hotel Manila has a free shuttle service to take you to the shopping malls mentioned above, or to the surrounding areas if needed.

The Hotel has some 222 well-appointed rooms and suites:

• Deluxe Room - Floor Area: 33 square meters
• Executive Suite - Floor Area: 61 square meters
• Premier Suite - Floor Area: 91 square meters
• Presidential Suite - Floor Area: 129 square meters

Many guests have praised the Bellevue Hotel Manila's cuisine- as buffet breakfasts are usually included in the accomodation packages. The spread includes a wide selection of food from Filipino, American, Asian and International stations. Buffets are also available for lunch and dinner.

Guests have also recommended the Bellevue Hotel Manila's well-equipped gym, beauty salon and spa.

A point worth mentioning is this: a number of guests have given the hotel high praises for running smoothly even when a category 3 typhoon ("Xangsane"/"Milenyo") hit the city in September 2006. The Bellevue Hotel Manila has power generators that kept it up and running even when the entire Metro Manila was without power for 2-4 days.

Other amenities include a number of function rooms and conference rooms, a business center, a pool on the second floor, a bar on the 20th floor and a pastry shop.

Check out the official website for the virtual tour. Average year-round price is US$182/night.

The Bellevue Hotel Manila
North Bridgeway, Northgate Cyberzone,
Filinvest Corporate City, Alabang, Muntinlupa
Metro Manila, Philippines 1781

Other Sources:

Cheers, everyone!


How to Write a Wedding Reception Script

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Here's a post that originally came out on another blog of mine, The Life and Times of The Renzie Man. I came up with this post shortly after my brother's wedding last August, and has turned out to be rather helpful, particularly for those who need help in putting together a script for the post-wedding festivities.

So you're about to do emcee work for a wedding reception- how exactly do you come up with a script for an occasion like this?

Putting together a wedding reception script isn't all that hard, really. Bear in mind that as the evening's master of ceremonies, you also have to play the part of a good host, and pretty much fill in everyone on what's going on.

Here are a few tips on writing a wedding reception script.

1. Remember: this is the newlyweds' big night, so the spotlight should really be on them, not on anybody else. Everybody else- family, friends, colleagues- can get their share of the limelight that evening, but special attention must be given to your couple every single time.

2. Get with the Master Plan. Consult with the future husband-and-wife exactly how they want things to happen. If you are to set the tone for the wedding reception, you have to take your cues from them. Sitting down with them will enable you to find out exactly what's important for them:

  • Would they want it to be done and over with as quickly as possible?
  • Would they want to have lots of ballroom dancing?
  • Do they want to incorporate particular wedding traditions on top of, say, the wedding bouquet and garter tosses?
  • Maybe they want their reception dinner completely untraditional- so what other fun stuff can you think of working in?
Whatever the future husband-and-wife wants, it is your mission to essentially carry out their wishes. After all, it is their night- you want it to be as memorable and magical as possible for the newlyweds, as well as for their friends and relatives.

3. Remember that you're writing a wedding reception script. Which means that once you've worked out the general plan with the couple (and with the wedding planner/s, if need be), you're now off to a PC or a laptop somewhere ready to work your magic.

No need to go verbose and all wordy. Keep it simple, short and sweet. In fact, get straight to the point.

Get a draft prepared well ahead of time, touching all the pertinent events of the reception according to the couple's wishes. Submit the drafts to the couple (and the wedding planner/s, if need be) to get their input. If you've listened well and worked in their needs and wants, then you should do just fine.

4. The usual program flow:
  • introduction of parents, principal and then secondary sponsors/wedding entourage
  • introduction of the newlyweds
  • dinner, as well as accompanying toasts and speeches
  • traditional ceremonies, wrapped up by garter and bouquet tosses
  • acknowledgments and thank you's
Modify elements according to how the couple wants their wedding reception done. For example, the bride would probably want a bouquet toss, but something a more out-of-the-ordinary, like tossing out multiple smaller bouquets instead of just one, or incorporating more cultural traditions into the program.

Ask the couple if there would be family members giving speeches or preparing toasts, or even friends who might be singing, dancing or otherwise have something prepared for our newlyweds that evening.

Once you got everything, go right ahead and work those elements right into the script.

5. Get to know a little bit more about the couple's family and friends. One of the more important things- pronouncing names. You'll be introducing members of the wedding entourage, acknowledging the presence of guests who may have flown in from some faraway country, or calling them out for a speech or a toast.

You might know who they are, and your other relatives (or friends) probably also do, but remember that other half of the room might not, so introducing them properly to all guests present would work well for everyone.

If anyone should know how certain names or surnames have to be pronounced, it's the couple. So go ahead and ask questions if you have to. If all else fails, look the person up yourself and ask him/her how to pronounce their name or how they want to be introduced. It's all part of the evening's fun, meeting new people.

6. Make the effort to get the story on the smaller details. Just enough detail to come up with the couple's story.

Maybe you can find out why the bride wanted the motif for the day's affair. Is there a story behind the wedding cake- say, any particular reason why the couple chose this specific design or make? Does the couple have a special song? There's always lots of stories behind songs.

Maybe the couple has a bunch of pictures flashing up on screen- you can use those as well to tell the story of how the couple met, or how he proposed, or some other significant event in their relationship.

Play up the little things that are special to the newlyweds, share their story, and convey that same warm and fuzzy feeling to your guests at the reception. Work those into your script as well.

7. Print out at least three copies of your wedding reception script- one should go to the couple, another to the wedding planner (or program coordinator, or whatever equivalent), and one for you.

As for your copy, you may want to come up with easy-to-use cue cards. You are going to glance at them every now and then, as you go about your hosting duties for the evening, so keep them handy. Also have a pen with you to scribble down notes and maybe some last-minute changes.

8 . Yes, you'll be reading off a script, but you don't have to sound as if you're reading it.

More importantly, you have to sound natural and as real as possible. The guests will be getting their cues from you, so your words have to radiate warmth, confidence and a sense of welcoming, but at the same time, deliver the appropriate level of formality for the affair at hand.

Make eye contact with your guests, inject just a little bit of personality, and be generally pleasant.

9. Even the best-made scripts are just guidelines. There may be some last-minute changes, or some sections you might have to do away with really quickly.

Regardless, you might have to make improvisations and maybe even have to adlib on the fly. Don't forget to get all your cues from the newlyweds- if anything needs to be changed, it has to be on their say, and you must be prepared to do so at a drop of a hat.

Don't worry about it- as long as you stick to the couple's Master Plan (see #2), everything will be just fine.

10. Bear in mind that you're also playing the part of a secondary host, someone who would be welcoming guests and keeping them engaged while the newlyweds are attending to other friends and mandatory photoshoots.

So take ownership of your role in the whole affair. Be cordial, be pleasant, be sensitive to the needs of your guests and of your newlyweds. Almost like hosting a party at home, only with more formal clothing.

There you have it. I hope this helps. I used to do a lot of wedding receptions and hosting gigs- mostly back in my earlier days of radio.

Hosting a wedding reception might be a little taxing, but they are lots of fun. It's a big night, everyone's all dressed up and in a festive mood, made even more memorable by the presence of family and friends- and particularly means so much more to the newlyweds.

Cheers, everyone!


Ten Fun Facts About Singapore

Monday, August 18, 2008

musings on Travel and Leisure by Renzie Baluyut.

I miss Singapore. My girlfriend Cristina and I flew in for a visit early last year, stayed for about a week, and absolutely loved it there. We're definitely looking forward to visiting again sometime soon.

Since our last trip, we've been reading up quite a bit about Singapore- what to do, where to eat, what other places we could have missed the last time we were there.

Here are a few fun facts about Singapore you probably might want to know.

1. Did you know that Singapore is among the 20 smallest countries in the world?

Singapore has a total land area of only 682.7 square kilometres. That's just slightly larger than the entire of Metro Manila (636 sq.km.). The state of California alone has 400,000+ sq.km.

2. The Merlion, a half-fish, half-lion beast, is a fitting symbol of Singapore.

The "Singa" or lion represents the animal that a Sumatran prince saw which resembled a lion, and the fish is a tribute to Singapore's history as "Temasek", the ancient sea town.

3. Singapore consists only of one main island and 63 other tiny islands. Most of these islands are uninhabited.

4. Apart from Monaco, Singapore is the most densely populated country in the world, with 6,430 people per square kilometre.

5. Singapore is a stopover point for thousands of migratory birds travelling the East Asian Flyway.

6. Despite being largely urbanized, Singapore is the largest exporter of ornamental fish (25% of the world market).

7. Buildings in Singapore cannot be higher than 280 metres. There are presently three buildings of that height: OUB Centre, UOB Plaza and Republic Plaza.

8. The first population census taken in 1824 revealed that the total population was 10,683. The 2000 census showed that the population of Singapore is 4.2 million.

9. Nearly 9 out of 10 Singaporeans live in public housing flats.

10. Russell Lee, a pseudonym for a team of ghost-writers, is the hottest-selling local author in Singapore. His 11 volumes of True Singapore Ghost Stories have sold more than 600,000 copies to date.

So there you have it ladies and gentlemen. Ten fun facts about Singapore, for the next time you visit the Merlion City. For more food and travel tips on Singapore, you could check out the Uniquely Singapore website, or Lonely Planet's very own Guide to Singapore.

Cheers, everyone!


Renzie Visits the Silver Saddle Ranch Resort in Cal City.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

from the Travel & Leisure notes of Renzie Baluyut.

One of the places we visited while I was in the United States was this resort about a couple of hours away from Los Angeles called the Silver Saddle Ranch, in California City.

Mom had some property out by California City, so we drove on out (together with Auntie Flor) to go see how it's going. The property was right smack in the middle of the desert, with hardly any developments going on for quite a stretch of road, though I think things might just pick up in a few years.

The Silver Saddle Ranch is like an oasis getaway of sorts. Right upon entering, you already get the impression that the place was designed with families in mind- you could already notice designated areas for camping, sports, miniature golfing and fishing.

A quick tour of the ranch also revealed an Equestrian Center, an Archery Range, an area for skeet shooting, a tepee village, an RV park (if you brought your own), and a Petting Zoo.

Then there's the hotel area if you don't feel like roughing it- with a nice little lounge, a pool area, a spa, some tennis and basketball courts, and pretty much all the other standard amenities.

All in all, I'd say Silver Saddle Ranch would be great for families looking to have some fun over the weekend, or maybe even couples who'd want some quiet time on their own. Definitely worth coming back, I'd say. Maybe then I could actually write about it more, and put up a whole new set of pics.

The Silver Saddle Ranch & Club is located in the high desert near the foot of the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains.

20751 Aristotle Drive, California City, California, 93505
Tel.: (760) 373.8617 / Fax: (760) 373.5212

Visit the Silver Saddle Ranch Resort website for more information.

Cheers, everyone!


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