Overnight At Eagle Point, Batangas Part 1

August 2017 saw 3-long weekends in the Philippines, something that we took advantage by heading to a beach in Mabini, Batangas in the middle of an unusually hot and dry August.

We first came to Eagle Point back in 2012 for the kid’s 5th and 4th birthday celebration. We enjoyed the resort and the view so much that we decided to come back.  

Forward to 2017 and we booked an overnight stay at Eagle Point.

The resort is known to cater to divers from around the world.  Newbies and curious alike, can rent some diving gears and get professional diving instructions on-site.  They even have a salt-water pool with baby sharks and other big fishes for first time divers to try.

No, I didn't try wading on that pool.  Seeing the sharks up close did a number on my nerves.

There's a traffic jam in Batangas City, making us arrive late.  It was dark and we had a problem looking for the resorts' signage.  Good thing a resident saw us driving back and forth along the road and pointed us to the right direction.  The screen grab below is what it should look like at day time. 

From the National Road, there’s a small gravel path at the right leading to the resorts’ parking area.  You’ll have to drive about half a kilometer in a narrow road with overgrowth at each side, ala Pinoy horror movie style.

At the parking area, they have a van that shuttles the guests down the resort.  They don’t allow guests to drive down to the lobby.  More likely that they don’t trusts guests to navigate the winding and treacherous path.  It's only a 5-minute ride, so buckle up.

At the lobby, the receptionist was friendly and helpful.  We felt very welcome.  Time for the mandatory family picture.

They escorted us to our twin sharing room with a huge balcony overlooking Balayan bay.

The room has 2 queen sized bed and ample space.  We did some shots and quickly left to have dinner at their restaurant.

The resort has buffet and ala cart servings and a well stocked bar.  Last time we were here, they even have a grill at the pool side area.  Maybe because it was summer then.
After dinner, the kids tried the pool right away--they were very anxious to get into that water—while the adults tried the bar.

There were a bunch of other vacationing families at the hotel.  Most are foreigners of varied nationalities.  As the night wore on, some started belting tunes at the videoke set-up at the side of the restaurant area.  It was relaxing sitting by the pool, watching the kids play in the pool while we talk over some brandy and margarita.
Day 2 on next post.

Travel Date:  August, 2017

LifeHack Lesson 3: Reduce Your Travel Tax

Traveling is always a fun activity.  More so if you’re traveling to a different country with your love ones to meet familiar faces and places.  However, let’s face it apart from hounding the net for cheap flights, there’s almost no way in getting around the dreaded Philippine Travel Tax.

According to the TIEZA (Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority), the travel tax is a levy imposed by the government of the Philippines, under Presidential Decree (PD) 1183, to all departing passengers.  The price depends on the type of ticket you purchase and only OFW (Overseas Filipino Workers) are fully exempted from paying the tax.  So yes, even you’re kids would need to pay up.

Full Travel Tax
PHP 2,700.00
PHP 1,620
Standard Reduced Travel Tax
PHP 1,350.00
PHP 810.00
Privileged Reduced Travel Tax
for a Dependent of an
Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW)
PHP 400.00
PHP 300.00

But it’s not all pain.  The tax does go to worthwhile endeavors.  At least half of it.
TIEZA portions that money, with 50% going to TIEZA, 40% to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for tourism-related education programs and courses.  Lastly, the 10% goes to the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA).

But if you’re a family of 4 going to see Mickey Mouse in Hong Kong, that P1,620 could easily balloon to P6,480—roughly the same price of one passenger ticket to Hong Kong and back.

So, I was very happy to know that I wouldn’t have to pay the full price.  Being an OFW dependent, my gang and I can avail the reduced price of P300.  An 80% decrease from the full price.

All OFW dependent can avail this privilege, even if you’re not travelling with the OFW.  As long as:
1.       Your destination is the same country where your OFW is deployed.
2.       You’re part of the OFW’s immediately family.
a.       Parents
b.      Spouse
c.       Children
3.       You have proof of family relation
a.       Original NSO copy of Marriage Certificate for Spouse
b.      Original NSO copy of Birth Certificate
4.       Proof of OFW deployment
a.       Copy of EOC, issued within a year
5.       Passport and Booking confirmation

To avail of the reduced travel tax, go to the TIEZA desk at the airport and submit all your documents.  Don’t worry about handing out your NSO files.  They will hand it back to you.  The most important part is the OEC of the OFW.  They should be registered and active in the POEA system.

Afterwards, you’ll be asked to pay P300 for each passenger.  A receipt and OFW dependent certificate would be given to you.  This you’ll present to the check in counter as proof of travel tax payment.

So next time you travel, don’t forget about this neat trick.  Go ahead and visit your OFW.

Philippine Holidays 2018

Plan those long weekends as early as now, as Malacañan already signed Proclamation No. 269 which declares 18 red days for Philippine calendar 2018.

For 2018, Philippines would have 4 extra long weekends; not including the traditional vacay days for Lent, Holloween, Christmas and New Year festivities.

Not only that.  There are even 3 holidays that would fall on a Tuesday.  And we all know what that means... ipit day is an extra vacation leave day!

So make sure you have enough leave credits, and add this calendar to your next team meeting, cause it always pays to plan ahead!

How To: Pay PLDT Bill via BPI Expressonline

Having access to BPI Expressonline is such a big convenience, as they have a wide range of online banking service to makes bills payment a little easier.

Here's a step by step guide on how to enroll and pay your PLDT bills using BPI Expressonline.

Enrolling your PLDT bill

1.       Log-in to your www.bpiexpressonline.com account.  If you don’t have one yet, here’s a quick link on how to create one.
2.       From the top menu, go to Payments & Reloading > Bills Payment > Enroll All Other Bills.
3.       Fill in the details needed.
a.       ATM Card number – choose from the drop down menu
b.      Joint Account Indicator (JAI) No. – this is the 2-digit number located at the lower right hand corner of your ATM card
c.       Bill Information – choose PHIL LONG DISTANCE TEL CO (PLDT)
d.      Account number – this is the n10-digit your account number that you can get either from your printed bill or from my.pldthome account.  Notice that there are only 9-digits there, so you’d need to add a 0 as the 1st number.
e.      Enter your security details, such as registered e-mail address or your Mother’s maiden name.
f.        Hit Submit.
4.       You’ll receive a confirmation of your enrollment and can now proceed with payment.

5.       Alternately, you can also enroll your bill from the payment page by clicking the Enroll Bills link.  A pop up will open, where you'll be asked what type of bill you'll be enrolling.  Choose Utility, Insurance and Other Bills.

Paying your PLDT Bill
1.       To pay, go to Payments & Reloading > Bills Payment > Pay Bills Today
2.       Fill in the details
a.       Pay – list of merchants enrolled to your account
b.      The amount of – payment amount
c.       From my account – list of accounts where payment would be debited
d.      Additional Reference Number – for PLDT, leave this blank
e.      Remarks – type any information that you wish to put here as reminder, or leave it blank
f.        Hit Submit.
3.       You’ll receive a confirmation of your successful transaction in the page and also to your registered e-mail.

Airbnb Lesson 4: Airbnb Payout Method

Airbnb Payout Method should not be confused with Airbnb Payment Method--where only Paypal, Credit cards or Debit cards with the Visa or Mastercard logo are accepted.

Airbnb Payout Method are ways for the host to receive their payments from guest via the Airbnb system.

Airbnb Payment Method, on the other hand, are ways for the guest to pay for their booking and reservations.

Back in 2010, when Ebay reigns supreme in online selling, sellers need Paypal to accept credit card payments from buyers.  It's an extra layer of convenience that comes with a hefty price.

Thank God for Airbnb Direct Deposit Payments!

They still cater to Paypal accounts, but you DON'T need them to receive your payment.  If you have an existing bank account--savings or current; ATM or passbook--just input the details and you're done.

1.      Name

It must be exactly the same with your bank account name.  If you have middle initial on your bank account name, then add that.

2.       Account Number

Not the card number of your ATM card, but the account number you use to deposit money to your account.

3.       SWIFT Code

This is the international standard code that each bank is assigned with.  It allows wire transfer of funds from one bank to another.  Go here for the complete list of SWIFT code for Philippine banks.

From different forums and based on experience, the best bank to use for Airbnb Payout Method is thru BPI.  Yes, with all its glitches, BPI is still your best companion.

·         How long does it take for BPI to credit my payment?

First, you’ll receive an email notice from Airbnb that they’ve process the transfer of payment.  Airbnb does this 1 day after your guest’ check in date.
Expect your payment to be credited to your BPI account on the next day, if the transfer was done on a weekday.  If weekends or holidays, it would take about 2 banking days, or after their 10 PM cut-off of the 1st banking day.
Example, Airbnb transfers the payment on a Saturday and Monday is not a holiday.  You’ll see your payment on your BPI account after 10 PM, Monday.

·         Are there additional charges involved?

Nope. Nada. None. Zero. Zilch.
BPI doesn’t take a cut from your payment.  If Airbnb says they would transfer, P2001, then you’ll be credited with P2001 on your account.

·         What if my guest has a foreign issued credit card?

Airbnb would quote your guest under their own currency.  Your guests credit card, would ask them if they wish to pay using their currency or your receiving currency which is Peso.  All the Forex activity is done within the guest’s card or thru Airbnb.  You’ll still get the peso equivalent to the booking notice you’ve received from Airbnb.

Do you know other payment methods that's hassle free and really free? Share it with us by commenting on this blog.

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Airbnb Lesson 3: Basic Host Amenities

Airbnb has a nice platform where you can easily choose what your unit is offering.  It is so personalized that you, as a host, is not mandated to provide ultra-luxury amenities.  The principle is to show honestly what you offer and to price your unit based on those offerings.  It would be the guests' choice whether the amenities offered at the given price point suits they're budget.

But what are the most basic amenities that you'd need to offer, aside from a roof and a place to sleep on?

·         Essentials – Airbnb list essential items as towels, bed sheets, soap and toilet paper.  So, if you’re ticking this, your unit must have them readily in the unit.  Bed sheets should be clean! Not relatively clean, as in I’m not seeing any dirt on this, but clean as in freshly laundered, but not necessarily pressed.
There are places that rent their space in Airbnb without the bed sheet.  Guests are expected to bring their own or rent from the host for an additional fee.  But please, if you’re forgoing the bed sheet then the bed photo must be shown without them; or at the very least, put the NO BED SHEET INCLUDED information on your house rules. 

·         Shampoo – see that this is separate from the essentials featured above.  Shampoo here denotes Soap and Shampoo for bathing.  Soap above is hand soap for when you’ve done your business at the latrine.

·         Bottled Water – I’m putting is as an essential, because a weary traveler deserves potable water.

Only these three? Yes!

The next set is entirely up to you, your location, and your target market.

·         TV – who needs TV when your place is in a beach front?
·         Closet/Drawers – open closet or a simple is rack is what’s in now
·         Air conditioning – this one I must say is a must if you’re in a tropical climate like the Philippines
·         Water heater – if your place is in Tagaytay or Baguio, then yes!

Add this for boon and make your place compete with local hotel offerings.

·         WiFi
·         Cable TV
·         Netflix
·         Breakfast with Coffee or Juice
·         Refrigerator
·         A mini-kitchen
·         Desk or Work space
·         Sofa or Couch
·         Outdoor dining area
·         Welcome basket with wine
The key is to be honest and open about what you have to offer.  As you go, you'll notice what guests you'll likely get and what it is they value more with their stay.