Category Archives: Travels and Wanderlust

PANSOL: Home away from Home

If there is one and most usual way to escape from the metropolitan oven, that‘s SWIMMING.

A dip into various pool resorts quenches your thirst for some summer action and what’s more fun is spending it privately with people dearest to you- family, friends or loved ones. Isn’t it exciting? Isn’t amazing?

To top the list, one of the ‘bestest’ places Manilans tend to go out-of-town for (plus time and budget saving) is going to the nearby Calamba, Laguna, whereby a barangay called Pansol is known for its haven of privately-housed hot spring pools and inland resorts.

IMG_7002In lieu with such, this is also to promote one family friend’s private pool – Jocris Inland Resort. Located just along the main road right beside Max’s restaurant, you’ll come across a block going inside where several villas nestle enclosed by different gates. You may opt however huge the area you want depending on how small or large your group is.

At a value of P8,000, you can already rent a villa overnight good for 20-25 persons except for holidays and peak season, otherwise expect rates to rise up to P12,000 for a whole night stay. Take a peek on the insides of Jocris’s resort.

Here’s the façade and the outside view of the big villa you may grab with the hot spring pool refreshingly welcoming you at once.

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This bigger resort houses three bedrooms (one below, and two above) where king-sized double-deck beds let’s you and your bigger family or barkadas spend those pajama nights and have some spacious pillow fight games to spend the night over. It’s fully air-conditioned as well to keep you cozy and fight the scorching heat of the outdoors.

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Celebrations mean sumptuous feasting, thus this also comes with large spaces for kitchen-lovers as well as table benches perfect for ultimate boodle fiesta or midnight booze.

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Who doesn’t love entertainment, man? To cap the partying off, bonding is absolutely spelled as F-U-N with a microphone on one hand and karaoke in front. Yes, there’s a nonstop hitting-of-high-note performances when you opt to stay in any of Jocris’s villas. Not to mention hitting the eight-ball too, as guys may battle for several matches on its billiard bay.

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For emo’s (emotionals) longing for sweet or serious convos, you may also stay upstairs and enjoy star gazing or feeling the nighttime breeze at the veranda.

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Now, all you need is to pack light and you’re off to go! Pansol vacation is like at home away from home. File out your leaves and have your getaway anytime, all year-round.

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Inside the SANDBOX: Adventure Redefined

Where are you at this hotter season?

  • Staycation (Check)
  • Resort overnights (Check)
  • Island-hopping (Check)

Well, such the typical holiday to note in your yearly journal.

At the expense of the scorching heat of the sun, spending summers through a plunge to white-sand beaches and 9-something-wave inland pools has already been mainstream activities to cool down that Crap-This-Heat-O-Meter. Far from the routinely entrenched getaways the majority takes part into, why not splurge those time-offs and weekends into something EXTRAORDINARY and EXTREME?

You read it right. Today, extremes may not anymore seem to be a luxurious getaway; it can now be right at hand in just a cent and one tumbling away. Put your shades on, pull up your cargos, don your kicks, and off we go to an adventure playground built to re-label outdoor fun.

Along the horizon of mountain ranges and amidst the white plains of Porac, Pampanga, a 1.125 hectare stretch of exciting attractions nestled which is known to be the Sandbox at Alviera. From its confinement last April 12, 2014, it has gradually developed to give families and adventure-junkies a summer paradise of breathtaking actions perfect to help you cross out some unfeasible dreams from your bucket list.

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Here’s the list of packages where you can choose from:

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AVATAR ONE

Tracing what we have tread upon, we have started to venture in the Avatar One, which Sandbox is most renowned for, as advertised and tried by some personalities on television the year that was. As opposed to the usual straight ziplines mushroomed in the country, this 180-m length zip, course you through like a roller coaster letting you get more thrilled while on the ride. Its unique mechanism paved way for it to be the Philippines’ first among its kind.

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ADVENTURE TOWER

If you’re literally finding something that can take your breath away, don’t ever miss going atop this 5-storey tower and conquer your acrophobic disadvantage. Four sides of the tower, aside from the avatar one, also include wall climbing, rappelling and free fall.

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   WALL CLIMBING

Easy as it may seem, but it’s harder when you’re on it. This wall climb is heck deceiving! Indeed, whoever is the lightest and the longest will definitely be hailed as the living Spiderman. All hats Jerome for being one!

Note: Don’t dare instruct others what to do when it’s not your turn yet. You’ll really never know.

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 RAPPELLING

Plan to go on a trek as well? Sandbox offers you to feel like you’ve climb the peak as you may also experience rappelling down the tower.

Note: Watch your grip. Always keep your cool.

FREE FALL

Hello six-feet-under! If you love your life a lot, try this Free Fall and experience like you‘re jumping down from the very verge of a cliff. That feeling of not knowing what to come next after your next step- CREEPY.

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Note: Don’t look down. If in doubt, back out soonest.

AERIAL WALK

This obstacle course of nets, ropeways and hanging bridges will test your agility, balance and coordination which will let you defy gravity and let go of the grounds. Here you must finish every stage by yourself ALONE, even in pushing it to go zipline to another track.

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Note: Don’t hug the obstacles too much. Falling hazard.

GIANT SWING

Old are the days of competing to be the largest eye in town. It’s now the call to defeat this country’s tallest swing. Above all, this exhilarating ride will definitely turn you topsy-turvy in the air.

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Come to see Rhoy screaming his lungs out if you won’t dare a try.

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Note: Buff guys do scream loud too. Let it go, tough man!

MINI GOLF & ATV’s

alviera_sandbox_pampanga19There’s also a themed kiddie playground with picnic areas, mini-golf, camping sites, a courtyard and an open field for field sports and other outdoor activities.

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IMG_6224For those Robin Hood fans as well, you can hit the apple up above someone’s head with the Archery game at an additional fee. Rates vary depending how long you play.

DISCLAIMER: Never wear any orange shirt as you may be mistaken as one of the crews. Take it from me :/

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Whether or not you’re an inveterate adventurer or just trying to get out from your comfort zone, Sandbox will certainly bring you to an ultimate summer experience you never imagined to happen at grasp.

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P.S. If you’re trying to move on or you’re amid Kubler-Ross’ Stages of Depression, this is a perfect getaway for you to forget…just anything. (A note from and to some friends out there.)

’til the next adventure!

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SAMPLE ITINERARY:

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ESTIMATED TIME DESTINATION/ ROUTE FEES (As of March 2015)
0530 Five Star Bus Terminal- Cubao P 139.00
0630 ETD going to Dau Terminal, Pampanga
0745 ETA Dau Grand Terminal
0800 Take Jeepney going to SM Clark Terminal 2 P  8.00
0815 Find Jeep going to Sandbox Alviera at Terminal 2 (waiting time: 30 mins)  P 50.00
0840 ETA Sandbox Alviera P 650.0   PACKAGE A
BACK TO MANILA
0400 ETD Sandbox Alviera (Ask guards to call out tricycle for you) P  75.00  per pax (2 or 3 per tricycle)
0420 ETA Jeep Terminal Porac to SM Clark P  30.00
0450 ETA SM Clark, Find jepp going to Dau at SM Clark Terminal 1 P  8.00
0500 ETA Dau Grand Bus Terminal P 139.00
0730 ETA Cubao Bus Terminal
TOTAL   P 960.00 per person
Meals exclusive. Sandbox Café only serves snack food. Beware of starvation. Fees may vary through time.

Mt. Manalmon: Crossing thin Lines

Living out of the suitcase isn’t only about catching up a red-eye flight or reaching far-flung Paraisos along the crest and troughs of the ocean waves. Somewhere beyond the horizon of our lens lurk unraveled heavens where most often than not, are yet to be appreciated.

Enveloped by childhood fear, I thought of myself as feeble and meek as a lamb for the longest time. Four walls of the classroom were my bonafide allies, with scrabbles and checkers as my moving companions at home. Such were already simple joys from a youthful age and going outdoors were like potions which transform Pops into a monstrous creature that I always never wanted. Detained I was to my most comfortable zone, in a solitary planet where all I did was envisioning of riding on my own magic carpet, knowing ropes alone and hopping into places I always yearned to set foot on.

As time fleeted, I learned to value time’s worth and that it’s ephemeral existence, especially to precious moments, lasts and will never be revived again. This smells no rebellion, but the realization of having the world be traveled while it is worth roused my senses to redeem those lost chances and start rekindling that burning desire to be part of everyone’s world, of nature’s majestic wonders.

The dawn freshly woke me up during this year’s Hearts Day. Far from the usual dating receptions or having a bite in a luxurious hotel patisserie, unusual from witnessing a well-applauded orchestra performance or immersing into the theatrical screen, I pulled my cargo, prepared my waterproof kicks and don my heavy-loaded backpack towards the zenith of my imagination, off the beaten track. Yes, onto the peak where I can regulate my visions and turn them into reality. To see things as they are, to feel liberty with my emotions, and to make myself the king of it.

Indeed, it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive.

As mister sun was trying to peek its way amidst the twilight, we moved at a good clip going to this-not-so-far-away land. Well, that’s already an escape outside the usual ‘cubicled’ scenario we are in during such weekday. At around an hour and a half, that halt from the bus driver’s pedal seemed to signal us that we were already on our destination. Fresh air welcomed us as it seeped through our skins. The surroundings were adorned with lush green trees all over. Basked in glory, it’s our first time to appreciate the heat of the sun. No doubt, this hinterland expedition promised an exhilarating adventure for me.

Nestled at Barangay Kamias, San Miguel, province of Bulacan, Mount Manalmon stands in the midst as part of the historical Biak-na-Bato National park giving locals and travelers alike an outdoor destination embedded with wide natural landscapes perfect for adventure seekers.

This is EXTREME.

Prior to the plan of ascent, I have plotted my own itinerary drawn from the consolidated blog sites and tips of some friends who have already been there. After an hour of rutted and bumpy tricycle ride from the main road, arriving at Sitio Madlum is but a majestic world worth exploring. It’s like a package trip where you have to experience several first-time mementos: trekking a rocky hill, spelunking a cave and crossing a cable wire.

Going back to the basics is the real game here and trust is the most essential element one must keep along.

With Manong Gerry as our tour guide, we have received all the services we need. Setting foot to the place, the sheer blue-green waters of the Madlum River surprised us, seeming to entice on purpose. Manong helped us cross the waters while we rode on a sturdy raft. Having acquaintances akin to this made the journey more remembering, where I have met strangers who turned out to be another helpful inspiration to carry along my real life’s passage.

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Trust those who help you rise from hanging at an edgy cliff.

In almost the same time when the sun shot us with its scorching heat, we have begun the ascent towards the mountain’s peak. Steep terrains periled us to some point, rocky midlands led us to slip over, but with grasping hands from each one, we have survived and reached the zenith of the climb. Beaming atop unraveled Mother Earth’s wondrous aura- She’s robed with elegant features of greenery. Her thick hairs fall perfectly in each stand, a color of hope. Her eyes were glinting like pearls and with breath whispering fresh, thin air of oxygen soothing every piece of me. I was embraced and comforted in serenity. My past wounds have seen remedy.

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Before going to spelunk the caves, we hurdled the so-called monkey bridge where you need to cross to the other side through a thin line of cable. In two’s we crossed harmoniously with each step in synchrony with one’s partner. This is the greatest dare I never imagined passing. I did it. And learn from it. That is, to never tire to give trust again. This was the rope thing had taught me.

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What more did we learn in trusting? It’s when you are immersed feeling alone in a dark, murky caving. This was the last adventure we had: entering an aged, natural cave where we crawled and rappelled and were bruised by the ‘stalagmitic’ and ‘stalactitic’ formations of it. Sores which embossed strength in us. Wounds which left marks on us, reminding us that traveling isn’t just simply traveling. It is but knowing ropes, crossing even thinner lines and being content atop every zenith.  

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As a kid from a TV commercial then once said, “I got stinky; I got dirty, but see I learned.”

It’s true. This journey has changed me. Every journey changes you.

 

(This is my official entry for WeGO Philippines’  Life-Changing Journey Story Contest, Help by LIKING and SHARING! Click Here.)

 Wego Entry

 

 

 

Mt. Pulag: Heaven at Hand

Fluffy as they seem above the glorious sky, I concocted to hover along the cerulean fields and reside at peace with not a bustle in mind.  At the firmament I scribbled my dreams with the desire to clamber up the peaks and feel unshackled from that entire ambivalent stance fleeting day by day. Cryptic. Fulfilling.

Detached from the strings connecting to the metro’s flurries, my gut feel choked me to release that perilous verdict of pursuing that plan to ascend. Exhausted I was from being deprived to wander and break free, to be one with the world. Asphyxiated, two decades of my existence were spent imprisoned in the four nooks of my safest zone, in my own lackluster planet, secluded inside a well-tended chest of lackadaisical life and dormancy. Now, I want an overhaul. To seek and chase what has been lost. To refurbish and bring back vitality to this soul. To lift what my bespren quoted, “I, soon, will wither. I will inevitably age and I fear to regret the things I should have done.”

Indeed, this is now freedom.

Ever dreamed how the gods and goddesses of Olympus live like?

Majestically standing at 2,922 meters (9587 feet) above sea level, master Wikipedia noted that Mount Pulag is considered to be the highest peak in Luzon (and the second or third highest in the Philippines to some) nestled at the borders between the provinces of Benguet, Ifugao, and Nueva Vizcaya.

That reverie of fluttering above the cottony cumulus is now coming at hand. I have always wished to witness the renowned sea of clouds up by the summit. In my wildest dreams, never did I imagine realizing this experience. To note, I have never set foot to any hill all throughout my juvenile years. And now this has to come to life. Going extremes is what I promise to reward myself after those sixteen “geekful” years- to collect and remark first-time mementos which I have been longing for quite some time.

FREEZING DROP POINT

While subconsciously lulled into a deep sleep, the bus pulled off gently which stirred me up and made me peek by the window. The mist kissing through the glass made me realize that we were already there in Baguio City. That was a quick ride. Everyone’s shivering as the cool breeze seeped through our damp, clammy skins forcing us to take out our knitted gloves to fight the cold.

Nearly half past seven when we departed from the city going to the DENR where trekkers must drop off to settle some registration and environmental fees plus a short briefing lecture about the hike.

1052566_610609818963902_31611253_oThe Power Rangers: (L-R) Nomeo, Kebs, Fonz, Apes, Ielle and bespren Jid

Disembarking at the Ranger Station by noontime, cold yet endurable breeze embraced us cooled more by the drizzles dropping from above. There we took lunch and prepared everything prior to the hike up. As for us, it was the time to rest and took some preliminary shots behind the greenery around the posting.

HIKE UP

Before 2 pm strikes, we head on to our quest to the campsite. The trails began undemanding as opposed to how terrible and nerve-wrecking it is as I expected beforehand. The lush greens and grazing lands resembling like staircases under the cliffs generated tranquility during my treads. Of course, you may forget everything behind except for the trail foods, water and Jelly Ace which would bring you salvage in the end. Campsite was reached after two and a half hours of trekking. Rains started to shower down as the tents were built while everyone were already eager to take a nap and rest for the night.

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INTO THE ZENITH

The  ruthless rocks and frosty winds  erode the audacity I savored. We were awakened by the gusty cold winds with drizzling pours at three in the morning to start the pursuit to the peak. With headlamp as our only luminous guide amidst the dark, murky terrain, I could’ve given up and went back, return to my safe and comforting home. Hurdling to the summit is but the real dare. The rustling greens added scare in the middle of the night sky. The winds stormed us away and defied our stance. Enthused to witness the majestic changing hues of the sky at sunrise, we accelerated more than we could to reach there just in time. But unfortunately, rains never ceased and we’ve lost the chance to take a glimpse at the most beautiful sunrise one could ever see.

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1047925_610604852297732_292754198_oAtop the summit, I was content with feeling of fulfillment after achieving a dream I just once envisaged to happen.  Overlooking around, the distant peaks surge like islets in the ocean of lofty clouds creating breathtaking scenery.  Clouds gather like a sea within the horizons, almost within reach, as though my scribbled dreams then were right at grasp. Indeed, it is the closest place to heaven, the playground of the gods just like the natives say- literally. For one moment I was immersed into the Olympus and had revelry with my fellow deities. Those souls who were hurdling to ascend to the peak celebrated  the realization of their long-sought visions. And I was one.

DSC_2752Let every climb be the reflection of our surmounting endeavors and dreams to attain. Let every slip and stumbled steps along the steeps remind us of our unwavering zeal to strive and succeed. Let every cliff be a warning sign for us to halt whenever we get out of way. More than the gaiety and fulfillment felt during our quest, the ascent has liberated me from those solitary chains that bind me from my past. Now, I could proudly free myself to open up with the world and say, I conquered it.

After all, it’s neither how you started the climb at the bottom nor how fast you reached the zenith, it’s all about those steps & trails taken in between and new friends gained and seen.

 

I’ve Fallen into (your) Ice

If there is one thing I hate the most, it is falling.

In this circle of life, you might encounter different scenarios wherein you’re in the verge of a perilous fall, or almost. Might that be on an edge of a cliff, under an ongoing construction site of a skyscraper, biking on that serrated road or even into the arms of someone you get obsessed with. Crazy, but these sometimes bring us into consternation.

On a serious note, I have fears on driving myself into those situations (especially on the latter piece) where actually there is always that inevitable leeway of getting HURT. No band-aids can heal the wounds marked by trippin’ over from such occasions. I personally despise being lacerated by the reality that we are all prone to all kinds of falling debris brought about by this insidious world.  Getting bruised or dumped however often leads us to several realizations which seemed forsaken. Each fall creates not a trench of desolation but deep craters of learning experiences that enliven up our weaknesses towards achieving a valiant heart enough to face this tricky hole called life.

Anyway, since summer isn’t over yet, I’ve found ways to escape this archipelagic oven again. Back to my younger years, I always wished to snow during summer season to battle the despicable warmth it conveys. Add up to that, I also yearned to set inside a rink and glide my way freely as if I’m the happiest in the world.

And so goes Ice Skating. Having been situated near the equator consequently destined to experience summer season as this hot, Philippines has innovated its way to cool down those hot-tempers and brought the ice for real for years already.

Very unlikely to have it at first to a tropical country like the Philippines, it really did come to life when the first 849 sq. meter ice skating rink in the country opened up on September 4, 1992 inside one of the largest malls in Asia then. For years, it has become one of the unusual but well-liked recreational activities of Filipinos, kids and young-at-heart alike, which subsequently turned out to a fun sport everyone loves.

To date, the latest and largest is widely present in SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City with the other one located at SM Southmall in Las Piñas City.

Realizing that dream to skates, I made my way out for a day to enjoy the UNLIMITED Skating SM MOA Ice Skating offers.

First up, secure a P390.00 fee for an admission pass. Prices vary and cost higher during weekends by the way. That’s enough already to submit yourself for one heck of a gliding day. For children who need their adult aides, a companion pass of P100.00 will be charged.  First time to wear those boots? Wanna indulge into the cool breeze but scared of getting hurt? No biggies to that as they also offer an Assist Program at P150.00 where you will be given a 30-minute tutorial on the basics of getting through it. If you happened to bring a lot of stuffs and plan to overspend the day, you might rent a locker for P30.00 and voila, no worries for your precious possessions!

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Upon securing all dues, heads up now for the entrance! Skaters will be given an identification wrist tag which is barcoded to ensure every customer’s entries and exits. This one’s pretty cool, but be sure to follow the instructions on how to keep it effective. There are crews that would reach help once customers overcrowd the gates anyway.

Wrist Tag

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Getting there means fitting your boot size then. Just after the gates you will see boot sizes to fit in for you to gauge what should be the right thing for you. Have these reminders be accomplished subsequently.

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Once preferred comfortable size is confirmed, you must head on next to the booth rental station. Here you have to file up and wait for your turn. Booth designs may be different for you from the others but it doesn’t matter anyway.

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Immediately after receiving your respective boots, find your place on the benches available and don your snow boots. Be careful of its base edges, you might hurt someone next to you.

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Boots

TIP: Tie your boots securely and may round the lace on your lower legs to fasten more. Let the knots be shorter to avoid any slips during the glide.  

Tie the lace

All set

You’re now ready to hit the ice!

After Boots

But before that, consider reading the house rules to keep the game on the safer zone. If you have reserved a locker, it’s then time to let your baggage be stored.

TIP: As much as possible, never accessorize. Falls are foreseeable; body accessories will cause further harm. Leave whatever gadgets as well to avoid possible breakage.

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Locker

Locker Number

All set and there you go! Skating is fun and challenging, but gradually it can be learned. Once on ice, always keep that confidence, no shakes, just relax and expect getting drooped.

 Step 5

Inside the rink

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TIP: For first-timers, you can do the penguin stunt to walk on ice. That’s putting your ankles together and spreading your toes apart and doing small, fine steps inside the rink. When losing balance, bend slightly and hold onto your knees to recover the equilibrium.

I have fallen into the ice. But as it is said, it is on rising each time you fall where you learn to gain strength and scream to the world that you can.

Fall 3At one moment you may lose your stance wherever you keep grounded. For another you may get hurt in a countless ways. The chances of getting fallen might de-motivate you in pursuing your every goal and aspiration, but remember we are not into the safe zone  all the time. Roads intertwine along our way, some may go steep and some may be flawlessly ironed yet we should not always make those falls hinder our long seen visions.

When you will get bumped and stumble, make it an opportunity for you to heighten your confidence and enthusiasm. As Walt E. Disney said, “All our dreams come true if we have the COURAGE to pursue them.” Just like in skating, you will never learn to glide if you will not experience falling into the ice. So let those muscles get relaxed, seize the moment and let every fall be your boosting vitality to rise up and reach your dreams.

Be #KEVinspired in one way or another.

P.S. You can collect some mementos as well through their photo packages:

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Samples

SM MALL OF ASIA

Address: Main Mall, Ground Level, Ocean Drive Side, SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City 1300

Telephone: 556-0469 to 71

Operating Hours: 10:00am to 10:00pm

SM SOUTHMALL

Address: Second Level (beside SM Foodcourt), Sm Southmall, Las Piñas City 1740

Telephone: 800-0426

Operating Hours: 10:00 am to 10:00 pm

OTHER RATES & PACKAGES: 

Service Weekday Weekend/Holidays
Open Skating/Unlimited P300 P390
Locker P30 P30
Assist Program P150/30 minutes P150/30 minutes
Hockey Games P500/game P500/game
Xtreme Gaming“PS3 Gaming with the coolest games in town” P100/hour (single player)P150/hour (two-player) P100/hour (single player)P150/hour (two-player)
Battle Seat Simulator“Drift for Speed” P50/3-6 minutes P50/3-6 minutes
Sled Ride“Experience that Cool Breeze” P100/15-20 minutes P100/15-20 minutes
Hockey Gear Rentals“Play the Game Easier” P400/1 hour (walk-ins)P100/30 minutes (enrolled) P400/1 hour (walk-ins)P100/30 minutes (enrolled)
Massage Corner“Chill on Ice” P20/5 minutes P20/5 minutes

Or visit their website at: http://smiceskating.com/ for more details.