o say I have been busy these past weeks is an understatement. Aside from the usual daily news quota that I have to reach, there are the forums, press conferences, seminars, and design jobs that I also had to see to. 

There's the cookbook that I'm designing for Lutong Garbo, a yearly cooking contest sponsored by the Provincial Tourism Council of which my boss heads the publicity committee. She asked me to package all the recipes for the last 5 years into a compact cookbook that the council will publish. I'm not done with it yet, actually, like about 20% more work that needs to be done. It is a tedious job because, aside from the layout, I have to figure out which pictures go with which recipe. 

Another design job that I just completed was for the local DILG office's annual report, upon the request of my good friend, Farah, who was in charge of producing the report.  It was kind of a rush job because I only had less than a week to finish the 30-page or so report so Farah can beat the deadline. But all is well that ends well. 

Then there were back-to-back forums, press conferences and the business trips. The most recent trip I went on was just last week to Iloilo City, the capital of Iloilo province which lies on the south coast of Panay Island in central Philippines. 

From where I live, there are two routes I can take to reach Iloilo. I can take the bus to Bacolod City via the hinterland Mabinay town which will require around 5 hours of travel time. Once in Bacolod, I'll need to hop on a ferry to Iloilo City, which is under an hour trip. 

Second route is via Cebu City which is the route we opted for. From Dumaguete, we took the ferry that passes by Bohol Island before reaching Cebu (3 hours tops). Then we flew (via Cebu Pacific) the following day from Cebu to Iloilo City. Touchdown was 40 minutes after we took off from the Cebu airport.

Photo shows our Cebu Audio Visual Tecnician, Manoy Benny, asking me to take his pic beside the 
Cebu Pacific aircraft on our way back to Cebu from Iloilo. 

I'm no stranger to Iloilo. My parents' roots are from there, and I have relatives on both parents' sides living in Cebu. My Dad's sister and her husband, Auntie Elinor and Uncle Junior Barile (both missionaries) live there as well as my Mom's second cousin, "Inday" Linda Jardeleza Patag, the mother of 80's top-notch comedienne and brilliant actress Cynthia Patag (she's my only claim to having a celebrity relative!). 

We stayed at the Iloilo Grand Hotel. The ballroom, where we had our seminar-cum-Christmas Party, was really grand. There were chandeliers with elegant columns and lots of space to prance around. 

But as for the rooms and Wi-fi, it's a different story. I was tweeting how the room numbering was a mess- some of the arrows pointed to the wrong direction, and navigating their hallways looking for your room is like going through a maze. We all got lost each and every time we went back to our rooms.

As for the Wi-fi... what wi-fi? It wasn't free. I thought that by this time, free connectivity was already a basic with hotel amenities. I'm willing to forgive poor hotel service and room conditions if they offered free, fast Wi-fi. I'd even sleep on the floor, dangit, just give me free Wi-fi! 

I'll have to give it to Smart Communications for powering the Cebu airport by offering free Wi-fi access through tablets setup in a panel inside the airport lounge. I mean, if they can do that for travelers who only pass through the airport for a few hours, how much more should it be a necessity in hotels where people stay for days!

To the management of Iloilo Grand Hotel, free Wi-Fi is good marketing strategy. 

Anyway, putting aside the not-free Wi-fi, our stay in Iloilo was pretty cool. We had fun, shared a lot of good laughs with our co-workers from Regions 6 and 8, and won two awards - one for being the "Smartest Region" (although I wasn't able to answer how many reindeers Santa Claus had) and for winning the Action Relay game. 

For us writers from Dumaguete, it was a hectic trip. On our way to Iloilo, we took the ferry going to Cebu, then the following day flew to Iloilo. On the following day again, we took the plane back to Cebu, then a five-hour bus ride to Liloan port where we took the 40-minute ferry to Sibulan town, then a cab to Dumaguete City. 

That's 2 islands in 3 days via ferry, bus and plane. 

The traveler in me found it all tiring but exciting!

More airport pictures from the trip (we didn't have time to go see the sighs around Iloilo):

Their coffee is really dreamily delicious. A little pricey (as food usually is inside the airport) but worth it. The one I had was Mocha Cafe, I think. 

Aren't these guitars cute? I know someone who would enjoy getting one of these, but everything inside the airport costs twice or thrice what you would pay for it outside. 


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