5 Must-Have Mobile Apps for Travelers

5 Apps Every Traveler should have in their mobile. Plus giving away free app download worth US$4.99!

Here you are ready to go on a long travel, maps all rolled up, your travel books piled up in your backpack but wait, these are no longer considered efficient in 2016 although they might be useful in situations where you do not have electricity readily available but this rarely happen.

So unless you are travelling without any mobile gadgets, you should arm yourself with whatever technology can offer for convenience and easy travel.

As a regular weekend wanderer, I never leave my home without these apps.

1. Evernote

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As a constant web surfer who easily gets distracted and barely remembers thing, this app is a lifesaver. If you are like me who sometimes have goldfish memory, you should have this. Not only is this useful for keeping thoughts, photos, business cards and reminders, Evernote can easily save webpages with one mouse click.

Before I travel to a place, I usually Google it and find relevant articles. Here’s one of my notebook about Southeast Asia. Once I find it, I save them to a notebook in my Evernote and make them available offline that way, you can easily recall tips and prices even without internet.

Another added feature is that you can do work chat and share notebooks with people, planning trips with friends has never been this easy. You can download it here.

2. Maps.me

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While I know most people use Google maps, I found this application more updated. It saved me during several trips in lesser known areas like in Siquijor. You can download maps for different countries and you can bookmark locations for reference. They constantly update maps so make sure to update otherwise you will not be able to use it.

Download here.

3. Monefy

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If you do not care much about sticking to budgets then you wouldn’t need this but for people like me who are money conscious, this does the job. It is simple to update and you can set it on a budget so you know how much money you can still spend. I find it so useful that I paid for the pro version!

Download here for the free app.

4. Rome2Rio

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I find it troublesome to check routes and then go to company websites to check rates for fare and accomodation when creating a budget. Thanks to Rome2Rio, I save time. Think google maps but with expense estimations for transportation. I find this useful when I do not know how to reach a destination and how much I should spend on transportation.

Download here for an IOS version.

5. GPSmyCity

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If you are into offbeat travels like me then GPSmyCity is the app for you. They over 5,000 self-guided walks in 470+ cities around the world. Awesome right? Each one of their apps contains from a few to over a dozen of self-guided walking tours for a single city, allowing visitors to explore on foot the best of the city at their own pace without the touristy cost.

Itching to download this? I have good news! GPSmyCity is offering 20 promo codes of one of their full-version city walk apps to happinas readers. Each such code allows a free download of the app, which normally costs US$4.99 at the App Store.

Here is what you have to do:

  1. Leave a comment in this article on why travel makes you happy.
  2. Submit a photo of your favorite city attraction or delicacy in the Philippines  pau.bernasor@gmail.com.

First 20 submissions will receive the download codes.

Monday Musings: Taking Out Trash

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How often do you throw away? Most of us tend to keep a lot of unnecessary stuff whether in our places or in our minds. Unknowingly, we end up taking in so much that it leaves us with little space to work with.

I recently read an excerpt about Getting Things Done by Dave Allen where he described stuff as “Anything you have allowed into your psychological or physical world that doesn’t belong where it is, but for which you haven’t yet determined the desired outcome and the next action step.”  I have never thought about how much stuff I kept until I checked my email and sorted out my room. It is so easy to not realize the gravity of our hoarding and these stuffs slows us down and makes us inefficient.

Now is the time to clear your mind and place. Start by sorting and throwing out the unnecessary.

Survival Guide: 10 Tips for An Epic Sinulog Experience

Are you ready for the 2016 Sinulog Festival? Here are my tips to prepare you for the grandest celebration in Cebu.

Cebu is one of the most known city in the Philippines. Although it is generally laid back, the city transforms from quiet to crazy every third weekend of January. The Queen City of the South becomes remarkably vibrant celebrating the arrival Child Jesus locally called as Señor Santo Niño in the shores of Cebu. It is a commemoration of start of Christianity in the country. Despite the religious nature of the celebration, it includes various higlights such as Miss Cebu, Festival Queen Competition, Sinulog Idol, Photo and Film Competition, Fluvial and Solemn Procession, Grand Parade and Street Dancing and Grand Finale Fireworks display, you are sure to find something to suit your taste.

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Photo by Roland Pascua

Sinulog Festival is the grandest festival in the Philippines bringing in about 1 million visitors. As the weekend draws near, here are some tips to prepare you for the mother of all celebrations.

1. Plan your events well.

Here is a map of the Solemn Procession 

If you are more on religious events and plan on going to the Basilica to see the image of the Child Jesus, make sure to be there as early as 5 a.m. because the queue is really long.

Activities from Friday to Sunday:

January 15, 2016 (Friday) Visual Merchandising Contest (Dept. Stores and Malls)
4:00 A.M. – Walk with Mary (Area) Fuente Osmeña – Sto. Niño
9:00 A.M. – Solidarity Meeting (All Competing Contingent/Floats/ Higante/ Puppeteers) @ Cebu City Sports Center Gym
6:00 P.M. – Sinulog 2016 Dance Crew Finals @ Cebu City Sports Center
6:00 P.M. – 12:00 A.M. -Coke Party @ Fuente Osmeña Circle
7:30 P.M. – Sinulog Festival Queen 2016 Coronation Night @ Cebu City Sports Center
8:00 P.M. – Cebu Popular Music Festival @ Cebu Coliseum

January 16, 2016 (Saturday)
6:00 A.M. – Fluvial Procession of the Miraculous Image of the Sto. Niño
8:30 P.M. – 10:00 P.M. – Yamaha Party @ Fuente Osmeña Circle
9:00 A.M. -Re-enactment of the Baptism of Queen Juana and Rajah Humabon Basilica del Santo Niño
9:00 A.M. -Sinulog 2016 “Balik Baroto Regatta”
12:00 P.M. -11TH “The Street Vibration & Big Bike Rally 2016” by V-max Owner’s Group, Inc Cebu Chapter
2:00 P.M. -Solemn Procession of the Miraculous Image of Sto. Niño
7:00 P.M. -Sinulog Fireworks Competition @ SM City Cebu
10:00 P.M. – 12:00 MN -San Miguel Party @ Fuente Osmeña Circle

January 17, 2016 (Sunday) Sinulog Grand Parade
4:00 A.M. -Mañanita Mass @ Basilica del Sto. Niño
6:00 A.M. -Pontifical Mass
8:00 A.M. -Holy Mass @ Cebu City Sports Center
9:00 A.M. -Sinulog Grand Parade Carousel Kick Off
7:00 P.M. -Grand Finale and Grand Fireworks @ Cebu City Sports Center
7:30 P.M. -Party Bands, Fuente Osmeña
9:00 P.M. -Pyrospectacular Show (Pyromusical Show @ SM City Cebu)
9:00 P.M. – 2:00 A.M. – Sinulog DJ Mixing Grand Finals Night @ Fuente Osmeña Circle
12:00 MN -Sinulog Fireworks @SRP

Map for Sinulog 2016 Festival Grand Parade Route Map

If you are more for dancing and parties, here are just some of the parties happening over the weekend.535081_10206495239958529_7494243345047192356_n

2. Bring Cash.

12571415_10153784062098329_171818833_n Avoid long queues to the ATM or worse running out of money when you need drink. Make sure you have enough cash on hand. It would be wise to keep them in different places, some could be hidden inside your bra (my mother’s advice). If you want to make the most out of your dollars, I recommend you head to Alco Credit and Foreign Exchange, Inc. they offer the best rates within the city, you can find them at Raintree Mall.

3. Prepare you Sinulog Looks

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You can buy cheap Sinulog shirts that you can cut and redesign. Opt for cotton and avoid wearing clothes with thick material. I discourage you from wearing jean pants, it can get heavy once it gets wet. You have endless options for accessories from feather to wooden beads. It is a great time to get your henna tattoo, you can easily find an artist along the street.The weather can get really hot and humid so do not be afraid to bare more skin. Unless you plan to go to the Basilica then you have to be covered. Do not wear expensive jewelries too unless you want to make friends with robbers. Also make sure that the bag you bring is always close to your body and waterproof.

4. Practice the Sinulog dance steps.

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Photo by Victor Kintanar

It would not be an authentic Sinulog celebration if you do not learn the steps. It is not that complicated, it is close to the basic one two step. All you have to do is move one foot forward and take two steps backward.

5. Think of Sinulog as a Marathon.

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I am not saying you have to wear your running shoes but it would be a good idea to wear your most comfortable footwear since the main streets in Cebu are closed specially on Sunday since parade starts as early as 6:00 a.m. People are forced to be more fit and you will not notice that you have been walking for hours because of the loud music, smiling dancers and happy people you meet in the road.

6. Embrace Extraversion.

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Photo by Erick John Cuevas

If you have problems with personal space, then you should forget about it for this weekend. Cebuanos are extra friendly during the festivities. You will get hugs, greetings and drinks from random strangers on the road. You will be a dot in a sea of humans. The massive crowd walking with you will test you on this too.

7. Bring Your Squad.

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Any celebration would not be fun if you do it alone. Bring your awesome friends except for the one who always complains (no one wants a kill joy). Even if you are a solo traveler, do not hesitate to talk to people. If you are a member of Couchsurfing like me, search for Sinulog events in the website.

8. Must Haves for Sunday’s Grand Parade

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Celebrating Sinulog is like hitting the beach for summer. You must bring the following essentials: Water or any form of potable liquid for Hydration, Sunscreen, Favorite Pair of Sunnies,  Fan to Keep Cool , Small Snacks for Energy, Camera for Endless Selifes/Groufies, Powerbank

9. Eat. Party. Sleep. Repeat

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When I celebrated Sinulog 2014, I hanged out with a bunch of crazy guys so I ended up partying from Tuesday until Sunday. Make sure you get rest and nourishment in between. While you want to maximize your partying or events, make sure you will be okay on Monday and not in a hospital. There was a year when I missed out on the partying because I did not have enough sleep, my body gave in on Sunday. Also, remember to drink in moderation. It is easy to get carried away but you have to be responsible enough or at least be with a responsible friend. The past Sinulog parties have caused a major uproar from the conservative people as photos of teenagers sleeping unconscious along the streets went viral in social media sites. You do not want to leave traces of your partying in someone else’s Facebook account.

10. Be Ready For Everything and Anything.

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Photo by Restie Derigay

Make sure to agree on a meeting place with your friends. During the festival, the mobile networks normally suffer lags and some messages arrive hours later. While the weather reports say the weather will be fair, make sure that you are ready to embrace the rain as well as random showers of water, beer, alcohol and even paint. These tips should give you an idea on what to expect but nothing can be completely planned in life. Do not let this unpredictability stop you, this will make your Sinulog experience more memorable. 

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With all that said and done, I wish you the best for Sinulog 2016! May the force be with you as you brave the streets of Cebu! Prititit!!! Pit Señor!

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Photo by: Reginald James Lorico

Monday Musings: 10 Quotes of Optimism

Pessimistic? Here’s your Monday dose of sunshine from the bright side.

Barely two weeks into 2016, how is January going for you? I would not say mine is smooth sailing but so far things have generally been going my way although there have been bumps along the way.

There are times when you feel tired of your inner battles, whether or not you should embrace pessimism all at once. Regardless of your current situation, choose optimism.

Here are some of my all time favorite quotes to get me back in the bright side:

  1. “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
    ― Anne Frank, Anne Frank’s Tales from the Secret Annex
  2. “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
    ― Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan
  3. “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
    ― Winston S. Churchill
  4. “Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.”
    ― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
  5. “There is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.”
    ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers
  6. “You’ll never find a rainbow if you’re looking down”
    ― Charles Chaplin
  7. “Be of good cheer. Do not think of today’s failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.”
    ― Helen Keller
  8. “So live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!”
    — Viktor E. Frankl (Man’s Search for Meaning)
  9. “Write it on your heart
    that every day is the best day in the year.
    He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
    who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.

Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with your old nonsense.

This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Collected Poems and Translations

The Optimist : Animated Short Film from John Mervin on Vimeo.

10. Promise Yourself

To be so strong that nothing
can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity
to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel
that there is something in them
To look at the sunny side of everything
and make your optimism come true.

To think only the best, to work only for the best,
and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others
as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past
and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times
and give every living creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself
that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear,
and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world,
not in loud words but great deeds.
To live in faith that the whole world is on your side
so long as you are true to the best that is in you.
― Christian D. Larson, Your Forces and How to Use Them

The last one pretty much sums everything up. Hang on to the remaining light no matter what happens. As long as you think things can change it definitely will.

Now enough about me, how about you? What is your favorite quote on optimism?

Monday Musings: Choose Life

Surviving or thriving? Choose life.

Excitement from the new year is still around but how long will it last before you find yourself in the same situation as 2015?

How often do you envy other people for living their dreams?

You and them might have different situations but one thing you and them both have is choice.

Each day you make a choice, from the time you wake up to the jobs you take. Do not blame others for your situations. You are in full control. It is time to take the responsibility. Quit surviving and start thriving. Let your adventures begin. Choose life!

Choose Life from Rando on Vimeo.

2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,700 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 45 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Move 2016

Make 2016 your year to move.

How many has it been since you told yourself this year is going to be different? How many times have you failed at it?

I admit that as the years add up, we start to doubt and lose hope on ourselves, whether or not we will be able to achieve our dreams. I also failed more than once but I call it a failure because I never did anything. Yes, I told myself but I barely pushed myself. So instead of putting you long posts in Facebook on how you will be a better version of you. I dare you to move! When you move, that is when things start to happen.

MOVE from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.

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I have not moved much in the last weeks of 2015 and I apologise for that, I too have to still fight over my procastination demons.

Thank you for being part of my 2015. To the ones who take time to read my posts, supporting my futile endeavors into becoming a better storyteller. I am grateful for boosting my morale.

Happy New Year to All! Wish you a great year ahead.