Archive for February, 2009

Philippine Travel: Review Of Montemar Beach Resort in Bataan

Posted in All About The Philippines, Duke420 Articles, Philippine Environment, Philippine Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 16, 2009 by JJ Duque

After New Year’s Day, the second of January 2009, I took a trip to Montemar Beach Resort in Bagac, Bataan to attend the wedding of my good friend Joey Zamora and his wife Geri.

I drove up to Bataan from my home in Paranaque, leaving home just a bit after breakfast at around 8am. The drive through EDSA in Manila was pleasant enough, and thanked the holiday season for not making it the congested traffic hell that Metro Manila is known for.

The drive along the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) all the way to the end at Tarlac was also easy, and of course I really enjoyed the long straight drive along the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX), which leads directly to Bataan via the Dinalupihan Exit.

After the exiting the SCTEX, it’s roughly another hour to an hour-and-a-half of winding roads that eventually lead to Montemar Beach Resort. What’s interesting is that the roads to Montemar follow the path of the historic Bataan Death March and also provides a great view of Mt. Samat. But anyway, that’s how to get there. It’s a long drive, but as long as you follow the explicit directions to get to Montemar Beach Resort, you really can’t get lost. Well, not really.

Anyway, Montemar Beach Resort has been around a long time, and it has gone through some renovations to keep it rated AAA by the Department of Tourism. The beach itself is awesome, covered with mocha-colored powder and receiving a cool breeze from the South China Sea. Very little rocks and corals around the beach, which makes it perfect for wading and comfortably lounging around. The ocean’s pulse also sends shallow waves, which offers a good opportunity for skim boarding, but not strong enough to suck a wader out with an undertow.

Montemar Beach Resort also has a very cool lagoon pool, and an awesome “backyard” that is abundant with green shade and a well-maintained garden landscape. In fact, I really admire the manner with which the Montemar staff constantly busy themselves sweeping off dry leaves to uphold the pristine cleanliness of the resort.

The rooms of Montemar Beach Resort are very spacious. I was given a basic room with a double bed and a balcony overlooking the resort backyard with the sound of the ocean surf  just hypnotizing a few meters away. Montemar Beach Resort even has huge inns that are capable of hosting families.

All in all, the Montemar Beach Resort experience is very relaxing. The only complaint I had was the breakfast bufet. I don’t know if it’s because of the meal pass that came with the wedding guest deal, but when I went down for breakfast at the main cafe and restaurant, there was a delectable spread of awesome breakfast dishes – beef tapa, pork tocino, salted fish, salted egg, scrambled eggs and longganiza among others. I was about to choose around 2 viands, but was told that I could only pick one among the many offered. That was a bit disappointing. I just wish they could give the entire option for the breakfast buffet instead of relegating the guest to just one viand. But then, maybe that’s the deal for the wedding guests and might not apply to the “regular” customers, but still… It’s the only setback I faced despite a near-perfect on everything else about Montemar.

Sunrise At Montemar Beach Resort

Sunrise At Montemar Beach Resort

What I found interesting also about Montemar Beach Resort is that their beach is actually a nesting ground for sea turtles, or what the Filipinos locally refer to as Pawikan. Sea turtles come to the shores of Montemar to nest their eggs. Once they hatch out, the sea turtles go back to sea, roam around the oceans to wherever, and return again to the beach once a year to nest once again.

The sea turtles nest every November, which prompted Montemar Beach Resort to come up with the Grand Pawikan Fest, which is held annually every November. Apart from witnessing the spectacle of the sea turtles in their nesting grounds, audiences are also informed on activities and ecological concerns of the sea turtle. As part of Montemar’s Eco-Tourism and Eco-Conservation efforts, a team tags the turtles and also raises funds through those who would wish to adopt sea turtles. Not that they get to take them home, but just that they get to name one and have a tagged turtle that bears their patronage.

In any case, the Eco-Tourism aspect of Montemar Beach Resort is something that I laud. It’s different and unique, and really offers something more than just what comes with just being a beach resort. Plus the fact, that Montemar Beach Resort really takes a step further in the conservation of the sea turtles is an admirable cause.

Anyway, for more information on Montemar Beach Resort, you can visit their site.

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Philippine Sports: Neil Arce Wins Asian Poker Tour Manila Main Event

Posted in All About The Philippines, Duke420 Articles, Philippine Events, Philippine News, Philippines Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 2, 2009 by JJ Duque
2009 APT Manila Main Event Champion Neil Arce

2009 APT Manila Main Event Champion Neil Arce

260 plus players made the $2500 buy-in for the main event of the Asian Poker Tour recently held at the Dusit Thani hotel in Manila. Three exciting days of No Limit Texas Hold’em tournament play saw some of the best poker professionals from all over Asia visit the Philippines and take their shot at a pot that was supposed to be a guaranteed $1 Million.

However, the lack of participants forced APT CEO and Chairperson Chris Parker to withdraw his guarantee for the $1 Million, but still the prize pool for the APT Main Event still was a whopping $600,000 plus. That’s still a lot of cash to play for.

And eventually, when it was all said and done, it was the Philippines very own Neil Arce who emerged as the APT Main Event champion, winning for himself a whopping $200,000, a pimp ass trophy to show off, and indeed a reinforced reputation as one of the best poker players in the country.

The poker success of Neil Arce was first noted when he became the first Filipino (with a Philippine address) to go deepest in the WSOP Main Event back in 2007 where Neil Arce placed 222nd in a field of 6,300+ players, also earning himself $51,000+.

Neil Arce also won the 2008 Filipino Poker Tour (FPT), and eventually caught the eye of the top brass of Pokerstars.net, and took Neil Arce into the family of Pokerstars.net.

A week prior to the APT Main Event,  Chris Parker confessed that Neil Arce had confidently told him that he was going to win the tournament, and he certainly kept true to that promise.

I had followed the progress of the APT Main Event since the doors to the APT opened on Tuesday January 27. I visited the Dusit Thani regularly, grinding out the cash games. But then, this post isn’t about my meager accomplishments as a poker player, this is about Neil “Dirty Ice Cream” Arce!

On the first day of the tournament, Neil Arce had a monster chip stack to lead all poker players on Day 1a. On Day 2, I caught Neil Arce struggling a bit, dropping from the chip leader to going around average. There were 18 poeple left the last time I checked his progress in the 2009 APT Main Event.

Going back for final table action, I wasn’t surprised to find Neil Arce there. But when I arrived at the Dusit Thani, there were only 3 players left, and I was already ecstatic for Neil Arce at being guaranteed $70,000 for his assured 3rd place finish.

Neil Arce assured himself of at least second place when he busted out Casey Kastle with a showdown of A-6 vs A-K. The A-6 of Neil Arce looked dominated by the Big Slick of Casey Kastle, but a 6 on the flop kept Neil Arce ahead, and eventually lead to the elimination of Casey Kastle, and forcing heads-up action against APT Macau runner-up Steve Yeah of Korea.

The heads-up showdown between Neil Arce and Steve Yeah lasted 25 minues with Neil Arce bullying Steve Yeah in several hands before the final showdown of K-Q suited of Neil Arce against the A-K Big Slick of Steve Yeah.

Neil Arce was indeed worried that Steve Yeah had the advantage with a better hand. In fact, the flop looked even more worrisome for Neil Arce as his hand failed to improve. However, a Queen showed her panties on the turn and Neil Arce erupted in celebration along with the legions of Filipino fans cheering their kababayan. The Queen held up to knock out Steve Yeah, and Neil Arce was then crowned 2009 APT Manila Main Event champion.

A fine performance for Steve Yeah who gets another 2nd place finish in the Asian Poker Tour main events, the first in Macau and now in the Philippines. And while Steve Yeah didn’t win, his two runner-up finishes certainly shows him as one of the best poker players in the Asian Poker Tour.

Of course, there to cheer Neil Arce on were his lovely girlfriend Maike Evers and his good friends Nick Galan and Miguel Cuneta of the Metro Card Club, (which is also where Neil Arce plays most of his poker).

Neil, galing bro! Let me know when the party is.

Philippine Music: Journey Performs In Super Bowl XLIII

Posted in All About The Philippines, Philippine Music, Philippine News with tags , , , , on February 2, 2009 by JJ Duque
Arnel Pineda of Journey Performs in Super Bowl XLII

Arnel Pineda of Journey Performs in Super Bowl XLII

Well, Journey wasn’t the main attraction of the halftime show. That honor would go to Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band. However, Journey did perform for the pre-game concerts with the Philippines’ very own Arnel Pineda as the lead vocals for Journey.

Most Filipinos could care less about American Football, and could even care less about Super Bowl XLIII, but then for those who know a little bit about the NFL, the Super Bowl is the grand daddy of all American sports, and is probably the most watched sporting event in the United States, and is a sports event that is given so much hype and promotions.

And with Journey being included in its program, then it’s definitely a big step up for Journey to get some acclaim. Not that they need it. I mean – Journey has been known in the music industry for the longest time ever since Steve Perry was their former vocalist. But, of course, for newcomer Arnel Pineda it must be a big milestone for his career to perform in this kind of event.

Anyway, the Philippines still awaits news on when Arnel Pineda will convince his band mates in Journey to consider a trip to the Philippines for a concert. Come soon, Arnel. We’re waiting!

Note: The picture was “borrowed” from the FLICKR account of California Redwoods. It is not the performance of Arnel Pineda in Super Bowl XLIII.