DFA in Robinson’s Pampanga

I got my first passport in DFA-Aseana (Macapagal) and it took me 2 hours to finish from verification to processing to payment to encoding. The reason why I chose DFA-Pampanga as my place of renewal was because of logistics advantage.

The Good:

DFA Pampanga is just an hour drive from our house. DFA is located at the second floor of the Robinson’s Starmills so you don’t have to worry about getting hungry or buying food. I am not sure if Aseana has food stalls that are within reach because the closest that I can remember is crossing the highway to get to Mc Donald’s.

Robinson’s is not as crowded as SM Pampanga. If you will bring a car, you need to park near the Candaba entrance because that’s the nearest parking lot to DFA. Photocopying service is available at the site; just make sure that you bring your original documents.

Passports with 20-days lead time to process cost PhP950 while a 10-days lead time (express) is at PhP1,200. LBC service is available inside at PhP150 for delivery fee.

Pregnant, senior citizens, minors and persons with disability are allowed for walk-in application while those who are not must apply for an appointment online. Pregnant, seniors, minors and persons with disability are allowed to go through the fast lane. Take note that for minors, it seems that the rule does not apply to all ages (0-7 yrs old) because only those aged 3 and below are accommodated through the fast lane.

The DFA staff are generally polite and approachable. They also practice a continuous operation (no noon break) from 9AM to 5:00 PM.

For Improvement:

Passport application process starts with the verification at the information area. You won’t notice this area when there are applicants blocking the one in charge. Consider moving the information area near the photocopying area because the 2nd step (Processing) area is closer to it.

Step 2 at the processing area is fast and as well as step 3 which is payment. Step 4 or the last part of the application is where the bottleneck is because only 3 out of 8 stations are staffed. I am not sure if this is the normal practice because if it is, they need to consider manning up all the 8 stations so that the long queue of applicants for biometrics and data encoding will be lessened significantly.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

If you live in Pampanga, Bataan and Bulacan, DFA-Pampanga is the best place to renew or apply for a new passport. There is a nearby-transport terminal, there are restaurants inside the mall, the area is mall-ish so you just think of shopping or dining after the long queue at the encoding area.

Will I renew my passport in DFA-Pampanga in 2028? Well, the answer is definitely YES!

Resort Review: Malamig Park Resort

Well, as the name implies, this resort is simply cool! If you feel that its rival resorts in Pandi, Bulacan like Sitio Antonio and Amana Water Park are just too crowded, you must try Malamig Park Resort in Malamig, Bustos, Bulacan. It is just a 15-20 minutes drive from Amana and it is said to be one of the pioneer resorts in the area.

The Good:

Pushcarts are available at the ticket area so you won’t worry about carrying your things around. Entrance fee for adult is only PhP 180 and PhP 150 for the children. The path going to the cottages has some slope so the idea of providing pushcart is good unless getting tired carrying your things is your type. Corkage fee applies to liquor and soda so don’t attempt to sneak one in. Don’t worry, prices of goods inside are lower as compared to the other resorts.

There are many cottages to choose from so if you’re in a budget, you can try the lowest cottage at PhP 300. It can accommodate up to 8 people. Sinks are available nearby and as well as barbecue grill for free! There are garbage bins per cottage.

There are several restrooms and shower rooms available; it’s up to you to choose which part of the resort you want to take your shower.

The pools are big and plenty to choose from. I believe that this is a child-friendly resort because most of the pools cater to the children. I’ve only seen one pool with up to 7-feet deep. The swimming pools do not smell of strong chlorine and the water is freely flowing. There are at least 3 jacuzzi pools for those who wish to just relax in an area. The wave pool is enjoyable and safe.

There are many trees on the area and it gives you that provincial vibe. The staff are courteous and approachable.

For Improvement:

When I said that the staff are courteous and approachable, I meant it for the young lady at the ticket booth and for the staff who assisted us going to the cottage. The rest of the staff like the lifeguard were unknown to me simply because nobody seemed to wear any uniform so it was hard to tell if that person sitting on the lifeguard chair was an employee or simply one of us who got tired and sit down to rest. There is a disclaimer, by the way, that people should not be swimming alone so I assume that the lack of lifeguards is compensated by this very bold warning.

While garbage bins are everywhere at the cottage area, the same cannot be said for the shower area. The shower area near the Octopus pool and the one near the River pool do not have available garbage bins. The shower areas look secluded and the paranoid in me imagine somebody is on the next shower cubicle!

There is moss accumulation on the slides at the River pool that makes it unsanitary. Consider cleaning the slides during the pool’s next clean up.

Don’t expect henna tattoo booth, massage booth and even an ice cream booth inside the resort because they don’t have it in there. Anyway, these are just nice-to-haves but the resort can survive with the basics like a store selling some snacks, water and other basic things.

The Review: 3 out of 5 star

For a price of PhP180, don’t expect too many nice-to-haves. The resort has a certain old and provincial appeal that makes it worth your next trip. Don’t swim alone and enjoy the resort in group.




Amana Waterparks Review


The Good:

Amana Waterparks is very accessible either by car, jeepney, tricycle or bus. If you’re coming from NLEX, just go through the Bocaue exit and then drive straightly to Pandi. You know you’re in the right direction the moment you see Waltermart on the right. From the crossing near the Waltermart, just turn left and then right, where Pandi is located.

The area is not isolated so you won’t worry about flat tires or refuelling. Fruits, water, drinks and take outs are available along the way. Take note that bringing alcoholic beverages and soda are not allowed in Amana as there as stores inside where you can buy soda. The parking lot is spacious. The ticket booth opens at 8:00 AM ; you need to come there earlier during the peak season to avoid the long queue of  customers. Tickets cost PhP200 for children and PhP250 for adult.

The pools are generally safe for young children and there are at least two life guards per pool. There are life-sized characters for added attraction like the superheroes, robots, minions etc. The pools do not smell of too much chlorine.

The cottages are spacious and clean. There are thrash bins per cottage and there are roving housekeepers for garbage collection.

We brought some fruits with us and to my delight, we did not experience flies flying around our food. There are available barbecue grills for rent (PhP100), too.

The restrooms are clean and well-maintained. There are sinks per cottage area for washing the utensils and food.

For Improvement:

Because we’re just four in a group, (2 adults and 2 children) we availed of the Boracay Nipa Hut and the cottage assigned to us was number 18. The cottage is PhP600 and can accommodate 8 people. Cottage #18 is very near the sink but the problem is the open canal where all the water from the sink falls. The open canal stinks and is an eyesore.

At 1:30 PM last April 25th, it rained hard and to our disappointment, all the water coming from the upper part of the cottage went down to the part of the cottage (#18) where we were staying. The open canal near our cottage was flooded with rainwater so it overflowed.


If you’re looking for a place that is near and affordable, try Amana but please avoid the #11 area on the map because I’m telling you, this area is not comfortable when raining hard.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


When in Baguio, Try Good Taste!


When in Baguio, try the Good Taste Restaurant, located at the corner of Otek and Carino Street. For breakfast, I ordered mami (80 pesos) and Good Taste rice (100 pesos). Sulit naman dahil andami, pang-dalawahan sya. True to its name, good taste talaga ang pagkain nila.

From ordering to serving took around 10 minutes only.

Cleanliness,okay naman . Wala naman akong nakitang ipis o langaw.

Yung cushioned chairs ang kailangan ng improvement, worn out na kasi. Nag-monoblock na lang kami ng friend ko. Waitresses are nice kaso dahil very busy sila, panay lagi silang nagmamadali. I appreciate na malawak ang dining area dahil hindi nagkakabungguan ang customers.

Again, breakfast nang pumunta ako at nag-taxi lang kaya hindi nagging issue ang serving time at parking space sa akin. Will I go back to Good Taste when I’m in Baguio? Definitely yes! Overall rating: 4/5.



Whatever Happened to Master Hopia?


Today is my 5th day here in Baguio for a week-long strategic planning session with the heads of sales and operation. We are confined in the company owner’s houses which is located near Burnham Park. Work normally starts at 5AM and ends whenever the task for the day is done. I usually wake up at 4:30 AM and retires to bed at around 12:00 AM. Stroll time is limited to the area near the compound and the nearest places to go are Burnham Park and Session Road.

Last time, three of my colleagues asked me if I wanted to stroll outside of the compound. I hesitated at first because I was already tired and sleepy and it was supposed to be the 1st time in four nights that I could sleep earlier. I discouraged them to stroll and even told them that it was risky to be going out at night. One of them told me that she was a frequent visitor of Baguio so she had an idea how night life in Baguio was.

So, okay, I counted myself in and minutes later, we hailed a cab and asked the driver to drop us off in Session Road. Along the way, I saw the night market in Harrison Road and asked the group if they wanted to see it (as it was also my first time to be going to a night market here).

Two decades ago, ukay-ukay or selling of imported used clothes and shoes were already existing here but I never got the chance to buy then because my allowance as student simply could not afford any excess expenses.

Wy, one of my companions, bought corn in a cup. I would have wanted to try some but being cautious of what I eat while on vacation stopped me from doing it. The ukay-ukay excited me and most of the goods were good and were priced very cheaply. I saw a small sweater suited for a little girl and thought it would look good on our former neighbor. The price was a steal at PhP20 only but I refrained myself from buying as I might end up occupying half of the company van!

So after a quick tour at the night market, I asked them if they wanted to go to Session Road already. They agreed and so we proceeded. I noticed the long queue of jeepney commuters near Silang Street and I said to myself that there was nothing really new about it as it was just like that two decades ago.

“Is it okay with you if we go up to Mabini Street and from there, proceed to Session Road again?” I asked the group.

“Why? What’s with this street?” they asked.

I did not answer right away. They noticed that I was taking pictures. I was not sure if I just missed it but I did not see any Tiong San store in Mabini. The arcade where we used to go bowling was not there already.

“You see that Victoria signage? I used to buy my groceries from there.”

“But why?” they asked.

“Because I spent five years of my life as student here,” I said.

They were a bit surprised because maybe, they assumed that I finished my college from a Manila university and my secretive nature was partly to blame because I don’t divulge personal information to people unless they ask. The good thing was, my colleagues became just excited as me.

I took a picture of the dorm where I stayed as a freshman and memories of that place just kept reminding me. It was my first abode in Baguio where I met my first dorm mates. It was there where I had my first boyfriend of only two days. It was there where I first broke a man’s heart by breaking up with him a day before Christmas. It was there where I first tasted alcohol while my ex-boyfriend and friends watched over me while intoxicated. It was there where I first had a beach outing without my family. It was there where I had my first serious relationship that lasted for five years.

Our favorite bakery was just across the street. It was a small bakery named Master Hopia. The bread, hopia and siopao were tasty but very affordable for students like me. On the roof of its second floor extension were cats cuddling and sometimes fighting; they were my source of entertainment aside from the television located on their second floor room.

Unfortunately, Master Hopia is no longer there for reasons still unknown to me as of this writing. In a bittersweet moment, I  realized that I’ve been away for so long a time. A lot of things have changed: the people, the weather and the places that I used to go.