Astoria Palawan


Astoria Palawan is one of the six luxurious properties of Astoria Hotels and Resorts.  The property, which first opened its doors in 2014, is an advocate of responsible tourism and is proud to be one of Puerto Princesa’s greenest, most eco-friendly and sustainable resorts.

Astoria Palawan has 40 spacious private suites housed inside 13 leaf-inspired, wood-cabin villas as well as an annex building with 34 spacious rooms. The hotel’s rustic charm is highlighted in the way it’s designed around the contour of the island so it is said that guests are guaranteed a tropical getaway of their lifetime.

The resort has high quality accommodations, 39-meter infinity pool, karaoke and game rooms, and newly-built one-hectare Palawan Waterpark.


This is the second Astoria Property that we have visited so far after Astoria Plaza in Ortigas.  We were able to book two 1BR units for three nights during off-peak season in September 2017.

The 56-square meter one-bedroom suite is very spacious and elegant. It has an ensuite living room and bedroom.  It can accommodate four (4) adults and two (2) kids).


If you wish to explore Palawan and have a great stay at Astoria Palawan, I am offering you our Astoria Holiday entitlement with the following discounts from the posted rates in Astoria Palawan website.

Length of Stay Discount
2 nights 15%
3 to 4 nights 20%
5 to 7 nights 25%

You may check the room rate of 1 BR Suite from Astoria Palawan website in the following link and apply the offered discounts above.  Rates may vary depending on your preferred dates.

Astoria Palawan website

If you find the discounted rates as a great deal, you may send your preferred dates and I can check its availability from the reservation department. Once the availability of room is confirmed, you have to settle your payment directly to me for booking confirmation. I will then send your booking confirmation for presentation to the hotel reception when you arrived at the resort.

Daily Writing Exercise

Yesterday, I gave my students in HNC in QS a daily writing exercise to improve their writing skills. The instruction is for them to write any random thoughts for at least 10 minutes a day everyday up to the end of the semester. They have to post their writings to the class yahoo group.

While I am reading each post from the students, I got inspired with their stories. I noticed how some students struggle to write anything or even start to put their thoughts into words. However, it is obvious that there are students who are passionate in writing their feelings. Their stories inspired me to also write my own daily thoughts.  I realized it was already a long six years since I had my last post in this blog.

The main purpose of the daily writing exercise is to improve the smooth flow of thoughts in their minds and for them to learn how to express what they feel or think through writing.  I remember that it is one of the reasons why created this blog about seven years ago. Aside from being bored at that time maybe.

Starting today, I will also try my best to post my daily write ups here in parallel with the writing exercise of my students, which would conclude in the last week of April As what I have told to my students, communication whether through speaking or writing is not an inborn talent but a skill that can be develop through consistent practice.

I would admit that I was not really good in communication however, I am continuously helping myself to improve this skill.  I believed that good communication is one of the key to success in life and career. I have already proven the results of this improvements to my career and to our life.

Although, being good in English language is a great qualification to succeed, communication is not all about language.  It is about the ability to express yourself.

This is all for now and I will conclude with a quote that “Writing works like a muscle. The more you work it, the better you get at it.” Goodnight!

St. Paul’s Metropolitan Cathedral

St. Paul’s Cathedral is located in Vigan, Ilocos Norte. It is also known as Metropolitan Cathedral or Vigan Cathedral.  It was said to be the first Vigan Cathedral, which was ordered and built in 1574 by Juan de Salcedo.  The current church was constructed in 1790 and was finished in 1800.

It is located in front of Plaza Salcedo and  across the street on its right side is the Plaza Burgos and the famous Vigan Empanadahan.

It is surrounded with historical private and public buildings like Vigan Diocesan Seminary, Archbishop Palace where the Archbishop resides, Father Jose Burgos Residence, Vigan Municipal Hall and Provincial Capitol


Cathedral’s view from Plaza Salcedo


Facade View - "the facade features Chinese lion dog ornaments and above the main doorway is an alcove depicting the conversion of St. Paul"

Facade View – “the facade features Chinese lion dog ornaments and above the main doorway is an alcove depicting the conversion of St. Paul”


Cathedral's Bell Tower located across the street at Plaza Burgos

Cathedral’s Bell Tower located across the street at Plaza Burgos


Interior View - Baroque architectural design that has been modified by Ilocanos to strengthen the structure against earthquakes, now known as "Earthquake Baroque Design"

Interior View – Baroque architectural design that has been modified by Ilocanos to strengthen the structure against earthquakes, now known as “Earthquake Baroque Design”



How to Determine the Right Investment (My Toastmasters Speech Project No. 2)


This is a script for my Project Speech No. 2 that I delivered on December 6, 2013 at Al Liwan Suites during the fourth regular meeting of PICE-Qatar Toastmasters Club. This time, I was not able to use the Word of the Day and I exceeded with the time limit of seven minutes.  However, our General Evaluator of the day mentioned that I accomplished the objective of this speech which is to Organize your Speech.

How to Determine the Right Investment

Money is hard to earn and easy to lose, guard yours with care.

Mr. Toastmaster of the Day, fellow toastmasters and honored guests, a pleasant afternoon!

Am I right to say that we are all here in Qatar to work hard for money?

Is there anyone here who came here in Qatar not because of earning money?

But why do we need money?

The most common reasons for us are to fund the education of our children, to buy our own house, to buy a new car, to fund a dream vacation like a Europe tour or a Carribean cruise.  What else? To buy a luxury items, gold, diamonds or a latest gadget.

With all of these expensive dreams, have you ever thought of saving some of your money for your retirement? 

With the high cost of everyday expenses, it is so difficult to save right?

That is why we want to keep our savings in an investment that could beat inflation and boost the return of our savings.

With lots of offers and opportunities, it is very difficult to know which investment is the best.

Today I will discuss to you how to properly analyze the best investment opportunities.

I will tell you four criteria to consider and you will know what questions to ask, what things to look out for and things to avoid completely.

The first of these criteria is

  1. Security – we should know what is the level of security of this investment, meaning we want to know how safe our money will be if we invest in a particular investment specially if you have a small portfolio size.  We should be aware how much risk is involved in an investment.  A savings and time deposit are considerably safe investments while mutual fund and stocks have a higher risk involve.  But if you will invest your money in a stock market and the market falls down do you think you could still sleep soundly at night?
  2. Liquidity – It refers to how much access do you have on your money when you did the investment? If you will buy a piece of land as an investment with a forecast that it will increase in value.  Can you immediately sell this piece of land when you realized that something goes wrong in your investment?  Or you will be force to sell it a discount?  Savings accounts and time deposits are generally liquid because it can be withdrawn anytime.  You can easily sell your stocks at the current market rate but how much was it when you bought the shares? That is liquidity.
  3. Velocity – How fast can you take your money back with its earnings so that you can put that money to a new investment and acquire more assets that can produce more cashflow and achieve financial freedom faster.
  4. Profitability – meaning we want to know what is the projected return of investment over the period of time.  How much we are expected to earn, when we are expected to earn it and how soon we ware we able to get that money.

So that is how simple it is and as a quick review, the first criteria is to determine the security of that investment, meaning how safe is that money.  The second is to determine the liquidity meaning how much access to we have to it.  The third is velocity meaning we need to determine how quick we can get that money back.  And lastly, we want to determine the profitability meaning we want to know how much we are expecting to earn from that investment.

I hope this would help you in determining the right investment when an opportunity comes.

Back to you, Mr. Toastmaster!

Why am I here? (My Toastmaster’s Ice Breaker Speech)


Below is a script of my first Toastmaster’s Speech delivered on October 11, 2013 at Oryx Rotana Hotel during the first regular meeting of PICE-Qatar Toastmasters Club.  In Toastmasters, the first speech project is  called an Ice Breaker.  It has an objective of introducing yourself to the group and conquering your fear of speaking in front of an audience.  And yes, I successfully did it with a copy of my script in the lectern and within the time limit allowed. 🙂

Why am I here?

Mr. Toastmaster of the Day, fellow toastmasters and honored guests, a pleasant afternoon!

Before I prepared my speech, I did a scrupulous (it was the word of the day during the meeting, so I inserted it before I did the speech) research about the origin of Ice Breaker and I found out that in 17th century in the UK, there is an Ice Breaker ship.  During winter, the sea water often freezes.  So, before a ship could travel down to the trading port, a special ship called Ice Breaker went into the iced water to literally break the ice.  Hence an ice breaker is needed for them to get down to business.  Nowadays, ice breaker is a term use to establish a relaxed relationship in socially awkward situations.

Having said that and before I literally freeze here in front of you, I am here now to kick off my Toastmaster’s journey.

I am Asuncion Lopez and everyone calls me Azon for short.  I was born in the simple province of Bulacan.  I graduated with a Civil Engineering degree but my work experiences diverted me to Quantity Surveying career.

It was never part of my dream to live and work out of our country.  However, because my husband got a good job opportunity here in Qatar, it took a year for me to come up with a decision of joining him here in 2010.  After another year I realized that coming back and forth the Philippines every other month with my son staying in the Philippines and my husband here in Qatar is not a very wise situation, so in 2011 we also decided to bring our son here with us.

After another year had passed and I again realized that I am already getting bored in Qatar for being a stay at home mom, doing the laundry, cooking and cleaning the house everyday.  I was already tired of playing Farmville, chatting with all my facebook friends around the world.  Therefore, I decided to get a job and on January 2012 I started working again as a Quantity Surveyor.  This time, it was no longer in the busy streets of Ayala Avenue in Makati but in the desert land of the State of Qatar.

In last quarter of 2012, I started my studies on Adaptation Course through distance learning in my preparation for assessment of professional competence next year that would lead me to be a member of Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in UK.

The first time I heard about Toastmasters was only early this year when Filcom International made a very short presentation in our QS organization because having a good presentation skill is also important to pass the assessment of RICS.  I immediately became interested with Toastmaster however, our organization was not very eager to organize a Toastmaster club.

Toastmasters had crossed my way again when Filcom International made a Demo meeting for PICE at FCC where I was one of the attendees.  I believe being a Toastmaster is really part of my destiny.

Now, I am here as a member and Club Secretary of PICE Qatar Toastmasters Club accepting the challenges to overcome my fear in public speaking and further develop my skills in communication and leadership.


DFA Authentication of Documents

The Department of Foreign Affairs, Office of Consular Affairs-Authentication Division is pleased to announce that the following types of documents can now be accepted in all DFA Satellite Consular Offices (DFA-NCR East/SM Megamall and DFA­ NCR West/SM Manila) effective 01 JULY 2013:

1) NBI Clearance

2) Police Clearance*

3) Barangay Certification w/ Mayor Certification*

4) NSO issued documents in security paper including CENOMAR

5) Affidavits of Employment, Trainings/Seminars, and Baptism/Confirmation w/ Regional Trial Court (RTC) Certification

6) Other Notarized Documents (SPA, Affidavit of Support and Guarantee, Consent, etc.) with RTC Certification

7) Medical Certifications authenticated by DOH

8) PRC Documents

9) LTO License Certification (issued by LTO main office only)

10) Foreign Documents authenticated by the Philippine/Consulate or documents authenticated by Foreign Embassies/Consulates based in the Philippines

11) School Records (TOR, Diploma, Form 137, etc) w/ CHED, TESDA, or DEP-Ed Certificate of Authentication and Verification (CAV)

12) School Records with CAV issued by State Colleges and Universities

In addition, regardless of affinity, an applicant may send an authorized representative to apply on his behalf. Authorized Representative must have a valid ID and has to present a signed authorization letter or SPA from the applicant, a photocopy of applicant’s ID bearing his signature, and a photocopy of the authorized representative’s ID.


1. *Issued within Metro Manila only.

2. In case the document needs further verification, the applicant is advised to file at Authentication Division, Aseana Building, corner Bradco Ave., Macapagal Blvd., Parañaque City. 3. Liaison Officers of Recruitment Agencies are not allowed to transact authentication services at any Satellite Consular Office (SCO).

Reference: DFA Website