Saturday, January 2, 2010

Help Make the Philippines No. 1 for the Ultimate Thailand Explorers!!!

The Philippines is on 2nd place right now trailing by 2,200 votes against the US Team. Your VOTE can help make us Number 1!  Voters will have a chance to win a $2,500 luxury Thailand package and an HTC Android phone!  YOU MAY VOTE EVERYDAY till Jan.8. Vote once a day until Jan.8!!! Go, Go, Go Philippines! :)   Look at the picture below for the voting procedure. 

Ultimate Thailand Explorers Update

The Philippines is trailing 2,200 votes against the US Team. Your VOTE can help make us Number 1!  Voters will have a chance to win a $2,500 luxury Thailand package and an HTC Android phone!  YOU MAY VOTE EVERYDAY till Jan.8. Vote once a day until Jan.8!!! Go, Go, Go Philippines! :)   Look at the picture below for the voting procedure. 

Saturday, December 5, 2009

This weekend we attended a gathering of athletes, adventurers and sports enthusiasts at our church. We were happy to meet people who share the same passion. Among those present was  Taekwondo champion Japoy Lizardo, who would be competing in the SEA games this December 9.  


Michael and I were honored to be in the same boat as Japoy. It's a very big privilege to be able to represent our country in an international competition. Michael and I were given a few minutes to speak at the meeting. We were able to show our  video and introduce  the Ultimate Thailand Explorers competition. Among those who approached us after our talk was Elen, a former expat in Thailand. She had a wonderful time as a  teacher in Bangkok.  She talked about the warmth of the people, the delicious food, the year-round sale and the quality of goods. 
Plus, she gave us some tips:   
*As Filipinos, we sometimes pat people's head or ruffle their hair to show our appreciation. It's a no-no in Thailand. For the Thais, the head is the top most part of the body and should not be touched casually. Doing so would be disrespectful.
*Using the toes to point to something or someone   is also frowned upon. It's not good to have your foot point to a person. So ladies have to be careful that when they cross their legs their foot isn't pointing to someone. 
*To get the restaurant bill, we are used to drawing a square in the air to signal the waiter to get  our check. In Thailand, you use your pointing finger to draw circles! That's how you get your bill. 
Elen also shared about the deep love and respect that the Thais have toward the royal family. She was overwhelmed the first time she encountered the  entourage of King Bhumibol in the streets of Bangkok. Unaware that the King was passing by, she was shocked to see everyone on the street stop at their tracks. It seemed like the whole world had stopped moving, Elen described. Everything became so quiet, she thought it was the end of the world! That's how they show their reverence. 
After that, Michael and I met up with our new friend-- perfumer Bugsy Lazo ( We met Bugsy at an internet cafe in Zamboanga City during our campaign in the semifinals. He and his cousins became our instant supporters! The  night we met was the same night we hit first place in votes! Since he's originally from Manila, we met up with him while we were there. The thoughtful Bugsy wanted  to send us off with a gift,  the first we received this Christmas--two bottles of his most saleable perfume! Michael got a scent called Guimba, which means forest in the Tausug dialect. I got a perfume named Sassy, a blend of citrus and vanilla. It smells heavenly. Now we're sure to smell sweet while doing exploring Koh Samui.  Thanks so much, Bugsy!

As we prepare to fly to Thailand tomorrow, we want to greet everyone a Merry Christmas!  May you have a meaningful holiday season! :) 

Love Samui 

Guess Who is Celebrating His Birthday Today?

Courstesy of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (
His majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej is celebrating his 82nd birthday today!  Here are some very interesting facts about Thailand's beloved monarch!
*The King was actually born in Cambridge Massachusetts on Dec. 5, 1927. 
*His name "Bhumibol Adulyadej" means "Strength of the Land, Incomparable Power."
*His mom Sangwal was a commoner.
*The King came to Thailand from the United States  when he was already around one year old in 1928.
*In 1935 his elder brother, Phra Ong Chao Ananda Mahidol, became King of Thailand. King Bhumibol ascended the throne following the death of his brother on  June 9, 1946. King Ananda died from a gunshot wound to the head while in his bedroom in the Baromphiman Hall in the Grand Palace.
*On 4 October 1948, while he was driving on the Geneva-Lausanne road, he collided with the back of a truck. He hurt his back and incurred cuts on his face. He also lost sight on his right eye. He had to wear an ocular prosthetic. 
*While finishing his degree in Switzerland, Bhumibol visited Paris frequently. It was in Paris that he first met a child of his first cousin, Mom Rajawongse Sirikit Kitiyakara , daughter of the Thai ambassador to France. He was 21 and she was 15. They got engaged in Lausanne  on July 14, 1949, and the couple were married on  April 28,  1950, just a week before his coronation.
*King Bhumibol and his wife Queen Sirikit have four children.
*During his coronation, he pledged that he would "reign with righteousness for the benefit and happiness of the Siamese people."
*King Bhumibol is a painter, musician, photographer, author and translator.
*The King is also an accomplished jazz musician and composer, particularly for his works on the alto saxophone. He was the first Asian composer awarded honorary membership of the Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in Vienna at the age of 32. (Wow!!!)
*One of his book  "The Story of Thong Daeng" is the story of his dog Thong Daeng (meaning copper). He rescued the stray dog from a shelter that he had dedicated. Of the dog, the King wrote: "Tongdaeng is a respectful dog with proper manners; she is humble and knows protocol. She would always sit lower than the King; even when he pulls her up to embrace her, Tongdaeng would lower herself down on the floor, her ears in a respectful drooping position, as if she would say, 'I don't dare.'"
*The King is humble. In spite of lese majeste laws, which allow critics to be jailed for three to fifteen years in Thailand, he admitted during  his 2005 birthday speech. "Actually, I must also be criticised. I am not afraid if the criticism concerns what I do wrong, because then I know. Because if you say the king cannot be criticised, itmeans that the king is not human", he said. "If the king can do no wrong, it is akin to looking down upon him because the king is not being treated as a human being. But the king can do wrong."
*King Bhumibol is an accomplished sailor and sailboat designer. He won a gold medal for sailing in the Fourth Southeast Asian Peninsular Games in 1967, together with HRH Princess Ubol Ratana. This accomplishment is to be remarkable given his  lack of binocular depth perception.

We hope you're as impressed as we are with His majesty. We pray for the King's continued good health and success on this special day. This psalm accurately sums up our well-wishes:

May God do what you want most and let all go well for you.
Then you will win victories and we will celebrate.
May the Lord answer all of your prayers.
I am certain, Lord, that you will help your chosen king.
Some people trust the power of chariots or horses,
but we trust in you, Lord God.
Give the king victory, Lord, and answer our prayers.

Happy birthday, Your Highness King Bhumibol Adulyadej! 
Love Samui 

Friday, December 4, 2009

Flashback Thailand

I have just found some old pictures when I was about 15 years old, the first time I went to Thailand.  These are old photos of me (in the maroon shirt)  in the Wat Pho Temple.  Taken way back in 1995, my mom was on a business trip and my brother, sister and I were able to tag along.
One thing that struck me before entering the temple was that we were not allowed to point our toes inside the temple.  Reverence to authority is a very important virtue for the Thai people.
My wife and I recently were on a plane and were seated beside a passenger who loves Thailand very much.  He adores the gentleness and respect shown to the King by the people.  I heard the same from another friend who commented that currencies are not usually folded because the image of the King is printed there! What awesome respect!
And so Thailand, I am coming back.

Tokens of Love

Wow! We have reached the 1,000 mark in 4 short days. The last time we checked we were in 4th place. Michael and I were out the whole day to prepare gifts for the Ultimate Thailand Explorers. We're so happy to  know that we made it to the top today (but we are now No. 2!) Thanks to YOU! And thanks to PEP (Thanks, Yas!) and  Yahoo! for featuring us on their  Showbiz page. They made us feel like celebrities. We're speechless. . . 

First stop for us this morning was the Department of Tourism. Tourism Secretary Ace Durano was so nice  to have personally  prepared gifts for the governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the organizer of the Ultimate Thailand Explorers. Sec. Ace is also into adventurous pursuits and has recently zip-lined in Davao and Danao! He couldn't meet us because he was out of the town today, so he asked his executive assistant Ms. Karen Sanchez to hand us the gifts. They are beautiful! I so want to keep them!  We're not allowed to tell you what the gifts are. Not yet! We don't want to spoil the surprise.
At the Philippine Department of Tourism

We also went to our favorite bookshop to prepare gifts to the other contestants and the liason officer that the UTE has assigned to us. His name is Big and from his picture in Facebook he looks like a nice young man with a  sunny disposition. We can't wait to meet him and the other contestants. We also have new friends from Bangkok whom we will be meeting for the first time in the welcome party--all 40 of them!  Hmm, it will be a challenge to remember all their names, but we will try.

We received a feedback today from Siampinoy. Yes,we have a strong Filipino community in Bangkok! (Hello, everyone! Salamat sa suporta!). Angilicus told us that some of you are having problems voting after registration.  I'll post a guideline here. Hope it helps. :)

1. After registering,  you can log on to this page:
2. Look for the "LOG-IN" tab on top of the page.
3. Log in your Username and Password.
4. Then, a pink button with the word "VOTE" will appear below the video screen.

Angelicus and Peachy, both expats in Thailand, reported to us how nice the Thai people are and what a wonderful experience it was for them to work there. We're very glad to hear that! Thais and Filipinos share many similar traits. Like their Filipino counterparts, Thais  are warm and hospitable. They are family-oriented, respectful, religious, very fashion savvy  and they love spicy food! We look a lot like them, too.

Love Samui

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

L.O.V.E. is in the Air!

Michael has beaten me again! (No, not that kind of beating!) Every 3rd of the month, we have a contest on who will greet the other first. You see, we got married on the 3rd day of October and every month we have this tradition of surprising each other. I woke up at dawn today to find this pink flower and note in my equally  pink childhood bathroom. I think the score  so far is 25 to 1, with me winning over him just once in our 1 year and 2 months as a married couple. 

Last night, we received our Koh Samui itinerary from the Ultimate Thailand Explorers support team. They’re doing a great job, updating us with our itineraries, e-tickets and what-have-you’s. We promised to do 3 things in our poll that you would want us not to miss in Koh Samui. Here are the winners: 1 Elephant Trekking, 2 Treetop Ziplining, 3 Samui Rollerball/Zorbing!  We’re putting these into the itinerary and we’ll add the 4th and 5th placers as well!  Koh Samui is one fun-filled island! I wish we can stay longer than 6 days so we can see and experience everything! 

As much as we want to travel earlier to Thailand to attend the Royal Ratchaphruek Festival, we decided to stay home, because I’m still recovering from cough and cold. But we’re still wishing, hoping  and praying we’ll meet the king once we travel there this Dec. 8. 
Again, we’d like to thank everyone who is religiously voting and visiting this site everyday! We thank you for the comments, suggestions and encouraging words as well. We couldn’t have reached the finals without you. We’d also like to thank the Philippine Department of Tourism for graciously extending their help and support. Thank you Secretary Ace for your generosity! 


Love Samui

L-ush rainforests!
O-cean adventures!
V-erdant golfcourses!
E-xtreme sports! 

Smells Like Hell, Tastes Like Heaven!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Tired of Bad News? Read Good news here!

We have been so blessed to be part of the Ultimate Thailand Explorers. It is such an amazing adventure. One more hour and the FINALS voting begins. Thank you everyone for your encouragements and support. We are believing that one of our voters win the $2500 voter’s prize! Koh Samui here we come! (Dec 10 – 16, 2009)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thailand Celebrates the Royal Flora Ratchapruek Festival!

Courtesy of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (
Courtesy of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (

How we wish were in Thailand now! As you may now know,  the yellow Ratchapruek is the official flower of Thailand and it represents their beloved monarch.  According to the Thailand Authority of Tourism, more than 200,000 visitors are expected to attend a grand festival designed to celebrate and honour His Majesty the King, now the world’s longest reigning monarch, who will be celebrating his 82nd birthday on 5 December, 2009.

The opening ceremony will be held on 30 November, and the entire festival will run from 30 November – 10 December, 2009, at the Ratchaphruek 2006 Garden in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai. His Majesty the King ascended the throne in June 1946 and was coronated in May 1950.

The highlight of the opening ceremony  is the lighting of  999 Kom Loi (Sky Lanterns). Nine is an auspicious number for the Thais. It will be followed by cultural dances from the 4 regions of Thailand with 99 dancers each! There will be fireworks and horticultural  exhibits of flowers, fruits and trees throughout the festival. It’s going to be an orchid lover’s paradise.

The grandest day will be on the King’s 82 birthday on December 5.  There will be lighting of candles, offering of prayers and blessing for his continued good health, and singing of songs. A fireworks and lights show will follow afterwards.
We are still hoping we could go in time for the King’s birthday! We’re trying to figure out a way. It’s our dream to meet King Bhumibol. We’ll update you!

Courtesy of the Thailand Tourism Authoriy website

Friday, November 27, 2009

101 Ways to Reach Koh Samui

Just as there are 101 reasons to visit Koh Samui, there are also 101 ways  to escape to Koh Samui. . . Let TEAM LOVE Samui show you how. . . 

Let’s start our home country– the Philippines!    airplane

Roundtrip fares with taxes from Manila to Koh Samui  are as low as US$364.00 / passenger.

From the Philippines, the first route to Koh Samui is via Bangkok.  There are three (3) airlines flying to Bangkok from Manila and one (1) from Clark, Pampanga.  Departing from the International Airport in Manila are the following airlines (Cebu Pacific also flies from Clark to Bangkok):

Once in Bangkok, you can make a connecting flight through one of the following airlines:

You also have the option of traveling to Koh Samui by bus, train and ferry. 

For  those traveling from other parts of the world to Koh Samui. . .

Now for Koh Samui fans coming from Europe, Northern America, Latin America, Middle East, and other parts of the world, getting there is no problem!  All major carriers and national airlines all have flights to Bangkok.  And from there, you can connect to Koh Samui.globe


Roundtrip fare with taxes starts at US$1,400.00 / passenger.


Some countries are even blessed to have direct flights to Koh Samui.  The following airlines travel direct to Koh Samui:

Roundtrip fare with taxes starts at US$182.00 / passenger.

TRUE to being tourist-friendly, Thailand exempts a considerable number of countries from visas.  

 Only the nationals of the following countries  should apply for a visa upon arrival.  Period of stay  is 15 days.

  • Bhutan,China, Cyprus, CzechRepublic, Estonia, Hungary, India, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein,Lithuania, Maldives, Mauritius,Oman, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia,Slovakia, Slovenia, Taiwan, Ukraine

The following countries are exempted from tourist visas and can stay in Thailand for 30 days. 

  • Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece,Hong Kong, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Singapore, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UAE, UK ,USA, Vietnam

The following countries are visa exempted and can stay for up to 90 days.

  • Brazil, Korea, Peru

Wanted: An Authentic Thai Massage

We just got massages in one of the best spas in the world--our home.  We had just flown back from an amazing conference in  Malaysia and we needed to get some time to wind down.  Aside from getting a  deep tissue massage, Michael tried a procedure called Bentosa Cupping Therapy. He had been experiencing back pains lately and he had noticed knots on his upper back, which was caused by the accumulation of lactic acid in his back muscles. The masseuse suggested  Bentosa to get rid of these big, hard knots. 
Michael's Bentosa Therapy
After a brief massage, the masseuse put out her armament--a set of 6 glass cups, 6 coins and a lighter. She wrapped a coin in a small white paper and rolled it. She then  put it on Mike's back and lit it with the lighter. Michael's back was  on fire. Acting quickly, the masseuse covered the flaming coin with the cup, extinguishing the fire. She repeated the whole procedure 5 more times. Michael said it felt like having six vacuum cleaner tubes stuck on his back. It felt very good. . . like getting a giant pinch from your adoring grandmother. All the pain melted away.  Michael, whose back now resembled a red lego block,  had a very relaxing nap afterwards.  

We can't wait to try an authentic Thai massage in Koh Samui. Last September Michael's cousin  opened the Thai Spa  in Zamboanga City and we were honored to be its first customers. The Thai massage we experienced there  didn't involve the  use any oil or kneading techniques.  It concentrated instead on  pressure points and involved a lot of stretching on a mat on the floor. It is the perfect massage to get in middle of a workday, perhaps on a lunch break, when you need some invigoration. No sticky, oily feel. And instead of sending you off to dreamland, you don't feel drowsy but energized and raring to go afterwards.    (The Thai Spa is located at Nunez Ext., Zamboanga City. Telephone number 992-2513) 
The Thai Spa's Plush LobbyThe Spa Beds
The Thai Spa in Zamboanga city

Do you know that Thailand now has more spas than any other country in the region?  It was recently named  the "Asian Spa Capital of 2009" by AsiaSpa Magazine. Two of the things we want you to experience with us in Koh Samui are the different massages and beauty treatments. Prepare to be pampered as we show you the different types of spa treatments available. And of course, we'll tell you which ones are worth your time and money and those that you can skip altogether.  
Right after our massage this afternoon, even before the masseuse could leave the house,we were  already in front of our computers,eagerly typing away,  excited to update our blogs and sites for the Ultimate Thailand Explorers! That's what a good massage can do--it can soothe, relax and  rejuvenate a weary soul. It's  a strong testament to the healing powers of touch.
P.S.  If you're planning on trying Bentosa, make sure you don't have a formal event or beach outing to attend, because the red spots on your back will take a week or two to fade. :) 

Love Koh Samui!

LOVE Samui--this is our team name! And also our tagline. . . We chose it because we want our team to remind you of that beautiful place we're representing-- KOH SAMUI! Or what the Thais refer to as Samui, "Koh" being the Thai word for "island." We're very convinced that like us you will also FALL head over heels IN LOVE with this unique island paradise.

 What does Koh Samui have to offer? 
Let L.O.V.E. be your guide. . . 

L- lush rainforests

O-ocean adventures 

V-verdant golf courses

E- extreme sports 

YOU CAN find these and more in KOH SAMUI! You just gotta LOVE SAMUI!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

We are officially in the finals of the Ultimate Thailand Explorers! 

You may visit our official UTE blog at

Voting for the finals will begin on December 1 until January 8! 

LOVE Samui–this is our  team name!  And also our tagline. . . We chose it  because we want our team to remind you of that beautiful place we’re representing– KOH SAMUI! Or what the Thais  refer to as Samui, “Koh” being  the Thai word for  ”island.”  We’re very convinced that like us you will also FALL head over heels IN LOVE with this unique island paradise.

What does Koh Samui have to offer?  Let  L.O.V.E. be your guide. . . 

L- lush rainforests

O-ocean adventures 

V-verdant golf courses 

E- extreme water sports     

YOU CAN find these and more in KOH SAMUI! You just gotta LOVE SAMUI!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Our Awesome Planet features Ultimate Thailand Explorers!

Dedicated blogger and father of four Anton Diaz featured us on "Our Awesome Planet!"  OAP is one awesome blog that presents the very best in Philippine travel, events and yummy food. It sprang out of Anton's passion to chronicle his young family's adventures. Thanks to Anton, his avid readers  and many of you who voted for us throughout the semis, we have  now been officially declared as the team to represent Koh Samui in the Ultimate Thailand Explorers!

The Tourism Authority of Thailand  assigned us this official blog:  

you may also visit the blog through this URL

If you have any questions about Thailand, particularly Koh Samui. . .or if you have suggestions on what you want us to try out while we are there, feel free to message us here or in our official blog.

Have a great week! ;)

Michael and Jenny

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Zamboanga Times Features the Ultimate Thailand Explorers!

With a plethora of  problems hounding us daily, it is always refreshing to write about good news. If General Santos' Manny Pacquiao will gie honor again to our country by November 15, Zamboanga City will also have its own glory (and be known worldwide) within this month, too. 

 We may have had our fair share of negative publicity in the past, but we have been given another a chance to shine in the international scene by November 13.  Thanks to a young couple from Canelar Moret, Michael Paul and Jennifer Cocuaco, Zamboanga City made it in the  international travel competition Ultimate Thailand Explorers. They are the only team from the Philippines who got into the semifinals of this competition organized by the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

Among the 192 contestants from around the world, Michael and Jenny's 1-minute audition video caught the eye of the panel of judges who immediately included them in the list of only 25 teams to enter the semifinals. It is no small  feat because only three Asian teams got picked to be in this coveted spot. The two other teams come from our industrialized neighbor Singapore. Majority of the semifinalists are from the US and Europe. 

The battle is just heating  up  for Michael and Jenny.  The Ultimate Thailand Explorers is afterall an online voting competition. And yes, you can do something to affect the outcome. Out of the 25 semifinalists, only 5 teams who get the highest votes in their chosen destination will get to the finals.  Deadline for voting is on November 13 at 1 AM.   The past two weeks, Michael and Jenny  were trailing behind by almost 300 votes in their chosen destination, but because of  the outpouring of support from family, friends, online contacts and the media, they are now number one! Our beloved Zamboanga is now leading by 809 votes as of press time. Trailing far behind are contestants from the UK, Singapore, and the US.  Help keep Michael and Jenny at the top by voting for them every 24 hours. As a reward for your generosity, you may even win for yourself the $2,500 luxury travel package and high-tech HTC cellphone that the contest organizers are giving away to two lucky voters. This definitely is a win-win situation and a worthy investment in Zamboanga's pride. Imagine!

To vote, log on and register your details at this website:   A confirmation letter  will be sent to your email immediately  by the contest organizers. Open the email and click on the confirmation link which will bring you to the contest's main webpage. Look for Michael Paul & Jennifer's video for Koh Samui near the end of the page and vote by clicking the pink VOTE button. It's that easy. 

 An adventurous  and fun-loving couple, Michael and Jenny's zest for life is contagious, as one can see in  their 1-minute video (  which highlights  the best spots of Pasonanca Nature Reserve.  More than that, they serve as good ambassadors for our city and nation, as they are responsible professionals in their respective fields. Michael, an alumnus of Zamboanga Chong Hua and Ateneo de Zamboanga, took up Hotel and Restaurant Administration in the University of the Philippines. Aside from being a manager and reservations officer of local travel agency 888 Ticketworld, he is also a youth leader, often asked to share his experiences and expertise in the areas of leadership, management and finance. His wife of 1-year, on the other hand, is a graduate of Ateneo de Manila University, who majored in Business Management and Communications, where she was also a Dean's Awardee for the Arts.  As  a writer, her work has been published in numerous glossy magazines and newspapers, including Reader's Digest Asia. Aside from that, Jenny, born and raised in Manila, is also a TV producer and director who has produced magazine and documentary TV shows in the Philippines and China.  Both Michael and Jenny, chosen recently as our country's representatives to South East Asian Youth For Change,  are well-traveled and well-versed in the Asian culture.They are perfect for this competition, which tests the participants' skills in promoting and highlighting the beauty of 5 tourist destinations in Thailand namely Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Chang Mai and Koh Samui. 
Two weeks into the competition, Michael and Jenny got the Philippine media's attention. Several lifestyle and social writers  from Manila featured them in their blogs, including CNET blogger Joey Alarilla,  travel blogger Anton Diaz and OK! Magazine editor-in-chief Frances Amper-Sales.  Aside from being heralded by the Philippine Entertainment Portal (PEP), the  Zamboanga couple  was also featured last Saturday in  fashion icon  Tim Yap's column in  the Philippine Star.  Let's not delay in giving  this  couple our all-out support by viewing, voting and campaigning for their video.  ( 

Once they get to the finals, Michael and Jenny will be given the chance to personally travel to the Thai island paradise of Koh Samui.  They will document their experiences through articles, pictures and video that will be published to a worldwide audience online.  Your support is crucial even in the finals, because judging is purely based on voters' support. A vote for them is a vote for our beloved ctiy. 

So log on and vote for this sweet couple and have the chance to win $2,500. Above all, Zamboanga City will be known around the world. 

  Thanks for this second article, Kuya Dante!  :D