“Welcome Home Mr. Ramos!”
Now that’s what I call a greeting. A “greeting card” of sorts which I espied on the table as soon as I entered my room at Panglao Bluewater Resort in Bohol. A great great greet. This card you can’t discard or disregard. Kind of sets the mood from within the resort. A simple work of art from the heart. A homecoming you didn’t expect. A welcoming home indeed.
And not a bad home at all! Mine was a luxurious one-bedroom villa – all of its 130 square meters in an isolated cluster situated some distance away from the majority of rooms. An enviable stroke of luck-xury where one could bask all day in the villa’s exclusive dipping pool or the bathtub fronting a flatscreen TV.
A tall bottle of a welcome drink stood right next to the card. Tangy and cool, I thought to myself as I downed the first round. A complimentary fruit basket was next as I went for the bananas. “I could get used to this,” I said to myself as I unpacked and readied a smaller bag to head to another resort situated six kilometers away for the two-day Geeks On A Beach Conference (GOAB). Then reality struck.
Guys, take note that tricycle drivers charge an atrocious PhP150 per head going anywhere within Panglao Island! And its only two passengers per ride. With very little traffic on the road, it’s hard to believe they charge more than taxicabs in Cebu! And pray you don’t need to go to the city proper for the 20-plus kilometre ride as it will set you back PhP300. Habal-habal (motorcycle) rides costs PhP100 in Panglao alone. Jeepneys are somewhat of a rarity, moreso with taxicabs. I didn’t want to know the cab rates anymore.
All these I gathered from Alan, the resort driver, who brought me from the pier to Bluewater and to the other resort. I was floored and made him repeat the charges just to be sure. I had the impression that these rates were freely tolerated by the local and provincial government since the drivers have to earn. Legalized highway robbery?! How many locals can afford that fare anyway? Or do they have a different rate? To think tricycle rides within Tagbilaran City (Bohol’s capital) cost a mere PhP7 per head! This means a mark-up of over 2000 percent in Panglao!
Home, work, and play
Anyway, the two-day conference was information overload to the max. Non-stop lectures, panel discussions, power point presentations, press cons, etc. about startups and entrepreneurship. I was also in a dilemma since four presentations were held simultaneously in four different rooms for two half-day sessions. No press releases for any event! Twelve pages of notes, back to back, and it was nowhere enough.
On the other hand, meals, snacks, and giveaways were abundant. A special highlight was the second night of the confab where a lavish beach party was held for the delegates. One sponsor even asked the audience to help themselves to the shades and shirts on hand since they didn’t want to bring home much luggage. Cocktails, viands, snacks, and especially, drinks overflowed. There was also a troop of firedancers which really wowed the crowd with their dangerous antics. Too bad I had to leave early due to dizziness. Then the thought later hit me. I was the only print journalist from Cebu to cover the event. Got myself one helluva scoop!
Eats a great home
I had a total of three breakfast buffets at Bluewater Panglao, my home. Selections were tasteful and neat, not quite approaching opulent standards. But who would need an overflowing feast when the occasion would not warrant such? Basics were all present, plus generous helpings of side dishes, desserts, and condiments. Eggs, garlic rice, noodles, sausages, etc. Too bad I missed out on the puncakes twice since there was no more room at the inn-sides.
The view from the Aplaya Restaurant was quite dreamy as the scenery encompassed the beach, playground, gardens, and two swimming pools.
I decided to skip a city dinner on the first night since my phone was nearly in the red and the charger was left behind at my Bluewater home. I also wanted to have an ala carte dish to sample the resort cuisine. My evening repast was nasi goreng which exceeded my expectations.
The peanut sauce, the tender meat, and the sidings were all delectable. Back to the room for more channel switching and some shut-eye.
The second night was full of surprises as I met no less than Timothy Jay Ibay, my editor-in-chief, in a Hawaiian party hosted by Bluewater Panglao. He was part of a Manila media delegation on a Bohol tour
which included a reigning Miss Earth titlist as a guest, and Pete Dacuycuy, a media PR veteran. Us guys exchanged light banter and compared our itineraries. Earlier, I also got to meet Crispo Caingcoy, the resident manager, and Rhyz Buac, the resort GM.
Bluewater Panglao is the third property of a local chain under the Bluewater name headed by Ms. Julie Alegrado-Vergara. First was the fabulous Bluewater Maribago Resort situated in Mactan Island, Cebu. Second is the dreamy Bluewater Sumilon situated deep down southern Cebu. Each a jewel of its own, each catering to distinct markets and preferences, each a haven of restful bliss. Too bad the resort management, though very hospitable and friendly, didn’t allow me to take home my “temporary” home.
More than pictures and brochures, more than just appearances and smiles, and simply more than just brands and branches, the Bluewater name remains to be a premier headturner in the industry. That name you just can’t ignore, but acknowledge and respect. Shining among global counterparts and chains. Slowly growing and expanding in the region. Proudly homegrown and homemade right in Cebu – where the heart sings.
By RICHARD RAMOS