Blog | Z Hostel - Part 2
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Why you should not skip Port Barton in Palawan

When thinking about idyllic beach and island destinations in the Philippines, the usual list will definitely include Boracay, Cebu, Bohol, Siargao, and Palawan. And talking about the most latter, it’s always Puerto Princesa, Coron, and El Nido that doesn’t leave the bucketlist. But what if we tell you there’s one Palawan spot you’re probably missing out and that you shouldn’t? Welcome to Port Barton.

Photo by Instagram user @ardnaxela.wolf

Although not that known to many travelers yet, Port Barton has become a favorite stop for the few who have extra time and curiosity in their hands. Everything in this little coastal village spells C-H-I-L-L. Imagine a town dotted with little huts and simple houses and lined with tall palms and fishermen boats.

Photo by Instagram user @nabmen

The village is roughly about 2-3 hours north of Puerto Princesa. Because infrastructure is not fully developed, getting there and around is still a challenge for the tourists whose main criterion is comfort. But for those who like to rough it, Port Barton is more than worth it. There are a few islands nearby the village that round up your stopover: Cagnipa Island, Paradise Island, Inaledelan, and German Island. These offer immaculate white sand, cerulean waters, and rich marine life ideal for snorkeling.

Photo by Instagram user @virg_claerhout

The best thing about Port Barton is it still remains sleepy: no big developments, no luxury restaurants, and no mass tourists like the ones you see in the more famous Philippine tourist spots. Also, the small establishments like bungalows and eateries are owned by locals.  And we hope it remains the same way — it’s the total local experience you want to get being in this slice of paradise.

A gentle reminder to always be a responsible and conscious tourist in any of the places you visit here in the country, especially the beaches, islands, and mountains. They are home both to the locals and the wildlife that inhabit them. 

Featured Photo by Instagram user @portbartonlife

Connecting the World, One Pancake at a Time

Ask anyone what connects us all and you’d probably hear “music” or “love.” But for one Dutch guy, it’s something else. Pancakes! Wait, pancakes? Yes, you heard it right!

Couchsurfer, business consultant, and world nomad Robin Vogelaar has forged connections and established relationships in more than 40 countries and 200 cities by cooking pancakes. He has been organizing Dutch Pancake Nights around the world with the simple mission of bringing everyone together while enjoying food he and a lot of people across the world love to eat.

Last October 27, Manila finally got a taste of this wonderful event and The Ruins in Poblacion, Makati gracefully hosted the celebration and welcomed locals and foreign tourists alike to a night of conversations, drinks, and of course, pancakes. The folks from The Ruins and Z Hostel also generously prepared free toppings such as chocolate syrup, peanut butter, fresh fruits, nuts and sprinkles that definitely added color and excitement to the Dutch pancakes.

What’s most interesting about the event is that it was all for free! And talking to Robin for a few moments, he shared that he organizes the event and buys all the ingredients for the pancakes out of his own pockets as part of his unconventional way of living traveling around the world.

He simply enjoys seeing everyone have a good time and inspiring others to live extraordinarily. True enough, some of his guests in his past events have turned out to do similar gatherings: a Vietnamese lady started her own Spring Rolls Nights in different countries!

Robin is an active member of the Couchsurfing community and also engages with different organizations as part of his consultancy work. So who knows, in your next travel abroad, you’ll bump into Mr. Pancake guy himself as he connects the world, one pancake at a time.

IN PHOTOS | Pobrasyon: Bacardi Halloween Party in Poblacion, Makati

Who knew terror actually spells F-U-N? Last October 31, the historic streets of Don Pedro in Poblacion, or now popularly known as Z Street, was filled with enchantment, spectacle, and mystery as Bacardi took their signature House Party into one giant street revelry! In partnership with the Z Hostel group, they staged Pobrasyon, a Halloween street party celebration of epic proportions!

Haunting ghouls and bloodied skulls, sexy vixens and tattooed hunks, colorful unicorns and iconic superheroes, locals and foreigners alike definitely brought their a-game with their costumes as they stepped into a world of Filipino mysticism and folklore that night.

The entire street was immersed in mystical ambience in true, bold Bacardi fashion.

From the roofdeck of Z Hostel, to the attic of the Apartment, and the historic walls of the Ruins, the revelers enjoyed heart-stopping beats, show-stopping performances, and immersive ambience from night ’til dawn.

The Ruins held stage for She’s Only Sixteen, Taken By Cars, and DJ Jess Milner. Z Hostel Rooftop was in high spirits with performances from Allan Malabanan, Mike Lavarez, and Mike Sviesa. Fun souls entered a new dimension in The Apartment and danced to Dimencia, BP Valenzuela, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and Some Guy.

Pobrasyon was another epic event brought by the Z Hostel Group, following their equally unforgettable celebrations of Cinco de Mayo and Repoblacion: A Philippine Independence Day Party. So better be there next Halloween because it’s definitely bound to be one helluva party!

Perfect gift ideas for people who love to travel

It’s the season of giving! But travel is forever. So whether you’ve been scouting for the perfect Christmas presents or just need ideas all year round, here are the best gifts you can give for your travel buddies, wanderlust-loving loved ones, or even for yourself:

Adventure Vulture

Insulated Water Bottles

Photo credit: Instagram user @myvesxel

Hydration is key for those who are always on the road. And the best part would be keeping your drinks cold or your coffee hot for a long time the whole day! Plus, you avoid having to buy disposable water bottles and coffee cups all the time.

Microfiber Towel

Photo credit: Instagram user @aquazorbph

Soft and lightweight, absorbs water easily, and dries very quickly — a microfiber towel is a must for the active traveler.

Digital Luggage Scale

Photo credit: Instagram user @andrewjamesuk

For those who like to skip long lines waiting for luggage and avoid excess baggage fees, a digital luggage scale will always keep the adventurer in check!

Easy, Breezy

Beach Mat

Photo credit: Instagram user @lifeonthesands

For the sun worshippers, tanning session on the beach or just lazing around during tropical afternoons are a must and a trusty beach mat is the ultimate BFF. Make it a sand-repellant one so you can help save the beaches, too!

Tropical Shirts

Photo credit: Instagram user @lawudlife

They’re not just shirts you take to the beach, they also guarantee you bring the beach vibe from shore to city or wherever destination you may be!

Hand bags

Photo credit: Instagram user @pedritamnl

Carry around travel essentials in style with hand bags made from sustainable, organic material.

Memory Junkie

Scratch Map

Photo credit: Instagram user @reluxshop_com

Oh the joy of ticking places off bucket lists and reminiscing wonderful memories! Scratching them off a map is on another level of excitement though!

Power Bank

Photo credit: Instagram user @thetentcommandments

We’re told to soak in the moment when traveling. But you also don’t want to get caught with empty batteries when those dolphins are dancing beside your boat or finding your friends in the middle of busy Tokyo!

Universal Travel Adapter

Photo credit: Instagram user @searchingc

One of the most overlooked yet very essential item when traveling. This is the perfect gift especially for those who like crossing countries and continents! Plug away!

How to Travel Smart: Skip Long Lines, Extra Charges, and Baggage Fees

You’ve pictured it all perfectly in your mind: the most-awaited holiday vacation, your first backpacking trip, a weekend getaway. All smiles and all fun, and then reality hits you: flight delays for hours, getting stranded in the middle of nowhere, bed bugs in your dormitory, and some of the biggest travel horrors: extra fees and charges!

Traveling around does come with a price but there are many ways to travel smart and avoid the hassle brought about by waiting times, excess baggage fees, and other extra charges along the way:

Pack Light and Use Cabin-Sized Luggage

A great travel all starts with you. Plan not just your itinerary but your things as well! Packing light can really get you a long way and the best part is many luggage brands have already launched bags with size and dimensions that you can fit into overhead cabins as approved by international standards. Not only does it take weight off your back but you’ll definitely be already outside the airport hailing a cab while everyone else is still waiting for their luggage at the conveyor belt area.

Know the Limits and Max Out Carry-on Baggage Allowance

You don’t want to be that person opening up their luggage in front of everyone in the check-in counter, putting on layers of clothes, and throwing away some just so you decrease your luggage weight. Prevention is better than cure! So know your airline’s baggage limits beforehand and have a digital weighing scale at home. And max out that carry-on allowance if you need to!

Check-in Online

Having carry-only luggage can also give you the power to just check-in online and skip the long lines at the airport check-in counters. Get in, go straight to the boarding gates, and catch a few zzz’s while waiting for your flight.  Some airports also have check-in kiosks at the airport if you only have carry-on luggage with you.

Go digital with books

The smell of paper. The feeling of flipping through pages. And that handy shade for your face while sunbathing. Yes, nothing can replace actual books but for purposes of lightening your load, digital books and e-devices are friends. Podcasts are also a great way to kill time and learn continuously as you travel along the road.

Switch to zero-fee cards or withdraw upon arrival

Most banks charge a minimum of 3% when you transact abroad. And that’s a lot. But there are some ways you can avoid these charges. Firstly, apply for a 0% foreign transaction fee credit card before you travel, if your bank does have that option. Money exchange can also hurt, as you lose so much in the currency conversion process. So call up your bank before leaving and have your card activated for withdrawal outside your country. Lastly, most Mastercard and Visa cards are widely accepted around the world so best to have one and carry it around.

Where to go this 2019: Best of world travel

Brand new year, new level of wanderlust. Traveling the world has never become this easy and accessible and more places are waiting to be explored for the first time or revisited with fresh eyes. We’ve rounded up this list of the best in world travel so you know where to go this 2019:

Matera, Italy

A prehistoric-looking city carved in rock atop a hill with natural cave dwellings that housed inhabitants from 7000 years ago. Matera is a sight to behold, with a history that’s meant to be told. This city used to be called the “Shame of Italy” as the sassi, or the cave dwellings, had people live in darkness and poverty. But the tables have turned and now they are tourism and property hotspots home to galleries, hotels, and posh hideaways. In 1993, Matera was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And this 2019, it will be announced a European Capital of Culture — with musical performances and cultural programs kicking off in January in its charming and romantic streets.


Adventure awaits on this southern frontier of South America. Talk about epic landscapes in the form of snow-capped Andes Mountains, glass-like rivers, and towering jagged peaks. It is vast, empty, and silent, nothing short of a dramatic experience unlike any part of the world. Also, the world’s longest hiking trail, the Route of Parks, just opened. It stretches out to more than 1,700 miles and passes through 17 national parks of Patagonia. And the best reason to travel this 2019 there? On July, a total eclipse will be seen arcing over the entire region.

Tasmania, Australia

It’s hard not to look back at its dark and grim history but Tasmania has molded itself in many ways forward-looking, exciting, and now becoming Australia’s new tourism darling. It has a wilderness defined by handsome coastlines home to dolphins and penguins; an arts and events mecca from Taste of Tasmania to the out-of-this-world Museum of Old and New Art; and a produce haven that once was just known for apples but now gives the world a sensational taste of truffles, seafood, and wines.

Kathmandu, Nepal

Equal parts intoxicating and fascinating, there is magic in between the chaotic streets, infamous smog, and maze-like backstreets of Kathmandu, Nepal. It was shaken by a devastating earthquake in 2015, leaving historic sites and holy temples to rubles. But today, the city is reconstructing and rebuilding itself, revealing that its timeless heritage, intricate Buddhist temples, and overload of sights and smells have never gone — they just needed to be found and beloved by the world.

George Town, Malaysia

Nothing quite like the combination of distinct cultures, architecture, and culinary experiences that is George Town in Pulau Pinang, Malaysia. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, George town is a feast to the eyes: oriental culture, indigenous flavor, and Western architecture with a burgeoning street art threading the different districts; as it is a celebration to the palate with Chinese, Indian, and Malay cuisines stirring up the town into a culinary hotspot that has been continuously as having the best food this side of the world.

Manila For Boracay: A Movement for Boracay’s Locals and Employees

The world’s best island, the most beautiful beach, a paradise on earth — is officially closed for now.  Boracay Island is under rehabilitation for six months to give way for its healing from degrading effects of mass tourism in the last years. And as this is good news for the environment, the locals and residents are facing the challenge of losing job opportunities and means of livelihood, which are mostly heavily dependent on tourism.

It is with this in mind that Z Hostel and other concerned individuals have gathered and created Manila for Boracay, a movement to provide opportunities for Boracay locals, residents, and employees as well as aid establishments and organizations in movement of their goods here in Manila and the rest of the Philippines. Read the entire statement below:

This movement acts as a platform for the following activities, at no cost:

  • If you are an establishment here in Manila or any part of the Philippines and would need people for your team, you can send us your available job positions and we will post them in our website
  • If you are a Boracay local, resident, or employee looking for job opportunities while Boracay is closed, send us your resume and we will do our best to match this with a job opening
  • If you are a Boracay establishment who has perishable goods and other stocks you want to sell so they will not go to waste, send us a list and we will open them to possible buyers here in Manila or other parts of the Philippines
  • If you are a Boracay artist, performer, or establishment who want to join events in Manila to keep the spirit of Boracay alive, send us a message and we will see any possible event where we could invite you.

Manila for Boracay is willing to hear you out. Let us how we can help you in any way.

Repoblacion ng Pilipinas: A Philippine Independence Day Street Party of Historic Proportions

It could not be said any better: The Filipino spirit is, indeed, weather-proof. It was a rain-soaked Tuesday night but the torrential downpour did not stop locals and foreign travelers alike to join in the Philippine Independence Day celebration at the “ Repoblacion ng Pilipinas.” It was a street party of historic proportions!

Group and in cooperation with the other establishments of Z Street turned the streets of Poblacion, Makati into a visual spectacle of everything Filipino: Philippine flags, banderitas, street food, folk dances, and the brand of fun only Filipinos can bring out.

The night officially started with a full marching band trooping down the streets of Alfonso and Don Pedro, making way for an amazing reenactment of the independence declaration on a balcony featuring the cast of upcoming historic movie “Goyo” and the singing of the national anthem — a brief but meaningful moment given the trying times of the country today.

The Marikina Dance Guild, despite the occasional rain showers, showed nothing but the brilliance, grace, and fun of Filipino folk dances throughout the night, especially the heart-stopping Tinikling to which guests took turns in trying it out.

Establishments like Agimat and Alamat also had Original Pilipino Music performances in their pocket stages as well as a showcase of modern cocktails inspired by Filipino tastes and featuring homegrown rum Don Papa. Guests reveled through the energetic performances by Kjwan, Razorback, and Raymund Marasigan of Eraserheads, CRWN, The Diegos, and upcoming band Lucy Dee across different bars in Poblacion.

What’s a party without food? And how amazing was the concept of The Ruins to have gathered the most talented chefs of the country in one roof! Each one of them reinvented Filipino food classics into the most sumptuous modern versions.

The 12 Chefs who joined in the celebration were Kalel Ervin Demetrio (Alamat ng Agimat – Mahiwagang Samalamig), Nino Laus (Bibinka and Sisig Corn Dog), Justin Yenko (“Fiery Kiniing-Chori Sliders” Native Black Pig, Kiniing, Charcoal Bun, 3 Chilis), Patrick Go (Loaded Tusok Tusok), Mikel Zaguirre (Lumpiang Sinigang), Francis Lim, Kalel Chan (Dry Papaitan Soft Taco), JP Anglo (Bistek Sandwich with Spicy Crispy Cheese), Ed Bugia (Chicken crossing the road), Mikko Aspiras (Dirty Ice cream with Fish sauce Cotton candy), Dedet de la Fuentes (Sosy na Inihaw na Mais), and Jason Go (Fried Coconut Milk Gelato with Suman Moron and Peanut Sesame Brittle).

Fresh from the success of staging a jam-packed Cinco De Mayo celebration just one month ago, Z Hostel and the rest of the Poblacion estbalishments have once again turned this humble neighborhood, this time for the country’s celebration of independence, into one epic street party that would definitely go down in history. ‘Til the next one!

Wine It Up: 7th Aperitivo at the Apartment

It was a rainy Thursday night but it was also pouring wines and good times at the Aperitivo at the Apartment — already on its 7th installment!

What started out as a test idea to introduce a piece of Italian lifestyle in Manila has now become a well-attended event in the metro. You just can’t say no to a night celebrating some of the best Italian wine, delicious antipasti, and live music sets from local and international artists, right?

Started by Italians, who have found a home in Manila, Fabio Urbisaglia and Donatello Montrone, the Aperitivo has been gathering a growing crowd event after event. In addition to their classic list of wines that includes Elfo Rosso Negroamaro, Elfo Bianco Chardonnay, and Elfo Rosato Negroamaro, the guys have also started introducing Laicale Chardonnay and Terragnolo Negroamaro, both of which are barrique wines, and a sparkling wine called Muller Thurgau Sicilia.

Donatello still heads the kitchen, whipping up an antipasti feast that is truly delizioso!

This time, guests enjoyed cold cuts and cheese, penne con pesto siciliano, rigatoni tartufo e pancetta, frittata, and the irresistible porchetta.

The Apartment’s relaxed and cozy vibe already sets the tone of the night but add in some soulful beats and the whole atmosphere turns up a notch. Jason Sung opened the night and DJ Michael Berth segued into some sexy Latino tunes.

If you think you missed out on all the fun, no need to worry. The guys behind Aperitivo is already cooking up the next installment on July 19! It’s going to be another fun night of good food and wine, great company, and an awesome time as Marco Mei, a Taiwan-based Italian DJ, and Beach Please of Time Manila will be on the music deck. And word is, the Italian Ambassador is gracing the event. Ci vediamo!

Lobo Filipino Tavern: Honest, homegrown food that packs a punch

Global trends say Filipino cuisine is the next big thing this 2018. Even the big names in the food world like Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern agree. And what better news is that a relatively new restaurant whipping up Filipino classics and favorites with surprises in between has become the newest addition to the lovely neighborhood that is Poblacion: enter Lobo Filipino Tavern.

A brainchild of celebrity-turned-restaurateur Kian Kazemi, Lobo is an homage to one side of his roots being his Ilongga mother. He has spent years creating and developing restaurants like Persia Grill and Kite Kebab Bar that represent his other half — it’s time to showcase his Filipino bloodline.

He doesn’t like calling it Filipino food with a twist. Instead, it his take on well-loved Filipino dishes — family favorites added with his dash of creativity, spoonful of surprise, and every ounce of passion. But this spunk translates even to the restaurant’s interiors which Kian himself mostly envisioned: wooden finishes, capiz shells, warm lighting, and local artworks all reminiscent of a traditional Filipino ancestral home.

The food is simple and honest. Lobo’s offerings do not veer away from homegrown dishes the Filipino palates are used to and familiar with. But there are surprises in between making the dining experience new and exciting.

While the servings may seem small for a family or big group, the flavors pack a lot of punch. We started off with Sinuglaw, a combination of sinugba and kinilaw, grilled pork belly on a bed of tuna ceviche in coconut vinegar, lime, and mangoes that is the definition of a medley of flavors and textures.

Next we sampled the Kesong Puti sticks, carabao white cheese that is breaded, fried, placed on sticks, and then grilled. Isn’t that super interesting? The Pork Sisig Tacos was also a great way to entice the tastebuds.

The stars of the dining table are really the bangus or milkfish (which was surprisingly big for its price!) grilled to perfection and the Tadyang ng Baka or beef short ribs slow-cooked in two ways.

It’s hard to find restaurants serving up these well-loved Filipino dishes our mothers used to prepare at home (especially for people living the fast-paced Manila life) at a good value without compromising the taste. And Lobo has done more than just that.

Complementing the flavorful mains are the vegetables which also did not fall short in terms of taste. Their Laing (taro leaves in coconut milk) with dilis (anchovies) is to die for.

It is creamy but not soggy, unlike versions in other restaurants. The Gising-Gising is also really good as the green beans stayed crunchy even when soaked in creamy coconut milk.

There are more dishes offered at Lobo and they even have menu sets so you can sample a little bit of all your homegrown favorites. Kian may even pop up sometimes and with his quirky antics to life lessons in between those bites, your time at Lobo is nothing short of surprising. What else can be more comforting than a taste of what’s familiar and a sense of adventure in one, right?

Lobo Filipino Tavern | 4898 Durban Corner Polaris Street, Poblacion, Makati City

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