Attention Poblacion regulars! Save the date as the Z Hostel group, in collaboration with the team behind Kampai, is geared up once again with their awesome street party events! On October 31, fun will fill up the streets of this beloved neighborhood for “Ready Poblacion One: A Z Street Halloween Special powered by Budweiser.” The event will feature live bands and DJs, food booths, a Parade of Costume contest, and many more surprises!
It has been 2 years since the whole world came to an unexpected halt due to COVID-19. But this is it — we are finally fully OPEN once again to welcome all of you our loyal Z Hostel friends, beloved guests, and first-time visitors and travelers!
Many destinations around the Philippines are also opening up to tourists again, with eased out restrictions and requirements. With Manila as the country’s main landing destination from other countries, make Z Hostel your home before jumping off to our other breathtaking islands, beaches, and cities.
Safe, secure, social
Since the start of the pandemic, Z Hostel has fully committed to the government’s mandates on health and sanitation protocols. Our staff and long-term guests’ safety was utmost priority. Now that several restrictions have been lifted, Z Hostel is fully opening our doors, rooms, and social spaces for unlimited good vibes — just as we have always done over the years.
Choose to stay in our spacious and well-sanitized accommodations: private rooms ideal for an intimate and comfortable stay, or mixed dorms (with an all-female option, too) perfect for those who have missed meeting wonderful souls on the road and potential travel buddies.
Our common areas built for socialization are also back in full swing. Nothing beats sipping on our signature cocktails and jamming to our guest DJ’s and bands while soaking up the jaw-dropping Makati skyline up at our Roof Deck. We have also opened the Sun Deck, with a gorgeous 360-degree view of the city — perfect for a sunset session with friends or chilling under the stars!
Travel and entry requirements
All fully-vaccinated travelers from non-visa-required countries are no longer required to provide negative COVID-19 test results, but must be able to present proof of complete COVID-19 vaccination and at least one booster shot, administered at least 14 days before departure from origin. Additionally, no quarantine upon arrival is required anymore for fully-vaccinated visitors.
Start packing your bags, make that bucket list, and get ready to fly! We can’t wait to have you back at Z Hostel shower y’all with good vibes! Book through our website or send us a message through [email protected].
This story is part of a feature series that aims to share good news happening in some of the Philippines’ major tourist destinations during the COVID-19 pandemic. We acknowledge the challenges and difficulties the residents of these destinations (and everyone else, basically) face during this time, but a little reminder on the good things may help get us through this situation. We hope you are reading this from a safe place.
Just this July, Palawan has been named the “best island in the world” by a renowned international travel publication — an accolade that is not new for this country’s “Last Frontier.” Time and again, Palawan’s idyllic beaches, deserted islands, and pristine underground river (one of the world’s longest) have been celebrated by both local tourists and foreign travelers. But as the world experiences the COVID-19 pandemic and tourism is at a halt, how has life been in this slice of paradise?
We have reached out to residents at El Nido — a Palawan municipality famed for its stunning lagoons, turquoise waters, and towering limestone cliffs — to share how the island and their lives have changed since the lockdowns have been implemented.
A Crowded Jewel, A Quiet Place
Prior to the pandemic, “El Nido was going into peak season, it was noisy, busy, and crowded,” shares Ann Pansinsoy, born and raised in El Nido and a member of the Tao Philippines expedition group. Angela Alvarez, a proud Palawena hotelier, shares the same sentiment, adding that the island was jam packed with tourists and construction was here and there. For these locals who have spent most, if not all, of their lives in what used to be a quiet and serene island, the surge of tourism in El Nido has definitely changed the atmosphere of their hometown.
On the flipside, some of the El Nido residents we interviewed came from different places and even from outside the country, in search of a more peaceful place they can call home. It took a friend’s invitation to visit El Nido (and many back-and-forths after) that made Jimmy Gustilo, once a Makati local for almost half a decade, finally “plant his roots” in the island — somewhere definitely quieter than the bustling Manila metropolis. Astrid-Marie Stretti, a French national, decided to pack her bags and move to El Nido so she could raise her son close to nature.
Paradise on lock
When news that lockdowns and quarantine measures were to be put in place by the government, Shallah Montero was really on her way to El Nido for a work project. Little did she know that her one-month plan in the island would now become six — and counting. “I couldn’t bear thinking that I would be stuck in my apartment in Manila, so I purposely flew to El Nido to work on the project. For the rest, I didn’t have a plan.” Letti Meringue, born and raised in Manila and studied in Paris, moved back to the country with the intention of making El Nido her new home. “Honestly, I’m very grateful for the timing, I wouldn’t have wanted to be in the city during lockdown,” she shares.
When borders were finally closed, “it became like a ghost town,” shares Jimmy. Most locals worked in the tourism sector — hotels, restaurants, cafes — and most of the people out and about in the island were travelers, so when almost everything got closed, so did the entire town.
Tourists flew back home, while some chose to stay, housed by hotels and hostels that offered them discounted rates. Astrid and Letti recall that they cannot go out of their houses for more than 2 months, except for one person with a pass to buy food and essentials.
Soul Kitchens & Community Markets
Frustration was inevitable, as with the rest of the country and the world, as life took a turn when COVID-19 hit. But for Angela, this was something “out of (her) control” so she diverted her thoughts into actions to help her family and the community. Through a project called Palawan Bayanijuan, tourism frontliners and families in 7 municipalities including Puerto Princesa, Coron, San Vicente, and El Nido were given care packages. Another project she is involved in is the Palawan Local Market, a digital platform helping local farmers and producers sell and market their produce to consumers in the area.
Shallah, together with a friend, helped execute a community market as part of “Angkan sa Angkla” — a brand of events organized by the Angkla Beach Club in Nacpan Beach. The goal was to create a space for online sellers to offer their products personally, especially those who have started small projects and businesses during the quarantine period. “It was a success! A lot of people came and bought from various vendors and built networks. Some vendors even sold out! It was beautiful to see people support each other,” Shallah quips with much joy.
A charitable meal distribution program was also organized by Astrid and her family. Through monetary and produce donations from individuals in the Philippines and friends abroad, they have been cooking meals everyday for El Nido locals and residents since June 8. Their Communal Pot project has already shared 15,000 meals to the community. “Almost 50 locals volunteered to help us cook and serve the meals. There are many good things that happened to El Nido and the people. I think the most important one is solidarity.”
No one has definitely prepared for what has come. Jobs have been lost, businesses have closed down, and lives are placed in danger and uncertainty — until, maybe, a vaccine is finally approved and available. But seeing the good does not necessarily mean turning a blind eye on the challenges. As Shallah puts it, “I am truly lucky (being in El Nido). But this does not mean I am ignorant to the issues my country’s been facing, I keep myself aware of what’s happening and continue on.”
As El Nido, along with most cities, provinces, and destinations in the Philippines, has been on lockdown, it also meant for a paradise of healed seas, strong communities, and hopeful people to be unlocked.
“We allow our islands to rest and prepare it once we open our doors to tourists again,” Angela shares, looking at the bright side. Ann, who has seen El Nido in its most pristine state having lived on the island before the tourism boomed, says, “one of the good things I’ve observed during this period was the healing of nature. It’s so quiet, there’s no rush. It’s so peaceful.” Shallah, even though she’s just a visitor, echoes this sentiment, “the locals got to see its beauty and serenity once more. They got to take a break from work and actually enjoy El Nido for what it truly is. ” Astrid has also seen some turtles in one of the busiest beaches in El Nido, “since it is not so crowded now, they can swim freely. From ashore, we can witness a much cleaner sea.”
Ann also appreciates how the stranded tourists became like locals, “tourists slowly changed their way of life and thinking. Everyone in El Nido got contented with what’s only present and available in the island, not asking for more.” Moreover, locals and foreigners have turned their backyards into vegetable gardens and greenhouses, and businessmen and hoteliers turned to farming as well, according to Angela. Letti also shares that as the quarantine rules became less strict, families and neighbors have started gathering for barbecues, and children have reunited for arts and crafts.
Making the most of the situation, many locals have also turned their hobbies into income-generating activities. Jimmy shares that one of his friends in the island used to just bake for fun, but now has become a full-time business — an “expansion of creativity and skills” this pandemic has taught us to do so. Food selling and delivery have also become a hit in El Nido during the quarantine period, as with other places in the Philippines.
Always will be ‘The Nest’
The caves inside the towering limestone karsts that abound in the island are home to tiny swiftlets that build edible nests out of their saliva, hence the name El Nido, which means “the nest” in Spanish. And like these birds coming together and navigating their way through the dark cave walls to build a home and raise their young, the people of El Nido have formed stronger bonds and relationships throughout this dark, challenging time. From locals guiding stranded tourists to foreigners cooking for locals and many things in between, “it was heartwarming seeing everyone in El Nido help, take care, and depend on each other,” Astrid gushes.
Timeless and timely — Dr. Paul Dumol’s masterpiece “Ang Paglilitis kay Mang Serapio” celebrates its golden anniversary this year and will be staged in The Ruins, Poblacion by the Theatre Titas and Duende Theatre, in cooperation with Z Hostel and PLUD.
With a theme that is very relevant more than ever, the story — considered to be the Philippines’ first post-modernist play — follows the trial of Mang Serapio, an elderly beggar accused of harboring a child. This affects the communal income of the federacion, the association of beggars and as the story unfolds, the audience will see the flaws of the federacion’s justice system. Sounds all too familiar?
The Ruins provide the perfect ambience and stage for the play — dark, mysterious, captivating — and mirrors the gripping story of this masterpiece. Director Juan Ekis will place the audience as part of the courtroom together with the other characters of the play.
“Ang Paglilitis kay Mang Serapio” will happen at the Ruins on September 7, 8, 9, 14, 15 and 16, 2018, with performances at 8PM on all dates and 3PM matinées on Saturdays and Sundays.
For sponsorship, show buy, press, or marketing concerns, email Theatre Titas at [email protected]
The Theatre Titas is a group of individuals passionate about theatre and which aims to stage a diverse selection of works from classical to new and experimental. They just recently successfully staged their production, a twin-bill feature called “What’s in the Dark?”
Duende Theatre, for its part, believes that art should not be limited to traditional venues to which they have successfully achieved this by staging shows in alternative spaces like hotel rooms, coffee shops, and restaurants.