08 Oct2007

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I chose to write two separate posts on Sitio Remedios for a number of reasons… but perhaps the most compelling reason is that everything I had read so far about the compound/hotel was so glaringly positive, and yet my own reaction (and that of 3 others who stayed with me) to the place and our experience during our overnight stay would definitely prompt me to write a “review” at the other end of the spectrum. If you haven’t read my first post, it is here. If you are curious, you may also want to read this link, this link and this link before continuing further down this post.

My starting assumption is this. Sitio Remedios is now open to the public. It presents itself as a hotel or a bunch of homes that allow you to stay overnight for a price. This is NOT about going off to visit some friends and relatives and being billetted in their private compound. I do not know the doctor who owns the sitio and as a regular paying guest, I would expect to receive reasonable value for the price charged. At nearly PHP13,500 (with service charges) or USD300 for a two bedroom house that slept 4, I can tell you that our expectations were running high. Actually, in retrospect, the figure should really have been closer to PHP17,000 or nearly USD400 and I will explain this later. At these amounts, I would naturally expect quite a bit. In the Philippines, of the beach side resorts I have stayed at, heard of or would like to visit, Amanpulo in Palawan is perhaps up to 80% more costly, Pansukian in Siargao is up to 50% more, El Nido charges a similar price (though a smaller room), and the two top hotels we tried in Boracay (Discovery Shores and Friday’s) were both priced similarly to this hotel.

Let me start with the concept of a “Heritage Hotel or Property.” Typically, you would expect such a moniker for a property that has existed for generations, and had been passed down from ancestor to heir or in the case of churches or towns, these are places with a long sense of history. The Heritage Society of the Philippines, for example, tries to preserve notable structures or sites where they originally stood. So to me, I personally think that Sitio Remedios described as a Heritage Hotel is a bit of a stretch. I am not an architect, nor a heritage preservationist, nor a specialist in antiques…but here are my personal views anyway. What instantly bothered me about the place is that it didn’t seem at all genuine. Despite one of the links above stating that pieces of homes were “painstakingly numbered and transferred and re-assembled,” I suspect there was a whole lot of circa 2006 newly mixed cement in these homes. Some homes had more “old” wooden pieces than others, but I think there was a lot of mongrelization and mixing of house parts going on. Take our Balay na Batac, for example. It is typically rare that a truly old home would have living quarters on the first floor, with wide open windows and capiz shutters that any old burglar could enter through, so I wonder where that design came from. I felt that many of the homes, as a result of their transfer and “upgrading,” were now bizarrely unreal in proportions as far as the size of the rooms, ceilings, flooring, windows, bathrooms, etc. are concerned. I totally agree with a friend who has travelled the world and is a staunch advocate of Philippine tourism, who described Sitio Remedios as “kinda like Disneyland…I was not impressed.” There seemed to be a whole lot of creativity and imagination added on to old house parts…

I was particularly bothered by some architectural details such as the addition of ceilings that made some homes look like they were built in the 1960’s with painted plywood ceilings, doors from different sources used in the same house, windows built but with shutters that didn’t quite cover the entire window, starkly unpainted galvanized iron roofs on all the homes which cannot in any way replicate the possibly tile roofs of the original homes… Besides the structures themselves, one can best describe the furnishing and art as being eclectic, a mixture of styles, eras, sources, etc. Eclecticism can work, but it didn’t work for me in the Balay na Batac. The mixture of furniture, art, and knick-knacks reminded me more of the recent activity where I had to clean out several of my ancestors homes, rather than a carefully selected and curated collection of art and antiques. Gosh, maybe I shouldn’t have thrown out 80 boxes of “junk” and instead opened up a bed and breakfast in Cebu. Furniture from the 1950’s and earlier mixed with newer stuff, some santos, depression glass, artworks from known adults and some budding child artists, gaudy chandeliers, old gas lamps, high chairs, day beds, crochet placemats, flea market finds, etc. It can work for some, it definitely did nothing for me. But this is only my opinion, and others may surely disagree. But what follows are the details that can sink any hotel “experience.” And these, for the most part, were mostly FACTUAL, and less opinion…

The lamp askew in the first photo up top summarizes our Sitio Remedios experience. There was an incredible disregard for details, for proper housekeeping, and for making a guest’s stay truly comfortable. The lamp askew is photographed exactly as we found it. It worked, just barely, with a very low wattage bulb and a loose plug, thus making reading a book in bed impossible, without the use of other lighting options. The lamp itself was apparently a purchase from a thrift shop, for PHP2,500 or so for a pair, and the price tag was left carelessly on the front base of the piece, the little white tag in the photo. Now what possible excuse could one conjure up to explain why you would have this lamp askew on the bedside table with the price tag left on? And stickers and tags and such were a continuing theme throughout the house…

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In the living room, for example, which featured two ostentatious chandeliers that I would have thought too showy for Ilocos, a closer inspection yielded a “Made in Spain” sticker on each chandelier (obviously of recent manufacture, unless the sticker was 50 years old). Large cobwebs with live spiders added to the pseudo antique feel, however.

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Also in the living room, were several antiques mixed with knick-knacks like this depression era pressed blue glass, on a crochetted placemat, on an oldish hat/coat rack with drawer, with circa 1990’s painted fish-shaped ceramic piggy banks?! Nearby were old glass bottles stored under the stairs, a large santo in front of a mirror and the impressive stairs…

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The kitchen on the first floor had a wide window through which plates could be washed and dried in an old fashioned sink like area. But the capiz windows only covered 70% of the window, leaving a huge area for which mosquitos and other bugs could enter the home all day and night. This wouldn’t have really been a big deal, had the view through this window not been an unfinished hollow block wall and the compressors of two split type airconditioners wedged just a foot or two outside the windows, their exhaust fans pointing into the house. As soon as you turned on the airconditioners, their hot exhaust was blown directly back into the kitchen and living room. So you could have cool bedrooms but a rather hot living room?! And why there was an abundance of used old newspapers on the bamboo kitchen ledge, I wouldn’t know.

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I realize we were in Marcos country and the owner of the resort hails from Batac, the hometown of Ferdinand, but somehow leaving as tabletop reading material for guests, this particular book by Imelda Marcos struck me as being a bit odd. I am not a fan of the Marcoses, and I would also have considered a book written by or about Mike Arroyo equally uninteresting, but it may have been a bit more “delicate” or PC to add this book to a wider library of reading materials covering several regional topics and authors instead. Complementing Imelda’s Ideas (Volume II, no less, what pray tell was in Volume I?), was an old copy of Metro Magazine, which had, slipped into its pages, an old wedding invitation presumably for the Doctor, that detailed the arrangements for a wedding in Quezon province some years prior?!

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At USD300 a night, I do expect a comfortable bed. Even hotels such as the Marco Polo in Cebu at USD80 a night have stunningly comfortable spring mattresses with liners and good quality sheets. At Sitio Remedios, the large bed stripped of its thin sheet yielded a nice big Uratex foam mattress. Now, I understand that most of the country may not have the luxury of a spring mattress, but a hotel of this caliber should. The bed was therefor foam like, if you know what I mean. This is similar to beds at Kapuluan and even thinner versions at Villa Angela, but the two latter hotels charged a lot less for their rooms. The sheets on this bed were adequate, but we were only supplied with one thin woven cotton blanket (a nice native touch) that wasn’t warm enough (I suppose we should have just turned the aircon up)… Oh, and the aircon was placed right beside the bed, so despite a large bedroom, the cold air from the aircon directly hit anyone sleeping on the bed. And if I can be logical, why spend PHP70,000-80,000 for the aircon in each bedroom but scrimp on the mattress?? The beds were also regally covered with flowing mosquito nets, (thankfully, as there were some mosquitos) except that the nets didn’t fully close and wide gaps meant they were totally useless, and nothing more than a design feature. And a comment on the wooden floors of the second storey of this house…they were incredibly waxy. As though Johnsons or Yco floorwax had been spread but not polished or even properly shined with a coconut husk. There are few things as yucky as coating the soles of your feet with waxy residue. Buy a commercial floor polisher and use it, or don’t bother to wax and dry.

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Moving from the bedroom to the bath, I have to disclose that bathrooms, after the beds, are my second most important barometer of a fine hotel stay. In this case, the experience starts off with where to hang one’s clothes when you take them off, and here is a minor observation… If you are going to provide hangers, at least make an effort to match them in style and color. I realize that is an O.C. kind of comment, but aesthetics do matter.

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Now, it’s nice that hot water was an option (to be brought to you in a pail presumably) but at USD300 a night, I would EXPECT hot and cold running water as a necessary part of the package. Both hotels we stayed at in Ilocos prior to Sitio Remedios had hot and cold running water and Villa Angela cost 1/8th the price! Who wants the hassle of deciding to bathe at 9 in the evening, only to find out you have to call for hot water (but there is no intercom) so you could conceivably cross the courtyard in your birthday suit and ask the nice staff to boil some water and 20+ minutes later get a pail with hot water,l that you can now mix with the slowly flowing cold water, to get a lukewarm tabo assisted (thoughtfully provided) bath?!

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But let me get nasty with the shower arrangements. The shower head was crafted from tin and it was both rusty and provided a weak trickle of cold water. I realize it is clever to try and make things look native and original, but good grief, would it have been too hard to use store-bought fixtures in this case? After all, showers were NEVER a part of an antique ancestral home to begin with! And rusting tin fixtures just DO NOT cut it at all. Worse, the shower curtains were too short and hung just OUTSIDE the shower stall so the water would conceivably flow out onto the bathroom floor if the shower worked properly to begin with. This is just unacceptably poor design and execution. A cold shower from a rusting gripo with a tin pail and tabo is not a memorable experience, heritage or not.

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Once you emerge from your shower, you reach for your towel and here I am of two minds. First, how clever that they use the native cotton woven towels. But on the other hand, it was thin, had minimal absorbency and felt like a large dish towel. I fall into the plush towel school of hotel users, so I wasn’t thrilled with this towel that barely covered by mid-section. I can imagine a large foreigner or Filipino using this towel and it would barely make it around their waist, exposing more leg (or worse) than anyone wants to be confronted with…

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Oh, and yet another sticker moment. If you lower the cover of the toilet, you are greeted with this wonderful view of all the stickers on the water tank of the toilet. Now, this hotel opened nearly 6 months earlier, and NO ONE NOTICED these stickers and had them removed? Good grief. Never in my roughly 4,000 room nights in hotels around the planet have I come across this kind of lack of attention to detail.

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And in a final bizarre bathing moment, the architects or designers decided to add an outdoor shower to the downstairs bedroom, with a small pocket garden. My visions of the turn of the century Ilocanos bathing au naturel with tin crafted shower head just boggled the imagination. But WORSE, the downstairs outdoor bathroom was completely and utterly VISIBLE from the upstairs balcony! Many would consider me rather liberal, but I still wouldn’t want to be soaping my nether regions while someone viewed the proceedings from a few feet above my head! And I don’t have a photo, but right next door was a tightly and highly populated lot filled with several small homes… No, no, no, this outdoor shower is a Balinese 1990’s hotel idea gone bad on its arrival in Currimao.

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In addition to these photos, we had at least 3 cockroaches in the house in the span of a few hours, a large BAT that hung from the rafters on the second floor living area and anytime you turned on the lights it flapped all around the second floor and even found its way into the first floor while we were having dinner, and several live spiders and their cobweds in lights, window areas, etc. This house had no television, phones, internet, radio, etc. (which I understand worked with their austere heritage set-up). Instead, during most of the day, music was blared from the speakers in the church and regardless of whether you liked the music or not, you could hear it from all over the property. And the final photo? A goat on the property. Perhaps employed to trim the grass in a rather unkempt landscape, it instead peppered its surroundings with goat pellets…rustic but poopy.

Many of these items should never have been visible to a paying guest. All this says to me is that there is an incredible ways to go to improving this hotel’s surroundings and service levels. I do have to say that the staff we met were all very pleasant and friendly. But in my opinion there was an utter lack of management, an utter lack of attention to detail, an utter lack of understanding the concept of value for money. I would NEVER recommend that anyone visit Sitio Remedios unless things dramatically improved or the prices were cut by 50-70%. We did have a good meal cooked by their staff and I will do a separate post on that.

While checking out, I noticed a handbook for “Small Luxury Hotels of the World,” and I asked the staff why they had it… it seems they could be possibly aspiring to make it to the roster (I think Discovery Shores in Boracay has made it to that list) and I wish them well. But I would wager a pretty penny there is a lot of improvement to be had before that dream ever happens. And the last complaint? As I checked out and paid my bill and walked away with my receipt, I later (in Manila) noticed it wasn’t even an official receipt. Considering I had paid close to PHP15,000 for one night and one meal, I was frankly OUTRAGED that they did not automatically give me an official receipt. Both Villa Angela in Vigan for PHP2,000+ and Kapuluan Vista Resort in Pagudpud for PHP5,000+ gave me official receipts. What that means to me is that the cost of the stay could easily be bumped up 20-30% if you include the VAT and income tax that may not be paid as a result of this type of bookkeeping. Effectively, this was a PHP17,000 peso one-night stay if taxes were imputed.

I should mention that we did look at some of the other homes at Sitio Remedios and a few of them did seem to be better proportioned, with more appropriate or eye-pleasing furnishings and design than our Balay na Batac. They were also cheaper. But if I had to do this again, I would have driven another 45 minutes back to Vigan and stayed there for PHP2,000 and donated PHP15,000 to the Heritage Conservation Society of the Philippines

 

COMMENTS:

  1. elaine says:

    Uh oh….I guess I should take back my earlier comment on paying for a stay here than a stay in john hay(at least the Manor have comfy rooms and good breakfast)…..I was so impressed with the photos that I surely didn’t get the message on the glass being half empty! It’s the bathrooms that I’m most particular with and just seeing the photo(not considering pa the other pics) did turn me off, thumbs down, MM…

    Oct 8, 2007 | 7:00 pm

     
  2. siopao says:

    Man! you got robbed!

    Specially nowadays where a lot of cheap but good places to stay are opening up this is just unacceptable.

    I must admit that the idea was nice but the execution was poor.

    maybe the tags were left there because the items were for sale :-) (even the toilet) hahahaha.

    Oct 8, 2007 | 7:10 pm

     
  3. Myra P. says:

    If i were you, I would be hopping mad that I had to pay 17,000 for a night there. The bathroom looks terrible. Gross. I bet you wore tsinelas in the shower.

    Oct 8, 2007 | 7:35 pm

     
  4. Gina says:

    Lordy. That bathroom is a deal-breaker. I would be mortified at the sight of that photo if I were the owner. My barest requirement for a bathroom is impeccable cleanliness and from the looks of that one, it does not even seem to meet that minimum. At those rates, you should have had spa-like amenities; hot and cold shower facilities at the very least. After all, if you push the authenticity argument that far, why put airconditioners at all? And that tethered goat killed me. You saved the best for last.

    Oct 8, 2007 | 7:38 pm

     
  5. RobKSA says:

    MM I think the sitio owe you big time for such a frank review of their property. I was about to comment about paying $300 a day on your original post but decided not as I thought you like the place. I have no comment about the authenticity of the place but others like no hot water? yuck! Thanks for sharing!

    Oct 8, 2007 | 8:15 pm

     
  6. suzette says:

    whew! what a rip-off… btw, does this mean you have retrieved your old files? hooray! :)

    Oct 8, 2007 | 8:39 pm

     
  7. Marketman says:

    suzette, I have managed to recover some files, mostly photos, with the help of two experts… RobKSA, what really bothers me is the answer to this obvious question: “Did the owners bother to sleep in each and every house and room to try out what they were offering guests before they started charging for the privilege???” Gina, let’s just say I have been to modest private homes with far better bathroom facilities… Myra P., unfortunately, I didn’t bring tsinelas… hence my waxy feet coated in dust now on the icky shower floor… siopao, now that I think about it, maybe the water tank of the toilet was backwards as you would think the stickers should have been in the back of the piece… Elaine, I figured I would do two write-ups, because frankly, I have no idea what other folks who wrote such glowing posts think a good hotel should offer its guests… And now more than ever, I wonder if they PAID these rates for their stays…

    Oct 8, 2007 | 8:41 pm

     
  8. acapulco says:

    Wow–you saved us tons of money–it was in our must-go places in the philippines…what with those gorgeous reviews….thanks a lot MM!

    Oct 8, 2007 | 8:48 pm

     
  9. aggy says:

    what a sad place :(

    Oct 8, 2007 | 8:51 pm

     
  10. Nikita says:

    ….i’d freak out with the cockroaches running around… plus a bat! the bathroom was the worst.

    Oct 8, 2007 | 9:07 pm

     
  11. tinsywinsy says:

    That bathroom would have been enough to make me drive somewhere else and look for another place! I am definitely not staying here. There should be a commitee who actually go around these so called heritage sites just to make sure they they meet a certain standard considering the amount they charge. This post should be sent to the owner of sitio remedios.:)

    Oct 8, 2007 | 9:33 pm

     
  12. siopao says:

    just occurred to me:

    “The Ideas of Imelda Marcos vol I”

    Idea #1: Build an Ilocano Disneyland and overcharge for substandard amenities

    :-P

    Oct 8, 2007 | 9:34 pm

     
  13. Essa says:

    That bathroom is the stuff of nightmares!

    Oct 8, 2007 | 10:14 pm

     
  14. Trish says:

    Sonya’s Bed and Breakfast offers a waaaay better deal. They even have silk robes for the guests and their bathrooms are just so pretty, you’d want to take a bath the whole day long!!!

    Oct 8, 2007 | 10:26 pm

     
  15. Ruth says:

    One of the nicest places I have been to recently is Solana Resort in Batangas. The attention to details from the cold drinking water in one’s room to the magazines (!) in the common area show that the owners really know how to pamper their guests. And the food was incredible too.

    I am so glad you are back to your blogging – reading your site almost always relieves the stresses from a long day. Thanks a lot.

    Oct 8, 2007 | 10:35 pm

     
  16. danney league says:

    Ugh terrible place to go. I better stay in one of those cheap cottages in Puerto Galera instead of staying and puke in a horrible environment like Sitio Remedios.

    I remember few years ago, I brought 5 of my family members to Plantation Bay in Cebu. I paid $115 per night for a family suite. Their postcards really looked perfect but for a breakfast worth P5,000, it is not worth eating there. Instead I bought food outside and in that famous restaurant near Cebu’s famous cathedral and had dinner in the suite for a lot less price.

    Oct 8, 2007 | 11:00 pm

     
  17. Rowi says:

    I’m surprised that you and family stayed at all after having seen the place. I would have left in disgust and searched for the next best motel/inn. I can’t believe you got yourself ripped-off, Marketman!!! I’m sorry that you and family had to go through that experience. But I’m grateful that you’re sharing this with your readers, so that we should know, learn and be warned of such places.

    However good the intentions of the owner(s) were when the place was set-up, they had obviously forgotten that a service establishment needs a well-thought of management from a to z, preferably one who has been in the hotel business and with long experience of running a rustic, tropical resort, among others. It demands a lot of effort and thinking. One has to be in the mind of a blasé hotel guest to understand how small, simple details could completely destroy or create an impression. Problem with setting up business of this nature in the country, is that the attitude, “have money will invest in hotel or whatever business” seems to prevail, but have very little clue as to how to properly run it.

    After having seen the photo of the outdoor shower, I was reminded of a similar outdoor shower in Africa, on a safari but the shower was done with such rustic elegance that I just couldnt help but enjoy the experience. The whole arrangement wasn’t cheap but it was worth it, as the details just fell into its proper place.

    I recently came across a link from Budget Travel with an article: Sunny European Villas for $379 a week, incl. taxes. Mind you, the atmosphere alone of these villas would be worth considering a week’s stay or two. Do you smell the scent of rosmary wafting or the lavandel blooms in the air?

    Oct 8, 2007 | 11:41 pm

     
  18. Erlinda says:

    This is the kind of review I like reading. “Truthiness” is a good thing. Thank goodness you paid for your stay, and did not have to feel “beholden” to write a positive review.

    Too bad about your experience, but you have given your readers a lot of info about this hotel. Thanks for writing this up. Should we ever be in that part of the Philippines next time I come home for a visit, we will stay in another hotel. The bathroom leaves a lot to be desired.

    Oct 9, 2007 | 12:53 am

     
  19. mardie says:

    you were paying $300 a night and they CAN NOT even provide a pair of slippers? looking at their bathroom i wouldnt dare walk around on my bare feet. and the mention of cockroaches alone will turn me off this hotel. thanks for the detailed review though.

    Oct 9, 2007 | 1:25 am

     
  20. Katrina says:

    Unless I’m traveling with my family (i.e., I’m not paying), I can’t afford luxurious hotels. Many years ago, I endured VERRRRY low-end accomodations because they were dirt-cheap. So I know what it’s like to rough it, and am capable of staying in uncomfortable rooms and using less-than-clean bathrooms for the sake of cutting costs. But to do it while paying top dollar??? Unbelievable.

    Oct 9, 2007 | 3:28 am

     
  21. chi says:

    You were actually charged for this c#*p? Classic! Did you at least get a bed turndown and a chocolate on your pillow – lol? Many thanks for the honest review, saving your fellow travelers from a very pricey disappointment. On the upside, I can’t help but imagine what Fawlty Towers would have done in your situation.

    One thing for sure, I would sure as heck stay away from that surgeons’s operating table. I wouldn’t want my insides to be a victim of his inattention to detail – YIKES !!!

    Oct 9, 2007 | 4:20 am

     
  22. Ana says:

    hmmm. I’d like to say they were teething problems as the place has just opened. but at that price, the owner obviously has never been to the country’s top hotels and/or resorts to check out the ‘competition’. The bathroom always defines luxury for me and that place looks worse than the P500/night inns I’ve been to. The water cottages in Lagen, El Nido are worth the price for me (their forest rooms aren’t). And I can only dream of going to Amanpulo. Still I don’t think Sitio Remedios should consider themselves in the same league!

    Oct 9, 2007 | 4:39 am

     
  23. lojet says:

    From Wow to Eeww….ano ba yan.

    I think of this as a kind of public service MM, for saving your readers money and aggravation. Thanks.

    Oct 9, 2007 | 4:42 am

     
  24. mrs m says:

    harang talaga!
    thank you for posting this rant, mm. saves us readers from getting ripped off.
    were the timba and tabo on standby in the washroom? you know, for buhos and hugas after you do your thing. did they have a sticker which says “toilet paper available upon request”?
    ha ha ha ha, i had to LOL that you included – ideas of imelda marcos vol ii in the photos, i bet there is a vol iii – ibang klase ka rin magpatawa mm. imelda is not ilocano, is she? ha ha ha ha

    Oct 9, 2007 | 5:48 am

     
  25. cwid says:

    Those links you provided seem to describe a totally different place. Either these writers did not stay at Sitio Remedios long enough to see beyond the surface, or relied on press releases for their descriptions.

    I would have gone raving mad if I had gone through the same experience. Did you give them a good dressing down before you left?

    Oct 9, 2007 | 6:04 am

     
  26. Ebba Myra says:

    I try to make my Mission Trip to the Philippines yearly and together with my staff/volunteers we go places I have never been nor have known in advance what the accomodations was. I do asked somebody to checked on it days before we check-in and first thing I ask is a good, clean “passable” to my taste bathroom. Now I don’t want to sound like I was born rich and own a mansion with lots of maids, but bathroom is a necessity to me and so it goes. When I saw the bathroom in your post, gosh.. I told myself, I would turn around right away if the place my staff would have chosen looked like this. I would rather stay in a dinky-looking home of a family who we are ministering to and has a basic primal bathroom, but to pay $300, gosh… my ministry would be bankrupt and feel so cheated.

    Oct 9, 2007 | 6:08 am

     
  27. Marketman says:

    Hi Everyone, as for the obvious question why did we stay… for all hotels in Ilocos, we had to send an advance deposit, usually equal to half the price of the room. As a result, we had already advanced a PHP8,000 deposit to Sitio Remedios (by bank transfer, don’t think they take credit cards) which we would have forfeited if we decided to stay elsewhere that night…hence, we continued with the stay. Actually, reading your reactions, the bathroom was probably a little better than everyone seems to be thinking, but it was definitely not acceptable for the amounts charged. The outdoor shower feature was simply ill-conceived and implementedm and there was a shower option inside on the first floor as well. I do hope the Doctor who owns Sitio Remedios ireads this post (he read the first one and left a comment) and the reader’s comments as well so that he can decide whether to do something about it or not… after all, there are glowing reviews out there, that seem to describe a totally different experience altogether…

    Oct 9, 2007 | 6:20 am

     
  28. shalimar says:

    oh my maybe i should spend few months off from my work and put my expertise on housekeeping, hospitality at this place ;-)

    We paid like $100 (ok 5 years ago ) in Lombok where the resort has a very traditional aura on it but the management has eye for details and the latest gadgets are well blended in to the “old” feel.

    Oct 9, 2007 | 7:06 am

     
  29. bernadette says:

    Your very honest reviews are very important reads for people who would want to or are running provincial hotels and resort places. I also find the rates of Sitio Remedios formidable but then why not if the service is worth it? But then,(for a price like that) a lack of supplying you with hotel disposable slippers is already a point minus. Did they dare give you a rating sheet?

    Oct 9, 2007 | 8:11 am

     
  30. asunta says:

    MM, hope the owners get to read your comments so that they will improve on the service and details of the place. It looks like an interesting place but just needs a few tweaking.

    Oct 9, 2007 | 8:47 am

     
  31. Mila says:

    May I throw my two cents in? I stayed at Sitio in June for one night, rented Balay Piddig, the smaller house near or next to the one MM stayed in. We were met by the resort manager, who waited for us then took us for a tour around the place, made sure we had a freshly squeezed dalandan juice drink, and attended to our first meal by the beach. The service staff were pleasant but unobstrusive. We didn’t see any cockroaches in our rented house, although we did worry about a wasp flying around the kitchen area, and saw a coconut rat scurry around the day we left. Our bathroom looked a lot better than the photo shown above (no outdoor shower in ours). But I agree with the non-absorbent towels, and thin blankets, not to mention lack of slippers in the house. I also suggest that the owner provide a “mud room” or in this case a sand room. After hitting the beach for an hour, you’re going to track in a lot of sand into the house if there’s no place to wash up nearby. Luckily not all houses are stocked with Imelda and Marcos related reading items, I only saw them in the big house (the one MM stayed in) and the reading area by the breakfast nook. The meals are also rather expensive, we spent P400 a meal for dishes that would cost less than P100 in Manila.
    If people do decide to stay at Sitio, consider the smaller houses, they’re cosier, less expensive. And if Dr. Joven reads these comments I hope he considers the pricing structure in line with what was mentioned above. There is potential in what he’s developed, and given the choices along the Currimao beach area, I preferred the look of Sitio versus the two other resorts nearby (with hordes of Taiwanese visitors playing with neon beach balls and banana boats). Oh, and yes, get rid of the blaring music; not everyone wants to listen to chanting monks and popera.

    Oct 9, 2007 | 8:56 am

     
  32. carina says:

    yaikssss!!!! i stoppped reading this post after i saw that picture of the bathroom. bat naman ganun. argh!major turn-out.

    Oct 9, 2007 | 8:57 am

     
  33. Marketman says:

    Mila, you are right, Balay Piddig was indeed the cosiest of them all (though I didn’t see one other house that was occupied). We too were met by the very pleasant manager. And we had a wonderful miki for merienda. We were sent a pitcher of instant iced tea instead of dalandan juice… The concept overall is an interesting one, but a whole lot of detail work needs to be done to improve service levels and bring it up to the fees they are charging. They also need to consider a gardener and some hoses, not a resident goat…

    Oct 9, 2007 | 9:04 am

     
  34. palengkera says:

    que horror…

    Oct 9, 2007 | 9:13 am

     
  35. Bengski says:

    Hi MM! You’re back! and with the Part II of Sitio Remedios! Salamat sa honest review of this place. What with the bathroom, the cockroaches and the spiders… I am sooooo not staying in this place.

    Thanks again!

    Oct 9, 2007 | 9:30 am

     
  36. lee says:

    We love the big idea but we often forget about the details.

    Oct 9, 2007 | 9:33 am

     
  37. nang says:

    ay, excited pa naman sana ako. oh well.

    Oct 9, 2007 | 10:22 am

     
  38. Mandy says:

    oh my gosh, i wouldn’t even pay Php1000 a night for a bathroom like that! it’s great you were able to recover some of your files. and that you’ve switched over to a mac. i’ve not had any problems with my mac ever since i’ve had it–unlike my family’s windows-based laptop or desktop. it’ll be a breeze to learn to use a mac.

    Oct 9, 2007 | 10:50 am

     
  39. Blaise says:

    The bathroom floor looks disgusting, if I have to take shower there, I’d make sure that it would not last for over 5 minutes..

    Oct 9, 2007 | 11:57 am

     
  40. sylvia says:

    oh my god, that bathroom is pathetic!

    Oct 9, 2007 | 12:09 pm

     
  41. europe says:

    As a way of introduction I’m a European that has been living in Manila for one year already. I am not that keen on cooking, but anyway I have become a fan of your blog, that has given me so many ideas and inspiration living in this country ;-)
    Although the Philippines is plenty of paradisiacal beaches and sites, the quality and price of resorts and hotels is totally behind global standards. Even when you are paying more that 100USD++ (no breakfast incl) you’ll never be sure to get spring mattresses, good cotton towels, or a decent AC in your bedroom! How can you pay that amount of money in this country without getting the minimum standards that for sure you would get in Europe for that amount of money?? I really cannot understand it (specially knowing your neighbor countries as Thailand). It’s such a pitty….and one of the reasons why Philippines is not a strong tourist destination

    Oct 9, 2007 | 2:03 pm

     
  42. linda says:

    sorry to read about your bad experience,i love the goat though,mukhang calf siya!

    Oct 9, 2007 | 2:41 pm

     
  43. CecileJ says:

    One word: KADIRI!!!!!!

    Oct 9, 2007 | 2:45 pm

     
  44. jo says:

    YUCK! The kaka roach is a deal breaker for me. I have a BIG phobia with cockroach, as in total freak out when I see one. And the bathroom? Hell to the no! Not for almost 400 bucks.

    Oct 9, 2007 | 4:18 pm

     
  45. DADD-F says:

    Currimao evokes fond memories…. Europe, I quite agree.

    Oct 9, 2007 | 4:45 pm

     
  46. RGM says:

    It’s funny (not good funny, more like irritating funny), that Sitio Remedios Part I could be soooooo different from Part II. Shows you, with good angling of the camera, you can package anything to look like the four seasons! So sorry for the experience. :(

    Oct 9, 2007 | 5:18 pm

     
  47. mila says:

    Heehee, yes, the poor goat must be constipated from all the grazing it has to do to keep the grass at bay.

    Oct 9, 2007 | 11:12 pm

     
  48. Edik says:

    ewwwwwww! cockroaches at a P17,000 per night accommodation? they must be expensive roaches. but roaches anyways…

    you can stay in a clean and decent resort at P800 a night at panglao island in bohol.

    Oct 10, 2007 | 1:55 am

     
  49. dhayL says:

    As a paying customer, especially for that price, it is normal to set your expectations quite high. It doesn’t matter if the hotel is situated in the woods or what not, they should’ve paid extra attention to every single detail if they want their guests to leave their property happy and satisfied and with a possible of recommendations to their family and friends. It’s alright to use reproductions, but atleast remove the price tag before putting the item in used . They can’t even provide you with a “bath size” towel. There’s no harm in using plastic hangers, but I think they forgot that the over all theme to their hotel/villa is “heritage”. Sorry to hear you experience, however, thank you for writing this review, it is very informative!

    Oct 10, 2007 | 6:46 am

     
  50. MegaMom says:

    Hahahah… am so sorry for laughing about the highway robbery you experienced. I laugh becuase I am glad that Dr. C. will hear it from you. :) You’re not the first one to have experienced this, but certainly you are the first one to blog about it to a wide audience.
    Half of me having I. Norte blood, I have my grandma’s house to stay at when we go. That house has running hot water and it did not cost much for my uncle (who maintains it) to set it up!
    You are so right about hotel/resort owners’ “puwede na” mentality, which I think also stems from Filipinos being the docile consumers’ that we are. Thanks for taking up the cause of every Juan and Maria who travels this country and looks for a decent place to stay. Even at half that price, we should already be able to get very basic amenities and service!

    Oct 10, 2007 | 11:15 am

     
  51. mikel says:

    funny that other articles i have read regarding this place were glowing. must have been the power of freebies. kudos once again MM for an objective critique.

    Oct 10, 2007 | 4:07 pm

     
  52. corrine says:

    As they say, feedback is a gift.

    Oct 10, 2007 | 9:53 pm

     
  53. Raneli says:

    Thank you for that review! We try our best to be world class pero sayang we are so complacent on maintainance and attention to detail. Pero bakit naman when our hotel managers work abroad ang husay husay nilang mag ayos! Ay ewan, basta I think we should seriously make every attempt to improve our lot , management skills if we truly want to move ahead in the tourism department.Tsk tsk our country naman is so beautiful!

    Oct 11, 2007 | 12:28 pm

     
  54. Tricia says:

    This review is worth a space at Tripadvisor.com

    Was planning to go there but good thing I read your review, I’m not going to risk paying and be disappointed. Thank you Mr.Marketman!

    Oct 11, 2007 | 10:06 pm

     
  55. Ted says:

    Could it be that most Filipino entrepreneurs are thinking of an early ROI rather than keeping their business running longer? This is mostly true with Pinoy’s running what they consider “fine dining” restaurants in the SF bay area, who charges too much for their food without regard to their competitors as in other asian restaurants, one case in point “Jerry’s Grill” in Union City, enough said.

    Oct 12, 2007 | 8:29 am

     
  56. chi says:

    It’ll be interesting to see if the owner will respond to this post. He was certainly quite receptive to the previous feedback because it was positive. Hopefully he’ll respond equally as well to ‘learning’ from negative feedback. Otherwise, he might reconsider renaming the place to Motel 6 and charge appopriately?

    Oct 14, 2007 | 1:26 am

     
  57. From Sitio Mgmt? says:

    We appreciate your comments on how to improve our facilities and services. We aim to make the Sitio Remedios experience a memorable and pleasant one for all our guests. Thank you for sharing your comments. Note: I don’t normally allow comments with “Anonymous” as poster, so I have changed that to “From Sitio Mgmt?” Thank you, Marketman.

    Oct 17, 2007 | 4:12 pm

     
  58. Marketman says:

    From Sitio Mgmt – I appreciate your comment but note that you do not directly address any of the many detailed issues raised in the post above. The Doctor who owns the hotel was kind enough to leave a comment in the previous post but has chosen not to do so here. If this is the extent of the response, you again fall far short of what would be expected from a properly run hotel. It is amazing to me that if you google Sitio Remedios Service or other similar search, this post now appears as the number one article sighted, so thousands of potential guests out there will probably get to read the review and your brief but inconclusive response. Thank you.

    Oct 17, 2007 | 4:58 pm

     
  59. melizza says:

    MM your article on Sitio Remedios would have been very funny if I wasn’t cringeing while reading it. And the bathroom was just the last straw — I do think it badly needs re-grouting. My toes are curling just looking at the photo. But the goat is a cute touch, it sort of tells you BeEeeEee-lat (“you got punk’d!”).
    The stickers, I would reluctantly say, is very pinoy. Much like covering sofa sets and dining tables in plastic.

    This resort is as much Disneyland as the possibility of finding Mickey in Disney with a price tag (or ‘Made in China’ sticker)attached to his ears. Total Marketing nightmare.

    Oct 20, 2007 | 11:55 am

     
  60. Lev says:

    OMG…17 thou and all the “”horrors” that went with it. Dr. Joven Cuanang, your idea of putting up a “heritage village” is so WOW Philippines that if executed really excellently would be an added boost indeed to our country’s tourism. I am a Tour Operator and our group is actively promoting heritage tours (specifically Northern Luzon) to students, companies and foreign clients. Initially, Sitio Remedios is part of our heritage packages (a friend recommended it; she went there for a day stay only..), but I would not think twice in removing Sitio Remedios in our Itineraries after reading MM’s honest reviews. Needless to say, guest satisfaction should be foremost. To the management of Sitio Remedios: Value- for-money please. I’ve been into several low-cost accommodations in our country that speak of semi- vintage and rustic- charms and have never encountered poor facilities in any of them. In operating a hotel or a tourist destination that is built on some theme, you could be, for example, as vintage and rustic or as “heritage” as you want to be, but never ever compromise the comfort of your guests. Sure, antique-looking stuffs and designs are charming and could sometimes leave you gaping in awe (especially if there’s Authenticity in it), but guests are basically paying for their stay which includes of course the usage of the facilities/ amenities in the place. Dr. Cuanang, extra attention should be given really to the facilities/amenities offered by your “heritage village”. You don’t shell out an exorbitant five- digits overnight rate just so you could only stare at some antiquities and take photos. The 17 thou overnight rate of that Balay something, given the poor toilet & bath amenities coupled with an equally- poor execution of the resort’s heritage- theme, is a travel nightmare big time. OMG. Again, to Sitio Remedios’ management team: at the end of the day, it isn’t always about profit only. It should be Guest Satisfaction. And it should be your top priority if you want Sitio Remedios to go a long way.

    Oct 20, 2007 | 10:19 pm

     
  61. Dr. Bing says:

    Am I glad I chanced upon your blog? My daughter (an architecture graduate) had been nagging me to bring her to this resort and I would have made a booking for Nov. 2-4. That will defnitely not happen.
    Thanks a lot.

    Oct 22, 2007 | 2:58 pm

     
  62. Manggy says:

    I agree with most of the comments– I just had to express my amusement at the “Ideas of Imelda” book. What the hell?!?

    Oct 30, 2007 | 3:03 am

     
  63. Ilocosnortenienne says:

    Hmmm, I think your review is somewhat mis-represented.

    Remember, the idea is to make you feel you are living in the past, which I believe wasn’t at all realized during your stay. Imagine if they provided you with simmons mattresses and water beds or hot water for bath? That will certainly ruin the idea. I don’t think it’s fair to compare the compound with, say marco polo or discovery shore.

    While my comment seems to favor the establishment, it is not because I am an Ilocosnortenienne – this is just my 2 cents.

    I agree that the price is too high though.

    Nov 11, 2007 | 9:07 am

     
  64. Marketman says:

    ilocosnortenienne,

    If the intention was to make you feel as though you are living in the past, there would be no URATEX foam mattresses either (a 1970’s or 80’s arrival if not later), instead perhaps a bamboo bed or at best, a lumpy mattress filled with local kapok. There would be no airconditioners either or running water. There would be no plastic hangers. There would be no electricity for that matter. There would be no canned music blaring from a faux chapel. There would be no current or recent society magazines strewn in the homes, and some of them with wedding invitations for the resort owner inserted in them. There would be no toilet bowl (depending on how far back you want to represent) and instead an arinola for your night comfort. There would be no stickers on everything with their prices or counry of origin or installation instructions. They represent themselves as a hotel, and a high priced one at that. I think the items raised above are what you would expect at such a hotel. My grandparents had wonderful but not necessarily extravagant old homes, but their bathrooms were clean, their lampshades not askew, they had real mosquito nets that worked and they had real, not disneyfied charm. And yes, a lot of the above would have been tolerated if they didn’t charge the same if not far MORE than a five star hotel or resort, which they said they were trying to EMULATE.

    Nov 11, 2007 | 9:33 am

     
  65. tamaritz says:

    There’s hardly anything else I can say about Sitio Remedios that hasn’t been said yet–and I agree with (nearly) all of the remarks posted before this. Especially about SR’s bathroom. It almost resembles the sleazy bathroom in the torture porn flick VACANCY! true, melizza, it badly needs re-grouting, re-tiling–a total makeover, in fact.

    since the sitio’s bathroom got the brunt of the negative feedback (at the very least it was totally un-photogenic!), other public places and service establishments should perhaps take their cue from this. Hotels and restos, especially. I even think someone (like you, MM?) should do a “restroom review” on the metro’s popular food establishments–from fast-food joints to mall RR’s to restrooms of 5-star hotels and posh restaurants in Metro Manila and the burbs. rate these on cleanliness (not just clean but also clean-smelling–and please, no pools of water on the floor and urine tracks on toilet seats and surrounding areas), availability of toilet paper, paper towels, liquid soap, adequate trash bins that are regularly emptied, etc. and do i need to mention toilets with flushing mechanisms that work?

    well, i’ve strayed away from the Sitio issue . . . so i will get back to it with just a gentle reminder to chi: let’s keep Dr. JC’s rep as a medic/surgeon out of this. if i’m not mistaken, Dr. Cuanang is the director of St. Luke Medical Center and was (is?) dean of the UE-RM medical school. Maybe he needs to polish his hotelier act, but most likely he shines in the medical field. peace!

    Nov 16, 2007 | 6:12 pm

     
  66. jon says:

    sorry, i really can’t help myself laughing hysterically with every one’s comment. i would like to write something but am still laughing, come to think SR is in my hight list to visit and stay when i come to visit Phil at the end of the year.
    Thank you MM for such objective and informative review.

    Nov 20, 2007 | 12:09 pm

     
  67. joven cuanang says:

    Dear readers, Happy new year to everyone. I am Dr. Joven cuanang and I would like to give you an update on the ongoings in sitio . As I posted in the blog last time, I really appreciate comments that are constructive because that is the only way to improve, thus we addressed the concerns one by one in the last two months prior to the coming of the guests last december. the bathroom in the big house were tiled to replace the cement flooring styled by an artist friend. We realized that it could look dirty coz the application of the material placed was uneven, so we did away with that. We assessed the other bathrooms and changed those which we thought needed to be tiled. The other houses where we thought the artist”s concept worked we kept. Hot and cold water is now available in the showers in all of the houses. One guest thought that the previous situation where the househelp asks whether one needed hot water at the end of the day ws charming. However the chill of December was thetipping point. We had the hot wter installed and I am glad I did as most of the guests in December appreciated it. So did I. The architect reviewed all the details that needed to be improved and That is all done. The perimeter fence is now properly coated with cement covering the Hollow=block look. The fence is properly topped and hope that all the cadena de amor we planted willcover it. The chapel is a working one as the parish priest comes to sy mass the last Sunday of every month. The community comes to hear mass and that is great coz it must be shared with the people who were there earlier than me. Besides their children who compose the choir, can now sing a full misa ilocana. The old people are now teaching the kids to sing the pasyon and that is great because this ritual must be passed on. A benevolent guest offerred togive tham a complete set of choir uniform and they are gaining a lot of confidence in their singing. They were invited to sing in the museo pambata but that will take sometime. We cleared the houses with some of my junk and placed the books in a small corner in the restaurant for those who maybe interested to read them I did not mean to impose my reading material to our guestsm andI apologize for that. The goat. My friends in Ilocos thought unthinkable for an Ilocano village not to have a goat. It is now outside the fence but dont be surprised if it loiters into the yard. I have commissioned a sculptor to make a pregnant goat that could be the mascot of sitio. Expect that in a few months. I am also asking Zac Sarian, the agri writer whocomes from Batac to advise me with the best breed of goat which we can milk and make goat cheese from. That will also give livelihood for the folks in the barrio when fish is scarce due to the overfishing in the high waters. We also have finished putting up a dormitory typoe of accomodation in a one story building with a twenty year old bougainvillea in front. The simple accomodations were all that we could offer a group of four religious brothers presiding over a fine manila university whopromised they will bring the whole congregation next time. It can accomodate ten males and ten females. We are updating our website and these will be described.
    Needless to say, the feedback of the marketman is very much appreciated. We aim to become the best destination in Ilocos Norte for a restful and satisfying stay. My friends and my family who conceived of this madness that we are doing to showcase an Ilocos Norte experience the way we know it: towels made of inabel, bagnet, longganisa, puki-puki, tupig, miki, real honest to goodness pinakbet, katuray flower salad goats and goat meat and seaweeds– all will stay because we are proud of all of it. We discussed this with all our staff and we are all determined to make a difference in our small way.

    Add: we have ordered egyptian cotton towels for those who will not like the roughness of abel towels, they are ready at the end of january, We have made available bathrobes for those coming out of the pool and the newly installed jacuzzi,made of inabel.We are going to install intercoms to the office from the houses and for those who wnt to have their wedding in this unique place, the chapel has been granted by the bishop that honor. Raymond the manager is
    arranging a few weddings this year. The bishop says the priest can also officiate baptisms.

    Thank you for your time and hope to see you in Sitio Remedios.

    Jan 13, 2008 | 11:39 pm

     
  68. michelle says:

    OMG! That toilet would have sent me out the door in a flash…Reminds me of a one night stay at this dump in Rome. I slept with my hoodie and socks on. Hands inside my pockets. I refused to have any part of my body touch the sheets. When I knocked on the door of the ‘hotel’ owner to borrow a phone directory (so I could get another place ASAP), I was greeted by a paunchy middle aged guy wearing a stained kamiseta and carrying a plate of spaghetti. *sexy—-NOT!*

    Jan 15, 2008 | 6:56 pm

     
  69. Mike Abasolo says:

    We’ll if you guys are after the experience of colonial philippine, then you are in for a real treat. It is true that
    the place is still a work in progress, but for that authentic Ilocano experience, you might as well give it a try inspite of those minor obstacles you get to hear.

    My advice is you may have to organize your budget to maximize your full stay in the resort. I might have guessed it right on what you are thinking, I am careful of my comments :-).

    http://redsimba.blogspot.com/2008/01/sitio-remedios-ilocano-getaway.html

    Mar 8, 2008 | 6:47 pm

     
  70. Marketman says:

    Hi Everyone, here is a link to a follow up post I wrote after Dr Cuanang sent an update on improvements at the resort, link here.

    Mar 28, 2008 | 6:02 am

     
  71. Edgar Dacpano says:

    And I’m planning to see the place when I go home next year because my mom was born in Ilocos Norte, having second thoughts, or shall I say….saanen manong!!!!! Roach? Just like the resort we stayed in Bauang, La union with my little girls in 2004. It was a nightmare.

    Dec 10, 2008 | 10:01 am

     
  72. Walter says:

    I was actually planning on staying there for a couple of nights with my partner. All the reviews I’ve read have been glowing. At the risk of sounding patronising, I trust your judgement more than those people who do ex-deals with these establishments.

    Thanks for this post. You just saved me PhP 12,500!

    Dec 18, 2008 | 8:24 pm

     
  73. carlos celdran says:

    Rather harsh article but I guess you are entitled to your opinion.

    I just came back from Sitio. I stayed in exactly the same house. I loved every minute of being there. I even loved the goat.

    It’s not a hotel, I guess. It’s someone’s house. I get it. Perhaps the price may be high. But I look for uniqueness more than anything else. And I got it in leaps and bounds.

    I get Sitio Remedios. Not everybody does. And that’s just fine. I’ll be there again next month.

    Apr 23, 2009 | 12:30 am

     
  74. Philip Nolasco says:

    Wish I’d read your blog before we stayed in Sitio. I liked the unique experience of almost being transported in time. theyve updated fixtures in the showers ( we stayed in Balay Dingrass) right across the bahay na Bato, theres hot and cold water everyday, and they now have Wifi. no more music blaring out from the church (thankfully) but yes, there were cobwebs in the bathroom, and I spotted a couple of spiders. The goat you refer to is gone, a statue of a goat has replaced him. they still have awful pillows and foam beds, but they now provide big fluffy towels. aside from the ilocano towels. I agree that service needs to be improved. I was aghast because when we checked in the first night (flight from Laoag was delayed and we decided to have dinner in Laoag first) we had to walk aimlessly in the dark to get to our balay -we didnt know where it was located and we were not escorted to the house- which was at the very end of the resort! Sitio at night when not lighted with the tea lights is kinda creepy. Agnes was waiting at the house for us, but nobody even pointed out the way, we just figured it was our house because it was the only one with doors widely open! we decided to shrug off the lapse in service, food is extremely yummy. and staff are very courteous and helpful. But on our last nights stay, we were ROBBED. somebody came in through the bathroom window (which is quite big) right under the window were piles of wood-thus, thief easily lifted himself up to our room. what was alarming was that the staff was aware that the locks on the bathroom window was already missing, yet they didnt even bother to replace it! to be fair they reacted quickly, police came to investigate, and our room balance was waived. I’d recommend a day trip or maybe have dinner there. it is still worth the trip to Currimao. maybe just opt to stay elsewhere for the night.

    May 25, 2009 | 10:24 pm

     
 

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