Showing posts with label These islands I call Home. Show all posts
Showing posts with label These islands I call Home. Show all posts

Friday, July 18, 2014

Typhoon Glenda: The Aftermath

16 July 2014. Typhoon Glenda (International name: "Rammasun") made landfall in the southern part of the island of Luzon. Packing 150 kph winds near the center with wind gusts of up to 195 kph, it left 54 people dead, P5.4 billion in damage to infrastructure and agriculture, and plunged the nation's capital and surrounding provinces in darkness.

I had to go to report for work on that day, since attendance compliance is such a big thing in the BPO industry. It was just starting to rain when I left home at 1:30 am. The weather started to get bad at around 6am. The wind was howling and that made it hard for me to concentrate on my work. The power fluctuated so many times until we eventually lost it.

The storm calmed down at a little past 11am. I started on my way home and what I saw really blew my mind. I work in the posh and beautiful Eastwood City and here are some pictures of the damage brought about by the storm.

The outdoor dining area in Eastwood Central Plaza

Even the heavy road signs did not stand a chance from the strong winds

Eastwood City Walk II

The outdoor dining area in Eastwood City Walk II

Tree branches and debris in front of TGI Fridays

My mom and my sister freaked out when a power transformer across their street blew up and sent sparks flying into my mom's garden. My sister called me at work and I told her to turn off the circuit breaker in the house. 

Here are some pictures I took around the neighborhood:
A big mango tree leaning on an old house in the street behind ours.

A broken tree branch hanging on a high tension wire. This is a on our street, 2 houses from where we live. 

Meralco workers were quick to respond and took the tree branch down

Here is a video I took while the storm was raging. This area is just outside our office building. 

My family and I are blessed that we weathered out the storm. My thoughts and prayers are with those who grieve the loss of a loved one, those whose homes were destroyed, and to those who are now living in evacuation centers. 

I am asking you too, my dear readers to pray for healing for my country.

Trivia: 24 years ago, on the same day, July 16, the island of Luzon was struck by a strong 7.7 earthquake that claimed thousands of lives.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Storm Season Is Here. How Prepared Are You?

In the Philippines, we only have two seasons - wet and dry. (eyes rolling). Good thing though, there are more dry months than wet months. We are currently in the wet season and that only means tropical storms and typhoons are going to be part of our daily lives.  

As I write, the country is bracing for Tropical Storm Glenda (International name: "Rammasun"), expected to make landfall Tuesday or Wednesday in the island of Luzon. Forecasts show the 400-km wide storm will cut across central Luzon, including Metro Manila. Wind gusts of up to 95kph and rainfall of 7.5-15 millimeters per hour are just a few of the things we expect. With every storm, there is always a risk of landslides, flooding, and of course, increase in prices of commodities brought about by damage to crops and the farm-to-market roads.

National Geographic and Prudence Foundation has joined forces to come up with the website Safe Steps, with the slogan - "You Too Can Be A Survivor." The website contains information that people can refer to in preparation for an upcoming storm/typhoon. There are also guidelines for emergency situations in the event of an earthquake, flood or fire. The Philippines sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, making us vulnerable to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other natural disasters. Safe Steps is a great way to disseminate information even before disaster strikes. It is an easy-to-navigate website, which even children can learn a lot from.  


We can all do our part to avoid the loss of lives by spreading awareness. A simple task of disseminating infographics like the one shown above can do a lot. Stay Safe. Click here to get involved.

This is NOT a sponsored post. This is an act of kindness to spread awareness and to encourage safety and preparedness in the event of natural calamities.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The majestic Taal Volcano is a sight to behold. It is the only one of its kind in the world. Aptly described as "An island (Vulcan Point) within a lake (the main crater lake) within an island (the volcano island), within a lake (Taal Lake) within an island (Luzon).

An aerial view of the volcano island and the main crater lake. Notice the tiny speck? That's Vulcan Point.
Located in the Province of Batangas, around 70 kilometers from Manila. Taal Volcano is best viewed from Tagaytay City, an elevated area of the Taal Caldera. It is believed that the caldera itself was formed by a huge prehistoric volcanic eruption. Could it be that this entire province was once a super-volcano?

Taal Volcano has had 33 significant eruptions in history and is still active up to the present time. Forty-seven (47) cones and craters have been identified on the 8 square mile volcano island. Taal Volcano has been named a Decade Volcano, and the volcano island itself is a Permanent Danger Zone. Taal Volcano is the lowest lying volcano, its highest point is only 311 meters above sea level.

During the volcano's "quiet" days, nature lovers and trekkers love exploring the volcano island. This gave rise to a lucrative business for the people living along the lake shore. Boatmen ferry the tourists to the volcano island where they can trek to view the main crater lake and the tiny island within it, named Vulcan Point.

The volcano island and the caldera


The main crater lake showing a tiny island, Vulcan Point.
My parents, grandparents and great grand parents are from the Province of Batangas. My fondest memories as a child would be spending weekends in my grandparents' house in Taal. My grandfather would take us to the lake shore where we would enjoy a feast of fresh grilled fish specially the "Maliputo," and "Tawilis," species of fish found only in the waters of Taal Lake. 

There are folk tales about the boat ride from the lake shore to the island. Some locals warn tourists not to mind or utter a word when they notice some strange creature riding in the boat with them halfway through the trip. The locals say that these are creatures from the spirit world, and that they live on the volcano island. They warn tourists that the spirits are easily angered by misbehavior and disrespect for nature. As it is, I think it is just a reminder for us to avoid littering, or trampling down on saplings and such.

Taal Volcano is just one of the beautiful places to visit in the Province of Batangas. Although I have not visited province for almost 10 years, I am still very proud of my heritage.

Lahing Batangueño. Dugong Pilipino.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Organic Jewelry: More Precious Than Gold

Yesterday, on my weekly trip to the market, I was upset the high prices of basic commodities. Rice prices increased by two pesos. The usual "Bulacan Super Sarap" variety that I get for Php 43.00 per kilo is now Php 45.00! My sons eat a lot of rice so the price really made me cringe. 

Surprise, surprise! Garlic prices have not changed since it skyrocketed about three weeks ago. It remained at Php 300 per kilo. A Filipino without garlic in the kitchen is similar to a person on the verge of a manic attack. Garlic fried rice with no garlic? Pork adobo without garlic? No, no, no! I blindly picked 4 medium sized heads and had them weighed. Php 49.00! A little more than twelve pesos per head of garlic! I can't believe it is more expensive than pork! Wow.

And then came the need for ginger. I was planning to make Bicol Express for dinner. Cooking in coconut cream would need ginger. Guess what? A piece of ginger cost me Php 22.00! Another addition to the list of things more expensive than meat. Closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and paid the vendor. 

I jokingly told my son that garlic and ginger are like gold nowadays. I told him, "I feel so rich today!" He frowned and said, "Why? Did you win the lotto?" I said, "No, I feel so rich because I have 4 heads of garlic!"

And so that was the inspiration for my "Organic Jewelry." Here are the pictures of my creations:

My ginger encrusted pearl bracelet

My necklace with 4 garlic heads as a pendant

My Bohemian-inspired charm bracelet. (Of course, the garlic was the charm)

So there you go, ladies. It is now acceptable to wear these kind of jewelry. Just be careful of robbers. They might snatch these precious gems away from you. 

Have a happy Sunday, everyone!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Income Tax. Outcome Zilch.

In the Philippines, employees enjoy the convenience of having their income taxes automatically deducted from their pay. Their employers have the responsibility of filing and remitting these taxes to the Bureau of Internal Revenue. However, business owners and practicing professionals file their own taxes. 

I have been a corporate slave for as long as I can remember and I did not mind having taxes deducted from my pay. However, with all the corruption and misappropriation of public funds, I easily get upset when I see how much money was taken off my bi-monthly wage. It is depressing to be giving so much to the government only to see wasteful spending, increasing poverty, and the depreciation of the Philippine Peso's purchasing power.

I would want to take for example the baranggay/village where I reside. There are vehicles plastered with signs "donated by Councilor XXX" or "Special Project by Congressman XXX." In our baranggay, we have one (1) Utility AUV, two (2) Toyota Tamaraw FXs, six (6) Patrol Tricycles, one (1) three-wheeled Utility Vehicle (modified large tricycle that can seat 8 people in the cab), one (1) small emergency fire truck and one (1) small AUV supposedly for the use of Senior Citizens. I have not seen any of those vehicles used by residents of the baranggay. They are used mostly by the elected officials. 

The parking area for the Baranggay vehicles

A motorcycle with little water tank on a trailer

The small AUV for the Senior Citizens. Its been parked and unused for so long

The Senior Citizen AUV. Unused and parked on the side of the street. The tires are already flat.

I walked to the nearby Belarmino Sports Complex. This area used to be occupied by a public elementary school. It looked like an abandoned structure. I asked the guard on duty if I could take pictures of the building. He shooed me off, saying I should get a permit from the City Hall to take pictures of the place. I asked him if I could just stand outside the gate and take pictures. He started asking me questions about why would I need pictures of the building and who am I working for. I simply stated "I write, I blog and I am a taxpayer." The shooed me away even more. Nevertheless, I still pointed my camera lens through a slot in the gate and got some photos. Walking farther away from the complex, I spoke with an elderly man who owned a little corner store and asked him about the facility. Here's how our conversation went:

"Manong, gaano na po katagal dito itong sports complex na ito?"
("Sir, how long ago has this sports complex been built?")

"Apat na taon na. Hindi pa daw tapos kasi lalagyan pa daw ng basketball court at saka swimming pool. Di daw maasikaso kasi walang pondo."
("Its been 4 years. I heard its not yet complete because they plan to put a  basketball court and a swimming pool in there. They said they don't have funds to do it."

"Hindi ba po yan puede gamitin ng mga residente dito? Tulad po ng mga Senior Citizens?"
("Is this not available for use by the residents of this community? Like the Senior Citizens?")

"Ay, hindi. Para lang daw yan sa mga competition. Yung mga Arnis. Taekwondo. Gymnastics. Ganun. Para daw sa mga athletic competition lang daw yan."
("Oh, no. They said that sports complex is only for competitions. Like Arnis. Taekwondo. Gymnastics. Just that. I heard it is only to be used for athletic competitions.")

The gate of the Sports Complex

The front view of the complex

The grassy overgrowth on one side of the complex

The back of the complex. Hmm.. I wonder if the airconditioning units are turned on? Who is in there using up electricity if there are no competitions going on inside?

Got it. So that "thing" is only for athletic competitions. If it is true that they have top of the line facilities in there, why don't they use this structure to train the youth who have a potential in achieving worldwide recognition in athletics? 

The next place I visited was the "Project 4 Park," commonly called "5K" because its area is 5000 square meters. It is here where my mom and her senior citizen friends go to every morning for their aerobics class. They use the multi-purpose covered court, however, it does not provide much shelter during rainy days. The park does not offer much shade. There are only a few trees and park benches (I think there's only 4). The only nice thing  in there is a playground for the kids. How can you call this a park when there's no place for you to sit and relax? 

The arched gate to the park

The multi-purpose covered court

The playground

The rest of the park (Sorry, no park benches here)

To conclude, I only have one question.. Is this where my taxes go?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

In April 2012, the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf has adopted in full the Republic of the Philippines' Submission for an Extended Continental Shelf in the Benham Rise Region. (Source: National Mapping and Resource Information Agency)

The Benham Rise is an underwater plateau, located east of Aurora Province. It total area spans 13 million hectares, roughly about the size of the island of Luzon. The shallowest part of the rise, called Benham Bank is about 50 meters deep while the deepest part is believed to be about 3000 meters deep. A team of scientists have already began exploring the site and have been amazed at the underwater beauty. Coral gardens abound in unbelievably crystal clear waters. They have started collecting samples to conduct further studies and exploration

Marine scientist Cesar Villanoy, the leader of the Benham Rise Program said in an interview on Solar News that they were "seeing things that no other human has ever seen before." They were the first to explore the undersea plateau believed to be a rich source of natural gas.


Extensive exploration of the site is expected to be very expensive. Our local resources are not equipped with the appropriate technology to conduct research in the new territory. The Philippine government will have to find means to propel the research program forward.

For now, we can sit back, relax and revel in this blessing that we have a new territory with the potential of uplifiting our economy.

Benham Rise, Philippines. Officially ours. Officially Filipino.

Suggested readings:
The Philippine Star -
National Mapping and Resource Information Agency (NAMRIA) -

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Last May 18, my niece celebrated her 18th birthday. As Filipino culture dictates, children celebrate three "milestone" birthdays.  Its their 1st birthday, their 7th, and their 18th (for girls) or their 21st (for boys). Most parents go out of their way to throw a big party for their children during these times. 

In the Philippines, a girl's 18th birthday or debut party calls for a grand celebration. The debutante is ushered and introduced to society as a young woman. Family and friends take turns giving gifts and wishing the debutante happiness and blessings in this new chapter in her life. In Latin American countries, the "Quiceañera" is a similar practice and is celebrated on a girl's 15th birthday. 

My niece, Bianca is my sister's only child. As expected, my sister arranged a lavish debut party for her daughter. Preparations started six months prior to the event which turned out to be a success! Everyone had a great time, specially the debutante, who specifically requested to have the venue decorated "Bohemian Style" with dream catchers hanging on the main entrance. The event planners really did a good job. The make up artist made Bianca look like a princess on her special night. The food was superb and the beer was overflowing. A true unforgettable moment.

I am sharing with you pictures of my niece's party. Our little Bianca has indeed blossomed into a beautiful woman. 

Bianca's Bohemian inspired attire.

Bianca's first dance with her proud daddy

Waiting for the actual ceremony to start

Smile for the camera!

With her parents

The venue - Valle Verde 6 Country Club in Pasig City

The venue before the guests arrived

The three-tiered birthday cake


The Grandmama and the Debutante

My Mom, my youngest sister, her husband and two kids Trey and Tyra

My only brother and his girlfriend

(L-R) Adi (my daughter's boyfriend); my daughter Kristine and their common friend

Nieces, nieces galore! (L-R) Abby, Hannah, my daughter Kristine and Inna

My sons Mickey (L) and Aton (R)

My sister's youngest child Tyra (L) and her cousin



 Me and my Poppa bear

 Me and my wacky cousin, Joyce

 Me and my brother

My big bear hug!

I hoped you enjoyed looking at the pictures of our family's big event this 2014. The next debutante in the family would be Tyra.. 8 more years from now. :-)

P.S. Here's Bianca's AVP: