June 23, 2010

Even without nightclubs and bars, there is life in Manila. Is there?

There are contradictions in life, and you don't have to look far. Whatever it is, there is still more in life then anything else.

A truly unique destination in the galaxy can be found in Southeast Asia. If you're from the Americas - across the vast expanse of the pacific. If you're from the Asia mainland - beyond the South China Sea. Covering 636 square kilometers of land area, the pearl of the orient seas has been left untouched for thousands of years. So be prepared for a deep breath. Let's dive and get it.

EDSA, Metro Manila - An Aerial View

May you have a nice stay here even if the airport is not that good, as recent flights to the city has been rerouted to the Clark Field due to faulty navigation equipments in the NAIA. I know it will be fixed soon. If your taxi driver does not care that you'll be late with your appointments, just smile and say “how you doin?”. The traffic in the nerve center of the more than seven thousand island should not ruin your day. Look out and ask the driver to lower the window of the taxi. The sight may be untidy, as garbage piled along the way. But you can also see fine-looking men and gorgeous women who speaks like British and walks like an American. Sounds may be so noisy, videoke singing is everywhere. But everyone wants to be a rock star. (I also tried to be...and the microphone likes me...). American Idol has a huge following here. And the aroma may not be so good, as scents of smoke from cramped buses and WWII jeeps with stench of garbage and sewer along the way. But folks you'll meet do have fresh breath, smiles well, and smell well because they do take a bath everyday..

So this is it. I say the place is unique. There are shanties of city dwellers and slums that you can see. But there are also huge billboards along EDSA and thoroughfares. The people love to see these sights even if it is the skin that they can only see. What is left to advertise if not for the underwear. And if you'll have to pee and poo, at the gas station you can do it...but not all the time. Shoppers fill the malls even if its the window that they only shop. You may not wear your jewelry if it's fake. If you want to...achtung!..at owner's risk. But if the policemen are not so friendly all the time...probably because there are hidden cameras installed to watch. If have to ride in the bus or train be prepared to stand all the time. It isn't now a fad for a man to share a seat to a woman. Not then, but now. Why? But during Sundays, more and more people go to church. Jollibee is filled by families dining together and so with with McDonald's and Chow-king. Movies can be watched in every mall, with the best from SM i-max, of course. Life is full and vibrant here. At night you might forget what these contradictions really mean. Having good times in bars and nightclubs here is beyond compare.

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The Filipina Painting by Fernando Amorsolo
So this is Manila, the capital city of the Philippines. This day the city goes  on  a holiday to celebrate its foundation day. It has a rich cultural heritage because of mixed Malayan, Chinese, American and European influences. You call the city dwellers, Manileños. They are known for being hardworking, neat and honest. Sadly, though on a broader extent, that if you'll search for “filipina” and “pinay” in your Firefox or Safari web browsers, the hits would be very revealing but grossly disappointing...online dating, sex scandal and maid.
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The Filipina Painting by Fernando Amorsolo

June 15, 2010

Sand Castles in Rizal Beach, Gubat Sorsogon

If your going to Sorsogon, Philippines you'll probably ask your travel guide for the best places to hang out. There are a lot of places and of course beaches. And if it comes to beaches, I would say the best beach in Sorsogon, you might also try traveling to the Municipality of Gubat and to its world famous "Rizal Beach".

Gubat is just a ride from the City of Sorsogon. You can be there by bus or car or by passenger jeepney. You won't believe it! the jeepney fare from Sorsogon City to Gubat is only 10 pesos per passenger. The jeepney terminal is located along Manook Street. Named after Don Pedro Manook, a descendant of Rajah Sikatuna, who happens to be the first Gobernadorcillo (Mayor) of Gubat, Manook Street is a busy commercial hub in Gubat where you can find the public market, banks, stores and transport terminals for jeepneys and tricycles.

At the Gubat public market, I'm sure you will enjoy your shopping for  native foods like mouth watering pili, suman or ibos, timitim, hinagum, and linukay. At the wet market you might also try freshly catched "angul" fish which is best when steamed (sinaing), crabs, and prawns. There, you can also feast your eyes to an array of dried fishes of different kinds, including dried squids.

Native handicrafts made of abaca (hemp) and sea shells can be also be purchased as souvenirs at very reasonable prices. This also includes hats, slippers, home decors, bracelets and necklaces, coin purses, and even cellphone accessories. Gubat really is a tourist spot. Very interesting though, you can also find in Gubat the "ukay-ukay" things. Para nang Baguio City.

If you're security conscious, you need not worry. There is constant police visibility in the town and I can vouch for this that there are no robbers and pickpockets in Gubat. Besides, Gubateños are friendly and very accommodating.

Rizal Beach is located at Barangay Rizal. By going there you would pass by the stretch of beaches from Dangkalan Beach passing to Buenavista and then Rizal Beach. It is indeed a "good view" watching this site, as a long time ago Spaniards called this place "Buena vista". There are inns and hotels there like the Veramaris Hotel which is perfect for a unique and enjoyable stay along the beach.

This week Gubat celebrated its foundation and occasions for the homecoming  ("baragat") and reunions and Gubateños all over the world. "Baragat" for Gubateños not only means meeting old friends and enemies but also going to your roots to help. It also held its town fiesta in honor of its patron Saint, San Antonio de Padua. Legend tells it that the great saint then saved the town from an impending rape and onslaught of arriving pirates at Gubat Bay by brandishing a sword atop the belfry of the 17th century San Antonio De Padua Parish Church and driving them away to panic. Novena prayers for the saint are also said to aid in good voyage and for pregnant moms wanting to have baby girls. The cultural show "Guinubat Festival", which tells the saga of Bintolan and the raid of a horde of swordfish (locally known as "bugiw"), where the town got its name, is also held annually to highlight the event.

While in Rizal Beach, you've only got three things to do. First, enjoy the beach and try surfing. Second, enjoy the friendship and warm accommodation and third, enjoy a lifetime of trill and experience.

For me, I've got four. Add the time when my daughter learned how to build sand castles. Cool!

External links:
Gubat, Sorsogon by Wikipedia
Rizal Beach: Gubat Sorsogon by Gloria Gamat
Discover Gubat - Learn Some Things About Gubat Sorsogon

June 2, 2010

Sweat, Rains and Tears - A Story of Hope and Faith

I do hope that hotter days will be over and it started to rain here in Manila, Philippines so  I can't help to write something for an advocacy. 

The Climate Crisis

Have you ever ventured into waist-deep flooded streets or worse, swim the flooded highways and  needs to cling into  the fallen electric cables and posts against the deadly surge?
Have you ever experienced excessive sweating all day not due to biological or medical reasons but due to hot days and hot nights that have become more frequent? Your undies were soaked in salty slimy liquid  just after a few moments whether at home, travel, school or work. These inconveniences are brought about by extreme weather that we are experiencing.

I survived the wrath of Ondoy (Ketsana)

I can recall what happened on September 26, 2009 with Ondoy and its horrors, but I do not care to remember its sordid details. I swam the waist-deep streets of San Mateo, Rizal Province, Philippines to catch an exam in Manila scheduled early morning the following day. You might not believe that I reached Ampid, San Mateo by swimming in the flooded streets. But there, I was prevented by the soldiers not to proceed because the flood has already reached the second floors of the houses. I cannot go back as the flood level has already reached my breast so I took shelter at the nearby Saint Mathew's College together with other evacuees of the nearby subdivisions, their children, their pet dogs, and pees and poos and everything.  I went home after the flood water has receded. What an awful sight to see where  people lost a lot and terribly, and where everything is a mess.  We begin to rebuild after the deluge because we always see the rainbow smiling at us. Indeed, such was a filthy event of nature's wrath that even the heavy downpour last days and night sent shiver to my spines. It is a story of hope and faith that we were able to survive such a catastrophe.


According to the Philippine government think-tank on climate change, extreme weather events have occurred more frequently since 1980. These include deadly and damaging typhoons, floods, landslides, severe El Niño and La Niña events, drought, and forest fires. Adversely affected sectors include agriculture, fresh water, coastal and marine resources and health. Frequent occurrence of extreme El Niño events has affected rainfall and inflow patterns of the reservoirs. It also resulted in water rationing in Metro Manila. There is also evidence correlating El Niño occurrences with the epidemics on dengue. On personal experience, these hot months have caused problems in electric generation, such as a high enery demands and brownouts or worse, blackouts. There was also the occurence of earthquakes and panic.


Among the extreme La Niña events that have happened recently are those which caused massive landslides. These severe weather events have one thing in common - persistent torrential rains, causing landslides and flash floods, killing thousands of people and destroying billions of property along its path.

In all these extreme events, the poor and the disadvantaged are the most vulnerable to the negative consequences of climate change. In my view, nobody is spared. Even the rich suffers and so with the poor. They both terribly perspire the hot months and pay spiraling electric bills. And they both swam the flooded streets to save lives and properties. That is, because nature is always fair.

It's urgent. Let's do our share. Be Prepared. Share and Help.

As citizens, we can do our share to cushion the impact of climate change. Use fuel efficient transport to save on fuel. Use bikes or walk if you have to travel not in a distance. It is also a good exercise to keep our body healthy and active. Save on electricity at home or at work. Participate in eco-friendly activities in your home, work or community. Let us not forget that we also have social responsibilities. And these include relief response participation and food and medical assistance in case of emergency.  It is our eco-friendly behavior and practices that can save us. Above all these, it is our green lifestyle that makes a difference because we are still alive today.

I know that Bayanihan spirit is still alive. It is a Pinoy way of self-sacrifice and charity.

 Source of this post on technical aspect:
 Philippine Task Force on Climate Change

Read more on Climate Change:
Al Gore on Global Warming and Climate Change
Gore will be in Manila on June 8, 2010 to Speak on Climate Change
Climate Crisis Coalition

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