Saturday, November 30, 2013

Why Yolanda should happen to us and the lessons we should never forget

Before you cry foul over the blog title, please allow me to share my piece. For one, I am deeply saddened by the devastation of the storm and I have been fervently praying to the Lord not to let us experience the same. The harrowing ordeal of the people of Visayas during the morning of 8th of November is going to be written in history books as one of the worst disasters in the world. So allow me to say that there is a reason Yolanda should happen to us, no matter how painful it is.

It should happen not because we are full of sins and we deserve some sort of retribution but because we need a huge slap on our face that will remind us that tragedy as massive as this will happen, wreak havoc and bring deaths to our hapless nation. Our geographical location instantly puts us in the danger zone, our country is unluckily situated in a part of the world where typhoons are made and brewed. Our archipelagic nature adds to the fact that our fate lies on our preparedness to handle the inevitable transits of super typhoons. Therefore I believe that Yolanda is a tragic calamity that should be experienced by the Filipinos in order to prepare us for the advent of more devastating typhoons that are about to visit the Philippines in the years to come.

Yolanda painfully reminded us the vulnerability of our nation, the sad fate of our politics and the lack of knowledge of the true character and temperament of storms. Somehow it showed us the repercussions of our complacency, that although we are visited by over 20 typhoons every year, we can always withstand it. But unfortunately, Yolanda gave us a hurtful and painful blow to our knees and we were all shocked by the impact of its wrath.

Yolanda opened the window that revealed the sheer lack of our leader's political will. It gave us a sad reminder that dirty politics still plays a role in the cycle of relief-rebuild-rehabilitation. The local government unit has been crippled and rendered useless. They were cramming for clues on how to address the burgeoning problems of logistics, supply chain, relief supplies and transport, food shortages and handling of casualties. It was a crisis of epic proportion and the LGUs couldn't handle it.

Yolanda showed to the world the sad reality that although Philippines is gaining significant economic growth, poverty remains to be a formidable foe and the trickling-down effect of the recent economic gains are not yet realized by its populace. You would see in the satellite images in CNN how densely populated the coastline areas in Samar are. The poorly-built structures of houses, the density and the closeness to the sea are recipe for disaster. There were little to no possible evacuation centers. In this moment of despair, convention centers and coliseums could be a plausible refuge. But where are they? Although I have seen some in the news, they were all ravaged by the storms too, roofs were torn apart; rains were coming inside through open windows.

If I remember it correctly, when hurricane Katrina struck the US, people were evacuated in sports centers and convention areas. They were safe inside the sturdy refuge of coliseums while the hurricane is wreaking havoc outside. And the casualty was very less.

Storm is inevitable, but we can lessen the damage and the death toll for sure.

It is time for the government to carefully plan a groundbreaking solution in order for us to be prepared for the next storm surges and super typhoons. A storm as huge as Yolanda could certainly happen again and if our country would still experience the same ordeal, I think it would be an embarrassment.

Let Yolanda be a reminder to our politicians to be more of a leader than a servant in this time of crisis. May Yolanda be a lesson that should be tattooed on our mind henceforth. Rehabilitation should commence immediately, and it should be more sustainable. Rebuilding of houses should not be a make-shift and temporary. The government must establish laws and privileges in order to provide emergency funds to help people of Visayas to make sturdier homes and to elevate and relocate their houses immediately. They should tap the expertise of urban planners and engineers on how to re-build their communities. People in coastline should consider moving out of the zone or if not possible, at least open the possibility of putting up emergency measures that will educate and inform them of necessary actions to be done in times of calamities.

It is rewarding and elating to hear notes from other countries praising our resiliency and faith during these trying times, but it also reflects the weakness of our culture. Our physical strength and resiliency could help us but preparedness and fortitude will bring out the best in the Filipino people.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Back to Bangkok - Another Lost in Translation Adventure

As soon as Z told me that he will be travelling to Bangkok for a two-day conference, I immediately asked if I could join. There was no second thought. My last out of the country travel was over a year ago and I can no longer control the itch to travel again. My last trip to Bangkok was 2011 and that was a short one. Well technically my trip was intended for Pattaya and I only have a day to tour Bangkok as we were in a strict itinerary as dictated by our company who sponsored the trip. Though we have a little  bit of liberty to go wherever we want, the entire cost of the trip is covered by my employer and I felt like I have to follow the calendar and just plan on making a personal trip later on.

Z went ahead and I have to follow a day after his departure. I booked a flight via Philippine Airlines as they appeared to be cheaper than Cebu Pacific sans the occasional promos. I was looking for a cheap flight deals but unlucky. I should have known that Z would be travelling to Bangkok months ahead so that I could have saved money by looking for online promos, but I have moved on. The round-trip ticket to Bangkok on a regular economy flight via PAL costs USD211 or around Php 11,000.

Because of that I decided to look for a budget hotel courtesy of the ever-reliable Agoda Online Booking. Agoda, for the past two years, has helped me find the best and cheapest way to stay in my country of destination. I booked a USD25 / Night Stay in Justbeds hotel for 2 Nights located near the Silom Road in Bangkok. Yes, its near to Patpong, but please there is more to Bangkok than these infamous red district spots.

Now let's get started, let me say I was lucky to stay in Millennium Hilton Hotel for just one night.

Now moving on, our first itinerary is the Chinatown Market/Yaowarat Market. If you think Thailand is yet another country with a huge Chinese population, yes you are certainly right. Chinatown is home to hundreds of amazing cheap finds and numerous street foods.

Hey, Tuk Tuk everywhere. In the Philippines, we call this tricycle. Why don't we call our own tuk-tuk with a name that sounds so Filipino, just like them?

Of course, what is Chinatown without Chinese temple? As a contrast to the towering temple of Wat Traimit (that houses the Golden Buddha), this Chinese temple marks the entrance to the Chinatown proper.

Chinatown offers a wide array of exotic culinary ingredients - it's a mecca for food enthusiasts who'd like to shop for rare to find ingredients.

And I fell in love with these life-sized Buddhas that are all over the streets of Chinatown. On these street, you can find also various religious ornaments such as candles and flowers.

Z is a sucker for spices and cinnamon. The moment he found this store, he couldn't resist buying these assorted items. And it is also very cheap.

Resist the temptation of commuting comfort by avoiding to ride taxis. There is something exciting in roaming the city of Bangkok by walking. Yes, it is kinda scary to explore the streets of Bangkok as getting lost (both in maps and translation) is a nightmare, but you will never really find the inner vibe and color of the city if you are in fast transit. We found this group of monks walking the hot streets of Chinatown. 

So when you're done roaming the busy streets of Chinatown and your gustatory feast craving is satisfied, try to burn some calories by climbing the high stairs of the Wat Traimit temple located just across the Chinese Temple. It is a famous landmark and everyone knows this place. This temple houses the famous Golden Buddha that is made of pure gold of course.

The interiors of the Wat Traimit temple is mesmerizing. It's gold dust everywhere. Everywhere you look is adorned with intricate details of gold of metals.

On the center of the hall is the Golden Statue of Buddha which is according to Wikipedia, valued at US$ 250,000,000. I certainly believed that this statue is heavily guarded. Massive!

Street Food spree is never-ending. And yes they have their own version of kikiam. And it tastes almost the same as ours. I didn't bother to taste the one on the left. It looks uncertain and scary to me.

But this became our instant favorite. Z saw this piece of heaven on the side of the street at the foot of Mo Chit BTS (Bangkok Train Station). But it can be found anywhere and it's very cheap. You will find a handful of this on Suvarnabhumi airport as well but it costs more than thrice of the street regular price. What is this I am talking about? - it's just a ripe sweet mango served with a cup of sticky rice which we call Biko in the Philippines. My mom can cook a better version of this sticky rice, slightly darker and sweeter because we put more muscovado or brown sugar on it, plus a latik or coco jam on top. Sweeeet!

And so, we finally went to the famous Chatuchak Weekend Market. If you want to go here and you are coming from Silom Road or Bangkok City proper, taking a cab would cost you over 200 baht. If I were you, I would go for an all-day BTS pass. Ride the BTS (train) and buy the all-day pass prepaid card and go to Mo Chit station which is a walking distance to the busy Chathuchak Weekend Market. The prepaid card only cost 130 baht (If I am not mistaken) and you will never worry about getting lost in transit as riding the train is virtually unlimited. So going back to Chatuchak, this weekend market is a shopping extravaganza. It boasts of hundreds of shopping stalls that sell wide selection of goods - food, art pieces, collection items, souvenirs, plants, ornaments, clothes, bags, and many more. It is our version of Greenhills and Tiendesitas but of bigger size and variety.

When you decide to go here, dress in your most comfortable attire. The alleys and passages of the market are so narrow and it is always packed with tourists and swarm of window shoppers. Don't bring a big back-pack, just carry a light tote or shopping bag so that you wouldn't worry about your stuff everytime a horde of shoppers would try to outpace you. But nevertheless, if you are accustomed to the daily stress of the convoluted and narrower Divisoria, then Chathuchak is going to be a walk in the park for you.

I am pretty sure there were areas in the market that are air-conditioned, but most part of Chatuchak are poorly ventilated so be ready for an extra clothes when you get sweaty and all that.

After Chatuchak, we went to Ayutthaya. It is an old city and it would remind you of our very own Intramuros. It is located in the valley of Chao Phraya river founded in 1350 by King U Thong. It was named after the city of Ayodhya in India which was the birthplace of Rama in Ramayana.

This was my favorite place. It was so serene and peaceful. Ayutthaya is a tourist spot and you would see many ruins of the old kingdom. 

After the long strolls under the scorching heat of the blistering sun (which we have to face because we arrived on the site on a high noon) we decided to feast once again.

Vietnam style noodles with basil leaves and bean sprouts. Basil leaves were a surplus and Z stole lots of it. Hehehe.

Bangkok also at river transport system but the current of the river was so scary so I didn't bother trying their ferries. It looks convenient and picturesque though.

The next day was a Sunday and we endeavored to find a Catholic church in a Buddhist nation. The Assumption Cathedral is situated in the heart of Bangkok and very near the Silom road where we stayed. But unfortunately (and understandbly), the mass was in Thai and we have to leave after saying a minute of prayer to thank God for our safe and fun trip to Bangkok.

Amazing structures greet you everywhere.

And how about the crazy parking lots.

Never-ending street food finds. This time we saw a Thai-version of our very own 'Penoy'. The taste was entirely the same, the only difference is we put salt here in Philippines while Thai put vinegar loaded with chilis.

Another favorite of mine, they probably call this some name but I didn't care asking because I just wanted to call it grilled tocino. It is because it actually tastes like sweetened pork. It was tasty and yummy. I had like 10 of these tasty little thing in a single day.

Monumento Caloocan - joke. Victory Monument. 

Z in awe of the edifices and massive structures and ruins of Ayutthaya.

It was a pleasurable trip and would be Back to Bangkok in a few months. I swear I would take more beautiful photos this time. Till next adventure.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Can Pope Francis save the Catholic church?

There is no doubt that Pope Francis is getting more raves and attention than his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. The former's straightforward stand towards various controversial issues has drawn the ire of millions of conservative Catholics and earned the applause of the more open-minded Catholics and modern liberals.

In this fast-paced generation of too much selfies, institutions such as the Catholic church are being attacked both sides - based on their defiance to meet the demand of modern times as well the failure to address the issue of sexual abuse by the clergies. Catholic church is up for a major war against internal and external forces, and their survival will be dependent on their stand on some of the most controversial topics of the modern times.

Just recently, the head of the 1.2 billion strong Catholic church - Pope Francis - set a new tone in religious discussions by warning its faithfuls against too much "obsession towards divisive issues such as abortion, homosexuality and contraception". To be honest, this came to me a little bit as a surprise, but it didn't come to me as shocking. Pope Francis seems to be much more honest and open to its flock by being more communicative (or rather provocative)  in various socio-political contentions.

I wonder how is this going to impact the nation's obsession towards the Reproductive Health Bill (RH Bill) with the Philippine Catholic church being in the forefront of the defense against the approval of the controversial bill. The CBCP is probably scratching their heads right now and thinking how they are going to attack the issue with their head going against the grain this time. But one thing is for sure, Pope Francis clearly made a decisive action of changing how non-Catholics view the once hegemonic and antiquated religious domination. For once, many are seeing a window for reforms for the ailing institution.

But personally, for me the greatest war the Catholic church should focus right now is the decreasing population of its flock, second would be the failure to address the negative criticism towards the clergy and the institution itself, and lastly, the failure to evolve vis-a-vis the ever-changing socio-political landscape.

The rise of disagreeing believers and their shift towards the more upbeat and contemporary denominations is probably not hurting the Catholic church that much, but if left unseen, would definitely hurt further the already bleeding core of its spiritual foundation. The rise of Christian Fellowships are more appealing to the young and the skeptics/liberals. Tired Catholics who are probably bummed by its antiquated dogmas and long sermons are easily swayed by the more modern VCF (Victory Christian Fellowship) and CCF (Christ Commission Fellowship) which harness the power of social media and youth as a community empowerment as their unique value proposition.

I have to admit these groups are winning this side of war and the Catholic church must turn their blind eye towards this minor burn. These fellowships have found the weaknesses of the church who has been for thousands of years became one of the most dominant forces in the world - spiritual evangelization, the rationale of sainthood, the idolism.

For the next succeeding engagement with the press, I am hoping that the Pope would devote his time to shift his gear towards retaining the remaining faithfuls. It is high time for the high priest to center the faith once again, ultimately to Jesus Christ. It must once again evangelize its flock and reignite the waning spirit, the true meaning of salvation and explain the role of saints in their faith. It's too early to tell whether Pope Francis is going to turn more tables in the upcoming months of his leadership, but one thing is for sure, the Catholic church is now engaging to to the world, in an effort to promote transparency in its governance and hierarchy, to address the heated debated of sexual abuse and corruption, and under the helm of Pope Francis, it has a lot of explaining to do.

And with the Pope being more open to the press and the public, it is yet another clear impression of a shifting mood that will definitely resonate around the corners of its cathedrals and around the world.

I wonder what's next with the CBCP. We have our own set of problems to deal with in the first place.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Top Cheer Stunts/Routine UAAP CDC Groups should look up to...

Everyone is amused at the recently concluded UAAP Cheerdance Competition. But in my honest opinion, it was only National University who stood out and gave us the real meaning of cheerdancing. It was almost flawless, the stunts were far more risky than the rest, ambitious and precise. Their dance routine were not that impressive, but the overall performance was a stand-out. A lot of people thought UP Pep Squad would be the runaway winner, but even their routine was far from perfect. It was clear that last year's performance was better.

My overall impression was satisfactory. I was looking for the old Araneta Coliseum charm, the loud cheers and jeers that echo across the venue. Unlike in this year's SM MOA Arena, Araneta Colisuem was more deafening and infectious.

Now, I wanted to share some top-caliber, hardcore cheer-leading stunts in the US that our infamous cheerdancing groups could look up to next year. May these routines be their benchmark to perform better and practice harder.

1. Top Gun Jags 2012

Stunt to watch out for - Bow and Arrow (0:42) and Scorpion (0:51) Triple Jump Combination (1:04)

2. Tumblings

Beware: Quadruple Fulls Orgasm

3. All Out War by California All Stars

Watch out for: Everything: Arabesque, Cobra, Scorpion, Toe Touch Bask, Power Jump. The Extensions, Transitions and Precision - Oh lalala

Looking forward to see more of these stunts next year. As mentioned, only NU this year has achieved most of these stuff, UP came close and DLSU. Deserving top three I must say. Congrats NU! From a bleeding Thomasian.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Twitter Goes Public

Twitter announces IPO plans, on Twitter (via AFP)
Twitter announced, in a tweet, that it has submitted papers for the most hotly anticipated stock offering in the tech sector since Facebook's last year. "We've confidentially submitted an S-1 to the SEC for a planned IPO. This Tweet does not constitute…

A Story of Greed

When Benhur Luy revealed the massive malversation of multi-billion peso PDAF to bogus NGOs and several lawmakers, I knew that very moment that there is no way this lady behind this orchestra is going to get away. The ire of the nation is probably fueled by her daughter's lavish lifestyle as shared on her social networking sites. Clearly, Janet Lim-Napoles failed to devise a master-plan to make her cycle of corruption as fool-proof as much as possible. She probably thought that her vicious attempt to get more money from the taxpayers' fund wouldn't be seen by the discriminating eye of the public.

It's terribly sad to hear another case of massive cheating. The nation, despite the consistent herald of growing economy, has always been a subject of criticism for its inability to address the corruption that is preventing the country to move forward at a glacial pace.

The End of Pork and Patronage Politics

Source: GMA News (
The recent scandal shows the ultimate reason of Philippine's continuing political dilemma - Political Dynasty. It is not the most overt manifestation of PDAF's mischievous effect, but it is clearly the most evil one. The multi-million peso pork barrel handed over to each legislators provides a culture of corruption. It wields power and control, it evokes temptation and it twists even the mind of the most righteous one.

I join millions of Filipinos around the world who clamors for the abolition of pork. The most clear-cut, precise and effective way to end patronage politics, political dynasty and election violence is to stop the provision of million-peso PDAF.

I don't believe the rationale of some lawmakers who continues to defend the efficacy of pork that the cessation of the provision of pork would ultimately rob the citizen of it's usual benefits of social services such us medical care, dole-outs, legal and civil missions, educational assistance and any other form of financial support. In the first place, these kind of facilities our supposed to be implemented by the implementing agencies - the institutions that are tasked to provide these kind of services to the taxpaying public (DOH, DOJ, DPWH).

Give the money to these agencies. Let them do their rightful job. Lawmakers most obvious task is already inherent on their job titles - to make laws. I don't know where the confusion is coming from.

Pork Barrel is a bribe to the congress. The lump sum appropriation is an attempt to prevent the system of checks and balance working. Money is all encompassing. The possession of this lump sum would clearly devoid a rational lawmaker of its inherent loyalty and honesty. These bribery traces back to Marcos era and this loophole to the political system has evolved into a cancer that makes the nation suffer.

The replenishment of pork on a yearly basis makes their position a viable and even a formidable one. For them, it is the most legitimate way to wield power and to make their dreams come true. They knew there is money in congress and senate. They knew that their investment to win the election is worth it as the seat of power they seek also holds an amazing amount of wealth. For them, winning the election is not an option, it is a must. This ideology transcends into a politician's attempt to win at all cost. To use violence if necessary to keep their power at stake, to kill if there is a threat of defeat, to transfer the power to their kins to keep the legacy of stealing money intact and undiscovered. This logical attempt to hold into the position of power is all glued by a single element that makes every aspiring politicians drools to acquire control - the pork barrel.

Therefore, we implore the government to see reason. To abolish the pork and to make guilty lawmakers accountable. Put an end to this long story of greed by abolishing the pork barrel and never dare to evolve it later into a different and almost indistinguishable name.

The country has suffered enough to let these monsters do their evil acts. It's sickening, it's foul and it hits the taxpayer's core as the money they spent is from their blood, sweat and tears.

This is not a form of payback. It is nothing but justice that we deserve.

In Defense of iPhone...and maybe Blackberry

I am not a self-proclaimed gadget critic. I am not even a geek. I don't even know what Antutu benchmark mark is and how they measure smartphones capability and power. My knowledge on gadgets are fairly limited to its practical use, basic specs and perceived value. I review gadgets based on its beauty and brain. I am not in awe of any revolutionary tactics. I am more convinced by the sharpness of the display, the quality of photo, ease of use and navigation, fluidity of OS, and most importantly reliability. I am therefore an iPhone fan and will always be. I hate it when I see people in tech blogs comments page bashing each other, seemingly amused with their fanaticism over their preferred OS/smartphone, throwing harsh words and criticisms against each other, in an attempt to prove their mighty geek prowess and defend their almighty OS. I find it amusing and pathetic at the same time.

I love Blackberry. Before turning my eye on iPhone I was a huge Blackberry fan, and remains so until now. It is true that an individual's preference of a smartphone is dependent on its inherent character and personality. My relationship with Blackberry is loyal and honest - the tic-tac sound of the keyboard, the speed to text, the easiness of navigation, the discreet notifications, the multi-colored blinking lights, all of these features made Blackberry my preferred smartphone over the year. That was the era when I preferred productivity over style. As a salesman and a heavy communicator, I have to rely on the speed of my phone. I can't afford to make a mistake on my typing, a single stroke of error is tantamount to a lost of sale. Therefore during the years that I was working so hard, I can't put my hands off my beloved BB.

And then the beauty of iPhone's display swept me off my feet. I have seen's Samsung Galaxy S2s AMOLED display and it was awesome. But I felt it was a little too saturated, a bit yellowish/greenish. As compared to iPhone's natural contrast and brightness, it was just pleasant to the eye. But even if I got an iPhone, I still use my beloved BB 9360 as my main workphone. iPhone cannot replace BB on this particular field.

Android is great in the area of customization. It understand the character of its target market. They are the rebel, the young and adventurous. Their operating system is tailor-fitted to people who loves to do more and expect more. Therefore they decided to push the envelope further.

Samsung and any other Android OS smartphones such as HTC, Sony, LG are winning more users as they know that Android is more open and adaptive. They know that consumers love to see more drama, they love to see things get bigger, faster, better. There is no room for less improvement. Consumers are becoming more demanding and the evolution of technology is fast-paced. On this particular area, Samsung is getting more raves and applause. They know that Samsung is harnessing Android's strength to its full potential.

It is evident in the recent market surveys that iOS is losing more of its base and their market share continues to goes down, while Windows and Android are both gaining strength. Critics are bashing Apple over its recent performance during the September 10 unveiling. It was lack-luster, many were saying it was disappointing and boring. They said they were missing Steve Jobs' magic. iPhone 5S and 5C were expected even before the opening of the event and many people were hoping they would see more or they were looking for more surprise. But Tim Cook quickly ushered them to the demo room to see the iPhone 5S and 5C in action.

But iPhone knows that their money is on iOS reliability. They know that critics would bash them because they expect iPhone to be more revolutionary than ever. I don't think Apple is turning a blind eye on this sentiment. I know that Apple is intelligent enough to keep some magic under their sleeves. They knew that making iPhone bigger in terms of size is not going to increase their market share. They know that the right thing to do now is change the the way their OS works. The unveiling of iOS 7 for me is more than enough. A lot of critics were probably bored to see the usual icons, the slide to unlock, and the notification bars. And the revamped interface of iOS 7 is aimed to addressed that. The renewed spirit of iPhone is incarnated through Jonthan Ive's vision. They knew that changing the look and feel of the operating system is what Apple badly need right now. They have to attract new customers and at the same time, retain their current base who are easily swayed by their competitors fast-changing environment.

Apple is not going to rest on its laurels. I know that the Cupertino company is anchored on the vision that to be successful in this market is to be sustainable and they should keep the strength of their ecosystem at place and continue to rely on its marketing and logistics expertise.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

"Indignant" Dolce & Gabbana close their Milan boutiques (via AFP)
Designers Dolce & Gabbana have closed their nine Milan boutiques for three days from Friday out of "indignation" in a row over their convictions for tax evasion. The stores are scheduled to remain closed until Monday in protest by the world-famous designers…

iPhone Mini? Why it makes sense.

Why Would Apple Produce a Cheap iPhone? (via slashdot)
Apple has yet to debut a major product in 2013, something that has investors and company-watchers more than a little perplexed and nervous. In lieu of Apple CEO Tim Cook taking to a stage to whip the curtain back from a new device, these outside groups…

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Apple sees profits fall despite record iPhone and iPad sales

Apple sees profits fall despite record iPhone and iPad sales (via The Inquirer)

GADGET DESIGNER Apple posted its first fall in profits in a decade on Tuesday, despite record iPhone and iPad sales. Apple's second quarter earnings call was widely touted as the biggest call of Tim Cook's career, but things weren't quite as bad as analysts had expected. The firm posted record revenues…

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Finally, A BB Cream For Oily Skin and for Men

You might be wondering what BB Cream is before pondering on reading this post. Most of BB Cream users probably don't know that the term BB actually stands for something - Blemish Base or Blemish Balm and according to Wikipedia, it is more commonly sold in Southeast Asia.

BB cream is promoted as an all-in-one facial cosmetic product to replace serum, moisturizer, primer, foundation, and sunblock. It can be worn alone as a tinted moisturizer, over serum and moisturizer as a regular foundation, and under powder, depending on the desired amount of coverage. (Source: Wikipedia)

It can probably be the contemporary version of liquid foundation, but it transcends its original purpose by being marketed as an all-around skin care product/cosmetic. BB Creams come in various shade that matches various skin tones and it contain different levels of SPF that protect the skin from the harmful UV-rays.

I started using BB Cream a year ago when it was introduced to me by a dear friend. For so many years, I have been using Pore Minimizing creams (Nyx Pore Filler as my favorite and Loreal Base Magique) because I have an oily skin. I have tried a lot of products to control the excess oil in my face but without luck. For so many years, I am in a quest to find the best product to compliment my skin. Until I found this pretty little thing from The Face Shop.

The Face Shop's Clean Face Series is probably the best line of defense for oily skin and store specialists are branding it as the ideal BB Cream for Men. It's oil-free and it is best suited for almost all kinds of skin types. There is just one shade but don't fret, the tone is not very light and it compliments any kinds of skin tone as day goes by. It also provides a matte finish when applied and it won't give you a shiny look when you go outside. Make sure to apply it very well and your face is cleaned and toned.

The best thing about this product is it also controls the emergence of pimples. I don't know if that is an inherent feature of the product, but I observed that it has significantly reduced the emergence of pimples while using it for more than two weeks already. I might be wrong, as we have different skin types, but this one is really worth a try. It also has this pleasant smell by the way. (Beware of fake products, I've seen some versions in tiangges around the Metro that sells the same stuff at a super reduced price! But please smell the original product first. You will really know the difference and the shade is too light as compared to the original).

Go try it out. It costs around Php 700 + in The Face Shop store near you.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Philippines asks for money to save convict in Saudi

Philippines asks for money to save convict in Saudi (via AFP)

The Philippine government appealed on Thursday for the public to help raise almost $1 million needed to save a Filipino from execution in Saudi Arabia. Labourer Joselito Zapanta was due to be executed in June for murdering his landlord but Saudi authorities extended the deadline until November 3 to…

The Tsarnaev brothers: suspected Boston bombers (via AFP)

Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, suspected of bombing the Boston marathon, appear to hail from Russia's war-torn Chechnya but had been in the United States for several years. The North Caucasus region of Chechnya has been ravaged by two back-to-back wars since 1994 between Russia's army and increasingly…

This Week In Digest

Janine Tugonon Appeals 'Don't Make Assumptions Please'
Janine needs a good a PR plan to counter this issue. The entire interview caused too much negative publicity on her as it made her look as though she was the 'itchy whore' and the 'holier-than-thou liar'. Thanks to her December interview with PEP professing her undying loyalty to her boyfriend, debunking all future possibilities of her liking other people that she will meet because they put God on the center of her relationship. And I do agree on her latest tweet which appears to be her direct response to the barrage of tweets - 'Don't Make Assumptions Please'.

Andrew Tan Claims No. 1 Spot, Did Kim Henares Made A Mistake On The List of Top Taxpayer?
For a moment we heralded the Presidential sister for her surprising news - she is the country's number one taxpayer. She even trampled some of the nation's wealthiest. Certainly the news does give her a little bit of a boost after the James Yap fiasco, but recently, Megaworld founder rained on Kris' parade by claiming he paid more than Php 60 Million personal taxes for 2011 - Php 11 Million more than Kris. But Kim Henares was quick to retort.

"If you are being paid a salary and there's only one company paying the salary and it is withheld and the withholding is correct, then you don't have to file an ITR. You might be earning more that the top person on the list but because it is withheld properly and you did not file an ITR, so you're not there," 

No rematch for Pacquiao-Marquez. Marquez to fight infamous Bradley.
Much to the dismay of Manny's legion of fans, Juan Manuel Marquez decided to move forward by fighting Timothy Bradley instead of the 'Pambansang Kamao'. Marquez claimed Bradley as the 'better option' and he is gunning for the title of being the 'five-division title champion'.

PDI Puts Meme Photos in Frontpage. Major Facepalm.
The title of being one of the world's most influential people is a relief for PNoy, but the nation's number one broadsheet put PNoy in a shameful limelight by using an online meme of the supposed Time 100 Most Influential Cover. It doesn't take a Picasso to determine whether a Time cover is legit or not. Bad editorial or just plain stupid?

Smart LTE Goes Prepaid
Not to be outdone, Smart decided have their LTE Live for Prepaid users.
One major question: Is there a bandwidth cap? Let's hope not.

Still very expensive though. The Plug-it USB Stick costs 5-times more than the standard 3G/HSPA USB Stick.

The Evolution of Charice And Why Social Media Can Be Very Hurtful

Social Media can be very harsh and it is not for the faintest of heart. But it is also not for the bullies and narrow-minded.

Charice underwent series of style changes and her fans were split on their acceptance. Her hardcore fans loved her new look and defended her from all the bashers and the barrage of hate tweets she gets online. While some of her fans showed dismay over her new look. She started to drew flak when she sported a blonde hair on her stint as a judge in the Philippine franchise of X-Factor. Some even funnily compared her curled blonde hair to the infamous 'Lucky Me' Pancit Canton.

How sad it is to see how some of us can be very judgmental to others. I have nothing to say negative about her. If she likes to look androgynous and wants to be edgy, so be it! Let her be. She is a talented lady and we have seen her inspired us years ago when she performed alongside Celine Dion, Oprah and Ellen DeGeneres, a peat not anyone could achieve no matter how beautiful they are.

Charice is entering a phase where she wanted to experiment, she wants to try new things. Just like any other typical young adult who would like to identify him/herself to someone he/she looks up to. Chopping her hair wouldn't make her less talented.

I laud Charice for her demeanour to brush these issues off instead of fighting fire with fire. I believe she could withstand this and I do hope she would get the best advice from the right people. She is young and talented and she deserves more than this kind of treatment.

Social Media can be very harsh and it has catapulted a lot of people to fame and it has also elevated a lot of people to the hall of shame. Think before we click. Access to internet doesn't give us a free pass to ruin the life of other people. Whatever happened to respect and compassion to other people, I really didn't know. There is so much hatred in this world right now. Why not try love at least for a test drive?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Top 5 Things We Should Learn From The Boston Police

It was probably the darkest day in recent months in the US since the horrific mass shootings in Connecticut and Colorado. With three dead and over a hundred wounded in a deadly bombing in Boston, America suffered another major security flaw despite having a sophisticated security and surveillance machinery developed after the 9-11 attacks.

The Boston Marathon bombing is probably the most unlikely event where a terrorist activity could be potentially held. It was unexpected and the damages to innocent lives and properties where incomprehensible.

But true to American spirit of heroism and bravery, we have seen another testament to their amazing courage by vowing to put the culprits to justice instead of doing the blame game first.

I have been amazed by the swift resolve of the deadly attacks and I felt compelled to make an appeal to Philippine police to take a look at American police as an institution revered by their citizens and emulate them at least.

Everyday every common Filipino lives in fear, even the wealthiest. They fear for their lives, not only from terrorist attacks, but from petty crimes. Whenever we roam the streets of Manila, we put our backpacks on our front (ironic right?) because we know for certain that there are pickpockets lurking around, preying around, waiting for a vulnerable victim to be robbed. We cannot leave our bags or laptops in any coffee shops, restaurants or even in churches, even for a few seconds, because we follow the five-second rule of robbery. There are lots of mad people out there. When the night strikes, the Filipinos are no longer afraid of aswangs but of mad people who are under the influence of any evil substance and has the potential to kill, harass or agitate us peaceful people.

And the apprehension of the culprits are even more frightening, exhausting and disgusting. We are proud to have the most comprehensive and well-written constitution but the delivery of justice has no teeth at all.

I listed down the Top 5 Things Filipinos and PNP Should Learn from Boston.

1. Cartoon Sketches of suspects are no longer cool - I hope our justice system would not entirely rely on poorly drawn photos of suspects. CCTV is the new way of getting new leads. Though some CCTV may render poor resolution, at least it has the accuracy to direct the investigators to a more reliable surveillance tool.

2. Speed to Response. Be guided by a lead time of response. Prove to us the misconception that police always come late. Crimes and threats like this don't happen everyday. So you pretty much have a lot of idle days. The reason why most of them are healthy is because they devote more time on their cars idly parked in scattered areas, instead of roaming around and patrolling their assigned areas.

3. We should give the PNP a confidence boost. Our PNP may be flawed but at it remains to be our sole protector and defender of justice. What we saw in the US is an overwhelming support of its citizens to the institution. They believe in the institution. Our PNP may be accused of corruption and incompetence but that doesn't give us reasons to not fully trust them at all. One way or another, our PNP is still committed to deliver justice and ensure safety. What they need now is support not only from the government but also from us.

4. To Pnoy. That next to education, infrastructure and economy, he must focus on putting more efforts in upgrading our security and justice institutions. It's a domino effect, upgrade the system, reward and incentivize, modernize the system, align the salary. The system must see an effort from the government. Police requires adequate patrol cars and mobiles to take them to various areas. We cannot blame them for their laxity always. They need some support system too, you know?!

5. Use all available channels and new resources. Embrace modern technology. Crimes cannot be prevented all the times, but that won't stop us investing for a decent if not sophisticated surveillance technologies and other investigative tools.

I dreamed a day when we will respect this institution that risks their life for the safety and security of its people.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Kasambahay Law in a Nutshell

After the recent passing of RH Bill, the Filipino people surprisingly suddenly became more participatory in political affairs. With the advent of social media, the discourse on whether a new provision would be favorable or not has been more resounding and manic as compared to the past decades where people seems to be voiceless and passive.

Just a few months after the much heated debates and deliberations on this controversial bill, another bill has been passed in an attempt to protect the rights of our dearest kasambahay or household helper.

As most of us could not fully digest the entirety of each law, I find it important to give you a quick snapshot of how this bill would impact your current relationship with your 'kasambahay'.

I find this very important not only because we have recently lost a 'kasambahay' but also because every Filipino household with a kasambahay on their roof should know the provisions for them to be guided on their specific rights as stated in the constitution.

Circular 2013-008

Who is a Domestic Worker?
A Domestic Worker or Kasambahay refers to any person engaged in domestic work within an employment relationship, e.g. yaya, househelp, cook, laundry person, house boy, etc.
A kasambahay must: 
  • Be 15 years old and above
  • Comply with the pre-employment requirements of the employer
  • Be paid a minimum wage of not less than the following:
    • For NCR - Php 2,500/month
    • For Chartered Cities and First Class Municipalities - Php 2,000/month
    • For other municipalities - Php 1,500/month
An employer must:
  • Prepare the employment contract and provide a copy to the domestic worker.
  • Provide for the basic necessities (e.g. safe and humane sleeping arrangements, three adequate meals a day, etc.)
  • Register the domestic worker to the barangay´s Registry of Domestic Workers
  • Shoulder the SSS, Philhealth and Pagibig contributions of the domestic worker
  • Guarantee the privacy, access to outside communication and right to education and training for the domestic worker

A kasambahay is entitled to:
  • A daily rest period of eight (8) hours
  • A weekly rest period of twenty four (24) consecutive hours
  • Service Incentive Leave of five days (5) after one year of service
  • All SSS, Philhealth and Pagibig benefits after one (1) month of service
  • Employment Certification upon separation from the employer

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Hunger Games Sequel 'Catching Fire' Releases Sneak Peek

Hunger Games fans have reason to celebrate as the worldwide hit series has released the newest trailer for its November sequel.

The Hunger Games is a 2008 science fiction novel by American writer Suzanne Collins and has been a blockbuster hit in the silver screen last March 2012 which has grossed over $400 Million.

The sequel - Catching Fire is set to be released on November 22, 2012 and it is directed by Francis Lawrence.

Below is the first look on the film which was unveiled during the recently concluded MTV Movie Awards.

PSY Releases New Single: Official Video

I wonder how it feels when your second single has reached more than 10 Million in less than 24-hours. As of this writing, the infamous Korean pop superstar PSY second hit has reached more than 20 Million views in Youtube. Holy Pony!

I am not in the mood to discuss the racy images in the music video, I am not a feminist, so let's just discuss that on another topic. Personally, I love this beat better than Gangnam Style. 'Gentleman' is more upbeat, current, flamboyant and infectious.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Guide to Tagaytay Churches

Tagaytay is not only a place to have a quick escape from the convoluted streets of Manila, it is also a perfect place to commune with nature and rekindle your spiritual senses and faith to the Lord. Home to more than a dozen retreat and spiritual houses, Tagaytay houses some of the famous churches in the Philippines.

Though no longer in Tagaytay, one who wishes to visit a church should not miss going to the church of Caleruega. The famous church, who also instantly became the top choice of wedding planners in the metro because of it's perfect location, weather and ambiance.

Located at Baranggay Kaylaway in Batulao, Nasugbu Batangas. From the official website: Caleruega was inaugurated on August 6, 1995 as a retreat center of the Province in Nasugbu, Batangas. It was named after the birthplace of St. Dominic de Guzman. During the 2012 Provincial Chapter held at Our Lady of the Rosary Convent, Manaoag, Pangasinan, it was petitioned to the Master of the Order to establish the community in Caleruega as a formal house.

How to get there: By Private Transportation Upon reaching Tagaytay (whether via SLEX - Sta. Rosa Exit) or the long route of Coastal - Bacoor - Imus - Dasma - Tagaytay Rotonda, Go straight and continue traversing the road until you reach the Nasugbu Arch. You will pass Alfonso, Sonya's Garden, Splendido. Turn left (you will see Evercrest) and look for the Chapel on the Hill Don Bosco. You may want to stay there and check it out for a little bit before heading directly to Caleruega. Once done, go straight until you see the sign-board Caleruega. Turn right and continue traversing the road until you reach the Caleruega. Public Transport to Caleruega Well you can ride a bus bearing the Nasugbu route and you can get off at the Nasugbu Arch and ride a tricycle going to Caleruega. If Nasugbu bus is not around, you can ride bus up to Tagaytay or Pala-Pala Dasma. You can ride a Nasugbu Bus once you reach Olivarez Terminal in Tagaytay and in Robinson's Pala-Pala in Dasma.

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