Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Internet Freedom Day

Last Friday I had the pleasure of attending an intimate cocktail reception to celebrate Internet Freedom Day at the US Embassy Manila hosted by US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas Jr.

I was born during the Martial Law era and my parents explained to me as a child what it was. They said that you had to be very careful about what you say about the government, especially if it's negative since you could get jailed for it. My parents' friend, Tito Ed (Olaguer), also regaled me on stories of what he did as part of the Light a Fire movement. He eventually landed in jail. (Tito Ed by the way was one of the people who strongly encouraged me to pursue my interest on the internet back in the 90s).

The internet has definitely changed the world in so many ways. It allows us to communicate easily and it has democratized access to information. And it has somehow made the world borderless. I think our generation takes for granted the freedom we have right now to speak our mind, especially on the internet. We are very lucky in the Philippines that our Constitution protects our right for freedom of speech. Nobody gets jailed now for speaking their mind (provided it's not libelous!).

In the past few months alone we've seen how the internet has helped save lives, helped free nations (some still ongoing), build businesses/careers and so many other things however big or small. I've seen locally how the internet community has managed to influence legislation, government plans (i.e. NTC stuff), battle ISP price hikes and communicate to action a wide array of things (i.e. my previous post). I cannot imagine my life without the internet now and I probably wouldn't have gone back to writing without it and I'd probably have a different career! I just hope everyone would have the same freedom we have as Filipinos and acquire it as peacefully as we did back in 1986. =)

Thank you to the US Embassy Manila for inviting "An Apple a Day" on that special day!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Exploit Them Not

Last week one of my friends in Singapore pointed me out to a Youtube video of a little boy dancing like an exotic dancer (watch it here at 5:00). I was shocked. I felt cold all over and wanted to berate his parents. I wanted to take action, but I was pressed for time so I thought I'd tweet about it and ping my fellow online mommies. So I did. I then became so busy over the weekend and only got the chance to see updates today and so I saw Noemi's letter to MVP and DSWD's statement and TV5's apology. I'm sure my Dad would be happy to see how one tiny protest tweet went a long way.

What's done is done and hopefully the little boy won't be traumatized over the incident. What is disturbing though is the values we are showing on TV. Inasmuch as TV5 and the show producers are saying that they did not mean for it to happen and that the child was allowed by his parents to come out on TV, it should have been instinctive on the part of the host and the producer to stop what he was doing.

I never really understood why some local shows are based on awa and poverty. It doesn't really help in creating a right mindset in re-building our nation/economy. People just end up hoping that they would win a contest as their ticket to have a good life. It breeds laziness. And the child was used as an instrument to get money. That's a double whammy. I believe there are other creative ways to entertain and to help. What I saw in that video is exploitation.

Some would probably say I'm being a prude and should just see it as harmless fun. Pasensya na, but that's not what I learned from my parents. I was given dignity and respect as a child and I've done the same with my son. I hope it's not too much to ask these show producers to review what they are doing vis-a-vis proper values (check your GMRC). They have so much influence on so many people, so a little effort to uplift our nation/economy in a creative way would go a long, long way.

“Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and never succeed. (Proverbs 12:24)”

You might also want to read my Dad's thoughts about Moral Discipline.

High School Graduation

We've reached another milestone!

Last Saturday was Miguel's high school graduation and I've been so ecstatic about it the past few weeks! I couldn't wait to get home from Singapore because he told me just before I left that he was receiving several awards - Special Award in Computer; Special Award in Science and a Merit Award. All I could say when he told me was, "Wow! Congratulations!" And I've been smiling since Tuesday evening because I'm so proud of Miguel's accomplishments!

Grade School and High School graduation.

It just seems like yesterday when Miguel graduated from grade school and so much has happened in the past four years and I am just really thankful for all the support from my family and friends and blessings from God. We finished high school with flying colors! I know Miguel's really talented and intelligent and I never had to prod him to study and I never demanded for high marks. Just like my parents I just told him to enjoy his studies and his "A" marks would get paid (by me and his grandparents also bought high marks).

Miguel's teachers since his grade school days said that he's very quiet in class. I always told them that he's just being observant and obedient. He's actually a chatterbox at home and shares so many things! Year-in, year-out I've had to explain to his homeroom adviser that he's intellectually advanced and more comfortable talking to elders. And once I had to write a letter to his math teacher to explain why he managed to compute the "remainder" in his division exam (this was in grade school) and that he didn't need a calculator to do it (it was my fault since I gave him some advanced lessons).

We had our ups and downs, but Miguel and I, we've been partners since he was born and we've gone through everything as a team with our family, friends and God. This is a huge milestone for us and one that I did not expect to pass with flying colors!

Congratulations Miguel! Pretty soon you're going to be a La Sallian like me! And as we said in our letter -- we'll always be here for you!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I Eat Everything with Rice, a Filipino Dining Tutorial by Mikey Bustos

We always talk about food. Just take a peek at any social networking site - Twitter, Plurk, Facebook, blogs etc. - and you'd definitely see a post related to food. Whenever I have guests from other countries I require them to gain 5 pounds before they leave and threaten that I would tell immigration not to let them exit unless they gain weight. Of course, I'm just being funny, but I'm happy to say that a lot (if not all) of my guests say we have great food (they haven't sampled my cooking yet!).

And yes, I eat everything with rice. I get cranky if I don't have at least one rice meal in a day. It's a must! And I guess, my body craves for it. And I just realized that all of our local dishes are best eaten with rice (adobo, kare-kare, lechon etc. -- I can't imagine eating those without rice). Sweetie sometimes eats some meals without rice and to this day I cannot imagine how he does it - mashed potato just doesn't do it for me.

Anyway, Mikey Bustos has become a favorite Youtube star of mine and I just couldn't stop laughing over his "Filipino Dining Tutorial". He's got it down pat and even has the same Corelle plate as my Mom's! Haha! Pinoy na Pinoy! Watch this -

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


This video made me cry -

The video shares a story of a 15-year old boy, bullied all his life. He snaps one day and fights back and he was lucky because it was captured on video. He's lucky because he was much bigger than the bully and it showed that he was exercising full tolerance. Without the video he would've probably been blamed as the bully.

My heart goes out to Casey since I was bullied when I was a kid (some people still try to up to now) and my son was bullied too. I looked really different when I was a kid. I stood out since I was so white and my hair was not black. My classmates would tease me that my Dad was Redford White (may he rest in peace). I was also small and stick thin. I never fought back and I would just cry. To rectify things I would stay under the sun as long as I could so I'd get a tan (never worked haha) and well, thank God, I had a growth spurt in fifth grade so I wasn't tiny anymore.

I was terribly shy and for some strange reason I also got bamboozled to do things I didn't want to do. I was glad to go off to college because I just left everything behind in high school. I was lucky though because I had a lot of support in my community and that's where I managed to shine and the confidence I got helped me go through college and be where I am today. I did experience getting bullied at previous jobs. It came to a point I almost lost myself because of the boszilla, but eventually I stood up for myself and tearfully told the big boss he should just let me go. I never looked back.

Casey reminds me of myself and my kid. My son experienced the same in school because he's pretty advanced intellectually. I had to explain to his teachers that they shouldn't treat all kids the same way and not box them into tiny neat categories. I told my kid if anyone bullies him he should just punch them in the nose if they're too much already (hehehe). He has more tolerance than me and I guess he managed it well because they've been off his case. And well I told him, "Geeks rule!"

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Earth Hour

I was a bit disappointed last year that we were the only house on our street to turn off our lights for an hour. Anyway, I hope it would be different this year (will remind our homeowners association and parish council to push for it).

Anyway, just wanted to remind everyone that Earth Hour is on Saturday, March 26, 8:30-9:30 p.m.! For more information please visit there website at

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Day in Dumaguete

Finally got the chance to visit Dumaguete! I've always wanted to go because my best friend told me a lot of romantic stories about her stay in Dumaguete when she was there for the National Writers Workshop at Siliman University. She told me how simple life was and you can walk by the sea along the boulevard. As with 98% of my trips, I had less than a day in Dumaguete.

I had an early morning flight so I slept most of the trip. I woke up though when the pilot instructed the crew to prepare for landing. I had no idea that the end of the Dumaguete Airport runway was by the sea! Blame my overactive imagination, but I thought we were going to crash when I saw how close the plane was to the water. Everybody in the plane seemed calm though, so I told myself things were going to be fine. We came down hard on the runway (my first time to experience that on PAL flight) and the pilot immediately stepped on the brakes. I ended up holding the seat in front of me. A friend of mine explained that the runway was short, so that's why the pilot had to step on the brakes hard. Haha! Anyway, despite that I managed to take a photo of the airport from the plane.

The trip from the airport to the hotel lasted only ten minutes. There was a group of girls in the van with me and they were talking about all the things they were going to do in Dumaguete for the next four days. I was envious since I didn't have the luxury of time to go around. So I just comforted myself by taking a photo of the sea. Also spotted an island across and a friend of mine explained that it was Siquijor.

It was my Ninang Jane who recommended I stay at Hotel Nicanor. She said it's the newest hotel in Dumaguete, the more popular one is Bethel Hotel which I spotted on Rizal street. Anyway,  Hotel Nicanor was sandwiched between Cafe Laguna and Sans Rival Cakes & Pastries, so I was quite happy about that already. After check in I had a quick breakfast at Scooby's (a local fast food chain) and then I went to Siliman University. What I forgot to do? Take photos of Siliman University! Arggggghhhh.

The highlight of my trip though was going to Rizal Boulevard. It was the most charming place!

And here's Rizal Street.

The building at the end is Bethel Hotel.

I'd love to come back someday and explore the spots the girls mentioned in the van. And I learned that you can easily take a ferry ride to Bohol from Dumaguete!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Pappabalo at the National Trade Fair

Pappabalo according to National Trade Fair committee means "thanksgiving as a tribute to bountiful harvest and agricultural roots". This is the theme of the National Trade Fair this year which celebrates also Cagayan Valley's Scarecrow Festival. It's actually my first time to hear that Cagayan Valley region celebrates scarecrows and I think it's an interesting aspect of our culture to showcase at the National Trade Fair.

I still see scarecrows around the country when I travel, but the scarecrows at the National Trade Fair were quite cute! Here's one made out of sugar:

And here's a couple I saw around the hall:

I was rushing out and forgot to take a photo of the giant scarecrow! Anyway, the National Trade Fair is still ongoing tomorrow! Don't forget to bring money since there's quite a lot of interesting Filipino made products at the retail area. I got myself a cute pair of sandals for just PhP450 (and you can make tawad!).

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Extra! Extra!

It's just really funny how I end up on TV without my knowledge. Earl, pinged me on Twitter with this link.

(We're at 1:46).

Rare family moment at the grocery. Haha!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Kitkat Mint

I haven't blogged for eleven days now. I've just been extremely busy and been thinking about a lot of stuff (and my writing muse was scared out of her wits). Well... a friend managed to shift the cycle today and I thought I'd break my keyboard's silence with a Kitkat...

Well, not just any kind of Kitkat, but Kitkat Mint!

Yum! I first encountered Kitkat Mint in Singapore last January. I bought one pack and stuffed it in my luggage. When I got home I just put it in a basket of goodies and completely forgot about it. A visitor took the liberty of opening the pack and before I knew it he was halfway through the pack! Good thing I noticed and saved some for myself and my boys. And I regretted buying just one pack.

I was sharing this story with a friend who works from Nestle and he said they actually have Kitkat Mint available locally -- it just gets sold out really fast!

Thanks Ricky, now I don't need to wait another week to get one (but I'm still going to buy in SG for safety haha) =)

Dear supermarkets, please, please have more Kitkat Mint in your shelves. It will also make my Mom happy.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Solar Bottle Light

After my epic post about Puerto Galera I thought I'd make a post about this awesome project that Illac Diaz is heading.

Isang Litrong Liwanag.

Coming off from his bottle school project which was featured extensively on the news, a light bulb perhaps appeared on Illac's head. Solar bottle light, an alternative source for daylight powered by sunlight. So that means a lot of savings from your electricity bill.

The materials to create one include: (1) 1.5 or 2 liter soda PET bottle,

(2) corrugated sheets; and (3) water+chlorox+salt.

It looks like this when assembled.

Check out this house before it was installed with a solar bottle light.

And after.

Here's another sample at a sari-sari store.

Mind you the light can actually provide up to 55 watts and goes down to about 40 watts when its raining (which is still great actually). I told my Mom's driver about this project this morning since he was complaining about his electricity bill which doubled in the past month. He doesn't have a ref and just uses electricity for light, electric fan and TV. He thinks somebody tapped into his line. Anyway, he's interested in it so I thought I'd write about it so I can show him some photos tomorrow.

The group hopes to light one million homes by 2012. You can contribute either by:
(1) Sponsoring solar bottle lights at PhP150 each
(2) Volunteer in assembling and installing the solar bottle lights in the community

You can get in touch with the group by heading over to their website (it's a work in progress for now) at

*Photos were provided by the group. I unfortunately got sick just before we were going to tour the home that had it so I was unable to get my own photos.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My Epic Guide to Puerto Galera

I made a post about Puerto Galera back in 2007 which generated a lot of interest, perhaps because I also included detailed costings for a one night trip there. I'm just being funny with the title okay? My friend was bugging me to update my post when I got back last Sunday evening from a weekend Puerto Galera getaway.

Jay, Miguel and I needed a weekend getaway. We've all been so busy since the year started and I thought a trip to the beach would do all of us good. I was bent on going even it was just going to be the three of us, but my dear friend, Chelle, and her 7-year old son, Josh, joined us. It was fun! We ended up sleeping a lot though haha!

Getting to Puerto Galera by Car

Batangas Pier is just about 103 kilometers back and forth from where we live (the same amount when we go to Tagaytay), so the drive was pretty easy. Just go through SLEX Southbound. Here's the toll fees:

Just go straight to the end of SLEX, exit at 50B and not at 50 (see photo below), but if you make a mistake don't worry because there's a path back to SLEX.

Anyway, at the end of SLEX you'll chance upon the Calamba exit where you'll have to pay PhP22.

And then surprise! You're actually inside the Star Tollway already. A few meters more and you'll chance upon the toll booth where you'll be given a card.

You are to exit at Batangas. Pay PhP60. After exiting just go straight to the other side of the rotonda. You'll see the Honda and Toyota dealers along the way too. Go up the flyover and then turn left, going straight will bring you straight to the water (hehehe). Follow the nice road, notice though that there's quite a number of humps.

Parking Your Car

If you want to park at the open space then enter Gate 1 of the Port. Turn left and you'll go through Gate 2 to get to the open parking space. But if you want to park at the covered parking, turn left "to the Poblacion" road just before you reach Gate 1. Go straight and then turn right where the jeepneys go. That's where you'll see the building that has the sign "Province of Batangas", that's the covered parking.

Make sure to get the slip of paper from the guard/staff. It's your "car ticket" and you need to present this when you leave. Exit the covered parking and walk to the pier.

Getting a Ticket to White Beach 

Do not follow what the touts tell you. They are soooo makulit! We ended up taking FSL and we weren't happy about it because the one hour ride took 3 hours with a stopover at Sabang (GRRRRRR!). So DO NOT TAKE Father & Sons Line. The roundtrip ticket cost PhP450. Make sure you have yourself listed in the manifesto for the ride back to Batangas a few hours before you leave (or better do it when you get there).

Best to sit on the right side of the ship captain because they usually close the curtains on the left side midway due to strong waves. Dress to get wet because the ride to and from Galera is like an hour on the Rio Grande at Enchanted Kingdom.

BTW, the fast craft is only available during peak season, so if you get dizzy easily don't go to Puerto Galera before then because you have no choice on what type of boat to get.

Getting a Room

Room rental cost at least PhP1,000 during off peak season and you don't really need to make a reservation. You'll get offers when you get off the boat. We stayed at White Beach Lodge and Restaurant which is on the right side of White Beach and a bit away from all the noise. We got a standard room with 3 beds, aircon and cable TV. It cost us PhP2,000 (approx. PhP400/head). Some of the rooms beside us even had a gas range and grill where you can cook your own meal.

Food! Burp.

Speaking of food. Food at Puerto Galera is pretty much standard and inexpensive. The menu in each restaurant is pretty much the same - liempo, kebab, hotdogs, spaghetti, breaded pork/chicken, seafood, sinigang etc. The most expensive restos are the ones in the middle, so best to eat either on the left or right side. You can safely budget PhP150-250 per meal depending on your appetite (we're matakaw so we budgeted PhP250 each). You can easily buy merienda from the vendors, like corn, green mango, taho etc., approximately PhP20.

What You Can Do at Puerto Galera

There's a lot you can do in Puerto Galera. You can ask your resort or any vendor about island tours, but we were there basically for the following: eat, sleep, get a massage and swim. You can get a massage by the seashore (they don't allow it in rooms). Just sit or walk around and someone will likely offer you a massage. I always get one when I go to Puerto Galera since it's just PhP200. The massage is pretty standard, but you can choose to have a full body massage or just your back/arms or legs. My friend got a twin massage for the price of one,  hati daw sila sa bayad niya haha. Just tell the manang whether you want it hard or not.

You can also try the banana boat.

Or get a henna tattoo.

Or get your hair braided.

At night there's fire dancers, belly dancers and other sorts of entertainment provided by local entertainers (mostly cross dressers). In my younger years my friends would stay up all night and drink as much Mindoro Sling as we could. It's their special drink and best drank when you are in Puerto Galera.

Oh and don't forget to buy some pasalubong. Friendship/thread bracelets are cheaper to buy at stores (3 for PhP10) than from vendors and I think you can get a bundle for just PhP15 (Sweetie did). There's also lots of necklaces and bracelets in different materials (stone, hematite, pearls, coconut, wood, shells etc.). And the usual magnets, keychains, sandals, slippers, tshirts and shorts.

Anyway, what are you waiting for? Just gather three of your friends and enjoy a weekend getaway at Puerto Galera. Here's my cost guide:

Gas - approx. PhP500
Toll fees - PhP144 (from Nichols) + PhP22 + 60 times 2 = PhP452
Parking - PhP10/hour. We paid PhP290.
Boat ticket - PhP450 two-way
Room rental - PhP300 per head for a group of 4 if you get a PhP1,200 room with 2 beds
Food - PhP150-250 per meal depending on your appetite
Massage - PhP200
Hair braid - PhP200
Tshirt - PhP90-140
Sandos - PhP75 and up
Bracelets - PhP3 and up

So for a group of 4 and just basic stuff (transpo, room, food) it's safe to say that it'll cost you PhP1,500 each. Not bad for a weekend getaway.

*Rates though may be higher during peak season.

White Beach Lodge and Restaurant
c/o Carmelita Magbuhos 0927-3163602
or Estela Candava 0920-5545067
(Aling Lydia just brought me there from the boat so I never met the manager. At the resort, just look for Jane).