Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ten Year-Old Kid Writes To President Noynoy Aquino

Just recently, my daughter Kirsten Sky was asked by her CAE teacher in school to write a letter to the President of the Philippines as a seat work.

All the students were asked to write their personal letter to PNOY (President Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino III).  I remember doing that as well when I was in grade school but I already forgot the content of my letter and also the mark that I got for that particular activity.  The President then was Ferdinand Marcos.

Anyway, her letter to PNOY was simple, honest and true.  I am so proud of my kid because as young as she is (she's only ten) - she already has a clear understanding of the true meaning of justice, fairness, poverty, charity, power and responsibility.
She started her letter to PNOY with the line "Have YOU ever noticed..." and ends it with, "We know you're the president but YOU also should be kind to all the people in the Philippines."

Sharing with you her letter below, the words in parenthesis were the correction made/added by Sky's teacher on the letter.    

Dear (President) Noynoy Aquino, 
Good day Sir Aquino!  Have you ever noticed the poor people walking around the streets?  They are a little violent.  One time a kid was begging for money from my mom, my mom tried to give him food but the kid wanted money.  He said to my mom "I will punch you if you don't give me money!" But good  thing he didn't.  You should lock up those violent beggars.  They should not punch people if they don't give them what they want.  But there are kind and good-hearted beggars too you know.  You should give them houses.  So they can live not such a bad life. (a good life.)  We know you're the president but you also should be kind to all the people in the Philippines.  That is my wish for the Philippines.
Yours Truly,
With everything that's happening right now in the world and in our country, we could all use a lot of ten year-olds writing their letters to our leaders to remind them of their sworn duty to serve the people and not only their personal interests and ambitions.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

After Typhoon Glenda

Typhoon GLENDA (International Name: Rammasun) is now officially out of the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR). Thank goodness!

The eye of the typhoon didn't really passed through Metro Manila but nevertheless its brute strength was felt by Manila residents early Wednesday morning. The howling wind terrorized trees and houses followed by heavy rains.
Our residential unit has a faulty south-side window and when the rain started coming from that area, we had to barricade all seams and cracks with lots and lots of used clothing and rugs to prevent water from coming in. We did that for almost an hour until the rain stopped.

Electricity was down since Wednesday early morning til 9 in the evening.

According to news reports, about 20 people are confirmed dead (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) after Glenda and millions of people affected by the devastating winds and brownouts. On the positive side, almost all regions were prepared for the onslaught of Glenda. I heard also that Bicol region (where Glenda made landfall) has zero casualty. And that's great news!

Everything's back to normal in the city of Manila, however, the devastation brought by Typhoon Glenda was very much visible outside. Typhoon Glenda slaughtered mostly trees.

This big tree at Estero De Paco has been around for a very long time but it seems that it is no match to the awesome strength of Typhoon Glenda. You'll see similar incidence everywhere.
This used to be a tree house, now it's just half-a-treehouse. The upper part was completely destroyed. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014


First of all, I would like to say that INSTAGRAM is a really beautiful social networking app! It's the coolest and the fastest way to share photos and 15-second videos with friends online!

So why kill it?

Well, it's for personal reasons and circumstances might differ from other people, but it's my preference and here are five reasons why I didn't go as INSTA-addict like almost everyone else who has a smartphone.
  1. I was already blogging even before Facebook and Twitter came into the online limelight. Both Twitter and Facebook can be considered as a micro-blogging site. INSTAGRAM can also be considered as a photo-heavy micro-blogging site. So you see, by engaging myself in these online apps I now have more ways to blog. These sites provide a faster way to share your thoughts, ideas and experiences - now almost everyone can have their very own micro blog. On the downside, these sites are only limited to few words and a photo per post which also in a way limits your stories. If you are a story-teller like me, this is kind of frustrating.
  2. A friend once told me that he was staying away from Facebook because he already have too many friends and are trying hard to get rid some of them. Well of course, he has a Facebook now - who hasn't? Going back, if Facebook and Twitter are just mini-blogging tools and I am already writing my stuff on Wordpress and Blogspot - why am I still hanging on to these sites? The reason is plain and simple - they complement my blog. They help me get closer to my target readers. They help me connect with fellow bloggers. They help me get some fresh ideas that I can use on my blog. With INSTAGRAM, it's the other way around. You can't use it to promote your blog and you can't even upload a link on it. When you post a photo on INSTAGRAM, you can have people view it on Twitter, Facebook and even your own site - so in principle I am promoting my Instagram Account - but I don't blog on INSTAGRAM. I am a blogger not an IGers. I don't really see the point in using it. Some bloggers are however able to do both - I still don't see the point in that.
  3. Another reason is that, in my point of view, anyone who has an iPhone or an Android Smartphone can actually post selfies and whatever photos they like on INSTAGRAM, put some hashtags, get friends who are also on INSTAGRAM to like it and TREND - If that's your kind of beef. But, not anyone can really own a blog - or at least have the time and devotion to maintain one. And that's my beef.
  4. INSTAGRAM can be so demanding sometimes. I can't stress enough the importance or significance of capturing 'THE' moment, however, not all moments can be tagged as 'THE' moment. With INSTAGRAM, it seems that people are put into a lot of stress of instantly sharing almost every single moment of their lives. I know that times are changing, but still wouldn't it be nice to have a couple of your precious MOMENTS shared exclusively and with only the people that matters to you and not the whole God-damned planet? Or at least if you're going to share it to the world, wouldn't it be nicer if you get the whole story out so readers can connect with that special experience more and not only read a string of endless hashtags and emoticons?
  5. Lastly, I want you to know that I didn't totally killed my INSTAGRAM account and like I said earlier it's a cool online sharing tool! I use it sparingly and only when needed like if an event or an activity warrants an IG share. I am more active on Twitter and Facebook but again I only use it as needed and sometimes when I just feel like using it (for no apparent reason). I guess the point is, technology, like everything else, should be mastered and used appropriately to our advantage and not US being slaves to its demands.
Sad to say, our passion for the latest in technology is leading us to a path where we are always in anticipation of what is coming out as the latest upgrades, trends and newest innovation. Not being able to enjoy fully what is currently on our hands until it's gone. We may admit it or not but as soon as people heard that an iPhone 5 is coming out, what's on everybody's mind is already an iPhone 6. That we, while taking a picture of a dish using INSTAGRAM are initially more concern of how it would look like after posting than how it tasted.

“Like a moth to a flame we become helpless to the beautiful ghosts that it sheds”

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Game of the Generals are for Geeks

I was a geek when I was growing up.  Geek - Nerd - Wimp.  Choose any or all, that WAS me.  With emphasis on the word WAS.  Well, I am still currently a BIT of a geek but this time with emphasis on the word BIT.  I consider that as an improvement.

Anyway, the point I'm driving at is this (check the pic below):
Yup, Game of The Generals.  While everyone was lining up for games like swimming, football, basketball, volleyball and other contact sports during our club sportsfest I would always enlist to compete in the highly dangerous and overly awesome tactical Game of the Generals.

And yes, this was considered before as part of the table games category of youth sports festivals along with Chess and Checkers.  I was going to go with Snakes and Ladders but that was too wimpy (beyond any chance of redemption) to be even considered as a fun games *hehehe*

Well anyway, I recently bought a Game of the Generals board game at Landmark to introduce it to my 'kulit bulilits' - since electronic gadgets and games will be banned during school days, I thought that it will be best to give them something new to play with as an alternative to their tablets, phones and DS games.

I can sense that I will have a hard time taking their attention away from their gadgets so this will help a lot during the painful 'withdrawal' period - I know how hard it is to part with something that you've grown attached to for a very long time - imagine a whole summer with their gadgets and with minor restrictions?

I was like that with a family computer - and yes I am that old too.

The Game of the Generals board game costs me 400 pesos.

How To Play:

It is designed for two players, just like in chess, and requires skills, strategy and a lot of intuition.  It has three important benefits to the players: 

  • It sharpens your memory
  • It improves deductive thinking
  • It develop awareness for strategy and organization.   

The game simulates armies at war trying to outsmart and outmaneuver each other.  The objective is to bring your flag to the opponents end or decimate your opponent's entire army and its flag.  I prefer doing the latter.

You won't be able to see the opponents tactical outfit and who you're up against and that's where the strategy sets in.

My youngest don't really like to play the game but she loves being the arbiter.  An arbiter is like a judge, he or she is the only one who can see the pieces of both players.  When a piece engages battle, it is the arbiter's duty to tell which piece loses or dies.

Okay so like I said I really love this game.  Another exciting fact about this award-winning board game is that it was designed in 1973 by Filipino inventor Ronnie Pasola Jr.

My geek side leveled-up from Game of the Generals to MTG card games to Mafia Wars but I was never really that into the online gaming thing like most kids today.  My game of choice during sports festivals also changed - I was into track n' field, volleyball, darts and football.

But Game of The Generals will always be one of my favorite games of all time.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

An Easter in Antipolo

Easter Sunday.  It was a rain-less and sunny Sunday, a perfect day to visit my sister in Antipolo, Rizal.

My sister who is two years younger than I am, recently moved together with her family from Cainta to Bankers Village in Antipolo.  Her place is located along Sumulong Hi-Way, a couple of meters away from her workplace in Assumption.  So it's very ideal and more practical for her to really get that house however far the location is from Metro Manila.

My daughter Sky is the one who was literally begging us to visit Antipolo so that she could have a whole-day playtime session with her two cousins - Maya and Pia (My sister's two daughters) and Seth (her new baby boy).

However, since after we've sold our van last year, it now became so very hard (and very expensive) for us to visit them specially after they've move to a farther location.  We couldn't visit them as much as we want to and they couldn't go to our place either.  We had to creatively schedule and time our visits correctly so that we could get to Antipolo the fastest time possible and with less traffic than usual.  Heavy traffic would mean more time on the road, less playtime for Sky and her cousins and more transportation expenses.

Our itinerary last Sunday was to go straight to Antipolo Church (Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage), then buy some 'pasalubongs' before going to my sister's house.

How much did we spend for transportation to and from Antipolo?

From Paco to Antipolo Simbahan (Taxi) - 440.00 (includes a 120 pesos tip)
From Antipolo to Bankers (Tricycle) - 50.00 
From Bankers to Ynares (Tricycle) - 40.00
From Ynares to Paco (Taxi) - 340.00 (includes a 40 pesos tip)

Total Transportation Expense: 870 pesos

If that was an ordinary day, that would be more costly.  But lesser if you go there alone and use all modes of tranportation.  From Paco, I would ride a Jeepney (8 pesos) going to Nagtahan and then another Jeepney (8 pesos) to LRT Pureza.  Ride the LRT all the way to Santolan (14 pesos) and then ride another Jeepney going to Antipolo (20 pesos).  So all in all, the whole trip would only cost me a little over 100 pesos plus a bit of time lost due to heavy traffic.    

Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage
Our first stop was Antipolo Church.  I can only imagine how busy the Parish of the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage was last Maundy Thursday and Good Friday since this was the final stop for hundreds people who participates in the annual lenten 'Alay Lakad' that starts at EDSA, Ortigas.  Way of the Cross markers were installed more than a decade ago along the stretch of Ortigas up to Tikling and all the way to Antipolo Church to guide pilgrims or trekkers on their spiritual journey.
Antipolo Marker
Just like all the other major Catholic Churches in the Philippines the parish is surrounded by a busy market place that sells local Antipolo delicacies like Suman, Casoy, and just about anything that you need.

The area is also now booming with mall-like structures, food restaurants and other boutiques.
I was trying to look for that store that sells those local donuts (the one rolled in sugar) but I couldn't find it anymore.  I hope they didn't go out of business.

After Antipolo Church we then went to Bankers Village for lunch, meryenda and dinner.  Sky got her wish and Neo got to play with Ora, the family dog who is so friendly and playful beyond compare that she wouldn't pass for a guard dog.

Here are more pictures:

Tam with the Kids
Maya Pia Sky
Barbecue for Meryenda
Neo and the Girls
Neo Maya Sky Pia
Ghost Neo
Neo and Pia
Neo Pia Sky Maya Rain and Seth




Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Visita Iglesia 2014

The highlight of Lent in the Philippines happens during the Liturgical Paschal Triduum which starts in the evening of Maundy Thursday and ends on Easter Sunday.

I have been involved in Church activities since the 6th Grade after a classmate invited me to join the Savio Friends Club of Saint Raphael Parish in Pasay City.  In fact, you could say that I was practically raised inside the church and most of my fondest childhood and teenage memories are rooted inside the Church.

After Savio Friends Club (a Salesian youth organization with Saint Dominic Savio as Patron Saint and model), I joined the Knights of the Altar and started serving during liturgical celebrations as a Sakristan.  I also joined other church groups like the Junior Legion of Mary, Tarcisian Adorers, church choir groups and the Catholic Youth Organization.

Next to advent (Christmas), the season of Lent is the busiest in the calendar of activities of various church youth organization.  Visita Iglesia is one of the activities that we really look forward to during this time of the year.  The religious pilgrimage is not only a way for us to enrich our faith but also serves as a wonderful bonding activity for the members of the group.

I miss being involved in church activities.

Although I am not anymore actively connected with my former groups in the church, I have maintained the Visita Iglesia tradition together with my family and occasionally with friends.

Last week, my family and I went around 7 Churches in the city of Manila starting with the newly restored Manila Cathedral or the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception followed by the San Agustin Church in Intramuros.  We then went to five more Churches: Nuestra Senora De Guia (Ermita Church), Saint Vincent De Paul Parish (Adamson), Saint Mary Goretti Parish (Pope Pius XII Catholic Center), Saint Peter the Apostle Parish and the San Fernando De Dilao Parish in Paco.

Manila Cathedral
San Agustin
Nuestra Senora De Guia
Saint Vincent de Paul

Saint Peter, Saint Mary Goretti and San Fernando De Dilao
I have started documenting our Visita Iglesia experiences through my other blog RAINCHECK since 2011. To see where we've been in the past, check out the stories below:

Monday, February 17, 2014


Ridiculous off the ceiling budget requirements for university fees, annual increases and minimal government support - this is how I would describe the Philippine educational system.  And you know what else is crazy, the country's TOP universities that charges the biggest amount of educational fees can't even make it to the Times Higher Education's Top 400 world university rankings.

I am not saying that the universities here in the Philippines are no good, in fact, there was a time when people all around the world would dream of getting an education here in the Philippines because back then, our  country was recognized as having some of the best and cheapest schools in the world.  Quality was at par with the biggest schools in other parts of the globe.

We failed to enter the world ranking for the fourth time in a row last 2013.  Still, tuition fees continue to rise. Absurd.

The lowest possible cost for each term for the Philippine's Top private universities would be on the 35K to 75K mark in Pesos.  While State Universities (if you're lucky) ranges from 700 to 25K Pesos.  Annually, that would cost you a minimum of 150K for the tuition fees alone at one of the Top 5 Private Universities in the Philippines.  Considering that schools increases its fees yearly at an average of 10% I am expecting to pay at least 400K Pesos of tuition expense for the first year of college education for my 10 year old daughter nine years from now.  That is if we survive our current primary school fees which  is already in the 40K mark.

The price of quality education in this country is anything but reasonable.

For a government that is very vocal about the importance of education for progress, they suck in supporting the reforms that they themselves authored.

Let's see, nine years from now... pay for a college education

  • Annual Tuition Fee: 400K (minimum)
  • Annual Misc. School Expense: 100K (minimum)
  • Annual Allowances and Transportation: 60K (minimum)
Total Annual: 560K (minimum)

Get a job after four years of college education...

  • Monthly Salary: 20K (possible minimum wage without deductions)
  • Annual Salary: 240K (possible minimum wage without deductions)
Not including all the investments made in pre-school, primary and high school, your ROI (Return of Investment) 'might' come after 10 to 15 years depending on the opportunities that come your way like job promotions, salary increases and side projects.  You however shorten the ROI period if you'll work outside of the country.

It is a given that Private educational institution as a business establishment needs to profit from their investments as well, but the point is, government should at least provide options to more students especially those who can't afford quality private education.

  • Increase the capacity or establish more State-owned colleges and State Universities to accommodate more students.
  • Elevate the quality of teaching in ALL State Universities - to be at par with the top universities in the world.
  • Put in more budget, to get the BEST teachers, the BEST instruction methodologies available and modernized the facilities and equipment of state-owned schools.
  • Further improve the Tuition Subsidy Program of the government to help more students.
  • Make primary education ABSOLUTELY FREE, especially to those living in the rural areas so they can get better chances in making it to College.
Government should realize that Free and Quality EDUCATION for ALL when prioritized can bring in more progress.  No more LIP service.  As parents gladly sacrifice hard-earned money to invest in their children's education however ridiculously high the fees are, so must the government invest on educating its young people no matter how high the INVESTMENTS are.  Because 10 or 15 years from now, those that they have nurtured with quality education will bring in more HOPE for a brighter future for our country.  Its people are still the Philippine's greatest asset and FREE EDUCATION is a much better investment than putting a huge amount of government budget on FREE CONDOMS.