Monday, December 29, 2008

Amateur Photography

Photography has always been one of my interests since i learned how to shoot when i was still in my college days. Too bad, i haven't had the chance to develop my skills either by taking up a course on photography or just by self education. i even don't have my own camera! So, do i have the right to write a blog about photography? Of course i do, this is a blog about my personal interests and who knows? Maybe someday (in the near future, i hope) i'll have my own digital slr.

I had the chance to shoot several photos using my previous employer's camera and since then, i knew what were my favorite subjects. On top of my list are scenes and landscapes. I enjoyed nature when i was in college and this interest was developed when i was employed at Haribon Foundation. I was fortunate enough to be sent once to the United Kingdom and several provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao and these trips provided a lot of practice to my interest.

My UK trip was the best since this was my first time to go abroad and i spent two weeks in a country which is totally different from ours. Although this was a business trip not leisure, i still had a couple of opportunities to shoot around with a digital camera. One of my favorite shots was an old school building in one of the cities located outside London. I didn't got the chance to go to different cities and towns but this school was really a good subject for an amateur photographer like me.

Next favorite shot was taken at Hyde Park located inside London. It was really nice walking inside the park late in the afternoon which was almost deserted because it rained a little. The peacefulness and tranquility of the scene plus the presence of several trees made me realize that i was really very fortunate to be there and appreciate God's blessings.

Another favorite is of course a shot of the famous London Bridge also known as the Tower Bridge. It was really funny when i took the shot because i was alone at that time, without a tour guide and the only help i had was a city map provided free from the city's subway stations. After alighting from the subway, i walked for about 15-20 minutes under a drizzle thinking the walk was worth it because it was my first time to see the bridge. Upon reaching the riverside, i was really surprised to see the famous London Bridge almost a kilometer away! It turned out that i made a wrong turn upon alighting from the subway. Well, i had no choice but to go back and make sure i will be heading at the right direction. After 30 minutes or more, i finally reached the bridge, took a lot of pictures and slowly crossed the bridge (twice) for me to remember the day i experienced crossing the famous London Bridge.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Give the Gift of Trees

Haribon Foundation, a non-government organization in the Philippines has started the Give the Gift of Tree project since last year and has received lots of support from private companies and individuals. Although the program has received several support from Filipinos, we have yet to tap the enormous market and support from millions of people who are known as bloggers all over the world. This project if known and supported by the people who blog everyday and post ads to blogsites everyday, Haribon's goal of planting trees to reforest One Million Hectares of rainforest by the year 2020 will definitely be accomplished.

How can we help? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Support the program by buying seedlings. You can go personally to Haribon Foundation's office and pay the minimum amount of P 75 per seedling. A certificate will be given to you and the seedling will be planted in your name.

2. Send donations. You can send donations through deposits BPI (Bank of the Philippine Islands). Click this link for instructions.

3. Donate online through PAYEASY payment facility. Click this link for instructions.

4. Help spread the word and post an article or two on your own websites or blogsites.

5. Support Haribon Foundation by being a member. You can learn more about the organization's projects and activites through their website. You may click this link.

I hope you can help support the project by buying seedlings or by simply help in spreading the word through your blogs. This Give the Gift of Trees is not limited this Christmas Season. You can use this gift for a relative or friend's birthday, anniversary gift, baptism gift, wedding gift or giveaways or even corporate gifts. Each seedling you purchase, you can help us in providing hope in our future and our children's children future.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Giving to Charity this Christmas Season

Christmas is just around the corner and everybody is busy buying gifts and preparing for Christmas eve and Christmas day. December is also a busy month for weddings. In fact, my wife and I have attended 1 wedding last weekend and another tomorrow. December is indeed one of the busiest and most anticipated month of the year. Try looking for food caterers during this month and you will be very lucky to find a good one. Chances are, good caterers are fully booked everyday until January next year. People attend all sorts of parties, Christmas parties, reunions, weddings, birthdays, office parties and New Year parties.

Since everybody is so busy these days, have you thought of the people who are less fortunate? Have you considered having your party to an orphanage or a place for the elderly? Have you participated to your church activities for the poor this Christmas season?

Honestly, most of the time, I haven't thought of this for a long time. I have been involved in a number of charity programs when i was in college but after school i have been too busy working. I worked for an environment organization for 3 years which somehow helped people most especially people living outside Metro Manila. My previous work, last year, was with Philippine Business for Social Progress which again reminded me of the need to help people who are less fortunate. I was specifically assigned to a program to help public schools get assistance from private companies. I visited a number of schools in Navotas, Malabon, Valenzuela and Caloocan. I was really shocked to learn that most of the public schools have 3 shifts, meaning 1 shift from early morning to afternoon, another from afternoon to evening and the last was late afternoon to late evening. To think that they are only high school students. The average number of students in a section is 80-90 students, and one year consists of 20-30 sections. If you make a computation, 90 students times 20 sections, that's 1800 students in one year level. Multiply it to 4 year levels and you get 7200 students! Can you imagine the state of public school system here in Metro Manila? These public schools only have limited classrooms and overworked and underpaid teachers. How can 1 teacher teach 90 students in one section?

I have a personal mission and this includes helping our environment and our educational system. I know that i might have a minimal impact but i know no matter how little my efforts are, at least i know i helped to the best that i can. Who knows if i become successful in blogging, i might make a difference in our public school system. I could not forget the feeling when i was personally thanked by the head of the school after assisting them in getting a donation from a private company to improve their library and computer class facilities. What more if personally i was able to contribute to improve their condition? That will be one of my personal goals in life.

Converting to LPG Powered Vehicle

Since July this year, I have been considering converting our vehicle to use LPG instead of ordinary gasoline. From July to October this year, gas prices have skyrocket because of the financial crisis in the states. Fortunately after gas prices reached as high as P 60.00 per liter, the demand all over the world has slumped which prompted oil companies to reduce their prices which was very beneficial to ordinary people like me. Gas prices went down, and just today, unleaded gasoline is only P 35.00 per liter. If you are using E10 like me, liter is cheaper by 1 peso.

Since gas prices went down to almost 50%, i could say i saved a lot. But this did not stop me from thinking of converting to LPG. When gas prices were P 60 per liter, LPG is around P 39 per liter. Now that gas prices is P 35 per liter, LPG prices also went down to as low as P19 per liter. That means, if you fill up 10 liters of gas, you spend P350, but if you have 10 liters of LPG, you only spend P 190! Wow! Imagine how long will your P500 last for LPG?

There are a few downsides on converting to LPG though. First, its expensive to convert. Last time i checked, its about P 35,000 to P 60,000 depending on the technology and parts installed. Next, you have to go to a specialized mechanic to maintain your system, no more dependency to my reliable Banawe mechanic. Another disadvantage is limited trunk space. Since my ride is a 1995 Honda Civic ESI, trunk space is not that big. Converting to LPG will put a gigantic tank which will occupy 50% of my trunk space. Where will our baby stuff go? What if we plan to go out of town on holidays? Definitely no space for big luggages and shopping for pasalubong. I can not risk on getting a donut type LPG tank to get the space for my spare tire. What if i got a flat while traveling? Will my flat tire last until i reach a vulcanizing shop?

Still a lot of points to consider. But i know gas prices will not stay low for a long time so i have to decide what to do in the coming months. I also tried to join internet groups on using hydrogen to power their vehicles. They are a big group but after reading their posts and blogs, i got lost to their scientific mumbo jumbo. Too technical for me. Plus i'm really not confident playing with my car's engine parts.

I would appreciate any suggestions.... I do need a second, third and fourth opinion regarding this matter.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas Gift for Leon

Its 19 days before Christmas and my wife and I haven't begun Christmas gifts shopping. We are trying to save money for the holidays and at the same time managing a newly opened business. Its really difficult if you are only dependent on your salary to spend this Christmas season.

Anyway, one of our priorities is to give a nice gift to my son Leon. We are not looking for an expensive toy, clothes, gadget or shoes but a gift which he can really enjoy. One of our choices is of course a good storybook. Most of his storybooks are old although he still enjoys a number of them. He also needs a few shirts, pants and short pants. He's grown up so fast that most of his clothes are either too short or already tight fit. He also needs a new pair of shoes or sandals. He only has 2 pairs and both of them are used very often. Another good gift is a new ball. He always enjoys playing with balls even when we go to the supermarket or toy stores during weekends.

I am also considering a pet fish for him. He enjoys looking at aquariums when we go to the malls during weekends. He has a heart for animals because he loves dogs, birds, rabbits and even waves hello and goodbyes to fishes.

Its really exciting this Christmas season because this year, Leon will appreciate all the events, lights and decorations more compared when he was just a toddler last year. This year was also his second time to watch the Greenhills Shopping Center Christmas presentation and hopefully we can also watch the fireworks display at the Ayala Center on New Year's eve.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Manny Pacquiao - Oscar dela Hoya Dream Match

Its 3 days to go before the Dream Match between Manny Pacquiao and Oscar dela Hoya. Much has been said and written about the match up and the two boxers. Both have been elevated to Boxing's Hall of Fame recognized by boxing writers and fans all over the world. Its too bad, after the match, one boxer has to win and one has to lose, except if it will be a draw of course.

I have been an Oscar dela Hoya fan for some years now because this guy has so much poise before, during and after a boxing bout. No wonder he is still the number 1 guy in boxing to generate lots of income in one single fight. I kind of expected him to win over Floyd Mayweather Jr. but i guess, Floyd is too classy for him, not to mention Floyd's superb defense.

This time, Oscar will be matched with Pacquiao, probably the best Filipino boxer as of this time. Manny has already surpassed the record of Elorde whom we considered the best since Manny arrived. When Manny got his 4th world division title, which eluded Elorde twice, it is safe to say that Manny has surpassed Elorde's achievement with all due respect to Elorde's family and fans.

I agree that this match is the biggest test of Manny's career. Oscar is 2 weight divisions heavier and has height and reach advantage. He even hired the services of Nacho Beristain, Juan Manuel Marquez's trainer who actually knows Manny's weaknesses given the 2 matches against JMM that was controversial up to this day. Oscar also got the services of the former trainer of Muhammad Ali, the greatest boxer of all time. To sum it all, Oscar has all the resources to use in order to win this fight.

How about Manny? Manny's advantage is his heart, speed, power and youth. Manny has Freddie Roach with him who trained Oscar for one bout against Mayweather. This is definitely a big match for him. Win or lose, Filipinos will be very proud of this warrior and will forever remember his name as one of the greatest Pinoy boxer of all time. Hopefully when Manny retires, other Pinoy boxers will follow his footsteps.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Disadvatages of Buying new Phones

This Christmas season, everybody is busy in organizing their schedules and thoughts on what to do this Christmas. On top of each person's list is what gifts will be bought for relatives, friends or even officemates or classmates. Next on the list is what to prepare for Christmas Eve and finally, one of the most important is what to buy to reward yourself after a year of hard work and saving.

A Christmas wishlist differs depending on one's priorities. For example, if you are a parent, maybe majority of your priorities are things to buy for the house or for the kids. If you are a single and career oriented person, a new car, laptop or any gadget to help make your job easier will probably be a priority. If you are a business person or a student, one of the most common purchases this holiday season will most probably be a new mobile or cellphone.

Buying a new cellphone we assume doesn't bring harm to anyone. We actually think that we are helping telephone and network companies in their business which in turn provides jobs, opportunities and income. What we don't know is the harmful effects of owning one and changing phones regularly once, twice or maybe several times a year. I recently read an article about the disadvatages of buying new mobile phones in Haribon Foundation's Multiply site and it was a learning experience for me. To read the full article, please click on this link.

To summarize the article, here are a few facts:

1. Every second 35 mobile phones are produced globally
2. 2 years ago, 1 billion mobile phones have already been produced to meet the world's demand
3. Materials needed to produce mobile phones came from mining companies which in one way or another affect the environment or locations they mine
4. Hundreds of hectares of forest has been cleared to give way to mining activities
5. Mining has affected the drinking water, ground water habitat of wild animals
6. Poor labor conditions has affected the lives of miners and their families around the world
7. Irresponsible dumping of e-wastes has affected the lives of hundreds of families as well.

So, what can we do to help? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Try to limit yourself to one mobile phone unit. For business people, I know you need 2 or 3 units for different networks but can you at least sacrifice for the greater good?
2. Try to avoid cellphone buying frenzy. New models offer good services and better performance, but do we really use our phones more than just calling or sending a text message?
3. Try to dispose cellphone units to proper places. A lot of recycling companies are looking for old batteries and mobile units to recycle the usable components inside.
4. Avoid buying cellphones for children. Kids do not really need these gadgets. If you need to communicate with your child regularly, just buy one unit that will last long and avoid the fad.
5. Take care of your unit. When was the last time you had your mobile phone for more than a year? Try to buy protective cases/bags to protect your phones from accidents.

Can you add any more tips? I appreciate if you do.....