Monday, December 28, 2009

Plans for the year 2010

My wife and I have been anticipating this coming 2010 as one of our most productive years. First and foremost, looking back at 2009, we had several accomplishments and we really thank God for all the blessings he gave us. Thank God for our good health and opportunities that come in our way. Since 2010 will be within a few days, i will prepare a list of our plans, or let's say our prayer wishes so I can look back by December 2010 and analyze our achievement and blessings we received.

Here is a list of our plans and prayer wishes:

1. For my wife to have a safe and healthy delivery of our second child
2. To have our second baby baptized within a month or two after his or her birthday
3. To renovate our house bathroom
4. To renovate our kitchen and dining area
5. To finish car repairs specifically shock absorbers and other under chassis parts
6. To have our car's paint restored through rubbing
7. To buy car seat covers
8. To buy new car mats
9. To buy or repair our bed and add beds for our son and for the new baby
10. To get a decent salary increase
11. To earn from blogging and get a payout every month
12. To help my sister and her family look for a new house
13. To help my sister by a new van for her food business
14. To have a new watch
15. To have a new pair of sneakers
16. To increase our savings and start (again) to look for our own home
17. To start the application for a house loan through Pag-Ibig Fund
18. To look for a new nanny for our second child
19. To renew our exercise habit, walking and jogging around UP Diliman or Marikina Sports Complex
20. To teach my son how to ride a bike
21. To learn a new recipe to cook
22. To enroll my wife to a driving school and get her a new license
23. To help my wife fix our legal documents (marriage, birth, etc.)
24. To pay the land tax of my wife's parents' house
25. To buy new tiles for our house
26. To buy a new electric fan for our room
27. To pay at least half of my credit card balance
28. To learn internet SEO
29. To meet more internet and blogging friends
30. To donate more to our church and to Haribon Foundation
31. To increase our son's savings for his future
32. To help my wife's mom get the retirement pay of her late husband
33. To help my friends learn how to earn online
34. To buy our own camera
35. To have time to learn photography skills

It is a long list, but I know, and I believe with God's help, we will be able to accomplish most, if not all our plans and prayer wishes for the coming year. Hopefully everything will come out fine.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas 2009

My family and I celebrated Christmas this year at home together with my mom-in-law and brother-in-law. We attended the midnight mass and arrived at home an hour before midnight. I had enough time to cook the pasta sauce for our spaghetti and prepare other dishes for our Noche Buena. Everyone was very happy and excited. After dinner, it was time for the kids (my nieces) and my son to open their much anticipated gifts from their parents, relatives and friends.

My son enjoyed every minute opening his gifts. He particularly enjoyed receiving a new pair of Crocs sandals, 3 Transformers toy robots and several toy trucks and cars. I was really happy seeing him enjoy his gifts and my wife and I are really grateful to all our relatives and friends who gave gifts to my son. It was also nice seeing my nieces enjoy their new dresses and stuff toys given by their grandmom and their uncle.

My wife and I also decided to give a gift for ourselves this year, we got a new desktop so we can be active in blogging here at home compared to going out to internet cafes when we decide to write a post or visit our friends' sites. We also decided that it was time to take advantage of earning online while at home most especially for my wife when she will be staying at home after giving birth to our second child this coming May. Hopefully everything turns out well so we can have other sources of income other than our regular day jobs. We are praying that the coming year will be very fruitful for us so we can eventually start looking for our own place and call it our own home.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Gift For The Environment

This holiday season, people are very busy finishing their work and shopping for Christmas gifts for their friends and love ones. Other than the usual gifts we buy from the malls and bargain stores, we might want to consider giving a unique gift. Haribon Foundation is still selling tree seedlings as a gift and upon purchase, you will receive a certificate of donation saying you have purchased seedlings to be planted at Haribon's rainforestation sites in the Philippines.

You may indicate your friend or relative's name on the certificate so it will show that you have donated in behalf of your friend's name. My wife and I have given several certificates to our relatives and friends last Christmas and upon reading their names on the certificates of donation, they really appreciated our Gift of Tree.

To know more about the Gift of Tree program of Haribon, you may visit their website at or you may call at 02-4211209. You can also purchase other items such as kiddie books, research books, kids and adults t-shirts, postcards, bird stickers and a lot of other souvenirs. All proceeds will go to Haribon Foundation's environmental conservation projects within Metro Manila and several provinces around the country.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Manny Pacquiao - Philippine's Boxing Legend

Filipino athletes have been known to be very determined even against all odds. We have Manny Pacquiao, Gabriel "Flash" Elorde, Jerry Penalosa, Luisito Espinosa, Onyok Velasco, Efren "Bata" Reyes, Django Bustamante, Paeng Nepomuceno, Caloy Loyzaga, Robert Jaworski, Ramon Fernandez, Benjie Paras, Eric Buhain, Akiko Thomson, Tony Leviste, Lydia de Vega, Elma Muros and so many others. Even with limited resources and minimal support from the national government, these athletes have contributed pride and glory to our nation. The Philippines, though has not won a single gold medal at the Olympics, have continued to defy odds and challenge other athletes from different parts of the world.

Manny Pacquiao may be considered the country's greatest boxer. No other boxer, even abroad has won 7 different weight divisions. Even the Golden Boy Oscar dela Hoya or Floyd Mayweather has not earned this feat. Both have won only 6 weight division belts. Don't underestimate that, winning 6 different weight divisions is amazing, winning 7 is crazy. No matter how you put it, Pacquiao's achievement has never been done before, and not only that, his past 4 fights, Diaz, Dela Hoya, Hatton and Cotto are all very convincing wins, 3 were knockouts and 1 by submission. These 4 boxers were all heavier, taller and are said to be more powerful than him in terms of punches. His only clear advantage was his speed. But in the end, his speed was only one of his skills. He has matured into an intelligent boxer, thanks to his coach and trainer, Freddie Roach.

Filipinos should be very proud of Manny Pacquiao. We may not have another boxer of his stature in probably 10-20 years. All the news about his extra marital affairs are all being blown out of proportion by the media. People who judge him are being unfair. If all the gossips about him are true, who are we to judge the guy? Are we no different? Haven't we done anything wrong in our lives that we were ashamed to admit? People say that it is unfair to his wife and children, which is true, but we should not exploit the issue by showing their emotions on national television and talking about their lives at showbiz talk shows. Manny Pacquiao is a public figure who should be responsible since he is idolized by many, but he is still a normal human being who commits mistakes. Nobody is perfect, it is just very poor judgment that the media is exploiting his weaknesses, all just for earning more and more millions for their media corporation.

Manny Pacquiao is a gift to us Filipinos and we should thank God and him for bringing pride and glory to Filipinos all over the world. Let us try to be decent human beings and give what is due to Manny. Not only did he brought pride to us but he has helped thousands of Filipinos by donating funds to typhoon victims and provided jobs to his people in General Santos through his businesses. He will try for the second time to run for public office because he believes he can help more if he is elected. All of these are from his fists which once were hitting coconut trees when he was just a young boy dreaming to be a good boxer one day.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Applying for US Visa

Ask any Filipino you know and most probably they have a relative or a friend living in the States. We are a nation of people who treats the US as our second nation ever since they set foot on our nation during the Spanish regime. Our parents, uncles, aunts and just about anybody in their generation tried to go to the states either by looking for work or just want to have a vacation. It was generally known that if one goes to the states, life is better there, easier and you earn more. If you pass by the US Embassy, chances are you will see a lot of people applying for a visa or are scheduled for an interview. Is the grass really greener there?

I have known a few people who tried to apply for a visa. An adult who had a scholarship to the states was denied. Another who has no plans of working there, who owns a small business here was granted a visa, a couple who planned to have their honeymoon there - the husband was granted but the wife denied and another person who plans to accompany her father to see their relatives there was denied twice. People say that consuls at the embassy do not have a clear criteria on granting a visa or denying one. They say that one must have a fat bank account, travel experiences abroad and good credit standing will help. Basing on a friend's story, it does not work that way. They say that consuls just rely on their gut feelings. Do you think that is fair?
As for me, i hope that i will not be required to get a US Visa in the future. I have no plans in going there. I heard that life there is more difficult than here. It makes twice as difficult because you will miss your family here. The only logical reason for applying for a US Visa is work there pays better compared here, far much better. Vacation? There are other places better to visit. How about Europe? Other Asian countries are also worthwhile to have a vacation.

I really hope that the time will come that Filipinos will not be so restricted in going abroad, not just to the US but other first world countries as well. Filipinos are known to be very hardworking and family-oriented. Since the government here can not provide enough and decent jobs that can pay well, Filipinos should be given a fair chance to work abroad. As we all know, the government very much rely on remittances sent by OFWs to their families here, so it is logical that we need more opportunities.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Million Hectare Walk Year 3

Haribon Foundation for the third straight year will have its annual Million Hectare Walk on November 22, 2009, Sunday from 6am to 11am at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Nature Center in Quezon City. The Million Hectare Walk is one of the most successful events of Haribon and for the past 2 years and the event has attracted a lot of walkers and a lot of pledges which made the past 2 events very successful.

Our family participated for the past 2 years and this year will be our third year. During the first year, it was I who did the walking. I gathered pledges from relatives and friends but Leon, our son, had more pledges last year. It was also last year that Leon was awarded the youngest walker and my wife and I were very proud of him because it was the first time he went up a stage and receive an award which was also applauded by participants who gathered inside the amphitheater.

This year will be Leon's 3rd year and again we will gather friends and relatives to pledge for him. Hopefully we raise more funds this year and influence his cousins to walk with him too. Hopefully this event will be memorable for him so that when he grows up he can look back and say that he has contributed a lot for environment conservation.

If you would like to participate or just contribute by making a pledge to walkers, you can visit Haribon Foundation's site at:

or you can contribute by adopting a seedling for just P 75.00 per seedling. Visit

See you there!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Planning to buy a Laptop

I have started to save because my wife and I are planning to buy a laptop this Christmas. I have been looking for an affordable one with relatively good specifications and availability of parts in case we need them in the future. Among the laptop brands we are considering are the following:

1. Acer
2. Asus
3. Compaq
4. MSI
5. E Machines

We considered the mini laptops before but the processor speed is a bit low and we need to buy an external dvd rom to use in case we want to install programs by using CDs. Plus we love taking pictures and we really need a dependable cd writer.

I am also considering to buy a desktop since the specs are far better than laptops, but being handy and portable is a laptop's advantage so we are still considering to buy a laptop than a desktop. How about a Mac Mini? Is it a good investment?

Laptops and PC are really a necessity nowadays but having one limits my time to my family when I am at home. How about you? How do you balance your time while working, spending time on line and having quality time for your family?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Metro Manila Land Value After Typhoon Ondoy

Last year, my wife and I seriously considered getting a loan from Pag-Ibig Fund to get a small house for our family. Among the sites we considered were Antipolo, Marikina, Pasig, Cavite and Fairview in QC. Most of the houses we liked placed on ads were a bit expensive and we were not able to start because we need to save for the 10-20% downpayment. I guess it was a blessing in disguise, if we had the money then, we could have bought a house in Marikina or Pasig area. Although they were a bit more expensive than houses in Antipolo, the locations were near to our place of work. After Typhoon Ondoy, Marikina and Pasig were the hardest hit within Metro Manila and after the casualties and death, many are still in the hospital fighting for their lives from diseases they got from the floods.

I could just imagine people who were selling the houses in new subdivisions in Pasig and Marikina which were priced between 2-4 million. A similar townhouse we liked in Antipolo priced at 1.6 million was priced around 2.5-3 million in Pasig. The townhouses were almost sold out and I pity people who just bought their house in Pasig. Pasig area was priced high because of its proximity to Makati, Mandaluyong and Quezon City area but after the floods, what will be the land value per sq. meter in Pasig. Even in Marikina, houses in Provident Village were upscale since it is one of the prime properties in the city. Definitely, people who are looking to buy a house would definitely avoid Pasig and Marikina areas now.
There were also several areas in Quezon City that were flooded during Typhoon Ondoy. Manila, Malabon, Kalookan, some parts of Makati and Taguig were also flooded. I did not hear any serious flooding in Cavite and Laguna areas except Sta. Cruz which was too far. Does this mean it is safe to consider investing a property in Cavite and Laguna?
Land values started to increase whenever a mall, school or an upscale subdivision gets constructed. This is a factor to consider but realty companies should also consider elevation, good drainage and proper zoning. Ordinary people like me do not know these things and we get to be carried away whenever the land is developed by a well known real estate company. How about condominums? Is it now safe to say that it is better to invest in a condo so there is a less chance of being flooded? What if the area gets flooded too? Is it better to be stranded than to see your house gets flooded?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Will Pinoys elect Erap Again?

I got a glimpse from the tv yesterday, or i think 2 days ago that Erap has announced he will run again for the presidential elections next year. So, what else is new? People have been expecting his announcement months ago and he was just waiting for the perfect timing. Was the timing perfect? I don't think so. In fact, it was a bad timing after all the calamities that happened for the past weeks.

After he got the presidential pardon when he was convicted of the crimes he committed to the Filipino people, there were several conditions given to him. First, he must not run for any public office position ever again. Did he comply? No he did not. Next, it was clearly stated that he must return all ill gotten wealth he got when he was president. Did he comply? Again he did not. Next he told Filipinos that he will try his best to unite the opposition so they can fight corruption and make changes from the present administration. Did he fulfilled his promise? Again he did not. Instead of supporting a strong opposition candidate which was Noynoy Aquino and following sacrifices made by Mar Roxas and other opposition candidates, Erap was not moved. Nobody can stop him. He just want to be president again and fulfill his dreams.

If Erap wins, this shows how ignorant Filipinos are in choosing a leader that can help improve our lives. It is true that Erap made a lot of positive things when he was president but the negative things were just too much. And by declaring his intention of running again, it shows his true character.....which is a person who cannot even follow his own word and promises. A person whom nobody can trust to be a leader, much more a president of a nation.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Typhoon Ondoy

By this time, there could have been a lot of stories on what happened last Saturday to thousands of Metro Manila residents and nearby provinces that were directly hit by the typhoon. Up to this time, several areas and subdivisions are still submerged with flood waters caused by the typhoon. What can we do? We can help through donations or volunteer work. ABSCBN and GMA 7 are asking donations and volunteers and we can help by participating in their relief efforts.

What happened is definitely nature showing us that no matter how advanced our technology is, in the end nature will still prevail. What we can do is take care of our environment and pray that we can recover quickly from natural calamities. If we watched the news for the past 2 days, one can observe that flood waters are usually brown in color. These waters are from the mountains near Rizal, Bulacan, Tarlac and Pampanga. The Sierra Madre mountain range starts in Northern Luzon and ends in Rizal and Laguna. Brown waters came down from the mountains collecting silt and mud. The flood water we see around Pasig and Marikina are heavily silted which only means water came from the mountains going to the river and causing it to everflow. Silt turns into mud which makes rivers turn shallow and clog areas in addition to the garbage thrown by residents near river areas. What causes silt and mud to go to the rivers? Soil is loosened because of heavy logging, mining and irresponsible actions we do to our mountains. Can we say now that nature is responsible to the calmity we experienced for the past 2 days? Definitely not. Nature is there to remind us. It is just unfortunate that we still have to learn our lesson after so many deaths and properties damaged.

Maybe after we donate and do volunteer work, we should think long term and consider the situation very well. Please join efforts in reforestation and tree planting so we can make a difference to the generations ahead us. Please spread information that beyond the natural calamity and heavy rainfall we experienced, we still need to spread the information in preserving our environment. Join forest conservation efforts now and make a difference in the future.

Monday, September 7, 2009

My Love for Biking

When i was a kid, i really was into bikes. I remember when my mom bought me my first bike, a red one with 2 small tires at the back to support me from falling down. Then i had my 2nd bike, a bigger one, colored green with no more small tires at the back because i already knew how to balance and ride my bike. My third bike was a bmx model bike. It was the most famous model during the 80's and eventhough we were not rich, i begged my mom and dad to buy me a new one. I finally got my own bmx bike, probably as a birthday or Christmas gift and i remember every part of it until this very day. I proudly rode my bike anywhere, even to school (eventhough i have my schoolbus), and i love it when there are jeepney strikes because my mom had no choice but to let me ride my bike to go to school.

When i got too old for my bmx bike, i tried to venture into mountain bikes. These bikes cost a fortune and college had too many expenses for me to buy my own bike. Plus bike riding was not really my hobby then. I was into mountain hiking and snorkeling. After college, when i worked in Haribon Foundation, i got an opportunity to organize a big fund raising event that involved cyclists and runners. Little did i know that upon meeting people who are so into outdoor biking, it rekindled my interest in riding a bike. My friend even offered me a bike which was for sale then, it was very basic, with good parts and it cost around 15K. I had little savings then and i could ask for further discount but unfortunately, it did not materialize. A few months after, i had the chance to own my first car. I enjoyed every bit of it and again, lost interest in bikes. Once in a while, when we visit UP Diliman to jog or just play in the open field with my wife and son, i see people riding their bikes and wondered if i will be able to buy my own in the future.

Two weeks ago, when we went to Cartimar to buy things for our aquarium and an orchid for my wife's mom, i saw a few bike shops. I decided to have a look before going home. It was a wrong move. I saw lots of models, parts, i even asked for the prices of bikes which i think looks good and since then, i could not get it out of my mind. How can i be into bikes again? I have a car i love, which was a bit expensive to maintain, a 2 year old son who loves to eat and does not got tired of drinking milk and a salary which was competitive 5 years ago. My wife and i were even planning to buy a laptop this Christmas and buying a bike was really out of the budget. I guess, i have to wait and see. I now understand that my love for bikes is just like my love for cars. No matter what i do to forget it or put them aside, it will still be with me and remind me once in a while. It won't stop until i get it. Hopefully, in the near future, i will be able to afford it. Probably when my son learns to ride?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Discovery Channel

Watching TV is probably one of the most popular ways to relax and enjoy your free time. When i was a kid, i remembered i memorized all the tv shows per day during prime time (when soap operas are not "in" yet). Now that cable channel is available, when my son is done watching cartoons, i enjoy watching tv when i am home after work.

One of my favorite channels is Discovery Channel and Discovery Turbo. I learn a lot from their programs. Lately i have been focusing on Discovery Turbo because as i blogged before, i love automobiles. They have several programs where they modify ordinary looking cars into really nice ones. Not only cars but pick ups, vans and trucks too! They have this program called Trick my Truck where a group of people pick an ordinary truck driver and owner and redesign the whole truck. They redesign not only the color and interior but they also provide different equipment like lcd monitors, laptops and good sleeping mattresses in case the truck driver's family or children rides along with them in a long trip. Everything they do, they do it for free.

I hope these programs inspire Pinoys who are gifted financially to help others who barely can afford a paint job or engine repair. I know there are more Filipinos who cannot afford to buy even a second hand car but to those who can, maintaining their vehicles is entirely a different ballgame. Seeing and using a nicely painted car and a well maintained engine will add confidence to an individual which can help him or her go through challenges he faces every single day.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mafia Wars, Street Racing and Facebook

I was not into Facebook before but recently, i got hooked up in Mafia Wars and Street Racing. My limited time for blogging went all to playing these games in Facebook. I knew i will be addicted to these games when my friend invited me but i tried it anyway. Now i have been looking forward everyday to play until i reach high levels or until i got bored. Some friends invited me too at Farmville and poker, i am sure i will be hooked up to those games too so i have not tried them yet.

Internet games are so addictive that i hear DJs in radio stations talking about couples having problems because they have limited time for each other. After spending most of their time working or studying, they will immediately log on to internet games, usually in Facebook and build a good reputation. Family time or time with your loved ones are sacrificed and people end up spending more time or socializing with friends on the net. Sometimes we have to think twice before joining any social networking sites because definitely it will get time from our usual daily activities.

Even Bayantel has been aggressively promoting their products and have come up with a new and effective way of advertising. Lola Techie is all over TV, billboards and streamers and they even had an event introducing internet to senior citizens like her. I heard Lola Techie say that she was really thankful that she knows how to use the internet and she urged people her age to try internet too. Can you imagine when our grandparents are also hooked up in Facebook and other social networking sites? What will happen to the good old quality time with the family. Will there be Christmas seasons, special family occasions and reunions if everybody is hooked up in the web?

Internet has its advantages and disadvantages and it is up to us to manage our time wisely and learn to prioritize what or who are really important to us.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

My Top 10 Emerging Influential Blogs for 2009

I have been in the blogging world since October 2008 and have met a lot of bloggers since then. I have seen great personal blogs, money-making sites, recipe blogs, health related blogs, travel blogs, sports blogs and anything under the sun blogs. It is such a big blog world out there that everyday i get to meet different people, visit new places and read different experiences. Blogging has been a life for me and i guess my day would not be complete without reading blogs.

As a relatively new blogger, i have my list of Top 10 Emerging Influential Blogs for 2009 as a part of Ms. Janette Toral's project as a way of giving recognition to blogs to readers like me. This is my list:


This project will not be possible without the support of the following sponsors:
Absolute Traders
My Brute Cheats
Business Summaries
Fitness Advantage Club
Events and Corporate Video
Dominguez Marketing Communications
Red Mobile

Congratulations to all of you and continue blogging!

Cory Aquino - An Ideal Philippine Leader

Cory Aquino may be one of the best presidents the Philippines has ever had in our country's colorful history. This statement may be debated by a lot of Filipinos but i believe we owe our democracy to her when she made the decision to run for president after her husband Senator Ninoy Aquino was assassinated after returning from a 3-year exile in the United States. Tita Cory has made a lot of friends and enemies during her term but it did not stop her from leading her countrymen against the abuse and corruption of present politicians.

Presidents elected after her term should be grateful to her because she was the one who made the sacrifice of running for president, risking herself and her family even after her husband was killed due to politics. The 3 presidents after her, never made her an important adviser of their governments because they can only saw her mistakes when she was the president. She was the guinea pig for them and they made sure they would not be a part of her during their time as the president. They can only show their respect and gratitude to her now that she has already passed away.

Tita Cory has made mistakes because she is human and she has never imagined to be a politician. She does not have any experience, even in the local level but she listened to the people and decided to be the leader of the nation. She even survived several bloody coup attempts by the military who swore to defend her administration. Even the Catholic church who were the ones who convinced her to run even criticized her during her term.

For me, Tita Cory is a true leader. She made sacrifices and decisions which were unpopular. She always put God first and remained to be humble. She is the exact opposite of her showbiz daughter who always prioritizes and thinks of herself before anybody else. She is a gift all Filipinos should be thankful for. Come to think of it, it was God's will for her the be our leader and not her husband. For me, it was His way of telling us that Tita Cory was the one for us that time and she was the best the country can have after 20 years under the leadership of a fallen dictator.

Tita Cory, thank you very much for being our leader and may God bless you as you begin another journey.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Condominiums for Sale

Condominiums are really selling big nowadays. If you go to malls during weekdays or weekends, chances are, you will see sales agents giving flyers of the condo units they are selling, complete with a miniature model displayed in a small booth. Trade fairs and events are favorite venues for agents selling condos and if you are looking for one, chances are you'll have lots of choices by now.

SM and Robinson's have joined the bandwagon of selling high rise condominiums recently. Robinson's has a high end condo under construction in the middle of Ortigas area and SM just finished 3 towers along Aurora Boulevard near SM Sta. Mesa. At the same time, Megaworld Corporation is almost done with its own 3 condominium towers in Cubao, Quezon City. Ayala, through Avida Land is constructing Avida condominiums in different locations in Quezon City, Makati and Manila. These are the well known companies known to be involved in different types of businesses. How about companies who are the realty business since day one? They too, are putting up condominiums around the metro and offering competitive rates against the big companies i mentioned.

Are condominiums really in demand nowadays? Can the average Filipino who works from Mondays to Fridays afford to buy one? Last time i checked, the cheapest units being sold ranges from 9,000 - 11,000 a month. This does not include the initial downpayment, taxes, other fees and parking rates. These units are so small, about 30-36 sq. meters, has 1 bedroom, a bathroom and kitchen, dining and living room all located in one area. It is made for single people, but if one decides to have a family of his own, a bigger place is a must. Maybe OFWs are the ones purchasing condos which is why the demand is high. I was told by an agent before that companies would not start construction if the units would not be sold out. So I guess, the demand is really high.

How about you, do you live in a condo? Are you planning to buy one? Is it a good investment?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Support for a Charity

There are a lot of institutions here in the country that are founded and organized to help people who are in need. A number of them are international non-government organizations that decided to set up locally to widen their reach and help more. Everyone is familiar with organizations like Unicef, Red Cross, Caritas, Greenpeace, etc., and that in one way or another had supported them through activities announced by the local media.

ABS-CBN and GMA 7, the two biggest TV networks in the Philippines has their own charitable institutions they support. A big factor of their success may be attributed to their wide reach through media and easy access for donations, cash or in kind. Most of the time, during typhoons and other natural calamities, these 2 networks have been very active in supporting local governments by asking donations through TV, radio and print and effectively sending donations to affected areas. Projects are not limited to natural calamities but also to people who need medical support but could not afford to pay bills in the hospital. Even students who need education support are beneficiaries of projects and donations from these two networks.

Personally, I believe, each and everyone should have a charity to support to share blessings given to us everyday. Most of us are lucky that we graduated from decent schools and have a regular income from work or personal businesses. Giving to church is good but I believe each person has a unique gift that we can share to our less fortunate brothers and sisters. Sometimes, we think monetary donations are the only things we can give but we can also support them in many other ways. It is just finding the right charity or organization that you believe in and decide to support. Giving and sharing should not be done only during the holiday season but all year round. A list of certified non-government institutions may be found in PCNC's website (Philippine Council for NGO Certification). These organizations have been operating for a number of years and have been certified. It is PCNC's job to certify organizations basing on their performance and structure to help people identify legit NGOs as against fly-by-night groups who are just in it for the money. Most of the listed organizations, even certified are unknown and would really need help not just funding, but also for more exposure.

For you, what cause or organization would you support?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Do You Love Pets?

Recently, through Facebook, i got to talk to a close friend who was out of touch for a couple of years. It was nice to renew our communication since he was a friend back in college years. He was also the one who introduced me to hiking and mountaineering and his interests in pets, particularly dogs, birds and fishes.

This guy is still single, had two serious relationships but was unable to settle down yet. I guess he has yet to meet his match. Anyway, to keep himself busy, he ventured into a lot of businesses. I think the most successful ones were breeding lovebirds, parakeets, flowerhorn and dogs such as golden retriever, labrador and shitzu. One time he had 7 retrievers at home and i could not imagine how he managed all his pets and still work at the same time. I had a golden retriever once and he was a handful back then. I got him, when he was around 1 year old and he stayed with me for about 3-4 years. It was just one and managing him was difficult, but my friend had 7, plus birds, fishes and other dogs.

My friend's love for his pets was really deep because he mentioned that sometimes what inspired him to work was to feed and groom his pets. Nowadays, he still have a couple of retrievers, shitzu and a siberian husky. He also works in a farm in his province, maintaining mango trees, tomotaoes and other vegetables.

Pets are his passion. I recently advised him to make a blog about his interests and who knows, he might learn a lot, meet new friends and improve his business. As for me, i also love dogs. Someday, when we have our own house, my wife and i might get a labrador because we both like that breed and it is easier to maintain compared to a retriever. We also have an aquarium at home where we enjoy a lot to help us relax after a hard day's work. Dogs and fishes are probably our limit since i am not interested in having birds and cats at home.

How about you, do you love pets? Are you attached to them and treat them just like any family member? How do you value them?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Haribon's R&R at D Farm, Pampanga

Haribon Foundation's R&R this year was held at D Farm Resort in Bacolor, Pampanga. It is a private resort with 2 big swimming pools, air conditioned family rooms, functions rooms, billiards, table tennis and a big fishpond for fishing tilapia and hito. My wife was one of the organizers and they invited family members of Haribon's staff to join this year's activity.

We left Quezon City aboard a rented Victory Liner Bus around 8am and reached our destination before lunch. The trip was a bit slow because of 2 stopovers. Anyway, upon reaching the resort, the Haribon staff, each assigned to a specific group eagerly prepared for lunch. A little past 12 noon, we started eating a very sumptous lunch consisting of pinakbet, soup, ensaladang talong, chicken adobo and inihaw na liempo. The menu was perfect! Everybody was happy to eat a well prepared meal.

Our son was as usual very excited about the trip. It was his first time to ride a bus and he loved it! He was very well behaved, looking through the window and was always smiling when asked if he was happy. You could just imagine his dimples showing... it was really fun to see. Upon arrival at the resort, after about 10 minutes, he anxiously asked if we could swim. At first i was really hesitant, it was past 10am, almost 11 and the sun is really up. I had no choice, he would not let go. We just applied sunblock, inflated his rubber boat and dived into the pool. I told him it was really hot and pointed the sun but he corrected me saying "lamig" pointing the water. I could not resist him. He is so lovable. Anyway, i too enjoyed every minute with him even under the scorching sun.

After lunch, we rested for a while and went back to the pool. We stayed for a about an hour or two and upon seeing him trying to stay awake, we went up, took him for a bath, to prepare him to have his afternoon nap. He only slept for about 30 minutes! He did not ask to swim this time but tried to play billiards with my wife's officemate. He could not see the top of the table but it did not stop him from playing with the balls. After billiards, i took him to the fishing pond and we watched my wife's officemates catch tilapia for our dinner.

Night time came and my wife did not have any trouble making him sleep. We figured he was really tired the whole day so we was asleep immediately. The following day, his first activity was of course swim again until 9am. He really had a great time. It was not difficult to convince him to get out of the water because we told him we will ride the big bus again. After a few minutes upon riding the bus, he was asleep again.

The R & R activity with my wife was really great. We had a great time and my son enjoyed the trip and swim very much. It was also nice to try a different place other than the usual resorts in the south and Subic area. Time with my family is really important and i am glad i was able to take a vacation leave from work. It was really overdue since we were not able to had a summer outing this year. Hopefully during the Christmas break we can spend more time together as a family and with my son's cousins and grandparents.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

How Loyal Are to Your Work?

I have been working to my current job for almost 2 years now. I have been very loyal and i think have been productive to the company since day one. It is a small company but has a big potential. Lately, after a couple of months of not reaching our target, sales has improved dramatically. It has to do with the influenza scare. Hopefully our sales will be consistent so the company can expand.

A co-worker has been on leave for more than a month now. She had a baby so she was entitled for a maternity leave. Before she went on leave, i suggested that we hire a reliever to fill in her shoes. We were not able to get one because our sales then were down. But now, i think we can afford another staff to help with the workload. Things have been really crazy at work, phones kept on ringing, emails were piling up, honestly we could not keep up.

Lately, i have been thinking of asking a salary raise. Actually i already made a letter to my boss. It is just really hard for me to give it to him. I don't know, i think it is not in my nature to ask. But when i receive my salary, i already feel it is not commensurate to the work i am doing. So, i plan to give the letter this week, hopefully tomorrow. I hope my boss would consider my request. If not, then i guess my loyalty will be tested. Times are hard, and i have to think of my family to feed.

How about you? How long have you stayed in your work? Have you asked for a raise?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Profession You Could Have Been

I am working as a sales person for more than 3 years now. I am still new compared to a lot of sales people who are in this profession for more than 10 years. I am still an amateur but i know i will excel in the future. I love talking to people and knowing what they need and being able to provide their need. Sometimes customers go overboard and ask for more which makes you even better. Knowing when to say yes and when to say no is a hard trick to master but i guess i am learning slowly but surely.

I did not choose this profession, it was offered to me. I accepted it since it pays better than working in a non-government organization. But don't get me wrong, working in an NGO is 10 times more fulfilling. Too bad it pays bad. I don't know about international NGO's, they pay better for sure but it is really hard to qualify.

Sometimes i wonder if i could have been the person i was dreaming of when i was a kid. I really planned to be an engineer. I was amazed by man made structures like tall buildings, long bridges, large airplanes, etc. I also dreamed of being a pilot. I liked thinking that i am in control of a large commercial airplane or a fast military plane. Even helicopters amaze me until now. I don't know. What could have happened if my plans were fulfilled? Will i still be here in the Philippines? Will i be married and have a kid or kids by now? Sometimes it is really nice to imagine.

I love my family and i love spending time with them. If my plans of being an engineer or a pilot were materialized, i might not probably meet my wife and could have married somebody else. Now, that's a thing to think about. If i was not married to my wife right now, i would not have my son right now. That would be sad. I could not imagine life without them. They are the reasons why i work hard everyday and not thinking of not being with them makes me sad. It is probably right that God really has plans for each and everyone of us. We are just normal human beings that we could not see beyond one day. And that makes it very interesting.....

How about you? Are you in the profession you thought of when you were a kid? If not, any regrets?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Internet Connection Problems

For the past 10 days, i was not able to open up my email, log on to this blogsite and visit my friends. The reason, our internet connection at the office had a major wiring problem. We reported the problem to PLDT but the technician only visited us after 2 days. He recommended we change our telephone line so our office purchased 1 roll to be sure that there will be enough telephone line to connect our office to the telephone's panel box. After 1 day of rewiring, we still did not have internet connection. We again called PLDT customer service to report the problem. Due to their efficiency, their technician visited us after 4 days since our second call. Not that we were not following up by consistently calling their hotline, i guess they really do not have enough qualified technicians. After another 2 days, finally our PLDT dsl line got connected. The technician replaced all kinds of boxes, panels, wires and other stuff to isolate the connection problem. We were so relieved to get connected after more than 7 days but after 1 hour when the PLDT technicians left our office, our DSL got disconnected again.

After another day, we got connected again, but once all the computers tried to access the internet, speed was sacrificed. We began isolating all our wires and tried to figure out which computer is causing the problem. And guess what, it seems my desktop was the culprit. Every time i tried to access the web, all other computers got disconnected. I figured it might be a virus so i tried to run a virus check. After performing a virus check, my pc did not report any infection. My virus scan is free so i guess it is not that reliable. Well, in short, i still do not have a reliable internet connection as of this time. I was able to log on today by using another computer unit. Chances are, i might not get connected again next week because this computer unit will be used by another office person.

I apologize to my friends who i have not visited lately. Hopefully everything will be back to normal this coming week.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Con Ass Rally in Makati

The Philippines once again is being tried to accept a new form of government. Filipinos are again put in a spot to voice their opinions and stand against the recent moves by the Congress to amend the constitution. Who is really behind this agenda? Is it really power grabbing once again? Is the present administration still behind the efforts to stay in office even after the elections in 2010?

I am proud to be a Filipino. I admire people who stand by their beliefs, drop what they are doing and join a rally against abuse. I am lucky that there are people who represent me when i am too busy working to provide for my family. Sometimes i wonder, how does militant groups survive when all they do is organize a rally to oppose government abuse, rising gas, power and water rates and unfair labor practices. I once joined a rally in UP Diliman before and it was really exciting and fulfilling. I knew a number of people who belong to the League of Filipino Students or LFS who later became activists of Bayan Muna or Akbayan or whatever group they belong to now.

What really makes a rally or demonstration successful is the number of people who joined. A short program about what the rally stands for is the climax of the rally. What makes the rally disgusting and a failure is for politicians who grab the opportunity for them to show their faces on tv and recite a long speech to put the limelight on their political ambitions. I am really sorry for this but whatever happens after the elections, these politicians are losers and trash. I really hope they lose badly.

A particular politician even had the nerve to bring a pedicab and lots of garlic to support his tv advertisement and show how he really loves the poor and will fight for them. He even had a scripted line which he also recited in his tv ad. I pity the woman he just proposed to be married. I think even his marriage is a major part to get more votes. Well i guess the lady has an amibition too. Who knows, she may be a first lady one day.

Another politician has an agenda to malign the current government everytime he gets a chance to speak. I was thinking of voting for him but now i am having second thoughts. Does he have any other agenda, cause or issue to champion other than criticizing the president? For the record, i am not defending the president, i just hope he starts to concentrate on other problems.

How about the priest turned politician? I don't know what to say. I just wish he fixes his province first before running for a higher position.

Finally, a mayor who has an ambition to be a president. He even told reporters he will not speak publicly to avoid criticism for him using the event to support his presidential bid? The question is, why did he and his staff organized a motorcade complete with uniform and props which toured around the rally venue? Isn't it also a form of campaigning?

Is there anyone out there who can really lead us Pinoys? Will there be a true leader out there that puts the country first before personal ambition? Will i be lucky enough to know this person in my lifetime and experience the leadership he has? I really pray that someday there will be.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Influenza A(H1N1) Scare

As of yesterday, the Department of Health has confirmed 33 cases of A(H1N1) flu in the country. The latest infection were from 3 students from De La Salle University in Taft Avenue, Manila. This incident has prompted other universities and colleges to postpone the opening of classes from June 8 to June 15, 2009.

As an individual, it may be a cause of alarm since the flu virus, which came from Mexico has started to spread here in the city. As a parent, who have kids at school, you would naturally worry. Does your kid's school have enough information about preventing the virus from spreading if in case an infected person visits their premises? Do the teachers and administrators know what to do? Will reminding kids to wash their hands often and cover their nose and mouth while sneezing enough to assure the parents that their kids are safe? If a person or a student is infected, will suspension of classes for 1 week enough to assure that it is safe to return?

A cure or an immunization is still still being researched as of now, so government authorities' best effort is to isolate infected people, monitor their situation and give the best treatment for flu. Fortunately all reported infected people here in the Philippines are recovering so we are still better off compared to other countries. Mexico and the United States still tops the number of deaths caused by the flu.

What can we do? It is a must to strengthen our immune system. Get enough sleep, eat a balanced diet, most specially fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins, drink plenty of water, bring umbrella and raincoats when going outside, avoid smoking and observe the proper hygiene. Let us also do our part in spreading the information to minimize the impact of this disease.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Local and Overseas Employment

Getting a good education will always be one of biggest investments one person must have to be able to secure a good future. Since good education is very expensive nowadays, majority of the youth have very limited access or opportunity to get this kind of education and would settle for just getting a degree to a college or university they can afford. Scholarships are available but a student should be very good in order to get a good one.

When a high school student is asked what does he or she wants to take up in college, the common answers will be either engineering, medicine, nursing, computer science/programming, business or management or hotel and restaurant management. If the student does not excel or does not pass the board exam, chances are he or she will either be unemployed or have to look for work abroad. There are available positions here in the country but the competition is very stiff and the pay is not that good. If you are planning to have your own family, rent a place and have savings, your salary as an ordinary employee in the Philippines will not be enough. Both husband and wife should work hard and have extra income to be able to afford the necessities to live here in the metropolis.

Since jobs here pay low and are difficult to get, graduates usually find work abroad. When you look at jobs available abroad, majority are for skilled workers. These are nurses, caregivers, welders, carpenters, butchers, etc. If you studied these courses, there are a lot of opportunities for you. But what if you are a graduate of management, computer courses, economics and hotel and restaurant management? These courses are seldom in demand abroad. Skilled workers salary abroad ranges from 40,000 - 150,000 pesos a month abroad as compared to local management jobs that ranges from 15,000 - 30,000 pesos only. Even local bank managers and fast food managers salaries are lower than skilled workers abroad earn in a month.

Filipinos have little or no choice at all when in comes to employment locally. Public school teachers that teach 50-70 students in a class would not even reach 30,000 pesos a month even if they teach until the age of 50. Locally employed nurses sometimes earn below 15,000 a month and are taxed heavily if they are single. Net take home pay ranges from 6,000 - 10,000 a month. Is that figure commensurate to the heavy work they do everyday? Definitely not.

Any other choice? Call centers and BPO. Many of our new graduates now are employed in this industry to earn a decent living. Call centers pay better because of night shift pay, overtime and hazard pay. A number of companies also provide meal allowances, clothing allowances and sales incentives. If a call center agent is good, plus has experience, promotion is also fast. Salaries ranges from 18,000 - 35,000 pesos a month which is much better than the average day job. What is the catch? Your health. A number of studies shows that working during night time causes a lot of diseases and sickness to a person. Low blood, stress and fatigue, low resistance to diseases are just a few causes of problems a call center worker will face in the future.

What can we do? Parents should guide their children on what careers will they pursue to be competitive in their chosen field. Children should also be trained to be young entrepreneurs so that they will be the ones providing jobs and not the ones looking for it. How about earning online? Is it worth teaching to kids? Will there be a saturation point? Education is always the key to a bright future, so we have to make sure that our kids will have the proper education for them to handle all the challenges they will face when they are adults themselves.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Flu Vaccine

Last Saturday, my wife and i got a flu vaccine. My wife's workplace was informed of an affordable flu vaccination in UP Diliman so we checked its legitimacy and signed up to avail of the opportunity. We arrived at the venue an hour after the opening and were given numbers 44 and 45. The line was a bit long but it was also generally fast. We got our shots a little past 3 pm and i went back to work.

Vaccination is really big nowadays. When you have a new born child, chances are you will get a "baby-book" which you will use to compile your child's medical history. Every time you visit your pediatrician, the visit will be logged on the baby book plus comments written by the doctor. At the back of the baby book, is a table/list of vaccinations your child will have to undergo within a period of 2 years. If you are a first time parent and you've never heard of the disadvantages of vaccination, most especially to infants, then your objective is to complete all the vaccines required to prevent your child from getting sick. If you are more cautious and research first, then probably you won't be too much concerned on completing all the vaccines.

Vaccination has been with us since Louis Pasteur discovered the germ theory. A disease is introduced to a body externally and injected directly to a person's bloodstream. By definition, a vaccine is a preparation of viral or bacterial particles that will mimic the viruses or bacteria responsible for a disease. It is chemically prepared in a much reduced potency in order to (supposedly) be safe to inject in the body. The theory is that once present in the body, the vaccine will provide artificial immunity and not have the harmful effect of the disease itself.
According to pharmaceutical companies vaccination is:

* The main reason for the decline of infectious conditions
* The only effective method of eliminating dangerous infectious conditions
* Harmless when compared to the disease itself

Of course, not all vaccines are 100% effective. If you research more, you will get lots of information about vaccines being the cause of sickness, a new virus strain has developed to counter the vaccine, or vaccines being the cause of infant deaths. How come governments are pushing for vaccination as a major project of the health department? Is it really for disease prevention or are they just being pressured by pharmaceutical companies worldwide?

For me, the reason we got the flu shot is prevention. My wife told me it is better to have a first line of defense instead of being sick, drinking medications or worse being hospitalized. We did not include my son to the vaccine because he is too young to get the shot as advised by the doctors. Frankly, it is also a peace of mind. With so many diseases out there plus the stress and pressure of everyday work, i really can not afford to get sick.

What about you? When did you last had a vaccine? For females, have you considered the vaccine to prevent cervical cancer? I heard the price is really high and you have to get 3 shots for that.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Planning for a Low Budget Wedding

My wife is trying a new business nowadays. She is organizing 2 weddings, one this year and the other one next year. She has long wanted to try event organizing as a sideline but because her work takes majority of her time, sometimes even on weekdays, her plans were always put on the side. Just last month, she had her break when a close friend asked her help to organize their wedding next year. She did not even blinked, she just talked to her friend, got the details, explained her limitations and accepted the job for a minimal fee. After a week or two, another office mate asked for her help too. It was just a simple church wedding, with a limited budget, and she is also close with the bride to be, so she accepted the job.

Now the challenge is to make a memorable and beautiful wedding for a limited budget. How limited? I think the total budget is 100k. Is it possible? We are working on it.

The key in maximizing your budget is limiting your guests. We are saying this because we actually did it with our own wedding. We had less than 100 guests. We got lots of support from our siblings, parents and godparents to make it a reality. Our wedding was a very memorable one and in spite of a few blunders and boo-boos, we enjoyed every minute of it. We just keep on saying that the wedding is for the two of us and not to please our guests. We had our debates with our parents but in the end they realized that what is important is for us to be happy on our wedding day. We even had a great honeymoon! Limited budget too, but also very memorable.

One detail that is difficult to hurdle is getting a good photo and video that does not charge much. Rates nowadays are usually 40k-80k up for good ones. Capturing one of the most important event in your life is so essential that you would not want to get the services of amateurs.

We have six months before the first wedding and 3 months after for the next. Hopefully we can pull it off decently so my wife will have a career by her side. We accept suggestions and recommendations too. Thanks in advance!

Monday, May 11, 2009

I Hate Political Advertisements

This early when we watch tv or listen to the radio, we would expect political advertisements from personalities who are planning to run for a government position next year. When i see them, i instantly switch channels or turn the tv off. After watching them once and trying to decipher their platforms from their political ads, i am now sure who not to vote next year.

I apologize if this is blunt but i really hate politicians who portray their images on tv as if they are poor or they are the answer to poverty. These commercials really prove that these politicians think majority Filipinos are stupid and would easily be convinced by their antics. Here are a few examples:

1. A politician who talks to poor kids on a bicycle sidecar and decides to help the kid by asking him to go down so he'll be the one to drive the pedicab.

2. A politician who keeps on saying he gave money to abused OFWs so they could go home.

3. A politician who keeps on claiming he is responsible for Makati City's development. Is it obvious that the businesses in Makati was initiated by influencial families and business tycoons who never ran for public office? Is the politician unaware of numerous squatter problems overshadowed by the tall buildings situated in the city?

4. A classic politician who gets photographers to take pictures when he eats using his hands beside the poor and elderly.

5. An incumbent politician showing increase in percentages or numbers claiming the economy is doing better.

6. How about a politician showing his advertisements during the Pacquiao-Hatton boxing fight?

It is sad that the Philippines is still in the Dark Age of politics. We are known as one of the top countries who practice corruption regularly. When can we expect a genuine change? Will the automation of the elections next year help?

As for me, i still don't know who to vote next year. I am hoping for a young politician but i heard the person is still too young. How about Pacquiao? Nahhh, i don't think so. I agree with a lot of sportswriters and analysts. He genuinely cares for the poor but the politicians around him just care for the money. He will just be lured to a lot of temptations until he realizes that he is in too deep to go back. I wish i could have been born earlier to experience the administration of the late Magsaysay, i heard he was great and one of the best the country had as a president.

How about the cost of this political advertisements? Just for a 30-second ad shown on primetime tv costs roughly 2 million. How can these politicians recover their investment? Your guess is as good as mine.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Best Gift for a Mother

Tomorrow will be Mother's Day, one of the important celebrations we have every year. This day, we honor mothers, whether our mom, grandmom, aunt, sister, cousin, best friend or any mom we know. Being a mom is probably one of the hardest jobs a woman will experience, and it becomes more difficult if you are a working mom or a single parent. I should know, my mom was working alone to give me and my sister a bright future.

Sometimes i feel guilty when i don't spend enough time with my mom. I have my own family now and alot my time to be with my wife and son during weekends and holidays. Weekends is not enough because these are the only days when i also have to rest. We regularly visit my mom and my sister during weekends after going to church and have lunch at their house. I wish i have more time so i could bring along my mom when we go to the malls or go out of town.

I am still thinking of what to give to my mom tomorrow but i don't want to give material things. I want to give her something that she will remember for a long time and will always think that eventhough i don't say it often, i really love her very much. My mom is always there for us, me and my sister, and eventhough we fell short of her expectations (she wanted my sister to be a successful entrepreneur and she wanted me to be an engineer) she still helps us in any way she can. Helping us, she feels is not enough so she always prays hard for us. She is really a very lovable person and I thank God for giving her as our mother.

So, what do you think will be the best gift for her? Any suggestions?

Monday, May 4, 2009

I Got Featured in Manila Times

I spent the long weekend at home and had quality time with my family. It was really fun playing with my son and I miss him everyday when i go to work. Sometimes i wish i could go home early so that i could spend more time with him. Anyway, i got lucky this weekend and i was featured in a small space in Manila Times Newspaper. Haribon Foundation regularly send member profiles to them and this time, i was picked by the organization. The questions were a bit hard but i tried my best to give good answers.

The title was "Non Expiry Mission" and was written by Florench May Corpuz. Here is a part of the article:

Membership expires but one’s calling never does.

Being part of an environment advocacy group doesn’t limit one from caring for one’s environment. This was exemplified by Lemuel Lancer Ponce, a former Haribon Foundation staff who continued his mission as steward of nature by handling projects and providing environmental awareness through blogging.

Ponce, a graduate of the University of the Philippines was a member from 2003 to 2005. Though he was no longer a Haribon staff, he worked with different non-government organization and handled environment-related projects.

“My education in Haribon helped me conceptualize a proposal, submitted to a private company and was approved with funding. After more than a year, the project is still ongoing and has benefited a lot of members in the community,” said Ponce.

Ponce, who believes that education is the solution to environmental problems, regulary updates his blogsite ( with environment conservation topics that have already earned him loyal readers both local and international.

“During these times where information is shared through different medium, we should take advantage of the situation. Internet being the most affordable is Haribon’s best chance. Once information is disseminated then we should start thinking of how to convert knowledge into action,” he said.

If you want to read the full article, please visit this link.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Environment Conservation Champions

Environment conservation is one of the hottest issues we find today. In fact, advertising and marketing companies have started to relate brands to the environment or join the bandwagon of going "green" to promote their brands and earn more profit. I have seen slogans saying "Green is in" and "Let's Save the Environment" almost everywhere. Even car manufacturers have started making "green vehicles" claiming their products emit less carbon dioxide and is made of environment friendly materials.

Going green is good. Last April 22, we celebrated Earth Day and a number of malls in Metro Manila asked Haribon Foundation to join them in their environment conservation awareness programs. There were clean ups, tree planting, story telling for kids, exhibits and even singing contests. People nowadays are more exposed to environment activities which I think will be beneficial for the next generations. One thing is lacking, though, Filipinos lack environment conservation champions.

While I was listening to a radio program last Earth Day, the DJs started a contest asking listeners to name famous people who are known to be environmentalists. Of course, a nice price will be awaiting the lucky contestant. Instantly, several listeners called and texted names like: Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Al Gore, Oprah and several foreign celebrities. Only one contestant mentioned a Pinoy name, and he is Richard Gutierrez. Is he really and environment advocate? Don't we have Pinoy environmentalists? How about Chin Chin Guteirrez, Noel Cabangon and Joey Ayala? Are they really environment advocates or are they just joining the advocacy to increase their popularity? How about non-showbiz people? Politicians? Nahhh, too risky to trust them most especially now that elections are just around the corner.

Filipinos need an environment conservation champion to lead them. Last people to be known here were Celso Roque and Junie Kalaw. Do you know them? They were famous during the 80's and it has been 2 decades and nobody followed their footsteps. Hopefully somebody will step up and be a champion to the environment cause, not just as a spokesperson but a person who can start movements. Influence plays a major key and credibility will also be major factor. And a good leader must lead by example and must always be a good follower.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Halo Halo

Halo halo is probably one of the famous desserts you can find in the Philippines. During summer time, when the temperature reaches 30 degrees Celsius up, people would like to cool down by drinking ice cold drinks and eating their favorite dessert. Halo halo which is the Tagalog translation of mix or mixing is made up of different ingredients namely: banana, ube, leche flan, beans, melon, garbanzos, nata de coco, kaong, sago, gulaman, pinipig, etc. mixed with crushed ice, sugar, milk and a scoop or two of ice cream on top. Halo halo is so in demand during this season that a popular fast food chain decided to put up a television advertisement on primetime just to feature their halo halo. Just watching the TV ad would make you crave for it and go to the nearest store and satisfy your hunger and thirst.

Due to halo halo's demand this summer, restaurants and stores have taken advantage and raised their prices to earn bigger profit. Prices in fastfood ranges from 70-120 pesos and a scoop or two of ice cream increases the prices more. If you are not particular eating in restaurants you can actually buy halo halo from any "carinderia" or canteen located in your neighborhood. Prices are relatively cheaper, around 25-50 pesos. Not as many ingredients compared to fast food chains but will definitely satisfy your craving for a cold beverage or dessert.

A word of caution though for people who love halo halo. If you are on a diet or watching what you eat, halo halo is not too healthy for you. The only healthy ingredients in this dessert is milk, banana and a few slices of fruits. Halo halo would be bland without sugar, ice cream, leche flan and other sweets. Therefore, if you want to indulge in this tasty and refreshing dessert, try to remember to drink lots of water after, exercise and eat vegetables and fruits. For me, halo halo is an indulgence and a way to relieve stress and pressure after a long day at work. Happy eating!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Waking up in Twitter

I admit, i was not impressed when i first signed up in twitter, for me, its like any other social networking sites out there. I'm not registered in a lot of these sites because i decided i would concentrate on a few sites and maximize its potential. I just decided to try twitter again because of Jan and his numerous posts about twitter.

Indeed twitter will make a newbie like me star-struck. First celebrity i followed was Oprah, then Ashton Kutcher (who i think has the most followers), Ashton's wife Demi (childhood crush) and Lance Armstrong. If you consider John Chow a celebrity, i followed him too.

I have been thinking what will happen or what do i get if i follow these famous people? Other than reading their tweets/posts and getting the latest scoop, i think that's about it. I might learn a thing or too from John Chow, but then again, i am not a techie when it comes to building a blog.

So how can i maximize twitter to promote my blog? That i have to learn. I just hope that twitter is not just another fad that was suddenly famous and after some time, people will learn to hack it and use it for their own selfish interests. The makers of twitter are really impressive that it would be a pity of they can not maintain their success for a long time.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Mount Makiling Los Baños, Laguna

Mount Makiling is probably one of the most famous mountains in South Luzon because of its proximity in Metro Manila and is the home of University of the Philippines Los Baños, Laguna. Personally, its one of my favorite destinations because the community around the mountain is very successful in preserving the environment around the mountain. UP offers several courses in Biology and Forestry which contributes in educating the youth in their role in environment conservation and research. In fact, biologists and researchers employed at Haribon Foundation came from UPLB and they have proven several times their expertise in their chosen fields.

In case you have not visited the site, here are a few places to visit:

1. Jamboree Site - camp site for Boy Scout of the Philippines
2. National Arts Center - managed by the Cultural Center of the Philippines
3. Mud Spring - a place where you can see boiling mud, a good 2-hour hike from the foot of the mountain
4. Raptor Center - a place for rescued birds in the wild. You can see the Philippine Eagle here (in case you haven't seen one)
5. UP Los Baños - several places to see around the campus

Other than the sites I mentioned, one activity you may want to try is Bird Watching. New to this activity? Mount Makiling is one of the best sites. The reason: it is home to a lot of Philippine endemic birds, or birds only found in our country. If you want to see pictures, you may go to Romy Ocon's site or you can click this link. You need not reach the summit to see the colorful birds. Just at the foot of the mountain you can see the Colasisi, Philippine Falconet, Coleto, Guaiabero, etc.

Of course, an outdoor activity would not be complete without swimming. Although Mt. Makiling is not known for falls and rivers, you can actually enjoy hot springs all over Pansol, Laguna. This municipality is a famous tourist destination because of its hot springs. Resorts are affordable and some places include kiddie pools and slides. You can also rent a small house for private or family occassions. And before leaving Los Baños and Pansol, Laguna, do not forget to buy native delicacies such as espasol, kesong puti and the ever famous buko pie.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Holy Week in the Philippines - Cutud, Pampanga

photo from

As we near the end of the Holy Week, we can see news and tv reporters covering different events in the Philippines during the Lenten Season. One event, which is famous not just in the country but overseas as well is the re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in Cutud, Pampanga. People who have a yearly "panata" or "promise" to be nailed to the cross are the center of attention of tourists, reporters and writers. Reporters would interview the people before they are nailed to the cross and are asked why would they make these kinds of sacrifices even though the church are against it. Some said that they make the sacrifice to give thanks after God answered their prayers or they are asking for a miracle to happen. They say that being nailed to the cross is just a small sacrifice compared to the blessings or answered prayers they received from God.

Being nailed to the cross before is just practiced by males, but i remember last year or two years back, a woman decided to join and let herself be nailed too. It was covered by a local television channel and I saw a her hands pierced by 3-4 inch nails. It was really a disturbing sight. I could imagine the pain she felt. People were really concerned that after she was taken down from the cross, she received first aid immediately and was interviewed by a tv reporter. She was asked how she felt and if she would repeat the ordeal next year. She said it was painful but she thinks she can do it next year. So this year, we may actually see her again. In fact most of her male counterparts have been nailed to the cross 5 or more times (i heard a guy was nailed 12 times) and she believes that if a man can do it, so can she.

For ordinary people like me, honestly, it's difficult to sacrifice. It's hard to sacrifice what you love to do everyday and abstain from your indulgence. Not eating meat is an effort for me, but i try to abstain even just for the Lenten Season. The church sent a message for people to sacrifice this Holy Week by avoiding using mobile phones, computers, tvs and music gadgets and spend the time by praying and reflection. Can we do it? We can at least try. Just try to remember people in Cutud, Pampanga who sacrifice their health to show gratitude and faith to our Creator.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Holy Week in the Philippines

Holy Week in the Philippines officially started yesterday, Palm Sunday. People heard mass and brought along their "palaspas" as a tradition inherited during Jesus' time. These "palaspas" after being blessed at the church will be displayed usually near the front door and windows of homes in the belief that they will ward off evil souls and bad luck from entering their homes. After Sunday, offices will only be open for two days since today, Monday, was declared holiday by the Philippine Government to celebrate our "Araw ng Kagitingan" (Day of Valor) holiday.

Due to several non-working holidays, we can expect people to start up filling bus stations and national highways going home to their provinces or just maximizing their holidays by going to beach resorts, pools and other tourist destinations. Traffic jams will switch from EDSA to the North and South Expressways and other national highways. People will crowd at the usual swimming destinations and you could hear events being advertised which will take place at the famous beaches in Boracay and Puerto Galera.

In reality, Holy Week in the Philippines is now different compared to 5 or 10 years ago. Before, Holy Week, people are busy preparing for Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday at their respective parishes. Washing of the feet, Seven Last Words, Way of the Cross, "Pasyon", "Bisita Iglesia" and "Salubong" are the activities that highlight Holy Week Celebration. Now, although we still see people joining these activities, its very obvious that hotels and resorts are more jampacked compared to churches. Try calling or booking rooms at beaches, resorts and even swimming pools and you will be extremely lucky to get a room.

Honestly, Holy Week is one of the long celebrations that people take advantage to get a pause from the stress and pressures from their work. Its not that they don't respect Holy Week celebration anymore, its just that people say they badly need the vacation to relieve stress. For me, Holy Week is a blessing too, although we don't go out of town, i just rest at home and spend time with my family. Its also a nice time to have a general cleaning at the house and spend time with my parents and my sister's family.

Times have changed and i wish that Holy Week tradition will still be here when my kid or children grow up. Hopefully, people can adapt better and celebrate the Lenten Season more that just going to the beach. I don't know how will the church adapt to the changing times, but i hope people will at least remember the true meaning of the season. They say that Easter Sunday is more important than Christmas because although we celebrate Jesus' birth in Christmas, we must also celebrate His Rising from the dead during Easter Sunday. And we should always remember his sufferings and sacrifices to save us all and give us a second chance from our sins.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Kite Flying this Summer

When i see kites in the sky, i enjoy watching them. Honestly, i don't know how to fly one. I grew up in the city and did not get the chance to learn how to fly a kite. Good thing i met my wife who taught me how to do it. I tried it more than once and i enjoyed doing it. Hopefully, we can also teach our son to fly a kite when he is big enough so he too will experience the feeling of knowing how to fly a kite.

When i was employed at Haribon Foundation, we had an event in one of our project sites in Antique Province. It was called the "Bird Kite Festival". Participants will make kites in the form of local birds and will be judged according to their creativity, showmanship and its air worthiness. After a year, Haribon partnered with Kite Association of the Philippines and organized another Bird Kite Festival in The Fort Global City. The Kite Festival was participated by kite makers as far as Bulacan and Pampanga and was featured in local tv station programs. Because of the success of the event, Haribon continued organizing the event for 3 consecutive years plus several invitations from different cities and municipalities. Kite enthusiasts attended the event, paraded their kites and got awards from different sponsors. We also got a lot of walk ins who just want to watch kites or try to fly a kite themselves.

Nowadays, we seldom see kite flyers in the city. I guess, one of the reasons is the lack of space to fly a kite. People are limited to fly kites only near the Manila Bay area (Luneta Park), University of the Philippines Diliman Grounds and at the Fort Global City. Plus kids are more interested in playing games at home with their PSPs, Nintendo or PCs. I wish that someday, kids would also learn to play outdoor games, be physically active again or at least enjoy learning how to fly a kite.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Earth Hour March 2009

We have been seeing a lot of publicity and information about the Earth Hour advocacy in print, billboards, tv and even in the internet that it is hard to ignore. Personally, the first time i knew about it was from the blogosphere and since then, i see it on streamers, billboards and even at moving billboard announcements in Makati City. As an environment conservation advocate, i already marked the date and time on my calendar at work and at home.

I do commend WWF's project and their ways to invite the public to be aware of conserving energy but i have to ask what will happen after 9:30pm on Saturday? If, for example, 1 million Filipinos join the activity and simultaneously turn off lights and all other electrical appliances, what will be the major effect? Being aware of environment conservation efforts is one thing but doing more than just turning off your lights is another thing. If 1 million Pinoys turn off their lights, we will save megawatts of electricity in a span of 1 hour. Saving electricity will lessen our dependency on fossil fuels. I do hope that after 9:30 pm, people will remember the advocacy of conserving energy and not just go back to their regular energy consumption.

What can we do to further support the project? I still believe planting a tree is one of the easiest and best way to help conserve our environment. Whether you plant a tree in your own backyard or join environment NGO's to other project sites, it is still a part of a long term solution. This summer, we can help the environment by doing very simple things. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Turn off unnecessary lights and electric equipment when not in use (monitors, tv, radio, fans)
2. Recycle your trash (plastics, bottles, old newspaper, boxes, cell phones)
3. Segregate biodegradable and non-biodegradable trash (please do this at home not just when going to malls)
4. Conserve water when washing clothes, dishes and even while washing you car.
5. Bring your own bags when you go shopping or when you go to the supermarket.
6. Bring your own mug or tall glass when buying coffee, a coffee shop gives discount if you provide your own container.
7. Maintain your car regularly. Have oil change and tune up regularly to avoid engine deterioration which causes smoke belching.
8. When going to the beach, diving or snorkelling, avoid getting coral souvenirs.
9. Avoid buying exotic animals for pets.
10. Try to maintain your gadgets (mobile phone, camera, music players, gaming consoles) for 2 or more years. Buying gadgets increase the manufacturer's demand for plastics and metals which pressures the mining industry. Mining as we know is a major player in environment destruction.

If you have other tips, please share. Our environment needs all the help it can get. Try not to blame politicians anymore. Politicians and government will always be there. Start within your own home and family. Let us focus on what we can do to at least make a difference in providing a healthy environment to our children and the next generations to come.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Progressive vs. Traditional Schools

For several years now, progressive schools has been multiplying all over Metro Manila. Parents have been enrolling their children to these schools rather than putting their children to traditional ones. How can we differentiate one school from another? Do children really benefit from these schools compared from traditional ones which were dominant during 1970's-1990's?

I have limited knowledge with regards to these types of schools but basing on the experience of my nephews and nieces, i sometimes wonder if the teaching techniques in progressive schools are effective compared to traditional ones.

My nephews and nieces are studying from a school founded by a German named Rudolf Steiner. The school, i think, was established during the 1990's. It is a co-ed school but students are limited to just 15-20 children per teacher. Subjects are taught in months basis, for example; math and science are taught for 2-3 months straight, no other subjects. For the next months, english, grammar, foreign language for another 2-3 months. A student's teacher in grade 1 will be his or her teacher until grade 6. As i mentioned, foreign language is taught as early as grade 2, musical instruments like recorder (flute), violin, guitar, etc. are also taught. Kids are exposed to 2-4 days of outdoor camping (outside manila) as early as grade 3.

Other non-traditional activities: Kids are highly discouraged to watch TV (even cartoons) and play video games. Kids are not allowed in school to wear clothes, shoes even bags to have cartoon characters printed on it. Milk products (except fresh milk) are discouraged to be taken even for toddlers, they only recommend breastfeeding up to 2 years then straight to solid foods, fruits and vegetables. Formula milk is a no-no.

Reading comprehension is not pressured up to grade 4, they believe that children will learn how to read when they are ready and there is no need to initialize reading. You can just imagine my mom's (my nephews' grandmother) frustration in teaching her grandchildren how to read since she still believes traditional school is better than progressive ones. So, since reading is not a priority, spelling and writing skills are all put behind.

There are a lot of differences between these two types of schools. What progressive schools offer are totally different from their traditional counterparts and they believe that children should not be too pressured to learn in their early years. Progressive schools still believe play is an essential part of learning and they don't believe that kids as early as grades 1 and 2 should be burden by advanced mathematical problems and science concepts. For them learning should be fun and the last thing they want is for their students to give in to school pressures, requirements and exams.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Walk The Green Mile

ELRO Commercial and Industrial Corporation, the exclusive distributor of Ipanema GB (Gisele Bundchen) Seeds Collection (Ipanema slippers) will have an environment awareness campaign together with Haribon Foundation on March 21, 2009, Saturday at the parking lot of Le Souffle, Serendra, Bonifacio Global City. The " Walk the Green Mile" project is a walkathon around the fort in support of Haribon Foundation's Road to 2020 project.

Registration is FREE, starts at 3pm and the walkathon will start at 5pm. I highly recommend the event so people could know the importance of supporting an environment awareness project within the limits of Metro Manila. It is also a good sign for a corporation to support a project by a non-government organization which also aligns them to have good corporate social responsibility efforts.

If you are anywhere near Makati or Taguig, you can drop by, observe and if you think you are interested to join, sign up and be a part of this environment awareness campaign. Who knows? You might get a gift pack or a pair of slippers from Ipanema if they decide to give a few slippers to lucky participants.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

25 Random Things

I got tagged by Dee to talk about 25 random things about me. Thank you Dee for passing the tag.
Here it is:

1. My name is lemuel but i like people to call me M. I'm not really fond of my name. People usually ask again if they hear my name for the first time.

2. We are only 4 in the family, my dad, my mom, my sister and me. I am the youngest obviously.

3. I love my parents and my sister. My sister is the best one could ever have. She never fails to support me when i need it and never fails to give advice to help.

4. My wife is the eldest among her siblings. i think we got along well because we balance each other.

5. i love technology, gadgets and automobiles. too bad i am not rich to buy what i want. but i guess its better because i won't have any more interest in them if i can buy them whenever i want.

6. i am an animal lover and i love dogs most. i like big dogs than small ones. i once had a golden retriever and he was the one i talked to every night after a break up with a long time girlfriend.

7. i love to travel and i appreciate nature around us. i got addicted once in hiking, mountain climbing and snorkelling that i schedule my trips even during the rainy season.

8. i love to cook. i guess it runs in the family. my sister now has a good business catering to a regular event using several recipes she conceptualized.

9. i love pizza and pasta. i once joined a pizza eating contest and finished 24 big Pizza Hut slices. i lost though.

10. i also love ice cream, i joined a contest too. finished 4 pints of strawberry flavor (i hate this flavor!) i lost too, but still placed third. i swear, my tongue and gums were so numb i could not taste the ice cream.

11. i was in college for 7-8 years... i think. i enjoyed it too much. took courses in my own time. i only panicked when my friends started to graduate.

12. i always enroll P.E subjects first. i love sports. i took these courses eventhough i am exempted from them because i also excelled in my ROTC days (military training)

13. i love sports but i hate dancing. i don't know why... too awkward for me.

14. i also don't sing. i hate hearing my voice when i use the microfone. it's hard here in our country because videoke is one of Filipinos favorite hobbies. parties are not complete without singing and getting high scores.

15. i love basketball but have never been good playing the sport. i really tried. no natural movements for me.

16. i love racket sports. i am a bit good in badminton and table tennis. have little exposure in tennis but i know i would also excel in that sport.

17. i enjoy bowling! it is too addictive and expensive to play here. again, i could have been good if i had good training.

18. i love swimming, but swim slow. have difficulty in breathing. that's why i love snorkelling. you can stay underwater as long as you can hold your breath.

19. i also enjoy running and biking. joined a couple of races before.

20. i love music, rnb, alternative, rock, pop, jazz even classical.

21. i enjoy watching movies. from suspense, horror, comedy, action, cartoons and sometimes love story...

22. i also enjoy reading books. i like dan brown, dean kootz and james patterson. enjoyed harry potter series, haven't tried twilight series yet...

23. i also enjoy watching car races. circuit and drag racing. have been to racing events before. watching car races near the tracks gets your adrenalin pumping!

24. i don't like horse racing... its boring for me.

25. one of my goals is to be good in photography. as i mentioned before, i really enjoy nature and animal life.

Now i am passing this blog to jeff, jen and hahai who have influenced me to start blogging and so far enjoyed every minute doing it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Do You Love Your Job?

When we were just studying, our parents would always remind us to study well to get high grades, graduate with honors and get a high paying job. To most Filipinos, this is a common practice, to some, parents would teach their children the value of money and the advantage of having their own business instead of working for someone. Others would just support their children whatever they want when they finish school and just pray that they would get married, have kids and be happy.

Honestly, i am one of the millions of kids who did not take their studies seriously. I was one of those who were serious with my friends, girlfriends, outings, parties and other extra curricular activities outside school. Hell, i just went to school to get my allowance, meet my girlfriend, watch movies and attend drinking parties. For me, school is a big party. Totally different from my cousins who took school very seriously.

What happened? I got a job even when i was studying. Partly to support my studies and partly to escape school. I stayed for 5 years, got promoted and eventually resigned because it got boring. After a few months, i decided to put up a business, but got caught with too much competition. Another few months and i decided to work again, this time related to my interests---the environment. I figured if i enjoyed my work, work would not be work, true enough, i enjoyed everything about it but i noticed i was not getting any younger. I met my wife from this organization and after a couple of years, decided to get married.

After the wedding, i figured i have to get a high paying job to support my family and start planning about our future. I got a good one, got a decent starting salary and got a nice raise. But honestly, i did not like the job. In fact i hated it. Once in a while, i got miserable, during breaks, call my wife at home and ask her support for me to call it quits. Eventually, i quit. I got an offer from another non-profit organization and decided to accept it. Again for the second time, i loved my job, but being non-profit, the pay sucks. How would i support my family?

It seems God always listens to my prayers and i got another offer. Not so high, but a little better that my previous job. Things were getting better, we were starting to build our savings again but after a year, tragedy struck my wife's family. We had no choice but to use our savings to help. Since then, we have never recovered financially and i am worried about my family's future. I am now thinking of ways to earn extra or try to look for a higher paying job. But being not young anymore, competition is tough. I am now thinking of working abroad. This has never been my option because i never want to be separated to my family. But things change. My son is getting bigger and sooner or later he will go to school. We might have another child in a few years but 2 kids is our max. Eventhough, my salary combined with my wife is not enough. And i don't want my kids to grow up with yaya's. Values should be taught by parents, specially the mother. If i have a high paying job, my wife can quit working and will have more time to watch our kids.

I have to make a decision soon, like i said, i'm not getting any younger. I really hope i would get another opportunity. I love my family so much and i don't want my kids to experience the hardships i had when i was a child.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Eraserheads - Should we be proud or not?

If you were born Filipino from 1970's-1990's or early 2000, you could have been one of the million of Filipinos who were fans of this band. You could have bought a tape or a cd, download it to your music player or even saved a video to your ipod or pc. The Eraserheads has been one of the famous Pinoy bands during my lifetime and i would not deny that i too loved their music and style.

Too bad all good things had to come to an end. Even after getting lots of awards from MTV and other award giving bodies, even after selling millions of copies of their albums, the band decided to split up. The reason? Just like every disbanded bands, differences among the band members.

How come this band be apart after touching so many lives? Why wouldn't they be like U2 and Metallica? After being so successful in their music, and being millionaires themselves, they are still together. For pinoy groups, why wouldn't they be like APO Hiking Society and The Dawn? Is pride really the reason?

For me, Eraserheads could have been one of the best bands in this country and could have left a legacy for all aspiring artists. They had so much impact to the music world that young and old singers made a compilation of their songs to make an album just to pay tribute to them. They even have 2 concerts (one will be tonight) after they disbanded just to please their fans and show their gratitude. Ticket prices for their concert are not cheap (for the 1st concert) but still, i heard that the tickets were sold out. Hopefully this time, they finish the concert so that their fans will get their money's worth.

I read a magazine before that featured a number of band singers and Ely (lead vocal of Eraserheads) was one of them. There were a lot of questions about the band break up and he was so sensitive with the topic that he even refused to say his band's name. He was also asked how was his finances after being one of the most famous singers around and he said that he was not a millionaire as people thought he would. How come? Was he just a singer and all their income went to their producer, manager and recording company? Didn't they had an adviser when it comes to their finances? For me, sayang yung pinaghirapan nila. Buti na lang their fans are still loyal to them and if they look back, they can somehow be still proud of their achievements.

I am still a fan.... but not like before. I am proud that i lived the time when their music was great and i would still play their songs once in a while. I do think they could have done better because I know they can. I sure hope that someday, when another Pinoy band reaches their achievement, they must be better role models for the youth who idolizes them and their music.