Saturday, February 21, 2009

When to Pull the Plug on a Loved One

This post may be one of the blogs i would classify as a not-good-feeling post. I have been thinking about this subject for the past few days now that i decided i could write about it.

My mom was hospitalized 2 days ago due to gastritis and pneumonia. She is feeling better now, which is good but I have been too stressed because i stay with her during nights at the hospital and i go straight to work daytime. Not that i want too, i really cherish all the moments when we get to talk heart to heart about several subjects.

A close relative, who is above 70 years old has been confined at a hospital near us for more than 2 months now. She was admitted before Christmas and her condition has not improved. She has a rare cancer affecting her blood and one chemo session cost about 80-90 thousand pesos (exclusive of doctor fees, hospital fee, all other fees). She goes thru dialysis 2-3 times a week and has a lot of other medications. She has only 1 son (married) and has 2 grandchildren. Their family is a bit well-off, owning a nice home and a couple of vehicles. She also got a retirement pay from a government agency she has worked for several years.

Another close relative talked to her son and asked how are their finances. He told them they have already spent more than a million. The relative asked what are their plans for his mother. Not that he is hinting of pulling the plug but his thoughts are the future of their family and the two children. It is so difficult for a son to decide what's best for his mother at this stage and if i put myself to his position, i too would not know what to do.

What would be the best to do at this stage? Will they continue what they are doing? When i have the chance to visit them, it is not hard to notice that the mom has suffered a lot at the hospital. Not that she is not well taken care of but one would notice if a person is going better or just stagnant. She is too old to experience the pain she is feeling right now and our family have never stopped praying for her recovery. She has been good to us all her life and i am wondering why does she have to suffer too long? She has been a good mother and her son would not be in his place right now if it was not for her accomplishments. She was widowed at an early age, never remarried and raised a wonderful family.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wind Turbines in Bangui Bay, Ilocos Norte

This blog is beginning to be a travel blog because travel is really one of my personal interests. This time, i will be writing about specific places i visited or plan to visit in the future.

The wind turbines in Bangui Bay, Ilocos Norte Province is one of the largest in southeast Asia. There are 15 towers that stand 70 meters tall with rotor blades span of 40 meters. The 15 wind turbines if operated simultaneously can produce 24.75 megawatts of energy. This energy is then used to provide electricity to barangays within the province. Not only does the wind turbines produce electricity, they are environment friendly and a tourist attraction.

This technology should be one of the priorities of our government if we are serious in environment conservation. The technology prevents us from being dependent to fossil fuels which are produced by coal fired power plants which are our main source of power supply in the whole country. I read that the wind turbine project is also targetted to other provinces in the Philippines namely Negros Occidental, Camiguin, Siargao, Dinagat Island and in Mindoro. Hopefully our politicians should push thru with these projects instead of trying to build talks in opening the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.

Wind turbines are found in different countries to generate electricity. Wind will always be there and will never run out. So is solar energy. Maybe now is the time to think smart and conserve our natural resources for our children's future.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Travel in the Philippines - Mindanao Region

Mindanao compared to Luzon and Visayas gets less tourists because of its distance and the constant news of insurgency and kidnappings. Too bad this has become the image of this wonderful region and it is a pity that even us Filipinos would think twice about visiting and enjoying the rich and colorful culture of our brothers and sisters in Mindanao.

Personally, I only had the chance to visit only 4 provinces in this region and have yet to go to my wife's hometown in Zamboanga City. Nevertheless, i enjoyed my stay and would always think of going back. I love the places i visited just like the way i felt when i went to Visayas provinces. As always, food here tastes great, fruits are fresh and cheap and you would actually miss the pollution in Metro Manila. Here are the places I recommend:

1. Cagayan de Oro - they say that CDO is the gateway to Mindanao. This city is relatively small, compared to cities in Cebu but is actually well developed, good zoning, clean and less traffic. Whitewater rafting is famous in this city because of its proximity to the river. Lanzones is so sweet in this place because people say the fruits came from Camiguin. From this city, you can ride a bus going to Bukidnon, Iligan City or as far as Davao City. Seafoods are fresh and cheap here.

2. Iligan City - One of the famous cities in Mindanao. This is where you go if you want to see the majestic Maria Cristina falls but you have to call or inform the tourism office for schedules. I heard that Napocor actually diverts the water from the falls to generate electricity for the province. Best tasting chicken in pandan leaves i had! Rice also is presented or cooked (i think) in pandan leaves.

3. Bukidnon - This place rivals the temperature, scenery, fresh fruits and fresh air of Luzon's Mountain Province. Its cold even on the highways that if you travel by car and you put down your windows, chances are the air outside is colder that your airconditioner. We all know that Del Monte and Dole pineapple farms are in this province so you would expect to get the sweetest and most fresh at the local markets. If you love waterfalls, this is the place. Retirement? I definitely suggest this place.

4. Davao - Davao is home to the country's largest city, Davao City. This city is the most disciplined-- no smoking in public places, no smoke belchers, no traffic, no fireworks during New Year's Eve and taxicabs giving change even for the last peso. Davao is also famous for the Durian fruit, Marang, Suha, Rambutan, Lanzones and Mangosteen. Eat all you can restaurants are almost everywhere so i guess you will enjoy all the seafoods you want in this city--price is also cheap! Davao is not complete without mentioning Samal Island. From within the city, take a cab (travel is about 10-15min) to the port, ride a small boat for another 15-20min and then you will arrive at this small island. The beach is majestically clean, one can swim beside small fishes and the food is awesome! Water pollution is nowhere in sight even when you see the city limits at the other side of the beach. Davao is also home for the Philippine Eagle Foundation, try to drop by and see the biggest eagle in the world. You will definitely be proud of being a Filipino.

5. Butuan City - i heard this is another must see because of their resorts, food and great tourist spots.

6. Surigao - Siargao Island - the surfing capital of the Philippines.

7. Zamboanga City - Have you heard of the pink beach? If you ever get tired of Boracay, Palawan and Bohol's white sand, mind going to Zamboanga for pink sand? Pink actually comes from the unique corals only found in this province. How about curacha? Have you tasted it? Its a marine animal, just like the crab but has twice the fats (aligue), easier to open (its shell) and definitely has more meat. Yummmm.

I have more to share but will go to specifics to the other places i have not mentioned. Truly, travel in the Philippines is one of the best experiences i had which is why i encourage people to travel while they are young, have a little savings and experience our country's culture and tradition other than hanging out to your favorite malls and coffeeshops.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Travel in the Philippines - Visayas Region

The Philippines is an archipelago consisting of more than 7,100 islands and majority of the exciting islands to visit and enjoy are located in the Visayas Region. The provinces in these region not only boasts of their pristine and white sand beaches but also their delicacies, culture, traditions and of course their fiestas and festivals. What i really love about these places are the abundance of fresh and affordable seafoods and their mouth watering fruits. If you have time and a planned budget, you can visit the following places and learn more about Philippine culture.

1. Cebu - People say that Cebu City should be the capital of the Philippines since this is where Magellan discovered the country (although its still a continuing debate). Cebu is like Metro Manila, busy, fast paced, lots of malls, traffic and plenty of opportunities. What you should see and experience in Cebu is the annual Sinulog Festival for Sto. Nino, Tabuan Market (delicious dried fish delicacies), Olango Island (Migratory birds stopover from China and Siberia) and I also hear Bantayan Island is one of the best places to relax and unwind.

2. Bohol - Tagbilaran City is the capital but its not as big and busy as Cebu City which makes it more tourist friendly. Upon arrival at the seaport, people would immediately approach you to invite you to resorts and tourists destinations. Panglao is the tourist favorite because it rivals the white powder-like sand of Boracay plus it is more affordable and less congested. Panglao is memorable for me because we had our honeymoon there. Other sites: Chocolate Hills, Loboc River, Pamilacan Island, Tarsier Sanctuary and lots of waterfalls locations to enjoy.

3. Panay Island - consists of four amazing provinces, Aklan, Antique, Capiz and Iloilo. How could anyone miss these provinces when going to Visayas region. They have the world famous Boracay Island, Roxas City - famous for travel and seafoods, Iloilo city also for their Dinagyang Festival and Sibalom, Antique where you can find our own version of the biggest flower in the world which is the Rafflesia.

4. Leyte and Samar - Two different provinces with their own travel destinations and food delicacies. Lots of old churches and historical landmarks plus the ever famous San Juanico Bridge connecting the two provinces. The bridge is an architectural landmark, too bad going down the bridge to take photos is not allowed.

5. Negros Island - famous for its two cities, Bacolod and Dumaguete Cities. Bacolod i think is still the sugar capital of the Philippines and has been known to be one of the cleanest cities in the Philippines. Dumaguete is a favorite tourist destination beacuse of its proximity to clean beach resorts, night life and a small city area to tour and experience.

6. Guimaras Island - famous for its pristine beaches and sweet and best tasting mangoes exported as far as US and Europe. Have you heard that they are very strict in treating their treasure and a person cannot easily bring in a different variety of mango?

I could go on and on writing articles about these amazing places to go but this blog is already too long to read. A word of advice? The Visayas Region is truly worthwhile to visit and experience, every Filipino should make it a point to know these provinces before going abroad.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Travel in the Philippines - South Luzon Area

This is a continuation of my previous post regarding places to visit if you are planning to take a vacation this coming summer. You can try the following locations:

1. Batangas - Anilao for scuba and snorkelling, San Juan and Laiya for sand beaches
2. Laguna - Pansol for Hot Springs, Los Banos for Mt. Makiling trekking, camping and birdwatching, Pagsanjan for the famous falls, Caliraya lake, Paete for woodcarvings
3. Cavite - Tagaytay for scenery and photography, old churches and historical landmarks
4. Quezon Province - Pagbilao and Lucban for the famous longganisa
5. Bicol Region - Start at Naga City (food and pili nuts), go to Mt. Isarog for camping and trekking, Albay to see the perfect cone of Mt. Mayon, Donsol to see the Butandings (whaleshark). Bicol dishes are one of the best!
6. Mindoro - Puerto Galera for white sand beaches, snorkelling and scuba (although its too crowded during Holy week), Pandan island if you want isolation.
7. Palawan - underground river, lots of beaches and islands to go to, great for scuba and snorkelling a bit expensive though since you need to go by air
8. Tubattaha Reef - this is one the best dive spots in the Philippines and nominated at the new 7 wonders of the world. a bit restricted though and i heard its a 9-10 hour boat trip from Palawan.

Next post.... the Visayas Region.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Travel in the Philippines

I love to travel and being an advocate for environment conservation, i love to go places where i can enjoy nature. I had several opportunities when i was employed at Haribon Foundation which is why up to this time i am so grateful to this organization and i continue to support the foundation's environment conservation projects.

Summer is fast approaching and my wife and i are planning our activities since our son is 2 years old this year and will be safe to travel. I have been longing to return to our hometown in Claveria, Cagayan Valley this Holy Week but i am still considering because its a 12-hour bus or car trip. My son will definitely be agitated and bored because of the long trip. If we take a plane to Laoag, Ilocos, its still a 2-3 hour drive to Claveria after the airport. Plus we don't get to enjoy the scenery passing by provinces from Manila to our province. How could you miss food and picture taking from the provinces of Tarlac, Pangasinan, La Union and Vigan, Ilocos Sur?

If you have the time and budget to travel, i suggest visiting these provinces during holidays and breaks. Living in the Metropolis is too stressful and expensive that is why every individual should have time to relax, unwind and enjoy nature. Enjoying travel need not be expensive. Nowadays, with the aid of the internet, you can find affordable places that would suit your budget. The book Lonely Planet is also a good guide in travel, there are tips where you can find cheap places, good food and great souvenirs. Basing on my experience, i suggest you visit the following places:

North Luzon:
1. San Fernando and Angeles City in Pampanga - for their food delicacies, Candaba Town for bidwatching
2. Tarlac City, Tarlac Province - food and old churches
3. Pangasinan - Hundred Islands, food (all kinds of Bangus dishes) and old churches
4. La Union - beach (surfing capital of the north), food and old churches
5. Ilocos Sur - Vigan City - great food, souvenirs and an awesome site for photographers.
6. Ilocos Norte - Laoag City (food-bagnet and longganisa), old churches, Pagudpud beach (nice white sand), Paoay Church (a must for photographers) and the late strongman's displayed body (Ferdinand Marcos) in Batac, Fort Ilocandia for the sand dunes
7. Cagayan Valley - beach (also good for surfing), Penablanca Caves
8. Mountain Province - Sagada Caves
9. Balbalasang Mountain Range/National Park - Cordillera - great sites for photographers, several waterfalls
10. Baguio City (though i would warn you that the city is already over populated), great food though plus you get to buy awesome peanut brittle and ube jam at Good Shepherd Convent

Tips for South Luzon and other provinces will be on my next blog. Thanks!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Planning to buy our own Home

Its been a couple of months since my wife and I decided to plan to buy our own house for our family. We decided to attend a seminar provided by Pag-ibig Fund, an organization who provides affordable housing loans to the average Filipino. After the seminar, we then proceeded to look for a house that we can afford with our limited budget and a place that is not too far from our workplace.

We currently live in Quezon City and our workplace are within 15-30 minutes away from our house. Since the prices here in Quezon City are way above our budget, the nearest locations are Antipolo, Bulacan, Novaliches or Cavite (definitely not near). We began searching thru classified ads, internet and we even asked our friends for recommendations. Finally after a week or two, we decided to look at the sites, get the feel of the communities and see if the houses we chose would suit our needs.

My wife, who is inclined to live in Antipolo fell in love with a small townhouse consisting of 3 rooms, 2 t&b and a 1 car garage. The site is okay, a 30-45 minute drive from our home without traffic and the design is also okay. We talked with 2 agents who were very accommodating (anticipating a sell, i presume) and toured the place twice. We knew, if we have the money for the downpayment during those days, we could have transferred early this year. Unfortunately, we got into a couple of unexpected expenses so we decided to postpone a little.

We also visited a couple of other sites in Novaliches and San Mateo, but the one in Antipolo is the one we liked. Hopefully by this year, if the Antipolo units are already sold out, we can still find a house for our family, better if possible. This is our primary goal for this year and if God willing, we will be able to settle to our new home by the yea 2010.