Let's Turn Off our Lights for the Earth Hour 2012!

Is sharing one trait that we Filipinos are good at - turning off our lights. Why? Since 2009, the Philippines is the top country with the most participants of cities and towns that turn off lights for the yearly Earth Hour 2012.

According to Yahoo Philippines's article Mark Earth Hour 2012, "Earth Hour started in Australia when the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) asked 2.2 million individuals in more than 2,000 businesses in Australia to turn off their lights for one hour. Since then 5,200 cities and towns in 135 countries and territories have responded with a worldwide commitment to a better future." 

Reason for this is very self-explanatory. To save energy that is. Since we owned technology as way of life, sometimes it is the technology that owns us! This is to remind everyone that we need to get in touch with our friends and loved not only on Twitter, Facebook and mobile phones but find time to see them in person, hear their voice and feel their presence.

We Can do Better Filipina Ladies!

"May isa na namang Pilipina na maiaahon at aangat sa kahirapan sa buhay!" Sounds familiar? That is a sarcastic expression I always hear every time a group of people seeing a Filipina walking with a  guy foreigner usually a White. Not saying all of course but whenever I hear this I can't help but laugh. Makes me think is this really our worth as Filipinas? Can't we do anything or any other better way to get our dreams come true?

Let me tell you a story. While attending the crash course about  How to Setup a Homebased Online Travel Agency, a month ago our speaker who has been to so many places here in the Philippines even more than
the number of her surviving teeth in front she joked, she shared a story about going to this remote island somewhere in Visayas. Not very much known by tourists and place not very well published, the people there get their means of living by their tourism. They have pristine beaches with fine sand perfect for scuba diving and snorkeling etc.!



Win a Travel Writing Scholarship 2012 - Southeast Asia


Winner will be sent off to three different countries in Southeast Asia:  Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia  and will be given  the opportunity to see life beyond the banana pancake trail. Should be available on  June 18th - July 6th, 2012 to participate on the assignment. Open to students, emerging and non-professional writers and lovers of travel looking for a career change. Minimum age 18 by the date the scholarship application close which is April 23, 2012. 

Should have a current passport with at least six months before expiry. Applicants should be an exceptional writer with a lust for adventure travel, a desire to experience new cultures and above all, a burning desire to become a professional travel writer!

For more information you may click here


“Nation and Culture” by F. Sionil Jose at Ortigas Foundation Library






F. Sionil Jose, a National Artist for Literature, Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Awardee and Pablo Neruda Centennial Awardee  once again will give a talk entitled:  “Nation and Culture”, on Friday, March 16, 6pm at Ortigas Foundation Library.

Mr. Jose’s new books “ The Feet of Juan Bacnang” and  “Gleanings From A Life in Literature” as well as his other books will be on sale. 

To register and for more details please call 631-1231 locals 222 and 228 or email ortigasfoundation@ortigas.com.ph
Admission is FREE!

Filipinos on How they Cope about Personal Finance Issues

"Poverty NOT corruption is the Philippines' number one problem." says Rendell Tiongson, one of the country's twelve  Most Influential People in Personal Finance by Moneysense. "But it sounds little ironic  because an average Pinoy changes mobile phone every 8  - 12 months and four of the world's biggest malls in the world are in the Philippines! We shop like we have that first world taste of consumerism but we forget we are a third world country!" He continues.

I will continue to share with you the "groundbreaking" and "hair-raising realities" about the Philippines when it comes to personal finance issues as told by Rendell.  And I hope this is read by every Filipinos out there. We need to do something!

* Among Asian countries, SADLY the Philippines has the lowest savings rate which is only 16%! Hong Kong & China are 50%, India, Malaysia & Thailand are within these range 29% - 38%. Vietnam which has almost the same  economy as the Philippines is 27%.  Based on our low savings rate, our country is in trouble!

 * Only ONE out of ten Pinoys prepare for retirement security.  Not so much of us really care what is going to happen when we are old and weak. The saying "Bahala na" system is really getting into the mindset of  many.

* MOST of our bright fellow countrymen are leaving the country.  Rendell shares every time he speaks in every school and university,  either a public school or a private owned same thing. He asks about  who will stay and who will leave the country to work abroad. Ninety percent raises their hand to leave the country to work abroad and ten percent who did not raise their hands are BASICALLY those who are not listening to his questions that is why they did not raise their hands.

* Of the ninety (90) million Pinoys, thirty - six (36) million only have bank accounts which is roughly 2/3 of the total population.  Twenty-three million (23) have balances  below Php 5,000. But we have so many cash flowing in the banks - 5 trillion in banks!

* Fifty percent (50) % of Filipino families do not own their houses. Though our SSS, GSIS and PAG - IBIG housing loans and projects have been very active (appears) to be for developing housing project initiatives.


Rendell spoke in front of aspiring entrepreneurs  and members of the New Media or the bloggers.  He was one of the speakers (other one was Carlo Ople ) in a free  symposium "Towards an Enterprising Philippine Society: Entrepreneurship Advocacy and Business Development through Social Networking"  last  March 3rd at  UP Institute for Small-Scale Industries Building, UP Diliman, Quezon City.This discussion aims to share to everyone that "one of the best things one can do for his country is to start his own income-generating, job creating business."

The Philippines is No. 1 in Facebook and No. 9 in Twitter penetration. Good news for local Filipino entrepreneurs because a good part of that audience is Filipino. We need to take advantage of our fellow countrymen to let our products, services and whatever form of business we have to use social networking sites in a good way! Anyone who has a business  should hop on the social media networking bandwagon NOW!

The photo above by the way is one of the slides in Rendell's presentation.

VSO Bahaginan 2ND Volunteering Expo

Looking to volunteer your time and skills?  Then you may need to drop by at VSO Bahaginan 2ND Volunteering Expo at the Intercontinental Manila, Makati, March 13, 2012. According to VSO Bahaginan website "The Philippines is ripe for a volunteering revolution! It is one of the few countries that has institutionalized volunteerism as a strategy for national development and international cooperation. This Volunteering Expo aims to help ignite a volunteering revolution and to  VSO Bahaginan in Makati City, aims to help ignite a volunteering revolution. We aim to raise the profile and value of volunteering and volunteers".

I always loved doing short time volunteer works. Short time because I got work as well but would love to do it over and over again. So there you go guys! Yeah it does not hurt for sometime we share our talents and skills for free. Exhibits and fair will be open to visitors from 8AM to 5:30PM. This section of the Expo is free and open to the public.

Ten cartwheels, a Tumble and Split!

This has been the longest time I was away from home for almost a year. Last time I was home was April 2011. I attended an ordination of a friend whom who has been reminding me not to miss that day since we were in high school and it was my late dad's first year death anniversary. I admit I have killed that homesickness finally and realized that I am not getting any younger anymore that I should live my own and continue to see what is life for me.

This has been also the most emotional period of my life thinking things over about shifting career and/or moving to another place. Working in the past 6 years in the same place and same people somehow made me really comfortable to the point that I have no strength to leave my job unless they fire me. But with all due
respect I would love to work for them for as long as I live but one thing I realized life is too short to spend it for one thing or for one reason.

So all I need to get home is an hour flight, a van ride for another hour or so and ten cartwheels. It was a surprise visit. My mom is getting older and older the way she looks every time I go home and my two younger sisters are now teenage ladies! The rest of my brothers and sisters are also away from home studying and working. So we're kinda scattered only complete when holidays come. Actually not so because I have work on holidays! I made sure I visited my grandma and all my relatives nearby to pay respect to them. And one thing that my mom wanted for us every time we go home is to visit our dad's grave. So we went there and my mom as always about to cry while we lit  candles so I asked her "Mama, If and slash or when I walk down the aisle to get married who will walk me now that Papa is gone?" My mom freeze for a while not expecting I will ask that. She said "Well Roni (our second eldest) or your Tito blah, blah..." Whew! I didn't really meant to ask her about that all I really wanted is to stop her from crying! Good that she did not!

Now this is the hardest part... preparing my stuff to go back to Manila. This time all I need to do is a tumble and a split to catch the first bus trip to go back to the airport. But it was my heart that is heavier than my backpack bag that wouldn't want me to even take a step forward. My mom asked "When are you coming back?" I said "In a few months." But actually I don't know. I wanna go home as often as I can as much as I wanna go to other places as well. I want to enjoy life like I never did before. I am up to anything right now. Good of course. Does not matter whether I end up losing a battle, what matters is I tried. I wanna be anywhere!

I Am Now Officially Selling Local Tour Packages!

Not even in my dreams I ever thought of promoting tour packages! LIke when I started this blog I don't know what I wanted to blog about. But after two years I realized that my calling is a bout heritage and tourism so I started writing and sharing about anything related to these topics. Then I found myself reading quality blogs that don't just "brag" but use it as a medium to inspire others.

The Philippines  is a very, very rich country in terms of natural resources and tourism. I am not saying it is the best but we have the best spots ever! We should see our country. Just a tip: never go back without learning something when you see a place for the first time. We learned pottery making and hand weaving when we went to Ilocos. With so many airfare promos, we have no reasons to say that only rich can do this! So I took an  introduction to setting up a "Home - based and How to Put up an Online Tour Packages" and pushed a friend to take the "How to Compute and Sell Tour Package" just to make sure we have a little background of what we are doing. Reason why I had her do it is I am not free that time and any time that I need her for "professional help" I can have her.

Below is the screenshot of the very first inquiry I received through email. I become inspired more after a few is asking me about our Laoag, Pagudpud and Vigan tour. I also inspired three of my officemates to go to these places I mentioned. By the way they are going there on Apr. 14 -17 for 3 days and 2 nights for only p4, 888. They are also looking for 3 to 6 people to join them. This is not including the mode of transportation from Manila to Laoag and Laoag back to Manila, However the hotels you will stay for the rest of these days are included. If you are not available at these dates we can also make another itinerary suitable to your preferred dates.

 For the itinerary you may click hereLet me know if you are interested please text me at 0919-883-5984  or mariaronab@gmail.com is my email address.


How the Heck I Spent My Birthday in Cebu

This is the weirdest birthday I've ever spent in my life so far! I went to another place, did not take a single photo and spent with 2 other people whom each of us just met for the first time and had only 24 hours to spend as the next day I have to go back to Manila to work.To escape the pressures of my 28th birthday, I decided to spend it away so I booked a flight to Cebu and thinking to go to  Bohol as well. ALONE. Yes Alone. Well, I was dreaming of spending this especial day with somebody but I have no courage to take that first move to invite nor not even sure if I will be granted. "You crazy Rona! You'll spend only 24 hrs there and get back here?" says my friends. "Yeah, why not?" I answered. This is the first time I went to Cebu/Bohol without friends and no knowledge of where to go, I used Couchsurfing - a travel website and sent a group message in a forum for Cebu and asked what to do where to stay yadda yadda! I got decent answers and one sent me a message and offered me to show around the place. 

Cool! His name is Mike to my surprise, he isn't a local but an American who's been living here in the Philippines for 8 years. Ok, I will be toured around my own country by a foreigner!  "So any ideas where I can have a nice and affordable hotel?" I asked. "You can stay at my place". He quickly replied. I freezed for a while.  "There is another American girl who will be staying in my place as well. So there is nothing to worry about."  

6PM FEB 20 Landed in Cebu and we first met at Jo's Chicken Inato. They have very affordable steaks and the buko - halo. It is like a halo-halo inside a buko. I was kinda shy when I first met them but after a few minutes we're like starting to chat non-stop! Mike's place is in Mountain View, Busay which is like halfway to the hill and the view is MESMERIZING either daytime or night time. Promise. I swear. So we went up using his motorcycle in Cebu since the place has more terrains, people use motorcycle they call as habal-habal. 

12MN FEB 21 I was in tears but I try not to show to them. Was wondering who was thinking of me by that time and remembering it is my birthday. They knew it was my birthday so they brought me out for some drinks. We went to Mango Square street where there are some decent bars we tried. They ordered Red horse - a strong beer, me I choose something light - like San Mig light! Cristin has been to 43 countries while Mike has been to a lot as well. He knows how to speak Tagalog and Cebuano dialect but his accent remains very slang. He knows the customs and traditions and some What-to-tell-and-rather-not-tell about our culture. I feel like I am being hosted by a local!  He said that Manila and Cebu are like two countries very much alike but competing to each other. We danced. We got lost. Cristin disappeared. We looked for her. Then they couldn't find me. I couldn't find them either... we got lost inside a small dance floor!

4AM FEB 21 We went back or should I say up to Mike's house. Everyone is tipsy. We slept in one room like there is no tomorrow.

9AM FEB 21 Thank you to the light beers, I was able to wake up this early. I knew it. Had I chose the strong one, I would have been like Cristin still sleeping and snoring. Ooops sorry Cristin. Peace :) Mike is awake. He told me I am wasting my time If I stay in his place I should go out and see Cebu. So I went down the hill and ride in habal-habal. I will have another post of what are the places I've been. I was running out of time and decided not  to go to Bohol. Will be a different trip.

5PM FEB 21 Mike is texting me where am I. He said he wanted to show me around in his bike but cannot leave Cristin who is yeah still sleeping. He said he can't leave her that way. She's got a hang over. 

6PM FEB 21 Cristin is awake. Yehey! I waited for them to go down and we ate at this Italian Restaurant near Ayala IT Park. 

8PM FEB 21 We went up to Mike's house. They talked about travelling. I have nothing much to share never been to a foreign country. They are talking each holding a world map as long as an arm length. Cristin will be going to Bohol the next day for a few days and will explore Philippines in two months!

9PM, 10PM... 11PM FEB 21 My heart is starting to feel heavy. As I know I have to start packing my things up for my flight in a few hours. 

12MN FEB 22 "I HATE SAYING GOODBYE" I said to them. Time is too short! I catched a habal-habal ride again to go down. We parted and hugged each other lightly.

4AM FEB 22 Plane takes off. Me in a dramatic mood. Wondering If  I was ever remembered by that somebody at this very special day of my life. I lost my phone. Only a few knows my new number. No 
greeting on my Facebook wall as well. I got a hundred plus greetings already but I was only looking for that one greeting. Sigh! 

7AM FEB 22 I am back in my place. I slept and woke up at 2PM. Mike texted reminded me he left a reference in Couchsurfing. It is a courteous act after you met through that website that you share the experiences and what you learned etc. I replied to him and said I will do the same as soon as I am online. Since I have no photos in Cebu,  all I can show is our references to each other we left. I am back in Manila, back to reality. Just like nothing happened...