Sharing all things about pet-friendly travels and full-time work from home setup

Going green, not the mind but environment this time

Currently exhibited in Greenbelt 1 is a photo exhibit “Express Your Art Photo Contest II – Go Green Photocontest” sponsored by Thunderbird Resorts. This is their second photo contest which aims to promote sustainability through photographs . Awnd also a way of supporting art among Filipinos with photography as medium. Inspired by what happened to the provinces of Rizal and La Union struck by 2 destructive typhoons, Thunderbird Resorts saw the need to promote environment.  Its purpose is to create awareness, promote environmental balance, and instill commitment.
Grand Prize Winner
Imee Antonio
Jovito Amonoy
Reynaldo Mondez Sr.
Catalino Celzo
Reynaldo Mondez Sr.
Heinz Reimann Arnais
My vote (if i’m one of the judges) goes to the grand winner as well showing beautiful local crafts made of rattan split, abaca rope, seagrass, sabutan, buri & pandan leaves etc. Not only it’s about using our local resources but it’s about promoting our identity in another way.
To view the complete list of finalists you may click here
Courtesy of

Pinays: Stop using Whitening Products!

Through her Twitter account, a popular microblogging site, model and former VJ Sarah Meier-Albano calls for Pinays to “Stop with the whitening creams” and be proud of their God-given brown complexion.  Sarah, who is of Swiss, Chinese and Filipino descent tweeted “So to my dear Filipinas – take a look. Venus Raj, Danica Magpantay. Beautiful, dusky, exotic. STOP with the whitening creams already.”
International  achievements of fellow Pinays inspired Sarah like the recent win of mocha – skinned Danica Magpantay  (2011 Ford Supermodel of the World contest) and exotic beauty of Venus Raj (Miss Universe 4th Runner-up) to make a call like this. Most Filipinos particularly the Pinays, use whitening products to achieve a whiter complexion like the commercial models and Hollywood stars they watch everyday.
“A number of skin care companies are distorting the concept of beauty” earlier said by Vice President Jejomar Binay. “Cosmetic firms have been selling their products by subliminally promoting distaste for our natural brown complexion,” he noted in an interview. He continued “It is not color that divides us but poverty and hunger. The idea being peddled is that we are not beautiful because we are not fair-skinned. That is not true.”
Even in the local TV and movies too, it is very noticeable that most of the ladies who get the lead roles are those with whiter complexion or those who came from mixed blood or descent. The term ‘exotic’ is usually coined to local women who has brown complexion but uneducated who hooks up with foreign men often old to get richer. If this will be the standard for every Pinays, not only we lose our color but our identity as well.

Philippines, Spain and RH Bill

Most of the people locally, at least knew that there was another country that colonized the Philippines way back for more than 300 years but in Spain “the knowledge about Philippines unlike Mexico and Cuba is very small, not to say none, between common people”, says a Spanish visitor who is doing his Masters in Intercultural Relationships and works part-time to an international organization that facilitates humanitarian concerns in the country. But then he assures that “the Spanish Government is making increasing efforts to approach Philippines” all to the glory of reviving ties of these two countries with a rich historical past.
“The Philippines is still colonized until now… under the Vatican authority.” He quips. “The Roman Catholic church’s strong opposition against the RH bill is getting impractical because of the country’s overpopulation issue.” He continues. Interestingly or incidentally, he happens to share the same advocate of someone into Manila’s history – Carlos Celdran as pro RH bill. “Are you a Catholic?” I ask. “Well, I was baptized that way.” He answers. “No offense but Spain, is always associated with how the colonial and crab mentality started in here.” My comment. “Let’s take a look at your history.” He answers.
Jose Rizal, your country’s national hero on the brink of execution was helped by a Spanish governor-general to escape to Cuba. But a friar, Dominican I think, made all the efforts to stop him and be executed. His two novels, the Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, are all about criticism against friars and the Catholic church.” Then, he continues, “Juan Luna’s Spoliarium, if you look closely at the painting, it depicts the friars specifically, abusing the people.”
There you go, the battle continues as Filipinos face changes caused by the trends of today. The RH bill is not just a battle to pass another bill but to Filipinos it’s more than a test of their faith and spirituality. History in this country would be incomplete without Roman Catholic’s contribution. But it seems that most of the people pushing to get it passed are majority Roman Catholics… a historical twist on going.

UST'S Lumina Pandit: Historical Treasures in 400 Years

Section 1: “Threshold 400″, focuses on the arrival of the Dominicans in the archipelago, to be named las islas filipinas, which was an auspicious event, particularly in light of the persons of those rare individuals, Domingo Salazar, O.P., who served as the first bishop of the colony, and Miguel de Benavides, O.P., the third bishop, and founder of the University of Santo Tomas. They came to sustain the spiritual fervor of the conquistadores; and to evangelize among the indigenous peoples and the migrants from the Middle Kingdom (now known as China).

The very first books published from the period of first encounter will be on display for the first time in decades, together with such key documents as the oldest book of the UST Library, authentic copies of the Act of Foundation of the university, the Royal Cedula given by Philip IV in 1623, the Papal bulls, Royal decrees juxtaposed with period objects from the UST Museum.

Section 2: “Realm of Print” displays a newly produced, never-before-seen exact replica of the first printing press, together with such rarities as the Librong Pag-aaralan nang Manga Tagalog nang Uicang Castila, the first printed book written in Tagalog and the first printed book by a Filipino printer, Tomas Pinpin.

Section 3: “Spheres of Change”
Who has not heard of Copernicus, Aristotle, Galileo, Strabon, Thomas Aquinas, Ceferino Gonzalez? See their master works on exhibit in “Spheres of Change,” the 3rd Section of Lumina Pandit which features ideas that traveled to the Philippines via new books, eventually leading to the Filipinos’ exposure to new ideas in the fields of law, medicine, agriculture, architecture, engineering, and theology.

Section 4: “Routes of Globalization”
The earth is round, it was always so, but men did not realize it until the 16th century. In the exhibit’s Section 4, “Routes of Globalization”, Pigaffeta narrates the first circumnavigation voyage led by navigator Ferdinand Magellan. Nationalism in the Philippines was awakened through the arrival and death of Magellan. To familiarize us with tremendous advances in the history of humanity are books that tell this story: Relazione del Primo Viaggio, De Molucis Insulis, Ataque de Limahon, Historia Mundi, to name a few.

Section 5: “Curve of Nationalism”
The Philippines becomes independent from Spain and dependent on the United States of America. When the Americans created the University of the Philippines, UST was already 300 years old. What has UST done so far? See the journals of the time, religious and secular books, a listing of the different heroes, and many other artifacts. Take this unique opportunity to view the academic grades of the fathers of our nation, of four Presidents, six Supreme Court Justices and many other outstanding UST alumni.
Lumina Pandit is derived from the Latin “lumina” (light) and “pandere” (to spread).

Taken from : UST starts marking 400th anniversary; exhibit slated,
Exhibit started last June 17, 2010 until Jan. 30, 2011 only

Paris-Manila 2010-2011 & Heritage Networking Night

A gathering of heritage advocates you should not miss!
Ecole Nationale SupĂ©rieure D’architecture de Paris La Villette students present their findings about metropolises in Asia-Pacific and for 2010-2011, it’s about Metro Manila together with the Department of Sociology and Anthropology of the Ateneo de Manila University. They come from all over the world:   Archs. Christiane Blancot, Guillaume Marchand (who lived in Inner Manila), and Wang Seng, led by Arch. Shin Yong-Hak. They will be in Manila February 7-March 9, 2011. On February 25, they will show the detailed plans and proposals they made in 2010 for revitalizing five sites in Metro Manila.

PARIS-MANILA 2010-2011 (5:30 to 7 p.m.)
France-based architectural professors and students discuss their study of Metro Manila
Registration fee is Php200 which covers the talk and networking night. For more information please click here

Balangay Voyage and Team a Historical Fraud?

It all started when a certain Vicente Calibo de Jesus posted an album “Balanghai” complete with pictures and scanned manuscripts on his  Facebook wall months ago about the Balangay voyage and team of former Usec. Art Valdez is not authentic citing that it should be correctly spelled as “balanghai”. He said the boat replicas are hoax since it doesn’t have outriggers (katig in local term) and it should be called “balanggay” instead.  It is the same as the email reply he got from Ray Howgego, author of the Encyclopedia of Exploration and one of the world’s leading historian, as the correct pronunciation of the word “balanghai” written by Antonio Pigafetta.

Pigafetta is part of Magellan’s voyage of circumnavigating the globe and  one of the few survivors who were able to return home. He related his experiences and wrote Relazione del Primo Viaggio Intorno al Mondo (Report on the First Voyage Around the World) in Italian. This post sparked a very intriguing discussion whom Graciano Mayoralgo, one of those who commented on his album also emailed Howgego to clarify everything. Howgego confirmed that his reply to de Jesus refers merely to the rules of correct pronunciation. His reply said, “The final ‘ai’ is a dipthong pronounced as i, as in ‘cry’. The ‘gh’ is pronounced g, as in ‘get’ or ‘go’. In Italian, if the letter g precedes e, i or a dipthong like ai, it is pronounced j, as in ‘jet’. However, ‘gh’ is always pronounced as g, as in ‘get’. Pigafetta clearly used ‘gh’ rather than ‘g’ to ensure that it would not be pronounced as ‘j’.”

Howgego also mentioned “in the only transcription I could find of the original Relazione del primo viaggio he uses ‘Balangai’ at least six times and only once spells it Balanghai (by accident?) in his supplementary vocabulary of native words subtitled ‘Vocaboli di questi popoli mori’”. De Jesus claims indirectly that “he has taken the necessary step of reading the canon of Magellan historiography” in the album exchange of comments and said  that he has four extant manuscript as sources (the Italian Ambrosiana, the French Manuscript 5650, and Nancy-Libri-Phillipps-Beinecke-Yale codex).

When ancient wooden boats were accidentally dug in Butuan, Philippines in 1976, William Henry Scott, an American historiographer who was based locally then was asked by the Philippine’s National Museum to do a research about this. In his “Barangay: sixteenth-century Philippine culture and society” writing, aside from discovering another version of the word, the “barangay” which is used to describe the smallest political unit of Tagalog society he also mentioned about the orthography (art of spelling) conflicts as Spanish and Filipino alphabet are different. He said “I have re-spelled them in accordance with normal Philippine usage… Thus I have changed c and qu to k as appropriate…  and i with y before or after vowels.”

According to Balangay Voyage team’s official Facebook Fan Page“Team Everest consulted the officials of our Philippine National Museum on all the historical, cultural and technical details that should be considered in building the balangay replica. The balangay replicas that crossed the wide open seas of Southeast Asia are the successful results of this harmonious collaboration among Team Balangay, the National Museum, the academic community and the maritime industrywho together agreed on the design and name of the balangay boats.”

I Envy this Tour Guide in Intramuros

A casual walk inside Intramuros like seeing the old walls and churches there I thought is enough to fill Annie’s curiosity, a Canadian tourist whom I met thru Couch Surfing of what we Filipinos were before. But as soon as we walked near Manila Cathedral all the researches I did a night ago about its history was forgotten! I just blurted out “Oh, a famous tour guide and authority of Manila’s history once held a protest here, dressed in our national hero’s attire, flashed a placard with a Damaso name on it while there is a mass going on. ” She gave me a blank stare. “He spent a night in a jail after.” I received another blank stare.

Just in front of Manila Cathedral, I led her to Plaza De Roma. Again, the reviews online I read about this, all gone in the air. A forty-something, petite man suddenly approached us and offered to walk us through the historical places, of course with a pay. He said an amount at first which we thought it’s expensive and we quickly said No”. He slashed the price half, we quickly said “Yes”. But how can this be a tour guide when his wearing a white shirt and shorts? Then he opened a crumpled plastic bag, took a dress out that looks old and shook it. The next thing we knew, he’s putting on this green, flashy dress in front of us that he later said their official uniform as tour guides! I was laughing my heart out and so did Annie.

He quickly led us to Palacio De Gobernador and showed us an old, printed copy of the places we’re going to see and began chanting us the history of each place like a pro! Annie and I quickly exchanged smiles as a way of saying he’s good and funny! Then we went back to Manila Cathedral. After ‘chanting’, he quickly offered to take a photo of us like we don’t need to ask a favor to have him to. Then we found ourselves, walking behind him, following him wherever he goes. Our next stop is the San Agustin Museum. Same thing, he would always initiate to take a photo of us and it made us laugh again because while he is taking the picture he would kneel down, slouch  that he looks like he’s crawling already. His head and the camera are almost touching the floor! Then we looked at the picture he took, it was great because it’s not only a whole body type but from the ceiling up to the floor down it’s all caught in the picture. “I learned something new about taking pictures today.” I said. Annie added Yup, he’s got a future in photography!”

“Hmmm, what if given another situation with my buddies and asked to take their picture and do this too? Nah, they’ll laugh at me for sure!” He led us to different rooms of artifacts, paintings, old retablo of the church, furnitures, 400 yr-old bamboo organ, big vases dug from China, statues and altar utensils made of diamonds, gold, emerald, ruby amethyst etc. He made us listen to the noise inside the vases too. An imitation, you’ll not hear anything.” He said. I felt like I was transported back to this era! Then we went inside San Agustin Church. We looked up and the ceiling seemed like we’re inside a hat with full of art decors. Then he said, “The one you’re seeing on top is FLAT.” “Did you say what, FLAT? “Yeah, it’s like a three-dimensional painting.” He could tell we don’t believe him yet so he made us touch another kind of this painting on the other side and “Yes it is!”

We went out and while walking a group of Japanese students are just in front of us and their tour guide is also Japanese. So I asked “Oh, so there’s a foreign tour guide here too?” He replied. “Yeah, they come here to take a lesson and be a tour guide to their fellow countrymen who visits here. “ “I see.” I said“If I finished my studies, maybe you won’t see me here today. ” He said in Filipino. I then told Annie in English what he said and noticed his funny face became sad, his eyes a bit watery. I got tongue-tied. My heart was pinched!

Then we reached Fort Santiago. It’s already past five in the afternoon so the museums are closed already. We dropped by the store and Annie went to the cashier to have her money be changed into smaller bills. Then I throw him a few questions. He answered. “I’ve been a tour guide for 23 years already. I thank Gordon who funded the event so that we have license.” Then I popped up my BIGGEST question for him. “Don’t you get bored?” He replied. “No, because from time to time we are invited to tour people in Boracay, Bohol, Palawan, Cebu, Davao for free.”

Annie and I went separate ways. We thanked each other. I hope it was a great experience for her. She said she will upload the photos by first week of February since she will tour a few islands in the country for the next 2 weeks or so. I can hardly wait. Then I remember the tour guide, he didn’t know there’s one person that envies him so much… it’s me. My work has imprisoned me for several years already that almost it’s impossible to make a vacation longer than three days. What would happen to this guy and the rest who makes a living out of Intramuros and Fort  Santiago which is said to be on the verge of irreparable loss and destruction?  Curious enough, I took a picture of him while copying his body style on how to take picture and the one above is the result.

Intramuros is On the Verge of Irreparable Loss & Destruction

Intramuros is one of the twenty endangered cultural sites in the world according to a report “Saving Our Vanishing Heritage: Safeguarding our Cultural Heritage Sites in the Developing World” by Global Heritage Fund (GHF). It details the state of conservation for the planet’s most significant sites over the past decade (2000-2009) and the $100 billion opportunity these sites are for developing nations. Two hundred (200) out of five hundred (500) surveyed major archaeological and heritage sites in developing countries are identified as “At Risk” or “Under Threat,” and 20 are “On the Verge” of irreparable loss and destruction.

“Global heritage sites are mankind’s history – a link to the past, our common humanity and the basis for scientific and aesthetic inquiry – but they’re also sources of national identify and important economic assets for sustainable development,” said Dr. Ian Hodder, professor of Cultural and Social Anthropology at Stanford University. A developing country such as the Philippines is where GHF focuses its funding and conservation efforts because of the scarce human and technical resources to protect its historical treasures, and for the economic promise global heritage sites have as community-based, responsibly managed tourist destinations. The world of heritage preservation is said to be slowed by bureaucracy and corruption, etc.

Key findings of the report include: Heritage sites in 180 developing countries are expected to generate over $100 billion a year by 2020, Tourism to heritage sites in many developing countries now generates more foreign revenue than any other industry, Current funding for heritage conservation from major foundations and corporations is a fraction of what is needed to solve the crisis facing the developing world and Through targeted philanthropic, government and business investments, Create a multi-billion dollar fund to assist the poorest, Most vulnerable countries with the most endangered and significant sites.

Twenty-five leading experts in heritage conservation and international development from universities, preservation groups, international development agencies and the private sector comprise the team who made this report happen. No other site in the country holds as much national historical interest as IntramurosFort Santiago, is also in the list. This report was released November of 2010 but this kind of story SHOULD  BE SHARED OVER AND OVER AGAIN, to be read by every Filipinos and who knows be read soon by a few of our highest government officials and change their minds who are far, very far from heritage.

Philippines' Adobo is featured in NY Times Magazine

“There are as many recipes for adobo as there are Philippine islands.” says Sam Sifton about his article The Cheat: The Adobo Experiment in New York Times Magazine website. He added in more than 7,100 islands in the Philippines, a nation slightly larger than the state of Arizona, you will find different recipes of adobo if you travel it all. This is because the Filipino cooking is a cuisine that includes Chinese, Spanish, American and indigenous island influences, all rolled into one making it an evolutionary masterpiece.

Filipinos Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan, authors of “Memories of Philippine Kitchens”, the first major Filipino cookbook published in 2006 internationally and owner of Purple Yum restaurant based in Brooklyn, New York share their chicken adobo version with a sauce that combines vinegar and coconut milk with soy sauce, garlic and fiery little Thai chilies. Amy clears that “No two people in the same house will cook adobo the same way.” At Purple Yam, her husband finishes the process by tossing the chicken into a deep-fryer, to crisp and to caramelize it at once. Then best served with white rice and some steamed or sautĂ©ed greens.

Their cookbook “Memories of Philippine Kitchens” is the winner of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) 2007 Jane Grigson Award for scholarship in the quality of its research and writing.  It is also a finalist for the Julia Child First Book Award. Amy shares in an email reply she sent to the author that a big part of that book was conceptualized from their hometown, Irosin where they gathered people mostly relatives of Romy and asking them to list and talk about their childhood food, particularly the family recipes and traditional cooking methods used. They spent years tracing in and outside influences on the food of thePhilippines all throughout like in Pampanga, Negros, Ilocos etc. too.

Sam continues that there is always an “argument” to husbands and wives in the Philippines as to how adobo is cooked at least for a day like disputes over what vinegar to use, sugar, whether to include a garlic or not and how much of it. Some use chicken, others pork, or a combination.  He ends his article by saying “This isadobo. Every man [is] an island”
Image and information source: The Cheat: The Adobo Experiment , New York Times