Monday, October 31, 2011

Forthcoming: City under stress Friday at rest Monday.
Sent via mobile phone

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Some roads are not meant to be travelled alone.
250 kilometers of Twists, Turns and Surprises around Taal Lake

An American facilitator who hails from Old England and lives in Spain was in Manila and asked me “What are you doing this Saturday?” In effect I was asked, “Bring me around the city and nearby where I can appreciate nature, food, history and people in a day.” Quickly the night before, I mapped out an itinerary which should fulfill these expectations of a well traveled guest. Running in my mind as a criteria were: it must show a modern city and its infrastructure, bistros for conversations, grand views, and historical sites building up interest as we complete.

This 8AM to 10PM activity started out from a Makati hotel pick up and back. In between we moved out of Metro Manila via Bonifacio Global City highlighting the “Fort” buildings and the Manila American Cemetery and Libingan ng mga Bayani.

We took South Luzon Expressway exiting at Sta. Rosa Laguna to show the training centers, industrial park and urban expansion. 1st stop in less than an hour was a coffee shop at the ridge. Java Jazz Coffee is a small bistro type shop in an all wood structure ventilated coolly by the breeze of Tagaytay. It is manned by 2 young baristas who served coffee with care and dedication. Setting was sufficient trigger to start a conversation about coaching, life struggles and travel. Not minding the time, it was an ideal place to go on and on and on.

But that was just for starters. From cozy we went grand, Antonio’s. Antonio is about 15 minutes from the coffee jazz but miles and miles away in structure. Built by a landlord of Negros, it is an architectural wonder; rooms are oversized, interiors are well appointed, food is excellent. From the many dining function rooms, we chose a corner at the garden for a small meal. Like the 1st stop, the patio setting and cool air set us up for more conversations on career.

Past lunch, we moved further South to Taal for view of the heritage town after a brief stopover at Sonya’s Garden. Taal showcased the rich Philippine heritage as evidenced by the Taal Basilica, ancestral houses and cobblestone streets. On the way out, we dropped by the shoreline just to have a glimpse of the sea. To the surprise of the guests, the residents appeared not to have shown any appreciation for the sea which according to them is a premium in their country.

Resort in Alitagtag
Nearing the completion of the loop, I included in the itinerary a resort known only to a handful meant to show a panoramic view of Taal from the West side at night. From this resort in Aligtagtag Batangas, it appeared that Mt. Maculot, a popular mountaineering destination was just within reach.

We returned back to Metro Manila via STAR and SLEX logging in about 250 kilometers of travel traversing from Metro Mania, Laguna, Cavite and Batangas in a day. Ending our expedition was a dinner at the wings of Vivere on the 31st floor which showed the Metro Manila skyline.

All in a day, Manila and the 3 nearby South Luzon provinces were seen differently; no longer as a cramped space but expansive with natural wonders and attractions. Guests said "They'll bring their friends from other countries when they come back to Manila." I said "I’d cover the track again with another company." As some roads are not meant to be travelled alone and done only once, especially this 250 kilometer trip of twists, turns and surprises around Taal Lake.

At the 31/F of Vivere

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sitting In

I sat in a training session which maps outs a development process of an associate in a corporate organization. It imparted a main message that "an associate expedites his growth in the organization if he charts out his destiny as a leader of the self." Key is his awareness of the need for directions and support to succeed which he draws out from his immediate leader.
This development is a dynamic journey leading to a peak performance where the associate is transformed from a novice position to a reliable performer.
Driving this achievement of result is in influencing partners to help achieve one's goals.

Learning to make snow balls for the 1st time, then filling up the sleigh.
Sliding on a sleigh is another skill.  Enjoying it later is self reliance.
What I realized is each one has an inherent power to influence whether personal, relationship, position or task. It is just that we are hesitant to tap this power for several reasons: fear, comfort etc.
Life is a mystery. It capitalizes on any trigger to pin down a message. This time, it was through a sit-in session where I did not even intend to complete which I did and eventually participated in.
-Personal Notes

Pickpockets nab Paris police chief’s smartphone

PARIS—A group of audacious pickpockets has managed to nab the smartphone of Paris's chief of police while he was preparing to board a train, police sources said on Wednesday. The thieves at the Gare de Lyon train station distracted Paris police prefect Michel Gaudin by asking him to sign a petition and swiped the mobile telephone from his pocket, the sources told AFP.  No sensitive information was contained in the phone, the sources said.  The embarrassing episode comes as the French interior ministry is in the midst of a campaign to raise public awareness of the growing risk of mobile telephone thefts.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Is there a benefit to checking in online?

Two major airlines allow web check-in for domestic flights: Cebu Pacific and Air Philippines. Philippine Airlines does not have the feature.

Web check-in is an advantage for those who booked their flights on-line. With web check-in, it completes the cycle of reduced exposure to human personnel thus freeing up queuing time.

There are guidelines. For Cebu Pacific, check in is allowed within 48 to 4 hours before departure, 24 to 3 hours for Air Philippines. Once checked in, one can no longer change the status. You are considered "flown," thus no refund and flight changes will be considered.

Web check-in technically means you forego the 2nd step of presenting yourself at the airline check in counter (1st step is the entry to the airport through the security guard). Your next step is paying the terminal fee and showing up at least 30 minutes before departure time at the pre-departure area. If you however have a baggage to check-in, you are required to present yourself to the web check-in counter which relatively has a faster processing time. With a baggage to check-in, you defeat the purpose though of reducing waiting time at the airport and the queue.

Checking-in online already gives you the seat number and your boarding pass. To some extent your boarding gate has already been pre-identified. You must print your boarding pass provided at website yourself for presentation with your identification card either at the security check or before boarding.  (If you fail to do this, web on-line counter is the recourse.)

One clear advantage of this feature in Cebu Pacific and Air Philippines is you need not rush to the airport an hour (or two for Cebu Pacific) before departure. Your seat gets forfeited only when you don’t meet the boarding time. In this case, you also forfeit your payment.

Try it out if it fits your needs.  It did for me in this month's leg.  Though I still prefer to be at the airport early to update my blogsite and post online if there is a free wi-fi.

This is a personal essay. Check the airline sites for the official guide. Policies may differ. Rules also differ for international flights.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Adventuresome and Introvert Branding

Quietly in front of the scene
Adventuresome: inclined to take risks

Venturesome: not inclined to take the beaten path

Introvert: inward. Introverts have a lot to bring if sparked. They have an amazing ability to discover new thoughts, an uncanny ability to focus, to concentrate, to connect the dots, to observe and note things that most people miss, to listen extremely well and are often found having a rich and vivid imagination too.

The more extroverts become knowledgeable about introverts, the less tension and misunderstanding there will be among the two.  Introverts and extroverts make a good balance.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Adventuresome Introvert

The week that passed must have been the most stretched air mileage I covered in my travel log.

Taking off from Manila on a Monday via PAL Airbus which took me to Cebu in the Visayas for a forum kicked off the loop. I returned back to Manila the following day returning back to Visayas in Silay via Air Philippines a day after. A commuter shuttle brought me to Bacolod for an activity.

Silay was a connecting air transport hub to Cebu via Cebu Pacific in a prop jet for another session Thursday PM. After an extended drinking spree with colleagues at the hotel coffee shop in the boundary of Mandaue and Cebu, I quickly packed to prepare for an early morning flight to Davao via Cebu Pacific in an Airbus.

I arrived in Davao early Friday morning with the luxury of commuting to the city proper in a public transpo for a coffee at Tata Benito’s coffee shop and arroz caldo at Davao’s Dencia’s. Rest of the day was spent facilitating a discussion in Ulas.

This swing exposed me to 2 international Centennial Terminals (2 and 3) in Manila, 2 international airports in the Visayas (Silay and Mandaue) and 1 in Mindanao in Davao, to PAL’s 747 and Cebu Pacific’s Airbus 320, Cebu Pacific Stuart Lawson prop jet and to Air Philippines’ Airbus 320. PAL’s service crews were formally dressed, Air Philippines’ casually dressed in shorts and Cebu Pacific in leisurely Bench outfits.

How was this for an adventuresome introvert?

At the PAL Centennial pre departure area, we were kept in suspense if the flight would depart or get cancelled in the light of the PALEA stoppage that started a week before. Fortunately, the flight took off though a bit delayed.

Landing in Cebu from Silay in a Cebu Pacific propeller jet was a challenge for the pilot as isolated rain caused poor visibility at the Mactan International Airport making the pilot circle wide the island several times before getting clearance for landing.

Commuting from Silay to Bacolod and back was a visual and sensual delight seeing ancestral homes, ruins, expansive green farmlands in a cool and airy surrounding.

The aerial view of the farms in Negros uniformly in green extending a wide kilometric radius was refreshing and an picture perfect setting.

All in all, I logged in at total of 1,682 nautical miles in a span of 6 hours and 15 minutes excluding the waiting and the check in time.

This week’s travel added to confidence to my travel sense. It validated that even with several linkages, multiple destinations and transfers, unarranged land travels I can manage. Supporting my travel were agents based in Manila who ensured I get booked in teh airline of my choice even if arranged a day or so before and the base organizers who have pre-arranged the business requirements of forums. I attribute this to a clear road map, discipline and appropriate resources.

It is fulfillment and enjoyment. An adventursome introvert like me after all loves mobility provided I have a base to come home to, to refresh and to prepare myself for the next one.

Traveler equipped with basics such as versatile 30 liter carry on, compact Nikon camera, Centro phone, all surface Rockport-Adidas walking shoes, Ralph Lauren jeans, Mountain Hardwear shirts,  waterproof and breathable Montbell particle jacket.  Expenses funded by a sponsor.
Map from Cebu Pacific Route

Cebu to Manila is 571 kilometers (equals to 354 miles or 308 nautical miles.)
Manila to Bacolod is 488 kilometers (equals to 303 miles or 263 nautical miles.)
Bacolod to Cebu is 112 kilometers (equals to 69 miles or 60 nautical miles.)
Cebu to Davao is 404 kilometers (equals to 251 miles or 218 nautical miles.)
Davao to Manila is 974 kilometers (equals to 605 miles or 525 nautical miles.)
Total in miles 1,682 nautical miles, 6 hours and 30 minutes of travel excluding the waiting

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Wanting to be Good

A visit at any mountaineering store anywhere in the Philippines manned by fellow mountaineer never fails to spark a conversation.

Looking for a 35 liter backpack, I dropped by the Habagat outlet in CM Recto in the University Belt in Manila beside University of the East. Without establishing credentials, owner Bong Ortiz informed me the available stocks in his store and explained their basic features. Picking up from my interest in the brand Habagat, he narrated why the brand is in short supply in Luzon but not in the Visayas and relayed his sourcing of the TNF brand from Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam.

He later gave leads on other shops in Metro Manila where I may be able to see the model I am interested in. He gave anecdotes on why Sandugo is doing an aggressive move out stocks which is a result of a failed China deal and how Conquer the brand is faring.

For someone who has not visited a store before, this interesting conversation is much appreciated.

I recall in Sept 2009 when I was wandering aimlessly at the Gen San side streets, I spotted an outdoor store Southern Peak Outdoor Depot along Champaca st., just across Manny Pacquiao’s commercial building. The staff entertained me well leading to an invitation to a Mt. Matutum climb via an unpopular route-via Datal Lanao.

It is great to experience that “Travel forces us to rely more on others, and the truth we learn is that our planet is a friendly place. People want to be good to one another - regardless of their background, religion, or culture.”

Monday, October 03, 2011

Random Act of Kindness

Without a map and an initial check on the attractions worth seeing in Naga City, I took a stroll at Magsaysay avenue armed with just a
common sense of direction.

At the intersection near the Minor Basilica, I asked a rookie cop
walking to my direction on how I can reach Cam Sur. Speaking in
combined Bicol and Tagalog, he gave me a perspective on directions and a detailed instruction on the jeepney and bus rides with rates.

Does this count as an act of kindness to a stranger? No you would say because that's his job. Yes I say because across the street, he was signalling the jeepney driver to stop for me.

In these times, blessings do count. Thus I did not skip paying respect to Ina for them.

Naga Fotos

Captured images of a semi-religious trip.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Kindness of Strangers

The Kindness of Strangers lifted from The National Geographic Traveler Magazine March 2004

The Kindness of Strangers is a compilation of true stories of on-the-road friendliness. Here's a word from the author, Don George:

Why stories about people being nice? Kindness is easier to see when you are removed from your everyday context. Travel forces us to rely more on others, and the truth we learn is that our planet is a friendly place. People want to be good to one another - regardless of their background, religion, or culture.
Which stories are your favorites? Naturally, I think they're all good. Jan Morris writes about being rescued from a muddy pothole in St. Petersburg. Pico Iyer befriends a philosophical trishaw driver in Mandalay. Simon Winchester enters a "state of grace" thanks to a spirited vicar on remote Ascensin Island.
Are some places kinder than others? Destinations are not kind to strangers; people are. Some cultures may cultivate warmer interaction, but kindness itself transcends place and culture.
Where have you experienced this? Locals have gone out of their way to help me in each of the 70-plus countries I've been to. A Greek family included my family in their Easter celebration; a Japanese trucker detoured and hour to drive me to a tiny village; a young boy in Cairo led me by the hand from a sinister neighborhood; a Kenyan craftsman gave me a carving he just made. I now find myself going out of my way to help people, in gratitude for the kindness that's been extended to me.
What is the lesson of your book? "We're all interconnected on life's journey, and kindness is ours to withhold or bestow. If we live everyday with kindness, we create a more graceful world."

National Geographic George W. Stone
Don George is a legendary travel writer and editor who has won numerous awards for his work. He has been travel editor at the San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle, founded and edited the Wanderlust section of, and most recently was Global Travel Editor at Lonely Planet Publications. He is the author of The Lonely Planet Guide to Travel Writing and the editor of six literary travel anthologies, including The Kindness of Strangers, Tales from Nowhere, and By the Seat of My Pants. E-mail Don at

Instances of Kindness of Strangers:
1. Asking for directions
2. Use of toilet
3. Request for a drink
4. Giving a free ride