Sunday, December 24, 2017

Courage and Faith. Tenderness this 2017 Christmas

At the 2017 Simbang Gabi at the Gesu, I spotted on 3 separate nights senior managers of the Coca Cola company, colleagues who wielded policy influence. It triggered memories of the past where the season was driving revenues for the beverage company.
On the 8th night reflection, Fr. P. Pojol reminded us that in this season, amidst the darkness, there is "I" to flicker a light to dispel darkness and "us" to fire hope. When the "I" becomes "us", it sparks hope. Where tenderness will prevail and the mighty will fall.
Quoting Pope Francis' revolution of tenderness, I paraphrase, "What is tenderness? It is not a weakness, it is fortitude (courage in pain or misery), it is the path of solidarity, the path of humility. The more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people, the more responsible you are to act humbly. If you don't, your power will ruin you and you will ruin the other."
Such simple yet profound, relevant and powerful message in today's corporate and political landscape and on a personal level.
A fitting 9th mass ending the novena, Fr. Manoling Francisco expounded on Mary's virtues of courage and faith when she said to angel Gabriel, "Be it done to me according to thy word." She took the risk even if meant death by stoning and had faith believing without a doubt. She was Christ's bearer.
Closing the theme of "Lights for Peace and Hope," we are asked to be Christ bearers too, facing adversities with courage and faith. We can be the light of Peace and Hope.
The Ateneo Chambers Choir sung traditional Christmas songs with a professional prayerful touch closing the 2017 Simbang Gabi making us better prepared for the waiting for the promise of redemption to be delivered on Christmas day.
The homily and the singing already set us up for rejoicing and joy of Christmas.
2017 Simbang Gabi impels us to act to light for peace and hope.
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Automation as a game changer in local air travel

Those who have not travelled via commercial air for the past decades maybe disoriented to new ways of booking and flying. Platform on remote automation was the game changer.
Before, one needed to physically go to an airline ticketing office to see flight schedules, seat availability and to book a seat. Now one just does it online. But one has to have a credit or debit card with a security code and an active email address. Booking is done real time with the current rate on a first come first served. There are still a number of ticketing offices spread over the country but mostly only in the airports.
Rates fluctuate depending on the traffic, date and season. The closer to the flight date, the higher the rate.
Passenger patronage has increased so did new air travel destinations. Checks in lines at the airport are longer but operating hours are longer. There too are added ways to check in: using the internet or mobile phone for web check in or the check in kiosk at the airport. All check in processes are secured by a code where physically printed ticket is no longer necessary.
Boarding passes are bar coded and quickly scanned prior to boarding the plane. One has yet to present an ID for security reasons. Terminal fee is now incorporated in the cost reducing check in steps. In an instance, the service crew could identify who checked in but have not boarded the plane.
Security is more stringent. Scanners are installed to speed up the screening. At time sniffing dogs sniff at the luggage for contraband detections. Shoes, wallets, metallic objects, phones and belts are still to be separated from the body.
Flight changes are accommodated at a cost subject to seat availability and should be done hours before the booked schedule. Cost is adjusted based on the prevailing flight rate of the new schedule which is usually at a premium. System determines availability, rates and updates.
Flying distances are earned by the passenger to earn points for premium redemption. This is made possible through a unique identification enrollment. Services are likewise compartmentalized which can be customized at an added cost. One can opt not to check in a luggage, not have an in flight meal nor a premium seating. Food can be ordered in advance, customized and delivered at the designated seat of the passenger. Flight crew is prompted by the monitor.
Through google personalized for the user, departure and arrival times are prompted in the passengers Android phone. It even cites the airline for schedule not on time.
Lastly, because service is done following a routine, do not expect for a personalized service treatment. This is the trade off to a more efficient and safer air travel.
Happy and safe travel.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Sutukil in Butuan Surigao del Norte

The entire stretch of widened 11-kilometer Butuan-Cagayan de Oro-Iligan starting from the Bancasi airport to the city proper showcases everything that is in Butuan City of Agusan del Norte.

Modern malls, hotels, global fastfood chains, banks are within kilometer stretch at JC Aquino Avenue. and corner Jose Rosales Avenue.

Interspersed are regional food chains locally tagged as sutukil exclusive to the CARAGA region.

The nationally known food outlets as McDonald's, Jollibee, KFC, Chowking in spite their relatively premium prices in Region XIII are drawing the student and professional crowds.

Transients are more interested in food outlets unique to the region as Bo’s Coffee, Tuna Republik, Tatay’s Sutukil food Grill and Baron’s offering fresh beans, fish, meat at incredibly affordable cost.

These are enough reasons to come back to Butuan even with security threats publicly declared by the local residents. When there is an abundance of fresh food, who will revolt?

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Climb Club

Right after arriving from Butuan City and a short stopover at the house, I speedily took the LRT-2 going to Recto to connect to LRT-1 Dorotheo Jose for my final destination, Padre Faura. Padre Faura is the gateway by foot to the Philippine Airlines building housed at the corner of Padre Faura and M. Adriatico.
This was neither to book a flight nor to ask for a refund but to attend an event, the PALMC 38th Christmas Party, my first Christmas party for the year.
This chain of transfers is enough to raise the adrenalin to set up what’s in store at the 4/F auditorium Saturday evening. Not for a climb but to see familiar faces and structures.
The building, in the mid 90’s was associated with mountaineering trainings, weekly, bi-monthly pre-climbs and post climbs and happy memories of camaraderie, adventure and trek to any point in the Philippines accessible or inaccessible via public transport.
This experience was created by the people behind the club mostly by company officers, pilots, in and off flight service staff, maintenance crew and its membership from non-PAL employees who had a passion for nature, travel and possibly escape.
In the program proper, the usual perennial issue was presented by President Ding, “the club has not grown, we have not recruited enough, there is no interest.”
“Is the club then dying, no longer relevant?" This prompted ex president Banny Hermanos to ask, "what’s happening at the climbing scene?”
Ding and Naldy candidly shared their experiences. The millennials are taking over. They go for short terms thus have no particular loyalties. They pay to climb which is through organized tours though not necessarily operated by trained and responsible leaders. They value selfies and real time updates. Pre climb, post climb and group activities don’t interest them. Neither do cooking, training nor team work. Millennial climbers go for immediate pleasures. They don’t care if you are left behind. And in moments of life and death, do not count on them.
But Ding jokingly admitted he associates himself with the young because they invigorate him and can keep pace with their energy.
Why do established clubs like UPM, AMCI and even MESAU continue to still be relevant? Because they are school based with an active new recruit process. AMCI on the other hand has a rigid training process like UPM.
PALMC at this point is neither a training club not a school org with patience for millennials. But it has a history, pioneering in some explorations, with an exclusive unexplored destinations. It has a base of membership that one can consider family who one can look up to cover and complement climbing skills, navigation, equipment need and planning. Most importantly, it has proven that members have a shared interest for nature and its value.
These are the challenges the 2018 Board Members are faced with. We wish them well.
  • Can we transform into a club with a serious training program?
  • Or do we appeal to millennials and convert the recreation into a money making venture?
  • Or do we let is stay as is and allow it to fade out unnoticed?
It is a decision requiring a consensus and a strong will.
In the meantime on the side, Banny, Orwin and I were looking over the professionally photographed Everest Base Camp climb slides over rounds of imported beer appreciating and reminiscing the thoughts, angst, anger and thrill going through in our minds doing this milestone climb not many mountaineering clubs have done.
In the company of fellow mountaineers, Neil, Jojoy, Juno, Fabie, Prince, Daniel, Francis and Elvie, John (via text message), Dom and Sheryl (and their children) and others too many to mention at PAL 4/F Auditorium, we see the hall, the site of action in the 70’s to the 90’s, old and dilapidated, archaic and not modern but still functional. Like the club, the foundation is still there, the spirit alive but needing some boosting to make it still relevant this decade.
Whatever direction the club takes, it has for most members already explored new avenues, deepened appreciation for nature and established true friendship through thick and thin. For that, we are grateful.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Cauayan in Isabela

My recollection of Isabela in Cagayan Valley relative to the 4 other provinces in Region 2 is it ranks next to Cagayan in terms of progress, income and development. It still is but a lot has changed since then.

As Tuguegarao is the regional center, Isabela is a pass through access with Vizcaya the gateway from Central Luzon and National Capital Region.

Landlocked, access to the region from the South and the center is via the Pan Philippines national highway. Via air, both Tuguegarao and Cauayan have landing infrastructure but air traffic is still heavier in Tuguegarao. The 150 kilometer stretch of Cagayan River which spans across all the provinces from Nueva Vizcaya to Cagayan has still to be tapped as a vehicle for water surface mass transport.

In the immediate past decades, Santiago in Isabela has emerged as a bustling city establishing it as the center of commerce, education, government and entertainment in central Cagayan Valley. With the development of Santiago, so did the other town Cauayan which is about 45 minutes and 45 kilometers away towards the upper North.

Cauayan though with a modest share of growth has not prospered as fast as Santiago. SM Cauayan opened along the highway in 2014, the 1st SM mall in the region. Several national based fast food chains, boutique hotels, private and public institutions and concept restaurants have sprouted in the original commercial center and emerging business centers.

As a 3rd class municipality, the town’s appeal lies in the preservation of old wooden structures, a laid back lifestyle with the convenience of services of urban necessities as telecom, entertainment and national and international cable signals.

Church bells early dawn Our Lady of Pillar Parish resonate within hearing range of the entire poblacion. Haircut is still done the old-fashioned way, in an on premise ventilated by ceiling fans and an unobstructed frontage door at the calle commercio. Chairs are cushioned not with foam but with an organic fiber which swivels and tilts when maneuvered by the barber mostly from Palanan Isabela. Meat roasting at the commercial center is done in the pedestrian lane fanned manually and slowly by the cook.

Unhurriedly, modern facilities are emerging like hotels, restaurants, large store groceries, banks and fast food chains. Yet even with these, the municipality is still predominantly provincial, the old Cauayan we are familiar with decades ago. Carnivals and mobile ferias and tiangge are housed in the centro near the town halls during the fiesta month.

It is this unhurriedness that is a welcome respite to travelling urban warrior who is forced to slow down from the fast paced urban city lifestyle. You know you have slowed down when you cover the entire centro from North to South, East to West in a less than 30 minute walk.

Savor the moment while it lasts.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Revisiting Iloilo

Working for a transnational advertising agency handling Pepsi Cola, we launched the new generation talents in a concert in Iloilo in the 80’s to support the Michael Jackson global campaign. It was one of the biggest and successful concerts of the decade. Center was at the city proper and the main roads connecting the 7 districts.

 Close to 40 decades after, arriving in the city via plane at the international airport in Cabatuan Iloilo, I was led to the same city not passing through bridges and riverside but in a stretch of 17 kilometer diversion road.

Before revealing its historic districts, centro and heritage sites, it previewed a cluster of modern center showcasing boutique hotels, coffee shops, resto-bars in art deco and high tech architecture.

Yet as one enters the center, the structures of the known districts of Molo, Jaro, La Paz, Mandurriao, Arevalo, city proper and Lapuz are still well preserved.

The food and cuisine associated with the region are still served in the public markets whose taste remains as tasteful and distinct as they were popularly known years ago.

For mobility, shuttles, jeepney, vans roam around freely along with taxis driven by courteous, honest operators, private units, motorcycles, bicycles and walking commuters.

There lies the charm of the city, the convenience of a modern urban center and the richness of its heritage still well preserved. 

But its indisputable appeal is its people where the language, uniquely their own is proudly spoken everywhere, anytime, a manifestation of the city’s diverse, rich and unique, endearing and tender culture.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Uneventful SLEX Travel on 11 Nov. EDSA greeted us with an early "Surprise!"

The travel on a provincial bus from South Luzon to SLEX was uneventful a day before the 3oth ASEAN 2017 Summit until our bus hit Magallanes. Along with about 20 buses at about past 1PM 11 Nov Saturday, vehicles hardly moved for 30 minutes. I suspected the lock down on EDSA in preparation for the arrival of the head of states started. Indeed it was confirmed when the “mani and shingaling” vendor announced to the bus driver that two lanes have now been barricaded starting a gridlock.
From GMA Network
The vendor suggested taking the MRT at the Magallanes station to move faster to the North. Minutes later, hordes of impatient passengers disembarked on the bus fronting the BPI branch to walk to Alphaland.
The line at the station was already long extending to Pasong Tamo Ext. but luckily MRT personnel allowed two lanes for incoming passengers. In minutes, with a card on hand, I managed to sneak in to hundreds of commuters cramped at the entrance. After a security check and the difficult step of tapping my card, I reached the platform in time for the incoming train.
Volume of passengers inside the train was not any different from the usual rush hour but I was expecting worst. Sneaking inside, I was comfortably assured of my destination to the North. Minutes later checking on Twitter and Facebook, situation was not any better.
Just like my trip to the airport, the decision to walk about 500 meters and to use my privileges to get to the platform of MRT came in in just a nick of time.
And I thought my adventure ended with my departure from Manila.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Adventure when you least expect

The transit ad at Cebu Pacific plane 5J 196 says, “Adventure takes you where you least expect.” Even before the plane took off for Cauayan, Isabela, my adventure already started.

At 6AM along C5, a huge concrete mixer truck got stalled at the Katipunan flyover south bound resulting in a kilometer long traffic, unusual for the day and time of day as the students have not even started to arrive.

Passing through it in about 20 minutes, it was a slow crawl all the way to Libis, Eastwood, Ortigas, Pasig easing up a bit after SM Aura. Timing-wise, I projected I will not make it to the 7:55 AM check in time.

Conveniently, Cebu Pacific has a web check in facility. Fortunately, my cellular data worked allowing me to check in. But I still have to secure a boarding pass and pass through security details. (Web check in if done in standard web format vs. mobile allows you to print your own bar coded pass. Check in counters at NAIA 3 have dedicated post for baggage drop off for those who used the web check in facility.)

Arriving at Terminal 3 15 minutes before boarding, I still have to get a boarding pass which I usually secure at the Cebu Pacific self-service check in kiosk. However, I was prompted to see an officer for the pass. Lines for the check in were snaking at several levels. Based on pacing, it will take more than 15 minutes making me miss the boarding. Intuition prompted me to ask a roaming personnel, “I’m flying in minutes, I just need a pass.” “Let me put you on the last call counter.” Thanks to the assisting personnel, it worked though to the irritation of some waiting passengers.

Pressed for time, I was not able to sufficiently thank the personnel as I rushed to the security section looking for the shortest line. With an  adventure racer mindset, I managed a well-paced timing. Looking at my boarding pass, the pre departure gate was located almost to the extreme end of the terminal about 500 meters away. With urgency I arrived at the nick of time.

Expecting the prompter to announce, “all passengers can now fall in line,” I instead heard, “passengers bound for flight 5J 196, your pre departure gate has been diverted to gate 120.” Hurriedly, I picked my back pack and moved again quickly to the designated gate along with the rest of over 50 passengers.

Resourcefulness, techno savvy, end-in-mind, presence of mind, time-based worked for me to overcome the set backs.

Strapped to my seat, I declared success for boarding the plane even with the faced obstacles. The plane took off and landed on time ending my adventure, so I thought.

The return flight had a more interesting anecdote. Flight was cancelled due to inclement weather in Manila. The steps I went through looking for land travel and the 10 hour travel was nothing compared to the 2 hour taxi ride to the airport for my departure where I met the timing requirements in just the nick of time.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Tale on Travel and a Seat

I took the LRT at Katipunan station for Recto. Capacity was semi-full and seats were all taken.

Suddenly a young boy stood up and left one space open with no takers for several minutes. As I was in the center aisle and not that close to that seat, I just held on to the handrail. But when one no was taking the seat after several minutes, without further hesitation, I took it.

In a while the public address inside the train aired a spiel, “bigyan daan ang mga matatanda at may kapansanan . . .”

The be-dimpled boy looked at me seated comfortably approvingly. So I thought he really gave up the seat for the elderly.

At the Araneta station, he clutched the hand of his standing mother and was moving towards the door to exit. Again he looked at me with a smile which I returned with a lip movement with no sound “Thank you.” Still clutching his mother’s hand, he lifted his right hand and waved me goodbye.

From the look of his eyes, he was pleased that he gave up his seat not to his mother nor to anyone else but me.

The situation set up the stage for the good nature boy to do a good deed. And I was the fortunate recipient of his goodness.

30 Sept 2017 written on a HP ProBook

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

When there’s a mural, there's an open space. But with beer?

Imagine a setting seeing an outdoor mural under a large high ceiling overhead canvass surrounded by foliage from century old trees while drinking cold affordable local beer.

It is not in the outskirts of Metro Manila but right within walking distance from the QC university belt in Diliman.

The murals on the walls along Katipunan Avenue UP side are telltale signs where the outlet Japers is. Murals painted on the walls of the resto bar have the same architectural elements and style as the ones in Katipunan as they were created by the same street artists. Even the enclosed smoking area and the rest room have their own brands of wall art.

Do not expect service levels, food to die for or the amenities offered by similar chain bars but the expansive space, setting and the drinks are more than enough to satisfy the bohemian beer lover. For now, it is patronized by call center agents from the nearby commercial establishment and the early adopting and adventurous students.

Treat it as your hideaway or a man cave. But when Japers is fully operational commercially with a wider food and drinks selection and the walls are filled with more illegible graffiti, you may not find your favorite open space anymore. Walk by while on soft opening.

Japers is inside Balara Filters Ground

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Respeto. The Humiliation of Hendrix

In the 1st few minutes of #Respeto even before the opening title, I was already engaged. With Hendrix's body language, I got to know him deeper, liked him and his friends. Then I was hurt, hurt again and again especially with his helplessness. With a shared experience of depression with Hendrix's father figure Doc, he got consoled. He and his patron eventually recovered. I too recovered. Until the pain has become unbearable. 

Photo grabbed from Cinemalaya
Such is the tragedy and destiny. Respeto is not just our story told well in a film, it is a universal statement of humanity.

What impacts to me most is the humiliation of Hendrix. The initial ones, he brushes them away, dedma (pagkatalo, paghihiya, pagtapon ng tae, ihi, akusasyon na pagnanakaw, pagtapon ng typewriter, utos ng bayaw). But he recovers. The emotional ones, he vents them with tears (wala akong magawa). He likewise recovers. The final one, he retaliated.

Even if we deny it, the deepest pain of being human is humiliation.

Karagdagang notes sa Respeto: Bagong format para sa akin. At di ako rapper. Panalo siya. Di ko kilala si Abra pero naintindihan ko si Hendrix at si Doc. Galing ng body language ni Abra. At syempre pa ang lenguaheng pinoy. Isa lang di ko magustuhan. Ba't may subtitle pa ng Ingles, nakakagulo sa pagappreciate ko sa sagutan. Respeto ba ang title niya? O kabiguan na may konting naudlot na pagasa? 15 na Paboritong eksena: 1. Opening rap 2. Pagkumpi ng typewriter habang may aksyon sa likod 3. Pagtapon ng typewriter 4. Entrance sa bar 5. Pagihi 6. Yabang kay Candy 7. Pagkalungkot ng naisahan kay Candy 8. Paghiya ni Doc 9. Paguusap ni Doc at ni Hendrix pagkatapos ng paghiya 10. Astronaut at butete 11. Balagtasan 12. Birthday 13. Pagsabog ng Coke 14. Galit ni Nor 15. Ending

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Watching a movie like a film and a play

Watched it like a film for its visuals, sounds, actors and craftsmanship. Appreciated it like a piece of literature for its symbolism and parallelism. Life is not clear. Even in simplicity, it is complex. Influenced to watch by the dissection of filmpolice reviewer.

Father and Son. I've worked with the director's father Raymond in executing a storyboard for a local brand of beer directed to the youth market. These are two qualities I admire about him: his understanding and appreciation of the story line and the brand message and his expertise; his rich base of modern, progressive, novel and even traditional techniques to create a compelling piece of work through the tone, texture, character of the sights and sounds.

Mikhail in his two movies #Recorder and #Birdshot demonstrated having a good story to tell and a well crafted output. Like his father, he is bursting with techniques and their appropriate use to effectively narrate. But when his story has a statement to make, he is is leveling up to be a serious artist. But Mikhail is not just a filmmaker. He is a young artist. Looking forward to view, understand, dissect and appreciate his future works.

Watched it like a play where there is one setting on a road trip. The stories on the characters unfold through their interactions. Each story is unique and engaging.

Raw production with meaty insights on the region with national relevance.

Hilarious as most viewers stated in their FB posts.

Nashock ako sa pelikula. Di sa paghubad, sa di pagtake ng board, sa nakabuntis (di na talaga bago), sa pahihiwalay (ng aso at may down syndrone), sa sayaw ni Hubert, sa pagkawala, sa bumabalik na asawa, sa pagsagasa, sa ultrawild screen, sa pagbagsak ng estante (grabe shock to the max), sa LGBT, sa lalaki/babae na naglasing, sa salitang puki, sa feria sa burol, sa dami ng Bert, sa batang gustong maging doktor na 1 time board passer, sa pagtanggap ng isang kabit kungdi . . . kaya pala bumyahe ng mini van mula Cebu hanggang Dumaguete na 170 kms. and back! 

Great ensemble. I love them all.

Patay na si Hudas reminded me of "Sa North Diversion Road," a play written by Tony Perez made into a movie by Dennis Marasigan. Richard Bolisay in his review closed it with a provocative question. "Everything changes, even the road is bound to change its name. And then a question walks closely to our ear: do exit points really take us to an exit or do they take us back from where we started?"

Victor Villanueva's movie end with their return trip back to Cebu, this time better appreciative of who they really are.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Pain and Struggle of a Helpless Pinoy Teen Rapper and a Solo Child

Respeto and Kiko Boksingero. One complex and powerfully impacting, the other pure and simple. Both are entries in the 2017 Cinemalaya 13.

 #RespetoIn the 1st few minutes, I was engaged. With Hendrix's body language, I got to know him deeper, liked him and his friends. Then I was hurt, hurt again and again especially with his helplessness. With a shared experience of depression with Hendrix's father figure Doc, he got consoled. He and his patron eventually recovered. I too recovered. Until the pain has become unbearable. Such is the
tragedy and destiny. Respeto is not just our story told well in a film, it is a universal statement of humanity.

#KikoBoksingero is a dramatization of a gap left behind by an absentee father. Kiko, my 1st film for Cinemalaya 13 narrates a longing for completeness filled in slowly and gradually with eventual resolution. The crafting is in the simple details, in the nuances of expression, staging, linear sequencing, simplicity bringing out raw emotions one can relate to. Uses boxing as a metaphor for parenthood.

Respeto and Kiko. Both stories tell struggles of the youth. Their growth is made easier with an identified mentor they can connect with to fill in the gaps. What is untold is how they can cope without them and who will eventually benefit from their own eventual mentoring.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Language Culture Connection

"Whenever you teach a language, you also teach a complex system of cultural customs, values, and ways of thinking, feeling, and acting"

H. Douglas Brown, Teaching by Principles:  An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy, 2nd ed., Addison-Wesley Longman, Inc., 2001

On my way to Vigan in a Partas bus, the Ilocano driver was in a company of fellow Ilocano conductors in front. Throughout the 9-hour trip, they were engaged in a conversation in their native language, Ilokano. Seated in front, I could follow the context of their conversation having been exposed to the language in my stay in Region 2. There were a number of points I could not understand because of my shallow vocabulary of the language.

I have a particular bias for the active use of a dialect or language in a day to day conversation as I believe its use is key to the preservation of culture and a unique heritage.

In Vigan at Plaza Salcedo, I was pleased to hear Ilocano spoken proudly by most; at the fast food chain, at the plaza, in the church in a conversation with a tricycle driver, with a market vendor.

Against the preserved structures of Vigan’s cobbled streets, buildings, churches and public centers, I better understood why Vigan preserved its character and maintained its authenticity. It may have been driven by the proud use of the language which is tied in to its rich century old culture  passed on from generation to generation.

Thus in my conversation with the restaurant staff, the supermarket vendor, tricycle driver, I attempt to speak though in an awkward manner Ilocano. “Diak nalaing iti Ilocano.” They understood my thoughts. I was corrected. My vocabulary increased and syntax improved.

More than the facility of using the language for communication, he and I knew we are connected sharing a common culture in a shared region, island, country, continent.

“Wen manong, agkakabsat ta!” At that instant, I was at home in Ilocos Sur.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Solved by a Hotline Agent

I booked a flight over Cebu Pacific’s online facilities last 12 July and failed to pass the stringent credit card verification protocol.

Booking now requires posting a verification code which I did not correctly provide as the 3 digit numbers in my card were not that legible.

Fortunately, there is a voice hotline that provides assistance to troubled users. Without waiting for long which is common to customer service hotlines in the Philippines, Tyrone patiently assisted me with my transaction shifting from a self-service credit card entry to a manual posting. He offered to book, check credit entry and confirm my flight details.

Through his guidance, I was able to book a seat flying early morning the next day.

He missed out though on one item which can be partly attributed to me. One of my email address letters may have been interchanged failing to send my ticket details. But I got the code verbally which allowed my successful self-service check in at the NAIA Terminal 3 next day.

The Filipino consumer is not totally helpless. Thanks to the increasing consciousness to treating the customers as king. That particular instance, Tyrone and Cebu Pac surely delighted me.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Nepa Q Mart

Why would one shop at a public market in Quezon City which has a wet and dry market that does not offer the convenience of a hypermart modern shoppers are comfortable with?

It is bounded by informal settlers at the East side (K-H connecting to Cambridge in a bridge) and at the South side (portion of Ermin Garcia st. at Barangay Pinagkaisahan.)

Limited street parking is hotly competed by large delivery trucks, private vehicles, trikes with delivery side cars every minute particularly early in the morning.

The narrow and uneven pedestrian walkway at the complex is shared with vendors, delivery aides pushing all sorts of carts, shoppers of all ages across all income group and mendicants restricting mobility.

Payment is of course cash. There are no carts on loan to the shoppers. One has to bring his own.
There is something about this National Economic Protectionism Association (NEPA) Q Mart that attracts thousands of shoppers every day not only from Quezon City but from other nearby Metro Manila cities as well.

It is a complete market. Fruits from Mindanao, Bicol and the provinces of Quezon, Bulacan, Pangasinan are dropped in commercial quantities from the transporting vehicles loaded at source at different times of the day. The best and the freshest of suha, avocado, guyabano, mango, bananas all varieties (saba, lacatan, latundan), papaya, indian mango, naranghita, pineapple, watermelon are always available for the picking to the discriminating fruit lover. When in season, jeepneys loaded with naranghita from Vizcaya and Quezon park at Ermin Garcia st. selling them in 5 kilo packs at P10.0 per kilo.

Nepa Q also has a wide section of vegetables sourced from North and South Luzon. When media reports on vegetable prices, Nepa Q has already been the barometer of the lowest price in Metro Manila.

Quezon City – Tumaas ng P10 hanggang P30 ang presyo ng manok at isda sa nepa Q-Mart sa Quezon City.
Mula sa dating P140 kada kilo, nasa P150 na ngayon ang presyo ng bawat kilo ng manok.
Ang bangus naman na medium size ay P120 na ang kilo at P150 naman ang malalaki, na mas mataas kumpara sa P100 to P120 lamang dati ang kada kilo.
P60 hanggang P70 ang bawat kilo ng sibuyas, ang bawang ay P120 hanggang P150 ang bawat kilo at ang kamatis ay P40 ang bawat kilo.
Sa presyo naman ng gulay, ang patatas ay mabibili ng P60 bawat kilo, ang petchay P70, ang reployo naman ay P60 habang ang luya ay mabibili sa halagang P60 kada kilo.

Undoubtedly, the prices are among the lowest in Metro Manila but one must have an established suki connection to ensure a good buy.

Nepa Q is popular for fresh water fish like bangus from Dagupan, hipon, tilapia, dalag, hito. Variety of fish is available but early in the morning including sea water fish. There is a small stall towards the middle which sells alimasag from Bicol at P420 per kilo. All day, there is a supply of tuna, salmon and bangus. Towards the EDSA side, a large portion of the complex is devoted to fresh meats and poultry. At the back of Ermin Garcia street, live goats are kept. For the kambing, tuna and salmon, Nepa Q is drinkers’ preferred market.

There are still other unexplored sections still to be discovered. Recently, I spotted where to source balut, pulang itlog, crushed ice, charcoal, puto, kutsinta. To complete the shopping, Super 8 opened a branch at the back of the complex open from 5:30 AM to 9:00 PM accepting storage for fresh market purchased bags and credit cards.

For all the inconvenience, Nepa Q to me offers a good value for money. It takes getting used to appreciate what it has. The true test is when diners appreciate what is served at the table.

More than what the market features, I shop because I want to patronize the produce of the tillers of the soil and the lords of the sea. I have a soft spot for farmers, fisherman and those close to the soil and bodies of water. Marginalized, but what they produce is what makes us alive.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Separate Islands. One Link

Traveling to Mindoro, Romblon, Masbate, Marinduque, Palawan via Roro, 2Go, Fastcat, Oceanjet, Montenegro, Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, Jam, 5 Star reminded me of the Ivatan story.

Islands maybe separated but are linked.
The accessibility from the landlocked mainland though has not greatly altered the resident's unique culture. Theirs are still well preserved.

When visitors from Luzon step foot in Mi(ndoro), Ma(rinduque), Ro(mblon), Pa(lawan), they are warmly welcomed making the guests feel so at home.

When asked if they have prospects of going to the city, they said they would rather live a simpler life. If ever they go, they'd be raring to return back to their island soonest.

Masbate City, the capital of the province of Masbate is a 4th class component city.  Odiongan is a first-class, partially urban municipality in the province of Romblon, Philippines. It is a major port, commercial center and the largest municipality of Romblon in terms of population and income. Calapan is the capital of the province of Oriental Mindoro, Philippines. It is the gateway to the Oriental Mindoro province and the center of commerce, industry, transport, communication, religious activities and education in the entire province of Oriental Mindoro. Boac is the capital of Marinduque. Marinduque is an island province in the Philippines located in Southwestern Tagalog Region. Palawan is the largest province in the country. It capital Puerto Princesa City is the city is the second largest geographically city in the Philippines.

Romblon, birthplace to writers Jose Dalisay and NVM

On board Cebu Pacific to Masbate City, I read in Smile, Cebu Pac’s in flight magazine June 2017 edition an article of Jose Dalisay, a prolific literary author and a columnist at Philippine Star. In his article “Some enchanted island” he wrote about his shared birth province with fellow writer NVM, a Filipino novelist, short story writer, essayist and poet and a Philippine National Artist for Literature. I quote how the island’s fertile ground seeded their literary imagination. 

“NVM and I were separated by almost 40 years and by the Tablas Strait – he was born in the capital town, and I in Alcantara, on the bigger island of Tablas. (Romblon’s three main islands are Romblon, Tablas and Sibuyan.) He moved with his family to Mindoro as a boy, and I moved with mine to Manila, but we both shared a sense of Romblon as the home of our enchantment, of our literary imagination. Indeed Romblon is that kind of island in the mind and spirit that we all wish could return to, and the accident of my birth there, once seen as an oddity or an impairment to one’ social mobility, is now something I cherish as a privilege, as NVM did and build a life’s literary labors on.”

The article encouraged me to write a short travelogue on the islands I visited posted in this blog.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

10 Thoughts on Baler in Aurora

No wall separates Costa Pacifica
from the shoreline
The rising sun past 5AM from Sabang 
Resort towards the Old Lighthouse area near Ermita
  1. Boundaries are respected without restrictions. No barbed wires to differentiate the passersby from the guests. One is free to roam anytime of the day, from dawn to dusk.
  2. No over regulations. Motor bikers are free to travel without helmets.
  3. No traders’ abuse. Prices are relatively fair. Tapsilog is at P65.0. Surfing lesson for an hour with surfers’ board and lessons in land and in sea at P350.0. Salmon head is at P 120.0 per kilo. At P500.0 one can sleep in an air-conditioned room with wifi and free parking.
    Beer @P26 at a
    discovered source
  4. Transfer of skill is evident. Most baler surfer boys teach mounting, balancing and dismounting in the sand and in the sea.
  5. Most street pedestrians still give accurate directions to destinations. “Kanan po sa pangatlong kanto . . .(Turn right at the 3rd corner . . .)” Residents are naturally courteous. Baler is a 6-hour ride from Manila, 3 hours on flat land, 3 hours cutting through the mountain range.
    Associates documenting the
    1st of the 2 falls.
    2nd fall requires river crossing
  6. It is a safe place. Police back up the volunteer tanods (safety officers) who man the intersections.
  7. Suman, a rice based delicacy is a staple food.
  8. Baler is a walking town, landmarks and essential destinations are within reach. Facilities for the urban travelers are available i.e. ATM, gas station, Mercury Drug, central bus terminal, high end resorts, basic huts, drinking water, cell loads. In minutes you are back at the beach.
    Baler Boys teaching surfing skills
  9. Natural spring water is in abundance. The sea is incessantly noisy and restless all day particularly in the late evening. River water flows out to the sea.
    No catch for the day.
    Relying on Malabon deliveries for supply
  10. There is stillness in nature. Nature is respected, except for some vandalism and garbage. But majority practice the value of cleanliness.
    Mangrove at the town proper