Monday, December 08, 2014

Terraces in the Farm

Building new stone terraces or expanding the existing ones is my hobby when I go to the farm in Bugallon, Pangasinan. It's called the Millora farm, an agro-forestry project. Below, terraces near my treehouse, photos taken March 2014.


Below, photos taken last July 2014. This area is also near my treehouse.


Here, photos taken in August 2014.


Below, photos taken last October. Before and after clearing the grasses, raising the height of the terrace.


Another before and after shots, taken only last month.

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See also:

Trees in our Farm, Bugallon, Pangasinan, September 07, 2012

Trees in Our Farm, Part 2, February 16, 2013

My Treehouse in the Farm, Bugallon, Pangasinan, April 11, 2014

Bien and her Best Friend Allyson

Bien Mary has moved to her new school, The School for Academics and Arts (TSAA) last November, from her  old school, Kids Playlab Preschool (KPLP), both are not far from our apartment. At KPLP, Bien has her favorite and  best friend, Allyson Villanueva. Below, with Teacher Kayla and Allyson, at one of the special events of the school, September 2014.


Below, Allyson, Julia and Bien; lower photo, with Issa and Allyson, sometime in March 2014.


When Bien moved to her new school, she resisted in  the first few days, she wanted to go to her old school because Allyson is there. When I talked to some  KPLP staff and Joyce, Allyson's mom, they said that Allyson was sad that Bien is no longer in their school, and would look for Bien from time to time.

Last November 23, 2014, Allyson held her 4th birthday party at KPLP.  Teacher Kayla and Joyce informed me and my wife about it days before. Bien would surprise Allyson with her presence. My wife bought a gift for her and the night before, Bien was very excited to give a gift to  her best friend the  next day.

On her birthday, while the kids were already eating their favorite Jollibee meal, Bien came with her gift. They were both excited and shy -- look at their eyes below. Seems they could not believe that they are seeing each  other again, hahaha. Then Bien sat beside her for the meal, see again their eyes :-)


I left Bien at the party. When it was dismissal time, Allyson's two grandmothers and Joyce told me that Allyson was a bit shy in her party. When Bien came, things turned around 180 degrees, she became jolly, happy and excited. Until the party ended.

Outside the school, Bien and Allyson  did what they were doing after class -- running outside and playing around. They can run for 15 minutes or more, until we have to  leave and I needed to pick up Elle at the other school.


The two girls need to see each other again.
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See also:Bien Mary's Moving up Day, April 05, 2014

Elle and Bien at Camp John Hay, Baguio City, June 29, 2014

Saturday, November 29, 2014

My Agriculture Seminar in Sweden, 2003

On September to mid-October 2003, I participated in an international training seminar, "Sustainable Agriculture in an Environmental Perspective" sponsored by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA). I was one of about 23 participants from about 16 countries.

Among the things that awed me in Sweden agriculture (or European agri in general), was the use of huge machineries. They have wide lands but small population and wages are very high. It is more economical to use lots of machines than people in the various phases of farm preparation, crops planting, monitoring, harvesting and hauling.

Like this huge truck, I think it is a harvester and drier at the same time. We visited a farm with about 2,200 hectares of land planted to various crops, mostly wheat and potato, and they have only about 18 workers. Even the farm owner drives one of the tractors or other heavy machineries.


Tne farmers there hardly touch the soil, the machines and tractors are reliable workers for them.



A huge tractor pulling a seed planter. Computers equally distribute the seeds dropped or planted by this red container at the back. With Trung Nguyen from Vietnam and Peter Kiyonga from Uganda.


There are also "moonlight farmers" or part-time farmers. These are people who have regular office work at day time, and they do farming when they come home, say from 6-10pm during summer. A part time farmer can be tilling around 30 hectares on average.

A tractor from a part time farmer. Usually each part time farmer has one house, one big warehouse where the harvests, some small tractors, are housed. Here with Tony Cudjoe from Ghana.


We also have few tours aside from farm visits. Below from left, standing: An (Vietnam), Orasa (Thailand), Emile (Burundi), Ani (Indonesia), Inger Ahman, seminar director (Sweden), Dorothy (Uganda), from Sri Lanka (forgot her name), Josie (also from the Philippines), Hugo (Venezuela), Nahid (Morocco), Gunasinghe (Sri Lanka). Also sitting was Jhansi (India).


One of the beautiful gardens that we visited.


Please disregard the date in the pictures. It's not 1987 but 2003. I don't remember whose camera was used in these photos.


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See also:

Denmark, Netherlands, Germany, Oct. 2003, November 21, 2005

Bavarian Mountain, Germany, March 07, 2012

Beil Family, Miesbach, Germany, December 25, 2012

Gummersbach, Germany, Part 2, October 13, 2013


Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Link's Fresh Market, Hong Kong

Fresh food is among the foundations of good health of the people. The more fresh the food, the more nutritious it is. And it's good if fresh food is also more affordable to more people.

Last week, on our last day (November 08) in Hong Kong after attending the Economic Freedom Network (EFN) Asia Conference, November 6-7, 2014, a friend Simon Lee, organized a "fresh market tour" for interested EFN conference participants. It was a short, 1 1/2 hour tour.

Simon and his two staff, Lisa and Paul, brought us to Lok Fu fresh market in Kowloon.

It was not a supermarket inside a big mall. Rather, just an open space on the ground floor of a ahigh-rise HK government housing. As these two pictures show, the vegetables are fresh, they did not look like they came from a freezer, unsold items the previous day/s.

Upon arriving at the site, Simon turned over the briefing to  Myron, a sharp, articulate, bright man who is an officer of The Link, the owner and administrator of the Luk Fo fresh market.

Below, our team. Simon Lee standing on left most, Myron is 3rd from right, with a portable microphone. More should have joined but our departure from the hotel was delayed by almost one hour because the bus that would pick us from our hotel somehow went to another location.


Myron quickly started the briefing. His English is good and fluent. The place is very clean. No foul smell whatsoever, something that is familiar in public markets, non-mall supermarkets in the Philippines

This shop of dried food is cool. Neat and clean and only one person manages the whole store.

The fresh seafood  section. The floor is not wet, no mud or scattered fish body parts.
Crabs, seashells, other crustaceans. Some of those sea creatures I don't see in Philippine seafood markets. I would assume that some of these products are grown via aquaculture and not caught in the open sea.

Wow, those huge sea cucumber-looking creatures, I don't know their name. Although I am from a coastal city of Negros island in the Philippines and fishing is the main industry there, I don't see these products, nor in Manila's seafood markets.

This is cool. I don't know what it is though.

More live crabs and lobsters.

Prawns, shrimps, seashells, cool.

Karthik Chandra from India, a fellow conference participant, was also amazed at the sights of fresh seafood that greeted us that day.
Another friend, Lorenzo Montanari from the Americans for Tax Reforms (ATR) in Washington DC seemed awed by the variety of these live sea creatures sold at affordable prices.

Then we sat on this simple row of tables where Myron gave more discussions, and we asked more questions. Some food samples, tea and red wine were also served us. Yummy and  nice.

Then Myron bid ba-bye and Simon took over and continued the mini-lecture. Then we went to a nearby shopping mall, also owned by The Link. Then we headed back to the hotel in HK island.

Thanks again for that short but great tour, Simon, Lisa and Paul.

Thanks also to The Link's friendly staff, Myron, Kevin and Acky. Nick Sallnow-Smith, The Link Chairman, knows well how to choose his own people.

* See also a public market in Cadiz City, Negros Occidental.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Harbour Grand Hong Kong, Part 3

This is my second stay in this hotel. Last year, I stayed here for two days during a Reading Club Salon 2013  sponsored by the Lion Rock Institute (LRI). This year, I will stay here for 6D/5N starting today. I will attend three different seminars/conference, tomorrow until Friday, same hotel.

My room, nice and big. I should stay in an ordinary room for one person but my family will join me tomorrow. 


My working table on the right is long, nice. I must read two hard-copy books plus several reports and an e-book, related to the two seminar-worskhop in the next two days.


The bathroom with glass divider. I like this set up.


Seen from my room in the 15th floor. The IFC and other buildings on HK island, and Victoria Harbour. It was cloudy when I arrived today. When our plane landed at HK airport past 10am, the pilot said outside temperature was 21 C. Cold compared to Manila of course. It should be around 28-29 C in Manila around that time.


The swimming pool on the 3rd floor, seen from my room.


Last year, this was my room. Huge bed and a lean work table.


Ok, back to work. Have many papers to read and blog later.
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See also:

Harbour Grand Hong Kong, October 18, 2013

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Harbour Grand Hong Kong, Part 2

Next week, I will stay in this hotel for six days and five nights to attend three different events sponsored by three different independent, network organizations. I stayed in this hotel for 2 nights last year during the  Reading Club Salon 2013  sponsored by the Lion Rock Institute (LRI).


It is a five star hotel and its main attraction is that it is facing Victoria Harbour, but inside, it has many beautiful facilities. Below, elevator area near the lobby. That's our friend Barun Mitra from Delhi, India in the photo.


The famous long and spacious swimming pool facing the  Harbour. It's on the 3rd floor, adjacent to the main restaurant.


Buffet breakfast resto. Lots of food to  choose.


Our friend, Feng Xingyuan from Beijing, China.


I like this  chandelier outside this big resto.


The hallway leading to my room. I  don't remember which floor I stayed but it is overlooking the  Harbour.


 Some of the skyscrapers in Hong Kong island and part of Vicctoria Harbour, as seen from the resto.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Elle Marie's Halloween Party and Bazaar at TSAA

The School of Academics and Arts (TSAA), Elle Marie's school, held a Halloween-Bazaar party last Friday, October 24. True to its name, the event's concept and design is very artistic and students-friendly. All photos here from my wife's camera and the school's fb page. I was not there, I was watching Bien Mary in their school presentation in another venue.


Elle with her four other girls classmates in Grade School, plus the school Directress, Ms. Cherry Fernandez-Napala.


The five girls once more. They have a playdate at Happy's house after the educational trip at a garden in Taytay, Rizal the previous week.


A dance number from the Grade Schoolers.


With Weng Sandicon, Happy's mom.


The bazaar, part of Entrepreneurship education of the students. They themselves made these products -- notebooks, bracelets, fun jars --  and sold these to their parents, grandparents, yayas, other guests. Nice.



Elle doing her part in one of the class presentations.



The younger ones, the Kinders, also showed their talents.


Thanks TSAA, especially Grade School Teachers Fran and LJ, for their good work.
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See also:
Elle Marie is 7, Bien Mary is 3, October 06, 2013

Elle Marie and Bien Mary, December 2013, January 12, 2014