Friday, April 11, 2014

My Treehouse in the Farm, Bugallon, Pangasinan

My treehouse, built around March 2004 or 10 years ago, has experienced a major facelift last month. Here is how it looks now, when I visited the farm two weeks ago.

And how it looked as of February 2014. The old cogon roof on the second floor facing the rice field has been replaced by iron sheets.

The slatted bamboo floor have been replaced with wood, from slabs of big mahogany trees that were harvested two months ago. Now, view from below, from another side of the house.

The extension on the left side of the second floor.

And the extension on the right side.

The slatted bamboo as flooring has been replaced by wood, about 1/3 x 4 inches, from mahogany slabs. Note new branches and leaves sprouting out of the trunk.

Another view of the new flooring on the second floor.

View of the rice field from the second floor.

The extension on the ground floor.

Before: old and decaying slabs behind our rotary club banner during my term as Club President, RY 2006-07.


The toilet on the ground floor.

Thanks to Sid, our carpenter for seven days. He was assisted by our caretakers Nong Endring and Danny Paragas, and Boknoy.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Higher PH Tourism with US FAA and EU Decisions to Allow More PH Carriers

Today, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted a Category 1 rating to the Philippines for its compliance with international safety standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). This means that Philippines’ air carriers can add flights and service to the US and carry the code of U.S. carriers. Good news.

A friend, Coco Alcuaz made this timeline in his fb posting today: 

US FAA lifts ban on PH, allowing PAL to add flights, Cebu Pac to start. Cebu Pac also due to get EU approval tonight. Here's a history: 
1998 Philippine Airlines ends flights to EuropeJan. 2008 U.S. FAA downgrades PH to Category 2 (no new flights)March 2010 EU bans all PH carriersJuly 2013 EU lifts ban on Philippine Airlines (PAL)Oct. 2013 Cebu Pacific starts first long-haul flight (Dubai)Nov. 2013 PAL starts flights to LondonToday FAA restores PH to Category 1Later today EU expected to lift ban on Cebu Pac

This move by the FAA is consistent with the US government's more liberal granting of US visa to PH citizens. The US government wants more rich and middle class Filipinos to go to the US and spend money there, help improve business confidence. If more Filipino travelers are prevented from going to the US by denying them entry visa, these Filipinos will simply go to Europe or other Asian countries and spend their money there. 

Hours after the FAA announcement, the EU in Brussels also announced that it has cleared Cebu Pacific to fly to European air space.

Many people here welcomed this development positively. And rightly so because of the huge new business opportunities that will be opened, especially in tourism, trade and investment.

More competition among more airlines flying PH-US and PH-EU would mean lower fares, better services. Bad service and/or high fares by one airline will turn off passengers and buy their tickets for their next flight with another airline. 

Passengers and visitors are the main beneficiaries of more competition. Investors and traders will also be encouraged to fly in and out if there are more airlines to choose.

See also: 

World Airports 2: Most Hated, CNN list, December 01, 2011 

World Airports 1: Most Loved, CNN list, December 01, 2011

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Crowded Puerto Princesa Airport, Palawan

Last time I was at PP airport was 2013, and it is indeed small, cramped, crowded, hot, in relation to the big number of passengers. Below were posted by a friend, JB Baylon, in his facebook wall. JB regularly flies Manila-Puerto Princesa-Manila (sometimes, Manila-Rio Tuba-Manila, on a private jet). Well said, not much to add.

March 29, 2014


Scenes from the PPS airport, Puerto Princesa tonight...there were about four planeloads of passengers sweating in the sauna like atmosphere of the departure area of terminal....But wait: each passenger pays P100; there are about 3,000 passengers a day, 30 days in a month...Where does all that money go? CAAP? DoTC? Is someone fooling around with the funds, because we passengers sure feel someone is fooling around with us! Or maybe some idiot from CAAP or DoTC wants us to feel we are truly on a tropical island in a tropical country by making us sweat even as we depart Puerto Princesa? FIRE SOMEBODY!

The additional problem is that our government functionaries use VIP lounges and are given special treatment that takes them through an experience far different than the one the regular Joe goes through. Vaclav Havel spoke of the dangers of these as he himself experienced as President of the Czech Republic... Someone should get fired.

April 4, 2014


Dear Mr. President, Secretary Jimenez, Secretary Abaya: 

Facebook is once again getting filled up with horror stories of travellers going through hell, especially at our airports, including the airport complex that we have decided to name after Your Excellency's father -- and which now ranks among one of the worst in the world. Yet, at the same time, we go to town telling the world to come over because it is more fun in the Philippines. Can't we get our act together on this one? In Puerto Princesa alone, I figure that about 2500 passengers exit PPS daily, each paying P100 as terminal fee. Multiply that and you get P250,000 for the day, times 30 days x 12 months and....the air-conditioning fails right before summer while the Xray machines conk out! Where does the money go? And that's only PPS, Mr. President, Messrs. Secretary. Then again maybe you don't notice this because, well, you don;t go through the process we ordinary mortals go through: security check, baggage inspection, check-in queues, terminal fee payments and then the sometimes never ending wait in the waiting rooms that are steaming hot not only because it is summer but because 1) the cooling systems conk out and 2) flights are delayed so 3) there are more people in the area than it was built to serve! And no one has been fired yet?

Frankly, I am stunned that no swifter action has been taken to remake our international airport into one that would bring honour to the man for whom it is if no one cares! As I have said before, were I President with an airport named after my father that would rank among the worst in the world, some people would go missing the next day and the next day and the day after until I find an airport administrator who knows how to get the job done. In your case Your Excellency, being far more gentle than I am, you could just fire them, couldn't you? But why haven't you? What -- or who -- is stopping you?

We want more tourists but our infra is shot. We want more flights but delays are unbelievable because our infra is shot. We project travel here to be fun but our own locals are cursing travel to high heavens because our infra is shot. Ok, let's not shoot anyone anymore but can you at least fire someone?

Or do you want us, the Filipino people, to be the ones to do the dismissing ourselves?

By the way, that is not a threat but feel free to read it that way if it so pleases you.

See also Palawan Tour, by Patty Soliman, October 19, 2012

Bien Mary's Moving Up Day, March 2014

Bien Mary moved up from Nursery 1 of Kids Play Lab School, the "graduation" ceremony was held last March 22, 2014, Saturday at St. Paul complex, not far from our house. A photo from their souvenir yearbook. This was taken January or February this year.

From nursery 1, nursery 2, kinder 1 and kinder 2, combined during a group singing and dance.

The nursery 1, morning and afternoon classes, performed their own presentation..

From left: Issa, Bien, Alysson, Teacher Kyla, Julia.

Bien is close to Alysson, below. Also to Issa.

Elle Marie came from her own swimming class "graduation" swim and party, then I brought her to Bien's event.

When almost everyone has a camera... Parents, grandparents, older siblings, titos/titas, yayas...

They were practicing their dance and song for several days. At the roofdeck of YMCA Makati, two days before the event.

Bien is eager to attend her Nursery 2 classes this coming June.

See also:
Bien Mary Oplas, July 31, 2012.
Bien Mary Oplas, Part 2, May 27, 2013

Life Without a House Helper

It is more than six months now that we do not have a house helper. Life is rather hard for me. My wife goes to her office 5-6 days a week so I am the one watching the two girls almost everyday, especially on days where she leaves around 7am and come back past 7pm. There are days that she comes home after lunch and I am relieved.

My wife's auntie helps us two days a week, usually Mondays and Wednesdays. She comes before 7am and leaves around 2pm. This frees me to do some work or some errands. After 2pm until evening, have to watch the girls. While they are cute and pretty, they tend to fight often; or do drawings, play with their dolls and other toys, and scatter things later.

Our last helper, the 5th from my province in Negros Occidental, left without permission, brought out nothing, after being scolded by wifey. Since late 2006 to September 2013, we've had about 13 helpers. At least two of them stayed only for two days, another two stayed for about two weeks.

I asked my wife to find a helper as she did not like all of our past helpers. She said she cannot find one. I wanted to go to a recruitment agency but I am wary to get a stranger and leave the two young girls with her. A friend hired a nanny from a recruitment agency. On the 2nd day of her stay, the nanny stole many things from her house, jewelries, laptop, other valuables, and ran away. She is angry of course, but only comforted with the thought that at least her daughter, same age as Elle Marie, was not kidnapped. Some helpers and nannies are members of kidnap for ransom gangs. This scares me to leave our two girls, Bien Mary 3+ years old, and Elle Marie 7+ yo, with a helper that we do not know well.

Before I would work at the office. If my wife would come at 7pm, then I will go to office at 8pm and work until around 3 or 4am and go home. If she arrives at 2pm, then I can start working earlier. Since about two months ago, my wife got a Globe tatoo internet. This made things more comfortable for me.

Still, I have to do the usual house work, like washing the dishes (wife cooks early in the morning for breakfast-lunch), do some laundry, dry the clothes, fold them after drying. I don't iron my clothes. Have to dry and fold them well. Those that look crumled and not neat, I wear a jacket or coat. Anyway I seldom go out, mainly to attend seminars, conferences, some reunions with friends, or some rotary meetings.

With no classes, I drive the girls to a park 2-3x a week. I tell Elle that she must have strong legs for her PE classes in school, so she runs in the park. Not far, maybe about 100 meters, rest, then another run, then whatever she likes doing -- ride the swing, slide, see saw; or simply play with the sand.

My work suffers of course. Although I blame my bad time management habit mainly for this, the absence of a helper also contributes. Feeding the kids as they do not eat well on their own, watching them that they do not fight too often, or that they do not scatter things too often, or simply watching the younger one that she does not fall down if she climbs up or goes down the stairs from our bedroom in the second floor. Or helping her go to the toilet, or take a bath properly. She also wants me to read her some small/thin books.

I am more than half century old and I still do daily household chores, things that used to be done by our helper. I am not happy of course but have to adjust to this reality....

See also:
Elle Marie and Bien Mary, Part 2, July 14, 2013

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Roxas Boulevard and Manila Bay

Roxas Boulevard in Manila is famous because of a nice view of the sunset over Manila Bay everyday. I got the first 3 photos from the fb wall of Dr. Aileen Baviera, an academic from UP, posted today. Nice views from a chopper.

The Manila Yacht Club. Eileen was riding the 2nd chopper of the Philippine Navy.

The Navy headquarters at Manila Bay. It's small, and I think it's ugly too, compared to the many structures and buildings along the boulevard facing Manila Bay. There is a plan to lease or privatize this area, good move. The Navy can have a big space in Cavite, say at Sangley Point. Government can use the money, privatization proceeds, to modernize the AFP without raising taxes.

The 3 photos I took last August 26, 2013. I was on top of a pedestrian overpass at Roxas Blvd., not far from Luneta.

Nice, cool, windy day at Manila Bay.

There was a typhoon a few days before that, the waves brought tons of debris and solid wastes from the coastal areas of Cavite and Bataan. Some people are able to get some valuable things from those solid waste.

See also, Philippine International Convention Center, December 18, 2012

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Mt. Pulag Climb, January 2014

We climbed Mt. Pulag, the Philippines' 2nd highest mountain at 2,922 meters above sea level, last January 31, descended February 01, 2014. Same group, Congress Mountaineers, we first climbed the mountain in January 1994 or exactly 20 years ago. This time, some of us brought their kids.

It was my 3rd climb in this mountain. 1st time in 1994 with same group, 2nd time in 2002 with NEDA group. Very clear that my legs, lungs and body are indeed older than the 1st and 2nd time I climbed it.

From Baguio City, before we reached the PAWB/DENR registration and seminar station, we passed by Ambuklao Dam, Benguet. This hydro-power plant is owned by SN-Aboitiz.

Among the "orig climbers" in January 1994. Iya Tiu, standing in orange shirt front row, was only 6 years old then. Now she is 26. How time flies...

The girls...

The boys...

The kids, second generation of climbers...

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Vhong Navarro Jokes

Here are some fun images after comedian Vhong Navarro was beaten by Cedric Lee and his gang, at a condo by Deniece Cornejo last week. Some jokes that circulated...

1: After Deniece gave Vhong oral sex, she french kissed Cedric. The latter got so angry with her smell, so he beat Vhong.

2. Deniece: Tara sa condo.
"Bulalo guy": May bulalo ba doon?

3. Hi Deniece, I am Denephew. :-)

Below is a typical Filipino joke.

And jeepney drivers/operators have their way too.

Soon a movie.

Some jokes have shifted away from Vhong, gravitating towards Cedric. A new case or reviving an old case, about his tax liabilities with the BIR. BIR Commissioner Kim Henares middle, boxer and Cong. Manny Pacquiao lower photo.

See also:

Fun Photos: Skylab Motorcycles, August 12, 2012

Ilongo ka gid Kon... July 18, 2013

Funny World Maps, January 11, 2014