Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Let's Help Save Lives

I'm at home again to Atcha.

I Thank God for the safe trip and a chance to be with my family again even just for the holidays. And for the past week since I arrived home, have never been busier during the Christmas shopping rush. Well, as on being thrifty as I ám now, I just bought gifts for my nephews and nieces.

And while people keep on buying gifts to family and friends, last 2 days, Mindanao area of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan are hit by typhoon Sendong that left houses, buildings and bridges destroyed, and 713 dead and 563 missing (latest update as of moment). Most of the victims are children, as the flash flood went through their houses and swept them with mud, big rocks and wooden logs. Its so heartbreaking to see people still searching for their missing loved-ones, though on the verge of losing hope to see their family member alive, at least recovering their remains for a decent burial.

For the moment, those who survived barely make it through after the disaster. Evacuation centers are filled up. Food, medicine and most of all, clean water for drinking are needed. You might have a spare money for the moment, please help.

Here are ways we can help (From PNRC website):

Cash or Check Donations

Please send cash or check donations to the PRC National Headquarters in Manila. Checks should be made payable to The Philippine Red Cross. We can also arrange for donation pick-up.

We now accept cash donations for the Philippine Red Cross at any 7-11 store or Cebuana Lhuillier Pawnshop nationwide.

Bank Deposit

Bank accounts for Donations
Banco De Oro
Peso: 00-453-0018647
Dollar: 10-453-0039482

Bank of the Philippine Islands
Peso: 4991-0036-52
Dollar: 004994-0103-15

Peso: 151-3-041631228
Dollar: 151-2-15100218-2

Philippine National Bank
Peso: 3752 8350 0034
Dollar: 3752 8350 0042

Unionbank of the Philippines
Peso: 1015 4000 0201
Dollar: 1315 4000 0090

All Check/Cash for the account of Philippine Red Cross (Swift Codes)
Banco De Oro

Bank of the Philippine Islands


Philippine National Bank

Unionbank of the Philippines

For your donations to be properly acknowledged, please fax the bank transaction slip at nos. +63.2.527.0575 or +63.2.404.0979 with your name, address and contact number.

SMS and G-Cash

Text REDAMOUNT to 2899 (Globe) or 4143 (Smart)


You can donate the following denominations:
Globe: 5, 25, 100, 300, 500 or 1000
Smart: 10, 25, 50, 100, 300, 500 or 1000

Through your generosity, we can stand prepared for disasters. We appreciate your continuous and unwavering support. Thank you.

Email us: fundgeneration@redcross.org.ph

Call Hotline 143
or (+632) 527.0000

Bonifacio Drive, Port Area
Manila 1018, Philippines
Email: prc@redcross.org.ph

I've postponed my getaway vacation and shopping for myself, and instead about to donate the money. Please do the same. We may not alleviate totally the way of living of the victims right away, but at least, to help them survive for days until such time they can rebuild their lives again and start anew...May God bless us all!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

24 Hour Hotline against Kotong

Its Christmas season. In the Philippines, this season starts as early as "BER" months start. Bonuses keep coming in for regular employees. Mall sales are sprouting everywhere. And so are the crocodiles on streets preying on helpless motorists to earn extra with their Kotong operations.

(photo credit from anti kotong fb page)

It is when you are driving peacefully on any time of the day, whilst on being a good motorist and seems when everything is ok since you followed all rules, when all of a sudden a crocodile in a blue uniform called your attention for violating a rule.Most of the time, victims are jeepney/taxi drivers whose mere income is just enough for a family of four, and with a boundary quota to meet. As you wouldn't want to get into the hassle of getting back your license at the LTO office, those crocodiles will just ask for some money to let you go. For such incidents, local agencies now launched an anti-bribery drive as you may send an SMS on their 24-hour hotline: 0918-8882749. You may want to send your details as anonymous as well.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

You can make your loved ones feel special by giving them unique experiences & memorable gifts #DealGrocer

You can make your loved ones feel special by giving them unique experiences & memorable gifts #DealGrocer

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Selamat Datang Indonesia: Bandung Kota

I have this love-hate relationship with Bandung, West Java's capital, a city 140 km away from Jakarta. Having stayed most of the time during my work in Indonesia, it is where Jakarta people go during weekends that traffic is so horrible starting from the toll entrance to anywhere. Here you find factory outlet shops, for brand-conscious people, its heaven. Last time I shopped for gifts when I had my break from work, I paid extra for my overweight baggage, so all the discounts I've saved gone into thin air! The climate is way better than hot Jakarta, scenery far more good, and my love for pork cuisine was never missed since the place I've stayed in had small canteens serving my favorite babi!

Going around Bandung, if by taxi, is a nightmare. Drivers don't use meters, they'll charge you for a crazy fee. On worst case you tneed a cab, negotiate on a rate first.If you can, use Angkutan Kota, as public mode of transportation, an open van. Say "Kiri" is when you want to stop, they are colored coded depending on the route, and having a fixed fee of 2000 Rp. On my day offs these are my usual hang outs in Bandung to give myself a reward for a hard week of workloads:

Paris Van Java Mall:
A refreshing mall, this one's my favorite among the malls I've been in Bandung. With high-end brands of shops, restaurants and cinema, you might like it here to spoil yourself once in awhile. I usually frequent the Breadtalk store and Pepper Steak restaurant. You can also your grocery as there is a Carrefour outlet at the basement of the mall.

This is an interior of Braga City Walk, located at the back of Aston hotel. It's a mall as well, but not much of shops here, mostly of restaurants at the ground floor. However, what makes me come back here often is whenever i crave for a quality and affordable seafood dishes, "The Cost" seafood restaurant is my most recommended, thumbs up for the service and so affordable dishes, ambiance is plain but clean plus you get unlimited servings of rice :).

Walking the street of Braga, you'll see unmaintained Dutch influence structures as remnants of its colonial past. Arrays of coffee shops and French & Dutch inspired bakeries could be found here, art collectors frequent this place for antiques and paintings by local artists. At night, the place is said to be lively as there are bars and clubs. I don't usually go out alone at night, as I'm more of looking through the cultural experience, I find Braga street as less of a heritage spot. Sayang...

Gedung Sate, a place for the current governor of West Java. Sate, is an Bahasa word for "satay", a traditional Indonesian dish, and the building was named after it was actually shaped in resemblance to it. This place is near my former office. At the park square nearby, events are celebrated often.

Selamat Datang Indonesia: Kawah Putih

As to fully maximize our last stay in West Java, E and me decided to rent a car to roam around. We headed next to Kawah Puti, a tourist spot of crater lake about 50 km south of Bandung. Temperature that time is low, that caused the acid lake to turn greenish blue. The smell of sulfur is strong when we arrived, and a pathway was made from the park to the crater entrance.

A note in the entrance to the crater, just that I wished it has an English translation for non-Bahasa speakers:

visit the crater center facility, max 15 minutes
if you have:
dry mouth or throat
dizziness and nausea

leave the area immediately and contact a health post

My shoe after i stepped into the lake, then covered with sulfur sand.

Shelters are built near the lake, but since we cant stand much the smell of the sulfur that we left the area in less than an hour after taking some shots. More stores and restaurants could be found near the entrance gate.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Selamat Datang Indonesia - Mendut monastery and temple

After the Borobodur tour, we headed next to Mendut Monastery, about 3 kilometers away from the temple. A small, well-maintained monastery next to Candi Mendut, a ninth century Buddhist temple, believed to be built earlier than Borobodur itself. Outside the monastery are souvenir shops selling shirts, statues and the likes. It was said that the monastery was strictly for Buddhists only, but they opened recently to all people in seek of path to enlightenment.

Inside the monastery I noticed this angel-like statue in praying position, adorned with fresh flowers. The place is of calm atmosphere.

A lying Buddha in sleeping position, I wondered what is in beneath those sheets but I didn't dare to peek inside it. Who the other statue with Halo could be? No other visitors around when we arrived in the monastery.

Lions never inhabitant Java islands before. And so, it was said that artists of this lion statue actually have never seen a lion before, answering my question of how come it looked more of a monkey to me.

A Buddha sculpture. We are told that Buddha had reincarnated into so many forms of life before reaching enlightenment. Was then he reincarnated into a She as well?

Past the monastery is the Candi Mendut. A temple smaller than Borobodur, but believed to be older. Buddhists frequently visits the temple in celebration of the Waisak day every May full moon. This is inside the temple, with 3 big statues namely: Cakyamuni, Awalokiteswara, and Maitreya. There are stories for children in the walls.

Me in front of the temple. Thank goodness for the nice weather during our visit! =)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Selamat Datang Indonesia: Prambanan - temples of Love

Another spot tagged by UNESCO World Heritage Site, Candi Prambanan, is considered the largest Hindu Temple in Indonesia and most beautiful in SouthEast Asia. It was a 9th century temple complex in dedication to the 3 Hindu Gods namely: the creator (Brahma), the sustainer (Vishnu) and the Destroyer (Shiva).Its located within the boundary between Yogyakarta and Central Java.

(At the park entrance to the temple complex)

(Inside the complex, one of the main temples)

Surrounding the big temples are smaller ones, but in wreck stages perhaps by previous earthquakes and time. Local legends explains why such numerous temples were built was because of a beautiful princess named Loro Jonggrang was asked to be married by a prince. But the princess only made a condition that a marriage will take place when a thousand temple could be build within a night. Only 999 was done, and with betrayal, revenge and curse that follows, the princess turned into the last and most beautiful stone statue.

We're blessed of blue skies and good climate that shots were taken good, courtesy again of super travel buddy E =). I won't write much and let the pictures amaze you like it did to me. Such splendor and majestic on what turned into from previously bare stones, what can faith do.

Just on how complicated to built a single temple during those times, with no sophisticated tools to use, people managed to think of ways to have the stones attached to each other just like building a big puzzle.

Sample carvings on the temple walls, this depicts of wife superiority over the husband (well, as what our guide told us so.)

A god statue in one of the main temple.

We couldn't complain of the hot weather that time as the sky is clear and good for photos :). Thanks E for the shots.

We haven't got to meet the Slender Virgin statue Loro Jonggrang as its closed for restoration during our visit, the maiden that was said had launched a thousand temples. :(

Again, if you are on a budget I don't recommend DYI tour in Yogyakarta, as getting into one place to another is quite difficult on public transportation and the distances between them as well. You can join budget tours by quoting fees on travel agents along Malioboro avenue.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Selamat Datang Indonesia : Borobodur

Just before leaving Indonesia last August, friend E and I decided to go west of Java for a cultural tour. Indonesia as the biggest archipelago of 13000 islands, we're pretty much aware that our 5 day itinerary tour isn't enough, so we just went to some spots where we think what Indonesia is famous for backpackers - and its not Bali you mind, its Yogyakarta (pronounced Jog-jah-karta).

A day after E arrived in Bandung, we left 630am from my kost to catch 8am train schedule. I only managed to get executive train tickets (non AC), since August 1 is the start of Ramadhan, that even business class tickets going to Yogyakarta are sold out, as most people come home for a reunion with their families before the whole month of fasting. Trip took about more than 8 hours.

We arrived Yogyakarta past 3pm, first hunted a padang resto for a late lunch. And like our Cambodia tour, we didnt booked an agent for the travel prior leaving, so after a serving of rice , stir-fried vegetables and chicken, we looked for an agent for the tour. We found one in the station, for a fee of 500K Rp, we had a car & driver for our a day tour around.

(*Left photo from Grage Hotel website)

I read from other blogs, travellng in Indonesia is cheaper when you book for a tour, compared to DYI. As soon as we booked a tour for the next day, we looked for a hotel...Yes, we didnt have any, and going through the streets of Malioboro and backpackers'street of Gang I & Gang II in Jalan Sosrowijayan on which unfortunately that time are all fully booked! Tired from travel, we got enough of being thrifty and booked instead in Grage Ramayana Hotel (400K Rp per night for 2 for superior room).

We never regret this choice as our room looks homey, clean, and comfortable. Also, if you have extra money to spare for comfort, I highly recommend this hotel. Even though buffet breakfast starts at 630am, they managed to have our packed food of nasi goreng & coffee the next day when we left for the tour at 6am.

For our first stop, Candi Borobodur (Candi means temple). Its a 9th century Buddhist temple of 6 square platforms topped by 3 circular platforms of 504 buddha statues. It was regarded by UNESCO as a world heritage site, and still used a pilgrimage once a year by Buddhists and called it Vesak. We paid 135K Rp for the entrance fee, and hired a guide for 75K Rp (english speaker).

(View of Candi Borobodur during sunrise.)

Carves on the wall marks Buddha's reincarnation of various types from a cow to king until he reached enlightenment. Of good deeds and musings of life he regarded as not the way its depicted in the old religion of Hinduism he grew up with. Its on knowing how to live on needs and not wants, freeing up on worldly desires that you can appreciate life and begin living.

Just one thing I noticed on some Buddha statues are headless. We are told few years ago that thieves cut them, smuggled and auctioned abroad for a fortune to collectors.=(

An Ogoh-ogoh monster head at entrance going to circular platform.

Buddha statues inside stupas in circular platform.

Our souvenir jump shot with the temple.

Photo credits from friend E, salamat uli mare :D. Hopefully we travel more of years to come.