Bangayan sa Bora

I was very bothered and alarmed upon watching “Kapuso Mo Jessica Soho”‘s last episode about a current dispute between the local Boracay Tour Guide vs. foreign guides.

Boracay is our country’s top beach destination and has consistently been voted as one of the best beaches in the world by many travel magazines and organizations. I’ve been to Boracay many times in the past and the sheer powdery like white sand, clear waters and vibrant night life are good enough magnets to draw attention of local and foreign tourists alike.

The last time I was in Boracay was more than 5 years ago. During that time, there are already plenty of Korean tourists but in recent years more and more South Koreans visit the country which is definitely good for our tourism. I can imagine some parts of Boracay now has transformed into a Korean town of sorts.

On top of that, we have also been drawing a good share of Mainland Chinese, Taiwanese and Russian tourists lately.

More tourists means more business and employment opportunities for locals right? But not in the case of Tour Guides in the island as what Jessica Soho’s program depicts in their last episode.

A lot of the licensed local tour guides are now finding themselves getting fewer share of the tour guiding works for these nationals. This is due to the fact that many of the tour groups and travel companies prefer hiring native speakers to assist the group rather than getting Filipino guide who mostly can only speak Filipino and English language.

Naturally, if I am a Korean I would prefer a Korean tour guide who speaks the same language as I am, understand a Korean tourist behavior better at the same or slightly higher price than Filipino guides.

According to the report, there are over 150 Korean guides working in the Island now many of them are tourists at the first time but decided to stay in Boracay longer. To sustain their expenses they have to work as a guide.

In the past, our local guides could earn up to PHP 30,000 per month  but with the influx of Korean guides, they are earning average of PHP 10,000 more or less whilst Korean guide could earn up to PHP 100,000 depending on the season and number of groups they assist. Big bucks right?

As a Filipino and a professional working in the travel industry I am very worried of these recent developments. Surely more tourists would mean added revenue to our country’s coffers. It would also attract more investors.

However, progress in our tourism should benefit Filipinos as a priority. There is no better host that could describe the real “Boracay” or even “Philippine” experience than a local despite the language barrier. Sadly, I don’t think our laws could regulate the number of foreign guides in the country at the moment.

I verified on the case of Tour guides in Thailand as I thought many of the tour guides serving in popular tourist attractions are locals but fluently speaking in a foreign language. I’ve been to touristy places like Royal Grand Palace, Wat Po, Pattaya or Phuket beaches and often times I would hear a Thai guide explaining to a group of tourist about the place either in French, German, Russian, Chinese, etc. I would always get amazed by how Thailand was able to maximize their tourism work force and even enhance the skills of the people in order to get the opportunities of their tourism boom. Of course once in a while some overseas companies would secretly hire the service of the guide from that country but the Government also protects the welfare of the Thai guides with regulations on foreign workers.

In our country’s case, regulating these foreign workers would also mean our tour guide must enhance their skills and learn how to speak a foreign language apart from English in order to compete. I believe it’s not hard as many Filipinos could learn a foreign language easily due to our common adaptability.

It is inevitable for our tourism to boom. I’ve been reading a lot of positive news about many hotels opening in the next few years and various efforts of public and private sector to lure overseas tourists and investors recently.

Apart from suggestions to improve the country’s infrastructure which is long overdue, we also have to consider the workforce if they are able to address the demands of the job.

The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) will be in effect by 2015. We could expect more ASEAN friends to influx our country either for leisure or employment. We have to be prepared as early as now.

Magnum Mystery…

I was really intrigued by all these Magnum craze hitting the Philippines it seems like “Bungang Araw” seriously hitting the backs of children who are seemingly unaware of the heat of the summer sun.

I learned about this brouhaha from some Facebook friends who would proudly post about their first bite of this “glorious” Ice Cream or some rewarding themselves a piece after a long hard day at work.

Then I read in Twitter about celebrities promoting Magnum Ice Cream. Looks like this sweet is really toppling the old-fashioned but always reliable summer heat fighter Halo-Halo.

I’ve first tasted Magnum last year here in Bangkok. Not sure though how long ago it was introduced in the Thai Market but it seems Thais are not as ecstatic as their Filipino counterpart in trooping the stores to buy Magnum. For one, it is a bit pricey (around THB 40 or a little over 50 Pesos per piece) compared to other Thai desserts like the similarly refreshing Nam Kang Sai Sala (Shaved Ice with Sala Syrup) which is only THB 10 per bowl usually sold on the streets and you can even select some toppings.

I actually commend the Marketing minds behind the Magnum Craze as they were successful in making this dessert very in demand. I heard that some people have to go through several 7-11 shops just to find Magnum as many shops had it sold out.

Since I already forget how Magnum tastes like, I asked my friend to buy some from the nearest convenience store so we could indulge this most-sought after dessert.

Verdict: After tasting Magnum Almond, I find the Ice Cream too sweet and I can’t find any bit of almond in the bar.

I have nothing against people who go crazy with Magnum but personally I would still prefer Pinipig Crunch, Twin Popsies or even the traditional Ice Buko with Red Beans.

You may also try Ice Monster which is a healthier alternative as you can select fruits as toppings.

Happy 3rd Birthday Kikomatching!

It’s actually a belated Birthday Greeting. Nevertheless, I am greeting my pseudonym Kikomatching a Happy 3rd Birthday! It has been 3 years since I started blogging last March 14, 2009. I love writing but never get the chance to share my thoughts to the world through blog so I started creating my own. I remember I can’t even decide if I will use blogspot or wordpress. Finally I decided to use wordpress cos I feel it is much simpler and I never turned back since then.

On my 3rd year as a blogger, I created 150 blog posts, was featured in the Freshly Pressed page of WordPress for my story about the trip in Koh Samed, Thailand. I was wondering why on that day I was getting a lot of comments in my post as well as hundreds of page views. Only when I logged out and logged-in again did I realized my story was in the front page of WordPress. Isn’t it cool? 🙂

I’ve written topics about my various travels, talk of the town issues or even tips on how to lose belly fat! Sometimes I would bug my friends begging them to suggest a good topic for my next post. Few of them are kind enough to give me interesting topics.

I’ve also followed and became close to a few fellow bloggers but unfortunately have not met any of them in person yet. Hope to meet some of you in person someday.

Every time I receive a comment from someone complimenting about my post or the pictures I shared, I am thrilled.
Some people have been following my blog and I thank you for considering my blog worth following.

Three years is really short a period. I will continue to blog as long as I can. I am thankful to my Dad as he inspired me to write. He was a good writer when he was still alive. Many of his colleagues would ask for his help in various correspondences be it a memorandum, letter of apology, recommendation letter, even speech!

Papa, this blog is for you!

Thank you once again and God bless us all!

Taal Volcano brouhaha..

Social networking sites are very much alive again not because of the Piolo-KC’s continuing love-hate saga, or Manny Pacquiao’s supposed attendance in the baptismal of his lovechild as a Godfather or P.Noy’s latest lovelife. The buzz these days is about the proposal from the Provincial board of Batangas about erecting a sign ala-Hollywood in Taal Volcano showing B-A-T-A-N-G-A-S.

This proposal according to them would make everyone know that this popular natural attraction is in the territory of Batangas and not Tagaytay City. What the!

So what if the whole world will know that Taal Volcano is in Batangas? Will it bring millions of Pesos in the country’s coffers bec. bus loads of tourists will come upon finally knowing that Taal Volcano is located in Batangas and not Tagaytay City as they had thought all their lives? Is this matter a cause for a national or international concern like the Spratly Islands claim the reason why our beloved country decided to call South China Sea to be West Philippine Sea to claim sovereignty of the disputed area?

Gov. Vilma through the media said people should not over react because this is just a proposal.

So why are many people still reacting?

Personally, I am writing this blog post because as a Filipino (not necessarily a Batangueno or Caviteno) I feel our elected politicians should focus on projects that would benefit the critical masses not just selected or privileged few. They are spending tax payers money in deliberation sessions about a project which should not be thought of in the first place. Don’t they have better things to do or discuss? Letting the people know that Taal Volcano is part of Batangas province should be made through other initiatives not erecting a giant signage “sa isang nananahimik ngayong Bulkan”! They could spread this information through media, Dep Ed by emphasizing in textbooks and educational materials about the correct geographic location of the place, etc.

I read a news article in ABS-CBN website about this topic and I totally agree with the comments:

“Paano pag sumabog ang bulkan, e di sira na rin yan agad. Sayang ang pondo ng gobyerno, mas marami pa sanang mas kapakipakinabang na proyektong puedeng paggamitan,” Theresa Enriquez- De Asis said.

Johans Lucena said: “The Hollywood sign was put up to add character to an utterly boring hill….the taal volcano by itself has its own character, no need to put up a sign coz everyone knows right away that it is The Taal Volcano.

“Why doesn’t ms Santos use the money in improving the environment in that area instead of adding an eyesore that not only will cost so much money but will also ruin the look of the place.

The millions she’ll use for that sign can be used in planting more trees, plants, improving road works, etc. That would leave a better mark than something she merely copied from somewhere.”

The comments above is a very very big CHECK. Few months ago there were massive fish kills in various parts of the country due to water pollution and over crowding of fish pens. Taal lake is not spared of this dilemma. So why can’t these intelligent and dignified officials just spend their energy and resources in preventing said phenomena.

Gov. Vi, there is still time to scrap this useless project and do something better. The country has enough of the eyesore called giant Billboards. Pls. do not plant one in a naturally beautiful place.

I have been checking the Facebook page showing various altered pictures about spots wherein names were erected. It’s really funny and shows Philippine humor. See for yourself and enjoy!

Kala ng Batangas sila lang..Kaya din ng Cavite yan! (woahh this may likely to happen cos there are a lot of actor-politicians from both province).

Belat! Kami din.

Now this looks like a waiting shed donated by a politician

To commemorate Gov. Vi’s success as a Darna.

We are all passersby…

I’m sure many of us have heard or watched the news about a 2 year old baby girl in China who was a victim of a horrible hit-and-run accident last week (Thursday) and died today.

The toddler nicknamed Yueyue was innocently walking along a narrow market street in the Chinese Southern city of Foshan when a van hit her. CCTV camera showed the driver stopped for a few seconds only to hit her again and resume driving. The little girl was there in the cold street, blood-soaked, crying because of terrible pain. There were many passersby but no one seemed to notice her or just deliberately ignored her. After a few moments, another van striked her until finally a garbage collector saw her, pulled her to the side of the street because the baby is too weak and alerted the mother.

It is really heartbreaking to see through this incident, how  our society had gone very ill. It seems nowadays a lot of people do not have a heart for their fellow who needs help.

It is still unclear why the toddler was left unattended by the family which caused her walking freely on the road.

When this accident has gone viral through various websites and social networks, many people said the reason why no one tried to help is for fear of being wrongly accused similar to a case in China in year 2006 wherein the one who helped was accused of causing further injury and at the end made him to pay 10% of the total medical cost.

The case of Yueyue is very similar to the parable in the Bible about the Good Samaritan. A traveler was walking the roads of Jericho but unfortunately was beaten, robbed and left half dead. A priest passed by as well as a Levite. But both avoided the helpless man. Finally a Samaritan comes and helped the Jew. During that time Jews and Samaritans despised each other but in all ironies of life, the traveler found help in a most unlikely person which is the Samaritan.

As for Yueyue’s accident, most probably the drivers of the vans as well as all the passersby are well-educated (as it seems they know the possible repercussion if they try to help the victim and eventually wrongfully accused) and as well living a good life.
Meanwhile, the garbage collector may not even have formal education, possesses less material things but amongst all people only she have the pure heart and instinctively tried to save the helpless toddler.

All of us are passersby in this world… The roads are dark and dangerous…We will never know if we would be in the same situation…
Probably the world has really gone bad but I really hope there are still more people like the garbage collector.
Maybe Yueyue had been unfortunate in this world but surely she is in a better place now, up there in Heaven.

This story really made me heavy-hearted with the realities of our modern life.

I will pray for you Yueyue. May your soul rest in peace.

For the record- Ernie and Bert are just best friends!

Seems life is really goin’ bananas these days…

Last November- Marge Simpson, the fictional cartoon character in what is dubbed as the world’s most dysfunctional family “The Simpsons” made history by being the first cartoon character to grace the cover of Playboy Magazine .

Now, there was a statement from Sesame Street the world’s favorite children’s show clarifying a rumor about 2 of their most popular characters, Ernie and Bert saying they are apparently not gay and are just the best of friends.

This statement is in response to a Facebook campaign launched by gay rights activist Lair Scott. The campaign was created to ask Ernie and Bert get married in the programme as a way of teaching viewers acceptance of gays and lesbians.

Quoting Lair Scott:

“We are not asking that Sesame Street do anything crude or disrespectful. Only that they allow Bert and Ernie to marry or even add a transgender character to the show,” reads an online petition signed by some 7,600 people.

Sesame Street said:

“Bert and Ernie are best friends. They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves,” the public television program said in a statement.

“Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation.”

I also personally feel that even though same sex marriage is acceptable in some societies, promoting it in a children’s show the way Scott suggested it, is too complicated for children as young as 3 or 4 to comprehend.

I believe there are better venues or means to make people including the young generation accept this fact in our society and not through the said TV show.

There was another controversy in the Philippines just recently when an artist named Mideo Cruz showcased his “works of art” entitled “Kulo” depicting various works featuring Jesus Christ in what many people believe to be “blasphemous” and a “mockery of their faith”.

I believe this is a free world and everyone has the right to express their beliefs, views and opinions but I also believe that we should do it in a way not offending to the majority of people in the society.

Just my two cents worth…

Excerpts of the Ernie and Bert story were taken from this article found in: http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/lifestyle/08/13/11/sesame-street-says-bert-and-ernie-just-friends

Invisible Man

I was amused by the article I read in Yahoo News about a Chinese man camouflaging himself against various backdrop which made people tag him as the Invisible Man.

This time, Liu Bolin, a 38 year old artist who traveled the whole world disguising himself in many different surroundings decided to hide himself  by putting paint around his body similar to that of a supermarket shelf.

I just wonder how the buyers would react if they are trying to grab something from the shelf but in fact they are grabbing a human being. Sounds a bit eerie.

His latest artwork is actually not just a publicity stunt but he is trying to make a statement in expressing his speechlessness in using Plasticizer in food additives. There were food scare in some parts of the world about plasticizer being used in food additives and supplements which raises concerns from various groups. Good cause isn’t it?

Here are some of the pictures of Invisible Man. Really amazing.


 

Article and photos were taken from: http://sg.news.yahoo.com/%E2%80%98invisible-man%E2%80%99-artist-hides-in-supermarket.html