Fur kids or real kids anyone?

Last night I was watching in Channel News Asia the programme called Blog TV. The episode is titled “Fur Kids”. The guests debates and gives opinion as to which one is better, raising your own child or owning a fur kid (read as: pet). Wooaah what a topic. Owning a pet has been a trend nowadays and many pet lovers spend a lot in grooming, dressing up and feeding their “fur kids” which is good because most household pets (especially dogs) help relieve stress, are very loyal and fun to look at. However, personally I believe the topic is non debatable in the first place. In totality, it is a lot better to raise your own child as opposed to raising a fur kid.

Please don’t get me wrong with my opinion. I have no objection if some people spend a lot in raising and maintaining their pets. I also emphatize to those couples who want to have their own children but cannot so have to resort to owning a pet for diversion. It is definitely a good deed. However, if a legally married couple has the financial, mental and physical capacity to have their own children, then by all means do not think twice having your own. It’s all about satisfaction, fulfillment and pride of raising your own children.

I don’t have children of my own yet but as I see my parents, siblings, relatives and friends who have their own children, I can see how proud, happy and contented they are having their own offspring especially for my parents as all of us are grown ups now and are successful in our own ways. No matter how obnoxious, underdisciplined or naughty kids these days can become, a parent will always love their child.

We are happy when our pups would learn how to bark and compliment them how brave they are even at a very early stage. However the feeling is entirely different when our baby starts to say its first word like Mama or Papa or giggle when we do peek-a-boo or tickle them. The world seems so full of happiness and the sight of a very innocent face staring at you is priceless.

When a dog learned it’s first trick like sitting still or rolling, we are very proud and would show these tricks off to our friends. However, when our baby responds when we asked them to close or open their hands, blink and do “beautiful eyes” gesture or when they learn to take first small steps, some parents can’t help but become teary eyed with their child’s progress.

When they start to go to school, learn how to read, write us short poems or messages or even draw a picture of their family and show to us, we will treasure these memories for a lifetime.

The list of memories and events shared together between a parent and their children goes on and on. Of course there are random instances wherein the children may grow up not as expected like giving the parents some problems like unwanted pregnancies, being hooked up in drugs or other vices, not following parents orders and stuff. But these are isolated cases and not usual to all families.

Overall, the bond between a parent and a child is stronger than the Great Wall of China, deeper than the Pacific Ocean and greater than the Great Barrier reef. It’s all because the foundation is love, trust and physical and emotional connection.

Let us continue to become a good parent or child or both, whichever role we play in life.

Cheers!

A year after Typhoon Ondoy…

October 26, 2010, exactly one year since the destructive Typhoon Ondoy wreaked havoc to Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon. This day will not be forgotten by  many people including my Family, some relatives and friends because we are included in the list of victims of nature’s wrath through a typhoon named Ondoy.

It was a typical Saturday. Early in the morning, it was raining but not so heavy yet. My Mom and Dad went to the local market to buy a week’s stock of food. Only my 2 sisters, brother in law and nephew (then 7 months old) were left at home. The rain started to pour heavily.

Our car was stucked on the road due to traffic (since some roads became impassable).  My mom became worried that the water might go inside the car but nothing they can do since the traffic is not moving for an hour. She needed to use the comfort room and since they realized there will be no way the vehicles will move soon since the rain becomes heavier, they decided to leave the car on the road and go to my aunt’s (father side) house which is close to where they were stranded. Soon the flood becomes deeper and deeper that it went inside the house of my aunt. They had to transfer to a neighbor whose house is 2 stories high.

Back home, my siblings are in panic because they can’t contact my parents and the waters are rising very fast. Our home is bungalow type though it is built higher than the road and in the 20 years that we lived there, never did the floods reached inside our house…if the flood waters reached our gate, it is already above waist deep.. Except on that day when the waters reached inside up to the window pane.  My sister said the flood waters rise very fast and the current so strong, it seems like seeing the Southeast Asian Tsunami videos. They had to climb a stair to reach our next door neighbor who’s Townhouse is 2 stories as well.  They had to do it quickly and cautiously because they are carrying a baby. All the appliances and furniture tumbled down as the flood entered our home.

These events were happening while I am totally unaware of since I am in Bangkok and the weather is so sunny that time.  Never did I expect a typical typhoon to directly hit Manila since it has been raining constantly in the country during that time but it is expected in a monsoon season anyway. I even watched a movie with few friends that day.

I did not receive any single message from family members about the predicament simply because it was so quick and they are totally unprepared. They had to contact each other (my parents, my other siblings, relatives who are mostly living in Marikina or Pasig–all flood prone areas) so in a short while, all their mobile phone batteries went dead.

I was only able to check my Facebook after dinner. I got the biggest shock of my life when I opened Facebook and the wall of my friends are literally flooded with messages about the disaster, re-posting call for help from those affected and prayer requests.

Then I checked the news website and found out how big the destruction is. I got goosebumps and my heart beats faster. At the back of my mind, I am praying nothing wrong happened to my family. I tried contacting our landline as well as the mobile phones of all my family members and relatives. All are unreachable.

I was so restless but cannot do anything. I tried messaging my cousins in the US and Canada if they have any news about our families back home but unfortunately they cannot contact their respective families as well. All of us overseas waited in vain. Just imagine the frustration and anxiety we are feeling back then. All we had to do is pray.

I asked a favor from my ex-GF to try contacting any of my family members since it may be easier if the call is from Metro Manila. Fortunately, she is able to contact my brother in law and got updated that all members of the family including some of our relatives nearby are all ok. Only thing is that they can’t contact my cousin staying in Pasig so they are also worried if they are ok.

The family was able to contact my cousin after a few days. When the flood subsided, my family entered our home and everyone thought they are in a nightmare especially my parents who worked hard to build our home and improve it over the years but all these hard work, savings and memories (including our pictures and documents) are washed away in a few hours time.

I actually asked them to take pictures of our home but they all don’t want to remember it by a picture so I wasn’t able to see exactly how our house looked like then. All I know is they spend few days (if not weeks) to clean and disinfect the house, throw away the appliances, clothes and items that are no longer usable. Our car also had to be on queue for fixing because majority of Marikina are submerged in flood and vehicles needed to be fixed. Our consolation and for which we must be truly grateful for God’s mercy is that everyone in my family, relatives and friends are all safe.

I saw the Facebook note of my cousin detailing her and 2 children’s ordeal while stucked in their home in Pasig. It is very detailed that I can picture them like in Titanic trying to move around in deep waters. Fortunately for them, their home has 2nd floor. They consider the present as their 2nd life already since during that time, only few inches away and the flood will reach the 2nd floor of their house where my cousins and 2 little children were. Their village was submerged in water for few days without food, water and electricity which makes it doubly hard since the little one one is still a toddler then.

When I went back home few months after, there are still some traces of Ondoy in our home (some of the doors and cabinets are not fixed yet that time).

After 1 year that Ondoy “visited” the Philippines, the memory still remains. Let us just pray that catastrophe of this magnitude will not happen again.

Sharing some pics I got from this website: http://www.typhoonondoy.org/tag/ondoy/

Invisible plane of the future?

Imagine yourself on a plane..you are passing through the gorgeous Hawaiian Islands…but you don’t have to look at the aircraft’s windows to admire the beauty. Just look down below your feet and the beach underneath seems almost within reach…this is what riding the aircraft of the future would look and feel like.

This morning  I received an interesting e-mail about Airbus revealing ideas on the plane of the future.

The concept plane will be designed to have its fuselage (the aircraft’s main body) be made of high tech ceramic skin to become see-through or sort of “invisible” when an electrical pulse is generated by the captain.

This design would allow passengers to look at the skies above or the beauty of the landscapes and surroundings below while on flight. Researchers in Airbus said the sensation would be like floating unassisted through the sky.

It’s really amazing how new design and technology can change the future and how we do or experience things.

When Airbus launched the A380, a double decked, wide bodied aircraft that can carry up to 555 passengers, many people got excited to experience how it is to fly such a jumbo aircraft. Last year when Emirates Airlines included Dubai-Bangkok and v.v. route using the A380, it was a full-packed flight considering the cost of ticket is not cheap.

I guess it will not take too long before these “Invisible planes” go up in the sky. It’s like doing Island Hopping in a glass bottom boat wherein you don’t need to wear a diving suit to appreciate the beauty under the sea.

So move over, Wonder Woman. Soon, millions of people will get to experience what it is like to ride an Invisible plane.

But wait, how can people who have acrophobia (like me!) be able to spend even an hour’s flight in this so-called invisible air crafts?

WTF…

Full story about the “Invisible plane” in this article
http://www.etravelblackboardasia.com/article.asp?id=70655&nav=109

A Letter of Apology from a Filipino teenager about the hostage tragedy…

By now most of the world has heard about the very tragic incident that happened in Manila on the fateful day of August 23, 2010 when a busload of Hong Kong tourist was hijacked by a former Police Officer by the name of Rolando Mendoza. The 11 hour hostage tragedy claimed the lives of 8 persons including the gunman himself.

Emotions have been high since Monday and social networks like Facebook and Twitter are abuzz with posts and comments from various regions of the world giving prayers and message of sympathy as well as condemnation of the incident. Sadly, there were harsh comments like Filipinos being tagged as Monkeys which is unfair and totally uncalled for as well as the Government and Police force as inefficient, incompetent sitting ducks.

Many had already been said. I would also like to share my piece about this tragic event….

Personally I condemn the violence and feel very sorry for the loss of lives as well as the trauma brought about by the incident to the survivors and I understand the high emotions. Like many, I also do not approve of how the incident was handled by authorities . It could have been better and no innocent lives lost. The media should also be more responsible in their news reporting.

The ruthless act of 1 person doesn’t mean the whole country is rotten. Filipinos are generally loving and God-fearing. Many Filipinos working abroad have helped and continuously helping a lot of people, companies and organizations in many ways. We are also helping our families.  I really hope this single unfortunate incident will not wipe out all the good things we’ve done in the past and striving to do in the present and that no harsh repercussions to any Overseas Filipino Workers because of the incidents. These fellows are just trying to earn a decent living and has nothing to do with the ruthless act of the gunman as well as inequities of some authorities.

I would like to share in my blog a letter from a Filipino teenager by the name Reigno Jose Dilao making an apology for what has happened. Some people actually do not approve of his letter because they say there is no reason to apologize. But being a compassionate Christian, I also feel we should be sorry for the loss of lives.

As the bodies of the people who died are now flown to Hong Kong and most of the survivors have gone home as well, it is time to show affection and compassion to the families who are grieving and together with it, a prayer that the said incident will not happen again in the Philippines or anywhere else in the world.

Full text of Reigno’s letter here.

Manila Hostage Crisis

Many of us has seen in the news or YouTube the very tense and tiring hostage crisis of a busload of Hong Kong Tourists in Manila today. The real life drama took 11 hours and several lives including innocent tourists and the hostage-taker, former Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza.

According to GMA news website, the 55 year old Mendoza was one of the five officers charged with robbery, extortion and grave threats after they allegedly accused a chef of the Manila Hotel of using drugs to extort money in 2008.

He was armed with an M16 rifle during the hostage-taking.

The Hong Tai Bus is reportedly carrying about 25 persons mostly Hong Kong Tourists when he seized it around 9:30 am local time. He demanded to be reinstated from his job.

The authorities tried negotiating with the hostage taker and the brother, SPO2 Gregorio Mendoza has been talking to Rolando and relaying his demands to the negotiators. The hostage-taker also tried writing his demands in paper and posting it on the bus’ windows.

However, the situation escalated when the gunman opened fire to tourists inside the bus. Some people claimed that it is because Rolando saw in TV about the “forced” arrest of his brother Gregorio as an alleged accessory to the crime while the hostage drama is taking place.

Latest news said 8 people died including Rolando.

I have seen the video footage and the incident is quite alarming. On a supposedly busy early morning, wherein the city is just starting to have life, a tourist bus was hijacked. Innocent tourists’ life including children were at stake.

We’ve seen news before about a man entering a school in China and killing several children or a man taking control of a building in America killing more than a dozen people. The world is no longer safe.

What is more disturbing is the fact that what happened in Manila today is isolated but has created a very big impact.  I can’t blame the man for trying to let the authorities hear his voice. But the way it was done is certainly not acceptable. I’ve never heard of such incident wherein the gunmen deliberately target a lot of innocent tourists. I’ve read in Facebook about comments like “Desperate times would make you do desperate actions”. Still not a good enough reason to take someone else’s life in our own hands as what has been inculcated in our minds since we were young if we really value our Christian beliefs.

The Philippines has been struggling to lure tourists to the country what with numerous reports of kidnapping of foreign missionaries or abduction of wealthy businessmen. We people working in the travel industry really work hard to bring tourists to the country. Tourism brings jobs and wealth to a country’s economy. However, tourism is always the first to be affected whenever security or safety is compromised.

The Security Bureau of Hong Kong has blacklisted the Philippines and declared a total travel ban to the country following the incident. We definitely cannot blame them especially since several of their citizens were killed.

This is a very challenging time for the Government. There must really be a drastic move to eliminate corruption, red tape and abuse of power in all Government agencies especially in the police or military ranks as they swore to serve and protect the country and the people.

It is just saddening the way Rolando Mendoza’s (a former awardee of Ten Outstanding Policemen of the Philippines) life and several others ended.

I join the people of Hong Kong as well as fellow Filipinos in praying for the eternal peace and salvation of those who died and also praying for full recovery and healing of memories of those who survived this tragic incident. We fervently pray for God’s grace and protection so that this dark moment will never happen again.

Goldilocks Bakeshop now in Bangkok!

The Philippines’ favorite Bakeshop, Goldilocks is now in Bangkok. News said there will be several branches in Bangkok but yesterday I was trying to locate the one in MBK Centre but even as I go through all the floors, it wasn’t there. It may be open soon.

However, today I was lucky enough to find a branch in Siam Square in a newly opened mall called Siamkit Building (earlier thought the building name is Benjakiti) just in front of Novotel Hotel at Siam Square.

I was able to take picture of the mall but not the frontage of Goldilocks cos I was kinda shy to take pictures up close..hahaha. I’ll try to take picture soon if I am with my friends.

The location of the shop is very good, in the Ground Floor, the first store beside the entrance and opposite Starbucks.

I really took my time to look for the place because as a Filipino, I am proud to see the Philippine brand in a foreign country. In addition, I am missing the bakery products of Goldilocks specifically the Mamon, Puto and brownies. Unfortunately, there is no Puto in the product line yet.

When I entered the store, the 4 tables of the bakeshop are full of Thai families which is a good start for the newly opened store (I think they opened only beginning of this month). Some spaces of the mall hasn’t opened yet.

They have opening promotion as follows:

Free 1 pc classic polvoron for a minimum purchase of 100 baht
Free 4 pcs classic polvoron for a minimum purchase of 300 baht
Free 1 package (10 pcs) classic polvoron for a minimum purchase of 500 baht.

However, I was lucky enough to be given 4 pcs of classic polvoron even if I only purchased around 200 baht of products. Maybe because I smiled at the crew members.  Ha ha ha!

I believe Goldilocks will be popular in Bangkok because Thais love bakery products and sweets including cakes. With the very lovely cake designs they make which is incomparable with existing cakes being sold in normal bakeshops here, I’m sure people will troop to the stores soon.

Hope Jollibee and Chowking will be here too sooner than later. 🙂

Update (as of March 14, 2011): I saw the complete list of Goldilocks branches in Bangkok from Ensogo.com. Last week, Goldilocks had a promotion in this website (around 50% disc. for bakery items if you buy vouchers via Ensogo).

– 1st floor Siamkit building, Siam Square, opposite to Novotel Hotel Tel. 02-250-7560
– Ground floor Chamchuri Square Tel. 081-733-3102
– Ground floor Column Tower Soi Sukhumvit 16 Tel. 02-258-2262
– Ground floor IT Square, Laksi Tel. 084-710-8282
– Chidlom BTS Station Tel. 081-733-3270

Remembering July 16, 1990 Killer Earthquake

Exactly 20 years ago, a 7.8 magnitude Earthquake struck the island of Luzon, Philippines at around 1626H, local time. Luzon, being the main island of the Philippines where Manila is located and a densely populated region survived the calamity but with extensive destruction in properties and claiming approximately 1,600 lives.

Personally, I will never forget that day as long as I lived. The harrowing experience is still vivid in my memories. As a grade school boy, I can’t imagine myself experiencing it far away from my family as what other students experienced. I just finished doing my homework and about to get ready to play outside. My youngest sister who was in primary school then was in their room at that time because she had some tantrums. I can’t remember the cause of her tantrums but I believe it was her first earthquake experience and surely she didn’t know that time what is happening. There was a violent shaking of the ground and as my dad realized it was an earthquake, he told everyone of us to get out of the house to go in front in an open area for safety reasons. We had a bit of hard time opening the door of my sister’s room to take her out cos the house was shaking. We eventually managed to go out safely.

My parents, 2 of my sisters and me hugged each other as the ground is literally rumbling and violently shaking. There was a huge water tank nearby our house which the noise of it’s shaking was quite frightening and imagining if it will fall, what will happen to the residents nearby…my sisters are crying because they thought the earthquake will not stop. It lasted quite long (about 45 secs.). We were quite fortunate that we were already home from school at that time. I heard some children who were in the afternoon session in school panicked when the earthquake strike, many of them cried out of fear.

My 2 brothers were not at home that time. My eldest brother who was already in college that time visited a friend in the UST hospital in Manila with some friends. They said the earthquake was also felt strongly in Manila. Because of the event, everyone had to hurry back home and at the end, my brother and friends had to walk from Espana, Manila to Marikina (approx 21 kms. away) just to reach home. My other brother was staying in my Aunt’s house that time.

There were several aftershocks during the course of the night and extending through the week. There were some days that while doing nothing, I felt dizzy and it seems that the earth is still shaking then. Electricity was cut, schools and offices were closed for several days and the building inspectors had to check schools, offices and public buildings for safety before they allowed entry.

In the news, we saw the massive destruction of the quake most notably of which is in Baguio City and Cabanatuan City. The Hyatt Terraces Hotel, a 5 Star Hotel in Baguio collapsed killing at least 80 people including guests and employees. Many other buildings in Baguio, a popular tourist destination due to its cool climate, pine trees and American inspired architecture collapsed.

In Cabanatuan City, a big school- –  Christian College of the Philippines collapsed killing at least 15o people, mostly students. It was such a horrific experience seeing in TV or newspapers video or pictures of children who died in the rubble.

I remembered seeing in the news that Akiko Thompson, a pretty and popular swimmer was stranded in Baguio and finding ways how to go back to Manila. There were other prominent personalities that were affected by the calamity.

There were some survivors in the ruins as well. Some of them survived up to two weeks without eating or drinking. Some claimed that they had to drink their own urine just to survive.

If there is one positive thing that happened in this tragedy, it’s the Filipinos’ nature of “Bayanihan” or helping those in need. Donations and pledges of any kind keep pouring on government agencies and Television Stations. Eye to Eye, a popular public affairs program was the leading and most reliable source of donation during calamities.

Many people preferred sending their donations to this hit TV Programme because the host, Inday Badiday and her crew really go to the affected areas and personally distribute the goods. They also flash on screen the pledges or donations. Some stars volunteered to answer phone calls in their hotline.

As I write this post to remember the frightening yet historical event in our country, please join me in a silent prayer to God asking to spare our country from similar calamities in the future. It is really an experience that one can never forget…

Why P.Noy should use the Wang Wang?

It seems P.Noy is off to a good start since he assumed the Presidency. Everyone is in high spirits especially seeing former President GMA finally step down from her most cherished and treasured post as the country’s Chief Executive. The Filipino people are keeping their hopes that P.Noy will bring about the changes that the country badly needs. In a bid to “impress” the people, the new President is trying to shy away from the conventional with some changes in the practice of other former Presidents which on the first glance is a welcoming gesture as he is trying to set a good example being the leader of the nation but on a second thought, I personally feel these changes being made are not practical not to mention improper for a person with that stature and responsibility.

1.) P. Noy refused to use the Presidential vehicle as he prefer using his own SUV.
2.) He reiterated a no-siren (wang wang) policy on all his travels and official engagement and that he will stop at all red lights just to experience what’s it like to be traversing our highly congested roads even if it means he has to wake up earlier so as not to be late for appointments.

Being a concerned citizen, I believe the President MUST NOT avoid using the Presidential vehicle as well as using the siren when travelling just to make a stand and set a good example of being a responsible citizen. This is because the practice that he is trying to impose to himself is high security risk. Surely, there are a lot of people who wants to be on the spot where he is in right now and not riding on the Presidential car (which I assumed is a bullet proof, high security vehicle) or using a siren will mean the President is very vulnerable to attacks from unscrupulous cohorts while on the road.

Likewise, everyone’s time is precious. By not using the siren while travelling or by stopping at every red light, it means the President’s travelling time is longer. Precious time is lost in the horrendous Metro Manila traffic. The time wasted can be used in more fruitful endeavors especially with a lot of pressing issues our country is facing. OK, the President might say time is not an issue since he can wake up earlier just to avoid traffic and still be on time, etc but just imagine if he wake up earlier and the travelling time is lesser then it means he will be more productive in each day with more time for official engagements compared to just sitting inside his car and waiting for the traffic to move. Surely he can make quick phone calls and still do his duty while on his car but since he is immobile, his capacity is quite limited.

I think the problem does not lie in using of wang wang per se but in the usage of this ubiquitous gadget by some people who are not even supposed to have it or if they are entitled to use it, tends to be abusive by using it even during personal travels. I believe this problem will be resolved if it is fixed from within- -meaning fixing the abusive person’s conscience. But the bigger problem is if they do not have a conscience at all.

Anyway, I am making a personal commitment to support President Noynoy as long as his desire and intention for the Filipino people and the country in general remains pure. This is by being a better (not bitter!) citizen and anyway I can help to promote the Philippines or imbibe positive results in my capacity, I will.

God bless us all.

Classic Philippine Commercials

Over the years, TV commercials have made a mark in our viewing habits with funny, provocative or touching concepts. Many guys and gals have become popular and well loved because of a TV ad as well as many celebrities continue to rake big bucks because of numerous endorsements.

Here are some of the Philippine TV commercials which I can still remember up to this date because of it’s unique style and presentation not to mention some are really funny and catchy or simply because they are the ones that are always shown before my favorite program. Really classic.



I am still checking out a good quality of the Close-up commercial with Closer You and I theme by Gino Padilla as well as the 680 Home Appliances by Rod Navarro and RA Home Vision (this is the only commercial shown when we watch WWF before Hulk Hogan or Ultimate Warrior do their moves during that time).

Pumasyal sa Pilipinas kahit puno na ang Jeep…

Many Tourism promotions always highlight that the Philippines has 7,107 islands…Too many islands to explore right? But the million peso question is “Where are all the Tourist gone?”  According to a tourism report, tourist arrival grew to 5.2 million. This is actually a positive sign if compared to the past years but I believe this figure includes Balikbayans or Overseas Filipinos visiting Philippines for Holidays. So even with the positive figure, why does it sound like I am whining?

Thailand enjoys over 14 Million visitors a year, Singapore in March alone enjoyed a brisk arrival of 928,000 and projects tourist arrival to 12.5 million at the end of this year especially with the opening of new Integrated resorts like Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands. Malaysia tops the list of SEA countries in terms of visitor’s arrival at about 21.5 Million in 2009.

Figures don’t  lie ayt?

Why am I highlighting these facts? Simply because the Philippines has all the factors to be the Tourism Haven in Southeast Asia (perhaps even whole Asia).

1.) We are the 2nd largest English-speaking nation in Asia (2nd to India). Everywhere you go even on the boondocks, locals can more or less communicate or understand English. Very Tourist friendly. In Thailand, some of those working in the hotels or restaurants cannot converse fluently in English. But Tourist still flock.

2.) We have the Sun, Sea, Sand and smiles. Activities and attractions are endless. Boracay still remains a big draw to tourist with its talcum powder-like sand and party atmosphere all day and night. Palawan is simply the best and so is Bohol, and Batanes, and Camiguin and Cebu and Davao..the list goes on and on.

3.) We are a melting pot of cultures. It’s true some countries have very strong and easily recognizable culture and heritage like that of China, India, Japan, Thailand. However our uniqueness lies on so many cultures and traditions to explore and experience at such a smaller place than the former mentioned places.

4.) We have several of the biggest shopping malls in the World. The newly renovated SM City North EDSA is the 3rd biggest mall in the world. SM Mall of Asia, SM Megamall and many others are also included in the biggest mall list.  Why simply can’t we be the Shopping Haven of Asia? Why are so many Pinoy businessmen into retail business buy clothes and accessories in Bangkok, Hong Kong or mainland China?

5.) Our country has the geographic advantage.  We are in the heart of Asia and the Pacific. Easily accessible to the rest of the world.

On the other hand, there are also critical reasons why we do not get the numbers that we want:

1.) Lack of infrastructure- our Airports and sea ports cannot compete with our neighbors. Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Incheon Airports are highly recognized for efficient service, cleanliness and all the awards you can think of. Not to mention the size of these airport are simply humongous. Our road network also needs face lift. Few years ago, I was on the way to the Underground River in Puerto Princesa. The scenery is simply breath taking if not out of this world. Imagine a river traversing under a mountain and tourist is underneath this mountain for about 45 minutes going in and another 45 minutes going out. Really awesome. But to reach that spot, you have to travel by land for about 2 hours from the city and an hour of which is on a very bumpy road. The tour guide would always joke it is a natural body massage cos you are literally shaken and twisted by the rough road. Even thousands of tourist flock the Underground River, the road badly needs cementing or even asphalt for many years now.

Our public transport like MRT, LRT and even Bus or Jeepney transport are not tourist friendly. Either it is too crowded, or needs to be pulled to the garage especially a lot of public Buses and taxis.

2.) Lack of Promotion. Some months ago, I was dining in a Seafood Restaurant in Bangkok with a friend and beside our table are a couple of Hong Kong citizens. We tried to be friendly and asked if it is their first time in Bangkok and what is the purpose of their trip. We were surprised on their answer. They said it was not their first time and the purpose of their trip is just to eat Seafoods! WTF! Eating seafoods but you have to spend on airfare, hotel and travel 3 hours? But it is understandable because seafood in Hong Kong is very expensive. They can enjoy seafood dinner ever day or night while they are in Bangkok but the price is nothing compared to having just one full seafood meal in their country. And Thailand is actually earning a lot on Culinary Tourism. Cooking schools in Chiang Mai are very popular. Thai cuisine has been one of the factors why tourist visit this country.

Malaysia is very good in their PR campaigns to promote their tourist spots. Every time I meet a foreigner and I told them I am from Philippines or Manila, they usually ask me, what can you do in Manila or Philippines? Is Manila in an Island or near the beach? Many other questions. It is due to the fact that our Tourism related campaign is either insufficient or lacking of magnets to lure the tourists.

3.) Traveling in the Philippines is expensive. It is good now that Cebu Pacific has started the trend of budget airfare across the country which paved the way for the healthy growth of Domestic Tourism. Hotel accommodations in tourist spots in the Philippines are very expensive and so are foods and souvenirs in these areas. Going back to my story earlier about the couple traveling to Bangkok just to eat, I believe many of our fresh sea foods are being exported to Hong Kong, Japan, China and nearby countries wherein the prices if served on the table are triple or quadruple than the local price before being sent overseas. If we can only find a way for these seafoods or even fruits to be enjoyed here in the Philippines and no need to be sent for export, not only will the prices be cheaper but everyone will be able to enjoy (tourist and locals alike). If tourist go to the Philippines, airlines will be full, hotels will be occupied, restaurants can cook. Many establishments will benefit.

There are many more advantage and disadvantages. Maybe my blog is not enough. However, I still believe our country is great and we can show it to the world. The Aquino administration is coming in and there was a recent controversy about a rumor that President-elect Noynoy Aquino is considering Talent Manager, Boy Abunda to become the next Department of Tourism Secretary which got some nods and some flak from supporters and critics alike. But come to think of it, why not put former DOT Secretary Richard Gordon in this post again? Not so familiar if the law would allow it, but if this is possible then he is the best man for this post since he is outgoing Senator anyway and I believe he performed well during his stint in the DOT or even at Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority. Btw, He was my Presidential bet. Unfortunately, he lost.

Tourism is very important. Tourism creates business. Tourism brings money to our coffers and contributes to our GDP. I just wish the time would come that tourist arrivals will full our sights to the rafters similar to the picture above..and so us OFW will not have to work abroad cos many jobs are waiting for us.

So bring in the millions (of tourists).  🙂