Gardens by The Bay

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It is my 2nd visit to Singapore this year last being March and as I keep on mentioning, I’m really amazed that every time I visit this small city-state there is something new to see or do.

True enough, this trip I am blessed to be able to visit Singapore’s newest attraction, The Gardens by the Bay.

Last March, that place is totally a construction site! While passing the Marina Bay Sands area, I saw big skeleton posts and lots of big tractors or bulldozers. Those skeleton posts are now called the Supertree Grove and is just amazing!

Entrance to the Gardens by the Bay is around SGD 33 (approx. THB 900) per person. It is good for 2 conservatories and the OCBC Skyway.

At first, me and my colleagues thought that we don’t need to stay at the attraction long. We thought we will spend maximum 30 minutes, just walk around and take few snapshots. Apparently, the 30 minutes became almost 3 hours (including lunch) plus the heavy downpour just before we had our late lunch.

Gardens by the Bay opened few months ago so the place is not 100% complete. Even at its current state though, the place is just lovely. You can see many kinds of floras all over the world. While walking, we can’t help but compare the place to the setting of the movie Avatar (Pandora).

Our first stop is the Supertree Groves, 12 16-storey high structures that provides height and dimension to the place. Marina area is teeming with tall skyscrapers including the iconic Marina Bay Sands and Singapore Flyer. From the Supertree, you get to appreciate these modern wonders as the perfect backdrop for a truly magnificent photo.

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Then we headed upstairs to the OCBC Skyway. It is a foot bridge linking all the Supertrees together. The bridge is suspension type so it was slightly moving. I’m a bit anxious and wanted to walk fast to the other side of the bridge due to my fear of heights. But the sheer beauty of the surrounding kept me taking a lot of photos.

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Do I looked scared on the last picture above? He he he.

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You can really breathe fresh air while up there. Singapore is a very clean and green city so the air is fresher than most of the highly urbanized cities of the world (except occasional smog experienced yearly).

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Later on, the walls of the Supertree will be covered with flowers and plants. You could notice now that there are still some empty spaces because the vines or flowers have not fully grown yet.

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Then we headed to Cloud Forest. This is a cooled and covered conservatory that houses a giant man-made waterfalls and many more trees and flowers.

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There is also an audio tour for visitors who want to learn more about the species of plants in the Cloud Forest.

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From the glass panels, you can see the picturesque view of Singapore skyline.

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Suddenly, it started to rain heavily and it gives a nice waterfall effect on the glass dome.

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You can also see exotic plants like Venus Flytrap and Pitcher Plant.


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There is also the “Cloud Walk” allowing you to traverse around the man-made mountain and see the view from top.

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Last stop is the Flower Dome. It is a very big enclosed space housing more species of colorful flowers and plants. It is dubbed as the World’s largest columnless greenhouse.

The entrance to the Flower Dome is a visual feast with brightly colored flower walls surrounding the walk way.

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You can see variety of succulents, plants from Mediterranean, Australia, California and many other places.

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This picture is so cute..looks like the statue is smelling the flowers…ha ha ha.

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I’m now looking forward to go back to this Garden hopefully next year together with my family once all the flowers are in bloom.

God’s magnificence is surely in that place. He colours and beautifies our lives and surroundings.

Singapore Sojourn (2012)

I just came back from a 5 days Singapore trip last week. It was my first trip to this mini-city state this year but me and few friends are already planning to go back mid of this year. Time and again, this city has never failed to amaze me with newer sights to see and better things to do.

It was such a busy trip as mainly the purpose of my travel is for business and a bit of leisure is just a bonus if time permits. Didn’t have the chance to go perfume-hording this time but was able to enjoy the food and some new attractions.

Me and a colleague tried Duck Tour. It is such a popular tour for Thais so we have to try and see for ourselves what makes it attractive. It is a land and water tour (half of the trip you will traverse the concrete streets and the other half, the vehicle will wade the waters particularly the area along Marina Bay.

We were in the middle of the tour when it started to drizzle so most of the pictures I took while on water is a bit dark and gloomy. Tour Duration is 1 hour. You will get to see a different angle of the now famous landmarks of Singapore: The Singapore Flyer, The Esplanade and Marina Bay Sands.

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We also did inspection of the new Resorts World Sentosa hotels as part of our job. Isn’t it great that your job requires you to be able to see and stay (at times) those fine hotels that normally you would only see in the glossy magazines or travel books?

We went to Equarius Hotel as well as the Beach Villa. These 2 newly opened property completes the accommodation part of RWS. Equarius Hotel is a refreshing hotel. The moment you stepped into the lobby, there is huge waterfall replica with cascading waters and plenty of green. Really relaxing colours.

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We’ve also inspected The Beach Villa. Actually, there is no sandy beach in sight. However, the Villas are overlooking the Bay and the tall skyscrapers of modern Singapore is definitely a sight to behold.


Was also able to try Transformers The Ride which is the latest and most expensive ride in Universal Studios Singapore (USS). It is not an extreme ride like Battlestar Galactica and The Mummy but the sheer technology used (they define it as hyper-realistic 3D thrill ride) will definitely give you a feeling like you are in the middle of the battle between AUTOBOTS and DECEPTICONS. Everyone in the capsule I was in was clapping and rejoicing as we “Freedom Fighters” successfully defeated the villains. Unfortunately, you cannot take photo or video of the ride.

Hopefully my Singapore trip with friends will push through middle of this year. It is their first time in Singapore so I would let them “Get Lost” in Singapore (taken from the latest PR campaign of Singapore to Australia).

Singapore Sojourn (2011)

Last week, I had a quick business trip to Singapore (sorry Ms. GBP, didn’t have the chance to contact you so we could meet up). As usual, Singapore never cease to amaze me as it always offer something new every time I visit this highly-urbanized City State.

The last time I was there was February 2010 and in a very short span of time, a lot of new developments had happened.

Of course we all know that Marina Bay Sands, Resorts World Sentosa and Universal Studios Singapore are now open which was partly still under construction last time I was there so I did not miss the opportunity to see these hot attractions.

I stayed in Park Regis Hotel, a new hotel conveniently located in Clarke Quay. The location is great as it is less than 5 mins. walk to MRT station as well as the Central Mall and all those nice night spots.

The room is good but a bit small. But never mind as I am not in the hotel most of the time.

The meetings of the 1st 2 days of my trip was very rigorous if not tiring but it was a good exchange of ideas from various heads of different countries.

Tuesday night, I get to meet my former Philippine colleagues and had a sumptuous dinner in a Hawker centre overlooking Marina Bay Sands. It is very ironic that the other country heads were having dinner at Marina Bay Sands during that time (which I had to pass so I could meet my former colleagues) and we were just looking at the grand structure while eating tasty foods outside.

After dinner, few of us headed straight to Chijmes to cap the night with a few drinks and good music.

Next day was the day of our flight back to Bangkok. We still had a meeting over lunch but after that, I get to enjoy Universal Studios Singapore even for a few hours (as we had to rush to the airport for our flight). Luckily most of the rides have short queue or none at all since it was a weekday.

I really enjoyed The Mummy ride and the most sought after Battlestar Galactica. It was one helluva scary ride but I will definitely try it again next time.

Didn’t get the chance to go shopping or go to the Bak Kuh Teh shop near our office where I tasted the best one in Singapore. I just consoled my self with a bowl of this food bought in Vivo City en route to the airport.

I’m looking forward to going back to Singapore again very soon.

Sharing you some of the pics here..Pardon me I inserted some pics with me in it..lol.

 

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).  🙂

Singapore sojourn

Exactly 1 week ago, I went alone to Singapore for Holiday. It has been over 3 years that I not visited Singapore and many things has changed since I last visited though what remains constant is Singapore’s clean surroundings and lush greens all over. It is such a refreshing respite considering it is a very modern city and not a beach destination. I took the AirAsia flight. It is my first time to travel via AirAsia and I have to admit that it has been a generally pleasant and safe journey. Flight is on time, staff are friendly. No wonder it is such a big hit in Southeast Asia. I arrived in Changi Airport about 3PM Singapore Time. After the long queue at the Immigration counter, I started my “exploration” of the city as a Free and Easy Tourist. It was quite late and the first meal I took was just a bowl of Oatmeal for breakfast. At that point, my tummy is rumbling and I had a slight migraine. Since I want some adventure, I did not exit to the nearest Taxi stand for convenience. Instead, I asked where the MRT station is. The lady at the information counter gladly instructed me how to reach the other terminal where the MRT Changi Airport Station is located. MRT in Singapore is a bit more complicated than in Bangkok as there are several lines. I carefully screened the map to check where I need to drop off. My friend Gly informed me I had to drop at City Hall, transfer to the other line and drop at Dhoby Ghaut station. From there, I can walk to my hotel.

The MRT ride is a bit slower than taking the taxi cos there are many stops and since I need to transfer it took more time. However, the ride is good. I get to see more of Singapore and the normal people’s way of life as well as get a lot of savings. My fare from airport to Dhoby Ghaut is less than SGD 3.00. Had I taken the taxi, maybe it will cost me about SGD 15-20. I checked-in at Hotel Rendezvous, a nice 4-Star Hotel with a very convenient location. The reception staff was very professional and helpful. Only thing is there is no luggage porter to help you go up to your room. Fortunately, I only have a light luggage. I was given a Junior Suite which is 1 category higher than the one I booked so I’m quite impressed with the arrangement. However, my happiness is a bit short lived when I realized the hotel does not provide complimentary drinking water. I have traveled in many places and stayed in many hotels and it is a basic free amenity in all the hotels I stayed. Later, my friend informed me maybe because water is so expensive in Singapore the reason why they charge the bottle of water in the room. To think the only available bottled water in my room is Evian which is way too expensive!

Since it was already 5PM my tummy is really complaining like crazy. Fortunately, just across the hotel, there is a hawker called Kopitian. I bought the Chicken Rice Meal because many people say the best Chicken Rice is in Singapore. However, after tasting I feel the chicken rice I usually buy in the streets of Bangkok are better. Or maybe because I did not try the Chicken Rice of the restaurant specializing in this food. After my very late lunch..I met my former colleagues and friend in Orchard Road and we have few bottles of beer, Chicken and Pizza, we headed to eat some desserts after dinner courtesy of Roel and Gly. I am so lucky they even game me some cheesecakes for take-away to the hotel.

Next day, Me, Mel (my long time friend since University time) and Boni my other good friend residing and working in SG went to Singapore Zoo. We were supposed to go to Sentosa but since Mel has an afternoon class (she is studying in Singapore), it is not convenient to go to Sentosa and stay there for 1 hour only considering the traffic was quite bad that day. Singapore Zoo is pretty much similar to Night Safari (which I enjoyed the last time I was in Singapore) but since it is daytime, it tend to be really hot even if the zoo has a lot of trees.

My next stop was shopping in Orchard specifically Lucky Plaza. In here, you can buy perfumes at a cheaper price (cheaper than in Manila or Bangkok I think). I was able to buy 4 bottles of perfume and my friend gave me another bottle as Birthday gift. Later on, I got another bottle from my former colleagues. How lucky can I get ayt? After dinner in my friend Boni’s house (which btw I cooked the Beef Caldereta as special request), we went to Dempsey Hill, the new watering hole in Singapore gaining popularity. Then proceeded to Esplanade, Merlion along Marina Bay and Fullerton Hotel.

Next day, I went to Sentosa Island with Mel. Pity that Resorts World Sentosa is not fully operational. Universal Studio is still not open but only the hotels in the complex. We take pictures in Hard Rock Hotel Singapore and I bought a Souvenir Shirt. Personally, I think Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya is better and the staff livelier and friendlier. The whole time we were in Hard Rock Singapore, not even 1 staff greeted us which is totally opposite Hard Rock Pattaya where you can feel the warmth and hospitality of the staff.



Since I am meeting another friend in the afternoon, I had to cut short getting around Sentosa. And it is very hot anyway so to avoid the discomfort we decided to go back to the city centre. I had my Bak Kuh Teh for the 2nd time after our brief Sentosa Island trip. That night, we strolled along St. James Powerstation which is also a popular place with lots of bars and restaurants. This complex is near Vivo City, Singapore’s biggest shopping mall.


The next day, we had a short trip to Johor Bahru, the neighboring Malaysian city of Singapore. JB as it is popularly known is teeming with Singaporeans mostly going there to refuel their car or do some shopping. I tasted some Malaysian food and I can say it is good especially their local desserts. Then I was able to buy a pair of Sta. Barbara Polo and Racquet Club shoe which is half the price off. Around dinner time, I proceeded to the airport for my flight back to Bangkok which again was on time courtesy of Air Asia.

As I reached Bangkok, I felt I’m back to my 2nd home..same familiar roads, sights and sounds. However, I cannot deny that my last Singapore trip was great. Though I travel alone, I did not feel bored at all. I have many friends who took good care of me. They are very generous as they don’t mind paying for some of the bills and even sent me gifts or souvenirs. But most important of all, they really spend time (some even took leave from work) just to meet me. I guess when you have dome something good, there will definitely a payback later.

Bangkok is an Expat’s Paradise…

Compared to many world capitals, Bangkok is one of the cheapest in terms of cost of living. When I say cheap, it doesn’t mean the quality is compromised because most of the time, I find the quality of food and products in Bangkok (or Thailand) to be acceptable. In fact, I consider Bangkok to be an Expat’s paradise. Of course, being an expat entails a lot of responsibilities or expectations. Otherwise, why will your company hire you if you cannot deliver. So this makes stress and time for relaxation and all those related activities a must in an Expat’s schedule.

In Bangkok, you can enjoy branded (or copy) designer labels at highly discounted price. Malls are literally on sale year-round. You just have to be patient and have a keen eye in finding the best bargain or sale price all over town. Copy goods are also A quality that’s why a lot of foreign tourists troop to Bangkok to buy these goods.

Last Saturday, my friends and I trooped to the annual ICC Fair. This fair has been attracting hundreds if not thousands of Thais for quite sometime because in here, you can buy hugely discounted designer brands like Lacoste, Nike, Adidas, Guy Laroche among others. Of course the most visited area is the Lacoste sale wherein discounts of up to 70% can be availed. Since this is my fave brand, I wasted no time to go to the venue and I was able to buy a pair of shoes, a bag and 2 caps. Unfortunately, the shirts left when we arrived are all L or XL American Sizes so I wasn’t able to buy 1 for me. Only thing when going thru this kind of fair compared to the usual Mall sale is that it is doubly hard for me cos not only should I brave the battalions of shoppers to get to the counter and ask for my size but also I had to attempt speaking in Thai so the sellers can understand me..It was a bit frustrating that after finally reaching the counter after “wrestling” it out with fellow shoppers is that the size I want is already “No Have” or they cannot understand what I’m trying to say…Damn, I really have to improve my Thai language skills. Please allow me to brag about my shoe in this blog..hehehe.


Another factor why I consider Bangkok to be a paradise for an Expat like me is because you can enjoy a wide variety of food at a cheap price. Take for instance a set of meal in popular Japanese Restaurant like Fuji or Zen. A normal bento set range approx. 150-250 per set which includes Soup and Salad. During lunch, the set includes hot coffee or tea even! In Manila, if you eat in similar restaurant, you probably would pay min. 250 Pesos to almost 400 Pesos per set. That is precisely the reason why I can only often eat in Komorosoba (SM Megamall) or Tokyo Tokyo and rarely in Saisaki. LOL.


I also find Apartment or Condo rental cheaper if compared to Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai and other cities. A normal studio type apartment would cost between 5,000-8,000 baht and would slightly go higher if the condo has swimming pool or other facilities. Of course it depends on the location. A typical apartment in Sukhumvit or Silom area would be much more expensive but still cheaper if compared to other cities I previously mentioned. I heard that if you rent apartment near the outskirts of Bangkok, studio units would even be less than 3,000 baht. Only thing is that you have to travel farther going to and from the office. It can even be less if you share the room with another person. All Filipinos that I know who are working in Bangkok are either staying alone or sharing with 1 or 2 (maybe max. 3 persons) per unit. This is definitely better than fellow Filipinos working in Singapore or Middle East wherein they have to share the flat with up to 10 persons.

Domestic travel is also not a pain in one’s budget. Few months ago, me and a few of my colleagues went to Cha-Am and Hua Hin which is a popular weekend destination for Bangkokians due to its proximity to the city (approx. 2 hours from Bangkok). We actually maximized that 2 Days/1 Night trip. We left Bangkok very early in the morning, went to a local market to buy food and dessert, eat Buffet lunch then head to the Resort. At night, we went to Hua Hin market for some more shopping and eating. The following day, after checking out of the hotel, we had a very big Buffet Seafood lunch then do some more shopping of sweets and some souvenir along the way. In total since we shared cost, I only spend not more than 2,000 Baht including all the food, sweets, transportation and hotel accommodation. This is similar to other cities the reason why many backpackers from Europe or US just fly to Thailand without any pre-arranged tours or accommodation and they just stay in guest houses, ride local transport and eat local food in the roadside.

There are definitely more factors why Bangkok is an Expat’s paradise over the examples I’ve written above. This could be the reason why the number of Expatriates in Thailand is increasing year by year. Of course the number is not as high as that of Singapore or Dubai wherein a big chunk of their workforce are foreigners. However, I’ll not be surprised if soon more and more Expatriates will consider working here…

The fury of Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana)

I am sure by now many of us already know what happened to Metro Manila and nearby areas on the fateful day of 26 September 2009. Typhoon Ondoy (International Name: Ketsana) claimed the lives of over 200 people (and counting) because of torrential rains said to have produced a month’s worth of rainfall in just 6 hours. Typhoons and tropical depressions are common in the Philippine islands because of its geographical location which is within the typhoon and earthquake belt so a typical Typhoon like Ondoy should not cause too much of a panic compared to previous Super Typhoons and since Manila was declared to have only public storm signal no. 1 (the lowest typhoon warning).

The rain poured heavily and non-stop most of the day last Saturday. By noon, many areas are already flooded. Few hours more, the waters are getting higher and many areas which have not experienced flooding ever saw nature’s fury on that day. Metro Manila and Rizal province was literally a water world so to speak.

My family has been living in Marikina for almost 3 decades now. The city became popular in several occasions: 1.) It always hugs the news whenever heavy rains or strong storm pass by the country due to the fact that the city is actually located in a Valley being surrounded by higher areas like Quezon City, Antipolo, Cainta, San Mateo 2.) There was a fear amongst all residents when many years ago experts says Marikina is sitting in a major earthquake fault line so there is a big chance a major earthquake will struck anytime in this area and so many property owners try to sell their house or lot out of these fear. 3.) There were several cases of rape+homicide of pretty ladies which made Marikina look like a dangerous place to live in. Seems Marikina has full of bad publicity because of natural or human threat.

On the contrary, these news were wiped out because…3.) Marikina has been a role-model amongst cities in the Metro and the whole Philippines by winning many awards for the clean & green, river restoration, zoning projects and efficient crime prevention by the local government. Marikina become an ideal place to live. The city is almost always in competition with Puerto Princesa City, Palawan which also boasts of natural beauty and efficiency in local governance. Marikina was even dubbed the “Singapore of Philippines” because of its cleanliness and orderliness which has been a source of pride to all of us Marikenos.

And once again, Marikina my beloved city hit the news big time. It is really sad if not heart-breaking to see the news and videos of the extensive destruction to life and property that Typhoon Ondoy brought us. Marikina River suddenly looked like a sea because it swell so big. Provident Village a semi-exclusive village located near the banks of the river I believe has the most casualties in terms of lives and properties.

Our Home in Marikina which was lovingly and painstakingly built and maintained by my parents  since 1982 is now a disaster. Sure, the structure is still there but all the appliances, furniture, clothes and important documents are all wet and covered with mud and unfortunately cannot be of any use at this point. Our village has not experienced heavy flooding for many years now due to the improvement in drainage system and prompt garbage collection. As far as I know, the heaviest flooding we encountered has only reached the front of our gates (which is equivalent to waist deep water already) and never hit our garage, much more inside our house. But on Saturday, the water just flowed relentlessly into our humble abode and in the process tumbling big appliances and furniture. Our car was stucked in the road as well and submerged in flood water because according to my Mom, they just went to the wet market to buy the usual weekly food stock and are unable to go back home because the flood rose very fast and there was heavy traffic on the way back home. To put it in detail, they got wet more than they’ve expected.

Above all of these things that happened, I thank God so much because the destruction is only on our property, not lives of any member of my family or relatives. Surely, it will be very tough for us cos we have to start building our lives all over again but we can rebuild it as a family. What will be more difficult and unbearable is the thought of losing someone that way and totally unprepared. I was so anxious Saturday and Sunday after I learned about the disaster since I cannot contact anyone from my family or relatives through mobile phone or landline and at that point, I am clueless as to my family’s situation. I am just so glad to have finally contacted them yesterday and talked to them lengthy on phone.

I was watching various YouTube videos as well as news clip from GMA News and ABS-CBN and I really can’t help but feel very sorrowful on different experiences of people who had been to that tough situation.

One woman was crying her heart out because she lost several relatives including children. One of her family members tried helping others but at the end lost his own life. The lady said yes it is good to know the person did not die in vain and even became a hero because of saving other lives but it will be very difficult for them to accept the sudden death. Moreover, when they tried asking for help, no one can help them because of the extreme weather condition. This cost the death of 2 children who could have become an inspiring president or an excellent doctor in the future but have gone too soon.

Another man who is a company messenger cannot help but cry because he saw the Desktop computer he gave his child as a gift being destroyed by the flood. He said it took him very long time to purchase the computer even have to loan the money to buy but now the equipment is just a piece of garbage. One good thing I saw in him is his positive outlook that despite all their properties are lost and he admit nothing he can do anymore because it happened so soon, he still has faith in God and he believe it will all come to pass.

(To Apollo, you can see the video of the Man and the child whose computer was broken in this link sorry, dunno how to upload video not coming from YouTube in my blog. Hope you will find a way to donate a computer to them as you have intended. God bless you) : http://www.gmanews.tv/video/48395/after-floods-residents-now-deal-with-muds-in-metro-manila-nearby-provinces

Indeed at this time, all we can do is Help and Pray. Help all victims anyway we can through donations or whatever support we can extend. More importantly we need to pray. Pray for God’s mercy… Pray that it will not happen again… Pray that the human casualties will no longer increase… Pray for the salvation of the lives that were lost..Pray for healing of memories of all people who had gone through this bad experience.

I was told by my Mom that my young niece and nephew seemed traumatized by the incident. When they saw the flood going inside their home last Saturday, they cried and embraced their Dad (my brother) tightly for comfort. Then the next day when it started to rain again, they told my brother that they are scared cos it’s raining again…I really hope they will forget this harrowing experience very fast.

God bless my family and loved ones.. God Bless the Philippines.