Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wednesday Movie Guide

Ironman is finally here in Davao particularly at SM City Cinema 1. (I just checked with NCCC Cinema and they have it too --- they have new theaters, new seats!) I'm excited to see Robert Downey in that gold and red hit-tech suit to fight crime. Downey is Tony Stark, a billionaire industrialist and weapons maker who was captured by terrorists in the Middle East. He dons the suit and becomes Ironman to protect the very people who have been victimized by the weapons he created. It also stars Gwyneth Paltrow, a very talented actress who starred in unforgettable movies like Shakespeare in Love.

As a promotional gimmick for the movie, an LG IronMan 18 karat gold phone has been released. The phone, which is worth $2000 is not available anywhere but only at the IronMan website. That is, if you are lucky enough to win their contest.

Well, you can buy cheap IronMan memorabilia at Jollibee Just buy the Kiddie Meal and choose from the IronMan watch, game, notebook and shades.

IronMan GP
SM Cinema 1 11:05/1:30/4:00/6:30/9:00
NCCC Cinema 2 12:00/2:30/5:00/7:30/10:00

SM Cinema 2 11:50/1:40/3:30/5:20/7:10

When Love Begins
SM Cinema 3 & 4 11:25/1:20/3:15/5:10/7:05

Davao Businessman Eyeing Investors For P15M Cable Ski Park

Campo Agua: future site of cable wakeboarding facility in Mindanao

Campo Agua in Sirawan, Toril, Davao City may just become the venue of Mindanao’s first cable wakeboarding facility if the vision of owner and manager Kenneth Valderama is realized.

“We are looking for investors who would be willing to invest at least P15 million for the construction of a cable wakeboarding park here in Toril either on a BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) scheme or other method,” Valderama said. He said he already has the land but an investor is needed to provide the equipment.

The Valderamas own a 13-hectare property right where Campo Agua Resort is located but the latter only occupies about 2.4 hectares. Of the total land used, 400 square meters have been allotted for the pool, 2 hectares for the fish ponds, 3,000 square meters for the boating lagoon and some space for the crocodile farm.

Campo Agua Resort is being marketed as an interactive water playground for kids with open slides, tunnels, mushroom showers, water hydrants which can be controlled by the kids and spray boardwalks. The area development started way back in 1999 but the restaurant and the resort was built only in 2002.

The resort already offers lots of activities for parents and children aside from swimming. They can go fishing and have their catch cooked by the restaurant for a minimal fee. The fish will also have to be weighed in and paid per kilo.

“We also sell hito (both fingerlings and the table sizes) for those who want to start their own hito farms; the fingerlings are priced at P2 to P5 per fingerling (which can take four to five months before they become table sizes ready for frying or roasting),” he said.

While the resort is doing great and is becoming a favorite spot not only for swimming but also for those who want to have their birthday or other parties in a resort, he said he still wants to expand and make it a center of entertainment for Dabawenyos and even for the whole of Mindanao.

Valderama’s passion is however to see the place transformed into a tourist destination through the construction of a cable wakeboard facility. “Grabe ang hatak sa mga foreigners ng mga ganitong lugar so it will really be feasible for those who will invest in it,” he said.

What was known worldwide before was only wakeboarding which is a sport that required a person (who is attached to a skateboard-like board called well, a wakeboard) to be pulled by a boat and allowed to ski in the water. Cable wakeboarding on the other hand, is also wakeboarding but this time, the person does not require a boat but an overhead cable system.

Cable wakeboarding has been considered a favorite sport and hobby by foreigners for a long time now. However, this extreme sport became famous in the Philippines only recently, thanks to movie star and cable wakeboarding aficionado Aga Mulach who included some cable wakeboarding shots in one of his recent films.

The Philippines is not however a stranger to cable wakeboarding since it has two cable wakeboarding facilities located in Cadlan, Pili, Camarines Sur (CamSur Watersports Complex) and in Balibago, Calatagan (Lago de Oro). There are more than 140 cable wakeboarding facilities worldwide, 60 of which are found in Germany. The two facilities are raking in dollars and pesos thanks to the local and foreign tourist arrivals.

The Department of Tourism is always on the lookout for the establishment of new tourism products for Davao and for Mindanao. This is one private sector initiative that deserves support from the government.

With an improved peace and order condition in the area plus a lot of push, Valderama’s dream of seeing a cable wakeboard facility right in Campo Agua’s location may become a reality sooner than he thinks.(published, THE EDGE, April 2008)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Lord Of The Wings

Filipinos are known for their creativity. If you have seen the Harry Cutter barber shop or the Mang Donald's burger then chances are you are quick to recognize name brands that have been localized by Pinoy's. Here's one of them along Toril.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Church And A Close Mindset

Will the church keep its word that it will not give the sacrament of Holy Communion to the Davao City councilors who voted YES to the Local Development Plan for Children during last Tuesday's sessions? For sure, no councilor would be brave enough to prove the church's claim by attending mass.

But come to think of it, is the church's proclamation rational? Is it based on clear thinking or were they just misled? During the 3rd reading of the resolution, councilor Angela Librado said she could not find any of the allegations hurled by the church against the LDPC. Archbishop Capalla was invited during the committee hearings but unfortunately, he failed to attend. Was that because the matter was insignificant to the archbishop? Or could it perhaps signify the closed mindedness of the church represented by the archbishop?

Davao City may be considered as one of the most livable cities in Asia but poverty and child problems are mounting. Look around and even in your neighborhood you can see lots of children who have been left behind to fend for themselves. Parents are lining up to get cheap, if not free rice to feed their growing family. And yet the church says population growth is not the problem but the distribution of resources.

I agree. But shouldn't we look at this on all fronts? And solve this on all fronts?

After the session I was able to interview a doctor who is against the LDPC. She said "they do not know the issue; is population a problem? Hindi naman ah!" Data however shows that the Philippines is already Top 12 in the

Librado claims this is not all about promoting pre-marital sex or promiscuity or abortion. The church however refuses to believe that. But what is wrong with teaching people to plan their families the best way they can? Using contraceptives does not make women whores or irresponsible. Natural family planning or whatever, it is their choice. The use of contraceptives is a choice that should be left to the couple, not the church; not the government because neither will feed hungry mouths that will start to line up once the couple start to go and multiply...

Will, I too be prohibited from taking the Sacraments because of this?

Society And Media Influence

Are your choices being influenced by the media and by the society? The media is a very potent medium of changing mindsets. Just take the case of tri-media advertisement (or should I say quad-media including the Internet?) which promotes and sells products. Constant bombardment to certain products and ideas are bound to influence your choices sooner or later.

How about the society? How often do you rely on your friend's recommendation even on simple things like soap or even the food you eat? Examine your life. Examien you choices. Then decide how your life is being run by society and by the media.

Rediscovering Song Writing And Suzanne Vega

I have always liked the songs of Suzanne Vega but that was a long, long time ago when I still had the luxury of listening to my favorite CDs. One of her songs which really made an indelible mark in my subconscious is "Luka". My interpretation of the song is of an abused child or an abused woman. What would you conclude with this lyrics..."they only hit until you cry, after that you don't ask why; you dont' argue anymore.."

I lost my Luka CD but then the song remained. Several years forward. I was reading the New York Times earlier when I saw Suzanne Vega's column "Measure for Measure--How To Write A Song And Other Mysteries". I did not know until now that aside from being the voice behind her songs, she was also the writer and the composer. And I was right, the inspiration behind the song is a neighbor, a boy who was not really abused but was queer or just different from the other kids.

I found a commonality between Suzanne and me, knowing that she composed her own songs and that she is now a columnist of the NYT. I used to compose songs while in College and even became one of the 10 finalists in the Awitenista. However, Suzanne wrote the melody first then the lyrics. My method was different. I write the lyrics and the words first to go with the melody then a friend who knows how to get the chords will do the rest. But like me, she also did not know how to read chords.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Braga Blames Land Conversion, Imports For Scarcity Of Rice

Councilor Pilar Braga yesterday blamed land conversion from agriculture to housing and industrial use and the continued importation of rice as the culprits behind the present rice shortage in the country. However, she clarified that there is no rice shortage, only a rice-land shortage.

Braga also blamed the government's stance in discouraging people from becoming farmers by "discouraging agriculture as a way of life" leading to the closure of farming and agricultural schools in the country.

This reminded me of that time several years ago when the entry of the University of the Philippines in Mindanao is still being debated and protested by various universities here saying the state-financed university will only duplicate the existing courses being offered by the Mindanao institutions.

The defense of UP then was that they will offer different courses to differentiate itself to the other institutions. Several years later, UPMindanao is offering almost the same courses being offered by the other institutions like SocSci, Mathematics, Architecture, etc. Perhaps, introducing courses that are being offered by UP Los Baños will help in making sure that the country will produce better farmers in the years to come.

However, at the rate UPMindanao is going where politicking is a way of life and administrative officers are changed one after the other this may still be a long wait.

Davao City Council Approves Local Dev't. Plan For Children

The city government voted 18 to 4 to approve the Davao City Local Development Plan for Children despite a warning and an appeal from Archbishop Fernando Capalla. In a pastoral letter, Capalla warned the councilors that exerting moral pressure on their subordinates to adopt the LDPC "may create public scandal and thereby making themselves openly unworthy to receive the Sacraments."

The resolution to adopt the LDPC is authored by councilor Angela Librado who tried to combat the allegations made by the oppositors of the resolution led by religious groups. Capalla said LDPC is "dangerous and detrimental" because it is in the guise of reproductive health and safe pregnancy and it:

  • mocks parental authority

  • belittles the value of family

  • denigrates the virtue of chastity

  • makes available all contraceptives to children from 0 to 18 years old

  • promotes pre-marital sex and promiscuity

  • Librado however said she does not know where the Archbishop got his information because nowhere in the several pages of the resolution can she find the alleged matters. She said on the contrary, the resolution aims to promote better parental authority and guidance. The city council will by any means approve a resolution that promotes abortion and promiscuity.

    Vice mayor Sara Duterte prevented all efforts to delay voting on the resolution saying Capalla was invited during the committee hearings but he did not come and instead sent a representative so it could not be said that the church was not part of the consultation process.

    Duterte said the approval of the resolution just proved the separation of the church and state.

    Monday, April 14, 2008

    No Rice Shortage In RP

    Is there a rice shortage in the Philippines? Answering this question can be tricky. Rice shortage means the supply of rice is not enough to feed the population. if this is your definition of rice shortage then there is no rice shortage in the Philippines because there is plenty of rice supply both local and imported. However, the answer should not stop there.

    While sustainable agriculture should be looked into by the Arroyo government to avoid a rice shortage from really happening in the future, it should go deeper and look into the cause of the seemingly rice shortage in the country. There is no rice shortage. However, you can bet your breakfast that the price of rice is really skyrocketing and this is the problem.

    The price of every commodity in the country is rising but the spending power of the Filipinos is running the opposite direction. Ideally, a directly proportional increase between the price of goods and the spending power of the people will not result to a rice shortage. The problem is, the rise in the price of rice is inversely proportional with wage.

    Look at all the poor families lining up to get NFA rice. There is enough rice supply but not enough to lower the price of rice. Rule of Economics. If there is great demand with less supply, price will go up. If there is great demand but with ample supply then price will remain stable. If the Filipino have enough money to fill their pockets then there wouldn't be families lining up to get their day's supply of NFA rice. They would rather go to SM or wherever their pockets will lead them

    In the end, it is still a problem of the Filipinos being too poor.

    Saturday, April 12, 2008

    Writers' Strike

    When America sneezes, the whole world catches a cold. This has been proven time and again with the changing economic status of the Philippines everytime the dollar moves. However, the influence wielded by the US of A has also been proven during the long writers' strike when Filipinos got lost lookign for their favorite imported TV shows.

    Friday, April 11, 2008

    McDonalds Now In Digos City

    If McDonalds is an indicator of a promising economy (since a franchise costs millions and no one will invest in a place where he coudl not get his ROI) then Digos City has arrived. Passed by the city last weekend and there it was---the proverbial junkie outlet which is patronized by a lot of people--McDonald's.
    Jollibee has been in Digos for years now so McDonald's will be a refreshing change for those who have gotten tired of seeing the busy bee.

    This is a bad shot but I was rushing since I did not expect to see this one. Unfortunately it was already difficult to stop and get photos since we were in a hurry and we did not want to cause a traffic.

    Sta. Cruz' Thriving Wood Industry: Buying A Sungka

    If you had the chance to pass along Sta. Cruz highway going to Digos, Davao del Sur then you must have seen the various woodworking stalls located just beside the road. You may have noticed the intricate furniture being displayed in the bigger stores but what catches the eye, even of a local (much more foreigners) are the various wood works shaped that are left hanging in the stalls just several feet from the highway.

    Check it out because most of the woodworks are very practical for home use especially the lechon server (that's the wood shaped like a pig). How many times have you ordered a lechon for a home party and then rushed to the nearby store to buy some boards? With the lechon wood server, you are assured of a regular container for your fare everytime there is a party or a gathering in your home or office where the starring role goes to what else, but a pig.

    There are also fish-shaped wood servers which can be used for sinugbang isda and that is a common fare in every Filipino table. The wooden dikdikan or bayuhan is also useful in the kitchen.

    However, what got my attention was the sungka. I played sungka as a kid and wondered why kids nowadays prefer the PS2 and other online games that can just turn them into morons and zombies. Sorry for those who play the PS2 and other online games but this is backed by research which shows that children who play computers all the time not only become obese and lazy but also stupid and unable to perform well in school

    What is nice about sungka is the fact that it allows you to interact with another person. It can also teach you a thing or two about mathematics. We used shells or stones before but marbles will do. Each hole is filled with stones and the player who gets the most number of stones in his house (that's the bigger holes on both sides) wins.

    Sungka, along with patintero, buwan-buwan and step-no and even siyatong are considered traditional Filipino games that every kid should try if only to get a feel of what it was like when there were no PS2, computer games, DVDs and whatever technology you have lording it over your homes right now.

    Wednesday, April 9, 2008

    Road To Gensan Now Better

    The road to General Santos City is undergoing repair and maintenance but it is definitely better now. Motorists from Digos City will however have to take a detour because the bridge connecting Guihing and Digos City is totally unpassable and all vehicles have to take the long way by going right into Guihing proper.

    If not for the damaged bridge I would have surmised that the government is just showing off the newly constructed bridge inside Guihing. Funny though because construction of the Guihing project has not yet started and there is as yet no sign that there are preliminary works being done except perhaps for the road signs.

    Gensan and South Cotabato has come a long way from being just a dusty city somewhere in the south. Aside from its tuna, pineapple and asparagus exports, the city is starting to become a financial hub with its own share of malls like Gaisano Mall and KCC. However, unless mayor Pedro Acharon finds a way to solve the peace and order problem of the city, it may be relegated to the sidelines.

    Yamaha Launches Apparel Line At SM City Davao

    Yamaha, the company famous for its motorcycle line is launching their apparel line during a six-day exhibit being held at the SM City Davao from April 8 to April 13. The exhibit is dubbed as the "Yamaha Evolution: Feel the Excitement 2008".

    The exhibit features the Yamaha Motor Show, the Yamaha Experience (showing off their latest big bikes), the Yamaha Experience (test riding, student riding) , Special Events which includes the Bamboo Kitty Girls and a Trial Bike Show.

    Here's a line-up of the event:

    April 8-13-Yamaha Motor Show-Atrium
    April 8-13-Yamaha Experience-Parking Lot
    April 12-Special Events-Parking Lot C
    April 12-Trial Bike Show

    Monday, April 7, 2008

    What's Your News?

    Just came back from a very short vacation in General Santos City and here I am cramming for a thousand and one blogging and writing responsibilities that have been pending since last week. How about you, what's your news? Got to hurry!

    Friday, April 4, 2008

    Unionbank Explanation On PayPal Fiasco Illogical

    I am still uncomfortable with my PayPal deposits via Unionbank because of the discrepancy that happened just this week. The amount which appeared in my account record is way below the expected amount withdrawn from Paypal. However, what is more disconcerting are the events following my written email to Unionbank about the discrepancy which has remained unanswered up to now.

    My mistake. I did not get a printscreen of the transaction. When I checked back, the P1,900 something wrongly deposited to my account disappeared. What more? The transaction fiasco itself disappeared from the online transaction box like Houdini's Magic.

    After hounding the bank staff she agreed to connect me to the 1-800-188882277-not-so-hot-hotline and after several attempts we were able to talk to the operator who lo and behold! said she was seeing my accounts and the transactions I made and there was no transaction reflecting the P1, 900 deposit made to my account nor the transaction withdrawing the same amount from my account. So was I lying to myself and to her just so I can make a blog entry out of it? Whew!

    The customer rep said that at the time I complained about the questionable transaction they were still updating the system and maybe my account has not yet been updated. Well, I am no bank term genius but what I understand from an un-updated account is an account that is supposed to show the exact money I had before any transaction has been made. So why was there an update, meaning I got a new deposit?

    She insisted that my account has not yet been updated that time and when I told her again about the wrong amount appearing there, she kept on repeating that same keyword phrase that would have landed first page in Google due to repetition.

    I was stupid enough not to get a printscreen of that transaction so the next time any of these happen to you make sure you get a printscreen so you have some form of evidence when they deny everything.

    Davao Bloggers Welcomes Summer With Campo Agua Resort Tour

    So what happens when Davao Bloggers meet up?

    Food, fun and photo-ops but not necessarily in that order. It's my first time to join the Davao Bloggers group and proved that I was normal. I always carry my Canon Powershot A540 (nakakahiya itabi sa Super Pogi na EOS ni Jojie) with me wherever I go and I take photos of everything; even the food at home I have to take photos of first before they are allowed to eat. Now I know there is nothing abnormal about me because it was lunchtime already and Campo Agua's crunchy and mouth-watering deep-fried tilapia and hito were already beckoning to our stomachs but the guys were completely unmindful and proceeded with photo-ops! Well, perhaps, that was a strategy because once the eating started everything was going, going, gone....

    Campo Agua is hands down a kiddie resort and nothing beats the kids market. It boasts of an interactive water playground with water hydrants that kids can control just like they were sailors. For those who have the pleasure of meditating while waiting for the fishes to catch the bait then the 2-hectare fishing ground of the place will entertain them for hours.

    The Valderamas also have a crocodile farm, with 300 crocodiles in the farm being fattened in preparation for breeding but no worries but the farm is far away and they don't eat humans for lunch (how about dinner?)

    Campo Agua is a favorite place for my family. Sometimes, we just go there to swim since the pool is safe for kids and much more for adults who do not know how to swim. What more, it is really fun and provides several hours of bonding for family and friends. I keep coming back for the kinilaw na bangus though--so yummy and I even started making it at home but nothing beats eating kinilaw na bangus at Campo Agua thanks to the relaxing ambiance of the place.

    Kenneth Valderama, the accommodating owner of Campo Agua, said he has more plans for Campo Agua but that's another story which you should watch out for at The Edge (Davao's newest business newspaper) next week.

    I think this is my first time to go on a location interview ever since I started my home-based business and career three years ago and it's fun thanks to long-time pal Jojie (who is very good not only in layouting, T-shirt printing, photography, etc.etc...pero secret land ha---magaling mag breakdance si jojie ha!ha!) and the rest of the Davao Bloggers ----Blogie, Migs, Andrew, Winston, Dominique, Chikai and Maria. Did I miss anyone?

    Off To Campo Agua Resort For Bloggers Tour

    It's final! I'm joining the Bloggers Tour of Campo Agua in Sirawan, Toril today. Called up Jojie (who's organizing the tour along with Blogie) yesterday and confirmed the arrangements. I'm still here blogging though since i'll just meet the group at the resort while they will all be meeting at Jojie and Rhonson's studio at MTS at 9AM.

    I've been to Campo Agua a lot of times and I have always enjoyed my stay there. Even the whole family enjoyed not only swimming but also eating the sumptuous dishes and fishing! We are usually the first people there arriving at 7Am and we are the last---leaving at 6PM. That's how nice the place is especially for those bringing kids with them.

    Jojie said the kinilaw na tilapia is yummy but I haven't tasted it yet---tried their kinilaw na bangus though and I got hooked it is now a regular fare in the house. I was trying to get all my photos of Campo Agua (one of which came out in Working Mom with Brylle and his dad on the photo) but can't seem to find any no matter how I rummaged through my CDs and all so I am using Jojie's beautiful and scenic photo of the resort.

    Tuesday, April 1, 2008

    Unionbank Where Did My Money Go?

    "Don't make me angry, you won't like me when I'm angry" might as well be the slogan Unionbank for clients who complain a lot and i belong to that group. Huhuhuhuhu. It has been two hours since I emailed Unionbank about the discrepancy in my PayPal withdrawal and when I checked out just now, even the P1,900 they deposited to my account is gone! waaaaaahhhhh.....And not even a word as to what happened! And by the way, I sure would like to tell Unionbank to shove their 1-800-1888-2277 number on their ---wherever---since up to now, I still can't access the supposedly HOTLINE customer care.

    Unionbank's PayPal Bloopers

    Is Unionbank efficient enough to handle PayPal remittances, not only for its debit cards but also for savings accounts?

    This question did not accidentally enter my mind. I just had a very bad experience with Unionbank's PayPal remittance services. It may be called a minor blooper in the ordinary world but for a bank as big as Unionbank (who may be handling millions of dollars and accounts for its clients) this is not only a blooper but it speaks bad about how it handles its accounts---big or small.

    I was waiting for my PayPal withdrawal of $196.19 so I kept on checking my online account with Unionbank. Funny but when I checked this morning only P1,905.81 was reflected. Either the peso-dollar rate has plunged to P10 per dollar or Unionbank committed a booboo in its data entry. I was just watching TV earlier to check the business news so I know the peso-dollar rate is P41.80 to a dollar. Which means Unionbank's data entry personnel or teller or whoever the hell is in charge of converting dollar remittances to peso is grossly inefficient.

    To make matters worse, I called up the Victoria Branch and asked for the error to be rectified but the lady merely told me to call their toll free number as they cannot do anything about this. PERIOD! I may have lost it somewhere along the internet while cruising but isn't customer service also a part of the bank's local branches' commitment?

    And to rub it in, I called up the 1-800-1888-2277 (which I memorized and can recall even while I am asleep) is always busy. I managed to get in after dialling 20 times (or more!) but a stupid recording on the other line says: "sorry, all our customer representatives are busy.....". I waited until the recording got tired and the line went pfffttt.. So I dialed again and got the busy tone.

    There goes the hotline that's not so hot after all...

    Sending money through rural banks now cheaper with blockchain

    Sending money anywhere in the Philippines is now a lot easier thanks to the various money remittance centers like Palawan Express, Cebuana ...