Sunday, April 29, 2012

Film Review: "Busong"

By Chanda Shahani

This writer watched “Busong” last April 21 at an exclusive screening of the multi-awarded film at the Shang Cineplex from April 18 to 24.

"Busong," which was shown commercially for the first time and exclusively at the Shang Cineplex, is directed by Auraeus Solito. The film was also selected for the Directors’ Fortnight section of the Cannes Film Festival and has been nominated and won prestigious awards in various film festivals including the Brussels International Independent Film Festival, the Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival, the Philippines Golden Screen Awards and the Star Awards for Movies.

Auraeus, who is known for his award-winning film Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros, says that Busong was inspired by the stories his mother used to tell him. “She told me stories of a world nobody knew of, that was magical and pure. It was about her hometown of Puring at the end of Southern Palawan,” he shares. The first of the indie filmmaker’s Palawan trilogy, the film stars Alessandra de Rossi (photo), who has won acting awards for her outstanding performances in independent and mainstream films.

Busong is the indigenous Palawanon concept of Fate or instant Karma. What you do to nature, you do to yourself. Nature does you harm when you harm it.  Nature does you good when you respect it.

Punay was born with wounds in her feet. Her brother, Angkadang, carries her with a hammock. Different people help him carry his sister as he travels and searches the changing landscape of Palawan in hoping to find a healer who can heal Punay of her wounds- a woman who lost husband; a fisherman looking for his boat; and a young man who finds himself.

The film is divided into three landscapes in Palawan, an island on the southwestern area of the Philippines: Forest, Sea and Mountain. In the forest they meet Ninita who helps Angkadang carry Punay. Ninita relates her story of how she searched for her husband Tony in the forest through the sound of his chainsaw. Ninita’s husband is an illegal logger who cut the sacred Amugis tree, which falls on him. Ninita brings his body to the healer Claring who succeeds in bringing him back to life for a while but he eventually dies in Ninita’s arms. Ninita’s husband has met his Busong. Angkadang asks Ninita to bring them to Claring.

They see the islet of Minan Claring but it is high tide, and they cannot swim the sea because the salt water will hurt Punay’s wounds. They meet the fisherman Lulong who has lost his boat…and his son is missing too! He helps Angkadang and Punay and tells them his story, how his boat was confiscated when he fished in a private area. He and his son, Toti, were left in the middle of a sandbar. It is good that Lulong knows the secret name of the stonefish so he and his son are protected from the poisonous fish as they cross the sandbar. The foreign owner of the fishing area that once belonged to the Palawan people, who humiliates him and takes his boat, steps on a stonefish, meeting his Busong.

When Angkarang and Punay reach the islet of Minan Claring, she says that she cannot heal Punay and suggests that they climb the highest mountain of Palawan, the Mantalingahan range where the great healers live. On their way there they meet a young modern man, Aris, who was a shaman’s apprentice. He was told he could not become a shaman. But as Punay sees a mountain bleeding from a nickel mine, Aris heals her wounds and transforms them into butterflies.

 While beautifully rendered, with many stunning scenes of the varied and pristine landscape of Palawan, I could not but help feel that the film mostly catered to the European love of mysticism and primitivism. If you wanted to win an international award, this is precisely the kind of film that you would produce. However the symbolism derived from the word, “Busong,” which is “fate,” draws a compelling story and acts as a kind of latter day Palaweño morality tale saying that those who cross unspoken boundaries of respect for others and of Mother Nature are sure to meet their busong. In this regard, the film is timeless and yet quintessentially Filipino.

Scarborough Shoal NOT Philippines’ says Taipei Times

Even Taipei journalists think that Scarborough Shoal is not a property of the Philippine Islands. Taiwan, considered by mainland China as one of its provinces, has proclaimed to the world in 1947 that it is the real government of all of China. In the past few years, it has continued to adhere to this claim. With mainland China being more powerful than the Taiwanese government, the people in these parts should be on the side of the Filipinos. However based on one Taiwanese reporter’s opinion, Scarborough Shoal is not a part of the Philippines but of China’s. This of course is understandable if one reads about the history of Taiwan and their claim of being the true Chinese seat of power based in their constitution drafted in the year 1946.

Cheng Hurng-yu of Taipei Times wrote a review of the published paper from the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) regarding its position on Bajo de Masinloc and the areas (waters to be more specific) within its vicinity. The paper contains legal arguments from the side of the Philippines to prove its claim on Scarborough Shoal.

Hurng-yu may have a point though because in the said paper, the Philippines abandoned its UN Convention on the Laws of the Seas argument –an argument it used for its claim for Spratly Islands-that same argument that mainland China is not willing to consider. Instead of referring to UNCLOS, the Philippine DFA argued that Scarborough Shoal is a part of the province of Zambales and has been in the Philippine Map since Spanish times. If one does his or her research however, the general map for Las Islas Filipinas first published in the year 1899 does not specify the island in dispute as an island belonging to the Philippines. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Diliman Diary Blog 04/28/2012 Philippines Vs. China: The Hackers’ Round

Chinese hackers defaced a number of Philippine websites including that of the University of the Philippines. After this online attack however, a group of Philippine hackers retaliated and reportedly shut down over 15 websites in China. Although the attack done by the Chinese leaves a sour taste in every Filipino’s mouth, it is still deemed as harmless bullying.

According to a cyber forensic analyst, the fact that the Chinese government controls internet access in China is not helping in making the heated dispute for Scarbourough Shoal any better. Drexx Laggui, a cyber consultant for the Philippine government in an interview with one of the major news agencies in the Philippines said, “Tingin ko organisado ito”.

This however is not the main event and like in boxing matches, fans await the big fight. Hopefully though the big fight won’t happen because it threatens peace in the country and may even make our neighbors more worried about what China is planning to do.

Photo via

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Doctor Love: Losing faith in love? Why you shouldn't

By Sigrid Salucop

Lost faith in love? Here are a few of the saddest yet most touching love stories of all time –let’s hope though that these won’t happen to you unless there’s a happily ever after involved. (Afraid you’d have to deal with yet another summary of Romeo & Juliet? Fear not, you won’t find the story of those teenagers here).

Heloise & Abelard

Photo via amolife

"Perhaps by mingling my sighs with yours I may make your sufferings less, for it is said that all sorrows divided are made lighter."  

          ~Heloise to Abelard in one of her letters to the monk

This love story involves that of a nun and a monk whose poignant love letters to each other became world famous and later on published as a book. In 1100, Pierre Abelard decided to study at Notre Dame in Paris. Being an outstanding philosopher and teacher later on, Abelard was hired by the canon of Notre Dame himself to tutor his niece Heloise. The two fell in love (Heloise and Abelard not the canon and Abelard) and Heloise conceived a child. They later married in secret but this love affair didn’t have a happy ending in sight. Thinking that Abelard would runaway and not marry Heloise, the canon sent men to castrate Abelard and forced Heloise to retire to a convent.[1]

Pierre Abelard became a monk and devoted the rest of his days to learning while Heloise decided to become a nun. Their misfortune did not stop them from loving each other and this love was shown through their letters. They met once again and for the last time during a ceremony in Paris. But what happened to their child? Heloise conceived a son and named him Astrolabe. He was only mentioned a few times in their letters and there are no other accounts as to what happened to the boy. Six hundred years later, Napoleon’s wife Josephine read about the story of Heloise and Abelard. Moved by their story, Josephine asked her husband that the remains of the couple be entombed together in Paris. To this day, Pere Lachaise Cemetery is still visited by lovers from the world over.

Odysseus & Penelope

Odysseys & Penelope, Oil on Canvas by Francesco Primaticcio 

Loving someone means you might have to sacrifice a few things. No other couple in history understands the meaning of sacrifice better than Odysseus and Penelope. After their wedding, Odysseus had to go to war. Penelope knew that he might not return but she still resisted 108 suitors who wanted to take Odysseus’ place. The two waited 10 years to see each other again. If you think you have sacrificed enough and can’t sacrifice anything anymore, you should take cues from Homer.

Pocahontas & John Smith

In the song Fever by Ella Fitzgerald, Pocahontas and Captain Smith were mentioned. Their love story however did not have a happy ending even if her father already accepted John Smith as a son after Pocahontas saved Smith from execution in 1608. Smith was injured later on and had to go back to England. According to legend, when the native Indian princess visited the fort to get news from Smith, she was informed that John Smith had already died. She later married a John Rolfe. It is said that she visited London with her husband to meet John’s friend. Pocahontas did not know that that friend was John Smith. During this meeting, the two saw each other after eight years but this was the last time that John Smith ever gazed at Pocahontas’ face.  

Loving someone takes a lot of hard work (sometimes at least) but if one compares what these couples went through, the task that you think is so difficult to do or the decision you think is so hard to make might just be a piece of cake. 

[1] There are other versions of this part of the story but this one is the most popular. In other versions, it was Abelard who sent Heloise to a convent because her uncle the canon of Notre Dame became very violent towards Heloise.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

3 Ways To Beat The Summer Heat

Summer in the Philippines is usually synonymous to going to the beach or going to the colder parts of the country such as Batanes, Baguio, Sagada, or Abra but if you are stuck in Metro Manila and in the provinces where there is nothing but sun and humidity, it may be time to get cracking to fight the heat.

1. Damp Curtains Desert Trick

One of the most effective ways to make your house cooler during the summertime without using the AC is to try a desert trick. The desert trick is to hang a wet or semi-wet sheet on one of your open windows so that incoming breezes will be cool.

2. Close The Windows

Close the windows if it’s hotter outside your house. This may not be a good idea if your home does not have enough ventilation but if it does, this trick will definitely keep the heat off from creeping in.

3. Spritz Yourself

If the humidity is high, having a spray bottle in the refrigerator is a good idea. Of course you would have to spray this cold water on your skin. As the water evaporates, it will cool you down. According to experts, spraying cold water on your wrists will help in cooling you down.

Photo via

Monday, April 23, 2012

Statement by the UP President on the defacement of the UP System website last 20 April 2012

As reported in the media last 20 April, a hacker or hackers defaced the University of the Philippines (UP) System website ( with a politically charged message on the territorial dispute between the Philippines and another country. This hacking incident prompted our University Computer Center (UCC) to temporarily make the site inaccessible. The UP website has been back online since the other day.

After getting relevant information from the UCC which hosts the website, we are issuing this statement to apologize about the down time, strongly criticize the perpetrators, and publicly clarify the situation.

First, we apologize to the affected UP constituents and the public if they felt deprived of UP-related information available on the UP System website for practically the whole day last April 20 (Friday).

Second, we denounce the action of the hacker or hackers for depriving the public of vital information related to UP, especially the schedule of commencement exercises in the nine UP campuses and the April issue of the UP Newsletter which was uploaded only last 17 April.

Third, we clarify that no private data were stolen by the hacker or hackers and that the UP constituents' data contained in the computerized registration system, WebMail and others were not compromised.

According to the report by the UCC, the hacker or hackers exploited a vulnerability of, and added unwarranted content to, the website at around 2:20 a.m. on 20 April. The UCC technical team became aware of the situation at around 4:50 a.m. and responded immediately by closing all access to the web server.

The UCC has already made adjustments to the restored site to prevent a similar incident from happening again, details of which we opt not to divulge for security reasons.

While the UCC has been able to trace the IP address of the hacker or hackers to a specific country, we seek the public's understanding if we do not identify the country of origin for two reasons. First, the IP address can be masked to appear as if someone is working from a specific location. Second, even assuming that the IP address was not masked, it is still possible that someone compromised a machine from that specific location to deface the UP System website.

Yesterday, news reports circulated that hackers, claiming to come from the Philippines defaced the websites of several institutions in China. Their actions, they claimed, was in retaliation to the hacking of the UP website.

We appeal to the public to avoid jumping to conclusions and taking actions that could further inflame people's sentiments, particularly on the territorial dispute between the Philippines and China. Hacking selected websites at the suspected country of the hacker or hackers does not objectively articulate any political issue and only subjectively fulfills a personal desire to "get even". Giving the perceived "enemies" a dose of their own medicine by hacking their alleged country's websites achieves nothing but unproductive counter-actions.

As we call on the media to avoid sensationalizing the defacement of the UP System website, we also call on the concerned technology-savvy Filipinos to stop hacking other websites, particularly those from China. Filipinos are more sensible than this, and our expertise is better used in productive endeavors.

Friday, April 20, 2012

U.P. Diliman is situated near West Valley Fault Line - Government geologists

West Valley Fault Line near U.P. Diliman
Source: Phiilvolcs

MANILA, Philippines - Government geologists have found evidence of ground displacement along the West Valley Fault line, validating earlier warnings by national and local authorities that the fault - running 7.2 kilometers from Parañaque through Makati, Taguig, Marikina, to San Mateo along the periphery of Quezon City - remains active.

This came to light as the Quezon City government and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) on Monday completed trenching work across the West Valley Fault line at Barangay Bagong Silangan, Novaliches. Intended to identify ground rupture movements and slip rates across the fault, the trenching activities found abrupt changes in sediment layers in the area, Quezon City officials said.

The activity involved excavations of two trenches, about 50 meters apart, within a 50-hectare property owned by Banco Filipino at Barangay Bagong Silangan. The area, according to a Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRS), shows high susceptibility to earthquakes, along with Barangay Payatas, also in Novaliches.

The exposed trench walls indicated that at least two to three earthquake events had in fact already taken place in the area in the past. Phivolcs is now collecting charcoal pieces for carbon-14 analysis to determine the approximate time of the occurrence of the said earthquakes and the estimate of the age of the sediment layers affected by the ground displacement.

"The Phivolcs findings just validated the claim that the West Valley Fault Line is indeed active," said Elmo San Diego, action officer of the QC disaster risk reduction management council and head of the city's department of public order and safety. The MMEIRS suggests that a magnitude 7.2 earthquake may originate at the West Valley Fault line at some point in the future.

San Diego reiterated QC Mayor Herbert Bautista's call to declare the 7-kilometer stretch of the fault system that runs through QC's periphery a danger zone. "The safety of our residents, particularly those living on top of the fault line, is non-negotiable," San Diego said. "The fault line is unlivable."

The fault line cuts across major cities in Metro Manila, and has in its path scores of large subdivisions and schools. Ateneo de Manila and the University of the Philippines in Diliman are both situated near or atop the fault line which has not moved in 200 years, but which Phivolcs had warned may therefore be "ripe for movement".

Batasan Hills in the northern stretch of the fault has within its vicinity the House of Representatives of the Philippines. To the south, subdivisions such as Green Meadows, Valle Verde, and McKinley Hills all sit atop the fault. Ayala Heights in Quezon is similarly situated in an area within the potential influence of movements along the line.

(Philippine News Agency)

PAHRA to commemorate Martial Law at U.P. Diliman's Sunken Garden

PAHRA (Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates), families of Martial Law victims and other Human Rights Defenders will gather to Inform, Inspire and to Remember Martial Law 40 years after it was first declared on September 21, 1972 by the ousted Dictator Ferdinand Marcos. The event will take place this Saturday, April 21, 2012 from 7a.m. – U.P. Diliman's Sunken Garden.

This activity is a continuation of PAHRA's  national campaign to Remember ML @ 40.
Every 21st of the month, from March 21 until September 21 of this year, PAHRA shall strive to have the country’s younger generation remember the dark years of the martial law period through a series of jogging-running-walking-biking-kite flying, and sharing activities.

The overall aim of this campaign is to compel the Philippine Congress to urgently pass the Compensation Bill for Victims of Human Rights Violation almost three decades after the Marcos Dictatorship was forcefully terminated through a successful People’s Power Uprising on February 25, 1986.

For more information and/or details, please contact:
Mr. RASTI DELIZO (PAHRA-Campaigns Staff Volunteer)
@celfone #: 099908092461/office #: 436-26-33

Thursday, April 19, 2012


The Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) and the Dept. of Justice (DOJ) signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) “to simplify procedures to be observed by the OMB and the DOJ for a more efficient and effective investigation and prosecution” of cases involving government officials and employees.

       The MOA was signed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales and Justice Sec. Leila de Lima.

       Under the MOA, the OMB will have “primary jurisdiction in the conduct of preliminary investigation and inquest proceedings over complaints for crimes cognizable by the Sandiganbayan.”

       Under Sec. 4 of RA 8249, among the cases over which the Sandiganbayan has exclusive jurisdiction are the following: “I) Violations of RA 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act); II)RA 1379 (Forfeiture of Illegally Acquired Wealth); III)Crimes by public officers or employees embraced in Ch. II, Sec. 2 Title VII, Bk. II of the Revised Penal code (Crimes committed by Public Officers) namely : Direct Bribery, Indirect Bribery, Qualified Bribery, Corruption of Public Officials; IV) Other offenses or felonies whether simple or complexed with other crimes committed in relation to their office by the public officials and employees mentioned above” and cases involving government officials and employees with Salary Grade 27 or higher for a)Violation of RA 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards) b)Violation of RA 7080 (The Plunder Law) c)Violation of RA 7659 (The Heinous Crime Law) d) RA 9160 (Violation of the Anti-Money Laundering Law when committed by a public officer)  e) PD 46 (Prohibition Against Gift-Giving) and  f)PD 749(law granting immunity to bribe-givers who voluntarily gives information)      .

       It said that when complaints involving the above-mentioned cases were filed before the DOJ, the same shall immediately be endorsed to the OMB.

       The two officials also agreed that the OMB and the DOJ shall have concurrent jurisdiction over cases involving public officials falling outside the exclusive jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. However, “the office where such complaint is filed for preliminary investigation shall acquire jurisdiction over the complaint to the exclusion of the other”.

       Once the DOJ acquires jurisdiction over said cases, the Prosecutor General or provincial/city prosecutors shall resolve them without need of approval from the OMB.

        The OMB shall conduct reinvestigation, when ordered by the court, of cases which underwent preliminary investigation at the OMB but referred to the DOJ for prosecution.

       The MOA also states that “the OMB shall ensure that a motion for reconsideration has been resolved or the period for filing thereof has lapsed before endorsing an Information to the DOJ for filing with the proper court”.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

FILIP + INNA owner promotes Philippine culture

Len Cabili, a Clothing Technology graduate from UP Diliman was interviewed by the GMA Network recently regarding her international clothing line FILIP + INNA. 

FILIP + INNA promotes Filipino culture inspired by Cabili’s experience with The Bayanihan Philippine National Dance Company. 

Her love for Philippine traditions has drawn Len to making costumes with intricate patterns –some very tribal-looking –one of the characteristics that FILIP + INNA’s American following love about the brand.
During her interview, Cabili said that the people who buy the clothes she designs appreciate how much time it takes for these handmade clothes to become the finished products they see at FILIP + INNA. 

Cabili’s designs range from $140 to over $750.  (Photo via FILIP + INNA)

U.P. Astronomical Society Summer Applicants Orientation

UP Astronomical Society is now open for Summer Applications!

See you this thursday, 19 April 2012 6pm at the PAGASA Astronomical Observatory Moon Deck near CHE (College of Home Economics).

Get the chance to look through the largest telescope in the country, Andre the Giant!
Don't miss it! :)

For inquiries, contact
Andro 09162309138
CR 09065880080.

Is U.P. Diliman Haunted?

The U.P. College of Education
in Diliman, Quezon City

The response  of the Dean of the
U.P. College of Education
To enlarge, click the graphic

Letter request to the Dean
of the U.P. College of Education
To enlarge, click the graphic

Is the University of the Philippines at Diliman (U.P. Diliman) haunted? Anecdotal evidence from the Facebook page, Taga U.P. Diliman ka Kung (TUPDKK) seems to indicate so. The Diliman Diary conducted a content review of the thousands of posts from members (now numbering at approximately 35,000) and there were many anecdotes about paranormal sightings in U.P. Diliman. One of the most frequently cited hub for paranormal sightings was the U.P. College of Education.

The Diliman Diary researched the U.P. library archives and talked to personnel from U.P. Diliman's Office of the Campus Architect, and was able to determine that the Colege of Education and the College of war were the joint headquarters of the Japanese military during World War II, and were never demolished per se, despite all the intense fighting around Metro Manila.

The Diliman Diary requested permission from the Dean of the U.P. College of Education, Dina S. Ocampo to conduct a paranormal investigation during the witching hours (from midnight to three a.m.) at the College of Education, but this request was denied, so as to preserve the good image of the U.P. College of Education.

Significantly, though, the Dean did not deny per se that there were paranormal sightings at the U.P. College of Education.

In the meantime, the Diliman Diary's paranormal investigations are still continuing, and we shall keep our readers updated on every development as they come in.

Philpost post master in trouble

Employee’s unions at Philpost declared all-out war against the agency’s mass firing of employees. The Civil Service Commission says that there are now thousands of vacant posts at Philpost since the post master removed workers who have been serving at the Philippine Postal Corporation from 4 years up to 20 years –some due to tardiness while others were fired without notice. The post master, former governor of Bulacan Maria Josefina de la Cruz reportedly hired over 60 new employees to replace the thousands of employees she removed. These 63 very lucky individuals, reports say, have rather high salaries.

Aside from the mass firing of employees, the post master is also being questioned by the media regarding a multimillion mailing arrangement with Banco de Oro. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Philippine Corruption Index, What Does It Say About Us?

Back in 2007, the Philippines was considered by expats living around Asia to be the most corrupt Asian country. A year later, a study done by the World Bank concluded that the country is the worst among leading economies in East Asia sinking even lower among other countries in the region that lag in terms of governance.

Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index in 2009 showed a bit of improvement but the said improvement did not help in making the lives of Filipinos better. To paint a better picture about these rankings, when the Philippines’ corruption index improved, it was as good (or as bad) as the corruption in Bangladesh, the Baltic State of Belarus, and Pakistan.

Photo via

Diliman Diary Blog 03/12/2012: Philippine Tourism, Is It More Fun In The Philippines?

Although a good marketing strategy, the More Fun In The Philippines meme is considered by a number of Filipinos as pretentious and stupid. Some question if fun includes unpaved roads, traffic in the big cities, robbery, hostage-takings, and bombing. While other Filipinos are excited about promoting the good things about this country, the crime rate is just too high to encourage tourism. 

It seems that the government has lost sight of its priorities or may not even know how to prioritize at all. The social media angle for the More Fun In The Philippines theme however is very good and the people at the Department of Tourism should be congratulated –they after all did a good job.

Photo via

Thursday, April 12, 2012

IP sacred sites should be protected -- ALAM

Alab ng Mamamahayag (ALAM) Chairman Jerry Yap yesterday said indigenous community
should be conserved and protected if we want to protect ourselves.
He said Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Usec. Analiza
Rebuelta-Teh is right in holding a conference to map out a national strategy framework and
direction for the indeginous peoples (IPs) in the country.
He said IPs have long been neglected and indigenous rights have been violated. The areas
they occupy retain most precious biological resources and cultural richness, so they should be
protected not because government said so, but because that is what we must do.
He explained that taking care of these IPs means “preservation of biodiversity,
sustainable use of biodiversity and restoration whenever there is damage to ICCAs.
ALAM President Berteni Causing on his part said the last remaining forests in the country
are inhabited and managed by indigenous communities.
Causing said protecting the IPs is a cost effective and equitable way to protect
the remaining forests, the biodiversity and natural resources while supporting them in
strengthening their bond to their culture and tradition.
He added that DENR Usec Manuel Gerochi is right in saying that we can consider the
areas IPs occupy as sacred mountains and sacred lakes.
Their burial grounds and place of ritual are important to the culture and traditions
of IPs. They hold wide array of threatened plants and animals and provide stable ecosystem
services owing to the traditional conservation practices of IPs, he said.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Packing Guide For Travelers

By Sigrid Salucop

Photo via

Traveling this Lenten season? A number of Filipinos go back to their provinces during this time of the year and often, as we all rush to our flights, rush to head to the bus station, or to ride a ship going home, we forget to pack a few things.

Make A List There is such a thing as a universal packing list that will make packing easier for you depending on what activities you will be doing for the weekend or the holiday you have been looking forward to. You can also prepare a check list manually but be sure to go through it while you are packing so you do not forget anything. 

Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush Do you want to make sure that you do not forget to pack your toothbrush? There’s nothing more annoying than not being able to brush your teeth once you get to your destination. Sure you can always buy from the nearest store but what if you are going to the mountains for a few days and the nearest store is hours away? If lists do not work for you, maybe an email telling you not to forget your toothbrush and other essentials will do the trick. 

The Essentials Wherever you are going, you should have the following:

Contact Numbers –if you are travelling abroad, you should ensure that you have the number of your embassy. Your embassy this is  your second home while you are away from your country. You should also write down the numbers of people you may need to contact while you are there. Writing them down is important in an event where you lose your phone.

Passport or Identification – for those traveling abroad, checking the validity of your passport is a good idea –you wouldn’t want to be stuck at the airport just because you can’t get in your country of destination.

Travel Insurance – this isn’t really something Filipinos are fond of but having travel insurance will cover a number of things –hospitalization if you get sick while on vacation or if you ate something that just doesn’t agree with your tummy or got into an accident. Your travel insurance will also cover lost bags in case you lose them at the airport or the bus station.

Cash – you must have cash on you because you will never know when the ATMs decide to be offline. Be sure not to travel with stacks of money though because this is potentially dangerous. Getting mugged along the way will not only ruin your holiday but will also leave you helpless until of course you contact someone who would be able to rescue you.

Your Ticket – do not forget this or you won’t get inside the plane, the bus or the ferry.

Enough Clothes – if you are going home for a certain occasion, bring enough clothes. A dress jacket for example might be needed in some restaurants. You should also bring enough underwear, and shirts.

First Aid Kit – make sure you are equipped with a first aid kit especially if you are going hiking or camping.

Things To Do Before You Travel

  • Make sure that you charge all electronic items you will be bringing.
  • Buy bottled water and snacks if you are in for a long ride. Buying food along the way can be expensive. This is an important note to parents who are traveling with their kids -children get hungry all the time and you might be spending a lot of money along the way if you do not buy snacks before you travel.
  • If you are planning to drive to your destination, you should perform a maintenance check on your car. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Goodbye Coffee…Hello SereniTea

By Marjorie Portia C. Dominguez

I thought it was a new spa place. Its name evoked clean sheets, lavender scents on pillow, shiatsu, incense etc.

Then only daughter says it’s serenity spelled as SereniTEA. I’m more of a coffee person so tea does not really interest me except when I read those articles that says it helps you lose weight. The losing weight part made me load up tea by the gallons.

Anyway, only daughter says it’s very good. I cant help but notice because only daughter texts me endlessly to go to Jupiter or Greenbelt ( when I’m in Makati) or she forces me to pass by their Katipunan branch if I have the misfortune to be in the car when the driver picks her up from UP.

She normally orders Hokkaido or winter melon whatever that is. So sorry but I can’t make head or tails of their menu so I leave it all to only daughter to order for me.

Only daughter loves SereniTea so much so that if I can’t buy her Hokkaido or winter melon milk tea for her she calls the darn place and have them deliver -hell’s bells that piqued my curiosity. WTH.. is in that tea that made only daughter addicted to it. Hmm, now I have to try it.

First of all, can I just say, from a mom’s perspective, it is NOT cheap. P105 for a big tumbler of brewed milk tea...what?!! But I was surprised and admittedly impressed by the long queues to this place. Young people mostly only daughter’s age or younger (sometimes with parents in tow) wait patiently for their turn to buy this expensive but “simple” tea.

But I digress. How was the experience of drinking my first SereniTea? Only daughter ordered Hokkaido (with pearls) for me which I found out was assam tea with butter-caramel-toffee flavor and 100% sugar.

My first sip? My first thought was I love the clean taste of the milk tea. The caramel-butter-toffee flavor was so subtle it was hardly discernible which I actually liked. Then my straw transported the pearls with the milk tea in my mouth and I was.....hooked. The pearls were soft and chewy and cuts through the monotony of just sipping milk tea which although refreshing tends to be dare I say ordinary without the pearls. My second simultaneous thought was I would love to try the other flavors

It goes without saying that only daughter was grinning from ear to ear having discovered a kindred spirit in her mom. Like a young Jedi (only daughter ) to her padawan (me), only daughter explained that I have to order chicken chops and hash browns next time.

Goodbye coffee....hello SereniTea


Marjorie Portia C. Dominguez is a BA Philosophy graduate of UP Diliman. She is married to Jose Amado M. Dominguez also a graduate of UP Diliman ( BS Industrial Engg). They are blessed with 4 kids two of whom are now in UP 

Check out Marjorie's food blog at

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