No Matter What……..

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  • Sings *    I’m leaving on a jetplane.      , La, la ,, la ……but I know when I’ll be back again ……. Feb. 29, 2020.

 

So many things have happened  in the Philippines and worldwide,  enough reasons to abort our  much – awaited vacation in the Philippines.

 

  1. Taal Volcano eruption on  Jan. 13, just 30 miles from our house in  Paranaque, Metro-Manila.  We bought 3 boxes ( 20 masks per box)  to protect us from  the ashes that  fell  over Manila.

2. Corona virus…… My airline was Eva Airlines, Taiwan’s official carrier. Our flight  was  San Francisco——- 2 hour lay-over at Taiwan’s airport —— Manila, Philippines.  Unfortunately, just this week, Monday,  the Philippine government banned travelers from Taiwan  from entering the country, including transients from other countries, like me, whose point of origin is the USA.   My mom frantically  told me to immediately cancel my Eva Airlines schedule.  I did  that just 2 days ago, and bought Korea Air, with a 2 – hour lay-over in Seoul, Korea.  I got the last 4 spaces .  Majority of the passengers  are Eva Airlines cancelees. I hope the Philippine government won’t ban  Korea.   South Korea and  the Philippines  are besties.

3.   Believe it or not,  I can’t find  masks here in our city, nor in Los Anegeles.  ( according to my sister ) .  I’ve been to so many stores here ( Rite-Aid, WalGreens, CVS, Target, WalMart, Home Depot ) …… Zilch, zero, none.  What ????  No masks even here in the US????? The heck !

 

Anyway,

 

please wish us luck.  My Mom, sister, co-worker, and yours truly are leaving on Saturday, Feb. 15.

 

I’m going to bring my laptop, and hope I can find time to blog.

 

Bye ! !  Muaaaah !

 

TALA, a song by Sarah Geronimo from the Philippines , and I lost 12 pounds memorizing the moves !

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My last post before the previous  and this one was Sept.13, 2019 .  September is the start of  the holiday season production at the dairy company where I work. …. Lots of overtimes and almost no days  off.  Everyone was well compensated though.   ( I need extra money for my vacation  in the Philippines  13 days from now. Yay ! Countdown ! !

 

So, what else did I do during my long hiatus ?

 

I went on a strict low carb diet  ( no bread, rice, pasta , and any kind of dessert  )

 

And  did  rigorous  exercises   by  following  the TALA dance moves  from the video of a popular singer from the Philippines,  Sarah Geronimo.  ( I heard it’s now # 12 on International  Billboard. )  ” Tala”   is Filipino for star.   Oh, it already has 80 M views ! ! I think I viewed it one million times, trying to memorize the moves.  Ah, my hips !   It hurts ! !  Haha !

 

Guys, believe me, I lost 12 pounds  from all that hip thrusting and hip swaying.  …… It’s true ! !

 

Here’s the video…. Well, it’s in Filipino language…. you don’t have to know what she’s singing about….. just watch her ! !

 

C’mon,  click it here. Okay ? ?

 

 

Actually,  I watched  and memorized the dance moves  from some tutorial  videos on youtube.

 

This is all for now.

 

Bye !

Another volcanic eruption in the Philippines? Seriously ?

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On January 12,  Taal  Volcano in the Philippines,  located  about  60 km.  (  37  miles ) south of   Manila , erupted again.  Its last eruptions were in 1965 ( and lasted  til 1969) , and in 1977.  This time, right after the eruption,  volcanic ashes ( again !)  blanketed  places  way beyond the 14 km. radius danger zone, forcing even those from Manila to wear masks.

 

In 1991, the biggest volcanic eruption of the 20th century  was that of  Mt. Pinatubo, about  60 miles north of   Manila.   The eruption was so huge it penetrated the stratosphere and lowered  the earth’s temperature by  .50 C .  Ashes blanketed the whole of Metro-Manila, with zero visibility, and  made 12 noon looking  like 12 midnight.  Ashes that fell over Manila were at least 1 inch thick.  Needless to say, areas near Mt. Pinatubo were erased  off  the face of the earth.

 

Not to mention the strongest typhoon  in the history of mankind, Typhoon Haiyan,  in 2014  .  It was so strong it went beyond Category 5, and caused a 14 meter high tsunami-like storm surge.

 

Then, add the frequent earthquakes to this pile of disasters……. To Filipinos, 6.4  in the Richter scale is nothing.  I’d  said this before, and I say this again, people of the Philippines eat disasters and natural catastrophes for breakfast.

 

Pardon my language but ,  this was me when I heard the news of eruption.  I was like,  what about my vacation? ?  Okay, that’s thoughtless of me…. I mean , here I am, worrying about my vacation, while  over there, people are suffering.

 

Still…….

 

 

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Seriously, Philippines ,  what the heck !

 

Well,  Mom, my sister , a co-worker,  and I , are going to the Philippines  17 days from now. Our original itinerary does  include Taal Volcano…. unfortunately, my co-worker  is now more  eager and determined  to see the  “scene of destruction”  .   (  Uhm,  I wanna see it too.  )  .  It’s been lowered to Category 3, to date….. I hope it’ll be okay and safe  by the time we get there.  Aaargh !  (  I bought a box of  N95  mask.) Fyi, these are no ordinary ashes. They are made of microscopic shards of “glass”… from super -heated  volcanic materials .  They are very  dangerous to our lungs  when inhaled.

 

One of the photos  below  is that of  yours truly, taken  at the very scenic Taal Volcano in 2014.  By the way, it’s the smallest volcano in the world and take note…… do you see the mountain on the left side of the picture ??? The mountain  surrounds another lake which is actually the caldera of the volcano.

 

 

 

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  • sigh *

 

This is all for now.

 

By the way, my last post before this was in September , 2019.

 

Don’t ask.

 

Bye ! !

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Beyond the commerce of men”…. a social commentary

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My previous post is about the massive clearing operations currently going on in

the city of Manila, the capital of the Philippines.  Manila is just one of 16 cities of Metro-Manila.  Non-Filipinos  and  Filipinos from other parts of the country call the whole metropolis ” Manila”, but  residents of  Metro-Manila  specify where exactly they come from….  like Quezon City, Paranaque City, Makati City, etc.  On my previous post,  I said  I was born in Manila.  Actually, I was born in Paranaque City, just a taxi ride away from Manila, 25  minutes without traffic,  2 hours with traffic. lol

 

Map of Metro-Manila, Philippines

 

 

 

Now, about the title of this post….

 

The Philippines’ Supreme Court had come out with a milestone decision on  the use of roads, sidewalks, and open spaces ( parks ) located in private subdivisions.  Basically, it says these so-called private  roads, etc. should be opened to the public. However,  though public,  all roads , sidewalks and parks  are ” BEYOND THE COMMERCE OF MEN. ” In other words, no one can use these places other than what they are intended for.  The phrase ” beyond the commerce of men”  is the ground these massive clearing operations stand on…… demolish all encroachments and obstructions, kick out illegal vending on sidewalks and streets. ( Ah, no more street food, eh ? )

 

Below is a structure built on the sidewalk… clearly a violation  of  national building code, and can be demolished even without  the  Supreme Court’s mandate.  Note : demolition workers lack proper equipment… it’s mano-mano, meaning literally by hand and it’s quite dangerous.  The city does use payloaders and jackhammers in some areas. but not enough for the whole city.

 

 

 

 

 

Above photo shows city workers  removing  food carts off a sidewalk.

 

Below is road clearing. Note: vendors occupy the street, then same street partially cleared… ( not enough, in my opinion… but , it’s better than nothing.)

 

 

I highly doubt Manila would be completely cleared .  Anarchy in the streets has been so  tolerated for  decades it’s become part of  Manila culture . They say it  would take at least 2 generations to completely wipe this off the people’s psyche.  My parents remember a clean city, with wide avenues lined with century old trees, such as  Taft Avenue, Manila’s main thoroughfare.  Then the trees were taken out to make way for  a wider road, and later , ( 1984) ,ugly , elevated railroad tracks  were built over it.  ( Metro Rail ) They also remember  there was a loud  outcry over removal of century old trees, but , well, “progress.”  Then, old residents of Manila left to live in the suburbs and  posh subdivisions just outside of Manila, and were replaced by people from the countryside with less education,  no job prospects and  housing ……then they built shanties on public lands, and the rest is history. It came to a point where illegal settlers and shanty dwellers have even become defiant  and  caused trouble and violent protests  everytime  well-meaning officials would try to clean up the city.  Previous city mayors had practically given up,  until the new mayor, Francisco Moreno, was elected in July , 2019, and promised to clear up Manila.

 

I am not so sure about that. Sorry, Mayor Moreno.   A big chunk of the city  looks like shanty town , with old, dilapidated , greasy , built in dirt on buildings,  especially in places like Tondo, and Quaipo,  and patchy-patchy residential houses .  Unless he issues an order for building and home owners to rehabilitate (  aka repaint ) their properties, ( which is dictatorial and too heavy handed, in my opinion ) , no matter how clean the streets and sidewalks are,  Manila will forever remain an unsightly, sad city.  I’ve seen these places on YouTube…. they look like the photo below…

…. * shakes head *

 

 

Above is a common street scene in Tondo, Manila. They build structures without regard for safety. Look  how many floors there are, and they are made of rusty corrugated iron, old wood, etc.   The houses are so unsafe. I assume they don’t bother to get a building permit, and authorities don’t  bother to inspect.

 

Don’t get me wrong…. the rest of Manila is charming, beautiful, and historical.  In fact, the whole country , all 7,641 islands of it, is one huge tourist spot…….  Pristine islands with white sand and the bluest water  you won’t  see anywhere else in the world.

 

So, how does one solve a problem like Manila ?

 

People suggest  deal with it with a hand of steel, and it’s about time.

 

Legitimate Manilenos  are already sick and tired of  illegal settlers demanding relocation sites and free housing.  There are already hundreds of government relocation sites with free houses. Well, not exactly free… they pay a staggering   $ 4.00 a month.  I repeat….. FOUR DOLLARS.   (  other cities are already protesting they don’t want them there, and tax payers are also complaining that their taxes are spent building houses for these squatters, with no end in sight. )

 

But…to be fair…. call Manila what you like, but…….

 

Believe it or not,  residents of Manila have free health care (  free medicines, even free surgeries, free hospitalizations) free public universities,  and senior students in  public  high schools are given PhP 1,000 Cash every month, discounted transportation fares for students,  senior citizen discounts in everything including  movie passes,  plus PhP  500 cash a month….. single parents are also given Php 500 cash. .  It’s practically  a welfare state.  That’s why poor people from  other places flock to the city.  Hey, fellow Americans, does this sound familiar ?

 

Another thing… the Philippines has universal health care.

 

And,

 

By law, all workers receive a 13th month pay, ( besides their 12 months regular salaries) , and if the employees are lucky, they also get 100 % Christmas bonus from big companies and government  institutions.  In other words, 14 months salaries annually.

 

And ,  all companies with more than 50 employees , are unionized.  Truckers, drivers ….Yes, unions are strong in the Philippines.  This is the reason why foreign companies don’t invest in the Philippines. They hate unions and organized workers, right? Typical.   They go to Vietnam,  Indonesia, and countries where  forming  unions are not allowed. There are only a few countries in Asia ( or Australasia ) where unions are  present .. Australia, Philippines and New Zealand.  CBA or Collective Bargaining Agreement is a very important aspect of doing business in the Philippines.  No sweatshops allowed.  That’s why you won’t see cheap clothes and stuff  here in the US that are Made in the Philippines.

 

Oh, wait, where am I going?  My thoughts are going haywire.

 

I guess it’s time to stop now.

 

PS:

 

I saw food cart  vendors  in Italy ( or their  merchandise are spread on the ground, mostly  fake brands, ugly souvenirs, etc. ) and hassling tourists.  In England, too.  Hey, Brits, you see them , right ? Yep, been there, saw them myself.   Watch out, Italy and England.     I think it looks worse in India.  Warning !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good ol’Manila, Philippines, my birthplace.

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It’s been awhile.  I’ve been so busy everyday is like a marathon.  I’ve also been helping clean our rental house when I have the time.  Guys, I did mention that our neighbor contractor  said we’d be out $20 K  easily .  He underestimated the cost of renovation.  It’s now inching towards $30 K. My heart goes out to my parents.  I was with my  mother when we bought new fridge, oven, and dishwasher.  We also renovated the two bathrooms . All floorings are new, from kitchen to bedrooms and of of course , the bathrooms.  aaargh.. I don’t want to talk about this anymore.

 

We  already bought the plane tickets for our Philippine vacation in February , 2020.

 

I’ve been watching YouTube videos of what’s going on in the Philippines. Thre’s   a massive clearing up operations going on  ….City authorities  are basically getting rid of illegal vendors  and structures on public properties.  .  The capital city of Metro-Manila , Manila, has a new mayor, and it looks like he’s very serious in cleaning up the city.  Metro-Manila is comprised of 16 cities and Manila is the capital,   the centre of government  but  due to decades of  neglect,   it’s  become a cesspool. The city  has been invaded by squatters and illegal vendors. I’ve been watching the massive clearing-up operations againt  illegals…… I’m sorry, but I have little  sympathy for them. I am not anti- poor, but damn,  enough is enough !  !  These illegal vendors  have totally occupied major streets , avenues, and sidewalks ……and not only that,  they leave so much garbage on the streets….. it’s anarchic and  almost criminal. Manila traffic  is one of the most chaotic  in the world because only 60%  are passable.  The new mayor, Francisco Moreno, has vowed to do the right thing .  So far, so good.  Mayor Moreno has now become a Rock Star in Pilippine politics. .

 

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Illegal vendors obstruct traffic on secondary and tertiary roads. No vehicles can pass anymore.

 

 

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Above is a major road in Manila,( Divisoria) one of many, that has been fully occupied by vendors.  Thieves,  ruffians,  street children ,   “solvent”  boys , snatchers, and  riff raffs mingle with shoppers,  unfortunately. .  I don’t know how  shoppers protect  themselves from these bad elements  of society.

 

And the photo below is how  the same road looks like  when it was cleared , just a bit… Holy cow, , there’s a 6 lane road under all that rubble ! !  Freakin’ hell !

 

 

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I hope Manila will look nice and clean  when we get  there. My co-worker  ‘s coming with me.  I don’t want my co-worker to have WTF moments during our vacation. But  we’re going to Divisoria to shop.   We’ll be  moving targets of  pickpockets…. . My  co-worker is  white .  And even though  I look like them,  for some reason, Filipinos  can recognize a non- citizen .  Or , am I just being paranoid ? We’ll hold on tight  and close  to our purses , no expensive watches and jewellery on us, either.

We did go to Divisoria  in 2014.  Everything was dirt cheap, so freakin’ cheap !     Haggling though  is ” de rigueur ”  in  Divisoria.  My accent was a give -away so my cousin did much of  the obligatory haggling for me. No tourist price, please.

 

Haggling  goes like this:

You buy 3 T-shirts, I’ll give them to you for  450 pesos, Ma’am.  ( $ 9.00 )

I can get that for 300 pesos  (  $6.00 ) at WalMart.  ( I lie.)

 

Ma’m , that’s below my capital….  I can give it to you for 400 pesos. ( $8.00 )

 

Is that the last price ? How about 350 pesos? ($3. 70)

375 pesos,  last price Ma’m.

 

Okay, sold.  ( My haul :   $7.50 for 3  nice T-shirts.  $ 2.50  each …..  Yay !  My awesome haggling power ! ! )

Then I saw similar T-shirts  at next store for 95  pesos each .(  $ 1. 90  )

 

Fail.

 

What can we buy in Divisoria? Everything, including wedding gowns.

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The truth is, Manila is a beautiful city.  It has the biggest urban park in Asia, it’s full of trees, and  has that old ,charming colonial ambiance . Filipinos , by the way, love fountains and water features…… Manila has lots of  these all over the city. If you’re a tourist, just avoid  places with bad reputation, like Tondo, Divisoria, and areas north of Pasig River, the main river artery of Manila. It’s sad because these places  are the old , historical Manila. The problem is,  that’s where the “have nots”  had congregated, while  the “haves” left  to live in gated subdivisions in the suburbs…… and where new , modern, clean cities  subsequently sprouted around them… Makati City, Bonifacio Global City, Newport City, etc. … these cities are so  clean one can eat off the streets. Sadly, there’s  an invisible wall that separates these areas from the “Great Unwashed” that is Manila..   For example, jeepneys and tricycles ( mode of transportation of the poor ) are not allowed into these cities… the ban  is  as  subtle as a battleaxe , no ?  ” Keep off  our  beautifully manicured lawn. .”  That’s what that ban means.  Well,   I don’t blame them.  Let one in … the next morning you’ll find hordes of  illegals selling their wares, peeing and pooping  everywhere, letting their minor children roam the streets, knocking on car windows begging for money , and if  you don’t give , they’ll  kick your car or scratch it with a rock…..they also   dump  garbage on the streets.

 

 

 

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Beyond words.   The LEFTIST activists are saying the mayor wants Manila to become another place for the ELITES. ….. This is the reason why my politics  radar is inching from the left  towards the center. I ‘m into social justice, but despise lawlessness.

But the truth is,  even though BGCity, Makati City, and the rest  of the metropolis have all the beautiful skyscrapers,   Manila is still  the centre of commerce in the Philippines.  Manila is the depository of all goods that come  from all over the Philippines and the world, and it’s been like that since 1500 ( Spanish galleon trade ) .  Ironically, Tondo , a scary place today,  was the center of commerce  , even during  pre-colonial times.

Below  are photos of Bonifacio Global City and Makati City.

 

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Below is the Trump Tower in Makati City

 

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Above is Tondo in Manila…. that’s reality… I’m  not hiding it, folks. … To be honest, this is even the “better ” slum area.  I don’t want to show anymore the worse of the worst.

 

But,  even though Manila has been left behind by neighboring cities, there’s one thing  other cities do not have……character.

 

Below is the statue of the country’s national  hero, Dr. Jose Rizal , located at Rizal Park ( or more commonly called Luneta , the largest  urban park in Asia )

 

 

Intramuros , or Walled City  ( Fort Santiago entrance photo, built in 1571 )

 

 

Charming old colonial architecture  , cobblestones…..

 

 

 

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Manila Cathedral

 

 

 

Below is University of Santo Tomas, built in 1611, the oldest university in Asia.  Next photo is Manila Baywalk..

 

 

 

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Intramuros (2)

 

 

 

 

 

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The National Museum

 

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And of course, the official residence of  the President of the Philippines:

 

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Roxas Blvd. along Manila Bay, with world famous Manila Bay sunset.

 

 

 

 

 

The new mayor of the capital city… Francisco “Isko” Moreno

 

 

By the way,  my photos here are messed up.  Some are  cut off, and others turn out too small. I can’t fix it, sorry.

 

The new Manila mayor  loves to dance. Ha ha… Awesome.

 

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A young and idealistic politician.  I hope he keeps his promise to bring  back the old glory of  the Queen City of the Orient.

 

Below is the Manila Post Office Building.

 

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That’s it….  I know  this post seems random and unorganized.  There are just  so much to talk about  that I don’t even know where to start , and how to end my  thoughts.

Anyway, to see is to believe , and I’ll see it 6 months.  Manila is my birthplace. I love the city, warts and all.

PS…. There will be a series of posts about the Philipines, especially about the dangers of  forcible  taking of  a group of small Philippine  islands on West Philipine Sea or ( South China Sea)  by you know what country….  This country wants to  own and dominate the seas  …..   and mess up the most protected  site in the world, the Philippine Tabbutaha Reefs.   The whole world should take note and pay attention ! !!    Please .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tenants from hell! !

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Tenants from hell ! !

 

They vacated our house on June 23.

 

We inspected  the house the next day.

 

Ayiiiiieee !

 

Beyond words……

 

Our neighbor/contractor who came over to inspect the place  said we’d be out $20,000  easily.

 

Informed our insurance agent… will do inspection/adjusting/assess  for damages soon.

 

Total carpet replacement…  no bedroom doors…cracked toilet bowls  ,changed the keys.. the swimming pool is a mess. Yep. it was that bad.

 

There are holes on the walls that look like they ‘ve been  kicked.

 

There is a painted message on a wall… F ***  You ! , it says.

 

It took us just a few minutes to feel we were at  the edge of a steep cliff, looking down on darkness below.

I hope the tenants find themselves  at a bad place,  consigned to a life of eternal sorrow.

 

That’s all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So much greed and evil

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I’ve been busy . .. no days off last week. It’s okay . I’m saving up for a GoPro and my vacation in the Philippines in February.  I have one or two friends /co-workers coming with me.  They will be my guests , so ….

 

I’m supposed to rant on this post but I changed my mind…. Instead, I donated to DailyKos, an online media and an independent news source that depends on donations from the public.

 

Also,  please pay attention to what’s going on in Asia, specifically SouthEast Asia. It’s the world’s  powder keg that shouldn’t be ignored anymore. Please, please read up.

 

I have nothing else to say, for now.  I managed to restrain myself  from ranting, thank goodness.   To be honest, I’m bad at civil discourses and political correctness.

Never trust. Just do what is right and just, but don’t expect  others to do the same thing.  Be vigilant.  The world is full of  greed and evil.

 

Okay,  Ren, stop now.