Wednesday, November 20, 2013


This hashtag keeps circulating on the World Wide Web and other social media as it clearly shows the devastation of certain islands and regions in the Vizayas after they were ravaged by super typhoon Yolanda (international name, Haiyan). My heart bleeds every time I watch on national television the horrifying and heartbreaking aftermath of the incident that occurred on November 08, 2013. Many areas of Tacloban City were wiped out by a storm surge. This kind of typhoon onslaught is prevalent nowadays not only in Philippines but also in other parts of the World. Climate is indeed changing for the worst and we have to act now. The lessons learned from this tragedy always reflected the impact right after the incidents occurred.  Pointing fingers is just a normal scene every time this kind of disaster happens.  It all boils down to one common problem --- complacency resulting in a serious loss of lives. 

This kind of tragedy gives the national and local governments a big slap on the face for being caught unprepared. PAGASA gave accurate warning, but people on the ground were caught flat-footed because of poor information dissemination about the possible effects of this typhoon on people’s lives and properties once it hit the country. But question is, who are the people leading the government? What are they doing? Why did this happen? Aren’t they intellectually bright enough to think of strategic ways on how we can prevent loss of lives and damage to property? They don’t have supernatural power; they only have the same physical strength like us. What differentiates them from us is they have the power and authority to govern and mobilize the people from the ground and design strategic planning come this kind of disaster.   But keep in mind that no human being is more powerful in preventing what is written. It is an act of God. 

What are the long-term plans that we can prepare for disaster risk management? All these data must be searchable in all community websites and other social media so that survivors can find it useful for any rescue operations effort.

1. Availability of Demographic Profile per Barangay (Community)- Accurate data are indeed necessary in logistic planning like mass evacuation and projection of casualties both in lives and property when disasters occur. This demographic profile should include number of houses, bldgs, lots/ people living in barangays/community, especially those living along coastal and upland areas.  These data should be readily available on their respective websites or other social media.

2. Personal Identification or Universal ID- There are national and local data from different agencies that we might possibly use in order to come up with a database purposely for mapping, profiling and identifying certain persons. This can be done through a web-based system like people finder.

3. Documentation of peoples, event and places are effective virtual solution of narrating the stories from the beginning of the tragedy to rescue operation and how they will become part of the history. This can teach those who are left behind to think of more concrete plans on what to do next in case the same disaster occurs.

4. Despite our own ancestral house will be directly affected by the planned coastal widening and clearing of river banks project of the national government, this long-term plan should be started to move and put into action so that local government could also do its share and maximize its effort in identifying higher grounds for mass housing project for possible affected families.

These are just a few strategies that we can do for starters as we learn the lessons of this tragedy. As the saying goes, “Prevention is better than cure.”  We better equip ourselves with knowledge and strengthen our faith in Him so that when the time comes that He wants us to join Him in His Heavenly Kingdom, we can reflect, contemplate and repent for our sins, and share what we can do to others who are undergoing the same trying times.

Photos below are the initiatives of the City Government of Balanga to support victims of #typhoonyolanda.

1. Planting of around 13,000 Mahogany seedlings in upland areas of the City of Balanga coinciding with the birthday celebration of our Local Chief Executive, Mayor Joet S. Garcia last November 12, 2013, as part of his birthday wish list.

2. City Government Officials, Department Heads and employees hold a weeklong Garage Sale in front of city hall. Proceeds from this activity will benefit victims of Typhoon Yolanda.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Bangkok Thailand: The Shopping Paradise

I’ve never thought about how blessed and lucky I am every time I am given the chance to travel and explore the beauty and culture of other countries. Actually, traveling is my best antidote for stress and occasional depression. Yes, you read it right. Just last month (September), despite tons of paper works and multiple tasks on my shoulder, I grabbed the chance to pause and breathe for a while. Another YOLO experience. Actually I had already been to the coastal area of Phuket Thailand in October 2011 during the Virgo Cruise Ship vacation sponsored by the City Government for its department heads. So thankful for the early Christmas gift of our very generous Santa Claus.  However, since we were on a cruise, there was only a very limited time to go around Thailand. So our hopes of lurking around Bangkok were quite impossible to realize because of the distance to Thailand’s main tourist attractions and shopping destinations.

Today, Thailand is considered as one of the best tourist destinations all over the world due to its favorable tourist climate. It’s been my hope and dream to return to this country, particularly to Bangkok, Thailand’s capital city.  Finally, I made it once again! Maybe it’s the result of my persistent hopes and desire to go back to Thailand. As quoted from the book, “The Secret,” by Rhonda Byrne: “Everything is possible, nothing is impossible. There are no limits. Whatever you can dream of can be yours, when you use, ‘The Secret.’ It is based on the law of attraction and claims that positive thinking can create life-changing results such as increase in wealth, health, and happiness.” Positive thinking drove me to go back to Bangkok, and I was so amazed with the available fashion craze- from clothing, bags, foods, garments and even house decors too, from high-end items to cheapest finds. For a person like me who is so thrifty and into cheapest finds, this place is a haven. Let’s start the bargain hunting!

Chatuchak or Jatujak Weekend Market-is the largest market in Thailand and the world’s largest weekend market. Most stalls are only open on Saturdays and Sundays. It is literally closed during weekdays, as we tried to go back on Monday morning to assist one of our companions who happened to be out of our group when we explored the chatuchak market. Our experience to taste Thailand’s delicious coconut ice cream happened here in this market.

Pratunam Market-Is one of Bangkok’s major markets and is Thailand’s largest clothing market. The name Pratunam means “Water gate”. You can buy clothes in bulk order for a cheaper price. The bigger bulk of clothes you buy, the bigger the discounts. I was able to buy here my coach bag in replica. However, I rarely used it, maybe i am still comfortable to use authentic one.
Floating Market-Is routinely crowded with hundreds of vendors and purchasers floating in their small rowing boats selling and buying agricultural products and local food, which are mostly brought from their own nearby orchards. Therefore, it is a very attractive place for tourists to see this old style and traditional way of selling and buying goods. Here, I find most items are quite expensive, unlike in Chatuchak Market. So we just looked around and ate Thailand’s famous sticky rice in mango.

SIAM Paragon Mall- Is a shopping mall in Bangkok, Thailand. It is one of the biggest shopping centres in Asia. This is where signature brands and authentic fashion finds are located. My fashion home base! lol..There are lots of sumptuous meals offered in this mall.

The Grand Palace-Is a complex building at the heart of Bangkok, Thailand. For quite some time since 1782, the palace had been the official residence of the Kings of Siam. But since 1925 the king, the royal family and the government have no longer permanently settled at the place, and have moved to other residences. The place is a “must visit” for those who will come to Thailand for a tour. The place is so amazing.

The Elephant Ride- Always part of the traveler’s “must do” list is elephant trekking, though some people are against using elephants this way saying the animals are not treated well. Elephants are an important part of Thai culture and their way of life. They are a traditional symbol of royal power. My experience here is just as happy and as positive as is seen in the pictures!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Personal Roadmap: The Palawan Experience

The trying hard Game Changer Model :-)
(Photo ops with the senior officers of various government agency, I am honored to have this souvenir photo with them)

(Souvenir Photo with Freeport Area of Bataan (FAB) Planning Officer Mr. Carry Lontoc, Chairman: Dr. Jesus Estanislao-2nd to the Left, and ISA President, Mr. Francisco C. Eizmendi Jr, and City HRM Officer Ms. Cristina Apostol during PGS Boot Camp-Master Class at Hotel Centro, Palawan)

Vision:      A person who is willing to share of himself in whatever capacity he can and make  a difference to peoples life.

Mission:    1. To continuously inclined himself to glorify God and be of service to mankind.
                  2. To be financially able and open in helping people to improved their way of living .

Core Values:   Love of GOD
Since I was a young person, it’s been my hope to make a difference in somebody else’s life. I think most of us will agree that this is a noble vision. However, noble as it might be, it is not so easy to realize. For many of us, perhaps we equate “making a difference” only in terms of sharing material resources.

In college I finished Bachelor in Seconday Education. I had my masters degree in the same field. However, too late in life I realized that it was not what I wanted. I wanted to be able to “help” in more concrete terms. So, I shifted mindset and decided I wanted to be in business. Why business? It’s because only in business can one earn money fast. And what do I need money for? Because I want to be able to help family, relatives and friends in needs in anyway that I can. But business requires capital and I haven’t had much of that. And so, I haven’t had a great many opportunities to help because I am financially constrained. Like most of us, I have fallen into the trap of interpreting “making a difference” just in terms of being able to provide material things to other people without thought for anything else that one could probably share, too.

How I ended up in government service is a great mystery to me as it was not really a serious consideration in my younger years. I am now on my 16th year in public service. I hold a responsible position, which is both challenging and stressful. Still, there is this gnawing feeling inside of me that makes me doubt if I am in the right place, if I am doing what I should be doing. However, where I am now I am also capable of “making a difference.”

I make a difference in my staff whom I coach to improve their performance;
I make a difference in my superior who gets praises for the supports and contribution done by my department;
I make a difference in my relatives, friends and acquaintances who get benefited by information and access from the city government just because I work there;
I make a difference in my family who also share in whatever blessings I may obtain from my work.

Where I am now could well be the best place for me to be, for now, if by being where I am is used to give glory to our LORD GOD through sharing not only my material resources, but my knowledge, my time, my life’s purpose as well.

"We should never judge them by appearance, they have their own beauty and purpose on earth"

"Someday, I will be wearing a real kind of toque too!"

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Cagayan De Oro- White Water Rafting Experience

When I was young, my father always told me not to get too relaxed when playing in a body of water, especially when the water is calm. Always be vigilant. Weather at that time is perfect for rafting activity.

I was the first one among the group who jumped into the water to challenge myself and overcome my fear of heights!  "You cannot always wait for the perfect time...sometimes you must dare to jump!" 
And the rafting challenge begins...
Some of the strong rapids that we encountered in our journey..

Another winning battle. Almost all members of the team fell off and collided against strong rapids and I survived! I made it again, Thank you Lord!

No Pain..No Gain! I was not drowning here. I jumped off the raft to test the temperature of the water and to swim but when i had to climb back up on the raft in anticipation of the next rapids, my body was too heavy to lift. I realized then that I already needed to lose some weight! Lol

Being a trying-hard adventure enthusiast myself, I sometimes get the chance to go out of business as usual and splurge in the water to loosen some of the pressures brought about by work and personal life. I have my own way of renewing my diminishing strength by playing and relaxing with Mother Nature to recharge and boost my weakened spirit. This is my form of attracting positive energy and dispelling negative ones.

And the white water rafting activity of Cagayan De Oro City is part of my bucket wish list! I always live up to the famous YOLO (You Only Live Once) hashtag. But for the information of everyone, rafting is not just for everybody. People with severe asthma, cardio-vascular and heart problems, epilepsy and pregnant ladies should not opt for these trips. If in doubt, take medical advice before participating. This water activity requires physical endurance and wave shock tolerance. Never force people who are hydrophobic or have any related fears, to participate in the activity.  I am just a type of person who always tries to explore and loves to experience challenging physical activity, given the chance.

What I like most about  this experience is the chance to develop more of the ability and skills of every member of the team not  to fall off  the rafts in every rapid encountered  through paddle synchronization and body tempo. Somehow in the midst of rafting, as you hear the stream of the running water, the tweeting of the birds flying around, the beautiful music they create in your ear and the waving of the branches of the trees that surround the entire river as if they are welcoming you to their realm, you will realize how blessed you are to have experienced and played with the beauty and wonders of mother nature. Just like in life, when you are about to give up, just paddle your own canoe.

Every journey has its ups and down, you just have to go on and learn to play with and enjoy the rapids of life.