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GMA News TV International

GMA News TV International

GMA News TV’s Brigada won the One World Award in the US International Film & Video Festival in addition to its Gold Camera Award finish at the same Festival.  Brigada’s winning entry was entitled “Gintong Krudo” (Black Gold), a documentary to raise awareness for the estimated 5.5 million Filipino children considered child laborers. This is the first time the prestigious One World Award has been given to a Philippine TV network.

 

The One World Award was established more than 25 years ago by the International Quorum of Motion Pictures Producers to honor a work that fosters international understanding.  USIFVF medalists and certificate holders are all in the running for the One World Award, one of the grand prizes given at the Festival.

 

Brigada

Brigada

Brigada’s One World Award winning documentary tells the story of 12-year old Bisaya, who goes out to sea every morning with his friends, 11-year old Christian and 13-year old Ruben, to salvage crude oil dumped on the water by ships. When they find patches of oil spill, they dive in and collect the oil with a sponge, risking their health for about a dollar per pail of oil.  Micaela Papa, who reported the story, went as far as joining the children in the murky water to collect crude oil.  Brigada is hosted by Jessica Soho, with Lee Joseph Castel as Program Manager and Harvey Bayona as Executive Producer.

 

Brigada was one of eight winning works for GMA Network at the US International Film and Video Festival – which included a Gold Award for Wagas, Silver Awards for State of the Nation with Jessica Soho, two episodes of Reel Time, Reporter’s Notebook and Front Row and a certificate for creative excellence for Picture Picture.

 

Brigada Gintong Krudo Episode

Brigada Gintong Krudo Episode

Brigada’s Gintong Krudo segment also won a Silver World Medal in the 2014 New York Festivals, and was a Finalist in the 2013 Japan Prize.

Kapuso viewers around the world may catch Brigada, bannered by multi-awarded broadcast journalist Jessica Soho, only on GMA News TV International.

It's More Fun in the Philippines!

It’s More Fun in the Philippines!

Me and my family spent the recent Holy Week in Boracay.  We all had a terrific time, trying all sorts of adventures.  We have also tried the restaurants littered all along the beach.

Our Boracay adventure started last April 17, 2014.  We were at NAIA 3 at 9:30 am to check in for our flight to Caticlan via Philippine Airlines.  Our flight was scheduled at 11:55 am, but was delayed by a few minutes.  While waiting for our flight we strolled around, looking at shops selling souvenirs, coffee shops, and restaurants that littered the airport terminal.  Some of us decided to have some coffee, while the others decided to look around the shops.  We also decided to have lunch, before our flight, as the children in our group might be hungry before we reach our destination.  We had lunch at Kenny Roger’s Roasters as the kids prefer this over the other restaurants.  Our flight was overbooked and we were able to fly by around 12:30 pm.  We arrive at Caticlan Airport at around 1:30 pm.

Upon finishing with the arrival procedures we were greeted by our transfer service from South West Transport.  They were courteous and guided us to our coaster, which would take us to the Jetty Port for our boat/bangka transfer to Boracay.  The trip from the airport to the Jetty Port took only about 15 minutes.  Upon arrival at the Jetty Port, we saw that it was packed with tourist, buying tickets for the boat/bangka transfer.  The good thing was that our transfer service had their own counter for the payment of the P100 terminal fee and P75 environmental fee.  We all paid the terminal fee and environmental fee, and was whisked into the waiting/holding area.  While at the waiting/holding area, they gave us the tickets for our boat/bangka transfer, which incidentally was their own boat/bangka.  We waited for a short while, before the boat/bangka was reeady, and were told to board it.

Sunning Boracay Sunset

Sunning Boracay Sunset

The travel time from the Caticlan Jetty Port to Boracay Jetty Port took around 20-25 minutes.  When we arrived there, we were greeted by the driver of the van that would bring us to Astoria Boracay, the hotel where we will be staying for 4 days and 3 nights.  The ride took around 10-15 minutes.  When we arrived at our hotel we were welcomed by the hotel staff.  We finished with the booking formalities, we were escorted to our room, and given complimentary welcome drinks.  The welcome drinks was okay, not great but it was able to do its task of quenching our thirst from the heat.

Our resort rooms was quite big, able to sleep 3-4 people.  It was well appointed.  We booked 4 individual rooms for each family.  There was a big screen TV, an inverter type airconditioner, microwave oven, in room safe, utensils, plates, and other amenities.  The bathroom was also quite big, has a bath tub, wash basin, and was well stocked with amenities from dental hygiene kits, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, combs, cotton buds, etc.  It was also sound proofed to keep the outside noise at a tolerable level.  The key was an RFID key that you need to insert for the lights, electronics, and electricity to work.

The resort has an acceptable adult and children pool.  The had wooden floors on the pool area so as not to slippery and hot if you decide to walk barefooted.  It also has a restaurant called, White Cafe, where we will be having our buffet breakfast for the past 4 days.  The restaurant also has outside seating for those who want to eat with the beach view.  And just beyond the restaurant is the pristine white sand beach.

We decided to roam around and look for convenience stores, where we would be able to buy bottled water, and bread.  We were able to find Budget Mart, and Julie’s Bakeshop just besides it at D’ Mall area.

Since we arrived there in the afternoon, we decided to rest in our rooms, before embarking on our adventure during the coming days.  We decided to have buffet dinner at the Astoria Boracay restaurant, but opted for outside seating so we would be by the beach.  There was a nightly performance, such as fire dancers, and a band after every session.  This continued on until late in the evening.  The buffet selection was okay.  There were roasting/barbecue corner located outside the restaurant, and the rest of the food was located indoors.  They also have a second floor, for those who want a little personal time.

Astoria Boracay Resort Frontage Facing the Beach

Astoria Boracay Resort Frontage Facing the Beach

The next day, we had a hearty buffet breakfast.  Then waited for the guys from Fun Philippines/JALS, for our Helmet Diving and Parasailing Adventure.  The guide informed me that he would meet up with us just outside the resort.  While waiting there were a lot of people passing and going, some selling items/food/drinks, while others were giving away free trial.  I got a sample of the Pepsi Slush, which comes in either Orange (Mirinda), and Green (Mountain Dew), and also got some for my nieces, and my son.  My son liked the Orange sample, that he asked me to buy the 12 oz. cup for him.  This would entail my nieces to follow suit.  At least this took their minds of the heat, and the waiting.

Finally the guide arrived, and escorted us to the registration counter.  He informed me that me and Mark, would be trying the Helmet Diving adventure first, then the Parasailing adventure later.  A motorized boat/bangka brought us out to further to the seas to a floating hut, which is where we would be given instructions about Helmet Diving, also known as Helmet Diving 101.  We were informed that the helmet would weight at around 25-35 kilograms on land, and would become lighter, about 1-2 kilograms, when we go down.  We were told to climb down to a ladder until shoulder deep, then the helmet was lowered down on us.  We went down the ladder.  The current was a bit strong, moving us back and forth.  They took pictures and videos of us, while helmet diving, and feeding the fishes with bread.  We were under the water for around 20-30 minutes.  We went up the ladder again to ascend.  We were told to wait for a motorized boat/bangka which would bring us to our next adventure.

Helmet Diving Adventure

Helmet Diving Adventure

The motorized boat/bangka finally arrived after 10-15 minutes.  We waited until the passengers were able to disembark first. Then we embarked into the boat/bangka.  There were around 4 of us, who would be taken to another area of the sea, for our parasailing adventure.  Upon arriving another floating hut, we disembarked, and were told to wait for the speed boat that would be our ride, for the parasailing adventure.  Me and Mark were the first pair to be suited with safety harness, and other safety gears.  We were told to seat down, and relax.  When the speed boat sped up, we were slowly being lifted up the air.  As the speed boat sped up, we went higher up in the air.  I assume that we reached the height of around 100-150 feet in the air.  It was a thrilling yet refreshing experience.  We saw the sea, the shore, and the other islands while we were up in the air.  We were up there for around 20-30 minutes as well.  After us a Mainland Chinese couple followed soon.  The man was able to speak a little English, and the woman mostly in Mandarin.  They did the same thing we did.  As soon as they were slowly being lifted into the air, the woman kept shouting/panicking.  The man, after about 1 minute up in the air, signaled the operator that they wanted to be reeled in, as the woman kept shouting/panicking.

Parasailing Adventure

Parasailing Adventure

We came back at around lunch time, and we all decided to roam around and look for some place to eat.  We chanced upon Paradiso Grill, which served “Grilled” seafood, chicken, and other non grilled food.  We had a hearty lunch, and decided to rest a bit, before swimming in the sea.  On our way back to the resort, my son Mark saw Crazy Crepes, and he decided that he wanted to try it out.

After swimming in the sea for a while, we showered and had change of clothes for Dinner.  We roamed again, but this time took to the opposite side.  We chanced upon Obama Grill Bar & Restaurant.  AS the name implies it served “Grilled” food, but also served pasta, chicken, Bistek Tagalog (Beef Steak Filipino Style), soups, etc.  We discussed about our activities for the next day, which would have been Zip Line, Glass Bottom Boat, and Banana Boat Ride.  We walked back to our resort, and called it a day.

The next morning, we met up with the same guide at the same place.  We were led to the registration booth for formalities, of which after we were escorted to our Banana Boat Ride.  Me, Mark, Vivian, and Vicky were the only ones who wanted to try the Boracay version of the Banana Boat Ride.  Initially it rained, which delayed our adventure, as the visibility would be poor.  After the rained stopped, the speed boat slowly sped up.  We held on tightly, even though we wore life jackets.  The speed boat sped up faster and faster.  Some of us barely was able to hold on.  Some of us lost their balance, such as me and Vicky.  But we were able to finish the ride, without anyone of us being thrown off the Banana Boat Ride.

Banana Boat Ride Adventure

Banana Boat Ride Adventure

After the Banana Boat Ride, I took a shower by the beach, while Mark dipped into the pool.  Me and Mark again waited for our next adventure, the Superman Zip Line.  Our guide informed us that the Zip Line would be at the other side of the island, and that a van would be picking and driving us to the location.  We were picked up and driven to the mountainous area of the island.  It took us about 20 minutes to get there from the resort.  We were told to go up one floor, and register/sign a waiver, before we would be allowed up to the Zip Line platform.  They suited us up, and tied us up for safety.  The initial few meters was a bit exciting, but the further you go, and the faster you go, the feeling changed to that of being like a free bird, able to fly.  We saw golf courses below us, and ATV’s.  We were told to take the Cable Car back to the platform four our ride back to our resort.  We took the van back, and met up with the rest of the family for lunch.

Superman Zip Line Adventure

Superman Zip Line Adventure

Since we liked the food of Obama Grill so much, the night before.  We decided to have lunch there as well.  Bad idea! During dinner, there were not too many people, and the servers were able to serve the food immediately.  While during lunch time, there were more people, and the servers had a difficult time serving all of the orders.  We finished at almost 2 pm.  We proceeded back to the resort, and rest, while waiting for our 3 pm Glass Bottom Boat adventure.  The guide texted/SMS me that the Glass Bottom Boat was out of order, and that it was the only one on the island.  So we decided to have an Island Hopping adventure instead.  The guide told me that the Island Hopping adventure would last for about 3 hours.  We were promptly picked up at around 3 pm.  And we were off! We stopped by after a few minutes to go see some fishes, and snorkeling.  We spent around 15 minutes there, after we went to the other side of the island.  The sand there was a bit rough, the waves/tides were a bit strong, and the water was more than waist deep after a few meters, unlike the beach in Station 1, were in a few meters, and the water is still below the knee.  We spent a few minutes there, and then proceeded to see the Shangrila Boracay Resort, which the guide told us commanded a P25,000 a night price.  And also we were shown the famous Boracay West Cove, which was the news item for a few weeks, and according to the guide, was co owned by Congressman Manny Pacquiao.   Almost 3 hours had past, and we were back to the starting point.

Island Hopping Adventure

Island Hopping Adventure

The Expensive and Luxurious Shangrila Boracay Resort

The Expensive and Luxurious Shangrila Boracay Resort

The Infamous Boracay West Cove

The Infamous Boracay West Cove

We took a shower, and some rest.  Me and my family decided to eat in, as they were very tired from the days activities.  So I went out, and bought Four Cheese Pizza from Yellow Cab Pizza for Emily and Mark, which was just besides our resort.  I decided to buy from The Original Hawaiian Barbecue.  I ordered their half chicken, which was juicy, sweet, and big.  We also prepared everything as tomorrow, we would be picked up by the transfer from South West Transport, at 8 am.  Then we called it a night.

Early the next day, we ate breakfast at around 7 am, and after we finished, did a final sweep of our resort rooms, to check if we might have left something in the room.  As usual, the transfer was punctual, even early.  The trip lasted for about 15 minutes.  We arrived the Boracay Jetty Port at around 8:25 am, and was escorted to the terminal fee counter of South West Transport, which we politely paid.  After payment we were escorted into the waiting/holding area, to wait for our ferry service to Caticlan.  Arriving in Caticlan we were asked to follow the guide, who led us to a coaster, which bought us to the Caticlan Airport in 15 minutes.  We checked in at around 9 am.  After finishing with all the check in formalities, we waited to go into the boarding area.  We saw, Mr. Kim Atienza, a famous news casters/weatherman, with his family.  We paid our terminal fee and went into the boarding area.  Our flight was a bit delayed.

While Waiting For Our Flight Back To Manila

While Waiting For Our Flight Back To Manila

Marian turns over 100 bangkas via GMA's Kapuso Adopt-A-Bangka Project

Marian turns over 100 bangkas via GMA’s Kapuso Adopt-A-Bangka Project

 

Exactly a month after its launch, GMA Network’s Kapuso Adopt-A-Bangka Project was able to fulfill its commitment to give out, for its first wave, 100 bangka to the fisherfolk communities of the Bantayan Island in Northern Cebu through a turnover ceremony held on February 18.

 

Said campaign, which was launched by GMA Regional TV, the business unit which manages the regional TV operations of GMA, on January 18, in partnership with the Bantayan Island Association of Hotels, Resorts, Bars, and Restaurants Inc., intends to help provide long term livelihood opportunities to those affected by super typhoon Yolanda in Northern Cebu by rehabilitating and rebuilding their bangka through the help of various sponsors.

 

Present during the formal turnover of bangka were: Kapuso Adopt-A-Bangka Project Ambassadress, Marian Rivera; Kapuso Adopt-A-Bangka Project Key Point Person and AVP/Head, Integrated Marketing Services Division of GMA Regional TV, Oliver Victor Amoroso; Kapuso Adopt-A-Bangka Project Co-key Point Person and Station Manager of GMA Central and Eastern Visayas, Ann Marie Tan; and Bantayan Island Association of Hotels, Resorts, Bars and Restaurants, Inc. President, Allan Monreal.

 

For updates and developments on the Kapuso Adopt-A-Bangka Project, the campaign websitewww.kapusoadoptabangkaproject.blogspot.com may be visited.

Metro Manila is going to encounter what I call a Traffic Tragedy.  This week work on the Skyway Project 3, which would connect South to North or vice versa, started already.  People and the Philippine government are panicking, as they are anticipating the head ache inducing traffic congestion that would ensue, as construction will be starting soon, and some of the roads are being closed/narrowed to make way for the project.  I do concur with the initial reaction of the public, but I would like to point out to the Philippine government, that there are a few avenues that can be explored, to lessen the impact of the major road projects that would last for 2 years or more.

The government could revive the Pasig River Ferry Service, which would provide an alternative mode of transportation for the public, as long as the Pasig River is cleaned, so as not to hamper the operations of the ferry service, and also informal settlers along the Pasig River should be relocated, so as not to add to the pollution of the river.  The ferry service could also be a tourist attraction likes the river or ferry services of European cities, if all of those mentioned before are met.  Also the ferry service would be running smoothly as there is no traffic in the river passages, which would mean faster travel time for the public.

Also the government could adapt what is already present in Europe, in developed cities, and even in our very own backyard.  What I mean is the rent a bike program and bike paths in major cities  overseas.  This would provide alternative mode of transport and at the same time a healthy way to exercise for the public.  Our very own Makati has a bike rental program in place already, which we can further enhance and replicate in Metro Manila cities.

Also we can use the existing transport facilities we have, such as the PNR (Philippine National Railways) train which plies from Alabang to Tutuban, the LRT, and MRT.  We just need to have it developed further, such as adding train service, frequency, and if possible add more carriages/cabins.

There is also another alternative mode, which is popular in the United States, which is the carpooling.  This would lessen the numbers of vehicles on the roads, and save more on fuel.  In the U.S. the system works like this, in a neighborhood one person with a vehicle(car/van) picks up those who joined the carpool, and brings them to a certain location close to the working locations of those who joined the carpool.  Each passenger either pitch in by paying for fuel, and other costs (parking, incidentals) incurred by the vehicle, during the duration of the carpooling, this is done on a monthly, weekly, daily basis, depending on the vehicles owners whim.  This can be done either one way or roundtrip, based on the agreement that was made.

There are various possibilities to explore.  The only thing that would make it all work is through the cooperation of the government, and the public.  Because if either one of them, does not do its part, then the whole system will not work, adding to more head aches for both parties.

Our government cannot implement changes within each of its many departments, which is why we are lagging behind our Asian counterparts.  It is because each individual, especially those who are in the higher chain of command, has each their own agenda.  Changes that is crucial for the country to grow are being hampered, as it might prove to be a money losing option for the departments management.  Each one is in it to enrich himself/herself, no one is looking for the benefit of the country, and for the improvement of the lives of millions of Filipinos, impoverished or otherwise.

Why can’t we copy or duplicate the methods used by other countries in implementing changes that would improve the lives of its citizens? Do not think of it as not being original, or plagiarizing, but think of it as improving the lives of every Filipino.

In Hong Kong, the Mass Transit Railway is controlled by the government, and so is the payment system that it uses, the Octopus Card.  They have proven and shown that the business is sound and profitable earning the government billions of dollars in revenue, while at the same time creating a clean, convenient, and comfortable mass transport and payment system, that has been a great factor in improving the lives of its citizens.  Why can’t we adopt their system, and duplicate it here? What is stopping us?

Why are our airports dilapidated and in shambles? Where has all the money that has been invested into it go? Why do we need too many terminals? Can’t we create one mega terminal to service all of the flights? This would eliminate unnecessary employment to numerous individuals, who sometimes do nothing, and just sit around, beefing up their pockets? Why can’t we copy Hong Kong (again), and the way it runs its airport? Their airport and ours are so far apart.  The only difference I see here is because the head of the governments, compliment and continue what the previous head of government has done, unlike here, the new one undermines and destroys the good that the previous one has done.  Don’t they know that these improvements would have bettered the lives of the millions of Filipinos?

Why are our mass transport systems unstructured and in shambles? Why are there numerous buses who are old, and dilapidated that still ply the streets, which breakdown, create traffic, and causes accidents? Why are their franchises renewed time and time again, and are not revoked even if their buses have cause numerous accidents, and unnecessary deaths? Why are there so many taxis, jeeps, tricycles, and other forms of mass transport franchises that are approved, even if the streets are littered with them, who do not have passengers?

Why does the government not install solar powered lights or provide solar energy to those affected by disaster, and isolation, even if it takes years for the energy providers to repair or install light or power? Why does the government wait and see, and not help improve the plight of the Filipinos? Are they afraid that power generators/energy suppliers complain? They can remove or pull out these improvements, when they have repaired or installed light or electricity, and simply transfer or reuse them again when the need arise.

I am not one to complain, but I have seen enough suffering and not enough action, that it has left me wondering and disgruntled by the inept and inaction that our government is doing.  When can we be proud? When can we say that our lives have improved? When will our descendants see the day that our beloved Philippines, is at par with the rest of the world, or at least with its Asian neighbors?

Last December 26, 2013, me and my family were bound for Hong Kong to spend our week long Christmas vacation there. We perused our American Express Cards issued by BDO, so we can use the Club Manila airport lounge located in Ninoy Aquino International Airport, while waiting for our boarding announcement. The lounge was full as it was Christmas and a a lot of people were taking advantage of the Christmas vacation from school. Since the lounge was full, we were escorted to another airport lounge, which is part of the same company, although on the second floor. We relaxed, ate some light meals, had coffee, a few drinks, and check our e-mails. We had an 11 am flight, which would bring us to Hong Kong at around 1 pm. At around 10:35 am, we heard our boarding announcements and proceeded to the departure gate.

We took Cathay Pacific Airways as we converted our Asiamiles points in exchange for flights. We were five passengers, namely me, my son, my wife, my sister in law, and my mother in law. When we landed in Hong Kong, we proceeded to the immigration counters, afterwards the luggage claim counter. Upon our exit, we saw a man carrying a placard with my name. So I approached him, and he told me that a limousine was arranged to bring us to our hotel. He was surprised that there were 5 people in our group, as he was notified that there were only 2 people. So instead of 1 car takings us to our hotel, we rode in two separate Mercedes Benzes.

We arrived at our hotel in a little over 30 minutes from the airport. We were billeted at the Renaissance Harbour View Hong Kong Hotel, for 6 nights. We also perused my Marriott Rewards to redeem our hotel stay in exchange of my Marriott Rewards Points. Our room was rather spacious. My son’s first instinct was to turn on the TV and check if there were any channels featuring animation, which there was, which pleasantly surprised him. We rest for the duration of the afternoon. My son informed me that he wanted to go to Hong Kong Disneyland the very next day, to which I said yes.

The very next day, me and my son proceeded to the Wanchai MTR Station, to go to Central MTR Station/Hong Kong Station. Upon reaching Central/Hong Kong Station, we proceeded to the interchange, in order for us to take the MTR from Central/Hong Kong Station to Sunny Bay MTR Station. Upon reaching Sunny Bay MTR Station, we disembarked and waited for the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort Train, which would ultimately bring us to Hong Kong Disneyland. Since it was the Christmas holidays, there were may people. We visited some of my son’s favorite attractions, such as Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blaster, Philharmagic, Mystic Point, Enchanted Gardens, Toy Story Land, Grizzly Gulch, etc. The Mystic Point Manor was closed when we passed by in the morning, so we decided to proceed to Grizzly Gulch. We had a bite at the Grizzly Gulch Salon. We took some pictures at the Gold Nugget, etc. Afterwards we went pass Toy Story Land, which had long lines, so we opted to go to watch the Philharmagic show. We were treated to a feast in Beast Enchanted Castle, safari trip in Simba’s African Kingdom, flew in a magic carpet in Alladin’s Dessert Palace, and got wet and swam in Ariel’s Underwater Kingdom. Afterwards we proceeded to Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blaster. We had tons of fun blasting Emperor Zurg and his nasty space minions. We came back to Mystic Manor, but the lines then was too long. It stated that we needed to wait in line for an hour. So my son decided to head back to forego the attraction. We proceeded back to our hotel.

Taken near Food Street in Causeway Bay

Taken near Food Street in Causeway Bay


That night we decided to eat at our favorite restaurant, Delicious Kitchen, which was located in Food Street in Causeway Bay. When we arrived there were not too many customers yet, so we were able to get seats immediately. We ordered their specialty Double Pork Rib with Vegetable Rice, plus I ordered an additional deep fried pigs intestine. We had a sumptuous dinner.

The next day me and my wife, ran some personal errands. We jumped from place to place the whole day. We were tired from all day of walking and commuting, that we decided to retire to our hotel early, and rest.

The next day, me and my son went to the Apple IFC Hong Kong Store, to have a cousins iPhone 4S checked and repaired. While in IFC we decided to watch the movie Frozen in 3D at the IFC Cinema. Afterwards we decided to have dinner in Crystal Jade Restaurant. We were stuffed, and decided to take home additional food for my wife, my sister in law, and my mother in law.

My son wanted to visit Windsor House to check out what’s new in Toys R Us. He saw something he liked, but we opted not to buy it as we were carrying a lot of things already. We just decided to buy Pork Coin and Pork Jerky from Bee Cheng Hiang.

Mark, the Christmas Tree, and Central Plaza

Mark, the Christmas Tree, and Central Plaza


We also went to Worldwide Plaza to check on things. On the way there we passed by Central Plaza, and decided to take some pictures.

Disney Character Christmas Tree in Harbour City

Disney Character Christmas Tree in Harbour City


Second to the last night, we decided to go to Tsimshatsui, and do some shopping. We weren’t able to find anything we liked, but my son was able to get 2 Power Rangers Megazords. He was ecstatic with his haul.

Taken at Harbour City in Tsim Sha Tsui

Taken at Harbour City in Tsim Sha Tsui

On the day of our flight, after checking out, we waited for our transportation to the airport. We were pleasantly surprised that our service was a Toyota Alphard, which is the luxury version of an MPV/Van. Our flight was at 5:55 pm, so we were supposed to arrive in Manila at approximately 8 pm of December 31, 2013. We also perused the benefits of our credit cards, which was complimentary lounge access at the Traveler’s Hong Kong Airport Lounge. We had some meals, drinks, coffee, read newspaper, browsed the net, etc.

Simply to put our Christmas Family Vacation in Hong Kong, it’s “Spectacular!”

Tom Rodriguez Rocco Nacio and Max Collins Mark Herras Marian Rivera.jpg Kris Bernal Aljur Abrenica and Julie Anne San Jose Jestoni Alarcon Dennis Trillo Arnold Clavio, Marian Rivera, Dingdong DantesThere is nothing more unique than the heart of a Filipino—soft enough to care for the weak, strong enough to rise up to the challenge. GMA Network knocks on this very heart as the country faces another great challenge—the nation’s survival and recovery from typhoon Yolanda.

 

With the joint efforts of GMA Kapuso Foundation and YES Pinoy Foundation, last November 17, the Kapuso Network invited everyone to take part in a one time television special aptly entitled, “TIBAY NG PUSONG PILIPINO, A GMA Telethon for the benefit of the victims of typhoon Yolanda.

 

This special featured a powerhouse cast of respectable names in the music and showbiz industry, headlined by the biggest and brightest Kapuso stars, with the special participation of News and Public Affairs personalities.

 

Viewers got to see various Kapuso artists in heartwarming production numbers, live updates in the affected areas, and special activities (such as live telethon, and repacking of goods) all for the survival and recovery of the victims of typhoon Yolanda.

 

As of November 26, GMA Kapuso Foundation has received a total of Php166,083,570.95 in cash andPhp26,244,191.88 worth of in-kind donations. Total amount of donations is Php192,327,762.83.  Those who wish to extend financial aid to GMAKF may visit the GMA Kapuso Foundation website athttp://www.gmanetwork.com/KapusoFoundation.

 

Meanwhile, to know the details on how to subscribe to GMA International channels – GMA Pinoy TV, GMA Life TV and GMA News TV International, please visit the GMA International websitewww.gmanetwork.com/international, Facebook pages www.facebook.com/GMAPinoyTV,www.facebook.com/gmalifetv, and, www.facebook.com/gmanewsinternational, or Twitter pages@GMAPinoyTV and @GMA_LifeTV.

This is my most recent personal post after a long long time.  I have heard a lot in the news lately.  Flooding in Metro Manila, Summary Execution here and there, Sinking of Roro Ferry, Sex for flight scandal, etc.  Why is all of these happening here and abroad involving the Philippines?

As for the flooding in Metro Manila, government departments have been pointing fingers here and there.  The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has been pointing the blame for the flooding, at The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), saying that MMDA has not done its part in cleaning of the sewers/drainage and canals.  In retaliation, MMDA is blaming the DPWH for the slow and inefficient installation/replacement of antiquated sewer/drainage systems by its appointed contractors and sub contractors.  Why can’t they just work together, in order to find a solution to the problem, that has beleaguered the citizens/residents, for a very long long time.  Instead of bickering with each other, why don’t they just team up and work together for the best solution!

As for the summary executions, I feel that those who do the summary executions, feel that they are helping the nation/community by killing criminals, or cleansing it of the dirt.  But why only pick pockets or snatchers are being killed? Why not go after the big time criminals and multiple offenders such as the killers, rapist, etc., if they are indeed trying to cleanse the nation/community? Or it could be the police authorities cleansing their plate, by killing criminal who could be associated with them.  But whichever it is, taking someone else’s life is not up to us.  Only the Creator has the right to do that.  Taking someone else’s life is a mortal sin, against mankind, and against God!

Sinking of the Roro Ferry, this type of disasters have been going on since time immemorial.  Overloading of passengers, poor maintenance of the marine vessels, overloading of cargo, fires, etc., are the common causes blamed on such sinking.  The question we should ask is what happens after? After the sinking, were the causes rectified? Were the responsible people penalized or imprisoned? The usual answer is no.  Which is why these types of disaster will keep on happening, as the persons held responsible for the disasters are not penalized/imprisoned or held liable.

Sex for flight scandal.  I have heard on the news, that these rumors of the said scandal has been rife for a long time.  Even when, Mr. Noli De Castro, was Vice President.  But are these rumors true? No one has been brave enough to surface as a witness, to prosecute or even implicate these government personnels.  If it is true, do these government personnels have no heart? To take advantage of people, especially women, who have already been abused and taken advantage of by individuals.  Do they want to further hurt or burden these poor poor OFW’s? Whose only wish or dream is to provide a better future for themselves and their family?

Is our world becoming too commercialized, insensitive to the feeling of others, that feelings of empathy, sympathy, and caring for others, are all gone and amiss? What is happening to our world? What kind of world are we leaving our kids, grand kids, and the future generations? I do hope that we would all be able to wake up in time, to rectify all of our mistakes, and give the future generations, including our kids, and grand kids a brighter future to embrace!

This weekend, while having a family bonding time, I day dreamed and visited memory lane.  I day dreamed about years past, when I was growing up, until I ended up growing old.  I compared what my son has these day, to what I had when I was his age.  The comparison is so great.  Especially when it comes to technology.

As I was growing up in the 80’s, your household was considered well off, if you had a CRT Television, a refrigerator, and a mobile phone.  We all had those, and during those times I thought that this was the state of the art, and it would take half a decade for this type of appliances to be obsolete.  Boy, was I wrong.  Just to illustrate what we had then, are some photos for comparison.  The mobile phone then, was the military type mobile phone.  It was chunky, cumbersome, and heavy, and the only function it had then, was to make and receive phone calls.  Our refrigerator was the old type fridge, that kept food fresh, made ice, and made drinks cold.  The television during those times was the Cathode Ray Tube type of television, you could watch your favorite television programs.  Then in school, we had a pen and notebook, for taking down notes in class.

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When I was finishing college, technology began to upgrade itself, things became smaller, lighter, energy saving, and supposed to offer more features than the old type of appliances.  During this time, the mobile phone became more compact, such as the Motorola Star Tac, which makes and receives calls and send and receive SMS (Short Messaging System).  Then they offered a “No Frost” refrigerator, to offer a no mess, no clean feature to housewives.  Then came the advent of the LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) and the LED (Light Emitting Diode) type television, offer a lighter more compact, brighter screen, more crisp sounds, and feature laden TV viewing.  Our traditional notebooks, were replaced by the PDA (Personal Digital Assistant), such as the “Palm/Palm Pilot PDA,” which not only offered the function of a notebook of jotting down notes, but also has a calculator, games, calendar, alarm, can remind you of appointments, and can fit in the palm of your hands, hence the brand name “Palm/Palm Pilot PDA.”

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Now, technology has again upgraded itself again.  Offering us all the comforts of our past appliances, plus more.  The mobile phones has become lighter, more compact, and more feature laden.  You can not only make and receive calls, send and receive SMS (Short Messaging System), you can also play games, send and receive e-mails, browse the internet, it also reminds you of appointments, has an alarm clock, makes you connect with friends through social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., it also saves you a ton of money through internet telephony services, such as Skype, iMessage, Viber, What’s App, etc.  Then Smart fridge arrived, offering to keep your food fresh, make ice, make your drinks cold, energy efficiency through inverter technology, add vitamins and ions to your food to keep you healthy, show you the temperature for the day, inform you of the traffic situation for your commute to work, get the latest news, and tell you what groceries you need to buy to replenish the stock on your fridge.  After the Smart fridge, the Smart TV also appeared,  giving you more in depth colors, more vibrant sound, is more compact, energy efficient, can connect to the internet, you can check your email, connect to social media, search for information of your favorite shows, and download movies or television shows.  The Palm/Palm Pilot PDA has been replaced by the iPad, as the tool of choice for schools.  With the iPad, you can jot down notes, play games, has a calculator, take photos, shoot videos, send and receive e-mails, update your status in your social media, connect to the internet, watch movies/shows/videos, listen to music, and play musical instruments.

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So the comparison of what I used when I was studying then, to what my son is using now in his studies, is such a huge gap.  Technology has brought about changes in the lifestyle of the people.  Technology is beneficial and a great tool if put in the proper hands, but technology can also be a detrimental and mischievous tool if in the wrong hands.  So we must still keep an eye on the use of technology, especially by our kids, and grand kids.

My poor, poor dear countrymen! What is to become of us? I have this usual habit of reading the daily papers, listening to the AM radio, and watching news on television.  And all that I see bade bad news for all of us.

From the news about the elections, to the use of the AES (Automated Election System) or the PCOS (Precinct Count Optical Scan) machine of the COMELEC (Commission on Election), to the unscrupulous tactics of politician vying for position in the coming May 2013 elections, to the various fires that has hit the country, and the pounding of Tropical Depression “Crising” of the Mindanao area.  These news worries me, but not as much as what has transpired and will be transpiring soon.

Just last week, petroleum prices went up by as much as P1.50 per liter, on top of the already expensive petroleum prices.  And just this week, reports or news of an impending energy rate hike approved for this coming March, and the impending water rate hike to be approved for the month of July.  All of these hikes are taking a toll on the Filipino citizenry.  The wages of the ordinary Filipino has not increased in proportion to the increases being implemented by the petroleum, energy, and water conglomerates.  How will we cope with all these hikes coming one after the other?

The increase in petroleum prices, will definitely affect all of us one way or another.  The fares in public transport will definitely increase as well sooner or later.  The prices of basic goods such as vegetables, fish, and meats, will surely increase as well, as the cost of transporting these goods has increased.  The prices of prepared foods will surely increase as well.

The approved energy rate hike for this coming March, will surely add another burden, to the already heavy burden the typical Filipino family is already carrying.  The use of the television, which is the only form of entertainment of most typical Filipino family, will be limited.  The use of the electric fan, the air conditioner, the refrigerator, and other home appliances will also be limited, causing undue inconvenience, and discomfort to all members of the typical Filipino family.

The impending water hike due for July, is another heavy burden.  We, the Filipinos, is one of the most hygienically conscious people in the world.  We regularly take baths, some of whom take two (2) baths a day, to cool ourselves down from the extreme heat of the Philippines.  We regularly brush our teeth from two (2) to three (3) times a day.  We hand wash our clothes daily.   We wash our kitchen utensils pots, and plates, after every meal.  The use of the bathroom is common among all households, to relieve ourselves.  All of these requires the use of water.

The thing that irate me is the wages/salary of the typical Filipino, does not increase as much as the increase in the prices of these utilities.  The already tight budget of the typical Filipino household, would be even more tighter with the introduction of these price hikes.

I pity the typical Filipino family.  I pity all of us.  Only a few of us are unaffected by these price hikes.  But the majority of us, the 99%, will surely cringe, and suffer.  Why is the government doing nothing, to help alleviate the lives of the majority, the 99% of the Filipino? Are we not important enough to be given notice? Are we minuscule to be noticed? Are our sufferings too little to be significant enough? When will our government act? When shall we taste an easier, more convenient, and more relaxing life? Will we taste it when we are dead or dying?

Its time for our government to act.  Its time for us to wake up! Its time for us to choose the people, who will lead us to a more greener pasture, a more easier, a more convenient, and a more relaxing life! Wake up Filipino!