Wake Up, Philippines!


Posted in DPWH, Editorial, Graft and Corruption by Erineus on March 20, 2009

Updated March 20, 2009 12:00 AM

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The rating of the Department of Public Works and Highways as the most corrupt government agency in a recent survey was not surprising. Every survey on corruption shows the DPWH in competition with the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs for the top slot.

What was new, and disheartening, in Pulse Asia’s February 2009 Nationwide Survey on Corruption was that among the respondents who said they had personally experienced corruption, a high 81 percent opted to keep silent about it. Pulse Asia said keeping silent could be “the most reasonable action to take in light of the experiences of whistle-blowers in publicized cases” such as Rodolfo Lozada Jr.

Lozada and his family are still living on the kindness of nuns and priests of De la Salle University. He faces charges in connection with his former government job. The charges were filed only after he defied the administration and told the Senate what he knew about the national broadband network deal between China’s ZTE Corp. and the Department of Transportation and Communications. He is out of a job, while most of those implicated in that deal have kept theirs or have been promoted, including those he said were involved in the effort to keep him silent.

Other whistle-blowers have suffered worse fates. And after suffering those fates, the worst part is that nothing happens to the corruption cases that they have denounced. After the ZTE deal was scrapped, the administration has tried to wish away the corruption controversy and revive the broadband deal in a new version. Amid bribery allegations, Benjamin Abalos was forced to quit as chairman of the Commission on Elections, a few months short of the end of his fixed term, but he now seems to be enjoying his retirement.

With recent developments, you can’t blame Filipinos who think that blowing the whistle on corruption is an exercise in futility. Who is rewarded in this country, and who are the losers? In the next survey, the number of Filipinos who decide to keep silent in the face of controversy will likely be higher.


Discover the best of Manila with Jeepney Tours!

Posted in Luzon, Manila, Tourism, Travel by Erineus on March 20, 2009

First Posted 19:09:00 03/12/2009

You can’t say that you’ve been to Manila if you haven’t had the chance to ride the cultural icon of the Philippines, the jeepney!

The Jeepney is a unique transportation that can only be found in the Philippines. It was originally made from the US military jeeps that were left to the Filipinos after World War II, giving it the powerful engine of an army jeep. With great Filipino ingenuity, the body was remodeled by adding some metal roofs and decorating it with vibrant colors. It has rapidly emerged as a creative and popular means of public transportation. Tagged as the “King of the Road,” it has become an enduring symbol of Philippine pop culture.

We are proud to introduce the concept of “Jeepney ours”, a breakthrough in Philippine tourism that offers a convenient and daily sightseeing tour to travelers staying in five star hotels who wish to explore the best of Manila. Its main objective is to leave a positive image of the Philippines with every single ride.

The jeepney tours will take the travelers on a fascinating tour of the historical and vibrant city of Manila onboard a custom-built air-conditioned jumbo jeepney which can easily seat 20 people. A tour facilitator will join the passengers for the whole duration of the tour to point out interesting landmarks and give you brief backgrounds on the places that will be visited.

Stuck in Manila traffic? Fret not! There is a videoke system onboard to keep the guests entertained on the way back. The jeepney has a cooler for storing cold bottled drinks to keep the guests refreshed and hydrated at all times.

The Jeepney Tours is an essential introduction to Manila in a fun and informative way and it links the travelers to the main attractions of the city. It is a perfect gift that can be offered to visiting friends and colleagues to experience all the magical sights and sounds of Manila in an entertaining, comfortable and secure environment.

“The Jeepney Tours is a tourism breakthrough that we are extremely proud of. Despite all the challenges, our profound commitment to the tourism industry fueled us to develop a major tourism infrastructure that transports the tourists to a day filled with fascinating experiences, a day packed with cultural learning and beautiful memories that will make them remember the Philippines at its best.” Clang Garcia, Managing Director of Jeepney Tours.

The Jeepney Tours can be booked at major five stars hotel with Thematic Tours to choose from.

Intramuros: A Cultural Heritage Tour
Metro Manila is the urban capital of the Philippines. Comprised of several bustling cities, it is the country’s bastion of modernity and cosmopolitan appeal. Manila is the premier gateway to any destination in the country. It serves its own menu of attractions and activities. Visit Manila and walk the walls of the old historical town of Intramuros and find out for yourself why it is hailed as one of the best preserved medieval cities in the world.

Spa and Shopping Spree
Travelers can indulge in purely pleasurable activities as they treat themselves to one fine day in Manila – one of the greatest spa and shopping destinations in Asia! From power spending down to flea market bargaining, one will never run out of options while exploring the malls of Manila, the uncontested shopper’s paradise. Tourists can pamper their body after a day of discoveries as they unwind and get the treatment they deserve amidst a relaxing atmosphere of a serene spa. What an exciting way to spend a day in the city!

Sunset Cocktail Cruise
Manila Bay is known for its captivating sunset. An extraordinary sight to behold because of the different play of colors decorating the sky, the Manila Bay sunset is a truly pleasurable experience in the city. Locals and tourists are known to hangout and spend their lazy afternoons by the bay along the historical Roxas Boulevard; however, a far better treat is to seize the moment while riding on to the sunset with a cocktail cruise. Before sailing away to the cruise, tourists will enjoy a sightseeing tour of Manila en route to the Manila Bay harbor where they will board a yacht to experience a memorable ride with their loved ones. Onboard, guests may explore the wide docks of the yacht, and after watching the sun go down, different wines and beverages will be served as guests enjoy the sea breeze of the cool night. Perfect for couples looking for a special romantic setting, the Sunset Cocktail Cruise is an ideal affair to remember.

Pampanga Escapade: Fly, Dine and Spa!
Just a short ride away to the north is the charming province of Pampanga. It is a place mixed with a proud cultural heritage and fast developing sites that cater to the international community. It is also a haven for people who want to experience the leisurely pace of the countryside. Start off your day with an English breakfast followed by a tour of a wine cellar. Then enjoy an Ultra-Light Flying experience, a sumptuous lunch and a rejuvenating spa treatment. Welcome and have a good day! Makusuelong pamagbisita keni Pampanga.

The Charm of Tagaytay
Tagaytay is the perfect day trip destination outside Manila. A scenic drive to the countryside treats the traveler’s eye to sights of pineapple plantations, colorful fruit stands, flowers in bloom, ridges and mountains swathed in green and a breathtaking view of the famous Taal Volcano – the world’s smallest volcano. Tour this extraordinary city onboard our jeepney and get to enjoy the superb food of Sonya’s English Garden, a walk around and great buys of natural products from the charming honeybee farm and a relaxing treatment at Nurture Spa offering Asian and Filipino healing traditions in native Ifugao huts from the Cordillera province.

For more info about the Jeepney Tours, please contact:

Jeepney Tours
Tel. No. (63-2) 994-6636 / 638-6644
Email: info@jeepneytours.com
Website: www.jeepneytours.com


Dalaguete trains residents on tour guiding

Posted in Tourism, Travel, Visayas by Erineus on March 20, 2009

Cebu Daily News
First Posted 14:13:00 03/12/2009

THE local government of Dalaguete in southern Cebu has trained 30 residents as part-time eco-tourism guides to travelers.

This month, an in-depth training will be conducted in cooperation with Ocean Bay Beach Resort to hone the skills of the local tour guides.

In 2006, the Cebu provincial government officially declared Mantalongon, a mountain barangay of Dalaguete, as the “Summer Capital of Cebu.”

Dalaguete is also known as the “vegetable basket of Cebu.”

The mountains of Dalaguete, with its cool climate, are home to vegetable farmers, the endangered Cebu Black Shama, locally known as siloy; pteropus vampyrus, the largest bat in the world; a variety of ferns, orchids and shrubs; rivers; and cascading waterfalls.

The town also has a reef of more than 1.5-kilometer that boasts rich marine life and and heritage sites, such as the 19th century baroque church, centuries-old houses and buildings.


Baguio is still kicking at 100

Posted in Luzon, Tourism, Travel by Erineus on March 20, 2009
March 14, 2009, 12:00am
Children perform at the streetdancing parade along Session Road in Baguio. (Photo by RUDY LIWANAG)
Children perform at the streetdancing parade along Session Road in Baguio. (Photo by RUDY LIWANAG)

Don’t let anyone tell you that Boracay has become the summer capital of the Philippines. Baguio City’s youthful Mayor Reinaldo Bautista, Jr., won’t have any of that, especially since the city is recording more tourist arrivals than ever. After all, the city welcomed throngs of tourists during its annual Panagbenga Flower parade.

Thousands flocked to the parade that featured two dozen floats adorned with cut flowers grown in the city. The floats snaked through crowds along the city’s iconic Session Road and onto Burnham Park. Because of this festival, traffic was bumper to bumper all over the city. Restaurants were full and hotel lobbies were swarmed with travelers trying to book a room. Even the spacious Teacher’s Camp, with its cottages and dormitories, was turning away tourists. The city’s most upscale hotel, The Manor at Camp John Hay, was also fully booked that weekend. In fact, the hotel was fully booked every weekend last February.

Even the bus terminals were crowded with travelers from Manila. Saturday evening, it was impossible to get a ticket for any Sunday trip at the Victory Liner terminal. An employee of ABS-CBN had traveled by bus with a few friends to Baguio on early Saturday morning. They witnessed the Saturday parade before noon and tried to check in at a hotel but there were no more rooms available. At that point, he was just hoping to book a bus ticket back to Manila that same evening. He had a slim chance of getting a ticket, even if Victory Liner had a bus leaving for Manila every 10 minutes!

These are just some of the travails a tourist puts up with when a destination is very popular.  Traffic, pollution, and full hotels are the norm. But the city is working hard to make the situation more convenient for visitors. And they’re trying to make it easier for tourists to get to this city. During a brief meeting with Manila’s lifestyle press, Mayor Bautista said two airlines will soon be operating flights between Manila and Baguio’s Loakan airport soon. “Contrary to common perception, our airport has never been closed,” he said. “Asian Spirit was set to commence scheduled flights at Loakan but this was delayed a bit when the airline was sold. It now operates under a new name, Zest Air. The new airline is expected to begin flying to Baguio, and so will SeaAir.”

He said the flights could help make Baguio a gateway to the north, particularly the Cordilleras and La Union. “The flights will offer easy access to what the north has to offer.Tourists who want to explore the other destinations of the Cordilleras, and tourists who want to go surfing at La Union’s beaches can also get there through Baguio,” he said.

Baguio City is set to mark its centennial this December and the Mayor said the celebrations have already started with the Panagbenga. He said, along with the cool mountain air and the scenic spots, the Panagbenga has become a major attraction of the city. He admitted that this year’s parade seemed watered down as compared to the previous parades. “There were fewer floats. We only had 24 floats this time. We had almost 40 last year. Sadly, the recession has forced a lot of sponsors to sit out the parade this year. Last year, the major TV networks had their own floats but they couldn’t take part this time. But they still showed their support by sending their stars to attend the parade,” he said.

The grandest float of the parade belonged to the Baguio Country Club, which featured a lavish Egyptian theme. “After the Panagbenga, we’re having a major event almost every month.  For Holy Week, we’ll be staging a production of the musical ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ at Burnham Park,” he said.

Another Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, “The Phantom of the Opera,” will follow at the same venue in June. Other highlights are the Flower Festival and the Ad Congress, among others.

“We haven’t hosted the Congress since the earthquake devastated the city in 1990,” said the Mayor.

The city has indeed come a long way since that disaster. It also has come a long way since it was founded in 1909. Photographs of the city during the 1900s can be viewed at a museum at Teacher’s Camp, where most of the houses are even older than the city itself. Some of the pictures show Americans mingling with the local people, who all wore the traditional costumes.

Yet some things in Baguio, thankfully, never change as there was a similar scene at an outdoor cocktail party held at The Manor. There, host with the most and The Manor’s managing director Heinrich Maulbecker, mingled  with the local Igorots. Only in Baguio can one see an elderly Igorot wearing a bahag hold a champagne glass as elegantly as James Bond would!