Raffle For A Cause, For Operation Smile Philippines

operation smile share info
To fellow bloggers and other concerned citizens, please help in spreading information about Operation Smile Philippines’ upcoming medical missions.

In celebration of its 30th anniversary, Operation Smile Philippines will be conducting simultaneous medical missions from November to December in various parts of the country, including Manila. FREE reconstructive surgery will be done by local and international medical volunteers to indigent children and young adults born with a cleft lip, cleft palate, and other facial deformities.

Leg 1 (Final Screening of Patients on November 10)

  1. Angeles City, Pampanga – Ospital Ning Angeles
  2. Naga City – Bicol Medical Center
  3. Silay City – Teresita Jalandoni Memorial Provincial Medical Center
  4. Cagayan de Oro City – Northern Mindanao Medical Center

Leg 2 (Final Screening of Patients on November 24)

  1. Manila – Sta. Ana Hospital: Manila Cleft Care Center
  2. Cebu – Vicente Sotto Medical Center
  3. Dasmarinas City, Cavite – Dela Salle Medical Center
  4. General Santos City – GenSan District Hospital

Chatters Care For Kids Inc., a registered NGO partner of Operation Smile Philippines,  is looking for different ways to spread information to help Operation Smile Philippines in mapping patients with cleft deformities (bingot/ngongo) throughout the country. We want to reach out to as many patients as possible.

Let’s do our part in sharing the good news about the medical missions of Operation Smile Philippines. Give someone the gift of a beautiful smile in time for the Christmas season.


Shaina before and after her operation (photo from Operation Smile Philippines website)

One way to entice people to share information is by giving incentives. So, I’m conducting a raffle to encourage everyone to join this cause. Just share the posts and subscribe to related social media accounts, and you will get chances to win any one of the two prizes at stake.

I’ll be raffling off two Bioessence gift certificates for two lucky participants. One gets a luxurious Oxygen facial treatment while the other gets a relaxing Swedish massage. GC will be shipped to winner’s address after verification. GC may be redeemed in any Bioessence beauty clinics listed on the GC. Bioessence has branches in Luzon (Metro Manila, Cainta, Bacoor, Lipa, Lucena, Meycauayan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Baguio) and Mindanao (Davao, Cotabato, Zamboanga). Raffle will be done via Rafflecopter.

Bioessence GC prize

Here are the things you need to do to earn raffle entries:

Raffle is open to PH residents and those who have relatives in PH to whom they can send the GC. Contest runs from today until November 21, 2012.
+3 like Operation Smile Philippines Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/operationsmilephils
+3 like Chatters Care For Kids Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/chatterscareforkids
+10 share this post on Facebook and tag 5 of your friends – Raffle for A Cause, For Operation Smile Philippines http://wp.me/p2dXoQ-u2
+2 follow Operation Smile Philippines Twitter account – https://twitter.com/opsmilephil (@opsmilephil)
+2 follow Chatters Care For Kids Twitter account – https://twitter.com/ccfkorg (@ccfkORG)
+2 follow this blogger’s Twitter account – https://twitter.com/mas10ph (@mas10ph)
+2 tweet this post – “Join Raffle for A Cause, For Operation Smile Philippines http://wp.me/p2dXoQ-u2 via @mas10ph”
+1 comment on this blog answering the question “What can you do to help people with cleft deformities?”
 Click on the red link to display the Rafflecopter page:

The Rafflecopter page will load in a new tab.


Here’s a previous post on Operation Smile Philippines: http://maspaborito.com/2012/07/10/call-for-volunteers-and-donations-to-bring-more-smiles/



PHmade: “It’s Worth Buying For”

global pinoy bazaar 2012

It’s (almost) the Christmas season and most of us are in a mad rush to think of presents to give to our loved ones. Instead of buying any generic item just to be able to say that we gave a gift, why not put a little thought to our gift giving efforts?

Yabang Pinoy, through its launch of the PHmade movement, again encourages Filipinos to support Filipino ideas, business concepts, products and services. PHmade’s tagline is “It’s Worth Buying For.” Think of the positive impact that going local contributes to the economy. It’s the multiplier effect at work in our economy: the price you paid for an item goes not only to the seller, but also his employees, his suppliers and service providers, his supplier’s suppliers, employees, etc. As more entrepreneurs create, develop, and expand their businesses, more job opportunities are generated.

PHmade focuses on seven categories: Produce, Home, Footwear, Fashion, Personal and Home Care, Food and Beverage, and Entertainment. The campaign will continue to collaborate with Filipino entrepreneurs and encourage them to continue to improve their products and services and to always aim for Filipino brands to be global brands.

PHmade is a project of Yabang Pinoy, the pioneering Filipino pride movement that started in 2005. As it celebrates its 8th anniversary, the organization includes it among numerous Filipino pride projects, such as the Y.A.B.A.N.G. Camp (Youth Achievers Building A Nation of Greatness Camp), Yabang Pinoy Goes to School, Pinaka-mahabang Todo Patintero, Global Pinoy Bazaar, and many more. In the 8 years that Yabang Pinoy has immersed itself in various nation-building activities, it re-affirms its belief that true progress and development in our country will start once Filipinos begin living a proudly Filipino lifestyle.

Yabang Pinoy invites every Filipino to be part of the PHmade movement. As early as now, save November 10- 11 2012 for the 8th Global Pinoy Bazaar – a showcase of Filipino products made with 100% Filipino Love and Pride.

For more information on Yabang Pinoy, visit www.yabangpinoy.com or email yabangpinoy@gmail.com.


Baguio is My Happy Place

baguio morning

I grab every chance I get to go to Baguio City. It’s my happy place. I remember many summers past spent with the family, visiting familiar landmarks. There were also some solo trips when I was simply happy to be wandering around, going nowhere in particular, just observing people and looking out for new places to explore.

I was happy to be back in Baguio this weekend to accompany friends for a much-needed work break. It was a short 2-day stay. It felt even shorter because I wasn’t feeling too well, with a nasty cough that didn’t want to be left in Manila.

It was one friend’s first time to be in Baguio, and it felt good to introduce her to the Baguio we commonly see and hear about.

pma baguio

This was as far as we can get to the Philippine Military Academy (PMA). The guards wouldn’t let us go farther because, as the guard showed us a list of rules on paper, those who are wearing slippers can’t go past the gates. We argued that we didn’t know anything about the slippers rule, but of course, ignorance excuses no one. Having gone there several times in the past, I didn’t know they had that rule. I didn’t have the energy to argue further and press for an explanation.

I wish the PMA administration would post their visiting rules in a small billboard by the gate. That way, drivers and locals would remember to warn tourists to wear shoes when going to the PMA. 🙂

Our taxi driver was apologetic for forgetting to tell us about the slippers rule. Not his fault, really. But he made up for this memory lapse by driving through inside Camp John Hay on our way to Mines View Park, passing by the Manor Hotel, and the restaurant row.

mines view park baguio

What’s to see at Mines View Park? Nothing on the mines, but a lot of locally made products are sold here- food, plants, souvenir items, clothes and household items. Plus photo-op stops like the one above, along with the big dog and the miniature horse where you pay a fee to pose with the animals. The Good Shepherd Convent store is nearby, where we bought ube jam for pasalubong.

burnham park baguio

Boating at the man-made lake at Burnham Park is part of every first-timer to Baguio’s must-do activities list.

ukay ukay at harrison baguio

Something to do at night. Ukay-ukay in the dark starts at 9pm till about 1am, if I remember correctly what one seller told me. It’s along Harrison Road along the stretch of Burnham Park. Many wares are sold here- clothes, bags, shoes, perfumes, toys- all at rock-bottom prices. Although I’d much prefer to go to the permanent ukay-ukay stalls in the daytime to better inspect the quality of the items.

strawberry farm la trinidad

La Trinidad’s Strawberry Farm is not much to look at this season. But it’s still a good place for a first time tourist to see the strawberry fields and other vegetable farms nearby.

The taxi driver who took us to La Trinidad didn’t go through the usual route, which was via congested Magsaysay Ave. Instead, from Asin Road where we flagged the taxi, he used a long, winding road passing through Pinsao Proper. I wasn’t familiar with this road where we also passed the entrance to Tam-awan Village. But the road gave us a great view on the uphill of the lush mountains with beautiful pine trees, and on the downhill a spectacular view of the La Trinidad landscape. Little things that we take for granted, like avoiding traffic, sometimes give us a new perspective and better appreciation of what’s around us.

baguio at dusk

The first and last pictures on this post are my dawn and dusk view from the bedroom window. I find comfort in looking out the window seeing this view.

I love Baguio’s cool air. So refreshing from the lowland’s high temperatures. I love that there are so many things to do and see here. I love that it’s easy to travel around the city using public transportation. I hate the heavy traffic, though, and the new buildings that obstruct the view of the mountains.

So many places to see, but so little time. I’ll be back soon.


Ecommerce 102: Developing Online Entrepreneurs

The Philippine economy is on the upswing. Local and foreign economic analysts have been saying that the country will continue to post positive growth rates this year.  Hopefully, next year too, it being an election year.

philippine economic newsThis is very good news as this would mean more investors will have the confidence to put their money in our country. But should we just  rely on foreign investors to help our economy? We shouldn’t have to rely heavily either on the remittances of  our Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to continuously prop up the local economy.  Now that the Philippines is on the spotlight, it’s time for us to level up and set-up our own global business operations. Today’s advance technologies have made it possible for anyone to be a player in the global marketplace. No need for us to go abroad to earn dollars! We can do that right here, even in our own home. The internet has given us more ways to be entrepreneurs. Our country needs more entrepreneurs who, in turn, will create more jobs for their countrymen.


It is this internet landscape that proponents of Ecommerce 102 Live with Unionbank wants Filipinos to be familiar with. Ecommerce 102 is a series of seminars that aims to create and develop online entrepreneurs. Every month, different E-c0mmerce experts share their knowledge and experience on being online entrepreneurs. Different online businesses are presented, and along with these, the various strategies in starting and growing an online business. Participants will get ideas on what online businesses to build, as well as the tools, equipment, and skills needed for an online business to thrive. Participants are taught to explore the many capabilities of the internet. Then combine these with the unique selling points in the Philippines to create a product or service that’s distinct, and also able to compete in the global marketplace.


Jojy Azurin (L), membership sites expert, and Eireen Diokno-Bernardo (R), eBay power seller

On September 29, I attended an Ecommerce 102 offshoot seminar, Crossborder with Paypal. It is a “business conference amongst merchandisers who wants to expand their businesses with the international market through e-commerce platforms.”

The speakers that day were Eireen Diokno Bernardo in the morning and Jojy Azurin in the afternoon. Eireen talked about integrating Paypal as a payments solution to your online business. Eireen is an eBay power seller who champions Philippine-made arts and crafts and sells these to the world. Jojy shared his different online businesses, and gave us insights of his membership-site business model.

The speakers / trainers are generous with their time and knowledge, as some of them offer additional consulting sessions through Facebook or Skype.

I am glad to see the younger generation actively participating in the seminars. I met one of them, Trish Baylon, a student and aspiring online entrepreneur. She learned about Ecommerce 102 from Edison Victorino, who is part of the Ecommerce 102 team, and is her mentor in ELearning Advantage. She wants to learn about and earn through ecommerce and blogging.  She likes the light, happy atmosphere in the workshops, and appreciates  the hands-on sessions where the experts assist you in finishing the assigned tasks. Being a “suki” or frequent attendee of these workshops, Trish says that the trainers are very approachable both offline and online.

ecommerce 102

Eireen Diokno-Bernardo (center) with seminar participants. That’s me on the far right, with (R-L) Trish Baylon, Meliza Chase and her husband.

Catch the last two sessions of Ecommerce 102 on November 17 and December 8. Speakers, payment details and other updates are on the Ecommerce 1o2 Facebook page. Sessions are held at Studio SnR at the Millenium Place, Meralco Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig City.

The Ecommerce 102 team also conducts free webinars (online seminars) from time to time and one’s coming up on October 10. It’s a teaser on what to expect in another Ecommerce 102 offshoot workshop, VA for eBay, where participants get to learn the tricks in online buying and selling through eBay.


Eireen Diokno Bernardo introducing the Ecommerce 102 support team. (L-R) Tony, Carlos, Edison and Hyatt.

These seminars are just in time for the Christmas season where almost everyone will be on a buying spree. So check out those links and get your slots now. We still have time to make money this Christmas!

The BPI Wait

automated teller machine

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

I prefer to do most of my banking transactions online. If I can, I avoid going to the bank branch because I hate waiting, more so doing it standing in line. Unfortunately, there are times when I have to go to the bank for some urgent transactions.

BEA: No More Waiting In Line

I was pleasantly surprised to discover Bank of the Philippine Islands’ BEA (BPI Express Assist) earlier this year. BEA eliminates the standing in line part while waiting for your turn at the teller’s counter. BEA is a touch-screen terminal where you input your transaction details; after which a transaction number is automatically printed. You then sit comfortably in one of the many couches while you wait for your turn at the teller’s counter. The numbers are flashed in a large screen that can be seen by everyone. Both transaction time and waiting time is decreased because transaction details have already been keyed-in by the customer and automatically transmitted to the teller.

Cash Deposit Machine: Cash Deposits Credited In An Instant

Last September 10, I went to the bank’s Tomas Morato – Sct. Delgado branch to do a cash deposit. Being a Monday morning, there were many customers. Even if all teller counters were open at that time, I figured maybe I would have to wait for around 30 minutes.

I glanced around the branch and saw the cash deposit machine. I haven’t tried this machine before but I decided to try it then because of time considerations. Plus, there was a sign there that said cash deposits would be credited in an instant! I wonder why I didn’t notice it before. The machine functions essentially like an ATM but accepts cash deposits (paper bills) only. You insert your ATM card in the designated slot and key in your PIN. The money slot opens and you place your bills inside (no envelopes) where the machine tries to figure out the amount you deposited. It displays the denomination, number of bills per denomination and total amount of deposit. You confirm the numbers shown, then you get a receipt.

500 peso bill

Super fast transaction, if all your bills are accepted. When I made the deposit, however, one bill was rejected. I tried to put it back again twice, straightening the corners of the crisp new bill. A bank staff saw me taking too long at the machine and came over to help. Apparently, new bills will be rejected by the machine, if it has one of those commemorative logos that are not part of the regular design of the paper bill.

Hello, Customer Service?

If in-branch transactions in BPI have improved, unfortunately, its express phone banking service has not. You still have to wait for a long time to be attended to by a customer service representative. For me, five minutes of waiting is long already, and I would just hang up the phone and try again later. But you don’t have a choice but to wait when there’s an issue that needs to be resolved immediately.

That particular day, a weekday morning, I waited for more than 10 minutes before I was able to talk to someone. It was a simple matter of resetting an internet banking password that took about 3 minutes only.

Room for Improvement

Through the years, BPI has pioneered many product and service innovations that benefit its customers. That said, the bank still has some opportunities to improve its customer service. Specifically, I would like to see a big improvement in its phone banking service. I don’t know if it’s a staffing or infrastructure problem or both, but the bank needs to act on customers’ long waiting times. I also don’t like the phone banking practice of announcing a new product, service or promo before saying the menu options. I would appreciate if the bank can put a main menu option of having the call directed to a call center representative immediately, instead of having to press many digits and listening to many menu and submenu options.

Bank of the Philippine Islands has been my bank of choice for many years now. Being one of the largest banks in the country, it carries a wide range of products and services. More importantly for me, it has an extensive network of branches. I have chosen to do most of my banking transactions with BPI mainly because of convenience. I hope that it continues its innovative ways of providing quality customer service to the banking public. As for other banks, I hope they soon follow BPI’s lead in providing transaction convenience to its customer base.


UPDATE (21 Oct 2012):

Yesterday, I posted a link of this blog post to my twitter account (@mas10ph) and tagged @talktobpi. This morning, I received a reply from BPI. I wasn’t expecting a response on a weekend, so this was a welcome surprise.  This goes to show that Twitter can also be used as an effective customer service platform.

Below is BPI’s response to the concerns I raised:

talk to bpi

Thank you, BPI.