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 or email



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.


Small Claims Court to Improve Access to Justice

small claims court

Supreme Court administrator Midas Marquez and Metropolitan Trial Court Judge Jackie Crisologo-Saguisag respond to questions about the recently reintroduced Small Claims Court that improves access to justice for the common Filipino through a simple process, face-to-face settlement and speedy resolution of disputes.

In this country, justice is seen to be something that can be attained only if one has the money and right connections. What then will be the recourse of the poor who do not have either one?

In answer to that concern, the Small Claims Court was established through the Supreme Court’s special rule of procedure.  As a pioneering effort of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative, it aims to provide an efficient means for the masses to settle disputes involving monetary claims instead of the regular civil process.

The Small Claims Court, which has been in effect since October 2008, can hear and decide civil claims amounting to P100,000 and below, not including interests and costs. Claims filed under these courts include actual damages to vehicles, other personal property, real property and person; money owed under a contract of lease, loan, services, sale or mortgage; and civil actions such as payment of money covered by bounced or stopped checks.

All first level courts which include Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts in Cities and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts are designated as Small Claims Courts.

For claims not more than P100,000, a four-step process assures an affordable, informal and simple settlement of cases .

  1. The claimant must file the documents, evidences and affidavit needed for the cases at the Clerk of Court in his municipality.

  2. He or she must then pay the P1,000 fee per claim for indigents. Additional fees may be charged for non-indigent claimants.

  3. Claimant must wait for the “summons of hearing” as the case is being raffled by the court.

  4. Once called, one should appear before the designated Small Claims Court on the hearing date for the final decision and settlement mandated by the judge.

The process allows the parties to handle their own case from start to finish with ready-made forms and non-strict procedural rules, without needing a lawyer. Judges decide based on facts presented and evidence obtained in one hearing. Before hearing the case on merit, judges try to convince the parties to settle amicably in the barangay as decisions made through the Small Claims Courts are final and cannot be appealed.

“The Supreme Court hopes to increase the access to justice of indigent and disadvantaged Filipinos through the inexpensiveness, accessibility and expediency of the Small Claims Court,” said Supreme Court administrator Midas Marquez.

Pacquiao-Bradley Fight: When Winning Isn’t Everything

Pacquiao Bradley Fight June 2012

Pacquiao Bradley Fight June 2012 (photo from

Manny Pacquiao lost the fight inside the boxing ring. This was according to two of the three judges who scored the fight in favor of Pacquiao’s opponent, Tim Bradley. The controversial split-decision win did not sit well with many people who watched at MGM Arena in Las Vegas or at their television screens. Traditional media and social media erupted with the opinions of almost everyone who viewed the fight. Many thought that Pacquiao dominated the fight, and that he should have retained his WBO Welterweight title.

A day or two after the fight, I see Pacquiao and his wife Jinkee being interviewed on Philippine television. Both were all smiles. The message that Pacquiao gives to his followers is that while he believes that he won the fight, he respects the judges’ decision. This despite loud whispers about a conspiracy theory written here and here, involving Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum. A rematch between the two fighters is scheduled sometime in November this year.

When Pacquiao was first reported to be holding bible study sessions while training in Baguio, I was skeptical. Just an image-building thing, I thought. But it was reported that he continued this practice even in the US. A few days before the fight, I saw him being interviewed by Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church. Warren said that Pacquiao was a bible-quoting maniac. In that short interview, Pacquiao spewed bible verses left and right. He stressed the need to match our words with deeds when it comes to our Christian belief.

And after watching that TV interview where he and his wife seemed very much relaxed, I believe that Pacquiao is serious in his transformation. His calm acceptance of the fight verdict, and his call to supporters to do the same shows this. Pacquiao shows his faith in action. He accepts that in life, you don’t always win. He may have lost this boxing match, but he knows that God has greater things in store for him.

Please share your thoughts / questions in the comment box below.

The Long Road to Ilocos

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Ilocos In January

In late January, mom and I, along with a couple of family friends went to Vigan to visit relatives for a few days. It was a good season to visit Ilocos, which was sunny and relatively cool. Mom likes to go to early morning mass to start her day, after which we head to the public market to buy food for the day. The requisite Baluarte and Heritage Village tour were granted our guests, but mostly we stayed in the barrio to have a relaxing time with relatives. Curiously, even in late January, some Christmas decors along the highway are still up. Perhaps this was a way to elicit a prolonged festive mood among the people.

Annual Summer Trip

In the summer the whole family usually makes a late April trek to Ilocos, specifically Vigan and Bantay, where are parents were born and raised. It is in the last Saturday of April that the barrio fiesta is held in honor of its patron saint, San Isidro Labrador. The fiesta is also a family reunion, since in our barrio, almost all our neighbors are also our relatives.

This summer we head to Ilocos early on a Wednesday. This means more time to visit places other than Vigan. The road trip to Ilocos is long and almost unbearably hot, made longer and more unbearable  this time by the numerous road works simultaneously ongoing in many towns that we passed by.

Before reaching our final destination, we make several stops along the way. We stopped by Rosario, La Union for a picnic lunch near a gasoline station where we ate our packed lunch consisting of pork adobo and pinakbet. In Santa Cruz, Ilocos Sur, mom buys freshly caught fish from a few roadside vendors. A quick toilet break in Jollibee Candon followed. Then a walk on rocky Sulvec beach in Narvacan for photo ops before finally heading to Vigan.

Thursday morning we obliged the kids to a trip to Governor Chavit Singson’s place Baluarte where they rode a miniature horse-drawn calesa and  looked at the animals around the vicinity. Late afternoon we headed to nearby resort Jaja Hidden Water Park to go swimming and the small kids were thrilled that there were superhero figures like Spiderman and Incredible Hulk in the place. Friday we went on a road trip to Ilocos Norte to go sightseeing:  Bangui Windmills, Pagudpud beach, Patapat viaduct, Cape Bojeador lighthouse, Ilocos Norte Capitol, Fort Ilocandia Hotel, Fort Ilocandia Golf and Coutry Club, Malacanang of the North and Marcos mausoleum in Batac.

Saturday was the fiesta day and we spent the day mostly at home, to be with family and catch up with relatives whom we seldom see. We ate the pork dishes served, and prayed that we don’t drop dead because of the heart attack-inducing food.  Around 3pm, we decided to go to the town plaza with the thought of going for a calesa ride around Vigan. But that was scrapped as there was a calesa parade that was about to start in front of the Vigan Cathedral. The parade was the opening part of the Viva Vigan Festival of the Arts which was held in the first week of May. Luckily, we were in a good vantage point where we could take good pictures. Later, we moved to Crisologo street (part of the Heritage Village) which was also on the parade route to have another view of the parade and to look at souvenir items.  After the parade, we went to Bantay church for a quick church visit and picture taking at the bell tower.

Before heading back to Manila the next day, the kids just had to take a short calesa ride around the plaza. After that, a quick trip to Marsha’s to buy pasalubong and baon on the road like bibingka and brownies. Then, off we go on the long road again back to Manila.

It was nice to have the kids see the countryside and learn a bit about history. For me, I think it was important that they be in the actual places that they see on TV and read about in books and magazines, for them to get a feel of what’s it’s like to be in these places, and to take pride in the beautiful countryside, to see the other side of the Philippines other than ugly, urban Metro Manila.

A Death in the Family

Two weeks later, some of us unexpectedly return to Vigan due to a death in the family. Wake and burial customs in the Philippines are many and confusing. But it’s always heartwarming to see a stream of people pay their respects to the dead, amid bingo games and some other card games during the night-time vigil.

This was a very short visit but we managed to squeeze in time for a little food trip in a new eating establishment called Ihawan sa Caoayan located near Baluarte. The tables were inside nipa huts. A live band plays at night. We ordered pork barbecue, isaw and goto for our group of 9. Food was very good by Ilocos standards but service was a bit slow.

Sadly, even if we go to Ilocos almost every year, we visit the same old places like Baluarte and Heritage Village. And never try to eat at other food establishments other than the empanadahan in the plaza and the fast food joints like Jollibee, Chowking, Red Ribbon. We just take it for granted that we have the best Ilocano food at home. I think it’s time we give up the usual places and visit some museums and old houses instead, and taste the offerings of restaurants around town.

I think Vigan still has something new and surprising to offer, even for regular visitors. It would be more fun in the Philippines when Pinoys discover what’s new in their cities/towns.

Please share your thoughts / questions in the comment box below.