Thursday, September 30, 2010


The Philippines holds the distinction of having the longest observance of Christmas than any other country in the world. The official start of their Christmas season begins with the "ber" months -- SeptemBER, OctoBER, NovemBER, etc.

By September 1, it isn't a bit uncommon to see some of the first decorations in the malls and hear the holiday music. And it becomes quite common to see the count-down of shopping days left until Christmas on the morning TV news shows such as "Umagang Kay Ganda," "Unang Hirit" and others. In fact, many radio and TV stations begin playing Christmas tunes as their various personalities announce the "countdown-day" as they open their show or sign on each morning.

The Philippine Christmas tree is put up on display in the homes as early as November 2 --the day following All Saints Day -- and they are left up as late as mid-January.

Instead of the Evergreen or pine tree commonly used in the USA, most Filipinos erect and decorate a Magit tree for Christmas. This is a small mangrove-type tree mostly associated with the ground-cover among the palms. Others use the Bakau -- a bushy little scrub-tree having numerous small branches that grows abundantly in swampy areas. Either of these trees are usually obtained as early as the first week of September in anticipation of the holiday to provide time for it to dry out. Then around November 2 or 3 they put the tree up in a big container, such as a Nido milk powder can or something similar, fill it with small stones or sand to keep the tree upright, and place it all in the corner of their house in a front room. They then wrap each little branch with green, white, or red crinkled tissue paper -- which they call Japanese paper but what Americans refer to as crepe paper -- and decorate the tree in more detail with handmade ornaments made of paper, foil, candies, and/or lollipops. Sometimes they will whip detergent soap into a white foam and spread that onto the branches of the tree that, upon drying looks like snow-covered branches.

If afforable, many Filipinos are now wrapping small lights around the branches of their tree & using store-bought ornaments to complete their decorating. Christmas lights and star-shaped lanterns, called parols, are also often arranged in all the windows of homes and stores during the holiday.
Under Philippine law, by December 20 at the latest, all employers are required to provide a Christmas bonus equivalent to one month's salary to every employee's pay. The shopping centers & malls begin holding all-night holiday sales soon afterwards through the 24th. Nine days of pre-dawn Catholic masses begin on December 16 through December 24, during which nearly all major commerce comes to a complete stand-still as many companies close for the holidays, including many big businesses and manufacturing plants. In addition, ALL mail delivery stops between December 15 to January 2. As a result, many working people use this as their only vacation opportunity and go off to visit family and friends in other localities.

Friday, September 10, 2010


I have read that the bird populations around the world have gotten out of control in many areas.

I thought we were KILLING OFF ALL THE BIRDS according to that Ultra-Liberal Rachel Carson & the lies & ignorance she presented in that over-sensationalized book SILENT SPRING, fretting so about DDT. All during the 1960s Equally-ignorant liberal government officials prompted by those "brilliant" UN leaders then outlawed DDT based solely on her mis-leading book and publicity.

As a result, millions of children in Third World countries around the globe die every year -- including hundreds all across the Philippines -- from dengue fever, malaria and similar illnesses as a result of mosquitoes that were once controlled with DDT. Before Carson's book, such diseases and deaths were slowly being eliminated. Carson's book was based on a whole host of enviornmental mis-information and sensationalism. Rachel Carson was the Al Gore of the 1960s.

In 2009 there was over 38,380 cases of dengue in the Philippines. SO FAR, in 2010 there are already over 77,000 reported cases of dengue fever!

It is a shame that it had been nearly eliminated by the late 1950s until the stupid, uneducated environmentalists got envolved and the UN & many other governments sucked it all up and went along with it.

Why can't these ignorant people EVER learn?!? Such enviornmental hysteria has always produced unintendeded consequences. We had a baby in our own Cebu neighborhood die of Dengue Fever -- known in the USA as encephalitis. Why are we allowing the killing-off of our defenseless babies and little children around the world to save birds that are NOW out-of-control causing additional problems of their own!

Will Some Philippines government official finally tell the UN that their mandates will no longer be followed in the interest of the Philippine people or will Some UN Official finally smarten up to the unintended consequences that their enviormental hyteria has caused!?!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


The new President, “Noynoy” Aquino, 15th President of the Philippines, took his oath of office at Noon Wednesday, June 30, 2010 (midnight 6-29/30 EDT) at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila in front of the imposing statue of national hero Jose Rizal.
The ceremony began shortly before 11 a.m. with the singing of Lupang Hinirang, the Philippne National Anthem, as the traditional opening. Followed at 11 a.m. by the swearing-in of Vice President Binay before the 12:00 p.m. swearing-in of the President.
The main theme of the President Aquino’s inauguration speech was “Tagumpay ng Taong-bayan, Panata sa Pagbabago” (or, in English: The People’s Victory, An Oath for Change)The new President pledged to end graft, corruption and waste in government and to vigorously prosecute and get reimbursement from those who do.
Aquino did not have an inaugural parade and did not want an expensive inauguration, intending to save “the people’s” money.
Finally, the ceremony closed with everyone present, including the 500-thousand spectators, saying the Pledge of Allegiance to the Philippine Flag.

Again, to save money, there was No big inauguration party afterwards. The people were left to celebrate in the street with dancing and singing with a fireworks display at midnight.

All Filipinos eagerly look forward to the future under the Aquino Administration in the hope it will remain corruption-free and begin to bring prosperity back to the country such as it was during the late 1950s to 1960s, before the Marcos’ regime. The country, then, was regarded by the world as the most advanced of all the Asian countries with a strong developing infrastructure and strong economy. The value of their piso (peso) at that time was 2 to the American dollar. It now currently trades at about 45 to a USD.

The Aquino cabinet was announced this past week, before his inauguration, in which all the individuals seem to be strong, honest, and very capable individuals, adding to the anticipated hope and change for the near future. They are as follows:

•Executive Secretary – Paquito Ochoa
•Budget and Management– Florencio “Butch” Abad
•Finance – Cesar V. Purisima
•Justice – Leila L. de Lima
•Defense – Voltaire Gasmin
•Education – Armin A. Luistro
•NEDA – Cayetano Paderanga
•Agriculture – Proceso V. Alcala
•Environment – Ramon Paje
•DoTC – Jose Ping de Jesus
•Labor and Employment – Rosalindo Baldoz
•Health – Dr. Enrique Ona
•Tourism – Alberto Lim
•Trade and Industry – Gregory Domingo
•Social Welfare and Development – Corazon Juliano Soliman
•Energy – Jose Rene Almendras
•Public Works and Highways – Rogelio Singson
•Science and Technology – Dr. Mario Montejo
•Agrarian Reform – Virgilio R. De Los Reyes
•Foreign Affairs – Albert Romulo
•Peace Process – Teresita Quintos Deles
•Presidential Management Staff – Julia R. Abad
•Spokesperson: Edwin Lacierda
•Presidential Legal Counsel: Eduardo V. De Mesa
•Commission on Higher Education: Patricia Licuanan
•Bureau of Internal Revenue – Kim Jacinto Henares
•Armed Forces of the Philippines – Maj. Gen. Ricardo David Jr.
•For the Philippine National Police, (PNP) Aquino said that he will wait until Philippine National Police Director-General Jesus Verzosa retires in December.

Abad at Budget & Management and Romulo at Foreign Affairs were temporally held over from the previous administration as were seven others who had previously broke away from the Arroyo administration disheartened, who Acquino judged to be honest and trustworthy from that administration.

ALL of these cabinet members will serve under President Aquino and they are All expected to perform efficiently for the change and for the good of this country with accountability and transparency in every way as possible.

Meanwhile it was announced that the Office of Press Secretary will be combined into a communications group and Atty. Eduardo De Mesa has been appointed as the Presidential Legal Counsel. He is a graduate of the University of the Philippines. Attorney De Mesa will serve as the one and only legal counsel to President Aquino, unlike many previous presidents who had a number of appointees for the position.

Acquino admitted that he was considering his vice-presidential running mate Manuel Roxas II for a Cabinet Post position after the one-year required ban and also Senator Richard Gordon, who also falls under that ban.

Roxas, by the way, was appointed to head up Aquino’s Transition team, instead of his Vice President Binay as is normally done.

Monday, May 10, 2010

HALALAN 2010 concludes!

ELECTION DAY 2010 has concluded! Fifty-year-old Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, [photo on left] of the Liberal Party and son of beloved former President Cory Aquino and Senator Benigo Aquino Jr., assassinated in 1983 while in oposition to President Marcos at the time, was elected President of the Philippines with 15.3-million votes, or 42% of the popular vote in a nine-candidate field, while former Makati Mayor, 69-year-old Jejomar Binay [on right] of the UNO Party was elected Vice President, having received over 14.7-million votes, or 42% of the popular vote.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


The year 2010 is a Presidential Election year in the Philippines. Here, a Presidential term is limited to one six year term. Since the beginning of Philippine Independence, however, the Filipino Presidential term were similar to that of the USA – 2 terms of 4 years each -- but in 1987 changes were made to their Constitution as a reaction to the, then, recently toppled Marcos regime where he was able to suspend their Constitution and govern for 21 years. The people conducted a national vote for this amendment change and the voters simply chose a “yes” or “no” vote on a National ballot to change the law. But even with that, the current President, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, has been able to serve as President for a 9 year term. Arroyo was able to serve 9 years because she served the remainder of Joseph Estrada’s term when he was ousted by popular demand – or as his Vice President, taking over by a popular uprising. Later, the Philippines Supreme Court ruled that Arroyo could run for one term of her own. Which ends this year. She cannot run again for President this year but she is running for a Congressional seat in order to keep her family name in politics. For it is a fact that in the Philippines, various family clans or dynasties have developed in politics. The Marcos family still have a number of family members involved at various levels, including Imelda and her USA-university-educated daughter, others include the Aquino family, the Villar and Gonzales families, Larzaro, and Aguillar, among others. In certain parts of the country, such as in Mindanao, it can sometimes result in assassinations of opponents because the graft and corruption sometimes involved, keep many of these families wealthy. ’Course, it is no different than the Kennedys, Cumos, Bushes, and Clintons of this country.

Also in another major difference between the Philippines and the USA, the Vice President is elected separately, unlike in America where it is a political team where the President and Vice President run under the same ticket. Which, sometimes, can also be a source of undermining the President. It is the same for Mayor and Vice Mayor.

Another major difference between the USA and the Philippines, the Philippines has eleven Major Political parties and many minor parties. With this, the ballots are often long lists for each office for any election.

All around each town and all across the Philippines there are political signs, banners and flags covering any area possible. Many fences, walls, poles, and any other spaces where they can find are covered with political campaign signs and posters. Some are nailed or pasted to walls or strung across streets. Trucks, Jeepneys and nearly all public transportation display a variety of political campaign signs. Except in the cases of vehicles, the signs remain up long after the election is over or until they are torn down by the winner’s backers or they disintegrate from the weather.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

New Species of Giant Lizard found in Philippines!

Giant lizard discovered in the Philippines

By JIM GOMEZ of the Associated Press.

dateline: MANILA, Philippines – Researchers have concluded that a giant, golden-spotted monitor lizard discovered in the forested mountains of the Philippines six years ago is a new species, according to a study released Wednesday.

The 6.5-foot (2-meter) -long lizard was first spotted in 2004 in the Sierra Madre mountains on the main island of Luzon when local researchers saw local Agta tribesmen carrying one of the dead reptiles.

But it took until last year to determine it was a new species. After capturing an adult, researchers from the University of Kansas and the National Museum of the Philippines obtained DNA samples that helped confirm the lizard was new to science.

The Northern Sierra Madre Forest Monitor Lizard or Varanus bitatawa feasts on fruits and snails rather than carcasses, unlike many monitors, including its larger relative, the Komodo dragon, according to American and Filipino researchers who wrote about the discovery in Wednesday's peer-reviewed Royal Society journal Biology Letters. It spends much of its time in the treetops and has unique claws that allow it to reach its favorite fruits.

"I knew as soon as I saw the animal that it was something special," Luke Welton, a graduate student at the University of Kansas and one of the co-authors of the study, said in a statement.

It is not that unusual to find a new species of tiny fish, frog or insect these days. But Welton and his colleagues said it was a "rare occurrence" to discover such a large vertebrate, particularly on an island hit by deforestation and nearby development. They compared their find to the 1993 discovery of the forest-dwelling Saola ox in Vietnam and a new monkey species discovered in the highlands of Tanzania in 2006.

"The discovery of such a large, charismatic, and strikingly distinct new species of vertebrate in the unexplored forests of the northern Philippines accentuates the degree to which the diversity of this global conservation hotspot is still poorly known," Mundita Lim, chief of the country's Department of Environment and Natural Resources Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau, said in a statement.

Eric R. Pianka, a lizard expert at the University of Texas at Austin, said in an e-mail interview that it was an "incredible find."

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

EASTER In the Philippines

Easter is an intensely religious period of observance in the Philippines. Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday are all Official holidays. The period is sadly observed as “the day God died” and on Maundy Thursday all the shops close, nearly all traffic stops, and silence reigns throughout the country as people somberly attend their local church masses. Even Philippines Airlines’ flights stop and do not resume until Saturday in a strict observance of the period.

Beginning that Thursday night, and every evening afterwards, long processions of people, many carrying floats displaying statutes of “Mama” Mary, Joseph, Jesus, and various Saints, walk through the neighborhoods gathering additional followers as they go while reciting the Stations of the Cross and the Rosary. On Easter morning, before dawn, every neighborhood church presents a widely attended Passion Play at the end of the procession and then at dawn everyone attends Mass.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

JOLLIBEE: Best Fastfood in the Philippines !

JOLLIBEE is a fast-food restaurant chain based in the Philippines. Admittingly, it is an American-McDonald's-style fast-food restaurant with Filipino-influenced dishes specializing in burgers, but also including hotdogs, fried chicken, spaghetti, and rice dishes in its menu. My particular favorite is the Jollibee Aloha Burger [a Big-Mac-style cheese burger topped with strips of bacon and a ring of grilled pineapple]

Back when Fast-Food was unheard of in this country a man by the name of Tony Tan Caktiong was working with his father operating a kitchen in Fujian, China. In 1975, Tony went off on his own entrepreneurial journey by establishing Magnolia Ice Cream, a small ice cream shop in Cubao, Quezon City in the Philippines. Within a short time, Tony established a second shop.

Despite his success with the two ice cream parlors, Tony didn't stop there. He looked around the world and saw the kind of success that chains like McDonalds were having in the USA market. Instead of opening a franchise for an existing fast food chain like Burger King or Wendy’s, Tony decided to expand his business operation with the opening of his own chain of burger-serving fast food restaurants named Jollibee in 1978.

Since McDonald’s had yet to enter the Philippines market, Tony capitalized on this fact by establishing his own brand among the Filipino people. Instead of trying to learn everything from scratch, he traveled to the United States to learn the tricks of the trade from the already established chains such as McDonalds, Burger King and Wendy's. By implementing their various successful business practices and techniques back in the Phlippines, Tony’s hard work began to pay off as his business began to rapidly expand. The division of Jollibee Philippines really tries to serve the specific needs of the Filipino people and their culture by focusing its product development along with its marketing and advertsing to target the unique and traditional Filipino family. Among which are Weekly Specials on a variety of popular menu-items offered in each neighborhood community.

Today, Jollibee has more than 500 stores in the Philippines and 25 in other countries, selling more than half a million burgers every day. McDonald's has about 235 outlets in the Philippines, according to company records, but it is said that the Philippines have been an embarrassment to the McDonald's Corporation. By the time they arrived in 1981, they had already been out-done by Jollibee and could offer nothing new to the Filipino people.

Jollibee opened its first franchise outside the Philippines in 1986, in Taiwan. Since then, Jollibee restaurants have been opened in Indonesia, Hong Kong, Saipan and Brunei, as well as in Vietnam -- where sales grew 46 percent in its first quarter. In 1998, Jollibee went on to encroach upon McDonald's home territory, adding further embarrassment, by opening its first U.S. store in Daly City, California, which has a large Filipino population.

In recent years Jollibee bought Chowking, a popular Filipino fast-food chain that sells mainly Chinese food, which is now the dominant Chinese fast-food chain in the Philippines that has even entered the Indonesian market. Jollibee also acquired the local franchise for Deli-france, a French café and bakery chain,and acquired Greenwich, a small pizza chain that has aggressively grown larger in the Philippines than another American giant, Pizza Hut.

Other easily-recognized American franchises operating in the Philippines include Shakey's Pizza, Texas Burger, Burger king, Wendy's, KFC, Sabarro, and Dunkin Donuts. It's probably just a matter of time before the Jollibee Philippines Corporation and Tony Tan go up against them head-on, too. Jollibee is now the largest Filipino food company, with average sales of 21.7 billion pesos, or $397 million USD, a year. Jollibee is the best-performing domestic stock on the Philippine stock exchange [stock symbol: JFC] and is now being offered on the U.S. Stock Exchange [JBFCF].

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day in the Philippines

Valentine's Day is observed in the Philippines much as it is throughout America. Every girl or guy gives a card to everyone who is special to them. Many buy cards in the department store or make them at home to give out to those who are special in their lives. Flowers are also often given, usually red roses, but there is not as much emphasis on giving candy or chocolates as their is in America. Still, other little sweets, such as pastries, small gifts, such as plush toys, and cards are personally delivered or sent. In addition, many couples dress up to go out to nice restaurants for the evening, dance in the discos, or go to the movies.

A truely unique custom in the Philippines, though, is that of wearing RED on Valentines's if a person has no sweetheart with whom to share the day. A man or women observed wearing something prominent in the color RED signifies to everyone that they are available or need a partner. Much like in the West, however, many Filipino weddings are also scheduled on this day and churches are often reserved far far in advance and large group weddings take place at many city halls all across the country on this Day.

As just one example, during the end of January, 1997, my wife, Melba, and her family, attempted to reserve the Cebu City Metropolitan Cathederal for our wedding on Valentine's Day but learned the entire day was fully scheduled with one wedding after another throughout the day, throughout the day before and throughout the days after. Because of a weekend and Sunday services, February 18 was as soon as our wedding could be scheduled and the cathedral reserved. As a result, we celebrate our Wedding Anniversary on February 18. But, luckily with the arrival of Valentine's Day each year, I am reminded ahead of time that our anniversary is approaching!


Saturday, February 13, 2010

San Miguel - Beer of the Philippines

The San Miguel Brewing Company was originally established in 1890 as La Fabrica de Cerveza de San Miguel, and became Southeast Asia's FIRST brewery. It produced and bottled what would eventually become one of the best selling beers in all of Asia. Within a short time, San Miguel Beer became an icon among avid beer drinkers throughout the region.

By 1914, San Miguel Beer was being exported from its headquarters in Manila to Shanghai, Hong Kong and Guam. As a pioneer in Asia, San Miguel went on to establish a brewery in Hong Kong in 1948, the FIRST local brewer in the crown colony.

Today, San Miguel Beer is one of the largest selling beers and is judged among the top 10 beer brands in the world. It is now available beyond the limits of the Philippines and Hong Kong, to include China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and the USA. In addition, all of its various other brands are also exported to the major markets around the world. These would include such popular brands as San Miguel Pale Pilsen, San Mig Light, San Mig Strong Ice, Super Dry, Red Horse, Gold Eagle, Cerveza Negra, and Cali, the country’s only malt-based non-alcoholic drink.

Overwhelmingly judged by nearly all American & European expatriates as "The Best Beer in the World," San Miguel currently sells for 58 php ($1.29 USD) per 1-litter bottle.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Cebu's Sinulog festival & Parade

An annual event that takes place on the THIRD SUNDAY of JANUARY to climax the week-long observance of Pasundayag sa Sinulog is Cebu City's Sinulog festival parade.

At noon, a great and nearly hour-long parade begins as gaily decorated floats -- covered in flowers and orchids -- and throngs of colorfully-costumed people, marching, dancing, and singing, make their way through the streets of Cebu City. The participants all dance down the street using a unique "Sinulog step," chanting & singing, accompanied by a shrill, rhythmic whistle blast accompaniment while shouting "Pit Senyor," meaning "viva el Senor" or "long live Santo Nino" -- the Christ Child.

This great Filipino celebration event would be comparable to the annual Mardi Gras parade held in the American city of New Orleans or Rio de Janeiro's Carnival in Brazil, but without the sexual overtones.
Cebu's Sinulog festival is a much more conservative & religious event drawing thousands of spectators and tourits from around the world as well as being an annual home-coming reunion event for many Filipinos.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Procession of the Black Nazarene

Every year on January 9, the Procession of the Black Nazarene through the streets of the Quiapo district of Manila draws World-Wide attention.

A life-size image of Christ kneeling on a platform and bearing a huge cross on his shoulder is pulled in a huge frenzied all-male procession to lead a massive throng of barefoot devotees down the backstreets of the district in the north part of Manila toward Plaza Miranda in front of the Quiapo Church.

The statute is believed to have been originally brought to Manila by the Spanish during the 17th century after having been hand-crafted by an Aztec of Mexico. Simply to touch any part of the statue, its palanquin, or even the huge ropes used to pull it, is considered to bring absolution of all sins or to bring a miracle to those who need it. As a result, the procession becomes highly charged as thousands jostle through the huge mass of people and struggle forward to reach and touch some portion of the statute. From start to finish, the statue's progress is extremely slow as the massive surging throng make it nearly impossible to move forward as many others throw cloths to those already on the palanquin hoping they will touch the image with it and throw the cloth back to them.