What and why APEC? (My version of APEC for Dummies)

My favourite coffee shop is the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (CBTL), not because of their coffee but because I absolutely adore their Banana Chocolate Muffin. It’s flakey on the outside and moist on the inside. You can really taste the banana goodness in it. I never really realised how perfect a pair banana and chocolate makes until I took a bite of this muffin.

CBTL is “born and brewed” in California, USA. Other American enterprises that have become popular among Filipinos are Krispy Kreme, Starbucks, Forever 21, among others. One of the reasons why these American companies, and other foreign-based ones, were able to set up shop here in the Philippines is because of trade agreements such as those discussed during APEC Meetings.


APEC stands for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). There are 21 member-economies under APEC: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, People’s Republic of China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, the United States of America, and Vietnam. Continue reading “What and why APEC? (My version of APEC for Dummies)”


Bagnet, I wouldn’t mind meeting you again

This is the Bagnet served at Azia Suites and Residences, the hotel located at the back of the building where I work in Cebu City. I asked the F&B staff what can they recommend for a first meal at their hotel, and they said their Bagnet was their most popular dish. I haven’t had breakfast yet that day, so at 1:00 PM, I wolfed this down and nearly licked the plate clean. It was as yum as it was colorful. But my taste buds may have been influenced by how famished I was at the time of the eating, so I know I’ll have to eat this again to give a more unbiased review.

Another thing: this is my first time to eat Bagnet, so I also do not have any basis for comparison.

The Peso That Will Expire in 2016

If you’re a Filipino residing in the Philippines, I do hope you know by now that Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is retiring or “demonetizing” a set of Philippine peso bills starting 2016. If you know this already, then good for you. You can stop reading at this point and go back to whatever it was that you were doing before you stumbled in here.

But if this is the first time you’ve heard of this, good thing you’re here then. It’s no luck that you’re reading this post. It’s meant to be. Because this post will save you a lot of frustration, not to mention embarrassing situations, if January 1, 2016 rolls around and you are blissfully unaware that some of the bills in your wallet is no longer of any value.

Imagine this: you handing over your payment to the Starbucks barista only to be told that your money is no good. It’s basically just a piece of paper, because the bills you gave belong to the set that has been demonetized. That’s like the waiter returning your credit card because the card was denied after it was swiped. Embarrassing, right?

Continue reading “The Peso That Will Expire in 2016”

Parker is Pimping on Skype

A video call comes through from this random person on Skype. I hit the accept button (because my curiosity always gets the better of me). A bearded American male in his 40’s (he later said he was 50) appears onscreen.

What follows is a condensed version of our Skype-versation:

Him: “Omg. You’re cute! I love it. I love it.”

Me: “Hello and thanks.”

Him: “Are you 18?” Me: “No. Take another guess.” Him: “You’re 25. You want to work for me?” Me: “Sure. What work is that?” Him: “All you need is Paypal, internet in your home, a video cam, and you do things on cam. I have 100s of Filipinas working for me.”

Do things?

This guy, whose handle was “parker”, was recruiting women to work for him in what I assume is cyberporn-related business. The town of Cordova, Cebu was once tagged as Cyberporn Capital in the region due to the high number of women, including minors, in the area who were “doing things” on camera for customers abroad. Mothers were pimping out their own daughters because they reason that there is no harm in “doing things” in front of a camera since there is no touching involved, and they get paid easily. Local authorities, with the help of the US Homeland Security team from the US Embassy in Manila, cracked down on the cyberporn ring and eventually snuffed it out of Cordova.

But it looks like the recruitment strategies of the pimps just upped their game as well. I think I met this Parker guy on Tinder. Whatever reasons pushed me to download that darn dating app, I regret it now. Nothing good ever came out of it. I didn’t meet up with anyone of my matches because most of them were only looking for hook-ups, and the decent ones I talked to are continents away. I deleted the app from my phone right after the Skype pimping incident. Parker, it seems, has made Tinder his hunting ground for Filipinas who might want to make money on the side “doing things” on camera.

Parker’s headhunting technique may be justified as to how he’s not forcing the women to work for him. He does make an effort to make sure the female isn’t a minor (he did ask if I was 18.) But still, isn’t this some kind of exploitation of women? Parker preys on women who, for monetary reasons, would expose themselves and “do things.” I have a decent-paying stable job, so I wouldn’t be inclined to take my top off and wiggle my girls in front of the videocamera so I can earn extra money. I can easily earn extra without having to show skin.

So the moral of this story would be these: if you must go to Tinder, tread carefully. Jerks and other undesirables lurk there, waiting to pounce on the young, the vulnerable, the unsuspecting. But then, you don’t have to be on Tinder to find a date. In my case, I’m praying the Lord will deliver the love of my life to me in the flesh or at least in the form of conversations. I have a weakness for men who can make me think and laugh, so a conversation in whatever form would be a possible springboard for Prince Charming to jump into my life.

On a serious note, do let me know if you see me, or someone who looks like me, in websites you don’t want your mother to know you’re visiting. Because if I appear there, I intend to collect every dollar I’m supposed to get from Parker.

The load that goes with 17 years

A few weeks ago, I marked my 17th year in Philippine government service. I certainly feel every day of those 17 years. All those press conferences, media events, interviews, trips, hosting stints, and stories packed into those 17 years that I feel its weight, and it’s not a light load.

The Philippine government can be described as a demanding lover. You cannot say no to requests for information after office hours or on weekends, particularly in my field of work which is government communications. If the President of the Philippines will drop by in my coverage area on a Saturday or a Sunday, then my social life is basically screwed as early as 2 days before and then 2 days after the visit. If a disaster strikes in my area, it’s expected that my phones are on and I’m online to respond to official and public requests for information. It’s not important how I make sure that happens, I just have to. Like the ad for Banco De Oro, we find ways.

In my 17 years of working for the Philippine government, I’ve had two relationships that didn’t last very long. (I’m still friends now with the other parties in these relationships so I guess all is well that ends well.) Since then, I’ve been in a relationship with my office desk.

Money is never a motivating factor to work for the Philippine state. Trust me when I say that civil servants can never fatten their bank accounts with honest public service. In view of the strict auditing rules, I have even shelled out my own cash several times to ensure that a project or an activity gets done without a hitch. I pay a higher tax compared to my married co-workers because when you don’t have any dependents, the government taxes you more.

Continue reading “The load that goes with 17 years”