Shopping with My GCash-AMEX Virtual Card

I use my credit card for online payments especially when I purchase apps for my iPod Touch. However, there are websites in the US, like Amazon.com, that won’t ship to the Philippines — or if they do, there’s a hefty shipping charge.

That’s why when Globe Telecom introduced the GCash-AMEX virtual card last October, I jumped on the chance to order some books and DVDs I’ve been dying to get for the longest time.

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using an iPad to activate my GCash-AMEX virtual card

Along with media and bloggers, I was invited to the launch and learned that Globe had struck up a partnership with American Express and My Shopping Box to make shopping from US stores easier. Read more

Superbook!

This month it seems the cartoons I watched in my childhood are coming back around. I’m impatiently waiting for the Jem and the Holograms DVD box set I ordered from Amazon. I just watched the live action adaptation of Rurouni Kenshin. And this Saturday, I’m attending the Superbook Reimagined Family Fun Day!

If you never watched Sunday morning cartoons on GMA7 back in the late 1980’s you might not remember what Superbook is. Let me refresh your memory.

Superbook

Superbook

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Goodbye, Old Friends

This is a secret I rarely share with anyone, but I love stuffed toys. We’ve moved house twice in my life, and I’ve always brought my little friends along.

But there always comes a time one has to let go of them. There just isn’t a lot of room in our condo. I asked over Twitter where I could send these six stuffed toys for charity. I didn’t want to dump them in the trash, and I know there are children who don’t have any to call their own.

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I will miss you *tear*

It’s also been shown that integrating stuffed animals into therapy for young children can provide a sense of security. Remember last year after Typhoon Sendong? A little girl started a toy drive for the children in CDO and Iligan affected by the typhoon.While there are a number of places I can send my toys to, most people recalled that Jollibee launched the 18th “MaAga ang Pasko” charity drive. So that’s where my well-loved friends are going. May they make another child’s life as happy as they did mine.

A Morning at Mercato Centrale BGC

Back when Mercato Centrale first opened near Bonifacio High Street in 2010 for its Morning Mercato market, I would drop by on Sundays after a race for some food and drink. I was already familiar with the concept of weekend markets where fresh food and produce were offered, since my family and I frequented the one that used to be held at the Lung Center of the Philippines compound on Quezon Avenue. Still, the charm of each weekend market is the variety; they don’t all have the same concessionaires, so you could have a completely different food and shopping experience from one market to another.

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organic produce fresh off the farm

Today, Morning Mercato re-opened in its original location at the corner of 30th Street and 9th Avenue in BGC. It’ll be there on Saturdays and Sundays from 7am to 2pm through November and December. (Midnight Mercato will still be held at the Mercato tent near Turf BGC.) Read more

Driving in the City

I drive a lot around this city of mine, which in reality is a cluster of 16 cities all huddled together near the mouth of Pasig River on the eastern coast of Luzon island. Metro Manila is my ‘hood, yo, and negotiating the maze of streets is almost second nature to me.

It is, however, a nightmare to get around if you don’t know exactly where you’re going, and how you’re going to get there. I have a few friends who shy away from meeting up if they’ve never been to the venue or area, and I still get lost on occasion. No, wait, I don’t get lost. I just temporarily find myself in a different location from where I want to be. 😉

Today I attempted to get to the Manila Diamond Hotel where my mom is booked because she’s attending a medical society conference. I’m not familiar with establishments and roads in the Roxas Boulevard area, so I attempted to use Google Maps to find an acceptable route.

Turns out, I know the ins and outs Manila better than Google Maps. I was driving on Gil Puyat (Buendia) heading towards Roxas Boulevard, but Google Maps told me to take a U-turn and head back to EDSA, and only at the endpoint of EDSA would I be able to get onto Roxas. The Buendia route I was already on was shorter and more straightforward, so I ignored Google Maps. By doing so, I also avoided the usual horrendous traffic build-up near the EDSA-Taft intersection.

Traffic’s another thing you’ve got to master when getting around Metro Manila. I’m thankful there’s a handy smartphone app from the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) which shows you at a glance how heavy traffic is on major roads, particularly C-5 and EDSA. But only the uninitiated would take these roads during rush hour (which is actually rush two-, three-, or four-hours, depending on whether there was an accident or if it rained).

The roads less traveled parallel to the national highways can cut hours off travel time. You may already have traveled those roads before, but would never have connected them together into an alternate route unless you take a chance on them. There was one time I picked my mom up from the airport in Pasay and was driving her northbound to her office in Greenhills. A huge traffic jam had built up on EDSA-Guadalupe, so I took the off-ramp towards Rockwell/Estrella Street. From there, we took a bridge over the Pasig River, wove through the streets of Mandaluyong, and emerged on Wilson Street in Greenhills just a kilometer away from our destination. It had only taken us 30 minutes to negotiate, and in a city where it takes an hour to get anywhere, that’s major.

I do wish there were a way to get around the city faster, cheaper, and environmentally-friendlier than driving a car. I hope I live to see the day an extensive rail line and efficient public transport can get me around town. Or someday maybe I could even bike to work safely?

Take Care from Garnier

I rarely get invited to beauty events these days, mostly because I rarely blog about makeup and skin care now. It was nice receiving an invite from Garnier to attend their Get Active Campus Challenge culminating event at Enderun Colleges a few weeks ago. The event was only very obliquely about Garnier’s line of skin care products. Rather, the Get Active Campus Challenge sponsored youth groups from nine schools in the country to create and run campaigns for a variety of advocacies: health and wellness, community development, the environment, women empowerment and more.

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Garnier beauty advocate Georgina Wilson with student representatives and event host Atom Araullo

The brand’s tagline “Take Care” was expanded to mean not just take care of oneself, but also of others in the community and groups in need.

Congratulations to the University of Mindanao on winning the grand prize of P100,000 for their Small Spaces, Big Returns urban container gardening campaign. Their project educated NSTP students and communities on using small urban spaces for sustainable gardening. According to the UM organizers, one community has now begun an income-generating seedling nursery based on what they learned.

[instagram url=http://instagr.am/p/Q7IcrrhZB2/ size=medium addlink=yes]
photo from Garnier’s Instagram account

It’s great seeing a skin care brand branch out into community service. I just checked their Facebook page and learned that every time you buy a Garnier product at Mercury Drug outlets, part of what you pay goes to World Vision, which funds education for children in need. Now that’s how you “Take Care.”

Brighten Childrens Futures with Garnier

Terrazas de Punta Fuego

I was supposed to go on a surfing trip to La Union with my girls Jenny, Bianca, and Sheila last weekend. We conceived the idea over Twitter more than a month ago but for some strange reason, none of us ever got around to actually booking a room at any of the resorts over there or making transport arrangements. And so, last Monday, we figured we might as well just do a day trip to Punta Fuego in Batangas, where Jenny is a member.

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Batangas is about three hours away from Metro Manila, if you’re traveling leisurely like we were. There are a number of beach and country clubs in this area. The one I’m more frequently at, Pico de Loro at Hamilo Coast, is about an hour away from Punta Fuego and is a bit too far-flung to be a day trip spot. In this respect, Punta Fuego was a good day getaway because it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to get there.

What did we do there? Well, not the water sports since we don’t really like banana boats, and jet ski rentals were overpriced. We just rented a small cabana and the girls snoozed and read the day away. I wandered off to the infinity pool and did a bit of swimming and tanning there.

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I would have wanted to swim in the sea, but walking on the sand was off-putting because a lot of rubbish lay around on the sand. The beach isn’t protected by a cove that keeps trash from washing up onshore, and there are resorts bordering Punta Fuego that aren’t scrupulously careful with waste disposal. Additionally, it was stressful fending off hawkers and vendors who had walked up from the other resorts.

It’s sad that in a country that’s an archipelago, there are not a lot of quality beaches a short hop away from Metro Manila, unless I go off the beaten path.

David Guetta in Manila

I’m an electronic dance music (EDM) lover. I haven’t really thought of why; in this country, among my age bracket, hip-hop was always the big thing when it came to clubbing and dancing. But when I look at my playlists from way back when I first could download MP3’s, there’s always an EDM track in there somewhere.

One of the oldest EDM songs on my iPod is this track called “True House” which I first heard in a movie called “True Vinyl“. According to the end credits, it was spun by David Guetta. I have a habit of googling other songs an artist has recorded or collaborated on, so it wasn’t long before I’d built up a collection of other Guetta tracks.

Fast-forward to about 10 years down the line; I’ve become a BODYJAM instructor who dances to EDM day-in, day-out, and I’m hearing Guetta not just in EDM playlists, but on Top 40 radio due to his collaborations with pop, rap, and urban music acts such as the Black Eyed Peas, Nicki Minaj, Snoop Dogg, and Usher. And so the scene was set for me drooling for tickets to his massive show last Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

David Guetta in Manila: At Work

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Why I Oppose the Cybercrime Law (Even if Mainstream Media Doesn’t)

I’m not a miscreant — someone who wants to cause trouble. So why am I against a law that supposedly is for the protection of those who may be hacked, or subjected to cyber-prostitution, or whose reputations may be wrecked online?

While Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 may project itself at face value to be just those things, reading its provisions coupled with understanding one’s constitutionally-guaranteed rights will reveal that OMGWTF how did that happen?!

For a layperson-friendly account of what’s wrong with the law, check out Spot.ph/GMA Network’s article “Digital Martial Law: 10 Scary Things about the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012“.

Since October 3 (when the law took effect), 10 petitions have been lodged at the Supreme Court asking to have it declared unconstitutional. There are two petitions that articulate my opinion about the said Act: the petition from bloggers and netizens, and the petition from the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, and the Philippine Press Institute.

I object to the Cybercrime Law on the grounds that it tramples on the right to speech and expression, the right to privacy of communication and correspondence, the right to due process, and the right to be secure of unreasonable searches and seizures. It violates the Constitutional rule against double jeopardy by allowing separate prosecution of the same offense under the Cybercrime Law as well as the old Revised Penal Code. It is a bill of attainder because it singles out a definite class (those who use information and communication technology such as the Internet and computer systems) and punishes that class without benefit of judicial trial by granting the Department of Justice power to block access to a website or computer system if it even looks like a cybercrime is being committed.

Additionally, the penalty for a crime committed with ICT is one degree higher than if it had been committed by traditional means, which implies that merely using ICT is an aggravating circumstance and is a bad, bad thing. I’m of the opinion that the Internet and communication technology are tools, which are neutral.

The Cybercrime Law also fails to provide any procedural safeguards and standards in constructing the Implementing Rules and Regulations, which may be changed by the agency involved in its enforcement without public consultation — ripe for abuse.

I’m grateful that my education opened my eyes to my rights under the Constitution and instilled in me the value of fighting for those rights. My training in media ethics says that journalism gives a voice to the voiceless and can be an effective tool for exposing injustices — thus, vital in a democracy.

That is why I was dismayed that this is how mainstream media (consumed by most Filipinos) is covering the fight against the Cybercrime Law. Below is a clip from the very popular showbiz show The Buzz, in which I was one of the people interviewed.

Note how this “special report” conveniently glosses over all the objections by saying we just need to give the Cybercrime Law a chance. If that’s how it’s presented to the masa media consumer, no wonder people are wondering why we’re so upset about this.