Cultivate No Hate: Apologies to the Bereaved Families of the Hostage Victims

Cultivate No Hate in Your Hearts, No One Wanted What Happened

Kim Chan, a Fashion Sales Associate, encouraging everyone not to cultivate hate. 

It was a tragic and heartbreaking event when a group of Chinese tourists were taken as hostage by an ex-cop and 9 were reportedly died of the incident. My heart goes out to the families who lost their loved ones because of the said unfortunate incident. I know my apologies (in behalf of millions of Filipinos around the world who feel bad and sad about the unfortunate hostage crisis) would not bring back the lives of those who died but I hope it would somehow lighten the burden. 

I know just how difficult it is to lost a love one. My father died when I was in second year high school. It was one of the most difficult times in my life as I struggled to accept the reality that he's never going back. However, death is something that we cannot avoid, it is something that we do not have control of. No matter where we are, even if we are just in our beds sleeping, we could lose our lives anytime, anytime if it really is time for us to bade this world goodbye.

Jackie Chan, a famous Hollywood star from Hongkong urges everyone not to worry, not to hate. May we give heed to his advice and follow his example.

Chinese People Reaction for Filipinos Who Took Photos After the Hostage Crisis

I do not tolerate what some Filipinos did after the incident. I regret that some of our wonderful Chinese friends feel insulted by what some of our countrymen and even policemen did after the tragic hostage crisis. I feel saddened that some of Filipinos seem to be oblivious of the effect of what just transpired. 

I, too, feel bad that no one among those who took photos, seem to care that 9 Chinese nationals died in some unfortunate event. 

However, there must be some cultural differences and misunderstanding here. We are not cruel, we are not apathetic, it's just that we seem to carry the burden with a much lighter and milder attitude. Believe it or not, most of us still smile and joke around amidst crisis (no wonder we didn't take the recession seriously because we think that we have long been in sea of recession with our country's economic situation). It's funny how I still managed to take a video of our apartment almost getting burned several months ago. It's just that we do not cry because it happened, we smile because it's over. Now I don't want getting misunderstood again. We feel bad about what happened, we apologize for a mistake that one of our countrymen committed, but I hope you understand that just like what happened in the Greyhound bus incident wherein a man was beheaded, we do not have control of the situation. We are just as enraged as you are when we see the gunman terrifying the passengers of the bus, so please do not cultivate hate. Again, my heart goes out to the families who were bereaved by the said incident.

A Canadian Citizen Apologizes in Behalf of the Filipinos

Below is a video of a Canadian national, Andrew Philip, who apologizes in behalf of the many Filipinos, who feel bad about what happened. Tragedy can happen anywhere because no country is perfect but rest assured that our government is doing all that it can, to avoid such an unfortunate incident in happening again. 

Please watch the video because Andrew gave voice to the feelings and thoughts that millions of Filipinos. We are deeply sorry about what happened but tragedy is part of life, and cultivating hate in our hearts because a single unfortunate incident will snatch us the liberty to live what we aspire, peaceful lives. The hostage drama crisis has already caused us so much trouble, worries and heartache, let us not add to it by cultivating hate in our hearts. 

Tragedy is a Part of Life, Let's Not Add to It by Cultivating Hate

Below is a video of how a man was beheaded on Greyhound Bus by an Asian. The incident caused terror in the hearts of the people who were in the same bus where the unfortunate event happened. But that didn't cause anger and put the blame on the government and anyone else, because life is full of tragedies and miseries that we sometimes do not have control of (no matter how much we want to). It is test of our character and how we respond to it.

"When you see a man of worth, think of how you may emulate him. When you see one who is unworthy, examine yourself. - Confucius"

An Advice to the Foreign Investors

Just as I have great hope for China and its neighboring countries, I have a great hope for the Philippines. Here's how an investor friend puts it:

Why invest in the Philippines?

There is still a big room for Growth.
There is a Big chunk of Foreign Currency earnings going back to the Philippines thru the OFWs.
There is a big chance to grow up, just lessen corruption and improve the economic policies.
A big number of Consumers and a huge reserve of qualified labor.
New Administration.

 A true investor shouldn't be deterred by a single incident but should look on the greater view of the horizon. 

Everything Happens for a Reason

I hope the tragic event would serve its greater purpose. That is to serve as a reminder to everyone to live our lives to the fullest by doing what we can to help our country, by not asking what it can give us but what we can do to help make it better. 

Crying over something that hurts us will leave us bitter. Smiling over something that makes us learn helps us feel better.

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Call the United States and Canada for FREE with Google Voice in Your Gmail

Google Brings Google Voice Right in Your Gmail Inbox!

Google surprised me with this message in my Gmail Inbox telling me that I could make FREE calls in the United States and Canada! Isn't life so sweet?

Call anyone in the United States and Canada for FREE right in your Inbox by downloading the Google Talk plugin. Yes, you've read it right, you can call anyone in the United States and Canada for FREE even if you are in the Philippines (or anywhere in the world!). You can also call other countries aside from the two mentioned at an incredibly low rate! 

Calling your friends and relatives in the United States and Canada for FREE is just as easy as 1-2-3. Simply dial the number (without any funky country codes whatsoever, just dial it like you're a local!)

Google Voice is Available in the Philippines Too (and other countries too!)
Whooa, I had my Google Voice invite 3 months ago and I was dang excited only to realize it was not available in our country. This time, however, I assure you that it is available in the Philippines so go ahead and call your relatives and friends in the United States and Canada for FREE!

Call Mobile Phones in the United States and Canada for FREE
As soon as you agree to Google Terms of Service (which is simply agreeable as always), you will then be allowed to dial the number of the person that you are calling! Sweet...

I know Skype has this feature wherein you can call anyone (in your contact) and with Skype accounts for free but this one's super sweet. Google Voice integrated to your Gmail, allows you to call United States and Canada phones, yes even mobile phones! Isn't that totally awesome?!

The Line is Just Perfect!
Okay so I really sound so excited that I called my cousin in Hawaii (pardon the time difference, he must have been half asleep when I called!) and he said that the line is not choppy and this is just the sweetest and the coolest thing ever!

Go ahead and make a 'major, major' call to your friends in the United States and Canada from the Philippines now for FREE!

So go ahead and login to your Gmail accounts and call your friends and relatives in the United States and Canada with Google Voice right in your Gmail interface!

Get ready to call phones (yes, even mobile phones) with Gmail :). There's no need to pay thousands of bills calling your relatives and friends in the United States and Canada (from the Philippines or anywhere in the world).

Below is a cute clip of how Google changed and continually changes the world and how the people communicates. 

If you enjoyed this post then your donation would be appreciated!

It Can Only Get Better, Be Still Philippines

Two Consecutive Major Notoriety: August 23 Hostage Drama and Miss Universe 2010 Fourth-Runner Up, Miss Maria Venus Raj

Ex-Cop Hostage Taking: A Challenge to the Philippines' Security

You must have seen the hostage drama yesterday, August 23rd, 2010 which captured global attention when a former policeman, Rolando Mendoza, held Chinese nationals hostage in a tourist van from 7am in  the morning until around 9pm in the evening. 

The said incident was truly saddening, devastating and disappointing as to how the hostage taking incident has ended. My heart goes out to the families of the 9 Chinese nationals who were killed in the said incident.

Almost every Filipino citizens and the rest of the world were hooked in front of their televisions as two of the biggest broadcasting networks in the Philippines (ABS-CBN and GMA Network) covered the said incident Live from the time the cops tried to negotiate with the hostage taker until the time when 9 people inside the bus were confirmed dead.

Below is the video of the hostage taking event:

Effects to Foreign Investors  

As much as I don't want to comment about the recent hostage taking crisis that transpired yesterday, I can't just help it. Several years ago, I had been apathetic with what's happening around me. At least until it would directly affect me. Not until our own apartment was almost burned several months ago that I learned to be more aware and care about what's happening around me. 

Just when people around me are complaining about how terrible our defense system is, I thought about how the incident would affect our whole nation's image now and how would the foreign investors would react to such a tragic event. I knew right there and then that the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) would be greatly affected by the said incident and that it would crumble as investors around the world would lose their confidence with our security.

You Can't Put All the Blame to the Government

A couple of the country's major problems have been highlighted because of the said hostage taking drama. These issues have long been present in our community and the incident didn't trigger them but only exposed them. These issues are are:

a. Poor justice system
b. Poor defense and security system

I have long been aware of these issues. Most Filipinos are.  I know that PNoy (President Noynoy Aquino) has long been struggling to keep the both ends meet. I know just how hard he tries to troubleshoot the problem he has been handed down by the previous presidents before him (problems he literally inherited from his mom, late President Corazon Aquino). Therefore, I think it is useless to to blame the the government for what happened. No one wanted what had happen. Instead, think about how you can help make our country become better, in our own little ways and places.

Problems Create Opportunities (An Advice for Foreign Investors)

1. Be Ready When Others are Fearful

Though I hate just how low the PSE would be, I know we could take this sad event as an opportunity to pick the best companies and buy shares or stocks while they are down because the effects of the said event would just be for a small moment. Just like what Warren Buffet counseled, "Be greedy when others are fearful".

Therefore, I think the foreign investors shouldn't be afraid in investing in our country and judging us by some unfortunate events and completely forgetting about the great potentials of our country.  I think it is plain rubbish if foreign investors would just back out just because of the said sad incident. A true investor shouldn't be deterred by a single incident but should look on the greater view of the horizon. 

2. Travel When Your Purchasing Power is Greater

A lot of tourists must be afraid by now of stepping in the Philippines and I wouldn't be surprised if the Hongkong government has heightened their travel advisory alert about staying away from the Philippines and I hear them. 

However, I think the foreign investors need to give heed to Warren Buffet's words again, "Be greedy when others are fearful".

The hostage taking drama will surely almost automatically trigger the increase in the value of dollars, or should I say, it will weaken the value of Philippine peso. For foreign investors and Filipinos that are dependent to OFW remittances, the said event could be of advantage because of the increase in their purchasing powers.

Let's face it, the price of the commodity constantly increases and there's nothing we can do to avoid or thwart that. I guess it's a perfect opportunity for foreign investors and tourists to take advantage of the situation while their purchasing power is strong. Not that I'm happy of what happened. It's just that we shouldn't cry because it happened, we need to smile because it's over. In every situation, I guess we all need to see the bright side in them instead of focusing on the negative result of it.

The hostage taking incident has not only highlighted two of the most disturbing issues of our country but I hope, it has also served a greater purpose of being a wake up call to the government that they should tighten the security and avoid similar incidents from happening again. It should also give the foreign investors an assurance that the government of the Republic of the Philippines are now doing all that it can to prevent such incidences from occurring again.

It's unfair to generalize the whole Philippines as a dangerous country just because a single unfortunate event has transpired. It's like generalizing the whole United States as a country lacking security just because of what happened during the 9/11 bombing while there are many safe cities and villages in other states of it. You see, there are many other areas in the Philippines especially in the Visayas and Mindanao regions (take note that the hostage incident happened in Luzon) like Camiguin Islands, Boracay, Palawan and many other tourist spots in the country that are completely contrary of what you see in the television and cities that scare you in the Manila area.

I guess others may think that I am being impenetrable when it comes to negativity, I just probably strive to look at the bright side of things and seeing opportunity when others see hopelessness. I just hope that the said incident will serve a greater purpose and that is a great wake up call for the government and its people to focus on its security, tighten their measures and get ready (if not greedy) when opportunities to improve arise. Though we may not be able to change the situation, we can always change our attitude towards it and our course of action.

Miss Universe Fourth Runner-Up Maria Venus Raj: A Pride or Disappointment?

Fourth Runner-up: Miss Philippines, Maria Venus Ray
Venus Raj donning a boxing glove. A symbol of the Philippines pride, Manny "The Pacman" Pacquiao
Maria Venus Raj: A true Filipina beauty, a true Filipino pride
Maria Venus Raj during their pre-pageant pictorial

Almost every Filipino in the world were so excited when the representative of the Philippines for the Miss Universe 2010 beauty pageant, Miss Maria Venus Raj was included in the top 5 finalists. Everyone's raising their expectations as she was considered to be one of the favorites. Until the question and answer portion when she was given the question:

Question to Venus: What is one big mistake that you did in your life? And what did you do to make it right?

Answer: In my 22 years of existence, there is nothing major, major problem that I have done in my life. Because I am very confident with my family and the love they are giving to me. So thank you thank you so much.

Below is a video of the portion of the Miss Universe beauty pageant question and answer portion for Miss Maria Venus Raj, the representative of the Philippines.

Perhaps I'm one of those people who were fast or almost automatically disappointed and threw mocking comments at her. We were all cheering loudly as she made it to the top five finalists but the cheering and encouragement disappeared almost instantly when her answer didn't quite reach our expectations and if I would be asked the same question, I guess I could respond to Venus Raj with:

"My greatest mistake, so far, was when I ridiculed you when you answered the question almost like an idiot, when you failed to nail it. I was so disappointed that I almost forgot how a few minutes ago you made me so proud and I am trying to make it right by posting that I am proud of how far you've gone. I understand how difficult it must have been for you, the pressure and how nervous you must have been and I think you deserve to be applauded by your grace, your faith and most of all, for making all the Filipinos excited and proud".

Stop the Crab Mentality, Let's Establish Unity

Below is a video of the Philippines pride, Charise Pempengco, singing "It Could Only Get Better". I guess it's a soothing reminder for all of the Filipinos to be still and stop criticizing our government, Miss Venus Raj. If we can't defend our own country, our own people, who do we expect to defend us?

It Could Only Get Better by Charice Pempengco

Let the sun refuse to shine
It won't be long before the days are brighter
If every steps an uphill climb
Carry on until they feel much lighter
For all the clouds up in the sky
For all the teardrops in our eyes

It can only get better
Be still my heart
It can only get better
We've come this far
It can only get better
I know it hurts (Ooh)
For what it's worth
It can only get better

While most Filipinos are disappointed and devastated with the two incidents, I think we need to focus more on what positive changes those unfortunate events could bring in our country, let's not focus and linger on the negative effects. Again let us not cry because it happened. Let us smile because it's over and learn from those experiences.

Let us think of the Filipinos that makes us proud like Lea Salonga, Charice Pempengco, Manny Pacquiao, Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye (if elected would be the first Filipina judge in California, as nominated by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger) among others, and stop criticizing our government, our race. It's saddening to see that the very people that put us down are our very own kababayans. We cannot expect our country to develop and progress if we keep on blaming each other. These incidences only show that a malignant cancer has long developed and still grows, it's our crab mentality. As long as we keep such a vicious attitude in us, we will never succeed in our goals of thriving, of succeeding.

With all these incidences, I am still, and will always be proud that I am a Filipino. Let us not think about what our country can do for us, what those people could do for our country, but think about in your own little area, what can you do to make your countrymen proud of you? Or at least, what can you do to help make your community better instead of just gossiping and ridiculing those people who tried their best?

"When you see a man of worth, think of how you may emulate him. When you see one who is unworthy, examine yourself." - Confucius

How to Open a Dollar Account in the Philippines

Peso is Getting Stronger

Love-Hate-Love. That's a feeling I currently have for the present administration. I love that the peso is getting stronger as the rate of US Dollars to Philippine peso has consistently stayed in the P45.00-$1.00 or sometimes $45.50. The cents might vary but it would always stay to P45. The current dollar-peso exchange rate means that we have a much more stable economy when compared to the times when the dollar-peso exchange rate is $1.00-P54.00. I love that our monetary unit is getting stronger but I hate it when I receive dollars that would automatically become converted to peso in such a low rate! 

So I decided to open a dollar account so that even if the exchange rate may be ridiculously low, I could hoard  my money and have them changed to peso once the exchange rate goes up. 

There are several banks that allow Filipinos to open dollar accounts in the Philippine especially when you regularly expect remittances from OFWs and below are the list of those banks.

List of Banks in the Philippines that Accept Dollar Savings 

1. Banco de Oro
2. Bank of the Philippine Islands
3. Philippine National Bank 
4. Land Bank of the Philippines
5. Metrobank
7. Bank of Commerce
8. Queenbank
9. China Bank
10.Allied Bank

...and the list goes on. I guess most of the commercial banks on the Philippines accept dollar savings and time deposit accounts, except for cooperative, thrift and rural banks. 

Banking with Banco de Oro: The Bank With the Worst Customer Service

I decided to bank with Banco de Oro, you know the bank leading in the most sub-standard tellers with their poor customer service? The teller who attended to my needs was probably underpaid because she's the worse teller I've ever encountered. I've been banking with other banks such as Philippine National Bank, Bank of Commerce, City Savings Bank, Metro Bank, Allied Bank and they have nice tellers. Had it not been for their many easy accessible branches in the Philippines, I wouldn't bank with Banco de Oro.

Well anyway, be sure to bring with you 2 (two) 1x1 or 2x2 photos and ID's.

You would need to bring with you any 2 (two) of the following identification documents for their requirements:

Photocopy of at least one (1) valid photo-bearing identification document front and back issued and signed by an official authority: 

1. Passport, Driver's License
2. Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) ID
3. National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Clearance
4. Police Clearance
5. Postal ID
6. Voter's ID
7. Barangay Certification
8. Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) E-card
9. Social Security System (SSS) Card
10. TIN ID
11. Senior Citizen Card
12. Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) ID
13. Seaman's Book, Alien Certification of Registration/Immigrant Certificate of Registration
14. Government Office ED (e.g. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
15. Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF) IDs
16. Certification from the National Council for the Welfare of Disabled Persons (NCWDP)
17. Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Certification
18. Integrated Bar of the Philippines ID
19. Company IDs issued by the private entities or institution registered or supervised or regulated either by the BSP, SEC or IC and other valid IDs issued by the Government and its instrumentalities.

Aside from those two documents, I was asked to fill up an application form with the pertinent details like personal data, employment information and specimen signatures. 

Have Your Peso Monies Converted to Dollars Before Opening A Dollar Account

Nakita: A Very Good Money Changer

Alright, so it was my first time to open a dollar account so I wasn't aware that I would need my peso monies converted or changed to dollars. I thought being the bank that "find ways", they would convert my money from peso to dollar or I would buy from them or something but I was wrong. I then tried the Money Changer in SM but they were of no help, either. I then proceeded to Mary Mart and look for establishments with the Money Changer signs but the establishment that I inquired to said that they don't sell dollars. I was referred by some nice customer to a place called Narita or Nakita. I was too exhausted to remember but it's a pretty good establishment near SM Delgado. They're located in the second floor of spare parts establishment. The security guard was very courteous and I didn't have to wait for such a long time like I waited in BDO. You will need to get your priority number then enter one of the cubicles and I was pleased that they have locks so you could carefully count your money before you leave without worrying about anyone peeking at your shoulders, thus protecting the privacy of the transactions. 

The teller was courteous, I think she has masters degree when compared to the teller at Banco de Oro. You see, it was a simple establishment but I am well pleased with their customer service and how organized their money changing process was when compared to the larger company, BDO, only filled with employees that obviously hate their jobs. 

The Nakita teller handed me with a piece of paper with the price of dollars. $1.00-$45.50 when you are buying it from the money changer. However, if you have your dollars converted to peso, the exchange rate would be $45.00. It was such a swift process buying the dollars that I totally comment the Nakita money changer. Be sure to look for money changer establishments and don't deal with black market or those who are just on the streets for your own safety. 

I then went bank to Banco de Oro and handed a deposit slip after signing bazillion of slips and documents like I would have to migrate to Zimbabwe. It's kind of crazy, I just hate the wait and the paper works. I also needed to list the serial numbers of the dollars. Luckily I only deposited $582.00 so it wasn't much of writings. 

The un-courteous teller then started typing on her computer and voilla, I got my Dollar Savings passbook! 

Remember, have your Philippine peso money converted to Dollars with money changer establishments before heading to the bank where you would like to open a Dollars Savings Deposit with, bring with you 2 valid ID's and 2 photos and wait for the processes and you will then have your Dollar Account in the Philippines!

New Beginnings: Iloilo Philippines Mission Open House and the Cebu City Philippines Temple Dedication

Cebu City Philippine Temple Dedication

Last June 13th 2010 the second temple in the Philippines was dedicated by the 16th President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Thomas S. Monson. There were 3 sessions to accommodate the number of Saints that attended the said remarkable event in the history of the LDS Church in the Philippines. 

I felt so blessed to have become part of the said event as me and my mom went to Cebu to attend the said ceremony. It was a great opportunity to get to meet other members of the Church. The reality of President Gordon B. Hinckley's promise that the Lord will bring the temples closer to the Saints, instead of the other way around, is gradually becoming a reality. 

Iloilo Philippines Mission

August 7th 2010 is another remarkable event in the lives of the LDS people in the Panay area as the Iloilo Philippines mission had an open house today. The event was attended by all the Stake Presidents in Iloilo North, Iloilo, Kalibo (my homeward) and Roxas. All of the stake presidents gave talks about how once hoped that there will be a mission home in our area and that all wards would be filled with missionaries and lo, the day has come! 

New Beginnings

I feel so blessed to have attended both wonderful events in the LDS history of our area. I know that God hears and answers every person's faithful prayers. I know that He has prepared each and everyone of us to help Him build His kingdom here on Earth. I know that eventually there will have an Iloilo Philippines temple. 

Below are just some of our pictures during the temple dedication in Cebu and the open house of the Iloilo Philippines mission.

My mom and me during the Cebu City Philippines Temple Dedication (June 13, 2010)

The Cebu City Philippines Temple

Me(in the middle) and friends during the Iloilo Philippines Mission Open House