#Du30: Give Duterte a Chance, Give PH a Chance

Disclaimer: This is not a paid post, nor is this a political campaign material. The views and opinion expressed in this post are solely mine and do not, in any way, represent the views and opinion of any company I’m connected with. In the interest of full disclosure, be it known that I was born  and have lived in Davao City for more than twenty-three years and is currently living and working here in Makati for almost three years now.  First post of this #Duterte2016 series, “Why Manila should be very afraid of Duterte” gives non-Dabawenyos a fundamental understanding of who Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is and how he has performed as top executive of Davao City for two decades.

It’s been a day after the second leg of COMELEC’s PILIpinas Presidential Debate and the whole country is still very much into it. A lot has been said and I believe this will go down the memory lane as the most followed and most intense presidential election ever. Election-related opinion and memes have dominated social media platforms Facebook and Twitter all day. Thanks to the ever-growing power of social media which allows everyone to be part of each and every issue which practically makes everyone instant political analysts. But this post is not necessarily about what transpired in the debate yesterday as I’m pretty much certain that you were able to watch it. Allow me to share with you my few cents regarding this whole political fiasco.

The Poe, Binay and Roxas common denominator

I’ve been following all the political drama leading to the May elections and I just noticed one thing in common among Binay, Poe and Roxas. Despite the barrage of corruption issues, Binay remains unfazed in his political campaign from day 1 of his being a vice president until today. Bombarded with incompetence and trust issues, Roxas remains steadfast and self-asserting. Threatened with disqualifications due to legality of her citizenship, Poe battles it out with all her legal might. If there’s one thing that makes these three look the same, it’s this: they all ‘lust’ for the presidency. Binay and Roxas have long been salivating for the country’s top political post while Poe has always said she wanted to continue FPJ’s legacy (whatever that legacy is apart from Panday and other action-packed films.. Mabuhay ang Panday!).

Digong, as you very well know,  has always been the reluctant presidential candidate until he was given the go signal by the Comelec and was cleared of all technical obstacles filed against him. He has always said losing the presidency is never his concern and that he will not die losing this bid. I seriously believe that with so much accolades up Digong’s sleeves, he honestly doesn’t need it. We cannot judge categorically the primary motives of each candidate, whether it’s a genuine care to help the Filipino people or to advance their self-interests and of their cronies. Oftentimes, I can’t help but wonder why the presidency is highly coveted, that many resort to mudslinging, corruption and other dirty schemes just to win the country’s highest political post. But that is another story altogether.

 

Give Duterte a chance

Ninoy Aquino is often tagged “the best president we never had”. Naga City’s pride Jesse Robredo was very much celebrated only after his very unfortunate death. And we were left with ‘could have beens’ and ‘what ifs’.. Like Ninoy would have brought the country to greater heights had he served as the president and Jesse would have been a great senator had the unfortunate incident not happened.  Of course, this is a pretty strange reasoning, but I hope you get what I mean. So where am I getting at? Let’s give it to Duterte while he still can. Let’s allow this country to be governed by someone highly capable and someone who fully understands the problem especially of that of Mindanao.

Digong is already 70. He could have served another term in his home town where he is very much familiar of the people, the environment and everything in between. But due to persistent public demand (which is very much documented in all of his past interviews with the broadcast giants), he finally heeded the Filipino’s call for him to run and serve this country, despite all the risks that this decision entails, with the sole intention of serving the greater Filipino people outside of his turf, Davao City. What I am trying to say here is that, Philippines, we are now given the chance of putting someone highly capable of leading this country to move forward. Let’s not waste this chance.

Give Philippines a chance

Philippines, I am no political expert nor am I a decorated economist or a seasoned journalist, I am an ordinary professional accountant working in the audit industry, a twenty-something millenial, single since birth (yes, kelangan maisingit *winks*) but I appeal to all of you: Give Duterte a chance. Look beyond his macho Vin Diesel or Van Damme personality and his cussing, look at his credentials, his concrete platform no other candidate can match (well, except of course for Miriam haha) It is not everyday you get the chance to vote for someone who can sincerely work for and lead the country and its people.

He may not have the legal brilliance of Miriam Santiago, the eloquence and serenity of Grace Poe which makes her very promising, the political machinery of Binay and Roxas to back his campaign, but Digong has the experience, leadership and political will. But should you prefer, get smitten and therefore admire the flowery words of traditional politicians, then it’s your call. But I hope that we all realize that the success of the president does not rely on eloquence, serenity, political machinery etc. We need a president who is not necessarily a good debater but one that acts and has strong political will to gets things done.

I’m ending this post by writing what I said in my Facebook post: Philippines, make Digong our country’s next leader. Itinataya ko po ang maliit kong pangalan.. He will not disappoint.

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#Du30 #Duterte2016 #JustDuIt

 

#PatrikAt25: My eight-day solo budget travel in Thailand — and why I almost died in Phuket!

This is the second part of my #PatrikAt25 blog post series. This part will talk about the first city in my tri-city adventure in Thailand.. Phuket! For those who missed, the first part “Lessons from 8-day  solo travel birthday escapade in Thailand” talked about the exciting and challenging experiences I’ve encountered throughout my journey. In this post, I will be talking about the places I’ve been to, where I’ve eaten and everything else in between. And yes, prepare for lots of pictures!

Ever since my Thailand trip, my Facebook inbox has been bombarded with lots of questions from friends and relatives about the places I have visited, the cuisines I’ve tried and how I managed to get by my eight-day long solo journey. This post will try to cover everything about my journey, except my.. well, ‘adventures’ in Bangkok’s famous Red Light District. *wink* 🙂

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For everyone asking, this trip was a celebration of a myriad of events: more than anything, it’s a celebration of my 25th birthday last August 24. Add to that, I got promoted in SGV as a Senior Associate after being with the firm for two years (hired August 2013); it’s also a celebration of working in the country’s financial district Makati for two years (arrived in Manila July 2013) and my second year anniversary for having passed the Certified Public Accountants’ licensure examinations (passed May 2013). This pretty much explains the long eight-day journey.

Mini movie summary of my Phuket solo travel escapade! #Thailand2015 #ILovePhuket #25thOnThe24th

A video posted by Jan – Patrik Birondo Laroya (@janpatrik) on

August 21 – Manila

I arrived at the world famous (for some reason) Ninoy Aquino International Airport at around 6pm. I was accompanied by my college friends Chie and Nina Daelle who surprised me with their mini send-off cupcake. Haha3354My flight to Phuket, Thailand was ‘initially’ scheduled at 7:20pm, but of course, due to Cebu Pacific’s well known efficiency in their operations, I boarded the aircraft at 10pm. While waiting at the departure area, I met another solo traveler Veejay Jose, who is bound for Shanghai, China. After being stuck and uneasy inside the plane for more than hour, we finally went off at exactly 11pm and received a bottled water and Nissin Cup Noodles from Cebupac as their ‘flight delayed apology goodies’ Bravo! *Insert sarcasm*

We were handed a form from the Thai Immigration Bureau which basically asks for your personal and passport details for record-keeping and monitoring purposes. No reason to be scared, although I was! haha.

August 22 – Phuket

We landed at Phuket International Airport at around 3am. When I went out, I stumbled upon two kababayans Jane and Kat at the taxi stand. We were charged 1,000 Thailand Baht which was super expensive as compared to normal transportation cost had we arrived earlier. Since we were all headed to Patong Beach in Sai Kor Road, we agreed to share the taxi to minimize our cost.

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The transportation time from the airport to Patong Beach usually ranges from 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the traffic. The only good thing about arriving super early morning.. no traffic! We arrived at Patong Beach in just roughly 30 minutes!I stayed at Phunara Residence which I pre-booked via Booking.com. For only 800 Baht for two nights, I got a Standard Deluxe Room with a Queen size bed good for two people.. all for me. And oh, I was not informed that it comes with a super cute receptionist (well, not for the taking haha).
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I woke up at 7am only to see a terrible Phuket weather as it was raining hard, I can barely see the streets outside my window. In my itinerary, I was supposed to join a Phi Phi Islands Tour but due to the weather, I did not push through with it. As they always say, some things might not go as planned, and I didn’t let this affect me. The rain subsided an hour after, so I toured myself around the vicinity for almost two hours. Yes, I figured it’s possible. LOL

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Patong Beach is a 10-minute walk from Phunara Residence. I strolled through Jungceylon Shopping Center (which was still closed, but more of this later), Bangla Road (famous for its notorious red light district and party-til-dawn vibe) and finally Patong Beach. It’s not a white sand beach but more of the golden brown type of sand beach, but it was really nice. I grabbed myself a 40 Baht coffee and took some pictures while strolling at the bay. A block away from my hotel is Patong Holiday Hotel which serves breakfast buffet for only 150 Baht or roughly PHP200. As fate would have it, the heavens started to play again and poured heavy rains so I had to seek refuge of my hotel room once again.

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At around 3pm, I started walking again, this time, on the other side of Sai Kor Road. Phuket, being a haven for beach lovers, is surrounded by lots of beautiful beaches, namely: Patong, Karon, Kata, Bangtao, Surin, Kamala, etc. But due to time constraints, I was only able to visit Patong and Karon.3492

Aside from the tuktuk (which looks a lot better compared to their Bangkok counterparts), another popular mode of transportation is the motorbike. Anyone can rent a motorbike for only 200 Baht which is good for twenty four hours. Having no experience driving a motorbike in the Philippines and since the theme of my trip is YOLO, I hired a motorbike. Yes. Until now, it still gives me the creeps every time I share this with my friends. And until this very moment that I’m writing this, it still gets pretty much to my nerves.

The store attendant asked me if I have a driving license and guess what..

Me: “Of course yes. But I left it in Manila”

Attendant: “Oh it’s ok it’s ok.”

I, for sure, didn’t know what I’m getting myself into since I don’t have any driving experience. But since I’ve always been the proud fast learner, I thought it’s gonna be a piece of cake. Get this.. I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW HOW TO START A MOTORBIKE!! The attendant even helped me mount the damn bike and I couldn’t even sit properly cos I’m not used to it. So the lady gave me several instructions, which I didn’t really understand cos she was speaking in English in a very rough Thai accent. The moment I turned the right handle (see, I don’t even know the name of the part! haha), the motorbike just uncontrollably raced forward super fast.. and get this, I almost bumped two foreigners along the way since I didn’t know how to handle the motorbike!

Attendant: “You sure you still wanna do this?”

Me: “Yuh I’m good. I’m just not used to this yet. Will give it one more try.”

At the back of my mind, it was really scary, but I said.. “Screw it. One more!”

So I turned the right handle once again, and the next thing I remember was the lady screaming on top of her lungs while I went straight to the road in an even faster speed that I almost jumped off the motorbike. And I eventually stopped. The tuktuk and taxi drivers were laughing and some were yelling at me. An Indian store attendant went my way and said: “Stop my friend. You don’t know how to drive. Safety first my friend, safety first. It’s more expensive if you get in an accident. Just ride a tuktuk on your way to Karon Beach for only 200 Baht.”

.. and finally, I resigned myself to the fact that I couldn’t drive the motorbike, not even the simple act of mounting it straight! I could still remember how terrified I was at that time. I couldn’t help but imagine what would have happened had I bumped directly the two Americans on my first try: I could have went straight to the jail! And as for my second failed attempt: I could have went straight to the hospital!

Lesson: Adventure is fun.. only if it does not involve hurting others or yourself, in a foreign land at that!!

So I hailed a tuktuk while walking away from the rental store and headed to Karon Beach at last!

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I was still sweating and my heart beat being unusually fast, I told myself: something good has to happen here. I can’t leave Phuket with a not-so-good memory of it. So, I took off my shirt and dipped myself into the beach. Oh, did I mention I only brought with me the small but durable and stylish sling bag from Zalora containing my passport, a few hundred Baht bills and coins, phone and a selfie stick? Yes.. no extra short, shirt and even undies. So I bought a vneck shirt from a local Thail for only 120 Baht which was initially priced at 250 Baht! Haha

After a couple of hours of solitude at the bay watching people sun bathing (easily my favorite part! haha), I went back to Patong and straight to my hotel via a tuktuk which charged me 300 Baht.

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At around 8pm, I went to the famous Jungceylon Shopping Center which is a 5-minute walk from Sai Kor Road. If Jungceylon is part of your Phuket itinerary (well it should be!), there is a cultural fountain show every 7pm and 9pm depicting some of the history of Phuket and Patong. The shopping center is the perfect place for shopping, dining and everything else in between. For dinner, I had a 99 Baht package meal at Sushi Box which include three pieces of california salmon, three pices of california crabsticks, two pieces gyoza, seaweed salad and miso soup. Yes.. all for 99 Baht.

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At 10pm, I met again with Jane and Kat (new found friends from Phuket airport) for a last night in Phuket pizza and beer and finally brazed the crazy party people at Bangla Road. If you dig crazy parties, lady boys, women strutting their stuff in public.. Bangla Road is a must visit for you guys. Otherwise, stay at the comfort of your hotel room or go get a massage! Haha. Jane and Kat were to leave Phuket for Bangkok at six in the morning while my flight going to Bangkok was at 12:45pm. Just when we were about to finally call it a night around three am, Jane and Kat had another thing in  mind. Remember the cute receptionist I’ve been crushing on? Jane and Kat took a picture of us!! Hahaha He is Mehn, a 19 year old Myanmar national.

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As much as I would want to extend for a few more nights in Phuket, I had to bid good bye to proceed on my next destination.. Bangkok!!

So that pretty much sums up my two-night Phuket journey, first part of my tri-city solo travel adventure in Thailand! Bangkok and Pattaya experience up nexttt!

#PatrikAt25: Lessons from my 8-day solo travel birthday escapade in Thailand

This is the first in my #PatrikAt25 series of blog posts since I realized my eight-day journey cant be encapsulated satisfactorily in a single blog post. In this post, I will be talking about how it feels to solo travel and other whatnots you may face along the way.

When I first posted on my Facebook account that I’m going to Thailand for an eight-day solo travel in time for my 25th birthday this August, I was bombarded with questions wondering if I were that crazy to go on my first out of the country trip alone. To go on a solo adventure has always been a bucket list item for me, the reason why despite many unsolicited advice from workmates and travel advisories following the two consecutive bombing incidents in Bangkok, first at the Erawan Shrine which killed more than twenty people and second at the Phra Arthir Pier, I worked my way to make this happen. Of course, I was a bit petrified with the idea not only of solo travel but to do it in a foreign country with an entirely different culture and language! But then I reckoned, it’s my quarter life birthday and this makes this trip all the more exciting.. and yes, equally nerve-wrecking. So screw it, whatever happens, happens. And by all means and at all costs, THIS HAS TO HAPPEN.

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Solo travel lets you meet new friends

While solo travelling is not something unheard of, it isn’t pretty much a popular concept here in the Philippines. Imagine going to a foreign country, meeting new people using an entirely different language.. all that on your own. At times, you will have to seek people’s help most especially in directions. When we were young, our Maria Clara-inspired parents would always tell us “Never talk to strangers”. While it is true in most cases, sometimes, deviating from that popular norm does us good. You see, we often see ‘strangers’ with a negative connotation, which shouldn’t always be the case. Note that we are also ‘strangers’ from the perspective of other people we don’t know. But, do we embody the ‘stranger’ our parents warned us about? Continue Reading

Why I choose Uber over GrabTaxi: A transport apps review

For the uninitiated, Uber is a San Francisco, California-based transportation network mobile app which seamlessly connects riders to drivers through the app on people’s smartphones. GrabTaxi, on the other hand, is a Malaysian-based mobile app and is by far, the fiercest competitor of Uber in the South East Asia region. I am writing this post under the assumption that you guys know how this app works.  Under the conventional taxi ride, one hails a cab outside the street and see if it’s available for a cab service. If it’s a rush hour, luck can only have you on board.

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In a fast-paced world that we have right now, people would most often than not, go for the most convenient mode of transportation. This is where Uber comes into play. With your smartphone and mobile data or WiFi connection, you can electronically hail (e-hail) your private driver via Uber at your fingertips at the comfort of your room/office or wherever you are, as long as you show up at your  designated pick up point once your Uber driver arrives. That is what Uber is about.. convenience. It’s as simple as ordering your favorite pizza via food delivery mobile apps or purchasing your fave sporting apparels via Zalora. And oh, it’s worth mentioning that you can get the free Zalora App on Google Playstore.

Payment methods

What I like about Uber is having to book a cab without bringing cash. This is most important especially for people like me who don’t usually bring cash and prefer to pay everything using a credit card. I like getting off in my Toyota or Honda sedan car without having to shove my hands in my wallet for fare payment and having to wait for the driver to hand me out my change. For rewards points purposes, for convenience and what have you.. but using credit card as mode of payment pretty much spells out  the word convenience. According to the grapevine, GrabTaxi is already in the process of introducing  Uber-like cashless payments to make it at par with the competition. Continue Reading

Why Manila should be very afraid of Duterte

Disclaimer: This is NOT A PAID POST, nor is this a political campaign material. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are my personal thoughts on the matter and does not, in any way, represent the views and opinions of any Company I’m connected with.

In the interest of full disclosure, please know that I was born and raised in Davao City and have lived there for more than twenty years of my life. Since I was eligible to vote in the elections, I voted Rodrigo Duterte once as vice mayor in the 2010 elections and as mayor in the 2013 elections. If ever he will run again in the local post come the 2016 election season, without a doubt, I would still be voting Duterte. For everyone’s information, Duterte has served as mayor of my city from 1988-1998 and became the vice mayor in the May 2010 elections and gave way to his daughter Inday Sarah Duterte for the top local political post. Yes, in case this needs special mention, I voted Inday Sarah also and I love what she has done in the city. Rody Duterte regained his mayoral post in the 2013 interim elections.

Needless to say and without batting an eyelash, I am a satisfied voter and a staunch supporter of Duterte.

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Credits: TV5 News Media

Digong, as he is more fondly called in Davao, is known to be feisty, straightforward and no non-sense talker-type of politician who already witnessed many political fiascos in his decades of service in the political arena. These past few weeks, Mayor Duterte’s name has spread like wildfire on national television, broadsheet papers, local tabloids and all over social media. With his ongoing heated exchange of tirades with DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima and CHR Etta Rosales, he became controversial and is the favorite topic of many, from tricycle, jeepney drivers and parloristas to Starbucks baristas and yuppies working in Ayala – Makati Central Business District.

Known as the ‘proud Dabawenyo’ in our office, I often receive random Lync chats from random people asking me random stuff about Digong. While there are those who became instant fans after his expose on the rice-smuggling controversy where he was summoned by the Senators, there are those who are utterly disturbed by his recent strong remarks. Being the pro-Duterte that I am, I felt obliged to defend my mayor against all the unfounded criticisms and baseless accusations being bombarded at him especially on how he manages Davao City with strict ordinances being implemented all throughout his jurisdiction. Continue Reading

#LabanPilipinas : Why Philippine volleyball is a force to reckon with

Patrik’s note: This is the second post of my #LabanPilipinas blog series, which wraps-up the recently concluded Asian Under 23 Women’s Volleyball Championship held from May 1-9 at Philsports Arena in Pasig. The first post “#LabanPilipinas: Call for unity and support for PH volleyball’ pretty much speaks for itself.

After a decade-long absence in official international meets, slowly but surely, the Philippines is back on track and is inching its way to the top.

The Philippines’ rise and 7th place finish in the recently concluded inaugural Asian Under 23 Women’s Championship proves that we are now taking the sport seriously again. It’s a clear message to our neighboring countries that we are working on regaining our lost glory. For the uninitiated, the Philippines used to be an Asian powerhouse in women’s volleyball during the 90s until 2005 where the country played host to the Sea Games and the women’s volleyball delegation grabbed the bronze medal.

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The twelve brave Filipinas who represented Philippine volleyball in the international taraflex. Photo credit: Leo Lopez of Volleyball PH Photo Album

We witnessed twelve young volley belles both from the UAAP and NCAA who heeded the call to represent and don the country and the flag in the Under 23 tourney; we saw them battle their hearts out to the more powerful Asian countries inside the court; no matter how stiff the competition is, we witnessed their ‘never say die’ attitude and they showed the world that Philippine volleyball is no joke by giving the foreign teams a sure fright and run for their money.

Thanks to team captain Alyssa Valdez, Gretchel Soltones, Myla Pablo, EJ Laure, Jho Maraguinot, Bea de Leon, Jaja Santiago, Jia Morado, Risa Sato, Ella de Jesus, Ria Meneses and of course libero Tin Agno. Huge thanks also to the coaching staff led by head coach Roger Gorayeb and Edjet Mabbayad and consultant Ateneo women’s volleyball coach Tai Bundit. As coach Roger always say during huddles.. “I LAB YOU ALL!” Continue Reading

‘Love knows no gender’ and what really matters

I woke up early morning yesterday and stumbled upon a trending viral picture showing a couple (in case you didn’t notice, they’re both gays) both on my Facebook and Twitter feeds. Many friends asked for my reaction, and truth be told: I was “inggit” and somehow surprised. Envious because I’m still single and surprised with all the antiquated hate comments full of bigotry and downright stupidity from people privy to their story.

Apparently, the couple in the photos is Naparuj Mond Kaendi, a Thai creative director and booking agent at Bacca Model Management and Thorsten Mid, a model from Germany.

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Image credit: BV Patrol Facebook Page Contributor

While the pictures received a lot of positive comments showing support to the couple, these also drew flak as the pictures didn’t quite sit well with some netizens who chose to bombard the couple with unwarranted hate and discriminating comments which is something uncalled for and is completely unnecessary. True, some gay and even straight people are at the forefront asking for gender equality, but upon seeing stuff like this, they go gaga all over their social media accounts criticizing what they think is grossly unacceptable for them just because, as others put it, it’s not the usual kind of relationship they have always perceived. Continue Reading