Friday, July 23, 2010

Food for the Soul

Reposting Bro Bo Sanchez' latest post.  It's exactly what my parents preach every single day.  If I show this to them, I'm sure I'll never hear the end of it.  They will agree with much conviction.

The Best Medicine In The World Is Right In Front Of You

       Lolo Carding and Lola Caring met each other in their old age, fell in love, and decided to get married.
       Their age? Lolo Carding was 81 and Lola Caring was 79.
       One day, while walking in a mall, they passed by a big drugstore.
       Lolo Carding told his fiancé, “Let’s go in.”
       They met the woman behind the counter. Lolo Carding asked, “Do you sell heart medication?”
       The woman said, “Yes, Lolo.”
       “Medicine for arthritis?” Lolo Carding asked.
       The woman nodded her head, “Plenty, Lolo.”
       “How about medicine for memory problems, back pains, osteoporosis, constipation, high cholesterol, hypertension, and diabetes?”
       The woman smiled, “Yes, we have all those medicines, Lolo.”
       “Do you also sell wheelchairs and walkers?”
       “We have many brands, Lolo.”
       Lolo Carding and Lola Caring smiled at each other, turned to the woman behind the counter and said, “We will be getting married in one month. Can we use this drugstore as our bridal registry.”
How You Can Avoid
Becoming A Walking Drugstore?
       People expect that as they grow old, they’ll be taking more and more drugs.
       Why? Because that’s what old people do. 
I know of some people who take 20 tablets a day. 
That seems normal now. People take maintenance medicines for hypertension, high sugar, cholesterol, uric acid, high sugar, and heart problems. Plus, they take more medicines for the side effects. Isn’t that insane? Yet that has become normal too.
       Friend, this doesn’t have to happen to you.
You have a choice.
There’s another path to growing old.
       I’ll repeat my message: The best medicine in the world is God’s chosen food. Eat it and be healed.
Consult Your Manufacturer
       If you’re phone is busted, what do you do?
       You just don’t bring it to anyone.
If you’re wise, you bring it to its manufacturer.
If you have a Nokia phone, you bring it to Nokia. 
If it’s Samsung, you bring it to Samsung. 
If it’s an Iphone, you bring it to Apple.
Today, I want you to go to your Manufacturer.
Get yourself repaired.
       Consult Him. 
       What does He say about becoming healthy?
       I’m not a doctor.
       I’m a spiritual mentor.
       So I’ll be showing you what the Bible says about health.
It’s amazing how science is now discovering the logic behind these ancient verses. 
99% Cause Of All Disease
Read carefully: According to immunologists, 99% of all diseases aren’t caused by germs. They’re caused by a starving, weak, malnourished immune system.
       Your body has an incredible, God-designed, super-elite army capable of destroying any germ that tries to attack it.
       This internal army consists of billions of cells in your body that can prevent and cure any disease in your body.
       But that’s the problem: We don’t eat the food that God designed for us to eat. So that army is starving.
       No wonder we get sick!
       If you look at the Bible, it gives you very practical recommendations on what you should eat. Let’s consult our Manufacturer and find out what He says about what we should eat.
       Let me discuss three prescriptions today.
1. Eat Plants
2. Eat Clean
3. Eat Other “Food”
1.Eat Plants
In Daniel 1:11-15, we read the fascinating story of how Daniel and his friends competed with the Babylonians in the “Who Will Be Healthier In 10 Days?” Contest…
“Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food….” So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days. At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.
Daniel and his friends ate “vegetables and water”.
The other young men ate “royal food” which consisted of meat and other food that was considered “unclean” by the Bible. After ten days, Daniel and his friends were healthier. The poor man’s diet won over the rich man’s diet.
The Bible says in Genesis 1:29, “I have given you every plant with seeds on the face of the earth and every tree that has fruit with seeds. This will be your food.”
       The Bible tells us that plants should be our main food. And today, modern science agrees!
       If you study our bodies, you’ll find more similarities with herbivores than carnivores.
       Go to the mirror now and check your teeth.
What do you notice?  They’re flat. (If they’re all sharp, I suggest you find a good Exorcist.) Just like the teeth of cows, goats, and sheep. 
Carnivores, like lions and tigers, have sharp teeth. 
       Second, herbivores have very long digestive tracks. Just like ours. Carnivores have short ones.
       Our anatomy is telling you that our major food should be plants. The reason why we get sick is because for many years (decades?) we’ve not been eating enough plants.
Objection 1:
“But Bo, I Take Vitamins!”
       Some people say, “I don’t like fruits and veggies. So I just take vitamins.”
       Thank God you’re taking vitamins.
But that isn’t enough. Sorry, vitamin pills won’t replace the actual fruit or veggie. 
       They’re called supplements because they add, not replace. 
Because fruits and vegetables aren’t just about the vitamins. The actual plant also gives enzymes, trace elements, fiber, alkalinity, etcetera!
Let me give you an analogy.
       If you’re my age, you probably watched Voltes V.
       For younger people who didn’t watch this Japanese cartoon, my deepest condolences. 
Voltes V consists five spaceships piloted by Steve, Mark, Big Bert, Little John, and Jamie. There was a love triangle between Steve, Mark, and beautiful Jamie and…uh, never mind. 
By themselves, the spaceships are okay. Each can shoot down enemy ships. 
       But somewhere in the middle of the cartoon, these five spaceships connect with each other and “volt-in”.  Attached together, they form a giant, powerful, kick-butt robot with a saber sword. 
Yep, the sum is always greater than its parts.
Swallowing a vitamin pill is like getting only one spaceship of Voltes V.   But when you eat the whole fruit or vegetable, you’re getting all 5 team members—and they volt-in!
They work together to build you up.
       Take the case of enzymes.
You Need Workers
       Vitamins and minerals are like the raw materials for building your body. Imagine all of the wood, steel, and cement necessary to build a home. 
But the enzymes are your laborers. Without laborers, the house won’t be built.
       And where do you get enzymes? Not from a pill.
       You get enzymes when you eat raw fruits and raw vegetables.
Alkaline Body
       No, I’m not talking about long-lasting batteries.
Here’s another thing complete fruits and vegetables gives you that pills can’t: When you eat plants, your body becomes alkaline.  And germs can’t live in an alkaline environment. Cancer cells can’t live in an alkaline environment. That’s why cancer patients and other sick people have highly acidic bodies. (By acidic, I’m not talking about stomach acidity. I’m talking of the entire body.)
       When you eat fruits and vegetables everyday, you make your body alkaline, thus making it stronger against disease.
       Here’s another objection…
Objection 2:
“But Bo, I Do Eat Fruits and Veggies!”
       That’s great!
Question: How much?
Some eat one fruit a day—a banana after a meal—and they pat themselves on the back and say, “I’m healthy.”
Some eat one tiny side dish of cooked veggies—perhaps buttered string beans and carrots—and they say, “I’m healthy.”
But doctors specializing in immunology will tell you that you need fifteen kinds of fruits and vegetables everyday to be healthy.
       Fifteen! Every single day.
       I’m not asking you to be vegetarians. 
But if you want to be healthy, make fruits and veggies your main food. Let everything else be side dishes.
Objection #3:
“But Bo, It’s So Simplistic…”
       Last month, while traveling in Shanghai, my 85-year old mother got sick. (Yep, at her age, she still travels!)
       When she came home, she got worse. She was coughing non-stop, felt very weak, couldn’t sleep, had pain in her ribcage.
       When my sisters brought her to the clinic, the doctor gave her top-of-the-line antibiotics. They were expensive and powerful. She took one tablet before she slept.
       The next morning, she felt terrific. “It’s a miracle,” she said, “I feel so good. The antibiotic worked.”
       That day, my health mentor visited us (I have a mentor for various areas of my life). He looked at my mother, and said, “Mommy, I want you to take a megadose of vitamin C.”
       My sister asked, “What brand?”
       My health mentor laughed. “When I say megadose of vitamin C, I don’t mean swallowing a pill. I’m talking about eating fruits and drinking fresh fruit juices.  Liquefy them. Drink juices many times everyday!”
       Here’s what happened. 
My mother didn’t listen to him. Nor did any of my sisters who were staying with her.
       Why? Because the antibiotic was working.
       Or so they thought.
The next day, the “miracle” wore off and she got worse. 
Her coughing got worse. Her pains got worse. Despite taking powerful antibiotics everyday.
       After one week, she was a wreck. 
Mom hates hospitals. But that morning, she felt so bad, she woke up and said, “Bring me to the hospital. I can’t take it anymore.”
       But that day, my health guru visited again. 
And he asked her, “Mommy, did you take your fresh fruit juices?”
       Mom shook her head.
       My sisters said, “Ooops, we forgot.”
       My health teacher scolded us, “What happened? Mommy, please take your juices, non-stop, everyday.”
Healing From Simple Fresh Fruits
       That day, we gave her fresh fruit juices.
Many times a day. We’d take the fruits, chucked them in a blender, and poured the juice into a glass. Simple.
That was her main food the next few days.
       And would you believe? 
In two to three days, she was cured!
Here’s our problem.
       We don’t like simple solutions.
       We like it when the solution is complicated. 
       It’s more believable.
Like costly pills.
A trip to the hospital.
An expensive medical test.
       But when we hear the words, “Eat fruits”, we think it’s old wives tale.
       But scientists are now telling us it’s NOT old wives tales.
Just last January, a group of food scientists proved that Mango—in an experiment made in a laboratory—fought the cells of breast and colon cancer.
For years, scientists have been saying that bananas are effective against hypertension, depression, digestive problem and a host of other diseases. And ripe bananas have cancer-fighting elements.
For years, pineapples have been known to have powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
       Ordinary fruits that we take for granted because they’re so available. But what do we do?
       We’d rather eat a candybar than a mango.
       We’d rather eat chichiria (chips) than a pineapple.
I’m not a scientist. Never was and never will be. But here’s my wild guess: I believe all fruits are powerful medicines for your body. If you follow the immunologists and eat 15 kinds of fruits and vegetables everyday, you’ll avoid many sickness.
Let me give you two very practical steps on how to apply this important food recommendation into your daily life.
Action 1:
Eat Local Fruits For Breakfast Everyday
I have a simple solution for you.
       Instead of a breakfast of hotdogs, pancakes, bacon, eggs, spam, and rice—why not eat fruits?
Here’s what I do.
       Every morning, I eat local fruits for breakfast.
       Pineapples. Watermelons. Melons. Star apple. Mangoes. Bananas. Guyabano. Papaya. Etcetera!
       I try to eat 5 fruits every morning. 
       When I do that, I bless my body everyday with the following:
o   I load up with natural vitamins and minerals.
o   I take in necessary living enzymes.
o   I cleanse my internal organs of toxins.
o   I give my body an alkaline environment.
Suggestion: To really get the maximum effect of the fruits, wait for an hour before you eat any other food or drink water.
Action 2:
Eat Raw Veggies For
Lunch And Dinner Everyday
       Most people eat veggies.
       But we eat too little of them. 
A few leaves. And we think we’re okay.
No, you’re not. Your immune system is starving for real food.
       Another thing? We cook our veggies to death. All the nutrients and enzymes are gone.
       Here’s my very strong recommendation: For lunch and dinner, eat a huge bowl of raw salads. Let that be your main meal.
       What veggies? Sing Bahay Kubo.
Organic, if you can find them. If not, wash thoroughly.
       For variation, you can also eat slightly cooked, slightly steamed, slightly blanched veggies.
       I’ve got some favorite dishes: I love a bowl of hot soup filled with slightly-cooked fresh veggies with a dollop of Korean fermented chili (spicy!) sauce. Yum!
       I’ve been eating this way for some time now and my body is thanking me for it. If you’re good to your body, your body will be good to you.    
I encourage you to study how to make delicious veggie dishes. Google it. Buy vegetarian recipe books. Make your family healthy and prevent disease! Ten years from now, you’ll be grateful you upgraded your diet.
Here’s my second prescription.
2.Eat Clean
If you read the Old Testament, you’ll find God calling some animals “clean” and others “unclean”.
Here’s one example in Leviticus 11:1-3: The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Say to the Israelites: ‘Of all the animals that live on land, these are the ones you may eat: You may eat any animal that has a split hoof completely divided and that chews the cud.
       According to the Bible, cows, sheep, and goats are clean.
       Pigs aren’t.
       Chickens and turkeys are clean.
       Rabbits aren’t.
       Tuna and salmon are clean.
       Crabs, shrimps, shells, and squid aren’t.
       On and on the list goes.
       In the New Testament, we no longer follow these food laws. Because as Christians, we don’t consider them spiritual laws anymore. We’re free to eat anything. 
Yes, you won’t go to the fires of hell if you eat lechon
Instead of taking them as spiritual laws, I suggest that we take them as health recommendations.
       Because this is what I find amazing: Science is now discovering that animals labeled as “unclean” by the Bible carry more diseases and more toxins than the “clean” variety.
For example, “clean” animals have 3 or 4 stomachs and with very long digestive tracks. But unclean animals have one stomach and a very short digestive track. 
A cow takes 24 hours to digest its food. 
Aside from the fact that a pig eats anything, it also takes only 4 hours to digest its food—absorbing much of the toxins that it eats into its meat.
Vacuum Cleaner Of The Sea
I find this next passage rather fishy.
In Leviticus 11:9-10, it says, Of all the creatures living in the water of the seas and the streams, you may eat any that have fins and scales.  But all creatures in the seas or streams that do not have fins and scales—whether among all the swarming things or among all the other living creatures in the water—you are to detest.
What are sea creatures without scales or fins? 
Crabs, lobsters, shrimps, squid, and all shells.
Today, we know that they’re the scavengers of the sea.
They’re garbage collectors.
They’re vacuum cleaners.
They’re bottom-feeders, eating fish droppings and dead creatures.
Because of this, they purify the water. 
Good for the water. But bad for them. And bad for those who eat them.
High concentrations of germs and toxins are in their meat.
       In fact, if scientists want to know the toxicity level of a lake or lagoon, he’ll get a shrimp in that water and measure the toxins in its meat.
       And what’s so important about scales anyway? 
       Today, science has discovered that scales are important because that’s what fishes use to release the toxins from its body.  
       My recommendation?
       Avoid pork.
       Avoid crabs, lobsters, shrimp, squid, and all shells.
       At the very least, minimize eating them. 
       Because if you eat them regularly, you’ll have a more difficult time preventing disease in the future.
       Let me now go to my last prescription…

Prescription #3:
Eat Other “Food”
       Food isn’t our only food.
       Your body requires other kinds of nourishment.
       Let me mention four of them today very quickly.
1. Oxygen
God formed Man out of dirt from the ground
and blew into his nostrils the breath of life
–Genesis 2:7
Your cells are starving of fresh oxygen. 
Germs can’t live in a highly oxygenated environment. 
Take deep breaths everyday. De-stress yourself at different times of the day.
This naturally happens when you follow the next “food”…
Physical exercise has some value…
–1 Timothy 1:8
Find an exercise that you enjoy. 
Personally, I love walking. 
It’s the simplest exercise. 
When you walk, you go outdoors, you get sunlight, you oxygenate your body, you get an emotional lift, you lessen your stress, and you cleanse your lymphatic system.
And speaking of sunlight…
The light is pleasant,
and it is good for the eyes to see the sun.
–Ecclesiastes 11:7
Many people are sick because they lack Vitamin D. 
Because Vitamin D prevents osteoporosis, prostate cancer, breast cancer, depression, diabetes, and obesity. (No one is marketing sunlight because we can’t bottle sunlight and earn from it.) Mothers who expose their babies to the sunlight know what they’re doing. But what’s the difference between the baby and an adult? Get 30 minutes of sunlight everyday.
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain…;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.
Psalm 127:1-2
Many people don’t sleep enough. 
If you want to be healthy, listen to your body. Your body will tell you how many hours of sleep it needs. For example, I’ve noticed that vegetarians need lesser hours of sleep—because digestion takes a huge amount of energy. But most people will require 8 hours of sleep to be fully totally restored.
       But at the end of the day, I believe that real sleep doesn’t come from sleeping pills or an expensive bed.
       I believe real sleep comes from God.
       Do you trust in the Lord for all your worries?
       When you trust Him deeply, you can sleep!
— 0 —
       By the way, didn’t you notice that the four elements above—oxygen, movement, sunlight, and sleep—are free? Health isn’t expensive.
Cleanse Your Soul,
Cleanse Your Body
       Let me end with two true-to-life stories.
       I know of a woman who was almost a vegetarian for ten years. But recently, she had cancer.
       People around her were aghast. How could someone whose diet was so healthy have cancer?
       The answer came from those who knew her predicament: Last year, she discovered her husband was having an affair. It was such a painful experience for her. Her heart was filled with rage and bitterness.
       In my ministry, I’ve talked to so many people with cancer. I’m no longer surprised when I find out that it coincided with a highly stressful, very painful event in their lives.
       Why am I sharing this to you?
       To remind you again that we’re not just biological creatures. We’re spiritual and emotional beings too. And eating the right food is crucial for our health, but that’s just one part of the equation.
       Let me now share with you my other story.
       My friend had breast cancer 7 years ago.
       Prior to this, she too discovered her husband had an adulterous relationship. The family was torn apart. Bitter rage filled her heart.
       But she knew the deadly poison of resentment. And so daily, she let go of her anger. She surrendered her husband to God.
       And in prayer, she was led not to go through any chemotherapy or radiation. Instead, she became a pure 100% vegetarian. Her goal was to remove all emotional and physical toxins in her body.
       She was successful.
       Because today, my friend is totally free from cancer.
       I pray that the same miracle will happen to your life.
       Go ahead.
       Cleanse your soul.
       Cleanse your body.
       May your dreams come true,
       Bo Sanchez

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Should I be Hopeful?

Believe it or not, I longed to work with the tax bureau.  As a student, I was curious to know the tricks and the trade inside; but I was discouraged by a friend whose mother was holding a position in the bureau (and he ended up working there).  It's an open secret, graft and corruption is rampant... unfortunately, it has become a norm rather than an exception.  Examiners are corrupt and they are spoiled by equally corrupt taxpayers, don't you think?  There were attempts to revamp the bureau; but I guess it's a hard habit to break.

Some ten years ago, I remember a press release from the bureau that they have hired a new breed of young, competent, intellectual Certified Public Accountants.  I was tempted to apply.  I've talked to an examiner my age recently who claimed to be one of the new breed but I guess, they are corrupted just the same and even worse.  They can be rude sometimes, you just need to put your foot down and convey a message that you know better than them (at the same time, don't forget to kiss ass).  Sometimes, I get so tempted to set them up and bust them but I'm not brave enough to make a scene.

In any negotiation, over used lines go like these:
  • "may cut pa kasi sa taas"  taas could mean, as high up as the President of the republic.
  • "we're having a revamp, let's settle this so it will be removed from my inventory."
  • "in our division, we don't accept anything below a million."
  • "how much are you willing to pay?"
  • "20% lang may recibo, so it can't be less than x amount"
With this new administration, I'm hopeful, I would not hear the first line anymore. Even if we keep our books clean, they never fail to always ask for something.  It could be something for themselves or for the government. I always go for the latter even if it could mean more and the next examiner does not believe that not a single cent went into their pocket.  It is a sad reality, every taxpayer needs to prepare a budget for this. 

I once talked to a deputy commissioner about a haphazardly prepared assessment, the only assurance he could give me was to tell that examiner "times have changed", has it?


Recently, the bureau has issued RMO 62-2010 prescribing the supplemental guidelines on the electronic issuance of Letters of Authority (LA) and related audit policies and procedures; a first attempt to monitor examinations.  If you have not received an electronic LA for taxable year 2009 onwards, you have the right not to entertain revenue officers.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

US VISA Application for Filipinos

Getting a US Visa is probably every Filipino's nightmare. For one, it's expensive, second, chances of getting approved is not that high. Although since recession has hit America, most people I know got 10 years visa, my friend's nanny was even granted 5 years! But mind you, upon entering US soil, immigration official remain stern. IMHO, US immigration officials (considering they are not American themselves) are probably the most unwelcoming beings on earth.  (Amsterdam have the most charming and not to mention good looking immigration officials.) They would say they have tightened security since the 9/11 incident, but ten years ago, they were already like that.

I've always have a US visa since I was a kid. I'm lucky that I was granted multiple entry through drop box.  But that is no longer allowed.  The last one was granted ten years ago and it recently expired.  I am now preparing necessary documents for my first US visa interview ever and it's a long shot.

Non-immigrant Visa Application entails the following process:
  • Online Visa Application Form is mandatory effective May 24, 2010. 
  • Attach a 2"x2" digital photo on the DS-160.  You can find the Photo guidelines here and test your photo here.
  • After completing your DS-160 online, you may set an appointment through the call center or online through visapoint.
  • $10 is charged to my credit card for opting for registering with visapoint.  Only one registration is required for a family of five living in the same address.  Groups of 5 or more traveling for the same purpose can also use the Standard Group option.
  • With visapoint,  you can readily see the available dates and time of appointment.  Appointment can be changed upto three times.
  • After completing the registration, appointment, and applicant information print the Machine Readable Visa Application; the barcode must be readable.
  • Pay applicable visa fees through Banco de Oro and Citibank together with a copy of:
  1. the Machine Readable Visa Application
  2. DS-160 Confirmation Page
  3. Appointment Confirmation Receipt
    Effective June 4, 2010, the fees are as follows:

    $140 – B1/B2, C1/D, F, J, and all other NIV categories not listed below (Visitor/Transit/Student)
    $150 - H, L, O, P, Q, and R (Temporary Worker)
    $350 – K (Fiancée)
    $390 - E (Investor/Trader)
  • The bank will issue two copies of bill payment slip.
  • Attach the blue copy (embassy copy) to the DS-160 and submit it during the interview.
  • Be at the embassy an hour before the scheduled interview.
  • Present the following documents for USA visa interview:
  1. DS-160 with blue copy of bill payment slip
  2. Machine Readable Confirmation Page
  3. Appointment Confirmation Page
  4. Passport with 6 months validity from intended date of departure
  5. NSO Birth Certificate and Marriage Certificate
  6. Additional documentary requirements may be necessary for different visa type.
  7. For tourism, applicant must show evidence of financial status and ties in the Philippines.
With the number of applicants a day, the interviewing consular does not necessarily go through the documents you submit; the data on the DS-160 will definitely be crucial.  Basic questions will be asked and gut feel will probably grant or deny you your visa.

I'm flying to Manila a few weeks from now for my scheduled interview, wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dive Moalboal, Cebu : Sardines and Thresher Sharks Overload

It has been three years since my first and last dive in Moalboal.  It wasn't such a pleasant experience, we didn't see much at that time and it turned out to be 3 of my dive buddies' last dive.

A few weeks ago, it was the talk of the town. There have been consistent sightings of thresher sharks, whale shark and overwhelming school of sardines. Since then there was a renewed interest to visit the place by many including me.

One Saturday, I skipped work, woke up before five in the morning and drove down south west to Moalboal, Cebu fleeting at an average of 80 to 90 kmph.  Thank God for automatic cars, it was my  longest drive ever.  I drove on the first hour through south super highway upto the rotunda of Carcar, stopping for breakfast in Jollibee; they are open as early as six.  My friend took the wheel the next half of the trip.  Turning right on rotunda of Carcar, going up in the long winding road of Barili, crossing the paved road of Ronda and Alcantara (turn left on Ronda Plaza then right when the road splits), and finally reaching Moalboal after two hours.  Make a right after Moalboal Elementary School passing a long small road towards Panagsama Beach, it's about 5 to 10 minute drive from the main road.  There's a big road sign that leads to it, but we missed the turn.  The locals are generally helpful to give directions, so feel free to stop and ask like we did.

We arrived around 730 am, as scheduled but disappointed to know we were not off to sea not until an hour later...  you know how precious sleep is.  We met the rest of the group at Eve's Kiosk Dive Resort who went ahead the day before; they won't settle anything less than a three-day dive.  Eve's probably have the most spacious parking slot in the area which can accommodate about 6 vehicles.  We found a spot in Eve's exactly infront of Nelson's Dive Shop.  First thing we had to do was order lunch at Eve's. In the province, it takes a while to prepare food.  It is always best to order a meal ahead.  Food was just mediocre. 

Dive profile:
  • Dive 55. 830am. 77ft 46mins. As usual, I had equalization problems, took me some ten minutes before successfully descending beyond  10 feet sans a dive master eyeing on me.  There were only two DMs, with two newbies and four other dives.  All i could see are the bubbles coming from my dive buddies under me.  Although it made me feel safe knowing they are just there.  After a while, I went off ledge as my sinus were starting to clear; just in time when two thresher sharks appeared before us.  OMG, it was my first time to see them, and seeing two at the same time was heaven sent.  Later into the dive, we met another group giving hand signals, they just saw a whale shark... yes, they did and we missed it by a few minutes.
  • Dive 56. 10am. 68ft 52mins.  Second dive, I missed the thresher shark while the rest saw a glimpse of it.  I was too preoccupied gazing how swiftly the university of sardines are going.
  • Dive 57 130pm. 88ft 51mins.  After lunch, we went back to sea and the thresher sharks were just feasting on the sardines.  It was a sight to behold.  There were probably more than ten sightings on that dive.  The thresher sharks appearing one at a time whipping the water to stun their prey -  the sardines.  Apparently, they are having lunch!  I was stunned for a second when one was coming my way; we were just a few fin away by the walls of Pescador Island.  My dive buddies who were diving for so many years, have never had that action-packed-close encounter with Thresher Sharks in their whole diving career.  It was totally out of this world.
  • Dive 58 330pm 93 ft 44mins.  We can't get enough of it, can we?  Pescador Island again hoping for more action and whale shark sightings this time... but I guess we were asking too much.  Three good dives is enough show, the shark said. ;)
At noon, we met the rest of the group that arrived from the city, our diver friend from Aquadive Inc.  just organized a 5 day dive with 44 divers in total; arriving and leaving on different days.  There's nothing like diving with them, everything is taken cared of.

Finishing off the dive past five in the evening, my friend and I decided to sleep over in Panagsama, Moalboal.  It is quite risky to be driving in the dark on that long winding road back to the city.  Good thing we prepared for that possibility.  Basic room for two with AC and private bath at Eve's costs P1,000.

Upon checking-in, we hurried up to our room, got ready for dinner and totally forgot about the sunset.  The shores of Moalboal has one of the best sunset view in the island.  We went ahead to Marina Restaurant, a few meters away;  it is owned by La Tegola, a famous Italian chain in Cebu.  We were too hungry that we ordered ahead while everyone else was not in yet.  We ordered exactly the same menu we had a few days back in their affiliate Idea Italia but it didn't taste as good.  We hurried back to our hotel room before nine for our scheduled massage.  It was a good thai massage for P400/hour.  Next thing we knew, the sun has risen.

We woke up too early after sleeping too early.  Took our time for breakfast while our dive buddies went for another dive day.  I drove back up to the city for more than two hours, fighting off sleepy eyes, constantly chatting with my friend since there is no radio signal three-fourths of the way.

Monday, July 12, 2010

More Reasons to Tour Around the World Before Hitting 40

I have a family who loves to travel but the fact is, they are starting to age and it's such a hassle to be traveling with them. I would definitely not enjoy a trip pushing their wheelchairs while hearing endless nagging, following their baby steps when they refuse to sit on one, food restrictions due to health problems, arguing that baggage allowance and so many other new travel restrictions are in placed, or even getting accused of illegal acts in a foreign land.  On the other hand, I would also not enjoy a trip being in their shoes: senior and traveling.

Making Ends Meet

For the past weeks, I've been preoccupied reorganizing my staff, streamlining other departments,  reviewing policies and procedures in preparation for a bigger project next year.  It seems like, I'm earning one wrinkle a day.

One of the many problems I encounter is to manage other people's financial problem.   How do you actually help your people trying to make ends meet?  When they do not know what savings is all about.  All they know is borrow money now and tomorrow will be another day.  Oftentimes, I became the evil one disapproving their application for loan or cash advance;  it can be heartbreaking sometimes but I have to do what I think is right.  I recently signed a memo outlining new policies for loan application to make sure their net take home pay will be enough to sustain them until the next payroll period.  Some will understand but many will say, "I have no other choice."  Today,  I am faced with:
  • a call and a message from an employee asking for favor not to deposit his loan to his ATM because it is mortgaged to a lending firm; 
  • a worker personally appearing before me asking for reconsideration to renew his loan to payoff tuition fees;
  • another renewing his unpaid loan to send some money to his family in the province;
  • one trying to renegotiate the amortization of his loan after owing from four other different institutions
  • another renewing his barely half paid SSS loan for tuition fee when after all his existing loan, his net take home could not even feed him for a day.
Because of this, I'm compelling myself to read more about the benefits of mandatory government contribution like SSS, HDMF and Philhealth.  To make sure they get what they deserve and I won't be in hot water if I disapprove one.  I'm posting what I've learned on my blog .

If only I could rub off a lamp and ask genie to grant them all the cash they need.  Lord, help them!  Unfortunately, trying to make ends meet, has become a way of life.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Stalking the Stalker

As I browsed through my news feed on facebook, I didn't find any interesting post, not until I came across a comment over a friend's post with a familiar name.  I read it twice and it occurred to me that  it's the name of the person who stalked me sixteen years ago and several years thereafter.

Sixteen years ago, when mobile phone was not yet in the mainstream, I received a call at home from a stranger.  He introduced himself and explained he found me through our highschool yearbook.  If my memory served me right, he went to a different school and was several years my senior.  The conversation lasted for a few minutes basically fishing information how he got hold of our yearbook and who else he had been calling.  A few days or weeks later, I got a call again and managed to cut it really short.  Years later, he managed to find my contact number in my work place reintroducing himself as my old phone pal, that gave me goose bumps! At some point he knew I was out of town and got hold of my mobile phone.  Years later, he called me again in my most recent employer's office.  I could not help but lie and pretend that I don't remember him.  The circumstances were freaking me out.

If we have bumped into each other in the past, I had no idea how he looked like but I'm sure he'd recognize me.  Although I'm not a hundred percent sure that it's him, the name isn't that common.    I doubt if I could recognize him in public, his profile picture looked... uh rather generic (sorry for the use of such term), but at least I could be cautious because now I know the face behind the name.


Tuesday nights, is badminton night.  I was exceptionally hyper.  Since the next day is a mid-week holiday, the group bonded with a midnight snack at Tinder Box.  There I saw an old flame with a group of friends and his wife in the cigar room behind the glass window right in front of me.  I last saw him six years ago,  other than being curious how he looks like now (he gained weight!), I was eager to know how I'd react.  The possibility of me fainting due to sudden drop of blood pressure used to come to mind.  But I'm relieved to know that moment didn't bother me a bit.

Thank God.  Everything comes into place at the right time, at the right place.  :)

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