Sunday, August 22, 2010

Revisiting Childhood Moments at Timeless Attractions In Manila

“Mommy, we really had a great time! Can we visit there again? PLEASE…” Those were the words of my kids when they arrived home after strolling at the Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden with their cousins accompanied by their uncle and grandmother. They just can’t contain the fun they had there that it was such a never-ending story of how they spent their day.

Kids…just when you thought you have given them everything that will make them happy, they just can’t seem to have enough of those happiness that if given the chance, they wanted to do it all over again. I was also like that when I was a kid, I remember. (^O^)

“Okay.” That was all I could say to make them satisfied, and so I need to fulfill that promise. Incidentally, my husband was also planning to take the children to the park for a jogging, so I told him about the kids’ wish for another trip to the zoo for which he gladly agreed. The Manila Zoo is approximately four kilometers to the famed Rizal Park, also known as “Luneta”, one of the timeless attractions in the City of Manila. This is a great place for kids’ learning tour, a bit of nostalgia and lots of jogging activity. Perfect! The children will get to have their wish granted and the kid in me will also get to visit a place that I enjoyed before there was megamall and ocean park.

We arrived at Rizal Park close to seven o’clock in the morning with lots of people already having their jogging and exercise activity, still as busy but not too crowded as before. I made a brief visit by the sea wall of Manila Bay just to see how much it has changed. I saw that this part of Rizal Park nearby the Quirino Grandstand already gave way to commercialism. The long stretch of the sea wall has now been reduced to maybe less than twenty meters. I was surprised that many people including children still swim there despite all the garbage around and even if it was declared by local health authorities that it is unsafe to swim in Manila Bay. I hope that people who swim there will be made aware that swimming is great for the health only if without the garbage. After the jogging, we had breakfast at a nearby fast food restaurant then head straight to Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden.

The entrance fee is only PHP 40 for adults and PHP 20 for children. A very small price to pay for all the animals that the children will see inside the zoo.

There is also the playground inside where children can have fun swinging and sliding to their hearts' content.

Boating fun for everyone! The boat rent is PHP60 for 30 minutes, maximum of up to five people can be accommodated with two paddles provided for each boat. A good way to flex those muscles.

Kinder Zoo for the kids, a paid picture taking session with the animals, and there is wall climbing too.

Horse back riding for PHP60 for only one round.

The message says: (1) Always keep the zoo clean. Throw your garbage in the garbage bins. (2) Respect the habitat of the animals. Do not throw your garbage inside their cages. I hope that visitors will take the message seriously.

Take a moment to see the reptile house inside the tunnel.

More animals...

botanical garden in this part of the busy Manila...

There are more to see inside the zoo considering that it was only for PHP40.00 entrance fee. I bet the ticket price is not even enough for one tiger's meal. Sometimes I wonder, do these animals better off in captivity than in the wilderness? I think there is not much option for them. Let us just start to be more caring for them.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Straight Road or the Sea of Garbage

It is rainy season here once again, just the other day, the less than fifteen minutes downpour already caused flooding in affected parts of the metropolis. Flooding for such a short span of rainfall only means one thing, clogged drainage. Too bad it is getting worse year after year despite government efforts in improving the waterways and sewerage. And too bad we are experiencing an abnormal weather pattern that PAGASA already warned us of La NiƱa, an above normal rainfall, I hate to imagine if the rainfall would be longer than fifteen minutes. Just before election, I had this urge to bring to the attention of our mayor the worsening state of cleanliness in the metro. I got the idea from WWF on a good way to help in WWF’s environmental campaign where they encourage people to write to local politicians to demand that they do more to protect the environment. So that's what I did, here is the abridged version of my email message:

I wrote to you out of concern for the environment and in the hope that the alarming condition of our filthy streets will be given appropriate attention and action. I recognize the fact and I am thankful that you are doing best efforts to make our city at par with the rest of the world’s cities but sadly it seems that it doesn’t even come close to other places when we talk of street cleanliness. Yes there are garbage collectors and dump trucks roving around and I see street sweepers each morning who are supposed to do the job of keeping every nook as clean as possible. Yes it has improved over the years when it comes to garbage collection system but despite of all these efforts, I am saddened by the fact that rubbish still lingers anywhere even in major thoroughfare which is too far from the impression we somehow wish to project.

In this condition sir, may I suggest some poi
nts that I hope will upgrade the city’s rating on cleanliness.

Firstly, there should be garbage bins strategically located in each street for people to get used to throwing their trash in proper places. I admire the City of Davao for having such discipline and for investing in large trash bins located in almost every street corner.

Secondly, heads of each community must be strict in the implementation of cleanliness program and fine or penalize households that are not following RA 9003. Isn’t it strange that despite the dissemination of information in the local government units regarding this law, most people are still not following proper waste disposal, I doubt if they were even aware of this law?

Thirdly, mobilize the youth (“Sangguniang Kabataan) to undertake community service such as street cleaning, planting or watering plants during weekends. Such a good way to instill awareness and active involvement among the youth on the importance of keeping our surroundings clean and orderly and on starting a sensible cause on the issue of climate change rather than tolerate them spending most of their time surfing the internet which in one way or another also contribute to heat and carbon emission.

Fourthly, we can follow other cities like in Puerto Princesa, Palawan where people has this commitment of planting trees and different kinds of flora in a given period of time (especially for couples who are about to get married). Their place has been tagged as the “city within a forest or forest within a city” because of that commitment. Although it would seem a herculean task, I know you can make a difference by passing an ordinance for idle lots to be converted to urban gardens. That at least could help curb the air pollution in the city and eventually help to lessen the greenhouse effect. I was informed that some lot owners (I am referring to lots which are not being used or idle) prefer to have bare lots rather than plant a tree on it because anything planted are considered improvement which are all subject to additional tax. Is it possible to change the rule that instead of imposing tax on every tree planted on the lot, discounts should be given to lot owners on their real property taxes? That way, lot owners would be encouraged to use their lots for a very sensible purpose. If idle lot cannot be used as a living space for humans, at least make it as a living space for plants.

Lastly, the rules are already there, what is needed is the strict implementation of those rules. Authorities, residents and visitors alike MUST be informed of the strict and serious implementation of these rules and violators must be penalized. I think it is more effective if penalty should NOT be in the form of money but through community service because if we allow a mistake to be paid then the same cycle will just go on, offenders will only have the thought that they can get away with anything for as long as they have money unlike when they render community service, they will surely learn from their mistakes. I have high regard for Singapore for their strict implementation of laws on cleanliness and orderliness thus even Filipinos are very much disciplined there which gives me a ray of hope that it can also be done here.

I hope that these points will be given due cons
ideration. I trust that in the next few days, we will all be able to see the changing face of the city.

Surprisingly it reaped positive action from our local government just days after I sent the email. I was more than thankful that they really made an effort to diligently clean up the city every morning however I noticed that their action was rendered unsuccessful as the city easily gets back to its filthy state just before sundown. An apparent reason all points to the lack of discipline on proper waste disposal of the residents within the area. It is so disappointing that there are people who totally disregard the law and lack the concern for their surrounding, and they seem to have multiplied over the years. If you happen to read my related post "from peanut shells to junk food wrapper" about one parent who couldn't care enough to teach her child to dispose of his garbage properly, it will be more likely that no matter how great the efforts of the government to improve the drainage system or how frequently they collect the garbage, the problem will still remain. It will be hard for us to get off from this mess unless we start to discipline ourselves and to teach younger children to be more conscious of every piece of litter that we get rid of.

I remember a campaign song of one presidential candidate in the 2010 election “nakaligo ka na ba sa dagat ng basura?” (Have you bathed in a sea of garbage?) though it was not meant to directly inform the public about the perennial problem on careless dumping of waste, still it rings a bell. Maybe most residents in Metro Manila, rich and poor alike already experienced swimming through filthy waters late last year during typhoon Ketsana (“Ondoy”). Just in case we have already forgotten, here are some snapshots from that tragedy (all Ondoy-related pictures re-posted with permission from

It is about time that we put heartily what President Benigno Aquino said, that we all must head to the straight path, that we all should aim to become part of the solution and not of the problem. Are you in for this call?

We all must be responsive and responsible and we better act now while we still have a choice. The straight road or the sea of garbage, what scene do you prefer?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Exercising a New Spending Scheme With An SM Advantage Card

I was totally amazed at a good deal that I got so I think it is just worth sharing with everyone. I am writing about this not as a sort of “confessions of a shopaholic” but just to tell you on how I put frugality to the next level. A frugal shopaholic…. I guess so. \(^o^)/

Okay, here is the deal… I first got hold of an SM advantage card years ago when I got it for one hundred pesos during the initial offering. An SM advantage card is a privilege card for loyal SM shoppers wherein one can get freebies and discounts. You can also get points for shopping at their stores and use those points to pay for the items that you like. At first I thought that it was just some promotional offer thus I just tossed it inside my cardholder at home. Whenever I shop at SM, the cashier would always ask if I have an SM advantage card for even the small priced items for which I would only say that I left it at home. By the time I realized that I was wasting a good chance at redeeming those points that I should have accumulated over the years, my card was already expired. Since I frequently buy at SM for almost anything I need for myself, for my family and everything else and SM is the most convenient and accessible place to shop for working mothers like me as I can still catch up for some last minute grocery shopping after office hours, or when my kids need something urgent for school that they have to bring the following day thus I decided to renew my card for another one hundred bucks and award myself later on with some "loyalty" purchase.

Just recently, as I wanted to get containers for my plants (like what I wrote in my Trash to Cash and Some TLC for the Garden post), I decided to get these lovely ceramic vases at a discounted price. I asked the cashier if I have enough points to pay for the vases and I was lucky that I already accumulated enough to pay for those items with my SM advantage points. It could be a small and cheap item but you cannot get it for free elsewhere. As a blogger friend puts it, “every peso counts” thus I needed to make the most of my spending. In fact, I already redeemed enough items to cover the two hundred pesos that I spent for the membership fee. From prodigal to frugal, it is just worth making that change, a frugal shopaholic…maybe not, I am just one loyal shopper. Now see those plants in my "loyalty" vases, one of my simple pleasures in life.

Maybe you also have a privilege or loyalty card that is just lying around inside your drawer, make them work to your advantage. =)