Friday, December 11, 2015

DAVAO EXPERIENCE OF A PROUD #DUTERTARD


Way back 2008 when one of my friends informed me that she'll visit Davao and other cities in Mindanao, I immediately reprimanded her that the place is full of terrorists and rebels. I told her that she might encounter accidents if she travel to Davao. I always thought that Davao, being a part of Mindanao is rebel infested and bombings is just a normal occurrence in the city.

This probably is what millions of people living in Luzon and Visayas think. 

Due to a career move, I "forced" myself to move to Davao last 2009. Again with all those silly thoughts about Davao being a dangerous place playing in my mind when I disembark the plane. However, after a few minutes, my perception about Davao changed drastically. 

Davao has one of the most honest cab drivers in the country. I took a cab from the airport to my dormitory accommodation and the driver used the shortest route (checked this out after a couple of weeks in Davao) and gave me my change up to the last centavos. The cab drivers are polite and accommodating and would even return bags, phones and other stuff that people leave in their cabs. I am not saying that all of the drivers are honest, most of them though, follow the law. 

Davao is a clean city. When I arrive in Davao, I was amazed how the city looks really clean. Water can be drink right out of the faucet, the air is clean, we have effective waste management. We rarely see people throw their trash on the streets. They are disciplined not to just throw their garbage everywhere. 

Davao is smoke free... and nobody is exempted. As a non-smoker, this place is heaven for me. I do not like the smell of cigarette smoke. I feel that my lungs tighten if I inhale cigarette smoke, and in this city, you will only see smokers in designated areas. In my experience, living in other cities in the country, you see people smoking inside the jeepneys, on the streets and almost everywhere. Here in Davao you will be arrested and fined if you smoke in everywhere aside from the designated areas. 

This list can go on and on, but the most important thing that I Love about Davao is its security. I have lived and visited other parts of the country and in those cities, it is normal to hear housemates and workmates talking about robbery, hold-up, mugging, snatching happening almost everywhere. I even get to see and experience a few pickpocket-ting, but here in Davao, one can use their gadgets inside the jeepney without being scared of these items getting snatched. The police responds really fast and thanks to the CCTV cameras scattered around the city, emergency and disaster response is really on time. And oh, did I already mention that we have a working 911 HOTLINE here?

#MyDuterteStory is not really about my experience with the Mayor. I have only met him twice and I was really starstruck. He is very accommodating and charismatic. However, I see Davao City as an extension of the honorable mayor. He is after all the father of this place. All the experiences that I have reflects the leadership quality of Mayor Digong. He is a man of action and not just talk. He always puts the welfare of his constituents as first priority. He makes sure that help is received on time, all the time. That's why his constituents love him very much. 


Although I am not born here, being here for six years made me love this city even more. I see myself stay and grow old in Davao. Same goes with other co-workers who have expressed their desire to live in this city. Davao City, truly, Life is Here.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

EXPLORE: Super Surigao

For the past six years of staying here in Mindanao, traveling to Surigao has always been a dream and a steady item in my bucket list. Last November, I had the opportunity to explore this part of Mindanao and boy, it was one of the most amazing experience ever. 

You can go to Surigao by public transport if you have the time and the patience to travel by bus. There are a  lot of buses that travel from Davao to that area, though this could take you around 6 hours. However, there are also some tours that are offered for 2.5 to 3K per person. This include trips to Tinyu-an Falls, Enchanted River in Hinatuan and Britania Islands.

I was lucky to be able to travel with office mates that time, Instead of getting the tour, we opted to rent a van and stay with our employee who is from Bislig. The trip costs us around PHP 3,500.00 per day excluding the gasoline which actually made the trip more expensive, however, gas is cheaper in San Fran, one of the municipalities of Surigao and that's where we got the van full.

Now, going back to the story of the trip. We left Davao City around 8-9AM. We traveled all the way to Tagum and Compostella and it took us he entire afternoon to reach Bislig. Though this is probably because we often took wrong turns and end up a few kilometers away from our correct destination. 

After a meal in Tagum, we were shown the beautiful landscapes of Compostella From the colorful farmlands to the lush mountains, the trip offered a visual treat to my tired eyes. We also passed by a few silent towns (most of them memorable to Kendra, one of our employees who frequent these places), some mansions along the roads, a few beasts of burden that are still on their shifts. The most unforgettable part of the trip is the literal "long and winding road"  and as the concrete roads zigzagged, I also have my own fight with nausea. 

After a few stops and a few times asking for directions, we finally hit our first destination- Tinuy-an Falls. Dubbed as the Philippines own "Niagara Falls", Tinuy-an is a magnificent waterfalls.Though we havent really appreciate its beauty, since we arrived after dusk, the waterfalls is really beautiful even in the dark. It is located inside a resort where they collect an entrance fee (PHP 50.00). There are also some cottages that are for rent around the area. But the most wonderful thing is probably riding a raft for PHP 150.00 and let the guides take you near the falls. You can really feel the strength of the pressure as the water massages your back. The waterfalls has this almost mystical charm that attracted my senses (probably this is other than the elementals that frequent the area, but this is another story).

After we went to Tinuy-an, we stopped in this small inasal restaurant near the public market. The food there was really affordable and delicious and you get to pick the meat that you want to eat. After dinner, we went to Michael's house for the night.

Day 2:
It was early morning when the group decided to go to the market and buy food for the 2nd day. We went to Michael's farm and get to meet his dad who works there. They have a lot of coconuts which Mike's brother, Arjay graciously climbed to get. The farm also has a crab pond where they grow these delicious crabs. The farm was kinda far from the main road, that's why after so many years of not being able to walk barefooted on mud, I removed my slippers and I just walked. It was scary (because mainly of the thought of having leeches, snakes, etc.), but the trip was worth it, muddy feet or not. 

We left Mike's house and went straight to Hinatuan where we get to see the Enchanted River. This area is also very mystical. We arrived in the area and I quickly looked around. The Enchanted River is a very mysterious place because a.) They still have not reached the bottom of this river. b.) How the fishes would react to the sound of the bell during fish feeding (too bad that I haven't seen this). I was really very hesitant to just jump on the water, like most of them, I secured a live vest since I felt that I am being sucked in by the hole.  After almost two hours of wading through the iver, we headed out to the last destination on the list, Britannia Islands.

.Britannia is a group of islands which are accessible via pump boats. You need to rent these boats to sail and dock to these islands (PHP 1000-1500). Since we have arrived late, we only visited two of these islands. The night was fast approaching and I know that it has become more difficult to navigate the waters around this place. After we toured the white sand beaches of Britannia, it was time to head home.

We went back to Bislig and stayed in Mike's house for a few hours to rest. We left Bislig City around 12 MN and we arrived in Davao around 4AM, That was a fun trip that you would really enjoy with friends. Will I try to do it again? Of course I will. As long as it is with friends, then I am ready to travel and explore the country.

Dont be a stranger to your own country. Travel and Explore.


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Bane of the Modern Pagan

The Pagan Path is an evolving Path. It has endured and evolved all these years and became what we have in these modern times. However, with the evolution of the practice, the spiritual aspect of the Craft has been overshadowed by the interest of magick for everyday use. As I am not entirely against the use of your skills to craft spells for your everyday needs, I am a bit concerned about people leaving out the spiritual parts of their practice.

Let me enumerate some of my observations regarding the practice of the modern Pagan. I call these the bane of the modern Pagans.

1    1.  The Lack of Spirituality- As I have mentioned earlier, the Craft has became more practical and less spiritual. A lot of so-called Wiccans and Pagans right now are more into spells and rituals than they are with their devotion to the Divine. Whenever you ask some of them why they want to become Pagans, the usual answer I get is because they want to do spells for their crushes or do prosperity spells. Not a lot of them would say that they want to be close to the Goddess or to the God.
2.   
2.  2. The Flair for Instants- As information became very accessible on the internet, some of the Wiccans/Pagans I know forgot some good old by the book research. Majority of us are just into the pre-made spells and rituals that we forget that crafting and wording the spell is already part of the spell. As spells on the internet become readily available, some of us fail to realize the importance of putting our intentions to the spells.
3.       
     3. The “Chopseuy”- now dont get me wrong, Eclectism is a valid and accepted Path however, there are some who claim that they are eclectic as an excuse for putting things they believe are useful, without even studying the entire Path or Tradition. Eclectism should be a blend of practices that creates a cohesive Path where an eclectic practitioner should be able to piece together parts of structured or identified traditions. However, the Eclectics that I see right now are people who would put together stuff without even knowing the entire thing. No spirituality, no belief in the Gods just plain and simple practical spells.
4.    
       4. The Devotion- Focusing specifically on devotion, some of our Pagan friends do not even bother to celebrate their Goddesses or God’s feast. They only call the Gods when they need them in rites. When the Gods did not give their petitions, they would drop them like hot pies, jump to “worship” a different God. This cycle can go on and on until such time that their prayers are heard. One they ask for another thing and its not given to them again, the cycle starts again. How can the Gods answer a prayer from a person they do not even know?
5.    
     5. The Inner Mysteries- with the lacking devotion, some of our Pagan friends are practicing the Craft superficially, unable to connect with the Divine. Some of us are guided by the Voices of the Gods, especially if we have created a very strong connection with Them, through devotions and prayers. Some of us though, especially those who failed to maintain a strong relationship with the Gods, are unable to connect with them and cannot and will not hear the voice of the Divine.

As a Wiccan or a Pagan, we need to be very spiritual as this is the foundation of our Practice-may it be Stregheria, Seidr, Greek, etc. The Path is always affected by our connection with the Divine. We need to be close to the Gods we serve and devote ourselves to them. By being connected to the Gods, we eventually hear their voices and in return They could guide us better. Try to start a devotion with the God/Goddess you serve by getting to know them better. Learn Their stories, myths, Sacred Days, feasts, color, etc. Try to light a candle, burn Their favorite incenses, provide the right offerings on Their Sacred days and you’ll be surprised to have visions and hear Their voices.

Modernity does not make the Gods unreachable. It is the witch’s heart that stray away from the Gods. It’s time to reconnect with the Divine.


Photo from the Internet

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Six is the New Sexy: A Samsung Galaxy S6 User Review

the NEXT generation in mobile phones IS here NOW!






This is the first time that I will be doing a Samsung review, having received a Samsung Galaxy S6 Duos from Sun Cellular (Plan 999 with PHP 800 Amortization), this is my personal experience with the device. All the stuff I wrote here is based on my experience and usage of this device for more than a month now. 

Samsung has been a trusted device in the market having created innovations in design and usability. The old analog Samsung models were known to be difficult to use, however, when the advent of the touch screen phones and the arrival of the Android platform, Samsung became a leading innovator when it comes to Android touch phones. Now, let's review their latest flagship phone. 

With this S6 review, I will only look at five very basic things that consumers and techies would be looking for in a phone. 

DESIGN:

Samsung Galaxy S6, the sixth phone in the series is by far the classiest looking among the bunch. Gone are the days of plastic body/rubber body as you wont find any in this sexy looking device. Samsung Galaxy S6 is made of glass and metal all over. Covered by Corning Gorilla Glass 4 on both sides, these ensure that your precious phone can handle scratches and marks. Though I would still suggest getting a Spigen Slim Armor (or Wolnutt) to fully protect it. With a very compact body, the S6 is feels good in your hands (You can still use one hand to text and navigate the phone). The new Samsung Galaxy S6 comes in four different colors- Black Sapphire, Gold Platinum, Blue Topaz and the one I have, White Pearl. 

PERFORMANCE: 

The Samsung Galaxy S6 is by far the most powerful phone in the market today. Sporting a 64-bit Octacore processor using Samsung's own Exynos chipset, I noticed that my S6 can do multi-tasking effortlessly and the responsiveness of the device is simply amazing. The Samsung Galaxy S6 also comes out of the box with Android L and based on some articles that I read, would also get an update to Android M once it is out. With 3gb of RAM, this phone can handle heavy games and apps. 

DISPLAY: 

For people who love to watch videos, pictures and play games, Samsung Galaxy S6 is the best phone there is. Although not the biggest screen in the market, Samsung Galaxy S6 has a 5.1 inch display with 576 pixel per inch (PPI) display. Colors are very vivid when you watch it on the Super AMOLED display found on the phone. One of the things that I also like is the Screen Mode where you get to choose between Adaptive display, AMOLED cinema, AMOLED photo and the basic. All of these modes change and show different saturation, sharpness and colour range.

CAMERA: 

In this age of "Selfies" the Samsung Galaxy S6 sports one of the best camera in a smartphone. Armed with a 16mp camera, the pictures taken with this device is one of the best I have seen so far. I tried taking a picture with my DSLR in low light (without flash) and was amazed that the shots I got with my S6 was way better than the digital camera. I also had fun taking macro shots using this phone. One of the most noticeable feature of this phone is it's very fast access to the camera, all it takes is double tapping the home button and the camera opens in less than a second. 

OTHER FEATURES: 

Well to end our user review I just want to highlight some features that I find amazing on the Samsung Galaxy S6.

1. The Fingerprint Scanner- this feature adds extra security to your phone. All you need to do is set your lock screen to "Fingerprint" and nobody can open the phone unless you put your finger on the scanner (No need to swipe down).

2. Private Mode- This is a very helpful feature especially if you do not want people seeing your embarrassing pictures and dorky videos. This Samsung Galaxy S6 feature hides those photos and videos from prying eyes. All you need to do is long press the album (or specific pictures), click more and then move them to private. Nobody can open this private stash until you put your password, or in my case , my fingerprint.

3. Theme Store- for people who likes to personalize their phone, Samsung Galaxy S6 offers a variety of themes that you can choose from. There are cute, girly, nature, black, flowers, cartoons and my favorite, the Avengers.

4.  Samsung Galaxy Life- this feature I think is already present in all the new Samsung phones. This gives you exclusive privileges (and BIG DISCOUNTS) to online shopping (example-Zalora), services, restaurants, hotel accommodations and many more. If you are the type of person who loves to travel, shop and dine, then this feature is perfect for you. 

5. S Health- finally, this feature is very useful to people who are very particular with their health. The S Health feature of Samsung Galaxy S6 uses the infrared sensor at the back of the device to measure your heart rate, oxygen levels, stress levels (very important), number of steps, etc. You can even customize them to monitor your diet, caffeine and water intake. 



Overall, Samsung Galaxy S6 is a powerhouse of a device putting together style and design, features, display and camera, and functionality. It is one of the most sought after devices that can really topple over flagship phones from other brands. Though there are some known challenges with the Galaxy S6 (like battery life, storage capacity, etc.), Samsung gave us fixes that address these problems (fast charging, Cloud access, 64 and 128GB variety). With these amazing specs that was thrown in on the new Galaxy S6, I could definitely say that the Samsung Galaxy S6 is more than just SIX APPEAL.



SAMPLE PICTURES: 








Photos resized to fit screen, for original photo comparison, please visit my Facebook Photopage: www.facebook.com/ambientshadows

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Regular User Review of the Microsoft Lumia 435

Finally after a few months of NOT using a Windows phone (my last was a yellow Nokia Lumia 520), I finally got another one. I was checking some budget friendly phones considering to buy our local brands, I finally decided to get one from one of the pioneers of using the Windows OS on their phones- Nokia. 

I visited the Nokia store in one of the malls near my office. I was thinking of getting the budget phone Lumia 435. I was amazed though that the brand etched on the unit they showed me was not Nokia but Microsoft. The day before, I was scanning the internet for affordable Windows phone There were a lot of options on the web from different manufacturers and finally I made up my mind to get the Microsoft Lumia 435 after seeing a couple of unboxing and reviews.

I went to the shop and immediately checked the phone. I was given 4 choices (white, orange, green and black) and I chose white to match my white LGG2. I was amazed how the phone fits my hand and how sturdy it feels. The phone is made of plastic, however, it didnt really feel cheap. 

I checked the phone out and here are some things I liked.

1. The Price- Lumia 435 is a budget phone coming from Microsoft. It costs PHP 4,290.00 here in the Philippines ($279.25). For a Windows phone and an imported brand, this is a very affordable phone. 

2. A Fully Functional Windows Phone- I bought this phone to be the partner of my ACER Aspire Switch 10 which is also running on Windows 8.1. Since this is a fully functional Windows phone, I could easily sync all my schedules from my notebook's calendar to the phone. It also has the app that I like on my notebook which is the Health and Fitness. This app has all that you need fitness wise- it has articles on diet, food and conditions, a weight tracker and a my favorite- the symptom checker. Another good news is, it is mentioned by Microsoft that this baby is also getting the Windows 10 update. 

3. Storage- As a photographer, I sometimes cram alot of pictures in memory cards and show them to friends. Lumia 435 has expandable storage aside from the 8 GB internal capacity that comes with the device. It can support not just 32 or 64GB of storage but a whooping 128 GB. This is a perfect phone for storing all your memories and showing them to friends. 

4. Performance- Windows phones are always snappy. I noticed this when I used Lumia 520 before. Though my Lumia 435 only has a 1.2 GHZ Dual core processor, it doesn't have any noticeable lags that other dual core devices have. 

5. Cortana- And the last thing I like about this Microsoft Lumia 435 is Cortana, Windows' own personal assistant. I have used Cortana with my Lumia 520 before and I could say that she is one helpful assistant. You could easily ask her questions, directions, recipes and even ask her to tell jokes and sing for you (though she would always sing "Danny Boy"). I use Cortana to set my alarms, schedule my meetings, remind me of appointments and even send text messages. By far, this is the most interactive and responsive AI Assistant ever. 

Runner-up: 2 SIM Card Slots- This feature is a close runner up. With the dual sim capability, this lets me bring 2 phones instead of y usual three (1 data plan, 1 normal call and text plan and 1 business line). Since the phone has dual sim, I get to use both my personal line and my business number together. 

There you have it guys, my observation of the new Microsoft Lumia 435. Though I have only used it for a day, I really liked it. Stay tuned for updates regarding the new budget phone from Microsoft.