I discovered that last weekend when my mother and I went to Hong Kong. My mother has had trouble walking for many years now, and it’s progressively gotten worse. It’s one reason why she generally refuses to do anything that requires a lot of walking. But she’s been expressing interest in traveling abroad more these days, and thus, I decided that a trip to Hong Kong would be a good test run.
It started out easily enough, with the two of us walking at a relaxed pace in the airport. Once we met up with the rest of the group in Hong Kong, however, I realized that we made a mistake signing up to join a tour group, among many other lessons that I need to keep in mind the next time we plan a trip. Here are just some of them.
1. Do your own tour. A tour group includes far too many people, and chances are high that you and your parent will lag behind the rest of them, and the rest of your tour group are not likely to pay attention to everyone else and notice when you have not caught up or have been left behind. You also can’t ask everyone else to stop while your parent catches his/her breath. Moreover, tour groups generally travel in tour buses, which are hellish to climb into if you’re old and have serious knee problems.
Instead, you should look into private tours that can welcome only two people. We enlisted the services of Frank Law in the afternoon of our first day. We were picked up at our hotel and went to Lantau Island by private car, and he was kind enough to let us go at a slow pace during the tour.
On our last day, we opted out of the city tour and went to various locations on our own. It allowed us to go as slowly as we needed to and also to see other sights that the usual city tour wouldn’t have shown us.
2. Expect a lot of rest stops. Walking will not be easy even if your parent is walking with the assistance of a cane. Just enjoy the breaks and take it as an opportunity to take a better look at the place.
3. Be organized. Not only will you need to help your parent walk, but you should also be prepared to handle tasks such as filling out forms and even ordering food. Make sure any documents you need are kept in a single pouch and keep them close.
4. Don’t hesitate to ask for wheelchair assistance. Approach any person who works at, say, the airport or ferry terminal for help. Wheelchairs will be available, and a member of the personnel will even push the wheelchair for you and get you through any lines quickly. Insist on wheelchairs when you need them. We were told at the check-in counter in Hong Kong that we only had to walk a short distance to the gate and that we won’t be able to get to the gate until a half-hour before boarding if we waited for a wheelchair. It was a good thing we put our foot down because the walk was by no means short. You know your parent’s physical ability better, so you are the one equipped to make the best decision.
5. Consider bringing a wheelchair. Yes, you can do this! Make sure to check your airline’s regulations on bringing a wheelchair. They have certain size restrictions, and some airlines would allow you to bring the wheelchair in the cabin if you’re able to reserve a spot in time. If you can’t bring it with you in the cabin, you will have to check it in.
6. Make sure you have important supplies, like medications and bandages for any sudden cuts and injuries.
So yeah. I discovered that traveling with an elderly parent is pretty tough, and I’m rather ashamed to admit that I was on edge and stressed out at certain points. I hope to do better next time, but at least I now know what needs to be done and what we should bring on trips.
Photo from @ABSCBNNews
ABS-CBN reports that Golden Heritage Polytechnic College in Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental, Philippines, is banning relationships among students to prevent teenage pregnancy. Based on their mission, I suppose they’re okay with homosexual relationships then given that they will not result in teenage pregnancies? But I seriously doubt it.
I find this ban is hilarious and ridiculous and wrong in so many ways.
1. It assumes that couples are doing nothing but have sex, and not just sex, but also unprotected sex.
2. It suggests that having sex is wrong.
3. It smacks of the idea that pregnancy will destroy a young woman’s life and she will no longer have a chance to grow and improve her life.
4. While this may have been done in the spirit of ensuring that young women have a future, it’s very sexist to say that relationships and pregnancy will have a negative effect on only the young woman’s life. This clearly shows society’s habit of giving men a free pass and that any pregnancy that such men may have caused is to be borne only by the woman.
4. It’s intrusive of the school to ban relationships. Banning people from having relationships stunts their emotional growth and renders them incapable of knowing exactly what they want in a person, learning what kind of relationships they really want, and learning what a bad and a good relationship is.
5. It suggests that they really have control over people’s personal lives. Are they assigning people to look in on every single person and report on whether any illicit relationships are going on?
Young people can be idiotic and impetuous (hey, who wasn’t idiotic and impetuous when they were young?), but policing their personal lives is not the way to guide them. And expelling them for flouting this idiotic ban will certainly be much worse for their future, which this school is supposedly so keen on protecting.
Last Friday, we decided to go birding in a different place and drove out to Balanga Wetland and Nature Park in Balanga, Bataan. The park has been the site of the Philippine Bird Festival; the tenth one was held on December 9-11, 2015. The trip took us almost three hours because of the heavy traffic at the Mindanao Avenue toll plaza and random slowdowns throughout the journey, plus Waze made us go down another, more crowded and narrower road instead of Roman Expressway. Roman might have gotten us to the park more than a half hour earlier than we did, so we’ll be sure to take that road next time.
The path heading to the park cuts through various neighborhoods, and the street gets narrower as you get closer to the place. When we arrived, we saw a modest beach area with a few huts and some structures where you can hang out and view the birds.
There were quite a number of birds, mostly terns, egrets, and other shorebirds. You just have to know where and how to spot them, and of course, you need binoculars and spotting scopes to really see them better. The viewing decks were located rather a bit too far from the shore, ideal for observing the birds from a distance, but not the best if you want to take good pictures.
The entire place itself is fairly modest. Don’t expect any food and souvenir shops, or maybe we just got there a little late. Birders in particular will enjoy viewing all the shorebirds. Head over there with food, folding chairs, a book, music, and take a walk along the beach, and you could have yourself a good day.
Earlier this week, I briefly attended the book launch for Raissa Robles‘s book Marcos Martial Law: Never Again held at Balay Kalinaw in UP Diliman. Noel Cabangon performed “Bayan Ko” before the main discussion with the panel, which featured Robles, Roberto “Obet” Verzola, Senator Rene Saguisag, Pete Lacaba, Bonifacio Ilagan, and Dean Ronald Mendoza of the Ateneo School of Government, began.
The attendees, to my dismay, were mostly older people, with a smattering of younger ones, which to me only highlights the idea that younger people are becoming less and less interested and aware of what happened during the Martial Law years and why it all remains relevant today. Alan Robles moderated the discussion, and one of his first questions was about why people seem to have forgotten all about the atrocities during Martial Law and how it’s possible that Bongbong Marcos has a very strong chance to become vice president. I think the panelists got it right when they said that no one was ever really held accountable for all the wrongdoings during Martial Law. Nobody was arrested, nobody was tried and jailed, and the Marcoses were allowed back in the country a mere handful of years after they were kicked out of power.
Aside from justice not being served, I believe another key factor is that Martial Law was never really discussed in depth in schools. I don’t remember any detailed information being taught about those years, only that Marcos was in power for a very long time. In fact, I only learned the truth about Martial Law when I was in college through a very excellent documentary entitled Batas Militar. I can’t say for sure whether history isn’t taught properly to children because people don’t think children will understand or that such details are too much (too disturbing) to handle. And then there’s the perpetual refrain that learning history isn’t necessary and the all-too-common attitude of brushing unpleasant things under the rug and pretending they never happened. As a result, you have people who never learn from their mistakes.
Yet another factor is what is now called “EDSA fatigue,” which is being used to describe how people feel about People Power nowadays. What was once a celebrated event is now either widely mocked or ignored. It may be related to the fact that People Power and EDSA are always associated with the Aquinos and not with the Filipino people anymore. Nobody is saying that Ninoy Aquino didn’t play his part or that Corazon Aquino was an inspiring figure at the time. But recognition of their roles has reached the point of reverence that it’s difficult for some people to view People Power and the Aquinos as separate entities. Therefore, anyone who’s unhappy with the Aquinos, be it Noynoy or Kris, tends to become annoyed with the family and, by extension, People Power. The discussion has become nothing more than red versus yellow, Marcos versus Aquino, Martial Law versus People Power.
And because many people don’t know what happened during Martial Law, even those who lived through it and saw nothing more than carefully planned order and progress that masked the grimy truth, you now have a nation that is fondly looking back on that time. Now you have people who are confusing truth for propaganda and who don’t realize that their criticisms against the government would have gotten them imprisoned and/or tortured during the Martial Law era they praise and long for today.
Fire hit the UP Diliman Faculty Center on the morning of April 1, reaching Task Force Alpha or just one level above the fifth alarm. The fire was eventually put out and no one was physically injured, thankfully. But it left behind structural damage and the loss of countless resources, research, artifacts, mementoes, and other valuable items.
The Faculty Center was something of a refuge for me back in college, in that I spent a lot of time there just writing and reading between classes. I sat in the hallway on the second floor for an agonizing period of time waiting to find out if I was accepted into the History program. I enjoyed informative consultations with my professors. I’m not mourning the memories; they’re not going anywhere. I feel much worse about the loss of all the materials and resources. The good thing is that people are pitching in to gather as many materials as they could and rebuild what they can. I have no resources to contribute myself, given that any relevant materials I have were also torched by a fire in 2008, but I’ll nevertheless find a way to contribute (books for DECL, office equipment and cash donations to CSSP come to mind), and I hope everyone else will, too.
I’ve been trying to enroll to the eFPS of the BIR and I keep getting this message: “The TIN and/or Branch Code you entered does not exist in the eFPS Registration database.” So I e-mailed them asking for help, and this is part of their response:
Stated hereunder are the requisites for availment of the eFPS system:
• Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) should be registered in our BIR Integrated Tax System (ITS) (please be informed that the BIR- ITS is a system internal to the Bureau of Internal Revenue and access thereto is only allowed to BIR personnel)
• Certification authorizing any of the two (2) officers designated to file the return under Section 52 (A) of the Tax Code (President or other principal officer, and Treasurer or Assistant Treasurer of the Corporation) who shall enroll for the system usage;
• Enrollment to eFPS;
• Enrollment to eFPS Authorized Agent Bank (AAB);
Um. How can I avail the eFPS if I can’t enroll to the eFPS to begin with? This is just completely useless information. What’s more, I’m also not the only person who encounters this particular difficulty. I can’t figure out why the BIR claims to want to make filing taxes easy and yet it’s making registering to the system so hard.
Let me start by saying that I’m neither an AlDub nor an Eat Bulaga fan. I first heard of “Yaya Dub” when I was considering applying for a website management job, which entails updating a news site every day, and didn’t think much of what or who Yaya Dub was. During a work meeting, one of my coworkers said that she was a proud member of AlDub Nation. After a while, I heard that Alden Richards was a part of it, and I thought, “Cool.” I had admired Alden Richards for a couple of years and I’d been wondering when his popularity was going to explode on a much bigger scale.
Apparently, his time has come, and this year is his year, along with Maine Mendoza, who initially rose to fame via her Dubsmash videos and then as Yaya Dub on Eat Bulaga’s Juan for All, All for Juan segment. I’m not going to try to retell the story of how the AlDub phenomenon began and how it has progressed since then. Their Wikipedia page can give all details you’ll ever need.
There have been some harsh comments about people’s obsession with AlDub. In sum, some people say that this nation is careening towards disaster because people are shallow and obsessed with a fictional love story on a noontime show. Some bring up how our national heroes died for the country at a young age 1 and yet young people today are heavily into things that critics perceive as worthless and silly rather than think about serious issues. Some would call this a reflection of Filipino society and how we like to escape into fantasy and deny the bad things that are happening around us.
This kind of thinking is snooty and narrow, and it reduces AlDub fans to nothing but a squealing mass of giddiness. People are capable of liking and being interested in multiple things. AlDub fans come from all walks of life. Being AlDub fans does not mean that those people are stupid. More likely than not, they are also painfully aware of what is wrong with the Philippines and are doing their own part in helping society, but they are nevertheless still able to enjoy something fairly harmless 2. Nobody wants to be judged based only on the things they enjoy 3, and nobody should be judging people based on what they like. If you don’t approve of something that other people like, there’s no need to get in their faces, condemn them, and say that they’re causing this country’s downfall. There are bigger fish that are responsible for whatever mess this country is in, and the critics who think they’re smarter than AlDub fans should know that.
I’ll be renewing my passport later this month, so I was reading an old post I wrote about the passport renewal process here. It’s amusing to see that there were “technical difficulties that cause a delay in the processing of passport applications” back then, which I heard remains true today, five years later. Why technical problems still exist today, I’ll never know.
And by again, I mean this is another post about birding in La Mesa Ecopark, not that it’s our second time there. I don’t know how many times we’ve gone there to bird, but it’s definitely way way way more than two times. We’ve met quite a few birders already, like a group that came from Singapore, another one from Bulacan, and another one from Manila. It only just occurred to me that La Mesa Ecopark is quite a long trip if you’re coming from Manila.
I’m going to try to start writing in this blog again, and I figured posting bird photos is a good way to get the ball rolling. These are just some of the birds we’ve seen in the park, and hopefully one of these days, we can see a guaiabero.