Hello, Environment!

Let us not stop bringing children closer to the environment.

Traveling with Kids

These are their first little steps toward exploring the world, and you are privileged to take those steps with them.

A Yummy Database!

I accumulated so many recipes that I have created this simple recipe database to store them in.

Hydroponic Systems: Grow a Garden Without Soil

Environment-friendly and space-saving way to grow your own food.

Why Prayer is the Best Stress Reliever

To banish stress, try prayers.

My Fitness Adventure - the Beginning

Thus began my journey to bring good health into my life.

The IT Men and Women

People who work in the IT industry are in a class of their own.

Does God Really Listen and Answer Prayers?

If we are not sure that He will listen, does this mean we should quit praying?

Where is the Followers Gadget in Blogger?

If you'd still like to use the old Followers gadget in Blogger, here's how.

Pesto Love

You can wing it with pesto and never go wrong with the taste.

Nov 12, 2013

Disasters in the Philippines - Anatomy of a Nation's Heartbreak

The world often sees Filipinos as a resilient people.   Always smiling despite adversities.  Resourceful.  Just take this comment from the CNN website as an example:

"Time to get to know the Filipino people... unbelievably resilient, long-suffering, good-natured, uber-friendly, loyal, ingenious, and a bunch of survivors.  At the end of the day, the Filipinos will just shake off the dirt from their clothes and go about their business... and SMILE.  They do not complain much, they will bear as long as they can.  Maybe this is why they were given the "privilege" of bearing the burden of the strongest typhoon every recorded.  The indomitable human spirit at its best."

It's high honor to be known as this, and to even make it to the surveys as some of the happiest people in the planet.  But the terrible devastation wrought by Typhoon Yolanda is testing the Filipino spirit, and how!

A tattered Philippine flag in Samar.  (Photo credit: Reuters)

First, those had been uneasy and dread-filled days prior to the supertyphoon's arrival. Last week, weather monitoring reports were all about the approaching menace.  As it advanced slowly and resolutely day in and day out, Filipinos began praying and bracing themselves, being veterans of countless typhoons in the past and therefore no stranger to what this advancing cyclone could do. 

The track of the typhoon. (Photo credit: ABS-CBN News)

Second, the anxiety intensified as with certainty the typhoon finally made landfall (several landfalls, as reports said).  It flung buildings and people these way and that, and eventually made homeless (and lifeless) many Filipinos. The safe-and-snug ones kept watch with growing horror and concern through TV and social media.

A family heading for shelter from the typhoon. (Photo credit: Reuters)

Third, disbelief as reports about the devastated areas came pouring in.  The apocalyptic scenery -- flattened homes and normally sturdy buildings and debris everywhere -- was a surrealism that we only see in Hollywood movies.  Many suspected that the strength of the typhoon could potentially lead to disastrous results.  Some feared, yet many still hoped, but yet all of them weren't prepared for the actual reality.

A fishing boat amidst the debris.  (Photo credit: Reuters)

Fourth, the onslaught of grief as the body count increased, the number of missing people leap-frogged, and the faces (oh, the faces!) of fellow Filipinos in varying states of fear, daze, sadness, hopelessness, anger, and suffering were constantly in the news.  Monitoring the social networks, many Filipinos cried, cringed, and were as grief-stricken as those affected.

Survivors walking dazedly amidst the rubble.  (Photo credit: AP)

Fifth, the sense of urgency and desperation to have rescue and humanitarian aid come through as soon as possible.  People rushed to collect and send aid, but frustrations were increasing as aid arrived agonizingly slow.  Not enough, and not soon enough.  Each day, more people were dying out there.  Many victims were being victimized several times over, slowly dying from starvation and cold.  They have began to lose their humanity by stooping to looting and scavenging for food and water, to survive.

A survivor carrying relief goods in Leyte. (Photo credit: AP)

No one in the country is unaffected.  Many carry the burden in differing ways, but it is there, inside each Filipino heart.  The collective anguish is palpable across the Internet.  The Filipino spirit is at its lowest low, the normally cheerful people are now inconsolable.  The religious Filipinos have turned ever more inwards to seek God's guidance and deliverance.  It is NOT business as usual.  Everyone seems going through the motion of normal living, but eyes and ears are glued to the TV and to the Internet, hearts aching for the victims.

What is the lesson learned from the Typhoon Yolanda disaster?  Just this, that it breaks the hearts of many Filipinos in so many ways:

Heartbreak 1:  The country is often unprepared for disasters of this magnitude.  It breaks our heart but we know that our disaster prevention and mitigation systems and infrastructures are not what we can call state-of-the-art.

Heartbreak 2.  During calamities, it is each man to himself, or each family to themselves. When disaster strikes, the people in the grassroots had better be deeply rooted or those in areas affected better have a prayer.  Because that's all we are equipped with when these calamities are in progress.

Heartbreak 3.  At the aftermath, rescue and relief efforts are helter-skelter and comes a tad on the late side. 

Heartbreak 4.  Humanitarian aid always comes in droves, but always arrive in trickles.  The bottleneck is greed, or personal gain.

Heartbreak 5.  The absolute knowledge that barely will we have risen, and we will do this all over again (typhoon- and earthquake-prone that we are).

How will this story end?  Oh yes, there will be recovery.  Filipinos accept that situations always go from bad to worse before going back to normal, or close to normal, again.  In a few month's time, maybe as early as weeks, houses will be built along the streets of Tacloban again.  It will once again teem with people.  The people will have more scars in their already scarred hearts, but they will be SMILING once again. 

Nov 10, 2013

Google People Finder for Typhoon Yolanda

Google has put technology into good use with its offering of the Google Person Finder.  The Google People Finder for Typhoon Yolanda portal is now in operation and ready to accept requests for missing persons as well as information on found ones.

In the wake of the devastating Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), many areas in the Visayas region in central Philippines were badly hit.   Communication and power lines went down, with airports, roads and major infrastructure damaged.  This makes it harder for rescue operations and humanitarian relief efforts to reach the affected communities.

What is even worse is that with the lack of access to the affected locations, there is also a blackout of any valid and concrete news about the status and whereabouts of citizens living in these areas.  What little news that trickles in  involves the increasing count of dead bodies found.  Such news further elevate the anxiety of fellow Filipinos and especially of relatives living in other areas in the Philippines and other parts of the world.

With Google Person Finder for Typhoon Yolanda, everyone who has online access can now post and search about the status updates of relatives, friends or acquaintances who may be affected by the calamity.  When not in the database, the web program will add the name of the missing person to the database.

Last November 9, the total records in the database related to Typhoon Yolanda was at 200, but as of this writing, the total number of persons tracked is at 4,700 and increasing.

The Google Person Finder is an initiative of the Google Crisis Response division of Google.org

Click on this link to access Google People Finder for Typhoon Yolanda.

This service is also available via SMS.  You can request for the status of the person by texting: Search person-name to 2662999 (for Globe subscribers) and +16508003977.

Nov 9, 2013

How to be Part of Relief Efforts for Typhoon Yolanda Victims

The aftermath of the greatest typhoon in history (Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan), as seen in pictures, videos and reports coming in from social media and the news, are truly saddening.  Many areas in central Philippines, mostly the island-provinces in the Visayas region, suffer from damages to lives and infrastructure.

But in tragedy comes solidarity.  Filipinos are known for resiliency and the "bayanihan" spirit.  Grief need not be a hindrance to giving.  That is why barely had Typhoon Yolanda left the country, and rescue and relief operations are already underway from all sectors of the society -- government, non-government, humanitarian and private organizations.

Volunteers packing relief goods at the DSWD headquarters for distribution
to Typhoon Yolanda victims. (Photo credit: Reuters)

By monitoring social media like Twitter and Facebook, and the web in general, here are some of the relief organizations who have already mounted relief operations for Typhoon Yolanda victims.

You can do your share by donating funds, clothes, food, and your time to these organizations.

If you know more organizations with relief operations for Typhoon Yolanda victims, please inform us so we can add them to the list.

A word of caution to good-hearted donors:  It is a reality that there are, sadly, many fly-by-night scamming entities that will stop at nothing to exploit calamities such as these for their personal gain.  Please be careful in sending your donations by knowing the organization well .  Donate only to organizations that you are absolutely sure will send your money and resources to the victims, and not have your aid end up in their own pockets.

List of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) Relief Organizations



Gawad Kalinga


Philippine Red Cross


Citizens' Disaster Response Center (CDRC)


ABS-CBN Foundation Sagip-Kapamilya


GMA Kapuso Foundation


Salvation Army


Save the Children Federation

More ways to help:

Globe mobile phone users can donate the following amounts (5, 25, 50, 100, 300, 500, 1000) via the Philippine RED CROSS by texting: RED <amount> to 2899

Smart mobile phone users can donate the following amounts (10, 25, 50, 100, 300, 500 or 1000)  via the Philippine RED CROSS by texting: RED <amount> to 4143

The Philippine Daily Inquirer is now accepting cash donations which may be deposited to the Inquirer Help Fund at their following bank accounts:
  • Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) current account No. 4951-0067-56, under the name Philippine Daily Inquirer Inc.
  • Metrobank current account No. 7286-8109-30, also under the name of Philippine Daily Inquirer Inc.

Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican-based international network of Catholic aid agencies, is accepting donations on its website for Typhoon Yolanda victims as part of relief operations.

Catholic Relief Services, also a Caritas network member in the United States, has activated relief operations for the typhoon victims.  Click on the donate button on their website.

Caritas Philippines is open for donations from Filipinos based in the Philippines.

You can also go directly to or contact DSWD if you want to volunteer in repacking family packs for typhoon victims.  Repacking of goods is at DSWD-NROC, Chapel Road (at the back of Air Transportation Office) Pasay City. You can call 8512681 for schedule of repacking.

What Can We Do on a Do-Nothing Day?

In these days when multitasking is the norm, how will we survive a do-nothing day?

Well, think about it.  All that juggling of two or more tasks at the same time -- all the time! -- is meant to achieve our goals faster right?  I know, I know, in reality it is very rare that even while running ourselves to the ground multitasking on our jobs and our lives in general, we ever get to feel like we have accomplished a definitive goal.  Life just seems an endless progression of tasks that have to be completed, and the completion of which leads to more tasks that we need to complete, and so on till kingdom come.

But there comes that rare time, indeed, when we manage to finish our tasks and goals and end up with nothing to do one fine day.  No work, no school, nothing.  Can we survive it?  Some say modern men are no longer capable of doing nothing, that it has become part of our psyche that we ought to move and do something.

Photo credit: Well and Good NYC

Is it true that we can no longer tolerate time standing still on us, or having too much of it in our hands?  How about trying these do-nothing activities and find out?

1.  Disconnect from the world

Let's turn off our cell phones (all of them), give Facebook a break, take a breather on Twitter, or leave Instagram alone.  Imagine the amount of "something" (time, energy, brain cells) we've been putting just to communicate with our friends online.  If we put up a "gone fishing" sign on our online activities, we'd have more time to "do-nothing", I think.

Photo credit:  The Beauty Bean

2.  Linger on everything

We're so used to doing everything in hyper-speed the minute the alarm goes off that for once, on our do-nothing day, let's slow down.  Let's wake up gracefully, enjoying the comfort of our beds, allowing the sounds of life to awaken us slowly from sleep.

We can eat slow, bathe leisurely, brush our teeth unhurriedly.  Savor every minute, every movement and every activity we do.  Rushing should not be allowed on our do-nothing day.

Photo credit: Hip and Healthy

3.  Relax

When we are on our peak multitasking mode, all parts of our body and our senses are often in their "battle stations".  They all have to come together in a snap, for a common purpose.  They are just tools to accomplish our tasks.  Well, on our do-nothing day, our body and senses should be allowed to have some R&R.  This is the time to spread the mat and watch the clouds roll by.  Feel the breeze on our face.  Allow our hands to touch something nicer for a change, our eyes to drink in something restful for once, our ears to listen to something gentler.  Let's give our hearts some moment to be calm and at peace.  The mind should cease to think, if possible.  Even cars need to be idling from time to time, right?  How much more the human body.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

4.  Explore

Let's face it, multitasking has "regimental" for its middle name.  We make our lives as predictable and compartmentalized as we can, according to some predetermined plan.  Bills here, groceries there, pick up the children at the end of school, go to church on Sunday, and so on, to the beat of our predictable drums.  There are hardly any unknowns left, perhaps maybe the weather.  On our do-nothing day, why not test the boundaries of our comfort zone and see what's on the outer rims?  It's as simple as say, every day we see that flower near the mail box when we leave for work.  Today, why don't we purposely investigate the flower box, inhale the scent, examine the petals like it's the first time we actually saw a flower?

Photo credit: cubscoutcamporee

5.  Dream

Or daydream.  For either is perfect on a do-nothing day.  Our brain will love us for it.  Every day it does nothing but solve problems -- from budget decisions, to office diplomacy, to dealing with family issues.   Let's allow our brain to rest by falling into reverie and musings.  Let our spirit soar as freely as our imagination. 

Photo credit: Google image

If our life is Robert Frost's poem, The Road Not Taken, we have already chosen which road to take and had stuck to it.  It is a road well-known to us, and we adhere strictly to all details of it.  But on our do-nothing day, why not wander away from this road for a while.  Deviate a bit from routine?  Try to discover what else is there? 

That way, a do-nothing day can actually become a be-something-more day for us.

Nov 8, 2013

Why is the Philippines so Prone to Typhoons?

As Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) devastates the Visayan islands in central Philippines, creating a path of absolute destruction along the way, one can't help but wonder:  why is the Philippines prone to typhoons?

It is all about location, location, location.  The very same geographic location that provides tourist-friendly tropical weather all year round (sunny at the half of the year from December to May and rainy at the other half between June to November), makes the country prone to typhoons.

The Philippines has the Pacific Ocean for its neighbor.  The Pacific Ocean is a wide expanse of typhoon generator.  When the ocean's surface temperature is warm enough, and atmospheric conditions over the ocean are unstable enough, tropical cyclones or typhoons are likely to develop.  Add several more factors to the mix:  increased humidity, gravitational forces, and wind movement, the result is a force to reckon with.  A whirling, rotating, howling force hell-bent on destruction.

The Philippines receives the full brunt of typhoon formation every year, although other countries nearby such as Japan and China get their share as well.  Nearly thirty percent (30%) of the annual rainfall in the northern areas of the Philippines comes from these Pacific-birthed typhoons alone.

This visible image of Super Typhoon Haiyan approaching
the Philippines was taken from the MODIS instrument
aboard NASA's Aqua satellite on Nov. 7, 2013 at
04:25 UTC/Nov. 6 at 11:25 p.m. EDT.
Image Credit: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) is the country's official weather bureau.  It is in-charge of monitoring storm, typhoons and other weather disturbances in the country.  PAGASA releases tropical cyclone warnings in the form of Public Storm Warning Signals. The following are the storm warning signals:

  • PSWS #1 - Tropical cyclone winds of 30 km/h (19 mph) to 60 km/h (37 mph) are expected within the next 36 hours.
  • PSWS #2 - Tropical cyclone winds of 60 km/h (37 mph) to 100 km/h (62 mph) are expected within the next 24 hours.
  • PSWS #3 - Tropical cyclone winds of 100 km/h (62 mph) to 185 km/h (115 mph) are expected within the next 18 hours.
  • PSWS #4 - Tropical cyclone winds of greater than 185 km/h (115 mph) are expected within 12 hours.

Below is a list of the most destructive typhoons in Philippine history:

Most Destructive Philippine Typhoons in History
Rank Names Dates of impact PHP USD
1 Bopha, (Pablo) December 2 -9, 2012 42.2 billion 1.04 billion
2 Parma, (Pepeng) October 2–10, 2009 27.3 billion 608 million
3 Nesat, (Pedring) September 26–28, 2011 15 billion 333 million
4 Fengshen, (Frank) June 20 -23, 2008 13.5 billion 301 million
5 Ketsana, (Ondoy) September 25 -27, 2009 11 billion 244 million
6 Mike, (Ruping) November 10 - 14, 1990 10.8 billion 241 million
7 Angela, (Rosing) October 30 - November 4, 1995 10.8 billion 241 million
8 Flo, (Kadiang) October 2 - October 6, 1993 8.75 billion 195 million
9 Megi (Juan) October 18 - October 21, 2010 8.32 billion 193 million
10 Babs, (Loleng) October 20 - 23 1998 6.79 billion 151 million

 Source:  Wikipedia