What’s With Smart?

I am encountering a problem with a promo of Smart Telecommunications, specifically with their All Text 20 promo. The promo gives the subscriber 100 pesos load credits for Smart to Smart or Smart to Talk n Text plus 10 pesos load credits for other networks.

In the past, I could make my load in that promo last three days. All I usually do is load in the morning. Supposedly, the validity period of that promo is 24 hours but that is not the real case. For example, if I load 10 AM at June 25 then my load should expire at 10 AM, June 26. However, the usual case is that the load expires at midnight of June 26 and the 10 pesos load credit remains with me until June 27.

Recently, my All Text 20 credits now only last for two days. How did this happen? Am I the only Smart subscriber who experiences this new development?

I am thinking that maybe, this is Smart Telecommunication’s reaction to the current Senate investigation against telecom companies.

That possibility is clearly possible.

Michael Jackson Is Dead

I got a big surprise when I opened my Internet this morning. Yahoo’s main page announced that Michael Jackson, the King of Pop and one of the most controversial singer of the last century, is dead. According to an article in Yahoo, the King of Pop died in UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. Authorities did not yet state yet the cause of his death. He is just 50 years when he died.

Throughout his life, Michael Jackson had been the center of attention, from his rise to pop stardom up until to his meteoric fall due to many scandals, specific of which are the accusations of pedophilia in his Neverland Ranch.

I will always remember this guy for some of weird videos of his concert wherein hundreds of his fans act like freaks. When I watched those videos, I couldn’t help myself but think why would these people act like that for a guy that look already like a skeleton. Sans the said video, I enjoyed many of Michael Jackson’s songs like Thriller, Smooth Criminal, and Heal the World. Heck, I even enjoyed his movie “Thriller.”

One thing is sure that will come due to the death of Michael Jackson, that is the sudden upshot of interest in items that he owned and other memorabilias that will be released to the public. At least our local showbiz “authorities” will have another “news” to tell this weekend.

Friendster VS Facebook

The World Wide Web finally caught the attention of hundreds of Filipinos. Like the phenomenon of cellphone, this sector is expanding exponentially in the country. Unlike in the past years, people are now spending more and more time online. Youtube, online games, and e-mail are now as common as text messaging. Even having a blog is common nowadays since we already have thousands of Pinoy and Pinay bloggers.

The growth of Pinoy netosphere resulted also in the growth of online social networking sites. We have Multiply, Plurk, Twitter, even Pinoyblogger (for all Pinoy and Pinay bloggers) and of course the two most famous social networking sites Friendster and Facebook.

Friendster

Friendster is the first online social networking website that caught the country, or more specifically the Metropolitan areas by storm. Its main feature is the creation of the Friendster member’s profile page wherein one can share everything about him/herself. You can place your picture; share your favorite band, food, books, and many more. You could even create a false person and trick other people online.

However, the true meat of Friendster is it allows you to connect with other Friendster members and add them up as your friend. You could search your elementary or high school buddies, long-lost friends, kamag-anaks here and abroad, acquaintances, and even artistas and add them in your list of “friendsters.”

During the hype of Friendster back in my first year in college, people are bragging about the number of their “friends” in Friendster. Some have more than 500 people in their “friends” list. Many of them even invited people who they didn’t know and just read their profile online. Eventually, this superficial friendship died out. The strength of Friendster is in connecting people who genuinely and personally knew one another. I for one, limit my friends’ list only to those I have met personally.

Friendster is still the largest online social site in the Philippines. Even though people in metropolitan areas were already satiated by Friendster, the site is still expanding in the provinces that are now beginning to enjoy the Internet.

Facebook

I am just few weeks old as a member of Facebook, but I must say that I am hooked. Aside from connecting with my friends (like in Friendster) I enjoy commenting on posts of my friends. I was also hooked because of the various activities like answering many quizzes and posting anything anytime. Some of my friends are enjoying playing games like Mafia Wars and Pet Society.

Facebook is composed mainly of Friendster retirees and other Pinoy and Pinay veteran netizens. It offers the same things in Friendster like connecting with friends, uploading of photos, shouting up your thoughts and creating your own profile page. Facebook’s main advantage is its interactivity and its page layout allows such thing. You could see your friends’ activities and posts in real time and immediately react on them. As I had said, there are so many online quizzes and games that will keep anyone from logging out.

Facebook is also the choice of celebrities and anyone could easily become their fan and get update directly from them. Even politicians use this site to interact with the people of the World Wide Web.

Friendster VS Facebook

The war between Friendster and Facebook is still the battle between connectivity and interactivity. Friendster is still the largest online networking site in the country. However, many of its old users are migrating to Facebook. I, for one, will not delete my Friendster account because I do not want to lose my connection with some of my friends and miss some updates from them.

On the other hand, I do not want to miss the activity in Facebook and I want to catch up with my friends retiring from Friendster. I also found out that Facebook is more blogger friendly since I could easily post a link of newest blog post and it will be broadcasted to all my Facebook friends. This makes Facebook a powerful tool for many bloggers aiming to reach out to as many readers as possible.

For me, Facebook is the emerging winner in this battle. It offers the connectivity as in Friendster plus the interactivity that makes my online stay worthwhile.

Ako Mismo Ayoko Mismo ng Ako Mismo Dog Tag

Usong-uso ngayon, lalo na sa mga kabataan, ang Ako Mismo Dog Tag. Madalas na akong nakakakita ng mga taong naka-suot nito. Meron pa ngang nakabuyangyang sa madla ang kanyang Ako Mismo Dog Tag upang ipakita sa lahat na siya ay mayroon nga (at isa sa mga pinalad) ng Ako Mismo Dog Tag. Ngunit naiintindihan ba nila ang nais iparating ng programa ng Ako Mismo?

Ang programang “Ako Mismo” ay inilunsad sa madla ng isang grupo na kinabibilangan ng iba’t ibang tao na nagmula sa iba’t ibang sektor. Layon ng programa na ito na buksan ang isipan ng mga mamamayan sa pamamagitan ng paghahayag ng kanilang mumunting pangako sa sarili o sa bayan.

“Star-studded” ang programang ito dahil ilan sa mga “endorser” nito ay mga sikat na artista na sina Angel Locsin, ang mang-aawit na si Ely Buendia, at ang manlalaro ng Ateneo de Manila University sa larangan ng basketbol na si Chris Tiu. Meron din silang website kung saan nilalagay ng gustong makilahok sa “Ako Mismo” ang kanilang mga mumunting pangako. Marami rin silang mga programa sa iba’t ibang malls upang palawigin pa ang pakikilahok ng mga tao.

Maganda nga sana ang layunin ng “Ako Mismo” ngunit sa palagay ko ay ito ay isa lamang pauso sa tingin ng maraming tao, lalo na sa mga kabataan. Oo nga’t marami sa kanila ang nakasuot ng Dog Tag, karamihan naman sa kanila ay hindi alam ang pakahulugan ng Dog Tag na ipinapakita nila sa madla. Ang “Ako Mismo” dog tag ay matutulad lang sa ilang mga simbolo na nauuso ngayon. Matutulad lang ito sa “Three Stars and a Sun” ni Francis M na sumikat noong siya ay pumanaw, o kaya ng iba pang simbolo tulad ng Nazi Swastika, larawan ni Che Guevara, “Hammer and Sickle” ng mga Kumunista, Magdalo Flag, at kung anu-ano pa. Nawala ang pakuhulugan at minsan ay pinaghahalo-halo pa ng mga nakiki-uso.

Ang “Ako Mismo” dog tag, tulad ng mga nabanggit na mga simbolo, ay sinusuot lang ng karamihan bilang pang-porma. Upang ipakita nila sa mga tao na pasok din sila sa uso. Napaka-superficial ika nga sa wikang Ingles.

Kaya ngayon, ang masasabi ko talaga ay “ako mismo ay ayoko mismo ng Ako Mismo dog tag.”

Kamay ni Hesus Shrine in Lucban

Kamay ni Hesus Shrine is one of the latest additions to the many grottos and spiritual places in the Philippines. The shrine was built thru the contributions of the many members of the Catholic Church, as coordinated by the Kamay ni Hesus Ministry Foundation. The centerpiece of this shrine is the image of the ressurected Christ located on top of a mountain.
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Kamay ni Hesus Shrine in Lucban, Quezon
The large image of Jesus Christ is atop the mountain.

Many people, some coming from places far away from Lucban, visit the shrine for the healing mass of Father Faller and his fellow priests. Masses are scheduled every Monday, Saturday, and Sunday. Healing mass is scheduled every Monday and Saturday. The masses are being celebrated in the shrine's chapel. The chapel's altar also features Jesus Christ as he ascend to heaven.
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Chapel of Kamay ni Hesus Shrine in Lucban
Altar of the Kamay ni Hesus chapel.

The area has a wide parking space. There are also stores where one could buy candles, snacks, and other religious items.

Images of the Catholic saints are everywhere. One of the images that I saw is my favorite Marian image: Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
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Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Kamay ni Hesus Shrine

I greeted San Lorenzo Ruiz before I started my climb to the top.
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San Lorenzo Ruiz at Kamay ni Hesus Shrine in Lucban, Quezon

Climbing to the top of the Kamay ni Hesus Shrine is not easy. I counted 285 steps on the left stairway. The climb is the best moment to reflect upon your relationship with God. It is also the best moment to meditate on  life of our Lord because there are images based on the Gospel.

The narration of Gospel starts with the Annunciation located at the base of the mountain.
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The Annunciation in Kamay ni Hesus Shrine at Lucban, Quezon

The Sorrowful Mysteries is also complete. First is "The Agony in the Garden":
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Image of Jesus Christ praying

Then "The Scourging at the Pillar":
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Scourging at the Pillar at Kamay ni Hesus Shrine, Lucban

The third Sorrowful Mystery is "The Crowning with Thorns":
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Image of Jesus Christ being crowned with thorns

The fourth Sorrowful Mystery is the "Carrying of the Cross".
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Image of Jesus Christ carrying the Cross in Kamay ni Hesus Christ

The fifth and last Sorrowful Mystery is the "Crucifixion and Death of Jesus Christ".
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Image of Crucified Christ in Kamay ni Hesus Shrine

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Image of Jesus Christ and the two revolutionaries in Kamay ni Hesus Shrine

The scenes for the other Mysteries are also present but I failed to take photos of all of them. Kamay ni Hesus Shrine will be a perfect place for me when I pray the Holy Rosary. Too bad that this shrine is too far away from my house.

The climb was exhausting. I had to rest many times just to catch my breath. The chapel and other structures of the shrine became "small".
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View of the chapel of Kamay ni Hesus Shrine during my climb

I forgot the exhausting climb when I reached the mountain top because I saw the image of our Lord welcoming me.
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Image of Jesus Christ in Kamay ni Hesus Shrine

I prayed for a while and thanked our God for all the blessings that He gave me. This image is really huge! It is the largest image of Jesus Christ that I had seen so far.
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Image of resurrected Christ at Kamay ni Hesus Shrine

Of course, the top of the Kamay ni Hesus Shrine has the best view of Lucban. My eyes feasted on the wonderful view of the land below. I am so happy to see that most of Lucban is still covered in greenery.
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View of Lucban from the top of Kamay ni Hesus Shrine

When visiting Lucban, I recommend that you to pass by Kamay ni Hesus Shrine. Climb up the mountain while meditating on your relationship with God. Perhaps God will reveal His plans to you inside this shrine.

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This blog post is a part of the series narrating my adventures at Lucban, Quezon. Read my other blog posts about my visit to Batis Aramin resort and downtown Lucban.

Need more info about Kamay ni Hesus Shrine and the healing masses? Visit the website of Father Faller for info.

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Have you visited Kamay ni Hesus Shrine? Please tell us your experiences by leaving a comment on the comment box below.

Theory, Not Practice

I do not like it whenever I am introduced by my friends to other persons as the top of our class or the smartest in our batch. I know that I could understand some engineering concepts better than my classmates. The fact that I finished college without flunking any subject is just a combination of hard work and luck and not by my supposed intelligence. I just believe that Divine Providence is guiding my life all along.

Now that I am a professional in my field, I am confronted by a problem: I am a weakling when it comes to PRACTICE or the application of what I learned in school. I am hesitant and easily swayed by other people. I don’t have that personality that demands precision for everything around me.

Everything is easy in THEORY. But when it comes to PRACTICE, unknown factors come out to affect the results. Even my emotions interfere.

During fieldwork, I have the tendency to wish that I am in office. Ironically, if I do get that wish, I will feel incomplete. An engineer that is excellent in THEORY and not in PRACTICE is not an engineer at all.

I am an engineer and I should fix my weakness. I just wish that I strengthen myself soon

Batis Aramin Hotel and Resort

Batis Aramin Hotel and Resort is located in the outskirts of Lucban in Quezon Province. The developer of this resort balanced nature and man-made developments. Batis Aramin has three resorts, a multi-purpose hall and rooms for rent in the midst of trees and greeneries. Thus, a visitor can experience both the relaxing mood of nature and the comfort brought by the amenities.

The fee for entering the resort for day tour (6 AM to 5 PM) is 80 pesos and 60 pesos for adult and children respectively. For the night tour (5 PM to 6 AM), the fee is 100 pesos for adult and 80 pesos for the kids. This is, of course, exclusive of the fee for rooms.
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Entrance to Batis Aramin Resort
The entrance to Batis Aramin Resort.

How to Go to Batis Aramin Resort


The resort is just a tricycle ride away from the center of Lucban. Anyone planning to visit this resort could hire a public tricycle at a cost of 50 Pesos. Tricycle drivers already know the location of the resort and they will drop visitors inside the resort’s premises.

If you are coming from Metro Manila, then you could ride a provincial bus going to Lucban and ride a tricycle in the town. Batis Aramin is not recommended for those who do not wish to have a long travel time since going to Lucban coming from Manila takes about 4 hours. See the Part I of this post for information regarding Lucban and how to get there.

Amenities in Batis Aramin Resort


Batis Aramin is good in terms of amenities. The resort has plenty of rooms, which made it perfect for company outings. There are large rooms with four large beds (each bed can accommodate two persons). Also, there are rooms that are suitable for couples. Each room has a TV and a thermos for those who can’t live without a cup of coffee.

Every visitor is provided with a towel, soap, a Batis Aramin branded shampoo, and a sachet of powdered coffee. Just be cautious with the shampoo though, because it may harm your hair. I ddn't feel comfortable with the shampoo when I used it.
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A room inside Batis Aramin Resort
A room in Batis Aramin Resort.

Batis Aramin Resort has three swimming pools. One is a kiddie pool and the others are pools for adults. What I noticed with their pools is the lack of maintenance. The kiddie pool, for instance, was dirty and I saw that no one used it during my whole stay. The other pools are OK and lifeguards are available to assist their visitors.
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Kiddie pool of Batis Aramin
The kiddie pool of Batis Aramin Resort.
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This the only pool in Batis Aramin with slide.
The only pool in Batis Aramin Resort that has slide.

There is a function hall that is suitable for company outings and clan reunions. The resort staff can also serve food and prepare the hall for special occasions.

Foods, Drinks and Activities in Batis Aramin Resort


Bringing your own food is allowed in Batis Aramin Resort. Bringing in your own beer or other beverages is also allowed. Those who don't have their own food and drinks need not worry because the resort has a store that sells beer, other beverages and snacks. It is open even late at night and even delivers cases of beer directly to visitor's rooms. If you do not like their food, then the resort is just a tricycle ride away from Lucban, which has many restaurants and stores.

In the middle of the resort is a small river that flows lazily. The resort has boats that could be used by visitors for boating. The river is dirty and smelly during my visit because it just rained. I think that the resort management find a way to keep the river clean even during the rainy season clean to make the resort more beautiful.
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Muddy river of Batis Aramin Resort
Muddy river inside Batis Aramin Resort.

The resort also has videoke machines for those who want to sing their lungs out. This resort is also just on the other side of the highway of the Kamay ni Hesus Shrine. Visitors of Batis Aramin can just walk toward the grotto. The full story for Kamay ni Hesus Shrine is on the third installment of this series.

Caution for Visitors

Many walkways and stairs inside the resort have no handrails. Accidents may happen anytime because some people might fall from these stairs and walkways.
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Here are the other photos inside the resort:
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Muddy river of Batis Aramin Resort
Muddy river.
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Fountain of Batis Aramin Resort
Fountain at the courtyard.
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Trees and grass of Batis Aramin Resort

Batis Aramin is a nice resort. Good swimming pools, nice environment, and nice rooms. People who will reach the resort will enjoy it.

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This blog post is a continuation of the blog post A Piece of Quezon (Part I).

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Do you have any question or comment about Batis Aramin Resort? Please tell us about it by leaving a comment in the comment box below.

Jobless Season

I once asked my newly hired co-employee about his past job hunt. He told me that he was a bum for three months before landing a job in our agency. For the whole three months, the theme song of his life is the OPM song “Blue Jeans.”

He is lucky, he said, to be hired in our agency, in a position that offers a salary that is higher than those offered for a newly-grad by private companies. I too was lucky, much luckier than my co-employee this is because I did not experienced his predicament that much. I had been working since the day after the last day of my college life. And my two previous jobs were rewarding career wise and financially.

I just wish that our luck shine to my dear-special-someone who had been job hunting for a month now. Looking for a good paying job nowadays is hard. She feels it, and I feel it. The frustration and the depression that accompanies the time waiting for a company to call, or for the HR to say after every interview that they accept you as their employee.

It is sad and I couldn’t do anything but support her, help her in any way I could.

Now she is thinking of going abroad and applies for an overseas job that offers a salary that will be enough to realize her dream of giving her parents a good life in their old age. I want her to stay, but then again, I couldn’t do anything but support her and her dreams.

I wish that next week, she get the job that she needs. But we are in the Philippines – the land of frustration.

A Simple Prayer for the Future Nurse

Tomorrow will be the 2009 Nursing Board Exam and my dear friend Megumi will take that exam.

Her 4 years of nursing college education will be put to the test tomorrow and in Sunday. For that, I'll be posting a simple prayer for her and for all the examinees.

Dear Lord

Tomorrow is the 2009 Nursing Board Exam
and one of my friend will be put to the test.
I pray to Thee that You give her the knowledge to answer the exams
The courage to remove her fear
The strength to make her body in good physical condition
And wisdom so that she will accept Your will regarding her exam.

I pray to You, Lord of Heavenly Hosts, to help her
to guide her
to stay beside her.

Please give her heart's desire.
May she succeed.

I pray this in the name of Jesus the Lord.

AMEN.