Saturday, March 31, 2012

Earth Hour : An Irony?

From 8:30 to 9:30 tonight, the world celebrated Earth Hour.  Earth Hour is scheduled on the last Saturday of every March.  This activity started in 2007 in Australia and became global a year after with millions participating from different parts of the world.  Earth Hour aims to create awareness on the effects of climate change and and to help save the environment from pollution, particularly carbon emission. 

So, during Earth Hour, people from all over the world switch off their lights - house and commercial establishments - to show support in saving the environment.  And in turn, candles are burned to light up the area.

Some photos (below) I got from the different websites show people participating Earth Hour.   More than a hundred countries is already participating in this activity.

The Earth Hour activity is really a good move to help create awareness in saving the environment.  However, I found, the way it is celebrated, to be a bit ironic.  You switch off the lights (bulbs or tubes) and replace it with candles, lots of candles.  And I find this ironic, because candles also have carbon emissions.  According to Stubborn Mule,  a small candle lighted in an hour burns at least 2.5 grams of candlewax which contains about 2 grams of carbon that produces 7 grams of carbon emissions.  Burning candles could be acceptable if you would only light 1 or 2 in an area.  However, based on the photos above, so many candles in total are being burned by participants in every area.  If hundreds of millions participated during Earth Hour, then assuming we have a one-is-to-one ratio of person to candle, people who participated in Earth Hour using candles would have already burned hundreds of millions of candles too.  Now, I don't think that would help the environment.

Since Earth Hour's celebration became global, I never had once participated in it.  Well, I think I don't need to.  It's only one hour.  While what I practice already at home is more than an hour.  In 2009, me and my husband changed all our fluorescent tubes and incandescent bulbs at home to compact fluorescent lamps (CFL).  From 40 watts and 20 watts lights, we now use only 10 watts and 5 watts.  Aside from helping the environment, we definitely saved on our electricity bills - 50% decrease!  And in 2010, we bought 2 LED bulbs, 5 watts and 3 watts, to replace two 10 watts CFL.  We have two 5-watt bulb in our bedroom.  The second bulb is only switched-on when there is a need to read something.  So, basically, we only use a 5-watt bulb (LED) in our bedroom at night.  In the office at work, I turn off my monitor whenever I would not be using my computer for at least 15 minutes.

For Iligan City, if the people, most particularly the government officials, are serious in helping the environment, I suggest they do the following :

1.  Be sure to switch off the street lights during the day.   It definitely is useless to leave it switched on.  
2.  Replace sodium bulb and mercury bulb street lights with LED street light. A comparison between sodium bulb and LED lamp street lights in terms of cost and carbon emissions can be found here.
3.  Replace all fluorescent tubes and incandescent bulbs with CFL or LED in all government offices. 
4.  Redesign existing government buildings (like the city hall) that would allow natural light to enter the building during daytime so that only a minimal number of light bulbs will be needed. 
5.  Redesign electrical wiring lay-out so that separate switches would be used for lights in different areas.  This way, when only one employee is in the office, the lights in his office area will only be the one switched on.   At present, and what has been used for many years, there is only one or two switches in an office.  Thereby having the all the lights turned-on even when only an area of the office is in use.
6.  Remove all TV appliances in government offices.  They definitely are not necessary.  And it only becomes another factor for employees to not be doing their work.  

So far this is what I can think of.  With these, aside from helping the environment, it would greatly save a lot on electricity cost.  And the savings on electric bill by the government can be used to implement other important programs. 

And by the way, this year's Earth Hour challenge theme is "I Will If You Will".  Well, I don't buy this.   For me it should be  "To Save the Earth, I am Doing This.  What About You?".  And my philosophy is "I will do this even if you will not".   Because when one does some good things beneficial to the environment without waiting for the others to do something, and if everyone will have the same philosophy, then the Earth would be a better and cleaner place to live in.  :-) 

PS.  As the people around the world are celebrating Earth Hour, I am writing this blogpost with only a 5-watt LED bulb switched on in my room and a 5-watt CFL lamp in the porch switched on till morning.  By the way, the LED bulbs we bought last 2010 are still not yet replaced, and it's already almost 2 years.  :-D

Monday, March 26, 2012

Hospital with a Heart

I read an article from Manila Bulletin last month.   The author, Andrew James Masigan, talked about his "Encounters with the Extraordinary Doktora".  This Extraordinary Doktora is Dr. Thelma Navarrete Clemente, founder and chairman of the Capitol Medical Center.   He talked  about his 3-hour chat with Dr. Clemente, her talents, the hospital's history, her hard work, among others.   

After reading the article, I almost broke me into tears.  Why? Because of these 2 paragraphs: 

"Unlike in most first-class hospitals, patients, no matter how poor, are not denied emergency medical care at Capitol Medical Center. This is upon the doktora’s strict orders. It is only after the patient has been stabilized that matters regarding finances are discussed. Such dedication to mission does not come cheap. 

Over the last 10 years, she tells us that uncollected debts from patient’s promissory notes easily exceed a hundred million pesos. The good doktora simply shrugs her shoulders. Mission outtrumps profits any day; and to me, this is social responsibility in action. Take-Home Value."

I have always disliked hospitals who value more their profit than the people who needs them.  For me, the hospital exists to save lives.  That is the heart of a hospital.  Yet, many lives have been lost because of owners who think of their hospital as a business.  No deposit, no admittance.  It is such a sad thing.  :-(

I even dreamed of putting up my own hospital that would serve the indigents.  Though, I don't know how it would work.  I just thought I had to do it someday.

Reading this article gave me hope.  Now, that's what I call a hospital with a heart.  :-)

I am thankful that a doktora in the person of Dr. Thelma Clemente, exists today.  And I am praying that there would be more like her.    

To read the whole article on Encounters with the Extraordinary Doktory, go to :

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Koala Bear Hug

My first ever trip outside the Philippines was in Australia. 

In June of 2000, me and an officemate were sent to Australia through the PRMDP-AusAID program.  It was a 10-day study tour on the GIS (Geographic Information System) practices in selected private and government agencies in Adelaide. 

One of the highlights of the study tour was a visit to one of their parks - Gorge Wildlife Park.   I didn't know exactly where this was located but it was a bit far from the city center.

In the Park, I was able to get up close and personal with two of the famous animals Australia is known for -  the Koala Bear and the Kangaroo.

 One of the Koalas up the tree.  This one is sleeping.  

This Koala is eating eucalyptus leaves.

I was very happy to finally see with my own eyes a living Koala.  But.  What happened next blew my mind. 

Me with a Koala!

The Koala bear was soooo cuddly.  The bear really felt like a stuffed toy because it's so fury and fluffy.  The only difference is, it's alive!   We were able to hold the Koala for a few minutes and take pictures with it because they put the bear into a sleepy state.  Meaning, the Koala won't be hesitant to be cuddled.  He would be too sleepy to bother to resist.  And do you know what they do with the Koala to make them behave that way?  Drugs? Of course, not.  They just actually let them eat the eucalyptus leaves.  Koala's favorite staple, of course, hehehe.  The eucalyptus makes them sleepy.  So, when in a sleepy state, the zoo keeper won't have a hard time letting tourists experience cuddling the bear. 

I was so excited to finally hold a Koala.  I would have wanted to hug him tight.  But didn't.  The claws are long and sharp.  I was afraid it might pierce me.  He might get hurt from my squeeze and might also try to defend himself by hurting me.   But it was ok.  Cuddling him for a minute was enough for me.  An experience I will cherish for the rest of my life.

I never thought in my lifetime I'd get to cuddle a real Koala.   Until now, I can still remember how it felt.  :-)  

Friday, March 16, 2012

Youth of Today : Your Time to Shine

I have lived in Iligan City all my life. 37 years.  And as the years went on, there is one problem in the community that until now have not yet been really fully acted upon.  Maybe a few attempts but was never really sustained.  Guess what this problem is?


There are piled and days-old garbage on the streets and other open places in the city.  Plus the open dump site located at Barangay Santiago is just within the vicinity of the residential area.   The garbage can be found not only on land but also in the creeks and rivers.  The drainage system in the city streets have been clogged with garbage particularly plastics. 

Improper disposal of garbage poses three problems :

1.   The garbage is an eyesore.  The city definitely is not clean to look at.
2.   Air Pollution.   The foul smell of the wastes in the open dump site can reach even to the neighboring barangays, as far as 1 kilometer.  
3.   Damage to the environment and the marine life.  This, I think, is the biggest effect of improper garbage disposal because it not only affects the people in the community but also the animals and nature itself.  And when nature strikes back, everything else is affected.

So what do I do with this?

Well, I have my own share of proper garbage disposal implemented at home.  And I don't throw away my garbage in the streets.  If every individual will do his share of practicing proper disposal of his garbage, we could probably see a change.

But Iligan City is already a big city.   With a 300,000 plus population.  I think not all could practice proper disposal of waste.   Even the city government is having difficulty in implementing proper garbage disposal.  Without the help of every citizen in the community, this problem could not be solved.

Then what do we do about it?

Individuals have to form groups in order to implement a project.  And I think the biggest bulk of the population is the youth.  It's probably high time that the youth of Iligan City come together and make a difference in helping solve issues in the community today.  I chose the youth for they are high spirited, idealistic.  They could easily brainstorm on ideas.  And not only that.  They are very active.  When they have ideas, I know they also want their ideas transform into reality.  The youth today are pro-active individuals.   Just like how they helped in the relief operations to the victims of Typhoon Sendong.   The volunteers are mostly from the youth sector.  Gone are the days of rallies and demonstrations .   If the youth were able to do it with Sendong, then they could also do it with Garbage.   :-)

Through the Iligan Bloggers Society, Inc.,  I came across a program of UNILAB called Unilab Ideas Positive.  They are now on their third year and this time, they will hold it nationwide.  So, Mindanao is already included and that means Iligan City too.  Yehey!  They have gone nationwide because changing one community alone could not change the Philippines.  The change has to be in every community.  

Unilab Ideas Positive is a social marketing clinic and competition-in-one.  The program provides a venue for college students to share their innovative and sustainable ideas which will help address the health and wellness concerns of the community.  Not only that.  The students also get to implement their ideas!  Isn't that great?

From among the entries nationwide, fifteen (15) teams will be chosen, three (3) teams each from Metro Manila, South Luzon, North Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Unilab Ideas Positive will provide the 15 teams with a 3-day social marketing boot-camp where they can learn and understand social marketing approaches and a seed money worth P100,000.00 (each team) to help them implement their social marketing program within 6 months.  Wow. This sure is a chance of a lifetime.   Aside from these, 3 teams will be chosen as winners.  The Grand Prize winner will receive among others a P50,000.00 cash prize for the groups members and P10,000.00 honorarium for the group mentor/faculty coach.  By the way, did I mention that a team will be composed only of 5 members?  If your team gets to win the Grand Prize, you will each have P10,000.00 on top of the other prizes.   For the mechanics on how to join this competition is here.

Hmmm.. If only I am still in college, I would definitely join the Unilab Positive Ideas competition.

But, for me though, the prizes at stake are only secondary.  What's more important is the youth's willingness and eagerness to make a positive change in their community.   As Dr. Jose Rizal have once said, "Ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan." (The youth is the hope of the country.)  Now, it's high time for the youth of today to make truth into what Rizal said.

To the youth of Iligan, let's make Iligan City a better place not only for the visitors, but for us, the residents.  :-)

"Interested college students can join by teaming up and registering at Deadline for submission of entries is on April 16."

Thursday, March 8, 2012

From Iligan to General Santos

I love to travel.  Specially when I am with my husband, Pat, hehehe.  Aside from that, of course.   I love to travel because I get to see places that I sometimes just see in magazines or in TV shows.  I get to meet people of different race and/or culture.  I get to experience new things I won't be able to in my hometown.

But, how do you manage a travel when it's about 12 hours on the road?  I had this experience last 2010 when Pat and I attended the 4th Mindanao Bloggers Summit in Zamboanga City.  It was a 12-hour bus ride.  Definitely verrrrrryyyyy tiresome and we only stopped for lunch and restroom (twice only, sheesh).  And what's worst was we had a 1-hour standby at Pagadian Bus Terminal.  And we have nothing to do but wait for the bus to get on the road again.  So, I just slept in the bus for that 1 hour.  :-(

Last year, 2011, we again made a 12-hour road trip from Iligan to General Santos City.   But this time, it was different :-D  I already have a big smile here, hehehe....  For three reasons :

1.  Pat and I were with other members of the Iligan Blogger's Society, Inc.  There were 8 of us.  It was really an enjoyable trip when you got good company. :-)  You won't seem to feel tired.

2.  We opted to hire a van (Nissan Escapade) instead of taking the bus since, when we calculated it, we could save a lot on transportation cost.   And of course, having your own vehicle when traveling long distance is definitely more comfortable.  You'd get to choose when and where to stop.   We had fun taking pictures of the scenery during some of our  short stops.   

The Nissan Escapade and my husband, Pat, during one of our stops.

Me and Pat.  Taken somewhere in Davao del Sur.
The rest of the group with the driver, Loloy (the man in blue shirt)

3.  The third reason is that I will be going to a place that I have never been too.   Well, this actually is always one of the reasons for me to travel to a place, hehehe  :-)

But. Second time on a long road trip, I really wished I already bought a mobile Wifi gadget like Globe Tattoo Super Stick.    It's a bit frustrating when I need to connect to the net and there's no connection available in the area.  :-(  During stops when there's not much scenery good for picture taking, I would have been able to check my emails (as I went on-leave from work, there might be some official emails, so I need to check from time to time, hehehe).

Even when we're not on the road.  Even in the pension house where we stayed in General Santos and in Davao City.  They claimed to have an internet connection.  Unfortunately, I could not connect.  Where are you Globe Tattoo Super Stick when I need you?  I asked my friends in the other room if they could connect.  Maybe there's just a problem with my netbook.  Not much luck either.  One said it is verrrry slow.   Grrr! 

Me, the netbook and the frown on my face. My husband had the pleasure of taking a photo of me while I was complaining about the connection.

The Globe Tattoo Super Stick would have been a great travel buddy.   I was told by a friend who is a satisfied user that  Globe Tattoo Super Stick is not limited only to one device but could also share the Wifi connectivity with up to 5 devices like netbooks or laptops, Wifi-ready mobile phones.  Meaning, my friends could have also benefited from my Globe Tattoo Super Stick.  If I had one, that is. Hehehe...

Hmmmm.... have to save for that.  Pat and I will have a long trip (as in 2 weeks) coming in October this year with his family.  :-D
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