Category Archives: Travel

FILIPINO RAISED IN THE UNITED STATES: I FEEL EMBARRASSED FOR FILIPINOS WHO ARE EMBARRASSED TO CALL THEMSELVES A FILIPINO.

This article is my response to an article entitled FILIPINO RAISED IN SINGAPORE: I FEEL EMBARRASSED TO CALL MYSELF A FILIPINO on The Real Singapore, an online magazine/blog.  Here’s my response:

FILIPINO RAISED IN THE UNITED STATES:  I FEEL EMBARRASSED FOR FILIPINOS WHO ARE EMBARRASSED TO CALL THEMSELVES A FILIPINO.

The writer of the article starts by mentioning her origins and credibility; I shall do the same.  I was born in the Philippines,  and I moved to the United States when I was young.  In Honolulu, Hawaii I finished elementary, intermediate, and high school, and in Seattle, I completed a B.A. in Political Science, graduating as the commencement speaker of the class.  Shortly after college, I worked in Las Vegas in sales and marketing, business development, and training, and I have moved back to the Philippines to manage my own business, the American Institute for English Proficiency.

I had an opportunity to go to Singapore a few years ago as my friends and business partner wanted to go on vacation there, but I opted not to join them because I had thought at that time that it would be similar to the US; I went to Vietnam, Thailand, and Hong Kong instead.  That means I don’t really have first-hand knowledge on how Filipinos behave or misbehave in Singapore.  I only hear stories from my former clients and students stories.

However, my response is NOT fully about how Filipinos behave in Singapore.  I am sure that there are many Filipinos who misbehave in a foreign country as there are many foreigners who also misbehave in the Philippines.  I am sure that there are many Singaporeans who also misbehave in another foreign country.  In fact, my father, who lives in Las Vegas, is almost a perfect resident in the US, but when he comes back to the Philippines for a visit, he sometimes runs amok.  I shall not be embarrassed to be my father’s son.

My point is, there will always be people, regardless of race, sex, gender, age, or belief, who do not behave the way we want them to behave.  We should criticize the behavior, not the race.

The embarrassment is not whether they misbehave or not.  The bigger embarrassment is when someone, regardless of race, generalizes an entire culture because of a few individuals.  There roughly 170,000 Filipinos residing in Singapore, with more than half a million Filipinos coming in as tourists.  I’m not quite sure how many Filipinos the writer has observed to make such a conclusion, but regardless of her observations, there are much better ways to express her disappointment.

Instead of attacking an entire race or culture and being embarrassed to be “called a Filipino,” the writer could have simply attacked the “bad behaviors” and provided solutions.

So instead of falling into the traps of the fallacy of hasty generalization, the writer could have mentioned that there are certain behaviors that people, regardless of race, color, or national origin, should avoid.  After all, these “bad behaviors,” are not unique to the Filipinos.  I have seen a display of these poor behaviors in public by other races as well.  Thus, it is very insensitive and tactless for a Filipino to be embarrassed of being a Filipino simply because of the bad behavior of a few.

If the writer’s logic were to be accepted, then I could also say that my friend Sergio should be embarrassed to be a Mexican because of a few poorly behaving Mexicans, then my friend Thibaut should be embarrassed to be French because of a few poorly behaving French nationals, and my friend Cary should be embarrassed to be an American for a few poorly behaving Americans.  Hence, everyone should be embarrassed of their cultures.

Instead of creating racial divides, pitting the Filipinos against the Singaporeans, the writer could have been more sensible and, I reiterate, just pointed out the bad behaviors and a solution to the problem.

I’m not even going to discuss the writer’s points because his or her points seem more emotion- than logic-driven.  The writer finishes the article by saying that he or she sounds “Singaporean” because of having lived there for a decade.  She could have just sounded more human than Singaporean.  Let me finish my post in the same way she ended her article: I have lived in the US for about two decades, and as a human, as a Filipino raised in the United States, as a Filipino who returned to the Philippines, as a Filipino who has traveled to many places, and as a Filipino proud to be Filipino, and as a human being, I feel embarrassed for the writer.

And to fellow Filipinos: Let’s fix our behavior when we are guests in other countries so that another Filipino would not just generalize about our culture and be embarrassed to be a Filipino.

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Flight Attendant (FA) Impact Interview

The Impact and Preliminary Interview with Philippine Airlines (PAL)
by Ralph Jason Buenaventura

Ralph is a student at the American Institute for English Proficiency in Quezon City.  He is preparing to be a flight attendant.
Ralph is a student at the American Institute for English Proficiency in Quezon City. He is preparing to be a flight attendant.

Are you looking to be an FA or flight attendant?  Do you have difficulties answering some of the questions?  Ralph and I are working on making it easier for you.  Ralph signed up for a 10-hour private class and a 50-hour group class at the American Institute for English Proficiency so we can help him prepare for his career as a flight attendant, preferably with Philippine Airlines.  We are working on helping him answer his interview questions as well as developing his grammar, American accent, and public speaking skills.

I advised him not to memorize it, but he can start practicing because when we have written down the answers and practiced it, it’s much easier for the words and ideas to roll off your tongue.  Here are our preliminary answers to some of the questions he may encounter during his Impact and Prelim interview.

Tell me about yourself:

Let me start by describing my personality.  I am outgoing, friendly, and responsible.  For example, I love sports, and I was a varsity basketball player at Fatima University on full scholarship.  Also, I love music, and I sung in different school activities.  I love being around friends, and most people say that I am very easy-going and fun to be with.  I tend to focus on being positive when I’m with my friends.  In addition, I was able to manage being an athlete and worker while I was a student.  As a responsible person, when I have a problem, I tend to focus on the solutions and not the problem itself.  That helps me to be able to manage my situations very well.

PhilippineAirlinesAnother thing about me is my professionalism.  I have always wanted to achieve something greater for myself and not settle for the average.  As a student, I had very good attendance because I almost had perfect attendance and hardly any tardiness.  And when I was playing basketball, I attended all of my practices on time.  Actually, I wasn’t as good as the others in basketball, but because I treated it with professionalism, I was a part of the team for three years.  And when I worked as a promoter, I was able to treat my guests as VIP’s no matter their social status.

Lastly, I would like to describe my career goals.  Ever since I entered the university, I have always wanted to be a flight attendant.  I majored in travel management so that I could find out more about the travel and airline industry.  I realized that it was exactly what I wanted because I love to travel and deal with people.  I love talking about culture and places, and the airline industry is the perfect place for it.  I have already completed an OJT with Macro Asia Airport Service, and I was able to observe another aspect of the airline and travel industry.  I know that this is what I really want to do because every time I was at the airport, I felt so close to achieving my dream.

Why do you want to work for the airline industry?

Image Source: Google Images
Image Source: Google Images

I mentioned earlier that I studied travel management and  completed my OJT  in the airline industry.  Furthermore, I have traveled to Singapore and throughout the Philippines.  I also have friends who are working in the industry, such as flight attendants, passenger service agents, customer service agents, and the like.  With all these, I am even more excited to be a part of the industry.  As a flight attendant, I will be able to enjoy two of my passions, which is travel and meeting people from different places and cultures.  I also know that those who work hard and those who continue to grow would be given an opportunity to travel not only within the Philippines, but also internationally since PAL is international.  For me, the airline industry is just very exciting.

Why do you want to work for Philippine Airline (PAL)?

Philippine Airlines is a highly reputable organization, and it is the leading carrier in Asia.  The brand is very strong because of its customer service, compared to other airlines.  Furthermore, working for Philippine Airlines would be very patriotic for me, since it’s very Filipino.  The motto, after all, is “Fly your flag.”   For me, I would prefer to be affiliated with a brand that prides itself in nationalism and customer service at the same time.  Another reason why I would want to work for PAL is because of the different stories I have heard from my friends who are already working for the company.  They told me that the company treated them very well, that the people they work with were like family, and that they really enjoyed what they do.  Of course, I’d get some of the employee benefits that PAL offers.  The last reason I want to work for PAL is because they look and act truly professional.  I would agree with my teacher from The American Institute when he said that he would rather pay more at PAL than another carrier just so he can get more professional service.  At the end of the day, the company that pays attention to their customers wins.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Strengths:

My top three strengths are problem-solving, customer service, and professionalism.  As a problem-solver, I know how to look at the the different angles to a problem, like how it started, who was involved, and why it did it start.  After probing, I focus on looking for creative solutions rather than being stuck with the problem.  (Give specific example here.)  When it comes to customer service, I understand the customer is king.  In fact, when I worked as a promoter, I always had to make sure that my guests enjoyed their night out, and that if they had any problems, they can always call or talk to me.  I can definitely relate this to working here at Philippine Airline.  I see every customer as VIP.  And as I said, professionalism is my other strength.  I do manage my time well when it comes to reporting to work.  I treat my colleagues with respect.  And I am very loyal to the company I work for since it is my source of passion and income. (Give example here).

Weaknesses: (to be completed)

As you see, this article is still incomplete.  If you’d like to learn more about interviewing as a flight attendant for Philippine Airlines, please come back here soon.  Thank you, Ralph, for sharing your answers with everyone.  I’m sure you have inspired others.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ralph is a student at the American Institute for English Proficiency, preparing to become a flight attendant.

Puerto Galera Trip – Simplying your Vacation

Trip to White Beach Puerto Galera with my AIEP clients and friends: Rozita, Chris, Aji, and Irish

Travel can become a nightmare if you are not careful.  There are many travel and tour operators who could promise you the world but deliver you nothing but grief.  I just want to Puerto Galera this past weekend, and I’m glad to say that my vacation wasn’t a nightmare at all.  No, it wasn’t one of the best either because we experienced some unexpected twists and turns.

For example, our tour operator told us that we would go directly from the port in Batangas to the shores of White Beach.  However, we were taken to another port where we had to ride a very small vehicle (much smaller than a jeepney) for another 30 to 45 minutes to get to White Beach.  On top of that, we had our meals catered, and the operator got the meals wrong: served tanigue sinigang instead of milkfish and scrambled eggs instead of omelette.

On the way to the underwater cave on a smaller boat.

When you get to there, there are many barkers, you know, the ones, mostly men, who hold their laminated pictures of the different beach activities.  I don’t mind if 10 of them come up to me to ask me if I want do their activities for a certain price.  I don’t mind if some of them have different prices.  Sometimes, bargaining is fun.  However, when almost everyone of them come to you within a span of an hour, you spend your hours conversing with them instead of enjoying the beach, the water, the sun, and the half-naked bodies.

There must be a way to simply your trip to Puerto Galera so that it becomes more enjoyable.  So here’s a step-by-step guide on simplifying your trip.

  1. Decide if you’re going to do it as a tour package or on your own.  If you do it as a tour package, there are many tour operators who are willing to set your itinerary for you at an additional price.  Of course, the disadvantage to this is that you have to pay extra for their services.  Here’s an example, we went to Puerto Galera this past weekend (March 8 and 9, 2014), and the travel package was almost Php 3,000 per person, inclusive of roundtrip bus transportation from Manila to the port, boat and Puerto-Galera-related fees, two days and one night of basic hotel accommodation at White Beach Lodge (quad-sharing with two full-size beds good for four), and three meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner).

    If you’re going to do it on your own, it would be a little bit cheaper, depending on the price of the accommodation.  Here’s an example:

    Php 100 – Taxi to Bus Terminal
    Php 340 – Roundtrip Bus Transportation
    Php 500 – Roundtrip Boat Transportation
    Php 060 – Miscellaneous Puerto Galera Fees
    Php 600 – Accommodation (Quad Sharing)
    Php 1,600 – TOTAL

    The meals are around Php 100 per meal.  But if you are really on vacation, I would highly recommend at least Php 150 per meal.

  2. If you’re going the DO-IT-YOURSELF way, looking for an accommodation would be the next thing you must do.  As we all know, the price is much higher during the peak season, which is in the summer (March to July and sometimes August).  In March, you can get a quad-sharing (good for four) accommodation with hot water for Php 2,500.  If you divide this by four people, that’s roughly Php 600 per person.If you go this way, you have to  call around.  Here are some of the more known places:

    White Beach Hotel
    White Beach Resort
    White Beach Lodge

    Yes, the more popular ones have “White Beach” in the name, for the name of Puerto Galera’s is beach is, yup, you guessed it, “White Beach.”  I am hoping to put a list of hotels and accommodation here soon.  We stayed at White Beach Lodge, and it was about Php 2,500 per quad-sharing room.  I tried calling my contact there, and he told me that they are already booked for the month of March.  The Holy Week is coming up in April, and I’m sure the prices are just going to go higher and higher.

  3. Next, decide what activities you’re going to do.  There are many activities to do in Puerto Galera.  They give different prices, so try asking around.  Here’s what we got for our activity:  There were 15 of us, and we paid Php 370 per person for snorkeling and fish feeding.  After our activity, we decided we would still want to do more activities, so we decided to go to the underwater cave for an additional Php 200 per person.
    Fresh sea urchins at 3 for Php 100. We bought this near the underwater cave.

    TIP:  It’s better to negotiate before you go on your activity because the boatmen would want to negotiate with you anymore.  According to the woman who got us the Php 370 deal, they could have gotten it for us for an extra Php 100 only.  It used to be cheaper to go snorkeling, but according to our vendor, there are new taxes, and even the locals don’t know where these new taxes were going since Puerto Galera hasn’t really improved in terms of economy and environment.

Another surprise we got was stopping over another part of Puerto Galera, a port called Muelle, where we had to be driven to White Beach.  We were expecting to arrive at White Beach so that it would be more of a “grand entrance,” but our tour organizer lied to us.  I believe it is the Molina Lines that takes you to that port, so if you want to go straight to White Beach, take another one instead.  They are the same price.

So planning a trip to White Beach in Puerto Galera?  It should be so much simpler, right?  When you go with the right people, your best friends or your family, the trip gets better.  I’ve been there numerous times, and it has always been different because of the company I was with.  I have a lot of photos, and as soon as I edit them, I will post them here.  Have a safe and happy trip!

Why Davao is the Next Best Destination

Why Davao is the Next Best Destination
by Edmond Apolo

davao 1It has been a while since I’ve been to Davao.  All I remember was that the it was a clean and safe city.  I had stayed there for 4-5 hours only because I was working as an OJT in a shipping company.  This year, however, I got a chance to visit Davao again.

At first I was quite hesitant to go to Davao since I preferred going outside the country.  The airfare going to Davao was only around Php 3,000, and I booked a hotel (with breakfast) for only Php 1,000 a night.  Though I stayed in Davao for only three days and two nights, it was one of the best trips I have ever taken.

DAvao 2

Like I remember the first time I went there, I saw that Davao was still a really clean and safe place.  According to my taxi driver, their Mayor is so strict, calling him ” kamay na bakal,” which means iron hands.  According to the taxi driver, there are stories floating around that if someone dares to be a hard criminal, the mayor would ask someone to kill that person without going to court. That’s the reason why people there are all afraid to commit crimes. His name is Mayor Duterte.  Sometimes, we need to have a stronger authority to discipline us, but I don’t know about ordering to kill people.  Then again, this is just the “story” of my cab driver.

Also, I can really say that foreigners will be safe visiting Davao.  I was even surprised that the taxi driver even gave me Php 2 change.  Even the hotel staff were really good.  They were always smiling and  greeting us.  However, when it comes to jeepneys and multicabs, it is quite same as in Manila.

davao 4Surprisingly, the restaurant food is so cheap, even as much as 50% that of Manila’s prices.  I ate at a Filipino restaurant called Nanay Bebeng, and their tuna was cheap but good.  I even ate at a buffest for only Php 320, and it was much better than Cabalen, a famous buffet restaurant here in Manila.  They served various kinds of dishes with free drinks and sashimi ( raw fish), which is quite expensive in Manila.

davao 6When it comes to tourist attractions, there a lot of places to visit, especially the beaches in Samal Island.  From the city proper of Davao, you can take a multicab going to the port, and it will cost only Php 25 pesos.  After that, you can take a ro-ro or a boat to Samal Island, which will cost only Php 15 since the travel time is only 10-15 minutes, and there’s a boat every 10 minutes. There’s a lot of beaches to choose from.   But during that time we chose to go to the Blue Water Resort.

Upon arriving at the port of Samal Island, you can ride a  motorcycle going to your designated beach resort. It will cost only Php 50-60 pesos  for two people. Surprisingly, the entrance fee for the resort is only Php 90 per person compared to the expensive resorts in Cebu. The resort we chose had a pool and a beach.  Although the beach was not as good as Boracay’s, the sand is white and the water is really clear.

davao 7If you are a big fan of animals, it also a good idea to go to the Philippine Eagle Center.  It’s a bit far from the city proper of Davao since it is an hour drive or commute using a multicab for Php 40. dava 8After an hour of commuting, you need to ride a motorcycle again, which will cost about Ph p50, to get to the Philippine Eagle Center, with an entrance fee of Php 50.  The center was davao 8really like a jungle since it is also a breeding place for the endangered Philippine eagles. You can see several Philippine eagles, hawks, owls, and some other animals like monkeys and deers.  If you’re an animal lover, I am sure that you will really enjoy this place.

davao 10Another place I would recommend is the Crocodile Farm, with an entrance fee of Php 150 per person.  There is a variety of animals there, with a focus on the crocodiles.  You can meet and greet their biggest crocodile named “Pangil,” and you can even see how they feed him.  It was so worth going there since they even had a quite entertaining bird show.  To get there from the city proper, you can just take a taxi, and it will cost you roughly Php 150.

davao 12If you are really on a tight budget, you can also visit People’s Park.  It’s located at the heart of the city.  It’s not an ordinary park since it has statues of eagles, and there are lots of davao 13durians there.  Who can forget the durians when in Davao, right?

All in all I can say that its better for me to go to Davao rather than Cebu when it comes to safety, friendly people and I can also include places to visit.  There’s a lot of places I haven’t visited in Davao. For now, those things I can share but for sure  I will definitely go back there again someday.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Edmond Apolo is a former student, currently marketing specialist, at the American Institute for English Proficiency (Makati and Quezon City).

Photo source: Google Images