Embroidery for Beginners

I never thought I would ever take embroidery as a hobby. While I learned cross-stitching back in college and finished a few small projects, I abandoned stitching eventually in favour of new interests when I started working.

Last year, I dabbled in adult colouring books to pass the time and for the most part, to take my mind away from the stresses of daily living, including completing projects at work, finding my way through corporate life, and putting together documents for my visa applications. However, it eventually lost its appeal in part because it did not work for the purpose that I had initially intended and in part because it just became tedious. I still keep a pack of colouring pens and a couple of colouring books handy, but I don’t know when I’ll have the interest again to complete even a single page.

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HBF Run for a Reason, My First Race in Perth

I finally joined my first race in Perth last Sunday at the HBF Run for a Reason 2016. Like most running events everywhere else, this race/fun run supports various charities, and runners had the option to directly donate to specific groups of their liking or set up their own campaigns.


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I love my Adidas Techno Boosts which I bought last year at an Adidas outlet store!

Since I have only been running on and off in the past 10 months and that I wasn’t familiar a, and it was starkly different to what it was between early 2014 up to the middle of 2015. While I was able to put in a few KMs of running prior to our wedding, it was still a shame because Perth offers a lot of opportunity for running, thanks to the miles of bike and foot paths around the suburbs and the many parks that dot the metro. So in order to stick to running, I decided to sign up for this year’s HBF event. It also happens that the race that the WA-based insurance company sponsors is the largest annual race in the state.  Continue reading

Best Holiday Ever! Things to Do in Kota Kinabalu

Who knew that Kota Kinabalu would be one of the most special places I would ever visit? The week spent in the city famously referred to by locals and travelers alike as “KK” has been one of the most enjoyable in recent memory, thanks to the charm of the place itself, its people, and the company of someone who would eventually claim a special place in my heart (perhaps, my heart itself).

Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Thanks to the peak travel season in the Philippines in the summer, especially during and right after Easter/Holy Week, everything cost nearly twice as much, particularly airfare and hotel. And so on top of wanting to avoid crowds, this only encouraged us to consider other destinations in Southeast Asia.

Thus, upon recommendations on the Web and from friends alike, we decided on KK, a convenient, tourist-friendly, and very affordable destination. Kota Kinabalu is this little nook on the northwest coast of Sabah, Malaysia, facing the South China sea. Whilst it was one of the more popular gateways to Malaysia, Borneo or the rest of Southeast Asia, KK after Easter was not teeming with too many tourist. We were informed by locals that the city did host a considerable number of visitors a few weeks prior, so I guess the timing for our holiday was just right. Continue reading

Make your own ‘Kay Ganda!’ logo

In response to the DOT’s failed attempt at rebranding Philippine tourism, someone who probably had a lot of time in their hands came up with a Facebook app that allowed people to create their own “Kay Ganda” logos. Here’s mine:

Make your own Kay Ganda! logo.

UPDATE: Advertising agency Campaigns and Grey has released a statement on the brainless slogan and plagiarism fiasco (emphases are mine):

Campaigns & Grey was called upon by the Department of Tourism for advice on a new branding exercise. There was hesitation on our end as we were familiar with the complex bidding process, and we were still owed by the past administration for services rendered. Our love for country prevailed.

From the beginning, it was clear that the actual campaign would be bidded out and that our work was merely to establish preliminary strategic directions. But suddenly, there was a pressing need for exploratory concepts to be shown in some travel industry events. Again, we warned the client that we were taking too many shortcuts. But it was agreed that there would be proper market research where multiple concepts will be thoroughly tested among the target markets i.e. North America, Korea, Japan, China etc.

Throughout this whole episode, we did not have a contract nor did we receive a single centavo.

Based on available market data, ‘Pilipinas Kay Ganda!’ was developed as one of five concepts for testing among the target segments. The intention of this particular concept was to come up with a novel line that visitors would find memorable, similar to Hawaii’s ‘Aloha’ or even the Japanese ‘Irasshaimase!’ and help regain Filipino pride in the long run.

From many different logo studies that we recommended, we were directed to use the Polska logo for inspiration. Again, this went through several revisions until the client approved a logo similar to the fonts of Polska. With the addition of several other Philippine elements like the tarsier, smiling coconuts and the sun, there was enough distinction to send the logo into market research. If findings showed negative reactions towards the logo or if respondents felt it was reminiscent of the Polska logo, it would be easier to dissuade the client from using it.

We repeatedly warned the client that it was premature to launch, or even preview the study, but apparently preparations for the tour operator event were already underway. We ourselves were shocked at the grand scale of what was supposed to be a mere glimpse to draw out a constructive exchange among industry partners. It was not surprising that media and the public took it as a done deal.

We shall take this experience as a cautionary tale against giving in to the client and allowing their overenthusiasm to override our better judgment. It was a reminder that the road to perdition is paved with good intentions.

I don’t think that Campaigns and Grey should so easily wash its hands off the whole rebranding FAIL deal because it did play its part in designing the Philippine logo while all along knowing full well that it was based on the Polska travel logo.  And why simply warn or remind the client that the slogan would not be effective? Sino ba ang mas nakakaalam–the pros or the DOT? 

Of course, PeNoy’s friends at DOT are a bunch of tools for even suggesting that the agency copy Poland’s logo design and going ahead with the Pilipinas kay ganda BS. They’re a bunch of tools for using Tagalog in a slogan that’s supposed to sell the Philippines to foreign travelers. Last time I checked, we were the only country that spoke Tagalog because the rest of the world couldn’t even find any compelling reason why it should learn to use our language.

They’re a bunch of tools for buying and using the domain Beautifulpilipinas.com without even checking that it was just a letter different from the pornographic beautifulfilipinas.com. If I had P100 million to burn, I would even buy that porn domain and do something to promote the image of Filipinas online; just google “filipino women” and see for yourself what I mean. It’s a crying shame as well that we have an army of SEO “experts” yet we have allowed this image of half of our population to flourish online.

On the whole, branding is not the Philippines biggest concern. What the government should focus on in order to promote tourism are order and security, anti-littering, and local transportation. Everytime I step out on the street, I have to remind myself that there is a pickpocket always waiting in the background for me to let my guards down. Two months ago, I lost my wallet containing almost a thousand bucks, an ATM, a MasterCard, and a gold VISA.

Metro Manila and every other urban area in the Philippines is simply filthy, overcrowded and polluted. We can’t blame Claire Danes and Prince Charles for describing Manila as they saw: grimy, filthy and smelling of cockroaches. And by God, don’t even get me started on local transportation. That our buses are lethal is an understatement; it’s not everyday that you hear news of buses jumping off steep slopes and bridges because bus drivers have violated every traffic rule in the book to meet his quota, but the past months have seen tragedies happen involving buses. Trains are overcrowded, Metro buses clog and cause horrendous traffic jams on major roads, jeepneys are the bane of urban transportation, and there is a good chance that every other taxi driver is just a mugger behind the wheel. That is why when a cab driver returns a wallet or other valuables left behind by an unwitting passenger, it becomes news.

And where do our effing travel taxes go? I’ve been to other countries and through other airports, but not once was I asked to pay travel taxes except at NAIA or the dilapidated Manila Domestic. Recently, there is a plan to charge travelers 100 pesos for all the unpaid overtime rendered by airport staff. WTF?

So, Pilipinas kay ganda? It’s more like Pilipinas, ang daming disgrasya.

It will take ages before the world forgets the hostage-taking fiasco wherein the Philippine police, the local media and the government failed to protect the Hong Kong tourists who perished in the hands of a deranged ex-policeman. And no, I’m not buying either the excuse that the tragedy was an “isolated case” because while it doesn’t happen everyday that a cop takes a busload of tourists hostage and fires at them at close range when his demands are not met, what happened on 8/23 was a result of an endemic and systematic corruption in the government, the police force, and in our culture. We have just taken it for granted that corruption at a grand, deadly scale exists, full stop.