Wednesday, February 21, 2018

PayPal Ending Partnership With GCash?

One thing I completely abhor about the digital age is that all it takes is one disgruntled "tech user" to come up with a rumor and pass it off as fact. I woke up this morning with a lot of chatter among the Filipino freelancing community that PayPal has "officially" ended its business relationship with GCash. According to the rumor, PayPal got tired of the hundreds of complaints it kept on getting from GCash users. So they had to pull the plug.

So I did a little bit of digging. Nope, there's no official announcement that PayPal has indeed severed its relationship with GCash. All I know is that during the last several days, a lot of people have been encountering problems when they attempt to transfer their PayPal funds to their GCash accounts. People had been unable to use the service for days. When asked what's going on, Globe's customer support representatives usually parrot the following answer: "GCash transactions are temporarily unavailable due to emergency maintenance".

Some support representatives went as far as saying that the downtime will only be until February 20. Well, it's already February 21 and the service is still unavailable.

The bottom line here is that GCash is unavailable right now. It has been unavailable for days now. But that doesn't mean the service's partnership with PayPal is over. I say it again, there's no official announcement of the severance. As of now, that's just a rumor.

Here's a copy of a reply of one of GCash's support representatives when asked what's going on: "We're sorry but PayPal to GCash is currently under maintenance until Tuesday. Rest assured that it will be up the next day. Apologies for the inconvenience."

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

3 Dead, 6 Injured In A Road Accident Along Halsema Highway In Cattubo, Atok, Benguet

Three people died while six others were injured when their van fell off a ravine along Halsema Highway on Tuesday afternoon. The incident occurred within the vicinity of barangay Cattubo in Atok, Benguet. The passenger van came from Bauko, Mt. Province and was on its way to Baguio City.

According to an incident report by the Atok municipal police station, the van tried to overtake a truck when it swerved off the road and fell off a mountain slope that's around 300 meters high. The van was owned and driven by Rey Carias Batong.

The fatalities have been identified as follows:
1. Lourdes Payacda Balog-ang, 69, senior citizen, native of Bila, Bauko, Mt. Province and resident of #03 Purok 6, Irisan, Baguio
2. Mateo Elector Loy-odan Ngade, 34, married, mechanic, native and resident of Tadian, Mt. Province
3. Rey Carias Batong, 38, married, native and resident of Guinzadan Norte, Bauko, Mt. Province

Those injured are:
1. Jessy Keth Cambolo Panisigan, 6, F, Grade 1 Pupil at Star Colleges, Pico, La Trinidad, Benguet;
2. Kyra Panisigan Batawag, 4, F
3. Glenda Panisigan Batawang, 41, Housewife, all native of Guinzadan, Bauko, Mt. Province and a residents of Lubas, La Trinidad, Benguet
4. Marilyn Pacio Tomayo, 41, housewife, native of Guinzadan, Bauko, Mt. Province and resident of Poliwes, Baguio City
5. Apolonia Pacalso, 68, native and resident of Bana-ao, Tadian, Mt. Province
6. David Ingaan Caoili Jr., 59, married, native and resident of Bana-ao, Tadian, Mt. Province

The accident occurred around 1:50 in the afternoon. Responders and rescuers included volunteers and personnel of the Atok MPS, Atok BFP, MDRRMC, and DPWH. Retrieval and rescue operations ended around 5:45 of the same afternoon.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Applications For SM Foundation College Scholarships Extended Until January 31, 2018

Don't ever let the lack of funds turn into a hindrance in pursuing higher education. If there's a will, there's a way. Proper education and determination - these are the two most important things you need to set yourself up for a better future. And it's great that we have organizations like the SM Foundation, Inc. offering educational scholarships for deserving students. You should take your chance with this one.

The application for the SM Foundation's college scholarship program was supposed to end on December last year but they've decided to extend it until the end of this month (January). It's open to public high school graduates in the areas covered. For all the information you need to apply, visit the foundation's website at: [].

a. Public high school graduates in the areas covered:
b. Private high school graduates with DepEd voucher after completing Grade 10 from public schools in the areas covered:

Areas Covered:
Luzon : NCR, Albay, Batangas, Benguet, Bulacan, Cagayan, Camarines Sur, Cavite, Isabela, Laguna, Nueva Ecija, Palawan, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Quezon, Rizal, Tarlac, Zambales

Visayas : Capiz, Cebu, Iloilo, Leyte, Negros Occidental
Mindanao : Agusan del Norte, Davao del Sur, Misamis Oriental, South Cotobato, Zamboanga del Sur

c. Fourth year or Gr. 12 weighted average grade of at least 88% in the second or third grading period.
d. Total household income of at most P150,000 per year

Courses Offered:
a. BS in Computer Science
b. BS in Information Technology
c. BS in Electronics and Communications Engineering/ BS In Electronics Engineering
d. BS in Computer Engineering
e. BS in Civil Engineering
f. BS in Electrical Engineering
g. BS in Mechanical Engineering
h. BS in Elementary Education
i. BS in Secondary Education major in Biology, Chemistry, General Sciences, Physics, Mathematics, English
j. BS in Accountancy
k. BS in Accounting Information Systems
l. BS in Internal Auditing
m. BS in Management Accounting

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Vehicular Accident In Itogon, Benguet Claims 3 Lives (3 Others Were Seriously Injured)

Three people including two children died when their car fell off a 50-meter ravine in the borders of Tinongdan, Itogon and Ambuklao, Bokod on Saturday afternoon (January 6). Three other passengers aboard the Toyota Hilux car were injured and brought to nearby hospitals for medical treatment and observation.

According to local police, the car was traversing the Benguet-Nueva Vizcaya road when the car swerved off the highway and fell off the cliff. The car just came from Baguio City and was on its way to Nueva Vizcaya.

Those who perished in the incident were identified as Judea Layno (13 years old), Juleah Layno (9 years old), and Fely Layno (60 years old). Those who suffered injuries are Jeofel Berlito Layno (43 years old), Judith Layno (39 years old), and Joriech Layno (2 years old). They are all natives and residents of the province of Nueva Vizcaya.

Jeofel, the driver of the car, is a police officer and assigned at the Dupax del Norte Municipal Police Station in Nueva Vizcaya. The authorities are still investigating as to the cause of the incident. The accident happened early in the afternoon under a fairly good weather so road visibility was clear.
Rescuers and volunteers at the site of the accident. Photo credit: Bokod Municipal Police Station
In light of the event, motorists and tourists traversing the tricky roads of the Cordillera region are being advised to be more careful with their driving.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Panagbenga Festival 2018 Schedule Of Events

With less than four weeks to go, the 23rd edition of the annual Panagbenga Festival is right around the corner. With the theme "Celebration of Culture and Creativity", the city aims to showcase once again its status as one of the most culturally-rich urban centers in the country. It also happens that the city is just a couple of months removed from being declared a "creative city" by the United Nations.

The festival will kick off with an opening ceremony on the first day of February. The highlights of the celebrations will be the Grand Street Dance Parade and Grand Float Parade that will happen on February 24 and 25, respectively. Below is the schedule for the main and traditional events of the festival. This schedule doesn't include events and activities organized by parties other than City Hall and the official festival organizers.
February 1
a.      Panagbenga Opening Ceremony and Parade
b.      Drum and Lyre Competion – Elimination Round (Elementary Division)
Panagbenga Park – Session Road – Athletic Bowl
February 1 – March 4
Baguio Blooms Exposition and Exhibition
Juan Luna and Lake Drive in Burnham Park
February 11
a.      Handog ng Panagbenga sa Pamilya Baguio
b.      Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom
c.       Panagbenga Open Kite Flying Competition
d.      Panagbenga Cultural Show
Melvin Jones Grandstand and Football Grounds
February 14
a.      School-based competitions
b.      Floral arrangement contest for elementary and high school
School campuses
February 15 – February 17
a.      School-based competitions
b.      Landscaping competition
School campuses
February 16 – February 18
PMA Alumni Homecoming Weekend
Philippine Military Academy
February 16
Flower Tee Open Golf Tournament
Baguio Country Club, Camp John Hay
February 17
Spring Festival/Chinese New Year
February 24
Grand Street Dance Parade
Panagbenga Park, Session Road, Maharlika, Harrison Road, Athletic Bowl
February 24 – February 25
Exhibitors and Sponsors Day
Ganza Parking Area
February 25
Grand Float Parade
DILG, Session Road, Maharlika, Harrison Road, Melvin Jones Football Grounds
February 26 – March 4
Session Road in Bloom
Session Road
March 3
Pony Boys Day
Wright Park
March 4
a.      Closing Ceremonies and Awarding
b.      Grand Fireworks Display
Baguio Athletic Bowl

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Roofless Arts Studio Of Artist Jordan Mang-osan In La Trinidad, Benguet

Tucked within the close-knit community in Bayabas, La Trinidad, Benguet is a unique three-story building. It stands out from the rest of the landscape. Colorful banners fly on its rooftop. Totem poles adorned with animal skulls and dreamcatchers stick out to meet the cloudy Cordilleran sky. If you enter the building and take the dozens of steps to the roof, you’ll find a replica of a “dap-ay.”

The building is home to artist Jordan Mang-osan and his Roofless Arts Studio. Inside is a huge collection of his works (completed paintings and those still in progress). Down-to-earth and hospitable almost to a fault, Mang-osan welcomes his visitors with a ready smile and cups of brewed coffee.

Mang-osan is mostly well-known for his meticulously rendered solar paintings. His subjects and themes usually revolve around Cordillera landscapes, Igorot culture, Igorot public figures, and national celebrities. Adorning the walls of the studio are portraits of Whang-od, Dulag Macliing, Carrot Man, martial artists of Team Lakay, Pia Wurtzbach, Manny Pacquiao, and President Rodrigo Duterte.

Also inside the studio are Mang-osan’s work tables and the tools of his trade. Hanging on a wall at the roof are the various glass lenses he uses to create his unique art. Sitting idly nearby is a huge block of plywood featuring a yet to be completed landscape painting.

Mang-osan says that he isn’t always at his Roofless Arts Studio. Groups who want to visit will have to make an appointment to make sure that he’ll be there when they visit.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Endangered Mossy Forests of Kabayan, Benguet

Through a message sent by a concerned reader, it came to my attention that the mayor of the nearby town of Kabayan in Benguet seems to be serious about the idea of cancelling out the declaration of Mount Pulag as a protected national park. The mountain and its surrounding forests were declared as a national park back in 1987. This declaration was instrumental in protecting the mountain and the surrounding forest reserves.

Now, Gideon Todiano, Mayor of Kabayan wants this declaration nullified. If he pursues this, it would be very bad for the park. In an article published by the Bombo Radyo Baguio website, Todiano cites problems with the management of the park as among the reasons why he’s adamant about the issue. He also cites the unclear role of the town in managing the park, unresolved land claims, and millions of pesos of unpaid taxes due to the unresolved land claims.

Todiano raises a lot of valid points here and these are really serious matters but I don’t think that removing Mt. Pulag’s tag as a national park will resolve the issues. In the short-run, maybe. But in the long-run, it will be disastrous not only to the mountain and the surrounding forest reserves but to the town of Kabayan as well. With that said, I hope that Todiano, the town, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources talk over things and resolve issues without resorting to this bizarre idea of undeclaring the place as a national park.

And let us not forget that the Mt. Pulag National Park covers not just Mt. Pulag itself but numerous mountains and forests within Benguet, Ifugao, and Nueva Vizcaya.

Early this year, we climbed Mt. Tabayoc and explored the nearby lakes and mossy forests in Ballay, Kabayan. These places are still parts of the Mt. Pulag National Park. Huge swaths of the mossy forests have already been converted into farm lands. The speed of how forests are turned into farm lands can double or even triple if the place is no longer a national park. It will be open season for everyone.

Of course, it’s understandable that the people in Kabayan need land to farm. But let’s not forget that Pulag, Tabayoc, the lakes, and the mossy forests are watersheds. If these forests are gone, there’d be no source of water to irrigate the farm lands. There should be balance in everything. These are the only remaining mossy forest covers in the province. Again, I’m hoping that Todiano, the town of Kabayan, and the DENR resolve issues surrounding the park without having to “undeclare” it as a national park. I'm confident that they can come up with solutions that will protect both the mountains, the mossy forests, and the interests of the town's citizens.

Here are some photos from the trip we made in Mt. Tabayoc in Ballay, Kabayan several months ago. The place is beautiful with its mossy forest covers and lakes. These places are worth saving and protecting.