Homestay and traveling solo in Suncheon made easy by BnB Hero

Traveling solo has been on my bucket list since I started watching Ian Wright in awe at Discovery Channel’s Lonely Planet in high school. Although I’ve traveled in many parts of the world already for the past __ number of years, I still haven’t mustered up the courage to backpack by myself. It’s always been with family and friends.

I took the Mugunghwa train from Yongsan Station in Seoul to Suncheon City. It took me around 5 hours. A very long trip, indeed! I took the KTX going back from Sincheon to Seoul — only 3 hours! ^^

But thanks to the opportunity presented by BnB Hero, I finally did it. As my prize for churning out one of the best blogs about the Seongju Life and Culture Festival, I was given a free homestay at Suncheon for the Suncheon Bay International Garden Expo.

The entrance to the Suncheon Bay International Garden Expo

Truth to tell, this wasn’t on my list of things to visit in Seoul since I am not fond of gardens. But I’m glad I soldiered on, anyway.

I bought the night ticket on my first day, since I arrived at Suncheon late in the afternoon. And on the second day, I bought the one-day pass.

Not only did I see the ecologically friendly Suncheon City, I also experienced the joy of living with a Korean family.

Beside me is Tina, my beautiful and kind homestay host!

Initially, I was concerned about traveling solo and staying with an unfamiliar family for 3 days and 2 nights. I voiced these concerns with BnB Hero and they helpfully arranged things for me. They recommended a nice apartment room for me that’s owned by a very kind woman named Tina.

Breakfast was included in the deal, and woah, what a big breakfast it was! It was my first real Korean breakfast that’s not in the school dormitory, kekeke. Tina and her husband cooked it together. What a loving family there are.

Tina also spoke English well, as she was an English teacher. So for foreigners like me who are worried about communication barriers, there’s nothing like that when you stay with Tina.

There were a lot of beautiful gardens in the Expo! One whole day is not enough to explore! You need two—or more!

I also feel I got lucky in my first homestay. The room was clean, the host was nice, and she even accompanied me in some trips, like at the Suncheon Bay Garden Expo and at the Suncheon Drama Set!

The awesomely serene Suncheon Bay! Entrance came free with my Garden Expo ticket purchase. There’s also a free shuttle to take you there. Easy-peasy! ^^

A panoramic shot of the Suncheon Drama Set. Entrance also came free with my purchase of a Garden Expo ticket. Just take Bus 777 to get here. But luckily, for me, Tina kindly accompanied me!

All in all, this trip made me braver in terms of traveling solo. Korea is such a safe and easy place to travel around in. And with the help of BnB Hero, your travel is bound to be safe, easy, economical and fun!

Eco Art & Music Fest Fundraiser Opens January 19 at Conspiracy Garden Café

I love going to art exhibits and music fests, and this seems like a good one. It’s also a fundraiser for the benefit of helping save the pawikan, an endagered species in the Philippines. Too bad I’m not in Manila for this!

I got this press release from the event organizers.

http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac205/organicgeek/Poster-EndDanger.jpgAn art exhibit and music fest fundraiser for Save Philippine Seas’ Pawikan Watchers program opens on January 19, 2013 at the Conspiracy Garden Café, Quezon City.

EndDanger, which features mixed media artworks from the group Artists for Nature and performances from Flying Ipis and other music bands, calls attention to the growing problem of animal endangerment in the Philippines and encourages the community to get involved in conservation and protection efforts.

Although gifted with a rich and biologically diverse ecosystem, from lush forests to a vibrant marine life, our country’s natural resources have significantly dwindled over time. Animal species, in particular, are under increasing threat from habitat destruction, pollution and commercial exploitation. Many are now in the verge of extinction.

The artists and organizers behind EndDanger seek to raise funds for the monitoring of one of the Philippines’ most threatened species, the pawikan. All proceeds from the event’s ticket sales will go to the Pawikan Watchers training program, which Save Philippine Seas (SPS)—an independent movement that fights abuse of our aquatic resources through legal discourse and social media—launched in cooperation with Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB).

Pawikan Watchers aims to educate volunteers from different parts of the Philippines on the ecology and biology of, and PAWB-approved guidelines for, handling sea turtles. Apart from raising funds, Artists for Nature sees the exhibit as an opportunity to broaden public awareness of the urgent need to preserve our wildlife.

The art exhibit runs up to February 8, 2013. Conspiracy Garden Café is located at 59 Visayas Avenue, Project 6, Quezon City.

For opening night tickets or more information, please contact Wendi Garcia at +639162742859 or artistsfornature@gmail.com. Like them on Facebook www.facebook.com/artistsfornature and follow them on Twitter www.twitter.com/artists4nature for updates.

Eco Art Exhibit Fundraiser Opens May 4 at Renaissance Gallery Megamall

Below is a press release sent by Mike Garcia, one of a group of young artists holding an art exhibit fundraiser for marine environment protection. 

Manila (May, 2012) – An art exhibit centering on marine environment conservation opens on May 4 at the Renaissance Gallery in Megamall. “Sa Asul o Sa Itim” features the works of young artists Mike Garcia, Willhen Peneyra, Ezra Reverente and Allan Calingansan.

The artists’ oil and mixed media artworks focus on marine environment issues like destructive and overfishing, coastal infrastructure and tourism, and mismanagement of fisheries. The purpose of the exhibit is to raise public awareness on marine life protection as well as raise funds for environmental projects.

Ultimately, “Sa Asul o Sa Itim” aims to challenge everyone to translate this higher environmental awareness into concrete action by making the right choice and participating in concerted and individual efforts to save the marine ecosystem.

The proceeds of the exhibit will go to Eco-Sys Action’s Whale Shark Project in Donsol, Bicol Region. Eco-Sys Action is an environmental foundation based in Hong Kong, Valence France, and Nairobi Kenya that works to preserve threatened species and their habitats while improving the health, education and economic conditions of local communities.

The foundation’s initial projects in Donsol have already taken off. These include the establishment of marine library with a permanent exhibition on whale shark protection, distribution of educational materials in schools all over the region, establishment of mini clinics along the coastal areas, and set-up of microenterprises such as small garden cultivation and beekeeping activities.

Renaissance Gallery is located at the 4th floor of Megamall Building A in Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong. The exhibit will run until May 11. 

About the artists 

This art show will feature young artists Mike Garcia, Willhen Peneyra, Ezra Reverente and Allan Calingasan.

Mike Garcia graduated from the University of Santo Tomas in 2006 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts, Major in Painting. He worked as a flash animator for a Korean cartoon illustration company before transferring to Eco-Sys Action, a Hong Kong-based environmental foundation promoting conservation efforts in different countries. For three years, he worked as a graphic designer and cartoon illustrator for this foundation. Early this year, he decided to pursue his passion for painting and become a full-time artist. He will have his first solo show in Switzerland this coming September.

Willhen Peneyra earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts, Major in Visual Communication from the University of the Philippines in 2009. Apart from graduating with cum laude honors, he was also recognized in art competitions like the 2008 Actmedia In-Store Media Design Competition and 2009 Magnolia Tub Wrap Design Competition, where he both got first place. After working as a graphic designer for an advertising agency, he and his girlfriend Karen decided to put up their own online design company, Resident Alien. Willhen is also a senior artist at Pencil Head Creative Studio, also an online company.

Allan Calingasan is a graduate from the University of Santo Tomas, holding a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts, Major in Painting. He is currently on his way to earn his Master’s Degree from the same university. Since he graduated in 2005, he has worked for UST as a layout artist, publication staff and office assistant.

Ezra Reverente is also a Thomasian who earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts, Major in Painting in 2005. He bagged Thesis of the Year when he graduated. Among his various recognitions include representing the Philippines at the International Exchange Exhibition of Design and Craft at Japan 2004, winning Juror’s choice (top 5) 1st GSIS Painting Competition 2004,  and being a finalist (top 4) in the PLDT-DPC art competition in 2004.

Children and climate change

A special focus on children must be given when addressing the issue of climate change. According to this article in Our World, children in East Asia are more vulnerable to climate change than adults for the following reasons:

1) In terms of health, children are physically weaker because they have less developed bodies than adults

2) Psychologically, children are also easily affected because of their age and limited life experience

3) Social impacts of climate change also affect children especially in education, as children are usually forced by parents of families hit by natural disasters to quit schooling in order to help the family rebuild their lives.

The article gives a ray of hope, though, because it points out that children are optimistic about facing climate change and doing something about it. Some possess knowledge on how the physical impacts of climate change are related with institutional and social impacts.

Moreover, the article also reminds us that educating children early on about the environment develops their love and concern for it, which in turn, will motivate them to protect our world.

Food security in an unsecure environment (A lecture video)

I’m sharing with you a lecture video on “Food Security in an Unsecure Environment” held during the SC Johnson-Ateneo Environmental Leadership Forum at the Ateneo de Manila University on September 9, 2011. Enjoy! It’s Blog Action Day 2011! #BAD11

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Gift Ideas for Christmas: Pathways Grains of Hope and Pathways Winning Brew

From the Pathways Website:

Make Christmas more meaningful with gifts from the Pathways to Higher Education. Every year, our Pathways scholars lovingly pack products grown and harvested by our Filipino farmers that are full of flavor and free from chemicals. Our Grains of Hope and Winning Brew will surely delight family and friends, for with them comes the true spirit of Christmas. With each Pathways gift, both you and your loved ones participate in the noble mission of Pathways in enabling more public high school students in achieving their dream of pursuing a college education.

To download the catalog, to place orders or for inquiries, go here.

Water talks (My Blog Action Day post)

I am re-posting the Ateneo Website article I wrote titled “Come Hell and High Water: The Challenge of Freshwater Resources” for My Blog Action Day post for this year. I think this is apt in the Philippine setting.

Water talks

date posted: 2010-09-07 17:32:35
By Michelle Camille Correa, UCPRO and Joanna Ruiz, LSVPO

3rd S.C. Johnson-Ateneo Environmental Leadership Forum tackles water management

“Water is very difficult to manage because it means many things to many people,” said Dr. Fabian Dayrit, dean of the School of Science and Engineering, during the 3rd S.C. Johnson-Ateneo Environmental Leadership Forum.  Dubbed “Come Hell and High Water: The Challenge of Freshwater Resources,” the talk was held on September 2, 2010 at the Leong Hall of the Ateneo Loyola Heights campus.

Because water as a resource means different things to different people, the best approach to managing it, according to Dr. Dayrit, is to adopt the stakeholder approach, which takes into account the concerns of those directly connected to water. In this case, these are the government, the private sector and the community. These stakeholders were represented in the forum by the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), the Manila Water Company and the Save Lake Lanao Movement, respectively. Laguna de Bay in Luzon and Lake Lanao in Mindanao were the freshwater resources in focus.

Bebet Gozun, the forum moderator, stressed the urgency of…CONTINUE READING HERE.

 

Davao Vacation Part 4: Philippine Eagle Center

The Philippine Eagle Center. This is my most favorite part for the following reasons:

1. It was Philippine Eagle Week when we came so the entrance fee was waved! What luck, huh? Since entrance was free, a lot of people explored the park, which made walking around the vast mini-forest much more fun. Lots of people visiting also means there were a lot of people who learned about the Philippine Eagle.

The Philippine Eagle Center entrance. It was Philippine Eagle Week when we came so entrance was free! Lucky, lucky! Whee! Photo by Me.

2. We were guided by a very young but bright girl scout from Davao named Diane Baldwin. She’s an incoming high school student and she toured us around, showing us the Philippine Eagles living in the Center.

This is Diane Baldwin, a young girl scout who toured us around the Philippine Eagle Center. She's very bright and she taught us a lot about the Philippine Eagles living in the Center. I wish more kids were like her. Photo by Me.

3. The vast green expanse of the park was perfect for picnics. Too bad we didn’t have food with us. This made me realize how lucky Davao people are for living there. They are so close to nature–from lush forests to beautiful beaches–that it’s probably one of the Philippines’ ideal places to raise a family. Or to retire in.

There's a park inside where families and friends can have a fun picnic. Photo by Me.

4. The Philippine Eagles were beautiful. Seeing them up close was a privilege.

If there’s one place I’d like to go back to in Davao next time, this would probably be it. I really enjoyed my time here, and I’d like to know more about the Philippine Eagle. Being toured by a bright kid who cared enough to learn even the animals’ scientific names at the Center helped me believe more in the Center’s advocacy, too.

Up next: A very sweet and exotic ending to my Davao vacation. =)

Davao Vacation Part 2: Monfort Bat Cave in Samal Island

Beach bumming was good but we had to stretch our legs at some point in our stay at Paradise Resort so we booked one of the resort’s many nature trips.

Our first stop was the Monfort Bat Cave. As the name implied, we visited…bats.

 

Entrance to the Monfort Bat Cave. You pay a really small fee for a guided tour--less than 50 pesos. Photo by Me.

 

Because of our visit here, we had a newfound appreciation for bats. According to our guide, the Monfort Bat Cave is some sort of a sanctuary for these night creatures. Whether old bats or young bats, they have their place here. Our first cave was a space for the oldies.

 

This is the cave where old bats stay. Oldies stick together, apparently. Photo by Me.

 

The next caves were all occupied by young ones, like the picture below. There’s even another cave exclusively for mating bats…Talk about privacy! But then again, all the mating bats were in one cave, so it’s more of “classification” and “stratification” more than the “privacy” we humans know.

See the black, mountain-like elevation in the pic below? That’s actually bat shit.

 

This cave is where the young ones stay. The uber-black mountain-like elevation is actually their...shit! Hehehe! Photo by Me.

 

Walking around Monfort was actually a stinky experience made bearable by the funny facts and trivia shared by the guide. We still enjoyed it, though, since we like little funny facts.

Bats are of course, asleep at this time. And it’s pretty safe here, unless you intentionally hurt bats by throwing stones at them or something, at which point they’ll bite you and attack you with rabies many times stronger than a dog’s. =)

We enjoyed our stay here, and I hope you can come visit, too! Up next: Water fun somewhere that’s not the beach! Watch for it!

PEMSEA Visit

This giant globe at the PEMSEA lobby teaches you about the East Asian seas.

Last week, my fellow graduate school student Jessica and I visited PEMSEA, or Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia, for our project for our Development Communication class. We interviewed Ms. Anna Rita Cano on PEMSEA’s communication strategies and programs. We’re supposed to analyze and assess its strengths and weaknesses, after which we’re supposed to give our recommendations. I know a half-day visit isn’t enough to give a comprehensive picture of an organization, or even to critique it, but we will do our best.

What preoccupied me and Jessica while waiting for Ms. Cano were the magazines at the lobby, as well as the giant globe detailing the water currents around East Asia’s waters. Switching the lights on and off and looking at the lines and arrows where water is supposed to be was a learning experience in itself.