How Asia’s air pollution spreads across Earth

I saw this interesting video on how Asia’s air pollution spreads across Earth. I’m posting this here because I live in Asia—and a tropical country at that! And when you watch Hollywood disaster movies from recent years, tropical countries like the Philippines almost always gets immediately wiped out when doomsday comes. Not only are we vulnerable in Hollywood, we are vulnerable in real life, as well. Case in point: Stronger typhoons in the Philippines year after year. Onday. Haiyan. What’s next?

According to this Salon.com article titled

“Frightening video shows Asia’s air pollution spread across Earth”

this video from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, taken from 2006 to 2007, shows how aerosols travel via wind patterns across the planet. This results to stronger cyclones especially in tropical countries. How? When more water condenses onto the increased aerosols, this action releases more energy and eventually creates stronger Pacific storms.

Scary.

My favorite hot cups of coffee and chocolate in Baguio, Philippines

This coffee by Cafe by the Ruins is made special by the shell-shaped sugar that comes with it. I thought it was a cookie, but it turned out to be some form of brown sugar. Just drop it gingerly on your cup, stir, and enjoy! Or, you can do as I did -- I pretended it was a cookie and I turned it into "dessert"!

This coffee by Cafe by the Ruins is made special by the shell-shaped sugar that comes with it. I thought it was a cookie, but it turned out to be some form of brown sugar. Just drop it gingerly on your cup, stir, and enjoy! Or, you can do as I did — I pretended it was a cookie and I turned it into “dessert”!

This hot chocolate drink, called tskokolate de batirol, is an old fashioned way of serving our favorite cold weather drink. It is made by manually mixing and stirring real cacao balls from a special wooden stick called "batirol". When in Baguio, don't forget to visit this place named after this well-loved chocolate drink at Camp John Hay!

This hot chocolate drink, called tskokolate de batirol, is an old fashioned way of serving our favorite cold weather drink. It is made by manually mixing and stirring real cacao balls from a special wooden stick called “batirol”. When in Baguio, don’t forget to visit this place named after this well-loved chocolate drink at Camp John Hay!

I got a cup of civet coffee, supposedly the priciest coffee in the planet, for 100 pesos from Good Shepherd in Baguio. I didn't get it from a fancy cup, just a normal paper cup, but it tasted...oddly...weird. It was good, but weird. I paired it with Good Shepherd's oatmeal and strawberry muffin, which was one of the most authentic-tasting oatmeal muffins I've tried thus far. They didn't scrimp on the oatmeal and molasses so the 25 pesos that I parted with was money well-spent!

I got a cup of civet coffee, supposedly the priciest coffee in the planet, for 100 pesos from Good Shepherd in Baguio. I didn’t get it from a fancy cup, just a normal paper cup, but it tasted…oddly…weird. It was good, but weird. I paired it with Good Shepherd’s oatmeal and strawberry muffin, which was one of the most authentic-tasting oatmeal muffins I’ve tried thus far. They didn’t scrimp on the oatmeal and molasses so the 25 pesos that I parted with was money well-spent!

Healthy ingredients for healthy dishes at Clean Plate Restaurant

Clean Plate is one of the newest additions to the food haven that is the UP Town Center in Quezon City, Philippines. What differentiates it from the other restaurants in this joint is that Clean Plate is a green restaurant that serves sustainable and healthy dishes. Ingredients are chemical-free and fresh. And portions are big enough for one person so you can really literally have a clean plate when you finish your food.

Your dining experience is also made fun and exciting with this grass-topped dining table. So far, Clean Plate is the only restaurant I’ve seen with this kind of furniture. You really feel the fresh vibe of this restaurant with something as cool as this.

Clean Plate restaurant in UP Town Center has this unique grass-topped dining table that makes eating fun.  In this pic are eggplant parmigiana and a yummy fried chicken dish.

Clean Plate restaurant in UP Town Center has this unique grass-topped dining table that makes eating fun.
In this pic are free-range chicken and eggplant parmigiana and free-range chicken wings.

Food tends to be on the pricey side, which the restaurant tries to justify by making you do the math with the health benefits of buying chemical-free and natural ingredients versus contacting cancer or some other disease by buying commercially manufactured and mass-produced food.

Honey beef belly roast that's so tender and tasty.  The beef is grass-fed. The sauce is made with coco-honey reduction. One of my favorites!

Honey beef belly roast that’s so tender and tasty.  The beef is grass-fed. The sauce is made with coco-honey reduction. Be sure to pour this sauce generously over the beef before eating for maximum taste. One of my favorites!

Ragu, a light but filling pasta dish made from organic wheat pasta, grass-fed ground beef, pomodoro, and goat's milk cream. A must-try!

Ragu, a light but filling pasta dish made from organic wheat pasta, grass-fed ground beef, pomodoro, and goat’s milk cream. A must-try!

You know what, I forgot what this dish is called. But I fondly recall it as a  delicious twist to our usual paella.  The rice is moist and tasty like paella (or is it risotto?) so I know that it was carefully cooked. The chicken is fried to perfection and compliments the rice-based dish well.

You know what, I forgot what this dish is called. But I fondly recall it as a delicious twist to our usual paella. The rice is moist and tasty like paella (or is it risotto?) so I know that it was carefully cooked. The chicken is fried to perfection and compliments the rice-based dish well.

Pro-biotic chicken tocino, which basically means that this chicken was raised the healthy way. And then here's another pasta dish called Al Negra, which is organic wheat pasta generously topped with baby squid. Light, healthy, and yummy!

Pro-biotic chicken tocino, which basically means that this chicken was raised the healthy way. And then here’s another pasta dish called Al Negra, which is organic wheat pasta generously topped with baby squid. Light, healthy, and yummy!

weather

The weather can be poetic after all

I saw this poem the Poetry Daily e-newsletter today. I didn’t know weather can be a poetic subject after all. Well, now I know. 

And this poem is as moody as the weather, no? 

***

Climate Reply

Weather as if to repeat. Weather to read a name. 
As if to ask a question, weather to strip the mane,

to feed the cats, to sleep. Go inside, weather to weep, split the maw.

Plant the plants, weather to eat the dead, their roots as if to speak.

Weather to number the names, hold the sheets 
over bodies, blind as blue.        Weather as if to flame.

Scrape the storm of its howl. Cellar as if to swarm, night as if to rot.

Ground warm with flesh, ears as if to watch. Cover the eyes 
with weather, weigh them down with skin.

The dead’s steady hum, weather as if to win.  

 

Trey Moody
Thought That Nature 
Sarabande Books

Copyright © 2013 by Trey Moody
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.

Blog Action Day 2014: Wishing for a world with equal opportunities for all

Blog Action Day 2014 is about inequality. Today, I write about my vision for a world that values equality in terms of race and opportunities.

As an educated Filipino woman with a double masters degree, first in Communication (Philippines) and second in Korean Studies (Korea and Thailand). I became aware of the implications of my race and the accompanying opportunities it brings (and fails to bring) when I was an international student in Thailand and Korea. After I graduated from my second master’s degree, I began to have this sinking feeling that my double masters is also a double whammy – that of being Asian (and a Filipino at that!) and that of being a woman.

I was:

1. Conveniently ignored in international job applications despite my credentials. Between a Caucasian person and an Asian person with stellar CVs, skin color becomes the perceived accurate predictor of English language ability and suitability for the job. The Filipino woman’s stereotype as a domestic helper doesn’t help, either.

2. Experienced having my passport scrutinized at airport counters despite having a valid education visa. This more often happened in Korea rather than in Thailand. More often than not, I felt that staff often eyed me and my passport with suspicion. Observing white people in airports, this doesn’t seem to be a problem for them. They just show their passports and off they merrily go (or pass, as the case may be). While excessive scrutiny has been the extent to which I experienced discomfort, the inequality between treatment of a Filipino and a Caucasian is palpable.

3. Experienced being conveniently ignored while on an international holiday, especially in cases where white people are in one room or area with Asian (more so for Southeast Asian) people. When you’re an international student, travel and touring places is a must-do. I’ve experienced curt treatments in hostels in Thailand. Staff just give me and my fellow ASEAN travel mates the minimum politeness during our stay, whereas Caucasians are visibly pampered and lavished with attention. In Korea, me and my ASEAN-based friends experienced being semi-politely turned away in a job fair in school, whereas our Caucasian counterparts were given more chances to converse with recruiters and explore opportunities.

This made me wish for a world wherein:

1.  Asians value fellow Asians as much as Caucasians. I find it ironic that I am of the same race as Thai and Korean people, but am often put at the bottom of a hierarchy. This situation, of course, is different with my Thai and Korean friends and teachers, who know me and who treat me like family.

2. Suitability for jobs are based on credentials and personality instead of skin color or stereotypes. I wish for a world where I can compete globally based on merit. I wish for a world where, when people learn that I am a Filipino woman, I will not be lumped together with the stereotype of a domestic helper. I wish to shine as I truly am.

3. Filipinos can travel comfortably without being (silently) branded as a suspicious character or a potential threat. I also wish for a world where Filipinos who truly desire to see the world can freely do so without fear or worry of being discriminated against. I wish to travel like Caucasians do, that is, how they can go in and out of beautiful exotic destinations freely and experience the pleasures and joys of learning about various cultures.

I wish for this vision to become a reality. I was given the rare opportunity to learn and see the world as an international student, and I saw that the world has so much to offer to everyone. If true equality becomes a reality, then that potential to taste what the world has to offer can be equally given to everyone.

I got my COMET GETPass already!

I got my COMET GETPass already. I figured I might as well get one since I found myself near the COMET loading station, anyway. For 20 pesos (or around 45 cents), this card will get me from Katipunan to SM North/ Trinoma for free until October 9. After that, I will have to top-up this card so I can pay for my fare.

COMET GETPass

The tap-in, tap-out system reminds me of the transport card I used in Seoul when I lived there. I used it for bus rides and for subway rides. Although this COMET GETPass can only be used on the e-shuttle, it’s a gentle reminder for me that public transportation in Manila is gradually improving.

I’m quite excited to use this card! I will support this because this is the kind of public transportation we deserve.

COMETs are coming! (E-jeepneys now in Quezon City)

Just when I was starting to live like a total hermit (with occasional trips to the nearest shopping mall, the nearest supermarket, and church), hope sprung again when I saw this article online. There are many reasons to love Quezon City in the Philippines. There’s the city’s laid-back vibe as seen in areas like the Maginhawa Street food strip, Tomas Morato, UP Town Center, and the Trinoma and SM North Edsa mall area. The country’s two best universities are housed here. And then this: eco-friendly and rider-friendly e-jeepneys called COMETs (City Optimized Managed Electric Transport) now ply the LRT Katipunan – Trinoma route!

But wait, there’s more. Thirty e-jeepneys are just the beginning. Soon, we will see more routes and more jeepneys, which will bring us an overload of good vibes:

  • An eco-friendly upgrade to the iconic Philippine jeepneys. Sure, it’s not as colorful and crazily decorated as the jeepneys we’d come to love, but that can be fixed. What’s important is that they now use lithium ion batteries which lessens too much dependence on oil. This also means (hopefully!) less transport strikes which cripple our movements around the city!
  • Safer jeepney design.  We passengers don’t have to worry about getting accidentally hit by upcoming cars on the road because the door is now located at the side of the jeepney, allowing us to board safely from sidewalks. And whenever the rains relentlessly beat the pavement and floods ensue, these jeepneys can still brave the roads, thanks to hydraulic wheels that can rise by one foot.
  • More orderly boarding and alighting, plus some creature comforts for the tech-savvy commuter. We all know that the way jeepneys (and other forms of public transportation) randomly stop at various parts of the road causes traffic. This behavior also reinforces lack of discipline among people, both drivers and passengers. It seems that a more orderly way of commuting is about to be institutionalized through the COMET. The COMET has designated stops which are actually followed from LRT Katipunan to Trinoma and vice versa. Passengers conveniently pay for the fare via a card that they tap-in when boarding and tap-out when alighting.  What’s more, this e-jeepney also housess some creature comforts for the tech-savvy: GPS and Wifi connection, flat screen TV that displays news and ads, CCTV camera for monitoring the safety of passengers, and continuous communication between the COMET command center and e-jeepney to effectively forsee and manage congestion to and from the destination. I like this a lot because it resembles my bus adventures while I was studying in Seoul. Very convenient!
  •  Better compensation for drivers. Gone are the days when jeepney drivers are unsure of how much they will bring home to their family – or if they will bring anything substantial at all. By being a COMET driver, they are given monthly salaries plus benefits. Here, drivers, passengers, and the environment wins. What’s good for one sector is also good for the others. A dream come true.

According to the aforementioned Rappler article, this is the COMET’s route. I haven’t tried it yet but I’m excited!

COMET e-jeepney route from LRT Katipunan to Trinoma, and vice versa. Taken from http://www.rappler.com/nation/69948-quezon-city-electric-shuttles-operational.

COMET e-jeepney route from LRT Katipunan to Trinoma, and vice versa. Taken from http://www.rappler.com/nation/69948-quezon-city-electric-shuttles-operational.

environmental news network logo

This morning’s interesting articles @ Environmental News Network

environmental news network logoEnvironmental News Network is a website that posts a comprehensive selection of environment-related news everyday. I’ve been a newsletter subscriber since 2010 or thereabouts, so I’ve always had interesting news to read in my inbox everyday since then.

Today I want to share two of the most interesting news items I found. Well, interesting for me, at least.

First is an article titled “Why It’s Important to Rinse Recyclables. It’s interesting for me because  it’s common sense to rinse recyclables for sanitary and health reasons, but it’s not always done. An article like this is a great reminder why it’s important. Among the reasons cited here are efficiency (it makes sorting recyclables at the recycling plant easier and faster), health and sanitation (you wouldn’t want to attract yucky molds and pests anywhere near your recyclables, right?), and higher income (the cleaner the recyclable, the higher the grade and consequently, the price).

But for me, the most important reason for rinsing recyclables is the health and sanitation aspect of it. We recycle to limit waste and unnecessary consumption, but more often than not, the health and sanitation aspect is forgotten. It shouldn’t be. It should go hand in hand. A healthy environment means having healthy people around, as well.

This is also the reason why I believe that reusable eating utensils (spoons, forks, plates) is better than disposable plastic utensils–to a certain extent. That is, reusable eating utensils is better as long as these are rinsed and kept well. After all, what’s good about using earth-friendly things if they are not clean and sanitary enough for human usage, right? Who wants disease with their burger and fries, right?

Second is an article titled “Disc or Download: A Virtual Energy-Savings Debate”. This one talks about how carbon footprint in consuming video games is surprisingly more efficient when you buy the Blu-ray version of the game rather than downloading it online. The common way of thinking is that it’s more environment-friendly to download it, because Blu-ray entails energy consumed from the production of the disc itself plus transportation costs. But a systematic study by the Journal of Industrial Ecology proved otherwise.

So those are new stuff I learned today. Hope you also learned something new from these, too! Happy reading!

Tried and Tested: Pure Strength 100% Natural Deodorant by Human Nature

I know, I know. It’s a deodorant for men and I happen to be a woman. But that didn’t stop me from using Human Nature’s Pure Strength 100% Natural Deodorant. I have two reasons for this. 

1. It’s a natural deodorant that screams STRENGTH based from its name alone. As an urban warrior in a tropical country, I need something stronger than my girly deodorant (also from Human Nature). I move around the city a lot via public transportation, so the heat can be unbearable. Even when the rain gives a short-lived and cool respite, I still want to be protected from unpleasant body odor. So that’s why I made the switch.

2. It smells cleaner and more refreshing than my girly deodorant, thanks to bergamot and rosemary essential oils. I would like a variant that has a minty, cool scent, though. I hope Human Nature releases one soon.

I’ve been using this deodorant for about a month now and I must say it works so much better than my girly deodorant. I leave home feeling and smelling fresh and I come home feeling and smelling fresh. I will continue using Human Nature’s Pure Strength deodorant for sure…until a minty variant comes along. ^^