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.

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.

Preference for eco-friendly products is on the rise in SG

This article from Channel News Asia says that preference for eco-friendly products is on the rise in Singapore. That’s good news!

The article cautions, though, that eco-friendly consciousness “will take a long time”.  Also, the preference for green products seems to be primary motivated by economic factors, such as saving energy. It’s good to note, though, that “eco-retail, fashion, food and beverage are also on the rise, even if slowly.”

Let’s also hope, too, that this won’t lead to the phenomenon known as greenwashing. Fingers crossed!

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

Shaping Up With Shibashi

So…someone needs to shape up. Stress really can take its toll on one’s figure and well-being, which calls for a disciplined exercise routine every morning.

Enter shibashi, which used to mean for me a tacky exercise style to be performed solely for obtaining a decent grade in my high school PE class years ago. But not anymore.

I recently revived an interest in it due to my need for a low-impact but effective morning exercise. Thus, I searched for videos online and found this on Youtube:

I chose this video for its simplicity and quality. I like that the instructor speaks in clear English, which I understand. And most importantly, this video is the easiest shibashi tutorial to follow not only for the language but also for the excellent camerawork where the cam focused on what what needed to be focused on. Various angles were used to make the steps easy to follow.

For the uninitiated, shibashi is defined as “a gentle set of Qigong exercise that can be performed whilst seated or standing.” It has a number of health benefits, including improved balance, reduced blood pressure, greater control over breathing, pain reduction, and increased flexibility, among others, according to this website.

Although I’m not back to my college weight yet, I’ve noticed some significant improvement in the way my clothes fit me since I started my routine last May. This was achieved in combination with a healthy diet (mostly fish, fruits and veggies) and regular brisk walking. I must say getting re-acquainted with shibashi has been good to me. Next up: tai chi and hip hop abs!

Sanuk’s Happy Half Promo just upped my collection to…9 pairs of sandals! Squee!

The Rain Dance Yoga Mat slippers and Pay Raise flip-flops are two new additions to my growing Sanuk collection. I chose the yoga mat slippers for its buttery softness–I feel like walking on Cloud 9! I chose the Pay Raise flip-flops because the wedge design makes me look a little taller.  Again, I got these new pairs at a hefty discount!

Last week, Sanuk launched their Happy Half promo for the benefit of public school children. For a 50-peso donation, Sanuk fans were given a 50% discount on selected Sanuk sandals. The P50 is for a school kit composed of notebooks, pens, pad papers, and more for kids coming to school this June.

I say this is a brilliant promo – we fans got our Sanuks at half the price, and public school kids will get new supplies for free!

I love adobo because…

While looking over tweets this afternoon, I chanced upon a contest being held by @Binalot for Twitter. The mechanics is simple. People just have to complete this sentence “Dear @Binalot i love adobo because…” and if one’s entry is chosen, he or she will win Binalot’s new bottled ADOBO FLAKES plus Orosman & Zafira tickets.

I’m not sure which one’s better, the adobo flakes or the theater tickets—I love them both! Adobo is one of my fave foods, especially when paired with itlog na maalat, fresh chopped tomatoes and atsara. Orosman & Zafira, meanwhile, is a play I fell in awe with the first time I saw it at UP. I wouldn’t mind seeing it again. So I hope I win.

My answer: “Dear @Binalot I love adobo because it’s easy-to-cook comfort food. It can be chicken, pork, bangus, kangkong, sitaw and more!”

The winner will be announced on Wednesday. Wish me luck!

How to Score Sanuk Footwear on a Budget

I now have five Sanuk Sidewalk Surfers and two Sanuk sandals in my shoe collection. To say I love the Sanuk brand is an understatement. I buy the brand because the designs are stylish enough, the sandals are ultra comfy (I can walk around Mall of Asia in these all day without getting sore feet), and the people behind it strive to be environment friendly (Their Multiply page tells us how).

But of course, each pair of Sanuk does not come cheap. The price ranges from Php 1,500 to Php 3,500. But I have managed to score all seven of my Sanuk footwear on a budget.

Photo by Me.

I scored my Sanuk Daydreamer by getting a Php 300 gift certificate. See, there was a Sanuk stall in one of the events at work last 2009, and they happened to be giving away these gift certificates (one GC per person, actually). I got one and bought this pair. Once I wore it, I was instantly hooked!

Photo by Me.

I was just window-shopping with a friend at the mall but Sanuk had an offer I couldn’t resist: 20% off in celebration of Quezon City Day! It’s not everyday that you get 20% off, and it’s not everyday that I have extra money with me (I just came from guesting at a game show–Don’t ask!–and therefore had my honorarium in my wallet), so at the prodding of a friend, I bought it! In soft, bright pink! I love it! It makes my feet look fairer.

Photo by Me.

This one’s where I got the biggest discount at 50% off at a sale in Trinoma. It was also the craziest sale event ever as the guys at the Trinoma kiosk had to cordon off the place and let customers take turns buying. We fell in line for a few minutes before we got to go inside the store. It was THAT packed!

This pair looks like something you get for free at hotels, I know, but it’s so soft and comfy and the color goes well with everything! I love it!

Photo by Me.

Ah, this is my one-of-a-kind Sanuk. I’m the only one in the world who has this pair. It’s a green June Bug painted by an artist (I forgot who) during Fashion/Design Week, I think. I got this at an online auction held at the Sanuk Philippines Facebook page.

Auctions have the tendency to turn expensive, but I had a game plan. I gave a bid that was just Php 10 higher than the original bidding price. When someone else placed a bid on it, I added just Php 1 to make it higher. I also pointed out to the other bidder–a guy–that this shoe is in girl’s size. That shut him up. =)

On the last night of the bidding, fearing some other bidder might make a surprise bid, I woke up 15 minutes before 12midnight to monitor the Sanuk Philippines Facebook page. Thank God no other person placed a bid on it. And that’s how I got it! (The claiming process, though, is a different story…)

Photo by Me.

I fell in love with this Sanuk Shasta because it reminds me of the ’90s. I love the ’90s, especially the music. The tag’s still intact, so I obviously haven’t used this yet. But I think I might wear this with a dress to celebrate (what else!) the ’90s!

Oh yeah, I bought this during Sanuk’s third anniversary (the whole month of October!) in the Philippines. Got this for 20% off PLUS this freebie:

Photo by Me.

Sanuk Tubeflops! I haven’t worn it yet, too (see the tag peeking out from the left?), and I’m still thinking of what outfit to wear it with. I know this is a trend that has already passed, but I think this is still cool to wear, especially in the -ber months or during cold summer nights.

Photo by Me.

Last (thus far) but not least is my Sanuk Rosalyn sandals, which I also got at 20% off during Sanuk Philippines’ third anniversary sale. I love the color, the style, and the extra two inches it gives me vertically! Hehe! As with the Sanuk sidewalk surfers, this is also very comfortable to wear. I bought this the day after buying the Sanuk Shasta, so the only freebie I got was a lanyard. But that’s okay, I still love getting this pretty pair at less 20%!

Next on my list is the Sanuk Espathrill in grey, but of course, being the economical person I am, I shall wait for another sale event OR gift certificate!

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.