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.

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.

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!

I (Heart) SG

Someone traveled to Singapore recently (that would be me!) and she really loved her stay there. It was amazing how this nation is a tiny concrete jungle that has clean fresh air, spotless streets and refreshing pockets of greenery.

Proof that the air is clean: Whenever I clean my nose in Manila, my tissue paper is as black as my hair–real evidence of dirty air! But when I clean my nose in Singapore, I realize that there’s no need to, since my tissue paper stays as white as it was pre-use.

More proof that the air is clean: When I sweat in Manila, I become stinky. When I sweat in Singapore, my back just becomes wet.

I (heart) SG!

But I wish that Manila will be as clean as SG in the future. It’s my home!

Spicy Ginger Ice Cream at Bohol Bee Farm! Yum!

Total number of times I’ve been to Bohol in my lifetime: 4

Total number of places I look forward to visiting whenever I’m there: 5

  • Loboc River Cruise
  • Chocolate Hills
  • That tarsier place
  • Alona Beach
  • Bohol Bee Farm

Most favorite place in Bohol: Bohol Bee Farm

Why?

  • Organic products such as honey, corn coffee, and herbal tea
  • Organic food such as salads and yummy muffins
  • Beautiful seaside house that has been my benchmark for beach living since the first time I saw it
  • Spicy ginger ice cream!

As soon as we set foot at Bohol Bee Farm a few days ago, I made a beeline for the ice cream store that sells the yummiest spicy ginger ice cream in the planet. I haven’t tasted the other flavors yet (malunggay, ube, etc) but I’ve already decided that the spicy ginger ice cream is my favorite. The cone, too, made from cassava, is the yummiest ice cream cone around. It’s way better than the usual wafer cone for its semi-softness and just-right sweetness. For Php50, you’ll get the ultimate summer bliss.

Also try their halo-halo. For just Php90, you’ll get a big cup of this summer favorite. Bohol Bee Farm’s version is generously packed with fresh fruits and a scoop of their yummy ice cream on top! No wonder this place tops my list of Bohol tourist spots to troop to!

Cebu Sojourn: Clean and Green Ayala Mall

Ayala Mall is my kind of mall. It’s clean, green and very walkable. If Greenbelt weren’t so far from where I live, I bet I’d find myself taking a leisurely stroll here everyday–in the morning before I go to work, in the afternoon before I return home, and in the weekends when I want to relax. But alas, my life is nowhere near that.

I visited the Ayala Mall in Cebu when I went there this April, and I like that it’s as clean and green as in Manila. I enjoyed walking around the mall all day, taking in the fresh air and the beautiful scenery. But of course I didn’t go all the way to Cebu just to window shop. I also enjoyed the beach, the historic sites and the markets, as you’ll see in my next blog posts.

My latest ukay-ukay finds

It’s been a while since I visited Querra Thrift Shop. I prioritized the completion of my grad school coursework, so I was practically buried in journals and books and constantly tapping on the keyboard to finish my final papers (Take note of the “s” in papers). So when I saw the 3-for-100 sign at Querra last Monday, I knew I had to pay this place a visit.

But it seems every student in the area had it easy in school. Almost all the good second hand clothes were taken. I had to wade through the seemingly endless rack of rags before I got my “shortlist” of six blouses, which I later narrowed down to three–for the 3-for-100 deal, of course!

Having been made to attend a ” corporate image workshop” at work in Summer 2010, I have learned to train my eyes to chuck colors outside of the winter color palette. That is, cool colors reminiscent of winter. According to the workshop trainer, I am a “winter person”, so only cool and pure colors suit me. This is well and good, because this means I can easily weed out clothes on racks with colors that don’t suit me. Ergo, I can quickly zoom in and choose from clothes whose colors fit my supposed skin tone.

Anyway, here are my finds, and why I like them.

Trendy black tee. Photo by Me.

This is a trendy black tee. I like it because it’s a t-shirt with a twist. The cream-colored cord wrapped around the neckline and the bottom edge of the shirt lends this piece a trendy and creative vibe. The lace detail at the bottom adds a sweet girly touch. This is a great top to wear on casual Fridays at the office and on weekend trips to artsy places, especially for people working in the creative field. It gives off the right impression and makes you look the part of the mysterious and young lady writer.

Peasant blouse. Photo by Me.

I couldn’t remember if something light brown (with hints of gray) suits my skin tone but I bought this piece anyway for the sweet and innocent vibe it evokes. I already have a blouse that looks somewhat like this, but the cloth and the drawstring detail at the bottom made all the difference. This is a nice summer piece that I can see myself wearing with khaki clam diggers or khaki capri pants.

Denim button-down blouse. Photo by Me.

This denim button-down blouse barely made it to my top 3 picks. What made me decide to buy it was that it looked new and hardly used. The material was light enough, even if it’s denim. The embroidery at the top was a nice touch, too. So I can see myself wearing it this summer, maybe with navy blue capri pants or with walking shorts. In cooler months, I can layer it on top of a white tank. Or maybe I can wear it with a vest or with a sleeveless sweater for a preppy look.

Tried and Tested: Human Nature Calendula and Seaweed Face Wash

Photo by Me.

The Human Nature Calendula and Seaweed Facial Wash does the job of cleansing your skin. It lathers up nicely and leaves your face smelling of just-sliced pineapples. Very summer-y in the cool ber-months!

But still, I prefer the smell of Aloe Vera and Guava Facial Wash. Nothing beats that. For me, at least.

The Calendula and Seaweed variety is supposedly for those with sensitive skin. But who’s to stop someone with oily skin (like me!)  from using it? No one. I used it and it was just fine. I was worried that my face would break out because the label didn’t say anything about clearing away pimples. But this gel is so good and gentle that my face stayed pimple-free. Cleansing gels are for cleansing anyway. As I’ve said, this face wash does its job. And that’s what matters!

The Organic Geek as a Headless Chicken

This is the familiar story of bloggers getting busy with other things in their offline life. They get busy, so they blog less. And that’s what happened to me, more or less.

The first semester of my second-to-the-last year in grad school is proving to be my most challenging yet. Not even the weekly papers I am required to churn out in my Environment, Culture and Society class a few semester ago can compare.

International Relations (IR), an elective I’m taking this semester, is much harder. Since my IR background is nil, I have to work double time to catch up with my classmates. There are around 100 pages worth of required readings each week. Additional readings on current events has to be done, too, to be able to participate in class discussions. And then there are the papers I have to research for and write.

My International Reporting class is about to start on Monday. Aside from required readings, additional reading on current events has to be done, too, to substantiate class discussions. There are also weekly writing activities and mini researches.

Ah, and then there’s my full-time work as well as my upcoming volunteer work, so good luck to me and my sanity!

But I shouldn’t complain, really. After all, learning these things is a dream I’m making a reality. I can’t really save the world from impending climate change, but I can at least help explore solutions through my own expertise, right?

Anyway, these should have been my blog entries the past weeks:

1. Tried and Tested: Human Nature Natural Deodorant – I love how it allows me to sweat naturally without the icky body odor. The rosemary scent gives a girly vibe, too.

2. About to Try: Planters Organic Laundry Detergent – I bought this at Sesou in Trinoma yesterday and I’m excited to try it. The box says I can even use it to clean the bathroom! Let’s see how multi-tasking this product really is.

3. Tried and Tested: Human Nature Strengthening Shampoo with Rosemary Scent – Rosemary scent rocks! It makes my nightly showers extra-soothing and refreshing.

4. Tried and Tested: Human Nature Choco-Vanilla Lip Balm – Ah, this one disappointed me a little. Whenever I glide the tube to my lips, it feels like I am swiping candle on my lips–totally not cool. It seems to be short on oil and moisturizers, unlike the Human Nature Mandarin Lip Balm which I love!

5. Rags2Riches Tree Bag – RIIR’s new tree bag is light enough to carry and roomy enough to put my things in. I would love to buy this—as soon as I get extra money!

It’s okay to use fresh paper

Taking a graduate class that requires a gazillion readings coupled with periodic eyestrain from reading from a computer screen convinced me that the best action to take is to print my PDFs. With ink. And paper. Yes.

When my sister saw me printing using fresh paper, she threw a fit: That it’s a waste of paper, that it’s not environment-friendly, that I am not being environment-friendly, etc.

For me, though, printing on fresh paper is a practical move for the following reasons:

1. I set the printer to print two pages on each side. The font size of two pages is the smallest my eyes can tolerate to avoid eyestrain.

2. If I use both sides, I am automatically printing 4 pages of the file in a single sheet of paper.

3. Using two sides of each paper wherein 4 pages of the file are automatically printed drastically reduces the weight of readings I have to carry to and from work/school on a daily basis. It helps ease my commute, too. Therefore, no back pain and no paper wasted!

So that’s why for me, it’s okay to use fresh paper. Really!