Friday, November 30, 2012

Wired and Inspired at the Cebu Digital Influencers Marketing Summit 2012

A group picture with the organizers, speakers and participants after the Digital Influencers Marketing
Summit 2012 - Cebu at SM Convention Center. (Photo from
Earlier this year, I made a commitment to myself that I will end 2012 right by attending several seminars and workshops that will  shed some inspiration to my passion and personal pursuits. I had two seminars in mind -- Digital Influencers Marketing Summit - Cebu and Mathematical Society of the Philippines - Cebu Chapter First Annual Convention. 

Recently, I realized that I made myself closer to my goal through my attendance in the Digital Influencers Marketing Summit 2012 at SM City Cebu Convention Hall AB. I got more than what I was expecting because aside from getting myself inspired by the speakers of the summit, I also had the chance to share my advocacy through a five-minute pitch. I hope I was able to bring my advocacy of utilizing social media in the learning process closer to my audience.

More than the pitch I did during the event, I was loaded with information and inspiring stories during the day as I listened to the talks from the real influencers and experts in the field. I learned better ways to assuring good content and optimization tips. I was also moved by the real stories narrated by real people who are excelling in their chosen field. A day well spent, indeed. Kudos to the organizers, sponsors, speakers, and participants!

After the summit, I got an invitation to speak for the topic "Using Google+ for Education" at the Google+ Workshop to be hosted by the Cebu Google Business Group at the University of the Visayas New School of New Media and Design on December 1, 2012 (that's going to be tomorrow). I am looking forward to meeting new faces, learning new ideas and discussing passion and advocacy again. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Cebu Dining Experience: Lantaw Floating Native Restaurant

If there's one thing that I love about Cebu, that must be the food offered within the vicinity. No matter if it's a street food eating adventure or a fine dining experience, food is just hard to resist in the Queen City of the South. For such reason, I have been compelled to chronicle my dining experiences in Cebu in which this post is going to be the first in the long line of food fiesta. 

Lantaw Floating Native Restaurant in Cordova, Cebu, I believe, has earned its place for being  the first to be featured in this blog. Serving a variety of Filipino cuisine matched with local flavors and  delicacies, Lantaw does not only offer a relaxing atmosphere but sumptuous food as well. I happened to ask one of the waitresses their best-sellers and she enthusiastically answered, "For appetizers, we have Cordova Express which is similar to Bicol Express with a mix of seafood and for main dish, we have Garlic Shrimps." I tried Garlic Shrimps with green mango shake for dessert.

It was my first time in Lantaw but I heard good feedback from their customers before. For the benefit of those who would like to check the place, here's my take. If it's going to be a family gathering, a memorable occasion, a team dinner, a mere gathering with friends or anything that speaks of collective fun and dining, Lantaw is a perfect choice. Here are the reasons why:
A relaxing and spacious atmosphere is just few of Lantaw's
offerings to their patrons.  
1. Ambiance. The place is spacious enough to accommodate members of extended family and  big circles of friends. Also, they offer relaxing views especially in the evening when skyscrapers in Cebu City start to light and show a lively play of night life. Sunset is also breathtaking in the place. Sipping a bottle of beer while watching the sun as it sets is just perfect. 
Mayonnaise bottle containers are recycled and are
utilized as drinking glasses.  Isn't it environment friendly?
2. Affordability. Considering that Lantaw is affiliated with Moon Cafe (a Mexican Restaurant chain in Cebu), I was thinking that food would be very expensive. However, as I went through the menu and looked at the size of their servings, I realized that it's just good for a fine dining experience in a floating native restaurant. 
No, it's not the 17B Jeepney where you usually ride on going
to IT Park. It's Lantaw's  restaurant bar.
3. Food. What I like about the place is the fact that food are being cooked in what it seems to be an open kitchen -- customers see how the food is hygienically prepared and garnished by their cooks. The touch of local flavor is also something that would compel people to visit the place no matter if it's a long drive from Cebu City.
Watching the sun as it sets while sipping a bottle of cold beer or munching your favorite Filipino dish is one of the things you can enjoy at Lantaw while letting the afternoon fade away.
4. Friendly Service. I am not sure if you are going to agree with me on this but I just find most of their crew attentive to the needs of the customers. The service is also faster compared to other restaurants in Cebu that offers fine dining. When my order was taken, I was informed (without me asking) that it will usually take them 15-20 minutes to prepare my food but I got my diet served in less than 10 minutes. Setting proper expectations with customers is just adorable.

You may add more but that's all I could generally voice out this time. I think, the four already covers  all the major reasons for choosing Lantaw. On the other hand, for commuters like me, Lantaw Floating Native  Restaurant is pretty accessible transportation wise. From SM City Cebu, you can hop into a van going to Cordova and from Barangay Poblacion, Cordova, you can take a bike going to Barangay Day-as where Lantaw is hiding waiting to be found by food trippers. 

Digital Influencers Marketing Summit at SM City Cebu on November 24, 2012

As blogger and social media fanatic, I have heard of the term digital influencer a couple of times through blogs , tweets and status messages on Facebook. Honestly, I never had the interest to study more about becoming a digital influencer because I always had the aim of maintaining a low-profile blog that could support my irrelevant rantings and my simple passion for teaching. I thought, the word influencer itself is challenging although, being a teacher, I am always considered as one no matter how I disagree with becoming an influencer.

Finally, I  am accepting the challenge and I will be joining the Digital Influencers Marketing Summit at SM City Cebu on November 24, 2012. At first, I was hesitant because I was thinking that the event is only intended for entrepreneurs, marketers and advertisers. Well, obviously, I am not one of those mentioned but I surely want to become a digital influencer like the speakers who will be sharing their experiences during the summit. I have already met some of the speakers before and I am sure that they have a couple of helpful things to share.

Janette Toral is going to be one of the speakers and she will talk on Blogging and Social Media Influence in the 2013 Elections. I have attended one of the online seminars of Janette before and met her in person during the awarding night of the Pinoy Expats/OFWs Blog Awards 2012 where, as one of the Top 10 Bloggers, I received her book "Blogging from Home." Another speaker who is also familiar is Fleire Castro who will elaborate the topic Bloggers as Influencers and Brand Advocates. Fleire is a Facebook friend I haven't met ever since. This summit is going to be a meet up for both of us, I assume.Joining Fleire is Kevin Ray Chua who, as founder of Cebu Bloggers Society, is also familiar. I met Kevin once during the candle lighting ceremony for the passage of RH Bill held in UP Cebu earlier this year. Aside from Janette, Fleire and Kevin, other digital influencers and brand advocates will be sharing best practices during the summit.  

For further information about the event, please click HERE.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Convergys Launches the First TV Commercial for a BPO in the Philippines

Staying true to the claim of being the best and the biggest Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Company in the Philippines, Convergys recently launched the first ever TV Commercial for a BPO Company in the country. A heartwarming and values-driven TV commercial, the Convergys Pedestal inspires not only the dedicated employees of the company but the many call center professionals serving the BPO industry in the country today.
There is not one person in this country today that can say he has made a difference. Not one who has taken that leap of faith to change his  fate.Not one who has made a sacrifice for his loved ones. Not one who pushes this country forward. There is not one person today we can call a hero. 
Not one but thousands. 

As one of the premier contact centers in the country, Convergys has earned various awards over the past years and is still promising to garner more distinctions as the best BPO company in the country and worldwide.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Dreaming in Davao

I know this post is way too late to appear in this blog. Yes, I could have written about Davao when the travel was still fresh. But please don't stop reading when you'll know that this trip happened six months ago -- the time when the heat of the sun was still hailed by many travelers -- the time of the year called summer.

My first trip to Mindanao was a sojourn I had been anticipating since late 2011. It's not an ordinary travel as there was much better purpose than leisure and exploration. It was my good friend's wedding and it was a beyond usual event because I never expected that this friend (who will remain anonymous) will still be tying knots one day. Nevertheless, I am still happy for her.

Enough said about my friend, I arrived Davao lunch time after my flight from Mactan Cebu International Airport got delayed for two hours. Everyone was getting ready for the wedding so no one could pick me up at the airport. Fortunately, I am good at attempts of getting lost, recalling instructions and eventually asking strangers about places strange to my ears. Eventually, I hit the hotel just in time when everyone was getting ready for the wedding. 

The night after the wedding, everyone was up for a lively night at Matina Town Square. A renowned place for night lovers, the place showcases a variety of entertainment hubs from disco to comedy bars. If chilling is what's on one's psyche, the place has also something to offer. What's interesting about the place are the street arts and the unique Mindanaoan art and culture that seems to adorn the entire scape of the area. Once you're in the place, you could never deny to yourself that you're experiencing night life in Minadanao -- in Davao.

The following day, we ventured for a whole day trip to Samal Island which is just few minutes boat ride from the mainland. We spent almost the entire day at Blue Jazz Resort which welcomed us with a lively band making me feel that we're entering Hawaii (No, I haven't been there but movies told me so). The resort, which was packed at that time with mostly local beach lovers, offered a handful of activities that one can choose to enjoy. Financially wise, we chose not to try any of the activities and opted to bask along the shore and the beach area. The day ended with me and my friend catching for the next boat to bring us to the mainland where another adventure went on.

The night after, I met with comrades from the Philippine Atheists and Agnostics Society (PATAS) for a what seems to be a serious discourse. It was great personally meeting people whom I always see online.  But before such meeting, there was a good adventure that happened. I and my travel buddy walked for a couple of  kilometers searching for a place we both did not know and we ended up lost. Tired, we had no choice but to get a ride to Abreeza Mall which is a newly opened Ayala mall in Davao. 

Our journey ended when we headed to the airport and spent hours sleeping on the sidewalk while waiting for our flight in the morning. Exciting as it was, our feet had to be tied as we went back to our respective destinations for another trek to work. Memories of a wonderful spur-of-the-moment experiences were something I brought back to Cebu. At the end of such budgeted travel, I realized again that travels do not need to be luxurious because, after all, it's not about the places you've been to but the people you've met and the unique culture you've experienced -- they expand one's horizon of perspectives. Travel is not all about leisure -- at times, it's all about the richness of experience one gets. Until my next journey. Thanks for following.       

"A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it." -- John Steinbeck

Monday, September 24, 2012

Trekking Dumaguete City and Beyond

  • Rizal Boulevard, Dumaguete City
    (picture from
    Finally, the journey that I have been thinking of since last year has unfolded but it turned out to be unplanned. 

    While at work, it suddenly came into my mind that I should try venturing for a trip down south of Cebu to the island of Negros Oriental which is another province in the Central Visayas region. Right after my shift, I packed my things up and immediately headed to the Cebu South Bus Terminal to catch a trip going to Liloan, Santander where I could hop on a ferry going to Sibulan, Negros Oriental.
    Aboard on a non-aircon bus going to Santander, I left Cebu around seven o'clock in the morning and arrived in Santander past one o'clock in the afternoon which was just perfect for me to catch the ferry leaving for Sibulan at two o'clock. I arrived in Sibulan 30 minutes later and took a jeep (locals call it easy ride) going to Dumaguete City. Since the trip was unplanned, I had to figure out what to do next while in Dumaguete. I dropped by in an internet cafe to browse some recommendations about interesting activities while in the city but the entire city was experiencing black out at that time so I ended up basking around the place while waiting for electricity to come back on. I did not know exactly what to do and where to go -- I just followed where my mind would find interest to. I ended up strolling around the market and eventually, electricity was on so I had time to sit and browse on the internet for some reviews from fellow travelers and backpackers. I suddenly remembered that a friend and travel buddy was a graduate from Silliman University in the city so I immediately sent her a text message. She responded with a handful of suggestions. She even contacted a friend to meet me. It was indeed so random and to add excitement to what has already been exciting, I logged on to my Facebook and sent message to my Dumaguete based Facebook friends. I got an immediate response and we're up to hang out the immediate night. Take note that I haven't met any of these people in person. I have known them because of an online forum.
    Silliman University Museum
    (picture from
    I don't know if my friend was just bias but Silliman University was on the top of her recommendations. Well, putting any biases aside, I followed what my friend suggested and followed the street signs and my instinct and walked through the path that might lead me to Silliman University. Yes, my instinct and the street signs should be correct as I was brought to the markers of the century old Silliman University. There were lots of things to explore inside the campus but it was a Sunday so most of the buildings were closed except for the library which required me to leave an ID to enter. I chose not to get in and headed towards the other departments of the institution. I had been hearing about Silliman before and finally I was there. I found a street leading to Rizal Boulevard so I walked through the passage and dropped by in some of the restos which were kind of cool places for hang out. I then walked along Rizal Boulevard and enjoyed the relaxing views of the place and so with the gentle people that I met along the way. It was getting dark and I needed to find a place where backpackers find it affordable and comfortable. I was not able to find any dormitory style inns in the city but there was this place called Vintage Inn where the room rates are affordable compared to others. A fan room with own CR and wi-fi costs 300 and when I checked the room it was so good for 300 pesos. The place is just within the heart of the City and it's walking distance from the parks, malls, and some hang out areas. I took it without any question in mind.
    I wanted to experience local food so I went where most of the locals pack for tempura and squid balls. Food stalls started to pop out along the boulevard as soon as the sun started to set and I had my own share of local dining. I don't know if it's just me or their squid balls and tempura really taste different from those in Cebu. The city has its own style of serving these street foods also and I had to sit and wait until my order would be served with variety of sauces on a plate.
  • Hayahay Tree House and View Deck Restaurant, Dumaguete City
    (picture from
    Just when I thought that the night was going to end that way, I had to move for yet another exciting meetup with some random people. Travel to me is not just all about visiting all the tourist attractions I heard of but more than that, I love meeting people along the way. I hanged out with new found friends in Hayahay Restaurant where affordable drinks are served but I love their pizza with their signature hot sauce. Every seasoned traveler who will visit Dumaguete for the first time should give the place a try for cold beer and pizza, not to mention. They also serve a variety of cuisines which will surely suit your taste buds. However, everything was not all about the food and the drinks I had but the discussions I shared with new found friends -- a discussion which went freely as wild animals in the jungle. Sexism, freethought, religion, philosophy, travel were just few of the topics we randomly talked about.
    A lake at the entrance of Balinsasayaw Twin Lakes Natural Park
    (picture from www.
    The following day, I had to think of other things to do while in the city but I thought I already had an enough dose of Dumaguete. I heard of Lake Balinsasayaw Twin Lakes Natural Park and thinking it's just few kilometers away from the city, I decided to get lost. It's funny because the receptionist at the inn where I stayed didn't know where the place is located. I decided to check out to randomly ask people along the way who might know where this place is. Luckily, I found a stranger who directed me to the place where I could wait for the jeep going to San Jose town where the lake is located. I had to take a motorcycle to reach the place and when I asked one of the drivers about the fare, I shockingly heard 400 pesos. It's a roundtrip fare, he said, as he had to wait for there's nothing I could ride on going back. The good thing was I was able to haggle and paid 300 pesos only. I was hoping not to waste my 300 pesos for a short ride and a man-made lake. When I learned that it's an uphill drive for almost an hour, I thought it was worth my 300. I had to pay for the entrance fee -- including the driver's and the motorcycle's. Locals are charged ten pesos for the entrance fee while foreigners are charged 100 pesos. I remembered my trips in Thailand wherein I had to keep my mouth shut for a while just to take advantage of the entrance fee for the locals and save my day from an absurd fee meant for foreigners. The drive going up to the lakes was breathtaking and I was thinking it was part of the 300 pesos I paid for. The views were mixed of landscapes and seascapes that one will suddenly be reminded how beautiful this earth is. It's purely nature and there's nothing you could think of but appreciate every wonder that comes into your eyes.
    Balinsasayaw Twin Lakes Natural Park
    (picture from
    After the uphill drive and hike (because the motorcycle could no longer carry my weight due to the stiffness of the road), I reached the lakes which, according to the driver, were craters of a dead volcano. The lakes were surrounded with tree-carpeted mountains which are inhabited by species that can only be found in the locality. From the bigger lake, there were two ways to reach the smaller lake. One can go on kayak through the bigger lake followed with a short hike or one can follow the trails leading to the smaller lake. I opted for the second one for safety (both of my own and my pocket). I had to hike through a rocky trail which stretches to more than a kilometer but, again, the hike was all worth it. The end of the trail is a tower where one can see the twin lakes. The view is marvelous that I had to stop there for a couple of hours to realize the wonders of nature. There were more activities that I missed and I will surely come back to try them all. I would like to try camping and trekking the other trails leading to the peak of one of the mountains that surround the lakes. I left the place with an inspiration and full of appreciation to nature hoping to share what I have just seen. At times, it takes wonders to let us realize that there's always something that we can do to protect our natural habitat and it's one of the experiences that I always want to keep from the journeys I had.
As soon as I took off from the mountain, I went back to Sibulan, Negros Oriental and explored the place. Afterwards, I headed to the port and left for Cebu where another journey awaits -- a journey that I am trying to trudge, an uphill struggle that I am trying to battle, a journey called work.

For my fellow travelers' sake, I am posting here the expenses of such travel. I hope this would help. If you have ideas how to make one's journey to Dumaguete and the Island of Negros Oriental more memorable, feel free to leave a comment below. After all, we're all travelers who would always want to make our journey worthwhile.
Cebu City South Bus Terminal to Liloan, Santander -- Php 179 (aircon bus)/ Php169 (non-aircon bus) + Php 5 for terminal fee
Liloan, Santander to Sibulan, Negros Oriental -- Php 62 (includes fare and terminal fee)
Sibulan, Negros Oriental to Dumaguete City (jeep) -- Php 11.00
Vintage Inn (infront of Dumaguete Public Market) -- Php 300 (fan room with own cr and wi-fi)
All other expenses will depend on the activities that you would like to do while in the place.

Friday, August 24, 2012

On Discrimination and Plight of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Community

image from
Recognizing that a significant portion of our society is experiencing treatments detrimental to their holistic well-being, several groups in Cebu City expressed their support for the passage of the Cebu City Anti-Discrimination Ordinance (CCADO) which prohibits discrimination in Cebu City on the basis of disability, age, health status, sexual orientation and gender identity, ethnicity and religion. This ordinance is proposed by Councilor Alvin Dizon and is being backed up by five other members of the Sanguniang Panlalawigan of Cebu City.

Yesterday, I and other comrades from the Philippine Atheists and Agnostics Society (PATAS) Cebu Chapter attended an open forum on the ordinance held at the Moot Court of University of San Carlos' School of Law and Governance. We showed our support for the pending local bill by expressing our statement of support in front of the audience primarily composed of students from the university. I admire the Supreme Student Council of the University of San Carlos for organizing the said event which somehow shed light to the students on what the CCADO is all about. Neil Steve Kinatanar, a clinical psychologist and a member of the Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP) also gave a talk on the basics of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Psychology which enabled everyone to gain better understanding on LGBT identity and its components. Neil's presentation was similar to the one he presented during the LGBT Forum at the 49th Annual Convention of PAP at the Waterfront Hotel and Casino. 

With all the progressive discussions happening, one might wonder how, when and in what manner discrimination could happen which could lead one to questioning the relevance of such ordinance in the context of Cebu City. The online Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines discrimination as prejudiced or prejudicial outlook, action, or treatment. One, therefore, could experience discrimination if he/she is categorically denied human rights on the basis of prejudice. I am positive that such ordinance will soon be passed and implemented in the city of Cebu.