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Thursday, March 22, 2012


Just in case it hasn’t reached your radar yet, UMID stands for Unified Multipurpose Identification System. It has been around since 2005, as it was that year when Executive Order 420 was signed and ordered that all Government-Owned and -Controlled Corporations issuing ID cards undertake a “unified” multipurpose ID system to cut down on cost in producing multiple IDs that carry the same or related information.

Four years after, four government agencies inked a memorandum of understanding towards the joint implementation of the UMID: the Social Security System, the Government Service Insurance System, the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG) and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

The UMID, however, has at its core the ID system of the SSS, which began issuing UMID cards in July last year. And so, just in case you’re wondering, this is why new members of the agency no longer receive the bluish SSS ID when they apply for one. Parenthetically, this also goes for those who are included in the applications backlog recently reported to have reached 600,000+, as the SSS card production facility conked out in April 2010 after 12 years of service.

Well, we can say that I was one of this backlog’s casualties, having my ID application done December of 2010. I remember having waited for about nine months before following up my application and learned that it was yet to be printed in October and delivered the following month.

November came; however, no SSS identification card was delivered. I waited for the next three months, thinking that I might finally get it anytime soon. But the inconvenience of not having a valid ID to present during financial transactions led me to yet again personally inquire about my ID’s status at the state insurer’s main branch in Quezon City.

Turned out my UMID card was indeed sent last November. Since that nothing was returned to them, I was told to go get a job order from their registry office on the second floor of the back building. My UMID card was probably still in the possession of the QC post office, they acknowledged, and that it would be better if I could just personally get it from there.

To cut the long story short, I finally got my UMID card a little over a week after that. The hunt, marked by grating long queues and waiting that felt like forever, was an eye-opener for me: when it comes to these kinds of things, don’t just wait.yes

And yes, it does have “the microchip.” Photobucket
Tuesday, March 20, 2012


The thing about leisure traveling is that it makes the cooperative weather factor the luck of the draw. Yes one can keep an eye on the forecast, but to expect otherwise – like anticipating a sunny day amid a tropical storm – sometimes can’t hurt. Well, just sometimes.

Fixated on pushing ahead with our do-it-yourself Caramoan weekend getaway despite the overhanging bad weather, my friends and I boarded the 45-minute Airphil Express flight to Naga Airport in Pili, Camarines Sur that Friday of July last year. Seemingly enough, luck was on our side, because instead of dark clouds and heavy showers, we were welcomed by a clear blue sky and stifling sun.

Upon arrival at the airport, we took a short tricycle ride to the town’s highway where we hailed a jeepney bound to SM City Naga, which is just across Naga City’s Eastbound Terminal. (If you are thinking of going to Caramoan and following the same procedure as ours, you can also opt for a van to bring you to Sabang Port straight from Naga Airport, though this option may cause a dent in your wallet.)

After having our early lunch at a fastfood, we headed to the terminal and took a less than two-hour van ride to Sabang Port, where we then hopped aboard a service boat bound to Guijalo Port and relished another two-hour travel by sea.

The time of our visit was an off-season, and so we made no reservations at any hotel or inn prior to our trip. So once we were at Guijalo Port, the group went by tricycle to the town’s “centro” and directly checked in at Villa Julliana, taking our cue from friends who stayed at the same inn (and swore by its fairly affordable per-night stay rates) during their Caramoan visit the year previous.

Exploring the town started off by checking out the Bulang-Bugang Cave, an underground stream with no exit, in Barangay Taisan. Unfortunately, we were unprepared to go spelunking so we just opted to immerse our legs into its cool water and take pictures.

Besides the Bulang-Bugang Cave, Caramoan, a second-class municipality on the Caramoan Peninsula, also boasts of the Umang Cave, which is a part of the Caramoan National Park. It also has the Kulapnit Cave (best known for their limestone formations) and the Manipis Cave (rumored to be one of the hiding places of the famous General Yamashita's treasure).

Then we were off to St. Michael the Archangel Parish, as we were advised to go take a look at the said church located just a few meters away from our inn. It is an old red-brick church said to be built by the Franciscan missionaries during the Spanish colonization.

A large courtyard, with well-groomed lawn, houses this church. Locals also say that the church has undergone several renovations over the years. We even saw a proof of this as part of the chapel was under renovation when we dropped by. And so we just took pleasure in taking pictures of the colorful and pretty flowers aplenty in its garden.

We were told that a tour of Caramoan would not be complete without trekking the 500-odd steps to the Shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Mt. Carmel Caglago in Barangay Tabgon. Subscribing to the recommendation, we began our island-hopping the following day by first setting out to scale the otherwise interesting steps (our "tour guides" pointed out that the names written on each step are actually the names of the donors) to the biggest Marian statue I have seen thus far. Reaching the top of Mt. Caglago was a feather in our cap by then, but what we saw was by far greater: a breathtaking 360-degree view of the Caramoan islands.

From mountain hiking, the group, still rather blessed with a brilliant weather, then moved on to cap off our day's activities with our trip's high point and what Caramoan is really famed for: island-hopping.

Caramoan's pristine beaches with their fine-grained sand and crystal clear waters have earned for the place its "next Boracay" sobriquet. That is why it is no wonder that its islands' untouched beauty has been figuring as a favorite host to international franchises of reality TV game show Survivor, such as its Bulgarian, Serbian, Israeli, Swedish and French versions.

In fact during our visit, Survivor India was being filmed, restricting us from some of the islands and even from taking the Paniman beach as our island-hopping starting point. However, we were fortunate enough to have reached the island of Lahos and have our own Survivor mementos (through pictures, of course) before the show's crew came back and packed up their props.

Swimming, snorkeling, climbing the islands' jagged rock cliffs and ostensibly endless picture takings were sandwiched between our hops to the islands of Matukad, Lahos, Cagbalinad and Tawog. For those who are not on a budget unlike us, other equally great adventures such as kayaking and scuba diving are a must in their itineraries.

Caramoan has sure lots to offer as a tourist destination. It's nice to think though that albeit it has been likened to Boracay ("the benchmark against which all local beaches are measured," as one writer puts it), it still manages to be so sans the rowdy crowds and establishments. And yet it holds out its true splendor, of course, when the sun cooperates.Photobucket

(I'd like to thank my travel buddies Oz and Tiny M. and Joja B. for some of the photos above.)
Monday, March 19, 2012


(If this post were something tangible, this would have been long covered with dust. Good thing it was not. However, being back-burnered in the Draft section for over a year, with me realizing it just recently, is something I now consider a mortal no no And so I think publishing it (at long last) is the right thing to do.approve Ah, what a relief!Haha.)

Curiousity indeed is "the starting point of knowledge." One never runs out of new things to learn as long as the inquisitive mind finds its way to asking "what's out there?"

Such is what I and my chum Joja proved to ourselves when it was finally obvious that we had nowhere else to go, having "toured" around the TriNoma and SM North EDSA malls that late afternoon. Passing the uppermost level of the TriNoma mall for the umpteenth time, we noticed this alfresco area which turned out to be a mini park filled with lush trees and plants.

An added attraction was the fountain at the center. But a more prepossessing sight were these art installations in primary colors, strategically placed just a few steps outside the glass windows where folks can see them then and there.

A brief description of the art exhibit says that the artist, Filipino veteran sculptor Jose "Joe" Mendoza, fashioned his sculptures out of steel, which is deemed a "challenge" for him. In pursuit of looking into new mediums, he stressed that it will never be too late to do so.

According to its Web site, the Ayala Museum, in partnership with the Ayala Malls, has also curated public art installations at the Glorietta 4 Park, Glorietta 3, Greenbelt 5, Market! Market! Central plaza, Bonifacio High Street, and Marquee Mall made by artists Rachy Cuna, Lor Calma, Tam-Awan's Jed Alangui and Jordan Mang-osan, Bernardo Pacquing, and Norman Tiotuico. Collectively called the ArtPark, the six exhibits' aim is to bring art closer to the public.

Curious eh? Try dropping by the Ayala Malls to take a look at these art installations. You're sure to learn something new, take it from me.
Sunday, March 18, 2012


Just a simple tribute to my long yet worthwhile journey to learning how to play the love

Your black and white keys,
teach me how to play them please;
The sound gives me peace.

(An aside: Been reading some web stuff about haiku writing. And I can say, based on what I’ve read, that some, if not all, of the haiku I’ve so far written are pseudo ones. Haiku are not always 5-7-5!beh At least I’m aware of it now. Rats! Ha ha. Well, I guess it really takes time (a lifetime perhaps?) to master this genre. I just hope that one day I’ll be able to come up with a good enough haiku, one that is truly deserving of your “That’s a good one” remark.Photobucket)
Thursday, March 08, 2012


The race is not to the swift
or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
or wealth to the brilliant
or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.
--Ecclesiastes 9:11