Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Enigmatic Charm of a Charismatic Leader: Fidel Valdez Ramos in Bangkok

As he scans the room, he moves from person to person, paying much attention to the person he is talking to at any moment, making the person feel that he/she is the most important person in the world.

The 12th President of the Philippines, his excellency Fidel Valdez Ramos, arrived in Bangkok, Thailand to grace the 50th Anniversary celebration of the Asian Institute of Technology as a keynote speaker. He is the recipient of an honorary PhD in Technology from AIT. He also humurously states that he misses his 'barkada sa golf' that's partly why he flew to Bangkok all the way from Manila.

The moment he dropped off from the mercedez benz which was his service car from BKK airport to Sukhothai Hotel, courtesy of OUTLAURS, he was all smiles and automatically worked his charms even to the hotel staff who were stationed to greet him at the lobby.

I introduced myself as a Filipino student from AIT, and he started chatting with me like we knew each other for many years. I know he does not know fully what Urban Environmental Management is (my field of study at AIT), but he instantly said that my course is important. Talk about 'charm' and 'charisma'.

My colleagues (Dennis and J) and I, together with people from the Philippine Embassy went inside his suite to have a short photo ops, and he even gave Dennis, J, and I a signed copy of his publication, drawing a big heart at the top of the page, with our names on it.

Fast forward 3 hours, and we were at the Philippine Embassy in Bangkok to listen to his short talk with the other leaders of the Filipino communities in Thailand. I realized that there are so many women leaders in Thailand's Filipino communities, as most of them work as teachers in English here in Thailand.

FVR starts his speech in stating that "the Philippines has been always trying to catch up with Thailand", and that the advantage we always have in this race is "nakakalamang sa English ang Pinoy". He further states that the "political situation is fluid in the Philippines just like in Thailand." He also notes that the difference lies in that our leader is the head of state and head of government, and that we don't have a 'moral leader'.

He places emphasis on how to initiate change in our country. He reflects on his career direction after his term of Presidency, and has no special preference in running for office anymore, as he believes that 'running is just as important as voting'.

He further encourages everyone to register as soon as possible: 'the earlier, the better'. He emphasizes that VOTING is a very important right which every Filipino citizen should exercise. "Yan ang ating pinakapagmamalaki: in 1898, we were the first democracy in Asia. Encourage yourselves to register, and encourage the others to do so."

In this competitive and difficult life in the 21st century, FVR states 3 important events in the course of Philippine history which should keep every Filipino going:
  • the spirit of 1896: sigaw sa Pugad Lawin, Balintawak;
  • the spirit of 1942: the defense of Bataan; and
  • 1986: the spirit of EDSA: 'kung saan nagkaisa ang sambayanan at Panginoong Diyos'.
"Sana maibalik natin ang samahan na ganun. UNITY, SOLIDARITY, and TEAMWORK can make the Philippines surpass whom we are trying to ovetake, which have not been successfully done..."

Pertaining to the main issue why other nations that were behind the Philippines years ago are now successful and the Philippines has become stagnant, he states: "...other nations and superpowers are so PRODUCTIVE....the Philippines is VERY REPRODUCTIVE..." He reiterates that being PRODUCTIVE vs REPRODUCTIVE can be a hindrance to educate young Filipino children. Education is a key to raise high quality children, and every parent should make this a priority in raising their own kids.

Furthermore, he puts emphasis on good Filipino traits which makes the Filipino race more resilient than the rest of the world. "Filipinos are among the happiest in the world...among the top 5, according to the top published sources." He elaborates in saying that the Filipinos can manage to somehow stay happy despite the challenges in life. "Mababaw ang kaligayan ng Pinoy." He states the 4 Ks that make any Filipino happy: Kainan (at parties and gatherings, no matter how small), Kawayan (waving at each other when meeting anywhere), Kamayan (especially with VIPs), and KODAKAN (taking pictures in almost any given situation, especially that which are taken with close kins).

He concludes his speech with a brief intoduction of some books which he wrote over the years after he descended as the President of the Philippines. Among these books, he notes the following to be must reads:
  • Caring, Sharing, Daring (he jokes that it's really a book for Filipina old maids named "CARING, CHARING, and DARING");
  • Sermons. (Which is a collection of all the Sunday Columns which he wrote on Manila Bulletin which compunded to 3 volumes of the same title).
During the Q&A exchange, he even asked each respective woman who asked question, to sit beside him, jokingly stating it as an example of how he was able to settle conflicts in Mindanao by simply letting conflicting parties sit on a single chair.

Indeed, I understand why FVR has always stayed neutral before most Filipino's eyes and hearts, despite the controversies he used to get involved with in the past. CHARM and CHARISMA was his style....indeed, "The Charismatic Leader gathers followers through dint of personality and charm, rather than any form of external power or authority."

Other Links:

Fidel Valdez Ramos: 20 years after EDSA
Ramos Peace and Development Foundation Inc (FVR: RPDEV)
Fidel Valdez Ramos (FVR: CV)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Pinay Pays Tribute to President Corazon "Cory" Aquino

Being away from the Philippines does not only mean I am missing my family and good friends. I am missing each and every good and bad news I used to get each day on the daily news which was aired on TV, radio and those published on the newspaper.

Thanks to Facebook, I get updates of what's happening in the Philippines all the way from Thailand. A week before the big news hit the world, I saw a post on my Facebook wall about how the younger generation don't know Cory Aquino.

And it puzzled she dying?

I searched for some TV feed online, and I am lucky to find a great site which posts a lot of my favorite 'ka-pamilya' programs in the Philippines. He's a kababayan based abroad who does not get tired posting tv shows back home. I love this guy, and just by watching these shows feels like home.

I learned from TV Patrol news that Cory Aquino is at stage 4 cancer.

Fast forward 7 days, and I saw the breaking news on Thai television. I cannot understand what the news anchor says, for she was speaking in Thai, but I can understand that President Corazon Aquino passed away on August 1, 2009, and the whole world is saddened by the loss of a great woman. A woman who made a difference not only in Philippine democracy, but in the world's history as well.

As one of the babies of the 80s, I have very vague memories of what happened in the 1986 revolution. I can only recall a few details when I was very young watching a movie over and over again on Betamax back then: A Dangerous Life. It's a documentary of what happened during the decline of the Marcos dictatorship in the late 70s and during the years of the greatest political transition in the Philippines in the early 80s.

I was too young to understand the course of history at those times. But Cory Aquino is one of the personalities that shaped the lives of ordinary people...including myself who was then a child of one of those families who have colorful and traumatic personal accounts on the ousted Marcos dictatorship.

Cory's administration did not only change the course of Philippine also permanently changed many Filipino families' lives, my family being no exception.

I am one with the Filipinos in deep remorse for the loss of a great persona in the name of President Corazon 'Cory' Aquino.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

How to go to Siem Reap from the Poipet Border?

Once you have successfully crossed the immigration office at Poipet, your next challenge is to find a good transportation from Poipet to Seam Reap.

We were offered 2 options. One is by bus, which will cost us Baht 300.00 each. Bus trips are scheduled so we had to wait until the bus will leave at 2pm. You will see some guys in uniform who are the authorized bus barkers. They should issue corresponding tickets when you pay for your bus. A coaster would bring you to the bus station, which is about 10 minutes drive from the Poipet immigration office.

Don't forget to eat lunch first, as there are no decent meals that you can buy at the bus station.

Though the Poipet border was filled with Thai people queueing to go to the casino, the bus station was empty when we arrived. Maybe because it's Songkran holiday today.

Luckily, 2 Danish guys were on the way to Seam Reap as well, and they're taking the 'TAXI'. It's really a private car that'd cost each passenger Baht500.00. They needed 2 more people so the taxi could leave. Apparently, it's faster than the bus by 1-2 hours, so we decided to take the taxi with them. We added 200.00 more to the bus ticket which we already paid. You don't pay the taxi driver. All transactions goes through the person who issues bus ticket, a man in uniform.

We left Poipet at 12:30 pm and arrived Siem Reap at 4:00pm.

As we already had a prior booking to our guest house, we asked our taxi driver to drop us at the guethouse.

Where to get Visa on arrival at the Poipet border?

Once your vehicle arrives the Poipet border, you need to disembark for the immigration office.

In our case, since we took the van from AIT (Pathum Thani, Bangkok) to Poipet, we had to disembark at the Poipet border approximately 4 hours after our departure from Bangkok.

I hold a Philippine passport, so I do not need any visa to visit Cambodia. My travel mate who's from Indonesia had to get her visa on arrival at the border which cost her Baht1,100.00 (Baht100.00 more expensive than the fee from the Cambodian embassy in BKK).

If you can speak a little Thai, it would be better to ask for directions to ask where the office for Visa application is located. Otherwise, you need to speak with anyone in uniform as it is more likely that they can speak a little English.

As of this writing, the Visa office is located beside the Kasikorn bank ATMs. It's quite a big and old building with sniffing dogs and guards around.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

How to get a van to the Poipet border from Bangkok?

I asked my Cambodian friends to help me arrange transportation to the Poipet border, which will be my route to Siem Reap, the city where Angkor Wat sits in Cambodia.

You can get there by bus or van. Bus would be a longer trip than if you take the van. Van will get you there in 4 hours or less.

Thanks to Darith and Ratana, they gave me phone numbers which are some of the van companies that will get you to Aranyaprathet (Poipet) border. They all speak Thai, and can hardly understand English, so better find a Thai who can translate for you before you call these numbers:


Experience tells me that the drivers have their own mobile phones, and when you start calling, you will be faced with a situation of having to negotiate with the driver. They keep saying "YES" and you will be disappointed to know that they did not understand your instructions at all.

To avoid confusion, make sure you jot down important things to ask the driver:
  • rate per seat;
  • day and date of departure;
  • expected time of departure from Bangkok;
  • expected time of arrival in Poipet;
  • location where you would like to be picked up.
The van who promised to pick us up at 2AM arrived at 430AM, so better calculate these delays as part of the contingencies of your trip to the Poipet border from Bangkok.

***If you're a foreigner and staying in Thailand for long, you need re-entry permit. Click here to know more about getting re-entry permit to Thailand.

If link does not work, paste this on your browser:

Thursday, April 9, 2009

How much is Re-entry permit from Cambodia to Thailand?

Need a re-entry permit to Thailand?

I have an ED Visa in Thailand that expires this Aug 2009. I need to leave for Cambodia in a few days and I was initially planning to get my Re-entry permit to Thailand processed at the Poipet border immigration office.

Things changed when I was told that it's quite difficult to get at the Poipet border. I decided to go to Bangkok to get it there, but I am just too lucky that the Guest Relations officers in my school processed my Visa at Ayutthaya immigration office. I still had to go there for appearance, but I saved myself from getting too stressed going to Bangkok and having to queue for a long time.

I paid Baht1,000.00 for my re-entry permit to Thaialnd, sat at the benches of the Ayutthaya immigration office, and got my permit in less than an hour of waiting.

No need for me to get a Cambodian Visa...thanks to this ASEAN agreement thing.

My friend from Indonesia needs to get hers, but can't be done in Ayutthaya and rather get it from Poipet border.

2 days to roll, and we are conquering the Angkor Wat.

Click here to know how to get a van to Poipet Border from Bangkok.

If link does not work, copy and paste this URL to your browser:

Monday, January 26, 2009

An Eclipse? Solar Eclipse? or was it?

Sharon and I just wanted to spend some time shopping and we usually do at Thammasat during Mondays or Thursdays...when the night market opens at the open grounds of Thammasat University.

On our way there from AIT back gate, we noticed the sunset was sooooo beautiful, I had to go back to my dorm and get my camera.

I'm a novice photographer, and my Canon has its Kit zoom lens with short, my equipment and the one holding it are not as good, as shown in this pic. Sharon keeps saying, I should get a macro lens...but probably, I need to sharpen my skills a bit first before that.

As we were riding our bike on our way to the night market, we started to notice that the sun looks like a cookie with a bite at the upper left seems like there is an eclipse today...or was it something our eyes kinda missed? If we were HEROES, we'd probably get our powers today...harharhar...(too much TV!)

Off we went to the night market, and bought some stuff....which we probably don't need again! It feels nice seeing all the nice trinkets and stuff....and I took this one fun pic while we were trying on some shades.

Thammasat University is near AIT, and it's where we get to unwind and eat good food every Thursdays and Mondays every week, if we have time. There are lots of goodies to buy, from food, clothes, shoes, cookware, household items, beddings, and all things any student would need.

And, well this lovely day ended with an hour jog round back at AIT it usually does.

Dennis says, it's a PARTIAL Solar Eclipse...and had to stay inside my dorm...since some people are probably partially unstable tonight....

Eclipse or no eclipse, am partially Unstable most of the time...hahaha....

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Backpacker's Destination in Thailand: Khao San Road

Abu and I have been talking about seeing each other in Thailand. He's a friend of mine back in college who's now based in Singapore. We've had too many plans in the past, about backpacking and everything, but things just do not go as it's planned...

..and finally it's here. We originally planned to go to Cambodia from he's here to attend the Full Moon Party. I think every tourist knows about that Party...except me.

I've been here in Thailand for almost 6 months now and it's the first time I heard about that "dirty" party in an island here...apparently the theme in Leonardo de Caprio's The Beach is exactly what the Full Moon Party' all about...and yes, it happens every full moon of the month.

Khao San Road happened to be Abu's pick for a guest house while he's in Bangkok, for all the cheap guest houses are there. It is really one of the hippest place I've been. You know it's Khao San Road if you see the "cobblestoned" streets..or should I say, bricked pavement alley.

To get there from AIT, I took the BTS from MoChit station (van from Thammasat took me from AIT to MoChit station) and hopped off at Siam Interchange to get to the Silom Line. I hopped off at the Saphan Taksin Terminal Station to board the Chao Praya River Express (Orange Lane). For some reason, travelling at this time is not as fancy as it was last December. Tourists are relatively fewer compared to last month's, but still there are Bangkok never runs out of tourists from everywhere.

(Click the picture at the left to see fare rates for the Chao Praya River Boat) It cost me Baht13 to get to station #9 where Abu and I agreed to meet. This is the Grand Palace hop off. That was the original plan...for us to go to the Grand Palace. But he changed his mind...and still good for me since that'd be the 3rd time for me then. He was waiting forever for me....I never realized it takes almost 3 hours from AIT to the Chao Praya River even if I took the BTS.

From station #9, off we went to Station #14, where King Rama IV bridge is. I've never been to this place and wanted to take a picture of this bridge. And here it is...

We decided to take a stroll at Khao San Road. Like I said, this is one of the coolest places I have been. Guest houses cost around Baht400 (USD10) per room, and apparently, you can get a 3-bedroom unit for Baht1,000 (USD25) per night. Food is also not a problem for any backpacker on a tight budget as the Pad Thai (thai Noodles) only cost you around Baht25.00 per serving that's filling enough.

Novelty shirts are also everywhere and when you walk around Khao San Road, you have the feel of having a stroll along the beach seems like people from Thailand's beaches extend the party at Khao San Road.

I think the basic reason I came to Station #14 is take a good picture at King Rama IV bridge...and I was able to do that...with a big bonus of seeing a fantastic backpacker's place called Khao San Road.

My friend plans to come back...I think he had a fabulous time at the Full Moon Party. He loves to back pack just about anywhere. And I don't think he'll grow tired of being a backpacker. Oh, I hate to make him famous...but if you are curious enough, here's my friend, ABU!

Popular Posts