Category: Fun

The longest Christmas

Christmas Light & Sound show at Ayala Gardens, Makati


“Where would you find the most Christmas spirit in the world? It’s hard to say for certain, but if a global competition were to be held, the Philippines would have an excellent shot at winning.

“The southeast Asian island nation has the world’s longest festive season — and pulls no punches in its celebratory zeal for the period, with lavish light displays, masses, and festivals held throughout the country from September until January.

“One of the most populous nations in Asia, the Philippines is an overwhelmingly Christian nation. Approximately 90% of Filipinos are Christian and 80% of those are Catholic, an influence gleaned from the country’s period as a Spanish colony from the sixteenth century until the end of the nineteenth.”

On CNN: The Philippines shows the world how to celebrate Christmas

Scenes from Run United 2 2011

I joined my second 5k run with the Unilab-sponsored Run United 2 at the Bonifacio Global City last Sunday.  The event was grander than the recently held Rexona Adventure Run, with more runners participating and lots of fun games and loot stalls set up at the venue, I believe. Our gun time was 5:50 AM, and I guess I managed to finish earlier this time.

Here are some photos that I took of us lining up at the many booths that were set up around the venue. Suffice it to say, our P650 joining fee was well worth the fun, singlet, and loot bags that contained medicine samples, vitamins, energy drinks, supplements, tumblers, juice and chocolate powder, Globe Tattoo sun visor, and a tube of Myra-e tinted moisturizer.

Run United 2 2011
Lining up at a game booth with Sandra.

Run United 2 2011
Awww… how cute!

Run United 2 2011
Event grounds at BGC

Run United 2011
He looked so out of place 🙁

Run United 2

The best way to end a fun Sunday morning: pigging out on seafood and loads of rice.

Unilab Run United 2011 Leg 2 loot bag
What’s in the loot bag.

Rexona Adventure Run 2011

Running is exercise. Exercise creates endorphins. Endorphins make you happy! Smiling for the official photog with running buddies, Kris and Sandy

After months of on-and-off running, I finally joined my first 5K race. Thanks to Sandra who invited me to join the Rexona (Men) Adventure Run, and much thanks to the heavens for giving us two weeks of nearly rain-free weather, which allowed me to prepare for the race. We had a great morning of fun marathon, games, freebies, and lots of photo-ops 🙂

DJ Chingggay Andrada hosted the event
I’m sure these two clocked in much more quickly than I did.

Thank you, trustworthy runners!

I was a bit disappointed with my run, on the other hand, as I already managed a faster pace the previous week. Oh well, I’ll try to make 5k in under 30 minutes next time. I’m just happy to finally strike another item off my “35 before 35″ list.

After running 5k and two hours of hanging about at the MOA concert grounds for freebies and picture taking, we trooped to the first decent open restaurant for heavy breakfast: Ya Kun Kaya Toast (“Uniquely Singapore”).

What’s in the loot bag: Pain reliever, Rexona products good for a year, hair care stuff, discount cards and stickers to Victoria Court. I’m not sure I’d be able to use the last two items.

Christmas wish ko lang!

Just a couple of items more, and my Christmas shopping is done.  On the other hand, as everybody else is making their wish lists, I’m joining the bandwagon although as usual, I end up giving gifts that I wish for to myself. Here be the Christmas “wish ko lang!” list:

  1. Kindle 3G/Wifi. I’d like to be able to carry around all my reading materials for when I have to pass the time or queue up at the taxi bay or access a reference.
  2. A tablet computer. Whether an iPad, a BlackBerry Playbook, or the Samsung Galaxy, I want one. I “wish ko lang!” for one.
  3. Clinique Happy – I guess this one will be fulfilled this Christmas, unless those pesky, marauding people at customs filch it.
  4. Another perfume that I love is Clean Eau de Parfum, but it’s hard to find in Manila. Fortunately, I’ve discovered that Watsons is selling it at 50% off. 
  5. A Wimax connection to replace sucky SmartBro. 
  6. The Adidas UP track jacket. 
  7. A new badminton racquet. I still have to think which brand and model to add to the arsenal. And while I’m at it…
  8. A new badminton bag like this one, which should be enough to hold two racquets, shoes, toiletries, and an extra set of clothes.
  9. A real leather satchel with enough compartments for my kikay kit, wallet, cell phone, notebook, book, keys, iPod, glasses, pens, flash cards…
  10. A round-trip plane ticket and a tournament ticket to next year’s Shanghai Open, assuming that Le Fed will play.
  11. Roger’s 2011 calendar.
  12. A round-trip ticket for my travel goal for 2011 autumn/winter. I know it’s still too far off,  but it’s never too early to prepare.  Moreover, I’d like to have a good reason to dig my winter coats and boots out of the storage.
  13. Any decent DSLR.
  14. A Pro account on Flickr. 
  15. An extra gig to finance my travel plans, shopping, and compulsive book buying habits.
  16. Successful launch of my projects.
  17. Health, wealth, love, safety and happiness. It’s about time.
  18. Better opportunities in 2011.

Make your own ‘Kay Ganda!’ logo

In response to the DOT’s failed attempt at rebranding Philippine tourism, someone who probably had a lot of time in their hands came up with a Facebook app that allowed people to create their own “Kay Ganda” logos. Here’s mine:

Make your own Kay Ganda! logo.

UPDATE: Advertising agency Campaigns and Grey has released a statement on the brainless slogan and plagiarism fiasco (emphases are mine):

Campaigns & Grey was called upon by the Department of Tourism for advice on a new branding exercise. There was hesitation on our end as we were familiar with the complex bidding process, and we were still owed by the past administration for services rendered. Our love for country prevailed.

From the beginning, it was clear that the actual campaign would be bidded out and that our work was merely to establish preliminary strategic directions. But suddenly, there was a pressing need for exploratory concepts to be shown in some travel industry events. Again, we warned the client that we were taking too many shortcuts. But it was agreed that there would be proper market research where multiple concepts will be thoroughly tested among the target markets i.e. North America, Korea, Japan, China etc.

Throughout this whole episode, we did not have a contract nor did we receive a single centavo.

Based on available market data, ‘Pilipinas Kay Ganda!’ was developed as one of five concepts for testing among the target segments. The intention of this particular concept was to come up with a novel line that visitors would find memorable, similar to Hawaii’s ‘Aloha’ or even the Japanese ‘Irasshaimase!’ and help regain Filipino pride in the long run.

From many different logo studies that we recommended, we were directed to use the Polska logo for inspiration. Again, this went through several revisions until the client approved a logo similar to the fonts of Polska. With the addition of several other Philippine elements like the tarsier, smiling coconuts and the sun, there was enough distinction to send the logo into market research. If findings showed negative reactions towards the logo or if respondents felt it was reminiscent of the Polska logo, it would be easier to dissuade the client from using it.

We repeatedly warned the client that it was premature to launch, or even preview the study, but apparently preparations for the tour operator event were already underway. We ourselves were shocked at the grand scale of what was supposed to be a mere glimpse to draw out a constructive exchange among industry partners. It was not surprising that media and the public took it as a done deal.

We shall take this experience as a cautionary tale against giving in to the client and allowing their overenthusiasm to override our better judgment. It was a reminder that the road to perdition is paved with good intentions.

I don’t think that Campaigns and Grey should so easily wash its hands off the whole rebranding FAIL deal because it did play its part in designing the Philippine logo while all along knowing full well that it was based on the Polska travel logo.  And why simply warn or remind the client that the slogan would not be effective? Sino ba ang mas nakakaalam–the pros or the DOT? 

Of course, PeNoy’s friends at DOT are a bunch of tools for even suggesting that the agency copy Poland’s logo design and going ahead with the Pilipinas kay ganda BS. They’re a bunch of tools for using Tagalog in a slogan that’s supposed to sell the Philippines to foreign travelers. Last time I checked, we were the only country that spoke Tagalog because the rest of the world couldn’t even find any compelling reason why it should learn to use our language.

They’re a bunch of tools for buying and using the domain without even checking that it was just a letter different from the pornographic If I had P100 million to burn, I would even buy that porn domain and do something to promote the image of Filipinas online; just google “filipino women” and see for yourself what I mean. It’s a crying shame as well that we have an army of SEO “experts” yet we have allowed this image of half of our population to flourish online.

On the whole, branding is not the Philippines biggest concern. What the government should focus on in order to promote tourism are order and security, anti-littering, and local transportation. Everytime I step out on the street, I have to remind myself that there is a pickpocket always waiting in the background for me to let my guards down. Two months ago, I lost my wallet containing almost a thousand bucks, an ATM, a MasterCard, and a gold VISA.

Metro Manila and every other urban area in the Philippines is simply filthy, overcrowded and polluted. We can’t blame Claire Danes and Prince Charles for describing Manila as they saw: grimy, filthy and smelling of cockroaches. And by God, don’t even get me started on local transportation. That our buses are lethal is an understatement; it’s not everyday that you hear news of buses jumping off steep slopes and bridges because bus drivers have violated every traffic rule in the book to meet his quota, but the past months have seen tragedies happen involving buses. Trains are overcrowded, Metro buses clog and cause horrendous traffic jams on major roads, jeepneys are the bane of urban transportation, and there is a good chance that every other taxi driver is just a mugger behind the wheel. That is why when a cab driver returns a wallet or other valuables left behind by an unwitting passenger, it becomes news.

And where do our effing travel taxes go? I’ve been to other countries and through other airports, but not once was I asked to pay travel taxes except at NAIA or the dilapidated Manila Domestic. Recently, there is a plan to charge travelers 100 pesos for all the unpaid overtime rendered by airport staff. WTF?

So, Pilipinas kay ganda? It’s more like Pilipinas, ang daming disgrasya.

It will take ages before the world forgets the hostage-taking fiasco wherein the Philippine police, the local media and the government failed to protect the Hong Kong tourists who perished in the hands of a deranged ex-policeman. And no, I’m not buying either the excuse that the tragedy was an “isolated case” because while it doesn’t happen everyday that a cop takes a busload of tourists hostage and fires at them at close range when his demands are not met, what happened on 8/23 was a result of an endemic and systematic corruption in the government, the police force, and in our culture. We have just taken it for granted that corruption at a grand, deadly scale exists, full stop.