My sister Myrna  moved to the US in 1984, and I missed her so much that I often wrote long letters. I took a look at some of my letters and was surprised to read about how I also talked about the political situation in our country in 1984.

Allow me to share some snippets of a letter I wrote on September 1984 (Italics are current comments)

September 8, 1984 (about inflation and gas scarcity)

Dear Myrna,

I have managed to save 3,000 pesos but this is only worth 1,500 early last year. Well, it’s better to save than have no money at all. (Inflation Rate in Philippines averaged 8.41 percent from 1958 until 2018, reaching an all time high of 62.80 percent in September of 1984 )… It’s no joke buying food nowadays. 

There’s another bad news…gasoline supply until Thursday unless the government will give gas dealers a share of the tax included in the price of the gasoline…oh well, the government really worsens the situation by requiring additional taxes. There’s going to be an increase in taxes again— the vehicle registration tax (up by 200% to 600% depending on the type of vehicle) and road’s user tax. What road are they talking about? How I wish I were a policy-maker or a big shot in government so I can contribute to the alleviation of this crisis…if only…that’s why I love Butch because he is also as concerned with me regarding the plight of the country. I dream that someday (when we get married ) he’ll be a top government official (assuming the system of government is changed) and we’d be actively participating in development programs if ever!!!!? I feel so helpless when I recommend policies for projects and yet implementation has yet to be realized. I’m optimistic that things will be for the better not in the short term but in the long run…it will take more than 10 years to be fully recovered.

Today’s Saturday and as usual Butch didn’t come. Well, maybe he couldn’t get gas. I wonder what would happen if gas ran out..there’d be no more economic activity and more havoc…ah shit the government.

September 10, 1984 (Typhoon Nitang)

I continue to hear/read so many unfortunate incidents regarding Typhoon Nitang, such as

  1. a pregnant woman was found dead but lying on a tree (In Negros Occidental)
  2. A farm tractor (this is heavy) was found 5 kilometers away
  3. A betamax machine in Surigao was found 3 kilometers away. Of course, out of order
  4. Hospital with no roof in Surigao

There was so many unbelievable stories. The wind must have been so powerful almost like a tornado (remember Wizard of Oz). The government now has a good excuse for diverting present political/economic problems. As Marcos said “Let us think of our country first and ourselves, last”. Look who is talking. Everyday, donations come in.

In our house in Cebu, our garage roof and the roof of the  house for the workers were also blown away.

September 25 – on the September 21 rally

What is new here? I learned the bakeshop wasn’t operational for 9 days since they didn’t have water and electricity for days.

Well, heard about the September 21 rally? They threw water at the rallyists. The water came from the canal..yuk!.

Other disasters…Mayon Volcano eruptions and another earthquake in Ilocos.

September 28 on UP Barricade

Today and yesterday, UP was barricaded by students all over the entrances. I had to sleep over at Butch apartment for two nights because I had lots of work to do.

The present situation is really tense . I feel the tension around. Last night, while I was at Butch apartment, I listened over the radio about a violent rally at “Welcome Rotonda”. I knew Butch was there and it really made me nervous hearing all the casualties..some students were shot!. The son of Dean Nemenzo was even shot. Fortunately Butch arrived. What a relief. It has been violent since Sept 21.

As for Butch, he’s planning to go to Cebu this sem break. He’s planning to make pamanhikan this sem break. Hopefully. I feel so restless already. I want to settle down . I feel the need. But I also feel scared. What with another devaluation next month. If ever we get married, I’ll make it very very simple so that expenses are minimal.

-end of snippets-

All of these were sent in one email. There was so much happening in one month: the inflation, the scarcity of gas, the devastation of Typhoon Nitang, September 21 rally, the devaluation of the dollar, increase of road taxes. It was like writing a diary and sent in one mail.  I am looking forward to the other things I wrote during the Marcos regime. To be continued,

The article, 16 essentials smartphone apps for travel was originally published at the Manila Times.

During the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) chaos, I had to rely on smartphone apps to make changes in my itinerary, check for airline status or help myself get comfortable while being stranded in an airport. I keep only a bare minimum of apps which have been helpful in my travels. These apps may also be useful in planning for your next trip.

1. Google Trips

Google Trips is like your “all in one” travel assistant because your plans and essential information are organized in one place, making it available even when you’re offline. Google bases the activity suggestions on your current location, travel reservations, flight details, tour itineraries and other information available in your emails from Gmail.


I use,, and when booking for accommodations, comparing prices or deals. is my preferred app because some reservations do not require a deposit until a few days before the reserved date. I use Airbnb when I book for the family because some hotel rooms can’t accommodate over three family members.

3. Hopper

I normally purchase airline tickets directly from the company’s website because there is no significant price difference from online travel booking websites. Since my schedule has gone haywire, I am now checking Hopper which allows one to book flights and accommodations. The app even advises you if it’s good to purchase now or to wait. It informs or notifies you the dates when it’s likely cheapest to fly.

4. Google Maps

Google Maps are so useful when commuting abroad. One needs an internet connection to search transit directions using this app. Plan before you leave for the transit stops. You can find the list of train and bus departures from certain locations by selecting “transit” as the mode of transportation. Type “OK maps” on Google Maps to get an offline map of any location.

5. Priority Pass

Priority Pass allows you access to airport lounges worldwide. Your credit card company gives this to you or you can subscribe independently. Priority Pass proved useful when I had a 21-hour layover at the Hong Kong International Airport. With a membership card, lounge prices are discounted at half the regular rates. I could sleep on a comfortable lounge chair, get a quick shower, charge my gadgets, and enjoy a sumptuous buffet breakfast and lunch.

If you don’t have a membership card, there is LoungeBuddy for iOS where one can get a list of lounge locations, which you can access for free or for a onetime fee.

6. Flight Aware

Flight Aware allows you to track real-time flight status and tracking maps of any commercial airline anywhere in the world. One can view flights, which have been re-routed to a different terminal or airport. If you check a location, you can view the air traffic.

7. Flio

Before I encountered Flio, I downloaded a lot of multiple airport-related apps. The Flio provides you with a map, a boarding pass scanner, and directions to shuttle buses and booking options. It also allows you to receive updates about boarding times, gate changes and delays.

8. Trip Advisor

I take the reviews of a tourist attraction or accommodations in TripAdvisor with a grain of salt. Positive or negative comments are usually subjective but at least you can manage your expectations.

The Lonely Planet Guides have always been a good resource for travelers even before the days of the internet or travel apps. One can download a city guide for offline use.

10. Google Translate

Google Translate converts words, phrases, and short sentences from one language to another. There are so many features. The “Instant Camera” translation allows you to use your camera to translate text instantly in 38 languages.

11. Air Help

This app may come in handy if your international trip is cancelled, delayed, or overbooked. The laws differ based on where you’re flying. The thing is my airline was not directly at fault so this may not apply to my situation or the others affected by the NAIA chaos caused by the Xiamen Airlines’ crash landing last August 17, 2018.

12. AccuWeather

AccuWeather is great for planning since it features 15-day forecast summaries, 5-day forecasts, and an accurate, minute-by-minute weather forecast for the next two hours with MinuteCast.

13. mobile wallet

An SMS about a temporary deactivation for outgoing services reached me at the airport because I forgot to pay my bill. I could pay from my online banking website but it would take 24 hours for to reflect the payment. Fortunately, I had pesos in my wallet and access to public WIFI. The payment center is linked to the Bayad Center. Within minutes, I received another SMS that my payment was received and 15 minutes later, my line was reconnected. You can pay 80-plus service providers through this app.

14. XE converter

XE is your go-to currency app that provides you with the mid-market rate, thus acting as a benchmark to foreign exchange rate providers.

15. Splitwise

If travelling with friends, the Splitwise app makes it easier to calculate shared expenses. The app keeps a running total over time so you can pay each other back in one big payment instead of a bunch of small ones.

16. Skype

With the number of messenger apps, communication is faster. However, when I need to call the mobile or landline number of any customer support, a Skype credit or subscription is useful. Some Skype subscriptions allow you to text any mobile phone worldwide. The downside is that the recipient can’t text you back on Skype but on your mobile number.

The best apps for travel are the ones that give you convenience: real-time information, advice, insights, and warnings. Downloading the right apps will make your travel experience less stressful, smoother, and enjoyable. Bon Voyage!