It is better to be “unfashionable” than to freeze to death Lauren, in San Francisco

That is the quote of my eldest daughter who visited San Francisco eight years ago and gave some tips to the stylish tropical native visiting San Francisco . It was supposed to be summer over there but well, it takes time to get used to cool weather.

When I visited my daughter in Melbourne that August month, it was winter. I was all packed with my winter coats, and the warm clothing but the heavy material would make me go over my baggage allowance. I had to discard the winter coats but managed to squeeze in a few trench coasts and left my scarves and shawls intact. It helps that my daughter and I share almost the same size so I bought clothes that both of us can share.

It does not matter if I don’t look stylish in this cold weather. I was just happy to be with my daughter.

I enjoyed spending my day just going around the city, briefing me on how the public transportation system worked. It amazed me at how my daughters are all grown up. I used to chaperone them on choir trips abroad. During one of those tours, I figured they needed to learn to travel on their own. I taught them how to pack their clothes, to be alert for their boarding times, to keep tab of their passport and documentation requirements. And of course, the nagging word “be careful”. True enough, my daughters started to travel without their mom by the age of 13 years old.

It’s their turn now to teach me how to travel around. Quite amusing, really. It is their turn to tell me ” don’t wander out at night…don’t get lost etc”. Of course I behaved like a good mother, listened to my daughters and took their words of caution.

Of all the haunting moments of motherhood, few rank with hearing your own words come out of your daughter’s mouth. ~Victoria Secunda

Here are some photos of my trip . I dragged my mobile office through my “walking bag”. Visiting art and photo galleries filled my first day.

I could not resist taking photos of protest against the communists. I must have looked too interested , even asking for the pamphlet, that the woman asked if I was a communist.

My daughter, my tourist guide, my photographer.

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!

This was originally published at the Manila Times on August 26, 2018

Travel is an adventure, I thought. However, when I had an eye-opening experience of a cancelled flight followed by a boarding delay of several hours, I could best describe it as “Noemi’s Chaotic Adventure”. The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) runway closure due to Xiamen Air flight MF 8667’s crash landing exposed major weaknesses in NAIA’s operations. NAIA has four terminals but it could only use two runways, one plane at a time. Its closure led to the cancellation of several flights, leaving thousands of passengers stranded at the NAIA terminals or various airports around the world. I was one of those stranded, irate passengers. My “tale of inconvenience” from the flight cancellation and delays is not as bad as the stories of my fellow travelers on Cathay Pacific flight CX 902 bound for Amsterdam Schiphol, originally scheduled for August 17, 2018.

My plans covered traveling with my sister and visiting my daughter in Europe, complete with train tickets and accommodations. When NAIA announced on its Twitter account that the runway would open at 12 noon but eventually moved the schedule to 4:00 pm of August 17, I felt optimistic that I could still leave on time at 8:00 pm. The Twitter account of Cathay Pacific, including the flight status in its app, didn’t update the passengers of status changes. I arrived at Terminal 3 before 4 p.m. only to hear another announcement that the runway would reopen at 7 p.m.

This 7 p.m. timetable was moved to 5 a.m. on August 18. Bad weather conditions or pilot error could have caused Xiamen Air flight MF 8667 to crash-land at NAIA Terminal 1’s runway. This is an issue that needs a separate investigation. Miguel, a Twitter user, questioned NAIA: “What were the bases of their previous announcements? The fact that the runway opening has been postponed so many times in the last 24 hours simply meant that NAIA management had no plans in place with no knowledge of what they are doing!”


What annoyed me is that NAIA didn’t seem to have a crisis plan to remove the 43-ton Chinese aircraft that was stuck on the runway. NAIA thought it could remove the Xiamen plane with their equipment — but the soil was too soft. Crisis management covers any plane stuck in the mud or concrete runway.


While re-booking on the same flight for the next day had no extra charge, the Grab car ride back home took another three hours. What about the passengers who came from the provinces? Did they have accommodations? I enabled account notification for the @MIAAGovPH and @cathaypacific to alert me of any updates. Sure enough, it alerted me that the 5 a.m. departure was changed to 12 noon. I also observed that many social media-savvy passengers openly complained to whoever would listen on their Facebook or Twitter accounts. Searching for #NAIA horror stories were enough to make me appreciate that I would only have to miss one day of my European vacation, or so I thought.

After three hours of queuing at the Cathay Pacific counter, I finally got to check in. I hoped that the plane would leave on time so I could catch my connecting flight in Hongkong but someone told me that there was a long queue of planes trying to land at NAIA. I confirmed that there were planes going around in circles above the NAIA terminal from the Flight Aware app, a flight tracker and flight status app.

When I arrived at 3:30 a.m. on August 19 at the Hong Kong International Airport, I made my way to the Transfer Desk. Majority of the passengers in our flight had to re-book their connecting flights. A seaman had to return to the Philippines because his ship would have left by the time he arrived at his destination. A woman in a wheelchair lamented that she missed her group bound for Madrid. My sister and I could not get another flight to Amsterdam until 21 hours later.

Cathay Pacific did not want to compensate me with lounge access but instead provided HK$450 meal vouchers. The customer service representative at the counter said it was Manila’s fault. While the meal vouchers were useful, a place to take a nap other than public seats was an immediate need. Fortunately, I had two memberships with access to airport lounges: Dragon Pass (given to Citibank Premiere Miles cardholders) and Priority Pass. The latter was more useful because the former did not reflect my credit card purchases. In the airport lounge, I took a nap, had my shower, and ate buffet meals.

Lounge access is an added cost, including non-refundable expenses such as paid accommodations and train tickets. Will I ever recover some of these expenses? A quick look at my travel insurance, a requirement for a Schengen visa, did not look promising for flight cancellation and delays because “causes of delays” only covered: (1) delay caused by severe weather conditions; (2) delay due to strike or other job action by employees of the airline on which the insured is scheduled to travel; and (3) delay caused by the equipment failure of the aircraft on which the insured is scheduled to travel.

This is my woeful story about how it took almost three days to reach my destination. How will other passengers who missed work, events, and vacation plans recover from lost income or opportunity? Will Xiamen Airlines pay for the damages? Should our airline have been more helpful? Should NAIA also take responsibility? Will the travel insurance company cover the NAIA runway closure as a cause of delay or cancellation?

“This incident served as an eye-opener — a reminder for us to take a second look at the processes, procedures, and protocols of concerned agencies, as well as airlines, so that we may all improve in the future,” Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said in a statement after the NAIA runway was reopened after a 36-hour closure.

This “incident”, the term authorities will describe my chaotic adventure, is an eye-opener for everyone. These people-in-the-know possibly followed an agreed-upon process that would protect NAIA and the airlines from costly litigation. The government owes it to every passenger to make sure that “this case of chaos” does not happen again. Don’t allow the “Xiamen crash landing” to become a standard in NAIA crisis management.

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” — Lao Tzu

To reach that single step here in Germany took me almost three days  and whole lot of patience. I will write more about my adventure during the NAIA chaos which took off two days off my vacation plans.  I was travelling with my younger sister who has been so cool despite the chaos we were into.  I had to nurse a bump on my head when my husband accidentally closed the trunk door. Fortunately , it was just a slight bump that went away after the ice pack. (Smile)

Take two at the NAIA Terminal 3, delayed for five hours  and I am still smiling because I am terribly excited to see my daughter and start my adventure with my sister. (Smile)

I arrived in Hongkong on Sunday only to miss our connecting flight to Amsterdam. Still smiling.

Fortunately I got access to an airport lounge which gave me some time to nap and have a shower. Still smiling.

The sunrise near the Amsterdam-Schipol airport is lovely. (Smile)

This is the first time ever that I am dragging a heavy luggage but the thought of seeing my daughter is enough to give me the strength. (Smile)

I am finally in her flat. Happy!

Yes, I am still smiling. A sunny day by the Rhine River  with my daughter is comforting. The flowers from her friend is pretty. All that adventure and living through the NAIA chaos is finally over. It was worth the trip no matter what route I took. (Wider smile this time)

So, yesterday I had time to sit in the park and reflect on the beauty around me. (Smile)

It was 25 Celsius in this part of Germany and wearing a hat is not just to protect me from the sun but also from the wasps or hornets. (Smile)

Even it is a bad hair day for me, I am excited to see Berlin. 34 years ago when I visited Germany, there was still a wall that  cut off West Berlin from virtually all of surrounding East Germany and East Berlin . Always smiling.

I will not allow chaos to ruin my vacation. Travel is taking a journey into myself and knowing that I can still enjoy what the universe has in store for me.  There are more smiles to show off.


 I aspire to spread awareness, interest and advocacy of what ASEAN can bring for our children’s future and how it benefits citizens in the ASEAN.

aspire asean awareness

My goals in my prime time years is to be productive, continue to learn, and educate myself to new career paths. To aspire to be the best that I can be. No one is ever too old to grab opportunities.  You must have read my post on  my involvement  with the year long activities of the Association of South East Asian Nations or ASEAN 2017 summit as Senior Consultant for ALL Media Engagement under the PCOO led Committee on Media Affairs and Strategic Communications (CMASC),  ASEAN National Organizing Council (NOC).  I have never been so busy in my life travelling all over the Philippines, covering the ASEAN roadshows or school tours.

aspire asean awareness

I find my ASEAN work so relevant  not only for the Philippines but for the rest of the nine ASEAN member states.  It is my goal to spread awareness and advocacy of what ASEAN can do for our children’s future.  Megawati Sukarnoputri , the daughter of Sukarno, said that “the future of our country lies in the hands of today’s children which is why the duty of ensuring our children’s future not only lies in the hands of their parents, but society as well.”  Giving kids a bright future is  ASEAN’s responsibility . Since January, I have been part of the ASEAN CMASC campaign to spread awareness and educate the public about the ASEAN. Our objective is to let every Filipino and ASEAN citizen know what their stake is in the Community.


I love what I do and I will continue to aspire to be the best I can to spread awareness to our ASEAN citizens. You might also want to read my article on the 10 opportunities and benefits for citizens in the ASEAN. I also have written about Opportunities for your children in the ASEAN.

So far my travels have brought me to Davao, Pampanga, Baguio, Boracay, Cebu and Iloilo.

asean awareness

ASEAN launch and ASEAN -PCOO roadshow

During the first event as the Chair of ASEAN, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte opened the important gathering with a speech that further discussed the theme  “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World.

Launch of the chairship of the ASEAN Socio cultural pillar in Pampanga

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) aims to enhance efforts towards a “People-oriented, people-centered ASEAN.” 


ASEAN PCOO roadshow in Baguio

The attendance of the roadshow at the Elizabeth Hotel was so huge that the hashtag #ASEAN2017 trended from 9:00 AM till 1:00 PM with  its peak at number 2 at around 11:25 AM that February 3.

Covering ground activities of ASEAN Senior Officials’ Meeting in Boracay

Human rights were included in the the 23rd Meeting of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR).  The following commemorative activities will be the Launch of the Regional Action Plan on Mainstreaming the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the ASEAN Community; AICHR Youth Debate on Human Rights; and 50th Anniversary Edition of the AICHR Booklet and Video.

ASEAN PCOO roadshow in Cebu and launch of the ASEAN Information Kiosks

The  roadshows also include the launch of the ASEAN information kiosks where  comics and other reading materials, written in different Philippine dialects are distributed free of charge.

ASEAN information kiosk at the Iloilo City Hall

17th ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Council (ASCC) Meeting and the school tours

In the Iloilo meeting, two key documents of ASEAN Leaders’ Declaration on the Role of Civil Service as Catalysts for Achieving the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, and the ASEAN Declaration for the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers will be submitted to the 30th ASEAN Summit to be held late April.

I am glad I have the gadgets and tools that I need to be mobile and efficient in the crafting of digital content on the event highlights and share it to my social media network such as twitter, facebook, Instagram , and LinkedIN. Though only 58% of the Filipinos are online ,  the combination of offline activities as well  online engagement will  allow citizens to understand how ASEAN benefits them. This way, no one is left behind as CMASC reach out to those without access to the Internet or traditional media.

acer aspire

I continue to aspire to raise ASEAN awareness on our campaign that speaks to everyone, from all walks of life– from government workers, media, NGOs, civil society, the academe, business sector, the youth and event the grassroots communities.

You might also want to read my article on the 10 opportunities and benefits for citizens in the ASEAN. I also have written about Opportunities for your children in the ASEAN and the  Six thematic priorities of the Philippines as ASEAN chair.

I am so excited. I will soon get a chance to visit Palawan again and this time around, I will stay at the Astoria Palawan. 


My winning instagram photo with a 3 day two night stay at the Astoria Palawan

I will be back soon, Palawan. The last time I visited Palawan, I wrote “Six things I enjoyed during my visit ”  so I was so excited when I got invited to the launch of Astoria Palawan. I was there to celebrate the completion of two facilities: the much awaited 1-hectare Palawan Waterpark and the world-class Mangrove Convention Center.  Palawan will not only receive tourists because these developments usher Astoria Palawan’s bid to become Palawan’s top-of-mind venue for business travelers who seek a balance between work and play.


The Astoria Palawan is situated on a sprawling 5-hectare mango orchard in Brgy. San Rafael, Puerto Princesa, Astoria Palawan presents an eco-sanctuary experience that reflects the distinct charm of Palawan and the lifestyle of Palaweños.

The strategic location and leisure activities complements Palawan’s eco-sanctuary experience. Imagine work and leisure at the same time. I believe it is an ideal choice of MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) travelers.

Let me give you a tour of the development:

Expect a musical welcome from the Batak Tribe, one of the last remaining aboriginal tribes in the Philippines.

Astoria Palawan Entrance


Astoria Palawan

The Water park

Astoria Palawan Mangrove

The Mangrove Convention center

The Mangrove Convention Center accomodates the increasing need for off-site meetings, conferences, team building sessions, and exhibition venues in the country.

Astoria Palwan Mangrove main function hall

Mangrove main function hall

Astoria Palawan Pool

The Pool

What is a resort without fun activities on the beach. Working by the beach makes me happy. There is just something magical at the beach. Time doesn’t move hour to hour but mood to moment. It is as if I live by the currents, plan by the tides and follow the sun.

I am glad there is wide array of in-resort activities for travelers, like swimming in Honda Bay, snorkeling in the house reef.

Astorial Palawan Pool at night

The  Pool at night

There are soothing in-room massages, movie screenings underneath the stars, beach volleyball, golf cart rides, and mountain bike rides.

Astoria Palawan Waterpark

The Waterpark

Look at that majestic Waterpark! It has water geysers, bamboo water cannons, splash pads, wave pools and beautiful artwork of Palawan’s endemic flora and fauna and high corkscrew slides, which will surely provide so much fun for adults and kids of all ages. I can’t wait to try it!

Astoria Palawan Pool

The Pool

Astoria Palawan One Bedroom Suite

 One Bedroom Suite

There are  72 spacious and well-appointed private accommodations housed in 13 leaf-shaped wooden cabin villas.

Astoria Palawan two bedroom suite

 two bedroom suite

There you have it . How exciting for business and tourists.

Astoria Palawan is the latest addition to Astoria Hotels and Resort’s portfolio, with a presence in well-loved Philippine destinations: Boracay, Bohol and Palawan. It is located in Kilometer 62 North National Highway, Bgy. San Rafael, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, Philippines. For more information, please visit Astoria Palawan website at, follow them on Facebook.

“As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.” – Ezekiel 1:28

What do you do when a rainbow graces its presence upon you? Well, my first instinct is to take a photo. A year ago, my sister and I travelled all the way to Tagaytay to meet up with my brother over the weekend. There were slight rains that day as we sipped coffee at the Bag O Beans.  Such a beautiful day to be together. I just wanted to hold that moment and enjoy the company of my siblings and the chilly breeze at the veranda.

rainbow in taal lake

It is not often that my brother is in the Philippines and we took this opportunity to just have small talk and gaze at the view of Taal lake.  Earlier that day, we had breakfast by Taal Vista where we had the view of the other side of Taal Volcano.

with my brother

The first rainbow photo I took was when I was with my daughter in Tasmania in 2011. I believe rainbows mean blessings. “A Rainbow is one of the most beautiful artistic creations that Nature herself can paint for us. When we are given the opportunity to view a rainbow ,  we become mesmerized and enchanted by the breathtaking beauty which appears in the untouchable distance; a Beauty which comes to us directly from the paintbrush of Divinity.”

rainbow in tasmania

This rainbow photo was taken during a bus ride from the airport to our hotel in Tasmania shortly after lunch. Now that my daughter is in Europe, I treasure these memories of our travels.


A year ago , it was amazing to spot this rainbow while strolling with my husband, one rainy afternoon in Vienna at around 5:00 PM.

rainbow in vienna12

I moved closer to get an uninterrupted view of the rainbow. Pretty soon,  some bystanders took photos as well.

rainbow in vienna1

I will never forget this afternoon walk with my husband. We really didn’t know where to go in Vienna so we just strolled aimlessly until we spotted this rainbow. It just felt romantic being there at the moment.

rainbow in vienna

An unforgettable rainbow experience  was after visiting the grave of my son in 2000.  Looking down at my son’s gravestone, I asked my son to give me a sign of hope. As I left the park that afternoon..behold the rainbow. I was not able to take a photo of that rainbow moment but looking at it gave me hope, that I could achieve a new normal after the death of my son. It is said that “God gave us the rainbow as a symbol of the trustworthiness of His promises – as a symbol of hope in Him.” If you believe in God, this is just heartwarming.

Nevertheless, beholding a rainbow is a gift . As I encounter its beauty, I take this opportunity to be grateful for all the gifts in my life.

You might want to ponder over the potential messages of the rainbow:

1. Is it time to take a fresh look at the opportunities available to us?

2. There is always another way. What other options can we see?

3. Are we prepared to move into a new light, and see things with a new perspective?

4. Are we ready to cross over from one phase of life to another?

5. What kinds of promises have we made in our lives, and are we honoring those promises?

6. Likewise, what kinds of promises do we expect from others? Are they reasonable? Are they being upheld?

7. What’s the condition of our connection (bridge) to our Higher Power (the deity of our understanding)?

8. Are we ready to be initiated into a new dimension of living?

uling roasters liston manok 1

When I eat lechon manok, I ponder… how was this roasted? What seasonings went into this chicken? Why does it taste so yummy? It never occured to me that a Lechon Manok went through a long chain of process from the farm to the table until I visited my hometown  Cebu for a Familiarization (fam) Tour of the Bounty Agro Ventures, Inc (BAVI) facilities.  BAVI is the second largest broiler integrator “in the Philippines and the dominant market leader for roasted chicken.  It operates close to 1,200 company-owned rotisserie stores under 3 brands: Chooks to Go, Uling Roasters and Reyal.” I am sure you are familiar with these brands. I use Bounty Fresh Chicken for my cooking needs at home.

bounty fresh chicken

If you are familiar with Bounty Fresh Chicken, then you will be interested to know more about their integrated operations. BAVI is a poultry integrator company and a member of the Bounty Fresh Group of Companies. The company is fully supported by hundreds of broiler contract farms, dozens of hatcheries, feed mills, poultry processing plants and processed meat plants.
BAVI tour in cebu safety first

Being a food technologist graduate, I worked in manufacturing plants but never in  chicken processing . It felt like the good old days, wearing a white gown, boots , mask and cap at BAVI facilities. Let me give you the top 6 highlights of  the BAVI fam tour.

I think it’s  important for all of you to get a good grasp of where our chicken originates and of the processes involved in getting it from Farm to Fork.

  1. The company-owned Hatchery located in Sitio Pilapilan, Dawis Norte, Carmen, North Cebu

It was a beautiful sunny day when we reached the hatchery . I  did not expect so much biosecurity procedure  before entering the premises and even the blue colored office.  Our van got sprayed with some liquid disinfectant. To help prevent the introduction of infection to the hatchery  or transfer from one building to another,  biosecurity procedures are put into place and adhered to at all times.


Slippers were provided but I still had to wade in the disinfectant footdip, containing a broad spectrum virucidal disinfectant solution.

hatchery BAVI

I wasn’t ready to take a shower which was needed to observe the hatchery itself but  I got an overview . The hatchery has 16 machine units and at full utilization, it  can produce Day Old Chick (DOC) at the output of up to 392,112 weekly (24,507 each units) and/or 1,568,464 monthly (98,029 each units). Wow, that’s a lot.


2. Over 400 contract growers

I did not get to visit the contract growers due to limited time but I want to put this here to complete the chain. There is a combination of conventional open sided houses and modern closed  or controlled environment farms.
BAVI Contract growers

3. Inoza Feed Mill Plant at North Cebu

Located in Sitio Bali-Bali, Brgy Cogon, Compostela, North Cebu, the feed mill is owned by INOZA a sister company of BAVI, and  operated by Mr. Jerome G. Cinco referred to as Feed Mill Toll Operator .

bounty fresh tour

I didn’t need to take a shower to check out the feed mill but for biosecurity reasons, I had to wear a white lab gown, hard hat and mask.

BAVI Trip feedmill

The feed mill has a capacity of 3,200 bags of feeds daily production, expandable up to 6,400 bags .

BAVI Trip feedmill

I often wondered why the taste of eggs differ among the suppliers. I discovered that the taste of the egg is affected by the quality of the feed. Feed is carefully formulated by BAVI for the optimal protein levels for various chicken ages.

BAVI Trip feedmill 2JPG

4.  Daily Fresh Foods, Inc. at South Cebu

This Toll Poultry Processing Plant (or Dressing Plant), located in Brgy Inayagan, Naga City, South Cebu is owned and operated by Ms. Herminia Dayon.  The capacity of the plant is a line speed of 2,100 birds or broilers per hour or 16,800 birds for 8-hours dressing, expandable up to 24,000 birds dressing a day .

BAVI chickens

This is the first stop when the chickens are stunned before they are killed and dressed.  The chickens are hung and de-feathered by an automative process.

chicken processing

“Safety first” is plastered all over the plant.

white boots at the BAVI processing

I had to wear white boots this time with hair net, mask and white gown.

BAVI tour safety first 1

Before entering the processing plant, I went through the handwashing and wading through the footdip.

handwashing area at BAVI

This is where I observed how the chickens are segregated as to size and weight.

BAVI processing

Some are marinated and most of these are  used for the Chooks-to-go brand which is marketed as the only roast chicken that can be enjoyed without sauce (masarap kahit walang sauce).

BAVI Trip processing 1

Chooks-to-Go offers oven-roasted chicken in sweet and pepper roast flavors. Fried Chooks is chicken that is fried after roasting, creating a deep flavoured taste.

marinate BAVI chicken

Fresh Chicken, Chicken Cut-Ups and Marinado are available under the Chooksie’s brand.

chooks to go

5. Uling Roasters in Mandaue City

After visiting the hatchery, the feed mill and the dressing plant, it is now time to taste the final product.  The catchy tagline ‘Di ‘raw’ masyadong masarap pero pwede na.’ amused me.

uling roasters litson manok

Mr. Ronald Mascariñas, President and General Manager of Bounty Agro Ventures, Inc. explains:

That tagline started as a joke but that joke stuck. Every time we shared the joke with various groups people are always amused. We eventually saw that as an opportunity to differentiate given that all other brands have various claims that they are the best or # 1 for so and so reasons. Nobody is making a claim that they are second best…The sloppy tagline encouraged trial, boosted name recall of the brand Uling Roasters and more importantly same store sales went up significantly with the wild re-branding. This tagline may be here for long.

uling roasters store

I love the inasal flavor. I wished there are more stalls in Metro Manila.

uling roasters

BAVI is extremely lucky to create a niche in  the oven roasted chicken . I can see they will soon become a dominant market leader in the roasted chicken industry.

uling roasters chicken

6. Giving the people the best so they can be the best 

What I love best about the Cebu Fam tour is knowing that they value the people behind BAVI . Mr. Ronald Mascariñas,  ” saw the wisdom and benefit in the Toastmasters system of developing leaders through mentoring in writing and speaking.”

BAVI president

He said, “I want to develop their potentials, so they can be of help to one another. I will not allow my employees to miss this opportunity.”  I can see it aligns with their company values by giving professional and personal development.

BAVI vision

The BAVI fam tour enlightened me on the journey of the chicken adobo, roasted chicken, tinolang manok on the table, from the farm to my fork.

I love to travel and explore places that I have never been to. I want to get wonderfully lost in the Northern Mariana Islands which has three principal islands : Saipan , Tinian , and Rota.

Coast near Forbidden Island, Saipan. Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, Saipan by David Burdick. Some rights reserved.

Coast near Forbidden Island, Saipan. Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, Saipan by David Burdick via Flickr  . Some rights reserved.

Yes, I want to  “Explore the Charm of the Islands” with my sister and two good friends.

Saipan, Northern Marianas by . Some rights reserved

Bird Island, Saipan, Northern Marianas by via flickr. Some rights reserved

The tropical climate is similar to my beloved country but there is something to do in the Northern Mariana Islands that I want to strike out on my bucket list .Actually I have two things in my bucket list that I will meet when I visit the Marianas.  And what is that?

Bring my sister and two good friends to  “explore the charm of the islands” and to visit the  latte sites .

House of Taga, Tinian, Northern Mariana Islands. by Kevin Dooley. Some rights reserved.

House of Taga, Tinian, Northern Mariana Islands. by Kevin Dooley via Flickr. Some rights reserved.

The Mariana Islands are home to “the only known latte stone historical sites in the world. Tinian’s House of Taga and the As Nieves Taga Quarry at Rota, as well as other latte sites on Saipan..” These are priceless symbols of Chamorro culture.

Now that is unique to Northern Mariana Islands .

Cap Taga Stone The island of Rota, CNMI (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) by Michael Lusk. Some rights reserved.

Cap Taga Stone
The island of Rota, CNMI (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) by Michael Lusk via flickr. Some rights reserved.

Wikipedia says “Latte stones have been made of limestone, basalt, or sandstone.” The largest standing latte is the House of Taga in Tinian, where capstones measure between 2.7 – 2.48 meters in diameter and shafts are 3.87 – 4.23 meters long. The Chamorros never completed what would have been the largest latte in the Marianas. Those latte elements remain in the quarry at the As Nieves in Rota. The northern most latte sets or structures are located on the island of Pagan.”

House of Taga, Tinian, Northern Mariana Islands by Kevin Dooley. Some rights reserved.

House of Taga, Tinian, Northern Mariana Islands by Kevin Dooley via flickr Some rights reserved.

What is the story behind this latte architecture? I would love to visit these historical sites and know more about this significant icon of the Chamorro people.

Even if I have crossed out the visit to the Latte sites, I will continue to “Explore the charm of the islands”.

There are other charming places to explore in Saipan, Tinian and Rota islands. One charm is the variety of birds.  Did you know that the Northern Mariana Islands have a total of 104 bird species, of which one is endemic, one has been introduced by humans and three are rare or accidental? Five species are globally threatened. Next on my list is bird-watching .

The island of Rota, CNMI (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands). June 2010. Provides breeding for red-footed boobies, brown boobies and brown noddies. by Michael Lusk. Some rights reserved.

The island of Rota, CNMI (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands). June 2010.
Provides breeding for red-footed boobies, brown boobies and brown noddies. by Michael Lusk via Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Maybe I can spot the  Micronesian megapode , a “stocky medium-sized bird that is mostly dark brownish-black in appearance. Its head is paler than its body, and it has a pale grey crest, a yellow bill, and large dull-yellow legs and feet.” I wouldn’t mind  hearing its “keek-keer-keet” cackle.

Micronesian megapode (Megapodius laperouse) by Michael Lusk. Some rights reserved.

Micronesian megapode (Megapodius laperouse) taken in the Sariguan , Northern Mariana Islands,  by Michael Lusk via flickr. Some rights reserved.

Another charm is the Grotto in Saipan as a unique diving spot with “a collapsed limestone cavern and a pool of cobalt-blue seawater filled by three underwater passageways.” I don’t dive though but I hope to just go near the cave just so I can catch a glimpse of the whitetip sharks,turtles, titan triggerfish, parrotfish, and  corals.

The Grotto, Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands. by Kevin Dooley . Some rights reserved.

The Grotto, Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands. by Kevin Dooley  via flickr. Some rights reserved.

Or explore the charming beaches through a road trip and island hopping adventure. It would be great to explore the Managaha, a white sand beach-fringed island which is just a short boat ride away from Saipan. Or explore other beaches in Tinian Island.

Kammer Beach, SW Tinian,

Kammer Beach, SW Tinian,by Stefan Krasowski

While the Marianas is known for its sun and sand, the islands are also known for its history.  “The island is now a US territory in the Pacific, as the Americans won it from the Japanese during World War II.”  Perhaps we can take a submarine tour and see if we can spot the  sunken Japanese warships at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

 Micro Beach, Saipan, Northern Marianas

Micro Beach, Saipan, Northern Marianas by tata_aka_T in flickr. Some rights reserved.

I can envision it now. As the day ends, my friends and I will lie on the sand and watch the dazzling sunset at the Micro Beach. Perhaps, we will be sipping red wine, laughing and telling stories of our silly past. Maybe, we will just be…meditating for being blessed and witnessing this spectacular and colorful sunsets.

The four of us will surely love the adventure as we explore the charm of the islands…. the Northern Mariana Islands.



Blogapalooza in partnership with the Marianas Visitors Authority is celebrating its 5th year anniversary by holding a contest for a free, all-expense paid adventure to the Northern Mariana Islands.

Time And health are two precious assets that we don’t recognize and appreciate until they have been depleted. – Denis Waitley

Riding a train on our way to Abbottsford five years ago, I pondered over my vacation to Melbourne. All I could think of at first was how expensive this vacation is. Everything cost more than back home and that is partly because I am staying in a hotel in the central business district. Once I started converting Australian dollars to pesos, I feel like I am splurging when that is not really the case. The standard of living is just high here. But see, life is short fretting on material things that it is actually the time spent with my daughter that is most precious. There is a tendency for human beings to have this infinite capacity for taking things for granted. I don’t want to make that mistake.

I loved spending time with my daughter. She is like me in so many ways. We enjoy the arts, having lazy brunches and just chilling and enjoying the scenery. My daughter wanted to show me graffiti art in Hosier Lane where graffiti is not considered vandalism. Graffiti has long been a part of human history, but it wasn’t until the emergence of hip hop culture that graf began gaining recognition as an art form around the globe.

I like how supportive the City of Melbourne is towards their artists. The artwork decorating the walls near number 1 Hosier Lane and near Misty Place at number 3-5 Hosier Lane have been approved as registered street artwork. There is symbolisms out there for every artwork.

I get into the mind of Banksy , a prolific graffiti artist from Bristol, UK, whose artwork has appeared throughout Bristol, London and other locations around the world to understand graffiti art.

Is graffiti art or vandalism? That word has a lot of negative connotations and it alienates people, so no, I don’t like to use the word ‘art’ at all.

“Graffiti is one of the few tools you have if you have almost nothing. And even if you don’t come up with a picture to cure world poverty you can make someone smile while they’re having a piss.”

“People say graffiti is ugly, irresponsible and childish. But that’s only if it’s done properly.”

” I never use sketchbooks in the way you imagine a “real” artist does – perched in a terrace cafe with a pencil capturing the essence of their muse. I tried that once when I was on holiday with a girl, but her nose came out so big in the drawing that she never let me touch her again.”

“Bus stops are far more interesting and useful places to have art than in museums. Graffiti has more chance of meaning something or changing stuff than anything indoors. Graffiti has been used to start revolutions, stop wars, and generally is the voice of people who aren’t listened to. Graffiti is one of those few tools you have if you have almost nothing. And even if you don’t come up with a picture to cure world poverty you can make somebody smile while they’re having a piss.”

“A lot of people never use their initiative because nobody told them to”.

“Art is not like other culture because its success is not made by its audience. The public fill concert halls and cinemas every day, we read novels by the millions, and buy records by the billions. ‘We the people’ affect the making and quality of most of our culture, but not our art.”

“I like to think I have the guts to stand up anonymously in a western democracy and call for things no-one else believes in – like peace and justice and freedom.”

“Writing graffiti is about the most honest way you can be an artist. It takes no money to do it, you don’t need an education to understand it and there’s no admission fee.”

“A lot of people think that scuttling around stencilling images onto buildings in the middle of the night is the action of a sad, frustrated individual who can’t get attention or recognition any other way. They might be right, but I’ve done gallery shows and, if you’ve been hitting on people with all sorts of images in all sorts of places, they’re a real step backwards, painting the streets means becoming an actual part of the city. It’s not a spectator sport.”

“Remember crime against property is not real crime. People look at an oil painting and admire the use of brushstrokes to convey meaning. People look at a graffiti painting and admire the use of a drainpipe to gain access.”

“T.V. has made going to the theatre seem pointless, photography has pretty much killed painting but graffiti has remained gloriously unspoilt by progress.”

I can discern the political nature behind the art. These artists definitely think outside the box. I know I have limitations in my visual literacy but I allowed an open mind to appreciate their work. I believe that to truly appreciate a work of art, we must bring with us nothing from life, no knowledge of its affairs and ideas, no familiarity with its emotions.

Most of the photos attributed to my daughter M, using a Nikon D7000. Some are from my iPhone