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Month: December 2013 (Page 1 of 2)

Get Shit Done 600x240px

35 Quick Tips on Productivity

Get more shit done, with Renzie Baluyut.

Startup evangelist Anna Vital had done a fair amount of traveling, which means working from anywhere in the world, and getting as much stuff done no matter where she is.

In a post she shared on her site, Ms. Vital points out some habits shared by Steve Jobs, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg. One such habit:

They all wear the same thing every day. Barack chooses between two suits every morning – grey or navy, Zuckerberg has a drawer of 20 identical grey t- shirts. When each of them were asked why they do this, the answer is to save time and avoid making small decisions so they can be more productive.

(Note to self: need to look into the work habits of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.)

Here’s an infographic she put together, featuring a good number of tips on better productivity.

Tech

  • Tune out the news. Nothing important happens most of the time, anyway
  • Do not answer the phone, unless it’s a true emergency. (And even then, emergencies are rare)
  • Learn to use keyboard shortcuts.
  • Limit email replies to one per minute.
  • If you can’t understand what an email asks, don’t answer.

Clothes

  • Design your fashion uniform. Wear it daily.
  • Wear smart fabrics.
  • Carry an all-occasion outfit with you.
  • Discard what you stop using.

Hacks

  • Visualize your end product.
  • Start before you feel ready. Avoid the chicken-and-egg mindset.
  • Assume you are right, when in doubt. Being decisive is being productive.
  • If you have a mind block, make a mind map.
  • If you can’t write it down, record it.
  • When you read something helpful, write to the author.

Body

  • Manage anxiety. Run, swim or dance.
  • Sleep more. You will get more done.
  • Take naps when energy runs low.

Schedule

  • Do easiest things first.
  • Prioritize one item per day.
  • Set a daily routine.
  • No meetings unless they are decisive.
  • Better done than perfect.

Food

  • Routinize your diet.
  • Eat healthy food.
  • Get delivery to save time.
  • Negotiate a daily deal with your trusted cafe.

Mind

  • Notice the 80/20 rule: which 20% of work produces 80% of results?
  • Focus on the important. Suppress the urgent.
  • Decide the outcome before even starting.
  • Start an ‘Idea Dump’ book for genius ideas you can’t work on now.
  • Eliminate trivial decisions, like what to wear.
  • Learn to ignore. No need to respond to everything.
  • Do a bad first draft. You can’t edit a blank page.
  • Treat time as your money.

More on Anna Vital

Anna Vital is a lawyer, and one of the key people behind Funders and Founders– a group of startup evangelists and infographic authors, whose mission is to inspire everyone from engineers to moms to do a startup.

Ms. Vital started hacking when she was 11 (back when it was Visual Basic). She then became a Sinologist and a lawyer, and now an advocate for entrepreneurship.

Check out the Funders and Founders website here for more tips on startups, productivity and entrepreneurship.

 

Renzie Baluyut on Entrepreneurship

The Most Important Habit of The Most Successful Entrepreneurs

Lessons for successful entrepreneurs and small business owners, with Renzie Baluyut.

Note: this was a post written by business coach and serial entrepreneur Dan Kennedy for Entrepreneur magazine.  He is the author of No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs, Second Edition.  And he goes on to share some very interesting insights on entrepreneurship.

I’m sure there are exceptions somewhere, but so far, in 35-plus years of taking note of this, everybody I’ve met and gotten to know who devoutly adheres to this discipline becomes exceptionally successful and everybody I’ve met and gotten to know who ignores this discipline fails. Is it possible that this one discipline alone is so powerful it literally determines success or failure?

The discipline I’m talking about is punctuality — being where you’re supposed to be when you’re supposed to be there, as promised, without exception, without excuse, every time, all the time. I cannot tell you how important I believe this is. But I’ll tell you some of the reasons why I believe in its indescribably great importance.

First of all, being punctual gives you the right—the positioning—to expect and demand that others treat your time with the utmost respect. You cannot reasonably hope to have others treat your time with respect if you show little or no respect for theirs. So if you’re not punctual, you have no leverage, no moral authority. But the punctual person gains that advantage over staff, associates, vendors, clients, everybody.

It is my conviction that a person who cannot keep appointments on time, cannot keep scheduled commitments or cannot stick to a schedule cannot be trusted in other ways either. There is a link between respect for others’ time and respect for others’ opinions, property, rights, agreements and contracts. A person reveals a great deal about himself by his punctuality or lack of punctuality. As a general rule of thumb, I use this as a means of determining whether or not I want to do business with someone. And, when I violate this, as I occasionally foolishly do, I always get burned.

Let me give you one example. Dozens of years ago, a person seeking to do business with me arranged to meet me at an airport, where I had a 90-minute layover. We agreed, and I confirmed by fax that we would meet at my arrival gate, at my arrival time, and then go to that airline’s club room right there on the concourse for the meeting. When I arrived, the guy wasn’t there. Some ten minutes later, I’m paged and told to meet him in the main terminal where he is because he ran late getting to the airport. It takes me ten minutes on the tram to get to the main terminal, and I have to cut another ten minutes of our meeting to allow time to get back to my gate. I have to go through this to meet with a man so disrespectful of a commitment made and of my time that he cannot organize his life to arrive at a meeting on time in his own home city. If he could not be relied on to honor such an easy commitment, why should anybody believe he would honor more important ones?

Still, violating my own rule, I went ahead and accepted this guy as a client. It was predictably ugly. He lied, he cheated, and he was completely disorganized, dysfunctional, and unreasonable. He sucked up a pretty good chunk of my time, and it cost me thousands of dollars to get rid of him.

Now, here’s a “success secret” for you: I’m not the only person to have figured out this punctuality-integrity link. I’m just not that smart. I’ve stumbled on something that a whole lot of other smart, successful, and influential people already know and secretly use to make their determinations about who they will buy from or not buy from, do business with or not do business with, help or not help, trust or distrust. If you are not a punctual person, others you wish to positively influence negatively judge you.

If you think that successful people—people you want to deal with—do not have their own little “systems” for judging people, you’re very naïve. Not only do they have such a system, most successful people make a point of having “instant reject criteria,” to save time in determining who they want to deal with and who they don’t.

One of my earliest business mentors said that there were only two good reasons for being late for a meeting with him: one, you’re dead; two, you want to be.

So, to borrow from Dale Carnegie, if you want to win friends and influence people, be punctual. And, if you’d like to save yourself a lot of time and trouble, start using this as a means of judging those who would do business with you.

On Dan Kennedy

Dan Kennedy is a strategic advisor, consultant, business coach, and editor of six business newsletters. He directly influences more than one million business owners annually. He is a champion of small business owners and entrepreneurs with a long track record of taking successful entrepreneurs to seven-figure incomes and multi-millionaire wealth.

No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs, Second Edition is a book written specifically for entrepreneurs wearing many hats; individuals who can’t resist piling more and more responsibility onto his own shoulders, who has many more great ideas than time and resources to take advantage of them, who runs (not walks) through each day.

You may get a copy of Dan Kennedy’s No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs, Second Edition here.

On Entrepreneur Magazine

Entrepreneur is a magazine that features stories on entrepreneurship, small business management, business trends and opportunities. Entrepreneur.com is the magazine’s online portal (launched in 1997).

Currently based in Irvine, California, the Entrepreneur line of magazines is also published under license around the world, in countries such as Mexico, Russia, Hungary, India, South Africa and the Philippines.

The very best of the internet, with Renzie Baluyut - Digital Entrepreneur, Small Business Owner and All-Around Media & Marketing Dude | www.renziebaluyut.com

Gary Valenciano and Son Go Viral With This Silly Shortie

Oh, Gary V. This must be one of the most entertaining things you’ve done in your entire career.

For those who didn’t grow up in the Philippines in the 80’s and 90’s, Gary Valenciano is sort of a big deal.  The dude came up with a good number of really memorable Pinoy hits– hits which, to this day, I’m sure a lot of our OFW kababayans have in their music players and laptops.  Along with all those hit songs, Gary V. is known for his high-energy performances and concerts, so yeah, he dances pretty well too.

Now it so happens that he has this son– Gabriel Valenciano– who (as we just found out) has been putting out these nice little video shorts on YouTube.  One of those videos is this silly, but insanely epic, father-and-son projects straight out of (what I can only assume would be) the Valenciano household.

Get ready to get blown away.

I give them extra points for milking the cheesiness out of Journey’s “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)”.  I don’t think any other 80’s rock classic would achieve the same effect.  The commitment to the over-the-top moves, mixed with regular right-at-home goofing around worked wonders for them as well.

I think there’s something pure about little video projects like these.  The Pinoy entertainment scene is horrendously over-fabricated and pretentious and so contrived.   Take away all those big TV and recording companies, and you might actually have something like this: a no-frills, honest-to-goodness, creative burst of fun, which I must admit, is something I’ve watched at least a dozen times over since yesterday.

Good job, Gabriel!  Good job, Gary!

Hey, for more of Gabriel’s crazy video shorts– like this:

Go check him out on his official YouTube channel.  Who knows?  You might get to catch another Gary Valenciano cameo in some future video.

Learn to Code and do all sorts of awesome stuff with your PC and mobile devices, with Renzie on www.renziebaluyut.com!

Renzie Supports The Hour of Code 2013

Learn about the value of coding, and learn how to code together with Renzie Baluyut.

The Hour of Code 2013 is upon us (December 9 to 15), and many of the world’s greatest tech entrepreneurs, along with the more progressive world leaders and celebrities, are all pushing this noble agenda.

The premise of The Hour of Code Movement is simple: get students to try and learn computer science for an hour, hoping that it fires up their interest, subsequently inspiring them to get into computers all on their own.

The Hour of Code also encourages professional programmers, educators and other tech-savvy individuals to do some reaching out on their own, teaching others to code, or inspiring others to learn to code themselves.

Why Code?

Our world is run on apps and programs, digital signals, and stored electronically in the cloud and stuff. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could be a more active part of that world, learning how to build all sorts of websites and applications?

Learning to code doesn’t only make you stay relevant, it helps you develop your creativity, your logic and reasoning, and your ability to solve problems. There’s also a huge market out there for all sorts of programming jobs– way too many jobs out there– but we have too few programmers.

It’s all about supply and demand. There’s still a huge need for programmers.

These figures are just for the United States.  Simply put: the demand for programmers are going up, not too many kids get into computer science, so you have an entire industry scrambling for talent– and so companies in places like Silicon Valley can offer the kind of perks that they currently do.

Even more under-represented?  Female programmers.  Hispanic programmers.  Asian programmers.  Sure I got a whole lot of friends into web design/development, IT or programming, but the vast majority of people I interact with in my everyday life are essentially not as tech-savvy.  At least, not much beyond running Plants vs Zombies, Instagram or Microsoft Office.

It stands to reason that you can get ahead in life if you know how to code.  So if you’re a parent– get your kids to learn how to code. Even better, learn to code along with them.

If you’re an entrepreneur, a small business owner or a professional, it isn’t too late to learn how to code.  Like I said, there’s still a huge opportunity for the tech-inclined.  There are tons of apps and websites to build, and a lot of tech startup companies are always on the lookout for good talent.

I have a minimal knowledge of HTML and CSS (because of blogging), and I find myself thinking, “wouldn’t it be cool if I can build a website or mobile app from scratch?”  I would answer back, “yes, it would be very cool.”

So Where Do I Start?

There are a lot of resources online on how to start coding– websites, videos, even free books.  It goes without saying– you can head on to the Code.org website and pick up a few handy tutorials there.

For me, I think the best place to start is on this YouTube channel– thenewboston.  Bucky Roberts is the brains behind thenewboston.  He got hooked on web design after reading a few books on the subject.  To date, he’s got 178,000 subscribers and his videos have amassed an impressive 53 million views.  All on the subject matter of coding.

Other great sites on learning how to code:

  • Sites like Code Academy, Code Conquest, and Code School are all great places to start for beginners like you and me.
  • Education portals like Stanford University’s Udacity, Khan Academy and Coursera make college courses on computer science, app development and other tech-related subjects available online for free, so that’s worth checking out.
  • On your iPad, visit the App Store from time to time.  Or visit Google Play on your Android device.  They have lots of apps and books available on the subject of learning how to code– many of them for free!
  • YouTube has a lot of channels and video tutorials on how to learn just about any coding language you’d like.  I’ve already mentioned that thenewboston is my channel of choice.

More on the subject matter of coding resources will be featured in another, future post.

Renzie and The Hour of Code 2013

I was 7 when I had my first taste of programming. That was in the second grade, I think, when the computers were old Apple IIs and the language of choice was in BASIC. It was pretty progressive stuff, but I didn’t have any regular access to a PC for a good 4 or 5 years. By the time I did, it was already in high school, and I used the computers more for games than anything else.

So just because I was using PCs doesn’t necessarily mean I can program one. And the same goes for a lot of the kids growing up on iPads and laptops these days– sure they run all kinds of apps, but it doesn’t mean they can make apps.

Here on my blog, I join the Hour of Code movement by using this site as a means to help other entrepreneurs and small business owners learn to get into coding, for whatever reason.  Here on my site though, the focus would tend to gravitate towards building websites and apps for small businesses.  You’re all welcome to join me on my journey!

Visit the official Computer Science Education Week website here, or the official Code.org website here, and find out how you can start learning how to code, how you can teach others to code, or spread the news about the benefits of learning how to code.

Posts on The Philippines on Renzie Baluyut Online | Lessons in Entrepreneurship, Marketing and Business with Renzie Baluyut.

A More Intelligent Media Makes For a Better Philippines

The thought leadership of Warren Buffet for a better Philippines, explored by Renzie Baluyut.

The smarter the journalists are, the better off society is.  --Warren Buffet

I’ve been a media executive myself, having seen action in the local FM radio industry since 1994 in various capacities.  I loved my job– it taught me so much, and like many fellow media practitioners, there’s a huge sense of pride and fulfillment in doing things right, in honing your craft, and putting in the effort for both your audience, your clientele and the company you represent.

Here in the Philippines, the state of media is what it is.  The freedom of speech, as well as the freedom of the press are guaranteed in the Philippine Constitution– and that’s a good thing.  You have very passionate media-folk, really dedicated about the “mission to civilize”– again, another good thing.  You also have a wide variety of shows for pretty much just about any target demographic or niche market– also good for us all.

It’s true that while you do have government-run TV & radio stations, the majority of media companies are owned by the private sector, many of these belonging to prominent families.  It might be expected that information may tend to be one-sided, or tailored to fit some other agenda, but you do have good people running the show.  Of course, there’s still a great responsibility to be more discerning, more well-informed and opinionated for regular folk like you and me.

Remember that you do get all kinds in media.  On one hand, you have media practitioners who ask all the right questions, and help make their audiences smarter, and then you also have others who really go a long way towards dumbing down their audiences.

The Tao of Warren Buffett #44

The smarter the journalists are, the better off society is.

We get our information for processing investment ideas from the media, which means we are wholly dependent on journalists for accuracy and proper analysis of what is going on.

Do you want dumb people keeping us informed, or do you want intelligent people doing the job?

On Warren Buffet

Warren Edward Buffett is an American business magnate, investor, and philanthropist. He is widely considered the most successful investor of the 20th century. Buffett is the chairman, CEO and largest shareholder of Berkshire Hathaway (a holding company overseeing and managing a number of subsidiary business interests) and consistently ranked among the world’s wealthiest people.

He is noted for his adherence to the value investing philosophy and for his personal frugality despite his immense wealth. Warren Buffett is also a notable philanthropist, having pledged to give away 99 percent of his fortune to philanthropic causes, primarily via the Gates Foundation.

The Tao of Warren Buffet

The Tao of Warren Buffett: Warren Buffett’s Words of Wisdom: Quotations and Interpretations to Help Guide You to Billionaire Wealth and Enlightened Business Management is a collection of pithy and inspiring sayings from America’s favorite businessman that reveal his secrets of success.

Like the sayings of the ancient Chinese philospher Lao-tzu, Warren Buffett’s worldly wisdom is deceptively simple and enormously powerful in application. In The Tao of Warren Buffett, Mary Buffett — author of three books on Warren Buffett’s investment methods — joins noted Buffettologist and international lecturer David Clark to bring you Warren Buffett’s smartest, funniest, and most memorable sayings with an eye toward revealing the life philosophy and the investment strategies that have made Warren Buffett, and the shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway, so enormously wealthy.

The Tao of Warren Buffett: Warren Buffett’s Words of Wisdom: Quotations and Interpretations to Help Guide You to Billionaire Wealth and Enlightened Business Management is available on Amazon.com, Google Books, iTunes and leading bookstores.

A Better Philippines?

Yes, it’s possible!  It begins with information and inspiration.  Help educate others, help spur creativity and creative thinking, and help empower them to do better with their God-given talents, whatever that passion is.

A thriving society of small business owners and entrepreneurs goes a long way towards nation-building, driving economic growth within communities, bringing in employment and opportunities for the locals.  So support your friendly neighborhood businesses as much as you can!

Photo credit goes to Chelo Banal-Formoso.

Renzie Baluyut Online | Adventures in Digital Entrepreneurship, Internet Marketing and Small Business with Renzie Baluyut.

According To This Personality Test, I’m an Independent Thinker

Another personality test has been going around the internet, and the sucker that I am for these things, I decided to give it a whirl.

This particular test has been developed by the good people over at iPersonic  (I just love the play on “hypersonic”.  Get it?). iPersonic was developed by Felicitas Heyne, a well-known psychologist and best-selling book-author. She is an International Affiliate of the American Psychological Association (APA) and Member of the German Psychological Association (BDP).

Take the free personality test at iPersonic!

Apparently, I’m an Independent Thinker.  Here’s what iPersonic says about Independent Thinkers.

About Independent Thinkers

Independent Thinkers are analytical and witty persons. They are normally self-confident and do not let themselves get worked up by conflicts and criticism. They are very much aware of their own strengths and have no doubts about their abilities.

People of this personality type are often very successful in their career as they have both competence and purposefulness. Independent Thinkers are excellent strategists; logic, systematics and theoretical considerations are their world. They are eager for knowledge and always endeavour to expand and perfect their knowledge in any area which is interesting for them. Abstract thinking comes naturally to them; scientists and computer specialists are often of this type.

Independent Thinkers are specialists in their area. The development of their ideas and visions is important to them; they love being as flexible as possible and, ideally, of being able to work alone because they often find it a strain having to make their complex trains of thought understandable to other people. Independent Thinkers cannot stand routine. Once they consider an idea to be good it is difficult to make them give it up; they pursue the implementation of that idea obstinately and persistently, also in the face of external opposition.

Independent Thinkers are not the type who easily comes out of his shell. Speaking about their emotional life is also not one of their strong points. Anyway, social relationships are not particularly important to them; they are happy with just a few, close friends who find it easy to share their intellectual world. They find it difficult to establish new ties. In love, they need a lot of space and independence but this does not mean that their partner is not important to them. Independent Thinkers often make a cool and reserved impression on others; but this impression is deceptive: they can hardly bear it if people close to them should reject them. They prefer a harmonious, balanced relationship with a partner who shares their interests and with whom they can realise their visions.

Adjectives That Describe Independent Thinkers
Renzie Baluyut

  • introverted
  • theoretical
  • logical
  • planning
  • rational
  • independent
  • intellectual
  • self-confident
  • analytical
  • structured
  • dogged
  • witty
  • resolute
  • self-critical
  • visionary
  • inventive
  • independent
  • unsociable
  • reserved
  • nonconformist
  • quiet
  • visionary
  • honest
  • demanding
  • hardworking

Career Advice For The Independent Thinker

Like all Thinker types you tend to lean towards perfectionism and in the work place you are always striving for as much knowledge and expertise as possible. You are rarely or never satisfied with your accomplishments and that applies to yours as well as the achievements of others. Sometimes that makes it pretty difficult for your colleagues and subordinates to please you. Once you have privately tagged somebody with the label of incompetent, they will not have an easy time in your working environment. However, for those who manage to gain your respect with ability and intellect, you are an equally quick-witted as well as sagacious colleague who is ready to solve even the most difficult problems without apparent effort.

Hardly any other type is as interested in wielding power. However, the Thinker is less interested in wielding power over other people but rather considers controlling nature and his environment to be much more interesting. This is the main motivation for your continuous hunger – almost an obsession – for more information. Improving your capabilities and expanding the store of your knowledge and experience is your life’s main objective.

You are as hard on yourself and your own achievements as on others, and you put great pressure on yourself in your work environment. Sometimes you agonize over self-doubt thinking that you may not accomplish anything after all. Occasionally you stand in your own way obstructing your superior capabilities instead of being able to utilize them. In case it actually happens that you make a mistake, you mercilessly exercise self-criticism and double your efforts for perfection. Your coolness may occasionally appear to be arrogance, and that often deceives people around you about what really moves you.

While it’s interesting to indulge yourself in a personality test once in a while, I can’t help but think that– just like horoscopes– sometimes, these things are tailored to deliver what you want to read about yourself.  Besides, I don’t think I’ve spent enough time to read up on the other personality types on this test.

As always, it’s still best to not take these tests too seriously.  Fun times, sure.  But don’t let it derail you from your usually scheduled programs.

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Alice Dixson is FHM Philippines’ Cover Girl for December 2013

One of the most impressive comebacks of the year has to go to Ms. Alice Dixson.

Alice Dixson is a certified Filipino 80’s icon, thanks to her trademark shampoo TV commercial and her groundbreaking role as the titular fairy in the Pinoy primetime classic Okay Ka, Fairy Ko!

She’s done several other film and TV projects, of course, before disappearing from the public spotlight, in the early 90’s. At 44, she’s shown us all that she’s as beautiful as ever, and ready to take on local projects once more.

Currently, Alice Dixson stars in the TV5 soap For Love Or Money (opposite Derek Ramsay and Ritz Azul), and the adult drama flick When The Love Is Gone (along with co-stars Gabby Concepcion and Cristine Reyes).

FHM asked Alice Dixson why she only agreed to do sexy shoots now, and not before.  Her response:

“I think maybe when I was younger I wasn’t ready to do photo shoots like this.  Even when Mother Lily was pushing me towards a sexy image I would always resist.  But now, it’s become ordinary to come out in a bikini and it’s more accepted now. I just learned that it’s part of work, and it came out very nice.

Coconuts Manila pointed out that Ms. Alice Dixson now joins the ranks of ’80s hotties Dina Bonnevie, Jean Garcia and Eula Valdez, all of whom have been FHM cover girls in the recent past.

Photos by the very capable Doc Marlon Pecjo, styling by Jear de Mc Cutac, and make up by Tin Albano, all for FHM Philippines.

Go ahead and grab a copy of FHM Philippines’ December 2013 issue, featuring the ageless Alice Dixson gracing the cover, with more photos, more interview details, and the usual great stuff you can expect from an issue of FHM.

Special thanks to our fellow Alice Dixson fans over at Coconuts Manila.

Posts on The Philippines on Renzie Baluyut Online | Lessons in Entrepreneurship, Marketing and Business with Renzie Baluyut.

If You’ve Only Been To Manila, You Haven’t Really Been To The Philippines

Today, we’re featuring travel advice from Nathan Allen’s now-famous post, Honest Observations From a Westerner On His Way Home, where he shares his observations and insights as he journeyed through the Philippines.

You can find the original entry in full here.

Sunset in Siquijor.

NATHAN’S DISCLAIMER

I have spent an entire year exploring and living in this beautiful country.  I have done my best to try and learn 3 distinct dialects (3 of over a HUNDRED). On multiple occasions I have actually even ENJOYED balut (fertilized duck egg). I found “my voice” while exploring countless videoke bars in the provinces…I have been known to sing “Pusong Bato” and “My Way” (Filipino karaoke classics) when I get the chance. I slept in a candle-lit nipa hut in the lush green mountains of Luzon. I swam with giant sea turtles off of Apo Island. In Manila I crossed Edsa on foot and learned the complex jeepney routes. I went fishing in Bacuit Bay, rode “top load” (on top of the jeepney) on one of the world’s most dangerous roads in Ifugao, and went to a “witchdoctor’s” festival on the island of Siquijor.

I don’t know how it’s possible, but I have been both hardened AND softened by my experience here. This is a good thing. I have tried my best to curb my judgment and accept this culture just as it is.  I love the Philippines.

Local man looking out over the Batad Rice Terraces, Ifugao.

IT’S MORE FUN….OUTSIDE OF MANILA

Just so you know, if you’ve only been to Manila, you haven’t really been to the Philippines.  Pretty much all western tourists agree that once they got out of Manila they began to really love the country.  To be fair, it *could* be that Manila is not “exotic” enough for tourists who are looking for a real change of pace from their normal lives.  Speaking of pace, the pace in the Philippines is slowwwww.  This is island life.  I found as a westerner that in Manila specifically, the pace is just infuriating (you could be in that cashier’s line for a LONG time, trust me…and that’s once you’ve spent a few hours just getting through traffic to GET to the store in the first place).  I  guess I just had this idea of what a major city is “supposed” to be like, and that notion must be thrown out the window when it comes to Manila.  However, once you get out to the islands (AKA paradise), you’ll find that the slow pace is just right.

Island hopping in El Nido.

WHAT DO I LOVE ABOUT THE PHILIPPINES?

  • Wonderful People – Over 7,000 islands full of the the world’s most soulful, genuine, hospitable and HAPPY individuals.
  • Karaoke / Videoke – At this point I’m pretty sure every Filipino is born with a mic in their hand, most likely singing a Lionel Richie song.
  • Family-Oriented Culture – Filipinos seem to have this figured out.  Family is EVERYTHING.  We are so disconnected in the west.
  • Most Stunning Beaches / Mountains / Landscapes – Have you seen my photos from my time here?  Check my El Nido post.  More soon.
  • Fascinating Culture / Delicious Food – For me, the region of Bicol takes the cake.  Spicy!!  Pinangat and pili nuts are my favorites!  Adventurous foods I have tried:  Balut (many times), BBQ pig’s blood, Isaw, Dinuguan, Papaitan, Bulalo…etc.
  • Food/Drinks/Housing is all Very Affordable – Beer is barely more expensive than water (and San Miguel Pale Pilsen is GOOD).  The cheapest room I ever stayed in was on the stunning island of Camiguin, and I believe it was $3.75 USD a night.  Usually it’s more like $15-$20, though.
  • Colorful Jeepney Rides as Daily Transportation – Getting around is ever more fun here.  Sit on top for the best (and most thrilling) view!
  • Relaxed Attitudes – “Bahala na” is the Filipino term meaning “It’s in God’s hands…we have no control over this, let’s just smile and move on!”

INGAT, JOE!

Filipinos always tell me to be careful when going anywhere, and many of them seem to be a bit afraid of all kinds of things (weather, criminals, evil spirits/superstitions).  I wonder where all this fear comes from…did the Spanish bring it when they colonized the Philippines hundreds of years ago, or was it already here?  The church definitely used fear as a tool, and this brand of “old school” Catholisicm does seem to be alive and well here in the Philippines. Just like in the US, the news programs on TV here can be very negative, dramatic, and in my opinion, even unethical at times.

However, I think geography may play a part as well.  The country is comprised of over 7,000 islands, so diferent groups were usually quite cut off from each other.  It is human nature to have a fear of the unknown, and tradionally Filipinos would stick to their tight-knit families and didn’t have a need to travel.  I met countless people in the provinces who had the means but had never made the 30 minute journey to thenext village – and they were 50 year-old men and women!  The evolution of distinctly different language (with over 120 dialects) here is another testament to the “isolated island” theory.  Of course, one more explanation is the constant threat of typhoons, earthquakes, and weather-related catastrophes in general.

* With a growing economy and the very successful new “It’s More Fun In The Philippines” tourism campaign, more Filipinos are now starting to branch out and explore their country (and the rest world).  I think this is great!

Posing for a picture with students in Naga, Bicol – Photo by Je Kim.

FOREIGNERS AND SAFETY

In any case, as a foreginer, locals are always extra concerned for my safety.  The irony is that I believe it is more dangerous for other Filipinos than it is for foreigners!  It could just be that I’m not an easy target, but usually people were just shocked and fascinated to see me walking through their neighborhoods in the middle of the night.  Perhaps the language barrier is intimidating to them, or they just think that Filipinos will be less likely to fight back?  Not sure, but I just know that in all this time I have never had a problem.   As for my Filipino friends, I have heard many stories from them personally – stories of armed robbery, shootings…stabbings.  It does happen, I’m just saying that if you are a foreginer (at least one my size?), the risk is not as high as people might have you believe.  Just like in the U.S., the perceived risk seems to be much greater than the actual risk. 

*    “Joe” is the nickname given to American soldiers, as in “G.I. Joe” – from the war days.

SMOOCH SMOOCH, HOW ABOUT A RIDE?

A jeepney in Palawan.

This is a “jeepney” – a vehicle left over from the war that was re-purposed for public transportation.  Filipinos are world-class “repurposers”.  They are so ingenious, and can fix or create just about anything with parts lying around!  In Cebu, drivers patrol the streets looking for passengers.  When they see somebody waiting or walking on the side of the road, the driver leans out the window and make a loud “kissing” (lip-smacking) sound to get their attention!  I was in total disbelief the first time I witnessed this.  Doesn’t matter if it’s a man or a woman.  From the best of my knowledge, riders inside of the jeepney can also do this to indicate to the driver that they would like him to stop.  You can also just bang a coin on the metal parts of the jeepney to get his attention.  A jeepney ride costs less than 25 cents (US).

Everybody on the jeepney works together to pass the driver each person’s fare as he or she gets on.  There is an honor system – and I guess with that many eyes on you as you enter, there is pressure on you to make sure and pay – not to mention it’s just the right thing to do!

TIPPING IN THE PHILIPPINES

One thing worth mentioning is that it’s not really a “tipping culture” here, so servers don’t have the same incentive to provide exceptional service.  Sadly, not only do they not receive tips, but people in these sectors really don’t get paid much at all, either.  So foreigners, please go easy on them.  Another thing to mention is that locals in Manila are much better at speaking up and complaining than anywhere else.

Be patient This is not your country, things work differently here.  Learn to relax, enjoy life a bit more, realize that life’s too short to run yourself into the ground and get too wound up over bad traffic or “slow” service.

ADVICE FOR TRAVELERS

Filipinos don’t generally try to rip people off like it happens in places like Thailand and Vietnam.  Still though, it’s a good idea to always count your change.  We are very used to just putting the change in our pocket without a second thought – and some sneaky employees know that.

I’ve heard this from locals AND expats:  Filipinos are very patient and very tolerant, but do NOT push them too far.  It’s very hard, but once you get them to THAT point, their personal sense of pride and/or honor may come into play, and if you start fighting, they may not stop until they’ve finished the job.

If you are a man and you end up in a relationship here, buckle your seat belt.  Perhaps it’s the Spanish blood, but relationships here can be passionate.  Fiery…and with loads of jealousy and drama.  Drama seems to be a form of entertainment here, and as a local explained to me, maybe it comes from the close-knit family dynamic.  Everybody knows everybody’s business, and gossiping about it seems to be one of the primary forms of entertainment.  Watching a “telenovela” (soap opera) on TV will give you a good idea of just how dramatic the culture can be…when it comes to relationships, anyway.  I guess when you look at the situation with men’s wives and mistresses, it makes sense that jealousy would be so rampant.

A popular misconception is that most Filipinas are looking for a green card to escape their country.  In fact, I know a lot of expats who have escaped their own countries to come HERE (the US DEFINITELY included) – a place where life is good; no cold winters, everything is affordable, and regulations are more relaxed.  When you also factor in how close Filipinas are with their families, you realize being on the other side of the world from them is the LAST thing they want to do.

Read more about Nathan Allen and his honest observations about The Philippines.

 

About The Author

Nathan Allen works off his laptop while doing a massive amount of travelling. He runs a website– I Dreamed of This— where he shares his adventures through his stories and photos. He’s spent a year in the Philippines, soaking up on language, culture, food and karaoke.

“I believe you really are the ‘architect of your dreams’. This I found out firsthand. People live stressful and complex lives, because that’s all they know. They think they have to. Then they have to escape their lives in the form of drinking, drugs, television…and while these things may be fun in moderation, my philosophy is simple: I aim to design a life that requires no escape. I want to engage in the present, and continue trying to push the boundaries of what people think is possible…in all aspects of my life.”

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