A Look Back at Typhoon Haiyan

typhoon-haiyan_019Hard to believe that it’s been one year since Typhoon Haiyan came and went, leaving nothing but utter destruction in its path. On November 8th, 2013, the monster typhoon came through and killed 6,300 people and left another 1,000 missing. Estimates have said that more than one-million families evacuated or lost their homes.

90% of Tacloban (Leyte’s main city) was destroyed by the devastating 7-meter-high storm surges, causing 2,000 deaths in Tacloban alone.

Even one year later, thousands of suffering people still have no home and are forced to live in tents. Through these powerful images, we take a look back on one of the most destructive storms ever to hit the Philippines.

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Thoughts on the Philippines and Poverty

philippines povertyIf farmers or fishermen popped in your mind, then you’d be right. There’s about a 40% incidence of poverty among workers in those sectors.

25% of the general population is said to be living in poverty. That’s astounding.

And to top it off, the poverty number for a family of five’s food needs is P5,590. I’m fairly certain that I’m spending more than that on food for myself only. I can’t imagine trying to budget that amount for a family of five. And to think, 25% of the country can’t even make that minimum requirement.

If we add clothing, housing, transport, health and education into the mix for a family of five, the family needs P8,022 to meet the poverty requirements. That’s about P2,500 pesos more – and that P2,500 pesos is supposed to cover all of those things for a family of five? This sure is eye-opener- my electric bill last month was almost P6,000 alone.

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A Gay Wedding In The Philippines?

gay-marriage-philippinesNot so fast. But what does exist are “holy union rites” ceremonies, a spiritual joining together of two same-sex people in front of a “duly recognised clergy.”

No, gay marriage isn’t accepted and/or recognized in the Philippines. And I also don’t think, besides proving to each other that they are extremely committed, that this couple gets any legal benefits whatsoever for doing one of these ceremonies.

Nonetheless, it basically looks like a wedding, as they seem to go through the motions of a typical wedding.

What do you think? Should gay marriage finally be accepted in the Philippines? Or are you firm on your belief that marriage is intended only for one man and one woman?

Is A Filipina Really Into You? You May Be Surprised To Know What She’s Really Thinking

Pakipot

Ah, the joys of navigating the world of courtship in a culture that is not our own. Since my first exposure to the Philippines, I’ve read various materials describing Filipino customs, both relating to dating and life in general. These readings have been helpful in growing my understanding, but it’s through actual experience where it’s really soaked in the most. This is not to say I understand this universe anywhere near as well as Filipino intuitively gets it, but I’m better off from where I was when this was a brand new world to me.

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Dating A Filipina Girl (And Her Friends?)

filipina-dates
Your friend? Umm…errr, sure, I guess.

Is the girl truthfully nervous and scared to meet me? Or is she just looking to help out a fellow friend by supplying a free meal? This is an all-too common question making its rounds through my brain at times.

Often in the Philippines, online dating starts with a feeling out process but then quickly moves to the “let’s meet” phase. At this point, things can get a little tricky. In America, perhaps you’ll meet the girl at Starbucks – you know, something easy, quick, and relatively inexpensive just to see if there’s chemistry. On top of that, the girl will probably want to pay for her own coffee just so you don’t get the wrong idea.

In the Philippines, there’s more variables that jump into the dating equation. Although it doesn’t hold true for all Filipina girls, many have ulterior motives when dating foreigners. You may not realize this at first, but the more dates you go on, the more you’ll be aware. Due to the extreme poverty in the Philippines, even something as small as a free Jollibee meal can be a big incentive for a girl.

Let’s say I’ve convinced my first chat mate to finally meet me in person. She claims she’s super shy and asks if she can bring a friend along. As this is my first date in the Philippines, I assume she’s being honest and I tell her it’s fine if her friend joins. She meets me at the mall with her friend and we proceed to Jollibee where I buy them lunch and have a chat. It seemed simple enough and harmless, and now I assume she won’t need a friend with her next time.

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Food For Thought: Dating Between Poverty and Love

poverty-loveAs a foreigner, dating in the Philippines comes with different precautions than dating back in one’s home country. Let’s cut to the chase – poverty is an extremely serious issue in the Philippines. On the other end of the spectrum, foreigners that visit the country are usually (but not always) more financially set than the average foreigner; they have money for the outrageously expensive plane ticket, hotels, tourist trips, and constant dining out.

That being said, what happens when a girl from an extremely poor household meets a well-off foreigner? What type of relationship ensues? What are the differences between dating a poor Filipina girl in the Philippines and dating a woman of equal financial status in your home country?

One thing I’ve noticed while staying in this country is that the foreigner-Filipina relationships seem to have a much wider age gap than back home in America. Whereas I’m used to seeing a 35-year-old man date a 31-year-old woman in the States, in the Philippines I’m more accustomed to seeing a male in his late 50s date a girl that just exited her teenage years. But why is this?

To break it down easier, it’s simply due to poverty. The constant pressure to support your family in the Philippines exists to a high degree, and that pressure trickles down into dating and relationships more so than it would in America. From talking to a number of Filipina girls about this issue, there’s only one way to improve the quality of their family’s life and escape poverty, and that is is to get “romantically” involved with a foreigner. It makes sense.

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Afterhours at the Filipino Public Market

Fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, and flies – that pretty much sums up the public market in Angeles City. And, oh yea, how could I forget a local dog with testicles larger than mine? After hours, though, it’s a bit different. Vendors are cleaning up their blood-stained stalls and closing up shop around 12 in the afternoon, only to reopen around 10pm the same evening.

Is Xoom.com Safe To Use?

is xoom money safe
Is Xoom.com safe to use?
Andrea asks,

“I have seen you use Xoom.com money transfer and wanted to know if it is not a scam. How many days until your money arrives? I really need to know if it’s fake or not, I already signed up and the last step is entering my credit card but I’m scared, but I remember in your videos using Xoom.”

Andrea,

As the creepy smiling lady points out, you can send up to $2,999 for less than $5 with Xoom. If you saw me using it (and even collecting my money at Cebuana) then I guess it’s safe to say it’s not a scam, unless I’m the one behind Xoom.com and I set up that entire video on purpose just to scam everyone on this site…………but, that’s not the case.

Xoom is a legit site used by many, and it’s cheaper than Western Union.

My bank account is linked to my Xoom account. I’m not using a credit card as you’re about to do. My money is available instantly. When I say “instantly,” the moment I click “Send Transfer,” I receive an e-mail stating that my money is available for pickup. I’m beginning to think they are sending me the money before they even check my bank to see if I have the funds. I never gave them my online banking username and password, so I’m really not sure how they can verify that the money is there so quickly.

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Daily blogging for true lovers of the Philippines