PEACE amid chaos

PEACENatural calamities. A strong typhoon (Glenda) occurred in the Philippines killing several casualties and leaving the affected areas in chaos. Glenda has just headed to China. Another tropical depression (Henry) is approaching over the southeastern Philippine sea.

Man-made disaster. Another Malaysian passenger jet (MH17) en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed down at the eastern Ukraine, region of Donetsk, the infested war zone of Ukraine and Russia. Imagine, 298 innocent lives suffered again UNNECESSARILY. A part of me not only saddens by the untimely death of these people, a part of me is in rage. The crashed-down which was believed to be missile-shot would have not happen if there is NO war. This should NOT happen. Pushing through a certain political ideologies at the expense of killing another is by any means NOT acceptable. Any form of war only achieves a lose-lose situation. Nobody wins in this cruel game. Whoever have done this barbaric act must be punished!

Ukraine – Russia. Perhaps a Peace Treaty Agreement has to be made. The global leaders must step in.

My heart goes to those whose lives lost… I lighted a dozen of candles and uttered a prayer of peace in the hearts of those families and friends grieving. I mourned with you.

Iguazu Falls: One Of The New 7 Natural Wonders Of The World

Maf at Iguazu!“Love is like a waterfall

it pours out of you forever!” –QuotesDonkeyMaf at Iguazu1“Will you be the rock

that redirect the course of the river?” –Claire Nuer

Maf at Iguazu2“Happiness resides not in possessions and not in gold;

happiness dwells in the soul”. –Democritus 

Continue reading

Crossing The Border: Bolivia – Brazil

Crossing The Border. Bolivia - BrazilI noticed a woman sitting on the other side of the window seat who looked rather serious but dressed elegantly. She was gazing from afar and I could sense her thoughts drifting away as she does not seem to care about what’s going on around. Later I would know her as Sandra. Who hails from Campo Grande (Brazil) and lives in Sta Cruz (Bolivia).

I overheard them talking in a language that I don’t understand but sounds familiar. They looked Americans of Middle Eastern ethnicity. We were queuing side by side since from the Immigration of Bolivia and then Immigration of Brazil. But our eyes never met. Nor we spoke a word. We just knew we exist. They are there. I am here.  Later I would know them as Paula and Francisco, siblings from Fortaleza (Brazil) who went for holidays in Bolivia.

And there was this slightly chubby blonde girl who’s wearing a tube dress with a flower tattoo at the back of her right shoulder. She approached me and said in strong English: “ticket please!”. Then she talked to the bus driver and afterwards handed back my ticket saying: “time is okay”.  Gesturing her right hand with thumbs up. I never knew her name.

A donde vas?”De donde eres?”  The guy who sits next to me casually asked. I said, pardon, “Habla Ingles?”. I mean, “Voce fala Ingles?” “Yes, I am.” “Where are you going?” “And where are you from?” I answered him. He said, “wow Filipinas?!” He was astonished and looked at me with amazement. His name was Lindon. Who teach mining in Corumba (Brazil) and was going to Salvador (Brazil) for training.

***

I arrived at Puerto Suarez, the small town in the border of Bolivia at 6.30am (local time). I paid 6 times higher for a standard taxi fare of 5 Bolivianos from Puerto Quijaros bus station.

It surprised me to learn that in this part of the world, the Immigration is only OPEN at a specific time. Like office hours, 8am to 6pm, M-F, S-S. If you arrive after 6pm, you have to stay at the border for a night for your passport to be stamped the next day. Or if you arrive earlier than 8am, like what had happened to me, I have to wait or if I choose to leave I am risking to pay the consequences.

While waiting for the Immigration Office to open, I took a light breakfast at a nearby café – empanada and a hot tea. And then fruit juice afterwards. I left my luggage just outside the door of the immigration as my sign that someone is queuing. I requested the Police to keep an eye to my luggage. “Por favor, (pointing to my luggage while gesturing that I will eat) no peligro?” They nod and said something that I didn’t understand. I left my luggage trusting that it is safe to do so. I decided to spend the Bolivianos I have as I won’t be able to use it in Brazil.

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Captured Scene: Laguna Verde, Potosi, Bolivia

On our way to the border of Chile. We stopped by Laguna Verde or Green Lake. But where is the green lake? We were told it was covered with frozen snow and the lake only turns green in the afternoon. Meanwhile, we spotted this cute Vicuna (Vicugna vicugna) running away from us. Friends am back! :)

On our way to the border of Chile. We stopped by Laguna Verde or Green Lake. But where is the green lake? We were told it was covered with frozen snow and the lake only turns green in the afternoon. Meanwhile, we spotted this cute Vicuna (Vicugna vicugna) running away from us.
Friends am back! :)

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the Earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” -Rachel Carson

How I Prepare For My (First) South American Trip

Maf goes to South America!Some unpleasant circumstances are perhaps taking place to give way to a more favorable and better experience that we are ought to have, do and go. I got lost trying to figure out what’s going on lately with my life on a professional and personal level. I kind of forget that there is some kind of image that I have to maintain and project? Rubbish. Right now, I am kind of mixed up to be honest. My brain is pretty scattered. I think this is what you get when you continue to work non-stop, no days off on weekends and after toiling hard you get a shit in return. I really don’t understand why some people can be a pain in the ass. I was reminded of Warren Buffet – Look for three things in a person: 1) intelligence, 2) energy and 3) integrity. If that person lacks number 3, forget about the rest.

Hey, hey, hey this is about my very much awaited, very much needed break, very much looking forward for my first South American trip! Finally, it comes :). I am waiting for this trip to come as soon as I begun to think about it!

I had one month to prepare. Initially, South America was not in the picture yet, at least to visit earlier this year. It’s Iran and a few Middle Eastern countries supposedly but as I have mentioned when things go wrong and looks unfavorable there are better things that we ought to experience I guess. Otherwise, South America would not come into picture this earlier :)

Here are a few tips that you may find useful when you embark for South American trip. Continue reading

Singapore Off The Beaten Path: Bukit Brown

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In view of celebrating a Chinese tradition called “Qingming Festival” or “Tomb-Sweeping Day”, I wish to share part of Singapore that I consider a hidden gem: Bukit Brown. Bukit Brown is the largest Chinese cemetery outside China and is home to the forefathers and founders of Singapore back in the early days. If Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris is housed to famous people in history. In parallel, Bukit Brown is. Those who have buried here are where most of the names of the road in Singapore has taken. Bukit Brown is also home to a number of endemic species of flora and fauna.

If you wish to unwind, is looking for a quiet place and just wanting to commune with  nature while learning something from the humble beginnings of Singapore, visit Bukit Brown. Visit Bukit Brown before its physical landscape change drastically. Visit Bukit Brown as it is included in the list of 2014 World Monuments Watch which showcases its cultural heritage.

***

Few months back, I wrote a subject about – Bukit Brown Cemetery: Preservation or Conservation? It was written coming from a viewpoint of being an Environmental Science professional. But up until now, it is in my draft files. I decided not to publish it as this might create a conflict of interest to where I am currently connected.

I can only concur following the concept of “Four Laws of Ecology” popularized by Milton Friedman, the fourth law of ecology states that: “There is no such thing as free lunch.” In pursuit of any economic development, there is always a price to pay.

The battle and debates may continue and might not end but I would end this piece quoting what John Stuart Mill had said: “In the battle of intellectual debates, both sides tend to be correct in what they affirm and wrong in what they deny.”

Meanwhile, Enjoy the snaps! :) Continue reading

Transit Visa to UAE for 96 hours/ 4 days/ @70 USD

Maf - UAE Transit VisaFor my next/ soonest/ upcoming, I call “ambitious” trip ;). I will have a 4-day lay over at the United Arab Emirates. For Filipino citizen, a visa is needed to visit this opulent country in the Middle East.

The requirements are as follows:

 

1)     Passport with 6 months validity (the page with personal particulars, the last page, & the first observation page)

2)     Proof of residence in the country where you currently reside (ie, work permit, working pass, dependant pass etc.)

3)     Passport size photo with white back ground

4)  Additional documents (optional) ie. visa for the last 5 years if you fly to or visit UK, USA, New Zealand, Australia or any Schengen countries.

5)   Other documents (optional but NOT necessary) ie. bank statement, pay slips or proof that you are earning at least $8000 USD annually; and

6) Completed form for visa application done at the emirates website, just click the link, “Manage Existing Booking”: http://www.emirates.com/sg/English/index.aspx?cid=GoogleSEMSGSearch&Standard=yes&gclid=CLz8j_y_lr0CFU6t4god5GsAAw

 

The documents should be in jpeg format  not exceeding 200 KB in size.

 

By the way, the processing is done online using VFS Global Services through Emirates Airlines. The case I believe will be slightly different if you fly with a different carrier. I was told at the Emirates office in Singapore that if you apply directly to the UAE Embassy – they require sponsor, am NOT sure why if you have sufficient financial means to support your stay. Well, different countries have different rules and we have to abide by their rules.

 

The procedure I went through: Continue reading