The Prayer

The Prayer…

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

The prayer should be said with heartfelt sincerity,

not only to ask for favor but also, thank Him with alacrity.

 

The prayer is a spiritual instrument for communication,

with Him in mind, it should be made with sincere intention.

 

The prayer need not be said loud as for others to hear,

as it is enough that  we bow our head and say it in whisper.

 

The prayer may be short oozing with love and humility,

the better for it to be heard and appreciated  by the Almighty.

Thanking-God

 

 

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My Own Idea of Tourism…just an opinion

My Own Idea of Tourism

…just an opinion

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

ON THE PART OF THE TOURIST, THE ESSENCE OF TOURISM IS “INTEREST”, WHILE ON THAT OF THE HOST IT IS “HONEST INFORMATION”.

 

THE EXPECTATION ON THE PART OF THE TOURIST IS “SATISFACTION”, WHILE ON THE PART OF THE HOST, IT IS “REVENUE”.

 

TO SUM THEM UP….

THE INTEREST TO TRAVEL THROUGH HONEST INFORMATION CAN BE CREATED FOR PEOPLE WHO EXPECT TO BE SATISFIED THAT RESULTS TO THE MOST COVETED REVENUE OF THE HOST.

 

TOURISM AS AN INDUSTRY TODAY IS DISTRIBUTED AMONG STAKEHOLDERS OR INTERESTED PARTIES, MAKING THE GOVERNMENT’S OWN “TOURISM AGENCY” IRRELEVANT…IN THIS REGARD, THE DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM AND ITS COUNTERPARTS DOWN THE LINE OF GOVERNANCE SUCH AS THE LGUs.

 

THE MULTI-SEGMENTATION OF THE TOURISM INDUSTRY IS SUCH THAT EACH STAKEHOLDER CAN HANDLE ITS OWN DIRECTLY TO EARN REVENUE:

 

  • EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS CAN PACKAGE THEIR TOUR PROGRAMS FOR RESEARCHES, FAMILIARIZATIONS, AND EXCHANGE PROGRAMS.

 

  • HOSPITALS AND SPECIALIZED CLINICS CAN HAVE THEIR OWN PACKAGE FOR CLIENTS SEEKING SPECIAL TREATMENTS.

 

  • PARISH LAY COMMITTEES CAN PACKAGE THEIR OWN PILGRIMAGES, RETREATS OR RECOLLECTIONS.

 

  • OUTDOOR SPORTS AGENCIES CAN COME UP WITH THEIR PACKAGE THAT INVOLVE ZIP LINES, SCUBA DIVING, MOUNTAIN CLIMBING, SPELUNKING OR CAVE EXPLORATION, BIRDWATCHING, HANG GLIDING, CROSS-COUNTRY MOTOCROSSES, DEEP-SEA FISHING, AND SIMPLE TREKKING OR CAMPING.

 

ALL OF THE ABOVE CAN BE ARRANGED DIRECTLY WITH AIRLINES, SHIPPING LINES, BUS COMPANIES, ACCOMMODATION FACILITIES, RESTAURANTS, TRANSFER HANDLERS, AND MOST ESPECIALLY, WITH TRAVEL AND TOUR AGENCIES…WHICH EVER IS OR ARE APPROPRIATE FOR THE ACTIVITY.

 

THE LGUs CAN HOLD FESTIVALS AND SPECIAL EVENTS TO ATTRACT VISITORS USING THEIR INFORMATION OFFICES AND COMMITTEES CREATED FOR THE OCCASIONS THAT ARE HELD AT LEAST ONCE A YEAR.

 

ON THE OTHER HAND, THE INFORMATION REQUIREMENT OF TOURISTS CAN BE SATISFIED BY THE UPLOADED VISUAL AND WRITTEN “BLOGS” IN THE CYBERSPACE OR THE INTERNET WHICH IS WHAT’S ALREADY HAPPENING. THEY CAN BROWSE THE CYBERSPACE  BY MERELY USING A  SMART PHONE.

 

 

 

The Mechanization of Tourism Industry and the Relevance of Bloggers or e-Journalism

The Mechanization of Tourism Industry

And the Relevance of Bloggers or e-Journalists

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Practically, almost every endeavor in this world has got to do with “tourism”…as anything that can elicit visits can be called a “touristic result”. A city with plenty of trusted clinics and medical practitioners can become a destination for “medical tourism” program. A village that became popular because of a Marian (Virgin Mary) appearance becomes flooded with pilgrims, and that is “religious tourism”. The situation of a place as regards security and hygiene affects tourism. And, the likeability of a place in general, revolves around tourism.

 

Tourism is about sports, nature, wildlife, food, culture, education, as well as, various segments of travel industry such as air, water and land. The constantly varying cost of fuel that affects the various modes of travel at the end, affects tourism…. even the food and the hotel accommodation.

 

The travel craze has brought about the BLOGGING PHENOMENON. Suddenly, anybody who has a facebook and maintains blog sites in the internet has become a blogger. Even a mug of coffee with a floral design formed by squirted cream becomes a subject for the blog posted on the facebook. Visually recorded travels, foodie trips and drinking sprees have become curious subjects and unwittingly become honest references of future travelers who would like to retrace the steps on the trails taken by the bloggers.

 

The effect of the e- journalists on the tourism industry is impressively tremendous. It has made travel easy and direct, booting the government tourism offices out of the picture and transaction, as bookings are directly made with travel and tour agencies. And, many travelers today are using direction applications in smart phones. The phenomenon has practically relegated government tourism offices on the sideline for  ”coordination” purposes which actually, are generally viewed as no longer necessary….making them inutile. Even for international conventions, there are professional seminar and convention handling agencies. As regards the Travel Tax, it can be handled by a representative of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) at all points of entries and exits of the country.

 

I have personally observed that the quality control of services of touristic facilities that is supposed to be handled by the local tourism offices is not carried out properly. Facilities found in small cities and towns are left on their own to cater to their clients, as they show their best smile. While in Manila, Cebu and Davao, touristic establishments are stuck with supposedly sticker of guarantee indicated by the number of stars, the rest around the country have none. If the small touristic establishments do not “come up” to the standards indicated by stars, then, such system is useless as they are just good for the big hotels in equally big cities. THERE ARE PLENTY OF AFFORDABLE AND CLEAN TOURISTIC  ESTABLISHMENTS  IN FAR-FLUNG TOWNS  WHERE “TOURIST ATTRACTIONS” ARE FOUND, AS WELL AS  SMALL CITIES WITH PROVINCIAL SETTING THAT SERVE AS “JUMP OFF POINTS”, INSTEAD OF BIG HOTELS, MALLS AND SKYCRAPERS.

 

It has been found out that real tourists, the seasoned ones who comprise the biggest chunk of the statistics on this industry, do not give a damn on the number of stars stuck on the door of a hotel and restaurants….they are after the cheap hotel rates, clean rooms and safe foods. They rely more on the suggestions and recommendations of their agents and personal experience that make them “repeat customers”, and, “WORD OF MOUTH” OR STORIES OF FRIENDS. These “stars” may be good for the glossy pages of magazines not read by the aforementioned travelers who “KNOW” what they want as seasoned travelers.

 

Here are important points to ponder on:

  • If a tourist has lost a baggage at the airport, the airline acts on it.
  • If the bag of a tourist has been snatched while he is shopping, he goes to the police.
  • If a tourist becomes sick in a hotel, he is brought to the hospital.
  • If a prospective tourist wants to visit a place, he consults the internet for blogs.
  • If a tourist destination is made accessible by road, the budget either comes from the LGU or the congressman.
  • Photos and write ups on festivals, activities and foods in the internet and made as references of tourists are uploads of bloggers. (Most LGU tourism offices collect photos via contests among the visual bloggers.)

 

The “tourism office” is not in any of the situations mentioned above. On the other hand, the information needs of the tourist can be handled by the Information Office of the LGU- from the province and city or town, down to the barangay level to MAXIMIZE their function while maintaining their being an INFORMATION OFFICE staffed with KNOWLEDGEABLE researchers.  The tourism-related functions  have become purely coordinative and informative, hence, do not need any managerial skill. In other words, ANYBODY WHO HAS A KNOWLEDGE OF ANY TOURIST SPOT OR DESTINATION OR ACTIVITY OR WHATCHAMALLIT, CAN BE A “TOURIST GUIDE”….even the guys who sweep the streets can be such and they may prove even more effective than those sitting out their time in their aircon offices chatting with fb friends.

 

Information about local destinations may have the chance to land on the pages of international magazines and the internet. HOWEVER, THEY ARE INNATELY AND VERY MUCH AVAILABLE IN THE MINDS OF THE RESIDENTS OR LOCALS…MAKING THE HIRING OF “CONSULTANTS”  FOR THEIR PROMOTION ALSO, NOT NECESSARY.  For budget proposals, the Finance guys of any LGU can do it. For the description of tourist spots or activities, the most appropriate is the Information Office, again, to maximize their function.

 

My suggestion ONLY is, dissolve the Department of Tourism and the rest of the government tourism offices and replace them with INFORMATION KIOSKS TO BE SITUATED AT STRATEGIC AREAS SUCH AS AIRPORTS (INTERNATIONAL AND DOMESTIC), PIERS, MALLS, PROVINCIAL CAPITOLS, CITY/MUNICIPA/BARANGAY HALLS. THESE KIOSKS SHOULD BE EQUIPPED WITH COMPUTERS THAT CONTAIN TRAVEL AND TOUR INFORMATION ABOUT THE PHILIPPINES, ESPCIALLY, THE PLACES WHERE THE KIOSKS ARE LOCATED, AND WHICH LOCAL AND FOREIGN TRAVELERS CAN EASILY ACCESS. THE UPLOADED INFORMATION SHOULD BE BACKED UP BY PRINTED OR HARD COPIES IN CASE OF POWER BREAKDOWN, AND KEPT IN THE FILING CABINET OF THE INFORMATION OFFICE WITH A REPRESENTATIVE POSTED AT EVERY KIOSK. AS FOR TOUR GUIDES, “JOB ORDER” EMPLOYESS WITH MULTI-FUNCTIONS CAN BE UTILIZED.

 

FINALLY, THIS IS WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO CALL AS THE “MECHANIZATION” OF THE TOURISM INDUSTRY.

 

 

Si Hesus at ang Palm Sunday

SI HESUS AT ANG PALM SUNDAY

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Kinilala si Hesus dahil sa kanyang mga pagtuturo noong kapanahunan niya at dahil may propesiya o prophesy na may darating na manunubos, inakala ng mga naniniwala sa kanya na siya ang tinutukoy. Nang pumasok siyang nakasakay sa bisero o donkey sa Herusalem noong araw na kung gunitain ngayon ay Palm Sunday, sinalubong siya ng mga taong nagwagayway ng palaspas o palm fronds bilang tanda ng pang pag-welcome sa kanya. Naghiyawan sa tuwa ang mga taong naniniwala sa kanya dahil dumating na raw ang manunubos.

 

Nang siya ay litisin dahil sa pang-uudyok ng mga religious groups nang panahong yon at pinapili pa ang mga tao kung sino ang ililigtas…siya o ang kriminal na katabi niya, ang pinili ng mga taong mailigtas sa hatol na kamatayan ay ang kriminal. Nang siya ay nagpasan ng krus papunta sa burol kung saan siya at ang iba pang kriminal na nahatulang mamatay ay ipapako sa krus, ANG MGA TAONG NAGWAGAYWAY NG MGA PALASPAS NANG SIYA AY DUMATING, AY SILA RING MGA DUMURA, NAG-ALIPUSTA AT SUMIPA SA KANYA!

 

NAUULIT  ANG GANYANG EKSENA NGAYON. SA PAGGUNITA NG ARAW NG PALASPAS O PALM SUNDAY AY MARAMI ANG BUMIBILI NITO SA LABAS NG SIMBAHAN BILANG SIMBOLO NG PAG-WELCOME SA KANYA BILANG BAHAGI NG “HOLY WEEK”…..AT PAGKALIPAS NG HOLY WEEK, ANG MGA TAONG MAAGANG GUMISING UPANG DUMALO SA MISA NG PALM SUNDAY AY BALIK SA DATING MGA BISYO….TANDA NG PAG-ALIPUSTA KAY HESUS!

palmsunday

 

 

The Neglected Advantage of “Internet” and the “Infinite” Promise of Improved Cyber Services in the Philippines

The Neglected Advantage of “Internet” And the

“Infinite” Promise of Improved Cyber Services in the Philippines

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

In the Philippines, it is obvious that the IT (information technology) is generally limited to the use of cellphone and facebook. The national government keeps on promising about the modernization of the “internet system” for the Philippines to be at par with other Asian countries with fast and cheap cost of cyber service providers, but the pronouncements have remained a promise because of greed and corruption. There is news about the entry of a “third party” but when will the Filipinos feel its presence?  As with commodities and other services, especially, the basic ones such as rice, tobacco, electricity and water, the field of information technology has also gone into the basket of greed called “monopoly” encouraged by the seemingly innate corrupt character of many government officials.

 

The Philippines, despite her being a “third world country”, is already technologically equipped, even how meager these equipment may be. But due to corruption, in some LGUs, while documents show that computer units have been purchased, they are nowhere to be found. Worse, if ever some Barangays are lucky to have been provided with them, they become “typewriters” ONLY due to the absence of signal, hence, not fully utilized.

 

Another issue is on the lack of proper orientation of the concerned on how the “internet” can be fully utilized for the benefit of the LGUs and interested parties. The “internet” is the system that keeps the cyberspace alive. The world has practically become dependent on it for just anything from show business gossips to sensitive and supposedly confidential securityswinformation of nations. Travelers browse through its travel pages for information about places, food, hotels, etc. Students download information from it for their projects and thesis.

 

The “internet” is the world’s archival system of information… the web of information highways connecting peoples and nations. This glaring fact has been neglected by many Philippine LGUs as again, their computers have become “typewriters”…not connected to the cyber world, part of which is their “head office” or their Municipal or City Hall . Many  LGus are already contented for having an  “internal archive” in their offices, as instead of hard copies of memos, reports, being printed and filed in the filing cabinet, all that the clerk does is push the “save” on the keyboard  and the work is done!

 

Another oversight is on the lack of important information on the LGU’s total scope of coverage, especially, historical data. For instance, although, all the barangays are listed in the internet site of their town or city, many of them do not have a site of their own. And worse, although listed, there are no historical data…just current statistics on the area, population and list of officials without accompanying photos of these personalities. How can those be informative?  The LGUs are supposed to have “information offices”, but the question is..are they conducting researches to collect information  right from the field to establish an historical archive?

 

My suggestion is for these information offices to gather first-hand information by taking photos of anything interesting in their community, conduct interview of old folks for historical information, etc.,  and upload these for archiving in their computers ready for downloading or quick access of visiting researchers and tourists.

 

The towns and cities should have their own archive for each barangay, and the information shared with the sites of the latter which are technologically ill-equipped.  Information should not be limited to visuals or photos of fiestas and social gatherings, oath taking, etc., as well as, mere statistics which are required of them in the first place, but also extensively written dissertations….essays, studies, gathered proposals, etc. It is not duplication of job, but “enhancement” to what the other offices are doing. This effort shall indicate COOPERATION which many LGUs lack as this expectation is oftentimes overshadowed by COMPETITION among offices which from all angles can be viewed as very unhealthy and viciously unproductive to the detriment of the LGU as a whole.

 

 

Mga Batang May Pangarap…tulad ko rin noon

Mga Batang May Pangarap

…tulad ko rin noon

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Isang tanghaling katatapos ko lang kumain sa pastilan ni Luz, ay biglang may nagdatingang mga grupo ng kabataan….mga pupils ng Tacurong Pilot Elementary School. Ang pastilan ay malapit lang sa eskwelahan at sa labas ng plaza. Noon ko lang napansing alas dose na pala ng tanghali. Sabi ni Luz, sa kanya kumakain ang mga bata kapag “bitin” ang pera nila kaya nagkakasya na lamang sa isang balot na pastil na halagang Php10 at yong okey lang sa kaning tutong, ito ay libre na, pati ang sabaw. Kaya pala kung minsan ay wala akong naaabutang tutong. Akala ko ay inuubos ni Luz na mahilig din sa tutong. Ang ilan sa mga bata ay nakita ko na sa palengke na nagtatrabaho bilang tagatapon ng basura ng mga tinder at “errand boys”. Umamin ang karamihan sa mga batang wala silang pambili ng pastil at sumama lang sa mga kaibigan nila upang mamasyal sa plaza kaya ginawan na lang ng paraan upang lahat sila ay makakain ng pastil.

 

Maliban sa dalawa na Grade 5 pa lang, ang iba ay Grade 6 na kaya tinanong ko sila kung gusto pa rin nilang mag-aral sa Tacurong…sa National High School. Tatlo ang nagsabing sa Griῆo National High School, sa barangay Griῆo para hindi na daw gagastos sa pamasahe….taga-roon kasi sila.  Nang tanungin ko kung gaano kalayo ang bahay nila mula sa school, binanggit nila ang estimated distance mula sa kinalalagyan namin hanggang sa isang maliit na mall…na ang tantiya ko ay isang kilometro ang layo! Ganoon kalayo ang lalakarin nila mula sa bahay nila hanggang sa eskwela sa umaga at pauwi sa tanghali para mananghalian at babalik para sa klase sa hapon, at pauwi na pagkatapos ng klase….total na lalakarin sa isang araw ay 4 na kilometro!

 

Yong isa ay kukunin ng tatay na nasa Cebu…hindi na ako nagtanong kung bakit nandoon ang tatay at baka may makabagbag-damdaming madiskubre lang ako tungkol sa pagkatao niya. Yong iba ay sa Tacurong National High School na lang daw dahil may mga “suki” sila sa palengkeng “pinagtatrabahuhan”…pagtatapon ng basura at bilang “errand boys” kaya maski papaano ay may kikitain sila.

 

Lahat sila ay may mga pangarap na “maging” pagdating ng panahon. Apat ang nagsabing gustong maging pulis, dalawa ang gustong maging “army”,  ang iba ay gustong maging titser at ang isa ay gustong maging engineer.  Ang isang nahiyang kumain ay binigyan ko na lang ng pera para may pambili siya ng kanit banana cue kapag nagutom dahil may mga nagtitinda naman sa labas ng gate ng school nila. Pero binulungan niya ako ng, “babaunin ko ito bukas, uncle…”.

 

Bilib ako sa kanila dahil lahat sila ay malinis ang pinagkainan…wala ni isang mumo (wasted rice) na naiwan sa dahon ng saging na pinagbalutan ng pastil at pinggan.  Wala ring natirang sabaw sa mangkok. Ang mga pinakita nila ay palatandaan na karapat-dapat silang tulungan.

 

Nakita ko sa mga batang nakausap ko ang buhay ko noong nasa elementary ako na nag-aaral din sa “Pilot” na ang dating pangalan ay “Tacurong Elementary School”. Hindi kalayuan sa kinaroroonan naming carinderia ni Luz ay ang bakery na pag-aari ng mga Garcia at sa tambakan nila ay namumulot ako ng mga pakikinabangan pa, lalo na mga malalaking plastic na supot na ginagamit kong “bag” para sa mga gamit ko sa eskwela at ang mga mas malalaki pa ay pinagtatagpi-tagpi ko upang maging rain coat. Ilang dipa lang din mula sa carinderia ay ang kapitbahay naming may puno ng sampalok na ang mga lagas o mga nahulog na hinog ay pinupulot ko upang ibenta sa eskwela para may pambili ako ng papel man lang. Meron din silang puno ng balimbing na ang mga manibalang na bunga ay hinihingi ko para ibenta sa palengke pati ang mga hinog na bunga ng kaimito (star apple) namin, tuwing Sabado at Linggo. Nagtinda din ako noon ng pandesal sa madaling araw.

 

Tulad ng mga bata ay nangarap din ako noon…libre lang naman kasi!

 

 

The Sad Plight of the Philippine Tourism Industry

The Sad Plight of the Philippine Tourism Industry

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

I find it unnecessary to hire Consultants who would come up with “tourism plan” for LGU units that are already with potential tourist destinations. Why the need for a Consultant when all that the tourists need are ONLY clean accommodation facilities, exotic foods and honest tricycle or taxi drivers? And, worse, with the Consultant coming yet, from outside the community being promoted!

 

Is it difficult for a local government to require stallholders in the public market to maintain cleanliness?…for restaurant owners to have clean restrooms, tidy halls, and staff clothed in clean uniform and with a ready smile? Or, is it difficult for a local government to call on the drivers of public conveyances to be courteous and be honest?…why the need for a Consultant to dictate what to do when all the things that should be done are supposed to be just dictated by COMMON SENSE?

 

Puerto Galera in Mindoro did not become famous because of Consultants, and so are Boracay, the scuba diving sites around the country, the mountains, the caves and the festivals. PHILIPPINE AIRLINES DID A LOT IN PROMOTING THEM AS PART OF ITS AIR TRAVEL EDUCATION PROGRAM. The Department of Tourism just “researched” on them so that they can have something to print in their brochures that they displayed in their “field” offices around the country and some cities around the world. They literally picked up easily the “opportunities” of already famous tourist attractions of the country.

 

CONSULTANTS WERE NEVER HIRED BY LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO MAKE WHAT THEY HAVE AS TOURIST ATTRACTIONS BECOME FAMOUS. UNFORTUNATELY, THE LACK OF CONCERN FROM THE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES TO PRESERVE THEIR PRISTINE BEAUTY AND THE GREED FOR MONEY OF INVESTORS, PRACTICALLY, SPOILED THEM….AND, BORACAY  IS THE BIG PROOF!

 

The word-of-mouth system of promotion also did a lot…made by satisfied travelers who told their friends when they went back to their countries. THERE WAS NO PLAN. What is worse that is happening today is the idiotization of festivals of different cities and towns that differ only in outlandish costumes but with street dancers moving to the same rhythm and beat copied from the Ati-atihan of Ibajay in Aklan and later, Kalibo, as well as the Binirayan of Antique. In fairness to some of them,  however, there are many towns who are steadfast in coming up with costumes symbolic of their festival or celebration. But generally, the general impression about the festivals is “…if you have seen one, you have seen them all…” WHICH IS NOT GOOD AND SHOULD SERVE AS A STRONG SIGNAL TO THE DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM TO DO SOMETHING.

 

The Philippines is lagging behind the rest of the traditional destinations in Southeast Asia such as Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore with even those that had a late start-up like Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia catching up. It should be noted that even Singapore is making to full use the “colors” of its rich multi-faceted culture that include street foods and market scenes. On the other hand, the rest of the highly-attractive nations are also doing the same with the same pride. Meanwhile, the Philippine tourism guys think that the country MUST hold an international pageant to make her popular!

 

The country should be thankful to Duterte whose feisty and rhetorical statements have earned added curiosity of the world and the respect of many nations….but to the guys who are salaried to work for such purpose?…WELL…!#$@^&%$!

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