Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Subic-Clark Expressway: A better road that could be better


The SCTEx is great piece of work for a country that is deeply enbroiled in many challenges.

Almost all motorists (and therefore Subic visitors) we've talked to say that travelling through the 50-kilometer road is an inspiring experience. "We could do it after all," commented a Hari Krishna devotee, who is currently based in London, told a member of the subicreview team. He spent two weeks in the country, and nearly missed the opening of the tollroad.

He is now back in London, promising to tell the rest of the Filipino community about it. "Its good thing that I bought a new digital camera in Hong Kong enroute to Manila," he adds. Picture do tell a thousand words, at the very least.

But its not enough that we could do it. We must "do" better.

Right now, the Subic-Clark road does not have an exit to guess where? Right, Clark. The lighting system still needs, well, more light.

With that said, we are still more than happy that it is finally open. It was long overdue as explained in this article of the subicreview.

To the tollroad operator. In case Payumo, Colayco and the rest of the gang who started it all, asks for permission to camp-out temporarily along the sides of the highway, do let them. They deserve it.

For those who haven't experienced the SCTEx, the labod day weekend is just around the corner. Come to Subic, pass through the SCTEx, you'll see that we (the Filipinos) really can be better.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Politics is tourism

We noticed a marked increase in visitors inside the Freeport. Mainly because of there is so much interest in the Hanjin Condo. The Philippine Senate, led by Senator Pia Cayetano, sent a team to investigate the issue. Well, at least they are working.

Here's a tip for the budget conscious, including the low paid, overworked Senate staffers. Binalot, a local budget food outlet, opened its branch near the Magsaysay gate. Its unique serving of viands on rice, packed in the traditional banana leaves wrappings, is reportedly very tasty.

So the more adventurous traveler must find the Binalot resto. We haven't "Reviewed" the place, so for now, all we can say is that it is different.

We are sure Ms. Cayetano, her VIP friends, the local officials and businessmen fueling the fire, will find their way to the more upscale places to eat. After all, it on us tax payers. Right?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Magic Lagoon: Great food, Fast Service

Subic Bay Yacht Club or Magic Lagoon?

The question was eventually answered by our wallets. Pulling together ten P100 peso bills would get us nowhere at the Yacht Club, so its off to Magic Lagoon.

Several geese quacked greetings. One even went after a customer, who gave a shocked laugh. Imagine.

If you drop by, take a seat near the lagoon. But make sure the sun’s almost out, otherwise, you are toast. Also, since you are near a water body, expect some flyers to buzz around. But an insect repelling concoction would do the trick. Otherwise, stay near the blowers that the restaurant provides.

As usual, the orders matched San Mig and Marlboro Lights. Sisig, kaldereta, tuna steak, salpicao. Great taste, fast service. It even comes with a smile. This is something that rarely comes with the chow in many restaurants here in Subic Bay.

Calling the attention of the Greater Subic Tourism Bureau (GSTB), a smile ain’t gonna cost your members.

Here is a secret. Order the Kinamatisang Talakitok. It’s heaven. For the pork and beef lovers, salpicao is super. The owner, Romy Tagle, is almost always around to attend to your needs.

The more adventurous would be able to fish their fish meal right from the lagoon. This is one thrill that you can’t find anywhere in Subic Bay. And get this, they are open, 24/7.

So, one hour and 980 pesos later, here is the review.

NOTE:Some readers wanted a rating system. So, below is a ten-point rating system, ten (10) being the highest, and 1 (one) being the lowest. I will include this system in my previous posts. Just one catch, a score of 3 is definitely a "do not visit."

The Magic Lagoon Bar/Grill/Restaurant
Building 716 Bincentenial Park, Rizal Highway
Subic Bay, Zambales, Philippines
Open 24/7

Tel No: Phone: (047)-252-1475

9 -Food (and it won’t take that long)
8 –Place (you can say it a place for party animals)
8 –Service (smile gets half a point)
8 -Price
8.25 -Net Rating

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Is it because of the forest or because they are Koreans?

One day, this blog would love to be able to post a review of the Hanjin 22-storey condo.

Facts will soon come out sonner that later, and those who opened their beaks without conducting a due diligence study would hopefully say sorry.

Here are several accusations:

1.) The project violated environmental laws - Statement made by Senators Legarda, Zubiri and Gordon.

Apparently the Koreans followed the laws to the letter. It in fact, went through the process step-by-step and passed them all. And yes, Honorable Senator Loren Lagarda, projects that follow the rules and are legal, are right. Otherwise, what is?

2.) That it was carved out of the rain forest - the senators again

Wrong again. It was formerly a munitions area, already cleared by the Americans that was later used a staging and conversion area for used vehicles. What rain forest? These are secondary growth area. The rain forest you are referring to was cut down by the Americans in the early 1900s.

3.) That such travesty (condo project in the forest) was approved during former SBMA chairman Felicito Payumo's time - Senator Gordon

Sus! and if it wasn't then its ok, except for the height? "Nakakainis iyon!"

4.) Its horrible! Its horrific! Foreigners should respect our environmental laws when they come here - Gina Lopez

Well, her taste for beauty would be suspect, just as everyone else's. Ms. Lopez, they did respect our laws. Everyone else should also. And more importantly, Ms. Lopez SHOULD.

5.) Who issued the ECC? Who sold the land? How did that happen? - Ms. Lopez again.

Ma'am, authorized government officials did. Lands in Subic Bay cannot be sold, only leased. The SBMA board approved the project. Anything else?

6.) SBMA Ecology Center head should be fired - Gordon

Why? Please tell us why? For doing her job?

7.) As a general rule, you can’t do construction work because it’s a protected area. It’s a watershed. Former DENR secretary and now Rep. Antonio Ceriles.

What general rule? There are provisions in the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) that allow construction. Its in the core ecological zone that development is prohibited. The site, dear sir, is at least 2 kilometers from the core zone. A watershed? Tell that to the Americans, Dick Gordon (former SBMA chair), Former chair Felicito Payumo, President Erap.

8.) Monument to deceit - Inquirer editorial

Sadly, the Inquirer got it much of their facts wrong. Read the editorial here. No connivance here, dear Guyito, just hard working government employees. The types that you have been looking for since your got your first line.

9.) I don't think we should investigate everything we see- Senator Gordon ( a sort of retraction of his vicious attack two days before)

Jesus H. C. Just say SORRY. It ain't that hard. Try it. S-O-R-R-Y. And next time, don't fire of your mouth before you've done proper investigation. We know its hard, but you can do it.

10.) Probe Hanjin, fire SBMA execs - Zubiri again.

You haven't done any investigation yet and yet you pre-judge those whom you want to investigate? You know better than that.

11.) The Hanjin/Arreza/Salonga Environmental Destruction of Subic Continues - Subic Bulletin

Unfair statement, to say the least.

These Korean are not the best investors in Subic Bay. But in this case, they did everything by the book. They took their US$20 million and trusted the SBMA and the government when it said you have complied with all that is needed.

Besides, these pockets of developments (and as you can see there are plenty of them), are important to the Freeport.

Let's put it this way. You have US$ 20 million and you want to invest. SBMA says OK, but you have to comply with the Philippine environment laws. So you DO, and you start spending your money.

And get all these flak just because Ms. Gina Lopez, Gordon, Zubiri, the Inquirer, Cerilles, Legarda and cause-oriented groups failed to do proper research.

What would you do?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

GRADUATION is a beginning...

Close to 500.

This was the best estimate that government agencies could provide when asked how many graduates were produced by the four (4) higher education institutions (HEIs) inside the Freeport this year.

I know for a fact that of the 500, five graduates of
Comteq Computer and Business College were hired by IDESS Interactive, a Norwegian software development firm inside the Freeport, three months before they received their diploma.

(No wonder Comteq was selected as the only educational institution that was selected by the Philippine Daily Inquirer for its mentoring program. Click this link and then this link for the articles.)

How much salary were they offered? Well, if you were a software firm desperate for great artists (and can’t find a single qualified person from the present labor pool), how much would you pay?

And get this, all five will be allowed to continue their studies!

For IDESS Interactive, it pays to pay well. For the students, choosing the right college offering the right programs, paid huge dividends well before graduation.

How big a deal is it for graduates to be recruited off the college campus? Ask an employed friend how long it took them to land a job. Let's experiment and agree that the first one you ask is the average for the Freeeport. So, how long did it took you friend to find a job?

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) started a nationwide tracer study for degree holders nationwide. The study also aims to find out how long the graduates looked for a job. But it ain't complete yet.

So I did a crude research. Just to get an idea. I talked to nine (9) employees I knew and here it is the result. Three (3) people said they found a job 1.5 years after gradaution. Four (4) said it took them more than two (2) years, while the other two said more than two years.

So here are some tips for those who are planning to take up a degree course this coming academic year 2009.

1.) For the High School graduates and their parents
A.) Think about what you are passionate about, choose the right program, and enroll as soon as you can. Some Freeport schools offer limited slots per course to ensure quality education.
B.) Check out the websites, ask around, and visit the campuses. Inspect the facilities but more importantly, check out the faculty line-up. Here is the list of schools inside the Freeport.

2.) For the Employers
A.) Go to the colleges, and get the best.
B.) Talk to the schools like IDESS did. Check this employee selection formula. FREE two to four years skills and knowledge assessment by college officials + character evaluation from faculty members + your recruitment process. How could you go wrong?
C.) Pay better that the rest.

3.) To the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs)
Get involved in your family’s choices. Who better to guide them that you?

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