Category Archives: Europe

How to understand the Russian culture (or Soviet culture) via an Asian perspective

Photo credits to mytripolog.com

Okay, I’m not an expert in Russia, or the Slavic culture in general, but there are things I have discovered as I re-learn the Russian culture and of course, some of its politics (well, I have to admit, aside from Japan, I also like Russia, all thanks to the late singer Origa, I do give credit to her; if not because of her, I would never ever appreciate Russian culture—tell me guys where her grave is).

If you are already familiar with Maria Sharapova, Anna Kournikova, and t.A.T.u., or Vitas, well—they might not be a good help if you’re going to learn and understand what RUSSIAN culture IS all about, in an Asian point of view.

Read the rest of this entry

Mandatory ROTC? Not so fast…

Photo Courtesy: Win Gatchalian via Official Website

I do agree with ROTC, yet with reservations

Prof. Antonio Contreras’s thoughts on bringing back Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) as a mandatory course:

Indeed. Mandatory ROTC is a waste of time and resources.

Make it optional and with benefits. Meanwhile, strengthen civics and citizenship awareness among students. Require all students to take a course similar to what we have in DLSU on Citizenship and Governance. Also require a course on understanding the culture and language of other Filipinos. In fact, even as we encourage students to study foreign languages, it should be made a requirement that students know another Filipino language aside from Tagalog and their mother tongue.

Also, require all students to take martial arts courses, sex education, anti- addiction of all kinds and driving courses (so that they know traffic rules).

Ergo, his thoughts are pretty much practical.

The prudes (the Loyalists, as usual) would completely AGREE with mandatory ROTC, since for them, it instills discipline and patriotism blah blah… but I don’t actually agree. In fact, ROTC, like Martial Law, could be kind or unkind to you. Well, in order for you to be oriented in ROTC, you should undergo CAT (Citizen Advancement Training), to have a grasp on how ROTC works.

ROTC is not bad–however, consider the following factors: Be considerate to people who have experienced its dark side–hazing, powertripping, being treated by crap by power-tripping officers, etc., those things have to be placed in debate before implementation. And please, don’t get me started with countries such as Israel, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, or even Switzerland–the reason why they have mandatory conscription is because, they can AFFORD to invest for funds and resources to implement this form of learning to express love your country unconditionally, aside from the fact that it has political and foreign policy-related situations such as political conflicts regarding ideology (South vs. North Korea), or even religious involvement (Israel vs. most Gulf countries supporting Palestine), sovereignty issues (Taiwan being still the Republic of China), national policy (Singapore), and lastly, neutrality in both local and foreign policy (Switzerland).

Well, could the Philippines afford it? Let’s see.

Before approving ROTC, let us be considerate to some grey areas

The reason why it was abolished in 2001 is simply because of the hazing controversies and sort of “dark sides” it had (#NeverForget Mark Chua, a Thomasian who was killed because he exposed the alleged corruptions inside his unit). However, because we’re in a strategic location, I think this is the time it could be conducive for its comeback. Remember, the Spratlys and Scarborough Shoal are both Philippine territory (I repeat, they both are Philippine territories, lest we not forget).

If the prudes want ROTC back (well, because they really despise the leftists–read your history regarding the Cold War, and how communism played a BIG yet controversial role in that period of history), then they must condemn the corruptions inside ROTC. Also, never forget Jeff Cudia who only sacrificed himself, exposing the corruption inside the Philippine Military Academy (PMA)–that “offense for being late” causing his demerits were PURE damage control. This resulted to fewer and fewer graduates of the most prestigious military academy in the Philippines.

#NeverForget the fallen Mark Welson Chua

He was pretty much like the slain Marcos critic from Mapua, Archimedes Trajano, and of course, the late journalist Louie Beltran. Truth is–

One aspect of the story however seems to have been forgotten – that Mark would not have wanted mandatory ROTC abolished.

In 2006, the older Chua told the Varsitarian that if Mark were alive, he would not have supported the policy shift.

“Mark did not want to abolish the ROTC,” said Welson, two years before his death following a heart attack. “It’s not the institution, it’s the way it’s being run.”

Instead of eradicating the anomalies, Welson said, the move might have encouraged more corruption in the two new programs launched by the government under NSTP.

“Instead of one ROTC, now the government and the universities would have two other departments to look after,” Welson said. “These departments can be corrupt too.”

Source: The Varsitarian (retrieved 09 February 2017)

Well, to be honest, Mark Chua only wanted to improve and strengthen ROTC–and how its managed. No wonder, I would like to reveal the irregularities and of course, the loopholes when you are in a CAT/ROTC program–but first, lemme tell you that I did not take up ROTC for personal reasons–as much as I wanted to (well, masaya kasi–and no kidding, it really teaches you self-confidence), I only considered my experience in CAT.

Here were the irregularities and loopholes I encountered in my high school’s version of CAT:

1.) Frankly speaking, the CAT Officers were only used as mere “tools” to protect the school’s vested interests (no offense meant to the officers, but you get my point. I ain’t sourgraping).

2.) Usual scenario: Power-tripping.

3.) Speaking of recruiting and hiring officers, there’s cronyism and nepotism all the way.

4.) Even best cadets are chosen based on cronyism and nepotism–don’t EVER get me wrong here.

5.) The officers were only used as mere tools to continue elitism, corruption, and huge amounts of hypocrisy inside the school.

Maybe these were the things that Mark Chua exposed. Alright, I know this is a sensitive and a critical topic to discuss, however, these were my true observations. I have to admit and open this up, I voluntarily trained to become a CAT Officer, but I stopped–because lately, I realized that I was right in quitting, because simply put, it would be against my principles that I’m upholding today. Only a handful of officers upheld their principles as student leaders up to this very day.

To be honest, this is the harsh reality of the ROTC in the Philippines–starting from CAT:

“In the ph, unfortunately, it is a hotbed for bullying and hazing. It goes with the crab culture. a lot of students choose to become officers not because they want to serve the country, but think of it as a method of attaining some sort of power over others.” — on ROTC, via GRP

Thank goodness, the popular kids and the elitists MUST be grateful that I quit my CAT Officer training, and the mere fact that I chose CWTS instead of ROTC–if I become a CAT or ROTC officer, then they must prepare for me as their boss. I might be power-tripping them.

But nah, I believe that power-tripping is a sign of being unprofessional.

Well, these are my only thoughts about the comeback of mandatory ROTC. One simple hotseat controversy only caused the Philippines to abolish mandatory ROTC–which might be against the victim who exposed the loopholes of ROTC. Lest we not forget, improvements and strengthening of ROTC must push through–if we’re only to follow Mark Chua’s legacy.

Best and Worst Passports to Have

Best Passports   Worst Passports

It is not surprising that Germany, Japan and of course the United States would be on the top list.

Sadly, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia, Brunei and Malaysia didn’t make it to the top 20 best passports list, but that’s alright, for as long as they could access at least Canada, NZ, UK and the Schengen Area without visa restrictions.

No passport is perfect, since countries like Japan and the United States have burdens to get a visa to Brazil or even Russia, which is actually something that South Korean passports are blessed with: Visa-free travel to Russia and Brazil.

But then again, why is South Korea not even on the Top 20 list?

Hmmm… I don’t think pre-arrival visa to China should be a hindrance, but I think Koreans from the ROK are very lucky to have a passport that could send them to a lot of countries without a visa. Also, they’re part of the visa waiver to Australia and the United States, therefore it shouldn’t be a problem at all.

Also, South Korea finally allowed multiple citizenship… but quota-based. However, they should adopt the “Ritenshon Shonin” in order for everyone to still have Korean citizenship in all aspects (so to speak, native South Koreans could still have Korean citizenship and American citizenship if they’re born in the US, and Koreans who were born in South Korea but naturalized in another country could still retain their Korean citizenship, and half-Koreans who are dual citizens since birth could still retain their citizenship no matter the cost will be–for as long as they’ll apply for permission to retain their Korean citizenship).

Also, if you’re a South Korean citizen, you could go to South America visa-free/visa-on-arrival, which American and Japanese passport holders don’t have (they both need visa to enter Brazil in advance).

Well, the only downside is that, South Korean passport holders cannot enter North Korea at all, since both countries are still enemies. South Koreans don’t really like going to North Korea at all, and they’re fine with it–as a matter of fact, many North Koreans who escape their own country fly to South Korea for good. Obviously, South Korea offers greener pastures and better quality of life, as opposed to North Korea.

By essence, South Korea officially recognizes North Koreans as South Korean citizens. If North Koreans escape from their home country successfully via the indirect route, this means that they become South Koreans for good. It’s a good thing that the ROK government resurrected its peace talk plans towards North Korea.

South Korea not making it to the top list… why?

South Korea is actually a latecomer when it comes to being one of the richest and the most developed countries in the world. It is one of the Asian Tigers, alongside Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. Well, these Asian Tigers of course, has this freedom to travel without a visa. I really dunno why Brunei isn’t included in the Asian Tigers to make it five… hmmm…

Well, I just hope that South Korea will still develop its bilateral relations with other states so that South Koreans would travel up to 170+ countries without a visa. Speaking of which, it is possible that South Korea might as well continue its peace talks with North Korea so that South Korean citizens won’t feel tension with its rival state.

Other countries with travel freedom (but did not make it on the top list)

Australia, Greece and Iceland are the Western countries (though Australia is geographically a South-east country with a Westernized culture) that didn’t make it to the top list. It is surprising for Australia since its neighbor New Zealand surpassed it by making it to the Top 20. Other countries like what I have mentioned before (Malaysia, South Korea, Brunei, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore) also have this travel freedom reward.

To make the list… (check this list out if you want)

[Just remember, they’re not actually in order… hehehe]

1.) Liechtenstein – It didn’t make to the top list, but it still had the 100+ visa-free access.
2.) Israel – Though the Arab League is technically an avid “hater” of this country, this country rather is more rewarded than the Arab League states, in terms of travel freedom–it can access Japan, South Korea and the Schengen Area
3.) Mauritius – Surprisingly, this little island country in the southern part of Africa within the Indian Ocean allows its citizens to travel to the Schengen Area and Japan without a visa.
4.) Barbados – Same with Mauritius.
5.) Mexico – Same with Mauritius and Barbados, but what these three have in common is that their passports aren’t biometric (AWWWWWW…).
6.) Brazil – Though Brazilians need to enter Japan with a visa in advance, it could enter the Schengen area without a visa.
7.) Argentina – Same with Brazil, but its citizens could enter Japan without a visa.
8.) Chile – Same with Argentina, I think.
9.) Czech Republic – Of course, it’s part of the Schengen Area.
10.) Cyprus – Cyprus is fairly European, so to speak. And YES, it’s part of the EU.

So far, I base these things on how they could access the following territories (not necessarily ALL of them):

1.) European Union and the Schengen Area – Of course, to be fair this will include the United Kingdom and Ireland, and also non-EU member states such as Norway, Iceland and Switzerland (EFTA members, if not EU, lol). Eastern Europe is included if you’re talking about EU member states haha.
2.) South America – Visa-free access to South America is actually not-so bad after all, but once a country is rewarded visa-free access to ALL South American countries without a visa, this would mean that they have the same level as the Pope (well, almost).
3.) OECD member states (namely Japan and Israel) – If you’re one of the countries that could enter Japan and Israel without a visa (all of them), then you must be lucky.
4.) Countries with the most lenient visa policies (Philippines, Ecuador, Malaysia, Haiti, South Korea) – Well, Haiti seems to have the most lenient visa policy in the world, which will put Ecuador second to the list, and I’ll make a separate article about this one). Meanwhile, South Korea has eased their visa policies towards other countries (the Philippines is NOT lucky to be one of the countries that could access South Korea without a tourist visa, prolly due to the “Tago ng Tago/TNT” controversy–but when it comes to Israel, Filipino citizens could enter Israel without a visa at all), but there are some countries that need a visa to enter the Land of the Morning Calm.
5.) South Africa (and the rest of its neighbors) and the United Arab Emirates – Same thing with #3. No need to explain further.

Well, access to Vietnam, China, North America and Russia aren’t counted at all since it would be unfair to some countries included in the list. Remember, it’s actually very difficult to get a visa going to Vietnam (sources say), China (it’s easier getting a Chinese visa if you’re a Filipino citizen and China only allows 6 countries to enter its territory without a visa), North America (some countries need to access Canada with a visa, except if you’re coming from the EU/Schengen Area or a developed country in general; and the United States’s visa policies are much stricter compared to China) and Russia (ahhh… sources say it’s very difficult to obtain a Russian visa, but it still depends upon the country you’re coming from).

Worst Passports: Why Worst!?

It’s actually FAIR and JUST that China did not make it to the Top 20 WORST Passports list, even though it’s quite infuriating to possess a Chinese passport (just ask those Filipino-Chinese friends of yours who are not yet officially Filipino citizens, or their parents who are not yet Filipino citizens)–well, the reason why I’m saying this is because China, even though its citizens need to apply for visa to Ecuador and the Philippines, did not make it to the top 20 worst passports list is because at least it still has the “worth” in it. However, what makes it something not to be proud of is the controversial inclusion of its “disputed” territories which is of course possessions of Vietnam, Philippines and India. Also, China isn’t having a formal war with the United States compared to most Arab and Muslim states such as Afghanistan, Iraq… and you know the rest.

These countries actually restrict foreigners from entering their territories without a visa mainly because of the war that’s happening in their territory. I bet, countries that are actually having internal conflict cannot actually concentrate on bilateral agreements due to the fact that unending wars are still on-going. No wonder, South Korea actually didn’t allow its own citizens to enter these countries. The Philippines actually did this as well, to Filipinos who actually want to enter Iraq despite its status.

Well, these countries are actually having wars and conflicts, therefore the result: They can only access no more than 41 countries without a visa, which is actually more infuriating compared to possessing a Chinese passport.

Why is China not included in the list!?

I hate to say this, but even though China did not make it to the top list, other countries impose visa towards China is because there are a lot of illegal immigrants from China, despite its growing economy. Ecuador and the Philippines are imposing visas towards Chinese citizens due to the fact that everywhere, you see a Chinese person. Prolly at the end of the day, Filipinos might be the second largest ethnic diaspora next to China, or even surpassing them (unless the 1987 Constitution is burned to the pits of hell, haha).

Also, China imposes visa to other countries, which is actually more frustrating. Only six countries could enter China without a visa (Brunei, Japan, Singapore and Mauritius), but Wikipedia stated seven countries (Gawd, when will I stop relying too much on Wikipedia!?). Only diplomatic and official passport holders have the privilege to enter China without a visa, which is again, frustrating for ordinary passport holders.

Indicators of having a “good ordinary passport”:

1.) If a certain country has good diplomatic relations with other countries.
2.) Lesser numbers of an ethnic diaspora.
3.) Less people who overstay.
4.) Less people who stay illegally in a foreign country.
5.) Countries that have no internal conflict.

I actually do not buy the fact that the smaller and the richer the country, the more you could travel without a visa. Well, Barbados and Mauritius might not be as rich as the OECD founding members, but speaking of internal events in a country, it should be something that adheres with international standards.

What makes a good passport?


Visa requirements for British citizens


Visa requirements for Japanese citizens


Visa requirements for U.S. American citizens


Visa requirements for South Korean citizens

I have noticed that if you come from a developed country, you usually get lots of benefits if you are a citizen of the countries I have mentioned above. However, being a rich/not-so-rich but not-too-poor country doesn’t really mean you could already travel without any visa. I’ll show you more examples:


Visa requirements for Filipino citizens

Side Note: Even though South Korea has a lenient visa policy, the Philippines, however, isn’t included in its list in the countries that do not need visa to enter its territory without the visa, probably due to Filipinos “overstaying.” After all, I still consider a trip to South Korea a privilege.

And here’s the worst part…


Visa requirements for Chinese (mainland) citizens

This map shows that owning a Vietnamese or Iranian passport is even more valuable than owning a Chinese passport (most countries offer visa-on-arrival travel for Chinese citizens, only a few are willing to offer totally visa-free travel for Chinese citizens). Ah, the horrors of having 1 billion people residing in one big country… and overseas. But don’t worry, the mainland Chinese government is doing efforts to sign mutual visa-free agreement with other countries. Well, Filipino government officials should warn China that it should stop bullying the Philippines so that Chinese citizens could travel to the Philippines without any visa… like let’s say, for 14 days only.

Here, even though China is wealthier than the Philippines, Filipino citizens (like me) could travel without any visa in 58 countries. In the Philippines, you need to get a visa before travelling to other countries such as Japan, the US, China, Australia and of course, South Korea. As a matter of fact, only the privileged ones could afford getting visas.

Diplomatic Relations Matter


Visa requirements for Israeli citizens

If you happen to be an Israeli citizen… I have to warn you guys that there are some countries that despise your country. Hmmm… well, not saying that it is oppressive to be an Israeli citizen, but other countries view it as “occupied Palestine” since these countries that have an obsessive form of hate towards Israel are mostly pro-Palestine. It’s not the fault of Israeli citizens that some countries despise them, but the Israeli government is actually being oppressive towards Palestinians. I hate to say this, but if the Jews should have their own country, they should have been friendlier towards Palestine and Palestinians rather than oppressing them. Until now, there are some non-Arab people that has a negative view on Israel.

Though holding an Israeli passport has an oppressive side, lemme tell you that you have the opportunity of visiting most of South America, Japan and the EU/EFTA/Schengen Area at the same time–which means that holding an Israeli passport is similar to holding a Hong Kong and Macanese passport. Some Israelis might accept this fact, but some think that there should something be done in order to allow Israeli citizens to travel these states.

It’s a good thing that there are countries that simply impose visa rules towards other countries, rather than rejecting their passports. It means that they maintain good relations with one another, even though they bully other countries. For instance, China and the Philippines. Even though the Chinese government despises PNoy, they still welcome ordinary Filipino citizens to enter their country (provided that visas are already in Philippine passports). There is no such thing as “obsessive hatred” against each other, despite the territorial dispute controversy between China vs. its neighbors.

No wonder, I still look up to China despite being a bully country. Well, the reasons why the Philippines has good ties with other states and nations is because the Marcoses and former President Gloria M. Arroyo made efforts to make friends with different world leaders. Look at PGMA, even though she broke her promise with former US President George W. Bush, the USA and the Philippines are still allies. The yellow oligarchs cannot actually do that–you have to say something GOOD about the country and not bully the Philippines just to get close to them.

Best Passports have good diplomatic ties with other countries as great powers

Most countries in Europe and North America have the best passports mainly because they have the most stable form of government and has the power to exercise their policies to influence everyone. No wonder, many Filipino citizens opt to be dual citizens to travel without any restrictions. They may use their Philippine passport to travel towards the rest of Southeast Asia, but they’ll need their other passport to travel to Europe.

Worst Passports actually do not offer security and safety for tourists

Well, not all countries aren’t too dangerous for the traveller, but you see, political turmoil actually is a distraction to allow their citizens to enjoy visa-free travel. However, there are countries that really impose visas to almost every country in the world, that’s why in return, countries who suffer on their visa policies have their revenge (lol).

Conclusion

I have a question for you, guys. If you happen to be a dual citizen and your other country requires you to choose just one citizenship at the legal age, will you accept this fact or not? Why or why not?

Criteria:

1.) One citizenship of yours allows you to travel in 170+ countries yet requires you to choose one citizenship while the other allows dual citizenship but only lets you travel to just 60+ and below countries. (Or the other way around)

2.) If you actually need to apply for permission to retain your other citizenship to remain dual?

Premierminister Margaret Thatcher hat gestorben

Naaahhh… that is “Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has died.”

Pardon mein Deutsch, however, even though I used German for the title itself, Frau Thatcher is actually a Briton.

She died of a stroke at the age of 87.


abcnews.go.com

She pioneered on what it is called as “Thatcherism,” which is a form of neoliberalism that supports the workforce. She is also known as the “Iron Lady” of British politics due to her conservative-authoritarian political beliefs.

After all, I’d say that she was the older version of Frau. Dr. Angela Merkel. Die Kanzlerin, on the other hand, is the “Iron Lady” of German politics, known for her strong-willed personality and charisma.

From gma.yahoo.com:

She pushed for privatization, lower taxes, and deregulation. And she sought to keep Britain from surrendering any of its sovereignty to the European Union.

Exactly, as it is. Her style of governing the British economy at her time is often viewed as “Reaganomics” in the United States of America. No other Iron Lady would do that like her. After all, she nailed it!

CGMA should have been like (the former) PM Thatcher, yet the former is actually more self-important and an exploiter compared to the latter, who is authoritarian, yet managed to bring Britain’s glory and had a great relationship with former US President Ronald Reagan and former Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev (dudes, it’s GOR-ba-CHAWFF). She was also known to be anti-communist like former Polish president Lech “Weinachtsmann” Walesa.

If the UK had her as a strong-willed leader, Germany also has their very own Frau Dr. Merkel who is even more strong-willed but remains low-key.

PS: She’s the “Daw Suu” of Europe.

Let us now welcome the new Pope: Francis I


news.yahoo.com|Welcome, Senor Jorge Bergoglio aka Pope Francis I!

I’d say he really looks friendly, though.

Sorry I have not watched the white smoke news, but I think this dude might nail it! Hurrah for a new pope!

To quote Yahoo! News:

Bergoglio is the first Jesuit to become pope.

“Bergoglio has character. He’s very humble and he’s someone who really goes out to the people.”

Thinking he’s a Jesuit, I think this would be a great opportunity to be open-minded towards things that are not yet fully accepted by the Church. I feel optimistic towards his guy — he’s younger than his predecessor of course, but at the age of 76, and was born in 1936, I think he’s not that young anymore since this is the 21st century.

Would he be as popular as Pope John Paul II or be as intellectual as Pope Benedict XVI?

Benedict’s style was often seen as too academic and he was never as popular as his predecessor Pope John Paul II. Many of the cardinals have called for the new pope to be a better communicator, able to reach out particularly to young people.

I’d say that this is quite true, since Pope Benedict XVI has always been going to colleges or something like that, and I think he could be a good theology professor, though.

Oh, well. That’s my post for the new Pope, though!

Iceland: A Mystical Paradise


icepics.de|The Icelandic Flag

Even though I never set on foot on Iceland, I’d like to discuss to you the homeland of Bjork!

Iceland is a European Nordic country situated near the Arctic Circle, and its capital, Reykjavik, is the northernmost capital city of a sovereign state in the world. Ever since, it is the most peaceful country in the world, considering its climate and geography. As of now, its population does not reach a million at all. It never achieved 1M people in the territory itself, so basically, almost everyone are familiar with one another.

Iceland is also known for its natural wonders, and two of the most famous are Vatnajokull and Strokkur. Detifoss also included.


Vatnajokull


Strokkur


Dettifoss

You could never deny that these are very beautiful, so no wonder, Bjork was inspired by nature when she thought of writing her music — you’d never know, she flaunts it the right way, a’ryt.

For me, I would call it “exotic” despite being a European country (exotic does not only apply to Latin and African countries alone) — its language, derived from Old Norse, is “purified” to strengthen Icelandic national identity. It is close to the Faroese language, and its “Norse-ness” is really, distinctive. Not even the other Scandinavian languages could actually be related to Icelandic besides Faroese, despite being classified as “Germanic.”

Iceland Trivia:

It is a right-hand traffic country.
People do not only learn Icelandic; English (as in UK English) and Danish are also taught.
It is the most peaceful country in the world.
It is a train-free country (awww…).So far, Reykjavik is the only metropolitan area (as in CITY), but I do not know if this has changed.
There is no such thing as McDonald’s in Iceland.
Check out other things that are NOT in Iceland… (which is sad huhuhu).
Fermented shark is a delicacy in Iceland.
Magnus Scheving, the gymnast who portrayed Sportacus in Lazytown, hails from Iceland.
The Icelandic surname system is very unusual — most likely it’s a patronymic. For instance, Bjork’s surname is Gudmundsdottir (Gudmond’s Daughter), which is one example of a patronymic. So it’s most likely to happen that in a telephone directory, Icelanders are listed according to their first name (how awesome is that, right?). So, if you’re going to address an Icelandic person, you might as well address him/her through their first names. If in other countries, this is rude. However, for them, it’s not rude after all. I don’t really know if they observe honorific language.
You may find other err… many-to-mention trivia HERE and HERE.

Iceland is almost like Australia — usually, the cities, towns — if it’s a town, it really looks like you’re in the countryside. No joke, look at the photographs, it tells you everything. However, the difference is that, Iceland is much healthier to live in because it has greens and snow on it, unlike Australia, which is mostly desert.

One strange thing about Iceland is that, it’s the only country in Europe that would err… provide electricity due to its natural wonders that could generate power, energy and electricity for the whole Europe.

Its waters are pure, and need not to be chlorinated in any manner — potable enough if you’re in an Icelandic home.

Iceland and its wonders


123rf.com|If this was brought to the Philippines, people will treat it as a waterfall from Villa Escudero.


cultureledger.com|Indeed, Iceland is very green and its climate is mild, so it should be “Waterland” or Greenland rather.


flickrhivemind.net|Unusual water-FALL.

For more Icelandic beauty photographs, HERE is the source.

When the most underrated topic becomes interesting

If you haven’t read my entry about the DPRK, click here.

You may say that again that I’m a weirdo. However, most underrated stuff captivates my interest. For instance, the most underrated would be those that seem more interesting than the most overrated (which are the most commercialized).

So, here are the most underrated topics…


swedenabroad.com|From left: Finland (White/Blue cross), Denmark (Red/White cross), Sweden (Blue/Yellow cross), Norway (Red/White and Blue cross) and Iceland (Blue/White and Red cross).

Scandinavia/Norden


lacingup@blogspot.com|Danish supermodel Freja Beha Erichsen doesn’t turn her back to her Scandinavian roots. In fact, she still considers Denmark her true home. (Now that’s what I call it, swag!)

The northern part of Europe is the least talked about. But wait… where do you think ABBA, Ace of Base, Roxette, Whigfield, Aqua, M2M or even this… Michael Learns to Rock come from? These famous bands during the 90’s are not American nor British nor… Aussie. These are actually Scandinavian. ABBA, Ace of Base and Roxette are Swedish, M2M are Norwegian, while Aqua, Whigfield and Michael Learns to Rock (MLTR) are Danish.

If you’re talking about the whole of Norden, it should include Iceland and Finland. Remember race car driver Kimi Raikkonen, who is a Finn and Icelandic singer Bjork, they’re from the Nordic countries. They have a single identity of a flag with a cross on it. Rotate the Latin cross to the left, now you get my point.

Scandinavia’s currency is the krone/krona, which means “crown.” Of course, it’s obvious that the Scandinavian peninsula is composed of three kingdoms, while the rest of Norden do not observe monarchy.

Fast facts:

Amongst the Nordic countries, only Finland uses the Euro currency.

Norway is the only non-EU member since it is the home of the Nobel Prize until the massacre ruined its reputation.

Capital/s: Norway (Oslo), Sweden (Stockholm), Denmark (Copenhagen), Finland (Helsinki) and Iceland (Reykjavik).

Their names in their native languages (and how they call their language/s based on their native tongue): Norge (Norsk, Bokmal), Sverige (Svenska), Danmark (Dansk), Suomi (Suomi), Island (Islenska).

Demonyms: Norwegian/s, Swede/s, Dane/s, Finn/s, Icelander/s.

Languages: Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Icelandic.

This region of Europe is so far the most peaceful and the most tolerant.

This region of Europe is so far the most expensive and it is the home of the most flagship medium-format DSLR’s. Phase One is Danish while Hasselblad is Swedish.

They share a common background at least. For instance, all these countries prefer English than French as second language and think about this: Finland also speaks Swedish while Iceland also makes Danish as a second language in education.

Slavic Europe (or Eastern Europe)


maria-sharapova.org|Masha’s the hottest athlete in the world. Take note!

Remember t.A.T.u., the Russian Europop duo that graced the small screen are Russians. Unlike other Russians who are tall, these babes are too short for a Russian, but yeah. But they’re still freaking hot!

This part of Europe, however, is more underrated than Scandinavia. It is the least talked-about region of Europe, where in fact, there are many pretty girls and handsome boys in this area. Greek people may consider themselves Western Europeans, but their looks are more Eastern European.

Eastern Europeans are known for their natural beauty. It is not only because it is not as rich as its Western counterpart, but they do not really need make-up or whatsoever abubot they need. They’re simple, actually. If Maria Sharapova is tanned and freckled because of being exposed to the sun, she still has the beauty of a Russian, that is.

I fell in love with the Slavic accent, because it really sounds so Russian that I could almost embrace the culture of Eastern Europe.

Examples of Slavic people: Regina Spektor, Origa, whoever’s the hottest… but I think President Medvedev is hot!

Japanese Dorama and their really cutest guys


tanakakei.livejournal.com|Kei Tanaka’s the hottest dude in Japan.

Japanese drama is never been heard in ABS-CBN (or TFC), but y’know what, what makes them classic IS this… the exaggerations done by actors seem to captivate the hearts of the audience, and when they wanna watch it again, it doesn’t really bore them at all. However, their most handsome guys (yes, and I mean naturally and genuinely handsome) are the most underrated. Look at Mocomichi Hayami and Kei Tanaka. Mocomichi is famous, but not as overexposed as Jun Matsumoto or anyone who are constantly appearing in several dramas and forums. Shun Oguri may have the looks, but he’s the only cutie exposed in Japanese dramas (like the English-language film Sukiyaki Western Django), for me. Kei Tanaka, however, has really pleased my standards and captivated everything in me… he’s cute, hot and a good actor, but he is the most underrated dude in Japanese showbiz. His start as an actor started when his mom bribed money etc. for him to become an actor and that’s it!

I loved watching Misaki Number One!! not only because of him, but y’know, I think Karina Nose and he make a good match. 🙂

Yes, I also have to admit that I download Japanese dramas because I love both Moco and Kei at the same time. I think Japanese dramas should be promoted in the Philippines to at least, show the strong bond between Japanese and Filipino relations. Oh, and I also think that Filipinos should appreciate Japanese things, etc.

I guess that would be all for now. 🙂

Germany for Beginners in UST! :D

The European Studies Association (ESA) is the organization of my degree program (AB International Studies, major in European studies, a.k.a. ISE) who organized the German for Beginners tour in the University of Santo Tomas.

Unfortunately, I really didn’t meet my expectations to see my schoolmates from high school who are studying here. To be honest, I only met one of them. ONE, ha. Sa laki pa naman ng USTe, imposible namang ma-hunting ko sila lahat (The wideness of the UST campus makes me impossible to “hunt down” all of them). But it was a good thing that my other blockmates and not to mention my classmates in German class really made my day. Oh, by the way our prof. in GERMAN2 will go back to us to be… our prof. again. Yes, it’s great news to all of us. He’s coming back!

Here are the photos that I’ve taken during the tour…


Luneta Park! 😀 This was before we stepped in Thomasian soil xD


The UST Main Building, I think? I bet, it’s a YES!


Notruf – A Phone stand for emergency calls. Sila na talaga.


Candid shot! I wonder what college/faculty these ladies come from @_@


Notice the guy on the left? Yes, it’s Piolo Pascual… the one that our prof. is always mentioning eveytime in German class. xD


IDK where this is xD haha. I’m really bad when it comes to these locations, really. LAWL xD


That’s me sitting! Pardon me for my unwanted dark skin xD hahaha!


The Arch of the Centuries – Fudge, pardon me for the perspective-correction fail! Dx


“Only God Knows The/Thy Weak” with Signum Fidei tattoo. Wow cool. @_@


The club tattoo @_@ cool! Parang pentelpen lang ang ginamit ah.

Sorry if most of them have crappy chromatic aberrations on it xD. I should’ve chosen EF lenses since most third-party lenses are prone to CA. xD Sorry once more!

I didn’t post those exhibit photos here is because… hmmm just CLICK HERE to see all the pictures. However, if it doesn’t work, just contact me on the e-mail I gave y’all! Haha, it’s really hassle to upload ALL these photos here since y’know, I use RAW and I can’t upload everything here in this blog. Don’t worry, I’ll really, really… gonna post good-quality photos when there’s another cool event to come.

Lessons learned from the exhibit…

Germans have their own culture which is of course, distinct. Just like any other culture, the German culture is the coolest, and so far they are really nice people. Oh, by the way, they have similarities with Japan, too! Their educational system is competitive and yes, they love the environment so much. They also have a distinct sense of humor which we do not actually know about. Germany is just like any other country with its own language having many dialects and of course, the accents. Sabi na nga ba, eh. They’re just like the English people who loves to play with words. Yes, if in Germany their compound words are strictly one word, that’s the German way. Another similarity with Japan is their quality products… I din’t know that Nivea is German. @_@

My most favorite part of the exhibit was… Tokio Hotel! Yep, the androgynous Bill Kaulitz is really a hip dude… or babe. They really have similarities with Leo Kliesen (Tekken’s androgynous kid).

Anything regarding UST…

That was my third visit. The first one was when I was taking the time-pressuring USTET (University of Sto. Tomas Entrance Test). Fortunately, I passed AB Journalism but… I just chose DLSU simply because, well… if anyone’s interested with the story, just say it and there’s nothing to worry about. The second time, however, was in UST Hospital with my dying godmother. Due to my stupidity, I didn’t talk to her during her last moments… I didn’t actually believed that it was the last good-bye from her. Sorry. </3

Yes, I was really curious about UST’s uniforms. Almost everyone who were my schoolmates in my high school are actually there. Most of them are in the Faculty of Arts and Letters, some in Architecture… or maybe somewhere I can’t recall. Anyway, I want to visit UST again together with my DSLR. It’s a cool campus with a cool environment.

That was a very good experience. Nothing. It’s really a damn good school, if y’know what I mean. It’s like a typical university, only a few times bigger than DLSU, that is. Hoping to hunt down for that owl soon… in UST, that is.

He’d say, “The nab is here in UST!? WTF!? Never!”