Category Archives: Travel


Photo credit: AFP
Photo credit: AFP

Manila, Philippines – Amid protests from local officials and sharp criticism from international humanitarian agencies, Philippine President NoyNoy Aquino declared coastal areas in Haiyan (Yolanda) typhoon-ravaged towns and cities as ‘zombie zones.’

The presidential directive prohibits construction or reconstruction of houses along the coastlines of Leyte, Samar, Aklan, Cebu, Iloilo, Capiz and other areas affected by the most powerful typhoon ever to hit landfall. Under this new policy, no-build zones (NBZs) will be set up 4o meters from the high-water mark to the coastline. It is estimated that over 100,000 families will be dislocated as a result of the new policy.

The only exception to the rule would be high-rise hotels, condominiums and resorts.

Initially, the new policy was met with much anger by the typhoon victims who refused to leave the coastal areas which have been their home for many generations. But Aquino directed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Tourism and the Malacañang Press Office to re-brand the new policy. That’s when they came up with ‘zombie zones’ to replace ‘no-build zones.’

The Aquino administration capitalized on the Filipinos’ fear of ghosts and propensity to believe in superstition to pacify the angry masses. Apparently, it worked.

The government is now looking for relocation areas for the dislocated families at least 15 miles away from the coastlines, where they would be off limits to zombies.



imageManila, Philippines – Agness Walewinder and her male friend are tourists who travel the world on a food budget of $25 a day.  The Polish pair maintains an Internet blog in which they write about their experiences in the countries they have visited.

On March 17, Agness wrote about their trip in the Philippines and titled her piece, “I Would Rather Go Hungry Than Eat Filipino Food Again.” She has  since then added “Street” to the title after receiving angry emails from Filipinos.

Agness’ piece deplored the kind of Filipino street food they were served while traveling the country. She said that their pre-travel research got them all excited about Filipino cuisine like lechon, adobo, kare-kare and even balut. They got none of those, perhaps because they were looking in the wrong places. Agness posted photos of the kinds of food they were served, many of which not even Filipinos would recognize.

Many Filipinos found the piece highly offensive and flodded the pair’s website, with irate comments. Some even invited the two back to the Philippines and offered to cook for them.

A group of Pinoys (slang for Filipino) went even further by putting together a balikbayan box to be shipped to the pair’s home in Poland.  The box was stuffed with a whole lechon (roasted pig), a huge tray of kare-kare (meat and vegetables in peanut sauce), a pot of freshly cooked chicken adobo (simmered in a mixture of soy sauce and vinegar) and a dozen balut (just Google it!). Since there was a little more room in the balikbayan box, the group even threw in a casserole of pinakbet (popular Ilocano dish of meat, seafood and vegetables cooked with shrimp paste).

Shipping of the box to Poland will take approximately 30-45 days.

“By the time the cooked food arrives, then Agness will truly experience street food ” the group said.


Micronesian_Cultural_AreaThe Hague, Netherlands – The Philippine government has filed a formal petition with the United Nations, laying territorial claim to the countries in Polynesia.  The petition was submitted by the Philippines’ permanent representative to the U.N. Libran Cabactulan to the International Court of Justice located at The Hague in the Netherlands.

The petition came after the National Geographic published the results of a new research study on ancient chicken DNA which led to the conclusion that the Philippines could actually be the ancestral home of the Polynesians.

The researchers found that Polynesian chickens had their roots in the Philippines, making that region a candidate for the homeland of the mysterious Lapita people thought to be ancestral to Polynesians who transported the domesticated birds to the Pacific islands.

Ancient chicken DNA confirms Filipinos were the ancestors of Polynesians
Ancient chicken DNA confirms Filipinos were the ancestors of Polynesians

“We have identified genetic signatures of the original Polynesian chickens, and used these to track early movements and trading patterns across the Pacific,” said lead author Dr. Vicki Thomson of the Australian Center for Ancient DNA (ACAD). “We were also able to trace the origins of these lineages back into the Philippines, providing clues about the source of the original Polynesian chicken populations.”

Philippine President NoyNoy Aquino ecstatically briefed reporters about the petition, saying that the territorial claim could be the highlight of his presidency. He added that the Philippines will abandon its claim to the disputed Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea, which are also being claimed by China.

Aquino said he would rather pursue the claim to Polynesia because it would mean the Philippines’ expansion to larger territories like Hawaii, Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Zealand , and several other islands in the Pacific. “This would make the Philippines truly a world power,” Aquino said.