Three Non-Filipinos Who Lent their Names to Places in Manila

20170403_101037If you are traveling in the capital of the Philippines and now the world’s most densely-populated city, you may come across landmarks such as Taft Avenue and pay no heed to whom it is named after. Three hundred years of Spanish colonial rule brought Hispanicized surnames, words, and an alphabet that became part of the native tongue over time. Then those few centuries ended abruptly with an American occupation and government. Anglo-Saxon names and words have appeared all over the country but they have not integrated in the same way as their Spanish counterparts. Most American surnames still sound more alien than foreign to Filipino ears. Nevertheless, non-Hispanic figures in history have immortalized their legacy through some spots in the capital city of Manila named after them.

Ferdinand Blumentritt

For many, Ferdinand Blumetritt seems an obscure historical character. He did not rule a country, led in battle, or invent a piece of technology. Yet the Blumentritt Station of Manila’s Light Rail Transit (LRT) was named after him.

Jose Rizal, deemed as the national hero of the Philippines, had been a good friend with Ferdinand Blumentritt. The latter hailed from Prague in what is today’s Czech Republic, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Blumentritt studied about the Philippines extensively as a scholar while living in the town of Leitmeritz. When Rizal was traveling in Europe, he learned about an expert in his homeland who could also speak his mother tongue, Tagalog. The two met in 1887 and soon exchanged not only letters but also academic material after parting ways. Then the rest became history. Rizal wrote subversive literary works, got arrested, then met his fate through firing squad in 1896. This served as one of the factors of the Philippine War of Independence, which was followed by a military defeat in the Philippine-American War. Regardless, Blumentritt still supported the country’s bid for sovereignty and spent the rest of his life a scholar. He passed away in 1913, just one year before World War One that ended with the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Yet Blumentritt’s memory still lives on in the form of a light rail station in the country he adored much.

Henry Ware Lawton

Some buses going to Manila display placards written with ‘Lawton.’ The name stuck that most Filipinos have been unaware that what used to be Lawton Plaza is now officially called Liwasang Bonifacio. This place marks the location of the Manila Central Post Office and the gateway to Quiapo district, famous for its places of worship and stalls with affordable merchandise. In fact, Lawton is the last name of an American general during the time the Philippines lost its newly-won independence from Spain.

Henry Ware Lawton’s military career began during the American Civil War (1861-1865), when the United States stopped being ‘united’ with the secession of the Confederate States. He rose in rank progressively from private to captain. With the civil war over, his country turned towards westward expansion. This result in conflict with various Native American tribes, among them the Apache. Discontent with living in so-called reservations, a small group of these people of the arid Southwest fought back under the leadership of Geronimo in 1885. He succeeded with raiding while evading capture. Lawton was among the US military forces tasked with tracking down Geronimo. Following pursuit through high mountains and canyons under scorching heat, Lawton’s party eventually forced Geronimo to surrender. The captain got promoted as years passed.

At the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, Lawton assumed command as a brigadier-general. He led US troops into Cuba. Lawton won at the Battle of El Caney, paving the way for the United States to win the war in just three months. Simultaneously, American troops also landed in the Philippines and achieved victory with the help of Filipino rebels. The Filipinos yearned for a country of their own but the Americans had other plans. Spain sold the archipelago in the Treaty of Paris. The Philippine-American War, where Lawton also saw action, broke out. During the Battle of San Mateo in rainy weather, he was issuing orders to soldiers before getting fatally shot. In a twist of irony, the Filipino sharpshooters were under the command of Licerio Geronimo, who shared the name with the Apache leader Lawton apprehended. With the nature of this conflict, no wonder Lawton Plaza got renamed for the almost first President of the Philippines.

William Howard Taft

Anyone visiting the city of Manila itself may find himself or herself at Taft Avenue. This place can be described as the capital city’s jugular vein. Government buildings, medical facilities, and universities line this notable road. It does not seem to slumber. Countless pedestrians make Taft Avenue even more alive. This place also shares the name of the currently southernmost station of the capital’s Metro Rail Transit (MRT) system. Arriving at the Taft Avenue Station is like going to the gateway into Metro Manila. “Taft” has sounded too familiar to Filipinos that most do not even know the person who lent the name.

William Howard Taft served as the 27th President of the United States of America. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1857, he took up law and practiced it throughout the rest of his life. His career progressed from being a humble lawyer to a state judge, then getting appointed as US Solicitor General in 1890. During the presidential term of William McKinley, Taft was assigned as Governor-General of the Philippines in 1901. War had been raging on but the American military already gained the upper hand against the Filipino revolutionaries. It was time to rebuild the Philippines. To begin with, Taft did not mistreat and abuse Filipinos with laws containing racial segregation. He saw them as more socially equal. Taft even encouraged the local populace to participate more with running the government. The Governor-General also enacted reforms in infrastructure, education, and agriculture. It was a two-year legacy that soon became largely forgotten. Yet Taft’s name lived on. He got elected in 1909 as President, serving his term until 1913. Later in 1921, Taft was Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court until he passed away nine years later. He also gained prominence as the heaviest US President in terms of weight so far.


A Brief Look into Philpan Resort

Philpan Resort does not have the sandy beach one would expect for a vacation in the Philippines. However, what attracts visitors to this place is its diving experience.

Situated in the municipality of Mabini, Batangas province, Philpan Resort can be reached around three hours of driving from the country’s capital Manila. It is found in the southwestern corner of Luzon Island. Just off the place of interest lies the body of water known as the Isla Verde Passage. Separating Luzon from the nearby island of Mindoro, this strait boasts a treasure of marine life. In fact, Isla Verde Passage has been renowned as the richest area in the world in terms of marine biodiversity. This means having the most number of sea life per specie, not having the most quantity. That is why it is called biodiversity. Fauna that can be found here include starfish, clams, eels, and even sea turtles, along with a huge variety of tropical fish.

DSCN0528A downward sloping lane from the main road leads visitors to Philpan Resort. At the end lay a parking area. Beyond it lay a rocky beach and the azure sea. The entrance fee amounts to 100 Philippine pesos (Php). Visitors can also rent a cottage, which consists of a roof, table, and benches, for Php 500. The price climbs to Php 1,000 if visitors want to stay the night in that cottage. Reserving a feel-at-home room for an overnight stay costs at least Php 2,000 for two people. As for Philpan Resort’s main attraction, diving can be enjoyed for a price of Php 2,500. Divers can also visit farther spots by motorboat but the rate also goes higher. From the resort, tourists can also head to other places such as Carmico Beach and Sombrero Island by boat with their respective fees. Simply talk to boat operators and resort staff about pricing. Philpan Resort also has a Facebook® page for inquiries. Prospective visitors may look into blogs or ask friends who have been to the tourist attraction.

Yes, Philpan Resort has rocks instead of sand but the clearness of its water quality amazes visitors in fair weather conditions. At the shallows, one can see rocks of all shapes and sizes. When dipping, moving around can be described as more of trudging than walking due to the uneven surface. Still, some prefer it to have their feet sink in sand. A mini pier resists the waves and all the beating from the volatile sea. A roofed raft made of bamboo floats nearby, dangling steadfastly from the pier through a durable rope. Swimmers climb and cling to the raft for relaxation, chatter, and respite from the noontime sun.

The seabed off the resort plunges dramatically, explaining why the place has become a diving spot. Fish and other marine life seek the deep water and the flow of nutrients. Prey in turn sustain the predators. Eels, perhaps even the dreaded moray eel, hide in the cracks on the underwater rock formations. Shellfish filter food from the water as they sit idle. Schools of colorful fish add life to a seemingly dull blue world. A lucky snorkeler or diver may even spot a swordfish or a sea turtle.

DSCN0533Philpan Resort also features amazingly clean shower rooms and restrooms. The cemented walls, tiles, and well-maintained plumbing make one feel as if relieving oneself or taking a bath in his or her very own home. Visitors can use these for free once they have paid the entrance fee.


Most visitors to this resort in Batangas also have hiked or will hike the nearby Mt Gulugod Baboy. This mountain offers relatively easy trekking without the steep slopes and choked trails.

Five Traits that Make a Filipino

Nationalities across the world can be distinguished by their peculiar characteristics and Filipinos are no exception. Try traveling in the Philippines and you will notice these five traits among the locals.

1. Smiling a Lot

Known as the ‘City of Smiles,’ Bacolod city in the island of Negros hosts the Masskara festival every October. Revelers, concealing their faces with plumed masks that come with a smile, parade and dance on the streets in an occasion reminiscent of Mardi Gras. Yet Filipinos tend to display this positive gesture not only during this event but also every day, and across the archipelago too. As a foreign tourist, you can see it among airport staff, hotel recipients, salespeople, and even peddlers on the street when they greet you. Try smiling at a Filipino and he or she will smile back. This trait can be traced to the country’s warm air temperatures. After all, climate influences the behavior and mood of people.

2. Conversations Filled with Jokes and Laughter

If you always take things too seriously, you will have a setback when chatting with Filipinos. They insert jokes in conversations to make them lively and interesting. As a result, this comes with a series of laughing. You will experience it during a get-together, dinner, or outdoor activity. Even solemn discussions can involve chuckling due to a random humorous remark. Filipinos are resilient despite the typhoons, floods, earthquakes, and the occasional volcanic eruptions because they can keep on laughing even in the face of disaster. Sometimes, a person utters a joke that may sound offensive but he or she actually does not mean it. Understand why it is funny, never mind the deeper meaning (because there might not be any), and have a laugh.

3. Not Being Straightforward

Usually, a Filipino will rather keep quiet and have you confused than speak frankly and cause a verbal argument. The people of the Philippines stick to their gentle nature by trying to avoid conflict as much as possible. When feeling upset with a person, they tend not to disclose it to him or her. Rather, Filipinos often reply with indirect answers and vague statements when asked if they have a problem with you. Sometimes, they may say “no” plainly but their facial expressions mean the opposite. A Filipino will also refrain from being straightforward to avoid hurting your feelings. Yet you might wish that person will tell you right away that he or she does not like your presence, a chat you are initiating, or perhaps a favor you are offering.

4. A Bit of Leftover Food after Dining at a Gathering or Party

pm-teamWhen in the Philippines, attend a party or a simple dinner with acquaintances and you might see a bit of excess food on platters in the end. It does not mean Filipinos are wasteful. They are considerate of fellows when dining together, making sure everyone can taste each food item in a banquet, for instance. As being punctual is not common in the Philippines, those who come late can still have something to eat.

5. Use of the Words “Po” and “Opo”

Respect correlates with age, according to the Filipino mindset. It also involves a way to express it specifically. When traveling in the Philippines, you may notice that younger folks talk to you in English but say “po” and “opo” from time to time. They simply recognize your seniority. Amazingly, these two words cannot be translated directly into another language. “Po” and “opo” can be heard the most in Tagalog-speaking provinces such as Bulacan and Laguna. People do use them in places in the Philippines where another language is prominent but only sparingly.

Three Don’ts in Wilderness Survival that may Save Your Life

20161015_072014Getting lost in the wilderness even for just one day can mean the difference between life and death. You might succumb to heat stroke, hypothermia, a fatal concussion from falling, drowning in a raging river, among others. Despite the immense challenge, you can still make it out alive with determination and especially knowledge. The key to survival sometimes lies in what to avoid.

1. Don’t Eat Berries and Mushrooms You Find in the Wild

Berries growing on bushes and mushrooms lying on the ground seem readily available snacks for alleviating hunger. Yet these can make you sick or even become your last meal. As a general rule, toxic mushrooms have bright colors to warn animals- or people – not to eat them. There are exceptions though, such as some from the genus Amanita that look innocent but deadly when consumed. Among berries, those of the holly shrub look luscious but eating them will result in nausea and diarrhea. Edible fruits and fungi do grow in the wild. However, it pays to steer clear and be safe.

What to do:

Hunting is more difficult than foraging but it does not come with the risk of ingesting toxin from plants and mushrooms. You may catch birds, small mammals, and even non-venomous reptiles and then prepare them as food to survive. Keep in mind that taking down bigger animals like deer require hunting implements or even ingenious traps. Additionally, you may consume birds’ eggs if a nest is found. If you come across a body of water, fishing guarantees a rather plentiful source of food.

2. Don’t Drink Water When You See It 

Dehydration presents a more urgent problem than starvation. The human body lasts longer without food than without water. Yet drinking water does not always come in plenty when you get lost in the wilderness. Lakes and rivers may be brown or gray with sediment, especially after rain. No matter how clear a pool looks, it still has microbes that can give you gastro-intestinal illness. Simply refrain from rushing towards water and drinking from it even if you are severely thirsty.

What to do:

Get a drink from bodies of water that flow, such as streams and brooks, instead of those that are still, such as lakes and ponds. Ensure your health by boiling the water too. Iodine tablets and portable water-purifying devices also do the job.

3. Don’t Enter a Cave Hastily

If you get caught under harsh weather, such as during a rainstorm or a blizzard, a cave offers excellent shelter from the elements. You can also spend the night there. Finding a cave eliminates the need to build a lean-to from branches, leaves, and even a large piece of water-repellent material in case you do not have a tent. Yet bears, big cats, and similar predatory animals also call caves their home. The last thing you want to happen is to get clawed, bitten, or worse. On the other hand, you might encounter venomous snakes.

What to do:

Before you approach a cave, listen for rustling noises or snoring inside it. Otherwise, you step back for a considerable distance before yelling at the entrance. Throwing a rock into the cave works better. If minutes pass and nothing happens, the cave is likely unoccupied. Be wary of a deep cave network. Venturing into it presents unknown risks. As further advice, always travel with a flashlight or a similar device. You may want to learn how to make a fire too.

Hugotero Chronicles: How to Move On

“I remember I loved you but I don’t feel it anymore.”

-Silas (Nicholas Hoult) in the 2015 movie Equals

There’s only one way to head to after a breakup or unrequited love – forward. However, moving on is often easier said than done. You still hold on to memories, especially if the person deserves your true love. You also vividly remember his or her face, manner of dressing, talents, the things he or she dislikes, and other peculiarities. Your mind may also fantasize spending time with that person on a daily basis. Even when traveling, you utter indirect reference about the failed attempts to be in a relationship. This is known in the Philippines as a hugot.

Make the most out of your life and believe in a brighter future through these tips for moving on.

Accept What Has Happened

Stepping into the next chapter of life can be impossible without acceptance. Just face the fact that you can’t be with the person you love. Perhaps he or she can’t feel the same way. The reality may be frustrating, even painful, but facing it is better than living fruitlessly in a make-believe world. The situation is out of our control anymore.

Don’t Blame Yourself

You might wonder what did you do wrong, resulting in a relationship breaking down or being not achieved in the first place. Even your own looks, habits, or hobbies could take the blame. Don’t do it. If the other person doesn’t love you for who you are, it’s not a relationship worth seeking. Furthermore, what has already happened cannot be undone. You can forgive the other person and, more importantly, yourself. Then find some peace. Boost your self-esteem too by enhancing your skills and talents.

Be Preoccupied With Your Hobbies and Interests

Get that unrequited love out of your mind by replacing it with a focus on activities you enjoy. Have some time to unwind by watching movies or doing sports. Explore your potential for creativity by sketching, writing poetry, or even video editing. Try activities that you find interesting and have not done before. Do the things that keep you going. For instance, I feel a sense of accomplishment when writing posts for this blog. Travel has become my passion too. It gives me happiness from going to new places and learning more from individuals I come across in journeys.

Go Out There and Meet More People

While making the most out of life through hobbies and interests, the next step for moving on is to share them with others. Increase your presence in the public by attending workshops, community events, conventions, and outdoor excursions. Even a task a simple as buying groceries or applying for documents would do. You’ll meet and befriend a variety of people along the way. Perhaps you may even find your potential significant other among them.

Don’t Let Rain Spoil Your Day for Hiking


You may have undergone this scenario before as a hiker. It is sunny and breezy at the same time, giving you the perfect weather for an outdoor adventure. Then the surroundings become dim and a blanket of clouds conceals the sky. Moments later, it rains as if all the water in springs, rivers, and lakes evaporated and then poured on your head as droplets. Such drastic change in the weather can easily upset your mood. On the bright side, getting wet is still preferable to dealing with stomachache or sustaining a fracture. Yet you have to move cautiously as the trail is likely to be slippery, even perilous, during heavy rain.

Unless people have the technology to fully control the weather, all that you can do when it rains during a nature walk is to deal with it. Stay as dry as possible and remain safe in your hike through readiness, wit, and carefulness.

Stay Tuned to Weather Forecasts

Catch the weather portion of the television news a few days before the excursion. If your destination is in another country, watch the world news or check out meteorological forecasts on their government websites. One day before the hike, be sure to contact your acquaintances or (especially) guides in that area and ask whether it rained today and if there is a huge probability it will happen again tomorrow.

Learn More About the Trail

When making a call to people who reside near the location of your hike, remember to confirm the difficulty of the trail. Ask them how rough the paths are and how slippery they get when it is raining. Have a clear idea of how deep the streams or rivers you are going to cross. These bodies of water overflow with a raging current during a downpour. Also find out if there are landslide-prone spots along the trail. The more you know about the hiking destination, the better you can guarantee safety and comfort.

Gear Up for Rainy Weather

Don’t forget the rain poncho as you pack up stuff for the trek. This waterproof garment of synthetic material can be bought at outdoor, retail, and hardware stores. You may also improvise with a large trash bag. Cut slits to let your hands out and make a hole for your head. Most outdoor backpacks come with an attached rain cover to keep your things dry. If there is none, you can get a separate cover from an outdoor gear shop. As an alternative, wrap those same trash bags around your backpack. You may cut pieces and tie them together. It takes some ingenuity to make this work. Despite being commonplace, the trusty umbrella is not recommended out on the trail. You need both hands to grasp surfaces well and avoid mishaps.

Watch Your Step

It starts to rain in the middle of your hike and the way ahead becomes muddy and slippery. Be very careful as missing a step might result in injury and a slower pace. Don’t place your foot on moss-covered rocks. Avoid wet mud as well. Stick to the driest spots on the trail. Branches and trunks serve as natural handrails and help you stay on the move. Furthermore, be prepared for changes in the route as fast-flowing rivers or even landslides block your path.

Cheer Up

You can’t do anything to stop the rain. However, you can cease from sulking and turn that frown into a smile. When hiking as a group, have an amusing and humorous chat. Cheer each other up at moments of difficulty. Wet weather should not dampen the mood too. After all, you are out there to be enthralled with nature and rain is also part of its beauty.

Tips on Saving Money for Travel



Traveling gives us opportunities to see new places, meet more people, and enjoy moments in life but it is still limited by how much is inside your wallet and bank account. To sum it up: the higher your earnings, the more frequent you can travel. Yet you do not have to be a millionaire to feel all the perks that come from going places. Here are some tips on having enough cash for the round trip and everything in between:

Stick to Basic Needs

Let go of those newest models of mobile phone, trendy clothes, and expensive dinners for a while if you are an avid traveler. You have to prioritize bills, taxes, and spending on things that keep you alive on a daily basis. As an example, only buy a new set of clothing every six months instead of every month. Spend your hard-earned cash more on food and beverages. Gym fees can be considered as a basic need for travelers, especially if you engage in outdoor activities that warrant physical fitness such as cross-country cycling or mountain climbing.

Be Mindful of the Price 

When you go shopping at the grocery, compare the pricing of various brands of a particular product. Let us say you are scanning the aisles to choose which brand of pasta, potato chip, butter, soap, and toilet paper to buy. Prices are shown on labels. Simply prefer brands that are more affordable. If quality is in your mind, you may choose brands with a slightly higher price. Just avoid those premium items and save your money on travel instead.

Plan Your Itinerary with Care (and Some Luck)

Do not rush with your travel itinerary, especially when going as a group. Look for the most affordable accommodation and means of transportation among your options. If other travelers are likely to consider your choices and perhaps even affect your trip, be ready with a Plan B or more. When you and your travel buddies really intend to minimize costs, also go for less pricey venues such as restaurants and shops. Sometimes, affordable travel boils down to sheer luck in arranging your itinerary. For instance, other travelers have opted out of reservations in the hotel that does not place a burden on your budget.