Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Travel and Culture’ Category

Read Full Post »

Today I leave for Thailand.  I’ll be spending the weekend in Bangkok, four days in Koh Penang, one night in Chiang Mai, and four days in Pai before returning to Bangkok for four more days.  On April 4th I fly to Rangoon in Myanmar for a ten-day trek through the kingdom.  I will be updating the blog whenever I get a chance.

Read Full Post »

“If you ask me to name the proudest distinction of Americans, I would choose- because it contains all the others- the fact that they were the people who created the phrase to make money. No other language or nation had ever used these words before; men had always thought of wealth as a static quantity- to be seized, begged, inherited, shared, looted or obtained as a favor. Americans were the first to understand that wealth has to be created.” – Ayn Rand

Wine on the beach tastes better when it's stolen.

I read this week that the victims of supervillains Bernie Madoff and R. Allen Stanford have joined forces to lobby congress to compensate them for their losses.  There are few people I have less sympathy for than the wealthy victims of a Ponzi scheme.  These are not people whose homes were destroyed in a flood.  They are not women whose husbands have died unexpectedly, leaving them widowed and poor.  Rather, they willingly gave their money to a crook who duped them into believing he could do what anyone with a basic understanding of the stock market knows is a mathematical impossibility.  With consistent annual returns of 10-12%, why bother with a savings?  Whether or not they were greedy, they participated in something called the market.  And as sure as day becomes night, the market rises and falls.  The victims knew this.  When it all came tumbling down, I’m sure it was a tough pill to swallow. (more…)

Read Full Post »

One side benefit of coming to the Philippines has been that my music consumption has skyrocketed.  Here are the ten albums making the rounds lately:

1.  Percy Hill, “Color in Bloom”

(more…)

Read Full Post »

When I first arrived in country, I stayed at a hostel in Manila called Friendly’s Guesthouse.  There I met a British ex-pat living in Malaysia that has been on the road for the past twenty years.  He was at the end of a three-month trip through the Philippines, and he really hated the food here.  When we talked about the typhoon, Ondoy, that hit Manila last fall, he said the streets were so flooded that the government had difficulty getting food to the inhabitants up north.  “You’d think they’d be celebrating,” he said.

This is usually the first and, more often than not, the second and third impression of foreigners in the Philippines.  For one thing, the food in the Philippines is much less spicy and flavorful than its Southeast Asian counterparts.  Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, even Cambodia use a wider array of spices, giving to food a kick unlike anything you’d really find here in the Philippines.  But the reality is that food in the Philippines is delicious, if you know what to order. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Check out my latest photos from Bantayan Island, Cebu City, and Boracay.

Budyong Beach, our resort.

Learning to juggle. I'm a natural.

Distributing knowledge...

Read Full Post »

The ubiquitous "Principles of Dungganon" sign.

This weekend I went to Cebu, an island east of Negros, for the Kiva rollout in the NWTF branches.  I traveled as part of a five-person team, including Massah, the photography consultant, Raymond, the research manager, Jubert, the IT manager, and Presy, the Kiva coordinator.  Pocholo, a friend of Raymond’s, needed a lift to Cebu and caught a ride with us.  The six of us loaded the infamous red van and left at 7 AM on Thursday morning.  The road to the port in San Carlos normally takes 3.5 hours, but we chose to take a shortcut through the mountains on a winding two-lane road cut neatly into the side of a cliff.  Unfortunately, by the time we arrived at the port, the ferry was full.  The next ferry didn’t leave until 2:30 in the afternoon, so we drove three hours south along a coastal road to another port in Aclan, where the ferry leaves every hour and takes 30 minutes to cross.  Once on the other side, we had another three-hour trip back up north.  Twelve hours later, we arrived in Cebu City and checked into a hotel.

Our route, highlighted by the black arrows

(more…)

Read Full Post »

The suits over at Yahoo have informed me that I’ve reached my 200-photo limit on my Flickr account.   For unlimited storage space, the capitalists are asking for $24.95 per year.  In protest, I am moving all my pictures to Picasa, Google’s free photo uploader.  I will continue to upload new photos to Flickr, with the link displayed in the sidebar.  But for the full collection of photos, check the Picasa site, which also has a link on the sidebar.  Click on the photo below to reach the new site:

Also, don’t forget to sign up to have your daily dose of Microsteinance delivered direct to your email.

Read Full Post »

Capping off a marathon month of travel, I am spending the weekend in Cebu.  NWTF is rolling out Kiva in several of the Cebu branches and I am coming along to give a short presentation to the loan officers and branch manager on the history of Kiva, the mission, and how it works.  There will be five of us, including myself.  The Kiva coordinator, Presy, will discuss the process for getting the information for the borrower profile.  The MIS manager, Jubert, will talk about using the technology (FTP, or file transfer protocol) to send the data to headquarters.  Raymond, the assistant manager of the research department, will explain why NWTF chose to partner with Kiva – what value the Kiva brings and how NWTF benefits.  Lastly, Massah, a freelance consultant and graduate of UCLA film school, will give the loan officers a training on how to take photos and video.  It should be an interesting experience.

Read Full Post »

Last week, I spent two days in the town of La Castellana, visiting the NWTF branch here.  I went to speak with existing Kiva clients about their business to send an update to the lenders, and also interview new clients to post up on the site.  You can always tell the profiles and updates I’ve written because I try to employ the same literary techniques that make this blog so readable (or unreadable, depending on your perspective).  Of the six weeks I have been working here, I’ve spent two and a half in the field.  This is where I get to see microfinance implemented on the ground.  I get to see the how it is executed and talk to the loan officers and the clients – the people in the proverbial shit.  It is the part of the job I enjoy the most.

The day begins early.  I’m told I need to be ready to go by 5:45, so I set my alarm for 5:00.  At 5:30, I get a knock on the door.  It is Albert, one of the janitors, who is supposed to take me to the bus stop a kilometer away.  Fresh out of the shower, I asked for 5 minutes to gather my things before we left.  When we get to departure point for the van, the gate is closed.  Albert yells to the driver, who is sleeping in the rundown ticket office.  He rubs his eyes, gets up and walks over to the van (inside the gate).  He says something to Albert in Ilonggo, climbs into the backseat of the van and falls asleep on the seat.  “The van doesn’t leave until 6:15,” Albert tells me.  I told him to go ahead, and that I can wait on my own. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »