Bits and Snippets of the Philippines

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Posts Tagged ‘Australia

Globe Gives Away Free SIM Cards to All Foreign Tourists and OFWs

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Globe Telecom, in partnership with Tourism Promotions Board of the Philippines, announced today to give away free SIM cards to all foreign tourists and Overseas Contract Workers (OFW) visiting or coming back to the country, respectively. Starting tomorrow, July 30, 2015, Globe will start issuing the free SIM cards to incoming foreign tourists and OFWs through its booths inside the airports of NAIA, Cebu, Davao, Kalibo, Iloilo, and Clark. Tourists can present their non-Philippine passports or foreign resident cards, while OFWs can show their Seaman’s book or OFW E-card. This free SIM cards promo will end on December 31, 2015.

So, how many free SIM cards is that going to be? Roughly about 2.23 million!

The Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) is the marketing arm of the Philippine’s Department of Tourism (DOT). The board was tasked to promote the Philippines as the top tourist destination in Asia through its “Visit the Philippines Year 2015” tourism campaign, with a goal of garnering 5.5 million foreign tourists arriving in the Philippines. With this goal, it has partnered with Globe Telecom, the first telecommunications company it has done so, through the International Business Group of the telecom giant to offer various services to the millions of tourists visiting the Philippines, and for the OFWs returning home. The two entities conducted the formal contract signing at the Aracama in the Fort Strip of Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City this morning in front of a backdrop that said:

Staying Connected – More Fun in the Philippines.

Buffet lunch at Aracama was served with the main course being three kinds of lechon: Original lechon, Spanish lechon and Truffle lechon. Of course, I tried all three and concluded the Spanish style was the best tasting one. Kudos to Chef Fernando Aracama for this kind of gastronomic treat!

After lunch, Tracy Abad opened the event by describing who the two entities were and a description of the partnership that was about to happen. However, I was still curious if what they were going to announce was a smartphone app, a website or something else. Tracy Abad is currently the morning show host for Mellow 94.7, a Philippine FM radio station. She was the TV show host with the now-discontinued QTV of GMA Network.

Opening remarks were delivered by the representing officers of both entities. First on the stage was the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of TPB Domingo Ramon Enerio III who gave a synapse of inbound tourism in the country.

Summarizing what he said, there were a total of 2.23 million tourists who arrived in the Philippines between January and May this year, an 8.15% leap compared to last year of the same period. The average stay of a tourist in the country is 10 nights and the average tourist spends more than $100 a day. That’s a whooping 93.9 billion Pesos in tourism earnings for the first five months of 2015.

I did some Google-ing (is there such a word?) and found out that between 1991 and 2015, the highest recorded foreign arrivals in the country was December last year at 487,654 tourists while the lowest recorded foreign arrivals was February of 1991 at 63,628. Also during the event, Enerio enumerated the top 10 countries for incoming foreign tourists come from, mainly:

  1. Korea
  2. USA
  3. Japan
  4. China
  5. Australia
  6. Singapore
  7. Canada
  8. Taiwan
  9. UK
  10. Malaysia

But another Google-ing led me to tourism.gov.ph and the top spending markets based on visitor earnings were not the same. The top three countries in the government website was the same but the 4th highest was listed as Australia, not China which was in 5th place. Then, it was more different for the 6th to 9th place, namely: (6) Canada, (7) UK, (8) Singapore, and (9) Spain. Taiwan was missing from the website’s top 10 list. Okay, maybe I’m reading the stats on the website differently.

After Enerio, the Senior Vice President for International Business of Globe Telecom Rizza Maniego-Eala entered the stage and spoke of the need to help the promotions board hit their 5.5 million tourist target, and Globe’s role to do so. This is when she announced their intent to give away free SIM cards to every incoming foreign tourist and OFW – the first campaign in a series of more campaigns to come.

Called the Globe Traveler SIM, it is a local prepaid SIM card that offers the same services as every prepaid customer of Globe enjoys – local rates for calls, text messaging, and mobile internet services, giving foreign tourists and OFWs a more cost-efficient way to communicate and connect rather than using an international number which charges expensive roaming rates for calling, text messaging and internet browsing while in the Philippines. For example, they can use the Globe Traveler SIM and call the U.S. for as low as $0.40 per minute. That’s low compared to high roaming charges – for example, AT&T would bill an American $2.50 per minute to call from the Philippines to anywhere in the world, including home country USA.

Eala adds, “We are happy to be the first telco partner of the Tourism Promotions Board in their thrust to make the Philippines the ultimate destination hub for tourists worldwide. Offering free SIMs is our way of helping travelers further enjoy their stay by enabling easy, affordable and hassle-free communications.”

A question-and-answer portion followed for people in media and guests to ask for more information about the partnership. Then, a table was set where both Enerio and Eala sat down to formally sign the partnership contracts while everyone witnessed, video-taped and snapped photos of the moment.

For more information on the FREE Globe Traveler SIM, please visit the Globe Traveler SIM website. For jetsetters, backpackers, and thrill-seekers, Visit the Philippines Year 2015 provides a year-round calendar guide for all adventures, whether it be food trips, walking tours, or festivals. For information on activities and events, please log on to www.visitph2015.com.

Sources and references of text: Globe Press Release | tourism.gov.ph | AT&T

Photos and images: Globe Press Release | tourism.gov.ph | @raffypekson #capturebyKata

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Written by Raffy Pekson II

July 29, 2015 at 4:17 pm

Posted in Government & Politics, ICT, Travel & Tourism

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Did You Know That Globe Has a Flat Rate for Unlimited Data Roaming Service for Prepaid Customers

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Globe Telecom has been offering its flat rate for unlimited data roaming service of P599 per day to its prepaid customers, providing over 97% of its total mobile customer base uninterrupted access to the internet in over 50 countries worldwide—over 4 times bigger than the footprint of competition.

With Globe Prepaid Roam Surf, prepaid customers can access the internet abroad for an entire 24-hour cycle, making their data connectivity experience more seamless and worry-free.

Prepaid customers traveling to Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia, Mexico, Nauru, Netherlands, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, UAW, Uganda, United Kingdom, and USA can avail of Globe Prepaid Roam Surf.

Roam Surf for Globe Prepaid offers customers the ability to choose from three variants,

  • P599 for 24 hours
  • P1797 for 3 full days
  • P2995 for 5 full days

Customers can dial *143# and access the International and Roaming menu to register to the service without having to memorize registration keywords.

In 2014, Globe launched the flat rate for unlimited data roaming service of P599 per day to its postpaid customers, paving the way for a boost in its data roaming business with its customer base growing by two-fold as a result of strong take-up of the service and the increasing appetite for data connectivity while abroad.

Source of text from globe.com.ph.

Photo from globe.com.ph.

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Carmelo’s Wagyu Steaks – Best Wagyu In Makati

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When people hear the word “Wagyu,” they often assume it is meat that only comes from Japan. That’s partly true. However, Wagyu beef can also come from almost anywhere else in the world. It is therefore a Japanese term – guess what! It literally means “Japanese cow!” – that refers to several breeds of cattle where the meat is known for its quality and demands a higher price. Some examples of Wagyu beef are Kobe, Mishima, Matsusaka, Ōmi, and Sanda beef. Besides Japan, the United States, Canada and Australia all breed Wagyu cattle, the latter being the largest outside Japan.

Breeding Wagyu cattle involves different techniques such as massaging, adding beer or sake to the cattle’s feed regimen. In Australia, they add red wine. The cattle’s genetic predisposition yields beef that contains a higher percentage of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and the increased marbling also increases the ratio of monounsaturated fats to saturated fats.

Which brings us to a place in Greenbelt 5 where Wagyu beef is prized like the Hope Diamond. The place is Carmelo’s Wagyu Steaks, tucked along the row of restaurants fronting the garden area of the five Greenbelt malls. Carmelo’s Wagyu Steaks isn’t your typical new kid on the block. It has been around serving the best Certified Angus Beef since 1988. Yep! Carmelo’s Wagyu Steaks is an offspring of Melo’s restaurant, the Philippines’ undisputed authority on anything and everything about steaks. The founder of Melo’s is Carmelo “Melo” Santiago who has garnered the title “the guru of steaks” in the country. Besides the numerous Melo’s steak houses that propped up around the metropolis, he ventured into his first Wagyu steak house called “House of Wagyu Stone Grill” which became an instant success.

But we go back to Carmelo’s Wagyu Steaks. Six months ago, it quietly opened without fanfare and has been giving its loyal cadre of Filipino steak connoisseurs the best Wagyu beef there is. The founder’s daughter, Chef Cristina Santiago-Rivera, brings a brand new dining experience by combining the best of Wagyu beef with exquisite appetizers, salads and other entrees together with its award-winning desserts from Sweet Bella Desserts.

I was wondering what the glass-encased contraption was the al dente area when I realized they were oysters frozen to a cold temperature at upright positions. I already guessed we were having oysters and that made me smile. True enough. We had a good serving of fresh oysters and Rockefeller style.

We were also served two other appetizers. This one is the stuffed Portobello mushrooms with crab and shrimp stuffed with Parmesan cheese. Loving Portobello mushrooms by itself or mixed with pasta or entrees, this was a delight for our meal.

The other appetizer was the Foie Gras with caramelized apple in red wine with berry sauce. Oh, Foie Gras. It’s now a Filipino favorite while the American style of banning to serve it hasn’t reached our shores yet. Hopefully not.

I kept standing up and sitting down while the initial delicacies were being served when I wandered by the bar. Hey! Red wine! And so, we had red wine though I forgot what was served to us that day. Chilean? Australian? In any case, it was a good start for our late lunch.

And then, Cristina mentioned a drink that seems to be a favorite of their loyal customers, a name so familiar because I had actually lived beside the place where that drink was born: Caipirinha! Brazil’s national cocktail that’s made with cachaca (sugar cane hard liquor), sugar and lime. However, Cristina insisted we be served a better one – Caipiroska. Instead of cachaca, it is mixed with Vodka. Ole! Ole! Ole!

The Cesar salad wasn’t bad either. Not something exotic but salads before steaks is always a good start.

And we also had soup – Seafood Chowder.

Now came the steaks. At Carmelo’s Wagyu Steaks, everything will be served medium rare unless you specify otherwise. Filipino culture and tradition has always been grilling every kind of meat and almost everything is well done. With high-grade steaks, you don’t do that. The flavour of the meat is best savoured when steak is prepared medium rare. We had three varieties of steaks, two of which were Wagyu steaks, and lamb chops.

But before anything else, I need to interject one more classroom information about Wagyu steaks, and that is they are all graded. In Japanese terms, the meat quality scores are determined in terms of beef marbling, meat color and brightness, firmness and texture of meat, color, luster and quality of fat. Hence, the Quality Grade numbers are as follows:

1 – Poor

2 – Below Average

3-4 – Average

5-7 – Good

8-12 – Excellent

Now, back to what Carmelo’s Wagyu Steaks served us.

Certified Angus Beef T-Bone steak priced at P6.50 per gram.

Classic grilled lamb chops served with Truffle mashed potatoes, vegetables and tri-berry sauce priced at P1,100.

Wagyu Striploin – Grade 9, 200 grams priced at P2,700.

Wagyu Tenderloin – Grade 10, 200 grams priced at P3,950.

That’s why I had to explain Wagyu beef quality grades to let you know that this isn’t your ordinary cattle beef raised at your backyard. There are metrics and qualifications, all objectively evaluated and graded before they are passed and stamped with the grade level. And that is why such kinds of steak do not come cheap.

But before anything else, there’s rice. What? A Filipino eating without rice? Impossible! This is probably one of the best kinds of rice I’ve tasted. Wagyu Rice is sticky rice cooked and mixed with pieces of Wagyu steak. It’s not in their menu so make sure you ask for it.

In any case, Cristina made sure we were served Sweet Bella’s award-winning desserts. There is actually a glass-encased (another one) dessert counter where you can choose which to savor after some heavy-hitting Wagyu steak eating. Unfortunately, I did not ask what each dessert was. Being a Sweet Bella fan since it opened at Burgos Circle in Bonifacio Global City, I didn’t have to feel like a newbie to their desserts. But we made sure we had coffee to go with our desserts.

The tandem of Chef Dino Dela Concepcion for the Hot Kitchen and Chef Cristina Rivera for its Pastries from Sweet Bella hits my palate of a very great fine dining experience. Carmelo’s Wagyu Steaks is truly the #BestWagyuInMakati if not the entire country. I’ve done Wagyu steaks and Wagyu burgers but the real McCoy has to be a medium rare, high grade level Wagyu steak.

Carmelo’s Wagyu Steaks restaurant is open Mondays through Sundays from lunch time till late dinner. All major credit cards are accepted. For reservations or more information, please call +63 (2) 625-5954 or +63 (2) 625-5986, or e-mail them via carmeloshomeofwagyu@yahoo.com. And while you’re at it, visit and “LIKE” their Facebook Page.

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And when you visit Carmelo’s, tell them you found them out through Miniphilippines.com. Who knows? They might just give you something extra. (*Wink!*)

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Photos by @raffypekson.

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How to Help Philippine Super Typhoon Victims

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It has been three days since Haiyan or Yolanda, the most powerful tropical cyclone or typhoon ever recorded, has brought death to thousands of Filipinos in Central Philippines, and millions more have been affected and displaced with destroyed homes. On top of this, chaos has emerged among the populace because of the lack of food, water and basic social services.

Now, the international call for help has loudly been broadcast by several international relief organizations to come to the aid of the predominantly Catholic country in Southeast Asia.

Here are several ways YOU CAN HELP through the various local and international organizations listed below. If there are any errors to the links, kindly report it to MiniPhilippines.com so the author and webmaster can fix the issue.

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IN THE PHILIPPINES

Philippine National Red Cross (www.redcross.org.ph)
Hotline: 143
Telephone: 527-0000

text RED<space><amount-in-Pesos> to
2899 (Globe)
4483 (Smart)

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)

Gawad Kalinga Operation Operation Walang Iwanan (Typhoon Yolanda)

ABS-CBN Sagip Kapamilya

Ayala Foundation’s Laging Handa Fund

ShelterBox

Caritas Filipinas Foundation

Victory – Every Nation

St. Scholastica’s College
Cash/check donations pay to “St. Scholastica’s College Manila”
BDO account number 4580-000-210
E-mail your transaction receipts to lizaban2@gmail.com for proper acknowledgment.

One La Salle Relief Drive (Yolanda)

Ateneo De Manila Disaster Response and Management Team

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INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

Check the credentials of any charitable organization

Canadian Red Cross

American Red Cross

British Red Cross

Australian Red Cross

U.N. World Food Programme
Text AID to 27722 to donate $10 in the USA

AmeriCares

The Salvation Army USA

United Arab Emirates
LBC in UAE accepts in-kind donations but not “used clothes” a problem with Philippine customs policies. LBC will accept blankets, shoes or slippers, canned goods, and toiletries. All boxes of goods should be addressed to the LBC Foundation that will send the goods to the Red Cross. Drop them at the Karama and Abu Dhabi offices of LBC in UAE. Read more at source.

Oxfam – United Kingdom

Care International – United Kingdom

Care Australia

Médecins Sans Frontières – Australia

World Vision – Australia

International Rescue Committee (IRC) – USA and Canada

Doctors Without Borders

International Medical Corps Emergency Response Fund

Save the Children

United Nations’ Childrens’ Fund (UNICEF) – Donate Now

United Nations’ Childrens’ Fund (UNICEF) – Australia

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) – Australia

Mercy Corps

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada – Government of Canada
Canada launches matching fund to help those impacted by Typhoon Haiyan

Habitat for Humanity
Plans to offer shelter repair kits for families who need to re-build their damaged houses.

Operation USA

National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) – USA

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee

Plan – UK
Plan is a global children’s charity.

Child Fund – Australia

Caritas – Australia

Christian Aid – Australia

Catholic Relief Services

Convoy of Hope

Samaritan’s Purse International Rellief

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Sources: USA Today | CBS News | In-a-gist Forum | NBC World News | SBS Australia | CNN International

photo by salingpusa at flickr.com

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Study Shows Philippine Paper Money Lowest in Toxic Chemical

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Philippine paper money bills

The Philippines is in the top three countries where its paper money or bills have the lowest toxic chemical called bisphenol A (BPA). This was reported in an article published at the U.S. News Health.

According to the report, “BPA is used to make some plastics and consumer products such as water bottles, household electronics and sports equipment. Research suggests that BPA is an endocrine disruptor, which means that it acts like the hormone estrogen, and may be linked to a number of health problems.”

“Researchers analyzed 156 pieces of paper money from 21 countries and found that all of the bills contained traces of BPA. Paper money from Brazil, the Czech Republic and Australia had the highest BPA levels, while bills from the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam had the lowest levels. U.S. notes had average levels, the study authors said in a news release from the American Chemical Society.”

Read more of the article at U.S. News Health

Photo by SuperDooperDapper at Flickr.com

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Miss Philippines Tops Online Votes in Miss Universe 2010

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Preliminary judges have already selected the Top 15 candidates for the 2010 Miss Universe beauty contest now being held in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. The 83 contestants were ranked based on evening gown and swimsuit, during a two-hour presentation at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Early favorites who got the loudest cheers from the audience were the candidates from Philippines, Haiti, Canada, Australia, USA, Mexico, and Puerto Rico.

Miss Philippines Maria Venus Raj tops the online votes.

Go to AllVoices to read more.

Photo from annalyn at Flickr

Filipino Mass at Sydney (Australia) Church Every First Sunday

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Photo by Santuario de Santa Philomena - MANILA at Flickr.com

St Peter Julian’s Church is a eucharistic shrine in the pastoral care of the Blessed Sacrament Congregation in the heart of Sydney’s Chinatown at 641 George Street, Haymarket.

The church is named after the Congregation’s founder St Peter Julian Eymard, who was canonised in 1962.

A Filipino mass is held at 1:00pm every first Sunday of each month.

Source: St. Peter Julian’s Church Website.

Written by Raffy Pekson II

April 4, 2010 at 7:49 am