Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

Migration tragedy: 21 dead and hundreds missing as boat sinks in Mediterranean sea

April 1, 2009

In the cold waters off Libya, a frail fishing boat carrying about 250 aspiring migrants to Europe sank during stormy weather on Friday, March 27, 2009. At least 20 illegal aliens drowned and more than 200 hundred were reported missing. Mostly from Africa and Middle East, the victims were part of an undetermined number of illegal travelers who perish each year in their bid for a better life.

“Thousands of African, Asian and Middle Eastern migrants fleeing wars and poverty use Libya and other North African countries as a launching pads for the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean to southern Europe — often in rickety, overloaded boats. Another flimsy vessel with about 350 migrants was rescued about a day later in the same area where the fishing boat capsized.” AP (03/31/09, Fergany, AM; Santana, R)

Although 350 migrants in a second boat with no casualties were rescued and brought back to Tripoli, Jean-Philippe Chauzy of the International Organization of Migration (IOM) in Geneva, Switzerland said this sea mishap could be the biggest in terms of the number of dead and missing of a sea vessel leaving North Africa to Europe.

The cause of the sinking has not been known, but a Libyan police officer said the boat was overloaded, and bad weather could be a contributory factor. Some survivors however spoke of a hole that caused the boat to capsize.

The death of the migrants brings to light the growing problem of illegal immigration. In spite of efforts to curb unlawful movement of people in Europe, nationals from impoverished countries worldwide risk their lives in search for better economic opportunities.

Even those who travel with valid papers also face hardships and alienation in their search for jobs. A recent case is the humiliation and abuse by Chip Tsao, an arrogant HK journalist who disparagingly insulted overseas Filipinos whose country he referred to as “a nation of servants.” (Photo Credit: Holvic) =0=

RELATED BLOG: “New Immigration Laws Worry Illegal Aliens In Europe ” Posted by mesiamd at 6/22/2008

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Kazakhstan’s Caspian Seascape

March 8, 2009

by Pitoy Moreno

“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime? It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset?”

I may rarely see the flight of fireflies at dusk, the feel of warm air coming from a buffalo’s nostrils in the cold of winter, or the shadows that moves when nightfall sets in, but I can show you some breath-taking views of a place known for its taigas, flatlands, snow-capped mountains and picturesque seas.

For a time I thought I was the only Filipino living here in Kazakhstan, but diaspora made sure it wasn’t true. The saying that “in every nook of the earth, there is a Filipino” came real. As one among the few expatriates working in an enchanting place somewhere in Central Asia and Eastern Europe, I could say so.

About the size of Texas in the USA, Kazakhstan is nestled south of Russia. On its eastern border is China while Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan are located in the south. The Caspian Sea and part of Turkmenistan are in the west.

The territory is rich in mineral resources. From out of the 1,177 mi (1,894 km) of coastline of Caspian Sea, is a huge deposit of oil discovered in 2000, the largest ever found in the last 30 years. A fuel pipeline connects the Tengiz oil field of western Kazakhstan to the Novorossiysk, a Russian Black Sea port. Another pipeline brings oil to China.

From the beginnings of human history, it is in this country where the first horses have been first domesticated. From the tribes of the once nomadic Kazakhs and their neighbors has evolved the distillation of a cultures so diverse and interesting.

Sparsely populated through the ages, Kazakhstan has been part of the Soviet Union until its independence in December 16, 1991. In this beautiful locale are memorable awesome red sunsets, pristine blue skies, and numberless grains of sand on the seashore—among the most wonderful scenes I have seen. In addition, there is this buzz of industrial and cultural activity that spurs the country’s growth and hope for the 21st century. They make me remember our country, the Philippines. (Photo Credits: Pitoy Moreno,Xhancock; Anguskirk)=0=

Republic of Kazakhstan

National name: Qazaqstan Respublikasy
President: Nursultan A. Nazarbayev (1990)
Prime Minister: Karim Masimov (2007)
Land area: 1,049,150 sq mi (2,717,300 sq km); total area: 1,049,150 sq mi (2,717,300 sq km)
Population (2008 est.): 15,340,533 (growth rate: 0.3%); birth rate: 16.4/1000; infant mortality rate: 26.5/1000; life expectancy: 67.5; density per sq km: 5
Capital (2003 est.): Astana, 288,200 (formerly Aqmola; capital since 1997)
Largest cities: Almaty (former capital), 1,045,900; Karaganda, 404,600; Shymkent, 333,500; Taraz, 305,700; Pavlodar, 299,500; Ust-Kamenogorsk, 288,000; Aqtöbe, 234,400
Monetary unit: Tenge

Languages: Kazak (Qazaq, state language) 64%; Russian (official, used in everyday business) 95% (2001 est.)
Ethnicity/race: Kazak (Qazaq) 53.4%, Russian 30%, Ukrainian 3.7%, Uzbek 2.5%, German 2.4%, Tatar 1.4%, Uygur 1.4%, other 4.9% (1999)
Religions: Islam 47%, Russian Orthodox 44%, Protestant 2%, other 7%
National Holiday: Independence Day, December 16
Source: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107674.html

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Buhi-Malinao road ushers in more commerce for Bicol

February 27, 2009

Linking communication is the most obvious benefit of having a road between towns and villages. Alternative routes of trade and commerce are made easy. These are expected in the recent completion of the 35 kilometer road (about half of 66 kilometer highway) which connects the 2nd and 4th districts of Camarines Sur to that of 1st district of Albay.

Leading to the port area of Tabaco, Albay, the highway makes it easier to reach Catanduanes Island in Bicol. Travel from Manila will be shorter than before.

The new road starts from Hanawan Ocampo, Camarines Sur onwards to Barangay Burokbusoc and Sagrada in Buhi, Camarines Sur, reaching up to Malinao, Albay. It is heralded as an accomplishment by LV Castaneda of the Department of Public Highways, (DPH.)

But Buhinon Jesus Valenciano (in a letter to Bicol Mail’s editor,) writes to question the integrity of the road. He fears that the “all-weather road” in some sections need cementing or asphalting. He says, without good maintenance, this road can easily fall into disrepair. —-Bicol Mail (02/19/09; 02/26/09) (Photo Credit: http://www.freewebs.com/infocenterbuhi/) =0=

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US-Mexican drug bust yields 750 suspects, $59 million worth of drugs & weapons

February 26, 2009

Affirming the gravity of the drug wars in Mexico, federal agents from the United States have rounded up 750 suspected members of narcotics cartels from south of the border. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) picked up more than 50 drug gang members in separate overnight raids in California, Minnesota, Washington DC, and various US cities.

The arrests were mainly Sinaloa cartel members who were linked to the bloody drug wars over controls of narcotics smuggling routes in Mexico and USA. In a international law enforcement operation which spanned for about 2 years in Mexico, USA and Canada, had earlier snared 700 notorious law-breakers in the crime wave. $59 million worth of drugs and weapons, $12,000 kg. of cocaine, 1200 kg. of methampethamines, more than 1,300 ecstasy pills and 160 weapons were recovered.

“The department (US State) warns of the increased border violence and advises revelers to several destinations, including Matamoros and Nuevo Progresso, popular destinations for spring breakers on South Padre Island, Texas, to ‘exercise commonsense precautions such as visiting only the well-traveled business and tourism areas of border towns during daylight and early-evening hours.’“ —AOL News/ AP (02/25/09, Barrett, D)

Attorney General Eric Holder says the illegal narcotics trade, kidnappings, and murders have crossed over into the US territory. The problem can be minimized if the ban to sell assault weapons which are used in turf wars of drug kingpins is reinstituted.

About 6,000 people died in drug-related violence last year. American law enforcers laud Mexican president Felipe Calderon’s on-going campaign against narcotics cartels which exert influence over corrupt government officials.

Because of the dangers brought about by illegal drugs, money laundering, and narctics traffic, the US State Department has issued warnings of violence, kidnappings, and murders to prospective American travelers. This advisory is extended to an estimated 100,000 US students who’re planning to come to Mexico in the coming spring break. Private individuals have to take responsibility to counter the drug problems in their community. (Photo Credit: Aziritt) =0=

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“Osama Bin Laden” among the 11.000 job applicants for "the best job in the world"

February 9, 2009

Unemployment is common and rising worldwide. The recruitment to fill in the “best job in the world” drummed up by the Queensland Department of Tourism drew 11,000 applicants who expressed interest to be a promoter of Hamilton Island, a picturesque tourist spot destination in the eastern coast of Australia.

Among the earnest job seekers is a prankster named Osama Bin Laden (OBL) who submitted a video application at http://www.islandreefjob.com website showing the real bearded fugitive OBL in his night gown justifying his qualifications to be an island caretaker.

“One of the applications was a 30-second prank video showing the world’s most wanted man, with nonsensical sounds dubbed over his real voice. Using subtitles, bin Laden argues his case for the six-month contract, describing himself as “outgoing,” “familiar with sandy areas” and experienced with ‘large scale event coordination.’ “—Yahoo. News (02/05/09, Goldsmith B, Fahmy, M)

The tourism job which offers $150,000 for a six-month outdoor stint in an island with enchanting coral reefs and unspoiled beaches attracted unusually high number of eager applicants from 162 countries. The successful employment seeker will be chosen at the conclusion of the $17,000-tourism campaign which offers a rent-free, stress-free stay in a villa in Australia’s Hamilton Island. (Photo Credit: Nattus x 2) =0=

RELATED BLOGS: “Best job in some enchanted island: Is it for you?” Posted on Tuesday January 13th, 2009 by mesiamd; “‘Best Job in the World’ website crashes in a deluge of interested applicants” Posted on Wednesday January 14th, 2009 by mesiamd.

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Wicked Weather Count: 2,500 stranded in Bicol, 50 homes destroyed in Cebu, 16,000+ flood evacuees in Agusan del Sur

January 15, 2009

Barely 3 days after reports of floods in Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental, and Northern Samar left a trail of death and inundation, about 2,500 passengers were reported stranded in Bicol, mostly in Matnog, Sorsogon. The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) temporarily interrupted the people’s sea travel due to dangerous weather conditions sweeping the country.

In Cebu, huge waves and ensuing floods destroyed at least 50 homes in coastal villages. Mayor of Ginatilan town Dean Michael Singco said people in these places were forced to move to safer grounds. They were transiently housed in schools and public buildings, before dawn on Wednesday, January 14, 2009 to avoid injuries and loss of life.

In Davao de Norte, 9 fishermen were rescued in rough seas after their nine unregistered boats ventured to open waters. Similar wicked weather caused flooding in Agusan del Sur when Agusan river rose, forcing about 16,267 people from 2,546 families to evacuate in temporary shelters. The towns of San Francisco, Prosperidad, La Paz, Veruela, Bunawan and Esperanza.—GMATvNews (01/15/09, Pantaleon, A)

A motorboat bringing passengers close to Bantique, Panay in the Visayas Islands sank killing Sylvia Cerezo, 63. Five other passengers namely, Godofredo Roxas, Rowell Baaquilar, Nida Baquilar, Jocelyn Baquilar and Margarita Dizon were plucked out from sea and led to safety. The small boat had Butacal and Pontevedra, Capiz as its usual passenger route.

The spate of wicked weather and calamities remind us of the importance of disaster preparedness in the community. People need to be pro-active in helping themselves for the government assistance is too limited. Needing our commonsense decision, we can’t completely rely on others concerning safety during travel particularly when the weather isn’t good. (Photo Credits Gahenty; Lino Almueda) =0=

RELATED BLOGS: “Floods in Gingoog City, Northern Samar, and Misamis Oriental drive thousands to evacuate” Posted by mesiamd at 1/12/2009; “With 17, 000 islands, Indonesia shares maritime woes with the Philippines” Posted by mesiamd at 1/13/2009

"Best Job in the World” website crashes in a deluge of interested applicants

January 14, 2009

Several hours after the Australian Tourism Department of Queensland announced that a unique job in a Whitsunday Island is seeking a caretaker-promoter to be paid a juicy salary of $100,000, a deluge of applicants and prospective candidates rushed to http://www.islandreefjob.com. Part of its campaign to boost tourism, the website needs a reliable person to live a leisurely life in the enchanting reef-island of Hamilton—a low-stress and “carefree” nature experience in an Aussie seaside paradise that will be shared with a weekly blog, video or a press release.

The position caught the attention of thousands. The sought-after website crashed due to heavy stream of interested individuals worldwide wanting to know about the position whose relaxing duties include fish feeding, cleaning a pool and accepting mail deliveries.

It doesn’t require prior experience and commences on July 1, 2009. One can just imagine the work people prefer.—Yahoo.News/ Reuters (01/14/09, Fahmy, M; Yates, D)(Photo Credit: Miriam36) =0=

RELATED BLOG: “Best job in some enchanted island: Is it for you?” Posted by mesiamd at 1/13/2009

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Best job in some enchanted island: Is it for you?

January 13, 2009

Australia is offering a unique six-months job for a caretaker-promoter of a pristine island. Dubbed as the “best job in the world,” it is offered by the Australian Tourism Department to boost its travel industry in Hamilton Island, part of an eastern continental group of islands called Whitsunday Islands in the coast of Queensland.

The job which pays $100,000 salary ($150, 000 Aus dollars) demands for a nature- loving outdoor person who enjoys taking leisurely walks on white beaches, swim and snorkel on the reefs. He must be able to blog and make videos of his experience on a weekly basis made available to promote the place for tourism. The low-stress work package includes a free living quarters in an oceanfront villa and air fare that brings the worker in and from the island.—AP (01/13/09)

Applicants can be anyone from any country. Eleven (11) will be selected and brought to Hamilton Island as finalists from a search which commences on February 11, 2009. The winner will be chosen before July 1 when the work begins. There will surely be interested applicants for such enchanted tour of duty. Is it for you? =0=

Some of earth’s amazing wonders

December 31, 2008

There are beautiful things in the world that we’ll never see even if we exhaust seeking them in our lifetime. Many of the planet’s tantalizing scenes are remote for ordinary people to reach; others are quite rare for a chance encounter. Some are small and their details need microscopes to see— others too big beyond the discernment of the human senses.

To me , the photo of Sylvie Vincedet of Montepellier, France of the Antelope Canyon on the Navajo Reservation in Page, Arizona qualifies as among the most outstanding sights that I have seen so far. I have a reason to pause and look.

The secluded passageway is revered by those who have seen it. With some light peering from the sky, the rocky place lures. Its enigmatic sandy red-brown ridges carved by time are simply awesome. I behold nature for its plain and unending surprises. (Photo Credit: AP/ Matt York)

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Kahit saan man, ang patis ay ‘di malimutan

November 29, 2008

kwento ni Raniela (Miles) Barbaza

May patis na kami!” Isang nakakatuwang kwento ng isang Ibalonian ng napunta siya at ang kanyang kapatid sa Gallup, New Mexico. Sa kalayu-layo ng Pilipinas, hanap-hanap pa rin nila sa dulo ng mundo ang patis na walang katulad.—mesiamd (11/29, 08)

Tatlong taon na ang orosipong ito pero tulad ng ibinubulong ng matandang salitang Bikolnon para sa kwento – ang orosipon, hindi natatapos. Patuloy ang masayang kwento: ang ating orosipon.” —RB, November 28, 2008, New York City

Hindi ko alam sa inyo pero para sa amin ng kapatid kong si Isang hindi maaaring walang patis ang nilaga o sinigang. Imajinin nga ninyo – nilagang walang patis? Pede ba iyon? Sinigang na walang patis? Mas lalong hindi pede.

Halos dalawang buwan na kami dito sa Gallup, New Mexico bago kami nagkaroon ng patis. Kaming dalawa ang tinatawag na mga bagong salta. Nitong nakaraang August 10 lamang nang dumating kami dito sa Gallup, isang bayan na may isa’t kalahati hangga’t dalawang oras na biyahe ang layo mula sa Albuquerque.

Noong unang linggo namin dito, sinubukan naming gawing Amerikano ang aming tiyan. Tutal, pagyayabang namin sa sarili namin, sanay naman tayong kumain ng Jollibee at Mcdonald’s sa Pilipinas. Sige, wheat bread at palaman. Pero hindi namin nakumbinsi ang aming mga tiyan. Sari-saring tunog ang nililikha ng mga tiyan namin. Brrrrrrrg. Mrrrrngk. Pop. Parang nagmumumog o kumukulog o pumuputok na mga tunog ang maya’t maya’y naririnig namin mula sa mga tiyan namin.

Nang maglaon, tiyan na namin ang hindi mapakanali. Okey. Suko na kami. Kailangan namin ng kanin at ulam! Sumugod kami sa nilalakad lang namin na supermarket (wala kaming kotse). Diretso sa aisle ng bigas. Ok. Hayun, rice. Isang maliit na supot lang? Di bale. Sige. Ano pa. Ulam.

Anong ulam natin? Nilagang baka para may mahigop na sabaw (nilalamig na agad kami kahit na summer pa daw dito). Ok. Beef stew cuts. Ito na siguro iyon. Tapos repolyo. Patatas. Carrots. Beans. Saging saba… walang saging na saba?! Ok, di bale. Sibuyas. Tsek. Patis na lang.

Ah, ok sa condiments na tayo. Wala. Fish sauce. Hanap tayo ng fish sauce. Saan? Baka kakaiba lang ang bote dito ng patis. Diyan sa shelf na iyan? Teka baka dito. Wala. Walaaaa.

Doon namin naalala na usapin rin ng identidad ang panlasa. Pero, siyempre pa, ang identidad ay likha ng taga-ngalan. Kailangang ikonteksto ang paghahanap ng patis sa pananaw ng mga tagarito sa New Mexico. Sa madaling salita, sino ba kami sa pananaw ng mga taga-rito?

Pinilit naming kalimutan na, basta tao kaming nagugutom. Alalahanin ang mga form na sinusulatan. Please check ethnicity (optional). Oriental. Asian. Minsan may tiyak na box para sa Filipino. O kaya, doon ka sa mga walang identitad: other. Ok, sikapin na alalahanin hanapin ang karatulang may tanda ng identidad.

Dahil iniisip namin tiyak na may patis dito, kailangan lang nating matuklasan kung nasaang aisle. May iba naman sigurong mga Pinoy dito. Siyempre mangangailangan din sila ng patis. Elementary economics ba iyon ? Ang alam ko, kung may demand, may supply. Natitiyak naman namin na magdedemand ang mga dila ng mga Pinoy dito ng patis, kaya mayroong magsu-supply. Luminga-linga kami. Binasa ang mga karatula sa itaas ng mga aisle. Talagang wala. Walang Oriental food. O Asian food. O International food. Ooops eto, Chinese food! Preno kami ng kapatid ko. Dalawang shelves na may habang tatlong piye siguro. Pero walang patis. Walaaang patis! Bumili na lang kami ng toyo sa isang kakaibang bote.

Kinabukasan, ibinalita sa akin ni Isang na ang sabi ng kaniyang katrabahong Chinese, sa Albuquerque pa raw sila namimili ng oriental food. Whooaah! Sa Alburqeurque pa? Para sa aming mga bagong saltang walang kotse, para na rin nilang sinabing sa Pilipinas pa makakabili ng patis.

Pero tulad ng iba pang malilit na bahagi ng buhay migranteng bagong salta, unti-unti nasanay na rin kaming magluto ng nilagang toyo ang pampaalat. Nasanay na rin kaming umasa sa microwave na nabili namin sa halagang $10 sa isang yard sale: pampainit ng tubig, ng kaning lamig at tirang ulam.

Nasanay na kaming gumamit ng mainit na tubig sa pagligo sa halip ng dati ay hinahanap-hanap na malamig na tubig na pampaalis ng banas sa Pilipinas. Nasanay na kaming ulit-ulitin ang aming sinasabi hanggang sa maintindihan ng kausap. Ng pagbigkas ng salitang bank na halos behnk. Ng pagdala ng jacket saan man pumunta dahil hindi nangangahulugang mainit ang panahon kahit na tirik na tirik ang araw. Ng pagbitbit ng tigalawang galon ng inuming tubig mula sa supermarket. Ng matitigan dahil sa kakaibang itsura o pananalita.

Naiintindihan siguro ng Diyos ang paghahanap namin sa patis. Isang araw, tumawag ang Uncle Romy namin mula sa Norwalk, California. Oy, mga bagong saltang dalaga. May pupunta diyan na mga Pinoy na madre. Pitong taon na sila diyan sa Gallup. Ipinagbilin ko kayo.

Mga madreng misyonero na nagtuturo sa Catholic School dito sa Gallup. Na tulad ng ibang migrante dito, natutong mag-drive! Dinala nila kaming magkapatid sa Philippine Cuisine, isang bagong Pilipinong restaurant daw na may ilang bilihing Pilipino.

Ah! Para kaming mga batang nakakita ng mga kendi. Bumili kami ng patis, toyo, suka (hindi distilled ha!), balat ng lumpiang shanghai, tumigas na sa lamig na tilapia, tinapa at bihon!

Sa katunayan, hindi naman pala kami nag-iisa sa pananatiling Pinoy ng panlasa. Sinubukan kong i-Google minsan ang humba dahil naalala ko ang masarap na pork humba sa Rodic’s sa eskwelahang pinangungulilahan ko.

Aba! Sandamakmak na blogs at sites ang umapir! Pinoy. Pinay. Kung saan-saan. Nananatiling Pinoy at Pinay nasaan man sila ngayon. Nagpapayabangan ng mga alam na nilang lutuing Pinoy na dati-rati’y hindi pinapansin ang pagluluto at basta na lamang kinakain sa kusina ng kanilang lola/lolo o nanay/tatay o sa kalapit na karinderia.

Kaya ngayong tanghalian, habang balot ng medyas, pajama at sweater, hinihigop namin ang mainit na sinigang na mayroon nang patis. Ang tanong naming dalawang bagong migrante ngayon: anong bahagi ang hindi matitinag sa pagiibang bayan? (Photo Credits: Chboogs; nikita2471; Chotda; Jab58; http://www.tastingmenu.com; chotda; nikita2471; knottypine)=0=