Lasah deserves the outdoor and not being chained for the rest of his life

An online petition to free Lasah, an elephant, has started and is becoming a trending topic on social media. As of this writing, the petition has received an almost 400 thousand signatures from people all over the world.


According to the petition, Lasah is a 37-year old wild born elephant who was captured and taken into captivity when he was a baby. Unfortunately, he was separated from his mum and herd, and eventually chained in zoos. He was exploited and exposed to tourism and entertainment for over 25 years in Malaysia.

Lasah has been forced to work in a logging camp, lived in zoos including Singapore Zoo, performed to different shows including in a popular Malaysian entertainment outlet. The elephant has been used in commercials and just recently, the 1999 film "Anna and the King".


12 years ago he was sent to the popular Malaysian tourist island, Langkawi and since then he has been used by the profit-making Langkawi Elephant Adventures (LEA). There, Lasah was forced for elephant rides and lives all alone, which is devastating for a social animal like elephants. LEA also continues to offer Lasah for other commercial purposes on their website.

According to the petition, in July 2016, activists exposed photos of Lasah being chained on all four legs behind public eyes during LEA's closing hours. In March 2017, eight months after the campaign for Lasah have started, the Malaysian environment ministry said that Lasah is chained on two feet only and not exploited for tourism purposes.

Unfortunately, Lasah has suffered for too long. This abuse must stop. Sign and share the petition to urge the Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to grant Lasah's freedom, allowing him to go to a sanctuary in Cambodia which has offered a permanent home for Lasah. 

You may sign the petition HERE.


Registration for #TAKBONUPO is still ongoing, sign up now and get a chance to win one of the twenty PhP500 Sodexo gift certificates (total of PhP10,000).

Register at now with your family and friends!

Winners will be announced and gift certificates will be given during the event. Run for the benefit of UPM-School of Health Sciences, join #TakbonUPo now!

In 45 years, we have killed 60% of Earth's wildlife

Humans have been around for more than 2 million years. But in the last 44 years, we have achieved what we haven’t in all this while: a mass annihilation of our fellow earthlings. Between 1970 and 2014, Earth lost nearly 60% decline of its mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians, almost all of it due to human activity.


The rate at which Earth is losing its biodiversity is comparable only to the mass extinctions. This and other findings have been published by the World Wildlife Fund in its Living Planet Report 2018, a stinging reminder of the declining health of the planet.

Published by WWF every two years, the report documents the state of the planet in terms of biodiversity, ecosystems, the demand on natural resources and its impact on nature and wildlife. This year, its results are even more devastating than ever:
  • 20% of the Amazon has disappeared in just 50 years 
  • On a global scale, the area of minimally disturbed forests declined by 92 million hectares between 2000 and 2013
  • Of all species that have gone extinct since 1500 AD, 75% were harmed by over exploitation or agriculture
  • Ocean acidification may be occurring at a rate not seen in at least 300 million years. The Earth is estimated to have lost 50% of its shallow water corals in the past 30 years
  • Humans are responsible for releasing 100 billion tonnes of carbon into the Earth’s system every 10 years. In April 2018, levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached an average of 410 parts per million (ppm) across the entire month–the highest level in at least 800,000 years
  • Only 25% of land on Earth is substantively free of the impacts of human activities. This is projected to decline to just 10% by 2050

The report states that as our reliance on natural reserves continues to grow, it’s clear that nature is not just a ‘nice thing to have’. It’s imperative for our survival.

A global deal for nature and people

WWF along with conservation and science colleagues around the world are calling for a new global deal between nature and people, involving decision makers at every level to make the right political, financial and consumer choices. WWF is collaborating with a consortium of almost 40 universities and organisations to launch a research initiative that will explore the critical work of putting together the best ways to save the planet.

The report says that the biggest challenge—and biggest opportunity—lies in changing our approach to development and remember that protecting nature also helps protect people.

In the words of Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International, “Today, we still have a choice. We can be the founders of a global movement that changed our relationship with the planet. Or we can be the generation that had its chance and failed to act. The choice is ours.”

Elephant collapses and dies after walking for 40 minutes, giving rides to two tourists in Cambodia

A petition to end elephant riding at Angkor Wat in Cambodia has garnered more than 14,000 signatures in just 48 hours after an elderly elephant trained to carry tourists collapsed and died in 40 degree heat.


Sambo, aged between 40 and 45, died after walking for 40 minutes, carrying two tourists, one at a time, between two temples in the ancient archaeological complex.

A vet established that Sambo "died of a heart attack due to high temperatures and lack of wind", according to the Phnom Penh Post. Oan Kiri, manager of the Angkor Elephant Company, which had owned Sambo since 2001, as saying the company was saddened by the loss.

Campaigners in Cambodia say Sambo's death should be the catalyst to lead to the banning of elephant tourism.


"It's time to end elephant riding," read the petition addressed to the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA).

"The death… should be the final wake-up call for the community and tourism industry to take the steps needed to end this horrific practice.

"There is no such thing as cruelty-free elephant rides. Tourists may think that riding an elephant on holiday does not cause harm… what you don't realise is that a 'once in a lifetime' or 'bucket list' item for you means a lifetime of misery for wild animals."


Jack Highwood, who runs the Elephant Valley Project, a Cambodian charity that supports elephants in captivity, said: "It is the smoothness of the trekking elephant's foot that always amazes me and [is] testimony to how many kilometres they must have travelled to get into this situation. Very sad."

He said that the Angkor Elephant Company still has 13 elephants, adding that working conditions for the animals should be regulated.

A Facebook post by a passer-by, Yem Senok, showing photos of the dead elephant has been shared more than 8000 times.


The ethics of elephant tourism in Thailand were called into question earlier this year when a British man was trampled to death by an elephant.

"To me, this incident is symptomatic of the increasing number of elephant camps being located close to beaches throughout Thailand without the space to look after them properly," said John Edward Roberts, director of elephants and conservation activities at the Anantara Resorts & Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, a leading elephant conservation camp.

Last month the World Animal Protection group (WAP) announced it had secured the support of more than 100 travel operators in efforts to halt the abuse of elephants for entertainment. 

Source: Traveller

Reminders for Boracay Island Visitors

Finally, the world's best island is now accepting visitors as it reopens today, October 26th. However, visitors should expect a new Boracay Island, following these reminders.


List of Accredited Accommodations in Boracay Island

The long wait is over! Boracay Island is now accepting visitors as it officially reopens today, October 26th. Visitors can expect an entirely new Boracay Island. Yes, you read it right. No more partying along the beachfront and sand-castle making will be regulated.

As of this writing, 157 accommodation establishments were given the green light by the Boracay Inter-agency Task Force to accept visitors. Check out this updated list to find out which are the compliant and the accredited hotels and resorts by the Department of Tourism.


The Importance of Travel, Life Insurance

I've been traveling solo for years now and I have tried extreme, neck-tingling activities like ziplining at the Southeast Asia's highest and longest ziplines; enjoying an exhilarating 4x4 adventure ride in Paoay Sand Dunes; river tubing; swimming with the whale sharks in Donsol and Oslob, Cebu; rock climbing; riding a habal-habal in Mindanao and a lot more.

Yes, injuries are quite common. However, it is worth checking the maximum emergency medical cover and perhaps taking out an additional life insurance if needed.

Honestly, I've ignored my friends offering life insurance before until I realized that I need to get one for myself. Getting a life insurance is one of those things that few travelers consider and then regret for not signing up when it's too late.

Essentially, travel insurance covers yourself against travel risks such as lost or stolen luggage, cancellation cover and most importantly, due to unexpected medical reasons. However, getting a life insurance is highly recommended as it covers death and disability.

As a travel blogger, I can provide you valuable insights to a certain destination and make recommendations if necessary. Having an informed decision regarding travel and life insurance is one of my responsibilities as a financial consultant. Get yourself insured before it's too late. Having a life insurance could save you money in some unfortunate events. Trust me.

Go out there. Travel. Soar high. And, always remember that we're only young once.

Noel On The Road Travel Promo

Get a chance to win an all expense paid to Palaui Island for three days & two nights; a day tour package to Buscalan, Kalinga with a chance to get inked by the legendary, bad-ass Apo Whang-od; and a tour package to Sagada, Mountain Province!

I'm giving away these exciting prizes as my way of giving back and as part of our 2nd Year Anniversary at the bloggersphere! Thank you for all the love & support! You guys are amazing! 

  1. LIKE my Facebook Page: Noel On The Road 
  2. FOLLOW me on Instagram:
  3. SHARE this post and tag three of your travel buddies. Make sure your post is in public.
  4. Promo runs from October 23 to December 23, 2018.
  5. Two lucky winners will get a chance to win these tour packages:
  • 1st Prize: All expense paid to Palaui Island, Cagayan for three days & two nights
  • 2nd Prize: A day tour package to Buscalan Village, Tinglayan, Kalinga
  • 3rd Prize: A tour package to Sagada, Mountain Province

  • This promo is open to all regardless of nationality.
  • Participants should like and follow both the Facebook Page and it's Instagram account.
  • Sharing the promo post should be in public.
  • Participants can join as much as they want as long as they are tagging different people.
  • Once traced, participants with dummy accounts will be disqualified.
  • A fruit machine will be used to pick the lucky winners.
  • Winners will be announced on December 30, 2018 through posts via Facebook, Instagram Stories, My Stories and Twitter.
  • Winners will be notified through a private message.
  • Winners are expected to respond to the private message within 30 days. Failure to respond will result to forfeiture of their prizes.
  • Prizes are not convertible to cash.
  • Travel period starts from January 2019 until April 2019.
  • Winners should be in the Philippines within the travel period.

Good luck everyone! And, once again, thank you for all the love and support. I really appreciate it.

The Great Big Story Features Apo Whang-od In New Video

The Great Big Story (GBS), a New York-based media company, featured Apo Whang-od Oggay in a new video, saying, "people travel from all over the world to get marked by the master." 

"At 101, Whang-od is the last remaining manbabatok -- a tattoo artist in the Philippines using traditional hand-tap methods," GBS captioned to their Facebook post on September 25.

The video is a little over two minutes long. However, it showcases Apo Whang-od's tattooing process and a short introduction about her and why she's so special among travelers around the world.

"In the village of Buscalan, lives a woman who is the last of her kind," the video starts, fitting a description for the living legend. It is noted that the traditional hand-tap method was originally meant for the warriors.

“To apply a tattoo, you first need to get a coal, thorns, and then wipes. The hammer I use is from a coffee tree. The thorn I use is from calamansi or pomelo fruit trees," Apo Whang-od shares on the video.

Meanwhile, Apo Whang-od ended the interview, saying, "this traditional tattoo will last forever".

In June, Apo Whang-od was awarded the Dangal ng Haraya by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).

According to the NCCA, the Dangal ng Haraya is given to living Filipino artists, cultural workers and historians; artistic or cultural groups, historical societies, institutions, foundations and councils, to recognize their outstanding achievements in relevant fields that have made an impact and significant contribution to Philippine culture and arts.

As of this writing, the GBS's Facebook video had almost half million views.

By the way, I've started a petition online to declare Apo Whang-od as one of our National Living Treasures. You can sign the petition HERE.

Boracay To Reopen On October 26th

After shuttering the Boracay Island for six months, the Department of Tourism (DOT) confirmed that the island is set to open on October 26th, saying, "a better and more sustainable Boracay is set to welcome back visitors."

"October is only a soft opening... we are managing expectations. It will be open but don't expect all the roads to be completed," DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat told Philippine Daily Inquirer.

The DOT chief added that five thousand hotel rooms will be ready by October 26 but overall, Boracay isn't expected to fully be rehabilitated until the end of 2019. The "no drinking or smoking" rule for white beaches will be more strictly enforced, and no casinos will be allowed on the island, despite earlier reports.

It is expected that the famous "LaBoracay" Labor Day weekend celebrations that drew 60,000 to 70,000 visitors to the island each year won't fly anymore, per the Philippine Inquirer report.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary Benny Antiporda says that as of today, 78 establishments have secured Environmental Compliance Certificate. The certificate serves as a requirement for establishment to operate come reopening day.

Owners of the compliant hotels, resort, and other establishments say they are more than excited to reopen. In fact, some of them have already accepted bookings for October 26 and beyond.

Meanwhile, Antiporda is confident that the rehabilitation efforts on the island's main road will be completed in time for the soft opening. However, he admitted that a lot of work still has to be done beyond deadline.

"The problem with Boracay is that it was called a cesspool. We are happy to say that we have solved the problem. Boracay is now very clean," DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu told the press during the Inter-Agency Task Force meeting today, September 28, in Boracay.

Some tourists may be able to relax and enjoy Boracay earlier than the formal opening on October 26. According to Cimatu, the inter-agency task force will hold a dry run from October 15 to 25 for local tourists. Local tourists from Aklan will be prioritized for the soft-opening.

Boracay has been voted the world's best island by Conde Nast Traveler in 2017.

DFA Shortens Passport Releasing Period

The long wait is over!

Starting next month, applicants will no longer wait for almost a month to receive their passports. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced today that passports will be released as early as six working days.

"We made a promise to the President and to our kababayan that we will work hard to give them fast, efficient, and secure passport services. Shortening the length of time our kababayan would have to wait before they could receive their passports is part of that promise," Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano said in a statement. He is currently attending the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Beginning Monday, October 1st, applicants at DFA Consular Offices in Metro Manila who pay the regular processing fee of Php 950 can receive their passports after 12 working days instead of 15 working days. On the other hand, applicants who pay the express processing fee of Php 1,200 can receive their passports after six working days instead of seven working days.


Meanwhile, applicants in DFA Consular Offices outside Metro Manila can receive their passports after 12 working days instead of 20 working days for regular processing and seven working days instead of 10 working days for applicants who pay the expedited processing fee.

"Providing better passport services is the heart of our work at the DFA," Cayetano said. He assured the public that the agency will continue to work hard to further improve the delivery of passport services. 

It is noted that in May 2017, the agency processes 9,500 passports daily. Cayetano said that they have increased their capacity to almost 20,000 passports a day and is hoping to increase this number to 30,000 by the end of the year.

How To Score Free Accommodation When You Travel?

Imagine this: The world has millions of people with full of adventurous souls, traveling, exploring and discovering new and exciting things to do to certain places. And, many of these souls are doing it solo. Solo backpacking is very rewarding and the experience alone is very much fulfilling.

Backpacking is one of the most cheapest ways to take a trip to certain destinations. In uncertain economic environment, you're in good hands when you adopt the mindset of a backpacker. They teach us about packing an ultra-light bag to finding affordable food and accommodations.

This time, let me share with you some ways on how to score a free accommodation when you travel.

Get hosted by locals through CouchSurfing

Trust me, there are many people who are willing to host visitors for few days for free in their homes. It may sound unreal but sleeping on your host's couches, sofas, spare beds or air mattresses has been one of the most useful ways to travel. And, if you're lucky, you might end up sleeping in their spare room! 

CouchSurfing is very much popular here in the Philippines. In fact, most of my friends has CouchSurfing accounts and they've attested how wonderful this hospitality exchange network is.

I understand about your safety concerns. Generally, use your common sense and then follow these steps to avoid bad experience while hosting or is being hosted.
  • Read the user's detailed profile very carefully.
  • Do not entertain users with blank profiles. That's not a good sign.
  • Check the references left by other hosts and guests.
  • Chat with them. Then, have a look at their Facebook or Instagram accounts. You might find some surprising mutual friends!

Aside from CouchSurfing, here are other several hospitality exchange networks you might consider: BeWelcome, Warm Showers (for cyclists, bike tourists), and Trustroots.

Housesitting and Petsitting

Housesitting and petsitting at people's houses while they're away is another way to find free accommodation. Housesitting is generally free. The house owner needs someone to take care of their house while they're away or on a holiday.

TrustedHousesitters is probably the most popular website offering such services. However, when I checked their website and specifically searched for housesitters and petsitters here in the Philippines, the results showed nothing.

Other websites offering the same service include MindMyHouse, House Carers, and Nomador.

Work and Skills Opportunities

Just in case CouchSurfing and Housesitting isn't for you, this might be your last option. There's a wide range of opportunities to exchange your work and skills for a place to stay while on travel.

You can work on farms, hostels and restaurants for few hours in exchange of free accommodation every night. It may also include using your skills from building a website to teaching a language.

WWOOF (Willing Worker On Organic Farm) is the most popular website for such services here in the Philippines. You can stay to a certain destination, help the farm owner for few hours and in exchange, you get an accommodation for free. 

The Happy House Farm, located in Rosario, La Union, offers such services. According to their website, they've hosted over 200 WWOOF work exchange volunteers over the last two years.

Aside from WWOOF, other websites to look for work exchange opportunities are WorkAway, HelpX, Worldpackers, HippoHelp, and TalkTalkbnb.

Scoring a free accommodation isn't just about free accommodation. Being hosted by a stranger makes travel a lot more fun as you meet new friends along the way and you'll get a chance to know more about the local life.

As with hospitality exchange, please show your gratitude to people hosting you. Invite your hosts to a restaurant, buy them chocolates or get them a personalized gift. If you're on a tight budget, help them around the house, cook food, share your skills or simply offer to host them when they visit your place.

The Philippines Tops Participation In International Coastal Cleanups

With over 200,000 volunteers, the Philippines ranks first among the top 25 countries that participated in international coastal cleanup activities around the world, according to the Ocean Conservatory 2018 Report.

The volunteers, who joined the international coastal cleanups last year, were able to gather more than 230,000 kilograms of trash from beaches and waterways or equivalent to over 1,200 kilometers.

It is noted that the Philippines is the world's third biggest dumper of ocean plastic, according to the 2015 report on plastic pollution by the Ocean Conservancy and McKinsey Center for Business and Environment.

The research found out that more than half of the plastic leaking into the ocean comes from just five Asian countries: China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. It is noted that an estimated eight million metric tons of plastic waste leaks into the ocean every year. An immediate action from these countries could stem that tide.

Globally, cigarette butts remain to top the world's coastal trash, increasing in number from 1.8 million pieces in 2016 to over 2.4 million in 2017. On the average, cigarette butts take at least 10 years to rot while plastic products will need five centuries to a thousand years to decompose.

Last year, a nearly 1 million food wrappers were found here in the Philippines, making it the most common coastal trash in the country today.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) spearheaded this month's national cleanup activities, inviting several organizations and individuals to join thousand of volunteers around the Philippines.

Meanwhile, environmental group Greenpeace Philippines spearheaded the Manila Bay Coastal Cleanup on September 22nd as part of their #BreakFreeFromPlastic campaign. 

When Filipinos See Their Surroundings As One-Big Trash Can

The Philippines is world's third largest contributor to ocean plastic

The 2015 report on plastic pollution by the Ocean Conservancy and McKinsey Center for Business and Environment reveals that the Philippines is the world's third biggest dumper of ocean plastic.


The research found out that more than half of the plastic leaking into the ocean comes from just five Asian countries: China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. It is noted that an estimated eight million metric tons of plastic waste leaks into the ocean every year. An immediate action from these countries could stem that tide.

As an immediate priority, the organization believe that there is an opportunity to reduce plastic-waste leakage by 65 percent in these five countries, resulting in a 45 percent reduction globally. These countries are expected to implement measures including closing the leakage points within the collection system, increasing waste-collection rates, using a variety of technologies to treat waste, and manually sorting high-value plastic waste.


The report also revealed that the amount of unmanaged plastic waste entering the ocean has reached crisis levels. On current trends, the global quantity of plastic in the ocean could nearly double to 250 million metric tons by 2025 or one ton of plastic for every three tons of fish.

The critical finding of a joint report by the Ocean Conservancy and the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment can be downloaded HERE.

On June 15, Surigao del Norte Representative Robert Ace Barbers urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to tap other nations' technology for turning plastics into construction materials for the homeless.

"I urge the DENR and other research agencies of the government to reverse the cycle of plastic pollution by working with other countries to lessen, if not eliminate, it's toxic impact on human health and ecology," Barbers said.

He added that this plastic pollution has been choking waterways across the country and worsens disaster, particularly during rainy season.


Meanwhile, Greenpeace Philippines reported that an equivalent of one truckload of plastics enter our oceans every minute. Plastic has become a major scourge for Metro Manila's waterways, clogging our drainage and causing flooding of our roadways and thoroughfares.

"We can do better. Little by little, we are realizing that plastics is not all convenient. It threatens our rights to a clean, healthy environment and our very lives and livelihoods," Greenpeace Philippines said through a Facebook post.

Unfortunately, plastic found inside a dead whale shark near Tagum in Davao del Norte on August 8th. Darrel Blatchley, who works with the Marine Wildlife Strandings in Davao Gulf, uploaded the photos.

"Nothing changes. The posts get shared. You get the sad faces but when the trash still gets dropped," Blatchley said.


After few days, another whale shark found dead in Navotas Fish Port. You can watch the viral video HERE.

And, just recently, a female dugong found dead in the waters of Barangay Dalayawan Araceli, Palawan on September 8th. The International Union for Conservation listed dugong under the vulnerable category and was declared a protected marine mammal under DENR administrative order 55 of 1991.
Noel On The Road sincerely hope that all Filipinos should continue with proper waste disposal and garbage segregation. We can lessen the impact of plastic pollution through our coordinated action. Let's all be Earth warriors, alright? 

Books, Pens & More: A Campaign To Build A Reading Center

Together We Share was coined to enrich the young minds, especially the Aeta children -- heightening their interest to reading and to trigger their artistic sides through the books and school supplies we have donated. 

However, we have identified several factors affecting their education. Thus, we have included food, groceries, toiletries, flashlights, medicines, slippers, and pre-loved clothes on our donation drives.

With the success of the past Together We Share events, this time, on our fourth leg, we'll be sustaining what we've started in April 2017. Yes, we're ready to adopt this Aeta Community in Sitio Rapuli in Santa Ana, Cagayan for a longer period of time. 

The number of out of school youth in the community is becoming an issue. According to their tribal chieftain, no one have reached college or at least finished high school in their community. After finishing their primary education, the students start working for their daily needs until they get married and have their own families. 

We've launched Books, Pens & More, a campaign to solicit funds so we can build a reading center for the Aeta Community, benefiting the 27 families in the area. Thank you. 

You can share your blessings HERE

Thank you in advance and God bless your lovely souls! ❤

Happy 2nd Blogiversary, Noel On The Road


Hey, you! Thank you for being here. Because of you, Noel On The Road is still up and running. Today, September 20th, marks our second year together. I couldn't be prouder of all the accomplishments this blog has helped me achieve this past year. So, thank you very much.

What's next with Noel On The Road?

I've got exciting news for you! In the next coming weeks, I'll be launching a promotion as my way of saying thank you for growing with me. I've collaborated with travel agencies and private individuals for the exciting prizes! Stay tuned for the mechanics.

I'm so happy to announce that this page is now being followed by 14.7K awesome people! Yassss!

Also, through Noel On The Road, we'll be going back to Santa Ana, Cagayan next year to build a reading center for an Aeta Community. A non-government organization based in Canada granted Together We Share a certain amount so we can continue adopting this community for longer period of time. To all of you, thank you and God bless your lovely souls.

Noel On The Road isn't just a travel blog anymore. It is a name, a brand, an identity, becoming a part of who I am and what I stand for. I am thrilled to continue what I've started and to see what lies ahead. I don't want to miss out on amazing new things! This blog is always changing as am I.

Again, THANK YOU VERY MUCH for all the love and support. You guys are the best!

Noel Soriano

Financial Freedom While On Travel

Hello! How are you? It's been a while since I've updated you about my life on the road. However, this time, I'm writing this post not just as a travel blogger but also as a financial consultant of Prulife UK, one of the leading life insurance companies here in the Philippines.

In my previous blog few months ago, I admitted that I was on a mountain of debt leading me to just stay home, applying for new jobs and getting myself back on the grind again. Just like most of you, I never thought of getting a life insurance before. Yes, I was on the road every weekend, enjoying the neck-tingling activities yet I do not have a life insurance. Thank God nothing bad happened to me during those times. Now, I got myself insured and will surely enjoy my life on the road again. 

Most of us, Filipinos, are hesitant to learn the benefits of getting a life insurance. If you doesn't have a policy yet, no worries, I totally understand you. Our mindset -- we work hard to save in order to buy a new house, send our siblings to school, get a car, to be able to travel and so on. When life happens, our savings will be used, we ask financial help from friends and family, we'll call banks for loans and to eventually let go of our properties. You don't have to do all these. Get yourself insured. It's time to secure your health and income. Send me a direct message or call your friends who are connected with life insurance companies and start authoring your life.

Let me emphasize the importance of the following:

INSURANCE - As what I've mentioned earlier, getting a life insurance is very important especially for us, travelers. We're prone to emergency and accident when on travel. Remember that. Your life insurance covers your hospitalization, critical illness, accident and death. Also, when you have a policy, a portion of your money is being invested to stock market allowing your hard-earned money works for you. A life insurance is a pre-requisite in getting in to certain countries.

INVESTMENT - Let your money works for you. My policy with Prulife UK allows me to invest a portion of my premium to the stock market. Instead of just saving your hard-earned money to banks, invest it to life insurance companies offering you to invest it to mutual funds, equity fund, etc. Or, start a new business. Remember these: usually, inflation is around 3-4% annually and banks offer 1% interest per annually. After few years, your hard-earned money saved in the bank will not be enough anymore when you retire.

EMERGENCY FUND - Your emergency fund is the amount of money saved in a bank for emergency purposes such as loss of job, critical illness, or unexpected expenses. This fund should be at least 3 to 6 months worth your expenses. For example, your monthly expenses is around Php 10,000, you are expected to have at least Php 30,000 saved in the bank. Yes, you're only allowed to travel if you have an emergency fund.

RETIREMENT - Now is the perfect time to save for your retirement while we're young and able. Believe me, with the technological advances, most companies will hire a fresh graduate over a 60 year old guy unless you're super good at witty. My cousin started her retirement plan for only Php 3,000 monthly and is being debited from her payroll account. She will be receiving 5 million pesos at age 60 based on the projected investment at 10%.

TRAVEL FUND - Open another bank account for your travels. You can set up an automatic debit from your payroll account for at least Php 1,000 monthly. Or, if you have part time jobs, your salary should be deposited here in case you wouldn't really need it.

LOANS - No, no, no, no, nooooo! If you can't afford it in cash, you can't afford it. Get yourself a job, earn, save then travel. Remember that. 

Be wise. Prepare for your future and never ever be a burden to your family. Yes to financial freedom!

Fighting Depression: Am I Better Off Dead?


Of course not!

Hey, I just called the HOPE hotline; shared my stories; and yes, I've cried a river. It feels great to talk to someone you've never met; someone who doesn't know you at all; and someone who will never judge you. I feel better now.

Depression almost killed me and I'm so happy that I've started seeking help before it's too late. Depression isn't always sadness, emptiness, anger and tiredness. Sometimes, it is a cry for help which isn't so visible. There were times that I fool myself, thinking that it's gone. But, it's there; it's always there.

Believe me, depression isn't a joke.

I'll be on a digital detox for a while. I already started uninstalling my social media apps to get rid with trolls and bullies.

Now, I'm on my way to meet a counselor. I hope everything will get better. I know, for sure, this will pass. If not, please know that I appreciate you and thank you for being a friend. Please check on people. Check how your loved ones are doing. Also, get in touch with your 'happy friends'. I know, some of them aren't really happy.

Kaya ko to. Laban lang!

For your reference, here's the HOPELINES. Remember, you are not alone.

Photo courtesy of Natasha Goulbourn Foundation

Replacing P1,650 Travel Tax To P500 Tourist Fee

The Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) wants to replace the P1,620 travel tax charged to Filipinos flying to other countries with a P500 fee for all, including foreign tourists.

“What we want to do right now is revisit that (travel tax) and make a tourist development fund specifically for departure,” TIEZA chief operating officer Pocholo Paragas said over the weekend.

Paragas said he wants to replace the P1,620 with a P500 fee that will go to the Tourist Development Fund (TDF). Last year, Paragas said TIEZA was eyeing to create a TDF to be used for the improvement and development of infrastructure for tourists visiting the country.

It is noted that under Presidential Decree 1183, passengers who are leaving the country irrespective of the place where the air ticket is issued and the form or place of payment are required to pay a travel tax of P1,620 for economy class and P2,700 for first class.

The chief operating officer added that charging P500 will also lessen the burden on Filipinos currently paying the P1,620 travel tax. While a law is required to establish the TDF, Paragas said he would prefer an executive order first to push for this concept.

“What we wanted to do, prior to law is if there is an EO that can help us set up this frame of mind, it will work,” Paragas said.

In December, Paragas said he already submitted a copy of a draft bill for the creation of the fund to President Duterte. Paragas said they are still updating the draft and coordinating with international partners.

“We’ve been dealing with the international segment, the international airlines, (other) countries; we’re trying to coordinate with them to finalize the best fit for the Philippines,” he said.