By Marjorie Gorospe INQUIRER.net WHAT is it like being a bangkero or a boatman dealing with local and foreign tourist everyday? Alter Larawan has been a local bangkero for six years. Everyday, he wakes up early to prepare his boat. Like fisherman who gets up early to catch more fish, Larawan is driven by the need to “catch” tourists wanting to do some island hopping in Bohol. Larawan does not earn much from this job. So he admitted that he would rather go back to construction work and earn more. “Ang problema lang, hindi sa akin yung Bangka [The problem is I don’t own the boat],” laments Larawan, as he explains why he is not fully enjoying his job if he thinks about what he gets in return. Larawan works with Armando de Aser, his assistant who joins him in the daily tourist cruise. If Larawan was the captain, De Aser is the navigator who makes sure they’re safe. Unlike Larawan, De Aser is new to this job. He was born in Mindanao but has been staying in Bohol for a year. De Aser longs for his family but is still uncertain when he can go back home. “Either way, I want to take them here,” says De Aser while looking at the serene view of the Panglao. Meanwhile, Larawan longs for that day when he can finally own his boat. But he will need around P95,000 to get one. As I talked to these two gentlemen, I was told that honesty is a very important trait to keep customers coming back. Apart from taking people to different islands, Larawan and De Aser also look after their costumers’ personal things when they’re off island hopping. “We always ask them to double check their things before they leave, and if something falls into the sea, we dive for it,” Larawan says. No wonder, honest people like Larawan and De Aser are attracting tourist to visit Bohol. Not only that places like Bohol offer magnificent sites, but also people with big hearts like Larawan and De Aser.
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By Anna Valmero INQUIRER.net LOCAL filings for trademark registration in the country rose by 7 percent in the first half of 2008, up from last year, a government executive says. “This increase is good. Five years ago, about 65 percent of foreign trademarks are registered in the country versus the local ones but this year, the proportion is reversed,” says lawyer Adrian Cristobal, who is also director general of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IP Philippines). Driving the increase in local filings is the growing awareness of Filipinos on intellectual property (IP) protection and the increased activities of small and medium enterprises. “Intellectual property is anything produced by the human mind; it is an asset that any person can own, sell, license or donate and requires protection,” adds Cristobal. Cristobal said although IP is intangible, it requires protection from theft or unauthorized use. Types of IP such as patents, designs, trademarks and copyrights offer protection to the creator, thus giving them incentives to further create and innovate. By registering an IP, creators can get: economic incentives, through royalties and moral incentives, through creative motivation. To promote awareness on IP rights and the benefits of registering works, IP Philippines opened the “Art Spectrum” exhibit at the Alab Art Space and Innovation Area. The first exhibit showcases works of 16 faculty members of the University of Sto. Tomas College of Fine Arts. Production designer Noel Flores has an exhibit of futuristic pieces of wardrobes, masks and costumes used in local sci-fi TV programs. “Art represents its creator and thus, artists should be given proper due,” says Cristobal. In the Philippines, the IP system can be categorized into two: industrial property and copyright and related arts, said Cristobal. Persons can register IP rights for innovations with industrial and commercial use under industrial property as patents, trademarks, utility models and industrial design. Copyright refers to IP rights given to creators or authors of artistic works, which include literature, music, fine art and technology-based works, says Cristobal.
By Marjorie Gorospe INQUIRER.net ROAMING around a historical place like Intramuros can be more nostalgic if you take a ride on a “kalesa” or a horse-drawn carriage. No need to hire a tour guide because your English-speaking kutsero or coachman can definitely give you background of this historic place. In my recent tour of the Intramuros, I met Emiliano Ortaleza, a coachman for 40 years. Always ready with a smile and a warm greeting to potential customers, Ortaleza has been doing this job to earn enough money to get by every day. Ortaleza goes around Intramuros using a borrowed kalesa and a horse named Alasan. As I found out later, there is no specific season when tourists would be around to ride his Kalesa. But during these slow seasons, Ortaleza has to give the kalesa’s owner his share of the daily revenues. Through the years, Ortaleza who is a father to eight children, has learned more about the history of Intramuros and English. Although he never finished a formal education, Ortaleza admitted that the Department of Tourism’s seminars has helped him become more confident in dealing with foreign tourists. “Mahirap lang kapag iba iyong accent nila minsan pero kaya naman [I sometimes have difficulty understanding them especially if they have an accent],” Ortaleza added. In my conversations with him, Ortaleza showed me a scar on his leg that was a reminder of accidental fall from his Kalesa. Ortaleza cherises times when people remembered him. “Minsan kahit nasa ibang bansa na ‘yong naging pasahero ko natatandaan pa rin ako, pinapadalhan pa nga ako [Some of my passengers still remember me even if they’re abroad. They sometimes send me gifts],” Ortaleza added. After four decades of doing this job, Ortaleza admitted he never gets tired smiling and accommodating local and foreign tourists. Ortaleza also shared another secret – and it’s not about the fastest route around Intramuros. He said that as long as you are honest and you don’t take advantage to your customers, you will always be on the right direction in life.
By Izah Morales INQUIRER.net When you are on a foreign soil, you will need a map to guide you to where you’re going. But when the map is useless, the next thing you will do is to ask directions from the locals of the area. But what if no one understands a thing you’re saying. Sign language may help you a bit. But talking with someone who understands you is better. My mom and I found ourselves lost in Macau after we took a wrong route going to Fisherman’s wharf for dinner. We should have walked but we took a bus with the thought that our destination is far from the Macau Ferry Terminal. Our problem started when asked the driver if the bus was going to the Fisherman’s wharf. He did not answer, and I presumed that it was because he didn’t understand a single word I said. So from that point, we did not know where we were heading. Luckily, a woman who looked like a Filipino boarded the bus. When we asked her, she just said, "Naku, malayo na kayo. Bumaba na lang kayo diyan sa susunod na stop." During the bus ride, I wondered at how bus drivers were told stop. In the Philippines, we say, "Para" for the jeepney or bus to stop. But since I was not in my country, I wondered how they said it. Then I realized not a word was said. I only needed to press a button located in front of the seat. I then pressed it and the bus stopped. When we went out of the bus, another woman behind us spoke in Filipino. Thank God. We found another Filipino. Her name is Vangie Soriano, a domestic helper in Macau. She was on her way to the flat where she and other Filipinos were staying. But she noticed that we were lost. She was on her way home but instead she assisted us to the bus stop, where she told us to ride another bus to our destination. As we were passing by the European architectural façade of the establishments in the Senado Square, she started telling her story on how she wanted to stay home in the Philippines with her family but the odds in life pushed her to work abroad for her family’s future. If there’s one thing Ate Vangie learned in her six years of working as a domestic helper, it was the value of pakikisama. Watch my video interview with Ate Vangie. As we parted ways, I said, “Salamat Ate Vangie!” I don’t know if a word of gratitude was enough to express how much grateful we were. But it was so touching when she said, “Wala ‘yun. Siyempre, kababayan.” To extend a hand to a stranger is a kind act. Though simple it may seem, a help given to a kababayan can be considered the modern bayanihan.
INQUIRER.NET multimedia reporter Erika Tapalla is in the US now, and while driving around she saw a very familiar restaurant and decided to pay a visit. Goldilocks public relations manager Marisse G. Abelgas gave Erika a tour, while head waiter James Casem talked about the Pinoy favorites halfway across the world.
By Tetch Torres INQUIRER.net MANILA, Philippines--The Bureau of Immigration has relaxed its rules for returning Filipinos or "balikbayans" by giving them a one-year visa-free stay in the country, Commissioner Marcelino Libanan has said. A balikbayan principally refers to a former Philippine citizen who has become a naturalized citizen of another country. Libanan said they decided to ease the bureau's rule after being swamped with queries and complaints from returning Filipinos who claimed that they were confused by some immigration officers who would give them a 21-day stay instead of one year on the pretext that they have been to the country more than once over a 12-month period. "We will be doing our balikbayans a disservice if such mistakes by some of our immigration officers are not addressed and rectified, especially in light of our government's thrust to encourage our countrymen abroad to visit the land of their birth and even settle and have business here," Libanan said. Under immigration rules, a balikbayan shall declare before a Philippine immigration officer at the port of entry that he or she is availing of the balikbayan privilege and shall present his or her valid passport in addition to other supporting documents such as the passenger's cancelled Philippine passport, birth certificate, naturalization papers to show former Philippine citizenship or certification from the adopted country. Libanan said the balikbayan privilege was extended to foreign spouses as well as minor, unmarried children provided they were traveling together.