By Marjorie Gorospe INQUIRER.net HOW can you sell a “sustainable lifestyle” and help save the environment? Answer: Echostore. Founded by Reena Francisco of the Figaro Foundation, Jeannie Javelosa--writer-artist and Board of Trustee Member of the Yuchengco Museum, and Chit Juan, co-chair of the Philippine Coffee Board, Echostore offers products that are proudly Philippine made. Echostore offers green products from “Malunggay” pesto to biodegradable detergents. During my interview with Juan, she confesses it is a challenge putting up a store that sells green products. So far, however, they have received an overwhelming response. “We are espousing a sustainable lifestyle,” Juan said. Echostore, however, goes beyond selling green products. To budding entrepreneurs, the store hopes to be a venue of showcasing locally made products. The store is open to offering products made by prisoners from the Correctional Institute of Women and the Gawad Kalinga beneficiaries. “We felt that our knowledge in marketing can really help this people,” Juan said. The Echostore also prefers “Gawang pinoy,” or Philippine-made products. Juan said the country has a host of green products that needs to be marketed. “What we are doing is empowering the Filipino small businesses and women,” Juan stressed. Before our conversation ended, Juan shared three key points to consider when putting up a business: 1. Business profit or the monetary profit 2. Social profit (Ask yourself if you are helping others in your business?) 3. And environmental profit (Are you sustaining the environment as you make your products?) “As long as you consider the two key points and not the business profit alone, you are on the right track,” Juan said. “You may get good value for money but I believe people come back here not because it is cheap but because of the quality of the products. Not only that you are pleasing yourself, you are also pleasing the environment,” she said.
Recently in Lifestyle & Leisure Category
DECORATING for Christmas is not complete without the twinkling Christmas lights that brighten up a night. But how safe are the Christmas lights that you are using? According to Alex Malong, product manager of the Bureau of Product Standards-Department of Trade and Industry (BPS-DTI), all Christmas lights sold in the market should have the following in its packaging: 1. A visible Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) sticker 2. Safety instructions 3. Manufacturer’s name 4. Country of origin 5. Number of standard used- PNS 189:2000 6. Printed mark “For indoor use only” 7. Rated voltage and rated wattage of the set 8. Rated voltage and rated wattage of the lamp The ICC sticker is the consumer’s assurance that the product has passed the testing based on the Philippine National Standard (PNS) 189:2000. It is the quality and safety seal on imported products. In October 2008, DTI-BPS released an improved ICC sticker design to avoid imitations. The improved ICC mark includes the certificate number and the month and year when the certification was issued. Consumers should also check whether the Christmas light is substandard by looking at the diameter of the wires, Malong said. “Dapat makapal ‘yung wire. Per strand of wire should measure 0.2 millimeters. Kapag manipis at madaling magbend, substandard ‘yun. [The wire should be thick. A wire strand should measure 0.2 mm. If the wires are thin and can be easily bent, then the product is substandard.],” added Malong. Aside from the wires, the plug should have firm pins and should not be easily bent. If a consumer buys a substandard product, he should return the product to the store where he bought it. If the store doesn’t accept the returned product, the consumer should report it to the DTI direct hotline-751-3330. For the updated list of certified Christmas light products, check the DTI-BPS website.
DECORATING a Christmas tree should not be that expensive. Anything can be hung on a Christmas tree as long as it is light and colorful, according to Alice Tesoro-Guerrero, chairman of Tesoro’s marketing corporation. In fact, the decoration can be unrelated to Christmas. Guerrero’s Christmas trees, namely her Heritage tree and the Filipiniana tree displayed at the Tesoro Handicraft store, are examples. The Heritage tree glowing in white motif was decorated with handkerchiefs, mini-pouch, wedding souvenirs, shell icicles, Capiz trimmings and lights. Guerrero said she got the idea of shell icicles from the shell chimes that were displayed in the store. Aside from the shell icicles, Guerrero said the handkerchief can be reused after Christmas. “If it’s no longer Christmas, you can use it as a hanky in suits,” Guerrero said. Guerrero said she came up with the idea of putting souvenir items on Christmas trees when she found that they have a lot of them in their store. “I want to have something different,” she said. You can get creative when decorating Christmas trees. There are other things you can hang: native car dolls, poinsettia napkin rings, butterfly refrigerator magnets, key chains, wine shot glasses, and children’s ballpen. As Guerrero stressed, you don’t need to spend much this coming holidays. “Look around the house. Maybe you can find small items. Let your imagination run wild,” Guerrero said.
By Marjorie Gorospe INQUIRER.net PASIG CITY, Philippines -- After long years of dreaming about it, Natalie Tanchip, owner of Pocketful of Kids, finally opens her dream toy village. It is the first toy village in the country that carries popular American and European brands that encourages the children to learn and discover through play. Pocketful of Kids is a playground inspired from Tanchip’s dream playground when she was still a child. The toy village hopes to break the notion of “look, but don’t touch”. Tanchip explains that kids can actually play and have fun with the toys unlike in other toy villages where they are only for display. Tanchip believes in the need to give children the chance to explore the world through toys and have fun while learn through play. This is one reason why its interactive playground is designed to let kids explore on their own. The place features a mini-library and mini-theater surrounded with toys that can exercise their motor and cognitive skills. “As a parent, I know that every child wants to play and so we should provide them the toys they need not just for them to have fun and play but to actually boost their ability to learn,” says Tanchip. Pocketful of Kids also features toy brands like Educational Insights, which carries the Hot Dots pens, Playfoam and Geosafari brands of scientifically themed toys. These toys provide a unique and interesting way for children to learn the fundamentals of geography, math, reading science and other subjects.
By Lawrence Casiraya INQUIRER.net ARRIVING in Bangkok past midnight without a hotel booking, I took my chances on Khao San Road tagging along with two French women I met at the airport. I figured it was a lot easier to find a place to stay there. Turns out I had to cherry pick hotels in the wee hours of the morning. Khao San greeted me with its bright lights, thumping music (Blur’s “Girls Against Boys” mixed with this shalala-la ditty), streetwalkers and all the revelry -- exactly like that scene in ”The Beach” as I remember it. After scouring through every available signboard I laid my eyes on, I spotted one leading to an alley -- Sawasdee Bangkok Inn, the familiar purple giving me some sort of comfort after flying Thai Airways thrice in the last two days. Patience is indeed a virtue, it was the most decent-looking room I found -- the rest were either too big or too ratty, depending on your tolerance. D&D Inn (where the two French women were staying -- WITH RESERVATION) looked really nice but it was full, apparently a traveler’s favorite. Stay away from Khao San Palace, shitty rooms. O My room was cozy enough in size, the TV small but an essential antidote to loneliness. Hot shower, check. With breakfast, check. 1,375 baht for a three-day promo, not bad. Nevermind the not-so-picturesque window view, the al-fresco restaurant downstairs makes up for it. A Continental breakfast and watching the NBA Finals on their big screen TV while I was writing this was a huge plus -- and they have wifi.
UPDATE: Editor's note: Added video. By Lawrence Casiraya INQUIRER.net THE HUANG Pu River cuts through Shanghai, dividing it between ultra-modern Pudong and culture-rich Puxi. After a hurried lunch, I took a quick break from the first-day sessions at the Intel Developer Forum, which was at the Shanghai Convention Center in Pudong, located near the river. Being the lone Filipino journalist, I bumped into a fellow journalist named Kema (editor of CNET Turkey) while grabbing a smoke outside. A first-timer like myself, I tagged along when he said he was crossing to the other side via this tunnel right (Editor's note: The Bund Sightseeing Tunnel) in front of SCC. What the heck, I thought, I've got a few minutes to kill and a bit of a walk would be a welcome treat because I was feeling the springtime chill. Not much walking, however, because it was actually a train ride to the other side of the river. The ride cost 40 yuans (or RMB as they call it here). Anyway, so much for sightseeing, I did expect to see the bottom of the river! It was more like a light show that reminded me a lot of Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey." "Lightseeing" tunnel then, huh? Here's a video I took.
By Lawrence Casiraya INQUIRER.net UPDATE: Editor's note: Corrected blog post. SHANGHAI, China--Shanghai is full of skyscrapers it’s a pain in the neck -- literally. Which isn’t surprising since it’s touted as China’s modern metropolis. The Orient Pearl Tower sticks out from among the rest because of how it looks. Yes, it’s that one next to
Chairman Mao (Editor's note: Thanks to our readers who noticed the error and pointed out that this is a statue of Chen Yi.) the statue of Chen Yi, who was Shanghai's first mayor when the People's Republic of China was founded .
It reminded me a lot of Malaysia’s Petronas Towers because everywhere you go, it’s just a head turn away. It’s actually a TV tower (third largest in Asia) but it stands out from among many skyscrapers because of its rocket-ship look.
The Orient Pearl is just right beside the convention center in Pudong where I'm covering the Intel Developer Forum, so each time I go out I couldn’t help but crane my neck up.
And speaking of heights, I stayed at the 26th floor of Sofitel here, which means I have a decent view of Shanghai’s skyscrapers while I’m writing this post.
By Fung Yu, Contributor INQUIRER.net Author’s note: This article uses Apple’s QuickTime and Adobe Flash in providing an immersive experience by means of virtual reality technology. QuickTime and/or Flash are required to view the 360-degree VRs. Average VR size is 2MB each. IT was just prior to the Christmas season last year that I took a trip to Shanghai and Beijing with my friends. Although this was my second time to China, it was my first time to visit these cities. We took advantage of Cebu Pacific’s "One Peso" promo fare from Manila to Shanghai. The smooth flight took about three hours, touching down at Pudong International Airport in Shanghai just a few minutes before midnight. The outside temperature was in the range of 7 to 10 degrees Celsius; thank God for the cheap winter jacket I bought at our local "ukay-ukay." Being a modern cosmopolitan city with a rich history, Shanghai has become a fusion of Oriental and Western influences. The city is dotted with marvelous skyscrapers, towering infrastructure, and contemporary architecture. Likewise, its old streets boast of neo-colonial buildings, ancient temples, and old traditional houses. The highlight of our Shanghai tour included: The Bund, the heart of international settlement along the western banks of the Huangpu River; the Oriental TV Tower; the Huangpu River cruise and the sight-seeing tunnel underneath it; People’s Park; jade and silk factories; Yu Yuen Garden; and of course bargain shopping among the "secret shops" of the old districts which my female companions enjoyed so much. Pigeons in People’s Park View in Flash View in QuickTime Performances at Sian Tian Ti View in Flash View in QuickTime Shops outside Yu Yuen Garden View in Flash View in QuickTime Fishes inside Yu Yuen Garden View in Flash View in QuickTime Compared to Shanghai, the capital city of Beijing is a sight of endless wonder. Apart from the rich historical heritage of ancient dynasties, a journey in Beijing is one of visual spectacle as well as a gastronomic experience. Being higher up in the North, the temperature was of course a lot colder than in Shanghai; and since it was the winter season, most trees looked barren with their leafless branches. Gone were the lush greenery, with very few birds in the sky, and the lakes were frozen. Even with a noontime sun above, you didn’t feel its warmth; sunsets came much earlier as well, setting around 4:30 p.m. local time. We spent our first day scaling the Juyongguan Pass section of the Great Wall, said to be one of the steepest portions of the Wall. Then there was the Summer Palace where Emperors spent their summer months. The last stop of the day was at the Temple of Heaven where the Ming and Qing Emperors prayed for good harvest. The Great Wall View in Flash View in QuickTime Summer Palace View in Flash View in QuickTime The following day was a walking tour of Tiananmen Square; directly behind it was the Forbidden City. As China will be hosting the Olympic Games this year, a lot of renovations were ongoing inside the former imperial grounds. The site of the Ming Tombs was the final stop. Here, people who are more attuned to their surroundings can experience an eerie feeling. Tiananmen Square View in Flash View in QuickTime The Forbidden City View in Flash View in QuickTime Imperial Wedding House View in Flash View in QuickTime Ming Tombs View in Flash View in QuickTime Although I truly enjoyed this trip, I was actually looking forward to having my first snow experience. Alas, it just wasn't cold enough for one during the time we were there. VRs taken from December 13-17, 2007. The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Lawrence Casiraya INQUIRER.net IT was simply the hugest beach I have ever seen in my entire life. Boracay Beach isn't even half the size of the beachfront at Surfer's Paradise, the most popular stop in Gold Coast. This is how it looks like once you step into the beach at Surfer's Paradise. Notice how long the stretch of sand is before it breaks into the sea. The waves are simply astounding -- no wonder they call it Surfer's Paradise. I can spend an entire day just listening to the crashing waves. After much prodding, I had to take a dip. Lunita, a fellow journalist from Singapore and an avid surfer, said it's a must that anyone who visits the Coast should at least "be one" with the ocean by dipping one's feet in the water. Our plan was to get in the ocean but we got there late and it was a bloody cold spring night, and the strong waves made me think otherwise. The waves are so strong you need to be a strong swimmer or else the undertow might throw you back into the sea. For a while, I thought about Gold Coast as some sort of beach commune where after getting off from the bus, you can already jump into the sand and see surfers in action (and maybe ogle at girls in bikinis but like I said, it was already past 8 p.m. when we got there). Dead wrong. It was like this one big collection of hotels and skyscrapers by the beach. This is how the skyline looks like from the beach -- and that's just a small portion because it stretches along the coast. How we got there -- and why we missed the sunset -- is quite a story. Once the conference was over, there were three of us who decided on giving Gold Coast a go. The others wanted to see the kangaroo and koala sanctuary. No offense to them animals, but the idea sounded boring at that time. There's always Animal Planet, right? Brisbane Central Station to Gold Coast is about an hour and 15 minutes by train. But half an hour later, they cut the trip short because of an accident. So we got off along with this throng of people and from some station, we were herded into a bus to get to another train station. Finally after waiting for more than an hour, in the biting cold, a train finally arrived that would take us to Gold Coast. This is Lunita and Malovika (a journalist from India) on the train, still looking psyched to hit the beach despite the delay -- thus, missing the Gold Coast sunset. To get there, go down in Nerang station (fare from Central is around 10 Aussie dollars) and from there, a bus takes people straight to Surfer’s Paradise. We finally arrived around 8 p.m., just enough time for a quick McDonald’s dinner and a stroll on the beach. Less ideal without the sunset, we managed to take pictures anyway. The last train back to Brisbane is around 11 p.m., so that gave us about an hour to spend on Surfer's Paradise. Gold Coast makes for an excellent day trip -- catch the earliest train from Brisbane and then come back at night, ideally after getting yourself hammered with a few drinks on the beach. Surfer's Paradise is teeming with restaurants, bars and for aspiring surfers, almost every surf brand you know from Quiksilver to Billabong. Lunita even came back the next day to buy a second-hand surfboard. From how it looked, there are simply so many things to check out in Surfer's Paradise alone. One hour and some at Gold Coast was more than enough to convince me that this is one awesome place worthy of succeeding visits. �