Trends in Biobank and Genetics

A symposium with a title of “Trends in Biobank and Genetics” was conducted last 18th of July in the Shangri-La EDSA in Mandaluyong City. It was a seminar of Technidata in collaboration with St. Luke’s Medical Center Human Cancer Biobank.

The symposium was attended by the different Hospitals both private and government hospitals and research institutions. researchers, medical technologists, doctors and scientists took part in the seminar. The rain was pouring heavily in the morning and the traffic going to the hotel was really bad, but luckily the turn out of the participants was really high.
The first part was the introduction of the Technidata corporate profile by the General Manager, Ronan Mage. The second part was the Future in Cancer Genomics and Cancer Biobank by Dr. Daphne Ang of St. Luke’s Medical Center.  After the very highly anticipated talk of Dr. Ang was a snack break.

The third part was about TDGenetics of Technidata by Kristine Agustin, the Business Development Manager of Technidata before they proceed to the lunch break. After lunch, Carlo Fernandez, Technidata’s Senior Service Engineer talked about TDBiobank and had a demo. The last part of the seminar was a talk by Loraine Kay Cabral of St. Luke’s Medical Center.

The best part of the symposium was the sharing of knowledge and ideas with regards to biobank issues related to the industry and the problems that arise from the different laboratories on how to set up the facilities. The biobank is still new in the Philippines. There are many hospitals and researches who want to put up their biobank lab to preserve the different specimens to help researchers.

Camiguin Island

Planning a trip and booking a flight earlier has ups and downs. It is good to plan beforehand, where do you want to go, buy a ticket during seat sales and do some research about the popular tourist destination in the place. But one of the downsides of it is the weather condition especially nowadays due to climate change, you never know when will a low-pressure area be spotted in a certain place.

How to get to Camiguin Island

We had an early flight to Cagayan de Oro. We ate our breakfast at the Agora Bus terminal and rode a bus bound for a 3 hours drive to Balingoan Port, Misamis Oriental. Earlier that evening, a low-pressure area was spotted in the east of Hinatuan, Surigao del Norte according to PAG-ASA. It was not raining in Cagayan de Oro when we arrived, but as we get near Balingoan, it started to rain and had cloudy skies.
We arrived around 11AM at Balingoan Port, and we bought our ticket towards Benoni Port in Camiguin. There was a parked ferry boat in Balingoan. They told us that within thirty minutes the boat would sail to Camiguin. As passengers flocked the port, strong winds and heavy rain were seen outside the terminal. Locals of Camiguin assured as that there would be a ferry boat that would take us to our destination. Then we started to check our watches, and at 2PM, they decided to board us to the ferry amidst the strong winds and rough waters. While we were waiting for our boat to sail, a very huge wave struck us and the ferry went sideways towards the docks, slamming us to the side of the ferry. I got scared but looking at the locals, they seem calm. My friend and I decided that if ever the ferry was in its right position, we would go down and head back to Cagayan de Oro. The crew of the ferry where vigilant that they managed to turn the boat again to its docking position. We were about to go down but the ferry sailed to the waters toward Camiguin.
The boat ride was supposedly only 2 hours, but because of the LPA, we sailed at a very low paced. My worries about the weather altered when somewhere in the sea, I saw dolphins swimming. We arrived at Benoni Port at 6PM, where we don’t have a place to stay. It was supposedly a do-it-yourself trip, but due to unforeseen event and we were already tired, we decided to ride a van and told the driver to take us to Bahay Bakasyunan, an expensive resort in Mambajao.

Bahay Bakasyunan

Bahay Bakasyunan was really a very nice and cozy place to stay. The amenities were good and the staff was very friendly. We had our lunch in the bar, the room was spacious in a modern Nipa hut setting. My friend and I just laughed at what happened the whole day and decided to enjoy our stay in the resort. The following morning we availed of their van rental for the island tour.

White Island

The following day, it was still raining and cloudy. Our first stop after our breakfast was the White Island of Camiguin. We road a small boat near the famous Paras Beach Resort towards the island. The shape of the sand bar of White Island differs depending on the weather. When we got there, the waves were rough and we weren’t able to have a glimpse of the famous Mount Hibok Hibok from the island.

Katibawasan Falls

We headed to Katibawasan Falls, where raging waters were flowing from the top. It is one of the beautiful falls of the island.

We had our lunch J&A Fishpen, a fishing restaurant in Barangay Benon, Mahinog. We ordered seafood and fishes that could be seen and caught in Camiguin.

The driver asked us if we wanted to go to Mantigue Island, but because the coast was also from the side of Benoni Port, we decided not to try the rough waters there.

Santo Nino Cold Spring and Soda Water Park

Then we went to Santo Nino Cold Spring and the Soda Water Park.

After which we went to Guiob Church Ruins and view the Sunken Cemetery. The Guiob Church was damaged due to the volcanic eruption on May 13, 1871 while the cemetery was buried under water. The church was built from coral stones.

Mt. Hibok Hibok Ardent Hot Spring

We stayed in the Ardent Hot Spring for more than an hour to enjoy the benefits of the water from the hot spring coming from the mountain of Hibok Hibok.

Our last stop was the Vjandep bakeshop where we bought Camiguin’s famous pastel.
Sunday morning of February 13, the sun was up but it was time for us to head back to Cagayan de Oro, for us not to miss our flight in the evening to Manila.
For some people, it would have been a disaster trip. But not for me, I believed that it pushes me to my limits, that I can brace all the storms. I was reminded of one of the travel quotes I read somewhere..replace the fear of the unknown with curiosity. And when the time comes, I might head back to Camiguin again, to experience it with the sun, and to view the four stratovolcanoes within the island..and to get the chance to explore the Mantigue Island, the one we skipped from our island tour.
And up until now, I never stop having my adventures.

 

A Summer in the United States of America

The United State of America was not part of my bucket list. I only want to go there because of studying. In 2004,I was admitted in Central USA to pursue a Masters Degree and the second time was in 2017 when I applied for EMBA with scholarship. I did not pursue both. Maybe studying there was not really for me.
Last year I joined being a mentor for the New York Academy of Sciences in New York City. Somehow, I knew I would be going to the USA for the GSA Summit, an event for mentees and mentors every summer. I asked for assistance with an invitation letter last March and interviewed last 7th of May. After 3 days, my passport arrived with a multiple 10 years entry visa to the US of A.

I started planning for the trip on where I should go first. My initial plan was to stay on the East Coast. I was only planning to meet my friends from New York and New Jersey. I asked a friend to help me find a hotel there but he offered his place for me to stay during my New York trip. He started planning for us to go to Washington D.C. and stay a night in Virginia. He also told me to visit our friend in Dallas.
So I contemplated on where to go and then after a week, I asked some friends and they offered their place for me to stay. I chose to stay longer with my long lost closest friend from my F days, and then meet other friends separately. I filed a leave from work, finalized the days where I would be staying and when to meet friends and bought my ticket. The flights were Manila – New York – Dallas Fort Worth – Los Angeles – Manila from July 20 to Aug 5.


I arrived at my first destination at the wee hours of the morning at John F. Kennedy Airport. I took a cab and the taxi was caught by NYPD because of beating the red light. It was scorching hot when I arrived because of the heatwave and my friend Chester toured me to the City on a 94 Fahrenheit weather. I would give the details of the places I went to in another post and when I was alone. I also met Karen, my favorite client from UPMSI and Patriz’s family, one of our classmates in UST Chem.

I attended the GSA Summit and met those people who organized the event, the different STEM mentees and their parents. I attended a seminar with Josh Henkins. I met so many wonderful people like Ann, Adrienne and many others.
I got lost while traveling alone, but it was easy to find my way in Manhattan. I saw so many different places in New York, enjoyed my time and the city. Enjoyed walking, the subway and the bus. I love the Museum Mile and Central Park where the apartment was located.


On the following weekend, we went to Washington D.C. to explore. Going to Washington, the bus needs to go through the highways of New Jersey and Maryland. We spent the night in Virginia and went back again to New York the following day.
When I was having fun being a New Yorker for almost 8 days, and I had to leave the city already. On July 29th, it was time for me to go to Dallas Fort Worth Airport.


Texas is like a laid-back place that is a part of Central America. It has a different vibe from New York City. Well, Texas is so huge that I feel I could be lost and I could not find my way back home. Every cities and town I saw had their distinct beauty. What I love most in Texas was the old and historical McKinney and the museums.
I reconnected with my old friends Beah, Louvette and Robert and meet different people like May, Ted, Marissa and Mitchell and the whole family of Beah.

My friends decided where we should go. The best plan is when you have no plans at all and everything turned out well. Although there were some bumps in the road or should I say expected things that didn’t happen. It was a summer worth remembering.

I would like to thank all of my wonderful friends who managed their precious time to be with me, for letting me crashed their homes for a while, for those who had to take their days off and had to travel 1 to 3 hours to join me with my trip. Thanks to all the friends who sent me messages to meet them, I’d like to travel to different states but there will be next time. And just in case I decided not to come back. I already went to the East Coast and Central. I had a glimpsed of West Coast thru Lax Airport. I fell in love with America with its chaos and silence. I fell in love in America.

Penang Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour

I tried the Hop-on Hop-off in Penang, Malaysia when I visited last 2016. This was my experience during the tour. There may be changes already as it has been three years already.

It is a double-decker bus tour throughout Penang Island that has two pick-up points – CITY and BEACH routes. The different routes cover the most popular and visited attractions on the island including the beautiful landmarks of Georgetown, a UNESCO cultural heritage and the second famous destination Batu Feringghi.

Where to avail tickets

The 24-hour ticket cost 45 Malaysian Ringgit. The tour goes by the Hop-on Hop-off concept at any designated stop with the choice of the ticket validity for 24-hours or 48-hours or a single trip.  You can buy the ticket on the double-decker bus; Gurney Drive (Stop 1) counter and in Chowrasta (Stop 7) counter; in authorized agents and authorized hotels. Make sure to get a brochure of the Hop-on Hop-off Bus to have a detailed schedule and information about the tour. The brochures are found on the bus and on the counters.

City Route

There are 8 stops for the City Route. The different City stops are Gurney Drive, Penang Hill, Komtar, Chowrasta, UNESCO Heritage, Cruise and Francis Light Tomb (Stop 7). The schedule time for the City route may also depend on bad weathers, road closures and traffic congestion, especially during peak hours and weekends.

There are so many popular landmarks for the City route. The most visited are Gurney Plaza, Gurney Hawker, Botanical Garden, Penang Hill, Kek Lok Si Temple, Komtar Mall, Chowrasta Market, George Town UNESCO World Heritage City, China Town, Little India, The Goddes of Mercy (Kuan Yin Temple), Clan Jetty, Penang Ferry Terminal, Tanjung City Marina, Victoria Memorial Clock Tower, Penang Town Hill, Fort Cornwallis, Penang Museum & Art Gallery, St. George Church, Cheong Fatt Tze (Blue Mansion), Dharmikarama Burmese Temple and many others.

Beach Route

The pick-up point and the first and last stop of the Beach route are in Gurney Drive. There’s a schedule time for the beach route. The 10 stops for the Beach route are Gurney Drive, Straight Quay ,Flamingo, Miami Beach, Holiday Inn, Golden Sands, Hard Rock, Tropical Spice and, Entopia (Stop 15). From Taman Rimba, the bus will make a U-Turn going back to the different stops and the bus will interchange again in Gurney Drive.

There are 18 attractions for the Beach route. The destinations are Straits Quay Lighthouse Mall, Flamingo, Miami Beach, Holiday Inn, Batu Ferringghi Beach, Hard Rock Café, Tropical Spice Garden, Teluk Bahang Fishing Village, Penang National Park, Pantai Keratchut, Bt. Kerajaan Forest Reserve, Batik Factory, Toy Museum, Escape, Entopia Butterfly Farm, Taman Rimba, Teluk Bahang Dam and Teluk Bahang Forest Reserve.

 

Sightseeing from Hop-on Hop-off Bus City Tour

I waited at the Penang Time Square Mall (Stop 05) and availed the 24-hour ticket since my hotel was near the area. Since I already had my walking tour in Georgetown, I decided to tour it by bus and to see the different places from the top.  But the main reason I went for this tour was going to Penang Hill and to tour the Beach routes.

Penang Hill is the second stop (Stop 02).  It is the oldest British hill station in Southeast Asia way back late 1700’s.  The highest peak stands at 833 meters above sea level.  The funicular service started in October 2013 and the existing train is the 4th generation system which started in April of 2011.  The Penang Hill funicular tunnel is 79 meters long and 3 meters wide with the steepness of 27.9 deg.  It is the steepest tunnel track in the world.

Penang Hill offers a panoramic view of the city.  At the summit, there is a flower garden, a mini bird park, and owl museum, bungalows, guesthouses, love-lock area, old train, restaurant and the historic Bellevue Hotel.  The ride is every 15 minutes going down and going up. I went there during the day, but Penang Hills offer a different view during night time.

I ate at the highest restaurant in Penang Hill called The Summit.    I also went to the two temples around Penang Hill.

After which I again traveled the City tour of the hop-on and hop off.  I had a look at Kek Lok Si from afar, the State Mosque on the right side.    I alighted at Gurney Drive Stop 01 to transfer to the Beach route bus.

Exploring the Hop-on Hop-off Beach Tour

From the bus ride, I saw Strait Quays, Masjid Terapung, Miami Beach, the gates going to the National Park and Tamban Rimba where the Teluk Bahang Dam and Teluk Bahang Forest Reserve were located.

I went down to Tropical Spice (Stop 19) and lingered at the white sand beach around the area.  It was also called Teluk Bahang Fishing Village.  I enjoyed a meal in the fishing village. At the far end are rock formations overlooking Batu Ferringhi at the left side.  I went to Hard Rock Café to check the store and went to Batu Ferringhi.

Batu Ferringhi is the most popular beach area because of its winding stretch of the sandbar.  Water sports are available in the area.  Different restaurants, shops, hotels and hostels are found in the area.  I explored the long stretch of the white sandy beach of Batu Ferringhi. I waited for sunset in the area while watching the different water sports activities in the area. I also enjoyed the view while I sat at the sand.

While waiting for the bus I checked out the night market. When the bus arrived, it was already night time and I enjoyed the cool breeze from the top of the double-decker. We were dropped off at Gurney Drive. You can also see the Gurney Plaza and the Gurney Drive Hawkers food stall.

I explored the different hawker’s food stall and bought Satay or Marinated Meat Skewers and Char kway teow or stir-fried rice cake strips. The Gurney Hawkers offers delicious hawker food in Penang Malaysia.

Ayala and Yuchengco Museums

Since it’s the International Museum Day, I’d write about the other two museums I like. If you’re in Makati are, there are two museums that are worthy to visit, Ayala Museum and Yuchengco Museum.

Yuchengco Museum

Yuchengco Museum is located at the RCBC Plaza in Ayala Avenue corner Gil Puyat Avenue.


There is an interactive Samsung Digital Gallery, Likhang Pinay, The Rizal Gallery, Yuchengco Gallery and the Art Gallery during the time I visited. Some of the exhibit change depending on the theme. There are different activities also that you can check on their website: https://yuchengcomuseum.org/

Ayala Museum

Ayala Museum is located at Greenbelt. The whole museum was restricted in taking pictures. What I like the most in Ayala Museum was the gallery of golds and the rich history of the Philippines as one of the producers of gold. There were other exhibits like the Fernando Zobel, Indigenous Textile, Ceramics and Philippine’s collection of garments. Some of the galleries exhibit also change depending on the theme.

Ayala Museum is offering free admission on May 19th with this year’s theme is “Museums as Cultural Hubs: The Future of Tradition.” They are highlighting the role of museums in the respective communities. Ayala Museum will be closed for renovation later this month. For more information check out their website: http://www.ayalamuseum.org/

National Heritage Month: Visit a Museum

The island of the Philippines is rich in culture and had a very captivating history.  Where else should we go to discover our cultural heritage and cultural awareness?

It is the Philippine’s National Heritage Month this May.  On the 18th of May is the International Museum Day.  You can also check for free admission for the whole month of May on our government-owned museums in the country, not just the National Museum in Manila and Planetarium including those in other regions: Vigan, Kiangan, Kabayan, Angono-Binangonan Petroglyphs, Tabaco, Bohol, Butuan and  Jolo (Sulu). There are other events in other Museums found on the website of the National Museum.

I went to the National Museum of the Filipino People in Rizal Park. I was able to see the different exhibits such as: Baybayin, Hibla nang Lahing Filipino, Biodiversity and Rice, Lumad, Kaban ang Lahi: Archeological Treasure, Gallery of Women, San Diego Exhibit and many others.  Some parts of the Museum were closed for renovation.

There were not so many visitors during my visit.  There were some students and families who were inside.  I would like to advise people to read the information regarding the displays in the exhibit.  We don’t just look at them but we also need to learn and know about the history, artifacts, archaeological collection, natural cultural treasures and fine arts.

We just don’t go there because it’s where most people post on their Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter or other social media platform.  We go there to unravel chronicles about our own country.  They were preserved for a purpose, for the next generation to see what happened in our past.

Lucban Pahiyas Festival

Pahiyas Festival is a yearly festival in honor of San Isidro de Labrador for the good harvest of the town in Lucban, Quezon.   Every 15th of May the creativity differs from house to house with colorful kipings, anok, different fruits, vegetables, root crops and rice barn, woven hats and other native products, delicacies and food that originated from Lucban.

Lucbanin (locals of Lucban) prepares for the festival at the start of the year.  The municipality gives the route map where the festival will take place. A normal Lucbanin asks “Daan ba sa atin?”  This means if Pahiyas would pass by their street.

The household on the street included in the route map will think of their payas (much often used by Lucbanin) or design of the house.

Kiping is a leaf-shaped wafer of flake made of rice. It is molded in a big leaf from “kabal.”  The colorful kipings are prepared every day because it takes time for the leaves to dry. The famous ‘arangya’ or chandeliers of different colors, needs a lot of kiping.  Arangya, depending on the size can reach the ceiling of the second floor down to the first floor of the house. Or sometimes even up to the third floor of the house. Other decorations can be made using kiping like flowers, orchids, wallpapers, and other artworks. Kiping of different colors are also edible and it is cook by grilling or frying it.

Harvested fruits, vegetables, root crops and rice barns are also used as decorations.  Woven hats or bags and other native products will also be seen as an ornament. “Anok” is a miniature dummy of the mannequin of people, usually farmer. The anok are used as decorations accompanied by a miniature of a life-size carabao.

The food during the occasion are kalderetang kalabaw, hardinera, embotido, pansit habhab or pansit lucban, longganisang lucban, kesong puti, kinulob and other food for the visitors. Delicacies are seen at the table like pinais, suman, halayang ube, budin, broas, meringue, puto seko etc.

On the 14th of May or sometimes earlier, is the start of decorating the front house.  Between 11AM to 2PM, the judges start checking the houses. The prizes include Grand Prize, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Special Awards, Ginintuang Butil, Best Arangya and other consolation awards

One of the highlights of Pahiyas is the “Parikitan.” In the afternoon, tourists wait for the parade of muses and escorts wearing native costumes and accessories, different floats with carabaos, higantes and the procession of San Isidro Labrador. Awards will also be given during this time.

After the mass at the San Luis Church, you can drop by in the Tiangge outside the church and streets near the church where you can buy different products and pasalubong from Lucban.

At night, there’s a competition for the Best in Lights for the Pahiyas Festival at Night. The lights enhance the vibrant decoration during the night.

For other post about Lucban, please check Kamay ni Hesus

Why Cebu?

This is my favorite province. If you read my blog, I’d been featuring different locations here, and still, there’s a lot to explore.

Why Cebu?

Sugar Beach, Bantayan Island

I’d been to the different cities and towns in Cebu like Cebu City, Mandaue City, Lapu-Lapu City, Talisay, Bantayan Island, Danao, Camotes Island, Malapascua Island, San Remigio, Daanbantayan, Carmen, Oslob and Samboan and the most recent is Moalboal.

Dako Island, Moalboal

Where to go in Cebu

For starters, tour the city first, from the famous Sinulog Festival every January, a visit to the oldest church of Basilica Minore del Sto Nino, Magellan’s Cross, Fort San Pedro and Taoist Temple.

Malapascua Island

The different islands and towns promote numerous activities. But it depends on what you want, like diving, island tours, trekking and canyoneering falls, mountain climbing, watching whale sharks, viewing the heritage sites.

San Remigio

Name it Cebu has it. It just depends on what you want to see and what to do. It is the best place for Lechon, seafood, the famous Larsian food stall and the Lantaw restaurant with a view of the city.

Camotes Island

My favorite destination is Bantayan Island, my first love, but overall Cebu is worth your time, money and memories.

For the next posts, I will concentrate on the Visayas area, most especially about Cebu. It is my favorite province, a province with all my favorite destinations. Cebu will never get old to travel, I’d been here for the nth time, either for work or vacation.

You can also check my post about Bantayan Island

Philippine Carnival called Perya

We are all young at heart. We always have “the kid” in us. We will never forget our childhood memories. And one of the notable events in my life was spending it in a carnival or in the Philippines we called it “Perya”.

Perya

It is not the usual carnival in other places, the Philippines has a different carnival. There are rides, and shows and other spectacular event but mostly the highlight of Perya is the games we play. The carnival is all set during the town, barangay or barrio fiesta. They occupy a certain portion of land, usually near a park where the organizers set up their different rides and games and stalls.

There are so many different rides. What I love the most are a roller coaster and the Ferris Wheel rides.

Perya Games

But I really go to Perya because of the color games. There’s a board where there are six different colors and you will bet on any color and the three dices will roll. If one color appears, it will double your money, if 2 color appears, it will triple your money and if the three dices show one color, it will quadruple your money. It’s also betting and gambling, the more you’re hooked, the more that the winning money you got would be spent, unless you stop. Or normally you’d stop when all the money was drained. But nevertheless, the Perya only comes every year if there’s a Fiesta and if the town, barangay or the barrio allows it.


There’s the game where you toss a coin and when you get a spot where there’s prize they will give it to you. Most prizes are like glass, cups, plates, figurines, candles, small stuff toys to big ones.

And there’s the famous BINGO, a game of numbers in the card. A game that most Filipinos love to play. It’s actually a game of luck, in what numbers will be out of the “tambiola” from 1-75. And you need to form a certain formation to win – diagonal, box, vertical, horizontal. And if you do, you’d say BINGO. It means that you won.
So after draining the money out of your pocket, remember to save some for there are streets food that’s lined up during the night. Here’s a Perya from my trip in Calauag, Quezon.
To know more about Calauag check my other post: Calauag, Quezon

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A Fairytale Life Underwater

In the world of imagination, children dream of living a fairy tale. In reality, there’s the mermaid academy. Yes, there are swimming schools for those who want to be like Ariel, the heroine of the movie The Little Mermaid, or, closer to home, Jezebel.

Being a mermaid is not all about carousing in the water among the coral reefs and schools of fish, as Ariel does with her long colorful hair trailing her. It also means learning the basic strokes of gliding and moving underwater with legs enclosed in a 2-kg mermaid tail, movements that also happen to work out the core abdominal muscles, the lower back, legs and entire upper body.

That is why being a mermaid takes training, and an aspiring mermaid or merman, as the male counterpart, can enroll at the Philippine Mermaid Swimming Academy which was founded in Boracay but also has sites in Manila and Cebu.

Indeed, mermaid training is challenging work. At the PSMA, the different lessons last from 90 minutes to five hours long, depending on the level. The first lessons include familiarization with the mermaid tail, a safety briefing, learning the four basic swim strokes and breathing techniques and also practicing these skills in three-meter deep waters.

Scuba Mermaid – Photo by Paulo Violas, permission granted by PSMA

Advanced swimming lessons specialize in breathing and equalizing techniques, rescue exercises, various underwater mermaid tricks, bubble and blowing in a depth of 10 meters of water.

A certificate card from the International Mermaid Swimming Instructors Association is given during the introduction and the advanced levels.

Other lessons include free-diving basic techniques, performance mermaid and scuba mermaid. These three require a Professional Association of Diving Instructors Certification or a Free Diver certificate from the International Association for Development of Apnea.

For those who are afraid of the water but still want to capture a perfect mermaid moment, the Academy offers a mermaid photo opportunity. For 30 minutes, PSMA teaches the student how to pose like a pro. Fees include the tail rental and directed photo shoot on dry sand and in knee-deep sea water.

The growing number of mermaid and merman enthusiasts has prompted the celebration of the first-ever International Mermaid Day on March 29 and March is the mermaid month.

All photos were granted permission from PSMA. For inquiries, you can check the website:

Philippine Mermaid Swimming Academy 

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