December 22, 2015

#SupportLokalPH: Perfect Mushrooms | Kabutehan

Recently, I've been discovering a number of local (i.e. Filipino) independent businesses. Some of them I've discovered online (on Facebook or on Instagram), others in bazaars. I realize how challenging it is for them to compete with the global market--just look at the shops in our malls and you'll see that most of the brands are from foreign companies ("local" businesses are usually re-sellers na lang)--so in my own little way, I would like to help promote their brand by featuring some of my favorite purchases in this blog.

Perfect Mushrooms

Training and Seminars | Fruiting bags | Growing technical support | Fresh Gourmet Mushrooms | Grower's Kit Mushroom Chili Sauce™

(Official Website: http://perpektongkabute.com/)



I've always been a fan of mushrooms. And recently, I've been a fan of chili (read this and/or this) as well. So when an officemate of mine shared a recent discovery of chili mushrooms, I was quick to inquire and order a few for myself.

Perfect Mushrooms' main goal is to educate enterprising individuals on how to grow their own mushroom farm, encouraging sustainability and the entrepreneurial spirit. They regularly hold mushroom farming workshops and sell mushroom starter packs for those who are interested.

Personally, I do not care for growing or selling mushrooms, but when I read that they have their own mushroom products to sell, I immediately became interested. 

This Christmas, Perfect Mushroom partnered with Kabutehan
to create a special Christmas Package worth 450 PhP (for both bottles)

December 11, 2015

Urban Gardening: Growing Tomatoes (Part 3)

For your reference, here is a list of entries under the Urban Gardening series:



Alas, my tomato plants have died. :(

At first I thought that the leaves were drying up due to insufficient watering...
...but even when I watered the plants everyday the wilting won't stop...
...I eventually decided to sacrifice my plants
so I can use the space for more hardy plant varieties.

Lessons Learned:

  • Know your seeds. I think, my main mistake was that I attempted to propagate a tomato plant from the seeds of a store-brought tomato. Yes, those seeds will sprout and the plant will grow, but chances are that tomato variety was bred for harvesting, and not for breeding. Safe bet: Buy seed packets and use them for planting.
  • Give your tomatoes room to grow. Even if you are planting a determinate (i.e. container) variety (vs. the indeterminate i.e. vine variety), tomato roots plant deep and wide. This was what I discovered while I was cleaning up the dead roots from my container. It was my mistake to try to cram up four plants in one pot. One tomato plant per 5-gallon container is the ideal.
  • Stake early. Putting a stake beside the plant as it is growing, even if you haven't tied them together, is safer than driving a stake down an almost mature plant as you might risk damaging the root
  • Prune as necessary. If you neglect the suckers forming on corner of your plant's stems, they may grow into another "main" stem, which will take some energy away from the original main stem. At the height of maturity, my tomato plants looked really bushy and disheveled because all the suckers I ignored.
  • Consider manually pollinating the flowers if yours won't. My tomato plant bloomed a LOT of flowers, but none of them got pollinated into fruition. I've read that tomato flowers require a specific temperature window for it to pollinate, and if not, the gardener can manually shake the flowers to distribute the pollen. I haven't tried it, but I think I should have.

I don't know if I will be planting tomatoes again in the future. As it turned out, they were a bit high maintenance, much more than I expected. I've still got some herbs growing in my garden, maybe for now I'll stick to that.

December 10, 2015

How To Apply for a Japan Tourist Visa [LAST UPDATED: August 24, 2015]

Aside from the Backpacking Korea package tour, I also availed Travel Factor's Backpacking Japan.  A Philippine Passport holder needs a Japan visa in order to enter the country, but I had NO visa to begin with.  So, part of my checklist for preparing for that trip was to apply for one.

Applying for a Korean Visa vs. Applying for a Japan Visa

Based from my experience, the major difference between the two is that you cannot personally apply for a Japan visa.  It has to course through an accredited travel agency.  They will send the documents in your behalf, and you will have to claim the results from them as well.

Another difference is that, part of the requirements to applying for a Japan visa is a Daily Schedule ("TAIZAI NITTEIHYOU" in Romaji).  This is basically a formal itinerary of your planned trip to Japan.  This will be easy if you are availing a package tour, or perhaps a business trip, since the schedule will most definitely be provided.  However, if you are going there on your own or maybe to visit a friend, then perhaps you need to do a little more work researching on the places you need to go during your trip.

And since we're already on the topic of requirements, might as well proceed with it...

THE REQUIREMENTS
  1. Philippine Passport. Must be valid for at least six (6) months from the travel date and has at least two (2) blank pages.
  2. Visa Application Form.  Travel Factor emailed the form to us as part of their assistance in applying for the visa, but you may also download the PDF copy of the form here.
  3. Visa Application Photo.  There is a specific standard for these photos; the most basic of which is that the size of the photo should be 4.5 cm x 4.5cm.  Use a white background for this photo. (Update: A 2x2 ID photo is acceptable as well)
  4. NSO copy of Birth Certificate.  They will only accept copies that were requested within one year from the application.  For those who don't have time to apply for their birth certificates personally, you may order them online. (Update: For those with a previous Japanese Visa--regardless if from an old passport or not--this requirement is no longer needed)

  5. Date of Issue is encircled in red.

  6. Marriage contract (if married).  I don't need this requirement, but FYI you can also request for it online(Update: For those with a previous Japanese Visa--regardless if from an old passport or not--this requirement is no longer needed)
  7. Bank certificate original. I was advised that the appropriate balance in your account should be a minimum of 200,000 PhP.
  8. Income Tax Return certified true copy, if possible.  This is the BIR form 2316, filed on the year of your application.  You may have it certified by your company payroll officer, if you are employed.
  9. Daily Schedule in Japan (TAIZAI NITTEIHYOU). This was discussed in the previous section.  Ours was just a printout of what was sent to us via e-mail. (Update: A sample of the document can be downloaded here)
  10. Optional requirements are as follows:
    • Certificate of Employment. Include period of employment and salary.
    • Proof of Business Ties in the Philippines. Examples are Articles of Incorporation, DTI Registration, etc.
    • Other Proof of Financial Capability. Examples are Land Title/s, Vehicle Registration/s, Stock Certificate/s, etc.  I submitted certificates from various investment plans from PhilAm life.
    • Credit Card Billings
Rule of thumb: In applying for Japan visa, they are particular with your financial security as a visitor.  Whereas in applying for Korean visa, they are particular with how well-travelled you are.


25 Things to Do In the Philippines [UPDATED]

Hey--I just realized that Bacolod is in Iloilo, ergo should've crossed out #25 a looooooooong time ago.

** This being a working list; thankfully I am still able to cross out a few more. :)


Got this from INQ.NET.  Not sure if this is THE list, but it wouldn't hurt to try out things listed here.
-----
1. Go white water rafting in Cagayan de Oro.

2. Visit Batanes.

3. See Mt. Mayon up close.

4. Swim with the whale sharks in Donsol.

5. Climb Mt. Pulag and be awed by its sea of clouds.

6. Dive, swim and explore Palawan’s underground river.

7. Hike and let the view of Mt. Pinatubo crater take your breath away.

8. Party in your bikini in Boracay.

9. Surf’s up! Choose your wave—La Union, Zambales or Real, Quezon.

10. Missed out on the pristine beauty of Boracay 15 years ago? Visit Malapascua, Cebu.

11. Dive and see the rich marine life of Anilao, Batangas.

12. Travel back in time—go to Vigan.

13. Let Bohol wow you with its many offerings—the Chocolate Hills, the tarsier, the Loboc River Cruise, old churches and the beach.
(except for the beach)

14. Go high! Drive to the Mountain Province of Sagada. Check out the caves, the hanging coffins and enjoy the laidback lifestyle.

15. Grab a Viaje del Sol map, visit Ugu Binyan’s pottery studio, eat at Kusina Salud and unwind at Casa San Pablo.


#SupportLokalPH: Wanderskye | Bags by Rubbertree

Recently, I've been discovering a number of local (i.e. Filipino) independent businesses. Some of them I've discovered online (on Facebook or on Instagram), others in bazaars. I realize how challenging it is for them to compete with the global market--just look at the shops in our malls and you'll see that most of the brands are from foreign companies ("local" businesses are usually re-sellers na lang)--so in my own little way, I would like to help promote their brand by featuring some of my favorite purchases in this blog.

A couple of weeks ago, I was (finally!) able to experience autumn in Japan. Since my return, I was only able to upload a few VSCO Cam photos to my Flickr accout, but then work demanded that I spend some quality time with it now that I'm back home. Hopefully I am able to blog (or at least photoblog) about my trip before the year ends.

2015-11-27 09.55.38 1
One of my favorite photos from my "mobile phone" category.
Hooray for high resolution cellphone cameras and filter apps!

ANYWAY. What was I supposed to talk about? Oh, yes. My travel bags.

Planning for this trip happened way back in the middle of this year, when I've been canvassing for sturdy bags and travel accessories to use; stuff that will withstand the stress during flights and train transfers from city to city. My first bag-related purchase started with Exonomad, which I bought for its rugged properties, but mainly because I wanted to showcase Filipino indigenous fabric as I travel (picture below, bottom left).


My next purchase (picture above, center)  after that was influenced by the opening scene of That Thing Called Tadhana, when Angelica Panganiban's character was perusing the contents of her luggage for things to dispose because her baggage was overweight. Her luggage had this cover, and I was instantly drawn to its design and color. Thanks to social media, I was able to trace the brand of the luggage cover used. Guess what? It's locally made!