Friday, November 1, 2013

Fort Bonifacio War Tunnel

Last August 2013, I-Witness (of GMA News TV) did a documentary on the Fort Bonifacio War Tunnel. Here's a brief excerpt of the write-up for the documentary:

Bonifacio Global City is a bustling megacity at the heart of Metro Manila. It is a fast-developing commercial and residential hub, with skyscrapers sprouting everywhere.  But amidst the modern developments lie a secret rich in history.  Deep beneath the concrete roads is an underground labyrinth of tunnels…remnants of the city’s military past, when it was called Fort McKinley.

In 1941 General Douglas McArthur ordered the construction of an underground aerial bombing-free Air Warning Service of the Army Air Force. But two months after its construction, the Japanese bombed Fort McKinley and the headquarters above the tunnel was obliterated. In 1942, the Japanese entered Manila.

And here's the link to the video:

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Review: Fitbit Zip

I'd been thinking of getting a pedometer just to see how active, or should I say, inactive I am on work days when I am usually desk bound. For this purpose, I recently got a Fitbit Zip

The Zip is the "entry-level" Fitbit. It's basically a glorified pedometer in that it's only able to track your steps (it can't distinguish between flat surfaces and stairs), the distance you cover, the calories you burn and your "active" minutes (i.e. the times when you are doing cardio workouts and high intensity activities like jogging and running). The higher-end Fitbit models track stairs and even your sleep.

To navigate around the Zip, you just tap your fingers on the screen and it will change to show the following: time-number of steps-distance-calories burned.

As shown below, the package comes with the following:

1. The Zip itself;
2. A clip/case/pouch (which you can clip on to various pieces of clothing);
3. A 3V coin battery;
4. A battery door tool (basically, a contraption which you can use to open the battery compartment of the Zip so you can put in, remove or change the battery); and
5. A wireless sync dongle (to connect the Zip to your computer, whether PC or Mac).

To get started, I had to set up the Fitbit Connect software which you can download here.

Then, I was asked to input my personal information and connect the wireless sync dongle to a USB port in my computer so it can "pair" with my Zip.

Voila, I was now ready to go. I could already wirelessly sync the data from my Zip to my computer. To view the information collected by the Zip, however, I had to log on to The Fitbit Connect's only purposes are set up and sync the Zip.

When you log on to Fitbit, you will see the Dashboard, which contains the same information from the Zip but presented in a very nice visual format: number of steps, distance covered, calories burned. In addition, you can see the information not only for the day, but for the past days. You are also encouraged to input your weight and the food you eat.

Fitbit also has  iOS and Android apps which will enable the Zip to sync data to phones via bluetooth. Note, however, that support for Android devices is limited. Right now, it's basically just Samsung phones/tablets and only the Galaxy S3, S4, Note II and Note 10.1. For example, I have a Nexus 7 and I was able to install the Fitbit app there. However, I can't sync the Zip with the Nexus 7. What happens is that if I sync to my iPhone 4S or my desktop, the information uploaded by the Zip finds its way to the Nexus 7.

Personally, I love having the Zip. It has made me realize that in some days, I barely move from my desk. It thus serves to remind me to step out, walk around a bit to clear my head (and increase my steps) so I'm not too far off from my daily goal. Also, I like the fact that Fitbit sends a weekly e-mail summarizing my achievements (or inactivity) for the week. It gives badges when you first take 5,000 steps or 10,000 steps to encourage you further. It also has a social feature which allows you to "invite" friends in the hope that you can prod or egg each other on.

I would like to point out some cons, however:

1. There's a chance that the Zip will slip out of the clip. When wearing jeans or slacks, I suggest to put the Zip inside your pocket or clip it to the pockets with the Zip facing inside, like this:

2. The screen of the Zip is not too responsive to tapping. Sometimes, it takes 2-3 taps before the screen changes to show the next info.

3. There is no authorized distributor in the Philippines which means, if something goes wrong with your Zip, you can basically kiss it goodbye. In fact, the Philippines is not yet one of the countries you can pick on the drop-down menu when you set up your personal information. C'mon Fitbit, is it so hard to just include all countries in the menu?

P.S.  While I got my Fitbit outside the country,  I've seen a few sellers over at Sulit selling some of the models. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

My first attempt to vote in Taguig

I was up early last 13 May 2013. Anticipating traffic, I rode a tricycle to my assigned precinct. A precinct, for those unfamiliar with Philippine elections, is usually a classroom in a public school, or a gymnasium, or whatever other public structure is available.

The tricycle was no longer allowed to enter a few hundred meters from the precinct so I walked. This was the sight that greeted me.

My precinct was inside Ususan Elementary School. This is the view from the gate of the school. Yes, at 8:00am, there were already that many voters trying to exercise their right to vote.

After checking with PPRCV volunteers, I found out that my precinct was on the 2nd floor of the school. The lines were so long for the precincts that it reached all the way to the stairs leading to the 2nd floor.

Once you reached the top of the stairs, there is another line on the hallway. The line on one side is for one precinct, the line on the other side is for another.

And after progressing further, the reward: yes, even more lines.

The culprit? The PCOS machine broke down and the COMELEC officials didn't quite know how to fix it.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The controversy about SM Aura

According to ABS-CBN News, there is a brewing legal battle over road access inside BGC, particularly affecting the newly-opened SM Aura:

Traffic jams greeted consumers checking out SM Aura in Taguig.
It's not just because there are too many cars trying to park but more because its connection to Ayala's Fort Bonifacio through McKinley Parkway is closed.

On one side of the dispute is Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), which is Ayala's partner in Fort Bonifacio.

On the other is the Taguig local government.

BCDA donated 40 hectares of the old military base to Taguig for a civic center, but Taguig leased the property to SM Prime in exchange for building the civic center within SM Aura.
BCDA said the mall shouldn't be there but civic-oriented facilities, unless the donation agreement is amended.

SM tried to pave the road as Aura's opening neared, but BCDA stopped them.

Here is ANC's report:

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Taguig declared an "area of immediate concern"

According to GMA News (and confirmed by Rappler), Taguig has now been declared an "area of immediate concern":

Vote wisely, everyone and be safe!

Soon to open: Savemore in Acacia Estates

Last January, I wrote about SM and DMCI's plan to open a Savemore branch inside Acacia Estates in Taguig.

Here's an update on the construction:

It looks like it'll be opening soon :)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Wellcome at McKinley Hill

In my quest for groceries in Taguig, I stumbled upon one called Wellcome:

It's located in the ground floor of Megaworld's Stamford Executive Residences, which lies within the McKinley Hill area. There's parking along the building and in a small parking area in front, but it's not free - they charge Php 30.00 pesos.

According to Wikipedia, Wellcome "is a supermarket chain owned by Jardine Matheson Holdings via its Dairy Farm subsidiary. The Wellcome supermarket chain is one of the two largest supermarket chains in Hong Kong."  Based on reports, Jardine Matheson Holdings partnered with (and purchased shares in) Rustan's Supercenters, Inc., which operates Shopwise and Rustan's supermarkets.

The Wellcome branch in McKinley Hill is not big. It's comparable in size to Rustan's Fresh in Greenbelt 1 or a Puregold Jr.-type of grocery.

There are only about 11 aisles which are a bit narrow. The selection limited. In other words, it's for everyday needs, sort of like a bigger 7-11.

I learned from the staff that they only opened last April 12. And when I was there, the aircon wasn't working so let's just say I made my way out fast.

When I first moved to Taguig 3 years ago, one of my main complaints was the lack of supermarkets (apart from the one inside Market! Market! and S&R). As a result, I've tried to keep track of groceries which have opened since then, in various parts of Taguig. Here are the others I found:

Puregold Taguig near Taguig City Hall

Thursday, February 28, 2013

How I Became a Taguig Voter

The deluge of campaign ads reminded me that there are only 74 days until the 2013 national and local elections.

It also prompted me to check if I am finally a registered voter here in Taguig, since last 22 October 2011, I participated in COMELEC-Taguig's Voter's Registration drive in our neighborhood.

In the designated area, the COMELEC required us to present a valid ID, which may be any of the following: 

(1) Postal ID;
(2) Police clearance;
(3) Driver's license;
(4) Current employment ID with signature of employer;
(5) Senior citizen's ID;
(6) GSIS ID;
(7) Integrated Bar of the Philippines ID; or
(8) Student ID or library card signed by school authorities.

I went to the designated area and filled up the application form, which, for those familiar with passport and driver's license applications, now requires taking your biometrics.   

After biometrics, I was given an Acknowledgment Receipt which said that I will not be registered until my application is approved by the Election Registration Board which scheduled a hearing on 16 January 2012 for the purpose. Presumably, the hearing is for anyone who may want to contest my application. I was told that I need not appear in the hearing unless I receive a written notice.

One year and 4 months from my application, I still hadn't heard from COMELEC. Since the prospect of going to COMELEC's Taguig office at the City Hall Building Annex (Tel. No. (02) 542-3996 for those interested) wasn't too appetizing, I tried to find alternative ways to confirm my registration. In my search, I discovered that COMELEC has a Precinct Finder facility. Using this, I was able to confirm that I am now, finally, a registered voter of Taguig's precinct no. 0921B. 

Now comes the harder part - finding candidates worthy of my vote ;-)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Savemore at Acacia Estates

It looks like my wish for more grocery stores in Taguig will be granted soon. Here's a press release from DMCI which was published by the Philippine Star last 17 November 2012:

MANILA, Philippines - Acacia Estates, a township project currently consisting of six-themed residential communities in Taguig City, is the site of the first Savemore outlet to be built within a DMCI Homes development. The venture is between DMCI Homes and Savemore Market of the SM Food Group.
“We have partnered with DMCI Homes to give a holistic shopping experience” for residents of Acacia Estates, says Jojo Tagbo, EVP-Savemore operations. SM’s compact supermarket will function as an anchor neighborhood store, providing access to quick and easy shopping for the community. Aside from offering wet and dry goods, the one-stop shop will have facilities for modern essentials like bills payment and currency exchange.
Savemore will join Parco Supermarket and Puregold Taguig as the "new" additions in the Taguig grocery landscape.