A Design Hotel Not To Miss in Baguio

Accommodation is one of the most determining factors of a leisure trip. It can make or break the entirety of it especially when it causes you to change your plans or bear with the facilities that are below your expectations.

For the May 2023 long weekend, I planned a trip to Baguio City and came across G1 Lodge Design Hotel which already made a good impression just by how it looks on the thumbnail of a booking website. Its lobby was adorned with wooden walls curving up to the ceiling. Its design was interesting. Though quite pricey, I must admit, I still made sure I can grab a room there for my two-night stay.

G1 Lodge is not your typical hotel in Baguio. It is an entire ecosystem where you can recharge. The cold weather plus their earthy feel makes the experience unforgettable.

Upon arriving, it already felt like an entirely different hotel experience in the Philippines. It felt so Baguio for me because of the sophisticated wooden interior from the lobby up to the stairway. The dark interior and soft warm lighting is calming. It sparks a “black and wood is beautiful” ambiance.


If you are riding a bus from Paranaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX), you will be alighting at Governor Pack Road near its junction with Session Road. From there, it will be just a modest 150-meter walk to the G1 Lodge. Along the way, there is a 7-Eleven Store where you can buy stuff which you might need.

From the hotel, you can easily walk to Session Road as well as the Our Lady of Atonement Church. Right across is SM City Baguio. And if you also want to have a luxurious and memorable meal, whether breakfast, lunch, or dinner at Casa Vallejo, it is also very nearby.

In terms of public transport moving around Baguio, taxis are very frequent in the area so you can surely get on one to go straight to your desired destination. Modern and traditional jeepneys are also passing by in front of the hotel which you can also ride to explore the city or nearby places including La Trinidad, the location of strawberry farms.

Room and Amenities

Navigating in the hotel is quite unique in the sense that the entrance and the lobby is actually on the fifth floor. Considering the mountainous terrain of Baguio, it is probably a norm for some buildings to have floors below the street level. The restaurant where breakfast is typically served is at the sixth floor. The rooftop also offers more space for bar and grill and a good place to see the sunset as well as the rest of the city center.

G1 Lodge has an elevator and a beautiful flight of stairs. When I say beautiful, I mean it. Just like how the rest of the interior design goes, wood is always present and the dark color and ambient lighting offers a vibe of the cool and adventurous forest vibe of Baguio. The elevator, meanwhile, is see through and offers a nice view of the lobby and the open space at the restaurant level.

For the room, I got a decent one with a queen-size bed. There is plenty of space to move around and also an under-bed storage for your things. They have a telephone, a hairdryer, and a mini-fridge which can be set to either maintain the temperature of warm food or to serve as a cooler for your cold food and water. They also have an electric kettle to boil some water in case you want to have a sip of coffee or tea. The entire wall of my room facing the street is all curtain glass window with a small sliding door. This is covered by a blackout curtain which can be put on the side to have a nice view of the city. Be mindful though that the glass is neither tinted nor privacy-ready.

The TV is not connected with a cable network. Instead, they provide access to Netflix and YouTube. Each night, you can definitely just binge watch to call it a day.

The toilet is like every other hotel but what made it stand out for me is that the shape of the toilet bowl is rounded rectangular, which for me is something new to see and experience. For the bidet-loving toilet users, yes they have it.

Food and Beverage

Apparently, I missed quite a lot in terms of food as I only experienced their breakfast buffet. It cost PHP398 per person and offers a good variety already. They have a waffle station and an egg station. The waffles make a good offering given that Baguio is known for their strawberries. Be sure to grab some waffles and easily pair it up with butter and a generous amount of strawberry preserve. G1 Lodge typically serves breakfast as early as 6:30 in the morning just in time before you go out and explore the city or even after an early morning walk at Session Road and Burnham Park. The buffet ends at 10:00.

From what I heard, the hotel offers a wide array of Filipino food as well as snacks like pasta and sandwiches. Cocktails are also served by the bar which can be delivered straight to your room for you to enjoy.

They also have an interesting coffee being served in the bar at the lobby level. Have you ever heard of a strawberry coffee latte? It offers the strength of the native coffee and the tanginess of the strawberry that gives out an exquisite and unique flavor.


With the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX), travel from PITX was cut short to only 4.5 hours, instead of six. This made arrival quite too early and it was pretty obvious that I could not check-in as early as 6:30 in the morning. When I ventured to the hotel, the front desk staff was already helpful by offering to store my luggage and things. Yes, all hotels do that but the staff took the extra mile of service by offering to call me in case a room is already available. Luckily, I got a room and was checked in at 10:00, just in time when I was finished with my breakfast and early morning stroll.

In the restaurant, their team was also attentive to the needs of every guest. With smiles on their faces, it was energizing to start your day.

Final Word

G1 Lodge is not your typical hotel in Baguio. It is an entire ecosystem where you can recharge. The cold weather plus their earthy feel makes the experience unforgettable. You can just stay there all day, to be honest. The food is nice and the staff is very accommodating. If I get a chance to visit Baguio soon, it will be on the priority list for choices of hotels.

Downtown Iloilo City Mobile Phone HD Wallpapers

As I came across the internet, I noticed that many of the beautiful cityscape wallpaper photos are mostly foreign. I barely even see photos of a city in the Philippines. As I expect to be meeting more people personally with the pandemic officially over, as the World Health Organization has declared, I can’t help but find ways bringing Ilonggo pride with me wherever I go. After all, the era of having Iloilo City as my webinar or virtual meeting background could eventually end.

Some mainstream photographers take photos for a living and I perfectly understand why their beautiful photos reach only a few audience and probably only circulate for a premium. With that in mind, I gladly offer a few of my photos to the public for us to bring an Ilonggo touch with our everyday companion – our mobile phones. In that way, we can bring our home close to us wherever we go now that traveling has become more frequent.

Now, I share with you high-definition, watermark-free, and royalty-free photos to your phones. Previews are found below:

To download, simply click the following links with the corresponding title of the photos from above.

The City HallDownload (1.96MB)
The Bike CapitalDownload (1.09MB)
The Heritage Marker (iOS Depth Effect Ready)Download (1.66MB)
The BastionDownload (2.05MB)
Arches and MoreDownload (1.04MB)
*To avoid any image download compression and to get high quality photos, make sure you are connected to wifi.

The Ilonggo Engineer website has remained free for quite some time with minimal intrusive ads. You can support this website and future projects through the link below.

How to track your PRC CPD credits

If you are a Filipino professional regulated by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), then you are most familiar about the continuing professional development or CPD credits. Mandated under Republic Act No. 10912, these credits according to the PRC are the learnings achieved from formal, informal, and non-formal environments such as professional work experience. These are usually required in renewing your professional license and each profession has a prescribed number of credits per renewal period.

However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, there were several measures employed by PRC through the Professional Regulatory Boards such as an option to sign an undertaking to waive the current required credits for renewal while promising to top-up the credits with the next renewal period, i.e. 15 for the current period will be added to the next 15 credits of the following renewal, making it 30 in total.

The PRC has announced earlier this year that Oaths of Undertaking can be applied up to December 31, 2023. Thus, professionals are advised to begin collecting CPD credits as it might be required come 2024.

Assuming you already know how CPD credits are earned, here is the best way to validate your CPD credits in the official PRC website.

The PRC has a dedicated website for CPD credits known as the Continuing Professional Development Accreditation System (CPDAS). The platform can be accessed by both CPD providers as well as professionals who wish to track their CPD credits. For professionals, you can login or sign up through this link:

Signing Up

When accessing the link above, you will be able to login or sign up. If it is your first time, select the latter. You will then be redirected to the sign up form where you will be required to go over the terms and conditions. After reviewing you can click Agree.

Important Note: You need to make sure all the information you placed upon registering matches the information in your Professional Identification Card (PIC). This includes your full name, gender, birth date, profession, license number, registration date, and year of validity of license. The registration should look like this:

After filling up the information mentioned above, you will be asked to provide your email address and set up your password. As a pro tip based on my experience, it will also be best to register using the same credentials as your Licensure Examination and Registration Information System (LERIS) account in PRC. But be mindful that although both are connected to PRC, they are fully separate and you can use different emails if you wish.

Visit your dashboard

After registering, you can now login and access your personal CPDAS Account. You will be asked to enter your email address and your password. After logging in, you will be led to your dashboard. In this page, you will be able to see your list of accredited programs attended as well as a list of accredited programs attended before CPDAS.

Your dashboard should look like this:

Aside from the dashboard, you can file an application for CPD units for various learning activities you attended. This can be applied for online but verification may be done onsite at the nearest PRC office to you.

More thoughts

The continuing professional development program has met both positive and negative feedback among professionals. The CPD system is an internationally practiced mechanism which ensures professionals are updated with continuously growing industries. Demand for new skills evolve. Thus, to advance your career, you will need to develop certain competencies which are best documented by certifications from learning activities.

Attendance to conferences are also opportunities to expand your network which can be vital for future projects. Sharing by experience, most of the people I work with even outside my profession are people I met in conferences and seminars. One excellent way to maximize your attendance in conferences is to particularly choose to attend in those organized by your professional organization. You also have to be on the look out for CPD-accredited ones so that your CPD credits are credited to your CPDAS account without the hassle of applying for CPD units.

The CPD is a reminder that we also need to invest in ourselves and our competencies. While we also love to spend the holidays for vacation, we also need to make sure we remain competent in our chosen field of profession. Thus, attendance in conferences and trainings should also be part of our annual budget as individuals. If we are extra lucky, some companies provide support for their employees to attend these.

Now, go ahead and check your CPD credits.

Disclaimer: Ilonggo Engineer is not affiliated with the Professional Regulation Commission. Please make sure you get the most accurate and updated information in the right outlets including the official social media pages of the PRC and their website.

New priority projects in Western Visayas

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board has approved a total of 194 infrastructure flagship projects that will received priority status for development over the next five years under the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.

The said projects is said to support the government’s efforts to attract investors, generate more jobs, and address poverty in the country.

Of the 194 projects, 71 are continuing projects which were previously prioritized during the administration of former president Rodrigo Duterte. Meanwhile, 123 are new projects.

While some of the projects will benefit the whole country in general, there are 10 distinct projects located in Western Visayas. These include five continuing projects which are ongoing with the construction phase, detailed engineering design, and project preparation.

The other five are new priority projects which are in the project preparation stage or pre-project preparation stage. As defined in the DPWH Infrastructure Development Cycle, projects under the preparation stage are those projects which are set to undergo or currently undergoing feasibility study or advanced levels of study. The feasibility study consists of various investigations and tests necessary to determine whether the project can and should be carried out including the methods and schedule.

Meanwhile, pre-project preparation stage can be equated to project identification in the infrastructure development cycle wherein projects are identified for their potential and rapid assessment is undertaken to assess and estimate their possible returns on investment.

Below is the list of the 10 Infrastructure Flagship Projects we can expect to develop in the next years:

IDStatusProject NameDevelopment StageLead
19ContinuingBacolod-Negros Occidental Economic HighwayImplementationDPWH
21ContinuingBoracay Circumferential RoadImplementationDPWH
54ContinuingJalaur River Multipurpose Project, Stage IIImplementationNIA
38ContinuingPanay-Guimaras-Negros Island Bridges ProjectDetailed Engineering DesignDPWH
71ContinuingUpgrading and Improvement of Iloilo International Container PortProject PreparationPPA
106NewAntique Airport Development ProjectProject PreparationDOTr
131NewIloilo-Capiz-Aklan ExpresswayProject PreparationDPWH
144NewPanay River Basin Integrated Development ProjectProject PreparationNIA
163NewIloilo-Sta. Barbara Bus Rapid TransitPre-Project PreparationDOTr
178NewPanay Railway SystemPre-Project PreparationDOTr
Source: NEDA List of Infrastructure Flagship Projects as of March 9, 2023

These projects are part of the Build Better More program, a successor infrastructure development campaign of the Build, Build, Build program of the previous administration. The 194 projects are expected to cost PHP9 trillion in total and will be funded by various sources such as the general appropriations (the annual budget of the government), multilateral loans, foreign aids, and public-private partnership.

PH is part of Apple’s critical supply chain

Did you know that the Philippines houses some of the suppliers of electronic components which could possibly end up in your iPhone or Mac?

Apple, the company behind everything iPhone, iPad, Mac, etc., has one of the world’s complex supply chains. Some analysts would even label Apple’s supply chain as one of the best and efficient. They would usually order components from various suppliers from all over the world and ships them to their assembly line in China. From there, the products are shipped directly to buyers who purchased them from the Apple online store.

With China being the manufacturer of almost every gadget, it ships to any point of the world. Thus, inventory will not be an issue and warehousing expenditures would be at minimum. In addition, being an Apple supplier is highly competitive. Thus, quality is handled with a win-win strategy.

However, in the recent years following the COVID-19 and China’s strict zero-COVID strategy, Apple has been restrategizing its supply chain management. A majority of their products are currently manufactured in India by Foxconn, Wistron, and Pegatron, all of which are Taiwanese companies.

Where exactly is the Philippines in Apple’s supply chain?

I rummaged to several publicly available resources and narrowed down to 16 tech companies in the Philippines which are declared in the official list of suppliers of Apple as of 2021. It is worth noting that the Philippines ranks 5th among its ASEAN peers in terms of number of companies providing electronic components to Apple.

Singapore tops the list with 42 companies, followed by Vietnam with half the number (26), Malaysia (20), and Thailand (18).

Amkor Technology Incorported

Amkor Technology is known for its semi-conductor packaging and test services. Their wide array of operations also include production, product development, and sales and support. Amkor is headquartered at Arizona, USA with several sales offices all over the world including the Philippines.

ams AG

ams AG claims to be a global leader in optical solutions. They offer a diverse product and technology portfolio for sensing, illumination, and visualization which includes light emitters and optical components, micro-modules, light sensors, etc. ams AG is headquartered in Austria. Its manufacturing hubs for Apple components apart from the Philippines also include ASEAN neighbors, Malaysia and Singapore.

Analog Devices Incorporated

Analog Devices is probably behind some critical components of the Apple watch as it specializes in bridging the gap between the physical and the digital. Their products involve complex real-world signals which are transformed into meaningful insights and actions. They also put healthcare in their mission with the development of innovative solutions to modernize the health industry through the electronic components they manufacture.

Infiniteon Technologies AG

Infiniteon Technologies is a German semi-conductor manufacturer which separated from its parent company, Siemens. It is one the of the ten largest semi-conductor companies worldwide with several facilities in the United States, Asia-Pacific Region (including the Philippines), and Europe. They are primarily active in markets supporting automotives, industrial power control, power and sensor systems, and connected secure systems.

MegaChips Corporation

MegaChips is one of Japan’s largest electronic companies which began to boom in the 1990s. They specialize in the development of dynamic random access memory (DRAM) and semi-conductors. MegaChips focus on basic research and applied technology as a fabless research and development manufacturer. To date, it has almost 800 patent registrations in Japan, the rest of Asia, the United States, and Europe.

Microchip Technology Incorporated

Microchip Technology is an American manufacturer of microcontrollers, mixed-signal, analog, and flash-IP integrated circuits. Its product line also include electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM) responsible for keyless systems, embedded security devices, radio frequency devices, thermal, power and battery management analog devices, and linear, interface and wireless products. Its wafer fabs are located primariy in the United States while its assembly and test facilities are located in the Philippines and Thailand.

MinebeaMitsumi Incorporated

MinebeaMitsumi is a multinational corporation headquartered in Japan which specializes in the production of machinery components and electronic devices. They are a Guinness World Record holder for the production of the world’s smallest commercially available mass-produced steel ball bearing. The ball bearing is used in high-grade mechanical watches.

Nidec Corporation

Nidec Corporation is a comprehensive motor manufacturer. The Japanese company focuses on the development, manufacturing, and sales of small precision motors, automotive motors, home appliance motors, commercial and industrial motors, among many others.

ON Semiconductor Corporation

Also known as onsemi, they are an American semi-conductor supplier company also based in Arizona, USA. They are among the Fortune 500 companies based on its sales in 2021. Their product line includes power and signal management, communications, computing, consumer, industrial, LED lighting, and medical/military/aerospace grade power applications. If you are familiar with the Japanese brand, Sanyo, they acquired the semi-conductor arm of the company back in 2011.

Rohm Company Limited

Rohm is a Japanese electronic parts manufacturer with its humble beginnings as a resistor manufacturer. Today, they manufacture integrated circuits and discrete semi-conductors.

Samsung Electro-Mechanics Company Limited

If you think Samsung and Apple are just plain competitors, you are definitely wrong. Despite the marketing competition of the two gadget giants, Apple still depends on Samsung for some of its components. Samsung Electro-Mechanics manufactures multi-layer ceramic capacitors, tantalum capacitors, inductors, and chip resistors.

Samsung Electronics, although not based in the Philippines, is the company behind the OLED displays of most Apple products, including the iPhone.

ST Microelectronics N.V.

ST Mircoelectronics is a global semiconductor company. They build products, solutions, and ecosystems which enable smarter mobility, more efficient power and energy management, and wide-scale deployment of internet of things and connectivity technologies. The Philippines hosts its back-end (assembly and testing) operations in Asia, alongside with Hong Kong, and Malaysia.

Sumitomo Electric Industries Limited

Sumitomo Electric is a Japanese manufacturer of electric wire and optical fiber cables. Their electronics division supplies various products to manufacturers of smartphones, flat-screen televisions, and other highly advanced electronic goods.

Taiyo Yuden Company Limited

Taiyo Yuden‘s portfolio began with the pioneering of recordable compact disc (CD) technology assisting its development alongside with Sony and Philips. With the decline of CD technology, they shifted their focus in other products such as ceramic capacitors, inductors, circuit modules, thermistors, and noise suppression components. This Japanese company operates factories in Japan, Singapore, Korea, China, Philippines, Taiwan, and Malaysia.

Texas Instruments Incorporated

If you are an engineering student, you probably came across using a calculator by Texas Instruments. The American tech company headquartered in Texas, USA, designs and manufactures semi-conductors and various integrated circuits, which then sells it to the global market. Currently, they focus on developing analog chips and embedded processors. They also venture in light processing technology. Their Philippine operations is stationed in Baguio City.

Wingtech Technology Company Limited

Wingtech Technology is a Chinese partially state-owned semi-conductor and communications integration company. They manufacture wafers and develop semi-conductor chip designs and communication product integration. With its critical role in the supply chain, the zero-COVID policy of China has prompted Apple to move production out of China.

Final thoughts

Apple’s list of suppliers bring a bigger perspective of how a highly globalized operation can be harnessed to make operations more efficient. However, geopolitical dynamics within regions or globally provide high risks. These risks directly affect their revenue as well as the prices that end up being borne by the pockets of consumers.

Labor markets in the countries where these suppliers are based need to ensure their competitiveness to acquire better chances of increased operations and investment there. The Philippines, being the fifth country among its ASEAN peers, should discover its potential in the tech industry by supporting STEM education and provide mechanisms to promote more investments domestically or internationally.

Timeline: The Panay-Guimaras-Negros Island Bridges Project

If you are an Ilonggo, then the long narrative of the major islands of Western Visayas getting connected by long-span bridges has grown with you. In fact, several administrations since the Fifth Republic have chipped in into the wish of Ilonggos of having a truly connected region.

Recently, there were several news outlets which somehow got a little excited as we all do and mentioned that the Panay-Guimaras-Negros (PGN) Bridges would allegedly begin procurement activities for the construction by the end of the first quarter of 2023.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Region VI was quick to respond and put clarity on this matter stating that the construction of the PGN Island Bridges Project will start in 2025 only upon the completion of the Detailed Engineering Design (DED) and approved for funding and implementation by the Investment Coordination Committee and the NEDA Board.

The PGN Island Bridges Project, at current estimates, would cost around PHP189.53 billion. To put in context, this is about 20 percent of the gross regional domestic product (GRDP) of the Region in 2021. The GRDP is a measure of the regional economy taking into account the gross value added of all producers in the region.

To give clarity, here are some important dates of the PGN Island Bridges Project with corresponding references:

  • 1999

    First Conception. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) funded the feasibility study of the bridges project. They commissioned Katahira and Engineers International and the Yachiyo Engineering Co., Ltd. to undertake the study in coordination with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). At that time, it was estimated to cost PHP53 billion. The bridges had a cumulative length of 23.19 kilometers with Panay-Guimaras bridge at 2.59 km in length and Guimaras-Negros Bridge at 20.60 km.

  • 2004

    Strong Republic Nautical Highway. In the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan 2004-2010 under former Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the realization of the PGN Island Bridges Project was shelved with the shift of prioritization towards establishing more economical connectivity through the establishment of Roll On-Roll Off (RORO) Ports. The PHP40 billion RORO network included the region through the Western Nautical Highway or the Strong Republic Nautical Highway.

    Among the major projects included the development and/or upgrading of the following infrastructure:

    • Bacolod-Iloilo RORO
    • Iloilo City-Passi-Calinog-Ivisan-Kalibo-Nabas-Caticlan Road
    • Iloilo East Coast-Capiz Road
    • Aklan-Mindoro Oriental RORO
  • 2006

    Guimaras Oil Spill. Although unrelated to the construction of the bridges, the historical event that happened along the bodies of water between Panay, Guimaras, and Negros was the Guimaras Oil Spill. This event which happened in the 3rd Quarter of 2006 left 245 kilometers of coastline, 16 square kilometers of coral reef, 1,128 hectares of mangrove, and 1,143 hectares of marine reserve covered with oil. Over 17,000 people were affected.

  • 2010

    Cheaper costs than before. In reports, the DPWH released an estimate much lower than the 1999 estimate done by JICA. With a new alignment spanning only a total of 13.16 kilometers, the project cost slimmed down to PHP28.5 billion. The Panay-Guimaras bridge at 2.60 km length will cost PHP9.4 billion while the Guimaras-Negros bridge at 9.56 km, PHP19.1 billion.

  • 2012

    New hope for PGN. Then Iloilo City Lone District Representative and current Mayor Jerry Treñas initiated the issuance of House Resolution No. 2018 asking late former Pres. Benigno Aquino III to prioritize the realization of the PGN Island Bridges Project. This move was also supported by lawmakers in Western Visayas as well as close neighbor, Negros Oriental.

  • 2017

    Infrastructure Flagship Projects. Renewed diplomatic relations of the Philippines and the China also saw a renewed hope for the PGN Island Bridges. With only 18 projects proposed to be funded under Official Development Assistance (ODA) by China, the island bridges now cost USD541.04 million.

    In April, then Pres. Rodrigo Duterte launched the Build Build Build Program. The PGN Island Bridges Project was among the 44 in the initial priority list.

    In a separate report of the United Nations Economic and Social Commissions for Asia and the Pacific dated July 2017, the DPWH and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) were noted for their shortfalls in disbursement as well as backlogs. This implied that projects with a large scale as the PGN Island Bridges would face risks of delays.

  • 2019

    China-Funded Feasibility Study. The People’s Republic of China commissioned state-owned CCCC Highway Consultants Co., Ltd. to conduct yet another feasibility study of the PGN Island Bridges Project. The feasibility study is in support of the Duterte Administration’s Build Build Build Program.

    In August, an incident in Iloilo Strait claimed 31 lives after several pump boats capsized due to a freak weather occurrence.

  • 2020

    COVID-19 challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic gravely affected the implementation of infrastructure projects in the Philippines. This did not spare the multi-billion-peso bridge project with China backing out to support the project. Former Sen. Franklin Drilon shared that China was no longer interested in funding the project, possibly due to the pandemic.

  • 2021

    Korea steps in officially. The Korean government took over and conducted supplemental feasibility study for the PGN Island Bridges Project. Undersecretary Emil Sadain of the DPWH shared that the Koreans committed ODA loan to the Philippines through the Economic Development Cooperation Fund of the Korea Export-Import Bank.

    The NEDA Board ICC approved the supplemental feasibility study in August 2021.

  • 2022

    Korea-funded Engineering Services. The Korean government extended USD56.6 million in loan for the engineering services of the PGN Island Bridges Project in May 2022. The assistance will support the preparation of preliminary design, detailed engineering design, and procurement assistance prior to the construction of the bridges.

    DPWH Sec. Bonoan and Usec. Sadain sit and officials from South Korea. (PIA Photo)

    The DPWH in November announced that they are targeting to commence the DED activities on the first quarter of 2023.

    The Regional Development Council VI approved the PGN project at a cost of PHP187.53 billion during its 3rd Quarter Meeting in October 2022. The completion of the bridge is targeted in 2030.

  • 2023

    Awarding of DED, not construction. The NEDA, in a press release, shared that the DED component will be awarded in March. Further, it clarified that the construction of the project will start by 2025 after the completion of the DED and the approval of the funding and implementation by the NEDA Board and the ICC.

Based on the recent developments, the realization of the project has gone already gone this far. Thus, every Ilonggo is very hopeful that this would materialize and who knows, Negros or Guimaras would be a drive away.

Reflections on Ungka Flyover

I am currently building up my experience in transportation engineering. This specialization is not as lucrative as construction, though. It does not pay much. Demand for transportation experts is quite low despite of being one of the most important for urbanizing areas. Transportation is one of the most difficult to comprehend as it requires enough background in communication, economics, land use, public policy, and urban planning.

There has been a lingering issue on the current state of Ungka Flyover. Some acquaintances and friends have asked me to weigh in on this matter and apparently, I kept silent for almost a year since the narratives went out. Guided by the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers Code of Ethics, we civil engineers should only weigh in on matters where we have the right amount of competencies and should not go beyond this. I am not a structural engineer so I leave the issue of the flyover’s structural integrity to the experts on that. However, I want to share my perspective on how we are managing transportation issues through a different lens.

The transportation landscape of the metro is simply the embryonic stage of what we are trying to avoid becoming. We despise the traffic of Metro Manila and yet, we seem not to learn anything from it. TomTom, an international contextual mapping company, collated some information on the state of traffic and unfortunately, we are in the top 10 of something we should never be proud about – Manila is the 4th top city with the worst traffic conditions in 2020. Imagine, even during the worst days of the pandemic where mobility was restricted, we are still among the worst. In Iloilo City, we also experience the same traffic, at least not as horrible as Manila; but if things go unaddressed, we could get there in no time.

Satellite image of EDSA Magallanes Interchange (Google Maps)

How is the country, in general dealing, with this problem? We invested heavily on infrastructure, almost 6.0 percent of our gross domestic product in 2021. We build expressways which not only turned our highways into multi-level concrete jungles like the one in EDSA Magallanes interchange, but also resort to laying these expressways along the rivers like portions of NAIA Expressway and the proposed Pasig River Expressway permanently and potentially destroying the riverside skylines and impacting possibly the natural course of the waterways and the biodiversity that depends on it. As I can recall in the early days of my career, bridges alone could cost as much as PHP1 million per meter of length. These concrete elevated roadways can stretch for several kilometers.

A section of NAIA Expressway leading to NAIA Termiinal 3 passes by Estero de Gallina. (Google Maps)

In an economic perspective, these expressways come in the form of public-private partnership and will entail users to spend on tolls to pass through. While it means that these expressways will eventually pay for themselves, it only benefits those who can afford thereby creating more disparity in the mobility of Filipinos. One can argue that transport costs of goods would become cheaper and can contribute to lowering their retail costs. These are all assumptions. With the conditions we are experiencing in inflation, we are yet to reap the fruits of the seeds we sowed.

Transport enthusiasts and even experts continue to struggle in amplifying the simple principle of “move people, not cars.” The current infrastructure prioritization always aims to cut travel time. Apparently, cutting travel time here implies the travel time of cars, not people. We build bypass roads, diversion roads, flyovers, and underpasses to ensure we minimize stopping times in road intersections. Single-lane roads were upgraded to two-lane roads. We even have our Iloilo Diversion Road at four lanes on each side. What are these road enhancements built for?

In transportation, there is a concept called induced demand. This dictates that when there is enough road capacity and no road congestion, preference of driving is escalated. This means, people who chose not to use cars because of traffic congestion would return to the road. Eventually, the now-widened road becomes congested again. Another issue that does not make sense is that car ownership has been relatively easy in the Philippines. This is best illustrated with the consistent rise in motor vehicle registration as recorded by the Land Transportation Office. In Metro Manila alone, it increased by 10.1 percent in 2019. So with induced demand, plus the increased car ownership, how will we ever solve traffic?

As a commuter and someone who least prefers owning a car, I resort to public transport. The old ones are uncomfortable and beyond jam-packed. The transition towards modernized jeepneys is something that was done with the right intentions to provide comfort for the commuting public. However, certain dynamics still threaten its reliability and sustainability. In a single thought, the country should endeavor to make public transport the most preferred means of mobility. After all, I firmly believe that successful cities is where the rich use public transport – not because it is premium but because it is comfortable and at a reasonable and inclusive price point.

To wrap things up, what we really need to improve transport is not additional infrastructure such as flyovers, expressways, widened roads, etc. We need a smart use case for our roads. Its occupants should primarily be affordable, comfortable, and convenient public transportation, as well as logistics operations, disaster and emergency response vehicles, and the like. Alternative forms of transport, especially active transport, must be supported with user-centered policies protecting their rights as well as infrastructure (which are definitely less costly than the flyovers).

Widened roads, flyovers, they don’t always mean solving traffic and progress; they may also mean a failed transportation system. I stand with the unpopular opinion, “move people, not cars.”

PH Senate Bills on Road Safety filed in 2022

Road safety remains as one of the difficult discussions when it comes to legislation. Over the years, only a few have hurdled the legislative process and made it to become laws. Though implementation and results are due for a separate discussion, it is apparent that laws alone without the commitment to their implementation will never realize a safer environment for all road users.

Nevertheless, in 2022, four bills in the Senate have been filed in the 19th Congress. These comprise amendments to existing laws as well as road safety education. Here are the bills:

Senate Bill No. 724 – Amending the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act of 2013

This bill aims to amend the Republic Act No. 10586 or the “act penalizing persons driving under the influence of alcohol, dangerous drugs, and similar substances, and for other purposes.” Introduced by Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, the Senate Bill will amend three sections of the existing law while portions of it not affected will remain in force and effect.

Amendments on Section 10 of the existing law compels the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to deputize traffic enforcers of the Philippine National Police, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), and cities and municipalities to ensure full and effective implementation of the law.

Section 14, meanwhile, has an addendum which effectively involves the Department of Education (DepEd) to integrate road safety and drivers’ education into the K-12 curriculum.

Lastly, Section 15 amendments included the requirement of LTO to regularly conduct random terminal inspection and quick random drug tests for public utility drivers. Operators of public utility vehicles whose drivers are found positive for drug use will be made liable under the guidelines of drug-free workplaces of the Department of Labor and Employment.

Senate Bill No. 786 – Proposed Road Safety Education Act

As a spillover legislation from the 18th Congress being refiled, the Senate Bill No. 786 filed by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri aims to establish a road safety curriculum, campaign, and training.

There will be compulsory teaching of road safety and drivers’ education in all primary and secondary schools, and educational institutions. The bill provides that Basic Road Safety and Comprehensive Drivers’ Education will be taught in all schools, whether it is public or private. Furthermore, basic road safety will be integrated in the elementary education curriculum while the drivers’ education will be incorporated in the junior and senior high school curricula.

In addition, public road safety information campaign will be undertaken by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and University of the Philippines National Center for Transportation Studies, in coordination with other government entities and road safety advocates and organizations. The DOTr will also be tasked to develop a road safety manual that must be accessible through their website.

Also, road safety training will be carried out for traffic enforcers to educate them on matters such as traffic violations and apprehension procedures.

Senate Bill No. 954 – Proposed Road Safety and Comprehensive Drivers’ Education Act

The bill filed by Senator Grace Poe aims to institutionalize the mandatory integration of basic road safety and comprehensive drivers’ education in the enhanced basic education curriculum. It will involve the DepEd, Commission on Higher Education, DOTr, LTO, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, and the MMDA to formulate and implement the said subjects in basic and higher education.

The funding requirement for this bill, once enacted, will be sourced as a line item under the budget of DepEd under the General Appropriations (national budget). It will also be sourced from the Special Road Safety Fund as created under Republic Act No. 8794.

Senate Bill No. 1514 – Proposed Requirement of Teaching Basic Road Safety and Comprehensive Drivers’ Education

The prevention of increasing incidence and prevalence of deaths and injuries, property damage, and economic losses is the core objective of Senate Bill No. 1514 filed by Senator Ramon Bong Revilla, Jr.

The proposed measure, similar to the previous two bills filed, seeks to include Basic Road Safety and Comprehensive Drivers’ Education to the K-12 program. It cited that most adults have little or no knowledge of basic road safety and traffic rules and regulations.

In terms of funding, the implementation of the bill, once enacted, will be charged from the Road Safety Fund (7.5% of the Motor Vehicle User’s Charge).

Final take

Every year, bills like these are being filed in Congress whether in the upper house (Senate) or the lower house (House of Representatives). These four primarily aim to further reduce incidence of drunk- and drugged-driving as well as integrate road safety in formal education across all levels.

The most recent legislation which hurdled the legislative process and eventually became a law was the Republic Act No. 10913 or the Anti-Distracted Driving Act way back in 2016. Thus, leaders are expected to act on several measures that has been moving back and forth in the Congress and to shepherd these toward becoming laws.

Since then, there are several unique bills filed including that of creating a body that would independently undertake road safety efforts and coordinate with all transport-related instrumentalities. However, considering the limited budget of the government as well as the effort to right-size the bureaucracy, it is likely that road safety, despite its miniscule budget requirement for institutionalization, will remain on the sidelines of national priority.

What I will tell my younger self as I approach 30

It’s the month of the year that will mark my three decades of existence. Time is very long when you are waiting yet looking back seemed like it was just moments before. Maybe it is because I oriented myself to look at the future as a destination where struggles would magically disappear, my wants will all be in my possession, my needs are attained with several extras. I was wrong.

When I was still a kid, I have grown frustrated of what my parents could provide. I won’t deny it. It would be hypocritical to say that I didn’t want to travel the world at a young age, to have the latest mobile phone (like the Nokia 7650 or the Express Music series), to have everything that I wanted. Life is not fair. I also aspired to be in a school that I want, to develop a career that I enjoyed.

However, after all those selfish pain that I felt, I am here. I have a decent job. Over the years, I traveled to five different countries, experienced using the gadgets I only imagined to have, and do whatever I want. Despite of not being able to become a chemical engineer just as I planned, I ended up impacting the lives of people through the work I have done in the government.

We only have one life to spread so thinly and to find its true meaning. So here are some things I want to say to my younger self at 30.

Chase your dream while you can.

I can recall my computer programming professor in high school telling us that we are getting closer to the real jungle of our lives as we approach college. He wasn’t wrong about it. Come to think of it, the very first step you make in college could have a lasting impact, even for a lifetime. In my case, I wanted to pursue a career closely related to chemistry, although some of my professors also recommended I take architecture as they see my potential in it. I was pretty lost back then. I also considered practical options like marine engineering and information technology. I also considered things I enjoyed doing like physical education (though it has completely outgrown me now).

This photo was taken in 2013 during our on-the-job training. This is now one of the largest hospitals in Mandurriao district in Iloilo City. We spent at least two months working in this building.

I ended up with civil engineering. Close enough. LOL.

Nevertheless, civil engineering has indirectly driven me into getting to know what I want to do with my life. I graduated and became an engineer without any career plans in mind. I was merely driven towards where others would push me and where opportunities were. That led me into my first job in the government where I was able to earn a decent salary to afford those dream gadgets that I wanted and to eat all the food that I only saw others enjoy. It also led me into traveling opportunities including my first all-expense paid international trip to Japan as a youth ambassador of goodwill.

This is my host family in Japan who took care of me. They made my visit to Japan extra memorable.
Watch a video I created about my trip to Singapore with my mom.

I was able to afford to take my mom on her retirement to Singapore. I also visited places I only recognized in the books I read like the Angkor Wat in Cambodia and the Hua Lamphong Station in Bangkok, Thailand. And finally, before the pandemic broke out, represented the Philippines in the World Road Congress in the Emirates as the lone Filipino delegate.

October 2019 – This was my most daring feat in my career as a civil engineer. I flew on my own and represented the Philippines in the 26th World Road Congress in Abu Dhabi, UAE where I presented my research paper.

Although I am suggesting that you chase your dream, I can definitely tell you that the universe will conspire and lead you to your heart’s desire. Just know what you want to happen in your life. Do what has to be done and your dream will be served at your doorstep. Similar to how I finally joined the National Economic and Development Authority after five job applications in a span of two years, I just did what I had to: build myself up to deserve my position. Like what a colleague told me, I am one persistent applicant. I never stopped until I knew it was over.

Expectations will imprison you, don’t dwell in it.

Growing up, I already felt the deprivations because of our overall economic standing as a family. My dad was sick and my mom had to fill in all the gaps. I am very fortunate to have ended up with several scholarships through the skills I could offer as a campus journalist. This ultimately opened a huge door of opportunities that molded me into who I am now. Even this blog would not come into reality if I failed to learn how to express myself through writing. The key is perseverance and creativity.

This was one of the best days of the USA Publications under our leadership as editors. It bore fruits in the form of national awards.

Deprivations continued as I built my career. Without dealing with too much details, you will not get what you think you deserve. Rather, in a career, especially in the government, you need to factor in what other people think of you and what they think you deserve. After all, they also have their own journey and a path they also want to build. This may or may not include you, even if you have the best credentials or the competencies for the job.

As we grow, from students to young professionals, we will become prisoners of our own expectations, of what we think we deserve, of how we want the world to become as we slowly get integrated to it. Therefore, acceptance is something we need to embrace. There are simply things we cannot change to meet our expectations. What we genuinely have control of is how we deal with our heartaches and frustrations. It is never bad to expect something. But when things do not go as planned, focus on what you can control and make sure you end up in the winning end. The winning end here is indicated by yourself moving forward and not dwelling on those flat tires you experience in your own journey.

This photo is just an imagination, a daydream when I thought of my future. But yes, being impactful to the world is one of things I want to do with my life. This probably capped my journey towards becoming 30.

Follow your heart.

The community I grew up in has always stigmatized the LGBTQIA+. I grew up without allies and had to hide at all costs. I lifted the weight of the fear of judgment to myself and to my family. Traditional people, as I experienced, would see having a gay child as bad luck or a disgrace. I carried extra burdens that any straight person would never understand. The planet is over 40,000 kilometers in circumference yet my whole world felt like it was just barely a square meter. I was in a constant battle of denying my feelings while also working hard to be what the world perceived as normal. I almost destroyed myself in the process.

Coming out was not easy. It is not customary. Coming out is not for everyone to know you are gay. It is your own acceptance of yourself, who you really are. I did it in phases. The first people whom I confirmed my identity was with my friends in college back in 2012. That same year was critical. I had the courage to finally tell my dad of who I really am. He got concerned when I almost lost myself. I expected to be sent away but I can vividly remember that he simply kissed my forehead and act like nothing happened.

Moving forward, my dad was very vital to my coming out story. When he passed away, I felt the need to complete my unfinished business and to come out to the most important people in my life – my family. I took on the courage of coming out and also introducing the love of my life to them. I recognized parts of disgust and disappointment but I bravely faced it. This is where I truly learned the meaning of following your heart.

I realized that in my case, my family was just as concerned as I am with how society would treat me. They simply did not know how to protect me. It is definitely a two-way process. Coming out is not just about yourself, it is also about your family and the people who care about you. You also need to assure them that you can handle it. Yes, it is an extra burden but eventually you will find your allies, in them or the people similar to you.

Right now, my boyfriend and I are both making the world a better place in our respective careers. My heart felt lighter now that my world is not concealed. I do hope that the future of coming out will be easier for everyone and that the world would be kinder. Not everyone can be as strong as me or can be surrounded by supportive people just like I did.

Time will never come back.

As a conclusion and a final word, I want to tell you that the success stories of older people you see should not be seen as an inspiration. Why? As time progresses, only luck will be our refuge. What will happen if luck was never on our side? As much as you can, do not, (I repeat) do not waste your time. Wasted time will turn into a cancer of regret that will haunt you for a lifetime.

Approaching my thirties, I also have a handful of regrets. These regrets will trigger all of the what-ifs which induce more heartache and frustration. Thus, when opportunities come in, think clearly and be decisive. It is hypocritical to say that you have no regrets. My mother once said that we are governed by our choices and that everything that happens in our life comes from our choices. Good or bad, make decisions, make choices. Don’t run from it. You will never know what lies ahead if you simply stop.

As a general strategy, I always act on decision points and let the things ahead progress until I reach another pit stop or face two paths to choose from. I never leave anything hanging, especially those with a deadline. After all, life is full of deadlines, we only fail to see them. Just think of your loved ones and even yourself, we never know for how long we stay in this world. If Colonel Sanders of KFC died in his 40s, would there even be KFC? I am not saying there is something wrong in his success story. He was a success because time permitted him to do so. We do not have the same success story, but we are all constrained with time.

So, these are the things I will tell my younger self. Enjoy life while it lasts and work on things you can control. Expectations will imprison you so do not dwell in it for too long. Chase your dream while you can. Follow your heart even if it means hurting it in the process. And always remember, time will never come back. You did it self. You will go far.

Should I Get a Credit Card Part 2: The Disadvantages

This article is a continuation of Should I Get a Credit Card Part 1: The Advantages.

Credit cards have become a convenience, especially to those with relatively stable income sources. These pieces of plastic as mentioned in the previous article offers several advantages that would make the owner financially efficient compared to conservative cash payers. However, these things do not just offer good things as it also provides several problems which you as the holder should be aware of.

There are a lot of points to consider in having a credit card that you can only find in the boring terms and conditions that we more often forget to read or take for granted. Applying for a credit card also ends up in allowing banks to access all of your financial information and you become profiled in terms of your credit standing. There are also things that are too good to be true and we simply fall for them without actually realizing we are losing more than what we thought we are getting. These include the annual fees and reward programs. At the same time, credit card customer service are often not as helpful as you expect.

“Free” Annual Fees

You should never think that everything is for free. Or probably, you haven’t heard of the saying that goes, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” This is exactly what credit cards are. Upon application, everything will be seemingly too good to be true. Banks would tell you several things like “free annual fee for life” or “first year of annual fee on us”. First, let us define what annual fees are. These are regularly billed fees every year as payment for the credit service that your bank provides.

These “free” offers usually tend to attract new cardholders or new entrants in that particular bank. But these same free offerings come with a finer print that we sometimes fail to read. Statements like “free annual fee” are on bigger font sizes followed by an asterisk (*) which details the condition far below the advertisement with a smaller font size saying, for example, “with a minimum of PHP20,000 spend within the first 60 days of card approval”. At this rate, you will be pressured to spend that much even if you don’t need to.

Now, some banks also offer free annual fees for their entry-level, non-premium credit cards. These usually do not have any rewards program and would plainly just be advantageous for transactors (those who always zero-out or pay off all of their monthly bills). The trick here for banks to earn a profit are for those who actually could not pay their monthly bills in full but would have the capacity to pay at least the minimum monthly dues. With that being mentioned, interest comes in as the primary source of income for banks with this card offering.

Rewards Programs (or really?)

Another way that people get attracted to credit cards are rewards. As mentioned in the previous articles, the rewards program often provide credits for loyalty programs such as the SMAC or the GoRewards, miles in airlines, and other similar schemes. If we bundle it with the previously mentioned annual fees, you will definitely get my point – those rewards aren’t truly free and you pay for those.

The rewards programs would usually give you cashback or rewards points for every specific spend, say 1 point or PHP1.00 for every PHP200 spend. If you do the math, let’s say you pay PHP3,000 for the annual fee of a credit card with a lifestyle rewards program. For you to actually breakeven with the rewards you are getting (at PHP1.00 for every PHP200 spend), you will need to spend at least PHP600,000. If you do not spend that much, you are not on the winning side of the rewards program. Unless you are rich enough to spend more than that, you are just being tricked into using credit cards and even paying off all of your monthly dues did not save you money in the sense.

However, this is just the tip of the iceberg of the rewards program scheme. We also fail to consider that merchants or simply, the stores we visit that accept credit cards usually pay banks administrative and processing fees for your payment. In effect, products tend to be costlier. Ever wonder why some stores offer discounts when you pay in cash or charge your credit card the full amount without installments? It is because they would no longer or at least pay less of those fees that banks charge.

Some stores arbitrarily offset these bank charges to all customers paying in cash or credit cards – just one price for all to avoid any complications. Thus, you can fairly say that when you pay in cash, you actually lose more money than with a credit card, especially if your card has a rewards program. Nonetheless, remember that rewards programs only favor big time spenders.

Customer Service

Let us be honest, a credit card is a business model. At the end of the day, banks would offer you all good things, to good to be true, at a hidden price. Otherwise, what good would they get from offering credit cards in the first place?

Customer service is a bit tricky with banks for credit cards. We get charged here and there. We get all the problems with the bank’s lack of diligence in securing our private data despite all of the assurance they provide in the fine print. Scams are rampant and we often carry the burden of the risks that banks do not necessarily assume. Although it is not my personal experience, I have heard stories of terrible customer service putting the banks into the advantage and crippling less financially literate credit cardholders. Simply put, that if you do not know your rights or read the fine print of a card’s terms and conditions, that is on you.

On a personal experience, I have been a victim of some unresolved technical glitches of the Cebu Pacific credit card offered by the Union Bank of the Philippines. It took over a year to get my rewards points credited to my account although in the fine print it mentioned that it will be automatically credited. I contacted the customer support of Union Bank which was not very helpful and did not yield results. Fed up with their unfulfilled promises, I resorted to filing a complaint with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. I was glad it was sorted out in a week. However, as I observed, the new rewards points I have been earning for several months are again not credited. So, yes, Union Bank is definitely off my list for good credit cards.

So I definitely guarantee that credit cards are only good while they keep their promises. When things go badly, their customer service representatives are programmed or oriented to always put the bank’s interests first before yours, especially if you are not a high tier cardholder. In addition, high tier cardholders are considered low risk for disputes considering that they would rarely mind the perks they earn, a complimentary access to an airport lounge is more than enough for them.

Credit Score

You may wonder how banks would set your credit limit. It can be based on your credit score. The credit score is a measure of your capacity to be able to pay for the money you owe. A lot of sources say that it can be based on the number of bank accounts you have, the flow of money that goes in and out, repayment history, and many more.

Thus, you are being profiled on your financial capacity. It is part of the credit card application process and you can simply not do away with this.

Another risk you can expect is that when you decide to close a credit card account, it will negatively impact your credit score and end up earning lower credit limits in your new applications, or worse, not qualifying at all. Thus, you have to be mindful when you apply for a credit card. One tip is to also ensure that you settled any debt before closing your credit card account i.e. paying your debt off and have a zero balance before notifying your bank that you wish to close the credit account.

Final Thoughts

So credit cards offer a handful of advantages and disadvantages. It lies to your judgment whether or not these are helpful. As society is leading towards digital transformation and banks get more creative in getting new credit card customers, financial literacy and inclusivity should be at the center of its success.

Financially, credit cards offer unprecedented efficiency in transactions versus what cash traditionally offered. It also offers banks a very lucrative business model to keep it afloat. After all, banks earn mostly from our debt. However, financial institution regulators should ensure these are not profiteered to fully realize a financially enabled, literate, and inclusive world.