Visa-Free Quests for Ref Magnets recently issued a news and clarification that Filipinos can visit 25 countries around the world without the need for a tourist visa.  This is in clarification to the starting-to-get viral Facebook post that Filipinos can go to 60 countries visa-free.  Press Link here for the clarification and list of visa-free countries which if you will actually count is 26.

I have been a believer of my country’s awesomeness but I love being a tourist and I fancy travelling out of the country.  Nengkoy (my mom) in her exasperated demeanor would often tell me that I don’t have kayamanan (investments, wealth and assets) because according to her my kayamanan are the experiences I gained out from my travels out of the country. So when I checked on the list, there have been six countries that I have already personally visited out of the 26 countries listed.

In each of the destinations I go to, may it be out of the country or within, I always make it a point to bring home with me a memento.  A “delicious” budget traveler like me cannot afford to buy exorbitant souvenirs like paintings, crystals or even silver spoons so I would settle for the cheapest.  That would be a ref magnet!  So, without further pomp and circumstance, here’s a look at the treasures of my adventures:

malaysia "truly asia"

morocco "land of the setting sun"

"amazing" thailand

vietnam "timeless charm"

"your" singapore

hongkong "best place, best taste"

Availability of ref magnets in tourist destinations bearing the name of the city or country as a simple memento is an indication that such place or destination is a tourist hub.

Anyway, referring back to the list, I still have a long way to go in covering all these countries.  I still have 20 more countries to go to visa-free.  However, I noticed that Macau is not included in the list.  It’s also visa-free…

macau "a world of difference"

I do not have investments and Nengkoy is correct. I may have zero assets, humongous liabilities and mediocre net worth but the experiences and wisdoms I gained out from these travels are priceless.

Sa Mars at Jupiter kaya may rep-magnet? 

Filipino is the Language of the Advantaged

After reading the full text and while we are in the midst of all rants and negative reactions from the recent article written by James Soriano (entitled Language, Leaning, Identity, Privilege) published in Manila Bulletin website, the first thought that entered my mind is that childish Soriano has yet to experience the advantage of speaking a unique language.

I think Soriano will only appreciate the Filipino language not by just reading the classic and one of the masterpieces of Philippine literature entitled Florante at Laura or by merely listening to the Filipino language calisthenics of Fliptop (the modern day Balagtasan in rap form) but by going out to tour another country with a fellow Filipino.

Filipino language can be a great tool for safety if you are out of the country.  One specific case in point is when I and a fellow Pinoy went to Morocco.  We planned to walk and tour the labyrinthine medina in Fez but when we arrived at the gate of the walled city, we felt a sense of danger of being mobbed.  I and my friend spoke in Filipino so that no Morrocan can understand what would be our immediate plan so as to be safe.  Still in Morocco, when we ride a jampacked train we would speak in Filipino to remind each other to mind our belongings from pick pockets.  In this way, we can continuously enjoy our journey by staying safe and cautious without the locals ever knowing that we are suspicious of some of the locals behind or in front of us.

When you are on tour out of the country, Filipino language can be a mode to blurt out over the top emotions of anger when the situation calls for it just to steam out your feelings without offending a local.  When me and my family went to Guangzhou China (as part of our Hong Kong tour package), the tourist guide led us to one of the bargain shopping malls.  In one of the electronic stores, I tried to haggle with a store attendant to lower down the price of a memory card.  The sales representative was a pain in the neck with his demeanor.  I did not buy the memory card and before I stepped out of his store, I shook his hand, smiled at him and told him “Gago Ka!”  The sales attendant was smiling at me when I left his store.

At the other end of the spectrum, Filipino language can be a mode to steam out your uncontrollable infatuation without embarrassing yourself towards a local without this people ever knowing that you are ablaze with their looks.  When I and a friend went to Blue Mountains in New South Wales, Australia we need to take a bus ride from the town of Katoomba.  As we get up the bus, my friend noticed that the Caucasian bus driver was strikingly good looking.  We sat on the available seats just behind the driver.  While the bus is running, my friend could no longer contain her scrutiny about the bus driver and told me, “Grabe HR and gwapo ng nagmamaneho.”  With her usual comical and mischievous nature she told me in her normal sounding voice, “Siguro pinkish ang titi nyan!”  We laugh out loud throughout the bus ride without the driver and other passengers knowing what we were talking about.

Now for Mr. Soriano, one piece of advice, get out of the country with a Filipino fellow and enjoy, realize and appreciate the advantages of speaking Filipino.  You will surely use your pandiwa, pang-uri, pang-abay, pantangi and panghalip.

Kasi naman… Nagmamagaling… Di naman kagalingan…