-- July 2012 ~ Travel and Immigration 101
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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Rhapsody Residences - Resort-Inspired Condo in the South

Here's a good news for all those who wants to own a Condo unit but do not want to live in the busy cities like Quezon City or Makati City. Rhapsody Residences is DMCI Homes’s resort-inspired condominium village project located along East Service Road in Barangay Buli, Muntinlupa City. The construction that started two years ago is turnover ready by the fourth quarter of 2012.
Since DMCI Homes has been in the business for almost 60 years, it will be a plus factor for me because a land developer has to be reliable and be able to deliver their projects on time. Also, the community of Rhapsody Residences has access to main roads and is near business and technology hub Northgate Business District and the country’s premier shopping centers like Alabang Town Center and Festival Supermall. Health care is also not far with the Asian Hospital and Medical Center and that makes them standout with other Condos for Sale in Alabang Muntinlupa.
Here are some good reason to consider Rhapsody Residences;
  • Modern Construction Design
    • The project embodies a Neo-Asian architectural design for the modern urban dweller with a feel for traditional aesthetics - clean lines and minimalist style of Asian design combined with a bold and modern feel of wood structures and nature-inspired amenities. The project’s buildings also have single loaded hallways wherein homes are open to a view of garden atriums, landscaped with various ornamental plants and water features.
  • Comfortable Abode
    • Units are also fitting for start-up and growing families, who value a charming condo home that fulfills all their requirements and upwardly mobile professionals seeking space and comfort. Available are two-bedroom units that are considered roomier than the usual condo homes.
  • Sanctuary of Pursuit
    • The resort ambience can be experienced in lifestyle amenities available such as pocket parks, jogging paths, children's play area, basketball court, and a spacious play court for residents with active lifestyles. More than a hectare of the total land area is also dedicated to a diverse mix of outdoor amenities, and every home owner is bound to find a place to call their own within the community.
So if you prefer living in the South and looking for a condominium to move in soon south of Metro Manila Rhapsody Residences may just be the place for you. Read more information about it at http://www.dmcihomes.com. (Photo Source)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Cotabato City - A Must-Visit Tourist Destination in Philippines

A city evaded by most travelers, Cotabato City’s reputation is scarred by bombings, infrequent kidnappings and the infamous Maguindanao massacre, the single deadliest attack for journalists in history. What was once one of the most progressive cities in Mindanao, has declined economically in the past few years. Located at the heart of Maguindanao, but politically independent from the said province, this blemished beauty is slowly making its mark on the map of domestic tourism.
For first timers, the city may seem ordinary, not exactly the type that you will put on your bucket list for a leisurely walk. The bustling city center is clogged by tricycles and jeeps, vendors, and old, forgotten buildings. A few famed fast food chains have sprouted downtown, but still, nothing beats the Muslim dishes and delicacies sold at barbecue stalls and eateries. After a heavy breakfast at one of the eateries near Filipino Hotel, we walked further down Sinsuat Avenue stopping by its famous landmark – the Sultan Kudarat monument. This brave man is a Muslim hero who successfully opposed the Spanish colonization, and hindered the Christianization of Mindanao. His monument stands in Pedro Colina Hill which was once his lookout. At the base of the hill, one can find the Kutawato Cave, “kuta” means stone and “wato” is fort. This cave which is said to be the only cave in the Philippines located in the heart of the city used to be a hide-out of the Japanese soldiers during World War II.

The old municipal building in front of Rizal Park is now a mecca for the Philippine Marines, while a new municipal building lies outside the city center which can be reached by an Awang-bound jeep. Along the way, at Governor Guttierez Street, a good stop over is the Barter Trade Center. Although the original concept of barter (exchange of commodities) no longer exists here, it is still worth a visit because of the abundance of bargain goods. Original hand crafted Maranao products, brassware, sarongs, hijab (headscarf worn by Muslim women), tubao (a traditional Muslim headdress consisting of a long scarf wrapped around the head), batiks, malong (a tubular Muslim fabric worn as a skirt of blanket) and inaul (a Maguindanao hand-woven fabric) are sold everywhere.


But the highlight of our trip is the emerging tourist attraction of Cotabato City. The stunning Grand Mosque named after the Sultan of Brunei - Sultan Hadji Hassanal Bolkiah Masjid who partially funded this massive structure. The mosque has yellow domes and a couple of minarets, the walls inside are painted in white. This massive mosque can accommodate up to 800 male and 400 female worshippers. It can be reached by a habal-habal (motorcycle) or tricycle from the road fronting the Husky Bus Terminal.

With the rise of the Sultan Hadji Hassanal Bolkiah Masjid comes the hope that eventually more and more visitors will visit Cotabato City and finally understand why the city they fear earned the moniker - “The Promise Land”.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Tattoos can Cause Trouble for Immigrants

Legally immigrating to the United States can be a long and difficult process. Potential immigrants to this country have to maintain a job and clear criminal records or they can face deportation to their home country. It isn’t easy, but for those who achieve it, it is well worth it.
To add to the difficulty for immigrants, tattoos can also play a role in their being denied a green card to the become United States citizens. Many tattoos in certain countries and cultures have connections to gangs and other criminal organizations. Certain tattoos can affiliate a person from Japan with the Yakuza, certain iconography is associated with the Russian mafia, and various Latin street gangs have tattoos that identify their affiliations.

The issue with tattoos and gangs in Latin America has become a recent issue for immigrants from Mexico. The Wall Street Journal ran a recent article profiling two immigrants named Hector Villalobos and Rolando Mora Huerta. Villalobos has been working in the United States since 2006, but when he went back to Mexico to meet with an immigration officer about his processing for his green card, he was stopped at the border. He had two tattoos of the classic laughing/crying theatre masks—which can mean “Laugh Now, Cry Later” to certain gangs—on his back. Though Villalobos simply got the tattoos because he liked the artwork, that specific tattoo has been tied to Mexican gangs, and his re-entry into the country has been detained. He is awaiting review of his application, with no date set.

A similar situation happened to Huerta, who had been married to an American citizen, when he was arrested in 2008 for being the country illegally. His record showed only minor offenses, such as speeding. He was deported and in 2010 was interviewed at the United States consulate in Juarez, Mexico to attempt to get a visa. He had similar tattoos as Villalobos, though he denied any gang affiliations. His visa was denied to “have affiliation with a criminal organization”. Both men’s families are seeking legal action claiming profiling.

The trouble for these men is not unique in the world of tattoos and popular culture. There are instances of tattoos that marked one as affiliated with certain organizations that go back centuries. Yet as time has went on, the popular culture as time goes on and unfortunately law abiding citizens can find themselves in trouble with the law. With worries of gangs coming across the border with Latin American immigrants, the justice department can be accused of being “hyper cautious”, yet maybe they rightfully so given the current troubles that some of our southern neighbors are dealing with.

Unfortunately for these two men, their families, and others like them the love of artwork can has landed them in trouble with the law due to the lack of knowledge of the symbolism of their tattoos. Perhaps the moral of this story is not so much about immigrants being wrongfully deported and associated with gangs. Perhaps it is also a warning to those that get tattoos to make sure they research they symbolism before they get inked.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Black Canyon Coffee: Travel Free Thai Cuisine Experience

Hi guys here's a good news for all those who wanted to try Thai cuisine without travelling to Thailand. Last 24 June 2012, I was invited to attend a food tasting session and also launch of a new Thai style cafe-restaurant which is also their first branch in our country. Black Canyon Coffee is a cafe and restaurant based in Thailand and is located at the Food Street of the newly re-designed SM South Mall along the busy Alabang-Zapote Road of Las PiƱas City.

Black Canyon Coffee is one of the most successful Thai names in coffee and dining. They made its name from its concept of being a full-service casual dining coffee place that serves not only a wide range of specialty coffee drinks and beverages, but also a complete range of delicious and healthy Thai & International food items, and that separates Black Canyon Coffee on other typical structure of coffee shops today.

Take your pick from signature Thai dishes such their award-winning Pad Thai and spicy Tom Yum soup all the way to other international or Asian-fusion soups, pastas, steaks, noodles, salads, sandwiches, and various rice dishes. You can also rest assured that the taste is the same as the Thailand branches because Black Canyon Coffee prides itself on its very strict and consistent measurements of ingredients for every dish to preserve food quality. You can also indulge in any of Black Canyon Coffee’s 24 specialty coffee drinks and 40 special beverages, especially their “Black Canyon Iced Coffee” - a special blend of pure Arabica coffee with two kinds of milk and plenty of ice.

By the way, I can say that I was lucky enough to try some of their dishes. I tried their signature Black Canyon Coffee Frappe, it was perfect for me because it was strong and creamy which is my preference when it comes to coffee.
Black Canyon Coffee: New Thai Cafe-Restaurant in the Philippines
I also tried their signature dishes. They are really spicy but who cares I like the kick and the flavor. Here are some of the dishes that they served to us;
Black Canyon Coffee: New Thai Cafe-Restaurant in the Philippines
Fried Sesame Pork Strips
Black Canyon Coffee: New Thai Cafe-Restaurant in the Philippines
Green Curry
Black Canyon Coffee: New Thai Cafe-Restaurant in the Philippines
Deep-Fried Prawns in Tamarind
Grilled Black Pepper Salmon Salad
Black Canyon Coffee: New Thai Cafe-Restaurant in the Philippines
Tom Yum Soup
Black Canyon Coffee: New Thai Cafe-Restaurant in the Philippines
They also served some of their desserts the Thin roof and the Premium Mocha Chips which is perfect after the spicy dishes.
Thin Roof
Black Canyon Coffee: New Thai Cafe-Restaurant in the Philippines
Mocha Chips
Black Canyon Coffee: New Thai Cafe-Restaurant in the Philippines
Try now the taste of Thailand at the comfort of our country, Philippines. Black Canyon Coffee is now open at SM Southmall, Las Pinas City at the Food Strip. For more pictures check out the Event Lover’s Hideout page and visit their facebook page now for more information.

Photo credit: Azrael Colladila

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