Saturday, October 22, 2016


Located geographically closer to the Visayan group of islands, but politically grouped with an administrative region connected to Luzon, the province of Romblon has in the old days not really registered much on the radar of international tourists and local Filipino travelers – in the latter case, they likely only knew it before as the islands where the country’s marble comes from.

The advent of the information age has done wonders to transform its image into a secret exotic travel destination, to the point that its constituent island of Sibuyan is now occasionally nicknamed the Asian Galapagos due to its biodiversity. The fact that the province is actually really close to Boracay via Tablas Island has helped a great deal too.

Today it’s ridiculously easy and relatively inexpensive for you to get to Romblon and see its wonders for yourself. Here’s a quick rundown.


Going by sea to Romblon is possible, if you’re not in a real hurry and are rugged enough to stand a 10-hour sea trip. Be smart and get there quicker thanks to the national flag carrier, Philippine Airlines, with twice weekly domestic flights every Wednesday and Sunday, from Manila to Romblon province, touching down at Tugdan Airport in the municipality of Alcantara, Tablas Island at 11 AM, with the flights returning to Manila that same day at 12 noon.


Land travel in the province is much the same as anywhere in the Philippines with jeepneys and tricycles aplenty. For transport between the primary islands of Romblon, Tablas and Sibuyan, as well as the island municipalities without connecting roads you can rely on ferries, pump-boats and motor launches. A small airstrip planned in Sibuyan will cater to small charter flights and general aviation.


The lion’s share of touristy sights to see in Romblon province can be found within easy reach in Romblon Island, around the provincial capital of Romblon (see what I did there?). You could start by checking out the product that put these islands on the map: marble, of the finest Italian-level export quality, and in a good spectrum of shades too. The Marble Shopping Center in the town center avails tourists with a wide variety of finished products from engraved key-chains to sculpture. If your tastes in the latter go really big, you’d do well to drop by in the slew of marble workshops only 20 minutes out from town, where you can commission some really huge pieces. Or you could explore the Spanish Colonial past of the town. Climb up the hill in town to reach the 17 th century Fort San Andres, built to protect the nearby settlements from Moro pirate raids; then drop in at the 15 th century San Jose Cathedral and Belfry, built by the Recollect fathers in limestone and brick.

Being an archipelagic province, Romblon is not lacking in pretty beaches to lounge around it. It’s nothing quite like Boracay to the southwest, but it’s guaranteed near unspoiled. Close to Romblon island is Bonbon Beach with a sweet 2-kilometer sandbar that connects uninhabited Bang-ug isle at low tide. It’s popular with locals and foreign visitors alike. On Tablas to the west you can visit the protected marine sanctuary in Looc Bay, home to a diverse species of sea life. Whether you plan to swim and snorkel with the fishes, or just feed them from the floating house aquarium at the center of the bay, you’re bound to have a blast. Tablas has beaches too, from the pristine Binucot Beach to the developed Aglicay Resort, where international travelers tend to go. On Sibuyan to the east their answer to Bonbon is the islet of Cresta de Gallo, with its own tidal sandbar and relative seclusion; only one family of fishermen make their home there.

Venturing inland of Sibuyan, you’ll find the floral and faunal wonders that give it the nickname of Asian Galapagos (other than the fact that the island was proven to not have been connected to any other part of the Philippines since ancient times). This has given it a menagerie of indigenous species of fruit bats, woodpeckers and pitcher plants. A short distance from San Fernando town is the Catingas River, considered the cleanest river in the country (and one of the world’s), where you can swim and drink through preferably not at the same time.


If these teasers have managed to whet your appetite for adventure, then don’t hesitate nor delay! When you’re in the Philippines book a flight from Manila to Romblon now! Let The Travelpedia take care of your booking needs. You’ll understand soon why, even after being opened up to tourism, Romblon retains the mystique of being a “secret” destination. Romblon’s so definitely worth it.

Special thanks to Philippine Airlines on Facebook, and

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CAMERON Leaves UK Parliament Altogether

Over two months have passed since the Brexit referendum, since Conservative David Cameron resigned as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and made way for Theresa May. But now comes the final nail in the coffin, so to speak, as Cameron announced that he is also resigning his post as Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency of Witney in Oxfordshire, effectively leaving British government completely.

BBC reports that on Monday September 12, Cameron spoke to the Prime Minister, Conservative leaders in Oxfordshire, the staff of his Witney MP seat, and his London constituency staff, announcing his decision to resign as MP after “thinking long and hard about it over the summer”, following the hotly contested referendum that has left the UK in some manner of limbo with regards to the European Union. He noted that while he was honored to have represented his constituency in Parliament, he also did not want his remaining presence in as a former PM turned back-bench MP to unnecessarily distract their attention from now PM May’s implementation of new policies.

The 49-year old Cameron also denied that his decision to resign was a form of protest against May’s decision to allow the opening of new grammar schools in the country, something he had held great reservations for during his premiership. The timing was merely coincidental, he insisted.

His resignation was effective immediately, necessitating a quick by-election in Witney for a successor to the MP seat.

Cameron’s time in Parliament began in 2001 with his election as Witney MP, eventually becomig leader of the Conservative Party in 2005 and elected as Prime Minister in 2010. He was re-elected in 2015 after the Conservatives retained a majority in the House of Commons, but only after appeasing factions clamoring for the UK’s exit from the EU by promising a referendum to be held in the event of a Conservative victory. Experts believe he had greatly underestimated the amount of support for the measure, spurring his decision to resign in the wake of the successful “Brexit” vote. While he had expressed his intention to continue serving in Commons as MP, Cameron has since described his position as too divisive for the new leadership despite having expressed his full support for PM May.

Fellow MPs and May herself took to Twitter in expressing their opinions over Cameron’s resignation, reminiscing over their days working with him and understanding his reasons for leaving. William Hague shared the former PM’s viewpoint that former Prime Ministers who remained in Parliament are often accused of being inactive or merely distracting. PM May offered her well wishes.

"I now look forward to a life outside of Westminster,” Cameron said in his statement. “But [I] hope to continue to play a part in public service and to make a real and useful contribution to the country I love."

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The 2016 Paralympics in Rio are still going on full throttle, and already some inspiring stories have taken place, tales of athletes who have achieved greatness and glory in sports for the differently abled, but also containing some sobering and even bittersweet tinge to their victories.

Following are selections of these heartwarming and heartbreaking tales of triumph and tragedy for the brave Paralympians in Rio, as reported in BBC.

On the Paralympic swimming events, Yip Pin Xiu of Singapore became a bona fide double gold Paralympian when she beat her own world record for the 200m women’s backstroke to win gold Saturday September 10. She won gold for the first time back in Beijing 2008. She would post a picture on Instagram of herself being emotional with fellow Singapore Paralympian Theresa Goh, whose muscular dystrophy has given her disproportionately small legs yet did not stop her from competing in the Paralympics since Athens 2004, yet it was only on that same Saturday that she medaled at last after coming in third on the 100m women’s breaststroke, with her Bronze being Singapore’s second overall medal for these games.

The photo Yip posted would ignite anew calls within her country to have differently abled athletes like her and Goh receive the same recognition and pay that regular Olympians get when they come home with medals. These crusaders point at the perks and benefits that able bodied Joseph Schooling got when he beat his idol Michael Phelps to win Singapore’s first Olympic gold in Rio just the month before: a hero’s welcome, lifetime free flights on AirAsia, advertising deals, and a S$1 million prize. Then they note the disparity in Yip’s projected prize of only S$160,000 reward, and that’s before taxes. While Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong has officially praised Yip’s efforts, more people in the island state are calling for him and other benefactors to do more. Singapore Airlines supposedly has plans for her, but merely asked the curious to stay tuned.

Meanwhile, Paralympian Marieke Vervoort of Belgium came in second place at the women’s 400m wheelchair to win a silver medal, which she acknowledges to be her last at the Paralympic Games.

The reason is that her degenerative muscle disease, for which there is no cure, has deteriorated her physical performance to the point that she may not live to see, much less compete in, the Games for 2020.

Her condition is so bad in fact, that as early as 2008 she has signed documents allowing her physicians to euthanize her when she is no longer functional, a choice that is legal in her native Belgium as well as Luxembourg and the Netherlands. While happy with her win, she’s also sad to be leaving behind a sport she can no longer enjoy. But although Vervoort has signed her means of death, she still means to live her life as long and as best she can.

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Samsung Galaxy NOTE 7 Recalls Hurts Stock and Shares

In the wake of the burning and exploding Galaxy Note 7 smartphones fiasco, Korean electronics giant Samsung finds itself reeling from massive hits to its stock after the company flat-out asked the new owners of its faulty latest product to stop using and return them.

Fortune reports that by Monday September 12, Samsung shares have just dropped by 7%, their lowest ever in the span of two months. And when aviation authorities issued warnings that the Galaxy Note 7, documented by unlucky users as being prone to catching fire and going boom while charging, was not to be allowed on board aircraft, Samsung bit the bullet and issued an alert to its customers on September 10 to have their new phones switched off and swapped as soon as possible.

As expected, investors were turned off by the inadvertent scare and pulled out a painful $15.9 billion out of Samsung’s market capital, pretty much killing the momentum of their new gadget even as Apple recently announced their latest iPhone to the public.

Analyst Lee Seung-woo of IBK Securities only sees things getting worse for Samsung in the form of abysmal sales predictions for the end of the year, saying, “Some said initially the Galaxy Note 7 could be the best smartphone ever, but now it’s possible the phone will go down as the worst ever.”

The Galaxy Note 7 recall, which started September 2, was something Samsung has never done before, much less on such a grand scale. The company has reported selling about 2.5 million units of the defective smartphone that warrant an immediate replacement, figures that would cost them revenue estimated about as much as $5 billion worth from the costs of recall alone, according to analysts.

Greg Roh of HMC Investment opines that even if Samsung manages to replace the inferior phone batteries believed to be the root cause of the Galaxy Note 7 fires and explosions, the initial scare
 the defects wrought would ensure that the model would not be selling as hot as it did when it first came out August. “Long-term, it will cost Samsung significant marketing spending to ensure the next products can overcome this issue,” he says.

After strong sales of the Galaxy S7 phones beginning March, the faults of the Galaxy Note 7 seem bent on negating these earlier gains. The recall caused Note 7 sales in the US to stop for an indeterminate period of time, while launches in Europe and other world regions have been delayed.

If it’s any comfort at all to Samsung, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus reveals didn’t quite go over well with fans of the beloved and now removed headphone audio jack either. You can’t please them all.

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Friday, October 21, 2016

NURSE from 1945 VJ DAY Picture has Passed Away

On August 14, 1945 Japan accepted the terms of surrender laid out to them by the Allied Powers. While a formal signing of a surrender document would not be until later on September 2, the initial announcement was enough to cause celebrations around the world, known as “Victory over Japan” or “V-J Day”. The United States was no exception to the outbreak of spontaneous revelry, as was the case in New York City’s Times Square, where a random gesture was captured by photographers and immortalized as an iconic image of the end of World War II.

That was the picture entitled “V-J Day in Times Square” by the late photojournalist Alfred Eisenstaedt which appeared in Life Magazine, depicting a Navy sailor dipping a nurse in her white uniform and planting a kiss on her lips. With the passing of decades the identities of the impromptu couples was verified as those of George Mendonsa (the sailor, whose girlfriend and eventual wife was in the background of an unused shot) and Greta Zimmer, who was actually not a nurse but a dental assistant.

Recently there came some sad news: Greta Zimmer-Friedman has died, according to her son Joshua Friedman who told CBS News, last Thursday September 8. She had been living at a nursing home in Richmond, Virginia for the past two years, where she was having health complications due to her advanced age, ultimately succumbing to pneumonia at 92 years old.

An Austrian Jew, Greta Zimmer had fled with her sisters to America at the onset of the Holocaust brought about by Adolf Hitler’s regime. Her parents, who had planned to follow their children later, were caught and perished in concentration camps. She attended the Fashion Institute of Technology and supported her sisters by designing dolls’ clothes in addition to working as an assistant to brother dentists who with a joint practice clinic.

Zimmer had been on break from work during the V-J Day revelry on Times Square and was watching the celebration when George Mendonza grabbed her for the kiss. In her own words during a 2012 CBS interview, “I did not see him approaching, and before I know it I was in this tight grip.” Mendonsa explained his action as being driven by admiration for the nurses he saw tending to survivors from the sunken carrier USS Bunker Hill, who were rescued by his ship USS Sullivans. Having mistaken Zimmer for a nurse because of her white uniform, he decided to kiss her. Mendonsa then went on his way with his bemused girlfriend unaware that he and Zimmer had been photographed.

CBS News reunited Mendonsa and Zimmer at the famous Times Square spot in 2012. Joshua Friedman said his mother will be laid to rest with her late husband Dr. Mischa Friedman at Arlington National Cemetery.

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