Basic seminars on stock trading by COL Financial and First Metro Securities

COL Financial and First Metro Securities

Online stock brokers COL Financial and First Metro Securities

My basic knowledge on investing in the stock market

Prior to attending the basic seminars on stock trading offered by stock brokerage firms COL Financial and First Metro Securities (the stock brokerage arm of Metrobank), I had no idea how to get – and invest – in the stock market. I only had the following basic ideas:

  • Stocks are shares of ownership in a company.
  • If a business is listed in the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE), it can be owned by the public.
  • Stock market is risky at first but when you study it over time, the risks become minimal.
  • If the stock market is down, the economy is in a bad shape. If it plunges further, the country is on its way to a serious economic/financial crisis. (Please correct me if I am wrong on this.)
  • (If the aforementioned notion is true, then…) That’s the best time to buy stocks. (I have heard a popular saying which goes like this, “The best time to buy is where there is blood on the streets.”)
  • Plus, the best time to invest in stocks is when the prices of stocks go down.
  • Investing in mutual funds is one way to invest in the stock market. A mutual fund is a pool of money professionally managed and invested in specific types of securities. The fund manager monitors the markets wherein the funds are invested and also looks for more opportunities to invest, always with the intention to maximize the returns of the fund (definition from First Metro Asset Management or FAMI, the mutual fund arm of Metrobank).

Insights from Bo Sanchez

I also read a book by a popular lay preacher and entrepreneur, Bo Sanchez, who advised his readers to invest, not trade, in the stock market. He said, “I don’t believe ordinary people show be trading. I repeat, 80 percent of people lose their money in the stock market. My belief is that most of those 80 percent are traders. And most of the 20 percent who do earn money in the stock market are investors. So leave the trading to full-time traders, people who do this eight hours a day.

So says the man who owns plenty of businesses and non-government organizations and invests in many different mutual funds. Of course, that is his opinion. It is from him I learned the difference between trading and investing in the stock market.

Bo Sanchez also said, “Trading is buying stocks and selling them within a few days. Investing is buying stocks and selling them in six months or never! (Warren Buffet, the man who made his billions in the stock market, rarely sells his stocks.)”

A free seminar and a paid seminar

I believed I was in the right place and time to receive new opportunities for learning.

One person I met at work is a COL member. She isn’t a regular investor, though, but whenever she could, she invests in stocks of companies, such as Jollibee, SM, and BDO. She told me about the free seminars COL Financial gives every week. So, I visited their Facebook page for schedules. I immediately signed up.

One Facebook friend posted a link to a Basic Education on Stock Trading (B.E.S.T) seminar offered by First Metro Securities. It wasn’t for free; the fee costs PhP 1000 but only PhP 700 for early birds. Since I had extra bucks, I registered. I went to the nearest bank to pay the fee.

Because the COL seminar was free, the venue was filled to capacity; some of the attendees even brought children. In my estimate, there were around 80 people, most of them middle-aged.

At the B.E.S.T of First Metro Securities, there were only around 30 people, mostly young professionals. Some of the attendees even came late. (Let me say this: When you pay good money to attend a seminar that could change your financial situation, you should never arrive late. You lose your money’s worth if you arrive late.)

I would like to mention that both venues are of the similar size.

What I have learned at COL and FirstMetroSec

I could say a lot. I would like to emphasize the following:

  • The higher the returns, the higher the risks and the longer the investment horizon.
  • You need to go through a broker to buy stocks.
  • A good stock can be a bad stock at the wrong time.
  • Limit your stocks to 3-5 companies.
  • One earns from the stock market through capital appreciation and dividends.
  • Invest in the long term to earn from stocks, mutual funds, and exchange-traded funds.
  • Save for safety. Invest for growth. Build your growth fund.
  • Don’t save forever. Saving is not enough. Saving is not equal to investing.
  • You cannot enjoy the journey of saving if you are paying loans.
  • Beat inflation by investing. Work smarter by buying investments.
  • Investing your money in a money market mutual fund is better and yields more than putting your money in time deposits of banks.
  • An index fund is composed of the country’s 30 largest and most active listed stocks. If you invest in an index fund, you invest in these top companies.
  • There are six top mutual fund houses in the country. Aside from FAMI, the other five are Sun Life Asset Management, PhilEquity Management, Philam Asset Management, ALFM Mutual Funds (by BPI), and ATR Asset Management (ATRAM).
  • One’s investment personality can change overtime. Plus, a person’s definition of success changes when they get older.

Investing through COL and FirstMetroSec

Both COL Financial (formerly Citiseconline) and First Metro Securities are online stock brokers. They have online platforms that offer investors access to both stocks and the six top mutual fund houses. COL investors invest in mutual funds through its Fund Source while FirstMetroSec invest through FundsMart.
Potential investors can open an account onsite, though First Metro Securities loves to do paperless transaction.

To open an account with COL or FirstMetroSec, you need to fill out a form and submit photocopies of important documents, such as government issued IDs, proof of billing, and bank account details (the most important). (Please contact COL Financial or First Metro Securities or visit the nearest office in your city to know more about these documents and how to submit them.)

With COL, investors pay PhP 1000 or PhP 2500, depending on the account they sign up. With FirstMetroSec, it’s PhP 2500. The best part is that you use the fee to initially fund your online account so you can start buying stocks or investing in the mutual funds of your choice.

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Of Duterte, Quiboloy, and KAPA

Apolonario and Quiboloy: Prosperity Preachers

Prosperity Preachers Apolonario and Quiboloy give religions a bad name.

Disclaimer: I wrote this blog post not to defend KAPA Community Ministry International, Inc. a religious organization that is involved in a Ponzi scheme.

Philippine political and religious realities

In Philippine politics, the leaders, especially those belonging to political dynasties and large prominent rich families, wear rose-colored glasses, occupy heavenly thrones, and believe they are the law. Worse, they think they are equal to God… or above God. (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte called God “stupid” while lambasting Catholic clergymen last year.)

Quiboloy and Duterte

Pastor Quiboloy and President Duterte

In Philippine religion, the church hierarchy endears itself to the rich and famous. Religious leaders surround themselves with rich and powerful friends in both the government and entertainment industry.

A number of Filipino celebrities are politicians themselves or have loved ones in positions of power. Many of them are practicing religious adherents and the most vocal ones, as evident in their social media accounts, are evangelicals or born-again Christians. However, many of them are blind to the blatant human rights violations committed by the government.

Religious leaders mix piety and prosperity in their theology; some others mix power and prosperity. Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy, a founder of a Davao City-based restorationist church (which is more is a cult and less than a church) the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name (which is more of a personality cult and less than a Christ-centered church) proclaims himself as the Appointed Son of God and the owner of the world. (Some sources say ‘owner of the universe.’)

And speaking of Duterte and Quiboloy… and power and prosperity…

Apolinario and Quiboloy make money off religion

Pastor Apolinario and Pastor Quiboloy

Much ado about KAPA

Last June 8, President Duterte appeared on Give Us This Day, a religious TV program of Pastor Quiboloy on his media network Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI). There, the president ordered the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to arrest the people behind KAPA, investigate, and throw the book at them.

KAPA is short for Kabus Padatuon (in English, make the poor rich). KAPA is founded by a Pastor Joel Apolinario in Bislig, Surigao del Sur and is registered in the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a religious organization. It promises its 4-5 million members, mostly in Mindanao and Visayas, that after they make a one-time “donation” (minimum of PhP 10,000) to the organization, they will be receiving 30% of the amount per month – and for life as a “love gift” or blessings.

Wow! Could you imagine? Your donated money will grow 30% per month and for life. But for President Duterte, it’s too good to be true – and if it’s too good to be true, then it’s a scam. He saw the activities of KAPA as clearly a form of syndicated estafa and pyramiding. For this reason, he ordered the CIDG, NBI and PNP to raid and seize KAPA which, according to media reports, has about PhP 100 billion worth of assets, including a luxury car, SUVs, and a helicopter.

Earlier this year, the SEC issued a cease and desist order against KAPA for soliciting investments, dubbed by KAPA as “donations,” from the public without the necessary (secondary) license.

KAPA members, from Luzon to Mindanao, particularly the ones who have received their blessings, lost no time in coming together in droves at prayer rallies all over the country. They appealed to God to touch the heart and change the mind of President Duterte. Elsewhere on social media, KAPA members mocked Pastor Quiboloy, blaming him for their problem.

President Duterte and Pastor Quiboloy

President Duterte and Pastor Quiboloy

President Duterte, a lapdog of Pastor Quiboloy

Rumors are rife that Pastor Quiboloy was behind KAPA’s predicament. It is said that he envies the success of KAPA, which managed to snatch members from his church (which, in reality, is not a church but a cult). He used his deep friendship with President Duterte to put a full stop to KAPA’s activities.

The president, who owed his political success to the self-proclaimed messiah, acquiesced… not knowing that many KAPA members voted for him in the 2016 elections and for his senatorial candidates in the recent midterm elections.

President Duterte has no qualms about threatening Catholic clergymen, attacking the Catholic or Christian religion, insulting God and the Bible, making rape jokes, appointing questionable (and incompetent) people to government positions, etc. However, he keeps quiet about the alleged corruption and spiritual repression in another Philippine-based restorationist nontrinitarian church that drew the ire of netizens for supporting senatorial candidates whose names are synonymous with graft and corruption, plunder, incompetence, and human rights violations.

Early in his term, President Duterte appointed the leader of that church to a government position. In 2015, this religious leader expelled his mother from the church, which is founded by his grandfather more than a century ago. It is said that members who spoke up against the corruption in the church were expelled too; some others were persecuted and, worse, murdered. One former minister, who was once ‘abducted’ along with his young family on orders of the people closest to that religious leader, managed to gain asylum in Canada.

If President Duterte can keep mum about the corruption and spiritual repression in that church, he can also keep mum about Pastor Quiboloy’s shenanigans and false teachings.

Just last year, a female member of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name (which is not a church but a cult), was arrested for cash smuggling in Hawaii. She, a US citizen and business manager of the church’s (but in reality, a cult) branch in Hawaii, was caught trying to smuggle more than US$350,000 and AUS$9,000 in black socks during a flight en route to the Philippines. She was also charged with accessory for helping Pastor Quiboloy avoid arrest and prosecution. She was on board the self-proclaimed messiah’s private plane.

Pastors Apolinario and Quiboloy mock Christianity

Pastors Apolinario and Quiboloy

Pastor Quiboloy was reported to be briefly detained at the Honolulu airport over the attempted bulk cash smuggling incident. He later returned to the Philippines via a commercial flight.

This female follower and Pastor Quiboloy were also investigated by the FBI for alleged human trafficking. The former was previously arrested in 2015 “for allegedly assaulting a fellow church member, who claimed she was forced to raise money.” The alleged victim said she was made to sell “manapua and Krispy Kreme” donuts for church fundraisers “rain or shine.” She said church members were punished if they didn’t sell enough.

As expected, President Duterte was mum. Of course, he admitted he received properties and cars from his spiritual advisor, the self-proclaimed messiah. Rumors were also rife that his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio coveted the cars given to her father by Pastor Quiboloy but denied the rumors.
Read more:

FBI investigates Quiboloy church in Hawaii for trafficking | Rappler

Woman on private jet with Pastor Quiboloy to Philippines smuggled cash — US agents | Philippine Star

Quiboloy follower charged with cash smuggling; lawyer speaks up | ABS-CBN News

Quiboloy gave me cars, properties – Duterte | The Manila Times 

Sara denies coveting SUV gifted to President Duterte | GMA News Online

President Duterte has the galls to question and mock Catholic or Christian beliefs, call God ‘stupid,’ insult the Apostles and the saints, and poke his nose on the Catholic Church sexual abuse cases. However, he has no balls to pry into and question Pastor Quiboloy’s false teachings and preposterous claims.

Pastor Quiboloy claims to be the appointed son of God, the owner of the world (some sources say ‘owner of the universe’), the owner of the gold reserves of the United States and Germany, etc. Of course, his followers, brainwashed as they are for all times, believe him and put him above Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. Of course, Duterte, who is blind and dumb and forever in debt of the self-proclaimed messiah, dares not to question his spiritual advisor.

Read more to know why Pastor Quiboloy’s Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name is not a church but a cult:

Apollo C. Quiboloy Exposed | Truth On Fire 

The New Owner of the World | Reddit

Confronting the Filipino Son of God | Cultish

False Teacher – Apollo Quiboloy | The Path of Truth

Signs of a Cult and Pastor Apollo Quiboloy | Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry (CARM) 

Apollo C. Quiboloy Exposed | Jesus is Savior 

The best president in the universe and the owner of the world (or the universe)… they are both from Davao City… they are both out of their mind.

President Duterte curses God and the Apostles, the clergy and the saints. Pastor Quiboloy exploits God and his religious followers for his political and financial ends.

Jesus Christ is a political martyr. Pastor Quiboloy is a political whore.

KAPA members and Pastor Quiboloy

KAPA members and Pastor Quiboloy

Poor KAPA

Pastor Joel Apolinario of KAPA Community Ministry International is an unfortunate guy. It took him less than five years to build up his massive fortune (and acquire a helicopter too). But because he has no friends in high places, no politicians and celebrities to stand up for him, he becomes stressed out and miserable. He is a few meters to poverty and prison.

What has become of his followers? Helpless and desperate!

KAPA could have been a more ecumenical church but like Pastor Quiboloy’s cult, it is no church. It did not plant churches but offices to receive “donations” from members. There were no worship services, only pay-outs. In the process, Pastor Apolinario and his followers worship Mammon.

KAPA, “The Church within The Church?” Nay, the slogan should be “Making Money out of The Church.”

KAPA Community Ministry International and Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name exist to make their founders rich.

Pastors Apolinario and Quiboloy make religion a profitable business

Pastors Apolinario and Quiboloy

The timing can’t be right

President Duterte ordered the crackdown on KAPA just 27 days after the midterm elections. Had he ordered the crackdown a few days before the elections, his senatorial candidates could have lost. Think about it.

President Duterte, Pastor Quiboloy, and Pastor Joel Apolinario… They are Bisaya people. They are from Mindanao. They are rich. They scam the people in different ways.

Some 48G and Sakamichi Series idols who had graduated (and I will miss)

Rino Sashihara, Sayaka Yamamoto, Rina Ikoma, Nanase Nishino

L to R: Sashihara Rino (HKT48/AKB48), Yamamoto Sayaka (NMB48/AKB48), Ikoma Rina (Nogizaka46/AKB48), and Nishino Nanase (Nogizaka46)

Idols come and go but the love remains

I will never forget 2018… ‘twas the year a number of idols from both the 48G and Sakamichi Series groups graduated: Sashihara Rino, Yamamoto Sayaka, Ikoma Rina, and Nishino Nanase, among others. The major idol set to graduate this year is Nagahama Neru of Keyakizaka46. (Because she’s about to graduate, I included her in this list.)

Of course, Idols come and go. They can’t stay forever in the business. They have a post-idol career to think of. They have to fall in love, get married, and raise a family. They have to say goodbye. It’s life.

Idols come and go… but the love remains. Creating this blog post is one way of expressing my love for them. I love you, girls!

Sashihara Rino

Rino Sashihara AKB48 Senbatsu

HKT ace Sashihara Rino wins her 3rd title as senbatsu queen in 2016 (image from Jpop Asia)

Never one of my favorite idols, even if she’s one of the sexiest and most beautiful in the 48 universe, four-time senbatsu queen, and idol producer… even if she had performed wearing a bikini at one of HKT48’s concerts. But there is no denying she’s one of the best.

Notable songs: Koi Suru Fortune Cookie, Kokoro no Placard, #SukiNanda, Tobe Nai Agehachou, Kimi no Koto ga Suki Dakara, Majijo Teppen Blues

Yamamoto Sayaka

Sayaka Yamamoto NMB48

Former NMB48 ace Yamamoto Sayaka graduated in 2018 (Image from Tokyo Girls Update)

I was first conscious of her way back in 2013 when I watched the MV to “Nante Bohemian” for the first time. Then in 2014, I saw the MV to “Ibiza Girl.” I realized she’s got the… well, never mind. She’s one of the most talented in the 48 universe.

Notable songs: Ibiza Girl, Must be now, Ima Naraba, Nante Bohemian

Ikoma Rina

Ikoma Rina Nogizaka46 AKB48 Kokoro no Placard

Ikoma Rina in attire for AKB48’s 2014 senbatsu single “Kokoro no Placard” (Image from Fanpop)

She isn’t sexy. She’s just an average beauty. But she’s got charm, which is one reason I find her likable. She’s got that, you know, boyish feminine appeal (when she still sported a short hairdo.) And I like her. She reminds me of Atsuko Maeda.

Notable songs: First five singles of Nogizaka46, Natsu no Free & Easy, Yubi Bouenkyou, Shakiism, Tsuki no Okisa, Korogatta Kane wo Narase!, Sekai de Ichiban Kodoku na Lover, Kokoro no Placard

Nishino Nanase

Nishino Nanase Nogizaka46

Nishino Nanase, formerly of Nogizaka46. She is the center of four singles. (Image from Koreaboo)

To date, one of the three major Nogizaka46 members to graduate, in my opinion. (The other two were Hashimoto Nanami and Ikoma Rina.) I was surprised when she centered “Inochi wa Utsukushii” in 2015, the first single released that year. (I expected Ikoma Rina or Ikuta Erika to center it.) I miss her… because I like her.

Notable songs: Natsu no Free & Easy, Nandome no Aozora ka?, Inochi wa Utsukushii, Ima, Hanashitai Dareka ga Iru, Sayonara no Imi, Influencer, Itsuka Dekirukara Kyou Dekiru, Shakiism, Tsuki no Okisa, Sekai de Ichiban Kodoku na Lover, Hitori yogari

Wakatsuki Yumi

Wakatsuki Yumi Nogizaka46

Wakatsuki Yumi (Image from first PB)

In my opinion, the second most beautiful Nogi idol (after Eto Misa). I miss her ‘coupling’ with Sakurai Reika.

Notable songs: Nandome no Aozora ka?, Sayonara no Imi, Yubi Bouenkyou, Tsuki no Okisa

Eto Misa

Eto Misa Nogizaka46

Eto Misa (Image from second PB)

Probably the most beautiful idol in the 46 universe. I began to pay her attention only when she announced her graduation last year. I also found out that… well, it is enough to say that she’s the most beautiful Nogizaka46 member.

Notable songs: Watashi no Tame ni, Dareka no Tame ni (I can’t believe she’s one of the singers.), Tsuki no Okisa, Sono Sa no Deguchi, Nandome no Aozora ka?

Ito Marika

Ito Marika Nogizaka46

Ito Marika, formerly of Nogizaka46 (Image from J-pop Idols)

I initially dislike her due to her roles in two comedy skits. My dislike for her disappeared when I watched her individual PV for the 17th single. I terribly miss her now.

Notable songs: Sekai de Ichiban Kodoku na Lover, Umareta Mama de

Imaizumi Yui

Imaizumi Yui Keyakizaka46

Imaizumi Yui, formerly of Keyakizaka46 (Image from Pinterest)

My oshimen in Keyakizaka46. I was worried about her when she went on a hiatus due to bad health condition in 2017. And I felt sad when she announced her graduation. She’s too young to graduate from the group, in my opinion. How I wish she stayed for 3-4 more years.

Notable songs: Shibuyagawa, Silent Majority, Glass wo Ware!

Nagahama Neru

Nagahama Neru Keyakizaka46

Nagahama Neru (Image from her first PB)

No doubt the prettiest member in Keyakizaka46. After Imaizumi Yui, she’s the second major member to announced graduation. I had bet her to become the next ace of the group after HIrate Yurina. She’s also too young to graduate. If only she would stay for a few more years… Anyway, I download her photobook, and that’s all I care.

Notable songs: Mata Atte Kudasai, Glass wo Ware!

Sagara Iori

Sagara Iori Nogizaka46

Sagara Iori (Image from Pinterest)

My most favorite UNDER member. I first saw her in the MV for the Nishino Nanase-centered “Inochi wa Utsukushii.” Though she got limited face time, it was easy for me to see her due to her long hair and height. She’s got the physique and beauty of a model. I felt sad she didn’t stay long.

Notable songs: Inochi wa Utsukushii, Blanco, 2dome no Kiss Kara (The MV made me appreciate more of her.)

Kawamura Mahiro

Kawamura Mahiro Nogizaka46

Kawamura Mahiro (Image from Tumblr)

One of the most recognizable UNDER members. Stage48.net says that she’s “considered by other members to be the best singer and dancer in Nogizaka46.” She is now a member of a Kpop group ZGIRLS.

Notable songs: Senpuuki, Watashi no Tame ni, Dareka no Tame ni (No wonder why she’s one of the best singers in Nogizaka46.), Blanco, Nandome no Aozora ka? (MV only)

Saito Chiharu

Saito Chiharu Nogizaka46

Saito Chiharu (Image from J-pop Idols)

One of the most recognizable UNDER members. I miss her too.

Notable songs: Senpuuki, Blanco

Takahashi Juri

Juri Takahashi AKB48

Juri Takahashi (Image from Pinterest)

I knew she was thrice a member of the senbatsu but I began to pay her attention only when she announced she’s graduating to pursue a career in the Korean idol business.

Notable songs: Pick Me, Sentimental Train

I dread the day when Matsui Jurina, Yuka Ogino, Nakai Rika, Shiraishi Mai, Ikuta Erika, Saito Asuka, and others I know announce their graduation. But that’s life. I hope I still have plenty of love to show for these ladies on their graduation.

Jesus or Mammon: Of Christians and money

Love of money, not God, rules

A few months ago, I found at church a New International Version (NIV) Bible, which is published and distributed by Touchlife Global Foundation (formerly Biblica). How could someone forget to take their Bible home after religious service? Being a “finders, keepers” person, I took it home.

As you would and should find in a Bible, there are plenty of verses highlighted in colors blue, green, pink, and purple for easy reference of the original owner. (I don’t know what those colors stand for in his/her Bible study but who cares?) However, I am surprised that the original owner did not highlight certain verses that pertain to MONEY or RICHES. These biblical verses include:

Matthew 6:19 NIV: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.

Matthew 6: 20 NIV: But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Matthew 6:21 NIV: For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6: 25 NIV: Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?

Matthew 6: 33 NIV: But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Matthew 6: 34 NIV: Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

1 Timothy 6:10 NIV: For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Proverbs 22: 7 NIV: …the borrower is slave to the lender.

Why do I care, even if I’m not the original owner? Why do I care when I could just highlight the following verses in my own Bible?

The aforementioned verses provide me reflection matter on my ‘money’ relationships (direct and indirect) with certain people who profess themselves to be Christians, whether Catholic or Mainline/Evangelical/Pentecostal Protestant.

Not ordinary Christians but the ones who are ‘vocal’ about their faith and hold positions of power in their respective denominations. They are all Filipinos. (I cannot say for Christians in other countries but I read they also have interesting ‘money’ ‘stories’.)

Not saved from the sin of the love of money

A late relative of mine borrowed a huge amount of money from another family member. His wife, a religious education teacher in their town, refused to pay her husband’s debt, saying it was her husband, not she, who owed money. She’s got point but something’s amiss. Did her husband borrow money without her knowledge? Or could it be that she never benefited? If my memory serves me right, they belonged to a charismatic group.

Two former workmates, both members of a native restorationist non-Trinitarian denomination that got tangled in a nationwide scandal a few years ago, failed to compensate me for services I provided to their respective start-ups. One of them is member of his church’s multimedia team.

A friend, also belonging to the same denomination, failed to pay his debts on time many times. I always had to remind him to pay, and many weeks would pass before he finally pays. He never apologizes for his late payments (but at least he pays). Many years ago, he was into a great financial difficulty and I forgave him but prior to that, he had ‘preached’ to me the importance of paying debts on time. He happens to be a member of his church’s choir.

Another former workmate, who converted to evangelicalism during his overseas work in the Middle East, also failed to pay for a job I completed for his client. He forgot to invite me and other workmates to his lavish wedding.

Fucking Christians!

There was this one woman who failed to pay her debts to another relative of mine 20 years ago. She sat as one of the officers of my school’s parent-teacher conference association (PTCA). Rumors had it that she ‘borrowed’ the association’s money and the teachers acquiesced to it. (Birds of the same feathers flock together, if you know what I mean.) She was one of the elders at her church.

A common friend, who belongs to one of the fastest growing megachurches in the Philippines, borrowed close to five digits. She forgot to pay… because she has forgotten me. (Believe me, I did my very best to remind her and I can’t fight a woman, can I?)

A former schoolmate, who was an active member of her church’s youth group, also borrowed money ten years ago. She has yet to pay.

Another workmate, who belongs to an evangelical Christian denomination that doesn’t celebrate Christmas, avoided payment. He avoided opening and reading my messages on Facebook. Before he became a former friend, he had ‘preached’ to me the spiritual and practical benefits of tithing and offering and the importance of finding a truly biblical church. He is one of the thickest faced people I ever know.

Fucking Christians! Did they know what they did? They really have the gall to avoid paying their debts.

I also have heard interesting money stories from people I know.

A couple, both former instructors of mine at college, belongs to one of the oldest Mainline Protestant churches in town. They were rumors that they stepped down from their position as managers of the school’s cafeteria due to alleged financial management. I remember the time when the husband mocked me for my beliefs.

Another former teacher was a lukewarm Mainline Protestant before converting to evangelicalism (partly due to his mounting money problems, as I was told by former schoolmates and teachers). The pastor who converted him was also another former teacher of mine; he provided the new convert and his young family with free housing at his church, which he founded in town decades ago, plus stipend (for Sunday service). However, the new convert soon turned against the person who had helped him; he soon usurped authority and kicked out his colleague and benefactor from his own church. Not content, he changed the name of the church and became its head pastor. Until now, they haven’t kissed and made up; they refused to speak to each other at school (as I was told).

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) got tangled in a scandal many years ago. One of the officers involved was an active member of an evangelical church.

Years ago, I was lured into attending a market presentation of Alliance in Motion (AIM) Global by a couple, both common friends and both members of one of the famous evangelical churches in the country. AIM Global is a multi-level marketing (MLM) company that sells nutritional supplements, functional beverages, and personal care products, among others. The person who gave the opening prayer was a pastor, who told the attendees that AIM Global was sent by God to solve people’s financial difficulties. AIM Global is busted as a scam by renowned scambuster Ethan Vanderbuilt.

Fucking Christians! They really have the nerve to use religion or hide behind the cloak of their religion to acquire more riches.

Money is the biggest religion in the world.

Pacquiao’s fraud and tax evasion

The People’s Champ Sen. Manny Pacquiao, a former Catholic and now Born-Again Protestant, owed the Philippine government PhP 2.26 billion in unpaid taxes. (This grew to PhP 3.3 billion after surcharges and penalties).

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) accused Senator Pacquiao and his wife Jinkee (who loves expensive designer bags) of not declaring his dollar winnings from his fights in 2008 and 2009. He alleged that the tax case filed against him by the Aquino administration (2010-2016) was politically motivated. Last year, the tax court ordered the BIR to stop collecting the unpaid taxes from Pacquiao, who is close to the current president who loves to criticize God and the Catholic clergy.

Pacquiao, who loves to quote from the Bible, forgets to render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar.

The story of Kapa Ministry

In Mindanao, Philippines, a certain Pastor Joel A. Apolinario founded Kapa (Kabus Padatoon)-Community Ministry International, Inc., which is registered in the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as an Independent Religious Corporation named. Kabus Padatoon roughly translates as “Make the Poor Rich.”

Just recently, the SEC revoked the registration of Kapa for offering and selling securities, in the form of investment contracts and in the guise of donations, without the necessary license and in a manner resembling a Ponzi scheme. Kapa is said to have recruited and encouraged members to donate any amount in exchange for a 30 percent monthly return for life, without having to do anything other than invest and wait for the payout.

I don’t know what denomination the Kapa founder belongs to. But three Facebook friends – a Muslim, a member of the native restorationist non-Trinitarian denomination, a son of a Catholic father and Messianic Jewish mother – joined Kapa.

Filipinos, particularly Christians, are really suckers for easy money.

Filipino Catholics and Protestants may criticize each other and engage in religious debates. However, when it comes to money, they come together to worship a common god.

When it comes to money, everybody is of the same religion.

Expelled for accepting money from candidates?

I have read on social media that four elders of the restorationist non-Trinitarian church were expelled (or excommunicated) for accepting money from candidates in the 2019 elections. Rumored amount of money is around PhP 100 million. This was never reported in the media.

In closing

It is not my intention to slander Christianity and religion, in general. My purpose is to narrate my memories of people and stories of few individuals who had a different way with money. This blog post is inspired by my reflection of the Bible verses I shared in this blog post. I withheld names, even names of Christian denominations. I am not trying to act self-righteous here.

I only want to say that many Filipino Christians, whether Catholic or Protestant, are really ‘clever’ with money. My money troubles are with people who are so vocal about their religion but become timid and go into hiding when it comes to payment of debts.

I would like to warn that such individuals could belong to your church. They could be members of the religious organization you belong to. It is in churches where some people may recruit members to join networking scams or invite them to invest their money in dubious ventures. (For starters, watch the film Honor Thy Father, starring John Lloyd Cruz.)

20 years of Westlife: My top 20 tracks from the Irish pop vocal group

Westlife tribute in a collage. Image from Flicker

Author’s note: Original title of this post was “My Top 15 Westlife Tracks,” first posted on MySpace on October 12, 2009. It received only 22 views, as of July 25, 2012. I repurposed the blog post, with a new title, revised paragraphs, and additional tracks, to mark the 20th anniversary of the Guinness World Record-breaking pop vocal group from Ireland.

2002 was the last hurrah for boybands to take over the waves. If ever they are still around, they ain’t boybands anymore but have become an adult contemporary vocal group or a “man band” or, in the case of one British boyband, changed music direction.

Only good boybands endure. The great boybands of the late 1990s and early 2000s were Boyzone, Westlife, Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, and A1. At this moment, it is Boyzone, Westlife, Backstreet Boys, and A1 keeping the music – and the nostalgia – alive. In my opinion, these are good musical acts.

After seeing the music video of the new Backstreet Boys’ song “Straight Through My Heart” (in late 2009), I began to expect new material from Westlife. Westlife is one of my favorite musical acts and I would love to hear from them again. I am keeping my fingers crossed that they will be able to regain their supremacy at the UK singles charts. I expect another monster hit from them. (Author’s note: Weeks later, they released a cover of the Daughtry hit “What About Now.”)

Below is the list of my top 20 Westlife tracks:

(Legend: Text in orange indicates a new addition to the list and is a song already heard before the completion and publication of the original list in 2010. Text in blue also indicates a new addition but is a song heard years after the completion and publication of the original list.)

 

1. If I let you go

But if I let you go I will never know
What my life would be holding you close to me
Will I ever see you smiling back at me? (oh yeah)
How will I know
If I let you go?

This is the very song that sold me to Westlife; this is my most favorite track from the group and one of the three soundtracks of my life in 2001. During a Valentine’s Day program at high school, a sophomore gave out a solo rendition of the group’s 2nd No.1 UK hit. I instantly fell in love with the song and it became one of my signature favorite songs. I also heard a disco remix of the song at home. A guitarist-boyfriend of my classmate would play the song whenever I asked for it. Months later, when I was a sophomore, my class hosted a convocation program. I and four classmates performed our version of the song, much to the applause of the school.

 

2. Unbreakable

This love is unbreakable,
It’s unmistakable,
and each time I look in your eyes,
I know why,
this love is untouchable,
I feel in my heart just can’t deny,
each time I look in your eyes ohh baby,
I know why,
this love is unbreakable

The 11th No.1 single was not quite a sad tune but I like the lyrics of the song. The music and the words jive, giving out a great harmony. Not overtly melancholic but it is a hopeful song, emphasizing on true love. This is the song I anticipated before 2002 would come to an end. This song stays true to the pop standards set by the vocal band.

 

3. You Raise Me Up

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains,
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas,
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders,
You raise me up To more than I can be

On All Saints’ Day of 2005, I learned three things: first, Westlife has their version of the song “You Raise Me Up”; second, it became their 13th No. 1 UK hit; and third, member Mark tells the world he is gay. The song was the first to hit No. 1 at the UK charts after falling short of one member. Now a quartet, this haunting yet powerful melody proved Westlife is here to stay. I feel chills whenever I heard this song, thanks to the orchestra in the song. This is one of the hardest songs to cover. I first heard their version when I was taking a bath one early morning.

 

4. If you heart’s not in it

But if your heart’s not in it for real
Please don’t try to fake what you don’t feel
If love’s already gone
It’s not fair to lead me on
Cause I would give the whole world for you
Anything you ask of me I’d do
But I won’t ask you to stay
I’d rather walk away
If your heart’s not in it

A b-side from the 3rd album World of our Own, this is one of the best b-side songs ever. It is much more melancholic than “Unbreakable.” After reading the lyrics of the song in a song magazine, I thought it was a new Westlife song in 2002. This is the song that comforted me throughout the worst summer of my life in 2003.

 

5. Home

Show me the way to make a start
Show me the road back to your heart
And I’ve learned the only truth that I need to know
There’s a million places I can go
But without you it ain’t home
It ain’t home

It took me almost 10 years to appreciate this b-side track from their 2003 album Turnaround, their last album with Bryan McFadden. I can’t remember how I came across this song on the internet after many years but it’s a welcome addition to the list which has expanded to 20 songs.

 

6. Flying Without Wings

It’s little things that only I know
Those are the things that make you mine
And it’s like flying without wings
Coz you’re my special thing
I’m flying without wings

An old schoolmate described Westlife’s 3rd No. 1 as slower in the earlier part but emotional and powerful as it progress. One of the most powerful and emotional songs I ever heard in my life.

 

7. Mandy

Well you came and you gave without taking
But I sent you away, oh Mandy
Well, you kissed me and stopped me from shaking
And I need you today, oh Mandy

I never heard about Westlife releasing a new single way back in 2003. When I first heard the song in the early days of 2004, I concluded that it was a new Westlife single, and Westlife it was. My classmate shared to me the lyrics of the 12th No. 1 song.

 

8. That’s Where You Find Love

It’s where the stars line up
It’s where the oceans touch
It’s in a place you’ve never been that feels like home
It’s in the air right now
It’s where you give your all
And give a little more
I’ve never been so sure
That’s where you find love

A track from their 5th album Face To Face, this is another great b-side track from Westlife. One of the songs I loved in 2006.

 

9. Somebody Needs You

Somebody needs you like never before
Somebody wants your love
Baby so open the door
Don’t you leave me alone
Don’t you turn out the light
Somebody wants you
Somebody needs you tonight

One of the best B-side tracks off their 2nd album Coast To Coast. It is quite a fun danceable track. I had in mind to record my version of this song if ever I can break into the music scene.

 

10. My Love

So I say a little prayer
And hope my dreams will take me there
Where the skies are blue
To see you once again… my love
All the seas from coast to coast
To find the place I Love The Most
Where the fields are green, to see you once again… my love

Westlife’s 7th No. 1 was one of the most popular songs at the last quarter of 2000. Many people at school would sing the song aloud. This was the song that made Westlife famous in my country.

 

11. Uptown Girl

She’ll see I’m not so tough
Just because
I’m in love with an uptown girl
You know I’ve seen her in her uptown world
She’s getting tired of her high class toys
And all her presents from her uptown boys
She’s got a choice

I shall never forget the summer of 2001 because I kept hearing this song. A niece of mine, who was schoolmate at school, lent me a cassette single of this song way back in August 2001. This song scored Westlife their 8th No. 1 in the UK.

 

12. Soledad

Soledad
It’s a keeping for the lonely
Since the day that you were gone
Why did you leave me
Soledad
In my heart you were the only
And your memory lives on
Why did you leave me
Soledad

Soledad is one of the best tracks never released as a single by Westlife. This song could be a perfect soundtrack to a horror-romance-tragedy movie, based on the music. A classmate, whose boyfriend was a guitarist, corrected the wrong lyrics I had in my notebook.

 

13. I Lay My Love On You

I lay my love on you
It’s all I wanna do
Everytime I breathe I feel brand new
You open up my heart
Show me all your love, and walk right through
As I lay my love on you

An upbeat track, this is one of the best pop songs of the early 2000s and one of Westlife’s most popular songs.

 

14. World Of Our Own

We got a little world of our own
I’ll tell you things that no one else knows
I let you in where no-one else goes
What am I doing without you?
And all of the things I’ve been looking for
Have always been here outside of my door
And all of the time I’m looking for something new
What am I doing without you….

Their 10th No. 1 is what I described as ‘strong pop.’ Coming from a beach picnic in the summer of 2002, I arrived home in time to hear the song becoming No. 1 at a local radio countdown.

 

15. Open Your Heart

Baby, open your heart
Won’t you give me a second chance?
And I’ll be here forever
Open your heart
Let me show you how much I care
And I will make you understand
If you open your heart
To love me once again

A b-side from their 1st self-titled album, “Open Your Heart” is a very simple pop song. Although the tempo is quite slow, it is danceable enough like “Somebody Needs You.”

 

16. Written In The Stars

‘Cause when I look at my life
How the pieces fall into place
It just wouldn’t rhyme without you
When I see how my path
Seem to end up before your face
The state of my heart
The place where we are
Was written in the stars

A track from their first greatest hits album, “Written In The Stars” is a feel-good love song.

 

17. I Promise You That

Whatever you say
Whatever you do
There will be good times waiting for you
Whatever you hear
I won’t disappear
I promise you that
I promise you that

I first heard this track, a b-side from 2002’s “World of Our Own,” in the first quarter of 2016. Westlife sure does have a lot of hidden gems.

 

18. Every Little Thing You Do

It’s every little thing you do
That makes me fall in love with you
There isn’t a way that I can show you
Ever since I’ve come to know you
It’s every little thing you say
That makes me want to feel this
There’s not a thing that I can point to
‘Cause it’s every little thing you do

Another great B-side track off Coast To Coast and one of their finest B-side songs.

 

19. Obvious

I’ve made it obvious
I’ve done everything but say it
(I’ve crushed on ya so long, but on and on you get me wrong)
I’m not so good with words
Since you never noticed
The way that we belong
I’ll say it in a love song

Just weeks before my high school graduation, I saw the video to this song on MTV at a former classmate and best friend’s house. A few days before my graduation, while visiting an injured classmate, I heard the song on the radio. This was one of my LSS tracks of the 1st quarter of 2004.

 

20. Amazing

And all I’ve been doing is protecting
A lie for the sake of my pride
While all the others set me thinking
We could be more than just amazing

I came across the song on Yahoo music in the 1st quarter of 2006 during an out-of-school club trip to one of the most economically progressive cities/provinces in the country. This was my LSS track in the 3rd quarter of 2006. Every time I listen to this song, I recall a former special someone, an object of infatuation.

 

Do you still listen to Westlife? What’s your most favorite song from the Irish pop vocal group?

Don’t forget to share Westlife to the new generation of music fans.

A happy 20th Westlife anniversary to you all!

Westlife UK singles

AKB48 and Google+ in 2019

AKB48 members on Google+. Image from Japan Today

AKB48 members on Google+. Image from Japan Today

What had AKB48, the world’s largest pop group, to do with Google, the world’s most popular search engine?

In December 2011, AKB48 inked a deal to promote Google+, the search giant social network. Under the deal, every member of AKB48 was given her own Google+ page where fans can interact with their oshimen – literally “the member you push – and see how the girls interact with one another via social media. Even group producer Yasushi Akimoto was on Google+.

What better way for a new product or service to gain customers than to seek the endorsement of popular celebrities. Google did that by making AKB48 its brand ambassadors for its social media service. The search engine giant wanted to tap into the Jpop group’s huge fan base.

Minami Takahashi's first post on Google+. IMage fromTechinasia

Minami Takahashi’s first post on Google+. IMage fromTechinasia

That was in 2011 when the original Kami 7 – Goddesses 7 – was still around: Maeda Atsuko, Oshima Yuko, Shinoda Mariko, Watanabe Mayu, Takahashi Minami, Kojima Haruna, and Itano Tomomi. Maeda was the first to graduate in August 2012 and Watanabe the last in December 2017.

While AKB48 sold – and broke – more records and gained more international sister groups, Google+ failed to snatch users from social media giant Facebook, which also owns Instagram, another social media giant.

In April 2019, Google+ ceased to exist.

Also this year, AKB48 announced it will not hold the General Senbatsu Election – also known as Senbatsu Sousenkyo – which has been held annually since 2009. Resetting the stage after holding it for 10 years?

Producer Akimoto never gave a specific reason for why the annual Senbatsu Election would not happen this year. He simply thanked the fans for their continued support, stating that last year’s Senbatsu Election, which was the 10th overall, was a new milestone.

For the relief of longtime, diehard AKB48 fans, Akimoto did not even say the group is disbanding. He said, “AKB48 group will continue to work hard every day to strive to become a group that fans will want to support from their heart.

“We look forward to your continued support.”

Is Akimoto looking for a new marketing strategy to sell his most commercially and critically acclaimed product? I think I have a few marketing ideas. I hope he or anyone close to him reads this post and leaves a comment, asking for more. I have plenty of ideas that are sure to make the cash registers of record stores in Japan go ka-ching.

Back to Google+, I think it was a wrong move to get AKB48 as brand ambassadors. They are big only in Japan. The higher-ups at Google should have gotten Kpop superstars to sell their social networking service. Kpop superstars are big in East Asia, including Japan, Southeast Asia, and America.

I love AKB48. And I proclaimed myself to be the only remaining Google+ users in the whole region. But AKB48 was not the right endorser for Google+. And Google Plus should have set their sights on Kpop superstars, particularly Psy who ruled 2012 with his monster hit “Gangnam Style.”

If only Google had their senses way back in 2017 and 2018, they might have gotten BTS and BLACKPINK as brand ambassadors. Google+ could have been saved. There is no arguing that Kpop fans are the most active social media users in the world.

HKT48’s Rino Sashihara, the four-time winner of the Senbatsu Sousenkyo, will graduate this month. Hirate Yurina and Nagahama Neru, both of Keyakizaka26, one of Akimoto’s other creations, have announced their graduation last month. A number of first-generation members of Nogizaka46, the official ‘rival’ to AKB48 and also created by Akimoto, have graduated.

Nogizaka46’s Kawamura Mahiro and AKB48’s Juri Takahashi, who placed 10th at last year’s Senbatsu Sousenkyo, left their respective groups in 2018 and March 2019, respectively, to try a shot at Kpop fame… another shot at fame.

Will AKB48, as well as Nogizaka46 and all others of Akimoto’s creations, go the way of Google+? It will but will be remembered as one of the best-selling and most successful artists in the music industry. AKB48 has made history and broken records. Google+ failed what it was supposed to do.

Music groups and social networks come and go. Nothing is new under the sun, only new faces. All things must come to pass. Good things and bad things must come to an end.

Goodbye AKB48 in Google+! Goodbye Google+!

Music acts I followed in Google+ Music Circle

Music acts I followed in Google+ Music Circle

Trolling AKB48 on Google+ as the 666th follower

Trolling AKB48 on Google+ as the 666th follower

AKB48 producer Yasushi Akimoto Google Plus page

AKB48 producer Yasushi Akimoto Google Plus page

Yui Yokoyama Google+ page

Yui Yokoyama Google+ page

Haruna Kojima Google+ page

Haruna Kojima Google+ page

My Social Media Experience: Goodbye Google Plus (Google+)

Death of Google Plus (Google+ or G+)

R.I.P Google+ (Image from Online Philippines)

Author’s note: This is the fourth article I have written about my experience of the phenomenon called “social networking.” Google+, Google’s failed entry into social networking, shut down yesterday.

Thank you, Google+, for more than 7 years of love

If it was not for an ex-workmate, I would not have known Google Plus (Google+) in the last quarter of 2011. I would not have signed up for my very first Google+ account, which I deleted in 2013 or 2014.

Google+ was very new back then. Sign-up was through invitation in the early stages, said my ex-workmate who sent me the invitation through Gmail, as Google+ was still in beta mode. Google did not publicize the creation of their very own social network, why was why I never read about it on the Web.

Gone are the days I was a social media whore. My accounts in Bebo, Friendster, Perfspot, MySpace, Multiply, StumbleUpon, and Zorpia are long dead and gone. I even deleted my first personal Tumblr account in 2011 and my first Twitter account in June 2012. I forgot my password to my first ever YouTube account, which I used for the last time in 2010. My Google+ accounts are next. (I have one personal account, the second one I created in 2012; one dummy account; and two pages.)

Google+ goes down on Apr 2 2019

Google+ goes down on April 2, 2019

I was the only active Google+ user

One of the reasons I love Google’s social networking platform is that very few of my “friends” and “acquaintances” signed up. I can count them all by my fingers. And I was the only active user – in my city, province, and region – or even probably in the whole Philippines.

I have been hopping from company to company for a few years now and I was the only one to talk about Google+ and to use Google+ to support work output (social media syndication tasks and research).

If it were a person, Google+ would have been a sickly child, a patient suffering from AIDs or deadly cancer, or an NBA bust (a player who have never lived up to his potential or hype). Ever since its inception, it was just waiting to die, to fall into utter obscurity. I was among the fewest who visited Google+ in the hospital, who bought his jerseys and cards.

Google+ is a solo artist or band who failed to sell enough copies to land in the Billboard charts. Google+ is a shop or restaurant that failed to attract customers. (There are lots of such businesses in the Philippines.) I was among the fewest who bought the album or bought from or dined at that establishment.

Followers on personal Google+

Followers on personal G+

Great finds on Google+

Just like with Facebook, almost all of my “friends” or people in my circles or followers – 382 followers of my personal account as of March 17, down from 600 (?) in 2015 – were people I never met personally. The people I know – all ex-workmates – never posted anything on Google’s social networking platform. And just like in Facebook, Twitter, and even in LinkedIn, dummy accounts were aplenty in Google+.

I had only 4 followers on my dummy account to complement my WordPress persona. As for my page, Writing Under The Shades Of Blue Blog, I lost one follower – the only one I ever gained. For my other page for my other blog, I gained no follower.

Writing Under The Shades Of Blue Blog G+

Writing Under The Shades Of Blue Blog G+

Google+ was somewhat a significant source of traffic for my blog, especially for my Jpop posts. What will I do, now that Google+ is gone?

Google+ was also a great source for certain content: pictures, especially gravure pictures, of AKB48, SKE48, and Nogizaka46 idols. I also came across great posts, ranging on subjects such as economics, history, horror movies, literature, philosophy, photography, politics, and religion. I also took part in polls.

Spam and links to pornographic content also made their way to Google+. I lost count on the number of posts I reported as ‘sexually explicit.’

Google’s social networking platform was never my source of new music, though.

Reporting on Google Plus (Google+)

Reporting on Google Plus

Google+, an unknown in the IT community

Google+ has never been a has-been, though. For one, Google’s social networking platform was unknown among Filipino social media users. Even Gmail and YouTube (both owned by Google) users did not bother to sign up for an account.

Even most IT developers, content creators, and digital marketers are unaware of the Google+ existence. Them of all people! One workmate, an IT developer, knew nothing about Google’s social networking platform until I showed to him my account in late 2013. Well, I could not blame them… Google could not blame them… because their loved ones and friends are on Facebook and Instagram.

Even brand and business owners know nothing about Google+. Check out their websites and you will not see a G+ icon in sight; only Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest.

I believe the people at Google did their best to make Google+ an excellent product. It was all to rival Mark Zuckerberg’s more popular billion-strong Facebook and all other social networking sites. Their best was not good enough. Google+ follows Friendster and MySpace to the grave.

Rest in Peace, Google Plus

Rest in Peace, Google Plus

Social networks come and go

I enjoyed using Google+, though. I enjoyed the hacks. I miss Google+ circa 2012.

I can understand where Google is coming from. After all, business is business and time is money. Time spent on improving Google+ is time wasted – and money wasted away.

The death of Google+ taught me one thing: social networks come and go. That is one of two truths; the other truth is, social networks change their algorithms from time to time, and that affects your statistics.

Every time a social network dies, it takes your data – your contacts, posts, comments, and likes – with it to the grave. Every time a social network dies, you lose your data.

Before the social bookmarking site StumbleUpon died in the middle of 2018, it did allow users, including me, enough time to move to a new social bookmarking site – with our bookmarks, of course. After the relocation process, I realize StumbleUpon was a mess. It messed up my bookmarks.

I hope I have downloaded all the data from my Google+ accounts. Sometimes I will need to look through them to recall fond memories… and look at pictures of beautiful Japanese idols.

Dummy Google+ account

Dummy Google+ account

Dummy G+ account last post as of March 17, 2019

Dummy G+ account last post as of March 17, 2019

Writing Under The Shades Of Blue Blog G+ last posts as of March 17, 2019

Writing Under The Shades Of Blue Blog G+ last posts as of March 17, 2019

Collections I followed on Google+

Collections I followed on Google+

Communities I followed on Google Plus

Communities I followed on Google Plus

Communities I joined thru dummy Google Plus

Communities I joined thru dummy Google Plus

G+ Your Influence - 30 Days

G+ Your Influence – 30 Days

G+ Your Influence - Not Enough Data - 7 Days

G+ Your Influence – Not Enough Data – 7 Days

A poll on Google+

A poll on Google+

Google+ (dummy) last post on Fairy Tail community, as of April 2, 2019

Google+ (dummy) last post on Fairy Tail community, as of April 2, 2019

Google+ (dummy) last post on Nogizaka46 community, as of April 2, 1019

Google+ (dummy) last post on Nogizaka46 community, as of April 2, 1019

Of Mon Tulfo, Wanda Teo, Ben Tulfo, and Erwin Tulfo

Mon Tulfo

A meme inspired by special envoy for public diplomacy to China Mon Tulfo giving his detractors the middle finger over his comments on Filipino construction workers

‘Lazy’ and ‘slowpoke’: these were the words Duterte’s special envoy for public diplomacy to China Mon Tulfo used to describe Filipino construction workers. In doing so, he defended the influx of Chinese construction workers as well as illegal, undocumented foreign, particularly Chinese, workers. Most of these illegal, undocumented Chinese workers arrived as tourists and then worked their way illegally into the online gambling industry.

I have nothing against Chinese and foreigners working in the Philippines as long as they respect Philippine laws, including immigration laws… as long as they respect the host culture… as long as they are not criminals, troublemakers, terrorists, and freeloaders like those certain immigrants in Western countries… as long as they are not spies of their governments.

Foreign governments are free to arrest and prosecute overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to the full extent of their laws. They are free to deport them if their courts could prove the Filipinos in question as undesirable aliens. And yes, they could even sentence them to death, provided the Filipinos in question are found guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

Back to Tulfo, readers of this blog should know that he is the brother of disgraced tourism secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo and fellow journalists Ben Tulfo and Erwin Tulfo. Wanda, Ben, and Erwin were involved in the controversial PhP 60-million tourism advertisement deal between the tourism department and government-owned TV station PTV. The ads were played on the block-timer program produced by Ben Tulfo and co-hosted by Erwin Tulfo.

Who made the decision to place PhP 60-million worth of ads on a show hosted by Ben and Erwin? Your guess is as good as mine. The Philippines teems with nepotism and cronyism. As such, corruption and political dynasties abound from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi.

When Wanda Teo resigned from her post as secretary of the Department of Tourism, her husband too resigned from his position as board member of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA).

Wanda Teo, Ben Tulfo, and Erwin Tulfo

A meme inspired by the appearance of Wanda Teo, Ben Tulfo, and Erwin Tulfo – siblings of Mon Tulfo – at a Senate hearing over the controversial DOT-PTV ad deal

Wanda Teo, Ben Tulfo, and Erwin Tulfo, as well as Teo’s husband – they showed how worse the Philippines could become due to the Filipinos’ sibling and conjugal interests. On the other hand, Mon Tulfo has shown how stupid, ignorant and arrogant Philippine politicians have become due to their lust for money and power. Graft or plunder, whatever it is, seems to be a Tulfo family matter.

Mon Tulfo is another proof that President Rodrigo R. Duterte, his goons (I called his officials and political allies ‘goons’ because they include Senator Manny Pacquiao, ex-Senator and ex-Foreign Affairs Sec. Alan Peter Cayetano, ex-House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, House Speaker and former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, ex-Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go etc. – there are many to mention and all of them are leeches and sycophants.), and the millions of Dutertards are STUPID.

God is not stupid. The stupidest ones are Duterte and the Dutertards. That includes Mon Tulfo, special envoy for public diplomacy to China.

Filipino construction workers are not lazy and slowpoke. But the Tulfo siblings must be commended for rewarding themselves with PhP 60-million worth of taxpayers’ money.

That is my freedom of speech. I use my creative imagination describe Mon Tulfo and his siblings.

Valentine’s Day feature: Single’s Day: more than a day, a journey

single at seaside

Image from Pixabay

February 14 – Valentine’s Day – is for the lovers as well as for the sorrowful who cannot handle being without a romance (or sex) part on such a day. The rest of the year belongs to people who appreciate their singleness.

Singleness: Every day like no other

Out of the 365 ¼ days of any given year, only one day (February 14 or Valentines’ Day) is set aside for lovers or just anyone spellbound by the charms of love. Ahh, love… like faith, fortune, and prayer, love is a form of magic that springs from the heart that believes. From the heart that believes, miracles overflow, which can only be sensed by people who believe. What has that got to do with the rest of the year that is not Valentines’ Day?

Plenty, if one dares to believe and count the possibilities… if one believes love is not confined to just one date or day of the year or is the sole possession of people who have someone to celebrate the occasion with… if one believes love is more than just romantic.

Any day – from January 1 to February 13 and from February 15 to December 31 (for emphasis) – could be a Single’s Day. Single’s Day? What a strange, newfangled notion it is, if there is one but seriously?

Indeed, there exists a Single’s Day, which could even be almost every day of the year just like almost every day is Children’s Day. (We have the __ of May for Mother’s Day and the __ of June as Father’s Day.) How come most people do not know about it? How come the day is not red-marked on the calendars? Why is there no mention of Single’s Day in the news or a Single’s Day sale at the malls? Why?

What’s a Single’s Day, anyway?

Should a day or all days that is not Valentine’s Day be set aside for (the benefit of) singles? In fact, do they even need one? Why and what for?

For the ever conscious… for people who are never on a rush… for lovers who want to explore love beyond the realms of romance and lovemaking and beyond February 14… for minds that believe there is much more to life than just romancing or meeting the demands of a relationship (romantic or marriage), a Single’s Day is a must – and it will be a day like no other.

What is Single’s Day? How will it be?

It is a day that no social media influencer, celebrity, trendsetter, religious or political figure could determine for or force upon the silent or clueless majority for it would only lead to a senseless commemoration of singlehood, an occasion at high risk of being blatantly commercialized by business owners, or a celebration without depth or purpose and without regards for singles.

Only a thinking individual – a single – could decide Single’s Day for him/herself, choose when to celebrate it, and determine how to celebrate it. One discovers Single’s Day only after a thorough reflection, when he/she acknowledges his/her singlehood is more than just status but something he/she should cherish like a precious pearl – and celebrate while there is (still) time.

For the ever conscious… for people who are aware that their singleness brings them infinite opportunities and possibilities… for the brave souls who do not fear being left out or coming last place, a Single’s Day is not only a day but also a journey (of sorts)… a mystery too. Eternal, it is.

single woman

Image from Pixabay

The essence of Single’s Day

No doubt, many people would get excited over the prospect of a Single’s Day because it will compensate for their lack of romance or give them the license to brag and feel happy about their status to put themselves in equal footing with the paired romantics. Well, any way is better than jumping off a high building in Makati Central Business District or the San Juanico Bridge or facing the firing squad at Rizal Park. However, they miss the point.

As mentioned earlier, Single’s Day is a journey one undertakes to find his/her place and purpose and uniqueness in these increasingly passionate times and among the many other who have closed their chapters on singlehood. He/she understands there is much more to life than falling in love with or marrying someone, making love or building a family. He/she recognizes the gifts that he/she could properly share while staying single (because there is a certain “magic” to it). He/she dares to move forward… travel into a great unknown… when his/her peers have stopped being singles.

Such thoughts encompass the name and transcend the conventional definition of singlehood. Thus, Single’s Day is also a mystery. No one can say for certain when it is or how to celebrate it. Only the mind knows and can tell. He/she has to go on a journey to understand what being single is all about… discover the gifts and responsibilities of singlehood… perform miracles… change the world.

girl with sparklers

Image from Pixabay

How to make the most out of Single’s Day

… or singlehood, in general? How to appreciate (the blessedness of) singleness? Here are a few tips:

  • Make your single life beautiful. Start living, stop sulking. Appreciate life, not complain about the trivialities. Find a new hobby. Create art. Travel.
  • Enjoy the present for the sake of the future. Have fun when you can – while you still can. Your future depends on what you do – and enjoy – today.
  • Know your deepest desires. In the depth of your hearts lies the will of the heavens for you… plans for you. The gifts you cherish and nurture in your singlehood will one day be used for the greater benefit of society.
  • Carry out your mission. A single’s mission is not only to him/herself but to his/her community, to his/her area of expertise. While he/she is still single, he/she can properly and truly carry out his/her mission and enjoy the fruits of his/her labor.
  • Love with your mind. The mind is the most terrible thing to waste and it is forever irreplaceable unlike the heart and relationships.
  • Nurture your “secrets” – while you still can. Because “secrets” add spices to singleness, which is the best time to make the best of “secrets”.
  • Cherish your friendships. Friends come and go, especially when they decide to say good-bye to being single. Love them while you still can and thank them for how they impact you as a single.
  • Work magic, perform miracles. Most people may not know it but there are certain “things” in life that are best performed while being single. As mentioned earlier, there is “magic” attached to it.
  • Release your potential. Do you believe there is “magic” in you, an untapped power sleeping within you? Awaken it. Release it. Believe in yourself. Prove your worthy of the gifts you discover.
  • Become a strong person. The song “Be The Strong Person” by SKE48 best said it:

Be the strong person

Be the true hero

Covered with wounds

Obtain the weight of glory with your hands

Be the strong person

Be the true hero

Stand up alone

For whom I walk

Toward this end of the road?

Change the world

What infinite possibilities singleness brings! What a glorious day Single’s Day is! A journey, a mystery it is, and eternal! All for the ever conscious single who will dare to travel and experience the different side of his/her personhood.

A single’s life is indeed an eternal journey, an eternal mystery. No one knows for sure what he/she will discover on the way.

Appreciate your singleness. Discover the joys and beauty of singleness. Appreciate the blessedness of singlehood. Singleness is a gift.

53 Best Songs I Have Heard This 2018

2018 best songs heard

Album/maxi single cover of the songs I love in 2018

2018 has been a good year for me in terms of music. I have been discovering a lot of them, thanks to Spotify. Jpop remains to be the staple of my year-end music list. Some choice Chinese pop (Cpop), Original Pilipino Music (OPM), and rock tracks made it to my list.

53. Celeina Ann, “Love & Sweet“. A “feel good” song by a Japanese singer of American descent who reminds me of Becky, a Japanese singer of British descent whom I first heard five years ago. She’s pretty too.

52. Sheena Belarmino, Krystal Brimmer and MNL48, “Dalawang Pag-ibig Niya”. Probably one of the best OPM tracks released this year. This is also the best contest piece in the Himig Handog since 2013 4th placer “Scared to Death” by KZ Tandingan and the best pop-rap contest piece since 2013 Philippine Popular Music Festival (Philpop) winner “Dati” by Sam Concepcion, Tippy Dos Santos, and Quest.

51. Cyndi Wang, “Dang Ni”. 2018 has been a year of Chinese pop, (Cantopop, Mandopop, whatever it is as long as it’s Chinese). The pop-sy romantic feel of this bubblegum pop song, which title means “When You” in English, hints at the singer’s profound longing for and memory of the subject of her song.

50. 2Ne1, “I Don’t Care”. Kpop artists sound better singing (their hits) in Japanese than they do in their native Korean, thus downplaying the Hallyu Wave. Of course, there is no other way to break into the world’s 2nd largest music market than to sing in Japanese.

49. Fahrenheit ft. Hebe Tien, “Zhi Dui Ni You Gan Jue”. If only they had the chance, the Taiwanese boy band would give their more popular compatriot F4 a run for their money and fame. By the way, the title means “Only Have Feelings For You” in English.

48. Desmond Ng and Kenny Khoo, “Yi Gang Ke Gang”. Is there an Asian version of the Eurovision Song Contest? If there is, Singapore should enter this song… and win. This empowering pop rock song is an OST to a TV series and its title translates as “Fighting Strength with Strength” in English.

47. F.I.R., “Lydia”. This goodie from a Taiwanese pop-rock band could serve as an appropriate closing song for an aptly titled movie or TV drama series about the titular character… if there is one. Too bad, there isn’t.

46. Élan Rivera and Jamily Gray, “All We Wanna Do”. 2001 was a great year for pop music and Pokémon madness. This classic OST brings back memories of my Pokémon viewing on Friday nights. It also reminds me of how pop music used to be.

45. amina du Jean, “seppuku✟”. Japan’s first black – African-American – idol leaves the Japanese pop scene with a song about ritual disemboweling. It should be one of the most underappreciated Jpop songs and one of the best songs performed by a black artist.

44. MNL48, “Gustong Makita”. AKB48’s third sister group in Southeast Asia (after JKT48 and BNK48) released their long-awaited infectious debut.

43. Kawaii 5, “Kawaii 5”. Before there was MNL48, there was Kawaii 5, which released their self-titled debut maxi single in 2016. Their songs are written in Tagalog and Taglish (Tagalog-English) and give out flavors that fans can find in many Jpop songs: fun, catchy, and addictive. How come FM stations don’t play their songs?

42. Keyakizaka46, “Glass wo Ware”. Jpop group, known primarily for their dance steps rather than their looks, delivers their best track since their 2016 debut. On the other way round, they are more popular for their dance choreography than for their songs.

41. LeAnn Rimes, “The Right Kind of Wrong”. One of the best tracks from the OST of a long-forgotten, mildly successful, Piper Perabo-starred 2000 movie Coyote Ugly that is about an aspiring singer-songwriter who struggles to break into the music industry.

40. Yanaginagi, “Harumodoki”. The opening song to the second season of Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru Zoku, shortened to Oregairu meaning “My Teen Romantic Comedy Snafu Too”. The title means “imitation spring” in English. Sounds beautiful and refreshing, doesn’t it?

39. Vishal Dadlani, Nakash Aziz & Pritam, “Selfie Le Le Re”. This song best described a Hindu’s devotion Lord Hanuman, who is also famously known as Bajrangbali, and his vocation. This is the OST to the 2015 Bollywood blockbuster Bajrangi Bhaijaan.

38. Ex Battalion feat. Alden Richards, “Superhero Mo”. Probably the only hit I will like from social media sensation AlDub’s other half Alden Richards and Ex Battalion, the most popular Pinoy hip hop group since Salbakuta in 2002. This is the theme to the short-lived critically panned fantasy series Victor Magtanggol on GMA 7.

37. Kawaii 5, “L.O.V.E”. A playful Jpop-inspired Taglish puppy love song. This is all I can say.

36. Kawaii 5, “Tambayan ng Tropa”. One of the best OPM songs I have listened to this year… for the reason that almost all of the lyrics are written are written in Tagalog. Besides, this is an enjoyable affirmative song of friendship.

35. Little Glee Monster, “Gyutto”. A track with a soulful pop sound.

34. Hugh Jackman, Keala Settle, Zac Efron, Zendaya, & The Greatest Showman Ensemble, “The Greatest Show”. One of the most memorable songs – and perhaps the most glorious of them all – from The Greatest Showman.

33. Morning Musume ’17, “Gosenfu No Tasuki”. Though no longer the most popular and best-selling female music group in Japan, Morning Musume still impresses listeners with their choicest tracks, including this song, which title means “A String of Music Staffs” in English.

32. John Basil Dungo ft. Bukas Palad, “Your Mercy is Great”. Surely¸ the god of Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte does not inspire musical creativity. The God of the performers behind this song of praise does… and His mercy is great.

31. Rexband, “Rise Up and Dance”. Though not as popular as their Born-Again/Evangelical Protestant counterparts like Hillsong and Planetshakers, this Catholic Charismatic band from India continues to bring joy and music to believers who had seen them perform at the World Youth Day events.

30. NSYNC, “I Guess It’s Christmas Time”. Christmas is more than just a celebration. It’s a universal feeling and an ideal way of life. I realize these facts for the first time in my life… only after listening to this track multiple times.

29. Xiao Feng Feng & Xiao Pan Pan, “Xue Mao Jiao”. “The Million Dollar Question: Why Does the Web Love Cats?” said the title of an article in the website Mashable. Perhaps the addictive melody and catchy lyrics of this of this will explain why. For the love cats and cat persons, the title means “learning to meow” in English.

28. Hugh Jackman & Zac Efron, “The Other Side”. In The Greatest Showman, Barnum sings to Carlyle about “a deal that seems worth taking”. Carlyle looks forward to go to “the other side” but not without first asking for his “percentage of the show”.

27. Namewee ft. Wang Leehom, “Stranger In The North”. A haunting rap track about economic migrants in Beijing… rapped by Malaysian Chinese rapper – and one-time economic migrant – Namewee and Chinese American crooner Wang Leehom.

26. Silence Wang ft. By2, “You Dian Tian”. One of the best Cpop tracks I have listened to this year. The title means “A Little Sweet” in English. A love track but not too much, which is why it is one of my definitive songs of 2018.

25. Audrey Assad, “Even Unto Death”. For its beautiful sound and profound lyrics, this song of worship – or rather, an anthem of love for Jesus – serves as a faith-awakening accompaniment to Matt Maher’s “Christ Is Risen” and “Because He Lives”.

24. GReeeeN, “U R not alone”. The most empowering Jpop song of the year. Powerful and uplifting for the lost souls who, despite having it tough in life, still move forward, brimming with determination and resiliency.

23. Little Glee Monster, “Ashita e”. The Jpop female group with the best vocals dazzles with this track. They never fail to amaze me since I heard “Suki da” way back in 2016.

22. Gavy NJ ft. Sunnyside MJ, “Sunflower”. While many people settled for BTS, Twice, and Momoland, here is just one of the most underappreciated Kpop songs out there.

21. By2, “Because of You”. This song affirms that there are good soundtracks to Chinese TV shows out there… that are sung in English… and I am searching for them one by one. Anyways, the lead female is sooooo beautiful.

20. AKB48, “Sentimental Train”. Japan’s best-selling female music act released a senbatsu single… without the senbatsu winner Jurina Matsui. This is their best song since 2015’s Haruka Shimazaki-centered “Bokutachi wa Tatakawanai”.

19. Matt Maher, “Because He Lives (Amen)”. This is an anthem of worshipful acknowledgement of one’s own insignificance and Jesus’ great victory over death. This is a fitting song to sing when making an altar call on the Sunday of the Risen Christ.

18. Upchurch, “Legend”. American rap makes a return in my consciousness. For the first time ever, I was exposed to country rap – hip hop for the predominantly white country folks down south of America… way cooler than gangsta, Eminem, Beastie Boys, Mac Miller (rest in peace)… even Vanilla Ice. Country pride rhymes!

17. Sixx:A.M., “Skin”. If rock music is about self-empowerment, then this is it. This slow rock track promotes inner beauty and provides listeners an opportunity to self-reflect and the motivation to develop their self-esteem.

16. Sixx:A.M., “Oh My God”. Gone is the age of social consciousness in rock. Social documentaries are best delivered in and through rock music.

15. Sixx:A.M., “This Is Gonna Hurt”. Two words that best describe this song: pure badass! Now imagine singing this at church or any religious gathering. In my opinion, this is a song about coming to terms with the life you have wasted.

14. Aimyon, “Marigold”. The theme or feel of the song is somewhat similar to “Nakitai Kurai” and “missing you” only that it gives off a ‘feel good’ vibe.

13. Simple Plan, “This Song Saved My Life”. Rock, in all its many diverse sounds, is dead and long gone from the Billboard charts and MTV. But for true music fans, the spirit of rock music lives one and its flame will burn forever.

12. Hiragana Keyakizaka46, “Otoko Tomodachi Dakara”. Penned by AKB48 and Nogizaka46 creator Akimoto Yasushi and delivered solo by Kato Shiho, this is perhaps the best ballad from the 48/46 universe. The song’s title translates as “Because He’s a Guy Friend” in English and tells much about a girl’s forbidden love for a boy.

11. Boyzone, “I’ll Never Not Need You”. An old and forgotten pop ditty from the Irish pop vocal group who made it to the 2000 edition of the Guinness book of world records and whose record was later broken by fellow Irish world record breaker Westlife. For the delight of the people who listen to old boy bands, Boyzone released new singles this year “Because” and “Love” and so are the Backstreet Boys with “Chances”. British-Norwegian A1 is back as a four-man band for the first time since 2002 and Westlife returns to tour to celebrate their 20th year anniversary.

10. H△G, “Itazura na Kiss to Love Song”. A late favorite. One of the answers to the question “Why I Love Jpop?”

09. Goriki Ayame, “Tomodachi yori Daiji na Hito”. I don’t know much about this lady but I read that she is an actress and people were amazed she could sing and dance. The title in English means “A Person More Important Than Friends”.

08. Ohara Sakurako, “Nakitai Kurai”. The title means “I want to cry” in English. And in the first two minutes of the first time I heard this song, I was instantly blown away. This is the best song I have listened to with ‘cry’ or ‘crying’ in the title since “Cry” by Mandy Moore in 2001.

07. Kana Nishino, “missing you”. The best track from her 2015 best album Secret Collection ~RED~. For a love that never goes away, a romance that refuses to die though you have already moved on, this is the song to sing.

06. JAY’ED ft. Ms.OOJA, “Mata Kimi To”. I am not much into R&B, especially Japanese R&B but I seem to be at loss for words to describe this track. This is one of my best R&B tracks. The title means “with you again” in English.

05. Hiroya Ozaki, “Glory Days”. An empowering Japanese rock track bursting with hope, energy, and positivity. For the listener who goes through a tough time, this is his/her anthem.

04. Maneki Kecak, “Ariyorino Ari”. Give this girl group a moment or two to shine and they will prove better and far more fun and entertaining than AKB48 and Nogizaka46.

03. Marit Larsen, “Please Don’t Fall for Me”. A soothing pop track from a soothing voice of pop’s yesteryears. Marit Larsen is one-half of the Norwegian pop/pop-rock duo M2M that sang “Pretty Boy”, “Everything You Do”, “Mirror, Mirror”, and “The Day You Went Away”.

02. Nikmat HaTraktor and Ohad Naharin, “Chair Dance (Echad mi Yodeah)” Another late favorite. Both song and video are hypnotizing. This is one of the three songs I love to listen to this year on my commute. The other two? “Missing you” and “Mata Kimi To”.

01. Hugh Jackman & The Greatest Showman Ensemble, “From Now On”. Probably the best song from what I considered to be the best movie of 2018. It is the best music at the best moment, the most awakening moment, of the film.

Hope you will listen to all these songs, share them on Facebook and Twitter, give them a like on YouTube, and include them in your Spotify playlist.

 

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