Getting to Know Cambodia

I am now in Cambodia! I arrived last Friday, June 1, the first day of my birth month (a nice way to start one’s birth month, right?) I stayed overnight in Singapore last Thursday (May 31) and was able to bond with my good friend, Len Pagalanan and her friends who, incidentally, all hail from Cebu.

Anyway, Len, her friends and I met up at Orchard Road (literally!), and just sat on a bench by the road and enjoyed Singapore’s local beer, “Tiger.” It was truly a memorable night in Singapore! We had so much fun talking and swapping stories including break-ups and heartaches! Seems to me that it’s really therapeutic to just talk about your heartaches with fellow women (and ok, even men!). It was also great being with Len again after such a long time. Like me, she also had to “run away” from Manila to settle some personal struggles. Well, I could see that she’s well on her way to recovery (if she’s not yet there? Although seeing her, it seems like she’s already found her peace). Way to go, Len!

Stopover in Singapore. It is nice to see that Singapore is keeping true to its environmental management principles.

It was also great seeing Singapore again. It is one of my favorite places in the world because of its seriousness in keeping the air and the environment clean. In Singapore, you can still enjoy walking along tree-lined boulevards despite the growth in the real estate sector. I hope that it can continue its wise environmental management despite its massive infrastructural projects.

Anyway, I am typing this blog in my hotel room here in Phnom Penh. Luckily, they have free internet access in rooms and the technician helped me set up my LAN connection. Not bad, huh? I’ll be staying in this hotel for maybe a couple more days because I am still looking for an apartment so I can afford a longer stay.

Yesterday, Tito Frank, a good friend of mine who’s been here for more than a couple of years already toured me around the city and I was able to take some photos already. I have just posted some of them here in Friendster. Sorry, I can’t put the correct names of the landmarks yet as I didn’t bring a notebook yesterday. One thing I noticed here is that the drivers are also aggressive (wink! wink!). If I can’t drive in Manila, it’s equally challenging here. :)

The FCC in Phnom Penh reminded me of Cafe Adriatico in Manila :)

I spent my first night here drinking the local beer, “Angkor”, with Tito Frank. I love the FCC (Cafe); it reminds me of a Malate bar like Cafe Adriatico. But of course, I missed Manila when we entered the place. Nostalgia enveloped my whole being. One thing special also about the FCC is the fantastic view of the river if you’re seated by the wide veranda.

The FCC is located in Sisowath Quay (also called as Riverside Street). The next day (yesterday), we cruised along that street. It hugs the sides of Bassac, Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers and on one side, you’d find more cozy bars, cafes, and restaurants. I told Tito Frank I want to live in that side of the town but unfortunately, when we checked out apartment rates, they are really very expensive (one studio apartment costs $750/month). But the view is really nice…can you imagine waking up in the morning and just walking towards your veranda to see the magnificent view of the water with its silver reflections on its surface? <Sigh!> Anyway, I told myself to stop dreaming…but who knows?! Maybe I’d end up in one of those apartments in the future! :D Here are some of the photos that I took in the vicinity.

A part of rRverside Street in Phnom Penh (also called Sisowath Quay).

A mobile vendor plying his trade along Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh.

Some of the boats offer cruising services (some are floating restaurants, too).

The next agenda yesterday was to eat lunch and I was so glad because my friend brought me to a Pinoy restaurant owned by a gracious lady named “Helen”. Ang sarap ng dinuguan dun! Then another friend of mine (Idon) joined us for lunch. Later, we went to Idon’s place (he’s sharing the flat with his sis, Ate Cel). We enjoyed the whole afternoon just swapping stories about their Cambodia sojourn and of course, I was able to get bits and pieces of what Cambodia really is. I am excited to know more. We promised each other that we will go to Angkor Wat, and maybe even Vietnam. Imagine, you can go to Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) from here by bus for about 6 hours. Not bad!

I want to see the museums soon. I was told of the horrible reminders of the war and the killings…and I am sure I will be horrified, too. It is always a big mystery why certain people can do such a violent and senseless act. We all feel sad whenever we are reminded of wars. However, those memories make us appreciate the peace that we are enjoying today and move us to do more concrete steps so we can lessen, if not totally eradicate, such events again.

What is my first impression of Cambodia and particularly Phnom Penh? Well, it is like a provincial city like General Santos and Davao but definitely, it is also very unique. It has its own character. The streets could be chaotic and noisy, too, but there is also some quiet dignity in the place. So far, I like what I am seeing. I am a little anxious because I am a complete stranger here but the city seems smaller (compared to Manila, for example) and I’m sure, even if I will get lost sometimes, I’d still find my way eventually. Is this too much wishful thinking? :) Watch out for my new adventures!

[Re-post of a blog dated June 2, 2007 (from my previous site).] 


This is not a paid blog.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mary Anne Velas-Suarin

Is that armrest mine? (Some Simple Reminders When Flying)

I think it’s about time that we take flying etiquette more seriously. As more and more of us are flying all over the world (and even in domestic routes), we should be more sensitive to our fellow flyers who come from different time zones, persuasions, professions, cultural backgrounds and…yes, eccentricities.

Let me enumerate those things that, I think, should always be remembered when flying:

1. Armrest. It is difficult for airplane manufacturers/designers to consider that people want both armchairs on their sides, right? With planes that have 3 seats lumped together, this could be a major concern. Should the one in the middle take both armrests because he was stuck in the middle? The answer is no. I think the general rule is that one person should have one armrest to claim. So that means, the one in the middle should claim only one armrest, unless he politely asks either of the persons on his side if he may be allowed to use an extra side, for special reasons (i.e. recent injury). For those on either sides of the center seat, they should be sensitive enough NOT to claim the armrests on both their sides because that means depriving the one in the middle BOTH his armrests (not leaving him with even one armrest!)

Is this armrest mine? Try to negotiate if you have a special need like a recent injury. (Photo credits: The Wall Street Journal)

2. Trips to the lavatory. While people may be nice enough to stand from their seats so that you can visit the lavatory inside the plane, don’t over-exert this kindness by not relieving yourself prior to your flights. Go to the Men’s/Ladies Rooms prior to your flights so that you lessen the chances (or the number) of trips to the lavatory inside the plane. If you know that you really must go to the lavatory often, ask for an aisle seat when checking-in (this is what I do especially if I know that I drank too much fluid before my flight to avoid dehydration). Check-in early so you can have your choice seat.

3. Use of lavatory. I would usually want to avoid using the lavatory in planes because they often smell after an hour or two of flight. But since we all need to relieve ourselves at some point especially in long flights, remember to clean the place up after use – most especially the toilet seat! Wipe them clean with tissue paper provided in abundance there. Not just once but thoroughly. I used to bring alcohol with me so I can wipe the toilet seat before and after use but because of security issues in airports nowadays, I don’t think I’d ever be allowed to bring a bottle of sanitary alcohol again. For the male passengers, please take notice of this rule because admittedly, it’s harder for men to “aim” at their target so they would more often leave mess on the toilet seats (ugh). Please, we love the sexy stuffs you are made of but please be nice to us when sharing the toilet. (wink!)

4. Overhead space. The rule is not to bring too much hand-carry bags that you would already be using more than what should be yours in the overhead bin (or under-the-seat space). Just bring a small bag and maybe your laptop bag. If you are in a short trip and would rather not check-in, make sure that your luggage would fit in the overhead bin. It is very insensitive to use more space than what is normally allowed for one passenger. Remember that you are not the only one who has space requirements. Don’t you find it absolutely insensitive that some of our fellow passengers carry so much that you have to go far down the aisle just so you can put your bag in the overhead bin? This happened to me several times and I really find it quite inconsiderate.

5. Heavy overhead bags. Related to No. 3 rule above. While people would be kind enough to help you carry your stuffs to the overhead bin, remember that heavy objects may just suddenly fly and hurt anyone on their path. If you really must bring this heavy stuff with you, ask a steward or stewardess to help you carry it up on the bin.

6. Space underneath seats. The only space available for you under the seat is the one across you, not under you. Again, don’t carry so much hand-carry that you usurp the spaces meant for others.

7. Seat space. Respect the seat space of others so do avoid leaning on them unnecessarily or worse, putting your head on the side of their seats. Ok, you may fall asleep or accidentally fall on the sides along the way but just make sure that your hair smells nice! :) The same rule applies in reclining seats. Try not to recline the seat up to the maximum angle or try not to recline your seat at all. If you really want to sleep and needs to recline the seat–after all, it is your right–I think it is always better to kindly inform the one seated behind you. Most will be impressed with such a considerate gesture and would likely smile and say, “Go ahead!” The thing is, it is better to allow more leg and personal space for those behind us particularly if we are not even sleepy. If the one infront of you seems to have reclined his seat too much and you find it really bothering, say so politely and don’t act like a teenager by banging on the back of his seat just to stress your point. Most will accede to requests when asked in a nice way.

8. Conversations. Admittedly, this is my biggest irritation. I know I am sometimes guilty of this but ok, I try very hard to keep quiet in most of my flights. Please, if you have this urgent need to divulge your secrets and escapades to your seatmate, please do so in hush-hush voices or better, yet, just wait until you’re in the airport. Some people stayed up all night preparing their presentations prior to a conference and they are really dying for a nap so be nice and be quiet. Once, I was coming from a long trip (Toronto to Manila via Narita) and my fellow passengers who must be so excited to come home were shrieking like hyenas during the flight–not to disrespect the hyenas, of course, but you get the drift. It can really be a test of one’s patience to stop himself from screaming. We understand the excitement but remember that people need their peace and quiet especially if you just came from Japan and the others came from Canada, a country in a different time zone!

9. The value of waiting. Wait, wait, wait until all people have passed the aisle before you fix your things on the overhead particularly if it will take you more than two minutes. This is also one of many passengers’ irritations. I have always noticed that people just want to grab the first space available in the overhead bins that they take their sweetest time to fix their stuffs when there is already a long line of passengers waiting to pass through the aisle. It is better to remain patient particularly if your seat is on the aisle’s side. You have more time to fix your things later. Allow people to pass through first.

10. Drinking alcohol. Of course, many people want to take advantage of the free liquors served on board international flights. However, a glass or two should be set as one’s maximum. It’s no longer cute when you start to smell. And bad smell lingers in the air. Some are even allergic to them. Be sensitive to the smell buds of others, ok? Besides, you don’t want people greeting you in the airport smelling you like you just came out of a beer joint, right? :)

Smelly feet = smelly air inside the cabin. Deodorize your feet and be a nice co-passenger! (Photo credits:

11. Shoes. As much as possible, please do not take off your shoes while inside an airplane unless you are very sure that your feet do not smell (which is rarely the case particularly if you’ve been wearing them for several hours already). Oftentimes, shoes = smelly feet. I have been on a recent trip and someone beside me took off his shoes and the smell that floated in the air seconds afterwards was truly unforgettable. Remember that shoes are mostly made with materials such as leather, plastic, foam resin (such as the material used in Crocs), etc. and these cause your feet to perspire profusely and then smell after some time. If you really must take off your shoes for comfort particularly in long-haul flights, wear shoes that allow you to wear socks (cotton socks are better in absorbing perspiration). You can sprinkle your feet with an effective foot powder and deodorizer (preferably those made of essential oils such as sage and lavender) before wearing your socks. There is an effective Pinoy brand of underarm/foot powder called “Milcu” and this is ideal for long-haul travels (I am not an endorser of this brand but I like the product). Even ordinary talcum powder for babies may also work to lessen perspiration and smell. There are many online articles on home remedies for smelly feet problem so you may want to check on those articles, too, for general hygiene.

12. Kids. I know that it is sometimes necessary to bring the kids but ensure that the older kids (maybe aged 4 up) are given proper orientation (“Do’s and Dont’s”) prior to the flight. Give them incentives if they behaved nicely in the flight (i.e. their favorite toy or games). Stress to them that being quiet is the No. 1 rule when flying. Kids’ voices and laughters can be cute but please, not during flights when people want to steal a nap, read, or review their work presentations. For babies and toddlers, ask your doctors how to alleviate their miseries (e.g., pains in the ears) during flights so they don’t cry hysterically during flights. Keep young babies relaxed by cuddling them and whispering nicely into their ears so that they can eventually fall asleep after take-off. This is not the time to excite them with new toys or tricks. Reserve that when you’re already in your destination.

13. Cellphone use. I like to put this in BIG BOLD letters but I don’t like to sound like I am shouting (wink!). Please, don’t turn on your cellphones while the plane is still trying to park upon landing. It is also quite irritating when fellow passengers would all reach for their cellphones and start calling or texting EVEN IF the stewardess just announced that aviation rules prohibit use of cellular phones inside the cabin. Just wait until you reach the terminal before you call your “sundo” or your driver. They know you are arriving and they will not leave simply because your call/text came in a minute or two later.

14. Politeness and helpfulness. Kindness begets kindness so don’t forget this rule even when flying. I know it’s hard to be nice when you only have two hours of sleep and you’re still half-way through your reports. But think of how nice it will be to wake up from your nap and you realized that the sweet ‘motherly’ woman beside you reserved a glass of water for you or picked up your book that fell on the floor while you were sleeping. Do the same thing for others but don’t overdo it that your seatmate would think you’re an scam artist trying to gain her sympathy. :)

Please forward this to your friends/families who travel a lot so we can make a contribution to making flying a truly enjoyable experience. For those in the airline industry, maybe you can reproduce copies of this and include in your inflight magazines. :)

[Re-post of a blog dated February 5, 2007 (from my previous site).]


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Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mary Anne Velas-Suarin



The butterfly grows on my back.

Saturday was fun. Met up, for the first time, with my online buddies who share one of my passions: photography. We went to Fort Santiago but were unfortunately not allowed inside–this is a long story and may cover an entire page of a blog–so we just went to Intramuros and then Baywalk. I remembered how I miss watching the sunset. I was clicking and clicking even if the sun was still quite harsh…I know this is bad for my lens. But who cares? And then a couple of tattoo artists began installing their makeshift booth. Hmmm, this is getting more interesting. I haggled for a 100-peso butterfly design and decided to have it done on my back. I sat while I imagined myself as the painter…people stared at my back (or maybe the evolution of the butterfly or…both) but I didn’t care. The artist was telling me, “stop moving or we won’t finish” so I tried to sit still and endured the feeling of being stared at.

Ahhh…the butterfly was finally growing on my back and when it was over, I stood up, happy that it was over. I love my butterfly. Now it is a part of me. It will fade one day day but I won’t forget the simple joys of becoming a human canvass.


A hug from a stranger

The sun still refuse to set. I waited with my camera, silently, as if waiting for a lover. Then a group of Korean guys approached me and asked me to take their pictures (through a combination of sign language and little English). I happily obliged…but I realized this was tough. Their backs were against the late but still blazing sun and there was no way my (still limited) photography skills can make their faces appear on this shot. I told them it’s hard, the sun is at your back. They just nodded their heads and posed..and so I continued and took their photos. I think they didn’t care at all. They’re just happy being together, enjoying Manila Bay and its famous sunset and maybe having photos that may eventually end up in their deleted files. But oh, I got a sweet gift. This was unexpected. One of them went to me and hugged me! No words, no nothing, just the beauty of a simple hug. Who can beat that? Maybe he can’t speak in English but for me, he just told me one of the biggest thank you’s I’ve ever heard in my entire life.



“This is a microcosm of Philippine society,” I thought aloud inside my friend’s car as we weaved out of Baclaran Church. It’s past midnight. Another friend was talking endlessly about the cute guys we saw around the Church. And sex. Around us were merchants, devouts, cigarette vendors, pirated DVDs stores, chauffer-driven luxury cars, and bibingka stalls. I am part of this but I am not. I found myself but I am lost. I remembered the candles I lighted. The prayers I whispered. Next week, same time, I will come again.



For two days I didn’t go out of my house. I worked and read and wrote and read again. I seemed to have immersed myself in so much solitude and reading that I may have forgotten to eat voraciously (as usual) as I lost two pounds (yehey!). I had fever when I woke up this morning. It was so cold last night. My world was so silent. I received text messages and knew I should go out and be a part of humanity again, to be confused again, to laugh again, to believe again, to celebrate again. My solitary days will soon be over. My friends miss me and I miss them. I am back. I am back.


“Artists don’t sleep…

…they just close their eyes.” I just suddenly blurted this out one night when my friends were leaving my place and said something about me looking like I am already very sleepy. I don’t know why I said that. Sometimes I just say things and realize that they don’t make sense and yet, they make sense. You know what I mean? Sometimes these words just happen. Like moments in our lives that just happen. I promised myself I’ll always try my best to write more. To write about these moments more. To embrace my life more. To take photos more. To understand my life more. To become a better friend. A better lover. A better daughter. A better sister. A better artist. It’s past 2:00 am as I type this. I must be inspired. Or maybe the 2-day seclusion did my soul some good.



Sometimes I don’t understand you. I give myself to you completely but sometimes I don’t like you at all. You are my joys yet you are my pains. You are my growth but you are my destruction. You are my strength but you are my weakness. You are my light but you are my darkness. You are that comforting voice in the middle of the storm but you are the noise in my deepest solitude. I don’t love you but I love you.

[Re-post of a blog dated January 30, 2007 (from my previous site).] 


This is not a paid blog.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mary Anne Velas-Suarin

Goodbye, Neo

In less than 24 hours, I’d be bidding you goodbye. No tears, just a little sadness in my heart. When I announced that you are up for ‘adoption’, so many would-be parents contacted me, asking me about your special characteristics. I told them what you really are – three years old, supportive, loyal, always eager to please but with some eccentricities (sometimes you just stop working especially when I am in a hurry and trying to do two or three things at a time).

I am giving you up but that doesn’t mean you will stop being in my mind and heart. You will always be the first one. I have a new ‘baby’ now, maybe stronger than you, cuter, with fewer tantrums, but yes, I don’t think he can still experience the same things that we shared the past three years. Maybe we will weave our common stories, too, but our past three years are all yours to keep, all mine to keep, forever.

Remember the time that I was writing in the dead of the night while everyone was already snoring their way to never-never lands? Well, you were the only one who managed to stay up awake while I try to write and chase my muse. In between each paragraph, I talked to you like a curious reporter–probing, determined, not satisfied with the answers–and you never complained. You just simply listened. Because that’s all I’ve ever needed.

Remember the time that I was deliriously happy and my heart seemed like wanting to burst? Well, you shared that moment, too, with the same peace. You simply sat there and listened while I write about my thoughts and feelings. Always, you allow me to save those moments, to write about them. You kept and guarded my musings and you made me feel that my secrets are always safe with you.

I was preparing you for your new journey this morning and I can’t help but think of the years we’ve shared. All the angst, pains, joys, triumphs, doubts, fears, hopes, and dreams are pieces of me that you also happily embraced and kept in your memory. I touched your face and remember how it felt under my fingers the first time we met. I was excited that time. Happy that finally, I have you to keep under my wings.

Tomorrow, someone else will care for you. And he promised me that he will also take good care of you in the best way that he can. I made him promise to be patient with you but you have to promise me that you’d behave yourself and give him the same kind of loyalty and support that you’ve given me. Well, I really have no doubt about it. You are a good friend, a good listener, a good laptop. :)

Goodbye, Neo Q-Note. I hope our paths will cross again and you’d tell me that I made a good decision – that your new Dad is really the best among the many who wanted to adopt you.

[Re-post of a blog dated December 14, 2006 (from my previous site).]


This is not a paid blog.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mary Anne Velas-Suarin

Invest in the Philippines!

I know I am not an authority in investments but hey, isn’t it nice to learn bit by bit everyday? I am always hungry for knowledge so I like to share with you what I have been learning in stock market so far.

You see, through the guidance of my brother-in-law, I bought some shares of Manila Water last year at PhP 6/share. Now, the share price of Manila Water (as of Nov. 20, 2006) is at PhP 9.5/share! That means, my investment already earned me a PhP 3.5/share gain, right? Not bad for someone who doesn’t even know the meaning of most stock market jargons a year ago. :)

Your investments will help build industries and generate jobs.

Should I sell my shares now so I can already earn from this small investment? I am pondering on that especially that my 3-year old laptop is now shouting for upgrade! Anyway, some say stock investing is like gambling and that is true – one cannot predict how the market behaves the next day. However, historically, markets just go up and down. That’s just how things are. Anything that falls should also rise, right? At least, that’s how the world operates in general so, I guess, long-term investment is still the better option. Don’t panic when share prices suddenly plunge. Just take a deep breathe and don’t go cursing your stockbroker. Tomorrow may be a better day. Remember the saying, “what goes down will eventually rise again.”

As for me, I think I will just keep my stocks there and continue to have faith that Manila Water is a good company to invest my hard-earned money on. Why Manila Water of all companies? I chose it because I know for a fact that Manila Water is very serious in their environmental programs. They do have a serious environmental culture. And that’s my No.1 reason for investing in them. Of course, I also studied their company’s performance and my research pointed to one thing – they will really be a strong company in the years to come.

I am sharing this personal experience with you guys because I continue to believe in this country. And one sure way to help this country directly is to invest in the stock market. Not only are you helping the economy directly (more money in investments means more jobs) but you’re also helping yourself build your economic base for your dreams. Isn’t it nice to lead a comfortable life but at the same time, know that your money is helping your country, too? So do consider investing as an option! (But read and study first before you engage in stock investment!)

I am also writing this as a way to encourage our overseas Filipino workers and those living and earning abroad to consider investing in the Philippine Stock Market, too. For those of you who have relatives abroad, please feel free to forward this blog entry (or send them my blog address). I’d call it a personal mission. Through this blog, I hope to make a difference. I dream of a time when our engineers, nurses, domestic helpers, teachers, caregivers, lawyers, artists and doctors abroad are also owners of companies here in the Philippines through stock ownership. Remember, when you buy a company’s shares, you become a part-owner of that company! Isn’t it a nice thought? That you can brag to your friends abroad that you’re an owner of this and that company! :)

But remember that money is not everything. It’s nice to have them and the security they give. However, remember also that our relationships are still the most important reasons why we are working so hard so don’t forget to love and give more even if your pocket doesn’t have much to spare. It’s really our hearts that bear the most valuable assets in this world so isn’t it great to know that these assets are limitless?

So shine, love and give. It doesn’t cost much.


Below are some notes lifted from Hope they can be good starting points for learning more about stock investing. For those of you who are interested to buy stocks/bonds, you may get in touch with Andy Trilles through +63.920.9279910. Happy investing!

Q. How do I make money in the stock market?

A.   One can make money in the stock market through the price appreciation (capital gains) of his shares or through cash or stock dividends. A shareholder can also benefit from stock rights.

Q.   Where can I buy stocks?

A.   An investor can buy stocks listed on the PSE through its authorized and active trading participant.

Q.   How are shares bought or sold?

A.   If you wish to buy shares of stocks, you must have a broker who will do this for you since PSE is not directly involved in the buying and selling of securities. 

Q.   When can I buy stocks?

A.   Trading is done at the PSE trading floor during weekdays from 9:30 a.m to 12:10 p.m. except during legal and special public holidays. 

Q.   Is there any risk involved in investing?

A.   While it is true that stock investment is the most volatile of all securities, investors might well remember that uncertainty is a permanent feature of the investing perspective. This means that risk is always a part of any investment. A better attitude would be to limit and manage your risk. A maximum level of gain or loss should be set, and calculated decisions should be made when this level is reached. 

Q.   Why invest in the stock market?

A.   There are 3 rationale for stock investing:

a.      Ownership in a company  -  when an individual invests in the stock market, he automatically becomes a stockholder of a particular listed company. As a stockholder, he is entitled to the following benefits: a.1) voting rights; a.2) dividends to be declared by the corporation; and a.3) share of the remaining assets of the company if it is to be liquidated.

b.      Liquidity of Funds  –  a stock market investor has an easier access to funds. Compared to banks which require high minimum conditions for deposits and credit, an individual can start an investment for as low as Php 1,000 and can expect high yields for his initial investment. He can always cash in or out his funds anytime, during trading hours, through his broker.

c.      Make money  –  investors in the stock market make money through dividends and capital appreciation. When a listed company declares dividends, its shareholders increase their investing power. An investor who buys into the company at a low market price and sells it at a higher price will gain capital appreciation. 

Q.   What is the minimum amount of initial investment?

A.   The minimum amount of money needed to invest in the stock market depends on the minimum number of shares to be traded for the stock. The minimum shares will be determined by the prevailing market price of a particular stock. For each stock, the minimum number of shares to be traded is fixed and depends on the price range of the stock. The Board Lot table shall aid the investors as to the amount of money needed as initial investment. 

Q.   How do I choose my broker?

A.   An individual investor should choose a retail broker, preferably one that meets his requirements in terms of services needed. When he lacks the time to analyze individual companies and stocks, then a full service broker is recommended. In choosing a broker, the investor should see to it that the broker is a member of good standing at the Philippine Stock Exchange. It is important that the investor should trust his broker and that he is satisfied by the services it is giving him, such as market reports, quality of advice regarding stock selection and timing of purchases and sales, quality of trade executions, on-time delivery of important documents and other services.

For information on the various services offered by member-brokers, you may get in touch with he PSE Public Information and Assistance Center (PIAC). 

Q.   Do I need to have a physical evidence of my stock ownership?

A.   The PSE through its central depository (PCD) uses the computerized book-entry system (BES) to transfer ownership of securities from one account to another, thus eliminating the need for physical exchange of scrip between buyer and seller. The trading system where settlement is carried out via book-entries, rather than by the movement of physical certificates. This system is called scripless trading. However, you may still request for an upliftment of your shareholdings to get a physical certificate. 

Q.   How are settlement and clearing done?

A.   Equity securities move between securities accounts held by the different participant-brokers of the PCD. Stock market transactions are settled on the third day after the trade. Transfers are based on trades done at PSE. Shares are transferred on settlement date (T+3) to the buyer, and the buyer pays the seller through the clearing banks within the same settlement period. This means that transactions done on Monday must be settled by Thursday. Settlements of accounts are done in the clearing house.

[Re-post of a blog dated November 20, 2006 (from my previous site).]


This is not a paid blog.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mary Anne Velas-Suarin


Those who have ever placed a bet or watched a horserace would know what Dividendazo means. For those who think this is a designer labelor a stock market lingo (e.g., from “dividends”) (wink!), this is the published schedules of horse races at the San Lazaro Race Tracks in Makati and Carmona. Sold at 7 pesos (or sometimes 10 pesos) per piece, this is considered the main “review document” for “karera” aficionados.

Horse racing aficionados rely on this to predict their winners.

I grew up in Paco, Manila and “karera” is a favorite past time of the men in my neighborhood. My Dad, for one, was a regular customer. He was not what others would consider a professional gambler but he enjoyed this Sunday pastime when others would down bottles of cerveza or quarto cantos in corner stores. I grew up enjoying how my Dad would shout and laugh in triumph whenever his horses and favorite “hinetes” (jockeys) won. He has this unique laughter that most people would describe us contagious. Contagious it was because I cannot remember a moment when his laughter didn’t also make me laugh. I think my laughter even has a resemblance in the way he laughs (to some of you who may find my laughter ‘crazy’, well, you have my Dad to blame…wink…wink).

Anyway, not to digress…this part of my childhood was somehow revisited last weekend when my sister (Rowena), and brother (Dennis), and I went to the San Lazaro Leisure Park in Carmona, Cavite. (But before that, I must mention that we also went to the Canyon Ranch, a housing development by Century Properties. I like to mention this because Canyon Ranch is impressive. The house designs were simple yet pleasing and the place offers a breathtaking view of the valley and horse track below.

Anyway, the moment we entered the horserace track, I was already bitten by excitement. I then bought my first ever Dividendazo! I looked around and didn’t care that the people there were about 95% male. :) The place smells of testosterone but I was too happy and excited to even care. Ate Weng, Deng, Kuya Andy (Ate’s hubby), Anne-anne (my cute pamangkin) and Francis (my sister’s staff) got a table with a good view of the track and almost across the finish line of the oval track. We ordered food and drinks (and the usual beers for the men) and by the time we took our first bites and gulps, we were already thinking of what horses to bet for.

It was so enjoyable! I am not a gambler but this was so exciting for me. I didn’t win on the first game though. But hear this – my bets won in the next two games! Of course, my “consultants,” Deng and Anne, should share the credits as they also helped me in deciding which horses to bet for. We only watched 4 games and winning 2 games out of the 4 is a good batting average, right?

But before you even think that I must be a millionaire now (wink!), I was only betting 10 pesos each horse so that only meant winning about 50 to 200 pesos each time my bets won. In horseracing, you must guess the first two horses who will reach the finish line. So that means, I paid 10 pesos each for the 1st and 2nd lead horses. One unit of bet is worth 5 pesos so if you bet 10 pesos, you have 2 units of bets. That means, if your horses win, you get double of the winnings assigned to the winning horse. For example, if you win a particular race and the amount of win is 70 pesos for that horse, your total winnings is 140 pesos.

Usually, those horses that have good standings would have lower “prize” amount because more people would naturally bet on them. They are what aficionados would call dehado bets. One has higher chances of winning on them but the prize would be lower. The opposite of this is called llamado – they are bets that a lesser number of people would vote for because the probability of their winning is lower. But when they do win, the prize is so much higher. The winnings I had from the two games were both dehado bets, ergo, lower prizes.

However, win or no win, I surely felt a winner after that day because not only did I had a natural high experiencing the excitement of betting for horses, I also had a super wonderful time with my loving siblings–my brother Deng, who just came from abroad (he is a seafarer) and my beautiful sister, Weng, who is an epitome of kindness and warmth. What more can I ask for? It was a day of excitement, laughter, wonderment, love and funny moments.

One thing I learned, too? Well, I must review the Dividendazo one week before I even go to a horserace again! :)

(Special thanks goes to Francis who helped us by placing our bets with the Leisure Park betting counter whenever we were done writing them on a piece of paper!)

 [Repost of a blog dated November 17, 2006 (from my previous site).]


This is not a paid blog.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mary Anne Velas-Suarin

Stories of our Lives

Recently, I attended the birthday get-together for Grace, a former landlady, who has also become a good friend. Because my former apartment (owned by Grace’s family) is just a short walk from my current one, it’s always easy for me to connect with her especially that she would always make it a point to invite me every time there’s a get-together in their home – including birthdays of her Mom and Dad whom I’ve also learned to love like my second parents.

I thought that after the usual “pigging-out” and conversations with Grace (I joked around with Grace that I stayed in the gym for two hours before going there so I can eat like an elephant), I’d just quietly go home and read a book. However, that night, a good friend from way back my Ricky Lee workshop days, was also there and he invited me to join their set of friends who are out there in the front patio.

Our stories connect us to the Greatest Source. (Photo taken in Tagaytay, Philippines, by the author)

At first, I was hesitant to join because I didn’t know anyone in the group except him and another woman whom I was briefly introduced before. However, something pulled me in so I found a seat and tried to join in the conversations. Most people who know me would say that I’d usually be the one to start conversations when thrown by circumstances to strangers. However, that night, I guess there was no need for me to try to break the ice because it seemed that everyone was already in the middle of conversations. Not wanting to just sit there and listen, I began to chat up with the woman beside me whom I will name Cristy. Cristy, by the way, is about to leave for the US—this, I gathered from the moment I joined the group.

So that’s where my first question to her came from. I asked, “So…I heard that you’re leaving…maybe you’d like tell me the story behind it?”  I didn’t want her to feel that I am trying to be nosy over what could be a very personal thing but it seemed that she was warm and open enough. Amazingly, I think this was also the needed question that would set the ball rolling…because immediately after that, all ears were on us.

It became apparent that the group was also raring to hear more about the story behind this decision. It turns out that Cristy was leaving “to follow her heart.” She met a US-based Filipino guy in Baguio sometime last April. They fell in love, went steady and eventually got married after one month. Yes, one month. Of course, to the hopeless romantics in the group, this was a love “made in heaven.” However, to some, they felt it was too short a time to get to know someone, much more, get married. The guy is now in the US and waiting for her to follow. When Cristy was narrating all these, she really looked so happy and in love! I prodded her more and more and she gamely answered all my questions. Before long, the others were also throwing their questions in.  Things like, “Why so fast naman?”,  “Are you in love?”, “Where will you be staying?” I guess Cristy didn’t mind answering all of our questions . She blushed. She laughed. Her eyes twinkled. She expressed her concerns, too, but she is a picture of joy and hope. I knew then that I was touched again by another love story.

The universe gathers our stories, creating a web of colors, giving deeper meaning to the lives of others. (Photo taken by the author in Gasan, Marinduque. Philippines)

Because the mood of the night began to encourage heart-to-heart talks about love, life, relationships and sex (yes, this is always a favorite topic), it didn’t take long for the group to start passing on the questioning (interrogation?!) to another female in the group. Let’s call her Janet. I can say that Janet is all fire and passion. Her sense of humor is contagious, too. She started by saying that she married her husband just after one week from the time she met her. I almost fell off my chair. I can imagine having sex with a man on the first date but surely, getting married only after one week…wow.

That beats me. Janet said she was engaged to be married to someone else already but when she met her husband, she instantly fell “magic.”  This word later on became one of the favorite words of the night. It was Cristy who said it first but Janet, maybe after trying to find a better word, just blurted it out for the second time that night. She said her whole family found her insane. But she didn’t care. She knew she will follow her heart and she did. She is still happily married now. She admits there are problems and that there was even a time that she wanted to call it quits. But now, she gamely said, “You single women there (pointing to me and another female guest beside me), marriage is a gamble and a commitment. You don’t know what you will get. There is no guarantee. But you have to give it your best shot. It is a continuing work. You committed yourself to it and that’s what you will do – make it work. That’s what I learned.”

I know I have been hearing and reading these words before. But it’s different when they are uttered by someone right across me. Nothing can get as real as that. I can hear her every word, each one coming from her soul. Janet’s decision touched me as very courageous. It was insane, yes. But how can one doubt her feelings when it is as strong as that? Could I trust my feelings in the same way, too?

As I mull over the questions in my mind, Lilia, still another strong woman, shared her story. However, before that, she said something like this…”Do all women here agree that each woman has a depth so deep that it is only herself alone who knows its reach and what it holds?”  Everyone was quiet for a few seconds…and then one by one, every person there nodded or said “Yes, I agree.” And then Lilia shared her story.

Lilia has an ongoing 4-year relationship prior to her marriage. She considered him the love of her life…he was also her best friend. Unfortunately, they broke up and went their separate ways. Lilia eventually started going out and met a new guy who eventually became her boyfriend. He later asked Lilia to marry him. Lilia, who wasn’t sure how she would decide, asked God for a sign. She said that if her ex-boyfriend didn’t visit or see her for one month, she would say “yes” to her boyfriend.  During the weeks that followed, she was somehow hoping that her ex-boyfriend will visit her (she lives in Laguna while her ex-boyfriend lives and works in Manila) but after the “deadline” and still, there was no word or visit from him, she eventually agreed to marry her new boyfriend.

However, a strange thing happened after she already accepted the proposal of her boyfriend. Just after two days from the day she gave her “yes”, her ex-boyfriend visited her in Laguna! He said that he still loves her. He wanted to come earlier but that he just joined a new company and he couldn’t file a leave yet. Lilia couldn’t believe what she’s hearing. She wanted to tell him that she still loves him but that she knew she couldn’t have the heart nor the courage to take her word back from her future groom. When her ex-boyfriend left, she was so distraught that she cried for days on end. The day of her wedding came. She was on her way to the church in her bridal car when she saw…her ex-boyfriend, standing alone in a street corner near her house, as if waiting for her…she said she almost opened the car’s door and gone out to run to him…but she couldn’t…she went to the Church and married her boyfriend.

Looking back, she said that she couldn’t even remember most parts of the wedding. It was a blur. She was smiling outside but she was torn apart inside. Everyone thought she was so deliriously happy. We asked if she still loves her ex-boyfriend until now. And she said…”Yes.” But that she chose her husband and she has a good life now with 4 children. We asked, “Why didn’t you marry the person you really loved?” She said it was more important for her to keep her word and admittedly, her growing-up years made her promise to herself that she won’t allow her children to grow up in a world similar to what she experienced. She said that her father was so irresponsible that he was often jobless and left all the burdens to her mother. He would also often hurt her.

They eventually separated. And so, during those crucial days when she was thinking of what’s the best decision for her, she chose her boyfriend. She was sure that he would give her and her children a good life. And she was right. There were no flowers and no sweet-nothings with this man who became her husband but he is a very good provider and shows his love with the way he takes care of her and her children. She says she couldn’t ask for anything anymore. She admits that she misses the flowers, the sweet nothings and the “kilig”gestures, but ultimately, she is content.

Would I decide in the same way, too? I asked myself. I don’t know. It’s hard to say. Knowing myself, I think wouldn’t marry for any other reason. I would marry only for love and passion. But would this be the right decision? I don’t know. I only hope that I would have someone to grow old with and if it is God’s will that I remain single for the rest of my life, I pray for spiritual strength, contentment and bliss.

But let us not digress…let’s move on to another woman’s story. Let’s call her Pia. She married someone 10 years her senior. But truth be told, her decision to marry this man wasn’t really based on love. She married primarily for security. Of course, she cared for the guy and have strong admiration and respect for him. But you see, she came from a poor family and when she met this successful man and proposed marriage to her, she immediately accepted it, believing in her heart that she will be a good wife and build a happy family with him. It was a good and comfortable life. Her husband seems to be getting richer everyday.

Pia was happy…until one day, she found out that her husband was having an affair. She didn’t know when it started but looking back, it was clear that the more the husband became richer, the more attractive he must have been becoming to the opposite sex. There were fights and accusations until it got to a breaking point. Her husband left her for the other woman. She went through a long healing period and must still be trying to heal up to now. But she has finally come to terms that in this life, there is no guarantee. We just do our best and if things don’t work out, then we just simply move on. Now, she says she is still hoping and praying for another chance at love.

The stories of Cristy, Janet, Lilia, and Pia are stories that somehow connect to our lives, too. We may have different circumstances but we all share the same questions. We may have different paths to take but we all share a common journey – that of trying to find ourselves in a world that is full of uncertainties and eventually making peace with every decision that we make.

That night gave me valuable lessons that I now carry in my heart, grateful that their stories will continue to guide me as I continue my journey towards wholeness.

[Re-post of a blog dated June 4, 2006 (from my previous site).]


This is not a paid blog.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mary Anne Velas-Suarin

How buying my toiletries gave me more than I asked for

With Rose, riding a rickshaw in Dhaka

I still wonder why I didn’t write about this important event in my life many years ago when everything was still fresh in my mind. Maybe I just wanted to keep everything to myself, worried that if this story gets published, the beauty of the moment will be diminished.

Ten years ago, I was assigned in Dhaka, Bangladesh, to coordinate the preparations for an international conference, which was going to be attended by civil society groups engaged in social development, justice and equity, governance and empowerment. I was a little anxious on the day of my departure from Manila. After all, it was my first time to be away from home for more than a month (my Dhaka stint was to last for six months). It also bothered me a bit that some people think being assigned in a job in Bangladesh is like experiencing a “hardship post”. While these two things somehow bothered me, I actually looked forward to the experience. I cannot explain that, too. Perhaps it was a combination of anxiety and excitement.

In Manila, my friends put on some bets that I wouldn’t last there for more than a month. Not that Manila is a paradise. Although, I must say, at this point, that despite Manila’s chaos and horrible traffic, I am very much in love with it. But as you know, many people somehow always think that Dhaka is not really a place to go. I didn’t ever think of Dhaka or any other place, for that matter, as a place that I shouldn’t visit but of course, I knew what they may be thinking: Dhaka only translates to poverty, beggars, traffic, chaos, and floods. They seem to forget that Dhaka could also be a place of warm smiles, friendly people, innocent children and beautiful moments.

There were many wonderful things that happened to me in Dhaka and I would probably need a whole issue of Readers Digest just to share them all to you. But one thing that really stands out is this very touching story of my encounter with a shop-owner.

Almost every weekend, I would go to this marketplace where I would usually get my week’s supplies of food, drinks and personal stuffs like toiletries. Around that time in Dhaka, there was no shopping mall yet. Nothing like Manila’s SM Megamall or Bangkok’s MBK.  The closest that one can find is a 4-storey store called Aarong where Bangladesh-made products are sold (but even Aarong would seem small if situated beside SM or MBK). For grocery and household items, one can only get them in marketplaces that are similar to Divisoria or Baclaran stalls in Manila, only smaller. These shops are nothing modern or swanky but of course, it has that quaint character. It reminded me of small shops and nooks back home or even those in Phnom Penh. Some shops/stalls are airconditioned, some are not. There would usually be 3 or lesser sales staff to attend to the customers. Of course, things could be different now.

Anyway, on that particular weekend, I needed to buy mostly toiletries so I went to this shop where I figured familiar brands are sold. Those silly things that we mortals are sometimes guilty about whenever we are away from our comfort zones…ahhh, forgive my youth and ignorance back then! Nowadays, I guess I am older and hopefully, wiser and would likely prefer products that are locally-made or locally-grown! And for Asian economies’ sake, I hope we Asians can patronize more of our locally-made products, right? After all, we are supposed to be the future!

Not to get sidetracked…the old male shop-owner helped me find shampoo, conditioner, lotion, feminine pads, tissue paper and the like. I was so happy with my finds and confidently took out my wallet from my bag….but lo and behold, I realized that my wallet didn’t have any local notes in it! I just suddenly remembered that I failed to put new notes in it as I was in a hurry to leave my flat a couple of hours earlier. I started apologizing to the shop-owner, explaining that I don’t have any local money in my wallet and that I could no longer buy all the items that he kindly prepared for me. It was all wrapped up in a brown bag and I felt so guilty just thinking about how he helped me with my purchases.

I thought I would just simply leave the shop after getting his acceptance of my apologies. I was wrong. For the next thing I heard was, “No, Madam…you can take everything home with you, no problem…just come back another time so you can pay me.” And with those words, I saw the most sincere and kind smile in the whole world. I think that I was so shocked with that gesture that I was speechless for half a minute. As I still couldn’t believe my ears, all I blurted out was, “Are you sure??” And he said, “Yes, Madam, I am very sure.”

The next thing I knew, I was already teasing him. I said, “Well, for all you know, I may be flying home to my country tomorrow and you won’t get your money anymore.” With that, he simply said, “I am sure you are coming back here.” Wow. I suddenly realized, there are really small miracles that can happen in our daily lives but sometimes, we just miss them or take them for granted.

And so, armed with my package, I happily prepared to leave his shop and whispered a silent thank you to the Supreme Being who makes things like this possible. Of course, I couldn’t stop thanking the shop-owner that I swear, I was ready to hug him right there and then.

One week after that, I went to the shop and the moment he remembered me, his eyes sparkled and said, “See, Madam, I told you, you are coming back!” We started laughing together.

I paid what I owed him, and added some more. I even ended up buying  a whole month’s supply of toiletries!

What more can I say? Dhaka didn’t just give me quiet moments, beautiful friendships, wonderful sceneries, French language lessons, soulful chanting that I hear from a nearby mosque every morning and evening, opportunity to work with committed NGO workers, and unexpected help from officemates (who went as far as bringing a broken shoe to a shoemaker). It also gave me a deep reaffirmation of the beauty of life – that in every corner of this world, there is a little kindness just waiting to happen.

Dhaka can really be a challenging place to most people used to ‘big’ city living. But for me, it is indeed a very soulful place, still full of old charms, of genuinely kind people, of people who still give their trust unconditionally. I would probably never experience that kind of gesture anywhere else in the world. But then again, who knows?!


[Repost of a 2006 blog from my previous site].


This is not a paid blog.

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