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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

A piece of Puerto Princesa

Eating a plateful of timolok worms may have been one of the highlights for John Ryan Mendoza when he visited Puerto Princesa, but as he discovered, there’s always more to discover in this part of Palawan.

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“Do they taste like what a worm would taste like in your head before you ate it?” said the Facebook message that my Canadian friend sent me after leaving an appalled comment on a photo of me biting a tamilok.

“They tasted familiar, like oysters, but still very different,” I replied, amused.

The tamilok, a wood worm that thrives in coconut tree trunks, is a local delicacy in the island province of Palawan. My transgender travel buddy and I just found them in a menu at Kinabuch’s Grill on the second night of our promo flight getaway. At 130 pesos, we had a full plate of skinned worms with a small saucer of vinegar. The tamiloks only got to the side of my friend’s face for the photo, so I had the whole squirmy plate to myself. They tasted like very, very long oysters. After dipping it in vinegar, I had to slurp a whole juicy one in order to chew it. I finished most of the plate. I just hesitated at the thought that my stomach wouldn’t be so happy about it and may just end up in toilet confinement rather than the Palawan outdoors the next day. I turned out fine and I definitely would have them again, cooked next time. Puerto Princesa, Palawan’s capital city, offered so much more aside from these quirky tamiloks.

Ka Lui’s cake
We started this Puerto Princesa trip with a dinner reservation at Ka Lui’s Seafood House. We had to go on barefoot to get inside so we had to leave our footwear in numbered drawers at the entrance. The place had a native Filipino ambience and was packed. We were ushered to a low candlelit table for two and were crouched comfortably. We ordered the Ka Lui’s special for the day. At 485 pesos, we had full course meal of veggies, prawns, fried fish in mango sauce, grilled fish, and a young coconut with tropical fruits. The whole night, my transgender friend couldn’t help but notice the good-looking waiters that served the customers. Then we had a surprise for the night- a not just phallic, but really penile cake was served for a birthday celebrant in the next table. My friend guessed right, Ka Lui is proudly a successful gay businessman according to locals. With this gay vibe, I would definitely come back here with friends and have that cake.

Ice cold island tour
On the second day, as Typhoon Gener was raging over most of Luzon, a morning text brought bad news. Our subterranean river trip was cancelled due to the reported dangerous river currents from the local coast guard. Unfazed, we proceeded with the Honda Bay island tour.

At 200 pesos, we rode a tricycle to the boat terminal where we started to pay the various fees and taxes for the tour. We were about to pay 1,300 pesos for just the two of us, when luckily a young (het) couple was also there looking to share a boat with others. There were four islands and one reef that were lined up for the tour. Entrance fees for Pandan and Cowrie islands, 100 and 75 pesos respectively, were paid there at the terminal. All other entrance fees that charged 50 pesos were to be paid once getting there.

We first stopped at Luli island. It was just a sand bar where a highly stilted house and some small cottages stood. The boat man told us that the whole sand bar submerges during high tide. That’s why it’s called “Luli” (lulubog-lilitaw). We just spent a brief time exploring the quite dense mangrove growth and proceeded to our next stop. We then arrived at Pambato reef, where we donned our rented snorkeling gear and footwear. We all rented the equipment at 150 pesos each at the shops near the main highway and then just realized that we can rent them even cheaper at 100 pesos at the boat terminal. Oh well, next time. There was so much colourful fish and corals too see but there was just one problem-the water was too murky. Being in a low pressure area was starting to take its toll on our tour. On a sunny day, I’m pretty sure how much more amazing this underwater world would be.

Next stop-Starfish island. It was starting to rain when we disembarked from the boat and four starfishes welcomed us at the shore. After going around for the camera poses and jump-shots, we realized that those were the only starfishes we ever saw. Maybe we weren’t looking well enough, but I was starting to suspect the starfish welcome was staged. It was starting to get really cold so we all took refuge in the warm seawater. We all wouldn’t recommend swimming here, snorkelling I guess, for the beach was too rocky, unless you are into pain.

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It was on our transit to Pandan island when the torrential rain poured. The island was so shrouded in thick white mists that our boatman got disoriented – just freaky. After around 30 minutes, we arrived at the more developed island all drenched and freezing. Cottages for rent at 300 pesos were at the beachfront and a food and drinks counter was at the interior. We took shelter at a tent beside the food place and had our lunch of grilled squid and pork at 180 pesos per plate. The island was just surrounded with snorkelling spots. After our cold meal, we finally dipped into the soothing warm waters. This time, we brought a feast for the fishes – breadcrumbs. One doesn’t need a life vest anymore since the spots you can feed the fish and find corals were very shallow. Just stay clear from the black gardens of sea urchins and occasional camouflaged stone fishes. They all sting pretty bad.

The weather was getting worse but we were all still resolute to get our money’s worth. After another chilly and wavy trip, Cowrie island proved to be worth it. It had the finest sand and the most pristine waters among all the other islands. This last stop’s warmer water was just perfect for languid swimming after enduring all that cold. We finally sailed back to the terminal and then all parted at our respective hotels after sharing again, a tricycle. Just one classic – share a boat/tricycle, win a friend – day.

Wet City Tour
On our third day, the morning text message made us abandon all hope we had for the underground river tour. The typhoon raged on and the underground river currents could kill, the travel agent told us. We were just left with the city tour option. Our friendly driver agreed to tour us for the whole day at 500 pesos. We first drove to Palawan governor-owned Rancho Sta. Monica, popularly known as Mitra’s Ranch. Located at a hilltop, it had a magnificent view of Puerto Princesa and offered various activities such as horseback riding, trampoline jumping, and ziplining. My friend opted to pay 500 pesos for ziplining. The ranch’s zipline had 3 lines where you can transfer from one line to another thru towers as high as the tree tops. The first zip line is 300 meters long while the 2nd and 3rd zip lines are 150 meters long each. The male zipline staffs were so accommodating to my friend that they agreed to take photos of all her zipline moments and even invited her to a drinking session sometime after work. Maybe it’s just my friend’s charm or just this place’s really friendly locals.

Then we proceeded to Baker’s Hill. It is a bakery/restaurant with a mini park with fun statues, exotic birds, and beautiful landscapes. No wonder, it is a pretty famous dating spot for locals. The Hopia Ube and Hopia Baboy are the bakery’s famous delicacies.

The non-stop cam-whoring at the mini park eventually starved us so we went the nearby Dampa sa Mansion Restaurant for lunch. You get to choose the fresh seafood from the display and just buy the amount you need. You then have them cooked the way you want at 100 pesos. We were awful at estimating the amount of seafood we want and ended up paying much for the food we can’t all consume. We just got them packed for the next day. The place had a nice open space and you can just enjoy the fresh air while dining. Except for really rainy days when mists of water would just spray on your entire table if you are near the peripheries, which was unfortunately our case.

The rains were hard again and the driver updated us of the situation of the other usual city tour spots. On that day, butterflies were a no-show in the butterfly garden, and getting to the crocodile farm or the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center was impossible due to the flood-damaged bridge. We just moved to our next stop – the Binuatan Creations. Binuatan Creations had this weaving workshop where the staff assists you in making handloom woven mats using the indigenous plant fibers of Palawan drawn from the buntal, coconut, buri, cogon grass, pandan, and pineapple. Their products are world-class exports and you can buy these native products at the source. The bags are really good and cheap. Impulsive, broke, and thick-faced, I bought four and had my friend swipe her credit card for me. Once the buying starts, the shopping mode is on for both of us. We then rode to the newly opened LRC 908 Market Mall, where there was an assortment of local handcrafts, pearl accessories, and lots of pasalubong items.

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It was a Sunday and my friend wanted to hear mass at the Immaculate Conception cathedral. The driver then brought us to the Baywalk, which was just very near the cathedral. The Baywalk is a famous place to enjoy the view of the Puerto Princesa Bay to stroll, bike (available for rent), and to try street food. After the usual photos, we were then finally transported to the cathedral. I had an hour to wait for my friend so I just killed time at Plaza Cuartel, which was just a few steps from the cathedral entrance.

Plaza Cuartel looks like a plain city park with concrete pavements, tall trees, water fountains, and benches. With the clinging couples at every corner, I now get why the driver said it is known to be a “lover’s park” for local teenagers. Yet I realized after some reading of inscribed texts at the monument, the ruins of an old garrison and tunnels are proof of its brutal history. This plaza is the site of Palawan Massacre. In the tunnels, 150 American prisoners of war were kept during World War II. It was on December 14, 1944, the Japanese decided to burn them all alive. Many died and only eleven prisoners survived and escaped the mass execution. Then it rained on me at this quite dark conclusion for the city tour.

Badjao at the Seafront
After the mass, we were both ready for our fourth leg of seafood pig-out. At 60 pesos, we got a tricycle to transport us from the cathedral to Badjao Seafront Restaurant. It’s a popular place and is expectedly crowded so we had to reserve a table earlier that day. When we arrived, the winds were strong and it was already quite dark. We had to pass through a hallway with wafting white curtains and can see that the restaurant is built on top of a mangrove forest. The place had large open windows, some of which were unfortunately covered then due to the winds. On nicer weather, I’m sure it has a beautiful sea-view. Named after the Badjaos, the restaurant is adorned with textiles that are associated with the seafaring tribes in the south. We agreed to just have modest dinner since we quite overspent for lunch. The mixed seafood dish was expectedly good. All our neighbouring tables had crabs, shrimps, and all the fish Palawan can offer, and all looked satisfied. This place lives up to its fame.

Big Brother and Garcellano
The fourth day was my friend’s last day and we figured to just enjoy our remaining hours at the House of Big Brother. For 1,000 pesos per night, our “housemate” room had two couple wide beds, a hot/cold shower, wide screened flat screen TV with cable and a kitchenette equipped with modern fire-less induction cooker, electric kettle, automatic rice cooker, refrigerator, microwave oven, cooking and dining utensils. Cooking skills would be very much handy and economical along with Palawan’s bountiful seafood and vegetables that are just waiting in the city markets. Big Brother offers quite a good deal for a larger group and a longer stay.

I still had one more night in the city so I had to check-in into another place by noon time and I fortunately discovered the cheapest place ever- the Garcellano Tourist Inn. It is only 250 pesos per night. Don’t expect Big Brother’s extra amenities, for this place only has fan rooms with private toilet and bath. They have bigger rooms for larger groups but the rates still remain less than 500 pesos. If most of the day you would just be enjoying the outdoors, this place gives you just the comfortable basics for your stay.

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Vietnam in Palawan: Chaolong
On this mission-less day, we finally tried Chaolong for lunch. We have been seeing many of outlets around the city. We discovered from the stories of our tricycle driver/tourist guide that this ubiquitous Vietnamese dish came along after the fall of South Vietnam in 1975. At this time, Vietnamese migrants first began arriving in boats in the Philippines. A refugee camp was setup by the United Nations in Palawan. The still existing small community of the refugees, called Viet Ville, is about 13 kilometers up the road from Puerto Princessa.

To be more factual, Puerto Princesa’s chao long should be qualified, the Vietnamese chao long, is “scrummy” rice porridge (the chao) laden with innards (the long). Puerto Princesa’s chao long is flat, thin rice noodles in a sweet-savory broth with your chosen meats (beefbones, beef , pork), served with the indispensable plate containing raw bean sprouts, shoots of basil and mint, and a piece of kalamansi.

We had a taste of this dish at Bona’s Chaolong House and Restaurant, where prices are really cheap. I ordered the Beef Bones with Noodles Special (55 pesos) and French Bread with Cheese (25 pesos). I liked it a lot that I had Chaolong again for breakfast the next day.

Walking along Rizal Avenue
When my friend had to go to the airport for her flight, we just decided to walk from the House of Big Brother. Google maps advised us it was just near, and it was. When we arrived, we both gave tricycle drivers 50 pesos to get us to our accommodation. We realized it was too much. The regular fare which was eight or ten pesos was enough.

I was then alone. I decided to just walk again from the airport and along the stretch of Rizal avenue, one of city’s main streets. The air was so non-Manila. Even while strolling along a street with so many vehicles, the air was clean. Puerto Princesa lives up to being the cleanest and most environment-friendly city in the Philippines. This main road is sprawled with hotels, motorbike rentals, handicraft stores, travel agencies, restaurants, and bars. These are proudly good indicators of an ever booming tourism industry.

It was already night-time when I reached the Baywalk. Locals and tourists just leisurely hang out while viewing the quiet bay. The vibe has been peaceful not only here but throughout the areas I have been so far in the city. Locals and official reports verify that Puerto Princesa is still the most peaceful among the urban centers in the country. Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn had reported that the city has the lowest crime rate and highest crime solution efficiency compared to other urban centers in the country. With strong political will, significant impacts like this are truly achievable.

Ima’s Gulay Bar
It was my last dinner at this peaceful green city so I searched for the nearest vegetarian restaurant. Just a few blocks from where I was staying, I finally found Ima’s Gulay Bar. Quaint and somewhat intimate were my impressions of the place when I got in the wooden cottage. Their menu declared that they served delectable continental vegetarian dishes. I then automatically looked for entries that were unfamiliar. I ordered the spicy okra and mango pasta (70 pesos) and a smoothie called Ima’s blend (80 pesos). The restaurant had a good wifi connection so my partner and I had a “vegetarian dinner date” via Skype. He was also having his veggie bolognaise. With good vegetarian food, affordable prices, quiet ambience, and a free and fast wifi connection, Ima’s Gulay Bay is my instant favorite. I came back the next day for lunch and stayed there to do some writing until I had to leave for the airport.

I was welcomed back in Manila by the remaining wrath of Typhoon Gener. In the taxi on my way home, the strong wind howled, the heavy rain fell, and flood and traffic was everywhere. I just happily thought to myself that I have had a piece of Puerto Princesa and still has that sweet promise to return.

A registered nurse, John Ryan (or call him "Rye") Mendoza hails from Cagayan de Oro City in Mindanao (where, no, it isn't always as "bloody", as the mainstream media claims it to be, he noted). He first moved to Metro Manila in 2010 (supposedly just to finish a health social science degree), but fell in love not necessarily with the (err, smoggy) place, but it's hustle and bustle. He now divides his time in Mindanao (where he still serves under-represented Indigenous Peoples), and elsewhere (Metro Manila included) to help push for equal rights for LGBT Filipinos. And, yes, he parties, too (see, activists need not be boring! - Ed).

LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Tips to save money on airline tickets

Airfare and lodging cost escalates the air travel expenditure, but don’t fret. In this article, you will get to know the best five ways by considering which you can save money and make your air travel a hilarious experience.

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Ready to board or to plan the destination for your next holiday travel but wondering about your traveling budget?

I know airfare and lodging cost escalates the air travel expenditure, but don’t fret. In this article, you will get to know the best five ways by considering which you can save money and make your air travel a hilarious experience. 

Well! Frugal flight booking is indeed overwhelming, but repeated searching will help you book the cheapest possible flights to the right destination and at the right time.

It’s been well said:

All You Need to Know Is That It’s Possible.”
– Wolf, a Trail Hiker

If you know how you can find cheap flights and travel by spending a minimum cost, then you will never be the person who paid the most for booking their air tickets. Once, I was travelling from San Francisco to Shanghai, I paid $1,500, and the person sitting next to me paid only $500 for the same journey. I was shocked and thought to myself, how in the name of Jesus is it possible? I think, if you ever get stuck in such a situation, you also might feel the same? 

Not a problem anymore. Scroll down to know how the person sitting next to me got his ticket booked at just one-third of the price I paid for the same ticket. 

Now, let’s take a rundown on the best ways (which, by the way, he told me) to save money on flights or Airfare.

5 Tips to Save Money on Airline Tickets

Let’s get started!

#1 – Compare the flights before booking

The very thing he told me to keep in mind is that, If you are a frequent flier, then you might be using some flight searching engines for searching the flights that provide the best services at a minimum cost. 

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But, if you are a newbie, then firstly you must make the flight comparison based on their cost and services offered. Use the best flight search engine, and you may use incognito mode on Google Chrome to research the flights. 

He also told me that the airlines would show the highest ticket price if you search as a one-person. So don’t search for multiple ticket price in a single purchase. Continue doing research and figure the best price for your air travel. 

#2 – Booking tickets in advance, but not too early

Another tactic he asked me to pursue to save money while traveling by air is booking the tickets early. But, he also asked me to pursue this tactic if only I have fixed plans because ticket cancellation can cost double the actual amount. 

So, he recommended me to book air tickets 45 to 90 days before the departure. And so do I recommend it to you. 

Booking air tickets 45 to 90 days before the departure is the perfect timing because reserving too early or too late can lock one to pay high prices for the air ticket. Say, if you are planning to travel with AA, then one can book their American airlines tickets by visiting Faremart some days in advance as it offers excellent services, 24*7 support, 450+ airlines at affordable prices.   

Moreover, if you don’t have any specific dates or urgent plans, then try to book off-season or shoulder season flights like in May, June, October or November because, in these days, flights get cheaper as well as the weather will be milder. 

#3 – Keep an eye on last-minute deals

One of another vital point he asked me to keep in check to find the cheap flight is, staying updated because cheap flights are available for 24 hours. If you miss the chance, then you would not be able to fly at a low cost. 

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It usually happens when people cancel their plans at the last minute, or flight gets unfilled. Under such a situation, airlines reduce their business class ticket price at the last hour, and sometimes they also offer free ticketing services or update frequent flier bonus, best deals for couples traveling together, etc. 

Now, you might be thinking, how to get the updates or last-minute changes? You can download flight tracking applications in your mobile phone to get the updates like updated deals, flight departure date, flight arrival time, etc. The pop-up messages displayed on your mobile phones will help you to get the information and grab the best opportunity to save on air tickets.  

#4 – Prefer online booking and use credit card points

He asked me if I book my tickets online using a credit card, to which I answered yes!

He then told me that if I book my airline tickets via credit cards or debit cards, then I might have an opportunity to save some bucks as credit and debit card users often get discounts on various deals. 

The cheapest flight one can book is flying without paying a single penny. The easiest way to do this is to sign up for an airline reward card and earn the points to travel for free. You can easily make up to 60,000 bonus points and save your cash on booking air tickets. 

Since I got to know about this trick, whenever I plan to travel, I always prefer using the card on every purchase due to security purposes and to avail additional offers that one gets on making an online transaction. 

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Once, I planned a holiday trip with my family to New Zealand, I had 750 points in my card and travelled comfortably without paying a single rupee. Thus, I recommend you to save up miles by using your card points and plan your holiday trip every year without thinking about traveling expenditure cost. 

#5 – Don’t fly direct; consider flying slightly farther away

He asked me if I travel for the sake of enjoyment and then said that If you don’t have any urgent plans, then you can definitely save some money from your entire travel budget. 

Whenever you plan to travel on flights with flexible timings and date, then consider flying out of an airport which is slightly farther away from your actual destination. Whenever I come back to my home, I prefer flying out of a different airport than my hometown as it costs me less. 

If you travel by taking indirect flight, then be sure you have three hours between booking air tickets on different airlines to handle the situation, if something goes wrong. Thus, this tactic will also help you in saving some amount while booking airline tickets.

In a Crux

Booking the best airlines in less amount is really a challenging task. But if you do proper research and implement the above-discussed strategies, then you can quickly achieve the goals and can save money on things like flights, food, hotels, travel, etc. 

Therefore, if you want to be the person who saves the most on a flight, then follow the above tips to get a deal. To know more about saving money on airline fee, one can read the best ways to avoid airline fees.

Don’t thank me, thank the man who taught me these fantastic tips.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Buying a coach: The guide

No matter whether you offer day trips or provide your services to some of the biggest tour operators, your choice of coach can make or break you.

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Tour companies and such like have a massive selection of coaches at their disposal. From various brands, to different specifications, to a whole host of optional features… the list is endless! Thus, narrowing down your search for the perfect coach can be a difficult challenge. This is especially the case when you consider the weight of your decision. No matter whether you offer day trips or provide your services to some of the biggest tour operators, your choice of coach can make or break you.

The aim of every business is to make a profit. This begins with your coach selection.
Photo from Pexels.com

This post is here to help you on your quest to finding the right coach for you. So, read on to discover all of the attributes you must consider…

Image – Evidently, you want a coach that looks impressive. It needs to catch the eye. Nonetheless, it is not merely about picking a ‘beautiful’ coach. It has to fit in with your brand image. If you offer luxury travel, you need to find a coach with that five-star edge and a keen attention to detail. This relates to the exterior and the interior. A lot of people tend to overlook the importance or the former. Yet this is the first thing people will notice when they approach your coach and therefore it is definitely significant.

Driver Ease and Visibility – Don’t ignore the needs of the driver. It can be very easy to do so, as we get rapped up in ensuring the passengers have the perfect travel experience. Yet, you need to give your driver all the tools to guarantee their driving experience is as easy as possible. Make sure the driving position is ergonomic and spacious. Access to controls should be easy as well. You may wish to consider other optional features that will assist, such as a reversing camera. Don’t overlook how pivotal this factor is. After all, if the driver struggles to manage the coach, the passengers are going to feel unsafe.

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Profitability – The aim of every business is to make a profit. This begins with your coach selection. Of course you will want to benefit from a great deal when you purchase the coach. However, the true value lies in how much money the coach can make you. You should look for a brand of coach that takes great steps to maximize gas oil fuel economy. Other features you should be looking out for include the likes of optimum weight distribution and aerodynamics. 

Comfort – Comfort is undoubtedly one of the most important factors you need to bear in mind when purchasing any coach. The longer the trips are, the more important comfort becomes. Quality of seats is paramount. Most companies will give you the chance to upgrade upholstery and such like. This is something you should seriously consider. Comfort also relates to on-board entertainment options and anything that is going to make the passengers’ experience more enjoyable. From reading lights and to air conditioning, to Apple iPod connections, TV monitors and catering options… there are lots of ways you can maximize your coach’s comfort factor.

Performance – Last but not least, this post would not be complete without mentioning the coach’s performance. Obviously engine specifications and such like are of paramount importance. You need a coach that is going to consistently provide you with a high level of quality. Reliability is a key component you should always be looking out for. How can you be sure of this? Well, you begin by looking for a brand with a good reputation in the industry. This will ensure you of reliability. Then to maximize performance you need to look for coaches that have been constructed using advanced materials and production components. Moreover, rigorous engineering testing and extensive customization and automation in the manufacturing process will be beneficial.

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Health & Wellness

Little link found on popper use and dependency; no correlation with mental health or psychological stress

A survey of more than 800 men aged 18 to 35 found little evidence of typical dependency characteristics, including health, social, legal and financial problems, and no correlation between popper use and mental health or psychological stress.

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Young gay and bisexual men are frequent users of alkyl nitrites, or poppers, but few show signs of addiction, risky consumption habits or other psychosocial problems. This is according to ‘Harmless? A hierarchical analysis of poppers use among young gay and bisexual men’, by Dr Daniel Demant and Dr Oscar Oviedo-Trespalacios, and published in Drug and Alcohol Review.

A survey of more than 800 men aged 18 to 35 found little evidence of typical dependency characteristics, including health, social, legal and financial problems, and no correlation between popper use and mental health or psychological stress.

The study is particularly noteworthy considering some efforts to control popper use and distribution – e.g. in Australia. Dr. Daniel Demant, public health researcher at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), who conducted the study, said that the decision by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to step back from prohibiting poppers is commendable. The TGA, instead, elected to classify them as a Schedule 3 drug, available over the counter in pharmacies from February 2020.

An interim decision by the TGA in 2018 recommended poppers be classed as a prohibited substance, in the same category as methamphetamine and heroin, which would have made “overnight criminals” of the estimated 100,000 plus Australian users.

“What we see with this research is that poppers are a very commonly used drug in the LGBT community, both recently and over their lifetime,” Demant said. “Most of the users are already oppressed or marginalized based on their social identity as gay or bisexual men. This creates a question as to whether there would have been a discriminatory element in banning a substance with such a low risk profile.”

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Demant added that banning a substance that is used by so many people would create a “new class of criminals, basically overnight.”

Currently, poppers are available on prescription from pharmacies, but they are more commonly bought illicitly, in sex-on-premises venues and LGBT bars. A vial containing 25-30mL of the clear, strong-smelling fluid, possibly labelled as “VHS tape cleaner”, “leather cleaner” or “room deodorizer”, sells for up to $50 (or equivalent in countries like the Philippines), despite costing a couple of cents to manufacture.

The new TGA decision to regulate poppers rather than banning them hopefully paves the way for some measure of quality control as well as the removal of the “extreme profit margin” that exists now, Demant said.

Demant said that with poppers becoming a pharmacy-only medicine, safety standards would have to be met and pharmacy staff could provide guidance in cases where poppers might react badly with users’ other medications, particularly Viagra.

“We could stop pretending that poppers are sold for anything other than getting people high. And once we do offer it in pharmacies, we would have something made to the highest standards for people to use,” Demant ended.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

5 Ways to channel your creativity online

The internet is a great place for many reasons. If you’re heading out to the store, you can see what time it is open until, and exactly what they stock in there. You can read the latest breaking news from all over the world. You can find romantic partners, and even friends, within those flexible walls of the internet. All in all, it’s a pretty great tool for doing just about anything.

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The internet is a great place for many reasons. If you’re heading out to the store, you can see what time it is open until, and exactly what they stock in there. You can read the latest breaking news from all over the world. You can find romantic partners, and even friends, within those flexible walls of the internet. All in all, it’s a pretty great tool for doing just about anything.

In fact, one of the best things about the internet is that it allows you to channel and express your creativity, in a number of different ways. But how can you use it for this purpose? Here are five ideas.

#1: Instagram influencin’

We’re in the age of the Instagram influencer, and whilst it may be a little overwhelming at times, Instagram is a great platform to promote your creativity. Whether it’s your camera skills (hello, great selfies), or you’re using it to showcase your art to people, it is undeniably a useful way to get a following for your art, and to find people who also share in your passions and interests, too.

#2: YouTube

YouTube has been around since the beginning of time it seems, and it’s one of those things that just won’t budge. Whilst it’s great for catching up on those funny videos of people falling over in shopping centers, it’s also a really good place for expressing your creativity, through music, art, politics, or whatever it is that you’re interested in. See what you could create, and get YouTubing.

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#3: Digital portfolios

If you’re already a committed artist, you need to build up a portfolio. No portfolio usually means no people seeing your stuff, which usually means no money. Such is the life of a struggling artist, huh? Getting your own website – which you can, of course, personalize – is a useful way of getting all of your work together, and showcasing it to the world. And it looks super professional, nobody is arguing with that.

#4: Music making

Never has it been easier to record your own track, and get it out there into the world. You don’t need to be in with people at the top of the music industry food chain to be successful nowadays, you just need a Mac and your best burst of creativity. Check out some ways to get your Mac in order before you begin using it as a recording studio, and upload your music to Spotify or Soundcloud.

#5: Etsy, Etsy, Etsy

There are plenty of platforms online to sell your art on, and Etsy is one of them. This is a great site because there is probably (most definitely) somebody hanging around on Etsy who has the same interests as you, and wants to pay you real, actual money for your work. See what sites would be the best for the kind of things that you want to sell, and start earning some $$$ for your brain-children.

Enjoy channeling your creativity online, and maybe even making a successful business out of it.

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Health & Wellness

LGBT people more likely to develop dementia, according to study

More than 14% of sexual and gender minorities (SGM) reported subjective cognitive decline, significantly higher (p<0.0001) than the 10% rate among cisgender heterosexual participants.

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Photo by Julie Johnson from Unsplash.com

More than 14% of sexual and gender minorities (SGM) reported subjective cognitive decline, significantly higher (p<0.0001) than the 10% rate among cisgender heterosexual participants. Even after adjusting for factors such as income, age and race, SGM participants were 29% more likely to report subjective cognitive decline (SCD).

This is according to a study presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2019 in Los Angeles in the US. The study noted that to date, few studies have investigated the symptoms and disease progression of Alzheimer’s and other dementias in the LGBT community. And so to examine these associations, Jason Flatt, PhD, MPH, assistant professor at the Institute for Health & Aging at the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues analyzed data from the 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a large phone-based survey led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study analyzed data from 44,403 adults aged 45 and older across nine states in the US (Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin) that participated in the 2015 BRFSS optional modules on the Healthy Brain Initiative, which included subjective cognitive decline and Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. Roughly three percent of participants (1,253) identified as a sexual or gender minority (SGM). Subjective cognitive decline was defined as self-reported confusion or memory problems that have been getting worse over the past year.

The study – as noted – found higher rates of subjective cognitive decline among LGBT people compared to their cisgender heterosexual counterparts.

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“Given that one in seven adults who identified as a sexual or gender minority reported subjective cognitive decline, it is critical that more opportunities exist for people in these communities to receive regular evaluation for cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease,” Flatt said. “There is also a need for greater education on Alzheimer’s risk, signs and symptoms, and training of health care providers to ensure inclusive and welcoming care for LGBTQ+ populations.”

Flatt added that “while we do not yet know for certain why sexual or gender minority individuals had higher subjective cognitive decline, we believe it may be due to higher rates of depression, inability to work, high stress, and a lack of regular access to healthcare.”

According to Flatt, less than half of SGM adults with SCD in the study talked to their health care provider about it. SGM adults with SCD were also more likely to report that they had to give up day-to-day activities (39% vs. 29%, p=0.003) and needed help with household tasks (44% vs. 35%, p=0.01) than cisgender heterosexual participants. Both groups were similar in terms of talking to their health care provider about their SCD.

LGBT people living with dementia and their caregivers often have difficulty accessing information and support services, which can be especially challenging when memory loss and dementia enter the equation.
Photo by Cristian Newman from Unsplash.com

To advance research into Alzheimer’s in the LGBT community, Karen Fredriksen-Goldsen, PhD, professor and director of Healthy Generations Hartford Center of Excellence at the University of Washington, created the “Aging with Pride: Innovations in Dementia Empowerment and Action (IDEA)” study. A multisite study in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles, this is the first federally-funded study on dementia intervention specifically designed for LGBT older adults with dementia and their caregivers.

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The researchers had previously identified unique risk factors of LGBT older adults living with dementia through the first longitudinal study of this population (Aging with Pride: National Health, Aging, and Sexuality/Gender Study). Using longitudinal data with three time points (2014, 2015 and 2016), modifiable factors predicting physical functioning and quality of life (QOL) among LGBT older adults with dementia (n=646) were identified.

LGBT older adults living with dementia were significantly more likely to live alone (nearly 60%), not be partnered or married (65%), not have children (72%), and not have a caregiver (59%), when compared to older non-LGBT adults living with dementia. Previous experiences of discrimination and victimization (b=-0.19, p<.001) were negatively associated with QOL among LGBT older adults living with dementia. Socializing with friends or family (b=1.11, p<.05) was positively associated with QOL, and physical activity (b = 0.26, p<.001) were associated with better physical functioning.

Also as reported at AAIC 2019, “Aging with Pride: IDEA” includes a tailored approach in which trained coaches identify and modify challenging behaviors that are adversely affecting older adults living with dementia and their caregivers, either of whom are LGBT. The coaches delivered an individualized program of exercise, and behavioral and coping strategies designed to improve physical function, independence and QOL.

The exercise intervention is a low-impact physical exercise program including nine one-hour sessions over six weeks designed to improve physical functioning and maintain independence. The behavior and coping strategies include: techniques for working with LGBT-specific trauma, identity management and disclosure of their LGBT identities to providers and others, plus support engagement in the LGBT community and dementia services. Testing of the intervention is now underway and will be delivered to 225 pairs of LGBT older adults living with dementia and their caregivers.

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“Given their lifetime experiences of victimization, discrimination and bias, many LGBT older adults forgo seeking needed medical care,” said Fredriksen-Goldsen. “LGBT people living with dementia and their caregivers often have difficulty accessing information and support services, which can be especially challenging when memory loss and dementia enter the equation.”

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

New Aquaman confirmed to be LGBTQIA in ‘Young Justice: Outsiders’

Move over Arthur Curry; the Aquaman of the moment is Kaldur, the animated character Aquaman in “Young Justice: Outsiders”, DC Universe’s animated show about teenage superheroes, who was revealed to be LGBTQIA.

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Move over Arthur Curry; the Aquaman of the moment is Kaldur, the animated character Aquaman in “Young Justice: Outsiders”, DC Universe’s animated show about teenage superheroes, who was revealed to be LGBTQIA.

In season 3, episode 20 of Young Justice, titled “Quiet Conversations”, a montage of loved ones reuniting at the episode’s end showed Kaldur approached by Wyynde – a former member of the Atlantean Purist movement, who sought to remove Arthur Curry from the throne of Atlantis in Young Justice season 1. The scene – albeit short – showed the two young men holding hands and then kissing.

Though it wasn’t stated if Kaldur self-identifies as gay or bisexual, he was portrayed to belong to the LGBTQIA community all the same.

As a background: Kaldur is one of the six teenage sidekicks who originally formed the Justice League’s covert operations group. He was given a chance to become Arthur Curry’s protege after saving the first Aquaman’s life during a battle with Ocean Master. The character was once portrayed to have feelings for Tula, a student at the Conservatory of Sorcery in Atlantis, though this ended when he learned that she had become involved with his best friend while Kaldur was on the surface leading The Team.

Kaldur, however, is not the first LGBTQIA Aquaman. In the Aquaman comic books, the second Aqualad was outed shortly after his introduction in 2010; but the character vanished into oblivion during the New 52 reboot in 2011.

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Now here’s to representation that you can still save the world no matter who you date/sleep with.

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