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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Letting go of the ‘sirena’ in me (or: Discovering the whale sharks of Oslob, Cebu)…

Swimming with sea creatures like the butanding can be… magical. But protection of nature’s wonders needs to be constantly communicated to us (hammered, even, into our consciousness); in this case, while bringing out the ‘sirena’ in us. Because if not, then our supposedly “win-win” approach to eco-tourism is in dire need of being reconsidered.

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There are two sites in the Philippines that are popularly known to provide people (i.e. tourists) the chance to “interact” with the famed gentle giants of the seas, the whale sharks (i.e. “butanding”) – Donsol, Sorsogon and Oslob, Cebu. And based on personal experience in visits to both sites, there are pros and cons worth considering. These pros and cons, not incidentally, are largely driven by profiteering from a natural wonder…

In Donsol – as we’ve written in the past – profiteering can be seen in treachery (for the lack of a better word). That is, the butanding only visit the small fishing village a few months in a year; but even off-peak, the locals (who have become the tourist guides) will still claim that they can “look” for the giants of the sea with you. This means paying them X amount of money (for the “professional” fees, rent of the bangka, rent of equipment, et cetera) as you basically waste your time looking for what’s not there. If you’re really, really eager to look for the butanding, they ask for more money so you can search again the next days – again, even if they already know that the butanding has long gone.

Whale-less wandering at Donsol, Sorsogon

In Oslob, profiteering can be seen in the “conversion” of the butanding. This place can be likened to an aquarium (or even a “natural” zoo); and the butanding, mere “pets” on leash. Yes, you will see the butanding here for sure, since they hardly ever leave the place. The locals have “tamed” them by incessantly feeding them; this “easy” life sort of forced them to just stay here.

It is, therefore, hard to support – or even promote – this form of eco-tourism.

This is, I suppose, the “tricky” part.

We recognize various facets of the promotion of Oslob as an eco-destination to interact with the butanding.

There’s the providing of employment to the locals (who would otherwise kill the fish for their meat, a source of livelihood for many in the past). Nowadays, it is not uncommon to hear these fishermen-turned-tourist guides as staunch caretakers of the seas’ bounties (butanding included); and hearing them claim that protecting the seas IS a way of protecting the fishermen and their families is (admittedly) heartening…

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There’s the issue of the “taming” of the butanding, with animal rights activists right in claiming that this approach is basically ruining natural order. The butanding are wild animals; and with this “arrangement”, they are now turned into “pets” that seem to solely exist for the benefit of those who want to earn from them (and yes, those who pay to see them).

Alas, no, Oslob shows how we have yet to find a “common ground” (if it can be called that). That is, we have yet to really find comprehensive solutions to the issues besetting the fishermen and their families (helmed by their lack of consistent sources of earnings) so that they continue “taming” the butanding (in the guise of giving people the chance to learn more about the need to protect these giants).

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A discussion is, indeed, needed for the “solutions” regarding this to be comprehensive.

In the meantime, for those in Cebu City who are keen to encounter the butanding, here are some must-know points:

  • To go to Oslob, head to South Terminal in Cebu City. There, there are buses heading to Oslob (even as early as 1:00AM), taking from three to four hours (depending on the traffic conditions). Airconditioned bus fare is P165. Note that the “feeding” of the butanding (more on that in a bit) only happens from 6:00AM to 12:30PM, so the earlier you go there, the better it will be for you. We left Cebu City at 2:30AM, and when we arrived in Oslob just after 6:00AM, there were already lots of tourists.
  • Tell the konduktor (in the Philippines, the person who gives the tickets and collects the fare) that you are getting off at BCD’s Resort, which is right beside the registration area for the butanding watching.
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  • When you get off the bus, there is a registration area (the two resorts there can also help here). You go inside and then pay the fees – i.e. P500 for locals (Filipinos) who want to swim with the butanding/P300 for those who will only watch from the bangka and P1,000 for foreigners who want to swim with the whale sharks (the fee includes the bangka ride, flippers and the goggles). You can pay an additional P550 for the bangkero to take your pics while you swim with the whale sharks (the files can be saved into your Android phone, and saved in a CD). If you want to be able to enjoy the experience of swimming with the whale sharks, don’t be stingy and just pay the P550 for the cameraman – they’ve been doing this so long they know how to take good shots, while you basically do nothing but be the sirena you are…
  • You will then be taken to the take-off area, where some educating happens (e.g. that every swim lasts only for 30 minutes, that you to keep your distance from the butanding, not to use chemical-laden sunblock, no splashing in the waters, not to panic when the shark seems to head your way, and so on). As a side note, you can get scratchies while in the waters; so if you’re allergic to bites of se creatures, bring anti-histamine with you…
  • You will then be given your vests, hauled into a bangka, and then the bangkero-cum-photographer paddles only a few meters from the shore. Here, all the bangka loaded with tourists line up. Another bangka passes by all the tourists, with this one’s bangkero incessantly feeding a butanding. It is when this butanding passes by your own bangka that the “interaction” happens, making it – basically – a displaying of an animal on a leash (the “leash” here the food it is given). It’s worth noting that if you want to have beauteous underwater shots, then not using the vests and even the goggles may be worth considering. A friend I was with used both, and now he only has mostly headless shots (since the cameraman was underwater) and pics of someone who could be anyone (people all look the same when wearing the mask) to show off…
  • After 30 minutes, you are told that the interaction is done, told to return to your bangka, and then head back to the shore. THE. SWIM. WITH. THE. BUTANDING. IS. DONE.
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Swimming with sea creatures like the butanding can be… magical. It can give you various insights – e.g. how “small” we all are, even inconsequential in the scheme of things; how beautiful nature can be, perhaps especially if left untouched; and how we continue to be in dire need of education re nature and how we can use it without necessarily destroying it.

But protection of nature’s wonders needs to be constantly communicated to us (hammered, even, into our consciousness); in this case, while bringing out the ‘sirena’ in us. Because if not, then our supposedly “win-win” approach to eco-tourism is in dire need of being reconsidered…

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The founder of Outrage Magazine, Michael David dela Cruz Tan is a graduate of Bachelor of Arts (Communication Studies) of the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia. Though he grew up in Mindanao (particularly Kidapawan and Cotabato City in Maguindanao), even attending Roman Catholic schools there, he "really, really came out in Sydney," he says, so that "I sort of know what it's like to be gay in a developing and a developed world". Mick can: photograph, do artworks with mixed media, write (DUH!), shoot flicks, community organize, facilitate, lecture, research (with pioneering studies under his belt)... this one's a multi-tasker, who is even conversant in Filipino Sign Language (FSL). Among others, Mick received the Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA) in 2006 for Best Investigative Journalism. Cross his path is the dare (read: It won't be boring).

Health & Wellness

Gender identity conversion efforts associated with adverse mental health outcomes

Reported exposure to conversion efforts before the age of 10 also was associated with greater lifetime odds of suicide attempts.

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Gender identity conversion efforts to try to change a person’s gender identity to match their sex assigned at birth were associated with increased likelihood of adverse mental health outcomes, including suicide attempts.

This is according to a study helmed by Jack L. Turban, M.D., M.H.S., of the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

The study, tiled “Association Between Recalled Exposure to Gender Identity Conversion Efforts and Psychological Distress and Suicide Attempts Among Transgender Adults”, and which appeared in JAMA Psychiatry, involved nearly 28,000 transgender adults from across the US. This observational study is based on the results of a survey distributed through community outreach to transgender adults in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, some territories and overseas U.S. military bases.

Of 27,715 transgender adults who responded, 19,741 (71.3%) reported having spoken to a secular or religious professional about their gender identity and of these 3,869 (19.6%) reported exposure to gender identity conversion efforts.

That exposure was associated with severe psychological distress during the previous month and prior suicide attempts during their lifetime compared with transgender adults who reported talking about their gender identity with a professional but weren’t exposed to conversion efforts.

Reported exposure to conversion efforts before the age of 10 also was associated with greater lifetime odds of suicide attempts.

Limitations of the study include its inability to determine causation; it didn’t capture conversion efforts by others such as family members; and it’s possible that some adults with worse mental health might have sought conversion therapy.

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The study findings support that gender identity conversion efforts should be avoided in children and adults. Professional organizations, including the American Psychiatric Association, have called conversion therapy for gender identity unethical and ineffective, and some countries have already outlawed the practice.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Running safety tips that are rarely spoken of

When looking online to consider the mainline (and yet completely coherent) running safety advice, it’s all the same. Find the right shoes, keep your form up, listen to your body, breathe well, stay hydrated, look around your environment. All of this is important. Yet the following running advice is rarely given to keep people safe.

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Running is a beautiful sport of course, but it’s much deeper than that. Humans once survived by endurance hunting, that is running so far and long that animals simply became exhausted trying to get away, leading us to secure dinner for that evening.

It is your right to run where you can, on pavements, through public woods, and on public footpaths.
Photo from Pixabay; used by CC0 License

Running is in our DNA, our bloodstream, and our bodies are remarkably well adapted for it. Running is completely free, and one of the most popular methods of cardiovascular exercise. Running is a representation of life, hard at first, but quickly adapting to grow as something in your control, and you get out of it exactly what you put into it.

However, running safety is never something you should ignore, no matter how natural the activity is. Yet when looking online to consider the mainline (and yet completely coherent) running safety advice, it’s all the same. Find the right shoes, keep your form up, listen to your body, breathe well, stay hydrated, look around your environment. All of this is important. Yet the following running advice is rarely given to keep people safe. We hope to break that trend now.

Keep Valuables Hidden

It’s not uncommon for many to listen to music while they are running, or to keep other worthwhile equipment on them. If wearing top of the line running gear, excellent running shoes and perhaps even nice running shades, you can often stand out as someone with a little wealth. This can lead someone with bad intentions to take note of you, and if you are tired at the last leg of your run, you might find yourself less equip to run off or fend them off.

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This is why keeping your smartphone hidden through zipped pockets, ensuring that wireless headphones are only used in relatively public areas or that you keep an eye on your environment as much as you can will make the most difference. 

Understand Your Rights

It is your right to run where you can, on pavements, through public woods, and on public footpaths. However, it can sometimes be that when construction work is taking place, or other unclear diversions between the road and the pavement are causing you confusion, that you are impeded or even hurt by motor vehicles or those who haven’t a runner’s best interests in mind.

This is where understanding where to find the legal representation you need and deserve can make the most difference over time. Understanding your rights to this end might just help you seek the compensation you deserve.

Consider Your Eating Habits

Running fasted or running with a light breakfast is often the preferential option for many morning runners, but it is essential that they build up to these habits and keep them consistent rather than letting them fade every weekend, or jumping into a hard fast immediately. When you find what’s right for your body and give yourself enough time to digest food, you are in the best possible position. But you certainly need to be careful.

With this advice, we hope your running habit can become even safer than it is now.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

How to ensure you reach your potential at the gym

Getting into the best possible shape isn’t just a case of turning up, getting a sweat on, and going home.

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Photo by Daniel Apodaca from Unsplash.com

Your entire reason for heading to a gym is to get into much better shape than before. Each week you want to be better than the last. You may not manage to hit that particular level of consistent growth, but you’ll try anyway. Your goal is to become the best version of yourself when you enter that gymnasium, and you’ll try all kinds of things to tick that big box. 

Getting into the best possible shape isn’t just a case of turning up, getting a sweat on, and going home, though. It helps a lot, but it’s not the be-all and end-all, unfortunately. There are a multitude of other factors that go into it. They’re not difficult or complicated, so you’ll be able to wrap your head around them pretty quickly.

Here are four things you should probably do if you want to become the person you’re always picturing in your head.

Form Over Everything!

If you’re lifting weights or doing a particular movement, then you need to get it spot on. It can be very easy in this judgmental society to opt for what looks the best, but you’ll want to avoid what’s perceived as good and do what actually is good. By this, we mean you should focus less on doing heavy weights in order to impress people. Lower that sucker and do it properly. You’ll want your overall fitness and performance to be a lot better than the five-second glance someone sees of you. If you lower the weight and do it slower, then you’ll get WAY better results. Fact. 

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Hit Each Muscle Group 

Back day is boring for some. Legs are skipped all the time. Triceps? Some people won’t do much of that. If that’s your attitude, then you need to leave that way of thinking at the door and conjure up a better work ethic. In order to become more adept overall and be in better shape, you need to focus on your entire body. You’ll become better at the lifts you DO likes if you build up the other ‘boring’ areas. 

Once you get into the groove, you might start to become somewhat addicted to training.
Photo by Danielle Cerullo from Unsplash.com

Eat The Good Stuff!

If you want to put on weight and muscle; you’ve got to have a good calorie surplus. Just eat more than you already are – and make sure the foods are super good for you. Are you trying to shift a few pounds? Well, you need a calorie deficit. Don’t starve yourself. Just eat a LITTLE less. You can still enjoy the foods you already eat; just don’t completely devour them. Stopping when you’re full is a good start – a lot of people tend not to do this. A lot! 

Don’t Train If You Don’t Have To!

Once you get into the groove, you might start to become somewhat addicted to training. You may not have a physical addiction, but if you don’t go, then your mind might start playing tricks on you. You might start to feel down because you missed out. You might even make yourself feel a little guilty. 

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Don’t worry about not training. You SHOULD have days off in order to recover. You should especially stay away if you’re feeling a little too sore or ill. A few aches and pains in the back should be enough of a warning sign not to do any deadlifts or squats. Don’t overdo it: you may drive yourself crazy.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

4 Ways to counteract overthinking and catastrophizing

If you overthink heavily for, say, an entire year, that’s a lot of time thrown away as you would have accumulated a lot of time in your own head instead of doing productive things. There are things we can do in order to cut down on the overthinking, though.

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Ah, yes, overthinking! One of the worst things a human being can do to his or herself. You’ve definitely done it before, so you know exactly what is and how it can absolutely destroy you. There are people out there that spend the whole day doing it. Crazy, right? It’s so easy for a person to fall into this trap. It becomes almost like an addiction. They begin thinking about something, but they then need to dig a little deeper in order to convince themselves that it’s okay – it never works out, though, as the thoughts become even worse and more negative.

Do something. Do anything. This is probably the best piece of advice you can possibly receive.
Photo by Nathan Dumlao from Unsplash.com

If you overthink heavily for, say, an entire year, that’s a lot of time thrown away as you would have accumulated a lot of time in your own head instead of doing productive things. There are things we can do in order to cut down on the overthinking, though. It can be beaten. It will always be with us because our brains are amazing and are constantly picking up patterns and memories, but we can lower its intensity in this regard.

Here are a few ways of doing so:

Recognize That It’s Never, Ever, Ever As Bad As What You Think

The first idea we’ll talk about is through the act of doing a little more thinking! It’s a little counterintuitive, but it’ll help. You need to realize that what you’re picturing in your head is absolutely not going to happen. Something along those lines may occur, but your catastrophic thoughts are not going to come to fruition – at all. You’re creating a storm in a teacup for absolutely no reason. Get out of that little imaginary instance!

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Don’t Stare At Social Media As Much (Or At All!) 

Social media has done a lot of good in terms of bringing people together, teaching people, and making businesses more prosperous. It has its drawbacks, though, and those drawbacks are pretty heavy. When you get a little too deep into the world of social media, you can find yourself caring too much about the littlest thing that’s on there. You might start developing relationships that don’t actually exist. You might view someone else’s fictional life as something that you want – no matter how realistic it actually is (which, a lot of the time, it’s not). Social media has a great way of making you feel worthless if you go down that rabbit hole too deeply.  

Try A Little CBD And Similar Products  

CBD Oil has become very, very popular over the past couple of years due to its ability to help with the likes of anxiety and depression. It doesn’t fix a person straight away, but it can soothe their minds. It works with a lot of people, so even if it’s a placebo, it might be worth considering! It contains traces of the cannabis plant, so it’s still quite a taboo oil at this stage, but it’s not like heading to a marijuana store and getting some sweetleaf concentrates every few days. The psychoactive and addictive elements are removed, leaving the traits that are best for mental recovery and relaxation.                                               

Don’t Idle

Do something. Do anything. This is probably the best piece of advice you can possibly receive. When your mind is on something, you don’t have the mental capacity to worry about stuff like you were before. You’re too busy focusing on the task at hand. Obviously, you’re only putting the worrisome thoughts to the side for a bit, so they won’t vanish forever, but if you can get into the habit of placing them aside, then that’s a great first step.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Easy ways to improve your small business efficiency

By automating any monotonous tasks, you can then save your team time and you can also give them the chance to be far more productive with the tasks that have been assigned to them.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder from Unsplash.com

The best way for you to make more money for your small business would be for you to focus on efficiency while also making sure that every one of your processes are streamlined.

Take a look below to find out more.

Automate what you Can

It doesn’t matter whether you automate your payment process or whether you invest in an automatic route software for your fleet because you need to make sure that you focus on efficiency as much as possible. By automating any monotonous tasks, you can then save your team time and you can also give them the chance to be far more productive with the tasks that have been assigned to them.

Encourage your Team to Talk Face to Face

Sure, sending a quick email to a co-worker may seem like an efficient way of communicating but sometimes it can hinder your efficiency. All the back and forth can easily take up way more time and you may even find that there are mix-ups too. This can really make it difficult for you to get something done, and the best way for you to avoid this would be for you to try and encourage face-to-face communication as much as possible. This will keep everything moving forward and it will also encourage your employees to work better with one another too.

Limit Interruptions

If your team are having a hard time completing tasks efficiently then this could be because they are having constant interruptions. One way for you to help yourself here would be for you to try and schedule all of your meetings for the same day rather than having them throughout the week. This will help your team to get everything they need clarified on the first day so that they can spend the rest of the working week getting everything done. If you want to take things to that next level then try and limit pop-ups, email alerts and notifications from your project management software.

All the back and forth can easily take up way more time and you may even find that there are mix-ups too. This can really make it difficult for you to get something done, and the best way for you to avoid this would be for you to try and encourage face-to-face communication as much as possible.
IMAGE SOURCE: Pexels (CC0 License)

Vehicle Management

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If you have a fleet of vehicles, it may be worth hiring a fleet management company. When you do, you can then spend more time focusing on the core aspects of your business. Little things like this can make a huge difference and you would be surprised at what an impact it can have on your team morale too.

Task Management

Task management software really is worth having and it can also help your team to stay focused throughout various projects. Another benefit of having it is that it will show you what needs to be done and when, so you can easily tell your team the tasks for the day. Some types of software even show you what your other team members are working on too, and this can really work wonders for your level of communication. If you want to take things to that next level, then consider creating a custom software. This will help you to really stay on top of everything and it will also make it way easier for you to manage your company.


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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Marketing your small business as effectively as possible

If you want to make a serious profit, you’re going to have to make your products obvious to the market and encourage people to buy them.

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Running a small business is an extremely complex task. You’re going to have to find and create a product or service that stands out from the crowd and can sell. You’re going to have to run market research to ensure that it’s something your target audience is interested in and will buy. You’ll have to manufacture physical products, run tests and ensure they’re safe or you’ll have to train in your craft if you’re selling a service to make sure you’re the top of your game. But once you have what you’re going to sell, your journey isn’t over.

The marketplace is increasingly saturated and you’re going to have to fight to stand out from the crowd. Sure, you might get a few organic sales where people come across your products or services of their own accord. But if you want to make a serious profit, you’re going to have to make your products obvious to the market and encourage people to buy them.

This process is known as “marketing” and you’re going to have to spend a whole lot of time and effort on it. There are various forms of marketing out there, varying from online marketing to physical marketing. For now, let’s focus on physical marketing.

The custom pop up banners infographic 2019 edition below will show you everything you need to know about pop up banners in particular.

Infographic Design By custom pop up banners infographic 2019 edition

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