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JJReyes last won the day on May 22 2019

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About JJReyes

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    Traveling Somewhere in America
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    Photography. My wife and I love to travel and we intend to do so during our retirement years as independent seniors.

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  1. Coffee is traditionally grown at a minimum 1,000 foot elevation on sloping terrain to assure good drainage. To be called Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee in Jamaica, the trees must grow at a minimum/maximum elevation. (I forgot the government requirements.) 90% of the beans are exported to Japan. Each bean is handpicked for perfection. The remainder are culls, which is roasted and grounded for export, usually sold through mail order or online. Philippine coffee is grown in places like Batangas and Benguet. I visited farms in Cagayan de Oro totaling more than 20,000 trees. All the beans are destined for export to Japan, Korea, China, etc. Tanay, Rizal where our family farm is located has become a coffee growing area. The production are sold as gourmet coffee at Metro Manila high end stores. My Father had a few coffee trees, but it was all for family consumption and gift giving to friends. Someone once gifted me a 2 ounce jar of Civet processed coffee. The packaging claims it's from Mindanao. The beans were almond color. He later asked me about the taste. I responded, "It tastes like sh*t." Actually, it was pretty good although rather mild.
  2. Kirkland brand ground coffee is very good and their price is even better. Sometimes there is inconsistency with both aroma and taste because Costco relies on several sources for blending the coffee beans, roasting and grinding. The taste is very close to Yuban. I believe that's their main supplier. The coffee is sold under Costco's private label - Kirkland, so it's difficult to pinpoint who is the actual manufacturer(s). If you find barako too strong, try a 50/50 blend with Yuban, Folgers or Kirkland coffee.
  3. Nestle has a contract growers program. They supply the saplings and provide technical assistance. Nestle then buys all the beans the farmer produces. It sounds great except once you are dependent on this arrangement, Nestle starts reducing the purchase price for raw beans. A significant number of farmers are switching from barako to the hybrid variety offered by Nestle. Currently in Leon, Spain after spending nearly 3 months traveling through Spain and Portugal at a leisurely pace(minimum of one week at each location). We return to California tomorrow from Madrid followed by a trip to Singapore starting December 1st. Princess cruise line is offering a 21 days cruise through 6 Asian countries (Philippines is not included) and the prices are very reasonable. Reason is you are on board for Christmas and the return is nearly New Year so the appeal is much less. Thus the lower prices. We decided to take this particular cruise because the ship will change course so passengers can view a total eclipse. Planning to rejoin the forum next year on a regular basis. My wife and I might also schedule a trip to the Philippines next year.
  4. Thanks Dave, but I will change my status to a lurker for the time being. Been spending too much time on the forum. Need to resolve other issues like my wife now wants to do the El Camino de Santiago de Compostela (Walk of St. James) in Spain. The minimum is 100 kilometers with a backpack in the heat. It's not my idea of fun. (Apologies since it is not about the Philippines.)
  5. Agree. I have been with this forum nearly 8 years. Maybe it Is time to withdraw for awhile.
  6. Absolutely nothing. It's commentary in reaction to the earlier posting under this topic that included a video showing two guys speaking in Tagalog. Their conversation mentions learning the language during a mission, possibly in reference to a religious mission. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are required to serve as missionaries. Part of the preparation includes learning a foreign language. I recall years ago someone used the word "hijacking" when a topic takes a different path. The moderator may be able to provide a better explanation. We can also rationalize it by completing the phrase, "You know you have been in the Philippines too long....when you hear foreigners speaking in Tagalog."
  7. I'm just catching up on this thread. Honestly this seems low, especially on the upper side. p1,857,000 is about USD 35,000. The upper class in our area certainly seem to make a lot more than that, and the hoards of Manila tourists flooding in here seem to have more. p2 mil won't even buy you a Fortuner anymore, let alone a Landcruiser or Lexus. The Triathletes riding $5-10k bikes seem to have a lot. Hotels here in this 3rd world country (in our area) go for p4000 minimum, and at an average 60% occupancy. I was just looking at local room rates. Best Western is p8000 a night! Where is this money coming from? The amounts are reported income for tax purposes. It does not reflect what a person actually makes and spends. Likewise, the figures are the income brackets used by marketing and advertising agencies to target consumers towards certain products. Automotive commercials are directed to upper middle class and upper class families whose annual declared income might be less than the cash purchase price for an automobile. A few years ago, a very aggressive Philippine Commissioner for Internal Revenue targeted private practice medical doctors. She decided to also look at the expenditure side to determine tax liability. Her examiners found some clinics reported total income that were less than the rent. The estimated under reporting was staggering. The medical associations then went to the president and threatened a boycott. The BIR had to back down. However, a few practices have changed. In the past, you paid hospital bills separate from doctors' bills. This practice permitted patients to negotiate a discount with their doctors (or for claims by doctors of giving discounts). Now, the doctors fees are paid through the hospital before discharge. The BIR has a record of how much the doctors are getting.
  8. It is usually the nouveau rich who are the pretenders of being super rich. They wear brand name clothes, carry expensive bags and have gaudy jewelry. The really ultra wealthy are careful about showing off for many reasons including fear of kidnapping. You already made it, so why is there a need to show off? I admire people like Warren Buffet whose fortune is in the tens of billions. He buys breakfast at McDonald costing him no more than $4.00 a day and drinks cherry coke (Berkshire Hathaway owns a large chunk of Coca Cola stocks) . Buffet lives in the same house purchased more than 50 years ago and drives a large, comfortable car. I believe it is a Cadillac, not a Rolls Royce.
  9. The Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) and consolidators for premium economy and business class tickets are not flexible about their prices. It is about 50% of the arline's published price. The claim of 70% or 75% discount is not true. Here's my new strategy although it's too early to tell if it works all the time. There are 3 major airline code sharing groups namely: Star Alliance, One World and Sky Team. I started with an Air France membership (Sky Team), but joined British Airways (Star Alliance) about a week ago. Don't ask me to explain how code sharing works, however, we ended up with $1,254 one way business class from Los Angeles to Madrid. This is direct, non-stop flight on Iberia Airlines. The main benefit are seats that convert to flat beds for a 14 hours flight. Great for someone with a bad back. Our return is premium economy on American Airlines from Madrid to New York and then economy class from New York to Los Angeles. Price is $564 each. The US domestic carriers charge about $75 extra for economy seat upgrades that give you more legroom. Out of curiosity, we selected economy seats in the higher category. There were no additional fees possibly because it was a connecting flight by premium economy passengers. My back thanks American Airlines. The new membership is British Airways while the flights are with Iberia and American Airlines. I think the lower price is because this airline group won't be paying commissions to OTAs. I am happy and plan to continue with direct booking.
  10. There are some 50 Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) offering the public hotel booking services. It turns out nearly all of them are owned by just two companies -- Priceline Group and Expedia. Priceline Group has an $88 billion market capitalization and they spend $3.5 billion a year in advertising. Expedia is $22 billion market capitalization and their advertising budget is $4.3 billion. Expedia is owned by Microsoft. The big hotel chains like Marriott and Hilton are increasingly concerned. For example, the customer databases, including email addresses, are owned by the OTAs, not the hotel. Commissions paid are in the 20% to 30% range. So the large hotel chains are fighting back aggressively by advertising their own booking websites. They give direct booking customers either upgrades or discounts under the guise of a membership program while saving 20% to 30% in commissions. For our trip last year to Manila, I made reservations through the Dusit Thani Hotel website. The price was less than $100 a night including taxes plus two buffet breakfast. Food & beverages at their bars and restaurants was less 30% (but eating out was still cheaper). For travel through Europe, we now use Premier Hotels for the UK and Ibis (Accor) for the Continent after joining their programs. We also use AirBnb. Sometimes the online descriptions are accurate, however there have been disappointments. During one trip, the apartment owner failed to mention his 3rd floor unit was above a karaoke bar that remained open until 2:00 am. The small and moderate size hotels will eventually join the trend. At the present time, many offer prices that are higher on their website than the OTAs which makes no sense. So, the bottom line, join a hotel chain membership program even if you plan to use it only one time.
  11. My wife and I requested a tour of the Brigham Young University campus in Utah. By chance, the girl who took us around spoke excellent Tagalog. She had known ahead of time her missionary work, as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Saints, would be in the Philippines. So she studied hard learning the language. The only mishap was they sent her to Cebu, but they quickly corrected it and she was reassigned to Luzon.
  12. He must love his boat. The video was filmed from two different angles. Two cameras? Makes me wonder if the incident was a set-up for one of those funny home video shows. My instinct would be to drop the camera and help.
  13. Racism might be a reason, but not in all cases. When I announced to the family that I was marrying an American, my father's concern was my not returning home because my wife would want us to remain in the United States. It may shock some forum members, but not all Filipinos dream about getting a US permanent resident visa.
  14. Another refugee group who came to the Philippines were soldiers from the Spanish Republican Army fleeing General Francisco Franco's Nationalists. The Spanish Civil War was very brutal. The estimate Is 100,000 Republicans were executed by Franco and another 35,000 died in concentration camps. The Philippine group was small. Most of the Republicans fled to the Spanish speaking countries who would take them. Those in the Philippines were dispersed and told to keep quiet. There was fear Franco was sending assassins overseas to kill his enemies.
  15. I recently came to the realization that one of my Spanish ancestors was actually a refugee in the Philippines. She arrived as the wife of a Spanish army officer of sufficient rank that he was permitted to bring his family. Shortly thereafter, the officer was shot and killed by Philippine revolutionaries. Then the Americans came during the Spanish-American War and overthrew the Spanish government. Stuck in the Philippines with no financial support, the widow married a Filipino. In 2017, my sister asked if I wanted to visit the ancestral home in Cordoba. I said, "No." My wife and I just purchased tickets for a two and half months trip to Spain and Portugal. Perhaps we will do it this time.
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