There’s more to online businesses than you think

by  Joyce Anne Alvero and Jossellejane Raizza Alvarez

Fascinated with online shops, Justine Audrey Pasion decided to open her own online business called “Vogue Ensembles.”  Justine is just a simple student who is now enjoying extra income and other perks from her online shop.  According to her, it doesn’t require much hard work.  Justine shared several tips on how to start an online business based from her experience.

Identify supplier and target buyers. Look for a supplier of the products that you want to sell online. Identify as well who are the target buyers of the products.  Remember that your supplier may not have everything that your consumers want.

Set up an online shop. There are many social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram and even Youtube to showcase your products. As for Justine, she prefers Instagram because she finds it much easier to use.

Decide on the transaction process.  Canvass different modes of payment that will best suit you and your clients.  According to Justine, opening a bank account has its advantage because it has no charge fees while the use of remittance centers can help track the actual payment of your customer. “May mga napepeke kasing resibo,” Justine shared.  How the products will be delivered to your clients should also be considered.

These steps are no different from what Mae Anne Alejandrino did when she started her own online shop.  Mae Anne got bored from just surfing the web, checking updates on social networking sites and watching videos on youtube every weekends. With the need to have extra allowance, she decided to open an online shop, the “Mhirhy Cosplay Shop.”

Cosplay is Mae Anne’s hobby.  She used to buy stuff for her costumes online. “Since hilig ko rin ang cosplay at anime, naisipan ko na gawin itong business. Nung nagba-browse ako sa isang cosplay online shop, nakita ko na pwede pala akong magbenta din ng mga cosplay items. Dun na nagsimula yung Mhirhy Cosplay Shop.

Mae Anne shared that it is very important to find your interests in order to be happy doing what you love while earning money. Opening a business and doing it like a chore will just make you want to quit easily. Also, being honest and accommodating at all times helps in gaining costumers’ trust. A lot of patience is also a requirement.

Mae Anne uses Facebook for her online shop. She suggested LBC Express and JRS Express for shipping items to buyers.  For receiving payments, she gave the following options: Smart Padala; Gcash; BPI bank deposit; BDO bank deposit; LBC Pera Padala; Cebuana Lhuillier; M. Lhuillier; and Western Union.

From what Justine and Mae Anne shared, it seems that an online shop is just another easy way to earn money.  But there is more to this when you do your own online business.

Online shops fall under the category of e-commerce industry. In this type of industry, transactions such as buying and selling of products or services are done online.   Few examples of these online jobs or businesses include English or language tutorials, language translations, editing services, selling new and used products, medical transcription services, web-development/design services and many more.

Online businesses require less capital.  Renting a place for your store is not a concern. You can start off by simply selling products or services using different social networking sites. However, the downside in doing this type of business is that the buyer’s identity could not be quickly verified. Anybody can easily make online accounts using fake names and identities.

Prof. Jeanette Angeline Madamba from the Department of Agribusiness Management and Entrepreneurship of the College of Economics and Management shared that the use of social networking sites are not necessarily ideal for selling or buying products but it can help boost market reach. Prof. Madamba explained that verifying the online buyer’s profile is difficult.  It would be hard to trace the buyer should there be problems in payment collections.  Thus, one should take precautions to make sure that the buyer is trustworthy.

Prof. Madamba shared that venturing in e-commerce can also contribute to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  The GDP is the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period of time. Per capita, it reflects a country’s standard of living. “E-commerce allows a more expanded market reach which translates to more product demand which in turn increases GDP,” explained Prof. Madamba. “Using the expenditure approach, e-commerce boosts the consumption side of GDP which is the sum of consumption, investment, government spending and net exports. It can also trigger growth in investment, government spending and exports, not just the consumption side,” she added.

Still according to Professor Madamba, another advantage of e-commerce is the flexible hours it offers. Since online businesses do not need a physical space, it is easily accessible to everyone who has access to Internet. Other than shipping schedules or appointments for the services, an online entrepreneur has control over his/her time.

However, just like any other businesses, e-commerce also has its own challenges.  Prof. Madamba shared that the fast pace of changing technology could be one. Adapting to certain changes may be difficult but an online entrepreneur should not stick to the idea that what he/she knows is already enough. Another is that a good online entrepreneur must be daring enough to take risks and follow the trends in technology or better yet, make innovations that will help him/her expand the business. Online security of the payments is also a challenge. Because Internet is a vast world, the security of each transaction cannot be fully assured. Lastly, online businesses are easily replicated and therefore competition may be stiffer.

Do you want to start your own business while you’re still in school? Why not try having your own online shop as well? Get up and be ready to venture out. Welcome to e-commerce!

UPLB, CLSU to hold friendship games

by Gian Carlo D. Camacho

On October 24-26, the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) varsity team will travel up north to the Central Luzon State University (CLSU) in the Science City of Munoz, Nueva Ecija to compete in the 2013 CLSU-UPLB Friendship Games. This sports activity is a dual meet that will involve the members of the varsity teams, faculty, and staff of CLSU and UPLB.

According to UPLB Sports and Recreation Chair Sofronio C. Camacho, the said friendship game is a revival of the dual meet that was last played by the two universities in 1981. He also added that the budget for the UPLB team was already approved by UPLB chancellor, Dr. Rex Victor Cruz, last September 23 to cover costs for transportation, food, and accommodation for the UPLB contingent.

UPLB Sports and Recreation committee finalizes plans for the friendship games with Prof Jay C. Santos (man in blue jacket), the director of the Institute of Sports, Physical Education, and Recreation of CLSU.

About 300 UPLB student athletes and officials are expected to participate in the said friendship games. The sports events include volleyball, basketball, swimming, badminton, table tennis, lawn tennis, futsal, soccer, sepak takraw, athletics, karatedo, taekwondo, baseball, chess, and beach volleyball. The friendship games will also include some sports events for the faculty and staff such as lawn tennis, badminton, basketball, volleyball, slow pitch softball, and bowling. In the whole three-day friendship games, international rules will be followed unless modified and agreed on by technical committees from both teams.

The various events for the faculty and staff will be played on the afternoon of October 24 while the events for the varsity teams will be played whole day of October 25. There will be a President’s Night for the university officials on October 24.

A closer look at children selling sampaguita in Los Baños, Laguna

by Gian Carlo D. Camacho and  Maureen V. Cambay

It is a common sight to see numerous sampaguita vendors in Los Baños, especially near the UPLB gate. Usually, they could be seen in Vega Center, Carabao Park, and some of them may be seen around Freedom Park and outside the Student Union building. With all these vendors around, people could notice one thing. Most of them are children.

Most sampaguita vendors are children since they are more pitiful to look at compared to their parents. Sometimes, parents of these vendors could be seen sitting near them while just watching their kids sell sampaguita.

A 14-year-old sampaguita vendor who lives at the back of the St. Therese chapel sells sampaguita as part of his daily routine ever since he was a young kid. Considering that they are 13 siblings in the family, he sells sampaguita to help his family with the finances. He also wanted to have extra money for his allowance when he goes to school.

Another sampaguita vendor shared that he uses his money to eat whenever he is hungry. Some of their sampaguita vendor friends have the same reason as well –to help their family and to have pocket money when they go to school. Since they go to Lopez Elementary School during day time, they can only be seen in Vega Center during late afternoons and night.

Ms. Hanna Erika Laviña, a social worker from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), revealed that the number of children selling sampaguita in Los Baños is not really increasing. The children selling sampaguita today are almost the same children who sold sampaguita few years back. She shared that the DSWD used to hire someone who roamed around Los Baños (LB) to stop the children from selling sampaguita. However, the children couldn’t be put in their custody because their parents are actually working.  Caught children vendors are just usually brought back to their parents.

The DSWD currently plans to conduct livelihood programs for the parents of these children. However, with the conduct of livelihood programs, the parents must promise that they will never allow their children to sell sampaguita again.

According to aProf. Helga P. Vergara from the Department of Human and Family Development Studies (DHFDS) in UPLB, one reason for the existence of the sampaguita vendors is the need for a source of livelihood. Some of the parents of the sampaguita vendors are just at home taking care of their younger siblings. Because most of these parents have many children, they do not have a choice but to stay at home and take care of them. This situation forced some of their children to sell sampaguita.

Selling sampaguita is popular in LB.  This is another reason why the number of  sampaguita vendors continues to increase every year, according to aProf. Vergara. Though some people get annoyed and do not entertain them, most people are still fond of them. This has resulted in other vendors even from other places to go to Los Baños to also sell their sampaguitas.

Another reason given by aProfessor Vergara is the increasing number of relocation sites near Los Baños. She believes that some sampaguita vendors are not actually from Los Baños. Some may be from the Bayan ni Juan relocation site in Calauan and some may be from other relocation sites from nearby towns.

Whether to buy sampaguita from the children vendors or to just give them money depends on one’s decision. But personally, aProfessor Vergara believes that buying from them or giving them money should not be practiced. Aside from making the children used to the situation, it can also attract other vendors outside Los Baños.

On the other hand, according to aProf. Argee Albor who is also from DHFDS UPLB, the authorities must implement programs that would educate and keep the parents of sampaguita vendors busy and productive in their day to day lives. Examples of programs they must offer are seminars about family planning. He believes that lack of family planning is a big factor that causes such increase in the number of sampaguita vendors. Parents tend to have many children whom they can hardly support with their income. He also suggested livelihood programs for parents. He also added that having a job is a natural contraceptive for parents because it keeps them busy in their everyday lives.

Sampaguita vendors have been present in Los Baños for many years already. Some get annoyed by them, some just ignore them while some talk and entertain them. But should we really buy sampaguitas from these children vendors or just give them money? Will there still be time when no more children will sell sampaguita in Los Baños?

Sumagwan sa agos ng buhay

nina  Christina Mae Bernardo at Charlie Cagampang

Malabo man ang kanyang paningin ay naaaninag ni Lolo Ambo sa mahabang baybayin ng Bayog ang paglubog ng ginintuang araw. Ilang oras na lang ay gagayak na siya upang mangisda. Layunin niyang makahuli ng marami upang may pangkain ang kanyang pamilya kasabay ng pagsikat ng araw kinaumagahan.

Pagdating sa may baybayin ay nagsamang malakas na hangin at alon ang nadatnan ni Lolo Ambo at ng kanyang 12- taong gulang na apo, si Kiko. Ngunit hindi parin sila nagpatinag sa lakas ng hampas ng alon ng gabing iyon. Ang nasambit lamang ni Lolo Ambo ay, “tara apo sagwanin natin ang malakas na alon na ‘yan at kung papalaring makahuli ay may maipapangkain na tayo kinabukasan.”

Sa laot, hawak ni Lolo Ambo ang sagwan. Kasabay ng paandap-andap na apoy sa ilawan ng kanilang bangka ay hindi na niya makita ang mga isdang naglalanguyan sa kulay itim na tubig dahil sa kanyang malabong paningin. Si Kiko na ang kanyang nagsisilbing mata. Kaya kung wala ang kanyang apo upang samahan siya ay hindi rin makapangingisda si Lolo Ambo sa malawak na tubig-tabang ng Laguna de Bay.

Pakikipagsapalaran sa lawa

Pangunahing pangkabuhayan ng mga residente sa Brgy. Bayog ang pangingisda dahil sa kalapitan nito sa lawa. Maraming mangingisda ang pumapalaot doon sa araw-araw.

Ayon kay Benjamin Moldez o Mang Ben, kasalukuyang pangulo ng Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (FARMC), tinatayang nasa humigit kumulang 200 na mangingisda ang lehitimo at malayang nakapanghuhuli sa lawang iyon. At halos lahat ng mga mangingisdang ‘yon ay ipinapangbenta ang kanilang huli upang kumita’ o kung hindi ‘man ay inihahain sa kani-kanilang hapag-kainan.’

Tulad ni Lolo Ambo, isa siya sa mga mangingisdang araw-araw na nakikipagsapalaran sa lawang iyon. “Halos lahat ng kita ko ay ibinibigay ko sa aking mga apo upang kanilang ipang baon,” ang nasaad ni Lolo Ambo habang itunutulak niya ang kanyang bangka papalaot sa lawa. Kanya ring ipinagpapasalamat na dahil sa pangingisda ay napag-aaral niya ang kanyang apat na apo. Siya na ang nagsilbing ama dahil napiit sa kulungan ang ama ng mga ito. Talagang hindi maikakaila ang dedikasyon at pagpupursigi ni Lolo Ambo sa pangingisda basta ba’y mapagtapos niya ang mga ito sa kanilang pag-aaral.

Ngayong buwan ng Oktubre masasabing sapat lang ang kinikita ni Lolo Ambo sa pangingisda. Sapat lang sa gastusin sa bahay at pang-baon ng kanyang mga apo. Katulad halos sa ibang mga mangigisda ng Bayog, ang huli ni Lolo Ambo ay pumapatak sa 3-4 kilos kada-araw. At  madalas, tilapia ang nahuhuli ng mga mangingisda dito. At ayon kay Mang Ben, ang kadalasang kita ng mga mangigisda rito ay humigit kumulang 200-300 na piso kada-araw. Ngunit mababa na ito kumpara noong 1990s na umaabot ang huli ng mga mangigisda ng lima hanggang sampung kilo at noong 1980s naman ay 30-40 kilos.

Patunay nito ang kwento  ni Lolo Ambo tungkol sa mga panahong wala silang huli. At dahil dito’y nakaranas sila na hindi kumain ng hapunan. “Lolo, kumain na po ba kayo? Papalaot na tayo maya-maya.” ang saad ni Kiko galing sa maghapong paglalaro. Tanging pagtango na lamang ang kanyang nagawa na may halong nadamang kalungkutan. Maging ang kanyang mga apo ay hindi na rin inisip kumain. Kundi ay inabala na lamang nila ang kanilang mga sarili sa paglalaro upang makalimutan ang kumakalam nilang mga sikmura.

Maraming dahilan kung bakit nakararanas ng ganito ang mga mangingisda sa panahon ngayon. Mula sa dating mayaman at masaganang lawa ay mabilis ang pagkaubos ng mga isda nito. Malaki talaga ang epekto nito sa produksyun ng isda sa pamilihang bayan at lalung-lalo na sa mga mangingisda na ito na lamang ang inaasahan upang mabuhay.

Isang malaking pagbabago

Na-ikwento nga ni Mang Ben ang dating ganda ng lawa ng Laguna. “Ang kalidad ng tubig noon ay sadyang napakalinis,” kanyang naidagdag. Kaya’t laking pagtataka na lamang niya na maraming problemang kinahaharap ngayon ang lawa. Isa na nga rito ang papaonting huli ng mga mangingisda. Minsan pa nga’y umaabot sa isang kilo na lang ang nahuhuli ng iba. “Marahil sa kompetisyon ng mga mangingisda kaya’t nakakaranas sila ng mababang huli,” ani ni Mang Ben.

Ayon din kay Mang Ben, ang pagdagsa ng maraming pabrika sa karatig lugar ang isa sa pangunahing nagbigay ng perwisyo sa mga mangingisda sa Bayog. “Dati’y sagana ang lawang ito sa mga seaweeds ngunit dahil sa mga kemikal at dumi na sinasalo ng lawa ay naglaho ito bigla,” kanyang paliwanag. Ang seaweeds ang nagsisilbilbing palaitlugan ng mga isda.  Sa madaling salita, kung walang seaweeds, wala ring buhay na maisasalba sa mga isda ng lawa.

Ngunit ang nakapagpapabagabag sa kanya ay ang mga dumi na galing sa kabahayan. Nabanggit ni Mang Ben ang mga dumi na nanggagaling sa mga alagang hayop. Bilang presidente ng FARMC, minsan na niyang sinabihan ang mga residente patungkol sa masamang dulot ng dumi sa lawa. Ngunit hindi parin niya nakontrol ang mga ito dahilan na rin sa kanilang kapabayaan. “Marahil nakakalimutan na nilang ingatan ang lawa at nauuwi nalang ito sa kapabayaan.”

Sasagwan ka pa ba?

Iginiit ni Mang Ben na hindi parin sila nawawalan ng pag-asa na maibabalik pa sa dating ganda ang Laguna de Bay. Ngunit hindi na katulad ng dati na kahit saan ka man sumagwan ay may mahuhuli at mahuhuli ka. Hindi rin tulad ng dati na maaring inumin ang malinis na tubig ng lawa.

Bilang solusyon sa pagkaunti ng mga nahuhuling isda, ang organisasyong FARMC na kinabibilangan ni Lolo Ambo at iba pang lehitimong mangingisda ay nagbuo ng isang estratehiyang magpapataas sa produksyon ng isda na tinatawag na “aquaculture.” Ang nasabing estratehiya ay tinatawag ding “Blue Revolution.” Ilan sa mga popular at tradisyunal na inaalagaan sa “aquaculture” ay tilapia, bangus, hito, guso, lapu-lapu, alimango at iba pa.

Ayon kay Mang Ben, ang konseptong ito ay binubuo ng kulungang-lambat o “floating cage” kung saan nakalagi sa kalmadong tubig at protektadong lugar ang mga lambat upang makaiwas sa malakas na hangin at alon. “Sa pamamagitan ng pagku-culture ng mga isda tulad na nga ng tilapia ay napapadami ang mga ito upang may mapagkunan ng hanapbuhay ang mga taga Barangay Bayog,” dagdag pa niya.


Pasikat na ang araw nang dumaong ang bangka na sinasakyan ni Lolo Ambo at ang kanyang apo na si Kiko sa tabi ng baybayin. May dala-dalang tatlong kilong tilapia si Lolo Ambo. Halos hindi maipaliwanag ang nararamdaman niya ngayon. Sa wakas makakain na sila. Ang ilang oras na pinagpaguran nila ay nagbunga. “Kakaunti man pero sapat na ‘to para sa pamilya ko at ito ay galing pa sa biyaya ng Panginoon.”

Ayon pa rin kay Mang Ben, simple lang naman ang nais nilang maisakatuparan at iyon ay ang araw na kung saan ang agos ng lawa ng Laguna ay sasabayan ng masagana at maraming huling isda. “Kung inyong mapapansin maraming mangingisda hindi lang sa barangay na ito kundi pati na rin sa ibang lugar ang nakikipagsapalaran at bumababad sa init ng araw upang makabingwit man lang. Maraming mangingisda ang umaasa na ang lawa ang magsisilbing kasagutan sa kumakalam nilang sikmura,” paliwanag ni Mang Ben.

Para naman kay Lolo Ambo, na simula’t sapol pa ay pangingisda na ang hanapbuhay na nagmula pa sa kaniyang mga magulang, hindi siya matitinag kahit ilang alon pa ang humampas sa kaniyang bangka. Sasagwanin at sasagwanin ko pa rin ito,” aniya.

Ang pagsagwan ba ni Lolo Ambo ay katulad din kaya ng pagsagwan ng ibang mangingisda? Marahil iisa ang kanilang tinatahak na direksyon at iisa ang kanilang layunin- ang makahuli at makakain. Ika nga, mahirap sumagwan na salungat sa alon. Ngunit para kay Lolo Ambo, “sa agos ng buhay, aking natutunang sumagwan ng paayon, at manalig sa Panginoon na may darating na biyaya para sa amin.”

Filing of COC for barangay officials ends

by Paulyn Stephanie Bacani

The filing of certificates of candidacy (COC) for the barangay election 2013 officially ended on October 17 with approximately 470 registered candidates for the 14 districts of Los Baños.  Most of the candidates are re-electionists.

According to Randy Banzuela, COMELEC Election Officer of Los Baños, this year’s filing of COC went smoothly.  Police officers were present during the duration of COC filing to ensure peace and safety in the Municipal Office. Rendell Villanueva, Administrative Staff of the Municipal Office’s Action Center, added that there were crowds of people and supporters of the candidates, particularly on the first day.

The campaign period began on October 18.  As candidates who have filed their COCs are bound by the rules of COMELEC, Banzuela encouraged everyone to report candidates who conducted premature campaigning.   Those who will be proven to have violated the rules will be disqualified from this year’s elections.

Banzuela added that there would be changes in the process of voting. Instead of putting only the names of candidates per barangay, COMELEC Los Baños initiated the inclusion of pictures in the secrecy folders. He explained that COMELEC Los Baños came up with this idea because most of the voters only know the candidates by face and not by their names. Banzuela added, “Kami lang ang gagawa ‘non.”

The Barangay elections will be held on October 28, Monday.

Brgy. Mayondon holds barangay-wide clean-up drive

by Aira Kissa Edduba and  Arron Lucius B. Herbon

Residents of Brgy. Mayondon, Los Baños, Laguna, together with other volunteers, participated in the barangay-wide clean-up drive from 6am up to 9am on October 13.

Members of the Eldridge Army Reserve Corps, and volunteers sweep the canal and its surroundings during the clean-up drive in Brgy. Mayondon.

According to Barangay Secretary Rizalina Sapin, the clean-up drive was part of the Barangay Assembly Day every March and October which is mandated by the Department of Interior and Local Government.  The activity encourages the residents to clean their surroundings in support of the “Tapat Mo, Linis Mo” program of the government.

“Napapanahon (itong clean-up) kasi nakikita mo naman, napakamadumi nitong kabuuang barangay,’” explained Sapin.  She also added that the clean-up drive is part of the barangay’s preventive measure against dengue and chikungunya.

Barangay Councilor Emil Lontoc said that barangay officials are already doing regular clean-up drives even before.

“Yung aming paglilinis, pangkaraniwan na naming ginagawa yan.  Noong mga nakaraang araw, tuwing Saturday, naglilinis talaga kami dito, yung mga taga-Sanggunian (barangay) lamang,” shared Lontoc.

Greg Flores, a resident of Mayondon, sees the clean-up drive as also beneficial in initiating unity among volunteers for the cleanliness of the barangay.

“Sa paglilinis at pagkakaisa, gumaganda (ang barangay),” Flores said.

Residents, and volunteers from different local organizations also join the clean up drive.

On the other hand, Sgt. Angelo Dumo of the Eldridge Reserve Army Corps explained that their participation in clean-up drives focuses on cleanliness awareness and disaster prevention.

The Sangguniang Barangay of Mayodon facilitated the activity, in cooperation with 1-GANAP Partylist, Philippine Guardians Brotherhood, Inc. (PGBI), Patrol Assistance Rescue and Community Services (PARACS) Los Baños Chapter, Eldridge Reserve Army Corps, Philippine National Police (PNP) Los Baños, and Community Health Team-Los Baños.