Some ways you can have internet privacy

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Image taken from mohamed_hassan at pixabay.com


While we’re busy talking about carbon footprint and how to save the planet, there’s also one thing more subtle that we should also take into account — our digital footprint.

We are tracked online on a daily basis. From our mouse clicks down to the websites we visit and the things we share, our data are used everyday as market insights by many different companies. If you notice how Facebook would usually advertise to you certain things that you literally were just searching on a few hours ago, this is because your digital movements are being tracked.

Considering these, I wondered if there is still some semblance of privacy in the internet. We could use the incognito mode in Google Chrome, for instance, but ultimately we’re still being tracked online. What could be some alternatives?

Presenting: Privacy-focused internet browsing. Here are a few platforms that I’ve been using that promote internet privacy, among other things. Try checking them out if you want to keep your digital footprint minimal as much as possible.

Brave: A privacy-focused browser

As a user, access to your web activity and data is sold to the highest bidder. Internet giants grow rich, while publishers go out of business. And the entire system is rife with ad fraud.

Taken from http://www.brave.com.

For me, Brave is the best alternative out there for Google Chrome. Aside from promising a privacy-focused browsing experience, Brave also has a number of features, the main one of which is blocking ads and trackers from getting your personal data. On the home page, you can see the total number of ads and trackers you blocked — I actually treat this as a trophy sometimes. So far, my Brave Browser was able to block a whooping 440,000 ads! Sorry guys, you can’t sell me things I’m not really interested with.

Another important feature of Brave is the rewards feature. Here, you will earn Brave Attention Tokens for viewing privacy-respecting ads. These are ads that were carefully prepared by Brave such that they are not intrusive and actually look like they’re a regular part of the web page.

If you’re looking for an alternative browser, Brave is the way to go.

DuckDuckGo: The search engine that doesn’t track you

I’ve been using DuckDuckGo for over a year now. What I like about this search engine is that unlike Google’s search engine, DuckDuckGo provides you internet search results that you more likely need. When you search through Google, you’d usually be bombarded with a series of ads on the top results that you wouldn’t normally need. In DuckDuckGo, however, the searches are more refined based on the actual keywords that you placed in the search bar. Meaning, the search results you’re going to get are filtered from ads and aren’t a marketing strategy to draw you in.

As of February 2019, DuckDuckGo’s monthly searches have already reached one billion. You can learn more about them here.

Tor: Browse privately and explore freely

Another alternative to Google Chrome is the Tor browser. Tor blocks trackers and ads, defends you against surveillance, resists being digitally fingerprinted, provides multi-layered encription, and allows you to access websites that your home or country networks may have blocked.

For me, instead of subscribing with a VPN, you can just browse through Tor. It’s completely free.

We believe everyone should be able to explore the internet with privacy. We are the Tor Project, a 501(c)3 US nonprofit. We advance human rights and defend your privacy online through free software and open networks.

From torproject.org

And there you have it. These are the three main internet privacy browsers and search engines that I use. So far, I would say the experience has been exemplary, and I am all the more less distracted from unnecessary ads. While there are the exception of apps like YouTube and LinkedIn with tons of ads and trackers, I think it’s nice to have a right balance by also using privacy-focused apps.

Internet privacy-focused apps are also especially useful for people who are working in or are involved with very sensitive environments or contexts. Some of these apps are being used for such things. So while those people find use in the apps as a security protocol, for us people, not getting tracked by ads and trackers is the way to go.


Let’s take the conversation forward. Find out how we can collaborate for a sustainable future: https://berdeboy.blog/collaborate/

Why you should visit Intramuros

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Walking along a stone road, I found myself in awe for seeing something for the first time that was just a few kilometers away from where I usually am. Spanish colonial architecture, grand churches with distinct baroque features, and kalesas plying the old streets with tourists from different nations. Walking further, I found myself in a charming public space with a fountain at its center. I was in Intramuros, one of the cities that intrigued me the most while I grew up in Metro Manila.

Plaza Roma

My curiosity for Intramuros began when I realized I can work anywhere with my current remote job. Out of all the places one can work, I thought of Intramuros, mainly because of its charm and mystery.

Eventually, I found myself in Barbara’s Cafe — my introduction to what would become a pleasant, personal affair with the walled city of Metro Manila.

Barbara’s Cafe
La Cathedral Cafe
Barbara’s Heritage Restaurant

I went to cafes, ate at restaurants, and visited old sites, both free and those with a fee. One thing I realized is that the Intramuros Administration is doing a ton of work to make Intramuros the way it is now. If you’re thinking of visiting the walled city, now would be the perfect time and here’s why.

Rich in history

This should go without saying, but, nonetheless, there is just so much history in the walled city for one to simply pass it by. When you look at the map of Metro Manila, Intramuros is this one, fascinating segment that just begs one to come and visit it.

Manila Cathderal

If you are thinking of whether the place is overrated or not, I would suggest you instead look into the history. While Intramuros is becoming more and more popular as tourists, both foreign and local, start to flock in, as well as the recent re-opening of the dungeons in Fort Santiago, I would strongly recommend that you still go for the purpose that there will be a lot of things to learn.

Inside Fort Santiago you can find the remains of what used to be a performance theater

One fun fact is that Intramuros was not initially called Intramuros. Before, it was, essentially, Manila. After the war, and when Manila began to expand, was the time it was called ‘Intramuros’ to refer to it as the ‘walled city’ or in Latin, ‘within the walls.’ So you could just imagine Manila back then being this tiny, congested space, guarded by strong, sturdy walls and filled with Spanish colonial architecture.

Baluarte de San Diego

Perfect for dates

If you’re sick of the usual movie, cafe, concert, or mall types of dates, why not go to a historical site?

The perfect time to visit Intramuros with a date is during the night. The walled city shines during the night, and in every corner you’ll discover its hidden charms.

Just be sure both of you are in it for the long run (if ya know what I mean). Just kidding. Moving onward.

So many pleasant surprises

Every time I visit the walled city, there’s always something new to discover. You’ll have to see it to believe it.

It’s not just old sites and historical discoveries. There’s also the diverse handicraft in Silahis Center, the sumptuous wine in Destileria Limtuaco Museum, and the charming canteen-style food in Patio de Conchita.

Patio de Conchita
Silahis Center
Destileria Limtuaco Museum

Simply put, there are so many things to see, learn, rediscover, and re-learn in the walled city. If you feel like you don’t know much about your own roots, then going to the city would probably be the discovery you need. If you need a breather and fresh take on life, then going there would probably make you feel better. Whatever it is, this city is for everyone.

Lastly, the most important thing about Intramuros is that it’s one of the center points of tourism in Metro Manila. We know not that many tourists visit the city because of traffic, but slowly, we can change that, and if improving the walled city is part of that process, then let’s continue supporting that progress.


Let’s take the conversation forward. Find out how we can collaborate for a sustainable future: https://berdeboy.blog/collaborate/

The sustainability dialogue behind the coronavirus

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Photo by huntlh at Pixabay


The Novel Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, has cost a lot of panic and hysteria across the world. From closures of national borders, panic-buying of face masks, down to the revelation that outbreaks can even cause racism — this event has shown a lot of humanity’s sides in just a span of a few weeks.

But out of this outbreak, there are many important, life-and-death-related things that we’re also learning.

The road to a universal flu vaccine

For one, the world is now even more focused on creating a universal flu vaccine. As the 2019-nCoV spread and infected people across the world, scientists have been analyzing the virus and are recently creating breakthroughs.

The road to a universal flu vaccine still seems far off, but we’re on the way there. One of the many organizations working to develop this vaccine is Distributed Bio. As stated in their website, they are creating “a new paradigm in antibody engineering and broad-spectrum vaccine design“.

Once a universal flu vaccine is created, we no longer have to worry much about being sick during flu seasons. Imagine a world with much less instances and deaths from flu viruses. Believe it or not, flu viruses are extremely common and seen everyday. It can be fatal for people with very weak immune systems.

Viruses are constantly evolving into new strains. And we haven’t even discovered all the different types of viruses in the world. This means that we should rather be giving more attention to developing a vaccine. The medical sector should move and develop vaccines as fast as how viruses mutate — but only with the help of world leaders.

Ancient viruses living in ice and permafrost

Humans have been living alongside bacteria and viruses throughout evolution. From the bubonic plague to smallpox, we have probably experienced it all — sadly, the reality is that we still haven’t. We probably haven’t even experienced the worst yet.

Don’t forget that there are many bacteria and viruses currently buried in ice and permafrost. With the current rate of the climate crisis, this could get worse and melt the ice and permafrost. If and when they melt, we will potentially have even more public health emergencies of international concern.

This is exactly why the climate crisis should be of paramount concern, because it practically affects every living fiber and being imaginable in the planet. It should not be taken lightly at all costs.

Mobilizations on national scales

Many countries are now implementing critical measures to contain and avoid the further spread of the coronavirus. They’re working extremely fast to protect their citizens.

Even the World Health Organization has now declared this outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. The declaration took a bit of time because it typically requires a huge amount of money and resources, and may also invoke governments to restrict travel and trade to affected countries. Moreover, the declaration imposes more disease reporting requirements on countries. Simply put, there are a lot of logistical, political, and financial concerns, among others, before you can sufficiently declare an outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.

One of the biggest concerns is that countries with weak public health systems are the most vulnerable to this outbreak. Ill-prepared countries are also a big challenge.

In the Philippines, for instance, we only currently have one facility where the coronavirus can be tested: the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) at Alabang. And the medical instrument to test the coronavirus in RITM was only just recently bought from Japan. Moreover, the government is also only recently beginning to realize that we have our own labs to help validate the presence of the coronavirus. Suffice to say — there are many holes in the Philippine public health system that we have to address in order to prepare for pandemics.

The Philippine government has also been strangely passive amid this outbreak. While Filipinos do understand that any form of public panic can potentially exacerbate the situation, they have also been constantly demanding the government to take a responsible sense of urgency and act accordingly in response to the spread of the disease. As to what would finally trigger a ‘flow state’ or proactive, consistent responses from the government, we don’t know yet.

Individual efforts matter

Because of the coronavirus, people are learning how to use face masks properly, and are even beginning to understand the science behind these. People are also learning to share the proper information and prevention tips to their peers. All these were possible thanks to social media.

But again, not all are acting as proactively. And this is something that we all need to work on.

Individual efforts matter more than ever. In times of outbreaks, public panic is understandable. It does no good to normalize this outbreak and translate it merely to just ‘another flu virus’. While it was slowly revealed that the virus is not as fatal as initially thought, we are still better off sharing helpful information, protecting ourselves, and practicing proper hygiene, among others.

What does this outbreak mean for sustainability?

Sustainability is commonly defined as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs“.

While it’s true that the 2019-nCoV is not as fatal as initially thought, its outbreak reveals a lot in terms of the world’s capability to contain an actually fatal pandemic. If the next potential pandemic, for instance, were to start in China, and knowing that China is known to censor public information, there would be possible complications.

This is why the world will need to prepare as much as it can for the next, global pandemic. As a sustainability imperative, these preparations are necessary to secure and protect future generations. The development of a universal flu vaccine is but one of the preparations underway for such a concern of global proportions.

What we can do as individuals scanning the web is simple: share truthful information and be informed of what we can do to protect ourselves and our peers.


Let’s take the conversation forward. Find out how we can collaborate for a sustainable future: https://berdeboy.blog/collaborate/

What we can learn from modern disease outbreaks

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Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay


Internet culture has evolved so much ever since earlier disease outbreaks. Back then, we relied on news outlets to set the entire mood when SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) first came about. Today, you’ll see constant updates on the news, real-time tallies of infections and casualties, and even memes and a video game about disease outbreaks.

Simply put, it’s come to a point where concerns of an international nature can be viewed through so many lenses, whether they may be informative, critical, progressive, or even entertaining and satirical. In other cases, they can be borderline racist, judgmental, or essentially nonsensical. These are all products of the information age, which is why we’re constantly reminded to be sensitive and conscious of what we put out in the online world.

But if there’s one thing we can learn from modern disease outbreaks, it’s that medical science has become so advanced nowadays that we’re able to proactively pave the path towards vaccines or a cure. Just check out this article and this article.

For medical professions alike, these are highly positive breakthroughs.

But what can we do as regular people sifting through news and information on the web?

It’s always best that we stay informed and equip ourselves with a healthy dose of skepticism. In the Philippines, there have been a number of ‘fake news’ advising people to ‘stay away’ from certain hospitals that allegedly have people infected with the coronavirus. Eventually, these rumors that spread about got debunked and verified as false by the hospitals themselves and the media.

It cannot be stressed enough, but we have to be able to constantly verify our sources and information. Digital literacy is becoming more and more essential today given the amount of information we consume on a daily basis. Asking very simple questions such as “Is this true? Who wrote this? Is the article written properly?” can literally save lives.

For starters, we have to battle it out with false information by sharing information that make sense and are actually helpful in setting up the general mood and conversation. No one is ever 100% certain, but we can at least help one another get closer to the truth, one step at a time.


Let’s take the conversation forward. Find out how we can collaborate for a sustainable future: https://berdeboy.blog/collaborate/

We need more sustainability jobs

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A quick search in Google (or Duck Duck Go or Ecosia, just in case you use these instead) about how to get a job in sustainability would return some helpful results. Since it’s only recently that the world realized how important the planet apparently is, sustainability jobs are also just beginning to come out.

Based on a quick research, I found that it is, basically, very difficult to find a sustainability job even in the developed world. Usually, these are reserved for higher-up positions in corporate social responsibility or executive sustainability teams of a company.

How do we then create sustainability jobs down to the entry and associate levels?

I am by no means an expert — I am just sharing an observation I’ve had while job-hunting for a sustainability job for quite some time now.

For one, I wish there was some form of career advice platform for career paths like this. When I first ventured out to ‘take a sustainability career path’, I never knew I had to experience so many road blocks. I was basically putting on so many hats without having a sort of system or coordinated effort. It was all mumbo jumbo. There was no ‘starting point’ to speak of.

But there’s a light in this dark tunnel.

My realization is that you shouldn’t start with a sustainability career right away. What many people do is they come from a totally different field and shift towards sustainability later on, probably because of realizations that the planet is, indeed, boiling to a crisp. What they learned in that prior field would then become a tool they can use to push the sustainability agenda forward. It’s a win-win.

And now that more and more people are beginning to understand that the health of the planet is at stake, we need to be able to create more sustainability jobs that fuel that passion and drive. Sustainability is no longer a question of ‘mindset’, it’s now a question of ‘how’.


Let’s take the conversation forward. Find out how we can collaborate for a sustainable future: https://berdeboy.blog/collaborate/

The systemic issues that plague us from within

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Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay


As time passes, I realized I’m becoming more and more personal with my approach to Berde Boy. From initially talking about larger-than-life ideas to talking about things like ‘taking baby steps’ — along the way, as cliché as this may sound, I realized I have to start with myself first.

The ideas of self-love, self-esteem, minimalism, personal finance, and all these things that are actually helpful were never taught to us in school and in our personal upbringing. These are things that we just happen to come across, probably through some conversations with friends or colleagues at work.

So for the past months, what I realized is for us to learn these ourselves and find other people who will help us grow. It’s a mutual process.

The learning process differs for many people. For myself, I’m just getting started. I’m at a crossroads in terms of what I should actually be doing. In fact, out of all the confusion and hidden anxiety, I realized I want to travel long-term in the meantime and just enjoy myself. I want to see the world beyond my comfort zones here in Metro Manila.

Let me be the one to tell you also that our mental health is a valid sustainability concern as well. Much like the biggest challenges of the world on climate change, food security, plastic waste, overpopulation, and many, many others — mental health is equally important. What we have to understand is that sustainability is everything. It’s not just about the systemic issues that surround us externally — it’s also about the systemic issues that plague us from within.

Pretty much — that’s all I have for this blog post. Whoever’s reading this at the moment, I’d like to show my gratitude. If it’s your first time reading my blog posts, you can check out my other posts. I write about several things from startups to my humble adventures as a digital nomad.


Let’s take the conversation forward. Find out how we can collaborate for a sustainable future: https://berdeboy.blog/collaborate/

Nama-なま: Of freshness and greens

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I’ve had the pleasure of helping my friend man the booth of his startup — called Nama — at the Lasallian Mission Trade Fair this week at De La Salle University, Philippines. In Japanese, Nama’s literal translation is fresh, natural, and as it is.

Nama’s goal is to produce microgreens such as basil, arugula, and broccoli, among others. These microgreens are used as garnish for various dishes such as appetizers and meals. Apart from being healthy, microgreens also add various flavor profiles to your dish.

Check out their Facebook page to know more.