Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Last Post

Oh boy, look at we, about to end the year again. Where did 2012 go? Truth be told, it was a very complicated year. But I'm not here to talk about that. I just want to wish everyone a Happy 2013. I hope that everybody learned and gained something worth it from the past year, whatever it was, I hope we can  use it to survive, improve and enjoy another year ahead. 

So here's something for y'all! I wanted to upload a music box video of Auld Lang Syne but I don't have one. I spent a good time searching the web for a 30-note plingplong template for my DIY music box, but I can't find one, and I don't know how to make my own arrangement YET. So I settled with the good old recorder to play this new year theme. 

I don't know why I have to explain myself like that, but anyway... HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

The Year in Collecting

If there's one thing you should know about me, it's the fact that I'm a collector (a mild version of a hoarder hehehe). I collect anything that fascinates me -lenticular photos, autographs, commemorative bills/coins, glow in the dark stuff, arcade tokens, foreign currencies, sneakers, candy/chocolate dispenser, stamps, flashlight, business cards (WTH!), tickets . I'm not a big collector though, I can't afford it. The stuff I mentioned, I have very few it may not even qualify to be called a collection. Still, I collect them whenever I could. There are priority collections, they are: Music box, books, and Ellen stuff. Out of the three, books won the number this year, I think I've bought a record number of books, (32) which is not much either, but still, for an average reader like me, I feel that's a lot. Most of the gifts I gave out to my niece and nephews are books too. I'm hoping that I could encourage and promote a culture of reading in my family. But I kinda hate this attitude I have when I keep on buying more even when I still have towering titles yet to read. I pledged over and over that I won't buy another one till I've read the other books I bought earlier, yet I keep on breaking them anyway. I'm an impulsive buyer. I guess it will be part of my new year's resolution to reduce my expenditure.

Books on the queue for 2013 reading hehehe

My music box consumption had also waned, I realized that I can't completely quit the toy collection, I had to compromised a reasonable bargain with myself. So the deal is, I should only order twice a year. One is for Christmas and one for my birthday. But can you imagine, I would scour the internet for music box all year round, and when the time comes, I'll choose the one I like the most, it's like a selection process.

This is what I got for Christmas (I bought it sometime in September as an advance Christmas present). This music box has all the elements I like - a Panda, a Santa, a blonda (blonde kid hehehe). Despite the Christmas design, it plays a non-Christmas song, but one of my favorite music - The Entertainer by Scott Joplin. I love the details of the figure, you can expect nothing less from Enesco. The music box is manufactured by Sankyo, another top name in quality, the sound is crisp and right on.

So yeah, it's not an absolute cessation. I know for sure that I've stopped buying any action figures, gashapon or die casts, but once in a while, I'd break the promise. But I've matured and have become really picky. I think about the future use and worth of what I'm buying. I'd like to think I am more reasonable now. Like when I decided to get a view master. It's an out of date toy, but I believe Mattel is still manufacturing them. We used to have one when we were kids, my dad got it for Oliver, but we take turns in using it. I decided to get one so my niece and nephews can enjoy some old toys that we used to enjoy. I got a 1950's model of the view master made of bakelite. I figured, the older the better, it has more stories and it's a good way to avoid made in China products (I try to avoid them as much as possible due to political reason, nothing against the Chinese people). I have 13 reels so far, 10 are scenes of old American TV shows like Mighty Mouse and Rin Tin Tin, and 3 our scenic spots in Japan. I plan to get more scenic reels next year. I'm hoping to use it to educate my niece and nephew of our beautiful planet.


Another thing I stopped collecting is the the Starbucks sticker for the Starbucks planner, years ago. For 6 years, Starbucks had always been my planner "provider", but collecting it has lost its charm on me. Everybody's going for it, even my sister, the competition just got boring. Besides, I've switched to tea. I still love Starbucks and sometimes I still have their coffee beverages, but I'm not getting their planner anymore. I decided to get something more practical and more appropriate for my usage. I realized how fun it is to look for the perfect planner. I found the perfect planner for me from Yeah Just You journals.

Photobucket  Photobucket   Photobucket

It's small and waaayyy cheaper, designed with a year, monthly and weekly planner, there's a space for budget planning (which I love), the weekly planning space has a weather indicator, there are blank spaces at the back which gives you freedom to doodle, it's colorful and cute I think I'm solved! Until I saw the Free Speech Publication journal, too late! But next year I'd love to have that one. Smartphone and tablets don't work for me, I like writing things down and i love to doodle, I think planners would be a yearly thing for me for the long run.

Speaking of gadgets, I also got me a copy of the last print issue of Newsweek. TIME's biggest rival has gone all digital, I think it's only a matter of "time" before they go the same direction. I'm not really a fan or follower of Newsweek, but I'm such a sucker for commemorative stuff like this (hoarder instinct kicks in). Both magazines, however, were my staple companion in the library when I was in college. So yeah, I may be crazy and all over anime and all those Japanese stuff at the time, but I kinda knew what's going on. In a way, it gave me a sentimental reason to get the issue for my collection.

In a way, I feel like my collecting (or hoarding) habit have toned down this year, I hope to keep it lower next year. I plan to shift my priorities to collective initiatives. I pray that I'll have the discipline to do that.

The Year in Travel

I haven't really been to many places this year, but I did get out enough for me to have something to look back. Of course I've talked about my experience in Bicol earlier this year, but what I haven't talked about yet is my southeast Asian (SEA) trip. Yep, that's right, for the first time in my life, I went out of the country. I'm probably too old to be proud of this, but I am, after all, everything I've done, I did through my own hardship.

So yeah, I went to 3 SEA countries, in one week, sometime in June. It was a whole new experience, same topography, same climate, same physical features but different culture, different food and money, different system. Throughout the trip, I couldn't help comparing these 3 countries to my own. 

At the ground of Petronas towers, Cha sets up the tripod

My friends and I had a day to walk through the streets of Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. I've read before hand that Malaysia is a Singapore-wannabe, and I must say, they are doing a really good job. I see how this country can be so progressive. At first look, it may seem to be a congested area like Manila, but it has a system that makes everything look better. It's not as stressful to walk around, the streets are free of litter, the traffic build ups easily dissipated, and there are only 3 modes of public transportation --the bus, the train and the cab. People follow the traffic rules. Foreigners are very visible, their active tourism campaign is really effective. I love the highways of Malaysia, manicured and wide and stress-free. Another thing I truly envy is the absence of [annoying] tangled cables. The highlights of my stay here were Petronas Twin Towers, KL Tower and Batu Cave.

At the KL Tower observatory deck, wishing I was in Tokyo Tower instead hihi..

The city view from KL Tower

Yep, KL, I'm done

One thing that I definitely did not like is the food. It's not bad really, I don't know what the food we ate were called, but they are mostly curry-based and spicy, maybe because I'm not a fan of spicy food, but I just didn't find anything special with Malaysian food. Crimes? Yes of course there are crimes, not that we encountered them, but on our second day, around 6:00 AM we were about to go out for breakfast but the hotel staff warned us of snatchers, he suggested going out at a time when more people are on the street (8 AM) or at least leaving our purse and tote bags in the hotel.

Batu Cave
Cha and I, inside the Batu Cave

If there's anything I regret, it was the failure to check the National museum and see some Muslim cultural night performances near our hotel. We were out of time and energy to do all the things we planned, we had to prepare for our next flight in the afternoon. I would have really wanted to learn more about the history of Malaysia, I saw a lot of old buildings and the majority of streets are covered with cobblestones, I wish I knew the story behind these landscapes, and of course, I'd like to compare their colonial era with ours too.

For some reason, this scene reminds me of a park in Pandacan Manila


The next stop is Bali, Indonesia. This is really the main destination of this trip. We stayed there for 3 days. We've read about an unfortunate incident that happened to a Filipino traveler at the immigration, being the first time out of the country travelers that we are, we had everything (almost) prepared. We booked 2 travel agencies to facilitate our tours. It proved to be truly helpful and worth it. I learned a lot, so much that I don't even know how to put everything into writing. One thing I can say is that Balinese culture is really interesting.

I wanted to show these pictures and at the same time introduce the music of Gus Teja, his songs are all over Ubud, so I put up this slide show to give you an overview of our stay there.

I love the people of Ubud, I love their simple and peaceful way of life. I've learned to pay so much respect to Balinese Hinduism as a religion. I hope they continue to preserve their culture. I also loved the whole interaction we'd had with our tour guide Nyoman. He's a very good conversationalist, I like how inquisitive he is with our own culture and religion. We learned from him and he learned from us. If you'll ever go to Bali, I highly recommend visiting Ubud.

The last country I've been to, and this one was not even part of the original plan by the way. The stop in Singapore was a combination of spur of the moment and desire to earn another passport stamp. The stay was a blast, literally, because we only stayed for less than 5 hours. This was also my first time to cross a border by land. I find the process more tedious than doing it via plane (I don't like the idea of waiting and looking for the coach we took after the immigration stop). I saw some Malaysian children in school uniform crossing the border too. They seemed to be used to the set up, it seemed like they are studying in Singapore, but still going home in Malaysia. How stressful to do that everyday (this was early morning too). But then, it might be an educational tour. I'm not really sure. Anyway, like I said, we didn't really stayed long enough to really appreciate Singapore. I met up with my sister in law, Che and Cha met up with their brother in law. We checked Merlion park, got disappointed that the iconic merlion statue is under maintenance, settled with a smaller Merlion statue, ate lunch and off we go. Oh we did take pictures.


I feel like an OFW with this shot :)

It's a cliche to say this, but I can't find a better way to describe it, Singapore really feels like Makati city, the business center that is, with better transport and traffic system and more high end malls and shops. Another regret I've had is missing another must-see museum, I wanted to check the Arts and Science museum, the Andy Warhol 15 Minutes Eternal exhibit was on (it was in Singapore until August 2012, next stop is Hongkong, Beijing then Tokyo), but again, we were pressed with time -sigh-

                                                    The white flower-like building on our left is the Arts Science Museum

I'm not saying I didn't enjoy my stay in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, but I'm not impressed as I thought I would be. All the nice things I saw there are expected. I think that if we can only instill the discipline Malaysians and Singaporeans have, we'll definitely beat them in tourism.

I have to admit that I felt really nervous the day we departed for this trip. We were all first timer and all those "Banged Abroad" scenarios played through my mind. But it turned to be really successful and I'm proud to say that I'm now ready to embark on another overseas trip. Let me rephrase that, I am mentally ready, financially, I'm not. And though I've said that I did it all through my own hardship, I was talking about financial aspects. I could have not really done it without my travel companions, of which I'm eternally grateful. Until our next adventure :)

Credits: Most photos used in this post are taken by Che Gurrobat (please check her website for more amazing pictures and travel adventures). Some were taken by Charlyn Gurrobat, Sharlene de Dios-Madarang and yours truly. The music used in the video is Situ Sayong by Gus Teja, it's available in itunes for download.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Year in Politics

I don't want to say that Christmas is over. Here in the Philippines, it lasts until Epiphany (we also earned the reputation of having the longest celebration, which starts on September 1). But Christmas day had passed and during this time of the year, people start to look back on the things that transpired in preparation of the New Year.

Just this time, let's talk politics shall we? It's really not my passion to be political, but I do care about current issues, and I feel it's timely that I post my thoughts about 2 historic bills that passed this year. They deserve a space in my blog, after all, both bills lapsed more than a decade hurdle!

The first one is something that I care deeply is the passage of the Sin Tax Bill. Then just last week, President  Noynoy Aquino finally signed it, now it's officially a law. The new law aims to raise revenue from cigarettes and alcohol products, of course this would mean increase of their prices and hopefully it would discourage people, especially the youth, from consuming them. I feel that it's long overdue, but it's never too late, the law will take effect next year. Personally I'm not affected since I'm not a smoker and I rarely (almost never) drink spirited beverages anyway. But even if I do, I would still go for the passage of the bill to discourage people with lower income from consuming cigarettes and alcohol. Of course this bill comes with a disadvantage, naturally, regulation of sin products like this would mean an increase in smuggling. Even without the law, it's happening, smuggled products make their way here. I guess it's all up to the people at Customs (which happens to be one of the most corrupt department) to uphold a strict implementation on smuggling law. Another thing that some people brought up is the the displacement of tobacco farmers and vendors. I'm not really worried about that, part of the revenue to be raised by the law will go to programs that would provide alternative crops and jobs for the farmers. I've also read that some farmers are unfazed by the passage of the bill because they still have an international market (so shut up Bongbong Marcos!). So this is definitely something to look forward in 2013. I am confident that the objectives of Sin Tax Law will be met, hopefully sooner.

Now the second one, the much more controversial... *sigh* I don't even know how to begin. It's much more complicated and the nation is really divided on the issue. I feel the division personally, I have family and friends who are both for and against the Reproductive Health Bill (RH Bill) now called the Responsible parenthood bill. I am a little divided myself because I see the point of both ends and I feel the advantages and disadvantages and advantages of the bill. But the bottom line is, ultimately I am pro-choice and responsible parenthood, so yeah if I was a member of the congress or the senate, I would vote "YES" for the bill.

First of all, let me just say, I feel bad for those who are against the bill for valid and sensible reasons for they are represented by the likes of Sen. Tito Sotto who would not humble himself by admitting he plagiarized excerpts of a blog post and a speech of a late American president, and Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile who thinks the OFW is our best export that's why he's against RH Bill (which is the most stupid argument I've heard!!). Then there's the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and the priests, collectively known as "the Catholic Church". You see, I'm a little uncomfortable with that. I am not a devout, but I'm a practicing Catholic, I go to church every Sunday and on Holidays of obligation, I pray the Rosary and the 3 o'clock prayer, I join the annual Visita Iglesia of our parish and I consistently include the souls of the faithful departed in my prayers. But I disagree with the bishops and the Vatican on a lot of issues, a LOT of Catholics do and I get hurt when criticisms refer to "the Catholic Church" when bishops voice their political stand point, or when another clergy gets involved in a nauseating scandal like sex abuse. But I do not see myself leaving this faith in the near nor far future. I know for a fact that there are bishops and priest who gives a bad name to the Catholic sect, but then, every religion has that. So when people bash the religion itself, I get hurt.Not all Catholics are against RH Bill, and even those who are against it have fair reasons to oppose it. Like I said, it does comes with advantages, for one thing we are talking about budget here. Unlike the Sin Tax Law, which will generate its own budget, RH Bill will be taken from the existing budget that tax payers are now providing. Budget allotment is always a challenge because of the culture of corruption that the present administration pledge to abolish. I'm also not in favor of allocating budget to give free condoms and pills because I feel these two methods of contraception is affordable and accessible enough for everyone. If the so called mass have the money to buy cigarettes and alcohol, now that these products are about to get unaffordable, then they should be able to afford condoms and pills. I feel very strong about education though.  The bill aims to give people a choice, and true choice would only be realized with proper information. What would couples do with free pills and condoms when they don't know what it's for? Some of the issues of the people against the bill is the rise of promiscuity among the youth, with the integration of sex education and access to contraception. In a way, it does, but then, even without the bill, it's on the rise. It's kinda sad, but it's the reality. Sex is everywhere, in pop music, in movies, sitcoms, soaps, in video games, parlor games (I remember attending a party with naughty games and kids are there). In my (teenage) days, it's very unlikely for a prime time TV show to have a kissing scene, now it's very common to see an afternoon program showing a couple making out. I don't really blame the Censorship, the times are changing. It's best to handle it with versatility than keep on doing things the old way. Right now, I do feel that ignorance plays a big part on the rise of STDs, irresponsible parenthood and even the case of abortion. I think education is the best answer to combat these problems.

It's not about population control but responsible parenthood -- my aunt who's a midwife and works at our municipal health center told a story about a relative of ours who keeps on coming back in the center with a new (malnourished) child, my aunt told her it's time to stop getting pregnant, but she just smirked and replied "masarap eh" (feels good eh). One day, it was her husband who came to the center with one of the sick child and my aunt told her to start using condom. He just laughed. I have a lot of relatives like that. What do you do to these people?

I think the church, not just the Catholic church, but all legible group aiming to preserve our values should think of other ways to keep the people grounded rather than meddle in politics. Like I said earlier, there are many issues that put a bad name to my religion but I chose to stay. Why? Because it is the foundation of all  the values I held dear - my compassion on life, respect to my neighbor, love for my family, love for God.

With the passage of 2 controversial law, I think the country is on the right path. There are lots of monumental events in politics and I'm starting to see small improvements (EDSA is going green, yay). We've got reasons to think that 2013 will be promising.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!!!

I can't believe how the Grinch made a stop on my room on Christmas Eve. I had everything planned, it was going to be a busy and long day. I was gonna buy presents for the people I missed on my list, I was gonna wrap the remaining gifts, I was supposed to help with the chores, clean my room, wax my floor, change my sheets and curtains. I was supposed to end my day with a Christmas film marathon (I prepared my favorite classics). But everything was ruined when I felt a pang of pain hit my lower abdomen. It started with a tolerable twitch then later it progressed into something so intense, I wanted to throw up. I spent the rest of the Christmas Eve rolling all over my bed trying to get the best position that would soothe me. Total bummer...

Nothing to worry though, it's just my monthly period. The first day is always the toughest. I guess I should be thankful it didn't fall on Christmas Day or the 26th (because I'm going back to work). I could have chosen to bypass this episode by drinking a pain reliever, but knowing the side effects of pain relievers, I'd rather have the Grinch win this time. I woke up this early morning with everybody sleeping, the are 13 unread messages on my phone and I stood up carrying a hollow tummy, man I was starving to death. I opened up the fridge and smiled at the sight of overflowing food, and I thought, why it's never too late to enjoy the feast. 

I took a bite of Sapin-sapin (a type of rice cake), and went back to bed. I wanted to save bingeing for later.  It'll be another busy day, this time, no more interruptions from the Grinch. Oh I can't wait to make kids happy again! 

For the meantime, here's something for you my dear readers.

Merry Christmas! May this season fill you with love, joy, peace and good health. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

End of the Whut?!?

As I type this post, it's December 21, 2012, 10:32 AM PHT in my clock, I haven't noticed anything unusual yet. I don't think I will. Of course I do not believe this Mayan calendar predictions. I know the end of time will come, but it will happen when we least expect it. I find it amusing that a lot of people are all over this. I saw a documentary in History channel yesterday about people preparing for the big day, which is today, well they are Americans, so it'll be in a few hours to them. Last night I saw on the news, there are communities somewhere (provinces) here in the Philippines who are also making preparations. They made this large boat obviously mimicking Noah's Arc so I'm assuming they are Catholics or Christians. I wonder if there are atheists who believe in the end of the world though? 

My belief of apocalypse is obviously religion based. The preparation I work on is not physical but spiritual. Every now and then, it will hit me, am I prepared? Sometimes it scares me. It's also one of the constant theme of my dreams. Once in a while, I would dream of the destined day happening right before my eyes. In every dream,  it happened in different weird ways, but it also seemed so real so it always get me really scared. The last I remember was celestial themed. It went something like this:

It was all over the news that a huge asteroid is hitting the earth. My family and I were watching the news (and of course, scared), we didn't know what to do. Nobody did. But everybody's home, the streets were silent. Suddenly I stood up and headed to the windows. I stared at the moon, my eyes widen up when I realized the moon is getting bigger and bigger and bigger. It was  the asteroid heading to my direction. I screamed on top of my lungs "RUNNNNN!!!!!". And I ran, we all did, without looking back. Suddenly I realized that the asteroid was not as huge as I imagined, but definitely larger than life and it was chasing after me alone. I turned my head around to get a glimpse of this huge thing. It turned out to be a white round thing with eyes and a huge mouth widely opened, so ready to eat me. It was a giant Pacman! I was still scared to death by this time, by the way. And I just kept on running and running.

Then I woke up.

I look back on it with amusement, but did I mention, at the time, I was so scared? But the good thing about my end of the world dreams is that I'm always with my family. My mom used to to tell us, a family that prays together stays together. We did pray together. We still do, though not as frequent as before. 

I think that I'm not totally prepared for the end of time, but in a way I am. I believe that all things that I see, hear and touch, everything in this world are all temporary. This life is temporary, but when we all go, our destination is eternal. I don't think I will go to hell. And I'm not saying I'm a saint, I'm not even a do-goody type of person, but I'm definitely not evil. Everyday is a journey to be a better person and a true follower of Jesus. Everyday is a preparation, to the the real end of the world.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Updates, updates...

Wow, I can't believe it'll be Christmas soon, where did 2012 go? December proved to be a hectic month. Too many events and celebrations popping left and right, birthdays, weddings, Christenings, and not to mention Christmas parties. I wish I could make myself available for every happening, but here are the ones I've been to.

December kicked off with my friend's (Chris) birthday and the advance screening of Rurouni Kenshin live action film. My friends and I were lucky enough to get passes for the premier, from what I understand, there was also a cosplay competition prior to the screening,  it was nice to see RK cosplayers again. My friends urged me to put on my Seta costume, but I was not into that kind of stuff anymore, there's just no inspiration to drive me to do it. There were also people from Hero TV. Inside the cinema, a funny thing happened to me and my friends. Before the film started, a man approached us and asked if we could give our seats to Myrtle of Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) Teens and her company. He suggested that we take the Hero seats at the left most part of the theater. I hated that spot, there's no way I'm taking that seat, but it sounded like we SHOULD give way, Myrtle seems to be some kind of a VIP, all I could say was "whut?". Good thing my friend Nagi was quick to respond in a reasonable manner, she said "I don't think so, these seats are not tagged as reserved, maybe Myrtle can take the Hero seats instead", and with that, the man went away. Whew. At the time, I didn't know who this Myrtle kid is, I thought she was a cosplayer with a status like Alodia's. But she turned out to be a local celebrity. I was wondering though, why ask us? It's not like we have the best spot, we're almost near at the far left side of the balcony. Do we look like some kids who'd suck up to a PBB star? Sorry man, I'm not trying to be rude here, but we're just old timers wanting to enjoy a favorite classic anime.

Now the movie part... I must be a shame to the RK fandom, I hate to say this, but I actually slept at the middle of the film! I wish this would not make me less of a fan. I've mentioned that I have very low expectations on the film, and it's not like the film sucks (I watched the film again during the regular showing). Let me explain okay. First of all, let me tell you the stuff I liked - it's visually pleasing, the action scenes are very impressive and very close to the anime, the cinematography, what can I say? WOWZA! I like how The actor who played Sanosuke is so in character, I just wish he's taller. I like how subliminal Chief Uramura's presence is. I have a neutral feeling on the storyline. It's understandable how hard it is to justify many arcs that are condensed into a two hour feature film. The producers mixed up the storyline of Takeda, Jin'eh, Saito, Sano and how Kenshin got into Kamiya dojo, I'd say it's not bad, but again, nothing fresh for me here. I'm actually rooting for a new storyline and new characters. The only new character introduced here was the guy whom I thought to be Hanya all along. But when his mask broke, he turned out to be someone I've never seen or is it just my rusty memory playing with me? But it's definitely not Hanya. I have mixed feelings on Takeru Sato playing Kenshin, I could tell he's a good actor. I love all of his fighting scenes. But Kenshin's character, how he transform from a harmless rurouni to a deadly hitokiri, I'm just not convinced. His oro? Nah, he needs to try harder. I don't like how Kaoru turned to be a cutesy betsy and modest, oh that scene where she stumbled upon a stray cat and cried "whoa neko-chan?", not Kaoru at all. Don't get me wrong, I like Kaoru, but I really felt her character was not justified in the film. Overall, I would still recommend the film to fans and non-fans alike.

Moving on to other stuff, my parents and I went to the Elton John concert last December 8. It was a real treat despite being in an older crowd, come on, it's Elton John. The tickets were quite pricey and we can only afford the general admission rate (P1000). I was worried that I may not enjoy that much, I know that being in the farthest  part of the dome has the least advantage visually and auditory speaking. I don't care much about visuals, I went to listen anyway. But being in the general admission crowd was not hindrance to enjoy Elton John's music. He still has this powerful voice even after 40 years of being active in the music scene. He was in his signature shiny blue coat, it had something written at the back, but given our spot, I couldn't read what it was, even with my binoculars on. The show was opened with The Two Cello, they were Croatian cello players. I've seen them perform on The Ellen Degeneres Show, and they were really great too. I noticed a lot of foreigners in the crowd too. I was not able to track the number of songs Elton performed, there were a lot of lesser known songs which kept the crowd a little silent. But whenever perform his classic hits, we'd all jumped up and join the singing. Some of my favorites were Crocodile Rock, Rocket Man, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Candle in the Wind, Daniel and Nikita.

Elton John performing Nikita, sorry for the poor quality of my phone cam

After the last song, as usual, the audience cried for more. When he went out on the stage again, he signed autographs for the hungry fans before starting the encore. Oh those lucky VIP ticket holders! He first performed "Your Song" which got the couples dancing slow.  When he performed his last song "Circle of Life", I was surprised and amused to see my parents get up for a slow dance too. The lyrics of the song doesn't feel appropriate for a slow dance but Elton John's piano did set the mood. It was a wonder why some of his greatest hits were missing from the play list -Skyline Pigeon, Can You Feel the Love Tonight, Sacrifice, We All Fall in Love Sometimes. Still, it was a perfect evening. I hope he goes back to Manila for another performance, next time though, I hope I'll have more funds for a better spot.

Doesn't look like it, but they were passing it off as a slow dance hehe

The next event I went to is an art exhibit opening. As part of centennial birthday celebration of Philippine National Artist for Visual Arts, Carlos "Botong" Francisco, Ayala Museum presented Botong Francisco: A Nation Imagined, an exhibit of some of unseen works of the muralist. I got an invitation to attend the opening because I signed up for membership for the museum. I've always wanted to check the museum because of its vast collection of prehistoric artifacts, but I always knew that a day is not enough a four-storey worth of exhibit, thus I opted to to get a membership which gives me an unlimited access all year round. I was right anyway, the first two visits I had were not enough to digest everything. I was after the perks too - of getting invited to exhibit openings, it's always better to get ahead of the public, and I'm after the cocktails too hehehe. There was a short film directed by Peque Gallaga to complement the exhibit and provide a cinematic  experience of Botong's works. I love how his paintings come to life, how it gives one a glimpse and even make one share how Botong imagined the Philippine history and culture. I highly recommend art lovers to see this rare exhibit. It runs until March 31, 2013.

These are some of my favorites:



I'm grateful that they allowed to take pictures this time, when I went there for the Sharaku exhibit a few months ago, I had to risk getting kicked out of the museum when I got excited and broke the rules when I saw a Sharaku interpretation using music box knobs and a Takashi Murakami print. The security warned me, and now that I remembered, I thought I should share them here too.


Photobucket  Photobucket   Photobucket  Photobucket

On some personal event, a friend of mine got married last week. Lee and Nelson tied the knot in Taal Vista Hotel in Tagaytay. It's the first time I ever attended a civil wedding, the judge who officiated the ceremony was a female too, and I thought, great another first time, I get to see a woman do it too. She only discussed the responsibilities of husband and wife, and made sure that bride and the groom knows and consents what they were getting into. It was short and concise, it should be a good thing, but I realized the lack of spiritual proceedings somehow reduced the solemnity of the event. My friends will have a church wedding sometime in the future. For now, to many other couples of today's generation, civil wedding is a practical way to get hitched. My most profound congratulations to Lee and Nelson, I wish you nothing but the best of marriage life.


The next event is yet to come, sometime this month, but I thought I should mention it here to give me an excuse to post a photo of my soon to be godson, Chase. Here he is :)


Chase is Sherry and Lester's son, he's now on his 5th month, so he's still cute and kind hehe. He is very precious. His Christening is on December 29, another obligation that I'm happy to take. I hope we become friends too, I'm not good with kids. Man this wedding and Christening talks make me feel so old. I better get back to my Christmas shopping, ugh!

Friday, December 07, 2012

Repost: Mare Orientale Flyover

NASA's GRAIL mission took this flyover video above the Mare Orientale basin of Earth's moon. It was collected by the MoonKAM aboard GRAIL's Ebb spacecraft on April 7 and 8, 2012. 

Movie credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Sally Ride Science

I don't why I'm so mesmerized by the moon. I just am...

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Things on my mind lately...

Roka Salata and Skolatina... Yummm...

Christmas shopping, when will I do it, what am I gonna give to the kids?

When will I ever have the courage to get out of this comfort zone and just quit? :(

Music box... view master scenic reels... ugh the longing!

I need a haircut!



I just realized it's World AIDS Day. Incidentally, I'm wearing red shirt, socks and underpants. Simple coincident like this confirms the universe conspires with me. I don't have anything sensible to say, but I'd like to take this moment, to pray and send my thoughts to all the people harboring this horrible disease. I never stop wishing and hoping that I'd live to see the day we combat AIDS. A world without AIDS...

So it's December, 24 days to go till Christmas, 30 days to go till 2013, but then will we ever get there? Cause, you know, it's 20 days to go before the end of the world, according to the Mayan calendar or to the people who have too much time on their hand and "decoded" the calendar. Sometimes, I really envy those kind of people. Meh!

Here's something that's ending today, the social network feature of Multiply. They're going to be this online marketplace all the way. Really don't care about that side of the site, if I have to shop online, I do it on ebay. But all the pictures, music, videos and blogs uploaded will be gone. They were nice enough to give an advance notice months ago. So today, I logged in for the last time. My Inbox showed 1 unopened PM and 1 unchecked invitation, sent years ago. I didn't bother to click on them. Instead, I started to do one of my favorite uses of Social networks, STALKING. I browsed my contacts and backed up the blogs that amused me, and I meant I copy-paste them somewhere. Don't worry y'all, I'll never pull a Tito Sotto, I swear. I just wanted them as a keepsake. Just be flattered that I'm a fan of your writings. I didn't bother to back up my photos though, I have the originals in my hard disk, but this is one of my favorite picture in Multiply:

Whee, look it's my Sputnik sweetheart! This was taken in Nido Science Center in MoA. That's Sputnik y'all., a replica that is. It's the very first satellite launched into outer space. I kinda envy the people who lived at the time of Space race between US and USSR, I felt like there were a lot of milestones in a short period of time. I mean in 1957 they sent the first satellite, then they sent Laika (the first dog in space) sadly she never returned -sad face-, they sent the first spacecraft, pictures to the moon, Yuri Gagarin, the first space walk by Leonov, and then by 1969, we were on the moon! In 12 years we made that much progress, it's been 40 years since the last Apollo mission, we should be in Mars now. I'm not complaining okay, we have  the Curiousity rover which made its historic touch down in Mars last July 5 (PST), and we have those really cool live stream videos of the ISS crew doing Q&A's and ISS tour, in HD! Then yesterday, I learned that there's ice in Mercury. It's amazing! I hope I'd live to witness a successful manned mission to Mars, and even other planets.

Tomorrow, is Chris' birthday and we'll be seeing the (Philippines) advance screening of Rurouni Kenshin live action film.Old and new fans alike had anticipated the local screening of Ruroken for months. I'm probably one of the few whose not caught up in the hype. I mean I AM excited to see it in the big screen, I will see it no matter what, but let's just say, I have very low expectations. Truth be told, I didn't even follow the development when I first saw the trailer. I'm still a fan okay, I still love Kenshin very much. But, you see, it's my favorite anime/manga of all time. I watched the first airing of the TV series and the reruns, the OVA's, the animated feature film, a million times. Okay that's exaggeration, but it's a lot I swear.  I've read the manga including the Kaden special, the Yahiko spin-offs, and many more doujinshi (including BL). I feel like I have explored every angle of possibility in the Ruroken universe. Now I have not read any review nor synopsis of film, I can only say from what I see in the trailer that the live action will follow the storyline of the manga. I am skeptic on how the film will make it fresh for me. I am also not in favor of the choice of actor, I mean visually. I'm not exactly rooting for a close physical resemblance, but, I don't know how to explain this, Takeru Sato just don't radiate that Kenshin aura. But we'll see, with all the low expectations I have, there's a higher chance that I'd enjoy it, I mean, less expectations, less disappointment.

In lieu of the Kenshin screening, I believe I haven't shared this here. This music box should bring nostalgia, it plays "Sobakasu".  Please enjoy :)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Amasey something too...

I wasn't gonna talk about this "amalayer" overnight sensation, but I was surprised when I saw the video still trending on  Youtube homepage (Philippines), and, well, something inside me fired up. I felt I needed to say something, and where opinions are called, opinions I'll give. So here it is, my two cents worth.

First of all, in case you didn't know. This Amalayer trend is about this incident at LRT station, a girl shouting at lady security guard, for whatever reason, she was crying "I'm a liar? You're telling me I'm a liar" with an effort to mimic an American accent, hence the netizens labeled the video "amalayer". Here's the whole story

Okay, so she was rude. Ethics tells us that no matter how bad the situation is, there's no excuse for being rude (oh and I learned that on Hollywood Squares, so you can't tell me otherwise, no exemption here folks). So the Lady guard did her job in an unpleasant way, that's no excuse for being rude, especially in public. If you did that to a waitress in a restaurant, you better have second thoughts in taking the meal served in your table. You see, there's always a way rudeness can get back at you. Unfortunately for this girl, it was a prying guy who caught half of the incident on tape and uploaded it on youtube, and the rest, as much as I hate to use a cliche, is history.

So that's now how to handle the situation, we get it. But is it necessary to make a meme out of it? Condemn the act, not the person. Enough bashing. In many ways I feel bad for this girl because unlike Tito Sotto and Charlie Sheen, she does not have publicists and lawyers to help her fix things. 

Now, here's an interesting thing I learned, this amalayer girl whose real name is Paula, auditioned for a VJ post. Then this Gregory guy who caught the incident on tape is an aspiring singer. Two aspiring celebrities, in an unexpected turn of events made their way to fame. I smell conspiracy here, hmmm. Take in mind that this is not yet a fact, I didn't do further research here, if the information I mentioned are not true, then let's just disregard this 3rd argument, I'm not making any point, I just love conspiracy theories hehehe.

Lastly, I wanna end this post with something positive. In an age where everything could be subjected to public scrutiny, thanks to the technology (and thanks for warning us George Orwell), wouldn't it be nice to shift the focus into something that would make us all smile? I saw this Coca Cola commercial the other day in my Facebook feeds. Though I strongly discourage everyone from drinking Coke or any carbonated drinks (BAD FOR THE HEALTH OK?), I wish we could all embrace the idea that there are so many heartwarming stuff all over the world that we can catch on tape too.

Damn, Coca Cola make the best commercials, don't they? :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Celebrating the 2nd Hane Festival of Tanay

Whenever I have the chance, I always tell how proud I am to be coming from a town rich of history and culture, and we don't just settle with existing traditions, we also create new ones. Last year, the municipality of Tanay initiated Hane Festival to celebrate the town's 405th founding anniversary. I was a little busy to attend or participate in any activities, which I truly regret, but I'm glad I was able to make time to check out the festivities this year.

The term hane by the way, is a confirmatory expression, synonymous to okay or right,  unique to Tanay. Like if you'd say, "let's go to the church together, okay?" we'd say "let's got to the church together, hane? "(sabay tayo magsimba, hane?). Or if you'd say, "you got the money I sent, right?" we'd say "you got the money I sent, hane?" (nakuka mo pinadala kong pera, hane?). 

So the festival spawned four days of fun-filled activities which started November and ended on November 12. Activities include fun runs, art exhibits, rock balancing exhibits, float parade, pageant contest, culinary contest, street dancing competition and a lot more. I was able to see the float/people parade and Agri/trade fair, on a fine Sunday morning.

The parade was participated by different government and non-government organizations and private businesses in the town. It was an eye-opener, some of the organizations I saw, I didn't know they exist here. There were also street dancers, military people and religious groups.



Some of the floats need some works, but that's okay, this tradition is only on its second year, give it more time and things will improve and get more sophisticated. It's just like the state of Cosplay when it was just starting to make a scene. The festival will definitely further develop the creativity of Tanayans.



I was amazed to see an armored vehicle. I never thought I'd ever see one in person, not that I want to. In fact the presence of the soldiers gave the event a chilly ambiance. At least that's how I felt when they passed our spot. Don't get me wrong though, I'm not saying I don't like them. I have high respect for people who sacrificed so much to protect their country.  I dunno, maybe it was the guns, their very serious demeanor and their association to the war. But yeah, in many ways, I really salute them.


After the parade,  my mom and I checked the Agri/trade Fair. It's a small bazaar featuring local products. Nothing really out of the ordinary here, just some furnittures, handicrafts, souvenirs, delicacies, organic vegetables and fruits. It was cool.




I was delighted to see eco-friendly products, handicrafts made from recycled papers and Water Lilies. The latter is much closer to home, literally because our place is hundreds of meters away from Laguna de Bay, and there are heaps of Water Lies back there. I actually saw a feature about it on TV before, but it was more fun to be able to see them in person my mom bought a pair of slippers and some head bands.


We also bought some organic vegetables, honey, fresh cow's milk and a sack of rice. Oh and a slice of halaya (purple yam) which was really good. I love the feeling of being able to support local producers like this. I wish I could encourage more people, not only from Tanay but all over the country and even the world to consume local products as much as possible. I mean, it's good for our health, good for the planet, and good for the economy. Think about it hane?

I definitely enjoyed my experience at the festival. It's such a shame that I didn't get to check out other activities, but I will definitely time for it next year.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Lest we forget...

Finally a big break! Well, it’s not really big, but a one day  vacation leave next to weekend is a bliss and I should use this gift of time to update. Yeah! The truth is, a lot have happened since the last time I posted, but I don’t really have the energy to tell all of them. There were really dark days but I've moved on, we've all moved on and now it’s time to enjoy and celebrate life again.

But today, I want to talk about something timely. We just celebrated All Saints day (Nov.1) and All Souls day (Nov.2). For non-Christians out there, these are day we pay homage to the faithful departed. All Saints day is for the purified souls who are now in heaven. All Souls Day is exclusively for the souls who are in Purgatory, spending time to cleanse and purify themselves, perhaps atoning for the sins they've committed when they were still living. Hell is out of the picture here, it’s a place for pure evil. Here in the Philippines, Catholics observe a joint celebration of All Saints Day and All Souls Day in November 1 by going to the cemetery, bringing in flowers, lightning a candle and offering prayers. For me (and perhaps some), it has also become a subtle excuse for families to get together.

Praying for the dead is a moral obligation of Christians. One way to help the souls in Purgatory purify is through prayers. It’s an obligation that I am more than willing to commit because it’s my way of telling to the dead loved ones that I have not forgotten them. I will never forget. I think that it’s very important for us who are still here to keep on remembering. I believe in life after death and I will be very sad if I would see the people I've loved forget about me. So I’d like to take this moment to think about those I love who have crossed  over to the next life, specially my grandparents. Nanay, Tatay, I dearly miss you…

Eternal rest grant unto them, o Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Backpacking Bicol in 3 Days (Part 3)

Okay, I promised I'd post the last part of my adventures in Bicol before I embark on another trip, that trip is a day away, so here's the promise.

The first half of our last day in Bicol covers our exploration of Masbate City. One of the things that makes it hard for me to sit down and write something about the place is, well, there's nothing remarkable about it. Now that may be too harsh to say, but I guess it was mainly because we had very little time to really explore the place. The interesting destinations are so far from one another, had we caught the 12 o'clock  noon trip the other day from Sorsogon, I might have finished this series a long time ago. One thing I can tell though, being there doesn't feel like being away. Masbate City is pretty much, developed. No it doesn't have tall buildings, but it just feels like being in another town in Rizal or Cavite.

Our first stop is the Bituon beach resort, it's a private owned property, you have to check in as hotel guest to access the beachfront. But we have no plans to dip in the sea, we thought we'd just ask permission to take pictures and maybe see the sun rise, but  luck was on our side, there was no one security guard when we arrived, so we took the opportunity and trespassed the property (not cool hahaha).


The beach is nothing special, but a walk in the sand completes my trip :)

We  stayed there for about 15 minutes, when we left the premise, there was a security officer looking out, but we played it cool and acted as if we didn't do anything wrong (we just took some photos ferchrissake!) so he didn't bother to stop us. It was a graceful exit y'all! Then we checked the Rodeo Arena. Masbate is the rodeo capital of Philippines (even Asia probably). It wasn't the season when we visited, so it was just an empty space, I can only imagine the crowd and noise during the festival.


The next thing we checked is the Pawa Mangrove nature park. It's a mangrove plantation, huge and impressive, but after a while it gets boring and scary. I said boring because, there's nothing to see but mangroves. You can take a 1.3 km walk via foot bridge, and this is the scary part, it's made of bamboo, and it gives you this feeling it's ready to collapse with one false move. If I know how to swim, I'd take on the challenge of taking the board walk, but I don't know how to swim, none of my companions do, we have no life vest so at 200 meters, we decided to go back (wimps!).



One of my favorite part of the trip is the incidental stop to the Coastal Resource Management Interpretative Center (can that name get any longer?). Supposedly, the center serves as the hub for information, education, and activity center for coastal resource management and showcase Masbate's CRM experience and from which will radiate outreach activities promoting coastal resource management in general and in particular.The center includes key components such as reception and information counter, public exhibition area, activity teaching room and library*. The sad thing is, it didn't give that impression. The place looked unappreciated with only 3 tourists from Manila looking in. There was person who attended us, and I wished we met her earlier because she seems to be the only person knowledgeable about the city's places of interest. She told us the places to see but we no longer had the time to check them.

I discovered from my further research that this building used to be the old municipal hall of Masbate City



An old coastal logbook, I love archival stuff like this

We took a short stop at the church and the provincial capitol, after which, we headed back to the hotel to prepare for our departure. We came in more than an hour earlier than the scheduled trip, we cannot afford to miss this boat, I realized now that a lot of our time was spent waiting to depart *sigh*

So we were waiting and chatting, Che had an unplanned pedicure treatment (there are mobile manicurists roaming in the port!), suddenly an uncalled for preacher with a Bible on hand started preaching in front of the passengers. I put on my earphones, I was thinking he's one of those people preaching then soliciting money for "donation" for their foundation or something. I wasn't really listening to music, I was listening to the preacher, but I wanted to look like I'm not giving attention in case he started giving white envelopes, I'd pretend I didn't hear a thing and nobody would give me that conscience gripping stare. So he was telling people to repent because the end is near. He urge people to read the Bible and start getting on the right path. When he got to "the signs" (of apocalypse) part, a cynical man, who claimed to have no religion, started to interrupt him. He pointed out that those signs he talked about - the earthquakes, the super typhoons, wars, etc, had been happening even before the Bible existed. And then they bickered. In the end, they agreed to disagree. It was amusing. And then it was time to leave.

I would love to visit Masbate again someday, it deserve a second look. Next time I'd do more research and make sure everything is planned.

We were on our way back to Legaspi City, we made a short stop to the town of Daraga to check Our Lady of the Gate Church. It's one of the Baroque churches of the Philippines declared to be a national treasure. Another thing that makes this structure a prime tourist spot is the beautiful backdrop of Mt. Mayon (actually, it's on the side). Gorgeous!


We walked most of the time with our luggage on our backs. When we checked in at another hotel, we spent the next hours resting. We didn't go out till the sun start to set. It was when Mayon slowly showed it's tip to our delight. By night time, we met up Che's college friends Mars and ____ (OMG I forgot her name!). But she was with her kid who was so hyper, he probably ate more sugar than what I've hoarded from Starbucks this past few nights. Anyway, her mom was very generous to treat us for dinner and take us around the city. Legaspi is a nice city, and like what my friend told me, it would have been a really great place to settle to, if only the threat of the gorgeous volcano would banish.


This is one of the trip that where I really moved around. In 3 full days, I was in 6 towns, 3 provinces and two huge islands (my friend told me otherwise, but I insist on considering Luzon mainland, to be an island). One of the things I regret is not having the time to see my relatives in Legaspi. But then, this is definitely NOT my last visit in Bicol. There are more interesting places to explore. I'm sure I'll be back.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Updates, updates...

Kyaaahhh! Summer's almost over (in my part of the world), and I haven't updated in a long time! I am so sorry, I'm just the laziest person to go online, but hey y'all, if you're interested, the easiest way to catch me online is through Twitter. It's not like I actively tweet, but if you tweet me, I'd tweet back right away (yuck! did I just use the same word 3 times in one sentence) as compared to poking or PM-ing me in Facebook. I also open my email regularly, so...

There's really nothing much to talk about, really. It's always been work and home, which is not very interesting for you I'm sure :D, I do acknowledge the fact that I still owe a post from my Bicol blog series, the part 3, the final installment, I promise I'd post it before my next major trip this June *pressure* hehehe.

May was not a busy month, but it was eventful! I'm just gonna throw some random stuff I did okay.

I attended Komikon with close friends this Saturday, the last time I attended Komikon was 2007. The event was held in Unilab's Bayanihan center, I loved the venue! Very con-friendly, significantly less stressful than those being held in Megatrade hall. Come to think of it, the past conventions I've committed to attend were held outside the malls. I think that's a good progress. I hope that Komikon would also be a regular event in the checklist of hobbyists. It just feels great that Filipino comic artists are gaining a significant following. God we have overflowing talents that are begging to be appreciated. I think we're still far from the used to be mainstream status of Komiks, but in time, with enough exposure, we will get it back. The best part, as always, was seeing my friends again. Yay!

I've been planning to start this Flat Belly program CD that I got free from Nestle's cereal. Believe me, it's more for safety reason than aesthetic (it's a long explanation and I don't have the time to touch that right now) but my point is, I haven't even started it yet. I think I just continue to gain weight, which is really bad. It's  a reflection on my discipline, and it's one of the things I promised to improve on this year -sigh-

Sad news, Jim Paratore died. He's an executive of The Ellen Degeneres show. He's one of the producers that I really liked (next to Andy Lassner) because I remember when the show won its first Emmy for Best Talkshow, Ellen mentioned in her speech that he convinced station managers that people still want to see her on TV, at a time no one believed her... Thank you Jim, RIP...

Yesterday I went to the supermarket to buy some food supplies (flat belly program -- ack!). It was Savemore by the way. I know I hate SM (environmental and labor ethics reasons), but because it's the only place where I can get Kiwi here (I love Kiwi!), I can't pledge to cross it off my shopping destinations YET.  The store had been out of supply (of Kiwi) for sometime, and when finally it's available, my God the price had went up from P244/Kg to P360/Kg (US$5.5/kg to $8.2/kg). That's crazy! I went ahead and get them anyway, I love it that much :(

I've also been frequenting to Starbucks lately. It's a matter of consequence, I can't talk about it here because it's not my situation, but it reminds me a lot of my own loneliness. I just hope the complicated situation ends up in a positive and peace of mind giving manner. I just want everyone to be happy, demmit!

I missed the Hiten Mitsurugi RK night event. Just when you thought I'm a huge RK fan eh? Of course I am, but the event looks like a reunion of some anime indie bands I've seen during my fangirl hey days hehehe. I was a little curious how old fans are doing, but my curiousity wasn't enough reason to shake off my laziness hehehe. Also, there's an upcoming live action film this summer (northern parts of the world). For some reason, I'm not so excited. I've seen the trailer and a lot of my FB contacts tagged me to the video link, and, I don't know, I feel like I've seen everything I needed to see in Kenshin's life. Perhaps a spin-off series or film or whatever that's official, would get me more curious. I mean, don't get me wrong okay, I love RK from the pit of my hypothalamus. It's great that it's getting a new platform for exposure. I would love for the new generation of anime fans to get to really know it. I'm happy for Watsuki-sensei. I'm just not convinced that the film would offer anything new to me. Next month is Kenshin month by the way, so expect me to upload a Ruroken music box video very soon!

On more trivial stuff, I started going organic. Slowly. I started switching my shampoo, conditioner, lotion and soap to organic products. My sister in law is an authorized dealer of Human Heart Nature products. The company is founded by the daughters of Tony Meloto, the founder of Gawad Kalinga Foundation. What I like about the company is their mission to go Pro-environment, Pro-poor and Pro-Philippines. They use natural and harmless ingredients, they are made in the Philippines and the price is cheaper than most organic products available in the market. I easily noticed the difference of organic care products from what I used to use. The shampoo for example has a natural citrus smell (though it doesn't last very long) and the suds are waaayyyy thinner from Head and Shoulders. It's time to stop patronizing big corporations and start supporting small players. 

Part of this move is my intention to help my body and the environment. Aside from switching brands for peronal care products, I have this long time plan to eat more veggies (which I haven't really done yet, but I'm on progress okay). I recently tried Greek cuisine at Cyma, OMG the Roka Salata (salad, mixture of letuce walnut, dried plum and parmesan cheese, poured with Greek vinaigrette) is LOVE! The servings at Cyma is good for 2-3 people. It's so good, I wouldn't mind having it as a main course. I also ordered a vegan cook book online, no I'm not going vegan nor vegetarian. But I really want to work on eating more veggies than meat, I'll just start by assigning a meat-less day/s in a week. Who knows? I hope it works.

Okay, I can't think of anything else anymore, I feel sleepy, that would be all for now.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Some Things Never Change

On a quiet Good Friday afternoon, I was peacefully taking my slumber when I woke up to a loud sound of bickering naggers. It was Ivy and Oli, my siblings, fighting over the internet turn.While I was extremely upset at the time, for taking away the most precious thing from me (sleep), I can't help thinking that some things never change. Having siblings is favorable because I got mates by default. But sometimes, I can't help but think that it's not so favorable because I got mates by default. Other than putting up with their immaturity, we always had something to bicker about, it never gets old. When we were kids, it was the TV. On our teenage years, it was the landline phone. And now, the internet!  We have no wifi router, and these two have been planning to get one. They asked me to share the expense but I declined because I didn't feel the need for it, if there ever is, it's on weekends and holidays, on times when we're all at home. On weekdays, I have no competition on morning (which is my only free time anyway), and most of the time, I don't have the energy to stay in front of the computer (heck! I'm in front of a PC all the time at work!). Anyway, the bickering of these two O's (Ivy's real name is Olivia) didn't stop there, they did it again on Black Saturday and on Day of Valour (Monday, April 9). They are getting on my nerves! I am happy that our family got together for a long weekend, but then I realized that being together also meant slashing my peaceful time at home. Oh hello rowdy people! Despite that, I am still very grateful.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Backpacking Bicol in 3 Days (part 2)

Hold on to each other, don't let go of one another! The BIO reminded us. We graciously followed and eagerly waited for the go signal. And finally he said GO! We jumped off and ducked our heads. Then I saw Keiko. OMG! He's huge! (I'm not really sure if Keiko's a he, but for lack of definite information, I will refer to it as he). My eyes opened wide with wonder as I watched him gently swim forward. I'm not the squealing type in wow moments like this (and I can't squeal under the water anyway) but all those time all I could think of was Oh my God, oh my God!!! Then something went wrong, the water started to get inside my snorkel. I tasted sea water! I panicked, and though I haven't seen Keiko's full body, I raised my head and remove my snorkel. I put it back my mouth and tried to fix its fitting when Janet saw me and asked if I was okay. I was okay but I felt something was wrong. I felt like my life vest was yanking me. I realized that I got separated from the group and I felt sad not being able to see Keiko's whole body, but I was more concerned of my safety. My snorkel disappointed me, why did the water get in? And now I'm so far away from the group, even though I have a life vest on, the waves are taking me away. Good thing Janet stayed with me and calmed me. Our boat soon approached us and we went back, with hope that we'll spot another whale shark.

And we did. This time, I was more composed. I tightened my snorkel and locked the leg strap of my life vest. It didn't take too long for the BIO to spot Keiko again, we were reminded once more to hold on to one another. When we jumped, I was calmer and I decided that if the water comes in again, I'll just have to hold my breath. If David Blaine could hold his breath for 17 minutes and 4 seconds under water, an average person like me can do it for a minute or two. My problem this time though, was not my snorkel, but other fans of Keiko (other tourists). I thought that only 6 people are allowed to swim with one whale shark, but this time we had to share Keiko with other groups. As we swim to chase Keiko, I saw a bunch of butts approaching, other swimmers were also chasing Keiko of course. I got worried that my face would bump into those butts. The prankster in me toyed with the idea of groping one of the butts just to scare the hell out of them, but my conscience reminded me that I may not only be sent back to the shore but I can also be charged with harassment, so I focused on my priority,  Keiko. Despite the struggle, I did see the whole body of the whale shark. So there goes Keiko again, this majestic giant finally showed his gentle entirety. I saw him swim forward, I saw his body move upward, like when a movie's ending credits roll. I was full of awe.

Photo of a Butanding grabbed from the DOT website

The third sighting was a quick one, swift and smooth and in fact I can't remember much what happened. But it was still Keiko for sure. The fourth sighting was another bummer for me. I got separated from the group again, this time, it was because Che let go of my hand. Good thing I was still with Janet or I would have ended up panicking again. Because I didn't see the fourth whale shark, I assumed he wasn't Keiko so I named him Mocchi. The BIO made a fifth sighting, but this time, none of us saw him, the shark got away too fast, we couldn't catch up. It think it was also Keiko.

The 6th and last sighting is Chastity. As my friend puts it, this was the most intimate whale shark encounter we've had. We had her all for our group and I felt like I was closer to her than Keiko. So close that I could have touched her, and I gotta admit, I was so tempted to hold on to her dorsal fin and let her tow me under water, but I remembered that I shouldn't be selfish. These gentle giants are supposed to go on with their usual business without having to deal with the threat we impose. So I watched her swim away from us, with wonder...

We didn't have underwater cam to record what happened on our whale shark interaction, I have no pictures of Keiko nor Chastity. But it was probably for the best. I doubt we'd get decent pictures when every sighting happened in a blast. I was just grateful to see those gentle giants.

My mates! Sam, Debbie, me and Janet. Photo stolen from

After the whale shark interaction, we set on our next destination --Masbate! Fr. Eric invited us for lunch, but we declined because we were trying to catch the 12:00 PM fastcraft trip to Masbate. Later on, I regret declining, we ended up missing the trip despite arriving earlier than 12. We had no choice but to wait for the next trip, which was 4PM. We were stuck in Pilar, Sorsogon for the next 4 hours. We had our lunch in a small eatery and then we bought our tickets for the 4:00 trip, after that, we were left to think what to do the whole time. A four hour wait time was too long. The good thing about the place is, I got a strong 3G signal, I was able to browse the mobile web. I decided to google Pilar Sorsogon to look for interesting places to check. Interestingly, I learned that the great film maker Lino Brocka was born there. Other than that, nothing else came up. Che and I decided to ask around, we were silly enough to think that Lino Brocka's house might still be erected in the place, but when we asked the town's people about it, they didn't even have any idea who Lino Brocka is. And that baffles me, I mean I know he passed away a long time ago, but he's one of the greatest Filipino film maker of our time, he's a national artist, how can they not know him? Anyway, we asked for sites to check, and this lady we asked answered 2 things - the court and the port. Nice *sarcastic tone alert*.

This is the court.


And this is the port, which is what we stared at for four hours.


We did find a church, small and barely polished, but still worth adding in our collection of Philippine churches. A mass was going on, it was a Sunday afternoon. I listened to the priest conduct his homily in Bicol language. I am amused at the fact that we have so many dialect here in the Philippines, when I hear people in the background speak in their native dialect, I can't help feeling I'm in another country.


Man, that was probably the longest 4 hours of my life, with nothing to do nor check, I started taking pcitures of stuff that made me ask "what's this?". Che and Janet were joking that I looked like some kind of an inspector with my photos.


I also attempted to do a dance dare for @theellenshow, but I proved to be gutless to actually do it (next time Ellen!). I'm glad I had friends to wait with. Janet was lucky enough to take a nap even while sitting, while Che and I were left to chat and banter one another. The whole time, we were joking that our friendship meter would drop low because we always disagree on so many issues. Oh our friendship is indeed is one of the wonders of the world! Having a smartphone was also a bliss, I got preoccupied with my Facebook and Twitter updates, I also got the chance to check what to see in our next destination, Masbate City.

At 15 minutes before 4, we were asked to board the boat. It was my first time to board a fastcraft ship, and boy I didn't know that it was a little cramp inside. I got a little claustrophobic when I settled to my seat, the first thing that I looked for was the emergency exit. All crazy things swarmed through my head --what if we hit another boat? What if our engine messed up? What if there's a fire? Where are the life vests? Oh my God, I'm gonna throw up! I am not a good first timer of such stuff, the negative scenarios always win over my mind. I wish I could think otherwise, but sometimes, I have no control on what pops into my brain. The good thing about it is, I prayed all throughout the 2 hour trip for a safe and sound arrival. And that was what we got, surprisingly, I didn't throw up. God is good after all.


We arrived at around 6:00 PM. We got a nice view of the dusk when we got off the ship. The first thing we looked for was a tourism flyer or anything similar, but we were unsuccessful to find one. We then scoured for an inn to spend the night. I was dying to take a bath! While walking, it was delightful to see bunch of old houses, but because it was almost night time, I didn't get decent pictures. We checked a couple of hotels before settling in to Sampaguita Inns, the room rates were far less expensive than the ones in Donsol, that alone said something about the tourism state of the city. After taking a bath, we decided to have a fine dine-in. We asked the hotel staff for a recommended local restaurant and popular tourist spots in the city. But they were clueless. When we asked for the interesting places I saw on Wikipedia, they had no idea what we were talking about. I find it really sad, when people are not aware of places of interest of their native land, I thought, what kind of pride do these people hold for their hometown? Maybe they weren't really homegrown of Masbate City, perhaps they just moved in a month ago, who knows. I saw a map of the province in a bulletin board, posted in the inn's cafeteria, with pictures of popular spots. We checked it out and asked some old men dining in. They were helpful in giving information, but we realized that most spots are situated very far from the city. We managed to learn two places to check for the very limited time we have the next day.

We headed out for a sumptuous dinner. The inn keeper did recommend a local restaurant whose name sounded "mainland", but it turned out to be "Minlan" or something like that (I forgot). The place didn't have a festive ambiance as I would have liked when going out for a food trip, but the grilled blue marlin was really good (it was the only thing I remembered). After dinner, we stopped at a local coffee house, whose name I also forgot, but it carries a tagline as "the coffe place to be". It's been a while since I've had coffee, and I'm sorry, but the coffee I tasted didn't live up to its tag line. I mean it's not bad, but definitely not something my palate can cherish.

To be continued...