31 December 2004

The PinoyBlog Christmas Party

It was a meeting of old friends.

Which is quite odd actually, considering that it's the first time most of us will be seeing each other. I was cautiously making my way inside Cabalen, scanning the room for familiar faces. And then I saw the PinoyBlog banner almost at the same time that Tito Rolly called out my name! And there they were: Tito Rolly, Jet and Jay, Doc Emer, BongK, Apol, Karla, Ajay, Yuga. I wasn't able to meet everyone then as I had to rush out and buy my gift for the kris kringle. Christmas rush time!

I met the others when I got back: there was the Sassy Lawyer and her family! Vixen, Julsitos, Joyce Jimenez ... have I mentioned before I'm really bad with names? 'Cause I can't remember the other names. But I think there was also a guy named crazylover, and a couple of other ladies I was not able to talk to. After dinner and gift-giving, everyone headed off for coffee at the Podium. We all just sat there, had coffee, and talked. It was like catching up with what's happened with us since we last saw each other ... in the net.

I learned some interesting things in the party. Unkyel Batjay is a leftie and commands presence in real life, Jet is a fun lady, Sassy is a loving mom, Doc Emer is one doctor with great humor, Tito Rolly is really like a tito (uncle), Bong K went to Jakarta, Ajay can be the life of the party, Karla has a quiet composure about her, Apol has a quiet composure about him, Julsitos will be at the hospital waiting for the people who can't learn from the mistakes of others in using firecrackers, Joyce is a sensible woman ... too bad I wasn't able to meet with everyone, as I am naturally not an outgoing person, but it definitely was a jolly bunch.

The group was a mix of happy chatter and laughter. And as they say, time flies when you're having fun. It was already past 12 midnight when the lights started to go off and the store crew commenced cleaning. It was time to go home.

Thank you all for the fun evening! I look forward to seeing you again. And did I mention Ms. Joyce Jimenez drove us home? Happy New Year!

[I'll post other photos later; slow connection today]

23 December 2004

Christmas Party Hats

We celebrated our company Christmas party a couple of nights ago. We had this Christmas Party hat contest with the following criteria: creativity 30%, happiness 15%, originality 30%, themeness 15%, and another item for 10% (which I forgot). The participants came out with nice designs. There were around 9 of them, which I think is an ok turnout, considering that we did not announce that the price is 2,000 pesos for each of the top 5. We thought it will be great for them to join not because of the prize money but for the fun of it.

The organizers also wore hats to promote the contest. I hope we do it again next year.

Merry Christmas to all!

19 December 2004

The Christmas rush is through ...

Now let me get this straight. It's the middle of December and I haven't completed my gifts list yet? As far as I can recall, I was in the same 'dilemma' last year. Or, is it because the list keeps getting longer and longer each year? Oh well. At least that's good news. Having more friends is way better than seeing your list get shorter and shorter. Come to think of it, that was my approach in explaining to my boss the increase in budget request for giveaways this year.

Tina's hometown friends visited us yesterday, the lively gals who were with us in the last Divi Challenge. And they helped wrap the rest of the gifts! I didn't realize there's still a lot to wrap! Now this is more like it. It reminded me of the time in Baguio when I used to buy gifts, secretly stash them in the house, wrap them when nobody else is around, and put these under the tree. My brothers and sisters would also do this, and soon there'd be a stash of wrapped surprises for everyone. We would occasionally visit the tree, choose a gift in random, then squeeze and shake it, feeling and listening intently for anything that will reveal the slumbering contents. Our older sister has become so adept at this that it only takes a while for her to satisfactorily declare, "a shirt!", or "a toy made of plastic parts!", then move on to the next bit of treasure.


When they were nearly done, they requested to go online and visit Unkyel Batjay's site which I showed them a couple of visits ago and they thoroughly enjoyed reading through most of the more recent posts. And soon enough they were giggling and laughing anew at the new posts. Unkyel Batjay truly deserves the Blogger of the Year award.


This morning, my wife asked me, "When are you going to buy the rest of the gifts?" Which made both of my eyebrows shoot through the air. "Who else doesn't have a gift?" "Well, there's still ... the names came out of her mouth but I can't seem to hear them. I had one overpowering song play in my head: "Greeting cards have all been sent, the Christmas rush is through ..."

The rush isn't through for me yet. On a positive note, a longer list means more friends ... anybody out there to help us wrap the gifts?

17 December 2004

We are not alone

A couple of years ago at around this time, I had a high fever. I bought groceries at The Landmark on a Monday evening, and had to haul a couple of heavy bags to the jeepney stop at Park Square 2. This was for a party at home that night. It was drizzling then, and I was tired and sweaty from the weight I was carrying. By the following morning, I was already running a fever.

I was so sick, I had to take a leave of absence the rest of the week. My temperature was running into the 38 - 40s, that by Thursday night, my friends brought me to the Hospital. And then the strangest thing happened. As I was sitting at the lobby waiting to have for my urine test, I felt better. So much better in fact that the doctor said I only have a slight fever and I was able to go home a little past twelve midnight.

When I got back to our apartment, my fever immediately ran into the 40s again. Weird, huh? I felt the fever gone when we were at the Hospital, but was back by the time I sat on our sofa.

The following day, my friends accompanied me to a faith healer a couple of blocks away from home. We entered the house, and I was greeted by a multitude of religious images of the Child Jesus and of Him on the cross, as well as those of the Virgin Mary.

An old man greeted us and my friends informed him of my health condition. He then took a basin with water, lit a candle, closed his eyes as he mumbled a prayer, and let the molten wax drop freely onto the basin. He then took a look at the images formed by the hardened wax and declared that we have other, unseen residents in the apartment.

The old man said that before man-made structures and streets lined our neighborhood, there was a wide expanse of marsh, where 'laman-lupa' (must be a form of dwarves) lived. When houses were constructed, they did not go away, but rather stayed with the humans. Our residents must have been angered by something I've done. We might have been turning up the music too loudly, or we ourselves were creating too much noise. Guilty as charged. I love playing my music loud, likewise when watching movies or playing video games.

He pointed at the wax figures again. He said there were at least two 'laman-lupa' who were angry. We were then advised to make an offering to appease them. Put a couple of hard-boiled eggs on a plate, set it on a place near a door, and inform our unseen residents that it was our peace offering, and hope that they would no longer afflict me with sickness.

By Saturday afternoon, I was feeling much better. By Monday the following week, I was able to go to work.

Just one of the many reasons why I believe we are not alone.

16 December 2004

Gamot ay siguradong laging bago

I have recently found myself a frequent customer of drugstores, purchasing medicine for my wife. But I just don't buy from any pharmacy that I pass by. I always go to a Mercury Drug Store, no matter how far it may be, no matter how many odd-named drugstores I pass by.

Wierd huh? Call me duped (not doped, mind you), but I go to Mercury Drug due to three reasons:
1. the stores are inviting, with a mixture of goods and snacks, toiletries, making it an ideal place to pick up stuff other than medicines.
2. I have this Suki Card which earns me points whenever I make a purchase. Points that I can use to 'convert' to cash and purchase something else.
3. Their slogan says "Gamot ay siguradong laging bago" (Medicines are always guaranteed new). So whenever I go out and buy these, whether prescribed or over the counter, I head on straight to Mercury Drug. Because who knows, other drugstore's medicine cabinets might have expired items in them!

Like I said, call me duped, call me paranoid, but Mercury Drug's got one marketing gimmick that works 100% right there. I was only able to realize this when I passed a couple of drugstores to get to theirs! Ten pieces Avamigran for migraine, please. And here's my Suki Card.

13 December 2004

The Magic 8 Ball does not lie.

My colleagues here in Marketing had a heyday with this Magic 8 Ball they purchased at National Book Store. How does it work? Simply ask a question, shake the ball, and the answer is revealed at the opposite side of the "8" tag. Hmmm ... how many sides does a ball have?

Answers to questions like "Shall I have a salary increase next year?", "Will [colleague's name] get married soon?", and "Will my boss give me a Christmas present?" were really very interesting. It ranged from a hazy "Ask again later", to a "Definitely not" or a solid "Yes".

We had quite a laugh with the Magic 8 Ball. We wished making corporate decisions was this fun! This nice novelty item can be yours for around 350 pesos at National Bookstore.

12 December 2004

We're not in Kansas anymore

Last night my wife and I, along with our good friends the Honeys went to OnStage at Greenbelt 1 in Makati to watch Repertory Philippines' The Wizard of Oz. It's only the second time I watched a play, the last one being Ms. Saigon years ago (which was a treat by an officemate who looked for a companion at the last minute).

My memory's a bit hazy about the story, having read it in my high school years, but I still have a good grasp of the overall story. The play started at 8. It was 2 hours long; I forgot that there was an intermission midway, so I wasn't able to inform my wife that there will actually be a 15-minute break, thus she missed some parts.

The play itself was wonderful. The first rendered song was "Somewhere over the rainbow", which set the overall mood of the play as whimsical and playful. The stage sets were a feast to the eyes, the costumes colorful and fun. The actors were also superb, and the songs jubilant. Too bad they don't allow the taking of photos, but you can see a couple of shots here.

At both sides of the stage were vertical lifts that transport the actors to the stage level from below. It was fun seeing Witch of the West appear and retreat using this lift, amidst flashing lights and smoke effects.

I remember vividly in my readings that Dorothy and companions get captured by monkeys with wings on their way to the Emerald City, that a dog named Toto was part of the cast, and that magic slippers played a big part in the story, but it was overall a fun night. The 500-peso ticket was well worth it (1,000 bucks gets you a set at the center area, we seated ourselves at the right section, third row from the stage).

The play will run til the third week of December, so if you are looking for an alternative form of entertainment, catch this or another play in your area. It's great fun!

09 December 2004

Experiencing The Net

I just had this flashback of The Net, a Sandra Bullock flick, where her identity gets stolen - literally - and gets entangled in a web of conspiracy and murder as she attempts to get her life back.

The story may seem farfetched, but it got me thinking what sort of information can be had about me from the Web. So I did a simple google search for "Nick Ballesteros". Whoa. My Blogger Profile is the top search result. From there you can view my blogger photo, age, where I am in the world, my zodiac sign, my list of blogs, interests, etc.

A yahoo! search for the same name does not reveal the Blog result (this can mean that yahoo! is indeed blocking or limiting search in Google products and services). The top results were about Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros, my famous golf namesakes. I always get asked by our visiting foreign business partners if I am related to this famous golfer Ballesteros guy. Sino ba sya? (who's he?) :-)

At number 6, though, is Baguio-Quezon, my other blog.

Interesting search results, especially since I was expecting more than one accurate hit. I actually have my name listed in around 5 other sites for photo sharing and internet community sites, as well as in a host of other places (alumni.net, etc), so I guess if you are really looking for someone in the Net, you are lucky if that person is actively blogging. Otherwise, it will take more than a search engine to find the information you want.

I hope this means my internet identity's safe... for the time being. whew!

At least, I also learned something new from this exercise. My good friend Dr. Watson is now version 1.5, and has expanded services to include website and link verification services. You can do a free diagnosis and syntax check of your site here. (I did a search for watson too, but the word came up with a general search result, which is just fine).

03 December 2004

Globe cares, MSN blogs, & the Last Song Syndrome

I received an SMS message from my mobile phone service provider, Globe Telecoms, with this message: "GLOBE CARES! Globe Telecom joins RED CROSS in helping typhoon victims by accepting your donations thru your Handyphone. Choose from these amounts: 5, 25, 50 or 100. Send your donations by texting .... and so on ..."

Question. If Globe really does care, why don't they at least put in an x amount for every x amount that their subscriber donates? I did a quick visit on their homepage, and I don't see anything related to this topic either.

Wala lang. I just thought it was a rather wierd way of showing you care: by letting others do it for you. But kudos to the Red Cross for this initiative. I'm not being self-righteous or something, but the manner it was written looked wrong. When I read it, I interpreted it as "Globe cares. I take credit for your donations." I'm ranting, so on to the next topic ...


Software Giant Microsoft is finally joining the Blogging community with MSN Spaces. I learned about this as I was blog hopping and discovered Taitapa - on the edge.

As the Sandman said, it's still on beta stage, but as it's Microsoft, they will certainly figure out ways to make it user-friendly. I am tempted to register just so I can get the name I want, but I am quite happy with Google's Blogger service, thank you.


Aside from the contagious Yawn Syndrome, there is also this undocumented-but-oftentimes-manifested Last Song Syndrome. It manifests itself when you're listening to a song which doesn't get finished and you end up continuing the song. I usually get this when I'm in a cab and when I get off, the last song would still be playing in my head and I end up singing til I get to the elevator.

Some people in our office do this for fun. They'd sing a couple of lines from a popular tune then stop. Somebody else is bound to pick up where they left off.


Just some thoughts as the business day ends. Happy weekend all!

02 December 2004

Weekend highs and lows

Aren't we a happy crowd?

We arrived from a two-hour Manila-Cavite trip as the advance party for our company's 3rd Invitational Golf Tournament to Microtel Inn, where we were spending the night. Oooh, spending the night in comfort? Really nice.

Night was already upon us when we checked in, but we still had lots to do. The ladies sorted out the bags, shirts, caps, and data sheets from our Sponsors while Francis, Anthony, Joey Boy, and headed for the golf course, where we has to set-up banners and more importantly, the demo for the Lightpointe Free Space Optics equipment.

We started at around 7:00, but were quite hungry already by 9 , so we had dinner at Microtel. After some time, we were back in the field. Whoops! The UPS was continually giving off alarm beeps! That was nearly midnight. Joey Boy had to make a series of calls to our engineers to help out in the diagnosis. By this time I was already dead tired, as we had been working for this event since a couple of days back, routinely going to the mall to buy and haul stuff, coordinating with the organizers, etc etc.

I dozed off by the lobby at 12 midnight, and was awake by 1:30AM. It was going to be my only sleep for that night. The others had gone off to the golf course for the other side of the installation.

By 3AM, light rain began to fall. We had to stop our work and take shelter. We were drenched in sweat, and getting rained on was a bad combination. Eventually, we had to give up and went out to have something warm to eat.

We were back in Microtel by 4AM. Not much chance for sleep now, as we had to be back there by 5. I made adjustments to the agenda and did last-minute printing while the others dozed off. By 4:30, we each took turns at the shower, and we were back to work at 5.

The guests started coming in, and it was a frenzy. We were running all over the place, coordinating this, running errands there. By 8AM, the Lightpointe demo worked! Sigh of relief from the guys. But our work was not yet done.

We were only able to relax when the last visitor left by 5:30PM. We ordered a can of beer each and wearily sat together while the others helped disassembling banners and hauled our things to the van.

We were all smiles when we arrived, not fully realizing the extent of work that needed to be done. And so there we were, adrenalin finally gone, our tired spirits wanting to take a break.

My boss approached us after the event and said, 'great job'. Somehow, things became better.


If there was one thing I learned here, it's that our Engineers are dedicated people, tirelessly making things work for the benefit of the entire organization. They definitely deserve whatever compensation the company can provide them. The event was also a re-affirmation of the bonds we have with each other, willing to extend a helping hand.

Now, if only I can reconcile these event expenses ...

30 November 2004

What my day was like (in case you'd like to know)

It's been raining all day. Good thing today's been declared a public holiday due to a theory called "economics of holidays," which states that "dates sandwiched between a weekend and a holiday is not good for the nation's well-being, and should thus be eradicated by closing the apparent gap. Never mind if the essence of the holiday gets lost in the hustle-bustle of work." (November 30th is Bonifacio Day -- a Tuesday -- in commemoration of the heroics by Andres Bonifacio for Philippine Independence. But the day people get time-off from work was moved to today, Monday.)

Now where was I? Oh! It's 8PM and it's still raining! Wow, talk about the first ever whole-day rainfall. Times like this make me just want to bum around in the living room all day. Which is what we did, actually. We've been glued to the TV set since we woke up, alternating between DVDs and regular shows, and visiting the kitchen for some grub once in a while.

While I tried to figure out how my blog template worked later in the afternoon, my wife and our visitors decided to play tong-its, a local card game which is really interesting. Especially if there's cash to be won.

The game was so engaging that they played til it was dinner time. They have left a few minutes ago, and my wife and I are back in front of the TV. It's sooo relaxing to not think about anything and let the day leisurely pass by once in a while.

And a while back, our neighbor dropped by to give some party food! It's his youngest son's birthday. So now, we're having spaghetti, chicken, and ice cream (we were supposed to munch on grapes only): a mini feast to cap-off the last day of the long weekend.

22 November 2004

Ginebra! Ginebra!

This afternoon, we watched a PBA (Philippine Basketball Association) tournament. There was nothing to it really, it's just the country's favorite sport, and the main event featured Ginebra, the most popular team ever.

We arrived at the Cuneta Astrodome at 3:30 PM. It was only later that I learned that we were going to sit through the two games. I really didn't care much for the first game, so I amused myself by eating. I had forgotten to bring my Nokia N-gage, so when I had read through most of the latest ish of the Culture Crash comics, I resorted to paying closer attention to my stomach. Which has a side effect: drowsiness. So I rested my head on my wife's shoulders and slept while the fans shouted and cheered for their teams. Yeah, I can be shameless sometimes.

When the main event (Ginebra vs Alaska) came on, I was ready to do my part in cheering Ginebra on to victory. They had quite a substantial lead at the first quarter (around 19 I think), which steadily dwindled til it only became 5 by the third quarter. By the fourth quarter, Alaska was able to valiantly catch up, and the game went into overtime!

Suffice to say, Ginebra lost. Bummer. But I had fun overall. It was great booing the Alaska fans who would shout "Alaska, go go!", so much so that the Ginebra fans were pre-empting this chant and was already booing even before they opened their mouths. The way my wife and I were making excited gestures and making commentaries, we're a shoo-in as hosts of the game.

This is the second time I have witnessed a live PBA game, by the way. And my advice to you is, if you are ever going to buy tickets, make sure you are either in the middle or lower bleachers. The first time I watched a game in Araneta Coliseum, we were in the upper bleachers. It gave us quite a headache looking down, squinting, and regularly scanning the court from side to side to catch the action.

At the half-time, by the way, my wife became star-struck once again, and was able to have her photo beside Mr. Ogie Alcasid (singer / songwriter / actor / comedian) who swooned the audience with a song from his new album, and a shot of the beautiful Ms. Aubrey Miles, who was there to promote her new horror movie (undeniably influenced by the asian hit horror films trend) by rendering a song too.

Now here I am, writing this journal in advance as the clock nears 12 midnight. This coming week is going to be pretty busy for us since the company golf tournament is on the 26th, so my next entry might already be next Saturday. Til then, gotta catch my z's!

18 November 2004

Our first tree

I found one of our ancient photos showing our first Christmas tree at the background (this I talked about in a previous post). The kids are my brothers and sister. Can't recognize who I am in the photo? The cutest of course (the one in the blue jacket). :-)

The rest of the guys are my father's drinking buddies. The lady in front is a good family friend. I remember us spending a night at her place one time. She had lots of Funny Comics stored (famous during that time). I practically spent my entire time there reading about SuperKat, Bing, Bam, Bum and Niknok. In the morning, she cooked us scrambled eggs for breakfast, the kind that you scramble on the frying pan while cooking. I loved the way it was done, and I prefer the eggs done that way til today.

The Divi Challenge aftermath

Stopping at one place after the Divi challenge was a relief! The lady at the left was the Saturday birthday girl, and the shy gal at the right is our kind-hearted guide. The lady in the middle had her wedding in Quezon previously, which we all attended.

16 November 2004

The Divi Challenge

Last Saturday, we went to my wife's friend's birthday party near the University Belt. After a series of wacky charades, videoke, and tong-its (a local popular card game), the conversation was turned to nice finds at Divisoria. Our host proudly showed us various Christmas decors and gift items that were practically a steal. Enticed by the price and the variety of items on sale, we decided to visit Divisoria ourselves with a couple of other friends, which includes the celebrant.

Yesterday was officially declared a special non-working holiday in commemation of the conclusion of Ramadan for our Muslim brothers. It was the perfect day to visit Divisoria!

Fast-forward to yesterday (hmmm). We found ourselves waking up to the 6:00 alarm clock. We were to meet the ex-birthday celebrant at the D. Jose station of the MRT by 7:30, and Tina's other friend, who knows Divisoria like the back of her hand at McDonald's. We had to be early so as not to get caught up in the human taffic jam.

A quick jeepney ride and all four of us were ready for the buying adventures that lay ahead. We made our naughty-and-nice list the night before, and this we trustily referred to from time to time. Turns out that 8:00AM is not so early after all. There was already quite a crowd in the area when we arrived. We hastily made a beeline for a building that was loaded with toys. My kind of place! We stopped by the first store and were amazed at the low prices. Our 'guide' motioned us to visit the other stalls before making our purchases, and that we did. In Divisoria, you get to hone your negotiating skills to shave-off a couple of pesos from the asking price. But being the only thorn amongst the roses, I let them exercise their bargaining power. I wasn't really able to do much shopping on my part because an auditor was on board :-).

We stopped by McDonald's for a quick snack after a couple of hours and a moderate amount of purchased goods in hand. When we left the store half an hour later, the crowd had increased over tenfold! Apparently other people had the same idea as we have when Monday was declared a holiday. We wanted to buy some stuff at the clothing store in another mall, but managing to squeeze in and out of the crowd was tough. We tried just a couple of stores and were finally able to buy a couple of shirts for the kids. Whew!

When we stepped out of the building, the mass of people milling about was overwhelming. The different noise, smells, and the heat can drown out your senses. I would usually get agitated in such situations, but the trick, I learned, is to take it easy and 'go with the flow'. Also, it makes good sense to keep your bags and your wallets close to you. Better safe than sorry.

Lunchtime saw us at a nearby foodcourt and we made a couple more stops after that. Boy, you really need a lot of stamina to pass the Divi challenge. It's only been half a day and already my feet were killing me! Or is it Mother Nature keeping up with me?

Our last stop is the fruit stall of our 'guide'. Their area is where fruits are dropped off. There were mounds upon mounds of bananas, the kind that is used in cooking (we call it 'saba'). There were also coconuts, mangoes, loads of barbeque sticks, and of course, the sweet potato, known here as the 'musical fruit', as it is known to give you gas after eating a moderate serving.

It was a surprise to see an altar of the Virgin Mary in the midst of the boxes of fruits and sticks, a dominant figure amidst the humdrum of the busy community.

Our 'guide' gave us a bunch of bananas and pineapples as a parting gift (pasalubong). She's such a nice gal.

When we got home at around 5PM, we slumped into the living room sofa, exhausted from the trip. But happy. It was a unique experience, this Divi challenge.

12 November 2004

The Incredible Incredibles

We caught the 10:30 screening of 'The Incredibles' last night. And boy, the movie was lots of fun! The concept and storyline is a classic good vs evil with some clever twists within (who would have thought of super heroes getting sued!?).

The characters are endearing and humane, the graphics top-notch. And the adventures! Not a single boring moment. The movie was worth sleeping late and waking up very early this morning (we had to go to a golf and country club for ocular inspection). I want to talk about specifics but I might give away the plot and drop some unwanted spoilers, so I'll just say, watch it! But don't take my word for it, visit rottentomatoes.com (my favorite movie database site) and read the reviews!

Pixar Animation does it again. Go catch it in theaters while it's still on!

10 November 2004

Star Wars fever

Wow I'm feeling oh-so blessed in the material sense these days. I do hope this trend lasts til the New Year! A couple of weeks ago, I got an X2 United DVD. This time around, I got a Star Wars trilogy DVD Set from another good friend! Nope, I don't make grave threats to get these presents; it was for my birthday.

I have been watching the bonus disc and it's filled with lots of goodies on behind the scenes and documentaries. There's even an extensive discussion and raw footage on the climactic battle between Obi Wan and Anakin for Episode 3. "Revenge of the Sith" is one of my most highly anticipated movies of all time! I'm a big Star Wars fan, and I know so because I don't get tired watching the movies over and over til I practically can repeat the lines, while my wife musters a raised eyebrow and asks, "is there anything else to watch?"

I noticed a definite change in Return of the Jedi: at the last part where Obi Wan, Yoda, and Anakin appears, the old Anakin was changed to the long-haired character of Hayden Christensen for Episode 3. It's the old man no more.

And a few moments ago, we got to watch the trailer of Episode 3 off the Internet. It looks great! The even better news is that wookies are appearing in the movie. Prior to the release of Episode 1, news was being circulated that Chewbacca or his kind will not see airtime in Episodes 1 to 3. In fact, Chewbacca even gets killed in a novel tackling a storyline after Return of the Jedi. It was quite a bummer. Heck, he didn't even get a medal in A New Hope when he was just as instrumental in the victory as the others were! But the quick shot of a couple of wookies appearing on the trailer of the new Star Wars movie is indeed a delight. And there was even an X-Wing fighter shown in the space battle!

This is one movie I can't wait to see.

08 November 2004

It's an uphill climb from here

Tricycles (or pedicabs, as they are also called) can be found in most places of the Philippines. I have yet to see one in Baguio, though. This mode of transportation is easy to use and you virtually rent the vehicle for yourself in the duration of your trip (though in some areas, it becomes a smaller version of the jeepney; anybody can take a ride with you given a fixed route). There are also various designs of the pedicab, with the main difference mainly on its passenger capacity.

The photo is taken from our recent trip in Boracay. There were six of us, and our seating arrangement is thus: 2 in front, 3 at the back seats, and 1 behind the driver. However, you'll notice that the coach is rather slanted upwards. So you'll have to achieve a 'weight balance', especially since it was an uphill climb to the place where we were staying.

One time, we were taking a ride to our place, and the road wasn't exactly paved. The ladies can't avoid making stifled screams and looks of panic as we made our way amongst potholes. The driver stopped mid-way then requested one of our companions to move to the front seats. He was a large, heavy-set man, and he muttered that he knew he was going to be noticed, what with the pedicab lurching upwards everytime it crosses a 'crater'. The smiles and giggles were later replaced by panic again as we moved on, though the vehicle didn't lurch as much.

By the second ride, everyone knew where they're supposed to be seated.

At another time, we were unfortunate to take a pedicab with a motorcycle that had seen better days. So the engine was really making a lot of noise as we went uphill, with the whole frame violently rocking each time we crossed uneven sections in the road. His loose change were also flying all over the place onto the road, which he didn't seem to mind! We clung on to dear life, and the ladies said, 'Mama, baba nalang kami!' ('We're getting off!'), and they were already trying to get out while the pedicab was still running. And some of us walked the rest of the way uphill while the pedicab moved on, stopped at the levelled, concrete road, and waited for us.

The weird part is, we nevertheless used the pedicabs on our trips from the resort to the beach and vice versa for the duration of our vacation. Must be because we got so tired walking around buying pasalubong and food that we momentarily forgot how it was to take a ride until we were already on the uphill climb.

Or, it might be because we had no other choice. :-)

06 November 2004

Little Christmas tree, no one to buy you, give yourself to me ...

Finally! The decoration has been adorned with trimmings. The most difficult part of the process was making sure the ribbon spans the entire length of the tree, and that the Christmas lights should also adequately cover the tree. We did not put that many lights in it; I used 5 cords of lights with 100 bulbs each, totaling 500 white, steady lights.

The fun part was putting in the balls, icicles, poinsettias, and the Looney Tunes figures. I still have M&M characters but my wife said the tree is already over-decorated. Hmmm... I'll sneak in a couple of these figures every night until they're all hanging on the tree... hope she doesn't read this ...

05 November 2004

It's Christmas time in the city ...

I have finally put up the Christmas tree in our living room. And since it is rather humongous in size, I really can't put it anywhere else other than under the stairs, as it has been for the past two years. I was supposed to buy a smaller one but when I went back for it that weekend, it was already out of stock! I didn't want a smaller one, so I took this tree.

Whoops! Looks like I underestimated the size! As you may have noticed, the tree goes way up into the ceiling! There's a crevice underneath the staircase, so the tip of the tree rests nicely in that little hideaway. My wife actually asked me where we were going to put the star. Was that a trick question? Perhaps at the top of the staircase then? Hmmmm ....

As a kid, putting up the Christmas tree was always memorable. Our tree then was only 1/4 the size of what I have right now. And prior to the "pine tree look" trend, our original Christmas tree that only had thin strips of twisted aluminum for branches, and everything was aluminum. We'd wedge it into a can with stones in it and decorate the can itself with Christmas wrapping paper. And then we had these plastic ornaments that looked like chinese lamps. I remember we'd cut strips of colored paper, interloop them up then paste two ends and voila! A nice garland for the tree. We also hanged candy canes and assorted sweets, which invariably disappear faster than you can say, "holy guacamole!". Our parents didn't mind what we hung on it, which made it really fun. We even made our own Christmas lanterns out of Japanese paper and bamboo sticks!

From our home to yours, advance Merry Christmas!

04 November 2004

Sayote or Papaya?

What shall we have for lunch? Tinola!

M-mmmm! Tinola is certainly one of my favorites. And Babes (a good friend) definitely makes one of the best-tasting tinola around. She made one unforgettable meal last year in Baguio, and we wanted her to do it again in Boracay. And so we were treated with Tinola for lunch!

Tinola is a local recipe with chicken as its main ingredient, swimming in a chicken soup base along with dahon ng sili (leaves of the pepper plant) and either papaya or sayote. Tinola is so loved that it is even mentioned in one of our National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal's writings.

Coming from Baguio, I have acquired the taste of sayote in tinola, with its sweet taste wonderfully enhancing the overall aroma and taste of the dish. And to complete the experience, we have some patis (fish sauce) to dip the chicken and sayote on.

Others, however, prefer the papaya over sayote. If you have a preference, you will immediately notice which was used on first bite, even if the two look very similar. Hmmm... what's the english term for sayote, anyway?

By the way, don't be offended if we Filipinos suddenly spoon-up the soup and pour it all over the hot, steaming rice. Or, horror of horrors, pour seasoning onto the chicken and veggies on our plates! The dish may taste prfectly fine, but we do love putting seasoning on anything! It's completely normal.

So here's to tinola no matter which vegetable you prefer it with!

03 November 2004

X2 United Surprise!

A colleague bought me an original X-Men 2 DVD as a present from an unclaimed Kris Kringle gift of two Christmases ago. It's one of the movies I really love and having the original DVD, along with the bonus disc, is a special treat.

When I played the disc last night, I was in for more surprise. Included in the subtitles is Tagalog! Wow, how cool is that?!

We tried the Tagalog subtitle and was pretty amused by the interpretation. Pretty accurate, though. However, I found it quite a challenge to read through the subtitle, and made it actually difficult to understand the movie. So after around 15 minutes, we switched off the subtitle.

Nice touch though. It means Tagalog (or Filipino, as is now officially known as our national language) is finally being recognized worldwide. Must be because you can spot a Filipino in virtually every corner of the globe.


Reality check

Here's a sampling of how it is to go back to work after a long vacation:

When I arrived yesterday at work, there was already a meeting ongoing for the School of -hack (a two-week technical training we are organizing). My colleagues were threshing out the details and accounting stuff. So I joined in the meeting to see how things are, and help out in the action items.

At around 11, I was finally able to properly sit down at my cubicle and check my e-mails. 280 in all! I had barely sifted through the spam when the head of the Golf Organizing Comittee went to my place and started discussing details. Thank goodness some of the work had already been done by the other people here in Marketing (there's 3 of us). However, there was still much to do, and we found ourselves having lunch outside and promptly going into golf shops looking for prizes.

The afternoon was pretty much the same, with me juggling details for the School of -hack, the Golf Tournament, our sponsorship for a conference, an upcoming Cisco Systems seminar, answering business e-mails, and I haven't touched the Christmas giveaways yet!

Which is why I am writing this entry at 1:31AM because I'm not yet finished with the major re-arrangements of our living room. Plus I had to fetch Blackie (the car) at 12:30AM from my friend's parking space where we stayed for the duration of our vacation.

Inspite of this, I am quite happy the vacation pushed through for a much-needed relaxation, and I also received great news which I cannot divulge right now, but is definitely a cause for celebration. Nope, I'm not being promoted to VP for Marketing, if that's what you're thinking ...

A very long day it has been ... time to sleep ...

01 November 2004

Star Struck

My star-struck wife was all excited when we got home because she wanted to have these photos with celebrities blogged. So here it is! First photo is with Acoustic Performer Nyoy Volante (with an inset of his performance at Pier 1), the next one below is with Randy Santiago, who was celebrating the opening of Ratsky at Station 1, and finally, with actress Claudine Barretto.

The other two gorgeous ladies in the photos are friends Honey and Babes.

We also saw a bunch of other celebrities. The ladies went ga-ga over Mark Nelson, while we guys oggled over Ms. Katya Santos. We also saw Gwen Garci and Jen Rosenthal. Tuesday Vargas was also there, as well as the beautiful Bianca Araneta. *Sigh* we weren't able to take photos. Sayang!

And then there was Dennis Padilla with the kids; they had snacks in the same place we were taking a break from shopping. Of course we didn't ask Mr. Padilla for a group photo, dyahe naman, he's spending time with his family.

Raymart Santiago was in the Ratsky opening as well. And finally: Ms. Sunshine Dizon was in the same flight as we were in going back to Manila.

Each encounter was followed afterwards by commentaries on who was with them and who's supposed to be with them, etc. etc. Made me feel like I was watching a Talk Show! ^-^

Fun under the sun

I wasn't able to blog as was originally planned, but we're back in Manila safe and sound to surprisingly non-traffic roads (this is my first time to spend All Souls Day on Manila in ten years of residing here).

We spent our vacation in Boracay! It's so nice to be back after two years (we spent our honeymoon here, and wanted to go back ever since). It still amazes me how the find white sand is cool to the touch even under the blazing afternoon sun. And the sunset is as breathtaking as ever!

And of course there's the customary shopping for pasalubong (although this time it was more controlled because I was with an auditor ^-^), and we had a couple of night-outs and met some really cool celebrities! I'll add those posts in later.

26 October 2004

Feels like a Friday today. Lots of work still left unfinished, but my boss permitted me to have a break from tomorrow til Halloween! Yipee! When I get back, I'm sure to have tons of paperwork on my table. Until then, I'll make the most of my vacation.

My wife said I should bring my laptop along so I can blog. I'll write about where we'll be!

25 October 2004

Ohayoo Gozaimasu!

Japanese pop culture has a huge influence in my life.

My childhood memories are filled with days watching Voltes V (let's ... volt ... innnn!), Daimos (Richaaaard! Erikaaa!), and the other 70s super robots. And when those were banned by then-President Marcos with a generous serving of Martial Law, we were treated to less hack-and-slash anime (Japanese animation) such as Ron-Ron the Flower Girl, Nobody's Child, and Candy Candy (girly stuff ^-^). Our school stuff proudly displayed these characters. And then we had Bioman, Ultraman, and other sentai shows in the 80s til the present.

And who doesn't know Godzilla?

It wasn't only TV shows that the Japanese has so influenced my life. In my college years I got infected with the green thumb my parents were naturally endowed with (my mother loved flowering plants, while my father favored vegetables). I helped out in taking care of my parents' small garden, and planted a few of my own, including a prickly pear cactus (which grew quite well and I remember this because I was a victim of its thorns). But what I really became passionate about was bonsai. They grew (or didn't grow; they're supposed to be miniatures!) quite well in the pleasant Baguio climate.

And when I became a taxpayer, I became transfixed with buying action figures of the anime kind. This went on for quite a while, to a point that I no longer have any decent place to display my purchases and are thus scattered everywhere.

I also like Japanese food. Sashimi, Sushi ... as long as they're not the adventurous kind. It's great to have Beef Misono or Shrimp Tempura instead of burgers for a change. Oishi!


These days, I have considerably mellowed down on my cravings. Save for the food. But every once in a while, I'd catch a glimpse of an anime series I really like and purchase a couple of memorabilia (like those from Gundam Wing Endless Waltz and, more recently, Zoids due to their excellent mecha designs). Yeah, that's every once in a while. Japanese video games are also top notch. I'm currently playing Final Fantasy X (for the second time, for the heck of getting the secret characters) on PS2.

Oh, by the way, Christmas is coming up, so I hope you now have ideas on what I like (hint! hint!). Arigato Gozaimasu!

22 October 2004

With all my heart

I woke up late this morning.

I have this "5 minutes! 5 minutes!" syndrome actually. When I first saw the clock registering 6:00AM, I said to myself, I still have an hour's worth of sleep! So sleep I did. And the second time I woke up, my wife was already getting out of bed. My Gulay! It's already 9:00!

Well, waking up late has its disadvantages, the most obvious one being very, very late for work. I cannot do anything more about it, so switch on the TV I did. National Geographic Channel. Wow, it's been quite a while since I last watched National Geographic.

The scientists were studying bears in hibernation. Interesting stuff. They were able to discoverwhat triggers hibernation. It is actually a molecule in the bloodstream which, when triggered, causes the heart to slow down dramatically and metabolism almost to a halt. They are now capable of synthesizing this molecule, and has been found to work for mice and monkeys. They hibernated even though they don't do this in their normal state.

To make the long story short, helpful applications have been found for this. In the show, they operated on a pig (the pig's heart is larger in size and is anatomically similar with human's). They removed the heart, inserted tubes into it, and let a transparent blood substitute (like water) flow through it. The synthesized hibernation substance was also mixed here. A little electric jolt and it pumped! It was weird to see the heart pumping like that outside a body.

With the hibernation substance, scientists can lengthen the life of organ donations as it is transported for use. Normally, after 6 hours, the organ will no longer be of any use to anyone. With this breakthrough, they can lengthen this time to 18 hours!

Another application: people who are also injured (such as in a battle) can also be put into hibernation so their chances of being saved as they are transported to a hospital becomes much greater. People on the operating table can also be put into hibernation mode, resulting in lesser loss of blood and higher chances of recovery.

And because the pig's heart is anatomically similar to humans', it is highly possible that this can be a substitute for the human heart. That will certainly give the phrase "I love you with all my heart" a whole new meaning.

So the question now is: Do you also have the "5 minute" syndrome like I have? And while pondering on that important question, maybe you can also add this question: has science gone too far?

21 October 2004

Conversations with a Taxi Driver

Taxi fare has increased last week from a flag-down rate of P25.00 to P30.00 and metering charge from P2.00 to P2.50.

Manong is from a local dialect in the northern region of the Philippines which basically means "big brother" but is generally used to address men older than you are.

This is my third time to ride a taxi ever since the fare increased. I basically wanted to know how much it will now cost me to hire one to go to work. So here goes the story.


Me: Manong, this is the third time I have taken a taxi, and so far all of them haven't had their meters adjusted yet.

Manong: There are lots of taxis here in Manila. More than 5,000 of them! The Land Transportation Office is prioritizing the big taxi companies, then us next.

Me: So how do you go about the fare increase?
Manong: Our boss said to wait it out for a few more days. There was an announcement
to have meters issuing receipts installed as well so instead of having to go to LTO twice, we'll just do it one time.

Me: But the receipt thing was announced months ago!

Manong: Yeah I heard there are still some issues about it. But that's our boss' stand.


Manong: You know what? It's the people who are well-off who find it difficult to part with extra cash on top of the metered payment. These people can afford to eat 4 to 5 meals a day and yet they are so stingy with giving tips to taxi drivers.

It's the average person who would usually leave us the change. For example, if the fare is 42 pesos, they give us 50. The rich people will take the change even if it's a measly 5 pesos.

Me: (must be why they're so rich)

Manong: Also the Chinese, Koreans, and the Americans. They will insist on paying the exact fare.

Me: I guess it's their culture.

Manong: You know this increase in fare? It's not really that significant. Only the fact that the value of the peso has really depreciated so much.

Before, the amount we pay for 5 liters of gasoline will now get us a little over 2 liters. That's how much the peso has depreciated.

Me, with forehead creased: Really manong? (I remembered the many times I can't bring my car because I had no money to pay for the gas and parking).

Yup. Look, when the flag-down rate was 25, many people generously give the loose change. Now that the rates are up, do you think people will still let go of the change? Nope. So roughly, things would still be the same in terms of the amount of money the driver makes.

However, the money that the driver brings home is now lesser. If he brings 700 pesos before, now he only has 400 pesos or lower. Why? Because it goes to gasoline and boundary ('quota' you give to the taxi owner).


And that, is the sad state of mathematics in the taxi industry.

20 October 2004

Dinner fun

My wife was not feeling well yesterday. It's not really that serious, but I didn't want to aggravate it, so I volunteered to do the groceries after work. So off I went to Landmark at 7PM. Wow, it's been quite a while since I did the groceries. I've forgotten certain sections. I remember vividly, however, where the chips and dips, ice cream and sandwich spreads can be found. Ah, my favorite spots! I had trouble locating, however, the canola oil, laundry soap, and the other things I was really supposed to buy. But since I was there already, I might as well add in my favorite spanish sardines and canned tuna :-).

I also bought cooked food for our dinner. It was already closing time when I checked out, so McDonalds and KFC were selling the remaining food on the counter. I wasn't going for that, so instead I settled for Binalot!

Binalot simply means "wrapped" in English. This meal is wrapped in a traditional, no-garbage, back-to-nature, organic packaging. Banana leaves! My wife was delighted when she saw our dinner. She said when she was in grade school in Quezon, they would wrap their baon with banana leaves. This was the practice too for folks in the provinces, especially those working the fields. Their wives would arrive during lunchtime, a woven basket in tow. Then the meal inside would be separately wrapped in banana leaves. They'd simply sit under the shade of trees eat with their hands. There's actually a restaurant here in Manila where utensils are not a necessity to have your meal. It's aptly named Kamayan, which means 'by hand.'

Unwrap the packaging and the fragrant waft of the heated banana leaves mingling with the food will greet your nostrils. Inside you get an abundant serving of rice, viand, a tomato, and half a red egg. The pickled garlic (it's colored red, used in Japanese shops) came from our ref :-). One meal costs an average of 65 pesos. Not bad for a full meal!

The one in the photo came with pork chop. The other two sets I bought was with adobo (pork cooked in soy sauce) and skinless longganisa (a form of sausage). Yum Yum!

19 October 2004

Putting order back into chaos

How long has it been since our general cleaning? A week?! Wow, that long, huh? Time for a major overhaul!

Ta-daaa! A few days' work and my desk is back to its usual orderly self!

18 October 2004

Sing that again?!

At a noontime TV game show awhile ago:
Host: "Sing 2 or more lines from the song "Last Christmas" by the 80's group Wham!"

Bzzzzzzzz! (contestant pounding on the buzzer)

Contestant: "I'm dreaming of a LAST CHRISTMAAAASSS ..."

Sweet and Spicy

Speaking of sweet things, I am fond of these spicy seafood thingies that can pass off as candy, appetizer, or it can also be eaten with rice. I bought three containers at 100 pesos last weekend. Shown in the photo is the spicy red herring (or tuyo in Filipino). I like the spicy squid better because of the taste of the squid mingling with the red thing that makes the treat spicy. This is acutally sold in sari-sari stores, with the itty-bitty squid meat skewered into a toothpick and everything is coated with that red stuff.

But there was no squid available, so I settled for this and a couple of anchovies. The taste? It's sweet and just mildly hot. Crunchy too! Great with vinegar (with some crushed garlic thrown in). My wife and a friend helped in consuming the anchovies while watching Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban DVD last weekend. Yum yum!

15 October 2004

A sugary snippet

It's 2:51 PM and I haven't had my lunch yet. It's because I now eat rice meals for breakfast most of the time, and the serving is what my wife usually gives me for lunch too. So come lunchtime, I do not feel that hungry at all.

So about 25 minutes ago, I dropped by our pantry to make myself a nice cup of coffee and munch on the sugar-coated pretzels my wife packed up for my merienda (mid-afternoon snack). Ack! No sugar! No problemo. I dumped coffee, creamer, and whatever was left of the sugar into my cup of hot water and went back to my cubicle.

I was going to write invitations to potential guests for our Network Security Seminar, when an article on a wife-swapping Reality TV show caught my eye. Hmmmm.... that's interesting. I could use a break. So read, munch and slurp I did. The coffee was a bit bitter but it was ok.

I finally got down to the last of my sugar-coated pretzels and I felt a modest amount of sugar granules in the packet. So ends my breaktime. I tossed the packet into the trash and at the same time this flash of idea went off in my head. I needed that sugar for my coffee! Time seemed to go on slow-mo as I tried to catch the prized packet in mid-air, only to see itself fly past my outstretched hands into the yawning trash bin. 3 points.

Moral of the story ... I haven't got one yet ... but the coffee seemed to turn more bitter at the last gulp ...

14 October 2004

It's Christmas time in the city ...

It's the middle of October and Christmas is in full swing! Where else in the world is the Christmas season celebrated when the 'ber' months start? Only in the Philippines. Christmas carols are played as early as September, and decorations mingle with Halloween costumes come October.

We will bring out our Christmas tree this coming weekend. That tree has an amusing story. A couple of years ago, I shopped for a tree at Landmark. I saw this perfect tree for the living room at a little over 5 feet. But when I went back with a friend that weekend, the tree of that size was sold-out! We then settled for the next height, at around 7 feet. I guesstimated the living room can accomodate such a tree.

So imagine our perplexed looks when the tip of the tree touched the ceiling. It was a couple of inches higher than the ceiling. IT gave us no other place to put the tree under the staircase, and it has stayed there for the past couple of Christmases.

I don't mind having that humongous tree now. The nice part is, every year, I get to buy new trinkets to hang and it seems the tree can't get enough of it. With all the balls and thingamajigs that I have bought the past couple of years, it look like there's still room for more.

The photo above was taken last year in Baguio City. It is a nice time to be in Baguio, with its cool, crisp Christmas air and lights all over the place. I feel lucky to have spent a lot of Christmases in such a homey city.

13 October 2004

Working the assembly line

This is one of the busier activities that my team encounters in the last quarter of the year: Christmas giveaways! It might look like a lot of fun, but in reality, it's not a walk in the park. You have to think if it's something that the recipients (which are our clients) will like. And there are also certain classifications to the gifts. The request process for budget is also bloody (madugo!). Hehe. Hope my boss doesn't read this.

Anyways, when the gifts arrive, they aren't wrapped yet. So we convert our training room into an assembly line! Nagiging FW kami (Factory Worker) sa marketing department at may kasama kaming mga volunteers, ang aming mga lovable Marketing Assistants.

Actually medyo late na nga eh. These gifts should be ready for distribution by the last week of November. Hmmm... am I looking at another year of Christmas rushing? Ayoko na. When I did my Christmas rush last year, my credit card bills piled on top of each other. That is one trap I will never get myself into again.

11 October 2004

Bowling for fun

Our company had a bowling competition a couple of weeks back. I belonged to the "Prison Orange" team. So here I was in my first ever bowling tournament. My first set score was 98. The second set was a measly 87. I saw the trend and gave up my slot for somebody else for the 3rd set. Smart move: my replacement fared better than I did.

But we eventually lost the tournament and did not make it to the semi-finals. We had fun though. Isn't this what it's all about?

Huh? The price is 10 grand!?! This should have been announced earlier! Grrrrr

PS In case you didn't notice, I'm a leftie. 'La lang :-)

Is this my table?!

A funny thing (or not so funny if you think about it) happened Friday last week. My boss dropped by my cubicle to talk about a website he would like me to check. And then he went to the cubicle adjacent to me and began talking about the General Cleaning that will transpire the following day. Hmmm... I scanned my area and saw a battlefield. Was he perhaps within earshot of my place so I can take a hint? hehehe. He mentioned that all papers will be thrown out when general cleaning starts at noon.

So last Saturday, I braced myself and sorted out the voluminous papers that can be found in every corner of my desk. When I arrived this morning, I can't believe my eyes. Is this desk mine? Yup, it must be so, for I saw my humongous photo sitting near the monitor. The maintenance guys polished my desk and cabinets; it's so sparkling clean!

Compare this with my table before the clean up (click here and here).

Now, if only I can find the paperwork for the tasks I was doing the past couple of weeks ...

Pateros Catholic Church

Speaking of balut, we went to the home of this infamous delicacy last Sunday: Pateros! This was a visit to my wife's friend's kid's baptism. At the left side of the Church is an alleyway with chairs and an amusing signage.

We thought of buying balut to bring home but we were stopping by the mall afterwards and having these eggs accidentally crack wasn't a chance we were going to take. Heck, it that happened, where will we get salt to eat it with?

09 October 2004

Proudly Philippine Made

Last week there was a feature on local smiths in Pangasinan that does our country proud. Because the next time you see a movie with an epic battle involving swordfights and elaborate armoury, it may well be Proudly Philippine Made.

The weapons and armour used in Lord of the Rings, the sword of Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai, Uma Thurman's sword in Kill Bill, the Excalibur in the King Arthur movie ... these were honed in the expert craftsmanship of Filipinos.

Speaking of Made in the Philippines, have you watched Cat in the Hat? There's this box that they bring in the house that's labeled as such. Another amusing movie fact: in 50 First Dates, there's this character who's name is Ula. Incidentally, he's half-Filipino and there was this old radio program called Ula: Ang Batang Gubat. The movie's character is just like a jungle man. Rob Schneider was one funny character in that movie.

Another earthquake?!

A few moments ago, we were watching Bubble Gang when our visitor Harry alerted us to something out of the ordinary: earthquake! I shut-off the appliances and we went out. The coconut trees were swaying, and you can feel the ground sway.

Later on we learned in the news that the epicenter was in Tagaytay with an intensity 5. Metro Manila felt an intensity 4 quake.

I hope this is not a warning of worse things to come ...

08 October 2004


bal´ut n. boiled duck's egg with partially developed embryo (a native delicacy).

This grossly yummy treat was featured in a Fear Factor episode. My, my. The contestants had a grand time downing the eggs. Mahirap talaga kumita ng pera! (It's difficult to earn money!)

They say you're not a Filipino if you do not eat balut. Hmmm. I only eat the yellow, soft part and the white, hard part. I leave the eating of the poor ugly duckling to my companions.

Since I eat only half of the balut, does that make me half-Filipino?

05 October 2004

Wonder Woman ... all the world is waiting for you

We just finished watching Disc2 of Wonder Woman. Laugh trip! No offense to Wonder Woman fans (we love the series too!), but the plots were really amusing. The setting is the cold war era, and the U.S. gets threats from Nazi Germany. What's funny is that in the two episodes whose stories are independent of each other, the Major always got caught by the enemy in circumstances that are so easy to avoid. And since Wonder Woman has lots of love for the major, she rescues him. Wonder Woman, unfortunately, also gets caught in both episodes. It's like the story writers were following only 1 formula for the plot!

The wacky part in episode 2 is, Wonder Woman is captured and brought to Germany. The Major goes to Germany courtesy of their underground movement to rescue her. But Wonder Woman escapes and flies back to the U.S. while the Major is caught by the thugs. So now she learns that the Major was a captive in Germany and she thus flies back to rescue him. Aarrgh.

Question: How did the Major become a war hero when he gets so easily captured? It really boggles the mind.

I guess it's a sign of the times. Audiences before were easy to please. The plots were simplistic. Today, computers and radical minds have changed the way even TV shows are made. One thing hasn't changed though. After over 20 years, Ms. Lynda Carter still captures the image of Wonder Woman as we know her.

And yep, I'll still buy the other episodes.

04 October 2004

Hearing mass in - - - by Fr. - - -

Here is a classic example of my forgetting names. My wife and I have been going to this particular Church in Makati for the 8PM Sunday mass most of the time, but I can't remember the name of the Church and the name of the priest! But I can remember vividly how the Torones back in senior high school tasted like! Yikes, meron kaya akong Alzheimer's? Kasi parang yung childhood memories lang naaalala ko! Waaaah!

Anyways, this particular priest always has something interesting up his sleeve to make the homily interesting. Last night he asked two kids to the front and did some small talk, as well as what they'd pray for. And he gave them treats afterwards. Then he talked about the homily in connection with his example. At another time he posted by the altar table a huge '1 + 1 = 3 ' sign to talk about the Holy Trinity.

This priest makes the homily interesting and we, in turn, don't mind at all going to the 8PM mass to hear mass. The 6:30 PM mass is in Filipino, which I find myself translating in English in my head so I can follow. This is so because back in grade school til college (at Saint Louis University), we heard mass in English.

In the Baguio Cathedral, there's also an Ilocano Service (Ilocano is the local dialect). I do not speak Ilocano (sheepish grin) even if I was born there and lived practically my entire life. And that. my friends, is another of my idiosynchronies.

I remember yesterday, the world was so young ...

 Posted by Hello

I was all smiles last night. Why? Because my wife and I bought something from our childhood: Wonder Woman!

Well, it's the VCD for Episodes 1 and 2 of the TV show actually. Readers from other countries might not be familiar with the VCD format; suffice to say that it's a precursor of the DVD.

When the opening song blared on the speakers and the cartoony stars splashed on the screen, I was transported back in time. It's one of the few shows we were able to watch in Channel 9 because it did not conflict with the Basketball schedule. The photo above was taken from here. Turn up your speaker volume if you want to hear one version of the show's theme song!

It's funny that I remember Wonder Woman having a sidekick (Wondergirl); I have such a poor memory that I only remember bits and pieces of things. I am also very poor at remembering names, so pasensya na po if ever I do forget yours when we meet. :-)

Anyways, ang ganda talaga ni Lynda Carter! She's really gorgeous, even with those exaggerately-huge spectacles on.

Watching Wonder Woman brought back memories of other things I was fond of when I was a kid. Eto po ang mga nami-miss ko:
1. Nintendo Game and Watch - yup, I grew up playing with this nifty electronic toy. Back when it was popular, you can rent one by the hour! We used to visit a house nearby, and they would have a tray with lots of Game n Watches. Simply pick out what you like and play the time away.
2. Dungeons and Dragons - the cartoon show. It was my introduction to the world of magic and RPG. Kasama na rin dito ang Macross.
3. Saturday Fun Machine - tambay sa bahay buong umaga ng Sabado sa harap ng TV!
4. Bioman and Kyodyne - tama ba yung spelling nung huli? I remember the latter because I was bedridden for quite some time and this show kept me company. They ate through a siphon that's attached to their stomach. Plus they have TV monitors showing their human faces when they get their mask off. Wierd huh?
5. Hiking - from our home near Burnham Park to Camp John Hay, Imelda Park (now Botanical Garden), Hyatt (now gone with the 1990 earthquake)... basta lakad kami ng lakad. I have grown so accustomed to walking that even today, I'd keep a steady pace and unknowingly outwalk my friends (maghintay ka naman!)
6. Torones - a small block of candy similar to Tootsie Roll that tastes like Peanut Butter. It was sooo popular in my high school days that we even had an unofficial Torones Club. Add to that the Haw Flakes, a sweet Chinese concoction that we shared a-la communion.
7. Just being in the 80's was one heck of a party!

Aaargh. I have to get out of this reverie. Trabaho muna! Back to work!

30 September 2004

I'm the color blue!

You're the color blue. You have the three c's in
life--you're cool, caring and confident.
Trustworthy and honest, people are naturally
attracted to you. You're unusually optimistic,
but that makes life all the better. You're an
imaginative person who loves sleeping and
dreaming. Hard-working and determined, you
excell in school. You're everybody's favorite,
and this is because you have this undefined
richness in your personality and attitude.
Mild-tempered and stable. Not to mention very
intelligent. Along with the fact that you're
conservative, you're worried about the
environment. So basically, you're a generous,
dependable and devoted--just the kind of person
everybody needs. Wouldn't it be great if
everybody in the world were like you?

What color are you? (Amazingly detailed & accurate--with pics!)
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