28 February 2005

The end of the Chronicles of Narnia

I have actually finished the seven books of the Chronicles of Narnia a couple of weekends back. I went at a feverish pace through the The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair, and The Final Battle. It was, to simply state it, an excellent read.

The ending was a mix of feelings. The Chronicles conclude with a cacophony of revelry with a tinge of sadness at the end, for finally High King Peter, King Edmund, and King Lucy, who were informed before that they will never be able to go back to Narnia, but was actually able to come back, but it is due to tragic circumstances that they were able to (sorry for the spoiler for those who have to read Narnia yet, but I don't know how else to express it).

The ending read like a Chapter off the Apocalypse from the Holy Bible. And rightly so, for the Chronicles has a strong religious theme in it. All the good characters ran and flew with Aslan without ever feeling tired, and I joined them in going up the mountain, through the waterfalls, and beyond. It is a feast of the imagination. I will definitely miss dining with the leprechauns, wood nymphs and dwarves.

But, as Aslan said in the final page of The Last Battle, this is not the end, but the beginning.

The books, now guarded by Aslan himself (see photo - it's a gift from my wife years ago), await new adventurers to open its pages one more. And I eagerly look forward to watching the Narnia movie this coming Christmas holidays.

Related links: The Official Narnia Movie Website

24 February 2005

Korea Foodarama

I was invited to a sumptious lunch with 4 of my friends awhile ago. And it was a real treat because it was my first time to dine in a Korean restaurant!

Incidentally, the same is true with my 3 other companions, with one familiar with fastfood-type Korean food. Which was different from here, as we later found out.

We ordered beef barbeque, pork barbeque, and fish (lapu-lapu) barbeque, beef stew, and beef casserole, and rice for each. We were ordering randomly and chose whatever suited us (or wahtever looked nice in the photos!) So imagine our surprise when a couple of waiters arrived with thirteen shallow bowls with different small food items in them!

"Did we order these?" We asked ourselves in bewilderment.
"Sir, appetizers po", said the waiter.

Oooh. Kimchi, half crab shells, baby potatoes, dried nori, mussels (tahong), some green stuff here and there ... thirteen appetizers was a lot. And when a dish was emptied, the waiter would ask if we want some more and proceed to serve us when affirmed. This is great! And it's compliments of the place! Eating with metal chopsticks is a bit tricky, though, so some of us requested for wooden chopsticks, or spoon and fork.

Fresh cabbage promptly arrived with the barbecue, along with different sauces. The waiters then informed us that the barbecue pieces will be wrapped, along with the sauce of your choice and some spiced chives, with the cabbage leaf and eat using your hands (duh).

Then they promptly came back with the casserole ingredients. They heated up the small stove by our table and proceeded to add the ingredients into the soup base. We will still having our fill of the feast when they served us the soupy dish.

How does Korean food taste like? Well, to me, some of the dishes were spicy (but just right), while the beef stew was sweet, and the appetizers varied from nice to nah. But there were lots to choose from anyways (all thirteen of them! and these remained on our tables even when the main course was served).

After lunch, we were served melon slices and a sweet, cool, ginger tea concoction. Also courtesy of the restaurant.

Unfortunately I forgot the name of the place, but it's located at Jupiter Street near Makati Avenue. They also have rooms arranged Korean style (with the low tables and small floor pillows) by the way. Some Koreans who came in went to these rooms.

For five people served with overflowing food that's a totally unique experience, 2,700 pesos was money well spent. And now we know what to expect in a Korean Restaurant the next time! Or does the same thing happen in other, similar establishments? I mean the cornucopian serving of appetizers [with us wondering if our bill will be equally amazing :-)]. It was a pleasant lunch overall, and I definitely will go back there for a fresh dining experience with friends. Now, who wants to treat me out?

22 February 2005

Chicken feet aren't used for walking only

"Tell me who your friends are, and I'll tell you who you are."

The person who quoted this is lost in the myriad of quotable quotes that I have come across since time immemorial, but this quote certainly holds true for chicken feet.

Whoa. What's the correlation, you may ask? Well, I do believe that friends influence your preferences (and life) in many ways. Til I was in high school, I kept a rather strict diet that does not include various animal anatomy that could not be officially called "meat". But I had college friends who were "cowboys", so to speak, in that they had every imaginable thing in their menu. Including chicken feet. And in one of our morning gatherings which dragged on til lunchtime, we did not have anything ready to eat because we mostly talk and laugh and talk and laugh some more.

So the host bought chicken feet which they cooked adobo-style (simmered in soy sauce with spices). Yummy. Everybody else was eating this rather sticky concoction, so what was a person to do but dig right in? I enjoyed it immensely.

And so visits to Chinese restaurants now include the chicken feet dimsum. The "meat" is tasty, and when you get every tender morsel, out pops the small bones on a side plate.

We had chicken feet along with other dishes at Luk Yuen in Glorietta. Their complimentary soup is nice too, as well as their P15.00 house tea. The service is quick and friendly too.

I also like the century egg (many of my colleagues don't like it, so I take charge in consuming those) and the translucent white, jellyfish thingy.

But I don't think I'll be trying out fresh snake blood any time soon.

21 February 2005

Beware the sea urchin

My friend Harry and I went to Sakura in Glorietta for some late afternoon Japanese food. I am a self-confessed Japanese food aficionado, but that encounter put quite a dent to this craving for raw food.

It's not questioning the service of Sakura. In fact, they have gracious personnel, and the food did arrive promptly (a big bowl of ramen, a delicious rice topping of sorts, mixed sashimi, and green iced tea).

Well, aside from the familiar glint of white, pink and reds of the salmon, tuna, and shrimp on top of moulded rice, there was a distinct concoction of rice wrapped in nori (seaweed) and on top of this is a rather intriguing mass of goo. It reminded me of fish insides, actually.

I promptly called the waiter over.

"Boss, ano 'to?" (Boss, what's this?)
"Sea urchin, sir. Masarap yan!" (That's delicious!)

Staring at this strange sashimi, I can't begine to imagine how it tasted like.

"Sir, this increases your drive for ... you know ..." The waiter's smile finished the sentence for him. He promptly left to attend to other customers.

I picked up my chopsticks and took a teeny weeny bit on top, dipped it on the wasabi-coated kikkoman, and popped it into my mouth. At first it tasted like oysters. And then the taste became stronger, like a concentrated version of oysters and clams. I frowned.

The waiter said it's great with soy, calamansi (a small, citurs fruit), and wasabi! And he promptly brought me some. With Harry taking a video with his phone of this momentous event, I took another small sample. My face did a couple of contortions.

Later that afternoon, I felt my face go numb in the cheeks, and a bit scratchy here and there. Thank goodness it subsided later into the night. I was already planning to borrow medicine from Harry, who's allergic to these things.

That's the last time I'll order anything with sea urchin in it!

19 February 2005

a meeting of old friends

I met some old friends at the MetroWalk in Ortigas Center last night (by 'old' I mean late 90s). We planned it a couple of weeks back. I just felt that we haven't seen each other for the longest time, and soon was as good a time as any.

It was fun seeing them again. We all got together through a mailing list that was trying to achieve a certain goal. We were anime enthusiasts who wanted to bring back Voltes V on TV. It may seem a trivial thing to you, but GenXers at that time were imprressionable grade school kids who were growing up watching these and similar anime every afternoon. Its abrupt broadcast cancellation (just when there were 4 episodes left!) was something that left many wondering how it was all supposed to end.

The late 90s, 20 years after it first aired on TV, looked like the perfect time to have the entire series shown once more. That was when I first saw the power of the Internet. I stumbled across this mailing list, which was growing in the number of subscriber base. I enthusiastically joined, and my e-mails jumped to over 300 per day.

A petition was then made to re-air the entire series to a broadcast network. It was turned down. Undaunted, the petition was sent to a rival network. A couple of weeks later, we did the dance of joy as we saw the advertisements announcing the return of this series! Some members had a couple of TV guestings. We also had a well-attended grand event. We even had the voice actors join us as special guests.

Stories poured in about office executives rushing for home to catch an episode. Traffic was uncooperative at times, and they'd mumble that at least they still remember how that current episode went. Parents sung to the tune of a Japanese song to the amazement of their kids.

The last 4 episodes were to a full-length movie. We were able to get special seats in the premier and watched Voltes V on the big screen. We were kids again.

Those momentous events seem like decades ago. Within that huge crowd was a small group of friends who managed to keep in touch after all the hoopla has come and gone. I met some of them last night. We caught up on news of each other's lives. I even received a nice gift from Cherry! I love it.

Thank you, my friends. I do hope we meet again soon.

18 February 2005

My 15 minutes of fame

Please indulge me in posting this office-related article for my 15 minutes' claim to fame. Thanks!

RP firm to deploy blogging for intranet
Posted 07:11pm (Mla time) Feb 17, 2005
By Joey Alarilla
INQ7.net Infotech

PHILIPPINE systems integrator Trends and Technologies Inc. will soon expand its adoption of blogging as a business tool when it launches an internal blog network that will facilitate internal communications and enhance the intranet services available to employees.

"The final adjustments to the system are being made, and it will come out very soon. This blog is integrated into each employee’s private space on the intranet where they can also post photos and make their schedules public," Nick Ballesteros, marketing manager of Trends and Technologies, told INQ7.net via e-mail.

"We have dubbed the portal ‘Trendster,’ as it works much like Friendster. We are likewise optimistic about Trendster enhancing communications across peers and departments. For example, our business development managers plan to use their internal blog to post updates and news about their services for the consumption of the sales group. And aside from the business side of Trendster, we are confident that camaraderie between departments will also be enhanced through personal interactions. A lot of exciting things are happening here in our office, all because of blogging," Ballesteros shared.

Trends and Technologies offers a wide range of network integration services, including contact center; voice and data communications; videoconferencing; power; and network security and management solutions. It offers solutions from leading information and communications technology vendors such as Nortel Networks, Cisco Systems, and Network Associates.

The decision to implement an internal blog network attests to how determined Trends and Technologies is to embrace the medium as a business tool, following the launch of its corporate blog at http://blogit.trends.com.ph/ on January 28.

Asked to recount how Trends and Technologies developed its corporate blog, Ballesteros replied: "We had a pre-business planning meeting with our boss last December. He encouraged us to be creative in our projects and activities, and bring fun back into the marketing department. Then, in one of our brainstorming meetings, my colleague (Pauline Tana) suggested having a blog for TTI. That was a great idea!

"So last January, I included this plan in my presentation to [the] ManCom, and a lot of questions and good feedback resulted from that introduction to blogging. Our software group is familiar with blogging too, so it was not that difficult to start our weblog. They set up the layout and the graphical user interface for posting articles."

Ballesteros is the administrator of blogIT but shares the responsibility for managing and publishing the content of the corporate blog with the members of the marketing team, business development managers, and other contributors in the organization. Since blogging is still a new concept to many members of the company, he said that they’re conducting ongoing blogIT orientations.

Asked how their corporate blog has enhanced their operations, Ballesteros replied: "There are lots of activities and plans being implemented at any given time here in our office, so it was rather difficult to squeeze them in[to] our newsletter project, with its pre-arranged content and deadline of publication. Blogging solved that problem. We can publish timely information, a larger group can actively participate in the generation of content, and best of all, it’s fun!"

He added that Trends and Technologies is "very enthusiastic about blogIT as a channel for more open and closer communications with our site guests and customers."

Ballesteros is also encouraging other Philippine companies to embrace blogging, though cautioning them against possible pitfalls.

"We are excited because we are among the first organizations here in the Philippines to embrace blogging as a business tool, and I do encourage other businesses to set up their own blogs, be it for internal use, or for their customers, or both! However, this new ‘source of freedom’ has another side of the coin, so to speak. There have been news articles of bloggers [ending up on the hot seat] because of articles that can be detrimental to their business (such as that of the Microsoft employee posting a photo of Mac deliveries in their office). Which also makes me very cautious about posting business-related matters in my personal blog.

"So before starting a business blog, make sure that the rules and guidelines have been made and communicated properly to everyone, including employees keeping personal blogs. It may look restrictive (and even obvious, such as the prohibition of profanity), but it will be for the best of everyone in the long run.

"Also, the business blog should be honest about its goals and objectives. Visiting bloggers are smarter than others credit them to be, as can be attested by a certain car manufacturer that tried to promote its cars in the guise of a supposed teen-age blogger (He is referring to Mazda’s ill-fated attempt--Ed.). Their ploy was revealed when this alleged blogger started posting ads that were normally beyond public access. Increasing speculations closed down that blog," Ballesteros said.

In the end, like any other tool, blogging can be good or bad for business, depending on how a company uses it. Yet as more individuals and companies start embracing blogging, the question for Philippine firms might soon be: Will you wait for competitors to begin their blog before you launch yours?

E-mail the author at joeyalarilla@gmail.com

16 February 2005

Our country in the eyes of travellers

Mr. Abbey's post related to the Valentine's Day bombings (entitled Dark Shadows on a Beautiful Country) brought to mind a visit from a fellow Filipino who works in another Asian country but frequently travels to other parts of SouthEast Asia as part of the business.

We talked about his experiences in the other countries. And he declared that if we think corruption is rampant here in the Philippines, think again. The other countries are worse. Once when their company was trying to ship in promotional materials to one of these countries, the customs department there was demanding that they give the equivalent of half of the customs duties as grease money, plus they leave half of the shipment with them! It was unbelievable.

He believes the reason why corruption is widely publicized here in the Philippines is also inherent in us: we love rumors and publicity. Proof: here in the Philippines, we see Showbusiness news as part of a current events news format. The newscasters would be reporting about the President's exploits one minute, and in the next we learn who the love team of the decade is! Likewise, reports of corruption in the government and in other areas of business get a lot of hoopla and fanfare. Outside news organizations pick this up and it spreads like wildfire.

He also mentioned one crucial thing: the people love their nation. Go there, say something against their government and you'll wish you never stepped into their country. But here, we can lash out at our government and give the media something to put in the headlines.

But that's just what we really are. Filipinos are emotional. When we care, we show it. When we hate, we show it.

We are also the friendliest. Our visitor did not need to say that for me to know it. I've had first-hand accounts of other Asians giving us the cold shoulder when we asked for directions as tourists in their country. Here, people would try their darnest to help out, even if giving directions in English meant they have to think really hard how to say it, or enlist somebody else who can.

We have a beautiful country. We have beautiful people. The corrupt and the terrorists do not belong here!

A bloody Valentine

I swear I didn't have anything to do about the bombing yesterday. When I wrote about the tragic Pyramus and Thisbe story, it was because I love mythology. And greeting a commenter a bloody valentine, that was a joke.

We had friends who visited the house, and we had a grand time chatting about things other than the bombing. We got wind about this tragedy early on, but it must not have registered strongly to us at that time. But when we were already in bed at 11:30, we switched on the TV to catch the late night news. Around 3 people dead and over 90 people injured. The names of the people were being flashed at the bottom of the screen while images of the bomb site occupied the rest of the screen.

It was a disaster. The bus was a skeleton of its former self. A victim was burned so badly it was difficult identifying her. Two explosions were identified that decimated the bus. I read aloud the names of the people displayed, trying to see if we know anybody.

I have Muslim friends as well, but they certainly do not reflect the ideals these Abu Sayyaf (who claimed responsibility for the bombings) represent. My friends want peace. We want peace. Hurting and killing innocent people, and hurting the nation is not helping anybody. Not their ideals, not everybody else's quest for peace.

14 February 2005

Pyramus and Thisbe

[Photo from Art History at Loggia]

Pyramus and Thisbe is a greek love story. Or should I say, a Greek tragedy. And is one of the love stories that struck me as sweet as it is sad in my high school years. It also explains why the mulberries, which were once snowy-white, became red as blood.

Pyramus was a handsome boy, and Thisbe a fair maiden in the olden days of Babylonia. They were neighbors, and as such they made their acquaintance and eventually fell in love. But their parents forbid their seeing each other, much less get married, for their clans have been "at war" for the longest time.

But their love cannot be dissuaded. Their houses had a common wall between them, and interestingly, they discovered a crack here. Love finds a way! They cannot meet, but that crevice provided them a channel to communicate their heart's desires.

And thus they grew tired and weary of their imprisoned emotions. Til one day they talked through the wall and planned of their departure from their homes. They talked at great length, with only the wall as their testament to their secret.

They impatiently waited for dusk to arrive, and when her family has slept, she covered her head with a scarf and stole away to their rendezvous point outside the town proper, beside a monument, near a bush loaded with white mulberries.

She arrived first. While waiting anxiously, she saw movement nearby, and was seized with terror. For bathed under the moonlight was a lioness fresh from the kill, with blood still dripping from her mouth, and crossing her way to a water fountain. She fled and hid among the rocks not far away.

The lioness made no pursuit, as she was still contented with her recent exploit, but proceeded to play with Thisbe's shoal. It was torn to pieces, with the blood staining it everywhere. Then she left to find water.

Pyramus shortly arrived, panting for breath. His eyes widened at the sight of the lion's footprints. He rushed to their intended meeting place and saw the scarf, all torn and bloodied on the ground. He was filled with anguish and blamed himself for his loved one's death. He carried the scarf near the mulberry bush, hugged and kissed the scarf, and in his anguish took out his knife and stabbed his heart. His blood stained the scarf and the mulberries, coloring these red. And his blood soaked the soil and reached the roots of the mulberry plant.

Thisbe, who as still in hiding at this time, was fearful of the lioness, but she was even more fearful of not seeing her loved one. So she bravely went back to the monument. She was perplexed at first, and feigned she might be lost, seeing that the mulberries were no longer white, but a deep red. Then she suddenly saw Pyramus struggling in agony underneath the bush. She cried and wrapped him in her arms. She saw her torn scarf, and the knife to his heart. She realized what had happened. She called his name; Pyramus opened his eyes briefly, then slowly closed it forever.

Thisbe pledged their love and though they were forced apart by their parents, she wished that they be buried in one tomb, and asked the gods that the mulberry tree retain her new color as testament to their love. Then she took the knife and plunged it into her heart.

They were thus buried in the same tomb, and the gods bowed to their wishes. The mulberries retain the same color to this day.

A meaningful Valentine's Day to you all.

11 February 2005

Not your run-of-the-mill bookstore

Finally, after a couple of days' search for The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, I found a copy from Books for Less. And this I found through the help of fellow blogger micketymoc in his comment to a previous post.

And not a moment to soon. For when I arrived there, I immediately asked the friendly people behind the counter if they have C.S. Lewis books, particularly Book2. They directed me to a table-like shelf, and I immediately saw the familiar covers. My face fell when I didn't see Book2 once again. Then one of the reps went to another section and promptly returned with a couple more. And with this batch was the one I was looking for! At only P149 pesos! Of course, it's relatively cheap because they sell not-so-new books but what the heck. A book is a book, so don't judge it by its cover. :-)


And in my search for Narnia, micketymoc also gave me something worth discovering. From the outside, Books for Less in Greenbelt looks like a nondescript, boring-looking place. But inside, I immediately felt at home. It was like visiting the National Library in Baguio, or our library back in high school.


There was the absence of heavy advertising stuff telling you to buy this and that. Just rows and rows of bookshelves neatly arranged so there is still ample space for a couple of chairs and tables. And there was also a coffee dispenser. Which led me to ask ...

"Ma'am, pwede be magbasa dito? [Ma'am may I read here?]"
"Opo (yes)", came the reply.
"Walang bayad? [No fee?]"

My face lighted up. Wow. I wandered around. Books of every topic, waiting to be read. Nice sitting corners. There's even a section where kids can read (with matching kiddie tables and chairs). It was simply relaxing. Nice, clean, quiet and simple surroundings. My kind of place.

I paid for my purchase and said I will be back. Soon.

[Aside from the Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe for my wife, I also bought Voyage of the Dawn Treader for myself. We started reading last night. It was wonderful. Books for Less Greenbelt branch is open til 9PM, and is located at the left side of Max's Restaurant]


10 February 2005

In search of Narnia

Yes, I admit it. I'm still on Narnia fever. Ever since my wife's friend found The Horse and His Boy last weekend, my free time has been converted to visits to Narnia [free time = (total time - work + blogging)]. And I do so wish my wife can keep up with me. However, she got stuck with Book1 because we do not have The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe readily available.

Last Tuesday's visit in National Bookstore Glorietta revealed that Book2 is out of stock, while the rest of the volumes are in adequate supply. Yesterday after work, I once again set for a journey to search for a copy of the elusive Book2. Goodwill Bookstore in Glorietta did not have any, which made me wonder why books, which should be shared, have become private enterprises, granting exclusivity to select establishments only. Bibliarch in front of Tower Records had this huge book containing all the volumes for around 820pesos. But I'm already in Book4; it will be foolhardy to buy this one now. Off I rushed to Greenbelt while monitoring the time. National Bookstore had two of the big books I found at Bibliarch, and an abundance of the other volumes. But not Book2! I left for home empty-handed while the stores began closing up for the night.

Aaargh. So if anyone has caught a glimpse of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, I'd be glad to hear from you.

At any rate, I finished Prince Caspian last night. Once again I got to go on an adventure with Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. They were taken back to Narnia in response to an urgent plea for help by Prince Caspian (although they did not know that in the beginning). The Narnia they grew up in and ruled has changed. The magical creatures no longer roam freely, and humans inhabit the kingdom. Stories about the Narnia of old is even forbidden.

Prince Caspian, also a Telmarine, was fortunate to have a Nanny that knew the old Narnia and told stories about the Kings and Queens, of Aslan, and of the Talking Animals and Trees to Caspian before bedtime. But when Miraz (the alleged King of Narnia) learned of this, he terminated the service contract of the Nanny and assigned a Tutor, who unbeknownst to him, as half-Dwarf. And so begins Prince Caspian's story in righting the wrongs and bringing Narnia to its majestic self.

I read the book in the course of three days. I wished it did not end so fast. For the story reveals that some of the characters will no longer be in the storyline in the succeeding books. At any rate, I'll be off with the Dawn Treader, the 5th Book, soon enough.

09 February 2005

get google mail!

I have invites for Gmail to give away! Those who want one, please visit this link and follow the simple instructions.

08 February 2005

blogIT: a company weblog

Just dropping a note here to inform visitors that our company blog, blogIT, is now online.

I work at Trends & Technologies, whose primary service is Systems Integration (data and voice systems). We will be discussing the following in blogIT:
- I.T. topics which will (hopefully) be understandable in layman's terms. Topics include network security, wire and wireless connectivity, conferencing, among others.
- inclusion of articles from our principals;
- announcements of events and promos;
- customer success stories.

Please feel free to visit and drop us a note! And ask away if you find something of interest to you. I will be a regular contributor there as well.

07 February 2005

The Horse and his Boy: a weekend read

Like a pleasant surprise when Lucy found the Wardrobe, so did my wife's friend in discovering a book while rummaging through magazines and photos under our living room table last Sunday afternoon. C.S. Lewis' The Horse and His Boy was amongst the stack of old newspapers. The funny part is, I remember buying the book, but never reading it. And browsing through the first few pages affirmed that.

"The Horse and His Boy" is Book 3 of the Chronicles of Narnia. It recounts the adventure of Shasta and the talking horse Bree, along with Aravin (a girl of royal lineage) and Hwin (also a talking horse). This party of four were outsiders in the places they lived in. They did not belong. Shasta, who looked so different from the father that he had known since birth; Aravin, who was to enter into an arranged marriage but did not care about the royalty and wealth it entailed, and the two horses who were abducted from Narnia when they were but foals.

The journey as difficult, and each had to face their own challenges. But forged on as a team they did. In the end, each one fulfilled their aspirations, and Shasta even made a prediction come true.

It was a wonderful story. I think you'd be able to follow much of it even if you haven't read the other two books that transpire before it, though I do recommend at least reading The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Going back to the woods, dining with the elves, and going into battle was definitely exciting. I finished the book around midnight last night [finished it lying down :-)], and left me wanting to go back to Narnia for more adventures.

03 February 2005

May I quote you on that? (a case of plagiarism)

Early this year, the Philippine Computer Society launched Digital Pinay, an event that was to highlight the Filipina's increasingly-important role in I.T., a field dominated by men. The end does not justify the means, however, as the contest's underlying procedures and qualifications caught the ire of tech bloggers (check this article from Digital Life). Protests about the Digital Pinay giving more importance to beauty than brains became a concerted effort. Bloggers united (drop by Sacha Chua's blog), and the pageantry met its demise.

Another interesting issue has come up, this time hitting closer to home. Sassy's food blog was being plagiarized! Word for word! (visit the post here) Copies of recipes were being posted in kuro.ph by the Board Master (who goes by the name of Fireman) and another person named Princeedward.

Sassy's food blog is one of the many well-written and designed places where you can get your fill of Filipino recipes. The recipes are freely available for cooking at home. But lifting-off these materials and calling them your own is a shame!

Let us all support the fight against plagiarism on the net!

02 February 2005

Conversations with the Taxi Driver

I rode a cab going to work this morning, and did small talk with the 50s-something driver (although I think I read somewhere that you shouldn't be talking with the person driving the car for safety reasons :-)). After a while, he received a call from his wife and they talked in a local dialect I was not familiar with. After hanging up, his phone went dead. He proceeded to turn it on again and remarked that his phone has been defective ever since his kid playfully threw it. He then talked about his consulting somebody who repairs mobile phones and he was advised to simply replace the batteries.

"But I don't have the money for it yet. I trust the guy. If it was somebody else, they'd pretend to repair it when all it needs is a battery change," he added.

He then proceeded to tell an interesting story of how he met his friend. He was in the FTI area when he chanced upon a guy who was being held-up and was stabbed. The criminal got away, his victim slouched helplessly on the pavement. A crowd was starting to form, but they weren't doing anything to help. This driver carried the victim to his cab and drove him to the nearest hospital.

"I thought he was going to die. He was breathing so shallowly."

In the hospital, he asked for the identification of the victim and drove off to report the incident to the wife. He also escorted the wife to the hospital. When the victim got well, they searched the driver's home to express their thanks. They've been good friends ever since.


I took another cab in going home tonight. I remarked that his taxi was new.

"It is new, but the boundary is high." It was 1,560 pesos.
"This cab runs for 24 hours," he added.
"So what time does your shift end?", I asked.
"A bit later. This cab stays with me for 24 hours straight."

Whoa. That was surprising news to me. He drives 24 hours, and then another person drives it for the next 24 hours. And then it would be his turn again. He was actually able to save up and buy a tricycle. This is being used by his brother for additional income as well.

He said he has two kids. Both of them are in college now, but the younger one had to stop schooling as his eldest is now in fourth year. It is the most expensive year yet and he cannot afford to send them both to school. Aside from his family, he also supports his other siblings.

"I've been driving for seven years now, and frankly I'm getting quite tired."

But he has to go on. And you can see his resolve in getting through with life, and persevere.

01 February 2005

Constant Change

[Sarah (at the right) with some members of the volunteers for the Habitat for Humanity last 2004]

Last weekend, the Pack of Wolvers gathered for lunch at The Superbowl of China. It was a despedida (farewell) party for Sarah, who I first worked with in 2000 for less than a year, then we parted ways. She later joined our Marketing Team for a couple of years before moving on again to join a multinational firm. Always on the move, she always is.

Sarah is a burst of life. She is demonstrative of her feelings, and easily influences the crowd atmosphere. As a friend, we had a lot of fun times doing projects and being with friends after office hours, usually just to have coffee and chat, or sometimes watch movies. She was my advisor in adding color to my clothes closet which originally consisted of whites, grays, and browns.

Now, she is leaving for Singapore to mark another momentous event in her career. We will miss you, Sarah. Do come back soon.


Yesterday afternoon, I was doing some html coding to the baguio-quezon site when a Yahoo! Messenger call came in for my wife. It was Tetz! She's one of our closest friends way back in college over ten years ago (she's the one at the left in the above photo, with her sister). She's in Canada now, working to support her family, and soon, she can also pursue her personal dreams and aspirations. It is strange and interesting how our close-knit college friends of 9 have drifed in and out of our lives. One is undergoing treatment for cancer and stays in our apartment when she's in Manila; four of them are now abroad; a couple, I believe, are in Manila, but contact is nil, and another is living in Baguio. Many of us are now married.

My wife and Tetz chatted about old times and caught up on personal events. I'd sneak up a phrase or two while watching TV. It's great to learn that she's doing fine.

Sarah's leaving and an old friend catching up with us brought to mind the song Constant Change. It's a rather sad melody of having to move on just when are finally getting comfortable with where we are. But without change, I reckon things will become dull quite soon enough. So here's to life's pleasant surprises, and of keeping old friends and meeting new ones.
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