29 September 2006

Milenyo aftermath photos

I was surprised to wake up to a sun-shiny day today. For only less than 24 hours ago, we bore witness to the power of nature as it ravaged Metro Manila! Here are some more photos as we rode back home at 4PM yesterday when the rains abated.

Coming home early gave us an unfamiliar feeling of having a lot more time on our hands. We've grown so accustomed to leaving the office after dusk that we racked our minds on what to do with the free time! We went to the malls only to find them closed for the day (like we did not expect that!), and so we decided to just go home. Voila. No electricity (like we did not expect that either!). Next best thing to do? Cook dinner! There's nothing like fried tuyo (dried fish) and dried squid, fresh tomatoes, and fried rice on a rainy, candle-lit evening!

28 September 2006

We interrupt this blog for a weather newsflash

Typhoon Milenyo is travelling at 130kph. Though not regarded as a super typhoon (which has maximum sustained winds of 180kph and above), its gustiness can reach 150kph which is strong enough to uproot trees and roofs.

Which is what's happening right now in Manila. Billboards toppling down, trees uprooted, flood everywhere! But we still managed to report for work. Eh?

So he we are, a handful of brave souls sitting in our respective chairs. Good thing there's electricity and internet. A memo was issued early this morning that those who have no urgent / emergency work need not report for work. Well, got tons to do! right after this blog (harhar).

The last time a typhoon of this magnitude hit Metro Manila directly was 15 years ago, so precautions were being put in place since yesterday.

Oh look. The streets are clean! No traffic!
Wait ... that's floodwater! No wonder there's no traffic jam today.
Water, water everywhere. Make that murky water.
An unfortunate car get crashed down with a nearby tree.
This is the sight outside our office bulding. Further off, a row of trees (around 7) were all lying on the streets.

I wonder what time we can go home. The News Bureau reported that the storm will hit 230 kph early this afternoon, making it a super typhoon!

26 September 2006

Creatures of Habit

Are there times when you automatically do something? You do not have to think to do it before doing it, and before you know it, you're doing it already. Makes sense?

I sometimes find myself pushing an imaginary pair of eyeglasses against the bridge of my nose.

Well, here's one other incident that left me dumbfounded. Last Saturday, my wife brought to my attention a problem with our electricity bill. Our landlady did not know how to charge us from her total bill. Long story. Anyways, I took our reading, our average monthly consumption, and wrote a detailed listing of the different charges and taxes associated with it.

That done, we approached our landlady to explain and pay. I did the talking which started with:
"Heto po ang computation namin. Bale kinuha ko po yung average consumption namin per month, tapos nilista ko po yung mga taxes and charges, and then ... (blah blah blah) .... ok na po?"

The landlady nodded. And so we paid and left. My wife was grinning. I thought it was because it was too easy. Then she said: "Dear, hindi nya yata naintindihan." (Dear, I don't think she understood).

"Ha? Bakit? (Why?)", I asked.

"You explained everything in english!" she said.

"No I did not!"

"Yes you did!"

"Did not!"

"Did too!"

So how did that happen? Do we think in the english language and that's what comes out when we try to explain something? Is it because when I usually explain things, it's with a customer and it's become second nature to talk that way? Strange huh?

21 September 2006

Trekking in the urban jungle (and some questions inbetween, whose answers I may never find out)

Why does the rain strike at 5PM, just when everyone gets off work?

A couple of weekends ago (Spetember 8, to be exact), heavy rains lashed the afternoon away, dashing hopes of stranded commuters to get home early or do their shopping. The rain was so strong it turned the streets into busy streams, wending their way amongst the steady build-up of cars. I wanted to go home so I can tidy things up a bit at the pad (read: laundry!) before leaving for Baguio. And so I stood by the buidling entrance, waiting for the rain to weaken. Soon enough, the rain started to die down, along with the water flowing on the streets.
I promptly put on my jacket hood, left the sheltered crowd behind, and rode a jeepney headed for Park Square 2. It was moderate traffic. By 8PM the terminal was in sight!

Where are the jeepneys when you need them?

Because I conveniently forgot that when it rains cats and dogs, the jeepneys plying our route get lazy! The line to the jeepney stop stretched all the way to the overpass, and even made a u-turn, creating a line 3 blocks long! And the jeepneys were nowhere in sight.

I called my wife and told her about the situation. It looked hopeless. I made a beeline for the Glorietta 4 Cinema. Better watch a movie and see how things are by midnight.

Why is it that when you want to watch a movie, it's already started half an hour ago?

I sat by Wendy's and promptly took out my Sudoku puzzle book. Not bad... I solved a puzzle in less than half an hour! I glanced at my watch. 9:30. The next movie is not due for more than an hour yet.

Why does time crawl so slow when you want it to fly?

Then I decided on the inevitable: walk home! It's a mere 5 to 7 blocks away. And what's that to a trekker? I looked at my office shoes. This will do, I thought. Better walk than sit here and watch time crawl by. Shopping? Not for me.

Encouraged by this idea, I started my walk. The jeepney queue was just the way I left it. Must be lots of tired feet by now. Determined, I made my walk.

And so I walked, deftly avoiding the primordial soup of disease and bacteria that tried to reach me everytime a car passed by.
Soon enough, the pad was in sight. Then whoa! The road became a river, blocking my way to homebase! I had to wait a half hour more before the hump on the road surfaced and became passable. I dodged incoming traffic (which was quite easy, as it was on standstill most of the time).
At last! got home at 11:30! Still got time to tidy up (read: laundry!) and go to the bus terminal by 1AM!

I woke up groggily at 2AM. Why do I always sleep off my extra time?

19 September 2006

Happiness is fun in the sunshine!

Days of happiness. I'm glad for Dessagirl and Sarahgirl (are you related? harhar). They celebrated their birthdays with the gang at MyLK (My Little Kitchen) in Greenbelt. We rarely get together these days, and this was indeed a nice break. To celebrate birthdays! Thanks guys.
Three lovely ladies who are incidentally Jo-Lo's godparents.
With Roger (also a good friend), Harry and Francis (also Jo-Lo's godparents!)

And today, a good friend got married to his lovely wife Raquel. Ryan Papa is someone I met in Pasay through other friends.
He's a thirty-something guy who has seen much of the world as a seaman. When he returned ra couple of months back, he said that he was going to be married. We couldn't believe it at first. But based on his stories of how much they have in common, he really has found his significant other.

Ryan is one of those well-rounded folks whose horizon is quite broad. Perhaps travel does do that to you. He has recently been absorbed in reading novels during his free time. He's one of the few people whmo can relate with the constellations when I point them out. The Big Dipper, Orion's Belt, Ursa Major. Wait, as a seaman he ought to know that. But that's beside the point.

Today he starts on another journey of life. I congratulate Ryan and Raquel on their wedding day, and Sarah and Dessa on their birthday. Life is good.

12 September 2006

Book meme by old school me

I was tagged by Wil a couple of weeks back. Since I'm on the subject of books right now, here goes...

One book that changed your life: The Bible. It was one of the books most readily available when I was in grade school, plus the school give us a copy of the King James version (the small one) at least every year. It made me realize at an early age just how diverse people are (there's a page where the John 3:16 was translated in different languages. I would stare at it for quite some time and wonder how they can read the strange characters). The old testament was chock full of wonderful stories (Daniel, Job, Moses, Noah), and it was supplemented by Superbook and Flying House on TV! I'm not a regular church-goer, but I always strive to be fair in my dealings and not hurtful to my fellow humans and non-human alike.

One book you have read more than once: That would be C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I think I have already read it about 5 times. That's even before the movie came out. I first read this in grade school too. I reviewed the book before the movie and was pleased that the movie included memorable phrases from the book.

One book you would want on a desert (deserted?) island: Hmmm... The Swiss Family Robinson!

One book that made you laugh: Kwentong Tambay by Nicanor David

One book that made you cry: A little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The Black Beauty comes a close second.

One book you wish had been written: A book with all possible origami figures in it at an affordable price!

One book you wish had never been written: Hmmm... when I sense that I won't like a book, I stop reading at chapter 1 so I don't think I can qualify a book here...

One book you are currently reading: Jack London's "Call of the Wild"

One book you have been meaning to read: Can't recall any for now.

Some links to the classics above contain the actual book, so you may want to read up and not spend a single cent at the bookstore.

I'm currently on "old school" mode, meaning I'm buying copies of the books I grew up with and re-reading them. So far I've read Heidi, A Little Princess, The Secret Garden, and all the Narnia Books. I still have quite a lot of classics to go through. I'm currently reading Call of the Wild. It's about a dog's life who's part wolf and his struggles with man and nature. There were numerous movie adaptations of this book but I haven't watched any. The author vividly describes the scenes, it's wonderful to imagine you're actually there when the wolves stalked the humans at the start, and the bustle of activity in the Indian campsites, and the hunt for meat in the wilderness.

Reading these books brings back fond childhood memories and the smell of libraries! If you're also fond of the classics, do recommend a book that I will read next!

And finally, here's a photo of my wife with guess who! This was taken during the first day of the Book Fair. He was promoting a book on Dianetics, a self-improvement guide. My wife bought a copy, and it's duly autographed. She was so delighted that she sang "Got to believe in magic! Tell me how two people find each other ... "

Whoops I almost forgot an important aspect of the tag... that is, to tag somebody else! Hmmm... I'd be interested to know what sort of books Philippines Phil and Mr. Abbey of Recycled Thoughts are into.

11 September 2006

9/11: The Philippine connection

Last night while waiting for the 11:30 trip to Manila (I was in Baguio), I watched a special ABS-CBN documentary entitled 9/11: The Philippine connection. I learned that the Philippines as a strategic setting for the plans to bomb the World Trade Center was deeper than I thought. And here's the clincher. After the ill-fated bombing, the terrorists were supposed to bomb select targets in the Philippines less than 2 weeks later! The targets: the US Embassy and the Embassy of Israel.

However, this did not materialize because the US Embassy was too far from the road; they would need an aerial assault to achieve their end. As for the Embassy of Israel, it's located in a building, making it a difficult precise target. They set their sights to other targets in other nations instead.

With their riches and determination, it would surely have been so easy for them to bomb their previous targets. Realization dawned. I work in the same building where the Israel Embassy is located...

I rode the bus to Manila with a feeling of dread. It's been five years since 9/11 but America still feels threatened. And what I have learned from the documentary did not make things easier. Suddenly the events that happened half a world away became even more personal.

A moment of silence to the innocent lives lost this day five years ago...

08 September 2006

Family fun

Last weekend was special because my wife and Jo-Lo visited Manila. Jo-Lo's godparents and our friends were also excited to see Jo-Lo, especially Ninang Dessagirl who saw him during his baptism, which now seemed like a long time ago. My wife had a business purpose as well. She bought books for the school where she works at the Book Fair (this I blogged about early on). That time, Jo-Lo had not arrived yet so we had a simple dinner date at Amici di Don Bosco in Makati.

My wife had this...
while I had this.
We topped it off with Gelato. Yum yum!

And here's some photos with Jo-Lo at Chowking!

It only seemed like yesterday when Jo-Lo sat in his big playpen. Now, it has been set aside because he kept climbing up its walls. And it's no small playpen! Now, he loves to run around and laugh and grab celphones when he sees one pointed at him taking photos!

Then that night, we watched Pretty in Pink, a DVD pasalubong by Princess Em from her recent trip to the US. Uy update naman dyan sa blog mo o! Thanks Emily! I love this movie! 80s galore!
Happy weekend everyone!

06 September 2006

Sweating it out with Sudoku

I accompanied my wife to Baguio last Sunday because she had a lot of books that we still bought from the Book Fair from different booths but each order was not bulky enough to request for delivery, so these had to be hand carried. So I was not able to report for work last Monday. Instead, we used the time to renew my passport, and my wife applied for hers and Jo-Lo as well.

The early morning saw us riding a bus enroute to La Union where the nearest Department of Foreign Affairs is. As with other government offices, this place was very modest in terms of facilities, and for instructions you need to ask the help of the security guard, or an occasional employee who were quite burdened with the workload. I rather think workload is inversely proportional to courtesy because the more work being handled by the employee, the more direct with a hint of sarcasm they tend to be with the applicants. Good thing we came dressed rather different from the others, for we did not encounter such a treatment. At any rate, kudos to the employees there who were obviously doing their best to do crowd control and at the same time efficiently serve the most number of applications they can handle.

We also had to drop by the National Statistics Office to have Jo-Lo's birth certificate authenticated. At the counter were signs where you can get certificates for birth, marriage, death, and cenomar. Uh, what's cenomar?

So there we were in this hall with no electric fan or airconditioning. It was a warm day, and we found ourselves sweating in our clothes. My wife whipped out her fan while I fished around in my bag for some books. I took the Kwentong Tambay by BatJay and gave it to my wife while I swapped between Newsweek and Reader's Digest. Yep, I have anticipated the long waits in this kind of transactions.
Mga Kwento ng Isang Sira-Ulong Overseas Filipino Worker
Soon enough, my wife was giggling as she showed me random parts of the book. That's BatJay for you. Humor in anything under the sun. If you are familiar with his blog, then you know his antics. Humor for mature audience included! We bought the book at the Book Fair and was available only in that event. It's not out in stores yet. It only has limited print so buy one when you do get the chance! It's well worth the 100 pesos.

BatJay adds:
"Karamihan ng material sa book ay galing sa blog ko - in particular, our singapore years. however, the book contains "exclusive entries" that you will not find in my blog."

So, as Manuel L. Quezon III exclaimed: "Buy na! Now na!"

And then I remembered I also brought along the Sudoku book and thought I'd try my hand in it. Basically, it's a grid with 9 squares each side, with these numbers grouped into 9s. Some of the squares are filled. It's up to you to write the missing numbers from 1-9, making sure that the number is not repeated in a row or a column, or in a group of 9. Sounds tricky? Yes it is. But when you get the hang of it, solving the puzzle is fun!

It's rather difficult to concentrate there though, due to the heat, and you have to occasionally leave your chair and join the crowd when they shout the names of those who has passed stage 1. My first set of attempts ended up in erasures and errors. But by Puzzle 5 (we were no longer in DFA), I was finally getting the hang of it and enjoyed Sudoku immensely.

Sudoku is a logic puzzle that has been popular in Japan for about 20 years already but was just introduced in our shores late last year. Sudoku means "single number".

Visit your favorite bookstore and buy a Sudoku puzzle book today. It's inexpensive, and best of all, it's fun! People unfamiliar with this will even wonder what a math genius you are as you go through the grid. But there's no mathematical computation required!

01 September 2006

Book Heaven

My wife is currently in Manila to visit the 27th International Book Fair happening in the World Trade Center in Pasay City. It was her second day there yesterday and when I was accompanying her, I kept asking her to get me something from the fair. I would love it if she got me a book on origami. She said she'll try.

She called me up at around lunchtime, and said she has a surprise for me! An origami book? I'll have to find out for myself. So right after work, I rushed off to the World Trade Center to find my surprise and roam around in the few remaining hours (it closed at 8).

I was truly delighted by my wife's surprise. An origami and papercraft book! It's loaded with work I have never tried before, plus it has paper sculpture, ideas for gift wrapping, papier mache, and even how to make your own paper! Can't wait to try my hand at the new origami stuff!

We also bought some books for baby Jo-Lo. I have been reading about this Sudoku craze from Abaniko and Owen FV so I bought a small book (only 50 pesos!) to try my hand as well. We also bought this thick Walt Disney storybook with illustrations at only 50 pesos from A-Z Marketing (distributor of Reader's Digest). We would have loved the hardbound Hans Christian Anderson story book but it retailed at 1,900 pesos.

There were lots of choices though for kid's books ranging from 60 pesos up.

Other specialty booths featured frog and human dissection figures aside from the Medical books. Interesting. Goodwill also featured fiction works at 80% off!

There's this book, City Lights, edited by Adam David (the nephew of BatJay) being sold at the PSIcom booth which my wife also bought a copy of (only 60 pesos!) I have read a couple of articles in it. If you did not read the disclaimer stating that it is fiction, you would believe that the people and events being mentioned therein are true. It's written in Filipino, so it's a pleasant change from my other readings.

My wife said she also saw a book called Kwentong Tambay by Nicanor David. Isn't that BatJay himself? Wow! Wish I can come back to the fair and see for myself. The book apparently sells for 100 pesos.

At the huge Goodwill Bookstore booth, there were these boxes which included tools for the book covering the topic therein. If it was about mixing drinks, for example, the package included a mixer. If it's about gardening, there's a pot with some seeds in it (I think). But what I got interested on was the Zen Garden box. It comes with a rectangular container onto which you put the sand, and it comes with pebbles and perhaps some other small items to have your own portable Zen garden right on your office table. It's a bit pricey, though. 1,080 pesos less 20%.

The hour and a half I stayed there was not enough to visit all the booths! Wish we can go there one last time before. The International Book Fair runs til Sunday, September 3.
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