December 22, 2009

AVATAR: Poorly Written, Visually Stunning. Go Watch It

There should be two or more agenda for a visit to Gensan to proceed; I remember sharing this personal carbon footprint-lessening policy in a previous post. I am happy to note that the policy is holding. This morning, I and my small family went to Gensan to grace my inaanak's (godson) birthday. We had another purpose: watch the movie Avatar.

My 10-yo kid Anakin, who is not a fan of watching movies in theaters (he'd rather watch videos at home), was not at first keen on the idea. But two hours and forty-five minutes later, like us he came out of Robinsons Movieworld mesmerized; overjoyed by the visual feast he just went through.

Technically speaking, Avatar is a movie like no other that I have seen. To say that the visuals were outstanding is an understatement. I have heard that cutting-edge visual effects/cgi technology was employed to make this movie, ushering in a new era in film-making. I am reminded of the pioneering sci-fi's of the likes of Spielberg and Lucas in the 1970s and 80s (Star Wars trilogy, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, etc.); the ooohhs and the aaahhs of the audience awed by the never-before-seen visual FX, never mind the tunog-lata (tinny) sound reproduction of the local moviehouse.

But Avatar is no Bladerunner, the Ridley Scott masterpiece which in 1982 provided us both award-winning visual production and good narrative. Avatar's plot is just so over-simplistic. Well, I know it's simply a fantasy film, a fiction; and the bad narrative might have served the film well -- the audience gets to focus more on the enormous visual canvas, gets a thrill ride and goes out of the moviehouse smiling (even coming back the next day to watch the movie again).

But I also heard Director James Cameron and company confirming Avatar's discernible desire to get an anti-war and pro-environment message across. It would have elevated the movie some notches higher on the billboard of appreciation if the plot approximated the real stories of current advocacies in the area of peace and environment. Because these stories do not usually have happy endings.

The concept of the avatar program, I like. I appreciate the parallelism of the avatars (more that of  Grace, etal than Jake's) to the development workers of the real world. The latter (well, at least some of them; sometimes called community facilitators or community relations officers) are usually employed by institutions like government and private companies and deployed in the front lines to clear the way (diplomatically, that is) for "development" projects on the ground. They immerse with the communities, establish cordial relationships with the people, and help find alternatives for those that may be displaced by the "projects". In mining companies, they are usually the most sincere in as far as goodwill and the promise of genuine upliftment for the communities are concerned; and like in Avatar, they usually become sacrificial pawns in the arena of development aggression.

In the movie, aggression comes in the form of direct military invasion; as management of the mining company becomes impatient over the "slow" progress of diplomacy and integration as espoused by Jake, Grace, etal. This is where the movie becomes OA. The love affair between the Na'vi's Neytiri and Jake (or his avatar for that matter) is more believable than the portrayal of aggression as the unleashing of military hardware. In the real world, the more telling aggressions on the environment are done subtly and discreetly: hiding records, undervaluing compensation, legal compromises, etc. like what big business did (or tried to do) in Erin Brockovich (2000); and classic in the Philippine context, paying off people.

But I do agree that development aggression, especially that done in behalf of business, is planned; its planning based not on the preparedness of communities but dictated by markets. In Avatar, you have a "little gray rock that sells 20 million a kilo" (I presume "million" here is in dollars), what business sense is there to wait for diplomacy to fully work before you mine?

The central character of Jake Sully is lame. It does not even help that the character itself is played out as a paraphlegic marine. For why is a paraphlegic still sitting on a wheelchair in a world where technology can already make humans travel from Kansas to Pandora? Nonoy Zuniga already got his prosthetics during Marcos' time! Cameron should have built on the character of Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) and her team, if Cameron indeed wants to deliver a statement on the environment. The story of many development workers on the ground tasked to mediate between and among communities, government and private entities is represented by Grace in the movie. It is a story that does not always end happily but one that poses challenges to old premises in environmental and development advocacies.

Well maybe Sigourney Weaver already had her time with Gorillas In The Mist (1988).

Meanwhile, Jake Sully is only incidental to the whole plot. He accepts the challenge to serve in Pandora in honor of his dead brother; finds himself addicted to his avatar who can walk unlike him; is lost in the jungle while in his avatar and rescued by a Na'vi princess; immerses and learns the ways of the Na'vi people in the service of military intelligence; falls in love with the princess; changes heart and rallies the people against the establishment; eventually calls to Pandora's deity Eywa for help, which the latter heeded. The classic outsider-becomes-hero saves the day for the entire village. Corny.

But forget about the story, for Pete's sake. We all know better that war and conquest do not justify any end, and that nature does fight back when pushed to its limits; though its own viperwolves, titanotheres and thanators do not specify particular villains but rather target all humanity.

Go watch the movie for the visual carnival. To enjoy it more, watch it if you can in a top-notch theatre that offers 3D or at least a qualified surround sound. Robinsons Movieworld in Gensan is not one (at least, as of this writing).

If you work for a mining company, all the more you should go watch it... please.

December 3, 2009

Coca-Cola Tigers vs. Talk 'n Text Tropang Texters in Gensan Live!

A live PBA game in Gensan! This is certainly an early Christmas gift not only for the Generals but for the residents of the entire SOCCSKSARGEN region as well. Thanks to the General Santos Local Government and Paper View Office and School Supplies, the Coca-Cola Tigers and Talk 'n Text Tropang Texters will slug it out at the General Santos Gym in Lagao, General Santos City this Saturday, December 5, 2009 beginning at 5:00 p.m. This event is part of the official roster of big events of PASKO sa Gensan 2009.



This excites me. I have watched live PBA games back in the 1990's when I was still Metro Manila-based and there's nothing like watching in the flesh one's favorite hoop players on the hardcourt. I have since resettled back to my hometown and have completely missed all other provincial sorties of the PBA in Gensan (and in nearby cities). But I am going to make this time an exception.

What's in store for us in a Tigers vs. Tropang Texters game? Complete thrill and excitement!

One, Coca-Cola's back is against the wall. With only one won game in 10 outings so far, there's no other option for the Tigers but to shed more blood for this game.

Two, Coca-Cola may be kulelat, but the local crowd will be on its side, not only because of the Filipinos' noted penchant for the underdog, but owing mainly to the presence of local kababayans among the Tigers. Bariles of  GenSan News Online Mag informs us that besides coach Kenneth Duremdes whom everybody knows to be a native of Koronadal, there's also rookie small forward/offguard Francis Allera who is a General himself; and of course, assistant coach Dolreich "Bo" Perasol who hails from Lagao, Gensan. Now, here's a sidebar to this: Coach Kenneth has just been promoted as Coca-Cola's alternate board governor so Bo is taking over as head coach for the Tigers this Saturday and onwards.

Three, Talk 'n Text is the defending Philippine Cup champion. With prolific playmaker and shooter, Finals MVP, and current scoring leader Mark Cardona leading the team, expect a run-and-gun game from the Tropang Texters who are out to improve its current 6-4 win loss record.

Ha! I am not only going to watch Coca-Cola Tigers vs. Talk n' Text Tropang Texters in Gensan, I am going to be at courtside with my 10-year old kid Anakin, who is an NBA fanatic and who is doubly thrilled by the prospect of watching his first live professional basketball game. It's the next best thing to being at the Staples Center in LA, he says.

November 15, 2009

Manny Pacquiao: More than Firepower... Speed!



When and where was it that I last pointed to speed as fast becoming a crucial if not the most important factor in professional boxing? It was here.

You needed more proof? You should have watched the latest fight of Manny Pacquiao - probably the biggest epitome of speed in the world of professional boxing - as you should have watched all the fights of his career.

And if you are among those who were horrified by the turnout of the first three rounds of his fight against Miguel Cotto, then you are probably among the converts now joining the ranks of believers in the philosophy that speed means everything in boxing.

I predicted the fight would end in 3 rounds but I was horrified too because it was Cotto who was unexpectedly displaying the speed that I anticipated would end the fight early in favor of my countryman.

Speed, and his inherent power, Cotto was at his best in the opening round; my 10-year old kid was covering his face with throw pillow fearing the worst. The heavy downpour outside did not help any; it was as if  the heavens were saying it was going to be a bad day.

By the fourth round, however, it became apparent that speed is not a weapon that can be wielded by just any ordinary mortal inside the ring; Cotto could not anymore sustain it while Manny was just about to shift to higher gear. The fight was over by the time the Puerto Rican was floored the second time towards the end of the round.

Manny's next opponent should be someone who can employ sustained speed and power. Otherwise, consider his next fight's outcome done. Floyd Mayweather, Jr.? Yes, perfect boxer. The only problem with Pretty Boy, that makes him a unworthy opponent for Pacquiao, is he also makes use of his speed in running around the ring. Well, nothing definite on that matchup yet; we have time to train our voice boxes for those round and loud "booos" to use at fight night.

Meanwhile,  what's your take about Chavit and Che?

photo above courtesy of  yan2malagu

October 28, 2009

MBS3: Changing Mindanao



What is consistently good about participating in big gatherings of bloggers is that one always comes out from them feeling reinvigorated and re-inspired to go on blogging.

The Mindanao Bloggers Summit, the third edition of this annual convention of bloggers of/from Mindanao, had just concluded over the weekend in Cagayan De Oro City; and along with it came renewed blogging energy brought home by the close to a hundred new media practitioners who had participated, including myself.

The event was graced by the presence of various local and national personalities who took turns in delivering their respective messages drawn from the summit's overall theme of "Mindanao: Bag-uhon ang Panan-aw" (Changing the way people see Mindanao). Among the guests were CDO City Mayor Tinnex Jaraula, Agusan Representative Rodolfo "Ompong" Plaza, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (University of the City of Manila) President Atty. Adel Tamano, and U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Ms. Leslie Bassett. U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney, a blogger herself, delivered her message for the Mindanao bloggers thru video; so did Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan and former Bukidnon Representative Nereus Acosta.

The whole programme was ably emceed by Migs Hipolito.

Among the more inspiring points in the summit, at least for me, was when Atty. Tamano shared his experience in overhauling the old decrepit system that once governed the PLM university he now heads. He then went on to challenge the blogger-participants to go beyond changing the people's perception of Mindanao and strive to change Mindanao itself.

Leading movers of the blogging community in the country were also on hand to share input on areas most important to both newbie bloggers and old-timers. Google-Philippines' Aileen Apollo shared Blogging for Beginners; Janette Toral, e-Commerce guru and noted author of the blogger-must-have book Blogging from Home, lectured on Blog Advertising; and Davao blogger-nurse Lyle Santos talked about what is perhaps the most anticipated topic of the event - Making Money Online.

Also among the highlights were the presentation of updates (activities past and planned) from major blogging communities in Mindanao. Presentors were Jaime Haw Jr for the Davao Bloggers' update; Avel Manansala for the Gensan and Soccsksargen Bloggers; and Ryan Elumba for the Zamboanga Peninsula bloggers. This part was particularly interesting as every one was made to realize that bloggers do organize themselves and engage in other common activities both for purpose and pleasure, besides blogging. The bloggers of Cagayan De Oro also presented updates about their side through a report by Edu Ragpala.

For all the success that the 3rd Mindanao Bloggers Summit has achieved, one can rightfully claim that among the things that have been further underscored during the event is that blogging is fast becoming a potent tool in media; and that bloggers are a rapidly growing community that need to be reckoned with when we talk about technology growth and social transformation especially here in Mindanao.

Our hats off to the CDO Bloggers led by Chiq Montes for a successful MBS3. We sure did go home with happy memories.

Our gratitude also to the sponsors: Nokia OVI, Smart Communications, Make Your Own Havaianas, Ultracraft, 1st Rafting Adventures, OLX.com - free classified ads, Syntactics, Majesty Sales Center, Clara's Shoppe, MakatiAve.com, Asterisk Event and Communications, Loretos Bar and Grill, Rep. Klarex Uy, and the Cagayan De Oro City Government.

Towards the end of the program, Blogie Robillo, chief initiator of the Mindanao blogging community, announced the next Summit would be hosted by the Zamboanga bloggers sometime in October next year.

Kita-kita ta sa Zambo pohon!

September 5, 2009

Asia's Titanic


I have just watched a rerun of Asia's Titanic on the National Geographic Channel. It's a documentary about the tragedy of the MV Doña Paz, the Philippine passenger ship which sank off Mindoro Island on the night of December 20, 1987, after colliding with the oil/fuel tanker MT Vector.

I have watched the documentary's earlier run on NGC middle of last week, but I was still moved to view it again this afternoon; this after I learned that Asia's Titanic was in fact a Filipino production. The first instance, the only "Filipino" I felt about it was its subject and the familiar voice of actor Joonee Gamboa narrating the story. (My penchant to miss the opening and closing credits did not serve me well). I came to know later that the documentary was directed by award-winning Filipino film director Yam Laranas; its pre-production, specifically the research was done by Filipinos; its production cast and crew all Filipinos; and "even the special effects and computer graphics... are proudly Philippine-made" [PDI].  Asia's Titanic is the first major collaborative work between National Geographic Channels International (NGCI) and a Filipino production group.

Of course, the bigger motivation to watch the docu once and over again is the story itself. Asia's Titanic is about the world's worst disaster at sea in peacetime. The world's worst in terms of loss of lives on a single ship - about 4,300 souls; and perhaps the world's most atrocious given the circumstances that surrounded the tragedy.

Five days before Christmas. Nightime but clear weather. An oil/fuel tanker zigzag-ing its way because of a defective steering rudder; carrying no Coast Guard inspection papers, and sailing (under)manned by unqualified personnel. More than 4,000 passengers in a ship built for 1,500. Party on board which left the question "Who was manning the bridge?" unanswered. Raging inferno at sea. A rescue operation hatched almost half a day later. Only 24 survivors.

Asia's Titanic is told through the eyes and words of some of the survivors who have continued to struggle transcending the trauma of the nightmare of 20 years ago. Sidebars to the narrative include original footage of interviews and proceedings that dealt with the legal wranglings that followed the accident. These parts show how callous can some people get just to escape responsibility. The two times I have watched the documentary I wanted to puke on the Sulpicio Lines' (owner of  MV Doña Paz) denial that their ship was overloaded. I wanted to puke on the Philippine Coast Guard's insistence that they have done actual headcount and the count was no more than 1,500 passengers. I wanted to puke more than when I saw the graphic original footage of the retrieval of some of the bloated, decomposing bodies of the dead.

As Director Yam Laranas put it, the story of the MV Doña Paz "is a very sad story, but one that needs to be told. It should not be forgotten." [PDI}

Asia's Titanic will run again on the 28th and 29th of September 2009 on the National Geographic Channel.


August 18, 2009

Dial 117 for Directory Assistance

I have just arrived home from a trip to Gensan. I have to insert this post amidst my blog reconstruction.

I was with my ex-GF a while ago and were on our way home when we passed by this terrible road accident along the highway in Tupi. I had witnessed more gory road mishaps in the past but this one was terrible enough for me, if only because of the "117" experience I associate it with.

I caught a glimpse of what looked a wrecked passenger van resting snugly under the rear end of a ten-wheeler. I decided to stop and take a look especially after noticing people were still rushing towards the scene, which to me indicated that the accident had just happened. I just thought maybe I could help. The sky had just turned dark and we were in an unlighted section of the highway (most parts are anyway). It became a good thing that traffic was gathering as curious headlights actually provided lighting.

People were screaming about some people still pinned down under the wreckage. A mob had gathered around it and started pulling the van out using their own brute strength; to no avail.

Looking for my own place in the whole "rescue operation", I pulled out my cellphone and dialled 117, the only emergency number I could instinctively recall at that moment.

The first hint that made me think outright that it was the wrong number to dial was the very passive reception of the person at the other end of the line. I was expecting I would be systematically guided into providing all the necessary information (about the emergency at hand) that needed to be relayed; much like 911 in the U.S. (or at least by what I see and hear about it on TV). But it was disappointingly not so.

So I was forced to describe the incident by myself, after which the worse thing happened: The operator gave me a landline number to call! I could not help but blurt out a big "ha?"; and as if the situation (117 instructing me to call a different number) was not hilariously outrageous enough, the operator even "explained" the landline was the right number to call because, in her own words, "it is the number of Emergency 117-Cotabato"!

There was not much time to argue further. I dialled the number (I had to rely on my old brain cells to make the numbers stick because there was no way to jot them down); and all I got was a busy tone.

Meanwhile, people were actually dying. And if you think this was the worst thing that can happen in an emergency, think again: Having been unable to contact the "Emergency 117 number of Cotabato", I dialled 117 once again and talked to the same operator. I demanded she herself contact all the numbers she thought would be able to respond to the emergency. She replied, "Okay," and hang up on me.

photos of the accident
(viewer discretion is advised)

The van's driver is clearly seen here pinned down on his seat

People are seen here trying to pull out
the van using a small truck and a rope.

August 11, 2009

Under reconstruction

This blog is undergoing renovation... its author retooling...

August 5, 2009

Five days of "Cory 101"


I was about to post some nice (and happy)-looking photos in Facebook the morning of Saturday when greeted by the very sad news about President Cory's passing. I admit I still had to let it sink in for a while - Cory is gone. Though the worst had been expected since terrible news began leaking out from her latest hospitalization, one cannot really prepare completely for such a moment. I had to postpone the posting of the photos.

If you are wondering where the profound grief is coming from, then I conclude that either (1) you were not around in the 1980s, (2) you were but were simply a disinterested person (3) you have not been reading your history, or (4) you have been locking yourself up inside your media-less room the last five days, or in times you were out, have been walking with ears plugged and head stooped, your eyes oblivious to the yellowed environs. The last five days saw the most comprehensive (and free) lecture series about President Cory (and the ideals she stood for) and you just missed it.

I remember exactly a week ago when a neighbor approached and asked while we (my family) were wheeling into our garage, what's with the yellow ribbons (tied to your gate and car)? We greeted him with a smile while my wife responded, it's for Cory. We did not seriously put malice on (the innocence of) his query. I just thought then, it won't be long, you will know why.

I myself would want to know more, why.

I am not a super avid fan of Cory Aquino for me to be a good source of discourse that can fully qualify the anguish of her passing and justify the adoration and honor bestowed on her. Well, I know her to be the first sitting president I saw in person. I will never forget the image of her visiting the wake of another equally consummate freedom-fighter Lean Alejandro whom I also adore but who was murdered in 1987. That image conveyed to me a lot about the sincerity of the once "grieving widow" who was now the leader of the country.

That must be the closest window I have had to knowing Cory's persona. The rest I happened to know only as it had been demonstrated in the way she courageously took up the challenge to lead the campaign against Marcos in 1985-86 and in her precarious but unwavering 6-year leadership of a country which was trying to recover from the ravages of dictatorship while continuously being besieged by extremists.

I have to admit too that I was among those who ended their romance with Cory's administration early: The unsolved double-murder of labor leader Ka Lando Olalia and Leonor Alay-ay right in the first year of Cory's reign; the massacre of farmers at Mendiola in January 1987 and its associated issue of the watered-down agrarian reform program; the retention of the American military bases; Lean's murder and the seeming baby treatment of military right-wingers. I was far less liberal; the disillusionment was overwhelming. [But I did advocate a critical YES to the 1987 Constitution; if only to show I was still hoping against hope].

Yet I was among the "early grievers" who began feeling the pain of the prospect of losing a leader whose virtues we sorely miss in these dire times, when news about her ailment came out. Yet I am among those deeply saddened by her eventual demise.

I was sure there were more things about Cory that I only knew of subconsciously which somehow made me mourn affectingly her loss. And I can only thank those who helped me confirm these through their personal testimonies given throughout the last five days - from the day she died; through her wake at La Salle and the Manila Cathedral; until her interment just a few moments ago - and broadcasted via the different media.

Yes, Cory's selflessness, her unwavering faith and purity of heart [Arevalo, 2009]. Virtues that served as the very foundation of her legacy of freedom and democracy to us Filipinos; a legacy now constantly being threatened by the continuing degradation of the very same virtues that founded it.

I can only thank Cory's family, colleagues, friends (and even foes) for sharing to us who really Cory was. The last five days was a much needed refresher, an enlightenment most wanted. I am sure our neighbor knows a lot better now. The people know a lot better now.


Good reads:

"We give her back to You, with grateful but breaking hearts" by Catalino Arevalo, SJ [video version here]

Cory Aquino and our Magical Democracy by Sheila Coronel

The Cory I Know by Paulynn P. Sicam

Presidentita vs the Brat Pack by Malou Mangahas

Who President Cory was to this martial-law baby by Veronica Uy

One Good Person by Conrado de Quiros

Our better selves - EMOTIONAL WEATHER REPORT by Jessica Zafra

Teddy Locsin's Eulogy for President Cory Aquino

The Day They Buried Cory Aquino by Virginia M. Moncrieff

Beyond Aquino's contradictory legacies by Herbert Docena

Celebrate what Cory truly represents by Emmanuel M. Hizon

July 27, 2009

SONA 2009: PGMA in the zone but missing the point

I give the President's latest SONA a rating of 1 on a scale of 1-10. The piece was poorly written; the delivery more pathetic; its content unwanted.

I know a SONA traditionally follows an expected format. To borrow from UP professor Alex Magno, a SONA is basically a technical report (of accomplishments and broad plans) delivered by the country's chief executive to its board (which is Congress).

No one reports a grim picture to the board. And indeed much like in previous SONAs it went that PGMA delivered her latest filled with graphs of climbing bars and arrows and pictures of smiling faces of people. It was even supplemented by live exhibits well positioned in the gallery, among them the now world-renowned Manny Pacquiao (just about the only thing that lent credibility to the whole oral exhibition even if the Pacman's own accomplishments has got nothing to do with PGMA's administration at all).

PGMA may have succeeded in eliciting rounds of applause from her own bunch of eunuchs and harems. But for the nth time she again missed the whole point of truly reporting to the people upon whom is rested the whole rationale of her presidency (or the government for that matter). Perhaps, she thought she only needed to report to her harem and eunuchs.

The people do not need figures and pictures. They used to but not anymore. They have all the right senses working at ground level to tell them if the country is doing good or not. In a SONA, they now need to see, hear or feel something else beyond the numbers and graphs; something more reassuring.

This afternoon I chose to watch the SONA over doing Farm Town in Facebook; not in order to know how many roadges have been built but to try to peek through the eyes of the person and find out if the sincerity and truthfulness that were once lost among the words "I am sorry" (and "I will not run" before that) have eventually found their way back to her soul in this final stretch of her reign. I failed.

Maybe my eyes were blinded by the weak signal of ANC channel on my cable TV so that the genuineness I was looking for went by unnoticed. Maybe I should indeed blame the said TV Network for showing rushes of former President Cory Aquino's own ultimate SONA in 1991 beforehand; for these raised the standards of sincerity so well for any level of it to be found in PGMA's speech.

The basics of sincerity, truthfulness and all the other associated virtues of credibility, integrity, honesty, transparency, and delicadeza in governance, have been ravaged down to its smallest fabric by this dispensation since it began in 2001. Yet again the latest SONA reported nothing on the status of the nation along these criteria.

After listening to the SONA, perhaps some of you have asked yourselves the same question that I had asked myself: "If everything in our country is doing ok, then what's our problem?"

GMA, period.

But hey, maybe there's hope. With elections in the horizon, the President actually hit the point with a hue of sincerity when she advised her critics to "stop saying bad words in public". It was like saying, "be more discreet and use the phone; just be sure the lines are not tapped... right, Garci?"

July 19, 2009

ASD: Episode V

[Episode IV here]

Happy Birthday to me!

Today is my second birthday. No, I am not turning two today. I meant today is my "other" birthday. Although, yes, indeed I am turning two today on this "other" birthday of mine. At about this time two years ago, I began feeling the first sensations of life once again after a warped journey into complete blankness. I began hearing voices: "Sir, gising na po kayo. Okey na po".

Earlier that morning at about 6:00 a.m., some hospital orderly wheeled me out of my room at PGH into the hospital's surgery room. Now I reckon that period was the time when I was at my most relaxed state in this whole story of my atrial septal defect. It helped that my doctors much earlier had oft-repeatedly described, albeit in general terms, what was going to happen once I get inside the operating room. My surgeon, in his usual jovial self, had likened the proceedings as "gagawin ka lang namang Christmas tree, sasabitan ng kung anu-ano". Most importantly it helped that by that time, I had already built my Faith at its sturdiest level (at least to my mortal mind and spirit) in the run up towards that nodal point of my life.

The experience inside the operating room was nothing short of the surreal. I now realize I have watched too many movies and TV. I expected the OR to be some shiny place like those in House or E.R. It turned out to be just a little up-step than St. Elsewhere. That did nothing to bother me nonetheless; I have always believed of the proof of the pudding being in the... cooking!

Indeed, doctors and aides (couldn't figure who's who since they all looked alike in their scrubs) began decorating me like Christmas tree: "Sir, tagilid ko lang kayo ng konti ha? Kabit lang natin 'to"... "Sir inject na po natin ang anesthesia, dito lang po sa I.V. natin idadaan..." The hustle went on for about 15 minutes. Then I opted to close my eyes lest I began seeing scythe-wielding hooded figures. Then came what would become the fastest 5-6 hours in my mortal existence, I was transported into a post-surgery scenario in less than a nanosecond. Everything went from "Sir, relax lang po idadaan lang po natin sa swero nyo yung anesthesia..." to "Sir, okey na po. Tapos na, gising na po kayo. Ililipat na po namin kayo sa recovery room..."

Five to six hours of deep dark slumber minus the dream. Five to six hours of life with virtually no record of it in any neuron; not a single byte. Five to six hours of... death; all contained in a split moment. If there was proof that everything runs fast in God's time, that was it.

Indeed it was for me a second birth (or probably a third as I have been trying to reconstruct a near-fatal accident I got into when I was still this small; but that would be another story). I had everything to thank for when I woke up about this time two years ago. Family, friends and kins; medicine and science; The Almighty.

[Episode VI coming soon]

July 2, 2009

Don't go around breaking young girls' hearts


Thank you Michael Joseph Jackson for sharing your
gift of music to the world!




video courtesy of jwcfree

June 27, 2009

Blog on!

Capturing Vietnam


This is an accidental photo. I was on a bus moving along a freeway in the outskirts of Hanoi going to the airport when I took this shot. I am not even sure what this image is that I had captured. It looks like a woman with an open umbrella in a shed waiting to catch a ride. But, sitting on what seems to be a rounded steel bar? Must have been very uncomfortable. What this image is, it's anyone's guess.

Again, the photo was taken by accident. I was desperately trying to capture a different thing - an image of a farmer working on his/her field in Vietnam; a scene I wanted so much to capture but had not been able to since day one of my trip to Vietnam. And it was already the day of my return trip back to homeland.

The trip to the airport unexpectedly presented itself as a good, albeit my last, chance to finally capture the image. The freeway was lined on both sides by greenery -- farms planted to rice, vegetables and various other crops; and the fields were replete with workers tending to their land and crops.

But while I was presented the chance, the actual photo-shoot was not easy. The bus was moving at warp speed (as to why is another story) and I was seated along the aisle. I had a P&S equipment that could zoom-in 10x but could not do continuous shooting (if I miss a moment, that's it). Most significantly, I was torn between holding up my camera playing cat-and-mouse with my desired image and just relaxing and relishing with my own eyes what could be my last view of Vietnam. Nostalgia was also setting in. This particular trip was like cruising along the South Luzon Expressway going towards the province of Laguna- prior to the 90's, that is, before housing began replacing the green farmlands.

Needless to say, the desire to click away won. After a series of hits-and-misses (producing a collection of both sensible and "abtract" images, if I may say, including the photo above), I was able to capture this photo:



This is an image of a Vietnamese farmer (người nông dân). Here, she is a chị nông dân or a female farmer (only women wear the ubiquitous non la or conical hat). Here she tends to her farm of rice; rice that may eventually find its way atop the Filipino family's dining table. (The Philippines' yearly rice imports of 1.5-2.0 million tons mostly come from Vietnam).

My trip to Vietnam would only have been partially-made had I not been able to capture this image. This photo is my way of paying tribute to this feeder of Filipino families.

June 5, 2009

CON-ASS_ _ _ ES!



These are the people in the House who voted for the Con-Ass! (source: Alex Rizada)

ABANTE, BIENVENIDO M. "BENNY"
6TH District Pandacan

ABLAN, ROQUE R. JR,
Ilocos Norte, 1st District

AGBAYANI, VICTOR AGUEDO E.
Pangasinan, 2nd District

AGYAO, MANUEL, S
Kalinga Province

ALBANO (III), RODOLFO T.
Isabela, 1st District

ALFELOR, FELIX R. JR.
4th District, Camarines Sur

ALMARIO, THELMA Z.
Davao Oriental, 2nd District

ALVAREZ, ANTONIO C.
Palawan 1st District

ALVAREZ, GENARO RAFAEL M. JR.
Negros Occidental, 6th District

AMANTE, EDELMIRO A.
Agusan Del Norte, 2nd District

AMATONG, ROMMEL C.
Compostela Valley, 2nd District

ANGPING, MARIA ZENAIDA B.
Manila, 3rd District

ANTONINO, RODOLFO W.
Nueva Ecija, 4th District

APOSTOL, TRINIDAD G.
Leyte, 2nd District

AQUINO, JOSE S. (II)
1st District Agusan del Norte

ARAGO, MARIA EVITA R.
3rd district, Laguna

ARBISON, A MUNIR M.
Sulu 2nd District

ARENAS, MA. RACHEL J.
Pangasinan, 3rd District

ARROYO, DIOSDADO M.
Camarines Sur, 1st District

ARROYO, IGNACIO T.
5th district Negros Occidental

ARROYO, JUAN MIGUEL M.
2nd District of Pampanga

BAGATSING, AMADO S.
Manila 5th district

BALINDONG, PANGALIAN M.
Lanao del Sur, 2nd District

BARZAGA, ELPIDIO F. JR.
Cavite, 2nd District

BAUTISTA, FRANKLIN P.
Davao Del Sur, 2nd District

BELMONTE, VICENTE F. JR.
Lanao del Norte, 1st District

BICHARA, AL FRANCIS C.
Albay, 2nd District

BIRON, FERJENEL G.
Iloilo, 4th District

BONDOC, ANNA YORK P.
Pampanga 4th District

BONOAN-DAVID, MA. THERESA B.
Manila, 4th District

BRAVO, NARCISO R. JR.
Masbate, 1st District

BRIONES, NICANOR M.
AGAP Party list

BUHAIN, EILEEN ERMITA
Batangas, 1st District

BULUT, ELIAS C. JR.
Apayao Lone District

CAGAS (IV), MARC DOUGLAS C.
Davao Del Sur, 1st District

CAJAYON, MARY MITZI L.
Caloocan, 2nd District

CAJES, ROBERTO C.
Bohol, 2nd District

CARI, CARMEN L.
Leyte, 5th District

CASTRO, FREDENIL H.
Capiz, 2nd District

CELESTE, ARTHUR F.
Pangasinan, 1st District

CERILLES, ANTONIO H.
Zamboanga Del Sur, 2nd District

CHATTO, EDGARDO M.
Bohol, 1st District

CHONG, GLENN A.
Biliran, Lone District

CHUNG-LAO, SOLOMON R.
Ifugao, Lone District

CLARETE, MARINA C.
Misamis Occidental, 1st District

CODILLA, EUFROCINO M. SR.
Leyte, 4th District

COJUANCO, MARK O.
Pangasinan, 5th District

COQUILA, TEODULO M.
Eastern Samar, Lone District

CRISOLOGO, VINCENT P.
Quezon City, 1st District

CUA, JUNIE E.
Quirino, Lone District

CUENCO, ANTONIO V.
Cebu City, 2nd District

DANGWA, SAMUEL M.
Benguet, Lone District

DATUMANONG, SIMEON A.
Maguindanao, Lone District

Dayanghirang, Nelson L.
Davao Oriental, 1st District

DAZA, NANETTE C.
Quezon City, 4th District

DAZA, PAUL R.
Northern Samar, 1st District

DE GUZMAN, DEL R.
Marikina City, 2nd District

DEFENSOR, ARTHUR D. SR.
Iloilo, 3rd District

DEFENSOR, MATIAS V. JR.
Quezon City, 3rd District

DEL MAR, RAUL V.
Cebu City, 1st District

DIASNES, CARLO OLIVER D. (MD)
Batanes, Lone District

DIMAPORO, ABDULLAH D.
Lanao Del Norte, 2nd District

DOMOGAN, MAURICIO G.
Baguio, Lone District

DUAVIT, MICHAEL JOHN R.
Rizal, 1st District

DUENAS, HENRY M. JR.
Taguig, 2nd District (2nd Councilor District)

DUMARPA, FAYSAH MRP.
Lanao del Sur, 1st District

DUMPIT, THOMAS L. JR.
La Union, 2nd District

DURANO (IV), RAMON H.
5th District, Cebu

ECLEO, GLENDA B.
Dinagat Islands, Lone District

EMANO, YEVGENY VICENTE B.
Misamis Oriental, 2nd District

ENVERGA, WILFRIDO MARK M.
Quezon, 1st District

ESTRELLA, CONRADO M. (III)
Pangasinan, 6th District

ESTRELLA, ROBERT RAYMUND M.
ABONO Party List

FERRER, JEFFREY P.
Negros Occidental, 4th District

GARAY, FLORENCIO C.
Surigao Del Sur, 2nd District

GARCIA, ALBERT S.
Bataan, 2nd District.

GARCIA, PABLO JOHN F.
Cebu, 3rd District

GARCIA, PABLO P.
Cebu, 2nd District

GARCIA, VINCENT J.
Davao City, 2nd District

GARIN, JANETTE L.
Iloilo, 1st District

GATCHALIAN, REXLON T.
Valenzuela City, 1st District

GATLABAYAN, ANGELITO C.
Antipolo City, 2nd District

GO, ARNULFO F.
Sultan Kudarat, 2nd District

GONZALES, AURELIO D. JR.
Pampanga 3rd District

GONZALES, RAUL T. JR.
Ilo ilo City

GULLAS, EDUARDO R.
Cebu, 1st District

GUNIGUNDO, MAGTANGGOL T.
Valenzuela City 2nd District

HOFER, DULCE ANN K.
Zamboanga Sibugay, 2nd District

JAAFAR, NUR G.
Tawi-Tawi, Lone District

JALA, ADAM RELSON L.
Bohol, 3rd District

JALOSJOS, CESAR G.
Zamboanga del Norte, 3rd District

JALOSJOS-CARREON, CECILIA G.
Zamboanga del Norte, 1st District

JIKIRI, YUSOP H.
Sulu, 1st District

KHO, ANTONIO T.
Masbate, 2nd District

LABADLABAD, ROSENDO S.
Zamboanga del Norte, 2nd District

LACSON, JOSE CARLOS V.
Negros Occidental, 3rd District

LAGDAMEO, ANTONIO F. JR.
Davao del Norte, 2nd District

LAPUS, JECI A.
Tarlac, 3rd District

LAZATIN, CARMELO F.
Pampanga, 1st District

LIM, RENO G.
Albay, 3rd District

LOPEZ, JAIME C.
Manila, 2nd District

MADRONA, ELEANORA JESUS F.
Romblon, Lone District

MAGSAYSAY, MARIA MILAGROS H.
Zambales, 1st District

MALAPITAN, OSCAR G.
Caloocan, 1st District

MAMBA, MANUEL N.
Cagayan, 3rd District

MANGUDADATU, DATU PAKUNG S.
Sultan Kudarat,

MARANON, ALFREDO D. III
Negros Occidental, 2nd District

MATUGAS, FRANCISCO T.
Surigao del Norte, 1st District

MENDOZA, MARK LEANDRO L.
Batangas, 4th District

MERCADO, ROGER G.
Southern Leyte, Lone District

MIRAFLORES, FLORENCIO T.
Aklan, Lone District

NAVA, JOAQUIN CARLOS RAHMAN A. (MD)
Guimaras, Lone District

NICOLAS, REYLINA G.
Bulacan, 4th District

NOGRALES, PROSPERO C.
Davao City, 1st District

OLAñO, ARREL R.
Davao Del Norte, 1st District

ONG, EMIL L.
Northern Samar, 2nd District

ORTEGA, VICTOR FRANCISCO C.
La Union, 1st District

PABLO, ERNESTO C.
APEC Party List

PANCHO, PEDRO M.
Bulacan, 2nd District

PANCRUDO, CANDIDO P. JR.
Bukidnon, 1st District

PICHAY, PHILIP A.
Surigao Del Sur, 1st District

PIñOL, BERNARDO F. JR.
North Cotabato, 2nd District

PUNO, ROBERTO V.
Antipolo City, 1st District

RAMIRO, HERMINIA M.
Misamis Occidental, 2nd District

REMULLA, JESUS CRISPIN C.
Cavite, 3rd District

REYES, CARMELITA O.
Marinduque, Lone District

REYES, VICTORIA H.
Batangas, 3rd District

ROBES, ARTURO G.
San Jose Del Monte City, Lone District

Rodriguez-Zaldarriaga, Adelina
Rizal, 2nd District

ROMAN, HERMINIA B.
Bataan, 1st District

ROMARATE, GUILLERMO A. JR.
Surigao del Norte, 2nd District

ROMUALDEZ, FERDINAND MARTIN G.
Leyte, 1st District

ROMUALDO, PEDRO
Camiguin, Lone District

ROMULO, ROMAN T.
Pasig City, Lone District

ROXAS, JOSE ANTONIO F.
Pasay City

SALIMBANGON, BENHUR L.
Cebu, 4th District

SALVACION JR., ANDRES D.
Leyte, 3rd District

SAN LUIS, EDGAR S.
Laguna, 4th District

SANDOVAL, ALVIN S.
Malabon-Navotas, Lone District

SANTIAGO, JOSEPH A.
Catanduanes, Lone District

SANTIAGO, NARCISO D. (III)
ARC Party List

SEACHON-LANETE, RIZALINA L.
3rd district of Masbate

SEARES-LUNA, CECILIA M.
Abra, Lone District

SILVERIO, LORNA C.
Bulacan, 3rd District

SINGSON, ERIC D.
Ilocos Sur, 2nd District

SINGSON, RONALD V.
Ilocos Sur, 1st District

SOLIS, JOSE G.
Sorsogon, 2nd District

SOON-RUIZ, NERISSA CORAZON
Cebu, 6th District

SUAREZ, DANILO E.
Quezon, 3rd District

SUSANO, MARY ANN L.
Quezon City, 2nd District

SY-ALVARADO, MA. VICTORIA R.
Bulacan, 1st District

SYJUCO, JUDY J.
2nd Dsitrict, Iloilo

TALINO-MENDOZA, EMMYLOU J.
North Cotabato, 1st District

TAN, SHAREE ANN T.
Samar, 2nd District

TEODORO, MARCELINO R.
Marikina City, 1st District

TEODORO, MONICA LOUISSE PRIETO
Tarlac, 1st District

TEVES, PRYDE HENRY A.
Negros Oriental, 3rd District

TUPAS, NEIL C. JR.
Iloilo, 5th District

UNGAB, ISIDRO T.
Davao City, 3rd District

UY, EDWIN C.
Isabela, 2nd District

UY, REYNALDO S.
Samar, 1st District

UY, ROLANDO A.
Cagayan De Oro City, Lone District

VALDEZ, EDGAR L.
APEC Party List

VALENCIA, RODOLFO G.
Oriental Mindoro, 1st District

VARGAS, FLORENCIO L.
Cagayan, 2nd District

VILLAFUERTE, LUIS R.
Camarines Sur, 2nd District

VILLAROSA, MA. AMELITA C.
Occidental Mindoro, Lone District

VIOLAGO, JOSEPH GILBERT F.
Nueva Ecija, 2nd District

YAP, JOSE V.
Tarlac, 2nd District

YU, VICTOR J.
Zamboanga Del Sur, 1st District

ZAMORA, MANUEL E.
1st District, Compostela Valley

ZIALCITA, EDUARDO C.
Parañaque, 1st District


Now you know what to do.


May 27, 2009

Loaded Dervish

I am in the middle of writing my latest post(s). Believe me. Long overdue.

But let me take a break and share with you the video below. For me, there are two things in this video that I call excellent - the longboarders' skills and the video capture and editing. Well, a third may be YouTube itself- arguably this generation's greatest invention.

Don't miss the video's epilogue. Enjoy.


video courtesy of LoadedNewsletter

April 17, 2009

DReAM Children Update: Advocacy for public libraries resumes

The DReAM Children project (see related posts) is resuming the advocacy for public libraries and reader development. The project hit a speed bump late last year when one of its main partners abruptly and inexplicably pulled out of the partnership. One partner's folly, however, cannot (and should not) stifle a good advocacy. So, after almost 7 months of laying low while regrouping, reflecting and re-prospecting, volunteers and other partners have picked up the pieces and are now taking steps, small as they are, to continue an endeavor that can help turn the tide for literacy in this region.

Lately, advocates began touring public libraries (including barangay reading centers) hoping to get a grounded glimpse of the latter's status in the Soccsksargen region, and arm themselves with telling information to help push for compliance of Republic Act 7743 (mandating establishment and support for public libraries). The visit to public libraries is being led by Mindanao Librarian who is about to deliver a case paper on the DReAM Children project at the CONSAL XIV General Conference in Hanoi, Vietnam. The visit to two municipal public libraries so far have already provided inspiration for the rekindling of the advocacy.

These old and dilapidated books, found in one of Soccsksargen's
public libraries, represent how real and big the challenges are for
the mainstreaming of public libraries in the region
.

As I write this, partners in the community of Tampakan (CDIC, Municipal Library, and LGUs) are busying themselves preparing for a one-day Children's Summer Reading Festival which is set to happen late May 2009.

Other than this, advocates have sought audience with the South Cotabato Sangguniang Panlalawigan Education Committee chair Atty. Rene B. Jumilla in early May for an exploratory discussion about mainstreaming the public libraries in the province.

Elsewhere in the country, good stories [Iriga (more photos here), Cebu] have continued to come out, proving once again that a public library is still among the best options a community can have if it wants to free itself from the bondage of ignorance.

It is the hope and goal of the advocates who are behind DReAM Children that a similar good story will eventually come out from among the local communities of Soccsksargen.

April 12, 2009

Pooh-K is coming to town!

When is Pooh coming to town? April 19th! And I don't mean Pooh, the lovable bear of children's fare, but our very own Pacman's alter ego -- (say it with a booming voice ala Michael Buffer) Mannnnny... Poooooh-kyaw!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, damas y caballeros, men and women of all ages, people of General Santos and neighboring towns, get ready to... laugh til you drop!

Pooh and the equally talented and hilarious K Brosas are coming and, in tandem, will be bringing with them to town what is arguably this generation's best standup comedy!


In a show fittingly titled, yes you read it right, LAUGH TIL U DROP! Pooh & K will treat everyone with the same if not more riotous homegrown wits, skits and humor that have made the two pack places in Metro Manila like Punchline, Laffline, Metro Bar, and The Library everytime.

This is going to happen at the Lagao Gymnasium in General Santos City this coming April 19th beginning 8:30 p.m.

So don't wait for the rains, go get a front row seat now! or any of the following tickets by contacting 0920-207 8888 or 0905-822 2220 or call the Gensan City Mayor's Office at (083) 554-4214 and look for Haydee:

  • Platinum - Php 600 (reserve seats, court area)
  • Gold - P400 (Free seating, court area)
  • Silver - P250 (free seating, lower bleacher, black seats)
  • Bronze - P150 (free seating, upper bleacher)

You may also visit Bariles' www.gensantos.com for more info and update.

April 8, 2009

My first plurkfiesta; Orange Bistro in Gensan

About two weeks ago, I had the rare chance of meeting up with the fabulous bloggers of Gensan. I say rare because it counts as my first eyeball with the group after the successful 2nd Mindanao Bloggers Summit in October of last year during which I saw for the first-time a co-blogger in the flesh.

The Gensan bloggers have been holding meet-ups called "plurkfiestas" in different (mostly food) venues in General Santos City. (A Plurkfiesta is so called because most of the attendees are themselves plurkers or have signed-up to the social networking site plurk.com). Gensan's Bariles, Kuya Avel Manansala has always made it a point to invite me to every plurkfiesta and I have always tried to find the perfect timing. It has not been easy finding the chance; I may be a true blue General but I now reside an hour away in Koronadal. There should be two or more agenda for a visit to Gensan to proceed; that's a carbon footprint-lessening policy I now try (take note, try) to impose on myself and my household... [canned applause!]

I finally was able to catch-up with the plurkers during their sortie at the Orange Bistro in Lagao, General Santos City, the afternoon of March 28. There were Ikang, Gheltac, Jes, Tanchi, Sheng and Kyawster, Rammyboi, Cindy, Sir Gilbert, Sir Hecky, Iceah, my MSU-High classmate Jinky, and the invaluable kuya of bloggers from this part of the world Avel Manansala. It was not hard to make out the faces (and match them with their screennames at least) as these plurkers own blogs that I happen to visit every now and then; though it somehow felt kind of funny introducing myself to people who I already call friends in the blogosphere. Later came Tammy, Rosilie and Arnel and reigning Miss Gensan Ivy Cunanan who is vying for the Reyna ng Aliwan title in the upcoming Aliwan Fiesta 2009 Battle of Philippine festivals. I apologize now if I have missed out on anyone.

It was my first plurkfiesta; and when Orange Bistro began dishing out the food that afternoon, not only did I realize what I've been missing. I also realized I made a very big mistake of eating late lunch before coming over to the venue. It was literally a fiesta! And I could only nibble on the nachos and chicharong bulaklak!

(photos courtesy of Tanchi)

Orange Bistro is one perfect venue to hold a plurkfiesta, or anyone's dining date for that matter. It has good food of a wide variety; provides choices of ambience (e.g. indoor, outdoor, and closed venues) to suit a diner's preference; offers services that cater to a range of dining needs - from the simple and intimate to the more elaborate group events; has among the most polite and hospitable service crew in town; and most of all, a very important thing for bloggers/plurkers, it has Wi-Fi!

For those Generals who have been away for some time now, this Orange Bistro is the very same Teng family-owned cafe which used to occupy a smaller place along Pioneer Avenue. It has since moved to its current and substantially larger location along J. Catolico Sr. Ave (Lagao Road) at the corner of Geronimo Street in Lagao. The restaurant can be reached through +63 (083) 3010992 or +63 (083) 3015555 for inquiries and special arrangements.

The plurkfiesta at Orange Bistro was made extra special by the presence of Davao-based IT consultant and blogger Blogie Robillo. Blogie is among the primemovers of the group Mindanao Bloggers, and is a leading advocate of responsible blogging for/of Mindanao.

The meetup was a relatively short one for me, as I had to proceed to the second item on my agenda in visiting Gensan; but it was nonetheless a discovery experience that is going to make me strive more to be able to join more plurkfiestas in the future.

The next time, I will starve myself half a day prior.

March 29, 2009

A win-win proposition for the coal power plant debate in Sarangani

I originally posted this as a comment to one of the blogs I encountered a couple of days ago. But somehow my comment got lost along the way and never got itself published, so I might as well just put it in my own blog. The comment, of course, was a lot shorter than this.

The context was the frequent brownouts (power curtailments) this region of Mindanao is currently experiencing. Some sectors are forecasting dire times ahead as the energy needs of Mindanao are climbing rapidly for power supply to catchup; hence the need for more investments in power infrastructures -- e.g. power plants.

Now, we all know that a coal-fired power plant is to be put up in Barangay Kamanga in the town of Maasim, Sarangani Province. Project proponent Conal Holdings Corp. (a company partly owned by the local Alcantara Group), in trying to allay fears of environmental havoc, has been assuring the public that a cleaner technology will be utilized for the plant's operations. Environmentalists and their allies, of course, are not about to buy the idea. Needless to say, two opposing sectors are currently slugging it out to win the hearts and minds of the public and the government who, in the final analysis, have the final say whether the power plant pushes through or not.

Last Sunday, I came across a feature article in the Inquirer Mindanao section of PDI, which contained one of the most interesting and witty proposals which, for me, can finally end the debate. This came from one Chris Dearne, an English conservationist based in General Santos City, who was quoted in the article as having "...dared the company (Conal Holdings) to put up the facility (coal power plant) side by side with the sprawling aquamarine farms of the Alcantara family in Alabel if it believes that it is really environmentally safe." (A. Zonio. "Saving Sarangani Bay's coral reefs" Philippine Daily Inquirer, 24(104): A19, March 22, 2009).

I know the above proposition may have been thrown in sarcasm, but don't you think it's a fairly brilliant idea?

March 16, 2009

Blue Haven in Banga, South Cotabato

Two weeks ago, I and my household decided to escape the early summer heat and have our Sunday lunch out. It was easy for me to decide which place to go. Having already tried many places within the city, I thought, why not revisit Blue Haven Resort and Durian Park in the town of Banga? It's been a while since the last time.


Blue Haven is not your typical pretentious resort. Its beauty is in its simplicity; its sprawling grounds being located in a very idyllic setting -- in the middle of vast ricefields just outside Banga proper, its surroundings lined with durian and other fruit and wood trees.


The resort has a picnic area with kiosks that can accommodate groups of varied sizes, and a mid-sized irregularly shaped pool in the middle mainly for the use of kids. On one side is a canopied space for wedding and baptismal receptions and similar parties; and on the other is a covered and raised pavilion for the more serious stuff like meetings and conferences.


But if one wants a more serene atmosphere, he or she can always retreat to one of three lodging cabins, two of which offer a good green (or golden, depending on the season) view of the surrounding ricefields from the shared veranda. The cabins are a new feature of Blue Haven which was absent during my last visit to the place. According to Ms. Gemma Young-Paciente, the other half of the couple who owns the place (the other being Mr. Armand G. Paciente), they hope to add more lodging space in the near future to accommodate growing demand for it.


Blue Haven's front desk hall houses the restaurant where patrons can indulge on food and drinks while sitting and dining on exquisitely designed hardwood chairs and tables.


My family, being less adventurous than I am, was not up to tasting some of the unique food that the restaurant has to offer. For lunch, we just opted for the common yet nonetheless satisfying chopsuey and fried chicken. We also did not pass up the chance to feast on the "native chicken" tinola, a kind of food which one cannot always have in the city. (Piece of advice: to fully enjoy this dish you may have to request for a longer cooking time as native chicken, as we all know, has meat that's very "hard to please".)


The resort's menu, however, lists food that can face up to the challenge of patrons with more discriminating tastes. The inihaw na hito (grilled catfish), pritong kokak (fried toad) and some quail and rabbit dishes are just some which can make one's visit in Blue Haven a great food trip.


The fresh durian fruit was missed however as it was not season. Blessing in disguise, as the refreshing durian shake proved to be a worthy substitute.


Blue Haven Resort and Durian Park is located at Barangay Liwanay (Barrio Uno), Banga, South Cotabato. If you are going westward along the Allah Valley highway, you can't miss its signage to your right just before you exit Banga towards the town of Surallah. For reservations and other inquiries, you may call Gemma or Armand at (083) 239-2616.

March 9, 2009

You can't talk peace and have a gun

Ladies and gentlemen, once again I give you... Francis M.

video remix by icespaceonline

So many faces, so many races
Different voices, different choices
Some are mad, while others laugh
Some live alone with no better half
Others grieve while others curse
And others mourn behind a big black hearse
Some are pure and some half-bred
Some are sober and some are wasted
Some are rich because of fate and
Some are poor with no food on their plate
Some stand out while others blend
Some are fat and stout while some are thin
Some are friends and some are foes
Some have some while some have most

Every color and every hue
Is represented by me and you
Take a slide in the slope
Take a look in the kaleidoscope
Spinnin’ round, make it twirl
In this kaleidoscope world

Some are great and some are few
Others lie while some tell the truth
Some say poems and some do sing
Others sing through their guitar strings
Some know it all while some act dumb
Let the bassline strum to the bang of the drum
Some can swim while some will sink
And some will find their minds and think
Others walk while others run
You can’t talk peace and have a gun
Some are hurt and start to cry
Don’t ask me how don’t ask me why
Some are friends and some are foes
Some have some while some have most

Kaleidoscope world
In this kaleidoscope world


I am a fan.

March 8, 2009

Thank you, sister!

My friend Gaynor emailed me the following prose. She says it's not her original. The author is a woman, that's for sure. But I am forwarding it myself nonetheless. Not all women that matter to me have their email and postal addresses in my directory, so I am re-printing this in my blog as my own way of sending my message of gratitude to all of you Sisters who have helped made my life meaningful. Happy Women's Day to you!


A young wife sat on a sofa on a hot humid day, drinking iced tea and visiting with her Mother. As they talked about life, about marriage, about the responsibilities of life and the obligations of adulthood, the mother clinked the ice cubes in her glass thoughtfully and turned a clear, sober glance upon her daughter.

"Don't forget your Sisters," she advised, swirling the tea leaves to the bottom of her glass.

"They'll be more important as you get older. No matter how much you love your husband, no matter how much you love the children you may have, you are still going to need Sisters.

Remember to go places with them now and then; do things with them.

"Remember that 'Sisters' means ALL the women... your girlfriends, your daughters, and all your other women relatives too.

"You'll need other women. Women always do."

'What a funny piece of advice!' the young woman thought.

'Haven't I just gotten married? Haven't I just joined the couple-world? I'm now a married woman, for goodness sake! A grownup! Surely my husband and the family we may start will be all I need to make my life worthwhile!'

But she listened to her Mother. She kept contact with her Sisters and made more women friends each year. As the years tumbled by, one after another, she gradually came to understand that her Mom really knew what she was talking about. As time and nature work their changes and their mysteries upon a woman, Sisters are the mainstays of her life.

After more than 50 years of living in this world, here is what I've learned:

THIS SAYS IT ALL:

Time passes.

Life happens.

Distance separates.

Children grow up.

Jobs come and go.

Love waxes and wanes.

Men don't do what they're supposed to do.

Hearts break.

Parents die.

Colleagues forget favors.

Careers end.

BUT.........

Sisters are there, no matter how much time and how many miles are between you. A girl friend is never farther away than needing her can reach.

When you have to walk that lonesome valley and you have to walk it by yourself, the women in your life will be on the valley's rim, cheering you on, praying for you, pulling for you, intervening on your behalf, and waiting with open arms at the valley's end.

Sometimes, they will even break the rules and walk beside you.

Or come in and carry you out.

Girlfriends, daughters, granddaughters, daughters-in-law, sisters, sisters-in-law, Mothers, Grandmothers, aunties, nieces, cousins, and extended family, all bless our life!

The world wouldn't be the same without women, and neither would I.

When we began this adventure called womanhood, we had no idea of the incredible joys or sorrows that lay ahead.

Nor did we know how much we would need each other.

Every day, we need each other still.

Pass this on to all the women who help make your life meaningful.


March 6, 2009

Some people have been hibernating

This happened a few moments ago in the TV game show Pilipinas Game Ka Na Ba?:

Question: Saang lalawigan makikita ang pandaigdigang paliparan ng Heneral Santos?

The first contestant was quick to the draw.

Contestant 1: Buzzzz!....Cebu?


Edu (Host): Wrong!... Steal!

Contestant 2 did not even bother to wait for the question (and the choices of answers) to be reiterated by Edu.

Contestant 2: Buzzzz!... Davao?

Grrr... Some people have been hibernating.

February 28, 2009

A Valentine postscript

When everyone else has consumed their annual dose of Valentine indulgence and is now on their way to full recovery (if not, has already fully recovered) from the consequent hangover, I am posting a piece as my own remembrance of this 'love month' which is about to end in a few hours (at least for 2009).

The period leading to February 14th about a month ago, I thought of writing about Valentine's Day or about the things that the day wanted to celebrate (or commemorate!), or about things that relate to it one way or another. The motivations were there to do so -- it was my first V-Day since becoming a blogger (if I may say); and there was Bariles' blog contest which promised a dinner feast and free Valentine concert tickets to the winners. The push was not enough, though. For some reasons, I chose to hold back.

Now here I am, trying to make up. Perhaps, the love month of February does not deserve my snub. After all, it was in this month way back in 1986 when Filipinos demonstrated their love for their fellow so much as to prevent tanks from rolling over their countrymen and to make a dictator flee.

I asked myself ''what is my ultimate love song?". It was not difficult for me to know. Here is a video of it with along with its lyrics:


ang buhay ko ay isang ilog
umaagos tungo sa laot
sa pagdaloy ay lumiliku-liko
nguni’t dagat pa rin ang inaabot

ang buhay mo ay isang ilog
umagos tungo sa laot
sa pagdaloy tayo’y nagkatagpo
at ngayon tayo’y magkaisang tungo

lilikha tayo ng bagong daan
uukitin sa bato ang kasaysayan
at walang hadlang na ‘di malalagusan
habang tayo ay magkaisang-tunay


This song is a Joey Ayala original. The one embedded here, as indicated, is a version by Rico Blanco (Rivermaya) and Kitchie Nadal. Of course, the original is always better. The rendition by Joey A. has a more personal touch in it. Maybe because it was done with single vocal and a very simple instrumentation. There is a slight variation in the arrangement in this version of Blanco and Nadal which I assume was done by the said artists themselves. There was even an alteration of at least a word in the lyrics. The new version though has more kilig that's more attuned to the present.

Much as I wanted to post the original, I could not find one online for free. I do not think pareng Joey will also like it if I post and share an illegally cracked Ilog which I have stored in my hard drive.

When the song first came out in the late 1980's (or at least when I first heard it), it was contained in a very GND (grim and determined) casette tape album of Ayala titled Magkabilaan. The album also included the melancholic but sweet Walang Hanggang Paalam which was very popular then among political activists because... well, it's their song. Back then, lovebirds particularly among this group would argue off which was a better love song and henceforth deserved to become their "theme song": Ilog or WHP? (So now you still think activists are not that mushy?)

For my girlfriend then, the choice was hands down. Ilog even spawned a very romantic (and naturally mushy!) verse which she wrote for the two of us during one of those, you know... rough times. For me now, as I look back, this love song is really the ultimate. My girlfriend became my ex-GF and we've been blazing trails and carving history in stone together since.

February 13, 2009

Yummy bibingka at Jim's Place

These are among the most delicious bibingkas (rice cakes) I have ever tasted.

Well, I am not even sure if I can call any of these a bibingka because there is something in it that is different from what we traditionally know as bibingka. Many of the latter come in smaller sizes than this one.

This particular bibingka is kind of a cross between a traditional bibingka and a... Kenny Rogers Roasters muffin!... and that's even downplaying the true merits of this comfort food.

Now, I am not really good at describing food in writing; so may I just invite you to take a bite of this bibingka at Jim's Place in Koronadal City. At P16 each, you will be wasting money on the shrinking dunkin' donut than on this one.

Jim's Place is near the corner of Gensan Drive and Zulueta Street (a.k.a. One-Way); a little past the roundball (rotunda) if you are coming in from Gen. Santos City.

If you are a native of Tacurong City, then it is of no wonder for you why such a yummy bibingka can come from a thing called Jim's Place. It is the very same Jim's Place that has brought you good food for many years back in your own hometown. The branch in Koronadal opened sometime in November last year and has since provided a good alternative to the other food venues in the South Cotabato capital.

Jim's Place is both a bakeshop and a restaurant. Food in its restaurant is served either by fastfood or a la carte. The place is Wi-Fi connected and is open 24 hours.

Jim's Place is open all day and night

The restaurant area in the interior is Wi-Fi connected

Various types of bread, cakes and pastries are sold 24/7 at the bakeshop