November 30, 2011

South Cotabato Tambayan is my choice

It's time for the
2011 Philippine Blog Awards Bloggers' Choice
and with matching double thumbs up
I choose from among the finalists

South Cotabato Tambayan!

The blog of bloggers!
The blog that's bringing the whole South Cotabato
to the world!

November 1, 2011

My New 7 Wonders of Nature

Puerto Princesa Underground River trek circa 1994

Have you cast your vote for the New 7 Wonders of Nature? You have about 10 days left to vote if you haven't done so. Voting ends November 11, 2011 (that's 11-11-11 for you).  I just sent my own verdict a while ago, through the New7Wonders website. You may not be interested with my picks, but here they are nonetheless in no particular order, each with snippets of the wisdom behind my vote:

  1. The Amazon of South America. The largest rainforest is found here. Sadly, among the fastest rates of deforestation also happens here. The Amazon rainforest produces 20% of the earth's oxygen, earning for it the monicker "The Lungs of the Planet". This tropical ecosystem is shared by nine countries.
  2. Great Barrier Reef of Australia and Papua New Guinea. This is the "Amazon" of the coastal and marine ecosystem in terms of size. The reef is the biggest single structure made by living organisms and can be seen from the moon.
  3. Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. This is where one finds the biggest concentration of endemic species. Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection was born here. Without Darwin, there would have been fewer atheists and agnostics, and society would have been a lot boring.
  4. Komodo National Park of Indonesia. The earth's largest living lizards - the Komodo Dragons - call the Komodo and nearby islands home. Their only home; so unlike their cousins who are also able to survive in Congress.
  5. The Dead Sea of Israel, Palestine and Jordan. The lowest point on the earth's surface. No creatures (except for some microorganisms) live in its waters because of its high salinity (saltiness, in our terms); hence the name. What's more fascinating is that one can float on it without really trying. Click here and watch. Bad location for mafiosos to dump dead bodies.
  6. Halong Bay of Vietnam. I was there two years ago. The mysticism of the place is just overwhelming. Simply awesome.
  7. Underground River of Puerto Princesa, Philippines. But of course!
There are more of the finalists that deserve my vote, but since I am being limited to voting for just seven, I am sticking with my list above. I have never been to these places, except for the last two; but I have always been fascinated by them since childhood and have continued to get awed as I read and hear stories about them time and again. I hope you will also find them amazing and will also include them in your own list.

Halong Bay, Vietnam circa 2009

Related article: Vietnam and the Philippines united by nature

May 26, 2011

Looking forward to a Dallas-Miami NBA Finals
In the classic battle between youth and experience, the latter always edges out victorious. This was proven once again in the just concluded Western Conference Finals of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The veterans-led Dallas Mavericks won over the youthful Oklahoma City Thunder, 4-1, in a very offensive-minded conference championship series (only in Game 3 did both teams go under 100 points).

That 4-1 slate looks deceiving though, as Dallas actually did not completely dominate the whole series. In fact, the last two games were OKC games, simply stolen by the Mavs in the endgame. In Game 4, Kevin Durant and company were up by 15 points with just under 5 minutes to play but could only manage 2 points the rest of the way as Dallas dropped in 17 points to force the game into overtime. Dallas eventually won, 112-105. Game 5 was pretty much the same story. OKC led Dallas most of the game before the latter staged a 17-6 run down the stretch to steal the show from the Thunder, 100-96.

But you have to give it to the OKC Thunder. This is the youngest team in the league in terms of players' age (average: 24); and in just its 3rd season as a relocated franchise (they were formerly the Seattle Supersonics), they have come this close to a conference championship. A little fine-tuning of its endgame poise, it will not be difficult to imagine OKC becoming the youngest ever NBA titlist next year.

Dallas is returning to the NBA Finals after its first ever stint at the championship in 2006 ended in a debacle. Five years ago, the Mavericks dominated the league and was actually up 2-0 against the Miami Heat at the onset of the finals before folding up amidst a 4-game rampage by Shaquille O'neal, Dwyane Wade and company.

By some fateful twist, the Mavericks will probably find themselves tangled once again with the same team that dealt them broken hearts in 2006. The Heat, as of this writing, is leading its own series against the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern conference, 3-1. The odds favor Miami, as a 3-1 card in the NBA playoffs have always resulted in the front-runner eventually winning the series except on only 3 occasions in the past.

Dallas and Miami may eventually mix it up once again in the finals, but both are not the same teams as five years ago. The Mavericks is still led by 12-year veteran Dirk Nowitzki but there's just Jason Terry left with him in the roster of the team which bowed to Miami in 2006. On the other hand, 29-year old Dwyane Wade still plays guard with the Heat but now forms the third post of a formidable triumvirate within the team known in the league as "the other Big 3", with MVP Lebron James (formerly of Cleveland) and erstwhile Toronto Raptor Chris Bosh. Now, that might sound like the scale tipping off in favor of Miami; but one has got to be reminded that Dallas actually won over Miami in their only two meetings in the regular season.

I am almost sure there are quite a number of Filipino basketball fans who have lost interest in the NBA playoffs after favorites L.A. Lakers, Boston, and San Antonio got eliminated. But for the remaining diehards, everyone will be tuning in beginning next week; and it's almost certain that many will be rooting for the Miami Heat to repeat over Dallas. After all, the team is coached by Erik Spoelstra, a Filipino-American.

Me, I am happy that I see no L.A. or Boston in the finals.