Thursday, December 11, 2008

Carlos de leon Esguerra, the Filipino Photographer

Dec. 11, 2008- Last Dec. 11, I had the privilege of attending the lecture on "Landscape Photography" by renowned photographer Carlos de Leon Esguerra. He is a Filipino who was born in Taytay, Rizal, Philippines and is now based in Elmshurst, Queens, New York, USA.

He was recently in the Philippines to receive the "Pamana ng Filipino" award at Malacañang Palace. The simple ceremonies was held at the Rizal Hall in Malacanang and also marked the opening of the celebration of the Month of Overseas Filipinos and the International Migrants’ Day (Dec. 10).The Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas is a biennial event institutionalized in Dec. 1991 by virtue of EO 498.

His co-awardees include Amelita Besa and Romeo Dorotan, (New York); Bayani de Leon, (New York); Federico Hizon, (Singapore); Libertito Pelayo, (New York); Dr. Teresita Ramos, (Honolulu); and Engr. Nilo Villarin, ( Washington).

The awardees were evaluated by Philippine consulates and embassies prior to the final selection by the technical committee.

Esguerra studied Business and Economics at the University of the Philippines, and obtained his MBA from the George Washington University in Washington, DC. He worked for more than 30 years as a programmer analyst at IBM Corporation in New York and later founded his own company, CLE Systems, Inc. Since retiring from the said company, he has since devoted his time to his passion: photography.

Some of Esguerra's photos have been published in several international magazines and publications such as Interior Design Magazine, Photo Life Magazine, Best of Photography Annual, Spa Magazine, Popular Photography and Imaging, Photo Life Magazine, Hasselblad's FORUM Magazine and Shutterbug Magazine. He is recognized by many as the modern-day Ansel Adams.

In his lecture, he said that what he considers greatly in any photography, past all the technicalities, is still the "soul" of the picture or what takes in the viewer.

See samples of Carlos de Leon Esguerra's photography at his web site:

Monday, December 8, 2008

Moymoy Palaboy, New Print Models for a Stomach Acid Product!

On my way to my LRT ride yesterday, I saw this mint new tarpaulin ad of the now famous Moymoy Palaboy!

The brothers behind Moymoy Palaboy are now print models for a new stomach acid product !

For those who do not know Moymoy Palaboy (yet), just key in the name MoyMoy Palaboy via google and you are bound to discover that Moymoy Palaboy is the name of the two lip-synching Filipino siblings: 25-year old James Ronald Obeso(a.k.a. Moymoy) and his younger brother Rofil (22 years old, and the one who dons the unruly wig). Moymoy Palaboy debuted on the Internet in February 2007 and has since had a cult following among netizens, capturing sizeable hits and views for their uploaded videos of lip-synched music.

The most-watched Moymoy video is still the brothers’ versions of the Spice Girls’ song “Wannabe,” now with more than 4 million views and counting.

Since launching their lip-synching careers from their Pasay apartment, the two have gained popularity and are now seen as mainstays in the Iyo Tube portion of Bubble Gang, a popular GMA-7 show. And to think they just did their YouTube gig on a whim!

My hats off to these two guys!

Here is the "Wannabe" video:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The (Smiling) Happy Horse of Red Horse Beer!

I thought it was all wild talk when I first heard about it: the smiling/happy horse of the local Red Horse beer. But I encountered David, a tourist from Germany who I met in Manila telling me about that particular happy horse again, which he said he saw in Palawan during his visit there. That encounter was in August 2008.

Then in October (2008), two months after, I visited the Callao cave in Peñablanca, Cagayan for the second time. We stayed at the government-run Callao Resort. We ordered beer, and lo and behold, there it was: the red horse beer bottle with the smiling horse on it! We all quickly took turns inspecting it and found that the red horse bottle with the happy horse image had a red print for its text. And instead of the words "Experience that distinctive full-flavored taste and extra satisfying strength of a world-class premium strong beer," it merely states "FOR THAT DISTINCT FULL-FLAVORED TASTE" written in all capital texts. And where the regular Red Horse image had sharper features, the happy Red Horse image is plumpier, and its mane, a mere series of lines. I was told by my beer buddies that night that there is one such bottle of happy horse for every dozen of such beers. They said the bottle with the smiling red horse image also has the strongest brew, hence it makes you happier, too, at the quickest time. Hmm. I drank it but I did not experience any difference in both taste and effect. Oh well, at least I have photos here as proof of that encounter with the Happy Horse. Yes, it is not a story full of horsesh_t, after all. Hehe :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Shaira Luna, the PROMIL gifted child

It was one of those blast-from-your-childhood-days moments. Together with my journalist friend Roel Hoang Manipon, I was able to attend the re-activation of the 90-year old milk brand Milkmaid at the fab resto Felix in Greenbelt 5 (Nov. 12, 2008). Imagine that--a brand from way waaay back! There, I was also able to meet anew Chef Florabel Co, who I initially came to know in 2004 at Le Souffle in Top of the Citi when they participated in the lamb food fest challenge organized by the Meat and Livestock Australia. I distinctly remembered eating and writing about the Seared Australian Lamb Loin in fig sauce. The sweetness of the fig sauce was rightfully complemented by the Rose Mount Shiraz that Chef Co personally recommended.

But what highlighted the event for me was seeing Shaira Luna herself carrying a Canon camera. Shaira, for those not familiar to her, was one of the original Promil Gifted Children, age eight, and titled junior anatomist in that 1995 TV commercial where she uttered the now famous lines "Heart. It is a hollow muscular organ located between the lungs..." I think, because of that TV commercial, every Filipino couple had since fancied about having a genius child in the family. And I do remember uttering those same lines as a comic relief around my friends just when everyone had run out of things to talk about. Shaira was a chubby child then, of course. Now she has prettily thinned out (it must be the heavy camera, hehe) but she retained the dimples and her beautiful eyes. She was baffled that I looked so familiar and was trying to remember where we've crossed paths before (I definitely must be getting oh so famous, haha). I told her that the first time I saw her all grown up was during the fiesta in my hometown province in Gumaca, Quezon two or three years ago, and I very much doubt that she had even seen a shadow of my hair at that time. And so there, happy that we've finally met, we exchanged contact numbers, and now, I'm waiting for her approval in facebook (nope, I have not turned hetero people). Googling her later that afternoon, I found out that she nearly became the youngest doctor at age 19 (taking up B.S. Human Biology at the DLSU Manila when she was 13) before she decided to call it quits to pursue a career in photography. Online info shows that she even hosted a segment in ABS-CBN’s Alas Singko Y Media and produced her own segments for Maganda Umaga Bayan until 2003. Well, the brain knows no bounds, but I'm happy for Shaira that she has, at least, found the center of her heart.

Check Shaira's works at or

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Imelda Marcos Portrait by Basuki Abdullah

Finally! Here is my photo with the famous portrait of Imelda Marcos, done in 1977 by Basuki Abdullah (Indonesian painter). This is a huge painting (288.53 cm X 171.45 cm) and is on display at the National Museum of the Filipino People, Philippines (until January 15, 2009). This was one of the paintings that was almost destroyed at the height of the EDSA Revolution in 1986. The painting is on exhibit as part of the exhibit "Days of Drawing, Portraits of Passage." Hurry, run, take a glider, and take a closer look! :)

The National Museum of the Filipino People is located at the Executive House Bldg., P. Burgos st. cor. Taft Ave., Ermita Manila,1000. Call 527-12-15 / 527-0278 / 528-4912. ENTRANCE FEES: Adults - P100.00 each, Students - P 30.00 each upon presentation of ID(For students enrolled in Philippine schools only); Open daily except Mondays and Tuesdays; MUSEUM HOURS:10:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. (NO NOON BREAK); FREE ADMISSION: Sundays (Walk-ins only; No Group Tours)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Meeting Judy Ann Santos in a French Gallery

Oct. 29, 2008 -
She was wearing a red dress and black heels. When she entered through the front door of the Alliance Total Gallery, one would have thought that one was already a part of a shoot for her latest TV endorsement of a slimming supplement. Almost everyone did look her way. It was Judy Ann Santos, the country's most recognizable actress to date who could cry copious tears at the drop of a hat. She arrived to support the exhibit of her fiance: fellow actor, host, and TV model Ryan Agoncillo.

The exhibit, titled "EPSON PRO: Partnership of Art and Technology," showcases EPSON printer-reproduced works of eight of the country's premier photographers and graphic designers such as BenCab, Bien Bautista, George Tapan, Jun de Leon, Quincy Castillo, Drew Europeo, Robert Alejandro, including Agoncillo. Two of Agoncillo's photographs were on exhibit: "Pagsulong," a 7 by 10.5 color photograph and "Tagak," a 9 x 6 color photograph. Agoncillo had previously exhibited the two works at the Meralco theater lobby during the premier of Santos' movie "Ploning," and was shot in Palawan during the filming of the said movie.

Judy Ann Santos had visibly become sexier and had that confidence about her. She initially had Ryan's hands locked in hers but was soon introduced to and engaged in a conversation with the tall National Artist for visual arts Bencab himself. Bencab, later, also was seen being photographed with her in front of his works: "Concealed/Revealed 1" and "Concealed/Revealed II". Seeing that Bencab did a photo-op with "the" Judy Ann Santos, who were we not to follow suit? But, of course, in such a French-y gathering, our group reined in our excitement and decided to wait a little bit longer for her to mingle around, and only made our move when we spotted her next in front of Agoncillo's work.

I personally have respect for Judy Ann Santos now, especially for producing "Ploning" herself, and because it was a noteworthy film. One can forgive her other films, but "Ploning" definitely merits a place in Philippine cinema history. And I was, myself, visibly glad that I finally did meet her in the flesh that night, a night beautifully imprinted on my mind.

*The exhibit, organized by EXTANT PR SYSTEMS, INC and headed by Ms. EVAN CARIAGA (tel. nos. 527-0478 / 536-5720), runs from Oct. 29 to Nov. 4, 2008. Portion of the exhibit sales will be donated to the GMA Kapuso Foundation.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fantasia Barrino's "I Believe"

I have to admit, I still get goosebumps every time I watch Fantasia's performance during the American Idol's finals. The song was hers through and through. This song was co-written by former American Idol contestant Tamyra Gray.

Watch it with me again :)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Swagat Indian Cuisine restaurant Celebrates Diwali Festival

Oct. 24 - The thought of experiencing my first Diwali Festival in an Indian restaurant was too good an experience to pass up. So, one Friday night, I braved the traffic going to Makati to head to the Swagat Indian Cuisine restaurant.

"Swagat," I will soon learn is a Hindi word, which means "welcome." From the facade of the restaurant, one would have thought that the lettering of the restaurant's name was too plain-looking to merit attention. But inside, one's spirit is easily lifted by the vari-hued colors of the interior starting with the foil chains that criss-cross the ceiling, the tie-dyed cloths that line the corners of the walls, posters and small pieces of mirrors that flicker here and there, which all seemed to dance along the music coming from the modern Indian singers' videos being played on the television, and made warmer by the technicolor Christmas lights that cascade down the front glass window, and frame all posters in the walls as well. In one of the walls, one reads the cutout letters announcing "Diwali Festival."

Deepavali, or Diwali, is a major Indian festival, and is celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs across the globe as the "Festival of Lights," where the lights signify the victory of good over the evil within every individual. The word "deepavali" comes also from the lighted rows (avali) of lamps (deepa) that greeted King Rama of Ayodhya after a 14-year exile in the forest. Today, Diwali is celebrated on the first day of the lunar Kartika month, which comes in the month of October or November.

"So, there is no exact date for it each year, but this year it falls on Oct. 28" explains Komal Khanchandani, who proudly says that she is the owner, manager and cook of the restaurant. "If I were in India, I would have celebrated this event with my family but since I'm in the Philippines now, I am celebrating it yearly my Filipino friends and everyone who eats here." And Khanchandani further explains that the festival is akin to the Christian's Christmas event where everyone eats good food, buys new dress, and gives gifts to one another. The one special mark of the event, she says, is the giving of sweets to all who celebrate the said occasion. During this time, too, her restaurant gives discounts to her customers.

Khanchandani, or Komal to her friends, arrived in Manila from India with her husband Sanjay in 1981. Finding that there's not enough restaurant offering true Indian home-cooked meals in the country, and prodded in part her husband's expatriate Indian friends, they initially put up Sangam, a hole-in-the-wall Indian carinderia in Makati. But seeing their growing clientele, in 2003, the couple finally decided to open Swagat Indian Cuisine in a bigger location in Rada. Since then, the restaurant has been opened to the public from 11am to 11pm and foot traffic has been nonstop that most diners would call in advance to reserve seats, especially at meal times.

For that evening, Khanchandani had to excuse herself at once as she was to cook it all: for appetizers, there was mixed pakora or deep fried sliced onions, chilies and potatoes rolled in chickpeas flour. I dipped one pakora, which tasted like an upscale empanada, in mint sauce and was pleasantly surprised by its interesting flavour in my mouth. I also ate pappadom masala, which is a thin deep fried crisp lentil wafer served with onion and tomato bits, and which is definitely better than nachos. I became an instant fan, too, of the bhel puri, puffed rice bits (like noodle bits) served with various chutneys, and wonderfully crunchy. For the main course, we were served the machi palak, or fish cooked with spinach, and chicken kadai, with a big chili on top of it. This was accompanied by two plates of rice meal: the shrimp biryani, and the unbelievably hot methi matter pullow, which is a bit green, colored by the fenugreek leaves, with green peas. Wonderfully taming all the spiciness in my food is my glass of strawberry lassi or sweetened yogurt drink flavoured with milk and strawberry. For dessert, we had the privilege of tasting Khanchandani's much sought-after homemade ice cream or kulfi. Khanchandani says it takes all of five hours to make it and yes, it's easily one of the restaurant's bestsellers. So, I took my sweet time eating my kulfi! Biting into my last spoonful of the ice cream, in my mind, I saw several arrows of lights, lights of happiness, indeed! Happy Diwali Festival everyone!

Swagat Indian Cuisine restaurant is located in FCC Building on Rada Street, Legaspi Village, Makati (tel. 752-5669).

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Love of Siam (Rak Haeng Siam) in Cinemanila 2008

I just had to write this down. I was so taken by the film although it's all of two and a half hours running time. As part of the Cinemanila 2008 lineup of films, I watched Love of Siam (Rak Haeng Siam), a Thai film written and directed by Chukiat Sakveerakul. The last gay-themed film that I liked was Chansons d'Amour and now, I think, Love of Siam is going to be my all time favorite gay-themed film.

Love of Siam stars Mario Maurer (of German and Chinese descent and oh so heartachingly cute) who plays Tong and the equally charming Witwisit "Pitchy" Hiranyawongkul who plays pianist/composer/singer Mew.

I did some googling on Love of Siam and found out that the film is a first of sorts. At 150 minutes, the film is markedly longer than most Thai films, and another is that it is a drama film, which is rare in the Thai industry, which mainly produces horror, comedy, action and (heterosexual) teen romance films. And, of course, it is gay-themed though nothing hinted at that fact in its promotional posters in Thailand. Director Sakveerakul said that this was intentional as he did not want to limit the audience of the film to gay audiences. His instincts proved him right. Released in Thai cinemas on November 22, 2007, and opening on 146 screens, the film was a commercial hit earning a total of US$1,305,125 on its third week, and earned good reviews as well from the critics. It also dominated Thailand's 2007 film awards season, winning the Best Picture category in all major national film award events, including the Thailand National Film Association Awards, Starpics Magazine's Starpics Awards, the Bangkok Critics Assembly Awards, Star Entertainment Awards. And more importantly, Love of Siam is now also Thailand's official entry to the Best Foreign Language Film for the 81st Oscars Awards.

But to go back into why I sooo loved the film, I just had to say that director Chukiat Sakveerakul had such a good material in his hands, a great amount of sensibility both in dialogues and direction (showing Thai culture as it is today), and he was blessed with very good actors as well. He has shown not only the "young" love between two teenager males but also the love of a mother for her lost daughter, for her husband, showing as well an unrequited love...of a young girl falling for a gay friend, and of love on the friendship level. Sakveerakul's unraveling of the story is so much like the special gift giving style he showed at the onset of the film where Tong initially gave a piece of paper to Mew. Mew finds out that that piece of paper leads to another clue in a piece of paper that leads to a part of a gift, then another paper that has a clue that leads to another piece of the gift until one finds the gift itself.

At the end of watching the film, the Filipino viewers that night in Cinemanila 2008(which were all so openly appreciative and affected by the film judging by their reactions during the entire run of the film) were gifted with the beauty of the story of the film itself. And gays in the country, no matter how jaded or highly-sexed, I'm sure, would, in their hearts of hearts, find themselves awashed clean, remembering a special love in their lives, re-awakened anew by how strange and wonderful love could really be upon watching this beautiful beautiful gift of a film.

My favorite part would be that bed scene where Mew explains the source of his loneliness to Tong-- about his fear of losing a loved one and the pain that goes with loving that person. At the same time, Mew has learned to accept that it is impossible for anyone to go through life without loving anyone. Then Tong enfolds Mew in his arms and lets Mew to rest partly on his chest.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Visit to The Rafe Store (Rafe Totengco) in Greenbelt

I finally had the chance to visit the Greenbelt (Makati city) branch of bag designer/maven Rafe (pronounced Ra-fee) Totengco. Yes, Rafe Totengco is a Filipino (raised in Bacolod) who previously designed for Schizo, a clothing line under Sari-Sari Store prior to his leaving for New York in 1989 to study at New York's Fashion Institute and Technology. The Rafe Store opened in March 2008 and I finally did get to see his bags up close on my birthday. Of course, I had a grand time doing so with the helpful assistance of amiable staff Mitch. Rafe Totengco has been based in New York for almost 18 years now and his bag creations have been seen in the arms and hands of Paris Hilton, Jessica Alba, Eva Longoria, Mischa Barton, Lindsay Lohan, Giselle Bundchen, Adriana Lima,among others. In Rafe Totengco's recent blog, I read that he did a collaboration with Amy Smilovic, the designer of Tibi, on a limited edition collection of bags. If only for his bags, I would have loved being a girl! :) I wish I'd bump into Rafe Totengco himself on his next visit in the country.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Eating Healthy at Healthy Shabu Shabu

The Healthy Shabu Shabu branch at Shangri-la mall recently invited media people and their kids to a Kids' Workshop on learning the basics of eating shabu shabu or the Japanese variant of the Chinese hotpot. Shabu shabu, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is a Japanese dish consisting of thinly sliced beef and vegetables cooked briefly in simmering broth at the table. The word "shabu shabu" itself is said to refer to the sound of the ingredients as they are swished back and forth in the water or broth.

In her welcome message, owner Candy Hwang explained that making children eat healthy and finding eating places outside the house for them is proving to be quite a challenge for parents these days. Hwang, who is a mother of two kids herself, stressed the importance of developing a healthy eating habit among children by bringing them to dining places that encourage them to eat healthier food.

"Letting them prepare their own food, like what we do in Healthy Shabu Shabu, is a good experience that instills in them some of the basics of good nutrition. We can teach them about balanced eating, high and low calorie meals, low-cholesterol foods, and nutritious yet tasty meals," explains Hwang.

Hwang views the cooking involved in their restaurant as an interactive activity that allows kids to choose which next ingredient to put into the boiling pot.

The workshop proper was facilitated by Vicky Barrera, mother of three and owner of Tiny Kitchen. The first step involved choosing which shabu shabu platter to have, namely: the vegetable platter, and the seafood platter and the optional high protein diet from the beef and lamb platter. Barrera started off by asking the kids present at the tablet to identify the ingredients to be cooked before them. From the vegetable platter, the kids corectly identified the green (or Baguio petchay) and white Chinese cabbage; black mushroom and carrots and tomato, along with the beancurd, meatballs, and crops such as sweet corn and yam. From the seafood platter, the kids identified the shrimp, squid, mussels, sea cucumber, and fish. The platters come with a serving of noodles: vermicelli or the flat white egg noodle.

With white aprons around their waists, the participants and guests learned that the secret to having a perfect shabu shabu was in knowing how to boil which ingredients first, without overcooking any of them. For the vegetable platter, for one, Barrera advised the eager and hungry guests to put the sweet corn and yam first since they need the longer cooking period to soften. One could then eventually add pieces of the leaf vegetables and beancurd along with the meatballs and beancurd (ingredients should not be left boiling for more than 30 seconds). The vermicelli noodles should follow next, which should be boiled not longer than 20 seconds. To make the soup flavorful, one should add in the shrimp, squid, mussels, sea cucumber. The fish should not be boiled for more than a minute. The egg noodles were added last though by that time, the participants were already busy eating their fill of the cooked ingredients that were dipped in a barbecue sauce made from chopped garlic, onion, chili, special base sauce and spices.

But are the pots safe for the kids? I did try touching the surface of one pot and was surprised that it was not hot to the touch even as the ingredients were boiling. The attending waiter said that the pots were made of special material to ensure that skin burns arising from accidental touching of the surface of the pots would not occur (just do not turn silly and dip your finger into the boiling water). Hwang stressed that their restaurants use electric stoves controlled by a remote instead of the traditional LPGs and with the cords neatly tucked from sight.

After having our fill of the shabu shabu meal that lunch time, we were treated to black gulaman halo halo for dessert. And my Nanay (Mom to you zozi creatures), who I brought along, obviously, could not be happier!

Healthy Shabu Shabu has branches at Powerplant Mall (Tel. No 898.3979/895.6300), The Podium (Tel. Nos. 914.1028-29), SM Mall of Asia (Tel. Nos. 556.0354-55), Robinsons Galleria (Tel. Nos. 633.1979/632.1634), SM North The Block (Tel. Nos. 442.0036-37), Alabang Town Center (Tel Nos. 850.6633/850.6976), Robinsons Midtown (Tel. Nos. 526.2981/529.3983) and Shangri La Plaza Mall (Tel Nos. 910.3272/632.7532).

The KFC Shrimp Surfers TV ad in the Philippines

My latest fave TV commercial, of course, is the one by KFC introducing their shrimp meal (KFC Shrimp Surfers) to its Filipino customers. For those who have yet to see it, this TV ad involves a group of male friends in a meeting room. One of them suspects that someone in their group is gay, and another comes up with a faster way of identifying this gay friend by pulling out the new KFC Shrimp Surfers. The gay in the group literally squealed with delight, with a pointing finger to match, modulating his voice to its base level just as fast when he became aware that his friends had found him out. But the heartwarming thing his guy friends did in the end was to give him a group hug, saying outright that they accept him for what he is. So, my congratulations to the advertising agent of KFC who did this KFC Shrimp Surfers ad and to KFC as well for being this cool about gayness in the Philippines.

Here's the TV ad:

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Philippine birds: Pied Fantails in our backyard!

I didn't know what kind of bird it was. I became aware of its presence in our backyard garden in April 2008. I was taking my afternoon siesta then when I awoke to its metallic raspy chirping (I remember hearing those same bird sounds when I took a vacation in Siquijor island years ago). I tried to look for it from inside my room and peeking from the window, saw it: a black and white bird. I was so used to seeing the common Eurasian tree sparrow that this bird's presence was a welcome sight. I had tried getting a photo of it at that time but it was too swift for me.

And yesterday, after hearing its familiar bird call again, I rushed to get my Canon (a Powershot A620) and, finally, I was able to get a photo of this bird. I couldn't get close enough as our two hyperactive dogs were there ready to smother me with their profuse show of canine love. I think I was about 16 feet away when I took the shot (hence, forgive the quality of this photo). And as soon as I could, I searched for a matching photo in the internet (I checked and finally I was able to identify the bird: a pied fantail!(Rhipidura javanica)

According to wikipedia: "Fantails are small insectivorous birds of southern Asia and Australasia belonging to the genus Rhipidura in the monotypic family Rhipiduridae. Most of the species are about 15 to 18 cm long, specialist aerial feeders, and named as "fantails." The notes from says that its habitat include parks, residential areas, thickets and mangroves, and are common in most open areas, constantly flitting out of and among branches, fanning its long white-tipped tail.

The great thing was, that I got a photo, too, of the female pied fantail. Tim Fisher and Nigel Hicks in their book "Birds of the Philippines" said that the fantails occur singly in pairs or small groups. The described the female of it as having "rusty brown rump, upper tail coverts and wings," and a smaller breast band blotched with white. (do correct me if I have the wrong female bird here).

It's a good thing perhaps that my mother had planted some red hibiscus (which she pruned 'til it grew tall like a tree) in the garden and two Christmas palms and a pair of heliconias. Spiders love spinning their webs around their canopy of leaves. And perhaps the birds could have had their fill of flies in the dung of the pigeons, which my brother kept near the area as well. Haha. What a thought.

So, here they are: the fantail couple in my backyard.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Top 10 Filipino TV Commercials and Memories

During a lunch with friends, conversation drifted to television and eventually to favorite or memorable TV commercials one remembers. There was a brief pause and then the answers came flooding in.

The first replies had everyone instantly in stitches. One mentioned the TV commercial of Ola detergent bar and proceeded to sing the song at once complete with the wave of the hands. Another butted in with the song from White Castle whiskey TV commercial that had the guys in the group chorusing about the signature red two-piece suit worn by the woman riding the white horse. The others in the group looked on in puzzlement, quick to say that it was a Jurassic piece of ad for them. In an instant, hands were all over the necks of the ones “in denial.”

Admittedly, being asked about one’s favorite TV commercials through the years inevitably opens trunks of memories. Preacher Pierce Harris could not have put it more aptly when he wrote in his column at the Atlanta Journal that memory is like a child walking along a seashore—“you never can tell what small pebble it will pick up and store away among its treasured things.”

Surfing through some of the local message boards revealed such “treasured” memories. In one such message board, we encounter people happily recalling TV commercials made for 680 Home Appliances and the ditty “why don’t you shop around with your friends…” or of the Bear Brand “Look at my mole” grandfather. These are mentioned in the same breath as the TV commercials by both La Germania and Tecnogas ranges. There is also the rubbing alcohol ad that popularized the lines: “Di lang pampamilya, pang-Sports pa!” In another, there is a mention of the deathless ad of lion-tiger katol where this white guy delivers the memorable line: “sa lion-tiger katol, lamok ay laging teypok.”

The Lion-Tiger katol ad is a proof that local ad agencies had been capitalizing on humor early on and the revival of this has been noted by John Hunt, film jury president during the Cannes 25th year International Ad Festival held in Cannes, France. "I've seen more humor back in advertising. Maybe we're allowed to be a little lighter, which I think is a happy return from a few years ago when you felt guilty if you laughed."

It serves us to remember that in 1984, it was humor, too, that clinched for the ad of San Miguel Beer the very first Creative Guild Television Ad of the Year award. The TV commercials showed, among others, the late Bert “Tawa” Marcelo, Rico Puno, and the late boxer “Flash Elorde” right in the middle of deciding on the best “pulutan” to order that would go best with their beers, firing off with suggestions of “inihaw na pusit,” two plates of “kalderetang maanghang,” three large bowls of “crispy pata” until, at last, Elorde butted in to tell the waiter “Bigyan mo kami ng isang platitong mani.” (Give us one plate of nuts.) The line “isang platitong mani” became a favorite catchphrase among Filipinos when placing their orders at restaurants that it even became the title of a local movie.

The Philippine Advertising Counsellor that created the said TV commercial was obviously in tune with what advertising guru David Ogilvy himself preached. Ogilvy cited “slices of life” and “dashes of humor” as among several elements that make TV commercials register in the minds of the market it is trying to capture. Taking more than a hint, San Miguel Corp. pulled a stunt anew in 1988 and came up with its Gold Eagle Beer commercial hit involving Christopher de Leon and the late Jay Ilagan in a billiards game—who wouldn’t remember the lines “Abangan mo sa right corner pocket, sumakay ka pa!” (Wait for it at the corner right pocket. You can even ride the stick.)

One such TV commercial that capitalized on humor was the Fita biscuits ad where a guy gave half of his biscuit to an old lady who turned out to be a fairy. The storyline concluded with the guy being rewarded with half of a red sportscar. Seen on another level though, there is definitely more than humor to the said commercial as TV audiences related to the value of generosity ingenuously floated in the said ad. Value-laden ads, obviously, almost always score a ten from TV audiences as evidenced by the easily recognizable dialogue in a TV ad between a grandfather and his supposed granddaughter:

"San ka ba galing, Gina?"
"Lo, Karen po..."
"Kasi, ang tagal na nating di nagkikita, Gina"
"Lo, Karen po...."
"O sige, kain na, Gina."
"Karen po!"
"Ito, para sa paborito kong apo... si Karen!"

Back on the table that lunch time day with my friends, one was quick to contribute the hit 45-seconder Sarsi cola commercial in 1989 that came with a song that opened with the lines “Hindi ka ba natatawa, o kaya’y nagtataka? Ganoon nga ba’ng talaga? Pare-pareho na lang ba?...” (Don’t you find it funny, or don’t you wonder? Are things really that way? Is everything the same?), praising its production values as well and the way it played up the Filipinos’ sense of pride. Others in the group claimed the TV commercials like the Jollibee’s “Isa pa, isa pang chicken joy” ad, the Carlo-infatuated hotdog-eating girl, or the Coca-cola “ito ang beat sabay-sabay” ad as belonging more to their milleau. Everyone was in agreement though on the popularity of “Tolits” of the Tide commercial series or of “Aling Oba” of the Surf commercial series. The “queens” in the group were not to be left out and threw into the discussion the PLDT commercial involving “Billy”and further raved about the Pond’s commercial involving two guys holding hands in public.

Having had our fill each of an afternoon of discussion and remembrances of TV commercials we all have grown to love through the years, we headed back to our own work desks convinced of the creative energy involved in TV commercials and the power of the same not only in involving us individually in the products being sold but, more importantly, in reflecting and hearkening to otherwise forgotten aspects of ourselves as well.

(See related topic: The KFC Shrimp Surfers TV ad in the Philippines)

The Discovery of God

The Discovery of God: Abraham and the Birth of Monotheism The Discovery of God: Abraham and the Birth of Monotheism by David Klinghoffer

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is an interesting and engaging read on Abraham's life. I had to read slowly through the first three chapters but after that, I had a grand time reading through it. Klinghoffer is not an academician discussing the bible but is one who takes you into his journey of discoveries. I am thankful for this book because now I am able to understand more why Sodom and Gomorrah was burned down. And that satan is not necessarily the demon we've created in our graphics but is, in fact, merely the "accuser" within us.

View all my reviews.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tahong chips, ampalaya chips, calabasa crispy strips, etc.

Yesterday, my journalist friend Roel Hoang Manipon brought with him tahong chips (local mussels grounded and fried), bottled and ready to eat adobong tahong, calabasa (squash) crispy strips, and even ampalaya (bitter gourd) chips. They were all from Bacoor, Cavite. The tahong chips and adobo were processed by the Ocean Fresh Tahong Products located in Siniguelasan, Bacoor, Cavite (tel. no. 046-434-1824 / 0918-6199689). The ampalaya chips is a product of Farm Delight (tel. no. 046-434-1824 / 0918-6199689). Roel informed me that they were also toured to old houses in the area and that he tasted some great halo-halo, whose ingredients had been handed down from one generation to another. I'll link you to his article once he's written it.

I tried the ampalaya chips and it has a bitter aftertaste, but nevertheless, is a true gourmet find (I suppose the part of the ampalaya that went into it were the leaves. A bit of a warning though: I felt a little dizzy eating this chips). The adobo tahong, too, was a bit peppery for me. The rest of Roel's treats I heartily ate away.

The Greeks in the Philippines

To regular Manila commuters, Adamson University is easily identifiable as one among the string of educational institutions that dot Taft avenue, along with Manila Science High School in the corner of United Nations Avenue to Sta. Isabel College down to the Philippine Normal University near SM Manila.

Others may have even referred to it simply as the school near Masagana supermarket. But only a few, aside from its students, knew that Adamson University was founded by the Greeks. This is among the interesting and eye-opening facts that one learns from the 151-page commemorative hardbound book, which the University published under current president Rev. Fr. Gregorio L. Bañaga, Jr. to detail its 75th year of existence in the country.

On the cover of the book is the digitally composed group picture of Vincentian priests, the Adamsons and some members of the faculty, a picture that dates back to the late 1800s. At the lower half of the cover is the 1948 photo of the St. Vincent Building. On the back cover is the St. Vincent Building (the University) as is stands today in San Marcelino street.

The story of the Adamson University is ingeniously presented under 75 chapters, which the editorial team referred to as 75 “touchstones” or standards against which the University’s success can be measured.

A Grecian Mind
Appropriately, the chapters start with “The Adamopolous Odyssey” presented in a two-page timeline form ably helped by a sprinkling of pictures serving as a brief backgrounder on the University founder himself George Lucas Adamopoulos. Readers come to know about Adamopoulos’ birth in Parnassus, Greece in 1899, to his completion of his degree in Chemistry at the University of Athens, to the changing of his surname to Adamson (“poulos” means son in Greek) in Australia in 1928, to his employment in a distillery in Albay, Bicol, and to his eventual establishment of the Adamson School of Industrial Chemistry in Manila in June 1932. It was Adamson’s firm belief that what the country’s educated sector needed to learn was “applied chemistry” for the Philippines to benefit from its wealth of natural resources that either lay unused or were amassed for export. Adamson saw the opportunity to manufacture such raw resources.

Following the principle “a maximum amount of practical education in a minimum amount of time,” George Lucas Adamson, together with his cousins Alexander Athos, and George Athos Adamson, started teaching a night class in a one-lecture room setup at the Paterno Building on Plaza Goiti, Sta.Cruz in Manila. They also created the Adamson Technical High School, which employed the teaching methods and techniques of top European schools at that time. The secondary education offered a variety of specialization courses that by 1935 it numbered to 40 including sugar technology, commercial preparation of fruits and vegetables, mining and metallurgy, ceramics, soap-making, leather and tanning, essences and foods, and glass manufacture, among others. The Adamson School of Industrial Chemistry held its first commencement exercises on June 30, 1934 with 76 graduates, four of whom were women. For a newly-established Philippine Commonwealth, this development was a big push towards the country’s goals of becoming an industrialized nation. The School eventually evolved into the Adamson School of Industrial Chemistry and Engineering in 1936, and finally into the Adamson University in 1941. The University grew and with the Philippine government’s thrust of nationalizing all alien-controlled schools, Adamson, not a Filipino citizen himself, saw it prudent to turn it over to the Vincentian priests on December 4, 1964. The rest, as they say, is history.

Adamson Under the Vincentians
And who were the Vincentians? The Vincentians arrived in the country in 1862 tasked as they were by ecclesiastical authorities to educate the future priests in the Philippines. Almost sixty percent of the Philippine ecclesiastical hierarchy were trained by them. Among the alumni of the Vincentian-run seminaries were Cardinal Rufino Santos, Cardinal Julio Rosales, Cardinal Jaime L. Sin. The Daughters of Charity, who were also under the Vincentians, runs today’s Colegio de Sta. Isabel, the school beside Adamson University (interestingly, the book states that the College was originally established to educate orphans of Spanish officers, and later on, girls from poor families).

To date, the Vincentians actively runs the Adamson University with its ten colleges offering over 50 courses. The University also currently has a Basic Education department comprised of high school and grade school units with computer subjects, along with the St. Vincent School of Theology, which offers graduate courses.

Overall, this commemorative book provides a stimulating and easy read on the interesting history of Adamson University, helped by a good layout. One gets amused, for example, by the story involving alumnus Andrew de Real who, on being reprimanded for his exuberance inside the school library, declared that he’ll someday build a library where one could laugh to his hearts content. Thus, was born the popular comedy bar in Malate called The Library. Adding further to the readability of the book are light-hearted short features on the Adamson students’ casual fashion sense, their favorite hang-outs, and snacks available around the campus.

More importantly, the book has clarified for the readers Adamson University’s key place in the history of the country’s crucial stages at becoming an industrialized nation, and is a fitting ode to a Greek who made the school’s existence possible.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Frog Legs!

Whoa! It's my first time to eat fried frog legs, that oh so loved cuisine of the French and the Vietnamese! And the verdict? Well, as the cliché "tastes like chicken." Hehe. Well, wikipedia has an explanation for the cliché ( that chicken, in truth, has a bland taste because of its lower levels of glutamates or that which makes food savory. Hence, anything that tastes bland would be referred to as tasting like chicken.

In any case, I finished two frog legs that evening. (My dear friends Myra and Amiya helped me eat the rest, of course. And thank you Ms. Bubbles for this treat!)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Filipino writers go blogging to draw readers in

Sept. 16- I attended the Pistang Panitik lecture at the SMX beside Mall of Asia. Present were Filipino writer/bloggers Marnes Kilates, Dean Alfar, Vlad Gonzales and Sonny Villafania.

This happened within the event Manila International Book Fair (already on its 29th year). There were at least fifteen people who attended the lecture. It was basically meant to let people know that some of our Filipino writers have happily found a kind of second space for their writings, no longer bound by the question of where to put their writings when there are no available publishers around. For Dean Alfar, blogging, he said, reacquainted him with his writing gift, having had to set aside his creative guns to work for an advertising agency. Then his closest cousin died and when he finally started on his keys in his laptop, the words just flowed out. There was no turning back for him since then.

During the open forum, writer Abdon "Jun" Balde, Jr. asked if the writers in the panel were not afraid of de-valuing their creative work (i.e. novels, poetry) by posting it online. That their work would lose their value in print and people would no longer buy the printed copy. Alfar answered it by saying initially that he did not have such a fear, and went on to explain that, in fact, most writers in the U.S. had gone into posting whole novels online. But instead of losing out in print sales, the sales of their books actually went up. People did buy the real thing when they read it online and liked it.

I share Alfar's views on this. After the said talk, I went around. If you were there yourself, it would have seemed like Solomon's treasures, and any bibliophile would have hyperventilated and panicked. And the good news is, tadah: that Filipinos came and bought books. I saw students calculating in their minds what they could buy with their extra allowance, old people in wheelchair followed by their maids, mothers with their kids. Powerbooks and National Bookstore had the largest booths, but the other printing houses, whether school based (UST, U.P., St. Paul,) or private ones, did have their fair share of the sales (which, come to think of it, shouldn't be so surprising, as branches of Booksale, that second-hand bookstore, have already cropped up everywhere...which means they're thriving...which means Filipinos are buying books...and reading).

Developing the Filipinos' love for reading is still at the core of these writers's reason for going online, they admitted, and not for the blogging money. And yes, they are letting the world know that they exist in this corner of the world.

I left the book fair with a sudden craving for dark chocolates.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ma'am C

Sept 13, 2008- She was my Chemistry teacher in high school. And a very good one at that. By a chance encounter with a dance group from my high school visiting my current office, I was able to get her mobile phone. We had planned on meeting two Saturdays ago. The first Saturday I had a flu. The second Saturday I was in a wedding event in Island Cove as one of the coordinators for my events group. So there, finally, we met in Gateway, Cubao. Ma'am C texted that she'd meet me in Body Shop. I was hoping secretly that she would look more or less as I had remembered her. And Ma'am C was as I had remembered her, only this time, she was in casual clothes: she was wearing a dark pink top and had her back to me cupping both hands to her nose. When she turned to face me, Ma'am C immediately gave her hands for me to smell (which I did) telling me that it was the same lotion they put on her at the salon, where she had her nails done just hours ago. She had dark pink nails. Ma'am C had remained single. All I could initially tell her was that she was "preserved."

I took her to Starbucks where I immediately started my barrage of questions on each of my classmates or whoever I managed to remember. I learned that they had a mini reunion in Music 21 in Malate in 2004. I asked about E, A, G, R, N, and all the other classmates I could think off. Most of them had families, one was in Australia, one in Dubai, two in the United States. She had mentioned C and J as the two who had been in touch the most times with her. We started to peel away at the years we had not seen each other. We then watched local film "For the First Time," one that was partly shot in Santorini, Greece. She had started to talk more just as the film was about to start, and then broke off from talks about my batchmates and started to talk about going home sometimes to her condo unit only to stare at the lizard on the ceiling. The previous Monday she said, she found herself crying. She stopped her story when the first scenes came on view.

We finished the film, had dinner and talked some more about my classmates, us her students, and then it came-- a line or two about her P7,000 monthly take home salary (less all the loans she took). I rode a cab with her to Monumento where she took another ride to Bulacan. Before boarding, I gave her a tight hug, her spirits somehow lifted.

Reunions always border on the surreal, don't you think so? For one, it's like taking out your photo albums accidentally and suddenly remembering bits and pieces of memories from all the photos, only this time, one's memory is supplied with other surprising information. There were the pots of plants being hurled down from the school's top floor by some of my male batchmates during the Junior & Senior Dance Ball. There was the issue of our fourth year adviser Ms. M (who died from a heart attack) getting jealous over the attention our class gave Ma'am C, who was then our third year adviser.

For now, such memories acquaint themselves with my older memories, the former creating a cushion of space for it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Love Songs (Les Chansons d'Amour)

Sept. 11 - I was able to watch the opening film of the 11th Cine Europa with my friends (Myra, Amiya, Noee, Che, Rein and her friend Rod, Ms. Bubbles & her husband) at Shangri-La Mall in Shaw boulevard.

The film was "Love Songs" (Les Chansons d'Amour) by Christophe Honoré.

The Cine Europa booklet states:

"This modernist musical about love and loss in Paris centers around a young couple, Ismael (Louis Garrel) and Julie (Ludivine Sagnier), who in the hope of sparking their stalled relationship, enter a playful yet emotionally laced threesome with Alice (Clotilde Hesme). When tragedy strikes, these young Parisians are forced to deal with the fragility of life and love. For Ismael, this means (after the death) negotiating through the advances of Julies' sister and a young college student (Gregoire Leprince-Ringuet)--one of whom may offer him redemption."

It was a beautiful film. The singing was initially off putting but the direction was brilliantly. In my mind, I was imagining a film of my own, with a story strung together around the songs of the local band "Aegis" songs like "Halik" etc. sprinkled with, let's say, Jessa Zaragoza songs and a few ones from Noel Cabangon thrown in. But I digress. Seventy percent into the film and I felt, like the rest of the audience perhaps, that I could not really guess how the film would end, and it was exhiliratingly engaging towards the end. And when the closing scene came, I was absolutely smitten by the film.

This is a spoiler for those who haven't seen the film but I would say that the last words from Ismael were the ones which will be most quoted by the audience:
"Love me less but love me for a long time"
...words that were sealed by a kiss no less. (I wish I had the original french words).

Catch all the other films until Sept. 21. Check the screening schedule at or call Shangri-La cinema.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Reinerio Alba At Large

The Leaders Filipinos Deserve

Last Sept. 4, I brought along my sister Sheryl, and officemate and friend Myra, to attend the Leadership Forum organized by the Ayala Young Leaders Congress (AYLC) secretariat in Asian Institute of Management, Makati City.

I have been wanting to see Pampanga priest-turned-governor Panlilio in person along with the polio-stricken Gov. Grace Padaca of Isabela. Their David vs. Goliath stories have been well covered by the media (and thank God/Goddess for that): in 2007, Panlilio, or "Among Ed" among his supporters, went against incumbent Governor Mark Lapid and board member Lilia “Baby" Pineda; Padaca against Faustino Dy Jr. in 2004. Both had only the solid faith and support of their constituents for the alternative leadership/politics they were offering. And win they did.

That evening forum in Makati brought Padaca and Panlilio anew with new-found allies such as Ifugao's Gov. Teddy Baguilat, Mayors Jesse Robredo of Naga City and Sonia Lorenzo of San Isidro, Nueva Ecija. The forum became a venue for the young people (who paid P100 each)to listen to their struggles and their current experiences being in the shoes of leaders in their particular towns and provinces. We later learned that their group earlier visited Mapua school where they also gave talks.

Gov. Panlilio was the first to arrive and he proceeded to sit directly at the front row by himself. Since we were just a row away from him, we asked him for a quick photo shoot, shameless photo animals that we were. I only managed to say "Good evening, po," and briefly contemplated touching his hand to my forehead when the camera clicked. Then a group of three approached him, then a group of five, a couple, then a grand queue. One would have thought that no less than Ate Vi was there.

Padaca arrived just after the opening remarks was delivered. And all heads did turn to her direction when the host announced her name. Oddly, though she was in crutches, she seemed to have floated altogether tackling that strip of floor from the back of the room onto the stage. All that time, she had this smile that seemed to bless each face it met, and one's heart felt comforted at once (ok, it might just be me exaggerating but the whole room of about 200 people came to a calming joyousness when she began walking, something akin perhaps to seeing Pope John Paul II walk right by you, when he was alive, of course). No wonder, she won over the hearts of the people of Isabela (in 2004 she had at least 40,000 votes over Dy).

And so each told their story. And they were the proof and the story. In the end, listening to all their stories put the fire back in one's faith that there is still hope for the country, that there is hope in wishing for good governance in the Philippines, that there are good people who are willing to put up a good fight and be the good changes that they want to see in the country. That good Filipino leaders are not a thing of the past. That if a cluster of bad people can bring ruin to our country, then good people can buck the dirty brand of politics this country has seen and make smart changes. That is if Filipinos would support these good leaders, we will have the government we finally deserve.

These local officials have banded together under the Kaya Natin! a movement for genuine change and ethical leadership started by Harvey Keh of the Ateneo School of Government. You all will be hearing more of this movement as they are set to tour around schools and other institutions in the country. The Kaya Natin! movement calls for a platform of ethical leadership, good governance, transparency, social accountability and electoral reforms.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Eryyne Eryyna, the 11-year Old Actress in "Congkak"

Sept 1, 2008 - Eryyne Eryyna, the 11-year old child actress in the Malaysian film "Congkak" made a courtesy call at our office with her director Ahmad Idham. Mr. Idham is also the director of the movie Mr. Cinderella where he also acted.

Eryyne speaks fluent English and looks a bit like my niece Sofia. I asked her about the paint they used on her body. She said that it was airbrushed onto her and took all of two hours to apply. She said it had been fun for her acting in the movie and had not been scared at all. The film is about a haunted house and a family who survived through it. The "congkak" or the "sungka" we know here in the Philippines, is featured in the film.

"Congkak" will have its regular commercial run in the Philippines on Sept. 10. For details, go to or search for it in youtube.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Human Encounters 101: Foreigners in the Philippines

Aug 29, 2008(Friday)- It was quite an encounter. I was just about to leave the office to meet my friends in Robinson Manila when I received a call on my mobile phone. It was Roel Hoang Manipon, my journalist friend, and fellow lover of life and knowledge. He said he met two foreigners (one German guy and one Spanish woman) by the gate of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila in Intramuros. He asked if I could bring them along with me since I was just about to have dinner and the couple were looking for a place where they could eat. I obliged and relented eventually (perhaps for having nothing better to do, hehe, telling myself that this was something new). I met them and, after a brief introduction of sorts, Roel left them to my care just like that.

David is a teacher from south of Germany (i still couldn't get the exact name of his town to this day) and Nai is a marketing person from Madrid. I took them to Robinson's Manila where we met the rest of my friends (Jenny, Myra, Nydia, and Rene). We decided to take them to this strip of grill "houses" along malate, in front of Tia Maria's. They ordered mostly veggie barbecues (tofu, eggplant, tomatoes) while we had "sisig". They initially begged off when we told them that "sisig" was the meat and skin off a pig's head, but they got curious and eventually tasted it and found it delicious. Afterwards, we headed for the videoke bar Synder's in Nakpil where I sang Freddie Aguilar's "Anak" for them (they heard it back in Coron, Palawan, where they also met the legend himself, Pepe Smith). Nai graciously relented to our request and sang The Police's "Roxanne" and Shakira's "Te Dejo Madrid." Later, they left ahead and met a friend in Penguin's Cafe while we stayed on singing to our heart's content.

The next day, we (Nydia and I) met them by lunch time at Quiapo church. I told them about what little I know of the Black Nazarene and the annual procession every January. David was amazed to find Jollibee beside the church itself (commerce & religion do mix). Outside, Nai bought the seven colored candle (at P20). Randomly, she handed out candles to us: green candle (money & good fortune) to Nydia; red candle (good health & for family) to me; and orange candle (career & success) to David. Afterwards, they both bought the pirated CD of Freddie Aguilar at the Carriedo street. Then I bought unripe mango along the way and they were surprised by its sourness. I also had them taste the "panutsa" with peanuts. Then, we walked over to the Ongpin street (the Sta.Cruz side) and met Myra. We had a very late lunch at Chuankee restaurant or the Fireman's Cafe beside the Binondo church in Ongpin still. David tried the beef noodle while Nai ordered for lumpia and fried tofu. I got the kiampong and shared some siomai with Myra. They insisted on paying the bill. Afterwards, they asked if we know how to get to Makati for a cockfight derby. We asked them for the exact address in their Lonely Planet guide. We squeezed ourselves inside a cab going to Tambo, Parañaque but there wasn't any cockfight scheduled for that day. We were told that we could catch one in Zapote, Alabang, so off we zoomed. Myra had to ask the lady at the entrance if we could get in for free as we were only there to see the show and not to gamble. We were allowed free entrance and we got seats in the balcony section (second floor) where we got a good view of the fight. The crowd expectedly were men and they were curious at first with our presence but then went back immediately to placing their bets when the cocks appeared inside the ring. David had a grand time catching some of it on his digicam. Fifteen minutes later and we were all a bit disoriented with our first cockfight, specially after seeing blood squirting from at least 6 pairs of fighting cocks lacerated as they were by the "tarik" or blade in their feet. Then you had the whole buzz of the "kristos" dealing out fast hand signals to bettors left and right. "Shocked" was the word I had when David asked me how I felt. We took the bus out of there. I fell asleep in mid travel and when I woke up, we were already in Buendia. We then transfered to a bus going to Ayala because they said they wanted to see Makati. They were amused to see this side of the country. Passing through Landmark, David bought a pair of brown Dupé slippers, immediately throwing the Thai flip flop he had. We settled into eating dinner at Fuzion where they had this bed set up outside. David & Nai only had salad as they were still full from the Binondo lunch. The Filipino that I am, I ordered the rice meal arroz ala cubana. :) Nai amused us when she went around barefoot while waiting for our food to arrive. She came back asking us about the salary that the lowest paid and the highest paid Filipino worker were getting in the country. We told her at least P300 a day for a minimum wage earner. She made some calculations in her head and told us that the amount was just the price of 6 or 7 magazines in the nearby stall. They told us that they were surprised to encounter the two faces of the Philippines: the one earlier in Quiapo and that of Makati. David said that in Germany, one would not see that much disparity in terms of lifestyle among his people. We then left to catch the MRT because they said they wanted to experience it for themselves, so we walked to the Ayala MRT station. We all got off at Taft avenue and got a cab. Nai immediately asked the cab driver to load the Freddie Aguilar cd onto the player. We dropped off David in his hotel in Heritage, and (how amusing that) with Freddie Aguilar singing in the background, the mood became a bit sad. Nai exchanged email addresses with David. They were not even a couple. They just met in Palawan. They had a handshake as a last parting act. On the way, Nai said that, previously, when she emailed her friends about her visits in other countries prior to the Philippines, she wrote them 6 pages of writing, but with her Philippine visit, she said she would perhaps just manage to write them a paragraph (because she couldn't tell them exactly about her good experience here, and she wouldn't know where to start). She gave each of us a tight hug, and when we last saw her entering the gate, she saw a familiar face outside and talked with the person awhile. We sped off into the night, very much thankful for the encounter.

Looking back, I thought, in whatever skin we are in, we are still, after all, residents of this planet, a planet that is at once really really big, and really really small. And each encounter with another human being, no matter how far removed from us, is but an occassion at becoming more human.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Real Estate in the Philippines: Face to face with the Fil-Estate King

Aug 22 (2008), Ortigas.-- I attended the launch of the "new" Fil-Estate at the Mega Tent along Meralco Avenue.

It was a great event and old and new agents alike celebrated the strong comeback of the real estate giant. Fil-Estate Chair Robert John L. Sobrepeña was there to proudly announce to his Fil-Estate family about Fil-Estate's new found thrust:

"All our sales will be conducted with the new and effective Pre-Development system. This means that our products will be available for sale only when they are fully funded and substantially completed...Gone are the pre-selling days of model units and fancy brochures. I believe that if there is a risk on any project, it must be squarely on the shoulders of the developers."

As most would know, Fil-Estate was the hardest hit during the real estate slump, and many projects were of course affected. Sobrepeña assures people that they are now taking the reins again and taking up the challenge of developing real estate with the clients' best interest in mind, hence the new tag line : Real Estate, Real People.

I've been to the sites and they were incredible!(the photo above is the one near St. Luke's Hospital in Quezon City--it's a condo but it's in a townhouse style). In case you want to see their best projects to date, do go quickly to

And of course, I just got to have a snapshot of Mr. Sobrepeña with me that night. :)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Meeting the "Dayo" Creators One Rainy Friday in August

Hey! :) Last Aug. 15, 2008, I got the chance to interview and meet in person Mr. Jessie Lasaten (the one in mocha polo) and his group at their office in Greenbelt Mansion in Makati. Wow! I had a grand tour of their office and I even got to see the resin figures they made of the main characters of their latest film "Dayo" (foreigner).

The film is the first all digital animation film made locally and they'll be entering it for this year's Metro Manila Film Festival. It's a story about Bubuy and his adventures in Elementalia where he meets creatures like the local mananangal (winged half creatures). Mr. Lasaten says the budget for the film reached a total of $1million. They showed me a preview of the said film and I was amazed and proud that, finally, a 4-year old production company took on such a project.

What pushed Mr. Lasaten to do the film, he said, was that he was able to do, this time, a full orchestra score for "Dayo." He admitted that it had always been his frustration. Saludo naman ako sa kanya. Ang mga pelikula kaseng Filipino di ba lagi na lang isang kanta lang sa buong pelikula na yun. Un na nga ung title, paulit ulit pang pinapatugtog throughout the film, haayy. Hehe.

With me in the photo here are director Robert Quilao (in black shirt) and Erwin Escubio, finance director.

You can view a sample trailer of "Dayo" at

P.S. Also, I wrote an article on Lasaten and his team and the Dayo project. Do await for it in the November issue of Entrepreneur (Philippines) magazine.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Meeting the SEXY MOM!

Last July 1, 2008, I was able to attend the seminar "Riding the Web 2.0 Wave: Issues and Challenges in Research and Advocacy Today. This was sponsored by the Institute for Labor Studies and Vibal Foundation at the DOLE Ople Hall in Intramuros, Manila.

Being involved in a government web site myself as a content editor (, I soaked up all that was discussed during the seminar. Web 2.0, coined by O'Reilly Media in 2004, is a phrase used to describe a change in the way people use the internet. I was particularly taken by the presentation of speaker Robert Matthew Romero. He said that these days, we have become our own broadcaster, our own DJs, our own publisher. Because of the internet, people have ceased being merely an audience. Instead, we have become participants and collaborators, with our content contributions becoming the media. WE HAVE BECOME THE MEDIA. He pointed to currently existing Web 2.0 technologies such as blogs, wikis, social networking sites (flickr, friendster, multiply, facebook), social bookmarking (, RSS (really simple syndication, which makes it possible for people to keep up with web sites in an automated manner), and mashups (hybridb applications, i.e. google earth project). Romero posed the challenge to government agencies to take advantage of these Web 2.0 technologies to bridge what he termed as the Digital Divide. And that the sooner government agencies start using the Web 2.0 technologies to extend their services to the public, the sooner will the end users benefit. In relation to this, the participants were introduced to Wikipilipinas, the country's own online encyclopedia built by the readers themselves. This knowledge sharing and dynamic content building was also exemplified for the participants in the web site

The highlight of my attendance to the said seminar, of course, was my encounter with the Sexy Mom herself. Ask any blogger, and chances are, they've heard of Sexy Mom. Sexy Mom is Ms. Dine Racoma whose own web site has already attracted 331195 visitors (as of Aug 14, 2008 when I checked)based on the blog counter that said: "since 2006". Try googling "sexy mom," and her web site comes up on top of the list. Yes, she candidly admitted that she has received flak for the label "sexy mom" as one reader had once confronted her. But she explained that her reason for using "sexy mom" was far from what that reader had harangued her for. She explained that she started that blog after retiring from the corporate world. She became conscious of her figure, and one time, she asked her children if she had started to look fat. They replied that she was the sexiest mom for them. Hence, the now famous tag for her site. But lest you think she was writing sleazy material, go check She writes about almost anything, sharing with the readers lessons in her experiences, even by merely writing about her granddaughters. And rather than take a beating from that angry reader, she has since shared her knowledge and energy with a web site that is helping erase the sleazy image attached with the word Filipina. She happily talked about the web site, which she co-founded with Noemi Dado and Lorna Dietz. The site is a collaborative effort of all bloggers who believe that the Filipina deserves a more empowered, better image online. Her presence for that afternoon's seminar was by itself already a proof of her message. That yes, Filipinas are sexy, but more importantly, that Filipinas had, all along, been carrying worthier labels. So, I was happy that afternoon to discover, so to speak, a proud sexy Filipina mom. And this photo here is my proof of that. Don't you just love us here? :)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Mermaid in Atimonan, Quezon

I am sharing this photo of a mermaid's statue in Barangay Angeles, Atimonan, Quezon, which, my sister was able to capture in her camera. I searched through the google for other such similar mermaids by the sea. Of course, there's the famous Little Mermaid in Copenhagen Denmark. But the only other mermaid by the sea I've seen is the one in Mazatlan, Mexico (the Grand Cayman mermaid is in the sea floor). I think the local barangay should make something out of this. It definitely is a spot worth visiting.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Hello Fabulous 2008!

Hello fabulous 2008! Wow, I've been quiet here for the last three months. So many things have happened since then. Hmm, let me start with what I've been doing these days.

For one, my "The Secret" audio files (by Rhonda Byrne) are on a constant play in my phone. I play it on my way to work and back while in transit. I'm really happy that I came upon Byrne's book. And I'm keeping the audio files on my phone to help me remember "to remember." It clarified things for me and helped me tilt my mind towards prosperity, bliss, with love being the fulcrum to all my dreams and aspirations. Nah, not the romantic love, but love in its true form. If one is able to stay in this frequency of love, one can attract every wonderful thing, experience, person (even all the money) one wants. That's the secret let out of the bag, which is not really a secret. We just had to be reminded of that one important ingredient in living a truly magnificent life. I'm happy to report, too, that last Jan. 12, I've attended the seminar "How to be Truly Rich" by Bo Sanchez with my sisters and friends. We re-learned about tithing (10%), about allotting 20% of one's income for one's wealth fund, then another 20% of it for emergency fund every month...about being financially secure, -intelligent, and -responsible in essence. And that we are created for wealth and not for poverty. But the one message that he said that made perfect sense, too, is that "the purpose of wealth is to love." So, these days, I'm keen about building my wealth, and adding upon my Vision or Dream Board, which is a board where I put all my wished-for things: car (BMW M5 or M6, Toyota Prius); watch (Rolex perpetual oyster); house designs, dream vacations with my family (leaning tower in Tuscany, or the Fountain of Trevi in Rome, or the whole of Europe, for that matter, Disneyland California, a talk with Oprah Winfrey, or Bono, or Madonna, or Daniel Radcliffe, or Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, etc.). These are practically anything I've longed for or secretly wished in my life, even my dream of having my own corporation that helps Filipinos realize their wealth powers and their significance in this planet. And I am telling you that I am having a grand time sourcing these photos and pasting them onto my dream board, which is in fact, my computer. You should see all these photos as they show up one by one on my screensaver! Hehe. I know that in time I'll manifest each of these desires. I've also just watched a National Geographic Channel show on aliens (I missed the title) and it was a great discussion in the sense that it brought the talk of aliens to us mankind here back on the planet; that we are, in fact, the aliens, with the bacteria coming from Mars reaching the earth eons ago inside an asteroid. That we should, in fact, no longer need to look outside earth in search of aliens, but that we should realize that we are the heirs to such so-called "aliens". This was followed the next day by a show titled "Birth of the Universe," and this all the more reminded me of the core stuff humankind and all things here on earth are made of: essentially the same materials that can be found in stars, in all things spread out in the universe, and that we are still very much part of this creative process, which the universe is still undergoing. We are o-n-e with this creative process. The sooner we realize this, the sooner all of us will experience and set off our magnificent lives.

I'm in this frequency right now and I am elatedly happy! I wish you the same frequency of love wherever you are! :)