August 31, 2004

A Bacolod Treat

A relative from Bacolod arrived in the apartment today bringing several goodies from Bacolod. There were homemade country sausages, and bangus, among others. But the treat I was excited for was the Dulce Gatas.

Dulce Gatas. Also known as Dulce de Leche among Latin American countries like Argentina and Peru, and also known as Caramel spread or Milk Jam in Europe, is a famous dessert in Negros. Most of the product is manufactured in the culinary heart of Silay City. It's made from fresh carabao's milk and sugar which is reduced to a caramel consistency. It is then poured into Tupperware-like pots and is immediately stored in the ref. It's eaten by spooning the sticky mess and licking it like crazy. Dulce Gatas stays for a long long time... more than a month, but due to insistent urge to dig in, it doesn't stay for more than two weeks.

Mmm... heaven. Posted by Hello

This is pure decadence. Mmmm...The texture is soft and slightly oily and it sticks to the tongue.It's like that taste of caramel but with a more "going-down-&-going-up" flavor. Dulce gatas is best eaten cold and in front of the TV after dinner. But it's advisable to treat yourself with a small amount cuz the calorie count and glucose amount is quite high. But with a dessert such as this, who cares?

August 30, 2004

Peque's Gone Korean

The cover of Summertime.

Yesterday was another treasure-hunting day in Quiapo. There were lots of Asian films especially from Korea and it seems that this country really has a lot to offer. So I went to my suki tindahan and picked up a couple of films. One of which was Jae-ho Park's "Summertime" which was released 2001. I thought for awhile it was standard Korean erotica but the moment the first scene unfolded, I was taken aback to see the stark similarities with this film and Peque's 1983 film, "Scorpio Nights."
Through the internet, it was known that Summertime was indeed the "official" remake of Scorpio Nights with the full blessing of Peque Gallaga.

To say that the film was a remake is an understatement. It's really a xerox copy- from start to finish albeit some insignificant details like the premise why the peeping tom is there and much more.

Looks familiar.

The film itself is filled to the brim with bump-&-grind sex scenes. Not that I enjoy watching it. ^_^wink ^_^wink It's quite graphic but not to the point of being pornographic. No frontal nudity. But to see the actress writhe in sweaty ecstasy is sheer delight. The plot is solid just like Peque's original. But the main selling point of this film is *****oooh.. sex. Nothing but pure adulterated sex.

It might be seen as a rip-off but to see that one of the top Korean directors took notice of our films (take note: by the Experimental Cinema of the Phils.) is already an acknowledgement of our expertise in this field and more importantly, an honor to the Filipino people.

August 29, 2004

A Dali Moment

I went to Robinson's Place yesterday to meet with a couple of friends for dinner when I saw this most surreal scene: a badminton competition right inside the mall. What thu? I know it's common to see a Catholic mass inside a mall, or a celebrity show, but a badminton tourney?? What gives? It's as if you had a basketball 3-on-3 inside Glorietta or a Wimbledon match inside Harrods. Well, I know for a fact that no one will get "hurt" from a shuttlecock to the head but it's just too close for comfort to see sporty players sweating, racing to the net and jumping up and down in the court.

I can't find where my shuttlecock has landed. Posted by Hello

However, I'm glad that this sport is fast gaining respect and support from Filipinos who are already brainwashed with basketball. At least in this way, everyone can play the game- young, old, short, fat, tall, ugly, etc. And the amount you need to spend for badminton is quite affordable- just a trusty racket and a shuttle cock. But the best advantage of this game is that you can play the game practically anywhere, from backyards, to the Baywalk, and yes, even inside a Robinson's mall.

Garbage In, Garbage Out

I can still remember those high school days of being assigned to read novels such as Iliad, J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye (which I got bored reading) and short stories by Guy de Maupassant. The material was scarce since we have to contend ourselves with xeroxed copies or have to fight among our classmates for the the limited supply of battered novels from the library. Thus, we were not really honed to appreciate thick written works much more read classical literature.

But if teachers and school administrators try to intensify their literacy campaign by assigning more book reports, initiating literature contests and procuring more novels and classical works, only then perhaps the students can have a more solid and meaningful foundation for their careers. Their vocabulary will expand, they will be able to engage in intelligent and impassioned conversation about history, politics and culture and they'll become aware of different idealogies that will mold their mental outlook. They will not become mere puppets of the media, the government or the church but they will form credible and rational opinions about relationships, justice and progress for which they shall apply later in life.

But alas, nothing like this happens. Not in a large scale. We see whiny students in endless conversations about mindless plots from telenovelas. We see narrow-minded politicians and housewives who cannot stomach anything that's not endorsed by their local priest. We see people believing every propaganda the government gives them without even consulting credible sources. We see stupid crowds salivating at stupid air-headed starlets during election campaigns- campaigns which doesn't address the issues of population control, food security, housing, etc. We see clueless contestants who cannot identify "The Sleeping Giant." We see apathetic college students and employees ignorant of the current state of their environment and who are clueless about their rights and privileges.

I mean, our way of thinking has become a pool of water conforming to whatever shape the surface gives it and trickling down wherever gravity is strong. Many have lost their capacity to think. We have become jaded, cynical and passive most of the time. Our heads are filled with garbage from telenovelas to Eat Bulaga to Kris Aquino's latest tantrum. As they say, "Garbage in, garbage out."

The implications of a mind that does not read are immense. Without reading on history and learning from it, we are doomed to repeat the consequences of our perinneal bad habits. Another is that we are contented to become disposable employees rather than entrepreneurs. Look at the Chinese: they are voracious readers of self-improvement books like Johnson's "Who Moved My Cheese?" so that they have an idea on how to be successful. We are happy to what is doled out to us without question and our lack of imagination (that was not developed due to inadequate reading perhaps) prevents us from pursuing a higher level in life, just like GMA whose method of governace has the imagination proportional to her height.

It saddens me that these things are happening to us. Are we that cursed? I just hope that we shall enough time to flood our brains and purge the garbage within. And plant the seeds for the next generation. It's all a matter of time I guess.

August 27, 2004

In a Twinkle of an Eye

Yesterday despite of the typhoon, I wrote a long missive about the absurdity on how our elected senators cling to their pork barrel fund as if it was their birthright. So lengthy it was that I felt a pang of fear that such entry was practically inviting Murphy to apply his cursed law. And then I hear the door knocked; it was Murphy himself.

These were the main points from that article:

1. Senators & Congressmen are elected solely for the purpose of legislating. Period. They are not there to earmark pet projects or usurp the responsibilities of the different agencies and the local units. They should leave the initiating, planning, budgeting and implementing of schools, roads, housing, basketball courts, and watersheds to the likes of mayors, governors and provincial agency heads since these are the people who really stay put in their different locales. This "project" thing is the perfect scapegoat for some inutile senators to be absent from senate hearings, committee meetings, etc, where their representative votes are crucial for without their presence, there may not be a quorum to pass anything at all.

2. Many current senators are undeserving of their CDFs. Sen. Osmeña III may have a long list of CDF-funded pet projects in Cebu but his legislative portfolio according to PDI columnist Bambi Harper is nothing more but two bills- bills to rename España and Taft into Tañada and Diokno avenues! Sen. Lapid on the other hand excused himself in the middle of the senate meeting for the defense committee where Sen. Joker was grilling the generals because of some appropriation scam. Lapid didn't contribute as much as a pip in the hearing but instead (yes, in front of the camera) whispered to his staff while showing him the documents pertaining to the meeting. Perhaps Lapid wasn't able to read it beforehand? From what was portrayed in the news, I can assume that the honorable senator did not know what the issue at hand was. Shame indeed. Even Sen. Pimentel lamented how some neophyte senators (Revilla, Lapid & Estrada) aren't keen on learning the ropes of legislating for they are frequently absent during meetings. Probably attending to their "constituents".

Okay, finished. As I pushed the Publish button, to my horror, a terrible error struck. Server not found! What tha &@#*%$! My face went white and my skin became cold. Aaargh!! I then developed a sudden urge to pull out the roots of my hair after realizing that all the words have been erased into oblivion. I cannot believe that such a glitch happened. Aargh! With that, I ate lunch na lang to drown my sorrows and watched Ms. Global Pinay to cheer me up.

August 24, 2004

Lust Song Syndrome

AAAARGH!!! The building opposite the apartment is really driving me craaazy!! Every night, every blasted single night (from dusk 'til dawn), it plays that infernal racket called, "Itsumo" over and over again. It has probably played it for more than 10 times just this night. My ears are already hemorrhaging from listening to that long-winded pseudo-japanese drivel (whose Niponggo lyrics don't mean one single coherent sentence). And Itsumo is now stucked in my amygdala. I think the song is beginning to transform from "Itsumo" to "Isubo" quickly. My mind is racing to erase the picture of sweaty gyrating, long-haired, spaghetti-strapped morenas bobbing their heads up and down to the beat of the music while their balding, rancid-smelling, pot-bellied British "friend" sport this twisted look as if he had reached the pinnacle of his miserable existence after tasting the Ambrosia of Aphrodite. Ooops. Perish the thought.

Curse this damn boom-boom room! Posted by Hello

Unfortunately, my area overlooks that garish establishment so even when I close every last possible space, their slutty songs reverberate through the concrete walls. Damn that law which says that sound travels faster through solid medium. You must have wondered how I sleep at night- involuntary desensitization of noxious aural stimulus.

That cursed God-forsaken place is a pick-up bar called (censored). Try to guess where this rinky-dinky bar is.

August 21, 2004

Top 5 Ghibli Films

If the God of Manga (Japanese comics)is Osamu Tezuka (maker of Astroboy), then it is rightly so that the God of Anime is Hayao Miyazaki. His animated masterpieces have won accolades around the world and have touched the hearts of every viewer. Film festivals like Berlin, Toronto and Montreal have honored films like Princess Mononoke and Nausicaa and award-giving bodies like the Oscars have given top plum in animation for Spirited Away.

Even Disney animators have acknowledged the divinity of Miyazaki because his fresh approach to animation is not self-serving and childish but rather humanistic wherein not everything is divided into pure good and pure evil, and empathic wherein his characters mature and mellow as the film progresses. His techniques are unbelievably lush, full of life, and painterly- and most Disney films pales in comparison with the details and colors of these japanese cartoons. Oh, and these films are not just for kids. Their themes are deep yet simple and sometimes some details are too raw and unforgiving for the viewing pleasure of kids below 10 (like heads and arms being decapitated in Mononoke). They should see Ghibli's Totoro where the racoons there use their expandable testicles as weapons of mass destruction! But on the whole, Ghibli's Anime respect their viewers unlike those cartoons from the USA (101 Dalmatians) where they infanticize their audience's intelligence.

*All of the non-italicized blurbs below and pictures in this entry can be found in this very comprehensive Ghibli fanpage:
The Hayao Miyazaki Web
The rest are personal inputs and reflections on these Japanese masterpieces.

How dare you make a pass at me! Posted by Hello
1. Princess Mononoke
Set during the Muromachi Period (1333-1568) of Japan, Mononoke Hime is a story about a mystic fight between the Animal Gods of the forest and humans.

On the side of the Animal Gods is San (Mononoke Hime), a human girl raised by the wolf god Moro. On the side of the humans is Lady Eboshi, building a kingdom for oppressed people by cutting down the forest for her iron-making operation.

In the middle of this fierce fighting for survival, Ashitaka, an Emishi boy, struggles to find a way for both sides to co-exist. But the fighting just becomes more and more bloody and all hope seems to be lost...

This film has one of the deepest themes in anime history (along with Ghost in the Shell) where one sitting is not enough. Miyazaki I think wanted to critique the delicate balance between man's prolific progress and nature's struggle for survival, where in the end will result in the ultimate destruction of both parties. In it, you can't blame one more than the other. All have their share in the conflict.

Here's your doggy bag, miss. Posted by Hello
2. Spirited Away
This is a fantasy adventure with a ten year-old girl, which starts in everyday Japan but goes somewhere very different. For young Chihiro and her family, a mysterious tunnel and haunted town lead to the Land of Spirits, inhabited by gods and monsters and ruled by the greedy witch Yu-baba. Chihiro's parents are transformed into pigs; to rescue them, she must surrender her name and serve in this world. Luckily she finds friends and allies, including the handsome but mysterious boy Haku. Initially sulky and listless, Chihiro (or Sen, as she's now called) finds inner strengths and establishes an identity in this strange world. But can she win back her name and return home?

Spirited Away is a delightful children's adventure story reminiscing of Alice in Wonderland whose characters mature like wine. The setting and colors are masterly done and the plot, though linear, is like a box of chocolates- always full of surprises.

Seita inadvertently reached Metro Manila. Posted by Hello
3. Grave of the Fireflies
This is a very somber film about the struggle of two children to survive during World War II. Seita and his younger sister Setsuko are left to fend for themselves when their mother passes away from severe burns inflicted by the American fire-bombing of their town. Their father is serving in the Japanese navy, but the children have not heard from him in a long time, so Seita and Setsuko try staying with a distant relative. However, Seita doesn't get along well with this relative and decides to leave, taking Setsuko with him, to live on their own.

This has to be the most depressing anime film ever made. That's because the theme of death, survival and desperation of two little kids in a fire-bombed war torn Tokyo is truly heart-wrenching and cathartic. What i like about this is that it's not melodramatic, sappy, Hollywood-like, or cheezy, but shows the will to survive despite the futility of it. One has to watch this with a full stomach and a pocketful of Kleenex.

Pazu, we're not flying anymore, are we? Posted by Hello
4. Laputa, Castle in the Sky
Pazu rescues an unconscious girl descending from the night sky with a glowing pendant around her neck. He helps the girl, Sheeta, to escape from the air pirates and the military who are obsessed with Laputa, a legendary kingdom on a floating island in the sky with which Sheeta is suspected of being connected.

Unless you are a Spanish pervert, Laputa is not an obscene title but rather, one of the places in Jonathan Swift's novel, Gulliver's Travels. Laputa is the flying island of Gulliver's third journey. It officially translates to Lap, meaning high, and untah, meaning governor. After discovering the earflaps and communication problems of the Laputans, Gulliver desires to leave the flying island to discover the lands below. Laputa is held together by a strong lodestone located in the center of the island, and is the ruling island of all the lands below.

Let me show you how to do the Asereje, Uncle Mito. Posted by Hello
5. Nausicaa
Nausicaä, the princess of a small nation, lives in a world devastated by a holocaust called the "Seven Days of Fire". She tries to stop other warring nations from destroying themselves and from destroying the only means by which their world can be saved from the spread of polluted wastelands.

In Homer's Odyssey, Nausicaa is the heroine daughter of Alcinous, king of the Phaeacians. While Odysseus sleeps (since the sea brought him to the island), the goddess Athena who favors & protects him, visits the young princess, Nausicaa. Athena, in the disguise of a young girl, tells Nausicaa to assist her maids in the washing of clothing the next morning. Nausicaa complies. While she and her companions are at the river, they engage in a game of ball, the noise of which rouses Odysseus from his slumber. All of the other girls are terrified by the sight of the hero - all except Nausicaa. Nausicaa demonstrates her bravery and offers Odysseus food and clothing. Ultimately, the beauty and charm of the princess represent another of the many temptations that Odysseus encounters on his long journey home.

Burn Baby Burn

The Oishi group of chichiriya has come up with their most unique potato chip flavor. And that is, Wasabi! Just the name makes my mouth water.

Woohoo! Wasabi! Ang anghang!! Posted by Hello

As you place the chip on your tongue, you're going to feel a sudden rush of spiciness and malamang, wasabi flavor. You can feel your buds tighten up and your palate seared with the heat of the wasabi. Depending on the intensity, some highly seasoned chip's flavor can be very intense that it shots up to your sinuses. After which, it mellows down and your mouth begins to water. Perfect. Just like an orgasm! Psyche! Mmmm...

August 20, 2004

Away From the Maddening Crowd

Last Sunday was hell incarnate. After the wonderful mass in Malate, I dropped by Robinson's Place to check on new books from National, bargains at Booksale and new films from Astrovision. As soon as I entered the mall's cavernous maw, I was shocked to see the entire population of the Philippines crammed into just one space. I forgot! It was a three-day sale scheduled on a 15th of the month. Aaaargh!! The Mokongweis must be cackling in their beds dreaming of another killing (profit-wise, not kidnap-wise) to make.

The seething mass of humanity inside broke that law of nature which says "no two objects can occupy the same space at the same time." It was an elbow-to-elbow experience. Well, such occurences should not surprise us here anymore. We have become New Yorkers of sort- jaded and cynical.

So I walked to Booksale to check if they have some med reviewers (Geez, they really milk every peso from their already 2nd hand rejects) but unfortunately, there was none. I then decided to browse through their back issues to see if they have some good mags like Scientific American or Discovery but there were only the teen mags, cigar afficionado mags, food&wine and mags about Harly-Davidsons. I didn't know car magazines have a swimsuit issue. Ha-ha! Anyways, the crowd was really really thick. A claustrophobe's nightmare. I can smell the BO (like rancid butter) of a balding caucasian sex-tourist behind me perusing some Reader's Digests. I gave up. If I decide to stay just so I can read some of the pickings there (like those cool architectural coffee table books) for like an hour, then I have to go back some other time. That way, I don't have to stay in one corner like a trapped rat. Have to get out!

The Adriatico wing was like deja vu... hmmm... Schindler's List? Kind of. It was so surreal. The right corridor was filled with people going inside the mall while the left side was filled with people going to the exit door. Even if some stopped to look inside the bargain bins lined against the stores, it was still as if two parallel rivers of humanity tried to outspeed eachother. And with that, I went to the other river and decided to swim back to the entrance. Astrovision can wait another day. Perhaps if they turned off the aircon, then the so-called river will probably turn into a deluge- a deluge of sweat, grime and BO.

Feeling a bit nauseated by the fact that such density was impenetrable, I headed back home empty-handed and unsatisfied. Well, Mokongwei's leader, the great Mao Zedong, once said, "Take one step backward to advance two steps forward." For that, I call it a day.

August 18, 2004

La Lengua Española

During my Bacolod years, my grandma whom I shared the room with (yes, hers was air conditioned so 'twas better that I sleep in her room!) sometimes reprimand me when I tinker with her TV saying, "Nunca pahilabti ang TV basi mapierde ina karon!!" Any Ilonggo can understand that statement perfectly well which reads, "Don't even try to disturb the TV for it may "lose it's efficiency" later on." For us in the province, we were not acutely aware that our tongue was peppered with Spanish words or Hispanicized Ilonggo. We just took it for granted and assume it's vernacular Ilonggo.

Coming to Manila however made my senses more acute since I have to shift to Tagalog when speaking with people. (I hate code switching!!!) It seems that many words here are of Malayo-Austronesian in origin while the same counterparts in Ilonggo are usually Spanish loaned. For example, the word for "open/to open" in Tagalog is "bukas/buksan" while in Negros, it's the Spanish "abri/abrihan." Another is "meanwhile" wherein in Tagalog it's "habang" while in Ilonggo, it's "mientras (while) or mientras tanto (meanwhile)."

Some of them are as follows: [English- Tagalog(vernacular)- Ilonggo(vernacular)- Spanish]
1. Eyeglasses-Salamin-Antipara,Gapas-Antipara,Gafas
2. Gun-Baril-Pusil-Fusil
3. Teacher-Titser,Guro-Maestro,Maestra,Titser-Maestro,Maestra
4. Lose-Talo-Piyerde-Pierde
5. Cheap-Mura-Barato-Barato
6. Change-Sukli-Kambyo-Cambio
7. Dance-Sayaw-Bayle-Baile
8. Key-Susi-Liyabi-Llave
9. Clean-Malinis-Limpyo-Limpio
10. Until-Hanggang-Asta-Hasta

I don't know whether I should feel proud or happy or ashamed about having a more colonial tongue. It doesn't diminish though my love for the soil of my forefathers. Yeah right!! Soil, my ass!! I guess this matter is inconsequential and moot, not worthy of killing my remaining neurons. But it makes me wonder though. Is development or the dynamism of a language determined by the progress of its users? Has Ilonggo stagnated itself into the nostalgia of the past? I hope not. Tagalog seems to have more English incorporated into its vocabulary than any other Philippine language, probably due to the fact that it's the country's major port- an entrepot of global influx. Whatever. Basta, it's moot and academic. Urgh!

Oh well...that's it.... no more neurons to burn.

Amazing Race!

Wow. This reality show sure is fun!! Not only you get to see the Pyramids, Catherine's Palace in Russia, the Nile, Kilimanjaro, but you also see the pairs struggle their wits as they pass each challenge whether it may be physical (pulling a huge block of Pyramid stone 50 meters using no wheels), gastronomic (eating 1-kg of caviar in a hurry) or mental (block ice hockey pucks 5 times). The tests are ingenious and never boring and the contestants are really funny (with all their sarcasms, double-dealings and insults) but not to the point where you get irritated by them. This is so unlike Survivor where you were stucked in a never changing island full of whiny, lazy, spoiled inconsiderate ugly Americans who do not know how to cook decent rice doing nothing all day except scratch their folliculitis-infected bottoms and conspire to smilingly backstab their groupmates.

When you watch Amazing Race, you heart goes tachycardic (>100 bpm) and your skin become diaphoretic (sweaty) from watching the hurried & harried faces of the contestants who are all under time constraints. The visual & aural stimuli are tremendous, resulting with you wanting to watch more. Better than Survivor.

Update: They're on the way from Tanzania and going to Dubai, UAE next week. And the whiny cousins Mirna and Charla (people call her Shmirna) are thankfully eliminated. Note how loooong Mirna's hug with Phil! And Charla's speech made Phil Keoghan choke! hahahaha... ;P I pray that somewhere in Dubai, Colin & Christie will be ambushed by Taliban Ninja Fighters or something. And I pray that cool Chip & Kim wins this so amazing race!!! They have the class and the decency that no other team has. Isn't it ironic that it's the white pairs who are showing how ugly Americans are? Cheers!

Next Week: Colin goes to jail!!! Yahoo!!

A Midsummer Night Lullaby

A Midsummer Night Lullaby
by: Julsitos

Now rest your eyes, my dearest child,
lay upon your mother's breast,
and feel the warmth, so sweet and mild,
your peaceful face gently pressed.

Hush little one, the day is done,
for you are in my keeping.
The ills of yesterday now begone
its secrets now asleeping.

Can you hear the crickets playing,
hidden 'mong the grasses there?
Can you feel the wind whisp'ring
blowing through the midnight air?

And when you yawn, your face alights
without a care or worry.
To dream in splendid perfumed nights,
is paradise and glory.

In the darkness of midsummer
not a stirring, child and I,
for in sleep we sleep together,
and dream beneath a moonlit sky.

August 16, 2004

Eternal Blank in the Spotless Mind

Don't you just hate it if you have a writer's block? I mean, when your head is out of ideas to churn out or the words are lost in the air. There is some grain of truth to what "spiritualists" say about writing. They theorized that creativity (writing, painting, composing, etc.) comes from inspiration, and this inspiration is possible because our "spirit guides" or guardian angels send these signals or ideas for us work on.

I wonder if seasoned authors get such block. If they do, here are some of my take on their works:

Can you imagine J. K. Rowling of the Harry Potter series if one fateful day she was stricken by the bug? She might chuck it all up ala the painter Paul Gaugin and decide that she is getting tired of Potter that she instantly have him and Hermione elope for good. Well, if she wishes that Ron shall enter the fray, then they could have a menage-a-trois. If I were Rowling, I would suddenly have the wicked urge to end the saga in the middle chapter where Harry will have a heart attack and due to an earthquake, Hogwarts shall crumble down and kill everyone to smithereens. Yes, even incontinence-stricken Dumbledore dies because the dumb Dumbledore was on the act of changing his adult diapers in the lavatory. The Horror!

How about the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown? Doesn't he get the writer's block from time to time? He might have been tempted to end the chase then and there at the villain's house but since he is so well into the novel, we get a hundred pages more to read. Wouldn't it be funny that instead of the couple finding all those clues in the Louvre, the sprinkler system kicked in and washed away those written messages leaving Langdon and his mate clueless as ever. Or what if the zealot monk decided to hijack the private jet and as a protest to Bush's War of Agression, he rammed the plane into Big Ben just like Sept. 11? Such would bring a smile!

So, after writing this rant, is my spotless mind still blank? Positively so!

August 11, 2004


There was an article about a week ago wherein the government announced that the air in Manila is at par with world health standards. What tha? Have they gone that stupid from testing air quality here? To think they are "college" graduates"! I guess a degree does not gurantee intelligence, that's fer sure! There are only two conclusions to their disinformation: one, it's just the government's run-of-the-mill white propaganda (more like puro pampaganda) or two, their air quality gathering equipment is so decrepit and obsolete that any result coming from it is off-tangent. Probably, the air quality they were investigating were those of Mars or Jupiter. Most probably from Uranus! Geez. They think Filipinos are that dumb not to notice their celestial results.

If their quotations cannot be trusted, whose then? Simple. Our boogers!

Yes! Our booger, kulangot, pong-it, or snot is the best indicator of air pollution levels in Metro Manila. Not only it is free and easy to get, it's natural!!

How? Just at the end of day, pick your nose and collect a sample of your daily remnants. Then, rub it in between your fingers until you get a nice homogenous consistency in which you then compare it with a corresponding color chart that shows the present pollutants in the atmosphere. Easy, no? It's better than to trust some ambigious result doctored by the DENR. =)

August 10, 2004

Collateral Headache

Louie, Enna (both batchmates & interns at Manila Doctors) and I watched Collateral at Robinson's Place Manila yesternight. I just settled for White Cheddar popcorn and Ice tea from Tater's to make my viewing pleasure more palatable.

Watch out! Random spoilers ahead!

For a complete synopsis, check out this site:
Collateral from

To make the whole gamut short, the movie was too fast and furious. Tom Cruise's timely end was anti-climatic but there were good chase-and-run scenes in the end. The premise as the assassin is satisfactory but the premise on why he's killing those people is at most, murky. His acting was Hollywood-like as always, with posing-posing, pregnant pauses and cowboy dialogues, but he managed to pull everything off in his favor. But I have to praise Jamie Foxx (Max) who played the cab driver to was coerced into servicing Vincent in his game of "sutukil" (shoot-to-kill). Max's acting was brilliant- the way he was panic-stricken by all the lightning speed events happening around him and his change of character from the optimistic coward to the fatalistic hero. His emotions were neither melodramatic nor exaggerated but were on the other hand, befitting for someone in the edge of being shot, not to mention that his complicity to Vincent's job made him a "black" accessory to the crime. I simply enjoyed the look on the driver's face when he was told by Vincent to retrieve the list of victims from Felix. His face became white from fear. Hahahaha.

Collateral, while a good cat-&-dog film, gave me migraine. I don't know if it was from the popcorn or from the drink, but I'm sure all those exploding car chases, blair-witch carmera shots, and those endless running contributed to that throbbing feeling inside my head.

Soooo... I rate this movie: One thumb up!!! Yipee!! (Cuz the other thumb is on my cell's keypad texting!)

August 08, 2004

Angels & Demons of Malate

I just arrived from Malate Church. It's one of my favorite churches and attending their Sunday masses is sheer joy. More like inner joy.

The priests there are mostly Columbans who primarily are Irish. I find their presence very humbling (imagine leaving their homeland just to spend the rest of their lives here in the Philippines) and inspiring (for they're very active in community works.) Their experience in poverty-ridden Negros during the 1980s' "years of famine and insurgency" strengthened their faith and resolve in propagating the Catholic faith through example. This in turn, makes their words effective in touching the heart. They seem to be surrounded in an aura of holiness which is very effusive and infectious. Their sermons are conscience-hitting steeped in suffering and hope, love for the poor and the sick, and most of the time they talk about our obligations as Christ's children to our fellowmen and our duties to Christ himself. Their sermons are based on their experiences with the people of Negros, and not on lofty abstractions that only theologians can relate. What they have is heart and hearing their words can bring about the conversion of one's soul. (The question is: Is that change going to last as soon as you leave the Church?)

Because of their zeal and their holiness, the Columbans of Malate are highly respected and loved by their parishioners. A very good example can be seen right after the mass. It's only in their church where children, as young as 3 and as old as 30, approach the priest to make the "mano" sign. You can feel your heart being tugged as you watch the priest being delayed from leaving the aisle by hordes of people jostling each other so they can all make "mano." Such a sight is far from the hatred and animosity felt by Filipinos for the Spanish friars- but that's another story.

However, I am disappointed with some of the parishioners. Why? They leave at the middle of the mass. They prefer standing up and taking a bow right after the sermon or after eating the holy host. What on earth people think this is? A movie house? A play? A theater? Do they think this is not worth finishing at all? Do they think they can just leave without saying goodbye? It's as if you simply left the banquet table without letting the host know that you're leaving. I don't want to sound sanctimonious or oh-so pious but finishing the mass is the least you can do as a sign of respect for the faith and the religion you are affiliated with. If you really believe your faith can save you, then at least, give it the proper attention it deserves.

Sure, sure, there's that clause which says, we humans have the "freedom of choice." Well, freedom of choice indeed! Blah! Blah! Blah! Rationality sucks sometimes.

Oh well, just another Sunday blues.

August 07, 2004

Good Reads

Angels & Demons (Dan Brown, 2000): Hmmm... still on the first chapter. But nonetheless, it's as good and fast-paced as the The Da Vinci Code.

The Decameron (Giovanni Boccaccio, 14th Century): To think that Medieval Literature is boring, this should dispell any notions. Thanks to King Arthur, Chaucer, Thomas More, St. Augustine, etc., we tend to think of Medieval lore as painstakingly boring and full of old English yarn. We conjure ideas of princesses with pointed hats being rescued from dark castles by prince charming, or the Robin-hood like chivalry and cavalierism during those times. However, we must remember that the Black Death ravaged most of Europe during the Dark Ages. Not everyone is in the church praying and kneeling before the pews feeling pious. This classic shows the bawdy, humorous, satirical and farcical side of the Medieval Era. It's not about noble knights searching for the holy grail or battles fought for love (ala Romeo & Juliet) or philosophical monarchs going murderously mad (ala Hamlet & Macbeth), but rather it's the daily activities of the common people of Italy. I have to admit, most of the population then were poor. Most of the time they eat, feast, get laid, blackmail, cheat, murder and get drunk... just like today. You agree, GWBush? I can see you nodding your head Erap.

After seeing Pasolini's The Decameron, I simply have to check if the film was faithful to the original manuscript. Well, mostly yes.

The blurb from Dover Publications:
"While the Black Death rages through 14th-century Florence, a group of young people retreat to the countryside and amuse themselves by telling tales of romance and adventure. This is the premise of Boccaccio's Decameron... Vast in scope, teeming with colorful characters, and rich in worldly wisdom. Folk tales, ancient myths, fables and anecdotes range from earthly and irreverent satires of hypocritical clergy, to gripping tales of murder and revenge, to stories of passionate love, both adulterous and faithful."

Some of the stories from The Decameron:
Ninth day, Story II: An abbess rises in haste and in the dark, with intent to surprise an accused nun abed with her lover, thinking to put on her veil, she puts on instead the breeches of a priest that she has with her: the nun, espying her headgear, and doing her to with thereof, is acquitted, and thenceforth finds it easier to forgather with her lover.

Third day, Story I
: Masetto feigns to be dumb, and obtains a gardener's place at a convent of women, who with one accord make haste to lie with him.

First day, Story I: Ser Ciappelletto cheats a holy friar by false confession, and dies; and having lived a very sinful life, is, on his death, reputed a saint and called San Ciappelletto.

August 05, 2004

The Pirate's Lair

The hidden location of the pirate's lair. Just go into Arlegui Street.;Posted by Hello

Hmmm... And so the plot thickens. This is one of the entry points to the infamous Quiapo DVD market. From the Quiapo church, you have to cross the underpass to the other side of the avenue. There, you can ask for directions or better yet just follow where most people are going. Here, Arlegui street poses as one of the less crowded access to the fabled stuff. Just go straight. Do not panic if you see a cop because as far as anyone with an IQ higher than 90 knows, they are frequently batting a blind eye to this seemingly illegal trade. I think their philosophy is that as long no one is hurt, killed, maimed or kidnapped, then everything's well.

Caution: Do not bring lots of cash, or credit cards for that matter. Do not show off your cellphone in public, or use it in the streets. Do not wear expensive watches or jewelry for they can become targets for street pickpockets. Do not wear formal clothes because Muslim merchants are wary of giving discounts to coños. Furthermore, do not make any snide remarks ala GWBush about Muslims because you won't get any discount that way. (I was about to write "you won't be able to escape Quiapo alive if you do insult them.")

Inside one of the many alleys in DVD country;Posted by Hello

There are lots of places to start. And you have to be discriminating with your choice of DVDs. Just don't take it as it is because if something is wrong with it, it can be very difficult to return it back for exchange. There are rows and rows of DVDs and with luck, you can stumble on rare titles (like the works of Paolo Pasolini & Kurosawa), or better copies of unreleased films. The DVDs are stack on shelves upon shelves extending from the floor to the ceiling. When they say DVD copy, it means it was copied from the original, but when they say "Clear copy," it means it's not worth buying the disc yet.

My routine:
1. Check for the titles.
2. Check for scratches and defects on the shiny side of the DVD.
3. Have you choice be tested on their DVD player.
4. Haggle. Currently, it's P70 ($1.30) per disc. If bundled into three purchases, you can get them for P65 ($1.20) each.
5. Make sure they stamp/mark the DVD title insert, so if you return them, you can argue that it was from their store that you've bought the disk from because if not, they can play that Shylock argument that you "might have bought it from other stalls."

An otaku shopping for anime;Posted by Hello

There are lots of films to choose from. Just remember to have the presence of mind on what to buy and a limited budget for your trip, so that you won't indulge on impulse buying. It's difficult to control oneself once you're there, especially if you have been afflicted with the shopping bug.

Many of the films being peddled in Quiapo are:
1. Unreleased Hollywood films
a. copied from a promotional disc
b. copied inside a theater
2. Released Hollywood films (copied from the original DVD)
3. Classics (Hitchcock, Kurosawa, war movies, etc.)
4. Arthouse films (infrequent, scarce supply, rare titles) ex. Criterion collection
5. Asian foreign films (Korean, Japanese)

Raids are frequent in Quiapo. However, if Edu and his cohorts have a scheduled raid, more or less, the sellers have already been tipped off and are extremely vigilant during that particular day. You can see them talking about the impending raid, having boxes readied, and their supplies are not 100% displayed. Besides, if a raid ensues, the news spreads like wildfire and within a span of five minutes, all of the shops are closed. Should you encounter one such raid, then simply head to the nearest convenience store and take cover.

So, be sure to send a postcard on your next trip to Quiapo.

Museum of No Return

Yesterday, I accompanied Dennis to the National Museum as a sidetrip in his ongoing vacation here in Manila. We rode the jeepney and went down at the old Congress building. We were surprised to see that the Museum was under renovation. The question is: for how long? We were informed that the exhibits are currently housed in the nearby Finance building. So, as intrepid tourists, we walked over to the new museum and we were surprised at the state of the National Museum, which should be the repository of our culture and heritage.

When you go there, please bring an ounce of sanity because the information desk is as daft as a lobotomized chicken. She smilingly informed us that there are no available brochures or maps as to how the exhibits go. She cannot elucidate if the Spoliarium is on exhibit. Don't the employees know what on earth they're displaying there. Any well-respected museum should have more foresight than that! If you go to the Hong Kong Museum, you'll be all agog and be swept away in the depth of their exhibits.

Look at all those plates!! Posted by Hello

So, we headed first for the San Diego Exhibit. Wow! It was worthy of praise. The exhibit was well made with the ship's planks laid on the floor; the cannons and shots all meticulously arranged. The nice thing is, it was informative and interactive- meaning, research was very thorough and the ojects (cannons) can be touched. And get this- there was no guard around. Unfortunately, there were a handful of visitors to the museum. This is to show how we appreciate our cultural heritage: by not going to the museums.

Then there were lesser exhibits like the evolution of the Philippines, the exhibit of the Filipino people showcasing indiginous crafts and antiques from the Ivatans, to the Tausugs, from the Igorots to the Mangyans. There were swords, krisses, baskets, handlooms, dresses, cooking pots, utensils, head gears, etc. For school children, this was a perfect place to start immersing them into Philippine history & culture, but for the avid collector & art afficionado, the place is bereft of anything interesting (except for the San Diego wreck). We were looking for Lunas, Amorsolos, Hidalgos and old Spanish gold and ivory. But due partly to the renovation, only the peripheral specimens were exhibited. I'm sure, though, that when the old Museum will be opened it will be a prime tourist attraction. But if they shall procastinate and delay the opening of the old one, then as far as I'm concerned, this will be the last time I will go (lest bring anyone) to this "replacement" museum.

August 02, 2004

Going Nuts over Donuts

MMM. The Pandora's box of goodies! Posted by Hello

MMM... donuts. Seen here are the Peanut Butter frosts and Berry Full Stuffits Posted by Hello

MMM.... what can I say? These donuts from Gonuts Donuts are really really delicious. They are like Krispy Kreme of the Philippines. "Insanely delicious" is what the product blurb tells us. The dough is soft and moist- similar to those no-bake brownies. There is no lemony taste or the sickeningly sweet sensation in the dough. It's not that sweet. And this delight is carried by the yummy taste of the glaze or the filling. The filling is really really good. For example, I love their peanut butter donut where the frosting if reheated tastes like real soft delectable peanut butter. So far that's my favorite, though some of the flavors like the Chocohazelnut and the Berryfill really stands out.

The line in Greenbelt3 is continuous and you can see all those donuts disappear before your eyes. I've heard that at the main branch at the Fort, you need to wait for 2 hours. The turnover is so fast that by the time you reach the counter to tell the cashier your orders, they sometimes will regretfully (but happily) inform you that your chosen flavor is already gone. It's ironic because it was only 10 minutes ago that you saw a whole tray of them.

And people cannot stop buying this stuff. It's as if the whole world turns on this donut alone. You can see families going to the movies, lovers strolling by, children waiting with boxes upon boxes of Gonuts Donuts. It's amazing to see hordes of people gorging and stuffing their faces with these donuts- and still keep a smile.

Is this just a fad? I don't think so. Compared to the price of a single donut from Dunkin or Mister Donut, the difference is a mere peso. It's very affordable, even if the product is coated in exclusivity. It's a status of good taste to have them. So rather waste your money on some mass-produced donut that you can't even finish a single one, sample and get addicted on Gonuts Donuts. I just can't help raving about this stuff. You'll never go wrong on this one!

***oh yeah, I was paid by Gonuts for the article. Psyche!

August 01, 2004

Greenhills: In the Belly of the Beast

In Thailand, there is an open market called Chatuchak. It is famed all over SEAsia and probably all over the world in which tourists, young and old, rich and poor, go there to purchase cheap knock-offs and overuns and to rub shoulders among the natives. It must be one exhilarating experience to enter and be devoured into the cavernous maw where your senses are frequently assaulted with exotic sweaty smells, colorful sights, raucous noise and the temptation to dive into the fray and haggle with the merchants. There your budget is on the red and if your common sense does not reign in your impulse, then your wallet can go bye bye sooner than you think.

An experience in Greenhills is probably as near the one in Chatuchak. The only difference is the air conditioning. I observed there that the place was set-up according to the merchandise. The atrium was filled with clothes of every kind- from sarongs to printed T-shirts, from pants to socks. The place was so jampacked that you have to squeeze yourself right through the crowd. I even stepped on the foot of one of the saleslady- that's what she got for wearing open-toed sandals. The mezzanine meanwhile is filled racks upon racks of cellphones of every brand and color. This is compounded by Muslim urchins prodding you to buy bootlegged DVDs harking "DBD, boss? DBD?" In another corner, there were countless stalls of cheap jewelry- most of which looked like plastic beads anyway. Most of the sellers are Muslims. I don't know why that is so though. In Virra Mall side, the whole place is full of CDs, pirated software of any kind, computer parts, and collectibles which can bring anyone with the shopping bug into virtual orgasm. Everything your imagination desires is here.

The whole place looked like a big termite colony. You can see flow and counterflow, traffic sans altercations and bumper to bumper congestion. A claustrophobe nightmare. The funny thing is that there were a number of foreigners haggling over bags and jackets, trying on rip-off Nikes, rummaging through the clothes and rubbing elbows with the Filipinos. It's as if they turned our shopping playground into another secret tourist destination. For adventurous "National Geographic" tourists and foreigners out for a bargain, then, this is the best place to be- all in one roof. Some even brought their children. Must be expats. Just imagine them being so sensitive to their travel advisories that they ignored it got enough spunk to go into Greenhills. To think there are Muslims in every stall and that there is a chance that a terrorist can blow up the place or hold them hostage. But like life in the fatalist Philippines, hell may come over basta we get to shop. The government should take notice about this sight, so they can be encouraged to put up more shopping areas emulating Thailand's premier entrepreneurial paradise- Chatuchak. If not, I hope the private sectors like travel agencies hopefully shall put the shopping experience of Greenhills on their brochures. If not, then we shall remain in the belly of the beast.