Earth Hour

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Birthday Celebrations, Part 2

This is the second part of my advanced birthday celebration today.

From the La Mesa Ecopark, we went to the UP Diliman Campus for lunch. My brother and sister-in-law found this nice place called "Chateau Verde", which is managed by a member of the University faculty. It is quite hidden so those who are not familiar with the campus won't easily find it.

Anyway, one can choose whether to eat buffet or a la carte. This lunchtime, the buffet consisted of Mongolian, ribeye steak, baked oysters, salads and desserts. We chose to order a la carte. I ordered salpicao made of tenderloin beefs lightly sauteed in olive oil.

My brother ordered paella, rice mixed with seafood, served in a skillet. My sister-in-law ordered lengua (oc-tongue) and my daddy, callos, a spicy stew of ox tripe.

The food was great and yet the price was relatively low. I would like to go back to this place and try the other items on the menu.

We decided to take a tour of the campus and visit the icon of the University, the Oblation. We were surprised to see the statue wearing a "sablay", a piece of cloth bearing the university colors and the initials of the university in ancient Philippine letters. It is worn by the students during graduation as a replacement to the "western" toga. We realized that the University has just had its Graduation.

After spending some time under the afternoon sun, daddy asked us for some halo-halo, a summertime favorite. We went to ChowKing, a fastfood that offers the delicacy and ordered one bowl for each of us.

I'll be turning 41 in a few minutes but I already had fun one day ahead.

Birthday Celebrations, Part 1

I celebrated my birthday in advance today with my Daddy, brother and sis-in-law. We went to the La Mesa Eco Park in Fairview, Quezon City.

It's a mini-forest at the rim of the La Mesa Dam, which is the source of water for Metro Manila. Now maintained by a private organization called Bantay Kalikasan, the park has an orchidarium, a flower terraces, and a salt-water swimming pool.

It was also an opportunity to try my Nikon D40 outside the confines of our garden.

Our first stop was the flower terraces. Here you have to climb a hundred plus steps of stairs to get a view of the terraces.

On top of the stairs, you'll get a great view of the entire park.

Next, we went to see the Drilon Orchidarium.

We left the place before lunch. There were already a lot of families in the ground, some preparing their meals and barbeque, while others took their nap under the shade of the trees surrounding the park.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Singkamas and HaloHalo

It's summer again. With temperatures rising to record levels, Pinoys are finding ways to relieve themselves of the heat. Some go to resorts, especially when they can afford it. But most, or almost everybody, go to the malls! Not to shop, mind you, but just to enjoy the cool airconditioning in the area.

Last Saturday, I went to a popular mall in Mandaluyong to meet some friends. The place was overflowing with people! No kidding. There were even babies, almost like newborns to me, in their strollers, and old people in their wheelchairs in the crowd. Luckily the airconditioning of the mall was still working fine inspite the influx of people.

The following day, I was not feeling well already. Old people tell us to avoid crowded places because it could make us sick. Too bad I didn't follow them. So the whole Sunday, I felt like I'd be going down with a flu. Add to this was that I had to endure the summer heat in the house.

Then it struck me. I could beat this heat with food usually associated with summer: singkamas and halohalo. I bought some singkamas (turnip) peeled and sliced it and then put some vinegar and salt to taste. The cooling effect was instantI I almost finished the whole bundle in one sitting.

For merienda, I bought a tall glass of halohalo from a neighborhood store. For the uninitiated, this halohalo is a mixture of ice, milk, sweetened bananas, camote, red beans, kidney beans, macapuno, langka, and sago. This is usually topped with a slice of custard and a sprinkle of rice crispies. The halohalo was a great merienda and a heat buster.

Actually it's been a long time since I had these two great food. That's why I truly enjoyed having them last Sunday.

My New Toy

I finally took the plunge and bought myself a dslr, the new Nikon D40. New because it was released only last September 2006 as the entry-level DSLR of Nikon. Though I've used digital cameras since 2000 (Epson PhotoPC 650 and Sony Cybershot l P71), using a DSLR camera is an entirely new experience to me.

I need to get used to some practices. For one, shots are composed on the viewfinder itself, not on the LCD. The photo shows up on the LCD after the shot is made. Sometimes I still catch myself looking at the LCD instead of the viewfinder. Also, I am still experimenting on the different shooting modes available on the D40. I like to do the macro mode especially with plants. Right now, I see that I would need to save for a lens with a greater focal range (an 18-200 mm perhaps?)

Here are some shots I've made so far. Hopefully I'd be able to post more later.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Oh no! We're having another elections!!!

All indications are there. Everywhere you look, smiling faces stare back at you, a set of real pearly whites exposed for every person to see. You are suddenly roused from your Saturday afternoon siesta by a loud music coming from a bad speaker, extolling the virtues of a candidate. Yes, we're having another election. A midterm election.

Watching the television became even harder these days. Every half hour or so, I see a TV ad of a candidate, telling me of his plans once elected to office. I can't help but squirm, and in some instances get plain angry over their promises. I think that's the problem with working in government. I have become jaded.

I've heard these promises before and at one point in my career have written press releases and speeches doing the same thing. Promising education, food, health services, shelter, etc. for every Filipino. Ugh! Yet every Filipino are still wanting of these same services. I am about to lose my faith on this institution.

Yet, only last week I was talking with a good friend and we were coming up with our line up of who to vote come May 14. I guess like many Filipinos, I haven't learned my lesson.

Thursday, April 5, 2007


I watched the movie TMNT yesterday with some friends to find out what this new version has to offer. I enjoyed the animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series on TV and the live-action movies as well. So I was looking forward to an enjoyable experience.

TMNT is much darker and edgier than the live-action movies. You'd think that the Turtles have matured and are past their teens. Raphael for one suddenly has issues and now questions his role in the group. And whatever happened to their passion for pizza?

Nevertheless, I wasn't disappointed and did enjoy the movie. The animation was awesome. The rain scene where Leonardo and Raphael had a duel on the rooftops was very impressive. Splinter's CGI iteration would make you wonder what digital animators would come up with next.

One more thing, I got dizzzy with all those camera work. My brother explained that a medical study explained that those of us born before 1974 have problems watching digital images. The study explained that our eyes do not have the ability to fully process moving digital images and that we tend to get dizzy with prolonged viewing.

Maybe this also explains why I have a hard time playing FPS games on any console. So while everyone's praising DOOM and HALO for their graphics and all, I avoid them like a plague.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Scenes from a four-hour trip

I recently went to the former Subic Base for a four-day seminar. The sponsors were gracious enough to provide us with a bus to get there. Even if it took us four hours to get to Subic from Manila, I still enjoyed the ride because it gave me the opportunity to get a glimpse of the countryside.

The Philippine countryside is wonderful. Forty-five minutes after our trip started, we were greeted by the green rice fields of the Candaba swamps. Far in the horizon is Mt. Arayat and even farther are the faint shadows of the Sierra Madre. I've been to other countries but I still say that the Philippine countryside is still one of the best. The bucolic views help a lot in untangling the frayed knots in a city dweller's body.

When we left the expressway, we were surrounded by more ricefields and rural folks doing their business. In a busstop, we had our fill of native delicacies, puto, bibingka and sago't gulaman. And their prices were really low!

There were also shops selling furniture and home decors made of wood along the road devastated by lahar flows from the Mt. Pinatubo. It's nice to know that people there have moved on after their hellish experience.

As we passed by barangays along the road, I was heartened to see graduation ceremonies being held in school grounds. Young kids dressed in white togas seated on one side and their parents on the other. In one school the graduating children were performing onstage in their togas. The scene made me smile. I remembered my high school graduation when, in the middle of a song, one of my classmates started to cry. It also made me sadly wonder how many of these graduating kids will go on to universities and fulfill the dreams their parents have for them.

Nevertheless, thoughts like those do not diminish the beauty of rural Philippines. Maybe one of these days I will take time off from work and take a bus to see more of our countryside.

Hello All!

Finally, my own blog.

I'll be posting a lot of things on this spot in the coming days. Just drop by when you feel like doing so.