Earth Hour

Zero Hunger Challenge

Sunday, November 2, 2008

At the end of the day...

I was watching the reunion show of the Project Runway Philippines last week which had designer Rajo Laurel answering questions of the designers and viewers. I can't help but notice that his last sentences always began with, "At the end of the day..." Then some of the designers talked about their experiences and it was the same case, they end their remarks with a sentence starting with "At the end of the day..."

This lead me to think whether this is the new expression, "At the end of the day..." What do they actually mean by this phrase? Can't they just say, "Ultimately" or "In the end"?

In a showbiz oriented talk show, I hear this teenstar say "At the end of the day, kami din ang makakaalam..." Huh?

I bet they heard this phrase used somewhere and they think it makes them sound... intellectual. But these things are not to be used lightly.

I guess that soon, "At the end of the day" will take its place alongside such showbiz created expressions such as "in fairness", "actually", "you know...", "it's like..."

Monday, September 22, 2008

National Bookstore Sale

I always pass by a National Bookstore Branch on my home from the office. Last August, it announced a sale of its books with prices cut by 20 to 70 percent. It got me so excited of course, hoping I'd be able to get the books I wanted at lower prices.

The most exciting part of the sale, though is the P99 bin. I found a lot of books there that I've always wanted to buy but were so expensive. Most of the books are hardbound editions so it was quite a steal to get copies of books.

Thanks to National Bookstore for making one of my passions more affordable.

What Happened to Milk?

I am not a big fan of milk. I don't drink milk because I have lactose intolerance since I was a kid. But my brother drinks lots of milk. Even today when he's fully grown, he still drink the white stuff before he goes to bed. He said it relaxes him.

Though I am not a milk drinker, I encourage people, especially young children to drink milk. It's a complete food, you get Vitamin A for good vision, Vitamin D for your bones and teeth, Vitamin B for over-all wellness and lots of other minerals and micro nutrients. So if there's one food item that needs to be in the grocery list, it has to be milk.

But milk has become complicated today. There are so many brands (one celebrity endorser says, "ang daming milks (sic)"). Each brand has so many claims about having this and that to increase your child's growth, brain power, etc. One even has the temerity to claim that it can make your child a gifted child. Parents now are faced with the dilemma whether they're giving the right milk to their kids or not.

While milk is essentially one of the most nutritionally complete food available, its reputation was never unblemished. There have been instances that milk was blamed for the spread of diseases including tuberculosis. Thanks to the process called pasteurization, some of the bad bacteria that comes with milk have been minimized, if not eliminated.

Just this week, however, milk has become the object of another health scare. But it's not because of its own doing but by men.

In China, hundreds of kids got sick after consuming milk contaminated with melamine, a substance used for making plastic ware. News reports say that melamine contains compounds that added to milk, will make the milk register a higher protein content when tested.

This contamination caused kidney stones among other ailments in hundreds of babies in China. Some eventually died after their organs failed.

This caused the supermarkets here to withdraw all milk and milk products imported from China. Too late for me, I already bought one brand that was ordered to be recalled by government. It's called Yi LI. I intended to give it to my pet dog. Luckily, I haven't given it to her.

This incident however has put milk under suspicion. So much so that some of the milk companies came out with notices that ingredients of their products do not come from China. Even Starbucks had to announce that they don't use dairy products from China.

We Filipinos however have a tendency to generalize, as I have done so in that statement. When you say, some milk brands made in China are contaminated and unfit for consumption, we would avoid the milk not only from China but from anywhere else. So in TV tonight, newscasts reported of of a sudden drop in sales of milk.

Hopefully, this will not completely obliterate milk from the Filipino's diet. I am not so sure though what effect this incident will have on the price of milk. That is another story.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Manila Ocean Park

We finally had the chance to visit the Manila Ocean Park Oceanarium earlier this month. The entrance fee at 400 pesos is a bit steep, but the park offers discounts for the city residents and senior citizens. I am also happy to note that in spite the high ticket price, there were still a lot of people going to the park.

Manila Oceanarium Dome.

The park has several species of sea life, including a spider crab which can only be found in the cold waters of Japan.

Giant Spider Crab

Highlight of the display is a huge tank and a tunnel where the people can immerse themselves in the abundant creatures from the deep.

Manila Ocean Park

There are still a lot of construction work going in the park so we expect it to get even better in the future.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Olive Riley, World's Oldest Blogger is dead at 108

I just read this morning that Olive Riley, considered as the oldest blogger in the world, died over the weekend at a New South Wales nursing home after an illness. She was 108 years old.

Ms. Riley's posts contained a lot of childhood memories, such as how going to school was like 100 years ago. Her blogs give her followers a glimpse of what like was before the Internet, satellite and other modern means of communication made this world a global village. For that alone, she deserves a permanent place in the blogging world. In one of her latest posts, she wrote about how she regularly sing happy songs, with "Happy Days Are Here Again" as her favorite.

Others contend that Ms. Riley is technically not a blogger because she doesn't type her entries herself. She has someone else type her posts for her. But that did not diminish the importance of her posts in the blogging world. She reportedly receives a lot of communication from as far away as Russia.

108 years. With the way I live my life, I don't even expect to live until 80. Hopefully I would live until my retirement and enjoy it for sometime. However, to live as long as Olive did would be like hitting a jackpot of heavenly blessings!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Warning: Earthquake Coming this July!

I haven't received it yet but there's so much buzz about an email circulating in Philippine cyberspace about a prediction of a very strong earthquake that allegedly, will hit our country on July 18. The "prophecy" says that it is so strong, 8.1 in the Richter scale, it will level Metro Manila and will bring about tsunamis in various parts of our islands.

It must have been so widespread because last Sunday, we had a jolt and the Philippine Volcanology and Seismology Institute had to advise the public that the 5.4 earthquake has nothing to do with the prophecy.

What really troubles me about this whole episode is not the prophecy itself but that people actually believed it. Wasn't it only three years ago when a similar prophecy was allegedly made by a visionary nun? Everybody was so concerned that our boss even sent us home early to be with love ones in case the tremblor actually struck.

When will people learn that nobody could know when an earthquake will hit. Not even science, with all the strides it has made, could tell us when the ground beneath us will shake.

Interestingly enough, there's a group of people who believe that one can actually know when an earthquake is imminent by looking at clouds. They say that clouds will take a different pattern before the ground starts shaking. These clouds were there, according to them, before the great quake in China but nobody took notice.

So should we start looking skywards more often from now on? If everybody does that, I think the chances of getting killed looking at clouds will be greater than dying in an earthquake. Why? Because one might get hit by a car or slam on a wall while looking for earthquake clouds!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Typhoon Frank

It was almost a week ago when Typhoon Frank (international code named: Fengshen) visited our country. It was sunday morning and I woke up with my room dark and the wind pounding on my closed windows. The rain was noisily pouring outside.

There was no electricity and it was also dark inside the house. I managed to have breakfast with only the candles providing additional illumination.

I was out of touch for sometime. No TV, no radio, and no Internet. Luckily the mobile phones were still working so I could exchange SMS with my parents and brother.

Electric power returned by midday but there was no cable TV. My source of information was the Internet. I was able to track the path of the typhoon and found out that it would pass by area late in the afternoon.

By mid afternoon, the worst of the typhoon was upon us. Winds buffeted the trees in the yard, tearing off some the branches. A bird's nest fell from one of the trees, the poor little chicks died when they hit the concrete.

Surprisingly, the electric power didn't go off. Cable TV was even restored even as the typhoon unleashes its fury on our area. After a couple of hours, the winds and rains calmed down.

TV news started broadcasting all the horrific images of devastation in the other provinces of the country. Scores died in the wake of the typhoon. Near where I was at, there was a news of a couple getting electrocuted because floodwaters reached their electrical outlets before they got to higher grounds.

The worst story was that of the ship that capsized in the middle of the typhoon due to huge waves hitting it. Some 800 souls were aboard that ship and only it was only the day after that reports of survivors, only 20 at first and now 50, came out.

The name Frank has just been removed from the list of typhoon names in the country because of its strength and the devastation it wrought.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Taxi Drivers

I take the taxi everyday to work. It's not because I wanted to but because I have to so that I won't be late for work. It's additional cost on my part but at least I get to work on time. Aside from that I don't have to take at least two jeepney rides to reach the workplace.

It's so convenient. I just get in the cab, tell the driver where to go and I could sit back and relax as my cab goes through the early morning rush hour.

Filipino taxi drivers are a class of their own. They are proud of what they can do with their taxis. If you tell them you need to get to a place pronto, they'll go through all sorts of places to avoid the notorious Manila traffic jams so you could reach your destination at the time you wanted to with more minutes to spare to fix your hair.

Just this morning, I had an experience wsith what could be a cab driver from hell. I was running late for an appointment and I didn't want to keep my colleagues waiting. So I got into his taxi and told him to get me to Makati by all means. Boy did he take my word seriously. If it weren't against the law, he could have ran over half of the traffic aides in the road. He was cutting here and there; if he saw space between two cars, he took advantage of it to put his taxi ahead of everybody. When we reached our destination, he was sneering at me as if he won a gold medal in the olympics. I must have been so shaken that when the people I was supposed to meet saw me, they all said that I looked like I saw a ghost.

Another characteristic of a Filipino taxi driver I find amusing is that they are very opinionated. With only the radio as their company almost the whole day, most them are up-to-date with the current events in the country. Do you think they passively listen to the radio? You are dead wrong. Don't get them started and they would give their take on all issues: from the rice shortage, to the different crimes in the country, up to the performance of the President. Name it, and they know a thing or two about these issues. They could be wrong at times, but the fact that they know about these issues is certainly impressive.

Then there are taxi drivers who choose to be silent throughout the trip. They'll just drive you to your destination and when you get there, they'll take your payment, thank you and off they go.

My most memorable taxi ride was the one I took with a good friend. In the middle of our trip, Mr. Taxi Driver started pouring his heart out, telling us about how he was left by his wife (actually a live-in partner). The woman ran away with his best friend and left him with their children, and dig this HER children to take care of. He was thinking of just driving the taxi off a bridge to end it all. My companion talked to him, giving him advice about how important it is to live and, with the help of God things would just come to pass and get better. I just silently listened to their exchange, half amused and half afraid that he would drive his taxi off a bridge or a fly-over with us onboard.

What would my commute be without the taxi? It would be boring I think. That's why I cheer the Filipino taxi driver for making life a bit more interesting.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Honorable Endorsers

I can't believe I will agree with the Hon. Miriam Defensor Santiago.

Earlier this week, Sen. Santiago lashed out at her colleagues who endorse various products. A trip along EDSA would bear her out. There, you would see billboards of the honorable members of the Senate endorsing various products ranging from detergents to beauty products.

A male senator endorses a skin clinic, his smiling face and clear white skin serving as proof of the expertise of the clinic he endorses. He says he sees nothing wrong with what he's endorsing because even men need to take care of their skin too,

Another honorable senator endorses a glutathione pill, which is currently in the middle of a controversy for false claims. Some news anchor alleged that the pill contains less gluta than it purports to contain.

On TV, several advertisements also feature honorable members of the senate. There's one that feature a male senator who earlier announced his desire to become our next president. He is endorsing a detergent powder. His alibi is that he's teaching buyers to save by buying in bulk because it is cheaper!

My favorite features a lady senator who claims that with a new variant of Downy, one needs to rinse her laundry once. Lady senator says what she's doing is public service because she's teaching people to be environmentally friendly since they will save a lot of clean water by using less water.

Imagine the scenario when one of their colleagues endorses a competing brand. Will they bring the debate in the Senate floor? Will one senator say that his skin clinic is better than that of his colleague. Or worse will our lady senator propose a bill to ban detergents and fabric softener that will cause environmental damages and use more water than necessary? That will be the day indeed!

I hope somebody joins Sen. Santiago in denouncing these endorsements by the Senate members. Although she alleges that her colleagues are clandestinely campaigning for their bid in the 2010 presidential campaign, I personally think that this endorsements cheapen the offices of these lawmakers. They should be above these things and remember what they were in Senate for in the first place.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Goodbye Summer 2008

A few days ago, PAGASA, the Philippine weather bureau announced that summer is officially over and the wet season is here. No sooner the office announced it, two strong typhoons came.

The first, code-name Cosme entered the country's northern parts. It caused so much havoc that the effects are still being felt today. Vegetable prices increased since, for us in Manila at least, these normally come from the northern provinces. Just this morning, I saw a news footage of bangus (milkfish) farms in Pangasinan wasted by the typhoon. The other typhoon named Dindo did not do much damage to the country and is now headed for Taiwan.

So far, Manila has not been directly hit by a typhoon but we have torrential rains almost every afternoon. The rains would sometimes cause flooding and traffic jams in the metro sometimes. You could imagine what would happen if the city is directly hit!

PAGASA later announced that we should brace for at least 18 typhoons this year. I hope it doesn't make our lives even more miserable after some natural and man-made disasters we have experienced.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Iron Man

Thanks to Labor Day which is a holiday, I was able to watch "Iron Man" this afternoon with my friends and I must say that I truly enjoyed the movie.

The movie followed the basic story of how Tony Stark became Iron Man. This time he's in Afghanistan, showing off his latest invention, the Jericho Missile. He was kidnapped by the enemy when he was wounded in an ambush. While in captivity, a fellow prisoner made an electromagnetic device to prevent a shrapnel from piercing his heart. Same fellow prisoner helped him create the original armor when he was asked to create a Jericho bomb by his captors. The rest of the story followed the usual good guy against bad guy kind of thing.

The plus for Iron Man is its cast. Robert Downey Jr did a great job as Tony Stark/Iron Man. His acting was never over the top. Ditto with Jeff Bridges who played the villain, Obadiah Stane. Gwyneth Paltrow's Pepper is the usual decorative female character in this kind of film.

The special effects is also impressive. I especially love the scenes where Stark was testing the capabilities of his armor suit. There was even humor, in fact lots of it, in these scenes. I like the robot armed with fire extinguisher.

I only wish that there were more action since this is the initial film to what I believe would be a blockbuster franchise.

If you're going to see this film, be sure to stay on until the end credits finish. There's a bonus scene waiting for you.

Enjoy!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Hapag Kainan

To celebrate our father's 77th birthday, he asked us to bring him to Market!Market ! in Taguig City. We got there early, and the place was busting at the seams with people. We could only go to the National Bookstore to get some stationery supplies before deciding to have dinner.

Our first destination was the open-air food center, but he didn't seem to be impressed with the choices and the location. We finally decided to eat at Hapag Kainan, a restaurant within the area that offers an "all-you-can-eat" buffet of Filipino dishes.

The buffet has a good set of choices; traditional Filipino dishes, shellfish, pork barbecues and even ice cream for dessert. Soda and Iced tea are refillable too.

I first got some crispy fried shrimps and broiled pork liempo. For my soup, I chose the tahong swam (mussels). After this, I tried the Kare Kare, bopis and calamares. I finished my dinner with broiled hito (catfish), deep-fried pork chops, more shrimps, and calamares.

There were still other choices, but I was already so full.I only had enough room for my favorite dessert, sweetened saba.

I should also add that the service crew was very attentive. They were always ready to refill our drinks and take the used plates.

There were four of us and we spent even less than half of what we usually spend in other buffets. Hapag Kainan buffet really gives value for your money.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Rice Problems Even for the Global Pinoys

I must blog this.

I just saw on local TV a news story about Filipinos in California panic buying rice! This is due to the steep increase in the price of imported rice in the US. The news showed Fil-Ams buying sacks of rice at US$42 per sack. An elderly couple in Union City even bought 2 sacks just to be sure.

One Piinoy told the reporter that even if bread were readily available in Union City, he still wants to have rice on the table. Rice is more filling than bread, he said.

There was also an interview with a CostCo employee who said that they will limit the amount of rice that could be bought by one family. Hey, that sounds familiar already!

The only difference is that Fil-Ams do not need to fall in line for hours to get their rice unlike their poor kababayans here who need to line-up for hours under the sun. Oh and also, while they in the US are limited to just 1 sack per family, the people here are limited to just 3 kilos per day.

The Strange Summer of 2008

Following the annual tradition of writing about the summers of the last three years, I decided to write a piece on this year's warm weather. It's almost May, anyway and it should be raining soon. But wait, I must say that this is the strangest summer we had in years.

For one, there was a typhoon in the middle of summer. Although it wreak havoc in the Southern parts of the country, it also brought some rains here in the Metro. No floods this time and no school cancellation. Well, how would they cancel school when there's none!

Anyway, I call it a strange summer also because there was no water shortage! What we had was rice shortage which I wrote about earlier.

High temperatures and humidity still hounded us the last two months but they're not as unbearable as last year. May be because half of the time, there were rains in the afternoon. This could also have contributed to the lack of water shortage this year.

Oh, I must also add that my electricity consumption remained the same. Meaning, there was no need to use so much electricity to cool myself unlike last year when I had to use the air-conditioner almost 24 hours a day on weekends.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Random Thoughts on a Full-Moon Night

After dinner tonight, I went out of the house to find a beautiful full moon in the night sky. Immediately, random thoughts filled my mind; some good, some utterly corny. I believe thought that one can be forgiven for being corny on a night the moon lords over the darkness of the night sky.

One of the advantages of living in the suburbs away from the glaring lights of the city and its pollution is being able to observe the magnificence of a full moon. Even as I write, I look outside and find the streets covered with a silver filament of light. It is so beautiful.

When I was still in college, I pass by a lake on my way home and on nights when the moon is at its brightest, it casts a reflection on the lake. It never failed to make me sigh. I always made sure that I sit on the side of the bus facing the lake every time I go home on a night like that just to see the sight.

I sometimes imagine our ancestors looking out of their dwellings to find a moon so round and glowing like a giant ball of silver in the dark evening. Were they scared of it? Or did this give them the opportunity to get together and tell stories to each other?

Young Filipino lovers of old probably met in secret and whispered sweet nothings while being illuminated by a silver disk in the sky and covered by shadows of trees and plants that capture some of the light.

Or did the Katipuneros meet under the moonlight as they planned their revolution to free us from our colonial masters?

On several occasions, I find myself staring at the full moon and wonder whether this is the same moon looking down at my friends and loved ones in distant places. I wonder whether they, just like me, are staring at the moon, struck by its beauty as it floats silently above us.

Such is the power of a full moon on me that I could get corny. But as I've said earlier, one can be forgiven for being so sentimental when possessed by the beauty of the moon.

Even if man have reached it and found that it is a cold desolate place, the moon will never cease to amuse me. In this age of the Internet, wireless communications and globalization, I still believe that the moon will remain a source of inspiration for people like me.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

It's the People Again Who Should Make Sacrifices

The TV newscasts are filled with it. People lining in the streets, wet markets and other places to buy rice. Rice that are within their means. It all happened after the country's agriculture secretary announced that we better cut down on our rice consumption or we will end up with out rice! All hell broke loose as soon as after he said those words.

I thought at that time how stupid it was that instead of government doing something about the impending rice shortage, the secretary himself would ask the people to eat less rice. What's even weird is that he even asked food centers to offer half cup of rice instead of one cup per meal (we serve rice by cups). It's almost as if he's asking Filipinos to go on a force diet!!!

It was almost a joke until I saw the news stories and find my countrymen falling in line for hours on end just to get three kilos of rice a day at a price they could afford. Of course there were available rice but these were priced at no less than 30 pesos per kg. for the cheaper kind and 45 pesos for the more fancy kind such as Jasmine rice.

Why not buy the 30 pesos kind, you ask them? Well, minimum daily wage in the country is 300 pesos something or some 7 US dollars. That is, if the company one is in gives the minimum wage. But most companies in the country are small and medium enterprises so they end up exempted from paying the minimum wage.

With so many filipinos classified by the World Bank as earning less than a dollar a day, buying those readily available rice is out of the question. So they endure the heat (it's summer here) and the lack of a proper system of distribution by the food authority just to get rice that they could afford and don't go hungry for the day. So bad was the situation that at one time, those who were not able to get rice started weeping and begging like we were back in the dark ages!

Speaking of hunger, a few months ago there was report that some 70 percent of Filipinos go to sleep hungry because they don't have the means to buy food. And what did our president say about this? Well, she said that sometimes when she's too busy at work she forgets to eat too and stay hungry. I think that there's a vast difference between being hungry because you don't have money to buy food and forgetting to eat because you're busy making money.

Now here's even worse. A report came out saying that we do not have enough rice because there's so many of us! So we must all make sacrifices and stop making children who will compete for food in the future.

It's always the people who are the source of our woes!

Can't we stop and look if distribution of our resources as well as governance have in any way contributed to this problem and not just too many Filipinos?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Happy 3rd Anniversary

Whoa! I can't believe I've been doing this for the last three years! Okay may be sporadically at best. But being someone who easily loses interest on things, it's quite a feat that every now and then I am able to post something on this blog.

This is my first blog for the year of the rat. If I were to believe all those feng shui blabber, it's a very unlucky year for me since I was born in the year of the horse. But I don't really care, first of all I am not Chinese.

Oh speaking of the Chinese... In spite all the bad rap their poor country's been getting lately, I can't wait to see how they would act as host of this year's Olympics. The Chinese have gone a long way in the field of sports since they got out of their Iron Curtain a couple of decades ago. I remember when they hosted the Asian Games a few years back. They have a panda for a mascot and during the opening ceremonies there were guys dressed up as pandas prancing in the field. The problem is, they only have panda heads and hands...

Nevertheless, the Beijing Olympics will still be an interesting watch especially for Filipino athletes. After the complete meltdown in Thailand last December and the debacle of some boxers in the qualifying rounds, the Filipino athletes need all our support in their quest for Olympic glory.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Shelfari

A friend invited me to a site where bookworms converge. It's called Shelfari. Here, the member is given a bookshelf where he can post books he has read, is reading, and plans to read. It is also a social networking site since any member can join groups that are classified according to reading interests.

I have my own shelf, which you could see at the bottom of this blog. However, this is just part of it. When I listed the books I own and have read, I was pleasantly surprised to see that they total 77 books! I haven't listed the other books that I once owned and read but can't locate anymore.

But this is still a small collection considering that there are some members who have more than a thousand books on their shelves.

I am still building up my library and trying to remember what books I have read before. Who knows, I'd also end up with more than a thousand titles!