Earth Hour

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Thank You in different ways

Today is my birthday.  When I went online this morning to check my Facebook page, 55 of my friends have posted their birthday greetings on my wall.  

I didn't want to thank each one with a generic "Thank you" so I decided to thank them in a more personal way.  I wanted to say it differently for each person.  Those in other places, like my friend in Spain I thanked in Spanish.  My former officemate in Hawaii I thanked in the native tongue.

I was not even midway in replying to all the greetings when I realized that I was already trapped in the generic "thank you" I was trying to avoid.  The only difference between each reply was the name of the recipient.  I then tried to use the Filipino way of saying it but ended up in the same trap as that with the English version.

That's the problem with the written word.  Sometimes, it is difficult for someone writing to convey his feelings, especially in some very short messages.  It is also difficult for a reader or receiver to discern the true feeling that the writer wants to express.

In the end, I just went on to say "thank you" to my friends in whatever way I could.  I just wish that my feelings got through with just two words.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Has the iPhone been following you?

The biggest story among Apple fans last week was the report by two researchers that the iPhone could track the movements of its user through a secret file embedded within it.  The file, according to the researchers named Peter Warden and Allasdair Allen, is unencrypted and gives a detailed account of the comings and goings of the user.  

The initial reaction was fear and then indignation at the possible breach of security among iPhone users.  There was a lawsuit filed against Apple because of this.

After the initial outburst, however, people realized that the report was nothing new and is not something to lose sleep on.  One analyst even went to as far as using the same application that the researchers used and found its readings a bit off.  Steve Jobs, when asked through email by an iPhone owner, said in his usual brief reply that  "... The info circulating around is false."

Just this afternoon, someone gave me a link to an official statement from Apple that finally addresses the issue.  The statement is in Q and A form and on whether the iPhone and other iOS this is what the company has to say:
"Apple is not tracking the location of your iPhone. Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so."
By the way, just as the dust on this issue starts to settle, Apple updated its site to announce that the White iPhone 4 is coming out today.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sto. Niño Exhibit: More Images of the Holy Child

Some of the images at the Sto. Niño exhibited showed what happened when Jesus grew up and fulfilled his mission on earth.

One particular image caught my attention because of its appearance.  It's called the Sto. Niño de Passion, which shows the Holy Child holding a crucifix in one hand, and a crown of thorns and nails in the other.  The expression on the Niño's face is so pained, as if contemplating on his future sacrifice for us.   I can't help but feel feel sad for the child.  

The other images portrayed the different titles given to the Child Jesus, including the Sto. Niño del Espiritu Santo,  Sto. Niño del Sagrada Eucharistia and Sto. Niño dela Cruz y Paz.

But no matter what title is bestowed upon the Holy Child, He will grow up into Jesus Christ, the good shepherd, the King and Savior of mankind.

Sto. Niño Exhibit

Filipinos love the Sto. Niño, the little child Jesus.  Come to any Filipino Catholic home and chances are you will see an icon of the Child Jesus occupying a special place in the altar.  

The image of the Sto. Niño first arrived in the country when the Spaniards came here.  History tells us that when our ancestors were baptized, the Spanish priest gave Queen Juana, wife of the chief, a sacred image of the Sto. Niño.  It has survived a number of fires, including one during World War II and remained unscathed.  The same image now resides in the Basilica del Sto. Niño in Cebu City where it receives thousands of devotees on the third Sunday of January every year.

Last January, to coincide with this feast, a group of devotees of the Child Jesus called Congregacion de Niño Jesus  exhibited hundreds of images of their patron.  We were able to go to that exhinit at the PNB Building at the Government Center in Pasay City.  Since taking of photographs was allowed, I took several pictures of the beautiful images.

As a sign of their love and devotion, Filipinos love to dress up the Child Jesus in fineries.

Here are some of the numerous Niños on display. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tong Yang at SM Megamall

As a birthday gift to him, we treated our father to lunch at the Tong Yang Shabu-Shabu and Grill Restaurant in SM Megamall.  We got there near lunch time so the place was almost full already.  Luckily we were seated quickly.

Shabu shabu is the Japanese version of the hot pot.  You get some raw ingredients from the buffet and then cook it on your table either by grilling it or boiling it in the soup.

Upon being seated, we were asked for our choice of soup base.  I chose the chicken soup and the Asian spicy soup.  Both were placed in a pot and then brought to a boil.

It's been a while since we went to Tong Yang so we were glad that the food choices for both shabu-shabu and grill were still the same.  The choices included vegetables, fish, meat and stuff made from tofu.  

I went to the fish choices first and get the kinds which I planned to grill.  I then chose some meat for grilling too.  I got some vegetables, more fish and mushrooms for cooking in the Asian spicy soup.  After getting my ingredients I went ahead and cooked my food. The fun part of course was grilling the meat in butter!

Tong Yang also offers sushi and other cooked food.  The fried rice was a delight!  Aside from this, all drinks were unlimited and already included in the buffet price.

The buffet price was already reasonable compared to other establishments that offer all-you-can-eat lunch.  Just remember not to have so much left-over food or you'll be charged an additional PhP500.  I must say that we had a really great lunch and we're definitely go there for more.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Banana Leaf Asian Cafe at Promenade, Greenhills

On one of our Sunday family lunch outs, we decided to go to Greenhills Shopping Center.  We decided to eat at Teriyaki Boy in the Promenade Mall.  However, we were already seated for about 15 minutes and none of the staff were serving us.  They were just walking around and past us even though there were just a few patrons inside.  

We decided to transfer to another restaurant and we went to Banana Leaf Asian Cafe which was just a few steps away.  We were seated immediately and waited on by a very helpful staff.  The menu consisted of mostly Southeast Asian cuisine, some were familiar and others not so familiar.  We decided to get the ones we were not familiar with since the staff who was serving us helped with our orders.

The one that makes Banana Leaf different from the other restaurants is that you would actually eat on a banana leaf and not on a plate.  I told my sister in law that on one occasion that my friends and I met for  dinner in their Makati branch, I shredded part of my plate and it had to be changed.

We ordered the Vietnamese fried rice.  I was expecting it would be salty or sweet but it tasted just right and was actually really good.

We also had the Malayan Beef Rendang which is one of my favorites here in Banana Leaf.  It's beef  stewed in a sauce that's both sweet and spicy at the same time.  It is then covered with desiccated coconut.  I liked because the beef was so tender.

For some fish dish, we ordered the Tilapia fillet in Assam Sambal sauce.  We were warned by our server that the sauce is a bit spicy so we asked for a more moderate sauce.  It tasted like they used some sweet chili because it's not totally hot and spicy.  The fish was deep fried and crispy.

We also had Malayan Chicken Curry with Potatoes which tasted like, well, chicken curry.  There's really nothing special about this dish although it was also good.  It's just that we were expecting that it would have something different from the usual chicken curry you can get from a non-specialty cafe.

 My brother was so intrigued with the Stir Fried Chinese Turnip Cake with Beansprout and Chives so we decided to order it.  It was a great choice because it tasted good too.  The turnip cake had a very nice mouth fill, which is entirely different from tofu.

We all had a pleasant eating experience at the Banana Leaf Asian Cafe at the Promenade.  Good food, good service and also, the price is just right.  There still other great dishes that we could try if ever we come for lunch again.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Nikon Introduces the Nikon D5100

Nikon recently announced the Nikon D5100, a Nikon DX-format digital-SLR camera equipped with a vari-angle monitor, and a 16.2 megapixels CMOS image sensor and the EXPEED 2 image-processing engine that enable high-resolution rendering.  

It is also equipped with the D-Movie function that supports recording of full-HD (1920 X 1080p, 30p) movies.  Along with this, are the in-camera movie editing functions that allow users to delete unnecessary portions from the beginning and/or end of movie files. There is also an HDMI output so that the users can show off their full-HD videos to their family and friends.

What I am excited about the Nikon D5100 is the Special Effects mode.  This is the first Nikon DSLR to offer this feature and the user can choose from seven special effects, including selective color where the entire photo is in black and white except for the elements chosen by the user.  There is also the night vision which  allows the user to capture images even in extremely dark places.  The special effects can be viewed through the lens before shooting, allowing users to see and confirm the results.  Complementing these features is the new High Dynamic Range (HDR) function which captures two shots at different exposures and combine these to create a single image that has little or no loss of highlights.

Another neat feature of this camera is the vari-angle monitor. The vari-angle monitor opens from 0 to 180° to the side, and can be rotated up to 90° clockwise and up to 180° counter-clockwise when it is open.  This will come in handy when shooting in a crowded place and the standard monitor won't do the job.  The 3-inch monitor is also bigger than the one in Nikon D5000 and since the hinge is now on the side, it will not hit the tripod when the camera is mounted.

The Nikon D5100 allows continuous shooting at up to approximately 4fps.  It also has a quiet shutter release mode for shooting in places and situations that needs quieter shutter operations.

The Nikon D5100 comes with an AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR kit lens. offers it at $899.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Mango Kreme Cake from Krispy Kreme

I passed by the Krispy Kreme store at the SM City North EDSA Annex this afternoon and I couldn't resist buying half a dozen donuts.  I bought three pieces of my favorite Original Glazed and another three of the Mango Kreme Cake.

They call it the "official doughnut of summer" perhaps because one of its ingredients is ripe mango.  The doughnut is topped with cream, nuts and bits of ripe mangoes.  Like any variant of Krispy Kreme, this one is soft and sweet. It has a slight hint of cinnamon but I cannot pinpoint whether it's from the doughnut or the cream.  The mango in this batch has a little tartness but it complements the sweetness of the cream.  Anyway, I like it and I think I will get more of this when I pass by a Krispy Kreme branch again.

Monday, April 4, 2011

My thoughts on the national bloggers association

The Pinoy blogosphere is currently abuzz with the proposal for a national organization of Filipino bloggers.  A friend pointed me to an online version of the manifesto which was prepared by the proponents of the said organization.  I perused it several times before deciding to dive into the widening ocean of approving and dissenting voices.

The manifesto contains six objectives of the organization, mostly aimed at promoting the welfare of Filipino bloggers here and abroad.  It also stated what it wants to be as an organization, which is to be a democratic, voluntary and non-profit organization. 

I have come up with the following comments and questions regarding the objectives:
  • Promote and defend the right to free speech and to free expression Isn't the Internet the bastion of free speech and expression?  Besides, these are supposed to be protected by the Constitution, unless there is a curtailment of these rights of which I do not know. 
  •  Promote and develop blogging, vlogging, photoblogging, microblogging and other online creative and expressive forms in all their diverse categories, topics and types Okay, this one I like but then again, how many blogs are already out there?  I'd say 100 million or more.  Obviously blogging has developed a life of its own and it is growing still.  But why should we promote it in the first place? As an alternative livelihood?  As a hobby?
  • Gather and share Philippine blogging’s best practices that reflect our contributions to ourselves and our online communities, media, causes, organizations and businesses, government, the nation and the world.  My mind went blank on this one.  
  •  Draft and adopt a code of ethics that underscore the members’ and organization’s sense of responsibility and maturity.  In my opinion, this one raises a lot of questions about the very nature of this organization.  When you come up with a code of ethics, naturally someone will have to monitor for compliance of members. Then any breach of this code will have consequences. Who or what will enforce this code?  Will this organization be regulatory like the KBP before?  Will it regulate what we can post on our blogs and then punish those who violate such regulations? Also, what if my view does not jibe with that of the organization, will I still be able to blog about it or do I really need to toe the line?
  • Discuss issues and concerns that confront our members. This of course is expected from an organization.  But what do we do after discussing the issues? Do we make representation to concerned authorities to bring to their attention these concerns?
  • Campaign and work for more affordable, reliable and better internet access in the country  It's about time that someone should stand up and demand for this.  Hopefully, the telcos would sit and listen if the consumers of their services have banded together and speak in a collective voice.  
But we still haven't answered the basic question whether there is really a need for a national organization for Filipino bloggers.

There are already local and regional organization of bloggers in the country.  Here in Bulacan, I know one that is based in Baliwag although I am not yet a member.  Will the national organization act as an umbrella organization. a federation of all these groups?  Instead of dealing with individual members, they will just deal with the leaders of these smaller organizations.  If not, what will happen to these local groups?

Naturally, there are some resistance to this proposal but the proponents have opened venues for discussion of all these issues.  Hopefully they would be able to clear all the issues and let everyone understand what the national organization is really all about.  Begin by answering the question: Why?

Personally, I am not yet convinced we need one because I still believe that blogging is a personal experience and activity.  It should not be encumbered by everyday rules which may defeat its purpose.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Whatever Happened to Bantay?

The dog has become a fixture in many Filipino households today.  In many homes in the country, man's best friend is not only a pet that is almost like a member of the family but also the official provider of security for its owners.

Before,  a dog was given a name for his trait or purpose.  If his task is to guard the house he would be called Bantay (guard), Bagsik (fierce), Tapang (brave), among others.  A pet dog's name could also be based on his color or appearance like Batik (spots),  Puti (white) or Tagpi (patch).

Many of these dogs were natives. They do not have pure breeds but mostly mixture of several breeds and characteristics.  More recently they're called askals short for asong kalye (road dogs).

When we were young, our grandmother who was then living in Manila had a pet named Manilenya (an old way to call a native of Manila).  It was a big brown female dog who slept most of the day under the stairs because she was already too old.  Our first dog was also a native dog and my mother named him Clever.  Since then, most of our dogs have English names except for one which my sister named Bansot because she was so small.

Nowadays, Filipinos have developed a liking for dogs with breed.  The most popular is the shih tzu, which can be found almost anywhere.  One cannot go to a mall or park and not see a shih tzu being carried by a human.

 Many of these dogs are now given cute foreign names such as Charming, Ashley, Princess, etc.  Even my dogs, who are all native ones, have proper names (Betty, Rod and Ted).  My sister in law's shih tzu is named Disney and my brother's girl Rottweiler is Margaux.

So whatever happened to Bantay, Tagpi and Tapang?  Perhaps the days of naming our dogs with good Filipino names are over.  Maybe, it's more "in" nowadays to give a dog a foreign name.  I still believe that Bantay, Tagpi and Tapang are still very much around but only with a different collar.  Or name.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Summer is (almost) here!

I went to SM Marilao here in Bulacan this afternoon to meet a friend.  While waiting for her, I noticed that most shops were already selling goods for summer.  After all, classes in schools officially ended yesterday so most kids and their families must be preparing for a trip to the beach or some fancy pool resort.

I was attracted to the colorful items at the mall's toy store, Toy Kingdom. There were inflatable swimming pools in fancy shapes, designed to instantly set up in the backyard or in my case, the frontyard. I wanted to buy one but then thought of how the neighbors would react upon seeing me splashing like a child in a rubberized pool.

Then there were the toys and gears that can be used at the beach. There were assorted inflatable rafts, boats, and other floaters for cruising the pool.  There were also goggles, swim masks and snorkel sets for exploring the waters at the beach.  And then there were the cute sand rakes, shovels, and pail play sets for the little ones who still can't swim but still need to be busy at the beach.

Looking at those items made me want to be a child again!