Thursday, March 26, 2009

HAPPY TRIP 19: Chloe-isms 2

The little princess swept the awards in her grade this year, including the Gold Medal and other special awards for winning the Spelling, Math, and Science Quiz Bees, among others. She's getting eight medals come Recognition Day.

I texted her what gift she wanted. She texted back: "Item or place to visit?"


Friday, March 20, 2009

HAPPY TRIP 18: Chloe-isms

The little princess was putting on her PE uniform this morning before school. Then she realized she didn't have her panties on yet. "Oh, that's why I didn't feel any tightness in my butt!" she quipped. Wahahahaha!!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

BAD TRIP 21: Coming in on a Wing and a Prayer

News just in:
9 Dead in Turkish Plane Crash in Amsterdam

And just recently:
Airplane Crash-lands in Hudson River…
50 Killed as Plane Hits House Near Buffalo…
2 Dead in Fiery Plane Crash at Illinois Airport…

And many more!

A website ( has 5,252 accidents in its database
And my job makes me take to the skies more often than I like.

Not too long ago, Cebu Pacific gave me quite a scare.
(Think Flight 387 that crashed on the slopes of Mt. Sumagaya in Misamis Oriental in 1998, killing all 104 people on board. Waaaah!)
We were bound for Caticlan (with its too-short runway) aboard a small plane with propellers.
Not even the view of Boracay Island from my window seat could rid me of that queasy feeling from the rough flight.
Coming in, I thought the plane’s descent was a little off.
True enough, we landed with a loud thud and a jarring crash.
Everyone screamed!
Then the plane took off again!
What the hell??!
Passengers screamed even more.
A small kid yelled “Mommyyyyy!!! Are we gonna die?!!”
The plane made a sharp turn, like we’re in a rollercoaster.
Half the passengers were vomiting…kids crying.
The plane circled, trying to land again.
When we did, it was with a loud thud and a jarring crash again.
But this time we made it to the end of the runway.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

HAPPY TRIP 15: Palanca wannabe Part 2

While other kids were busy squeezing gifts out of tight-fisted ninongs and ninangs last Christmas, my eight-year-old little princess had her nose in a book the entire time. She actually finished volumes 5 and 6 of the Harry Potter series over the holidays. In-between reading books, she found time to write a short story. She didn't want me to read it at first because "it isn't finished yet". is her unfinished work:

The Bog Monster

By: Chloe S. R.

Hi, my name is Drew Brockman. I live in a town called Timberland Falls. I’m not very sure why they call it Timberland Falls though. Nobody cuts trees for timber, and there aren’t any falls so why Timberland Falls? I have a friend named Lily Evans, who lives just next door. She’s a very pretty girl who most boys have a crush on.

In our town the Grade 12 pupils have a field trip to the forest outside town. On the way, the teacher tells us about the bog monster, which is rumored to live in the forest. I was so excited. Then the teacher would group us in pairs to explore the forest. I got grouped with Lily. “Gosh, do you think there is really a bog monster?” she asked. “Well, we’ll find out soon enough, won’t we?” I replied. Then our teacher spoke, “Alright everybody, go on and find that monster!” she said.

There was a murmur of excitement. Then my friend James Parker said “Hey Drew my man, would you mind switching partners?” I looked to see who he got grouped with. Then I let out a roar of laughter. He got grouped with his super crazy and insane ex-girlfriend Courtney Brown. “And what is that supposed to mean?” she demanded. Lily and I roared with laughter as Courtney dragged him away. Then, remembering what we were supposed to do, we went into the forest. The forest was so beautiful. I saw a lot of animals but no bog monster. Just then, I heard a terrified scream that sounded like Courtney. We went to the place where James was standing, rooted to the spot. “What’s wrong?” we asked him. Apparently, he was too terrified to speak. Then he gulped. “It was the BOG MONSTER.” “WHAT???” Lily was downright scared. “It ….it attacked her then kidnapped her.” he said softly. There was no mistaking it. Lily was as pale as chalk. “Are you sure?” I whispered. James merely nodded. “How did it happen” I asked softly. “We were walking around then it just happened,” he said in a voice barely more than a whisper. “Where did you see it going?” I asked. He pointed over to a clearing in the forest. “James, come with us. We’re going to find that monster.” I said gravely. I sounded braver than I felt. James nodded.

The path led us to a filthy and slimy place. Just as we were getting near the end of the place, I checked my watch. It was nearly 5:00. So we went back to the school bus. The teacher asked us where Courtney was. We told her that she got lost in the forest, and we checked everywhere. So we just went back to town.

The next day, I went to the library to return my borrowed book. James went with me, to return a book too. When we arrived, however, the door was locked. So we decided to try and get in an open window. However, when we found one, we saw something peculiar. The librarian was all covered in goo. When we were just about to leave, the goo was spreading all over the librarian. When the goo stopped spreading, James spoke to me in a terrified whisper. “That’s the Bog Monster, Drew,” he said softly.

We ran back to school, excited to tell our teacher about what we saw. However, when we were halfway to the school, we realized it was Saturday. The school would be closed. So we just went back home. We have never been more disappointed in our life. Well, I don’t know about James’ life of course. However, on our way back, the most peculiar thing ever happened. Courtney Brown was walking down the side walk, looking perfectly happy and fine. James ran to her, looking as though he had never seen anything stranger. “Courtney! I….. I …… I thought you were….?” “What?” she said. She had a look of surprise on her face. “What are you babbling about?” she added. “I thought you were kidnapped by the Bog Monster,” he said. Courtney giggled a high pitched giggle. “What nonsense! What Bog Monster are you talking about?” she said gleefully. James looked as though he was struck by lightning. “You mean, you don’t remember?” he said. Courtney just sniggered and walked away.

“What is up with her?” James would always ask me whenever he saw Courtney. “ I don’t know” I would always answer impatiently.

To be continued....

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

FIRST TRIP 13: Bubalus mindorensis

When I first set foot on Mindoro island four months ago, I declared to my co-workers that I wanted to have my picture taken beside a tamaraw. They all laughed at me. Forgive my ignorance but I really thought the tamaraw was much like our friendly neighborhood kalabaw. It turned out it is a wild animal and so fierce that attempting to pose beside it is next to impossible.

But then I proved them wrong. Today I got my picture taken with not one but two tamaraws! Here’s the proof: ta-daaaa!

OK, I cheated. Sort of, hehe. Because the two tamaraws are kept in captivity at the Gene Pool Farm in Rizal town. There are only two of them left there now: mother and calf. The calf, named Kalibasib, was born in the farm.

Tamaraws are found nowhere else on earth except in Mindoro. Sadly, it now ranks among the most critically endangered species on earth, its population dwindling to a pitiful 263 heads due primarily to destruction of their habitat. If only we can ensure that they continue to have a place to live in – the remaining forests of Mindoro – then perhaps they will have a chance at avoiding the way of the dinosaurs.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

BAD TRIP 20: Buchikik ek ek ek

I’ve had my share of ill-mannered people but this one takes the cake. Last week in Shenzhen, China a friend and I were waiting in line for a taxi in front of a mall when, just as we were about to take our turn, two matronly Chinese ladies behind us brazenly pushed us aside and jumped into the waiting taxi. Wadapak?! Laglag panga ko sa kabastusan nung dalawa.

(apologies to my Chinese friends who are truly nice persons. one bad egg doesn't make the whole basket rotten)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

HAPPY TRIP 14: Malalaking Munting Tinig

The Grade II class was in full swing; the pupils sang “Bahay Kubo” with all their might, their little voices shrill in the distance. Then I caught a deep baritone, his “sitaw, bataw, pataniiiiiiii” soaring well above all the other voices. Intrigued, I took a peek inside the classroom. And found three young Mangyan men in their 20s singing merrily along with their tiny classmates.

Education is slowly creeping into Mangyan land and it is normal to find 17 or 23-year-olds attending primary school. Never too late to get an education. In this same Grade II class, a mother is also enrolled, while her daughter is in the next room. In Grade III.

Monday, November 10, 2008

BAD TRIP 19: Bata bata...sana di ka na ginawa

The girl must be no more than 13. And yet a baby already clung to her, sucking on a breast hungrily. And she’s not the only one. Lots of other children her age in almost all the Mangyan villages I visited already have children, married just as soon as they start menstruating. Breeding the next generation of Mangyans, who will be as marginalized as the generations before them.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

SIDE TRIP 43: Chained

I thought the roads in Samar were bad. Really bad. All potholes, no pavement. Aaaargh! The incumbent Congressman’s wife took a beating in the last elections because of them. (GMA then promptly installed him as BID Commissioner. What the f__k?!)

An American visitor once commented “I don’t see roads like these anymore, not even in Africa!” Of course I bristled at being compared to some God-forsaken little African nation ravaged by civil wars and where people die of hunger every day. Is the Philippines really worse off?

And then I took the San Jose to Roxas road on Mindoro island and discovered just what “bad road” really really meant. I was going to catch the RORO to Caticlan in Roxas and that entailed going over the mountains separating Occidental from Oriental Mindoro. And what an experience it was!

The road – if one can call it that – was fit only for carabaos: muddy, slippery, with deeply rutted tire tracks, leaving little room to maneuver. Forget about using your pretty little car; it won’t get past the first ten meters on that hellish stretch from Banban to Milagrosa. The jeepney was literally swimming on mud! I thought we were not going to make it.

But of course, Pinoy ingenuity will always prevail. The two rear tires of the jeepney were fitted with iron chains for more traction, and its front fender was equipped with “wings” -- a kind of pulley where one end of the cable is tied to a tree so it can pull the jeepney up. Wonderful.

Umm.. did I mention the Vice President of the Philippines comes from Mindoro? He obviously doesn’t take that road.

The "Wings" on the front fender:

Monday, August 11, 2008

SOUND TRIP 3: Call of Nature

The Mangyan “Mayor” was nowhere to be found when we went up their village in the mountains of Calintaan. (Their village is the gateway to the Mt. Iglit-Baco National Park, home of the tamaraw.) We were told he was out in his kaingin, usually a fair distance from home.

How to reach him? Simple. A Mangyan boy started shouting towards the direction of the kaingin, giving out the message that visitors are in the village waiting to see the “Mayor”. Pretty soon, we heard another Mangyan shouting on the other side of the mountain, presumably to relay the message he just heard.

An hour later, the beaming Mayor arrived. We asked how many “relay stations” it took for him to get the message. “Four”, he chuckled.

Beats text messaging anytime!

on a hanging bridge leading to the Mangyan village

Sunday, August 03, 2008

FIRST TRIP 12: Tall Tales of Tails

Mangyans have tails, if ignorant lowlanders are to be believed. As a child from a neighboring island, I used to believe that too. Now, years later I got to finally meet them up close and personal. Not surprisingly without the tails people whispered about.

Mangyan is the generic name for the eight indigenous groups found in Mindoro island, each with its own tribal name, language, and set of customs. I will be working with these tribes in the next two to three years, in the hopes of making some improvements in their lives, particularly in the areas of education, health, and livelihood.

Tall order I say. But good luck to me. And them. ;p

Crossing rivers going to the Mangyan village

Mangyan house in the mountains

Tau-buid tribe

Saturday, May 24, 2008

SIDE TRIP 42: Home is where the heart is

It’s like they transported a piece of Luneta all the way to Singapore. Lucky Plaza along Orchard Road on a Sunday is quite a sight. Teeming with OFWs on their day off, they practically take over the entire mall. Outrageous fashion sense prevails, each one trying to outdo the other.

On one side, I saw a group of women huddled on the floor, hiding behind an umbrella. When I took a peek, it was to find an enterprising Pinay peddling pancit to kababayans. At the Kabayan Fastfood on the third floor, long lines stretch all the way out the door, eager to gorge on adobo and sinigang. And lots of extra rice.

Next door, even longer lines lead to remittance centers. Sisters, mothers, fathers, brothers, tita, tito, anak… sending hard-earned money back home. To families who may not even have a full grasp of how hard it is to work abroad, away from loved ones.

But every Sunday, on Lucky Plaza, they reach out to each other, recreating a piece of home in a foreign land.

On a previous trip to Singapore, a Singaporean colleague once advised me: “Don’t go to Lucky Plaza on a Sunday; there will be too many people there!” But that’s exactly the point! That is why I would want to go there. Because there would be a lot of kababayans around.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

BAD TRIP 18: SMification

It pains me to see grand old cities lose their character simply because Henry Sy put his one-size-fits-all stamp on them. It used to be that cities like Baguio and Iloilo had a charm all their own. Session Road and J. M. Basa St. were lined with charming old buildings and quaint little shops where one could find unique treasures that warmed the heart, mind… and stomach.

Not anymore.

I was in Iloilo the other day on J. M. Basa St. and was appalled by the sight of boarded up shops and seedy clubs in what used to be the liveliest strip of road in the entire city. Now it reeks of urban decay, shunned by people who now flocked to malls built outside the city.

Baguio is in a similar bind. Old haunts disappeared on Session Road, unable to compete with the monstrous SM mall up on the hill.

Now they're beginning to look like any other city on the planet. Aaaargh!!!

Monday, April 07, 2008

HEALTH TRIP 1: Knocked Out

The little gym I go to went belly up last week, a victim of economies of scale. Despite its lofty status as a monopoly – it being the only gym in this small Samar capital masquerading as a city – the numbers just didn’t pile up and the owner had the good sense to quit while he’s ahead.

But it’s bad news for me who has started to rely on sporadic trips to that gym to keep unwanted avoirdupois at bay. What to do? No choice but to hit the pavement at the boulevard along the beach and do an hour of brisk walking before going to work.

And it seems a lady gym mate had the same idea. This morning I found her on the boulevard, leading a pack of geriatrics, happily wiggling their fat asses to loud disco music.

And so life goes on….

Sunday, March 09, 2008

BAD TRIP 17: Sloshed

My landlord is a drunk. A serial drunk. He usually stays drunk for two straight weeks, sometimes more. While at it, he doesn't bathe and stinks like hell. I wonder if he gets to eat at all in his drunken stupor.

He is a bachelor in his mid-30s but looks much older, and stays alone on the ground floor of the ancestral house he inherited from his parents. We, his boarders, occupy single rooms on the second floor. The rent he collects is his only source of income. Right now, we're down to two, at one thousand pesos apiece. I wonder how he survives on two thousand pesos a month.

I've stopped speculating on why he throws his life away like this. Perhaps it is his way of coping with loneliness and hopelessness, albeit temporarily. At the end of the two weeks, he shuts himself in his room and emerges a few days later, sober and meek as a lamb.

But in the meantime, I have to put up with his knocking on my door in the morning -- totally wasted and reeking of urine and puke -- asking for 20 pesos to buy cheap gin to get him through another day of self-induced coma.

One week down, one week to go.


Saturday, March 01, 2008

HAPPY TRIP 13: Aftermath

The sun is out today in Eastern Samar, after weeks of heavy rains. Yehey! My room leaked, my things got soaked. I’ve got no shoes to wear, all of them soaking wet. The damp is killing me, made worse by the smell of decay.

But I have no right to complain; they’re just a minor irritation. A lot more people are worse off – their homes washed out by the floods, their livelihoods destroyed. People are getting sick from contaminated water. They don’t have food to eat, their crops gone. They get crumbs from handouts – two kilos of rice, one can of sardines, two packs of noodles – not even enough for one day. What about the months to come?

Still, people are resilient. Today, all of them are out, hanging clothes to dry, fixing their houses, sweeping away the debris. All done with a smile, thanking the Lord that the sun is out today.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

BAD TRIP 16: Hasta la vista

Leaving is such a pain. I can never get used to seeing my little princess cry silently, tears rolling down her cheeks with nary a sound. Nor a whimper. Just those large, wet eyes looking at me with sorrow.

Even after two years of living like an OFW in my own country, leaving home after an oh-so-brief visit kills me every time. It breaks my heart to see her bravely fight off tears as she waves goodbye from the door, already counting the days till my next visit.

“Daddy, can we go back to Manila? Then we can always be together like we used to.” (We moved back to Aklan, my home province, two years ago.)

It’s not possible at this time, baby. Daddy's job is in Samar.

“E di mag-resign ka na lang po.”

(Sigh) I wish it were that simple, baby...

Sunday, February 03, 2008

HAPPY TRIP 12: Unsnatched

Either it’s my lucky day or the pickpocket was incredibly stupid. Have you ever had your cellphone snatched and returned right back?

Saturday night on Ati-atihan weekend in Kalibo simply meant one thing – snake dancing at Magsaysay Park. Imagine a big square filled with people, all holding on to one another and doing the snake dance, with Presidential-wannabe Bayani Fernando belting Happy Days are Here Again and Roll Out the Barrell. It was fun, fun, FUN! Of course I was right in the middle of the melee, drenched with sweat, and swaying to the music like there was no tomorrow. Everyone was high, fueled in part by a healthy dose of San Miguel beer.

Just when everyone was in a frenzy, with people crushed against each other, I distinctly felt a hand brush my front pocket, right where my cellphone was kept! Alarmed, I immediately groped my pocket to check. The cellphone’s gone! Aaaaargh!

Good thing there was a lull in the music so the frenzied crowd stood still for a second. I yelled “Cellphone kooooo!!!” to no one in particular.

In a split second, a hand went up in front of me, holding my phone up, saying “O…”

What the f_ _k? I grabbed my phone just as the music resumed, and the guy was gone, lost in the boisterous crowd.

Friday, January 25, 2008

SIDE TRIP 41: Impeccably Imperfect

Is it possible that they first subtitled the movie in Chinese and then translated it back to English? For how else can one explain the strange fact that Wesley Snipes' “The Contractor” came out as "The Agreement Person" in its subtitles? Wahahaha!

There I was, bored to tears on the Cebu to Ormoc fastcraft, and trying to amuse myself by making up stories in my mind about my fellow passengers. It didn’t work. So I focused on the movie playing overhead instead.

The sound was bad and I could barely hear the dialogue. Good thing it had subtitles so I thought I could follow what was going on. Not so. The subtitles had very little resemblance to the spoken lines, the sentences mangled beyond recognition.

After ten minutes, I gave up. But not before I heard Wesley Snipes say “Are you OK?” and reading “How have you been?” on the subtitles.


Sunday, January 06, 2008

SIDE TRIP 40: Reluctant Narcissus

Yup, that’s me perched on the toilet bowl.

I’m not doing anything gross, I swear; I just wanted to show you a fine example of interior design that should have made it to the cover of Architectural Digest.

The pic was taken in the bathroom of one of the guest rooms at the McArthur Park Beach Resort in Leyte. I think the designer must have been stoned at the time; otherwise, who would have thought of putting a full-length mirror on the door, facing the toilet bowl? I mean, why would I want to look at myself while in the throes of shitting??? Eww.

I could think of better things to look at.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

HAPPY TRIP 11: Palanca wannabe

This is Chloe, my little princess. She is seven years old and in Grade 2. When she was five, she wrote several “books” that she said she’d sell so she could have money to buy a Gameboy (somewhere in the archives is a blog about it, heheh). Of course Daddy “bought” the books secretly and the gameboy was hers.

Earlier this evening, she was busy typing away on my laptop. When I checked 30 minutes later, it was to find a new story she wrote. Please bear with the proud Daddy but I just had to post it here:

By: Chloe S. R. (December 27, 2007)

Somewhere in the United States of America, lived a little girl named Sarah. She was very kind and loving. Everyone in their town liked her. One day while she was in school, their teacher told them that summer is only one week away. All the students were talking about what they were going to do on summer. Sarah said she would go to her favorite place: Summerland. The night before summer, she dreamed that she was in Summerland. She and her parents would ride on the merry-go-round, buy cotton candy, and watch the clown perform his tricks. The next morning, Sarah went out of her room to wake her parents up. On her way, Sarah felt something in her nose and before she knew it…… ATCHOO! She had a bad cold and can barely stop sneezing. She told her parents and her parents told her that until she got better, she couldn’t go to Summerland. She was very, very sad. That night she had the same dream. She knew having the same dreams every night meant something, and she was going to find out what. After days of trying to find out she did not succeed. Then she asked both her parents to tell her what it meant. Her parents told her that she was having the same dreams because she was getting better. The next day, Sarah was very surprised. Her cold was gone! She told her parents and they were glad her cold was gone. The very next day they went to Summerland and had an enjoyable time.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

BAD TRIP 15: Forty-something

I hate it that guys in their 20's who work out in the same gym as I do have such great bodies, even if they don’t work out as much as I do. They’re young, I tell myself glumly. Their muscles develop faster while mine remains a puny lump. I kill myself on the treadmill and yet these stupid flabs on my belly wouldn’t go away. Aaaargh! I wish I could trade-in this forty-year-old carcass for a newer model, wahehehe.

Then I hear these youngsters whine incessantly about everything: school, parents, money (mainly lack thereof), and a whole lot of other miseries, real or imagined, and I smile. Ey guys, been there, done that. Don’t wanna go back to when I was an insecure twenty-year-old dork.

Blame it on a society that puts premium on youth -- and people will do crazy things to try and halt the advancing years. But what's wrong with being in my middle years, I ask myself. I have a good job, great friends and, more importantly, a loving family and a whiz kid for a daughter… that’s more than what most people have. Age be damned! The trick is in finding what’s good and beautiful in your life as it is now.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

HAPPY TRIP 10: Tickled Pink

My heart leapt when I opened Fence’s blog this morning and found this:

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Waw, I am preening like a peacock. Can’t help it. Can’t stop smiling. From ear to ear. :)

Fence is starting what he calls Link Worthy Blogs where he will be featuring blogs that fit his idea of the “lofty and the beautiful” hehehehe. For the inaugural, I’m “it”. Tenks bai!

And yes, Fence, being featured is a reward in itself.


Here’s the full text (sorry, I am a techno-retard and don’t know how to do hyperlinks heheh):

Link Worthy Blog #1 - Miki Monster
at Wednesday, December 12, 2007

You don't have to finish the entire jar of jam to know if it is good. A slight finger dip and a quick slurp will do. And so it is with Miki's blog. He had me with his wiggling butt. Kidding. Miki writes in the exact way that I believe things should be written. Light, engaging, and with a steady hint of humor.

Anyone can write ornate sentences. And sadly, a lot of folks mistakingly believe that using flowery words will help their causes. Nothing exposes a sentence's insecurities more than when the writer hides behind big words. Simplicity, in my opinion is still the biggest gauge of a person's mastery of a language. Something that I think Miki has in spades.

Ever wondered why it's so easy reading Miki? How your eyes glide effortlessly from one word to the next? That's simplicity at play right there.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

BAD TRIP 14: University of Life

someone was “sourgraping” (his term) at an egroup that the passport to opportunities is still “the baccalaureate” degree, even if there are a lot of people who have been successful without it.
then again, he says, there are thousands of people with degrees but remain hidden in uninspiring woodwork.

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while we know education is important
has the emphasis on educational status become superficial?

till now, i've been putting off getting that masters
in my line of work, initials after one's name don't really mean that much
so i keep procrastinating

my previous bisor was a college undergrad
but he was a brilliant man nonetheless
i had a colleague who was trained at AIM
but he sure couldn't cut it in the field

then again, i had a boss who had a PhD
and 20 years worth of work on the ground
and he is fantastic! -- merging theory and practice in a seemingly seamless thread

learning doesn't only happen in schools
it is a big part of one's education, yes
but that doesn't sum up everything that we know in life

life has always been about complexity, uncertainty, change...
what’s true yesterday may not be so today
so we learn from our experiences
and use that new knowledge (from experience) to improve ways of
working and living…

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

FIRST TRIP 11: Celeb-Me-Not 2

It was my first time to be interviewed on TV (for a TV Gala aired live via satellite in Sweden) and it wasn’t exactly a pleasant experience. I was nervous. My face froze. My mouth was dry. I didn’t know how to smile. Someone told me later I swung my legs to and fro during the entire ordeal.

With three cameras smack in my face, I was terribly self-conscious, thinking about all those Swedes watching me in their homes thousands of miles away. It didn’t help that I also had to worry about what I was going to say, in exactly two minutes, and not a second more.


I’m not cut out to be a TV star.

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Me on the monitor during rehearsals

Monday, December 03, 2007

HAPPY TRIP 9: Celeb-Me-Not

She pulled up the hem of her cotton dress and wiped her sweaty face. Then she briefly ran her fingers through her hair, folded her palms in front of her washboard abs, and said to the cameraman: “I’m ready!”

Meet Agneta Sjödin.

Agneta Sjödin who?

Agneta is a top Swedish presenter and TV personality on the Swedish television channel TV4. She is the host of the popular show “Let’s Dance”, the Swedish version of “Dancing with the Stars”. And she’s the most uncelebrity-like celebrity I’ve ever met.

Agneta was with us in Samar last week to host the Philippine leg of a TV gala over the weekend. Along with a cameraman, she went to remote barangays to shoot stories of community projects that will then be featured during the live telecast, via satellite, in Sweden. It was a joy to see her lugging a heavy tripod, helping the cameraman set up his equipment, and then face the camera sans makeup. No airs whatsoever.

I was imagining Korina Sanchez doing that. And promptly gagged.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

SIDE TRIP 39: Colors and textures

I wonder why they have to design airports to be so cold and impersonal these days. I was at the spanking new Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok last week and found the place to be unwelcoming despite, or perhaps because of, its sleek glass and steel ensemble. Even its cold metal chairs do not invite people to stay long. It’s as if they want you to be out of there fast, processed and dispatched as quickly as possible. The same is true with the Hong Kong Airport and to some extent, the Centennial Airport Terminal 2 in Manila. Gone are the places that make you want to stay a little bit more. The last remaining dinosaur is the Changi Airport in Singapore that exudes warmth and a welcoming air -- with its soft lights, carpeted floors, and a profusion of colorful blooms.

(As an aside, the Thai Army overthrew the Thaksin government in 2006, using the allegedly shoddy construction of the Suvarnabhumi Airport as one of the justifications for its coup.)

Hong Kong and Manila Centennial Airports

Changi Airport
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But I must admit to being pleasantly surprised upon walking out of the Suvarnabhumi terminal to find that I was going to be riding a pink taxi going into the city! As in, hot pink! Aaaaargh!!!

Only in Bangkok.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

SOUND TRIP 2: Gugmang Giatay

Someone asked in an egroup what the title of this song is:

Oh my God,
Unsa kining gibati ko
I love my teacher,
Yes I do
Ang dughan ko daw mobuto
Kung mosuwat ka sa blackboard
Ang akong gihuna-huna
Ang dagway mo nga matahom

First time I learned there was such a song
(apparently by Max Surban?)
But it struck a chord from deep within me

You see, my first ever crush was my second year high school math teacher
Her name was Miss Gladys Salido
She was soooo pretty and smart
And she was ambidextrous!
When she’s tired writing on the board with her right hand, she’d switch with her left hand
And the handwriting was the same!

From then on, I practiced writing with both my left and right hands.

Gugmang giatay

Thursday, September 06, 2007

TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE 1: Crappy Writings

I squirm in acute embarrassment every time I reread stuff I wrote years back. Ganun ba talaga ako magsulat noon? Like a silly dumbass, bwehehehe.

Browsing through old files, I came across this one, written 20 years ago (in June 1987) and published in our company newsletter:

KASIBU: Fascination and Regret

After what seemed to me an endless stretch of drab, dry plains, my first glimpse of Nueva Vizcaya left me almost breathless. Having lived in a town where the sea is practically backdoor, I was a bit intimidated by the grandeur of great mounds of earth soaring to incredible heights. The gracefully zigzagging highway cut along the mountainsides nearly killed me, though: the car turns to the right and I slip sideways to the left; it turns to the left and I’m slammed right back to where I originally sat. For more than an hour and a half, I slipped from side to side until I thought the seat’s gonna rub me out altogether.

But if the highway’s a less-than-pleasant experience, the road to Kasibu town is definitely a driver’s nightmare. The one-lane trail undulates like a starving colon, shoots up 60 degrees to the sky, and snakes along the treacherous mountainsides where a slight miscalculation will send you hurtling several thousand feet down, face to face with St. Peter. We crossed so many streams I lost count, and the ride’s so bumpy I was positive my behind’s going to stay purple for at least a week! It didn’t rain for two days, fortunately, or we’d have plodded along at a snail’s pace the way that road reportedly turns marshmallow during heavy rains.

Kasibu itself is a rather sleepy town set on gently sloping terrain with lush vegetation all around. A sprinkling of cattle graze idly on the mountainsides, giving us the illusion of trampling along Marlboro Country. This was miserably shattered, though, by the realization that it was undoubtedly kalabasa country through and through. Stretches of squash plantations occupy the valley with a sprinkling of rice fields and some corn.

It is sad to note, however, that for such a lovely place it is rapidly losing its mantle of plant life. The once verdant hills that housed all sorts of animal life are now tragically bald, its beauty diminished. A native spoke longingly of how it was only a few years ago: trees abound in the area, sheltering deer and wild boars. Hunting grounds were plentiful. Then came the logging concessions. Trees were felled right and left. Nothing was planted in their place, or if there were, these were burned to the ground by the kaingeros who dig in after the loggers moved. They cleared the area and planted it with squash. After perhaps two croppings, the land is no longer as fertile as before so they move on to other areas and replicate their operations, leaving behind a trail of waste and unproductiveness. Stripped mountains stand mute: helpless witnesses to the wanton destruction of their protective covering.

When are people ever going to learn? With the reckless destruction of our forests, severe drought hits large farming areas during the dry season. When the rainy season comes, destructive floods sweep across the same areas, causing millions of pesos worth of damage to crops and properties. Soil erosion takes its toll, turning thousands of hectares of over-grazed pastures into barren land. Nutrient-laden topsoil on which plants grow are washed away, leaving the area an unproductive waste. Sedimentation of lakes and rivers follow, for much of the sediment comes from denuded mountains and hills.

What will we have then? What can we leave our children and our children’s children? Answers to these questions lie ahead in the future. Whether or not our organization can help shape favorable answers is yet to be seen.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

FIRST TRIP 10: One Year Old/Older...

I think this is the first picture taken of me
At least, the earliest surviving pic
This was taken on my first birthday

I'm going to notch another year in a few days' time
Happy birthday to me, wahehehe

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

ART TRIP 12: Like Father Like Daughter

I’d been drawing since I was a little boy. We lived on a beachfront house and during low tide, the endless stretch of fine sand was my canvas. I also consumed tons of paper on which I drew faces and superheroes and monsters. But I never had any of my early artworks framed. Guess my mother considered it too expensive.

So when my seven-year-old little princess presented me with one of her “masterpieces”, I had it framed. It now hangs proudly in my office. Perhaps I’ll give it back to her much much later… as a wedding gift, hehehehe.

Here it is:

FOOD TRIP 6: Grossed out

I went to a public school at age five, straight to Grade 1 without passing through kindergarten. To this day, I never forgot one of Mrs. Bolivar’s practical lessons: she would invite students to come in front, give them biscuits, and let them demonstrate properly how to chew with their mouths closed.

This afternoon at a fastfood joint, I watched in horror as a well-dressed lady proceeded to chomp on her burgers like a pig, mouth and teeth bared, bits of beef patty mixed with saliva flying out her mouth.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

FIRST TRIP 9: Senior Citizen

I don’t know why women cry at weddings. I get it when they cry at funerals which are hardly celebratory. But weddings? They’re tears of joy, I’m sure, at seeing two lovely people pledge, for better or worse, to stay together through sickness and health, thick and thin, and lovers’ spats over who gets the remote control after 9pm, bwehehehehe.

I’d just been to a wedding where I notched a first: I became ninong for the very first time. Aaaaaargh!!!! I take it to mean I now reek of naphthalene balls and it’s going to be downhill from hereon. I can see myself more and more in the company of geriatrics, swapping small talk about which adult diaper brand is better.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

SIDE TRIP 38: How Much of the Philippines Have You Visited?

My Lakbayan grade is B+!

How much of the Philippines have you visited? Find out at Lakbayan!

Created by Eugene Villar.

The places in blue are those I had been to. The shade becomes darker for places where I spend /spent more time.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

SIDE TRIP 37: Bangladesh He-Men

Michael Jackson must have been a Bangladeshi in a past life. Remember his trademark crotch grab? Well, Bangladeshi men do it all the time. They frequently hold their crotches over their skirts. You'd be surpised to know men wear skirts in Bangladesh. Not skirts really but lungi, their version of the malong. Instead of pants, they drape the lungi around their waists and presto! they’re ready to go. I was told they don’t normally wear briefs under that piece of cloth so I guess it makes sense that they want to be reassured all the time that their birds haven’t flown the coop.

It is also not uncommon to see two Bangladeshi men hold hands while walking in the mall. How sweet. I guess it takes a lot of confidence to do that unselfconsciously (and wear the damned skirts at the same time!).

But what floored me was the sight of a Bangladeshi man urinating: he squats like a female does! Well, you try wearing that damned skirt and I guess you’ll see why; you’d squat, too, or you’ll pee all over yourself hehehehe.

Come to think of it, since most Bangladeshi men go around naked under that skirt all the time…. and grabs and rubs and scratches their crotches all the time, ready to shoot…. does it have a direct bearing with being one of the most populous countries in the world? Their land area is only half the size of the Philippines but their total population is twice ours. That’s 150 million Bangladeshis! Yay.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

HAPPY TRIP 8: Upakan ko manliligaw sa kanya

The little princess turned seven last April 16. When asked how it felt to be 7, she quipped: “I feel old!”

Am I raising a Calvin or what?

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Scenes from a birthday party:

BAD TRIP 13: Lost for Words

“Next time, please limit your reports to 750 words.”

That’s the big boss talking, laying down the law. And that goes down the line.

It means that each of the five municipal teams in my command will have to submit to me reports not exceeding 750 words, which I then have to condense into 750 words to submit to the big boss. He, in turn, will have to condense 10 such provincial reports into a country-wide report of 750 words, to be submitted to his boss in the Asia regional office.

And with so many activities and outcomes to report, it’s not easy. Normally we want to cover all angles, resulting to reports exceeding 2,000 words at the minimum!

But in this day and age where people barely have time to read, long narratives are out. As the big boss likes to say, “if you can’t say it in one page, it’s probably not worth it!”

Writing is hard, even for writers who do it all the time. Most times it is difficult to maintain cleanliness, accuracy, and brevity in our writings. But I’ve always found it effective to write in a way that comes naturally, omitting needless words along the way.

Takes practice, I guess.

Monday, February 12, 2007

HAPPY TRIP 7: A Letter Straight Out of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends

Dear Family,

I’m almost there. A few more days to wait. Speaking of days, how are you? How is little Gabriela? When you read this letter and you want to send me an answer, I want you to tell me every detail of your life there, OK? Ha ha ha ha! So how are Gabriela, Budoy and Clara? Are they behaving and not crying anymore even though I am not there? Are they? Is Angel in college now? Mother, Father please take care of my four siblings even though it’s hard for you. Please do everything you can for them.


Sister Chloe

That was written by my six-year-old little princess for her imaginary family. Waaaah!!!!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

BAD TRIP 12: Of Dogs and Taxes (or, Taxes Going to the Dogs!)

I never owned a dog; I didn’t want the responsibility that went with owning one. Too much bother, I thought.

When I began living on my own I kept my stuff to the barest minimum, not wanting to be saddled with properties I’d have trouble disposing of later on when I move from place to place.

Then I found myself owning a six-hectare spread out in the boondocks, courtesy of grandparents who had the foresight of buying up properties in the old days. And with it came real property taxes. That I discovered I had to pay. Every single fucking year. Aaaaargh!!!!

In the first place, I have no confidence in this government’s capacity to use my hard-earned money with a semblance of prudence (think of fat-assed trapos) so imagine my consternation to be told I had to pay double the real property tax! The times two is supposed to go to the SEF. Special Education Fund. What bullshit is this?

Apparently, the SEF will be released to the local school boards to be allocated for the operation and maintenance of public schools, construction and repair of school buildings, facilities and equipment, educational research, purchase of books and periodicals, and sports development.

One look at the sorry state of our public schools and it tells you loud and clear where the money went.

Wanna kill that politico who stole my money!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

HAPPY TRIP 7: Raising Miss Smartypants

My six-year-old little princess got hold of a Dave Barry book. After two minutes she asked: “Daddy, what’s ‘venereal disease’?”

Another five minutes passed and she went: “Daddy, what’s ‘loin of passion’?”

Aaaargh!!! Drop that trash, kid!

Whatever happened to Snow White and the Seven Fucking Dwarfs?


Watching Starstruck on TV the other night, she snapped disdainfully: “You call THAT a dance?”

And that was said with matching kilay tu tawsan.


Watching Starstruck again the following night, I preempted her by hastily remarking: “You call THAT a song? Er… You call THAT singing?”

“The second one is correct, Daddy” she deadpanned.


For Christmas, she wanted a Polly-Pocket-doll-on-a-limo more than anything else. When she got it on Christmas morning, she went up to us and said seriously: “I don’t know how to thank you…. really!”


To be continued…