Search and You Shall Find in My World

30 April 2011

Lazy day

A serene afternoon scene in Catmon, Cebu
(Picture taken using Sony Ericsson W800i)

28 April 2011

What I hate in Summer

It's the heat! The unbearable heat that goes through your brains and make them boil like they are going to pour down from your ears. And you become irritable and bombastic!

Summer is a wish to stay wallowing in cool waters or be blown by cold winds somewhere. Or stay in bed with a cold bottle of beer in hand. Too bad I only have a day or two to laze around!

Damn summer!


27 April 2011

O2 Spa is no longer appealing

After almost consuming our ordered quesadilla, a haphazardly done sauce of catsup and mayo arrived in exchange of the original salsa and sour cream. Disgusting!
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UPDATE: May 31, 2011
Like a real fortune teller, my guess that O2 Spa will be closing its business seems right after all. For almost 3 weeks now, the O2 Spa's doors were closed and seems there are no activities going on there. I was not able to go and investigate, but one thing is very sure- they are closed.
====================================

I used to promote O2 Spa as the bar to be in Cebu. It used to have good food, affordable beer and a vibrant yuppie crowd.

Not anymore.

O2 Spa's usual 195 pesos a set of 4 beers + 1 is now 250 pesos. And the crowds have dwindled to a table or two the past two visits we had. Worst, their quesadilla becomes unappealing minus the salsa and sour cream. It infuriates me when bars and restaurants take your order and later serve them with lacking ingredients. It's like lying to your face. Only when we question for the lack did they explained the salsa and cream unavailable.

After a year of meeting at O2 Spa, my group decided to transfer somewhere affordable, with delicious food, great ambiance and serves you what's really in the menu. And no more replays of all Manny Pacquiao's fights like everytime they play it something new will happen.

We found the place- The Vienna Kaffehaus at The Gallery in Mabolo.

Travel precautions could save you

Summer in the Philippines is actually a school break and has less to do with the seasons. Since the Philippines is a tropical country, there are only two distinguishable seasons here- rainy (usually with monsoon rains) and sunny.

But nowadays, you could not even make a distinction between the two seasons.

Since most of the family members are on vacation, it is during summer that people travel. Go to exotic places, or visit relatives, or attend fiestas which are happening almost everywhere during this time. The whole month of May is in fact, fiesta time for the island of Bohol. They say my province would sink a few inches because every Boholano comes home on May for the fiesta.

Whether you are visiting a place this summer or just gallivanting around your city, people and places nowadays are not safe. Many travelers around the globe have been mugged, robbed and fallen victims to scams.

Here are some few tips from Matador Network, an independent travel website, on how not to get robbed when you travel.

1. Don’t get drunk. Most of us are vulnerable when we are wasted, especially if you are like me who would not miss a pub upon my visit to a place. As Matador puts it- Large, flesh-eating predators on planet Earth have always had a natural instinct to sniff out sick, injured and weak prey. And people-predators do the same. And we almost always make a slip on this rule.

2. Don’t look rich. It is understood that when you travel, you leave behind most of your valuables safely at home or somewhere else. We have heard many stories of people getting robbed inside jeepneys or buses or walking around Colon Street in Cebu. Maybe because they flashed around expensive jewelries or gadgets when they travel.

Of course Rule number 2 does not say you have to travel like a beggar. It simply means to lessen the chance of getting caught by predators.

3. The kids don’t play. Gone are the days when kids were still innocent. Nowadays, especially in cities, kids are scheming brats waiting for willing victims. Some are even used by adults to look for victims. So do not fall easily to their innocence. It could be a ploy. When kids are starting to harass you, it is always safe to leave them and go to places where there are a lot of people. Never argue with them because they may have adult “supervisors” around.


4. Watch the people watching you. You may feel this creepy instinct someone is watching you. Grab hold of your camera and look at people who are eyeing your DSLR. Tell them you know what their plans are. Look at them in the eye. But don’t stare that long. Just let them know you are not the type of person who is an easy prey.

5. Don’t be the low-hanging fruit; be the lion. People who rob are desperate and are willing to take risks whenever possible. If you appear sober, confident and aware of what’s going on around, robbers may wait for another victim. Sometimes your confidence and strong aura hinders bad elements to get you. If you suspect a bad element, show your confidence, look him in the eye and say their language when you know it.

Almost always, they would pass on you for giving them the screw-me-and-you-will-regret-it-look and take another chance on the weaker tourist.

6. Root for the home team. Always blend in. Never be the outstanding person you are in the streets. When you’re in Rome, be a Roman.

7. Put the expensive stuff where they won’t expect it. Some may have experienced their hotel rooms where opened when they were out especially at night. Most hotel robbers are freaks who wanted to get it done in the briefest possible time because they are also afraid of getting caught. Putting your laptop and your camera in a desk is like giving them a bonus.

So don’t make it too easy for them. Place your things in places where they usually care to look. Remember, robbers are not from the Scene of the Crime Operatives (I hope not!). They get what is placed near exits. Randomly place values in your locker, among towels, under your table or chairs.

8. Listen to locals. A good advice from locals is worth listening. So when they say do not go to a certain place, don’t. However, if someone who is beaming and telling you that he just had wonderful shots at that “forbidden” place be sure you are observing the rules above. Be diligent.

9. Be smart about cabs. Getting cabs especially when you are drunk is kind of risky. Be sure your companions know what cab you are taking and have them list down the plate number.

In airports and piers, do not take cabs that are “waiting.” Always go to legitimate companies.

10. Recognize when a bad situation is developing and get out of there. According to Matador, not all crime is skillfully premeditated and executed -- oftentimes it's improvised. Always err on the side of caution, Matador added, and get out of there. Nine times out of 10 they'll realize the opportunity has passed and carry on with whatever they were doing before they noticed you.

26 April 2011

Love dies

Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings. ~Anaïs Nin

23 April 2011

Easter and Christians

Christians are celebrating their Easter (supposed to be the resurrection of the Christ) with eggs. Colored, painted and hidden eggs.


Comments from Ricky Maestrado:


Like Halloween, Santa Claus, and even Sinulog are among the many pagan traditions adopted by early Christians just because it falls on the same time of the year as with another Christian event. (And also back then, it would be easier for them to convert the local non-believers if they could show that Christianity is somehow connected with their traditions.)


The bunny, eggs, chicks, even lambs and daffodils are all to do with the spring season which symbolizes rebirth like the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The influence in the Philippines, however, is due to commercialization and has nothing to do with religion.





Drawing from lynnrockets.wordpress.com

Wish on Earth Day

I wish more people cared about earth as much as they cared about who they believed created it.


22 April 2011

The agnostic goes visiting churches on Holy Thursday (Visita Iglesia for Catholics)

STARTING POINT: Basilica of the Santo Niño
FIRST STOP: University of San Jose Recoletos Chapel
NEXT STOP: The historic San Nicolas Tolentino Church in Pasil
FOURTH STOP: Santo Rosario Church
The dead Christ. I used to fear this one when I was younger.
FIFTH STOP: The Chapel at the University of San Carlos
SIXTH STOP: Mariners Church at Pier 1
FINAL STOP: Befitting for last, the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral glowed in its glory


21 April 2011

RIP Roger Alegado, my brother

It saddens me to know that my friend and mentor, Roger Alegado passed away yesterday. Since my transfer to Cebu, I have not seen him, much more talk to him.

Roger has been my big brother during my working stint at the provincial government of Bohol. We have enjoyed a lot of camaraderie, so to speak. He has been my team lead and became my group member, my consultant and mentor and a very good friend.

Sadly he has not told me his limited days with friends would soon be over. I heard from friends that he was sick and confined somewhere when I was already out of the provincial government. My busy schedules and my free spirit has never actually found where he was confined.

Until someone's status in Facebook told me he has passed away.

We have never talked.

Brother, death ends a life but not a relationship. Sleep tight. I will miss you.

19 April 2011

Willie Revillame: A monster hit

I am not a Willie follower and rarely saw his shows. I don't know why he was such a hit. I could not even think how my barber would manage to cut my hair while watching him. But lately, his alleged "sins" have been exposed because of his bullying tactics and abusing a child on air, on primetime TV. 

A crying child doing a striptease, even if handed down ten thousand pesos for doing so, is just NOT RIGHT! I am no moralist but everyone with the right thinking could say that.

Who is Willie Revillame? Why should he matter?

This article by Yoly Villanueva-Ong of the Philippine Star should give you an idea who he is and why this nation should re-evaluate our values.

10 Ways to Be a Monster Hit

1. Get involved in serial scandals for higher ratings.
In 1999, Randy, John and Willie were suspended from Magandang Tanghali Bayan for vulgar comments about the contestants ofCalendar Girl. In 2001, Willie was terminated from the show for the same offense. MTB went off air, and resurrected as Masayang Tanghali Bayan. In 2003, the MTRCB ordered ABS-CBN to terminate Willie for malicious jokes against mainstay Mahal. The host-comedian filed his resignation instead with a tearful farewell in 2004.

2. Get away with murder!
In 2006, 30,000 people gathered outside the PhilSports Stadium to joinWowowee’s first anniversary show. There was a stampede that killed 78 people and injured around 400. Revillame was cleared of any responsibility.

3. Get involved in sex scandals while supposedly abusing the wife.
In 2007, his estranged wife, Liz Almoro accused Revillame of abuse. She claimed that he humiliated her in front of their child, threw a chair and remote control at her and had “dirty sexual affairs’” with different women. Revillame countered that he had difficulty performing his husbandly duties due to Almoro’s explosive moods and tirades.

4. Get away in a “hot” Ferrari.
In 2008, the Chief of the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group demanded that Revillame return a “hot” Ferrari or pay the proper taxes. The vehicle had a fake certificate of payment, was registered in Cebu but carried Manila license plates. Revillame claimed it was just for test-drive, even when surveillance showed him using the car for one month.

5. Get away with disrespecting beloved Cory Aquino.
On August 3, 2009, Revillame spoke out against the insertion of a live broadcast on the transfer of the late President Cory Aquino’s remains to the Manila Cathedral. He carped that Wowowee could not make people happy while the entire country was mourning. On August 10, he went on an indefinite leave.

6. Demand that a colleague be fired or else…
In 2010, Revillame threatened to resign if ABS-CBN did not fire Buzz co-host Sucaldito for criticizing him. He said, “Nananawagan po ako sa management... Wag niyo naman hong payagan na tinitira ‘yung show natin. Ang laki ng kita ng ‘Wowowee’... Mamimili na kayo. ‘Pag hindi ninyo ‘yan tinanggal ako ang magre-resign.”

7. Break your contract.
In August 2010, Revillame announced that he was ending his contract that expires in September 2011. He accused ABS of violating several provisions. Management decided to replace Wowowee and offered him a one-hour weekly show instead.

8. Junk bffs on air.
When Randy and John signed up for a new noontime show in ABS while he was negotiating to have them join him in TV5, Revillame angrily broadcasted, “Magsulian na tayo ng kandila…kung diyan kayo masaya sa taong nanakit sa’kin… diyan na kayo.”

9. Flaunt your wealth.
The P90M Ayala Heights house formerly owned by Gabby Lopez, the Tagaytay property of Chito Madrigal, where he will build his house plus high-end boutique hotel with a heliport, a Lamborghini, a Ferrari, a P50M yacht, the ten-storey mall with two theaters are just some of his assets.

10. Flex your muscle at every opportunity.
Get paid handsomely to endorse a Presidential aspirant, cut a platinum CD, generate record-breaking showbiz-magazine sales, hobnob with titans. Revillame is undoubtedly the biggest monster hit in town. Born to a 15 yr-old waitress and supposedly a-once-upon-a-time-naked pub dancer, he has come a very long way. Cocky and unfazed by the latest ruckus, he said, “Every time I do something a bit naughty, the ratings go up.” Unfortunately, he has been proven right many times.

Picture of Willie and Janjan from iprovoked.wordpress.com
Portrait of Willie from kapamilyaonesite.blogspot.com;
Last pic of Willie from mang1pinoy.wordpress.com

Anda, Azary, berhenti mengikuti dia!

18 April 2011

Singapore's army is a softie


This picture of a maid, possibly a Filipina, walking behind a Singaporean army while tinkering a gadget in his hand has created a lot of debate in cyberspace. It even forced the Ministry of Defense in Singapore to issue a statement that the concerned soldier is remorseful of what he did in public.

I don't know how the Singaporean military operates but the picture would tell a lot, not just a thousand stories about the Singaporean army, and maybe will go down in the history as, uniquely Singapore. 

What's wrong with a maid bringing a rucksack of an army? There are a lot of wrongs here, and I can see a few-

I can deduce that Singaporean armies are pampered and spoiled brats. Brats could get worst. It could mean that a maid is doing the works of a military in a Singapore army camp- laundry, cleanup, shine shoes. Soon Singapore will be bringing maids when they go to war. Knowing their advanced technology, they could just sit in air-conditioned bunkers while their maids do the direct encounters with enemies. Isn't that cool?

Singapore's affluence, while worth for the green eye, has given us a picture of snobbery and aloofness. And like what its soldier was doing, Singapore could as well just be like its neighbors who could do nothing without helpers at their side. Maybe that is the main reason why a lot of Filipinos go there. That, aside from being a softie.

But in a way, bringing a maid to camp, is much much better than siphoning billions of pesos from the coffers of the military. The Philippine military could do well with that. Not the maid, of course.

More readings about the pic above:
David Boey (Senang Diri): Singapore's defence burden- Something no maid can carry

Picture from blog.omy.sg

17 April 2011

Palmistry: The art of making palms on Palm Sunday

When we were young, I almost always got excited during Palm Sundays because my grandparents allowed us to design our "palms" for this great event among Catholics. 

The focus of the design was the standard cross with a more open creativity on how you decorate around it. We stripped and cut leaves to form swirling decorations to make our palms stand out in a mammoth crowd. We usually used the young leaves of coconuts in these designs. I remember I asked my Lolo why only coconuts but I could not remember his answer. Maybe because Bohol has bountiful coconut farms and palms always point out at them.

Nowadays, Palm Sunday is no longer as exciting. People got busy. Palms no longer accessible and you can actually get them right at the entrances of cathedrals, churches and chapels- for sale. People no longer make their palms stand out in the crowd and has a boring uniformity among them.

I think the only people who are really excited are the vendors of these palms.




14 April 2011

A warm welcome

Peace and a clean, crisp air greeted us as we docked in Cawayan in Masbate. It was the start of a beautiful stay there.


Photo taken using Sony Ericsson K800i. Yes, there is no need for me to buy a DSLR camera.

13 April 2011

Asshole

Love is bullshit. Emotion is bullshit. I am a rock. A jerk. I’m an uncaring asshole and proud of it.” — Chuck Palahniuk, Choke

11 April 2011

Off to a road less traveled: Cawayan, Masbate

Three hours bus ride and six hours overnight boat ride is a serious travel business. Unless your destination is a well renowned tourist spot. 

But Masbate, I assume, is not a good tourist destination. I have not seen ads nor heard tourists recommending the province in that part of Bicol in the Philippines. In fact, all I heard about Masbate are typhoons and deaths. Armed conflict, be it the revolutionary type, blood wars or gun-for-hires were my description of Masbate, thanks to the Philippine media who would rather sensationalize gore and drama.

Map showing our travel from Bogo City in Cebu to Cawayan in Masbate

And to make it worst (unless you've been there before to say the worst), my destination this time is to a more elusive town in that part of Masbate- Cawayan. Elusive because if you search for Cawayan in the internet, all you get are incorrect data pointing to another parts of Bicol. Yes there are some vague town data that won't help. At all. No data for hotels or pension houses. No official website. Fuzzy pictures from residents of Cawayan. All are adding mystery to that place.

But the road less traveled, I think, is the most exciting place to go. I packed my bag and go. 


From Cebu City we took the Ceres Bus at the Cebu North Bus Terminal for Bogo City where a direct ferry ride for Cawayan is available daily. This is a good three-hour trip so I made myself ready. It is advisable to take the six or seven PM trip to Bogo because the ferry departs at 12 midnight for Cawayan and there is nothing much to see in Polambato, Bogo City.  So getting there at past ten is justifiable. 

Disservice at its best

I say our trip was not quite good. We were seated at the economy section and the winds at night were extremely cold. Everyone of us was shivering from cold despite our jackets and hoods. You have no chance of getting a good night sleep because Super Shuttle Ferry is a seating ferry. That means no cots to sleep on Mister. 


Worst, the crew and staff would not and did not offer good service to paying clients. You could not even distinguish them from other passengers. They would just grab your tickets and leave you wherever you are onboard.


I have to knock several times at their food bar for me to be noticed despite they were just seating in the passengers' seat right next. Worst still, they jacked up their food and beverages at 200 percent making a 5 pesos junk food into a premium commodity without the service. The beer in can that could have saved me from the cold was worth 65 pesos, the price of a 1 liter (grande) Red Horse Beer. I got drunk just by asking the price.

Despite the happy colors, the seats of Super Shuttle Ferry does not offer comfort
This sign as well as other facilities and other services in the ferry show how the staff and management has taken the passengers for granted

Halfway through the trip, the waves were getting bigger and the noise from the machines and the seemingly upturned cargoes made me shut my eyes without sleeping. I was so glad when the ferry finally docked six hours after.

Good sign

From afar, Cawayan was engulfed in a fog, a good sign for me. When we got near the port, the place seemed remote and rural, their port being far from the town center in a barangay (village) called Mahayahay. Since we were there because of a friend's invitation, we were billeted at their home in the Divisoria section of Cawayan, a jumble of the old and new Cawayan and the goods they trade.

The port of Cawayan, Masbate, small and still undergoing road construction
Barangay (village) of Mahayahay in Cawayan

Without rest we were toured around town. From the town proper up to the highlands of Cawayan, down to its marine sanctuary in Recodo. We were supposed to go to some islands in Cawayan but time is against us. But one thing worth remembering during this trip is the hospitality of the people there despite the short notice and the short visit.

Mind you, everywhere we go food were served and we were not allowed to go without eating as if it was our last visit. It was in Cawayan that I first tasted a binga (a kind of shell) cooked in a simple way- salted and steamed- to get its flavors from the sea. When I saw its original form I was shocked because of its hugeness that was unseen from the tender slices of its meat. Maybe because it was cooked in its simplicity or when still fresh from the sea.

The shell called Binga
The cooked binga meat is a good beer accompaniment
Manta ray meat cooked in oyster sauce is definitely delicious.
Our master chef and host is Eric Dubongco.
In fact most of the food I tasted from there were fresh, literally jumping before they were subjected to coal fires or vinegar. Their kinilaw (fresh raw fish with vinegar, spices and coconut milk) has a different taste and the fish crunchy to the bite. The saang were tender and sweet. The variety of seaweeds dipped in vinegar and garlic interestingly bursting with a taste I never experienced in Bohol, Cebu or Samar.

Intoxicating

Nowhere, I said, no-where had I seen an open market that was so big and so varied my sense of smell and sight were intoxicated by its presence. Cawayan's market was a sight to behold and to be experienced. From transistor radios to ukay-ukay, vegetables to seaweeds, from livestock meat to fish of different species, we found them all in their market. 

Although I did not made notes and do not wish to, seeing the whole of Divisoria on a Sunday was like seeing the whole island of Masbate.

The open air market extends right at the beach
Sea cucumber locally called bat is one of the unique displays up for sale in the Cawayan market 

The only thing I detest in these kind of markets in the provinces is the uncontrolled buying and selling of illegal species. I do not know if getting the egg sacs of squids are illegal but they were abundant there. Rays, mantas and stings, were butchered right in front of the public. I am glad I did not see turtles or dolphins.

The squid egg sacs put on sale with tiny squids still squiggling inside
Promises

When we left Divisoria for Mayahay port, we made a promise to go back. And as I looked back I wondered what would happen to Cawayan years from now. The fresh air we breath there were occasionally mixed with the foul smell from somewhere. Although I did not see overflowing garbage bins in the roadsides, their rivers and seas were already floating with plastic and other garbages, a sign that the municipal government is not stringent in its waste disposal laws, if there are any.

Plastic and other garbage litter the waterways of Cawayan
Divisoria is quite dirty and the local government should make moves to have a real marketplace, separating wet and dry goods. In their case, the sea is the main reason why the wet market is at the beach front- water. It is a sad fact that this part of Cawayan lacks proper water system and of course drainage system.

I envy the village of Recodo who is "far from civilization" but was able to put up a good water system. Why can't the municipal government do the same?

But in all, my travel to that side of the Philippines was worth it. New friendships were established and a new experience was realized on my part. I will be back.

Relevant information:
Super Shuttle Ferry [#38 Gorordo Avenue, Cebu City 6000; Telephones: (032) 232-3150, 231-0639, 234-4121, 345-5581; Fax: (032) 233-5733, 345-5583] leaves from Polambato, Bogo City to Cawayan, Masbate every day at 12 midnight and departs from Cawayan to Polambato every day at 12 noon.

For bus trip schedules in and out of Cebu call Ceres Liner Cebu at telephone number (32) 345-8650.

More shots: