December 12, 2006

Early Call

whew! got awoken by the constant beep of my phone this morning. It was from a friend who just got in from the States, couldn't sleep right away so had to keep busy with what else- the phone. ",)

am awfully glad you see. i really do look forward to seeing old friends back again, and especially during the holidays.

it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

December 02, 2006

Malapit na ang Pasko

Well, it's that time of year.....

Really, my cellphone hasn't stopped ringing for 2 weeks now. Either my mom is calling me, or my dad, or my sis-in-law, or my bro - all asking about our going home for the holidays. Oh yeah, still three and a half weeks to go, you say, but to us Filipinos, the days pass by in a blur as everyone gets busy with umm-important things. So tickets have to be bought ahead of time else we'll be sure to land on the wait-list of every airline there is available.

Getting in the office a day after a 5-day mini-vacation off to the northern tip of the Philippine map, I was a bit hesitant to approach my boss about my leave for the holidays. But what the heck! It's Christmas after all. My family will miss me a lot if I don't go home. And I'll be missing a lot, too, actually. Christmas time is mainly family time. I have to go home and be with my family. Can't help but sigh wistfully at the sight of any nativity scene that's just all around us now.

So there, after letting my boss know I'm going home this Christmas break, I frantically searched the net for any available flight home. Whew! That wiped out my credit limit for the month for now... again!

November 15, 2006

Memories of Palawan

Shucks!!! It's been more than a month since my last post. Haven't had the time lately. I think my posts'll be coming in trickles in the next couple of months. I've been assigned to sub for my colleague who handles in-process QA. She'll soon be taking off for a maternity leave in December but has already started being in absentia for the last three weeks. So, this beauty has been doing the rounds of Biscuit production for the meantime. Anyway, I'll try to squeeze in some blog time. I know I will.

My friend Queen just got in yesterday from a weekender in Palawan. Suddenly, I miss Gigi, my double sis, ex-housemate and friend from way back in College. She now lives in Puerto Princesa and is a chemist analyzing for levels of contaminants in export fishes and marine products. Wow, heavy... heavy metals ang handle niya ngayon. Hehe, tama ba, GG? Will you be home for Christmas? I heard Bogs will be coming with you. You should take him to LB. You should. Everyone's pretty excited to meet him.

with Gg and Bogs

Palawan has lots of tour-worthy spots.. went there last March with my colleagues at work. Hailed as "the last frontier", it boasts of verdant rainforests and teems with abundant natural resources. See our pics!

inter-island hopping on Honda Bay and Underground River tour ... and at Wildlife Conservation Center

In the whole 3 days that we were there, I couldn't stop myself from marvelling at its unspoiled beauty. Well, save for the mini-patches on some mountains that have been ravaged by kaingeros. "Kaingin" is a Filipino term referring to the slash and burn practice by upland farmers. It is a shifting cultivation system of farming wherein forests are cleared of trees then planted with a particular crop like maize, which will then be burned and replaced with another crop like cassava, then burned again and replaced by still another. And on and on the cycle of shifting cultivation continues. Kaingeros are what we call this type of farmers. And the cleared forests, denuded for a time prior to the next planting, somehow look so barren from afar.

Palawan is the largest province in the Philippines in terms of total land area. Mainland Palawan is a long stretch of island and there are several more little island paradise scattered around. If you want to get from the heart of Puerto Princesa to the different tour sites, you’ll have to schedule separate days for the northern and southern tips. And with plenty other smaller islands to go to, another day for island-hopping will add more fun to your trip. When we went there, we were just able to make the tour of Underground River, Honda Bay islands and city sites. I plan to go back there separately for Coron island and also El Nido plus Calauit island. And maybe someday, too, the World Heritage Site Tubbataha Reef for its ecodiversity— i wish I’d have learned to dive by then.
scenic view of the beach at Sabang

just enjoying ourselves

Palawan sure is a premier tourist destination in the country. It is blessed with rich flora and fauna and virgin forests that would just make you fall in love with it. And what I loved most about the place is its moderately priced foodfare. Oh yeah, foodie lover that I am. Compared to the other places I’ve been to so far, my Palawan trip was the cheapest in terms of food. Well, I mean, I’m talking seafood here- fresh, sumptuous, delectable seafood. My Sagada trip was pretty cheap too, but dining didn’t include seafood so I can’t equally compare it with my other nature jaunts to the south, in the likes of Boracay, Bohol, Cebu, Samar-Leyte and Davao. Sagada I can more liken to a Baguio or a Marawi trip.

Thinking of visiting Palawan?! I'd give you a thumbs-up. I want to go back! Come to think of it, now's a good time for planning trips for next year.

October 10, 2006

Home for the Fiesta

As I have mentioned in my previous posts, I went home to Iligan for the weekend. It’s been 21 years since I last spent fiesta there. That was way back in Grade 6 then. Both my kuya and I went on to study in Manila for secondary schooling on a science scholarship. Afterwards, studies and work have kept us from visiting on a fiesta. We did not have the resources to travel around in mid-year back then. So, it was with much good fortune that AirPhil offered a peso promo fare. What usually costs around 6,500 pesos round trip was pegged at 1,900 already. Of course, I immediately seized on the opportunity, now who wouldn’t?

Despite typhoon Milenyo’s lashing the previous day, I woke up very early on Friday to get to the airport on time, anticipating that some traffic might somehow build up somewhere along the way. Surprisingly, only a handful of vehicles took to the road at this time. Thus, I was at the centennial airport by six o’clock.

After the ceremonious ID checking, x-raying and removing of shoes, at last I was inside. I turned to ask assistance about the check-in counter of my destination and I was directed to the monitor. There was no CGY in that long list so I somehow assumed checking-in has not started yet. I walked around for about 30 minutes then finally settled on a nearby seat. By seven o-clock, there was still no sign of any check-in counter being opened for the Cagayan de Oro flight. The monitor also still has not indicated CGY yet.

I then decided to approach the Supervisor counter and inquired on my flight, to which I got the brief response of “Counter 33 po”. What the ____?! There was already a long queu there. I was certain no announcement had been made, else, I’d have heard it. So, this was how it worked at Centennial Airport. Do not ever rely on the monitor or the PA system, I tell you. Ask.

By this time, there were two lines formed at Counters 33 and 34. About 5 minutes on the line, I felt someone tap me on my shoulder. I turned around and discovered an old friend, Gugong, from College. He too was going to Cagayan de Oro. He was supposed to take the Thursday flight. But due to the typhoon, flights have been cancelled so he had to re-book for Friday. We talked for aw while then had to part when the line started moving. Our line at Counter 33 had to merge with Counter 34, so you can imagine what a pretty long line that was.

We had a 30-minute delay. Other than that, the flight went on without a hitch. I was met at the airport by my Mom and Dad. We immediately rushed back home as there will be several relatives coming. When we arrived, everyone had already had lunch. After talking to the guests, I proceeded to have my lunch. My Aunty Marites just waited for me to gulp down some chow and off we went to my Lolo Bebing’s. He just had a gallbladder operation the day before and was still weak. But nevertheless, was able to get up and talk to guests.

It was a good time to get together with relatives from my mother’s side. The oldies talked of years past. And I had but few snippets to join in on the reminiscing. At about which time, the boyfriend of my younger cousin, Janice, arrived and came to sit at our table. Everyone was teasing them that they have to wait up for the long line of still single Yañez gals, before they can tie the knot. Bah! I said, that might never be… There’s about 3 of us older than Janice there. Aunty Marites is ahead of the line, then Ate Ching-Ching, and then there’s me- bwahaha… It must be true, how my niece is calling me old maid. I swore, I’m gonna give her a different impression of what an old maid is like. And what a challenge that’s gonna be. Oh well, it’s just maybe a matter of shifting paradigms.

There was more singing and karaoke that night. I was left the last one standing.. or rather singing… With most of the neighbors already deep in slumber, off I went to dreamland, too.

Saturday after fiesta is always a good day to go swimming. So off to Timoga we went. Timoga is a mountain spring known for its pristine waters. This cold crystal clear water is freely flowing down the mountain and pools have been built along its many facades so that people can enjoy its coolness. We went to the highest peak (16-ft deep pool). It’s quite a tiring walk up but it sure is worth the effort. The free-flowing waters are very clean. “,)

Sunday came and I had to say bye-bye once again to Saint Michael as I had to fly back to Manila and it’s back to work again on Monday.

October 04, 2006

Belly Talk #1

Good nutrition is the foundation to a healthful life. Team it up with exercise and a healthy lifestyle, and you’re good to go. Remember, take care of your body. Treat it as you would your favorite car or home/office equipment – with regular maintenance and proper care. Tune up your body every once in a while. Believe me, it’s the only one that stays with us the whole of our life.

The Prize of Nobelity

I posted a blog on my yahoo360 site about this. Andrew Fire and Craig Mello received the 2006 Nobel award for medicine or physiology for having found a mechanism of gene silencing thru what is now more popularly known as RNA interference. This has opened up an avenue of medical possibilities. Just imagine if one is able to manipulate gene activity which might in some way pave the way to inhibiting genetic processes which may in fact be the route of acquiring disease infections? For a while now, studies conducted using RNA interference have looked at how genes function and how they may be used as a defense mechanism against viral infections.

Discoveries like this certainly ups our hopes of one day seeing answers to long-held medical bafflements. RNA interference -- Could this be the answer to our battle with diseases like cancer, viral hepatitis and AIDS? With biotechnologists putting their bet on it, let us certainly hope so.

Last year at about this same time, my College roommate Pia, who studied and worked at MIT, jubilantly announced to us that her advisor/professor was one among the three 2006 Nobel laureates in chemistry. Also, at about this same time last year, another friend called to let me know her papa died. Yesterday was her papa’s first death anniversary. Glo, your papa made certain he'd be thought of today. My prayers go with you and your family.

Hurrah to all thee who endeavor to make this world a better place. There’s no greater honor than seeing one’s efforts pay off and contributing to the betterment of humanity. All successes come with struggling , and maybe a little, nay, a lot of failing along the way. For one who has wrought destruction via the dynamite, Alfred Nobel realized that lifelong efforts are more meaningful when these are made to serve the human race. Thus, the Nobel Prizes came to be.

And I think personally, one does not necessarily need to win a
Nobel prize to serve humanity. In our own simple ways we can be good models by giving value to life and by honoring and uplifting our fellowmen. When our time comes to leave this earth, wouldn’t it be nice to know deep inside that you’ve made a difference in other people’s lives? Now, that’s noble!

October 02, 2006

Milenyo Tidbit

Talk about the lashing we got from the recent typhoon...

I was so sad to learn of friend Glo's experience with Milenyo. All the while that I was in the comfort or should I say security of our company premises where I am staying, she was left stranded in Sorsogon on her way back to Gubat. The time that I was seething and trying to control my temper at the airport's inefficiency (delayed flight again!!), she was busy cleaning up her home and drying out everything that got wet (which was pretty much everything, actually). Fortunately, no damage was wrought on lives, just property. But still, damage is still damage. It'll take days to recover and get things back to normal again.

I was already replete from all the eating at home and at my relatives who I visited when I got her text message asking for assistance in corresponding with her problogging contacts. Lines were up and readily accessible, good that Mindanao was not affected by the typhoon. It would have been so bad also to have a wet fiesta celebration.

In The Aftermath

Typhoon Milenyo left the country’s southern Luzon region in deep quagmire. It was really all so unexpected. The papers and the TV coverage have been constantly updating us of news about the devastation wrought by this silent creep.

My roommate was already heating up the water for her bath on that ill-fated Thursday morning. At 5:30, I was awakened by the beep of my phone. My boss (Ms LV) has sent a text message that work has been cancelled for the day. I went to knock on the next room where my other colleague was also getting ready for work. I sent back a message to Ms LV that I have already cascaded her message. To which she replied that we first make sure that no deliveries are pending. Oh well, “might as well change”, they said. Vans have already queued up at the gate the night before for that day’s delivery. There were three of us at the laboratory that morning. Our carton supplier came to visit to talk about aligning GC evaluation tests for the materials they are supplying to us. Whew! We were amazed they came despite the torrential downpour. They waited out the heavy rains and left just before the second lashing came.

It was so disconcerting listening to the wind first whistle then growl outside and watching the rains pummel our walls as trees gave out and GI sheets were whipped around like weightless paper. The roads were strewn with a lot of litter and tree branches. Power went on and off until our Engineering staff finally decided to suspend the genset support. We went outside as the rains began to settle.

There's a tree that fell right in front of our lab.

No wonder we had interrupted power. The roof to our power plant was torn open a quarter of a way in and there was one rolling door slashed open. But they immediately attended to it to give us power by mid-afternoon. Power is important since our water supply also depended on it.

We began walking back to the staffhouse by 12:30 and ran almost half of the way as the rains started pouring in again. Good that we had a stock of food enough for a group of ten (yes, we are one big happy family there). But first, the staffhouse had to be cleaned up first. Water has reached ankle deep inside at the first floor. The rains whipping up against the walls upstairs (where us staff are staying) have slowly found their way down, dripping through the open banisters and stairs.

Two of us (Q of the Barbie-Q duo... peace Kwin!) busied ourselves in the kitchen with luncheon preparation while the rest of the group swept/ mopped/ and cleaned up the floors. Everyone was so hungry by the time we finished. Then we all had our fill of the meager fried dried pusit and luncheon meat and cream crab and corn soup afterwards washed with ice-cold Coke.

We were fortunate to have power inside our company compound. But since the cable lines were down, we could not even watch TV. There was no internet because the phone lines were out, too. Cellular phones were our only link outside. We heard there were many areas inundated by the floods. Later did I realize the extent of the damage outside.

I had to leave early the next day (Sep. 29, Friday) for an early flight home to Iligan as it is our fiesta there. I was saddened by what I saw along the way. There were a lot of uprooted trees as I passed the South Luzon Expressway. There were billboards toppled over. And to think that the eye of the storm was not in our area yet. I wondered what could be the plight of those hardest hit by Milenyo?

photos courtesy of Reuters and Russian Pravda News

Now, several days after the typhoon, the death toll has risen from the floods and landslides and accidents caused by being hit by falling debris or getting electrocuted. Yes, one may read more into this situation politically and ecologically or environmentally, but I think the first task at hand is getting things back in order. I know for a fact that things may not all get back to how they were before. A lot of lives have been lost. A lot of damage have been made on crops and livelihood. Several infrastructures have been ruined. It may not be too much to ask that political rivalry and differences be set aside for the meantime and let us join hands in helping out. And now, as our lives are slowly going back to normal, I ask that we pray for those of our countrymen who have been left in desolation and try to help in any small way we can.

September 27, 2006

Blogger Blooper

Omigosh! I just got notification from blogger beta that I have successfully transferred my files and may now access the new site. So here I go, clicking on the link and voila! what do i see? A number of comments need to be moderated read boldly in front of me. Had I not shifted to beta I would not have realized about this thing called comments moderation. I obviously know neither heads nor tails about the options I selected in the blog tabs when I started out blogging. Whew! I'm quite the newbie huh?

So for those who have not seen their commenst published, I sincerely apologize for my lapse, er, ignorance.

September 26, 2006

Opportunity... Or Not

Received a text message from friend Glo yesterday saying she's already in Manila and just killing time before the BlogCon at G4 starts. And what better place to be than at an internet cafe, huh? Hey Glo, I'll be waiting for your post about last night.

Anyway, I'm back at the lab and just surfing through the net before my boss comes in. Hmm, left the lab last night with a question hanging over my head... talk about Damocles...
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You see, our company is offering a leadership development training to the manufacturing staff. And with our training team having this thing about being into whatever is the IN thing for the moment, yesterday was our First Day High. Trainings always start with the latest dance moves or games or reality show gimmick from their favorite local TV channel. Can't relate? ABS-CBN is airing a reality TV show on Pinoy Dream Academy while First Day High is a recently shown movie. Anyway, the whole plant seems to be a-buzzing with this learning academy fever and they're all just a-wanting to infect everyone with that much-needed projection of a highly contagious enthusiasm for this company schooling thingy. Everyone on shift was there. Everyone, that is, except me. So, what can you expect? It didn't take like 10 minutes after the program started when my desk-side phone started ringing. My boss called to ask why I didn't attend. After a few minutes of explaining, came the change in tone to a half note lower and the inevitable just had to happen. "Usap tayo mamaya." (Let's talk later.)

The later came a real bit late. I was on my way out at 5pm when she called me to talk about what happened that morning. Wow, she made it sound like it was such a big thing and there I was completely forgetting like it was already eons ago. "It was no big deal", I said. So why did I not go, she asked. "Was I not interested?", she added. "Is it okay if I did not join?", I asked. "Of course, I can't force you. But we have to talk about the why," she pushed.

Fair enough. The woman has a point. This kind of training does not happen very often. And there's no plan of it being repeated in the future. It's a leadership training program slated for the next three years (wow, long , huh?), covering most of the managerial skills (technical/behavioral/emotional) needed to equip future bosses. With the company rapidly expanding and most of top management haggling their time and attention between two departmental posts, it's high time to ready the second-level management staff for the succession planning.

So why do I not want this? It's almost a dream come true. Other staff members are even wanting to be in on it but they have not been chosen. Call it apathy. Call it indifference. Call it whatever you want. I'm way past caring. I distinctly recall a time when talks of such would cause a glimmer in my eye in anticipation. Now, the magic's gone. Yes, it's now only just a nice-to-have. But I do not see myself happily diving into it. It's a once-only-offered chance, I know. And my boss says there's a big take-out from this training.

Well, maybe my head's gone unsrewed coz I still can't see the total equation. I'm no opportunist, that I know much of myself. And I have long decided not to entrust my career pathing to the company. I'll work on it myself. The 'big boss' had once said not to demand that. So far thus this I know: that it wouldn't be fair.. for me to expect more from the company and for the company to expect more from me.

I can still hear her voice ringing: "It is a privilege that not everyone else gets to have." Let me see... a random act of kindness?, or might I say, generosity? Nah... I don't think so.

September 22, 2006


Today I remember my Lolo Francis and youngest brother Tom-Tom. Today is their birthday.

My family lived with my grandparents until I was eight. So basically we kids spent our formative years with my grandparents, uncle and aunts.

I remember my grandpa vividly. We call him Lolo Francis. He would take us out whenever it was payday. We would either go to the park or go see a movie or eat at our favorite Chinese restaurant where me and my kuya(older brother) would order special halo-halo and monggo siopao while Lolo shares with us his Pancit Canton and Pan (Sliced Bread). He would take us to the Christmas Party at his office and we would enjoy the games and go home regaling everyone about the party and showing off our new toys. He was to me the best electrician I know back then (what can I say, he's my grandpa!). Mommy said she was still young when he opened the first radio shop in Iligan and that was quite a feat back then.
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Lolo Francis was so full of good stories. He was funny actually. He never seemed to run out of antics whenever a situation calls for it. When my kuya took a fall from climbing the hollow block wall (which gave while he was on top) in our backyard, my parents scolded him and warned all us kids in the house not to do what he did. He was just super-adventurous. Mommy took kuya to the doctor. When they got home from the clinic, kuya was in a crutch and limping real hard. And to impress upon us the danger of having accidents, lolo walked into the room and did this skit:
Lolo: “Ayo!” (Good day!), “Ayo!”
“Naa si Ivan?” (Is Ivan Home?”)
“Kinsa nga Ivan?” (Ivan who?)
“Si Ivan nga kiang ba…” (Ivan, the cripple)
And he went limping around the house all day, saying, “Do you want to be crippled like this?” We never attempted to climb up high walls or trees without being accompanied by the oldies after that.

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But, he was a disciplinarian. My mom used to tell us that, growing up in the farm, Lolo used to wake them kids as early as 4am to get an early start for the day. The eldest daughter, Auntie Madeilyn was assigned to the kitchen and Mommy was assigned to the house cleaning chores, and they would team up to do the laundry afterwards. All the chores have to be done before the sun is too high up in the sky. Lolo would not want to see them idle, and so would continuously give them things to do. He says these were for character building and discipline, something that Mommy also did with us.

My Lolo died at the age of seventy. He got lonely after Lola Susing died. He acquired many illnesses soon after. I was already studying and away in College when he died. I went home for his funeral. And I was not surprised at the number of people who came to pay their respect. He was a good soul. And he will continue to live in our memories. I sure have plenty of tales to tell my kids about my own Lolo Francis.


I was still so little when Tom-Tom was born. I vaguely recall Mommy being rushed to the nearby hospital the night before. Everyone was busy preparing for Lolo’s birthday. When I woke up the next day, Daddy was already home and getting ready to go to work. I later learned that my mom gave birth early that morning.

The day went by in a blur, as everyone seems to have loads of things to do. It was late afternoon when I heard my aunts buzzing downstairs at the kitchen. Curious to see what was causing all the commotion, I peeped down just in time to see my Mom getting up the stairs with my Auntie behind her carrying a little baby. They just rested in the room, while us kids (my two brothers and cousins, too) took turns silently filing in to the room to take a wee look at the newest member of the gang. We were told not to make much sound as it will just wake the baby up. By nightfall, I saw Dad hurrying home to change so he can take us with him to visit my mom. He still did not know mom was already discharged from hospital. So just imagine his surprise when he opened the door and saw them already home.

That night was truly doubly fun for us all. Lolo Francis and Lola Susing were very happy. Daddy and Mommy were also very happy. My aunts and uncles, lolos and lolas, cousins and brothers, and even visitors joined in the merriment and gaiety upon learning of the double birthday celebration. My mom also said they named the baby after Lolo and my Papa Tomas (Daddy’s only brother). He was named Francis Thomas. And everyone began calling him Tom-Tom.

Then a bombshell was dropped on us. The next day, Tom-Tom was rushed to the hospital. Apparently my mom or Lola noticed that he was cyanotic. He was turning blue, and everyone knows it is not a good sign. The doctor explained he had a hole in his heart. He stayed for two days at the hospital and was placed in an incubator. When he came home, we were all very quiet. I remembered being told that we should not stress the baby. So we just peeked in on him and would silently leave the room.

There were two more episodes of cyanosis and he would be rushed to the hospital again. I do recall my mom crying all the time. She was very sad. I know my dad was sad, too. But since he was working, I could not see him in his melancholy. Mommy was staying at home and I sensed just how sad she was.

They were told that Tom-Tom will not be able to make it. We were living in a small town down in the south where medical facilities and staff were still not that up-to-date. And all we could do was accept that fate. In readiness for Tom-Tom’s demise, Mommy had him baptized right away. Tom-Tom’s godparents were a priest and a nun who Mommy knows from our school.

Tom-Tom died early morning on September 28, 1979. It was biesperas (eve of the town fiesta). Our patron saint in Iligan City is St. Michael, the Archangel. And because nobody wanted to dwell too long on the pain of his passing, he was buried that very afternoon. The fiesta was not a happy one that year. My Mommy was wallowing in grief and Daddy was very quiet and aloof. And we kids did not know if we could laugh and still have fun.

Every Sunday after mass (we usually attend the 9 o’clock mass), we would go directly to the cemetery and put flowers on Tom-Tom’s tomb. Mommy explained to us that Tom-Tom is already an angel and has gone to join God in heaven. All through my life I have always pictured him as a cherubim, silently watching over us… crying with us when we hurt, laughing with us in our joy, praying for us when we’ve fallen, and cheering for us in our every adventure in life.
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It was sometime this year that I was talking to my mom about family stuff and all. Then she suddenly said that she remembered Tom-Tom. She said he was the handsomest of her 3 boys. She saw when he was born that, although he was darker than my two other brothers, he had the most prominent nose and the most gwapo features. I was amazed she remembered. I forwarded an email two months ago of a beautiful and touching story about how a little baby was touched and saved by the Lord. And Daddy emailed back that he suddenly remembered about Tom-Tom and said Tom-Tom would have been 27 years old already this year. Again, I was amazed he remembered.

Tom-Tom had only a week to travel this life but he has blessed us in that short span. Lolo Francis lived to a ripe old age and he has blessed us so much and touched a lot of lives around him. I am still struggling in my own life and I can see that I’ve still got a long way to travel and still have much to learn of life.

"Think of stepping on the shore and finding it heaven, of touching a hand and finding it God's, of breathing new air and finding it celestial, of waking up in glory and finding it home." - Don Wyrtzen

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September 12, 2006

More Revelations

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I slept over at friend A’s house the other day. I had been emailing her several times in the past to inform me should she ever be in from Bicolandia, but had not gotten any response from her. Finally, I got a text while at work asking if I can come over that night. Turns out, she read a very recent (not yet deleted) email I sent her (thankfully) asking for some chika time with her. (My, my… could it be?.. the way batchmates Mara and Pabs call me Queen of Chika?..hmm..) Truth is, I really just wanted to know how she’s getting along. Heard some news, you see… But this isn’t the time or place.. I’m no tell-tale, beh!

And so, after packing a few needed items for an overnight, off I went.. in true lakwatsera fashion… hair tied up in a knot, backpack in hand, whistling an out-of-tune version of Hotel California as I settled on the empty seat of the jeepney, and mindlessly brushing away a tiny speck of brown from the spotless white of my blouse. But wait… oh sh_t! I have not changed my uniform! This spotless blouse would well soon be – what was it those kids call it in the toothpaste commercial? – ecrue, grey, off-white… haay!!!!

I arrived early and so decided to pop in at neighboring friend J’s house. But alas, the house was oh so dark when I got there. Nobody was at home. To pass the time while waiting for A to arrive, I squatted on an empty chair at the corner where a middle-aged lady was furiously fanning out embers in her make-shift streetfood stand. Already starting to get hungry, I ordered a stick of isaw (grilled chicken intestine), made sure it was cooked through, dipped it in spicy vinegar and began my nibbling. It tasted good. So I ordered one more, then another, and still another. (Whew! It sure was a hepa trip.) Lookie, lookie here...
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Feeling certain she was already home, I left the barbecue stand smelling like I was the one that got barbecued. The night was spent doing what else but chika. And that would mean keeping in touch through tears, rants and revelations more. We slept so late that it was so hard to open my eyes a few hours later. After saying goodbye by the jeepney loading area across the terminal where A rode her bus to work, I too readied my mind for another day’s grind.

Halfway to the plant, I noticed my co-worker who was also in the jeep. I went to sit beside her and tried to make small talk while the driver steered our way through several traffic we found ourselves in. Co-worker M paid her fare when we were already near the Balibago complex and started relating why she doesn’t immediately pay the moment she gets on a jeep. She makes sure she has not yet paid so that whenever the notorious gang of cellphone snatchers would happen to get on the jeep she is riding, she can readily get down soon after without having to pay a second time on the next jeep she rides in.

She further relates it’s usually several men who spread out inside the jeep, making damn sure to squeeze themselves so tightly in between already seated passengers. These guys, she says, are so good at stealing cellphones and wallets without the people knowing they are being robbed. My co-worker says she has even seen how they do it, right in front of her. She got so scared and got off the jeepney when she saw other ‘knowing’ passengers whispering and hurriedly alighting too. I was however so bothered by her revelation… more than the fact that she does not pay almost ¾ of the way already should she encounter such happenstance again! By golly, if this indeed has really been going on, why aren’t the people doing anything? Rumor has it, says my co-worker, that these guys have some connection with the police in the area. The gang has been going in and out of jail. And have for some time now been plying the route of Olivares-Platero Hiway in Biñan.
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Pity on those who have been victimized by this gang. City councilors, kagawads, hey where have you been while all this was going on?

September 11, 2006


A Story of Friendship

Two women had shared a very special friendship for many decades. They have always taken time to know how the other is doing. They have kept in touch through the years. These days, however, their activities have been limited to meeting a few times a week to play cards.
One day, one of them looked at the other and said, "Now don't get mad at me ... I know we've been friends for a long time ... but I just can't think of your name! I've thought and thought, but I can't remember it. Please tell me what your name is."
Her friend glared at her. For at least three minutes she just stared and glared at her. Finally she said, "How soon do you need to know?"
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Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts. And we are never, ever the same.—Anonymous

I love stories of friendship, especially ones that tell of strong enduring bonds. That’s why I’ve told myself time and again that I’ll never break ties with good friends.

September 07, 2006

Of Scents and Sensibilities

Funny how my sense of smell moves me. Scents always have this uncanny way of stirring up memories in my head. Today I chanced upon a wooden-carved fan that I own and which smelled of sandalwood.
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Suddenly, my memories took me back to younger days.

I remember when I was a child, I used to trudge along with my maternal grandmother on her trips across the country. Lola Susing, as we fondly called her, was a viajera, a comprador. She would go to the far end of Zamboanga to buy all kinds of wares that there was to sell: clothes, shampoo, toothpaste (are you familiar with Maxam?), tsinelas, make-up, bed sheets, linen and more. I vaguely recall soaps and scents of rose and sandalwood. Zamboanga, then (and even until now I hear), was the entry port of several goods into the country- some were legit, some just smuggled in.
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I guess Maxam has been replaced by some other brands now. And many more items have slowly found their way into the country this way- automobiles, motorbikes or what-have-you's..

My enterprising grandma would then do the rounds of Mindanao and the Visayan shores, peddling her wares and earning a small profit in the offing. As you can see, this aimless wanderer had a fairly early start with the travelling thingy. It's a little disconcerting to realize however that the trade and barter skills didn't quite rub off on me.

With Lola Susing, it was never the money that made her do what she did, I guess. Sure, her earnings helped augment my Lolo Francis' salary to feed a family of five...families.. ( you see, they've got grown-up kids who's got growing kids, too). Uhm, and that would be us. We grandkids would get a new blouse or new shorts or new tsinelas every now and then. But she never got rich. Not the got-millions-in-the-bank kinda rich, I mean. But we sure had a comfortable and sensible life. We grew up being taught the motto of leading a simple yet sensible life.

But in all my trips and adventures accompanying her on her jaunts, I saw her become alive when she was doing her haggling and selling. There was a certain glint in her eyes whenever she made 'the sale'. And I think it was the thrill of interacting with different people, some of them complete strangers, and then being able to convince them to buy that really made her day. She was good with people. She would even give good bargains, too. "A sensible buy, a sensible buy", she would say.

So, in celebration of grandparents day on Sunday, I write in remembrance of my granny.
Lola Susing,Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting she sure made life a little bit sweeter every time.

September 06, 2006

Reuniting with Mister God

“What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died? That she was beautiful and brilliant? That she loved Mozart and Bach, the Beatles, and me?” (Erich Segal’s Love Story)

Why do good stories always stay with us? Most good stories I’ve come across don’t have happy endings but they stay. They stay because they leave imprints in the mind and in the heart. Such is this story which begins: "The diffrense from a person and an angel is easy. Most of an angel is in the inside and most of a person is on the outside."

I still remember the time I first read it. I was in fifth grade and our class was lucky to have an amazing woman as our homeroom adviser: Mrs. MJ – feisty, pretty, astute Maam MJ. She was new to the school. But she captivated us and we took to her like fishes to water. She was one of the ‘radically wonderful’ influences of my young life.

Having noticed that I was a voracious pocketbook reader, Mrs. MJ called me to her one Friday, after homeroom, and handed me a thin little book. It was written by a certain Fynn. She told me it was a book worth reading and that I should read it. I took her word for it. I borrowed it for the weekend and couldn’t put the book down until my mom called me in for lunch and dinner. It was the story of a five-year old girl called Anna and her straight-from-the-heart matter-of-fact view at life, and learning math, science and philosophy with Fynn’s help. It tells of this girl’s simple yet direct answers to mostly adult’s ponderings and ruminations on age-old questions about the universe. Most of all, it tells of Anna’s personal and intimate relationship with Mister God.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV) Anna sure had faith. But she never made eight years, she died by an accident. "She died with a grin on her beautiful face. She died saying, 'I bet Mister God lets me into heaven for this', and I bet he did too.” I bet Mister God measured one’s worth into His Kingdom by one’s faith and by no other means.

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Twenty-two years since then, I chanced upon Mister God, This Is Anna once again. This time, in the Inspirational Books Section of an almost empty little bookshop where too few customers venture into. I snapped up the book, happily sat down on a little corner and was soon contentedly immersed in the world of Fynn and Anna.

When I look back to my childhood, I can easily say I was far from being like Anna was. Firstly, I was the timid silent type growing up. Plus I did not have any level of confidence to start with. I would not be able to confidently engage in philosophical dialectics with adults the way she did. But then of course, that is not to say that my seemingly quiet and timid projection belie a certain precocity that only my parents could understand back then.

I’d say I had a pretty firm foundation for my faith. I grew up believing in the tenets of Christianity that I imbibed from school, from church and from my family. I’m proud to say I consistently received an award on Best in Christian Living every end of school year all through elementary. I was a member of Student Catholic Action in high school. But College was a different story.

College was a voyage of self-discovery. It was a time of asking questions, trying out different things, and then asking more questions. It was a time of discovering so many things about one’s self. Being on my own, it was a time for making my own decisions, and I admit not all of them were good ones.

My life’s journey has not been smooth sailing. I know I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way. So many times have I fallen down. But I have learned to pick myself up every time, too. And it was during those times that I have gotten to know Mister God more intimately and on a deeper, more personal level. I continue to make mistakes for I am, after all, still a work in progress. And I look forward to so many more changes and character-molding challenges ahead. I bend willingly in the Artist’s hand so I can fully be as I embark on this journey called life. I am comforted by the fact that I have loving family and friends and Mister God to guide me on my way.

September 05, 2006

on Leadership

"What distinguishes a leader is not primarily skill or technique: it is character and values, with both firmly based on taking whatever time is needed to exercise your freedom to think and seek out what is beneficial to all, not merely convenient for a few."

Yes folks, just heard it from the grapevine... a leadership training program will soon be rolled out for our group here at work. Hmm, makes me think.

August 29, 2006

Googling Gogglies in Bohol

My friends and I spent two nights in Panglao and headed to Tagbilaran City on the third day so we could visit some more ‘tour-able’ spots. It was a 2-hour drive from Panglao to Chocolate Hills because we had to make a tiny turn in Bingag, Dauis for a peep down Hinagdanan Cave and a handful of shots at Dauis church.

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We slept most of the way and when I opened my eyes I noticed that we were already passing by several of the famous marine rock formations. Scattered around the municipalities of Carmen, Batuan and Sagbayan, are the similarly-shaped 30 to 50-meter high molehill structures called Chocolate Hills.

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The view of the hills on the viewing deck is quite spectacular. I call them choco-mint hills.. as they’re quite green-brown in color actually. Their marine stone base makes it quite difficult for trees to grow on top, although there are still some small trees that manage to survive. Mostly small and big plants make up their foliage thus their brownish color, especially on hot summer days when the shallow-rooted foliage dry up.

We passed by the Man-made Mahogany Forest on our way to Sevilla Hanging Bridge then headed towards Loboc. After our wonderful one-hour riverboat ride and lunch down the green waters of Loboc, we walked towards the store where tarsiers in captivity are being displayed to tourists.

I’ve been googling this tiny goggly wonder for several minutes while a young couple took turns getting photographed with it.

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My two friends meanwhile were taking pictures of the rangy others clinging to the San Francisco plants. I, too, managed to photograph them cling-ons…

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And here’s me with the little furball wonder.
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If you look at them intently, you’ll notice that they have frog-like legs, sticky gecko-like fingers, bat-like ears and owl-like eyes. Ohh, their eyes are so astounding.. you won’t miss them. Hahaha… Actually their huge chestnut eyes cannot move. Like an owl, the tarsier has a joint between its skull base and spine to allow 180 degree head movement. And when I held one, I noticed that its tail was so much like that of a rat. But it was so adorable while I held it. It felt so cuddly, I almost placed it inside my bag to take back home with me. And even when we were already on the way back to the city, I still wanted one so much. Oh if I could only keep one. But they are said not to live long in captivity as these tiny critters are very susceptible to stress (noise, pollution, etc.)... and knowing me.. I’m not really the caring pet lover kind so all the better for little Tarsy.

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And then I learned that the Philippine tarsier is in the Red List of endangered species. Of course, I had to learn more about them. So here’s added info for those of you who are planning to visit the tarsiers of Bohol one day. There are now 7 formally-recognized species of tarsiers. The one here in the Philippines is of the Tarsius syrichta type, uniquely found only in the central Philippines like Bohol, Samar, Leyte and somewhere in Mindanao. They are so named due to their special elongated tarsal bones. The padded tips of their digits, their elongated hindlimbs and tail let them adapt well to an arboreal lifestyle. Their long, thin, tufted tail actually serves as a balancer and prop. Tarsiers are nocturnal in nature. But those kept in captivity, like the ones we visited, have already adapted to a diurnal life due to being constantly awakened by the owners to be petted by visitors (like me). But a sanctuary is being built in Corella Bohol where they are kept in their natural habitat. As my way of helping that tarsiers don’t eventually die off this planet, I just donated to the owners. These animals are insect eaters. They say donations go towards buying their food. (I hope!) Hopefully, too, this little blog of mine will help spread the word about not buying tarsiers and keeping them as pet. See, I’ve learned. Let us allow them to grow and live naturally, and let them multiply their numbers.

Did you know?
  • A tarsier often makes contact by seizing its mate's tail. The Philippine tarsier may sit with their tails intertwined.
  • A tarsier's life span is about 13 years.
  • Although they live in areas where snakes are common, snakes are rarely killed by them. A snake detects its prey by snesing body heat, and it is thought that a tarsier decreases its body temperature while sleeping, a time when it is most at risk.

To learn more about tarsier the following links may be helpful:

Primate Factsheets:
BundokPhilippines: Tarsier Org:

August 28, 2006

Bohol lakwatsa

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Thank goodness for long weekends! Because of the Ninoy Aquino holiday, I was able to go out on a travelling romp down in the island of Bohol. Went there with my two friends, teret and vivsky. They've been planning to get out of their office and only finally managed to do so now after two years since their trip to Camiguin. After some other pals backed out, i readily consented to go when teret called me up to ask if I can come with them.
Wow, we were all pretty excited about the trip especially since it is the first time for us to go there. And luckily, the people speak Bisaya, my native tongue. We felt confident we will not get lost since i can talk the language. We had a wonderful time. The days were lazily spent idling around in the beach, eating out and just lazing under the sun by day and gazing at the stars by night while playing a game of "Paramihan ng ...."
Check out these pictures:
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August 25, 2006

Travelling Soul

After several weeks of hesitation, finally i found the courage to write online. Thanks to my friends (Glo, Q, Ruth) who have served as inspiration. This is something that i've been wanting to do for so long but just haven't had the time for. Now I've resolved to put aside several moments each week to publish some of my thoughts.

As I'm new to this, my postings may be quite irregularly paced. Please bear with me as I'm still an amateur at blogging. ",)

Anyway, I hope that I will be able to share some insights from my travels and experiences. As my blogname suggests, this site will be about the sojourns of a Filipina as she treads this earth. Obviously a wanderlust, this Pinay thrives on nature jaunts and mini-vacations. Hence, blogs will mostly be based on the wanderings of this Pinay's travelling soles.