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 YaƱez 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.