Sunday, May 31, 2009


Bruno And Eminem Get Intimate - MTV Movie Awards
Uploaded by TheDlisted - Watch feature films and entire TV shows.

Poor Eminem, he never saw it coming. I saw this hilarious video posted on which shows a fellow named Bruno falling on Eminem's face. Whoever orchestrated the whole thing was genius! Thanks Michael K for giving us a heads up :-)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

She Dreamed a Dream

It's the end of the road for Susan Boyle in Britain's Got Talent, the show that turned her into an overnight sensation worldwide (thanks also to the technological wonders of YouTube). I think I know why we love her so much- beneath the homely exterior she had authentic talent and great personality. She does not fit the cookie-cutter image of a modern day singing sensation (i.e. gorgeous face, cleavage, stick thin figure, and of course- youth), but we all secretly root for the underdog. Even though the immense pressure got to her the final week of the competition, I don't think her singing career will end here- who knows, this might even be just a beginning.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Backward Barrios, Flyover States, and HUC

Fresh from a stay in a remote barangay in Alang-alang, Leyte for the recent six-day Community Immersion, I could not avoid making a comparison between the simple life of Brgy. Dapdap residents and the fast-paced life in a constantly growing city like Tacloban. While one might loathe the feeling of obscurity (at least from a city dweller's point of view) living in towns far from urban jungles, one could also wonder if the comforts of a mall or other big establishments necessarily spell a better life.

This reminded me of a certain Urban Planning class I once attended, when the topic veered on urban and rural settlements, and I first encountered the term "flyover states". Apparently, when one travels in the US to and from mega cities like Los Angeles and New York, the airplane flies over less urbanized (and less popular) places such as Wyoming and Nebraska. Whoever coined the term must have thought that apart from the populous centers of the East and West Coast, other cities were considered obscure. But a certain phenomenon, with the very same forces that became catalyst to the creation of mega cities, promises an eventual transformation of their lesser counterparts- and that event is called urbanization.

Whether the reason is to reduce time and cost of transportation, or look for job opportunities or education, or even seek modern health services, more and more people flock to the ever-expanding urban centers. Growth is therefore inevitable in these financial hubs, where more specialized goods and services are available.

Urbanization is nothing new even to developing countries such as the Philippines. Locally, there exists a classification of cities which tells more or less how urbanized or populous it is: Component Cities (which basically do not meet the requirements for a Highly Urbanized City, and remain a component of a specific province), Independent Component Cities (which are independent of the province), and Highly Urbanized Cities (per Republic Act 7160, it must have at least 200,000 inhabitants with the latest income of at least 50 million pesos annually). As of December 18, 2008, the results were in for the plebiscite and Tacloban officially joined the ranks of Highly Urbanized Cities in the Philippines- but only after much debate and clamor between pro and anti-HUC.

While much of the uproar about the HUC conversion of Tacloban has died down, a question still remains as to whether or not the change was beneficial for ordinary Taclobanons. Looking at it closer, and from a pragmatic perspective, we need to see how the conversion affected the city's constituents- and by that I mean not only the affluent business people or politicians, but more importantly the local folk including street vendors,tricycle and jeepney drivers, and squatters.

The pros of the HUC reclassification certainly looked good on paper: the new status will boost the confidence of investors- which will mean more businesses in Tacloban, employment generation, a share of funds for development, independence of leadership from Leyte Province, and as how politicians such as Mayor Romualdez and Makati Mayor Binay puts it- a more competitive city in general. Five months after the status change may be a little premature to judge if the majority was right on their vote, but a quick interview among the locals pretty much gave a picture as to how the change affected some of them so far.

Mrs.Reyes, a 34 year old fruit vendor from Brgy. Nula-Tula says she was opposed to the status change of Tacloban from the beginning. Now, she complains, her income is limited now that there are certain areas where vendors are prohibited. The city office also required her to secure a permit, and with it, she paid a certain fee. Another thing was that she used to be able to go home with only one jeepney ride, but because of the re-routing, going home now consists of two rides: one going to the terminal, and finally from the terminal to her home. She says that on a daily basis, this takes its toll on an already tight financial situation.

Mr. Fernando, a pedicab driver from Brgy. 77, also complained of a dwindling daily income. The pedicab terminal was moved, and they were restricted only to the minor streets. Traffic cops, he said, are only too eager to give them a ticket at the slightest mistake. (And if the pedicab is impounded, they pay around Php500- so much more than their net daily earnings of Php150.)

Some squatter's area were started to be demolished to give way to new construction- though resettlements for those who lost their homes were promised. Left and right, downtown Tacloban seems to be abuzz with activity- people erecting billboards, setting up new shops, and constructing buildings. A previously unemployed neighbor was now working at a newly opened Gaisano Mall. A new call center started hiring trainees. More traffic cops are now seen on almost every street corner.

Perhaps Tacloban's joining the ranks of metropolitan cities like Cebu and Iloilo was inevitable, and as far as the effects are concerned- they seem to be both a mix of good and bad. Whether it would be positive in the long run for the majority, only time will tell. We can only hope that this kind of progress bridge the gap between the rich and the poor, rather than further widening it , like what is evident in most metropolitan areas (perfectly illustrated by a fancy building right next to a slum area). One thing is for sure- life in Tacloban is bound to get a lot more complex and a little more fast-paced in the days to come.
Photo Source: Taclobanon photographer Gerry Ruiz

Pintados-Kasadyaan: The Festival of Festivals!

As June approaches, the preparations for the grandest festival of Eastern Visayas, along with the Tacloban City Fiesta on the 29th reaches a fever pitch. This year promises month-long celebration, with the highlight being a day of street dancing and presentation at the Grandstand for each town's festival and nights of non-stop partying (and lots of food!). Abuyog's Buyugan Festival (also the Sinulog and Aliwan Festival's champions) would be something to watch out for. Viva Senor Sto. Nino!!!
Click on the photo for previous year's Pintados-Kasadyaan blog entries.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Compromising Positions

Last night as we walked home from a very late meeting for the publication, two friends (both NBSB, I think) asked me: is it great being in a relationship? I stopped walking for a bit, and thought carefully of my answer. The glow of the streetlights and the noise of the vehicles on the street seemed to soften a little bit.

"To start with, I think majority of us have a misconception of what love really is between two people."

This put their mouths agape, forming a big "O".

It was true- or at least for me. My model of "true love" was the bond between my parents. As the eldest son, I can say I've really seen them at their best and worst, since the time I was little, until my siblings and I grew up. When I was about four or five, they were the picture of two people completely in love- yes, the kind you see in movies: affectionate, giddy, and completely head-over-heels.

Happily ever afters however, almost never happens in real life. Instead, people deal with the realities of raising their children, paying the mortgage, sending kids to school, working on their retirements... Love's mettle is tested with hardships and adversities and sometimes, it does not endure.

During the time my parent's marriage troubles started- jealousy, money problems, parenting issues- I was worried if their bond would survive considering that they would be migrating to the States, on their own and away from the rest of our relatives. The harsh environment and their distance from us took its toll, and the differences in their personalities caused a rift that was becoming more apparent.

My father is the pragmatic type of person who values practicality more than anything else, my mother, the romanticist, constantly opposed his decisions with reasons that he found unacceptable. The power struggle finally ended with their separation.

I cried a river over this, because for me it was proof that sometimes mere affections or romantic feelings may not be enough to sustain a relationship. That even after 27 years of marriage and three kids, a couple could still give up on their love.

So I brought them back to my point: "A relationship requires more than that weak-in-the-knees feeling for that other person, because after sometime that frizzles away."

I'm an amateur when it comes to love, and for the first time, I am in a relationship that lasted more than a year and requires a whole lot of work to constantly adjust and compromise with what he wants out of the relationship and what I want out of it. To quote a line from the TV show Ally McBeal, "...perhaps because love is about learning to compromise, that's why we find ourselves in compromising positions." But as long as we keep striving, even if it proves difficult to make changes for one another, the relationship will endure.

Learning to give and yield, finding someone who can stand you and your quirks, but also having someone to hold your hand at the funeral of a loved one or someone you can tell your troubles to, even when he says "I told you so"- I say yes, it's hard work and it's no fairy tale, but it is great to be in a relationship.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Leyte and Samar's Best Kept Secrets

Cuatro Islas, Inopacan, Leyte

Balantak Falls, Basey, Samar
Click on the Landscape photos to see the album; stories to follow later ;-)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Back in the days when I was anorexic, Carol had long hair, and Mitchiko- well, she's always been pretty. Hmph!

This pic is what my former officemate use to taunt me now that I'm no longer 90lbs haha! 2003 flashbacks with friends who cruely uploaded these pics to Facebook. Click to enlarge, is that the same guy on the header?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Have Pen, Will Travel

The thing I love most about wayfaring is getting to see yourself in a completely different environment. Every sight seems interesting, every turn unexpected, even the people you meet exude an aura of mystery about them. And who knew I had the guts to go spelunking, or diving in a thermal lake, or that, on the rough road to Sulangan, a cove opens to reveal the most breathtaking view of the Pacific?

The experience itself is fleeting, and maybe that’s what gives it its appeal to me. After all, we cannot have two “first times”, and that warrants us to live the first experience like there’s no tomorrow. No sight is as particularly unforgettable as the first time you set eyes on it, and in the same manner, no visit as bittersweet as your last. Anything in between resembles nothing more than mere routine.

So this leaves me in constant search for new places, and new chances to be happy. Coincidentally, it is also only in the inconstancy of life do I find myself inspirited to scribble. Inasmuch as life is a process of learning and about new discoveries, I eagerly await, with pen in hand, to chronicle adventures in unexpected places I find myself in, in months and years to come.

Monday, May 4, 2009


We were forbidden to bring our refrigerator-sized suitcases to our summer Community Exposure, which meant provisions to be brought were down to the bare essentials. When I first caught sight of our dilapidated classroom which would turn into twenty nine student’s living quarters, I was beyond reprieve. Numbly, I sat on the Manila paper and flat sheet laid on top of the cement floor, which was to be my “bed” for the next six days. My entire first day was spent grumbling inside with a smile on the outside, silently cursing, in alternating manner, the heat, the stale air, the mosquitoes and files, and the fact that there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.

By the time the first night passed, I woke up drenched in sweat with my bones aching from the cement floor. And, as if to cap a perfect morning, I first did number two on a toilet with no indoor plumbing. That was the start of it. The rest of the day was spent eating half-cooked rice, walking in black rubber boots in Schisto-infested rice fields, and interviewing people under the blistering sun.

One day, I interviewed an old woman (or what appeared to be an old woman, since she looked weathered beyond her 53 years), which I think caused an abrupt 180 on my perspective. Her hut was about a size smaller than our living room at home, and was a kilometer’s walk on a muddy dirt road from the highway. She lived alone, and worked on the rice fields nearby. During times of harvest, she’s entitled to a ganta of palay for every ten gantas harvested- that’s her only source of food and income. Other than that, what she eats is from her own backyard garden. If the harvest is not good, then she would settle for kamote or hunger would ensue.

She went only as far as Grade 1, and had to stop when her mother died many years back. Her son, who only studied till Grade 2, also works in a nearby farm to support a family of his own. She’s separated from her husband. As I scrawled clumsily on my COPAR book, I had this lump in my throat that was hard to swallow. Yup, the world had bigger problems than a few mosquito bites, or a few scratches, or a darker complexion.

I gazed at her face. The skin was a dark hue of brown and sagged with lines that gave it an unusual texture. Her eyes glowed with both dignity and despair, as one who had struggles with hard times might show. And her hands were rough and calloused with work.

I thought she was the most beautiful woman I ever saw.

When I was back in Tacloban after the Community Exposure, I never quite saw things the same way. All those obsessions with fashion or hairstyles or skin care seemed too insignificant. I know now there’s more to beauty than a perfection of lines, planes, and textures. Or perfect manners and sophistication. This time, the rose-colored glasses have come off, and the stark reality seems, no less arresting or beautiful.


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