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Going back home…

After a month spent at the Uni, it was time for me to go home! I arrived early enough at the Sydney International Airport to check in my bags and roam around. At 12:30pm,I found this big kangaroo doll in one of the souvenir shops, so I decided to buy it, and some pasalubong for the family. Since I needed to be at the gate by 12:50, I thought I had 20 minutes to luxuriously check out the shops. I totally forgot that there was still the security checks for handluggage, and the usual stretch of floor space going to the gate!
True enough, this inexperienced traveler left the shops at 12:45, still relaxed that I had enough time. Especially since the announcement said that my flight was now boarding. Calmly, I queued for the immigration… then there was customs/quarantine counter… and then there was the x-ray machine! By the time I got out of the long line, the announcement board indicated that my flight was on its final call!
Then I started to get worried. But it became worse… The directions …

Finally seeing the university I’m enrolled in

My first reaction was… Whoa! this is huge! 
The University of Sydney is actually smaller than UPLB (the campus in which I studied in since pre-school). I was excited to see how the Sydney Uni campus looked. But I wasn’t prepared for the towering castles and grand buildings that made the school a tourist spot.
On my first few days there, I didn’t tour the campus. So on my first weekend, I started to check out the different buildings and gardens. My favourite building was the Main Quadrangle, which I think hosts the museums and the carillon of the university. It’s Gothic in architecture with so many gargoyles of lions and kangaroos. Then, inside the main quad, I found a huge garden… I felt like I was on set of a Harry Potter movie! Outside the main quad, there’s this big garden that led to Paramatta Road (which merges with the City Road leading to the Sydney central business district). Seeing students wearing graduation robes or high school uniforms further made me think that I was walkin…

… Arriving in Sydney (2006)

The sky was clear and the air was crisp when the plane landed at the Kingsfordsmith International Terminal. This reminded me of my arrival at the Orlando International Airport sans the cold temperature. After a brief queue at the Customs gate, I started looking for the student KCPC had sent to fetch me from the airport. True enough, Dom had a placard with my name on it (because we didn’t know each other). After organising my stuff, we took a cab and went straight to the University of Sydney.
It was a tough day because I was adjusting to the temperature (to which I was complaining about two hours after I’d arrived and the time difference, and the food choices. At the end of the day, Dom helped me lug my stuff to Marion and Patrice's house (Newtown NSW).
Another adventure was beginning to unfold… this is an adventure!

Going to Sydney (2006)…

It was almost surreal… I had everything planned out. Tuesday was the teleconference with my supervisors. I’d plan the week out depending on what happens at that meeting. But roughly, the week looked like my last week harvesting in the farm, then starting the analysis of the samples… in other words, routine stuff.
That was until that fateful teleconference. While discussing further tests, the topic of going to Sydney, New South Wales was tackled. I was ready to hear that I was going there sometime late this year. But I was wrong… the final decision was that I was supposed to be there the following week! In the university, it’s a requirement of enrolment that I got a student visa. In essence, I could fly off and be there anytime I was required. I felt the earth close in on me because I was in shock. This turned into panic because there was so much needed to be done before I left: samples for analysis, the OJT turnover to a new supervisor, last minute experiments, sample preparations, get…

Lunch in Broadway

No, not Broadway, the theatre district in New York, USA. Rather, Broadway Shopping Centre in Sydney. 
This shopping centre was the first one I've visited on this trip. And I kept going back for the ice cream at Royal Copenhagen... Never mind that it's really cold (yes, it's my first winter ever!) and the ice cream was draining my wallet; I wanted ice cream to fight off homesickness. 
On this occasion, I happened to visit the mall with fellow students from Prof. Bob Gilbert's research group and his French post-docs, Marion and Patrice. They also happen to be my hosts on this school visit. While they were traveling in Europe, I was tasked to house-sit (I first met their house before I met them). They also had given very clear instructions not to throw out anything off-odoured from the fridge because these were cheeses. 
I'm still figuring out how to deal with the cold and with my leaky wallet. Obviously, I can't spend for lunch like this everyday... and I can…

A match of rugby at the Sydney Olympic Park

I wanted to see a bit of Sydney on my first ever visit to the country. On my list of things to see was the Sydney Olympic Park, where the 2000 summer games were played. I can't remember if the Philippines ever placed in that one but still, I wanted to see what an Olympic Park looks like.
So I caught a train in Newtown and went to Homebush Bay, which was a few minutes away. When I got to the Olympic Park, I didn't know what I was expecting but I certainly didn't expect it to be seemingly deserted. But then there's the Telstra Stadium.
And I haven't been inside one of these stadiums. I just had to go in and check it out.
My wallet said it can't afford the cost of a guided tour of the stadium. My brain's telling me that I could live on pizza for another week if I have to but I just had to see what's inside. Curiosity got the PhD student, right?



Alas, there was no tour of the stadium, according to the ticket vendor because there was a match. A rugby match.…

"Hindi excuse ang bago kang dating para hindi ka mamasyal."

I knew Sherry Lou, my classmate in Microbiology courses, has emigrated to Australia some time ago. So when I got back to Marion and Patrice's house in Newtown (an Inner West suburb) after school, I contacted her intending to ask about what I could see in Sydney. Since it was my first day in the city, I was fully expecting a quiet night after eight hours of traveling and then school. Also, it was already dark when I got back from school... I didn't want to venture into a new city at night, without a map, without a plan.
However, Sherry Lou said that being new in a city is certainly not an excuse to not see it on my first night. So I just dropped off my school bag and then caught a bus to somewhere in the middle of Sydney, following her instructions. To my surprise, the area where she directed me to meet her and her friend was still bustling with people! 


We went to Circular Quay to see the touristy lay of the land. 
We saw the Sydney Opera House. Unfortunately, I was not able …

visita iglesia 2006

On Maundy Thursday, I found myself, for the first time, without my parents and siblings. So, I went to visit different churches with Daddy’s elder sister, Tita Ising, and her husband, Tito Sibing.
This was a big challenge for me because it’s my first time to drive to the Pasay area on my own. But the good thing is that it’s a holiday, so the roads were less congested than normal. I found it a bit easy to drive to several churches in the Manila area today.
Malate Church.  Found along MH del Pilar St in Malate. With high ceilings, the church was bright and cheerful, almost welcoming to parishioners and pilgrims. It was interesting to watch the kids rehearse for the Passion play on stage. There were lots of stained glass pictures too. Because the parking lot on church grounds was full, I had to keep the car across from the church. We had to make the trip quick because I was parking on a resident’s parking spot! But I was able to take photos.
St. Vincent de Paul Parish. This one is right besid…

A Bullet Runs Through It (Part 2)

This CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode is my favourite so far in the sixth season (my all time fave being Grave Danger).
This episode picked up where the LVPD left off, at a huge crime scene involving a shoot out with drug dealers where a police officer was shot by friendly fire. There were also several other shoot outs near the crime scene, making it really big.
I love this episode because it showed so much raw emotion from the characters. Sofia, the police officer suspected of firing the shot that killed a fellow officer, was at the brink of breaking down but she didn’t have anyone to turn to for help. Sara finally showed seething anger directed at Sofia. Jim Brass was so sympathetic to Sofia because he had been through it before. And as always, Grissom was the image of grace under pressure and logic because he never abandoned the science. I just couldn’t believe that he was so detached even as a hall full of angry people were demanding an explanation about the shooting of a high…

lost in Quezon

After the wedding, it was time to go to the reception. By the time the wedding ended, I made a couple of acquaintances. We went together to the Queen Margarette Hotel for lunch. That’s the hotel I passed along the diversion road before reaching the church. After a delicious and filling lunch, we decided to leave. I decided to go to Sta Cruz first to visit Lola Estay, and since the route via Tayabas and Luisiana is shorter than going all the way back to San Pablo through the busy Maharlika Road.
My new friends told me that that road was more mountainous, but that wasn’t a problem because I’m used to going through the PCARRD-Jamboree road and the road to Cuenca and Alitagtag in Batangas. I just didn’t expect it to be so deserted! The view was spectacular… there were many coconut trees along the side of the road. Some portions of the highway seemed to cut through the forest because there were so many trees whose branches hung over the highway (I had to remove my shades while driving thr…

too fast too furious trip to Quezon

During the last week, I asked around how long a trip to Lucena City, Quezon would take. Everyone answered around four hours by bus from Los Banos. Since I should be in Lucena by 9am, I planned to leave the house at 5am early today… but as it turned out, I was too poofed by the harvest yesterday that I slept in until 5:30! Yikes! My companions for this trip backed out Thursday afternoon, so I went to Lucena alone.
I finally left the house at 6:30am, and was worried about possible traffic congestion in the Pansol area since it was Saturday. Thankfully, I left early enough, and the drive was smooth all the way to San Pablo (I got there an hour later! This is nothing short of a miracle). That’s where the traffic began to slow down. The San Pablo section of the Maharlika Highway was a bit crowded by trucks coming in from the Alaminos area, so I was forced to go a bit slower.
But once I got past that part, I picked up speed until I was running at around 80kph (driving to the beat of Chillo…

planting season is over!

Today marks the end of my first attempt at planting rice. And through this exercise, I’ve realised that my mom and my dad’s lectures were true: we shouldn’t waste rice because farmers spent blood and sweat to get every grain onto the table. Well, it’s literal for me: I got cut while harvesting, and I had to work in summer conditions (I had to drink lots of water to avoid heat stroke).
The saga began late in December last year, just before the Christmas holidays. I had no idea how to start this project, so I enlisted the help of Kuya Jun and Kuya Ferdie (two of the technicians in the lab). I was really worried because I did not even know anything about rice production, or even about the population I was prepping. All I knew was the samples were sensitive to hot temperature (perfect! and I’m planting them right smack into the dry season! impeccable timing!). After breaking seed dormancy, we transplanted them into seed trays. During the holidays, I was in the glass house, watering the pla…

the OJT season has begun

I thought that my role in supervising undergraduate students was over when Raina and Charisse were done with their thesis. WRONG! With the arrival of the summer heat came the on-the-job trainees. They are third-year college students who have internships as part of their requirements for graduation.
Last year, I was largely uninvolved in the OJT program. But this year, I found myself volunteering to handle one OJT over the summer to help me in analysing around 600 samples. So far, I’m very impressed with the performance… well, I’m easily impressed, so that’s not a big challenge for anyone.

i dread driving through Makati traffic!

I absolutely dread driving my car to Makati. The only reason I would bring my car there would be if I needed to get there in a hurry. For example, I volunteered to bring my sister to her office because she had barely an hour before her shift started (I got lost finding my way back to EDSA… that was past 10pm, and with the traffic at the Sales Interchange, I got home 1am the next day!). Or that time when I had to go to my orthodontist for my appointment, but I left the office late (and I had to drive through the notoriously slow Sta Rosa traffic).
So, the THIRD time I drove to Makati was on March 31; again there was some time constraint because I was attempting to beat a deadline. I would have loved to park right in the building I was going to. The problem was I was unfamiliar with the one-way streets in the area. It was easy to walk along Ayala Avenue and the side streets because I didn’t have to worry about the traffic flow, but it was a different story altogether when I brought the c…

the ayala museum experience

Intrigued by articles about the Ayala Museum, I decided to go there myself to check it out on March 31… and to try to absorb as much culture as possible. :0)
Anyway, as luck would have it, I got in with a discounted admissions fee because some of the exhibit areas were closed. The only open exhibits were the dioramas about Philippine history and the paintings by Fernando Zobel and his nephew, Jaime.
On the 2nd floor… I thought I’ve seen the dioramas before (was it in fourth grade?). The gallery started with the prehistoric tableaus like the Tabon men in Palawan. Then, the arrival of Chinese and Arab merchants were protrayed in separate viewing areas. After them came the early explorations of Spaniards. The rest of the exhibits were quite predictable because they spanned the Spanish period until the Japanese occupation in the 1940s. What made that part of the museum unique was the multimedia segment. This was about the EDSA revolution in the 1980s. It featured the newspaper clips from th…

Photo shoot

Photography has been one of my hobbies since I discovered my 1978 Minolta SLR when I was eight years old. Since then, it’s a rarity to find me in pictures because I was always the one shooting them.
…Until one day in late 2005 when the journalists covering the agriculture beat went to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) to tour the facilities. As luck would have it, I was busily working in the lab when a photographer approached and asked me to slow down so he could take action shots. :0) It turned out that he was from the Agence France Presse (AFP). Aw! I kissed my chance of getting copies of the pictures good bye; unless I chance upon them in the newspaper or in a book, or somewhere.
Today, I DID stumble upon one of the pictures! I was browsing the net when I came across my picture in an AFP premium article. Hehehe. :0)
Here's the link…
http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/international-rice-research-institute-scientist-rosa-paula-news-photo/55946710
Photo by …

the march 18 challenge

March 18, 2006 — The date my cousin, Kuya Bimbo, was getting married… And I was assigned to drive the bridal car. I had dropped in late the night before, and parked my car in my uncle’s (his dad, my mom’s brother) garage (because the guys there would clean it) before going to my aunt’s (my mom’s sister) house to sleep there.
The next day, I was up at 6am, I went to my uncle’s house with my niece. She was scheduled for flower girls’ makeover, while I was to get the car and have it dressed up by the florist back at my aunt’s house. Everything was set and ready to go before 7am. I then had breakfast and proceeded to getting myself ready.
At 8:45am, while my aunts and cousins were getting dolled up, I went ahead to fetch the bride, Ginny, and her parents at a hotel in a different part of the town. To my surprise, I found SUVsthere, with a pair of motorbikes. It looked like a VIP entourage! The motorbike drivers, who turned out to be our escorts, were equally surprised to find out that I was…

thesis defense at PUP

As said in my previous post, I was in PUP Sta Mesa earlier today. I was with Vito, Tita Dory, Melissa, and Kuya Jun to watch the thesis defense of Raina and Charisse, the undergraduate Chemistry students who worked on their project in IRRI.
I was excited to watch how the two would present the paper, and a bit worried because we haven’t seen the slides. However, I knew that they would do well because the IRRI team assisting them made sure that all bases were covered: that they understood the procedures, the principles behind the procedures, how the machines worked, the significance of their results, and how these related to the conclusion. Raina and Charisse, as early as January, were prepping for their defense by asking intelligent questions, and projecting what the panelists would ask. Plus, their adviser at PUP was also grilling them like a panelist when they were in campus. Basically, the two girls were well-prepared.
When we got to the venue, Raina and Charisse were nervous and w…

yet another road trip… this time to Sta Mesa, Metro Manila

This morning, I joined my supervisor and two officemates in going to the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Sta Mesa, Manila, to watch the thesis defense of two chemistry students who did their thesis in the Grain Quality and Nutrition Research Centre for the past semester.
The trip began at 7:40am at IRRI. With our supervisor behind the wheel, we sped through UPLB and the Jamboree road. We breezed through the normally congested national road (because the rush hour has just ended) up to the Halang, Calamba, where we turned left towards the bypass to Real and the South Luzon Expressway. The trip through the SLEX was also fast, with only a stopover at the Total Station for gas and coffee. On we went along the SLEX and the Skyway without a hitch.
The slow traffic began at the approach to the Quirino Avenue, where we had to turn right towards Nagtahan Bridge. At Nagtahan, we took the bridge going into Sta Mesa (the Padre Jacinto bridge, or whatever it’s called). That’s when the…