Thursday, December 31, 2009

Review: Avatar (2009)

Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy

I immensely enjoyed watching the film, especially on IMAX. =) The computer generated animation blended seamlessly with the live shots.

The story is somewhat similar to Pocahontas... a foreigner entered the forest in search of wealth, and then fell in love with the Chief's daughter and her people. He helped them to save their land from the onslaught of his people. But this is where the stories diverge: in Pocahontas' story, the man went back home; in Avatar, the man became part of the people.

The James Cameron film and the Disney cartoon have one message: we have to save the world we live in.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Growing kitties

three months after their first photo op... and i don't have names for them yet!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Biker at the drive thru

This is the first time I've encountered a bicycle-rider at the drive thru (picture taken at the Jollibee branch near Colegio de San Juan de Letran in Calamba). 


Must try it myself sometime.

It beats being stuck in traffic and it reduces the carbon footprint... although the best alternative is really to just dine in. That's because Jollibee has started using washable plates, tumblers, and cutlery for diners. Styrofoam and plastic are now used mainly for take aways.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Trooping to the UPLB Nativity display

Malapit na maging December 14th...

After the Big Show at IRRI, we trooped to the UPLB gate to have their photo moment by the Christmas tree and the belen. The models were all game even at the late hour. =) That's a wrap, people!

Yes, the Jazz was parked behind the gym, but the key was in the office...

IRRI 50th ANIbersaryo: Snippets from the Big Show

Gabi na, pero December 13th pa rin. =) Wally and Jose kept the crowd laughing. IRRI and Laguna talents also graced the stage. But those who waited patiently had a great surprise: Karylle, Christian Bautista, and the Mocha Girls were there, and we had no idea! What a way to kick off IRRI's 50th anniversary.

IRRI 50th ANIbersaryo: Family Day (2009)

December 13th. Jugglers, magicians, and stiltmen peppered the IRRI sports grounds as IRRI employees brought their families for this special event.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

IRRI Awards for Length of Service

A big chunk of the Grain Quality staff received awards this year. The most loyal of the Grain Quality people is Tita Dory, who has accumulated 30 years of service to IRRI and to the rice-eating population of the world.

The concerted efforts of this year's awardees mitigated potential food crises around the world for more than three decades. Their work does not stop though, and new blood is pouring in to help improve food security in the face of more challenging environments and climate conditions. =)

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Gift: The Concert

December 15, 2009

Photo credits go to Leo Ocampo, Donald Villanueva, and Yuan Custodio

The Gift: Backstage pass

Rehearsals leading to the concert. From the Plant Prep Room in Hemmi to Room C in Umali, to the Havener Auditorium. Photos mainly captured by Ching Habito.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

GQNPC Christmas Party 2009

We had a lunch get-together at the Post-harvest office on December 16. The wild rice casserole was great!

Ronchie and Digi's wedding reception

December 18, 2009. Josephine's, Tagaytay City

James took most of the pictures as Noah and I held hosting duties. Had a great time catching up with college friends. Sabi ni Ronchie, "looking forward to our reunions and your weddings" na siya.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Gift: A Benefit Concert

Talents from the IRRI gene pool converged for a cause: to help colleagues in need. =)

Congratulations to everyone who made this project possible.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Bye, Ate Digna

Ate Digna has joined Our Lord yesterday, after more than a year of combatting the big C. My condolences to her family. You will sorely be missed. 

This photo was taken of her and husband, Kuya Ferdie, at the Botanical Garden in UPLB in 2007.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

When Cesar Married Sally: 30 Years na!

My parents are celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary today. Anna and I won't be joining in the celebrations for the fifth time in a row, but nevertheless, we greet them:


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Rice Genetics Symposium at the Manila Hotel

November 16 and 18, 2009

A lot of delegates from all over the world gathered at the Manila Hotel to understand the complexities of the genetics of one of the most important crops to mankind: rice.

Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn visits Grain Quality!!

The princess came with an entourage of journalists and government officials. My supervisor, Dr Melissa Fitzgerald, gave her and Dr Robert Zeigler (IRRI's Director General) the tour of the lab. We, on the other hand, were nearby in case Melissa needed assistance with pulling up figures and data from the instruments. Plus, we were there to answer questions from the rest of the entourage.

She's got to be the highest-profile visitor we entertained to date!!

Mamang's birthday 2009

Anna and I took Mamang and Kuya Eldie out for lunch at Gerry's Grill and to Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf for coffee and milkshakes... all at the Alabang Town Centre.

Tita Dory's birthday lunch

Lots of good food, great company. This time, Vito was physically present, and not merely a participant via phone patch. ;)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Review: 2012 (2009)

Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy

The movie claims that the world, based on interpretations of the Mayan calendar, will end in 2012. Only a select few, based on their bank accounts and their genes, will be saved. The arks that would carry the chosen few into the next age were given country assignments. Curious that only a handful of countries were represented (mainly the rich ones) and that these nations shared spaces in the arks; with the exception of the US, which naturally had an ark all to itself.

Despite the US taking the lead (again!) in saving humankind from utter destruction, I actually liked this film. The interpretation of the Mayan Calendar was only touched upon, and the actual End of Days kicked off with a large bang: the eruption of the Yellowstone super volcano! After that, the destruction of different landmarks all over the world is reminiscent of the scenes from "The Day After Tomorrow," which was directed by this movie's director, Roland Emmerich.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Lost in translation

In the lab, I was trying to complete a Filipino saying, but I was struggling to find the words. My brain stopped searching, and I ended up saying,

"Huwag mag-count ng chicks habang hindi pa nag-hatch ang eggs." 

Any English speaker will know what the saying is without the English translation.

Too much soap on TV

I haven't been watching much local television in the past few years, thanks to the rigours of graduate school. But now, I have more time on my hands when I get home, and I have restarted watching the news (ending my newspaper subscription helped a lot in making me dependent on news on television)... late night, that is, because I'm still at work at 6 PM.

I miss the days when late night meant getting news at 10 PM and television stations signing off promptly at midnight. Those were the days of "The World Tonight" with Angelo Castro, Jr., if I'm not mistaken. Currently, late night news programs are aired close to midnight!! There are just too many soaps and drama series in between the 6 PM (are the news programs still aired at 6 PM?) and the late night news, I think. Add a daily dose of gossip which is even longer than current events shows, into the merry mix... and late night news is naturally pushed back to almost very early morning. What can be expected of the current event documentaries that are shown AFTER the news? They're thrown into the next day's program schedule!

A stark contrast to the objectives of these news networks: they want people to be more proactive and aware about what happens around them (i.e., the upcoming elections in May 2010). In fact, there are real-time audience participation activities in news broadcasts (mainly by SMS responses to surveys). However, if news and documentaries are shown in the wee hours of the morning because of the flurry of soaps and telenovelas during prime time, aren't these television stations failing in what they have set out to do? Many of the people they target might be sleeping by the time the news and the documentaries kick off! Especially if they are gunning for the working class, college students, and housewives.

What to do? I suggest that late night news be brought back to the 10 PM slot, with the documentaries airing right after.

Current events documentary pushed back to the wee hours of the morning :(

I must say I am a Cheche Lazaro fan.

I make it a point to catch "Probe Profiles," a documentary she hosts, which airs on ABS-CBN Channel 2 every Wednesday after the late night news. With the 2010 elections right around the corner, the show is currently presenting a series of interviews featuring people touted to most probably run for the presidency next year. The show is indeed a fantastic way for the electorate to know the backgrounds of the candidates, hear the opinions of people who oppose these candidates, and hopefully make informed decisions on Election Day.

The show has a HUGE potential of reaching a large number of televiewers both in the Philippines and overseas since it is being aired in one of the Philippines' largest media networks... if only the show is aired somewhat earlier than the 11:45 pm-ish time slot (Philippine Standard Time, GMT +8.00). With this late night-very early morning schedule, the show most likely capture the insomniacs and people who really watch out for each episode. I don't know if the show is being seen by the college students and the early twenties age bracket, who most probably are part of the target audience (many of them are voting for the first time).

I don't know if this essay would reach people in ABS-CBN. Nevertheless, I wish that whoever schedules shows in there move the show's schedule to an earlier time slot. I think a lot more people will benefit from "Probe Profiles" if it's aired earlier. 

Click on the link to go to the Probe Profiles website. =)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Before the pizza arrived

Kuya Eldie dropped by the house to check on the faulty electrical wiring that plunged the master's bedroom into darkness for almost a week. Then we ate dinner at Pizza Hut in Calamba while he updated us on our cousins' Tropical Storm Ketsana experience in Provident Village.

Thank goodness Kuya Eldie was there to help out!

(Photos by Anna and me)

Aragog, is that you?

Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away.

I found this huge spider crawling about in the house a tad too late for Halloween. However, it's still welcome at home because it eats bugs. This way of pest control is way better, both for the environment and for one's health, than spraying insecticides inside the house. I just hope this spider isn't poisonous. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Christmas blends

Anna told me to drop by Boston Cafe because her friend, Melay, was there for the launch of the Havaianas outlet (which, according to the baristas, has a 20-30% discount on several designs until November 30). By the time I got there, Melay had already left; but Heidi was there to let me try out a drink in Boston Cafe's Christmas menu... and the really delicious chocolate cake.

I'm now a fan of the Caramel Toffee frappe (I'm not sure if the name is correct), which is huge change from my Boston Cafe staple: chocolate milkshake with peppermint. Caramel toffee is sweet but it doesn't overwhelm the taste buds. In fact, it's the perfect complement to chocolate cake. 

The other flavour, if I remember the name correctly, is the Christmas frappe (this one I bought). It has some amount of coffee mixed with chocolate, which I'm sure people would love. I didn't enjoy it as much as the caramel toffee primarily because I'm not a coffee drinker, and the bitterness of coffee takes over the taste of the chocolate. What I like about this drink, though, are the red and green Christmas tree sprinkles. 

Thanks to Heidi and Melay!!

Fire alarm!

What's a perfect way to jolt people on a hot and humid afternoon? Trigger the fire alarm! Unintentionally, of course.

Desiccants are materials used to keep other items dry. These pellets are blue when dry, and slowly turn pink while these absorb moisture from the environment. Pouring newly dried desiccant pellets wouldn't be such a big deal if it didn't stir up a lot of dust... dust that set off the smoke detector! 

Everyone went out of the building as the fire marshals determined which sensor was set off (and I, along with Tita Dory, Dara and Ate Lucy, knew exactly which sensor was triggered - it was above us). Many minutes ticked by before the Fire Brigade showed up, only to find out that it was a false alarm.

What a way to break the monotony on a warm (it's already November!!) and sunny Wednesday afternoon. =)

Table art and relieving hunger

Pasta is, I think, becoming a popular item in home decoration, particularly in the kitchen. It does come in a lot of shapes and sizes that, when mixed and matched, can be called art. However, in places where food security is an issue, is it really a wise idea to use food, albeit pretty when uncooked, as decoration?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Lola Estay's 92nd birthday

This year's celebration is a much scaled-down version of her 91st birthday party (January 1 pictures). Just cake, pancit, macaroni, corned beef, lechon manok, and the family (that remains in the Philippines). Anna and I arrived separately just before dinner (with me bringing a cake, which was in danger of melting after a four-hour drive). Other cousins dropped by earlier, but I wasn't there yet to take pictures.

IRRI Duets Season 2: The Performance

The night's contest pieces (in order):

The Pinoy Big Brother theme
Endless Love
To All the Girls I've Loved Before
I Will Survive
Dancing Queen
Sun and Moon

Jenny Jarlego (a contestant from last season) sang "I Want to Know What Love Is" and students from a local college danced. The final intermission number was a performance by last season's hit makers: "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" by Donna, Achim, Bas, and Tanguy.

The winners this season were Fiona and April; they survived!

IRRI Duets Season 2: The Final Rehearsal

One final run-through of Kuya Teodie and Melissa's performance to let Ana get her cues.

... It's show time!!

IRRI Duets Season 2: The Props

I almost didn't make it to work because of the flash flood along the Calamba-Los Banos stretch of the national highway. I detoured around Mount Makiling via the Sto Tomas route after seeing that the fourth flood was too high for me to risk my car (Los Banos rest area). The alternate route led through Tanauan, Alaminos, San Pablo, Calauan, and Bay... an additional 60 km drive on top of the 18 km I had already made. In all, a 3-1/2 hour drive to work... the second longest for me. :|

However, I DID arrive in time to document the final touches to the props. Despite the torrential rain in the morning, everyone was in high spirits, looking forward to the performance in later that evening.

Post-Mirinae 01-Nov-2009

The Santa Cruz River swelled and went over the flood control measures, submerging a big proportion of Sta Cruz, Laguna. Lola Estay's house, which is very close to the river, was in waist-deep flood. In other areas, the current was so strong that people had to use ropes to traverse the streets. The public market, which has been under water since late September, was still plied by boats - Sta Cruz's very own Venice.

The waters near the national highway receded as quickly as they came, and Anna and I were able to visit on November 1. Before driving off to the cemeteries, though, I took the time to photograph the still swollen river and the nephew and the niece, Totoy and Trisha.

Manila Memorial 30-Oct-2009

Right after the lab meeting, I headed to Makati for my dental check-up, followed by a quick visit to Lolo Bats, Tito Nani, and the Aquinos. I didn't find Papa Mallari's grave though.

Had Lolo's grave cleaned up. It turns out that Lolo's marker is made of marble. Now I know.

Then it was time to drive fast back to the house. Typhoon Mirinae had made a slight change in trajectory and was hitting Laguna in less than 18 hours. On my way back, the rains had started...

Sunday in Eastwood

We trooped one more time to Eastwood City to visit Kuya Mitchie, Che, and Miggy. And then off to Mass at the Holy Family Chapel.

Eastwood City looks quite similar to Waikiki's hotel area, and to Gold Coast.

Weed it out

Nothing like a good hour out in the sunshine to put things into perspective. Gardening - more like removing weeds from the garden - on a slow Sunday is hitting two birds with one stone. As my dad puts it, " Habang nagpapahinga, naglilinis ng bakuran." I just have to agree, now that I'm in charge of doing this... and have no choice but to enjoy it. =)  

Removing weeds from the garden is therapeutic for me, I found out. It has the same effect as getting a really short haircut when I'm stressed; except that gardening doubles as an exercise. =)

The next question is, what do I plant in there? 

November b-days

  Happy birthday to:

Joycelyn - Nov 2
Kuya Junjun - Nov 3
Biboy - Nov 4
Lola Estay - Nov 7
Tina - Nov 8
Mamang - Nov 11
Ate Maddie - Nov 27

Did I miss anyone? 

Holidays are coming... again (sigh!)

Christmas is just around the corner, it seems. Though the wind hasn't picked up enough of the cold, I'm convinced because the lanterns are now on display along the national highway, Ayala Avenue is being decorated with giant maroon bows, and television ads have started spreading the holiday cheer. Even the news broadcasts have started their own countdowns.

This year's celebration won't be as festive as last year's, I think. The family is separate once again, and those abroad have no plans of going home for the holidays this year. What a letdown, from last year's enjoyable holidays. The typhoons surely didn't help brighten the mood.

Just the same, I have to reflect at the blessings bestowed to us this year, and be happy that the family is safe. 

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Undas 2009

No picture taking this year. Parking close to the cemeteries was a problem this evening, obviously because a lot of people were visiting their departed relatives. To make the long (more than two hours worth of driving) and winding (the detour led vehicles through a lot of curves) story short, I didn't get a chance to get off the car and walk. My passengers visited the graves while I was stuck in traffic. In the end, after three cemeteries, I just gave up and went back to my grandma's house.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

UPLB Loyalty Day

October 10, 2009
UPLB celebrated it's centennial with a bang. The year-round party culminated with the annual Loyalty Day parade and The Harvest. Fancy seeing a few friends who are also into photography at various points of the parade!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mobile Miggy

The tech-savvy baby fiddled with two Nokias and a Blackberry. All of them NOT baby-proof. Ate Maddie, Tita Tessie, and Anna were watching him like hawks!

My mobile phone: safely stowed in my pocket :)

Courage in the eye of the storm

"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." 
— Nelson Mandela

The Philippines faced two consecutive typhoons that literally transformed low-lying areas of Luzon into water world. The challenges though, brought out the heroes in many Filipinos, who helped out in their own ways. Courage took many forms: many braved the strong currents to save the stranded, others cleared away the debris. Volunteers repacked relief goods while nurses and doctors treated people languishing in evacuation centres. Courage takes the most important form in the survivors, because for them it means picking up where they had been carried to and moving on with their lives despite the tragedy that had struck them.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Slow Sunday in Eastwood City

(NOTE: Photos in Eastwood were lost during the move from Multiply to Blogger. I'm currently trying to recover them.)

Kuya Mitchie, Che, and Miggy evacuated to Eastwood City when Che's family's house got swamped, literally, by the rains dumped by Tropical Storm Ketsana (aka Ondoy). Their house is quite close to the Pasig River and when the river overflowed, the floodwater reached the second floor of the house. Luzon was drenched with lots of water, reaching 455 mm (heavy flooding levels) in just a few hours.

If that were not enough, three more weather disturbances were queued in the Pacific Ocean! See the YouTube video by Chris Todd below to see the "parade of tropical cyclones" in September to October 2009.

Four tropical depressions formed one after the other in the Western Pacific in the span of several days: Ketsana, TD 18W, Parma, and Melor. Then a new one was found this week while Parma is still hovering over northern Luzon: TD 21W.

This reminds me of the movie "The Day After Tomorrow."

Sidelines at the bowling games

Some more shots at the UPLB Student Union Building duckpin bowling alleys. These are taken at the sidelines during the official tournament.

With Lola Bats, Tita Ising, and Tito Sibing in Batangas

September 21, 2009

Monte Maria was largely barren when I first went there on Holy Week. This time, however, the place is dotted with flowers. It's no longer a sacrifice to pass along the Stations of the Cross despite the rough terrain... but they didn't do that. They're just not fit.

Caysasay Church was being prepared for the arrival of Mama Ma-Cho, a revered Chinese statue that is believed to be identical to the statue of the Virgin Mary found in Brgy Caysasay in Taal, Batangas.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Miggy rediscovers the Mac :)

Sept 19, 2009. Photos by Kuya Mitchie and me. :)

Charlotte's visit

Sept 16, 2009.

Charlotte, one of our past interns, dropped by the lab with her mom and sister, to catch up with everyone. Too bad Fe's in the Netherlands until late October, and Chan has gone back to Lao PDR this month.

Alabang lunch

Sept 12, 2009.

Our family lunch was moved to a Saturday. Ate Maddie treated us to lunch at the Kanin Club in Westgate Alabang. Tita Tessie also treated us to drinks at Figaro at the Alabang Town Centre.

Great food. Great family! And Miggy's surely one growing boy. :)

Bowling practice

We went to the UPLB Student Union Building to play bowling. My score went from a high 80 (during the tournament) to an all-time-low of 57 during the practice. Just the same, everyone had a great time. :)

Photos by Rochie and Leo

Thursday, September 10, 2009

New doctors!!

We met up for dinner the night of the announcement of the medical board exam results. Au and I kept Shawie, Debbie, and Arjay company while they kept refreshing the laptop's internet browser at Boston Cafe in Los Banos.

When they finally saw their names amongst the list of board passers, we were the rowdiest bunch in the cafe. It's as if we all found out that we passed an exam in one of our more difficult biology courses!

Congrats, new doctors!!

Night out with officemates

We had dinner at Mio Cucina. Good food, great company! Had lots of fun!!

Review: UP (2009)

Genre: Animation
A heartwarming story about a man's determination of making his late wife's dream adventure come true... while making friends along the way.

What I love about it: the couple grew old together and trying times brought them closer. The child became the old man's family in the end.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Amoebas attack!

I had amoebiasis barely a week after getting back from Brisbane, a day after my barkada's reunion in North EDSA. I have no idea where I got infected by Entamoeba histolytica, but the experience wasn't good at all! I easily lost eight pounds in the three days I was in hospital and in the week that followed; during that time, I didn't have the appetite to eat because of the medicines' side effects.

me, in the hospital after a day in North EDSA.

Two weeks after, my blood test and urinalysis results indicated that I'm back to normal. And I can go back to playing badminton and bowling... and I specifically asked the doctors about this. Yahoo!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Day out in North EDSA

Joel came back for a short vacation from his post-grad studies in the US. Noah, Rizza, and I met up with him at the SM North EDSA for lunch. We ended up at the Trinoma in the afternoon.

Had a lot of fun. Thanks!! Dapat maulit ito bago umalis si Joel!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Last days in school

These photos were taken the last three days I was at the University of Queensland. I'll miss this place and the people in there (even if I stayed there for only a few weeks).

Off to the next adventure...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The last day of President Aquino's wake

August 4, 2009.

A lot of people showed up at the public viewing of the former president. She will be truly missed. Since cameras and mobile phones were ordered to be stowed in our bags, I didn't take photos inside the cathedral. But I did get pictures of the growing crowd...

Later that evening, it was reported that the queue had reached the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (Manila City College), and waiting time was five hours!!! That is how well-loved Cory Aquino is. People braved the rain to see her one last time...

Corazon Aquino, 1933-2009

The Philippines has lost another defender of democracy, former President Corazon Aquino, on August 1, 2009. The country mourns her passing, and flags are at half-mast. President Gloria Macaagal-Arroyo has declared August 5, as a holiday, so that more people can participate in her funeral. 

She has been touted as one of the country's finest leaders in one of its darkest hours; her unwavering faith a model for the millions of people who have put their trust in her. The brand of leadership she used is an inspiration for the world. True, her administration has been marked with challenges: natural, economic, and political. However, her presidency was at the time of the country's transition; the emotions of the times are reflected in songs that never fail to remind Filipinos to be proud of themselves and their freedom. She was a mother, first and foremost, to this country, a figure that it needed the most at that time. 

Hers is not a state funeral, as is the fashion for former heads of state. Instead, her relatives declined the Palace's offer, whatever their reasons are. Nevertheless, it is quite fitting for the housewife that was hoisted to power, and was never blinded by it. 

Now that she's gone, I realise that the people involved are getting on in years. It is now our turn, those who have been still too young to participate, to live up to the ideals that she and her peers have fought for and gained at EDSA 1986. It is up to us to make sure that the next generation understands how much has been sacrificed for the freedom we enjoy now. 

Sunday, August 2, 2009

MovieWorld, Gold Coast: 25-Jul-2009

The Laguesmas brought me over to the Warner Bros. MovieWorld theme park in Gold Coast. I enjoyed watching the Shrek show at the Roxy Theatre, eating ice cream at the Music Man Ice Cream Parlour, going into the Spooky Castle, and seeing the Hollywood stunt driving attraction.

Thanks to Ate Tin and Kuya Rowan for bringing me there :)

Yum Cha in Sunnybank: 24-Jul-2009

After the graduation, Ate Tin and her family, brought me and Ate Dinah to Sunnybank for some yum cha at the Landmark Restaurant in Sunnybank. The food came in woven baskets carted over by the staff. I absolutely loved the flavours in the chicken feet and the beef. The other dimsum had prawn or crab in them, so I didn't try them. The aquariums on display just by the door of the restaurant had HUGE king crabs! These must be the biggest crabs I've ever seen! Plus lobsters, shrimp, some big fish too.

Graduation day!!!: 24-July-2009

Finally, the day I officially become a PhD graduate!!!! My family was largely absent, but friends were there to celebrate the day with me. Ate Dinah, Ate Tin, and her husband, Kuya Rowan, and her daughter Rihanna, were at the venue to watch the ceremony.

Unlike my UPLB graduation in 2002, which lasted six hours (at least) and PhDs marching last, the ceremony in UQ lasted about two hours only, with the PhDs marching first. No photographs were allowed in the venue, and were only permitted outside the UQ Centre Exhibition Hall. An official photographer was present to shoot everyone's acceptance of the UQ tube. 

I felt more excited and relieved with seeing the final copy of my thesis being accepted in March this year, than the graduation ceremony in July. Probably because there was a long gap between the two events. Nevertheless, I was so happy to wear my Doctor of Philosophy Cambridge-style academic dress, with the red-lined gown, the red-lined hood, and the funny bonnet. The happiness of having my thesis accepted was more of relief, while of the graduation was more of closure, and the start of my post-PhD life.

Thanks to Bob for making sure that I attend my graduation ceremony! 

Moorooka dinner: 23-Jul-2009

(photo credit: Sam)

I was whisked off to Moorooka this time by Stella, Sam, and Dinah. Moorooka is a suburb of Brisbane a few kilometres off the city centre, and is accessible via train or bus (according to Dinah). 

Andrew (Dinah's boyfriend) had cooked "Chicken Surprise" for this dinner, to welcome us. Stella and Sam are students at the University of Queensland campus in Gatton, while I was at the St Lucia campus for only a few days. Aside from chicken, there was pizza and garlic bread. Both were purchased at Castelli's Gourmet Pizza in Indooroopilly. And, there were olives!!! Andrew had green olives on hand and was happy to share them with people who appreciate olives (that includes me!). 

The chicken was great! It was so tender, and the soup that it was in tasted a lot like tinola because of the ginger. A great feel-good meal on a cold night! After dinner, Stella and Sam kindly dropped me off the Oxley train station for my trip back to Lawnton.

Winter in and around Brisbane (2009)

I was in Brisbane for two weeks (July 20-August 1) to attend my graduation. Since winter is the season out there, the sun rose late, and set early. Thus, many of the weekday shots were in low light.
Photos taken in Manila, St Lucia, Lawnton, West End, Indooropilly, South Bank, and the Gold Coast.

The end of post-grad life begins...

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." - Lao Tzu

Four years ago, in July 2005, I began my journey as a post-grad student, not knowing whether I took on a challenge larger than I can handle, or it's something that I can finish. All I knew then, was that an answered prayer was beginning to unfold... my goal of entering grad school was here at last. 

"Time is a companion that goes with us on a journey. It reminds us to cherish each moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we have lived." - Jean Luc Picard

The years went on as if a blur of building friendships, reaching goals, experiencing failures and triumphs... plus the opportunity to see other parts of the world. Last year's highlight was pulling through the difficult task of submitting my thesis manuscript in September 2008. Thank goodness for my love of taking pictures... I have a lot of memories to keep, albeit my absence in almost all of these shots.

At last, I was at the end of this journey. What made this even clearer, was what I saw the first day I was back in the lab at the University of Queensland, although this WASN'T OFFICIAL until July 24th...

Hehe :)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Birthday dinner

Thanks to Noah, Dennis, Oliver, Ana, and Lauren for joining me get my mushroom burger fix in Tagaytay City... and for the laughter at Starbucks in Paseo de Sta Rosa.

GQNPC team-building 2009

Camayan Beach Resort, Subic Bay

Saturday, June 27, 2009

advanced happy birthday, daddy :)

Happy happy birthday daddy!!!!!

(that's me and Daddy in Belle Island, photo by Biboy)

Five days early, but then again, I would be on trip on your birthday... and with intermittent internet connection...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer's last day in the Philippines

June 19, 2009. Summer, the intern, was brought to Laiya, Batangas for a day at the beach just before her trip back home.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Badminton at Whackers

June 12, 2009

And then we played badminton on Taraflex covered wooden courts... I don't think I'd want go back to cement courts ever again.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Miggy, where's the light?

Here are two pictures of Tita Anna and Miggy playing with motion-sensitive t-shirts (that light up). 

October 2008, with Tita Maddie

May 2009, with Dad

Miggy's grown up a lot in between!

Sunday, June 7, 2009


June 6, 2009.

Due to the rain, the remaining games of the Dual Meet, excluding soccer, were held at the Baker Hall, UPLB.

Photos taken by various photographers. That's what happens when people swap cameras.

Rice: research to production (2009)

People from different nations dropped by the lab as part of the rice production course. They had a blast with the sensory evaluation of rice varieties.

Greg's birthday party in the Grain Quality Lab

June 3, 2009.
Ana's surprise for the week was ruined when Greg showed up with that delicious cake and the homemade rice-and-pandan ice cream. It turned out that he was celebrating ahead of his actual birthday at work because he wouldn't be in IRRI at the time.

Fiesta in Sta Cruz

June 4, 2009.

Some of my friends went with me to Sta Cruz, Laguna for the fiesta... actually, the DINNER after the chaos of the fiesta. Lola Estay, as usual, was flustered by all her guests.

Thanks to Ana, Lucy, Ferdie, Oliver, and Dennis for going with me to Sta Cruz.

And a bigger THANK YOU to my aunts and Lola Estay, and everyone who cooked for the delicious food. :)


Review: Angels and Demons (2009)

Genre: Action & Adventure

Tom Hanks' hairstyle is certainly better in this movie than in the Da Vinci Code. :)

The movie was a great adaptation of the novel, a story about the "attack" of the secret society called Illuminati during the papal conclave. There were a lot of twists and turns in the plot, which kept me on the edge of my seat. People who have read the book and those who haven't would enjoy the film a lot.

A great movie. :)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Lucy's office birthday party (2009)

May 29, 2009. There was another party in her house, over the weekend, which I wasn't able to go to because I had to go to Makati.

Joke time in the lab

This morning, in the lab:

"Ah, kung wala siya ng alas-tres, ibig sabihin nun wala siya ng alas-dos."

Yes, Tita Dory, that sounds very logical. :)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Counting airplanes

Ernie used to count sheep, as suggested by Bert, when he couldn't sleep. Then The Count comes into the scene and he and Ernie start counting fire trucks, to Bert's dismay. 

I thought of this scene from Sesame Street while queued in the southbound clogged Southern Luzon Expressway (SLEX). I got stuck in the traffic jam right after passing the northbound toll gate. This was one of the afternoons that I regretted not bringing my camera with me. Not one, not two, but seven airplanes passed overhead on their landing approach at the international airport, which was just on one side of the expressway.

Thankfully, more than two hours later, I finally reached SM Sta Rosa. :)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Harold Valera's IRRI farewell party

The last ice cream party for Harold in the grain quality laboratory. See you around, Harold!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Lizzie's 7th birthday party

Family time in Marikina :)

Ingat sa pagmamaneho!

I visited my aunts and grandma in Sta Cruz this evening. The trip going there was uneventful, and I'm glad that the road repair being done in Pila was finished. The trip home, however, was a different story.

The first accident was in Brgy. Anos, Los Banos. Two motorcycles looked like they were involved in a head-on collision, and were left in the middle of the road. The accident must have happened just a few minutes before I drove past it because the crowd was just starting to grow, and people were picking items that were thrown off the motorbikes. I hope that no one was seriously hurt in this case because people are required to wear helmets, and this rule is being enforced quite strictly in Los Banos.

The second accident was located just before Brgy. Halang, Calamba City (northbound), right across the intersection going to Colegio de San Juan de Letran. A car and a motorbike were involved. Apparently, the car was negotiating a turn towards the gas station when it collided with the motorcycle (which got stuck on the car's front right tire) at the outer northbound lane. There were police officers in the scene, so it appears that the accident happened earlier. I hope that the motorbike driver wasn't badly hurt because in Calamba, the traffic enforcers don't seem to apply the helmet rule as consistently as in Los Banos, judging by all the people on motorbikes without helmets.

With motorbikes increasingly becoming the mode of private transportation due to their more affordable prices, I hope that owners would consider purchasing the appropriate safety equipment: helmets, high-visibility clothing (the fluorescent ones), and protection for their chests, backs and limbs. Plus, since it's more dangerous to drive at night (even with a car), motorcycle drivers and passengers would be safer if they were more visible: functional headlamps, taillights, and fluorescent clothing would help other commuters see motorcycles in the dark. 

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Time flies fast

My nephews and nieces (my cousins' children) are growing up. Lizzie turned seven on the 21st, and Jon-jon will be 14 in a few minutes. Julo has started pre-school this year, and Nisa is coming into her third year in engineering school (if I'm not mistaken). Justine is entering her third year of high school while Ara is on her fourth. The youngest, Miggy, turned one in April.
I am getting old...

Review: Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009)

Genre: Comedy

The Ben Stiller show had made the audience laugh again. This time, his team was reinforced by the presence of Amy Adams and Hank Azaria, who both have great comedic timing. It's such a pity, though, that Robin Williams did not have a bigger part in the sequel.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

September 2, 2008

The day I submitted my thesis manuscript... I remember personally handing in the digital copy of manuscript at the Uni Printery after the toughest week of my life so far (stressful enough to make me look really haggard). And one of my supervisors, Bob, aptly described writing the PhD thesis manuscript as like contracting a terminal illness. :)

These comic strips are once again from

Titles, titles...

Once again, comics from This set reminded me of the recent PSM convention, where all the prominent attendees with PhD's (the professors) were called by their titles. It was just weird for me because my supervisors in graduate school had insisted on me addressing them by their first names.

A minute in the life of a PhD student :)

From July 25, 2005 (thereabouts) to September 2, 2008... and up until now. But from the second year onwards, I no longer jump in surprise. Hehe :)

The good thing is, I've received a copy of my thesis yesterday! All that hard work printed in 300+ A4 pages and bound between two blue-covered boards.

The life of a PhD student in a picture

This comic strip has made me smile tonight. 

The artist at was able to sum up what is inside a PhD, or even MSc, student's head. In fact, I have felt exactly like the student in the picture. Life revolved around the laboratory... and how to finish the thesis manuscript was the top priority. All other activities were shunned, to give way to the write-ups and the additional lab work. 

Now that I'm done with it, I can look back at the fond memories of thesis-writing.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

David Cook and David Archuleta Live in Manila

May 16, 2009
SM Mall of Asia concert grounds

Anna, Justine, and I had a blast. :) Before the concert, we had to make a stop in Makati because I had to visit my orthodontist. And at the venue, the seated patrons went ballistic, and stood on their chairs. Pity the poor silver and bronze ticket-holders... they had to rely on the big screens to get an idea of what's onstage.

PSM Convention photos

May 14, 2009. Hyatt Hotel and Casino, Manila

David Cook and David Archuleta in Manila

I just got back from David Cook and David Archuleta's Live in Manila concert. The concert grounds at the SM Mall of Asia was filled to the brim with people who wanted to see the Top 2 of last season's American Idol. There were no front acts; David Archuleta started his set, and then followed by David Cook. The audience were thrilled during their performances. :)

People couldn't seem to get enough of the singers because they crowded at the gate where an SUV was about to enter, apparently to get people from backstage. Anna, Justine, and I left the crowd as soon as we could because a stampede was a real possibility (some people were angry, others were crying, as people jostled and squashed each other to get closer to the gate).

The concert was a huge success. It looked like the two Davids didn't know what they had signed up for until they started performing. :)

Click here to see the pictures (the acceptably clear ones... I didn't bother uploading the really blurry ones.