Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's official.

The letter from the Dean of the Graduate School was sent to me yesterday. Just to make sure, I checked my status for the next two terms. Until yesterday, the status was Thesis Under Assessment. Today, though, the page was blank.

Three years ago, I haven't looked forward to actually finishing up; all I was thinking of then was how lucky I was to enter graduate school! Now, the real world beckons: what do I do with what I've achieved?

'Yan ang susunod na kabanata. 

Saturday, March 28, 2009

I had no idea he's Craig David

Earlier today, I was at Glorietta 5 with Anna and her classmate. The Glorietta 5 Atrium was filled with people for the Craig David CD autograph signing. I don't know who this artist is, so I didn't mind the crowd too much.

Since I didn't have much cash on me, I went to the ATM beside the lift. When the doors opened, out came a crowd of foreigners. A guy in a red shirt stood beside me at the ATM, and I didn't mind him because I thought he was just in line to use the machine. It just seemed weird that he was wearing shades indoors, but to each his own, right?

When I walked back to the mall, I saw the guy on stage signing the CDs. So that's Craig David! I had absolutely no idea! Otherwise, I would have whipped out my camera and had my picture taken with him at the ATM. The guard wasn't even pestering me to move out of the way, so I just thought it was yet another group of tourists visiting the mall. 

This is actually the third time I've been in close proximity with famous people without realising it; the first two were: (1) Manny Pacquiao at Discovery Suites (Fe and Vito, look at all those hoodlums!); and (2) Itchyworms during the UPLB FebFair (I ought to go home, the crowd's growing on the field). On both occasions, I had a camera on me! 

Friday, March 27, 2009

... Gone!

The final copy of my thesis has been lodged in the Uni!!! Yey! That, after the Dean of the Graduate School recommended that I be awarded my degree! Yey!

Now, it's just a matter of time to get the confirmation that I really am graduating. :D

Continued from:

Monday, March 23, 2009

Padre Garcia (trivia)

More on Padre Garcia, Batangas... being in the place is as good a time as any to soak a bit of history, and I took that opportunity :D The information that follows comes from 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Padre_Vicente_Garcia

The town was named after Padre Vicente Garcia, a priest who defended Dr Jose Rizal from other priests who labelled him a heretic and a blasphemer. The priest's relics are interred in the town church, the Church of the Holy Rosary, which is even older than the Batangas City Basilica! 


I guess the church has undergone restoration work, but  seems unchanged since the first time I've seen it (in 2005, because I rarely went to town before that year).  Nevertheless, baroque influences in its facade's architecture remind me of the Ilocano Earthquake Baroque churches sans the Chinese-stylised clouds. 

Her Bee Jay's Restaurant


Rating:★★★★★
Category:Restaurants
Cuisine: Asian
Location:Padre Garcia, Batangas
I was starving by the time I reached the Padre Garcia town proper. Since this town IS the cattle trading capital of the Philippines, I thought it was worthwhile to try some of the renowned beef. I couldn't find a restaurant in front of the market, though, so I ended up at this restaurant, which serves one of the best lomi I have ever tasted (the other one being somewhere in Lipa City, thanks to Kuya Jun-jun).

The special lomi, containing egg, sausages, beef, and roasted garlic, was superb! More importantly, the price didn't pinch the pocket at all! For PhP30.00, two people could share the lomi! Now that's a great lunch :D


International Food Night: March 20, 2009


Tita Dory's house once again became the venue for Neerja's farewell party. Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, and Ghanaian food were set on the buffet table. 

(This photo was taken early in the plating process. John was still cooking, Neerja just started unpacking her trays of food. Only Tran's fried spring rolls were on the table, along with the leaves for the fresh rolls.)

There were several dietary restrictions.

With all the food choices at the table, I started off with the molo soup, which was made from a recipe from the Visayas region. Then I concentrated on eating a lot of poori, the Indian flatbread. This was accompanied by chickpea curry or by yoghurt.

(Indian poori all puffed up.)

Then I had the two versions of the Vietnamese spring roll: (1) fried; and (2) "make your own" fresh rolls. I like the second one a lot because of the variety of vegetables included in the roll.

(This spring roll in the photo was assembled by Tran, the Vietnamese scholar. The one I made contained too many leaves that I couldn't wrap them in the roll!)

Basil leaves, noodles, greens... the only ingredient I didn't add to the mix was shrimp, which I am allergic to. Everyone else had a grand time with the shrimp, except for Neerja, who's vegetarian.

(Ugh! Shrimp! Every non-allergic/omnivorous person in the group had a field day eating these.)

Then there's the jollof rice by John, the Ghanaian visitor, which is delicious! It's so similar to risotto but for the rice used in the dish. John also prepared an eggplant soup; unfortunately, it contained fish I'm allergic to, so I didn't eat that. Fried pork was also on the table.

The Filipino dishes included the classic chicken pork adobo and kulao, which I'm sure were hits, but I didn't taste them because I concentrated on the foreign food. 

At the end of the day, I was stuffed! If I were feeling any better that day (I was taking medicine for the cold, the joint pain, and the headache), I could have eaten some of the silvanas as dessert!

A big THANK YOU to Tita Dory, John, Neerja, Tran, and Tita Dory's helper who did all the heavy cooking that night. I absolutely enjoyed everything I ate. :D

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Scenic route to Padre Garcia, Batangas

There are may ways to go from Calamba, Laguna to Padre Garcia, Batangas. Earlier today, I chose a more scenic route: the one that goes through Laguna, Quezon, and Batangas provinces. This, mainly because I had to make a stopover in Los Banos (Laguna) before going to Batangas (and thus, this route is shorter than doubling back to Calamba and then take the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road).

The road from Tiaong, Quezon to Padre Garcia, Batangas is built on rolling hills, with some steep slopes along the route. The rice fields and cloud formations in this town are nice to look at, especially with the mountainous terrain and lots of coconut trees in the background. 

New photo taken on
On the other hand, the town of Padre Garcia, Batangas feels like it's far from the modernities of bigger towns and cities such as Lipa (about 10 km away, I think). There's no air conditioning unit in the municipal hall, and I didn't see computers either... at least at the Treasurer's Office. Staff are still preparing documents with a typewriter! The town is famous because this is the cattle trading capital of the Philippines. The beef from Padre Garcia is highly regarded. 

On my way back to Laguna, although there's another route back to San Pablo City, I opted to take the Tiaong road to enjoy the view one more time. :D

Welcoming summer!

The heat of summer is upon the Philippines again, and it just so happened that I live in the city of swimming pools, hot springs, and resorts. On my way to Los Banos, the reality that the summer season can no longer be denied is demonstrated by the colourful salbabidas on display in stores and the high pool rates. There's "Summer Sale" as well! The family in the picture is probably on their way to a pool.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Beam me up, Scotty!

This is catch phrase from Star Trek, which sums up what the PALM Microbeam IV does to a specimen on a slide. A laser beam cuts a specimen out on a glass slide (example: the mitochondria -- that's where all the carbohydrates are "burned" when people exercise -- can be removed from a cell on a glass slide for further analysis). Then a stronger pressure exerted by the laser can lift the sample up from the slide onto the cap of a small tube, pretty much like Wiley Coyote being lifted off the air by a rocket, and then getting caught by a gigantic spider's web (pretty far-fetched, I know).

image from www.thomasnet.com

Everything is done at the microsopic level, obviously, hence another microscope is used. Yes, the lecture on microdissection was the second part of the Carl Zeiss demonstration that happened today. Dr Wolf-Dieter Schulz even demonstrated how live samples, such as worms, could be isolated from a growth medium on a Petri plate. I'm just not sure if it is intended to be beamed up onto the cap of a tube because the pressure would surely kill the worm. Material as small as chromosomes (those are the DNA strands folded up, for CSI enthusiasts) can also be isolated.

I wish technology such as this becomes more readily available for biology students in the Philippines, because during my turn in college, I only learned about microdissection through lectures, and without seeing an actual sample. 

When science meets art

Representatives of Carl Zeiss, a well-known maker of optical instruments (case in point: the lens of the Nokia 5800 Xpressmusic's camera), were in IRRI today to demonstrate a new model of the confocal laser scanning microscope called LSM 710. I'm not sure how often I'd be able to use such a device, being involved in grain quality and cereal chemistry, but I'm sure researchers in the plant genetics and cell biology areas will find a lot of uses for this machine).

In the typical microscopes used in school, visible light is reflected onto a specimen (on a slide) by a mirror. Stains could be added to the sample for easier detection on a slide. The operation is highly manual (the user moves the slide, adjusts the mirror, turns knobs, and changes objectives). Because of its weight, the light microscope is pretty easy to transfer. The confocal laser scanning microscope, on the other hand, uses a laser beam to illuminate the sample, which is also on a glass slide. Fluorescent dyes are used to stain the specimens, which the laser beam excite. The result is a vividly coloured image such as the picture below.

These colours may not be true to what the eye sees under the lens (using visible light), but there's no need to look at the eyepiece once the specimen has been found on the slide. The image is transmitted to a computer, where all the editing can be done. With all the options available, the image editing software rivals what is usually applied to digital pictures from the usual point-and-shoot and DSLR. The laser generator, the microscope, and the computer add to the size and weight of the machine makes transportation of the system more complicated than the light microscope. 

With advances in microscopy, the smallest of objects can be seen and appreciated. There's even another technique called atomic force microscopy which can show how polymers are arranged inside a starch granule! Victor J. Morris lectured on this during the Starch 2008 conference in Nottingham, UK, and presented pictures that could help interpret the behaviour of starch in certain conditions. But that's a different story.

In college, I only read about this technique. But now, I have seen the instrument... it has become something tangible! And it's another form of photography too!

Cheerdance: pre- and post-competition




I wasn't able to take photos because I was participating in the cheerdance competition, so all the photos I am sharing here are from just before the competition, and right after the performance.

PS: Our team is hailed the best in the cheerdance competition! This means more rehearsals for us in preparation for this year's UPLB-IRRI dual meet.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Last chance to visit the Anilag Festival

I went there on the last day of the festival (March 15, 2009) with Anna, Ate Madie, Trisha, Edralin, and Butotoy. This year, the biggest thing made was "kesong puti" (cottage cheese), but I wasn't there (*sigh*). No worries, because on its last day, the Anilag schedule included a parade of the best gowns for the year, a lot of produce from the different towns in Laguna, and a dog show. This festival is one of the biggest in the province, and I'm happy to have been in it this year.