Saturday, April 25, 2009

Rochie vs the pancit

I had pancit for lunch today, and I felt weird as if I was on the brink of an allergic reaction (my throat was slowly getting itchy, and I wanted to gag). Since I couldn't see a trace of seafood, I continued eating, all the while observing if the itchiness would worsen. Then i saw it, the source of my allergic reaction:  a huge shrimp was sitting under the pile of noodles! 

Because I don't want to spend a night attached to an intravenous drip due to this bout with the shrimp, I hurriedly looked for an antihistamine. I think I ran out of Celestamine (R) tablets... and had to take Iterax (R) tablets instead. Annapet warned me that Iterax would make me dizzy and sleepy. True enough, barely an hour after talking with my parents, and up to now, I'm groggy and not fit to drive. 

Oh well, this beats sleeping in hospital anytime!

raindrops keep falling on my head...

My brain switched songs, it seems, as soon as I heard the rain beat down on the roof this morning. 

Raindrops keep falling on my head... 

The rain is indeed a welcome change to the heat of summer... but not on UPLB's graduation day! I have never heard of rain falling on a commencement exercise in UPLB; this is probably a first. Tents were being set up on the campus' Freedom Park yesterday in anticipation of the downpour. Aside from the heat, the graduates need to last the humidity under the tents. 

The weather this "summer" feels like the weather in July. PAGASA announced that the the tail-end of a cold front is affecting the weather in Luzon.

This joke made my day... Thursday

At lunch time, John, the lab's visiting scientist, cracked a joke while everyone else (sans Ana) was at the table having a meal:

What's the most effective means of transmitting information?
One: Telephone
Two: Telegram Three: Tell Ana <-- the lab's secretary


Napatawa lang po. :)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Rochie's Graduation Party (hosted by Dr Fitzgerald)

April 3, 2009.

My supervisor, Melissa, hosted the party in her house, and was attended by ALMOST everyone in the lab. The food was delicious! And Melissa's poem was an apt summary of the last three years of my PhD scholarship in IRRI (I don't have a copy of the poem yet... coming soon).

Thank you so much to the people of the Grain Quality, Nutrition, and Postharvest Centre for the camaraderie and the assistance that helped me finish the course. :D

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Healing stone...

Up in Monte Maria, Batangas City, there is a huge stone near the chapel. Pilgrims came and rubbed smaller stones onto this huge stone. Curious, I thought... so I walked to the crowd gathering near the stone and interviewed one of the men fervently rubbing a small rock onto the stone. 

Naturally, the conversation was in Filipino; an English translation follows (in grey)

Rochie: Bakit niyo po kinikiskis ang maliit na bato sa malaki? 
Why are you rubbing the small stone on the large one?
Man: Makapangyarihan ang malaking bato na ito. Sa pagkikiskis ng maliit na bato sasanib ang kapangyarihan mula rito papunta sa maliit na bato.
The large stone is powerful. Rubbing the small one onto it, I allow the powers of the large stone transfer to the small one.

Now that sounded like a script from an old Filipino movie! I had to stop myself from laughing, and started walking a few steps away, just in case the man realised that I wasn't convinced.

Rochie: Tapos po?
And then?
Man: Ilalapat ang bato sa masakit na bahagi ng katawan ko. (sa isa pang nakikinig) Tingnan mo itong batong inilapat ko sa batok ko. Nabasa. Nangangahulugang nasipsip ng bato ang sakit ng batok ko. 
I put the small stone onto the nape of my neck. (To another listener) Look at the stone. It's wet. This shows that the stone has sucked the pain from the nape of my neck.

Not meaning to be rude, but I thought that the stone was moistened by the man's sweaty nape, and no miracle occurred. He believed it, though, and I wasn't about to point it out to him in case he'd say the stone didn't work because there's a non-believer in his midst.

No wonder Catholic Christians are accused of idolatry and paganism.

Simbahan ng Santissima Trinidad

A pit stop on the way to Monte Maria. A church right beside SM Batangas City. The architecture is less intimidating than the baroques of Batangas province. Instead, it's charm is in the simplicity of the design, the stained glass works, and the light-coloured interiors.

Pilgrimage to Monte Maria 06apr09

Holy Monday 2009. A trip to a mountain named after the Virgin Mary. A spot in Batangas City selected by a healing priest to be the location of the largest statue of the Virgin in the world, rivaling the statues of Christ in Rio de Janeiro and of Liberty in New York.

The pilgrimage area was barren, since the sanctuary's development started only in January. Nevertheless, it's seems to be popular, as a lot of other pilgrims on their visita iglesia and for the stations of the cross arrived just as we arrived.

"Healing stones" are believed to dot the area, and some priests have been promoting this idea among their parishioners. Do these stones really heal? They don't look like special rocks... they're stones used in construction sites (a lot of structures are being built in the area, hence the stones).

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

25 random things about me

Note: I got this quiz from my cousin Joycelyn and a few others. The instructions are unexpectedly challenging. I'm putting my answers here because it's a fun quiz to take. :)

Rules: Write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. (It's really not as hard as it sounds).

1. I want to visit Ushuaia.

2. I have to eat four types of fruit to call the year complete: mango, lanzones, pomelo, and santol; miss one fruit's season, and my year is not as good.

3. I have always wanted to take pictures of a volcanic eruption; this, after seeing a coffee table book about Mount Pinatubo. Too bad the conference I had attended in Hawaii was on the wrong island!

4. I am not a coffee drinker. The only time I drank coffee was during sensory evaluations of coffee mixes (a duty in my previous job) and the last few days before the deadline of my thesis manuscript in 2008.

5. I enjoy being lost and meeting new people along the way. 

6. I love maps. I've got a book of road maps for the Philippines, I keep campus maps of Univ of Nottingham, Univ of Sydney and Univ of Queensland... and I used to have maps of the Univ of the Philippines Los Banos. 

7. I used to play the agong, the kulintang, and the dabakan in college, and the lyre in grade school.

8. I treat myself to ice cream every May 15: the first day I was allowed to drive a car.

9. Since I've started working, I always buy pizza for my birthday. The choices are: Shakey's Manager's Choice (thin crust), Pizza Hut's Super Supreme, and Yellow Cab's New York pizza. Obviously, I have been heavily influenced by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

10. My favorite clothing stores are Bayo and Milk&Co.

11. ... but pants from HerBench fit me well too. :D thank goodness for petite sizes! The prices don't break my piggy bank too.

12.On Good Fridays, I am on a real food fast: I couldn't eat anything because the food all have some crustaceans or cephalopods in them (and I the only seafood I can eat are molluscs). I just drink water all day...

13. I wanted to learn to speak and read in Italian because of the food.

14. I don't appreciate commercialised beaches... there are just too many sunburned people and overcrowded shops... why can't they leave the shores alone?!

15. There is one thing on my to-do list for countries I want to visit: Thailand, ride an elephant; England, see the royal guard; China, climb the great wall; Peru, see the Incan ruins; Australia, see a kangaroo and a koala; Japan, see Mount Fuji; Denmark, see the statue of the little mermaid... the list goes on and on... and so far, only the kangaroo and the koala have been crossed off my list.

16. The fastest way for me to get familiar with a city is to walk in it... and I usually visit the free tourist spots first. Hence the early visita iglesia in Brisbane (although I visited Anglican churches), the scenic walk along the narrow alleys of Nottingham, the hike in Hong Kong... and who can forget the afternoon strolling tour of San Francisco?!

17. When Mayor Alfredo Lim ordered the removal of the eyesores along the Baywalk, I was one of the very few happy people.

18. The first time I saw a shooting star, I thought that it came too late... my wish became true a few hours earlier.

19. I always forget to check the weather before I travel... and bring clothes that are not warm enough for winter or are too thick for summer. BUT, the umbrella is always in my pack.

20. My favorite cartoon character is Bugs Bunny. I even have Bugs Bunny house slippers with me when I travel! 

21. To get cheap glassware for Microbiology lab class, I used to travel to Bambang by light rail, and get huge discounts (thus, the expected group expenditure was cut almost by half).

22. I accidentally made a friend an example of a case of schizophrenia... within his earshot! Sorry!

23. Four hours before I defended my undergraduate thesis in 2002, I had to keep walking up and down four flights of stairs to calm the nerves, and did not eat a meal to avoid upsetting my stomach... Six years later, I still need to walk a lot before I talk in front of a crowd, and I still don't eat anything.

24. The mice (for the computer) that I use at work are sometimes left-handed...

25. I don't drink alcoholic beverages.

Palm Sunday in Victoria

Nope, not Victoria in Australia.

I was over in Victoria, Laguna on April 5, 2009 and took photos during the Palm Sunday festivities, just like a typical tourist... after being lost by following the arrows round and round the town. :)

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Chip Tsao controversy

A controversial Chinese writer, Chip Tsao wrote the article "War at Home," (please click the title to read it) which was supposedly a satirical look at the Spratly Islands issue. He mentioned that the Chinese didn't mind that the Russians sank a Chinese boat because the former leaders of Russia were the ideological models of the Chinese government; the Chinese didn't mind the Japanese claim on one of their islands because they love Hello Kitty. However, they would not tolerate a claim on the Spratlys from the Philippines, a nation of servants. And that is because a substantial percentage of Hong Kong household help are Filipinos.

No wonder the Filipino blood is boiling once again. True, a lot of Filipinos working abroad do the "demeaning" jobs to feed their families. It is also correct that most of these overseas Filipino workers are in the home management profession. Otherwise, they are in the medical field, which also takes CARE of other people. However, these facts do NOT give him the right to put down Filipinos, or whatever nationality his household help could be (once the Filipina leaves him).

I guess he thought Filipinos are as meek as his domestic helper and hadn't expected the global scale of negative reactions. He forgets, or doesn't know, that when push comes to shove, and when they feel that they have been wronged, Filipinos will get vengeance, as demonstrated in the history books. 

No matter how small or how poor a nation is, it has the right to safeguard its claimed territory. The Philippines was exercising its right to guard its waters in the South China Sea. And it will insist on exercising this right even if its daughters and mothers care for the children and the elderly of other nations. It is the Filipino hand which rocks the cradle, and will rule the world one day (as the oft-quoted title of the William Ross Wallace poem says).

Was his article humorous? Countries who send out their citizens to do the dirty work wouldn't think so. Regardless of the nation subject to his biting sarcasm, his article is indeed a racial slur; there is no point in pretending that it was written in jest, as his public apology weakly insisted. No matter what his intentions were, his words were taken as insults. His purpose in writing the article is never as important as its effects on the audience, a point Vicki Wilde (of the CGIAR's Gender and Diversity Program) emphasises in her talks on gender and race equality. 

Is his public apology enough? The Philippine politicians don't think so. They might file a case against him. Honestly, I think he should do his maid's duties on top of his job to realise what a pompous ingrate he really is. 

Thursday, April 2, 2009

youtube down under

Google has announced a new way of viewing YouTube. Here: 

To view this conveniently, Google has issued some easy-to-follow instructions:

Get it yet?


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Where in the world is San Serriffe?

A tropical paradise. Home to the kwote bird. A melting pot of foreign cultures (Europeans, Creoles, Malaysians, Arabs, and Chinese) blending seamlessly with the inhabitants of the islands, the Flongs. 

San Serriffe is an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, somewhere close to the Seychelles Islands. There are two main islands: Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse. The nation was first featured in 1977 by The Guardian, a British newspaper, which is quite fitting because the island nation resembles a semi-colon. In that year, San Serriffe was celebrating its 10th year anniversary, and was inviting investors and visitors from the UK.

The main exports of the island nation are steel, phosphate, and oil, with tourism contributing also to the economy. And the plus side is that there is no risk of being kidnapped because terrorism is said to be eliminated in the islands. Pristine beaches and air-conditioned hotels dot the coastline while modern highways make travel across the islands a breeze.

Going there may prove to be a challenge, however. Due to the rapid erosion of sand on the western coasts of the islands, and its accumulation on the eastern coasts, San Serriffe is moving at a rapid rate across the water. It is estimated to collide with Sri Lanka in 2011 if nothing is done to slow down the movement.

With the summer at hand, this place must be a great holiday destination. 

Interested? For more information, check out:

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Reference (see the link below):