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Showing posts from March, 2010

Lunch at Ala Fiesta

I left Padre Garcia, Batangas at 11.00AM on my way to Los Banos, Laguna. Because of the long travel time, I was just supposed to eat my lunch on the road (read: the classic cheeseburger meal). The Jollibee road signs led me to the Fiesta Mall (Lipa City, Batangas). All set to join the queue in Jollibee, my curiosity was piqued when I saw the restaurant across it: Ala Fiesta.

I was a head of the lunchtime rice-eating crowd; no long queues and the staff was very quick at serving the food. Ala Fiesta offers all-day breakfasts, so I bought the bangsilog (with garlic rice, sunny-side-up, and atchara). It's version is so tasty and filling: I found that the daing na bangus paired so well with the pickled red peppers that having that extra rice was a right decision.

The menu items are not very pricey as well: I spent Php119.00 for bangsilog, extra rice, pineapple juice, and soup. Plus, I had a relatively healthier lunch than what I had in mind. I just wish there was a vegetable side dish to…

The rise of HIV awareness

Forget regret, or life you're sure to miss. No other road, no other way; no day but today. – Jonathan Larson, Finale B (Rent)
Late Thursday night, as I was driving home from work, I tuned in to Raffy Reyes on Heard on Thursdays (RX 93.1). The guest that night was Wanggo Gallaga, who lives with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
What, HIV again?!
Yes, it seems the topic is making the rounds these days, or at least I've been seeing it more often.

First, there was Freddie Mercury, the late front man of the band Queen. On the anniversary of Live Aid 1985, I read up on the band's performance and started watching its performances and MTVs on YouTube. I watched the last music video he recorded, These Are The Days of Our Lives, where he looked really gaunt; black and white photography and bright stage lights didn't hide his exhaustion. He succumbed to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) a few months later, at 45 years of age.
Second, there was Rent. The bohemian li…


Right after posting about punctuation (thanks to a book I am currently reading at leisure, "Eats, Shoots and Leaves"), I got called for MISSING a missing comma!
Flashback (1997-1998): Once upon a time, the Advanced English class staffed  The Ruralite, the school organ of U.P. Rural High School. Ms. Connie Apalin-Gaffud, the adviser during my time, always reminded the staff that the last person to see a publication's proof before it hits the press is responsible for last-minute checking of really obvious errors (normally on spelling or grammar in titles and captions). At one point, I was tasked to bring the Junior-Senior Prom program to the press for printing. Before going there, at least three people reviewed the text; all agreed that it was ready to print (including me). Nobody noticed that one of the names in the program was wrong. I was reprimanded for not spotting the mistake before the program was mass produced.
Fast Forward to 2010, deja vu moment: Thirteen years lat…

Sensible Punctuation

A panda that entered a restaurant, ordered food, and ate there. After finishing up, the panda stood up and fired a gun in the air before moving out of the restaurant. The waiter, confused, asked the panda why he did that. The panda handed him a wildlife manual and said, "I'm a panda, look it up." The waiter flipped the pages to the panda entry: "Panda. A black-and-white bear-like mammal, native of China. Eats, shoots and leaves."

I came across this joke in the book entitled "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" (by Lynne Truss) in February 2005, but I am reading it again this month just for kicks (it is really a humourous book, though reading it helps me with writing papers). The contents give me dizzying visions of red ink swirling over pages and pages of my theses (B.Sc. and Ph.D.) drafts.

As I delved deeper into reading this book, I realised that my academic supervisor, Prof Bob Gilbert, had also kept reminding his students, me included, on how to properly use …

Anilag 2010

March 7, 2010.

Ate Madie, Trisha, and I dropped by the province capitol to peek at the activities that day in the Anilag Festival. We were there just in time to watch the "Mardi Gras" presentation: dancers representing the different towns comprising Laguna performed their interpretations of the Anilag theme song.
Beyond the Mardi Gras was the trade fair. Each town had a booth showcasing products that had made the place famous. For instance, Sta Cruz featured white cheese, Binan had rice cakes, San Pablo had a hut made of coconut husk, and Pagsanjan had waterfalls. Paete displays all had extremely colourful crafts while Lumban featured pandan.

Review: Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Rating:★★★Category:MoviesGenre: Kids & Family
When I first heard that Alice in Wonderland was going to be made into a movie, I couldn't imagine anyone playing the Mad Hatter other than Johnny Depp. My hunch was right! He did portray the Mad Hatter, and succeeded in putting some sense to all the craziness under his top hat.
Audiences unfamiliar with the characters from "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" not featured in the original Disney animation would not be able to follow the plot fully; and like me, may need to have a repeat screening to understand the story.
Set thirteen years after Alice's first trip down to Wonderland, the movie tells about her return. Alice meets a lot of the characters from her previous visit (the blue Caterpillar, the March Hare, the Dormouse, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the White Rabbit, and the Cheshire Cat). Together, they rescue Underland from the evil clutches of the bratty Red Queen.
Still a fun movie t…

Gawad Youth 2010: Awarding Ceremonies

The Awarding Ceremonies were held on March 11 at the Laguna Cultural Centre. My parents and my siblings were unable to attend the ceremonies, but Ate Madie, Trisha, Tita Mely, and Tita Lucy went with me. =) When we arrived, I heard people asking my aunts if I was the scientist because they saw my signature (a lot of people scanned my portfolio?!?).
Winners in other categories were really impressive. I couldn't believe I joined the ranks of heroes and of famous people I only normally see on the television or read about in the newspapers. I couldn't recall the names of the firemen and policemen who were all involved in the search and rescue operations in different towns after floods wreaked havoc all over Laguna in 2009. Other awardees included Jiggy Manicad (GMA) and Sol Aragones (ABS-CBN), broadcast journalism; Lahing Kayumanggi Dance Ensemble, dance; Maria Rachelle Gerodias, music; Irma Dimaranan, film and television; Ricamela Palis, cultural educator; Susan Ong, landscape arc…

Gawad Youth 2010: Panel Interview

A week after I submitted my portfolio, a representative of the Selection Committee called up to inform me that I was a finalist, and I was up for interview on March 3rd at the provincial capitol. 
When I got there, I met the other four finalists. Two of them are teachers; one in high school, and the other in university. One of them is a member of a dance troupe. The other one is a budding politician.
This photo was taken right before the panelists began with the interview portion. While one was on the hot seat, the others were downstairs, talking. As it turned out, all of us learned about the award when the forms were handed over. Plus, we did not realise that the interview is part of the competition. It was very to easy to build rapport with the finalists, hence the difficulty in remembering that we're competing.
When my turn came up, I was faced with the challenge of making the interviewers appreciate what I do as a scientist since I don't think any of them is into starch chemi…

International Women's Day 2010

Selected shots from the panel discussion on March 8, 2010, focusing on the challenges and opportunities of being a woman in science.

Flowers were given to the non-GQNPC member of the cast, who lent their talents to make the music video (I Am (Stereotyped) Woman) a reality. I took zoomed in photos to (ambitious, even without a macro lens) capture the central parts of the flowers.

Leo took photos of the panel discussion.

Gawad Youth 2010: My Application

I know I haven't told many people about me participating in the competition. I had kept it very close to heart until the awarding ceremonies. So now that the results are known, I thought I might share my experiences during the competition.
Each year, the Anilag Festival recognises residents in Laguna who have excelled in their chosen fields. This year, Ate Madie and Ginny (my cousins) convinced me to join, effectively nominated me into the competition. Nominees were given a week to organise a portfolio of their achievements, obtain letters of recommendation and clearances from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and provide an executive summary of their achievements. Here's the catch: everything needed to catch the Selection Committee's attention should be fitted into 20 pages, max.
I thought these things would be easy enough to gather. However, as I was gathering my documents, I realised that it wasn't as easy as I thought it was. My papers were in disarray; get…

2010 Gawad Natatanging Lagunense (Outstanding Lagunense Awards)

I was officially star-struck being in the same table as Jiggy Manicad, having a photo with Sol Aragones (both awardees for broadcast journalism), and being on stage with Gov. Ningning Lazaro and other officials at the provincial level. To top that all off, I had the pleasure of being among the five finalists for the Gawad Natatanging Kabataan (Outstanding Youth Award)... and ultimately getting the prize.
High heels and long gown didn't stop me from taking photos, but I couldn't move too much with my talent of tripping over stairs, so Ate Madie shared the picture-taking assignment with me. =)
Thank you to Ate Madie and to Ginny for getting me involved in this competition; and to Bob and Melissa for the glowing commendations; and to my stage aunts (the stage mother called up right after the ceremonies) for being there with me.

I Am Woman

In the beginning, I've never heard of this song. However, preparations for Melissa's talk for the International Women's Day celebration at work acquainted the women in the lab with the song.
As it turns out, in the 70s, the song "I Am Woman" (Helen Reddy and Ray Burton, Capitol Records) was the battle cry of the women's liberation movement in the developed countries. Forty years on, a lot has improved in terms of how much more visible women are in various fields dominated by men. However, the lyrics remain relevant because there are still many challenges faced by women in the workplace and in society (specially in very traditional and conservative societies).
The original lyrics are found below. 
I am woman, hear me roar In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an' pretend
'cause I've heard it all before And I've been down there on the floor No one's ever gonna keep me down again
Oh yes I am wise But it's wisdom born of pain Ye…

Behind the Scenes of "I Am (Stereotyped) Woman"

Stills left from the cutting room floor (and not featured in the "Dara's cut") during post-production of the adaptation of the Helen Reddy-Ray Burton 1972 hit, "I Am Woman" (adaptation written by Melissa).

We had a blast working on this project. I hope that the audience during Melissa's seminar enjoyed watching it as much as we had making it.

Cat-person watches Marley & Me

... and got moved to tears. The movie isn't exactly a new one, but I was only able to watch it on cable today. It's a story about the ups and downs of a family and its unruly pet, Marley, that the family had grown to love. That is why parting was quite hard.
What made this cat-lover cry? When the vet told Marley's owner that his sickness would kill him eventually, the owner couldn't accept what the vet had said, and insisted that the dog was a fighter. This part of the movie hit so close to home. 
I remember bringing Coogee (one of the family cats) to two vets. The first one said that as long as his appetite was good, he'd survive (though with paralysed hind legs and tail). At the same time, she recommended having him x-rayed to find the injury. The second vet, upon seeing Coogee's x-ray film (showing a dislocated vertebra), told me that his was a hopeless case because the paralysis would ascend eventually; it's better to put Coogee to sleep. 
Like any typical…

Rain, or the lack of it.

Rain, rain, go away Come again another day Little children want to play.
Be careful with what you wish for; you just might get it. 
Indeed, after a year of excessive precipitation, people wishing that it stops got exactly what they wanted: no rain. With that, however, came WATER SHORTAGE. Now, we are looking at what is fast becoming a very hot and very dry summer. The thermometer registered 35.5 deg C on March 3, the hottest day in Metro Manila so far (it's even hotter up north, I bet). Unthinkable, since summer has barely begun in the tropics. Quite interesting development because just a few weeks back, Baguio City and La Trinidad Valley were experiencing a cold spell, with frost that had threatened vegetable production.
The soil is so dry these days, particularly up the northern portion of the Philippines' eastern seaboard. Another challenging season for agriculture.
I hope the rain clouds come soon.

Paper #3 accepted!! (Updated)

I thought finishing my first ever 3k, with my shoes falling apart while I was running, was the highlight of my Tuesday afternoon; but I was way wrong. Later in the evening, Dr Fitzgerald relayed the news: Paper #3 has been accepted!! This paper comes relatively soon after my first two journal articles have been accepted in January 2010, proofs of which are now currently being corrected, or are in the queue in the journal's publication offices. Please check out the link:

 As with the previous two papers, I'm excited to see the third one in the "Articles in Press" page of the Carbohydrate Polymers website. The link to the abstract is now available. Here are some of the details:

Cuevas, R.P., R.G. Gilbert, M.A. Fitzgerald. (in press). Structural differences between hot-water-soluble and hot-water-insoluble fractions of starch in waxy rice (Oryza sativa L.). Carbohydrate Polymers.

On to paper #4!!

Mount Makiling sunset

Prepping for this year's IRRI fun run (my first 3k), I had the great opportunity to see the sun set behind Mount Makiling; it's something I rarely see because I don't normally go out of the lab at sunset. I vowed that the next time I get out at that time, I would take a photo of the sunset. And here it is:

I loved the contrast of the warm yellows and the cool blues against the silhouette of the mountain side. Now I wonder why I've never jogged at sunset before.