Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Too fast, too furious

July 18, 2010

Open road at last, after hours of bends and curves. Both lanes were empty on many of the long stretches. Ideal conditions for driving beyond the speed limit.

A white two-door sports car came out of nowhere and zoomed past, the driver seemingly oblivious to the less than favourable weather conditions.

... crazy driver. One wrong move and it's game over...

Hours later, a car of the same make and colour lay on the side of the SCTEX. It had met a road accident, colliding with a black Montero Sport. Both vehicles were pretty banged up. Hopefully, nobody was hurt in the incident. 

Monday, July 19, 2010


Max's Fried Chicken went all out: in it's most recent promo offer, diners had to pay Php165.00 and they could eat chicken to their hearts' content (and until they've had their stomachs' fills) from 6pm to 10pm. 

On the last Friday of the promo (July 16th), Donald, Lea, Jhoanne, Crystal, and I went to Max's in Pansol, Calamba to check it out. The restaurant was so full! There were so many customers that we had to wait for seats and then wait for our chicken. 

With so many chicken calls all around, the servers couldn't help but be wiped out by the time we started dinner. 

The gap in between chickens was quite long that it was challenging for Donald to eat all the chicken he planned to eat.

The evening crowd, mainly yuppie groups and families, was quite rowdy. The sosyal atmosphere that I've always known in Max's was not there that night. It all depends on the crowd... and on the servers (who performed a well-received dance routine).

I loved the way the fried chicken was cooked that night: not too dry and not soggy. However, I'm not sure I'd go for another eat-all-the-chicken-that-you-can spin. After eating two chicken quarters (both fried), I started to feel uneasy, and I attribute that to all the cooking oil I ingested. It kept me awake all night.

Little did I know that the next two days would involve quite a number of chicken meals.

Friday, July 16, 2010

After Typhoon Conson (Basyang): Calamba

Typhoon Conson is the first typhoon that made landfall in the Philippines. And what a way to start this year's storm season: the typhoon, predicted to hit Central Luzon, swerved south and hit Laguna instead! The typhoon was not along the leagues of Parna, Ketsana, or Mirinae (which ravaged Luzon one after the other last year), but it did damage the towns within its path.

After the storm, I was on my way to work when I had a chance to see what happened to my home town. 

There was mud everywhere. This was taken in Barangay Halang.

The waters rose (so what else is new?) in Barangay Pansol.

And the most surprising of all: A billboard metal frame crumpled in the face of the typhoon 
and punctured the roof of a nearby restaurant!

Sadly, this storm left the Philippines with casualties. Someone was swept in a flash flood in Los Banos (near IRRI) and his body was scooped off in Bay (near Laguna de Bay). Fishermen in coastal towns of Quezon (or Bicol?) were killed when the winds violently churned the water. People were buried under landslides (in Laguna). Road infrastructure were deemed impassable in Mindoro. Electricity was cut off in most of Luzon island. 

The good thing, however, was that the public utilities and services were armed and ready to act in the aftermath of the typhoon. The electric company had restored services in 92% of the area. Water has started flowing through the mains. The army (or the policemen–I wasn't able to distinguish them) had servicemen help the residents of Pansol clean up the main road. 

The new president is reprimanding the weather bureau for wrong forecasts. PAGASA gave forecasts based on the existing mathematical models. These were PREDICTIONS with maps of probable path changes. If anyone has seen the 4PM weather bulletin (when Signal No. 2 was raised over Laguna), the map showed that the storm was going through Central Luzon (the solid line) while the bubbles surrounding this line represent possible path changes over Laguna and Metro Manila.

Chan's 2010 birthday

A week after my birthday, it was Chanthakhone's turn to celebrate. We were treated to a great lunch feast, courtesy of Tita Dory (and her household help). Tran, Dipti, and Chan prepared the dessert: a three-flavoured chilled gelatin (pandan, coffee, and coconut).

My 29th birthday dinner

July 3, 2010 fell on a Saturday. Despite being a weekend, my sister was away because of the Nursing Board Exam. I was home alone, without a birthday party plan. Just so I could say that I did celebrate my birthday, albeit by my lonesome, I went over to Red Ribbon at Waltermart Calamba for dinner.

The staff at Red Ribbon preferred not to serve cooked food anymore because they were about to close for the night. 

I had to convince them to serve the last available helping of spaghetti, telling them that my birthday celebration won't be complete without pasta. 

With the pasta came the chocolate cake, which was what I really came for. 

To top off my birthday dinner, I got myself a milkshake that looked a lot like chocolate mousse. 

Yummy! Happy birthday to me!!

Rochie in the city: Crosswalks

"Daddy, Mommy, who is Ped Xing? He's got a lot of streets named after him." 

I usually bugged my parents about these Ped Xing Streets whenever we travel along Taft Avenue. There, in black letters against a yellow background, were the signs that I had always thought was a name of some rich but unheard of Tsinoy who must have donated a whole lot of money to warrant recognition via a street named after him (or her). Years later, in college, as I was going to the Philippine General Hospital with my classmates, I noticed for the first time that the "street name" wasn't on a street perpendicular to Taft Avenue. Instead, it's above a crosswalk. Hmm... that's strange, I thought. Then it hit me.

Ped Xing wasn't a person. Ped Xing meant PEDESTRIAN CROSSING!!

The embarrassing part: I was thinking out loud. My classmates and one of my professors, who were in the van with me, actually heard me exclaim.

Really slow, Rochie, really slow.

Run times

The office mates are raring for the results. After scouring through 211 pages of names, I finally found ours! Here we go...

Crystal Concepcion    0: 46: 58
Jun Madrid                 0: 49: 15
Cindy Llorente           0: 50: 43
Riz Calingacion          0: 51: 39
Ferdie Salisi               0: 52: 08
Lucy Samadio            1: 03: 02
Ana Genil                   1: 03: 05
Rochie Cuevas           1: 05: 33

Unfortunately, I haven't found the run times of Dara Daygon, Evelyn Navarro, Joram Daygon. May I have your bib numbers? Some numbers didn't have names on them, so I'll try my luck finding your records that way. =)

Fe did not cross the finish line within the time limit. But no worries; there were too many inconsiderate people in the 5k fun run that even experienced runners didn't get their desired pace and run times.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Rochie in the city: Big houses

June 2010
Mandaluyong City (I think)
Chalk shoot

I was instructed to go to an address in the city. I figured that it would be a lot easier for me if I rode public transportation to the area because it's not a place I'm familiar with. Once I got to the venue, I was surprised to see uniformed guards in what seems like a residential area... or I screwed up with the directions and went to the wrong side of EDSA.

(The following conversation was in Filipino. I just translated it in English.)

I approached a guard and asked, "Manong, is this the venue for the Chalk shoot?"

"Yes, this is the spot. Just go through that gate and pass the garden to reach the building with glass doors," one of the guards replied.

As I went deeper into the venue, I was starting to get confused. There were some big houses inside the area surrounding a cul-de-sac. On the other side of the venue, a garden was enclosed by a wall, reminding me of The Secret Garden. Remembering the private pools in Calamba City, the beach side resorts of Nasugbu, and the orchards of Los Banos, I went back to the guard and asked, "Is this place a resort?"

The guard replied, "No, it is not. It is a house."

A house?! Whoa! The owner of this place must be rich and, most likely, famous! I never met the owner, unfortunately, because my turn finished early.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Rochie in the city: Artichoke

October 2005.
Somewhere in California. 
My going-back-to-the-Philippines family dinner.

Inside a restaurant, I was given a helping of artichokes and I didn't know how to eat it!! I've seen the plant on the telly, so I thought I could handle it in person (without instructions). The artichoke looked like a regular vegetable, so I ripped a leaf off and started munching on it. Just as I was feeling that I must have done something wrong, my cousins Joycelynn and Donnell started the lecture.

Ate, this is how to eat an artichoke...

The demonstration came a tad too late. I was still munching on the fibrous bits of the leaf when they showed me that I was supposed to eat only the tender parts of the artichoke. 

Welcome to the city, Rochie!

Runner down!

The father of the late Remus Fuentes, who died during the 34th Milo Marathon Manila leg wrote an account about his son's last run. The article can be found in the link below:

Thanks, Anne Cercado, for sharing the link. 

May Remus rest in peace.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Running risks.

I have never taken a second look at a race form/waiver except to check if I have accomplished it properly. However, I changed my attitude about this after reading sad stories from the July 4 Milo Marathon Manila elimination

Point 6 in the declaration of fitness and waiver says:
"On behalf of myself, my heirs, and executors, I hereby waive and release all rights or claims for damages I may have... for any illness, injury, death, damage or loss I may sustain during, or as a consequence of the activity."

Oh, come on! Runners get wounds, sprains, fractures, torn ligaments, dehydration, or electrolyte imbalance... but I never thought people actually died in running events. I thought wrong. The most tragic of these stories was that a 21km participant collapsed on his last 1km. It's literally his last. He passed away 48 hours later due to multiple organ failure. May his soul rest in peace.

His death is an eye-opener to the risks of such a strenuous activity. There's a list of reminders published specially for beginners (like me) on running safely:

Friday, July 9, 2010

Why did the 34th Milo Marathon 5k feel like a can of moving sardines?

I posted earlier that the 34th Milo Marathon on July 4th is the biggest race I've been to so far (note that this is only my seventh race ever, and my third 5k). When the race began, the sheer size of the green-clad crowd looked like a stampede waiting to happen. And stampede the runners did, just like antelopes in the African plains... at least for the first few metres. Afterwards, the recreational walkers and the fun runners slowed down to a stroll, and I bet they didn't get into the finish line under the time limit.

The stats (source: on the finishers show that indeed, the fun run (particularly the 5k) was like a tight pack of moving sardines:

 3k - 1471
 5k - 9840
10k - 1079
21k -   963
42k -   780

Those are just figures for FINISHERS. According to ManokanRunner's post, ( over 20,000 registered for the 5k event!

Staggering figures, right? The 5k category is surprising because there were simply so many people running... and it's NOT a competition!! Most probably, the people who normally opt for 3k upped their distance to 5k upon seeing that 3k in the Milo Marathon is for KIDS ONLY. 

With so many people, I was one of many runners that did not achieve our target paces and hence our target run times. I just wish that there was better crowd control in 5k... so many inconsiderate strollers in the middle of the road. Nevertheless, it was a good run for me; it's my post-birthday run after all. =)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Junk food off-limits

There's a canister of Pringles, unopened, on the dinner table!!

Excited, I walked over to see the other goodies my sister had left on the table. After seeing that the other items were all "healthy food"(she's cutting down her sugar intake), I decided to eat ice cream (which came free with the Whopper Jr. Meal at Burger King) before munching on the Pringles. The combination is not half bad, I thought. It is just like what I lived on for three years of graduate school (and predictably made me sick in 2007). 

However, just as I was about to open the canister, the flavour became revealed: soft-shell crab. I'm highly allergic to seafood (except molluscs––oysters, mussels), unfortunately. With a sigh, I put the canister back down and rummaged through the freezer again for another cup of ice cream. 

Today is not my day. Til next time, Mr. Pringles. We shall meet again.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Very Merry Unbirthday

I celebrated my birthday (with office mates) after the Milo Marathon, and not on my actual birthday. Thank you to everyone who gave the cake! It was a total surprise. =)

As they sang an abridged version of "Happy Birthday" while presenting my cake, I remembered the Mad Hatter's Unbirthday Song in the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland (1951). In the movie, Alice stumbles upon the outdoor party of the Mad Hatter, the Dormouse, and the March Hare. Realising that it's also her unbirthday, Alice joins the party. 

Here's how the Unbirthday Song goes:

A very merry unbirthday 

To me 

To who? 

To me 
Oh, you
A very merry unbirthday 
To you 
Who, me? 
To you 
Oh, me
Let's all congratulate us with another cup of tea 
A very merry unbirthday to you
Now statistics prove 
Prove that you've one birthday 
Imagine just one birthday every year 
Ah, but there are 364 unbirthdays 
Precisely why we're gathered here to cheer
A very merry unbirthday 
To me? 
To you 
A very merry unbirthday 
For me? 
For you 
Now blow the candle out, my dear 
And make your wish come true 
A very merry unbirthday to you

Grain Quality staff, family, and friends join the 34th Milo Marathon =)

The 34th Nat'l Milo Marathon Manila elims
July 4, 2010
Roxas Blvd (starting at Km 0)

Fe got the details and provided the registration forms. Dara and I once again submitted the papers on the day of the deadline; but this time, the queues were so long!! But no matter... I'm sure that the high turn-out during the registration period will make a lot of children  happy with spanking new green rubber shoes!!

The Grain Quality running "team" has ballooned from four (during the Walk the World event) to 12! That's because our walk has generated interested within the lab and with family. 

Today, the GQNPC runners were Jun, Ferdie, Ana, Lucy, Crystal, Fe, Dara, and me. Cindy, from CESD, was in the group as well. Dara was with her brother, Jorem; Riz and Evelyn, Fe's husband and sister, also joined the run. All of us registered for the 5k fun run. 

NOTE: 5k is a non-competitive category, and most of us just wanted to finish the race in under an hour. Participants who didn't finish within the time limit didn't get a certificate (and after all that effort too!).

The Milo Marathon is the biggest running event I've been to so far. Driving to Manila was a breeze, because we were on the road before dawn. However, the sheer number of participants and the rerouting along Quirino Ave. made the last leg of the drive challenging. For me, the competition began even before we started running. I had to up my defensive driving skills in Manila's narrow streets and we had to get parking spots fast. On the race route itself, I had to dodge my way to the finish line because we were literally running in a sea of green-shirted participants.

Overall, it's a great event. I enjoyed running on Roxas Blvd. immensely. The timing was great too. I'm considering this event my big belated-happy-birthday run (complete with a post-run birthday brunch with cake!). What a way to cap off my birthday week.


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Senate Bill for left-handed people!

I am left-handed. 

With many left-handed students, I had suffered the difficulties of writing using armchairs and notebooks designed for right-handed students. Back then, I just learned to adapt with the right-handed school supplies and how to write with the right hand (the penmanship is utterly hopeless though). Thankfully, my parents are forward-thinkers, in the sense that they never forced me to write or use the spoon with my right hand. They also permitted me to explore different notebook types because the conventional ones were hard to write on for lefties. I'm sure that the other lefties had some way to adapt to the conditions in school.

Lefties are disadvantaged in school, deemed Senator Lito Lapid, who drafted Bill No. 210 called "An Act Instituting a Comprehensive and Holistic Framework and Programs for Left-handers and for Other Purposes" also known as the "Comprehensive Left-handedness Act of 2007".  He refiled this bill in the 15th Congress (2010).

It's interesting to learn that a bill is actually written for us, the left minority. It includes provisions for:
  1. Establishment of a Philippine Handedness Research and Training Institute, which will be attached to the Department of Science and Technology. This institute is designed to understand handedness and to minimise the social and educational "discrimination" of lefties. The quotations are mine. I personally don't feel any discrimination because of my handedness.
  2. Information, education, and communication campaigns for left-handers. The objective of this campaign is to stop people from forcing lefties to learn to write using the right hand and the forced use of right-handed arm chairs. I just find it weird that educational materials have to be developed for teachers to easily identify the lefties. Wouldn't a pencil do?
  3. Celebration of National Handedness Week every first week of September. I don't know what to say!
  4. Left-handed educational materials and facilities. These include left-handed desks and educational materials such as those used in sports, music, and the arts. I couldn't agree more. It's hard to play softball with gloves designed for righties. It may be difficult for a lefty to learn how to play the guitar from a right-handed teacher. It's a challenge to write on a desk designed for righties. 
  5. An annual conference on handedness which will be a venue of communication among school administrators, policy makers, academicians, and others.
Some people, particularly the right-handed ones, may think that the draft is really dumb. However, as a left-handed girl who has gone through the educational system using right-handed tools, I find that I agree with it and I will support it, provided that some improvements be made on the provisions. 

Your thoughts?

License renewal bloopers

I had to renew my driver's license today since it's expiring tomorrow. When I had lost the 2007 card in late 2008, I applied for a duplicate card in Las Pinas (because my 2007 card was issued in Alabang) and it took a whole day to get it... only to find out that my middle name was misspelled! Hence, another objective today was to get that name fixed.

The Land Transportation Office website ( instructs people who need to correct their names to bring the following:
  1. Current driver's license
  2. Original and photocopy of the applicant's birth certificate
  3. Accomplished "Application for Driver's License" form
An unexpected requirement was the "Affidavit of Discrepancy", which outlines what corrections must be done on my license. I wish the LTO had that listed down so I could have gotten the document in advance! Nonetheless, after a few hours, my name's spelling is now correct. 

As I walked back to the waiting area after the photo- and signature-taking, I was surprised to be called back to Window 4. The sharp-eyed LTO evaluator in Calamba found another error committed most likely by the Las Pinas field office staff: I was listed as MARRIED!! Waah, I had to pay for another affidavit of discrepancy?!?

Sakit sa ulo!!

Apparently, civil status has a one-way update only: once you're in the married list, you can't go back to the single list. That means I couldn't change my status even with the paperwork. After assuring me that civil status is only reflected in the records and not in the license card, Mr. Evaluator told me that once I get married for real, he'll just change my surname after seeing the marriage certificate (provided that he's still manning Window #4).

In the morning, I set out to fix my name's spelling. In the afternoon, I ended up discovering that I'm already married, in the LTO records anyway. Tsk.

Driver's license po ang pinapabago ko; hindi po ako nakuha ng marriage license.

Friday, July 2, 2010

I am a blood donor =)

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.  
– Winston Churchill

Sleep hours... check!
Food and drink... check!
Weight... check!
Blood pressure... check!
Hemoglobin... check!

All these conditions conspired to allow me to donate blood earlier. Sticker # 2 on my yellow Red Cross blood donor card proves it. =)

Altruism day on my birthday week? Perhaps. I'm happy that I have the capacity to help someone out with the 450 cc blood I had given earlier. Plus, donating blood is said to be a healthy practice because it stimulates bone marrow production. 

Phlebotomist. A person whose expertise is blood extraction (such as in blood donations).

Save lives, half a litre at a time

In the spirit of today's blood drive sponsored by IRRI, the Rotary Club of West Bay, and the Philippine National Red Cross, here are some useful tidbits to make blood donating less intimidating:

Do you qualify?
  1. Are you in good health?
  2. Are you between 16 and 65 years old?
  3. Do you weigh at least 110 lbs (49.9 kg)?
  4. Is your blood pressure normal? The acceptable range is: systolic = 90–160 mmHg; diastolic = 60–100 mmHg.
If you answer YES to all these questions, prepare for the blood donation.

Before donating blood...
  1. Have enough sleep.
  2. Do not drink alcohol a day before donating.
  3. Do not take medications a day before donating.
  4. Eat before donating, but avoid fatty food.
  5. Drink lots of fluids.
On blood donation day...
  1. Answer the donor registration form.
  2. Pass the physical exam. Blood pressure, pulse and weight are measured. 
  3. Pass the blood test. This includes blood typing and assessment of hemoglobin.
  4. Congratulations! Sit back and relax while a phlebotomist begins taking blood from you. It takes about 10 minutes to get 450 cc of whole blood.
  5. After the extraction, enjoy the munchies and the drinks while the doctor observes your reaction post-donation. If you turn pale while eating, the doctor will make you sit (or lie down, if a mattress is available) for a few more minutes.
After the blood donation...
  1. Drink lots of fluid.
  2. Avoid strenuous activities (lifting heavy objects, driving vehicles, operating machinery, etc.).
  3. Avoid overworking the punctured arm.
  4. If you feel dizzy, lie down and elevate your feet.
  5. In case of bruising at the site of the puncture, apply a cold compress for 24 hours and then a hot compress for the next 24 hours.
Whole blood extraction can be performed every three months. 

The Philippine Red Cross issues donor cards (colour-coded for each blood type) where your blood type and the details of your donation are indicated. These cards can be given to people who need to withdraw blood from the Red Cross blood bank. 

A great way to save lives, right?