Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Farewell, Sir Naranja!

The last time I caught up with Dr. Naranja was during the 2010 Anilag Festival. He was one of the judges in the garden show, I think.

He was the principal of UP Rural High School when I was studying there. My favourite memories of him were when he dropped by in the activities of the art club. The art club, with Sir Pierre as the adviser, worked very closely with him whenever the stage at the UPRHS Multi-Purpose Hall or at the DL Umali Auditorium needed to be decorated. Sir Naranja, quite intimidating during school hours when he was principal, was very approachable after hours when the sets were being built. Approachable and hands-on. He was ready to give his opinions about how the backdrops and the plants were supposed to be placed onstage. And in these activities, he acted like our batchmate (which was what he called himself on our graduation day in 1998), not like a teacher.

Last week, he passed on under the brutal hands of a still unidentified person. I hope that the killer gets caught ASAP and justice be served. Nevertheless, Sir Naranja lived a colourful life and mentored a lot of students both in high school and in college. His legacy lives on, not only in his students, but also in UPLB where his landscaping endeavours have made the campus a vibrant place to study and to work in.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Review: Band of Brothers (2001)

Genre: Drama

"Band of Brothers" followed the exploits of Easy Company of the 506th PIR, 101st Airborne Division during WWII. The soldiers came from different parts of the USA but were bonded forever by their experiences in the European Theatre of the war. The German general in the last episode could not have said it more eloquently. I'm sure Major Winters shared the same sentiments:

"Men, it's been a long war, it's been a tough war. You've fought bravely, proudly for your country. You're a special group. You've found in one another a bond that exists only in combat, among brothers. You've shared foxholes, held each other in dire moments. You've seen death and suffered together. I'm proud to have served with each and every one of you. You all deserve long and happy lives in peace."

The same must be said of the men and women of the Philippine armed forces who serve to protect our country... thankless and under-appreciated their job may be.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Review: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2008)

Genre: Drama

A difficult movie to watch. It's a World War II movie whose plot was set far from the battlefront, hence the lack of corpses. Though the Holocaust horrors were not shown, the outward appearance of orderliness in the concentration camp reflect German efficiency in eliminating the Jews. The movie also demonstrated that friendship knows no boundaries, whether ideological, racial, or physical. Case in point: these boundaries certainly did not avoid two lonely and trapped eight-year old boys from becoming friends.

To watch this newly formed friendship end in tragedy, as a consequence of racial discrimination, is just heart-breaking.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Thai food, on a tight budget

I tried out one of LB Square's newest restaurants tonight:

Tom yum is one of my comfort foods. When I first ventured into Sydney to attend school in 2006 (my first winter too, if I may add), I had to live alone in a terrace house since the residents were in Europe. New, by myself, and cold in a strange city, I was desperate to have a taste of home. And that quickly took the form of tom yum chicken, a dish very similar to sinigang. =) Thank you, Thai Times 9!!

So, for this evening, I just had to taste inthai2go's version of tom yum, which proprietors Abby Camus and Dina Josue say is authentic Thai. I've never been to Thailand, so I don't know what authentic Thai tom yum is like. Nevertheless, I found inthai2go's tom yum delicious, comparable to what I used to eat at Thai Times 9 and at Baan Thai (the Thai restaurant in Sta. Fe Subdivision, Los Banos); however, inthai2go's version had less vegetables, I think. 

The restaurant also serves spring rolls, fried rice with shrimp paste, stir fried noodles, and chicken wrapped in pandan... I haven't tried them yet, except for the spring rolls (which I found a bit too salty without the sauce). The red iced tea is not too sweet and reminded me of Tokyo Tokyo's iced tea.

inthai2go is found near the front of LB square, just beside myPad (which currently features a tarp of the upcoming Bamboo concert). The food comes in paper cups, for people to take out. And the best news: the food is "light on the pocket" (I'm quoting the restaurant's tagline).

Thursday, August 19, 2010

With the Bright Young Manila 2010 set

This post waited for some time before it's seen the light. I wanted my mom to see the article first (the magazine was sent via courier to her as soon as I got copies) before I post this entry here.

Advanced Happy Birthday, Mommy!! =)

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I knew it! The people I were with in June for the Chalk shoot were people Manila has to watch out for! Clifford Olanday wrote a very nice feature. Check them out in Chalk's August 2010 issue.

Thanks to the Chalk team for inviting me in this year's shoot, specially to Sara Aunario, the producer of the segment, Clifford for that very nice article, and to the photographer who had to put up with the extra challenge of giving me instructions while I was practically blind (I had to remove my eyeglasses). 

The vintage dress (I like!) is available at Sundae in The Collective; the pink jacket is available at TopShop, and the shoes are my sister's. I'm actually considering if I could pull off that ensemble (or something similar) in a conference (with more formal shoes, probably). Credits for the hair and make-up go to Bea and to Jim, respectively.

How I Met Your Mother

There's a sit com on cable called How I Met Your Mother where the main character shares to his children a long and convoluted tale of how he met their mother. I don't know what season is being aired in Star World these days, but the series will premiere the sixth season in September.

Thankfully, my parents' story of how they met each other is much shorter and simpler than the sit com. And it all began in grad school. At the De La Salle University's MBA program, to be specific. From there, the details become blurry, even to them! They know they were classmates, but they could not remember which class, and this is where the comedic bickering would start, as if on cue. One of them said they met in an accounting course, while the other countered and said they met in a history course. (They probably attended BOTH classes, and just forgot.) The story-telling usually ended with: Basta, sa La Salle kami nagkita.

So, that's the where (DLSU campus in Pasay City) and the when (period when both attended grad school, circa 1970s). They never got to the bottom of the how, though. 

Hence, the short and simple story of how my dad met my mom.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Plants changed the world

What was the driving force behind man's exploration of the unknown parts of the globe? Was it man's insatiable need to gain knowledge? Or was it man's strong sense of adventure? Was it, perhaps, man's greed–his selfish desire to have more?

Henry Hobhouse points out in his book "Seeds of Change: Six Plants that Changed Mankind" (second edition, 1993) that plants, not humans, transformed history. In the introduction, he said that a good example that set Europeans to the seas was pepper. The Europeans were in search of pepper which, in the old days, was the only way to add taste to very salty preserved meats. He who had pepper had control of the economy, most likely.

Indeed, this information agreed well with Philippine history lessons: the Spaniards were originally looking for the Spice Islands where pepper, and other spices, could be found in large quantities. They mistook the Philippines as the Spice Islands in 1521, and the rest is history.

The six plants that changed mankind, according to Hobhouse, were: quinine, tea, cotton, sugar, potato, and the coca plant. A motley crew of plants, right?

Apparently not. These plants have more in common than people think at first glance. All of these plants were involved in the economics and the politics that built the First World empires (but mainly the British Empire). Tea was widely planted in British-occupied South Asia and traded through the East India Company. Sugar was grown in plantations in the West Indies, thanks to British sweet tooth. Cotton textile production was a major industry in Great Britain thanks to large-scale cultivation in India, and sold by the East India Company (again!). Quinine, the botanical source of the antimalarial drug of the same name, was made available in the British colonies to keep both the land owners and the slave labourers alive, literally. Potato originated from Peru and arrived in Europe. In Ireland, famine caused by disease-infected potatoes forced a lot of people to migrate to North America and to Great Britain.

The strange thing about all this, I think, is that rice is glaringly absent in the discussion. Rice, which is the staple food of more than half the world's population was left out. Hobhouse probably did not deem rice as important as the potato, for instance, because it did not create as big an impact in the West as it did in Asia. Thus, the story presented in the book appears to be centered in Europe.

Despite the Western centricity of the account, the book is still informative. It presents history in a creative way, making people take a second look at the world they're living in now.

Friday, August 13, 2010

CATS and this week's last song syndrome


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T.S. Eliot's practical cats were brought to life by the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, and enchanted a whole lot of viewers during the Cats' stint in Broadway, in West End, and in other parts of the world. I finally understood what all the fuss was about when I watched the July 31 performance at the Cultural Centre of the Philippines.

Basically, the Jellicle cats gathered when the Jellicle moon was bright to celebrate the Jellicle Ball. At the end of the evening, Old Deuteronomy, the patriarch of the Jellicle tribe, had to select a cat who'd go the Heaviside Layer to be reborn into another Jellicle life. Several cats vying for that honour presented their cases. Then, a villainous cat kidnapped Old Deuteronomy. A great battle ensued, which ended in the cat-napper's demise. Mr. Mistoffelees, the conjuring cat, used his magical powers to bring back Old Deuteronomy to the Jellicle Ball. The patriarch ultimately selected Grizabella, the glamour cat who was past her prime, to go to the Heaviside Layer.

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Anna also watched the musical, but on a different day. I got the playbill; she got the soundtrack. And it ended up in my car's CD player. Listening to the soundtrack everyday for a week, I finally decided I liked best Rum Tum Tugger's song about Mr. Mistoffelees and Bombalurina and Demeter's song about the cat-napper, Macavity.

I liked the songs so much that I could still here Rum Tum Tugger singing even after I've changed CDs!!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Side effects of R stat software training

All week during R stat training, I got so accustomed to scrutinising each command by line. It was quite difficult because reading computer script is VERY different from reading normal literary text. So, during an afternoon break but still with the same read-one-line-at-a-time mindset, I focused on an announcement about a non-functional printer at the building where the stat training was being held:

Okay. Where else could files be sent for printing?

Huwaat?! If I want to print, I need to walk ten minutes under the scorching sun just to get what I printed?!?

However, CRIL (the research unit) has been transferred a few weeks ago to a different building because its old location in the DL Umali Lab (DLUL) is being converted into a facility for one of the other project groups at work. Anyone who isn't updated (and who reads this announcement only up to this point) might run all the way to DLUL and be surprised that the printer isn't there anymore.

For that unfortunate person, who did run to the other building, the next line will come as an ugly joke:

Where's the atrium building lobby?

The building where the training was being held was named after one of the former directors general of IRRI. I didn't know that this same building is also called the Atrium Building. So, where's the other printer?

It's right beside the unavailable printer (Ate Shiela, who's also attending the R training, worked that out based on the printer name)... Ayun! Pambihira!!

Our classmates were also laughing about this because we found the sign and the other printer's position a bit odd; I think we were all a bit stressed with R. The instructor, Ate Beng, remarked that her students must have had too much R.

Sometime later, the common sense kicked in. It was necessary to put those details on paper because people who needed to print on the network printer had to select the name of the printer on the left from a long list of network printers. 

I have to admit that I was totally distracted with the printer's location. So distracted that I didn't notice this: whoever wrote this announcement didn't use adverbs at all. I just realised this grammatical error the next day!

Lesson learned: Always bring some common sense during break time, especially when attending training sessions.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Good time with Lola Estay

One day, Lola Estay asked Anna to take her blood pressure. When Anna finished, she asked me to measure Lola's blood pressure just for confirmation. As I neared the instrument, Lola realised that I was going to take her blood pressure too.

Lola: Ay, bakit siya! Marunong ba siya? (with that she withdrew her arm)

Anna: Opo, Lola, marunong po siya. Doctor po siya.

Lola, Ganun ba? Eto ang braso ko. (and she extended her arm, ready for the arm cuff of the sphygmomanometer) .

Si Lola talaga!