Saturday, October 30, 2010

Ambulance personnel cried wolf.

There was a long and slow traffic queue one morning this week. An ambulance of the PCSO drove past with blaring sirens and flashing lights. Naturally, the drivers of the other vehicles made room for the ambulance... it must have been on its way to, or already carrying, a patient in critical condition. 

I caught up with the ambulance at the railroad just past the Calamba City Hall. The patient must be somewhere up the tracks. Good thing the ambulance got there fast, I thought. However, as I was getting past the ambulance, I noticed a passenger, who looked like an MD, buying pako, a type of fern which can be eaten, at a roadside shop; there's no emergency after all! Frankly, I was upset with the EMTs and who appeared to be an MD in that ambulance.

Kuya, mahiya-hiya ka naman. Wala palang emergency e. Ginamit mo pa ang ambulansya para mag-shopping sa tabing kalye. Tsk.

The "no sirens" policy of President Aquino allows emergency vehicles such as ambulances, police cars, and fire trucks to retain their sirens and flashy lights. However, with people abusing these visibility devices (to get out of traffic, in this case), other motorists couldn't help but be cynical whenever they hear the sirens. 

Gusto lang nila makalusot sa traffic e, wala namang pasyente. Wag nga palusutin. 

Many years ago, I've heard a jeepney driver mumble something to this effect on the day that there was a traffic gridlock in Halang, Calamba and a massive fire going on somewhere (I was a passenger in the jeep). Ambulances, fire trucks, and police cars were all stuck in traffic at the intersection and no one was interested to give way. I wonder what time the emergency responders arrived at the destination.

They're just like the boy who cried wolf.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


This is Wile E. Coyote without the humour.

Kids, don't try this at home. Please. Dream of something else. Don't waste your life on nothing.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bhutan: Tsunami from the Sky

I never realised that people in the highlands are affected by melting glaciers. This video is an eye-opener for me. Brought to us by the United Nations.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Extreme Photographers

If I can't be one of them, I'll just read about them.

I am amazed with the amount of risk and effort photographers take to get that single shot that lands on the covers of magazines and newspapers. Since I'm treating photography as a hobby and a leisurely pastime, I'm content to continue dreaming of having even just one of my photos (or of me... kahit singit lang sa picture) featured in the National Geographic Magazine. 

Here are some great photos of photographers who I am a fan of (this list will grow, as I discover the people behind my favourite photos). These photos are not arranged in any particular order.

I saw a feature on Discovery Channel about how the great white shark captures seals off the coast of Seal Island in South Africa. In this photo, shark expert and photographer Chris Fallows had taken position on a "seal sled" to be as close as possible to the water surface as a shark breaches a few feet from him, attacking a seal decoy. How crazy could anyone get?!?

Photographers seem to thrive with lots of risk, like Mount Pinatubo's eruption in June 1991. At the time, I was just learning how to use the first SLR I've ever used (which is my Dad's, naturally). When I saw the explosion's picture, which has been attributed to Jing Magsaysay, I was amazed... How could anyone take a photo in such a frightening moment?!? 

I bought a book called "Photographing Your Family" by Joel Sartore (a photographer for the National Geographic). I was blown away by this picture of him with a crocodile. I've always thought that photographers used zoom lens and stayed far away from wild animals during a shoot, but this photo proved me wrong.

The "Afghan Girl" is a photo that caught my eye while browsing through past issues of National Geographic magazines (this was a 1985 cover) in a book shop along Grove (just outside UPLB) back in high school. The girl in the picture was so young; I couldn't begin to imagine what teenage life was like in a war-torn country or in a refugee camp. Steve McCurry, the photographer, chanced upon her in a camp in Pakistan. For so long, she lived in anonymity as her picture enthralled the world. Decades later, the photographer was able to find her and put a name to the face. She is Sharbat Gula.

(Investigating a camera. Butbut, Tinglayan, Kalinga. 1948.

A visit to the Mountain Province in 2000 introduced me to the historical works of Eduardo Masferre, whose photos of the Cordilleran culture in the 1930s to the 1950s have been catalogued in different museums worldwide. He was able to document festivals, traditions, and day-to-day activities of the people of the mountains. A lot of these photos were on display in the Masferre Inn (Sagada) and in the Bontoc Museum in 2000. My interest was piqued, specially since the movie Mumbaki had been aired a few years earlier. I just wonder why I've never encountered his work earlier on (especially in museum trips in Manila). A great Filipino artist.


My hunt for business attire began earlier than I expected.

Skirt suits.

I was limited to getting conservative pieces, with conventional palettes and silhouettes. My golden brown patterned pantsuit (the first I ever bought specifically for a conference), I thought, was a bit on the edgy side of business formal, and might not be appropriate. My bright pink skirt suit wouldn't work either. So I decided to go on a suit expedition.

First attempt, Makati City on a Saturday. I had to check out the foreign labels (like Marks and Spencer, Zara, and Mango) after giving up on the bigger department stores. Defeated at the end of the day, I was almost willing to pay double of my budget if I could get skirt suits with the perfect fit (why pay more and then have the pieces altered?). However, I didn't find the perfect skirt suit. Bummer.

With the deadline closing fast, I decided to check out SM City Calamba during the following workweek. To my total surprise, I was able to find jackets, skirts, and blouses that fitted me well and were all within my budget. I was also able to avail of the 0% interest rate six-month installment promo! Success!


I'm the type of girl who knows the shoes I like when I see them, and not before. This makes shoe-shopping difficult for me. I didn't find anything I liked in SM Makati or in SM Calamba (I wasn't that lucky) when I dropped by. Just like my skirt suit search, I considered splurging on higher end brands (like my faves Via Uno, Rockport, Naturalizer, or Bass) as long as I was getting a comfy and elegant pair of black leather pumps. So far, however, the shoes just didn't blow me away...

Anyway, as the malls started started to close, I just had to stop and concede. The perfect pair of shoes will come eventually.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Review: Dinig Sana Kita (2009)

Genre: Independent

The story followed the first encounter and the development of friendship between a deaf dancer and a hearing rock musician. They could not have been more different. The deaf was abandoned as a child and grew up under the care of his special education teachers; the rocker lived with her parents who didn't seem to care about her. She took her private school education for granted; he was striving to get a good education. He longed for his biological family; she preferred to be in the company of her friends. Though different, they found that music, or the absence of aural perception of it, bound their lives together.

A beautifully depicted story. I want to watch it again!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Where On Google Earth Is This?

I don't know where it is, but I sure don't want to be caught in traffic there!!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

SM City Calamba now open

Yep, Calamba now has its very own SM City. There were a lot of people in the mall, Anna observed, as she went there to check out the shops in the afternoon. I then decided to visit, and buy groceries, during the last shopping hour, figuring that most of the first-day visitors would've left.

I got there at around 8.30pm, pleasantly surprised that the traffic wasn't jammed at the side entrance (the Calamba-Los Banos stretch of the National Highway). I bet however, that I wouldn't be able to say the same thing about the Real Road (where the main entrance is located). A lot of people were still inside, looking in the shops, but most people leaving the mall carried plastic bags from the supermarket or from the department store. Obviously, in this part of the province, the eco-friendly bag has yet to gain popularity (but I'm sure with the SM campaign for the use of the green bag, it will become a regular thing in Calamba).

The mall isn't too different from the other SM City branches I frequent, although it's smaller than the Sta Rosa and the Lipa branches (or was this an illusion due to the crowd). I should visit it again when the crowds have thinned, so I could visit the shops without being mauled by teenagers who want to see and to be seen on the escalators. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Jazzy days are here again =)

The service advisor at Honda Sta Rosa informed me on Monday morning that my car's repairs were finished!!! Yey! So I went there to get the car on Tuesday morning, raring to drive it again on the expressway and up the Jamboree road in Los Banos. Eager to drive off, I hurriedly checked the car:

New rear windshield... check!
Compartment door... check!
Car seat... check!
Side mirrors... check!
Rearview mirror... check!
Tires... check!

Starting the engine... ay, ayaw?!?... one more time... ayaw pa rin!

Hmm. My car wouldn't start; I asked the staff to check it out. Apparently, the battery died while the car was "confined". But not to worry, one service advisor said, after a jump start, the battery would be back to normal. 

He was so wrong. 

I was able to drive all the way to Los Banos (via the national road), and even made a stop at a bank. Then I went to a gas station inside UPLB to refuel. As I was leaving, the car battery died again! The helpful people at the gas station jump started my car, and then I proceeded to the nearest battery shop. It turned out that it was about time I replaced the battery; it was a almost three years old. As if the battery and the windshield weren't enough, the halogen bulb of the car's left headlight died Wednesday evening! I had it replaced Thursday. 

Nevertheless, the Jazz is back. =)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Viel's party

Oct 9, 2010.

Viel, my niece, celebrated her first birthday and her entry in to the Christian world. Ate Madie and I took over picture-taking duties, giving us perfect excuses for hounding the chocolate fountain. =)

Work in progress

The backyard is getting a makeover! =) greener in the coming days... thanks to the flower and garden show in UPLB.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Texting-while-driving to be outlawed in the Philippines

Rep. Tieng has filed House Bill 2136, also known as "An act to prohibit and penalise reading, composing, and sending electronic messages while driving, and for other purposes", on August 3, 2010. Philippine lawmakers have finally recognised the road safety risks arising from drivers being distracted behind the wheel. 

In the US, Oprah Winfrey has launched the "No Phone Zone" campaign this year (and has famous people supporting it). Several states have already passed laws banning texting, using the phone, and using headsets to handle calls while driving. Other countries in Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa also have laws in effect. 

I'm glad that the Philippine Congress is taking steps to curb the dangers of having distracted drivers on the road, following the footsteps of other nations. The Metro Manila Development Authority has expressed its support for this bill, while Makati and Quezon City have already passed ordinances totally banning the use of mobile phones while driving. 

I hope that this bill gets the support it needs in Congress and in the Senate, later on.

Friday, October 1, 2010

What rice do you buy?

Because I'm a heavy rice-eater, I often find that my work easily gets mixed with my social life. At reunions with family or friends, I normally get asked about my job.

What rice do you buy? 

That's normally the first thing I ask in an attempt to explain what I do. Without being too technical about my work: I'm looking for the reasons behind the overall texture (or mouthfeel) of cooked rice (mainly those from Southeast Asia and from Africa) and then determining the genetics behind these reasons. 

The typical reaction I get when I answer a question about what I do is, "So what? I don't really care about the rice I buy. I get what's available in the market." Hmm... this scenario is so different from what I'd expect from people whose lives are tangibly attached to the rice farm. I get the impression that a lot of the people I've talked with, most of whom are from the urban jungle, take rice for granted. 

Surely, however, these people have opinions about the rice they choose from the market. For instance, two of my friends (based outside the Philippines) were in town for a few days. I found out, over dinner, that they buy Thai jasmine rice. Both of them don't like the pre-packed microwavable rice that is also available on the shelves. According to them, they select the jasmine type because it is of high quality.

There's the magic word: QUALITY.

By good quality, they meant that the jasmine rice was aromatic and had good texture. Aha! Texture is important to them after all. More often than not, rice texture is hard to describe fully; it is the point at which people start to have a loss for words. After all, there's more to texture than the grains being either hard or soft. In the case of my two friends, they knew what they liked, they just couldn't describe it. This lack of texture descriptors certainly isn't limited to them. 

"So what?", they, and other people, have asked. Their difficulty in describing the texture of the rice they like is exactly why I am challenged with my job. There is a need to develop high-yielding rice whose grains are deemed good quality. That can only be achieved when breeders know exactly what they are searching for... and it's part of my job to find these aspects of texture.

Here's what I've learned (the most recent person to say this is Dr. RK Singh)  since I started:
Rice consumers, rich or poor, are picky when it comes to their rice.