Sunday, January 30, 2011

You've Got Mail (again)

This movie is one of absolute my favourites. A classic Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan rom-com. Seeing it again after a long time made me sit back and look beyond the plot. This time around, I felt that the movie was a time capsule, a historical mark to how different or similar things were just before the turn of the century.

Internet connectivity
When I first saw the movie, I didn't have internet connection at home and didn't even have an email address. Back in 1998, dial-up was the way to go to access the internet (at least in the Philippines I think). Yes, complete with that tell-tale screeching noise heard in the background as the modem connected to the internet via the phone lines. Connectivity was only fast enough to send email. Things that are very easy to do these days like video-conferencing, or even viewing photos, were impossible those days (or people needed to have the patience of Job to wait for photos or big files to finally come up). 

Fast forward to 2011, I've subscribed to three email services, I've posted photos onto a photo-sharing website, and I blog.

Certainly a novelty back in 1998, Starbucks Coffee first changed Filipino palates and coffee sensibilities in 1997 (1). For me, I first heard of the complexities of ordering a drink in Starbucks in You've Got Mail. At that time, chocolate frappuccino was an unheard of beverage; today, it's the ONLY one I buy in one of the Starbucks branches peppering Metro Manila. Calamba City even has one now! I never thought I'd see a branch so far into the provinces!

Big, bulky, and black. These were my first impressions on laptops when I saw them in You've Got Mail. They literally sat on people's laps... but not as long as they do these days because today's laptop is feather-light compared to those overweight heat-generators.

Laptops are even going passe with the introduction of netbooks and tablet PCs. These are today's ultimate mobile computing devices. Then there are the nifty mobile phones which feature internet connectivity. Who'd need to access the 'net on a computer when it can be accessed using a cellphone?

Social networking
In the movie, the characters used code names in emails and chats: Shopgirl and NY152. That practice was more common back in the heydays of mIRC chat rooms (first released in 1995 (2)). It was a time when internet abbreviations such as ASL (age, sex, location) and EB ("eyeball", which means meet up personally) abound; a time when anonymity allowed people to retain a sense of privacy while voicing out opinions they won't normally say in the open. 

Nowadays, social networking sites are so common. I got introduced to Friendster in the 2000s, I think, and to Facebook in 2008. These sites remove the necessity to ask for someone's ASL as people announce their profile details anyway. Photos are readily accessible as long as they've been uploaded into the website. Plus, there's no need to actually travel to an EB because of video-conferencing. In short, everyone's connected to so many people albeit only in the web. As a result, people spend hours in front of their computers waiting for comments to arrive about their status updates.

What a fancy store Fox Books is! You've Got Mail was shown when Powerbooks was barely two years old (3). When I saw the interior of Fox Books, I was reminded of the Pasay Road, Makati branch of Powerbooks, where bookworms hung out over coffee and pastries in a place whose ambience resembled a modern library. It was time when Starbucks was a place to see and to be seen; Powerbooks was where to read and to eat (very expensive chocolate cookies).

Today, Powerbooks is still a force to be reckoned with in the Philippine book market but I haven't seen any coffee shops inside the newer branches. Plus, new players have joined in.

Credit cards
Kathleen Kelley flashed a blue Visa card at the grocery store. Credit cards weren't a novelty anymore in 1998 but in the Philippines, these were most likely status symbols. Hence, it amazed me that middle class people in the US could afford a credit card back then.

So many developments have transformed the world of communication, book-selling, food, and information technology in those 13 years since the movie first played. I'm sure that with the pace right now, technologies deemed novel and high-level in the movies today will seem obsolete in another five or ten years.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

see you later, Facebook

I finally deactivated my Facebook profile today. It wasn't an easy decision; it did take me a few weeks before I actually clicked that Deactivate button. After all, Facebook has made contacting family and friends a lot easier. Sharing photos, sending invitations, discussing topics, playing computer games... all these became convenient as well.

Despite all these niceties, I thought it was time I pulled the plug on my profile. 

Each person has his/her reason(s) for deleting or deactivating their accounts. Some do so because of privacy issues, or because they've got an online stalker, or because they own multiple accounts, or because they spend too much time using it.

Mine is quite simple (and may be unreasonable for some): I just grew tired of it. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

since when did red mean GO?!?

Red light, red light, what do you say?                                                                        I say, "STOP" and stop right away.                       
Yellow light, yellow light, what do you mean?                                                              I mean, "WAIT" until the light turns green.    
Green light, green light, what do you say?                                                                  I say, "GO" but first look both ways.     
Thank you, thank you, red, yellow, green.                                                                 Now I know what traffic lights mean.
I was driving along the Molino-Paliparan Road (in Cavite) until I reached an intersection where traffic flow was controlled by traffic lights... or NOT! As I slowed to a stop because of the red light, drivers of vehicles queued behind my car started honking their horns. Weird, I thought. These drivers were REALLY very impatient! Since I refused to cross the intersection on a red light, the other drivers started to overtake my car! They weren't even concerned that a CCTV camera right under the traffic lights could be recording their every move.

Were all these drivers colour-blind? Where did all these drivers learn how to drive? And how did they even pass the driver's exam at the LTO?

No wonder there are lots of road accidents in the Philippines. In just this small part of the country, drivers regard traffic lights as SUGGESTIONS to slow down or to drive as fast as they could... not entirely the safest things to do on an intersection.

Car light trails along the bridge over the Sta Cruz River (Laguna)

Carlo's baptism party

Ate Madie's youngest son, Carlo Miguel, was welcomed to the Christian world on January 16. I wasn't able to be there for the baptism itself because I was "jet-lagged". I did get to the lunch party on time, though. So, here are some photos of family and friends in attendance...


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Review: Frost/Nixon (2008)

Finally, I got to watch this movie on cable. 

Admittedly Frost/Nixon (2008) is one of the more gripping movies I've seen. No, there were no gun fights, car chases, hostage situations, nor weather and geographical disturbances. There wasn't even a cat fight! What made the movie compelling to see then? 

They just talked.

Yes, they did. I could remember only two movies where the characters mainly discussed issues stopped me from doing anything else: Lions for Lambs (2007) and Phone Booth (2002). In both movies, the characters were all fictional. However, Frost/Nixon was based on the series of interviews between famous reporter David Frost and the former US President Richard Nixon during the aftermath of the Watergate scandal. The movie showed what happened in the background: Nixon's staff and family around him, and the drama occurring within Frost's production team as the interviews progressed.

More importantly, the movie showed the verbal sparring between the two formidable men. At first, it seemed that Frost had a hard time getting questions in as Nixon dominated over the interview session (monologue was more like it). Nixon even looked like someone who could do no wrong. Frost finally started sinking his teeth into the interview when the topic moved into the Watergate affair. On the last day of the interview, he was able to upset the former president. So agitated that Nixon famously exclaimed, "When the President does it, it's not illegal!" 

The movie's leads were amazing: Michael Sheen as Frost and Frank Langella as Nixon.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

tasting shapes and words

I came across an interesting article by Charles Spence and Alberto Gallace entitled "Tasting Shapes and Words" (Food Quality and Preference 22(3): 290-295). 

Synaesthesia. This is what doctors call the condition in which people use more than one sense to perceive a stimulus... just like seeing colours when music is played (they are NOT high on drugs) and also like associating shapes or sounds to tastes and flavours (the topic of the paper... please click on the link).

I always thought that people who describe food this way were doing so metaphorically. Just like when wine connoisseurs describe vintages as either sharp or rounded (wines have edges?), smooth or rough (wines have texture like solids?). Apparently, this notion is wrong. There are people who have this synaesthesia capacity and LITERALLY associate taste with shapes and words.


Sunday, January 23, 2011


Macbook, iPad, iPhone... 

Our living room played host to three Macs when Biboy was home. As he settled in upon arrival, the three Ates played with the toys (Anna on my Mac, Ate Maddie on the Biboy's iPhone, Rochie on the Daddy's iPad... or was it the other way around?).

This reminds me of my mom's first encounter with the Mac. One day, Biboy asked for her permission to go out of the house because he was buying a Mac. She readily allowed him, and so he took off. When he returned, she asked, "Where's my burger?" Biboy got confused; he said that he didn't buy food. It turned out that she thought that he'd gone to McDonald's to buy burgers. 

A few years later, she's adept at using the iPad herself. :)

I think this was taken on Christmas eve 2010.

Now that Biboy is back in the US, only the resident Mac stayed behind.

Roslen's 40th

The first birthday celebrated in the lab this year is Roslen's 40th. To make it more special, people in the lab organised a very special cake to mark the occasion.

the birthday cake
part 2 of the birthday celebration

Saturday, January 22, 2011

at the provincial capitol, Laguna

The seat of government of Laguna province has seen its share of transformations since the incumbent governor, Mr. ER Ejercito took office in 2010. The most telling of these changes is the addition of a water fountain just inside the gate. A statue of Jose P. Rizal, what looks like a miniature of the Luneta image, is right behind the fountain.

I'm glad Ate Madie and I dropped by the area in the evening, just before the rain started to fall. People were already leaving the place in search of shelter from the rain drops. The lights around the fountain gave the curtain of water a golden glow. It was magic.

Check it out.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Grain Quality Lab anniversary

The unit began as Grain Quality and Nutrition Research Center in 2004.

Soon after, it became Grain Quality, Nutrition, and Post-harvest Center... and it celebrated its sixth anniversary on December 15, 2010.

Here's a look back at some of the group shots in the lab...







Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cuevas family Christmas

Dear Family,

It's been almost a month since Christmas, and so I thought that this should be a good time to look back at last year's reunion. 


Biboy's plan to surprise everyone bombed because the family got wind of his arrival. Nevertheless, it was a nice evening; the small kids got to decipher the toys and the "raffled off" iPad together, Lola was pleasantly surprised to see her nieces, and everyone got lots of gifts. As everyone was settling down after all that excitement, Tita Ising announced that she was giving away money to the kids... 

Then there was chaos. 


how to register a vehicle at the LTO

It's the nth time I've registered a car at the Land Transportation Office and still each time was far from perfect. So in case anyone needs a beginner's guide to vehicle registration, here are a few things I've learned over the years, one blooper after the other...

  1. Having the car registered on time is cheaper than having it done later.
  2. A vehicle's registration deadline depends on the plate number. The last digit corresponds to the month ("1" is January) and the digit just before that determines which week is the deadline for registration. For more of this information, check out the blog entry:
  3. The Third Party Liability (TPL) policy is required for registration. In case a policy is already reactivated, make sure that there's an extra envelope whose contents include the policy and a copy of a note from the Philippine Insurers and Reinsurers Association (PIRA).
  4. Car emissions must be assessed for their effects to air pollution. Results of the car emission test are attached to the registration document. I find it weird that after the emission test, the tester has his photo taken beside the car's muffler wearing a gas mask. Any person in his right mind will not crouch down by a running car's muffler... for any reason.
  5. Outside the Calamba Extension Office of the LTO, have the vehicle's under-the-hood numbers stenciled only by the "authorised" staff; otherwise, you'll be paying double.
  6. Once the MV Evaluator has checked the car's documents (LTO form with the stencil, car insurance, emission test result, copy of the CR and the OR), just stay in the waiting area while the paper goes into the queue. You're name will be called over the PA system.
  7. If you're lucky, the car stickers for the current year are available and you don't have to go back to the LTO until next year.
My trip to the LTO this time around was definitely less stressful than when I had my driver's license corrected and renewed.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Happy with Joey Pepperoni

Joey Pepperoni has recently started welcoming pizza lovers in SM City Calamba. A new pizza joint in my hometown is always a treat for me; I just had to try it out... but it's no fun trying it out alone. I had to bring some home for my sister to try.

Honestly speaking, I had a hard time choosing what to get because the menu had such mouth-watering offerings. I ended up with the Joey Pepperoni pizza (the promo pizza, P59 for an 8-inch thin crust pizza) and a Quattro Formaggi (P165 for 8 inches of pizza topped with parmesan, white, mozzarella, and cheddar cheeses).

They were delicious!! They were simple, no-frills pies that are light on the stomach and on the pocket. This is a welcome alternative to Pizza Hut and Shakey's whenever I crave for pizza. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

good byes are never easy

The year-end holidays were made special because the youngest of our brood, my brother, dropped by from California to surprise the family based here in the Philippines. Personally, I would've loved it if he had spent as much time with his relatives as with his friends, but he had his own plans for his holidays and we didn't figure so much in it. Nevertheless, his presence, during the hours that he did stay with them, lit up the faces of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandmas who haven't seen him for two years... their smiles were all so precious.

Lola Estay, unfortunately, has a very short memory span nowadays. She was confused when he arrived, not recognising him at all; when he was saying good bye to her, she refused to believe that he's flying off.

On the other hand, he made Lola Bats extra happy over Christmas; watching him say good bye to her was nothing short of difficult. At first she was light-hearted and smiling, but when the time had come for me to bring him to the airport, she was crying. 

My brother's visit is only the beginning. Many relatives will be flying in, and out, in 2011. A lot of tears will be shed this year in my family. 

Saying good bye never gets easy.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Snow in the tropics?!?

Is the "end of the world as we know it" approaching?

I've read earlier today that there's snow in Hawaii!! This US state, which has a typical tropical climate (according to Wikipedia), is one of the 49 states to experience snowfall this year. The only exception, currently, is Florida. It's interesting because snow is not normally seen in tropical parts of the world... well, maybe on mountain tops, just like in the Hawaiian islands.

After a quick search in the Internet, I found out that snow in the tropics is not so rare after all. Bummer. Here are a few links showing the other places where snow falls near the equator:

If snow is indeed possible in Hawaii and in other tropical places, would the Philippines also experience snow sometime in the future? If snow replaces frost in the colder regions of the country, I'm sure that some enterprising Pinoy will develop a real winter wonderland there. That will be a booming business... just look at the winter attractions that are available in the country during the Christmas holidays. On the downside, upland agriculture will be in disarray because of the unfavourable weather conditions. 

When winter becomes a permanent feature of Philippine climate, it would indeed be "the end of the world as we (Pinoys) know it".

The last time I got excited about the possibility of seeing snow in my hometown was when the Mount Pinatubo ash fall reached Calamba, Laguna in the 1990s. Everything on the ground was white and the sky was grey. We siblings started playing in the "snow" until I asked my the parents: if this is snow, why isn't it cold? They knew all along that it was volcanic ash.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I attended a training course in Germany...

... but did not fly over for it.

The organisers of the training course use the Internet to get attendees all over the world together one hour each day, for three consecutive days, to listen to lectures starting at 11am EST (which is 12mn, Philippine time). In short, my work days, over the course of the training, will actually spill over to the next day. The lecture series is about a software used to record and to quantify separation of molecules based on size.

The mode of delivery is interesting. The lecturer is heard over the Internet via the computer's sound system; in my case, since something's wrong with its speaker, I hooked the Mac to the stereo at home... voila! The lecture is heard in home theatre quality. :) Participants can field questions, to all participants or to the organisers only, through an online chat interface (complete with speech bubbles). The lecturer can then respond verbally during the Q&A portion. Plus, there's an additional window where the lecturer's computer screen is shown; we see what the lecturer is pointing at in real time. Since the display is small in the 13" Mac, I connected it to the telly... that really magnified the lecturer's screen a whole lot! The display is so big that a neighbour looking from across the street may be able to see that the telly has been converted into a giant external monitor.

This is the magic of the Internet: connecting people aurally and visually. And because of the time differences, people get jetlagged in the comforts of their own homes. :) Made possible by Citrix Online's GoToTraining service.

car registration 2011

It's that time of the year again when I need to brave the long queues to have the car registered at the Land Transportation Office (LTO). For the past few years, since the satellite office has opened in Calamba, I no longer need to travel to the Binan office for this (yey!). 

The LTO website reminds the motoring public:
For those with plate numbers ending in "1", don't forget to register your motor vehicle on January 2011.
I couldn't remember when in January I should go to the LTO and have my car registered. Thankfully, the website also furnished this schedule:

 Registration WeekMiddle Plate Number
First Week1,2,3
Second Week4,5,6
Third Week7,8
Last Week9,0

Now all I have to do is bring the car there next week.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I looked at the sky tonight and noticed that the moon has a halo. That halo meant that rain is coming soon; as I was staring at the moon, I remembered Ernie Baron's trivia tidbits in TV Patrol (ABS-CBN)... this halo was one of the things he had mentioned during his weather news broadcasts.

Seeing that halo wasn't too much of a surprise. Floods have devastated parts of the Philippines, particularly in the eastern areas. Three-fourths of Queensland, Australia is also submerged in flood. These are reminiscent of what happened to Metro Manila and Southern Luzon when Typhoon Ketsana (aka Ondoy) dumped a month's worth of water.

The weather forecast at work seems to be correct: the dry season will see a whole lot of rain. 

family dinner at Calle Arco

As rain started falling, we entered Calle Arco, a restaurant just past the arches of Pagsanjan in Laguna province. We were welcomed by pink walls adorned by antique china serving plates and paintings. A giant wine bottle was resting on one corner while hardwood chairs and tables awaited clients wanting to taste what Calle Arco had to offer. Since we came in at 9pm, we had the restaurant all to ourselves. On the days that I've passed by the restaurant, it was always filled with people. Ate Madie had eaten there already and said that the food was good.

I'm not used to ordering food for twelve people, so my aunts took charge of making sure that we would just have enough for dinner. We ended up with sisig (pork or chicken served on a sizzling plate with chilies and with calamansi), sinigang bangus belly (milkfish belly in sour soup), pancit canton (lo mein) and bihon (stir fried rice noodles), steamed vegetables, and rice (of course!).

I have to agree with Ate Madie; everything we got was delicious. Calle Arco offers no-frills meals, lutong bahay style. The staff are friendly as well. Balikbayans who miss the simplicity of eating rainy day comfort foods are in for a treat. The simplicity of the food adds to the rustic ambience of the restaurant and of the sleepy town itself.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

at the doctor's clinic

I finally went to the orthopedic doctor on Thursday. After examining my foot, he said the my posterior tibialis tendon is the culprit. To further illustrate the point, he showed a model of the bones of the foot, pinpointing where the tendon runs. Instead of asking something related to the pain, I blurted out, "Are those real bones?"

The doctor assured me that the foot model is not made of bone while reaching down under his desk. He pulled up a model of the vertebral column and the pelvis. "Now these are real bones", he said. Creepy. He then proceeded writing the prescription.

So now, I'm on NSAIDs for six days and I'm minimising putting weight on my foot to curb the foot pain.

Happy birthday, Jazz!

My car, a blue Honda Jazz, is now five years old! :) I bought it in 2006 as a Ph.D. student, replacing the Honda SiR I was driving since college. Daddy always says that if we treat a car with respect and take care of it, it will keep us safe. And the Jazz has always been reliable, mainly because it's regularly maintained.

My mini-zoo on the rear seat has grown over the years as well. They keep me company when I travel long distances on my own; they also double as distractions when my nieces and nephews travel with me.

The Jazz mini-zoo residents! From left to right: the unnamed bear from PUP thesis students, Doc bear, Moo, Buster, and Teddy. Missing in the photo: Koala bear, Kangaroo, Halloween Cat, Space Monkey, Turtle, Panda bear, Robin Hood bear, and Mickey Mouse.
The stuffed toys are tokens or keepsakes from my trips. Those absent in the photos are currently in storage (because I never got round getting them back in the car after the accident in September 2010).

Friday, January 7, 2011

The president of Mars is coming.

"The president of Mars is coming in January," my supervisor announced during the group's end-of-the-year lab meeting. Everyone hushed while we mulled over what she said. Just as she was about to give instructions in preparation for this guest, I blurted, "Are there people in Mars now?!?" 

It took her a moment to realise that I misunderstood her statement. She replied, "Mars, the chocolate, not the planet!" 


Thursday, January 6, 2011

May daga!

What a way to perk my morning: a long and furry black blur ran across the corridor and behind my seat in the office. I was so surprised that I screamed while jumping away from my cubicle. The rat, realising that it had reached a dead end, scurried off between the wall and the cubicle divider panel. I think I ran further than the rat, quite honestly; I was more scared of it than it of me.

The rat, wily as ever, successfully evaded capture yet again. It lives free to scare me another day!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

allergy attack

Seafood + fish = ALLERGY!!. 

I'm allergic to seafood (except for bivalves). 

Over lunch, I had an allergic reaction to my food. Either it had fish sauce OR the chicken used was injected with antibiotics that I react to. As usual, it was a race against time to an antihistamine and I was disadvantaged because I've used up all the tablets I had bought in 2010. 

So I went off campus to buy medicine in a nearby grocery shop.

Back in the office, I was able to rest easy because the allergy seemed to subside, thanks to the medicine.

pain, pain, go away.

Okay, I've had enough. 

My right knee has bugged me with sharp stabbing pains on random occasions; sometimes when I go up and down stairs and when I jog. The pain is concentrated just below the knee cap (I think). I need to stop whatever I'm doing (running or walking) and use my umbrella as a walking cane whenever the knee pain attacks happen. When the pain first came up (when I was still in high school), the doctor said if the pain recurred, my knee might need surgery. I was naturally scared; hence, I haven't gone back to the doctor with that complaint. Many years later: recurring pain, especially when the weather goes cold.

The right foot, on the other hand, started becoming painful after I fell down a flight of stairs in 1997. Since then, whenever I walk or run more than 1 km or play an extra long game of badminton, there's pain on the mid-foot, on the same side as the big toe. This pain gets worse with the cold weather, so I wear socks to bed and I walk with a slight limp at night. My right foot has become more painful since November 2010; I suspect that extended walking and use of leather pumps worsened the injury in my foot.

It looks like I have to go back to the orthopedic doctor and have my knee and my foot checked. Last time I was there, my right wrist was suffering from de Quervain's tenosynovitis (the wrist was abused by the excessive typing I was doing; back then, I was rushing to finish my thesis manuscript).


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Get well soon, Lola Bats!

Just as we were arriving home from the media noche at Lola Estay's, people in Lola Bats' house in Paranaque were up and about, rushing to the Emergency Room.  

Lola Bats was rushed to the Medical Center Paranaque before dawn on January 1 by Tita Ising and Tito Sibing. It was fortunate that they were with her when she fell ill because Tita Ising is an MD. Lola's blood pressure shot up to 220/100 and had atrial fibrillation, according to Tita Ising. That means that her heart couldn't pump blood properly because it has an abnormal rhythm. As of yesterday afternoon, Tita Ising said that her blood pressure had gone lower while in the hospital. Lola Bats, perhaps feeling much better, was already raring to go back home.

Despite being critically ill at 94 years old, Lola Bats' comic timing was present when Tita Tessie and Ate Maddie visited her in the intensive care unit. That's a good sign.

Get well soon, Lola Bats!

bawing-bawing, bawing-bawing...

Part 2 of our New Year's party was spent with my paternal aunts, uncle, cousins, and nephew in Paranaque. 

Miggy has further expanded his song repertoire, we found out, when he began singing "bawing-bawing, bawing-bawing..." as he played with Tita Tess' sliding doors during dinner. The tune of the song sounded familiar. We aunts were discussing why the tune rang a bell. Then it hit us. Miggy was singing his approximation of the instrumentals of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" (aka "Wimoweh"), a song popularised by The Tokens in the 1960s and performed famously in the 2000s by Pierre Coffin's Pat and Stanley (the hippo and the dog).

Just as we thought that it was the only new song, he started chanting "O-o-o-oooh, o-o-o-oooh, ha! O-o-o-oooh, o-o-o-oooh, ha!" with Kuya Mitchie. Another familiar tune, we thought, trying to place this second song. It turns out to be from "Kung Fu Fighting" from the OST of Kung Fu Panda!


Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Eve 2011

New Year 2011 is a happy occasion because Tita Babie and her family were with us (sans Donnell), as well as Biboy. They all flew into the Philippines specially to celebrate the holidays with the Philippine-based clan. 

The New Year in Sta Cruz is chaotic, as always; fireworks and firecrackers along the national highway made it risky to travel starting at 10PM. The roads have taken the feel of war zones with the frequent bangs and reports, the smoke-filled air, and the sound of fire trucks and ambulances echoing in the night.  Electricity was cut off close to midnight as self-propelled sky rockets (kwitis) flew dangerously close to power lines.  Some faulty sky rockets even flew low trajectories, hitting a roof, a door, and exploded right in front of a moving car! On the ground, pedestrians faced the risk of getting their limbs mangled by exploding Sawa (Python-like string of thousands of rounds of firecrackers).

But did we heed the dangers? No. Even the risk of getting hit by the random New Year stray bullet did not stop me from going to the bridge to take photos of the fireworks display launched somewhere close to the Roman Catholic Church. Biboy and Kuya Larry took charge of the firecrackers and the rest enjoyed luces light-painting. 

I'm sure that the bad spirits were driven off with all that racket. 

random text message

"Hi. Nasira cp ko, burado lahat ng contacts sa phonebuk. Me listahan ako pero hindi updated. Pls reply if ur stil using your n0. Tnx. - CHING,O.P."
I received this text message from cellphone number +639176233734 on December 30. I'm quite sure I don't know this person because the people named Ching who know my phone number do not write SMS like this. So I thought that this message is a prank: the person was waiting for someone to actually reply to the message before the joke could continue... or the sender is a con artist.
  1. People whose cellphone phonebooks are erased would typically collect people's numbers through social networking sites
  2. People who list down phone numbers on paper MOST LIKELY put a name to connect to each phone number. They don't normally list down phone numbers only.
  3. Now this I found funny: "Please reply if you're still using your number." Does this mean that if I don't reply I'm no longer accessible via my current phone number?