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Showing posts from July, 2012

on hallowed ground

No, it's not All Souls' Day, though the sky looked forlorn that afternoon.

Cindy, Kuya Ferdie, and I had attended Kuya Dennis' daughter's seventh birthday party in Rizal, Laguna. Since the way back home would lead us to a a tourist spot, we took the opportunity to stop at Nagcarlan, Laguna's famous Underground Cemetery. The last time I'd been there before this side trip was when I was in grade school, so I can't really remember what it looked like... or if I had taken note of the church's features or was so engrossed with the creepy stories being told.
Anyway, during this trip, we were lucky that we were the only tourists taking a look. The guide at the church's doorway had no one to talk with and so we were able to interview him about the Underground Cemetery and the church.

It felt peaceful here: to walk along the brick path and to be surrounded by a manicured lawn. These, despite the proximity to the main road, just outside that gate. It even fel…

corporate social responsibility

Some of the people at the PA3i-LB get-together are experts in forestry conservation. They talked about the Makiling Botanic Garden, the venue of the meeting, and how the trees and the other plants are being maintained.
One of the paradigm shifts the administrators of the garden is pursuing is about tree planting activities, a popular type of environment-conscious projects to industrial companies. Now, instead of tree-planting, people are being encouraged to participate or to spearhead tree-nurturing activities; instead of just planting trees up the mountain, the companies are made to commit the first two years after tree-planting for caring for the trees as they grow.
Alternatively, the company representatives who talk with the garden administrators are instead asked to adopt a part of the Makiling National Reserve for conservation purposes. Isuzu Philippines, as shown in the photo here, is one of those companies that has donated funds to help conserve the dipterocarp arboretum (tree…

Australian barbie in Los Banos

I got invited to attend the general assembly and family get-together of the Philippine Australian Alumni Association, Inc. Los Banos Chapter (PA3i-LB) last July 28 (Saturday). I've heard of the group before; it had sponsored airings of Australian films in the IRRI Havener Auditorium years ago (for free!). At the time, I was able to watch Lantana (2001), Looking for Alibrandi (1999), Australian Rules (2002), Love Serenade (1996), and Floating Life (1996).
Anyway, I didn't have the chance to enjoy one of the things the Pinoy students experience in Australia during my short stints there: the barbecue (or barbie in Aussie-speak). So when the invitation said BYO ("bring your own") to the barbie, I decided that I might as well experience what it's like... only, it's set at the Makiling Botanic Garden in UPLB, not on a picnic ground down under anymore. 

Attending the get-together, I eventually learned, were people relatively high up the Los Banos research community…

Review: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known. -- Charles Dickens (A Tale of Two Cities, 1859)
Since it's been publicized for a long time that The Dark Knight Rises is the final installment in the  story weaved by Christopher Nolan and his team, I knew that I'd be saying goodbye to this most realistic version of Gotham City as I sat through the movie; the experience, I thought, would be similar to reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows or to watching The Return of the King for the first time.
In a sense, Bruce Wayne went the way of Harry Potter and of Frodo Baggins. He also, somewhat, followed the footsteps of an even older literary hero, Sydney Carton. All three of them had to make difficult, selfless acts to save their loved ones from the chaotic world they were in. All of them, too, eventually found their piece of heaven. The decisions and actions of Carton and Baggins had made their st…

passing exams

I passed the PRINCE2 Foundation exam I took last Friday!!
When I got the email announcing that I, and the rest of my classmates did well, I starting skipping all over the place. And passing was really a cause to celebrate: I emptied my calendar of any activity other than the training program, I studied hard for three consecutive nights, and I was really paying attention in class. In short, I felt like I was back in college prepping for the final exams.
No, wait. Feeling like I was back in Microbiology board exam review mode is a better description. That still means, however, that I was reviewing my course materials while watching television shows (as background noise).
The bottom line now is that I passed the test about the theory behind the PRINCE2 project management method (the output). The real test now lies before me and my classmates. The successes of our respective projects will be the realized outcomes and benefits of our passing marks.
Congratulations, classmates!

my PRINCE2 experience

I had wished I could gain some project management skills without learning everything on the fly. My mentor, acting like a genie, granted me my wish by recommending me to attend the Projects In Controlled Environments (PRINCE2) Foundation because it's such a good course to take. According to him, PRINCE2 is like attending a graduate course in business school. That made me excited, so I signed up for the next offering as soon as I learned that there's still a slot available.
My mentor's assessment was spot on. The course, though it required quite a bit of brain rewiring, was excellent! The trainer, Mr Vincent Marsi, patiently and effectively walked the class through the complicated web of project management for three days. Imagine, I was lost the whole time during the first day of the class but by the time I was about to sit the Foundation exam, I was somewhat comfortable with PRINCE2-speak!

Of course, the most important aspect of the whole endeavor was harvesting what the …

on Adel Tamano's Final Perspective

My evening television fare for Thursday and Friday is not complete without going to ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC). I've been watching the Tamano Perspective on Thursdays for quite a while, if I find myself still awake. It's a really entertaining and educational show because it provides digests of a week's worth of news, explanations of opposing sides of current issues, and Mr Adel Tamano's own opinion about the topics tackled in his show. I was surprised that this week's episode is the final one, aptly labeled Tamano's Final Perspective.
What is Adel Tamano's final perspective as he closes his show's run?
1. Prioritize family.  I knew him, before I watched his show, as the lawyer representing a famous dermatologist in the Philippines and as a former political candidate. It was refreshing to see him (and the episode's host, Karen Davila) open up about his perspective on taking care of a special child. As he talked a bit about the child's diet and h…

on really getting into the diet

It's not easy, I can say that right now.

As the implications of the calorie limit in my diet plan started to sink in, I began to realize just how much food --junk food -- I had to give up. I am reading food labels more diligently these days too. Especially when I am constantly faced with chocolates, potato chips, and hearty afternoon snacks... not to mention my normally generous helping of pasta and rice at home.

So, the diet.

The dietitian has suggested that I follow the "diet exchange program" until I get the target weight off. As far as I understand this concept, I am allowed to eat indicated portions (in the diet plan) of the different food groups at different times of the day. For example, I may eat a certain amount of fruit and an estimated amount of meat, but it's up to me to break the portions down to the different meal times: breakfast, morning snacks, lunch, afternoon snacks, dinner.

Wait, there's no midnight snack?!?

Anyway, after a few days into the …

on starting a diet plan

During my annual physical exam this year, the dietitian recommended that I reduce my calorie intake. No, I'm not overweight; my BMI is within the normal range. However, I committed to the calorie limit the dietitian had proposed to me because my right knee and my right foot are painful (more of that here). I figured losing the two kilos will help with the pain management, aka. physical therapy.

This change in eating habits will be an uphill battle, I think. For the next few days, I'll be monitoring my food intake and will be figuring out what proportions I need to reduce as I gradually eat less of the carbohydrates and more of the fiber.

Fingers crossed!

who are you quoting?

Before broadcasting the latest news over Twitter, or before citing that journal article in the draft of a scientific paper, consider who you are quoting. That is the reminder being sent to us by John Gregerson in his article entitled "Truth, Lies, and Rumors in the Media: Consider the Source", published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
In the article, he cited several examples of others preempting the deaths of famous people. I am happy that the people I follow on Twitter appear to be aware of the importance of "the source". A few days ago, Rodolfo Vera Quizon, Sr, the Philippine Comedy King, passed on. Before he died, people had been spreading rumors (or misinformation) that he had died at a much earlier time. But there were those who preferred to wait for the official statement coming from one of his sons, Eric Quizon, before posting their tweet-tributes about Dolphy and their condolences.
Aside from celebrity news, scientific discoveri…

Review: Inception (2010)

You know a movie is an extremely good one when two years after its release, you still have questions about the plot even after watching it more than five times.
One such film, for me, is Christopher Nolan's Inception (2010). What gets me each time I see Inception is the ambiguity of the story, particularly at the ending. Every time the screen blacks out, I feel a 'kick', as if I'm part of the dream that everyone in the movie is waking up from. Yes, I recently got jolted again, because I saw it on cable. Again.

Thanks to the sense of unease -- of suspense -- I spend hours after watching the movie just poring through discussion boards and articles on the internet just to get the closure I need to be able to move on. It's just a movie, I know. But this need for closure reflects upon how brilliantly the movie has been made.

Come to think of it, not many films have this effect on me. For most of them, I watch the film (and watch replays as well), I talk about it a bit,…

valid ID

I attended the First Friday Mass last week. The priest, Fr Thor (St Therese of the Child Jesus Parish, Los Banos), began his homily about the Pharisees questioning Jesus' closeness to tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 9: 9-13) with a story about priests' bloopers on a trip. Priests, from several nearby parishes, went to the airport. They were queueing at the check-in counter so one of the priests asked for the identification cards of his travel mates. One of the priests forgot his wallet, of all things; hence, he didn't have a single valid ID card on him. However, he did bring with him his SM Advantage Card. The SM Advantage Card is a frequent shopper card at one of the biggest shopping mall chains in the Philippines, SM. It's definitely not an ID card normally presented at the airport; there, people normally show their driver's licenses or their passports. The place they were going to did not even have an SM branch! Since the priest had no other ID card on him at c…

do you want to swim in that?

I certainly don't.
Some residents along the coastal area, however, do not mind the quality of the water as much as I do. They try to relieve themselves from the sweltering summer heat by taking a dive into the murky waters amid the floating debris. I just wish that before their next dive, they stop and consider that the water really is polluted and it is unhealthy to swim there.
Aside from fecal bacteria that are dumped from untreated wastewater, there are other microorganisms that make Manila Bay their home. A 2009 study by marine scientists entitled "Pollution Study in Manila Bay: Eutrophication and Its Impact on Plankton Community" associated human activity with the presence of chemical pollutants in the water. Manila Bay (at the time of the experiment) has a high concentration of nitrogenous and phosphorus-containing chemicals, with the highest levels being near the Pasig River. Microorganisms, such as phytoplankton and zooplankton, that eat these chemicals live in …

Dr Bruce Tolentino shares insights on professional growth during the Mentoring Program lunch

As luck would have it, I was eating lunch on my birthday with my classmates in this year's Mentoring Program. The guest speaker that day was Dr V. Bruce J. Tolentino, IRRI's Deputy Director General (Communications and Partnerships).
During his talk, I took note of three points he had made; three pieces of advice that I think are important for me and my classmates as we embark on the road for professional improvement through mentoring. 1. Realize that along every stage of one's career, there are people who open doors of opportunity. However, once we're through the door, it's all about hard work. 2. Visibility is important. Performing well is just not enough. Catching people's attention (in a good way, of course) is  also needed as we grow professionally.  3. Make sure that one's scientific work can be translated into something that a non-technical person, like policy-makers and end-users, can understand readily. Three lessons to remember. They're not ex…

good Samaritans abound

I've been taught that driving a car comes with its share of conveniences. Driving one brings me faster from Point A to Point B without getting squished by fellow commuters in public vehicles, for instance. But there are hassles too. One of the downsides of driving a car (and being dependent on it) is the possibility of the car breaking down when I've got somewhere to go to.
And the timing has always been impeccable.
One of the first times I had a flat was year ago when I was Makati. Again, one of my tires got deflated when I on a Maundy Thursday pilgrimage this year. Then as my birthday weekend began, I discovered that the left front tire was deflated. I was supposed to be on my way to Dara's farewell party; instead, I was on my way, yet again, to the vulcanizing shop.
Sometimes, I could only shake my head.

More importantly, though, whenever I've had a flat tire, there were people who answered my call for help. These good Samaritans have often taken the form of fell…

birthday food trips

I celebrated my birthday a few days ago. Unlike last year, I did not forget my birthday this year. Instead of a birthday party with friends, this year, I opted to spend my birthday with family or just eat out on my own.

The birthday week began and ended with rainy weather. In fact, visibility was poor on several days that I had to drive with headlights on in the morning! But did I let the wet weather rain on my imaginary parade? Of course not!

On my birthday eve, I had dinner with Tita Mely, Ate Susan, Trisha, Totoy, and Tina at a new restaurant in Sta Cruz, Laguna called Nanot's Spaghetti House. Well, "had dinner" was such an understatement. We braved a particularly heavy downpour to get to the restaurant, with me hoping that the food was worth getting really wet. The food was good. Anna, my sister, was absent this time. But she made up for it by bringing in pasta and pizza from Banapple.

Then there's the birthday salu-salo that was prepped for my birthday in the…

Fe's despedida

Fe's despedida, a set on Flickr.

Fe has embarked on the next stage of her career: a PhD program in the Netherlands. But before she flew off to her next big adventure, her GQNC family gave her a farewell party at Dalcielo's in May.

The face of the Grain Quality and Nutrition Center has changed again.

Luneta on June 19th

Luneta on June 19th, a set on Flickr. Via Flickr:

Since it's Jose Rizal's birth anniversary and we were close by, we thought it's a good idea to pay him a visit. So we did. :)

And we got to see the Chinese garden and a concert at the park as well.