Sunday, September 30, 2012

NB: travel posts coming up in the next days...

During the past three weeks, I traveled to three cities. I took quite a few photos along the way but not as many as I would have liked (I wasn't on photo walks too much, thanks to my injured foot and knee). I'll be sharing these photos plus a few stories from my trip in the next few days.

Over the course of my trip, I was introduced to Flat Stanley and am now participating in the "Flat Stanley project" for a grade schooler in New Orleans.

Then there's the food. Travel, for me, is incomplete if I don't try out the food in the new places I find myself in. But I didn't limit myself to restaurants I haven't been into before. I also tried out establishments that have branches in the Philippines just to compare the food and to see what's inside.

So there. Travel posts coming up in the next few days. :)

(Plus the occasional Multiply blog export. I just learned that there's an export tool now available)

Friday, September 28, 2012

the many faces of anna

She likes to take self-portraits on my cellphone while passing the time in the car. So why put the photos to waste, right? This is the perfect occasion to publish some of her shots.

Happy birthday Anna!!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

surviving a high school science project defense

I was at the science project presentations at the San Pablo City Science High School earlier. It's my first time to sit at a judge's panel for project defenses; the only other time I had been in one was during students' research proposal presentations... the same students who had their project defenses yesterday. 

As the students went through their slideshows, I listed 10 ways to get through the defense based on how the students performed (in the hopes that this list could help someone someday).
  • The rules of graphic design apply to scientific presentations. Read: use pictures as much as possible; avoid long sentences and paragraphs; present statements as bullet lists; and the list goes on.
  • Don't start a presentation with "The problem of our project is...". This tip I've heard previously from Nelzo (when he presented his research during a seminar).
  • Pace yourself during the presentation and during the question/answer portion.
  • Remember this: you know a lot more about the paper than the panelist. So don't be afraid of the big bad questioner. 
  • There's nothing wrong with admitting that you don't know the answer.
  • There's also nothing wrong with correcting the panelist if he/she misunderstood your point. 
  • You are selling an idea (that you're project is a good one). So be prepared to answer questions about the significance of the study or the practical applications of your results.
  • Never contradict yourself during your presentation. Otherwise, your panelists will sink their teeth into the inconsistencies.
  • Embrace results that show no statistically significant difference. 
  • Practice. Practice. Practice.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I felt like I were a talent show judge today.

Last year, I attended the research proposal presentations of incoming fourth year students at the San Pablo City Science High School. After a semester of working like bees on their science projects, the students have finished writing their manuscripts and were supposed to present their work. I was invited by Dennis Tuyogon to join him in the judging panel to see how the students' projects fared.

I can only say one thing: I now know what it must feel like to be judges in talent shows. American Idol, X-Factor, The Sing-Off, The Voice... It must be difficult to grasp for something positive to say about a performance that is subpar. Poor Paula. But I digress.

The difference in my case is that I was tasked with grilling students not about their talents, but specifically about their project results. And there's no recording contract at stake.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Manila, by train.

While I was still in a bus en route to Manila, I saw that the Philippine National Railway (PNR) train was jam-packed in the Buendia station. I thought it would be cool to try that on my way home to the province later in the day. But after my morning in Manila, I decided to go to Greenhills, San Juan to apply for an international driver's permit at  the Automobile Association of the Philippines. And because I wanted to be there fast, I decided to take the elevated railway system.

Manila railway map from

My trip via the elevated railway systems felt like being packed in a can of sardines from Point A to Point B and being on a long queue each time I had to change trains. Despite being cramped the whole time, I was happy because I got to San Juan City in an hour and a half. I don't know how much time it would take if I had ridden the bus. Also, the whole trip felt like an impromptu field trip; I've never been at Doroteo Jose before and it's been years since I was at the Araneta Center, Cubao in the afternoon. The last time I had been in the Araneta Coliseum, it was evening and I was there to watch the Incubus concert with friends. Along the way, I passed by the different schools forming Manila's University Belt, and different hospitals too.

One more thing: despite the crowded cars of the trains, I enjoyed looking at the view of Manila's rooftops. The view from above looked so much like the aerial shots from The Bourne Legacy! That was so cool!

What a nice sight-seeing day in Manila.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Review: Who enjoyed the APO rom-com-eoke? I-do-bidoo-bidoo-ooh!

Once in a while, a light-hearted Filipino film gets enough positive reviews and praises by word-of-mouth or through social media that my interest is piqued. One such movie is this year's I Do (Bidoo Bidoo): Heto nAPO Sila. It's romance. It's comedy. It's signature Pinoy song-and-dance spectacular all rolled into one. At the core of the movie are the music of one of the Philippines' most prolific musical acts, the APO Hiking Society. Actually, the group's songs proved to be the force driving the plot along. 

Young love? There's an APO song for that. Rekindling fading marriages? There's an APO song for that too. Illustrating how love keeps a family together during challenging times? There's an APO song for that as well. Problems in school and at home? There are at least two or three APO songs for that. And I'm just talking about the soundtrack of the movie. APO Hiking Society has a whole lot more songs not covered in the film.

The wonderful thing about this rom-com is that the director and scriptwriter, Chris Martinez, did not resort to slapstick to garner the laughs or to loud crying and wailing to tug at the audience's heartstrings. Thanks to the timelessness of the APO hits and the universal themes of the group's songs, the audience (regardless of age) in the theater I watched at erupted in laughter or clapped as they see themselves in the characters excellently portrayed by main cast Ogie Alcasid, Eugene Domingo, Gary Valenciano, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Sam Concepcion, and Tippy dos Santos. The supporting cast members were hilarious too! Jaime Fabregas, in his one-dimensional character, was my favorite among the supporting actors.

Did I like the movie? I-do-bidoo-bidoo-ooh! I definitely want to see it a second time and then buy the DVD to watch it more times at home. It's not perfect, but it's worth to watch several times. No wonder it got the highest rating from the MTRCB. I even enjoyed it a lot more than the movie version of "Mamma Mia!", but that's probably because the plot is much closer to home. I wish "I Do (Bidoo Bidoo)" gets its day on the musical stage... or a sequel is produced... or it gets a cinematic encore on Valentine's Day.

On a side note...

A few hours after watching "I Do (Bidoo Bidoo)", one of my favorite APO songs still keeps playing in my head. It's entitled "Panalangin" (Prayer). This "last song syndrome" is particularly hard to get over with because I like the lyrics and I like the catchy tune, particularly the percussions in the reworked version used in the movie. What a classic.

Panalangin ko sa habang buhay
Makapiling ka, makasama ka
Yan ang panalangin ko
At di papayag ang pusong ito
Mawala ka sa 'king piling
Mahal ko iyong dinggin

-- APO Hiking Society (1980)

Oh, and have I mentioned that Mr Jim Paredes, one-third of the APO Hiking Society, had shared a story about how one of the group's performances of "Panalangin" had saved a marriage? This song is that powerful. I heard him share this anecdote one Maundy Thursday when I participated in a focused group discussion on Mr Paredes' solo album LARO. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

a dream weird enough to wake me up

This has got to be one of the weirdest dreams I've had... it's so weird (and vivid) that I woke up and wrote about it!
My sister was riding my bike in circles in a grassy area (probably our house's backyard). I was in the garage when something so noisy grabbed my attention. When I looked towards the backyard, I noticed what looked like a mini Space Shuttle flying unsteadily and dropping lower and lower; low enough that it went below the roofs of my neighbors' houses. I thought that it was going to crash somewhere but the roaring noise similar to that of an airplane's could still be heard, as if the mini Space Shuttle was flying very low above the roofs. 
As the noise was getting louder (and closer), I just had to run across the garage towards the front yard and the street to see what it looked like. Strangely, none of the neighbors milling around got excited as the aircraft's nose cone scraped the road! I was so near that I could see the details of the fuselage's underbelly. Then the aircraft flew upwards (in reverse?) and made a U-turn before making another low pass across the block. With a loud roar, it flew and disappeared as suddenly as it came.  
"Did you see that? Did you see that? What just happened?" I rushed back to the backyard to ask Anna then inside the house to ask my parents.
I was the only person excited about the aircraft's surprise visit and wanting to talk about it! It's not everyday that an aircraft bound for outer space make a brief flyby or even some strange practice maneuver on the street! Everyone else, though, took it matter-of-factly. The neighbors just went on with what they were doing; Anna was still on the bike; and my parents were still watching and discussing the news on tv. I'm assuming that my brother was somewhere else with his friends in this dream.  
Since it's impossible that my siblings and my parents wouldn't be distracted (or as excited as I would be) by the appearance of a space ship, I woke up.
Oh well, the weird dream must be due to blood loss and dehydration. I donated 500 cc of whole blood yesterday at the blood drive organized by the Red Cross, the Rotary Club of West Bay, and IRRI.