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Showing posts from March, 2014

impromptu trip to Pagsanjan Falls

On a bright sunny Sunday afternoon, Matty and I found ourselves on a spontaneous boating trip down Pagsanjan River to see the waterfalls and to shoot the rapids... something I haven't done previously despite being in Sta Cruz many times a year. I came ill-prepared to document our trip; if only I knew, I would've packed my camera gear with me, complete with tripod. But since my gear wasn't with me, I just had to go ahead and settle with my iPad's camera function. Next time, my SLR will be lugged along.
The water at the Pagsanjan River was pretty calm as we settled into the boat ride. The boatmen, conserving their energy for the tricky parts of the river, weren't paddling at first. Instead, a motorized boat was pulling our boat up until we encountered our first set of rocks.

Along the way, we were interviewing the bangkeros. Turned out that the annual regatta of Pagsanjan boatmen was happening the day after we went to shoot the rapids! That was uncanny timing right …

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, part 3

My parents had grand plans about this year's vacation: walking down colonial era memory lane, digging one's toes into the sand, and lounging beside crystal clear waters. 
... And so my family ended up in Bagac, Bataan. More specifically, we spent a weekend at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.
Bataan is a province I've been to only once before but it's a place of curiosity for me because that's where the Philippines' only (mothballed) nuclear plant is found. This was in the back of my mind when morning came and I just realized how close I was to the facility when I saw it while walking on the beach.
The beach in Bagac isn't white. It's grayish; because of the dark color, it could get pretty hot as the day progressed. Unfortunately, my mom's not into swimming, any water sport, or staying by the beach so we just had a good look, Anna and Daddy got an ice cream, and I took photos of the beach. Then we headed off to the pool.

I wonder then what made my…

Exploring Singapore in three days, part 4

I was inSingapore in Januaryto attend an MBA orientation for prospective students at INSEAD. While there, I took the time to explore the city and learn a bit more about its history and culture.
I might have avoided the touristy spots, but I couldn't help but visit two architectural features of Singapore on my last evening in the city: the Supertrees and the Marina Bay Sands resort. Yes, the Merlion was supposed to be close by but I wasn't able to get there because of time constraints.
Marina Bay Sands Wow! That was my first impression when I saw it from my cab en route to my hotel from the airport. It's supposed to be the world's most expensive building and I was able to step inside it!! The exteriors were more interesting for me so I stepped out to take photos. Then I realized that the wind was so strong where I was standing that it was really hard to get a good photo of the building, in the dark, without a tripod. The view was breath-taking, nonetheless.

The three-buildi…

Exploring Singapore in three days, part 3

I was inSingapore in Januaryto attend an MBA orientation for prospective students at INSEAD. While there, I took the time to explore the city and learn a bit more about its history and culture.
I aside from eating, shopping, and visiting museums and art galleries, I also checked out the houses of worship. It's fascinating to see temples of different religions just a few paces away from each other. I didn't enter the Hindu temples but I was allowed to observe what's going in a Chinese temple. No photographs were allowed inside, so I just took photos outside the temples. The temples' facades were more ornate and complex than those of Roman Catholic churches. I've never been to Hindu temples so the experience of seeing some up close was overwhelming, if not intimidating. The Chinese temple was similar to the temple I've visited in Cebu City so it wasn't such a foreign experience. I visited Roman Catholic parishes and was free to talk photos of the exteriors and…

Exploring Singapore in three days, part 2

I was inSingapore in Januaryto attend an MBA orientation for prospective students at INSEAD. While there, I took the time to explore the city and learn a bit more about its history and culture.
There are two things I wouldn't pass up on when I'm in a city for the first time (aside from visiting museums and art galleries): food and shopping! In my Singapore adventure's case, it's too expensive to go shopping so I did the next best alternative, window shopping.

Food trip! One thing I failed to ask before I flew was about etiquette in eating in such places in Singapore, especially when it comes to grabbing a table. Turns out that it's perfectly fine to share a table here with strangers and to make small talk with them. The first group of people I had my meal with even gave me tips about the good places to visit aside from the touristy places. Since my interest was more cultural exposure, they recommended that I visit the temples that were just further along the road. Th…

Exploring Singapore in three days, part 1

I was in Singapore in January to attend an MBA orientation for prospective students at INSEAD. While there, I took the time to explore the city and learn a bit more about its history and culture.
I did stay away from many of the tourist must-sees listed in travel books but I think I ticked off a few sites in my list of cultural landmarks. I ended up seeing art galleries and the national museum for most of the short time I had spent in Singapore... This means only one thing: I have a reason to go back and explore it again!
Art galleries It's fascinating to see how people express themselves in the visual arts. Singapore is relatively young and is still in search of its identity as a country cherishing its position as a mixing pot of different cultures and ethnicities. I didn't see many European Renaissance art pieces in the galleries I've been to but I did see a strong pull towards Asian artistic styles... something I don't normally see in Philippine museums (except for …

Singapore, here I come!

Barely having finished unpacking my bags after my trip to Hong Kong in January, I had to board a plane again, this time to visit INSEAD Singapore, one of the best business schools in Southeast Asia. Yes, I plan on pursuing an MBA or MSc Economics so I've been visiting business schools and interacting with people  currently enrolled or already finished with their programs.
My Singapore trip turned out to be an adventure in itself because it took me 14 hours to get there and being alone in a different country is an experience I haven't had since I went to Brisbane last (for my graduation). Nevertheless, it's fun.
14 hours to Singapore Yes, it took me 14 hours to get to Singapore. I got bumped off my Manila-Singapore five-hour flight because the original plane was malfunctioning and the alternate plane was a smaller one. The ground crew found me a seat in a Cebu-Singapore flight, which meant that I had to catch the next flight to Cebu to make it in time! This must be how it f…

Seasons of love (for that fire tree)

(Almost) ten years ago, I got what I thought was the best seat in the GQNC bullpen. Today, I still think that it's a prime piece of real estate and it would be interesting to see how things will play out in the lab after the pioneers move on with their careers and their lives. This sentiment came about as I was listening to the cast of Rent's recording of "Seasons of Love" over the lunch break, a song I particularly like.
Speaking of seasons, I'm amazed with the view. The fire tree that I could see through my window is ever changing its appearance, marking the changes in seasons. It's bare during the summer and then grows leaves over the rainy season... Eventually leading to a burst of vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges.
A reminder that nothing is permanent, perhaps. Or maybe that everything comes full circle. And somehow, I could associate these with circumstances I and my colleagues face these days....
The group as it had been for the past decade, my famil…

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, part 2

My parents had grand plans about this year's vacation: walking down colonial era memory lane, digging one's toes into the sand, and lounging beside crystal clear waters. 
... And so my family ended up in Bagac, Bataan. More specifically, we spent a weekend at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.

Travel Time.
Maalala Mo Kaya.
Aawitan Kita.

Yes, I felt like I teleported and landed on the set of these shows just because the music that welcomed me and my family that night were popular back in the old days. And when I say old, I mean really old. According to my dad, we were listening to songs that my 98-year old grandma used to listen to as a teenager!

The music was far from boring, contrary to my expectations. There was an open-air performance at the plaza where dancers performed a lively suite of folk dances. In between dances, a singing duo called Kundiman si Lolo, si Lola serenaded the audience with kundiman and Filipino novelty songs. Lolo (Roel Roma) and Lola (Hazel Corpus) even …

When the cat is away, the mice take over the iPad.

I was asked to adjust Kuya Jun's SLR camera settings. So I handed my iPad to the girls and tweaked with the knobs on the SLR. A few minutes with them, the iPad started collecting group pictures. The girls had a field day. Guess who instigated the impromptu photo shoot...

I wanted to get into the fun too!

Review: Starting Over Again (2014)

Wednesday night was movie night for Fe, Tita Dory, Kuya Ferdie, and me. We trooped to SM San Pablo to watch Star Cinema's movie entitled "Starting Over Again". There were mixed opinions about how this movie ended, which piqued my curiosity, motivating me to watch it in the theater rather than wait for it to air on cable TV. Going in, I didn't have any expectations except that it's supposed to be very good; after all, people waited in long lines when it first started showing in theaters. 
The movie managed to make me cringe, laugh, get angry, tear up, and find catharsis... all in 120 minutes. Piolo Pascual and Toni Gonzaga effectively led us through the emotional roller-coaster of Marco and Ginny's fractured relationship in a very realistic way; the way the movie ended was just what I expected after going through the two-hour wringer with these two characters.
The movie's scriptwriter (Carmi Raymundo) and the director (Olivia M. Lamasan) are GENIUSES. It&…

Review: Seize your glory!

I insisted that Anna join me in watching 300: Rise of an Empire (2014) on Saturday. I saw 300 during the week on cable so I was really keen on seeing the sequel.
The director used the same color scheme as the previous movie... He also used the similar effects, like the slow-mo shots that pepper the screen. But somehow, there was something missing...
Right. King Leonidas and his three hundred were dead... and being trampled on by the self-proclaimed god-king (who Leonidas had personally reminded of his mortality), Xerxes. 
Leonidas regarded the leaders of the other city states as weak so he opted that he and his Spartan soldiers to die gloriously in battle. The Athenian leader (the protagonist in the sequel), on the other hand, while perceived to be less commanding than Leonidas, I think, was the wiser one: he knew that the sacrifice of the 300 at the Battle of Thermopylae had the potential to unit the Greek Army. All he had to do was to stop the invasion of the Persian navy while Gre…

Miriam Defensor-Santiago in the house!!

So, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago visited IRRI for the International Women's Day 2014 celebration to talk about women as agents of change. As always, she was feisty and witty all throughout her talk. She brought the house down with her spunky introduction (though some of her spiels were at the expense of some of her colleagues in the Senate).
And if the politician's visit wasn't enough, the audience were also treated to a performance by the head of communications, Tony Lambino. Imagine, we were bumping elbows with celebrities! But wait, there's more...
A friend of mine works for the Senator. So, when I asked if he were with the entourage, he confirmed it. He also included a photo from his vantage point (he has the better angle, I admit). :)
When I thought that things had quieted down after the seminar, lo and behold, Senator Miriam sent out a tweet!
Thank you @peteytommy and @rochiecuevas for this pic of Tony Lambino serenading me.…

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, part 1

My parents had grand plans about this year's vacation: walking down colonial era memory lane, digging one's toes into the sand, and lounging beside crystal clear waters. 
My plan was way simpler: I wanted to swim and get a tan caused by spending time in the water. It's been too long since I was in a beach last. The tan I had before my parents' visit was all courtesy of my time basking in the sunshine as a Rice Survivor last year. Yes, that is NOT a joke.
So after a bit of planning, we ended up taking the 250ish-km drive to Bagac, Bataan. This is officially the first road trip of the Civic and I had my mom, dad, and sister with me for a change! The Jazz's first road trip? I was alone when I went to a friend's wedding in Lucena. But that's a story for another post.
Anyway, back to Bagac...
It was evening by the time we reached Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar, a resort reknowned for featuring and restoring Spanish era houses and traditional Filipino homes. I dr…

Even my music sheets are paperless!

DISCLAIMER: I am merely a beginner in playing the piano.
I got interested in playing the piano as a kid when I first watched a recital. However, interest alone, obviously, is not enough for me to become a piano player outside my house. My interest shifted to other things (including a kite-flying phase, which I relapse into every February). Nevertheless, I kept at reading sheet music... on paper.
Then came environmental consciousness, the paperless trend, and the internet.
With the easy accessibility of electronic copies of every imaginable piece of documentation, I've started downloading music sheets of pieces that I'd like to learn to play. I got the easy arrangements, admittedly. I don't want to be discouraged by complicated pieces yet.
Someone's got to start somewhere right? 

... So what is Mozart doing there?!?

first stop: museums and art galleries

Dr Neil Bearden, associate professor at INSEAD Singapore, posits that distinctions matter. As soon as we start seeing distinctions, the world becomes a more colorful place to live in. We start seeing the details and appreciating diversity. I guess what he's saying is true. For me, cities are the same at first glance: tall buildings, traffic jams, garden patches. But once I scratch the surface of a city's culture, I learn of its colorful past, its search for identity, and (sometimes) its outlook towards the future.
What better place to learn all these things---short of immersion---than a museum and an art gallery, right? So on my first visit to cities, I normally end up visiting these. I skip the theme parks, the landmarks, and such.
In the Philippines, I've visited quite a few museums. Metro Manila has quite a few; my friends and I have yet to check off all museums in our list! Then there are the museums found in the provinces. One of the most memorable to me is the Bontoc…

"A rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet."

On Valentine's Day, I became recipient of flowers: a real rose from the boys in the lab and a pastillas shaped and colored like a rose. The edible flower didn't have a card on it so I thought it was left on my desk by mistake. But since nobody claimed it by the end of the day, I claimed it for my own before the ants had a chance to attack it.

The roses brought back memories of junior year in high school. Ms Apalin was introducing the class to the timeless plays of Shakespeare, starting with the tragic story of Romeo and Juliet. One of the passages stuck to my mind: 
"What’s in a name? that which we call a roseBy any other name would smell as sweet"
Food scientists and marketing researchers would disagree, however. A product's success is attributable to its naming and branding strategy. In one of the industry-oriented immersions I've been through, I noticed that product developers were very concerned with the images brand names conjure in the minds of consumer…

off the tourist path... in Hong Kong

Chill and I were in Hong Kong for a total of three days for the Asia Society HK food program. It would've been too bad if we weren't able to explore this cosmopolitan city... especially since we were not in any tour group. This meant we didn't have to spend time in a jewelry shop (at last!) and that we'd decipher how to ride the subway and the cable car. Basically, we retraced some of the steps I've taken when I was last in Hong Kong with the Grain Quality group and then added a few more stops.
Victoria Harbour and Avenue of the Stars These two venues got very crowded even with the low temperature. 
Despite the cold, Chill and I decided to suck it up and watch the Symphony of Lights. It's a 15-minute entertaining show of light beams shooting from some of the skyscrapers lining the Victoria Harbour in time with a music. The best thing about it is that it's free since we opted to watch from the Kowloon side of the harbor. However, this did not lend the best v…

my big year... sort of

No, this post is not about drastic changes in my life that made 2014 a bigger year than the previous ones. No, this post is not about me gaining weight. Rather, it's about me and my intermittent bird chases on my trips. So yeah, this post is inspired both by the IRRI birds exhibit and the movie Big Year (2011)
I don't carry with me the extremely long lenses that birders often use. I don't sit still for a long time waiting for a bird to take a pose. And I don't bother with the birds' behaviors or with their names. 
Want to help me out with the bird names? Feel free to add the common, or even the scientific, names in the comments! I'm adding bird photos as I go along. Here we go...

                                                                 (Los Banos, 2014)