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Showing posts from October, 2014

#IRC2014: I know those people in the telly!

Late at night, after the opening ceremony, I started flipping channels back in my room. I settled on a local channel because there were no English channels. So with the ambient noise in check, I started reviewing Twitter posts about the event and catching up on unread messages.

Hang on... was that Dr Matthew Morell's face? And then there's Dr Bruce Tolentino! And the other faces... those were sitting in the front row of BITEC's grand hall earlier that day. The local late-night news covered the opening ceremony! (In Thai, of course, so I didn't understand anything.)
Unfortunately, I wasn't quick enough... I was watching the telly but I forgot to take a picture of the screen. 
A few days later, I was back watching a local telenovela, albeit not understanding a word of what the actors were saying, followed by a news clip (I think). 

I know those people, AGAIN!!! 
The clips were taken at the IRRI exhibit. Wow! The International Rice Congress really was getting some me…

#IRC2014: the IRRI exhibit

When the exhibition space opened, I was amazed with what I saw. This was IRRI's exhibit at the International Rice Congress, brimming with information about the science that we do to contribute to the alleviation of hunger, reduction of poverty, saving the environment, and conservation of cultures.

The main attraction, in my opinion, was the flood-tolerant rice display, with fish swimming in it. 
Thank you to everyone in the exhibit team! We had a blast during the International Rice Congress! Thanks to Paul, Tita Lolit, and Ate Mahlie for taking care of the rice-tasting portion of the exhibit while I attended scientific sessions. Thank you so much, Nese and Tony for flying me over to Bangkok to be part of the exhibit. And thank you to the delegates who dropped by the IRRI exhibit and tasted rice!

#IRC2014: I'm part of the press!

Sixteen years ago, I was the Science section editor of The Ruralite, the school organ of UP Rural High School. That was the year I last wore a press badge... Until I was given one on Monday, October 27, 2014. I was attending the International Rice Congress as a member of the press!!

The experience, I was sure, would be a unique one. I wasn't going to the conference as a delegate. I didn't have a talk or a poster. My main assignment as a member of the press, this time around, was to post tweets on my personal Twitter account. That was easy enough, I thought, since I've been doing this since the Global Rice Science Partnership took off a few years ago. 
A member of the press. For one week only. Ooooh! This brought back good old memories of running around looking topics to feature, people to interview, and articles to write, in high school!
Thank you, Tony and Nese, for sending me over to the IRC!

#IRC2014: The hunt for goldfish

I've prepped my part of the IRRI exhibit, which was why I wanted to see if there's anything I could do to help...

Paul: Can you buy fighting fish or goldfish? Rochie: Fish? As in, live fish?!? What's the fish for? P: We'll put it with the flood-tolerant rice... Buy fish food and anti-chlorine tablets as well. R (scratching her head): Where in Bangkok am I supposed to find live fish?!?
Since Otep, another attendee at the International Rice Congress, was finished with his chores, I asked him to go with me to search for fish. The staff at the Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Center gave directions to the fish shop and instructions on commuting via the BTS SkyTrain. It was an exciting time for me because it's my first time to visit Bangkok and I was already going to try riding the train! So, off Otep and I went, with spring to our step. This was an opportunity to see the city!
The hunt for fish had officially begun.

As per instruction, we disembarked at the Udom …

#IRC2014: my journey to Bangkok was filled with laughter

Matty: Let's take the flight together. Then we can watch Fawlty Towers on iPad in the air.
Rochie: We are on the same flight!! Fawlty Towers flight!!

M: My iPad is completely Rochie-fied... Loaded with Fawlty Towers, Chef!, The Office, etc.
R: Cool!! We have lots to watch for in-flight entertainment. :D


And so my flight to Bangkok, Thailand promised to be something I could look forward to after a very long 72-hour day. The weather was good; not too hot and not rainy either. The traffic was fast-moving most of the way from my house to the airport. I got to the airport first; so while waiting for Matty, I was people watching... well, counting how many IRRI staff were taking the same flight that we were taking this afternoon.
During check-in, I forgot to request for us to sit together (something I've never bothered about before because I normally fly alone). Good thing he had an aisle seat a few rows up. It's easier to trade aisle seats than middle seats (one of which was my…

#IRC2014: buzzer beating photo finish

7:00pm-ish. Wednesday.

Rochie, we need to include a chart that shows improvements in rice breeding.
Rochie, please provide links to photos from the institute Flickr account so we can extract high-resolution images for the banners.
Rochie, use the previous posters as sources for the new banners. Let's include this and this... not this anymore...
Rochie, it's 7pm now. We'll need text and images tomorrow, by lunch time, to ensure that the banners will get printed on time.
Pressure, right? Lem, a member of the Comms team, described what we were about to pull off as a photo finish. 
Indeed it was. A buzzer beater too, if I may add, because Boyet, the layout artist was flying today to Bangkok to help with the exhibit set up.
Everything was made ready in time, despite the short notice, only because everyone involved worked as a tightly knit team. That part of the exhibit of which I'd be in became possible through the efforts of a lot of people working like a well-oiled machine. …

AdMU days: and just like that, the term's over

I've taken up a teaching assignment at the Ateneo de Manila University. This semester, I teach Biotechnology for Everyone, a course designed for non-biology majors. I'll write about my experiences from time to time.

Once upon a time, these kids have dreamed of stepping into their dream university, ready to take on the world. One academic term into their programs at the Ateneo and now they are well on their way to make their next dreams come true: to earn a degree that will light paths to careers and experiences of their choosing.

It's been a privilege for me to have known these bright students somewhat, because I only taught them in one course: how they think, how they see the world of science, and how they think and feel about contributing to the development of the country.

As they trudge on in college, I wish them all well and I promise them that everything will happen for the best. Later on in life, they will look back to faded memories and hazy images of their first semes…

AdMU days: Losing sleep over exams

I've taken up a teaching assignment at the Ateneo de Manila University. This semester, I teach Biotechnology for Everyone, a course designed for non-biology majors. I'll write about my experiences from time to time.
If there's one thing I've realised about teaching, it is this: It leads to several sleepless nights, particularly when preparing for lectures or for exams. Students like me (before I took this teaching stint) never really think or appreciate how much effort teachers put into each lesson, quiz, class activity, or test. This is why I felt, throughout the term, that I had a backstage pass–a the-making-of view, if you will–into what goes on in a teacher's life. Take note, I am hardly a teacher, spending only five hours a week in uni, officially; however, the pre- and the post-class tasks make up more time than I had expected.
I love preparing exams that challenge students to think (such as essay writing and problem solving). If students find these types of …

Not again! (*groan*)

Today ended so unexpectedly.
I had a pretty hectic day filled with meetings and number crunching. I was walking to Val's office fresh from a previous meeting. Val and I were supposed to work on our report but something more urgent came up for him to finish so he cancelled our workshop over the phone and I started walking back to the lab.

As I was getting off the curb at Pili Drive, however, I twisted my right ankle (inversion) pretty badly. At first, I thought I could deal with the pain until I reached the lab (which was still a good five-minute brisk walk); but my first step after my mishap was so painful that I opted to drag my foot to the clinic (which was closer) instead. The doctor at the clinic gave me painkillers and had my foot bandaged with Ace and Kuya Jun fetched me and brought me back to the lab.

A few hours later, I was in hospital, getting my foot x-rayed. Rhulyx and Rizza kindly drove me over to the hospital's emergency room while Tita Mely, Tita Lucy, and Ate …

the party continued after the wedding party

This must be how it felt like after The Avengers defeated the alien army led by Loki into Earth and they have proceeded to the shawarma restaurant in New York (post-credit scene).
Peace. Quiet. Good comfort food.
Well, in our case, my friends and I didn't come from a highly violent fight-for-our-lives episode. Instead, we came from Grace and TJ's wedding party and went over to Chili's for starters and for dessert! Party music was replaced with the ambient noise from the telly. The adrenaline rush (of 'competing' for prizes) had already worn off. It was time to simply catch up with friends I haven't seen for a long while and to get to know the significant others who were present (Prad, Christine's husband, and Benjo, Jyas' boyfriend).
Ahh... And yes, to be grilled about being the party's equivalent of the wedding bouquet catcher. Plus to hear a running commentary, from the boys, about their first impressions about the guy who won the garter. Hahaha!!

Grace and TJ get married!!

An old saying goes:

"Good friends are like stars. You don't see them but you know that they are always there."

And then there are days when you just drop everything you're doing to be with your friends on special occasions. During those times, it feels like seeing shooting stars!
This year, one of my friends from high school, Grace, got married. It was one of the best wedding celebrations I have ever attended. How couldn't it be? There was good food, great music, and I got the absolute best seat in the house: on the same table with my high school barkada
Grace married TJ, who I met for the first time on their wedding day. This was also my first time to meet Christine's husband, Prad; NiƱa's boyfriend, Christian; and my second time to meet Jyas' boyfriend, Benjo. All the while, I was wondering: where was I for the last several years?!? Oh right, not in Manila.
Anyhow, being with them was the perfect way to set the mood. I think there was a bit of frie…

AdMU days: First day high

I've taken up a teaching assignment at the Ateneo de Manila University. This semester, I teach Biotechnology for Everyone, a course designed for non-biology majors. I'll write about my experiences from time to time.

First day of classes finally arrived in June. My very first set of students was composed of economics, diplomacy, management engineering, and political science majors. They're freshmen, some being the cream of the crop of their high school classes. 

Nervous? You bet I was! 

Did they notice the nerves? I hope that they didn't because I know how students could behave badly when they get wind that they've gotten a first-timer for an instructor.

Anyway, the first day went as smoothly as it could be. I was quite happy. The students seemed to be bubbly eager beavers, which would definitely make my job of teaching them relatively easy. So on our first day, we just went through the syllabus and the house rules. The actual lessons would be dished out during the seco…

my dream of flying came true! (sort of)

Anna and I were watching Sports Unlimited one Saturday evening and we saw a segment featuring Flying Trapeze Philippines. Right after the segment, we talked about doing it the next weekend. And so we went to Bonifacio Global City to give ourselves quite a scare weeks ahead of Halloween.
Before we were allowed to fly, the instructors gave specific directions on the ground. We learned how to hook our legs on a stationary handlebar and then let our hands go; ready to grab the catcher's hand. We were also taught how to jump off in mid swing, doing a backflip (and look poised in the process)... all theoretical, of course, since we were still on the ground.
Then the most frightening part of it all, the first ascent to the platform where we'd grab the real trapeze handle bar. This experience reminded me of the first time I ever went on the edge of a building to rappel in San Pablo City; the first time I hopped off a boat into Caliraya Lake to wakeboard; the first time I stepped onto…

there and back again: the Subic edition

Nelzo decided, at the last minute, that he wanted to go with me on my first road trip (ever) to Subic, Zambales so that he could join me in visiting our friend, Nellie Ann and her family. Since I didn't have access to the magical world's Floo Network, we didn't have much of a choice but to travel by land. Together with his churchmate, Khim, we drove along SLEX, NLEX, and SCTEX for about three hours to reach Subic. The landscape and the (no) traffic scenes on the NLEX and the SCTEX, on this rare occasion that I drove during daytime, were picturesque. However, since I was the designated driver, Nelzo takes the credit for the road shots. :)
Here's the thing: when I drive long distances, like this 400-km roundtrip road trip to Subic, I normally bring sweets with me to boost my energy. However, I forgot to bring some of my Skittles and my one bag of Maltesers for the ride (*sigh*). So we stopped at one of the giant NLEX gas stations to bump up my sugar supply.

When we arri…

my top 10 teachers I want to sit in classes of

Being one in celebration of World Teachers' Day, and having first dibs at what a vocation teaching is, I list down the top 10 teachers whose classes (if they do hold classes) I want to attend or have attended. Interesting, this list turned out to be. When I started composing it from the top of my head, most of the names that popped up are not of biologists or food scientists. Most of them are experts in the social sciences. Prof Payawal, the only one from the Biological Sciences, even taught his course with a heavy dose of social science!
Does that imply anything? Perhaps, I'm trying to understand science in the social context? Or maybe my interest in the social sciences came even much earlier, back in senior year high school when most of the university applications I submitted had social science as my major. 
Without further ado, my top 10 list of teachers I wish or I actually had attended the classes of:
 1. Ambeth Ocampo History has always been deemed as a steady, boring s…