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Showing posts from December, 2016

2016 in a nutshell

Aside from starting the year by flying over a grueling route, I list a few things that made 2016 another hallmark year...
The Philippine Supreme Court votes against the development and the consumption of genetically modified organisms. This is an example of people who aren't experts in science tend to be the ones making decisions about them... without listening to scientific explanations. Maybe they invoked the "who are they [the scientists] to play God?" argument while mulling over the pros and cons of GM crops. One thing is certain: the people who will benefit the most from the consumption and purchase of nutritionally superior, virtually pesticide-free, highly abundant crops will have to wait for yet another decade (at least) before the products see the light of day.

... And then the ruling was reversed. The Supreme Court decided thus because the field trials were already finished and that the issue was already moot. However, this is not time to rest: scientists have t…

lava tubes!

The tour group I was with made a stop to see lava tubes along the Kalanianole Highway called Hālona Blowhole. Here, the lava tubes formed in such a way that when the waves crashed in a particular manner, the sea spray would shoot through the tubes, mimicking geysers. 
And it's such a treat for me because I have never had the opportunity to see geysers in real life. It was a wow moment for me.

Since I was touring the great outdoors, I found myself lucky to see mongoose scurrying about near the parking lot. The tour guide told my tour group that these animals are actually invasive, meaning that they've been introduced by people. In the mongoose's case, people intended them to combat the rat population that came with sugarcane plantation. However, the farmers made a major blunder: the rats were nocturnal while the mongoose were awake during the day. Therefore, the animals did not even meet!

Near the blowhole, I found myself overlooking at one of the best sights I've ever …

Nu'uanu Pali: O'ahu's very own Thermopylae

Eight years ago, I was in Honolulu right after I submitted my thesis for evaluation by external panelists. Back then, I was using a Canon Powershot point-and-shoot. This year, I went to Honolulu again, carrying, once again, another Canon Powershot! Anyway, I revisited the Nu'uanu Pali Lookout, a famous spot in O'ahu's Ko'olau Mountain. It became famous because back when Hawai'i was a collection of small kingdoms. King Kamehameha I came from the Hawai'i Island and conquered Maui. When he fought the king of O'ahu, he drove the king's men to the Nu'uanu Pali from where they were driven off the cliff. After that, King Kamehameha I was able to unite the islands into what was to become the Kingdom of Hawai'i.

Sounds familiar?
Certainly, particularly the falling part. It's very similar to the story of King Leonidas in the movie 300.  In that movie, Leonidas kicked the Persian ambassador into the pit after he didn't like the news that the ambas…

chicken biryani, Concord style

I've tasted what is touted to be the best chicken biryani in the world, which is found in Hyderabad. While I was in Hyderabad, my parents discovered an Indian restaurant called Naan 'n' Curry in Concord. So when I finally popped in, they proposed that we eat there one night so I could taste the Indian food, Concord style. 
The chicken biryani was also good, but I have to admit that it's no match to the chicken biryani I ate in Hyderabad. There's something about the flavours, or perhaps even the atmosphere of actually being in India, that added a kick to my experience of eating the biryani there. On the other hand, the  flavours of the chicken biryani in Concord was probably toned down to cater to the preferences of the non-South Asians who frequent the place... it was jam-packed!
So the biryani was good, but I was totally blown away by the tikka masala. It was so delicious that I could skip the meat and just pour the curry sauce over my basmati rice! Perfect on a …

sneak peek at Polynesian culture

Hawaii is geographically part of the Polynesia, a region in the central and the southern parts of the Pacific Ocean. These are some of the most remote islands in the planet and I had the opportunity to fly to some of these islands via United Airlines' Island Hopper route last year. I just stayed in the airports back then because we were just literally island hopping. 
This time around, I thought I might be able to see a bit more of the culture when my tour group made a lunch stop at the Polynesian Cultural Centre in Laie. There were potentially six villages we could visit to see the different cultural exhibits: Samoa, Fiji, Hawaii, Tonga, Tahiti, and Aotearoa. However, we were just passing by (from the Hukilau Marketplace to the barbecue lunch) so everything I had was just a sample of the cake called Polynesia.

One of the things I noticed was the hand sign demonstrated by the statue outside the centre... I understand that it is called shaka and it means "hang loose" (am…

we found whales!!

I was at Diamond Head Beach Park, one of the hidden beaches near Waikiki, with Duane and Didi (who are Lorie's friends). Originally, we wanted to hike Diamond Head but we arrived too late in the day. So instead, we opted to wait out the sunset on the beach. We just didn't know yet which one.
We stopped when we saw that there were many people surfing because we figured that there must be a way there (either on foot or by car). We're sure that the other people have passed the warning signs about the hazards of going beyond the road level and the memorial for who I assume must be a fallen surfer. 

Despite these warnings, people still took the risk and caught the waves. Take note, it's winter. The water must be frigid!

While watching the many surfers in the water, I glanced further into the horizon and saw water spurting out of the sea. That couldn't be a whale, I thought. My eyes must be playing tricks on me. And then another spouted water into the air... okay, that&…

lactose-free pineapple ice cream? C'est possible!

How can ice cream be lactose-free? And how can it be pineapple flavoured? I mean, there's ice cream that isn't made up of milk? And have food developers figured out how to deal with the enzymes in pineapples that break down milk proteins?
Apparently, Hawaiians have pineapple ice cream as a regular treat. So, I wanted to try this yummy dessert...  and I was particularly interested because I am lactose-intolerant. I finally got to taste this at the Dole Plantation in Wahiawa, Hawaii, in the heart of the island of O'ahu. 

And no, I didn't ride the choo-choo train to reach the ice cream shop. This train is intended for visitors who wanted to visit the plantation and to see the famous maze. For some reason, seeing the train in the context of pineapples reminded me of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, the film I first saw in Sydney and whose numerous scenes were shot in central Australia. 

I was quite worried that there might be a long queue for the ice cream at the shop becau…

At Pearl Harbor

I've watched Band of Brothers. But that's about the European theatre of World War II. I also tried to watch The Pacific, which featured the Pacific theatre of WWII. However, I couldn't stand it because I felt that it was too close to home. I mean, I saw tropical beaches, grasslands, houses... basically the scenes typical of my home; and there was war happening there, right outside my neighbourhood. I also watched Pear Harbor, which maxed Hollywood's fictional license in depicting how the attacks happened. It may be fiction, but it bore Pearl Harbor into the minds of those who were born way after WWII... when we feel that it's in our distant past. But since I was in O'ahu, I wanted to visit Pearl Harbor, where the USA was forced into joining the fray of WWII on December 7, 1941. Coincidentally, this year is the 75th anniversary of that event, so I thought it is just fitting to pay a visit... a few days after the commemoration. And so at the crack of dawn, I fou…

bird-watching in O'ahu

Thanks to the 40x optical zoom of my point-and-shoot, I was able to capture photos of birds. In O'ahu this time. However, I wasn't able to go on an intentional bird-watching walk... unlike in ICRISAT. So here are the birds I was able to capture using my camera. There were more birds in O'ahu, of course. They were just too fast for me to photograph.

Maybe I should seriously take bird-watching as one of my hobbies.

Orville and Lorie get married!!

So the day of the reason I stopped over in Honolulu came around. It is the wedding day of one of friends from high school, Orville Baldos! He's tying the know with Lorie Tongco, who he introduced to me, Rizza, and Kuya Rhulyx (in person) a few months ago.
They had a very tasteful and simple wedding at the Co-Cathedral of Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus. I was the only one who made it among Orville's high school friends. But it's okay because I was able to meet again one of our common friends from college, Chester Dabalos. Also, I got introduced to Lorie's friends Didi and Duane. It is, literally, an intimate wedding because only a few friends and family were in attendance. 

Since the wedding wasn't as grand as the other weddings I attended this year, it fell upon us guests to record the memories coming from the wedding. The couple had a team document the ceremony but they had already left... they weren't able to capture the scenes at the church after the cere…

partying, the Polynesian style

Lanikunhonua, also known as Paradise Cove, is a secluded beach area found in Kapolei, a fast-growing residential area in the island of O'ahu. For me, though, the rapid development isn't so obvious at the resort because I went there to witness a luau, the traditional Hawaiian party. It's complete with food and entertainment, a perfect way to close a day of walking around Waikiki and getting my computer fixed.
As I arrived in Paradise Cove, I was welcomed with a lei and a choice between a mai tai (what is a mai tai?) and orange juice as welcome drink. Then I was guided to my assigned seat for the show. After that, I was free to roam around the resort and partake of the activities before sunset. As I was learning the Hawaiian translation of my name, the band was serenading me and the rest of the guests at this luau. They were singing songs in the local language so I had no idea what they were singing... but they sounded good, adding to the winter-at-the-beach atmosphere.