Life is Motion

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Super size America!

Man, American servings are humongous! I gotta stay vigilant to keep off the calories....

I dont eat meat! This is my cousin's.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Only in the Philippines...

When Filipinos become exasperated and fed up with a great number of things that happened in this country, we often begin or end our sentences with, "Only in the Philippines..." I think I even have a memory of a show from my childhood that had that title. I may be imagining it or have dreamt about it though.

Regardless of my flawed memory, the sentiment "Only in the Philippines" though possibly inaccurate, often sums up our feelings of disbelief and disatisfaction even when Filipinos have clearly been deeply desentisized through the years of endless turmoil, scandals, and corruption.

Our latest drama is the legitimacy question of this current Arroyo administration. Every political scandal currently being played out in the Philippine drama stage traces its roots from the alleged electoral fraud Arroyo during the last presidential election.

Going back to my "Only in the Philippines..." moment, journalists and civic organizations will stage a bar tour called "STOP THE KILLINGS" beginning tommorow until December. Yes, you read it right, there is actually a bar tour featuring our country's top bands and performers that was organized to jolt the detached and tired nation to stand up against Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's brand of fascist democracy or fascism cloaked in democracy. Activists, leftists and journalists are being killed like flies every week, almost every day, and we read about it on the newspaper and see it on TV, but we are no longer shocked or disgusted. Our spirit and moral compass have been in coma, and there is no white knight to sweep us back to our feet-- only we can do that for ourselves.

The “Stop the Killings!” bar tour kicks off tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 21, at 70s Bistro, 46 Anonas St., Quezon City. Bands playing: The Dawn, The Jerks, Sandwich, Sugarfree, Brownman Revival and Radioactive Sago.

A concert tour as a call to end the rampant extra-judicial killings in a democratic country? Yes, only in the Philippines...

Friday, September 15, 2006

Grant Writing 101

Yesterday, I attended a seminar called "Winning Grant Proposal Writings" organized by
Tritium Knowledge Publishing, a group that conducts seminars on development issues. I guess it's obvious what the seminar was about.
It's supposed to enhance my grant proposal writing skills that I basically learned on my own when I was working in Russia. I was hoping that I'd get more technical information instead of the general outline of grant proposals that I already know about.

It bombed.

The lead resource person read everything that was given in our hand-outs. I could've just read the handout at home instead of listening to him drone on and on for 4 hours. I was expecting he'd cite pertinent examples for each guideline shown in the powerpoint presentation, but was sorely dissapointed.

The staff was also amateurish and did not know how to organize and run an event. One thing I learned working for a high-end Events and PR company is that an event has to run seamlessly and effortlessly. Even if crap is happening behind the scenes, the audience and participants should never know, and should not even have an inkling of what's going on. The staff should almost move shadowlike-- they're there, but you don't see them, and yet everything runs like clock work. With Tritium Knowledge, the staff were probably fresh graduates-- clumsy, loud, and did not even wear appropriate attires that the occassion called for. Heck, you have guess speakers from Friedrich Naumann Foundation, and the Pilipinas Shell Foundation, but your official photographer is wearing a sports shirt and jeans and looks as old as 15. Tacky!

On the plus side, I met like-minded people, and even managed to find the gumption to speak to the Resident Representative of Friedrich Naumann Foundation, Dr. Ronald Meinardus. It was a room of rich people that had nothing to do with money. The particpants came from all over the country, members of local NGOs and local government units, who are working hard to help the marginalized and poor majority of the country. I look around the room feeling a mix of awe, humility, and frustration. I am critical of this country's government, and even the attitude of most Filipinos that continue to contribute to this country's stagnation, but I didn't really acknowledged the real and existing people dedicated in helping this country. I feel small and invisibile amongst this group because as much as I can feel my need to contribute to my country's development, I also know the blood of capitalism and profit is strong and throbbing within me and I cannot sincerely say that I am willing to sacrifice living a good life(and yes, this is in connection with money) to work in the hinterlands and grassroots to serve the poor.
There is a way to serve and not to be a hypocrite, and I will learn how to do so as I go along.

"The Philippines is not a poor country; but it's a country that has a lot of poor people."

---Dr. Ronald Meinardus

Monday, September 11, 2006

Cold and wet Friday dinner

Yeah, we looked effn happy last Friday, but before my sister and I managed to have dinner with our Japanese friends, we had to get through some teeny tiny obstacles.

First, I got stuck in traffic for more than an hour. I was staring at rear lights of cars for more than an hour because no one can move the damn truck blocking 2 lanes in the highway which resulted to a 500 meter long bumper to bumper traffic.

Second, it was raining so bad, and one of the Japanese girls brought her mother and sister to dinner. I didn't mind her family joining us, but I felt somehow responsible that they had to walk for an hour under the rain becaus the taxi queue was just so long. Ater Terumi and her family alighted from the Edsa Metro station, they couldn't wait for a taxi seeing that the line was snaking a block because of the rain. They thought that Capones Bistro was just a short walk from the station based on the map they bought, but I guess they thought wrong. I feel so embarrassed that the poor mom had to walk through the rain and for an hour!!!

Lastly, Capone Bistro was a HUGE let down. I don't know what the magazine editors who featured this restaurant were thinking, but I vote 2 out of 5 stars for this place. The ambiance was boring. The interior design was negligible; you would hardly think you're in any place special. The food was just as bad. And it wasn't only the taste, even the presentation of the food was unappetizing. My dog can serve better food, and he can't even cook! I recommend people to skip this Makati dig altogether.

Inspite of that, we did have a great time, and I was so glad to see my friend Tomoko again! Till next time peeps!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Not just pure flash

I always wanted to share pictures of one of my favorite places in the Manila, so here goes:

Before the "boxing boom" arrived after local "celebrities" suddenly discovered this calorie burning sport, I was happily sweating out in my tiny corner of the world in Elorde boxing gym. It is owned and run by the family of Filipino boxing great, Gabriel "Flash" Elorde. But contrary to its namesakes, this gym is anything but flashy.

You come and you have to be prepared to whip your butt for a rigorous workout. No prissy, fluffy participants here or you'd look like a puss.

I love it.

Poster of Flash Elorde adorns the wall of the gym
Huffing boxer

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Spell m-o-r-o-n

And we're supposed to be a Democracy?

INjustice Secretary Raul Gonzalez gives his definition of "tolerance and educational freedom."

Gonzalez: UP breeds destabilizers, naked runners
By Armand Nocum
Published on page A5 of the August 27, 2006
issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

THIS time Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez has picked on the University of the Philippines school system, saying it mainly produces militant protesters and fraternity men and women who run around the campus naked.
“That school breeds the destabilizers that haunt the country year after year. They are acting as if they are the only ones who know how to run the country,” Gonzalez told the Inquirer yesterday.
He made it clear, however, that he was not assailing the entire university population because “there are many students there who are bright and good.”
Interviewed by phone while he was with President Macapagal-Arroyo in Guimaras, Gonzalez pointed to the Oblation run of the APO fraternity as another indication of the kind of students that came from UP.
“I doff my hat to them because they initiate the running of naked people... That’s also one kind of culture that they develop there,” he said, noting that women had begun to join the naked run as well which is held in December.
“Maybe we are going in that direction... there are now women running naked. I will not be surprised if they will go to school with only their books, nothing more,” he said.
Gonzalez made the statements while lamenting that UP was the site of numerous protest rallies and symposia calling for the resignation of President Arroyo.
“In every storm that takes place, UP students are in the forefront,” he said. “As a matter of fact, our history will show that since the martial law years, students from UP were the ones who went underground and fought the government. In fact, many of them went to China and never came back.”
Bomb-making in labs
Gonzalez said he came to see the militant activism of UP students first-hand during the First Quarter Storm of 1970 when then Sen. Genaro Magsaysay formed a panel to look into the violent protests there and he saw pillbox bombs being assembled in the school laboratories.
He said this was not the way the students should repay the government for giving them a world-class education.
“They should consider the fact that the state is the one paying for their schooling. Why fight the state? Why try to bring it down. I think some degree of gratitude should be there also,” he said.
He noted that UP had always been known as a “cradle of leadership” but he was worried that with the way some students there were acting, some serious questions would be raised about the “kind of leaders we will have in the future.”
But he said he was “not degrading UP per se,” but was only questioning the kind of students that came from it.
‘I am well-behaved’
He said the matter of the high “tolerance to education freedom” should be raised to UP officials and teachers during the annual budget hearing for the school.
Asked what school he graduated from, Gonzalez replied: “University of Sto. Tomas... that’s why I am well-behaved.”
Gonzalez is known for speaking his mind on most issues and creating controversy.
Earlier, when he was asked if he was going to arrest the widow of the late presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr. for inciting to sedition when she spoke out against President Arroyo, he said she was too pretty to be arrested.
Another time when it was revealed that he was undergoing dialysis for kidney stones, he said that was not what made him launch verbal tirades against critics of Ms Arroyo.
“What does [having the] balls [to say things] got to do with that?” he said when he was asked if the painful passing of stones in his urine was the reason he was grouchy to critics and media people.

This makes me utterly furious with this moronic old bulldog of our Honorable President. But let me present a fellow UP student and former classmate to summarize what UP students and most of the country actually think of Gonzalez:

By Patricia Evangelista
Published on page A11 of the September 3, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

I HAVE recently learned that I owe a debt of gratitude to Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez. “Some degree of gratitude,” must be due to the fact that I spent my college life in the University of the Philippines. I apologize for my omission, and can think of no way more apt than to share what he calls the “world-class education” that I have acquired in the four years I spent in UP. I will attempt to do justice to the underpaid and overworked professors who teach with ancient blackboards where today’s lectures are superimposed over diagrams from three years before. If I cannot, perhaps the good secretary would be interested in taking the class I took in my freshman year—Philo 11: Introduction to Logic.
In a statement just this week, Gonzalez laments the decline in quality of UP graduates. “That school,” he thunders, “breeds the destabilizers that haunt the country every year.”
In the interest of clarity, let us define the word “destabilizer.” A destabilizer, or an obstructionist, is one who deliberately chooses to oppose current norms. They mistrust much of what is claimed, perpetually demand for answers and admit only truths that they believe have basis in fact, logic, theory, precedence or their own personal standards. In the academe, however, they are called neither destabilizers nor obstructionists. The common word for these vile creatures is “scholar.”'
The reason students are sent to school is not to learn how to parrot government memoranda, or memorize the capitals of provinces in alphabetical order. Students study to learn how to think—not just to acquire a sheet of printed parchment to post on the wall. The capacity for critical thought is what separates the man from the beast. A dog can be trained how to sit, a monkey can walk across a tightrope, but it is the man who can choose to stand up and speak.
Contrary to what Gonzalez believes, it is not opposition to the government that characterizes the UP scholar. It is the opposition to passive acceptance, and a compulsion for thought. Gonzalez claims that he is not against all UP students, God forbid, because there are some who are “bright and good.” I assume he means those of us who do not rally, who do not march, who do not choose to side with the Left. By “bright and good,” he means “bright and good to the government of GMA.”
“It is the people’s taxes that is keeping UP alive,” he claims. Agreed. “It is the State that is paying for their schooling.” Agreed. “I think some degree of gratitude should be there also.” Agreed.
There is a difference, however, between the State and Secretary Gonzalez. He is not the State, however much he tries to convince us. Neither is the government of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The State is the people, the debt is to the people, the gratitude is to those who paid their taxes in the hope that the country’s best and brightest will do some good in the future.
The academe, more than anywhere else, is the hotbed of debate, a place where multiple perspectives clash, and every sort of ideology, theory and philosophy has a place. Disagreement is a norm, and is seen as a manifestation of critical thought. That UP breeds destabilizers is not a bad thing—after all, if stability means the kind of government we have today, then I stand for destabilization, too.
All of us agree on our debt to the country—all of us want to pursue the national interest. But because we are scholars, because we are taught to think, the manner we pursue that national interest and the definition of that national interest vary from student to student. The red-shirted activist in Mendiola is no less aware of that debt than the political science student who plans to join government.
This need to check the government, Gonzalez claims, “is degrading the national interest.” Who defines national interest? To Gonzalez, certainly not the people, and certainly not those who have been shot, strangled and maimed because of the administration’ s relentless pursuit of national interest.
Democracy is not the absence of dissent; it is the tolerance of the freedom to dissent, and the awareness that dissent can check the State’s enormous power. And still Justice Secretary Gonzales, in all smugness, demands that this “high tolerance to educational freedom,” should be raised in the annual budget hearing. I cannot believe I live in a country where education is threatened because it is used.
This is not simply an issue of an old man trying to strut his machismo by aiming potshots at students. It may be hard to believe—as this is the man who, I have a sneaking suspicion, is the opposition’s hired gun, the man who “forgave” Susan Roces because she was “too pretty to put in jail,” the man who told former President Aquino to first take care of her controversial daughter Kris before she opposes GMA; and the same man who claimed that the only reason he didn’t absolve three suspects in the Subic Bay rape case was that he had to “appease the mob.” He is the man whose snappy comeback to the impromptu Oblation Run held a week ago was to ask the fraternity men to “take off your masks and run naked.”
But irrelevant of the man, his denouncement of UP is an attempt—no matter how moronic, and no matter how laughable—to justify actions that would otherwise be unjustifiable. It is one of the dozens of persistent suggestions that the government is always on the side of right, that to oppose it is treachery and that to question it is to go against all standards of morality, honesty and patriotism. And all this is dangerous, at a time when people are tired of marching in the streets, tired of throwing out one corrupt leader after another, tired of the perpetual struggle for the rights and freedoms that are inexplicably being curtailed.
The government thrusts us back into the Dark Ages, where leaders are omnipotent and “the people” do not exist. Right is right, and wrong is wrong, and probing into the nature of the “enemy” is assumed to be support for the enemy. Those who oppose policies are “destabilizers,” or “NPA sympathizers” or “oppositionists.” To report truth that will compromise government approval ratings is “inciting to sedition,” a crime of which Gonzalez once accused the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. “Why fight the State?” Gonzalez demands, “Why try to bring it down?”
Gonzalez claims that he is proud to say he is from the University of Sto. Tomas, and that it is the reason he is “well-behaved.” I offer my sympathies to UST, and since I am also aware that there is much that is “bright and good’” in that school, I believe Gonzalez must be a case where good education has failed in creating an educated man. ( I hear you! I came from that school as well, and Gonzalez is a discredit even if he is under dillusions of grandeur!)
If this man is the epitome of what it is to be well-behaved, I’m glad that that’s a compliment I’ve never been paid.

The world has lost the Crocodile Hunter

I'm days late, but my internet connection was busted for the past 2 days.

A light has been extinguished. Call me whatever, but deaths such as Steve Irwin's make me mad more than sad. It makes me mad that such a beautiful and passionate life force is gone forever, and furious that a lot of evil people whose biggest contribution to the world would be their permanent dissaperance still remain alive and kicking.

Goodbye Steve! Continue to look after your animals and your family from wherever you are!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Don't hate me because I'm beautiful

It’s easy to hate beautiful people. By no virtue of their own, with absolutely no effort, and by simply winning the genetic lotto, they're immediately given a head start in navigating the confusing cauldron called life. Perfect symmetrical faces and body draw people unconsciously to them. All things being equal, there is a higher probability that the boss will promote the more beautiful employee. With 2 equally superior product presentations, the more striking sales officer would more likely clinch the deal. Beauty is power…. and all that cliché.

So it’s nice to comfort ourselves when we see evidence that beautiful people utilize their advantage in lieu of other tools known to man—like the brain. When beautiful people say stupid things, we can breathe a sigh of relief, pat ourselves on the back, and take comfort that even though we don’t have perfect cheekbones, we can atleast construct coherent sentences.

When we see beautiful, stupid and spoiled people, we can actually take out the champagne and make a toast. All is not lost after all for most average Joes!

Philippine entertainment is a most pit of beautiful, mostly talentless, young airheads. I can’t really blame the quality (or lack of) of our celebrities to plain stupidity and vanity like –say—Paris Hilton and Jessica Simpson. We live in the 3rd world, so a lot of beautiful people take the fastest way to wealth open to them, and in the Philippines, that’s show business.

Even though 80% of the population is poor, celebrities here can live the kind of life that is the antithesis of the poverty statistics. Most of the new breed of young celebrities went into the business to help the family, and to become the income generator for the parents and x number of siblings. They didn’t have a burning ambition to sing, or act, or dance since they were little like Justin or Britney, and they didn’t even consider the need to take lessons to hone their –er-- talents. Money is often the sole motivating factor. So what do you get when your selection pool is made up of mostly beautiful but passionless people whose main purpose is money? You get cut rate entertainers.

Is it obvious that this pisses me off? Millionaires at 18, and the best that they can do is not to fumble a line they monotonously deliver on screen. The young “celebrities” here make Hilary Duff look like Meryl Streep. No wonder the
Korean Wave is kicking the local celebrities’ asses.

One exception to my universal disgust is the amazingly beautiful young actress (and I use this term loosely) Angel Locsin. Any girl would hate her. She’s in her early 20s and already a millionaire several times over. She owns several properties, she has a zillion cash cow endorsements aside from being the favorite pet of her studio company, and she is amazingly beautiful (have I said that already)?

She’s also a bad actress-- mediocre at most.
She also can’t sing or dance to save her life.

But I don’t hate her. She could be stupid for all I know, but she rarely gives whorish interviews like most of her contemporaries for anyone to figure out her brain capacity. That in itself is admirable. Sure she’s a mediocre entertainer, but so are most of the young celebrities out there. Atleast she doesn’t pose in endless publicity stunts to get even more attention than she deserves, like what most of her contemporaries do. Yes she’s more beautiful and sexy than most people (and all natural), but you don’t see her hounding the covers of every fashion and men’s magazine published in this country. Minus her millions, she genuinely comes off as a refreshingly unaffected but very beautiful girl you can actually like.

I once heard a girl say enviously, “Do they really produce people like her?” while looking at Angel’s picture.
She does have a face of a sexy Angel--the uber deadly combination-- but the fact that she doesn’t come off as being singularly defined by this definition is the quality that truly makes her enviable.

Friday, September 01, 2006

West coast vs. East coast


Each major city has her merits, and I need to consider what place would make me feel most comfortable.


The city is so much like Manila. It's spread out, it's near the ocean, and the weather is the closest to the Philippines because it's in California.

Gorgeous beaches! Oooh, I like!
This I don't like...L.A. is also the land of starlets famous for being famous. I'm a girl who likes her headbands, but starlets make these funky, functional accessories horendous looking.

New York City: I don't need a car to get around the city. Public transportation pretty much gets you from point A to point B.
Colors are more subdued, like most of my clothes: Black, grey, olive, and purple. Look at what this girl is wearing.
Smart actresses live in New York. Natalie's also an Israeli, which makes her even more special to me. Scarlett Johannson, one of the few "real actress" of her generation, is also a certified New Yorker.
....I'm leaving on a jet plane