25 years after

Pardon my French but… Crap, has it been 25 years already? Has it really been that long since Juan de la Cruz finally said good riddance to Da Apo, the shoe lady and their entire family and entourage, as they fled to sunny Hawaii courtesy of the US Air Force?

Everything about that historic event remains crystal clear to me to this day, from that fateful Saturday night when it all began, to the next three tense days that followed and the euphoria that greeted the nation upon learning of the couple’s hasty flight for their lives. It was, to borrow a quote from Sir Winston Churchill, our finest hour.

I was at my usual hangout that night. Tipsy and light-headed after downing not a few bottles of San Miguel,and unmindful of what was happening outside, I was happily singing along with the host inside a Sing-along bar (the term “Karaoke” wasn’t in vogue yet) when the owner, who is a personal friend, whispered to me about the looming standoff at Camp Aguinaldo and advised me to head home… pronto.

Damn, I thought. What a way to end a Saturday night.

On my way home I kept thinking and wondering whether this was it. For years after Ninoy’s assassination, the country has been hemorrhaging and many, including me, believed it would only be a matter of time before this country collapses on itself. The unfolding even that night only served to strengthen that assumption…

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CNY 2011

For the multitude of Chinese people across the globe — and that’s including their billion-strong cousins in the economic powerhouse that is the Middle Kingdom (that’s China to the uninitiated) — today will mark yet another auspicious day, as they welcome the year 4709, or more popularly known as the Year of the Rabbit, in the Chinese calendar. Also known as “The Spring Festival” despite its winter occurrence, the New Year festivities begin on the first day of the first month in the traditional Chinese calendar, and end 15 days later which will culminate with the “Lantern Festival”.

The longest and the most important of holidays in the calendar, it is, in essence, a time for family reunions, thanksgiving, as well as renewal and reconciliation. It is also that time of the year when old debts are settled and, for the sake of a fresh start, grudges are all but forgotten… at least for the time being.

While not nearly as universal and as widely celebrated as the western-influenced New Year’s Day celebration, at nearly 5,000 years old it is one of the longest and perhaps only surviving ancient festivity that is still continuously celebrated. And while much of the festivals of the ancient world were all but lost in history along with its people and culture, the festival that had its origins at a time when Europeans in their loincloths were still painting themselves blue, continues to this day, proof of the resilience and endurance of the Chinese culture.


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Of Buses and bombs…

Just when you thought it was safe to take public transportation amidst the strikes, robberies and bus drivers from hell, THIS happens…

As if the impending fuel and fare increase wasn’t enough to ruin your day, some A-hole decided to make an already stressful day more stressful by sowing fear and panic among the populace.

As usual, the authorities will claim to be on top of the situation (oh haven’t we heard that before), and a suspect or two will be dragged in for questioning. But whether or not they are the actual perpetrators or just some unlucky shmuck who happens to be on the crosshair of the cops still remains to be seen. Oh and of course, there will be investigations by some grandstanding politician. Okay, so I’m just guessing here but it seems to be the SOP in a country where a majority of law enforcers would rather be counting their day’s worth of “tongs” than provide security.

It’s a miracle, though, that there weren’t as many fatalities as there are in similar bus bombings like the ones in Israel years ago. The number of people killed and injured (4 dead 14 injured as of last count) in yesterday’s explosion is one reason why I’m doubting the cop’s statement that the explosion was caused by a “big” bomb. I’m not sure if the bus was full at the time of the explosion, but knowing how bus operators and their drivers habitually cram passengers like sardines inside a tin can, even a small bomb would likely cause a lot more damage on life and limb.

There is still no official word from the authorities on what caused the explosion, but this early, they aren’t ruling out terrorism. If it is, methinks that what happened is just a trial run, a preparation for something big. Or perhaps, something more sinister is afoot. But that’s just the conspiracy theorist in me talking. So the big question now is: Is Pnoy’s government ready for it?

Note: This is my first POC article for 2011

Of all the pop icons that came out of the turbulent 60s they are undoubtedly the most enduring. It has been nearly five decades — or roughly two generations — since the four lads crossed the River Mersey and made their way out of Liverpool, England and started what was then known as the second British Invasion.  And yet, in spite of the passing of time, their popularity have yet to hit bottom — even in this day and age of Beiber and Lady Gaga.

Although not as wildly popular at present as they were in their heyday, the band remains to this day the gold standard when it comes to music and songwriting — not too shabby considering that the band was active for only ten years (their wilder counterpart from the swinging 60s, The Rolling Stones, are still rocking away and are still packing em’ in). Their songs have transcended generational boundaries, and in a world where the streets are littered with has-beens and one- hit wonders from years past, that is nothing short of amazing.

Known by the monikers, the Moptops (due to their early hairstyles)  and The Fab Four, they are that quintessential band from the 60s whose music influenced a whole generation of music lovers and incredibly, still continue to cast its spell of “Beatlemania” on the suceeding generations; and none of this is more evident than on Juan de la Cruz’s progenies. Mention the names John, Paul, George and Ringgo — the four names that every Pinoy, both the old and the young, seem to know by heart — and the Beatles instantly comes to mind (that is, unless he has four brothers with the same names no thanks to that peculiar practice of naming children after one’s idol.

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Say hello to my new toy…


It’s not exactly a phone but you can use it like one. That is, IF you don’t mind looking like a jackass with that thing pressed against your ear. Because at 4.5″ X 7.5″, you looking cool would be the last thing on the mind of everyone around you. Stupid yes, but cool?

And though it is classified as a computer, it lacks the “oomph” to do the other things your average desktop or laptop does. But it does the job of connecting you to the net anywhere, anytime, as well as edit your MS Office files. And it’s great for watching movies on the go as well.

Oh yes, in case you’re still clueless, I’m one of those who succumbed to the lure of the geekworld’s most recent must-haves: The Tablet.


Actually, I was in the market for a backup for my laptop, but I was opting for something that I can easily chuck inside my bag without worrying about the heft and weight. I was looking at several brands of netbooks and tablet PCs — including the drool-worthy iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab — and was seriously thinking of purchasing one that very day, until I passed by the shop of Cherry Mobile.

While it may not have the same specs and juice as its rivals, namely, Apple’s iPad and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, it is still robust enough to do the job of connecting me to the web, make a few phone calls whilst editing my already late articles for The POC. Besides, at a couple of pesos less than P20,000, it’s already a steal compared to the other two that would easily set you back around P30,000 ++.

And since it’s 3G capable, I can just as easily slide in a broadband SIM card (like what I did earlier today) and voila! instant internet access. No need to look for hard-to-find hotspots inside the malls and restaurants. It’s the web right at your fingertips, baby…

But while the tablet IS also a phone, I’m not about to ditch my reliable Blackberry anytime soon. I find it a bit odd using that thing to make calls. It’s okay for SMS I guess but phone calls? Nah, that would necessitate the need for a Bluetooth headset (the unit comes with a free Bluetooth headset) which, by the way, I abhor using as it runs out of juice faster than my car guzzles up gas.

So, is this the beginning of a beautiful friendship between I and this slick all-in-one geek gadget? Only time will tell…

Hello 2011!

I just realized something today… okay, I realized TWO things to be exact, and it all dawned on me on this second day of 2011.

First, and the most obvious, is that I’ve neglected this blog for almost the entire year. Save for a few, uninspired posts and shameless plugs for my POC articles, my blog has been on an inactive status of sorts for some time now, and because of that, I have been remiss in other blog related things as well (you know, like paying a visit to other blog sites?). Sorry guys, my bad…

I guess it (the laziness thing) all started right after I began writing for The Philippine Online Chronicle. Not that I’ve been too busy writing a slew of articles for the POC, by the way, that I didn’t have enough time for my own journal; heck, compared to the other writers in Buhay Pinoy, my gig would be considered as, err… lackluster by the publisher’s standards, with one article per week at the most, that is IF I was inspired. Worse still, is that the past two or three months saw my contributions for the online magazine drop to two articles per month.

Second, in my “semi-absence” from the blogosphere I totally forgot about my online life’s yearly milestone that is this blog’s anniversary. August of 2010 saw this little journal of mine pass the five year mark and no thanks to my absentmindedness, I totally missed out on that occasion by posting at least something worthwhile (or something dramatic, or mushy) on my blog.

So what happened? Why did I so suddenly, and seemingly, lost interest in a journal that has seen me through thick and thin these past five years?

Perhaps in my fruitless effort to always come up with something that would pass off as good reading for my gig at the POC (as well as to impress the editor and all that blah), I have inadvertently swept aside the very thing that started it all: my blog. Suddenly, the prospect of getting paid for writing took over, and while we, as contributing writers, aren’t under pressure we were expected to at least come up with, well… something good, and that, I guess sort of took away the fun in writing.

I know, I know, no excuses. Laziness, work pressure and other distractions shouldn’t keep me away from the keyboards, right? My brain may be a pile of mush at the end of a working day but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t come up with at least something. There’s always something to rant or rave about in these islands, yes? As one friend said, “sayang naman, you spent five years building up this blog only to see it rot away because of a paid gig”.

He’s right, maybe I should keep this blog alive… at least for now.

E-cigarette anyone?

A recent health scare made me accomplish something that I never thought I’d be able to do in such a surprisingly short amount of time: quit smoking. That’s right, after more than two decades of less-than-a-pack-a-day habit I’ve finally decided to call it quits with that constant companion, through good and bad times: the cigarette. Truth is, I have been planning (and trying as well) for the longest time to chuck my lighters and throw the little nicotine-laden buggers into the garbage can. But for some reason, the need for that nicotine fix — more so after a satisfying meal or drink —- took precedence over worries about personal health.

Such was the pull and the allure of nicotine-induced high that I was willing to play “Russian Roulette” with my health, particularly, with that of my aging ticker.

All that changed a month ago, however, after I found out that I have developed hypertension — which is no surprise really since “high blood” is a well-known trademark on my Dad’s side of the family. I guess sometimes we need that little “push” to stir things up and get past our procrastinating.

Anyways, like I was saying, I was planning on getting rid of this nasty habit even before finding out about my hypertension. Quitting cold turkey may sound great, but in reality, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. Many have tried to switch off that craving like you would a light switch, but failed miserably. Sure, there are nicotine patches and gums but these, especially the patch, aren’t as widely available locally, and, from what I heard, isn’t exactly a pleasant experience.

Enter the electronic cigarette — that plastic cigarette look-alike that is recently making waves, as well as headlines, around the world. Just what is an electronic cigarette, or E-cigarette, as it is popularly known?


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