Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A Return to Greenhills

It was my nephew's birthday a few days ago and I decided to accompany him to his tutor class. The idea was to buy him something after his session. So I filed the leave forms and was free for the day. While waiting for him to finish his class, I went to the nearest mall, this was Greenhills. It had been a long time since I had a real proper walk around Greenhills. This was the place where I grew up. So much had change and still so much had remained the same. For one thing Virra Mall was gone. In its heyday, Virra Mall had two cinemas and several shops to cater to one's pastime. I remember the stalls that used to sell PX (Imported) goods, the video shop where you can buy the latest pirated movies on VHS and betamax. You can actually buy porn video and exchange it for a new one each week, if you bought the machine from their shop. There were also several computer shops and nestled among them was a shop called Shop & Lift, where you can buy magazines and rent video of classic movies - I remember renting Rashomon, Seven Samurai, Yojimbo from this store. There were even a couple of pet shops Tetra, Bio-research and Fins & Furs. Virra Mall is gone now. And the Greenhills theatre has been cut and diced into a mall and two cinemas. Greenhills Arcade has undergone a transformation no more Fun House and the place where you can buy comics and chewing gums with Star Wars card. Shoppesville and Unimart are still there. And it would seem the large UFO-shaped lights that illuminated the parking lot are gone. During idle moments, I used to imagine them as space ships over Greenhills. The big canal that demarcated the commercial center from the houses are now gone. Greenhills changed with the times. At first it was mostly PX goods and computers. Then came the shops selling video, pets, toys, comics, and books. Then came the cellphones, the pearl market and the ever-changing baratillos. Soon Greenhills, not surprisingly, really Greenhills became the bazaar of pirated software, vcds and DVDs. And a few years later, Greenhills transformed itself. A major rebranding was in progress. New structures were being built and old structures were being refurbished. Now it looks like a different place. But ... a walk around the place revealed that it still had the old stores around, one way or the other. Over at Shoppesville they were still selling comics, action figures, animes and other collectibles. And in the new parking lot several cellphone and computer resellers were there. Now that the canals were covered, stores like National and the Chinese Deli Decs were just outside. New cinemas were built and new restaurants as well. And in due time they would opening the new Virra Mall. Some of the old and reliable establishments were still around. Unimart Grocery stood virtually unchanged. And there still is the Old Orange Julius stand, although I do not think it is named differently now. The two Le Chings are still around and so is the old Aristocrat Restaurant, which had the distinction of being the only restaurant open during the EDSA I revolt. As I walked along the cellphone stores I heard a familiar set of voices chanting, "DVD, DVD, Boss?” Yup, it would seem the more things change the more they stay the same. Additional Posts Buying Second Hand Books Christmas?!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Snapshots and a project

I have been busy for a couple of days with a small pet project. Hopefully, it will be up and running by next week. Interesting stuff. It is nearing the end of November. And Christmas is just around the corner. Took these snapshots after watching the movie Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Additional Posts: The Trouble With Harry Sunog

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Trains: MRT Again

Last week, MRT stored value tickets resurfaced. I still think the idea of just topping up the card is a good idea. Things have returned to normal. The queues have come back to their normal length. And now there seems to be an effort to manage the crowd of people coming into the MRT. Despite all the problems and hassles one encounters riding the MRT it is still my choice of poison when it comes to mss transportation along Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue. It is relatively fast and clean. And it is efficient when it has sufficient electrical power. And in a way it is heartening to see more people using the train. Even though this forces one to take the round trip. More people using the train mean its more viable means of transportation and perhaps more trains will be established and used in the future. More trains also less pollution. I once read a quote somewhere that said, …”whenever I see a person riding bicycle I think there is still hope for human civilization.” Perhaps the same quotation also applies for trains. I still think that there is ample room for the improvement of the MRT. One day at a time…one day at a time. Additional Posts for Today A Tide of Narnia and CS Lewis Books CCTAZZZZZZZZZZ Last Morning or Umaga Shot

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A Pasalubong Story

I do not know about other people but we Filipinos are fond of bringing gifts whenever we go to another place. We call it Pasalubong if the bearer personally bought and brought the said gift. We call it Padala if the bearer was just requested to pass a gift bought by someone else. Often such gifts are mainly food items, native delicacies, food that can only be obtained from homes. One can imagine the array of stories a Filipino traveller can come up with because of the pasalubong or padala. This joke or story made the rounds a few years ago. This was about a Filipino who goes by the name of Jose and his encounter with a customs official in a foreign land, and an incident involving a pasalubong. Jose is at an airport in a foreign land. He is lining up at line for customs. Its now his turn. The customs officer seems to feel something is amiss and proceeds to open the luggage of Jose. And there it was the unmistakable odour of dried fish or daing criss-crossing the air. The customs man (a big man even by that country standards) towered over the dimunitive Jose (who was small even for my country standards) and looked glaringly at him. Then pointing his hand at the fish asked Jose, "What’s this?" The apologetic Jose smiled - a smile one does in such situations, a silly smile - looked at the Customs man (who was a giant man and whose deportment slowly seem to take on the nature of magma found in the mouth of Mayon Volcano) and said, "That's Daing". The answer seemed to infuriate the customs man more and he said, "Are you crazy?!" "No, that is Daing,” replied Jose His fingers now holding the dried fish in front the customs man said, "This is DEAD not DYING!" Additional Posts for Today Creature from the Black Lagoon Coral Reefs Tricks of the Trade

Monday, November 14, 2005

Country Road

I just cannot seem to get this song out of my head. A few weeks ago I was able to get a compilation popular folk rock songs and it happened to be number two songs in the list. After that I was able to watch a Ghibli Anime Whisper of the Heart that had as one of its elements this song. What is it with this song? How come a song of John Denver has found itself imprinted in my brain? I have not been the United States and more so my travels have not yet taken me to West Virginia nor have I met a mountain momma. Why did this particular song of John Denver ( and reinterpreted in Japan by Olivia Newton-John) become my favourite tune. Its not because of John Denver's movie Oh God! Although it was a nice movie. Nor have I been a fan of country music. Although, some Kenny Roger's song have entered my collection - I like the Gambler but that is another story. Somehow, I seem to remember the refrain from this song. Every time it was played on the radio I could always sing the refrain:
Country road, take me home To the place I belong, West Virginia, mountain momma, Take me home, country road.
Perhaps, the song touches a part in me that reminds me of home -The places one grows up in and more importantly the people one grows up with.
I hear her voice, in the morning hours she calls me, The radio reminds me of my home far away. And driving down the road I get the feeling That I should have been home yesterday, yesterday.
I guess for people who have experienced leaving one's family and friends it would not be difficult to be touched by this song. Working and living miles away our family makes life difficult to bear and only the promise of a better life for our loved ones is perhaps the only thing that sustains us. Additional Posts for Today: Warui yatsu hodo yoku nemuru (1960) Time for the Opposition to Change Tactics Morning or Umaga My Bettas

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Helehele Bago Kiyere

Sometime in order to kill time I browse a small book by Rosendo Igancio titled Mga Kinamhihasnang Saltitang Tagalog: Tagalog Idioms – Modismos Tagalos. The particular edition I have was published in 1963. I have written about this book before in the book blog and it is an entertaining read. This particular afternoon while I was a waiting for a call I read some of the entries and came across the phrase Helehele bago kiyere. The phrase translates is defined in Tagalog as Nagpatumpik-tumpik, in English it is translated as Saying one thing when he means another, and in Spanish it is said as No dice lo que siente realmente. All of these definitions in one book. As I came across this word a smile broke across my face, followed by a soft chuckle. And I remember a bad case of helehele bago kiyere a few years ago. A friend of mine from college went to the house and seemed distraught. I asked him what was the matter? and my flustered friend just sighed, turned his head to and fro. Clearly he was plunging in the depths of despair and anguish. Was it a problem at home? Or was it something worse? Did fate deal him a card so horrible that he lost his spirit? After a period of silence and melancholy he looked up and said he was hooked. Hooked on what? Had he become an addict? Was he in the spell of a mind-altering substance that gnawed at his pride and self-discipline? I was in the state of bewilderment? What could I do? I was not trained for this. I mean during high school we were sort of trained for counseling but not for this. Even then the only accomplishment we did as councilors was to paint the guidance office with psychedelic paint. This was an improvement from the Audio-Visual Office that had liniment green color. He finally gave in and told me that it looked he was going to get married. What?! Why? Then he told me that his girlfriend was dropping him hints. HINTS! I looked at him deciding whether to drop kick him out of the room or to administer Sergeant Slaughter’s Cobra Clutch. I just turned around and had a good laugh. I knew my friend and I knew the girl. They were both in love and seemed responsible individuals. And it seemed clear at that time they were meant for each other. Ay naku! It was just a case of Helehele bago kiyere. They did marry a few years later and now live happily... well most of the time.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Disappearance of MRT Tickets

I like to ride the Mass Rail Transit System (MRT) and the Light Rail Transit System (LRT) of Metropolitan Manila. It is for me a convenient way to get around the different cities of Metro Manila. One the whole it is fast and efficient, although there are days when the system stops dead in its tracks – probably caused by Gremlins prowling the tracks. It is also relatively clean, free of graffiti and not so pleasing stench, unlike the buses that seem to be culturing an odd assortment of bugs. Also it does not pollute the environment. For regular commuters of the MRT it was an essential mode of transport to and from work. Despite the occasional problems it was on the whole not a bad form of transport along Edsa. Until a few weeks ago. A few weeks ago the MRT’s stored value card began to disappear. The sign stored value cards unavailable seem to become a permanent fixture pasted on the ticket windows of the MRT stations. The disappearance of the card did not diminish the number of patrons. It did, however, increase the length of the queue leading to the ticket window and it also increase the number of lines occupying the station, especially during rush hours. True, it would take you only fifteen minutes to go from Ayala to Cubao but it was also true that it will take you some time to get a ticket. So what happened to the stored value ticket? Some said the shortage was due to the pullout of MRT tickets with the face of former President Joseph Estrada. And there were some who said it was also due to the pullout of tickets with the face of President Arroyo. Then there were also some people of the opinion that a lot of people were not using the last free ride option in the card, depleting the amount of cards re-entering the system. I am not quite sure if the last hypothesis is valid, perhaps not. One is not even sure if any of the other theories are valid as well. Or could there be other reasons for this shortage? One thing is clear though the sudden scarcity of stored value or season tickets is proving to be a major pain in the gluteus maximus, Forest Gump would say “In the buttocks” or Puwit in Tagalog and Buli in Ilongo. One just wonder why they have not yet implemented a season ticket or a stored value ticket that you can just top-up at will. In the United Kingdom and in Singapore the London Underground and the MRT system of Singapore have season tickets you can just add money to so that the available balance is increased. And in Singapore you can use the same card for buses. This seems more practical than the present system. I know the present problem with the MRT seems to be so miniscule compared with taxes, national politics and other global events. The thing seems to be getting to beyond the point of annoying. In Italy before World War II it took Benito Mussolini and the Blackshirts to make the trains run on time, I wonder what it will take to solve this irritating developments with the MRT. An additional post for today Laguna:Rice Fields

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A Photo from the Long Weekend

One of the shots I took during the long weekend. _________________________________________________________ Additional posts for today: The Magnificent Giant Gourami Sierra Madre: Shooting the Tree Top

Monday, November 07, 2005

A Meal

This weekend, my Mother came home. She went to attend a seminar in Beijing, China. Aside from the usual pasalubong, souvenirs/gifts purchased from China, and other things she brought, My Mother carried with her stories of her travel. Tales of how modernised China was, how they were preparing for the Olympics, and the brief encounter with two burned buses outside of Beijing. Just goes to show that despite progress each country has its owns burdens that it must resolve. Although, two burned buses would like two pebbles compared to damage France is suffering right now from the riots that seemed to be coming economic marginalisation and alleged discrimination. The two burned buses though did not catch my eye as much as what my Mother described as one of eight-course meal she ate in Beijing. At first I thought she would be talking of the eight-course meal from a donkey or a sheep, which according to National Geographic is the specialty in one of the cities in China. Nor was it the Mann Hann feast served in one of the restaurants in Beijing, the menu and recipes culled from an ancient document from the Emperor's kitchen. She described a meal devoid of meat and fish. It was composed mostly of vegetables and rice. The dishes were stir-fried and crisp. An eight-course meal full of vegetables finished off with a dessert of apples and tomato apples. It was a simple and sumptuous meal, the tautology notwithstanding. Catalysed by this event, last night she prepared for us a vegetable feast. It was a delight. Each dish was delicious and filling. One could not imagine such ingredients prepared that way. It was a refreshing change of pace. This reminded me that cooking vegetables and giving advice are nearly similar in that there is an appetizing and a non-appetizing way to prepare, cook and serve it. And the success or failure of the dish will depend on the cook. A condescending and un-emphatic cook, like a condescending and un-emphatic person, will most of the time serve an un-appetizing dish. ________________________________________________________ Additional Posts for Today Encouraging Children to Read Mimi Wo Sumaseba Sierra Madre & Laguna Lake

Friday, November 04, 2005

Worthwhile to see this Christmas

According to the morning news today its only X number of days before Christmas. You would not have notice it especially with the way the department stores where blaring Christmas songs even before Halloween, Feast of All Saints and Feast of All Soul’s day. Retail sales must be on a slump. So it is X number of days before Christmas what do you hope to see on Chritmas Day? Aside from the usual Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All Men message and taking aside all the gifts to family, friends, officemates, business partners and customers what would be worthwhile to see, at least in the Philippines. One, It would be worthwhile, for me, to see less artificial Christmas trees and more Nativity Scenes. At least the Nativity Scene depicts the reason for celebrating Christmas. Two, Zero letters of greeting from politicians and political family you do not really know. Chances are they might be using tax money to send that stuff. Three, Zero accidents caused by the use of fireworks. Fourth, No political messages will be aired during the season. A simple Merry Christmas would do. Unless of course the government decided to increase the tax exemption and the political opposition starts to do collaborative work. Five, Quality Filipino films during the film festival. If you are going bump off the scheduled films for the last two weeks of December please make sure that you put really quality films. Six, No mad rush to the supermarket on the 24th of December. Please make a list and keep to it. What else ?

Mazin Go!

Last Wednesday I spent the day with my nephews. My sister had to work and their yaya had the day off. So I volunteered my services, I had around eight days of vacation leaves left and decided to use one for that day. The morning activity was easily done a quick trip to the grocery to buy the day’s repast. A couple of pizza bread, tomato sauce and quick melt cheese and we were in business. After lunch, the three of us settled down to watch a few of the episodes of Mazinger Z. This was the first time I was able to watch Mazinger Z after Marcos banned it along with the other Japanese robot shows, like Voltes V and Daimos. The animation was a little bit outdated (It is an old cartoon) and the dubbing seemed less than perfect. Yet, the cartoon was still entertaining. The opening theme song is still nice to the ear. It is the type of song that enters your head and despite understanding only five percent of the words it gets imprinted in your memory. I think its one of those mecha stories that had a good opening and ending theme. What surprised me is that nephews loved it. Why do the kids like it? Is it because the story line is more linear than your usual robo anime? No twists and no family entanglements present in Voltes V. Is it because of the fight between Manzinger Z and the robots of Dr Hell? (I pity the Japanese city where the fight occurs, after the 3rd episode it should be reduced to rubbles) Is it because they can identify with the brashness of the hero Koji Kabuto? Is there anything as cool as being Koji Kabuto, a Mazinger pilot. Or can they sense similarities of the characters with those surrounding them – I hope I am not identified as Baron Ashler or Baron Ashura. Maybe it’s the peppering of quirky characters around the series. Whatever it is they like the show. Maybe for the same reasons I always liked the show. Voltes V was great but there were times when it was a little bit overdramatic and let us no go Daimos, which suffered from an overdose of sentimentality. Mazinger Z had its moments but everything was fluid on more than one occasion there were really funny moments. The series was not above ridiculing its heroes, heroines and villains. A quick check on the web showed the popularity of Mazinger Z and a quick browse through Wikepedia showed the influence of Mazinger Z in the present day set of mecha heroes. It would seem that Mazinger Z provided the template for most of the mecha stories we are seeing today – Mecha created to protect mankind: an orphaned hero; a superpowerful robot empowered with advance technology or enhanced with a secret element created by a father or a father figure who disappears at the beginningof the series; the evil mad scientist aiming to rule the world with his army of mechas; his equally evil yet bumbling assistant; and a cast of comical and noble characters supporting the hero. This is one of Go Nagai’s greatest works. Mazin Go!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Different Ways to Go

Death comes to all. When your time comes how would you want your body be desposed. For those convicted branded as traitors, usurpers, enemies of the state, witches or just being caught in league with the devil the choices are not that much. At the end of World War II the remaining Nazis were tried and a number of them executed -save for Herman Goering and Heinrich Himmler who opted to ingest cyanide. War criminals were buried in undisclosed graves or their remains were cremated and scattered to the four winds. This was still lenient considering in the not so distant past in England male persons found guilty of high treason were hang, drawn and quartered.
“That you be drawn on a hurdle to the place of execution where you shall be hanged by the neck and being alive cut down, your privy members shall be cut off and your bowels taken out and burned before you, your head severed from your body and your body divided into four quarters to be disposed of at the King’s pleasure.”
The bodies were then parboiled and displayed on the city gate as a warning against all enemies of the state. Yes, it is better not to die a vanquished or captured enemy of the state. But of what of normal and noble folks upon death what was the preferred way to go. How would you like to go? For one thing I will not want what was did to Columbus, he was deboned and his skeleton was sent back to Spain. According to the scholars, a lot of the nobility had this done. What are the alternatives? Mummification, follow the way of the Pharoahs - preserve your body for the afterlife or the museum. When Egypt became the property of the Emperor Augustine a lot of Greek and Roman opted to be mumified, I guess during that time it was a status symbol. Others do it for political reasons. Mao, Lenin, Stalin and even Marcos have been fixed so that they do not decompose. An art said to be perfected by a group of doctors in Moscow. The most perfectly preserve mummy for me must be that of Evita Peron. Somehow the doctor was able to inject wax into her body and stop the decomposition. All this seems expensive but one can always opt for self-mummification, which involves fasting and taking in excessive amount of poisoned water. Howeve, this does not seem attractive at all because of the damage inflicted on the body and the preservation itself means that one might end up a piece of a museum in the future or a side-show attraction in a carnival no thank you. Plus there are other things more sinister and macabre that have been done to mummies. Being consumed by vultures or solar radiation, Viridians or Parsees of India, followers of Zoroastrianism leave their dead in the Towers of Silence where they will be consumed by vultures. The Parsees believe that this is the only way to bury their dead without defiling nature. Unfortunately, there has been a decrease in the population of Vultures and the Viridians have opted to us solar reflectors. However, to go necro-Viridian you have to go where the Parsees are, in India. Buried in the ground. Simply having one's corpse buried under the ground seems to be the most convential way. There are alternatives and variations: being buried in a jar and placed in a cave or being beneath or above a tree in the forest. Some of my ancestors preferred to be buried with their chinaware, plates and saucers. This assorted ceramics utentsils must have been very valuable. Ok, that is an option. Cremation - the burning of the body; being consumed by fire. This seems charming. Go the way Burt Lancaster did in the film Rocket Gibraltar, a viking funeral - the body placed in a boat with wood and your loved ones lighting the boat by shooting it with flaming arrows. Or go the way Darth Vader did in film the Return of the Jedi. Of course the actual cremation will not be as theatrical it seems to be the most simple. There is of course being buried at sea, but you can only do that if you actually die at sea and then you become fish food. _________________________________ Additional post for today Santacruzan