August 31, 2008

Sarah who?

(The very chica Alaskan governor, Sarah Palin...dubbed the 'hottest governor in the coldest state' of the U.S.)

SO Sen. John McCain sprang a surprise among his supporters. And well, the rest of the world.

Unlike Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama – whose veep is a pretty popular guy in the halls of the Senate, Joe Biden, albeit more because of his often long, long speeches, hehe – McCain's chosen runningmate, Gov. Sarah Palin, is obviously a relative unknown on the national, much less, the international level.

She is no Geraldine Ferraro, thank you, who was the first woman ever to run for vice president. Nor a Hillary Clinton, who tried to be the first woman presidential candidate in U.S. history. Both women, before trying to get elected to the highest posts of the U.S. government, had some amount of national exposure because of their runs in Congress and their personal advocacies. (Although in fairview, like ko ang eyeglasses ng Lola Sarah...very nye!)

Palin's appointment is a pretty desperate attempt by the McCain group/Republican Party to get the women who still can't get over Hillary Clinton losing to Obama to switch to their side. I think American women are more intelligent than that (aren't all women anyway?!). They know McCain/the Republicans didn't get Palin because they believed she would be the most qualified (among the other veep contenders) to jump right into the president's shoes if, knock on wood, something happens to McCain if he does manage to snag the presidency. They chose her because she's a woman. Plain and simple. It's just a gimmick and I think most American women will see through that.

(Democratic Party Veep candidate Sen. Joe Biden...ang kayuut ng lolo na ito!)

I'm not knocking Palin's abilities, because being a mother, she can probably handle almost anything. And she supposedly has a reputation as a tough reformer. Pero, if you compare her to someone like Biden who has been around the halls of Congress far longer, and who has a firm grasp of both international and domestic issues, Palin's resume reads very short. I mean, what could have been the toughest decision she has had to make as a governor of Alaska? How to control the caribou population? Ayayay!

Hopefully, because Biden is a Catholic, Pinoys in the States will vote for the Obama-Biden ticket instead of pushing through with their threats of switching to McCain.

Click here for TIME magazine's profile on Sarah Palin. For Joe Biden's profile, click NYT.

August 30, 2008

In case you missed it...

Here's Barack Obama's acceptance speech on the last day of the Democratic National Convention on Aug. 28, 2008 (Aug. 29, 2008 Manila).

August 28, 2008

Albay is hot!

I SUPPOSE it was the perfect time than any to travel to Albay, especially given that Tourism Secretary Joseph “Ace” Durano is batting for Mayon Volcano to be among the “New 7 Wonders of Nature.” It would be my second time in Albay, and I just couldn’t take enough photos of the grand volcano with its sweeping curvaceous slope ending in a near-perfect cone.

As soon as she came into view as our plane was descending into Albay, I started clicking away on my trusty camera-phone through the plane’s window, and again as I got out into the Legazpi airport tarmac, then everywhere else we went. I have so many photos of Mount Mayon: its enormity shrouded in clouds, a breathtaking one with a clear view of its entire magnificence, and—past sunset—its brooding figure looming in the darkening horizon.

In a way, I envy the residents of Albay for having the volcano in their midst. I mean, how cool it must be to wake up every morning with Mayon visible through your bedroom window, or have coffee and breakfast while gazing at it from your kitchen? Even the locals say they are constantly awed by her presence, and never get tired of looking at her.

Of course, I’m sure the people living around the volcano’s 6-kilometer permanent danger zone have a different view of Mayon, gripped by sheer terror when she rumbles and growls, and then spews off her anger and spite at the world. They then pack up their belongings in a rush and flee, heavy with worry if their houses and farms will survive yet another of her legendary tantrums. (Click here for the rest.)

And just 'cos I love EWF...

Here's a blast from the past to set you grooving for the weekend partying... I watched the original Earth, Wind & Fire perform here in Manila at the ULTRA Pasig, sometime 1988 I think, during its "Touch the World tour". Amazing, amazing performance and boy, Phil Bailey and Maurice White were really something back then. And the splendiferous threads...hwaw! say mo, Chuvaness?

Enjoy!



Btw there is great concert on DVD of EWF playing back-to-back with Chicago. Try to get a hold of a copy (pwera pirated ha, bad); that one truly brings the house down.

August 26, 2008

Americans for Obama in Manila

GOT this in the mail from manilajay...hwaw! this Barack Obama has his grassroots campaign down pat. He even has the Americans in the Philippines organizing and making themselves heard. Very cool.


(US citizens in Manila rally for Obama at Quezon Bridge, Aug. 24, 2008. Lookit the cute baby! ay, and the cute Dad! Photo by Ben Razon.)

I hope they start selling Obama T-shirts here, I have to have one! Unless any of my nice relatives or friends abroad is willing to donate a Tee to me. (Of course, that excludes you, Auntie D. and Uncle B. you die-hard Republicans, hmmmph! I will not dare speak your candidate's name in the same space as my man, Obama. Hee-hee, love 'ya guys!)
* * * *

Btw, I was just watching the news and was very moved at 'ol Uncle Teddy going up the stage and enjoining all Democrats to come together to elect Obama as U.S. president. While his voice quivered a bit, his eyes sparkled with determination, resolved to not only fight the Big C. but to get the Democrats back into the White House. One cannot help but admire this man who has gone through so much personal and family tragedy but resolute to leave a respectable legacy in his family's name. And what a legacy it would be if, can you imagine, he is able to help put Obama in the presidency, being someone that Uncle Teddy says reminds him of his late brother, and U.S. president JFK?



The end of Kennedy's speech must have also resonated with a lot of African-Americans, coming as it did three days before the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech. Said Kennedy:

"There is a new wave of change all around us, and if we set our compass true, we will reach our destination -- not merely victory for our party, but renewal for our nation.

And this November the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans, so with Barack Obama and for you and for me, our country will be committed to his cause. The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on." (Click here for the rest.)

MLK's speech, as well as Kennedy's last night, should also resonate with a lot of us Pinoys who are looking for some hope and changes in our future. We need a leadership that will bring order to the land especially now when Muslims and Christians are at odds down south, rid the government of corruption, pump new life into the economy that will give jobs to the jobless and encourage our OFWs to come home, and just inspire all of us to become better citizens who will follow the law.
* * * *

'Kanos here in da Pinas who want to help get out the vote for Obama may contact the following:

David McCauley
Vice Chair, Democrats Abroad, Philippines
Email: ds_mccauley@hotmail.com

Ben Razon
Get Out the Vote Team
Email: benrazon@gmail.com

Crisis or no crisis...


...Western Union's Patricia Zamora-Riingen says Pinoys will keep sending money home. (Photo by Nonie Reyes)

ALTHOUGH Western Union has been around for about 20 years in the Philippines, the company formally set up shop in the country only in 2003, riding on the sudden explosion of remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

With the continued migration of Filipinos to better work opportunities abroad, inbound remittances are expected to continue their steady growth. The number of deployed Filipino workers jumped a significant 34 percent to 640,401 in the first half of 2008, according to preliminary data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration. Reflecting this, remittances in the first half grew by 17.2 percent to $8.24 billion from $7.34 billion in the same period last year, data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas showed.

In an exclusive interview with the BusinessMirror, Western Union’s vice president for the Philippines Patricia “Diday” Zamora-Riingen shares the directions the money-transfer firm is taking in the Philippines. Trained in the brand management marketing style pioneered by Procter and Gamble where she first worked upon graduation from the University of the Philippines with a Business Administration degree, Riingen has also been largely credited for boosting the domestic money transfer business of Western Union. Riingen also shares the new remittance products that will expectedly boost even more the company’s business among Filipinos here and abroad.

Me: So Western Union finally saw the need to open a real office here in 2003 because of the surging remittances from OFWs?

Ms. Riingen: The business was growing and they also saw the potential of the Philippine market at that time. The setup of Western Union in Asia-Pacific before, people would work out of their homes and as we grew, there was a need for an infrastructure already. (Click here for the rest of my chat with Ms. Riingen.)

August 25, 2008

Sinong best friend mo doon?


Something Like Life
Aug. 23, 2008


I STILL remember that sweet TV commercial of a popular ice-cream brand featuring two tykes, one of them asking this question of his friend who was about to leave for the US. His best friend, of course, assures him that they will still be best friends despite the distance; then they share an ice-cream cup (or was it a cone?) afterward.

I recall this poignant TV ad today, as I write my column, after being told that the best friend of my friend Señor, who recently passed away, had also bid this earthly world of ours goodbye. It was such a shock finding this out today because the last time I “spoke” with the Don was after coming home from Señor’s wake. I texted the Don to tell him I missed seeing him at the wake, and also to send my condolences because I knew how close he was to Señor. I was pretty sure he was torn up, as well, with his best friend’s passing.

The Don texted back and thanked me for my concern, telling me the reason for his absence—he was ill. I told him that when he gets better, I was looking forward to seeing him again to toast the good times we had with Señor.

That the Don also passed away from the same illness that Señor had, and just a month apart, was more than a coincidence, as far as I’m concerned. They were such good buddies; some say they were more like brothers than with their own siblings, so perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that the other just followed wherever his best friend was going. (Click here for the rest.)

Beatles in Manila...arayko

When they awoke on July 5, they discovered the Filipino media had made the group public enemies No 1, 2, 3 and 4 for “snubbing” Imelda Marcos. Getting out became the priority. 'At the airport we were all jostled, shoved, pushed, and it was ‘Carry your own bags – there’s no porters for you! ’ It upset the Beatles a great deal,” recalls Whitaker. “When we were on the plane waiting to take off, there was complete silence in the first-class cabin. We didn’t know whether we were all going to be dragged off and slung into prison. When the engines started up and we were finally in the air, there was such elation among all of us to get out of that f***-hole.” (Click Sunday Times of London for the rest.)

August 22, 2008

But hus gona clean da toilet?!?!

IN the tradition of the now dead Chikkatime (sniff!), I leave you a couple of cute tidbits to tide you over the long weekend.

DA hu is this Senator who had an all-access pass to the Beijing Olympics, and who couldn't help but brandish his VIP ID to anyone who cared to talk to him or listen to him? Talk is this Senator – whose escapes from trouble are legendary – was able to secure the VIP pass from a colleague – an NPA (nonperforming asset) – who was originally assigned the ID but for some reason, didn't want to watch the Games. (Kasi siguro wala si Pac-man sa boxing team...sad.) Anyway, Mr. Senator Olympics seems to have no moral issues swiping the VIP ID from his colleague, even if he too is known as an NPA in the august body.

DA wat is this airline that is so cheap these days, it just uses only soap and water to clean its toilet bowls in its remaining planes that are flying (at the last count, it was just two), than the usual hygenic toilet duck-like chemical used by most airlines? Why only two planes? My little squirrels tell me that the rest of the fleet has been grounded, the planes cannibalized for spare parts, as the airline cuts down on its maintenance budget. Also, two of its jets have been pulled out by the lessors because airline management refuses to pay its debts owed to the leasing company. Speaking of maintenance, I also hear that the airline no longer has an experienced crew in the shop, disgusted with the way the management has been cutting corners. Most have left for Singapore for better-paying jobs. Also, its veteran pilots have flown the coop for more professionally-run airlines here and abroad. As a fellow journalist likes to remark: "But hus gona clean da toilet?!"


(Inside the NAIA-3. Photo from www.skyscrapercity.com)


DA hu is this Cabinet Secretary who was supposed to have said of his little colleague in the presidentita's family, reportedly also trying to cash in on the NAIA-3 terminal opening: "Ang tagal ko nang drinibble ito, ang lagay sya ang makikinabang?" Veterans of government contracts say that a lot of money is sure to be made from the approval of permits to concessionaires (stores, shops, boutiques, food stalls, etc.) who plan to set up in the terminal. Eased out of the NAIA-3 squeeze play, little colleague was not to be outdone. He instead got a very lucrative contract recently signed during the presidentita's recent trip to China. Aba, iba na pag paborit ni Ma'am noh?

Have a great weekend y'all!

Meat and greet (Elbert's Steak Room)


(Half of my USDA "Super" Prime Rib-Eye)

IN this third (and maybe final) installment of the my steakscapade, we finally got the chance to eat at Elbert's Steak Room last night. I know some people who have raved about this restaurant tucked away in the non-descript Sagittarius Bldg. along HV dela Costa St. in Salcedo Village. This building is so old, you would never have thought a fine-dining restaurant could or should be opened there. But I suppose it works, as the restaurant has made a name for itself in the steak world.

(Scallops in absinthe cream)

Overall, however, it wasn't a positive experience for us eating at this restaurant, despite the great company and the riotous fun we generally had because it was our regular super-chismis night w/ our favorite dining companion. Most of us thought, for the ginormous amount paid for our entire meal, there were certain expectations that were unmet.

So we first ordered our appetizers while waiting for the rest of the gang to arrive. The first waiter who attended to us was polite, and patient in taking down our orders, and explaining certain nuances of the menu. But, we had to order the breads instead of these being served immediately like in other fine dining establishments, and sorry to say, even my neighborhood bakery serves better pandesal. Strike one.

(Plump shrimps in the Gambas, oops, prawns pala. Apologies to the prawns police, hahaha.)

Then came the appetizers: Scallops in absinthe cream, and Gambas. The scallops were tender and mushy just the way I like them, but the cream sauce, if they really used absinthe, didn't taste anything like the liquor. Not even a hint of it. The Gambas, however, was better because the cook used plump prawns, although I would have preferred the dish to be more spicy.

(Green Salad in Asian Vinaigrette)

Then the Green salad came with its Asian vinaigrette. Unfortunately, the ginger in the vinaigrette was so overpowering and the dressing was swimming in it, so it sort of killed the freshness of the greens. I ordered the Tomato soup, which was so-so...very thin and watery actually. Strike two.

But I must admit that the USDA "Super" Prime Rib-Eye I ate, was on the whole, tender, juicy, with good marbling...and even if I'm not a steak lover, I really appreciated it. It was a good-sized serving so Ms. RP and I halved it. I didn't need to use any peppercorn sauce or the red wine and shallots sauce.

(Tomato Soup)

At first bite, though, it was super salty. So I tell this to the short waiter who was attending to us and he snippily answers, "Tanggalin nyo yung ibabaw." No "po," no "please", no "ma'am". As Miggy pointed out, and we do eat out a lot, there was not even an offer of changing the dish or at least "acting" to resolve the situation. Most upscale restaurants with professional waitstaff are trained well enough to say something like "Ma'am would you like us to change it for you?" Or like, "Ma'am, let me ask the chef what we can do." Or something to that effect. But Noooo....our waiter was snooty like he effing owed the goddamned restaurant! Hindi kami natuwa sa kanya...pramis! Also, toward the end of our dinner, the waiters were no longer very attentive...maybe perhaps because the owner of the restaurant had already left? And one waiter even got my order of tea wrong, despite the fact that he repeated it before scurrying off to order it. So, STRIKE THREE.

The sidings as well left very much to be desired. The Angel Hair Aglio Olio was practically drowned in olive oil, and the noodles were malabsa. The Truffled Mashed Potatoes was creamy but pretty ordinary, that I thought I should offer up my own recipe for this dish. The Porcini Mushroom Risotto was not creamy but gritty. I cook risotto a lot so I would think it still lacked cooking time and more broth. Sayang kasi, the porcini mushroom is very delicate and at the same time, aggressive...so if only the dish was served as it should have been, it would have been a good complement to the steak (although I personally prefer Portobellos in my risotto).

(Angel Hair Aglio Olio)

I must point out though that Elbert's Steak Room does have a fine stock of wines and champagnes. Very impressive, especially its private reserve. (I would be willing to wash the wine glasses just to drink the Château Cheval Blanc Grand Cru 2001...P31,000, whoa!) . Even if what we had last night was one of the lower-priced ones on the list (Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon 2002), it was good value. It was full-bodied with a hint of chocolate and berries, and generous amounts of oak. Yum!

Despite the Lavazza coffee, however, dessert fell flat. Like the bread, appetizers, and sidings, this course is not the restaurant's stronger points. Of the dessert sampler, the only dish I actually liked was the Creme Caramel (in other words, leche flan), because its sweet and tangy tastes played on my tongue rather well. On the other hand, the crust of the Apple Charlotte ala Mode, for example, was tough instead of flaky. Strike four.

(Porcini mushroom risotto)

I always tell this foodie friend that you really don't have to be a rocket scientist to be able to serve steak. The secret is using the correct grade and cut of the steak so you have the right marbling (the fatty deposits in between the meat grain), which gives the steak its flavor. And to me, the perfect seasoning is just plain salt and pepper...so you can really savor the steak at its most naked state. Grill it or pan-fry it medium-rare so you get those juices flowing!

(Dessert sampler, clockwise from bottom: Creme caramel, Best chocolate mousse, Warm bread & butter pudding, Apple charlotte ala mode.)

In conclusion, the steaks (and wines) at Elbert's are definitely worth the trip, but I think more work needs to be done in the non-steak dishes, and on its customer service, to make your total bill really worth paying for. For all the hype that it's generated, frankly, it was kind of a disappointing experience overall.

(Note: I am curious about Elbert's Lunch menu which has interesting choices like a House Burgers w/ Gruyere Cheese – my favorite cheese in the world –  and Roast Beef sandwich with sukiyaki-cut slow roasted Rib-eye. At P550+, I think I might drop by just to see if lunch will change the way I feel about this restaurant.)


(Choose your dining corner...apologies, it was really dark.)



(Well-stocked bar. Cool barstools.)


(Elbert's Steak Room is at the 3rd floor of the Sagittarius Building III, 111 H. V. de la Costa Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City)

August 21, 2008

Where were you on 08/21/83?

IT'S hard to believe that it's been 25 years since Sen. Ninoy Aquino's death. In a way, it's like the JFK assassination in the States...everyone remembers where they were when it happened. For us Pinoys, however, since Ninoy's arrival at the NAIA was not covered by TV news organizations – given the then dispensation – most of us found out about his assassination rather belatedly.

And so, I don't remember where I was when Ninoy was shot. I don't even remember how I found out about it. Since this was in 1983, I had just started college at De La Salle, so I would assume, I was in class that day. And most probably, I only found out about the assassination when I got home.

But I must admit, Ninoy Aquino was not a big name in our household. My parents were huge supporters of the Sen. Gerry Roxas kasi, who was Ninoy's "rival" of sorts back then. So what is more vivid in my recollection is the bombing at Plaza Miranda of the Liberal Party campaign rally in 1971. I remember a flurry of activity at home and phone calls, watching TV for any word of Sen. Roxas who I am told, was my ninong at my confirmation. And my Pop heaving a sigh of relief after upon learning that "Ninong" Gerry was in the hospital but okay (I use the term "ninong" loosely because I never really got the chance to meet him), and telling us about it. I was relieved as well...though I can't explain how I could have some affection for someone I had never even met.


(Image of Ninoy Aquino from the rocketboychronicles)


Anyhoo, flash forward to 1983...although I don't remember where I was when Ninoy was shot, I remember attending forum after forum at De La Salle, watching that short video where the cameraman tries to follow the Senator as he disembarks from the plane, then someone blocking the camera, and a split second after...hearing the words "pusila, pusila" (shoot! shoot!), and then shots ringing out. The next footage showed Ninoy Aquino dead on the tarmac and soldiers trying to pick up his body.

That video footage – akin to the Zapruder 8-mm film during JFK's assassination – was to be replayed again and again in schools everywhere, and in homes, and was very elemental in galvanizing an entire nation to protest against the Marcoses, and eventually throw them out of power.

Ninoy's death meant a lot for us Filipinos, yes even to me who had only scant knowledge about him prior to Aug. 21, 1983. It helped open my eyes to the realities in our country, and see the dark side of the Marcoses (even though truth to tell, my childhood was pretty much safe under's FM's regime, and there was no queing for rice, unlike today).

Has anything changed really from Marcoses time to today? The same corrupt infrastructures are still in place, the same faces are still around, a number of them possibly responsible for Ninoy's death and the countless of others who tried to warn us about the atrocities committed under the strongman's regime. The same mistakes are made, the same misdirected government policies implemented, all in the glorious name of the people. 25 years after, Filipinos are poorer, less educated, and are hocking all their possessions just to get a chance to leave the Philippines and work abroad.

Perhaps it's just as well that thanks to the presidentita and her holiday economics, Aug. 21, is just an ordinary day like any.

August 20, 2008

Skype me!

WELL, wait until I get my face on, that is.

Miggy and I have been talking to each other via Skype for the past three days, and I just realized that video via webcam really isn't that flattering. So when another friend called me yesterday morning, and because she was in the office and fully made-up, I kinda got self-conscious.

(Lipstick beside my Mac...SOP from now on.)

You see, I work from my home office, so I virtually have no need to put on any makeup (unlike my mother who has lipstick on even if she's just watching TV), So when you're Skyping at 10:30 am, you better have some eyeliner and lipstick on ghels and gheys! or like me, I probably looked such a fright to Tish when I spoke to her this morning...I just woke up and was in my pangtulog. Of course, since she lives in New York, she was also in her sleepwear, about to turn in for the day. But compared to me sympre, she looked fresh and put together, mukang bagong paligo ang lolah ko. So after this morning's Rocky Horror Picture Show (or sige na nga, Regal Shockers), I have resolved to put on some pressed powder, eyeliner, and a dab of lipstick every morning...just in case someone Skypes me.

Btw, like Facebook, Skype is such a great way to keep in touch w/ friends and relatives abroad. (Or like Miggy and I, even when we're practically just separated by Edsa and Visayas Ave. hahaha!) I know Skype has been around for a few years, but I only got my new Macbook recently w/c has a built-in Isight (or webcam), whereas my old Ibook didn't have one. So it's now more fun to use Skype because you see your caller or the people you call in all their fugly glory...hahaha! (According to Ms. RP, this is what she is worried about as well if she starts using Skype. We would have to put our fez on everytime we go before the webcam...)

Sure, Yahoo Messenger and those other instant messaging applications like our homegrown Chikka, as well as cellphone texting, are useful because you get to chat/text w/ your friends here and abroad, but I sorta miss the good 'ol days when people actually spoke to each other, fez to fez. It was a hoot to see Tish, for example, in her bedroom in New York (and her American hubby too who was nakiki-chismis w/ us), even as she complained about the noisy yapping dogs of my neighbor.

After being such a bad influence on my friends for introducing them to Facebook, now I'm getting all of them to do Skype. Imagine, we can even play poker now via Skype? The possibilities are endless I tell ya! It's cool, so gheys and ghels, come let's join us!

All right Mr. De Mille, I'm ready for my close-up.

Laurence Fishburne joining CSI cast

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Stage and screen star Laurence Fishburne's last turn as a series regular on network television was the role of Cowboy Curtis on the 1980s kids show "Pee-wee's Playhouse."

So the acclaimed actor better known for playing dark, brooding characters says he looks forward to his new TV gig as a forensics investigator with disturbing tendencies on the hit CBS detective drama "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation."

Not that he had ever seen the series before his first meeting with the show's executive producers, Carol Mendelsohn and Naren Shankar.

"I felt a little stupid and embarrassed that I hadn't watched the show prior to having a meeting with them," Fishburne, 47, acknowledged in a conference call with reporters for the announcement that he is joining the show's cast. (Click here for the rest.)

* * * *

NOW I can't decide whether this is good news or bad news.

I have been such a rabid fan of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (and CSI New York), so watching the upcoming season without William Petersen's Gil Grissom character will be very disconcerting. But Laurence Fishburne is really a great character actor, and I have no doubt he will be a good addition to the CSI team, especially if his character were to head the department vice Grissom. It's just that Grissom, like CSI New York's Det. Mack Taylor (brilliantly played by Gary Sinise...love him!), is one of the more intelligent characters on primetime TV; it will be such a pain to see him go.

(Let's not even talk about CSI Miami and David Caruso's character Horatio watshisface...a joke and insult to Grissom and Taylor's characters if you ask me. Caruso is just so porma and acts out his character almost the same way as he did his character in Hill Street Blues. Or was that NYPD Blue? Does anyone notice that Caruso's character on CSI Miami never really gets his hands dirty by doing lab work?)

(Anyone remember Laurence Fishburne as Cowboy Curtis? Nakakahiya to say, pero I do. Nge. Boy, he's sure come a long way huh?)

Fishburne is one of my fave character actors, and seriously, kahit panget sya, ang galing-galing nyang umarte! You can't help but have a certain affinity for his brooding and grim characters. I liked him as Morpheus in the Matrix trilogy, and recently, as Dr. Larabee as the spelling bee mentor in Akeelah and the Bee. And did you know he did the voice of the Silver Surfer in the last Fantastic Four film? Say nyo?

But gee, the CSI Vegas crew has been experiencing a spate of resignations by its main actors in the past months, ha. First it was Jorja Fox who played Sarah Sidle and Grissom's love interest who left, then it was Gary Dourdan (Warrick Brown) who was killed off in the last season. Sayang, he was actually hot. Now it's Petersen. Everyone just wants to pursue other acting avenues. I don't blame them...they've been doing this gig for what? eight years already?

Well, I'll certainly miss Gil Grissom and his weird affinity for insects, his OC-like attention to details, his inability to express his true affections for his soulmate (remember the S&M Vegas madame?), and his love for crossword puzzles. (Curious ako sa plot twist na gagawin ng writers...will he leave CSI to join his love Sarah Sidle somewhere?)

But I suppose, Fishburne will be able to inject new life into this CSI, coupled with the unfailingly outstanding scripts and stories woven by the show's writers. (Pero joshme ha! dapat manood na sya ng CSI!) I can't wait for the new season to begin.

August 19, 2008

The richest man in Bicol

ELIZALDY CO is probably a name Metro Manilans are not familiar with. But out in Bicol, this is one 'taipanet' that has been making waves in the region's economy, and soon Luzon natives will also be able to benefit from his businesses.

I met Zaldy when I recently went to Legazpi, Albay to cover the inauguration of two new tourism properties – Hotel Venezia in Renaissance Gardens, Legazpi, and Discovery Bay Misibis in Cagraray Island. Both properties are to be managed by HSAI Raintree Inc. (which also oversees the Discovery Hotels and resorts), but unlike the other Discovery-branded establishments, the Bicol properties are owned by Zaldy.


(Zaldy Co, CEO of Sunwest Group of Companies, poses at the lanai of a model unit of Discovery Bay Misibis, a luxury resort in Albay scheduled to open in December.)

Only 38, this guy is so unassuming and humble I can't imagine him as one of the richest men, if not, the richest man in Bicol. He is into almost all businesses — construction, aviation, tourism, renewable energy, and soon, even mining. An ex-seminarian, Zaldy's businesses (under his Sunwest Group of Companies) are aimed at protecting the environment (yes, even the mining although he declined to reveal the details of this rather new venture), giving more jobs to people, and lifting economies.

His renewable energy projects, for example, are powering small islands like Catanduanes, and soon Antique and Iloilo. "It's a good feeling," Zaldy says of his hybrid power projects (geothermal, hydro, wind). "It's acceptable to the people, and good for the environment.... We are just stewards of this earth, e."

Read more about how this taipan-in-the-making is making a difference in Bicol and the Philippine countryside.

August 16, 2008

An interview with Vampyra

YESTERDAY, I was visited by two cute and perky students from De La Salle's Communication Arts Department. Buchay and Patet wanted to interview me for their Introduction to Print class (of Gary Mariano...he of the legendary cute tight ass, as per my ex-classmate Ana P.), on the reasons I entered journalism, and to ask about my interesting and unforgettable experiences in the field (o dava parang slum book?).

Well, I had fun, I dunno about the girls, who were probably stupefied beyond belief because I didn't sound any bit respectable as a journalist ought to be. I mean, I was very candid on why I became a journalist ("chismosa lang talaga ako") and what continues to inspire me to do my work ("KSP siguro ako...I like seeing my name in print"), because betcha by golly wow! it certainly isn't because of the below minimum wage salary! hahaha. Wag naman, magagalit my editors! (Okay, it's because I have the chance to be near Ace Durano...sigh.)

I thought it was refreshing for me to be speaking with young people and sharing with them my experiences, because I really have no regrets joining this profession. I've been a journalist since I was in College (yay, La Sallian!), and everytime I leave the profession for some higher paying job (as a PR, or government information officer), I would end up back in journalism again.

It's really my calling I suppose. I have the knack for news and to this day, even if I have wormed my way into the "easier" job of being a lifestyle writer/columnist, I still have the nose for the hard business news. So I still can't help but write about these business issues even when I'm supposedly covering a lifestyle event. (Let me correct myself there, however, lifestyle writing isn't as "easy" as it sounds, trying to string words and giving different descriptions to the food you eat or the places you travel to is difficult. How many times can you say "fabulous", "great", and "tasty"?)

I've considered it a privilege to be working in this profession. The pay might be very low but there are a lot of psychic benefits. I have been able to interview many VIPs in government and in the private sector, both here and abroad. I have been able to travel around the Philippines and in many parts of the world because of invites to press coverages and such, have stayed at really fantastic resorts and hotels, and eaten and the most high-priced restaurants here and around the world (alas, except for French Laundry), because of the press invites.

It's a charmed life I know, and I try not to abuse the privileges given me and the friendships that have been formed from all these. I know that when I'm out of the profession, many of these so-called friendships will no longer be. So I thank the Lord every day, that He has given me such wonderful blessings, like the talent to write well and to be chica enough to know a lot of people. And I just hope that through my work, I've been able to serve Him to His satisfaction.

And with that, let me leave you with a photo of my favorite Cabinet Secretary Ace Durano. Ang kulit ba?!

(The hardworking Ace Durano, Tourism Secretary, with the awesome Mayon Volcano in the backdrop, Aug. 8, 2008. Photo by Philip Sison)

As a journalist, I keep a pretty much objective view of most of the officials I've had the privilege of interviewing, and very few have impressed me as much as Secretary Durano, of the Department of Tourism.

I cannot help but admire Ace (may I call you that, Mr. Secretary? *wink*), because while his lolah, the presidentita, and most of her Cabinet lackeys were in China in the guise of forging investment deals (pero actually they just wanted to watch the Beijing Olympics Opening), he was in Albay inaugurating two new tourism establishments in the area. I was surprised that he traveled without a phalanx of security aides in tow, unlike most government officials (you know who you are!).

And grabeh ha, he was up until past 10:30 p.m., patiently answering questions jorjeous moi and Miggy asked him (daming storya yikes! *hingal*). He knows his tourism issues inside and out, because obviously he studies them, instead of just relying on his undersecretaries. He is so unassuming and very humble. (And as the ghey friends say it, so mabango-looking pa! *kilig*) No wonder this certain local elected official likes hanging around him, too. Aba, me pa-press-press pa sya ng shoulders ni Ace! Kainis ha, inggit ako. Da who is this local offical? Secret!

So I am not surprised that in the recent Pulse Asia survey, the public has rated Ace as one of the top two Cabinet Secretaries (he was edged out by Sec. Jing Lapus of the Department of Education, a good friend of mine from way back his agrarian reform days). The moral of the story is, tigilan nyo na ang kaka-japorms, mga Cabinet Secretaries, and just do your job like Ace.

Yun lang pow.

August 15, 2008

If you're still unconvinced about Climate Change

...take a look at this amateur video of a tornado in Los Baños, Laguna. It gave me the creeps.

What was scarier though were all these people watching it, fascinated, instead of taking cover. Thank God there was no major disaster the likes of twisters in the U.S.


(Taken by Kloa)

August 14, 2008

Laugh-a-minute at Project Runway Philippines

THERE'S a new comedy show in town and it's name is Project Runway Philippines! Comedy because the ghey designers in this show are just hilarious, as only Pinoy gheys can be. So one minute they're sobbing their poor little mascaraed eyes out, then the next minute they're catty and downright beyoootches...just my kind of programming! Ma-drama itong mga lolah na ito, I don't think they were scripted at all, unlike their American counterparts. They are so transparent so pag im sila, or just being tupperware to their colleagues, ay it shows mga sisters!

I just found the show on Channel 16 of SkyCable although I've always been an avid fan of the U.S. version (I have a ghey crush on Tim Gunn!). But I didn't think the local version was airing already. One thing though, those subtitles are soooo distracting! Anovayan? Wilson Tieng didn't invest in a good sound system and engineer? Tsk, tsk, tsk, sayang and technology. (Wilson Tieng is the producer of the show and if I'm not mistaken, owns Solar Channel.)

Oh and another thing, why is the host Teresa Herrera trying to forcibly channel Heidi Klum? Gasp! Kalowkah! Buti pa si Jojie Lloren, he doesn't try to be like Tim Gunn, although the former should try to be more articulate in his critiques. Like if I were the designer, I'd be like, "OK Jojie, what are you trying to tell me?" (My fab fashion writer ghey friend tells me the original choice as host was actually Tweetie de Leon, except that some people thought she was kinda jurassic na. And I go, have you seen the closeups of Teresa Herrera?)



I'm not being a beyootch here (okay, so I am, so what?), but I think Apples Sadhawi would have been a better choice as host. She sounds articulate, and her face is still fresh-looking after all these years (sige na nga, it must be the Pond's). Maybe next season, the producers would rethink the script and the major characters in the show. Like they should consider maybe switching Rajo and Jojie's roles. Although Rajo is younger, parang he has more to say when it comes to critiquing the clothes or giving helpful hints to the designers (although honestly, I don't think he's the greatest designer in the country). But you know what they say, those who can't do, teach.

For it's first season, I think Project Runway Philippines is watchable enough, as long as these ghey designers keep shooting off their mouths. Kapluk!
* * * *

A word about the fake child singing sensation at the Beijing Olympics opening ceremonies: Made in China ang production, what did you guys expect? Bumibili ba kayo ng tunay na LV bag sa Greenhills? Hello.

August 13, 2008

Aiming to be no. 2

Alternative fare for TV5

By Marinel Cruz
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:56:00 08/12/2008


MANILA, Philippines—Newly refurbished Channel TV5’s initial broadcast on Saturday night had none of the telenovelas and noontime variety shows commonly seen on ABS-CBN and GMA 7.

“It’s the risk we decided to take. We wanted to give people an alternative to the current fare,” said TV5 CEO Christopher Sy during the network’s launch last Thursday in Greenhills, San Juan. “If we would come up with shows with just the same format, wala rin kaming pinagkaiba. ”

Sy added that the network will first concentrate on strengthening its prime time block, which is from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. (Click here for the rest.)

Channel 5? Buhay pa ba 'yan?!?!

Geez, the last time I watched Channel 5 (then called ABC 5), it was a program on short features/docus on the Guimaras oil spill. Even then, management did a bang-up job of showing these films, with one filmmaker even crying "Censorship!".

On the other hand, my friend always watches ABC 5 because she doesn't have ANC on her cable TV (ay pobrecita, her condo only has Global Destiny kasi), and she only watches newscasts in English. Sushal! (to quote Chuvaness).

I dunno lang ha, pero as I read through the program list of TV5, there was nothing in there that excited me. Another teen show? another reality TV show (can anything be better than Celebrity Apprentice? Survivor? Amzing Race?)? and more dancing (Lucy Torres, di ka pa ba napapagod?)!

(Growing up, I watched excellent English-language TV shows like Charlie's Angels. Notice my Farrah Fawcett twang when I speak? hahaha! Photo from the web)

If I were to program the shows of TV5, I would get all the excellent canned TV programs in the States. There's a great demand for them on cable TV, and if I recall correctly, Channel 7 made its mark in the '70s exactly because of that...by offering an all-English lineup of canned TV shows from the States. Growing up we had Charlie's Angels, Donnie and Marie Show, Dynasty, Knot's Landing (I didn't like Dallas much), and my Pop had his Combat...brrraaap!

If TV5 offers shows like these, not only will the network entertain us, it will also educate people to learn to speak better English. When ABS-CBN started programming in Filipino, well, there went the neighborhood. Sadly, I listen to kids now and they can't even speak one line in straight English. While we did speak English at home, and in school, my language skills were definitely honed as well watching TV programs in English. (Kaya nga me American twang ako ala Farrah Fawcett pag nag-i-ingles e...char!)

Government made such a mistake in pushing for bilingual education (WTF is Hekasi?!?!), Generation Y lost its ear for English. Now that they all want to be call center agents, they have to pay to learn to speak the language. Anovayan?!?! People who claim to be nationalistic say teachers should teach all school subjects in Filipino. Ngek! I speak English and that doesn't make me less of a Filipino than the next guy who speaks straight Filipino!

So I wish the kids these days will have a TV network they can turn to to watch Sesame Street and fun cartoons in English, while we adults will have excellent English-language (not necessarily American) shows like Weeds, Burn Notice, House, Brothers and Sisters, Lipstick Jungle, Entourage, the David Letterman Show, Conan O'Brien, etc. Make these great shows, even those showing on cable TV, available to the masses, and propagate the use of English!

Is it expensive to bring in canned TV shows? Of course! But I predict an influx of massive advertising if TV5 starts offering them. Leave the dancing2 and the crying2/screaming2 TV programs to the experts. Listen up, Tonyboy, if you haven't learned this yet from your years as a businessman, go for the niche market!

'Yun lang pow.

August 11, 2008

Conflicted

Something Like Life
Aug. 8, 2008


“And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.” (Matthew 10:14)

IT’S not difficult to comprehend why Fr. Mauricio Ulep’s parents hesitated to let him study to be a priest. He is intelligent, very articulate, with a good sense of humor and, most of all, he is cute. (As if all the priests should be old, fat, boring and ugly.)

In fact at one of the Masses for my father’s wake last year, which Father Mau, then 30, had officiated, my 21-year-old niece couldn’t help but whisper to me: “Ang guapo naman ng priest na ’yan!” Her elder sister looked to me, as well, with a slight raising of the eyebrows and a knowing smile that meant that her thoughts were not focused on the day’s Gospel anymore. (The rain was pouring in torrents outside, causing a massive flood along the avenue where the funeraria was located, but we were warm and comforted by the fact that our priest was young and handsome, and delivered a good short sermon. Amen! We all certainly felt blessed that stormy night.)

Father Mau looks just like any young college student dressed in jeans, sneakers and a T-shirt. He is given to impish grins especially when he is on the verge of telling another humorous anecdote about his life. He is one of the five or so priests who say Mass regularly at our neighborhood chapel at the Claret Seminary in Quezon City. His Masses are always packed because, for one, his voice rings clear and loud and, second, his sermons are interesting on no small account due to the personal experiences he shares to illustrate or underscore the message of the Sunday Gospel.

He had just arrived from Basilan two weeks ago and was on his way to visit his father in Ilocos Norte. He is scheduled to return again to the war-torn area and is supposed to take over the parish of Tumahubong, his first posting as a parish priest just two years after being ordained. The parish is three hours away from the city, made accessible by a road famous for ambushes by Muslim extremists, never mind that the stretch is dotted by army outposts. The Claretian order, which has been in Basilan since 1950, is just one of two religious orders that have remained in the province. The other is the Franciscan Order, whose parishes are closer to the capital of Isabela.

(A HARD LIFE. Fr. Mauricio Ulep, a Claretian missionary whose ministry brings him face to face not only with difficult realities like social poverty but also with life-threatening danger.)

It is a dangerous life for Claretians in Basilan, a land mostly populated by Muslims, some of whom feel it is their right to take back their province and kick out the Christians. One of the priests still saying Mass in Claret is an old Spaniard, Fr. Bernardo Blanco, who had already been kidnapped twice by the Abu Sayyaf Group, the first time in 1993 from his parish in Maluso. Kidnappings and killings of catechists are the norm and just in 2000, another Claretian priest, Fr. Rhoel Gallardo, was kidnapped, tortured by Muslim extremists and thereafter killed in a crossfire when the military attempted a rescue operation. (Cick here for the rest.)

(My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday at the Life section of the BusinessMirror.)

August 06, 2008

So prices of goods aren't rising, hmmm?

Inflation hits 12.2 % in July

By Jun Vallecera
Reporter, BusinessMirror
Aug. 6, 2008


PRICES moved at their fastest in 17 years, averaging 12.2 percent in July and boosting the likelihood the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) will again tighten the monetary screws in response.

Latest data from the National Statistics Office (NSO) show key commodity groups rising with the exception of the fuel, light and water index.

It did not surprise BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr., however, who said in a text message: “As expected, inflation in July recorded another increase following the additional shock of Typhoon Frank on food commodities.” (The rest here)

So da hu itong Cabinet official na 'to who keeps insisting that commodity prices are under control? Hindi ba naggo-grocery ang Misis mo ha?!

And betcha by golly waw! I thought there's no rice shortage? So how come the poor are still lining up at the NFA warehouse along Visayas Ave. The queue is soooooo long, it winds into a sidestreet! Josh ko pow! I don't remember lines for food even during the Marcos administration (anyone older guys out there can confirm that these long queues for rice has never happened until this administration? and I'm not talking about Russia ok?)

August 05, 2008

On living well



Something Like Life
Aug. 1, 2008


PEOPLE who knew of Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon professor who recently died at the age of 47 after a bout with pancreatic cancer, are once more discussing his celebrated “Last Lecture,” which has been posted on YouTube since last October. v Since he passed just last week, the hits have even increased as people continue to sing paeans to his words of wisdom, coming from a man who had a debilitating disease and yet did not act like it. In one instance, he even showed how “well” he was by doing push-ups.

Death has been much around me since I was a toddler, but even more so now that I’m an adult. Older relatives, friends and famous people, those whom I looked up to as a young child, are one by one leaving me. People my age are telling me the same thing.

Their time may be up. But they leave us is in the hope that by their own examples, in the way they have lived with their own lives, we have learned something valuable enough to apply to our existence. And perhaps we, too, would be able to impart whatever knowledge or values we have learned or gained through our own personal experiences to the next generation.

Though I still sometimes refuse to recognize it, I am old. And so are my peers and the friends I usually hang around with. While 40 may still be considered the new 20 or 30, chronologically, we are aged. At this stage, we are supposed to have already accomplished much, and that what we have already led “meaningful” lives. We already matter, in the sense that we have experienced so much in these 40 years, that even if we keel over tomorrow, people can say that we have led full lives. Hopefully, our children can look up and say that we have meant a lot to them, and have learned a lot from us, as well.

But how does one do it? How do we, like Randy Pausch, make the most out of our lives, whether or not we are going to be on this good earth for a much longer time than him? (I sometimes wonder, though: Were the same words to come out of someone else’s mouth, someone who isn’t dying, would they have as much impact?)

In trying to live well, the first thing you should ask yourself is: “Am I happy?” You can’t answer that the way some people are wont to respond these days: “Yes, I am, but I could be happier.” It has to be an absolute yes-or-no answer. No ifs, no buts.

If your answer is no, then you have to get down to the bottom why that so. You don’t have enough money, you’re taking care of a sick person in the family, you don’t have a rich husband to cater to your every whim, your boss is an ass, etc. List it down.

Sometimes some of these reasons for your unhappiness are superficial, such as your boss is short of a Mussolini. Why is that? Is it because some of your colleagues have to be prodded time and again to hand in the full details of their projects? Or he treats you that way because you give some flimsy excuse for being absent from work? If you believe the problem is really just him, then move to another job. It’s as simple as that.

You don’t have enough money? What do you want to buy? A new 42-inch LCD TV? Or go abroad to do some shopping? The only one who can say with certainty that they don’t have enough money are the poor who have to hock everything to put food on their table—that is, if they have anything material and with value to pawn off.

Sure, you can blame other people for your misery, but in the end, you are the one responsible for your own happiness.

Like I had an older brother, Mon, who had long passed. When we were younger, he was really the typical problem child. He fell off the swing and broke his arm, he was always with his barkada, then he got into drugs, didn’t finish college, didn’t stay long at any job, etc. In one of the arguments he had with my parents, I remember him blaming them for not taking him camping! Even at a young age, I was stunned at the ridiculousness of that claim because, really, who takes their kids camping in the Philippines? I mean, obviously, there was some underlying reason he was behaving the way he did, but out of spite, he simply blamed our parents. He didn’t want to face his own inner demons, and so lashed out at everyone else. It was only much later in life, a couple of years before he passed away, that he changed his ways and became a productive member of society. But sayang, the amount of time and years he wasted blaming everyone for his situation in life.

Part of living well is taking the cards that are dealt you and making the most out of your hand. When I’m riding a cab, I usually chat with the drivers and ask them about their lives, and see how they are coping with the tough economic times. While it is easy for them to blame the government, and many of them do, they know how to deal with the problems that fall on them, like higher fuel prices, or higher food prices, etc. They reorient their priorities, like buying food before cell-phone load, lining up their cars in a mall for passengers instead of aimlessly driving around, etc., and still try to get home to their families to eat together. They know complaining won’t get them anywhere; they just have to make things work. To most of them, as long as they can earn an honest day’s wage, feed their family and sleep at night, they are basically happy. (Of course, our government can improve everyone’s situation by reducing corruption, so it can do away with the E-VAT. Ahem. Sorry, that Sona just really killed.)

At times, the solution to our unhappiness is just a matter of reworking our position and learning to deal with the choices that are offered to us.

Some people, for example, complain about how their jobs are killing them, and yet there are many more Filipinos who have had to go into debt and leave their families behind just so they can go abroad and earn a decent wage. So please, don’t talk to me about how unhappy you are at work.

Perhaps, in my case, it is much easier to “live well.” I don’t have children to nurture and work my ass off for so I can enroll them in the best schools. I don’t need to buy the next new Prada bag in the market, ahem. My needs are much simpler. I only need to eat three meals a day, have a steady roof over my head and get enough exercise to keep my blood pressure and blood sugar down. So I’m not killing myself at work like I used to, and I am perhaps now saner than my other editor friends.

At work, I am basically my own boss. I work when I want to, and stop when I need to. As long as I get paid adequately for the work I do and see my name in print, I am happy. Everything else that comes my way is pretty much a bonus.

For some other people, their needs are greater and they will have to deal with so many more extenuating circumstances or people before they are able to pursue what they want in life. But I remember this quote from a book I read a long time ago (I forgot the title): “Argue for your limitations and, sure enough, they are yours.”

That pretty much sums up what I’ve been trying to say. Do what you must to make yourself happy. Go for that dream you’ve been wanting to pursue. Life is too short to blame others for the situation you are in. There is no one responsible for yourself but you.

(My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday in the Life section of the BusinessMirror.)

August 04, 2008

Of course you know GMA!

PICKED up this bit of news from Jessica's blog, about a Microsoft global study that proves that the Theory of Six Degrees of Separation is actually truer than we think. (Read it here.)

Using its MSN Messenger, Microsoft researchers considered two people "acquaintances" even if they sent just one message to another person. From that, a chain of acquaintances was studied and the researchers found that indeed the average chain length between one person to another was exactly 6.6.

Well, I've met and had dinner with the Presidentita in Malacañang once (she even gave me a goodbye peck on the cheek...which seriously, made my skin crawl). Since all of you readers I consider as acquaintances, by that, you are separated from our beloved chief of the land via just one hop. Scary, innit?

* * * *

Isa pang pang-gising: Sorry it took so long, but I'm finally posting a photo of one of the bags that a VIP government official bought in her recent shopping trip to Neiman Marcus Stanford.

(The Chanel ice cube 2.55 bag...sa true lang, it really is delish. Last year's rage. Me taste ang personal shopper ng lolah nyo. Photo from The Bag Snob)


Since that posting, I've received comments ranging from, of course, that "VIP's personal shopper has taste, 'cos she's an Ilongga", to "how depressing naman!", and a tip on how much her hubby blew in Vegas while she was out shopping.

Then there are those who said, this VIP shoppingera really ought to look good because after all, she is representing the Philippines in many international forums. Inaway tuloy ni Pangs sa inis nya! Haha! But I say, so much for "pagtitiis" that she appeals that her constituents must make.

Then again, with all the public policy faux pas she's been committing since she became a government official, and the ensuing nasty public opinion she's been receiving, she would need some retail therapy. Naawa ba kayo?

Good morning sa lahat ng mga cab drivers all over da Pilipins! Andito pa din tayong lahat, sabay-sabay na nagtitiis!

August 02, 2008

Court martial set for US soldier charged w/ Pinay's rape in Okinawa

By Veronica Uy
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 11:16:00 08/01/2008


MANILA, Philippines -- The American soldier who is accused of raping a Filipina in Okinawa, Japan has been charged by the United States Army, setting the stage for his court-martial, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Friday in a statement.

"On July 28, the United States Army charged Specialist Ronald Edward Hopstock Jr. with the rape of a Filipino woman under section 120 of the US Uniform Code of Military Justice," it said.

As a result of information discovered during the course of the Army criminal investigation, the US Army also charged Specialist Hopstock with additional offenses unrelated to the Filipina victim. The DFA did not specify these additional offenses.

The Commander of the 10th Army Support Group, US Army Japan, then appointed an independent officer (IO) to conduct an Article 32 (UCMJ) hearing, a prerequisite to a court-martial. (The rest here)

Good for her! It's about time these US soldiers be taken to task with their abuses of women. I don't mean to put them all in one bunch, but if you remember the case of the 'Nicole' who got raped in Subic, what happened? Wala. Our authorities were so super-scared of pursuing the case because of the government's overdependence on the U.S. military for its hand-me-downs.

And because of the ensuing moro-moro in court (sure the accused was found guilty but...), and seeing how Philippine authorities behaved like patsies anyway, the U.S. military didn't even bother to bring him to court martial. Who knows, the kid, Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, is probably safe in his family's arms in the U.S. already, and not at the U.S. Embassy in Manila as claimed. Meanwhile, the case is on appeal and is expected to reach the Supreme Court. Kawawa naman si Nicole.

At least out there in Okinawa, where the Japanese authorities are apparently more thorough and really put the U.S. military on the spot, this Pinay is getting the justice that is due her. Kudos to the Okinawans considering they are losing the military bases by 2009, with the transfer of the Marines to Guam.

Despite the advances we females have made in society, certain men still like to treat us like trash. It doesn't matter what sector of society she belongs...even if she is wealthy, or just poor, a student, a career woman, or a hooker. When a woman says, "No," she means "No!"

Steak out! (22 Prime at Discovery Suites)

(Rib-eye Steak 400 gm. I had to share 2/3 of this with my friends)

OKAY, truth to tell, I'm not a steak person. I used to be...but when my mom took over cooking duties from my Lola, she really didn't how to cook then. So all she did was pan-fry or grill steaks...T-bone, Porterhouse, Rib-eye, etc. (yes, GK, bought from Jusmag, haha). Sometimes she would get really soft and tender beef tenderloin from her suki at the market. It was a good thing I was playing tennis back then otherwise I would have blown up like a blimp.

(Grilled Wagyu Beef Medallions)

Anyhoo, I seem to have fallen into a steak reverie and have been currently checking out the latest restaurants with steaks as their specialty. A few weeks back it was Pepper Lunch. Then just recently, I visited 22 Prime on the 22nd floor of Discovery Suites along ADB Ave. (across Podium).

We had mixed reviews of the dishes we ordered. Miggy thought her Wagyu Medallions were tough. I found them just the right tenderness, but mejo salty to my taste. My Rib-Eye was grilled to the right brown-ness on the outside, but red, tender and juicy inside (I ordered it a medium). I smothered it with the peppercorn sauce...and yum! It was sooo good. The others seemed to be happy as well with their petite Filet Mignon.

(Filet Mignon petite 150 gm.)

According to Marc dela Cruz, Discovery Suites associate director for marketing communications, they get their steak cuts from the world-famous Snake River Farms in Boise, Idaho, which is the largest producer of American Kobe beef. (I buy local Wagyu from Salcedo Market but it just isn't that really tender. It tends to be gummy because of the fat. Good wagyu melts in the mouth.)

Before you eat your steak, they offer you a choice of steak knives, which seems to have impressed a friend-chef when he ate there. The side dishes at 22 Prime were alright..we had grilled mushrooms, braised baby carrots, asparagus spears, but the waitstaff Lovely, forgot my corn kernels. The Baked Oysters Rockefeller were not so fresh, however. We also had the Asian Lobster Bisque which was creamy and tasty

(Choose your weapon.)

But my super-fave was actually the Cheese Bread which was just so sinfully-flavorful with four cheeses on it. And the bottle of red wine (Two Oceans Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot from South Africa) that went with our dinner was delightfully light on the palate, with just a hint of oak. So it complemented our heavy steaks well.

Oh and there's a singer who sings acoustic (with just his guitar) in the evenings so I actually enjoyed the night, especially so with the friends I had around me. I am told that Fridays are Prime Rib night, so you should check that out. I will :)

(Btw, we espied economist Toti Chikiamco, who was my columnist at Manila Standard before, having dinner with former DENR Sec. Antonio Cerilles and some friends in another corner. Hmmm...I wonder what Cerilles is up to these days.)

Price-wise, the tags on the steaks aren't too bad. They were just right as I would expect U.S. steak cuts would be at any fine-dining restaurant in a hotel would be.

(I super love Chef Rick's Cheese bread! Sino si Chef Rick? Ewan, but this is deeeelicious!)

(P.S. Ordering tip: The Rib-Eye and Wagyu Medallions may be shared. The Rib-Eye especially, is 400 grams, so I almost suffocated in trying to finish it. The Petite Filet Mignon naman, is too small. But if you order the regular size, you might be overwhelmed as well. Of course, I'm a ghel with a smaller tummy...but you big boys out there will probably have no problem finishing a 400-grammer. Arayko. But try to pace yourself, and order some salad! We were so stuffed that I didn't have enough space in my tummy to try out the desserts. Btw, my apologies, my shots of the interiors didn't come out so well so I didn't post 'em.)


(The artsy wine rack. Would love to have this in my house.)


(Order na kayo)

Hang on, Elbert's Steak Room or House of Wagyu...I'll visit you soon enough.

(22 Prime is at the 22nd floor of the Discovery Suites, 22 ADB Ave., Ortigas Center, Pasig City.)

August 01, 2008

Having it all...or not



Something Like Life
BusinessMirror,
July 25, 2008


WHEN I was studying at De La Salle (go Green Archers! yay!), there was one forum I attended where the administration discussed how it was trying to decide whether or not it should raise the quota on female students. In those days—this was around 1984 or 1985—the quota on female students, if I recall correctly, was about 30 percent to the 70-percent male population. There were also suggestions that maybe the quota should be done away with altogether.

But there were many alumni and administration officials who were against raising the female quota or even removing it, because they feared that females would just overrun the student population. Well, what’s so wrong with that, you may ask? Well, De La Salle had always been, traditionally, a “boys’ school.” If it wanted more women around, the male students only had to look to its neighbor over at St. Scholastica’s. The time I was at De La Salle, other less savory colleges were already razzing us that our university was turning into a girls’ school. Not only was it being inundated by female applicants, but the girls were also excelling and getting better grades than the men! (Sorry, guys, aminin na natin.)

I don’t know if the male-female quota of De La Salle still exists, but the latest MasterCard Worldwide Index on Women’s Advancement seems to prove the point that if given the choice and opportunity, Filipino women will want to pursue tertiary education. And as they get better-educated, they are more likely to enter the work force and compete with each other and with men.

According to the findings, as announced by Georgette Tan, MasterCard Worldwide vice president for communications in the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa, in the recent Global Summit of Women, while Malaysians seem to have more women in college than men (at 135 women to 100 men), Filipinos are not so far behind with 116 women in the universities, as against 100 men!

The latest survey also demonstrated that positive sentiment remained strong among Filipino women, who perceived themselves as “almost equal” to their male counterparts in terms of position and influence in the workplace, as well as salary.

The MasterCard Worldwide Index of Women’s Advancement measures the socioeconomic level of women in relation to men using four key indicators: the ratio of female to male participation in the labor force, ratio of female to male in tertiary education, and survey data that measures female and male respondent perceptions of whether they hold managerial positions and whether they earn above-median income.

Considering all these, the Philippines actually edged out Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia and eight other markets in the Asia-Pacific region in having the highest overall index score. This means that we Filipino women are receiving better education, working more outside of the home and moving into more managerial positions, and, yes, even earning more than some of our male counterparts in similar jobs or occupations.

But—and that’s a big but (and, no, I’m not talking about our rear ends)—all these index scores have been dropping for two straight years. Explained Georgette: “While women continue to close the gap in achieving parity with men in the areas of labor-force participation and tertiary education, women’s self-perception regarding the subjective factors of the index—managerial positions and above-median income—have continued to dip for the second year in a row. This appears to indicate that women are feeling less confident about their current status, and whether on account of the economic, political or social landscape, the direct result is that men’s confidence and resulting advancement is increasing to fill the gaps.”

She added: “As women continue to enter the labor force and seek tertiary education, new avenues are opened up for their employment and their careers. However, in 2008 it appears that women continue to perceive themselves as not receiving the same opportunities as men. This, combined with the shifting economic climate, has negatively affected the scores pertaining to the self-perception of women, resulting in a lower MasterCard Worldwide Index of Women’s Advancement score.”

I personally think this perception goes to the fact that women are just becoming too aggressive these days in wanting everything. They want to be CEOs and yet want to be good mothers and perfect wives. This adds to the strain on their relationships with their families. And when their jobs don’t allow them the leeway to achieve these personal goals as well, they feel less confident of themselves and their abilities.

In the past years or so, I’ve known a few women who have already dropped out of the rat race giving up senior management positions in favor of their families. Like it or not, the burden of rearing children traditionally still falls on the mother, and no matter how many househusbands are produced, it is still the mother who will have a much larger influence on the children. That is one traditional role, I think, women are not so willing to abdicate, and, in fact, resent it when their husbands or other males (even other females) in the family start becoming the one the children run to.

Women have come a long way from the time of our mothers and grandmothers. We can choose to be anything we want to be. Go anywhere we want to go. But perhaps it is time to sit back a bit and realize that we cannot do everything.

In allowing ourselves to be smarter than men, and competing to get the best jobs and the better careers, something will suffer. We will have to sacrifice certain areas where we have long dominated in the past. It is the only way for us to break through that so-called “glass ceiling” to the higher-paying jobs and the fancier titles. Question is: Are we willing to do that?

(My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday, in the Life section of the BusinessMirror. Photo from BM.)

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(Sorry guys, have been remiss in my blogging due to unavailibity of a computer. Anyhoo, regular entries start today. Thanks for your patience.)