September 29, 2008

Will this make me thinner?

UCLA group discovers humongous prime number

LOS ANGELES - Mathematicians at UCLA have discovered a 13 million-digit prime number, a long-sought milestone that makes them eligible for a $100,000 prize.

The group found the 46th known Mersenne prime last month on a network of 75 computers running Windows XP. The number was verified by a different computer system running a different algorithm.

"We're delighted," said UCLA's Edson Smith, the leader of the effort. "Now we're looking for the next one, despite the odds."

It's the eighth Mersenne prime discovered at UCLA. (Read the rest at GMA News TV

OKAY, so what the hell do I know about mathematics? Zilcho, nada, pfft! So I don't quite understand what the fuss is all about. Will we be able to solve poverty now or give us the solution to cancer or AIDS? Will knowing this new prime number making me thinner or lift away 10 years off my face? Seriously, how can/will this information be used? Or is this just one of those useless facts that we need to store in our brains so we can play Trivial Pursuit?

I'm not dissing Math, okay? I just want a layman's explanation why this is such an important discovery. Yun lang pow.

September 28, 2008

Totoo na 'to! (the X'mas bazaar schedule)

IF you're still trying to ignore the Christmas decor being sold in the department stores and the Yuletide music already playing on some radio stations and in the malls, here's one more reminder that gift-giving season is just around the corner. I give you the Christmas bazaar schedule (courtesy of Mrs. G).


4 October

US Embassy Club Shopper’s Day
World Trade Center, Metro Manila

4-5 October

Karl Edwards International Bazaar
NBC Tent, Taguig

Venture 7 Christmas Bazaar
Hotel Intercontinental, Makati

6 October

American Women's Bazaar
World Trade Center, Metro Manila

11-12 October

Karl Edwards International Bazaar
NBC Tent, Taguig

Grand Bazaar '08 @ the Big Tent
Isidora Hills, Holy Spirit Drive
Don Antonio Commonweath, QC

Woodrose Family Bazaar
Cuenca Community Center
Ayala Alabang Village, Muntinlupa

12 October

Casa Y Jardin Bazaar
Hotel Intercontinental, Makati

19 October

Casa Y Jardin Bazaar
Hotel Intercontinental, Makati

24-25 October

Rockwell Urban Bazaar
Powerplant Mall, Rockwell Tent, Makati City

25-26 October

Karl Edwards International Bazaar
NBC Tent, Taguig

Grand Bazaar '08 @ the Big Tent
Isidora Hills, Holy Spirit Drive
Don Antonio Commonweath, QC


3 November

American Women's Bazaar
World Trade Center, Metro Manila

8-9 November

Karl Edwards International Bazaar
NBC Tent, Taguig

15-16 November

Karl Edwards International Bazaar
NBC Tent, Taguig

Grand Bazaar '08 @ the Big Tent
Isidora Hills, Holy Spirit Drive
Don Antonio Commonweath, QC

22-23 November

Karl Edwards International Bazaar
NBC Tent, Taguig

23 November

Assumption Alumni Bazaar
Hotel Intercontinental, Makati

28-30 November

Rockwell Urban Bazaar
Powerplant Mall, Rockwell Tent, Makati City

29-30 November

Karl Edwards International Bazaar
NBC Tent, Taguig

Grand Bazaar '08 @ the Big Tent
Isidora Hills, Holy Spirit Drive
Don Antonio Commonweath, QC


2 December

American Women's Bazaar
World Trade Center, Metro Manila

5 - 16 December

The 7th World Bazaar Festival
World Trade Center, Metro Manila

6-7 December

Karl Edwards International Bazaar
NBC Tent, Taguig

Grand Bazaar '08 @ the Big Tent
Isidora Hills, Holy Spirit Drive
Don Antonio Commonweath, QC

12-14 December

Rockwell Urban Bazaar
Powerplant Mall, Rockwell Tent, Makati City

13-14 December

Grand Bazaar '08 @ the Big Tent
Isidora Hills, Holy Spirit Drive
Don Antonio Commonweath, QC

13-23 December

Karl Edwards International Bazaar
NBC Tent, Taguig

18-23 December

Grand Bazaar '08 @ the Big Tent
Isidora Hills, Holy Spirit Drive
Don Antonio Commonweath, QC

20-21 December

"Yuletide Souk" The Big Red Bazaar
Powerplant Mall, Rockwell Tent, Makati City

27-28 December

Karl Edwards International Bazaar
NBC Tent, Taguig

If you start early, like shopping for the gifts in batches, it won't be such a huge impact on your cashflow. But if you're really super-tipid this year, you may wait for the post-Christmas sale of the department stores. I know SM holds its sales starting Dec. 26 or 27; except that it isn't quite as fun anymore for the recipient of your gift to open it after Christmas, right?

Anyhoo, get your shopping list in order kids. It's crunch time. Ho-ho-ho!

September 27, 2008

The Obama-McCain presidential debate

I CANNOT comment on the first U.S. presidential debate of this electoral season. SkyCable decided to interrupt my viewing by doing maintenance work in our area. Thanks!

While I'm at it, I dunno why even its affiliate Bayan is becoming crappy in its DSL service. I used to be a super advocate of the company because while everyone connected to PLDT and SmartBro was freaking out over their lousy intermittent service, and overeager customer billings (as in bayad ka na, sinisingil ka pa rin!), my Bayan DSL was working beautifully. And even on the off-chance that my service would become spotty, Bayan's customer service personnel were very professional and always patient to explain how to guide you through the difficulties of reconnecting.

So after nagging them for this problem (which started to happen co-accidentally? after a strong typhoon about two months ago), someone came and changed my modem box. (Btw, it took an unusually long period of time to reach anyone in their customer service as the line seemed to be perpetually busy or ringing forever, so I finally decided to go to Bayan's PR to complain. In my business, one day w/o an Internet connect means a day closer to a story deadline w/ nothing to show for.) Anyhoo, the repair guy said after two years, my old gray ZTE modem box has outlived its usefulness and so he changed it to a new one. Also ZTE, this time in black, and my Internet connect was up and running again.

Everything was working splendidly until yesterday when I was YM'ing w/ Poknat, and my connection kept dropping. So I made a call and this really sungit customer service girl picked up and after bitching with each other, she said she would make a report. I told her to re-set my connection as well from her end. That seemed to do the trick since my connect was alright again until I logged off last night.

This morning, a Bayan repair guy arrived and said he would change my modem box. And I said, but you guys just changed it. The new guy explained that they have been receiving complaints about the new ZTE modems which go funky whenever they receive calls. (I have a landline going thru the same DSL cable.) He asked if I didn't notice the same. I said no. When I complained about my spotty connection yesterday, I said, I wasn't even using the phone at all.

So he changes the modem box anyway to a Huawei (the same brand as Globe's been using for its HDSPA flash drive/wifi connect). For good measure, he changes all the phone jacks as well. Everything's cool for now but I can't help but think my DSL issue is linked to the ongoing maintenance work of SkyCable, as our cable TV connect starting going funky yesterday as well. Well, let's see how it goes. But I'm starting to look at the Globelines DSL/phone promotions already.

September 26, 2008

What can $700 billion buy?

FIRST of all, no matter how hard I wrap my head around this figure for the U.S. government's grand bailout party, I dunno how they're gonna pay for it unless they hock themselves further in debt. This is overspending to the gazillionaireth proportion and who is gonna pay for all that? The American public. Why do we care? If Americans have less money onhand, they buy less of our goods.

Why can't the U.S. goverment just pay off the mortgages of those who can't pay, or at least, stretch out the borrowers' payments or just help them get on their feet, instead of pandering to Wall Street and (U.S. Treasury Secretary) Paulson and George Bush's rich buds?

Anyway, here's a piece in Vanity Fair on what $700 billion can buy: prevent 200 million foreclosures, pay the U.S. debt to Japan, pay for social security for the next 40 years, remake Titanic 3500 times (ick!), buy 10 iPhones for every American, or how'd you like 10 large hadron colliders? Read the rest at VF Politics and Power

September 25, 2008

Martial Law in the U.S.?

WITH all that's been happening in the U.S....the sub-prime credit mess, collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the instability of its insurance industry and near collapse of its major investment houses, plus the continuing debate in the U.S. Congress over the bailout package, I am getting more convinced that the presidential election in November may not happen at all.

Far-fetched ya think?

President George W. Bush is sounding the alarm, issuing veiled threats, and predicting a depression that the U.S. economy may not be able to get out of in a while; he is saying you guys better get with the program and approve the bailout package or you're dead. Unfortunately, congressmen are hemming and hawing over the plan because they know their constituents are against it. Why give money to those stinking greedy CEOs with houses in the Hamptons, when the rest of America can hardly make the next mortgage payment?

I mean, stranger things have happened...the U.S. did go to war and invade Iraq on the wrong information that it had weapons of mass destruction. So there is a precedent for irrational behavior. Bush could very well declare martial law on the pretext of "saving" the economy. He can argue that he is only after the welfare of the public and national security, and that bailout package is the only way to get the economy back on its feet again. After all, the chief executives in the other countries were the ones egging him to put such a plan together. So Bush can say he is not only saving the U.S. but the global economy. He needs this bailout plan in place like yesterday.

Bush and a messianic complex? I wouldn't put it past him.

(Ballot box photo from

I have only this to say...


Animo La Salle pa rin!

(Animoism photo from

* * * *

OKAY, okay, sige na nga, I got too emotional there. I just soooo wanted to see a Game 3 (and I'm sure, so did the advertisers, and the Araneta Group). But we lost...sob. The Atenistas played a good game, their defense was solid, not to mention they had great shooting from former heartthrob Chris Tiu. (Former kasi parang nasimsim na ni MVP ang bango niya at muka na syang lantang gulay...joke!)

But I also have a beef with the referee for sending Rico Maierhoffer – who usually scores with a lot of baskets – out of the game. I was watching the replay of the finger (or non-finger) he was supposed to have held up but there was just no clear evidence of that. That and JV Casio sitting it out in the last few minutes of the 4th quarter after reaching the limit of his fouls just put way too much pressure on the remaining players.

Anyway, we'll be back next year and we'll get that title, right La Sallians? Go Green Archers!

Introducing...Dr. McSwimmy


September 24, 2008

Aboitiz family leaves shipping business

IN case you guys missed it as most newspapers seem to have just treated the announcement like an ordinary corporate disclosure at the Philippine Stock Exchange, the Aboitiz Group is now getting out of the shipping business.

According to a statement yesterday from Aboitiz Equity Ventures, the holding firm of the Aboitiz Group: “At a special meeting today…the Board of Directors of AEV unanimously voted to accept the unsolicited offer of KGLI-NM to buy all of AEV’s shareholdings in Aboitiz ATS subject to a due diligence audit to be conducted by KGLI-NM.”

This is big news indeed and an end of an era for the Aboitizes who have been in the shipping business since 1907 transporting abaca which the family traded. Then it expanded to passenger shipping in 1918 when Don Paulino Aboitiz's son, Ramon bought the steam ship Tubig from Smith, Bell and Co. The company started plying the route between Leyte (where the family originally lived btw) and Cebu.

The rest, of course, is history. But I suppose with the sluggishness of the shipping business (the Aboitizes even partnered with William Lines and Gothong Lines to form WGA), and the group's expansion into more profitable businesses like banking and power (including power brokering, ahem), it was high time for them to leave their original business. Still, I'm sure it was a very difficult decision for the family to make.

Stay away from these books daw

GOT this Times link from an FB friend: 10 books not to read before you die. The list includes Ulysses, War and Peace, Lord of the Rings, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Pride and Prejudice, etc. (I've read the last three and Homer's Iliad...damnit. Maybe I should've read more of Frank Herbert and Isaac Asimov...yeah, sci-fi was my thing when I was in the Elementary grades. I would've become smarter than a Promil baby by now.)

Btw, I would add to that 10 books list Focault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco, the only novel of this author I didn't care for. I actually flung the book away after finishing it. I wanted to read it primarily because I have always been interested in the Knights Templar, Rosicrusians, etc. (I didn't care much for Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code though which I thought was mediocre excuse for a novel. I can't even finish that horrible film starring Tom Hanks! Ick.)

Like many others, I bought a copy of the Focault's Pendulum after having enjoyed Eco's The Name of the Rose, a whodunit set in a monastery in the 14th century. I had just graduated from college I think but the quantum physics-like equations in the beginning stumped me. So I decided not to force the issue and just put back the book on my shelf.

I picked up the book again about five years ago, thinking I had more patience to wade through the quantum mechanics or whatever mathematical equations therein. And I wanted to challenge myself that I could finish reading it. And I did. But I thought the plot in Focault's Pendulum was just way too slow. Plodding grabeh. After wading through all the semiotics, the history, and the rich background, then reading an ending like that, I wanted to tear my hair out. Na-information overload na ako, naburat pa ako sa ending. Leche.

But then I'm just a sucker for pain. I think I might pick up the book again next year just to see if I feel any differently about it.

September 22, 2008

Ah Ludwig, you were right

“There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion.”

- Ludwig von Mises
(1881 – 1973)
Austrian Economist, philosopher and a major influence on the modern libertarian movement

I guess that says it all about the U.S. economy, ey? Dontcha worry my fellow Pinoys, the remittances of our parientes abroad will save our economy yet.

Good morning pow.

September 21, 2008

Hello there sweetie!

MY friend and editor Gerard and his partner Ryan are now the proud parents of Mary Elizabeth Soliven Cruz, nicknamed Meryl. I soooo loved touching and talking to this cute bundle of joy who was just christened over the weekend. This three-month-old is so gorgeous and smart, she listens intently when people are talking to her. I think she is an old soul, and will have a lot of things to teach her parents.

Congratulations to Gerard and Ryan for taking this huge step in their relationship. I wish them well and am looking forward to all the antics of little Meryl as she grows up. Tita Stella will have a thing or two to teach her as well...hala.

September 19, 2008

Mailbag: Pink Kitchen II

THIS event is for a good cause. May I call on all my chef friends, cooks (amateurs and professionals), restaurateurs, and fellow foodies to please support this.

Over the weekend of October 18 and 19th, 2008, one of Manila’s most anticipated food festivals–Pink Kitchen II—will again open its doors.

As Beth Romualdez, chairman of Pink Kitchen and an eminent chef in her own right, says, “The yummiest event of the year is back! Pink Kitchen II is a celebration that brings together cuisine from many parts of the world for people from all walks of life.”

Now in its second year running, Pink Kitchen will bring together over 50 chefs who are celebrated for their culinary expertise but most of whom do not have commercial establishments open to the general public. Pink Kitchen II will provide a once-in-a-year opportunity to indulge in these chefs’ elusive delicacies in a relaxed and festive atmosphere, brought together under one roof in the Rockwell Tent.

Pink Kitchen showcases cuisine from all parts of the globe including both traditional and innovative interpretations of favorite Filipino dishes. This year’s international selection takes us around the world and includes French, Italian, Spanish, Middle Eastern, Indian, Burmese, Japanese, Thai, Indonesian and Singaporean specialties. Diners, grazers, foodies and strollers will be spoilt for choice. There will also be a broad selection of cakes, pastries, baked goods and amazing confectionery to satisfy even the most demanding of sweet teeth. Wine enthusiasts will be able to browse through the selections of several of the country’s leading wine merchants. Via Reyes, Pink Kitchen’s head of project management, says, “Pink Kitchen is an event not to miss. Manila’s finest chefs are in the house and they will rock your taste buds!”

Last year, at its premiere outing, Pink Kitchen attracted over 6000 visitors. This year, the organizers are hoping that even more guests will attend. In addition to the central event of food and wine, Pink Kitchen II has organized talks and activities for the entertainment and education of its visitors. These include a Kids Cooking Demo by Mel Francisco; demos on Cake Decorating by Penk Ching and Healthy Cooking by Rob Pengson; a talk on Looking Good, Feeling Better by Adora and on Coffee by Robert Francisco; as well as a Wine Appreciation class conducted by Ines Cabarrus of Enderun Colleges, one of the country’s top hospitality management schools.

“Last year’s Pink Kitchen had something for each and everyone’s taste,” Elizabeth Virata, marketing and sponsorship head for Pink Kitchen says. “ It was exhilarating to see people of all ages, sizes, occupations and even political affiliations enjoying themselves. After all, who doesn’t like good food? And to have all these chefs’ food specialties under one roof to pick and choose from! So many guests came back two or three times and walked out with take-out bags of food. This year’s Pink Kitchen will be even better!”

All ticket sales for Pink Kitchen II will benefit ICanServe’s flagship project, “Ating Dibdibin,” the Philippines’ first community-based breast cancer screening program under the guidance of the American Cancer Society. ICanServe is a non-stock, non-profit foundation and advocacy group founded in 1999 to empower women with breast cancer information, treatment and hope. It also provides access to special services that will help breast cancer survivors recover and heal more effectively.

Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala, founding president of ICanServe, says, “Everyone comes out a winner in Pink Kitchen. We celebrate the Filipino culinary geniuses. The rest of us, not as gifted in the culinary department, delight, devour and drink to life! As we all do what we do best, we support a very worthy cause.” ICanServe treasurer Bettina Osmena adds, “We are here to celebrate life and all its blessings. This is a perfect venue for us to share our good fortune and to pay it forward. Eat, drink and enjoy!”

Tickets for Pink Kitchen II are P200 for adults and P100 for children. They will be available at the entrance of Rockwell Tent on October 18 and 19, and can also be purchased from volunteers by calling the ICanServe hotline, 687 3942.

Pink Kitchen II’s team includes Bettina Osmena, chairman of ICanServe’s fund-raising committee; Beth Romualdez, project chairman, Elizabeth Virata, marketing and sponsorship head; Via Reyes, head of project management; Ina Vergel de Dios, logistics; Ria Romero, entertainment and marketing; Alice Orleans, ICanServe executive director; and Margie Jorillo, volunteer manager. Event styling is by Joseph Claraval.

For inquiries and comments please contact:

Via R. Reyes 0929 848 2918
Or visit

* * * *

A note from my friend Carla Paras-Sison, herself a cancer survivor, on how to get your tickets:
Dear friends,

ICanServe Foundation brings back the culinary event of the year, Pink Kitchen 2. The entrance donation of P200 (or P100 for children below 12 years old) per person directly goes to ICanServe projects that raise breast care awareness and subsidize the medical treatment of breast cancer patients. Food sales (from 49 chefs/cuisines) go directly to the chefs. We are not charging them concessionaire fee or space rental for their booths. Some of them donated a portion of their sales to ICanServe last year but that is really not required.

Please see complete list of chefs/cuisines at: Pink Kitchen 2

For ticket orders, we have pick-up points in Pasig (care of Carla Sison, 0920 903 5053), Quezon City (care of Lian Chua, 0917 828 5426), Makati (care of Margie Jorillo, 0917 830 4562) and Mandaluyong (care of Lanie Eusebio, 0920 922 2827). Delivery may be arranged on a case-to-case basis.



Carla Paras-Sison
+632 449 2467
+63920 903 5053

See you there.

September 18, 2008

Guess who's going to the States after all?

SO the Presidentita has decided to go to New York after all to speak before the United Nations General Assembly. Sure you can argue your eyeballs out why it's an important forum and all, but that's why we have Ambassadors, a Foreign Secretary, and other Cabinet Secretaries or diplomats to make the Philippines' case be heard. That's their job. Now that the global financial system is being shaken to its knees, I think it's more important that the Presidentita stay here to give an image of calm and stability to us Filipinos, dontcha think?

My bet is she's having a heart-to-heart with former AIG chair Hank Greenberg to consult him what to do w/ her own personal investments after the financial bloodbath in New York. Greenberg, as you all know, is an "adviser" to the Presidentita, supposedly to guide her administration on its economic policies. Kuno.

And of course, there is that sale at Barneys. (Well, hell yeah, the Christian Loubotins are down to $300!)

Stay calm

IN case you guys are still shaking your heads, trying to figure out what all the fuss is about, yes we are now caught up in a global financial flummox because of the interconnectedness of the world today. No doubt, we here in da Pinas will be affected, but we can only cross our fingers that our banks are strong enough to withstand the shocks.

As a depositor, I am staying put. I am keeping my money in our banks and praying that they have not been "irrationally exuberant" in their credit transactions and investments. No sense in withdrawing our monies and stashing 'em in Switzerland (or worse, in your piggy banks at home) because it will just add pressure on the banks, and exacerbate the delicate situation they are in.

I have friends who are already feeling the hit because the value of their investments in mutual funds and UITFs (unit investment trust funds) have dropped dramatically. I have advised them to stay with those funds because right now, all their losses are on paper. Unless they decide to liquidate their investments, of course. Just breathe and hang on to the belief that those investments are gonna stabilize and move up as soon as the financial world settles down. (As I have been saying since last year, stick w/ the safer deposit instruments like time deposits and 5-years tax-free accounts.)

I am pinning my hopes on the pronouncements of Bangko Sentral Gov. Amado Tetangco Jr. that the Philippine financial system is healthy.

And so read on:

Why AIG matters
or why the Fed decided not to let the insurance company fail like Lehman Brothers

WASHINGTON—After World War II, a far-flung insurance company in China run by an American businessman took a risky bet insuring that about 20 boats filled with Americans would make it back to the United States.

From those distant beginnings grew American International Group (AIG), which became one of the biggest insurance companies in the world, under the leadership of Maurice “Hank” Greenberg.

With more than $1 trillion in assets, AIG is bigger than Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers or the former Bear Stearns.

AIG’s subsidiaries sell life, auto, property, workers’ compensation, kidnapping and ransom and many other types of insurance. The company offers retirement plans such as annuities. Its financial markets subsidiary services include investment banks, pension funds, governments and other institutional investors, and AIG manages portfolios of stocks, bonds and real estate. The company is the nation’s largest leaser of aircraft.

Among the activities it ventured into: buying mortgage-related securities and offering other firms an exotic type of insurance to cover losses from investments tied to mortgages.

That proved to be a problem. (Click here for the rest.)

BTW, do you know AIG's corporate slogan? Tic, toc, tic, toc...sirit na? "The strength to be there." (araykow!)
* * * *

Also check out the editorial of BusinessMirror today: (As Michael Douglas' character Gordon Gekko in the 1987 film Wall Street said: "It's all about the bucks, kid. The rest is conversation." Indeed.)

Tale as old as time

BY this time, the breathtakingly simple way—“hubris and greed at work”—by which this week’s disaster on Wall Street has been dismissed is now a tune long worn.

And yet, as simple as it may seem, it forms the thread within each of the key lessons that may be derived, as some form of morbid consolation, from this crisis.

What is one to make of a spectacle where no less than the titans of New York’s financial empire are falling by the wayside, their pedigree notwithstanding: investment bank Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., Merrill Lynch, and now, the insurance giant AIG or American International Group? The full stories behind their debacles won’t be told yet as details keep unfolding while the markets swoon. But from the broad sketches of what went on, it is clear that the crisis combines the timeless tale of human folly, the failures of regulators and a system that brought so much wealth to millions around the world but is now its own worst enemy. (Click here for the rest.)

And now I leave you with these thoughts from the master of greed himself, Gordon Gekko:

(Note: Photo of AIG building is from the cover of its 2007 annual report available on its web site .)

September 16, 2008

Survey na wala lang

BBC survey suggests Pinoys prefer Obama over McCain
09/16/2008 | 07:49 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Barack Obama will win the presidency if he is running in the Philippines, or in 21 other countries, results of a poll recently conducted by BBC World Service suggest.

The September 9 poll, done by BBC with Makati City-based firm M&S-Sigma Dos Philippines, Inc, showed that 46 percent of the Filipino adult respondents in the National Capital Region “would favor Barack Obama as president of the US." Only 22 percent of the respondents would pick John McCain.

Almost four of 10 Filipinos or 39 percent of the respondents “believe America’s relations with the rest of the world would improve if Obama were to be elected." Seventeen percent believe US relations with the world won’t change under an Obama presidency, while six percent of Filipinos “say they would worsen." (Click here for the rest.)

UNFORTUNATELY, we can't vote in the U.S. elections in November, unlike Filipino immigrants, most of whom are apparently swinging towards a McCain presidency. I've spoken with a number of older generation Fil-Ams who don't like Obama primarily because "he's black", he's "a Muslim" daw because his middle name is Hussein, and because he didn't pick Sen. Hillary Clinton as his running mate. Ahhh, e, i, o, u.

Wedding pics!

DONTCHA love weddings? While I sometimes sound jaded about love and all that crap, I still believe if it's meant to be, we will all find that special someone (ang baduy shet!) for each of us. It may not necessarily be a spouse but maybe really good friends or soulmates, who just add zing to your already wonderful lives.

My gal pal Mar-Vic, a former colleague here in Manila, recently got hitched in Guam with the love of her life Jason. And I am so happy and excited for her! She has allowed me to post her wedding photos to share the good news to all.

Clap for Mr. and Mrs. Palmertree people!

September 15, 2008

Peace through the Global Mala Project

I am a serious yoga....backslider (hehe). I try to practice at least twice a week, but you know how it is, the work just keeps piling up. And I miss my teachers like Liz Dyogi, Mo-ching Yip, Prakash Bisht...who either have classes that are too early for my consciousness (like Liz), or far away (as in the case of Mo), or who have moved, like Prakash.

These days, the yoga class I usually attend because it's schedule-friendly for me is a 1 PM Friday gentle flow yoga class at a gym nearby. The teacher is okay; it's just that the class can be annoying because some members just can't remember to switch off their cellphones...hay. So if you can imagine relaxing in your savasana (corpse pose, lying on your back) and winding down after an hour's challenging poses, then a cellphone rings, breaking your peace and meditative state! Waaah! But I think I'm better now at doing a chaturanga (it's like a men's push-up) than a year I suppose the once-a-week class works kahit paano.

Anyway, I got this interesting announcement from the mail. Sounds cool. I think I may join it.

According to the project web site, "the purpose of the Global Mala is to unite the global yoga community from every continent, school or approach to form a 'mala around the earth' through collective practices based upon the sacred cycle of 108 on Sept. 21st and 22nd, Fall Equinox as the yoga world's offering to further the UN International Peace Day." A "mala" is sacred prayer beads used in India and Tibet as "meditative guides."

One of the featured yoga instructors on Saturday is Linda Naulty (see schedule below) whom I met in Boracay before. We were classmates at Mandala Spa's three-day yoga retreat w/c Mo-ching taught. Of course Linda was so many lifetimes ahead of the rest of us losers in that class hehe. But what is interesting also about Linda is she does reiki healing, and I had a very short test session w/ her then. But I swear it got rid of a lot of negative vibes I had about certain people.

Anyhoo, to know more about the Global Mala Project, click here


2289 UPRC III Building, Pasong Tamo Ext., Makati (next to chrysler showroom, follow the driveway to the back of the building) tel: 0917-84-PULSE (78573) ---please RSVP to reserve space.

SUGGESTED DONATION FEE: PHP 1,000 ( whole day admission)

Day Flow:

9:00am Opening Ceremony/ Welcome greetings

9:30am-10:30am 108 Rounds of Gayatri Mantra

10:00am-12:00nn 108 Rounds of Namaskars

12-1 pm L U N C H

*there will be simultaneous sessions going on all afternoon

1:15pm-2:00pm Lecture: Beyond the Seven Chakras with Jeannie Javelosa (Yoga Manila)

2:00pm-3:30pm Drumming Workshop with Inky de Dios (Bateria Brigada)

2:30pm-3:30pm Gentle Yoga with Linda Naulty (Yoga Manila)

3:30pm-4:30pm Inner dance workshop with Lisette (Inner Dance Manila)

4:00pm-5:00pm Intro to Ashtanga with Tessa Celdran (Pulse Yoga)

4:30pm- 5:30pm Bikram Yoga with Pye Trinidad

5:00pm-6:00pm Kirtan with Punnu & Sing India ( Punnu, CJ Vasu & Babaji)

6pm-7pm D I N N E R

7:30PM-8:30pm Yoga Trance Dance with Teresa Herrera

8:30pm-9:00pm CLOSING CEREMONY


Can women have it all?

Something Like Life
Sept. 12, 2008

I HAVE tackled this question once before but, recently, the issue has come up again with the nomination of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as the Republican Party’s vice presidential bet. No doubt, this was a wise move on the part of the party’s presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, taking a cue from Sen. Hillary Clinton’s earlier presidential push which garnered a groundswell of support from many women voters.

Let me say here and now that except for Palin’s $375-Kazuo Kawasaki rimless titanium eyeglasses, which really look fabulous that I need to get me some, I don’t like her much. Her politics are muddy (e.g. pro-ban of certain books, anti-abortion, anti-gays, influence-peddling, just to name a few), and I think she’s ill-prepared to take over as US president in case, heaven forbid, McCain is incapacitated for some reason. Sure, Alaska may be just a Bering Strait away from Russia, but it appears it's the only foreign diplomatic issue Palin may be familiar with. How confident would Americans be with Palin seated across the Hamas and Israelis instead?

Her politics notwithstanding, the question is whether Palin can be an effective VP and help McCain run the most powerful nation on earth, while nursing a four-month-old baby with Down’s Syndrome and assisting her daughter Bristol in caring for an infant soon to be born. “Just how many diapers can a woman change at the same time?” as Jimmy Kimmel asks (ha-ha). In other words, can a woman really do everything? Can we have it all?

Patricia “Diday” Zamora-Riingen is the epitome of many Filipina executives of this day and age—she is young, smart, career-oriented, married and with kids.

Riingen is the head of Western Union here, and also oversees the Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia branches. Her job requires her to be frequently out of the country for meetings with her counterparts or her bosses. Not only that, Diday also manages Dome Café, the Zamora family’s restaurant. (Diday is the daughter of former banker and political power broker Manny Zamora.)

She is married to Leo Riingen, president and CEO of Informatics Holdings Philippines, and last year’s president of the Camera Club of the Philippines. They met at Procter & Gamble when they were both just starting in their careers. Now they have three kids ranging in age from nine to 15 years old.

As Diday herself tells it, she is able to accomplish a lot in her career and her family life because she has a great support system. “Well, my husband runs his own business so he has a more flexible time....And my support in the house [i.e. househelp] have been with me for a very long time.” Leo, she said, is on-hand to attend the Parents-Teachers’ Association meetings and bring their kids to the doctor for their medical checkups, among other responsibilities that are traditionally ascribed to women.

But on weekends, Diday says, she is focused on her family 100-percent. She switches off her work phone, cooks breakfast for her kids and Sunday dinners, lunches with her mother and accomplishes the other domestic errands like doing the grocery. “I do the grocery. Leo has no patience for it.”

(Tish Leizens, editor-in-chief, Our House)

Another example of a female go-getter is Tish Leizens (neé Perez), a former colleague here in Manila who has written for a Conde Naste trade publication. She is married to Ed Leizens, the security manager of the New York Science, Industry and Research Library, who is supportive of her career. “He always believed I had the potential to make more money than him. He is okay with that because he is very comfortable about who he is. None of that Filipino macho crap.”

Together they publish an interiors magazine, Our House", which Tish edits and, in a way, is their baby as they are currently childless (but still working at it!). Tish says that since she left Conde Naste to publish her magazine, she is now relying on Ed’s paycheck.

She is quick to assert that “women can have it all”—but also qualifies it by asking, “Can you balance everything?” Especially for women in the US, this is not so easy. They don’t normally have the housework support we Filpinos are accustomed to. So she advises married women with children who want to pursue their career to “go ahead and get a nanny, or maybe your husband can be the nanny. Nothing wrong with that. You’ll be surprised that some men might not want to work and would be happy playing with the kids.” (According to the US Census Bureau, there were about 170,000 stay-at-home fathers in 2007, three times higher than what it was 10 years ago.)

So Tish thinks that women can set out to do whatever they want to do, but they must set their priorities. “Be clear on what you want and just go get it.”

Granted that American women may be more adept at multi-tasking, having been brought up without nannies and the household help unlike most of us here in the Philippines; that doesn’t mean they’re having a ball right now balancing career and a family life.

The same is true here at home. Filipino women have been easing their way into the corporate boardroom for a long time, but many find it tough to still hold on to their traditional roles of mothers and domestic engineers.

Fortunately, there is a growing number of Filipino men—especially among the younger generation who have grown up under a two-parent work/home setup—who understand the difficulties their mothers, sisters or wives struggle with on the home front, and are willing to share the domestic duties, as well. I have many girlfriends whose husbands get home before them and already have the night’s dinner on the table. No canned foods, mind you, but fresh, hot and made from scratch.

Can a woman have it all? Yes, she can—as long as she has the proper support system around her to make a go of things. Let’s not kid ourselves. If we try to do everything ourselves, we will be either physically dead before we’re 50, or end up in the basement of a major hospital or, worse, be addicted to happy pills just to numb the physical or emotional stress. That said, men can’t do everything themselves, either.

The trick is to find the right man who will help you achieve your career goals and be around to assist you at home. And my cynicism notwithstanding, I am happy to report that a number of my gal pals have found such husbands, so they do exist. (Yes, the strong sensitive Filipino male has finally arrived!) And, of course, find a great housekeeper. Between you and me, though, it may be more of a challenge to find the latter.

(My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday in the Life section of the BusinessMirror. Photos from BusinessMirror and Tish Leizens.)

September 12, 2008

9/ years after

WHERE were you when two planes struck the World Trade Center in New York City in 2001?

I was in the office, at Manila Standard, past 9 pm, advancing a special page so I wouldn't have to rush about the next day trying to beat the paper's deadline for the page to go to the printers. As is the usual in most newspaper offices, the TV was switched on, and stuck on CNN.

While buried nose deep in the stories I was editing, I heard a commotion in front of the TV set with most of our late-night staff chattering loudly about. "Ma'am me nag-crash na eroplano sa World Trade Center (Ma'am an airplane crashed into the World Trade Center)," was the response of one of the staff, when I asked what was happening.

So I approached the group and watched as black smoke was spiralling from one of the Twin Towers, a familiar landmark in New York. (It annoyed me some months after that when I had visited New York, I didn't even bother to tour the World Trade Center, as I wasn't much of a fan of skyscrapers really. I was more engrossed in the museums, Barnes & Noble, and watching plays on Broadway.)

Then CNN replayed the video of what looked like small plane crashing into one of the Twin Towers. I swear, my nape and arms got all clammy as a single thought popped into my head, "terrorists." I don't know what it was that made me immediately think it, because there have been accidents in the past of small-seater planes crashing into buildings. But maybe because it was New York City, and it was a beautiful sunny day, with the grey-colored Twin Towers standing tall in contrast against the azure sky. It could have been just another lovely day in the city, but cynic that I am, I just knew it couldn't be that perfect.

Soon after, as I continued monitoring CNN, another plane crashed into the other building. It looked like a jet. My hairs just stood on end, as I watched in horror like the other staff. This was real. It confirmed my notion that this was a terrorist attack. I immediately conferred with our night editor to remat the front page of next day's paper. Then our publisher and editor-in-chief came rushing in a few minutes after to oversee the paper's revision. It was back to business for us. As the night wore on, news about similar plane crashes came in, one in Pennsylvania, another at the Pentagon. We gathered all the wire stories and photos on the crashes. It was going to be a long night for us at the office.

When I finally got home, still fully wired from what had just happened, I switched on the TV set and tuned in to CNN. I just sat on my bed, transfixed at the images of the buildings, billowing smoke, and people falling out the windows. Not long after, the Twin Towers just collapsed like a house of cards. And I just sobbed in frustration, anger, and sadness. I prayed for those who died from the attacks, and beseeched the Lord's protection on those of us still living.

Seven years after, as I look back at the photos and watch the special news reports reflecting on that dreadful day, there is still a catch in my throat. More than 2,900 people died that day, most of the victims' bodies were never found. These tragedies may not have happened here in the Philippines, but we have all been affected by those terrorist acts. Our lives, habits, and customs changed almost instantly after that fateful day. We are reminded of 9/11 every time we go to the mall, ride the rail, or travel by plane, arrive in another foreign land.

Despite the heightened security during these dangerous times we're in, we are still here, soldiering on, and moving forward. That takes courage. And I am thankful that despite 9/11, we have not lost our nerve for living.

September 09, 2008

A word from the father of Bristol Palin's baby

THIS is all over the Internet. Of course, I doubt he is the father of Bristol Palin's baby. But this kid is effing brilliant. The sarcasm just cuts to the core.

BTW, you just have to watch the interview of Barack Obama by Bill O'Reilly posted on YouTube (parts 1 and 2 for now). The exchange is lively, but Obama just runs circles around O'Reilly, by staying very even and cool. (I've always thought O'Reilly a hoot, and used to watch him back in the day when we had FoxNews on cable. But he is really isn't someone you should take seriously.) The Democratic presidential candidate has a few laughs at the expense of the latter as well. Cute.

Soooo inggit!

MAY I just say right now that I had a ticket to the George Benson and Al Jarreau concert last night c/o Pangs. I am a super fan of Al Jarreau (if you hear him sing "Spain", you will never have any other favorite singer...grabeh ang galeng!), and I was desperate until last Friday for some tickets. Benson was the epitome of the cool jazz guitarist in his younger days, but became more famous as an R&B singer with hits like "This Masquerade", which won him a Grammy. (Earl Klugh nasan ka na?)

Trouble was, I had already agreed to go to the Plains and Prints event at the Edsa Shangri-La Mall which was held at the same time as the concert, just as the rain was pouring in torrents. I didn't think we'd get the tickets so I asked my other friends Ms. RP and Sis to get together for the fashion show at P&P where Rajo Laurel's designs would be featured. (Sorry, I was late so no pics.) So when Pangs called, I had no choice but to let my ticket go. Grrr.

And now I'm so super inggit because Chuvaness not only enjoyed the concert but bumped into Adel Tamano as well! Waaaah! Yeah ghelfrens, if I knew Adel was gonna be at the concert I would drop youse like a hot potato. Hehe, joke. Hindi naman. Pero I've had this guy on my radar (my ate is also a big fan of his...get well soon Gina!) even before he started speaking in public, and oh my, he is the quintessential mabango-looking guy that gheys often fantasize about. Sorry Ace, taob ka ni Adel. Hottie alert! (Question: Doesn't it make you feel a tad ancient when all your crushes are now younger than you? Tsk, tsk.)

Anyhoo here's Adel's photo which I "stole" from Chuvaness' blog to comfort me. Thanks Cecile. (Geez, now I know why I needed to scarf down that Skolatina from Cyma last night!)

And yeah, I agree, 80's music was sooo just gave us the best themes to our often drama-filled parang-pelikula lives in our youth. But boy weren't those days fun?

Hmm...I wonder if Adel's gonna watch the Petula Clark concert? "When you're alone and life is making you lonely you can always go - downtown..."

X'mas shopping at the Rockwell Tent

From the mail....

Rockwell Power Plant mall is spreading holiday cheer early this year with a fabulous shopping event that’s both rewarding and hassle-free this September 12, 13 & 14 at the Rockwell Tent, the first in a four part holiday bazaar series.

Rockwell’s Urban Bazaar Holiday Series offers nothing but the best and latest gift trends – With over 80 booths, each filled with unique fashion finds, accessories, knick-knacks and more, you’ll surely never run out of gift ideas!

Discover unique and classy handmade pieces made of crystals and semi-precious stones with meticulous craftsmanship, ranging from bracelets and necklaces to bag accessories and special home décor by Chroma Disegno.

Celebrate the DIY spirit with POPJUNKLOVE’s handmade tee-embellishments and shirt-pins; handmade guitar straps from scrap, crochet dolls and coffee cozies from CherryPopShop.

Compartmentalize, categorize and organize with The Organizer’s & VM Storage Experts’ one-of-a-kind travel kits, organizers, shoe bags – one of the most practical and widely appreciated gift item.

Snag a treat for that special someone or satisfy yourselves with fabulously fierce high-heeled footwear from Solano Collection or catchy colored summer flats from Sole Shoes.

Come across Repartee, a 100% distinctively Filipino brand that carries a line of tee shirts for both men and women with special sense of humor, outstanding quality of design, fabric and print.

Rockwell’s Urban Bazaar will showcase not only exceptional and unique items as perfect presents but yummy goodies and treats too! Savor an exciting and delectable treat of fresh frozen fruits blended with frozen yogurt with Yoh-gurt Froz or grab quick bites of authentic Japanese seafood balls at Nashojiro – Takoyaki.

The event boasts of more fun and surprises for the whole family. Prepare to be entertained with a special performance by The Assumption Dance Company (TADC). Hourly raffle draws with exciting prizes from the participants themselves await!

Rush to the Rockwell Tent and do your early Christmas shopping to avoid the usual Christmas rush! The Urban Bazaar Holiday Series is scheduled on September 12-14, October 24-25, November 28-30 & December 12-14.

For more information, please call 8981702 or log on to

September 08, 2008

Palin eyeframes by Kawasaki

SO I've been going on and on about how I just luuurv those eyeglasses of Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin. I don't necessarily agree with her politics but my, my, this woman has apparently created a fashion trend in the U.S. because now, every American woman — Democrat or Republican — wants Palin's eyeframes.

Well, it turns out, those rimless titanium specs were made by industrial designer Kazuo Kawasaki and cost about $375 (roughly P17,250) for the frame alone. (Oof! even the rimless Roberto Cavalli frame I had been coveting from an online optical shop only a few months ago cost only $290.) Sigh...the price one must pay for great fashion. BTW, Palin's frames are from the Kawasaki 704 series which have really cool choices for its temples.

(Sarah Palin's eyeglass frames by Kazuo Kawasaki from the 704 series. Photo from Vision Glasses)

Check out this feature from ABC News' Good Morning America. They're calling Palin's eyewear "the new pantsuit."
* * * *

NOW, this is interview with five of Sarah Palin's closest pals. Only one of them has categorically stated that she is voting for the Alaska governor as Vice President.

September 07, 2008

Losing your job isn't the end of the world

OVER the last few months, a number of my friends have lost their jobs, through no fault of their own. For some, their respective companies just decided to merge with other companies, and many employees were rendered redundant. For other friends, legal issues prevented their company’s principal from pursuing its investment in the country.

Whatever the reason for being cut from one’s job, the work prospects for anyone over 35 years old can be daunting, especially these days when they have to compete with a burgeoning young labor force that is faster, healthier, cheaper and more willing to multitask. Of course they may not necessarily be better than my generation of 40-year-olds, but we all know that during economic crunches prospective employers will always go for the cheap rather than the quality. In some instances, those who have worked far longer, and are armed with a more power-packed résumé, will find themselves being told that they are “overqualified.”

Before you even finally walk out of the company’s door one last time, first make sure you are given a severance package. Make your company’s human-resource department compute for every workday you were not absent, and for every credit (sick, vacation, birthday, holiday) not taken, and for every year worked. Also, make sure you secure a letter of referral preferably from the company chief speaking glowingly of your accomplishments and your work performance. (Click here for the rest.)

September 05, 2008

Stand up and fight!

Fight! Fight! Fight! Celine L. 'kaw ba yan?

Okay, okay, I'm just teasing, hehe.

But I was almost on my feet today after watching Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain's speech at the Republic National Convention, when he plead to the party delegates to stand up and fight. For sure McCain doesn't make the grade in public speaking unlike Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama; I think he overpracticed his speech. Still McCain was convincing in his arguments on why he should be President. I, of course, fell for his moving life story, of him being imprisoned in Hanoi Hilton, of breaking under torture from his captors, and of the impact it has made in his life.

I think McCain is sincere in wanting to improve the Republican Party by returning it to its progressive roots. (Abe Lincoln who freed the African slaves was a Republican btw.) He knows there is no other way to go if the party is to convince the American public that it is for the people and not just for the elite few. (The changes are being slowly instituted, firstly by not having President George Bush speak in person. The party is quite aware he is not popular and didn't want his presence to take away from the positivity that McCain is supposed to inspire.)

McCain spoke particularly to the swing voters, those who are still undecided because they think McCain is too old, while Obama is inexperienced. I think his speech today may have convinced some of them to vote for him, not only because of his life story, but because he had a more detailed platform for the economy than Obama had earlier presented at the DNC. And I have no doubt that he has a better grasp at foreign diplomacy than his VP Sarah Palin.

I always liked McCain, primarily because he is funny. I've watched him appear on several TV shows – Oprah, SNL, Ellen... the man is witty and has a self-deprecating humor. It may not count for much but I think a good leader must know not to take himself so seriously, and delude himself into thinking that he is God's gift to humanity. (Presidentita take note.) McCain amuses, Palin just condescends.

I just wish he didn't crib from the Democrats' main theme of change. In his speech, McCain said: "Change is coming", "We're going to change Washington" etc., also, "stand up and fight" which was vintage Al Gore, DNC presidential candidate in 2000, if I remember correctly. And yes, sana he chose a different VP.

Needless to say, McCain is a lot more intelligent, is better-read, and more traveled than Bush. He is certainly no buffoon. So if McCain does get elected as U.S. President in November, I think he will be able to turn the U.S. government around and rebuild it from the shambles that Bush has left it. Well, sana nga.

* * * *

But let's not delude ourselves that with a Republican win, the Philippines will likely receive more aid from the U.S. government, as some misinformed quarters suggest. The Philippines has not been on the list of foreign aid priorities of any donor country for the longest time. The fact of the matter is, we are no longer of any use for the Americans since their bases were removed from the country. Also, the Philippines is considered a more developed and stable economy — albeit with hiccups — compared to say, the African nations, which the U.S. government has prioritized in terms of official development assistance. (We mostly get second-hand Huey helicopters for our military forces, ngek.)

For fiscal year 2007, the Philippines was allocated a budget of $70 million by the US Agency for International Development. In FY 2006, it was $73.6 million. For FY 2008, the country will likely receive only $66 million. In contrast, U.S. development assistance to sub-Saharan Africa rose from $1.5 billion in 1996 to $6.6 billion in 2006. So clearly, those are the priorities of the U.S. government and will not likely change even if a Republican or Democrat wins the U.S. presidential elections.

Anyway, let's see how the campaign goes. Stay tuned for the first presidential debate on Sept. 26.
* * * *

The conventions now over, it's back to local issues for us: Inflation at 12.5%... gasp! Miriam won't seek presidency...thank you Lord!

September 04, 2008

Fertilizer scam all over again? (Conclusion)

Here's the conclusion on the Quedancor anomaly written by the VERA Files. (Review Part 1 here.)

IN a book titled Quedancor: The Country’s Premier Credit and Guarantee Company, Quedancor executives wrote that the URP “precipitated” what would later be touted as an innovative no-collateral lending scheme for microborrowers: The Self-Reliant Team (SRT) Model. In fact, Nelson Buenaflor (veteran agriculture bureaucrat) likes to be called the “Father of the SRT.”

An SRT consists of three to 15 members who live in the same barangay, have the same project and act as coguarantors. The SRT issues postdated checks to Quedancor (or the Quedan and Rural Credit Guarantee Corp.) as payment for a three-year loan of up to P50,000 for a production project and P20,000 for a livelihood project.

The projects range from grains and high-value crops, to fisheries, livestock and poultry, and other commodities, including swine-raising and the URP. A production loan bears a yearly interest of 14 percent and working capital loan, a monthly 2 percent. (Read the rest here. Illustration by BusinessMirror)

Sarah who at the RNC

THIS woman pulled no stops. Just as Republican presidential candidate is using her to appeal to the female voters, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential candidate, used her son in the U.S. military who would be leaving for Iraq next week, her daughter who has special needs, her 17-year-old pregnant daughter, and her husband a "champion snow machine racer", to appeal to a disparate range of American voters. The Republicans are trying to sell her by highlighting her "orindariness"; that her life story is the same story of every American.

But Palin isn't exactly your average hockey mom. She is a governor so she has a job and doesn't stay at home 24/7. She doesn't have to run all over town picking up her kids from school or from soccer practice. She has help to do that for her.

On her young pregnant daughter Bristol alone, Palin is so far off from the ordinary American family who have to make tough decisions about a similar domestic situation. Of course she can afford for her daughter to go through with the pregnancy; the family is privileged enough to allow her daughter to go on to university after her pregnancy, unlike the thousands of other pregnant teenagers, who face no other choice but to drop out from school and work immediately after giving birth. (Do I hear Murphy Brown cackling in the background?) There are so many ways she and her family are different from the average American family that I think the will be able to discern these come November.

As an attack dog, she did her job well in tearing down Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. She was witty enough in pointing out that her job as a small town mayor is "like a community organizer only with real responsibilities." She had enough sarcasm to put David Letterman, Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, Sarah Silverman, Jon Stewart and the entire SNL cast out of their jobs. But let's just make it clear that Palin is actually going head to head with Sen. Joe Biden, a distinguished and well respected member and leader in the U.S. Congress, the Democratic VP candidate who has a string of major legislative accomplishments, and not Obama.

And as a woman, I don't appreciate her trying to pander to the disenfranchised female American voters with her supposed real life soccer mom story. It's just insulting. She never once even mentioned how she was going to address the Middle East conflict (and we all know part of the VP's job is to travel abroad and deal in diplomacies across the globe), nor did she have any real plan about the environment except to echo McCain's desire for alternative fuel sources but she is an advocate of drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge btw.

She mentioned about how Obama was so worried about reading the rights of the Al Qaeda terrorists, but she fails to mention of course the Republican administration's failure to actually go after Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. So sure, Palin's a pretty mom with a small town experience as an administrator, but can she sit across the table from the Israelis and its Middle East neighbors to talk peace?
* * * *

Many wonder why am I so engrossed in the U.S. elections? Whoever wins in November will impact on our country. Any policy that the U.S. government implements will likely be the direction our own government will mimic. The entire globe is watching the U.S. presidential elections because all our economies are intricately linked with the U.S. economy. We need a strong U.S. economy to boost our own economy...the Americans are still our major buyers, and we need their money. It's a simple as that.


Pichay is now ‘official water boy of the republic’

By Michael Lim Ubac
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:29:00 09/03/2008

MANILA, Philippines—He just couldn’t say no to the President.

After initially saying that he was not interested, ex-congressman Prospero Pichay has accepted the post of acting chair of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA).

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita on Wednesday announced that Pichay had been appointed to the LWUA board and that there was a desire letter from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for the board to elect Pichay as the acting chair. (Click here for the rest. Photo from

* * * *

WELL, I did see the "water boy", the former Surigao del Sur congressman, having lunch yesterday at Cibo Shangri-La Mall with his pechay, este, significant other Carla Lopez, and he still didn't look too happy, despite his striking yellow shirt. It must have been really tough gnawing through that panini with that new job practically shoved down his throat by the presidentita. Tsk, tsk.

Btw, do you know the Malacañang Press Corps' nickname for the presidentita? They call her Lili. Give you three guesses why. Tic toc, tic toc...

48 hours in Bohol

AS a tourist destination, no doubt Bohol’s numbers still compare poorly with, say, Boracay, Cebu or even Baguio. All that was known really of Bohol for the longest time were the Chocolate Hills, and, lately, those cute tarsiers endemic to the island.

But there are subtle signs that foreigners and locals alike are discovering the pleasures that can be offered by Bohol. From only one or two major hotels or resorts a decade ago, the island, which is the 10th largest in the Philippines, now plays host to more than 20 tourist establishments. Some of these are even partly owned by foreigners who have fallen in love not only with island beauties but with the beauty of the island as well. The hotels are located not only in Tagbilaran City, the capital of Bohol, but in Panglao Island, Pamilican Island, Alona Beach, etc.

Aside from swimming at the beach, scuba diving at Balicasag Island and eco-tourism by way of dolphin-watching at Pamilican Island have become main attractions of Bohol.

For someone like me who’s traveled to most of the major tourist spots in the country, and who once considered Boracay a second home, Bohol is really a gem. There are no noisy, party-hardy drunken tourists falling all over the beach, no crowded accommodations with poorly-prepared food, and no dirty beaches due to careless and irresponsible tourists. (Click here for the rest. Thanks to Robby Sibal for the photos.)
* * * *

I'd like to add, the Chocolate Hills are also on the list of nominees for the New 7 Wonders of Nature. To vote, pls. click on New 7 Wonders. Philippine Airlines (, Air Philippines (, and Cebu Pacific ( all fly to Tagbilaran daily. For inquiries or reservations, check out Panglao Island Nature Resort.

September 03, 2008

Come home Joc-joc, come home!

US Court of Appeals rejects Bolante's latest asylum plea
GMANews.TV 09/02/2008

(Photo from ABS-CBN News)

CHICAGO, Illinois – It was an unsolicited birthday gift Jocelyn “Joc-Joc" I. Bolante is better off without.

On the eve of his 57th birthday last August 27, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit based in Chicago, Illinois, denied his petition for review of his asylum claim.

The court also affirmed the judgment of the Chicago Immigration Judge (IJ) as supplemented by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). (Read the rest here.)

Come home and spill the beans. Be a hero instead of a heel.

September 02, 2008

Can you relate?

Fertilizer scam all over again? (Part 1)

ILOILO CITY—Aura Drew Escanlar was all set to take the nursing board examinations in December 2004 when she decided instead to put up a piggery.

What changed her mind was an offer from the Quedan and Rural Credit Guarantee Corp. (Quedancor). Called “the poor man’s financing institution,” the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) credit-guarantee arm was giving out loans in the form of piglets and feeds, with a buyback scheme that assured borrowers some income.

Escanlar used her parents’ savings to build pigpens and buy piglets, and signed up for the Quedancor Swine Program (QSP). Less than a year later, Escanlar lost almost everything. The income from the buyback scheme was always delayed, and the feeds came late or were not delivered at all. After 50 of her piglets died, Escanlar stormed the Quedancor regional office here. “You have turned my farm into a graveyard,” she told Quedancor employees. (Read all about it in BusinessMirror.)

* * * *

CORRUPTION, scams, scandals...this is will be the enduring legacy of the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo administration. Salamat presidentita.

September 01, 2008

And the winners are...

I PICKED up a newspaper today and actually read it (well just the main pages and business section)...a change from my usual habit of reading the news on the web. While it's more efficient to read newspapers online, sometimes you do miss nice bits and good photos.

And not to mention, the print ads. If I didn't pick up the paper this morning I wouldn't know who the winners were of MasterCard's latest cool gadgets giveaway promo:

Amable VR Aguiluz (Apple MacBook Pro--oooh, I envy you! and a Nokia N95), Victoria Garchitorena (Nokia N95), David Guerrero (Nokia N95), Harry C. Tan Sr. (Nokia N95), Inigo Zobel (Nokia N95), and Ambrosio Jay Velilla Padilla (Sony Cybershot 10.1MP camera).

Anyone sound family, hehe? Congratulations to the winners.

* * * *

Dang, if I only knew there was a promo (see, that's what you miss out when you read the news online), I could've used my MasterCard. Then again, I'm not one who swipes like crazy just because I want to buy something. I have about 4 credit cards, two of them Platinum and one Gold. And yet I keep being sent new ones, which I cut up since I don't need any more in this lifetime.

Especially these days, when interest rates are moving up, I use my cards rather prudently. I only bring them when I travel abroad, but keep one in my wallet for emergencies (not shopping emergencies ha, but real ones like for medicines or hospitals, etc.). I still believe that cash is king. And if you can't afford to pay for your purchases in cash, then you can't afford it. Period.

Of course some bring credit cards so they don't have to bring lots of cash around (or so they claim). In the personal finance stories I write, I always advice paying for the entire amount on your billing statement, if you use your credit card often. That way, you don't get buried underneath your debts.

But it's very easy to get your wallet picked as well with all those credit cards lying in it...then that's even more of a headache cancelling all your credit cards and requesting for new ones. Araykow.

As if we didn't have any other problems...

Bushy eyebrows are back

By Emili Vesilind
Los Angeles Times

STEP away from the tweezers. The tapered, pin-thin eyebrows you’ve been meticulously sculpting every week since the ’90s are looking about as dated as a Menudo T-shirt. Call it recession chic (visiting a brow specialist suddenly feels so indulgent), or further proof that we’re moving toward a less coiffed—even grungy—era in fashion. But bushy brows are back for fall in a big way.

Think Brooke Shields in her skin-tight Calvin Klein jeans, with those thick, healthy arches that veiled smoldering eyes. Only now, it’s Hilary Rhoda who’s the model of the moment, with her considerable brows and all-American good looks. (Click here for the rest.)

(My carefully tweezed and sculpted eyebrows.)

For sure, I'd be the last one riding on this fashion bandwagon. I've plucked far longer than any of you who probably weren't even around yet when Michael Jackson was still dark (he btw, recently celebrated his 50th birthday supposedly by eating cake and watching cartoons with his kids), so some of my eyebrow hairs actually have not grown back. So even if I wanted to get them all bushed up, I'd probably have to wait it out for a year. By then, the trend will probably be over.

Of course, I could use some eyebrow pencil to fill it all in, but to me, it looks fake. Then I also think having bushier eyebrows would make me look always angry, or perhaps insane (more than I usually am). I love my thin eyebrows because it brightens up my face and through the years, I've actually gotten a lot of compliments about them. So I think I'm gonna stick with my bush, errr, I mean my brows.

September na!

TIME to make that Christmas shopping list ghels and gheys...araykow!

Just to remind you all how close it is to D-Day, check out the Christmas countdown widget on the right. (Lord, pls. give us strength.)

(Snoopy image from