December 31, 2008

Eartha Kitt, 81

EARTHA Kitt was some hot momma, back in the day when African-American women were still not accepted by mainstream American white society. But she broke the colored barrier with her fabulous voice ("C'est si Bon," "Santa Baby", and wouldja believe, our very own "Waray-Waray"?), and her witty characterization of Catwoman in the old Batman series.

She was my favorite villain in the show and rooted for her whenever she would put one over Batman or Batgirl. Hah! She would become one of the most respected singers, dancers and actresses in the United States. Wouldn't it have been great if she had sung at Barack Obama's inaugural?

Here are a few great videos of Ms. Eartha I found on the Net. Enjoy.


Singing C'est si Bon


As Catwoman (Walang sinabi si Halle Berry ke Ms. Eartha)


Singing Waray-Waray. (Sorry, audio only. But it's still a fun listen.)

December 28, 2008

Gov't peace negotiator's son in brawl

Another case of a small-town provincial politico trying to throw his weight around in Manila. And the father, a Cabinet secretary and newly-appointed gov't peace negotiator, did nothing to stop it. Peace negotiator, indeed.

(UPDATE 12/31/08: Sorry guys, I had to delete the video of businessman Delfin dela Paz – who was mauled by the son of Agrarian Reform secretary Nasser Pangandaman Sr. – being interviewed by ABS-CBN News. It seems that the news site doesn't archive its videos and so the one I had posted earlier, is now about Jinky Pacquiao having given birth. Who cares? Apparently, ABS-CBN does. Oh brother.)

Anyhoo, check out the blog of the victims' daughter/sister for more details.

December 27, 2008

All I want for Christmas, part 2

I ASKED new friends and familiar faces that if they had any wish, and barring any thought to the cost of the gift, what would they want to receive this Christmas. Here are more wish lists for the holidays (Click here)

December 22, 2008

December 20, 2008

Don't say I didn't warn you

Philippines Moves to Fight Pig Ebola
Dec. 19, 2008


But health officials say it is too early to rule out a possible threat to humans, and expressed concern over the fact that this incident, first revealed in an Oct. 30 teleconference between the Philippine government and U.S. health authorities, wasn't made public until a news conference for local media in Manila last week. (Read the rest in Wall St. Journal.)

(Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap)

What a coincidence, but shortly after reading this, I received a phone call from a leader in the local hog industry who was calling about a totally unrelated matter, but after peppering him w/ questions about the issue, admitted that they tried to dissuade Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap from publicly announcing the Ebola Reston virus outbreak.

If not for the insistence of the World Health Organization, OIE, and United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the DA officials would've kept quiet on the issue, leaving the public in the dark about possible risks to our health. Salamat Arthur Yap, ang galing mo talaga.

UPDATE (Dec. 20, 2008,11:58 AM): I've just been told that a similar WHO story was supposed to have been published in a major broadsheet today but was killed, not just by the editors, but by the WHO officials themselves. The WHO officials were supposedly afraid to offend the presidentita. Tsk, tsk...when even a global org such as WHO turns on its tail on a vital issue such as this, and gets caught up in the politics of a country it's in, then it is useless. Afraid to offend Malacañang but not afraid to risk the health of Pinoys, ey? Tsk, tsk.

December 18, 2008

All I want for Christmas...

Something Like Life
BusinessMirror
Dec. 19, 2008


ONCE a year, I usually try to get other people to do my job by asking them to contribute their thoughts for my Christmas column...hahaha. This time I’ve asked a number of friends here and abroad to tell me what they wish for this holiday season. Not that I’m in any position to grant any of them.

A few of them are new friends and familiar names you read in our “very interesting, award-winning paper” almost every day. Others, meanwhile, are friends from way back whom I’ve been able to reconnect with via Facebook. (Okay, here I go again, but as Pangs would say, “If you’re not on Facebook, you don’t exist!” And no, Connie, I am not spending too much time on it that you should look for a boyfriend for me. Then again, sige, look for a boyfriend for me, or at least a part-time lover, preferably 30 years young and below, nyahaha!)

So I asked if they had any wish, and barring any thought to the cost of the gift, what would they want to receive this Christmas? I told my friends it didn’t matter if it was something as simple as the new Apple iPhone 3G or as fantastic as a ride on the space shuttle, or perhaps an audience with the Pope or the Dalai Lama and, while we’re at it, how about a house in Alaska so you can see Russia from your backyard?! The thing was to just take the question and give me answers off the top of their heads.

I also strictly instructed them that they not give me any “let there be peace on Earth” answers, or any response that would be worthy of a contestant in the Miss Universe pageant (or worse, the Bb. Pilipinas...oops!). Of course, there are still those who persisted in gunning for the Miss Congeniality award, but most let it rip and thought out of the box.

(Chef Sau del Rosario)

So Merry Christmas everybody! Read on and find out what’s on everyone else’s wish list this Yuletide season.

• Sen. MAR Roxas II, Liberal Party presidential candidate for the 2010 elections

A few days rest in Baguio, a good book, a fireplace to read by and Korina beside me.

• Chef Sau del Rosario, culinary consultant and owner, Kingdom, a Thai restaurant in Angeles, Pampanga

Can I ask for a driver as a Christmas wish? Okay, somebody give me an iPhone since I cannot afford it anymore after paying all my staff and chefs their 13th-month pay and bonuses. I still own this old Sony Ericsson P910i which I lost in Cebu and was returned to me—maybe because it is too old to keep. Hahaha. Seriously, can I get a driver, Santa?

• Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Government Service, media darling

Get a job abroad with a good retirement plan; get off the fast track in my public career; my only grandkid will be driven by less demons than I have; my second grandkid coming next year will not suffer hang-ups over me; and that I shall die ahead of everybody else I love.

• Rowena “Weng” Orejana, ex-reporter of ABS-CBN News and recently landed migrant in Auckland, New Zealand, with husband Gene Orejana and their four children.

I wish for a job this Christmas. Hahaha. But seriously, I need one so I can get my permanent residency here. It would give us the stability we need.

• Gov. Amando Tetangco Jr., head of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas

My Christmas wish is to be able to wake up and watch the sunrise with my wife, Elma, on Christmas Island in Kiribati, the first inhabited island where the rays of a new year strike, because I would always want to begin the day with her.


(Gov. Amando Tetangco Jr. and wife Elma)

• Neric Acosta, former congressman of the First District of Bukidnon, now professor at the Asian Institute of Management and environment advocate

I’d wish for WATER, WATER, WATER...fresh, clean, gurgling, abundant, life-giving water...so concretely, I’d ask for a thousand indigenous tree seedlings for every village to plant in a watershed area. I saw this flourishing in the Greenbelt Movement of Kenya when I visited with Prof. Wagari Maathai in 2005, the year she won the Nobel Peace Prize. If each village planted hundreds of trees every Christmas, we’d be healing a battered Earth and reaping the bounties of a greener, cleaner country for years to come. Oh, and one more Christmas gift: a ticket to witness the Obama presidential inauguration.


More star-studded Christmas wish-lists next week...

(My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday in the Life section of the BusinessMirror. Photos, except for Chef Sau's, are courtesy of the profiled interviewees.)

December 17, 2008

Worthless

YESTERDAY morning, around 11 am, I was in a cab w/ my mom and the maid. We were traveling along Visayas Ave. on our way to the Edsa Shangri-La Plaza mall where my mom had an appointment w/ her eye doctor at the American Eye Center.

Mama and I were in the usual chatty mode, when another cab drove by on our left, and I saw two men riding in the backseat, pummeling someone I couldn't see. I was aghast and told my mom about it, and I could see even their cab driver taking a look at the back while he was driving. He didn't even look a bit concerned, just checking things out.

I took out my cellphone because I wanted to help whoever was in that cab, but was stumped. Who do I call? We have no 911 emergency hotline here that could immediately connect to a police station, so I felt utterly useless and helpless at the situation. The cab w/ the unknown person being beaten up, then made a left into the Shell gas station into our village and was gone. Our cabbie said it must have been a kidnap victim.

I was in shock. I absolutely didn't know what to do. I texted my friend to tell him about it, but what could he do except feel sorry for me for being unable to do anything? As we finally made our way into Edsa from East Ave., I saw a parked police car, with the cop inside asleep, his mouth wide open. And I thought, if only I knew the phone number of the Quezon City police department, maybe I could have helped that person who was being beaten up. The cops could have maybe heard my report and sent the patrol car to scout the area to look for that cab w/ the mysterious passengers.

I have never felt so worthless in my entire life. And I just hope whoever that person in the cab was, that he or she survived the attack.

December 16, 2008

December 13, 2008

Ebola in your pork

OKAY, I'm really swearing off pork now. Sure, I've said it before, and have fallen off the wagon since Christmas last year (ang sarap kasi ng jamon!), but this time I truly, sincerely mean it.

So the Dept. of Agriculture is saying that the ebola reston virus is only specific to hogs. It won't transfer to humans and infect us like the ebola virus which makes people literally bleed through every orifice in their head (nose, mouth, eyes). But the ebola virus that broke out in the African continent, if you recall, was transmitted via animals (birds, reptiles, amphibians) as well. One gets infected if he is exposed to contaminated blood of these animals.

What is troubling is that the ebola reston virus, is actually airborne. So potentially, it could be more fatal. Btw, didn't they say that the mad cow disease was specific to cows also? And yet so many people died from mad cow disease after eating tainted beef.

So uh-uh, I'm not taking any chances. I'm quitting pork.

* * * *

SO why are some people raising a fuss about MAR Roxas cussing in public? and against the Cha-cha? E nainis sya talaga, so WTF?! I know some people in Malacañang who use cuss words worse than your P*****I**, and in Spanish at that!

Tigilan mo na' yang drama mo, Jess Dureza. You're just trying to divert attention from the real issue, w/c is the evil, diabolical, and sinister Cha-Cha move of your amo the presidentita and her minions. Talk about "stooping so low"...I think engaging in corrupt activities like this government has, and the presidentita trying to extend her term beyond Constitutional limits are even lower and more foul than MAR using crude language.

P*****I** talaga!

Roaches attack Zest Air passengers...eeew!

LAST week I received an email w/c apparently has been making the rounds of several friends in the tourism business and email groups. I am publishing it to warn travelers about the hazards of riding on Zest Airways (formerly Asian Spirit), which in the past, I've written about because they flew w/o any insurance. I forwarded the same email to Butch Rodriguez, the carrier's VP for Commercial Affairs and official spokesman, but have not received any reaction to email writer Ms. Polintan's concerns.

Gee, Seair's Nikos Gitsis must be thanking his lucky stars he didn't accept the buy-out offer of Zest Airways' Alfredo Yao.

Here's the email:
On Tue, 11/25/08, Marge Polintan <******@yahoo.com> wrote:

Customer Relations/ZEST AIR:

We are a party of 17 (15 adults and 2 minors) who all took the Manila-Caticlan on Nov. 22 and returned to Manila on Nov. 24 via Kalibo-Manila when our return flight was diverted from Caticlan to Kalibo.

We checked in all 17 of us at Caticlan about 4:10PM only to be told that we have to motor to Kalibo as our flight was diverted. When we asked why, we were given the most stupid reasons that only a moron can accept. Your MR. RODEL URGUELLES informed us that the plane could not take off as sunset was at 5:20. (1) Our flight was supposed to leave at 5:00PM so clearly we would have been up in the sky when sunset was supposedly setting in. (2) Another stupid reason given to us was that the Caticlan airport had no runway lights making it impossible for us to take off!!!! Why in heaven's name do you schedule late afternoon flights knowing that the Caticlan airport is not fitted with lights (I seriously doubt if is this is true). (3) We also asked why we were not contacted to let us know that they were moving our flight earlier. They were able to contact us before we left Manila that our departure was moved to an earlier time. (4) We informed your Mr Urguelles that we had a pregnant lady in our party and were concerned about the long trip from Caticlan to Kalibo. We were asking for a guarantee that should she suffer a miscarriage, the airline will be made answerable for it. Of course he could not give any guarantee. Having no choice we took the risk and motored to Kalibo for a good one hour motor ride. Upon reaching Kalibo, we found out that two other Zest Air flights were likewise diverted. We were made to wait some more as the planes coming from Manila were delayed. I surmised that this was the main reason why our flights were moved from Caticlan to Kalibo.

We were finally herded to an airplane for our flight to Manila. With grumbling stomachs and exhausted from the trip from Caticlan, we had to make our way inside the airplane in darkness. When we asked the flight attendant why there were NO cabin lights, we got another STUPID response and were informed that they are conserving energy and therefore we have to grope for our seats in darkness without any airconditioning. Madilim na Mainit pa!!!!!! What would have been a one hour flight seemed like an eternity as it took us about an hour and a half to reach Manila in darkness.

Having undergone all these nerve wracking experience what was more irritating apart from the stupidity of your staff is the fact that they did not even offer any apology for all the inconvenience we were experiencing. I think you should all go back to school and take courses on basics of good manners, effective management and people skills. Your staff is sorely lacking in all of these!!!!!!

This is our first and last time we are flying ZEST AIR. You can be assured that the 17 of us will be your worst advertisement and will make it a point to inform all our friends and other concerned agencies.

Passengers
MARGARITA S. POLINTAN
LUIS MANUEL S. POLINTAM N
MIA MARGARITA S. POLINTAN
JOSEFINA S CRISTOBAL
MARIANO CRISTOBAL III
RIZZA JOIE CRISTOBAL
EMMANUEL UBIADAS
CATHERINE UBIADAS
GABRILLE ERIN UBIADAS (Minor)
VIRGINIA AGALOOS
BERNARDO AGALOOS III
AILEEN AGALOOS
RACHEL EUSTAQUIO
BERNADETTE NEWELL
ZANDRA NEWELL
ANDREW NEWELL (Minor)
TIMOTHY BLANK

AFTER two weeks, below is the response of Zest Air's Customer relations department. Geez, not even a personal call to apologize to Ms. Polintan? No offer of a comp hassle-free trip next time? How totally lacking in respect for their passengers. Tsk, tsk.

From: Customer relations
To: Marge Polintan <****** @yahoo.com>
Sent: Wednesday, December 3, 2008 3:53:54 PM
Subject: Re: [stcqchs'65] Fw: ZEST AIR/ASIAN SPIRIT NEVER AGAIN-A HARROWING EXPERIENCE

Mam,

I apologize for the inconvenience and have noted your concerns and complaints, the old planes will be grounded and 5 new planes will be in placed.

Best regards

NOW I know Rodel Arguelles, who has been Asian Spirit's Caticlan station manager for the longest time. I've never had a problem w/ him. He has been one of the more efficient employees I know in Asian Spirit. So I'm not so sure what has happened to him. Could be a reflection in the change of management style and their policies.

And yaaak! Ipis! I've also heard that the planes' toilets are not cleaned well. Plain soap and water are used instead of that blue toilet-duck product. So Zest Air management would rather cut expenses that make sure their passengers are safe from health risks huh? Sweet.

There was a time when Asian Spirit was one of the best and most efficient budget carriers in the country. Now that it's been transformed to Zest Air, it is just sh**. Sad.

Of addicts and belated b-day dinners

HELLO, I'm Stella and I'm an addict. Yes, I am now officially hooked on Oishi's Cheese-soaked Sponge Crunch, thanks to Jessica Z. Bad influence :(

She wrote about these luscious gobs of sweet cheese and milky snacks on her blog last week, and in appreciation, Oishi sent her a whole carton of snacks. Generous friend that she is, Jessica shared w/ me a bagful of these treats after I badgered her to gimme some. (I think my exact words were: "Oi, mag-share ka naman!)

Aside from the Cheese Sponge, she also gave me Marty's Cracklin' Vegetarian Chicharon. Veggie chicharon? I kid you not! But mmm...they are sooo flavorful as well (not to mention yummy evil) that you can munch on 'em even w/o having to dip them in vinegar the way we usually do w/ regular chicharon. They're salty and crispy just like chicharon, but as they are made from veggies like dehydrated potatoes and dehydrated green peas, they taste and feel lighter.

(These new Oishi snacks are addicting! Heaven help me!)

And since the chicharon is cooked in palm or coconut oil, no trans-fats either, so these are absolutely guilt-free snacks. But warning thought, it does contain 130 mg of salt (the Sponge Crunch is higher at 150 mg), so if you have any issues with water retention, then you may have to steel yourself from eating more than one bag. Ayayay. (Teka, teka, sino pala si Marty?)

Francine describes the Sponge Crunch as "hormonal" in the sense that you get the salty-sweet combination – a taste w/c women crave for when we're PMS-ing, so I wonder if the R&D department at Oishi is staffed by women. Hmmm. Another Oishi snack that Francine loves is the Chocolate Pillows, which are crackers filled w/ chocolate. I must try them soon. Btw, Francine says she's seen call center agents at ABS-CBN eating the Sponge Crunch w/ Blue Gator-ade. Is this Generation Y's Chippy and Coke combination?

I never knew how much of an Oishi fan I've been for a while 'til I went to the company web site and looked through its product catalog. (Then I realized that the chichiria I've been stealing from my snack-loving niece have all been Oishi products pala, haha.) Like one of the snacks I usually buy from the supermarket especially when I'm going out of town is the Wasabi Potato Ridges. It's crispy potato chips w/ the unique mildy spicy horseradish taste. Then there's the Bread Pan w/c is basically a smaller-scale version of the classic Filipino snack mamon tostado (usually just w/ butter and sugar). Bread Pan though comes in garlic, cheese, and sour cream and chives flavors. Another snack I like is the Oheya mulit-grain snacks in cheese flavor. It's the same hormonal combination of salty and sweet, perfect for "those" days.

Whoa! Oishi sure has come a long way from its Prawn Crackers no? (Mental note: Must secure an interview w/ Oishi owner on success story.)

* * * *


(Jessica takes a photo of her b-day "cake". That's Francine in the background.)

Btw, we had a super-belated birthday dinner w/ Ms. Gorgeous last Thursday (her natal day is actually in November so we're a month late) at La Regalade, and they comped us a lemon tart for her birthday dessert/surprise. Thank you! This was the best lemon tart I've had other than Lemoni Café's in Boracay (that one created by great pastry chef Buddy Trinidad). They both have that aggressive tartness that I love, but Lemoni Café balances this out by caramelizing some sugar on top.



Btw, I am just enamored w/ La Regalade's 7-hour leg of lamb, Manila Clams, and Duck leg confit....mmmm. As it is a bistro, the food is not maarte at all, just comforting like your Lola's Arroz Caldo. Also it's a welcoming place like someone's home, so nobody will feel out-of-place going there. It's wonderful to see an eclectic mix of people during lunch time, for example, where you have mid-level office workers dressed in their long-sleeved polos and ties, while the girls are in their business suits and pumps, then in some tables you see the country's movers and shakers. Like the first time I was there, I espied my ex-boss at the DA Sonny Dominguez w/ his brother Paul, and Bobby Romulo. The night of the Jessica's bday dinner, Inquirer's Sandy Prieto and her family were there, and in another table was Peter Garrucho of First Gas.

So It's a nice place to chill out and just talk and eat w/ your friends for hours and hours, preferably w/ a good bottle of wine. What's more, owner Bubot Quicho adores noisy guests. "The noisier, the better," he tells me w/ a knowing smile. Love him!

No stopping Christmas


Something Like Life
Dec. 12, 2008


I finally sat down last Tuesday and started to wrap the gifts I would be giving to close family and friends this Christmas. As many of you probably know, I finished most of my Christmas shopping a long time ago, organized person that I am. But I never really found the initiative to actually wrap them until a couple of days ago. In the past, my gifts would be all wrapped as soon as December 1 kicked in. This year I just didn’t feel as excited as in previous years.

Maybe it’s because of all this talk of the global economic crisis. I can’t help but be fearful of what next year would bring. While the Bangko Sentral and the local banks continue to reassure us of the soundness of the banking system, small savers like me can’t help but still feel a bit unsure.

So I’ve postponed some necessary repair work for the house in favor of waiting it out next year. We just might need the extra cash next year. Being a small country, the Philippines, no matter how fundamentally sound our government economic managers would like us to believe it to be, will be affected by the turmoil in the bigger economies like the United States. If Americans stop buying our goods, a lot of people here may find themselves out of work. (The rest of my column in BusinessMirror. Photo from www.lumesoft.com)

December 07, 2008

Hello. Remember me?

IN the film, "The 50 First Dates", Drew Barrymore plays a woman who suffers short-term memory loss, and doesn't remember that Adam Sandler is her boyfriend. She doesn't even remember meeting him at all. This doesn't deter Sandler, as Henry Roth, tries to win Barrymore's character, Lucy Whitmore, every day.

It was a funny premise, which apparently has basis in fact. In the New York Times today, is a piece on Henry Gustav Molaison, who was diagnosed with "profound amnesia" or the inability to form new memories, who passed away on December 2. Read about H.M..

December 05, 2008

Thank you Lord

IT'S a good day today. Despite my recent round of bad luck (w/c will end tomorrow according to Joseph Chau's feng shui book, yahoo!), there are a few things to celebrate.

You see, a friend and press colleague from my banking reporter days, Margie Quimpo Espino, an editor at the Inquirer, fell ill while on coverage in New Delhi, India. She is an apparent victim of a stroke (aka cerebral attack) and had lost consciousness last Nov. 29 after complaining of a severe headache. She was brought to the hospital and was given emergency treatment. Two days after, she woke up.

Her husband Chet is now at her side, as well as her brother Joey and his wife. And while Margie isn't totally out of the woods yet, as there is still some paralysis in her body, the latest word is that she has started to speak. Praise God! We have all been praying so hard for her and her family. I know Margie will get through this. She is a fighter and her strength comes from wanting to be w/ her three kids and her husband whom she loves so dearly.

I am attaching Chet's latest report about her condition (sent via our email group), so our friends here and abroad will know what's going on. This latest email moved me tears and made me give thanks to the Lord last night because it made me feel His compassion and love for us, His children.

Dear readers, even if you don't know Margie, pls. include her in your prayers everyday. Pls. ask Him to heal Margie completely; to give strength to Chet, their children (Mark, Catherine, Patricia), and the rest of their families; and to continue to give wisdom to her doctors so they will always make the correct diagnoses and recommend the best procedures for her to recover faster.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank Holcim (w/c had sponsored the press tour Margie was on), which I had criticized in the past for some of its corporate decisions, but is now doing right by taking care of Margie and Chet.

* * * *

Fortis Escorts Hospital
Faridabad, Haryana
India


At around 3 p.m. today, Margie started opening her mouth and began uttering syllables that sounded like "shh... shh.. shhta... shta."

It seemed like she was just exercising her vocal chords and wasn't really attempting to communicate, until Nidin asked her simple questions and she either nodded or shook her head. I only missed it by a few minutes so that when I came, Nidin excitedly greeted me with the news that Margie was trying to speak.

On his prodding, I asked Margie if she knew who I am. In between labored breaths she uttered my name about three times. She still had that dazed look on her face and was battling with what I thought was pneumonia. Then I asked her what her name was and she made a big effort to say her name, also about three times with much effort.

A couple more questions and there was no doubt she was already coherent -- the first time since that fateful Saturday. She had been conscious since I arrived Monday but it's as if she only really woke up today. Joey, Margie's older brother and his wife Liz came and witnessed for themselves what I texted them only earlier.

All the effort that Margie made in trying to speak exhausted her and she fell asleep briefly. As soon as she was calm again, I put Patricia on the phone with her mother for a tearful exchange. I held the phone to Margie's ear and she started saying Patricia's name inaudibly while crying, although no tears came out of her eyes.

In another hour or so, I called again to let Mark and Catherine speak to their mother. We who were around Margie were so surprised when she said "where did you come from?" because we were only telling her to listen to the voices of her children and not to stress herself trying to speak. She actually wanted to make conversation! But none of these were audible to the kids, she couldn't quite let out her voice yet.

Tomorrow we expect her to really show a lot more improvement. Margie really cannot move her left hand and left leg just yet, but the doctors and nurses and physical therapists assure me that she we'll get there. In any case, they ordered another CT scan just to investigate. I have yet to talk to Dr. Dua about it but I heard from the nurse that the CT scan results seemed ok.

Let us pray to God to make Margie whole again.

This wonderful afternoon was actually preceded by a gut-wrenching morning where Margie battled with what I thought was pneumonia. Her lungs were filled with fluid and the x-ray showed her lower right lung was collapsed because of the fluids. They had to change her antibiotics and suction the fluids out with a catheter through the mouth. It was very difficult because during that time they still could not communicate well with Margie. You couldn't tell her to cough properly to let out the fluids, so that it was like bobbing in her lungs and throat.

I was sent out during the procedure so I took advantage of the time to walk back to the hotel and eat lunch with Joey and Liz. It was emotionally draining to see Margie go through it.

We retreated to my room afterwards so I was able to recharge my drained batteries. I was prepared for a tough time when I got back, but I was pleasantly greeted by Nidin with the good news.

Now the bigger picture. In the DSA yesterday, the dye they sent through Margies' head showed no aneurysm in the cerebral arteries. But a small connecting segment was not penetrated by the dye because of spasm, caused by the presence of blood in her brain. That blood will eventually wash away in 3 weeks, and they would like a repeat of the DSA then to complete their investigation.

If they still find no aneurysm in that segment which is about I think only 4 mm long, then I think the doctors may conclude that the bleeding was associated with her hypertension.

I asked the doctor: what happened to the two cases of ''suspected aneurysm'' that was reported during the MRI? He said there was not much to go by with the CT scan or the MRI; the DSA showed no aneurysm.

The doctors told us that it'll probably take Margie 2 to 3 weeks to be fit enough travel.

Mark was anxious about this. "But that's Christmas," he said in his text. Patricia had the same thing in mind.

I said yes, I had the same reaction. But then how can we complain about anything now, I told them. We have their mom. Only a few days ago, our pleas were just to have her alive in the first place.

We have a long way to go. Today gives us so much strength to take on whatever God will permit us to go through in the coming days. Please, please continue the prayers.

December 03, 2008

Good morning

SINCE na-bwiset ako yesterday, bwisitin ko kayo today, hehe. Here's the latest "praise" release out of Malacañang. Yup, they actually have the gall to send this out to media. (Underscoring all mine.)

PGMA looks forward to working with NY Senator Clinton as US Sec of State

HONG KONG (via PLDT) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo congratulated today New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for her nomination as the next US Secretary of State.

The President sent her congratulatory message to Mrs. Clinton through the latter's husband, former US President William Clinton, during the opening of the plenary session here of the Clinton Global Foundation Asia Meeting.

"I'm looking forward to working together for the US-RP relations to become stronger," the President said to the delight of her former Georgetown University classmate.

US-elect President Barrack Obama nominated on Monday (US time) the New York senator as Secretary of State.

For his part, the former US President said of President Arroyo "I'm especially proud of her for her extraordinary leadership. She was my college classmate but she looks 20 years younger than I am."

The President arrived at the Hong Kong International Airport at 8:30 last night to attend the First Clinton Global Initiative Asia Meeting at the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong Hotel.

The President was among the five participants of the plenary session opening which discussed the topic, "Balancing Growth, Sustainability of Equity," where she shared the Philippines' efforts in lessening the negative impact on the poor of the global economic meltdown and high food prices.

I"M pretty sure the presidentita made novena to St. Jude just so that Hillary's appointment as Secretary of State would push through. And again, she left the Philippines to attend the CGI conference in Hong Kong to make sure to touch base w/ dear old Bill. (Travel ng travel ha, ang daming problema dito sa 'Pinas. Oh, I forgot, she's the problem pala.) At least now, she has a friend in the Obama administration, even if ayaw sya pansinin ng President-elect. hehe. Empty praises from an ex-classmate though can only go so far.

Ay good afternoon na pala.

The tale of the bag

I KNEW I shouldn't have gotten up anymore this morning. But lunch at this new restaurant was sooo tempting! So I rushed out of bed and didn't even get to read my emails or news online, or facebook! (Notice I use it as a verb like "google".) I left Q.C. quite late after waiting forever for a cab to take me to the MRT station. No matter how many Our Fathers I prayed, the cab just didn't come.

Eventually, one finally did but as soon as I arrived at the rail station, *SNAP!* the strap of my bag broke, and I was so pissed ...I was feeling this day wasn't going to turn out well for me. I had to clutch my bag so firmly, my hand cramped so badly. And to top it off, despite the time not being exactly rush hour, I wasn't able to get a seat until we reached Galleria. I made kalikot my bag to see how I could repair it temporarily but it was hopeless. So I made do while tying one strap to the other strap. It looked goofy especially since the straps were gold chains intertwined w/ some black fabric. Basta it looked weird.

Anyhoo, upon reaching the MRT station in Ayala, I went straight to the SM Department store to get an Emergency bag. Did you ever notice how pricey the bags are at SM? Aba, think P1,000 and up! This was SM ha? Not even Nine West! Grrr. I never bought bags at SM and I was like freaking out I might end up w/ a Secosana, yikes! cos I was really in a hurry as I was late for my lunch appointment! Anyhoo, I chose a P450-shoulder bag in bronze (it was on sale, the original tag was P1,099...wtf?!?!) w/c I made sure didn't come from Secosana. It was roomy enough for my stuff, and the details were okay naman, so I bought it.

Got into a cab and arrived at the restaurant. I sighed in relief as lunch had just started. Introductions were made all around and I tried to sit back, relax, and savor the food brought to us. Comfort food, thank God. And I sipped on a super refreshing shake. I thought everything was fine until...

...someone accidentally spilled water all over me! drenching my pants and hitting portions of my blouse. The accidental spiller was super apologetic naman and I tried to reassure him that it's okay. Buti nalang hindi red wine daw. (Actually, red wine stains are much easier to fix. Just sprinkle baking soda all over the stains, and it will absorb the wine. With water you have to wait it to dry. Period.)

So off I went to the gorgeous women's rest room to dry my clothing in the hand dryer only to find out, there was no dryer! JUICEKODAY!!! Since there was no fireplace inside the banyo either, lucky me, I just chose to return to our table and sit it out. It was okay except for the clammy feeling on my thighs. Meanwhile, we had coffee and dessert.

Lunch over, as soon as I got into a cab to go to the MRT station, well guess what? as I was zipping my new bag close, the zipper clip just snapped out! JUICEKOLORD! anova?! I wasn't even pulling on it so hard! Okay, breathe in, breathe out. Ma-traffic na ha. Arrived at SM the roundabout way just to avoid the traffic, and of course they make you wait forever just to have one item replaced! The bags are on the second floor, the Customer Service Dept. is on the third floor, and I was clunking around in my uncomfortable shoes. (I don't know why we women just love torturing ourselves w/ our shoes!)

Finally I got my bag replaced, and rushed to the rail station to catch a ride back to Q.C. I was half-expecting more disasters to happen when I got off at TriNoMa. But so far so good. I just had to buy a cake at Conti's to comfort me. (I chose the blueberry cheesecake w/c wasn't terrific really, but better than Red Ribbon naman. Have you noticed how the prices of Red Ribbon cakes have shot up as well? Wasn't it only yesterday we were paying like P300 for an entire cake? Now that only buys you their mini-cakes! And you think, parang SM bags ha? Bakeet?).

Got in a cab, arrived home alive and in one piece. But of course, my food photos didn't come out so well again. Not unlucky here, more effed up, as I know the problem is w/ my phone camera w/c has been going funky on me since last month. Kabwiset talaga! (Mental note to self: Must win a digital camera in the next Christmas raffle.)

Off to sleep, I can only sigh a Hay salamat Lord! Natapos din. Whatta day!

UPDATE: Okay, the upside to all that happened yesterday naman is that I had a great meal, bumped into my Ex-boss (lucky ba yun?), and made new friends. Sige, I should look at the glass half-full daw. Thank you Lord.

December 01, 2008

This, of course, would never happen here

Cabinet Minister Resigns in Wake of India Attacks

By SOMINI SENGUPTA
NYT, Nov. 30, 2008


MUMBAI, India — The top domestic security official resigned in disgrace on Sunday for the failure to thwart or quickly contain the horrific terrorist attacks in Mumbai last week, as India’s government announced a raft of measures to bolster antiterrorism efforts and struggled to calibrate a response to what it views as Pakistani complicity. (Read the rest here)


HERE in our Pilipinas kong mahal, if anything of this sort happens, the Cabinet Secretary (or any government official/politico) would likely protest his innocence, and hang on to his job instead. Delicadeza has long been dead in the Philippines. No government official has ever taken responsibility for whatever faux pas, wrongdoing, or illicit activity in his department. Mas makapal pa sa goma ng gulong ang mga mukha!

A reaction from Rhoda Poliquit

THIS is a reaction to an earlier item I wrote on Barry Poliquit, who has been found guilty by the Senate two years ago for his alleged involvement in the P728-million fertilizer fund scam (click Senate report here). It comes from his wife, Rhoda. We yield this space to her in the interest of fair play.

Hi, Stella...

Long time no see. It's been, what, 16 years? Somebody gave Barry a copy of your blog entry, and I thought I should send you a comment.

Some things have changed, and a lot of them haven't. The kids have grown - the eldest finished Computer Science at AMACU in 2005, the second, Biology at UPLB last April, while the youngest is a Statistics sophomore in UP Diliman. The girlfriends get more airtime than the mom does, haha, and I miss my babies on weekends.

We still live in the little house I got through a 15-year GSIS loan after I was appointed as Director at DAR in 1990. I have moved on to another specialization, though, on counter-terrorism, crisis management, contingency planning, border security, risk analysis and national security management. Not bad for a psych grad with a pre-med minor, huh?

Sorry about that, but we laughed ourselves silly this morning when we read the PDI article that focused more on Barry's PE degree than any of the other issues at yesterday's 6-hour Senate hearing. It's a long-standing joke in the family, with the kids using it as an excuse so they wouldn't have to follow my career choices for them. ("Bakit pa ko magpapakahirap sa engineering, eh si Dadz nga...")

The Barry you knew at DENR is still the same one you saw at the Senate hearing yesterday, except for the thicker waistline (which he hates) and bigger jowls (which is genetic, you should see his dad). He had good times with Doc Roque at DENR because he believed in the man's talent and sense of purpose. He left DENR in 1993 because of differences in principle with the bosses there, and worked for Congressman Edward Matti for a while. He applied for a job at NABCOR in 1997, was appointed AVP for project management, but also resigned three years later. He has always been like that - he just ups and goes when he doesn't feel happy with the job anymore.

So I wasn't surprised when he told me he was leaving DA because of the controversy on the farm inputs fund, even though he liked Field Operations and enjoyed working with the Regional Directors (from whom he learned a lot). He was relieved from Field Operations on September 1, 2004 and given a new assignment on the development of agribusiness lands.

Maybe the Senators found his answer unusual ("I left because I felt I wasn't going to be effective anymore"), since the stereotype government official "na may pwesto/poder" in their mind is "kapit-tuko" (from first-hand experience, perhaps???)

Even in GSIS, he considered resigning (despite the salary) because his first assignment was a desk job, and he felt like the proverbial square peg in a round hole. It was becoming more difficult to wake him up and send him out by 6:15 AM (we live in Batasan Hills) so he wouldn't be late. I'd lend him my driver every so often because his car got rear-ended one morning - he dozed at the wheel.

So the designation as VP for physical resources was a Godsend (bless you, Atty. Winston Garcia). It was like throwing a turtle into water. Now, he happily leaves the house at 5:45 AM to make a 7:00 AM meeting with the building engineers to walk through the renovations being done, and animatedly gives instructions to the maintenance supervisors at 10:30 PM at the height of a typhoon. It's a well-known story in GSIS that he cheerfully vacuumed the carpet on the 7th floor at 1:30 AM, working the graveyard shift side-by-side with the construction and interior decoration crews so they could meet the deadline for transferring Atty. Garcia's office. He really likes what he's doing.

He's still the same "kengkoy" person you knew from way back. He doesn't SCUBA dive anymore, but he still wears the diver's watch I gave him in 1989. His biggest frustration was not being able to join his old mountaineering buddies Art Valdez and Fred Jamili on the Everest Team - they started talking about climbing Everest that summer in 1984 after we all came down Mayon Volcano. The kids finally believed our mountaineering stories when we took them to dinner with Art, Fred, Leo, Pastour, Karina and Noelle.

Let's have coffee one of these days... my treat.

God bless always,

Rhoda

* * * *

I worked at the DA for three years, even before Barry ever joined the department, and have kept myself updated w/ the goings on there even after I left. I am aware of the farm programs that the department under its different administrations have implemented (some of them actually the same banana, under a new name reflecting whoever is the new President). But there has never been a more questionable DA program than said Farm Inputs and Implements Program of former U/Sec Joke-Joke Bolante. In fact, as the Senate report shows, there is no record at the central office that the program has ever existed.

So if Barry knows something, he should tell all.