April 28, 2009

Juday and Ryan wedding photos!

(Photo by Patrick Uy via PEP. Click here for more.)

WHILE I'm not a Juday fan (nor any of the new local showbiz personalities, period), I love weddings! Juday looks so pretty here. In fairview, she has really grown up! No longer a the little fat kid, she is really gorgeous. Aliw. And from what I hear, she also a really nice, sweet personality that goes with the package.

Congratulations and best wishes to the newlyweds. Ryan you lucky dawg! (ala Randy Jackson)
* * * *

Speaking of artistas, I was on holiday in Boracay in last weekend (Seair's the only way to fly there), and there was a has-been actor walking along the beach with his gorgeous wife and cute daughter. Even though a has-been, he should be thankful that people still wanted to have their photo taken with him. Among those hapless fans were some young friends of mine. Pero wow, ang yabang ni Mr. Has Been daw! He didn't even want to look at the camera, and looked as if he was bored with all the fuss over him, like he couldn't be bothered. (I've seen the photo and my friends were right. Such posturing, hmmph!)

Well I never really thought he was a great actor to begin with, even if he did get paired up w/ the best among the local actresses. Apparently, he has always been this way, cold and aloof towards his fans, according to Miggy, another friend who got turned off by his attitude. No wonder his star flickered out so fast! And here I thought all along that his lola raised him properly. Hmmm...watch out dude. McDo wasn't really that long time ago you know.

April 27, 2009

When to walk away

There was no method in their mother’s madness, it seemed. They said she would just come home, sometimes get irritated over some little thing or at her husband, and then take it out on Meili. “No wonder she was always quiet and withdrawn,” Sharon told me. Then one day, Meili was gone, taking with her only a few of her clothes. Her sisters said two days before Meili went missing, she again suffered a very horrendous night in her mother’s hands. (Click Something Like Life.)

April 22, 2009

Go, go generics!

“Our fastest-growing division is our generics drugs,” said Pascual Labs chairman Abraham Pascual at Wednesday’s launch of Pharex Economix, a campaign by Pascual subsidiary Pharex HealthCorp. to “provide Filipinos access to a wide range of premium-quality but affordable medicines.” Its “compounded” growth rate in the last 10 years is “16 to 18 percent.” (Read the rest in BusinessMirror. Correction: In BM illustration is Pharex president Tomas Marcelo Agana, not Abraham Pascual as had been captioned.)

(Generic drugs from Pharex HealthCorp.)

Everytime I buy my vitamins, minerals or the usual OTC home drugs like paracetamol or ibuprofen, I usually ask for the generic equivalent. A generic drug is basically a drug whose patent has already expired and thus can be manufactured by any pharmaceutical other than its original patent owner. This makes the drug cheaper and more affordable to more people.

So in the case of paracetamol, for instance, instead of buying the ones made by multinational firms, like Tempra or I ask for the cheapest generic equivalent, most likely under the Ritemed brand w/c is locally manufactured. This will cost probably P2 per tablet only compared to as much as P10 per tablet for the one made by a multinational drug firm.

Same is true with ascorbic acid or vitamin C. I buy Ritemed or Rhea instead of the heavily advertised brands like Fern C or Cecon which have the exact formulations anyway. The difference being those locally produced by Filipino firms cost less. Even certain antibiotics have generic equivalents and are priced at least 50-60% lower than the ones normally prescribed by your doctors who btw, get lots of freebies and junkets from multinational pharma firms.

Unfortunately there are many drugs that treat high-maintenance conditions that still are not yet out of patent. My mom's anti-hypertension meds Bi-preterax, for instance, is still only made by one pharma firm, Zuellig. As such, a month's worth of this drug cost close to P3,000! Indeed, pharma drugs in the country are still quite expensive and if you belong to the poorest members of society, you will probably die from its high prices rather than your illness.

Everyone has a right to affordable medicines!

April 20, 2009

The horrors of Facebooking

"SO in the course of setting our birthday dinner date with Jay, Sis sent me a text message, very disturbed. She complained that one of her old friends, Dionisia, 'deliberately published unflattering pictures' of her and another friend, Marlene, in Dionisia’s Facebook account.

Apparently, they were drinking that night and even if they already asked Dionisia not to, she still took photos of them (e.g., toenails, cleavage, etc.), then later uploaded them to a photo album. Sis fumed that it was an 'invasion of privacy' and added that Marlene was mightily upset with Dionisia.
" (Click Something Like Life for the rest.)

April 17, 2009

Dunno what to do w/ your junk?

Say nyo? Click here for more inspiration.

Happy weekend people! :)

Here's Margie now

THIS photo truly brought me joy.

Our colleague and friend Margie Quimpo-Espino has been recovering well (right, in wheelchair), thanks to everyone's prayers. She still has problems in her physical rehab, which is why Chet, her husband, is again asking for our prayers to help Margie along. Here's his email:

Happy Easter to all of you! Please see the attached photo -- this is Margie now. The picture was taken last Easter Sunday, after Holy Mass attended by members of both our families. We celebrated over lunch at home afterwards.

Margie gained another pound-and-a- half the week and has been eating well. She complains a lot but always finishes her food (e.g., "it's so hard to get this thin and you ask me to eat so much.")

Dr. Macalintal was visibly elated by her recovery when we came for a follow-up check today. But Dr. Gozum, Margie's rehab doctor, wasn't as happy. She's ordering more workouts as Margie's legs and left arm are way below expectations.

And this is why I write again, to ask for more of your prayers; more of the same prayers that got her this far.

Also, we have agreed to Ms. Karen Davila to feature our family in her show Wonder Mom which will air this Saturday at 9:45 a.m. Ms. Davila had wanted to do an inspirational story and we agreed that if that is the intention, then our story is not just ours to keep.

SO on their family's behalf, may I again seek your help in praying for Margie? God bless.


(Photo from the Inquirer online)

I DON'T know broadcaster Ted Failon personally. But this case of his wife Trina's alleged suicide/homicide is just disturbing. It's just appalling the way the case is being handled by the Quezon City Police Dept. Arrests were made without warrants. And from what's been reported, the police never even bothered to read to the suspects their rights.

To be fair though, Failon's party is not entirely blameless. Cleaning up the bathroom where the apparent shooting took place was just a huge mistake. But then they probably just got too panicked. And some say they didn't want Failon's daughter to see what had happened. Unfortunately they may have inadvertently gotten rid of the only evidence that could exonerate Failon himself, as the police continue to lean towards him as the prime suspect in this case. (This is one of those cases when you want Gil Grissom of CSI or Mack Taylor of CSI New York to turn up and find out what happened. In their shows, they usually can still find evidence in a crime scene even when it's washed down. We hope it's the same in this case.)

But this is just turning into a circus. The police pushed and pulled suspects, shouted at them or the media, totally behaved like asses even in plain view of the public. Not quite the right beginning to what should be a professional investigation. Then there are so many people jumping into the picture like that gal from the Commission on Human Rights, goofy Justice Secretary Gonzales, and the long-haired lady from the Public Defender's Office.

I just feel awful for Failon and his family for what they're going through, especially with the passing of Trina. But I believe they should be strong enough to face this and allow the police to do their job as well. The latter may be rude and crude, but they need to attend to the matter at hand and get all the necessary evidence for this case. So Failon should allow the cops to administer a paraffin test to his wife, and maybe ask forensic expert Dr. Raquel Fortun to conduct a thorough autopsy on his wife's body, because she could uncover some proof that indeed, Trina's injury was self-inflicted.

Our deepest condolences to Failon and his family.

April 16, 2009

Shameless self-promotion

(Photo by Roy Domingo of BusinessMirror)

Someone left this link on my blog. It mentions my column in the BusinessMirror on former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Click the Sunday Times of London. (Can you say stalker? :p)

Pagbigyan nyo na ako.
15 minutes of fame is what each of us get in our lifetime, hehe :)

I'm eternally grateful to Mr. White for the kind mention. You just made my day. Also to the blog Tony Blair for publishing my column and the pooled media interview w/ Mr. Blair. Wow!

Thanks Caela for sending me the link.

April 14, 2009


SO this is how it went last night: I slept not so fitfully after tearing my hair out over the new BIR tax form. But I wake up this morning, and after reading emails, logged on to Facebook as usual. And whoa! All my friends had posted videos of the brilliant nobody "never-been-kissed" Susan Boyle singing, "I Dreamed a Dream" (Les Miserables) on Britain's Got Talent.

(Photo from the Daily Mirror. Read her story here)

She wowed the cynical audience and equally cynical judges Piers Morgan, Amanda something, and even grumpy old Simon Cowell! Haha. She earned three enthusiastic yes-es for her truly inspiring performance. Just goes to show dear Melanie Marquez was right: "Don't judge my brother, he's not a book!"

Btw, this is the same show w/c discovered Paul Potts. Definitely, this TV show is much bigger in the UK than American Idol, because of the wonderful surprises in the talents it uncovers. Embedding has been disabled so if you haven't seen Susan yet, just click this.

One more day to file your ITR!

I ALWAYS get stressed filing my annual income tax return. In the first place, the forms from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) have never been easy to understand and fill in. Being poor in Math also adds to my befuddlement. I have to check and re-check, and yet once more, to make sure I'm not overpaying the government. Not everyone can afford a tax attorney or an accountant to do these things for you.

And yet I persist. Even though I don't agree with the politics and behavior of the present occupants of Malacañang and we don't get the full benefits from paying our taxes, which likely end up in the pockets of the kawatans in government, I still believe it's our civic and patriotic duty to pay our taxes and file our ITRs. Without our taxes, there will be no government services, poor that they are to begin with. And paying these taxes gives us that right to complain about how the government runs this country.

But woe to the average taxpayer like me! This particular year, the BIR ITR forms are particularly confusing. (I use Form 1701 for self-employed individuals.) Just to clarify, the ITR we are filing this year, covers the income and taxes paid in 2008. But the problem is, the Form 1701 issued now, already reflects the revisions to be used when we file our ITR next year (covering 2009 income and taxes). It's confusing because the instructions at refer to the 2008 taxable year.

(Click and check out lines 22 and 24...)

For instance, when you file your ITR next year, you only choose from two exemptions statuses: single and married. Both receive a whopping P50,000 in deductions from your taxes. Form 1701 already reflects this and so there are only two boxes to choose from. But like I said, we're still filing for the 2008 income/taxes. So the form should clearly have three personal exemption boxes: Single, Head of Family, and Married, as it says so in the instructions at the back.

(...then check out these instructions...)

For another, self-employed individuals can either choose between an optional standard deduction or itemized deductions. This year's form already uses the 40% OSD rate which will be applicable only for 2009 taxes and income. We still have to use the 10% OSD rate for income earned from Jan-June 2008, then the 40% rate from July-Dec. 2008. (Confused ka na din? Imagine that I've been doing this for how many years and I too am stumped by this development.)

(...and these too! Hay.)

So should I follow the instructions at the back of the sheet w/c are clearly the correct ones? OR should I just fill up what's on the form itself even if incorrect? Kakainis! With this kind of confusing BIR forms, you can just imagine why a lot of people avoid filing their ITRs. Oh, and how can BIR encourage more people to pay their income taxes and file their ITRs when the first thing the staff will tell you is, "we can only give you three copies, kasi limited ang forms"? E pano kung maraming gusto mag-file? Di wala na kayong forms? Tsk, tsk, tsk.

What is admirable though is that at least, for the past years that I've been doing my own taxes, I've seen the BIR personnel station themselves in the malls to be more accessible to the taxpayers. So you can get the ITR forms from them, or submit your completed ITR to them. If you need to pay anything, go to LandBank or other accredited agent banks (ask your bank). Or go to your respective BIR offices.

According to BIR spokesperson Ms. Aida Simborio, you have until July 15 to pay your income tax. But you still need to file your ITR by April 15, tomorrow. I think I will badgering her again later to explain the discrepancies in the form.

For those seeking information about how to file your ITR, check the BIR web site for more details. ITR forms are downloadable from the site.

(UPDATE 11 am) After checking in w/ Ms. Aida this morning, she said apparently I'm correct. The forms the agency issued are for next year's filing. Ah well, too late to recall the forms now. Tsk, tsk.

April 12, 2009

Rejoice! The Lord is risen!

I JUST wanted to share with you all this very moving piece by Chet Espino, husband of dear colleague Margie Quimpo-Espino, on how her life in the past three months could be likened to Christ's passion, death, and resurrection.
"I was in a state of disbelief and I walked in and out of the girls’ room about three times before I could tell Patricia, 15, that her mother was sick in India and that it looked very bad." (Read Passage of faith leads to Margie’s recovery .)

Thank you Lord for continuing to heal Margie and for the strength you give Chet and the kids. Truly, all things are possible with You at our side.

April 09, 2009

Where are you going to be this Holy Week?

(A caroza of the Blessed Virgin and the fallen Christ at the Good Friday procession during my visit to San Pablo, Laguna in 2007.)

"Except for the Visita Iglesia, which I enjoyed immensely because it involved getting in the car and leaving the house during this oh-so-boringest time of the year, Holy Week meant literal suffering as far as my young, still inconsequential, life was concerned." (Click here for the rest.)

O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you...

April 08, 2009

If you're going out of town

A LOT of people are making tracks out of the city, with a number of them going up north to Clark, Subic, and Tarlac for the Holy Weekend. A few still are unfamiliar traversing the new Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway so, in the interest of public service, I'm posting a map courtesy of the BCDA web site.

You may click and print it:

Here's the corresponding fare matrix as well. Try to have the exact fare on hand to speed up your time at the toll booths. You may click and print as well for your guidance.

Drive safely people. Enjoy yourselves but pls. remember what this entire week is really about.

An advanced Happy Easter to all!

April 06, 2009

The great summer getaway

Got this from the mail.

Mandala Spa is one of my favorite spas in the country. Its spa treatments are still unparalleled. The villas are so luxurious and even the in-house cuisine, although vegetarian, is so delicious! Mmm...those cardamon muffins are just the best!

(For inquiries, pls. call tel. no. (+63 36) 288.5858 or email: reservations@mandalaspa.com. Click here for more details.)

April 04, 2009

More to see (and buy!) in Cebu

MORE on my trip in fabulous Cebu: I also visited Carcar, famous for its chicharon, old houses, an historic church, and leather sandals. To buy your pasalubongs for loved ones back home, drop by the Islands Pasalubong Center on the way to the Mactan airport.

(The centuries-old Carcar Church. Those are the images of the apostles on the posts.)

(Carcar has a lot of old houses as well. Unfortunately, some of them are now used as commercial stores. Paging the Heritage Center!)

(Leather sandals and shoes are a major product of Carcar, aside from its famous chicharon w/ laman.)

(The just-completed travel lounge at the Islands Pasalubong Center, a one-stop-store for travel essentials, Cebu T-shirts and local delicacies.)

(Colorful T-shirts from Islands Souvenirs by businessman Jay Aldeguer.)

(Love these bags. I bought the one in lavender.)

(Otap heaven.)

Is MAR Roxas turning green?

WELL, not quite. I can assure all the Ateneans out there that the good senator remains a blue blood despite wading into a sea of La Sallians two weeks ago. (The rest at Something Like Life.)

(from left: Ronnie Concepcion, head of the Consumer and Oil Price Watch, and Jorge Araneta, president of The Araneta Group.)

(Peter Coyiuto, president/CEO of First Life; Ria Roxas-Ojeda; Cecile Cacho; and Dr. Elton See Tan, chairman emeritus, American California Bank)

(MAR in an Archers' cap w/ Cesar de Larrazabal, Bunjie Uichico, Sunny Velasco, and Jayjay Malixi)

(MAR w/ La Salle Greenhills HS Class of 1969)

(Banker/businessman Eric Filamor and former Tourism secretary Tony Gonzalez.)

(Ex-Finance chief Cesar Purisima with Knowledge Channel Foundation president Rina Lopez-Bautista, and lawyer Manolo Roxas.)

April 03, 2009

QE2 and Michelle

(from Time Magazine)

What's up with Michelle Obama's hair? Methinks an A380 is trying to make an emergency landing on her forehead. Eeek!

April 02, 2009

This is where I disappeared to

I always thought Microtel was a hotel brand just a notch above Days Inn. But when I flew to Mactan, Cebu last weekend, boy was I surprised! The hotel was so chic and modern, with very interesting furniture pieces in pop colors and rattan, I almost felt I was in a boutique hotel.

Of course, there were some hotel services I missed like the concierge, the 24-hour room service, free wi-fi service, and more menu/restaurant choices. The guest services are sometimes spotty, which I attribute to the newness of the hotel. But for its price points, Microtel Mactan offers great value for money.

Check out these pics:

(My room. Love the soft pillows and orthopedic bed!)

(I wanted to take home this silver lamp from the nightstand.)

(Kids swim in the infinity pool.)

(The view of the hotel rooms from the beach area.)

(The white beach; but let's not kid ourselves, the beaches in Mactan pale in comparison to Boracay.)

(As you step out the elevator, this is what greets you.)

(The restaurant called RICE, with a Kenneth Cobonpue sitting area to the right. The Asian-inspired cuisine was delicious, although limited in choices.)

(Just some of the many kooky furniture scattered throughout the hotel.)

I'll surely be back!