October 28, 2010

Legazpi and Misibis in The Amazing Race Asia

YOU know how much I love Legazpi, Albay, and how I enjoyed staying at the Misibis Bay Resort* in Cagraray Island. In last week's episode of The Amazing Race Asia, both destinations were on display for that leg of the race. Hope this eases any nervousnessness about the Philippines by foreign travelers.

The rest of the episode can be watched here.

You just gotta love those Amboys, the Richards, for choosing the nastier challenge in the Jig/Pig portion. I won't say more, just watch it ;p

I'm glad the two Philippine teams are still in the game. Will one of them triumph in this season's race? I certainly hope so. A win can just buoy our collective Pinoy spirit right now.

*Just to clarify, Misibis Bay Resort is under new management.

October 25, 2010

The march of time

I USED to leave the table whenever my parents and their friends would start discussing their many ailments. My Pop would dispense information about which kind of fruits his doctor allowed him to eat because of his diabetes, while my Mama would talk about the food supplements she took to help oil her joints. Then other friends would pipe in with their heart conditions, or hypertension medicines, etcetera, etcetera.

I never liked old people’s conversations whenever they took this turn, as it was bound to transform any happy get-together into a bummer. One minute, they’re discussing their kids’ accomplishments, then next thing you know, it’s their illnesses and the amount of drugs they’re gulping down. Then they try to remember the “good old days”, when they were all so young and vibrant just to comfort themselves.

Then just about the time the new millennium rushed in, my gal pal Miggy started talking about her high blood sugar. Miggy used to be the type who would be the first to sit down at the dining table and the last to leave. This was why I always made sure I parked myself beside her, because I was the same, too. We just relished every morsel of food popped into our mouths and would feel unperturbed that while everybody else was already having their desserts, we were still occupied with our main course.

When her mother passed away due to a kidney ailment, a direct complication from diabetes, Miggy went into discipline mode. So now after eating, she needs to take her glucophage to control her blood-sugar level. And when we have dinners together, we now usually listen to her airing her feelings of guilt especially when faced with a table full of high-cholesterol, carbohydrates-packed, or strong sugary foods. You can trust her to be there lecturing some hapless diabetes sufferer on the kind of diet and exercise he should be adopting in his lifestyle.

Mercifully, this disciplined diet has led her to a trimmer figure such that she looks very young for a golden girl. Lately, though, she has been complaining of brittle bones.

Then there’s Ms. RP and her hyperthyroidism. The way I understand it, the thyroid oversees the body’s metabolism. Such that your ability to burn fat is affected. The usual outward manifestation is weight gain, but there are other symptoms as well, such as dizziness, rapid irregular heartbeat, and being mentally and physically fatigued. I only saw her weight gain and, fortunately, not those other terrifying symptoms.

I don’t remember what drugs exactly were given to Ms. RP to treat her thyroid problem, but it surely has worked as she’s back to her voluptuous self. (Or maybe it was her recent bout with amoebiasis that has made her thinner, hahaha!) Seriously, hyperthyroidism, while not life-threatening, can lead to very serious complications if left untreated.

While Miggy and Ms. RP are a few years older than me, I had contributed some choice ailments to our gang’s discussions over the years as well. First, there was my bad back.

Of course, this wasn’t strictly a senior problem but more due to a previously sedentary lifestyle. There I was in my old apartment reaching out for something, then suddenly my lower back just gave out, and I fell to the floor, unable to get up. When I was well enough to get an actual diagnosis from a doctor, the first thing he asked was if I exercised. “Uhm...no?” Fortunately, that experience put me on the path to yoga and I have been free of any back ailments so far, knock on wood.

However, there are illnesses that one is cursed with because of one’s genetic predisposition. From my father’s side, I stand to inherit his hypertension and diabetes. For now, I’m quite lucky that a side benefit of my regular yoga practice is that it keeps my blood pressure and blood sugar on an even keel.

But then, there’s my mother’s glaucoma. This terrible medical condition cost her left eyesight. It just crept up on her. She didn’t experience any symptoms at all...then bam! she just went blind. What happens is too much fluid in your eye builds up, increases the pressure inside your eye, and when left unchecked, it damages your optic nerve. There is no cure for this. Once you go blind, you stay blind, which makes it doubly scary. Since this is an inherited condition, and as risks are higher as one reaches 40, I’ve been getting regular checkups—sometimes annually, sometimes every two years.

So last week, I dropped by the Asian Eye Institute at its TriNoma branch to have my eyes checked as part of my regular glaucoma monitoring.

AEI is very thorough when it checks for glaucoma. First, they will refract your eyes to see if your vision has remained the same or has increased. I already have astigmatism (courtesy of my father as well), a condition that popped up in my mid-30s, so I use eyeglasses. The medical assistant checked if my glasses still worked to correct my vision; good thing it still did.

Then to check for glaucoma, I went through this test to check if my peripheral vision was still clear. Apparently, as one gets closer to having glaucoma, the field of vision narrows tremendously. Tunnel vision, literally.

The medical technician then took an in-depth photograph of my eye, then another test to measure the pressure inside my eyes. Then yet another to measure the thickness of my cornea because, as per my glaucoma doctor Dr. Imelda Yap-Veloso, the thinner one’s cornea is, the more susceptible he is to glaucoma. Guess who’s got a thin cornea? Damn.

After all these exams, Dr. Veloso told me that while the pressure in my eyes was still normal, their drainage was slowly closing off. Gulp! When it completely closes, the fluid in my eyes that lubricates the surrounding tissues will have nowhere to go. This will eventually raise the pressure in my peepers.

It devastated me to hear that there was no way to prevent this. It’s just how my eyes are structured. But she said there is a way to secure them by creating another path to drain the eye fluid. To do this, I would need to undergo a laser eye treatment… yikes! (An older friend who earlier had a retina problem said undergoing a laser eye treatment was as easy as pie, so I shouldn’t worry. Still, the thought of having some contraption slice through my eye is discomfiting enough, and then there’s the anxiety about possible side effects.)

Of course, my initial reaction was to blame my mother. What’s one more issue to pin down on her, eh? At least with the other illnesses I’m predisposed to thanks to my father’s genes, these can be prevented or controlled by diet and exercise. But this drainage problem is not only inevitable but could only be solved by a costly procedure. Thank you, Mama! Grrr.

(As I comforted myself with salmon sashimi, a Philadelphia sushi roll and a tendon, I furiously texted my older sister who was in New York then tracking down the historical hotdog cart. I vented my frustration over the outcome of my eye exam, and I also reminded her to get an exam, as well, as soon as she returned home.)

Obviously, I’m being facetious. More than my mother’s unholy inheritance to me, what really kills is that no matter how young I think I am (I still watch cartoons, for heaven’s sake!), there is no way I can deny that age is already creeping up on me. This eye condition is but one more topic to contribute to my gang’s “senior” discussions about the various ailments that are now plaguing us.

And why am I am telling you all this? Because that’s what old people do. Waaah!

(My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday in the Life section of the BusinessMirror. Cartoon from Mrs. Z's photos.)

October 19, 2010

No musical instruments?

Use your iPhone!

This was the band featured by Jeanne Moss in CNN (subsequently picked up by ANC). Very creative group of guys. And very catchy song, actually.

I don't know what app they were using but if you've been a long-time Mac user like me, you know that each Macbook comes with a Garage Band app that enables you to create your own songs, and play musical instruments therein. You can also record the same after and turn your songs into mp3's.

According to Jeanne Moss, Apple has already been in touch w/ Atomic Tom's record label to discuss some future projects. Coolness. Oh yeah, that guy playing the "guitar" is unmistakeably Pinoy. Woo-hoo! ;p

Boob jobs

I HAVE a couple of issues I wanted to raise today.

First off, the reported Shalani-P-Noy split.

No one really knows the exact details of the parting of ways of the erstwhile couple.

There have been a number of rumors circulating about the purported reason(s) for the breakup: a) P-Noy is extremely busy with his job as is Shalani, being a councilor in Valenzuela; b) P-Noy is seeing someone else; c) Shalani is supposedly dating someone else; or d) all of the above.

As you may recall, as early as the July inaugural of P-Noy at the Quirino Grandstand, the grapevine went hyperactive because of persistent reports that the two had already gone their separate ways. It was only Shalani who actually denied it, but she was there at the inaugural, albeit seated behind the presidential sisters. Then later that evening, she was also at the People’s Party at the Quezon Memorial Circle, where P-Noy sang “Watch What Happens”—to her utter delight. So people thought they were still an item.

Crooned the newly elected President then:

No I won’t believe your heart is cold
Maybe just afraid to be broken again.
Let someone with a deep love to give
Give that deep love to you
And what magic you’ll see.

Sigh. What a difference three months make.

But as I wrote then (Shalani's long wait), the burden of that relationship really fell on Shalani’s pretty shoulders, now that her beau had been elected President. While she herself will no doubt be busy attending to her konsehala duties, she still would not be as occupied as the President. So like any typical girlfriend, she would, no doubt, wish they could spend what little free time they had together.

No doubt, she would’ve been racked with guilt had she imposed on P-Noy’s time. After all, there are more pressing problems to attend to than a lonely girlfriend’s issues. Then again, Shalani may also have deeply considered whether P-Noy was such a good catch that she should wait for six years until he made up his mind about marriage and her part in it. Take note that P-Noy had already said he didn’t see himself getting married while seated in Malacañang.

So as the rumors go, P-Noy was supposedly the one who called it quits, as he recognized that Shalani was no longer happy in the relationship. And quick as a pistol, he was espied to be already seemingly dating someone else. It would now seem that he was not really much into Shalani as we all thought, as much as she was into him. Her reaction when asked by media about the issue: “Next time na lang po. Thank you.” Honey, if it’s over, just say it’s over, and move on.

Perhaps, she’s still holding out a candle for the President? Only natural, especially if the woman’s in love. P-Noy, on the other hand, was already able to joke about his date with the still-unidentified mystery woman at Nuvo.

Meanwhile, it’s been pretty interesting, even downright hilarious, to read the reactions from the men on social-networking sites:

From Namby: “To me the best mistake he ever made was break up with Shalani. She deserves a better-looking boy friend.”

Pitutuy: “THAT was maybe the best thing that he did...releasing Shalani, yehehey!”

Dwayne: “eto ang pagbabago after 100 days: si pnoy at liz uy na raw; at si shalani at mayor gatchalian naman daw.”

Big Guy (on news reports of Shalani dating Mayor Gatchalian): “C’mon, guys, give the lady a break! Masyadong pakialamero kayo.”

Seriously, I feel that Shalani is better off without P-Noy. Sure, he may be a good catch because of his family name. He’s intelligent naman and sometimes witty. And, yes, he is the second most powerful man in the country (the first being Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno, of course). But you can’t force yourself on someone who really doesn’t love you.

I just think that if a man is really in love with a woman, he will find the time to be with her. And if he knows that she’s the one he’d like to spend the rest of his life with, he will marry her, or do something to prove that he’s committed to her. An engagement ring would be nice. It will be an unmistakable assurance of his devotion. There will be no vagueness, no uncertainty, no waffling.

It was good while it was lasted, but it’s now time to move forward, Shalani. Go on, you have a whole world of eager adorable men waiting at your feet. God willing, you will get the man you deserve.


“I LIKE it on the countertop.”

“I like it on my small bed near the door.”

“I like it carried from the car, flung onto the couch, then unzipped and spread wide open....”

If you’ve been reading these mysterious messages on your female friends’ Facebook status, don’t fret, it’s just another Breast Cancer Awareness Month campaign. This year it’s all about where you like putting your handbag. Spoilsport that I am, I did not post any status to that effect. During last year’s campaign, I didn’t post my bra color as asked, so no reason for me to tell you where I put my bag.

Apologies to all the girls who got oh-so-excited with this year’s campaign, but I just think it’s all silly and really doesn’t amount to much. How many of you actually went to your OB-Gyn’s and gotten a breast exam or a mammogram while participating in these campaigns? Raise your hand, anyone? No? Thought so.

Oh, I know it’s supposed to be fun and all, but the whole idea behind these campaigns is to get women thinking about how we can reduce our risks for the disease. Did you know, for instance, that 70 percent of breast cancers occur in women who have no known risk factors?

These are the other facts from the Philippine Breast Cancer Network:

* About 80 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer will be the first to be victims in their families.
* Breast cancer is the leading killer of women ages 35 to 54 worldwide.
* One out of four who are diagnosed with breast-cancer die within the first five years.
* The incidence of breast cancer has been rising for the past 30 years.

And this to me is the most shocking fact of all: “The Philippines has the highest incidence rate of breast cancer in Asia.” (For the rest of the breast-cancer facts, visit www.pbcn.org.)

While early detection may not prevent a woman from getting full-blown breast cancer, and mammography supposedly doesn’t detect as much as 20 percent of breast cancers, it is still advisable to put yourselves through these exams.

The former can be conducted by your OB-Gyn, and she can even teach you how to do it yourself. Using her hand, the doctor will try to detect any changes in your breasts, e.g., if there is some unusual hardening, or lumps. The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that women beginning the age of 30 should have a clinical breast exam made by a health-care professional.

Mammography is a bit uncomfortable as your boob is squeezed between two panels before it’s given an x-ray dose to see what’s inside. ACS advises mammography for women beginning the age of 40. It may be painful, yes, but what if it can help save your life?

***For more information about breast cancer, also visit icanserve Foundation. While it’s unfortunate that the advocacy group no longer holds those successful Pink Kitchen eat-’til-you-drop fundraising activities, you may still support its programs by purchasing the goods being sold at its booth at The Power Plant Mall on all weekends of October.

(My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday in the Life section of the BusinessMirror. Still photo from the film, Un couple parfait.)

October 11, 2010

Slow starters*

I HAVE never been a perfect student.

The nuns and teachers in St. Theresa’s will probably attest to the fact that I was diligent enough and applied myself well all through the elementary grades.

But when I got to high school, I floundered a bit. My math subjects confounded me. Seriously, when would I ever need subjects like algebra? Or trigonometry? (You know how it was when we were teenagers—we’d question everything and rebel against certain ideas.)

In grade school, while I wasn’t a math lover, I could see how the subject was useful. We all still need to add, subtract, divide and multiply, especially when it comes to money. Fractions come in handy when we’re talking about intercompany disputes and, well, uhm...family feuds over inheritance.

But whatever did I need to study sine and cosine for? Bless my teacher Ms. Ortiz wherever she may be, and she was really not the terror she was made out to be by the older girls, but I still can’t figure out why I needed to study trigonometry.

Geometry at least has some practical applications...like playing billiards. In a semi-drunken state at some friend’s birthday one time, I asked my friends who were good at playing pool if they aced their geometry subject in school. They all said yes. Well, it’s all about shooting the ball in the right hole using the perfect angle, isn’t it?

So when I got to fourth year high school, I needed help. I was failing my Trigo and sought another math teacher at St. Theresa’s to tutor me after school, three times a week. Needless to say, I got my act together and managed to pass the subject by the third and fourth quarters. Whew.

In college, I believed I did well in most of the courses. But there were other things that occupied my attention. I was very active in my extracurricular activities, maybe more than the usual student, which would get my Pop all fired up. He would chew my ear out regularly because sometimes he would wait in the car for ages ‘til I decided to appear, but usually it wasn’t because I came from class.

But, hey, the university president, then Bro. Andrew Gonzalez, knew me well enough to offer me a teaching job even before I graduated; I got my class absences wiped out by a few professors just because they liked what I wrote in the paper; and, most important, I got exempted from P.E.! Hahaha.

Seriously, I admit that I probably attended my classes to justify my memberships in the school organizations. I would usually coast along, pushing the allowable absences of each class to the limit, then get to the midterm exams. Depending on the results, I would either study like mad to make sure I passed my final exams for that particularly class, or just do more of the same if I got a good grade.

There were classes that were easy; I passed them even if I was half-asleep most of the time. Most other classes were average—all I needed was just to read up and participate in the discussion, or do the practical work required by the professor.

Then there were a few courses which took more effort to study—these were usually, again, the math-based subjects. Like in high school, I wasn’t ashamed to ask for help when I needed it, and sought it out from my classmates or some guy majoring in that particular field. I would eventually do a good job in the final exams and pass the course. There were very few classes which I dropped, and I usually only did so when the teacher wasn’t inspiring enough to hold my attention.

When I finally graduated, my thesis-mate Chinky and I even managed to each snag a gold medal for producing the Best Project in our Communication Arts batch that year. O, di ba? Overall, I don’t think I really had any major difficulties in the university. I actually enjoyed my time in De La Salle.

All this talk about P-Noy and his failing marks in the first 100 days of his leadership obviously made me look back and assess my own student life. Which is why, despite my thinking that he deserves at least a 76—a grade just above pasang-awa—I think he will still come around.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, there are Presidents who are pretty much Dean’s List material the moment they get to Malacañang. They are self-starters, like FVR maybe, who perform brilliantly at the beginning of their term and are consistent throughout, until they step down from office. They come up with the right policies, implement them, and the whole country benefits.

Then there are sluggish ones, like P-Noy, who is like the student that I once was. He has certain strengths in some areas, but in other subjects, he really needs to crack open those books, and ask more knowledgeable people to explain the topics to him. The key is for him to recognize and accept that he needs help, because I’m pretty sure, there are so many smart people willing to extend a hand to him, if only he would asked.

So far, we’re just in the first quarter of his presidency. There is still some time for him to improve those grades. And as any student knows, what’s really most important is making a difference by the third- and fourth-quarter grading periods.

This may not give the rest of us know-it-alls any measure of comfort because it sounds like we’re on a slow boat to China. But I still have just this much hope that P-Noy will take our country where we want it to be in due time. He just needs to get a grip on his own weaknesses, focus more intently and study matters he doesn’t understand, and ask help from the right people. (Published Oct. 8, 2010)

*My column Something Like Life is published every Friday in the Life section of the BusinessMirror.

October 08, 2010

A word from Prof. Winnie Monsod

I MAY not be from U.P., but I appreciate Prof. Monsod's appeal to her students. She speaks the truth. You want this country to prosper, then stay here and make it work. Not maybe for your sake, but for the sake of the future generations. Stop complaining about the corrupt officials in government if you yourselves cheat in class. We are all leaders...it's time we behave as such. Honor before excellence.

The only reason to watch Eat Pray Love...

Javier Bardem.

That's it.

October 07, 2010



That bombing off De La Salle University last Sunday at the traditional salubong for bar examinees was a despicable act perpetrated by one human being to another. How could anyone justify lobbing a grenade at a crowd of would-be lawyers—kids really, who had just finished a grueling four Sundays of exams—just because his fraternity had a run-in with a rival frat?

To me, that was the most supreme act of cowardice, dude. If you think you were being such a big man then, you weren’t. And those who continue to coddle you and hide you instead of bringing you to justice to accept punishment for that foolish, nay, that terroristic act, are equally guilty of being cowards, and criminals. (Click Something Like Life, Oct. 1, 2010 for the rest. Photo from the film, Batch '81.)

October 02, 2010

Airline blues

GOT this press release from Philippine Airlines in my mailbox today. Thought it was interesting enough to publish as is, since most of us don't really know the details of the issues the cabin crew and airline management are fighting about. But clearly, this deadlock between both parties has to be broken soon as it undermines the safety of the riding of the public, and will affect the tourism opportunities in the country.

Read the Flight Attendants' & Stewards' Association of the Philippines (FASAP) press release of Sept. 29, 2010 here first.

PAL salary, benefits of cabin crew