November 26, 2011

Christmas magic!

CHRISTMAS is really such a special time of the year when all magical things happen!

One of them is the Spectacular Spectrum, a symphony of Christmas lights and music at the Ayala Triangle Garden in Makati City.

It's a really awesome show, which can be enjoyed by the entire family. Major aliw factor!

Just to give you a taste, here's an excerpt:

ANOTHER thing you shouldn't miss is the Pablo Picasso Suite Vollard exhibit ongoing at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila.

I'm no art critic, so kindly excuse me for not describing what's featured except to say these are about 100 prints of copper etchings by Picasso. Most of us are used to seeing his work in oils on canvas or sculptures, so these copper etchings is a new medium to me. And I found them truly remarkable and inspiring whether they appeared to be just simple doodles to completely detailed drawings.

According to the MET website:

"Commissioned by the art dealer and editor Ambroise Vollard, Pablo Picasso created one hundred copper etchings between September 13, 1930, and march 1937 that have come to be known in art history as the Suite Vollard....

"The complete series includes three portraits of Ambroise Vollard, five plates referred to as the Battle of Love, or Rape, created in 1933; forty-six plates from The Sculptor's Studio (forty etchings from March 20 to May 5, 1933, and six between January and March 1934); four plates of Rembrandt (created July 27-31, 1934); fifteen plates of The Blind Minotaur, created from May 17-June 18, and September 22-October 22, 1933; and twenty-seven varied compositions. The etchings do not follow a logical sequence in their images; their chronology follows more current events and the artist's personal experiences." (Click the MET for the rest.)

(From the minotaur series)

While you're there, check out the gold and ivory exhibit at the lower level of the MET. The gold pieces may not be as stunning as those displayed at the Ayala Museum, but they are still lovely to look at.

The pieces are indicative of the superb craftsmanship of early Filipino artisans who painstakingly etched, cut, or strung these delicate pieces of gold together to create jewelry and fashion accessories to be worn on their clothes.

The santo niños and the crucifixion piece made of ivory were splendid as well.

(The Holy Family, in ivory.)

There are also some pieces of renowned Filipino painter Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo displayed on the ground floor, as well as a photo exhibit of life in Spain.

Entrance to the MET is only P100. Check out the museum website for details on other ongoing exhibits and museum hours.

(And my apologies to the MET management for shooting these photos. I knew it was prohibited, but I just want to encourage the public to view your treasures. Pls. forgive me.)

A story of courage, hope and love

(Life-affirming former astronaut Mark Kelly and his wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, tell a love story of challenges and triumph to multi-awarded broadcast journalist Diane Sawyer, right. Photo from ABC News.)

WHEN something tragic happens in our lives—the death of a loved one, an incurable illness, a sudden loss of income, a marriage breakup, etc.—we often question why it has happened. We get depressed, sometimes going into a downward spiral that more often than not, throws us into a deeper crisis.

We rail at God, or family and friends, or we blame ourselves for not having done enough to prevent the tragedy.

Some of us eventually snap out of it, get better, and move on in our lives. Unfortunately, others don’t.

The story of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords shows us that recovery is possible. No matter how high the odds against us, we will be able to overcome them—if we want to. It takes courage, hope, and a lot of her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, has shown.

As I write this, I’d just watched the ABC 20/20’s feature on Giffords and Kelly, a very touching profile piece by award-winning journalist Diane Sawyer. It was a very moving and heartwarming interview. It’s just the kind of story that makes us want to keep praying and cheering on those who are in similar situations like Giffords—whether the handicap is physical, emotional or spiritual.

For those who don’t know her, Giffords was the US congresswoman from Arizona who was shot in the head by a mad man on January 8 at a meet-and-greet in a supermarket in Tucson. Six people died, including a child, and 13 others were injured. Kelly, meanwhile, was an astronaut; he was the one who piloted the final journey of the US Space Shuttle.

According to Giffords’s doctors—I had been monitoring the news updates on her condition over these last 10 months—there were so many ways that bullet could’ve changed the congresswoman’s condition. If it had hit a certain part of her brain, she would’ve been instantly killed. If it had hit another area, she would have lost her ability to speak. Another area controls movement, and if that had been grazed even just so slightly, she would not have been able to walk again.

But in the interview, Giffords was cheerful and speaking, albeit in short phrases and punctuating what she felt using certain words and hand gestures. Sawyer asks how she feels at the opening of the interview, and the congresswoman answers, “Pretty good...Difficult...Strong, strong, strong.”

They showed her walking as well—every morning Kelly helps her walk to the mailbox to get their mail and back to their house.

It’s clear that despite her injury, her comprehension has not been affected. She understood the questions Sawyer asked her, and answered them pointedly. But she struggles. Giffords cannot yet string sentences together.

The profile piece also showed video clips from footage shot by Kelly detailing his wife’s progress. Apparently, he started filming his wife the day right after she was shot, documenting the challenges she faced and the progress she made in her recovery over these last 10 months. They have also co-written a book, Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope, which tackles the incredible journey of the congresswoman from a bedridden patient, to someone who talks, thinks and walks.

Of course, all that wouldn’t have been possible were it not also for the therapists hired to help her regain her speech and movement. There she was, still stitched up badly in her hospital bed, but conscious, saying one of her first words—“you”—as a speech therapist asked Giffords to fill in the blank in a song she had just been taught (“I love you, you love me...”).

The footage also shows Giffords breaking down in her speech therapist’s arms, unable to say the many things she wanted to say. She felt “trapped,” as she told her husband one day, as her mouth seemingly refused to form the words that were floating in her mind.

(A speech therapist helps Giffords re-learn words. Screen grab from ABC 20/20 by Hollywood Gossip)

In a brain injury such as that suffered by Giffords, therapists often have to help their patients “rewire” how their brain thinks. Apparently, music played a very large part in helping the congresswoman re-learn words. According to Giffords’s music therapist, songs help the brain access the lyrics/words through another part of the brain.

Because the bullet injured the left part of her brain, Giffords still cannot adequately move the right part of her body. Her right leg is still a bit stiff when she walks. Sawyer notices that the congresswoman is unable to move an arm as well, and asks if it hurts. Giffords answers it doesn’t but it’s “difficult.”

While doctors didn’t say so on tape, they have told Sawyer that they couldn’t deny that there were indeed some miracles involved in Giffords’s recovery.

A brain trauma specialist interviewed by Sawyer didn’t set limits on how far Giffords would be able to go in her recovery. The specialist added that if Giffords sets her mind to even going back to Congress, she wouldn’t be surprised if the latter does just that.

(Giffords, a Democrat, actually returned to Congress back in August to cast her vote on increasing the US government’s debt ceiling. Her return earned thunderous applause from her colleagues on the floor. She waved and greeted her fellow congressmen by their first names. But because of her injury, she has missed 98 sessions so far, although her staff continues to do her work on helping her constituents.)

When Sawyer asks if she still wants to run for Congress next year, Giffords stops a few times, sits up straight as she tries to gain the momentum to try force the words out her mouth, while her left hand makes a forward motion. Kelly ends up saying it for her: “She wants to get better.” And she repeats it, “better, better,” while nodding her head vigorously.

It’s also evident that Giffords’s husband has helped immensely in pushing her recovery. He tells Sawyer how he would compose himself before he would enter Giffords’s hospital room every morning. He always encouraged her, and was extremely optimistic of her recovery. Whether he really believed it, or it was just bravado on his part, Kelly was unwavering. He even put up a sign outside Giffords’s room warning her visitors not to cry.

Knowing how his wife is very goal-oriented, Kelly set goals for her. He put her sneakers and socks in a nearby chair, so she could work toward putting these on and walking again. Any lesser man would’ve probably given up on a bedridden wife. It was a testament to his love and dedication to his wife.

Amid all the problems facing us and our country, it helps to watch positive pieces like this story of Giffords and Kelly. It puts our own issues in perspective, and encourages us to not lose hope. Yes, it will be “difficult”, but persistence is the key. All things are possible once you set your mind to it.

* To watch Sawyer’s interview of Giffords and Kelly, go to

(My column Something Like Life, is published every Friday, in the Life section of the BusinessMirror. This piece was published on Nov. 18, 2011.)

November 17, 2011

Cardholders beware!

I'M posting this story by Johnson Tan, a De La Salle alumnus and business owner, and friend of media colleague, Mia Gonzalez of the BusinessMirror.

Mia posted this last night on her Facebook page, and I was so appalled how this couple lost their entire savings because someone had apparently been able to get hold of their debit card's PIN. I hope it serves as a warning to us all cardholders that danger lurks wherever and whenever we use our credit cards or debit cards.

What I find most disgusting, is that the bank in question, already has a photo of the thief, and yet it seemingly doesn't want to help the couple catch him or prevent other depositors from being robbed. All it has to do is turn over the thief's photo to the NBI. Tsk, tsk.

Anyway, here's Johnson's story:
How we lost our savings at HSBC via debit card fraud:

Hi all, this is to relate what happened to our HSBC Canada account.

Our purpose is to inform people that your money may not be safe from thieves and to take security of your bank accounts very seriously.

We are based in the Philippines but had opened an account with HSBC Canada thru the help of HSBC Philippines specifically HSBC Greenhills.

The account should have been used for my daughter's education and cost of living in Canada.

When my wife went to Vancouver with our daughter for her studies, she had her debit card activated and placed in her own PIN.

When she arrived in the Philippines, we did not check our account balance for 15 days.

When we checked our account, we were horrified to find that our account had zero balance; Thanks to someone withdrawing our funds everyday at HSBC Philippines atm machines and emptying our funds with HSBC Canada.

It is really painful to see years and years of savings disappear: all the times my wife and i saved to ensure a good education for our children.

Be careful with funds that can be withdrawn using atm or debit cards,

check your bank balance everyday:

limit to emergency funds only what can be withdrawn using atm or debit cards,

slash your credit card limits if you don't need it

cancel the cash advance feature if you do not need it.

Cancel your global transfer facility if you do not require it: as this may be hacked and all your funds may just disappear.

We have shots of the thief who stole our funds by using HSBC Philippines atm machine but it is bank policy not to provide me with a copy.... and the NBI must secure some court order before the photos are released. Sometimes I feel that the bank is protecting the thief rather than the depositor who was ripped off.

My family hopes to get the funds back and I have reported the incident to NBI and Banco Sentral. I have also sent many letters to HSBC Philippines and HSBC Canada.

We never lost the debit card and the PIN number was never divulged to anyone.

There is a proliferation of this sort of theft. At the NBI, i was informed that before me, a balikbayan couple (aged) was also complaining and crying that their account had been emptied.

When i went back to the NBI days later to get my case number file to be sent to HSBC Philippines and HSBC Canada, I was informed that after me, another balikbayan couple had also reported that their accounts had also disappeared.

Is it possible that the theft occurred in plane flights from North America to the Philippines? wife rode PAL 107 from Vancouver to Manila by herself and we half suspect that someone in the flight had some electronic gadget and somehow got her card details.

Is it possible that some dishonest merchant had their data compromised when wife used the POS? or maybe there was a skimmer and camera at an ATM in Canada and was compromised? So many possibilities that make our family now so scared to use bank cards for withdrawing funds or even using credit cards.

if you have been victims of the atm/ debit/ credit card scam, please message me so we can also learn from your experience.

Lets work together to help others (and yourself) not get ripped off as well.

Thank you for reading and feel free to message me for more details.

Here are additional details from Nancy, the wife of Johnson, as I and other people commented on Johnson's story:

-In Canada they are obliged to reimburse funds if there is fraud. In the Philippines, we are on our own if robbed so prevention is really required. Please read the fine print in atm and credit conditions... any loss on atm is depositor's loss

-banks are quiet about these incidents but do note that they are now giving more warnings to atm users BUT not telling them that the thieves are getting hi-tech now.

-withdrawals were made using hsbc philippines atm machines in ortigas and valle verde... but we were refused copies of the thief who withdrew the funds because of bank privacy policy...

-actually the debit cards should have a maximum allowable daily limit of 400ca$ and 500ca$ if pos. however, in the Philippines, thieves withdrew 1000 ca$ per day.

-as a depositor who was robbed, how can we prosecute the criminals? bank wants NBI to file a case first... NBI can't file case as suspect is not identified. In the end, the depositor is left with nothing. the bank and thieves have not lost anything. My HSBC greenhills officer actually told us that HSBC Greenhills will not get involved in police matters as the loss is ours... not theirs. Please consider that we are depositors with HSBC Greenhills before this incident even if the account was HSBC Canada. The account was opened with the assistance of HSBC Greenhills, HSBC Philippines. When trouble comes, HSBC Philippines will deny all responsibility even if their machine was used in the withdrawals.

What I find so sickening in this whole affair is the inability of HSBC Philippines to help their customer get through this problem. According to Johnson and his wife Nancy, HSBC Greenhills are claiming "bank privacy". I understand that; but I'd assume this only applies to the protection of bank deposits, not thieves!

Why doesn't HSBC want to cooperate with the NBI in turning over the photo of the alleged thief, since apparently, the bank officers already have it in their possession? So while HSBC executives are sitting on their asses, said thief just goes on and on, victimizing other people of their savings?! Hello!

I've always held HSBC in high regard. (For the sake of disclosure, I am an HSBC cardholder myself.) Johnson says that he chose HSBC in fact because of its excellent reputation worldwide, and he thought his funds would be safe there. But this isn't the first time I've heard of HSBC's deteriorating service. Even some of my own friends and relatives have told me a few horror stories involving this bank. This deterioration has been happening in the last two years, and I'm not sure if it's because there's a change in management or a change in bank policies.

And yet, HSBC isn't the only one. A number of Philippine banks unfortunately, put their needs ahead of their customers, conveniently forgetting that without our hard-earned monies, they won't even be able to generate their profits and pay the handsome incomes of their executives.

It sucks, I know. But there is no way except to be more discerning in choosing our banks. As this case w/ HSBC has proven, even an international bank w/ a wide network all over the world and seemingly superior bank products, can have third-rate customer service. (The tag "world's local bank" I suppose just means, they apply local quality standards to local situations; their depositors don't deserve the world-class standards the bank is known for in other parts of the world.)

I hope the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas can help intervene in this matter, or at least direct banks to immediately cooperate with local authorities when investigating cases of fraud. Kawawa ang mga depositors/cardholders!

(*Photos from HSBC and other web sites.)

November 13, 2011

Industry stakeholders threaten boycott of Tourism Congress polls (UPDATED)

(Former DOT Secretary Narzalina Lim.)

A number of tourism stakeholders who had earlier planned to attend the upcoming Tourism Congress elections on Friday, November 11, at the Philippine International Convention Center, are now planning to withdraw their participation in the said event.

The group, which includes former Tourism Secretary Narzalina Lim and former Philippine Stock Exchange president Jose Luis Yulo Jr., who owns an accredited tourism enterprise, decried an alleged breach of an agreement forged by Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. between warring factions in the industry. That agreement had paved the way for new elections to be convened and overseen by the Department of Tourism, and not by the current Tourism Congress headed by its president Alma Jimenez.

Under the old Tourism Congress, only accredited “aggrupations” were invited to participate in the election of its officers in 2009, and not the more than 1,000 enterprises that are supposedly on record. A number of stakeholders have alleged that the old TC board did not truly represent all sectors in the industry, such as those of hotels and restaurants. (The rest in InterAksyon, Nov. 9, 2011.)

Letter of former DOT Secretary Narzalina Lim to Undersecretary Daniel Corpuz, withdrawing participation in the Tourism Congress here.

* * * *

Yes! this was my first story in InterAksyon, the online news portal of TV5. Watch out for more of my stories there. :)

* * * *

UPDATE: Tourism Congress elects new officers, InterAksyon, Nov. 11, 2011

November 07, 2011

Doing it all...and in high heels at that!

ASIAN women are doing it all.

That’s the conclusion arrived at in a new study by media company Universal Networks International and research partner Synovate.

Dubbed “High Heeled Warriors,” the study shows that women in Asia are approaching expectations and duties with increasing power, intelligence and capability. They fulfill traditional roles as daughter, wife and mother, and yet all these don’t hinder the urban Asian women’s personal ambitions.

The study also reveals that more Asian women are gaining financial freedom as they attain more success in terms of education, and in their careers.

I guess that doesn’t sound so surprising for most of us Filipino women because in Asia, we happen to be one of the more advanced countries in terms of women working outside the home since the post-World War II. (I should say, not only are more Filipino women working outside the home, but outside the country, as well.)

Whether you’re a domestic helper, sales clerk at the mall, bank teller, a nurse, doctor, lawyer, or even a company president—Filipino women are all over the workplace. And, yes, they manage to take care of their children and run their households, too. More and more women I’ve spoken with enjoy their financial freedom—that of being able to earn their own money to help defray family expenses, as well as pay for their own personal pleasures. They now make it a point to set aside their own funds in a bank account, separate from the family joint account, using the funds therein to pay anything from the new high heels they’ve been craving for (and the occasional shopping spree with girls), vacations, gifts for family and friends, and their regular personal expenses such as cell-phone subscription plans, spa massages, and the like.

The study was commissioned by Universal Networks to understand the motivations and decision-making processes of contemporary Asian women. Female television audiences from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Manila and Jakarta were surveyed to uncover their lifestyle habits, psychological motivations and self-identity.

Christine Fellowes, managing director for Asia Pacific of Universal Network International, said: “Just as Asia’s audiences recognize Universal Networks’ channel brands for their great entertainment value, we are committed to knowing our audiences better in order to meet their ever-changing needs.”

She explained that the study delved into aspects such as education, finance, travel, technology, health, fitness, fashion and beauty, to explore how the women in each country express themselves differently. The findings further support existing statistics on female consumer habits.

The research was conducted via extended focus groups and home visits. “We supplemented the primary research with leading third-party findings about women,” Fellowes said, such as Synovate’s regional PAX survey.

The research was conducted among women aged 22 to 44, she said. All were university or college graduates from affluent homes, and working in various fields in a number of companies or have their own businesses (i.e., own a chain of laundry shops, have own retail business, etc.). There was a mix of single and married women among the respondents.

She said the study shows how women still value their roles as nurturers and caregivers in their family, while becoming outspoken and assertive in the decision-making process, a role traditionally taken on by husbands/fathers. (Of course, here in the Philippines, we all know that the real power in the family does lie with the women...we just let the men think they’re the boss. Hehehe.)

Asian women are now better educated, Fellowes added, self-assured “and seek more freedom and opportunities to grow. They want to make their own decisions and determine their own future. They also seek independence, especially financial independence.”

Asian women are success-oriented and have high expectations in terms of their career development. They are proud to be modern working women (or modern working mothers for those with children)—they do these both for self-development and for their family.

“They want to portray themselves as confident, sophisticated and smart women with style,” Fellowes stressed, adding that Asian women also want to “express their individuality and are triggered by psychological motivations, which vary by country.”

The study outlines the 10 traits of the Filipino Woman High-Heeled Warrior:

• She is educated. She wants to express her individuality by educating herself and polishing her skills or expertise in a certain field. She is proud of her special abilities and competence.

• She is a go-getter. She is not afraid to do what needs to get done in order to achieve her dreams. She is invested in her future and willing to work hard to bring her goals to fruition.

• She is optimistic. She looks forward to a better life and a brighter future. She works hard to be financially independent and plans ahead in anticipation of future needs.

• She is strong-willed. She feels empowered to be her own woman and makes life choices on her own.

• She has big dreams. She takes chances and immerses herself in new experiences and environments, letting go of her inhibitions to make her dreams come true.

• She is entrepreneurial. She wants to challenge herself. She wants to maximize and use her skills and capabilities to do the things that she enjoys. She also wants to be in full control and have the freedom to decide what she wants to do.

• She is bursting with individualism. She draws strength from freedom, adventure and energy. She is adventurous, passionate, energetic and wants to express her individuality by testing her boundaries.

• She is creative and innovative. She is talented and thrives on being innovative. She wants recognition for her creative abilities, which may include crafts, music and design.

• She is expressive. She is creative and tries be fashionable in terms of clothes and accessories, to reflect her individuality. And last,

• She sees marriage as a new step forward. She wants to maximize her potential and express her self-identity through her marriage, her creativity and her social circle. She is able to express herself the way she wants to—as a person, wife and mother. In a sense, marriage empowers her for greater self-expression.

The research, based on Synovate’s research framework, Censydiam, encompasses eight key human motivations influencing women’s decisions—conviviality, belonging, security, control, recognition, power, vitality and enjoyment.

Universal Networks International is the global channels division of NBCUniversal. It is one of the world’s premier entertainment networks, delivering quality content and compelling brands to 150 territories across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Asia. In the Philippines its TV channels include DIVA Universal, Universal Channel, E! Entertainment and Style.

(My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday in the Life section in the BusinessMirror. This piece was originally published on Nov. 4, 2011. Photo and illustration from the web.)

The Halloween-ization of the Filipino

(Lighted pumpkins on the steps of a Filipino home. Photo from

I DON’T know how Halloween became an important event in the country. I won’t call it a “holiday” because the Catholic Church doesn’t recognize it as such. My siblings and I certainly never went trick-or-treating when we were youngsters. It was just an American event we would read about, or see by watching films or TV shows.

Yet in the past few years, I’ve seen Halloween take on a more significant role in the lives of Filipinos, especially among the kids. Malls are packing in huge revenue from selling scary costumes, masks and accessories (e.g., pitchforks, pumpkin pails, glowing red horns, etc.) as Pinoy kids have learned to ape their American counterparts and go trick-or-treating in their respective neighborhoods.

I was recently looking through some of the costumes at a popular mall and they don’t come cheap, mind you. For a mall that caters to the masses, the most reasonably-priced costume I found was about P500! For a lower-middle class family, that P500 already spells one cavan of unmilled rice!

And yet, the parents and their kids milled around the various costumes on the racks, as the latter excitedly pointed out the stuff they wanted to try on. The look on the mommies’ faces was one of resignation or restraint—they were torn between wanting to cater to their children’s whims, yet silently praying the child wouldn’t like the higher-priced but more fabulous item. (I tell you, kids today are smart. And they have taste. They know when a costume sucks or not, and will almost always go for the flashier, more elaborate and, yes, more expensive item! Hay, poor parents!)

I heard one mom even try to dissuade her daughter from picking out some pricey but well-made superhero costume by saying, “Ay pangit yan! Pagtatawanan ka nina Apples!” (which I suppose referred to the child’s friend and their barkada). But the sweet kid held on so tightly to the costume, and refused to look at any other.

I laughed quietly in my head, half-amused and half-bowled over by the extremely superb fashion sense of that little girl. And she was gonna stick to her guns no matter what! She didn’t care if Apples and her other friends did laugh at her. She wanted the costume. Period. Gads, I’d hate to be in her mom’s shoes.

Of course, props goes to the mommies and daddies who still manage to make the costumes for their children. This is such a big deal especially among Americans; a mother or father’s reputation literally hangs in the balance until he/she has crafted the most unique or the wittiest “statement” costume for his/her kids. I’m surprised that some of my stateside friends still manage to find time to sew their kids’ outfits, and amazed at the distinct styles of the clothes. I guess they’re all scared of being branded “bad mommies or daddies,” and being talked about by the neighbors for “neglecting” their Halloween responsibilities. Hahaha!

Then again, did you hear about a school district in New Jersey which banned students from wearing Halloween costumes claiming they were “disruptive” and “distracting”? It became such a hot issue, even the kids attended their township’s board meeting to voice their opposition to the ruling. “Take away our masks, but don’t take away our costumes!” Good grief. (I’m glad we don’t have that kind of a “problem” in our schools since October 31 is usually a holiday anyway, and most schools are out because of the semestral break.)

Students from the Brainshire Science School dress in Halloween costumes as they parade along the main street of Paranaque, in Manila, Philippines (REUTERS photo)

If there are these cuckoo Halloween stories, there are also the heartwarming ones. Just the other day, CBS News reported about an Ohio farmer donating excess pumpkins from his farm to the Boys and Girls Club in Paterson, New Jersey, for their pumpkin patch. (The farms in the area had been devastated by Hurricane Irene recently, which meant the kids would have a pumpkin-less Halloween.)

Said Greg Clement, “I remember as a kid how important it was to have a pumpkin in October. My wife, Kelly, and I were hearing a lot about East Coast farms that had no pumpkins. Then we saw on TV how badly Hurricane Irene had hit Paterson, and we knew we wanted to make sure the kids would have a happy Halloween.” What a swell guy!

Back here at home, some local pet owners also got into the Halloween swing of things by dressing up their pussies and pooches. According to MSNBC Today, the Philippine Animal Welfare Society, or PAWS, put on a pet parade in a mall as part of its campaign to encourage pet owners to take better care of their animals. The pets were so cute in their delightful costumes even as some of the pet owners joined in the fun by dressing up, as well.

Meanwhile, MSN News reported on the top 10 scariest movies of all time. Which of these are you watching this long Halloween weekend?

10. Eraserhead (1977)

9. The Exorcist (1973)

8. Halloween (1978)

7. Don’t Look Now (1973)

6. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

5. Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

4. Suspiria (1977)

3. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

2. Repulsion (1965)

1. Psycho (1960)

My personal favorites which didn’t make the cut are Silence of the Lambs and The Omen. Ach!

So, boo! Enjoy the Halloween break guys!

(My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday in the Life section of the BusinessMirror. This piece was published on Oct. 28, 2011. Photos from the web.)