Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Kris Allen - Live Like We're Dying

I was rooting for Adam Lambert in last season's American Idol but this song made me love Kris Allen. It's his first single released post-Idol.

By the way, this is a cover of a song by The Script (known for their monster-hit "Man Who Can't Be Moved").


Though I've been seeing the devastation wrought by Ondoy since Saturday, it was only yesterday that I realized how devastating it really was. Blame it on me being desensitized by the violence and crimes that are shown daily but somehow, this cognizance hit home.

It took a picture to make me quickly call home just to hear my son's garbling, never mind if he didn't make sense. It was a picture in that made me feel grief and empathy and it took a big measure of self-control for me not to empty out my bank account and give it to the flood victims. It was a picture that made me hug my son last night making him squirm from my tight embrace.

It was a picture of a two year old boy dug up from the mud after his house was buried in a mudslide Saturday morning. A man in a blue shirt was digging out a body of a two year old baby and it showed his thigh and his small white hand limp and almost closed in death.

I was haunted by images of that mud-covered thigh, thinking it might have been Basti's, or that small white hand that might have been my son's. Though I know my husband and I will do our damned best that Basti will be kept safe, I can't help my thoughts from superimposing my son's image on that small frail body.

It was a gruesome picture that I really refused to look at again after seeing it once (it did not help that I was eating my merienda when I saw that picture. For the first, I really lost my apetite). But I forced myself to look at it again and again hopefully to desensitize myself and make me appreciate my life and my blessings more. But at the back of my mind, I know that nothing will ever replace a human life and that for the mother of that baby, her life will never be the same again.

I just take refuge in the fact that he will never grow old and that he's now safe in the bosom of our Father's arms. He will not know pain or sickness and his innocence will never be marred by the evils of our society.

I pray for the victims that they'll be able to overcome this and rebuild their lives. I pray that I'll be able to help them as effectively as possible.

God help us all.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Ondoy Experience

Compared to the other victims of Saturday's deluge, my Ondoy experience is merely an inconvenience.

I started my Saturday with a gym session with my trainer at 9AM. By that time, it has been raining non-stop but it didn't bother me much. I knew there was a storm but it was only Signal No. 1 which to me, just means an extra hour of travel time due to possible traffic in SLEX.

I was supposed to head to Makati afterwards as I had a group meeting for our STRAMA case. I set off at 1030 and texted my groupmates if we're still on after seeing the rainy onslaught. I got a text message that it's called off when I entered south superhighway. I just shrugged as I could always get out at Sucat exit and drive through BF to get to Alabang.

Entering SLEX through Filinvest, traffic was already slow-moving. As this was a daily occurence for me, I just forged on. I figured it'll take me 30 minutes to an hour to get to Sucat with the way traffic was moving. However, I got nervous when I saw the floodwater at the base of the Alabang viaduct. I could hear it crashing against my car door due to the big trucks and buses that were displacing the water. I called Leo and cried when he answered the phone. The water was freaking me out and I was scared that it'll enter the car forcing me to evacuate or even scamper to the roof. He told me to calm down and head off to a high place. My mother-in-law also told me to just keep on pressing the gas to prevent the water from entering the exhaust. When traffic finally came to a stand still, I was fortunately on higher ground where water was just ankle deep. I could see people wading through the flood walking along SLEX.

I tried to relax by reading some articles but my mind was not in it. I was a bit wary of some men who managed to get inside SLEX and was offering to push the cars. One even knocked on my window asking if I wanted my car pushed. I just shook my head without opening my window or car door. I was scared as it is.

After four hours, the rain abated and when I saw that the small car ahead of me was able to forged through the floodwaters, I followed suit. I was out of SLEX less than a minute later and I quickly drove to Shopwise where I was able to use the CR and find something to eat.

I received word from my mother-in-law to stay in Shopwise from the meantime while I wait for flood waters in BF to subside. I also called my aunt who was in Manila Memorial who I intended to visit and she told me to wait until the coast was clear.

I stayed and shopped in Shopwise for the meantime and after receiving the go-signal, I left the shopping center and went to Manila Memorial to meet with my aunt. I stayed for 30 minutes and proceeded to go home.

I finally reached home at 530PM all in one piece. It was there that I finally realized how lucky I was compared to the others who have lost their homes. My heart goes to all of them and I'm trying find out how I can help. Somehow, giving financial assistance does not seem sufficient. I'll see if I can go to some donation center which would let me help in packing stuff.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I haven't had an annual exam for almost three years now so I voluntarily went to our village clinic to have an over-all blood test. Since I've gained some weight since my last check-up, I knew they would find something and true enough, they did.

Bad news is that my uric acid and triglyceride levels are twice the number of a normal reading. I immediately went to my husband's uncle who happens to be a cardiologist and he prescribed medicines to bring down my uric acid and triglycerides. However, he mentioned that the SGOT and SGPT levels are high as well--the latter reaching three times that of normal levels! That alarmed me especially when he suggested that I get a liver ultrasound to check for damage. Apparently, I might have damaged my liver due to the fatty foods that I've eaten. Maybe that's why my metabolism is shot lately.

While waiting for my schedule, I'm now on a diet from fried stuff. I'm doubling up on my daily fiber intake (hello oatmeal, goodbye tocino, goodbye fried rice, goodbye friend egg) and I'm trying to figure out what other foods I should avoid.

There are good news though. My sugar and cholesterol levels are thankfully within normal ranges. Thank God! At least I only have to worry about my liver for the moment.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Travel Kuwento: Bohol August 21-23, 2009

At the start of August, I already asked Leo where we will celebrate our second wedding anniversary. Last year, we went to Subic and this year, I want to go somewhere else again. I can't remember how we arrived with Bohol but I can recall that there was not much discussion involved. We somehow just agreed with Bohol.

We next settled with the date. We initially wanted it during the long weekend of our anniversary. But since I had finals, we moved it a week earlier which happens to be another long weekend.

As we only had two weeks until our agreed date, I rushed everything. I booked online and we got Cebu Pacific this time around. We also found a nice resort as recommended by my online friends.

The reason why we chose Cebu Pacific other than it's price, is that it leaves Manila a tad later than PAL giving us more time to get to the airport (via Skyway!). Also, I wanted to see NAIA III.

I woke up all excited as I've really been looking forward to this trip. I was a bit sad too as we'll be leaving Basti behind (my in-laws though, took him to Tagaytay). We arrived at NAIA III two hours before our flight. I expected the worse and I was surprised by the cleanliness of the airport and how it can really rival airports from other countries. I do hope that the government settle whatever they would need to settle so they can fully operate the airport. It beats NAIA I hands down!

We had breakfast at one of the airport kiosks (food choices are definitely better than NAIA I) and patiently waited for our flight. It didn't take long though but we were diverted to another gate as the flight before us was delayed.

Flight to Bohol only took one hour and a half. I was again pleasantly surprised by the plane. It's clean and the interior looks new--like the PAL plane that I rode going to Singapore last year. Our photo was taken by our window-seat seatmate who kindly offered to do so.

As we were not seated by the window, I was not able to take a good photo of Bohol from up in the air. I assume though that it looks exactly like in the map. The airport is surrounded by hills and trees, typically provincial Philippines.

We requested for an airport transfer and we were happy to see that the driver from our resort--Alona Tropical--was there at the gate. He took us to a Toyota Vios and after loading our luggage, drove out of the airport and on the way to Panglao Island. I asked if we'll be taking a bangka ride going to the island and he mentioned, much to my relief, that there's a short bridge connecting both islands eliminating the need for a boat ride.

Seeing the coast was such a welcome sight. The water was so inviting and so clear! You could really see your feet underneath the water and it feels like you're swimming in a pool! This was the view from the restaurant at our resort. The beach is just FABULOUS!!!Makes you want to jump right in...and here's another unobstructed view.

We opted not to go anywhere on our first day and just stayed at the resort. We (or rather, I), swam in the beach in the afternoon and we even tried out their pool (it's SO deep as they also use it for teaching people on how to dive). We also explored the stretch of beach and found other resorts where you can have lunch/dinner, which we did that night.

As discussed with our tour guide/driver, we wanted to do the land tour thing on the 2nd day. I only have two things that I wanted to see in my must-see list--the must acclaimed Chocolate Hills and the indigenous Tarsier. We set out at 8AM and started off to Chocolate Hills which was an hour's ride from the resort.

We first stopped at the Sandugo sight (which was a replica of the "agreement" made by the locals with the Spaniards). Unfortunately, there were too many tourists waiting for their turn with the statues so we only took a few pictures.

Though I lacked sleep, I was excited in seeing the sights that I barely noticed my tiredness. The tourguide/driver was also full of trivia and tidbits about the towns and landmarks that we passed. I'm very impressed with him and I assume that the rest of the guides are the same as well. Whoever trained them did a damn good job and I commend them for their effort and success.

My first glimpse of the famed Chocolate Hills was full of awe. Apparently, the hills fan through 3 or 4 towns and I asked the driver to stop so I can have a picture with the first few hills. The small hill at the background is indeed a chocolate hill. The bigger ones though are further into the island's interior--which we'll be seeing later on.

Finally, we got to the base of the viewing deck and the climb towards the viewing deck was definitely worth the climb (200+ step!). The view is absolutely magnificent and marvelous! There were hills as far as the eye can see! You would really wonder how these hills came to be and they would really look like little chocolate kisses come summer when the hot summer sun turns the grass covering the hills into brown.

After probably an hour at the place (we had ice cream at the base of the viewing deck), the driver returned for us and we traced our route back to the resort. Stopping at places of interest for us. Oh, another interesting thing to note, the restroom there has aircon inside! People wanted to stay inside the restroom because it was SO hot outside. Me included. Hehe.

Our first stop back was the butterfly farm. I felt it was no different than the other butterfly farms in the Luzon island but it was the first time that I held a live caterpillar and let a butterfly rest on my hair. Seeing the insects flutter about the garden was also very relaxing and I somehow got over my fear of them. There's an urban legend that if a butterfly wing touches your eye, you'll get blind. Apparently, there's no truth in that--according to our guide.

After the butterfly farm, we finally got to a place that lets you view the tarsiers and like other tourists, I was able to get a shot with the famous mammal. Apparently, there are a lot of tarsier farms in the area and we were brought to this one. We're not allowed to touch the little guys so I tried to get as close as I can without bothering them. This was the best shot that we got.

Another thing I love about Bohol was the churches. We visited two of them and both of them are quite ancient. If I'm not mistaken, they were built way back during the Spanish era. I also learned a bit of trivia. This church is the second oldest church in Bohol. According to Wikipedia, it was originally built in 1602, but soon reduced to ashes. The bell tower of Loboc is about 100 meters from the church.

We also visited another church, the Baclayon church. This church was initially built in 1596 and located near the coastline. Next to the church is the old convent (which we also visited) which also houses a small museum with centuries-old religious relics, artifacts and other antiquities, dating back to the 16th century. Here I am posing outside the church.

After the churches, we had lunch at one of the boats cruising the Loboc River. While having lunch, we had a local singer serenading us with local songs (and even Japanese songs for the tourists). This shot was taken towards the end of the cruise and I felt so calm and peaceful while looking through it again. There's really something about the sea can calm a person (I think there's a psychological test somewhere on how you look at the sea).

The cruise took around 30 minutes to an hour, I think. We stopped by a "settlement" where local people dressed up in tribes gear entertained us with their drums and dance. Other than that, it's just seeing the palm trees along the river and enjoying the music, food and view. Really something that a Bohol visitor should experience.

We got back at the resort at around late afternoon and I could feel myself coming down with something. Apparently, I caught a cold because of the abrupt change in weather (it was hot outside and after sight-seeing, we would take shelter inside the car where the aircon was on at full blast).


We were at the Tagbilaran airport right on time. Unfortunately, I was nursing a cold and I tell you from experience that it's so difficult to fly with a clogged nose. I was so miserable throughout the whole flight even the cold medicine that I took could not knock me out.

Anyway, the Bohol trip was the best local trip that we've had so far. That island is so beautiful and there are still a lot of things that we were not able to see. I'm looking forward to going back and hopefully, we can bring our brood along.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

My Immortal

I have never really pondered hard over my mortality. Whenever a relative would die due to sickness, I would just shrug and say that it's a fact of life; that it's something that I have to accept. I would grieve and move on without thinking or learning from the experience. I never really thought about it, except for today.

My seatmate at work has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Though the tumor is still treatable, it still scares her. She's married with two young children and she worries about them if something does happen to her. It worried me too. See, I'm at risk to such life-threatening diseases yet I don't try hard enough to change my lifestyle or my habits. I would start but I'd end up reverting back to my unhealthy food.

I don't know if this is the wake up call that I'm waiting for. I know I managed to lose weight before and I can do so again. Willpower...

Lord help me.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Driving Peeves

I've been driving for six months now and though I'm still not yet a fully confident driver, I have several peeves which can almost brings me to road rage:

1. Zip Zip Zoom!
I know that for some people, the motorcycle is the only form of transportation they can afford and it can definitely save on time and commute fare. However, I really hate it when they drive as if they own the road. I almost got into a couple of accidents because of motorcyles. And I cannot understand why they are allowed on that stretch of highway from Nichols going north. They would just zip right past you out of nowhere.
I know that there are decent motorcycle drivers out there but this is just based on my driving experience.

2. Tabi Tabi Po!
This is prevalent in our village actually. The maximum speed limit in our village's main roads is 60kph. However, there are some who drives at 40kph and they won't even drive at the slow lane to give way. It really doesn't matter if I'm on my way home but there are times that you just want to get home and there's this long stretch in front of the slow moving car that you just want to get to.

3. Left or right?
The reason why the turn signal is installed is so that other drivers would know if the car before him or approaching him would be turning left or right or going somewhere. It irks me no end if a car would suddenly change lanes or turn somewhere without signaling thus leaving me stuck behind him. The switch is so conveniently located near the wheel so it's easy to reach without your hands leaving the wheel but people still don't use it.

4. Singit
I see this everyday especially at SLEX. Sometimes I'm a victim of cars cutting in front of me. I try to drive carefully and fast enough to ensure that the gap between me and the car in front of me will not allow the cars from the "rogue" lane to make singit. It's really unfair. Nakakapikon.

5. Is It Really An Emergency?
On my way to work last Tuesday, 8 ambulances and cars with "wangwangs" passed through the traffic at SLEX at different times and I wondered if there was an accident somewhere. I tuned in to the AM radio and there was no news of an accident that would require such emergency assistance. I had a suspicion that these were just people who wanted to travel through the snail-pace traffic of SLEX the fastest way. I also suspected that one car with the wang-wang is a politician.
COME ON! Bear with the traffic like the rest of us peons! I hope that someday sila naman ang ma-karma.
My friend says that he always gives way even if he has that suspicion as he's scared that if time would come when he would be the one in the ambulance, he doesn't want to get hit by karma.

Anyway, as my driving experiences lengthens, I'm sure this list will grow proportionally as well.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Malaysia, Simply Asia

Leo and I will be going to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on December 26 and will be back on December 30. KL was not our first choice actually. We were debating between Singapore, Cambodia and Vietnam but we ended up with KL (I've already been to Singapore; there's no direct flight to Cambodia and Leo will be having a company meeting at Vietnam next month). We bought a guide book on KL and we'll do our own tour thing. We prefer it than rushing from one place to another.

Map of Malaysia taken from

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Crawling Basti

Basti is now a crawler. He actually crawled from his room up to my mother-in-law's room which is a few more meters after the video stopped.


It has been more than a month that I've been here with my current job. People were afraid that I'll have difficulty adjusting but I learned how to adapt quickly. I've always prided myself of my resiliency and I'm happy to say that this trait of mine did not disappoint me this time around.

Though my current employer and my former employer are in the same industry, they don't look like that they do. I won't make comparisons on how they run their respective companies but maybe the biggest difference would be the culture. Coming from a fast-paced and long-hours working environment, it was a welcome break to stay in the office only from 830 to 530 and not seeing the big bosses everyday.

Of course, it came with a price. I had to replenish my closet as my current employer is very conservative and prefer their female employees be dressed in suits and closed shoes. At least I'm not required to wear a skirt but corporate attires are very much preferred, yes, complete with the make-up. I also had to be more conscious with my time as attendance is very much monitored.

The technology is also very different. Since I now work for a local bank (a big one at that), their technology is not that advanced as my previous employer which was an international bank. Instead of MS Office, we're using OpenOffice.Org. Since we recently switched to this software, I have yet to see if it is indeed better than MS Office. We were caught by surprise as the switch happened this weekend and my officemates have been bombarding IT with calls of assistance.

I'm happy where I am right now. What I got in return can be very much outweigh the liabilities. I got my life back and hopefully, I'll be able to use my free time wisely.