Wednesday, December 26, 2007

pasko sa pinas

i'm still overwhelmed. i never realized how much i missed pinoy christmas until i experienced it one more time.

the noise. god, i missed the noise. the sound of children carolling, using empty plastic bottles as drums. one group stood in front of our gate and sang (and danced! may choreography pa) boom tarat tarat. who knew that this freaking song had a christmas version? i never would have thought, not in this lifetime, that boom tarat tarat would be sung as a christmas carol. no frikking way. only in the philippines.

the food. it was overflowing. pancit of all kinds - sotanghon, canton, bihon, name it; pasta - carbonara and spag, i wanted to make pesto but i didn't have time. hahaha. sure; salads of all kinds din - fruit, macaroni, buko, buko pandan; barbecue; sandwiches, cakes, coke light. hahaha. yun ang finale, coke light. to wash away the gluttony. and the calories. sure.

the people. my family, my nieces, relatives, neighbors. i don't have much friends left here but it was fun nonetheless. i gave my nieces my gifts - the starbucks 2008 planner for the middle and the card with all 24 stickers for the eldest to claim. plus cash pa. hope they're happy. hehehe.

the sights. christmas decors all around, from the malls to homes to cars to public places. i wish i could go to pampanga and witness the parol festival. maybe next time.


i'm happy i asked my boss if i can extend my stay here for the christmas. i am thankful he said yes.

this christmas, my spirit awakened. i thought i have lost christmas forever. i couldn't be any more wrong.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

holiday greetings from manila

yes, i am back in manila.

i stayed in LA for only 96 hours, afterwhich i hopped back on a PAL plane en route to Manila. since i arrived, it has been doses of toxicity. hahaha. and i am loving it.

so i arrived again friday morning around 6ish in the morning. i got a txt msg (SMS) from BB's EA saying that we have a meeting around 730. hahaha. no time to even unpack my bags. so off to the meeting. and another one, and another one.

saturday, stuff. sunday morning, off to nasugbu, batangas at the canyon cove for our manila office's christmas party, and i must say that it is the longest christmas party ever. as in. we left manila around 8 am, brunch at the resort, some games, then before you know it, it's party time. called it a night a little past 12. breakfast the following day, snacks, lunch then off to manila. the 30-hour christmas party.

my return flight to LA was supposed to be on the 24th. yeah, bisperas ng pasko. it leaves at 10 pm, so around 2 hours into the flight, maligayang pasko na! then we land in LA at 630 pm, same day. 6 hours to go and noche buena na.

unfortunately, i didn't see myself knocking on friends and relatives door for christmas so i asked BB if i can just spend christmas here. and he said yes. thank you BB!

so i am spending christmas here. new year, i'm not too sure yet. it was left hanging. maybe, maybe not. ganun kahanging.

i have not told my folks that i am back. my brother knows though. i'll just surprise them on the 24th.

we're off to tagaytay tomorrow at around 4 for an early breakfast meeting with brother mike velarde. don't ask me why. i am wondering myself. tomorrow's a saturday by the way.

traffic's been terrible the past few days. i didn't realize i actually missed manila's christmas rush. not.

not when i wait for a cab for about an hour. not when these damn can drivers tell me (a) ser, out of the way po kayo (hello? i'm the passenger and i'm the one paying. out of the way ako?) (b) ay malayo (hello uli. so? i'm paying for the whole trip. is makati-abs really that malayo? come on (c) gagarahe na ako eh (at 630 in the evening? well, this one's possible but then again (d) may susunduin ako eh (magsundo ka na lang kaya for life (e) dagdagan mo na lang ng 50 (na ah, i'm paying twice. no way jose) (f) ma traffic dun (is there any other place in metro manila that has no traffic?

kainis.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

back in LA

toxic.

arrived late saturday after our flight from manila was delayed for a couple of hours. the moment we all got settled in, the announcement from the plane's PA system blared, "Thank you for your patience. We apologize for the delay. We had mechanical problems."

yes, it was that blunt. that upfront. and it was not the nicest thing to hear when you're inside a plane. 'you mean it had mechanical problems? what sort of mechanical problems? did it have something to do with the wheels? the machine?'. that was just plain paranoia for me.

had a good flight, though.

the following day was our christmas party. had to drop by target to buy my $30 gift for the gift-grabbing. hahaha. my bad streak on these things continue. git a good one i liked at first but someone grabbed it (hate you michael!) and the next one i opened i didn't like as much (sorry, malou!). it was a cork screw set. i'm not really a wine drinker so i can't use it as much. oh well. recycle ko na lang. hahaha. joke.


just like last year, we trooped to urth cafe after the party for some tea and three-layer cheesecake. yum. i had a honey latte medium and it kept me awake till 4ish in the morning.

we had a planning conference scheduled at 9 so i was pretty much screwed.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

typhoon, earthquake & a coup attempt: all in a week's work

the past week (and the preceding one as well) has been very hectic, very toxic, and quite frankly, unbelievably busy.

since i arrived, i've covered a number of conferences: the 2nd international medical tourism conference; the 20th philippine advertising congress; the 6th asian network of major cities meeting; the first inter-parliamentary global meeting on hiv/aids; the launching of a unicef book on women and children displaced by armed conflict in the philippines, and a slew of others. whew.

also during the same period, i weathered a couple of typhoons, one super typhoon (which, thank god, made lihis. hahaha. anong english ng lihis?), an earthquake (i was at sofitel covering an event, the mayor of kuala lumpur was delivering a speech when the earth shook. i later learned that sofitel is on reclaimed land, that's why we really felt the quake. i immediately looked out (hello manila bay!) to see if a tsunami was on its way.

then last week, my friend antonio decided that he was tired of languishing in his jail. kinda. so he walked out of the makati court, asked people to join them and took over manila pen. wow. posh! couldn't he have chosen a lesser one? say city garden or best western? no. it had to be manila peninsula.

i tried to go, since i was just a few blocks away (we had a meeting, first on dela rosa, then by paseo de roxas) but the police has barricaded ayala and makati avenues.


one of our reporters made it early there, so she was able to get some nice shots while the whole she bang was going on. on the police's third attempt to ask the civilians, including the media men, to get the f*ck out of the place, she left, along with a handful of reporters and apparently, faeldon as well.

that was one of the reasons puno cited as he justified the "processing" and "arrest" of the reporters, they were asked to leave and they didn't, ergo, they were unwitting collaborators. my soon-to-be-lawyer friend that that is not possible. well.

the freaking peso is down, down, down. 41! we're back to the late 90s rate. shoot. my colleague who earns in dollars mockingly asked me to go back since every single time i go back to manila for the past three years or so, the peso would just drop. i'm beginning to believe him. when i arrived two weeks ago, it was at 43 something. last week, i had some dollars exchanged at 42.20. yesterday, it closed at 41 something. not happy.

not happy at all...

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Liveblogging the 20th Philippine Ad Congress

It's actually Day 3 and I just found out that there's free wi-fi at the plenary hall. It's kinda dark though, and I can't see my letters. Hahaha. Some guy is talking about the Cannes Lions Awards and I am way at the back, charging my laptop because the battery's juice is slowly draining.

Had a good breakfast earlier, sponsored by Lamoiyan, makers of Happe toothpaste. Some singers from GMA's Pinoy Pop Superstars performed but I only remembered onename - Brena n Espartinez (simple because he was part of Sine'skwela many, many years ago. my goodness he's grown. and he sings R&Bish pa, although he missed a few notes earlier. kumanta ba naman ng "Rock With You" at 8 in the morning.

Last night was great, food and music-wise. The Dawn, The Company, Nolyn Cabahug and John Lesaca. Dinner was sponsored by Solar Power. They're doing something great, actually. Not good for cable but great for free TV. Starting next year, they will be showing the current season of shows such as Heroes, Prison Break, Nip/Tuck (my favorites!) on Channel 9. Yes, hurrah, free TV!

Lunch yesterday was sponsored by Philippine Star. They're now claiming that they are the top newspaper in the land, and they have facts to boost their claim. Apparently, 47% of the total print advertisers advertise with them, Inquirer has 37 and Manila Bulletin has 16. Edu Manzano hosted the lunch, with Francis Magalona and Parokya ni Edgar proving the entertainment. They raffled off two brand new cars! Not bad.

Jollibee sponsored yesterday's breakfast, and Sarah Geronimo sang while we all ate our longganizas and ham omelettes. The night before, we went to the Yacht Club and caught Hale performing to a quite lukewarm audience. I was telling my colleague that they were probably depressed by Hale's songs. They're not really the banda-type you know, like Bamboo or even Rivermaya. Had a quickie with Champ. Hahaha. It was a threesome with Shaui though.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Super Long Day (and How I Lost One Saturday)

I’m flying to Manila today.

A couple of weeks ago, my boss finalized my trip to Manila. He was going there ahead of me. The initial plan was for me to leave New York Friday, stay over for one night in LA, then leave for Manila the following day.

Since I moved to the Big Apple, I have not seen any of my friends, and that has been two months. I’m missing them already. Altogether now, awwww. They even announced it to all our other friends, saying that I will be in LA, one night only.

However, the moment BB arrived in Manila, he called me up and told me that I needed to fly to Manila on Friday, so that I can arrive on Sunday. A meeting with some clients in Batangas has been arranged.

So this morning, while I was on my way to the airport – my layover in LA will be a mere three hours or less - I get a call from my BB’s assistant. She told me that the appointment has been cancelled and that we’ll just meet the following Monday.


I texted my brother to tell him that I am arriving but unfortunately he has not responded. It’s past midnight in Manila, they’re all probably asleep.

I have an hour or so to kill at the JFK airport so I am typing this. I don’t have T-Mobile HotSpot anymore so I cannot post this, which means that I can probably post it in two days.

I’m a wee bit excited to see my family and friends again. Not as excited as I was during my past trips home. What can I say, I left my heart in New York.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

friday five

1. Where is the nearest playground slide? just outside the apartment there's a middle school, and there's a huge playground, with a slide, some monkey bars and a few see-saws and swings.
2. What’s something you recently let slide? my co-workers' daily reports. i think i just cut them some slack. for now.
3. Who recently let slide something you did? my mom, for something i did not do.
4. Where is the nearest water slide? i need to google this. well, who knew? it's the Great Wolf Lodge in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains.
5. When did you last slide down a pole, a rope, or an embankment? three years ago on the slopes of big bear, california.

Have a great Friday, everyone.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

apologize

for the past few months, one song has been playing on my mind over and over again, and i have not grown tired listening to it, not one bit.

it's called apologize by one republic, and lately, a lot of versions have been sprouting all over the web. i like the one with timbaland and david choi's version on youtube.

here's the video of the original, i think.



favorite lines: I'd take another chance, take a fall/Take a shot for you and I loved you with a fire red/Now it's turning blue. hahaha. getting emo and senti...

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

deja vu

i was roused out of my much-needed sleep around 5:30 this morning when our fire alarm went off. i thought at first it was just my cell's alarm but i realized when i was fully awake that it was much louder.

i rushed out of bed and checked out where the alarm was coming. i opened our door to see my neighbors doing just the same. we called our building's emergency after-hours number, which apparently is not located in the same city, probably not even in the same state. with the alarm blaring, the lady on the other end of the line took her sweet time, she asked for my name, my last name (how do you spell that sir?), my contact number (is this a cell phone or a landline?) and some other stuff i was so tempted to snap at her. thank god i didn't see any smoke. i would've barked at her like crazy.

my housemate called the guardhouse and he told us to evacuate. which we did, in less than two minutes. passport, wallet, phone, ipod, some cash, keys, a bottle of water. check. a few steps away from our door, i retreated. i forgot something. my camera.

it was breezing cold, maybe low 30s, and together with some neighbors i haven't seen ever, we waited by the curbside as the firemen and paramedics arrived. after about ten minutes, they asked us to go back in.

since our adrenaline was pumped up, and it was around 6ish by this point, there was no reason to go back to sleep. roomie cooked breakfast, i cooked rice and for the first time in months, we had rice for breakfast.

this episode reminded me of london last year, when around 3 or 4 in the morning, the fire alarm at the hotel we were staying in went off and there was smoke in the hallways. we were evacuated and stayed outside for almost an hour. the culprit? some guy went to the common pantry and microwaved pizza. instead of 2 minutes, investigators say he probably keyed in more zeros than needed. as fate would have it, his drunken ass fell asleep.

this time, the alarm was caused by someone who was cooking breakfast. they burned whatever they were cooking, and instead of opening the windows, they opened the door, smoke and heat escaped and went through the hallways, setting of the entire building's alarm.

how did i find out? the lady who was asking me all the details earlier called back. she asked how we were doing and told us what happened.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

depressing story

good morning. hate to open the week with the story of marianeth amper, the kid who committed suicide. i have been getting reactions about that.

this morning, i got a call from a very concerned woman. i thought she just wanted to express her thoughts and opinions on the matter so i suggested that she write something about it. she's more interested however in finding out more about the family. she wants to help them.

which brings me to yet another reaction. a reader called and told me, well complained is more like it, that news shows from the philippines basically highlighted this child's suicide and that as responsible media people, they should not have allowed its airing on primetime tv because a lot of children who are also dirt poor would be able to watch the story in its entirety and give them an idea that committing suicide could mean getting their 15 minutes of fame (nakita sa tv!) and on top of that, the outpouring of support from the mayor to the businessmen and now even an office worker from new york wants to help them out.

i wanted to argue but i saw his point. did the news broadcasts pretty much encourage kid suicide when they incorporated in their stories the financial help and support that the family is going to receive? in a young child's mind, wouldn't that be enough motivation to commit suicide and sacrifice their lives for their families to reap the benefits? i told him that as responsible media, we (i felt i was being alluded to as well, since the story was on our front page) were just doing our jobs and we owe it to the readers to give them the news, good or bad.

edited to add: to make matters worse, some camps want to prove that the poor kid really committed suicide, and was not a victim of foul play. her body was exhumed and an autopsy will be done.

please, let the kid rest in peace. she's been through a lot despite her very tender age and she probably thought that the only way out of poverty was for her to take her own life.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

autumn in new york

having lived in the west coast for almost 10 years, i never had the opportunity to watch the leaves of trees turn from green to various shades of yellow, red and orange.

this was the reason why i was so excited when i saw the trees outside my apartment change its colors. i also love some of the trees in central park, whose leaves have turned bright yellow.

fallen leaves, autumn 2007

just outside my apartment building

central park, fall 2007



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Saturday, November 10, 2007

broadway goes dark

my college friend and i decided to meet up today to do some catching up.

i suggested an afternoon broadway matinee. she agreed and we decided to meet at the tkts booth for some discounted tickets. on my way there, i saw some things that were not supposed to be there: i.e. news vans on every other street, picket lines, demonstrators, the works. then i realized, broadway's stagehands are on strike.

these are the people we don't get to see because they are the ones who run the show. people have been talking about it for weeks, months even, but i didn't think it would happen this week. yes, long-planned and long-threatened strike by stagehands became a reality and thousands of theater-goers were left holding tickets to shows that shut down. i saw a young girl on the verge of tears as her parents consoled her. they probably spent a lot for the trip to new york and the tickets and when they got to the theater, all they saw was a bunch of people marching.

tough luck.

so we walked 10 blocks to columbus circle to grab some food at whole foods. our lunch was alright, well, it was good actually. healthy good. had some chicken tikka masala, basmati rice and some vegetables and my friend had fruits, grilled chicken and some leaves. hahaha.

after lunch, we walked towards central park and stayed for a while, just people-watching. i called one of our college-mates and asked if he could join us. he was kinda sick but since we haven't seen each other in a year (my friend and he has not seen each other for 10 years!) he obliged. we decided to meet up at the west village.

in a little less than 30 minutes, we were there. we looked around, window-shopped and i made a very nice discovery: over at bath and body works, i am a big fan of bigelow products, specially their lip balms (and with this weather we're having, lip balms are God's blessings!). imagine my surprise to find out that their original apothecary is in manhattan and we happened to just stumbled into it.

it was nothing fancy. it was probably how apothecaries of yore looked like. this one was established in the 1800s so you can imagine how old and rustic and nice it is. it was like stepping into an old era. i've only read about apothecaries in books so i was excited to be in one, and the bigelow apothecary at that.

few blocks down we hit nyu, then washington square park, then saw this quaint little cafe in the heart of greenwich village. it's also old and rustic so i was naturally drawn. it's called cafe reggio, the "home of the original cappuccino". of course we ordered the house special, mine with chocolate toppings and my friend, cinnamon. it was heaven. it was that good. i've had great cappuccinos before, from milk on beverly blvd to urth caffe in west hollywood but this one was really god-damn good. perfect for the weather outside.

after a few sips, a called and was asking where we were. in a few minutes, he was there and what followed was almost two hours of catching up with stories both sad and happy. we promised to meet again in the future as we bade each other goodbye. a had to go to a "meeting". sure.


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friday five

1. What’s something that’s hanging from your ceiling?
a small chandelier, if i may call it that.
2. What’s something that’s hanging on your wall?
now, nothing. a few months ago, i had a painting hanging on my bedroom wall. a picturesque scenery of some villa in italy.
3. What’s something that’s hanging in your closet?
a skeleton. hahaha. pants, sweaters, coats.
4. What’s hanging from your rear-view mirror? (for those without cars, what’s something hanging from the rear-view mirror of a car you’ve recently ridden in?)
a rosary.
5. What have you been hanging onto for too long?
hope that relationships last more than they should.

friday 5.
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Monday, November 05, 2007

Hating heroes. For now.

It has been six or seven episodes and I’m still as confused as ever.

It’s taking them this long to somehow explain things and tie some of the loose ends before everything goes awry. Where do I even start? How about Hiro being stuck in the past, Peter Petrelli fast-forwarding to the future and just plain chaos in the present?

I have so many questions my brain’s beginning to ache a little.

Among them: how did Kensei manage to self-heal (like Claire)? I thought that there was no duplication of power (maybe it was just me). So West knows how to fly like Nathan. Mica’s cousin is a copycat, like Peter who can “absorb” powers. What is Mama Petrelli’s power?

The exposition is taking so long things are becoming too complicated. What about the twins? One kills and the other one saves? How did Sylar end up somewhere in Mexico, conveniently along the path of the twins? Who is Kristin bell’s daddy? Is she a baddie? After appearing for five minutes a couple of episodes ago, I haven’t seen her again.

I’m also hating the fact that they took the amnesia route with Peter. Why? As I read somewhere, amnesia is the lazy writer’s shortcut to things. “So how do we explain what happened?” Lazy writer: “I know, I know. Let’s give the character amnesia.” Hate.

The latest episode just aired. Biggest WTF moment: Kensei became Adam? Huwaaaaaaaat?

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Friday, November 02, 2007

friday five

1. If you were on a game show and could phone a friend for help, who would your lifelines be for sports, arts & music, literature, history and geography, and science?
sports - jojo p. he knows a ton about sports, some of which he plays, some he watches and a few he wishes to master.
arts & music - arts would have to be rach, my friend who went with me to the different museums in london and even edinburgh. music would be abe because he has a very eclectic taste in music that we even went to different CD stores in hongkong, including those that sold bootleg.
literature - noel because as a published author, he surely knows about the written word.
history - jeff, his being a diplomat would come to play here.
geography - daniel, who else. he finished his ba and ma in geography and is working on his phd, i think. back in college, we would tease him: what's your course again? "geog". private joke.
science - ivy because she knows her science. period.
2. When you need someone with muscles to help you with a task, who’s the first one you call?
glen. hahaha.
3. When you need some creative help with ideas for a project, who’s the first person you call?
nels, then nickee and imo. in order.
4. When you have a moral dilemma and need advice, on whom do you rely most?
i will ask: what would jesus say/do?
5. When you need to know the best way to get somewhere, which of your directionally-gifted friends do you call upon first?
jojo. take 2!

Friday 5.
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richard davis

and since we're talking about some of the stuff i write about, here's one of them. link's also from the inquirer, which picked the story up.

who is richard davis, you might ask. he is a young fil-am soldier, born to a caucasian dad and a filipina mom. after arriving from an assignment in iraq, he and his friends celebrated. hours later, he was murdered.

his story so compelled paul haggis, the genius who wrote million dollar baby and crash, both oscar winners, to do a movie based on this fil-am soldier's mysterious death. he called it "in the valley of elah" and it starred tommy lee jones and susan sarandon.

the story is very special to me because it hit close to home.

richard thomas ong davis was a distant relative. i went to his wake, his funeral and the succeeding family events in his remembrance. i was doing balitang america four years ago but i begged off from doing the story for the newscast.

his mom, auntie remy is a very strong woman. and so is his dad lanny. at first, i was surprised to find out that they agreed to having this movie fictionalize their son's death. it did not make any sense to me because it would just open old wounds, which it really did, but when i talked to them, i realized that they just wanted to hold onto something that would tell parts of their murdered son's story. even if that meant revisiting and rewatching his ordeal, and his last few hours alive.

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heyz seeker

Inquirer.net picked up my story on Heyz Seeker.

Fil-Am Captures Army’s ‘Soldier of the Year’ Award

By Momar G. Visaya
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 10:10pm (Mla time) 10/22/2007

NEW YORK – A soldier of Filipino descent emerged victorious at the recently concluded 2007 Best Warrior Competition held Oct. 1-5 at Fort Lee, Virginia and was declared the Department of Army’s Soldier of the Year.

Spc. Heyz T. Seeker, who represented the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, won the grueling competition after competing with 12 other soldiers in tests of physical fitness and military skills ranging from marksmanship to first aid.

“It’s still sinking in. I was really overwhelmed at first,” Spc. Seeker told the Asian Journal in a telephone interview Thursday, Oct 11.


The 35-year-old soldier is stationed at the Hunger Army Airfield in Georgia with the 75th Ranger Regiment. While he listed Grover, California as his hometown, his family is now based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

He was born to Filipino parents in Atascadero, Calif., and grew up in Grover. His father died when he was two years old and his mother remarried when he was 10.

“I only know stuff about my father through pictures and the stories that my mother used to tell me,” Seeker said.

His mother, Maxima Voelker, is from Bohol, which he describes as a “small and beautiful island in the Visayas”. Seeker’s first and only trip to the Philippines was when he was 15.

Spc. Seeker recognizes the fact that with this win, he is now in a different position. “This is an honorable position to be in and there’s a lot of weight on my shoulders now,” he admitted.

“My mission now is to promote the army and I will go out there to tell the army story. I plan to reach out to the struggling inner-city youth and tell them my story. I am a testament to what the army has given me,” Seeker said.

His Goal

Spc. Seeker is the first in his family to become an Army Ranger, and has said that his ambition is to become the first Filipino sergeant major of the Army, the Army's top enlisted rank. He grew up hearing stories of how both his father and stepfather had fought in World War II.

Spc. Seeker said three deployments to Afghanistan and one to Iraq helped prepare him for the competition.

“I love the Army, and I love living a structured life," he said. “I'm all about paving the way, leading the way and being the first at something. I was the first in my family to be a ranger, and I'd like to one day become the first Filipino sergeant major of the Army."

Asked about what he considers as his favorite part in the five-day competition, Seeker replied, “It has to be the first day of the competition, when we had to go before the board. I had to concentrate and focus on it and afterwards, I was pretty confident that I did well. I felt like a winner.”

His fathers’ footsteps

When he joined the Army in 1991, Spc. Seeker was following in the footsteps of his two fathers who were both World War II veterans. In his first enlistment, Spc. Seeker became a forward observer artilleryman and when he transferred to the National Guard in 1995, he was an armored crewman.

When he enlisted again in 2004, he signed up as an infantryman. During his second round of basic training, he raised his hand to apply for the Ranger Indoctrination Program.

Now an airborne Ranger, Spc. Seeker is looking to be the best in the Army through this competition.

Fierce

U.S. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada congratulated Spc. Seeker of Las Vegas for being recognized with the Army’s Top Soldier award.

“I congratulate, Specialist Seeker, for being named the Army’s Top Soldier,” said Reid. “While I am proud of all of our men and women in uniform, Specialist Seeker's exemplary service honors the country and honors Nevada.”

Spc. Seeker was selected as the best of 26 competitors representing 13 U.S. Army major commands, after a fierce battery of physical and mental tests. The results were based on his performance in simulated urban combat drills, battle drills, physical fitness tests, and written examinations.

Seeker and 11 other soldiers competed for the title of Department of the Army Best Warrior. The 12 Soldiers and an additional 12 non-commissioned officers spent a week at Fort Lee, competing in events such as the board, land navigation and warrior tasks.

The winners were announced Oct. 8 at the Association of the United States Army convention in Washington, DC. (AJ)

Culinary arts

Throughout his military career, Spc. Seeker has also kept an interest in the culinary arts, according to a news release from the Army’s Public Affairs Office.

For about six years between his Army enlistments, Spc. Seeker was a sushi chef apprentice in San Diego. Oddly, he never considered becoming a food service specialist for the Army.

"I wanted to roll around in a tank or become a Ranger," he said.

He's putting off his goal of opening up a sushi bar until he retires from the Army. In the meantime, he's focused on making his two deceased fathers proud.

"And I want to set an example for my kids so they can serve their country too," he said.

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zambian chronicle

i covered the clinton global initiative's third annual meeting in new york city last september. i blogged about it, well, about one of the sidelights, which was seeing brad pitt and angelina jolie in person and listening to her speak.

anyhow, a friend forwarded to me a link to zambian chronicle, a blog, which i presume chronicles the events in zambia. in it was an article which i wrote.

it was titled "World Leaders Attend Clinton Global Initiative As Levy Urges The West To Redeem Themselves". i had to make a second look. i knew i wrote about world leaders attending the meeting but the "As Levy Urges the West..." part i do not remember writing.

what's going on?

so i read through the entire article. (disclosure: i don't normally read whatever i wrote once it gets to see print or gets published because i get hurt (literally) and my heart skips a bit or two every time i see a typo) with this one, i knew from the get go that i did not write the last five paragraphs that they (whoever) added.

i don't even know who levy was, until i read the whole thing, which i supposedly wrote.

i'm not raising a ruckus, but just for the record, i did not write the headline and the story's last five paragraphs as they appear in the link above.

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halloween in new york

i did not realize that halloween in new york would be that big. it was huge. an estimated two million people flocked to the village to witness what could very well be the biggest halloween parade in the world.

just how big? we were on W 4th and 6th Ave by 6 pm and people were already reserving their areas behind the barricades. the parade didn't actually start until about an hour and a half later, and two hours into the whole thing, i realized the end was not in sight. and we haven't had dinner yet.

we made our way out of the maddening crowd. the nypd closed the subway stations near the parade route so we had to walk about a mile (maybe an exaggeration but it felt like a mile, longer even) to the 7th and houston station.

all in all, it was a fun night. made even more fun by a surprise.

it was housemate miko's birthday. we're terrible housemates (heretofore will be shortened to HM/HMs when i talk about them) since we didn't even know that it was his birthday. i should have thought that the bottle of patron (my favorite tequila now. goodbye for good jose cuervo!) and the margarita mix by the kitchen counter were tell-tale signs. anyway, better late than never.

the HMs finished the entire bottle, swapping stories, both decent and not, legal and not. i'm not telling but probably another bottle of patron would do the trick.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

quickies

quick updates.

just got back from a four-day trip to the nation's capital, washington, dc. it was alright, although the first two days, i just stayed in my hotel room after all the conference sessions because of the rain.

i have tons of stuff to write, so hopefully, i can summon the energy later (tomorrow) to write. took the bus from the port authority to dc's union station. it was the express trip so it took a little over than four hours from dc to ny.

i have lots to blog about, too, including my new tv faves: dirty sexy money and pushing daisies. great shows. i missed some of my faves this week so i need to catch up.

and also high on my addiction list? pinoy big brother celebrity edition. hahaha. i don't have tfc (yet) here in ny because the cable company doesn't offer it but i really need to thank god for youtube. hehehe. and the good souls who continue to upload and upload despite abs-cbn relentlessly running after their asses, suspending accounts left and right.

i'm happy that jen and that other girl left. she's so noisy and palengkera. i don't like her. period. my faves? gabby (sp?) the race car driver; riza, will, victor and sige na nga, si ethel booba. that woman is funny.

case in point: she was pretending to be a fortune-teller, she took jon's hand and read his palm. she said, "i see it. there's a girl. her name started with letter m" as the housemates laughed. sensing an error, she said, "starting ba?". then someone said, "starts" and she just took it all in stride.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

nuclear winter

that's how people are describing the collection of brushfires that are now burning all over southern california, from tecate near mexico to santa barbara, 200 miles north. the multi-million dollar mansions in malibu, including some historic landmarks are not being spared.

while browsing the news, i saw this -


photo from flickr

also read that some areas near stevenson ranch are in danger. i have friends who live there and i am praying that the fires be put out soon so that no more damage to life, limb and property will be inflicted.


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Sunday, October 07, 2007

guilty pleasure/s

i have a confession to make. hahaha. (and i am so making it a big deal)

for the past three weeks, this was what greeted me everytime i passed by times square.



that's one of probably ten billboards in mid-town Manhattan alone promoting gossip girl just before fall season started three weeks ago. out of curiosity, i recorded the show (TiVo is a God-send) and it stayed there for about a week. i was tinkering with the remote one time and i came across the recording. i played it while doing my laundry and what do you know, it got me hooked.

it's a show about high school kids - and i really thought that The OC (at least the first 2 seasons) was my last juvenile favorite, apparently i was so wrong - and the setting is New York. Yay.

Speaking of NY, there's also a new show which i am watching because i am such a big fan of Peter Krause (back when he was still doing Sports Night, then of course, who could forget, his great portrayal of Nate in Six Feet Under, and now this) and it's called Dirty Sexy Money and its location is also the city.

my take on the current season, in a nutshell...

Heroes. What can I say? I'm still a big fan. I don't know if I a liking Hiro stuck in the 1600s but I was so glad to see David Anders (Sark!) on the show. He was a great badass on Alias and he's providing comedic support to Hiro. Hahaha. What a statement.
Milo is also back, with an amnesia. I was hoping they wouldn't go this route, but after last season's explosion, he probably disintegrated and it took a while before he regenerated his body, like what happened to Claire when she cut one of her toes. Ouch. I am looking forward to seeing Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars) soon.

Ugly Betty is back, and I am loving it. There's a lot of goings on, and like the season finale, it had a lot of stuff to cover - the prison escape, the accident, the death of Justin's father, a lot more - that weren't thoroughly covered in the premiere. It's also showing that Betty's not too straight-up and her character is a bit flawed, which is good. She's not just a caricature.

Grey's Anatomy. I still white Meredith's whining but I think I hate her sister's (half-) character more. I didn't really like Izzie and George hooking up last season but I have no choice, I am just a viewer. Kawawa naman si Callie. McDreamy's getting old and I'm happy that he's regaining his friendship with McSteamy after what had happened. Burke's gone (bye!) and Dr. Yang's not showing any emotion after the non-wedding last season.

Desperate Housewives. Despite the brouhaha, I think i'm still going to watch this show. ABC has issued an apology but Fil-Ams apparently want more. I'm doing yet another story on that as I covered the rally some Fil-Am groups staged at the ABC office on Columbus Ave. (Upper West Side) last Friday. One of NYC's city council members joined the rally and delivered a really strong message. Anyhow, I am not liking the Bree I-am-pregnant charade.

What else do I watch? Top Chef. sometimes CSI. Prison Break (I'm getting tired, though).

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Friday, October 05, 2007

moving on

abc has apologized. fil-ams don't think a one-paragraph apology is enough. the online petition has reached more than 85,000 signatories.

it's time to move on. we asked for an apology, they gave it. they included more, such as editing the offending part and not including it in any other platform (i.e. dvd) where it would appear (including re-runs). it is time to move on.

but apparently, some people think some more things must be done. tonight i am covering the picket outside the ABC office in manhattan. let's see what happens.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

the heat is on...

wasting no time, the consul general of the philippine consulate in los angeles has issued a statement about the issue. kudos, congen aragon.


then this afternoon, ambassador willy gaa sent his statement. i think abc has issued a statement, according to our reporter who's on top of the whole issue.

i think it said,

“Desperate Housewives” publicist Chandler Hayes issued this statement on behalf of ABC.

"The producers of ‘Desperate Housewives’ and ABC Studios offer our sincere apologies for any offense caused by the brief reference in the season premiere. There was no intent to disparage the integrity of any aspect of the medical community in the Philippines. As leaders in broadcast diversity, we are committed to presenting sensitive and respectful images of all communities featured in our programs."






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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

signatory # 4540

someone forwarded this e-mail to me and i am reprinting it in full. thank you kevin nadal for jumpstarting this. this is regarding the desperate housewives episode last sunday, yes, the one with the unnecessary dialogue between teri hatcher's character and her gynecologist. i got it this morning and when i signed, i was signatory 4540. it's now at 6,000 as i write this.

shame on you marc cherry for greenlighting this script. shame on you abc for this insensitive episode.

Dear Kababayan and Allies:

I heard through the grapevine about a remark made on an episode of
"Desperate Housewives" last night. The scene entailed Teri Hatcher's
character (Susan) at a hospital, being told by her gynecologist that she
might be hitting menopause. Susan replied, "Can I just check those diplomas
because I just want to make sure that they are not from some med school in
the Philippines." If you go to abc.com, you watch the full episode and
witness the scene at about 18:50 minutes into the episode.

This type of derogatory remark is not only unnecessary and hurtful, but is
also unfounded, considering the presence of Filipinos and Filipino
Americans in the health care industry. Filipinos are the second largest
immigrant population in the United States, with many entering the U.S. and
passing their U.S. licensing boards as doctors, nurses, and medical
technicians. In fact, the Philippines produces more U.S. nurses than any
other country in the world. So, to belittle the education, experience, or
value of Filipino Americans in health care is disrespectful and plain and
simply ignorant.

As Filipino Americans, we need to band together to ensure that this type
of hateful message is not allowed to continue on our television and radio
airwaves. Given the recent amounts of media attention that has been given
to Michael Richards (against African Americans), Isaiah Washington (against
gays), and Rosie O'Donnell (against Asian/ Chinese Americans), it is
ridiculous that this type of hateful speech made it through various
screenwriters, the show's producers, the show's actors, and ABC itself.
Yet, this isn't the first time that negative remarks have been made about
the Philippines or Filipinos in the past. In recent years, we've heard one
too many "dogeater" comments by "comedian" Joan Rivers on the red carpet or
in her standup act, and I believe that it is about time that we stand up
for ourselves, so that this type of hateful speech never happens again.

Please join me in expressing your concern, disappointment, and/or disgust
to the producers of ABC.com. You can sign the petition at
http://www.petitiononline.com/FilABC/
or you can reach them directly at
abc7@abc.com .

And please feel free to forward this widely to other Filipinos/ Filipino
Americans/ Asian Americans/ and other allies.

Sincerely,

Kevin Nadal,
Filipino Performance Artist/ Activist
knadal@gmail.com



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Sunday, September 30, 2007

an attack on medical schools in the philippines?

i was happily watching the season premiere of desperate housewives a few minutes ago when teri hatcher's character susan mayer asked her substitute ob-gyne about his credentials jand diplomas to make sure that he's "not just from a medical school in the philippines".

funny? i didn't think not.

over-reacting? not a bit.

darn. that killed my excitement in watching the shows that are premiering today. yes, including brothers and sisters. but i'm going to watch anyway.


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Thursday, September 27, 2007

economic renaissance

that's what the philippines is experiencing right now, according to gloria macapagal-arroyo, who is in new york for the opening of the 62nd u.n. general assembly.

i covered her twice yesterday - first at the clinton global initiative opening where she was part of the morning plenary and the after-dinner coffee for community leaders in the east coast at the waldorf astoria.

she touted the country's unprecedented growth - the bullish stock market (which have reached record heights, she says), the strong peso (sorry na lang sa inyo, she says. yes, that what she really said. sorry na lang sa inyo. haha), and local and foreign investments amounting to billions and bilions of dollars. my goodness, that was dizzying!

outside the waldorf, a small group of protesters gathered. they denounced gloria's human rights violation record in the country, among other issues (corruption, killing of journalists, and the list goes on). their chants were drowned by the incessant blare of police cars sirens. there were a lot of street closures in midtown manhattan, and traffic was just crazy.

the highlight of my day?

gloria arroyo. not.

at the clinton global initiative, i got the opportunity to hear bill clinton speak. desmond tutu, yes, that bishop desmond tutu sounded very inspirational and funny. president hamid karzai had his funny moments too. al gore's still passionate about the environment. had he won - oh wait, he did win, the world would have been different. oh well, i guess we should all thank florida.

okay, the highlight/s, aside from seeing clinton. shakira! yes, she's here too, and she was part of the panel about teenage concerns. had a chance to talk a bit with petra nemcova (google it, just a little bit) without realizing who she was. brad pitt talked about how their foundation is helping new orleans.

for the longest time, i had been terribly unfair to her. i've been very supportive of her so-called nemesis (go team aniston!) but yesterday, i had a chance to hear her speak. i was mesmerized. i was charmed. i was lost. and now i'm found. haha.

she caught my gaze and returned it with a smile. i'm swooning.

last night i tendered my resignation as a member of team aniston (sorry jen!) and today, i'm a proud card-carrying member of team jolie! angelina jolie rocks!

she's beautiful, no question about it. i was two feet away from her and i was just in awe looking at her. then she opened her mouth, and outright i saw, i felt the sincerity in her efforts to help the children where there were conflicts before. she talked passionately about the need to help nine million children displaced by war.

she inspired me. and now i'm a fan.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

morit?

for some reason, they call the 15-seconder TVC 'morit'. in my dialect, it could mean crazy. here's the commercial i was talking about in the previous entry. kudos to bbdo guerrero. hope you guys win awards at the ad congress this november.



and here's a 30-seconder, called "faith healer" and a part of the campaign. not as much impact.



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not your usual...

when i was in manila last month, i saw one commercial that was just downright kick-ass funny. it was very creatively done. a few minutes ago, i saw this on youtube, probably a new version. hahaha. brilliant! they made it a campaign. i'll look for the first ad i watched.



i know the second to the last person personally, if i am not mistaken. i used to work with her in manila years ago. she's the daughter of deo fajardo, the quintessential kontrabida.


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Friday, September 21, 2007

one week. one week!

okay. so today marks my first week in the east coast. how was it?

well, it was a bit easier than i thought. the hard part, as i've been complaining about, is the adjustment on time. the first four nights saw me sleeping between 3 and 5 am. that's bad. so on the fifth night, i felt a tad sleepy around 8, i took the opportunity to catch some ZZZs. i woke up the following day at 6 am. which is so not me. i freaked out. me waking up at 6 am is not good. it's not natural. it's going against how nature intended it to be.

but how many times have i actually gone against how natere really intended things to be? exactly!

the past couple of days have been okay. i finished five stories for the paper. i'm working on another five. today's our first issue by the way. hehehe. if you're in new york or new jersey, be sure to pick up a copy of our maiden issue here in the east coast! hope it was all worth the wait.

maybe that was one of the reasons why i wasn't able to sleep early/well during the first four days. i was anxious about the first issue. maybe. or yeah, probably, it's science's way of telling me that my body clock was already attune to the california lifestyle. too bad.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

what's wrong with god-damned?

i was probably one of the happiest people last night when sally field won as best actress for my fave show brothers and sisters. she delivered a very good speech, but somehow, somewhere, she was f**king bleeped? why? who knows?

maybe because she voiced her anti-war sentiments? because she said god-damned?

“If mothers ruled the world, there wouldn’t be any god -” she said when the sound went dead and the camera suddenly turned away from the stage so viewers would be distracted. Chopped off were the words “god-damned wars in the first place.” (The phrase was not censored in the Canadian telecast.)




i'm also happy that america ferrera won for ugly betty, katherin heigl for grey's anatomy. the rest? couldn't care less.

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major adjustments

whew. i've been remiss again, but what can i do? i've been having major life adjustments.

the time zone's killing me. for almost a decade, i've lived in california, so pretty much, my body clock has been stuck on pacific time. now that i'm in the east coast, my body clock still screams LA, and for the past three nights, i have been sleeping way past 3 am. last night was probably one of the worst, i slept around 5 am!

that shouldn't be a surprise though, since 3 am is just 12 midnight in LA, and 5 am is just 2. but what can i do? i don't do catnaps anymore (unless there's a drive involved, like yesterday when we had to drive around 45 miles to old bridge township to attend/cover a wake. i slept halfway through the trip. don't worry, i wasn't the one driving. hahaha).

this morning, i had to force myself to wake up at 9, since i had plenty of phone calls to do. i brewed coffee, the strongest possible, to wake me up. i think that helped. i've lined up my things to do and on top of that list is to unpack, then fix my stuff then do my laundry. all my stuff are strewn all over the apartment it's almost unbelievable. thing is, this apartment is just temporary, because we're moving to a new place come november.

hah! just the thought of me packing and unpacking again makes me weak. and yeah, i had some bruises from the moving. yup, me, who never get bruised. ever. two on my left arm and one on my right. they look nasty.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

south bend, indiana

this is day 03 of the great american road trip.

we're staying at the quality hotel and suites in south bend, indiana, a university/college town. quality hotel has become the official residence of this road trip. hehehe. with less than a hundred bucks per night, plus comfy beds and really fluffy pillows, plus breakfast and wi-fi pa, what more could you ask for?

we left nebraska early this morning, passed through iowa, then illinois. we've covered more than 2,000 miles already and we have more than 700 to go! we'll probably in new york by evening tomorrow, with god's help. we were supposed to take the 'lower' route from utah but then again, humberto manifested himself and became a full-blown hurricane. we would've been stuck in kansas or somewhere in oklahoma if we pushed through with what AAA suggested. thank god for the weather channel.

it's 230 am, eastern time. lost another hour, and now i'm a full 3 hours ahead of california. i need to get some sleep...


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Thursday, September 13, 2007

north platte, nebraska

Day 2 of the New York road trip was fun and visually arresting.

left utah around 9 am. gained one hour since we were already on mountain time. had late lunch around 2 pm in glenwood springs, a sleepy town an hour away from aspen. it was a looong drive traversing the state of colorado and it was about 8 hours later when we crossed the border to nebraska. a couple of hours later, we stopped for late dinner in north platte, nebraska.

gained another hour. so we're on central time now.

two of my friends from work called and told me that they're already missing me. sigh. i am missing them too. but we all need to move on, right? literally and otherwise.


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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

cedar city, utah

the great american road trip is on!

after a lunch meeting in chinatown, we were off. this was around 1:30 pm.

seven hours later, we were in this small town in utah called cedar city. checked in a fairly decent quality inn by the freeway. $71 with AAA card. dinner at teriyaki stix along main street (very American!), $20. finally getting a decent amount of sleep, priceless.

or maybe not. spent two hours shredding and shredding old documents and bills. yup, i brought them all, and since i had no more time to do the shredding in LA, i am doing it during this road trip. and since utah is one hour ahead, i sorta "lost" an hour already. it's actually 1 am and i am quite sleepy. but i can't sleep yet...

even if my body aches like crazy. the past week has been crazy, very crazy.

i began packing about 10 days ago, putting my stuff in small bags, boxes, paper bags, any container. i've also been having lunches/dinners/coffees with my friends who have been so wonderful to me. then over the weekend, my bosses asked if i could join the trip to vegas for the wowowee event (oh no, not again!).

i couldn't say no, despite plenty of reasons i had. among them the fact that i haven't exactly packed all my stuff, and the three days lost would be, well, three days lost. and i wasn't exactly in the mood for a vegas road trip because i was already doing a new york road trip. and a friend of mine scheduled a sorta farewell party (on the side of a bigger party, a friend's birthday).

the opportunity to travel with a couple of friends beckoned because i know that it would probably take years before it would happen again. sigh. and a lot of my co-workers were also joining us. (the office rented a 15-seater van!)

the thought that i was leaving los angeles began to sink in on our way back. then i felt pangs of pain...

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

off to new york on 9/11

i find it eerie that i am officially moving to the big apple today, september 11, of all days.

nope, it wasn't planned at all. in fact, i was supposed to fly but when i found out that there was a possibility for me to enjoy the 3-night, 4-day road trip, i did not hesitate. i asked my bosses if it would be possible for me to just take the drive, rather than the flight. obviously, they agreed.

the fact that i am leaving los angeles didn't really sink in until a couple of days ago. i felt pangs of pain when i looked at my soon to be former room, now almost bare, with bags and boxes representing all that i have accumulated for the past 7 to 8 years. at first, i couldn't seem to accept the fact that i was able to literally box those past years of my life.

by friday, i'll have a new life.

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Friday, September 07, 2007

hello new york!

in a couple of days, i'm going to be officially an ex-californian. hehehe.

i've always imagined what life would be like in new york city. i've been there more than twenty times in the past eight years or so, but it never really crossed my mind that i would be working and living in what some as the greatest city on earth. there were moments though, when i would pause and think if i could survive the fast-paced life that the big apple has to offer.

until around may this year when the offer fell on my lap. like manna from heaven. i thought about it long and hard, and with a bit of trepidation, i agreed.

come tuesday, i will be embarking on an adventure of a lifetime.

it will begin with the drive, the really long drive. i had an option to fly but the opportunity presented itself. a van will bring my stuff (tons of it, accumulated through the years) to new york. the drive will literally be coast to coast, cross-country: the great american road trip! suffice to say, i am quite excited.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

adios los angeles

I am bidding goodbye to a city I never thought I'd love as hard as I did, to a city I never liked in the beginning, to a city that was my home for the past eight years. Goodbye, LA. It has been fun.

I'm going to miss a lot of stuff: my apartment on Hyperion Ave (the bomb!), my desk at work, my friends, relatives, co-workers; Sanamluang (!), Red Corner Asia, Thai BBQ, Full House, Pho Cafe on Sunset, Rene Cafe, 7th and Fig, Macy's Plaza, The Grove, Pampas, Coffee Bean on Hillhurst, Starbucks on Prospect, Albertson's, Point Point Vermont, Bahay Kubo, Jollibee on Beverly, Cha Cha Cha, Alcove, Milk, Urth (Melrose and Beverly Hills), pinkberry, Vista, MTA 26... my tears are welling up. Kidding.

When I moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles back in '99, I was apprehensive. I had relatives in SoCal but that was it. LA for me was so sprawling and the people, a bit cold...actor and model wanna-bees, waiting for their time to shine, or their discoverers.

Through the years, LA grew on me. I fell in love with the city as I learned more about it. It's not hard to fall for LA and it's no wonder that millions keep on moving to this great city.

For me, I think I've served my time. This is the longest I have stayed in one place, in one city. I will leave my heart in LA, but I have to move on...

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

contradictions

my friendly co-workers from our manila office gave this shirt to me as a gift when i celebrated my 23rd birthday (hahaha, can't even type it with a straight face) recently. what the shirt says is right on a couple of different levels.

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

survivor

to all those who prayed for the speedy recovery of my niece jianne, who was hospitalized for stage 2 dengue last month when i was in manila, thanks a lot. your prayers helped. here she is, some pounds lighter, and a couple of weeks after she was discharged.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

bruhaa brouhaha

she calls it "acerbic wit". i call it "tasteless".

i hope it's not too late to jump into the malu fernandez-bashing bandwagon. hehehe. i was actually content with just reading all the blogs that talked about this nasty woman's writing (seriously, she gives lifestyle writers a really bad rep) but in the last two days, i told myself, i need to give in my .02 cents worth. hence this.

first up. who the hell is malu fernandez anyway?

apparently, she's a lifestyle writer of both manila standard today (yes, that's the official name of the newspaper after the merger of manila standard and today years ago) and people asia, a glossy magazine. in the magazine's june issue, she wrote a sorry excuse of an article about her travel to boracay and greece, and along the way, maligned every single overseas filipino worker on the planet.

i have no idea as to who took notice first but the article spread like wildfire, and faster than you can say malu, everyone was already crucifying her for her vicious description of OFWs in the middle east.

malu fernandez. her name's all over the internet now. not convinced? well...

Tingog.com | Malu Fernandez, Manila Standard Today, Bigotry In The Media
When do we say enough is enough and that we will no longer stand for the bigotry and discrimination that takes place, not only in this country but all around the world?

Manuel L Quezon III | Mala Malu, Nuestra Senora de la Matapobre
One’s valor is never diminishe
d by one’s courtesy. But of Mala Malu and her que asco columns, I think I’ve found a word our elders would have thought fitted her to a “t”: a more cursi set of opinions would be hard to find.

Maruism - The Devil Wears Jo Malone

The devil wears Jo Malone and not only that . . . she carries Louis Vuitton bag too!

ederic@cyberspace - Malu Fernandez
Kung sakaling makasalubong ninyo o makasakay saa economy class si Malu, pakibigyan na lang ng gas mask. Baka mabahuan siya sa mga anakpawis na tulad natin. Kung ayaw tanggapin, bigyan ng blade–yung may kalawang.

Selvo - Mahaderang Matapobre sa OFWs
I seldom come across articles that bring my blood pressure up to a record high. This article by Malu Fernandez has led me to set a new personal record. To say that this is “nakakakunsumi” is an understatement of the highest degree.

just a sampling. there are hundreds, probably thousands more out there. wow. ofw power!

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

stress times three

i just had my most stress-related travel/airline woes story!

i should have known from the traffic jam that morning that things were not turning out as i would have wanted. first up, super shuttle picked me up 50 minutes later than what they told me. (full disclosure: the lady at the reservations told me that my waiting time was between 8:05 to 9:30 am. that should have made me think. the range is just too broad. when i called up around 830, they said my pick up time was between 9"05 to 9:30, which made better sense). the shuttle dropped me off at terminal 6. continental airlines.

at the curbside check=in, i gave my itinerary to the guy in charge. then he told me that he couldn't find my name in the system. he asked me to try inside. so i did. quickly. there was a long queue. when it was my turn, i punched in my trip number, my itinerary, my last name,to no avail. i was not in the system. panic set in. i checked the lower half of my e-ticket and saw continental airlines. i looked at the upper half and looked for a sign. something.

then i saw it, staring at me, mocking me.

delta confirmation number. how could i miss that? i wasn't flying continental. i was flying delta! panic set in again. i was lunging around 2 50-pound luggage, plus my hand-carry, and i needed to go to the delta terminal. time was running out.

thankfully, i made it to the delta terminal in time. first stressful moment over.

my flight had a connection in cincinnati. when we landed, i checked the monitors to find out my next gate. next to my flight was a flashing word i dreaded. delayed. still, i proceeded to the gate. my flight has been moved from 6 something to 755. when 755 almost came, they said that it was further delayed to 955. when 955 came, they said it was further delayed to 1155. there was a pattern somewhere. i didn't want to spend the night in some airport in ohio. i was stressing again. shortly past midnight, our flight left cincinnati. second stressful moment over.

i arrived shortly after 2 am. made a beeline to the baggage claim and i was pleasantly surprised to see one of my luggage already waiting for me. for a while, my idea that my third stressful moment would be finding out that my luggage didn't make it to new york was quashed. my luggage was here. well, at least one of them was. i waited until the last freaking bag was removed on the carousel.

weary, sleepy and bordering on angry, i marched towards the baggage office. i told them my story: i checked in two pieces of luggage, one arrived and the other one is missing. how the f*ck did this happen? (minus the f*cked part) they checked and checked. when they couldn't come up with something, they asked me to check it out at the delta airlines terminal. (the cincinnati flight was a code-share with continental airlines, hence my assumption that i was flying continetal all throughout)

i asked my co-worker who picked me up to bring me to delta terminal. there i saw volumes and volumes of luggage, and no official in site. i was getting frustrated. we returned to continental airlines. the guy who helped me earlier gave me a number to call, and told me i didn't need to fall in line anymore. he advised me to just go home, get some sleep and call the number first thing in the morning. stressful moment number three, definitely not yet over.

bottomline: my other luggage was indeed with delta. why? nobody could tell me. we had to return to the airport the next day to pick it up. thank god that the materials i needed for the weekend's expo in secaucus were in the luggage that i have. the missing one had my clothes and most of my stuff.

there it was, my blue luggage. airline officials have no explanation as to why this one didn't arrive and the other one did.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

back in LA, off to NY

arrived in los angeles late last night after a 13-hour flight with some minor delays. (saw sarah geronimo and her mom at the mabuhay lounge. they were with someone who i thought looked very, very familiar.) got out of immigration/customs almost around 10. baggage was already waiting for me. for some reason, eight flights arrived within the 20-minute period that our flight arrived so the lines at the immigration was really, really long, considering they had almost 15 counters open.

and as the title says, i'm off to new york as well. i haven't totally recovered from the jet lag and i'm off to a city that's three hours ahead. talk about screwing my body clock. why not. complaining? na-ah. swear!

we're joining the philippine fiesta in new jersey. piolo and pops are going to be the featured guests for the event. this is the biggest fil-am celebration in the east coast, and where there are fil-ams, we're there. hahaha. bad copy. bad.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

food tripping in the lion city

i must have gained at least 10 pounds from all the food i ate in singapore. damn! i never realized that their food is really, really good. i have newfound respect for the chicken rice lah. it's so flavorful. i'm still the biggest fan of teh tarik this side of town. imagine my extreme jopy when i found out that the hotel buffet had teh tarik! goodness, i must have downed five liters just that night. and the coffee buns? kaya toast? laksa? my list can go on and on and on.

here's the chicken rice (the chicken part, at least) from my mum's cuisine,
a restaurant inside paragon.


and my teh tarik? patiently made by this guy. he already knew me because of the sheer number of times i went to his booth to ask for some cups of teh tarik. teh tarik. teh tarik.


i can't wait to go back to singapore to have more of their food from the hawker stalls, from various kopi tiams or even from their malls' food courts.

i can't also wait to go back to LA to continue my search for teh tarik there. actually, buti pa sa pilipinas, may kopi roti sila, which makes delicious teh tarik as well. plus the yummy coffee buns and kaya toast. my mom loves them too!

heard (and read) that kopi roti originated form singapore. i searched high and low but i couldn't find a single branch back there. my friend told me that they may have closed down a few months ago since it was just a fad. there's one i saw at the underwater world in sentosa and it's called roti mama. i wonder if this is related to the roti mum in megamall.

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Friday, July 27, 2007

greetings from singapore!

i'm updating my blog from a cybercafe along orchard road. irealized i wasn't able to bring with me my contact lens solution so i walked a couple of blocks from my hotel to the nearest convenience store to see if there are any contact lens solutions for sale. they only have eyedrops. which means i won't be wearing my contacts tomorrow.

but i found a cyber cafe, and it's $1 for every 15 minutes, $4 per hour. i didn't bring my laptop so computer access from my hotel room is out of the question.

had a hearty dinner earlier - everything singaporean. i consumed like five liters of teh tarik and come durian. it's the singapore food festival. who knew? hehehe.

will be back in manila in 3 days. i probably won't have time to update...

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Monday, July 23, 2007

palawan, again

and no, i am not complaining.

i'm beginning to really fall in love with palawan. after my coron/busuanga experience last year, i was very excited to venture into this trip to puerto princesa, where we visited, amopng others, different islands of honda bay, the vietnamese village and the nooks and crannies of puerto princesa city.

sample? here's the beach which is right within the entrance of the st. paul's underground river, which is so breath-takingly beautiful.




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Monday, July 16, 2007

friends, roman...friends

i slipped quietly in town (yes, manila) a few days ago. what? no announcements? no fuss?

well, my friends in manila seem to be not that excited anymore everytime i announce (this year, thrice already) that i'll be in town. so i decided to just be hush hush about it.

anyhow, it's been kind of a mixed-emotions type of feeling these days. it's good to be home again and i am happy but i couldn't be as happy as i would have wanted because my youngest niece is in the hospital. :(

i've been in and out of the hospital in the past 3 days visiting her and showing my support. i really, really pray for her to get well soon. it's devastating to hear her cry in pain as doctors and nurses take her blood every six hours and shift her IV from the left to the right every single day. the times i was in her hospital room, i wished that if i hasd the power, i'd rather that she doesn't go through this pain, that if i need to take all those pain for her, i would, no question.

she's 5 years old, in the first grade and a stage 2 dengue patient. she probably got that pesky mosquito bite from her school, or from the playground. definitely not from their home because my brother and his wife are very particular about mosquitoes. but at this point, it doesn't really matter as to where she was when bitten by the freaking mosquito.

for now, i can curse all the mosquitoes i want but it won't undo what has happened. at this point, all i can really do is pray.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

milo + fergie = hotness



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mayor v 'fesses up

less than a month after he admitted to the public his separation from his wife of 20 years, our mayor from los angeles, antonio villaraigosa admitted yesterday that he has a relationship with Telemundo (an NBC-owned network) anchor Mirthala Salinas.

Mayor V told reporters, "I have a relationship with Ms. (Mirthala) Salinas, and I take full responsibility for my actions."

Villaraigosa and Salinas wait out a pause in filming on the north steps of the state Capitol. Salinas is now a news anchor on Telemundo 52. (Robert Durell / LAT)

what's up with these big city mayors? first was new york's rudy giuliani, who had a very public feud with his wife when she found out that he was having uh, extra-curricular activities. then san francisco's gavin newsom was forced to admit a couple of months ago that he was carrying an affair with his best friend's wife.

and now this?

i covered much of mayor villaraigosa's political career, specially his oath-taking at the city hall back in 2005. his win was deemed historic because for the first time in decades, a hispanic man won the mayoralty post of the city of los angeles.

reading about him back then made me admire him. he triumphed over adversity because he was raised by a single mom who worked double- triple- jobs just to make ends meet. and when he married his wife, he took her last name too. back then, he was just antonio villar. his wife was corina raigosa. when they got married, it became villaraigosa. isn't that just sweet?

and now this?

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independence day

it's the 4th of july! yay!

i can't believe i slept 16 hours! after a super duper hectic slash emotional slash stressful day yesterday, i dropped by a resto to buy my dinner. to go, please. i was planning to have my dinner away from it all.

so i got home around 7ish. put the boxed dinner on the dining table. left my messenger bag by the couch. went up to my room. turned on the tv and the computer. the bed looked so inviting. i sat down, then i lied. responded to a couple of text messages asking me to go out (it's a holiday! people are going out! let's drink!). i asked for a rain-check.

i woke up 8 hours later, at 3 in the fucking morning, with the tv blaring with infomercials and the computer playing songs from my iTunes. my eyes were aching. i slept with my contacts on. went to the restroom and saw my blood-shot eyes. damn, this is not good.

i realized that i just woke up. was it time for breakfast? at 3 am? i decided to crawl under the sheets and call it a night. who cares. it was an almost-eight hour cycle when i woke up around 11.

i feel better. then i thought about yesterday's mayhem and my blood began to boil. not again.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

ssss

that's the department of homeland security's code for "selected for secondary security screening" and i was SSSSd not once, but twice in my recent trip to nyc.

first up was burbank. we were running late so i thought that the reason why we were asked to be screened thoroughly was because of that. i noticed the "ssss" printed at the bottom of my boarding pass. obviously, we (myself, m and l, the indonesian guy) were the last to board because of it.

then yesterday, at jfk, on our way back to LA. there were 7 of us (don't ask why) and all of us were SSSSd. burbank was more strict as they really swabbed all the stuff in my handcarry and put my lipgloss and hand sanitizer inside a ziplock. jfk was alright, they didn't swab all my stuff but they really *really* patted me. it's like i've never really been patted like that before. i had no belt and the guy patting me asked me to unbutton my pants. huwaaaaat?

were we on a list?

yahoo has the answers.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

blogging from the big apple

and yes, i am back in new york city. i really heart ny for multiple reasons, top of which is the atmosphere. and no, i am not talking about the sometimes putrid (hah! haven't used that one in ages) smell when one passes through a mountain of black trash bags strewn all over the sidewalks. i'm talking about the feel, the vibe of the city that can never be matched by any other city in the entire united states. hahaha. i can't believe i'm actually typing (and saying this).

i've been here since thursday. our wednesday night flight (red eye!) was cancelled because of "weather disturbance" so we flew thursday morning. arrived in the afternoon, well around 7ish, after a slightly terrible flight and a hard landing. bree van de camp's son, andrew (hahaha. sue me, i don't remember his screen name) was seated 3 rows away from me. i was seated beside a couple who was travelling with their dog. lady was reviewing a script with the title "the happening." cute couple. cuter dog.

i just googled "the happening". and guess what?

it's a movie! and m night shyamalan is doing it. wow. and could the young lady who sat beside me be zooey deschanel? probably. i don't remember much of her face. but i got the hollywood vibe from her. the i'm-semi-famous-but-i-still-ride-jetblue-because-i'm-cool vibe. yeah, she's cool.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

rated B

while bloghopping, i came across a site where one can check the places in the philippines that s/he has visited. i ticked all the places i've been to and what do you know, i was rated B. hehehe.


My Lakbayan grade is B!

How much of the Philippines have you visited? Find out atLakbayan!

Created by Eugene Villar.

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hawking french cafe

in south korea. ladies and gentlemen, wentworth miller.



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Monday, May 28, 2007

neglected but not forgotten

okay, guilty as charged. i've been terribly busy the past few days that this is all i can do: write an apologetic post. i should be teeming with stories (i am) but i am not. why? i have no time to compose my thoughts to translate them into something readable. i haven't been able to do it for work, much more here.

in a nutshell: i've been covering a lot of stuff, travelling on the side. last last weekend's northern luzon caper was for the books. i almost got carsick, staying inside the car from manila to pangasinan so la union to baguio (one day) then from baguio to vigan to laoag (second day) and from laoag to batac to vigan to pangasinan to tarlac then to manila (third day). unbelievable. my body's still aching from all the tagtag. hah!

and it's not over yet.

i'm off to nasugbu, batangas tomorrow to cover a site visit to sm investment corporation's hamilo coast. it's a multi-billion dollar eco-tourism project that hopes to bring more and more tourists to the philippines.

i attended the launch this evening at the 1 esplanade near the mall of asia and i must say i'm quite impressed. i hope i'd be as impressed tomorrow when i get up close and personal with nasugbu's majestic views.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

time to take these off

and time to clean the surroundings, too. this one's taken at fuente osmena, the famous cebu city landmark.

everything's over but the counting. it was generally a peaceful elections. honest? i'm not quite sure. foreign observers say that they saw sample ballots with money attached (stapled?). wow.

i'm not sure as to how many more weeks are needed for them to properly count all the votes. so far, it really seems like it is a referendum on gloria arroyo's presidency since her anointed ones are not making it to the winners' circle? or are losing or have already lost.

oh well. we just need to be vigilant to protect the votes of the people.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

it's election day!

in the philippines, that is. to my friends here, please don't forget to vote and vote wisely. pakisingit lang po, migz zubiri! hahaha. at prspero pichay, itanim sa senado! seriously, i hope that the voters elect the right people. i've been in the campaign trail for about two weeks now and i've seen some of the candidates'"other" sides, not necessarily their evil sides but different from what they show to the people.

i just got back from cebu a couple of days ago to cover team unity's miting de avance at the fuente osmena. the last time i was in cebu was for the 2005 ad congress. i heart cebu as well. heheheh. just like my other fave cities, it's all about the food. hahaha.

grilled blue marlin @ chika-an sa cebu, a nice casual dining place near the waterfront hotel in lahug.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

food tripping in Mindanao

i heart mindanao. i really do. i love cagayan de oro city to bits. i adore camiguin. i am awed by bukidnon. i'm fascinated with siargao. i'm intrigued by dapitan. i could actually live here.

food is one of the reasons i love mindanao. the variety of fruits available - from durian to mangosteen to marang to grapefruit is nothing short of amazing. during this trip, i tried the local delicacies such as the paklay (mindanao version of papaitan), balbacua (beef skin and oxtail soup similar to the mexican menudo, only much, much tastier). oh my goodness, lami kaayo.

in a farm somewhere in manticao, misamis oriental, our host served what could very well be the best meal i had during this entire trip. and that is no exaggeration.

prawns and crabs cooked together in this lovely dish our hosts call 'alavar,' from the famous alavar seafood house in zamboanga years ago. apparently, they were business partners before and they "invented" this very, very delicious dish.

our host's server got two big banana leaves, laid it on the table and placed the food there. there's broiled tuna and some other fish, tinolang fish (very tasty, specially since they only cooked the fish heads, ulo-ulo), iligan lechon (which, i didn't realize was as yummy as cebu lechon. you can eat it without the liver sauce). grilled squid, vegetable salad. except for the lechon, everything was home-cooked.

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on the campaign trail

nope, i did not come all the way to mindanao to campaign for team unity's senatorial candidates. i was invited to cover their mindanao caravan, observe how the well-oiled political machinery of the administration works and mingle with thousands of mindanaoans very eager to meet and talk with the candidates.

took some pics. such as this.

by the roadside in Iligan City, on our way to Cagayan de Oro. Durian - 75 pesos per kilo.



yum. so sinfully rich. some say smelly. i don't agree.

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