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.


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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?


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.


heyz seeker picked up my story on Heyz Seeker.

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

By Momar G. Visaya
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.


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.


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.


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.