San Nicolas and Santa Teresita: Historic and Folkloric Notes about some of its Barrios

Exploring forgotten stories about the barrios of San Nicolas and Santa Teresita.

Balandis: the Slanted Houses Along a Road in Cuenca/Alitagtag

Exploring this quaint area in Cuenca and Alitagtag where the houses are slanted away from the road.

Mataasnakahoy: Historical and Folkloric Trivia about some of Its Barrios

Revisiting obscure barrio histories of the barrios of the Municipality of Mataasnakahoy.

An Old Tourist Spot in Taal Called the Pansipit Fishery

A throwback to a by-gone era, when tourists around Luzon visited this resort in Taal and Lemery.

The Hitchhiker who Gets on at the Zigzag in Cuenca Batangas Lipa

A tall tale familiar to all who drive through this curving road in Cuenca. Is it really a tall tale, though?

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31 July 2012

DLSL Alumnus in Focus: Atty. Johween Atienza, M.D.


Eighty per cent as lawyer, he says; and the remaining twenty per cent as doctor. Those of you who are still in school and cannot wait to get out, spare a thought for this remarkable individual who spent no less than twenty-five years of his life in school studying.

Johween Atienza is from the high school class of 1991. He calls himself an authentic Batangueño, having been born and reared in the small municipality of San Jose just fifteen or so minutes away from Lipa.

30 July 2012

PNoy, Noli de Castro and Dignity

True, Noli de Castro as anchor of TV Patrol does once in a while let fly an unscripted side comment that is undeniably a barb planted on side of the Aquino administration. Yes, there were occasions when I myself had wondered at the wisdom of such ad libs given that de Castro himself used to be very highly placed in government.

For the President to criticize the anchor – albeit no names were mentioned, but duh – on the occasion of TV Patrol’s silver jubilee celebrations last Friday at the Manila Hotel was, however, probably the height of poor taste.

28 July 2012

Carmela Punzalan-Garcia: the Power in Being a Teacher

Although teaching ultimately was a fun and fulfilling career, there were niggly little things about it that I felt could have gone better. One of these was the fact that there were frustratingly few students who went into teaching as a career from among the thousands that I taught; and from the top sections, you probably need just the fingers of one hand.

It was not, however, as though I did not know why. It was not a phenomenon that was unique to the school where I used to work. Teaching was – and still is, in this country – not a financially rewarding career; and so was seldom top of the list of bright-eyed fresh high school graduates seeking their paths into the world of adults.

26 July 2012

The Filipino Side of David Alaba


Now – I can imagine – the more or less expectable reaction to the title for somebody who is not into football will – naturally – be “David Who?” That will be David Alaba, of Nigerian-Filipino parentage, originally from Vienna, plays for the German Bundesliga giant Bayern München and represents Austria in international football.

Now, they do say that it is a small world, don’t they? As things would happen, Mark Lester Padua – a former player of mine who currently lives in Vienna – just happens to live in the same neighbourhood as Alaba.

25 July 2012

Tyrone del Rosario: the Other Side of Being a Policeman

We can all be forgiven, seeing as we do all these nasty reports about policemen each and every night on the news, that all cops are crooked. What the news shows seldom – if ever – show us is the other side of being a policeman: the cop who goes about his daily business as is expected of a public servant.

Tyrone del Rosario of the high school class of 1994 was not my student. Around the time that he graduated, I was teaching only one or two sections and had gone more and more into administrative work.

The Aremuhunan Culture of Batangas


Aremuhunan. I’m not even sure that there is a direct English translation for that quaint little word. I used to hear my Mom say the word a lot – repeat, a LOT – in the old days and never really understood it to mean one thing.

I have read before that the word is a Batangueño expression, although I’m not too sure about that. Although my Mom was from Nasugbu, and Nasugbu is still very much part of Batangas, she was always the first to say that our forebears were actually migrants from the neighbouring province of Cavite.

24 July 2012

Normando Carandang Jr.: Captain Fant-Istik and Life as a Seaman

In high school, he was tall and reed thin; not at all unlike a stick. He was in my History class as well as my football team, to which I brought from my college varsity team this silly tradition of giving players monikers. For him, I thought Istik would be perfect. The ‘nick’ stuck, I suppose. When he sends me text messages, each contains the text signature ‘Styx’ which is a glamorized version of the original.

This is Normando Carandang Jr. that I am talking about, from the high school class of 1987. His mother Letty was my co-teacher; and although retired will be fondly remembered to this day by many alumni and alumnae as one of the Filipino teachers.

23 July 2012

Working with Cora Abansi

Work in whatever circumstance is always more productive if you are with agreeable people who share the same ideals that you have. That was why, working with Cora Abansi in top management made my job so much easier; and I would like to think that I made her job easier as well.

For five years, I was in charge of our school’s administrative operations; while Cora was head of the academic side. She pretty much left administrative matters to me; as I left academic matters to her. We enjoyed a working relationship characterized by trust and mutual respect.

22 July 2012

The American Brother who was Inhospitable to Guests from DLSL

Arnold Capuloy and I at the Office of the President, St. Mary's College of California.

In the previous decade, the school where I used to work enjoyed a great partnership with the St. Mary’s College (SMC) of California, a school similarly run by the Christian Brothers in the United States. The American school would annually sponsor immersion visits of administrators from my school for them to learn best practices which, it was hoped, could be applied when they returned.

In return, the American school would, when it needed to, send across its own faculty and students to conduct training seminars or learn about the school system in the Philippines. The exchange program was initiated through the efforts of the late Br. Rafael Donato and his good friend Br. Brendan Madden, who used to be assigned to the Philippine Province but was then a member of SMC’s administrative and teaching staff.

20 July 2012

Jerome Gotango: Wanted Law; Got IT

Well, we all know what they say about the best-laid plans. Sometimes they can go completely awry. Other times, fate just gives us a little nudge to take us someplace a little different from where we originally wanted to go. That is the joy of the ride, I guess; a.k.a. the twists and turns that life can sometimes bring.

Jerome Gotangco of the high school class of 1991 is now an innovative I.T. practitioner. He was, in 2007, one of the co-founding members of Morphlabs, a company that develops I.T. solutions for private entities using the principles of cloud computing.

19 July 2012

How to Defeat China in an Armed Conflict

Before you proceed, let me warn you that everything that you read from this point on is very much tongue-in-cheek.

With the diplomatic standoff with China hogging the news each and every frigging night, I suppose every Filipino at one time or another has reflected on the possibility of a shooting war actually breaking out.

The Game When I Forgot About Tony

My high school team in season 1988-89 was probably the most powerful in the three decades that I coached football teams. The team the previous year played more attractively; but this 1989 team had more physically robust players and could play either technical attacking football or, if the occasion dictated it, an ugly counterattacking style.

Its defence was second to none. The central defensive partnership of the towering Jerry Acosta and the wily Jonathan Casas was telepathic. The two wingbacks, Neil Cuenca and Erik Carbonilla, were both uncompromising and feisty little characters.

17 July 2012

Women Whose Smoking Was Hardcore

Those of my generation – and probably many who are a bit younger – would have known a woman or two in the old days who smoked their cigarettes in the most peculiar way. Probably a wise old lavandera with a dark wrinkled face who kept the cigarette in her mouth while she washed the clothes in the batyâ.

Those were foul-smelling filter-less cigarettes that those women smoked. Ladicha, Magkaibigan and La Campana are some brands that I can still recall. I don’t even know if they still manufacture those.

16 July 2012

Roy Cosico: DLSL Alumnus at Doctor Without Borders



Imagine a daily life of waking up earlier than the roosters to be on the road to Lipa for a two-hour drive just to attend school. Then, because the road does not really get any shorter for the drive back home, getting home each night when most classmates would have been enjoying a post-meal chat with the family or watching primetime television.

This was the daily grind that Roy Cosico – and others from the city of San Pablo who opted to get a Lasallian education – of the high school class of 1992 had to live with back in the late eighties and early nineties. “It was physically and mentally exhausting!” Roy describes the daily routine. “Furthermore, I could not stay in the campus after class as long as I wanted. Otherwise, I would have been left by the school service.”

Killed by Lightning

Perhaps it is just that the networks have drastically improved their regional reporting; but there has seemingly been an unusual number of individuals struck and killed by lightning since the current rainy season started. Just now on the regional news, one 16-year old boy was killed and three companions were hospitalized after being struck by lightning in Nagcarlan in Laguna.

“Nangingisay na pô at sumusuka ng dugô,” one of the survivors described his companions after the lightning strike. He was able to cry out for help; and although they were all some distance off-road, fortunately his cries were heard and others came to help.

14 July 2012

Rachelle Dumadapat-Ocampo: Not a Boring Life at All!

You might have noticed that it is people who are a little short in quality or intelligence who like to throw their weight about; as if it is the only way that they can win respect from those around them. The ones of real quality and, therefore, have nothing to prove just let their work speak for itself and remain invariably simple and unaffected.

Typically, although Rachelle agreed when I asked if I could write about her, she also said that she felt her life has been boring. Said, of course, with not just a hint of incredulity; and, again, typically self-effacing. The truth is, however, it has been anything but.

12 July 2012

Oibos and the Etymology of a Batangueño Word

After having started and procrastinated for the better part of almost two years on another of my web projects, The Salitang Batangas Project, for some reason I got interested in it again last week. The site seemed so abjectly under-designed that I added some widgets just to spruce it up.

I also added what Facebook calls a Like Box; and to do that you have to set up a Facebook Page. So, I did. Now, putting up that page has really been a blessing of sorts these past few days. Keeping it updated has been fun, especially as the page is linked with a Twitter account.

11 July 2012

Timi Alcala-Stoop: the Dreamer, the Writer

Timi Alcala-Stoop. Wife, mother, teacher, writer, multimedia designer, artist. Add to that the fact that she has added Dutch to the languages that she speaks apart from the Tagalog and English that it is more or less taken for granted most Filipinos are comfortable with. If somebody tried hard enough, she can also probably be coaxed to speak Visayan.

I have known Timi all the way back to her high school days, of course; when she used to sit in my History class. She was among those in her class blessed with good looks; pretty in a voluptuous way with almond-shaped eyes that smiled at everyone. More than just a face, Timi was among her class’ most eloquent. She spoke fluently and beautifully in both English and Tagalog; and she could also write from the soul.

10 July 2012

Tropical Depression’s Papadom: An Incredible Journey


Mention the name Dominic Gamboa to me and my mind immediately flies back in time to this one day in 1983. It was my first year as a teacher; and I was about to enter this classroom unimaginatively named B-203. What greeted me was something that still makes my eyes gleam with humour up till the present day.

Domeng, as he was universally known in school then, was chasing after his tomboyish classmate Arsenia Castillo to giver her a punch in the face. I was horrified that a guy would want to punch a girl; never mind that the latter hardly deserved the term in those days. Domeng’s reply when accosted made me almost want to roll on the floor in laughter.

The EDSA Yellow Lane Bedlam

Why I am even concerned, I do not really know. But to just look at news footages of EDSA gridlocked in traffic with vehicles moving along at a snail’s pace was absolutely painful. Frankly, who would want to live in the Big City?

For the benefit of those who do not monitor the news, the MMDA is currently strictly implementing the yellow lane law. That buses ought to stay inside the lane is an old law, Atty. Francis Tolentino of the MMDA was quick to fend off questions from TV Patrol anchor Noli de Castro.

08 July 2012

PBB Teens: Myrtle Win Predictable

So, cos-player Myrtle was formally acclaimed as Season 4 PBB Teens Big Winner last Saturday in the show’s finale held in Malolos. That she was going to win it was, perhaps, given away by the voting trends revealed in the show’s previous eviction nights.

If memory serves me right – and I must have missed only an episode or two of the late night edition – neither Roy nor twins Jai and Joj were ever nominated. In retrospect, this was always going to work against them.

06 July 2012

Know NOAH for Hazard and Risk Decisions

The National Operational Assessment of Hazards or NOAH was launched yesterday to assist local government units and other decision makers in times of impending adverse weather and floods. The system is based on Google Maps upon which can be superimposed information about weather-related concerns.

Ordinary citizens may also access the system for even the mundane decision of bringing an umbrella or not. This post is a pictorial tutorial on the use of the system.

The Perfect Pinindot

Life is indeed a never-ending learning experience. All my life, if somebody said pinindot, I would conjure an image in my mind of this local delicacy that is basically little balls of glutinous rice – malagkit, in other words – and tapioca – sago, pina-soci in English – cooked with a delicate balance of sugar and a pinch of salt in coconut milk.

I have seen variants with langkâ, ube or camote. These have never worked for me. I have always liked my pinindot plain. I am also quite picky about the thickness of the gatâ. Too thin and it does not work for me. Too thick and I am asking for trouble.

04 July 2012

Remembering PAF’s Awesome Blue Diamonds

The last couple of weeks or so have been peculiar for me as well as for others here in Lipa because we have been seeing so many planes flying around the city in formation. After all these years, I have still not lost my fascination for planes. So, I still peek out the window when they pass just to the west of the house right after take-off.

Where I live is practically in line with the runway inside Fernando Air Base. Hence, the planes are still quite low when they pass by. Sometimes, they pass right over my roof. The noise is a bit annoying especially when I am watching something on television; but no more than that.

The Class of 1991: From Juniors to Seniors

Although I worked seven years in discipline, I only handled junior high school for one school year. All the other years, I was in charge of the seniors.

It was summer of 1989; and one of the new Brothers assigned to the school had asked to handle discipline for the incoming class of seniors.

03 July 2012

Suspending Classes in Adverse Weather

Whoever can develop a fail-safe system for the announcement of the suspension of classes during adverse weather has to be immediately declared National Hero. The weather system overnight was a mere LPA not even given a real name but for the code 96W.

Although nowhere near as destructive as the infamous Ondoy, the LPA nonetheless poured significant amounts of rain as it crossed the country from the Western Pacific today. You would think that since we all live along typhoon alley that we would have figured out solutions to weather-related concerns a long time ago.

02 July 2012

Euro 2012: Spain, Kings of Europe and the World

Cesare Prandelli, coach of Italy, felt that his team lacked freshness in the aftermath of a 0-4 hiding at the hands of Spain in what was the final of Euro 2012, no less. Indeed, even Spain’s mere one day advantage in rest would have weighed on players who had had to play two competitive matches in a week for almost a month.

But that was not really it... Simply stated, Italy was steamrolled by what is undeniably the best national football team of the present day.

01 July 2012

FIFA Course an Experience of a Lifetime

I realized last week that my FIFA coaching certificate was still in the possession of the school where I used to work. I asked to get it back from the HR Department and now it is in my possession. I received the certificate for completion of a coaching course that was given by the international football federation as far back as 1988.

The event was well-covered by the media at the time that it was held; but it has been so long since that except for a small circle of football aficionados it has been all but forgotten. That is why I write this piece while I still have recollections of it.