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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29 December 2011

Sitting with Legends: B-306 of the DLSL High School Class of 1986

I have no fondness for attending reunions. For the average alumnus, the thrill of attending these events is partly to reconnect with former classmates and teachers and partly to physically reconnect with the old school.

27 December 2011

2012 AFC Challenge Cup: A Preview for the Philippines

The year 2012 promises to be another busy year for Philippine football and its national team. A series of friendly internationals and training matches are being arranged by the Philippine Football Federation for the national team, the purpose of which is to prepare the team for the much-awaited AFC Challenge Cup in March.

26 December 2011

Wada’s Pizzeria: A Reason to Visit Mataas-na-Kahoy

Although the municipality of Mataas-na-Kahoy is a mere three or four kilometres from where I live, over the last five decades, the number of times that I actually went there could at best be described as only sporadic. The reasons to go had just been few and far between; and it did not help that the town is out of the way from the perspective of my daily route to and from work.

21 December 2011

Filipinos and Filipinas in a Comparison of the Genders

This is by no means a scholarly article, although all the figures are from documents made public by the National Statistics Office through its web site at This article compares Filipinos to Filipinas in the areas of life expectancy; literacy and education; and employment.

18 December 2011

Batangueño Food Conundrum: Will the Real Tamales Please Stand Up!

The tamales as I knew it from my childhood.
I was just with my elder sister and her two kids when it suddenly occurred to me to ask if they had the time – and the gas – to go to Ibaan. For those not from these parts, Ibaan is a little town about 15 minutes south of Lipa City. I have been craving for some tamales, I said; and finding the right sort is not so easy in Lipa.

Philippines Typhoon Statistics

I was so mesmerized by the forecast track of the recent tropical system Sendong, internationally named Washi, that I undertook a little personal research to try to discover if there had been anything similar over the years. It is not unusual for Western Pacific storms to get as far west as Indo-China; but what I wanted to know was if any of these storms get as far as the Malay Peninsula at all.

There was one, I discovered, that wreaked havoc on the northern portion of the peninsula as recently as 2006. Sendong, unless it dissipates or changes course, was forecast to get farther south of the peninsula; and this is so, so unusual.

At any rate, one thing led to another while I was in the course of doing research about Western Pacific weather that I ended up discovering things I did not previously know. This post will be all about these discoveries.

15 December 2011

Neil Etheridge Makes Football History in the Europa League

Suffice it to say that any Filipino who saw Fulham FC’s regular starting goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer fall awkwardly while attempting to collect a high ball in last weekend’s Premiership match at Swansea City’s Liberty Stadium probably felt a skipping of the heartbeat – and only partially in sympathy at the obviously injured Fulham shot-stopper.

13 December 2011

Understanding Impeachment and the Justice Corona Case

Fascinating as the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona is in the House of Representatives in the satire that is, otherwise, known as Philippine politics, how many of us non-lawyers really comprehend what we are hearing about in the media?

10 December 2011

Air Force Wins 2011 UFL Cup in Fairy Tale Final

Perhaps, it is stretching the imagination a bit to even contemplate a comparison between Wembley Stadium and the Rizal Memorial on a cup final day. That said, the latter was every bit as dressed up for the occasion yesterday as Wembley traditionally is for the annual English Football Association end-of-season affair.

09 December 2011

DTI-CARP Product Exhibition at Robinson’s Lipa

If you are anywhere near Lipa until tomorrow, the 11th of December; and if you have the time and the inclination, why not pay a visit to a small product exhibition put together by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). The exhibition is at the rear end of Robinson’s Place close to the main parking lot.

08 December 2011

New Luminous Mysteries of the Holy Rosary

Among the most basic things that any Catholic boy learned when I was young, particularly in a school operated by nuns, was how to pray the Holy Rosary. The nuns were methodical. Students were first asked to memorize individual prayers. Among these, of course, were the Apostles’ Creed, the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be.

Some Basic Statistical Facts About Batangas

Batangas is a first class province in the Region IV-A of the Philippines, otherwise known as the CALABARZON (an acronym derived from the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon). It is the third most populous province in the region with 2,245,869, compared to Cavite with 2,856,765 and Laguna with 2,473,530 (all figures as of August 2007).

06 December 2011

David Beckham: It’s Complicated

Oh-em-gee, this can’t be! How in the world can this be happening???!!! I have actually started to like David Beckham!

05 December 2011

The Air Force Football Philosophy Earns a Cup Final

In early 1995, an Air Force football team filled with Philippine internationals underwent a training camp at Fernando Air Base for a couple of weeks. Since we were, for all intents and purposes, the only decent football team in the vicinity, we were invited to scrimmage against the team.

03 December 2011

Azkals and LA Galaxy Fulfill Night of Dreams

What a peculiar feeling watching your own national team being shredded to pieces and not really feeling upset about it. This sums up what, I suppose, everyone else was feeling on the aftermath of a rather humbling 1-6 defeat of the Azkals by the visiting LA Galaxy in what the marketing people dubbed the Dream Cup.

01 December 2011

The Ramgen Revilla Case and the Court of Public Opinion

It was fascinating, the other night, as a television news anchor interviewed Janelle Manahan, erstwhile girlfriend of the slain young starlet Ramgen Revilla, about what really happened inside the room that night when the starlet was murdered. Ramona Revilla, who had flown off to Europe to avoid the controversy, was in the room with her and Ramgen, Janelle tearfully narrated.

30 November 2011

Totoy Jiao: Batangueño Azkal Before Azkals Became Famous

His name is Jeremias Jiao. That is what his birth certificate says. The only way that I would call him by his given name, though, was if my own name was Abraham or Moses. Because it is not, I asked him for his nickname. At home, he told me, he was called Totoy.

28 November 2011

Fernando Air Base: Revisiting Childhood

Why is it that revisiting an old haunt always gives one the feeling that one has just stepped off a time machine? This was exactly how it felt last week as I walked the streets of the Base for the first time in several years.

Time, in a way, is like air. It is just there. You do not really see it as it flows through. Most of the time, you hardly even notice its passing; and especially if you are kept in something of a trance by life itself, with all the expectations and the responsibilities that it burdens most of us when we become adults.

25 November 2011

Taal Bistro: the Maliputo Alone Is Worth the Trip

Perhaps, the term bistro is a tad misleading. In the original French context, a bistro is a modest and unassuming dining place tucked away in a cosy little nook somewhere. A place that can seat 200 is neither modest nor unassuming, I daresay. Who knows? Maybe it started that way and just grew over the years to what it is today.

24 November 2011

1986: Random Recollections

Memory regrettably becomes hazy after 25 years. When Dinah called me up the other day asking for some features about the High School Class of 1986 in this blog, I immediately said yes. I did warn her, though, that recollecting things after all these years will not be a simple matter.

San Nicolas: View of Taal Lake With a Different Perspective

Ruins of the old St. Martin de Tours church in San Nicolas.

Because I have lived in Batangas practically all my life, I had always known that there was a place somewhere in the province that went by the name of San Nicolas. I just did not know where it was.

22 November 2011

Down Memory Lane at the Grand Dame That Is Taal

There is nothing more unkind to history than time itself. What history strives to preserve, time eventually wears away and replaces. It is when time is in the process of eroding something that man painstakingly built and history struggles to preserve that it is at its most cruel; for time takes no prisoners.

21 November 2011

Ereneo’s Café: A Gem of a Find

How was I to know that there exists a gem of a restaurant just 10 minutes drive from where I live and at most a half-hour from the city proper on a good day? The name of the restaurant is Ereneo’s Café. While former colleagues had apparently been there before, if any of them had seen fit to invite me, I probably had to be at the football field.

20 November 2011

How ROTC Got Me Into the Football Team

I was born into and raised in a military family. Dad was an officer in the Air Force; and yes, if he had his way, I or either of my two brothers would have ended up in the military as well.

In all honesty, although he might have dropped a word or two, he was probably less insistent with me than my older brother. He was always aware that I had an aversion to Math; and this he knew from experience was what I would have encountered a lot of had I shown any inclination.

19 November 2011

How the Raised Fist for the Alma Mater Song Started in Lipa

I was the one who brought the tradition to Lipa of beating the air with the fist during the singing of the alma mater song. No, I did not invent the tradition; and, yes, I do not even know how it originated or what it is supposed to mean.

18 November 2011

DLSL in the Eighties: Where Have the Years Gone?

The DLSL façade in the eighties.

If you were a senior in a school year sometime in the eighties, then you know the routine. If you were getting off a bus or jeepney from the west, then you waited till Mr. Pete Cuenca, who was probably directing traffic, flagged passing vehicles to a stop so that you might cross the highway over to the other side.

17 November 2011

How to Watch A Movie

Back in 1974 – and I was still a high school senior – I remember having decided against good sense to ask my frugal Mom for a few pesos so I could watch this blockbuster movie called “Magnum Force.” The movie starred a young Clint Eastwood in the role of the by-now legendary Dirty Harry. It was released in 1973; but this was Lipa, and Hollywood movies took time to arrive.

16 November 2011

The Arroyos, de Lima and a Potential Governmental Crisis

I have no interest whatsoever in former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s health predicament in the light of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s defiance of the Supreme Court ruling granting a Temporary Restraining Order on the implementation of the Hold Departure Order. From all indications, there is nothing immediately life threatening about the former President’s current state of health.

15 November 2011

Insights After the Azkals U-23 SEA Games Loss to Brunei

“I want to thank my teammates for their hard work. You know I will die for my country.” Thus tweeted Jason de Jong, who inherited the captain’s armband after Matthew Hartmann’s unceremonious departure, after last night’s numbing 1-2 loss to Brunei in the 2011 SEA Games football tournament.

I Thought the Pacquiao Win Over Marquez Was Fair

My haircut was just coming to an end when both my barber and I broke into wide grins as an old gentleman at the far end of the barbershop started loudly telling his own barber how people he was watching the bout with were largely dissatisfied with the way the Pacquiao-Marquez fight last Sunday turned out.

13 November 2011

Breakfast Classics: Ménage à trois with the Sinangag and Itlog

The age-old marriage between sinangag (fried rice) and pritong itlog (egg fried sunny side up) has always been, to my mind, the proverbial made-in-Heaven. In the old days, when there was nothing else inside the fridge, the two would suffice for breakfast; albeit, generously splattered with ketchup.

Azkals v Myanmar: Promise in a Losing Effort

There were, after last week’s shock loss of the Philippine Under-23 football team to Timor Leste in the 2011 SEA Games, some really over the top reactions by fans and pundits alike over the Internet. I wonder what the reactions will be after tonight’s deflating 0-5 loss to Myanmar, which eliminates whatever remote possibilities might have been lingering of our progressing to the semi-finals.

11 November 2011

Number 11 Beloya Wins Game for Azkals vs Laos on 11-11-11

What is is about the Philippine Under-23 football team that makes it something of a diesel engine; and that it does not seem to want to get started until late in a match? For the second straight game, the team played with purpose and urgency only as the minutes ticked away towards the final whistle.

10 November 2011

The Tikbalang Up the Acacia Tree!

by Francis Villapando

This story happened in 1991 inside the school grounds, just before our high school graduation.

I was a CAT officer then; and it was the student officers’ corps’ tradition to hold an overnight “training” or binyag to initiate upcoming CAT officers. During this overnight “training” we kind of did some weird stuff to our junior officers so that they would remember us for years to come.

09 November 2011

Seeing the PacMan Up Close

The sort of attention that the Pambansang Kamao can draw these days is nothing sort of amazing. Just on the news a while back, there was a huge crowd to welcome the PacMan as he and his entourage arrived in Vegas on board a special bus.

08 November 2011

Remembering Brother Greg

There was something surreal, the day the late Brother Gregory Refuerzo was laid to rest, about his coffin resting for prolonged moments in the middle of the square under bright sunlight for the simple reason that his coffin was too long to fit inside the concrete tomb that was prepared for him. Running repairs were made which, were it not for the severity of the occasion, almost looked comical if just for the reason that the funeral ritual could not be completed.

07 November 2011

What Losing to Timor Leste Tells Us

Philippine national football team coach Michael Weiss, in a pre-recorded interview aired just before kickoff late this afternoon, was careful to point out that the current U-23 playing in the SEA Games in Jakarta is still a work in progress. On the basis of the almost meek surrender to Timor Leste in the team’s second match of the tournament, I do not think that there is much in the way of options for all of us except to take his word as fact.

06 November 2011

Ian Araneta in an Air Force Jersey

Among the small luxuries that we who follow the beautiful game in this country can now enjoy is the chance to lounge on a lazy weekend afternoon and actually watch live local football matches on television. There was a double-header last Saturday; but it was the first match – between the Philippine Air Force and Manhur FC – that I was particularly interested in.

05 November 2011

Troubleshooting When a Computer System Goes Haywire

And you wonder why computer systems break down... Leave them alone and computers won’t even come to life – unless there is a pesky poltergeist in the room. But I am getting ahead of myself again...

03 November 2011

The Streets of Lipa City

The first thing that somebody who has not been to Lipa City for the longest time will notice is that the streets have become so congested. Alas, there is always a price to pay for progress; and vehicular traffic is always one of these. The road layout has not really changed; and it is impossible to get lost if one was born and raised in the city.

What Would You Do If Jesus Christ Played for Vietnam?

“What would you do if Jesus Christ came to Merseyside?” This was a sign that was posted outside a Liverpool church back in the sixties when Bill Shankly was still in charge and still only just starting to build the legend of what would later be one of the world’s most celebrated football clubs.

02 November 2011

Tikbalang Stories and Modernity

There was, the other week, this offbeat story in the local news about three boys who went missing for a few days then were mysteriously found somewhere miles away from home. Finally reunited with their families, the boys told the news crew how they went into the woods, lost their bearings and just wandered aimlessly till they did not know where they were anymore.

The PHL Under-23 Football Team for the SEAGames

The SEA Games football competition kicks off tomorrow with the opening game between the Philippines and Vietnam. As the luck of the draw would have it, the Philippines has been bracketed with what is now being referred to as the “Group of Hope.” Also in the group with the two countries are Timor Leste, Myanmar, Laos and Brunei.

31 October 2011

Philippine Experiments With Daylight Saving Time

Why do I have these hazy images inside my head of getting up from my bed in the dead of the night with the utmost reluctance, stumbling almost drunkenly to the bathroom to do my toilet and brave the chilly water that would inevitably spurt from the shower head and then hastily get dressed to be on the road to catch a bus to take me to Manila for another week of college?

28 October 2011

Undas, Undras and the Filipino-Mexican Connection

Bless Kuya Kim and the snippets of information he frequently gives us to go along with the next day’s weather forecast. Last night, one such snippet settled a little argument that I had been having with myself for about a week regarding the term undas, which we Filipinos generally use to refer to All Saints’ Day every first of November.

Those who have been following the news programs on television will know that in the past few days, there have been plenty of news clips on preparations being made by various sectors for the coming national holiday. Each and everyone of these programs refer to the holiday as undas.

27 October 2011

All Out Whatever; Bring Us Peace in Mindanao

For a change, I was actually nodding my head in agreement at a statement that the President was making on the television the other day regarding calls for an all-out war against the MILF. He was correct. Indeed, seldom do decisions made out of anger turn out to be the right ones. Decisions, he said, have to be levelheaded and based on facts. Agree wholeheartedly.

24 October 2011

Flashback 1994: Caught in a (Traffic) Jam in Lipa in 1994

The Ala (Salle) Eh! was a DLSL newsletter that started in the nineties.
[Funny what things one can find while foraging inside dusty cabinets. In the mid-nineties, I started writing, laying out and publishing a school newsletter called the Ala (Salle) Eh! Yesterday afternoon, I found a copy of one edition published in July of 1994. I had fun reading an editorial that I myself wrote complaining about the worsening traffic situation in the city – and this was way back in 1994. It was still a year before Brother Rafael Donato arrived to start building the school into what it is today. In other words, a lot I knew at the time! Of course, I did not own a crystal ball; and there was no way for me to know the spate of growth that not only the school but the rest of the city was soon to start experiencing.

23 October 2011

A Layman’s Guide to Pundits’ Football Jargon

I have compiled a list of terms that one frequently hears mentioned by football pundits on cable television, most of them British. This short guide is intended to help the casual or new fans of the game in this country to understand some of the jargon:

Book: a tiny little notebook that referees the world over carry to record for posterity warnings, expulsions and other incidents within the game. As a verb, the term “booked” means a player has received a formal warning from the referee and issued a yellow card. For a while in the eighties, the English League did away with the issuance of cards altogether, since the offending players’ were called over by the referees and their names and numbers recorded. The cards were subsequently restored.

Box: more completely, the penalty box or the penalty area, the word “box” used obviously because of the area’s rectangular shape. Pundits will just as easily say “put a cross into the box.”

22 October 2011

The FUPs and Ways to Deal with Stress

There was this one late Friday afternoon when I was just leaving my office, backpack slung over my shoulder and eager to play football, when I caught sight of three female colleagues standing across the hall looking hopefully at me. From experience, I immediately knew from the look on each lady’s face alone that there was some kind of trouble in the workplace. You know, the stressed sort of face and round begging eyes not unlike those of a shaggy dog begging for food.

Nasugbu in My Mind

This is a corollary to my earlier story Travelling to Nasugbu: Then, Now. As I wrote, I had not been to the place in 15 or 16 years; and the changes – in many places – have rendered the town almost unrecognizable from what I carry inside my head as memories of the place.