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 August 2012

Commercial Airport at FAB Lipa City, Seriously!

There was talk about this as far back as the nineties; but I honestly thought the idea was well and truly dead and buried. Until yesterday, in the Regional TV Patrol, there was Batangas District 2 Representative Hermilando ‘Dodo’ Mandanas talking about this obscure little House Bill 4176 which he apparently authored that calls for the conversion of Fernando Air Base in Lipa City into a ‘dual use’ airport.

The bill has, TV Patrol Southern Tagalog reported, passed the second reading of Congress. A third reading is still in order; and if it passes the third reading, then the bill will be elevated to the Senate for its consideration. Still a long way yet, but still…

30 August 2012

Edwin dela Peña: Drilling in the Land of the Kiwis

Quick! Where in the world does winter start in June just when everyone else is thinking of heading off to the beach in skimpy bikinis? If your answer is the southern hemisphere, then you can gently pat yourself on the back and consider yourself smarter than a fifth grader. And to the southern hemisphere is where Edwin dela Peña of the high school class of 1987 has brought his family in search of better opportunities not only for himself but, more importantly, his children.

We are not talking about Australia, which as everyone probably knows is not the only country down undah. Instead, Edwin has brought his family to another country downer undah, if you get my drift.

Edwin dela Peña: Drilling in the Land of the Kiwis Part II

<-- Continued from

The industry pays well compared to others, Edwin concedes. It does have his risks. “For the drilling industry in general, health, safety and the environment are the biggest issues,” he explains. “The Macondo tragedy is an eye-opener. Sustaining a skilled and knowledgeable work force as experienced personnel retire is critical.”

The tragedy that Edwin was referring to was an offshore oil platform southeast of the Mississippi River delta which exploded in April of 2010 and caused the biggest oil spill at sea ever. Majority of the platform’s 126 workers were safely evacuated from the platform; but eleven went missing and later presumed dead after rescue and recovery operations failed to find them.

29 August 2012

The Church and the RH Bill

If you know that storms will come where you live, will you build a house made of paper? The Japanese of yore certainly did; but that was because in their manner of thinking, the house could quickly be repaired with more paper after the storm had passed.

On the other hand, if you had the means, will you not wish to build a house that can withstand the storm instead?

28 August 2012

Total Recall 2012: Futuristic Entertainment

I had been seeing the Total Recall teaser on television; but I had not really paid it any attention. So, when I finally decided to go see it in a cinema yesterday, I was not sure if it was a remake of the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi classic or a totally new movie. Well, now I can tell you that although both are of the sci-fi genre, that is where the similarity ends. This 2012 Colin Farrell and Kate Beckinsale starrer is an altogether different movie.

There is something cliché-ic to the story being set in a world that man himself has destroyed and made uninhabitable. In the movie, though, two stretches of territory are left where humans continue to survive.

27 August 2012

DLSL Alumnus Gary To: the Lomi King

It is easy to imagine, although I am no expert in etymology, that the name of a favourite noodle-based local delicacy is taken from a decidedly Chinese ancestor. Lomi, after all, does indeed sound a lot like lo mein.

The former is a ubiquitous enough Filipino noodle-based pancit variant, unmistakably Chinese in origins; and the latter, which in Cantonese literally means ‘stirred noodles,’ is a dish made of wheat flour noodles mixed with meat and seafood.

DLSL Alumnus Gary To: the Lomi King Part II

← Continued from

The name Lomi King would have been a misnomer, however, had lomi not been the main attraction. Indeed, the restaurant started to attract its own market niche. “The noodles were handmade,” Gary says proudly. “The kikiam and meatballs were made from fresh meat. We didn’t use frozen products; and definitely no chemicals!”

Remembering Neil Armstrong and the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing

It was on social media that I first heard the sad news that Neil Armstrong passed away the other day. Mind, the fact that I worked in a school means that the vast majority of my social media connections are considerably younger than I am. Yet, the posts about the great man’s passing away were being made by these very people many of whom probably heard of the man only from books and television documentaries many years after the fact.

After the fact of his being the first-ever human being to set foot on a celestial body other than his own home planet, that is. My immediate realisation was that my generation has been fortunate to have witnessed the historic event as it happened; albeit through what was then still the relatively emerging media that is television.

25 August 2012

Miguez Tabora’s Art: A Ticket to Happiness

Timing, they do say, is everything. Well yes, in certain contexts, maybe. Ultimately, it all depends on the individual to make what he or she can of the circumstance, be the timing propitious or not. For instance, Miguez…

What would you do when you arrive in the United States just when 9-11 was a couple of months away from happening? “It was all fun and vacation for me for the first two months, spending fun times with my family, cousins and friends,” she recalls, “but come September, the real life kicked in.”

Miguez Tabora’s Art: A Ticket to Happiness Part II

<-- Continued from
Miguez’s designs are not only artsy; they are also elegant, colourful and innovative while also being fully functional. About how her products have evolved, she says, “I love seeing and realizing how my products have evolved over seven years; and they are still evolving from small wallets to pouches and handbags. I also keep adding pretty jewelry and accessories that are all handmade. The progress has been tremendous but is all happening slowly and nicely.”

To what does she turn to for her design inspirations? “Mostly people-watching,” Miguez says in all candour. “I love to watch people everywhere – from shopping malls, grocery stores, outdoor flea markets, weekend farmers’ markets, the beach, even restaurants and fastfood places. I’d say just about everywhere I go. People are great inspirations. I watch trends on blogs and Pinterest – which is my current favourite visual inspiration.”

24 August 2012

A 12-Year Old Shares Story of Struggle with Cancer

Last month, I was with a friend who honoured me by telling me of the difficult time his family went through as one of his children struggled – and subsequently emerged victorious – with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a form of cancer. Because my own Mom died of the disease, I was so touched by the child’s story that I asked to write about it.

My friend said that the experience still touched a raw nerve; and told me not just yet. The other day, however, the same friend sent me a message on Facebook saying that an e-mail with the child’s story has been sent to my address. It turns out that the ‘story’ was actually the child’s own speech delivered during a gathering organized by a charitable cancer support organisation.

23 August 2012

Pintada the Painted Face Takes a Bow

There you go. Lysa Alvarez, a.k.a. Ma’am Lysa, finally returned to the town of Cervantes in yesterday’s episode. The return, announced during the culminating night of the town fiesta, was as grand as dramatic entrances can get.

With her friend Noel Crisostomo – played by Lemuel Pelayo – having received an award from the Mayor of Cervantes for his efforts to boost the town’s economy, the awardee surprised the townsfolk by crediting his successes to her ideas and called her to join him onstage. She walked slowly to the middle of the stage, the burnt side of her face painted with elaborate designs in keeping with the fiesta’s Pintada Festival theme. This, I believe, partially explains the teleserye’s somewhat exotic title.

22 August 2012

Petron Corporation’s Julius Villegas: Dealing with Crossroads

Being in one’s early to mid-thirties can be the most challenging period for anybody career-wise. One will probably be supervising a team of employees already; but at the same time one will also still have several management layers to contend with above. In many ways, this stage is a crossroads for those still trying to figure out what they wish to do with the rest of their lives.

This is the stage where Julius Warren Villegas, one-time CPA board topnotcher, is still in. In a way, his life has been a story of crossroads. His story is a little different from those I had previously featured in the MyStudents series.

Petron Corporation’s Julius Villegas: Dealing with Crossroads Part II

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First, he was with the DMMC Institute of Health Sciences for a year as Chief Accountant. At the school, he was primarily responsible for controlling and managing financial affairs in the absence of the CEO/Owner.

Next, in a crossroads of the sort that many Filipinos encounter across the nation, Julius availed of an opportunity to work for a construction company in Qatar as an OFW. It was an experience that Julius says was ultimately unforgettable – but for all the wrong reasons!

21 August 2012

Robredo Recovery Operations: Technical Diving in Focus

The recovery operations for the victims of the plane crash that killed DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo and two others also brought into the public’s consciousness this thing called ‘technical diving.’

I have always considered myself terrestrial; and truth be told, Robredo’s fate ranks top of my list called Please-Lord-not-this-way. Thus, diving to me has always been one of those things I loved watching in Jacques Cousteau documentaries but firmly classified under no-thanks.

20 August 2012

The Good Die Young: RIP Jesse Robredo

You know the feeling when you see a face, know you have seen it somewhere and just can’t remember where you saw the face before? That had always been the feeling that I had everytime the late DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo was on the evening news. Too bad it had to take a fatal plane crash for me to finally discover why.

Regrettably, they finally found his body this morning inside the plane’s fuselage some 180 feet below the surface. Before they did, I was seeing calls for a vigil in social networking sites. This was how I learned that he graduated just a year ahead of me from DLSU in 1980. We would have graduated the same year if I had not deliberately overstayed for the football.

19 August 2012

Darell Macatangay: A Life of Passion at Microsoft

There was a time when Vilma Santos was Mayor of Lipa City when the Bore Question of the Year that we Lipeños invariably had to answer whenever we visited other cities was. “Kamusta si Ate Vi?” (How is Ate Vi?) Yes, as though everyone in the city rubbed shoulders with her just to pass the time.

And of course, knowing as I did that my former student Darell Macatangay is at Microsoft, despite knowing that I was asking another Bore Question of the Year, I could not resist the temptation to ask if he has met Bill Gates.

Darell Macatangay: A Life of Passion at Microsoft Part II

← continued from Part I

Darell says, however, that he finds the pressure from working for Microsoft fascinating. “Anything that we do will affect millions of people around the world,” he goes on. He thinks of Microsoft as a programmer’s Mecca and a place where great minds meet to brew the next generation of software.

“Even after almost seven years in Microsoft, I am still amazed to meet and work with people who have shipped the products that we know and love like Outlook, Word, Excel, MS Project and, of course, Sharepoint.”

Miss China Wins Miss World Pageant in China... Again...

Now that I come to think about, I realize that I should have known better than to actually believe that our own Queenierich Rehman – the beat-boxing beauty queen – stood a chance of winning the 2012 Miss World Pageant. I mean, because the pageant was held in China!

In 2007, I thought it odd that Miss China would win the pageant for the first time ever on home soil. The pageant was held in Sanya in the People’s Republic and when the name of Ms. China Zhang Zilin was announced as the winner, my instant reaction was – like – you gotta be kidding me!

17 August 2012

Road Rage in the Philippine Context

The recent assault on an MMDA traffic enforcer that resulted in probably deserved infamy for a corporate executive also once again brought to the public consciousness a phenomenon that only occasionally makes newspaper headlines: road rage. Coincidentally, the assault made the news at about the same time that a certain Rolito Go also made the front page news after allegedly having been kidnapped from – of all places – a correctional facility.

Hence, the online joke “Where did Rolito Go?” To which the equally humorous quip was, “To look for Robert Blair Carabuena.”

Ms. World Philippines’ Beat-boxing Captures Global Press’ Imagination

If you have never heard of the term beat-boxing before, consider yourself accompanied… by me! If you initially thought that it was a sport, well, that makes two of us again. In fact, it’s something entirely different. I actually had to Wikipedia the term just to understand what has been driving the global press crazy after Miss World Philippines 2012 beat-boxed in the inevitable talent competition of the pageant.

Here I quote verbatim from Wikipedia: “Beat-boxing is a form of vocal percussion primarily involving the art of producing drum beats, rhythm, and musical sounds using one's mouth, lips, tongue, and voice. It may also involve singing, vocal imitation of turntablism, and the simulation of horns, strings, and other musical instruments. Beat-boxing today is connected with hip-hop culture, being one of "the elements", although it is not limited to hip-hop music. The term "beat-boxing" is sometimes used to refer to vocal percussion in general.” []

16 August 2012

Erwin Sibayan: the Starlight Express

“Starlight express, starlight express…
Are you real, yes or no…
Starlight express, answer me yes…
I don’t want you to go!”

This is an excerpt from the lyrics of the hit song by an eighties group called El Debarge called, as if I needed to say, Starlight Express. This article is not about the song at all, which used to make me want to perish from the face of the earth everytime I heard it. In the eighties, I was into heavy metal; and pop ballads like this putrefied my flesh.

15 August 2012

Garbage Granulator in Taal, Batangas Shows the Way

Image captured from TV Patrol video.
There is life after garbage, after all. The past two nights, TV Patrol anchor Noli de Castro ran a two-part series on a reasonably low-cost engineering solution to the garbage disposal problem that plagues many cities and municipalities in this country. The solution is called the garbage granulator a.k.a. basura grinder, invented and developed by a Filipino engineer and the use of which is now benefiting the municipality of Taal in Batangas.

The name of the engineer is Bong Archeta. De Castro did not state that Archeta is from Batangas; and unless there is a massive case of coincidence, this is the same Bernabe Archeta of Nueva Ecija who is registered as the developer of a garbage granulator machine called ‘Markell.’ If Bong and Bernabe are one and the same, thank you Google!

14 August 2012

Online Storm: PM Executive’s Assault on MMDA Enforcer

The power of social media is incredible, to say the least. The way it is used reminds me of the direct democracy as it was practised in the ancient Athenian city-state; but within the context of modern states. Opinions are expressed instantaneously and one can even keep count of the running commentaries. One sort of wonders why governments even go to great lengths to purchase electronic voting systems when there are ubiquitous sites like Facebook and Twitter. Said tongue-in-cheek, of course…

Sometimes, though, opinions as they are said can be expressly overboard – as it was in the unfortunate case of the former law student and now lawyer Christopher Lao of the “I should have been informed” incident. The online storm against Lao ranged from the derogatory to the vicious.

13 August 2012

Time to Do Away with the Floods

Raise your hand, if you please, if you feel upset at the sight of our countrymen trying to get on with their lives amidst murky floodwaters! These are people, mind! People! Not fish! Not amphibians! People! And we see videos of their miserable lives each and every godforsaken night on the evening news!

They complain a little; they shed a tear or two; but mostly they go on with their daily lives under next-to-impossible conditions. When the news crews come, they smile and wave at the video cameras. That is what and who we Filipinos are as a people. We resign ourselves to the worst that Mother Nature can serve and look forward to the next day with smiles on our faces. We are nothing if not resilient!

11 August 2012

All About the Word Shit

Shit. In my youth, if one used that word out loud one was admonished. It was generally regarded as a swearword; and unless one was in a rage, it was unacceptable to use in conversation. Apart from being thought of as a profanity, the word was also considered vulgar and degrading to use.

These days, the word is, if not entirely acceptable, then so much more commonplace and not considered as offensive as it once was. To a certain extent, media has had a role in the proliferation of the word’s use. There are still American channels that toot out the word; but in movies and television series values have become liberalised.

10 August 2012

Glenn Amante: A Chicago Dentist Whose Life is for Others

“I cannot imagine myself other than being a dentist,” thus declares Glenn Amante of the high school class of 1990. Even in high school, for someone so young he had this air of singularity of purpose and grim determination – the look of somebody who knew where he was headed and how to get there.

“Every decision that I’ve made in my life,” he now confirms what I saw more than twenty years ago when he sat in my History class, “no matter how small it may have been, has been given deep thought and consideration.”

The Bourne Legacy's Manila Scenes not for Tourists

If you have not gone to see The Bourne Legacy yet, well then make your plans. I am not about to spoil your enjoyment by telling you the story; but the motorcycle chase scenes alone along Metro Manila’s crowded streets will make the trip to the cinema well worth the bother.

I am normally patient enough to wait till a movie comes out in DVD or even until it is shown on HBO – but like most everyone else I was caught up in the hype surrounding this movie because parts of it were shot in Metro Manila.

08 August 2012

Ferdie dela Rosa: Banker and Martial Artist

There are, indeed, those who endeavour to cross the Great Divide between the green and the blue sides; and live not to regret it. Ferdinand dela Rosa or Ferdie of the high school class of 1984 was in my History class and had both feet firmly planted on the green side. But then came graduation…

While many of his contemporaries preferred to be anchored to the green side and went to college in Taft, Ferdie and a few others wanted to know what life was like to be blue. So, he went to Ateneo – ‘the Ateneo’ if one is from there.

07 August 2012

Heroic Rescue Personnel Deserve the Nation's Applause

The scenes that were being shown last night on news shows were ghastly; but they were – likewise – very familiar. We have all seen those before.

Torrential rains, rivers overflowing, streets flooded with murky waters and people trapped on their rooftops. Ondoy revisited.

06 August 2012

Pintada: A Believable School-Based Story

Not that I have suddenly become the ultimate authority on teleseryes, but I very much recommend the late afternoon Precious Hearts Romances offering Pintada to anyone who cares. This soap opera is the replacement for Hiyas, the series that I used to loosely watch before the regional news on ABS-CBN.

Unlike with Hiyas, with which the story seemed almost incidental to the endless stream of commercials and teasers, with Pintada the ads are kept to a reasonable level. Moreover, while Hiyas was at best pleasant and cute, Pintada actually dares to appeal to the intellect.

The RH Bill: A Simplified Version

For the convenience of anyone who wishes to know more about and understand the so-called RH Bill (House Bill 04244) but does not have the patience to go through the 20-plus pages of the actual bill, I am making this simplified and bulleted version available for easier reading. I have tried to use the bill’s own wordings where possible and paraphrased to approximate the meanings as much as possible when I had to condense longer provisions.

Although I have my own opinions on the bill, this is provided free of commentary. I leave readers to formulate their own opinions. For those who wish to express thoughts, feel free to leave your comments using the Facebook Comments widget at the bottom of this page.

04 August 2012

Hosting the US Ambassador (Please Last Till Thursday!)

It was February or March in 1997. I had put together a ragtag collection of players for the annual Southern Tagalog Regional Athletic Association or STRAA. We were runners-up the year before in Cavite City. However, only Rommel Cabrera, Romualdo Yuson, Alvin Malabuyoc and Chocolate Osabel from the previous year’s squad were still around after everyone else graduated in March 1996.

Thus, this 1997 team was made up of newcomers promoted from the Under-16 team and even fresh new recruits such as the prodigious Eldrich de Villa, a mere sophomore who joined in midyear. To make a long story short, I honestly did not think that the team stood a chance of surpassing or even just duplicating the previous year’s silver medal finish.

03 August 2012

Gener: the Storm That Never Was

I am struggling trying to recall a weather system quite as strange as Gener, a.k.a. Saola internationally. First of all, while it skirted the outer fringes of the Philippine Area of Responsibility or the PAR, it never really made landfall except way up north. Next, at its peak while in the PAR, if memory serves me right it was no more than 130 kph with peak winds of 150-160 kph. Good for a ‘mere’ Signal Number 2, if I’m not mistaken.

Yet, its effects went on for days! It was supposed to leave the PAR last night; and, indeed, we are getting sustained sunshine outside for the first time in days as I write this. But even as late as yesterday, when it was on the verge of leaving the PAR, there were still severe gusts of wind that blew and then died down as quickly as they came.

02 August 2012

Coach Gil Talavera: from DLSL to the Loyola Meralco Sparks

My high school team of 1989 was probably my strongest and most complete in three decades of coaching; but I would not have nominated Gil Talavera to one day play for the national team. Skill was not an issue; size was. At a time when most of his teammates were long past puberty, I wondered if there was an aberration to his DNA.

Although he would later establish a name for himself as a defender, in my high school team he was, in fact, a left winger. I will not say that it was even his natural position. First of all, he is not left-footed; and even if the inverted winger had not yet been invented, I have nothing but scorn for that invention, anyway.

01 August 2012

We Need More Filipinos in the Olympics!

Watching the 2012 Olympics is a frigging labour! Couldn’t we have sent more than the measly eleven – is it? – that we sent to London? It’s the Olympics, after all! Sometimes, I think we take austerity way too seriously!

I can understand that there used to be those who went to the Olympics to take all-expenses-paid vacations. Taxpayers’ money, of course!