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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30 September 2012

The Our Lady de Buko de Lipa

This image was NOT taken from the so-called "apparition."

I am trying to recall – and am ultimately failing – if this so-called apparition of the Blessed Mother in Lipa occurred in the eighties or early the following decade. While I am Catholic, I rather sometimes tend to be sceptical of certain so-called phenomena that other Catholics tend to quickly believe.

Thus, although most everyone I knew went to see this so-called apparition – and many out of sheer curiosity than fervour – I was waiting for something more definitive from the accounts that I was hearing before I would allow myself to be coaxed to go.

29 September 2012

Azkals Win 3-1 Over Chinese-Taipei, Win Peace Cup

So this is how it feels. The Philippine Football Peace Cup is modest at best; but when you go almost an entire century without anything that even approximates an international football title, then winning any championship trophy feels like winning the Jules Rimét.

While in that century, Brazil brought home the real Jules Rimét no less than five times and the Italians four, for the Philippines most of the time avoiding defeat in an international match – no matter how humble – was already considered something of an achievement. This feels special not only because it is the first championship trophy after a long drought; but more because it is the promise of more to come.

27 September 2012

Ian Araneta: Time to Set the Record Straight

Losing balance or getting feet entangled just at the point of shooting; having a clear run at goal but hesitating at the moment when a shot is best taken; misplacing routine headers: all signs of a striker suffering from a chronic lack of self-confidence.

When Michael Weiss substituted Ian Araneta just past the half hour in the Philippines’ second Peace Cup match against Macau at the Rizal Memorial last night, it was almost an act of mercy; and a fate so undeserved by one of Philippine football’s most loyal servants.

Azkals Turn on the Style in 5-Star Win over Macau in Peace Cup

When it rains, it pours. With the opening day jitters well and truly expunged from the Philippine Azkals, who barely managed to eke out a victory over a plucky but ultimately limited Guamanian team, it was almost inevitable that Macau would be at the receiving end of a hiding.

For the Azkals, against Guam the method was sound; but the result undistinguished. Against Macau, the method was better; and, consequently, the result was electrifying! The Philippines were not good. It was very good! Nay, excellent even!

26 September 2012

The Mistress: A Sort of Review

So ok; I watched “The Mistress,” big deal! Not my favourite genre, if I am being honest; but there was a scheduled power outage and rather than swelter in the heat, I went for a movie. “Dredd” and “Residend Evil” I had already seen; and I will not be caught dead watching “Pridyider.” So, I went to see “The Mistress.”

“Sabi ko sa ‘yo sa g’yera ako eh!” a male voice a few rows behind me complained to his companion to my utter amusement. Not that the option was available to me since I had already seen the two action movies showing at the mall. The gentleman had my sympathies.

25 September 2012

Need Passport? DFA is at Robinson's Lipa

Click this link for updated instructions condensed from the posters outside the office of DFA Lipa:
Passport Application Procedure, DFA Consular Office at Robinson's Place, Lipa City, Batangas

I have to admit, there is a certain novelty to the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Passport Division relocating to a mall. Whoever thought of this ought to get a commendation. It is definitely considerate to citizens although one quickly realizes that this is good business for the mall as well.

Since I live reasonably close to Robinson’s Place and having heard that the DFA had already opened shop inside the mall, I went to have my expired passport renewed.

Azkals in Narrow Win Over Guam in Peace Cup

The most reassuring thing about the Philippines not having a Phil Younghusband in its inaugural match in the 2012 Peace Cup tonight was that Guam did not have one either. Indeed, when Patrick Reichelt scored with an opportunist header in the 80th minute to spare the Philippines’ blushes, the celebrations that came after it could not have underscored the catharsis more after what had been a dominant if unconvincing performance by the host team.

Never mind, too, that the opponents were Guam; and any chance that the upstarts might have had to score could only have been if Eduard Sacapaño in the Philippine goal somehow managed to fumble the hit-and-hope shots that the islanders were limited to taking.

24 September 2012

Leaving Out the Younghusbands: Pros and Cons

Having coached football teams for all of three decades, I understand perfectly where the Philippine Football Federation is coming from when it put its foot down on the matter of player commitment vis-à-vis the preparations leading to the Suzuki Cup. The team has to come first; and no player can be greater than the team.

On the other hand, when you go to battle, do you leave behind your big guns? This food for thought stems from an official statement released by the PFF with which it emphasized its desire to do well in the 2012 Suzuki Cup. In that case, then all the more you bring your big guns along.

23 September 2012

PHL Homeless World Cup Team Appeals to the Public

Getting into the FIFA World Cup may be years into the future yet for either the men’s or women’s Philippine national teams; but there is a football World Cup for which the Philippines has been a regular participant in recent years. This is the Homeless World Cup or the HWC, an annual street football tournament held by an organisation of the same name.

The organisation’s philosophy is simple. Since the great sport of association football is without a doubt already the most popular spectator and participatory sport around the globe, then it can be used as a tool to catalyse social change for the approximately one billion people who are homeless worldwide.

19 September 2012

Trillanes, Enrile Spat Distasteful but Entertaining

Somehow, this very public spat between Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV leaves a very bad taste in the mouth. Do not, they do say, wash your dirty linens in public.

Whether or not Trillanes’ claim that Enrile is former President GMA’s lackey – which the latter categorically denied in a live interview on TV Patrol – is valid is beside the point. It was the sort of thing best discussed in the privacy of the caucus room.

18 September 2012

From Calamity Sabio to Gandalf

It is difficult these days to conceive a Philippines backline without the reassuring presence of central defender Jason Sabio. Others may find his patented long throw remarkable; and indeed, there can be few things more unnerving for opposing defenders than the sight of Sabio running to the touchline to take the throw.

My appreciation for Sabio, however, is mostly for his defensive abilities; albeit, the long throw does have its merits. Perhaps, he is not the Beckenbauer type of defender who can win the ball and take it into the heart of the opponents’ half, transforming instantaneously from defender to attacker.

17 September 2012

How We Won the First NC-South Football Title in 2002

The omens always were that the 2001-2002 season would not be a good one for my team. Practically the entire team had just graduated and only our main striker James Dimaculangan remained from the previous season’s starting line-up. Normally, I did not take in seniors who wanted to play for the team. There was just no time to mould them into anything. For this season, circumstance forced me to actually do so.

By and large, however, the team was still going to be composed of fresh new sophomore and junior recruits, some of whom could not even tell a football from a baboon’s hairy arse. Having coached for so long, I knew that this season was going to be a trough in the endless cycle of peaks and troughs that football in Lipa was always all about.

Innocence of Muslims: A Tasteless, Irresponsible YouTube Movie

The stupidity that people can be capable of can be really regrettable. Those who have been following the world news will know that unrest has been spreading across the Middle East on account of a disrespectful little film called “Innocence of Muslims” which had been uploaded into YouTube.

I have seen the film, which has been viral for a while. The copy that I watched alone had more than 5.7 million hits. There are more copies at the same site; and each has been accumulating hits as well.

14 September 2012

How Connected Countries Are Through Facebook Friendships

Facebook has mapped the connectedness of countries around the globe and has made the results available to the public through its Facebook Stories web site. The page is entitled “Mapping the World’s Friendships.” The rankings, according to the page, are based on the amount of connections between countries while also taking into account the total number of connections within each country.

Mia Newman, author of the post, noted that immigration seems to be the most important factor in these inter-country friendships or connections. Also influencing the connections are economic links between countries along with relationships established as far back as the colonial era.

13 September 2012

Neil Etheridge: Something of a Crossroads

People might have noticed in the string of international friendlies that the Philippines played this September that goalkeeper Neil Etheridge increasingly had little to do over the course of each match. Against Singapore, there were two or three routine saves; but none of the Spiderman heroics that we all saw in, say, the second leg of the World Cup qualifier against Kuwait at the Rizal Memorial.

While the Philippines lost in Vientiane to Laos, even then Etheridge’s involvement in open play was incidental. The two goals that he had to fish from out of the net, as everyone who saw the match knows, were from two penalties in a poorly officiated match. The second was certifiably not even a penalty.

12 September 2012

Erwin Balitaan: Engineering in Turkmenistan

Answer this one question quick: in which part of the world is the country Turkmenistan located? If your mind draws a blank, chances are that you are not at all alone. Turkmenistan, after all, is not exactly your average touristy destination and certainly not what one would quickly write down on a bucket list of must-see places.

That is why, if you look at things a certain way, the surname of Erwin Balitaan of the high school class of 1989 becomes almost prophetic. The surname, which in English means ‘to give news,’ seems now appropriate because Erwin is presently working in this Central Asian nation which used to be one of the now-defunct Soviet Union’s constituent republics.

Erwin Balitaan: Engineering in Turkmenistan Part II

<-- Continued from

Fortunately, a friend of his father whose son was working at CBI asked him to submit his résumé to the company; and the rest was history. He was to stay with CBI for almost thirteen years from 1998 to 2011.

“Work at CBI was hard,” Erwin describes the experience with the company. “Although I was an engineer, I had to operate grinders and other equipment that were not really my line. I needed to learn a lot of new things, which was hard but also interesting. Most times, I would go home with my clothes covered with rust.”

The Ikî and the Tiyanak

I am amused now when I think about the things that we as kids were told to make us go to sleep; or stories we told to scare each other because that was just what kids did. It was not amusing then, that much I can say; and if the intention was to make us go to sleep, I can attest to the fact that the result was totally the contrary.

How many kids of the present day have heard of the ikî and the tiyanak? The two just do not go with the modern ambience; but in the era from where I come, these two were certifiable blockbusters in the fright department. Then, the nights were darker and quieter; and the things that inexplicably squeaked or creaked at night seemed so much louder.

11 September 2012

The Reinvention of Jeffrey Christiaens

Playing for an obscure lower division Belgian club may not be the most exciting credential to qualify a player for the Azkals; but that was all Filipino-Belgian Jeffrey Christiaens carried when Azkal fandom first caught a formal glimpse of him in a full international during the 2011 Long Teng Cup in Kaohshiung.

Chieffy Caligdong, of course, was the first-choice for the left flank. An injury in the second match against hosts Chinese-Taipei forced him to limp out.

10 September 2012

Laos Defeats Azkals in Bad-Tempered ‘Friendly’

There is a 43-point gap between the Philippines and Laos in the last FIFA rankings. From a historical context, however, Laos had enjoyed six victories over the Philippines in an eight-match head-to-head, with two draws between the two and the Philippines never having beaten their Indochinese hosts.

Make that seven wins, after Laos eked out a dubious 2-1 victory courtesy of two penalties. The first, conceded by Rob Gier in the 51st minute, was off a rash challenge by the veteran defender well inside the box. Gier did, indeed, get some touch on the ball; but with a dodgy referee and in that position inside the box, staying on his feet was probably the better option.

09 September 2012

Plastic Wastes? Convert to Fuel!

A few weeks back, I ran a story on a garbage granulator machine developed by Filipino inventor Bong Archeta as a possible solution to the country’s horrendous garbage problem. I picked the story up from a feature put together by Noli de Castro and aired for two consecutive nights on TV Patrol.

Apparently, I missed a much earlier feature run by Umagang Kay Ganda on an even better technology of which the granulator is merely a part of. This technology was developed by Filipino inventor Jaime Navarro, President of a company called Poly-Green Technology and Resources, and takes waste management a different direction.

08 September 2012

Information on the Philippine Football Peace Cup

The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) is scheduled to host the Philippine Football Peace Cup from 25-29 September 2012 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium. The Peace Cup used to be known by the name Long Teng Cup, an international football competition started by the Chinese Taipei Football Association in 2010.

The same association offered the hosting to the PFF which duly accepted. The competition was initially planned to be renamed the Paulino Alcantara Cup and was originally scheduled to be hosted by the city of Bacolod.

07 September 2012

Azkals In 2-nil Singapore Demolition Job

Watching the Singapore national team play its football, one just sort of wonders if there is a national ban on urgency. Languor, if the Singapore team is any indication, seems to be something of a local malaise. The team’s football is played primarily on the floor, simple quick passes linked daintily from player to player.

That is well and good if the name of your country is Spain; and mind, the Spaniards do the same at speed and with so much more accuracy. In the case of Singapore, when its players lost possession – which was often – frequently its players did not seem to have any desire to sprint back and plug the inevitable holes at the back.

Leni Robredo: A Breath of Fresh Air

There was always an air of inevitability, in the aftermath of the accident and death of DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo, that there would be calls for his widow to pick up the gauntlet and get on with the fight for righteousness that her late husband started. That is so ‘us’ – a nation where sentimentality is no small consideration on the way to an exalted position in government.

That was how the late Corazon Aquino, a self-confessed housewife with no experience of politics and government, found herself as President of the nation; albeit, the circumstances then were a tad different.

06 September 2012

Why Football is Called Soccer

There are few things that can sting my ears more than hearing somebody call my beloved game as ‘soccer.’ Most of the time, the offender is the sort who knows nothing about the game other than its name.

‘Football’ is how it has always been to me. Because it is the only game bearing that name that is actually played by and large with the feet, I have had no inclination to call the game anything else.

05 September 2012

Azkals’ Friendly Draw with Cambodia Served Its Purpose

Goalless at the end of the ninety, yes; and don’t we all wish that we had not been profligate when the chances came. In light of the 38-point discrepancy in the latest FIFA rankings between the Philippines and Cambodia, yes, perhaps we could have – should have – handily pilfered a win in Phnom Penh.

But to actually go there and have the utter cheek to look like the home team shows how far, indeed, we have come in international football. Let it not be forgotten, too, that this was a friendly; and that it is so much better that we were profligate in Phnom Penh than later when the Suzuki Cup is underway in Bangkok.

04 September 2012

A Look at Earthquakes in the Philippines and Worldwide

Last Friday night’s massive 7.6 magnitude quake that hit just off the coast of Samar has been quickly followed by a 5.9 magnitude tremor at sea just West of Mindanao last Monday and then, early yesterday morning, another 5.6 magnitude quake in the province of Bukidnon. We Filipinos are no strangers to earthquakes, of course; and, indeed, the country is part of the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire.

There has been damage, needless to say. Thankfully, however, whatever damage the quakes have caused has been remarkably light considering their strengths; and most especially the one that hit last Friday. That 7.6 magnitude quake has been likened by scientists to the atomic bomb dropped at Hiroshima a thousand times over.

03 September 2012

Indie Movie ‘Captive’ a Reminder of 2001 Dos Palmas Abduction

I am more than a little curious about this independent film “Captive,” which according to last night’s edition of TV Patrol was premiered in Metro Manila. The film is directed by Brillante Mendoza, whose film Kinatay (Butchered) made it to the Cannes Film Festival in 2009.

I cannot say that I know an awful lot about Mendoza; but I understand from some articles that I have read that Kinatay drew rave reviews in Cannes. Captive, from all indications, does not have the shocking rawness of Kinatay but is instead told as a chronicle of the actual events that the inspired the movie’s story.

02 September 2012

Flip-Flops: Tsinelas with Glamor

A couple of years back, a friend wanted to know what size my feet are because he wanted to buy me a pair of Havaianas as an expression of gratitude. I was right properly horrified and refused to give it. Call it Havaianas, call it flip-flops; where I’m coming from, there’s only one name for it: tsinelas! More accurately, sipit!

To my mind, the words thousand pesos and sipit do not connect! God Almighty! I even once had to ask somebody what flip-flops were, so alien was the term for me. And I am reasonably certain that my command of the Queen’s language is more than adequate…