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 2013

2014 EPL Top 8 Fixtures Favour Liverpool, Chelsea

After last night’s last round of English Premiership fixtures, which completed the first half of the season and the last round of matches for 2013, Arsenal sits top of the table but a mere point ahead of second-placed Manchester City. Chelsea is another point further back at third.

Only 9 points – or three straight victories – separate top team Arsenal and eighth-placed Newcastle United. This has been one of the most balanced of EPL seasons with as many as 10 teams still with a shot of the title; albeit, realistically, the traditional big teams should remain in the race as the season wounds up to its homestretch.

Liverpool sat top of the table on Christmas, which was as good an omen as it was bad. The league leaders at Christmas in the previous four seasons all went on to win the title. However, in each of the three occasions that Liverpool were top of the table at the same period, they failed to win the title at the end of the season.

27 December 2013

Pagpag and Other Superstitions Surrounding Death

I spoke to a cousin before Christmas; and the pancit lomi that we were served was from a neighbourhood lomi house, she told me. They had just come from the funeral of another cousin; and the visit to the lomi house before going home, my cousin continued, was their version of pagpag.

“Oh you only heard of that from the movie,” I teased her. That will be the Daniel Padilla-Kathryn Bernardo top-billed movie for the Metro Manila Film Festival, shown in cinemas around the country for the week starting Christmas Day.

Pagpag is a Filipino superstition – or so the movie promo itself explained – which says that one should not go straight home from visiting a wake or a funeral; else one risks attracting evil spirits back to one’s home. The way I understand it, one has to go somewhere else to shake off the bad luck; and the act of shaking it off, I guess, is why the superstition – and the movie – is called pagpag.

25 December 2013

How Corny is a Hot Christmas Day in Lipa

I am so old school that each year as the festive season approaches, I pray to the good Lord that Christmas Day would be at least cool if not cold. I just find few things cornier than a hot Christmas Day.

Of course, those living in the southern hemisphere will have a thing or two to say about this point of view; and not that I really care. Christmas Day, in case you didn’t know, just happens to be at the height of summer Down Undah.

But you have to understand where I am coming from. Although I was born in the late fifties, in many ways I am still also a relic of the American occupation.

23 December 2013

The Theory of Relativity in Lipa’s Holiday Season Traffic Jams

When I was a small boy back in the sixties growing up inside the Base, a trip uptown to Lipa City took about 7 or so minutes. I’m guessing that’s about 5 or 6 kilometres.

What was it that Physicists said about time and space being relative? You don’t have to be Einstein to figure that one out. In the sixties, the distance from the Base to Lipa was thought of as ‘near.’

That was why, if Mom just came back home from the market then realised that she had forgotten something that she needed for the day’s lunch, she would simply board the next jeepney heading out to Lipa.

And be back with plenty of time to cook lunch.

19 December 2013

5 Household Things That Changed Dramatically in my Lifetime

Over the weekend, a former player came over to my place to pick me up for Sunday football. I had a World War II documentary on at the National Geographic Channel. This former player – in total innocence or just plain lack of tact – asked me if I had personal experiences of the war.

If I was the criminal type, you would have heard of this former player’s wake on Facebook; and that I am now behind bars. Instead, I patiently pointed out that the last Great War ended 14 years BEFORE I was born.

This still means that I have been on this Earth for more than half a century. In my lifetime, I have seen more things than a lot of people. In this article, I describe mundane household things that have changed drastically over the years, some even beyond my wildest imagination.

17 December 2013

The Silence of the Liverpool Fans

Perhaps more deafening than the silence of Manchester United fans, whose team lies in an unaccustomed eighth in the Premiership table as of this writing, is the silence of the Liverpool fans, whose team lies second and a mere two points behind league leaders Arsenal going into the hectic holiday fixtures.

You will not hear anyone crowing, even after a string of fine results following the ignominy of losing 1-3 away to Hull City on the first of December. That defeat was followed by three scintillating high-scoring victories: 5-1 and 4-1 at home to Norwich and West Ham United; and, astoundingly, 5-nil away to Tottenham Hotspur.

It has been more than 23 years since Liverpool last won the league; and the club has never won the title in the Premiership era. Despite the current lofty position in the table, however, Liverpool fans will be the first to shrug off talk about the title.

16 December 2013

Look Ma They’re Selling Football Jerseys in Lipa!

Not just in the malls, mind! Even in a few clothing shops uptown. Now, who would have thought? If you’re wondering why I think it is such a big deal, well, because it is!

For the longest time, if you went on a round of the clothes shops uptown, more or less a staple of the shops would be a wide assortment of NBA replicas: Lakers shirts; Celtics shirts; Bulls shirts. Plus an equal number of those pyjama shorts that basketball players oh-so-love to wear.

Football jerseys? Strictly speaking, replica shirts. Once upon a time, even in the big malls of the Metro Manila, these were next to impossible to find. They were so rare that even badly-made jerseys went for almost a thousand pesos.

13 December 2013

Filipino or Indian Call Centre Agents?

I was erstwhile having problems with Windows 8.1 on my HP laptop; so, I sent an e-mail to HP Support to describe the problem. The problem got resolved when I refreshed my system and got reverted back to Windows 8. I told HP Support about this to put closure to my transactions with them.

About mid-afternoon yesterday, however, I got a surprise phone call from HP Support. The moment the woman started speaking, I immediately knew that I was speaking to an agent from HP Support located in South Asia, in most likelihood India.

Everyone in the Philippines knows somebody who works in a call centre; and from those I have spoken to, I know that call centre training has this thing called ‘accent neutralisation.’

12 December 2013

Torre, Buencamino Make Honesto Great Primetime Viewing

Image credit:
Yes, I like ‘Honesto,’ the primetime series currently running on ABS-CBN. Who doesn’t? It will not win any originality awards as, indeed, its Pinocchio-ish premise is something everyone who had a childhood already knows all about.

If you’re coming from off a hard day at the office, the series is perfect for easing away all the stress-driven toxicity flowing in your veins. Raikko Mateo, the young boy who stars as Honesto Galang, is an angel. His face alone is enough to induce a smile from even the most stressed-out people.

The story is light and simple but packs a punch. Honesto is descended from a clan of people in a far-off fictitious place called Sitio Katapatan. The members of the clan suffer from an allergy – their noses inflate whenever they tell a lie. This is asinine but cute.

11 December 2013

Philippine Schoolyear to Start in August?

One of the hottest topics in the news these days is that several of the country’s top universities are seriously considering adjusting their school calendars for an August instead of June opening of the school year. The primary reason being put forth is to be synchronised with the rest of ASEAN.

Of the organisation’s member countries, the primetime news reported last night, only the Philippines and Thailand start the schoolyear in June. The rest open in August as is also the case in many western countries.

This development has again triggered the debate about whether it makes more sense to move the entire Philippine educational system into an August rather than June opening. The primary argument by proponents of this move is that an August opening avoids the height of the rainy season.

09 December 2013

The Weaver at the Ala Eh Festival

Over the weekend, I went to see the Trade Fair of the Ala Eh Festival in Batangas City. The visit turned out to be something of a disappointment. Perhaps, I should have gone at the start rather than at the end of a week of festivities. On the other hand, in last year’s festival in Tanauan City, the fair was as vibrant in the last day as it was in the first.

For starters, in Tanauan last year, the organisers closed off an entire avenue to accommodate the exhibitors’ booths. There was also so much more colour, which made examining the booths a discovery trek and such a joy.

08 December 2013

People Who Can See the Souls of the Dead

Image credit:  Wikimedia Commons.
Late Friday afternoons, ABS-CBN’s Atom Araullo has this documentary special on the paranormal called ‘Hiwaga.’ I have always had an interest in the paranormal, so if the episode is not too creepy, I watch.

Last Friday, Araullo’s feature was on the healing priest Fr. Efren Borromeo, a.k.a. Fr. Momoy. I had not heard of him previously; and the episode was less on the healing and more on the priest’s other ‘gift.’

Fr. Momoy is able to see the souls of people who have died. The gift has been with him since childhood, but became more pronounced after he came back from a near-death experience.

It was after he was yanked back to the earthly dimension that his ability to look through human bodies – the basis for his healing – became more pronounced. Moreover, he started to see the souls of the dead.

07 December 2013

Pang-Facebook Ends the Story

I don’t know if it’s a Batangueño thing; and, indeed, there are always exceptions. But over the years, and especially since at one point my work often had something to do with holding a camera, I have come to the conclusion that, as a race of people, we are either very self-conscious or extremely suspicious of cameras.

Things are different when the person behind the camera is a friend or an acquaintance, in which case we all want to be part of the frame. It is when the camera is in the hands of a stranger when everyone becomes self-conscious.

Try pointing a camera at a sidewalk filled with people, and even when it’s quite obvious that you’re trying to take a shot of the sidewalk with the people walking along over it, everyone’s instinctive reaction will be to duck out of the way and – I suppose – out of the frame.

The suspicion extends to when one is attempting to take pictures of inanimate objects.

06 December 2013

2014 World Cup Draw: An Analysis

Group A: Brazil (10), Cameroon (51), Croatia (16), Mexico (20)

Will probably not be the proverbial stroll-in-the-park for hosts and tournament favourites Brazil, as there are no pushovers in World Cup football anymore; but qualification for the next round still ought to be reasonably straightforward. History weighs both for and against Brazil winning the 2014 World Cup. On the one hand, all World Cups held in South America were won by South American teams. On the other hand, the first time Brazil hosted the World Cup in 1950, when they were also overwhelming favourites, they were pipped to the title by neighbours and continental rivals Uruguay.

Croatia, which for a small country has had remarkable success in the World Cup, ought to accompany Brazil into the next round. Mexico’s lofty FIFA ranking is shown up as a farce by the travails of World Cup qualifying, in which they had to sneak in through the back door by way of an intercontinental play-off against Oceania winners New Zealand.

05 December 2013

Windows 8.1 on my HP Probook

In January of this year, I bought an HP ProBook 4445s notebook laptop. The laptop came pre-loaded with Windows 8. The laptop ran like a dream but for the occasional problems installing new apps or app upgrades via Microsoft’s Windows Store.

A couple of months back, as most owners of computers running on Windows 8 know, Microsoft made available through the Windows Store a free upgrade to Windows 8.1. The free upgrade, documents available over the Internet stated, was for a 24-month period only.

The upgrade promised better features, a better designed Windows Store and the claim that apps would run better in Windows 8.1.

02 December 2013

That Giant Rat Your Cat Would Not Dare Touch

Since my cat-loving neighbours came in a few years back, those pesky brown rats and little mice that loved to invade the household slowly started to disappear. No, I don’t think the neighbours were particularly fond of rats, but the cats probably were.

The cats can be annoying at night when they go through their now-not-now mating rituals, but that is a small price to pay in exchange for the disappearance of the mice and rats. They save me a lot, too, in terms of rat poison.

The other night, however, I nearly fell of my seat while watching television when this large shadowy figure darted behind the TV rack. I first thought it was the neighbourhood cat having the utter gall and temerity.

28 November 2013

2013 Ala Eh Festival (Batangas City) Schedule

The 6th Annual Ala Eh Festival, organised by the Province of Batangas, is to be hosted by Batangas City from 1-8 December 2013. Although the annual festival officially kicks off on the first day of next month, activities connected to the celebrations were held as early as the 15th of November.

The week long festival carries the theme “May Sasaya Pa Ga?” Translated into English, the theme means “Is There Anything Merrier?”

For the benefit of those planning to attend the festivities, here is the collated schedule obtained from the web site of the City of Batangas:

27 November 2013

How to Install Windows 8.1 on an HP Laptop

The travails that Microsoft and its programmers can sometimes make those of us who use the Windows operating system undergo! Do you own an HP laptop, tried to upgrade from Windows 8 to 8.1 and then found yourself staring in panic at the log on screen which refuses to accept the password that you know in your heart was the CORRECT password?

There is salvation; albeit, in typical Microsoft fashion, after a lot of effort and accompanying annoyance. Swearwords, too!

Posts in forums across the Internet show that the problem is not unique to yours. It happens to many owners of HP laptops. There is an incompatibility of the Windows 8.1 upgrade with HP’s Protect Tools Security Manager. I have seen one lame recommendation that told one HP owner to consult with the manufacturer.

20 November 2013

PDAF Was Always Functionally Anomalous

Well there you have it! Now that the Supreme Court has finally spoken on the Priority Assistance Development Fund, a.k.a. the much-maligned PDAF or the even more maligned ‘pork barrel,’ the anomaly has finally been made ‘official.’ Unconstitutional, the Supreme Court has branded the PDAF; past, present and – let us all hope – for good.

In so doing, the Supreme Court has made unlawful a practice that has always been functionally anomalous. The allocation and disbursement of funds has always been a function of the executive branch; i.e. through its various agencies.

To simplify, let us liken government to a household where the father is the breadwinner who lays down the rules but at the end of each payday turns over his entire salary to the wife for the management of the household.

19 November 2013

FIFA World Cup 2014 List of Qualified Countries

With the qualifying stages for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil now having concluded, here are the 32 countries who have made it to the finals.  Four of the countries are from Asia, five from Africa, four from North and Central America with the Caribbean, six from South America and thirteen from Europe, for a total of thirty-two countries.  Brazil, as hosts, are the only country who were exempted from the qualifying stages.




Côte d'Ivoire







Korea Republic



Bosnia and Herzegovina









Russian Federation




Costa Rica



United States of America



Brazil (Host Country)





1. Country flags from
2. World Cup logo from

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