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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28 August 2013

Highly Recommended: Matti’s On the Job

Finally, my lifelong search for a Filipino movie that will leave me at a loss for words for all the right reasons is over! Director Erik Matti, thank you for making ‘On the Job’ and raising the ante for the entire Philippine movie industry.

I am extremely picky about the Filipino films that I watch; and primarily because I would invariably leave the cinema disappointed and vowing never to see another local film again. Poor technical quality, dragging scenes, bad dubbing, overacting by the performers. These are my pet peeves about Filipino films.

But the greatest thing that has always turned me off about local films has been the inability of local producers to come out with something that is well thought out, believable and does not make the viewer think that watching it has been insulting to one’s intelligence.

26 August 2013

Batangas’ Lee Grane Back with Dylan Classic in The Voice Live

And because even Madame Auring probably cannot tell what Bamboo will do next, I literally held my breath while he delayed saying who he would save in the first live show of the Voice of the Philippines last night. For the benefit of those who failed to watch last night, this stage of the competition is rather different from the more straightforward format of, say, American Idol.

Three singers from each team compete against each other, after which voting is opened to the public. The singer who garners the most number of votes is immediately safely through to the next stage and it is left to the coach to save one from the two remaining singers. The singer not picked is eliminated from the competition.

Myk Perez earned the most number of votes; and to be fair his interpretation of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Isn’t She Lovely’ was charming if not exceptional. Exceptional would be Lee Grane Maranan’s take on the Bob Dylan classic ‘Make You Feel My Love.’

22 August 2013

Philippine U-11 National Football Team in UK Training Stint

With the vision of building a team that will be capable of qualifying for the 2019 Under-17 World Cup, the Philippine Football Federation is sending a 22-strong squad of U-11 players to the United Kingdom for a comprehensive three-week training and education program. The squad leaves for the UK today, the 23rd of August and is scheduled to return back to the Philippines on the 15th of September.

The team is composed of the current top players from a national pool of 90 youngsters. The pool was formed through the initiative of the Kasibulan Grassroots Program that was launched by the PFF in 2012. For the National Capital Region, schools were invited to send their best U-11 players to tryouts conducted at San Beda College recently.

Provincial Football Associations were also requested to hold eliminations for private and public schools leading to their formation of teams for regional grassroots football festivals around the country. It was from these festivals that many of the players for the national training pool were selected.

20 August 2013

19 August 2013 Lipa City Floods

On the national news for the second straight night, horrifying images of torrential rains, cascading floodwaters, people stranded atop rooftops; and the valiant efforts of uniformed men and common citizens to rescue those whose lives were in danger.

Metro Manila. Cavite. Laguna. Bataan. It was Habagat 2012 sequel 2013. That the scenes are all too familiar does not make them any more pleasant to watch.

There was no mention of Lipa, of course. There were floods in the city yesterday, yes; but compared to those elsewhere, the ones in Lipa seemed innocuous.

19 August 2013

Maring, the Monsoon and a Ridiculously Rainy Day

Two weeks ago, I made an arrangement to meet with my sister in Alabang today. To the text message, I almost absent-mindedly appended, ‘weather permitting.’ Of course, at the time, I had absolutely no idea how prophetic the additional phrase would become.

I checked the satellite photo last night as I always do the night before a trip. There was this big yellow lump of cloudiness approaching from the west, apparently being sucked in by tropical storm ‘Maring.’

I was not too alarmed. Yellow in PAGASA’s color coding is no real cause for alarm, Red and black are. I was reasonably certain that that lump would have passed over with plenty of time to spare for my morning trip.

18 August 2013

Spectacular Sing-Off Between Two Divas Concludes the Voice’s Battles

I do not for one moment think that the so-called ‘Battles’ of the Voice of the Philippines could have ended better than it did last night, with a titanic confrontation between two supremely talented divas. I was simply blown away by the two artists’ performance; and apparently so were the four coaches as well as the audience.

Radha, a former band vocalist looking for a way back in; and Marissa Saroca, a Fil-Australian looking to build her own career in this country, received a deserved standing ovation from everyone in the studio. This was a first, presenter Toni Gonzaga pointed out; and only appropriate given the calibre of the performance.

The song was Aretha Franklin’s classic ‘Respect’ and it was sung with remarkable technique and passion by both singers. Lea Salonga had earlier told both ladies that she was leaving it all to them to interpret the song since both not only knew the song well but also were equally accomplished in their chosen craft.

16 August 2013

Ekstra: Faceless No More

So yes, I watched Ekstra. I will not be caught dead watching the other Star Cinema movies which are usually formulaic to the point of gag-inducing; but this was an indie film and an award-winning one at that. I wanted to see what the fuss was all about.

But naturally, before the movie began, there was an annoying group of noisy Vilmanians at the back happily chatting away. In fairness, they hushed down when John Estrada and Randy Santiago came on for the anti-camcording ad.

For an indie film, Ekstra’s cast is quite impressive. Vilma Santos, as everyone knows, is in the lead role whatever she has said in talk shows about being an extra for the first time in her career.

15 August 2013

Azkals Off-Form in 0-2 Loss Friendly Loss to Indonesia

An under-strength squad; a lengthy roundabout journey ala Planes, Trains and Automobiles; a bumpy pitch and equatorial heat and humdity; and a raucous 35,000-strong flag-waving partisan crowd. Add the kickoff time at which you and I would otherwise have been lazily sipping at a nightcap before turning in for bed; and we are of the same time zone as Indonesia, mind.

The things football players are willing to go through just to play an international friendly! Conditions were rife, it can be argued, for epic fail.

In a night when positives were scarce for a Philippine football team forced to deal with such adversity, if at all we have to scrounge for one, it will be that we got off lightly with a mere 0-2 defeat. It was not so much that Indonesia were overwhelmingly superior but more that we were abjectly poor.

14 August 2013

Doris Bigornia’s Edifying Mutyâ ng Masa

It is perhaps a sad indictment of the Filipino audiences’ viewing preferences as well as ABS-CBN’s corporate thinking that this edifying and educational little program called ‘Mutyâ ng Masa,’ presented by Doris Bigornia, is not on primetime. In my youth, a program of this calibre would have been the perfect excuse to gather the entire family in front of the boob tube after supper.

The program is conceptually simple, yet therein lies its brilliance. Bigornia walks the streets of the metropolis with her camera crew and strikes up conversations with whoever takes her fancy.

It can be a young man pushing a make-shift trolley along the rails of the PNR; a group of students playing basketball in a crowded university campus; one of a horde of seafarers lined up applying for a job; or, as last Tuesday, a homeless child at the baywalk.

12 August 2013

Outstanding Male ‘Battles’ Over the Weekend in The Voice

I will remember the last weekend of the Voice of the Philippines for two outstanding male battles that were sung not as though the artists were trying to out-sing each other but rather as though in a melodic, well-arranged and professionally sung duet. In fact, my overriding impression while listening to the two battles was that I could well have been listening to recordings.

The best of the lot, in my humble opinion, was the battle between Maki Ricafort and Hans Dimayuga last Sunday. To be perfectly honest, I dismissed both gentlemen after the blind auditions as middling singers who will soon be home to take the garbage out.

I changed my mind almost as soon as Ricafort opened with the song ‘What About Love’ by Lemar. He was sensational! So was Dimayuga, who even played around with some well-controlled falsettos.

11 August 2013

Gilas’ Loss to Iran in Perspective

Chot Reyes, in the post-match interview after Smart Gilas’ anti-climactic performance in the final last night against tournament favourite Iran, put his team’s runner-up finish in perspective by admitting in all candor that the previous night’s victory over Korea was more because of the emotional wave of an entire nation.

That was euphemism for we got lucky against Korea. Indeed, those who sneaked a look at the third place play-off between the Koreans and Chinese-Taipei would have quickly gotten Chot Reyes’ drift. The Koreans trod all over the Taiwanese to comfortably clinch the last available berth for next year’s World Championships in Spain.

While the outpouring of emotions after our cardiac arrest victory over Korea was perfectly understandable – and, indeed, the Koreans had been such a pest all those barren years – my immediate concern going into the final was that the sense of catharsis would leave nothing for the game against Iran.

06 August 2013

Oh So You Speak Tagalog!

You gotta hand it to the creative thinkers of ABS-CBN, in particular those responsible for the noontime show ‘It’s Showtime!’ Last Monday, the show introduced this new segment called ‘Halo-Halo,’ which features Filipino mix-breeds who compete against each other in terms of talent.

The segment is arguably conceptually colonial; but at the same time it recognises and showcases our colourful heritage as well as the diversity of our peoples. There is probably no other nation in the Far East where so many of the native population have some amount or the other of white Caucasian blood flowing through their veins.

The great majority of these mix-breeds, understandably, are of part-Spanish or -American descent; and they are mere testaments to our storied colonial past.

04 August 2013

Mixed Fortunes for Batangueñas and Who Knows What Bamboo is Thinking

I had a peaceful night watching Saturday’s edition of the Battles of the Voice of the Philippines, since the coaches’ scorecards more or less matched my own. And not that I have any claims to musical expertise other than two sharp ears, but I rather thought last night’s decision-making was more scandalous than a Chito Miranda sex video.

But I invoke the rights and privileges of the armchair critic and look the other way as slipped Penelope Matanguihan through to the next level even if her performance was arguably not the night’s best of her group.

She looked like she had a bit of gas when she started but recovered midway through the song “One Night Only” and especially with the high notes. If I am being honest, I thought Cara Manglapus won that by the thinnest of hairs; and this is just my way of saying it could have gone to any of the three girls.

03 August 2013

Germany 1938; China 2013: the Parallels

With China about to release maps officially claiming territories in the West Philippine Sea that the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries have also staked claims on, it gives yet another indication of its increasing geo-political boldness in the region.

China’s claims on the disputed territories, particularly those inside the Philippines’ economic corridor, have no historical, legal and moral bases; but this makes the country’s brazenness all the more remarkable.

Political analysts have referred to China’s actuations as ‘posturing.’ Beyond the flexing of biceps, however, where all the posturing can lead to is no laughing matter, as history itself has shown.