Thursday, December 31

Happy New Year!

A Happy New Year to everyone... The past year has been a challenge but a new year brings new hope for the future. 2010 will bring trials I'm sure, but God is always good and will give us sufficient grace for every problem we may encounter.

New Year's day is also my mother's birthday so it's always been extra-special for us...Happy 71st Birthday, Ma! I pray God would grant you more joyful years and continuous good health...

It's my sister's birthday on January 3 so Happy Birthday big sis... I know you and the kids will have to leave for Canada soon but for now we're here together so let's party!


Oyango Tribe Visit

view of the tribe settlement

walking down the steep road...

to the chapel/meeting place... spend time with these precious kids

having some fun

giving away goodies...

group pic: hoping we'll be back soon

We spent an eventful day with the Oyango tribe of Santa Teresita, Iriga City. Sponsored by the University of Saint Anthony College of Nursing... I got involved through my sister's employment with them. So with her co-workers and some of their students, we went there with the cooperation of tribal elders.

It was quite an experience... having the opportunity to spread some post-Christmas cheer with these precious people is a real blessing. Talking to Mr. Rick Perez--the person most responsible for making known the plight of tribes living in our city--is a real eye-opener. He said he's willing to take us to more largely unreached by aid tribes so we could help there too.

Having lived part of my childhood in this city, I've always been aware that there are tribal people living in the mountains nearby but was largely insulated from their issues. It's ironic that I have taken part in medical missions for the Mangyans of Mindoro and the Manobos of Mindanao but not here.

This visit I hope would be the first of many. It's heartening to see people wanting to get involved in making a difference in other people's lives...I hope we could sustain this new-found passion for the tribes we could reach in our backyard.


Monday, December 28

Starting them young...

My sister works as a nursing clinical coordinator at a local university here and she asked me to take part in their annual gift-giving activity to the Oyango tribe in barrio Santa Teresita. They are going to give away some supplies so we bought rice noodles and canned goods. Some of our relatives also gave money so we could buy more stuff. Thanks guys!

This pictures show us repacking the goods so it would be ready for distribution. It's good to see my nephew and nieces are being taught to be socially responsible this early and are all willing to help. We're really looking forward to this...will keep you up to date and post about this later.


Christmas Birthday Party

with Mama, Mariel, Maris, Katherine & Jian

Christmas day is my nephew Jian's birthday. This year's celebration was different in that instead of having a party for just close family and friends--all the neighborhood kids were invited. It must be tough for a newly minted 14-year-old to have a children's party on his birthday but he was persuaded to share his blessings this Christmas to kids who needed it.

trying to hit pottery full of candies

There must be more than 50 children who attended and it was a lot of fun. Isn't it funny how being around children makes you have perspective about things? Their sheer joy in the little things is a wonder to behold. Sometimes as adults we fail to appreciate the importance of the simple things.

digging in

Kids don't have that problem. Watching them as they participated in games, danced with abandon, sang karaoke uncaring how they sounded to people listening--was a real treat. A reminder that there was a time that I wasn't too cautious or jaded...ah the good times.

Jian giving away prizes

The celebration went on all afternoon and night...there were people still coming at 9 pm and luckily the food was enough for everybody. Everyone was tired at the end of the day--but the kids (young and old) had fun--so mission accomplished.


Thursday, December 24

Merry Christmas!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. ~Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)


Wednesday, December 23

Going Home for Christmas...

Alex' Canadian-born daughter Aliyah

My bags are packed for my trip home...I travel light every time I go back to the province knowing my older sister Marisa (it's official, I've mentioned all my sisters in this blog, LOL) would gladly lend me the stuff I needed. The Christmas break has always been special considering that's the only time I get to see my family--at least the family I have left in the Philippines--my mother, my sister and her 3 children.

Vic with his kids Alyssa, Emman and Girlie

There's 6 siblings in the family and Marisa and I are the only ones left in the country. My eldest brother Vic is living in New Zealand, my other older brother Alex lives in Canada, eldest sister Mayet is in Italy, Anne is in Australia...add to that my aunts and uncles and cousins in Switzerland, Germany, the US, the Middle East etc. It's really sad to think that we really haven't taken a complete family picture in more than 10 years.

Anne being goofy in Melbourne

It might sound odd to the readers of this blog in Western countries--but this is the situation of most families in the Philippines. Opportunities are few and far between that after college, the majority of those who can leave to work in other countries, do so. My generation owes a debt to those who left and sent their hard-earned money back to support our education.

Mayet in Milan

In my family, the trailblazer is my mother's sister Auntie Ester when she left to work in Germany in the early 60's--she helped her younger siblings finish school then their turn came and in due course aided us to finish school and find opportunities (I'm talking to you Auntie Alice, Fannie and Uncle Mar). I have heard of horror stories about families getting splintered by long separations but we have remained close against all odds, thank God.

my cousins with uncle Mar & aunts Fannie and Alice

Our government calls overseas Filipinos 'new heroes' due to their multi-billion dollar remittances that keep the country afloat in hard times. We even narrowly avoided recession this year because even if the economy is bad in the country where they work--Filipinos still sent billions home. This is all well and good but I just wish that in the near future, the Philippines won't have to 'export' its people to keep it solvent. That Filipinos would have opportunities right here in this beautiful country. It's Christmas, so I'm allowed to wish for the seemingly impossible, right?

Marisa's husband freezing in Alberta

I started this post not expecting to touch on anything heavy, but Christmas is a weird time... shopping for stuff is fun but there's really no better Christmas than spending it with people you grew up with...people who's been there for you in good times and bad...people who loves you no matter what. So to my brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins galore--the people who matter the most to me--I just want to let you know you are deeply missed this Christmas and I hope to see you again soon.


Tuesday, December 22

Gadget Shopping: BPI Installment Madness at Glorietta Mall

check your promo credit limit here first

I received a text message from my bank BPI a couple of weeks ago that there will be a "BPI Express Credit Installment Madness" on December 9-27, 2009 at the Glorietta mall. This promo increases your credit limit up to 3X your regular limit offered to BPI credit card holders every quarter (you have to be a card holder for at least a year). So if you'd like to buy high-priced gadgets this is a great offer since you could pay for it at 0% interest for up to 12 months.

these gadgets are pure temptation

Since I'm supposed to purchase my sister Mayet's birthday gift to our nephew Jian, I thought I might as well try this. So off I went to Glorietta. After checking how much I'm allowed to spend on my Edge card at the BPI desk (alarmingly high, it turned out), I started to browse the gadget aisles. If you are weak-willed--I would advice you not to go anywhere near this promo. I'd like to think I'm a prudent person but I was mightily tempted to charge every gadget I fancied on my credit card. That was scary.

my new 'love'

Fortunately I sobered up soon enough and talked myself out of buying a backup netbook for my perfectly working year-old Lenovo Y410 laptop. Anyway I was just supposed to buy Jian a new cellphone but his mom decided to buy him a laptop instead--I tried to foist the Acer netbook I was drooling on on her but she was ticked off because her Acer laptop's LCD conked out on her within 2 years. So she chose a Compaq Presario instead. I ended up buying a new iPod Touch as a gift to myself so I'm not too bummed. All in all a good day for gadget shopping.

Update: BPI text message ~ promo extended to January 15, 2010

Update 2.0: summer BPI installment madness promo @ Glorietta mall, March 3 to April 15, 2010
Update 3.0: back to school installment madness @ Glorietta, June 9-27, 2010


Monday, December 21

Brittany Murphy 1977-2009

Very sad news about Brittany Murphy. I've seen several of her movies--she had great comedic timing in "Clueless" and "Just Married". I feel sad for her family losing her at such a young age. There's never really a good time to lose someone you love but hearing about conjecture whilst grieving your loved one must be doubly hard.

The media's speculation about Brittany Murphy's cause of death is pathetic. Couldn't they just wait for the coroner's report and leave the family alone in their grief? Whatever happened to respecting the dead? Whether it's Michael Jackson or Heath Ledger though... people have come to expect these things to happen more and more. I just think it's unnecessarily cruel.

Update: Death ruled accidental. LA Coroner: Anemia, Meds Left Murphy Vulnerable .
Update 2: Brittany's widower Simon Monjack dead of a possible heart attack.


Saturday, December 19

Sunday Scripture Verse: Psalm 139:13-16

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be" ~Psalm 139:13-16 (NIV)


'Mother' kills newborn, won’t be charged because of loophole

This story is just terrible. A woman in Virginia smothered her newborn baby and the authorities can't charge her because of a loophole in their law. Apparently, the baby was still attached via the umbilical cord to the mother and since abortion is legal there she is considered to be within her rights to do this to her child. How a mother could kill her own baby is mind-boggling. It's a tragedy of epic proportions. If you are not safe even in your mother's hands... then no place is safe anymore.

Don't this woman know there are choices open to her? If she did not want the child she could have just given him up for adoption. They even have laws there that you could drop off your unwanted newborn at any hospital--no questions asked. It is really tragic that some women think they are not strong enough to let their child live. People make mistakes but it is selfish to think that after said 'mistake' you could just go on and get away with murder.

"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish."
- Mother Teresa


Friday, December 18

Auschwitz sign stolen

I don't know what these thieves were thinking. Is nothing sacred anymore? Stealing the sign from the entrance of the former death camp where countless victims of Nazi oppression were murdered.

Do they think they could sell such a historic symbol so easily? If this is the work of pranksters--what a way to assuage your boredom, huh? Losers. Either way, this proves that some people are just born stupid.

From Yahoo News:
OSWIECIM, Poland – Thieves stole the notorious sign bearing the cynical Nazi slogan "Work Sets You Free" from the entrance to the former Auschwitz death camp on Friday, cutting through rows of barbed wire and metal bars before making their escape through the snow.

The brazen seizure of one of the Holocaust's most chilling symbols brought worldwide condemnation.

The 16-foot sign bearing the German words "Arbeit Macht Frei" — "Work Sets You Free" — spanned the main entrance to the Auschwitz death camp, where more than 1 million people, mostly Jews, were killed during World War II.

"If they are pranksters, they'd have to be sick pranksters, or someone with a political agenda. But whoever has done it has desecrated world memory," Schudrich said.

He said the theft could have been committed by neo-Nazi extremists, or even people scheming to sell the sign on the black market.

More here.

Update: Polish police retrieved the damaged sign

*** pic courtesy of AP


Thursday, December 17

Reading 'Going Rogue' and 'The Blind Side'

I so appreciate these books my cousin Kuya Zaldy (YangYang) just gave me for Christmas. I actually read 'The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game' years ago but it was an ebook and in my view there's nothing like the feeling of holding the actual books in your hands. That sounds so geeky but that's how I feel. Maybe if I finally get the Amazon Kindle I'm crushing on, my opinion would change but for now, printed books rule!

Kuya had to buy these at the Hudson Booksellers--Dallas Forth Worth airport before he left for Manila because these books are not yet available here. I'm so happy I will get to read 'Going Rogue' now. I'm fascinated by Sarah Palin's rise in US politics so this is a real treat for me. I'm looking forward to reading non-medical books for a change. Will try to write a review when I'm done.


Wednesday, December 16

Mayon Volcano is acting up again

she's gorgeous... but deadly

The most beautiful volcano in the world (perfect cone, dude!) is at it again, spewing lava left and right--causing the mandatory evacuation of people residing within the 6 km permanent danger zone set by the volcanologists. I feel so sorry for the thousands of people who needed to leave and probably will have to spend Christmas away from home in evacuation centers.

and spewing ash...
It's tough to have this happen a week before Christmas but making sure no one dies due to this calamity is of the utmost importance. I've gone through one volcanic eruption of the Mayon Volcano when I was in college in Legazpi City and it wasn't pretty. Being young and stupid then though, I remember my friends and I were quite pleased because classes were suspended for several days. We drove as near to the volcano as we were allowed to, to do some rubbernecking. Hmmm... college kids... But seriously, I pray that everybody over there will stay safe.

Update: Good news: Mayon folk head home; alert level lowered to 3

***pics are taken by me


Tuesday, December 15

Happy 20th Anniversary to "The Simpsons"

The Simpsons is celebrating its 20th anniversary this week and as a fan since childhood (I even had a Lisa Simpson lunch box, LOL) it's heartening to see that after all these years The Simpsons show is still great. I could not say I have seen every episode--as an adult there are seasons I've completely missed--but whenever I get the chance to watch... it still makes me laugh like it used to. So here's to more of the snarky, irreverent, politically incorrect show that is The Simpsons.

From Google News:
LOS ANGELES — America's most famous dysfunctional cartoon family, The Simpsons, this week marks two decades of making the world laugh while offering alternative television therapy to millions of fans.

The now distinctive yellow characters of Homer, Maggie and their children, the intellectually-challenged Bart, his smart sister Lisa and pacifier-sucking baby Maggie first burst onto American TV screens on December 17, 1989.

Over the past 20 years, they have entered into the national and global consciousness as an icon of television entertainment.

Premiered on the then fledgling Fox channel as a half-hour Christmas special on December 17, 1989 and then as a regular series from January 14, 1990, the success of the Simpsons is a TV legend. Today it is broadcast in 45 languages.

More here.


Sunday, December 13

Lunch @ Cafe Mediterranean Greenbelt

My friends Howard and Merly invited me to join them for lunch. They took me to their favorite restaurant The Cafe Mediterranean at Greenbelt 1, of course I couldn't help myself I just had to take some pictures. Hmmm, this could be the start of my gig as a food blogger--which does not make sense considering I have the most boring taste in food. But anyway...

I started the meal with the Lentil Soup. Made of green lentils cooked with herbs and spices. People have been making this soup since the biblical times. It was simple and pretty good especially paired up with crusty bread.

I then had the Grilled Beef Kebabs. The dish was pretty tasty but the meat was a bit tough. Tabbouleh on the side is a nice addition though.

Ate Merly had this Moroccan Fish Fillet--grouper served with spicy tomatoes, carrots and olives. Got a taste of the fish and it was great. Howard had his favorite gyros so everybody was happy.

Thanks, my goofy neighbors!

Cafe Med has a quaint charm, they have a casual unpretentious look. It's reasonably priced (P200-300/meal) with fast, friendly service. Not too adventurous, but definitely satisfying for a quick lunch. Will surely be back. Maybe try the fish next time.

The Cafe Mediterranean
Stall 113, Ground Floor
Greenbelt 1, Ayala Center
Makati City


Saturday, December 12

Sunday Reflections: Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

Hebrews 11:1 is one of those hard to forget verses. Even in the most trying times of my life when I'm down or just plain apathetic--if I have to recall a scripture verse in a jiffy to encourage myself, this verse would first come to mind. It's just so simply put, you could not over-rationalize its meaning.

That over and above the craziness of our daily lives--nothing has changed about God's promises and his unconditional love. It's pure and simple faith that will get us to where we're supposed to go. We need to be reminded of this because we tend to make things complicated when we only need this one thing. So even when we are not sure we are up to it...let's just have faith.

***photo courtesy of Emman


Thursday, December 10

Avira AntiVir Detecting HTML/Infected.WebPage.Gen Virus

It has been brought to my attention that readers of this blog using Internet Explorer browser and Avira antivirus are seeing something like this:

After doing some research on Google, I have learned that Avira seems to have problems with harmless iframe tags--the html tag which allow authors to insert a frame inside a document--causing this 'virus detection' even if it's not a virus. But still I don't want people to think my blog is some virus-laden piece of cr*p. To make things worse, apparently when this blog is opened through Firefox an unauthorized pop-up would appear. I don't know how it got there either, so I frantically tried to get solutions.

I thought it must be from the widgets I got from outside sources, so I removed it one by one... still the problems persisted. So I turned to the gadgets I added from Blogger itself. For those who don't know, Blogger is also owned by Google so you would expect them not to spam you or mess up your blog, right? Wrong. I found the culprit and it's the Blogger-approved flash clock from Portal Romanesc.

Things appear to be back to normal after I removed it, thank God. I realize no company is perfect and Google as huge as it is, cannot be expected to be so. But unintentional or not, this is a pain in the neck for a newbie blogger like me. I hope something would be done regarding this. I appreciate the free platform where I could rant and rave about anything and everything that strikes my fancy... but causing virus alerts and unwanted creepy advertisements through these gadget add-ons are a bit much.

***Avira's page on the HTML/Infected.WebPage.Gen malware


Monday, December 7

Drooling over the Amazon Kindle 2

come to me my cutie...

I have always been an avid reader so when the Amazon Kindle first appeared, it piqued my interest immediately. Never mind that it was not available in the Philippines, I kept on going back to the amazon website just to drool about the possibilities. A device you could read on without the glare? Count me in.

I have downloaded ebooks on my Palm Zire 72 for years. I used to have the Zire 71 before that, until I threw it on the floor in a fit of stupidity and broke it ( I was instantly mortified ) but I digress. The glare is terrible for my poor eyes but bookworm that I am I still read on its puny screen. I even read my medical books there because it's handy.

...leave me alone!

So now I'm in a bit of a quandary since the Kindle has just been made available for shipping here--now I can't decide if it's worth the US$350 ( inclusive of custom duties and taxes ) it would cost me to order it . This article from yahoo only made it worse. The geek in me says "go", the practical side of me says "think long and hard". Hmmm... but it is so pretty, light and handy. I could read wherever I want... I also would go bonkers if someone steals it! I'm going nuts. Help.


Saturday, December 5

Sunday Reflections: Psalm 46:1-2, Romans 8:15

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.

~Psalm 46:1-2

With all the things that has been happening lately, it makes me wonder how long we have left until we totally destroy each other. People surely are trying their darndest to help bring that about. Here in the Philippines, in the wake of the worst mass murder in recent memory, we found out that the alleged perpetrators were being supplied with arms from our own police and military. Martial Law has been declared in Maguindanao which strikes me as a terrible overreaction--like getting a frontal lobotomy when stitches will do just as well.

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."

~Romans 8:15

Thank God we have scripture to guide us in these times. Giving in to fear is a temptation we should eschew. Fear is the enemy of faith. It could paralyze us to a point that our hope in our redemption could be compromised. I admit that it is not easy to be consistently hopeful when I see these reprehensible acts torment my country. But as a Christian, I know I should not fear because the fight is the Lord's. He would not give us up so easily. Not now, not ever.

*** thanks to Emmanuel for the pic


Friday, December 4

Tiger Woods in action

I finally got my sister's pictures from the JBWere Masters golf tournament in Melbourne. Anne and her BFF Cheryl saw Tiger Woods win there ( which made me turn green with envy ). So being the annoying little sister, I begged and badgered to make sure she took pictures for me and she came through! Let's take a break from the Tiger cheating scandal and look at these and remember that Tiger Woods became famous because of his golf prowess. Whatever personal troubles he's going through right now, it does not take away from the fact that he is the best golfer ever.

Tiger mulling his shot

Are you spitting on your hand, mister?

must be tough having people take photos of your behind...

watching your every move...

or just staring expectantly at you...

that toy tiger driver cover is "Frank", he models too

thanks, sis!

hi there, BFF Cheryl

"Frank" the driver head cover in commercials with Tiger Woods:

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