Sunday, April 29, 2007

CSI Manila

We couldn't bear the bakingly hot saturday afternoon so Johnny Bravo and I decided to swim at the ULTRA.

He asked me to observe him underwater as he tried to do an impression of Superman, you know, with one arm outstreched upwards and slightly flipping his feet.

"You look like a dead goldfish". It cracked him up.

I wonder what his reaction would be like If I told him he resembled a constipated dugong more than a gold fish.

Anyway, inside his car, he showed me a grisly video of what appears like a body being, well, opened up.

"What the hell is that?" I almost screamed at him.

"Relax. That's my work." He calmly told me.

"I thought you were a nurse," I asked him, incredulously.

"I am," he assured me.

"So you cut bodies inside mortuaries?" I thought I figured him out.

"Naaawh. I work for a crime lab." He said this with pride, obviously, not many can claim to take a first-hand look at the latest accident and massacre victims up close.

"You mean like CSI?"

"That's right".


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Friday, April 27, 2007

Evened Out

I had a healthy lunch today, an "Asian" salad at Pancake house, with pomelo chunks, singkamas (what's the English term again?), a few pieces of shrimp and a lot of greens. The sauce was very much like the one you pour over a fresh lumpiang ubod--sweet, just a slight hint of spiciness with a peanut-ty flavor.

Since I had a low fat lunch, I decided to even the score by having a "chock-full of fat" dessert--as Jun puts it, a calorie grenade. I bought a small cup of Haagen Dasz macadamia ice cream at Rustan's. I was craving for Dryer's, unfortunately, I think only a few Rustan's outlets carry it nowadays. You finally ask, "Do I really need to know this?" Yes :)

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Sometime before 3 a.m. this morning, I woke up to the sound of prayer chanting outside my bedroom window. With my lights turned off, I looked outside the window and just outside my front gate, my neighbors who live directly across my apartment, were staging some sort of a strange vigil, saying the Our Father over and over again while marching around their L-200 service vehicle.

For some reason, it reminded me of the Ku Klux Klan burning crosses in the American South.

A religious group occupies the apartment across me. Although their community revolves around the Sto. Nino, or the Infant of Prague, they don't strike me as a group that belongs to mainstream Catholicism. They dress in white and they have their own "priest", certainly not the parish priest.

They give me the creeps, sometimes. They hold their worship service very early in the morning (I know because I wake up early for dragon boat practice).

They generally keep to themselves and I keep a respectful distance. The owner of the place is a good friend of mine, although he doesn't participate in the religious activities himself.

They were probably staging that vigil for some special occassion. Or perhaps, whatever or whoever was inside the L-200, there must have been some sort of a special send-off.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Spacing Out

It has always been like this: I tend to space out each time my brain refuses to cooperate and I end up doing something else, like typing this blog!

For my latest project, I have a staggered weekly deadline, and boy oh boy, I have absolutely no idea how I might be able to meet my next deadline, which is Monday morning next week. Heee-yah!

I'm very good at procastinating, and consequently spending sleepless nights trying to make up for the lost time. You'd understand me better if you imagine the client literally breathing behind your back ready to wring your neck should you fail to submit the project on time.

Yeah, I'm trying to change my ways.

My project is all about milk and cheese, and sometimes I feel like passing out--just by thinking about it-- from the rank smell of soft cheese, ya know, those moldy, smelly cheeses Caucasians just can't live without.

(Actually, it's just a good excuse for not doing anything).

I just submitted something early today, and since I'm done with it, I can't seem to get my bearings and proceed with my pending assignments.

I'm just gonna swim at the ULTRA this afternoon.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

CHOPIN: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor

Frederich CHOPIN: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 11

2000 Chopin International Piano Competition final round
Warsaw, Poland
Yundi Li, Piano

Interpreted spledidly by Yundi Li, the 2000 winner of this most prestigious piano competiion.

Chopin's first piano concerto is obviously an early work. However, it already shows the composer's elegant thematic work and superb technical mastery of the instrument.

Chopin is a poet of the piano. The orchestra means less to him than it did even to Schumann. He only used this for accompaniment of his piano concertos.

1st Movement: Allegro Maestoso

Part 1

Part 2

The composer did not elaborate on the grand orchestral introduction in the first movement, the themes of which are all introduced, strangely enough, in the same key. All further developments were left for the soloist. The soloist repeats the energetic motif followed by a plaintive idea. A subsidiary theme, an extremely melodious one, dissolves in brilliant figurations in great profusion: this is my favorite part in the entire concerto.

2nd movement: Larghetto

*Click here*

The middle movement is quintessenial Chopin: a nocturne full of coloristic effects and dissolving sounds we so love about his music. The conclusion of this romanza is so tender and delicate, like a ray of light finding its way through a crack on the wall, as arabeques and variations round the theme in the orchestra.

3rd movement: Allegro

*click here*

The finale is a typical rondo in the French fashion: graceful and charming. Leaping octaves brings this extraordinary movement to a spectacular close. It affords the soloist a perfect opportunity for bravura display.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

One Last Hurrah

I finally decided to pick up my paddle and attended dragon boat training early this morning. I'm joining the China races in June and I need to prepare myself for the coming arduous events. It will be my last competitive outing.

I've been rowing for three years now and after the China races I plan to give up the sport and spend my week-ends biking the Rizal and Laguna countryside. Well, maybe I will still attend practice sessions occassionally.

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Monday, April 23, 2007


I have another confession to make. You're mistaken, it's not about skeletons in the closet, mind you. It won't make you exclaim, "Aha, I knew it!", while pumping your fist in the air. It won't make you cringe...well maybe, a bit, just a tiny-weeny bit.

Ok, here it goes: "I played the bandurria in high school".

See? Big deal. The earth didn't shake, the ground didn't open up to swallow you.

But please remove that smirk off your face.

Yes, bandurria, you know, the 12-string instrument which is really just a smaller version of the mandolin or the lute popular in rural Spain- the tiny strings you have to pluck with the tip of a ball pen cap or a shard of plastic cut from a Magnolia ice cream plastic container.

Bandurria is essential for rondalla music, and if you hand me a bandurria right now, I think I can still play a transcribed Air in G by Bach, along with Sitsiritsit and Bahay Kubo.

Some kids think bandurria is for girls only, like ballet, maybe because little girls were the only ones diligent enough to pluck the strings while the boys were chasing each other towards the monkey bars.

Having had a musical training at home in piano, learning another instrument was like a walk in the park for me. I mastered the scales and learned to endure the callouses (correct spelling?) and snapping strings.

In a short time, I found myself playing the national anthem most mornings in school. Along with the "elite" bandurria club (elite because only a tiny fraction of the student population was interested) we naturally accompanied folk dances like Pandanggo sa Ilaw and Tinikling as well as play the ubiquitous Mabuhay to welcome VIPs in school.

One time, in Cagayan de Oro, we even have to dress the part, like wearing camisa de chino and a red scarf loosely-tied around the neck while accompanying the dancers waving their arcs decked with faux flowers, in the streets.

Along with Memen (bandurria), Ambrose and Sarah (both guitar), we headed the Rondalla club-- yes, it's like a high school mariachi band, except that we don't have tacos and tortillas afterwards-- and conducted training sessions for those interested to learn the instrument. They got to play during the morning ceremonies.

I wonder if the club is still active, though.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007


I once got a grade of 29% in an accounting class in college (since the passing rate is 60% -- equivalent to a grade of 3.0, 1.0 being the highest-- I think you'd understand my despair). I dropped the subject and passed it eventually the following semester.

Jun said in a higher math subject, he got a 27% in one exam which depressed him so much he walked the entire stretch from the Math building to Vinzons in a daze. He managed to pass the subject by the skin of his teeth (I imagine).

When I had lunch with Raul and Greg, Greg said his lowest grade ever was 11% in algebra class (he doesn't seem to mind).

But Raul had the last say: he once spent a productive summer flunking two major subjects- he got a 4.0 and a 5.0!

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Pork Barrel

I saw Sabre Tooth at McDonald's again today, during breakfast. Anyway, an architect by profession, he wanted to show me his latest project and so he brought me to a large, unobtrusive house owned by a representative of Congress, in our section of the city. You couldn't see any front window and the front is covered by an imposing wall that shields the house from prying eyes.

Inside, a long hall way leads to a very spacious living room the size of a ball room complete with chandeliers, and the large glass windows open up to a view of an ugly wall Sabre is trying to transform into some zen garden. There's also a mini-theatre upstairs outfitted with the latest home-theatre system.

I didn't like it at all but Sabre said he had to bow down to the owner's specifications. The construction reportedly costs PhP8 million and another house by the same politician in Alabang is even more expensive: a sky-high PhP80 million.

Wow, clearly that's where the government official's pork barrel fund went.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Noah's Ark

My neighborhood taller (car repair shop) also doubles as some sort of a mini-zoo, more like a Noah's Ark, actually. The proprietor, an affable fellow, has an odd mix of pets in his garage, or so I thought. He has a large cage for his pet python (I don't really know what kind of snake it is, python just sounds so dramatic), another cage for his rabbits, some chicken and ducks (or geese), and a few dogs.

I always wondered where some of his sickly dogs and the rabbits went. Now I think I know.

On my way home, the owner opened the python cage and goaded the serpent to come out, while he positioned a live chicken, tied to its feet, just outside the cage. I couldn't watch the gory spectacle so I left.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Jingle Overload

It took something like 20 minutes for some vehicle to stop blaring the campaign jingle of a local candidate for consejal (councilor), to the tune of some ugly 70's pop-rock music. "Gonzaaaa--aah-lessss, Oh Gooooon-za--aa--aa--les....conse--haa--hal!".

This name recall strategy is quite effective.. very effective in making sure I won't vote for this guy come election time.

It had to stop in front of my gate and so I had to endure listening to the atrocious jingle ad infinitum, I could detect a headache forthcoming. I was starting to hallucinate when thankfully, it moved to the next street.

Oh my gad, here's another one, to the tune of Eat Bulaga (the candidate is a name sake of Tito and Vic Sotto).

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Price Manipulation

Yesterday I chanced upon my neighbor, Sabre Tooth, having breakfast at McDonald's. He doesn't exactly live next door, he lives in another part of Project 4.

Anyway, he works for a real estate development firm which is financed by some of the richest people in the country. He tells me they have a substantial stake in Pacific Online, the lotto operator that recently completed its IPO.

I wrote about my misgivings about that IPO, and it turns out, I wasn't mistaken at all. Sabre Tooth says their company had to sell a huge property in Makati to finance the IPO.

Incredulously, I said, "Do you even know what you're talking about?"

"Of course I know", he defended himself.

"We sold the property so that we'll have enough funds to jack up the price of the IPO", he continued.

This is, of course, unethical practice and illegal. But it's always difficult to prove.

Price manipulation, that's what it's all about, ladies and gentlemen. I knew it, the 49% intra-day was just too spectacular. The company simply want to generate interest on the IPO by indirectly buying their own shares, ostensibly through a dummy third party, thereby pushing the prices higher. As more people get interested, they plunk money into the company and when it's high enough, the company divests while laughing its way to the bank, leaving the rest of the clueless retail investors in a lurch.

The rule of thumb is that if it's too good to be true, then be careful.

The company, which only has around 50 or so employees and renting a not-so-large office space in Ortigas, managed to raise hundreds of millions from the IPO, and they stand to gain even more once they divest their funds at a much higher price, a two-birds-in-one-stone scenario.

If you have LOTO shares, I think you had better divest now before it's too late.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Graduation Song

Brings back memories, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Climb Every Mountain from the Sound of Music, posted in my high school alma mater's modest website.

You see, back then during my senior year, I suggested to my teacher that the graduating class sing the choral piece for the final graduation number. The metaphor, after all was appropriate: our place in Camp Phillips, Del Monte was surrounded by mountains and the fact that many of us will leave the place, perhaps never to return again.

I accompanied the graduation chorus on the piano.

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Road Less Travelled

My cousin who's in the army recently sent me a message, informing me he's somewhere in the Samar hinterlands fighting the insurgency. He jokingly tells me he's still alive and kicking, literally.

I always wonder what drove him to enlist in the military, considering the grave risks?

Maybe it runs in the genes.

I have an uncle who fought on the other side of the fence, consequently disappeared and has never been heard from when the NPA purged its ranks of suspected infiltrators.

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Spanish Project

For my latest project, I'm supposed to call Guatemala, Peru and Chile! Dios mio, it's been a while since I spoke Spanish and I'm tyring to jot down a script I can rattle off when I try to call these countries over the next few days *gasp*

I can imagine asking the person on the other end of the line to please, please slow down, "mas despacio, por favor". I can understand Spanish as long as the speed does not approximate a machine gun and as long as the speaker avoid slurring too much.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Ice Cream

I just finished a pint of Arce Green Tea ice cream. Yep, you heard me right, green tea. I can't really say that I like it. For one, the color is NEON green, it won't glow in the dark but it is so intense it could actually substitute for paint. It also leaves a weird and tart after-taste and the texture has the consistency of chalk and cream cheese. The strange thing is that it really does taste like green tea, like Starbuck's Tazo frappuccino or BreadTalk's green tea cake.

During the summer months in Bukidnon, our backyard would be full of squash and so my mom would make her own squash ice cream. Absolutely yummy, although a little coloring might help reduce the intensity of the piss-yellow color. We also had the usual ube (purple yam) ice cream, although our ubes violet color were not as deep as Baguio's.

For some reason, tiesa ice cream keeps popping up in my mind.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Caught By Surprise

Pacific Online Resources Corp.'s (LOTO) IPO today caught me by surprise: from the offer price of PhP8.88, it ended the trading day at PhP13.25, a massive 49% intra-day increase. If say, you put in a hundred grand, you'd have easily earned PhP50,000 by lunch time.

LOTO is the exclusive online lottery system provider of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office in the Visayas and Mindanao areas.

I don't know much about the company and since details about the financial operations remain sketchy, I prudently stayed away. I remain skeptical whether the company will be able to reach its revenue targets.

Again, the heavy interest in LOTO's IPO only indicates there's excess liquidity. With the low interest rates offerred by banks and bonds (less than 1% rate PER ANNUM for savings account, imagine that!) small time investors like me are scouring for alternative investments that at least would yield returns above the inflation rate.

Thanks to an increasing number of OFW professionals such as nurses and IT personnel, dollar remittances continue to rise, expected to hit US$16 billion by the end of this year. Consequently, a significant portion is making its way into the housing and property markets, fueling the current boom.

In addition, the hefty inflows of OFW remittances have even pushed dollar reserves to unprecedented levels, at around US$21.3 billion as of end February this year (US$20 billion in 2006), pushing additional pressure on the peso to appreciate vis-a-vis the greenback and providing additional leg room for interest rates and inflation.

The spectacular intra-day rise I think means speculators and punters are back again. This usually happens for stock offerrings meant for local investors, as in the case of LOTO.

Next in line is National Reinsurance, GMA-7, and the franchise holder of McDonald's (I forgot the name of the company). At least these are all solid companies with good earnings track records.

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Kill Joy

I'd like to believe I have a "kill-joy" reputation. You know, the one who bursts the bubble, the party spoiler. Very much like telling everybody in the movie theatre that Sadako will crawl out the TV screen and that Bruce Willis' character in the Sixth Sense is actually a ghost. I haven't really done that, movie goers might kill me.

In China, Frodo once got irked by my apparent indifference when I didn't share his and other teammamtes enthusiasm for group picture taking. Well you see, I have an aversion for behaving like a tourist from hell, you know, having your picture taken at every opportunity, from stepping out of the plane and even while waiting for your turn in the immigration line. "You're such a KJ". I lost count of the number of times he told me that.

When I used to work for a brokerage house, my officemates would be noisy and cackling with laughter while I stoicly ignored them. Calois once tacked a newspaper feature he cut from the Inquirer about "how to detect if your child is autistic" on my work station. They probably think I ocassionally space out and inhabit a parallel universe totally different from this one. The fact that I listen to the Three Tenors rather than Justin Timberlake or Martin Nievera reinforces that perception. Ostensibly, autism might possibly explain my behaviour. I found it hilarious.

The most obvious explanation is also among the most cliche-ish: different strokes for different folks. Yah?

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Open Skies

The issue of liberalizing the aviation industry is receiving a lot of attention lately, with the Clark International airport on the spot light. Citing reciprocity issues, local airlines are up in arms against further granting access to foreign carriers.

But then again, the benefits of opening the airport in Clark have been tremendous. Not only were a lot of Filipinos able to fly abroad and back cheaply, it has dramatically increased not only tourism activities, but business opportunities in the Central Luzon area (Clark-Olongapo).

This is again a classic oligopoly case wherein a few dominant carriers simply want the status quo in place. At what price? high ticket trices, limited seats and inefficient service (delays and cancellations). Put in competition and you get better and faster service at a much lower price. And who's the clear winner here: the flying public.

And when people travel and fly a lot, you can expect the general business climate to benefit as well, right? In fact, the number of passengers at Clark grew by leaps and bounds literally, from only 7,800 in 2003 to 471,000 in 2006 and consequently, hotel rooms in the area grew by over 50%. I'm sure a lot of these people were on business trips, scouring the area for possible business opportunities. I mean the economic value is quite clearly, very obvious.

I hope Gloria won't cave in to the lobbying efforts of the dominant carriers. This is the same scenario in the nineties when PLDT moved heaven and earth to resist the liberalization of the telecommunications industry then (despite the fact that the back log for fixed-line applications were as long as several years!). Look at PLDT now. It has become even stronger and more profitable.

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Currency Intervention

The dollar has breached the PhP48 support level and is poised towards PhP47.50. Heavy inflow of OFW remittances as well as weak performance of the dollar vis-a-vis other major currencies like the yen and euro (weaker-than-expected US manufacturing output) have pushed the peso to these levels.

An appreciating currency tempers inflationary pressures since manufacturing inputs are usually dependent heavily on imports, on top of our usual crude oil requirements. In addition, this is the perfect opportunity to pare down our sovereign debt owed to multilateral institutions, which means less pressure on the fiscal deficit as well as a possible credit upgrade.

On the other hand, dollar-earners (ehem, like me and millions of OFWs) and exporters stand to lose much from this. In peso terms, our purchasing power has greatly diminished.

The government has to intervene and find an optimal level for the currency so that those of us who are heavily dependent on foreign currencies won't lose out completely.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Rape of Panda and Polar

Lately, Panda and Polar have been reluctant to sunbathe in my garage for fear of being assaulted by Grizzly, an alpha-male tom cat who's been stalking the two. Grizzly has a bruised right eye, maybe from all that fighting, and he's not intimitated at all by my presence. Big, rough and fearless, he's like the feline version of the Terminator (plus the glasses).

I once drove him away with a broomstick as he was trying to mount on the damsel-in-distress, Polar. Manang also said she had to douse water on Grizzly as he unsuccessfully tried to force himself on Panda.

Sometimes, at night, you can hear Polar and Panda fighting off Grizzly's advances on the rooftops.

Oh by the way, I think Panda's just fat, not pregnant.

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Sunday, April 8, 2007

Interpreting Rachmaninoff

Rachmaninoff is a hyper-romantic. That can easily be gleaned from his ever-so-popular 18th Variation on a Paganini Theme as well as his Piano Concertos and his numerous Preludes.

Verging on the saccharine, one can even accuse him of pandering to pedestrian tastes. But then again, listening to his other output, you can't really simply stereotype him as a love-lorn romantic. The rich and complex harmonies as well as the unintelligible figurations point to a totally different direction: it actually evokes visions of leaving bodies. Interpreted this way, his romantic inclination becomes his way of expressing his yearning for his homeland. His music seems to say he is not where he belongs. Forced out and displaced, the disqueting thunderous chords clearly show this.

Rachmaninoff, like Chopin, was forced to leave Russia as the Bolsheviks' took power and established themselves. He continued to support Russian causes while establishing a successful career as a concert pianist and composer while in exile.

Rachmaninoff's music is the creation of a tortured soul.

Here's the Piano Concerto No. 1, with Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Colin Davis.

Part I

Part II

Part III

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Saturday, April 7, 2007

VERDI: Otello

Music drama in four acts
Music by Giuseppe VERDI
Libretto by Arrigo Boito (after the play by William Shakespeare)
First production, La Scala (Milan), 1887

Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (London)
Georg Solti, conductor
Placido Domingo, Kiri Te Kanawa, Sergei Leiferkus

Otello demonstrates why Verdi is the king of opera, rising even above Wagner. With a fellow composer (Boito) as his librettist, he managed to turn one of the most hallowed Shakespearian tragedies into a most fascinating music drama. Boito adroitly and skillfully maintained the poetry and the drama of the Bard. Verdi's music, on the other hand, is absolutely first-rate: it's so full of vitality, you'd wish the two-and-a-half hour production were longer.

Since it takes longer to sing anything than merely to say it, Boito omitted the entire first Act in the play and made a striking departure to Shakespeare in the libretto during the second act (when Iago sings his great Credo, he tells the audience that he believes in God- a cruel God). Iago is one of Shakespeare's ugliest creations. When he declares his conscience doesn't bother him because heaven is but an old wives' tale, you want to stab him yourself.

Otello is a tale about deceit, jealousy, and above all, paranoia. Iago, the master manipulator, passed over for a position in the army and livid with envy and rage, contrived to bring Otello down by poisoning his mind, sowing seeds of doubt about his wife's (Desdemona) fidelity to him, driving him to kill her and finally himself.

But I guess, everybody's familiar with the story already. In music terms, Rossini did attempt to stage Otello on the operatic stage, but it is Verdi's take that really hews in more closely to the play.

The choruses are astounding, the opening numbers blow you away, even the ensemble numbers. The orchestra sizzles as well, masterfully woven seamlessly by Solti. I'm not particularly a big fan of Te Kanawa, but she's utterly convincing here as Desdemona. She sang superbly. When she kneeled and prayed the Ave Maria, you know immediately that it portends danger.

I thought Sergei Leiferkus' baritone as the evil Iago required more heft and volume, but he delivered a solid performance. Like a hissing snake, he finally succeeds in poisoning the mind of Otello.

Placido Domingo has always been one of the better operatic tenors. Otello is a difficult and a very heavy role, the character, after all, increasingly becomes paranoid and loses his mind. Aside from shifting mood patterns, the vocal requirements are extremely strenous, considering that Verdi's rich orchestration means the soloists' voices really have to soar above the orchestra.

I thoroughly enjoyed this opera.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2007


The saga that is Frodo, continues.

I cannot understand why he wants to dye his hair blonde. He is fond of "highlights" (or permed hair) and he says he's tired of it.

"Huh? Are you freaking serious? How old do you think you are, sixteen?"

Frodo is married with young kids.

Anyway, at Starbucks, he was unusually serious, I mean you know, dead serious. He's been having marital problems lately and although my single-status hardly qualifies me as a marriage counselor, I unwillingly filled in the shoes of Dr. Phil.

You help each other out.

(You know this was coming, the singing part: "ready, 'that's what friends aaare foooor...'").

Oh, he treated me out earlier to a nice salad which has peanuts, chunks of apples and I think singkamas (turnips?) and mango (or peach?) at Butter Diner, smothered with thousand island dressing.

By the way, have you ever tried Del Monte's tomato juice? It's awful. I was close to vomiting it after gulping it down.

*clears throat*

You are right. It has nothing to do with Frodo.

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The US recently slapped tarriffs on glossy paper imported from China. Around US$220 million of these were sold to the US in 2006 and the Americans are simply not happy about it. The trade gap between the two is huge in favour of China.

The Chinese are obviously not very happy about this development and may plot a counter-move that clearly forebodes a looming trade war with the US. China after all, has the largest reserves in the world, at US$1 trillion, and a significant chunk is invested in US treasuries. They can easily decide to take it out and engage the US in a trade war.

Everybody's monitoring China's next move. It's like watching a chess game.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Dubois: Les Sept Parole du Christe

Perfect for Lent: as an act of devotion or simply a magnificent piece of classical music, here's the 'second word' ("This day you shall be with me in Paradise") from Theodore Dubois' Les Sept Parole du Christe ("The Seven Last Words").

Dubois is chiefly remembered for this work as well as the controversy when he refused to award the Prix de Rome to Maurice Ravel at the Paris Conservatoire, resulting in his resignation.

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Chemphil has been making business news headlines recently on account of its impending demise following the decision of the Trade Department to remove the tariffs imposed on competing imported TSPP (trisodium polyphosphate, I think), a critical ingredient in detergents and soaps.

Chemphil, a local company happens to be the SOLE supplier of TSPP in the local soap-and-detergent industry, and as such, since it monopolizes the industry, major manufacturers have no choice but to accept the relatively high TSPP prices of Chemphil. As a result, locally-manufactured soaps and detergents remain uncompetitive.

In contrast, allowing local soap manufacturers to use Chinese imports sans the tariffs, would result in lower production costs and consequently, relatively affordable finished products.

Predictably, Chemphil and so-called cause-oriented groups like the Free Trade Alliance headed by Rene Ofroneo has been lobbying the DTI to review the ruling and prevent Chemphil from going out of business.

The DTI rose up to the challenge and in a series of newspaper ads, presented a convincing argument why the protection afforded to Chemphil is detrimental to the bigger and more critical soap-and-detergents industry.

Clearly, Chemphil simply relied on its monopoly status, reaping huge margins without really exerting any effort to become competitive and efficient.

And the company is moving heaven and earth to maintain the status quo by claiming that it is a victim of globalization.

Yeah, right. Whatever.

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