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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Final Stop: Guangzhou

Guangzhou - (gwäng´jō´) or Canton (kăn´´tŏn´, kăn´tŏn´´) was the last destination in our itinerary. As the trade and cultural centre of South China for more than 2,000 years, Canton hums with around 13 million people. Canton was among the first cities to open up trade with the West in the 16th century, particularly Portugal. In addition, the infamous Opium War involving the British in the mid-19th century opened up China to the world.

This megalopolis seems to stretch forever, with endless mass housing facilities and factories, as well as towering skyscrapers dotting the landscape.

The dragon boat festival here features 120-man boats decked with gongs, drums, lanterns, flags and what-have-you. Unlike in Manila, Singapore and other cities where dragon boating is largely considered a sport, in China it is a cultural festival that dates back centuries. As such, you see a lot of spectators.

We managed 4th in the International category, with Italy finally catching up with us and edging us out. Since we paddled upstream against the current of the Pearl River, the 600 meter course seemed like a kilometer long.

It was my second time in Canton, last year the conditions were different: drizzling, soggy and filled with people to the brim. This time, the sun shone brightly and there were less people milling around.

Bart and I managed to roam a section of the city by asking directions from the concierge and have it written down in Chinese characters. You see, earlier, we walked an entire block only to end up exactly where we started- yes, the street turned out to be a loop.

We entered a shop specializing in sports wear. Bart has this habit of selecting pieces and paying for these items separately, such that when the cashier handed him his change, he had to go back and purchase another item. Incredibly, this happened a third time. I think the sales clerk was already making preparations to smack us down.

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Bach-Gounod: Ave Maria

We are commanded to honor thy father and thy mother, just as Christ, being the second person in the Trinity, honored His own human mother by bestowing upon her the same divine glory. We simply imitate Him, we honor whomever He chooses to honor.

A tribute to mothers all over, J.S Bach-Charles Gounod's Ave Maria, interpreted by the incomparable Jessye Norman at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France.

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Temple Visit

On our way to our final destination, the city of Guangzhou, our hosts dropped us by a 1,000 year-old Buddhist temple-complex, the oldest in Southern China.

It was my first time ever to set foot on a temple like this one, I felt like I were on the set of a Shaolin or Kung fu movie. I haven't even been inside the Taoist temple in Cebu.

The fact that other red-faced deities depicted in (curiously) an angry mode, were in the same temple as Buddha struck me as rather odd. Buddhism does accomodate other traditions or other Chinese folk beliefs.

Strange smells emanating from burning incense permeated the whole temple.

I do not know the significance of the turtle in Buddhist life as a large pond located near the entrance was full of them. You find them as well in stone carvings in front of the worship structures.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Third Stop: Shaoguan

Last time I travelled seven hours by bus was when I took an ordinary one (READ: no airconditioning) bound for Tacloban City from Catarman in Northern Samar. Sitting on that bus for what seemed like eternity was a numbing experience, I was tempted to jump off the San Juanico bridge.

It happened again on our way to our third destination, the city of Shaoguan in the northern part of Guangdong province. Leaving Zhanjiang at around 10 a.m., we reached Shaoguan at around 5 p.m.

Shaoguan is a working-class, industrial city in Northern Guangdong. Like most of China's cities, you can see signs of growth everywhere, but it is less cosmoplitan than either Guangzhou or Shenzen.

The bus trip took forever, my life literally flashed before my eyes. To kill boredom and to entertain myself, I had to make do with childhood memories. I refused to think about work.

The hotel seemed to hark back to the Mao era. It was obvious the rooms weren't used to have guests as the central air-conditioning system didn't seem to work. We were transferred to better accomodations: rooms fitted with sauna. The dining area seemed like it once served as a venue for Communist Party meetings, with 60's era decor of varnished wood panels.

During the regatta, we placed 4th out of 13 international teams for three rounds of cumulative time heats.

Kuya Art and I went out of the hotel to look for a drug store. I never thought he would be familiar with Chinese medicine, he immediately recognized what he claims is a popular cough syrup also found in Chinese drug stores in Manila. It took us quite some time to inform the shop keeper that we wanted the bigger size.

Communicating in sign language is a very exhausting, and sometimes frustrating experience. The trick is to drop the articles altogether, speak slowly and in plain English, and complement it by contorting body parts (use lots of hand signals) or facial expressions.

Again, during the dinner party the Philippine teams brought the house down with a hip-hop number ("Black-Eyed Peas' Bebot), le Pecheur and Frodo were among the performers, which had everybody on his/her feet. We're born entertainers, yah?

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Trading Shirts

It is a tradition to exchange used uniforms after the dragon boat races. At dinner in Guangzhou, an Ozzie approached me.

In typical Ozzie fashion, he said, "Hey mate. Where's your table at?"

"Oh. It's over there," pointing to one side of the banquet room.

"Are you looking to trade your uniform? Why don't you start with me?" I said.

"OK. What do you have?", I pulled out an old long-sleeved uniform we used in Taipei, Taiwan in 2005, so large I have absolutely no use for it anymore.

"That's OK," and then he shook hands with me while giving me his recently-used uniform.

The Ozzie uniform was all wet and smelly. I never realized how foul the stench was not until I had gone back to the hotel room to wash it.

I couldn't remove the offensive smell. I do not know if it's BO or chemical.

It's currently soaked in detergent in my laundry area as I write this.

Amazing.

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Second Stop: Zhanjiang

Located at the south-westernmost tip of the Chinese mainland, Zhanjiang is a coastal city that resembles much of tropical South East Asia: hot and humid, compared to its counterpart cities in the North.

We reached Zhanjiang after an almost six-hour train ride at around 5 a.m. We stayed at a beautiful villa dotted with palm and ornamental plants.

The beachside was the venue of the regatta, we ended up 4th out of 8 overseas teams.

In between heats, together with two other teammates, I fetched the team's ration of bottled water and Red bull cans. Without warning, somebody came towards me and told me to stop: he was going to take my picture :)

I was about to leave again when somebody else stopped me again, told me to put down boxes containing the Red bull cans, and took one out, handed it over to me, and guess what, took another picture. Yep, we became poster boys, sort of like instant endorsers of Red Bull. I guess that executive needed that picture to send to his office.

This picture-taking frenzy continued, mostly with the locals. On my way out, somebody pulled me aside when I responded that I came from Manila, to have our picture taken.

The locals were mostly fascinated with the half-naked Italians.

During dinner, our team managed to upstage everybody else (including the attention-grabbing and noisy Italians) and brought the house down with our Pinoy Big Brother dance number. Opo, sumayaw po ako :)

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Food Trip

Eleven days of dining on authentic-- sometimes the exotic variety-- Chinese food, by the time we stayed an extra day in HK, Frodo and I were close to swallowing our own vomit.

I think it was in Jiujiang-Nanhai where I only found out later that I had been munching on frog legs. In Zhanjiang, I mistakenly thought the breaded sandworms were french fries. Yes I ate them. I didn't care anymore whether or not what appeared to be chicken was perhaps, pigeon. Kuya Art, my rowing partner, claims one dish featured leeches. I don't believe him. It looked like abalones. This time, I think he was pulling my leg.

Not used to walking great distances and hungry as hell (maybe that's the reason you hardly see obese people in HK, they walk a lot), we trekked the whole streeetch of Nathan Road in Kowloon, refusing to stop by any Chinese restaurant, diligently scouring signs of a McDonald's, KFC or Pizza Hut.

We settled inside a McDonald's. The food may be generally bland, but it's comfort food and something Filipinos are familiar with.

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First Stop: Zhaoqing

The first city, Zhaoqing is a pictureque lake side city of four million people located in the interior of Guangdong province. Signs of growth are everywhere and it is easy to see that the local government is so eager to promote the place.

The men's team placed 7th out of 17 teams in the regatta, ahead of Italy and behind Australia. The venue was the stunning Star Lake, with the imposing crags hovering over the lake like a sentinel.

During the closing ceremonies, all boats were required to huddle in front of a makeshift stage to hear prepared speeches by various officials. Since these had to be translated into equally unintelligible English, everything took twice as long.

We were treated to a spectacle of lion dances and surfing stunts on speed boats.

Due to the lengthy program, we had no choice but to make conversation with the Chinese in the other boats, albeit mostly in sign language.

The Guangzhou guy on the right wants to know about the Communist Party of the Philippines and was clearly trying to impress us with his newly-acquired American cuss words, his favorite being the F word, having worked for a Canadian firm.

The Tianjin guy on my left, a student, and very friendly, told me the location of Foshan. Why he thinks I was asking about Foshan is beyond me, I wasn't even aware that it existed.

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Ruffa Fatigue

Attention ABS-CBN, GMA and all other print and broadcast media: please impose a ban on your news coverage of the Ruffa-Ylmaz affair. This crap has been going on for so long. Letting these publicity-hungry anal retentives hang their dirty linen in public does not mean that we need to see the skid marks as well.

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Thief in the Night

Back at the hotel in Shaoguan, Frodo and I were heading towards our room after the men's team placed 4th when we realized a shadow was several paces ahead of us clutching what appears like a holy grail. It was like witnessing a thief in the night in action. We exchanged glances before turning left on the corridor towards our room.

The same shadow emerged in the shopping district in Guangzhou while Bart and I were waiting for the others to complete their errands. Roaring like an angry lion, it sped past us like the wind, this time lugging behind the ark of the covenant. Bart and I briefly exchanged glances, not saying a word.

In Hong Kong, while waiting for our flight back to Manila, Maykel Jordan happened to be on the same flight. Inevitably, the discussion focused on a shadow which we all agreed will likely fade into oblivion soon.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Battered

"Are those bruises?" pointing to the inner side of his right bicep, I asked Bart while sipping my Red Bean frappuccino at Starbucks somewhere in Guangzhou.

"Yeah. Here's another one," he pointed to another area of his arm.

"How did you get that?" I asked him.

"Her," was all he could say.

Clearly, he is the battered party.

Afterwards we roamed that section of the city looking for a dress big enough for his mom.

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Backfired

Since a lot of my teammates were spending the night in Kowloon, Hong Kong prior to entering the Chinese mainland the following day, we got in touch with the operator of several cheap but clean and tidy guest rooms. His e-mail was full of warnings about poseurs and dishonest middlemen, I was half-expecting him to mention Macau gambling lords and the Yakuza in the same breath.

Maybe because of the intense competition in the area and wanting to get our HK dollars all to himself, the owner, a Mr. Steve Chan, advised us not to trust people who try to pose as Mr. Steve Chan.

Unfortunately, this strategy backfired. Because when he (the real Mr. Chan) appeared to pick us up at the bus stop, we didn't believe him.

And so some of us ended up taking rooms not owned by Mr. Chan.

Lesson learned? Don't be greedy, Yah?

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Instant Recital

I always knew I was going to perform on the piano with the whole dragon boat team as my audience, I just didn't expect it to happen in Guangzhou, China. After a rather long and tiring four-hour bus trip from Shaoguan to Guangzhou, I found myself in front of a white grand piano at the hotel dining area.

My fingers and wrists were still numb and I didn't think I could even make it through one chromatic scale. But I couldn't refuse my good friend Le Pecheur des Perles so I launched into the quiet opening chords of the 1st movement to Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. I don't know if they liked it, but judging from the enthusiastic reception, perhaps they did. It's a piece I learned by heart since high school.

Beethoven was on the verge of becoming deaf, and the first movement perfectly captures perhaps his feelings of despair and helplessness, but these changes to optimism and hope towards the close of the opening movement.

I fumbled, stumbled and tripped over my Chopin, stopping midway in the Impromptu because my fingers just wouldn't run. I had difficulty with the final rondo ("Turkish March") to Mozart's highly popular Sonata in A Major, I felt like I was playing with paws.

They still liked it, though. An encore was requested, so I played Chopin's Nocturne in E Flat.

It was probably my worst performance ever, but the enthusiastic response more than made up for my technical mistakes.

One senior member told me they got surprised that I play the piano at all, and they didn't expect me to play that well, my performance was more than what they actually expected.

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Point and Shoot

Frodo has been complaining about my photography skills lately. While taking each other's pictures in the Chinese cities we visited, he had no qualms about giving me a lecture on the finer points of photography.

"Look. Let's compare pictures," he showed me the digicam pics we took of each other, mostly on the same spots.

"See? nobody would ever know that I've even been to China if they look at my pictures."

"But I don't focus on the background, I focus on you. It's a matter of perspective," I explained. Frodo actually has a point. My basic photography skills can be summed up in three words: point and shoot. I may have an ear for music, but I'm totally blind with the visual arts.

"You know what. I'd send you to a photography seminar and even pay for it myself." It is, of course, a rhetorical statement, for dramatic purposes.

"Really? I'd love that," I think he mentally hit me with a sharp object.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Spam

I just received an e-mail from a certain Dr. Davis from get this, Cote d'Ivoire, who claims I may be a recipient of a US$16 million fortune from the estate of a Mr. Maq Ron who died in a plane accident in Kenya.

If I can send back my personal details, he says in the letter, then he and I might share in the fortune.

Duh.

I lost count of the number of times I received spam letters of this sort, always informing me of spectacular amounts deposited in banks in Africa.

Can't they change the location, say like Paraguay, Bhutan or the Falklands for a change?

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Solar Art

After training, while fixing herself and combing her hair outside the shower room, Michido asked me if I wanted to see a sample of what she calls "solar art".

"Solar what?" Actually, I heard her correctly.

"Art," she repeated emphatically while rummaging through her bag. She handed me what appears like a small bamboo flower vase with a black inscription on it.

"See? The script was carved out by focusing the sun's rays onto the bamboo surface with the use of a hand lens." She sounded like we were in a high school science fair.

"That's neat," I feigned interest. Had I said something like, "yeah, big deal," I know my three or four readers would all be shaking their heads in disapproval. Of course I'm nice and polite. I couldn't possibly burst somebody's enthusiasm for the difficult art of solar carving. After all, the process is painstakingly long. If you keep on doing it there's a good chance that you'd go blind.

Curiously, the quiet guy standing near us, I found out later, is the "solar" artist who is also her boyfriend. I should have known. Michido is a leftist-environmentalist type who dabbles in "organic" music, ya know, of the Grace Nono-Joey Ayala variety. Long hair, tie-dye (do you spell it this way?) shirt and a necklace with the face of Che Guevara on it, I guessed immediately the guy's political and ideological persuasion: the anti-capitalist, anti-bourgeois type you'd normally encounter in the State University (hey, that's my alma mater too) and in street rallies denouncing the government's collaboration with the Americans in subjugating national interests (how do I know this? I read their pamphlets).

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Attacking Inflation

The Central Bank claims it mopped up PhP20 billion in excess liquidity by raising yields on its SDA (Special Deposits Account). Ostensibly, by using this facility instead of the T-bill auctions, the monetary authorities hope to contain M3 or money supply growth (i.e. currency in circulation, savings, demand deposits, small denomination time deposits, repurchase agreements, etc.) which reached 26% in April, without necessarily pushing commercial lending rates upwards. Most banks use the T-bills and the BSP's overnight rates in determining the prime rates.

The operative word here is "excess". As such, mopping up the extra PhP20 billion circulating in the economy may not necessarily lead to "overcrowding", i.e., leaving the private sector to scramble for lesser funds available for credit.

A prudent move, given that interest rates may not increase signficantly and at the same time, keeping inflation in check. Inflation seems to be a primary concern of Central Banks all over the world, most notably the Federal Reserve, and our own Bangko Sentral is no exception.

At under 3%, inflation remains manageable and the GDP growth achieved so far seems to be in no immediate danger of overheating.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Making Music Together

I cannot imagine Grizzly, Panda and Polar's tormentor, doing this with me: a piano duo.



Flushing a toilet or pooping in the proper litterbox may be smart and even impressive, but who wants to watch that. Playing the piano is so out there.

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Exhausting Weekend

I'm ready to drop dead. I'm serious.

Had an extremely hectic weekend, starting last Friday as Frodo and I attended dragon boat training, twice last Saturday plus swimming with Jen and Jun in-between, once this morning (Sunday) and an exhausting rowing session in a teammate's pool until late afternoon. It's a good thing the Adidas 10Km Run didn't fall this week-end. - gasp!-

Oh yeah, I'm still nursing a slight fever. But I didn't want to miss out on the training session conducted by our team coach.

This is usually the time of the year when training peaks, prior to the dragon boat Festival season overseas. I wouldn't want to miss it for the world.

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Friday, June 8, 2007

Intermezzo

I always wonder whether words could ever match the tenderness evoked by this piece: Brahms' Intermezzo Op. 118 No. 2 in A Major interpreted by Lugansky. Along with Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, I always play this on the piano at home. Simple yet not overly-passionate, languid and melancholic but not dolorous. Just the right dash of sentimentality.

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Thursday, June 7, 2007

Liebestod

Probably the finest Isolde ever, Birgit Nilsson singing the final Liebestod from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde.

Note Wagner's use of chromaticism throughout, and how the soloist's voice manages to soar above the orchestral sonorities effortlessly.

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Lisp

I'm not really fastidious when it comes to grammar or pronounsheyshen. After all, English is the language of our American colonizers who simply supplanted the Spaniards who came before them. We simply embraced it as our own. As such we have developed our own brand of Philippine English, which may or may not sound strange when compared to the Queen's English (who say's "blimey!" or "lorry" or "knackered" in this part of the world, anyway?). Chief among these differences is diction. Sometimes when Filipinos speak English it is difficult for an American to grasp it because of the different sound. One good example would be the P and F syndrome which can easily sow confusion. I know a lot of people who keep interchanging their p's and f's. Remember pamily size fefferoni fizza?

I used to give Johnny Bravo tongue twisters to cure him of his lisp (this is a lisp, right?). Professor-fropessor, froposal-proposal, priend-friend, farish priest-parish friest- the choices are endless. He'd end up cursing me a lot of times, though for being a smart-ass.

It's not exactly the same with the B and V syndrome, however. I haven't heard anybody say "vanana" yet or "voy" for "boy", but I've heard "banilla" and "behicle" plenty of times.

There are variations, too. Like my former office colleage HeartThrob, who couldn't pronounce "th" properly, it always sounded like a hard "d". "The" sounds like "Da"; "There" is "Der". I once knew a dormmate whose "s" simply flew out the window, replaced by "th". His name was Denis, or more precisely, "Denith". Try to ignore listening to him say "thomtimes" or "today is thunday".

I do not know if the problem is biological (like tongue position, etc, Jun the scientist may want to explain this), I'm not sure if it's cultural either (this seems pretty common among Tagalog speakers, but since I grew up speaking Cebuano and disliking Tagalog, I may be biased).

Which is not to say that I take a better-than-thou attitude because I don't have those diction problems. Far from it. I have a strong Cebuano accent, very evident when I speak Tagalog. In addition, Cebuanos and other Visayans are notorious for interchanging the vowel sounds of "e" and "i". Listening to that classic declamation piece, "Give me Leberty, or give me Deeth," could easily make one wish for Deeth, I mean Death, for the speaker, instead. It irritates me a lot when somebody immediately inquires from which province I come from. I grew up reading and speaking English, speaking Cebuano at home and hating Tagalog (my lowest grades in grade school and high school were Pilipino subjects). Maybe because I use English a lot that's why my p's and f's remain crisp bweheheh. Ppppo-vvvver-ty! Ppppro-ffffi-cient! Pppper-fffect! See?

Who am I kidding. :)

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Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Tourism

I'm doing my bit to promote these islands. Hear ye, hear ye. Watch these:



Hmmmmmm

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Phone Call

A former colleague, Jughead, suddenly called me up one afternoon. Jughead, Archie and I used to hang out together when we all started out as Credit Investigators, a job I was quite happy to leave behind.

"Lester, what's up?" Friends, some people still call me by my first name.

"I'm ok, dude. So what can I do for you?" He sounded business-like, I figured this was only a prelude to one of those networking-seminars, or he'd try to sell me insurance. I once fell into a similar trap when another office colleague suddenly became "too" nice, only to find out she was recruiting me to become a shampoo-and- lotion distributor.

"Do you know anything about the Elliot Wave Theory?" I was shocked. Elliott Wave? Of course, I used to work as a stock analyst.

I figured Jughead must be some sort of a fund manager now, investing pooled funds, say from retired people, and investing it in the booming stock market.

"Yeah, of course. Are you dabbling in the stock market right now?"

"No, not exactly, I'm participating in one of those on-line forums on stock investing you know, and the Elliott Wave seems highly-debated."

I knew it. I think he's gonna sell me insurance.

"Dude, so how's your cash flow?" I'm correct, of course.

"Huh?"

"You might be interested in personal loans. We offer attractive rates."

Not quite, but close enough.

"Let's talk after I return from China," I said.

"That's good enough for me," he said.

And then our conversation turned to his and his wife's efforts to conceive a baby.


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Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Lotto

After rowing this morning, Doc joined Frodo and me for breakfast at the newly-opened Jollibee. I was reading the complimentary newspaper which headlined the surging stock market. For some reason, our conversation turned towards winning the lotto.

"Someone hit the hundred-million peso jackpot," Doc announced.

"Really? I bought a ticket when the jackpot was still ninety million," I said.

"I didn't. You see, I wouldn't know what to do with all that money anyway," he retorted.

Huh?

Incredulously, I said, "Are you kidding me? So you don't want to win the lotto?"

"Money isn't everything, you know." I think this guy just planed in from being an audience member of Oprah. Or suddenly, he had an epiphany, sort of like a revelation, after reading Deepak Chopra.

You'd understand my enthusiasm for winning ANY raffle. Last time I won anything was in grade school in Bukidnon. I had set my eyes on winning the grand prize: a really cool wristwatch. Unfortunately, so was every kid in school.

I won alright, but it was the consolation prize-- a bunch of vegetables placed inside a netbag! When you're ten, bringing a load of upo, patola, squash and stringbeans sticking out of the net bag as you make your way through the streets in your school uniform isn't exactly the coolest thing in the world.

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Monday, June 4, 2007

Internet Thoughts

I lost count of the number of times I changed templates for this blog. Manipulating page elements and customizing the over-all look used to cause me a lot of headaches, especially with the Old Blogger format. You had to deal with unintelligible codes which oftentimes will not work once you mistyped a code or failed to separate it with spaces. This blog used to have codes visible near the header simply because I didn't know how to get rid of it. Tweaking the code design and removing it simply made matters worse.

Which got me thinking: First the mass commercialization and acceptance of the PC became the norm, then the mouse facilitated its even broader practical usage, then the internet revolutionized everything, and then e-mail, chats, and personal sites like blogs. Blogs peaked last year, especially in China where expression of personal opinions remain restricted. I think this year is the year of the widgets. No, not midgets, widgets. Widgets are simply web applications or blog add-ons. Blogger calls these "Page Elements" that allow blog owners to personalize their sites to their hearts' content.

If I'm not mistaken, MySpace users were way ahead even of Blogger, as widgets were already a standard feature. Towards the end of last year, the New Blogger format became widget-friendly, and since it is the dominant blog platform, suddenly, widgets are everywhere.

Google is definitely the dominant internet portal, wresting market leadership away from Yahoo. The search engine remains highly preferred. Youtube and Google video are way ahead of other platforms, although I wish Youtube wouldn't limit it to just 10 minutes of playback time. Amazingly, I never thought I'd be able to watch almost-impossible- to-find video clips of great artists of the classical music genre. I am forever grateful. G-mail, although still in beta, is absolutely fantastic. Since I do a lot of research, just from the content of my e-mails, G-mail automatically displays related sites, albeit some are really for money-generating purposes. Still, it provides a lot of help for my research work.

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Friday, June 1, 2007

Flying High

For the first quarter of this year, the Philippines managed to be the third best performing economy in Asia, posting 1Q07 GDP growth of 6.9%, after China's spectacular 11% and Vietnam's 7%++. This is the country's best quarter performance in 17 years.

Looking at the numbers, services propelled the growth, rising by 9.1%, followed by industry at 5.3%. Again, this underscores the fact that our economy is increasingly services-dependent. The BPO or call center phenomenon is clearly behind this.

At the consumption side, consumer spending rose 5.9% (from 5.3% a year ago), again this is an indicator that there is an upwared pressure on inflation, tempered only by low interest rates, a stronger peso and stable global oil prices. Clearly, the massive inflows of OFW remittances fuel consumer spending which in turn pushed retail services upwards as well.

Capital formation, however, remains worrisome, growing only by 0.6% from 0.3% last year. This means (1) domestic investments (or business ventures put up by locals) remain low and (2) foreign investments, despite moves to liberalize and open up previously restricted sectors like mining, haven't really been significant. Maybe because our economy is heavily biased in favor of services-oriented sectors, the focus has shifted away from the traditional source of growth- manufacturing- which has unfortunately been lagging behind. What is clear is that imports of durable equipment have contracted this quarter (I forgot the figures) compared to year-ago levels.

The benefits on account of the low interest-rate, low inflation and stronger peso scenario have not yet been fully felt in some sectors, particularly manufacturing. Services, agriculture, and to a certain extent exports, have all registered gains.

I will reserve my applause once the manufacturing sector gathers momentum and when capital formation actually shows signs of sustainable growth.

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