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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Break

I will be spending Christmas and New Year's in Bohol. So to all my friends, colleagues, "admirers" (meron daw eh) and visitors here in the Philippines as well as in Singapore, the US, Germany and wherever, MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

CHEERS!!!

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Sumilao Question

San Miguel Foods launched a publicity counter-offensive to the marching landless Sumilao farmers. The latter has succeeded in convincing President Arroyo to revoke the land conversion order which is being carried out by San Miguel in the disputed farm lands in Bukidnon. Ads placed in newspapers show a detailed cost-benefit analysis of how Sumilao town is going to benefit from San Miguel's investment in the area.

That is well and good, except that ownership of the land is at stake here, not the benefits of agrarian conversion. Who has the final property rights? San Miguel, or the Sumilao farmers?

The issue is complicated and goes back to Ramos' term as President, but what I understand is that the landowner with which the farmers had a dispute with, Quisumbing, got the land from the farmers (who were earlier awarded land titles under the CARP) on the condition that he convert the area into an agro-industrial area (e.g., piggery), which means it is exempted from the CARP coverage.

He failed to convert the area for agro-industrial purposes, or I suspect, he had no intention of doing that to begin with. True enough, he simply used the opportunity to take the land away from the legal CARP beneficiaries (the Sumilao farmers), to sell it sometime in the future to a company with the means to enforce the conversion, San Miguel Foods.

I sympathize with the Sumilao farmers, of course. I grew up in Bukidnon, and Sumilao is near our town of Manolo Fortich. There are large tracts of land planted with pineapples as well in Sumilao. The town is basically agricultural, and unlike many provinces in the Philippines where the land is idle, in Sumilao, the farms are productive.

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UP Centennial

People, a gentle reminder: it's UP's centennial in 2008. Let's support the University's activities in the coming year, Yah?

Science & Technology will be given a stronger-than-usual focus (the leftists are not particularly happy about this) and I believe this is the right strategy to take as well. An ambitious PhP5 billion fund-raising activity (Marc, led by your teacher in Management, Emerlinda Roman) over a 5-year period is already on-going, to support UP's development plans and to attract and maintain highly-qualified personnel and teaching staff.

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Download Tip

Finally, I succeeded in downloading Youtube videos to my mobile phone. I haven't been as successful with Dailymotion or Veoh but will keep on trying. Anyway, here's how:

Copy the Youtube URL to an on-line format converter (I use www.vixy.net). Choose your desired format (e.g., PSP, MP4 audio only, or 3GP for mobile phones) and click away. Download the converted file to your PC, and using your phone's multimedia software (e.g., Nokia PC Suite), transfer the converted 3GP file to your mobile, and voila!, it's done.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Dad na si Marc!

Marc sent an SMS from Singapore announcing that his wife Mimin gave birth to Megan Francesca, their first. Marc, congratulations!! Finally, you're now a daddy :) So Che, Joaquin now has a playmate, sa Singapore nga lang :)

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Piazzolla: Libertango



Astor Piazzolla redefined Tango in Argentina. He took the music away from velvet drawing rooms and elite concert halls, and slapped it onto the pavements of working class Buenos Aires.

The resulting music is fiercely passionate, filled with driving and pulsating rhythms and violent climaxes that leave the listeners breathless and gasping for more.

Here's the Libertango, interpreted splendidly by Eckart Runge (Cello) and Jacques Ammon (Piano).

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Language Conversations

During the 1st birthday celebration of Che's firstborn, Joaquin, very much a baby, former office colleagues were on hand to grace the affair. I had an interesting conversation with Calois (pronounced as kal-wah) a stock trader who just completed Level 10 at the Alliance Francais.

"I have 15-year old classmates who are good, imagine that! And so even if I'm so tired and beat up from work, the mere thought that kids half my age might upstage me in class, would be enough to jolt me into wakefulness and study hard."

"The demand for French and Spanish in the BPO sector is so high, agents are paid very high premiums over the standard English-speaking agents."

I know, Instituto Cervantes has so many students nowadays.

Calois and Jenny, another office colleague who is so far advanced in her French, would be sending SMS to each other... in French!

Anyway, what I like about these European cultural offices is that they have a lot of activities, like fiestas (parties), free concerts, weekly movies and film festivals to enhance the learning experience.

By the way, it was my classmate in Spanish, Val, who introduced me to dragon boat rowing.

I'm thinking of resuming my language classes at the Instituto in 2008.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

You Know You're An 80's Kid If...

You used Lifeboy for soap and Prell for shampoo;

You drank juice from a pyramid-shaped tetra pack (Marc, whatever happened to Hi-C?);

You listened to Lionel Ritchie, Air Supply and Bon Jovi;

You wore acid-washed jeans;

You still have a BMX bike at home;

You used to own a Sony walkman;

You shed a tear for either Flor de Luna or Ana Liza;

You knew that David Hasselhoff of Baywatch is the same Hasselhoff in Knight Rider who has a talking car;

You never failed to watch Regal Shockers on Friday Nights, after Vilma;

You still have betamax, betacord and VHS tapes lying somewhere around your house;

You sang "Magkaisa" while wearing yellow shirt (the Cory Era) because your teachers forced you to;

You sided with the USA against the USSR;

You watched all Sylvester Stallone and Chuck Norris flicks;

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Unprepared

Erap says Filipinos should just pray for Gloria so that her image as the most corrupt President would improve. (Gloria topped the survey, followed by Marcos and Erap). But he seemed surprised and unprepared when asked about his being the third most corrupt President in the survey :)

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Encouraging

My original intention for maintaining this blog was to share my views on classical music with pop-music crazy Pinoys. I've written quite a number and obviously, I'm nowhere near achieving that lofty objective. My efforts on discussing Mahler and Rossini, for example, generated not a single comment.

In fact, reactions to my music notes have been, for the most part, unanimous and very encouraging:

John: "I skip it."

Che: "I can't pretend that I understand it."

Jong: "I feel like I have to take a quiz."

Marc: "Too much can cause indigestion."

Jun: *Quietly pulls out a handkerchief and covers his nose to stifle a nose-bleed.*

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Sunday, December 9, 2007

Oprah Obama

Obama now leads Hillary in the US Democratic Party Primaries, I think mainly due to Oprah's endorsement. Oprah, probably the richest woman in the US, is a force in US television; her book club influences best seller lists and her show is syndicated all over the world. When she threw her support behind Obama, the candidate suddenly overtook Hillary in the polls.

If either Obama or Hillary wins, it will be a first in US political history: a black president or a female head of state. Obviously, Oprah chose color (Obama's half-white) over gender. Whether or not she can be a power broker in the world's richest and most powerful nation, oh well, let us just sit back and watch.

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Friday, December 7, 2007

Overdue Pix

From the China Races last June: Zhaoqing, Zhanjiang, Shaoguan, Canton and Nanhai. Photos courtesy of Frodo. Additional pictures "filched," I think, from John's blog :)

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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Not Over

A cab driver told me that the night before the Trillanes episode, a colonel and his wife who took his cab had a discussion about a planned uprising that was going to take place the following day. Which means that taking over Manila Peninsula was not a spontaneous, spur-of-the-moment event at all. Why do I have this feeling that it's not yet over?

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Good Enough

Since my neighborhood is near two fast food outlets, I have become a familiar face to their staff. I'm not exactly perky and cheerful so I don't really go out of my way to engage them in small talk. In other words, my PR skills need brushing up. I think some of them, uhm, find me "mysterious" as a result. I sometimes catch them saying, "here he comes," when I push open the glass doors to come in.

Two summers ago, one manager treated me out to a summer-special fast-food version of halo-halo (shaved ice with mixed fruits), and then asked for my number later. Another manager would sit at my table for a short chat while I take my meals. One staffer on a different occasion offered another free halo-halo. Another one, who I greeted because I recognized him as a swimming regular at a pool where I used to swim, paid my food bill, to my surprise. I think these are not allowed. But I was grateful for the free treats, nonetheless.

One time, as a group of nurses made their way out, one gay guy handed me a slip of paper containing some girl's name and number. A matronly lady engaged me in small conversation, expressing her astonishment at my resemblance to a chinito manager. (Oh, come on!). Still somebody dropped something on the floor obviously to get my attention. He suddenly offered a handshake and introduced himself. (hala!)

And then a call center guy I have never seen before (I wrote something about this incident last year, let me just search for it) waited for me outside. Another guy (yes, guy na naman!) followed me from his Pajero as I made my way through the main street before I made a left turn towards my neighborhood.

But the incident which still astonishes me to this day happened inside a Starbucks outlet. An attractive girl suddenly approached my table while I was talking with Johnny Bravo. She introduced herself politely and told me frankly that she, uhm, admires me. She said she knew that I jog regularly and that I live near the area. Gasp! We exchanged phone numbers and made plans to meet again but when I went to Baguio, I lost my phone. So perhaps, it wasn't meant to be.

I don't qualify as an "eye candy" by any stretch of the imagination. (The pictures speak for themselves, yah?) Don't give me that "strong-sex-appeal" line because I don't buy it for one moment, despite my fruitless attempts at putting a stop to my expanding waistline. So these incidents really surprise me.

One friend said, "you're not drop-dead gorgeous, but you look OK," which never fail to crack me up because it means "puede na" (good enough). The average-sounding "You're OK" is an explanation that's good enough for me. har har har

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Monday, December 3, 2007

Forever

Before departing for Hong Kong from Canton during the China races last June, I asked our "handlers", officially known as Liaison Officers (LO's) to write something in Chinese on the page of a book I brought with me.

You see, one evening, Pam dragged me to the hotel dining area to play the piano. My cheering squad consisted of Pam and the two enthusiastic LO's.

Echo's resembled a Hallmark greeting card message: it means she "wished me happiness forever." The other one, Gloria, refused to translate the Chinese characters, saying I should have it translated in Manila.

After six months, (I almost forgot about it) I finally got somebody (a colleague of a cousin of a friend of a friend's neighbor, you know the drift) to translate her note. They both like the word "forever". Here it goes: "To the prince of piano, continue playing the piano happily. May the sound of your piano-playing stay forever."

uuuyyy

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Sosyal

Trillanes is so sosyal-- he launches his mutinies from luxury hotels, the first at Oakwood (it's no longer called that) and the recent one at the Peninsula. An official pariah, he is now a bonafide member of the "So...syal we bring him?" club.

His lawyer is a total anal-retentive. He said that if his client will be served an arrest warrant, he will have to check the legality of the warrant. Duh. The nerve. The mere fact that they (1) walked out of the hearing and were consequently in direct contempt of Judge Pimentel; and (2) took over a hotel with armed military people means the mutineers were the ones committing a highly illegal and even more alarming, a dangerous act, putting people in harm's way.

I am not a big fan of Gloria, but there has to be a better way in dealing with our country's problems without resorting to drastic measures like these. People are just tired of coup d'etats. Plotters may consider changing their strategies, apparently Filipinos now have a coup d'etat-fatigue.

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