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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Mizuno Run: The Ultimate Dehydration Test

Just got back from my first-ever 15km Mizuno Infinity Run at the Fort. I felt jittery before the start of the race because I wasn't sure if I could run the entire course without limping.

I was already familiar with a major portion of the route leading towards C-5 and the Army headquarters from previous running races. However, it was my first time to pass by the verdant Heritage Park which I mistook to be the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes' Cemetery). And as I made my way out, 15km and 10km runners converged along the long stretch towards the finish line, er, or so I thought.

The 15km runners had to enter McKinley Hill, a high-end piece of real estate. Unfortunately, the hilly (I mean there were really steep stretches) terrain and the water-less water stations made the run a bit arduous.

The We-Are-The-World tete-a-tete among the panting runners was a welcome diversion. ("I'm from *gasp* Cavite *gasp*, you? *gasp*")

Since I forgot to apply Vaseline on my inner thighs, I could feel the fabric rubbing against the skin, with the friction causing extreme discomfort.

I think I clocked more than 1hr and 30 minutes.

Obviously, this race was one of the worst organized running events. As I have mentioned earlier, water stations ran out of water even for the 15km runners who started early. Not a single drop was left for the 10Km and 5Km runners. It's the middle of summer, for crying out loud. Running for more than an hour with a parched throat under searing conditions could have disastrous consequences. For those lucky enough to get some, water was handed out in really small cups, ya know, those plastic cups used by promo girls for "free taste" inside malls. Have the organizers and sponsors no idea as to the total number of participants? Are they even aware that this was supposed to be a running event, not just some marketing gimmick. Duh.

Frodo immediately went home after his 10Km because he was soooo dehydrated. Jun, three quarters of the way, told me he had to sip water through a garden hose from Manong the landscape gardener, along with so many others because there just wasn't any water from Mizuno. Hey! If you want to promote your shoe brand, generate good will and encourage loyal consumer patronage by sponsoring running events, be sure that there's plenty of WATER around. Ugh! Stupid organizers. Hello? Some runners who were lucky enough to bring spare change were forced to stop at a McDonald's to buy water. And get this at the finish line, there was hardly any water! Ano ba! Mizuno Infinity Run sucks big time! Walang kwenta!

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Romanian Brew

While chatting with friends outside the Kalayaan Dormitory in Diliman, a group of Evangelical missionaries from Romania introduced themselves.

"We're from Romania, you know, Nadia Comăneci's country", they gushed.



And without skipping a beat, I shot back, "Of course. And Nicolae Ceauşescu's."

They did not like me.


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Pathetic Pathetique

I'm trying to nail this one. I mastered the second movement years ago, because it's only an Adagio. I thought that this movement (1st, marked Grave) was way too difficult for me. Surprisingly, it's really not that hard.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Runner-runneran

In preparation for the 15km Mizuno run at the Fort this Sunday, I ran a full one-and-half hours at the Marikina Oval last night. A group of runners were doing stretching exercises when I started and when they were stretching their legs to cool down an hour or so later after their jog, I was still running, Dios me.

I felt like falling into a coma. It's a good thing my feet did not hurt despite the constant pounding. Maybe it's the shoes. It's New Balance. When I bought this the sales guy delivered an impressive lecture on shoe design (I remembered nothing), proceeded to measure each foot, consulted some table before going back to the stockroom to look for my size and gave me a discount. Hmmm. My old Adidas running shoes gave me foot sprains.


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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Exag

The problem with Hillary, as Obama's adviser who subsequently left him for making stinging remarks against the former First Lady says, is that she's willing to stoop down to just about anything. She went overboard when she claimed her trip to Bosnia in 1996 came under sniper fire upon landing in the airport's tarmac. She lied, of course. Video clips during that trip showed her smiling and walking confidently as she made her way out of the plane.

Remember, when she sort of "broke down" during a campaign sortie and showed her "human" side? Ugh. Drama. She's supposed to make history should she win the US Presidency, but this 'scrape-the-bottom' approach does not sit well with a lot of people.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Nursing Conversations

Johnny Bravo told me he wants to shift careers away from nursing and focus on cooking instead. He took cooking lessons from one of the culinary schools suddenly sprouting like mushrooms all over the metropolis. Since he's a good cook, he's being tapped to teach, which he prefers, because he feels like quitting his job as a Clinical Instructor at a teaching hospital. He can't leave his students for one minute-- a stressful situation-- as he's concerned they might endanger the lives of the hospital patients if they make major mistakes. He doesn't mind cutting open the cadavers of murder victims in a mortuary, though. He takes pictures from his cell phone and shows them to me.

He says the nursing industry is bursting at the seams.

"I thought the demand for nurses abroad remains sky-high. In fact, we have a shortage of nurses in local hospitals, right?" I asked him.

"Not really. There's an oversupply of nurses, much like in the mid-nineties when nursing graduates couldn't find jobs and ended-up doing something else." He said this with authority.

"In fact, the US is only starting to process nursing applicants from 2002, " he added.

Which only confirms what Jasmin, a Credit Investigator-turned-Nurse told me when we met up for coffee a few months back.

It's the law of supply and demand on full display.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Cutting Rates Ad Infinitum

The Fed cut interest rates again, this time by 75 basis points. Any rate cut is always positive, as it brings down the cost of borrowing. However, successive rate cuts over the past year only managed to mitigate the negative effects of the sub-prime meltdown. You can't rely on monetary tools forever. The Fed has to institute structural reforms, such as overhauling and placing effective monitors on mortgage derivative institutions. You are not addressing the real cause of the problem by simply cutting rates while ignoring the gaping cracks on the wall.

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Overboard

Why do people keep on talking about that Bb. Pilipinas syntax faux pas during the interview portion? OK Janine what'sherfamilyname messed up her answer, but for crying out loud, it's a freaking BEAUTY pageant, not a job interview! Ugh!

Many people here, gays especially, think that winning an international beauty tilt like Miss Universe or Miss World is equivalent to sending a man on the moon, ya know, a page in history! Dream on. It won't even merit a footnote. Amazingly, they post the winning answers of previous title-holders on Youtube and proceed to analyze why this or that contestant deserved to win or not. Get a life!

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Run, Ron, Rrrun!

Mizuno Run. March 30. That's 15 Km. Gasp!

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Palm Sunday

The Palm Sunday mass early today was awesome. I like it when parishioners start waving their palm fronds. This is the time when Catholics commemorate the event when Jesus made His way through the gates of Jerusalem. People greeted him by waving palm fronds, a fitting welcome for the King of kings.

Have a blessed week everyone!

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Annual Thing

Manny Pacquiao's boxing matches against various Mexican opponents have become a yearly affair. Just like last year, I could hear my neighbors' oohs, aahs and inevitably shouts of joy when Manny won the match. Channel 7's delayed telecast was annoying, it had to cram as many commercials as possible in-between the telecasts. Those with tickets inside cinema theatres as well cable subscribers who opted for pay-per-view saw the event in real-time. Astute politicians eager to share in the limelight, made a bee-line to watch the event live in Las Vegas.

And predictably, streets in and around my neighborhood were eerily quiet once again. Not even Trillanes can put the country in a standstill. The only person capable of doing that has gotta be Pacquiao.

As sure as the day is long, Manny will most likely be swamped with commercial endorsements, probably next only to Kris. (By the way, Kris, do you really use that Leandro bags and belts? Have you even tried inhaling that Whiteflower you are promoting?).

Manny, please don't extend the run of your Extreme Magic Sing commercial. I had to dive to get the remote and change channels each time you start bleating on that blasted machine.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

I Told You So...

I love to stick my neck out, that is, I delight in giving unsolicited predictions about important events. I've been keeping score and I must say my batting average is very satisfactory.

Politics

  • Erap got pardoned by the Arroyo government;
  • Former NEDA Chief Neri's first Senate testimony on the ZTE scandal implicated former COMELEC Chair Benjamin Abalos;
  • Long before the Senate investigations, I already concluded that high-level corruption had taken place;
  • Gloria wasn't booted out as a result of massive rallies last February;
Economy
  • Recession fears in the US were already apparent early last year;
  • My notes on the direction of interest rates, exchange rates and inflation have been pretty much accurate;
  • Prices of cooking oil are shooting up, as current supply is unable to cope up with demand from industrial, commercial and household sources;
  • The issue of trans-fats is starting to take hold of consumers' health consciousness;
  • Gold and metal prices are zooming to unprecedented levels;
  • Bio-fuels are fast becoming a fad;
Those are my hits, as for my misses, I can only think of one: the Burmese junta didn't fall from power, contrary to what I expected.

Anyway, as for the Obama-Clinton tug-of-war for the US Democratic nomination, I'd place my bet on Obama. Also, if this will be the case, I think Hillary would be willing to slide down and run as Obama's Veep. Get back at me if this will not bear out in the next few months.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Questionable Appeals to Emotion

Leftist groups like Karapatan never fail to amaze me. They can protest all they want, for all I care, but do they have to use small children fitted with microphones to cry their hearts out just to send their group's message across?

Drama. Ugh.

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Comeuppance

I thought it was over. THE blog of the moment (scroll down a few entries below to Crap du Jour) did say adieu last night, albeit prematurely. It's still up and running, although less venomous. Practically everyone in Manila who has an internet connection was riveted to the PC monitor. It was like watching a bomb explode in suspended animation, or better yet, in slow motion. The comments section, now disabled (as I write this), took a life of its own when anonymous readers pitched in on what they know of Manila's wretched and depraved socialites. I think earlier in the week, Kitty Go did join in, considering that her best-selling books focused precisely on the issues (and featured some of the same people) touched upon by Brian in his blog.

The blog spread like wildfire because pent-up rage against the snooty alta sociedad welled-up from people who can't stand such displays of ostentatious behavior-- especially in a third world country where there's so much poverty-- at the expense of one gullible Aussie whose main fault was that he loved too much and was terribly taken advantage of, like the tragediennes of opera and drama.

What goes around, comes around. Yup, this horrid bunch brought it upon themselves. Hey, that's karma. Do something good, and you will be rewarded. When you start to screw people, someday you will have to pay for it in some other way.

Media has been slow in picking up the story, but with the attention that it is getting, (averaging 50,000 hits a day!), this will likely blow up soon. Hello, that's way, way more than these newspapers' daily circulation numbers combined. You can bet your bottom peso the Lifestyle section of the Philippine Star won't pick this story up. :)

Schadenfreude is a German word we normally encounter only in Psychology or Philosophy which means one is feeling happy at the misery of others, or more precisely, the misery of the high and mighty as well as the annoyingly popular. That is my extended definition, of course.

This word simply explains why people keep on returning to that blog, because it confirms the FACT that even if most of us will never become as rich as these horrible people, or that hell will have to freeze over before the jologs and the masa can ever set foot inside Embassy or dine in Aria, we're so much better than them in many ways: Our lives are well-spent because our humanity remains intact. We don't steal and we don't do drugs. We watch Oprah. (I mean, you pala). SCHADENFREUDE, Yah?

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Celebrity Look-alikes



Do I really look like any of these people? Lena Olin? Seriously, now. Maybe the Chinese guy.

Another picture I uploaded yielded a whole bunch of Asian celebrities I have never heard of. Oh yeah, Dean Cain, which means I look like Superman. Also, do I really resemble Helena Bonham Carter? :)

Oh yeah, a former office colleague told me I resembled General Emilio Aguinaldo. Funny, because along with Jen and Jun, we visited the historic Aguinaldo house last year.


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Updated Deadly Sins

Out of the original seven (7) deadly sins that is a sure-fire way of sending you to hell, I can only remember like, three (3): sloth, greed and lust. The Church has now updated its list from the original which dates back to the Medieval times. It now includes: drugs, polluting the environment and genetic modification.

OK, ok. Scripture doesn't specifically state, Thou Shalt not Snort Coke or Shabu, but clearly that is defiling one's body and really sinful, isn't it? I guess the Church is merely stating the obvious.

Thou Shalt Not Use Plastic or buy refrigerators that use CFCs doesn't exist as well. That's putting it rather in general terms but will I really go to hell for doing that? Perhaps if I own a large factory and dump toxic chemicals into the river.

But genetic modification? Most people do not even know what that is. So using genetically-modified soybean oil for frying eggs will find me knocking on the doors of hell? I think the Church really wants to zero in on human cloning and other aspects of GM technology that tinkers with the process of developing life.

So the list isn't encompassing and I'm sure certain conditions have to be met before it will qualify as "deadly sinful." Otherwise, the list will only appear ridiculous.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Onli in da Pilipins

Last week, on his noontime show Willie Revillame pointed to the sexy dancers as "pampagana" (loosely translated as "appetizers"). Shouldn't he be censored for saying that? Kids are watching the show kaya.

Also, those Bench print ads and billboards showing male celebrities in multi-colored briefs sporting fake bulges along major highways (especially the one along EDSA). Yes, Ben Chan, your market consists of women and gay men, but children also look at those billboards, you know.

Kris Aquino is the new endorser of White Flower (yes Marc, the White Flower we inhale before boarding a rickety banca bound for Cebu, or an ordinary 'round-Bohol bus). She'll lend her name and face to everything, probably even the kitchen sink.

Anabelle Rama whipping up a storm because Lani Mercado snubbed Ruffa! I'd rather watch a video of Efrel Vhoy Reheno!

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Crap du Jour

If there's one thing Manila's press is good at, it's a saucy material a la Kitty Go. And over the week-end, the blogging community has been abuzz and flipping over a scandal next only to Edison Chen's in Hong Kong. It involves well-known "social butterflies" or "party animals" you always read about in the society pages of magazines and broadsheets, who allegedly parlayed their supposed status in "high" society and fashion to scam a jilted foreigner lover of his entire savings with their vodka-guzzling, coke-snorting asses, toting Gucci bags and partying like there's no tomorrow.

It has all the elements of a fine Regal films drama: drugs, booze, sex, even AIDS and kabadingan.

The foreigner is exacting revenge and spilling the beans from Down Under, with pics and all, naming people who frequent that pretentious shrine of fashion and coolness at the Fort as if it were their own backyard (If I'm not mistaken, the annoying Tim Yap is part-owner of Embassy).

Why am I even writing about this? Grrrrrrrrrr.........

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Saturday, March 8, 2008

Piazzolla: Le Grand Tango

Oh wow, I've been looking for this for a long time, Yoyo Ma playing Astor Piazzolla's beautiful Le Grand Tango. This piece was commissioned by the Russian cellist and conductor, Mstislav Rostropovich in the 80's, but he premiered this only in 1992.

This piece has become widely popular, it is something fresh, combining tango with jazz effects all within a classical three-part sonata form; it flirts with dissonance to create a stunningly original style that is passionate, sensuous, dark and terribly sad but brims with joie de vivre as well.

What is astonishing about Piazzolla is that he is claimed by more than one music genre: tango, jazz and classical. He is certainly not exalted by hard-core tangeros in Argentina who feel that he veered away from the standard form. But it is precisely this knack for improvisation that has appealed his music to jazz musicians, and his highly original style that combines Bartok and Stravinsky with Bach, jazz and holy crap! 70's kitsch won admirers from the classical genre, especially the cellists Yoyo Ma and Rostropovich and the violinist Gideon Kremer of which a violin transcription of this tango was prepared for him.

*click here*

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Thursday, March 6, 2008

RAVEL: Le Tombeau de Couperin (CECILE LICAD)

Our very own Cecile Licad, breezing through Maurice Ravel's towering finger breaker, Le Tombeau de Couperin, especially in the finale marked Toccata. Contrasts abound in this work, which Ravel composed as tributes, or more precisely, obituaries to friends killed during World War I. It takes the form of stylized suite of ancient dances, Prelude, Fugue, Forlane, Rigaudon, Menuet and Toccata, paralleling earlier "tombeau" works, such as Couperin's tributes to even earlier composers going back to Baroque, such as Corelli and Lully.



Licad's playing is wonderfully flowing, like the sound of cascading waterfalls or of a pebble hitting the pond, that's how delicate and light-footed her touch is. Even the slow passages have a certain nobility to it, and the quiet ones are like a search light in the dark.



Ravel's music can be devastatingly difficult. And the finale, the toccata (3rd video, 2:50 onwards) is almost like a response to the keyboard works of Liszt and his disciples, especially Balakirev's Islamey, a litmus test for virtuosos brave enough to scale the heights of extreme virtuoso writing.

In this video, Cecile Licad rose to the challenge, gave life to a Ravel masterpiece and made the piano sing. Bravo!

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Marc! I Almost Forgot...

The title of Kris Aquino's album is Songs of Love and Healing. I figure you might be interested. hehehe

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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Summer Plans

The cold spell seems to extend towards the summer months. You feel the summer heat kicking in supposedly by mid-February. I only swam once at the ULTRA, and it was c-c-cold. Rowing during the summer seems an attractive idea, but if PVM, Norman Bates' mom and Gandalf the Diva are going to be there, then waking up at the crack of dawn and dragging yourself out-of-bed only to breathe the same air as they do is SOOO not worth it.

I'll ask Jun to design a training guide for long-distance running, now that he has a spankin' new Garmin (that's the coolest GPS gadget for serious runners) he bought in Hong Kong.

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Lord of the Garage

Late this afternoon, Grizzly engaged in a fierce fight with a new, ginger cat who has been trying to establish itself on my garage and my next door neighbor's front yard. As I have mentioned before, both Polar and Panda have disappeared. Manang Mimi has since left my landlady and I wonder if she took both cats with her.

Anyway, I'm not able to determine yet the gender of my prospective, garage tenant (depends on Grizzly's approval). If it's a she, it's quite possible Grizzly was trying to rape her. If it turns out to be a male, after all, then I guess the Lord of the Garage was just defending his territory from intruders, showing everybody who's the real boss around here. Eh? What about me?

"Grizzly, why can't you stay out of trouble?" I'd ask him, and he'd lift his nose to sniff the air.

"Last time you had a fight you got a black eye and a bloody nose." And then he proceeds to yawn, which is his way of saying that my monologue bores him!

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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

End of the World

I thought I'd never see the light of day when this event takes place:

*click here*

Yes, of all people, Boy Abunda follows in the foot-steps of his ward Kris Aquino who had earlier released an album as well. Both cannot sing if their lives depended on it, and so they rely on other people to do the singing while they engage in monologues, pseudo-poetry and inspirational conversations supposedly to bring "comfort and joy" to the listeners.

My foot. I'd rather have a root canal without anesthesia.

But Ron, you implore, you haven't listened to the record yet. (You're really, really nice).

Sure, but as one cliche goes, "You don't have to bite into a donut to know that it's sweet." Yah, I have no intention of buying crap to realize that it IS crap.

There's no way people will buy this stuff. Are you kidding me? If they do, then planet earth will likely disengage itself from its orbit, throw itself onto an oncoming planet before crashing towards the sun.

This is obviously a "Vanity" project. It will not likely generate any revenues. Most likely, this project is subsidized. Much like the Kris Aquino album, this one is part of a bigger marketing agenda to ensure Abunda's appeal to TV viewers remains intact. At least, Boy and Kris can now claim to be legitimate "recording artists," albeit of questionable merits.

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Saturday, March 1, 2008

Happy 2nd Blog-versary

I am stepping into my third year of blogging. It never fails to flatter me that although drama events in my life and stream-of-consciousness ramblings do not necessarily make for an interesting read, some people still devote precious moments of their busy lives to check out what's up with me.

I never thought I'd be baring my soul in cyberspace, to begin with. After all, would people really care?

Initially, I blogged because I wanted to free myself from the rigid strictures of the impersonal style of business writing. I managed to surprise myself, even. Marunong pala ako mag-sulat :)

Writing is a form of therapy. I work pretty much alone most of the time and this blog allows me to share my thoughts and ideas to whoever cares to read them. However, I don't really blog because I want to be read. Far from it. I simply want to unburden myself of the things I see and feel around me. Whether or not readers agree with me or not, or whether they find me offensive or obscene, do not really bother me at all. Tucked in a small corner of my tiny apartment, this personal journal allows me to retain my sanity.

Reading my earlier posts can be a humbling experience. I never thought I could be funny, downright sarcastic, and so darn incomprehensible! But that's how my mind works and how my heart feels. It keeps my humanity intact. It provides an invaluable window to my personality, and hopefully, people can see beyond the uhm, ready? "hot bod with the face of an angel" .............I'M KIDDING!!!!

Seriously, reading my old blog entries is like flipping through picture albums, a trip down memory lane, preserved in cyberspace for posterity. It makes me smile, sometimes cringe. And then I move on with my life and write yet another entry so powerful it could move mountains and bring down governments...GOTCHA!

I'm getting ahead of myself.

To The Write Stuff (I might as well say To Me), Happy Anniversary!

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Favorite Restos

I had lunch earlier at Krung Thai in Marikina and since the resto updated its menu, I tried the Massala Chicken. With the spicy aroma redolent of the hole-in-the-wall eateries in the back streets of China, Taiwan and Singapore, I felt like I was transported thousands (OK, hundreds) of miles away.

Torn lemon leaves, curry imported from, where else? Thailand and galanggal, a ginger variety more aromatic and peppery in taste, made all the difference. And then I had a rich Thai iced tea, the color of which reminded me of orange paint mixed with tiesa and cardboard.

I had to dash to the nearest Red Ribbon for coffee afterwards for something familiar, to wash the exotic taste that seemed to cling to my palate.

I asked the waitress if they had another branch somewhere else and she replied they have none. The place is Marikina's well-kept secret and regulars like me are just too happy that the resto prefers to be low-key and hasn't succumbed to commercial interests and thankfully hasn't compromised the quality of the food yet.

I used to frequent Fersal's resto in P. Tuazon because the food and the service were great, I couldn't resist the buko-pandan fruit salad, I can stay as long as I want and best of all, nobody seemed to know about it. Too bad, it has since transformed the resto into the apartelle's lobby.

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