Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Back to School

Picture this: a tough gangster, the most feared in the country and who's expected to take over as "boss", pretends that he's only 17 years old and goes back to high school to get his diploma. Tough call. Oh man, it's a riot, right from the start. Makio, the Yakuza heir-apparent, messed up a potentially lucrative deal simply because he's a little "slow," he had trouble with simple arithmetic. He can't even write his name properly. Crazy. And so the Yakuza's top boss, Marlon Brando's counterpart in the Godfather, threatened to by-pass him for the position unless he gets his high school diploma.

Yap, I've been watching episodes of the Japanese comedy drama, My Boss, My Hero which I download from Veoh. Feels like watching anime, with lots of crazy sub-plots. I like the fight scenes as well- fast, furious, kung fu- like - it's not the Asero-type at all, you know, post-production explosions and lots and lots of slow-mo crap.

I'll try to watch the entire season. It's a pleasant, funny ride so far. I watched the third episode without subtitles *triple gasp!* hello?... I had to guess what it was all about but I think I managed to get the gist.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Chopin's most beautiful nocturne, the Opus 27 no. 2 in D♭. Haunting and dreamy, it's like watching the moon caress the garden on a balmy but cloudy evening with its fading light.

Lang Lang on the piano at Carnegie Hall.

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I watched parts of Gloria's State of the Nation address yesterday and I agree with her on the issue of retaining the VAT. She said VAT collections go a long way in funding social services and creating job opportunities. OK, ok, that was of course meant for a broad audience, and so the motherhood statements that ring hollow.

Removing the VAT can have dire consequences for the country. I hope those militant groups who engage in drama and empty rhetoric realize that. Let's analyze this one properly without getting too worked up or emotional, shall we?

VAT collections account for a huge chunk of government revenues. Removing this means we're back to huge budget deficit days. Incurring huge budget deficits in turn means lower credit ratings, thus higher interest rates on existing and prospective sovereign loans, loss of investor confidence resulting in a weak currency and inflation, putting pressure on the already-high gas and commodity prices on account of global supply constraints.

In order for investments and capital to flow smoothly into the country, the country must show a strong revenue base consisting of direct and indirect taxation (VAT, customs duties, etc.), as well as a determined tax revenue collection effort (as a % of GDP, we lag behind our ASEAN neighbors).

By the way, why do IBON Foundation surveys get noticed by media? Are you kidding me, that blasted NGO's surveys use the most biased and the most unscientific methodology in the country. Ridiculous results! Huwag na kasi patulan, lumalaki lang ulo ng mga yan!

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Monday, July 28, 2008


I'm probably one among the few people who haven't seen the Dark Knight yet. I heard Christian Bale's really good, I mean after all he's one of those severely underrated actors. I still remember his old Disney, Oliver Twist-like movies where he plays a street urchin who suddenly dances and breaks into song; or the boy who got separated from his parents in the unforgettable Empire of the Sun by Steven Spielberg where he managed to survive by himself amidst the chaos of the war, or the cold-blooded, calculating psycho in what else, American Psycho. In contrast, the mere mention of George Clooney or Ben Affleck makes me want to puke each time. I avoid their movies big time.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Overcharging Bully

The ERC shouldn't just focus on the unfair imposition of system loss charges by Meralco to its consumers, but should reexamine the items included in the computation of the Rate on Return Base formula as well. This is used by the distribution utility firm to set its rates. If I'm not mistaken, the formula includes the company's income tax obligations to the government. In other words, even Meralco's taxes are being shouldered by its electricity consumers.

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I've been laughing my brains out the past hour or so, courtesy of Himantayon, a Cebuano website that claims to "chronicle the limits of our humanity"- whatever that means. I don't exactly know the equivalent of himantayon in Tagalog or English, the adjective observant, even when added with the adverb keenly doesn't seem to capture its essence, or the Tagalog pakialamero (nosy) is just darn too negative. So Marc, help out, how do we define it?

What I like best about the website is that humor and popular culture are captured casually in crackling, good old-fashioned Cebuano. I speak Cebuano fluently-- it is after all, my native tongue-- but it is the Northern Mindanao variety which is light-weight compared to the richer, more archaic and antiquated (for my ears) language spoken in Cebu, the kind I get to hear only on AM radio stations.

I remember feeling amused when I heard someone say "nalisang ko" (I was confounded) since it has a very poetic ring to it. Very much like listening to a Provençal dialect, I imagine: you don't understand it, but it sounds pretty all the same

Marc, have you seen this site, nagsige ra ko og katawa :)

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Marathon Challenge

Oh my gas! TinaC, one of the most generous and nicest people in my dragon boat team, sent over a video clip of me playing the piano last year in Guangzhou. I'm still unable to upload it, server glitches, I think.

She says I can only start to call her "Ate" after I complete my first full 42 kilometer marathon. Hwahwahwa. More than four hours of non-stop running, gasp! I might as well climb Mt. Everest. Well, who knows :)

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Friday, July 18, 2008


Walking inside the mall, it is sometimes very easy to spot what sport people are into based only on how they look. Basketball players are the easiest and virtually a give-away: they're almost always tall. A swimmer usually is dark or tanned and has a V-shaped body; a dragon boat rower has a mismatched pair of arms and shoulders- one side is bigger than the other; while runners are basically skin-and-bones types-- you could almost mistake them for famine victims-- there's hardly an ounce of flab in their bodies. If they're not the "Kenyan" types, then look "down there"... no not that one!... lower, the legs-- usually its bigger and muscled.

I swim, but I do not have the curves of a swimmer; I used to row and one side of my body was bigger than the other; and I run, which means my legs now resemble a construction worker's.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008


With prices of just about everything going up, inflation hit double digits for the first time since, I don't know, the 1980s. People are tightening their belts: the main avenue near my neighborhood feels eerily deserted late at night, and traffic isn't as bad as before with less cars and trucks in the streets. I almost thought it was Holy Week again.

The overhead trains, especially the MRT along EDSA is horribly overloaded, even during non-rush hours, sardine-style. It's a good thing Pinoys generally do not smell bad.

It has been raining for a couple of days now. It's gray and dreary. I think I'm gaining weight. I can't do my usual jog because of the rain. Swimming doesn't appeal to me just now.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sadako Experience

When my brother and his girlfriend watched the movie The Ring which featured the character we now see in our nightmares (courtesy of the movie), ya know, 'Sadako,' they only had the vaguest idea what to expect.

And so they watched the Sadako-starrer... at home. At night. Around 9 or 10 p.m. And so when Sadako, in her trademark all-white sleeping gown, her long, jet-black hair covering her chalk-white face and hiding a murderous, bloodshot eye, started to crawl on towards the TV screen, they both fell from their seats, half-expecting Sadako to come out of the screen to strangle them!

When I first saw it in the cinema, the audience reaction was an experience in itself: the girls behind me were screaming their guts out, ahead of the actual scary part. Anticipating the shock factor probably prevented them from having seizures and heart attacks.

Which reminds me of the time when my brother and I first saw The Exorcist on the big screen. At night. It was a special screening to benefit a beauty pageant contestant. There were no posters, no information at all about the movie. We thought it was an action movie starring Chuck Norris. When Linda Blair's face turned a full 180 degrees, we just knew there was no way we would ever sleep well that night.

Sadako, after all these years, I still remember you!

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Monday, July 7, 2008

Centre Court

Finally, Nadal beat Federer to claim Wimbledon in a heart-stopping marathon battle that came close to five hours! Winning Roland Garros and Wimbledon in the same year puts Nadal in the history books as well. He's officially the new king of the centre court.

I have always rooted for the Spaniard over the Swiss, because the latter's clean, elegant almost ballet-like style didn't appeal to me, in contrast to the former's brute force: wild, feral and almost sexual, watching Nadal play is like witnessing a lion let loose in the Roman dungeons.

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Sunday, July 6, 2008

Da Who?

I used to work for a foreign securities broker which had a counterpart office in the UK. One London trader was a Swiss who spoke French. His name was Francois. I think it was Marc who said that somebody once sent a fax message to the London office, addressed to a Mr. Franz Wa.

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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Hair Cut

When I was a kid, the dominant hairstyles sported by boys my age were inspired by only two themes: (1) the airforce and (2) coconuts. I'll explain.

The airborne style is either a semi-kalbo ("shaved") or a flat top. Usually, mothers prefer this cut for boys who love to play outdoors because they do not have to deal with lice later on. We called it airborne because according to the movies we have seen, air force pilots sport this hair style.

It is the second style that defined my hair as a kid: the coconut husk cut. Yes, just imagine a coconut husk-- the same one you scrub the wooden floor in your house in the province-- and put it over my head. That was how I look like as a kid. Our town barber must have gotten his inspiration while scrubbing the floor. He must have thought that bangs would best complement my round face and chinito eyes.

I think I looked like Lang Lang as a kid, except that I was never a chub.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Finger Pointing

Sulpicio Lines is now turning the tables on the sea mishap involving its domestic passenger ship, Princess of the Stars by laying the blame on Pagasa, the national weather bureau and curiously, Del Monte Philippines for its toxic cargo on board. It claims that Pagasa's faulty weather forecasting caused the sea accident.

If there's one common denominator that binds economists, meteorologists and psychics together, it is forecasting. Although the first two rely on empirical evidence and mathematical models, psychics depend on personal "vibrations,"the crystal ball and tarot cards.

Forecasting is always a hit-and-miss scenario. Madam Auring probably predicted Muhammad Ali's win by sheer luck and now rely on cheap gimmicks for publicity. For economists, have you noticed how many times the IMF, World Bank, ADB and other think-tanks revise their economic projections? In fact, I think the weather bureau had more hits than misses compared to economists. (This reminds me of the Prophet of Boom in the nineties, the Harvard-trained Bernardo Villegas who was so optimistic in his projections that he already defied logic). How many times have the weather bureau advised the public to bring umbrellas for an expected rain shower, only to have the blazing sun shine brightly? Lately, one Bicol governor castigated the weather bureau for sounding the alarm of an impending typhoon in his area, which missed it entirely when the typhoon veered towards another direction.

My point is that forecasting techniques in meteorology (and economics) are far from accurate, it's somewhere between science and good, old-fashioned guesswork.

In addition, ships are equipped with weather forecasting equipment as well as satellite weather feeds and the ship's engineers have been trained to deal with weather disturbances to facilitate navigation. Actually, sailing ships need not depend on the national weather bureau, really. They're capable of doing forecasts themselves. The fact that no other shipping vessel sailed that day means that the accident was clearly a result of a judgment mistake by the crew.

Frank/Fengshen was supposed to track the westward route, until it changed its mind and turned northwards and accelerated its destructive force as well, which unfortunately, was the path Sulpicio Lines was taking, on the opposite direction.

And putting the blame on an agri-business company for the toxic chemicals on board is really mind-boggling, claiming that the ship didn't know that the chemicals have high toxic levels. Really, so if a cargo contained chemicals for the manufacture of shabu, Sulpicio wouldn't know? or wouldn't care?

Sulpicio, do the right thing. Claim responsibility for the accident and stop pointing fingers at Pagasa and Del Monte to deflect the heat away from the company. After all, it was clearly a bad judgement call on your part, which unfortunately cost human lives and may bring down the company to bankruptcy.

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