Related Posts with Thumbnails

Shooting cascades in Papa-a

As soon as I saw small cascades running down the stream, I immediately thought it would be good to do long exposures. It was just disappointing that I did not bring my tripod [again!]. But then I felt I had to shoot.

Awesome sunset in Butuan City

It is not very often you get to witness a stunning sunset that gives you goosebumps. For a photography junkie like me, you should never, never, never let it pass just like that.

Winning a photo contest

Winning a photo contest for the first time (well, officially and with a prize for that matter) gives a different high!

Missing Cordi

From afar, I could already see the clouds rolling over the mountaintops. It was a sight to behold. So I asked the driver of our vehicle going to Buguias, Benguet to stop so I can capture this once-in-lifetime scene.

Cory Aquino: An inexhaustible gift to democracy

She further stressed the belief that the Filipino people, as a nation, can be great again. During her last State of the Nation Address (SONA), she said: I believe in the inexhaustible giftedness of the Filipino people.

Conversation with a cab driver on climate change

Ironically, this cab driver who would like to contribute something help curb climate change and global warming, by planting his narra tree becomes discouraged and disappointed...

At home [and at peace] with HDR Photography

HDR is not bad per se. HDR is nice to learn. In fact it is a must for non-pro like me to learn HDR to learn more about shadow and light and exposure, which is the crux of photography.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Unveiling my photo gallery

Earlier, I blogged about making photography my priority. I was lucky to go back to Baguio last Monday and Tuesday to start the case study I was commissioned to do. And I was more lucky when I learned that I will be going to Brgy. Gibraltar where the Good Shepherd convent is located (yes, the one producing great tasting jams and jellies). It is just a stone's throw away from Mines View park. All these augured well for a photo opportunity, as I would be able to capture images in-between work.

Mines View Park is great for capturing street life, scenes and some thing-a-majigs. I did not have to go farther. The Good Shepherd compound has a really nice garden where I took photos of anthuriums and some plants and garden pieces. And right on the doorstep of the Shontoug Foundation, where I gathered some information for my case study, are kids on the playground who willingly posed for me, and the Shontoug store which offered interesting subjects for photography.

I think, you just need a place that is teeming with almost perfect subjects, where you can practice photography. So I ended up taking 800+ shots. Of these, around 450 are good. And one of my favorites is this photo. It took me around 50 shots just to perfect this photo. The weather was not fine, and it was windy that made it harder to get images that are not blurred. I had to change the metering modes, the exposure levels, the speed, and the best positioning, etc. In my second day, the weather was better, and the wind was just right not to shake the hanging flowerpot. And the rest of the day just went well.

I just edited some of my 200+ photos that I will share in my Flickr album. I also made a special set just for this photography tryst, entitled: CAPTURING BAGUIO. You are invited to see my latest photography works. Just click the Flickr Zeitgeist on the left panel.

It also takes time to classify, pick the best photo, and resize. Gladly, I did not have to edit the colors anymore. Olympus is really great in capturing colors! I will be posting at least 10 each day to complete my set of at least 200 photos. So you are always welcome to view my photos. (However, please observe intellectual property rights.

If you like a photo that you can use for non-commercial uses (blog, school articles, and presentations) just ask me. I would be more than willing to share, provided that no alterations will be made like editing in photoshop or other photo editing softwares and you agree retain my digital signature on the photo for credits.

For my family and close friends, if you want an electronic copy for printing. Give me a wink. Just tell the size and I will edit it for you, and send you via email.

Enjoy the photos!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Between two passions

Finally, I have the time to blog. I have been busy for the past weeks finishing a case study on water system delivery. And I am about to embark again on a journey, which is related to work. For my avid readers (Bwahahaha! Feeling!) do not worry, because when I come back, I will be bringing with me a whole new set of experiences, memories and vignettes.

I am now caught between two passions--between blogging and photography. That is why, blogging may take a back seat for a while and concentrate on my renewed passion, after my loving wife bought me THIS ONE. Who would not be excited? I have a new toy!

Having this one is making me nuts, though. I have to learn from scratch and feel like Grade 1. From point and shoot to DSLR--would require such patience, as it was a lot easier to get good photos with point-and-shoot cam. I got disappointed with my first shot, my second shot, and my 10_th shot. Sigh!

So, in between writing my case study, I have to hold it and and take some photos for practice. I would not want to quit.

Still disappointed.

Got to read that manual, once and for all!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Pretty Anne and the Amazing Bloggers!

I am smiling at the title because it sounds like a title of a carnival show, or "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Fun Factory." I am just a bit crazy. Wala lang! (Just for the heck of it!).

I have been nasty in my earlier blog. I guess that brings out the bad thing about me. But I only get impatient with people who are inefficient!

I am now feeling better, despite my suffering from gas pains (which is the reason I cannot sleep yet) and constant burping due to hyperacidity, plus the fact that my asthma is starting to attack again, I am in my elements to talk about two good things in this blog entry.

First, I finally caught on Star Movies the over-sensationalized movie "The Devil Wears Prada". All I can say is that it is a so-so movie of Meryl Streep! For me, it is far inferior from her Bridges of Madison County, and Sophie's Choice, although she did a stunning "less talk - more acting" performance which she is really good at. Nonetheless, I am still a big fan of hers. What also caught my attention was Anne Hathaway. I just love this wide-eyed stunner! What a way to cap the night! (But I did not like the part when "Andy Sachs," her character, slept with the other guy. Ugh! The machismo in me tells it isn't really cool!).

To borrow Miranda's line: "That's all!"

Second, I think I have the "moral obligation" to name some Amazing Bloggers in my blogroll after Monaco named me as one of his Amazing Bloggers. (Thanks, again pal!).

I only maintain a few in my blogroll for me to be able to regularly check on their articles. However, it does not mean that those who will not be included in this list are less important to me.

  • Ed dela Torre for a the wisdom as a teacher and as an agent of social change and spiritual growth
  • Ruel Tafalla Photography for his different take on photography. I just love it!
  • Mother of Two by ApplesH for her cute articles about her little boy!
  • So far, So Good by Doc Ian for sharing the passion for community development
  • Literary Ek-Ek by Buraot/Ross - this is relatively new, but it caught my attention because of his love for his family. He can tickle your funny bone too with his Anak ni Kulapo blog. Mabubu-ang ka.
  • Señor Enrique - because I am just a fan of this great writer and photographer. Do I need to say more?
  • Vanilla and Caramel - not because she is my friend, and not because I just love the way she expresses her crisp wits. I love her more because of her great love for Zack!
  • Underside by Nina Bumanglag - for being vocal and a true Maroon!,
  • Darang Sisa - for her heartwarming articles, and of course,
  • Keyboard Monologues by Monaco for his different take on any topic under the sun, and his fearless punditry

For the rest, please give me time to read your blog.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

The problem with call centers

Since Wednesday, I was offline. After trying to connect, my DSL connection just did not respond. I checked all the cables because there could be some lose connection. I restarted but no response. It was only when I was about to call the customer service hotline, did I realize that my phone did not have a dial tone. Not again!

Without any other recourse, I had to use my prepaid cellular phone to call the hotline. Again, it took them too long before a customer service representative would answer my call! As usual, the CSR agent who got my call could not give any reason why our phone line was cut. Acting like robots, they told me they will report it to the technical team and wait for 24 hours before the line could be connected again. Since I was at their mercy, I asked for an update. The girl at the other end of the line told me they will.

I patiently waited. Twenty-four hours had passed. No dial tone. No updates. I was disgusted. My work relies heavily on the internet--I had to check my e-mails for some last-minute instructions from my client, do research on the topic I was writing on, and of course read and update my blogs. Twenty-four hours is 24 hours.

Losing my patience, I called again from my prepaid phone. Again, it took them too long to answer that I had to hang up before 1 minute is over. I finally succeeded after the 3rd call. Nonetheless, the CSR person who answered my call knows what she was doing. I just gave my number and my name and confirmed I am the account holder, and I told her I am following up on the line reconnection. She did not ask what my complaint was, but instead looked at the recent records and reiterated my complaint by updating me that there was a stolen cable somewhere near our area. However, the bad part is that she promised me again to wait after 24 hours. Okay. Fine with me. She was good in handling my call anyway.

On the 3rd day (Friday night), and taking off from the promise that our phone line would be reconnected within 24 hours, I called again. This time, I was no longer goody-goody with the CSR agent. Why?

She could not follow through my speaking speed (which is normal , and which was the speed I used with the previous CSR agents, and I do not even have an accent!)--

"Hello! This is ______, and my phone number is _____. I would like to follow up on the reconnection of my phone line."
It took me 3 times to say these lines! Finally, she got it and I told her I am calling to follow up on my earlier complaint. She asked me if I have a complaint number. I do have the complaint number but I had no time to look for it in my notes and because I was using a prepaid phone and I was running of load. In disgust, I told her,

"Can you not look for the records of my complaint at the computer infront of you? As far as I am concerned, I only have one complaint and that is about the reconnection of the phone line!"

She gave me a number of reasons which I did not bother to listen to. Instead, I barraged her with more complaints: that they told me they would reconnect my phone within 24 hours--and that they will update me but nothing of this happened within 24 hours--and now can she update me what happened?

"Sir, we will report this to the technical team," her lame reply.
Without any patience and kindness in my heart that time, I told her how many times should they have to report this complaint to the technical team and that I do not want to hear that crap because all I wanted to know is an update. Can she not give me an update of what is happening so I will know if I should permanently cut my subscription with them? Before she could answer, I also told her to stop telling me any memorized and standard reply because I am already pissed off with those replies. It was just so disappointing to know that they were only commissioned to take in complaints and nothing more, and that they do not have an idea on what is going on with the technical team.

Albeit seething with anger and disgust, I still managed to give them a piece of my mind. I told them that it is not my fault that their cables would be stolen. They should keep guard on their cables! What they should do is to ensure the continuity of their services for the people they vowed to serve. Second, they should have a strong feedback mechanism with the technical team so that they would not take all the flak from the irate customers like me. I even told her that since our conversation is recorded, let the company management hear it and begin improving the customer service by not just commissioning a complaint-taking services but include a service that will give an update on the complaints, or better yet, improve their internal customer-feedback mechanism. She wanted to say something but I did not want my prepaid load to go to waste, but instead, I emphasized in loud and exasperated voice: I just want my phone line back and I want to get an update at 10Am tomorrow.

Next day, Saturday, at 10AM, no dial tone. No feedback. I resigned my case. There was no point in arguing with CSR agents because they are only agents. Sometimes, private companies are even worse than the government.

At 6:30PM today, the line was restored. Somebody called me to check if the phone line was already okay. I said "yes", but I was not in the mood to express my gratitude. (Bad me!).

In the end, I pitied the CSR agent. It might be her first time to receive a call. And she could be in her probationary period. She might not get the permanent status and lose her job. I am sorry for that.

But then I stand by my irate behavior. I have the reason to get mad.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Celebrating Life, instead!

I wanted to blog something about suicide because of the blog of Liz about another suicide supposedly attributed to poverty, and because I want to advocate that the media should stop this media-hype because of the possibility that suicide might actually be "copied" and misconstrued that it is cool to commit suicide as what Prudence has mentioned in her blog as Werther Syndrome.

I had to refresh my psychology since it was already eons ago! I rummaged through the net and looked for theories of attribution, cognitive dissonance and suicide itself. But then, discussing suicide is in itself mind-boggling. So, I decided not to discuss suicide for several reasons:

  1. If I would stretch my mind just to present an academic discussion into a human interest blog entry, I would turn nuts! One did an anthropological study on suicide in Palawan for years! Plus, there are discussions that range from legal, philosophical, psychological, socio-cultural, anthropological, theological, medical, etc. etc. I only have one hour! I am not that gifted to put all these discussions into 4 paragraphs. Just Google it!
  2. I might get disappointed if I cannot write an article because I made a personal promise that I owe my readers, which I can actually count with my ten fingers on my hand (smile), then I become so frustrated, and depressed! I still have my wits intact. Don't worry!
  3. Last, but not the least, I stumbled on a website, which I think is the only website in the Philippines (except for the news item) about suicide and support for suicidal persons. This is PRO-Life Philippines website. Actually nothing much is discussed about suicide. What caught my attention was THE JOURNEY OF LIFE.
Isn't this more blogworthy than the horrific and morbid stories about suicide?

....And I remember the day when my wife told me she was pregnant of Gio. The day when he was born and how I exclaimed: "Tatay na ako!" (I am now a father!).

Fatherhood was something I did not fear right from the start. I fully embraced the fact that I have to leave some parts of me behind. There were some trepidations, why not? It was my first time to be a father! But the joy of seeing your son in his nursery crib, holding him for the first time, inhaling his breath each morning, bathing him, feeding him in the middle of the night--would always be 100% effective in erasing the worries. The feeling is simply indescribable!

...and This poem of Robert Browning, Pippa's Song, would perhaps explain how I felt:

The year's at the spring

And day's at the morn;

Morning's at seven;

The hillside's dew-pearled;

The lark's on the wing;

The snail's on the thorn;

God's in his heaven---

All's right with the world!

Cross-posted at: Psyche

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Countdown to Christmas

WE WERE A BIT LATE in sprucing the house with Christmas decors. We were all too busy doing our work after the Halloween break. It is already a tradition that a day after the Halloween, I would gather my family as I bring out the tree from its box and let the kids adorn it with balls and stars.

Gio, during his prep and grade school years, always looked forward to seeing the tree spruced up. I would see him in such awe and being so delighted with the dancing lights. When it is almost November, he would always look at the calendar and remind me that we should put up the tree and put on the lights already. Matter of factly, I just told him "after the Halloween."

When his little brother, Gelo, came into this world, he showed him how to hang the balls and stars. Gelo is perhaps even more fascinated with the tree to the extent of even pinching the tiny bulbs that scared all of us for he might actually break the bulb and get electrocuted. Hence, Gio would always remind his toddler brother not to touch the lights or remove and play with the balls. Gelo gladly obeyed. Gelo seems more afraid of his kuya than us, his parents.

Putting up the tree today is a little different because their mom is on travel. The fact that kuya is now on his teens, he seems to have lost the zest and excitement of decorating the tree. They were more busy with playing their PC game so I had to threaten them that I will uninstall it if they will not heed my commands. I did not win. I just shrugged it off, but did not decorate the tree for them. I wanted them to supposedly enjoy this moment.

Instead of getting more mad at their disobedience, I went to the mall to look for a replacement of the busted bulbs of our capiz lantern. Unfortunately, I could not find the right size. So I went home frustrated and tired only to find out that the tree still stood up without any decor at all. I realized they were busy watching Saving Private Ryan on DVD. (They have a different taste for movies at their young age.).

Finally, after watching the movie, and me reminding them, they willingly obliged. I occasionally watched them while I was checking my blog and email. As in the past, I saw them having fun and having great time together. They were even outsmarting and racing against each other on who's getting the bigger balls (because they are fewer and easier to hang) or who gets to hang more stars. In less than 30 minutes, they have done their task. They did a good job!

While working on it, Gelo realized he has grown up. He could already reach the top of the tree, and kuya is now even taller than the tree. Indeed they grow up so fast! The next thing we know, they are already getting mad at their kids just like how I was mad at them for not decorating their tree.

But wait a second! Not fast-forward yet! It is not yet done! The next thing is them asking me:

"Where are the gifts under the tree?"

Cross-posted at: Psyche

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A poor kid nation

Isolated case?

Telling the whole world that the case of Mariannet is an isolated case is clearly irresponsible a statement and an oversight of the glaring truths that the government itself has known. In fact, the government is merely talking about one side of the coin. Are people in Malacañang not even aware of the real stories behind death because of poverty—especially among children? Definitely, they are not aware of how it means to be poor and hungry!

The National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) has issued a press release in its website, openly admitting and declaring that children account for the largest poor population in 2003. The press release said that 14.1 million children are poor in 2000, and 13.5 million in 2003. The sector is also the third poorest sector with a poverty incidence of 42.5% in 2000, and 38.8% in 2003.

In real numbers, we are talking about 13,469,849 poor children. In Region XI alone, where Marianett lives, there are 737,496 poor children, which have increased by 78,421 from CY2000 to 2003. Who says the case of Mariannet is just an isolated case?

Continue reading

Friday, November 9, 2007

My blog is featured at Mindanao Bloggers!

I just submitted my blog, answered a few questions, and not long enough, my blog was featured. I just thought it was cool!

Thank you, Blogie and the rest of the Mindanao Bloggers!

Click this link to read the feature and why I am part of Mindanao Bloggers:

Marianette: without seeing the dawn

"Gusto ko na makatapos ako sa pag-aaral at gustong-gusto ko na makabili ng bagong bike."
(I wish to finish my studies, and I really like to buy a bike)
Marianette, in her tala-arawan (diary) entry dated October 14.

I HAVE ALWAYS been reading Inquirer.Net. I browsed through the news but never really paid attention to this article because I was rushing a project proposal on a project related to poverty alleviation. It is a shame on my part to have missed this! I am a psychology graduate and could have been interested in depression and suicide! Shame on me for being self-declared anti-poverty worker for not paying attention on this news!

Now I have come to terms after watching the news in ABS-CBN and GMA 7. I feel better now. As a social development worker, I learned the hard way not to be overly romantic about my work so that I can be objective and more effective in my work. In this case, I could not do anything but, again, feel for their loss.

No, I am not going to campaign for flowers this time. Neither will I ask you to post a photo of a bike for Manette, nor blog anything on poverty alleviation, nor against the government.

Let us walk in the pair of shoes of Manette (if ever she had one).

Feel what it means to be poor--where you are not counting paper bills but some loose change--or even beg for them,

when you feel resigned to the fact that three meals a day would be a luxury,

that you wear the same clothes day after day,

that you are rejected just because you are poor,

that you are dirty just because you have no water,

and the list would go on and on....

What have you learned from Manette, and all other Manettes who have died because of poverty?

How many Manettes more of Mindanao, and the entire Philippines will suffer the consequences of poverty? How many children and their dreams only remain to be distant and dead stars?

How many times should the government, react and not act on poverty?

How many of us have actually shared our lives--in our own little ways--to end poverty?

Manette is not just a news item. She is not just a girl. She is a symbol! She is one of the many faces of poverty who have lived, who have gone, and who have became dust--without seeing their dreams come true.

May her soul peacefully rest in God's Kingdom, where she will inherit abundance and eternal life!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Arroyo, Estrada and the zarzuela in Malacañang

Finally, I am breaking my silence regarding the plunder case of Joseph Estrada, which I followed for the past months. I opted not to write about this in deference for the blog action I initiated for the Glorietta victims, then the Halloween break.

It was also necessary for me not to react immediately, as this article has to be well-thought and carefully written. So here I am, still writing on this issue. Read on....

Politicized justice

"Pardon one offense, and you encourage the commission of many." - Publilius Syrus, ~100BC
Pardoning former president Joseph Estrada has created not only quite a stir in the Philippine political arena. More than ever, it has created havoc in the Philippine justice system.

Needless to say, there was undue haste in pardoning the biggest and the most controversial crime ever recorded in the Philippine history—that is plunder by no less than the President of the Republic of the Philippines. Be that as it may, had Estrada admitted his guilt, it would have been a different story. Watching and listening to him on national television, telling the whole world that corruption was a crime he never committed, was more than an insult to the entire nation. Again, his kind of rudeness has attacked the dignity and the very heart of the justice system only a few hours after the People of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers of the President of the Republic, has freed him.

Is this the kind of payback we expect from a person who has received a guilty verdict and who has been given freedom by the very institution of Filipinos?

Continue reading

The tale of two spinsters

WHEN WE WERE YOUNG, my late father would always warn us not to get inside the big compound owned by two spinsters, which occupies at least one-thirds of the entire block. Since the owner of the compound is a distant relative, and being young and innocent, we did not see anything wrong wandering and playing hide and seek inside. He would irrationally scold us whenever he saw me playing with my cousins and my nephews and nieces my age inside the compound. The compound was like a mini forest, planted with bamboo groves, fruit trees, bananas, bushes and tall grass. It was enough reason for a scolding because there might be snakes especially near the bamboo groves.

However, I could vividly recall that I could only freely roam if my father were with us during some gatherings and every time he would be asked to butcher pigs and other livestock. Aside from extracting tooth, he had the talent of hitting the jugular vein that allows faster and seemingly painless death of animals--without the long shrieking and crying sound. He also had the sharpest bolos and knives, thus the invitations for him to help relatives during birthdays, weddings, fiestas, and in every handaan.

One of our neighbors abhorred the two spinsters. She had a psychotic son and daughter. However, she was in denial that she attributed the mental illness to the spinsters, spreading gossips and openly uttering invectives redounding to the conclusion that they are evil and that they are witches playing with their lives. Hence, she always had herbolarios (quack doctors) in their house, sometimes living with them for months supposedly to cast the spell out from the bodies and minds of the psychotic children—only to find out that they could not. In the end, nobody was able to treat her son and daughter, until they got old. One of them, a lady, died due to infection after she was soaked in floodwater while being chained to her waist. She was the violent type. The other patient is under the care of his son and continues to have medication. Eventually, the old woman got old and weak, got bedridden, and succumbed to death.

The story about the two spinsters eventually mellowed down when the mother of the psychotic patients stopped accusing the spinsters. The spinsters also have grown old.

Although our house was re-built on a property line, we still had some windows on their side because no house was built in the adjacent lot anyway. From the windows, we could see macopa and guava trees teeming with fruit, which only fall on the ground. When the younger spinster was still stronger, she would habitually leave some guavas on our windowpane. They were big, yellow, and seemingly sweet. However, they only rot until my mother would throw them away. One day, my father and the younger spinster had the opportunity to chat by the window; she offered my father some guavas, which he ate after she left. A few minutes after he had them, he had severe stomach pains, nausea, and vomiting that caused him to be bedridden for a day.

He never expected they would do “it” to him since he is a relative. He was mad as hell and hurled invectives, too. Then, he realized they had a spat some years back when our house was reconstructed. The property line had to be redefined and reclaimed on our favor.

Only then did he tell me about their witchcraft. It was like a piece of a puzzle. This could be the reason why he was always scolding us during our childhood when it comes to playing inside the compound. I did not believe what he said, thinking it could be medical in nature because he had a history of stomach ulcer.

Recently, when I had the chance to go home, I would still see some guavas on the windowpane. It would not hurt if we would follow my father’s order not to eat any fruit left on the windowpane. Therefore, I took the liberty to throw them away—even if they were delicious, and even if my wife would have wanted and almost ate them (as in biting the guava). Lately, however, I noticed that no one was giving us guavas anymore. I wondered where have the two spinsters gone?

The two old spinsters are already old and bedridden.

My first reaction was, “You mean they are still alive?” They are even much, much older than my father, and we never heard any news that they ever got sick!

Legend has it that witches cannot die until they pass on their power to one of their kins. Could it be that they are real witches and that they are waiting for their power to be inherited by one of their nieces or grandchildren?

Their middle-aged niece, who is the only one left to take care of them, sees through their needs. She told her cousin-in-law that she is only doing it out of respect and pity for the old women and not for any inheritance. It was even a butt of joke between her and her cousin-in-law, if she was promised a hefty inheritance.

“What inheritance? Their evil powers? No way!” she vehemently said.


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