Flood memories

This morning I was just worried about a leaky roof and homeless kids. now a lot of people, rich or poor are affected by Ondoy.”My Facebook status, September 26, 2009.

If others have lost everything, what you have is definitely more.” – One of my recent OOB.

Photo by: Dennis Barbaira

One of the shots during typhoon Ondoy. Photo by: Dennis Barbaira

Why do I help? The truth is, I’m quite surprised with my own actions lately because right after the news updates about the damages made by typhoon Ondoy came out of Twitter, Facebook and on TV, something in me kicked in like an adrenalin rush. All of a sudden I became uneasy, felt pity towards the victims and immediately I felt the need to do something about it. Ah, I now remember. It must be about my experience in 2006 when typhoon Milenyo hit the country where I personally witnessed the destructive capacity of a flash flood and the emotional impact it brought to those affected – my in-laws. 

Although my wife and I were not in Batangas when it actually happened (I was at work during that time), we came to help the very next day after wind and rain abated. Although I was so eager to help that time, I however wasn’t prepared enough at the sight of Milenyo’s aftermath. As soon as we arrived in Sto. Tomas, I saw that the whole area going to my wife’s place was covered with almost knee-deep mud that we had to leave our car beside the highway and had to walk barefoot for several meters to their house. Upon reaching their place, the extent of the damage became more apparent. More brownish mud covered assorted things that were piled outside, some of which were for cleaning but most of it already deemed useless and for disposal. Inside, flood marks are still visible on the the wall and the floor of their whole house still obviously muddy and the clean-up of their flooded basement still on-going.




from top left: basement, still a couple of feet deep. another room about to be cleaned. things to be cleaned & sorted. a relative looking at what was left from the flood.

Pics from the Milenyo aftermath. From top left: Basement, still a couple of feet deep. Another room about to be cleaned. Things to be cleaned & sorted. A relative looking at what was left from the flood.



In no time, I joined the backbreaking task of manually scooping the water out of the house by passing bucket after bucket to my brother-in-laws who have been doing the same thing for almost a day already after the water stopped rising and receded. The only time we took a well-deserved break was during lunch which was also when I get to hear startling details of how everything happened almost at an instant. They said that water from the nearby creek overflowed and reached their house at a very fast rate that my in-laws and their neighbors were caught unguarded. My mother-in-law added that within a few hours, muddy water forced its way inside the house, sweeping away appliances, clothing, food, important documents and precious photos. The only good thing she said was that the flood occurred when it was still daytime. If it were during night time, it could have been an entirely different story with a very high chance of a deadly outcome.

We went home in the afternoon on that same day as there’s just no place to take decent sleep as everything inside the house is still in total disarray plus the fact that power is out, food is limited and sanitation is very poor. Back at home that night I slept dead tired but I did little complaining as I know my in-laws were feeling a lot more than just body aches.

So with the recent wrath that Ondoy made, everything seems to haunt me back even if our place in Cavite, and thankfully, this time including my in-laws’, was once again spared. And with the experience I had in Batangas still fresh in my mind, I now immediately recognize the desperation and helplessness of those affected by what our weather bureau, PAG-ASA, says as a record rainfall for our country in 40 years. I now feel and understand what these victims are feeling and I’d be guilt-stricken if I’d just sit down and watch the news as it is broadcasted on TV. This time I know that I have to act. This time I know I have to help…just like the rest of the kind-hearted Filipino (and even those abroad) people.


Photo credit: Dennis Barbaira


Mood: 3/10 Honks! (happy that more people are helping)


wedding and anniversary

A wedding anniversary is the celebration of LOVE, TRUST, PARTNERSHIP, TOLERANCE & TENACITY. The order varies for any given year.” – Paul Sweeney (as written by wifey in her card)


For reasons I can’t even explain and even didn’t mind researching why, June is the time of the year when most couples find it a perfect time to make their marriage vows in front of the altar. This month another lovely pair was added to that June groom and bride list – Rogel and Marivic, who were my co-workers from my previous company, Intel. 

What so special about their wedding is that other than just being invited, it was my first time to be among the principal sponsors of a wedding and that made me seated next to men twice my age (no pun intended) which Rogel and Mavic picked to testify as their witnesses as they declare their binding love and commitment to each other through the sacrament of marriage at the small yet baroque Nuestra Senora de Garcia church in Makati.

The whole wedding ceremony was simple but well celebrated, with almost everyone (especially current and ex-Intel folks) of the attendees knowing what they’ve been through prior to this day. There have been several break ups and make ups which during those times don’t seem to give any hint that they’ll eventually tie the knot. Thankfully, they finally did and I was among those who celebrated with sincerity when they marched out of the church as husband and wife.




For my wife and I, June is just as special – we got wed also during this month. Although I still can’t believe how time flies so fast which got us through three more years from the dreaded 7-year itch, being able to celebrate this year’s wedding anniversary together is just amazing…however simple our celebration may be.

10 kilos and 10 years ago

10 kilos and 10 years ago



I don’t know if it is just me, but the funny thing I notice is that as our marriage anniversaries progress, we tend to give cards that are rather wacky (in appearance) than romantic. Proof to that? On our 10th exchange of wedding anniversary cards, each just reflects how we see our relationship in the past years – that despite the challenges and misunderstandings we never forget to take time to laugh our heart out together. Didn’t they say that laughter is the best medicine? I’d say I’m a believer.

Here are the “lovely” cards we gave each other that made it hard for me to suppress laughter just so as not to disturb our precious 10th anniversary wedding gift – our 1-year old boy.



Mood: 3/10 Honks! 




Haiku for you mom

Your day is here mom

For you whole year round hero

Your son loves you so.


Happy Mothers’ day to all moms!


Mood: 3/10 Honk!

One drinking session and Two phone calls later


Last Saturday was the one of those days that everything that has happened are in my favor. By lunch time we were in San Miguel, Batangas to attend the town fiesta at my in-laws’ place. And as usual the variety of fiesta foods were once again overwhelming and as usual, the promise to be on a diet has to be sidestepped – both to my delight and guilt.

Of course, fiestas here are never without a drinking session and this time, I’m all for it with only the thought of doing the tagay (a practice of passing drink to everyone around the table using only one glass) holding me back. But the gloomy and the scattered rain showers made the setting even more perfect and justifiable; and with the overused dialogue, “malamig eh, painit tayo, tara na inom (it’s cold, let’s get warm by drinking)” making the alcohol intake a definite go.

As expected the drinking session went on like an ever familiar routine: an ice-filled pitcher is filled with beer; a tanggero (one who distributes the tagay) religiously passing the drinks to one drinker at a time; and of course my favorite, other than having the beer, is eating the pulutan (finger foods) which is normally pork in any form. And among the pulutan that day was dinakdakan (recipe originally from Ilocos) which is made of pork meat, pork brain, spices and coconut milk. Yes it’s cholesterol-filled, but then again it’s one of life’s guilty pleasures.

My alcohol binge however was abruptly disturbed by two separate calls. The first one was from our time sharing company – RCI — and although the agent sounded a little bit apologetic for the news she’s about to deliver, I on the other end of the line was glad that there might be some cancellation on our resort reservation which my wife and I discussed a day before to delay just so I can attend my first two MBA classes in Ateneo (I didn’t know that it will start this May instead of June). The resort in Bolinao didn’t give any commitment yet if when they’ll be able to fix what was affected by the tropical storm Emong but I’m OK with the delay nevertheless.

A few hours and several rounds of tagay later came the most welcomed call. It was a phone interview from a call center company I’m applying for. I don’t know my alcohol level at that time, but if my judgment serves me right, I was at least within driving tolerance – I was thinking then that if I can drive sanely, then most likely I can accommodate and answer the phone interview and hopefully, pass. Well, several spoken English later, I was right. I was given an invitation for a written examination somewhere in one of the towers in Makati next week. If only personal job interviews can be done while under the influence of alcohol, I think I’ll be hired. Hahaha.




Mood: 3/10 Honks!


Be a pro-earth Christian this Holy Week

I don’t know how to react exactly to last night’s news. The TV patrol reporter introduced the news, “…dagdag pasanin na naman sa mga deboto (additional burden again to the devoutees)…”; at that point I was expecting to hear something really bad. To my surprise, the well-emphasized “pasanin”was just about a Php 20 (less than USD 0.5) fee being asked by the DENR at the foot of Mt. Banahaw for those visiting it this Holy Week. The fee they say is for the maintenance of the environment.


I can’t help but shake my head in dismay for such news exaggeration. I also feel pity for those people who were interviewed and answered as if they are being individually extorted of thousands of pesos. Hey, if you reached Banahaw, donating Php 20 I know isn’t something that will deprive you of anything at all.


The DENR has all the rights to collect such fee. It is already a fact that even those with good intentions to take their religious panata (vow) have intentionally or unintentionally left their garbages up in the mountains. It is sad that others aren’t aware that whatever they have brought along with them should be properly disposed of. I’ve been in Mt. Makiling once and I saw that there are indeed people who patrol the area just to remind everyone that trashes shouldn’t be thrown anywhere. I also heard from some of my friends who are into mountaineering that it is a protocol to pack and bring every trash and have it disposed properly once they went back down the mountain.


So instead of feeling paranoid about where the donations go, let’s give DENR the benefit of the doubt. Besides, it’s Holy Week isn’t it? It’s un-Christian to think bad about other people just as it is un-Christian to leave those garbages behind after you have prayed all day. And do you still remember one of your grade school’s classroom poster, “cleanliness is next to godliness”? Well, I just hope so.




Wed want to have our kids see trees when they grow up, dont we?

We'd want to have our kids see trees when they grow up, don't we?

Here’s a timely tip coming from Greenpeace – green vacation tips:

  1. Unplug appliances at home: Save energy by switching off and unplugging all electrical appliances you before you leave your home.

  2. Reduce waste: bring your own bag when you go out, say no to plastic – straws, bags and sachets.
  3. Bottle your own water. Bring your own refillable container instead of buying plastic bottles that will go straight to a landfill when you’re finished.
  4. No natural souvenirs: Do not disturb the natural ecosystem by bringing home sand, rocks or shells for decoration.
  5. Be green even if the hotel isn’t – Turn off lights and air conditioning when you leave the room.


Have a green and Holy Week everyone! (quit that smile, there’s no pun intended).



Mood: 2/10 Honks!


Of writers,national pride, and the environment


Sorry if I’ll write one more on this but I really can’t get enough of the Chip Tsao issue or at least relate some things to it. So out of curiosity yesterday I asked my wife to get me a copy of the Philippine Star on her way home from work. My main purpose? Just to check if someone wrote an article about this most talked about shenanigan. Well, someone did and I was all smiles as wifey handed over the thick Sunday issue.

F Sionil Jose

F Sionil Jose

The writer was no less than the national artist for literature himself, F. Sionil Jose. And not only that, his article, “Why are we a ‘nation of servants’? appeared to be a well-revised composition (no pun intended) of my two recent post about the Chip Tsao issue. And here are some excerpts from that article:

“Such insults hurt profoundly but the pain fades quickly and soon after all that enraged outburst, we settle down to the same complacency, we continue sending more of our women abroad to be raped by Arabs, demeaned by Malaysians and Chinese, heckled by the Brits. What has our sense of outrage brought us?”

Chip Tsao

Chip Tsao

“Do not kill the messenger (referring to Chip Tsao) who comes to us to tell the horrid truth about us. Ingest his message, then [sic] turn all that outrage, that vehemence, to the Filipinos who turned this beautiful country into the garbage dump of the region.”


F. Sionil Jose’s words rang like ever resonant tuning forks in my ears. “…then turn all that outrage, that vehemence, to the Filipinos who turned this beautiful country into the garbage dump of the region…” He wasn’t after all just talking about how most of us reacted to this recent release of racial slur but it was as if he’s hitting two birds with one stone. He’s whipping most of us with what has happened to our environment.

It’s a pity, but while most of us are trying to defend our national pride by loosely attacking someone from outside, we failed to recognize the fact that within us, Christians, and some self-declared devout are people who blatantly made our surroundings like one big trash can. How many times have we seen plastic cups come flying out of rickety tricycles, and heck, even from brand new cars? This just goes to show that neither social status nor educational attainment doesn’t guarantee ones concern of the environment. Our love and respect for Mother Nature needs a conscious effort that we all need to do. And we need to start doing it now.

In my opinion, wearing a shirt with the three stars and the sun, or wailing as if on cue once we feel discriminated, isn’t one way of showing our nationalism. It is by recognizing and acting accordingly to the problems that we face right in front of us, that we earn the respect of other people – especially foreigners. Let’s not just get contented with being labeled as being hospitable, resilient (if this still counts), skilled workforce and religious. Let’s do more than these and let’s show the world that we aren’t a nation of servants, nor we are living in a nation of trash.


If you can still see us, then well do better next year.

Wifey, son and I on a candle lit alfresco dinner. If you can still see us, then we'll do better next year.

Looking at the bright side, it’s good to know that at least there are a million Filipinos who heed the call to participate in the Earth Hour celebration – and if it was by choice or not, I actually don’t care. For me, just to learn that most of us have “voted” for Earth even just for an hour is enough. Hopefully, we raise this level of awareness and be a part of the majority (is it?) who starts to recognize that something must be done about the environment.


Other tidbits from yesterday’s Philippine Star Sunday edition:

  • Finally, I read something sensible in Joey De Leon’s column. Hope he keeps it that way.
  • Until now, I still can’t stop feeling the hypocrisy over some charity drives. Bulgari is selling rings intended to help some children. 20% of the P19,000 they say will go to Save the Children campaign. You can do more than that, Bulgari. And why can’t those buyers just give the whole amount instead in the first place?
  • This I find alarming: Explosives chemicals were found in US baby formulas. 15 brands are in question for having perchlorate, an oxidizer in solid fuels used in explosives, fireworks, and rockets. Isn’t this the reason why our baby boy seems to act like the infamous coyote who has taken acme stuffs? Hmmm.
  • Demi Moore saved one man from committing suicide through her Twitter network. Great Job mrskutcher, crisn73 is now one of your followers.




Photo credits:

F. Sionil – Wikipedia.org

Chip Tsao – gmanews.tv




Mood: 3/10 Honks!



It’s just two and half, and yet almost everything has happened so fast.

Friday. We went to the beach – it was Marcus’ first. The weather was crazy as it was forecasted to be one hot sunny day. It indeed looked like it in the morning but just before we left the weather changed. It shifted from sunny to gloomy. Fast.

We pushed through anyway. And just more than an hour later we were at Munting Buhangin beach in Nasugbu, Batangas – 80 km. away from home. Quite fast considering I was driving defensively. It may be because of the well paved road – at least just before Munting Buhangin where it was muddy, rocky, and steep. Or it may be because I was expecting that some of my colleagues are already waiting for me. They weren’t.

With the absence of the group, lunch wasn’t what I expected it to be but I still had a good time – with just the three of us. Watching our little baby frolic on the sand and being with him to enjoy his first dip in the water is just worth every time.

We left just a couple of minutes after my colleagues and bosses started arriving. They’re staying overnight. As much as I wanted, I just can’t. I have an exam the following day.

Saturday. I was up very early in the morning and this time I wasn’t blogging. I was preparing to leave for Ateneo Rockwell.

By 7:45 am I was in a room sitting with a group of serious looking men and women. We’re all taking the entrance exam for Masters in Business Administration course.

The exam was in two parts. Part I was English and math. I think I did well in English. But I think I did otherwise in math. Part II was very new to me. I never had such exam before and interesting as it may seem, it was one hard, migraine-inducing 100-item 40-minute test. I never noticed the time. It flew so fast. Results will be on Monday. I’m not expecting to pass.

I was home just past noon. By the afternoon, we were out. After dropping wifey at Intel, Marcus and I were left to our own devices. Out of the blue, I decided to pay his godfather a visit for the first time. Luckily, he was at home but they’re preparing to attend mass. At least, he and Marcus met albeit short and fast.

After killing time in front of the Jollibee statue of a nearby mall, and wondering the whole time if Marcus was having a conversation with his current favorite figure, we headed back to pick up wifey. We then headed to the mall. Marcus needs new pair of shoes. He has damaged his third footwear and the new one was of a bigger size. He’s growing. Fast.

On our way out, we dropped by a computer shop to check the HP Mini. They have slashed its price from approximately Php 21,000 to Php 18,000. In a matter of weeks it has gone down. Fast.

Sunday. Today is the first F1 race for 2009. It’s in Australia and we’re now watching it live on TV. Now this is fast.




Mood: 4/10 Honks!

Home again

“Great things come in small packages” – anonymous

This afternoon I woke up coming a long nap and being half awake and still half asleep,
I strolled around the yard. And coming from a distance, I heard a familiar music playing
that reminded me where I’m currently at – home in Bacolod.

The music was Life Dance followed by another which I”m quite sure I heard both more than
10 years (it may even be actually 15 years) ago when both were still the “in” thing
among the youngsters – well, at least for the Bacolodnons. I hate to admit it but I was
one of the fans of these songs. Just one of my guilty pleasures, then and now.

After catching myself pausing briefly to listen to the music which I know for a fact and
based on experience, are all coming from a “baylehan” (dance/fiesta area) as we call it, I
began to remember that prior to my mandatory siesta, we actually just had our son’s

This event, thankfully, happened after one postponement due to a problem we encountered
when we initially scheduled it in my wife’s place back in Batangas. This time, it was
finally realized and despite bits of snags, upsets and confusions before and during the
ceremony. Thirty minutes after the baptismal rites and photo ops we ended in Imay’s restaurant where a simple yet fulfilling celebration with our closest family and neighbors took place.

I’m now still groggy and trying my best not to blame it either to the brandy I just had nor
the jet lag since we just arrived yesterday at lunch time. But deep inside I feel happy as after
all the excitement from welcoming Marcus to the Christian world, I suddenly remember that
also today is our father’s 75th and likewise my 35th birthday. Right now, I can’t think of
a better way to be home again in Bacolod.


 That’s my wife and baby in the picture sharing smiles one early morning in Bacolod.

Mood: 1/10 Honks!

Postscript: if the text alignment appears funny, that’s because I used notepad to draft this blog. My mother’s PC doesn’t have Windows Office in it.

Halloween Weekend



San Vicente, Batangas. We’ve been here since yesterday to spend our Halloween weekend together with wifey’s family – my in-laws. So while the rest lazily settles in front of the TV and watch the movie Robots on DVD, I’m thinking of testing their newly installed internet connection and try to post a blog for the very first time from here.


One of the my blog rules dictates that I should not write anything that hundreds or even thousands other bloggers (and even professional writers) will for sure write due to its current popularity or just for the sake of doing so.


But then again, there is always an exemption to this rule and one of which that cannot be avoided is Halloween – whether I like it or not. It’s the time of the year that when the grinning plastic (or real) pumpkins, skeletons and scary costumes come out, it’s my cue to panic and think about what gift I should be giving to my wife. Because this is actually when wifey celebrates her birthday – whether she likes it or not, too.


It’s a good thing that this year is a lot more different than last year. Back then, wifey and I had to go to Batangas separately because I was still busy at work; we also had no car yet after selling our old Kia Pride; traffic was worse then and I remember arriving by lunch time after leaving work at around 8am – the last two hours of which was spent from Turbina to San Vicente.


This year is a lot better. (Though I miss covering the hundreds of microprocessor chips before a cold shutdown. You’ll know what I mean.)




While on our way to Batangas yesterday and while driving at crawl pace in the middle of the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), I honked at another drive when he tried to get into my lane without signaling his intention to do so. My wife commented, “Aba, that’s the first honk for today!” I was laughing hard after realizing that she’s actually taking notes of it. Then she added, “I’ve actually started measuring your mood by the number of honks you make.” Ti abi.


That short exchange on my driving habit, made me smile. I’m now thinking if it would be a good idea to indicate my mood using “honk” score – 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest. Not bad huh?!. Thanks wifey for giving me the idea. Oh by the way, happy 32nd birthday again.




Not to be outdone by others who have given their own scary ghost stories, video captures and even trick or treat experience, I might as well post my own. This one though isn’t fabricated in anyway. This one is real and I captured it on the exact Halloween date – October 31, when I was at the parking lot of SM Dasmarinas just minutes before sunset.


I was having our car seat cover replaced with fake (which others will call faux just to make it sound a not so cheap) leather and decided that it would be a good idea to take pictures of it to show how it will be done and to see the improvement right after. After I got my camera from the trunk and aimed it towards the workers I saw what appears to be a couple of ghostly figures inside the car after the pictures came out of the LCD screen. Scroll down to see the pictures….




































































*LOL* Gotcha. Those are Ace Hardware employees in their Halloween costumes. Kudos to these guys. Waiting for the leather seat to be installed wasn’t boring at all.



Mood: 5/10 Honks!






A Week of Interviews (Part 2)

(continuation of Part 1)

The second interview we had last week is far more serious than the first because what is at stake here is someone else’s life being entrusted to us we if pass it. It’s actually the 2nd one for this process as the 1st one was done at home. This time we were in an adoption foundation somewhere in Cubao.


Early this year I approved the long standing wish of wifey to adopt a child. I can still recall the time and place when I finally told her about it. We were having dinner in Aling Tonya’s in SM by the Bay when I see one family with small kids passing by. I guess something in me snapped when I felt like we need another one to tag along with us just like complete families do. That night, the image of one of the kids holding his father’s hand while they merrily chatted held on to my brain like stubborn road tar. And that was it; I had to admit then that we lack at least one member. We need a child.


So after that event, my wife had been busy searching thru the internet with regards to adoption, child care, etc. I myself, did some searching especially on the inevitable potty training thing. This I guess is the one thing that I might need some time to getting used to with our future kid. Other things related to raising a child, I’m now prepared to do it. At least I think so.


During the interview, we were asked to answer a couple of questions from the forms and a couple of which got me to reflect for a moment.

1.       Names of people who influenced you? Frankly, I can’t seem to figure out who did.

2.       Three (3) things you fear the most? Undoubtedly, I wrote lightning as one.

3.       I will love my wife more if…? I answered: if she cooks breakfast without being told and if she drives the car well. Because other than these, I love her as she is.

4.       What are the adjustments you’ll make when you receive the baby? I wrote a phrase or two, but for sure that will be a lot…and I’m excited about it.


After being inside the interview room for at least 3 hours, we finally finish filling in the questionnaires with my mind wondering if the social worker was also taking notes of every gestures and comments we made.  Hopefully, we did well as our answers will be used to match the child for us. If my jokes and other comic remarks were noted, I might as well expect a baby with red-round make-up on his cheeks.  Seriously, as long as he’s healthy, I’m accepting it.  



Taco Bell

Taco Bell

Coming out of the foundation more than half an hour past lunch time, we headed to the nearby The Gateway mall and treat ourselves in Taco Bell’s. That lunch for me was more than just a treat, as it brought back memories of my US trip back in ’05. The tacos smelled and tasted just like they did abroad. I just hope that wifey will soon have the opportunity to agree with me.





Red right hand

Red right hand

Soon after, and as if having an itinerary for every interview day, we were again headed to the cinema. Both of us easily pick Hellboy II: The Golden Army over other films. This will be our first time to watch a movie in this mall.  The cinema is fully carpeted with a wide end row and tapering towards the wide-screen. Air-conditioning is just right and its soft cushioned seats added a great viewing experience for one great movie such as Hellboy. 






What I find fascinating about this sequel is the fact that it got better than the first one. The creature characters were surprisingly well detailed that although the diversity of the aliens reminds me of Star Wars Episode III, the creatures in Hellboy are as unique as the main stars of this film. Even the villains were convincingly portrayed. And as much as they appear mean and scary, I think the tiny evil tooth fairies deserve a movie of their own. Oh, by the way, Hellboy and Liz are having their own kid. Coincidence?


Definitely not from your moms fairy tale bedtime stories.

Definitely not from your mom's fairy tale bedtime stories.

And there goes another busy week for both of us. It may even become busier until the end of this year if our baby arrives by October. I’m not so fully sure yet if I’d be busy at work as well. This I’ll know in a couple of weeks.