Black Cat

Black cat drawing using Android Paint app

Black cat drawing using Android Paint app

This is the second cat drawing by Marcus using the Paint app but I like the first one he did which was mistakenly not saved by wifey. This is also my first post, if successful, directly coming from the Paint app. (It didn’t work so I’m back to posting via Photobucket’s direct share link.)

Back in the days one the few ways to display a child’s drawing was Funny Komik’s This Is Your Page section. I think my mother got three of my drawings published. How I wish we were able to saved copies the comics we used to buy every week.

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cats love playing with bags

We now know that cats love playing with bags. She is the inspiration of Marcus’ cat drawings.

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Mood: 1/10 Honks! (Anxious to see typhoon Ruby out of the country.We are expecting it tomorrow.)

In Glenda’s Path

Typhoon Glenda (international name Rammasun) gave us a taste of what it’s like to be in the middle of a strong typhoon. Measured by PAGASA to have winds of 120-150 kilometers per hour, thus the signal number three warning in CALABARZON area, it has reminded us to take such weather disturbance seriously.

In my three years of driving to Nuvali, this is the very first time I felt so much danger. I have driven a lot of times through strong rain but Glenda’s fury topped everything else so far. Thanks but no thanks to its combination of hours of heavy downpour and gusty winds, it blew away roofs, shattered windows, and uprooted trees regardless of size. And I almost became a victim.

Planning to let the storm pass I settled in our company’s sleeping quarters only to be awakened by a security guard who asked me to move my car ASAP. True enough, rushing to where I parked I saw that a couple of guards where already holding on to a tree that’s threatening to smash my car any moment. I was actually lucky as two other cars few meters away from mine got hit already. I owe those guards big time.

Having nowhere to transfer—the rain have slowed down that morning but the wind remained strong, so strong that it shook the car hard—I decided to head home. It was a very bad decision.

Picture by Jim Labuga.

Just meters after driving away, the wrath of the typhoon became more apparent.  What used to be a serene area, Nuvali has become a war zone.  I pushed my luck, nevertheless, by weaving in and out of toppled trees and even braving a foot-deep flood that stretches for several meters. I had to check the door sides while slowing making my way out of it to see if water is already seeping in.

I got past the Paseo intersection flood with the car still running perfectly although I was only able to drive barely two kilometers more. I got into a dead end of trees totally blocking my way so I conceded and turned back to the office to wait further.

It was past 10 a.m. when I got out of the office after I got a text from a colleague that they were able to pass through another route. I took the detour but I still have to maneuver cautiously with few other motorists between tree branches that could either scratch or dent our cars anytime we lose our focus. I reached home before lunch time thankful that wifey and kid were ok.

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Power supply at home returned after 24 hours while Nuvali’s was fixed two days after the storm. During these days, the surrounding area have been dark and noisy due to the generators. I got back to parking at the same spot, this time with only a few surviving trees.  At least when the next storm comes, hopefully none anymore, I only have the lamp posts to worry about.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (The plan today is to let Marcus step out of the house. He’s been in since cancellation of classes last Monday.)

The Leaky Roof and I

This must be the worst leak I can recall. Since yesterday afternoon rain continues to pour hard and our roof is taking a beating. If I recall it right, this is the most number of leaks we have seen since we lived in this house.  Other than our kitchen’s ceiling where water has been seeping through mysteriously for years already, the drippity drop—thank you Dr. Seuss for the adjective—found its way in more location of our humble place.

Thanks but no thanks to the torrential rain courtesy of typhoon Maring as last night we have to deal with a bad leak on top of our bed. It continued on that it left me and wifey no choice but to wake Marcus up just so we can move the bed away from the spot where water has invaded our comfy sleeping area. Despite the early morning chaos, it’s a consolation that Marcus finds excitement in helping us move things such as his books, stuffed toys, and pillows, while I suppress so much frustration over our predicament. It took him a while to go back to sleep with me telling stories just to steer his attention away from the dripping ceiling.

As of this morning, we have water scoops, basins, and rags in three other places of the house and with rain still pouring, we might need to empty them soon or later. Ti abi.

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Beside stray cats, I have been a regular visitor of our roof.  But the furry felines go there to play and bum around while me, to figure out the sources of the unexplainable leak.  In fact, two weeks ago I was there. I hammered loose nails and patched suspected holes. And last night, I learned that I need to be there again.

My handy helper attempting to join me on top of our roof.

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For the 2nd Monday in a row, Marcus’ school suspended classes along with other schools as ordered by Cavite governor, Jonvic Remulla. In the past years, there have been proposals from lawmakers and concerned parties about changing the start of school year from June to September to avoid students incurring absences just because of the rainy months. It was a plan I used to believe will work.

The weather, however, has become more unpredictable and I now think that it would take more than just following the same time kids in the US go back to school to properly address the issue of attendance during bleak weather conditions. Education authorities must sit down and get their heads together to integrate in the curriculum contingency measures such as utilizing the internet and social media to compensate anything the students miss whenever classes are suspended.

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Mood: 6/10 Honks! (House is in disarray.)

There is Beauty in Trash Talk

The recent typhoon Mina (international name Nanmadol) has exposed once again the ever stinky truth our country has to face—waste management. In Baguio, several people, including innocent children, perished when heap of trash buried them after heavy rainfall triggered a landslide.

Sadly, this isn’t the first incident here in the Philippines wherein piles of garbage has caused death or injury. Several years ago the infamous Payatas tragedy took the lives of more than 200 people living near this open dumpsite. It was a wakeup call for those who survived and it sent an alarm to the government officials who acted, however late, to address this problem. Since then open dumpsites were outlawed. Or so we thought.

Now that this unfortunate news is all over the headlines, people begin to ask the same old questions. Who should be blamed for all these? The ordinary Juan De La Cruzes who on their way home would toss their fast food packaging anywhere they feel like it? The government officials who fail to implement the law? Or should this be again considered as an act of God—a reason that has been so overused by people who would try to cover their own insensitivities, carelessness or incompetence.

But while we try to find answers, for the nth time, to these seemingly hopeless questions, it is nice to know that there are still others whose minds are open and who still continue to seek solutions. For example, there is the beautiful and famous Anne Curtis Smith who openly declared on twitter (@annecurtissmith) her intent to use her popularity in an attempt to revive or improve the waste management awareness campaign. How far it will go, I don’t know but with her appeal and capability to influence others, I would like to believe that her advocacy will improve the way most of us take care of our environment. I’m keeping my fingers crossed because I really wouldn’t want to see this happen again.

For now, indulge me. I can’t let this moment pass without letting the world know that I had a short discussion with this lovely actress.

Seconds of fame brought by mere mention of my name by Anne Curtis Smith.

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Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Happy kind of sleepy.)

How to Behave Online During a Disaster

Bombarded by a neighbor’s videoke session and a boring new Pinoy Big Brother season, I just realized that I was finally finishing off the last of the chocolate balls I’ve brought along with me from last Thursday’s group session at the Kho’s residence. Now, I’m back to having the regular Hany chocnut for dessert.

 I’m also back to my regular Twitter and Facebook post personality  because last week, due to the seriousness of what happened after typhoon Ondoy’s widespread destruction, I made the following commitment on how to behave online during a disaster.

Do something, anything, helpful for the typhoon victims

Other than sorting and donating some of our used clothing—including our baby’s—and some other stuffs, I was among those who made good use of Twitter to disseminate critical information coming from agencies such as the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), government officials and media personalities who are also on Twitter. I am fascinated by the fact that this microblog, meant initially for socialization, getting updated with what celebrities as well as ordinary folks are currently doing, can become a very helpful communication tool during a disaster such as typhoon Ondoy. It’s just a pity though, that while others are trying their best to extend help however they can, some didn’t spare the opportunity to send spam by latching into critical hashtags.

Stop re-tweeting allegations against anyone

The problem with technology nowadays is that the rate of how information is exchanged back and forth is so quick that it is easy to spread something like a gossip or false accusations within seconds. Take for example, the case of a particular Jacque Bermejo, who in the midst of the overflowing sympathy for those affected by typhoon Ondoy, allegedly posted a demeaning remark on her Facebook status. In a matter of hours, hundreds pounced in (unfortunately, I was among them) to give her their piece of mind—rough ones, mostly. A couple of days later, ANC Dubai interviewed Jacque Bermejo and according to her, it was a hacked account which she has already filed a complaint with the proper authorities abroad (and I’m assuming that includes Facebook admins).

Another victim of this split-second social network mobbing is the President’s son, Mikey Arroyo, whose hazy picture appeared posted in Facebook and Twitter showing him in a liquor section (according to report was in Rustan’s department store) at the height of typhoon Ondoy. If it was him or if it was taken while everyone’s busy helping out those impacted, I’ll let it pass, I give him the benefit of the doubt.

Lastly, even Gibo Teodoro, the Secretary of Department of National Defense and a 2010 presidential aspirant wasn’t spared.  Some tweeps became furious when they discovered that Gibo isn’t the one behind his own Twitter account (@giboteodoro) but his staffs. Whether that’s the truth or not, I really don’t care.  As long as he dictates those tweets and each are meant to communicate to as much individual as possible, that to me is still public service. (Feel my bias here?)

Quit sending inappropriate humor

I’m one who would readily type and send anything humorous as soon as it pops in my mind. Although I have limits to what I send (for one, I haven’t sent sexually explicit jokes), I realized that since I don’t personally know well all of my Facebook or Twitter contacts, whatever I’d send especially during a crisis might be misconstrued as insensitive or offending, thus until yesterday I refrained from doing such. In fact, I even skipped sending shoutouts of the ingredients I needed for my virtual Restaurant City game. Just imagine how one would feel when he opens his Facebook to check on relatives and all of a sudden he sees one of his best friends posting jokes or playing Mafia Wars or Resto City? Go figure.

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I’m now looking at, finally, the much awaited draft of my Mandyn group’s presentation for Thursday. That means classes will resume this week starting tomorrow. It also means that life will be back to normal. Well, at least for those who weren’t affected by typhoon Ondoy or typhoon Pepeng. Sadly, while we all move on as if nothing happened, some even at this time haven’t even eaten regularly yet while others still try to accept that they’ve lost everything they used to have.

So wouldn’t it be nice if we all still spare a thought, pray,  and share something more for the typhoon victims? I’ll try my best.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Bukas na!)

Glad to Wake Up Still At Home

It’s one of those days when I prayed like never before and this morning was proof somehow that God still answers fervent prayers. I woke up still on the same bed with my wifey and kid beside me and not somewhere else. Last night, I slept with an uneasy feeling thinking that a typhoon with a strength that was never heard of before in the Philippines will be passing by or worse, make landfall. Again thank God, he listened to us Filipinos who for sure don’t want a repeat typhoon Ondoy did and to think that another typhoon will happen just within the same week.

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Another good thing this morning is the arrival of another set of bags of Tully’s and Peets coffee beans coming from a relative in the US via her friend in Bacolod. That domestic stopover added something more to the package which is a perfect match for a brewed coffee, piaya.

Thanks again Keren and Gary for filling my cravings for caffeine. I’m quite sure that I’d be Starbucks-free at least for a month or two.

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Just a thought: Aren’t typhoon Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng God’s own warning shot for us to stop and think what we’ve been doing to our environment? Weren’t we taught that cleanliness is next to godliness?

Think about it my friends. Let’s make a lot more effort to take good care of the environment. It’s never too late.

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It’s about time I promote another blog I maintain just to catch and record litterbugs and smoke belchers. This is my own way to help drive environmental consciousness. Please check and contribute to Planet Trash Can.

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Mood: 4/5 Honks! (Sleepy and tired…and anxious.)

She’s Hot

The anticipation of a storm (Mitag) somehow affected this week’s day-off. I got more bored, got lazier and miss the company of my wife more.

So to compensate for all that negativity and longing, I got out of my normal routine and tried to look for something worthwhile doing.

That’s when I met someone I haven’t seen for a long time, and if I remember it right, I haven’t touched her for years. Well the time and opportunity was perfect -my wife was out, I was alone. And with the eagerness to deviate from something so predictable, I picked her up in excitement. She’s still got the curve and she turned on hot so easily. Great, just my type.

Being separated for quite a while, we got some getting-to-know- each-other moment but fair enough we got along well quickly. As I laid my hands on her, she responded immediately and did what was expected of her. Hana is her name and we miss each other a lot.

We did it three times in a row and the last one was the best. I was getting the hang of it already but then my session with Hana has to end.

Time flies so fast and I didn’t notice that all three shirts are done. And our Hanabishi flatiron has to end its job.

Blame it on the rain as they say. In this case, on the storm that gladly didn’t pass through our place. It is nerve- wracking to wait for the 100kph storm, but looking at the bright side I got to notice Hana who has been collecting dust right under our computer. I just don’t know if when I’ll see Hana again, but it seems that we’ll be frequenting to see each other as I realize that I love the sight of a well-ironed shirt. Ti abi.

To you Hana, Hasta la vista, baby!

The Ship is Sinking…

After almost a week of rainfall (due to tropical storm Chedeng) I was amazed to see the sun shine yesterday. So instead of settling on my seat and trying to get some sleep while on the bus to work, I opened the curtains and tried to savor the afternoon sun beams.

I was anticipating an interesting ride all the way and was already imagining a beautiful sun setting on the horizon turning its color from golden to red-orange. Sadly it wasn’t meant to be. Even if it did, I didn’t notice it anyway.

My daydream unfortunately turned neither to fantasy nor romantic. The sun beams instead opened my eyes to a depressing sight just a couple of meters from departure at the bus stop until I eventually got to work.

It was actually not the first time that I’ve been pondering on the state of our country every time I’m on my way to work. But yesterday I had a handful. Sadly, a handful of bad observations that made me ask the endless why.

At the first intersection the green lights turned to red. I saw the pedestrian overpass’ construction is almost coming to its completion. And just while I was about to ask the cliché, “Will it ever be used?” a familiar ambulance siren grabbed my attention. Well, someone must be hurt. “God bless him”, I softly uttered (as I usually do every time I hear one coming). The wish though was done too soon. It wasn’t an ambulance but it was coming from scooter driver who sped by and turned left ignoring the red light and the police nearby. What’s more depressing, the police didn’t even made a fuss about it. Not even a radio call for help or assistance to apprehend the erring driver. But then again, he may not even have a radio (or the balls to do so) on hand – ill equipped that is.

A couple of kilometers after the trip resumed, a colorful bunch of things came into view outside my window. I would really have wished it were blooming flowers but again, in reality it’s not. It was a pile of plastic bags & trashes irresponsibly tossed (and accumulated) on one corner of the road. Is poverty a good reason for this insensitive act? I just don’t think so.

I thought I was uncontrollably shaking my head in disgust when I realized it was actually the bus bouncing and weaving left and right of the road to avoid the potholes. Damn. One week of rain made all these? Blame it on the rain then? Milli Vanilli could have done that but not me. I’ve been honestly paying taxes and I know where and when (not before and during the election) some of it should be spent. Most likely somewhere out there, another politician and/or contractor must be happily drinking booze and probably counting their kickback. Screw the road. Cheers!

As if all those weren’t enough, we got stuck in traffic. Another intersection may be? Breathe in, breathe out. Stay calm. But it’s not. Just outside I saw several public jeepneys on the opposite lane idling and vying for passengers unmindful of the long queue of other vehicles behind them. So why is our lane stuck too? That’s because another mindless driver from that queue felt smart enough to counter flow. And surprisingly he isn’t a jeepney driver. He’s driving a shining Honda. He’s smartly dressed. I rest my case.

If it weren’t for the seatbelt and the person beside me the preceding event would have sent me into a yoga stance right then and there. Now where is my golden sun? It’s getting dark outside. Figuratively and literally.

The sky outside was overcast when we reached the front gate of our company’s campus. Despite the poor lighting the worsening condition of the facilities didn’t escape my eye. (In photography, enthusiasts use filters and lenses to capture what they want to achieve. My eye and mind yesterday was like that. Only I didn’t do that on purpose. It was as if I have a “bad” filter that was meant to see…well, “bad” things.) Paints are peeling off, roofs are rusting, and the once regularly well-trimmed lawn has weeds coming out from everywhere.

The people themselves changed a lot since then. I can count the people who got off the bus with enthusiasm to work for yet another day. The contractors around are working with incomplete PPEs. And a lot of bad sentiments are present anywhere I go. Something is just so wrong. Something must be done.

I got into some discussion with my co-workers about this and there was one phrase mentioned that struck me the most. “The boat is sinking”. Probably it is. Sadly, I’m in it.

I’m sending an SOS.

December Weddings

Today I almost missed attending a friend’s wedding (Villafuerte-Espinosa) due to sore throat. Since I’ve prepared for this day for quite some time so I can see this normally rugged and casual person marching down the isle in barong tagalog (Filipino native male costume), I dragged my aching throat & drove my way to Tagaytay.

I arrived at the Ina ng Laging Saklolo Church late, but not late enough to be included in the photo op (which I swear is the most stressful part of any wedding. Imagine one had to endure and maintain the perfect smile frame by frame, regardless of mood or condition) with other friends and co-workers. Indeed, he wore a barong but still sporting the ponytail just like I did when I got married.

As if by reflex, after the entire photo ops were done, I with a couple of friends sped to the reception (lunch) area at Lake Garden Hotel and arrived there first. And it just dawned on me that I could win an Amazing Race series if all the pit stops are event reception centers. I’ve done this a couple of weddings already.

The tables and buffet meals were set at a picturesque view of the Taal Lake. The weather was good and the view of the volcano was a perfect background for the bride, groom and all the guests which were either smiling, chatting, munching and drinking – Iced Tea at this time of the day. It would have been more perfect if there were liquors to somehow warm up our body from the chilly atmosphere. But then again, I got the damn sore throat.

Unfortunately, I have to leave early to catch up with my doctor’s appointment. We will drink to that someday.

Another wedding I attended this month was my in-law’s 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration.

It was a celebration my wife, her siblings and other relatives had been preparing for almost two years. The funds were raised and saved regularly to ease up on the expense. Each one also got assumed responsibility (work term) to accomplish. I got to donate a Lechon (roasted pork) that was never served. But it’s another story.

And so, D-day came.

Although the weather last Dec 9 was flip-flopping, the folks in Batangas got things going by very early morning. The bayanihan spirit, which is not uncommon in their place during every celebration, kicked off in high gear.

(Disclaimer: just this next part is not for vegans. Sorry. ) The guys slaughtered the pig in the wee hours of the morning and prepared the pork parts and cuts for various recipes.

The ladies (and lolas) were busy chopping and getting the spices ready, while the rest did the cooking. The smoke-filled dirty kitchen (no pun intended) was bustling with activity. The aroma of typical Batangueno food reaches every corner of the place. And almost everyone else was getting back and forth to get things done.

Despite the threat of rain, the wedding started on time in the local chapel. The guys wore barong tagalog, while the ladies had the aptly golden yellow colored dress. The little girls (granddaughters) had butterfly wings on them. It was a festive sight and I felt the excitement and joy of all the family members radiating from their smile.

After the ceremony and photo ops (did I just say photo ops again?), inay po and itay po went with us (well, our humble car was the bridal car. No choice but to be there first) as we drove back to the reception area which was set at the basketball court just outside their house (another typical Filipino setting).

Unfortunately, the wedding entourage tables, which were set under the shelter of a tarpaulin, got flooded still, due to the uneven portion of the ground (a remnant of the last typhoon Milenyo). The show (in this case, eating) must go on so some guys who are still in barong, neatly ironed pants and shiny shoes armed themselves with dust pans and broom sticks to clear the area so that the rest may be seated.

The rest of the night went on to be rainy. Everyone had to wade in inches of flood to get back to their tables to eat. Others had to take shelter under their own plates while lining at the buffet area for food. But as most people would believe (depending on the situation. A rain during a funeral would be taken as “the Heavens mourning the death of”), the rain is a sign of blessing. In this case, so be it.

For it is indeed a blessing for my in-laws to reach 50 years of being together. A blessing for their children to have such parents; for their grandchildren to have been able to see and be with their lolo and lola. And of course a blessing for us in-laws to have someone who trusted us with their children whom we had as either husband or wife.

For me I have nothing but praises for them. Being together for this long is a feat itself. It takes more than just patience, love and understanding to hold on to such relationship. In these days of loose moral values, fast pace life, consumerism and materialism, marriage is always threatened and compromised. It is always easy and sometimes mushy to say, but it’s a fact that God had to be in the center of one’s marriage or family to get over with every trial the “new” world gives. No more No less.

To everyone who had or is just about to have their wedding this December, my congratulations and best wishes to all of you. I’m sure your Christmas and New Year will never be cold.