Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Precarious Saturday

I can't quite recall the last time I saw or spoke to my uncle Rene. He is my mother's first cousin, the son of my grandfather's sister. He also happened to be my high school English teacher, of which I have fond memories of. Outside of the classroom, conversations between me and my uncle were limited, if not non-existent. At parties he would sit in one corner and not talk to anyone other than my aunts and uncles. That could explain my amnesia. Early this year, Ria invited Tito Rene to hold a workshop on creative writing for bloggers. I thought it was brilliant. My uncle had the knack for entertaining people and I was certain he could bring that aura of fun to this workshop. It took months of planning and meetings with fellow officers of Davao Bloggers to make it happen, though I have to admit I didn't do a lot. I served as the perennial go-to guy who took care of picking up the food, the LCD machine, the LCD screen and take photos. As dull as it seems, I do a fantastic job at it. Last Saturday, things finally came together. It was the day we will find out if we're any good at what we are attempting to do -- create events for bloggers of Davao City. Most of us have had experience organizing blogging events, but this is the first time we would do it under the Davao Bloggers umbrella. I had no doubt the workshop would be a success. Tito Rene has that instant name recall that will make people sign up. Who doesn't know him? He's a famous columnist for Sunstar and an accomplished author. For me and thousands of others, he's the cool English teacher we had the luck of having in high school. I'm sure he prefers to be remembered that way.

True enough, Tito Rene brought that same energy and exuberance to the workshop. The participants gave their all in the individual and group exercises, and I myself did the unthinkable: I talked to strangers (without coercion by my cousin Ria) and I chose to be my group's spokesperson. That in itself is a personal accomplishment. During the course of the discussions, I was glad to learn that Tito Rene and I had something in common. We each had a list of cliche words to avoid when writing. His list contained words that are all adjectives, while mine are mostly adverbs. Yes, adverbs that I have not used in this blog post so far. Tito Rene asserts that in writing, one has to be concise and specific in picking words. He says we should avoid meaningless words such as "good", "bad", "fine" and go for more profound alternatives, say, "brilliant", "nefarious" and "spellbinding". But he is quick to point out that the words should remain in context.

He adds that we should draw inspiration from our personal experiences and pour it into our writing. View the <textarea> as an empty canvass and fill it up with a slew of colors, textures and brush strokes. It is a matter of having a keen understanding of what you want to say, and say it in the most concise and creative way. I'll keep that in mind from now on, though I'm worried it might take me nine times longer to finish an article. My past blog posts were written in all but 5-20 minutes each, in a veiled attempt to be seen as a blogger who writes often. That may not be such a bad thing. Readers tend to be more forgiving of blog writers than legitimate online journalists. One small mistake from a journalist can make tomorrow's headlines. One small mistake from people like me goes virtually unnoticed. That doesn't take away from the fact that there is room for improvement in my writing skills. There are lots. Okay, heaps. One thing I learned from Tito Rene is I can be better. His workshop was the first step. He insisted for a second one. I guess we're that awful?

Here comes the obligatory part where I post spellbinding pictures of the event.

Creative Writing Workshop
The speaker, Mr. Rene Lizada

Creative Writing Workshop
Ria, me and Tito Rene (yes, I wear glasses!)

Creative Writing Workshop
Group pic with all the participants

Thanks to my fellow organizers Ria, Chattee, Lyle, Brendel and Dulce for a job well done. Thanks to the participants too! Hope to see you in future events.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I Dunno...

Looks to me that I have to become underweight to fulfill my dream. I am binging on a lot of protein lately to make up for the weight loss but my weight keeps dropping. Today I lessened my cardio to 5 minutes of jogging (about 1km) and spent the rest of the time lifting weights and doing ab exercises. I'm famished! Looking forward to a heavy dinner at a new Japanese restaurant I discovered. :) Best part of it is my mom is paying! lol

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Beautiful Mess

Filler post!

Jason Mraz's song, "Beautiful Mess", is my favorite song of all time. This performance of his at the 2008 Nobel Prize ceremony sent chills to my spine.

If Jason asked for my hand in marriage, I would in a heartbeat! lol jk

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Bastille Day in France

Bastille Day is an important national holiday celebrated in France every July 14. It commemorates the 1789 storming of the Bastille prison that led to the eventual dissolution of the monarchy and the establishment of France's first Republic. My cousins and I were lucky enough to be travelling in France that day! We *kinda* slept in the entire morning, thus we missed the festivities held on the Champs Elysee. We heard that there's gonna be a fireworks display in the evening, so we're going to see that instead. As we headed off the the Trocadero, we caught eye of military vehicles parked near the Opera. We stopped by to take pictures, of course.

Bastille Day 2009
Front: Steve, Me, Kathy, Pierre.
Back: Jacques and Jean-Claude. Haha

Bastille Day 2009

The fireworks weren't going to start until 10 in the evening, but we figured that people are going to go in droves so we might as well start early. The subway route to the Trocadero was confusing as I try to recall it. And I couldn't forget the distance that we walked to get to the place where we could camp out and wait. It was made more difficult because many roads and bridges were closed. After hours of walking, we finally we found a comfortable spot on a sidewalk to sit. We got a fantastic view of the Eiffel Tower:

Bastille Day 2009
Nice.. leaves..

Due to boredom, we had no choice but take pics.

Bastille Day 2009
Clarice, Steve, Kathy

Bastille Day 2009
7 hours later ... still no fireworks. This is one of the very few pics where the four of us were together. Thanks to the nice lady who took this pic <3

One thing I learned about the French is they're always on time! At 10pm sharp, the first signs explosions of light began. Due to our obstructed view (see above) we had to find a more strategic position to take good pics. It was hard to take pics of the fireworks because the camera needs to be set on a slow shutter and I was standing on my feet with no support for my arms. The results were mostly blurry pics. Shame. Here are my most decent shots:

Bastille Day 2009

Bastille Day 2009

Bastille Day 2009

Bastille Day 2009

Admittedly, I was not able to appreciate the fireworks coz I was busy focusing on my camera. Fortunately, I took some videos which I'll upload soon.

As if our way to the Trocadero was chaotic, nothing prepared us for our way back! Everyone was crowding into the subway!

Bastille Day 2009
People everywhere! Arghhh

My cousins said that Bastille Day was our most exhausting day of walking. Indeed it was. I think I lost 5 lbs that day alone lol. Bastille Day was tiring, but it wouldn't have been an enjoyable day without Cleng, Steve and Kathy. You guys rock!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sea Dragon

Sea Dragon

It's been ages since I've gone to a perya (fair). One night, my friends and I went to one and challenged amongst ourselves to go on what appeared to be a "tame" ride, the "Sea Dragon".

Sea Dragon

The Sea Dragon works like a pendulum. At the end of the pendulum, a boat-shaped contraption (where passengers are seated) is swung from left to right in increasingly sharp angles and speeds. If you've been on Enchanted Kingdom's "Anchors Away", then you're in familiar territory. I was excited about the Sea Dragon since Anchors Away was easy pickings and I have been on some of the world's worst roller coasters. But all that bravado was short-lived, unfortunately.

The ride started okay. Slowly but surely. We were getting higher and higher, but that is expected. Then I realized that the ride was taking a little too long to reach its climax. Like waaaay long. After 5 minutes, I felt my internal organs rearranging. Just when I thought the thing was about to stop, it goes even higher! My friend Lyle was having a nervous breakdown. Chattee was swearing at the operators who appeared to be laughing at our misfortune. Faust was asking what medicine to take for his churned tummy. Brendel was the only one who was able to maintain her sanity.

After 10 grueling minutes, the Sea Dragon finally came to a halt. I felt nauseous and on the verge of barfing. Lyle looked like he just ran a 10km marathon. He was drenched in sweat and visibly unwell. He asked Brendel to get him some Bonamine for his dizziness, but the pharmacy across the street was closed. I said we had Bonamine at home and that I could drive us to our house which was like 5 minutes away from the fair. When we reached our house, Lyle's situation grew worse. I won't give the blow-by-blow account but let's just say that everything Lyle ate took the wrong exit :P Chattee and I popped a pill of Bonamine to be sure we won't suffer the same fate.

Afterwards, we grabbed some coffee and food at Blugre MTS. Lyle felt 50 times better. He ordered tea to help soothe his stomach. Despite our bad luck, it was a memorable evening we will always look back on decades from now. :P

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tony & Jackey

The rolling brownouts in Davao are an annoyance! Electricity conks out at exactly 1PM everyday. At the rate it's going, my desktop computer will end up a corrupted piece of junk. I might as well turn it off 10 minutes prior to the scheduled brownout or risk losing my data. It's funny coz it's become like an involuntary routine for me to stand up from my computer chair once the pc blacks out and go straight to the shower. I was supposed to work out today but I felt like skipping and get some work done. Obviously that is not possible without electricity, so I decided to get a haircut first to kill time. In a previous rant I said that my haircutter Pacita migrated to Dubai which pretty much put my hair's future in limbo. Prior to Pacita, it was Alma who cut my hair but she moved to Bacolod. I was severely depressed both times, but today is the day for me to move on. I checked out a newly-opened salon in SM, Tony & Jackey. It's run by a bunch of Koreans. The salon was white and super clean. The Korean stylists also looked clean lol. Their haircut costs P300, more than twice as much as David's (where Pacita and Alma come from). The stylist assigned to me was Daniel. I was afraid that he might give me one of those weird Korean hairstyles so I told him straight off that I wanted a normal haircut. He said "Ok" and begun work. After 15 minutes of snipping it was done. He didn't say anything else except for a "Thank you" in the end.

The result:

Tony & Jackie Davao City
Props to Daniel

I'm saving up for my next haircut already :P


After badminton, we had greaseless chicken at Sunburst. Have to mention that their crispy chicken skin is the best! While eating we had a discussion about the best halo-halo in the Philippines. Well, these friends of mine came from General Santos City and couldn't stop talking about some off-the-beaten-track place somewhere in Cotabato that serves their halo-halo in fresh coconut shells and picks out their ingredients literally off trees. Simpleton that I am, how am I supposed to compete with that? They lash out at my most favorite halo-halo in Davao -- Aling Foping's -- and to add more insult, says that Razon's halo-halo sucks too. And yet after doing so, decide that we should have halo-halo at Chow King, which I now officially don't like (though I love their other dishes).

Speaking of Razon's, their halo-halo is so darn simple and that's why it's good. It doesn't have the nasty beans or monggo or the colorful whatnot that we usually see. All it has are macapuno (sweetened coconut), leche flan, and saging na saba (sweetened bananas). The result is an icy, sweet and creamy dessert that's nothing short of heavenly. In fact, I love Razon's so much that when I go to Aling Foping's, I try to recreate Razon's recipe! When you're in Davao, try the halo-halo of Aling Foping's (Matina Town Square) or Harana (F. Torres Street).

As a postscript, I learned from my cousin that I could buy puto similar to Razon's from St. Paul church, which is right in our neighborhood. I'm excited! I love their puto!**

What I ate today:

Breakfast: Lipton Milk Tea
Lunch: Pork Stew and 1/2 cup brown rice
Dinner: Quarter Chicken, 3 pcs Chicken Skin and 1/2 cup white rice
Late Snack: 1/2 Pomelo

** Puto is steamed rice cakes

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Back to Badminton

I'm glad my friends are back from General Santos City! It means we could go back to playing badminton. We're scheduled to play tomorrow from 4-6pm. My cousin Gwing (who's a varsity player) will be around to teach my friends the proper way to play. Also, from now on I'll try to log the food I eat each day. It is supposed to help me stick to my diet.

Lunch: Grilled Maya-maya fish with 1/4 cup brown rice
Afternoon Snack: Ham and Cheese sandwich and half a bottle of Sola Iced Tea (Apple flavor)
Dinner: Beef Caldereta (beef stew) with 1/2 white rice
Late Evening Snack: Chicken Panini and Hot Chocolate

I ate so much!! Ackkkk