Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pizzeria Mozza at the Sands

The Clairvoyant and I had a most delightful lunch last Saturday on my first visit to the Marina Sands area since 2009. It was not my first time because I had the chance to tour the area when I was a participant to an international conference held in Singapore just a few weeks after Ketsana ravage Manila. At the time, the "surfboard" that would be the distinguishing feature of Marina Sands was yet to be constructed. I even have a photo of the building at the time from the Singapore Flyer, the gigantic Ferris Wheel nearby.

Anyhow, the Clairvoyant made reservations to the Pizzeria Mozza, which is a restaurant owned and operated by a team comprised of Nancy Silverton, Joe Bastianich, and Mario Batali. I won't be writing about these people as information on them and on their terrific resto that was first established in Los Angeles is on their website. The Singapore resto is only the second Mozza, which is basically comprised of the Osteria for fine dining and the Pizzeria for casual dining. Below are a few photos of our first (and definitely not the last) time at Mozza.

Appetizer: Sulami

Antipasti: Asparagus with prosciutto

Pizza: Funghi misti, fontina, taleggio and thyme

Oh, and did I mention that the Chef over at Mozza at the Marina Sands is a Filipina? Karla Mendoza is the Executive Chef over at Pizzeria Mozza and I have read many blogs that say Pizzeria Mozza serves the best pizzas in Singapore. I guess the long lines and the always full resto will speak for this.

Osteria and Pizzeria Mozza
10 Bayfront Avenue,
Marina Bay Sands,

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Toilet" training

I woke up from a power-nap this afternoon to hear our black Lab Troy asking to be let out. It turns out that our helper was walking the other dog, a mixed breed named Barbie, and left Troy at home. His turn for his walk would come after Manang returned with Barbie. The "walk," of course meant that aside from the obvious exercise the dogs would be getting from strolling along the linear park along the creek-side at our subdivision, they would be able to poop somewhere at any of the vacant, open lots in the area.

We've trained our dogs for this so that they don't poop or pee inside our house. During rainy days, they have also learned to do their thing in our garage when it is not practical to take them to their usual spots. The usual routine is either or both dogs pointing or scratching the door for them to be let out. When they notice no one's paying attention, they will bark and run in circles. To confirm their intent, one may ask them "out? out?" and they will bark and run in circles in reply. Then you know they want to relieve themselves.

They also know about schedules. They know when it is feeding time in the morning and in the afternoon. And they know that after their afternoon meal comes their time for a walk. Barbie is usually the tricky one as she is usually afraid of anything that resembles explosions or loud noises like thunder or fireworks. Thus, she will refuse to walk and even scamper back home (often pulling at her leash) when thunder cracks even in the distance. Troy doesn't mind any of those distractions. He is fearless, or so it seems. He is only distracted by the other dogs barking at him as he walks to and from the park and passes along several houses with dogs. Troy usually whimpers but it is a friendly whimper as he is a very kind and friendly dog. To those not knowledgeable about dogs, the sight of a 40kg dark chocolate dog seems to invite terror. They do not and cannot immediately recognize the kind features of the dog's face and the mild demeanor that is the trademark of Labs like Troy. Yet our Troy is always at a playful mood, which allows us to determine if he is sick or feeling unwell. And we always start like heck from the house to the park as he thinks it is a game where we run to the park. But always, after doing his thing, he would be more relaxed and he will revert to walking mode. He is easily convinced to jog/run if his handler wishes to do so for exercise or perhaps to rush back home as rain starts to fall.

I write about this as I've noticed a lot of dog owners/handlers in our village walking their pets and allowing the latter to poop just anywhere. This was noticeable to me because when we first moved in to our home, there were few if any poop on the roads. Most pet-owners were responsible enough to take the dogs out to the vacant lots or properly dispose poop according to guidelines circulated by the village association. But with a lot of new homeowners in the village, I guess the association should again distribute guidelines for pet-pooping considering the implications to cleanliness in our area. Despite us living in a middle class neighborhood and the fact that many dogs being walked have breeding (Spitzes, German Shepherds and the popular Huskies among them), a lot of owners really don't know how to handle animals including how to train them to poop at designated places. It is not enough that you take the dog out to do his/her thing. If one allows the dog to poop anywhere, then the owner should be prepared to pick up the poop to dispose of this properly. This is something that I've seen while in Japan and the US that should also be practiced here. It is, after all, in everyone's interest that we be responsible for our pets.

Monday, August 29, 2011


The return flight to Manila was on schedule and utilized a larger aircraft to accommodate more passengers on what seemed like the most desirable slot for the airline during the day. On its other flights, the aircraft would usually be an Airbus A320 but for the one I took this morning, it was a wide-bodied A330 that brought us back home. I still wonder why the airline could not deploy larger aircraft on its other flights given the high demand along this route. I can imagine all the OFWs passing through Singapore including seamen coming in from Europe, Africa and the Middle East. A Boeing 777 should suffice if the 747's are committed to flights to the US.

I was already expecting some turbulence given the current weather systems in Singapore and the Philippines. In fact, northern and central Luzon Island had just been battered by a strong typhoon whose swirling tails still affect much of the weather in most parts of Luzon including Metro Manila. I didn't expect that I would experience 2 minutes of hell sometime after taking off from Changi. The aircraft shook violently for what seemed like an eternity and some passengers were already expressing their worries, some through shrieks after the aircraft suddenly was lifted up by the wind. After that, it was practically a smooth flight until we reached Philippine airspace where we again experienced some turbulence. These were of the "routine" kind, however, so they didn't cause any worries except perhaps to a few novice passengers or those who weren't much into flying (i.e., there are still many who have the phobia but manage somehow to control this).

And I have had a lot of experiences in the past on inflight turbulence with some quite terrifying in the sense that I actually prayed the entire rosary during those flights, relying on my faith to ensure a safe voyage. I even remember one flight our family took from Iloilo to Manila in the 1980's that even now my parents relate as their worst experience of turbulence. It goes side by side with another harrowing experience on a ship, again heading back to Manila from Iloilo. The Negros Navigation's Dona Florentina was tossed and hammered by typhoon-generated waves during one voyage in the 1970's. My parents were already preparing for the possibility that the ship would lose its battle with the sea and that we would have to fight for survival in the turbulent seas. Fortunately for us, we have always arrived safely at our destinations, no doubt aided by the gentle hand of a loving God.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Plane always late

I had an unpleasant experience yesterday mostly about waiting for my flight to Singapore to finally announce boarding. When I first arrived at NAIA Terminal 2, I already saw the announcement on the electronic board that my flight would be delayed by an hour. I like to be always early for my flight so that I wouldn't have to rush through travel tax payments, checking in, and immigration processing. I always assume that there will be many other passengers every time I travel abroad and that the terminals (whether 1, 2 or 3) will be very crowded. There are also the security checks that are sometimes lax and sometimes strict. So an hour delay was relatively acceptable considering the turnaround times of aircraft. What was not good was the anouncement an hour later while I was having a late light lunch that our flight would be further delayed by another 3 hours! And so I ended up with a rough start to a

I am no stranger to delays, whether on domestic or international flights, and I have written about what has been a harrowing experience only last June on my trip back from a conference in Korea. That experience reinforced my acceptance of delays only if the reason would be related to safety. That is, I have come to accept that delays are inevitable due to technical or maintenance issues. After all, I would not want to experience engine or other troubles while in the air. I am quite thankful that I am not one of those who have such experiences where the plane had to turn back or had to make an emergency landing because of technical problems.

In this case, however, I suspect that it is not really a case of engine trouble or whatever technical difficulties was announced as a general reason for the delay. The airline has been experiencing a lot of other troubles lately and these included serious labor issues and their pitch for flights to additional destinations to the US being disapproved for a variety of reasons by FAA officials. The consequences have included possible cancellation of orders for aircraft that they intended to use for these flights. Not that they would need these aircraft at current demand considering that they have fewer aircraft to juggle, and this has led to delays that have been experienced by not a few travelers. In fact, I pity those who had to make an effort to transfer to other airlines to make their connections. That is a terrible predicament that I wouldn't want to experience myself. In comparison, the main competition is pushing through with 20 aircraft orders in the next 3 years that should allow them to expand domestic and international offerings that would surely escalate a competition that seems to be as one-sided as many already perceive these days based on ticket sales alone. Clearly, the monicker "plane always late" need not be reinforced by the airline and they need to address a whole lot of issues including those relating to management considering that they have been steadily losing ground to competition for quite some time now. Their only advantage has been their flights to the US and Canada, and soon that advantage will vanish and further endangering a franchise that was touted as Asia's first.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Centennial article

I found the article below as I casually googled my name to see what type of links would appear after I did. The article was written sometime during the centennial celebrations of the College of Engineering (established in June 13, 1910) of UP Diliman and appeared on the mobile version of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was quoted in the article, assuring my name's inclusion among those honored by the College and the University during the Engineering Centennial even if it was only a quotation for the College's commitment to honor, excellence and service.

Who says engineering is boring?

June 27, 2010

WITH 7,000 students, the University of the Philippines College of Engineering (UPCOE) has the biggest population among the state university’s units.

But while dean Rowena Cristina Guevarra is proud that the college has reached a new milestone, its centennial, she also wants to call attention to the work done by its research and extension arm, the National Engineering Center (NEC) founded in 1978.

NEC has been offering services in engineering education, research and development, technical consultancy, and publications and engineering information for the past 32 years.

It has specialized research centers that develop technologies for scaling up or bringing to the next level prototypes by government, industry and other partners. These are the Training Center for Applied Geodesy and Photogrammetry, the Building Research Service, the National Hydraulic Research Center and the National Center for Transportation Studies (NCTS).

Guevarra strongly believes that knowledge has to be shared.

She cites the Efficient Lighting Management Curricula for Asean. NEC academic sharing came in when the college and NEC worked with Chulalongkorn University in Thailand, Hanoi University of Technology in Vietnam, Helsinki University of Technology in Finland, and University Karishruhe in Germany – schools in the Asia Link Program of the European Commission – to help selected Southeast Asian countries promote efficient lighting.

The move was in response to the slow adoption by household of the more energy efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFL).

“Architects and engineers light up houses and buildings. So we made [the lighting management] curricula which can be integrated into undergraduate curricula or offered as a specialization in graduate programs, or as continuing education courses,” Guevarra explains.

NEC has a UP Enterprise and Incubation program to develop technologies and incubate “technopreneurs.”

But Guevarra says engineering students also need “soft skills” in communication, project management and leadership and in marketing to help move innovations.

As a result of their more rounded training, engineers can really make a difference, she says, pointing out, “Engineers now make up most of Cabinet-level movers of Korea and China.”

Guevarra says the training students get at UP enables them to develop useful technologies even before they leave the school. She cites the software for on-line enrollment that the university has been using for 10 years. Software, she says, can take as few as six months to develop and, by the very nature of the Internet, can spread fast.

Developing equipment, like drilling instruments, takes longer, at least two years for “roll-out, improvements and tweaks here and there,” she says. Patenting and finding a partner for commercialization take at least 10 years.

At a recent forum, which was part of UPCOE’s centennial celebration, Diliman chancellor Sergio Cao said public service was now legally required of all units since UP had become the National University.

NCTS Director Jose Regin Regidor said, “The College of Engineering’s first 100 years is ... also the prelude to another 100 years of excellence and a pledge to continue serving the Filipino people.”

Doctor Allan Nerves, officer-in-charge of the Professional Engineering Training Division, said NEC hoped to continue working “to make engineering a tool for public service.”

Nerves said even concerns about energy and sustainable development had engineering solutions. The college, he said, welcomed collaboration in the solution of these problems as “our mandate of public service.”

As part of the centennial rites, the UP College of Engineering honored 100 outstanding graduates “who have defined the first 100 years of the College and will serve as the role models in the next 100 years.”

They were chosen by the college and the UP Alumni Engineers headed by Roger Victor Buendia. Guevarra (Electrical Engineering, 1985), the first woman dean of the college, was among the honorees.

Four other women were honored: Science and Technology Secretary Estrella Alabastro (Chemical Engineering, 1961); first UP Open University chancellor Ma. Cristina Padolina (ChE, 1966); Rizalina Mantaring (EE, 1982) and Aura Matias, Ph.D. (Industrial Engineering, 1982), project manager and specialist of NEC’s Public Assessment of Water Services (PAWS) program.

Among the other awardees were Juan Tiongson (Mechanical Engineering, 1921) and Joel Joseph Marciano Jr. (EE, 1994), the youngest.

Pre-war poet-novelist and notable bridge player Dominador Ilio (CE and Geological Engineering 1939) taught at the college and was permanent secretary of the UP Alumni Engineers for many years.

Another awardee, Dr. Leonardo Liongson (ChE, 1969), mentioned that among the college’s distinguished graduates was “Nicanor Jimenez, civil engineer, military officer, president of the Philippine National Railways, ambassador to Korea and dad of (Inquirer) editor Letty (Jimenez-Magsanoc).”

Other graduates who went into public service included Alejandro Melchor Sr. (CE, 1924), after whom the engineering building is named); Senators Gaudencio Antonino (CE, 1933) and Vicente Paterno (ME, 1948), UP President Emanuel Soriano (ME, 1959), and Prime Minister Cesar Virata (ME, 1962).

Other graduates became business magnates like Felipe F. Cruz (CE, 1941), David M. Consunji (CE, 1946), and Cesar Buenaventura (CE, 1959).

Gaston Ortigas (ME, 1962) has a peace institute at Ateneo de Manila University named after him, one of the original members of the Coalition for Peace (1987), a grassroots movement.

Given this wide diversity of paths taken by UPCOE graduates, Guevarra seems right in stressing that, “Engineering is NOT boring.”

©2010 all rights reserved

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Despite the effort of many local artists to compose new songs, there will always be a few who would attempt to simplify the process by lifting the tunes of foreign or older compositions. It's one thing to have a Tagalized or Filipinized version of songs like those made for Japanese and even US compositions that had quite popular localized versions. I believe those got permissions from the composers for the Filipino versions. In many cases, it was just a matter of translation and the original theme of the songs were not lost or replaced. It's entirely another matter when artists attempt to pass off plagiarized material as originals or worse, their own.

Two songs have caught my attention the past few years and it is disappointing that the band and the interpreter associated with the songs maintain they did not plagiarize the material. Here is the more recent one that is sadly also often used as a cheer or a celebratory song in sports events including the last time the country won the SEA Games. The original song is "Chandeliers" by The Change, classified as new wave and probably obscure to many, especially those of the younger generations. In fact, perhaps only the new wave aficionados were probably able to recognize the tune, which is quite catchy as evidenced by the success of the song by local band Orange and Lemons. The original song and the band is shown in the first part of the YouTube video below.

Another song that I myself noticed to be quite familiar the first time I heard it over the radio early last decade. It was quite new and for a country that was riding the wave of J-Pop before K-Pop came to town, I was expecting that more people could have noticed the rip-off immediately. The original song "First Love" is a top hit in Japan during the late 1990's and comes from a sensational album by Hikaru Utada that broke a lot of records and even grossed enough money that could probably could keep a small country afloat. The local artist's song is less obvious as a rip-off because some people even tried to defend it as a Tagalized version when they were running out of arguments. Toni Gonzaga, who delivered the interpretation seemed innocent enough in interviews where she maintained she was not aware of the original. The original is featured in another YouTube video below showing the original music video.

It is quite obvious and one cannot deny that the tunes were ripped off and the local artists continuing denial of such only worsens their cases in as much as my respect for them are concerned. Credit should be to the originals and not taken by a few whose objectives were clearly to make a buck here and there but at the expense of plagiarized material. For the latter song by Utada Hikaru, I was really disappointed because I am a fan of the artist and have her CDs from when I was studying in Japan. But I am disturbed by one major network's continuing use of the first song as an anthem of sorts for sports and other events that they sponsor or cover. I believe that a more appropriate theme for such purposes would be an original by Bamboo - "Noypi."

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Cinema ticket sales

I was in line to purchase a ticket to watch a film this morning and was refused, along with about a dozen other people, because the staff said it was too early and the cinemas weren't open yet. Of course, they were not open yet because we're all lined up for the first screenings of the movies we'd like to watch. Also, since there are staff assigned to the entrances to the cinemas, they may inform people if they could already enter the theaters. I really couldn't understand why the box office could not sell tickets earlier considering the films had schedules and they were also selling tickets in advance anyway, according to one poster at the box office.

I casually asked the staff who would give the go signal for her to start selling tickets and she replied that the ones in-charge of each cinema will be telling her if they were ready. I thought this was a lame excuse for a policy (if ever that was a policy) given again that they could have simply blocked the entrance to the theater if they weren't ready to allow people to get in. That was the logical thing to do rather than advise people to wait for the time when they could buy tickets while the staff stood idle at the box office. In fact, when they did start selling tickets a few minutes before the screening time of the earliest film to be shown, the staff couldn't handle the queue quite efficiently because they also took time processing transactions made by the senior citizens in the line. For the uninformed, senior citizens in the Philippines are given discounts provided they present their IDs and sign forms to avail of the discounts.

A word of advice to the different malls' managements - sell the tickets as soon as you have your staff manning the box office ready. There's no sense at all not to do so early considering people get to choose the screening schedules and it takes time to process purchases especially when seats are selected or when senior citizens are involved. You have staff assigned at the respective cinema entrances. They have and should do their jobs of letting people in according to the schedules on their tickets. Unless of course your cinema box offices still employ primitive ticketing where it may be difficult to determine the time when a customer is supposed to enter the theater. In that case, it's time you realize that you need to modernize your ticketing. It will be good for business.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Feeling of Accomplishment

While Facebook has allowed me to reconnect with relatives, former classmates and childhood friends, it has also functioned as a means for me to see where my former students have gone after graduation. I am quite happy with what I've seen so far with most of them. This is because I see from their status that most of them have good jobs. They are usually employed in the private sector and I would like to think that most of them were able to get posts where the work is according to their chosen field, Civil Engineering, and perhaps even the sub-field that they preferred during the time they were seniors in UP. I would also like to think that they're jobs pay well considering most of them are with well-known companies.

Many of my former students are now employed abroad. A good number of them I know are in Singapore though I haven't had the opportunity to meet up with some of them. So far, I haven't had the luck of bumping into any of them although I see that they also go to places where I and the Clairvoyant frequent for eating out or shopping (usually the window kind). There are also many who are now based in the Middle East with quite a few in Dubai. Then there are those who are in the US, Australia and Japan. Again, based on their status I was able to learn that many in the latter countries are studying there. In fact, we have many graduates who are now taking graduate studies at the University of Tokyo and Tokyo Institute of Technology, two of the leading institutions in Japan.

One former student whom I am quite proud of as he was perhaps among the most successful of my advisees is now studying in France. He was or is still is a manager for a multinational company (i.e., probably on study leave). I still remember him presenting one of our papers at an international conference held at UC Berkeley in 2007 and our group going around the Bay Area afterwards to enjoy the sights and experiences there. I also remember him asking for advise one weekday evening regarding taking graduate studies.

Two of my more recent advisees have chosen careers with the academe. One, my first Ph.D. student, is now Dean of Civil Engineering at a very reputable technical institution in Manila. The other will be joining our Center soon as part of our technical staff. I am sure they will contribute so much to improving transportation and traffic in the Philippines.

I do believe, if only for the evidence I've related in the preceding paragraphs, that being a teacher is a very satisfying job. It is, of course, a difficult and very challenging job to try to impart knowledge and experience to our students. I wouldn't even want to take credit for our students' accomplishments considering that what they are now are the outcomes of their own initiatives, of hard work that they put in. They are the products of many elements and influences, mainly due to their own families, friends and special someones. Yet, I am very happy and very satisfied knowing that perhaps I could have had influenced them in some positive way so that they could be successful with their lives. That is enough for me and gives me a feeling of accomplishment that is perhaps very much like the feeling related to me by my own parents, and my cousins and aunts who were also teachers.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Reconnecting with a friend and his music

I first met him in high school and he was ahead of me by a year. I was a freshman and he was a sophomore when we got introduced by way of scouting. It was a little later that I discovered he was the older brother of another sophomore but wasn't at all surprised. In our school, it was quite common for younger people to catch up to boys a batch ahead of them because of the acceleration opportunity granted to Grade 6 students who performed quite well in their academics. I found him as someone quite odd yet very kind and very patient. He was to me someone whom you'd want to be your kuya given the way he related to people younger than him. Many of us in our batch got to be acquainted with him and he was gracious enough to help us out being an upperclassman in high school. He shared stories with us about what he would like to be if given the freedom to choose, to decide. He wanted to become a DJ. He wanted to devote time to music. He wanted to mix music, play it and enjoy it. That was how I knew Vir-Gil then and that was how I know him today, many years after we lost track after graduating from high school.

He is known online as DJ Beatraxx and his works are accessible for music lovers through Mixcrate, which I only discovered a few days ago, thanks to one of his postings on Facebook. We only got reacquainted last year thanks to the search features of Facebook where he was suggested as someone I knew. I took the opportunity to reconnect and he did accept the friend request. Later, he related to me about how he had become serious in life after marrying and having a family of his own. He also shared how he finally got to save up to get back to his hobby of mixing music. And so I was happy too to have reacquainted with an old friend and had a bonus of sorts with his music, which happens to be mostly about the 80's and particularly about New Wave. Glad to see you again, my friend, and perhaps we shall meet in one of those alumni homecomings at Lourdes soon. The silver jubilees of our batches are coming up quite quickly in the next few years.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Experiences and lessons on land use and zoning along Katipunan

Last Friday, a rally was held just outside the Ateneo De Manila University along Katipunan Avenue to protest the construction of Blue Residences, one of the SM group’s high-rise condominium projects that is located near the corner of Katipunan Ave.-Aurora Blvd. where a mini golf course and a few small shops used to be. The protesters wielded placards stating what could have been applicable to many of the developments now standing along Katipunan and just across from Ateneo and Miriam College. This is not really a new issue the protesters were dealing with but something that, dare I say, has festered for quite some time now.

The issue of land use and zoning along Katipunan is a continuing struggle against what the Quezon City government has maintained as its policy for “spot” zoning to accommodate high density residential and commercial development along a stretch of Circumferential Road 5 that used to be predominantly low density with small shops and restaurants lining the west side of the road and separated from the main highway by an island and a two-way service road where local traffic including tricycles flowed. This was the Katipunan I first started to be familiar with in the late 80′s when I entered UP as a freshman. Miriam was still known as Maryknoll at the time and was run nuns prior to it becoming the secular but still Catholic institution that it is today.

Traffic was more manageable along Katipunan then and a fleet of blue school buses served the Ateneans. It was a case of high occupancy transport that sadly has digressed to high vehicular volume, low occupancy traffic that Ateneo and Miriam are associated with today. Tricycles then were confined to the west service road and crossed Katipunan only at the intersections, which were strategically located just across from the main gates of Ateneo and Miriam. These intersections used to be signalized but the settings were often manipulated to favor Ateneo and Miriam traffic during the peak periods, much to the frustration of through traffic.

Fast forward to the present when the service road was removed along with the island to given way to what the previous MMDA dispensation referred to as a clearway policy to encourage faster traffic speeds combined with the much maligned U-turn scheme as applied to Katipunan. The smaller shops and restaurants have been replaced by condominiums and other establishments that have generated much traffic (not that Ateneo and Miriam have not been responsible for congestion) and which obviously do not have enough parking resulting in cars parked all over along the avenue and effectively reducing road capacity.

An article written by Randy David through his regular column at the Philippine Daily Inquirer came out today to speak about the Professor’s personal experience about Katipunan and his granddaughter’s views on development. Entitled “Katipunan Blues,” it presents a very honest and a very common observation of what Katipunan has become through the years and what different generations think about the development (or degeneration) along the particular stretch of the avenue. Its conclusion is something to ponder about and applicable not only for Quezon City and the rest of Metro Manila but for other cities across the country as well.

Is it too late for Katipunan given all the developments that have been permitted along this road? Did the universities do their part to prevent this in the first place? Or were they part of what Katipunan is today? Does Quezon City (or other local governments for that matter) even know what land use planning is about and what its policies on accommodating development have brought about in many other place? Could the DENR through its EIA process or the HLURB through its own instruments have prevented the deterioration of communities? There seems to be too many questions and we’re running out of answers for these.

Perhaps the answers were there but authorities and officials responsible refused to take heed of these or turned a blind eye to the issues. Perhaps the various developments and SM Blue were allowed because local governments became too eager for developments that also have been equated with revenues for the cities. Still, established systems and processes like the DENR-EMB’s and the HLURB’s are supposed to be there to ensure responsible and appropriate development.

We are often dumbfounded at what has actually happened and the outcomes clearly show our failures. Perhaps we are too blinded with the notion of development that we forget that it is also our responsibility to guide proponents. A lot of soul-searching should be undertaken to rethink how we plan and develop our cities. Such should properly incorporate principles of sustainability including those that address issues pertaining to transport and land use. We have a long way to go towards sustainable development as applied to city planning and development. But we need to start now if we are to even achieve a fraction of what we’d like our cities, our communities to become. We also need for champions to come forward among our current leaders and officials if only to bring order to what is perceived as chaotic development.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Everything Counts

Tears for Fears held a concert last year to the delight of many Filipinos particularly those of my generation who were in high school or college in the mid to late 1980's. It was about 25 years late but it didn't matter to fans who gobbled up the tickets to the gig at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City. In fact, when I had a chance to check for tickets the only ones remaining were the 10,000 PhP ones. I would've wanted to watch the concert with the Clairvoyant but just couldn't justify shelling out 20,000 PhP for a pair of tickets. My conscience would not allow me to splurge just like that. So now I'm just looking forward to the real possibility that Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal will be returning to Manila given the tremendous success of the concert. In fact, I learned that the organizers initially reserved only half of the venue but eventually had to add more seats as the demand for tickets was clearly underestimated. It seems that one thing they didn't consider was that a lot of those who probably would have coughed out good money if the concert were held in the 1980's are now mostly successful people who can afford the tickets, even the most expensive ones.

Another act that I would consider going to is Depeche Mode, shown in the YouTube video below in a live performance of "Everything Counts," a personal favorite aside from the mushy "Somebody" and, of course, "People are People." I have a few albums including compilations. But one album I bought in Japan was lost somehow a few years ago and it happened to be a rare one featuring live and extended performances of their greatest hits.

Of course, nothing will beat having U2 live in Manila. Surely this will be sold out in a matter of munites and one would have to compete with expats and tourists to get tickets. But I'm sure it will be something worth it, if only to catch a live performance by a band that is still in top flight and form.

These days, I try to catch my music on several stations during the week and currently, it is 99.5 RT Saturday evening program which provides the best mix of 80's music. I have even had the chance of listening to some new wave music I haven't heard of for so many years now including one that was plagiarized by a local band and passed of as an anthem in sports events. For shame! Anyhow, there is still 89.1's Laid back Wednesdays, 88.3's Slide and 89.9's Magic Madness on Fridays. Only, new wave is not the only thing they play as there are mostly Pop and Rock from 80's and the 90's much like what 97.1 played back when I was at university. I hope RT is able to sustain their Saturday program as it provides a nice backdrop while relaxing on a weekend or even while correcting examination papers.


Today is the first day of the University of the Philippines College Admission Test or UPCAT. This is the entrance examination for the University of the Philippines, the country's premier state university. There are 4 batches of examinees - one each for the morning and afternoon sessions of Saturday and Sunday. The exams are administered in testing centers throughout the country including those at the UP System's campuses in Baguio City, Diliman, Manila, Los Banos, Miag-ao, Tacloban, Cebu, and Mindanao as well as its satellites in Iloilo City, Clark and Olongapo. There are so many other testing centers spread out to accommodate the thousands of aspiring senior high school students vying for the limited slots in the various UP academic programs. In fact, there are courses which are classified as quota courses that have restrictions in the number of students who may qualify for these programs. These quota courses included those in Engineering, the Sciences, Business and Economics, and Education.

I remember my taking the UPCAT in August 1987. I was part of the first batch for that year's exams, taking the test on a Saturday morning. I remember my father taking me to UP and he has always told me that he felt proud even then that his son was taking the entrance exams at UP. He always mentions that he didn't have that option when he was a senior in Cabatuan Comprehensive High School back in 1954 and preferred that I go to UP should I pass the exam. This came from a man who has degrees in Chemical Engineering and Chemistry from the National University and Mapua Institute of Technology. The latter being among the most notable engineering schools during their time and until now.

My designated examination room was located at the UP Integrated School (UPIS) that is just across Katipunan from the main campus of Diliman. In those days, Katipunan was just a 2 lane road not like the 6 lane highway that it is today. The median island where the huge trees remain are the remnants of where the old fence of UPIS used to be. I don't really remember my exact feelings prior to, during and after the examination. However, I believe I was confident enough to have overcome whatever kaba I had and I'm sure I was relieved upon completing the exam. I remember I was able to answer all the questions and with time to spare for each part of the exam. As such, I was even able to review some of my answers and was even able to correct a few afterwards.

Prior to the exam day, my barkada and I went to UP to look for our exam rooms. I think my closest friends all took their exams in one of the main buildings in the main campus while only I was at UPIS. I do remember my first day to see the campus and it was overwhelming to see such magnificent grounds, which looked and felt so expansive compared to the Lourdes Mandaluyong campus in Ortigas. I was impressed by the environment as I got my first look at the Academic Oval. And my first good look at Melchor Hall was when I went there to meet-up with a buddy there after walking from UPIS to Melchor. At the time, I didn't think I would eventually be studying at Melchor, home to the College of Engineering, of which I remain as a current member of the faculty. I think that was the time UP got me smitten and I have since remained in love with and loyal to the university.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A miracle in a resignation?

A friend asked "Why would a senator resign if he were not guilty of committing and/or benefiting from alleged election fraud four years back?" I replied that it was probably to "stop the bleeding" given that the atmosphere these days pertaining to the election controversy the senator was entangled in would have led to more exposes should he have held on to his seat. It is perhaps a case of damage control on the part of the young politician and something that is much like a gambit that was able to solicit, so far, the desired outcome of his move. Note that the unexpected announcement "shocked" not a few people and silenced many critics and naysayers who doubted his being elected in the first place due to the unusual circumstances in Mindanao during the 2007 elections.

Still, I would like to believe that conscience and the good in him and his family have had a significant influence on his decision to resign. But then again, he could have spared us from his trapo speech. Whatever he accomplished while he was considered a senator was expected of him or whoever was deemed elected by the people. We cannot and should not expect less from a nationally elected official and so he is indebted to us rather than us to him as what his speech seems to be suggesting. Indeed it is a well calculated move that drew applause and praises but we should be ever vigilant, aware and informed about such situations. Our memories should not be so short as to forget about seeking the truth regarding these matters. As my friend concludes, we should pray that the truth be revealed and that the guilty be punished accordingly and justly. This will ultimately define us as a people and perhaps many other politicians should take his lead if only to show everyone that there is still decency left in this country.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Information dissemination in times of flooding

I admire the current Marikina City administration for being on top of the situation with regards to their constituents. Part of this is their transparency in providing scientific information on rainfall and the levels of the Marikina River. Such information are good references especially since one can easily compare the situation in Marikina with those of adjoining areas given that the streams and other waterways connect to the Marikina and Pasig Rivers. Below are links to the information derived from the DOST and Marikina's very own local monitoring system.

River level:


One can easily navigate the site for other pertinent information.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Turistang pasaway

Among my top pet peeves pertain to airline passengers who do not listen to instructions and announcements made by the airline staff. You know who these are:
a) Those who continue to use their cell phones or other electronic gadgets even when the plane is about to take off or land;
b) Those who put down their trays or window shades during take-offs and landings;
c) Those who stand up and attempt to open the overhead hatches to get their luggage immediately upon landing or while the plane is taxiing; and
d) Those who race towards the exit as if they will be left off the plane if they didn't do so or maybe they thought they were very important people.

Add to this list under the said category are people who have already been advised not to take photos while walking at the tarmac of the airport. Such instructions are regularly given prior to landing at Changi with the staff citing high volume of activities at the airport (which is true) and Singapore airport security policies. Almost always, only a few listen and heed such instructions giving way to the common observation and perception that Filipinos are hard-headed and don't know how to follow simple instructions.

Perhaps for some this is an expression of their freedom. I would like to correct this claim and tag it more appropriately as stubbornness and something that is unnecessary even for the neophyte traveler. Is this how we make statements of our freedoms? Or is this how we show others that we don't care and that we aren't at all sophisticated in the sense that we cannot even follow simple rules even when security and efficiency are legitimate concerns.

So it is that a guilty pleasure of mine is when I see these people being admonished by airline staff, by the ground crew or, best of all, by Changi security people, for doing what they were told not to do in the first place. Still, I see a lot of people continuing to do so as if their vacations won't be complete without taking photos without concern about airport operations and security. They continue to be an embarrassment to those who do follow the rules and those who have learned to become more civilized and more disciplined. Believe me, it doesn't hurt and it does one more good than bad to listen and follow instructions.