Saturday, April 28, 2012

Recovered photos: UPD MSCE Graduation 1995

Among the negatives recovered were the following photos that I had assumed I had lost to the floods in 2009. I was elated with the unexpected finds and immediately had the photos printed. I scanned them myself and have uploaded them in my computers as well as now posting them on my blog and Facebook account. I believe this effort should ensure I wouldn't lose these photos again.

With Tatay at the Film Center after the college rites
With good friend Ericson Aquino after the University rites
Souvenir photo op at the Film Center podium 
The next photos I will be scanning and perhaps posting would be those taken during various get-togethers in Japan between 1996 and 1999. These are especially important as I have much of the photos I took during that period, a time when I had two cameras and often lugged extra film (two rolls of 36's) in addition to the roll that was always loaded in each of my cameras.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Graduation photos - UP MSCE Class of 1995

My good friend Karl was clearing up one of our shelves at the laboratory and stumbled upon a treasure trove of photos and negatives we had probably misplaced or assumed to have been lost by one reason or another. Among the negatives found were those of our graduation from the University back in April 1995 featuring the first 4 MSCE scholars supported by a Japanese Grant through NCTS: Crispin Emmanuel Diaz, Frederick Mangubat, Jose Regin Regidor and Noriel Christopher Tiglao. The photos were taken during the college and university rites and were most probably recorded through Noriel's camera. Among the photos are two that also feature two of our friends posing with us. These were Rene Val Teodoro and Love Panaguiton who marched with us but as BSCE and BSGE graduates, respectively. They were delayed by a semester or two but were able to join the college rites corresponding to their completion of requirements (e.g., Val finished October 1994).

Following are photos scanned from the prints developed from the negatives we recovered from our shelves.

Posing at the Film Center with the still unfinished UP Theater in the background [L-R: Cris Diaz, Fred Mangubat, Regin Regidor and Noriel Tiglao]

At the Film Center doorway [L-R: Regin Regidor, Fred Mangubat, Val Teodoro, Noriel Tiglao and Cris Diaz]

Photo op on-stage after the recognition rites [L-R: Cris Diaz, Regin Regidor, Fred Mangubat and Noriel Tiglao]

Just in front of our seats [L-R: Fred Mangubat, Regin Regidor, Noriel Tiglao and Cris Diaz]

At the University commencement exercises at the amphitheater behind Quezon Hall [L-R: Fred Mangubat,  another MSCE grad whose name I forget, Regin Regidor and Noriel Tiglao]

Posing after the university rites [L-R: Fred Mangubat, Regin Regidor, Love Panaguiton and Noriel Tiglao]

Posing with the Carillon [L-R: Noriel Tiglao, Cris Diaz, Fred Mangubat and Regin Regidor]


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Flashback: Ilocos Sur - Quirino Bridge

A friend stumbled upon a treasure trove of photos from 2004 when we were implementing a project that took us across the island of Luzon mainly along the Manila North Road/McArthur Highway/Maharlika Highway corridor. In the Ilocos Region, we set up stations in La Union and Ilocos Sur. But as they say, it is not only the destinations that are the attractions but the journeys as well. Nothing could be further from the truth as along the way, we were treated to so many sights that one could only appreciate if you were on a road trip, and with the advantage of daylight so as to be able to take in the roadside attractions.

The following photos were taken on our return trip from Vigan when we passed the Quirino Bridge that spans the Abra River. We were not able to appreciate the bridge on our way to Vigan as it was already night time when we reached Ilocos Sur. I remember that our staff Glenn and I linked up with our staff Alorna and Roy in Bauang, La Union so we could go together to Vigan. Glenn and I took a Partas bus from Cubao and arrived in Bauang around 2PM to meet up with Alorna and Roy, who had just completed their surveys along the highway in that town. Karl, who headed that team, had to go back to UP to attend to his lectures, and it was my turn to go in the field at the time after also fulfilling my responsibilities at the university in between postings in Bagiuo and then Vigan. During our return trip, we made sure we were able to at least make some stopovers to be able to take some souvenir photos.

Quirino Bridge as seen from the north end
At the north end of the bridge with Glenn Latonero
At a view deck along the national highway after crossing the Quirino Bridge with Roy Velasco and Glenn
At the view deck with Glenn Latonero and Alorna Abao
Posing with the vehicle with Glenn and Alorna
Kidding around with Glenn and Alorna
Approach to the bridge from the north end

Monday, April 23, 2012

Flashback: Bantay, Ilocos Sur

In Ilocos Sur doing field work for a project our Center was implementing for JICA and DOTC, we had some time between inspections and surveys to go around the town of Bantay and the City of Vigan. Bantay was located along the national highway and so was very accessible from our station at the Bulag Elementary School. Following are a few scanned photos of the San Agustin Parish Church in Bantay, Ilocos Sur, which is also the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity (Nuestra Señora de la Caridad). The dates on the photos are erroneous as I was not able to set the date and time of my old Pentax camera. The photos were taken sometime in August 2004, during our series of surveys to the north that included setting up stations in Pulilan (Bulacan), Lubao (Pampanga), Tarlac (Tarlac), Urdaneta (Pangasinan), Baguio (Benguet), Bauang (La Union), and Vigan/Bantay (Ilocos Sur).

The San Agustin Parish Church (also the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity) in Bantay, Ilocos Sur 
Posing with Glenn Latonero in front of San Agustin/Shrine of Our Lady of Charity
Old bell tower on top of a small hill near San Agustin that was used as an observation post during the Spanish and American periods
Posing with the bell tower in the background (From L-R: Karl Vergel, Alorna Abao, Regin Regidor, Roy Velasco)


Friday, April 20, 2012

Flashback: Field Surveys in Urdaneta, Pangasinan

A friend found some old photos from field surveys we undertook for a nationwide study on inter-regional passenger and freight flow. The photos bring back a lot of memories about those challenging surveys that required us to stop vehicles and interview drivers and passengers. Though we were assisted by the PNP, we had mixed experiences during the surveys. There were some who were rude but most were kind enough to indulge us in our data gathering. The following photos were taken on July 29, 2004 at roadside in Urdaneta, Pangasinan as I and our staff Alorna Abao was heading to Baguio City with Mang Dulo (Odo) as our driver. I stopped by the station along McArthur Highway to pick up Alorna who was on my good friend Karl Vergel's team. I was coming from my own station in Capas, Tarlac and we had to do recon in Baguio. I remember our strategy was to do "city hopping" all the way to Ilocos for our surveys.

From L-R: Ernie Abaya, Roy Velasco, Regin Regidor, Karl Vergel, Alorna Abao and Dulo Odo

From L-R: Leo Luangco, Roy Velasco, Regin Regidor, Karl Vergel, Alorna Abao, Dulo Odo
I will be posting more photos from our surveys in 2004 in the succeeding days.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


After what seemed like a very long day, and a literally scorching one as the summer sun continued to heat things up, it was very refreshing to finally meet a nephew I have never seen all this time. The nephew is the youngest child of my first cousin Rosario, who is the youngest child of an elder sister of my father. Tatay is turning 74 later this year and his sister, Nay Arsen (Arsenia) died a few years back at the ripe old age of 94. I think she could have been 100 this year.

My cousin Rosario (we call her Manang Ayo) studied in the same High School many of my relatives in Iloilo went to, the Cabatuan National Comprehensive High School (CNCHS), garnering the highest average any student has ever had in that school (I think the record stands to this day.). She proceeded to study at the University of San Agustin in Iloilo City and took her graduate studies at the University of the Philippines Los Banos. She eventually joined the government in what is now the Sugar Regulator Administration from which she will soon be retiring from after so many years of dedicated service to the country. 

She and her family have resided in La Carlota City, Negros Occidental where she and her husband, Manong Mike, brought up their two children, Windy and Ariel. Both children eventually studied at UPLB with Ariel being a contemporary of his uncle, my younger brother Rey. Ariel took up Veterinary Medicine while my brother was taking Biology as a pre-med course. They were both in UPLB at the time our niece Christine (Tintin) was also taking Food Technology at the same university. We were happy to know at the time (latter part of the 1990s) that they knew each other and got together every so often to exchange stories. Unfortunately, I and my sister were not able to know our nephew and so today's meeting was a breath of fresh air, particularly in a day that was quite toxic given the confluence of events after lunch.

I learned a lot today including my cousin giving particular instructions to her son that he needs to meet me and his Lolo. Apparently, Manang spoke highly of us to her children and I knew this to be, based on how my nephew related about his intent to meet up. We had a great talk and I gave him Tatay's and my brother's numbers so he could also contact them. Ariel is heading to the US to attend a conference next week and will be staying in California for a couple of weeks. He'll be visiting my parents' home when he comes back from his trip. It turns out that he is currently a tenured faculty member at the College of Veterinary Medicine at UPLB and his practice takes him to Manila quite often as he is literally a "duktor ng kabayo." He specializes on horses and most of his clients are racehorse owners. It was a pleasure exchanging notes about university life, especially from the perspective of teachers.

I look forward to a mini-reunion with them in the near future. I even had the chance to talk to Manang this evening after Ariel called her up to tell her we finally met. It is always nice and feels good to re-connect with relatives whom you seem to easily get along with. There is that light feeling to it, and inside you, you know that the person is indeed your blood and shares much of what you had learned from your parents and elders.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Melaka Redux: Lunch at the central bus terminal

There's just so many photos taken during our trip to Melaka (just like those we took during our US trip last year) that I keep forgetting posting other highlights on this site. I'm not sure if I can call it a highlight but on our way back from Melaka, we decided to come to the Melaka Central Bus Terminal early so we could explore the area and have our lunch there as well. We ended up buying a few souvenirs including pairs of rubber sandals. Rubber, of course, happens to be of very high quality in Malaysia. I even remember some lectures during grade school where we were taught that one of the products that country was known for was rubber. It only made more sense to get something Made in Malaysia when we inspected the flip flops at one of the many stalls in the terminal and concluded they were top of the line and at very, very reasonable prices.

We eventually ended up looking for a place to eat and there were many choices with the food they offer on display much like the turu-turo eateries we have in the Philippines (there are just so many similarities among ASEAN countries). One thing we have learned from our many travels is to eat where many other people, especially the locals, eat. And so we chose one Restoran Sri Mawar Ria, whose staff got our attention as he greeted us in Filipino. Apparently, there are many Filipinos traveling to Melaka, most of whom were or are probably tourists. Many Filipinos working in Singapore, for example, travel to Malaysia for vacations, in part due to the proximity and the smooth immigration processing between the two countries. Malaysia is a Muslim country so all the food are halal. We had chicken and shrimps for our lunch and this came with soup. I opted for iced milk tea while the Clairvoyant had a Coke to wash down our meals.

Chicken and fried rice
Shrimps and fried rice
The eatery at the bus terminal where some of the staff were Filipinos via Sulu

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Comfort food - Pancake House at T3

After refraining from eating beef or pork during Lent, I had my first meal with either as I was waiting for a friend at the airport. Her delayed flight allowed for enough time to have a leisurely dinner at the Pancake House at NAIA Terminal 3. The restaurant is among our favorites as it some of what we consider as comfort food including, of course, their pancakes and waffles. This time, I chose to order their spaghetti with meat sauce and their house iced tea.

Pancake House's spaghetti with meat sauce with their house iced tea on the side

I am a regular at this branch at T3 whether I am fetching someone at the airport or taking a flight myself. I usually come early for my flights so I am not harried. This usually means I would have enough time to relax and take something before a flight. The good thing with the established restaurants located at T3 is that they retain their prices unlike other restos in the other NAIA terminals that usually have overpriced items on their menus (presyong turista or presyong airport).

Also, on trips to Tagaytay, I remember we usually stop over at Paseo Sta. Rosa to have our breakfast at the Pancake House branch there. What we usually have for breakfast is either pancakes or waffles and a side order of their Country Sausage. The Clairvoyant would usually have her refillable cup of coffee while I would opt for hot chocolate or a glass of orange juice.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

At the movies - Sequel to the Clash

I finally got to watch a movie at the theater after maybe more than three months. The reason is not that I had no time for a viewing but that there was no movie I felt I needed to watch. It's one thing to sit there and be disappointed ("I wonder why I watched this movie?") and its very similar to feel you could have done better doing other things. I was quite curious for "Wrath of the Titans" after feeling that aside from the special effects, it wasn't as good as the original. This time around was slightly better but I again feel they could have done better with the plot. So this evening's screening was only slightly enjoyable for me though it essentially launches my cinema schedule for 2012.

On my radar are the following movies with numbers 1 to 5 in that particular order:
1. The Hobbit
2. Avengers
3. The Amazing Spiderman
4. The Dark Knight Rises
5. Men in Black 3
6. Battleship
7. Ice Age 4 - Continental Drift
8. Despicable Me 2
9. Les Miserables
10. The Expendables 2

Others I would most likely watch would be:
The Bourne Legacy
Madagascar 3 - Europe's Most Wanted
Snow White and the Huntsman

Other films I would probably consider as they come along. These include those that have not been hyped so much but would be delightful to watch. In the past, such movies have included Love Actually, Taken, and The Hangover.

It's not so easy to watch a movie by yourself unless that's what you generally do. In my case, the past year saw me schedule my cinema time so I could watch movies with the Clairvoyant in Singapore. I guess this will be the case until maybe July when she most likely will return home and we will continue our adventures together including watching films together.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The parable of the two vendors

Do good guys finish last? Are they "losers" for seemingly giving way to those who are so commonly perceived as "assertive" in this day when a "dog eat dog" mentality (with apologies to my Troy and Barbi) seems the norm in order to get ahead of the pack? I was reading an article written by a friend as a reflection for Good Friday, and one of the first things that came to my mind was a recent experience I had while managing a seminar we had organized for our Institute and Center. Some circumstances probably led to what eventually transpired during the morning but we didn't expect a little twist that I just had to confirm what we had witnessed via an email in the following days.

It started when Vendor A arrived at the venue ahead of Vendor B, together with an entourage that included two of his staff bearing suitcases and boxes with equipment he said he wanted set-up for his talk. We were surprised at his arrival and insistence because he was NOT scheduled to give any presentation. We did send him an invitation to present a month earlier but he did not reply to our email and we could not contact him on the phone numbers he provided to us during a previous visit to the Center. It turns out that former colleagues misrepresented the Center by assuming that the tentative programs they got had the final line-up of presenters. Only superficial apologies were extended to us while we tried to address the mix-up prior to the arrival of Vendor B. In the latter's case, the non-confirmation of Vendor A led to us inviting B, which the latter accepted with little fanfare despite the short notice (a couple of weeks after we didn't get a reply from A).

With available time in the morning session, we were able to squeeze-in Vendor A who, despite being provided an explanation of the situation as well as himself eventually confirming that his phone numbers were incorrect, still insisted on making a presentation albeit a shortened one and without his props. He ended up making a very long presentation that was more a sales talk rather than one that was supposed to be in-synch with the research and interactive (academe-government-industry) objectives of the seminar. At several times, he had to be reminded of the time, and which affected the presentations of the succeeding speakers. At one point in the presentation, he even announced his intent to donate equipment to the Center, which surprised everyone but was not taken seriously considering it might have been something made at the spur of the moment given the way he was talking that morning.

Meanwhile, Vendor B who requested to be the last presenter approached me and told me that he was contacted by his staff about an emergency regarding their servers. His being a vendor happened to be a part-time venture. Primary of his concerns was managing a business process outsourcing outfit nearby. He said that he would have to leave to attend to the emergency and expressed his apologies. I immediately saw what was actually transpiring and offered my own apologies, even extending yet another invitation for a future seminar that we have only started to conceptualize around an invitation for a visiting professor come July or August. Vendor B welcomes the opportunity but insisted it was his shortcoming and mentions he would try to return in the afternoon. Somehow, I knew he wouldn't be returning that day.

The next day, I sent him an email to again apologize for the mix-up and reiterating our intent to invite him to a future seminar. He responded by explaining that they indeed had an office emergency and thanked us nonetheless for an unrealized opportunity to present the previous day. To me, Vendor B's explanation was an example of humility in action and one that allowed us to save face despite the former being the offended party. If Vendor B would have been any other person like perhaps Vendor A, we would have been hearing and getting a more hostile response rather than an unexpected and undeserved apology. My colleagues (not the former ones who actually made quick exits even before the lunch break) also share the same opinions I had about what unfolded that day. We just laughed afterwards while also taking up the implications of the other people's actions that day

Vendor B was a class act and one that showed decency still existed, Vendor A's was a crass one and perhaps showed what people will do to get ahead and with the help of others who continue to masquerade as ones with concern about the Center when they are only concerned about themselves. At least to us who are in the know, Vendor B, the good guy, won this one.

[And that is my reflection on the eve of Easter Sunday.]


Friday, April 6, 2012

Reviving the Bicol Express

Part of our field visit at the PNR included a tour of the depot where the maintenance and refurbishing works are undertaken. Among the cars we saw were those intended for train sets to serve the recently revived Bicol Express. The service to Bicol was recently re-started with a once-a-day trip to Naga City in Camarines Sur, which was eventually extended all the way to Ligao, Albay. The revival hopefully could be the start of something big - a renaissance - for the once famed Bicol Express. For older people, this could be a nostalgic service while for younger people it could be an adventure of sorts. Perhaps it would be a welcome alternative to air and road travel to the region given that the PNR ROW offers a better view along the way into Bicol including breathtaking Vistas of Mayon Volcano, the Pacific Ocean, Lamon Bay, Ragay Gulf and the Bicol countryside. Unfortunately, for now Bicol Express trains travel mainly at night from Manila and so the views will come up only after Naga City, which the train reaches at around 6:00 AM in the morning, and from there proceeds to Legazpi City for the next few hours.

Diesel-electric locomotive that pulls PNR trains - unlike those I rode in Japan, Philippine trains are no electrified and have to be pulled  by locomotives.
Technical tours - our hosts were very gracious and generous to provide us with a grand tour of the depot and the rolling stock. Such tours help our students to understand railway engineering "from the source." Perhaps some students may be inspired to join a rail company
Sleepers - not referring to the rail ties but to the sleeper cars of this train, which has the family cabins consisting of 4 beds (0n 2 double-deckers) each cabin.
Side view - the same diesel electric locomotive, which is actually a mobile power plant. Diesel is used as the fuel for the engine that produces electricity to power the locomotive.
Upper deck - the cabins have 2 double deck beds with the upper deck bed having straps to prevent passengers from falling. While much of the PNR's tracks have been rehabilitated, they are said to be still far from providing the smooth ride of their Japanese counterparts.
Hallway - our students pose for photo along the corridor to illustrate the space in a sleeper car. There is a small seat that can be unfolded from the side wall across from each cabin door. Perhaps this is not really for use by the conductor but an extra seat for groups having a huddle or individuals wanting a seat to get a good view from the other side of the train. There's are thick curtains that serve to provide privacy for each cabin. Each car is connected to each other so it is certain that passengers from other cars may be walking along these corridors.
Wash room - the sleeper cars are equipped with washrooms and toilets for the long ride, amenities not usually found in most long distance buses serving the same corridor.
Dirty toilets? - not really because this train has not yet been put into operation. The amenities like toilets and sinks are part of the refurbishing activities, we were told. Of course, this would have to be validated by actual passengers who would, by now, have taken the Bicol Express trains to/from Bicol during these Holy Week holidays.
Conductor's cabin - each car has a cabin assigned for the conductor or whoever is assigned to assist passengers during their journeys.
Double-deckers - the photo affords a better view of the double deck beds in a family cabin. The handles on the vertical bar on the center when pulled apart will reveal steps for persons to climb to the upper deck beds. There are also curtains for persons to have privacy particularly while sleeping or when sharing the cabin with other people.
Driver's console - the controls for the train give a hint on how old this unit is, noting that it has been retired in Japan. I remember looking at similar dials and levers during my first visit to Japan in 1996 when we usually stood behind the cockpit to see how the train is operated.
Recliners - inside the cars are reclining seats that seem to be as comfortable as business class seats on airliners. I tried one of the seats and the cushions are still quite firm for something that's more than a decade old. I couldn't smell any traces of tobacco so I guess these were already sanitized. Smoking cars are quite common in Japan and seats and entire cars can smell of smoke that tends to stick to the furniture and your clothes if you happen to be in one during a trip.
Rotation - the seat can be configured so that groups may face each other. Many seat two people kind of like love seats perfect for snuggling on long distance trips. There are also pull-out trays for eating, writing or working on your computer to update FB status or tweet about the experience.
Entertainment - Yes, that's a television set at the far end of the cabin. I can imagine that like in buses, the PNR will be showing some movies during trips to help passengers wile away the time. We were informed that big groups could actually take a car for themselves so it is also possible to have activities like workshops in the train. Perhaps groups could even have karaoke if they had the entire car to themselves.
Reserved - the seat numbers remind ticket holders which seat they are to take and the characters remind us where the trains came from. That's a hook (for hanging your coat or other belonging) in the lower center of the photo.
Toilets - the toilets are western-style with support bars for those requiring stability and a paper towel dispenser for the convenience of passengers.
Toilets for PWDs and others - this has larger space for people requiring space including persons with disabilities, senior citizens, pregnant women and those with babies or small children.
No reservations - in Japan "Non-reserved" means that seats on the car are first come, first served. One could purchase either such seats or the more expensive reserved seats from the train station.
Executive class - the double deck cars containing Executive Sleepers or individual cabins for the Bicol Express.
Airconditioned - the Executive Sleepers have air-conditioning, which is a requirement for all services of the PNR that is part of the attraction for passengers. Some cars were fitted with generator sets to supplement the power provided by the locomotives. Note again that the PNR lines are not electrified so power required for lights, aircon and other equipment have to be provided by these generators.
Dining car - the Bicol Express trains include dining cars like this one also being refurbished by the PNR.
The Bar - the car included a bar where people could have drinks. This feature of the train elicited a lot of questions and some excitement among our students.
Dining tables - there's ample space for diners though we were not able to ask who may actually be allowed to use the dining cars. There are 4-seater and 2-seater tables in the car.
4-seaters - a closer look at the dining tables show comfortable seats and a good view from the window. Unfortunately, the Bicol Express trains travel at night so there's really not much to see while in transit. 
Singles - passengers may also opt to eat at the bar, especially for the case of individuals who might end up hogging a table and depriving groups of space.
Executive sleeper - the cabin has a bed that doubles as a seat. Note the foldable arm rests and back cushion by the window. Also, there is space for a small bag located at a more secure part of the cabin.
Lights and aircon - each cabin is equipped with a desk, adjustable lights and individual air-conditioning control for the convenience of the occupant.
Window seat - each cabin has a window and generous space for the individual. The same features are found on the cabins on the upper deck but I guess the view is better upstairs so these would be the choice cabins for the Executive Sleepers.
I look forward to finally riding the Bicol Express, perhaps with family or friends, as I visit relatives in Bicol (my mother hails from Sorsogon). Though I can ride the train to Legazpi City, Albay, it is just a short trip by bus from that city to my mother's hometown. Of course, there are other cities of interest for me including Naga City, my father-in-law's hometown and Legazpi where there are many attractions around. My father has told me a lot about the Bicol Express, which he took with his sisters en route to Sorsogon to wed my mother. And so, part of the attraction to the train is sentimental in nature.