Thursday, May 31, 2012


I can't seem to take out of my mind the memory of a small little girl we met as we were refueling at a station along Commonwealth last Sunday. She approached the driver side of our car as we opened our windows for ventilation as we shut down the car's engine. Bearing a few strings of rosal, a sweet smelling flower similar in scent with the sampaguita (jasmine), she asked us if we could buy just one string of rosal. My defense mechanism kicked in and I told her we weren't interested and that we only had money for gas. In my mind, I was asking myself how many children like her were selling flowers - a hard sell these days when most cars would have fresheners. Yet somehow, there was something in me that convinced me to pick up a few coins and give it to her. I remember telling her that she didn't have to give me a string as I handed 2 five peso coins to her.

As I began to talk about how many kids were like her being forced by circumstances and usually by their parents to sell flowers they probably plucked from somewhere, it was the Clairvoyant who pointed me to the little girl placing a string of rosal petals around the hands of an image of Our Lady just across from our car at the gas station. It kind of struck me that this little girl was quite different from others like her. She willingly and voluntarily gave something that to her was quite valuable that she essentially gave something of herself as shown by her actions. I really felt something touch my consciousness and called the girl to our car. She meekly approached and as I handed her a 20-peso bill, she tried to hand back the coins I gave her earlier, probably thinking I was taking them back. I realized my voice probably sounded hard or tough to her and so I toned down a little as I looked into her eyes and explained to her that I was rewarding her for her gesture to the image of Our Lady.

This perhaps was an example of what Christ told us about children and how we should be more like them. It is their innocence that allows them to look at things without the biases we have developed over the years and without over-analyzing things using these same biases and others that have allowed us to insulate ourselves from the sad realities around us. I now look forward to seeing that girl again at the gas station where we usually refueled during the weekends. I do hope her faith in God will become stronger and that she eventually grows up to be a good and productive person despite her environment and the various influences of people around her...God bless, keep and protect her.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Today is an historic day in the Philippines as the Senate voted 20-3 against the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The overwhelming vote on Article 2 effectively impeaches the Chief Justice, a first in a country where leaders have been known to use loopholes in the law to justify anomalous practices. This one should be something that will be the subject of many further discussions and opinions. The drama in the weeks leading to the decision was certainly educating as well as entertaining but this should also be a template and a strong message to others who are consciously and wrongfully hiding assets, also using loopholes for their immoral acts. We now hope that we can move forward and perhaps effect more reform that will lead to progress and benefits to the Filipino people. After all, the latter are what are supposed to be the end result desired from such exercise as the impeachment of a high official according to what was perceived and now proven to be bases for removal from office.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Dinner at Cafe Lawis

We had an early dinner at Cafe Lawis, which is just across from Dauis Church in Bohol. The cafe was highly recommended by friends and we just had to try it out on our first day of our recent vacation in Bohol. We arrived at Dauis Church just at sunset and were rewarded with a great view from the pier behind the church complex. (I will feature photos of the sunset in another post.) Meanwhile, following are a few photos we took at Cafe Lawis. We weren't so hungry as we had a hearty meal at NAIA Terminal 3 prior to our flight so we just tried their chicken roulade and calamares, and had very refreshing dalandan juice and lemongrass drink. They also had pasta and paninis for those who prefer to take a break from rice meals. However, what we really wanted to try was their souffles, which were also highly recommended. We were not disappointed with our meals and we were tremendously satisfied with their chocolate souffle, which we were advised took 30 minutes or so to prepare. It's probably the best chocolate souffle we've taste and we have tasted not a few of these in our travels.

Marker near the door in front of the building housing the cafe and souvenir shop at Dauis Church. The building used to be a convent and part of what is a complex. 
I took a photo of the Clairvoyant with the centuries old Mariveles tree that provides a canopy over the outdoor tables of the cafe. There are actually two areas under two trees (there was a smaller Mariveles) where receptions are also probably held after weddings at the picturesque Dauis Church. 
The Clairvoyant took a photo of me with the lights of Tagbilaran in the background across from the strait between Panglao and Bohol Islands. The other tables were already reserved for large groups.
Waiting for our dinner with the dark courtyard in the background
Lanterns hanging from the giant Mariveles tree
Carafes of dalandan and lemon grass juices
Chicken roulade
Delectable calamares
Best chocolate souffle! The ice cream is just a bonus for what we thought was the best souffle we've tasted and the perfect cap to our delicious dinner.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Salivating on salads

Eating healthy shouldn't be a problem in the Philippines with all the vegetables and fruits practically available all year round. There is also the country's wealth in aquatic resources that provides a bountiful harvest of fish and other marine items that are often the subject of abuse and therefore associated with issues pertaining to overfishing and poaching. For balance, of course, there are poultry, beef, pork and other meat that are also readily available. The best quality items, of course, might be a little pricey at supermarkets so it pays to also be knowledgeable of your local wet market.

Salads are quite easy to make with most if not all ingredients available at groceries or supermarkets. You just have to be picky with the greens as some tend to spoil easily once taken out of their sealed packages. I like my salads with fruits, which can be purchased canned but I prefer the fresh or dried variety that we can slice and mix with the greens. I also prefer vinaigrette over mayo-based dressings. If I had fruits, I may just pass on the dressing as the juices mingle with the greens and provide, for me, an excellent substitute to dressings. For greens, we usually get romaine lettuce and arugula. I have learned to like arugula but I prefer to eat with with apples. There is something in the apple's juices that mix quite well with the bitter arugula that results in a very tasty treat.

Flap Jack's Mango Exotica includes romain lettuce, croutons, raisins, grilled chicken and, of course, ripe mangoes

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mothers' Day

It's a week late or a year early but perhaps it can never be really early or late for Mothers' Day. In fact, I believe we should honor our mothers everyday for all the sacrifices they have made in raising us, making sure we grew up to be respectful, kind, productive citizens. There are, of course, exceptions to this but the bottom line is that whether a person is one's biological or adoptive mother, I am sure that the love given or shared is nurturing and true. Ibang usapan na if the child refuses to or doesn't accept or understand this, for one reason or another. That would indeed be a tragedy.

My brother found a couple of photos of Mama while looking through unsorted stuff from when they tried to recover items from the ravages of Ondoy (Ketsana) in 2009. Immediately, he notified me of the find and I picked up the photos yesterday for me to scan them and maybe preserve them for the future. I  post the two photos I scanned of my mother from a time we now refer to as classic or nostalgic. These are actually studio shots from the 1960's when people did prepare for their photo shoots. Those were the times when you had to make appointments and dressed up for your photos. The following photos of Caridad Fajardo Regidor were probably taken in her maiden years while living with her elder sister in Manila.

I look forward to more old photo finds that I can scan and preserve. It is not so easy to find these but maybe there are more somewhere in Sorsogon and Iloilo that our relatives have somewhere (old albums?).

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Happy birthdays!

It's my sister Lani's birthday today and we had our own party at our parents' home in Cainta where we all grew up. Her family was there so I had fun with the niece and the nephew, both of whom I haven't seen in quite a while since my brother had a second floor constructed for our house. For some reason, we just couldn't synchronize our visits to our parents' home and usually these were very short visits due to the chaos all around the house because of the project. Now, with the project completed, we're able to resume our Sunday get-togethers.

We've always enjoyed cakes but then with my niece and nephew having some allergies to nuts, we couldn't buy just any cake. Also, Goldilocks and Red Ribbon seem to be so ordinary (unless you order a cake for special occasions) and our status these days (laughs) allow us to get better cakes. I had Chocolate Kiss or Mom and Tina's in mind and would have gone to the PowerPlant mall or Eastwood to get really good cakes from their weekend specials but just didn't have time. They were out of the way and so I ended up in White Plains where located along Katipunan is a humble place where we could always get good cake - Gateau de Manille. As usual, there were many to select from and I had the full attention of the staff as I was there from when the store opened this morning.

Scrumptious - Gateau de Manille never fails to satisfy our sweet teeth

I opted for Tiramisu, after consulting my sister on the cell phone and remembering we had mousse the last time.   -

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A week of chairs

I'd like to think this week was about chairs starting when I had my chair given to me by the Clairoyant sometime in 2008 or 2009 re-upholstered. It wasn't a total re-upholstering and I didn't have to bring it to a shop. I was lucky that one of our staff, our driver Bert, was knowledgeable of such things as upholstery. I remembered this as he had already fixed some chairs and the conference table at one of our laboratories at the center. He did a great job on those so I consulted him on my chair. And so we ended up dismantling the chair and replacing parts of the leather that was damaged from the weathering effect of use the past 4 years. The result is the chair in the photo where the damaged leather (on the seat, armrests and upper back parts) were replaced with better material. My two-tone chair should last more years.

Refurbished chair
This morning, I also sat on two special chairs. First was the dental chair when I had my regular appointment with our dentist in Marikina. I had my teeth cleaned and one filling fixed. Next stop for me was a visit to the barber shop and another special chair. I had my hair cut a week earlier than usual as I would be on trips in the next two weekends to conclude summer - a long-planned return to Panglao in Bohol and my regular visit to Singapore where the Clairvoyant is based. I expect to be seated in another chair in Panglao, the folding type and facing the excellent beaches at the resort.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Melaka central bus terminal

Trips between Singapore and Malaysia are quite frequent given the proximity between the two countries (Singapore used to be part of Malaysia.) with a lot of people employed just across the borders and Malaysia being a popular destination for shopping and recreation. In fact, the first Premium Outlet in Asia is located in Johor, Malaysia, which is just across the border from Singapore. On a weekend trip to Melaka (Malacca), we took an express bus that made only 3 stopovers including one each for immigration control/processing in Singapore (exit) and Malaysia (entry). On the way back, we only had an extra stopover due to a fellow passenger requesting for a toilet break.

Arriving at Melaka, I was impressed with the central bus terminal, a sprawling complex that connected with commercial establishments around it. Inside the terminal, there are many shops and restaurants so one doesn't need to leave the terminal to eat or to make some last minute shopping. Good buys are rubber sandals much like those being sold under Brazilian brands. Malaysia is a major producer of rubber and the sandals made in Malaysia are of high quality but less expensive than the Brazilian and perhaps Chinese counterparts.

Terminal building and parking
A look at the spacious parking area around the terminal
Directional sign to guide visitors (probably sponsored by the emporium indicated at the bottom)
Pedestrian overpass for people crossing the busy highway in front of the terminal
There are many restaurants and shops inside the terminal, which is by itself a commercial establishment.
Hotel/accommodations information for travelers are posted at the terminal
The different bus companies operating out of the terminal have their booths were travelers may buy/reserve tickets.
The ticketing area is spacious and there were no long lines, in part due to the availability of online (internet) ticket purchases. Seating is not free for all so travelers need to reserve or purchase tickets ahead of travel in order to get good schedules and seats.
One can purchase tickets to any point in Malaysia (local long distance trips) and Singapore (another country) is among the most popular destinations. Schedules and fares are posted for information of travelers.
There are many choices among the bus companies but I would strongly recommend Starmart Express buses when traveling between Singapore and Malaysia. They provide excellent service and have well-maintained buses. One can purchase tickets online and claim these at their booths/stations.
Interactive information screen at the terminal
Static information board for the locations of bus company booths at the terminal
Travelers lining up before a booth to purchase tickets
Buses berthed at the terminal departure area
Typical long distance limousine bus plying routes between Malaysia and Singapore
The central bus terminal at Melaka is a good example of terminal design for long distance buses. Such concepts are also found in the Philippines but with some significant variations in the design. Among the notables are the terminals in Mabalacat (Pampanga), Lucena (Quezon) and Legazpi City (Albay) in Luzon. Other terminals in the Philippines are not good examples in the sense that many are not developed or well-planned, many without the amenities or features of a modern terminal. Perhaps local and international examples of terminals should serve as templates for central terminal development in the Philippines including those being conceptualized for Metro Manila.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bali in Zambales

Our office had our annual planning seminar at a resort along Pundaquit Beach in San Antonio, Zambales. Punta de Uian is a relatively new resort in the area that is fast becoming a popular destination for families and offices holding reunions, seminars, workshops or outings by the beach. We were generally pleased with the facilities at the resort especially the venue for seminars. The cottages were also nice for big groups though their rooms for single or two occupants are quite regular and not so different from other hotels or resorts I've stayed in before. The complex though is quite impressive with the man-made lagoon surrounded by Balinese-inspired cottages and the effort for the Ifugao/Igorot inspired cottages on one part of the resort.

Guard post at main gate
Lounge inside male comfort room
Cubicle doors at the male toilet
Seminar room
Balinese inspired wall at seminar room
Doors to the female (left) and male (right) comfort rooms
Stylized bird cage at the lobby

Check-in counter at the lobby of the seminar venue
Posing at the receiving area of the lobby with Balinese windows/mirrors adorning the wall. Other furniture are also Balinese inspired and are supposedly imported from Bali, Indonesia.
Hallway to the dining area
Buddhist figure and Balinese drum and lamps in front of the intricately carved doorway
Seated on Balinese furniture
Statues, ornaments and buffet cabinet
Close-up of Balinese window/mirror on the wall
More furniture (sofas?) along the hallway to the dining area
Ceiling, lamps and cornice
Many of us commented that it took a lot of effort and funds to be able to put up this Balinese-inspired venue. It was impressive in the sense that the designer seems to have every detail covered and money did not seem to be an issue with the building interior. The only thing missing to complete the (out of country) experience was perhaps uniforms for their staff. Their staff are kind, efficient and organized but overall, I think Punta de Uian is still a work in progress and should be more impressive in the coming years. I hope they are able to maintain the facilities as more people flock to San Antonio and Pundaquit Beach. The location, after all, is a good jump off point for Capones Island (where there is a light house) and the coves located to the south and hidden by the mountains, among them Anawangin Cove.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Rained out in San Antonio, Zambales

We were at San Antonio, Zambales last May 11-12, 2012 for our office's annual planning workshop. After our sessions on Friday, we checked into our rooms to rest before getting in some swimming or wading time at the beach in the late afternoon. We weren't so lucky as there was a thunderstorm in the afternoon and it rained until sunset. To while away the time, we ended up exchanging stories and jokes under a makeshift cabana in front of our cottage. Some of us had a few drinks and snacks while also exerting quite an effort to avoid the water leaking from the thatch roof above our heads.

During the rains, there was very low visibility for the surrounding areas
We couldn't even see the mountains including Mt. Pundaquit (642m) shown here after the rains.
The following photos are a bit more dramatic as they showed the sea and the islands of Camara and Capones in the horizon as the weather changed.

Photo taken while the storm cloud were above us and pouring rain at the beach
The rain clouds passed us and headed towards Camara and Capones Islands
The weather eventually cleared just before sunset