Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Other notables for 2016

I forgot to mention two other persons in the previous post on the upcoming Philippine presidential elections in May 2016. One is a candidate for vice president and another a pakipot for the presidential race. The first is a senator, whose claim to fame is supposedly his penchant for exposes and investigations of anomalies in government, all supposedly in aid of legislation. Others have observed that this is good work for someone who has little credential at all prior to running for a senate seat. He supposedly won on the strength of his father's name. Talk about someone having something in common with many of the other candidates and even the incumbent chief executive of the Philippine government. They are their parents' children, which speaks a lot about Philippine politics and the grooming of leaders from the same gene pool. Indeed, this candidate's family is at the early stages of establishing their own dynasty in a city that has two faces - a modern face in what is among the fastest growing CBDs in the country and a backward face in what is a congested and somewhat blighted old town. This candidate currently has no partner and is said to be trying hard in his courtship of the pakipot candidate.

The pakipot candidate is a current mayor of a major Philippine city in the south. He is well known for what is allegedly a death squad that is under him. Supposedly he is a no nonsense person but then a closer look at a phase in his political career, a time when he was congressman, shows that he is not at all what it seems. Many seem to be enamored or amused of his reputation, and perhaps due to the failures of past administrations and the current in curbing criminality as well as the indecision of our leaders, many clamor for his style of leadership. He is pakipot because you know that he covets the presidency and yet wants assurances from his supporters and various sectors that he will have solid support and not just become an also-ran in the 2016 elections. He has said several times that he is not seeking the presidency in 2016. This, despite all the loud campaigning among his supporters for him to run. It seems that many of these supporters have the idea that under him, the country can have a federalist government and that such a transformation will solve the country's woes. I believe such is quite far from the truth but my explanation deserves another article in the future. Meanwhile, pakipot has kept his cards close to him and few if any know whether he will eventually run for the top post this coming May.


Monday, October 26, 2015

The 2016 circus has began

I usually refrain from writing about politics or posting something about it especially on social media. However, the times when you can't just help commenting on articles or posts pertaining to the current political atmosphere in the Philippines seem to be increasing. Fortunately, I have good self control as I am also aware of the sensitivity of some people, many of whom are friends, when it comes to politics and the state of the nation. However, I do have some thoughts about the declared candidates for president and vice president, which I will share here.

The current crop of candidates for the presidency and vice presidency of the Philippines is not as exciting or interesting as previous elections. One candidate was supposed to have been the standard bearer of his party in 2010 but ended up giving way to the current president and eventually losing to the incumbent vice president who is also running for the presidency. While the latter is saddled with so much heavy baggage from allegations of corruption, the other candidate is saddled with allegations of ineptness. It doesn't help that the same candidate is part of the elite, the oligarchs who have influenced the country for a very long time and who have been accused at many times of pursuing their interests first before the country's. 

The elite candidate has as running mate a widow of a popular mayor turned local government secretary. She has been thrust into the limelight to bring legitimacy to a platform of reform and straight path despite her being a bit green in politics. Though attractive to many who are seeking good governance, there are questions if she is 'winnable' compared to her rivals for the vice presidency. One of those rivals is a former leader of coups against the government who seems to have mellowed down over the years but represents military adventurism in the country. He is also one who seems to have been napilitan lang tumakbo (forced to run by circumstances) as many possible partners have distanced themselves from the current VP.

Then there is one who fashions herself as a fresh personality but is not without controversy considering her becoming a citizen of another country in the past. Add to this allegations about her nationality stemming from her being a foundling who was adopted by showbiz royalty. She is being tagged as a puppet of her running mate, who is skillful and wily enough to be believable in concocting something to that effect. This vice presidential candidate was supposed to have been among the architects of the vice presidential defeat in 2010 of the presidential candidate due to the support given to the incumbent VP by this senator.

Last among the presidential candidates is a person who could have won the presidency back in 1992 when she first ran for the highest government post in the country. She didn't have the political machinery back then but it was she who captured the imagination of the youth back then. Her defeat probably was due to the first instances of dagdag-bawas before this was 'perfected' by a slew of candidates who have been branded as trapo (traditional politicians = corrupt politicians). Then as now, this candidate has been alleged to be brenda (brain damaged), an allusion to insanity. But then you have to be insane to run for president of this country and try to solve its myriad problems, right?

What is most interesting about her now is not her but her running mate. In 1992, she partnered with the son of arguably the most loved (if not the best) president we ever had - Ramon Magsaysay. Today, she is running with the son of arguably the most vile (if not the worst - depending on what angle you are looking at) president we ever had - Ferdinand Marcos. Questions abound of the complicity, the awareness of the son in the sins of his father and the rest of his family and their associates. And many of these are legitimate making his candidacy and the prospect of him becoming president (yes, there is such a possibility) is unpalatable to many.

These are the presidential and vice presidential candidates we have now in the Philippines and God help the electorate choose who among them will be leading the country for the next six years from 2016. Hopefully, we do get to vote wisely and have leaders who would be wise and decisive in transforming this country into a progressive and equitable state.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Jo Chef's Contemporary Fun Dining, Tiendesitas

We were back at Tiendesitas after a long time. We had only usually passed by the area as a shortcut between Julia Vargas and Ortigas Avenue. This time, we decided to stop by to have lunch after a medical appointment at the nearby Medical City, and also check out what's changed about the place. 

We had lunch at JoChef's, which is located at the ground floor of Tiendesitas' south wing (the one close to SM Hypermarket) and beside Tom Sawyer's chicken. It had a simple menu, which we preferred so as not to have to have so many items to choose from. We had pasta and fish and chips and iced tea for drinks.

JoChef's is at the ground floor of Tiendesitas
Fish and chips

We thought the food was okay though nothing really special. It was okay for occasional quick, light meals (hindi pang-araw-araw) but if you want the heavier and more savoury foods then the food court is for you. Price-wise, our bill was reasonable for the servings and food quality.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Tsamporado - chocolate porridge

Last Sunday, I decided to cook some tsamporado or chocolate porridge so our daughter could taste a classic breakfast that seemed apt for the stormy weather we were experiencing then. Antonio Pueo's Double Chocolate Champorado is probably the best instant chocolate porridge available in the market. There are others but they are not the same quality particularly when it come to the chocolate.

Instructions and nutrition facts
A pack of glutinous rice and unsweetened chocolate (the box contains 2 packs)
5 cups of water is added and mixed with the other ingredients from the pack
Medium setting to boil and then low fire for 18 minutes
The finished product, which requires some milk, preferably condensed, as a sweetener and to lighten up the rich chocolate taste of the porridge

My daughter and I enjoyed the chocolate porridge breakfast though I must admit that I enjoyed it more than her. Of course, the best champorado would be the ones made out of scratch with rice (preferably the sticky variety) and tableyas (cacao blocks or chunks). Also, champorado is perfect with dried or smoked fish (which our daughter likes). Only, we didn't have dried fish so I we had to make do with just champorado.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Kafe Paradiso, Mabitac, Laguna

Our road trip to Lucena in the Province of Quezon, we passed by many of the eastern towns of Rizal and Laguna. We noticed a lot of improvements in all the towns - a clear sign of progress. The last time I traveled along these roads was in September 2009 when I went to Naga City to be guest speaker at a student conference hosted by the Ateneo de Naga University. That time, it was quite rainy all throughout our drive to Naga and the trip back. There are noticeable changes (on the positive side) including residential developments with some that appear to be packaged as vacation or retirement homes. There are, of course, the usual commercial developments but we were on the lookout for eating places along our route so that we could probably stop by one of them on the way back. We drove early to Lucena so many establishments aside from the usual roadside eateries were still closed.

One of those that caught our interest is a restaurant in Mabitac, Laguna near the border of Rizal and Laguna with Kafe Paradiso is right at the entrance to what looks like a leisure farms type of residential development. They have a good menu though we didn't inquire if all the items were available. We also learned that only the development's and restaurant's owners had built a house there so far, which was also near the highway and across from the cafe along the main road of the development.

Kafe Paradiso is located along the national highway in Mabitac, Laguna
Empty tables of what we imagine to be what could be an attractive stop for people traveling to Laguna, Quezon and the Bicol Region via the Rizal route east of Metro Manila.
The cafe has a spacious interior that adheres to Philippine/Asian architecture and interiors
The owners' home across from the cafe looks to be a good design for a vacation home. The location of the development is quite far from the city and any major commercial area including the Mabitac and Pililla town centers, which could be the work places for people opting to locate here.
Japanese-inspired lanterns hang in the trees around the cafe
Kafe Paradiso's menu
Entrance to the cafe
A closer view of the facade of the cafe

It was about 4PM when we made a stopover at the cafe. We decided to have a heavy enough meal and opted to order from their all-day breakfast list thinking we can't go wrong with the classic silogs listed. I totally forgot to take a photo of one of the best tapsilogs I've tasted. It was probably due to us already being hungry. We hope to be back one day perhaps again on the way to Lucena where we likely would have a project soon. Of course, we will also be checking out other places to eat so we could enjoy the food in these towns of Rizal and Laguna.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Roadside views of the Pillila Wind Farm

A highlight of our recent road trip to and from Lucena, Quezon via the Rizal - Laguna - Quezon route is the impressive roadside views of the new Pillila Wind Farm. The array consists of 27 turbines, more than the number in Bangui, Ilocos Norte. Following are a few photos of the turbines of the farm which has a total capacity of 5.2 Megawatts.

There are two access points from the national highway to the wind farm. Via these access roads, one can get near the wind turbines to get photos including 'selfies' with the turbines as background, just like those trending photos taken at the Bangui Wind Farm.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Last impressions?

Many of us are familiar with the saying "First impressions last." This pertains to how we regard our first look or experience of something or someplace, or our first meeting with someone. Such first impressions give us a feel of whether something will go well or if someone is worth the acquaintance. This concept extends to place like airports, which are regarded as gateways to countries or cities. International airports provide a first impression for a country among foreign visitors, which is why such gateways need to be among the best infrastructure in a country.

There seems to be not so many references about last impressions. However, I believe these are also important. This belief comes from another saying, which I first heard from one of our English teachers in high school. Our freshman English teacher shared with us that "you are only as good as your last performance." I think she was encouraging us to do our best or be at our best every time. Later, I would have experiences that make me remember this saying. How many times have we done our best, foul up one time, and then basically be remembered for that fumble? It will take another good performance to recover, at least partly, from that debacle. In some cases, it takes long before memories of that one time is forgotten or recalled lightly. Do your best every time and be careful not to lower your guard against mediocrity and stupidity. Such carelessness may lead to something you don't want yourself to be involved in and remembered for.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Counter-flow along Ortigas Avenue

Here are some more recent photos of the morning traffic congestion and counter-flow scheme along Ortigas Avenue. The counterflow scheme starts at the approach to the Manggahan Channel Bridge and ends at the approach to C-5 right after the Rosario Bridge. This counter-flow scheme has been used by Pasig, as far as I can remember, since the early 1980s. Ortigas Avenue is one of those roads where the directional distribution of traffic very pronounced for the peak direction.

2015-09-18 08.45.31
Vehicles crowding towards the counter-flow lane on the eastbound side of Ortigas Avenue.
Traffic along this lane is moving, unlike the standstill you will likely experience along the westbound side. This is particularly true at the bridge where buses and jeepneys occupy two lanes and stop for long periods to get passengers. Congestion is exacerbated by vehicles coming out of the residential development in the area. Pasig and MMDA traffic enforcers fail miserably at their duties here. Perhaps this is a job for the PNP-HPG?

2015-09-18 08.54.05
Flowing traffic along the counter-flow lane - note the standstill on the other side
The effort of positioning towards the counter-flow lane is worth it as traffic moves faster here. The argument for counter-flow lanes (or zipper lanes as they are also called) is based on the availability of capacity along traffic lanes of the opposing direction that can be used to optimize utility of these unused lanes (i.e., off-peak direction) by peak traffic. This is a classic transport systems management scheme directed towards efficient and optimum use of existing facilities.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Thank you, anyone?

I have another blog that deals mainly with work-related stuff. I write about research topics, technical matters and issues pertaining to my chosen field. Often, I also post my opinions about policies, schemes, projects or programs - practically anything under the sun. Many of my articles have photos and even citations or links to other sources. I believe such material enriches the discussions in my posts and allows me to direct readers to other material that could help them understand concepts or issues.

I have little, if any, hesitation in replying to comments to articles I've written. This includes replies to inquiries about my identity. While most 'researchers' probably just copy and paste material from my work (plagiarism being so easy and difficult to catch especially for material from online sources) there are those who are decent enough to cite the blog as reference. Those who are more honest with their work and aware of the requirements for formal citations need my identity for their work (probably their thesis or dissertation based on what they told me in their comment/inquiry). 

So from time to time, someone writes to me to ask about my identity so they can cite my article properly. I obliged by replying to them through email, even thanking them for their interest in doing research in my field. Unfortunately, I have not received any thanks from them after I had replied and assuming that they did use the materials from my articles as references in their works. Not that I cared so much about their expression of gratitude but then I think it is the right thing to do. That is, to say thank you to people you asked help from. Kaso, hindi na nga yata uso ang pagsambit ng salamat ngayon.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Greek yogurt by BTIC

Among the things I missed from our old neighborhood are the stuff we could get from a store specializing in Greek products. It was owned by a couple residing in the village where we resided before. The husband is Greek and the wife is Filipina. Their business was as supplier of Greek and other Mediterranean products to hotels and restaurants in Metro Manila. Among my favorites was the home made Greek yogurt that was available at their store but they didn't make much and sometimes you couldn't get any because of the demand for it among the other residents of the subdivision who had discovered this really great treat. 

Every now and again, I fancy Greek yogurt and have purchased a small cup whenever I found it at supermarket or grocery store. As I browsed the supermarket shelf near our home, I spotted the yogurt section beside the Yakult stack of which I usually picked a couple of packs (I love Yakult.). I decided to get a 350g container of Greek yogurt made by BTIC. We enjoyed BTIC's frozen yogurt before so I thought this was a safe buy.

Greek yogurt by BTIC (Better than ice cream)
The yogurt was firm and packaged in a container that I thought was just right for a few days in the refrigerator.
I thought the texture was just right.
I also thought the taste was good enough compared to the yogurt we bought in our former neighborhood. I ended up eating most of the yogurt as the wife felt it tasted more like cream cheese. It was a bit on the sour side so I decided to add some wild honey that we usually had in stock in the pantry. That turned out quite well. I would probably get this in the supermarket or maybe try the other Greek yogurts available so I can do some further comparisons.