Showing posts with label friends. Show all posts
Showing posts with label friends. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Invest in something you love - chocolates

It is said that if your job is something you love, you don't end up working a single hour of your life (or something along that line). The wife and I decided to make an investment in a business established by a close friend and it is something we do love - chocolates. Here is the link to the website:

CO Chocolat

There is also a Facebook page that documents the activities that includes educating and training farmers about growing cacao. Here are a few photos from the page:

The chocolates are now available but in Dubai where our partners are based and selling these at the weekend bazaars.
Training for cacao farmers engaged for this endeavor

Harvest of cacao

We look forwards to this business growing and helping get attention for Philippine chocolates and cacao. I like to think that this is not it competition with the established brands but more an effort combining to make this industry prosper. It is definitely something we'd love to see grow along with our daughter who's also developed a liking for chocolates. 

Happy New Year to all!
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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Looking back at Ondoy/Ketsana 2009

I started blogging back in 2008 and I was not really in to it at the time. I found writing to be somewhat cathartic for me after the floods of Ondoy/Ketsana so I wrote more frequently since then. Here's something I wrote a few days after Ondoy. We were reeling from the losses and could only wonder about the what-ifs.

Post deluge

My mind was full of ideas of what to write after going through what water resources engineering or hydraulic engineering textbooks term as a 40- or 50-year flood. From my experience (and I am a certified flood veteran) I am more inclined to say that what hit us last September 26 was actually a 25-year flood. I am basing this interpretation from the 1985 flood that inundated our village of Kasibulan in Cainta. Our whole family and all others from the subdivision had to evacuate our home when floods reached waist-deep at road level. We found safe haven in the factory across Imelda Avenue. The guards allowed us to seek refuge in the huge steel structures that housed heavy machinery no longer operating after the factory shutdown because of a labor problem. The striking workers actually assisted many families in getting to higher, safer ground that day.

Fortunately, no one from our village drowned from that 1985 flood. But it left a lot of deep scars that painfully reopened every year for the next 10 years that we were to experience flooding - not as terrible as 1985's but some comparable if you weren't used to them. A lot of memories were lost in those floods. My parents' wedding photos were lost including many of their photos before they got married. We were able to save many photos though - mostly mine and I'm afraid those were all damaged if not wiped out by typhoon Ondoy. We shared the same losses with our neighbors and made people closer in our village. In fact, we there were many of use there who studied at Lourdes Mandaluyong and one of our neighbors happened to be the high school principal at the time. Mr. Ben Dayo would always vouch for us when we claimed we had to miss classes because we had to help in cleaning our houses after the floods receded. I believe those floods have somehow influenced me as I grew up.

I wanted to believe that the floods in Town & Country wouldn't be deeper than what I had experienced in Kasibulan. I desperately wanted to believe that it could get deeper. But it did. When the clairvoyant and I bought a house there, one of the information I sought was about flood experience. Referring to the designs of the houses as well as neighbors stories, our home was supposed to be safe with the deepest flood experience in our area reaching only our gate. We were fortunate to have ample space in our second floor rooms. The clairvoyant and I were able to transfer our books and other personal properties with the help of Manang Aileen with an efficiency anyone can be proud off. Most importantly, we didn't have to abandon our home like many of our neighbors and we always had non-perishable food and drinks stocked. Many, we discovered afterwards, weren't as lucky as we were. We all lost our vehicles that day. Most cars went under overnight and emerged still parked in what everyone thought were garages that were flood-safe. But that's another story.

I was able to save my stamp collection from my parents' house in Kasibulan. Many items from an old brief case (what was my school bag when I was in high school)survived including old letters and bookmarks I had put aside as souvenirs from visits to Kamakura. These included old bookmarks from Tatay's visit to Kamakura in the 1960's.

The past days were blessings in that another super typhoon veered away from Metro Manila and still another will not hit the country. I honestly want to believe again that I won't experience another flood of that magnitude in say, 25 years (not the 40 years that would probably be much more damaging). If there was one thing I didn't want to share with the clairvoyant I guess an actual experience of such a flood would be it. But we did share the experience and we came out survivors (not victims as other people might label us) and I would rather believe that we came out better and will be stronger for this. We still have, after all, our faith.

We learned our lesson well and now live in a flood-free and better neighborhood in Antipolo. We are also glad that our daughter would not have to experience what we went through along with the floods due to the monsoon rains of 2012 and 2013.
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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Farewell to another mentor and friend - Prof. Leonardo Q. Liongson

I was a bit in disbelief when I first got a message from a close friend that another mentor, later colleague and friend, passed away. There seemed to be too many deaths the past weeks with a beloved aunt and an uncle passing away only last month. I had to check for myself about the news despite my impeccable source. 

Prof. Leonardo Q. Liongson passed away last April 5. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a few years ago and chose to live his remaining years with his capacity for wonder and discovery as if he was a much younger person. A renowned Academician, he was our teacher in hydrology. That was CE 110 to us, which was the first major course in a series of Water Resources Engineering subjects. He was a good teacher and a very serious one. We didn't get to see his lighter side until after I joined the faculty and I discovered how kind he was as well as his intelligent sense of humor. Before he retired, our institute had already submitted documents for him to recognized as Professor Emeritus. He was very much qualified for this recognition but unfortunately some people at the university did not agree. This, for us, was unusual considering the university had recognized others before whose accomplishments were definitely less.

Here are a few photos of Prof. Leony from a few years ago. Many of us like to remember him as the photographer/documenter of our activities at the institute (and previously department). He was always with his trusty cameras, which were the good model point-and-shoots.

Prof. Leony (in red) with Transportation Engineering faculty of the Institute of Civil Engineering during the ICE 2015 Christmas Party
Prof. Leony (left) with junior faculty of the ICE and Alumni Engineers at the ICE 2014 Christmas Party

I recall I've had a lot of interesting conversations with Prof. Leony. He can talk about anything under the sun. We shared an interest in trains and bridges and he was very happy to share a lot of stories and photos he collected about trains and bridges here and abroad. His wisdom from his many years teaching and researching will be missed. Paalam Prof. Leony. You made the world and the country better with your work on water resources, and we will all miss your company! You will always be a Professor Emeritus for us at ICE and the College of Engineering.
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Sunday, November 20, 2016

A tale about two good people - Part 1

I had wanted to write about a couple of experiences very early in the morning during the last day of October. I just could seem to get into the mood though and could only manage a very rough draft. There have been a lot of other stuff to do including some catching up at work where there had been many deadlines for reports as well as on my lectures. Then, of course, there is the temptation to write about the heinous burial of a despicable (to be somewhat kind in the use of the word) person. I write this as a sort of pambawi since this is about two persons who did good despite their situations.

Our helper for about 8 years whom we affectionately call Manang finally went home last October 31. She had wanted to go home last year after some difficulties with the situation about her daughter but she was able to make arrangements during her trip there and came back hopeful about that matter. Manang has a special child who is already in her teens. Most of her closest relatives including her own children didn't want anything to do with this special child. This caused a lot of pain for Manang as she grappled with trying to understand why this is so and interpreted this as her own personal challenge in life. Still, she gave her 100% to our household and was selfless in her service. She was the kind of person who will not ask for a day-off so we had to "force" her not to work on certain days. 
 
I believe her faith allowed her to keep her composure and even sanity throughout what she considered as trials in her life. She wasn't overly religious but she was very happy to be in Antipolo and be able to go to Sunday Mass at the Shrine to Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. She also mentioned to us several times that she prayed for us and we thanked her and expressed our appreciation that she included us in her prayers. We can only imagine her being so generous this way.

One of Manang's most challenging moments came early during her tenure when, in 2009, she experienced first hand the terrible floods brought about by Ondoy (Ketsana). She actually also asked us if she could go home after a few months and we only requested for her to find a replacement despite what we observed were signs of depression brought about by the floods. She recommended one of her daughters who wanted to come to Manila at the time. Inday, worked for us for many months until Manang decided to come back. The former transferred to my sister where she became yaya to my niece and nephew. She is back with us now as nanny to our daughter after a stint in Tagaytay where she worked at a store. Meanwhile, Manang has returned home after also finding her replacement. But of course, she will never have a replacement. You can never really replace a person whom we considered more as a relative, a loved one whom we've become close to. Our daughter affectionately refer to her as Nanay and Manang always had a soft spot for our daughter.

Thank you for taking care of us Manang Aileen Taipen. We wish you all good things especially with your family and specifically your daughter Cutie. We hope to see you again soon perhaps when our own daughter can already travel and maybe go to your hometown in Kabankalan, Negro Occidental.

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

BarbiQ, 2003-2016

Our mixed breed BarbiQ or Barbi as we liked to call her passed away today. She was more than 13 years old or 91+ years old in dog years. It was no surprise that her lifespan was longer than our lab Troy who was her contemporary. He was 10+years old (73 dog years) when he passed away in 2014. Barbi was a smaller breed and her being a mongrel likely made her more sturdy than Troy.

We "rescued" Barbi from the wife's parents' home where she seemed to be the odd dog among 2 dobermans and a three Japanese spitz. She was actually given to my mother-in-law by one of her students when she was still teaching. At the time we took her in sometime in 2004, she was already an adult dog and it took her a while to adjust to our place. She did get along immediately with Troy who was still a puppy. 

Barbi relaxing on a pillow at our home
Barbi survived being bumped by a car and a couple of operations on her ears. She was generally resistant to illness and only at times had a significant tick problem. That was when we were still at our first house. The past months she had become weaker and had less and less activity. She still liked her treats and would come to us whenever we called her. The last few days our helper had noticed that she seemed to have lost her appetite. This was probably a sign that she was already dying.The Clairvoyant last checked on her yesterday when Barbi refused her dinner and decided to hang around the bath at the back of our home. It was quite cold and damp the past few days because of the heavy rains so the weather also probably was a factor in her passing.

We will miss Barbi. She was a good guard dog who knew about our impending arrival home even when we were far away. She was the first to bark and had very keen senses. She also had a good feel for people so you know by her moods if a person was a dog lover or not. Rest in peace Barbi. You served us well and we are also glad that Ally got to experience your company even as you were at the twilight of your life.
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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Paalam Kuya Andy!

I first met Kuya Andy at his wedding with my first cousin Ate Judy. That was at the St. Vincent De Paul Church in Manila, which was the church of Adamson University where my cousins from my father's side graduated. The Kuya Andy I knew was a cheerful, easygoing fellow who easily made friends and apparently could charm his way through problems or obstacles that came his way. 

He was quick to warm up to his new relatives from his marriage to my cousin and we all enjoyed his company and his humor. I remember them always visiting my parents' home during Christmas Day as we had our annual family gathering in Cainta, usually with my close relatives from my mothers' side and my cousins families from my father's side. We enjoyed good food and drink, exchanged many amusing stories and experiences often with laughter, and played chess. He was a good player and we often joked about us pulling back and often ending up drawing our matches much to the disappointment of our cousins and uncles who couldn't figure who was the better player between us. 

He was also a strong drinker though not as strong as one cousin and another cousin-in-law and my uncle who were seamen. He always knew his limit and Tatay would just give him a bottle of good whiskey as pabaon. Always respectful, he always feigned shyness while accepting the bottle. Though I recall these as happy memories, I cannot but think now that perhaps he had more than enough alcohol to drink and that contributed to his illness.



Kuya Andy was only 46 when he passed away early morning of last Saturday, August 6. It was a relatively long 4-year fight with kidney disease that required him to go on dialysis until finally his body could no longer take the complications from his treatments. He was laid to rest today in his hometown of Arayat, Pampanga beside his relatives who passed before him. 

Paalam Kuya Andy! Salamat sa maliligayang mga pagsasama noon na ngayon ay mga alaalang aming sasariwain. Kung pwede lang sana tayong tumagay ng isa pa bago ang iyong paglisan...Huwag mong alalahanin ang iyong naiwang pamilya. Kami na ang bahala sa kanila. Sumalangit nawa ang iyong kaluluwa at manahan kasama ang Maykapal.
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Monday, July 25, 2016

Dama the repeat: terrific music

The Clairvoyant and I went to a concert last Saturday. We haven't been to a concert since December 2012 when we watched Sting perform live at the Araneta Coliseum. That concert was almost cancelled after Sting refused to perform at the original venue, the SM Mall of Asia Arena. This was after a group informed him of After that, we missed a few concerts we could have gone to and which we would probably watched. However, since 2012 we had our daughter Ally and we made the obvious choice of not being out late with only a few exceptions and with at least one of us staying at home to be with Ally.

This time around, as Ally's grown up a bit and we have tried going on "escapes" once in a long while. We tried to really go to this particular concert as we have tried to catch two of the artists in one of their gigs. Ebe Dancel and Johnoy Danao are our friends. We've known them since the 1990s and even had Johnoy and his then band Bridge perform at our wedding 14 years ago. Incidentally, the last local concert we attended was Ebe's when he was still with his band Sugarfree. This one was special because both were performing and a bonus was their comrade in music, Bullet Dumas. We missed the first concert as well as their gigs at Conspiracy.

Bullet Dumas, Ebe Dancel and Johnoy Danao
The concert was really good and we were not surprised by that. We were surprised though with the performance of Bullet Dumas. He was basically a beast (halimaw!) out there and belted out what we termed as "karaoke-proof" songs. Of course, we meant that in a good way. Johnoy was his usual great mellow and hearing him sing brings back good memories (he was our wedding singer). Ebe was also in a zone but we felt something about his performance that was on the personal side. You can feel his pain by the way he spoke and sang. Ebe mentioned during the last part of his solo that this concert will probably not be happening again. I would like to assume that as not happening in the near future rather than not happening at all. Meanwhile, we have their music in CDs and in our computers for us to listen to. We should be getting Bullet Dumas' music, too, as we found it both refreshing and energizing aside from being very intriguing.
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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Missing a dear dog friend

I was waiting for the Clairvoyant's arrival at the airport when I saw a couple of black Labrador Retrievers playing at the the arrival area. These were members of the airport's K-9 unit and the dogs played with their handlers during what seemed to be a few minutes of free time that they had. The airport was not as crowded as the other times I was there so there was some space for the dogs to play catch. A little girl even came up close, obviously curious at what she saw as dogs playing with a ball.

Black Labrador Retrievers and their handlers

Seeing the dogs play and interact with their handlers, I couldn't help but think about Troy, our dark chocolate Labrador Retriever who passed away in 2014. He was such a gentle creature; always playful and seemed to have not outgrown his being a puppy. He could have made a great playmate with our daughter Ally as well as our Golden Retriever Mockey. I've always told the Clairvoyant that I would like to have another Lab later. We agreed to get one once Ally's big enough to have the responsibility, too, of caring for a dog though I suspect she will pick another dog of her choice. At present, she's just too happy to play with our three dogs including our 'ancient' mix Barby who's the dog equivalent of an 80-year old.
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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Some realizations from the recent election campaigns

Writing, they say, can be cathartic. And so I write about some realizations from the run-up and aftermath of the recent elections:
  1. Many close relatives and friends do not share your politics. You will be surprised about their choices despite their being supposedly educated, experienced and, on any other day, could be logical, wise. 
  2. One should learn to move on and accept that these same relatives and friends are basically good people whom you can rely on despite your differences in political leanings.
  3. People you know can actually become quite different when online and behind what seem to them a cloak of anonymity.
  4. People who claim to be religious and who proclaim their praises to God online (and especially those can be quite inconsistent and contradictory to their so-called faiths.
  5. Scientific people can become the opposite and disregard even the most basic mathematical, statistical and scientific principles and thoughts if only to make explanations conform to their positions.
The list can go on but then I probably already covered much of the negative stuff that I just wanted to have out there. I rarely post about religion and politics on my social media accounts. And if I do, I am usually very serious about it so I would respond to those who offer the opposite or even sarcasm. Truly, respect is earned but one cannot claim it if one cannot be humble enough to accept truths especially the inconvenient and painful ones.
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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Black Saturday musings

In my younger days when we spend our Holy Week holidays in my father's hometown of Cabatuan, Iloilo, Maundy Thursdays and Good Fridays were busy days. The Mass commemorating the 'washing of the feet' was Thursday afternoon and usually extended into the evening. I think those were the longest Masses I've participated in and were generally longer than Christmas or Easter Masses that I have also experienced in Cabatuan. The part of the washing of the feet was usually held with much fanfare especially during times when there were alumni homecomings for the town's National Comprehensive High School and when there were elections in May. There was a time when the apostles included the mayor, vice mayor and councilors of the town and the parish priest seemed so deliberate in emphasizing his moral high ground in his homily and the ceremonial washing of the feet. There was a Last Supper reenactment at the town plaza after the Mass.

Good Friday's were even busier with the Stations of the Cross  in the morning that started from the town's centuries old church to their version of Mount Calvary, which is a hill located in one of the barrios not too far from the town proper. The climb up used to be a treacherous one as the steps were narrow and were carved out of the hillside. Later, when I was already in university, the steps were already improved and made of concrete. They were also wider, allowing two-way traffic without having to stop and give way to others. The Stations of the Cross started before 6 AM and usually ended before 8AM for those who followed the main entourage of the priest and participated in the prayers. The rest of the people who joined in don't really seem to be in it except for the 'barkadahan' (fellowship) part, which was all about the merriment aspect of the event rather than the spiritual part.

In the afternoon, people gathered in the town plaza to await, join or watch the Good Friday procession that also started from the church and went around the town passing through the major streets of the bayan. I remember that there used to be less than a dozen carrozas with their santos (religious images depicting scenes from the Passion of Christ) when I was a boy until the time when I was a teenager in high school. Later, there seemed to be more than 20 carrozas that comprised the very long procession. It seemed to me that the organizers of the procession, which included church officials, allowed the additional carrozas and santos from the 'emergent' families of the town who suddenly had the wealth to purchase their own santos and build their carrozas. Having your santo and carroza was a status symbol in old towns like my father's. The old and prominent families of the town owned the old santos but the younger, newer money (mainly from OFW families and those who have established themselves in the US and Europe) were accommodated for one reason or another. 

I used to go with my aunts, cousins and friends on these Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Tatay used to take advantage of our vacations to reconnect with our relatives and friends including his high school buddies. The last time I was there, I went with my aunt and cousins but my childhood friends were no longer there. Most if not all have moved our to reside elsewhere particularly as many had to find work in other places. Truly times have changed over the years and Tatay's hometown has also evolved along with its people. I just hope that the town does not lose its charm and that when I do visit I could still reminisce happy days whenever I go around.
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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Farewell to a mentor and friend - Prof. Alfredo B. Juinio, Jr.

We are deeply saddened by the passing of Prof. Alfredo B. Juinio, Jr., Freddie or Freddie Boy as his friends called him. I could never get used to calling him Freddie. By default, he was always a 'sir' to me. He was my teacher in three courses when I was a Civil Engineering student at the University of the Philippines Diliman. These were CE 151, CE 152 and CE 198. He was well-respected by us and we usually waited for him to arrive on his Toyota Corolla, looking on a the Melchor Hall driveway from the third floor. Our fond memories of him when we were students was a caricature of a professor with a cigarette on his hand and a bottle of Coca Cola on the other. The faculty room refrigerator always had a stock of Coke back in the day. And his desk was nearest the window where he had his own exhaust for his cigarette smoke.

Freddie's was the last class to give me a passing grade in my final semester at UP. I still recall approaching him to ask for a last chance to pass CE 152 as I was a borderline case after the final exam. He gave me that chance and I did my part to graduate in April 1993. After we graduated, he got married and later when I joined the faculty in 1995, he was one of the faculty members who warmly welcomed my addition to the then Department of Civil Engineering. I remember getting many tips from him and his batchmates in CE on how to go about in teaching and managing classes.

Freddie was very much part of the National Center for Transportation Studies to which I am affiliated. He was appointed as Officer-in-charge at a time when the NCTS was at a cross-roads. I became the center's Director after a period when he brought administrative stability to the NCTS. He was very instrumental in advising me and other faculty members affiliated with the Center on how to manage the affairs of the center including pointers on fiscal management.

Freddie Juinio (seated, 2nd from right) with CE colleagues at a workshop in 2011
Freddie (first from left) last attended a CE affair in December 2014 during the Christmas Party
We have not seen Freddie since he took a leave in early 2015. He was diagnosed with cancer in January 2015. I thought that he would like to be remembered as we last saw him - healthy, smiling, full of life. Farewell Freddie! Rest in peace with our Creator. You will be missed and you will be remembered as a mentor and as a friend. Thank you for sharing yourself as a teacher and as a friend.
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Saturday, November 14, 2015

Beef bowl celebrations

There's something about gyudon (thin strips of beef toppings on rice) that I associate with celebrating something with a good friend. You see, he broke the great news of his upcoming wedding to me when he visited me in Yokohama back in 1998 at a Yoshinoya near my home. Since then, I have come to link beef bowl celebrations with good news and Yoshinoya, in particular, as a place for some comfort food.

A couple of weeks ago after a seminar for his youngest son's upcoming Confirmation, I decided it was time for another beef bowl. I have not had the chance to eat at Yoshinoya for a while and there was one at a nearby mall. By myself, I thought about 17 years ago and the present and how life has changed about us. He has 2 sons both grown up now and in their teens. I have a very young daughter myself who's just starting to discover a lot of things. Life is good! And God has blessed us with our children - as well as these gyudon we enjoy to celebrate life. :)

Yoshinoya's gyudon and shiitake shumai on the side

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Saturday, September 12, 2015

Dinner out with friends

I would say that it is always a nice experience to go out for dinner with friends. It is an opportunity to enjoy good company with good food. The good company here are close friends and colleagues at our office, a research and extension center of the University of the Philippines Diliman. The good food is care of Lantaw along the SRP Highway in Cebu City. Everyone of us like to eat good food and especially the combination you will find in Filipino restaurants that include grilled food, seafood and a few bottles of beer. Of course, the best part of any dinner like this are the stories and laughter that help relieve stress at the end of the day as we all unwinded from Day 2 of the conference we are attending.

A toast before our food was arrived

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Memories of Troy

It's been a year since our beloved Labrador Retriever Troy passed away. He was a loving creature who always expressed his appreciation and love in many ways including giving us licks in the face or just being there when we come home tired from work. He was a happy dog.

Troy loved bananas

He also loved the outdoors
I just wanted to remember Troy as he deserved to be remembered. All the happy memories with Troy will not be forgotten and we have many tales to tell our little Ally about the big black dog that roamed our home with our other dog Barbie. :)

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Saturday, May 2, 2015

Ocho Seafood and Grill

The last time I was in Tacloban was the summer before that fateful typhoon season when Yolanda (International: Haiyan) laid waste to much of Tacloban, Leyte and many other towns and provinces. I had not been there since that time. I was back in Tacloban last month together with a mentor and close friend to assess transport and traffic for a proposed campus where an old one will be relocated. After work, we were treated to dinner by our host, the Dean of UP Tacloban, at Ocho Seafood and Grill, arguably the most popular restaurant in Tacloban at present. Here's a few photos from our dinner.

The restaurant beckons to passersby
Baked scallops
Grilled fish
Porbidang kangkong
Sinigang na isda
Their version of calamares
We also had shrimp and rice but I no longer took "souvenir" photos of these. It was a very good dinner that we had and left the restaurant very satisfied and already looking forward to the next time we can eat at Ocho. It was indeed a very popular restaurant both for locals and foreigners. There were many groups including families and office mates dining there and it seemed at first to be difficult to get a table (we had a reservation) but then we observed that they had a good turnover rate as people generally did not linger. So if you only have a lunch or dinner at Tacloban, make sure it will be at Ocho.
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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Happy birthday Troy!

It's our Troy's birthday today. He would have been 11 years old (77 in dog years) today instead he is spending eternity in dog heaven. Do dogs go to heaven? We believe so with this gentle, kind creature we called friend and family.


Happy birthday Troy! We know you're having a blast with Our Creator in heaven!
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Sunday, December 28, 2014

On Christmas caroling

The Christmas season isn't complete without caroling. Carolers are almost always welcome and I am referring to kids singing popular carols and Christmas songs and not the organized, fund-raising types that we turn down most of the time especially if we don't even know these people or their organizations. We do have a soft spot for kids compared to adult choirs or groups like this one from the church that we allowed into our home one evening.



I myself did my share of Christmas caroling with my friends back in the day when life was less complicated (at least for us kids at the time). People were less jaded and more generous. Well, at least, that was what most of the people in our middle class neighborhood were (Most gave us money in the range of 1 peso to 20 pesos - significant amounts back in the early to mid 1980's.). I would like to think that we did our part preparing for our almost nightly caroling by coming up with a good list of songs we could sing and practicing so that we had our lyrics right and sang in tune. We sang about 4 songs per home with mostly English carols or songs including "Silent Night," "O Holy Night," "Hark the Herald," and "Ang Pasko ay Sumapit."

These days, it's becoming rarer every year to hear kids singing complete Christmas carols or songs and we have heard some singing more contemporary yet seemingly inappropriate songs for their age (Pasko na Sinta ko? Christmas won't be the same without you? etc.). Most songs are sung without effort (no practice?) and usually are (much) shorter versions of popular carols including "Joy to the World,""Bago Sumapit ang Pasko" and "We wish you a Merry Christmas." Lyrics are often incomprehensible; revealing the carolers unfamiliarity with the songs (only the tunes). The singing also usually stops after 3 short songs or abruptly when "Patawad" or pamasko (usually money) is given. The "thank yous" to conclude the caroling are also hurriedly sang and without feeling (or sincerity).

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

"Unsung heroes" for sustainable transport in the Philippines

A "Bayanihan sa Daan" is being held today at Malacanan. It is supposed to be a recognition of sorts for organisations, local governments and individuals who have contributed or advocated for people-friendly (i.e., pedestrians and bicyclists) roads and cities in the Philippines. I am glad to see some cities that we have assisted or advised being recognised as well as organisations that we have collaborated with who are present at the event. Unlike them, we were not invited to the event nor have we been recognised by the current administration for our efforts in promoting sustainable transport. Perhaps it is because it is a given in our center's mandate and the recognition is really for those who went out of their way to initiate, promote or implement programs and projects for people-friendly transport.

There are names I could mention in our organization who have done a lot for sustainable transport in general, whose works in more than a decade have helped increase awareness on environmentally sustainable transport (EST) among national agencies and local governments and have spawned. They have conducted so many workshops, seminars and consultations with agencies like the DOTC, DPWH, DENR and MMDA, and LGUs including all Metro Manila cities and municipalities, Cebu City, Davao City, Cagayan de Oro City, Baguio City, Iloilo City and others. These were done at a time when these entities had little knowledge of sustainable transport and international agencies were uncertain about whether they should engage and who they should engage for EST and related initiatives. 

I defer from naming these responsible and progressive-minded people as I know they would prefer to remain rather anonymous but working effectively to realize sustainable transport in the Philippines. I do know they are selfless and tireless in their advocacies for sustainable transport unlike others who seem to be on-board because of the bandwagon or because it is fashionable to do so. There are those, too, who seem to be in it for the past many years but are actually only hangers-on and interested more in the funding and not in coming up with sustainable transport systems. I hope that these sustainable transport initiatives can themselves be sustained. It's one thing to be loud about your advocacies and appear as a hardcore proponent but actually ningas cogon and in it for the attention, and another to be a silent worker whose works actually formed the foundation for current initiatives and continue to work behind the scenes to effect EST in the Philippine setting.

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Transition - Troy & Mocha

It will be 4 weeks now since our beloved Labrador Retriever Troy passed away. A week before his demise, we brought home Mocha, a Golden Retriever puppy, that we had adopted in part to lessen the impact of Troy's inevitable farewell. We thought that we had to have the two dogs meet up at least in order for Troy to be able to impart some of his "wisdom" and training to Mocha. It may sound weird but we believe that dogs communicate with each other somehow. This was how Troy was able to help us train our other dog Barbi who was quite hostile when we first brought her home.

Welcome party - Troy welcomed a newly arrived Mocha
It was his custom to sniff new friends and was probably very curious about the puppy we just brought home with us.

Troy and Mocha trot along in our garden towards our lanai.

We love this photo of Troy with his tongue out and licking Mocha as she turns around to give some attention to her new friend.

Troy was friendly to everyone he met. His ready smile and affectionate nature made him popular with kids and adults, humans and canines alike. We will miss those private, everyday moments with us when he was most charming and loving towards us, his chosen family. We will always remember you, Troy.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Remembering our forever puppy

Troy will be forever with us and we will always remember him as a puppy. He simply refused to grow up and be the adult dog that he already was. Malambing is an apt but probably an understatement in as far as Troy was whenever he was with us. With the 'ber' months coming up fast, we couldn't help but reminisce past Christmases with our forever puppy. As a further tribute to Troy, following are a few more of our favourite photos of him taken during his first Christmas with us back in 2004.

Troy at 11 months always loved to hop on our sofa, often to peek out of the window whenever we drove into our garage. (December 2004)
He loved Christmas perhaps because he loved the smell and taste of the food. He knew he would always get his share of whatever it was we had. Of course, his favourites were the bread and fruits that we generously fed him on Christmas and New Year's Days.
Our Christmas dorgy all dressed up for the holidays.
Post Christmas cuddling at the sofa. He wasn't light as he had quickly grown over the 8 months that we had him. The puppy in him loved to sit on our laps despite his size. And it wasn't difficult to make him pose for a few photos. 

Wherever you are now, it will be Christmas everyday and forever enjoy being a puppy! Thanks for the happy memories of those Christmases you spent with us. You were truly a joy!
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