Friday, November 02, 2007

Hostility in my Civil Service answers

This was written as a response to one Case Study in the Civil Service Distance Learning Program. The case involves Roy, a rank-and-file employee who gets late frequently and his lates are being recorded and he is getting cited. While Mr. Sanchez, the Director of the Department also goes in late but does not get cited.

My response:

Roy is envious. He should resign and find a nearer job.

The director deserves the flexible working schedule. This is how it works in corporate management. You provide incentives to the top brains, to the top managers, to the top salesmen, so that they remain in the company and stay happy working for the company. These incentives may come as a flexible working schedule, bonuses, service cars… and they deserve it because in the long years that they have stayed in the company, they have proven that they are capable of bringing more for the company despite the expenses spent on them. Now if we expand that to a larger scale and substitute “COUNTRY” instead of “COMPANY”, we can say “The top brains, the top managers, the top salesmen, the top professionals, deserve the incentives given to them because in the long years that they have stayed in the COUNTRY, they have proven that they are capable of bringing more for the COUNTRY despite the expenses spent on them.”

Providing the same incentives for top managers and rank-and-file employees is a Communist Ideology and it does not work in this day and age. It becomes counter-productive in the long term. How? It starts when employees in a company make this very simple observation: “the lazy do not work, the diligent work hard, but yet they get the same.” If we substitute the names in this case, it becomes: “Roy does simple clerical work in the office, and comes in late. Mr. Sanchez with all the stresses of managing the department as a Director comes in late too.” Now, why would Mr. Sanchez work so hard through those long years to become top manager if he will only have the same privileges as a rank-and-file employee? This is the downfall of this Communist Ideology, of providing the same incentives to the top manager and rank-and-file employees. No motivation to work harder, no motivation to become better. No motivation to get a Doctor of Medicine Degree or a Masters in Business Administration or a Doctor of Philosophy or a Degree in Economics or a Degree in Engineering. The entire society suffers in the long-term due to the lack of motivated and brilliant professionals. Why would I study 5 years to get a Degree in Economics or Engineering or Architecture or Nursing or Physical Therapy or Education or Accounting or Banking and Finance if I only get the same privileges as the person putting folders in the cabinet? Why would I study 7 years to get a Masters in Business Administration if I only get the same privileges as the person putting folders in the cabinet? Why would I study 10 years to get a Doctor of Medicine if I only get the same privileges as the person putting folders in the cabinet? Why would I study 13 years to get a Doctor of Medicine and a Diplomate in Medicine if I only get the same privileges as the person putting folders in the cabinet? Why would I study 15 years to get a Doctor of Medicine, a Diplomate in Medicine and a Fellowship in Medicine if I only get the same privileges as the person putting folders in the cabinet?

We live in a Capitalist World and the Capitalist System predominates. Roy and other rank-and-file employees should wake up to this reality. The Capitalist System is a just and fair system, we have EQUAL RIGHTS but we have DIFFERENT PRIVILEGES. The Capitalist System is a just and fair system; it rewards the hard-worker, the motivated, and the brilliant.

Jake E. Hofileña, M.D.

Total Democracy for the Philippines?

Total Democracy for the Philippines?

The Philippines and the Filipino people is NOT READY for a TOTAL ALL-ENCOMPASSING DEMOCRACY. Instead, what the Philippines needs is a selective limited democracy. The Filipino people must learn several things prior to being able to handle and appreciate total democracy.

What I have to say may sound elitist but this is only my opinion and my argument in the subject matter. My word is not to be taken as the authoritative opinion regarding the subject matter.

It is a known fact that the majority of the Filipino people is poor, thus it follows that the majority is also poorly educated, thus it follows that the majority of the voting population is also poorly educated.

It is very dangerous to entrust the election of public officials and leaders in the hands of the poorly educated. The poorly educated are prone to making unreliable and misinformed decisions. They are also prone to bias and may also fall prey to bribery. They are incapable of distinguishing false and hollow promises from concrete plans. They are incapable of distinguishing selfish and corrupt officials from honest ones. Thus, the poorly educated have been chronically electing officials that are inappropriate for their needs and inappropriate for the general public.

It is my hope that with continued improving education, the Filipino people will make better and well-informed electoral decisions. The Filipino people already showed signs of improving decisions when president Estrada was ousted and in the succeeding general elections refrained from electing actors, actresses, newscasters and other inappropriate officials. But the Filipino people is again in danger of forgetting these painful lessons, and I think it is the obligation of the well-informed to constantly remind the poorly educated to make better decisions.

Poor education, in my opinion, is the root of the problem. One can not skip into solving a problem as complex as democracy when one has not yet solved the simpler problem of education. Educate the Filipino people, and they will naturally gravitate towards a democratic society because they will now be able to appreciate all the aspects of democracy.

These aspects of democracy are the ones that need to be taught to every Filipino, prior to granting them full democracy. Without knowledge and mastery of these aspects of democracy, granting full democracy to a poorly educated population is ANARCHY.

These aspects of democracy that I am referring to are: RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS, DISCIPLINE, and JUSTICE. When every Filipino has mastered these values and ingrained them in every fiber of their being; then and only then can the Filipino people appreciate full democracy; then and only then should the Filipino people be granted full democracy.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS is the core value and it is strongly intertwined with freedom and democracy. How? Because YOUR FREEDOM ENDS where MY RIGHTS BEGIN. When people understand this, they will respect each other’s rights. Mastery of respect for human rights means that everybody is fully aware of the rights of other people, and fully aware when a person is going beyond his freedom and already stepping on the rights of others.

The second value is DISCIPLINE. Awareness of the rights of others is not adequate, discipline reinforces respect for human rights because it means that a person will uphold in concrete action and behaviour his awareness of the rights of others. With discipline, you trust that your neighbor will equally respect your rights just as you respect his rights.

The third equally important value is JUSTICE. If in any case, a person violates the rights of others, then he is given a commensurate punishment for his action. Every person, therefore, will trust that his neighbor will not be allowed to violate his rights without punishment.

These are the core values that every Filipino must learn. Learning these values take precedence over achieving full or total democracy.

Full or total democracy means that one is free to walk the streets of your neighborhood free of worry that a person will violate your rights, because everybody is fully aware of your rights, because everybody possesses the discipline to uphold those rights, because everybody is aware of the commensurate punishment when your rights are violated.

The next step towards preparing for a total democracy is having a Code of Ethics upheld by everybody based on Mutual Respect.

In conclusion, these are the values that need to be ingrained in every Filipino in preparation for a total democracy, then the Filipino people will be prepared to appreciate their total democracy.

In a just and human society that respects human rights without external guidance, every citizen is free.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Patient Bloopers

Doc, how is my 'pro-stage'?

'pro-stage' = prostate

Sunday, September 30, 2007

24-hour Duty - Camiguin Style

Common Lines of Patients that can either lighten up your day or make a dark day even darker.

Common Line and it's intended meaning

X-tray = x-ray
undersound = ultrasound
philearth = philhealth

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Some Peculiarities in the Philippines

Some Peculiarities in the Philippines

1. The LOO VALLEY located in the Cordillera mountains in northern Philippines.
Need a shower after visiting that place?
2. The POO RIVER, which rightfully runs through the LOO VALLEY.
Need to shower again?
3. Silliman ‘Silly Man’ University in Dumaguete City.
Are you sure this is a center for education?
4. The town of LOON in Bohol.
What do you call the residents of the town of LOON? Loonies?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Travel Log: Balicasag Island

I traveled to Balicasag Island in Bohol, Philippines, during the first week of May 2007… on my own. ADVENTURE!!!

From the main city of Tagbilaran in Bohol, I took a Habal-Habal motorcycle to Bohol Museum; it will cost only 10 pesos.
There is a jeepney terminal right across the street from Bohol Museum. The jeepney will take you to the town of Panglao. The jeepney ride costs 18 pesos. It would be advisable to get down on Panglao church instead of the market center of Panglao town since it is nearer the boats/bancas. From the church, one can walk to the small dock where the boats to Balicasag Island are. The boat/banca ride to Balicasag Island costs 600 pesos one-way. It is possible to hitch with some of the boats going there for 150-200 but those boats are very infrequent.

While on Balicasag Island, I found a nice place to stay – Rosa’s Lodge… but I also like to call it Detrose Place… sounds cooler. They are renting out 1 room that costs 800 pesos per night whether you are alone or going as a group. It comfortably has room for 4 with its 2 queen-size beds. Electricity is only until 12 midnight, and it gets pretty warm without the electricity, but its not a problem since you can also opt to sleep in any of their 3 open-air huts along the beach (just bring your pillows and blanket, put on some Off Mosquito Lotion, and get comfy). Fresh water for taking a shower is limited, but understandably so, because they have to ship the freshwater from Panglao Island and that carries some costs… but it wasn’t a problem with me… I always supported water conservation and staying green and eco-friendly.

The meals cost 75-175 pesos, but the portions are usually good for 2. And they are delicious! I had squid for one meal; and fresh-grilled tuna for another… the tuna was so huge that I wasn’t able to finish it even without touching my rice. But my favorite would have to be the eggplant-vegetable dish that Ate Rosa cooked. I miss it so much… I wish every meal would be like the meals I had in Balicasag Island. And what’s a meal without conversation… Ate Rosa and Kuya Detrose are so pleasant to talk to; they kept me company the whole time that I was in Balicasag. And I even had a celebrity moment during one of my meals! After waking up in one of the open-air huts that I slept in during the night, I went back to my room to freshen-up. And when I went back out, all the open-air huts were filled with guests who rented them for the day (Php 200/day). I went out in my shorts and sunglasses (but shirtless) and carrying my sunblock… found some shade under one of the trees by the beach… and put on some sunblock. By the time I came back, Ate Rosa had prepared for me a BREAKFAST FOR A PRINCE!!! I had my own little table under the trees overlooking the beach and the sea and the 3 huts. Perfect! Soon, Kuya Detro approached me and informed me that one of their guests asked him who the celebrity is (referring to me). Hehehe!! No wonder I was getting strange stares. CooooL!!!

My primary goal in Balicasag was snorkeling… and boy did I snorkel… I snorkeled half the island. I’ve read of 5-star snorkeling and dive sites on the island and I was finally there, among them were Black Forest and its spectacular reef of black coral, Rudy’s Rock, Rico’s wall, and Turtle Point. I particularly enjoyed snorkeling along a huge length of the reef wall, it was hypnotic… you have a very nice feeling of being drawn to the blue ocean with the sparkling light that would get through from the surface. It was pretty much like the reaction of Dori in Finding Nemo. It was awesome, some parts of the reef wall were laddered; the first drop of the reef wall was followed by a much deeper drop further out. It was beautiful; I was finally able to see Gorgonian fans and large wrasses.

Balicasag Island is most likely a volcanic island. The island is surrounded by these huge rocks with embedded shells and corals that the rocks have been smoothened by centuries of waves crashing on them, they almost look like concrete slabs but I was told they were natural rock formations. Balicasag got its name from the root word casag which is local for crab. I saw numerous small crabs but only one big crab. Balicasag was also known for being a turtle nestling ground before, and that could be the reason why one of the dive sites was named Turtle Point, or perhaps it could be due to the shape of the rock formation. However, very few turtles lay their eggs on the island nowadays, due to tourist development. It is a good thing that ecological legislation is set in place in Balicasag though, a marine sanctuary has been established, it is approximately 700 meters long and boats are not allowed to drop anchor within its boundaries. National legislation protecting turtles is also strictly enforced in the little island; I was told that a Naval officer was removed from the Naval service after being caught eating turtle eggs. I also had the general sense that residents of the island are well aware of benefits of protecting the environment around them. I would still prefer though, that the whole island be made into a marine sanctuary, with only a 700-meter stretch of shore allocated for anchorage, instead of the other way around. And that corals are to be strictly banned from being taken from the sea… whether it’s inside or outside the sanctuary… because sometimes, some tourists get away with it.

I was also able to see the dolphins coming from Balicasag Island, no need to go to Pamilacan Island to be able to see the dolphins. One could hire a banca from Balicasag Island, Pamilacan Island, or Panglao Island to see the dolphins. The dolphins could be seen at around 6am in a location approximately in the middle of the 3 islands. So it was an early wake-up, some coffee and bread and off we went. The sunrise that greeted me was spectacular, and I was blessed with a perfectly calm sea to provide perfect weather for dolphin watching. And I was totally delighted when we arrived at the site after 30-45 minutes. There were hundreds of dolphins. I even saw 2 or 3 playful dolphins that would totally burst out of the water, and do 3 or 4 twists, before plunging into the water again. I screamed ‘whooohooo!!!’ at the top of my lungs when I saw those playful dolphins, and I didn’t care that there were 2 other boats with other people watching dolphins in them. After I while, I took out my mask, snorkel, and fins… ready to go in the water… but it’s not allowed… I was told by Kuya Detro that the dolphins are not accustomed to humans swimming with them so they would hit humans with their snouts. I took his word; they know more than I do. Most likely, there was an incident in the past and they learned from it. All in all, I was just delighted to see them so close. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!! I did what I came to do in Bohol. 

Dolphin watching will cost 1200 pesos (alone or as a group). Dolphin watching plus a ride back to Panglao town will cost 1600 pesos. I took this option.

The other option to get back to Panglao town from Balicasag Island is to hitch with one of the boats/bancas. For some reason, it’s easier to hitch going to Panglao town from Balicasag Island than the other way around. The boats are anchored in front of the Naval Center of the Philippine Armed Forces. The hitch will cost the person 2 litres of petrol (approx P90). This is amount the locals pay but perhaps it could cost around 150-200 for tourists.

After arriving in Panglao town, I took a walk around to see the old watchtower and church. After that, I took a habal-habal (Php 10) to Alona beach just to see it. I didn’t really like Alona beach… it’s only a short strip of beach, unlike Boracay, or Bantayan. The other beach that we went to, Dumaloan beach, is even better than Alona beach. It is longer and does not have much development. Plus, Dumaloan beach has a nice coral reef in the deeper parts and a nice reef wall that is good for snorkeling and/or diving. The coral reef and the reef wall are probably little known to most people since I did not see a single person snorkeling or diving in the area. I found Alona beach to be too developed (lots of resorts… and too much concrete for my preference), and the beach is crowded by bancas, you could hardly swim in them. I just took a walk around the beach and decided to go back to Panglao town. Another thing I didn’t like about Alona beach was the opportunistic and dishonest people. A tricycle driver and a habal-habal driver tried to cheat me by overcharging me Php 50 for a ride back to Panglao town. Hehehe! No thanx! Little did they know that I just came from Panglao town.

Traveling back to Tagbilaran, Bohol; I took a Habal-Habal motorcycle to the Panglao town market for 10 pesos, and then I took a jeepney from the Panglao market to Tagbilaran for 18 pesos.

From Tagbilaran, there are ferries (via Oceanjet) to the cities of Cebu, Dumaguete, and Dapitan if you plan to travel further. Tagbilaran-Dumaguete one-way costs 500 pesos. Tagbilaran-Cebu one-way costs just less than 600 pesos.

The ticket area in the Tagbilaran terminal is chaotic but the pre-departure area is ok. It is wise to ask around while in the ticket area, and also be prepared to assert yourself because there will be a lot of people who will try to cut in line. I yelled “Hey! Hey! Hey!” to this guy who cut in line just in front of me, and when he justified himself… he received a piece of my mind when I told him that he didn’t have the basic courtesy of waiting his turn.

In Dumaguete, I took an air-conditioned bus back to Bacolod. Always, always, always, take the air-conditioned bus because the non-airconditioned buses can get VERY overcrowded. In one bad experience, the non-airconditioned bus was overcrowded to the extent that a stranger’s ass was resting on the shoulder of one of my friends, while one of my friends had half of her body out of the window… the whole time, the 3 of us couldn’t move an inch. Another caveat, the guy in the information desk at the Ceres terminal in Dumaguete is not known for being helpful at all. He will not volunteer to give you additional information, so be prepared to pry it from him. It is most important to ask the Bus Number of the bus going to Bacolod because they could sometimes arrive early and park at the back. Local people know this so they would often get on the bus while it is still parked at the back, so it gets filled very quickly. The bus that was scheduled to leave after 12noon got filled within 5minutes upon arriving in the terminal.

I also sent parts of this as a contribution to Lonely Planet (Philippines). I hope it helps in further editions of the book.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Siquijor Island vacation reaches Top of the list.

Bumped into one of my high school teachers today and our Siquijor Island vacation came up when she told me that she was pretty sure that she saw a video of Julius on YouTube when she searched for Siquijor.

I had to confirm it… and WOW!!! When I searched for Siquijor on YouTube, our video was the most-viewed video at 5575 views. Top of the list man!!!

To add to that, our blogsites also feature highly when you search for Siquijor Blog on Google.

Are we becoming local experts on Siquijor? Oh Yeah!! So CooooooL.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Philippines finally ROARS!

In Defense of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s Team. The Philippines finally ROARS!

The Philippines grows by 6.9% in the first quarter. And it takes its rightful place among the top-10 fastest growing developing countries in the world.

Infrastructure and Energy projects planned all the way until 2013 are only going to further support this growth.

Want proof? Go to the websites of First Philippine Holdings, International Container Terminal Services, Aboitiz Equity Ventures, and PNOC.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

My Past Life

I don't know how you feel about it, but you were female in your last earthly incarnation.You were born somewhere in the territory of modern Central England around the year 975. Your profession was that of a jeweler or watch-maker.
Your brief psychological profile in your past life:
Such people are always involved with all new. You have always loved changes, especially in art, music, cooking.
The lesson that your last past life brought to your present incarnation:
The world is full of ill and lonely people. You should help those, who are less fortunate than you are.

Friday, May 18, 2007

My Letter to the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Mailed to: Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Email address:

Good day gentlemen:

I would like to report an incident that occurred several months ago. This is a bit late, but it is better than not reporting it at all.

It occurred during Ash Wednesday of this year, 21 February 2007.

I attended the Ash Wednesday Mass in the San Agustin Church in Intramuros. Before entering the church, I saw a sign that said ‘Tourists are not allowed to enter while mass is going on.’

In the middle of the mass, 6 Korean tourists who did not even bother to take off their baseball caps and visors went inside the church. As far as I’m concerned, removing a hat is required as a sign of respect when entering a place of worship, whether it’s a church in the Philippines or a temple in Korea. And there is a very visible sign in front of the church ‘Tourists are not allowed to enter while mass is going on.’

How would Koreans react if Filipino tourists went inside Korean temples without removing their baseball caps and visors?

Furthermore, the female tour guide of the tourist group soon entered the church, and explained very loudly to the tourist group. She was not even sensitive enough to observe that the people around her were already being bothered by her very loud voice.

Again, how would Koreans react if Filipino tourists went inside Korean temples and talked loudly while Koreans were worshipping inside the temple?

Lastly and most notably, the female tour guide forcefully stomped her feet numerous times on a tombstone located inside the church, while explaining to the tourist group.

Again, how would Koreans react if Filipino tour guides went to Korea and desecrated the tombstones of Koreans?

In the spirit of MUTUAL RESPECT, I would have to say that the behavior of the tour guide is unacceptable by any civilized culture and any civilized religion in the entire world. It is unacceptable behavior based on Philippine Culture, it is unacceptable behavior based on the Roman Catholic Religion, it is unacceptable behavior based on Korean Culture, it is unacceptable behavior based on the Buddhist Religion, it is unacceptable behavior based on European Cultures and Religions, Middle Eastern Cultures and Religions, Hindu Cultures and Religions, North and South American Cultures and Religions, and Asian, Australian, and African Cultures and Religions. I would just like to emphasize that her behavior is unacceptable wherever she went in the entire world.

Places of worship, whether it’s a church in the Philippines, or a mosque in the Middle East, or a temple in Korea, are the same. These places require that people show respect when entering them. And showing respect in a place of worship is the same almost everywhere in the world, like removing a baseball cap, and by being quiet. These are very basic and common sense gestures of respect.

Lastly, may I recommend that it should be the responsibility of the tour guide and the company that the tour guide works for to remind the tourist group of the proper behavior when visiting such places, even though they are common sense. If he/she can not take on such responsibility, then perhaps he/she should not be allowed to work as a tour guide, and the company that he/she works for should not be given the license to conduct the business of individual and group tours.

I hope action will be taken regarding this matter.


Dr. Jake E. Hofileña

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Landslide!!! U-Turn!!!

20 March 2007:

We left Sagada very early in the morning (first bus out of Sagada to Baguio at 5am) to catch the last bus leaving Baguio to Kabayan (famous for Philippine mummies) to make-up for lost time. I’m responsible for the lost time because of my hang-over. It was raining lightly by the time we woke up, we passed areas with rain and areas without rain. There was no rain around the area of the town of Catubo, from there it is possible to hike to Kabayan for 4-7 hours (depending on your speed and the weight of your backpack). That did not sound like a good option for me, with 2 huge backpacks. We arrived in Baguio just in time. We were able to catch the last bus to Kabayan in ‘Foto-Finish’ style. The bus line is Norton Trans, YES, it is that bus line that is famous for that bus that fell off a ravine. Unfortunately, it’s the only one going to Kabayan. They renamed it A-Liner, but it’s still the same to me. It seemed as if everything was falling into plan perfectly, we will be able to make up time by traveling straight to Kabayan. We left Baguio at 12nn, and we encountered some rain along the way but it was not the alarming downpour. Then DISASTER STRUCK! Midway from Baguio to Kabayan, the road was blocked by a landslide. I got down, at first it was cool to take fotos and videos of the 2 Volvo heavy machines clawing through the pile of soil and rock. Then it dawned on me, the landslide did not just cover the segment of the road, it took down the whole segment of that road with it. The road wasn’t there, and the 2 Volvo’s were rushing to make a new one. Impossible! It’s 3 pm, there is no way that they could make a road in 3 hours before it gets dark! And I don’t have any assurance that the road (more accurately just a path) that they were hurriedly making would be stable to support a fully-loaded bus. Then my heart started racing. Then a mini landslide hit one of the Volvo’s! The operator had to be carried by his mates. Then another mini-landslide! That was it! I decided to get off the bus with my backpacks and walk back to the nearest town. Terai agreed without hesitation. And so we walked along 2 mountainsides, under the rain, on the mud, and through the fog. We saw one vehicle going the same way as us and we hitched. We hitched a ride with the ‘blasting services’ truck. It was such a comfort to hear the squishing sound to petrol in a metal barrel right in the middle of everybody and to see sacks of explosives under my feet, under my ass, and beside me. Whew! The truck dropped us off at the nearest town of Ambuklao. We were set to stay the night, even if it meant sleeping on the floor of the town hall. But then, 2 buses passed later going back to Baguio. We took that ride. So I guess they were able to fix the road.

The following morning, after staying a night in ugly Baguio, we were hit by a sudden bout of insanity, and we both decided to go back to Kabayan, and face our landslide fears and the mummy’s curse. This time everything went smoothly. We arrived there, saw the museum and the following day saw hundreds of skulls in a small cave that was just behind one of the houses, not even 10mins from Co-op lodge where we were staying. We took more creepy pictures. We were creeped-out several times in the cave when birds would fly in and out, and you should have seen both of us on how we ducked for cover. We also met the town’s ex-mayor, Florentino Merino, and we bought his book. He built the cooperative, and was one of the discoverers of the mummies, and his grandmother was the last person to be mummified. From all those accounts, I would have to say that he almost built the town of Kabayan single-handedly, and I would have to say that he would be the best source of information in that town.

And that’s the full story. That’s how I was able to get back to Manila in one piece. :-)

Monday, March 19, 2007


19 March 2007: Easy day. Had breakfast in my favorite place... Café St. Joe, native Arabica coffee as usual. After that Terai and I set out to Echo Valley. We saw the hanging coffins along the way. And in true geo-idiot manner, we got lost. It was a good thing though, coz by getting lost, we actually stumbled across Latang and Matangkib caves and the Underground River while locating the trail that led to the road. We ended the hike at 12nn and had lunch at Café St. Joe. After that, a little hike up to Calvary Hill then we had some dessert (yoghurt) at Yoghurt House. It was there that I realized that I’m not a yoghurt person. Then we did some shopping. I got some miniature coffins and a walking stick.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

St. Patrick's Day in Sagada

17 march 2007: 17 march 2007: Terai and I decided to do a cave connection. While hiring a guide, we met Barry Dillon from Ireland who decided to go with us.
It was awesome; we went in one cave and went out another cave. There were awesome rock formations, we had to climb up some rock formations, sometimes rappel down using a rope, sometimes squeeze through tiny crevices, wade through ice cold water, sometimes slide down some rocks uncontrollably on our asses, and sometimes bump our head on the rocks. It was so much fun!!

We also found out from Barry that it was St. Patrick’s Day. So in true St. Patrick’s Day spirit, we celebrated it by drinking at St. Joseph’s Inn. There was beer, persimmon wine, blueberry wine (my fave), and strawberry wine, and we were drinking it around a bonfire. In true St. Patrick’s Day spirit too, I got totally drunk. Terai informed me that I headed to a wrong lodge, I only have vague memories of that part, but I remember one guy pointing me to the right direction. But I have totally no memory of how I climbed up our lodge and got into bed. Terai just informed me the following day that when I was looking for the key, I just dumped all the contents of the backpack on the floor.

When I woke up the following day (2:30 pm), I had a terrible hangover. I also saw that the blueberries that I bought from the local market were all over the place, they were on the chair, on my shirt, on my pants, and all over the floor. Hehehe!

I went back to St. Joseph’s Inn when I felt better. I got coffee and soup. I met Jose (from Madrid) while eating. Terai was long gone when I was doing this; I suspected she went to the Echo Valley on her own because that was what we set out to do on that day. It turned out she met this girl from the Peace Corps and they both volunteered to help the local community by helping out segregate trash.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Batad and Cambulo

i'm currently in the mountains of Luzon with Terai. its the end of the first part, i have been to the towns of Batad and Cambulo. and i have literally climbed mountains to get there. i stayed in Batad for 2 days and my room has an awesome view of the UNESCO-protected rice terraces. among all the rice terraces (in Banaue, Cambulo, and Batad), i would have to say that the Batad rice terraces were the best (Banaue would be the worst). Terai and I also hiked to the next village (Cambulo), it took us 2.5 to 3 hours to get to the next village, and we literally climbed 4 mountain-sides to get there. there were also rice terraces there but they were not as beautiful as the one in Batad.

well, i'm in Sagada right now for the 2nd part of my mountain vacation. next to see would be the hanging coffins, the caves, and the underground river.

San Sebastian Church

Basilica Minor de San Sebastian

It is a jewel in the heart of Manila. It is designed by no less than Alvaro Palacios and Gustav Eiffel (Yes. Gustav Eiffel designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and the Statue of Liberty in USA).

More to follow...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Complete The Triad

Eiffel Tower (France)...__________(Philippines)...Statue of Liberty (USA)

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Day After

Six out of twelve exams are now over. The first day was ok. Only 1 of 3 subjects was difficult.. microbiology/parasitology. It gave me some confidence and an idea on the kind of exam I will be taking.

The 2nd day was a bloodbath. Two out of 3 subjects were difficult. Physiology and pathology were bloody difficult. but I was happy that legal medicine/medical jurisprudence was ok… because it is a very technical subject. I was so fatigued after the 1st day of exams that I wasn’t able to re-read the subjects for the 2nd day.. but I should have.

Well, it’s a matter of statistics now… whether I pass or not.

Arriving from 2nd exam, I wanted to find out the correct answers to the questions because they are often asked again in the other subjects. But it was giving me frustrations and more fatigue, so I just slept… I think I slept for more that 10hours. So today, I feel refreshed, ready to look for those answers. And more studying.

There was a one nice thing about the 2nd day of the exams though. While going home, I stumbled upon this church, it didn’t look much from the outside because it was painted with an appaling pale blue and white. It looked more like a cake than a church. But the gothic-inspired spires were unmistakable. And when I went in, I was amazed. The vaulted ceiling, the columns, the painted dome, the murals, and the stained glass windows were unmistakably original Spanish-era. The altar pieces were also original but they did a horrible paint job. My suspicions were confirmed when I saw tombstones lining the side of the church dating back to 1870. I was so amazed that I was straining my neck looking at them. The other people might have found it strange that I was so amazed by the old church. It’s quite a pity that few people show appreciation for such old architecture… when in fact they should. The name of the church is the church of San Sebastian.

I didn’t find it the church in the Jens Peters Guide to the Philippines, I will also check with Lonely Planet Philippines, if it’s not there, I plan to submit it as an entry.

Pre Board Exam Tension

The day prior to the board exams was just horrible. i had really bad palpitations, and i was so nervous. but it was not something i couldn't handle. i jogged until my heart and my side hurts and i was out of breath. and i took an anxiolytic pill after.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

World Pyro Olympics, January 2007

I watched it during 4 of the 5 event dates.

Saw the shows of the following countries:

Australia: First day of the World Pyro Olympics. I decided spontaneously to go watch 1.5 hours prior to the start of the show. Emma went along after just one invite. Parts of the show was obscured by trees and some buildings coz we were just making our way through Edsa extension when it started.

Poland: Allegedly used 3 barges for their fireworks, most countries used only 1, can't confirm though coz i found some parts of show to be low on energy. I was pushed, elbowed, stepped-on, cursed at, by zergs outside the general viewing area. Lost my temper and yelled "We are not obliged to excuse you bitch!" to this woman to was demanding that we excuse her just because a 10-yr old prepubescent was with her. Why would you bring a 10-yr old prepubescent to a situation that can potentially turn into a stampede? And demand that people part like the red sea just because you are with a 10yr old prepubescent. Brain has aparently shrunk because it hasn't been used for a while.

USA: Second day. Left earlier but still found myself outside the general viewing area with the zergs. Well-sustained energy throughout the show, impressed because they were always firing 3 at a time, little did i know at that point that it will be greatly surpassed.

Spain: Some lull moments, i found their fireworks combinations to be quite artistic, that this firework has to come only with this, and only at this time.

United Kingdom: Not a dull moment, lots of unique tricks, including 2 sequences where they bounced the fireworks on the water surface, precise fireworks, the circles were very well formed, lots of energy too, even surpassed the USA because they were firing 4 to 6 everytime, clearly used 2 barges. i liked their routine best, coincidentally, they're also the team that won 1st place. This was the first of 2 days when i was able to see the fireworks literally bayside, 3rd day watching the fireworks. Special thanx to Herald who gave me one of the best spots by the bay to appreciate the fireworks. Didn't go with friends but made new friends in the process.

Germany: Super energy from start to finish, left almost everybody breathless, firing 5 at a time, and with typical German precision in formation and location. I would rate this as 2nd place.

Denmark: Second day that i saw the fireworks literally bayside, 4th day watching the fireworks. Low energy routine. Saw it with Terai.

Canada: High energy fireworks, no unique tricks though.

Watch out for fotos.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

3 Cheeses and Pesto Pizza for New Year

Terai, Annie and I decided to meet again on 30 December for a Christmas and New Year Dinner. We had planned to eat at Persiana at 36 Polaris Street. Annie was driving around Makati for several minutes under the navigational skills of Terai. But this was no ordinary evening to drive around Makati coz a lot of the roads were closed for the New Year Celebration the following day. But finally, we were able to locate Polaris Street… and then again after several minutes of trying to find the resto, I decided to look for it by walking and asking around. Voila! The restaurant no longer exists; it has been replaced by Alba!.. a beer house! It was a pleasant surprise though, coz it may serve the nice Belgian cherry beer that I like, and I saw the logo on the front door of Alba. We decided to go to another resto, Soul Food at Greenbelt 3. We ordered quesadillas, and 3 cheese and pesto pizza. BIG MISTAKE!!! It was served to us by a tall and beautiful waitress, but she served us a gray-green pizza with strands of yellow scattered all over. It looked totally disgusting! And the 3 of us had the same reaction and it was done simultaneously and without censorship. Firstly, our jaws dropped. Secondly, a moment of silence. Third and lastly, as if on cue, loud boisterous laughter filling the entire restaurant, with the tall and beautiful waitress still standing beside our table, looking dumb-founded. Well, another restaurant added to our list. But to be fair, the pizza tasted good, just good, not spectacular, perhaps a 6/10. The Quattro formaggio pizza at Amici di Don Bosco tasted so much better, I’d give it a 9/10.

Christmas Walkathon

Terai and I decided to meet on 23 December to go around. While traveling, I got stuck in E. Rodriguez Avenue. Major ‘I am a flower moment!’ The person beside me was with her pre-adolescent bonging-type child who was dripping her food all over my arm. The mother, on the other hand, was occupying more than her fair share of the space, thereby squishing me. And the traffic was horrendous! I spent 2 hours stuck in traffic, when normally I’d spend only 15 minutes traveling that route. In effect, Terai arrived in Makati even before I did, despite warning me that she would be late. In Makati, I got lost looking for Gloria jeans coffee. But finally, I was able to meet Terai; I was 30 minutes late despite leaving earlier than Terai. From the moment we met at Gloria jeans, we spent the rest of the time walking and occasionally eating. We ordered Quattro formaggio at Amici di Don Bosco. Super!