Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Born to be wild


They gallop and trot, whinny and neigh, capturing our imagination---and our hearts. Indeed, horses are said to have done more to change human history than any other domestic animal, once upon a time carrying explorers to new frontiers and mighty armies to great conquests.

Watching Howie Severino in last night’s episode of i-Witness on his quest for the wild horses in Sagada made me sit up and pay attention. My visit to Sagada a couple of years ago was one of most interesting trips I’ve made. I didn’t see any wild horses there though. When our guide mentioned wild horses roaming a remote valley in Sagada, I imagined it’s some kind of mountain legend born one night after a traveler smoked too much jutes. But true enough, there are wild horses in Sagada, running free on grassy plateaus the locals call Marlboro Country. Howie Severino documented the encounter and it was aired last night. It’s so wonderful that there’s enough open space in Sagada for the untamed to safely roam.

Sadly, the wild horses of Sagada have dwindled from more than a dozen in recent years to five. Hunting by humans and climate changes are possibly to blame. Aside from their meat, wild horses are also captured and trained for horse fights. Although horse fighting has been outlawed, there are rumors that this brutal and bloody sport is on going in some parts of Mindanao. Horse fight is showcased in Samal’s Pangapog Festival, called Patanam sa Kuda, one of the island's indigenous sports. A gathering of Bagobos, Manobos and other highland tribes is celebrated in Kalibongan Festival in Kidapawan, and highlighted by an appalling spectacle of horses kicking each other to death. The stallions are trained to kick and bite each other as they battle over a mare. And up to 100 horses die every year from this traditional-turned-money-driven sport.

Stampede from http://www.allposters.com/

The horse in the top photo is Ginger, my boss’ daughter’s pet. Ginger roams a farm in Rizal and tied only when there are visitors. She was a bit spooked when I took her photos. I grew up with a great trepidation around horses…being warned every time that they kick people to death. But I always admire this graceful and magnificent creature. As one horse owner in Baguio told me, no horsepower motor has anywhere near the personality of a real horse. I celebrated a milestone 2 years ago by riding a horse for the first time!

The horse has long been a symbol of freedom. I’m a sucker for those Marlboro ads---where horses and cowboys keep each other company. I love the solitude of places where wild horses freely roam. There is something mystical and romantic about the image of wild horses, inspiring poets and painters. As Howie Severino wrote, wild horses symbolize whatever true freedom remains in a world where everything now seems to be tethered to each other.

Smoking is definitely harmful to our health.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Musings of a future Belo patient

I ran into a former officemate at the mall last weekend with her older sister. We’re of the same age, she has a 14-year old daughter, and she looks fabulous! Her sister, a few years older, has clear taut skin, no excess fat in her fit and tight body. Their genes make me feel inferior!

Way back, she was the first person I know who brings fresh vegetable salads to work for lunch, and snacked on fresh fruits. She would scold me after my yosi breaks, complained that I smell like an ashtray, and with a well-meaning lecture to kick my dirty habit (I finally did almost 5 years ago). They’re a family of health-nuts---no saturated fat, salt and preservatives, just green, leafy crap that I hated. She and her sister are effortlessly gorgeous women with a radiant healthy glow about them.

My genes descend from a long line of meat-loving, soda-chugging folk, whose idea of exercise is brisk-walking to the street corner for some deep-fried banana-Q, with ice-cold Coke as pantulak.

Somebody told me that I still have some sex-appeal (promise…I didn’t invent that one!:D), but decades from now---when the baggy layers under my chin meet my chest, when my tummy is as big as my boobs, the under side of my arms develop bat-wings that would cover my elbows, and I’m scraping my fat butt from a rocking chair---my old officemate would probably look like a batch-mate of my 30-year old cousin.

Will timeless charm and enviable wit be enough to comfort me by that time? Not likely!

So ladies (and gents na rin), before you light that cigarette, chug on a can of soda, bite into that juicy cheese burger, or chew on that french fries, you should do a mental age morph of yourself. On second thought, go ahead---I'll see you in Vicky Belo's waiting room soon!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Summer rain

I've been praying for rain, and my wish was granted! It rained on my way to work this morning...oh, how beautiful to see the rainfall and remember how it felt to dance in the rain. Rain that rinses the grasshoppers' wings, leave crystal drops on a spider's web, and would possibly bring back the dragonflies to my mother's garden. I hum to an oratorio inside my head---I don't know why, but it's Handel's Messiah; rest my cheek on the glass window feeling the water trickle down, kissing the base of my neck. I'm not letting my hopes dry along with summer.

Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby. ~ Langston Hughes

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A poem in macro

I caught a wandering petal
Floating on a dreamy hush
Of a soft, still morning
The sunshine slants
To caress the tender, gypsy soul
As it glides across
A haze of green and gold
Landing gently
Without making a ripple
On a dewy blade of grass
In drops o
f poignant,
Wistful tears.

@ luna 4.24.2008

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A global warning

Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth was aired on HBO last night, to coincide with Earth Day, I suppose. The documentary is a global warning about global warming. Very scary and very real. The awesome glaciers are melting, seas are getting warmer, storms have become more powerful, wildlife is immigrating to new habitats, species are driven to extinction, bush fires are everywhere, and diseases are evolving. The footage where a panicked polar bear was trying to hold on to a melting ice is heart-breaking. Imagine a drowned polar bear!
And I couldn’t shake off the image in my head of a fleet of boats beached on sand that used to be a river. The pictures of drying rivers and lakes, rising oceans are terrifying. Even a partial melting of Greenland's ice sheet would cause a one-meter rise in sea levels which would submerge low-lying islands, cities, countries even.

But Greenland, the North Pole, the Alps, or Siberia are so far away from here---it's almost inconceivable that what happens on the other side of the planet could affect us. So here's one that is closer to home: the shoreline at my mother’s hometown in Negros has been retreating for years. The beach that used to be our playground in the 70’s is now a stretch of cement with a 10-foot concrete sea-wall. In another coastal town near my grandfather’s house, the barangay road and houses near the beach are gone and it’s now a shoreline. The wet land where our neighbors used to grow kangkong (swamp cabbage), where my brothers and the other boys fished native catfish (hito), is now an arid piece of land. Even the small stream in my grandfather's property has dried up. I was surprised to learn during my vacation last month that the huge Chico tree in my mother's backyard was no longer there…the leaves turned brown and fell one by one, what was left of the tree are its brittle branches and dead trunk. It was due to the heat, an uncle told me. The tree shaded a bamboo bench where we hang out during hot summer afternoons, eating halo-halo.

The threat to every inhabitant of this planet is very real. We are causing global warming and the effects are devastating. And don’t say that we can only pray because there is something for every one to do---small things, big things. From managing our garbage to searching for alternative energy sources.

When you pray, move your feet.
~ An old African proverb

Simple things we can do to help stop global warming:

Change a light
Replacing one regular light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb will save 150 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

Drive less
Walk, bike, carpool or take mass transit more often. You’ll save one pound of carbon dioxide for every mile you don’t drive!

Recycle more
You can save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide per year by recycling just half of your household waste.

Check your tires
Keeping your tires inflated properly can improve gas mileage by more than 3%. Every gallon of gasoline saved keeps 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere!

Use less hot water
It takes a lot of energy to heat water. Use less hot water by installing a low flow showerhead (350 pounds of CO2 saved per year) and washing your clothes in cold or warm water (500 pounds saved per year).

Avoid products with a lot of packaging
You can save 1,200 pounds of carbon dioxide if you cut down your garbage by 10%.

Plant a tree
A single tree will absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime.

Turn off electronic devices
Simply turning off your TV, DVD player, stereo, and computer when you’re not using them will save you thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

Source: http://www.climatecrisis.net/takeaction/

Let’s do our share in healing our planet, our only home. It’s a small way of giving thanks to the Creator who "granted us dominion over all things."

Do you not see that God has subjected to your use all things in the heavens and on earth, and has made His bounties flow to you in exceeding measure, both seen and unseen?
~ Qur'an 31.20

And God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth."

~ Bible, Genesis 1.28

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Let it rain!

Cibo's ripe mango shake and panacota garnished with mango
The summer heat is wearing me down. I visited a factory this morning and the whole place felt like an oven. Even with huge industrial fans all over the place, the heat was making everybody drowsy. When I came out of the building, the sun blinded me as I ran to the parking lot…sweating and panting; toasted and parched…I could only wish for the summer to be over! And driving in the middle of the day drives me crazy! I long for a jug of iced cold water. Or make it a pitcher of ripe mango shake!

I’m one of those people who hate to use an umbrella. I’d rather roast under the merciless noon-day sun than walk under an umbrella. But with the current temperature of 35 to 37 degrees Celsius, I began to use an umbrella and sun-block cream and lotion for my face and arms. I hate the sticky feel of sunscreens but it’s the most convenient protection we got from the sun’s UV rays. Thanks to a dermatologist who reminded me that I’m not getting any younger and the sun is unforgiving to the not-so-young skin.

I like my brown skin and I'm not afraid of being exposed to the sun, or getting darker during summertime. But gone were the days when I slept on the beach without a sun-block, and then suffer the pain of sunburn for weeks. I used to laugh at my friends who looked like Geishas when we go to the beach, their faces, arms and legs were covered with white sun-block creams and lotions; with towels covering their heads and faces when they’re exposed to the sun. When I read about skin cancers, I started to take precautions.

About 2 years ago, an American friend was diagnosed with a deadly, rare skin cancer. He’s still struggling with the disease up to this day. Every time I put on the sticky sunscreen on my face, I thought of my friend’s skin cancer. And with the global warming, expect a more intense heat this summer.

Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Life is good!

I had a nice weekend. It was well-deserved after a hectic, frustrating, and annoying work week. Fritz’ growls woke me up late Sunday morning…my poor, little doggie was trying to climb the stairs to my bedroom. He was on the 3rd step and was getting very frustrated---his clumsy hind legs were getting in the way. I guess Fritz was tired of waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs so he decided to wake me up.

I was actually dreaming…a chaotic, hysterical dream. In my dream, my grandmother [who passed away more than 20 years ago] was having a mahjong party. Everybody was smoking, in retro attire, and the room looked like a stage of Eat Bulaga in the 80’s, with strobe light and artificial smoke. Thankfully, there was no Tito-Vic-and-Joey! I was fanning my grandfather [who died in 1976] with peacock feathers, then a disheveled woman sat down beside me and told me that she’s my biological mother and my real father is George Clooney. I was shocked, and all I could say was, “Tito George is my real dad?”…Yeah, Tito George because George Clooney is a family friend! Imagine that! Hahahaha So I was adopted! I was ecstatic that finally, there’s somebody who can prove that I was adopted! Oh jeezzz!

bridge of sigh

When I told my mother about the dream while we were having Sunday lunch, she laughed and said it’s too bad that I’m stuck with them (my "adopted" family) because George Clooney is too busy with his Hollywood career and the war in Darfur. Oh, Mother! That’s what you get from watching too much CNN and E! True Hollywood Story!

George Clooney, by the way, will always be an object of my desire.

dancing lady

I wonder if that dream was the result of a great dinner the night before. My cousin Jan-Jan arrived from Bacolod last week, and as a beautiful...este dutiful Ate, I brought him to Serendra for dinner with our Tita Awen. We were so famished after we were seated at Abe that the food was demolished in a matter of minutes. We probably looked like a trio of calorie-obsessed refugees...unmindful of the rice crisis, we ordered another bowl of rice! Jan-Jan is trying to quit smoking, and was getting restless after dinner, craving for his vitamins. To distract him, we drove to Greenbelt 5, walked around a bit, and had dessert at Pia Y Damaso. It was Jan-Jan's first visit to the new Greenbelt, he breathed in the scenes around him, and temporarily forgot his desire for nicotine.

Oh, and finally! After deliberation from the lower and upper Houses of Congress, I got a haircut yesterday afternoon---plus a hot oil and massage. Hayyyyyy, sarap! Life is good (despite the perennial irritant at the end of the hallway, which I will blog one of these days, ala-Brian Gorrell! Hahahaha)!

with cousin Jan-Jan at Serendra

P.S.1. The photos of flowers and my "bridge of sigh" were taken in my boss' farm during our company outing 2 weekends ago.

P.S.2. Last photo was posted because a co-worker said I look slim in this photo! This is a "before-dinner" photo. hehehe

Saturday, April 12, 2008

"124" Book Tag - Heirloom Dahlias

I got this tag from a blog buddy, Gizelle, early this week, but I was up to my eyeballs with work. Finally, I was able to do the tag today.
Here are the easy-to-do tag rules:
1. Pick up the nearest book of at least 123 pages.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.
Problem is, I'm at work and I have no books here. I only have tons of catalogs, trade manuals and magazines. The pile on my desk right now consists of 3 issues of Veranda, Elle Decor and Wallpaper magazines---I hope these counts since there are also words and sentences in it.:D
I grabbed the one on top of the pile...a 20th anniversary issue of Veranda. When I opened page 123, it's a full-page ad so I flipped on the next page. Mine is a "124" magazine tag, Gizelle! Hahaha

my desk

Page 124 is an article about Heirloom Dahlias, with photos of the bold and captivating bloomers in deep burgundy, old-rose pink and maroon hues. The article was written by Katherine Whiteside, who wrote that these flowers “have everything to do with young, impetuous love in a hot, sanguine country.”

The next 3 sentences after the first five sentences read:

The Hollands continued to live a romantic, peripatetic ex-pat life in France and Spain. While in the latter country, the now-Lady Holland saw dahlias in bloom for the first time. It was love again.

page 124

To give you an idea what the three sentences were all about---here's the juicy part: it is Florence at the end of the 18th century. And there, Sir Geoffrey Webster and his 23-year old wife, were enjoying the lavish life of wealthy Brits living abroad. Enter Lord Holland, age 20, and his wife. This young couple was making the European grand tour, while in Italy, stopped by to visit the Websters. Before you could say cocoxchitl (which Dahlia was called by the Aztecs), Lady Webster and Lord Holland began a torrid affair, ran off together and, in 1796, produced a son. A year later, Lord Webster divorced his wife, and Lord Holland and the former Lady Webster were able to marry.

Years later, the now-Lady Holland sent seeds of dahlia back to Britain and, thus, has been credited with jump-starting the dahlia's introduction into English gardens.

Originally, dahlia tubers were grown by Aztecs for food. Spanish explorers in Central America tried this indigenous treat but declared the taste "repulsive and nauseous." Sometime in 1785, some unnamed explorer sent the tubers to Spain and it was christened in honor of Anders Dahl, a student of the great botanical name-dropper Linnaeus.

A subsequent story about a dahlia tuber that was once exchanged for a diamond is perhaps an exaggeration, but later in the 19th century, the dahlia was so popular that there were more than 10,000 different types in cultivation. Lord Holland was rightly proud and wrote the following bit of dahlia doggerel for his darling after they had been together for almost 20 years:

The Dahlia you brought to our isle

Your praises for ever shall speak;

Mid gardens as sweet as your smile,

And colour as bright as your cheek.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

La Mesa Coke TV Ad

It was actually the music that caught my attention when I first saw this Coke ad on TV. I watch in wonder at how this ad brings forth the Filipinos’ fiesta spirit, our sense of connectedness with people around us---everything, from pain to snack to joke or a Coke, for that matter, is there to be shared. Watch the ad and notice a ‘foreigner’ passes by, and a guy invites him. That’s where the extraordinary thing begins…every one moved to the next seat to give way to a guest--- a stranger who happens to pass by. It’s a brilliant way of presenting the innate warmth and friendliness of Pinoys towards strangers. Then a friend asks---when was the last time you did such an act? Surrendering a seat to a total stranger? When was the last time you practiced random act of kindness?

These questions were running through my head as I sip my ice-cold Coke.


Guilty by Bonnie Raitt

Yeah baby, I've been drinking,

and I shouldn't come by I know

But I found myself in trouble darling,

and I had nowhere else to go

Got some whiskey from a bar man,

got some cocaine from a friend

I just had to keep on moving,

till I was back in your arms again

Well I'm guilty, yeah I'm guilty,

I'll be guilty for the rest of my life

How come I never do,

what I'm supposed to do

How come nothing that I try to do ever turns out right

Well you know how it is with me baby,

you know I just can't stand myself

It takes a whole lot of medicine,

for me to pretend to be somebody else...

My First Night Alone Without You by Bonnie Raitt

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The next generation

Jaysel and Kyle
Children are fascinating creatures. They have the natural enthusiasm and exuberance to learn, ask endless questions, wonder, figure things out, imagine, investigate, and construct. I sometimes wonder why most adults have lost these traits, or perhaps we’re just masters at pretending we’re grown-ups. Because beneath my skin, I am never as wise or as sure or as strong as I want to convince myself and others that I am.

Spending time with my nephews and nieces taught me a number of things---like, how much patience I have, and how to answer questions like “What does the chicken say?” and “Why is the water wet?”. A friend loves to remind me that children are a great comfort in our old age---they also help us reach it faster. :D

Jan a.k.a. Badjao with Kuya Kyle

Yan-Yan with Jaysel

batang city-jail :D

he loves to pose for the camera

Dyme, da burdagul


no pain, no gain

the very inquisitive Angela

Eunice, the sad-faced angel

Badjao's big smile

Turks with mommy Antonette

he thought we were going somewhere
"The day the child realizes that all adults are imperfect, he becomes an adolescent; the day he forgives them, he becomes an adult; the day he forgives himself, he becomes wise."