Friday, April 29, 2005

The Palawan Chronicles: Day 1

The plane

I hate planes. I hate flying. You'd think by now, after getting on planes at least a couple of times year since I started working, I'd get used to the fact that im strapped onto a cramped seat for at least an hour doing nothing but wait for some terrorist to shout "Bomb!" and cause mass hysteria. You'd think I'd get used to that damn irritating feeling of someone driving a screwdriver through my eardrums everytime the plane takes off or lands. You'd think with all these enhancements like sexier flight attendants and in-flight-movies to ensure fliers get as comfortable as possible it would make me like flying even more... But noo.... I never did get the hang of this necessary evil.

What I usually just do on a plane is wear shades, recline my seat, ask for wine and a blanket, tell the flight attendant to please, please, leave me alone and just sleep through the duration of the flight. And yeah, I sit right next to the emergency exit. That usually fixes my flight jitters gives me the luxury of sleep... that is, until the plane gets into a landing maneuver and causes my eardrums to explode while the flight attendant tries to help by asking me to un-recline my seat.

The flight to Palawan was different. Sort of.

Got on PAL's 830am flight to Puerto Princesa. It's curious to note that it was a Friday flight and the Airbus seemed to be fully booked. Is palawan getting to be that commercialized already? I was a bit late though, and I wasnt able to get my emergency exit seat. Oh well. No biggie. Im brave. I can handle it. Nothing but water down there anyway. And getting marooned in one of Palawan's isles isnt exactly a bad thing right? Not like crash landing in the middle of some african

jungle where no one speaks english and cannibalism is in vogue...

Anyway once I was airborne, i did my thing- strapped on my shades, reclined my seat and asked for wine. Of course, it didnt occur to me that in economy class of a local flight THERE IS NO WINE. So i tried to get drunk on orange juice instead. Didnt work. I tried to sleep, but it was impossible. Too many people talking in a language I understand. And with only an hour for the trip, it was pretty much useless anyway. At least it was a quick one. A little bumpy and a bit too painful for my sensitive ears, but still quick and tolerable.


Got out of the airport a bit before 10am. Noted the number of people coming out of the plane: lots of pinoys on vacation, a group of chinese, a couple of blacks and a number of french speaking white guys. Tourism's picking up, but nothing like Thailand's Phuket (at least pre-tsunami) where europeans come in droves causing long lines at the immigration terminal because the airline officials there cant speak three sentences of straight english.

Anyway, my first destination was our base in Puerto Princesa... The Legend Hotel. Pretty much decent. They fixed the transport coming in from the airport and arranged for our rented vehicles. Its a recently renovated hotel: they expanded their facilities and included more corporate function rooms and a convention center. I think its the best place to hold corporate outings (the legit ones hehe), next to Asturia's in Puerto Princesa.

On the side:
There are no taxis in Puerto Princesa. Just lots of Tricycles. That minus 300 pogi points for each paparazzi shot that gets circulated. But its pretty cool if you're there. The natives are very friendly and you can get the tricycle driver to tour you around the city for less than 50 bucks.

Anecdote: Later on, my brothers cap blew off while we were in the highway. As we stopped to look back and try to retrieve it, the tricycle behind us actually stopped, picked it up, drove towards us and handed it over with a smile.

After checking in and leaving our stuff, we got on a hired van. The agenda for the day was lunch at Vietville, the vietnamese village and a trip to Sabang's underground river. be continued...


To those interested with what happened to my Palanca entree: As of this writing, its the last night before submission, and though I have everything in place and I just need to type everything in my head, Im stil 70% to go (yeah after months of
procrastination, tons of work, a palawan trip that didnt give me enough R&R to write, and a helluva writer's block the past few days). I have yet to do any of that technicality crap (filling up the forms, getting the damn stuff NOTARIZED, fixing up those stupid identity issues, formatting.... ugh), and the anesthetic from my recent tooth extraction has just wore off putting me, shall we say, in great pain. Plus, I wont have the luxury of having anyone besides myself read it before submitting...

So between sacrificing some life force to make it to the deadline (still a possibility at the time of this writing) and polishing it up so it becomes a real obra maestra, gunning for next year and just updating my blog... Well, lets just say its with great regret that I choose to go with next year.

Either that, or just submit it to the nearest filmwriting contest... Anyone know anything about these?

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Im back baby!

Hey everyone! Im back from my palawan trip! See some pix here...

busy, busy, busy...

All I can say is WOW!

lonely planet guide to follow...

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The highs and lows of the past 24 hours

Finally got hit by "THE IDEA" while driving. Found myself suddenly swirling with scenes from my Palanca entry and I just had to stop at the nearest table and just let the visions play all in my head and write it down.

So there I was, 11pm last night, fresh out of the gym in typical "pambahay" porma of shorts, a shirt and slippers and with my hair stupidly air-dried, waltzing into KFC and ordering a HotShots meal. Then asking the counter girl if i could Please, please borrow her pen.

I dont know if it was fate, my goo goo eyes, or the sheer idiocity of the moment that made her give me her pen but it worked like a charm. Got her pen, sat down and collected all the placemats of the surrounding table. Next thing I know i was like a man possessed: scribbling, drawing and basically filling up the backs of those paper placemats with ideas while chowing down on the anti-Gym meal I ordered. And I was pretty sure those folks in KFC were all curious as to what I was doing. Mental note: never show my face there again.

The whole thing kept up for an hour (and two drinks, three meals and a chocolate mousse later) before I was finally done. Now all I need to do is make sense of the chicken scratches I'm now currently deciphering and do my job as a Typer and submit my crammed work before the April 29 deadline.

Weird. Not that it was the first time i did something like that... but I couldnt seem remember the last time it happened to me. Inspiration comes like gusts now, nothing like the gentle flow of before...

Lets see if the muses are really coming back for good.

Had my 5th steak this week at Hot Rocks. Each one with a more colorful story than the last (or was it an unconscious rationalization?) as to why I just had to pass by that place. Damn, that stuff is addicting!

For the benefit of those unfamiliar with it, its now my favorite un-conyo steakhouse in AutoCamp, in Ortigas avenue. Its motto is "no-frills, just good food". For good reason.

Though you can get better ambiance in ChowKing, the main reason people go there is that you get to be served a large slab of juicy steak as low as 130 pesos!!! And after that, theres this little shop nearby that sells the most affordable chocolate sponge cake around.

Mmmm... Cholesterol and sugar fix in one go. Did I tell you they serve beer there too?

Yeah, thats another day off my life expectancy.

Damn power surge fried my PS2 and half the lights in our house!

And just when I plunked around 8k for the stupid hard disk.

Ugh. Now im depressed.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Seeing through the Blindfold

I've been wandering around lately, both in search of myself and that game-changing Palanca Idea. I found myself paying more attention to conversations on the other table, the innocent laughter of children over the shallowest of things, or the drunken ramblings of otherwise tightlipped people. And I daydream and take note.

In times past, I imagine, I could have been that acolyte that quietly guarded a mysterious secret, or a dark ninja that listens in from his rooftop perch. I move from place to place taking to the shadows, silently taking in everything of note. No secret can be hidden from my sight, nor gossip from my ears. All are revealed under my scrutiny.

Here's a sample of what I found.

Palawan or Boracay?

After the Dos Palmas kidnapping incident a few years back, the island paradise of Boracay beefed up its security. Besides the local Coast Guard patrolling the area, part of the island's defense are its Navy regiment (2 ships), the PNP (2 ships) and a volunteer patrol boat from the Diver's Association.

Furthermore, because of the strategic location of Boracay, it is too far from any possible refueling stations that an Abu-Sayyaf-type of speedboat kidnapping would require and the nearest port, Aklan, is fairly secure.

Palawan on the other hand... is a big big area with lots of little islands that are perfect for Pirate bases.

Your choice.

Im going to the more exciting Palawan next week :)

To anyone looking out for a new gaming console, always bring your friendly neighborhood geekazoid when making a purchase.

Ive just uncovered the latest scam in greenhills. Some unscrupulous vendors are out there buying old Playstations and X-boxes, refurbishing them and selling them as brand new. Beware of these rip-offs.

I was able to talk with one of the more prominent anthropologists here in the country a couple of weekends ago.

I was curious as to what exactly is the tie that holds all Filipinos together. What primordial trait or virtue binds us all? If we werent colonized by Spain for all of 300 years what would we be like?

And so I asked him. What's the most common trait among ALL regions and sub-cultures in our country?

To my surprise, he was also of the impression that in each Filipino lies a tiny little devil of deviousness that makes us want to cut across corners, pull down would-be-achievers and just bend and twist every rule of law there is. This was apparently noted down even by the early spaniards who saw our ancestors as slick, cunning bastards that should never be trusted.

And this is what we see in our culture today. This is why there will never be a community of Pinoys that will make it big in any country. This is why only the most maverick and unconventional of our lot will succeed outside the Philippines. In our genes, or at least in one of our relatives, is a ticking timebomb of evil that will ultimately destroy us all.

That is the tie that binds all of us. Now, my next question is... Is this the same the tie that binds all humanity together as well?

Let's see.

How then does one get rid of that evil little monster inside of us all?

Davao's Mayor Duterte has a great idea: Put a bullet through its head once it starts to manifest.

Needless to say, Davao is one of the safest and most drug-free cities in the Philippines. Kudos to the Davao Death Squad and their unique solution of Vigilanteism in that area.

An alternative to this fiasco of a Democracy? Maybe.

I always thought that the Philippines was never really civilized when the Spaniards first settled in.

Why? Look at the Incans and the Mayans: even after their colonizers killed off their culture, a ton of relics still thrive in old temples and pyramids. Their gods and goddesses were forever etched into stone or gold, and that even at this time their structures still stand.

Look at Thailand and Cambodia and their rich culture of Golden Buddhas and ancient martial arts. Its so rich in culture they can actually live on tourism alone.

We on the other hand, have only the churches in the North and some ancient Spanish relics like Magellan's cross in the South. We dont even have a legitimate martial art that survived to this day, or even excellent metalwork that dated back to Lapu-lapu times... There was nothing pre-Colonial that ever lasted.

This notion was shattered after I talked with a visiting archeologist..

Apparently, stone wasnt the favorite medium of our forefathers. Bamboo was in vogue then, and most of our artifacts were made with Clay and Bamboo. We had our own code-of-laws, literature and language back then as well. And we were known shipbuilders even by the surrounding countries.

If the Spanish hadn't come, we'd be almost like Indonesia (thank god for our genes).

When the Spanish did get to conquer us (through infighting between local chieftains), they destroyed all evidence of culture (Duh, it was just pottery and bamboo) and replaced it with Christianity. Then they added in their own special twist to keep us dumb and docile for the next 300 years.

Did you know that there is a Islamic version of the Antichrist?

I searched through google and was amazed at what I found. (Devout Catholics, please dont read any further).

Apparently, Islam and Roman Catholicism have too many similar roots:
1. Both are monotheistic
2. Both have extremely heirarchical structures.
3. Both are heavily dependent on tradition for rituals (e.g. Muslims pray at 5pm, Catholics need to go to mass every sunday. Both have no idea why.)
4. Both religions power of influence heavily depends on undying obedience and thrive on the ignorance of their masses.
5. It is only in Catholic and Islamic States that they have issues on "Church vs State". I think it has something to do with their heirarchical structure and need for control of the masses.
6. Both have problems dealing with Democracy. I mean, has there ever been a Roman Catholic or Islamic country that succeeded as a Democracy? (I'm looking at Iraq. This will serve as a good case study)
7. Both will spam me later for posting this.


I was thisClose to going on a trip to Monaco.

Unfortunately for me, it didnt push through and yet again, hot European babes are denied the charms of my cute Filipino accent.


There are times when you get so used to everything going wrong that keeps going wrong at all the worst possible times that when something absolutely perfect comes along you're at a loss at what to do. And so you close your eyes and try to see through this devious ploy life just put you through, unsure if its your eyes or your mind thats doing the tricking.

Then you realize it just might be the blindfold.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Quick Retorts

Finally i've been able to breath from work again. And the first thing I made sure of was to start religiously going to the beach (from the past few weekends. )

And after all those donations to the Gym, buffet lunches with clients and inhuman daily doses of coffee, it just peeves me that everyone once in a while gives me a ribbing on how obvious it is that i'm outta shape...

So i decided to post on my best alcohol-induced comebacks on the leading question -
"Aren't you getting a bit... overweight?" (Patenting in process)

Really? I look bigger? I'm never wearing this shirt again...

Thats not a tummy. Thats an extended battery pack for this relentless love machine

Nah. I got bored with my sixpack... upgraded it to a higher model

Thats not fat, my gym instructor confirmed its really muscle... Too much sit-ups and all that crap...

This? I got it to help in watersports. Reduces impact and adds to your bouyancy you know...

heres a couple in Filipino:
Talaga? Shet. Nakulam ako...

Kahit sino tanungin nyo, mas masarap ang isang malaking Monay kesa sa anim na pandesal... (thanks to Jose Cuervo for this one)

And my favorite (kudos to Johnny Walker and some Russian Friends for this):

So what? What his abs can do, my beer belly can do better!

**Note: this does not reflect how often i am asked that question in any way :)

will post more this week ;)