Monday, March 31, 2008
CELL PHONE: WHAT TO DO WITHOUT IT?
The cellphone may have unseated the television as the most popular and ubiquitous technological invention in man's history. In Manila alone, there may be at least three cell phone units per household. Come to think of it, even domestic helpers own a cell phone.
According to family and friends, the cellphone remains to be the most requested graduation and birthday gift; proving that cell phones have, indeed, become the most sought-after personal electronic gadget by almost everyone -- kids and adults alike.
I am one of those who have become completely dependent upon this device; regarding it much like a security blanket. I may be able to do without television, but absolutely not without a cell phone. There was a time -- even though already half way to my destination -- when I immediately turned back upon realizing that I had left home without my cell phone.
However, despite its benefits in terms of telecommunication convenience and accessibility, some people consider the cell phone as an electronic leash used by protective parents and possessive lovers. Worse, it has also become a prime target by snatchers and petty thieves. In Manila alone, some mugging victims reportedly sustained gunshot and knife-stabbing wounds, while others were killed outright for refusing to hand over their cell phones. Yet despite the perils of ownership, many folks acquire a cell phone -- be it for personal or business reasons.
Moreover, recent innovations in cell phone technology make them even more attractive. Besides the basic features such as voice and SMS messaging capabilities, newer models are capable of taking impressive photographs and videos, as well as storing and playing MP3 files.
Their prices are also becoming more affordable, while major service providers intensely compete to provide lower-priced services. These, in turn, encourage some folks to constantly upgrade to newer models, which oftentimes result to a decrease in the prices of used models due to sheer abundance.
And as for cell phones becoming a status symbol in Manila, it's true. A couple of years ago, a waitress in a swanky cafe in Greenbelt ignored me when she saw my Nokia 3310 -- a model fit for mere peons she must have thought.
posted by Señor Enrique at 10:03 AM | 26 comments
DISCOVERING THE JOY OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Canon invites everyone who wants to delve into digital photography to join its free online tutorial that will show you how easy it is to use a digital SLR camera.
The tutorial is broken down into four parts:
* Part 1 - Basic Introduction
* Part 2 - Practical Applications
* Part 3 - Choosing Lenses (Interchangeable Lens)
* Part 4 - Photo Printing
The site also features a Terminology section where you can look up the meaning of various photography jargon.
Click here to get started.
Title: Watching The Parade
Camera: Nikon D80
Shutter: 10/60 sec
Focal Length: 30mm
posted by Señor Enrique at 6:24 AM | 5 comments
Sunday, March 30, 2008
FROM HERE ON FORWARD
This March, two girls, Eileen and Maryann, and two boys proudly graduated from high school. No easy feat for those coming from impoverished backgrounds. The girls swept up all the honors and awards for excellence and leadership. Every hardship can be overcome, light can shine from darkness and in Easter we need to see that in real life more and more. No matter how hard, dark and hopeless life may seem, there are good loving people out there willing to help and give support to anyone in need.
Read complete article: Graduation: light from darkness - The Manila Times
* * *
Camera: Canon IXUS 65
Shutter: 1/125 sec
posted by Señor Enrique at 7:19 AM | 10 comments
Saturday, March 29, 2008
EATING AL FRESCO IN MANILA
Eating outdoors can certainly be fun, especially when it's nice and warm outside. You can enjoy a tasty meal and people-watch at the same time.
However, its downside, which I've noticed to be prevalent in some parts of Quiapo and Binondo are the street beggars who would ask for some loose change as you enjoy your meal. There is a guilt factor involved here, of course: you're eating and they're not; and the usual reaction then is to dig into the pocket for some coins. Unfortunately, most beggars take advantage of such.
Once while eating in a restaurant in La Loma, two street children walked over to our table with hands open begging for some change. When asked where they were from, one told me that they live inside the North Cemetery with their family. But instead of giving them money, I asked the waitress to give them a couple of vegetable dishes and plenty of rice to take home. They raced back home right after thanking me repeatedly.
On another occasion, while eating a late lunch in Chinatown's estero food court, I noticed two street children approached two finely dressed Chinese women who were enjoying their merienda. The boys asked them for some change. But instead of reaching for her purse, one of the women invited them to sit at a nearby vacant table and then asked the waitress to serve them a big plate of pancit canton. You can imagine the surprised delight revealed by these children's wide smiles. More poignant was their pleasant behavior as they enjoyed their meal. Apparently, despite their impoverished background, they were, nonetheless, brought up to be mindful of their table manners.
Overall, my observation tells me that for the most part, the locals have a soft heart for these indigent folks reduced to begging for a meal. However, there's a common awareness as well that in some cases, nefarious adults would use these children to beg from strangers -- not to use the money for communal food but to fund their vices.
Children in Need of Special Protection - Council for the Welfare of Children
posted by Señor Enrique at 7:39 AM | 22 comments
Friday, March 28, 2008
MANILA BRACES FOR A SIZZLING SUMMER
Nathaniel Cruz, head of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), advised the nation to prepare for a scorching weather during the upcoming April and May months. The temperatures in Manila are expected to soar to as high as 37 degrees Celsius, while those at the outlying provinces may possibly reach as high as 40.
Although the normal body temperature may be 37 degrees Celcius, Cruz said in an interview on dzBB radio that, "people normally already feel uncomfortably hot at 34 to 35 degrees Celsius." And he forewarned that the relative humidity at this time of year may make some people feel up to four degrees hotter.
People are asked to avoid exposure to the sun especially from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. He said the temperature will be at its hottest between 2 and 3 p.m.
How to Cool Yourself Without Air Conditioning
Twenty-three Tips for Keeping the House Cool
posted by Señor Enrique at 5:22 AM | 20 comments
Thursday, March 27, 2008
A CALESA RIDE FROM ONGPIN TO AVENIDA
posted by Señor Enrique at 7:16 AM | 15 comments
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
It was my photography buddy Joel Lao who made me aware of this seemingly hole-in-the-wall eatery whose mami and siopao offerings give Ma Mon Luk a run for its money.
Located on Recto Avenue between Rizal Avenue and Florentino Torres (across the street from Roben movie theater), I've passed by this noodle house many times before but had no idea that its siopao and mami are one of the best in Manila. Even more interesting are its more affordable prices as compared to Ma Mon Luk's. No wonder this place attracts a steady stream of customers throughout the day.
This eatery has since become a regular merienda stop for me and balikbayan guests whenever in Manila's downtown area.
Other popular noodle houses in Metro Manila
posted by Señor Enrique at 6:48 AM | 21 comments
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
THE CHAMPION'S MOTORCADE
It was a motorcade for the newly-crowned World Boxing Council superfeatherweight champion Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao. It began at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) along the Elliptical Road in Quezon City and passed through Quezon Avenue, enroute to Manila, Pasay, and Makati.
Unfortunately, I chose the wrong spot -- at the Mabuhay Rotunda -- to shoot it. That area of Quezon Boulevard proved too wide and didn't have too many well-wishers; hence, the motorcade sped by at an astonishing speed. I was unable to take a variety of shots from where I was.
And those who chose to shoot from the street level didn't fare too well, either. They were blocked by the police escort vehicles that drove right along both sides of the Ford pick-up truck that carried the champion.
Much like the result of Pacquiao's fight -- that it was his Mexican opponent who supposedly deserved the win more so than he -- this motorcade was not without its share of controversy. During the press conference at the DENR before the start of the motorcade, Pacquiao reiterated that politics played no part in his refusal to accept Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim’s invitation to host the motorcade. Pacquiao said that the former Manila mayor, Lito Atienza, had invited him first.
Nonetheless, many people were happy that Pacquiao was not accompanied by any politician in this motorcade as was the case in previous occasions.
Pacquiao motorcade reaches Manila - GMA News
posted by Señor Enrique at 10:06 PM | 2 comments
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Hanging out with balikbayan friends and relatives from the States often spur fond memories to arise.
One of which was during the warm weather months in New York when I'd buy a slice of pizza and a can of soda, and then head on over to the little park over at Herald Square. And in the midst of midtown Manhattan's hustle and bustle, I would find myself an empty bench where I could comfortably enjoy my food while people-watching.
Usually, I'd also conduct an inner dialog: curious about these peoples' lives -- their unique experiences; the people they have loved; the things they treasured, and the places where they've traveled. And just like a benevolent mystic, I would search their faces for some traces of the dreams they've tenaciously held on to, as well as for those they've reluctantly let go.
The peoples' facial features, peculiar mannerisms, modes of dress, and animated gestures would later become the images of the characters in the novels and short stories that I'd devour during the chilly winter evenings.
There were also the occasions, as relief from making sense out of personal conundrums, when I would simply go out people-watching. And although such activity does not necessarily inspire effective solutions, it certainly is a relaxing diversion.
Other than in Manhattan, I've done lots of people-watching in all the places I've visited. As a New York Times article proclaimed, "People-watching in New York is what vista-gazing is to the Grand Canyon: You haven’t really been if you haven’t done it."
Interestingly, the same may be said here in Manila where I've been people-watching as of late.
posted by Señor Enrique at 9:07 PM | 19 comments
Saturday, March 22, 2008
PRETTY AS A PINEAPPLE
Although the pineapple has traveled and proliferated in many countries from its original home in the lowlands of Brazil, it is only in the Philippines that its fiber was used to create the delicate fabric of marvelous tensile strength called piña.
So fine and precious the quality of this unique handwoven fabric that during the Spanish period, it was sent as gifts to royalty such as Queen Victoria. Samples of embroidered piña are supposedly still preserved in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Historical accounts may claim that it was the Spaniards who introduced the pineapple from Mexico to the Philippines, but others may argue that it was the early Chinese traders who brought it to the archipelago.
Be that as it may, the pineapple in these photographs is growing at my mother's backyard. About a year ago, instead of throwing away the green top off a pineapple fruit, she asked to have it planted in the backyard. It was because she heard from her kumadre that the scent of pineapple leaves prevent snakes from intruding into the yard. I guess, all those news reports on TV about giant pythons being found in several parts of Metro Manila scared her.
I am somewhat skeptical of the power of the pineapple leaves to deter snakes from venturing into the yard; otherwise, my Aunt Isabel would have surrounded her small poultry farm with these delightful fruit-bearing leaves. Believe me, those slithering reptiles that came attracted by the scent of her chickens were not a pretty sight, especially for little children engaged in the game of hide and seek during the late summer afternoons.
However, I am one of those who tremendously enjoy sweet pineapples from as far back as I can remember, though I had no idea that its young fruit can be so pretty; that is, until I saw one growing at my mother's backyard.
Plant a pineapple - directions for young gardeners
by Kay Melchisedech Olson (Flower & Garden Magazine)
posted by Señor Enrique at 7:14 AM | 18 comments
Thursday, March 20, 2008
REFLECTIONS ON LIFE'S FINAL CHAPTER
a review by Duwayne Anderson
Humans are probably the only animals capable of understanding their mortality and envisioning the day of their death. Sherwin B. Nuland shows, however, that while we conceptualize our eventual demise, most people have unrealistic expectations of their death. Misconceptions abound. The expectation of a noble death with loved ones gathered, final farewells, and then eternal slumber forms a common though inaccurate mental image of what many people look forward to in their final moments.
There are several themes that permeate Nuland's book. One is that death, like birth, is a messy process. Though we may wish for the noble death, more likely we will die slowly from a lack of oxygen in the brain. This, in turn, will result from a failing heart, lungs, or blood vessels. Death does not come easy, and although the final moment is sometime serene and tranquil, months or weeks of painful physical degeneration often precedes it.
The second theme in Nuland's book is that death is not only inevitable, it is necessary. While life should be fought for as long as possible, we should all realize that ultimately the battle will be lost. We will die.
Nuland takes a dim view of heroic attempts to extend life beyond the point where the body has simply failed and death becomes not only inevitable, but also the proper way for nature to renew herself. Nature uses death to clear the way for new generations, and just as we cannot experience the green buds of spring unless the leaves from last season fall to the ground, the very nature of life demands that when death becomes inevitable we exit the stage for the next generation.
Nuland's third point is that the measure of a life is not found so much in how we die, but in how we live and how we are remembered. Few of us can control the way in which we die. For some of us it will be quick, for others death will linger and the process will be slow and painful. Some will find humiliation in the loss of bodily functions or mental facilities. However it comes to anyone of us, death is just a part of our lives and the real meaning in death is in the life remembered.
Chapters 1 and 2 focus on the heart, how and why it fails, and what are the consequences in terms of how death is precipitated. These chapters include some personal stories, but are mostly factual in nature. They make fascinating reading for anyone interested in how the body works, as well as those interested in death itself.
Chapter 3 is one of the most poignant and describes the author's personal experiences in the life and death of his Grandmother who raised him after his parents died when he was eleven. Nuland is a medical doctor, and he describes the deaths of many people in his book, including the death of his Grandmother and his brother. All these descriptions are stark. There is no attempt to cover up the messiness of death, yet the stories are told with such deep compassion and understanding of the human condition and suffering that they bring a deep upwelling in the soul.
Chapter 4 basically outlines Nuland's view; that is, "Among living creatures, to die and leave the stage is the way of nature - old age is the preparation for departure, the gradual easing out of life that makes its ending more palatable not only for the elderly but for those also to whom they leave the world in trust."
Chapter 5 describes Alzheimer's disease, and is one of the most interesting chapters in the book. This book includes some of the history of Alzheimer's disease, how the disease manifests itself, and how it kills. Like many other topics in his book, Nuland illustrates the subject by describing the process of degeneration and death due to this disease through his personal experiences with individuals he knew.
The sixth chapter, titled "Murder and Scerenity," was difficult for me. It contains a vivid description of the death of a little girl by a knife-wielding maniac. The subject of the chapter is how the body produces chemicals that place it in a type of trance when under tremendous stress. The story of little Katie is very poignant. I hardly ever cry, but I did as I read of the way she died. Interestingly, though, I think that understanding the physiology described in this chapter can be a source of solace even for those who have lost loved ones through violent tragedy.
Chapter 7 discusses suicide and euthanasia. Nuland seems to take a dim view of suicide as promoted by some organizations, but he seems to hold open the possibility of doctors taking a more active roll in the final moments of death as patients ask for help in the process. This chapter brought some personal reflection to me, since I'm from Oregon. I voted with the majority of my fellow citizens to allow doctors to help their patients end their suffering (Oregon's law has abundant safeguards and cannot result in euthanasia or death for monetary relief). Ultimately, though, our voices could be rejected. Interestingly, Gordon Smith, a Senator from Oregon, has proven fundamental in overriding the Oregon voters on this issue.
Chapters 8 and 9 review the story of AIDS and how that disease kills it victims, while chapters 10 and 11 describe death by cancer. Chapter 12 summarizes, and leaves the reader contemplating the fact that it's all but certain we will each die by one or more of the processes described in Nuland's book.
How we die, and how we will be remembered, however, are entirely up to each of us as individuals.
Recommended flick: Stranger Than Fiction
posted by Señor Enrique at 6:46 AM | 9 comments
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
SOMETHING ABOUT JESSA
This is Jessa. She is my niece's daughter. Jessa used to be very proud of her long, flowing hair like those of highly paid models of shampoo commercials, which many local domestic helpers religiously emulate.
However, despite many pleadings, Jessa eventually relented and allowed her hair to be cut very short. It wasn't because it's the trendy hairdo for little girls during the summertime. It was because a colony of head lice was found thriving in her luscious hair.
Everyone was glad that she agreed to get a haircut and undergo the prescribed insecticide therapy; otherwise, she may have not been invited to a children's party hosted by a cousin.
posted by Señor Enrique at 8:20 AM | 17 comments
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
IT'S SUMMER ONCE MORE
Gone are the cool mornings and evenings of only a couple of weeks ago. These days, Manila is once again subjected to uncomfortable humidity. So much so, that one could find himself sweating while getting dressed right after taking a shower. It's that hot in Manila once again.
Chow King probably put up this incredibly gigantic billboard along Quezon Boulevard in Quiapo to remind Manileños that there's always its popular halo-halo if one should need a quick respite from the sweltering temperature.
However, I am one of those who get a headache from too much halo-halo or frappuchino. And although some chilled watermelon and citrus fruits are ideal alternatives, a ten-peso dirty ice cream on a sweet cone can be hard to resist sometimes, especially on a hot summer day.
posted by Señor Enrique at 8:57 AM | 31 comments
Monday, March 17, 2008
A SALUTE TO MAYOR LIM
Although Mayor Lim does not intend to lift a finger to help his 44-year-old son Manny -- who was arrested in a drug sting operation in Manila's downtown Sta. Cruz district over the weekend -- I'm sure the incident has nonetheless devastated him and his entire family. My heart goes out to them.
I am one of those who truly admire the mayor's tireless efforts to reduce, if not completely eradicate, the city's crime rate. In a telephone interview with TV morning news host Pinky Webb this morning, the mayor who was once a police chief and famed for his ruthless crackdown on crime, said that from the onset, he had had been molding each one of his children to lead exemplary lives. Unlike the other children who boast of being "untouchables" just because their parents are members of the law enforcement forces. "The law applies to all, or to none at all," the mayor quipped.
Moreover, he stated that there shall be no sacred cows and no special favors accorded to his son who is old enough to face the consequences of his actions; thus, should be treated like any ordinary citizen who has been arrested for having committed a serious crime.
The mayor's son Manny Lim, a businessman, was arrested along with two others in a hotel on Tomas Mapua Street by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) operatives. Reportedly seized from them were 100 grams of metamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu worth P600,000. They will be charged for violating Section 5 (Sale of Dangerous Drugs) in relation to Section 26-b (Conspiracy to Sell Dangerous Drugs), Article II of RA 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Hopefully, Mayor Lim's admirable stance will become a wake up call to all government officials and members of various law enforcement agencies to shun the practice of shielding relatives and friends from facing the consequences of their criminal actions however petty.
Mayor Fred Lim’s son arrested for drug raps - The Manila Times
posted by Señor Enrique at 7:44 AM | 39 comments
Sunday, March 16, 2008
THE PALM VENDORS OF QUIAPO
What these children sell signify the palm branches that the crowds waved as Jesus entered Jerusalem. And these young vendors' joyful mood derived from their play reflected the great time of celebration in the ministry of Jesus a week before he made his journey to the cross and resurrection.
For Christians, Palm Sunday ushers in the Holy Week which concludes on Easter Sunday. For these children, this Sunday is going to be a very busy day. Hundreds of churchgoers will certainly buy palms from them to be blessed by the parish priest before they are brought home. But until then, these kids managed to squeeze in some playtime in between their selling tasks in this Saturday afternoon right in front of Quiapo Church.
posted by Señor Enrique at 12:07 AM | 12 comments
Saturday, March 15, 2008
YOUTH FOR TRUTH RALLY AT LIWASANG BONIFACIO
Youth protesters rock 'n' roar - Inquirer.net
2,000 protesters attend interfaith rally in Manila - Manila Bulletin
posted by Señor Enrique at 6:52 AM | 10 comments