Category Archives: People

Kota Kinabalu: A Lesson in Hospitality

I’m coming clean. When Shabby broached the idea of going to Kota Kinabalu last April, my first thought was, “What’s there?” Sure, there’s the nature part of the place, where you can climb Mt. Kinabalu and enjoy Sabah’s natural beauty. Other than that, I knew nothing.

Terrible, I know.

We purchased the tickets anyway, and did sporadic research about the place in the succeeding months. I felt I wasn’t giving the place and the trip much attention, as I didn’t even save much for expenses. The total money I had at that time was P8,000.

One thing I never expected when we got to Kota Kinabalu was the extent of the generosity and kindness of the people. Shabby plays this game called Ingress, a location based strategy game that has millions of players all over the world. When the KK players found out that she was coming, the volunteered to pick us up from the airport and lend us a pocket WiFi device.

That for us was generous enough, but it went beyond that. Chua, a photographer and a member of KK’s conservation board, acted as our guide the whole time. Through him, I learned a lot about KK’s history, development, politics, even their music and art scene. We got to visit local hangouts and taste specialties that were probably out of the way for most tourists. He also told us about the events that KK will be hosting in the future, including festivals and holidays.

We also hung out with some other Ingress players. Mostly it was just to farm and run some strategy. Sometimes they’d ask about the Philippines, but in relation to the game. I also ended up signing on for the game, and I managed to reach level 3 before we left the country. I also finished my first mission.

I was amused when they made us eat all sorts of delicacies, but then I’d realize that it was just a version of a Chinese dish we have at home. They were surprised that I knew what matchang, siomai, and kiamoy are, that my grandma cooked chicken feet the traditional way, and so on.

In so many ways, neither culture knew much about the other. And the exchange of ideas was pretty fun.

IMG_2871

I learned so much from our new friends. Kota Kinabalu may be small, but they value and respect it, and take pride in their culture. The know that they have power over their government, and they can fight for their rights and get a positive response. They take pride in their heritage, and they welcome visitors to their humble place.

It is not perfect, however. It had its own foibles, much as I’ve learned from the stories and from what I saw with my own eyes. But Kota Kinabalu has so much to offer its visitors. Take the usual tourist spots, but if you can spend time to do as the locals do, you will find yourself enriched.

Getting stuck in Kota Kinabalu because of typhoon Ruby brought many repercussions. However, the experience I had with these people, and the kindness they showed us is something I would not trade for anything. I look forward to extending to them the same generosity when they visit Metro Manila, and I hope they have a favorable experience as well.

Memories and a history lesson

My grandfather had a box of old photos in his cabinet, which we unearthed when we were painting his room. It was a mix of his family’s photos, my grandmother’s family’s photos, my dad’s childhood and high school photos. I even saw my godfathers’ graduation photos. Hilarious, but also very sentimental.

There was an album among the photos, just a small one that held a few photos inside. Opening it, my mom said it was my Lola’s older sister, Lola Aurora. She was rather young, and was wearing black. As we went through it, Mama said it was most likely ceremonies for Lola Aurora’s husband, Lolo Condring. He was Captain Condrado Yap, who fought in the Korean War and was killed in action during the Battle of the Yultong Bridge.
Continue reading

Philippine Volcanoes: Asian 5 Nations

Because my blog is really boring and I haven’t really been writing, here’s some photos I took when Joiz and I went to watch the Volcanoes play to qualify for the HSBC Asian 5 Nations last April.

Philippine Volcanoes

[singlepic id=437 w=320 h=240 float=center]

Game one was on April 15 (the day after my birthday!), with the Philippines competing against Singapore. Game two was on April 18 against Chinese Taipei, while game three was on the 21st versus Sri Lanka. Having never seen the Volcanoes play before, I had no idea what to expect. Singapore looked like a strong contender, as with Chinese Taipei and Sri Lanka.

[singlepic id=439 w=320 h=240 float=center]

My honest take? The Volcanoes were at equals with Singapore, but had a slight advantage over Chinese Taipei when it comes to physical strength. Sri Lanka was a fierce contender, and was probably the most nerve-wracking game of the series.

[singlepic id=441 w=320 h=240 float=center]

Hopefully this won’t be the last games of the Philippine Rugby that I’ll see. I hope to watch the Lady Volcanoes one of these days.

[singlepic id=443 w=320 h=240 float=center]

[singlepic id=444 w=320 h=240 float=center]

img_7192

Philippine Postal Heritage Tour

Pictures to follow. Sorry! Photos added. Still a work in progress. 🙂

About two years ago, I went with Lornadahl for a Postal Heritage Tour around Manila. While it’s not an official tour of the Philippine Post Office, it was nevertheless an educational tour on the postal service and philately, as well as some places around Manila that isn’t covered by the usual Celdran tour. This tour is hosted by the Filipinas Stamp Collectors Club and guided by Lawrence Chan.

What makes this tour interesting is that you get a look into the very fascinating field of philately, as well as a glimpse inside the majestic yet sadly dilapidated Metropolitan Theater in Manila. The tour also stretches to include Intramuros but as the tour is flexible, it sometimes doesn’t even get that far. Still, it’s a trip that is worth the time and effort.

I joined Anne and her cousin for this tour. Rence said that it usually lasts until early evening, mostly because the participants are fascinated by exploring that it’s hard to stick to the time table. We met at Liwasang Bonifacio, the park in front of the Post Office that is more known as Plaza Lawton. The older generation would probably recognize it as Arroceros Park.

The fountain was being used for the Bourne Legacy shoot, and the crew had set up camp at the park itself. I tried to catch a glimpse of Edward Norton but I doubt that he was still around.

The Historical Post Office
We went inside the Post Office first. The Post Office is a small, self-sustaining compound. Because of the large fleet of vehicles it needed, they had their own gas station. There are also smaller buildings within the compound, but sad to say, more than half of them are in a bad state. One is the Post Office museum, but it’s currently closed. I had the chance to attend a philately lecture there during the last tour, but the building is off limits now because it’s structurally unsound.

[singlepic id=371 w=320 h=240 float=center]

The Post Office building is an impressive structure. It is often used in many local productions as a setting for school graduations or law offices. Sad to say, there is news that the building will be sold in the near future as the postal company is losing more money than what they are earning. Fullerton Hotel is said to be interested in it.

Continue reading

Post Valentines meet with the Philippine Volcanoes

Note: Parts* of this post are advertorial.

The day after Valentine’s day I was at Izakaya in Greenbenlt with Joiz for an event with Globe. I’ve been a longtime Globe subscriber and I’m generally happy with the service. I have never tried their mobile Internet service because my phone uses only GPRS and that is SLOOOOOOW. Plus, as I’m on prepaid, the charges will surely drain my load. I’m better off relying on Gladlycast or something.

Globe's Free FB

Globe and TM recently launched a service where prepaid subscribers can use their phones to browse Facebook for free. This promo is ongoing until March 14. All you have to do is send FREE FB to 8888 (or you can call *143# for free). Once you’re subscribed you’ll get a confirmation message. Point your browser to m.facebook.com and you’re all set.*

Note that this isn’t applicable for Blackberry users and those who have Opera Mini set as their default browsers. Which is fine with me since it’s only Facebook. I tried it (after I re-downloaded my settings) and so far it works fine with the Facebook Java app. I managed to update my status while in transit and check some messages. Since my phone uses GPRS it’s still rather slow but is good enough in a pinch. I do need a new phone though (that’s a big hint for Globe to give me an iPhone 4S so I can fully experience this awesome thing called mobile surfing haha).*

Philippine Volcanoes
The other exciting part about that night was meeting a few of the guys from the Philippine Volcanoes (who are Globe’s newest ambassadors): Kenny Stern, Chris Everingham, Jake Letts, Jonny Morales, Darran Seeto, Nick Perry and Andrew Wolff. If you haven’t heard of them, you probably have been living under a rock in the far flung regions of the country. Coach Matt Cullen said that their team was following the footsteps of the Azkals in terms of rising popularity and games played but with a big difference: “We will win.”


From left: Andrew Wolff, Chris Everingham, Jon Morales, Darran Seeto, Nick Perry, Jake Letts and Kenny Stern

Continue reading

You Are Loved

It’s common for concertgoers to hear artists shout “I love you (insert location name here)!”. It gets the crowd going and makes the concert all the more interesting. Yet somehow, you know that it’s an empty declaration, one that’s said nearly carelessly and automatically.

When Jason Mraz performed with Toca Rivera here in Manila last Sunday, his overall message to everyone was “You Are Loved”. He repeats it several times, and you can really feel his sincerity. The overall vibe of the concert was relaxed, like you’re attending a gig in a small bar with a dozen or so of your close friends. Or having a couple of friends jamming in your living room.

Jason Mraz and Toca Rivera

I don’t have the words to justify the night. From the moment he stepped on stage, you can feel the positive vibe coming from him. There were times during the whole concert where I wanted to cry just of sheer happiness. Jason and Toca were awesome. I love how they blended so well and it was hard to imagine one without the other. I love how they change the songs a bit and how they engage the crowd to participate. I was sort of hoping that there would be no one singing along to spoil the performance, but somehow, it was the opposite. Having Jason ask people to sing with him or do some silly things made the entire thing much more fun.

It’s hard to say what’s my favorite part of that night. I loved every performance, every time he’d say something about his advocacy’s (he was with MTV Exit the night before) and how he just exudes love all night long.

Thank you for the wonderful, emotional, beautiful night Jason Mraz and Toca Rivera. See you in 2012.

Quotes:
“Real men don’t buy girls.”
“I can hear you talking among yourselves… and in another language.”
Forgot the exact words of one of his comments, but it was something about are we just going to sit there and let our lives pass by or something…

Here’s a great recording of “You and I Both” and “The Remedy” (with a bit of Oasis thrown in).

Thank you Steve Jobs

t_hero

Steve Jobs
1955-2011

“Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.”

Thank you, Steve. Rest in peace.

Get Inspired: Michael Cacnio + Lego

Here’s another one for you Lego fans: Sculptor Michael Cacnio collaborates with Lego to recreate his iconic work to integrate pieces of the childhood toy we all know and love.

My first encouter with a Michael Cacnio work was at my aunt’s house. It’s a brass sculpture of a young boy flying a kite. I was fascinated by this piece because despite being static, it gave a feeling of movement and freedom. Quite like the feeling you have when you’re doing something you love. This impression is punctuated by the kite itself, extending a feet or so from the main piece and supported by a thin brass wire. A light touch will make the wire move, giving the impression that the brass kite is really flying.

Cacnio is a self-professed Lego fan, and with his latest showing, “Inspire”, he recreates several of his works by incorporating Lego with his usual medium brass. Here are a few photos of the pieces that are on display at Greenbelt 5.


“Kindness”


“Accelerate”


“Boost”


“Thrill”

The exhibit will be until September 29, 2011.

The Great Singapore Adventure

Mga Kasabwat: 16 people, ages ranging from 14 to 90.
The Challenge: To survive in a six day trip to Singapore, including a three day cruise on board the Star Virgo and a jaunt in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Challenge accepted
Early this year, I was toying with the idea of going somewhere abroad. I figured it was about time I step out of the country, even for a bit. Someone offered me free tickets to any Asian destination, and, I told my best friend Carmenez. She invited me to join her family on their planned trip to Singapore.

I never got the free airplane ticket, but I got something else. I spent the rest of the months between February and June saving up all that I can for the trip. Then Nez said we’re changing our departure to earlier dates because we were going on a cruise.

How’s that for someone who has never stepped out of the country? My first trip abroad comes with a sea cruise. It was hard not to be excited, but with a tinge of apprehension. Just days before I was to leave, friends told me stories of how some people were denied at immigration. Then there’s the recent incident of two Pinays who went through bad treatment in Bali, Indonesia. I was assured that I shouldn’t worry, but I couldn’t help it.

Finally, the day arrived. I packed my bags as best as I could (I seriously had no idea what to pack) and rushed to my best friend’s house. The scene was quite like that of Home Alone I, where the entire family was scrambling to get ready for a trip and not leave anyone behind. It took us about thirty minutes to get checked in at the airport, and immigration couldn’t seem to believe that all of us were going. Think of it as Amazing Race, only instead of competing in teams of two, we were all working together as one big team. Chaos, I tell you.

Our passports

Worst Seat Ever
It’s a common knowledge that the worst seat you can get is near the wing, if you wanted a good view. I still think that our row had the worst seats in the history of modern aviation: last row, with no window at all. Therefore, no admiring of the Manila and Singapore skyline for me.

Touchdown, Singapore
My excitement of my first trip abroad was dimmed by exhaustion. We arrived at 1:55 AM, and had until 6 AM til we can check in our bags at the cruise center. Most of us had been awake since 6 AM Tuesday. We made the best of our situation by finding the best positions for sleep. It wasn’t an easy thing since the airport seats were hard and not really meant for lying down. I don’t know how I did it, but I got an hour or so’s sleep.

Continue reading

The Lost Film

You’ve heard stories of how people randomly find something someone lost, and how this becomes the start of adventures and all sorts of events that can be life-changing. Or not.

Todd Bieber (hopefully no relation to Justin) had one such adventure. During the blizzard last December, he took his skies to Prospect Park in Brooklyn. There, he found a roll of film.

He developed it, and decided to search for the owner of the film. He posted the pictures online and hoped that someone can tell him who they were. More than 800 messages poured in, but he finally found the one who owned it.

Here is Todd’s story.

His adventure was wonderful. His trek across Europe is enviable and admirable. Goes to show that there are still plenty of good people in this world, and it is possible to connect with them all.

What’s your adventure today? 🙂