Krispi, Krimi

The first chance I got, I readily bought me a half-dozen box of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, when I learned from a local magazine that they have branches here. We found this one at Bahrain City Center (supposedly the largest and newest mall in the kingdom).



Eve of Christmas. Nothing significant. Spent, I just slept the night away. We worked late to finish up furnishing the Adliya project flats so we'd have the day off for Christmas Day. It's not a holiday here, obviously. But well-meaning bosses would give their Christian employees the day off to celebrate. Some for a full day. Some for a half. So Pinoys usually celebrate the night of Christmas Day. More like the Christmas Dinner of westerners, not our tradish noche buena. I think.

Christmas Day. Joel has invited me to celebrate Christmas at Tom and Marlyn's with their cute 6-month-old baby Claire and Kuya Boy, their flatmate, whom I just met there that night. It's not my first Christmas away from home. But it's my first Christmas celeb with people I barely know. I've met Tom and Marlyn previously, though, but it could feel like I was crashing a party or something. I made sure though that we brought something, Joel and I could share the bill. A box of Popeye's chicken isn't much, but it is something.

But it is Christmas. And we were all Pinoys. So the party went on. Dinner and drinks and what else, karaoke. After midnight, conversations of nothing-ness. It was a sleep-over party.

Day after Christmas was a Friday. Rest Day in Arabic countries. We didn't have anything planned. DVDs were there waiting to be viewed. We watched about 2. The Day the Earth Stood Still. And Hero Wanted. So so.

That Christmas celeb was not, though. It was in fact pretty merry. Thanks to the kindness and graciousness of our hosts. They keep doing this, we just might keep coming back. Haha! Now that's the spirit of Christmas.

Christmas Dinner.

Grilled Fish.

Pho c/o Kuya Boy.

Our Popeye's contribution.

Assorted Grilled Tikka.

Pulutan (Thai something) c/o Kuya Boy.

And for the drinks, ehem, Bombay Sapphire.


Food That I Eat

Sandwich wrap.

First few days (free from OT work).

First cooked meals

Food to get by.

Lutong bahay c/o Joel.


Pinoy Photographers in No Man's Land

The groups needs a little getting used to. They're cool people I'm sure. But then again, it's not the best time to join a group when they're in a party or anything celebratory. I expected to be left out. (Especially that's they're mostly Tagalogs and I didn't notice anyone sporting a Lomo)

GPN celebrated their 1st Anniversary (cum Xmas party) at a hotel in Juffair last 11th December 2008.

The not so little group of GPN in Bahrain. Gulf Photographers Network is a Photographic Network of Enthusiasts in the Gulf (as written in their Flickr Home - http://www.flickr.com/groups/gulfphoto/ ).


My Room

Company accommodation. In a 3-bedroom flat. I was supposed to room with an office mate and saw this one, vacant, and opted for it. Don't laugh, the bedsheets and rug came with the room.


My Zain eZee

My Bahrain mobile number: (+973)36****70.

Apparently I bought it at a much higher price. 5BD at the Seef Mall. 1BD at one's friendly neighborhood cold store.

SMS is charged the same as a call. So people call more often here.

I brought my Phil sim with me. My Globe roaming is supposedly active. But I've received no messages since I got here. Either nobody's texting or the roaming's not working.


Now in Bahrain

I finally arrive in Bahrain.

After the gruelling hours at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (almost 10 hours), watching the coming and going of Pinoy OFWs in the waiting area inside the terminal, most of them headed for the Middle East, most of the ones I talked with, DH, Mindanaoan Muslims, plus the hours of actual air travel via Cathay Pacific, Manila to Hongkong, waited a little more than an hour in Chek Lap Kok (not a long wait because I was able to access free WiFi and spent most of it YMing anyone who's island that I was in HK) with a connecting flight to Bahrain, which had one stop in Dubai, pausing there for not more than an hour, and after 3 sets of full airline meals plus 2 sets of refreshments, and chatting with at least 6 fellow travellers, I finally arrive in Bahrain.

It's about 7 in the morning. Bahrain is cold. Colder than I expected.

But there is barely any time to meander. I had to get to work that same day if I wanted to be oriented with the job. Elsie, my referrer and supposedly direct superior would be leaving for a 2-month vacation back in Pinaz.

I have definitely arrived in Bahrain.


The Cha-Cha Train is Moving (Again)

Big Mike and GMA, and their legions of toadies and bootlickers have yet again greased the tracks for the Cha-Cha train. WTF.

There's always legit reasons for the constitutional amendments but this most definitely smells like Gloria-Forever Complex.

Here's some interesting reads on the latest chachacha crap:
The Black and White Movement's press statement (below) is like a gubang plaka already. But the people's fight must match and even top the persistence of these power-hungry monsters.


We all have to link and expand our ranks till the entire country is bound together with the strength and the ardor of our resolve. I do not exaggerate when I say this could be our last chance to save democracy in the Philippines. The darkness thickens and we have to move. - Joaquin "Chino" Roces, 1985

"Laws can embody standards; governments can enforce laws--but the final task is not a task for government. It is a task for each and every one of us. Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted--when we tolerate what we know to be wrong--when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy, or too frightened-- when we fail to speak up and speak out--we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice." - Bobby Kennedy


UP I went. DOWN I go. UP I'm going.

Sometimes, I feel that I didn't go to UP. At all.

I have these memories walking down the AS steps, lurking in the Main Lib, falling in line for a ticket at the FC, waking up in my Kalayaan Dorm room, riding the IKOT and all. But were they real? Or sheer dreams, memories from a distant past life. Blurry. Sepia-toned. Imaginings.

But that one year. One mere year. I'm holding on to it.


And the hard work begins...

My faith in the United States of America is renewed. I've always told myself and my friends, before this historic day, that an Obama win, a win for a black man, despite his popularity (and though I rooted for him), is still incredible, and I'd believe it when I see it. And now it's here. It is done. Barack Obama has now been elected the first African American President of the United States of America. Watching his speech earlier, with the thousands in Grant Park, Chicago, I, too, cried in elation with the American people. (Rare, because I didn't with 9/11.) I'm just feeling it. =)

I know that this win'll be good for the rest of the world, too. I think it's more symbolic still, Obama, after all, that's still USA, they're still Americans, but if this guy follows through, if this USA follows through, there is hope for the world, too. I'll sure be watching out for Obama and will follow his leadership especially in his commitments to ending world poverty, and many other global issues that the USA has so much role on.

Gobama. Gomerica. Goworld.


Quantum of Solace

Here's something that I've been writing in the past few days, in lyric form. A study of a lyric my rock-star-wannabe friends have been soliciting from me for their rock band. If I had some musical knowledge (notes, g-clef's and stuff?), I'd probably pen the song myself. That's my excuse.

What's your excuse?

I got car-bombed in Islamabad
Hijacked in the Horn of Africa
Waylaid in Bosnia-Herzegovina
Mugged in the streets of Manhattan

Hey, you!
What's your excuse?
What's your excuse?
I want to hear
Your excuse, your excuse

What happened to whatever?
Saving the world together
Never mind the weather
What happened to forever?

Did you
Strike it rich in Congo?
Hitch a prince in Sao Paolo?
Reach Nirvana in Reno?
Find peace in Kosovo?

Hey, you!
What's your excuse?
What's your excuse?
I want to hear
Your excuse, your excuse

What happened to whatever?
Saving the world together
Never mind the weather
What happened to forever?

What happened to whatever?
Saving the world together
Never mind the weather
What happened to forever?



Re-reading The God of Small Things. No matter how many times. Still pierces, deep, to the heart, to the spirit, to the soul just the same. As it did, the first time. The pain just clings, stays, lingers. And you become Rahel. Estha. Ammu. Velutha. Those small things. That God.


While I Was In China

I tried to take a picture of myself everyday. Ala 360. Some days it didn't happen. Here are the days that it did.


Ultimate Death Race a.k.a. the US Presidential Elections of 2008

Not yet fully sobered up from the feverish events of the Democratic Convention flashing on and off CNN, Hillary’s super wide grin and hashish-happy eyes, Bill’s sagging eye bags, Michelle Obama’s scary ultra-thin arched brows, those crazy Democrat hats, Biden's over-enthusiastic wife, the awkward voice expelled from an equally awkward wiry frame that is Barack Obama (don't they have the same stretched jaws, Michelle and him?), the next president of the United States of America, says the Democrats, overjoyed, welling up, in tears, rolling over a sea of CHANGE, scored by all-American rock anthems, topped with fireworks many times inferior to the Bird’s Nest’s, wherein all the while I was like: you better keep the promise, America, did you not have that same passion with Gore, only to end up with GW Bush, and not once, but twice? it's just too incredible, this possibility of a first black US President, I honestly wouldn’t be too hasty on believing it not until it actually happens and then: why don’t we have that same fervor around here, why can’t our politicians be believable enough? why won’t I ever believe in any of them? my thoughts moving on to how logical the US two-(major)-party political system is, how it made the choosing easier, one is this, the other’s that, stereotypes notwithstanding, the only two groups that have that sort of dynamics here are the National Democrats and the Social Democrats, and yet, their difference is little known, to the Pinoy masa and the rich alike – the wrinkly-white-leathery skinned, cattle-necked McCain came to steal the limelight not a day after the Democratic jubilation, proudly unveiling his running mate: a gorgeous semi-precious all-American, gun-toting white Republican, accomplished politician, the Governor of Alaska, five kids, beautiful blonde family, decent working class roots, and wait – a female? OMG! The Republicans apparently want to make history, too. First black President? Far out! First woman VP? Why the hell not? John McCain must be saying: here’s for disrespecting an old man, Barack. And the Democrats must be going: why, you didn’t even let us wallow in our post-convention euphoria, dang! before scrambling on to dig for the bag of bones of this squeaky clean youngish mother of five, the youngest, born just this April, whose eldest son enlisted for the US Army and will be deployed to Iraq this September, Journalism graduate, daughter to public school teachers – exactly what the aging, pretty well-off traditional politician image of John McCain isn't. The game just got even more exciting.

It is nasty behind and even at the fore, of course. The USA is great but it is greatly hated and with reason. Friends would have this discussion all night, ranting and raging on the US aggression, hypocrisy and what-not.

But it sure is putting on this greatly twisted epic drama for the world to watch in splendor – or horror.


'Got Lucky! 'Got published! 'Got a $100 bucks!

At first, I couldn't believe it! When the JPG Team emailed me that the photo I submitted for the street fashion theme is getting published!!! But then, seeing is believing!!!

And see, I received the hundred-dollar check today! Yahoo!

No doubt, today is a lucky day!


Sandugo 2008 is History

(photo by: Ryan Macalandag)

The Sandugo Street Dancing 2008 is now history. Although, organizers repeatedly said this year's was just an exhibition, and not a competition, still, special prizes had to be given out.

Here's the list of winners:

3 Major Awards (all 3, said to be of equal standing, received P50,000 + trophy)
1. Best in Street Dancing - Jagna
2. Best in Field Performance - Maribojoc
3. Best in Production Design - Pamilacan Island, Baclayon

Minor Awards (P20,000 + trophy)
1. Most Creative - Catigbian National High School
2. Most Lively - Carmen
3. Best in Costume - Dr. Cecilio Putong National High School
4. Best in Instrumentation - University of Bohol
5. Best in Overall Impact - Catigbian National High School

Heard at the Sandugo Street Dancing scene:
1. The whole thing was so mismanaged. Started 2 hours late. The whole event dragged on like the train of a drag queen's gown...
2. Organizer, Carmen Gatal was seen driving in and out of the streets while the street dancing went on, supervising the whole hoopla... Comment: she should've at least a driver. The hands-on operation is not admirable, this time. Further comment: Delegate. Delegate.
3. What the hell was Pichay doing there? Yah, that guy that didn't get planted in the Senate. GMO man gud.
4. The Pamilacan Island Contingent sponsored by philanthropist Bea Zobel c/o Globe: Overrated? You tell me.
5. No Sandugo Oracles this time. But apparently it was still there. They just moved to this island known for their cute dolphins.
6. No show Aumentado? No show Chatto, Jala, Cajes? What's the drama? Grabe na pud. All for Gloria's SONA. Bahh. They could've still caught the Cebu-Manila flight, no? Tsk...
7. Why don't we celebrate Sandugo every 3 or 4 years to coincide with the TBTK since we seem to be saving all the fun for that one overrated event? Hmm...
8. The Araneta duo emcees were biting! They dripped with sarcasm all over. Did they have to mention that hunchback joke? So unchristian. So unchristian. Maybe because they do it every year? Time to retire? Or shift to a career in stand-up comedy.
9. The program was really an anarchy. No one seemed to be manning the whole thing. No director in sight. No stage managers in sight. Haayyy...
10. If Sandugo 2007 was anemic, what of 2008? I don't even want to know.


WALK OUT, the Documentary

5 Minute Documentary on the commercialization of Philippine State Tertiary Education.

Produced by: Mick Basa

Jeffrey Tupas / PDI
Nisa Opalla / Atenews
Makpil Camacho / UP Min
Moslemen Macarambon Jr / http://www.ympn.org
Karlos Manlupig / LFS


"Kalayaan" by Noel Cabangon
"Mag-aaral" by Musikangbayan

This documentary was presented to Ms. Gemima Galang, instructor: Principles of Writing for TV (MC 104). Mass Communication program, Ateneo de Davao University


Of Sunburns, Snorkeling and Finding Nemo

Snorkeling in Balicasag Island, Panglao, Bohol

Unbelievable. They look straight at you, doe-eyed and incredibly cute, you can’t help but stare back as intently, as adorably. Clown fishes.

Clown fishes by their writhing anemone. They have to be the most adorable sea creatures ever. And very brave, too, they don’t dart away at the site of mere humans. I couldn’t believe I met them, just then. And there. At a beach whose coral reef was previously unheard of (at least by me). Punta Cruz Beach in Maribojoc, Bohol isn’t exactly the best beach in Bohol. There’s barely any sand, the seashore’s rocky with the kind that maims, and it’s dotted with sea urchins, huge sea urchins. The place is flocked with locals and tourists alike because of the centuries-old triangle-planned stone watchtower, Punta Cruz. And it’s not as crowded as the ones in Panglao. It still has the rustic feel about it.

Punta Cruz, Maribojoc, Bohol

Anyway, it was only the second time in a year that I actually swam in seawater. Going to the beach for me mostly meant just hanging out with friends, enjoying the view, picnicking, stuff other than swimming. The first time was the previous weekend in Panggangan Island, Calape, Bohol. I swam because it would be my first time to actually snorkel. I decided to snorkel because it was about time I did. And I was so glad I did, at last. I was even thinking, why the heck didn’t I do this way, way before?

Panggangan Island, Calape, Bohol

Okay, I know why. One, I don’t know how to swim. I previously thought that you had to go into the deep to actually see the beautiful fishes and corals. Not exactly. In Punta Cruz, the feeling was intimate, the coral reef was only a few meters from the shore and the water was just about chest deep.

I got a new 'skin-pa-lang-damit-na' top

Two, I only then realized? My skin burned too fast. So maybe I was a little too carried away, swimming with all the lovely fishes of a heady assortment, blue ones, those striped black and yellow, clown fishes (turns out I only knew so little fishes) that I exposed my back too long under the seething sun. The result? The nastiest sunburn mark ever, brutally slapped on my back.

Balicasag Island, Panglao, Bohol

Three, I don’t know how to swim. Okay. So, apparently, I could still snorkel in the deeper parts with the life vest on. I learned this, in fact, the following week, when another opportunity to go swimming and snorkeling presented itself, I again grabbed it. And at the famous dive site, Balicasag Island too, southwest off Panglao Island. (And this time, with a GoPro Hero, first roll of film inside, strapped to my wrist.)That was my first time, too, actually swimming in the deep. The place was trenched, we were just at the border between the not so deep (where the bottom of the sea is still visible) and the deep deep (where the water is so endlessly bluuuueeee, like seeing in the dark only it’s blue not black, it’s scaaarrrry). It was a wonderful experience. Not as intimate as the Punta Cruz snorkel but more breathtaking, spine-tingling, thrilling. It actually felt like I just conquered something really big after that swim. I again found Nemo, bigger and bolder. More corals and fishes. And a huge shiny swirl of jack fishes, the stuff that you only see on TV.

Next stop: Pamilacan Island, Baclayon, Bohol

Four, I’m really not as adventurous as one would think. But all this, is gonna change. I’m going scuba diving this weekend – not!

Of course I don’t have the moolah to do that, not just yet, moreso, the guts. One step, or one stroke, at a time, I guess. And my skin hasn’t recovered yet. Though ultimately, I don’t think sunburns would matter much any more. (We again went to the beach, in Manga this city, last Sunday, making it the fourth in a row, but remnants of Frank’s powers were still there, the sea wasn’t just as charming that time.) But if come weekend, the beach would again summon me? I don’t think I can say no any longer. Snorkel set in one hand, sunscreen lotion on the other, lord of the seas, here I come!

Sunset view from Tagbilaran City


Yes, We Can!

This is an awesome video of an awesome song inspired from an awesome speech. I wish we had as riveting politicians. I would readily create a video like this for him or her. I still believe that it is quite incredible for the US of A to have a colored President, but I'm willing to rethink my view. Obama just might can.


The Dead

I discovered this ages ago and am rediscovering it after a recent death in the family. Very poignant.


We Let Her Die

May 1. Late afternoon. I was awoken by my sister Eden's squealish cry which only meant one thing - Honey died.

Honey is the daughter of a cousin. Honey was 12 and was living at my sister's. Honey's been admitted at the government hospital since Sunday, of a platelet disease, ITP. She's been transfused with nearly 20 bags of blood in the last three days. And watching her lifeless body at her hospital bed, her face and body, bruised and blood-streaked, the rejected gallon-ful of deep-crimson blood nearby, her mother's distressing cry, infectious, tears started streaming down my cheeks.

My first thought: we let her die. It was true. We did.

And now, we drown ourselves in our own tears.