Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Las Pinas City and Manny Villar...why he shouldn't be president

Living in the south is one of the best place to be. Devoid of pollution, the urbane life in this metropolitan area which comprises Paranaque, Las Pinas and Muntinlupa is the enclave to many white collar workers as well as the rich and the famous.

When my family bought a lot year in Alabang over 30 years ago, this place was the answer to all the traffic snarls in Metropolitan Manila. As urban development beckoned, the area started getting congested. Once upon a time, there was no need for a Skyway. I would drive from my home to Makati in 10 minutes flat! And my Volkswagen Beetle, eventually a Brazilia and then Toyota Corolla Liftback, went through the South Luzon Expressway with a breeze.

Today, south of Manila is still rapidly developing with malls sprouting left and right with Ayala Alabang Town Center, Filinvest's Festival Mall, SM Southmall, SM Muntinlupa, SM Bicutan, SM Sucat and of course the Gokongwei's Robinson Starmall.

Our nifty cozy town suddenly boomed.

Which goes to part 1 of my blog.

Have you ever driven yourself from point A of Alabang Zapote road (which starts somewhere after the Filinvest Exit) to SM Southmall? Upon reaching the Las Pinas junction (which is somewhere in the BF Homes entrance) near Toyota Alabang, there is terror in your eyes as you try to traverse that long stretch. And I mean, you need to stretch your patience.

So what's all the traffic about in Las Pinas along this road?

Recently, the Las Pinas local government had declared that it was not implementing the MMDAs window for color coding. Which meant that if your plate number ended in a certain digit (1 or 2 for Monday), you cannot ply the road leading to Las Pinas. Those eager traffic enforcers, instead of manning the traffic spots are found in the middle of the road so that they can catch violators!

I have nothing against local governments that want to defy the MMDA rule. After all, they claim to know their city more than Bayani Fernando. I despise, however, local governments that seem NOT TO know where the real trouble spot is. So I am bashing at the Las Pinas local authorities and trying to hopefully point out to them that they should rethink their traffic scenario.

First are the jeepneys that ply Alabang Zapote road. Discipline is definitely NOT in their vocabulary. Being less educated (which is the pathetic reason provided) is NOT a reason to load and unload passengers anywhere they please. And there's this bus station right after the Shell Station there. I don't know who owns it, but it's definitely a no-no to load and unload passengers, specially on a tight road.

Then there are the people of Las Pinas who make a U-turn right in the middle of the road. Just because there is NO barrier on the middle road, should not give them the right to make a U-turn when and where they want. Mayor Nene Aguilar (who happens to be a relative of Manny Villar) must realize (if he has not yet, someone should knock some sense into him) that Las Pinas is one of those places where several subdivisions (almost found in every few hundred meters) abound. Those that live in the various subdivisions, particularly those coming from BF Homes Paranaque seem not to know the adage that "intersections should be kept open".

Of course, there's the market along the Alabang Zapote road right after SM Southmall. This is a nightmare market because of the mayhem that the sellers and buyers create. This wet market should be moved to another place where there is far access to the main road. Take for example the BF Homes Paranaque wet market where it is located right inside the subdivision!

There are also junk shops and car repair shops that lie right smack on the street. And the cars and public utility vehicles that want to have their cars repaired do so, right on the street. It's not like there is no car repair shop in the area. There's a very big one just right after Toyota Alabang and there are so many gas stations along the road.

These are actually the underlying factors that make the traffic along Alabang Zapote road in Las Pinas a living nightmare, a waste of gas and manpower, and the city government seems to be looking away. It's not the color coding scheme of the MMDA. That forms a miniscule of the traffic problem. And why punish the everyday citizen that actually pays taxes and makes this country run? Those jeepney drivers, bus drivers, small car repair shops, tricycle drivers, etc. DO NOT even pay taxes. Why the need to support their daily living? The answer lies in the election and the votes these people rake in.

If Las Pinas is what we will envision our country to be in 2010 when Manny Villar runs for president, then this country is doomed. His hometown is a perfect reflection of what this country should not be.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The gift(s)

Bubba had given me a beautiful 24K plated silverware for the dining table, a pair of Springfield slippers, some boxer underwear, and of course Strivectin for my wrinkles.

Mom had given me a Billabong surfer shorts, Oakley surfer shorts and a shirt from FCUK.

My sister and the kids had given me a Billabong shorts and a new gym bag.

All together, these were the gifts I got from my family and my partner.

More than the gifts, however, is the giver.

Which goes to the essence of Christmas. After all the gift giving and receiving, we wonder how this tradition of "exchanging" gifts actually started. As tradition has it, and as we celebrate Christmas, it's rites actually started at the birth of Jesus Christ over two millenia ago.

Christmas day was celebrated quietly over mass and dinner later that day. Over dinner we discussed why there was an "exchange" of gifts as a ritual for the Christmas season. It turns out that Christmas day is, after all, our other birthday. It's the day when Christ the Lord was born, symbolically as a human being - who had to grow up, live, suffer and die like many of us. In more ways than one, our God had sent His only son to become one of us. To be like us in all ways, except being sinful. And so the tradition lives on that we celebrate each Christmas day as the day when we were all born into this world sans all sins, like the child in the manger, innocent.

We exchange gifts to commemorate our birth into this world. At times good to us. At time being cruel. And beyond the gifts we receive is the giver of the gift. How much meaning we place into these, it is after all a season of giving. God so loved the world that He had given His only son to us. That some day, we may remember in our hearts the true meaning of Christmas.

Happy holidays everyone!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

My grown up Christmas List

7 days before Christmas and we're counting down...

I've not done any Christmas shopping except for a few loved ones and close friends. The other acquaintances, I've managed to get something that would be useful to them - a bucket of Chef Tony's designer popcorns with Privilege Passes from Ayala Cinemas (for the THX theaters) accompanying the gift!

What I cannot stand most of all are recycled gifts. You know. The ones that some of us get from last year's Christmas finds under the tree, which we have not used and decide to "recycle" them this year. Talk about modern day Scrooge! Hence, it has become a tradition of mine that I shall never give a gift that is not well thought of. No matter how simple the gift is, I put two things into perspective - use and practicality. Of course, at the very core of the gift is the thought and heart of gift giving.

So what do I want for Christmas? That's a question my friends always ask me.

1. The new MacBook Pro. But I have an old one...so I'm not spending for the new one until this old one bogs down or gets sequestered. Why do I want it? It's a beauty to behold...

2. A P100,000 shopping spree at Rustan's. I've been eyeing some jewelry and bags at Rustans and their Store Specialists, Inc., but I'm not willing to part with hard earned cash for "wants" and not "needs". There's a beautiful Bulgari ring and a swank new Prada bag that's for the buying...

3. A new SUV. Well...I've parted with my old CRV and the new Montero Sport is really sleeky! Then there's the new Audi A4 and the Volvo S40. Again, I'm not willing to flash a new car based on wants and not on needs. Besides, it's like throwing money down the drain.

It's a wish list. I don't expect anything. And at my age, I can still dream big...maybe someday...when I'm president of the Philippines....

Pinoy Betty la Fea

The comedy hit show Betty La Fea has been redone in the USA to the hit show Ugly Betty (with a twist) and in the Philippines to I Love Betty La Fea, starring our very own Bea Alonzo with Biogesic star, ahem, John Lloyd Cruz.

Of course in the cast are several local big stars to boot - Ruffa Gutierrez, Ai-Ai de las Alas, Gloria Romero, to name a few. While the story has drawn interest among the Western world, its local charm doesn't seem to fit in. For one, it should carry the Andrew E single "Humanap ka ng pangit" as its theme song. Another is the fact that this is one series that has soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much commercial endorsements. From Betty selling Clear Shampoo, to Betty taking 4G capsules, to the family of Betty drinking Coke in the special Christmas edition glass tumblers they're giving away, or Ai-Ai endorsing the Knorr special cube mixes...and the list goes on and on...

While the comedy series evokes some light moments, as a whole, one gets tired of so much commercial antics that it eventually loses itself in the advertisementology (pardon the coining of the word) of it all.

The original script writer should probably shoot the moguls at ABS-CBN for turning the series into a commercial run.

ABS-CBN should can the show - NOW!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

25 - The Homecoming

Next week, class '83 of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, University of Santo Tomas is celebrating their silver jubilee.

Like many silver jubilarians, it will be an austere event that everyone looks forward to. After a quarter of a century, you all gather "home" once again. From all walks of life, from various parts of the world where we have spread out after graduating 25 years ago from our alma mater, we will be back 'home' even for a brief moment.

The gathering will take place for 3 days, highlighted by the Mariano Alimurung Memorial Lecture, to be given by an esteemed colleague, Dr. Gregory Pastores, who has excelled in the field of medicine. Out of 400 graduates, one of us will deliver the lecture that emulates the outstanding physician from our batch in memory of one of the greatest doctor that the university has produced.

Aside from this academic exercise will be the various get-togethers which each section, and the jubilarians have prepared, as a whole. This will culminate in the grand ball at the Makati Shangrila. Every batch will be showing off each others talents, particularly in the field of dancing. I am not a ballroom "queen" so I opted to give a lecture during the postgraduate course instead.

More importantly, however, in this merriment is the fact that we will finally see each other again. Compare notes, exchange thoughts, dabble in rumor-mongering, flash our family pictures, and yup compare waistline sizes and facial sags.

For awhile, we will forget that we have all pushed to 50 in age and recall the days when we were all giggly medical students in search of the dream. For a while...we will all be 25 again in this homecoming...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Pacquiao - First!

Everyone saw the De La Hoya-Pacquiao fight last December 7 (Manila time). It was obviously a Pacquiao victory. It left the Philippine cs nhampion no scars and sent De La Hoya to the emergency room of the hospital.

I am not an avid fan of the boxing sport. To me, it is one of the most violent sport games and many men have died in the name of this "sport".

Today's newspapers had the whole face of Pacquiao splattered on the front page. The Philippine Daily Inquirer had the banner story "It's Christmas Day"! And the world of sports and entertainment became abuzz with probably the greatest Filipino fighter in the history of Philippine and world boxing.

I blog about Pacquiao today because he is the epitome of excellence which the Filipinos worldwide should emulate. From a scrawny kid to a boxing legend, this fight of Pacquiao has already put him in the annals of history. This is the kind of effort that every Filipino, particularly those in government, should put into their work ethics. The kind that would propel each Filipino in working at being number one.

Striving for excellence is a dedication that everyone should be committed to. In a concerted effort by every Filipino, the ideal YES WE CAN attitude can really be achieved.

And there is reason to celebrate Pacquiao winning. It proves that every Filipino can shine, can strive to be the best, can be FIRST! And it needs to start with "I". To make the "I" proud of his achievement and have the world cheer you on. It feels good to be an achiever. We need to stop looking at being last or second to the last or even second to the first. It's time to think about being number ONE!

If Ninoy is the modern day hero, Pacquiao should be the modern day idol. Lord knows we need more role models like him.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


So I've been traveling around lately.

I've never put too much pictures on the places I go to because I barely have the time to sight see. In spite of the fact that I do travel a lot (because of my line of work or the commitments I have), I make sure that I get the engagement done quickly and take the next flight back. Which leaves my body really battered.

Last week, I had the opportunity to go back to Bohol (been there, done that), and since it was a lunch lecture for the Bohol Medical Society, I took the 8AM flight on Philippine Airlines. We touched down at 910AM. When the welcoming party had asked me if I wanted to just rest, I instinctively said - NO. I wanted to take pictures with the tarsiers.

Bohol is one of the most beautiful islands in the Philippines. I've been to several provinces in the country and I can tell you that all the other wonders that the other countries claim are a far cry from what our country has to offer. The Filipinos have a penchant for getting a passport and traveling out of the Philippines. I've never understood this. I guess it's a Pinoy mentality - you haven't traveled if you don't get out of the Philippines. Pinoy travel is another blog story.

Getting back to Bohol, an island in the Visayan region surrounded by the most serene waters, Chocolate Hills, and yup, the endangered Tarsier monkeys (smallest in the world!).

They are a sight to watch and I wish I could take them home.

But they don't thrive in captivity. Trivia. The Tarsier is the world's smallest monkey. They are nocturnal primates and feed on crickets, arthropods, and other insects. They produce one offspring a year and the female Tarsier carries the baby in her womb for 9 months - just like humans. When taken off their breeding place, many of them commit suicide by self-strangulation (they stop breathing) and die. They cannot live without the company of other Tarsiers.

But the endangered species is just one of the reasons why Bohol is a must for visitors and citizens of this country.

I took the 510PM flight back to Manila and was surprised that the plane was half-filled with foreigners who seemed to have a great tan and had hands full of souvenirs! It's time that the Department of Tourism promote local tourism and offer large discounts for its citizens. After all, it's the best way to educate our kids in social studies.