Thursday, April 29, 2010

Making sense of common sense

I was watching ANC last night. They had Guido Delgado, the mastermind behind the second "psychiatric report" that allegedly confirmed that presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino sought psychological help in 1979.

I was appalled by this guy. I will not elaborate on the TV interview, but he kept on emphasizing that he was doing it because HE LOVES THIS COUNTRY! Sanamagan. Who doesn't? It's like, if we are campaigning for Noynoy, we don't love this country? This guy is really an idiot! Damn him! It's like - well if you don't vote for Villar and you vote for Noynoy and don't believe that Noynoy has a psychological history then you don't love the Philippines? I didn't see the logic there.

A couple of minutes later, Adel Tamano (whose picture is on this blog), who is running for senator under Villar's banner came on the air to belie the claims of Delgado.

First, it was not true that the NP had allowed Delgado to speak and that they were admonishing Delgado's claims and were disappointed and angry at what Delgado did.

Second, it sent a wrong message home and was destructive to the image of the Nationalista Party.

Finally, which is what caught my attention, was the statement that Atty. Tamano made - that we should rise above all this mudslinging and below the belt tactics and learn to campaign more intelligently. Based on platforms, agenda and what the person is capable of delivering. Not based on hodge-podge hearsays or character assassination or black propaganda.

In the words of Tamano - “To be very honest, I am really so tired. Pinapahirapan nila yung trabaho ko. I joined the NP I was hoping I would be talking about yung vision namin for the country. That’s what I wanted to do as spokesman pero hindi. Instead of doing that I’m on your show now defending this stupid tactic na ginawa ng isang NP supporter namin. Parang nakakahinayang eh. Nakakasama ng loob to tell you the truth.”

My goodness, now there's one guy I'm going to campaign for! For all the irony that the idiots who seem to be throwing tomatoes at the moon and stars, there's one guy who had a more intelligent perspective on what campaigning should be.

In a few days, we all troop to the polls to select the next president of the banana republic. Let's not cast our ballots based on feelings, or vested interests, or conflicts of interest, or what's in it for us, or how much promises these candidates will give. Let's base it on a rational assessment of their credentials.

This will be my last campaign pitch. Whoever you vote for, and I trust we all believe that we love this country, please make sure that you choose not for yourself. You need to give this country a chance. One final chance to show the world that we can be a cut above the rest. Can we just have a little sense for common sense or did we lose that somewhere in our campaigning for whom we want to vote for?

Remember, whoever we vote for, it will be six years. Six years of heaven, purgatory or more hell?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sino ang baliw?

I don't understand what's all the fuzz about Noynoy Aquino allegedly seeking psychiatric help for depression and melancholia when he was 19 years, then a student at the Ateneo de Manila.

If we are to believe the reports that Noynoy had suffered from depression and melancholia during the time that his father Ninoy was incarcerated during the Marcos regime, and that Noynoy apparently became depressed after each prison visit to his father, and that Noynoy had allegedly sought help for his depression - I think this speaks well of a man who knows how to seek help.

Depression can affect anyone.

When my father passed away, my mom did not take it well. She would have palpitations, headache, symptoms and feeling of suffering from a heart attack, and other somatiform disorders. She underwent various cardiovascular examinations and procedures. She saw the best doctors I knew. There were panic attacks in the middle of the night and I would rush her to the emergency room at least twice a week. After a year, I decided that she should see a psychiatrist.

It was initially a bout of anger. Did I think she was going insane? She would retort that there was nothing wrong with her. She was going to be fine. Then we would all wake up in the middle of night, hear her crying alone, hugging me, then wanting to go to the emergency room. When I explained that sometimes some of the symptoms we feel are actually because the mind is more powerful than the body, she denied that she was losing her mind. To offer reassurance, I said that she was not losing her mind. She was lonely, depressed, and sad. And it was perfectly fine. These things happen. We cannot all have perfect lives. But we need to talk to someone.

And medicines will help us on the path to recovery.

It has been 15 years since Tatay passed away and 13 1/2 years since my mom last saw a psychiatrist. I applaud her for doing the best thing - seeking help.

Only intelligent people seek help when they need to. And there is nothing wrong with someone seeking psychiatric help for various reasons.

It is not only depression with melancholic features that is a psychiatric disorder.

If you go through the whole DSM IV-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental DIsorders, 4th edition, Text Revision), you may consider that probably 7 out of 10 people fall within these various categories. For example, Conduct Disorder is considered in the textbook. I see kids who fulfill the criteria for this disorder and let the parents know. But of course, the parents will always say they have normal kids and that they don't need to see a shrink even if their son/daughter has "deliberately engaged in fire setting with the intention of causing serious damage". Sure. Fine. Whatever. So why bring the kid to my clinic? "Para pagalitan nyo doctor at sabihin huwag ng uulitin" (So that you can castigate him and tell him not to do it again). Duh??

Addiction to nicotine and alcohol are psychiatric disorders. And so are sleepwalking, male erectile dysfunction, exhibitionism, pedophilia, voyeurism, vaginismus, gender identity disorder, female sexual arousal disorder, anorexia, feeding and eating disorders in infancy and childhood, enuresis, kleptomania, obsessive compulsive personalities, antisocial, maladaptive health behaviors, relational problems with siblings, child abuse and neglect, malingering...and I can actually go on and on and on and on.

So what am I trying to drive at?

First, people who need help, seek help. So what's so wrong with that? Seeing a psychiatrist does not mean that you are crazy. It is this kind of misconception that makes you wonder if these people who spread malicious mischief actually need to see a psychiatrist as well. Delusional with persecutory complexes!

Second is that people who go through traumatic events need to get help. Noynoy was a teenager at the time his father was incarcerated. It was difficult for him and his family to go through such tragic events. During those years, posttraumatic stress syndrome was not even in the DSM classification. Everything was simply lumped under depression. If he did get help, what was so wrong with that?

Thirdly, people who seek help with psychiatrists should not be stereotyped and mislabeled. Some seek help from friends or take drugs so forget their problems. Others seek professional help. You can see how misguided and uneducated regarding this matter the Filipinos are.

Finally, let's call a spade a spade. I have friends who tell me they don't like to vote for Noynoy because they don't like "abno" people. Or that they want some other crazy to become the next president.

I respect who you vote for. It's your vote. It's my right to campaign. And I will campaign intelligently, rationally and give people opinions on my choice. It's your right to campaign too. But stick to the issue. Who do you think will make a good president?

There is always a thin line between sanity and insanity that you and I tread. If you can't be intelligent about deciding on the next president, just roll over and die. This country would be better off without the other "crazies" (baliw) that have no reason for existence at all.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Random act of kindness

"An ice cream vendor was standing in the sweltering heat along the asphalt road, waiting for customers. While he was only 45, the ravages of poverty made him look more like 65. He was wearing slippers and an old pair of jeans on top of a paper thin t-shirt that looked like it had gone through several years of use. It was a stark contrast to have someone like him peddling his wares along an upscale neighborhood. He lazily rang the bell hoping to beckon more buyers.

A young boy, not more than 8 years old came up to the vendor and asked him how much one scoop of ice cream on a cone would cost.

P20, replied the vendor.

The young boy turned around and opened his small purse. He had only a P20 bill.

He asked the vendor, "and how much would a scoop of ice cream cost if it was served in a cup?"

The vendor flashed a grin, and said, "P18 young man."

"Alright, give me one scoop of ice cream", the young boy said.

The young boy gave him the money, the vendor gave him back P2 and the young boy quietly savored the ice cream.

The vendor was tired, and he wanted to move on because it seemed that it would not be a good day...again. He was still ringing the ice cream bell when the young man tapped his shoulder and said that he was done eating. He returned the plastic cup to the vendor and thanked him.

The vendor found it odd that the boy had stayed on to eat the ice cream and oddly returned the cup in the end. But maybe he had no one to play with, as the boy, who seemed to come from a well-to-do family went back to the high fenced gate of his home.

The vendor sighed and put the cup in the side trash of his cart and began to push his ice cream cart. "I guess that would be it for this neighborhood...", he mumbled.

As he was pushing the cart, he heard some clinking on the trash bin. He stopped to pick up the cup that the boy gave him and saw a small piece of paper and P2 coins that read...

"Thank you for the ice cream...this is your tip..."

It's not everyday that we share a random act of kindness.

For some of us, it is not present in our vocabulary. For others, it is an overflowing gesture.

But kindness is not asked for. It is spontaneously given, it is free , it is a gesture of love for neighbor, it is what makes the world a better place to live. Most importantly, it does not require anything in return. It should be paid forward.

I look at kids each day and have watched many of them grow. Believe me when I say that the majority grow into the mirror image of their parents. We mold them into what they become.

The first random act of kindness is never seen in adulthood. It is during childhood that we share our first act of kindness. I guess over the years, how life treats us is how we share our acts of kindness as adults.

I cannot tell you how or whom to share an act of kindness today to. It will always be your call. But this I firmly believe - look at the world through the eyes of a child. Not through your hurts, pains and frustrations. You will never see kindness here.

Look through the eyes of a child. No malice, no reservations, no frustrations, no pain and sorrow. Like a child who easily forgives, we need to let that we can share a random act of kindness each day of our lives.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ampatuan, Arroyo and Agra

Aside from the fact that these three people have the first letter of the alphabet (A) in common, they also have a common denominator - ass**le.

Ironically, I guess the Filipinos have been in a state of apathy for so long a time that they wouldn't care less about how these three idiots ran the whole justice system in this country.

The banana republic has received so much flak, not only with respect to the issue of graft and corruption, but to the issue on the kind of judicial system we run.

With the way things have been going for this country, it is not really a far-fetched idea that justice in the Philippines, has literally gone to the dogs.

The massacre in Maguindanao, a result of the dynasty-driven thoughts of our politically appointed and elected officials, is the perfect example of justice that has all gone awry in the country.

With Acting Justice Secretary Alberto Agra stepping into the foray and clearing both suspended Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan and Maguindanao Vice Gov. Akmad Ampatuan of complicity in the historical Maguindanao massacre, the public outrage over this decision has become the central topic in media.

Ironically, Agra is in a precarious position. He is both the solicitor general and acting justice secretary. This "dual designation" has been questioned by many lawyers and the Supreme Court has ordered Agra to explain why he "should not be removed as concurrent solicitor general for supposed violation of the law against holding multiple positions in government." Noted is the fact that in the 1987 Administrative Code, the Office of the Solicitor General and the Department of Justice should be "independent" and "autonomous". Obviously, at the rate Agra is deciding on matters, it seems that he is part of the "clean up" team or as Malacanan would call it - "transition team" - when they finally burn all the skeletons in their closet before they dearly depart (hopefully they would).

It is not surprising that Bishop Oscar Cruz has called Agra simply a 'clerk' and that his 'boss' is allegedly behind all of Agra's decision. Of course, Malacanan in the statement of Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza is that "Ms. Arroyo always respects the decision of department secretaries because she considers their own expertise and their own competence on their own field of interest."

And what, pray tell, did Mendoza mean by that? This nincompoop comes up with such a pathetic excuse as this. He is passing the buck back and forth, when we all know that when GMA becomes incensed with decisions of department secretaries not to her liking, she finds a way to replace them, just as she had done with those that do not espouse her kind of thinking, in the past. Somebody should slap Mendoza to keep him awake.

I have a strange feeling that most (if not all), the spokespeople of GMA are always high on drugs. They are incoherent, poorly knowledgeable, and if you put them actually in a corporate environment, these are the kind of people that would be the security guards at the doorstep of your office. They're only good for getting you your cup of coffee for the day. All of GMAs allies should undergo drug testing every week to check what kind of drug they are getting. Dang these people!

The sad part is that as a people, we have become so callused about the events that we refuse to budge from our seats.

A friend once told me that I should not be too vocal about what I feel, especially against the government.

I retorted - what is there to fear? It's not that I'm like Miriam Defensor-Santiago that I would be willing to eat bullets for breakfast. I am just angry at what is going on. And if you don't feel as much anger, at least feel as much pain as the people whose families were buried, all in the name of money and politics.

And that's the problem with this country.

As long as your kids are going to school and no one is hurting them, as long as you're earning relatively well and have a roof over your head, as long as you can afford to have some simple pleasures in life, then it's okay. Other people's problems are not yours.

That's where I disagree.

I wouldn't give a sh*t if GMA read this piece and feels offended. And I guess she wouldn't give a sh*t as well to what I feel.

But you can tell that this is the very reason why there is so much pain among our countrymen. The poor do not get the opportunities as those who have money. Or those who are in power. Corruption and greed is the very reason why this government thrives and why we have so many politicians who kill to stay in power.

And many of us wallow in our own world, not even caring about so much indignation, except being a spectator the the scene. It is not only when such hideous crime occurs in our own backyard are we willing to move. And we expect to get sympathy when once upon a time we refused to give sympathy.

The world is a circle...

When the very figure head of this country allows this kind of travesty, whether that decision is an individual's decision or not, you know that this country is doomed. A good commander-in-chief will always be one who is willing to be the captain of the ship. Steer the ship through a storm. Be accountable. And in the chain of command, be answerable to the sins of all her cabinet members.

The mere fact that Malacanan is giving us the run around and passing the buck back to the sacrificial lamb, just goes to show you the kind of president we have had in the last 9 years.

A few days from now, we will troop to the polls to choose our next president.

It is with fervent happiness that I look forward to see the little rat finally step down from her beloved throne.

It is with fervent desire that I pray that we make the right choice in electing the next president and other public officials who shall help steer this sinking ship in a different direction.

Never in the history of Philippine elections have the people become more involved in the campaign for the next president and other public officials, as this coming May 10, 2010 elections.

As to whom and how we vote will be the final shining moment when we come together as a nation, to save a country, and provide Filipinos hope for a better future.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Changing Lanes

There comes a time in your life when you need to make a difficult decision.

Someone once asked me, if I am happy with my life.

It took me quite some time to figure out the answer to the question.

My mind was playing with deductive reasoning. Is happiness and contentment the same?

Arguably, one can be contented but not necessarily happy. But does being happy mean that it's tantamount to contentment?

There have been several situations where I needed to decide on matter like these.

For many of us, who have done the same thing over and over again, I believe that we probably don't move out of that comfort zone - not because we are happy about it, rather, we are contented with what we have or where we are. So to put it, we refuse to rock the boat.

Work is one example. Career change when one reaches the age of say, 50 is a definite no no. But I know many people who have shifted from one profession to another, in the hope of finding better opportunities for themselves and their families. Doctors who decide to give up their practice to become nurses because of better financial opportunities in a foreign land.

I am a Mathematics major but my career shift to a medical degree and eventually to a subspecialty that probably has no career in a developing country like ours except in the academe was the highlight of my first lane change. When I had the opportunity to join a multinational pharmaceutical company, I was initially nervous. Was it going to be the right choice? What happens if I don't make it in the corporate world? At 48, this probably would have a devastating impact on my life if I failed. After 23 years with the academe, was it the wrong time or was midlife crisis sinking in?

I probably needed to push myself to see what I can do with my life. Contentment was not going to be an issue. I needed to be happy.

I have moved forward and never looked back since my decision to retire with the academe.

I still meet my students, friends, colleagues, and even teachers.

While there are still conversations on my leaving the teaching career and joining the corporate world, I have settled in nicely with this new found challenge.

Found new acquaintances. New colleagues. New friends. And yes, new teachers.

Even in relationships, the concept of changing lanes is applicable. Do we hold on to a relationship because we are contented or because we are truly happy? If we are simply contented because the relationship provides us a security blanket for some reason or another, are we holding on because of this or because the other partner makes you feel special, makes you feel real, makes you feel wanted, makes you feel important as well? Are you real partners in the relationship, or is it a one way street that you're traveling?

Believe me when I say that, the thought of changing lanes is scary. It takes a lot of courage to move from one busy lane to another. A piece of us just dies a little, only to make another part of us better and feel alive.

Just like a highway, you need to go with the flow you have chosen. You cannot keep changing lanes just because you want to go with the tide. You'll end up in circles and eventually get nowhere.

Or always back to square one. And end up being miserable all your life.

Remember, the final destination should take you home - to being happy.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


For someone of the stature of Manny V. Pangilinan, the imbroglio of his "plagiarized" speech delivered at the Ateneo de Manila drew front page attention to the local newspapers. Then it became the talk of the blogsites.

So why MVP? No one ever scrutinized the speeches of GMA. It would be some watered down "pat on her back" sort of speech about how great a job she did. No other speeches actually came close to being dissected line by line as MVPs speech.

I guess it's because MVP is envied at. He has not only become a household name for the rich, the famous and the oligarchs but an icon in the business circle as well.

He has built an empire, with his company owning real estate properties mainly at The Fort, major shares in utilities (PLDT and Meralco), tollways, TV station, hospitals, universities...and the list goes on and on and on.

During the last graduation rites at the Ateneo, he received an honorary doctorate degree from the university, and gave a, well, resounding inspirational speech.

A few days later, what supposedly was a great speech, turned out to have certain portions of it "plagiarized".

The it got posted in Facebook. Then it was all over the news. For some media sectors, it took it to the extreme of deserving an editorial for the controversy.

My hats off, however, to MVP, who apologized sincerely for this dilemma as it was his speechwriters who had written it. Instead of naming the speechwriters, he took the blame. He submitted his letter of resignation as chair of the board of trustees of the Ateneo.

Strangely, the Ateneo board rushed to "put out the smoke". It decided that the Ateneo would reject his resignation. What followed in the days to come was an exchange of mudslinging from those who thought that the resignation should have just been accepted. There was talk that the board rejected the resignation because of the influence and "charitable" coffers of Mr. MVP. Most of the students and faculty at the Ateneo were being ridiculed at the board's decision. But understandably, the prestige of having MVP at the helm of the Ateneo would be lost if MVP would not be chair any longer.

Former Ateneo basketball star and heart throb Chris Tiu even went on to the extreme of trying to salvage what was left of Ateneo's pride by defending the plagiarized speech of MVP. Tiu, too, received disconcerting comments about his position regarding the issue. Tiu was asking for sympathy and understanding and even likened the scenario to Jesus Christ's plight. Idiotic? No - stupid! For all the accolades Tiu had garnered, his thoughts on the matter spelled the kind of breeding the Ateneo had raised him. It was all about fame and fortune.

MVP finally put an end to it by saying that his resignation was irrevocable. That he was returning his honorary doctorate degree. And that he was sorry that he got everyone into this mess. And that he needed to put closure into this. And that we all needed to move on.

And any way I look at it, I just thought that what MVP did was an honorable thing.

A man of his stature in all humility had to accept fault and in defeat made the right decision. The Ateneo administration should accept this. So should its alumni. After all, it wasn't like it would be their ultimate demise. After this imbroglio, life does go on.

In reality, a man as busy and iconic as MVP does need a speech writer. But his speech writers should not try to impress themselves by claiming lines which they "borrowed". The latter, is called "referencing". Borrowed lines, should be cited and due credit should be given to who initially wrote and published it. It is, after all, an intellectual proprietary right.

That's where the rub is. His speechwriters had belittled the mental capacity of MVP and in the process of trying to earn points for themselves and probably their boss, had degraded the very person who puts food on their table.

I believe that at this point, MVP has gallantly made his own stand on the issue.

And this is where I am at awe with his decision. Even in defeat, he stands out as a hero to all. Apologize, return the gift, resign, and then move on.

If all leaders were like him, this would indeed be a better country.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hotel Lotte, Jeju Island - World's Best?

We arrived in Jeju Island an hour early.

Rainy and cold, we took the limousine bus (for 3900Won/person) because our limo was still in the hotel. That's what we get for arriving early.

Miraculously, when we stepped out of the airport with freezing weather of 9C, the bus was already ready to leave. Ala Amazing Race Part 2, off we ran and got into the warm comfort of the bus.

It was pitch dark on the streets on the way to our hotel.

Jeju Island is the resort island of South Korea. Situation about 300 miles away from Seoul, Jeju Island is a volcanic island and is the only self autonomous region of South Korea. Aside from the historical attractions that Jeju Island offers, it is the home to Daum Communications, South Korea's leading internet company and sole owner of Lycos. Similar to the Philippines, the Jeju islanders have their own dialect.

After arriving at the Hotel Lotte, touted to be the World's Best Hotel at around 10pm, our weary bodies could not take it anymore. The large hotel contains a Casino, a windmill backdrop, and a large duty free including an exclusive Louis Vuitton outlet. No photos allowed though.

Getting from the lobby to the room was a challenge. You'd need to go through the maze of rooms. Reception was on the 8th floor (which was the lobby) and needed to take the elevator DOWN to your room. It was quite a walk (around 5 minutes) and no help from the bellhops. They will show you to the corridor that leads to the elevators and you're on your own. This is fine if you travel light like I do.

The rooms were clean and though a bit old, still had modern amenities. The floors were heated (had separate heating controls from the airconditioning system) and the rooms were large, had private verandas and Korean wooden sliding doors to all areas in the room. The interiors were sparsely decorated which kept the simplicity of each room. Internet was available at 10,000Won (~10USD/30 mins). Swimming indoor in the heated pool was available at 25,000Won entrance fee, even for guests. Bottled water was 3000Won. Everything you did in the hotel required payment, aside from your room charges.

And because all the restaurants close at exactly 10pm, we had to order room service.

The 3 days meeting was fruitful and a great learning experience. Great camaraderie and the regional goals were set and addressed appropriately.

There are only 3 restuarants in the hotel - Japanese, Korean and Western. We were rotating breakfast, lunch and dinner among the 3. On the second day, I was about to faint from the food choices.

Because the weather was extremely cold and we had sunshine only on the second day of the meeting, plus the fact that the meetings ended almost near dinner time, we stayed in.

I attempted to do some shopping in the hotel's duty free on the day before my departure. Surprise surprise!!! You need to purchase the item before 330pm. You cannot purchase duty free items and pick it up there. You will need to pick it up at the international airport you intend to leave from (Busan, Incheon, Gimpo...whichever).

Unfortunately I did not join the group tour on the last day. I was headed for the airport for my trip back home.

On the last day, I left after the morning session for my very long journey back home. I caught the 1210 connection from Jeju direct into Incheon, arrived in Incheon at 100pm and had to wait for my flight back to Manila at 750pm.

So what else was there to do but shop shop shop shop and sleep!

The Asiana Airlines business class lounge while sprawling and clean and had good service had very limited food choices. Snacks were served as were drinks.

In spite of the long wait at the airport, the thought of finally coming home to warm (should I say hot) Manila was all I could think of.

Boarding was prompt. When we departed, the temperature at Seoul was 1C.

The plane touched down in Manila at exactly 1045pm. Manila temperature - 31C!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Asiana Airlines - Destination Korea!

On April 11, Sunday, I, together with some of my team, traveled to Jeju Island in South Korea. The trek began at 1:30pm when we left NAIA for our flight to Incheon Airport (Seoul). It was Marra's birthday that same day. I was thinking of how miserable it must be to be traveling or be away from your family on your birthday. But travel we must. And travel we did.

On board Asiana Airlines, the flight took us just about 3 hrs and 30 minutes. There's really nothing much to review about the Business Class on Asiana except for the fact that I did appreciate the ground personnel who made sure that I had no one seated beside me on the plane. It would have been a lean flight had it not been for a Korean boy band that filled up the business class section and their security that filled up two rows in the economy section.

As for the food, well, when they said steak on the menu I thought it would be a small slice. It ended up to be a big slab of meat!. (Okay, so I was looking at what the other person to my left was eating). And as authentic as I wanted it to get, I obviously chose the healthier meal - Bibimbap!!! The food was served with sterlilng silver utensils (sterling silver chopsticks). The dessert tray was a mixture of wine, cheese and fruits. And it took forever for them to clear the tables.

The movie choices were good, but since the AVID started about 30 minutes into the flight, I could only watch one movie and I'm glad I chose "Alvin and the Chipmunks, the Squeakel". I had a good laugh. The remaining 1 hour was nap time. While the seats fold in a lie flat position, I have never understood why some airlines (like Asiana, PAL, Delta....alright MOST!!) have seats that decline to 160-170 degrees position and say it's LIE FLAT! They lie that it's flat? I have never liked "lie flat" seats because it feels like I keep wanted to slip down. Since I have a lot of readers on my blog already, maybe someone can help me out on this. Why don't the airlines just fix these seats and have them positioned in a 180 degree angle when they say LIE FLAT?

Overall, the service was good. The food was good. The seats were okay. And Asiana was on time when we landed in cold and rainy Seoul at 545pm.

Immigration was a breeze. Unlike Hong Kong or Singapore or Bangkok where the queues are a mile long, it seemed that there were very few tourists arriving at the time we arrived. Our bags immediately spewed out of the conveyer belts when we had cleared customs and we were not ready to take the more tiring route.

After getting past immigration and customs, we went to the S roaming station where I had reserved a mobile phone prior to my getting to Korea. While my iPhone works in Korea and Japan, remember, it's really not wise to be calling from Korea or Japan to the Philippines using your mobile phone. It's about P125/minute of charges (around $2.50), while renting a phone in Korea or Japan would cost you USD1.00/minute. Texting to Manila from Korea or Japan on your mobile while roaming is around P25/text message (or around $0.60). I always tell my friends and relatives that when you're abroad, find out if the country has a prepaid sim card service AND how much their charges are. If they don't, find out how to rent a mobile phone when you get there. Believe me, it's a whole lot cheaper than roaming charges!!! I see a lot of people fighting with the Globe customer service officers because of their cursed roaming idiocy. If you don't know the charges for roaming, don't use it!

It took us less than 5 minutes to get my Korean mobile phone and we were all set.

We took the elevator to the train station and for 3400won, took the efficient A-Rex to Gimpo Airport, where most of the hour on the hour domestic flights were.

The efficient train system in Seoul leaves much room for improvement on the MRT-LRT system in Manila. In 30 minutes we were at the Gimpo Airport.

But this meant that there would be more walking (with our bags in tow). And more climbing (with our bags in tow). And check-in again.

Our next flight was scheduled at 830pm (for some strange reason, our travel agency I think has never been to Jeju nor to Seoul and underestimated the efficiency of the Koreans). We arrived at the Asiana counter at Gimpo at 710pm. Enough time for the next flight right?

Wrong!!! Too much time. Check in is 30 minutes before departure.

Lo and behold, the 730pm and 750pm flight from Gimpo to Jeju was still available. I asked the ground personnel if it would be okay and could we still make the 730 connection. She looked at her watch, said yes, then printed out 3 boarding passes, took our bags and like the Amazing Race, dashed to gate 17 in 5 minutes flat. Which meant that we were the last to board. And as we had settled down on our seats, the doors were closed.

Next stop - Jeju Island!

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Blind Side - Touchdown for the Heart

The Blind Side is a movie based on a true story about a boy Michael Oher (pronounced as Oar) who'd become one of America's best football player.

It was no ordinary story.

From a life of pure misery and poverty, no one would even expect that someone who had lived a battered life since birth would even be given a chance in this world.

The life of Michael Oher is clearly elaborated in the ending of the film. People like him just don't have the chance to make it in a world that is uncaring. Until a white couple, Leigh Anne and Sean Touhy decide to take the homeless young man under their care.

Leigh Anne is played by academy award winner Sandra Bullock and I can truly say that this is one movie she played her role well.

From a decrepit life, it is astounding that in the midst of all the bigotry and judgmental attitude people have, there are a few good people that see things differently.

On a cold, wet night, Leigh Anne and Sean's lives change overnight when they take Big Mike into their wings. Welcome him into their home. Treat him as a human being.

A human being.

It took one act of compassion to change a life. The day the Touhy's took Michael into their home, it changed their lives as well.

Isn't that what life is all about? How we treat others? How we see others not for what they superficially are, but for whatever good there is in them? And what good there is in the hearts of man, is what good we can expect man to return to others as well.

The film runs over 2 hours, but the excellently written script was inspiring and truly a great film that I recommend all should watch. Especially our children. Who during these most trying times become influenced by the sheer judgement one can simply make on other people.

Which reminds me on the recent news report on how three teenage girls in Massachusetts had bullied their 15 year old classmate. They had verbally abused her into committing suicide. Everyone knew about it. The teachers, the classmates, even the parents. And no one did anything about it. Until she took her life.

Life, is never a bed of roses to most of us. Not everyone is born with a silver spoon in the mouth so to speak or into a family that is well off. Many, if not most, have to strive harder to make it in this dog-eat-dog world. And fewer are those who are given second chances to shine.

The Blind Side is a simple story that shows you that if only one person would care enough to give people a second chance, we will see the good in others as well.

It's a must see movie, as it speaks from the heart. Bring your kids along. There is always a chance that they can be better people as well.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My turn

If there is something that I cannot stand, it's a coward.

And after the apology of Adam Carolla, it just goes to show that the guy has no balls at all.

You go on podcast and lambast a nation and it's icon, bitch about it and give your views and comments, and then you apologize? Watdfuk?!?!?!

Mr. Carolla, if you're going to be doing this, you should get a freaking life man! You shouldn't have even bothered to open your mouth on this issue and you can even take that sh*tty guy you were conversing with on your podcast up your ass and then defecate on the mountainous garbage in our alleys for all I care. The guy even sounded worst than an autistic kid who just kept saying amen to all the thrashing you were spewing!

Yeah man, yeah...hahaha...yeah know...yeah...hahaha...I'm with you man....

No balls! Damn these idiots who go on the air and blabber just for the sake of attention. Then apologize in the end as if it were going to go away. Never mind if you didn't apologize and stood by what you said. But noooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!! You didn't want to offend anyone in the end?!?!?! Sanamagan this American idiot!


How would Americans feels if I started lambasting someone like your venerated Tiger Woods or your president?

Like yeah, Woods was seen apologizing about his indiscretions on CNN today. The horny boy should have just shoved his thing into his mouth and shut up. He didn't even look really sorry for what he did. Sex addict! The guy is sick as hell and shouldn't even be on the golf course. He can take his golf clubs, shove it up his ass with all those golf balls. Woods has no more money! There! Gotcha! He needs the moolah and he's not coming back to the greens for his love of golf. It's a living and the guy after 45 days off the green comes back and says - I am sorry!

I've heard that line before. From our very own president! And now from you! Shi*ty excuses after committing serious offenses and then wow! You have the guts to apologize. Seriously, if you were as sincere as Woods, then you can eat my s*#t!

You were actually a virtual unknown in the Philippines until you opened your mouth.

Ironic is that some (or many) agreed with what you said. Even Filipinos.

Then you had a change of heart. Sanamagan.

It meant that you were either on drugs during that podcast or wanted to get some attention of which you needed badly because of a failing (or should I say failed) TV and media career. You weren't even much of a comedian. Loser!

A word of advice - think before you talk. Saying sorry or apologizing is a pathetic excuse for those who don't have brains.

It is true that we are entitled to our own opinion, you need to stand by it. Even if you cross the line. If you can't, shut up and just roll over and die. You would have done a favor to the world.

(Disclosure: This is a personal opinion. The conversation above is dedicated to Adam. Everyone else who is reading this are mere spectators of our conversation. You were all simply listening in!)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Pacquiao vs Carolla

This video clip was forwarded to me by a friend.

I suggest that you click on the video BEFORE you make a comment.

Listen to the conversation between some guy named Aaron and Adam Carolla about a proposed Pacquiao-Mayweather fight.

Then there is the bashing of Pacquiao about his idiosyncrasies when it comes to having a blood test done prior to his fight. Yup. We know all about that. And I agree with Adam about the yakkity yakkity lame dumb excuses of Pacquiao and his camp about blood extraction weakening him. Darn I don't even understand how it can do that. I mean, I'm a doctor, for God's sake. Pacquiao can take a head butt, get punched left and right. Have his face pummeled black and blue. And he won't let a needle get stuck into his body for a simple blood test. Watdfuk?!?!?!

Of course, you will get the sourpuss boxing afficionados and Pacman fans to side with the ultimate ubber-dumb excuse that Pacquiao belts out.


While I do not appreciate the bashing of Carolla, I think everyone, including Perez Hilton, should get a grasp on the scenario surrounding heroes and hero worship in the Philippines. The Philippines is a developing country. With all the graft and corruption that this country has, with all the poverty and the politicians stealing from the poor in this country, with all the scandals and shame this country has gone through because of our politicians, believe me when I say that in this country, even its dignity has been stripped away because we have sold it long time ago.

The showcase of OFWs being the knight in shining armor to the Philippine economy is actually pathetic. It just pictures the plight of the Filipinos and the exodus from this country has been detrimental to the image of the Filipino. But the government is rah-rah-rah cheering them on. For what? So that there is money in the coffers to steal! Dang!!! It's good if it trickles down to the average Juan de la Cruz. Nope. It goes to the government. So that they can wine, dine, and dance in opulence and squander the money that the average worker coughs up to these idiots!

Many Pinoys who grow up in other countries are even afraid or ashamed to recognize themselves as Filipinos because they are ostracized as a race. I have patients that migrate to other countries - their excuse? They want a better life for their children. That seals the coffin my friends. To them, there is no hope in the banana republic.

Which leads to the match up between Pacquiao and Carolla. No pun intended, but based on the podcast, Carolla has scored some points over Pacquiao. While I admire and respect Pacquiao as a boxing artist, a rags to riches star, an icon for Pinoy boxing, he is by no means a perfect role model for the Filipino people.

The likes of Pacquiao running for a seat in congress is akin to the role of Pinoy actors and actresses who peddle their popularity as the stepping stone to a career in government. Sanamagan this country! Look at the election polls. Even the senatorial bets are as pathetic as it can get. Lapid who has not done a freaking thing while in public office still ranks number 9 among the candidates for senator in this banana republic.

And dynasties after dynasties are in the bandwagon running for seats in every nook and cranny of this republic. Daughter, sons, son-in-law, cousins, next of kin...darn even if their dog could run for public office, I'm sure these greedy public officials would even have them run for office!

Perhaps the Pinoys will not treat Carolla kindly when it comes to his bashing Pacquiao, a demigod to the standards of the average Pinoy.

But Pinoys have always been onion-skinned when it comes to a foreigner questioning his patriotism.

Get real! We have sold our pride a long time ago. We have stood by the sidelines watching corruption and greed turn this country to what it is today. There is no pride in our nation. We have had our chances to restore our dignity in each and every election, but it seems that we have turned a blind eye to each of these chances.

Adam Carolla was providing an opinion. The problem is, that while he demolishes Pacman to bits in this podcast, he lambasts the Filipino as a race as well. It may not be music to our ears, but it is a wake-up call.

There is another chance to redeem ourselves on May 10. Do we finally get a knock-out?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

3D and Clash of the Titans

Since 3D was introduced in the Philippines a few months back, I only had to opportunity to watch a movie in this format last night. So I blog about both the movie and watching movies in 3D.

Let's start with the 3D. Alright, so the glasses are cool. But after awhile, the 3D specs kept slipping off my face. Maybe it's because I was wearing it on top of my glasses? But I can't see without my glasses, so do I put the 3D shades on and remove my glasses? That's the major set-back! If you wear eyeglasses, this 3D thing is really bothersome if not annoying. Worst of all is that I wear progressive lenses. Which means that (1) yes I have presbyopia, and (2) I need to move my head when I focus on anything.

Does that mean that wearing glasses and watching 3D are incompatible? Yes and no.

When I was in Melbourne a few months ago, I had watched A Christmas Carol (Jim Carrey) in 3D but in IMax. Now that was 3D! The large (huge) screen was the perfect companion to 3D technology.

So I watched Clash of the Titans in 3D and this is my brief review.

Which goes to the point of having to pay P300 for a technology that is advanced and interesting, but is difficult to appreciate when you're watching the movie on a small screen, like the Alabang Town Center movie house (Cinema 3). Or other cinemas in town that boast of 3D technology, but have this small screen and the heads of the people right in front of you, which make it really annoying to appreciate the technology.

Was the movie good? On a scale of 1-10, I'd probably give it a 6.

First of all, for everyone familiar with Greek Mythology, this was as inaccurate as it got. I will not delve on the inaccuracies of the movie, but to name one is that Perseus eventually married Andromeda. So you can check the actual Greek Mythology and you'd see that his remake of the 1981 film was a loose version of the actual Greek myth of Perseus. The only factual part of the movie was that Perseus is historically responsible for beheading Medusa.

Of course, there was the fact that it had to be entertaining, so the story was adapted for the screen. In short, the visual and digital effects were very good. For that, I would give it a 10. It was not boring and was in fact a likeable adaptation.

Finally, the analogy of man being created by gods and the fact that gods expected to be venerated and that man turned against gods was and is true up to today. Hades, the god of the underworld is the equivalent of our Satan or the devil. The devil feeds on our fears and our human weaknesses. It is in this context that the film, understandably makes man realize that even in mythology, a greater being - both good and evil - remain conflicts of men. It is a battle not only between gods and man, but man's inner conflict of greed and salvation as well.

With that said, Clash of the Titans is worthily a good movie for entertainment purposes. But I wouldn't recommend watching it in 3D unless you're viewing it in IMax. The extra P150 you'd save should just go to the popcorn and sodas as perfect companions to watching these types of films.

Friday, April 2, 2010

'He sleeps in a storm'

I am reading the new book of Mitch Albom.

Author of Tuesdays with Morrie, Five People You Meet in Heaven and For One More Day, his latest novel Have a Little Faith was the perfect companion to the Lenten season.

I have read all of Albom's novels. And have a little faith is his best.

Perhaps, it has come at no better time when we come to grips with our faith. The conversation between Albom and his dying rabbi is an awakening to what inner faith many of us lack or what many of us lost.

Timely and moving are two words that best describe the 254 pages book that drove me to a deeper awareness of my humanity in this world.

The book begins with a task. The 82 year old rabbi has asked Albom to deliver a eulogy for him when the "reb" dies. Here, Albom seeks out to find, not only the sotry of life of the rabbi, but his life and many of those intertwined during his search for the right words that would fittingly describe one of the greatest eulogies.

The story spans 8 years between two men - the rabbi Albert Lewis and pastor Henry Covington. Their stories would cross paths in Albom's search for the words, and the meaning to life and happiness.

On page 93 is a short excerpt.

From a Sermon by the Reb, 1975:

"A man seeks employment on a farm. He hands his letter of recommendation to his new employer. It reads simply - 'he sleeps in a storm'.

"The owner is desperate for help, so he hires the man.

"Several weeks pass, and suddenly, in the middle of the night, a powerful storm rips through the valley.

"Awakened by the swirling rain and howling wind, the owner leaps out of bed. He calls for the new hired hand, but the man is sleeping soundly.

"So he dashes off to the barn. He sees, to his amazement, that the animals are secure with plenty of feed.

"He runs out to the field. He sees the bales of wheat have been bound and are wrapped in tarpaulins.

"He races to the silo. The doors are latched, and the grain is dry.

"And then he understands. 'He sleeps in a storm.'

"My friends, if we tend to the things that are important in life, if we are right with those we love and behave in line with our faith, our lives will not be cursed with the aching throb of unfulfilled business. Our words will always be sincere, our embraces will be tight. We will never wallow in the agony of 'I could have, I should have'. We can sleep in a storm.

"And when it's time, our good-byes will be complete."

There will always be stories of despair and inspiration. And Albom puts reality into perspective by putting meaning into having a little more faith. As the story draws to a close, Albom finds that the lives of two men from two different religions are paths that profoundly find something bigger than oneself.

Have a Little Faith
is a book about a life’s purpose; about losing belief and finding it again; about the divine spark inside us all. It is one man’s journey, but it is everyone’s story.