Wednesday, December 28, 2011


This is my final blog for the year. My family and I are spending the New Year in Hong Kong. Away from the pollution in Metro Manila as the New Year blasts its way into town.

I have never been an avid fan of fireworks being blown up in our own home. I actually detest it considering the noise, pollution and garbage it makes after the fireworks in the village. I have never understood why the government has never ever controlled this practice of blowing up the "village" or the city. From what I understand, the Philippines is the only country left blowing up this darn third world nation.

The other day, while I was watching the news, I saw some reporters from ABS-CBN interviewing the multitude of revelers buying fireworks (and illegal ones at that) in Bocaue, Bulacan. While I also understand that Bocaue is the pyrotechnic capital of this country, I wouldn't give a sh*t if this type of business closed.

When some of the interviewees were asked why they insisted on buying pyrotechnics, they all have different and stupid answers. One said that because it is tradition (duh? whose tradition). Another said that they'll light some fireworks on behalf of the victims of Sendong (I wanted to blow up the guy's face right there). While another said that it's only once a year and that they have money to burn anyway (wrong answer - the guy must be a government official)!

There are more reasons on why individual household revelry using pyrotechnics should be banned forever in the Philippines.

For one, it causes damages insurmountable and of course, not repairable if one's health or limb is blown off. Or if a house burns down (or the whole sitio for that matter) because of some reckless idiot who decides to set off illegal fireworks.

Then there's the aftermath of pollution. We all know that climate change has contributed to the vast flooding and natural calamities and that pollution through this insane practice has been a factor. There's also so much garbage after the revelry that the dumpsites get overfilled with just the new year's trash. So much for going Green in the Philippines.

The government spends more money on having to contend with taking care of these miserable pathetic people who get injured in blasts. And when the government needs to take care of them, they're using our money from the taxes collected.

Finally, all these gunpowder can be amassed and used for terrorist activities. Talk about counter-terrorism. It begins by addressing this but the Philippine National Police and government cannot even eradicate this annual habit of individual household revelry.

And if that's not enough, it's also the season when idiots in this country fire their guns in the air to greet the new year! Year in and year out, there are casualties due to irresponsible gun owners (whether legal or illegal) firing their guns in the air?!?!!? Watdfuk are these idiots thinking?

It's about time we make the revelry a social affair. Each town or city is allocated to have ONE place (plaza or seaside or city hall) have the fireworks display for the New Year countdown. Let everyone enjoy the spectacle of greeting the new year in a more orderly, responsible and safe manner.

Happy New Year to all and have a safe one.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Gatherings

I heard several news this month on the passing on of some classmates back in high school and college. It reminded me of our mortality and how short life is and how we need to live it fully.

I rarely meet up with colleagues for reunions. It's not that I don't like reunions nor the company. It's because I don't have the time for it or that it conflicts with several of my already piled up appointments for the day.

This December, however, I did take the time to clear some of my calendars to accommodate two reunions.

The first was with some of my batch mates in my college days. We belonged to the class of 1979 for Bachelor of Science major in Mathematics at the College of Science at UST. We were a handful of mathematics majors. Truth be told, we were the best the college ever produced! Most of us are successful by industry standards and well, we've tried to make the most of our lives. While we're still all alive and well, some of us are doting grandparents already! Even if only a bunch of us were able to come to the reunion, hosted by the ever gracious Gigi Bautista-Rapadas (her dad Mr. Felix Bautista was an icon to recon with and I am truly honored to have been under his wings during our Varsitarian days) at her home. Myrna, who I missed during my trip to New York last October but flew in to Manila this month came to the reunion. Husband and wife Benjie and Beth Tan had come straight from work. Agnes took the time to be with us in spite of the distance traveled as well. I cut my clinic short that day, took the time to laugh, catch up with our life stories and uhmmmmm....make that special appearance with classmates from the past who never seemed to have aged a single day (okay so I exaggerated here a bit, but you've got to hand the fact that we all looked great). After 32 years, this was the first time I graced our reunion. And I enjoyed it!

A week ago, some of my co-residents during our residency training in Pediatrics at the UST Hospital had flown in from the US. Again, I missed the chance to be with them during my trip to Boston and New York two months because of "conflicts in schedule". I received a phone call from Gigi that Meg and Babes were going to be in town and could I join them for lunch? Because Gigi called me 2-3 days before the said event, I stared at my iPhone calendar in disbelief at the very short notice. I told her I'd get back immediately. At the mall that afternoon, I had bumped into Connie Paulino and told her of the "gathering". Connie was quick to affirm that she would attend. Period. Where, when and what time were the only questions she asked. Wow! If Connie could clear her calendar, then so could I. I told my secretaries to clear the Monday for me. Never mind if I had to reschedule some meetings but I was having lunch with my friends. At Chef Jessie at the Rockwell Towers, the five of us had huddled like we always did during our residency days. We told stories, swapped lives, looked back at how life during our training days were, talked about sex or the lack of it (LOL!!!) and yes, enjoyed the short time we could with one another.

That evening I had to cut my clinic short as well to go our Christmas Party for the Department of Pediatrics of Asian Hospital. Held at the Ayala Alabang Country Club and organized by my co-chair Bettina, the party (over pasta and pizza) turned out to be a lot of fun, with many of us letting our hair (or whatever is left of it) down and just simply having fun - like children,
once again!

In all the gatherings I attended, the thought that perhaps this would be someone's last get together dawned on me. We are, after all, not getting any younger. And somehow, the people in our past who are still with us today have taken our journey together. Our paths will cross, no matter how near or far, how long you've not seen each other, how well we've done (or not) in our careers, relationships and love life...and we need to be remembered somehow and we need to stay in touch to some degree.

It took these gatherings to remind me how good life has been and how precious friends are. Here's to all my friends out there! Cheers to life!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Lessons from Sendong

It was quiet in Manila that Saturday night. The rains just poured. In the southern part of the Philippines though, Tropical Depression Sendong was making landfall in Mindanao. This region of the Philippines rarely has typhoons or storms pass through it. But Mother Nature had other plans. It wasn't even a typhoon. It was just a storm. The rains poured all night. It caught the people in the area unprepared with the flash floods.

The morning after was as gloomy as the weather. Houses were washed away. Cars were thrown on rooftops. The water from the mountains had come raging into the cities. And by the time nature stood back to watch its wrath - bodies were coming in from the river basins. Now the death toll is over 1000 and still counting.

While many of Christiandom celebrate the coming of Christmas, one cannot help but empathize with the plight of the people ravaged by Sendong. The easiest answer to this is to blame Mother Nature or Global Warming. But one can never fathom the inexplicable reason answers to the question "why us"?

The pictures posted on the internet were too gory to even look at. When I caught sight of some of them, I could not hold back my tears. It was too painful, even for those with a hardened heart. With rescuers sifting through the decomposing bodies, people holding on to lifeless loved ones, and the total death toll passing over 1000 with hundreds still missing, one cannot help but look for someone to blame.

Whether you're Muslim or Christian, there is no god to blame in this equation. Whatever we have in this world, is so to speak - God-given. And while government will be quick to claim that natural calamity is unpredictable, let's face the fact that both local and national government authorities have actually been responsible for the devastations we experience from one calamity after another. In spite of the multitude of natural calamities that come our way year in and year out, we are NEVER EVER prepared for a disaster. Local government officials make money from government projects that are allocated for the improvement of the community. They undercut the budget so that one peso in one pocket is ten pesos in theirs. National government officials are either too dumb to see that or in connivance with their counterpart thieves in the local government. They tolerate, if not encourage, the crooked political machineries that churn their way using public funds for personal gains. They build their palatial homes in areas where not even high water or strong winds will blow their houses down. At the end of the day, it is we who bury our dead and they who celebrate with our money.

With all the pompous bravado of the Bureau of Internal Revenue running after businessmen and professionals, it becomes understandable why it is difficult for people to pay correct taxes knowing that those who pay their dues correctly actually don't reap the benefits of a legitimate collection. Had the taxes been put to good use, there should be no reason why natural calamities become our nemesis. And when Mother Nature reels its ugly head, we need to dig deeper into our pockets in order to help a community devastated from natural disaster that was caused by the local and national government officials who had no sense of foresight on improving their community so that disasters like these do not ever happen again.

But the Filipinos are a forgetful race. We have short-term memory losses. We forget the evils of a dictatorial government and elect their offsprings into office. We forget the evils of a cheater and back her up because she has been good to Bishops and Generals. We forget the evils of murderers that run in family clans all for the sake of greed. We easily forget because as a people, we are sad to say, masochists. We like the pain that is inflicted on us. Sadly put, we have no pride in our country and in ourselves. The only way we can run away from all these is to migrate and become OFWs or citizens of other countries - hoping to escape from a painful past and never to ever look back again.

Year in and year out, a natural calamity occurs - reminding us on how vulnerable we are. But our leaders never learn. Our people never learn. When the shanties are washed away by floods and they bury their dead, the shanties are rebuilt in the same exact place where peoples lives and limbs are at risk. And the local government looks away because these people living in the "esteros" are their voting population. Government officials will never attempt to find a place to relocate them. Trees in mountains in our provinces are denuded because of illegal businesses. Even pristine beaches are bastardized in the name of big business. And when one natural calamity comes, we watch and weep. Never mind the countless lives in the name of graft and corruption.

I am disheartened and angry at the scenario year in and year out on lives and properties lost senselessly because of greedy and corrupt government officials.

What will it take to awaken our senses? How intense a calamity will it take before the Filipinos learns its lessons from nature's wrath?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

How do you solve a problem like Manila?

It's the Christmas rush. What better place to be peeved than in the roads of Metro Manila. Ho ho ho!!! Even Santa Claus would have a nightmare trying to get Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph to land safely without having to smash through some squatters' shanty in Manila.

Yes my dear Virginia, there is no urban planning in the Philippines. I don't think there is a local government official that even has the brains or the balls to consider urban planning as his major platform in trying to make the city they govern liveable. As Filipinos, we reap what we sow and ho ho ho...a jolly joke to us all when we get caught in the nightmare of traffic (and this is all year round) or flooding (and this is scary because just a few raindrops and we're inundated) or fire (and this is not a laughing matter because most of the houses in the city are virtual fire traps), we point the blame at our government officials.

I decided to write this blog at the back of my car, while my driver is getting frustratingly irritated at the traffic in the Metro. In short, here are my unsolicited ideas on how to decrease the traffic in Metro Manila (or should I say, the Philippines):

1. Let's build a sky on EDSA! So the skyway has eased traffic going the south and north of the metro. Thanks to the skyway, but at whose expense? Obviously, it's the average Juan de la Cruz who forks out the costs on this short, but expensive skyway. As a matter of fact, traveling from Buendia to Alabang has been a breeze - takes less than 10 minutes if you take the skyway or 20 minutes if you take the at-grade road below. But you also spend $3.50 for the 16.5 km stretch (or about $0.21 or P9.00 per kilometer) - the most expensive toll fee in the world. But the toll ways is profitable - for both the government (because Kim Henares will not have to worry about tax collection any longer) and the private sector (because it's a one time investment for the builders and it's a one-armed slot machine money making venture all the way thereafter). Imagine - EDSA is about 24 km long. At $0.25 per kilometer they can charge $6 (P261.00) per way from the Heritage Hotel in Pasay City to Monumento in Caloocan City. My simple take is this - you can afford a car, you can afford to pay the road fees however extravagant they may be. The only thing here is where to put the skyway. Higher than the current MRT of course! This can be the next wonder of the world for the Philippines! We will look aesthetically the worst in the world but who the hell cares? It's the Philippines and we're third world anyway.

2. Paradigm shift for MMDA and traffic enforcers. It's about time these pathetic leeches who are inconsequential to the work force except for bribery techniques be vanquished from the face of EDSA or anywhere in the world. Instead of REALLY working to ease traffic congestion, these lackeys congregate with their peers (talk about the literal meaning of "highway robbers"). So here's the take - with the number coding scheme enforced in the Metro Manila area, the robbers...este just that...rob...este enforce the number coding. They run after the private cars. Even if the damn jeeps and buses and tricycles and pedicabs load and unload in prohibited zones AND IN FRONT OF THEIR VERY EYES, they turn a blind eye on this. It makes your blood boil when you see that the root cause of traffic is the fact that these supposed robbers...este enforcers are NOT doing their jobs. Like a horse with blinders on, they just look one way and steal the other way. They're practically busy chatting on the cellphone or texting to God knows who and scamper away when it rains like Gremlins afraid to multiply. What peeves me is that their bosses also turn a blind eye on this problem! NO MMDA HAS EVER ENFORCED DISCIPLINE IN ITS RANKS! For the very love of God - your president PNOY has the slogan - ANG TUWID NA DAAN! PUTANG INANG BAYAN ITO...ASAN ANG TUWID NA DAAN KUNG BALUKTOT ANG DAAN NG MGA LANGGAM? (tsk tsk tsk...lonely battle cry for PNoy). They can keep their jobs but REMOVE THE NUMBER CODING SCHEME so that they focus on what is essential.

3. Let's play KILL THE JAYWALKER. Fueled by the violence of video games, here's one in real life. Never mind the bleeding hearts of the people at the Commission on Human Rights - jaywalking is a crime! And punishable by law! I have never understood this country. We paint so many streets with pedestrian lanes, build so many elevated pedestrian walkways, seriously place barbed wires or high fences in the middle of the road so that these pesky jaywalkers use the right place to cross the streets YET they insist on crossing the road at the point of "most convenience". Never mind if they have to play tag with the oncoming ten-wheeler or if they have to jump over the wired fences (even if you place a high voltage wiring, I'm sure these idiots will find a way to get across them) - they're like the Nike advertisement - JUST DO IT! If you ran over them, it's still the drivers fault (they call it involuntary manslaughter due to reckless imprudence.) If the government came out with a law to the effect that "motorists who run over people that are caught jaywalking or who cross the streets in NON PEDESTRIAN lane zones will be rewarded accordingly: P100,000 for every senior citizen run over, P200,000 for all adults 18-59 years old, and P500,000 for everyone under 18 years old", I'm quite sure that NO ONE will jaywalk anymore. We can alway have a test case and see how that works. Let's just say "MAY PABUYA ANG NAGMAMANEHO PAG NAKASAGASA NG JAYWALKER!" Game ON!!!!

4. No additional public utility vehicles. I don't care if the jeepney is the national symbol of transportation in the Philippines. I don't even give a f*ck who Sarao is. But if there are public transportations I loathe, they are the jeepneys and tricycles. I don't also give a f*ck if the tricycle can house 30 people in one travel. I also don't give a sh*t about the jeepney being colorful and extraordinarily gay and rowdy! Finally, I don't give a damn if the jeepney drivers don't have a job because they don't have a jeep. My line of thinking is simple - jeepney, tricycle and pedicab drivers make up less than 0.5% of the workforce in this country. They don't pay taxes and they don't contribute to the growth of the Philippine economy. They violate so many traffic rules and regulations and are inconsequential in the life of the average Juan de la Cruz. The jeepneys they drive are major pollutants and they only bribe emission testing centers to make their pathetic tin can motored vehicles run on the road. There should be a project on the part of the government to decrease the life expectancy of these jeepneys. For example, in 2012 those jeepneys ending in plate numbers 1 and 2 will not be re-registered by the LTO any longer (like the K12 program by the DepEd). Then in 2013 those ending in plate numbers 3 and 4. In 2014 those ending in plate numbers 5 and 6 and so on and so forth until all the jeepneys are gone in 2016. And an accelerated program for tricycles - all ending in odd numbers will not be allowed to be re-registered in 2012 and all even numbers in 2013. And a full phase pullout of pedicabs in June 2012. Oh how wonderful and happy this country would be!!! Oh joy oh joy oh pure joy!!! There will no more chaos on the streets and road rage would be minimized. We can send the jeepney, tricycle and pedicab drivers to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kazhakstan, and whatever -tan you can think of!

5. Burn all the SM malls. I have nothing against the SM malls itself. While they cater mostly to the C, D and E class, they're also situated in the worst areas of the metro. They're right in the heart of the traffic choke points. These Henry Sy malls shouldn't even be in the areas where they are. This shopping complex is the perfect example of an urban planner that probably got his degree paying his way (or giving his teachers gifts just to pass) for good grades in college and was able to put up his business using grease money. Sanamagan! And they rise up faster than ants building a molehill. Let's face it, if you pulverize these SM malls (except the Mall of Asia) to the ground, traffic will cease by 30%. All local government units must be allowed only ONE SM MALL each. Which means that there should be only ONE SM MALL in Manila, ONE SM MALL in Alabang, ONE SM MALL in Las Pinas, etc. And all the SM Malls should be located inside a village. There should be NO direct access to the main roads. Kidding aside, when I asked a 7 year old patient of mine what the national park of the Philippines is, his answer was - SM! Ewan! I almost slapped the mother (who was terribly happy with the WRONG ANSWER of her son. And we wonder why they needed to add one more year of schooling to the grade school children. Sheesh...).

Come to think about it, the problem with traffic in the Philippines is not that is has NO urban planning. It's the fact that these little towns and cities are so politicized that they local government officials feel and think they have their own kingdoms and do as they wish. I guess even PNoy with his last remaining hurrah will not be able to solve a problem like Manila.

But I challenge PNoy and his cabinet of merry men. Instead of yakking on CJ Corona, please, do something that challenges even the smallest of balls or brains.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Mga echosera ng taon 2011!

The year is almost over. It's time for my annual countdown. Let's start with the people who made the news this year - yung mga Echosera ng 2011!

1. Piolo Pascual

There's really nothing much more to say, after KC had said her piece. Aired on "The Buzz", KC Concepcion had cried her heart out to the public and to Boy Abunda on her relationship with Papa Piolo. Confirming to the world - in not so many words - the "man" that Piolo isn't. Of course, ABS-CBN has been mum about this and hopefully, as time heals all wounds, the public will keep quiet or quietly drift away from the issue of Piolo's gender. After all, girls, boys and gays shriek over Piolo with or without clothes on. Without any doubt, this hunkaloid wins hands down for the title of Queer...errr..Queen of all ka-echosan this year! Bow!

2. KC Concepcion

If there's anything that zaps a woman's ire most is not the fact that her better half has slept with another woman. It's the fact that her male lover sleeps with men! But her revelation over prime time talk show did not catch the public as a surprise. In short, many knew (or suspected) all along that her beau swung both ways. For someone who was schooled in Paris and has both beauty and brains, it was maniacal on her part to have dreamt that her prince charming would end up being a graceful princess. KC should have just done a Carmina Villaroel. In the midst of the gayness of Rustom, Carmina stood her ground, kept quiet, slowly drifted from the relationship and found eternal happiness in a real man - Zoren Legaspi. KC should provide closure to this matter. Walk away from the bad experience my dear and next time, remember to listen to your gay friends. You were warned!

3. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

In between her alleged "rare" illnesses and the alleged election sabotage during her term as president of the Republic of the Philippines, the "taray" bulilit was at it again. First, was her attempt to leave the country because of her medical illness. Then when she couldn't get a dramatic exit, it had to be another form of drama at St. Luke's Global. The controversy had created a greater rift in the already troubled relationship between the executive and judiciary. As the real-life drama of GMA's "hospital arrest" unfolded, no one was as interested in the travails of the ex-president because no one really gave a damn of what happened to her, except her few staunch supporters (mostly in the Supreme Court) and the people who need to repay back her largesse during her term in office.

4. Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona

No supreme court justice has hogged the limelight as much as the midnight appointee of Ate Glue, in SC Justice Renato Corona. Corona had served as GMAs chief of staff when she was Vice President. He was then appointed SC associate justice in GMAs term and eventually got the plum position as Chief right before the term of GMA ended. With so many decisions in FAVOR of GMA during her term and even after her term in office, it makes the judiciary look scornfully wrong when it comes to deciding on matters of law, especially expediting a request from your former boss to resolve. Even Erap had his day in court and was not treated kindly by the judiciary. And while the Supreme Court justices insist that there is autonomy between the executive and judiciary, there smacks doubt among the citizens of this country on the rationality of decisions being forked out from the magistrates of the high court at the way they're swinging their decisions in favor of the "little girl that should be put to sleep" .

5. Court Administrator Midas Marquez

He was never even famous. No one even knew who he was. But no one in the Supreme Court has been more showbiz than the youngest court administrator called Midas Marquez. The gay columnists are after the "cutie" who's been the controversial spokesperson of the supreme court justices in their riveting decisions regarding the fate of GMA. Midas has had his day (not in court) guesting in various TV shows and, of all places, in Ricky Lo's column in the Philippine Star. Now we all know that the Midas sleeps in boxers, wears large t-shirts and underwear, and size 10 shoes (no it's not the size of his dick), works 15 hours a day, spends weekend at home, doesn't have time for other women, has two children already in high school, hardly goes on vacation, brings his work home, has a satisfactory sex life with his wife...uhmmm...not really a place and an interview for someone who's supposed to be respected by the courts in the land. It's quite obvious that the public nor the press did not react kindly to the falling off of the microphone in an interview, rousing suspicions on his sexual orientation as well. (click on the video above and judge for yourself)

6. Mo Twister

No greater wrath than a man who loses his baby because his lover wanted an abortion. And blabbermouth Mo Twister had been most vocal and viral about the abortion of Rhian Ramos on their baby. With GMA 7 taking sides to this "reproductive health" saga, they're ready to throw the book on Mo Twister. And Rhian has taken the vile side of castigating Mo (even if the guy is really worthless) at the accusations of the abortion. DJ Mo has decided to pack up his bags and leave. He has announced to the world that he is going back to New York City where he has a job waiting for him and he would start life anew. But the airwaves can't seem to keep the tongues wagging and Mo, well...the guy isn't even leaving YET! He says he will still stay in the Philippines to get this controversial issue straightened out. While we are truly, deeply, and emphatically sorry for his loss, we'd like to see him keep his words - LEAVE! MOVE ON! GET A NEW LIFE! And stop stalking Rhian! She has decided to move on - I hope you get the picture Mo!

7. Rhian Ramos

There's no denial in the alleged YouTube video of ex-boyfriend Mo Twister claiming that she's had an abortion. On GMA news, it was just a sobbing Rhian claiming that she's been harassed by the video of Mo. And since there's no word about it from her end, there must be some truth to it. As to why GMA 7 isn't even investigating this allegation of Mo on what Rhian did, and the fact that GMA 7 people are even up in arms to defend Rhian on this, doesn't really speak well of the network condoning murder in the name of showbiz! It cannot be denied that GMA 7 has also produced the most number of stars from their stable that had a child out of wedlock or teen pregnancy. Jenelyn Mercado was the most recent, until of course, this Rhian Ramos scandal. There should be some boundaries defining the thin line of decency in showbiz. And abortion just cuts it right in the middle.

8. Anabelle Rama

Child labor abuse and oral defamation. That's what the big-mouth mother of Richard, Raymond and Ruffa Gutierrez is now facing. She is accused of subjecting the kids of former TV star(?) Nadia Montenegro to grueling hours on camera and time away from school. Now that the case is in court, the verbal abuse of Anabelle caught live on television shows a woman with no education at all - angry and scorned at the world that she thinks owes her big time for her contribution to entertainment. It would be thrilling to see Anabelle behind bars this time and I wonder what the Gutierrez family would say when this verbally abusive woman (?) is finally brought to justice. This woman literally takes home the message "you can take a boy out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the boy". [Ang hampas lupa, bihisan mo man ng ginto, eh hampas lupa pa din]

9. Nora Aunor

"Walang himala!!!....kundi sa Pilipinas". And what other country has an open arm policy to has-beens but the Philippines? There is a soft spot for La Aunor. Most probably half the people in the Philippines (except the aging population) have forgotten about the singing lass who rose from poverty to riches and dragged herself into exile, changed her sexual orientation and oh yes, finally decided to come back to the Philippines because there was no work available to her in America. Give it to MVPs TV5 for flying back La Aunor to make a series of TV shows for the network. But the country is a softie for Pinoys who've left and come back to rebuild their lives - Billy Joe Crawford, Gabby Concepcion, Geneva Cruz, to name a few. Last we heard was that the TV series of Ate Guy didn't click, which means that La Aunor would probably have been better off in the US, doing a real-life "Bona" (in this movie she plays an abused housemaid) there. Seriously, in this day and age of Justin Beibers and Lady Gagas, the younger generation can't fathom why La Aunor even became - Superstar!

10. Ramgen Bautista

I saved the last not as the least but as the worst. I have never even heard about this guy Ramgen until he died. When I heard about his death, my household help were abuzz. I asked who died? When they said it was Ramgen-someone, I asked again - who? I mean, I don't even know the guy, but my household help who are rabid TV addicts tell me that he's a new find of the network --- tadaahhhhh - GMA 7. No surprise there. It seems that GMA 7 knows how to pick out these lackeys and I should give them a pat in the back for being able to select these kind of entertainers. Over the next few weeks, the whole Bautista household's (including the life and times of Ramon Revilla, Sr) dirty linen are washed in public! From the schizophrenic mother, to the abusive Ramgen (who's not a good boy as GMA 7 would project after all), to the household fights, locking up the food supply of the younger siblings and financial woes because of the spending spree of Ramgen and mother...a story unfolds each day making the plot thicken the real-life telenovela with more drama and decadent violence! The real life story of this guy Ramgen is actually more interesting than the career of this wannabe-starlet. Somebody should get to the mother and buy the rights to the movie quickly while she is still lucid! This murder is a family affair.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Unbelievably bratty!

Dear Mr. President,

I campaigned for you and voted for you, believing that your principles on good governance and honesty - much like that of your parents - would finally bring the Filipinos out of the throngs of graft and corruption.

And while I stood back and watched as you honed your governing skills, I disagreed in silence with some of the decisions you had made. Of course, like all presidents, you are entitled to decide on your own with what you thought was right, or wrong.

Last night, I watched you speak before the Criminal Justice Summit and was "shocked" at the way you lambasted Supreme Court Justice Renato Corona. While I understand your misery and frustration at the way the Supreme Court had made its decisions over many of the points you mentioned, I found the speech maligning not only the very person whom you referred to but the judicial system of which the SC Justice represented. It was not very statesman-like of you and I apologize if I will have to say that I am disappointed with it. It was not the proper forum and neither was it the proper time to have castigated the decisions made by the supreme court justices. They are, after all, an independent body from the executive department. The least you could have left them was their dignity.

Frustrations are part of the work that you undertook. Even at our work, nothing comes on a silver platter. We end up frustrated because of disagreements even among managers and the administration. And even when we don't get what we want, there are ways of working around an impasse. This, my dear president, is the test of a true leader. He needs to go beyond the partisan feelings and his own agenda. He works around the barrier in order to achieve his goal. During your swearing into office, you had already created animosity between the judiciary and the executive branch, by NOT recognizing SC Justice Corona. Instead of offering the olive branch and making him migrate to the administration's side, you had isolated him and the other appointees of GMA. While they may have been appointed by the previous president, the initial reaction on your part was wrong altogether.

Just like a bratty child that didn't get what he wanted, you whined and whined and became obsessed with the past administration. It's like having an autistic patient go over and over and over the same game over and over again. I'm not saying that you forget the evils of GMA. While you wanted her to reckon with her wrongdoings, you should remain focused on the future of the Filipinos as a people and the Philippines as a country. Instead, I saw vindictiveness and when you were delivering your speech, you were seething with anger. It was a reflection of a child who didn't get the toy he wanted! It was like watching the male version of your sister Kris, rant and rave on primetime. You can't take the words you spat out back. Even if you have no intentions of taking it back, what has been said has been said. The hurt and damage has been done. And I have lost respect in someone who thinks that by berating the SC in public was the solution to the problem, he gets mileage or "pogi" points with the masses.

Perhaps the masses in the C, D and E crowd may have applauded your guts. But they are inconsequential. To this crowd, they only engage in telenovelas, violence, and pornography. These sum up their everyday lives. Too much drama and comedy and lacking in good manners and right conduct. And you acted just like them!

In your words, this is nothing personal as well. If you feel slighted by this letter, then you should think again how it feels to be in the other shoe.

All I can say is that you were unbelievably bratty in your speech! It was unbecoming of a president, a gentleman, a statesman, a politician and yes, even of an ordinary Filipino. As you say, we are all your boss. And my reaction is - as your boss I'd fire you for the tantrums you threw yesterday.

To those that applauded - unbelievable! So many nincompoops in the stable!

[Photo from the Philippine Daily Inquirer]

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Of friends, retirement and Sweet Bella

It was a lunch out I will never forget.

I have made many friends in the pharmaceutical industry. Some are still with the companies I speak and advice for. Some...well, they've retired, moved on or sadly, passed away.

There were musings from Veron on having lunch with her. When she told me that after 19 years with Glaxo Smith Kline she finally hanged her heels of having to work them, I was initially shocked! We've been through a lot and she's practically been not only a colleague, but a wonderful friend whom I've shared many quiet moments of my life and the stories of our cats.

Over lunch, I could tell that she was really happy over the decision to retire from corporate life. This was the part I could relate well with. After 23 years of teaching at the University of Santo Tomas, my retirement from the academe was a decision that only I could appreciate. Like me, Veron had her "moments" with GSK. And retiring from what you routinely do daily does not come easy. But some things just need closure - so we let go and life goes on.

But the blog isn't just about Veron and I.

It's about this quaint restaurant on Burgos Circle at the Fort where we had lunch called Sweet Bella.

First, I'm not a food critic. I just love to eat, and I have a passion for good food. I just hate spending money on fast food chains not because they're cheap, but because they're unhealthy and believe me when I say that it's the road to obesity and heart disease.

The other thing about blogging about restaurants is that while first impressions may be good, sometimes some of the restaurants are unable to sustain their great food and service they initially have. And the review becomes moot and academic. But great raves are due to those that have made good impressions so here's my review on Sweet Bella.

The restaurant has that homey feeling when you enter it. The patisserie is located on the ground floor and what hits you right at the sugar rush level are the macarons on the display cabinets. Alright, so I have a soft spot for macarons and cakes. My experience points to the fact that restaurants that serve great pastries are just pastry restaurants. It's rare that you get to have a cafe or restaurant that serve both great food and excellent pastries.

The menu is not extensive but the choices are quite healthy. Since I was on a diet, I simply had onion soup and seafood pasta. Veron had her all time fave - beef salpicao done medium rare. Beef salpicao medium rare? Now this I gotta see!

The onion soup was just the way onion soups should be prepared. With a lot of onions underneath and not pungent to both the olfactory and gustatory senses. It wasn't salty and neither was it laden with MSG. The onions were crunchy enough without being too soggy. The seafood pasta was perfectly cooked in olive oil. Not too much seafood splashed all over the pasta, otherwise it would have tasted like stench. The pasta noodles wasn't sticking together (pasta shouldn't stick together otherwise it's overcooked) and the texture was perfect. The texture of a well cooked pasta should be slightly firm in the middle when you bite and this was the way my seafood pasta was. I was watching with curiosity how in the world could you make a tenderloin beef salpicao medium rare? I mean, I've ordered beef salpicao in various restaurants and I've never liked them because they end up hard as a rock. In short - the Filipino beef salpicao is just plain "pulutan" (appetizer). To serve it as a whole meal and medium rare - this I gotta see and see it I did! As you sliced into the tender meat, you could see the middle part cooked rare! Their beef salpicao had a warm and moistly pink center - firm on the outside, soft and juicy on the inside - so much like you were eating chunks of tenderloin steak!

The piece d'resistance was the desert. It was, after all, a patisserie!

Veron insisted and I took the challenge to gain an extra pound or so. So I picked the macarons. After all, any pastry shop that makes macarons should live up to the challenge of making the best macarons.

They laid out the 8 flavors on a long plate.

As you can see from the picture - white chocolate, chocolate, strawberry, lemon, passion fruit, rose, coffee (and not in the pic is salted caramel). I picked rose, and had it with TWG tea. To make a great macaron, you had to have the best rose macaron. And a rose macaron is not easy to make nor easy to appreciate. A perfect rose macaron needed to satisfy the olfactory and gustatory senses - you needed to taste it and smell it altogether. And even after the meal, the smell of the rose macaron lingered in my mouth and nose, two hours after the tete-a-tete we had. Seriously, I think they had the best macarons in town - freshly made! It reminded me of Laduree (in Paris) and the macarons were so divine that after a few days I asked Veron to order several boxes for me to give away to some of my friends this holiday season.

It turned out to be a great afternoon.

People come and go in our lives and many of us who go into retirement or exile miss out on the road less traveled - the great bond of friendship we establish along the way. It was a few hours of saying goodbye, telling stories, catching up with life, enjoying a great meal together, laughing our hearts out, making new friends and yes, it was a way of saying - here's to a great friendship.

See you around my friend!