Friday, September 30, 2011

# 37 across the miles

the drums beat in rapid cadence, a rhythmic pattern that is easy to dance along to. that is the beat of the sinulog, a festival observed in our city every january.   

the week-long celebration has origins religious in nature. it has, however, taken a more festive atmosphere, carnival-like revelry if one may say so. the mardi gras is the festival's crowning point.  it is a visual delight like no other.  perhaps, aural, too. just stand away from those thunderous speakers that make your heart beat like it is going to explode any minute.

the running community looks forward to the sinulog for a different reason. the running craze that has taken off at hypersonic speed in recent years has paved the way for the staging of the cebu marathon at the start of the sinulog week.  on race day, the people take to the streets like it is one big playground. runners and supporters, dancers, drumbeaters and onlookers occupy every inch of space along the length and breadth of the race route.

cebu comes alive in blazing colors at the city's premier road race.  traditionally scheduled on the second sunday of january,  this race is as much a celebration as it is a test of endurance for the participants. 

a race that raises the bar is the best antidote to the running fever. the higher the standards are set, the better it is for the running enthusiasts.  each year, the organizing club, the cebu executive runners club,  pulls out all the stops. theirs is a tough act to follow. as it is with any other race, a shirt comes with the race packet.  a stellar race warrants a top-notch shirt.  with its logo splashed across the front, this year's shirt makes one proud to be part of the city's mother of all races.  a much coveted shirt, it is worthy to be given as a souvenir to special people.

teacher vicki first visited cebu in 2006 on official business.  she has been back three more times.  in 2008, she was thrilled to know that a race was scheduled a few days after her arrival. running was little heard of then and races were few and far between.  her podium finish was one for her memory bank.  unfortunately, there were no races when she came to visit in 2009.  she has heard of the cebu marathon and has been enticed to experience it for herself.   she has yet to.   

across the miles, in far-away kansas city, KS, the highlight of the inaugural cerner15k is a finish inside a newly-built stadium that carries the livestrong vision.

 the race pictures are out. you see teacher vicki wearing a familiar shirt. you get a glimpse but the logo is partly covered by a very mascular arm.

 that is my shirt! that is my city! that is my race! your heart swells with pride.  

 and then you get a clear shot as teacher vicki eyes the finish line.  quite a distance that shirt  has traveled! 

teacher vicki sprints to a top ten finish in her age group.  way to go, t. vicki!!  a few months short of her 50th birthday, she said if she was 50 at the time of the race, she would have topped her age group.  no, thank you, ma'am, i would choose to be top ten in the 45+ anytime than top the 50+ age group.  am in no hurry to get there.

the 2012 edition of the much-anticipated race will be officially launched in a few days.  a different tagline banners the event but the fire is there. 

doubtlessly, the new logo will look good on a shirt as its predecessors have. perhaps the shirt will cross the finish line on foreign shores again. that runner will feel the beat, get on its feet and leap across the miles.  isn't that awesome?

Monday, September 26, 2011

# 36 eat all you KHAN !!

speaking of mongols, there is one other mongol who is a mall fixture. kublai is his name.  kublai khan.

it is one of your favorite restaurants.  it is the kids' number one choice, too. well, maybe not quite as it is a toss-up between this mongolian delight and a chinese dimsum feast for them.  the concept of this place is simple. you get to choose the ingredients for your meal.  sauces and spices, meat and vegetables, rice and noodles. these are all displayed on the counter for you to choose from.  it is all your making. calculated guessing would be more like it.  you pick out everything you want and hand over your bowl to the cook who lights the fire.  that is all the cook does.  lights the fire and mixes the bowl's contents.  nothing else  is added;  you have chosen that yourself.  you go back to your table and wait.

the right mix of sauces and spices will make or break your meal.  it takes some serious thought before you scoop out your choices.   

you have no problem with the meat options;  you seek out your favorites.

a section of the counter reminds you to stay healthy, eat vegetables.   you throw some into your bowl to mix with the noodles.

some expert handling is needed to keep the stuff from spilling out.  there you have it !! with some balancing techniques, your meal is ready for the cooking.

yes, you get it.  you only have yourself to blame if your meal does not taste exactly the way you want it to.  no fault of the cook.

after a few minutes of waiting,  you have one hot and steamy bowl in front of you. you can't wait to dig in.

one spoonful (a chopstick-ful actually) and you know you nailed it!! it is Perfection with a capital P! a fusion of spices that teases your palate.  not too spicy, not too salty. steam escapes and you breathe in such savory aroma from your bowl.  you almost burn your tongue in your haste to take another chopstick-ful. 

and the final nicety bringing your meal to perfection? you are not paying; a friend is treating you out.  isn't that awesome?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

# 35 this mongol's life !

the most famous mongol, genghis khan, rose from slavery to conquer some parts of the world.  the movie, MONGOL, chronicled his conquests.

this mongol that merits a blog entry of its own continues to conquer our part of the world to this day. it has shaped the lives of millions of filipinos, if not all filipinos. this mongol is destined to be the most learned of all as its life is dedicated to the academe. it helps mould the very young of our country and chisels them into literacy. in some instances, they are chiseled the wrong way. not this mongol's fault.

MONGOL is the most popular pencil brand in the philippines. when a kid starts nursery, she is introduced to her first mongol.  everyday she comes home and shows off scribbles and doodles and jellylike forms that her unsteady hands have created. your heart overflows with pride. in its ambiguity, you see precious works of art. you paste them on your wall till there is no space left. over time, the abstracts become clearly defined shapes, numbers and letters. in no time, they evolve into words, phrases and sketches. there will be several more mongols for this little kid before she graduates to the BIC ballpen.  that BIC is another story.

second grader wawa likes to use her pencils till the eraser and lead tips are within an inch of each other.  this is  a clear and convincing sign that she is  a:) copying pages upon pages of notes; ergo, serious with her studies and  b:) learning at a young age the need to maximize the use of things. 

yangi and gugud do the same with their mongols, too.  they are ballpen users now but still have a mongol or two.  one time, yangi's teacher saw her using a short pencil and offered her a longer one.  she politely refused.  

education is not only our best defense for life's journey. education is a journey in itself.  the quest for education starts with a MONGOL.  isn't that awesome?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

# 34 UNLI

perhaps the most overused word in recent times in our part of the world.

we like to play around with simple english words, not that we desecrate the word. no, we just have this deep-seated need to create our own term, true to our ingenious nature. there is nothing cryptic about the word as it is clearly a take-off from 'unlimited.'  it is the telecom version of the 'eat all you can' craze of the restaurant industry.

texting is big in the philippines.  very big.  raking-in the-millions kind of  ginormous for the network providers.  we rank high in a list of countries with the most number of text users.  it is said that texting is the national pastime and textology is the new subject in the curriculum.  in other countries, subscribers have plans.  in the philippines, plan holders are a minority. not too many people can afford to subscribe to monthly plans.  in an effort to broaden their network reach, telecom companies invested in the prepaid brand. this caters to a huge faction of the populace singled out as captive market.  phone credits, or load as it is referred to, are added whenever it is needed. not surprisingly, it is needed all the time. in a country where majority of the labor force are minimum wage earners, priorities can go haywire when one is a heavy cellphone (text or call) user.  students who get through each day on a daily allowance spend a huge chunk of it for load.

major telecommunication networks try to outdo each other by offering UNLI promos for as low as PHP25 or  60 cents in US money.  the promo is valid for a day. of course, the networks all claim they started this UNLI mania.

no passing fancy, this UNLI phenomenon is.  designed to cater to the prepaid subscriber base, it is now being offered to postpaid clients. 

cutthroat competition does have its advantages.  with the network war in full blast, consumers are having a field day. time was when calling someone on a cellphone was prohibitive. many a time, one would glance at her watch to surreptitiously (lest someone is looking) check  if  the one minute mark has been breached.  with 20 seconds to go, one blabbers away in a rush to get off the phone before another minute's charge starts ticking. did the other party understand what was being said?  one never knows. 

an endless text exchange, a leisurely chat with someone on the phone.... UNLI !! isn't that awesome? 

Friday, September 16, 2011

# 33 somebody is coming to town !!

so you better watch out, you better not cry and you better not pout !

i am telling you why. a few decades back, there were no big names in the quick-serve restaurant industry in cebu.  they were all in the country's capital city of manila. business traffic was high there. back then, cebu was deemed to be lacking in action which translated into weak feasibility of any business venture. QSR franchisees flocked to manila like bees to honey.  even big local brands, jollibee, red ribbon and goldilocks, were not ready to bring their businesses to our part of the country at that time.  if you want a taste of that burger or that doughnut you see on tv, you have to ask around if someone is going to manila and shamelessly ask for pasalubong (present).  any manila-bound relative is obliged to bring a box of dunkin' donuts to an eagerly waiting family back home. at the airport arrival area,  you would most likely bump into a kenny roger's take-out box or a goldilocks bag of goodies-carrying gal who seems to be strutting her trappings too exaggeratedly (the better for her prized treats to be seen by all).

then the winds changed.  in the latter part of 1993, two of the country's largest malls opened its doors to the cebuanos. cebu became the new manila!  this meant the arrival of the big names.  they all came marchin' in with all the fanfare.  how the cebuano people embraced them!  it was almost bordering on frenzy.  there was a mad dash for the food counters; lines were long and table turnover was fast.

through the years, the trend continued. a new brand would open shop and the cebuanos would give it a warm welcome. yes, we are a very hospitable people. everyone came but one.  but not for long now.

you crave for krispy kreme doughnuts. they are heavenly - absolutely and wickedly so! and sinfully caloric, too! just having one makes you guilty of the eighth deadly sin.  it is that one brand that has steered clear of your own home city.

at the entrance to the active zone of the ayala mall, the green, red and white logo joyfully announces the much-awaited news. finally!! it is coming to town!! its corner of the mall is closed off while it is being fixed. it is expected to open in november. soon, there will be a quick glaze to your krispy kreme fix. you think about the calories. you very well know that the calorie count of one piece (flavor-specific) is between 200 and 440. but who is counting?  cebuanos are.  counting the days till it opens its doors.

in the meantime, you patiently wait. it will be worth the wait.  a krispy kreme whenever you want it.  isn't that awesome?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

# 32 palawan !! (pala)WONDER !!

the philippines is in the news !!  no, it is not the miss universe crown that was an arm's length away from our country's bet in glittering ceremonies aired this morning.  boy,  that was close!!

the news has nothing to do with any act of notoriety.  some losers have somehow ingrained in their sick and twisted minds that the path to fame is best (and quickly) achieved through ill-repute. sadly, quite a few of our countrymen have chosen to follow this infamous path.  thankfully, as well, the news is not about any tragedy that has befallen our country. it has nothing to do with breaking any guinness records, either.  yes, the shortest man on record is a filipino and yes, we just recently caught the biggest crocodile in the world. oh but there are much bigger crocodiles in government. no trap, no matter how intricately laid out or how tempting the bait is, can ever snare these two-legged crocodiles.  just saying.

the philippines is in the news as it attempts to include one of its own stunning natural landscapes as one of the world's new seven wonders of nature. the poll calls for natural wonders not man-made creations. the winners are to be announced on the eleventh of november, just two months away. puerto princesa in palawan (southwest of the philippine archipelago) boasts of the world's longest underground river.  it covers a navigable eight-km stretch and winds through a cave before it opens up to the south china sea.  no cosmetic renovation has changed the landscape of this paradise.  picture-perfect and postcard-pretty are how one would describe such scenes that take one's breath away.  it is perfect and it is pretty alright but it is not a postcard nor a picture.  it is real.  real natural beauty beyond words.
 official publicity shot  of the underground river as an entry into the final phase of the competition.  the worldwide poll started with 261 natural landmarks.  the list has been narrowed down to 77 and further down to the remaining 28 finalists.

  gugud started off her summer vacation with a trip to palawan.  safety among its visitors is topmost priority on the river cruise.  gugud and her daddy gear up for the ride that would take them through the underground river. 

 they enter the river and are instantly caught up in a world of stalactites and stalagmites. these are stuff that one learns in elementary school.  textbook pages come alive in a flash.  even in the cavernous shadows, the magical sight is enough to throw them overboard in captive awe.

one would think that when God, the supreme artist, used the earth as his canvas, He singled out puerta princesa in palawan as one of His masterpieces.  it was not meant to be an abstract and monochromatic tableau. He carefully pieced together paradisiac details to dream up a perfect harmony of seascape and landscape. glossing it over with a blend of colors, the giant mural that is the subterranean park emerged. gentle waves and whirring murmurs of bats create a semblance of a serene dance of sights and sounds.  it gives one a feeling of walking through an art gallery.  only the paintings are real.

twenty-eight finalists in a worldwide poll. one of our own makes it to the list.  isn't that awesome?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

# 31 that which we call a rose....

by any name would smell as sweet!  juliet could not have said it any better to her romeo.

a rose by any color would look as beautiful, too.   as enchanting as the flower of its name is, rose (the color) carries its own charm.  on the color wheel, rose is the color halfway between red and magenta. there are several variations of this color - copper rose, french rose, lavender rose to name a few. there is one that stands out, one that you like best of all - old rose.  everything in your old room was old rose or a gradation of the color. there is something in the color that speaks to you, a vibrancy that jumps at you and springs every little thing to life.

there are many shades of old rose for the picking but this is the one for you. it would seem dull to many but it is bright and peppy to you.  it looks old-ish to some (it is not called old rose for nothing) but it spells everything young to you.

the kids know you like the color.  in a moment of inspired creativity showing their penchant for play and art, they whip out their own interpretation of your favorite color.  their imagination knows no bounds. there is continuity in their storyline, too, one picking up where the other left off.  in an instant, you have free-flowing imagery and a hilarious tale.  these kids think they are funny.

when a rose gets old, says wawa, it sits in a big armchair with a pair of glasses and a ball of yarn.  this is crochet the old rose way.

and when the rose becomes all bent, says yangi, the cane becomes a necessity.  how else can an old rose wander without being led by the cane?

 the cane will soon be replaced by the wheelchair, says tete, the better for the old rose to cruise along corridors and walkways.

it will get worse according to gugud.  medication will be needed  to sustain its  life.  gone is its young and carefree life;  sick and bedridden it has become.
it has lived up to its name, an old rose to the end.

sometimes, it takes an innocent remark to set off an endless exchange of goofiness among kids.  maybe a comic drawing here, an awkward dance move there.  or a spontaneous spongebob-squidward repartee here, an ad-libbed song there. randomness followed by a burst of laughter. such a welcome breather from all that we in the adult world have to deal with! who was it who belted out the line let the children's laughter remind us of how we used to be?  ah, whitney houston.  it is contagious, too.  no, not whitney's song.  children's laughter is.

an old rose to spark good spirits on an otherwise ordinary day.  isn't that awesome?

Friday, September 2, 2011

# 30 BER

that is not a name nor a term of endearment.  not a place.  no acronym, either.

just simply BER or the start of the BER months - september, october, november, december.  in our part of the world, this means the (un)official start of christmas. only in the philippines will one feel a tinge of excitement in the air when the BER months arrive.  the street children who bang on car windows when one is stuck in traffic have now changed their repertoire of songs to christmas carols. we are known to have the longest christmas.  it starts in september and ends on the sixth day of january.  you have to be a grinch not to love anything that signals the start of the most joyful season.  it is also the most expensive season. on tv this morning, the show hosts greeted the audience by bursting into a jackson 5 hit, urging everyone to give love on christmas day... no greater gift is there than love, oh what the world needs is love....yes the world needs your love.  no other time of year do our auditory senses process so much of the jackson 5  pre-puberty singing voice.

however big or small one's house is and wherever it is - in the heart of the city or in rural areas, the christmas lantern (known as parol) is always the centerpiece.  it has evolved from the simple colored paper-wrapped star to the ornate, multi-bedecked work of art.  some are giant jaw-droppers with lights that speak of the wonders of technology.  nothing simple about the present-day star.

christmas makes us smile. hakuna matata means no worries, a problem-free philosphy according to timone and pumba in the lion king.  one would think that is the peculiar mindset of the filipino.  we are a smiling people like we are problem-free.  no worries, hakuna matata. others are often amazed at how resilient we are. our country is constantly dodging the bullet of ruination.  we can never seem to pull ourselves out from the pit that we have deliberately dug to wallow in. we are plagued by a massive mountain of problems on all sides and yet we are known to be a happy people. we celebrate many occasions and when there is no occasion, we invent one. christmas is the biggest celebration of all.  we love to sing and we sing the loudest during the christmas season.  no one minds if it is out of tune.  we love to dance and we break our bones dancing away at christmas parties.  no one minds if we are not stepping to the rhythm of the music. we love to tell stories and we repeat the same stories at christmas gatherings.  our listeners pretend they have not heard our stories the previous years.

christmas gives us a hundred and one reasons to smile. we are now into the BER months;  the season has officially started !!  isn't that awesome?