Monthly Archives: May 2008

Celebrity Chest Hair and Rainforests

Harrison Ford gets his chest waxed to help save rainforests. The connection? When we lose forests in, let’s say, the Sierra Madre, or halfway around the world in the Amazon, we also get the full impact of it over here, in terms of carbon released into the atmosphere and its ensuing effects on the climate. Not to mention compromising the integrity of important ecological services such as water flow, air quality, and biodiversity (the future cancer drug might be in those forests, for all we know).

“Every bit of rainforest that gets ripped out over there,” he says, as the esthetician pats down a wax strip and then rips it off, “really hurts us over here.”

The slogan: Lost There, Felt Here. Simple, right?

It’s not just a sentimental attachment to trees, you know, that drives us environmentalists batty.


Two Letters

In the next two or three months, I expect to receive one of these two letters. Not written exactly like this, definitely, but this would pretty much do for the purpose.

Letter Possibility #1:

Dear Ms Bernabe,

Congratulations! You can now move on and plan the rest of your life (or year, at least) because you didn’t get the UK grad school scholarship you’ve been angling for this past year or so. Did you really think you would get it? Huh. Well, it’s over. That ship has sailed. For your peace of mind, we suggest that you just keep those university acceptance letters for posterity, and destroy this scholarship rejection letter away immediately after reading it.

On the bright side, there’s no worry now that you would have to forfeit that Vietnam plane ticket for December. Good thing you took that leap of faith and went and bought the tickets anyway!

Thanks for bothering, and good luck with the rest of your life.

Postgraduate Admissions Office

Letter Possibility #2:

Dear Ms Bernabe,

Congratulations! Your decision not to get a full-time job and slack off for much of this year is now justified, as you have been accepted for the grad school scholarship for the term starting this September. You can now start worrying about the costs of your plane ticket to the UK, visa applications and initial living expenses, because we definitely won’t be paying for those. You have to get your ass over here first before we start paying your bills. Don’t you now wish that you worked full-time after all, so you’d at least have some savings?

You should also now start (if you haven’t already, which we suspect to be the case) reading up on stuff related to your degree program of Development and Project Planning, as your experience and knowledge on this area is woefully inadequate (we’re actually not sure what we’re thinking, giving you this scholarship).

Please let us know whether you’ll be able to make it after all, and do bear in mind that over here we don’t speak like Jane Austen characters anymore.

Postgraduate Admissions Office

I suspect that it would be Letter #1; odds and logic definitely warrant it. It’s just that – HOPE, you know? – it’s there. Sticky and clammy and nervous, but it’s there. I can’t tell it to go away and not be so stupid.

Either way can be good for me, really. I know I can make it even without a graduate degree. My life may even be more interesting. But still…

Sigh. I hate not knowing.


Went a little crazy yesterday messing about the online booking facilities of Cebu Pacific and AirAsia, since both have ongoing free flights promos. This is not the first time I’ve done this; when I hear that there’s a promo I always go a little crazy – think of places to go, pester possible travel buddies; try out a couple of hundred booking possibilities, get frustrated when I learn that all the long weekend/holiday free flights have already been taken – the whole thing is really an exercise in frustration.

Not this time though.

This time, after a few hours of nitpicking, Don and I were booked for a Cebu Pacific Manila-Hanoi trip in early December. Ticket cost per person: PhP4,834, plus PhP250 travel insurance. Thanks Abby for letting us hitch on your credit card. Yeah, I know, I really should get my own, if only for times like this, he he).

Plenty of time to read up on Vietnam. Yey! For those who’ve been there, travel tips are welcome 🙂

Batanes overload

What better way to test WordPress’ new gallery feature than a gallery of my Batanes pictures? I’ve been indulging my Batanes high by posting five Multiply albums (yes, five), but for this blog I have selected my favorite photos (I’ve spared you all the grinning photos of myself, he he).

Ten Best Reasons to go to Batanes (and I have to point out the list is by no means exhaustive):

  1. The place is so beautiful it’s almost impossible to take an ugly photo. People say that they feel that they’re in another country, because Batanes is so unique and so unlike the rest of the Philippines. Get over it, people. It’s the Philippines, and it’s beautiful. You have to go there at least once in your life, and put it way up in your list, before other foreign destinations like Hong Kong or Singapore or what-have-you.
  2. Ivatan culture is a distinct and rich heritage, and the people of Batanes are also pretty protective of it. However, heritage conservation is also hard, not to mention costly, work, and I hope that the province gets more support on this endeavor.
  3. The people are very friendly everywhere you go. I know that the phrase “friendly people” can be applied to a lot of places, but nowhere else have I encountered it to such as degree as in Batanes. Everywhere you go, people smile at you, the kids eagerly pose for pictures, and they humor your newly-learned Ivatan greeting of “Kapian ka pa nu Dios!” with the requisite reply “Kan imu pa” ever if your accent is pretty atrocious.
  4. The islands offer an interesting mix of adventurous and leisurely activities. One day you’re sitting on the ground and silently contemplating the majestic green hills and cliffs, or maybe taking photos of old houses, and the next you’re hiking up the hills in search of an ancient burial site, or crossing the open seas and trying to fight sea-sickness.
  5. You get to explore your deepest roots. Some of the country’s earliest settlers, originating from the eastern cost of Taiwan, entered the archipelago by way of Batanes and worked their way downwards. Numerous unexplored archaeological treasure troves are scattered around the islands, and you can literally stumble upon some piece of pottery dating back around 4,000 years ago.
  6. Equitable sharing of resources; sense of community. Everyone owns land in Batanes, and even if you have to sell, the practice is to sell to relatives or at least fellow Ivatans, not to outsiders. This has been a huge factor (aside from, no doubt, the remote location) why Batanes has largely succeeded in preserving its environment, heritage and way of life. Under the National Integrated Protected Areas System, the province is classified as a “Protected Landscape and Seascape.” This is defined as under the law as “areas of national significance which are characterized by the harmonious interaction of man and land while providing opportunities for public enjoyment through recreation and tourism within the normal lifestyle and economic activity of these areas.” Really, it’s a pretty accurate (albeit unwieldy) way to describe Batanes.
  7. Garlic. I’ve never seen as much garlic in my entire life. Batanes garlic is much more flavorful than the cheap imports from China or wherever, and it’s also organically grown.
  8. The distinct culture and surroundings also inspire great artistic sensibilities. Check out this link for samples of modern Batanes art. Let me know if you want to buy paintings and I’ll hook you up with someone 🙂
  9. The pleasure of the topload. I rode topload on our rented jeepney for much of our tours around the islands, and I must say that it’s definitely the best way to enjoy the beautiful sights – an unrestricted 360-degree view, with the wind blowing on your face, your camera at the ready. Just be careful and hang on; the roads are long and definitely winding. A windbreaker won’t be a bad idea, too 🙂
  10. Once you’ve been there, I kid you not, you’d want to come back.

More Batanes photos and chronicles (Multiply):

Batan Island
Brgy. Diura, Batan
Itbayat Island
Sabtang Island

10th Tour of the Fireflies

Presenting the cutest participant to this year’s Tour of the Fireflies, held last April 20 in observance of Earth Day:

We had fun running around taking pictures. At least two of my friends are promising to join next year’s tour, so that should be even more fun. More biker pictures here.