Monthly Archives: July 2008

National Museum Tour and Binondo Food Trip

It’s my first time to visit the National Museum, I shamefacedly told John Silva during our guided tour. I was sitting down on the floor at the time, we were almost halfway through the three-hour tour and I wanted to rest my legs. He was standing in front of me, and upon hearing my remark he looked down at me and said sternly, “And you call yourself a Filipino?”

Now that was a bit harsh, really; surely that’s not the only measure of being an upstanding or good or whatever you call it Filipino. But still, he has a point. If you’re a Filipino, you have to have a deep awareness of and affinity with what that means, and what that has meant throughout the years. A trip to the National Museum makes us acutely aware of our country’s identity and its rich past, as expressed in art and cultural artifacts. Alas, the photos here are of course poor, poor approximations of the originals. You have to go there and see everything for yourself.

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jOePM? ano daw?

jOePM – terminology basically referring to OPM (Original Pinoy Music) as performed by an American, or with an American twist. Recently coined and being practiced with much gusto by “ako si chris” from Hoboken, New Jersey.

Eraserheads – Huwag Kang Matakot

For what purpose, you say? To be amused by the inevitably hilarious accent? Yes, undoubtedly (sorry, Chris!), but beyond that, it’s to transcend boundaries, to promote excellent Pinoy music abroad, and for that matter, here at home. Some Pinoys who commented on the youtube clips admitted to being a bit abashed because an American seemed to know more about OPM than they do. That applies to me as well, actually.

At its most basic level, it’s simply to enjoy good music.

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Kagsabua, 3

Even as I was gushing about the magnificent beauty of the Philippine Eagle in my previous entry, yet another eagle was shot dead in the forests of the Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park in Bukidnon province.

Kagsabua, a three-year old male, has not had an easy life. He was shot and captured n 2006, then rescued and brought over to the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) to be taken care of. He was released back to the wild just last March. Fitted with a satellite transmitter and a VHF radio, he has since then been transmitting information on Philippine Eagle habits back to the PEF, specifically on the animal’s movements.

Almost five months after the eagle’s release, the movements stopped. The transmitter and radio were found, as well as Kagsabua’s leg band and feet.

A 22-year-old tribal farmer, yielding to community pressure and undoubtedly fearing the wrath of the tribal elders, surrendered to authorities.  He said he didn’t know that it was a Philippine Eagle, a ludicrous claim that’s nevertheless quite difficult to verify. Ludicrous, because it’s not like there are a lot of look-alikes out there. A biologist friend who witnessed Kagsabua’s release last March also told me that the event was practically a community fiesta and it was a really big deal. The community as a whole fully embraced the Philippine Eagle and understood the need for its protection, and it took just one person to undo all their efforts.

One hardly knows which is worse – sheer malice or sheer ignorance.

This is not just about conserving specific species for sentimental reasons, this is about preserving the integrity of our ecosystems and protecting their ability to deliver vital services that we take for granted, such as water flow, air quality, climate regulation, and of course forest products.

In the long term, Kagsabua’s death may serve as a way of further raising awareness and support for conservation work – at least, one can only hope. That’s also more or less what I said when I blogged about the death of Kabayan a year ago. Disheartening? Yes, definitely.  Is it reason to give up hope? No, definitely not.

Practical responses:

  • As much as possible, do not keep wildlife as pets, especially the rare ones. Let’s foster a culture of appreciating wildlife in the wild instead of in cages. If you have to have a pet, make sure that you buy it from legitimate sources – that it’s bred in captivity and not captured from the wild.  In most cases, threatened species sold in shops (Philippine Cockatoo, Hill Mynah, etc.) are definitely illegally captured from the forest.
  • Do not eat so-called “exotic” food that use threatened wildlife.
  • When traveling, avoid patronizing tour packages and sites that disturb the wildlife and their habitats. Offhand, an example is those Loboc river cruises that pass by facilities where they keep tarsiers captive and let visitors handle them.  Do not feed the fish when snorkeling, and avoid stepping on the corals. Be careful in buying souvenirs. Other travel tips here.
  • Be informed. Spread the word.

Images: Kagsabua: AFP, courtesty of PEF; Kagsabua’s tarsi and leg band: PEF, as posted in Mindanao Blog

Lord of the Forest

If it’s possible to fall in love with a bird…

this would be The One.

“It is possible that no one has ever described this rare raptor, one of the world’s largest, without using the word “magnificent.” If there are those who did, then heaven heal their souls.”

“In the kind of irony all too familiar to conservationists, however, the very evolutionary adaptations that made it magnificent have also made it one of the planet’s most endangered birds of prey.”

where have all the forests gone?

where have all the forests gone?

“Awareness about conservation issues, however, is rising in the Philippines. A series of devastating floods and mud slides in the past decade has convinced Filipinos that the loss of forest affects not just wildlife but people too.”

Head over to National Geographic here to see the rest of the magnificent photo gallery, photos taken by Klaus Nigge. The text in italics are from the accompanying article “Lord of the Forest” by Mel White, here. Go.

oo, gusto kong sumama!

image from UP Centennial Planner

I love all this buzz surrounding the Eraserheads reunion concert. I first heard of it only yesterday from Don, who saw it in a blog post referring to a short Phil. Star article confirming the event.

Apparently there have been murmurs on blogs, forum threads and mailing lists about this concert for a week or so now, with confirmations coming in over the weekend. So now if you do a Google search of “eraserheads concert CCP,” you’ll find a lot of people going “Yes, it’s confirmed!” “Tama na ang blind item,” “I’m so excited!” complete with references to the band’s hits (You can bet your pwet I’ll do it again sometime for the money, It’s fine time, Tikman ang langit, Gusto mo bang sumama?).

Beyond the date and venue (August 30 at the CCP grounds), details are still sketchy right now. The concert is supposedly for free, tickets can be obtained by signing up on a website that will be announced in early August, a still-unidentified big company is sponsoring the event- and they have to be big, to be able to pull something like this off, especially if it’s indeed true that the band members are getting millions to appear in the one-night (45-minute?) event.

The marketing is so viral it’s brilliant.

People’s anticipation were stirred and built up, first in the blogosphere then transitioning to mainstream media; full information withheld to heighten anticipation; major sponsor is unidentified so now people are wondering who it is (San Miguel? Marlboro? umm, Chippy? ha ha); it’s going to be a MAD dash to get to those tickets. Continue reading

open suitcases

On my way out to buy lunch earlier today, I passed by the open door to the living room of the family living downstairs.  Scattered on the floor were open suitcases, clothes, various accoutrements.  Apparently the seaman husband who arrived a few weeks ago will be putting out to sea again.  It’s a scene familiar to many households, in this country of some ten million overseas workers.  Preparing for the journey; carefully packing away clothes, shopping items that were bought here because they’re cheaper, maybe a package or two of “paabot” stuff for other Filipino friends or co-workers; giving and receiving last minutes instructions and reminders. The word “goodbye” will not be mentioned, not just yet. At that stage, the concern will be for the practicalities – don’t forget this, don’t forget that – with just the slightest hint of sadness and wistfulness evident behind the harried tones.

During the first few days of his father’s arrival, the little boy downstairs sounded like a charged up dynamo; very active, very playful, the sounds of his joy reaching me upstairs and making me smile, and prompting the neighbor to fondly remark over the fence, “Ang saya ni Mako kasi nandito ang Daddy nya!”

My sister will be arriving from Taiwan tomorrow for a five-day visit. She’ll be coming with my two nieces, one of whom, the younger one, will be left behind to go to school here for a year – on loan to Lola. With such a short visit, I’d expect that there’d be a flurry of activities: shopping, getting Tisha enrolled in her school, looking up a few friends. My sister will be living out of her suitcase, basically, only unpacking the pasalubong and of course Tisha’s things.  On her last night, I’d witness the scene of that’s probably going on in the living room downstairs.

The word “goodbye” will not be mentioned, not just yet.