Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Random Attempts to Art 2

Not Charcoal

This is a photo of a clay pot in a corner of the chapel in Sitio Remedios, Currimao, Ilocos Norte. Photo taken on December 28, 2008.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Obama's Inaugural Address

Below is the transcript of one of the most celebrated Presidencies in the history of American politics. Tons of luck to Barack Obama for he shall be carrying a gargantuan task of rejuvenating not just the American dream, but of other countries and republics who are in dire need of economic, political and even moral re-engineering.

Transcript taken from

My fellow citizens: I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.
So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.
These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land -- a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America -- they will be met.
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.
We remain a young nation, but in the words of scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.
Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions -- that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act -- not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions -- who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them -- that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works -- whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified.

Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account -- to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day -- because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control -- and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart -- not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort -- even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West -- know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment -- a moment that will define a generation -- it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends -- hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence -- the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed -- why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Beware of Philcoa

You really can't trust the streets these days. What happened to my brother yesterday was unfortunate, but I still thank the Lord for nothing bad happened to him.

Last night, my brother went home at around 9pm, along with his groupmate in Statistics. They just got home from UP, where they had their Stat project bookbound so they could submit it today. They got mugged near the overpass in Philcoa.

It was 6:30pm then, as my brother recalled, and the two of them were about to call it a night, with his friend Nelson, about to take the overpass to go to the other side because he lives in Fairview. My brother Jazer is about to ride a jeep going to SM when around 10 men, about 18-23 years of age, harassed them, threatening to kill them if they did not give their bags and cell phones. The men mentioned that it was part of a fraternity ritual, so they should just cooperate. The men took them to Landbank that is beside Flying V, just a few paces away from the overpass. That is where they men took their bags, cell phones, wallets, and hurried away. My brother mentioned that they talked a lot of gibberish about the fraternity, and some other justifying statements, but he could no longer recall them since he was too afraid and somewhat furious to remember. The men fled, leaving the boys penniless.

The two them proceeded to the nearest police station, which is just a few paces from where the mugging occurred, to complain about the incident. The policemen said that the place where the indicent happened is no longer in their jurisdiction so there is no way that they could have seen it. Wow! The place was just within eyesight and that's no longer your jurisdiction?!

The policemen filed the report, but as expected, no action will be done to prevent this from happening again. The police were generous enough to give money to the boys for them to be able to go home.

I have heard similar incidents occur in Philcoa. It has long been a notorious place, where people, particularly students, get mugged everyday. Despite all these reports, no policemen are stationed in this dimly lit area.

I hope that something gets done in this area. A lot of students from Katipunan and Commonwealth often rides there because it serves as a terminal to various places. Probably the two boys are not the only ones victimized by this notorious group last night. I'm just glad nothing bad happened to my brother and his classmate.

As for the men who mugged my brother, if it was really a fraternity ritual or initiation, I hope that they realize that the test of true brotherhood is not on how many people you mugged, or cheated, or assaulted. The test of true manhood and brotherhood is how much you can be of service not just to your fellow brods, but to your family and your community, and not to be a menace to society.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Random Attempts to Art

St. Michael the Archangel

The Photo was taken at Sitio Remedios, Currimao, Ilocos Norte. Many thanks to Ate Jan for inviting me to her wedding held on December 28, 2008. The place was captivating. Every corner is just picturesque.

During daytime, it looks like this:

The spotlight gave St. Michael a different look at night. :)

Also, many thanks to Bubbles for the Christmas and Birthday present! Canon Powershot A-590 IS captures beautiful pictures!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Buon Giorno Revisited - January 7, 2008

Bubbles and I have already tried the Buon Giorno in Tagaytay and instantly fell in love not just with its great view, but of its scrumptious variety of pasta, pizzas, steaks and more. I wrote about our first visit several months back.

This time, we went to Buon Giorno's branch at Shaw Boulevard to celebrate my 27th birthday. Having a different menu to try out, we once again had a fantastic meal.

For our starter, we tried the Spinach Soup.

Both of us being Risotto lovers, we tried another Risotto from their menu. Before, we got the Risotto Pescatore. Now, we went for the meat and tried the Risotto with Italian Sausage (I didn't get the Italian name. :))

Alongside this rice pasta, we decided to try their Lamb Chops.

Did I say that their price was affordable?! :)
My birthday was a blast because of this. And after two tries I'm definitely going back to try the others next time.
Thanks to Bubbles for approving to revisit Buon Giorno. She has always been my number one eating partner. Yeah, I blame her for my weight gain. :)
Thanks to all who remembered to greet me via SMS, E-mail, and various social networking sites. I am truly blessed to have you as my friends.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Pangandaman vs. Dela Paz

I have no idea why this issue is considered newsworthy. The family of a wealthy businessman gets involved in a fight with a political family, whose patriarch is the Secretary of Agrarian Reform. What is so newsworthy about that? Where is the national interest in this issue? Did it bring social awareness or did it change the lives of the almost 90 million Filipinos?

The only points newsworthy in this controversy are:
1. A Cabinet official and his sons, also public officials in their own provinces, get involved in a golf course melee. And you tell us that we have a set of mature politicians?!

2. We are debunking the statement posed by some basketball trashtalkers: "If you don't want to get hurt, play golf." I thought Tiger Woods' ACL injury is the most surprising phenomenon in golf! Hopefully, we won't see two politicians getting involved in a fist fight because of chess.

Also, I do not see the reason why I talk about this. I shall stop now.

Monday, January 05, 2009

The Year That Was

We bid goodbye to 2008 and say hello to Lucky '09! I do hope we get lucky this year. We need all the luck we can get after the most recent economic crisis that struck the whole world. Looking back at the year that was, below are my personal list of most memorable people and events that struck 2008 (in no particular order):


1. Jun Lozada - The whistleblower in the ZTE Broadband scandal. One of the most controversial persons of the year. His shot at heroism and nationalism fell short of support simply because the people supporting him are not that trustworthy and the people have already grown apathetic of the administration's controversies. Poor fellow.

2. Eliseo de la Paz - Was it really to buy a watch or military equipment, or as pocket money for hospitalization? What is the real reason behind former general Eliseo de la Paz's bringing in P7 million worth of euros into Russia?

3. Benjamin Abalos - "Romy, may 200 ka dito." This was the famous line uttered by the former COMELEC Commissioner, as mentioned by the former NEDA Director General, now SSS President. With him at the helm of the supposedly most impartial, most integral independent government commission in the land, I couldn't question the COMELEC's image. Gwark.

4. Barrack Obama - First African-American President. Symbol of hope not just for the American people, but also for the minorities around the world.

5. Manny Pacquiao - He has shown that he is the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in the world! Enough said.

6. Ateneo Blue Eagles - I may be biased here but of course I can never forget how the Blue Eagles deafeated their arch-rivals in a historic 2-game sweep to finish a 6-year drought of the highly coveted UAAP Men's Basketball Championships!

7. Rudy Fernandez - This year, we lost yet another icon in the Philippine cinema industry. Da Boy, as he is often called, finally was given a long distance call from heaven, after being succumbed to Peri-ampulary Cancer, of which he fought for two years.

8. Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera - The hottest on-screen couple in the country today. 2008 is definintely their year. Thanks to Marimar and Dyesebel, they finally made a big mark in the Philippine entertainment industry.

9. Juan Ponce Enrile - After decades in the Senate, the "beloved" Senator who became regretful of his act in the EDSA People Power I revolt finally became the country's top Senator, after the incumbent Senate President Manny Villar resigned due to the "inserting" controversy.

10. Jocjoc Bolante - 140/acting. I did not know that this blood pressure is hypertensive because he did not look like it. And for one, at my age, this is now my blood pressure, and I don't feel a thing. And he's telling us that he is sick!? And what's with not wearing teeth in a Senate hearing?


1. Manny Pacquiao's TKO victories over David Diaz and Oscar de la Hoya - Enough said. To all Filipinos who questioned the greatness of the Greatest Filipino pound-for-pound fighter in the world, this win is for all of you. To all those who bet against Pacquaio and lost thousands of pesos, you deserve it. Next time you see Manny Pacquiao compete against anyone else, you should never doubt this man's ability to bring the crown. It was shown in these two fights. Ricky Hatton, be afraid. Be very afraid.

2. Barrack Obama's victory for the US Presidency - This is truly an unforgettable event not just this year, but on the years that will pass. For the first time in the history of American politics did they elect a President whose racial brackground is of the minority. Just an added thought: He personifies the true identity of globalization: Born of Kenyan and American parents, raised in Indonesia and Hawaii. Kudos to America's Audacity of Hope.

3. ZTE Broadband Deal unfolds - Do I really need to elaborate on this?!?!?! Thanks to the bloated budget of the Broadband deal, project once again took the back seat. It was an excellent plan, but because of extreme greed, the Filipino populace are again the victims.

4. Jocjoc Bolante's Return to the Philippines - The most awaited personality has finally arrived in 2008! And after that, nothing happened. Still, no one was punished for the multi-million fertilizer fund scam that was allegedly used to fund the elections. And the perpetrators? Still out there, talking with the media, playing golf, drinking, philandering, whatever. Thank God there is a hell. If not, then we will never be justified.

5. Claudio Teehankee Jr.'s Pardon - Looks like the New Bilibid Prisons is in dire need of decongesting the cells. With him out of the prison hotel, i mean cell, gone is the tennis court, sala, dining room, music room, and all the other rooms that make his "renewal" and "redemption" look like he was just enjoying his stay in Sofitel. Poor Hultman family, they were not just emotionally injured by the pardon, but was given a series of insults by no less than the "Honorable" Justice Secretary Gonzalez.

6. The Longest Holiday (December 25-January 4) - This year, we experienced the longest holiday in decades! A lot of employers and businessmen may have complained about it, but I'm sure majority of the Filipinos are happy about it. President GMA surely gained a few political capital from declaring January 2 as another holiday.

7. Cory's apology to Erap Estrada for EDSA 2- Joke or no joke, it definitely made a big joke of the country's history. For this, we offer prayers for the former President's early recovery, so that she can go back to being serious and not joke about something ultra serious and relevant.

8. Earthquake in China - The 7.8 magnitude that destroyed various cities in China and thousands of lives are an unforgettable phenomenon that mother nature has cast. This is an obvious sign that we should do something to change the way we treat nature.

9. George Dubya gets the "boot" - a few months before his regime ends, he was given a very warm welcome by an Iraqi mediaman named Muntazer al-Saidi by throwing him his own pair of shoes. Now each shoe is worth more than $10 million. :)

10. The Credit Crunch and Recession - AIG, Merryll Lynch, Ford, Chrysler, GE, Citi. These are just a few of America's biggest, most profitable companies now getting aid from the US government for their involvement in the meltdown of the subprime market. Now, the US has declared recession, the biggest economic meltdown since the Great Depression in the 20's. I hope Obama appoints someone who can make miracles to turn this crisis around.

Comments please. I might have forgotten and event/person or two. :)

Happy New Year!