Saturday, May 23, 2009

Filename: Surprises

I'm sure everyone is into the downloading frenzy these days. I particularly mean those who are curious and interested to take a peek of the much talked-about sex video scandals of Hayden Kho and Katrina Halili. Those who are not computer techies may also be scouting for the DVDs in their favorite pirated DVD outlets at the bangketas. The video had probably reached blockbuster status in just one week, selling like hot pancakes, or in Pinoy streetsmart scene, selling fast like your favorite tempura, kwek-kwek, fishball, adidas, betamax, etc., and maybe selling even faster than you can say Hayden Kho.

After Aling Dionisia, Katrina Halili is all around television, crying, telling everybody that she did not have the slightest idea their sexual escapade was recorded on video by her erstwhile lover. She says she will do what she can to strip the doctor of his medical license and that she is doing all that she is doing now to protect all other women who are the doctor's victims.

Though I want to sympathize with Katrina, sadly, I could not seem to. I do not hate her. I do not pity her. I just don't feel anything for her. I am merely an apathetic onlooker. She knew what she was playing with when she entered into a liason with Hayden Kho. She was playing with fire and thought she wouldn't get burned but she is - she is burning big time. No matter how she licks her burns now, it'll keep on hurting because the fire - this time, the repercussions of all her decisions - are getting back at her.

Surprisingly, a senator comes to her rescue. Senator Bong Revilla, the most unlikely character to be Katrina's night in shining armor, made a privilege speech about the scandal, calling Kho a maniac, among all other things. Yup Stella, you're right, this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Maybe the senator should also be warned that when you are pointing your finger on somebody, dont forget that the other four fingers are pointing back at you.


Another surprise that shook the entire world is the results of this season's American Idol. Everybody was counting on Adam Lambert to win. This is the AI season that I have watched most intently and I could tell that even from the start, Lambert was a favorite and the judges were really rooting for him to win. It was almost a giveaway.

But even Kris Allen could not believe it when Ryan Seacrest announced that he is the new American Idol. It was like looking at a male Sushmita Sen minus the cupped hands covering the mouth. In front of the television, I could not be happier.

I was rooting for Allen. Yes, Lambert could sing. There is no question to that. He's got great pipes and has a undeniable commanding presence once he is on stage, as he was backed up by a lot of experience on the theater stage. However the viewing public could only love him to a certain point, I guess. I got tired of his screams and as the season was nearing to it's end, Lambert's style became more and more predictable. You will know what he'll do when he steps on the stage - scream.

Allen on the other hand grew in terms of confidence and style as the season progressed. For others, most of his performances might be forgettable but he was a breath of fresh air from a suffocation of screams and sometimes mere theatrics. I particularly loved his arrangement of Kanye West's Heartless and his acoustic rendition of Bill Wither's hit, Ain't No Sunshine.

Die-hard Lambert fans are sulking and a lot of theories are emerging which are trying to explain Kris Allen's win. There's the Gokey Factor, the Christian Vote, the votes of the liberated states versus the conservative ones, and many others. However the votes had been cast and Allen was already crowned the new Idol. Getting the crown does not really give an Idol a sure shot at a very good career and not winning it means the loser is at the pits so let's wait and see who get's a sure shot in the real world out there waiting for these two new artists and even those who made it to the Top 13. Who know's we may be in for another surprise and a lot more.

Monday, May 18, 2009

And now, it's Pac-Mom

Along with her son's rise to ultimate stardom, Aling Dionisia has recently acquired celebrity status - undeniably.

For those who are not exactly Philippine-based, yes, you read it right - Dionisia Pacquiao, Manny Pacquiao's mother, and better known as Aling Dionisia, is now a celebrity on this side of the planet. We may have seen her before, occasionally featured when Manny has an upcoming boxing event, but we all have to admit that she has never been this famous. Her star is shining as bright as ever, that it is almost a threat to her son's popularity. But of course, that is just to nail the point that the mother has become famous as the son. Behind every man's success is a woman, and in Manny's case, it's his mother. (Yes, Jinkee too, alright...and probably, hmmm...never mind.)

In case you have been living in a cave, or got a sudden bout of amnesia, Manny "PacMan" Pacquiao is currently the IBO and Ring Magazine Light Welterweight champion and is rated by the Ring Magazine as the Number 1 pound-for-pound boxer in the world. He is also the first boxer to win the lineal championship ("the man who beat the man") in four different weight classes. His professional boxing record: 49 wins (37 knock-outs, 12 decisions), 3 losses, 2 draws. He recently put Britain's pride, Rikki "The Hitman" Hatton (and his boxing career, more likely) to deep sleep on the boxing ring in Mandalay Bay, in Las Vegas, last May 3, blowing up his net worth to a whooping USD 50M, an amount of money most of us will not even get to hold in our lifetime.

Back to Aling Dionisia, during the evening of May 15, every news program in the country featured her dream birthday bash, like there's no tomorrow, almost like the way members of the media do when they air out blow-by-blow accounts of his son's fights. Her birthday bash, which was held in General Santos City, revolved on a debutante's theme, and was entitled, Sweet 60. The debutante (let's give Nanay a chance), wore no less than five expensive gowns which she brought during her shopping spree in the United States. Everybody was dying to find out whether she will wear her Php. 300,000.00 Rolex wristwatch which is a gift from equally famous daughter-in-law Jinkee, or whether she will show off her new Louis Vitton handbag worth Php. 150,000.00.

Suddenly, everyone is aching to get a look at or know the price tag of everything that Aling Dionisia owns. If money talks, popularity and power would be its official language, both of which Aling Dionisia now has in her hands. Secretly, every personality, both coming from the political arena and from the world of show business, is probably wanting to be on the list of guests who are invited to the party.

For the politically-inclined, it would be useful to be seen around Aling Dionisia. A little exposure of being seen with someone like her (who would probably be the last person they would ever think of had it not been for her son's status) would do some good, especially that the 2010 elections is just around the corner.

For those in showbiz, for whatever it's worth, going to Pac-Mom's birthday bash will give a boost to their careers or may breathe life to a showbiz career which is badly needing some resuscitation.

I read on a national daily that no less than Imelda Marcos is among those who are invited to the party. Wow - I thought - not because I was starstrucked or shocked but because I was amused with the way destiny plays its way in this game called life.

Let's travel back through time.

1970's. Imelda Marcos is a household name. Elegant, beautiful, powerful, rich. She is seen all around television, whether she is busying herself seeing her projects to completion or dancing with almost every diplomat who comes to visit the country. She waddles in money, owning precious and flawless jewelry, a number of Philippine ternos, and her famous collection of shoes, roughly 3,000+ pairs of them, some of which haven't even touched the tip of her toenails. Everybody, including the most powerful man in the country, is at her beck and call. She's everything a man/woman/child wants to be. She is a god.

Still in the 70's, from the north, let's move to the south. Meet Aling Dionisia, a poor, ordinary, prayerful street vendor in General Santos City. She sells kakanin (the Filipino term for street foods) in front of a public school here. At the end of the day, if all her goods don't get sold, Aling Dionisia walks around the neighborhood, just so she could sell all her kakanin.

She was abandoned by her husbands - there were two of them - and left her with a number of mouths to feed including that of the Pambansang Kamao (National Fist), Manny's. Probably, the word dirt-poor is Aling Dionisia personified. She's every poor man's ugly reality. Nobody wants to be her.

Fast-forward to the future, which is actually the present. Aling Dionisia is seen all over the television without the slightest hint of the kakanin vendor that she was. You would think that was her past life, literally. I imagine every cameraman would be yelled at by his anchor in case he misses to capture Aling Dionisia on video as she shows off her own boxing moves. You could tell, by the way she throws her punches in the air, "May pinagmanahan talaga 'tong si Manny" (Manny indeed got his boxing prowess from his mother.) On the other hand, you wonder and ask, and slap yourself at the same time, "Am I really looking at Aling Dionisia, or is this just Manny sporting a longer hair?"

Every cameraman would probably be scolded at if he didn't catch Aling Dionisia praying fervently like there's no tomorrow, while her son is in the boxing ring. Video clips featuring Manny Pacquiao would never be complete unless they include scenes showing his mother in deep prayer all throughout the fight. I saw one where she just collapsed without warning when in the middle of her prayers, someone approached her and whispered in her ear that the boxing fight was over and that Manny won. She was on her knees, in front of the altar, and she suddenly lost her consciousness and I quivered because to me it looked like she was about to have some kind of an episode. Good for her she has a lot of kasambahay (housemates) to catch her and cradle her head on their palms to keep it from hitting the concrete floor.

The loss of consciousness didn't last very long, probably it lasted for only a few seconds. I gave out a sigh of relief as she regained consciousness as fast as she lost it , without rolling her eyeballs and with no foamy white liquid coming out from her mouth. But the next time I looked, Aling Dionisia was already jumping because of happiness. She was jumping and shouting, jumping and shouting, shouting and jumping - both her hands held tightly by the kasambahay as if to keep her from hitting her head on the ceiling in case she jumps so high enough. By that time, I was really hoping I was not witnessing some kind of an episode.

I imagine every cameraman would get some nagging if he missed Aling Dionisia while she is applying powder on her face, or while she is applying lipstick (Hey, i saw that on national television! I'm not kidding!) or while she is showing off what she learned in her ballroom dancing classes. Truly, Aling Dionisia has become a scoop.

As for Imelda, uhmm..who? She may still be famous but probably not as famous as she was before. She is rarely in the news, and these days, everybody is not as interested with what she does, what she owns, who she's with, what she wears, and maybe even where she's at. She has become a victim of what most Filipinos are good at - forgetting. You decide whether that worked to her advantage or not but after all that she's been through -and more importantly, after what the Filipino people had been through because of her (and her husband), probably the only thing we (all want to) remember her by is the word Imeldific.

Before Nanay Dionesia's - uhmm, I mean Nanay Dionisia's party began, (she strictly clarified that she is Dionisia with an I and not Dionesia with an E) no word had been sent from the former first lady's camp whether she was going to Aling Dionisia's party or not. That was the least of Pac-Mom's worries, actually, since she had somebody to take charge of the invitations. (Ganyan ka-sosyal ang lola, mo, te!) Whether those who came were celebrities, political bigwigs - all has- beens and wannabes - or not, Aling Dionisia didn't seem to care at all. During her interviews before the party, she talked mostly about the gowns she would be wearing and her dance numbers. It was crystal clear that Aling Dionisia just wanted to enjoy her party and dance the night away with abandon. She couldn't worry less about who's coming or not, because she has done her share of worrying before. Besides, her life now is probably and relatively worry-free compared when it was a few years back. What else can one expect, she has acquired (almost-) Imeldific status. But hey, - we all know, she deserves a better word than that.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

What a pleasant surprise!

I just came home from a Sunday dinner with my friend and fellow doctor-blogger Florence, when I decided to open my blog. When I checked out my chatbox, I was surprised when I got a message that my blog has just been nominated for the Filipino Blog of the Week Awards!

Now I thought, this nomination culminated the great Sunday evening I had with Florence. Being nominated for the award is a heart-warming recognition that means so much to a blogger like me. I have only decided to write again late last year and since I have have been putting aside my love for writing on a shelf for quite a time, trying to start to write again seemed like trying to start a car engine which was never cranked up for a long time. Award-giving bodies like this one pour the right amount of oil needed to keep the engine running again as if it was never set aside in a forgotten corner at all.

I would like to extend my gratitude to The Composed Gentleman who spearheads this activity of recognizing Pinoy bloggers all over the world, and a lot of thanks also to the one who nominated my blog.

For those who want to vote for my blog, click this and you will be led to The Composed Gentleman's blog where the poll is on the right side of the page. Just scroll down the navigation bar and you'll find the Filipino Blog Awards Section where the list of nominated blogs are listed. My blog, When the pin drops, is the tenth nominee. Place a check mark beside it then click the vote button. Please keep clicking everyday this week to cast a vote for my blog. Hopefully, one click a day would help propel this doctor's blog on its way - to the top. Wow, blogging is now beginning to be even more fun!

For all your votes and continued patronage, thanks very much!

The best. Unprecedented No. 1. Irreplaceable.

Kung si Manny Pacquiao, may milyon-milyong mga tagahanga, kami ng kapatid ko, naiiba. Dahil isa lang ang aming natatanging tagahanga.

Siya na ang tumatayong miyembro at presidente ng aming fans club.

Kung may Dionesia si Manny, may Dina naman kami. At hinding-hindi namin sya ipagpapalit kahit ang buong mundo pa ang maging tagahanga namin.

Happy Mothers' Day Ma! Hindi sapat ang mga salita upang ipaabot sa iyo ang aming pagmamahal at pagpapasalamat. At Happy Mothers' Day na rin sa lahat ng mga nanay saan ma'ng sulok ng mundo.

Baclayon, Bohol 2008.

Chocolate Hills, Bohol 2008.

SM Mall of Asia, 2008.

Chocolate Hills, Bohol 2008.

Bellingrath Gardens, Theodore, Alabama. 2o08.

Gone diving

I used to see the likes of them when I reach the ports of Cebu City from my port of origin in Mindanao. Just when the sun starts to peep into the horizon, and the ship enters the city harbor, these Badjaos race their bangkas towards the passenger ship. The sense of urgency to get near the ship is so evident it almost resembles rush hours in city streets. They transform the great blue into a visible magnetic field and they are like paper clips or iron clippings which are drawn helplessly to its central source which is the passenger ship.

Now I see the likes of them each time I reach the Port of Tagbilaran City. More than twenty years had passed since I first saw their forefathers, and yet their tricks are still the same - they entice the passengers to throw their coins into the water and they then show off their diving skills as they plunge down before the coins reach the ocean floor. There is no age limit, young or old ones can do the diving as long as the "diver" knows how to hold his breath and keep his eyes open underwater so he can grab the coin before other divers do. They come in families, and mostly the mothers stay on the bangka breastfeeding the youngest child in the family (yes, breastfeeding the baby in front of an audience) while coaching the little ones who are already able to dive for a living.

Over the years though, some of them have modified their tricks - or better yet, got tired of performing them. Sometimes they just hold out a sack with its two sides sewn or tied roughly to two sticks which they then hold out to catch the coins being thrown at them. In that manner, they never have to dive into the water at all. The coin, which stands for a promise of another meal, is caught in mid-air just before it touches the water.

THE BADJAO BUNCH. They come in groups. Nobody is (and should be) left at home and so the young one had to take her morning nap directly under the scorching heat of the sun.

Each time I disembark from the vessel, I hear the ooh's and aah's of my fellow passengers, both foreign and local tourists, as they see these Badjaos flock at the pier and ask them in their dialect to throw their coins to the water. From their expressions it is hard to tell whether they express repugnance or delight.

INVISIBLE KID. As members of her family dive for their next meal, this little girl's presence is suddenly dropped to the bottom of the priority list and she is left forgotten and alone in her little boat.

PLAN B. No, I don't mean the morning-after pill. After her screams fail to catch her family's attention, the little girl grabs the paddle and tries to advance the boat to where her siblings are.

Some of the foreigners, and even the locals who have only seen the Badjaos for the first time, would throw some coins to see how these natives dive for it. They throw some coins to see how these natives dive for their meals.

I walk away asking myself, how long will it be before these Badjaos rise from the pits to end this throw-your-coins-and-we'll dive-for-it game? I walk away, asking myself, will this crazy game ever end?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Tips to a great Danao Adventure

I was not paid to do this. But I want every interested soul who's planning to experience the Danao Adventure to get the most out of it. Here are some tips to an unforgettable Danao Adventure:

1. Go there early. As always, the early bird gets the early worm too. My group arrived there by noon already, and we barely had time to try the other activities.

Ours was a different case though. We got delayed in leaving Tagbilaran City because of . . . because of . . . me. Nope, it's not because I got out of bed late. Not this time.

We were originally set to leave Tagbilaran City at 9am that Sunday but since I failed to get a chance passenger slot in the earliest fastcraft trip to leave Cebu City, I had no choice but to take the next trip which was already at 8:30am. If we were able to leave on time, we would have arrived at Danao, Bohol by mid-day and we would have enough time then to try most, if not all of the activities. I was glad and thankful that my friends never blamed me for the delay and were patient enough to wait for me to arrive from Cebu City.

2. Bring your own food. If possible, bring your own food and drinks. They have a Welcome Center there for guests. They offer some dishes there too but you may be craving for something even better or something even more delicious. So bring yourself some lunch, (you can order something for take-out at McDonald's or Jollibee, or better yet, you can ask your Manang to cook and pack your favorite dishes for you) and some snacks which would come in handy while you are going there and after you cross the zipline, or after you climb, crawl, and swim in the waters of the caves.

3. Bring enough clothes. This is important if you plan to go caving. I tell you, you will really get wet, whether you like it or not. I actually did not expect this but I was lucky that Ingrid allowed me to use one of her short shorts. It was also good that I decided to bring my cycling shorts along or else I'd be giving a free view of my underwear while climbing the cave walls. So it is important that you change your attire when you go caving, to something that you would allow to get wet. For the girls, make sure your caving attire is not so revealing. Make sure it is comfortable enough since you will be doing a lot of work inside the cave. I mean climbing, crawling, and swimming too. One may also wear knee pads to protect your knees from being scratched against the rocks.

Footwear too is very important too. It's better to wear flip-flops but I am not really sure if your Havaianas will survive the roughness of the the rocks inside the caves. I don't think they could give your feet "a good grip" of the rocky ground when they are wet. You don't want to go barefoot during most of your caving time because your slipper snapped, or worse, slip over the wet stone formations. The Welcome Center has slippers for rent at Php 20.00 per pair or you can bring your reliable flip-flops. The staff will advise you though if your shoes or slippers are safe for use inside the caves or not.

4. Bring enough batteries for your cameras and mobile phones. You would need these to document your adventure. Capture the moment and relive the adrenaline rush as you play your videos and browse through your pics over and over again. The guides have a dry bag where you can deposit your gadgets. They bring the dry bags with them during the entire caving activity so you wouldn't have to worry about your stuff.

Now you're finally set. Lastly, just a reminder: Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, waste nothing but time. Respect mother nature. During this adventure, I realized that if we do respect mother nature, it gives back so much in return. And for the part where we waste time, probably nature tripping is one of the best ways to waste your time. For me, probably a close second to sleeping, and waking up and getting out of bed late. :-) Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Danao, Bohol Caving Adventure

It was my first time to go caving. We decided to explore the Ka Mira Cave. This caving activity is still a part of the whole Danao Adventure.

The Ka Mira Cave is one of the caves where Dagohoy hid from the Spaniards who were after him. He was the last Filipino hero to give up his revolt against the colonizers. It may not have been easy at all for Dagohoy that time - not exactly an adventure for all of us at present - as he went climbing the cave walls, crawling through its floors, and wading through its murky waters. We got a little taste of what he went through that time but for us, what actually prevailed even after we got out of the cave was the fact that this caving rendezvous was a real treat for beginners like me.

Our guide was trying to orient us before we start our activity - with the emphasis on trying.

Another pose for the camera before we go caaaaaavin'!

We had to go downhill to reach the mouth of the cave.

Yes, we were going downhill but I wanted my picture taken so I had to turn around. :-)

That's the mouth of the cave right there. No, no, no, it's not just a simple pathway wherein you just walk into and get inside the cave easily. See that T-shaped twine? You cling on to that so you can climb and enter the mouth of the cave which is just beside that twine particularly on the right side. Is that beginning to sound fun?

We climbed, we crawled, and we got wet.

The curtain formation.

This was at the dead end of the cave before we head back to its mouth. At this time, the guide asked us to turn all our headlights off so we could see for ourselves how dark it was inside the cave. And guess what, it was the darkest dark I have ever seen. It was the kind of darkness that didn't quite have a hint that there was something called light.

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