Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pols watching Pacman can bring swine flu to the Philippines

With the upcoming Pacquiao-Hatton fight, expect a lot of congressmen and other top officials to throng to the US to watch the event. I hope the government bans their travel in the light of the swine flu scare. It is best for these politicians to stay at home. They will save a lot of precious dollars and will not have the chance to contract the swine flu virus. Going there gives them the chance to bring back the virus here. We suffer enough from the pork barrel funds misuse, we do not need another pork-related disease.

Popoy's summer workshop

I registered Popoy for the McDonald' Summer Kiddie crew workshop. The Php650 fee covers the following: a cap, shirt, and a meal for the 5-day duration of the workshop. Popoy and his cousin, Dindin, will join the other kids in the worskhop in the McDo branch in Puregold-Agora. The workshop has three main activities per day - values formation lecture, some on-the-job training and art workshop. With a fun mix of learning activities, the kids will be taught how to man the counter, greet and serve guests and bus tables. There will be art activities like puppet-making. These activities are designed to promote positive values like hard work, friendship, team work, self-confidence and cleanliness while having fun.

This McDo program is noteworthy. I see that McDonald's competes with Jollibee not only with its products but on corporate responsibilities as well. This can only mean better service for everybody. Good job, Ronald.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Lechon is best Pig

Sometime in February, Anthony Bourdain featured the Philippines in his show No Reservations. In that episode he ate Cebu lechon and blogged “that of all the whole roasted pigs I've had all over the world, the slow roasted lechon I had on Cebu was the best,” placing it over the Bali and Puerto Rico versions.

Time magazine took the cue from Bourdain and featured the lechon in its April 23 issue. The magazine glowingly salivated: "A pig is roasted for hours over a fire of open coals, slowly rotated on a bamboo spit, lovingly basted and meticulously supervised until its flesh is so tender, moist and succulent that it can be sliced with the edge of a plate, and its skin so crisp it can be punctured with the tap of a finger. You could call it the Platonic ideal of a pig, but it's doubtful if Plato, or even an entire faculty of philosophers, could have imagined anything so exquisite."

Notwithstanding swine flu, this Pinoy food is among the most missed by my batchmates based abroad. I am sure we will have lechon again in our planned reunion. We'll take our chances.

Monday, April 27, 2009

NBA predictions

I am busy this week watching the NBA first round playoffs, among other stuff. With the Suns out of it all, I was rooting for the Celtics to win again but with The Big Ticket sidelined for the playoffs I switched allegiance to the Cavs.

I am still anti-Kobe though I still predict a Lakers-Cavs finale. The Lakers are the heavy favorites in the West. Kobe is playing a much controlled game. Perhaps he is put on a leash by Phil Jackson, to preserve him for the final push where he his pent-up desire to take over the game will be unleashed. Or perhaps, he is not that young anymore. There is a better chance for the West teams to upset their top seed than for the East teams. The Nuggets, barring another post-season bad luck for George Karl, stands the best chance. They are followed by the Mava snd the Rockets. The greatest thing going for the Lakers is that they are all healthy at this time. Tex Winter suffered a stroke but expect Phil Jackson to make that a rallying point.

In the East, the Celtics cannot ride on emotions to make it all the way. I believe emotions can only sustain the charge for only three games max, after which, the body will not respond and the other team's pride and emotion will in turn carry them through. So emotions can carry the Celts, net of Garnett and Powe-less, past the young Bulls but they will be tested to the hilt and further weakened by the second round. The Cavs on the other hand are healthy with the King James not even in his primest.

The expected Lakers-Cavs setto is very evenly matched. The Cavs cannot be trumped in the forward position with King James on their side. The middle decidedly goes to the Lakers with Gasol, Bynum, Odom. The guard position again goes to the Lakers. The coaching, too, shows advantage for the Lakers with Phil's nine rings waiting for the tenth so each finger will have one. So in the Lakers-Cavs finals, the Lakers will be the heavy favorites. But I am still rooting for the Cavs. Because I am anti-Kobe.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Facebook simplifies relationships

My wife is new on Facebook. When she accepted my invite to FB, she immediately became an FB friend. But FB made an entry on my wall that "Perry and Josephine Hugo are now friends". Wtf? She's my wife. Before some flipped up friend thinks otherwise, I clicked on the Info tab->Edit Information->Relationship Status dropdown combobox, and chose married. I typed my wife's name on the box. Hmm, good, it filters my friends' names based on the characters I type. So I passed on Joel, then a Josephine (not her), then to Josephine Hugo. But before it accepts my wife's name, it says "We will notify Josephine Hugo, who will have to confirm that you are in a relationship."

Somehow I find this absurd so I decided to cancel the status update. But FB already has already posted on my wall that my "Perry went from being 'single' to 'married'". I checked that my married status, while still awaiting 'confirmation' from my wife, has stuck despite my cancel of the update. I, then, edited my personal info again. I 'canceled' my relationship with my wife. FB then posted another update on my wall - "Perry went from being 'married' to 'single'.". Hahaha. I just deleted the misleading wall updates.

I have friends who are in complicated relationships. They can benefit from such facility in real life. If FB can do that - change relationship status in a flash - then it is definitely the all-time best application. Imagine the possibilities.

Gerry Penalosa loses to Juan Manuel Lopez! Time to hang up gloves, Gerry

Freddie Roach showed up with a new look. He is sporting what we call the uno haircut. Maybe he wants a lucky charm for his ward Gerry Penalosa to win.

Juan Manuel Lopez is the heavy favorite. He is also visibly the much bigger man. He can bulk up and challenge Edwin Valero someday. He is also younger than Gerry Penalosa, who is now seeking glory at this late stage in his career.

At the onset, Penalosa is outgunned. He is absorbing a lot of 1-2 combinations to the body. His answers are few and far between. Gerry appears ready to fight toe-to-toe, but he is outpunched by a ratio of 8-to-1. There is no way he can win this bout at this pace. While Gerry is being softened by the many blows to the body, JuanMa does not show any signs of tiring.

The 6th round is painful to watch. Only the Floyd-Gatti fight is more one sided than this one. By the 8th, Gerry's face looks like pop corn with caramel. JuanMa has his own welts. But Gerry is not human. No man can absorb 8 rounds of such punishment. He went on to a 9th round, with Roach's warning for Gerry to make or break. Essentially if nothing's changed by this round, Freddie's going to stop the fight.

But the 9th round is more of the same. So Freddie stops the fight after the 9th. JuanMa by TKO.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Meeting old friends II

Facebook reconnected me with friends way back from my elementary school days. The virtual reunion on cyberspace and the photo/video sharing whet the desire to see old friends in person. It is a logistical nightmare when half of the people are abroad and the rest are scattered all over the country. So we do it in small steps. We hold mini-reunions to plot the big one.

As in my reunion with former office mates, it is uncanny to vividly remember how we all looked before and now see the changes that thirty-five plus years can do. To me, reunions are always heartwarming. We had halo-halo over halo-halong kwento. Alas, three hours of chit-chat are never enough to catch up after thirty-five years of being apart.

It was a roller-coaster ride of emotions. For a moment grieving for those who passed away, then sympathizing with romantic heartaches, then feeling good for the big winners. We truly enjoy these mini-reunions because we enjoyed our previous time together, thirty-five plus years ago. It turned out to be so enjoyable that we resolved to search for others from the batch. So this is a shout out for graduates of San Juan Elementary School-1974. Get in touch. See you soon.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A bad practice

"Setting criminals free, long before they have fully served their sentences, sends a chilling message to all law-abiding citizens of this country – that THE STATE CANNOT DISPENSE JUSTICE PROPERLY. It emboldens criminals to commit heinous crimes knowing they can always get executive clemency if they know people in the Board of Pardons and Parole or Malacañang," - Fraternity “brods" of murdered victims Ernesto “Cochise" Bernabe II and his girlfriend Ana Lourdes “Beebom" Castaños in a statement placed in Metro Manila-based newspapers.

The victims, their relatives and friends must be seething at this administration for the spate of pardons and clemencies given by this cute administration to convicted criminals at the earliest possible opportunity. Some quarters say that money matters, citing the case of the dirt-poor rapist who was executed vis-a-vis the filthy-rich congressman rapist who was paroled. Conspiracy theorists point to the coming elections and the resources required to keep this administration in power.

Speak no evilI think there is a reason far deeper than humanitarian for these clemencies. The reason is also much deeper than the conspiratorial and revenue making aspect. In addition to the spite hurdled against Cory for taking a stand against GMA, the release of the foot-soldiers in the Aquino-Galman double murder case prove that compliance to the omerta code pays, whistleblowing does not. The wholesale release of convicts, at this time when there seems to be wholesale commission of graft, embolden the corrupt. This is this administration's way of assuring the crooks and underlings that in the slim chance of conviction, they will be pardoned anyway, if they just follow the code of silence.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Flash and the Furious

The first of three consecutive Sundays of boxing featuring Filipino champions produced wonderful results. Flyweight champion Nonito 'The Flash' Donaire defanged previously unbeaten Raul ‘La Cobrita’ Martinez over four one-sided rounds this morning. This proves that Donaire's best known win over Vic Darchinyan was not a fluke. The Filipino Flash proved his power again in this fight knocking down his opponent twice in round one, once in round two, and once again in round four. The referee might have prematurely waived off the fight since the Martinez showed signs of recovery in round three and just prior to the last knockdown. Martinez initially appeared to protest but eventually relented and congratulated the winner.
In 'The Furious' side of the bill, Brian Viloria captured the crown of frequent Filipino tormentor Ulises Solis with a spectacular eleventh round knockout. Viloria started very well in the first five rounds, inflicting cuts over  Solis' both eyes. Solis was deducted points in rounds three and five for low blows. But in the second half of the fight, Solis appeared to outbox Viloria, until Viloria unleashed a well-timed “Hawaiian Punch” that dropped Solis in round eleven. The former champion was not able to get up before the referee made the full count.
Promising Filipino fighter Denver Cuello won a vacant alphabet soup belt with a fourth round knock-out over his opponent. He earlier scored a knockdown in round three.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Not as good as advertised

My office had our annual team building today. This is my first time to join this summer event in my three years at the organization. I decided to come along because of the fun stories and happy pictures brought back by those who join. The photos of the venue, as posted in their website, were also very inviting. The pricing scheme posted in the website was snobbish (in dollars, and they were boasting of affiliate resorts in other tropical countries). A world class resort in Rizal, this I got to see. This might just as well be a good way to escape the searing summer heat if only for a day.

The mandatory games, trivial as they are, were good for their 15-seconds of laughter. After the games we went to explore the other services and amenities of the resort. The Thunderbird Resort in BInangonan, Rizal is a hotel casino overlooking Laguna de Bay.  It boasts of a private 18-hole golf course and an infinity pool, and of course casinos. Prior to coming over, organzers told us that there were some restrictions like - trunks only, no surfboard shorts for men; no sandals or shorts in the casinos. Ok, we understand. It's world-class after all.

The golf course covers a wide expanse of the hilly area. I don't play golf, and if I do, I don't think I'll be hitting  and following a ball over 7000 yards under the unforgiving sun. I didn't prepare to swim either because I didn't want to bring home wet towels and clothes. And the infinity pool turned to be very finite. The photo on their website was cleverly cropped just off the pool's edge. The majority decided not to swim either. The pool was small for all two busloads of us. It was not as good as advertised.

The rooms were spacious and comfortable enough - for a family of four. If you try to squeeze a busload, they are bound for some discomfort. So I went to the casino where two of my sandal-clad office mates charme the guard to let them in. So much for the shoes only policy. I told my officemates of my theory of malas sa sugal, suerte sa pag-ibig. They all wanted to be both. Those who lost in the slots comforted themselves that they were lucky in love anyway.

As for me I walked away with Php300. How did I do that? I went in with a Php1000.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Use Facebook, Get low grades?

There's a new reason to stay away from Facebook, if a new study from Ohio PhD candidates is to be believed. According to the study, college students who use the social network have significantly lower grade-point averages  than those who do not. The study surveyed undergraduate and graduate students and found that GPAs of Facebook users typically ranged a full grade point lower than those of nonusers. But the study also says that most of Facebook members did not believe there was any link between their GPA and their networking habits.

The authors clarify that the study does not suggest that Facebook directly causes lower grades, merely that there's some relationship between the two factors. "Maybe [Facebook users] are just prone to distraction. Maybe they are just procrastinators," said one of the authors.

Hmm, does the study indicate that I, and my 90 friends, are less intelligent? Or if not, are we procrastinators? Or are we easily distracted?

Other earlier studies have warned that social networks were "infantilizing the brain into the state of small children" by shortening the attention span and providing constant instant gratification. A new book, iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind, warns of desensitizing effects of social networks and other modern technology to reading real-life facial expressions and understanding the emotional context of subtle gestures.

The study may have its flaws and there are definitely other distractions aside from the social network sites. Facebook tries to defend itself by pointing out a study released earlier this month showing that personal Internet use at work can help focus workers' concentration and increase productivity. Facebook also said that "it's in the hands of students, in consultation with their parents, to define priorities and decide how to spend their time." That is equally true with the workforce and management. Facebook is saying don't blame us, blame the users.

People do spend a lot of time logged onto Facebook. A Nielsen report earlier revealed that social networks are the fastest rising segment of the Internet. Educators are iked with students who post messages more than listen to lectures. Management is equally up in arms. Offices have banned Facebook, etal., on their corporate computer networks. But there's no stopping this surge.

I found a lot of former classmates through the social networks, particularly Facebook. We are now happily reminiscing, catching up, and once again sharing heartaches, pleasures, ideas. Facebook did its function famously, it connected me with my past friends. It is the educators' and management's turn to find ways to do their jobs amidst these technological innovations.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Everything is connected

We are none of us alone; Even as we exhale, it is inhaled by others; The light that shines upon me, shines upon my neighbor as well; In this way, everything is connected to everything else; In this way, I am connected to my friend even as I am connected to my enemy; In this way, there is no difference between me and my friend; In this way, there is no difference between me and my enemy; We are none of us alone.

These lines are from my new favorite TV show, "Life", about a wrongly imprisoned cop who got his job back and now does police detective work with Zen. In this age of hyper-connectivity, with all the social networking sites and tools around, indeed now we are none of us alone.

Social networking is the new global consumer phenomenon. According to a Nielsen report, two-thirds of the world’s Internet population visit a social network or blogging site and the sector now accounts for almost 10% of all internet time. Social network and blogsites has overtaken personal email to become the world’s fourth most popular online sector after search, portals and PC software applications.

Facebook has become the dominant player in social networking sites. The phenomenal increase in the amount of time people are spending on these sites is changing the way people spend their time online and affects how people behave, share and interact within their normal daily lives. According to the same Nielsen report time spent on social network and blogging sites grew at over 3x the rate of overall Internet growth. In terms of audience numbers the greatest growth for Facebook, for instance, has come from people aged 35-49 years of age. My school mates and I belong to that demographics. It is not surprising that after more than 35 years we meet again online.

Among Filipinos, Friendster got an early foothold in the market. But its ornate design appeals more to the younger set. Some say it is 'jologs' and Facebook is the 'sosyal' version. I do have accounts in almost all the various platforms because I invariably accept all account invitations sent my way, but I actively maintain only my FB account.

I joined Facebook to keep in touch with fellows I met in a conference and to meet new ones that share the same passion for RSS for banks' online communications and other web applications. It is pure serendipity that I got in touch with elementary school classmates as well. With Internet search and social networking sites, I managed to track down several more classmates and friends and relatives. I hope that soon everyone will be connected with everyone, again.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Master 4

Whew! Tiger was gone, so was Phil. With Kenny Perry up by 2 with 2 holes to go, I went to the office thinking that there will be no more drama to unfold in the Masters. Dead wrong. I have thought it was for Kenny Perry to lose. But I thought he'd lose it to Tiger. Kenny choked and lost it alright, but to Angel Cabrera, in a playoff. Seems people named Perry are in a funk nowadays. Sayang!

Easter Master 3

Tiger bogeyed the last two holes to bow out of the championship. Phil also bogeyed the last hole to stay 1 up on Tiger. He still has a chance if the leader bungle it on the remaining holes. But I am equally rooting for Kenny Perry. With Tiger out of it, wtaching the game suddenly became less exciting. I expect less drama to unfold.

Time to prepare for work now.

Easter Master 2

Tiger birdied the 16th. Phil saved par. Both are now just 1 behind Kenny Perry, who is just missed a birdie on the 11th by less than the diameter of the ball. Tough. He is just 1 up on Tiger and Phil. This must be nerve wracking for him.

Tiger bogeyed the 17th. While Phil missed another one of those short putts and the chance to inch closer to the leader. He saved par but is still 2 behind the leader, Kenny Perry, who just birdied the 12th. With the missed birdie on the 11th, this one on the 12th and with Tiger and Phil failing to gain further ground, Kenny Perry should be poised enough to win this one. Go Perry, go!.

Easter Master

Phil and Tiger just made another charge on the 15th hole. Tiger went for the eagle with a long but doable putt. he missed it with the ball passing the cup by just inches. Next up was Phil, he also went for an eagle, a much shorter putt than Tiger, but he missed it widely. Both made the birdies, though. With three holes to go, Phil is one behind, Tiger two. As I said this is for the leaders to lose. Tiger is just being himself.

Easter week

I woke up not to get back top work after the Easter break but to catch the Masters live. Tiger is playing. There's got to be some drama.

Phil Mickelson added to the drama in the Masters by tieing the record 6-under 30 in the front nine of the last round, firing home six birdies in the first eight holes. He was just one behind the leaders but but he hit the water to double-bogey the 12th. Meanwhile, Tiger Woods continued to lurk closely behind the leader, silently firing a 3-under 36 in the fron nine. He birdied the 13th to suddenly be just 3 behind with 4 holes to go. I have a feeling this is for the leaders to lose. Tiger is back at his game this Easter.

Meanwhile, leader Kenny Perry was steadily matching pars through the first 8 holes to keep the lead against the surging Mickelson and Woods. He's got to have steely nerves to maintain poise as he hears the sound of the comeback, the oohs and ahhs in Phil's and Tiger's flight.

Who says golf isn't exciting?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Popoy's trauma with The Passion

This Maundy Thursday I made Popoy watch a slew of movies about Jesus Christ just to inject some spirituality into a six-year old numbed by endless cartoons and Marvel comics. First up was Jesus of Nazareth. That bored him. He wanted a faster moving story, ever asking when will they show Jesus on the Cross. So I decided to show him Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ.

Big mistake! A six-year old mind cannot stand all that blood, gore and torment of the NC-17 movie. Popoy said he's done watching and wanted to sleep already when the scene where Jesus was scourged was shown. Only when he cannot go to sleep that I realized that his young mind was bothered seeing all that. I had to explain that it was just a movie, that they were just actors acting out Jesus' life. That did not comfort him, and for the first time in years, the kid wanted me by his side to sleep. But he just cannot sleep. He made me promise that I will not put out the lights and that I will also not sleep. Sweet but not comforting. What have I done? He slept very lightly. He woke up several times during the night, asking will it be morning soon each time. He was still afraid.

His kuya Vito was chiding him the morning of Good Friday. It's just a movie Vito said. Indeed, Vito handled the movie better when he first saw it. But he was over eight years old then. Anyway, Popoy seemed to have recovered. I said we'll watch another Jesus Christ movie, Jesus Christ Superstar. I told him it's a musical and not scary at all. Into the movie, he said it's not Jesus, because He looks different from the ones we saw yesterday. When he aked if Jesus' flagellation will be shown and I said yes, he stopped watching.

Come sleeping time, Popoy again was having trouble getting sleep. Again he asked me to watch over him, making me promise to keep watch all night. He is sleeping better now. It's already 1:00am Black Saturday, he is still having a good sleep, so far so good.

The Holy Week-end bonding with my sons through spiritual movies did not turn out too well. It only traumatized Popoy. This might take a while to undo.