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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Our Island Featured in Cebu Pacific Mag

This Islander's hometown, the island of Capul in Northern Samar, was among the towns featured the recent issue of Smile, Cebu Pacific's in-flight magazine.

The writer said, "curious residents welcome you once you arrive on the shores of this island municipality. They speak Inabaknon, which is one of the Philippines’ remote and rare dialects.

Just an hour’s ride from the town of Allen is Capul Island, once a favorite guidepost for seafarers. During the Spanish era, galleons stopped over here en route to Manila, their final destination. Ships voyaging to Acapulco, Mexico anchored in Capul (which is short for Acapulco) before proceeding on the last leg of their journey back."

See full article here.

And should you wish to visit the place, it's fiesta is on July 30 to 31. Tara!

Monday, June 22, 2009

My 30 Seconds of "Fame"

I just had a busy, crazy week.

Two of my company's most senior executives were in Tokyo for business meetings. This coincided with President Arroyo's state visit focusing on the arrangements for the JPEPA.

Friday was so hectic. We were rushing from one meeting to another. And by the end of the day, a big celebration was scheduled in observance of Philippine Independence Day and the Migrant Workers' Day. PGMA was the guest of honor.

The entire presidential entourage was in the hall - congressmen, senators, cabinet members, press people and chuwariwariwaps. Most of the Filipino invitees were in their regal Filipiniana.

PGMA addressed the very excited and supportive crowd and conferred awards to some Filipino achievers and Japanese supporters.

Then the finale.

It was a medley of Filipino nationalistic songs by professional singers in Japan (one was a former Bagong Kampeon Grand Champion, another was a champion in a Japan-wide singing contest).

One odd inclusion was an upstart singer, who should have known better to just stay as a banker-lawyer. But he had no choice as it was the Labor Attache's personal order. So he hesitantly joined and did try to simply blend with the powerhouse cast. Unfortunately, he seemed to have brought in the most number of "pala". So when it was his turn to do a solo, he received a remarkably loud applause that even the President noticed. The Secretary of Labor informed her that the one singing was the representative of a government bank to Tokyo. She looked at the Bank's President who was in the crowd and waived at her.

At the end of the song, the singers went up the stage and brought the VIPs forward. People swear the President was teary-eyed (that was one of the most welcoming crowds during her recent overseas trips, some claimed).

After the last dramatic note, the President congratulated the singers. When it was the upstart's turn, she asked "Ikaw ba yung sa ****Bank? ". "Yes Ma'am", he meekly answered. "Ang galing mo ah!". Then Senator Angara butted in, "Di ka lang pala bankero, singer pa!".

That folks was the Islander's 30 seconds of fame. :-)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Cheonggyecheon: Urban Renewal Showcase

I tried imagining a river at the very heart of an industrializing city and the image that sticks is a picture of a terribly filthy, thrash-filled waterway. And yes, littered with shanties of all types and sizes.

That I was told, was how Cheonggyecheon looked liked in the early fifties, when Korea was just beginning to run the course of industrialization. What used to be a fabled stream became so deteriorated, the Korean government decided to cover it with concrete and construct an elevated highway thereon.

That highway stayed there until 2003, when the City of Seoul reversed the national government's design and removed it. What for? In order to restore the 6 kilometer stream that once ran through it, thru a mechanized source (the water now is pumped up as the original stream source has dried up). The cost? A whopping USD 280 Million!

They said there was strong opposition to the project early on. But now, this place has become a favorite hang-out for Koreans, especially so during summertime.

How I wish we could do the same thing with Manila's waterways, but of course I know that's just but a dream.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Seoul After Dark

I asked our consultant's Korean secretary to write instructions for the taxi driver so I could get back to the man-made river in downtown Seoul. I was there earlier in the day for some meetings, but I forgot to bring my camera.

As the taxi sped-up, I knew we were treading unfamiliar territory. I tried talking to the driver, but he spoke no English. It was only when we crossed a bridge and headed towards the dock that I realized that the secretary's note was for the river cruise.

It was by then past 7:00 p.m but the sun was just about to set. Hmm. Seoul sunset. Why not? I checked the foreground: not spectacular. But I took the above sunset shot just the same.

I decided to take the cruise hoping to get afternoon-to-night shots. Here are some of those I got.

(Korean Parliament Building)

Apparently, the cruise was unlike that of Tokyo which traverses the very heart of the city. But it was still part of my knowing Seoul better, so i'm not complaining. I'll just try to get more night shots from the Seoul Tower area next time.

Monday, June 1, 2009


Just got back from Seoul.

There's AH1N1 there. But more in Japan though.

As we passed immigration, all of us were given yellow cards. With instructions on where to go, what number to call - in case we start feeling weird.

I'm closely looking at it now. Should I call, should I not.

I got home early from work. I started having slight fever this morning. I needed to rest. I am crossing my fingers it aint that bad.


I woke up feeling a little better today. I guess I'll be fine.