So far, so good

What for should I ask more

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Appeal to support the calamity victims in Eastern Samar

Reposting this from an email I got from Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan. Let's all help please!

We would like to appeal to your or your organization for immediate assistance as we respond to the call for relief in the province of Eastern Samar.

Eastern Samar was placed under a state of calamity last February 19 due to continuous floods and landslides. Although no typhoon has passed the region, 15 days of non-stop downpour affected thousands of families; damaged millions of crops and destroyed hectares of agricultural land.

As of February 25, 2008, the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Eastern Samar reported:

Affected: 33,385 families or 165,930 persons

Casualties: dead: 11; injured: 28; missing: 3

Damaged houses: destroyed: 498; partially damaged: 2,913

Damages to agriculture: No rice production harvest expected due to 100% of their ricefields submerged under the floods.

Health concerns: Cases of diarrhea were detected in all localities in Eastern Samar due to the contamination of water sources.

To ensure reliability of the report, the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Borongan confirms these numbers through the parishes for reliability.

With disaster relief only trickling in, we need all the help we could get. Please send your donations through Ayala Foundation's Relief ops via:

Type DONATE_amount_mpin_AYALAFOUNDATION and send to 2882.

BPI Direct Deposit:
Ayala Foundation - Social Development
Account # 0011-1490-22
Fax your deposit slips to (02) 813-4488, Attn: Ayala Young Leaders

In-kind Donations: Only the ff. items will be accepted: medicine, rice, canned goods and water. (drop off point still under coordination)

For more information, please contact Ayala Foundation at 752-1065 or 752-1084. Look for Ralph Morales or Tin Feliciano.

Thank you very much.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Good night and thank you, Lola

For generous heaps of leche flan on top of ice cream, served for breakfast, lunch or dinner;

For thousands of stamps collected, sorted, and sent across time and space to indulge a philatelist’s hobby;

For simple piety and quiet faith;

For kilometers of recorded audio messages, videotaped events, and carefully guarded photographs of experiences silly and solemn;

For weathering toddler tantrums and billowing snowstorms;

For remembering birthdays and anniversaries and phone numbers of almost all members of the family, even though they forget yours;

For always being the one to take that final peek from the window or the door before the family leaves, just to make sure that jackets are warm enough, the car’s tires are inflated;

For believing that I’ll find The One even when I’ve given up;

For standing by your man, lifting your children on your shoulders, and even hoisting theirs further aloft;

For raising a daughter that is to be my mother;

For accomplishing your mission with flying colors-

Good night and thank you, Lola!

(Sorry I wasn’t able to take care of you… I’m sure my Dr. Mom did a job more fantastic than I ever can do… Thank you for believing in me enough to consult the most minor aches and complaints even if I’m thousands of kilometers away. At least now that you're in the presence of our Lord the Great Healer, there will be no more pain.)

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Learning how to teach, teaching how to learn

As a student, we’ve always thought that we have the hardest life, considering all the essays we had to write, reports we had to turn in, plus the quizzes and exams we had to take, among other student concerns. Teachers then seemed to be stern taskmasters out to make life hell for us. “Nice” teachers were hard to come by.

But now that I work in a university and on the other side of the proverbial teacher’s table, I’ve come to realize that a teacher’s life is not as easy as it seemed. Teachers have a thousand and one responsibilities- from putting together lesson plans, to executing these teaching strategies; from preparing examinations to grading them; from managing rowdy students to managing difficult co-teachers.
Teacher Lingo!
Good thing there is Teacher Lingo, an “educational community to connect teachers from every level.” This is an online one-stop shop for tips and tricks to handle the challenges any teacher might face in and out of the classroom.

The strength of the site is in its wide array of teachers’ blogs where teachers can learn from each other how to handle classroom crises like making calculus interesting or controlling cheating during exams. There are also blogs by other stakeholders in the education sector like parents, PTA’s, teachers of students with special needs, and even retired teachers.
Teacher Lingo blogs!
For teachers with more specific needs, sample lesson plans are also shared in Teacher Lingo. They can learn which methods work (and do not work!) which will hopefully lead to a more significant classroom experience for both the teachers and students.
Teacher Lingo lesson plans!
As a way of recognizing those selfless mentors who continue to share their lesson plans for others to gain knowledge from, Teacher Lingo will be giving away two $50 gift cards from either or Barnes & Noble this coming March. So keep uploading those lessons plans and help more teachers and students learn!

Teacher Lingo is indeed a valuable online resource for any individual or group who believes in the great value of education and is committed to make learning a meaningful but still fun experience for everyone- whatever side of the teacher’s table s/he/they maybe sitting on.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

PhotoHunt 98/5: Wooden

For me, one of the best tv shows being currently shown is Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. It’s an hour-long program detailing how a crew of volunteer designers, carpenters, plumbers, and contractors build for a deserving family a whole, live-able home, almost always from scratch, in just seven days. The homes are always, always way better than their previous version- there maybe an entirely new storey now or an elevator for a wheelchair-confined kid or a dinosaur-motif bedroom. The new home just blows the family away and gives them a renewed sense of hope and freedom.

I’m drawing inspiration again from Gawad Kalinga which I wrote about in last week’s PhotoHunt. The photo above is the welcome marker in Gawad Kalinga Bangusville Village in Dagupan City, Pangasinan, located some 200 kilometers north of the Philippine capital Manila. Bangus is the local term for milkfish, a freshwater fish that is typically found and grown in the area. The village is now home to at least 50 families who now have roofs over their heads and sturdier shelter against the storms that regularly pound their area from the South China Sea. The impact of these new homes is like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition x 50.

Botika sa Bakuran = Backyard Pharmacy
Gawad Kalinga homes have the most basic of amenities but these amenities are the things that matter most to them. There are also some special innovations that cater to their special needs. Given the rising cost of medicines and in recognition of the wisdom of the ages, the village residents put together an herbal garden where they grow plants with medicinal value. This common garden has a caretaker who sees to it that the plants are taken care of, that leaves of the most sought-after plants are not plucked to point of baldness. But that’s not really a problem since the residents have a great sense of community, enough to make them care enough for their neighbors to leave leaves for the others’ possible needs.

If you want to learn more about Gawad Kalinga or if you want to help, please read my previous posts about GK and visit its official website.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

PhotoHunt 97/4: Free

A fluttering flag. A fist raised in defiance.

These would be among the first, the standard imagery evoked by free. But I guess what trumps these two is what I placed above- kids, all smiles, in their playful best, full of candor with nary a care in the world. Choose any kid, and s/he would be a perfect candidate for freedom personified.

But these Filipino kids are more free than most of their peers because they now have a home of their own. They reside in the colorful homes behind them, a result of a massive development program in the Philippines called Gawad Kalinga (which translated to English is Give Care).

Gawad Kalinga or GK is an integrated area development program which aims to alleviate poverty in the Philippines by mobilizing the spirit of generosity and heroism among Filipinos and foreigners alike. Roughly equivalent to the established Habitat for Humanity, GK has community organizing, shelter, health, education, environment, livelihood, child and youth development, and values formation components to make it a holistic approach to development. The program aims to build 700,000 homes in 7,000 communities in 7 years- given the level of poverty we have to contend with in the Philippines. Over the last four years of the program, GK and its partners have built about 2,000 villages with some 30-60 homes per villages in almost all provinces in the Philippines, including villages in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.

The residents of the villages help themselves by putting in sweat equity- clocking in and average of 200 hours of labor building their neighbors’ homes. However, they are not alone: students, doctors, factory workers, expats, yuppies, overseas Filipino workers, CEO’s have donated their time and energy to haul bricks and paint homes; teach art and math; conduct health lectures and treat patients; plant trees and grow vegetables to make the residents and their village regain their dignity as human beings.

Erstwhile slums- like the area where the homes above are built on in BASECO in Tondo, Manila- are being transformed into oases where anyone and everyone can now hope, dream-

And be free.

You can learn more about Gawad Kalinga here and from its official website.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

The First Quisumbing-Escandor Film Festival for Health

*UPDATE: Click here to find out the winners in the 1st Quisumbing - Escandor Film Festival for Health*

Be it to Victorian England, or Times Square in New York, or a parallel world of wizards on broomsticks- the movie house is that proverbial transportation hub that ships us out to worlds other than our own. For many, movies are an unwitting means by which we get to be transported to a place so distant we temporarily escape the harsh realities of the milieu we are in, if only for two glorious hours or so. Vicarious victories are enjoyed, onscreen riches are savored, and communal catharsis is reached just as the end credits begin to roll.

Then there is another role of film- to force the spotlight from things mundane to things that ought to REALLY matter. Film has the ability- and responsibility, actually- to attract attention to things that have been rendered unimportant, voiceless, faceless by society too distracted by frivolities. Film can- and must- act as that magnifying lens that helps dissect issues, clarify details, and stimulate discussion that will lead to appropriate action.

Film takes seriously that responsibility as the plight of health is placed front and center with The First Quisumbing-Escandor Film Festival for Health (QEFF). The QEFF is a nationwide competition for amateur filmmakers whose main challenge is to capture on film that delicate interplay among the socioeconomic, political, cultural, and environmental factors affecting health and wellbeing.

The film festival is named after two alumni of the UP College of Medicine- Dr. Honorato Quisumbing (Class of 1945) and Dr. Johnny Escandor (Class of 1969). Dr. Quisumbing was a medical intern at the Philippine General Hospital as World War II was drawing to a close. He was killed while in the service of the sick and needy Filipinos housed in the PGH. Dr. Escandor was a prominent student activist who eventually gave up a promising medical career to fight the Marcos dictatorship, resulting to his death said to be carried out by Marcos’s henchmen. True to the nature of its namesake, the filmfest promises to be a bold expression of the dismal state of healthcare delivery in the Philippines while at the same time it aims to be a medium for inspiring and spurring people to action.

Some 60 entries and guest presentations from Filipino and foreign filmmakers will be shown for free from February 18-20, 2008 in the following venues:

at the Cine Adarna – UP Film Center in Diliman from 5-9pm;

Rm 222 of Calderon Hall and the Center for Community-Oriented Medical Education at the Paz Mendoza Bldg, both in the UP College of Medicine, Pedro Gil Street, Manila from 6pm onwards.

Competition winners will be announced at awarding ceremonies at the PhilAm Life Auditorium along UN Avenue on February 21, 2008 at 6pm.

The First Quisumbing-Escandor Film Festival for Health is a collaboration among the Mu Sigma Phi Fraternity of the UP College of Medicine, Health Futures, Inc, and the Department of Health, with the participation of other partners companies and institutions.

If we can support films that showcase senseless gore and violence or TV medical dramas that tug at our hearts with their endless love triangles and “insider’s view of the real life of doctors”, surely we can rally behind the QEFF. It’s time to see the real state of health in the Philippines, minus the spin and whitewash.

It’s time life takes its cue from art taking cue from life.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Never lost, always found (11): Valentine's 2008

Just another day... Like any other day...

Spent the first half of the day at home, still hounded by a tenacious respiratory tract bug... Thankfully, azithromycin is kicking in already...

Accompanied students in their monthly health education session with volunteer village health workers in a health center in Pasay City... We had a discussion and workshop about immunization...

The students gave heart-shaped candies to everyone in the center...

Spent almost two hours rummaging through an upscale department store for a gift for a friend who's getting married on Saturday...

Expressed love for my car by having it washed and waxed...

Got to talk to my parents in the US before they went to work...

Got to talk to a very, very good friend who's currently admitted to a hospital in Malaybalay...

Got to talk to a very, very good friend who's currently working in Thailand...

Finished a whole box of pizza as The Amazing Race Asia 2 came to a thrilling end... Congratulations Adrian and Collin, winners of The Amazing Race Asia 2!!! (Congratulations Pamela and Vanessa for clocking the second fastest time... Congratulations Marc and Rovilson for making it to the final three... Your numerous pit stop first place finishes and their corresponding prizes already make you winners =])

Bought my most "extravagant" ENTRECARD ad to date- 211 credits to post an ad in Ms Noemi's wonderful, wonderful blog

Had my Wives and Daughter fix for the week, a period English mini-series shown on the new Velvet Channel...

Updating my blog now...

Hmmm... practically spent the whole day with bits and pieces of whom or what I love here on earth... My work, my family, my friends, my car, my television, my blog...

An ordinary day- but not the least bit bad...

Not a bad day at all =]

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Blogs to swim into on a hot, humid day

Due to my foray into Entrecard and PhotoHunt, money-making ventures like SponsoredReviews, Project Wonderful and, plus the rudiments of my day job at the university, I have been remiss in visiting the blogs I've subscribed to in Bloglines. If memory serves me write, I last read their entries during the Christmas holiday season. Shame on me, I know!

And so it was a source of immense joy and no surprise really that each of my favorite bloggers have posted quite a number of entries. They were the perfect remedy to soothe my sore soul, today that I played truant.

Alex has began his countdown to their graduation from the Philippine Military Academy. If from his blog posts alone, the Filipino people can rest assured that the newer breed of soldiers have a good head on their shoulders and a matching heart dedicated to the nation.

Nina is remaining true to her UP upbringing, proven by her insightful entries with regard to the latest political issues hogging the headlines.

Ding also places his two-cents into the political currents but his own foray into photography is what's on top of his blogging consciousness as of late.

Aryo and Carlo are both enjoying the jetset life, with the former spending time in Japan, while the latter has been exploring the Visayas islands. Awaiting your photos and posts, guys!

Benj is still (happily?) enduring life in medical school, with occasional sojourn into the world of debate and food.


And last, but not the least, a very, very good buddy LC is still churning out blog posts ranging from the profound to the petty, each with his own stamp of wit, wistfulness, and wisdom. His blog is still peppered with original artwork- of the visual and written variants. I'm glad that his legion of fans still come in droves, each of which I know he has built genuine friendships with.

And as he grows a year older today and for all days of his life, may his mind remain alert, his eyes keen, his ears piqued, his tongue patient, his heart compassionate, his hands steady, his knees sturdy, his feet quick. May creative juices never run dry, mental blocks last for mere milliseconds, blank pages be filled in a jiffy, his tolerance for other people's imperfections be equal to if not greater than tolerance for his own =]



Thank God for bloggers like you. You guys remind me why I blog in the first place. Seriously.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Sound financial advice for today's challenging times

Conventional wisdom holds that it is actually easy to earn a living; how to make the most out of what we earn- there lies the challenge. And at this time of an impending economic crunch, low-, middle-, and even high-income individuals and families should value each penny that goes to our pockets. Sadly, not everyone is willing and/or able to maximize his or her income.

Luckily for Canadians, help with regard to understanding financial matters can be accessed online. Since 2005, Canadian Money Advisor has been the source of timely quality information to help Canucks make sound financial decisions.

How opportune that I can share this site to one Canuck family- or more accurately, a Canuck-to-be family- I know personally! A cousin, his wife, and their three boys will be migrating to Canada in a few weeks’ time. As they ease into their new lives in Ontario, they would benefit from Canadian Money Advisor’s extensive discussion of Canadian secure credits cards.

Canadian secured credits cards, as I understand from the site, are a means to establish a solid credit history, like establishing a positive track record or “reputation” to banks and possible future lenders and creditors. Capital One Canada offers a secured credit card loaded with features such as excellent customer service representatives, access to cash and credit from millions of ATM and POS terminals, among others.

Canadian Money Advisor likewise has a special credit card blog. This credit card blog discusses a wide array of topics from tips to maximize the use of your Canadian secure credits cards, including your Capital One Canada, to understanding the jargon related to credit, debit, and investments, plus crash courses on economics and finance.

With its members’ fora, blog, and quality product suggestions, Canadian Money Advisor endeavors to live up to its mission:

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Julia Fordham's (Love Moves In) Mysterious Ways

It was a joy to watch Julia Fordham perform at the Glorietta last Sunday, February 10th. My sisterly connections allowed me to sit deadsmack in the center, three rows from her foot. I must admit that I am not a fan-fan, in the truest sense. I know who she is- who doesn't!, I know some of her songs, and her voice is just marvelous. But to paraphrase her last song for the night, loving her is easy 'coz she's such a beautiful singer...

Here's the only one among the dozen or so songs she performed in the concert which I managed to capture on video almost completely. The clips do her voice no justice due to their rather poor quality but I tell you- her performance in all her songs regardless of the medium (casette, CD, mp3, and live) is simply amazing.

Lest I forget, the Filipino band under the leadership of Toti Fuentes provided the excellent complementary touch to Julia Fordham's songs and lyrics.

Advance Happy Valentine's Day to everyone!

(Love Moves In) Mysterious Ways
written by Tom Snow and Dean Pitchford

Who'd have thought this is how the pieces fit
You and I shouldn't even try making sense of it
I forgot how we ever came this far
I believe we had reasons but I don't know what they are
Don't blame it on my heart, oh

Love moves in mysterious ways
It's always so surprising
When love appears over the horizon
I'll love you for the rest of my days
But still it's a mystery
How you ever came to me
Which only proves
Love moves in mysterious ways

Heaven knows love is just a chance we take
We make plans but then love demands a leap of faith
So hold me close and never never let me go
'Cos even though we think we know which way the river flows
That's not the way love goes, no

(Repeat chorus)

Like the ticking of a clock two hearts beat as one
But I'll never understand the way it's done, oh

(Repeat chorus)

Love moves... in mysterious ways....

Lyrics from Julia Fordham's official website and its associated lyrics link.

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Julia Fordham Live at the Glorietta, Makati City

Her voice is as ethereal as it is soothing. Her songs resonate with the emotions of lovestruck and luckless hearts. Her person seems benign but her onstage presence is as true and free-spirited as can be. Her concert is an experience.

Last chance to catch Julia Fordham at Ayala Malls this week:

Ayala Center Cebu
February 13, 2008

6:30 PM
South Surface Parking Area
Concierge Number: (032) 231-5342 local 324

February 15, 2008

8:00 PM
Greenbelt 3 Park
Concierge Number: (632) 757-4853

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

PhotoHunt 96/3: Heavy

I can almost hear James Earl Jones's "This is CNN" reverberate as I stood at the foreground of the network's ten-or-so-foot signage in its Atlanta, Georgia headquarters, December of 2006. As a tv addict and news junkie, it was an absolute thrill to be in their HQ, go through the Inside CNN tour, and see the television entity in action, usually separated from me by thousands of kilometers now just a thick pane of glass away.

More than the size of the ubiquitous red-and-white logo, the Cable News Network has made its presence felt in world affairs so much so that there is a political science and media arts theory called the CNN effect. As I understand it, this theory simply states that events gain a global audience- which may translate to the exponential rise of it significance- when broadcast by CNN and other networks of similar genre and penetration.

Instant stardom for protagonists, infamy for evil-doers.

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

PhotoHunt 95/2: Narrow

On the way to Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya- some 200-plus-odd kilometers north of the Philippine capital of Manila, the 4x4 we were riding in had to stop to give way to the oncoming downhill traffic, given the limited width of the gravel road.

These farmers and sellers are about to bring themselves and their produce to the lowlanders' markets. They gamely tossed two pieces of a local citrus fruit called dalandan our way as they passed, perhaps to thank us for letting them through, or perhaps to send a lifeline to a weary-looking bunch of travelers. We were on the road for at least eight hours already.

Regardless of the reason, their generosity, in the midst of their own economic hardship, is refreshing.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Entrecard just got better

Over the last month or so since I joined ENTRECARD, my initial apprehensions notwithstanding, I've a had a steadier stream of first-time visitor and more frequent re-visiting readers. It's quite gratifying for a newbie blogger like myself.

But when I opened the Entrecard homepage early this morning, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the ENTRECARD system just got better!

1. The dashboard now features not just the last 10 but the last 15 Entrecard users to have dropped their cards on my site.

2. And not only were the last 15 Entrecard users to have dropped their cards on my site featured plainly on a list but the array now pops up/out when the mouse is hovered over them. Neat!

3. A box on the dashboard now likewise gives a sneakpeek at the goings on in the Entrecard life of people in my Favorites list- from ads they've bought or sold, their own new favorites, etc.

4. And finally, there's a new identification system for card-droppers to represent their level of activity- from Casual-Droppers to Droppers-Who-Take-Dropping-Cards-Very-Very-Seriously. It's another guide I guess for advertisers, so we can choose where to place our ads. I'd of course place my ads on Card-Dropping addicts since they'd most likely receive dropped cards as well (and thus showcase my own ad!)

There are lots of other developments in the Entrecard world so do dropby the ENTRECARD blog for more update!

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