Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Lazaro Clan 2010/2011

I left the Philippines in 2006 and since then, I have been trying my best to visit them every year. This year's visit was dramatic, revealing and a lot of fun.
More faces are added to the clan. There are some new wives and a lot of new husbands. With these new couples are dozens of children--some of which I do not recognize anymore.
Of course, I also miss a lot of old faces. There are some that I wanted to see but have already passed on. There are some that I wanted to see but they already have other clans of their own.
I hope you enjoy these photos and videos of those fun moments that I had the past holidays.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Meeting Carlos Celdran

I have been to Intramuros countless of times. Steven has been there last year. Why did I go there again during my latest trip to Manila?
Carlos Celdran.
I have heard about Carlos long before emigrated from the Philippines in 2006 but my admiration blossomed when he made a very unique protest last year. He did not like the Catholic Church's stance on the Reproductive Health bill which will help our fellow Filipinos to better manage the size of their families.
I was beyond ecstatic when I saw him. I wanted to tell him that I believe that he will be an important part of history. I wanted to thank him for waking us Filipinos from apathy towards the church's abuse of its power and influence.
I wanted to scream and hug him but I didn't. I only settled for a photo with him.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Food Trip/Guilt

I am fat. No, I am not denying it. I was 64 kilos right before moving to Adelaide in 2008. Last month, I was 70 kilos. Right after our plane landed in Adelaide last week, I weighed 72 kilos.
I admit I have been very lazy working harder in the gym. I seldom push myself to the limits anymore.

I have also been less careful of the things I put in my mouth and my time in Manila last Christmas holidays made things worse. I just had to eat everytime I see something I miss or something that is new.

One night in Singapore was spent eating anything exotic--genuine Chinese congee, Singaporean seafood soups, fish cakes, etc. I felt I had to make the most of my very limited time there.
My friend Dinah took us to a Korean restaurant near Rockwell. I scoffed several pounds of veggies. Though it was healthy, I think I just ate way too much--enough to feed an entire family.
But the most delicious shit I found during this trip came from Laguna. It is Lety's Buko Pie. It is the best version of the classic young coconut pastry I have ever had. It oozed with very soft sweet coconut meat covered in delectably crumbly crust.

As you can see, I have done so much damage on my body and I want to go back to this figure. This is one of the last photos I have taken of myself in Bangkok three years ago. Do you think I can go back to 64 kilos by the middle of 2011?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The State of Philippine Museums

I love going to museums. It is like History 101 for any country in the world and that is why I went to a lot during our latest visit to the Philippines. We visited University of the Philippines' Vargas Museum, Makati's Ayala Museum and Manila's Pambansang Museo and the Museum of the Filipino People.
The National Museum was shameful and embarrassing. Although it houses some of the most expensive painting in the country, these art pieces are so dirty that one could only guess the real colour sand details of the art pieces. Many of the animal skeletons are either missing or broken and all are hidden in the dark. Most of the museum is actually closed and blocked from public viewing as these parts are being rebuilt. Nevertheless, it is depressing that the place that should contain the things that define us as a country is in shambles.
The Museum of the Filipino People stands right beside the National Museum and it charges everyone a 100 peso fee upon entering. I am not really sure why but half of their collection focus on shipwrecks and relics found in them. They definitely do not reflect the Filipino people. Half of their collection is devoted to indigenous tools but many of the explanations are missing and/or kept in the dark where nobody can read them.
The Vargas Museum is a must for students learning how to paint as it is also a home to some priceless paintings. It also has some very recent paintings that have become very popular (i.e. Joy Mallari's "Doll Eyes") and works of aspiring artists. Unfortunately, the priceless paintings can only be viewed at certain days and at certain hours of those days. And we missed those few hours.

The Ayala Museum is a private museum owned by the Ayala Corporation (who else?). Its presentation of the Philippine democratic history history in diorama is even better than what I have seen in Australia. But the most memorable part of their collection are the gold pieces. I did not know that we produced so much jewelry and goldenware before the Spaniards came. Many of these pieces even date as far as the 10th century. That collection really made me proud that we had such a rich life before the white people came. The only downside to this museum is there is a different fee for foreigners--a 100% difference.
So I thought that I was going to introduce Steven to Philippine history and culture but instead, I was able to show him a representation of the Philippines' present state. As the government-owned museums are in shambles and in the dark and so is our own government. As we see glimpses of our beauty once in a while, we also see glimpses of our ugliness half of the time. Only the big private corporations give us light but then they also reflect the great disparity between the rich and the poor.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Jaw-dropping Singapore

Last year, Steven and I did not leave Changi Airport on our way to Manila. We regretted it because we felt there was something big outside.
Last December, we saved some of our vacation money for Singapore. With only typed instructions from friends, we ventured out this high-tech city.
We stayed at the Hotel 81 in Chinatown, very close to a metro station. Public transport system made our jaw drop several times. These trains run every few minutes, they are fast and their routes are easy to understand.
The street stalls offer various cuisines from mainland China, Hong Kong, India, Vietnam and even Thailand. I am guilty of binge-eating in Singapore eventhough we stayed for one night only.
I have never seen a city as multi-cultural and multi-national. We saw Australian and Filipino businesses. We heard languages from different parts of the world in public places and even as public announcements. And Singaporeans can also speak English!!!

How can this city-state be so high-tech and efficient on one hand and so traditional on the other? I ate on the street and yet there was a security camera pointed at me. Chinese dragons and merlions are around and yet I see people attached to mobile devices.

In an eerie way, I also felt like I was home in the Philippines because of the number of Filipinos living there. In every corner, I heard Tagalog. If I were single, Singapore would definitely be on my short list of countries to live in.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Bagging South Australia

I have lived in three different cities already and sadly, my birthplace is the dirtiest. Grey skies greet any newcomer upon landing. Your throat and your eyes will burn upon setting foot out of the ridiculously small airport.

Filipinos and the local businesses are trying to change though. There are days when you have to bring your own shopping bags. I have also discovered that most of the shopping bags right now are degradable.

I know it takes several months to completely break down one plastic bag but at least it is one step towards environmental sensitivity.
South Australia has already banned the use of plastic bags in many businesses (except for video shops, department stores, meat shops, etc.) but I am sure all SA businesses can afford to use degradable bags alongside recyclable ones. I usually do not know what to do with my huge heap of plastic bags at home.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Having An Affair

I bought my first high definition TV a few months ago and my partner can testify that I am having an affair with it. It seems I cannot live without it. I spend so many hours with it. I even think of it while I lay in bed with my partner.

Our Samsung LA40C650 just makes everything fucking brilliant. My blu ray movies appear three-dimensional because the computer in the TV produces images in a very fast manner. TV shows look like they were shot with a handy cam because one can even notice the imperfections of the cameraman's hands. Youtube videos also look very clear as they are streamed directly on to the TV itself.
Nowadays, it is a pain visiting other people's homes as many of the people we know still have CRTs. They flicker a lot and are just too small. Yes, I am a size queen!

Airplane monitors are the worst. They are way too dark and the definition is all over the place. It feels like I am wasting my time trying to decipher what I am looking at--is that King Kong or a man in an ape suit or is that a black brush with limbs?

I am sure I am not alone. High-definition TVs are changing our standard of how TV images should look like all the time.