Thursday, August 29, 2013

[Throwback Thursday 08.29.2013] Recruitment through pictures

So they say that a picture paints a thousand words, which is why photographs have always proven powerful tools in recruiting new members for our mountaineering club. The visual impact is immediate and enticing. And though I'm no longer an active member, I'm glad that the Smart Mountaineering Club has continued on what we've started some nine years ago and is now recruiting for its 8th batch of trainees.

The recruitment booth active members have set up at our lobby -- replete with pictures, a tent, and other camping gear -- reminds me of exhibits past. These here are photos taken from my phone back in June 2005 (which explains the lousy resolution) when we were setting up a photo exhibit to recruit a new batch of trainees, the club's 2nd actually.

tbt 2013 08 29_smc exhibit 2003_01
A slice of the finished product. I must say that the photos really got a lot of people excited back then.

tbt 2013 08 29_smc exhibit 2003_02
Posing by an exhibit panel, trying to play cute.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

GUEST POST | Ang aking unang karanasan sa pakikibaka

Yesterday, August 26, 2013, it happened. Throngs of people trooped to the Luneta Park grounds in Manila to call for the abolition of the pork barrel and to demand accountability from those who have misused it.

Before this, citizens -- taxpayers most of all -- were already enraged by rampant corruption in government highlighted by the alleged Php 10 billion pork barrel scam involving Janet Lim-Napoles, who is now in hiding after a warrant for her arrest was issued. Then just less than two weeks ago, the Commission on Audit (COA) released a bombshell of a special audit report on the PDAF, and people went berserk on social media. Almost immediately, the call to join a rally at Luneta spread online.

Silence from both Palace and lawmakers followed, as if they were stunned. Then one by one we hear them either suddenly declaring their support for the abolition of the pork barrel or pathetically trying to defend the need for it, only to flip-flop later on. We also heard parties, the Palace included, trying to discredit the COA report on grounds of inaccurate figures (that were, by the way, only based on erroneous records of the Department of Budget and Management). And then the ultimate act of desperation came with BS Aquino's announcement that it was time to abolish the pork barrel when just days ago he adamantly defended it. More so, he never really intends to abolish it because by supposedly implementing a new and better system, he is merely doing a "makeover" on the PDAF, perhaps even disguising it as something else. It was arguably a last-ditch effort to stop the rally from happening.

#MillionPeopleMarch (gma7)
Aerial shot of the Luneta rally. [Photo from]

Saturday, August 24, 2013

FRAGRANCE | Individuel by Mont Blanc

It's no secret that I'm a sucker for scents. I mean, I never really leave the house without putting on some cologne or EDT. However, I try hard not to open too many bottles at once. It should only be two or three in rotation at any given time.

So just recently I was happy to have finally opened my bottle of Individuel by Mont Blanc that I got last December. Yes, it's been more than half a year already and I'm only using it now. I should be rewarded for my discipline.

mont blanc_individuel

Thursday, August 22, 2013

[Throwback Thursday 08.22.2013] Reaching out with the Smart Mountaineering Club

It's saddening to see a lot of families badly affected by another calamity yet again. But then it's still always good to know that there are always people who are willing to help. And I'm proud to say that my fellow members of the Smart Mountaineering Club (SMC), of which I was once an active member, are but a few of the many people you can always count on. More so, this club has been there in almost everything from relief operations to tree planting activities, book donations, and several other outreach activities.

2013 08 22_smc books-school supplies donation (mt talamitam)
SMCnoys distributing some books and school supplies to a small community at the foot of Mt Talamitam in Batangas from way back August 3, 2005.

This photo here is but a reminder of SMC's readiness to serve in whatever way, a simple book and school supplies donation to a small community at the foot of Mt Talamitam in Nasugbu, Batangas way back in August 2005. Members simply pitched in: old books, school supplies, or money, and member-volunteers took charge of bringing the goods to the community.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

#PDAFscam | My recommendations based on COA's audit findings

It is no secret that the Philippine government -- whether of administrations past or present -- is corrupt, and to dismiss it as mere public opinion is downright insulting. It is in this regard that we welcome, however enraged we might be with them, all these exposés on the misuse and pocketing of pork barrel funds. Many of us taxpayers have been expressing our anger at this government that shows no genuine regard for its people and that does not have an iota of any sense of accountability at all.

While so-called "pork barrel queen" Janet Napoles is in hiding, which, by the way, is really no surprise given her extensive connections with the most high in government, the Commission on Audit (COA) released a report on their special audit of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or more widely known as the pork barrel fund. The report sent more bloods boiling -- mine included -- and prompted more angry tweets and posts, including calls to stop paying taxes, and which even led to the conception of a protest march in Luneta on August 26. Meanwhile, the collective silence of the Palace and of our legislators is deafening.

interaksyon_abolish pork barrel
[Photo from]

The special audit covered PDAF releases by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Central Office and Regional Offices III, V, XI, and National Capital Region; and the utilization of funds and implementation of projects from 2007 to 2009 by select implementing agencies (IAs) based on materiality of amounts released to them. Please note that not all regions and IAs were covered by the review, and that these releases were during the Arroyo administration.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Theo & Philo: Soy sauce and black pepper in your chocolate bar

New variant: milk chocolate adobo

Yes, you've read it right: an adobo-flavored milk chocolate bar! But it really shouldn't come as much of a surprise because it's from Theo & Philo, the Philippine artisan chocolate brand that introduced us to such flavors as Calamansi (a local citrus), Green Mango and Sea Salt, and Labuyo (red chili).

Last Thursday, founder Philo Chua did a short talk at our company about his experiences of being an entrepreneur. It was there that I got to try the new variant milk chocolate adobo. While you can definitely smell the adobo, there's no real meat in the bar. The milk chocolate is still the top flavor but it's the soy sauce and black pepper taste that linger in your mouth. I like it.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

COBIT 5 and my fear of exams

Earlier on July 17-19, 2013, two of my colleagues and I attended a COBIT 5 foundation certification course, which culminated in a 50-item examination that we had to pass. COBIT 5 is a business framework that provides an end-to-end view for the governance and management of enterprise IT. This latest edition follows COBIT 4.1 and has expanded its scope by integrating other major frameworks, standards and resources like ITIL, and related standards from the ISO.


As mentioned in a prior post, I have an irrational fear of exams, so this stressed me out to the max. Usually I'd go to trainings with nary a care in the world but because this one was a certification course, there was a lot of weight on my shoulders. I was scurred (scared).

In retrospect, I think I was scared because:

Thursday, August 15, 2013

[Throwback Thursday 08.15.2013] Auditioning for Spider-man

2013 08 xx_wall climbing in manila 01.png
It was quite the audition process; very physical.

So long ago this all seemed. This was sometime in 2004 when I was auditioning for Spider-man. Unfortunately I didn't get the part. Not even a callback!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Regatta extends summer with Fall 2013 collection

One good thing about living in a tropical country is that it's practically summer all year round. Yes, even in this rainy season we can always count on having moments of sunlight, however brief they may be. And local clothing brand Regatta seems to recognize this. With its trademark nautical-inspired look, Regatta is a brand I usually associate with summer. So how would a fall collection from this brand look like? Just like summer, of course!

Life's a beach with Regatta.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

MEDICAL | I'm a stoner (Part 2)

(Continued from Part 1)

The culprit for my vomiting, abdominal and back pains has been identified: I had stones in my common bile duct (CBD). These stones constrict the normal flow of bile from the gallbladder to the duodenum, resulting in dilation of the bile ducts and inflammation of the liver. Jaundice is also often observed in patients. Because of the dilation, this obstruction also puts pressure on adjacent internal organs, hence, the sharp pain and vomiting. If left unattended, this could cause infection and can even be life-threatening. This presence of stones in the CBD is known as choledocholithiasis.

While stones that end up in the CBD are often gallstones, mine was not the case as my gallbladder was clear, meaning, the stones weren't formed there. What x-ray and ultrasound imagery found, however, was that I also had multiple stones all throughout the intrahepatic ducts of my liver. This other condition is known as hepatolithiasis.

01to illustrate position of hepatolithiasis and cholodecholithiasis1
An x-ray shot of an ERCP procedure. Notice where the intrahepatic ducts and the CBD are. The presence of stones in the former is referred to as hepatolithiasis and choledocholithiasis if in the latter. [Photo source:; with labels added]

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Theodore Hotel: A bit pricey, but nice

There's definitely no shortage of hotels and B&Bs in Tagaytay, so it's always nice to try a new one each time. A few weeks ago we gave The Theodore Hotel a try.

Oh no, the metal horse is sucking out my brains! Beware of this creature at the lobby!

Never mind the "hotel" attached to the name because it is not. The Theodore is a 10-room bed and breakfast right along the main Tagaytay-Calamba Road. If you're coming from Sta. Rosa, Laguna, it's after the Tagaytay Rotunda. One characteristic of this B&B, though, is that I find their rooms pretty expensive. Now if it's worth it, read on.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

[Throwback (Travel) Thursday 08.08.2013] Camiguin Island by my lonesome

Since I featured an unusual diner at Cagayan de Oro last week, I thought of venturing not too far away from that city for this week's throwback post -- Camiguin Island.

2013 08 xx_camiguin 01
"Meditating" under the sun at White Island, Camiguin.

All Saints'/All Souls' Day weekend of 2003, I found myself aboard a fast craft from CDO to Camiguin. I was alone on one of my little side trips while out of town for work. I'm not sure, though, if the fast craft ferry service is still around today since it had already been an on again, off again thing at the time. It seemed that even if this mode of transport effectively cuts travel time in half, most people still preferred the hard way: a two-hour bus ride to the port of Balingoan, then another hour aboard a slow ferry.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

MEDICAL | I'm a stoner (Part 1)

Another hospital confinement had just been averted, thank God. Had it not, I would have been holed up in Makati Med for at least a week--again (although it's been a year since my last).

Blood cultures don't show growth until the third day. While it's often enough time to determine if the bacterial strain is gram-positive or gram-negative, it takes a full five to seven days before the particular type of bacteria can be identified. Because certain bacteria are resistant to certain antibiotics, only then can the doctors be sure if the antibiotics they're giving me will really work against those pesky microorganisms. Do the math; that's approximately how long I need to be confined at the minimum.

rsz2012 08 08_133230
Had I not avoided confinement, I would have been tethered to a pole once again. And no, there's no wireless tethering available.

Saturday towards noon I started having chills. It was an all-too-familiar scenario for us, one that we definitely do not welcome at all. It meant a fever was starting and it meant I have an infection. Ascending cholangitis, here we go again.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

[Throwback Thursday 08.01.2013] The first officer without a captain

It was sad news learning that there was a bombing in Cagayan de Oro last weekend. Having been there a couple of times already, I have such fond memories of the city. I've already attended their fiesta at least once, been to Mapawa Nature Park, tried whitewater rafting, sampled out several restaurants and night spots, and basically just had fun each time. It's a nice and peaceful city, so such an act of terror was of course very upsetting.

After work, or if I simply wanted to take a break, I would often find myself in some coffee shop right across the Limketkai Mall, where there was also this cool restaurant called P. Joe's Diner.

2013 08 01_pilot at cdo diner 01

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