Thursday, 29 November 2007

Coup-quake!

Yes, another new word, and hyphenated at that!

On Tuesday of this week there was an earthquake here in the Philippines. Apparently it registered 5.4, though it didn't seem that different from the 3.somethings I experienced when I lived in Japan in 1996.

I was home.

The building swayed back and forth (or side-to-side, depending on which direction one was facing, I guess). Maybe it moved in a roundabout way, kind of like the rides at amusement parks that are always making people sick. I don't know. I don't care. Suffice it to say, like Carole King, I felt the earth move under my feet...or the wood floor, anyway.

Today was another of those rainy days (yesterday was beautiful, by the way) where you open the window, look outside, and say "bleh". Apparently it was also a good day for military coup plotters on trial for their 2003 coup attempt (including bombs planted in strategic shopping and hotel locations throughout Makati) to march out of the courthouse and into the streets demanding the resignation of President Arroyo. Apparently they had arms, and I don't mean the two that naturally hang from either side of most peoples shoulders. And they were in Makati.

Cancel any plans to go out towards the shopping areas today.

The first I heard of it was a phone call from Edson saying there were reports of another coup attempt. His officemates just shrugged their shoulders, as if to say "Gee, coup season already?"

Coups are, after all, the way in which each Philippine president ends their term. Too bad this hasn't been tried (or tried successfully....who knows, maybe it has been attempted) on Dubya.

I was about to get dressed to go get lunch. What does one wear to a coup?

Olive seemed out of the question!

Blue? No. Marines.

Black? No. Too K-9 unit.

Khaki? Still too military.

White? In the rain???

Uh, how about pink? Hmmmm....gotta go buy something orange or yellow or light green, but that'll have to wait for later, won't it?!

"Bleh."

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Let's Get Some Food

It has recently been said to me that I should know I've been in the Philippines long enough to be in-part Philippine-ized because while eating I'm a part of the conversation, if not it's initiator, about food.

On our trip to Iloilo in May, Edson warned me that his aunts would do this, and they did. While eating breakfast they were talking about what would be nice as a late morning snack.

During the snack, where to go for lunch.

During lunch, where to get dessert.

During dessert, where to go for coffee.

During coffee, where to go for merienda.

During merienda, where to go for dinner.

During dinner, where to go for dessert.

Our conversations in Manila go a bit further. We compare foods, we reminisce about the good meals or bad meals or the times we had during those meals.

Lately it has been about chicken.

Edson, like the vast majority of Filipinos, loves fried chicken. And we live at Fried Chicken Central.

Within a block's walk we have KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken, for those who remember what the acronym means), Tropical Hut, McDonald's (Yes, Americans, Mickie D's serves fried chicken in the Philippines), Max's, and Jollibee.

Everyone is always curious as to whether I prefer the food from the Filipino fast-food franchises or the American. That depends on what menu item we are speaking of, in this case, chicken.

One night last week Edson, our friends Kit, Inaki (Sorry, still can't figure out how to type a tilde here), Marje, and myself were talking about chicken over coffee. (See, I told you!)

Because the coffee shop was next door to Jollibee (In the Convergys building with all the call center workers busy helping OnStar motorists in trouble above us), their Chickenjoy was mentioned.

Chickenjoy, it is believed, is the favored fried chicken dish of the Philippines.

This is only a belief.

I have tried the chicken at all of the above-mentioned establishments and ironically found McDonald's to be most to my liking. KFC is a close second. Followed by Max's and Tropical Hut. There was chicken, but no joy, in my Chickenjoy sampling.

It was universally agreed upon that today's Jollibee Chickenjoy is inferior to the chicken offerings of the others.

Tropical Hut's came in low because it was dry. Jollibee's came in last because it had no taste.

No taste? Fried chicken with no taste?!

Amazing, but true. The rice (Yes, fried chicken is served with rice here. Everywhere. I know, it's weird. The Colonel is rolling in his grave thinking about it.) had more flavor! Of course, this makes Chickenjoy the perfect dish to serve to someone with a bad cold, since they can't taste anything anyway!

All the others recalled how once upon a time they had loved Chickenjoy, but had since switched, mostly to KFC and McDonald's. They felt quality has been slipping at Jollibee for several years.

Even an informal on-line survey I came across found twelve out of seventeen respondents preferred KFC over Chickenjoy.

This does not bode well for Jollibee, the only fast food franchise that dominates McDonald's in any market anywhere on earth.

Regarding other menu items, Jollibee does have a yummy fried peach mango pie; its only drawback being its teensy-tiny size. I did love their Aloha Burger (despite all the fillers), recently purged from their menu.

And this is what we talk about over coffee....fascinating, isn't it?

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Fffffffashion!

I am SO disappointed!

Knowing how critical and sarcastic my readers are, I thought for sure someone would have mentioned the Pigs in Space meets Napoleon Bonaparte and his milkmaids meets Stars on Ice meets 1980's gay new romantics movement fashions the models were wearing in my previous post.

At least, that's what I make of it.

Don't believe me? Here's a couple shots I found of the Muppets doing their Pigs in Space skits:


Now, here are our Filipino humanoid versions after being beamed down to a tropical island (Sand being the only link to Star Wars planet Tattooine. You just know Luke Skywalker would have rather been here than there!). Of course, this could also be a futuristic Napoleon (Either of the guys. Take your pick.) having just escaped the island of Elba with his three "friends". Read into that what you will. They're all supposed to be French.

What?

Yes, I know! But French and Filipino both begin with "F"! Isn't that similar enough?!

It got Dubya through Yale.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Island Getaway

Over the weekend of the 17th Edson and I went on a photo outing organized by a local group of photographers on Cagbalete Island, on the east side of Luzon, off the coast of Quezon province, about six hours from Manila.

There were twenty of us on the trip. Four models, a dozen photographers, wardrobe and make-up specialists, and others who just wanted to get away from it all.

I spent the entirety of the weekend shooting, of course.

Cagbalete Island doesn't have beaches as smooth as Boracay and only has electricity from late afternoon through early morning. We reached the island on a boat just big enough for our group. Its construction had our bench seat hanging over the sides of the boat with the water passing below us as we faced towards the boat, waves crashing against the outriggers, spraying us as we went.

I know, you're thinking: Ewww, wet!

As they say on the infomercials: But wait! There's more!

The boat stopped a good hundred yards offshore to let us off into the ocean. At that point the water was pretty shallow; somewhere between waist-deep and just below the shoulder blades depending on your height and how the tides were catching you. This was no place for the well-dressed in our group! We were among the prepared.

The following are a sampling of the snaps I got during the weekend adventure:

A treehouse accomodation.

"The facilities"

Breakfast view from our "room".

Edson works the water pump.

Edson and our friend Booboy in our accomodations.

We also found the island cemetery. I was thinking of putting these up in black & white to emphasize the spookiness of the place, but it doesn't really need it, does it? Being there and looking at these, you can almost hear Shaggy crying out: Scooby-Doo! Where are you?! I was expecting to get run down by them at any moment!


Oh, remember I said this was a trip about shooting models and all?

Yeah. Here they are.


Anyway, as luck would have it, on our way back, after wading another hundred yards out to the boat (this time in turbulent waters), upon our return to the mainland torrential rains hit...

...so here we are seeking shelter in a bus stop after running another hundred yards in the rains.

And for all of you wondering, the tour organizer was well prepared and had someplace ready for us to clean up and change into dry clothes. Another six-hour trip back to Manila soaked in salt water would NOT be a welcome sight...or smell...or sound to those living in "civilization".

In the end, I have over five hundred images to go through, a lot of lost sleep, a tan line despite the cloudy weather, and great memories.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Advertising Don't

What a great sign. (Click on the image to make it bigger.)

Aside from it being graphically uninspired, harking back to kitschy billboards dotting the American landscape of the 1970's, and containing way too much print, I love the content...especially that what really stands out is...

"Marry Now, Pay Later"

You can just imagine the gears turning in the heads of every stand-up comic as they read it, can't you?

Let's just say it's a good thing that, upon seeing this sign, I am a pedestrian. Even walking I had to stop and read it twice. C'mon, who thought "Marry Now, Pay Later" would be a good slogan???

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Rib Tickler

I heard something really funny the other day that I just must share with all you readers!

Are you ready?

There are traffic laws in the Philippines!

I don't know about you, but that was about the funniest thing I've heard in a LONG time!

Monday, 12 November 2007

Back in Time

OK, this blog entry is quite overdue. Then again, as what I'm going to write about is the All Saints Day observations I experienced, this is all about the past anyway.

Or is it?

The Filipino people observe All Saints Day as a national holiday and families all over visit the graves of their ancestors to gather, pray, and do a bit of cleaning. (Apparently the dead are no better at keeping their grave sites clean than I am at ironing.) Anyway, this results in cemeteries overflowing with the living. It is almost a carnival atmosphere outside the cemeteries as umpteen dozen vendors await the crowds, ready to sell the hungry visitors all varieties of food and beverage from their stands, carts, tricycles, and tents.

Here's some pictures from the day's events:

Before going to the cemetery we needed to eat. Edson's Tita Syl cooked up a feast for the whole clan.

His freshly-shaven elder brother Ed did a little cutting-up.

We don't know if was something he ate, the playing with knives, or his new look, but Ed ended up wearing a camera on his head after lunch.

You gotta admit, a camera hat's a unique look and not an easy one to pull off. But hey, no one said it was easy being eccentric.

After dessert we headed to the cemetery! (exclamation point?)

This is the scene that greeted us as we began the few blocks walk from the car:


Remember those provincial trannies (TVs) I mentioned a couple months ago? No? Well, I haven't figured out how to link blog entries, so go back to the beginning of September and read about it. It's somewhere in there.

Anyway, here's a couple at the gate to the cemetery.

Once inside, amidst the masses of living humanity, we could see what the real purpose was in being there.

The dead. The past.

Dates of birth. The past.

Dates of death. The past.

Respect for those who have come before. Learning both from their successes and failures. Celebrating the good of the past and working to avoid repeating its evils. This is the present and, most importantly, the future.

As I said, this blog entry is quite overdue.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Is It Just Me?

Short musing from yesterday...OK, more like a bitching than a musing, actually.

I arrived back at the condo in a torrential downpour. There is a very short flight of steps up to the building from the side I was entering.

Standing at the top of said flight of steps were a dozen people sheltering themselves from the rain, blocking the top of the stairs. There is plenty of space behind them closer to the building where easily another four dozen people could stand.

Do you think any of them moved aside for me to pass as they watched me approach from the street and then come up the stairs?

(That was a rhetorical question.)

Do you think they were upset as they got really wet from the rain running off my umbrella?

Yes they were. Upset with me for wanting to enter my own home without walking around the block to enter someplace more convenient for them.

Serves them right for being too stupid to move aside when they see a wet umbrella headed their way.

Just had to get that out of my system.

The rest of the day went really well, though!

In the morning, my friend Allan came by to practice new massage techniques he'd learned on me and we had his new business cards made that I designed. He got them back from the printers a few hours later and said the cards were "awesome".

The people at Pixel Point in Glorietta, where I do all my photo printing really appreciated that I am one of the few customers they have that labels folders according to what size print I want. Makes their job easier. Of course, after the bombing (which was not a bombing, according to the government, but everybody knows otherwise) their business, like all the other tenants, has dropped significantly. So, they might actually need something to complicate their lives just to make the day more interesting, don't you think? Maybe I should demand odd sizes next time I print....no, then I'd be too much like those people at the top of the stairs.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

BOO!


Happy birthday! Mwah! A year older, a year wiser and a whole lot sexier! ^_^ -Yucel

Happy birthday, J-dahl.
-Marje

Happy birthday dear. Hope I didn't embarrass you much. I meant well, really I did. Mwah! ^_^ -Noel

Happy birthday.
-Alan

Belated happy birthday my friend. I did not know until today that you are a scorpio.
-Rhon

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR JAY! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!
There, I'm sure that was a lot easier on the ears than having to hear me sing. Hope it's the beginning of a great year for you.
Love,
Mo

Happy Birthday Jay! I hope the Philippines are treating you well. Though, since I'm reading your blog, I should know.
-Brian

Apparently all these text messages and emails I received last week are from people assuming I've aged another year.

Take a moment, picture Jack Benny, and shout an exasperated Well!

Jack was born in 1894 and died in 1974 at the age of 39.

If he could do it, so can I!

People who do something called "math" tell me he could not have been 39.

Well, neither am I!

One of those above-quoted "friends" got the idea I was turning 45. I've put him on a list, but as I'm keeping this a PG-blog, I can't disclose the name of said list.

I've been asked what moisturizer I use.

Hmmmm.....

What to do with these people?

Waterboard them? It isn't like it's torture. Only problem is it looks like I'd have to get them to the U.S. first before I could do it! Too expensive. The only torture would be on my wallet!

Although maybe he had a point.

Perhaps I could be 45.

After all, right now I'm....

...let's see...

...according to my sister-in-law Kelly, I'm...uh...what was her "math"?

Twenty-nine minus....oh yeah!

I'm 16!

No, that's how old I looked when I graduated college....

When was I last 29?

I couldn't be 29 this year, Edson thought I was 29 last year!

I have something I call "Jay Math" that I think I'll use.

It's very scientific, and about the only thing I took from any mathematics class after fourth grade; and I'm going to share (That's right, no charge!) it with all you lucky readers around the world (provided you are there and I'm not just wasting my evening here)!


Here it is: x-10=Jay


No, I'm no Einstein, but it'll suffice.

Isn't the simplicity stunning?! (Of the formula, not my mind!)

If I have to spell it out for you, it means by using this formula you can insert the age the government, your doctor, parents, family, school, employer, and universally accepted calendars claim you to be in 'x'.

Whatever that number is, subtract 10.

This is your age.

Like nuclear warheads in the hands of madmen,


this is a very dangerous formula.

If you look anything like either of the guys above, do not use this formula!

If your face has more lines than Disneyland and your birth certificate says you were born after 1940, do not use this formula.

If your friends and co-workers scowl when it is time to celebrate your birthday each year, reminded how much better you look at your age than they did at that age, by all means begin using the formula immediately!

This is my little birthday present to all of you. Use it wisely. If you use it well, it saves the pitfall of lying about your age: not remembering how old you really are when someone demands that kind of information.

At any rate, my birthday week was a great one, despite being serenaded by the staff of Friday's (That's what Noel was trying to apologize for above). Edson gave me an external hard drive for my laptop. Kit's family treated me to a day up at the camp in Antipolo complete with massage from a professional masseuse and a chocolate creme filled chocolate cake with cocoa topping.

Decadent?

Yeeeeaaaah!