Sunday, 28 December 2008

Tsuper Launch...(Delayed)

What's a Tsuper, you ask?

It's a magazine, recently launched. No, the magazine launch wasn't delayed, as the title seems to imply, but that this post know, much like my others. I'm not so much like other bloggers who can't go to bed without having posted something that day.

Anyway, Edson's colleague at Cadiz, Jimmy Caumeron, is the guy behind a new magazine in the Philippines called Tsuper. It's pronounced much like super, but with your tongue closer to your front teeth, so that a faint t sound is heard ushering in the s.

Got it?


In the Philippines, tsuper means driver, and the magazine is something of a travel magazine as it takes the reader to different places and experiences.

Edson was tapped to write an article for the premiere issue. So, because of that and the fact that he worked in the same office with the executive editor, we were invited to the launch party held at Top Shelf in Fully Booked bookstore, Bonifacio High Street, which we attended before Edson's office Christmas party.

Hopia hors d'ouevres.
Fried shrimps done in common street food fashion.
Sago and gulaman drink. Sweet and delicious.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

At First...

"At first I was afraid
I was pesticide..."

OK, we knew right there that it wasn't Gloria Gaynor singing I Will Survive.

Instead, it was the at times phonetically or lyrically challenged singer of a self-described "expensive" band at our friend Jen's wedding.

I'll pause here while you dear readers try to come to terms with the concept of singing a classic disco song of break-up and empowerment at a wedding reception. I always thought this is the song that should be played at divorce receptions, except that I don't see too many of those. Maybe we should encourage them. With the economy in tatters, this would be a good way to jump start it; especially in California, where the passage of Prop 8 has meant a huge loss of business for the wedding industry. Since half of all marriages end in divorce, this would be a real boon. Just an idea...

Anyway, Edson and I were at the wedding, remember?We were at our table with Val and Marje to our right:And PJ and Rhandy to our left:
And after we all heard the singer mangle the first lines of the song we couldn't listen to it anymore to hear what else she'd mess up in the process. She did emphasize that this was the song of the evening; the one we'd all been waiting for at that.

Oh my.

Just previous she had tried in vain to get a poor friend of the groom from the Netherlands or Germany to sing part of a Carpenters medley, not counting on him having absolutely no clue as to what the lyrics of Sing were. I guess the Carpenters didn't enjoy the same popularity in Europe as in the U.S., Japan and the Philippines. Just about every CD shop in Japan and the Philippines still has an extensive and ever-growing collection of Carpenters titles, and I think she believed that to be the case worldwide. Of course, since he was white, he's automatically assumed to be American here. The singer wasn't paying much attention to begin with. She couldn't remember the names of the bride and groom when she wished them well, and the groom's surname of Müller apparently wasn't much of a tip off for her either.

Anyway, she had an OK voice, so she doesn't need to have a clue. Though she did look a bit like a black-haired version of Ursula in Disney's the Little Mermaid:We were all convinced that no gay people had a hand in planning and producing this wedding. It's a well-known and time-proven fact that heterosexuals aren't good at these things, and it was proven all the more that evening when the hostess made people get up and play a game.

Yes, a game.

At a wedding reception.

And it involved the participants removing their shoes, holding each others shoes over their heads in response to inane questions posed by the control-freak hostess. In her past, somebody really should have given her some hyperactive children on a sugar high to inflict this torture upon so we wouldn't have had to go through it that evening. The game was so complicated that I believe you could explain the intricacies of baseball in less time than she went over the rules of this game. It felt like you could have played a few innings in less time as well.

Anyway, I should have figured I was going to get something blog-worthy from the day when on our way there we passed by a school building that had a sign painted across it which read: This is a Child-Friendly School.

Um, I hate to break it to them, but shouldn't that be a given?? What do they do in other schools? Do they put the doorknobs up at the top of the door? Locate urinals halfway up the wall? Place kiddie chairs in front of adult-height tables?

If I went to a school like that, I know what I'd be:


Monday, 15 December 2008

Boom Boom Boom

...And a lot of bass bass bass.

That's what awoke us at six o'clock in the morning the other day.

Music made for a dance club, and played at club volume was being blasted at our condo six in the morning! I got up from the bed, pulled the curtains aside and saw ten big speaker sets in the park across the street from us. A stage was also being set up.

OK, something is going to be happening later in the day, but must they test the speakers at six?

And at full volume?

And now that the music has been going on for a few minutes, isn't that enough proof it is working?

Not EVERYONE gets up at six! (Especially Edson and I.)

Three dance tracks of booming bass notes later and the music was shut off. A full fifteen minutes of BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM. BOOM BOOM BOOM. BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM....

I noticed some police who had previously been gathered around the fire department had now gathered around the park area. Perhaps they had finally decided to do something other than just stand around doing nothing and had the music shut off.

Either way it was quite some time before I got back to sleep.

But even that was short-lived. I then awoke to a medley of Kenny G and what sounded like Gregorian chant Christmas holiday music. This was coming from within the Columns!

This was being piped in through the speakers in the halls.

After two tracks the music volume was brought down to a more "elevator music" level.

Kenny G as elevator music I can understand; that's what it is. The Gregorian chants suddenly made the Columns into a thirty-storey monastery! I later discovered those were not Gregorian chants but Josh Groban!


Let's just say his album is a little on the sedate side. Yeah, as in sedative.

Early that evening I had returned home and was busy editing photos and waiting for Edson to return from work when the event in the park finally began. It was to officially light the park for the holiday season. I heard endless speeches by one person after another (all hosted/emceed poorly) and then...BOOM!Yes, you may have noticed those are fireworks going off just outside our window...just sixty or seventy feet away and at eye-level!

I wasn't expecting that.

Anyway, after catching that I decided to at least get a shot of the park all lit up.
Funny thing is the park wasn't lit at all after they finished the ceremonious lighting event.

They turned all the lights off!

And they weren't on the following day either.

They finally turned them on again two days later.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Education in the News

This is the front page of today's Philippine Daily Inquirer:On the bottom of the page, eighty-five guys are pictured together with this caption:

PUSH ON UP They would have been a hundred (read: University of the Philippines turned 100) but only 85 showed up for this morning shoot on Saturday wearing their birthday suits, or so it seems. Actually, the all-male alumni, staffers and students from different UP campuses are suited in specially designed trunks with fig leaves. At the UP amphitheater, they pose like the Oblation, the university's signature statue.

Our friend Wally is at the far right of the photo, and he let me in on a secret: he wasn't wearing the specially designed trunks, just the fig leaf. Apparently he's a stickler for authenticity.

Thought you needed to know.

The original statue wore less, but a moral-minded president of the university had the fig leaf added to cover the genitals.

This isn't the only time of year students do something like this at UP. Each year there is the Oblation Run, where many male students wearing nothing but masks run about the university campus, usually to protest something.

I'm guessing it must work (protesting sans clothing, that is), because Filipinos do it elsewhere. Like here:These guys are protesting about education in the Philippines. Just think how good schools could be if people everywhere cared enough about them to march or run around naked to help make them better!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Last Day in Hong Kong

The story of our third (and final) day in Hong Kong begins here, at the House of Jasmine.Time for our last dim sum before heading home! As you can see, they're preparing for another wedding at this restaurant as well! I look at these pictures and realize someday someone's going to think I went to Hong Kong and did nothing but go to weddings!

Anyway, it is a good thing I had lunch before this blog entry, because even though I'm rather full, this is making me hungry all over again!Barbecued pork puff pastries, steamed sticky rice in lotus leaves, steamed barbecue pork buns......minced pork and vegetable dumpling in clear soup, steamed flour roll with shrimp and egg......steamed flour roll with minced beef and pickled vegetables, abalone on steamed shrimp and pork dumplings......steamed shrimp dumplings...and to end it all......steamed egg yolk custard buns!

This was the BEST dim sum experience I have ever had. We owe it all to Simon's wife Amy, who suggested he take us to the House of Jasmine. None of the three of us had ever been there, but as Simon's wife is a make-up artist, and does make-up for weddings each weekend, she has been there before as part of her work.

Thanks, Amy! I can still taste it now just from looking at the pictures!

After that much food we all needed a good constitutional, as the British would say. That's "walk" in the U.S. So walk we did, just outside where all the ferry boats and cruise ships come in.
One of the famous Star Ferries in Victoria Harbour.
Edson catches me about to get another shot of the Star Ferry:

Back inside it was time for a bit of shopping. Edson needed to check out the selection of books on architecture and pick up some good teas. After a while we decided to stop for a rest. We stopped here.I include this picture because I found it interesting. As you can see on the window, it clearly states there is to be no eating or drinking. The interesting part is this is the window of a restaurant.

Then what do they serve??

Well, as it turns out, delicious, freshly-made noodles!And delicious, fresh-made buns filled with sweet bean paste!So here we are, the look of well-fed people after consuming some of the best food we've had in a long, looonnnng time!

Sadly, we were running out of time, so it was off to the airportand a farewell to Simon.
We arrived back in Manila that night right on time. It was Sunday, and by the time we made it home virtually all restaurants had closed. (One of the disadvantages of living in the CBD.) We had our choice of Yellow Cab Pizza (too heavy, we thought), KFC, McDonald's, Jolliebee, or Tropical Hut (fast food, fast food, fast food, fast food).

After all the good food we'd had in Hong Kong, it seemed nothing could compete (and it couldn't). So we went where we knew we'd at least get good service - McDonald's. We tried not to pay any attention to what we were eating; just so we had enough in our stomachs that night while we slept...and slept...and slept.

Musings About Macau Pt 2

My apologies for the delay in getting this out. I've been working on a lot of editing of several recent photo shoots and had another **ahem** wonderful trip to Immigration. The trip this time was nothing like before. Quite boring. No story to tell, other than on my way home a kid of about seven or eight years old walked beside the taxi I was riding in, stood on the curb, pulled his pants down, crouched, and proceeded to take a sh@t right there on the sidewalk beside me!


If that weren't bad enough, as I was almost home, the taxi crossed some railroad tracks near the train platform where I witnessed yet another kid doing the same thing on the tracks!!

What was it that day that everybody decides to do their number twos in public while in my range of sight?!


Anyway, back to Macau...where I didn't see anything like that!

The hill climb up to St. Paul's was just the halfway point. We still had the rest of the hill to climb.

Oh joy.

What's up top?

The Mount Fortress. The Portuguese built it in the 17th century and it is now a museum.From it we could look down upon the ruins of St. Paul's.And we had great views that enabled us to see clear to China! That sounds impressive (doesn't it?) until you realize Macau doesn't sit all that far off the coast of mainland China. It isn't really off the coast at all; just kind of across the river...whatever!
Remember the story of The Little Engine That Could?Like the Little Engine That Could, I think this canon (or whoever aimed it) has the right idea!Now if only it could strike far enough! (I think I can-I think I can...) Gosh, that's an ugly building!

Anyway, then we made it down, down, down a very narrow street on this steep hill (one-way traffic only - down!), into a taxi, and off to another side of Macau to see more wonderful historic structures, but a bit less touristy.

And we just kept on going until sundown.

We made it to A-Ma Temple just after it closed, which was OK, because even from outside I could see the wonderful incense burning.

A-Ma Temple has an interesting history, and it shows how the European colonial mindset worked. When the Portuguese settlers arrived in the sixteenth century and asked the name of the place, they were at the temple area and were told "A-Ma Gau", the name of the temple. This was then transcribed by the settlers as "Macau", and they've been calling the territory by the name of the temple ever since! Just like Christopher Columbus didn't set out to find a "New World". He was looking for India. He was just lost; which is why we call native Americans "Indians".

Next was a nice Portuguese dinner at a popular nearby restaurant, complete with Filipino staff who let Edson in on why our reservations had been lost (manager doesn't write them down); speaking in Tagalog so the boss wouldn't know what they were saying!After dinner it was a quick ride back to the port so we could get back to Hong Kong (Remember Hong Kong? This is -supposedly- our trip to Hong Kong.)

This is what you see at the port at night.I know astronauts can see the Great Wall of China from space. They might have to squint a little to make out the lettering on the Sands Casino.

Our last day in Hong Kong is coming up.