Sunday, December 25, 2011


Saute chopped onion and garlic in olive oil.

Stir in sliced pork tenderloin, chicken legs, and chorizos.

Add 3 cups of washed malagkit and stir until brown.

Pour in tomato puree, clam stock, and frozen peas.

Add prawns, quartered boiled crabs, and precooked clams.

Cook in medium fire and stir every 5 minutes until done.

Garnish with sliced boiled eggs.

Serve with chilled Metruz red wine.


But since I forgot to take a photo of my paella, here's a bowl of Laksa noodles from Malaysia for your eyes.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Oh yeah, I did have a pansit moment in Durban but the Chinese noodles topped with beef in oyster sauce I found at the NGO exhibit center is too heavy and stale I decided to stick to exploring South African cuisine like mala magodu (lamb tripes) with pap (ground maize porridge) which is so very pinapaitan, siopao-like buns dipped in oily skop (strips and lumps of meat from boiled cow's head) which so adobo, oxtail stew which is like kare-kare minus the vegetables and thick sauce, a foot-long portion of barbecued boerewors (beef sausage), the famous bunny chow (curry-in-a-bread), tons of lamb and beef curry (I wonder why those taste much better in Durban than in Hyderabad), Neville's daily breakfast fare of purine-heavy butter sauteed mushrooms, delicately baked potatoes, what I thought were hybrid pork-and-beans (sweet but minus the pork), sausages of the dark-hard and light-soft varieties, fresh sliced strange fruits bathing in yogurt, eggs over easy it's almost raw (I always had two), toast smothered with a butter and marmalade spread, pulpy orange juice, grilled ripe tomato, and that wonderful freshly brewed coffee...

And I had my church too courtesy of a hastily arranged and almost-a-goner last-minute city tour which first presented me with a glimpse of the gold-domed Juma Masjid Mosque (built in 1904 and the largest in the southern hemisphere) as we slow drove through the Dr. Yusuf Dadoo Street after a 45-minute shopping spree at the Victoria Market on our way to the Emmanuel Cathedral (also built in 1904 and one of South Africa's national monuments) to fulfill Attorney Carol's wish to pray on that feast day of the Immaculate Conception...

But still, the outcome of the Durban Indaba in terms of realizing an international treaty on climate change mitigation and adaptation is a big hole of a disappointment...

PHOTOS: My Chinese noodles with beef in oyster sauce (top), the Juma Masjid Mosque (middle), and the Emmanuel Cathedral (bottom).    

Friday, December 09, 2011


Protest had never been so close in the UNFCCC.

And I have been to 5 intersessionals and a Conference of Parties before Durban.

So the UN police was taken by surprise when mostly yellow badgers (i.e. NGO delegates) staged a walk out and blocked part of the Albert Luthuli International Convention Center to get their message across.

I did received an invitation to join from a coordinator which I have to politely decline because of the protocol that binds me as a pink badger (i.e. party delegate) of the Philippine delegation.

I told them I will support them in other ways.

They were able to hold for a couple of hours before voluntarily leaving the premises.

Except for 2 who have to be carried out by the UN police.

What happened next was probably the longest ever last day in the history of the UNFCCC COP that stretched into a marathon 48 hours of negotiation which resulted into a somewhat disappointing outcome...

Wednesday, December 07, 2011


PHOTOS EXPLAINED, top to bottom: (1) Pages from the infamous pass book and images from Durban's harsh labor control system not to long ago are illustrated on the walls of the Kwa Muhle Museum; (2) spices for sale at the Victoria Street Market that was established in 1870; (3) the skyline of Durban's inner city and (4) makeshift shanties in a township in the suburbs offer contrasting images of South Africa; (5) the Durban Botanic Gardens that was established in 1849 and Africa's oldest; (6) the Moses Mabhida Stadium, and (7) the starting point of the the Golden Mile which refers to a popular beachfront stretch.

Monday, December 05, 2011


Commissioner Yeb Sano was quite occupied.

I was in the Climate Vulnerable Forum in Bangladesh.

So off to the DARA side event for the Philippine delegation.

I went because it is out of the Albert Luthuli International Convention Center which is becoming to be uncomfortably familiar.

The transport marshal put me in the wrong bus but the driver was kind enough to bring me to the Moses Mabhida Stadium bus stop.

I have to walk alone across a park but it was broad daylight and a police patrol is nearby.

I got lost in the maze of doors and corridors but a kind staff helped me find my way.

The side event was a bore but lunch was good and the stadium an interesting photography subject.

Moses was a former leader of the South African Communist Party and the stadium was named in his honor.

It was a host stadium to a commercial (and therefore capitalistic) project  called the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Saturday, December 03, 2011


I have been scared before. And it's not a good feeling.

Fear paralyzes the mind as a dark forlorn dungeon would to a person. Fear makes one scared of doing things.

In Durban, I have reached that point where every person on the street or the taxi driver on the corner is a potential criminal. That is not good at all, and it is not fair.

I am on my second week in Durban. And I thought its time to regain my freedom from fear.

Suddenly, the world is a much easier place to live. And flowers bloomed from the withered vines.

My first Durban foray was at the Ushaka Marine World. I took precautions but allowed my feet to take me where it wanted to go.

To the beach and its 2-pieced denizens, to the village walk its quite expensive shops, and a late lunch of Bunny Chow and milk shake.

South Africa is a beautiful country, Durban is fun, and the people are just great.

PHOTO EXPLAINED: The Bunny Chow is a classic South African dish which originated from the Indian community of  Durban. It is half of a whole loaf of bread with the inside scooped out and filled with curry. Mine at the Ushaka Marine World was lamb curry with a glass of milk shake that helped temper the heat.  

Thursday, December 01, 2011


South Africa's crime rate is the 5th highest in the world with 77 of every 1,000 of its citizens having been victimized by some sort of crime.

The security protocols reflect this situation with its advisories on not walking out alone, not taking a taxi from the street, not showing belongings, etcetera.

I was wary. Then scared. And finally frightened.

It got to me so much that I won't even smoke outside the grounds of our hotel and have to go home in the Oxfam bus at 8 pm every night. Those early morning walks and photography are definitely out. 

Then one day, all my contacts, folders and inbox vanished after sending an email to the UNFCCC secretariat .

And who is supposed to be me sent messages through my email account that I was in Madrid (which I wish I am), that I have been robbed (which I pray won't happen), and that I need money.

I was hacked, which may perhaps make me officially a number in the South Africa crime statistics.

Monday, November 28, 2011


I was expecting something more of a Benin: chaotic airport, dirt roads, dilapidated buildings, gnawing poverty.

I got a modern and swanky King Shaka International Airport, freeways, high rises, and neat bungalows on a hillside.

I told the white folks who fetched me from the airport that things look more like European than African.

And quaint Chelsea Guesthouse Villa in an upper middle class white neighborhood along Brand Road is indeed Europe with a splash of Australia.

Then the security protocol came and I realized I am not in Europe after all.

I am in fact in South Africa…

FOOTNOTE: Photo shows Pres. Jacob Zuma of South African formally welcoming delegates to the UNFCCC’s 17th Conference of Parties in Durban. The second photo shows the iconic city hall of Durban, South Africa’s 3rd largest city and home to Africa’s busiest seaport. It was also in Durban where Mahatma Gandhi first used the method of non-violent protest against the compulsory registration of Indians, where Nelson Mandela cast his vote for the first time in 1994, and where the 2010 FIFA World Cup was held. 

Friday, November 18, 2011


Wala pong mosque o simbahan.

Kaya pansit na lang muna ang maihahain ko para sa inyo...

Thursday, November 17, 2011


What I like best in our recent trip to Bangladesh is the VIP treatment.

We were ushered in the VIP Lounge at Dhaka's Hazrat Shajalal International Airport after disembarking and have someone clear immigration and retrieve our luggage for us.

We have our own limo too and were billeted at the 5-star Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel. 

I got to attend my second formal state dinner (the first one was in Benin; those in the UNFCCC were receptions and not included).

And I shoot a lot of VIPs.

Dhaka is known as the City of Mosques. The downside is I did not get the chance to shoot any of them. 

PHOTOS (from top to bottom): Among the VIPs I shot were: (1) Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, (2) former president  Jose Maria Figueres Olsen of Costa Rica, and (3)  Commissioner Yeb Sano of the Philippine Climate Change Commission.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Left Manila at 10 pm and arrived in Dhaka the next morning at 2 am.

Attended the welcome reception and state dinner until 11 pm.

Went out for a dinner with the Ambassador and his staff the next night until 10 pm.

Left Dhaka at 1:30 the next morning.

That's all I have to tell about my Bangla Nights.

PHOTOS EXPLAINED (from top to bottom): (1) My seat at the state dinner, (2) a frame of the cultural show during the state dinner, and (3) our dinner with Ambassador Bahnarim A. Guinomla and his staff.

Sunday, November 06, 2011


PHOTOS, from top to bottom: [1] Honored Lady and Sir Knight at the conclusion of the constitution,organization, and installation ceremonies of the Order of the Amaranth's Model Court No. 55. [2] The newly installed Marshall in the West of Model Court No. 55. [3] The Marshall in the West leading the guest of honor, Police Gen. Tomas Rentoy III, to the stage.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


It was the week of Camiguin's annual Lanzones Festival.

And there were no lanzones in sight.

Except giant lanzones crafts festooned on lamp posts.

Not much seafood either (where have all the fish gone too!).

But we have our cameras, and there was the Gui-ob church ruins in Catarman.

The pastels were sweet but nothing beats early morning photography.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Ang naaalala ko kay Mama ay ang mga uwi niyang buto ng hamon tuwing magbabakasyon siya sa Maynila.

'Tsaka 'yung kinilaw niyang talaba na nagbunsod ng karera sa amin nina Amor at Kata kung sino ang unang makakarating sa napakalaking banyo ng Joenga. Every 2 minutes.

'Tsaka 'yung maliit niyang kabinet na madalas naming hiraman ng t-shirt kahit di kami nagpapaalam sa kanya.

'Tsaka 'yung pag-coach niya kay Dada kung ano ang dapat gawin sa mga date nila ni Gaspar.

'Tsaka 'yung abutan namin siya ni Willy na maglilinis sa napakalawak na sibuyasan with all the colorful kurkurantings.

'Tsaka 'nung isinama niya kami nina Utol at Blance sa Pansol para maligo sa hot spring at kumain ng sinigang na kanduli.

'Tsaka 'yung konsepto niya ng ideal man na bangulbangolan at naglalangis katulad ni Al Carasco.

Madami pang ibang ala-ala. Nakakatuwa. Nakaka-miss.

Pero para sa madami sa amin, siya ang ina ng laging saklolo na takbuhan sa oras ng krisis. 

Katulad ng biglang pagsulpot ng magaling na kapatid kong kolehiyala para humingi ng allowance na magpapatsuktsak din pala kaya hindi na nakatapos. 

Ayaw niya ng mga malulungkot na eksena kaya n'ung farewell party niya bago mag-migrate sa US ay bigla na lang siyang naglaho.

Amerikano na siya nang muli naming makita at ipagluto kami ng mechado. 

At pinadalhan pa kami pagkatapos ng isang napakalaking package na pamasko kasama ang mga ni-request na x-rated video. 

Nagkita ulit kami sa LA after 5 years at d'un ko natuklasan na Butchoy pala ang nickname niya (pinanggalingan ng Butch?) at puede na niyang labanan sa karera si Schumacher (ni ayaw niyang umangkas so motorsiklo noon!) at isa na siyang accomplished nurse (di ba takot siya sa karayom dati?).

Walang nagbago. Siya pa din ang aming Mama Burch na Ina ng Laging Saklolo...

MGA LARAWAN: [1] Si Ruel ang unang photographer na nanggaling sa Nueva Ecija Branch at kuha niya ang unang larawan sa itaas halos 2 dekada na ang nakakaraan, na na-download ko sa Facebook account ni Tatang. [2] Ang pangalawang larawan naman ay mga kuha ko kay Mama Butch habang ipinapasyal niya ako sa LA area. [3] Ang pangatlong larawan ay kuha sa museum ng Mission San Buenaventura. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Once upon a time, old man Pepito wrote the president of the United States. I never knew what was in that letter but it got a package from President Jimmy Carter himself which included a letter signed by him and a coffee table book about them in the White House.

I would later read from the Bulletin that President Carter lost his reelection bid to a man called Ronald Reagan (handsome and dashing in the news photo). The last image we saw of him is a man in overcoat(?) waving to his supporters as the Iran hostages were being brought back to the United States.

I did not care much about President Ronald Reagan at that time. It would only be later from documentaries in the Discovery Channel (or was it National Geographic) that I would realize how he came to be known as the Great Communicator. I particularly like that speech in Germany ("Mr. Gorbachev brought this wall down!") and a presidential candidates' debate ("I promised not to make age an issue and so I will never question the relative inexperience of my young opponent!" or something like that).

So when Mama Butch asked me to choose between the J. Paul Getty Museum (where I can shoot the Cathedral of Angels along the way as suggested by climate change talks colleague Albert Magalang) and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, I went for the latter because I thought he was more of a real person to me.

The library at the scenic Simi Valley was recently refurbished and Mama Butch became an instant member. It was a surreal moment for me as the story of the man I read in the Bulletin who beat Jimmy Carter unfolded in video footages, blown up photos, and relics of his presidency while I munch on complimentary jelly beans.

It was a fitting finale to my 4-day sojourn in Los Angeles, so here's one for The Gipper.

PHOTOS EXPLAINED (from top to bottom):
The last 3 photos above shows [1] the statues of the late president and former First Lady Nancy Reagan at the entrance to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library; [2] the Boeing 707 Air Force One that was in service from 1973 until 2001 and spanned the presidencies of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George Bush the Elder, Bill Clinton, and George Bush the Younger; and [3] former president Ronald Reagan's tomb.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011



Yesterday, Mama Butch took me to Hollywood where I shoot some stars.

I've have that day lots of pavement stars, 3 Marilyn Monroes, and a Jamie Foxx at the Walk of Fame; and one who is said to be a rapper at the Universal Studios' CityWalk.

There's also a reluctant frame of me (Mama Butch insisted) at the Kodak Theater's Grand Staircase, Michael Jackson dancing for tips across Capitan Theater, and Frank Sinatra's prints at Grauman's Chinese Theater.

I though my best was a frame of the star of "Sa Bawat Gubat" with the (in)famous Hollywood sign in the background. Mama Butch did a good job on that one. 

FOOTNOTE 1: The famous Hollywood sign originally read "HOLLYWOODLAND" and was erected in 1923 to advertise a housing project in the booming Hollywood movie district which has become the locus of the American film industry. "LAND" was dropped from the sign during repair works in 1949. It was refurbished in 1978 through the efforts of rock star Alice Cooper and again in 2005. Five years later, the Trust for Public Land with the help of a $1 million contribution from Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner bought the area where the sign stands for $12.5 million dollars and annexed the property to Griffith Park.


FOOTNOTE 2: The first star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame was laid down in 1960. Since then, more than 2,000 stars have been added. That of The Beatles is located near the Silver Four Ladies of Hollywood gazebo along La Brea Avenue, where the Walk of Fame begins and ends, besides that of Elvis Presley.

FOOTNOTE 3: Grauman's Chinese Theater opened in 1927 and became famous for the nearly 200 autographed foot and hand prints of stars preserved in the concrete pavement of its forecourt. It also served as the venue of the Oscars from 1944 until 1946. Nearby across Hollywood Boulevard is El Capitan Theater that opened a year earlier in 1926. Both theaters were projects of Sid Grauman and are still first-run or premiere theaters. Both were declared as historic and cultural landmarks.

FOOTNOTE 4: The Kodak Theater was built in 2001 on the site of the famous Hollywood Hotel (circa 1902) and has been the venue of the Academy Awards. Since then, stars and celebrities walked through its famous Grand Staircase for the Oscar Awards.

FOOTNOTE 5: The Universal Studios in Hollywood was established in 1912 by Carl Laemmle and today is one of the oldest American movie studios and one of the 6 major outfits.

Sunday, October 09, 2011


Last year I was stripteased into the California Mission Trail.

Never knew it existed.

Until Oyet P and Jack walked me to the Mission San Francisco de Asis (yes, in San Francisco) that was the 6th Spanish mission to be established in California in 1776. Kuya Rudy Palomo also drove me later to the 2nd in 1770 which is the Mission San Carlos Barromeo de Carmelo in Carmel, and to the 15th in 1797 which is the Mission San Juan Bautista (yes, in San Juan Bautista). In a fitting finale, eman59 of Oakland presented me with a book about the mission churches.

I have a mission church in mind as I left Panama City for a brief sojourn in Los Angeles. I was so enamored with it that I refused a $300+hotel accommodation bribe to get bumped off that morning's flight. It kept me in high spirits when I missed the connecting flight to Houston. It consoled me when I found that 2 of my fried bawang jars did not survive Houston-Los Angeles.

The next day, Mama Butch --- he who would not even ride a motorcycle during his PRRM days --- drove me to a pilgrimage in 3 mission churches.

PHOTOS EXPLAINED (top to bottom):

[1] MISSION SAN FERNANDO REY DE ESPANA (Los Angeles, California): The 17th of the 21 California Mission Churches was established in 1797 by Fr. Fermin Lasuen. It was restored in the 1940s through a grant from the Hearst Foundation but was again extensively damaged by an earthquake in 1971. The mission was completely rebuilt in 1974. Comedian Bob Hope and his wife is buried in the mission's cemetery which has been renamed as the Bob Hope Memorial Garden. 

[2] MISSION SAN BUENAVENTURA (Ventura, California): The mission was the 9th to be established and the last by the legendary missionary Fr. Junipero Serra in 1782. It has the unique claim to having the only known wooden bells in all the mission churches. The mission underwent extensive renovation work in 1957. 

[3] MISSION STA. INES (Solvang, Californa): Fr. Estevan Tapis established Mission Sta. Ines in 1804 as the 19th Spanish mission in California. It has survived numerous earthquakes and remained mostly as it was built).