Thursday, December 20, 2012



JACK: "We certainly have luck rubbed into us. Remember that procession in Mission Street and the inauguration ritual in Chinatown?

OYET: "Ang cute ng mga flower girl!"

ABET: "Pityuran ko kayo mamaya para may souvenir."

[Oyet disappears, Jack admires the colors of the wedding retinue, Abet look around for the best view].

OYET: (Rushing and extremely excited) "Halikayo! Dali!"

[Jack and Abet followed up the choir loft through the unlocked barricade of the bell tower to the claustrophobic winding stone stairs].

OYET: (Squeezing on a tower hole after reaching a dead end) "Kuhanan mo ako ng pityur!"

ABET: "Okey pero silhouette ka lang dahil wala akong flash at against-the-light."

[Jack disappears].

[All three in the churchyard now and puffing on charcoal-filtered Mild Sevens].

OYET: "There's an African Christ, an Indian Christ, etcetera, but I have yet to see a Filipino Christ."

JACK: "Is that the Virgin Mary?"

ABET: "The legislation of the RH bill is a watershed."

[Another round of Mild Sevens is lighted].

JACK: "Why is she surrounded by these vagina representations?"

[Abet and Oyet looks at the seashells, agrees, and wonders why too].


In a place called Old 37 along Bonifacio Street...

...over beer, crispy kare-kare, kinilaw, pansit, sisig, patatim, adobong kambing, and butter-fried chicken...

...the faithful gathered and paid their respects. 

[They were 4 pairs {Oyet-Jack, Tolits-Tita, Odang-Temyong, Abet-Nene} one loner {Jun}].

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Doha made me skip Balong's first communion.

Just what did he told the priest during his first confession?

He has not missed a midnight mass so far...

I made it to our second college reunion.

I have grown smaller, they bigger.

We compared notes on cholesterol, uric acid, and blood sugar levels...

PHOTO CREDITS: Juan Gabriel Ciencia for the top photo and Rhodora Inocencio-Dela Rosa for the bottom photo.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

THE LONGEST LAST NIGHT (or an autopsy of a dead toe nail, blistered feet, and busted shoe)

It's almost a kilometer from the shuttle drop-off to the security clearing area to G77/China's Plenary Room 7.1 and we have to walk the whole stretch at least twice a day plus the daily shuffles from one numbered room to another and to the East or West restaurants for survival nourishment.

By the third day, the numbing pain crept from the ankles to the humerus.

By the fourth day, the side seams of my under-a-year-old right shoe split.

I changed to sneakers as the informal negotiations became frequent and drawn-out with that on the work program on agriculture ending in a stalemate after at least 24 hours of talks and that on adaptation in a disappointing outcome after logging at least 16 hours.

We however won big in the battle for addressing loss and damage after several lengthy discussions with one lasting 16 straight hours and the outcome decided in a late night ministerial-level consultation.

We won a little on the national adaptation plans which also logged an estimated 24 hours, and lesser on the adaptation committee report which compiled the least time with 6 hours at the most.

In between were coordination meetings, the late lunches and dinners, the snatches of cat naps, the 45-minute shuttle bus rides, and the reports written and submitted.

Then an unexpected lull.

Before the anticipated drama of a closing plenary that unfolded into 48 hours of informal ministerial stock takings, suspension of sessions, cancellation of schedules, and last-minute wrangling by ministers and negotiatiors in some secret rooms.

It was one of my longest last nights ever.

And I again failed on my promise to finish a COP in my lifetime (after having to leave Cancun in 2010 in the middle of the plenary, and Durban in 2011 while the infamous Indaba is still on the second of its 3-day marathon).

The black-as-death nail on my little toe and the punctured blister on the other little toe were only noticed while dressing for my flight out.

It was death and injury by walking where, as expected, the rich countries, the rich-countries-disguised-as-poor, the almost-rich-countries, the something-in-between, the truly-poor-countries, and the dirt-poor-countries pummeled each other on every word, punctuation, and brackets.

We might have won just 55% of what we want but we were the stars of Doha...  

PHOTOS EXPLAINED (top to bottom): [1] one of the huddles of a fractious G77/China during the negotiations for agriculture; [2] the last stab for a compromise language for adaptation; [3] the headline grabbing Yeb Sano meeting the press; and [4] an early morning pose from the Philippine negotiators on the Kyoto Protocol, shared vision and legal form, adaptation and agriculture, and technology transfer. 

Thursday, December 06, 2012

of [brackets] & {options}: AN ODE TO SUOQ WAQIF


I say we bracket the options
and red line all contentions


Wrap ourselves in gutra
or sniff a bowl of zaatar


Why not a lunch of tangine
drenched in cups of karak tea


Perhaps then we can deal 
stamp our badges with a seal


Or we can go home frazzled
options and brackets frozen

Saturday, December 01, 2012


Nights in the UN climate change negotiations can be long and grueling.

With varying degrees, depending on the place.

Like warm in Cancun (COP 16), almost humid in Durban (COP 17), cold and windy in Doha (COP 18).

Except for the tense taxi rides in Durban, the long late bus rides in Cancun is almost a deja vu in Doha.

Doha's buses are just smaller, and the police unarmed compared to Cancun's marines and snipers in full battle gear.

The exception of course is the lingering sensation of the yogurt from breakfast, the hummus and lentils from lunch, and the chicken biryani from dinner. 

Then there's the usual negotiators with their lap tops and tablets.

The usual advocacies that became muted and subdued.

The usual side events.

The usual reception ceremony. 

And the usual late lunch and dinners.

In the cold Arabian nights, I search for the genie in the lamp who alone can unlock the Doha expectations. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


That is in terms of pansit served.

That of Doha's Sheraton is bland with an eerie sweet aftertaste, it's only saving grace is being served in the buffet table of a 5-star hotel.

Shiela's Hil-Ton (read: hila kariton) in Cabanatuan has more character and gastronomic punch.

Sheraton's must be chef-prepared with the fancy title of a vegetable noodle while Hil-Ton's is cooked by the-man-in-the-street and goes by local names (read; canton, bihon, mami).

But both pales to the bowl of hot lomi teased with a squeeze of calamansi and served with a piece of warm pandesal from the kitchen of PRRM's penthouse in Quezon City. 

Then there was Manor Horizon Hotel's surprising breakfast offering of vegetable noodles too and before that a redeeming spaghetti with Bolognese sauce for lunch at Sheraton. 

For those but with the emphatic exception of Sheraton's vegetable noodles, I say kaman wahed

Saturday, November 24, 2012


I came a day too early, sleepless and 5 hours behind Manila time.

I checked in, got introduced to my cavernous room, sorted my luggage, locked the safe, and went walking in the same clothes I flew in to where my feet would take me.

I stayed with a group of Filipinos fishing at the waterfront of the Al-Corniche until they finally caught a small silvery fish with a swordfish snout.

I saw a swarm of pigeons and decided they would make a nice photo shoot.

I went inside an entrance and got introduced to Souq Waqif by a symphony of spices wafting from displayed sacks and boxes.

I walked on, clicked some more, crossed the street, and came across 2 Filipino stores crewed by South Asians.

I went back to refresh in my hotel then killed the afternoon feeling the shuttle service to the Qatar National Convention Center, registered and got my pink badge, late lunched on a cold tuna sandwich and a bottle of fruit juice blend, went back to the hotel and started working on my annual work plan for the office, then dined on grilled chicken with fries and Indian bread.

I slept early and well but woke up at 1 am.

Today starts the prologue to the big event.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


After the churches
     came the noodles,

and nothing more Cebuano

     than their holy bam-i guisado,

sotanghon and canton

     in sanctimonious union,

which by CnT's version

     is sinful pork communion,

never mind the salty lechon

     give me bam-i or renunciation!

Friday, November 09, 2012


To the uncircumcised in Cebuano cuisine:

     SU = sugba or grilled,

     TO = tola/tinola or stewed,

     KIL = kilaw or fresh,

and refers to the 3-way culinary preparation of a fish.

"Subukan naman natin 'yung shuttokil (read: sutokil)," said Ka Maning.

"Sa pertreyd (read: Pier Tres) na tayo sumakay ng ferry para makatipid sa pamasahe," he added. 

"Uray met agtudtudo (read: even if it's raining)," he quipped as I tried shooting Lapu-Lapu City's Shrine of the Virgen de la Regla amid a patient drizzle and dark-as-Lord Voldemort sky.  

"May masasakyan kaya tayong taxi pabalik?" he asked as we reached Pajac only to find the Alegre Guitars too expensive and perhaps overrated.

"Mukhang mahal dito," he observed as the taxi pulled into a place called Rose & Wills BBQ House where we ordered a kilo of tanigue for the sutokil and half of a seashell side dish.

"Holdap!" he explained when he saw the bill which included unannounced cooking and service fees that doubled what I thought we should justly pay.

But the hints of ginger and tanglad in the tola was refreshing, the lingering aftertaste of sliced red bell pepper desirable in the kilaw, and the sugba grilled to an excellent juiciness (although the feeling of having been conned somewhat took something out of that).  

"Pityuran mo naman kami," Ka Maning asked as we killed time ogling the great Lapu-Lapu's monument and contemplating the fallen Magellan's phallic symbol.

"Yosi muna tayo," he enjoined Ka Tolits as I made the best of a misunderstood direction to the taxi driver by asking for Mandaue City's Shrine of St. Joseph the Worker.

Ka Maning's overall rating on our 4th day in Cebu City so far: "Ganito sana palagi!".

Thursday, November 08, 2012

BOLJOON (bol-ho-on)

Ang pasya ko sa bandang huli ay sumakay na lamang ng bus sa South Terminal kaysa mag-arkila ng sasakyan

Kaya't tanging nagawa ko ay magsisi at tumitig ng malagkit sa mga astig na simbahan ng Talisay, Minglanilla, Naga, at San Fernando na mabilisang tinutuhog ng Ceres Bus habang nakikipag-away sina Vic Sotto at Daiana Menezes sa mga magagandang aswang.

Kagyat ang naging desisyon na dadaanan namin pag-uwi ang simbahan ni Santa Catalina de Alejandria sa Carcar at ni San Miguel Arkanghel sa Argao.

Makalipas ang halos 3 oras ay bahagyang bumagal ang bus.

Papaakyat ito sa pakiwalkiwal na kalsadang idinikit sa isang matarik na gulod na kinakamot ng maaamong alon ng Lagusan ng Bohol.

Isang huling liko pa.

At tumambad ang Simbahan ni Patrocino de Maria sa Boljoon.

Kagyat kong sinayawan ang simabahan pagbaba ng bus sa pagtatangkang hulihin ang pinakamagandang mukha nito.

Walang patid ang pikit ng kamera.

Walang humpay din ang sindi ng sigarilyo nina Ka Maning at Ka Tolits sa preskong parke na inihiwalay sa bakuran ng simbahan ng aspaltadong kalsada.

Marahil ay natutuwa silang mamalas ang ritwal ng aking paninimbahan.

O naiinis dahil lampas pananghalian na at ang tanging laman ng tiyan ay ang sitsaron at ampao na binili sa bus.

Humupa din ang sayaw at pitik.

Hindi dumating ang kampanero upang pagbuksan sana ang nakakandadong lagusan ng blockhouse na naging kampanaryo.

Hinimas ng tinola at pritong isda sa isang mumurahing karinderia ang sikmurang biglang nakaramdam ng pagkagutom.

Sa biyahe pabalik, ako ay muling tumitig na lamang sa makulay na simbahan ng Alcoy at matayog na kampanaryo ng Dalaguete.

Pero nagmano kami kay Santa Catalina de Alejandria sa Argao, nakiusap sa naglalampasong mama na kuhanan ang altar ng simbahan, at nagmerienda ng torta sa puwesto ni Aling Chitang.

Muli, nagkasya na lamang ako sa pagtitig sa malapad na simbahan ng Sibonga.

Pero sumaludo kami kay San Miguel Arkanghel sa Carcar, inakyat ang simbahan sa ibabaw ng burol, at bumili ng sitsaron at ampao sa puwesto ni Mat-Mat.

Bilang premyo, dinala ko sina Ka Tolits at Ka Maning sa kainan ni Ebelle sa tabi ng SM kung saan kami namapak ng inihaw na tiyan, at tinolang ulo at buntot ng tuna.

TALABABA: Ang simbahan ng Boljoon ay inumpisahang itayo noong 1783 at siyang pinakamatanda at natitirang simbahan na bato ng Cebu. Ang simbahan ay isa sa 26 na itinalagang National Heritage Site ng National Commission on Culture and Arts, at kinilala bilang isang National Historical Landmark ng National Historical Institute at National Cultural Treasure ng National Museum.    

Wednesday, November 07, 2012


It was actually my third visit to Cebu but the last one was 8 years ago in 2004.

That was when I'm still totting a point-and-shoot Olympus Camedia and, just like most "I-have-a-camera" guys, have the tendency to ask somebody to take a snapshot of me every now and then.

One Nikon D40 later and now armed with an Olympus OMD-EM5 that I still need acquainting with plus 8 years of shooting churches and noodles, I am back.

And dragged Ka Tolits and Ka Maning for a re-shoot under a burning mid-afternoon sun.

The ancient Casa Gorordo seemed oddly new.

I shoot the Yap-Sandiego ancestral house and the Cebu Heritage Monument for the first time.

And finally, new sane frames to replace those hastily snapped photos of the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral...

...and the Basilica del Sto. Nino Minore.

In between of course is Calle Colon and then Magellan's Cross where I bought P40 worth of colored candles from a Sinulog lady who danced and prayed while chanting my family name.

From Fort San Pedro, I hailed a taxi and rewarded my 2 companions with a late lunch at the famous Larsian barbecue stalls.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Two things why, almost reluctantly, I accepted an invitation to Cebu City:

[1] the colonial heritage church of Boljoon plus that
      chance to upgrade my stupid Olympus Camedia point
      -and-shoot photos with my Olympus OMD-EM5;

[2] to accommodate the Department of Agriculture who
      owe us a P4.3 million project that was approved and
      allocated in 2011 but, according to them, remains

Two things why I declined Usec Fred's offer to travel to Berlin:

[1] I already confirmed Cebu and have planned for Boljoon 
     (and Argao and Carcar too);

[2] I thought Berlin is too far and too short and would
     almost be as angular as Bonn.

Cebu +factor: fellowship with a fellow Traveler.

Berlin -factor: tons of "loss and damage" stuff expected in Doha anyway.

Usec's photos of the 200+ years old Catedral de la Virgen Maria de la Conception Imaculada de la Habana in Cuba will do for the moment...  

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Ngayon nga, biglaang kumatas ang ilang pirasong natira sa kanya:

     ang kutis niyang kulay nana at katawang kawangis ng    
     nililok na kandila sa Recto na sumambulat sa aking
     panatag na paglalakabay.

Sa Kawit na ako mag-aalmusal; d'un ko na din tatanungin ang sakristan kung nasaan ang tindahan ng Jollibee;

     at kung si Aguinaldo nga ba ang tumuklap sa mga pader

     ng simbahan;

     kung nangumpisal na si Don Ramon sa simbahan ng 

     at kung bakit nag-cha-cha ang pari sa altar ng retokadong
     simbahan ng Silang.

(Madalang na daw ang hindi buntis na ikinakasal ang wika niya.)

Pero sumpa man, ni hindi ko nahaplos o nayakap o nahalikan yaong walang pangalan:

     walang mantsa ang kumot ng kamang madalas naming
     walang naiwang mga buhok sa upuan ng stainless jeep na
     aming tinambayan.

Ang tanging nadukot sa bulsikot...

     ay sa General Mariano Alvarez siya nagmula na ngayo'y
     kasing trapik na ng EDSA...
     habang ako nama'y nanggaling sa makiwal na lansangan
     ng Nueva Vizcaya.

Nakakatuwa ang kayang gawin ng mga kalsada.

Katulad ng pag-alog sa bulsikot ng mga alaala.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Ang importante lang naman noon e magka-diploma.

Aanhin ba kasi ang sobra ng gradong tres?

Basta tatapusin ko ang kolehiyo nang apat na taon at walang singko.

Kaya papasok, a-absent.

Si Me-an, asar na asar dahil mas mataas pa din ang grade ko sa kanya sa "Malikhaing Pagsulat" kahit na hindi ko pinasukan ng kalahating semestre samantalang wala siya kahit ni isang absent.

Nakatikim pa nga ako ng ilang College (1.75 GPA) at University (1.50 GPA) Scholarships.

Pagdating sa dulo ng ikaapat na taon, ang kabuuang suma ko ay 1.78 GPA.

Sayang daw,

0.03 na lang at cum laude na.

Kung hindi sana ako na-tres sa PI 105 dahil dinebate ko ang CARP framework ng aming propesor; o sa ComSci 100 dahil hindi ko talaga ma-gets ang paggawa ng flowchart; o sa Physics 100 dahil nasanay akong maglurok ng mga panaginip pero hindi sa pagkuwenta kung ilang litro ng formalin ang kailangan ng isang bangkay na may bigat na 75 kilo.

Pero hindi sumama ang loob ko.

Hindi ako naghinayang.

Kaya palagay ko, okey lang.

Happy naman ako sa mga naging choices ko sa Pamantasan ng Puso...

Monday, October 08, 2012


PBET ang kasunod na hamon pagka-graduate namin sa kolehiyo noong 1993.

Binigyan ako ng pera para mag-review pero nanghinayang akong gastusin 'yun.

Kaya iginala ko na lang 'yung pang-review ko 'tsaka nanghiram ng lumang reviewer.

Sa Maynila ako nag-exam.

Ako ang kaunaunahang natapos.

Pag-uwi ay kinapos ako sa pamasahe pa-Nueva Ecija dahil hindi na naibalik ni Raffy A. 'yung hiniram niyang P300.

Hindi din ako napahiram ni Joel A. na unang nilapitan ko.

Kaya bumaba ako sa San Miguel, Bulacan kung saan nagkasya ang pera ko at nanghiram ng P100 sa ka-JARMMS kong si Joan para makauwi.

Alam kong papasa ako kahit maaga kong tinapos 'yung exam at hindi ako nag-review.

Pero hindi ko inaasahan na makakasama ako sa Top 3 ng CLSU (sina Tarods na dekano na ngayon sa CLSU at Bb. Vilma Santos ang dalawa pa).

Iginayak pa nga kami ng recognition event na hindi ko dinaluhan kung saan binigyan kami ng certificate of appreciation na si Tarods na ang tumanggap para sa akin.

Kaya pala dahil pang Top 20 sa buong Pilipinas 'yung resulta namin noon na nito ko na lamang nalaman kay Tarods.

Last week, sinabihan ko si Bulan na huwag niyang gagayahin yung diskarte ko sa board exam noon.

Dahil baka kako ako lang ang maaaring nakagawa ng gan'un... 

Friday, September 07, 2012


I have a solid travel plan: take the 8:20 express train at the Hua Lamphong train station and in Ayutthaya, negotiate a tuktuk rental for not more than 500 Bahts.

The camera batteries have been charged, tote bag filled with the basics (bottled water, towel, passport photocopy, map), balyudong attire washed and hanged, and 3k Baht in small bills in my wallet.

The next day, I woke up to what I thought was early morning darkness, and lingered in bed.

Until almost 8 am when I realized that it's the pouring rain outside that made things blacker than usual.

But still, I pulled out from the comfort of my queen-sized bed, had a quick shower, grabbed a quick yucky breakfast, and made my way to the train station.

I missed the express so I paid the fare for the regular.

And waited.

As the rain poured harder.

As would be Ayutthaya tourists like me started shaking their heads.

So I started shooting train station frames...

...around Hua Lamphong, to Sala Daeng, to the National Stadium, and finally Mahboonkrong.

There I killed the day window shopping, and sometimes buying.

Then back to Sala Daeng where I explored the crowded streets of Silom.

I fell to bed as soon as I reached Room 2011 of the Aetas Lumpini Hotel..., tote bag, shoes, and all...

Wednesday, September 05, 2012


Alas, the A&W along Rama VI closed shop midway into the UNFCCC informal session. 

That means I have to scrounge for dinner along the motley collection of Thai fastfood stalls near the hotel, or survive on 7-11 nuked food packs, or close my eyes and endure the stiff price at Vincent's.

(This was before discovering that Silom and its heavenly array of affordable street food is just a 15 Baht subway ride away).

It doesn't help that my hotel breakfast fare is nearing the puking level and the cafeteria menu at the UNESCAP is evolving into a "must-not-eat-today" gastronomic meltdown.

So norlygrace's invitation for us to have dinner in Silom, after the UN and Thai police cut short the Oxfam-Greenpeace media stunt, was indeed a welcome respite from an increasing crescendo of culinary torture.

The Thai sausage reminded me of Vigan and Lucban (first photo below), the spicy pork salad a million times better than UNESCAP's (second photo below), the papaya salad with salted eggs just fine, and the perfectly grilled dalag (third photo below) tugged at the memory of a dinner somewhere in Bangkok in honor of my friend/mentor/kumpare Oyet P. who could not make it to the christening of my youngest son.

The next day, we were greeted with the anticipated news that there will no longer be any contact groups, almost no coordination, and unbelievably almost no work. 

"Sama ka na lang sa amin," said Usec Fred who was invited to visit the Philippine Embassy along Sukhumvit by the Agriculture Attache.

And since it was high noon, we were brought to an almost-fine-dining lunch first.

The tomato salad with chunks of mozzarella was a welcome change (first photo below); I thought my lamb shank tasted too strong of the lamb it was and regrettably envied Ate Alice's grilled tuna steak (second photo below) before the freshly baked pizza soothed my disappointment; and the iciness of the vanilla ice cream crumble dessert stabbed at my ailing upper left molar.

It was good eating...