Monday, December 25, 2017

THE WEEK BEFORE CHRISTMAS [with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore]

'Twas the week before Christmas, when through the house
Not a shrimp in the email but a bunch of bananas;
The Skype hummed with versions of the English,
Soon, a new company ID is forthcoming…

Out from the inbox clattered Working Group 1,
To meet face-to-face or not is the question.
Best and good practices from Lotus Notes sprang,
One report conjured but a lot more cooking somewhere…

With that Tagaytay came and went quick like night,
A 3-day vacation forfeited for an almighty ToR.
Finally, a disbursement that cleared an overcast plan,
To Jakarta on February for a regional workshop…

And then in a twinkling, Reports 3/4 came from Behind
The prancing of a Word version from Neverland.
But still GRAISEA and the NAPs seems poles apart,
I’ve never felt so alone and cranky but spunky…

A Google Drive and invoices sprang like roses,
MRLG came in with climate change 2020.
That jolly Dutchman looped me into the grid,
Enough for me to know I had nothing to dread…

I went home drunk with a half a sack of rice,
One last email and a text message to send.
“Twas the day before Christmas and we got a cake too,

Monday, December 18, 2017


the day I received the first draft report is the night our group topped the 2017 Christmas Games and I won the Grand Raffle Prize

it was also the night I Grabbed to a familiar haunt with old friends, and that darkness before "discovering" the Food Truck in Kamuning and tomorrow's breakfast of Filipino pandesal from the Kamuning Bakery  

the day I wrestled in thickening a thin report is the night I watched a free movie at the Yard Street Food Cinema while tempting myself with pasta from the Mafia

it was also the night I walked to the Tuna King Asian Restaurant for a sisig, and the darkness before tomorrow's pandesal from the Pantoja Bakery

the day I practically rewrote the report is our 20th wedding year, the morning Bulan and me hit the trails after a long while, the afternoon that Balong came home with a tug-of-war silver medal, and the night we dined on green leaves and drank urine-gold Chardonnay  

the day the report was almost done is when Riza came in for the case study and the night before tomorrow's Convention where DenCun the Jedi took the floor, which is also the day for tomorrow's District party where we feasted on Jedi food and whiskey as I let the reports simmer in a consultancy requisition from the Galactic Empire while reciting spells from the Book of Luke that will charm the next Jedis into delivering less traumatic reports

Monday, December 11, 2017


lap top at skype, skype at lap top


Lotus invites na nagsasalimbayan


mga email na naligaw sa sansinukob


ang misteryo at mga kulay ng OPAL

kaya mabuhay ang nakaimbento ng bisikleta
ang tangi kong tungkod at pampagana!

kaya kinailangang umakyat sa Baguio noong Sabado
nagsuot ng amerikana at nagpanggap na amerikano!

Monday, December 04, 2017


Agung in Ilocano means "nose" 

and that volcanic snout, all snores in more than 50 years, got stuffed with hay fever magma and finally sneezed out loud as I was about to enplane for a Bali workshop with several kilometers saved in advance to counter a much anticipated Bali Hai spree   

Ugong in Filipino means "sound"

and the eruption resounded in both the Denpasar and Manila airports, so deafening it cancelled PR 537 and a 2-night booking at the Swiss-Belhotel Segara Resort and Spa, so I sought comfort with an insanely priced coffee at Starbucks and an array of Filipino kebab at IBP 

Nabali in English means "broken"

as in my first trip to Bali disrupted, my wanderlust interrupted, kaput, fly another day which is maybe next year, which could be more Jakarta than Bali, perhaps Lombok, although the good side is I was able to attend one important meeting and got my Christmas gift too

And Sundays are for bike rides

this one to atone for a missed college fraternity reunion, for  two more stickers after paying for an insanely priced coffee and cake, and a liter of Johnny Walker Black during an extension tournament of the 2017 Bowling Games

Monday, November 20, 2017


840 calories from a post-birthday session easily burned in 64.3 kms of biking in Guimba and Munoz.

400 calories from a fellowship effortlessly spent in 19 kilometers of Cubao's concrete jungle.

1,650 calories from another birthday party and a convention almost obliterated by 39 kilometers of cruising through Talavera.

I therefore conclude that drinking is the best inspiration for biking.

Sunday, November 19, 2017


I'm often asked how I cope up with my frequent trips.

Simple, I always make every trip interesting by setting a goal to anywhere I go.

And with my recent trip to Vientiane, I have fulfilled a personal goal of visiting all the 7 Oxfam country teams in the ASEAN.

Now I need find a way to get to Brunei and earn the bragging rights of having been to all 10 ASEAN members states. 

Saturday, November 18, 2017


A million elephants in a 237,955 square kilometer land area is equivalent to 4 elephants for every square kilometers which could be easily spotted but I've seen none in the streets of Vientiane where elephants were as rare as public transport although overcharging tuktuks are in every street corner. 

What happen to the elephants when they die? Were they buried in large graves or butchered for meat? But we were served crispy river weed from the Mekong River as we start our dinner at the Khop Chai Deu. 

Perhaps the elephants would be in an early morning bath at the Mekong but the zumba practitioners at the Chao Anouvong Park directed me to a huge statue of the King where miniature porcelain and stone elephants [and horses] stand guard at the pedestal. 

I asked the street grill masters of Rue Phainam if the elephants are in their Sai Oua sausages, and the noodle chef at the Family Boutique Hotel if by chance they serve elephant-flavored rice porridge, and they all said no. 

So I went home, contemplating where all the million elephants went while whiling time in the stuffy smoking room of the Wattay Airport, counting a hundred thousand elephants in my head while killing 9 hours with Phuket Beer at the Suvarnabhumi Airport, then dropping my treasured Beer Lao mug as I unpack in Bacal 2 because my mind was somewhere else with the the elephants who ran away when I came to Vientiane.   

Friday, November 17, 2017


Once upon a time in Laos, the Americans thought an airport is needed and gave funds to the Lao Royal Government to build one.

But instead of an airport, the government decided to build a Laotian Arc de Triomphe, the Anousavary Monument, to honor those who died fighting against the Siamese, Japanese and French colonizers and invaders.

Thus was the story of the Vertical Runway, built between 1957 and 1968, and later renamed as the Patuxai Monument to commemorate the rise to power of the Pathet Lao in 1975.

Vientiane is a small city and points of interest can easily be reached by foot which is perfect for a morning walker like me.

So the next day and armed with a map, I set on foot for the Patuxai Monument which I thought is the nearest historical landmark from my hotel. 

From Rue Pangkham, I turned left to what I thought was Avenue Lanexang [it was Boulevard Khounboulum] and got lost before being directed by a hotel receptionist then by store guard to a big road [Rue Samsenthai] where I should turn left. 

It was in Samsenthai that I "discovered" the new Lao National Cultural Hall and the old Lao National Museum along with the realization that I actually walked a full circle through fully preserved examples of French colonial architecture, and that Avenue Lanexang is actually just behind my hotel.

And at the intersect of Samsenthai and Lanexang, the first point of interest is actually the Wat Si Saket, Vientiane's oldest standing museum, and right across the temple is the Palais Presidentiel, the unoccupied official residence of the Lao president.

On the opposite end of Lanexang 1.4 kilometers away near the Naga-guarded entrance to the Wat Phra That Phoun is the Vertical Runway AKA Patuxai Monument.      

It was while walking lost that I also did a reconnaissance of Lao street food but it was while searching for the That Dam, the legendary gold gilded home of a seven headed serpent, that I stumbled into an open barbecue strip along Rue Phainam and fell in love with grilled Sai Oua, that ubiquitous Lao sausage that undoubtedly is a manifestation of the French colonial era and yet so oriental in taste with hints of lemongrass, galangal, kaffir and fish sauce.

There were of course river fish from the Mekong River and bits of meat [pork, beef, chicken] but it was the Sai Oua and that daily bowl of hot Lao noodles from the Family Boutique breakfast buffet that I raised my glass of red wine [and ate my fried chicken wings, spring rolls and chicken satay] during the reception cocktails at the Settha Palace Hotel.       

My Vientiane however is not about airports, monuments, temples and sausages.

It was for me a spread of keynotes, plenaries, parallel sessions and a petite vape-smoking French lawyer expounding on international legal frameworks for responsible agriculture investments.

That was such a day and with an unofficial "reception" Spanish dinner [after the official cocktail reception] of salad, calamari and grilled meat at Pimenton's along Rue Nokeokoumman.    

Monday, November 13, 2017


but during the dry runs and before the orange barriers came, the women of ASEAN wove stories in their purple shawls 

Bulan too came and went from the ASEAN Youth Forum, told his story in between hazy brews and burnt meat from Maginhawa   

there was SEAFish for Justice convening in Ferzal except Thien, a discourse on life with dignity in blurry lines   

went home to a Convention that got struck by a tropical depression, came back to a Sunday market for the schublig and grilled squid

then the leaders came in blazing sirens and armed escorts, corporate greed squeezing their people out of places to go    

Monday, November 06, 2017


i was supposed to be cleaning tombs instead of walking through the sleaze of Nana

i am supposed to be feeding hungry ghosts instead of being laughed at by a squashed jack-o-lantern

i should have been enjoying home in Bacal 2 instead of being in Ploenchit for table discussions and workshops 

so i searched in the edges of Soi 4 for beer and peace, and walked to the railroad tracks in Sukhumvit for food

i am glad that San Miguel has made it to the world's beer parade although Chang is my lager in Bangkok

i took the train to Ratchaprarop, ate fried pork for lunch, and almost had a duck dinner in Prachak

every night, i passed makeshift cafes where zombies from Nana Plaza become alive for a while

boy, am i glad to be home and drunk on Saturday, and enjoy the ride to Maangol on Sunday