Why Wait For Summer? We’re Off to the Beach!

“Where do you guys stay?”, that’s the question that I’ve been avoiding for 3 days we’ve been to Boracay as we’ve been asked by people we know and kind strangers as well. We stayed at Shangri-la Boracay. Yeah I know, “sosyal!” and I’m crazy to spend unbelievable amount of money for it, but to tell you the truth, its F-R-E-E. The lucky bastard out of me did it again by winning at Mango Magazine’s launch grand prize raffle when I already have a booking for Hey Jude Hotel for December.

Oh well, I said to myself in a so apathetic manner, I know what to do with this Shangri-la 3 days and 2 nights stay GC. 😛

Even though I am not much a fan and strongly disagree of the construction of these modern type of hotels in a nature embraced Boracay. Its best, I think, that I thank God for the unexpected blessing and take the opportunity to explore and experience the luxury of staying at the newly erected and overly grandeur Shangri-La Boracay.

The food (the best they can offer), the staff, the place is amazingly pleasant. Shangri-la got everything we need and, due to time constraint, we didn’t even get to explore everything the hotel got in store for the guest residents like the one we just saw before leaving on the 3rd day: the beautifully decorated Entertainment room. Plus there are other places, like the gym, their other restaurants, the other beach (they have two), etc.

If you are going to Boracay only because you miss the ever pristine beach of it? Then I recommend that you get a beachfront hotel on White Beach instead, not in Shangri-La. Though they have their own beach (and pool) for the guest residents, nothing still beats the overall beauty–the sand, the party places, the beautiful people, the beach, the food, the nature, etc.–of White Beach, Boracay.

But everyone can never neglect the best thing about Shangri-la Boracay–the FOOD. It is something to die for and is something that you’ll surely miss when you get back to Manila. Here’s the situation and is probably the best description that I can give about the food: do you know the experience of eating something that is so insanely delicious that you just take a bite of one of their food and while absorbing the taste of the delicacy, you blissfully close your eyes as you are suddenly in a state of culinary trance and you just don’t want to give up the food to your esophagus just to savor more of the taste? Boom! Thats just it I miss it already! My waist line before leaving Manila was 31, and now as I am writing this blog, I just adjusted my belt (an inch?) to a less tighter notch. Whew!

A lot of thanks to Linds for lending us the Canon Powershot D10 for the underwater shots.

The World Found Treasure in the Philippines

Before, most of us don’t give nothing of a cent about ordinary Efren Penaflorida and what he does. Now, he’s in every front page and headline of every local and international news after being highly recognized as a Hero of 2009. It is sad that such great appreciation for his good works has been granted not by his countrymen but of foreign advocates.

Efren Penaflorida, a Filipino street education advocate, received no or very little support from his countrymen and his Philippine government yet continued his passion of providing good education to poor children. And now he’s named by CNN as Hero of the Year for 2009.

What went wrong for us Filipinos to be so blind of what the world can see?

We focus too much of pointing fingers to the corrupt a-holes in the government that we hardly notice the little good things that the modest “others” are carrying out to uplift the current situation of the country. No wonder, many Filipinos leave the country and, what usually happens, become successful in a foreign land. Why can’t we do it here?

Mr. Penaflorida did. We are just too busy of our daily uneventful routine to notice.

But the world did.

 

CNN Street Teacher Filipino

Efren Penaflorida as 2009 CNN Hero of the Year

 

Gagamba by F. Sionil Jose

F. Sionil Jose, Gagamba Paperback cover

5.5/10

Very much like his famous Rosales Saga, Gagamba (The Spiderman) is one of F.Sionil Jose’s novels associated also to another of his masterpiece, Ermita, in line with the story setting and some characters. I’ve been again learned with his views on the social and politicial subjects concerning the Philippines as he expansively reiterates the country’s cause of inadequate progress after the 1960s, or perhaps its vitiation after People Power.

The writing style is different from his other novels. He builds-up each of the character’s background per chapter and how they end up having the common denominator of consequentially being introduced to Gagamba and being within the famous Camarin when the historical 1990s Manila earthquake occurred. The story telling is entertaining though a bit dragging as you keep on guessing on how many chapters he’s going to allot for how many people. Then eventually you’ll end up on the last chapter—at long last, when the earthquake shattered the Camarin establishment and buries the characters, except for three people.

The novel’s last chapter and ending is a disappointment. I was expecting a little more to it after turning different stories of the characters each chapter, building up my anticipation. In the end, three individuals survived the Camarin’s heavy remains: Gagamba, the cripple (represents the battered but hardworking poor) who took care of one of the victim’s orphan Namnama (represents the country’s youth and hope) and Fred Villa (the corrupt opulent owner of Camarin) who’s source of sin and pride has been taken away by the accident, who I hope will eventually change his ways and be part of the nation’s development and change. The story of the destruction of Camarin depicts the Philippines’ continuing decline towards rock-bottom status. That the rebuilding of this country will depend on the individuals who were given second life by surviving the accident.

F. Sionil Jose’s novel Gagamba tells a story of the Philippines in a post-Marcos timeframe, an interval wherein many Filipino’s hopes and dreams are within reach after establishing democracy once again. To our despair, it seems that the dream has been an illusion all along. After achieving victory in the People Power, we still see ourselves and our nation stagnant in a swamp of poverty and corruption. One man’s power and dictatorship rule is cut, but the deceptive devils along with their intimidating leister are still lurking around, mortifying the very nation’s hope and spirit.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Khaled Houssein

9.5 / 10

For those who have been awed by Khaled Housseini’s first novel “The Kite Runner”, his second masterpiece will astound you. A Thousand Splendid Suns is said by many as paramount of his two novels. To me, though with great difficult to distinguish, I felt more attached to his first work The Kite Runner. But I’m not saying that A Thousand Splendid Suns is a title to be put aside, it is in fact a vital gaffe to not open its enthralling pages.

If The Kite Runner obviously focused its story on the different men of Afghanistan, Hosseini’s following to his first work, A Thousand Splendid Suns then gives way to the women of Afghanistan who are most decrepit and oppressed by the many occurrence in the Afghan land. Unlike from the start of The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns will not give readers a chance to be prepared from the tears and.

The author perceptibly didn’t negate the women of his native land. He, in truth, gave much importance to them as he gave in details what the women were from the monarch-era to the Russian Invasion and the Taliban takeover up to the present day Afghanistan. The world is to be exposed, with A Thousand Splendid Suns, to the experiences women had throughout the degradation of the great Afghanistan they’ve known.
There are two parts of the book where Hosseini focused on the background stories of two different heroines: Laila and Mariam. Both representing two different generations and type of Afghan women: Mariam as the god-fearing, illiterate, conservative, and submissive; while Laila as the educated, liberated, contemporary, and well-opinionated woman of Afghanistan. Both are to experience the cruelty and sadist twist of fate their unrecognizable country will impose on all Afghan women. They are to endure and even though battered will end up victorious as they find hope in each other (the only thread they are to hold onto) that there will be a better Afghanistan for all women and their children.

Today’s Afghanistan has existing women rights group and organizations that are fighting for the place of women’s equality and place in Afghanistan. Let this eye-opener novel be an inspiration to not just Afghan women but to all who are in struggle with social injustices and abuse in different countries.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Kite Runner, Khaled Housseini, fiction, books, afghanistan

9.5 / 10

This first work from Khaled Housseini is definitely one of the best titles out there today. The Kite Runner is one astonishing novel that is written with no highfaluting words and simple writing technique, and yet an impactful masterpiece.

I find The Kite Runner as a representation of Afghanistan and its people. Particularly through Amir, the Pashtun main character who betrayed Hassan, his bestfriend, then finding out on the latter part of the story, as his half Hazara brother. Kite Running is also a symbolism of how the Afghans, including the Housseini, misses their good old times of their country, the years wherein war and violence is unknown to the contented and prosperous cities of Afghanistan.

Like what Afghanistan was before the desolating invasion and war, Amir’s lifestyle was affluent thanks to his rich father who is a well-respected Afghan in Kabul. Baba, Ali’s father, by the way I think characterizes the country’s last king Mohammed Zahir Shah, who is also a person that is deemed also with reverence by his countrymen. He is also called as Baba by Afghanis, as father of the Afghan Nation. He is given much veneration by the author as much as most people reminisce of the old Afghanistan in his rule. Obviously, Baba’s son, Amir, has a name similar to an English translation of “prince”, son of the king.

The pivotal point of the story came when Amir betrayed Hassan of their friendship with cowardice and selfish reasons. Then the incidents that destroyed Afghanistan and its people started. But even fleeing the war-bruised land and having a comfortable life in the U.S., the unpleasant occurrences in his country were nothing compared to what teared down Amir’s conscience. After years of leaving the scourged country of Afghanistan, he made a choice to go back and then to find a way to make up for his mistakes with the help of his father’s closest friend, Rahim Khan.

Rahim Khan, a gentle and compassionate friend of both Baba and Amir, is a bit of a mystery in the story. His character was utilized by the author as a guide and advisor for the father and son characters. The author not saying much of his history and how the friendship with Baba started, the character’s background still remains a mystery to me, even to his very end.

Sohrab, Hassan’s only son has been orphaned by the Taliban and was held captive by Assef, depicted the bruised and tired Afghan people–especially its children, by the unnecessary violence and abuse of the Taliban and the other throbbing episodes that made Afghanistan a battered country.

I can go on and mention all the grief and touching message that I have perceived from the author in the story, but he already succeeded in placing Afghanistan’s story onto my plateau of interest. I felt the cruelty his country and his fellow countrymen experienced, such disturbing reality he has displayed to the world.

The book is going to get you hooked from the very first paragraphs up till the end, you won’t be able to put it down. Though the part that goes to the last chapters a bit slowed my interest, but its not that bad at all.

I wished my reading of this magnificent book didn’t end so soon. I now see myself wanting more of Afghanistan’s story, that’s why I ended up buying Khaled Housseini’s second book: A Thousand Splendid Suns and tuning in to Al Jazeera for the current Afghanistan elections. Like what most Afghans in the world, I too pray that this election be the turning point of change for the country, a change for the better.

Jabba What?! Jabba Who?!

jabbawockeez

If you were one of those complaining like hell and got no idea why the Trinoma mall is swarmed by people on a Friday night of September 4, 2009? I’m pretty sure you let out an “ahh” after seeing the moves being nailed that night; or perhaps hyperventilated and rushed at the center of the mall after knowing who is in town.

Jabbawockeez is in the freaking blessed Philippines!

I greatly anticipated Chris Brown after knowing he’ll be visiting the country a few months ago and I’ll be willing to spend like hell just to see his dance numbers. God damn I’ll spend more for Jabbawockeez! Well, to my relief (thanks to Ayala Malls and Itchy’s A-Card), its FREE, a 30-minute concert and dance number by the America’s Best Dance Crew. Sorta good thing since I’ve been running out of cash to splurge lately.

The crew danced most of their performances in America’s Best Dance Crew and killed it. I wouldn’t care running out of seats that night, Imma give these guys standing ovation all night!

For a better look and close up shots and video of the Jabbawockeez Trinoma tour you can check out Itchy’s Facebook album.

Bring Back The King!

I started to become a fan of Radio ever since High School when a friend introduced me to Magic 89.9’s Boogie Nights, the first time King DJ Logan and Slick Rick voices made me set aside the things that I usually do on a weekday night. I neglected TV and sleeping early over the 9pm-12mn time slot of radio. The show presented no dull moment and I became a fan, at that moment up to the present.

I miss the partnership of the two and that particular show. For those who just appreciated Boy’s Night Out, Boogie Nights is pretty much the same with Magic 89.9’s BNO of today. Some of the styles and program format of BNO’s Sam YG, Tony Toni and Slick Rick reminds me of, what most radio fans proclaim, King of Philippine FM radio. The Confession Session (a.k.a. Radio Tabloid), the Apir style, and some other stuff came from Boogie Nights.

The King never ran out of airtime after his suspensions and controversial break-up with Magic 89.9. I later can hear the famous Brando Braganza once again on Max FM and later on 99.5 RT. An exception to the overly unfriendly rants of his about Magic 89.9 and other DJs, he again lived up to his name being King DJ Logan by being innovative in radio. One of course is one of my favorites: drinking inside the DJ booth with fans who frequently visit his show.

His team up with Tina Ryan didn’t click as what listeners expected of their show coming from their previous team up in 93.9 KC FM years ago. After a few months, his voice again became absent in the evening airwaves. Many from the Brewrats, BNO, Tina Ryan and fans confirmed that he is now focusing his dayjob career, a living that can provide more for his family.

Nowadays, KDL is being missed in the airwaves and fans are anxious to hear his voice once again on-air. I wish 99.5 RT can bring him back, this time bringing his 2 other DJ friends from Logan’s Alley replacing the Brewrats’ previous timeslot in the evening. WE JUST WANT THE KING BACK!