Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Government is Taxing Me for Learning Japanese

According to the 1950 Florence Agreement on the Importation of Educational, Scientific and Cultural Materials that the Philippines signed in August 7, 1979, imported educational and cultural books should be exempt from Customs Duties, although a limited amount for the services they (Customs) render could be applied. Of course this is subject to interpretation, and it appears that the Bureau of Customs has its own, to the tune of 2,000 pesos for a set of books worth 5,500.

I was supposed to order a complete set of Minna No Nihongo from the Nihongo Center Foundation in Makati, except they would not let me buy them because I am not enrolled at their institution. I think that is bullshit since they are supposed to be promoting the Japanese language. How are they to do that if they are monopolizing the resources? They are not even the publisher of those books. Moving on, I just decided to purchase online and found another textbook series: Genki.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Dalaw

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Stella (Kris Aquino) decides to marry Anton (Diether Ocampo), the love of her life, four years after her first husband's death in a car accident. Much to the delight of her son (Maliksi Morales), the two get married and are soon after haunted by a vengeful ghost, which is later identified as Stella's "Dalaw" by Manang Olga (Gina Parreño), the psychic caregiver of Anton's mother.

Perhaps being surrounded by a competent support cast is what makes Kris Aquino's acting tolerable here. Gina Parreño drops a classic Pinoy movie one-liner in almost every sentence, but her delivery is just the right mix of campy and credible that you get to admire her acting repertoire. She should have won the Supporting Actress Award over Eugene Domingo. The only other nominee was Alessandra de Rossi for the same film. She is brilliant and consistent here but her role here is too short. Ina Feleo also does a good job. Susan Africa as well. Diether Ocampo is okay. Karylle, who appears in medias res, is okay. Even Empress does her best in such a minimal role. The weak link here acting-wise would be the kid, then Kris.

Ang Tanging Ina Mo (Last Na 'To!)

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After winning an election to become the country's president in the second installment, Ina Montecillo (Ai Ai de las Alas) is back in the household to take care of her kids for part three, until she discovers that she has a tumor in her brain and would be dying soon. Conflicts mainly revolve around Juan (Marvin Agustin) versus Tri (Carlo Aquino) and Tudis (Nikki Valdez) versus Seven (Shaina Magdayao). In this scenario Heart Evangelista as Por is sorely missed, since her clash with gay brother Pip (Alwyn Uytingco) is actually the most memorable from the first movie. Instead, Xyriel Ann Manabat  joins the cast as one of Ina's grandkids. This kid is really good. In fact she is the only new addition to the cast that actually contributes something to the comedy department. Well, Empoy is here too as Seven's fiancé, but we already know how he is utilized as a comedic character.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

BATANES: Budget and Itinerary


FRIDAY: December 17, 2010 
Taxi (Pasay - Manila Domestic Terminal) - 72.50
Terminal Fee (Manila Domestic Terminal) - 200.00
Seair (Manila – Basco – Manila) - 6,927.20
  Beef Steak w/Rice & Coke in Can (Batanes Seaside Resort) - 145.00
Batanes Seaside Resort (Double Aircon/3 nights) - 2,400.00
3 pcs Toast and Bacon w/Fit n' Rite (Batanes Seaside Resort) - 135.00
Sinigang and Rice w/Coke (Batanes Seaside Resort) - 110.00
PhP9,989.70

BATAN: 05 – Batanes Seaside Lodge


I was not able to take pictures of the place but I did manage to catch it on video. For your benefit, you can just watch the video above which features the resort from 02:15 to 04:25.

Monday, December 20, 2010

SABTANG: 04 – Batanes Roundup


It was almost 11 AM when we got back to Centro. The tour guide asked me if I wanted to go north to see a popular beach and have a glimpse of Vuhus and Adekey. I concurred. On the road, the tour guide singled out a brown horse eating grass among the goats and claimed it as his. We took a right turn to the beach. The beach is quite popular among tourists because of a big rock forming an arch. The waves are a bit wild but one could not help but marvel on the clarity of the water, which was cold by the way. What I did not like about that beach were the black jelly thingies that stuck to my flip-flops. I never got them off even after some hard brushing when I got back to Manila. Trash bin.

SABTANG: 03 – The Humble Town of Chavayan


The road to Chavayan was longer but not at all boring because of the view. Look right and you see an overdose of green care of the mountains and the cliffs. Look left and you see many ripples of white forming on the surface of an ocean so blue. Halfway through the journey, we passed by Sleeping Beauty. Maybe I am just visually impaired but I really cannot make out that image of the mountain. There are many humps that could qualify as Sleeping Beauty’s boobs but I just could not figure out which. I just took a picture and ogled at it for awhile but still, nada

SABTANG: 02 – A Quick Stop at Savidug


The twin towns of Malakdang and Sinakan are the most accessible from Centro where the church, town hall, and the school are located. An arch greets you as you enter the town center. The Tourist Information office is on the left and is within walking distance from the port and from the entrance to Sinakan. The road from Sinakan going south is the one leading to Savidug and Chavayan. The one from Malakdang heading north would lead you to Nakanmuan and Sumnanga, the fishing village where you would be coming from if you intend to visit Vuhus or Adekey. Can you go to Sumnanga from Chavayan? No. The road to Chavayan ends in Chavayan. The only way to reach the other side of the island is to go north.

SABTANG: 01 – Dancing with the Waves


Sabtang is one of Batanes’ main islands. Located southwest of Batan, the island is home to six towns (if I am not mistaken) among which the more popular ones are Chavayan and Savidug in the east. It also serves as the take-off point to get to Vuhus or Adekey, two smaller uninhabited islands to the west that serve as grazing areas for cows and goats. To get to Sabtang you have to take a 50-peso faluwa ride from Ivana’s San Vicente Port. That is around 30-45 minutes spent on a motorized boat dancing on the waves.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

BATAN: 04 – Wafers and Cola at Diura


Passing by some Nipa huts along the beach, I reached the fishing village after two minutes. I was greeted by three carabaos enjoying a mud bath by the shore. I parked the bike in front of the signboard saying Welcome. There were two paths, one that led to the beach and the other, which I took, was elevated and served as a walkway for people. There was a sign saying tourists should register but the arrow pointed to a Sari-Sari store. So I just bought five pieces of Nissin Wafers and Coke in a plastic. I walked my bike to the shore, sat on a rock, and ate my wafers on that beach. I had the impression that I was at Valugan Bay but when I saw pictures after the trip, the shore of Valugan Bay was supposed to be filled with smooth stones, none of which I saw there. Well, whatever. To me it was Valugan Bay whether the pictures agree or not. They are both beaches anyway.

BATAN: 03 – Fishing at the Chanarian


The bike had some sort of speed mechanism and ceased to function after I adjusted it. I had it replaced with a one-speed orange bike with a basket in front. After lunch I took a shower, I went on with the long bike trip awaiting me along National road. It took me around 30 minutes to get to the Chanarian View Deck and another 30 to get to Mahatao. It was not easy and I had to rest a lot along the way. The road just goes up and down but the scenery is postcard perfect.

BATAN: 02 – Provoking a Cow at Naidi Hills


Saturday started as early as 5 AM to make up for lost time. After breakfast I went to town to look for Amboy's bike rental. I was able to get a mountain bike for 200 pesos. I just had to return it and pay before they close at 8 PM. See, this is one thing you just have to admire about the Ivatans. They have faith in each other. At the Batanes Seaside Lodge, for example, there is a TV by the front door. The desk is often unmanned and the door, wide open. There were no security guards by the way. Do that in Manila and you are, like, doing the Akyat Bahay a huge favor. Anyway, I decided to go and see Mt. Iraya up close.

BATAN: 01 – To Strangle a Stewardess


Batanes is the Philippines' last frontier to the north. The province experiences four seasons, albeit no snowfall for winter. Basco serves as the gateway to the province and is located on the island of Batan right in the middle, while largest island Itbayat is the last municipality of the country to the north and is actually closer to Taiwan. Sabtang to the south, on the other hand,  is where Chavayan, a UNESCO World Heritage site nominee, is located.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Magsimula Ka (Spotlight Artists Centre)

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The musical starts with a mini concert for the finals of a singing competition called Philipop. Isay Alvarez, Jamie Rivera, Rito Asilo, Jenine Desiderio and Bicong del Rosario sing solos for the audience and end the performance with an ensemble piece. Some of them were part of the original cast of Magsimula Ka.

The show tackles the very typical theme of ambition and reaching for your dreams. What makes it different then? The musical is in Filipino, and it is just a breath of fresh air to see something like it. I have seen almost a dozen musicals this year, and none of them were in Tagalog. Here is an original Filipino production, and a very lively one at that. The venue and the language make the event more intimate for the audience. It is also because of this that the entire thing looks like a cross between a musical and a comedy bar performance, which is actually good because the audience was obviously enjoying every moment.

Little Women (Repertory Philippines)

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Bickering sisters, womanhood, elaborate ball gowns. Not really my cup of tea. At least it is a musical, which makes it more interesting. And even if none of the things mentioned would be of interest to you, there are other subplots within the play that feature universal themes such as Jo’s ambition, for example.

The only vague recollection I have of Little Women is that cartoon series where the woman is named Jo and his husband is named Fritz. They run some sort of orphanage together. If I am not mistaken the title of that series was also Little Women. However, after seeing this play it seems like this is the prequel to that story. No, I have not read the novel yet.

It is a bit boring but maybe this depends on the person watching it. If you love costume dramas tackling the restricted and very traditional role of women in society during the 19th century then you might enjoy this. However, there are some people who just do not get it. I do not get it. Sorry to fans. But I cannot even distinguish such novels from one another. Their structures seem to be almost the same, very much like modern chick lit. Perhaps reading some of them would shed more light and elicit appreciation.

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