December 31, 2007

Boracay halfshell

We found this along the shore yesterday afternoon while taking a walk along the beach. Don't get too excited though. This one was someone's pet. Good she didn't just swim away into the open sea haha

Familiar music in Silay

Talk about coincidences and unexpected blessings.

When Pau and I decided to include Silay in our West Visayas itinerary, a visit to the local parish church was not part of our schedule. It just so happened that we got off the jeepney in front of the church and decided to start from there. It was a good place to start anyway since, like every small town in the country, the church was the natural epicenter of community events. So there we were, checking out the church architecture and surrounding grounds when we found ourselves in the back area where the parish offices were. A Children's Mass was ongoing but we could hear something else playing somewhere. Much to our surprise, it was the Hangad a capella CD!(This might not mean much to the more experienced artists out there but hearing Hangad's music outside Metro Manila is still a rarity for me. If you're reading this from outside Metro Manila and your choir sings Hangad songs, send me video (! I'm sure everyone in Hangad will be thrilled to see it =) )

The music was coming from the Music Ministry office. I was too shy to approach the person inside but Pau was friendly enough to say hello. We found out they were the youth charismatic choir of the parish and their repertoire included pieces from Hangad A Capella like Papuri and You Are Near. What made the discovery more of a blessing was that Leonard, the choir head, wasn't supposed to be there. He had given his choir time off to rest after the hectic Christmas activities but for some reason, he found himself in the Music Ministry office that afternoon. Imagine his surprise when he suddenly had visitors from Hangad at his doorstep!

After exchanging conversation, we promised to send him a copy of The Easter Journey CD since this wasn't available in Bacolod yet (Attention JesCom...ehem hehe). The experience was definitely humbling for me. Maybe I should make it a habit to check out local choirs every time I travel =)

Unsa kuno? (Ano Daw?)

Iloilo Weesam Express terminal

Is there also an accredited crap stop? haha

December 12, 2007

Time for Asian Idol

Attention all IDOL FANS. Did you know about the Asian Idol competition this Saturday? I wasn't a big fan of Mau Marcelo or Philippine Idol for that matter but I definitely would want to see us bag the first Asian Idol tilt (Don't we usually win all the regional singing competitions anyway? =p ). Here is the show schedule according to the website. You can also check out the voting procedure and participating countries on the site. Good luck Mau!

Philippines on ABC5

Road to Asian Idol Saturday Dec 8 8pm-9pm
Main Show Saturday Dec 15 8pm-10pm
Results Sunday Dec 16 9pm-10pm

I knew I liked boys as early as

While browsing through the Young Adult Section of National Bookstore (OK before you make any conclusions, I was looking for a book for my Kris Kringle gift. I graduated from Bobbsey Twins and Hardy Boys when I was 11), this book cover caught my eye...

No, not because there was a naked boy on the cover [ehem!] but more because it was placed in the young adult section next to the teen romance titles. Upon closer inspection, I got more surprised to discover that it was a book for Young Gay Adults. Wow! Since when have reading materials for pre-puberty queers become mainstream? I can almost hear all the Maximo Oliveroses in the metropolis screaming for a copy. I guess this is good because it sends the signal that what they're going through is not something they are experiencing alone. Maybe reading the book will make them more sure of who they are earlier in life and lessen the number of problematic, angsty and suicidal closet cases in society.

Oh and did I mention that the book is about a 15-year old who want to loose his virginity? I know this is cliche nowadays(Well even in my generation. C'mon! Admit it! How young were you when you lost it? hehe) but its just different reading about it.

I did further research on Alex Sanchez, the author, and discovered online that a lot of his materials are really designed to be gay-oriented.
Read more about Alex Sanchez here.

Here is a brief excerpt of Getting It by Alex Sanchez:

It's embarrassing enough that Carlos Amoroso is fifteen and the only virgin among his friends, but he's never even really kissed a girl. The object of Carlos's desire, Roxy Rodriguez, is popular and hot--and has no idea that Carlos is alive. But watching a TV show one night gives Carlos an idea: What if he got a makeover from Sal, the guy at school everyone thinks is gay? Asking Sal to do him a favor is harder than it seems, because Carlos is worried that if any of his friends see him with Sal, they'll think that he's gay too

In return for making Carlos over, Sal wants help starting a Gay-Straight Alliance at their school--not exactly something Carlos is dying to do. In this humorous novel about first love, Lambda Award winner Alex Sanchez again brings honesty and insight to the trials of growing up.

Read more here

December 11, 2007

One more time for the fabulous foursome

"They say nothing lasts forever. Dreams change. Trends come and go. But friendships never go out of style"

FINALLY! After loads of stories and speculations circulating about what will happen next, who will be sleeping with who and who will be wearing what, the SEX AND THE CITY trailer has officially been released. Watch out SATC fans. Carrie has BIG surprises waiting for you.

Flashback to the SNL spoof about Carrie's return to New York about running off with the Russian in Paris. Hilarious!

What? Your date accidentally cut your weener?

And I thought the only organ operations in Thailand were only for those who wanted it removed. So what are these new ones? Second hand? haha (Wait for the video to load. Its something every guy should know just in case...)

December 10, 2007

moonbathing 12.02.07

View of the moon at around 1am from the Jesuit Residence on Culion Island.

I knew my measely 5-megapixel phone won't be able to do justice to the beautiful apparition in front of me so I grabbed this photo from Louis (who captured the image on a real SLR camera). Thanks Louis!

December 4, 2007

Culion Adventure Part 3

The day of the show found us exploring Culion town and learning about its fascinating place in Philippine history.

Declared by the Americans as a leper colony in 1904, the town was not free of its social stigma as "land of the living dead" until leprosy was officially declared iradicated in the 1980s. The current inhabitants of the island are descendants of the original patients literally horded from different parts of the Philippines and transplanted into what was then, another ordinary town. The first immigrants to the colony were followed by succeeding waves and soon a bustling community was formed. Those stricken by disease but could still function well physically carried on regular everyday activities like commerce, education, music and health services. The survivors intermarried and produced a new generation of offspring which, for some, were lucky enough not to have inherited the condition. Eventually a cure was discovered and the remaining patients who suffered the disease were spared of further physical deformities.

A good collection of memorabilia from the beginnings of the colony are displayed in the town museum. A definite must-visit if you find yourself on the island (Open Mondays through Saturdays with P150 Entrance Fee).

I can't imagine how it must have felt to grow up in a colony of "outcasts". It must
have been very difficult to be proud of your origins knowing your history. Actually going around the town and interacting with the locals, I have this feeling that people still feel ashamed of the past. You can tell they're not used to visitors(and by that I don't mean the extra mile Pinoys treat their guests, but the basic social etiquettes usually expected from Filipinos).This made me feel even more privileged to be with the community and share to them our music. How often do you get to minister to an audience so removed from everything else?

After a fun show and another unforgettable night of bonding, we headed back to the
comforts (more like discomforts) of the city but each taking with us a bit of the island. For some it was the simplicity of life. For others it was the fantastic scenery. What I took back home with me was the humility of the people and a reminder that I was made part of this ministry not because of my talent, but because of what my talent was capable of.

Of course for us to get out of the island and back to airport we had to take the same means of transportation.

roadblock no8: do over roadblock nos 1-3 again in reverse order

And so to rightfully end this 3-part Culion entry, I've put together another Globe Trekker video (a follow-up to my Vietnam version):

Culion Adventure Part 2

From the Coron pier, our first stop was Kayangan Lake on Coron Island (about 20 mins away by banca from the town of the same name). This short ride is probably the most scenic view of Coron from the water. Numerous rounded peaks resembling the irregular scales jutting from the back of some dragon greet your approach. On that note I'm surprised there's no local legend attached to the formation. If we were in some other Souteast Asian country there would have been tales of dragons descending into the sea. Hmmm come to think of it, the area looks like a mini Halong Bay on land.

As our banca got nearer to the island, dark blue water gave way to turquoise and coral formations became visible. Ok this is the part when you're supposed to pause and hold you breath because right in front of you is the perfect snapshot to slap the words PALAWAN all over it in. You know, the stuff postcards are made of.

After about 5 mins of navigating between limestone formations and clear pristine water, we finally dock on the shores of Coron Island.

roadblock no4: Climb a mountain trail to reach Kayangan Lake

Kayangan lake is a hidden fresh water lagoon owned by the Tagbanua indigenous people. Visitors pay a fee of P100 for entrance and must ascend/decend a mountain trail to reach the lake. Not exactly my dream activity but I haven't been to a lagoon before so I decided to brave the trail. Besides, we were in Palawan. I had to involve myself in something naturesque =p

Just before noon, our guide told us we should get going to the Twin Lagoons soon because the
only way to enter it easily would be during low tide. I didn't really understand what he meant by this until we got there.

roadblock no5: Swim under the rock crevice to reach the Twin Lagoons

I can't say anything about this stop because I didn't do it. I was just happy to sit on the boat, whip out my music player and watch Pau and Ivy feed the
fish. Those who swam in the lagoon said the water temperature was weird because it was hot in some parts and cold in others. None of those who entered the lagoon also wanted to stay long because once the high tide kicked in, the crevice entrance would have been below water and they'd have to dive deep to get out.

After making one last detour on a real beach (with white sandy shore and all), we started
the two hour trip to Culion Island.

roadblock no6 & 7: Deal with giant mosquitoes and use electricity
before 1130

Our hosts, the Jesuits, told us to pack mosquito repellant but what they failed to tell us
what just how big the mosquitoes were. How big you ask? Oh nothing really, just tripple the size of your regular lamok and you know what I mean (Gross!). Good thing they weren't immune to repellant or katol. I've heard horror stories of mosquitoes resistant to insecticide. Off Lotion and Baygon katol saved the day!

Another thing our hosts told us was that electrcity on the island was only between 12pm-1130pm. Bedtime preparations had to be completed before the lights went out unless we wanted to take a bath or crap using a flaslight. Sleeping early wasn't a problem for most of us though. We were all dead tired after the numerous unexpected physical activity we went through (but no me and a couple of others stayed up till 10 playing stupid card and word games. 10pm is way too late to still be awake on the island!)

end of part 2

thanks to Hangad for the photos! =)

December 3, 2007

Culion Adventure Part 1

When Hangad got the invitation to perform in Palawan, no one second guessed accepting the offer. We didn't really give much thought as to where exactly in the island group our show was going to be or how far it was from the capital. All we were excited about is visiting a destination most of us have only known through tourism campaigns (of course this was on top of getting excited over the chance to inspire more people and bond yet again with each other -- as if we weren't tight enough already =p). It didn't really hit us, well at least me, how exotic our destination was until I saw our aircraft.

roadblock no1: Fly to the Coron on a 19-seater LET410 UVP-E jet

I've been on these babies before for a Cebu-Caticlan flight. If you've tried booking Seair
for a Manila-Caticlan flight, imagine the same aircraft with 50% less seating capacity. Definitely not for those with fear of flying (Kudos to Paul for braving his first flight ever on a 19-seater jet!). I admit I wasn't too comfortable during the first half of the flight but once I got the hang of it, the flight was quite pleasant. It was incredible how we were flying just below the clouds (an altitude of 9500 ft - where clouds end and space continues).

Our destination was Culion, a town located on the island with the same name in the Calamian group of islands - the northernmost group of islands in the province of Palawan. The airport is located in the largest island in the cluster which is Busuanga, of which the center of development is the town of Coron.

roadblock no2: Find your way to the Seair office in Coron

From the airport, we were instructed to proceed to the Seair office in Coron where a guide
will take us to the town/island of Culion. Being the city hicks that we were, we assumed the airport would just be on the outskirts of Coron. No one told us it was going to be a 45-min ride through rough roads on a jeepney. Why the hell was the airport located so far away from town? My guess is that the airport used to be a private facility of some millionare who built a vacation home 10 mins away on the beach.

For a first time visitor, the long ride to Coron is a taste of how you will be enjoying fresh air and beautiful scenery during the whole length of your stay. Our itinerary stated that we were to go island hopping before docking on Culion after lunch. It was around 10 in the morning and we were all ready to hit the beach. Our guide picked us up from our rendezvous point and brought us to the wharf to board our banca (that's outrigger boat for the sosy ones =p)

roadblock no3: Jump on a banca without using a gangplank

If you've been to Boracay or anywhere which requires banca transport, we know that the easiest way to hop on a banca is by walking on a gangplank. No matter how thin the plank is, that piece of wood is your bridge between land and water. For some reason our banca DID NOT HAVE A GANGPLANK and the only way to get on board was to jump about half a meter from the sea wall to the boat OR take small steps on the steep incline of the sea wall and climb onto the boat. You can just imagine how prepared we were for this. When we got to the pier we immediately brought out our rappelling gear we just happened to take along. NOT!

The smaller banca beside us had a gangplank but why no one thought of borrowing it is
beyond me. Perhaps we were all secretly wanting to do this challenge. Something to brag about to cityfolk back in Manila maybe?

end of part 1

thanks to Hangad for the photos! =)