The fury of Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana)

I am sure by now many of us already know what happened to Metro Manila and nearby areas on the fateful day of 26 September 2009. Typhoon Ondoy (International Name: Ketsana) claimed the lives of over 200 people (and counting) because of torrential rains said to have produced a month’s worth of rainfall in just 6 hours. Typhoons and tropical depressions are common in the Philippine islands because of its geographical location which is within the typhoon and earthquake belt so a typical Typhoon like Ondoy should not cause too much of a panic compared to previous Super Typhoons and since Manila was declared to have only public storm signal no. 1 (the lowest typhoon warning).

The rain poured heavily and non-stop most of the day last Saturday. By noon, many areas are already flooded. Few hours more, the waters are getting higher and many areas which have not experienced flooding ever saw nature’s fury on that day. Metro Manila and Rizal province was literally a water world so to speak.

My family has been living in Marikina for almost 3 decades now. The city became popular in several occasions: 1.) It always hugs the news whenever heavy rains or strong storm pass by the country due to the fact that the city is actually located in a Valley being surrounded by higher areas like Quezon City, Antipolo, Cainta, San Mateo 2.) There was a fear amongst all residents when many years ago experts says Marikina is sitting in a major earthquake fault line so there is a big chance a major earthquake will struck anytime in this area and so many property owners try to sell their house or lot out of these fear. 3.) There were several cases of rape+homicide of pretty ladies which made Marikina look like a dangerous place to live in. Seems Marikina has full of bad publicity because of natural or human threat.

On the contrary, these news were wiped out because…3.) Marikina has been a role-model amongst cities in the Metro and the whole Philippines by winning many awards for the clean & green, river restoration, zoning projects and efficient crime prevention by the local government. Marikina become an ideal place to live. The city is almost always in competition with Puerto Princesa City, Palawan which also boasts of natural beauty and efficiency in local governance. Marikina was even dubbed the “Singapore of Philippines” because of its cleanliness and orderliness which has been a source of pride to all of us Marikenos.

And once again, Marikina my beloved city hit the news big time. It is really sad if not heart-breaking to see the news and videos of the extensive destruction to life and property that Typhoon Ondoy brought us. Marikina River suddenly looked like a sea because it swell so big. Provident Village a semi-exclusive village located near the banks of the river I believe has the most casualties in terms of lives and properties.

Our Home in Marikina which was lovingly and painstakingly built and maintained by my parents  since 1982 is now a disaster. Sure, the structure is still there but all the appliances, furniture, clothes and important documents are all wet and covered with mud and unfortunately cannot be of any use at this point. Our village has not experienced heavy flooding for many years now due to the improvement in drainage system and prompt garbage collection. As far as I know, the heaviest flooding we encountered has only reached the front of our gates (which is equivalent to waist deep water already) and never hit our garage, much more inside our house. But on Saturday, the water just flowed relentlessly into our humble abode and in the process tumbling big appliances and furniture. Our car was stucked in the road as well and submerged in flood water because according to my Mom, they just went to the wet market to buy the usual weekly food stock and are unable to go back home because the flood rose very fast and there was heavy traffic on the way back home. To put it in detail, they got wet more than they’ve expected.

Above all of these things that happened, I thank God so much because the destruction is only on our property, not lives of any member of my family or relatives. Surely, it will be very tough for us cos we have to start building our lives all over again but we can rebuild it as a family. What will be more difficult and unbearable is the thought of losing someone that way and totally unprepared. I was so anxious Saturday and Sunday after I learned about the disaster since I cannot contact anyone from my family or relatives through mobile phone or landline and at that point, I am clueless as to my family’s situation. I am just so glad to have finally contacted them yesterday and talked to them lengthy on phone.

I was watching various YouTube videos as well as news clip from GMA News and ABS-CBN and I really can’t help but feel very sorrowful on different experiences of people who had been to that tough situation.

One woman was crying her heart out because she lost several relatives including children. One of her family members tried helping others but at the end lost his own life. The lady said yes it is good to know the person did not die in vain and even became a hero because of saving other lives but it will be very difficult for them to accept the sudden death. Moreover, when they tried asking for help, no one can help them because of the extreme weather condition. This cost the death of 2 children who could have become an inspiring president or an excellent doctor in the future but have gone too soon.

Another man who is a company messenger cannot help but cry because he saw the Desktop computer he gave his child as a gift being destroyed by the flood. He said it took him very long time to purchase the computer even have to loan the money to buy but now the equipment is just a piece of garbage. One good thing I saw in him is his positive outlook that despite all their properties are lost and he admit nothing he can do anymore because it happened so soon, he still has faith in God and he believe it will all come to pass.

(To Apollo, you can see the video of the Man and the child whose computer was broken in this link sorry, dunno how to upload video not coming from YouTube in my blog. Hope you will find a way to donate a computer to them as you have intended. God bless you) : http://www.gmanews.tv/video/48395/after-floods-residents-now-deal-with-muds-in-metro-manila-nearby-provinces

Indeed at this time, all we can do is Help and Pray. Help all victims anyway we can through donations or whatever support we can extend. More importantly we need to pray. Pray for God’s mercy… Pray that it will not happen again… Pray that the human casualties will no longer increase… Pray for the salvation of the lives that were lost..Pray for healing of memories of all people who had gone through this bad experience.

I was told by my Mom that my young niece and nephew seemed traumatized by the incident. When they saw the flood going inside their home last Saturday, they cried and embraced their Dad (my brother) tightly for comfort. Then the next day when it started to rain again, they told my brother that they are scared cos it’s raining again…I really hope they will forget this harrowing experience very fast.

God bless my family and loved ones.. God Bless the Philippines.

Charming Cha-Am

Last weekend, I went to Cha Am Beach, Thailand with few of my colleagues and some of their family members. This trip was actually planned over 5 months ago but due to our very busy work schedule and since I also asked to delay the trip as I intend to bring along someone but it never happened so we finally planned 3rd week of September. Fortunately the weekend we went to the beach, the sun is very bright which actually lately we have been missing  the sun especially with torrential rains and thunderstorms especially in the afternoon.

We went first to Don Wai Market, a popular riverside market in the suburban town of Nakhon Pathom. Hundreds of tasty desserts and foods can be bought in this market gaining huge popularity to Bangkokians due to its proximity to the capital. We went there very early in the morning. Fortunately, the weather is not too warm and the crowd is not as much. They say in the afternoon or Sundays, the corridors of the market is so full you can barely walk. Many stalls sell the very sumptuous boiled duck. Really, while writing this piece, I am salivating just imagining back the palatable ducks we saw in the shops!
After buying some foods, we headed to a Sukiyaki Restaurant in Ban Pong near Nakhon Pathom. The Eat-all-you-can Sukiyaki (similar to what you see in MK Restaurants) costs only 99 Baht per person including refillable drinks. Of course there is not as many selection as that of MK Restaurant but for 99 Baht, how can you complain. You need to finish within the allotted time of 90 minutes otherwise, all the foods left will be charged at 20 Baht per 100 grams. It is actually an ample time to finish the lunch. My group consumed all the food in our table including dessert for only 1 hour sharp!
Then we headed off to Cha-Am Beach.
We stayed at the Grand Pacific Sovereign Resort and Spa, a 5 Star Resort offering a stunning view of the sea and has 3 level swimming pool. With the promotional rate they are offering right now, it is indeed value for money. The Coffee shop has a wide range of Breakfast item including crispy bacon (my favorite!) and a big salad bar.

Grand Pacific Sovereign

Grand Pacific Sovereign

Grand Pacific Sovereign

The Hotel room is spacious with full amenities like own private balcony, a day bed, separate shower area and bath tub.

Grand Pacific Sovereign

Grand Pacific Sovereign

We had our dinner in the Hotel’s Italian Restaurant– Celestino and the food is visually appealing as well as appetizing. A perfect match over a glass or two of their Italian Red wine.

Grand Pacific Sovereign

Grand Pacific Sovereign
Grand Pacific Sovereign

After dinner, we headed to the famous Hua Hin Market which is less than 20 minutes away by car. Wide range of Thai desserts and various delicacies are available and not to mention seafood restaurants. Since we are still full right after dinner, I only bought a cup of ice cream worth 25 Baht for 3 scoops with many toppings to choose from. This ice cream kiosk is really so popular that you have to go through a long queue before reaching the counter.

Equally mouth-watering are the dried barbecued squid with spicy dipping, boiled sweet corn, roasted duck or chicken. Also popular is the rotee bread with either banana, egg or banana and egg filling. The best part is the foods being sold are very cheap!

Hua Hin Market

Hua Hin Market

After we checked out of the hotel, we had our lunch in “Dang Seafood Restaurant” located in Samut Songkran on the way back to Bangkok. This restaurant started with just few tables in its dining area and has expanded many times since then.

You can view the kitchen from the dining area which is quite big. My colleague said one cook will only prepare 1 or 2 kinds of dishes so they can prepare it very fast. True enough, less than 10 minutes after we ordered, all the foods were served in our tables. The best dish for me is the deep fried fish which is very crispy and tasty and the steamed prawns.

My spice level is not same as Thai but the dipping sauce full of chilli is really very nice and not to mention sweat-provoking. LOL. I was joking them my tissue consumption is more than the shells or fish bones in my plate as I had to wipe my sweat a lot after eating the spicy food.
This was my 2nd time in Hua Hin/Cha-Am. Last year was with some of my Filipino friends. I would love to go back to this place soon which is much more quiet and family-friendly than Pattaya.

A Whole New World with Lea Salonga

Lea Salonga

Tonight is a proud moment for many Filipinos living or working in Thailand cos this night, the Philippines’ most successful and highly acclaimed International Singing Star, Lea Salonga performed in a spectacular 2 hour concert at the Queen Sirikit Convention Centre, Bangkok to the awe of the spectators myself included.

As a Filipino, I am so proud listening to the powerful voice of Lea and more importantly, witnessing how the audience appreciate her performance with very warm applause and loud cheers. It was a defining moment for me because it is not often that I witness a Filipino wow a large crowd in a foreign soil!

The concert started with Gerard Salonga, Lea’s brother and the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra played several songs from Broadway Musicals. Lea entered the stage singing Something’s coming from the West Side Story. After singing her first song, she informed everyone that prior to the concert, she got a severe respiratory tract infection that made her stay in the hospital overnight the night before the concert and she sought everyone’s consideration if her singing voice is not as good due to the ailment which they had to cut some songs from the  original programme.

It was followed by other popular songs like Colors of the wind from Pocahontas, On my own from Les Miserables, Part of your world from The Little Mermaid and I’d give my life for you from Miss Saigon. If she did not tell the crowd that she was sick, we will never know it because she is such a world-class performer with a very powerful voice. I can feel that the crowd patiently wait for her song to finish so they can express their admiration through wild applause.

After the intermission comes the 2nd half of the concert. She sang more popular hits like Go the Distance from Hercules, Someone’s waiting for you from The Rescuers, I dreamed a dream from Les Miserables. Then when it is time to sing Reflection from the Disney Movie Mulan, she had to call her friend, Thai Singer named Pat Suthasinee Buddhinan which sang quite well despite being sick as well. Then comes the song “A Whole New World” from Aladdin which Lea said she is again looking for someone to sing the song with her. The audience taught at first she is joking but actually she is not…Finally, 4 guys come up on stage to sing with her, one of which is Jose (which me and my friends personally know as Master J).

Then she continued with songs from Oliver and the last song was Everybody says don’t from Anyone can whistle..The audience gave a thunderous applause and standing ovation then Lea and Gerard walk out of the stage but people asked more so they go back and Lea sang in a very sexy and sultry style, “I’ve got a crush on you”.

Except for some glitches in seating arrangements though it was pre-numbered upon booking as well as the eerie sound from the aluminum flooring when some people in the audience walked to go to the toilet in between songs, overall Lea’s Bangkok concert was a huge success. She hinted that hopefully when she goes back to Bangkok (for another concert), her voice will be a lot better and would probably make Gerard sing a song.

I have never watched Lea Salonga perform on stage prior to tonight’s concert. I felt  fortunate to finally witness her talent in person which has long been the toast of foreign musicales and animated films.

Kudos to Lea and the Filipinos!

Back to Basics

 

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Earlier before I go online, I was trying to tie the shoe laces in my sneakers since I removed it when I cleaned it few weeks ago. I tried doing it the Converse style, meaning parallel style and not criss crossing. Apparently, what should be an easy task which I had been doing since I was a kid became very complicated it actually made me sweat so I had to turn on my air con. A task that should be finished in less than 5 minutes took me more than 15 minutes and I was only able to finish when my friends come to my place. Actually, it was my teen friend who finished the job for me.

This incident actually strucked me. How can an adult like me is not able to do a very simple task which most children could definitely do effortlessly. Is it a sign of aging or stupidity? Am I being an Adult baby? I hope not.

Indeed in this age of modern technology wherein complexity is already a thing of the past since we are able to do most of our tasks as easy as counting 1-2-3 with all those gadgets, tools and even modern processes in business introduced by intelligent gurus.

But even so, it still boils down to one principle– that is being back to the basics no matter how advanced we may be.

I heard of a good story about going back to the basics though I am not sure if this is a true story…This is how the story goes:

The Americans were successful in being able to land in the moon first. However, with this great accomplishment, there is one thing they cannot do in space– that is writing in a space shuttle using a ballpoint pen.

No matter how hard they try the ink won’t simply give them the opportunity to write a single letter. Many years of research and huge amount of money were spent but everything seems futile.

Finally, the Russians did a space exploration and where Americans fail, they succeeded. They were able to write a full note in outer space…

The Americans wondered how come the Russians can do it. They are America, supposedly the greatest and most advanced nation. Later on they found out why the Russians were able to write in outer space…

The Russians used an ordinary wooden pencil..

How far can you go?

Fast Lane

 

You are inside your car in a 6-lane avenue..The light is not green  but there are only few cars in sight. You have a choice, you can step on the accelerator and go full speed ahead or you can wait for the green light before you move..the next question is, if you decided to move, how far can you go?

If we are at the crossroads of our lives, should we turn to the left or right? Go straight or make a U-Turn?

Many people fail because they just go full speed without looking ahead only to realize they are heading into a very steep crevasse. On the other hand, there are some who have not reached the direction they should be, out of fear of being lost.

Life is like driving. In driving, there are bumps, rough or slippery roads and there are also times it is a breeze. Life is full of events and surprises, problems and excitement. In driving, we may not be able to see what’s in front of us unless we turn on a bright head light..Life will definitely be better if we have a bright disposition as well as a clear mind and a happy heart.

Driving is prone to accidents and mishaps and so is life. There are many risks we have to take almost everyday. Yet, despite all these risks– it is still good to enjoy living in this world.

When we are ready to step on the “Gas of Life”, are we taking an extra mile? Are we going farther than what our eyes can see? farther than what our ears can hear? farther than what our body can feel?

It’s ok to take the race of our life as long as in the end, we reach the Finish line.

Imagine a world without music…

no music
 
Last night, I was thinking of a new topic for my blog since I have not updated my blog for the longest time..been really pre-occupied lately. Since I was talking to my friend Boni, he suggested a topic about a world without credit card.Hmm, sounds interesting. With modernity looming and internet booming than ever, using credit card is almost inevitable.
 
However, as I opened my blog site, I had a sudden change of mind (which I had been doing a lot often recently)…I now am writing about what the world would be without music…A world without music? Hmmm…
 
A world without music means taking your daily shower before going to work or school or getting off to bed like a silent lamb. It means we cannot express our patriotism every Monday Mornings through our National Hymn. It means our Sunday Mass would just consist of the reading of the Scriptures, a Sermon, Homily and Communion without the Angel-like voices of the choir.
It means blowing a birthday cake would begin with just a simple greeting of “Happy Birthday”. It means Graduation Ceremony is less memorable because a heart-felt graduation song is missing. It means the bride walking down the aisle in her wedding day is like a thief silently walking in the night..
 
It means our Christmas nights would be less enjoyable without kids singing carols in our front gates and asking for some Aguinaldos..The word “harana” may not have been created as well.
Babies may have a hard time sleeping without the soft lullabies of their moms whispered in their ears…
 
Michael Jackson could have died an ordinary man…
 
…the list goes on and on. I really can’t imagine a world without music.
 
As they say, music has no language. No matter which country you come from, you would know a good music when you hear one. You don’t have to know the meaning of the lyrics to enjoy the song in full. Music speaks to one’s heart.
 
Thank God for the music..Thank God that I can still sing whether its a good or bad situation.
 
I am sharing a short poem I read in this website:
 
A world with out music is like a girl with no doll
A sky with no sun
A boy with no ball
A world with out music has no meaning at all
No meaning to laugh
No meaning to care
No meaning to love
and no meaning to share
no one would speak
no one would give
no one would play
no one would live
so thank God for music
thank him a lot
because without his music
our story would have no plot

-Brooke Field

Keep on singing my friends!

Pattaya, oh yeah!

Pattaya sunset

Over the weekend  I had my Pattaya trip which was actually my 4th time (3rd time this year- February, May then August) since I went to Thailand to work.  Pattaya would always be memorable to me since this city was the first one I was able to visit outside of Bangkok. And surely, I will come back again very soon.

For one, Pattaya offers not only the convenience of City Living but also the tropical atmosphere, the beach just literally being in front of you. This city is also very lively at night especially in the Walking Street which is so full of entertainment (whatever your definition of entertainment is). There are many bars, restaurants, bistros, souvenir shops, name it- Pattaya got it!

For this trip I stayed in several hotels and inspected some more. However, there are several hotels that are most outstanding if compared to the rest.

Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya is one of the very few Hard Rock Hotels in the world.  You should not miss the themed rooms featuring popular entertainment icons like Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Madonna and many more. Various memorabilias and mementos are also found displayed in many corners of the hotel from the Lobby, Bar, and of course, Hard Rock Cafe.  The staff are very lively and attentive. I was told that when you are interviewed for a Job in this hotel, you will be asked to dance so they can see how active you can be.

The Beatles
Hard Rock Pattaya

Paul Mc Cartney

Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya

Amari Orchid Resort and Tower is an impressive hotel offering stunning view of the Sea if you are staying in a room at their Ocean Wing. The concept is very unique in some rooms, the bath tub literally in the bedroom (not inside the bathroom). This design is suitable for Honeymooners or couples since you can have a refreshing bath while enjoying the breath taking scenery. The pool area is very big and landscape is nice and very modern.

Amari Orchid Resort and Tower
Amari Orchid Resort and Tower
Swimming Pool at Amari Orchid Resort and Tower
I am sharing some more snapshots on the trip which overall is tiring due to very tight schedule of appointments but well spent with some time for relaxation, bar hopping and dancing and of course meeting fellow Filipinos.

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