The Power of Writing

Last Sunday Night, I got the chance to watch Boy Abunda’s TV programme in ABS-CBN called “The Bottomline” via video streaming in Pinoy Channel.TV. It was my first time to watch this episode and actually am not aware of such program till that night. The Bottomline is interesting, trending if not fearless. Boy is his usual self, a good TV Host. It goes to prove that he is not only a veteran show business entertainment host but can also tackle various controversial topics.

The guest that night is investigative journalist cum author, Marites Vitug. When you see Marites, she doesn’t look intimidating or outspoken compared to other Journalists/broadcaster like Jessica Soho, Che Che Lazaro, Maria Ressa, etc. She seems dimunitive, timid and unassuming. I guess the saying “Don’t judge the book by it’s cover” fits her to a T since she is now one of the best selling authors in the country what with her latest book “Shadow of Doubt: Probing the Supreme Court” becoming a critical and commercial success so to speak.

I have not read the controversial book yet so I can’t say much about it at this stage. However, what I like to point out in this blog post is the sheer power of writing.

History has proven that a writing can change the course of the future be it an individual, or even a nation. Dr. Jose Rizal, the Philippines’ National Hero used his various literary works to open the minds of the Filipinos and to fight for their rights during the Spanish era. These writings became the inspiration of the Katipuneros which eventually led to a full-blown revolution.

Anne Frank, the young girl originally from Frankfurt became a worldwide figure because of the publication of her diary (which was translated into many languages) detailing their life in hiding during World War II. Time Magazine eventually named her in 1999 as one of “The Most important People of the Century”.

And who would’ve think that J.K. Rowling who was literally an unknown figure before the year 1997 will gain international prominence and become a billionaire just by writing and publishing series of books about a young wizard named Harry Potter?

Nora Daza who has written and modified/ invented many Philippine recipes is considered an icon of Philippine cuisine and one of the respected cook book author.

I remembered working in a hotel group earlier- – part of their PR activity is inviting 2 or 3 well known blogger, house and dine them in the hotels for free and as an exchange, these bloggers have to write blog posts or articles about their travel experience and stay in the hotel. This goes to show how powerful their writings are in convincing would-be guests of these hotels.

Last year during the onslaught of Typhoon Ondoy, there was one shoutout in Facebook made by a Filipina based in Dubai. The exact words were  “Buti na lang am here in Dubai! Maybe so many sinners back there! So yeah deserving what happened!”. This remark is very strong and really got through the nerves of many Facebook users the fact that the calamity brought vast devastation in many parts of Luzon and it was very unexpected and the country has yet to recover from the tragedy when the remark was made. The post spread in the net like wildfire and the succeeding comments and invectives hurled at her are really so bad that you can’t take it as person though I can’t blame them for doing so because her remark is truly inconsiderate and uncalled for.

Truly, writing is a very powerful tool and good way to communicate.  Writing is a common task as we do it almost everyday. Yet no matter how common it is, there is always something new to write.

The people I mentioned above has definitely caught our attention if not touched our lives in some ways and many of them has made writing their source of income.  Some people who earn a living out of writing don’t mind destroying one’s reputation if they feel it’s worth millions of bucks without considering if the person they are writing about will be terribly affected.

At the end, can they call themselves prolific writers? I guess the key to effective writing is to do it wisely, morally and objectively and try to communicate with your target audience.

I believe by right, I am a writer too (though I literally type it in my computer and post online) which I share through my blogs. With my posts, I am giving my views and opinions on certain topics or issues as well as just conveying my random thoughts and wisdom about life in general.

I am a sentimental person. I would keep letters, cards and notes from family, friends and loved ones. Maybe because I don’t receive too many so I still have the mood and time to keep it.

On the second thought, I just love reading them over and over again. I feel good after reading the personal message they’ve specially written for me.

One of the simplest yet most powerful and touching letter I received in my lifetime comes from my niece during my recent trip back home. She handed me the letter with drawing she personally did upon learning my short vacation. I am sharing to all of you.

Keep on inspiring through your writings… so others will enjoy reading…

Can’t get enough of Chiang Mai….

I just came back from a very memorable trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand. Last week there was a long holiday due to the Makha Bucha Day which is an important day for Buddhist. It falls on a Sunday so the holiday was extended till Monday. Because of that, I took the opportunity to make quick arrangement for a trip to Chiang Mai. Few days earlier, I was still undecided because of some problems in my Visa which I would know the result Feb 25. I had a strong feeling that it will be fixed so even before Feb 25, I just took the risk and buy the train tickets to Chiang Mai. Anyway, if my Visa problem was not resolved in time and I cannot travel to Chiang Mai, the ticket cost is not that expensive if compared to air tickets so I just crossed my fingers. Fortunately and Thank God, I received a good news last Feb 25 so off I go to Chiang Mai. I quickly booked my hotel and made a tour arrangement. 

My train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai leaves about 1800H (Friday) so I had to work the whole day of Friday and clear a lot of jobs in preparation for the trip and I just took early leave 1 Hour so I can be at the train station on time. The Hua Lamphong Train station is actually very convenient cos I just have to take the MRT and the last station is actually the Hua Lamphong station already so from MRT, I just have to walk a few meters to reach the provincial trains.

It was my first long-haul train ride so I was very excited. In my life, I only ride the City trains which is not the train that Harry Potter and Gang usually take going to Hogwarts. So off I go… There were several platforms and my train platform is not too difficult to find. Only thing is that I booked the 2nd Class Air conditioned sleeper train and it is at the farthest end of the train (few coaches away from the driver). Normally, the better train classes are in front (near the driver) so you have to walk a bit farther than the rest. Luckily I only have light luggage so it is not a problem.

The train promptly left the station 1800H. However, along the way sometimes it stops in other train station longer than the supposed time. For the sleeper train you can choose either the upper or the lower deck. The lower deck is a bit more expensive and has wider bed if compared to the upper deck. Moreover, only the lower deck has a window so if you plan to travel by train, you need to purchase tickets in advance so you can select the lower deck. Since my trip was on a long holiday and I booked only few days before the trip, I can only have the upper deck (air con) going to Chiang Mai and upper deck (Fan) going back to Bangkok. The Fan coach is ok since the breeze is cool along the way and since travel is towards night time but when you are about to sleep and the bed were set up with individual curtains, it can get a bit hot especially during the summer nights. In addition, if you are not used to sleeping in a bumpy road, better not take the train as it is bumpier than taking the bus. It is like taking the flight that encounters a turbulence all throughout.

The porter prepares the bed as soon as the sun is out and dinner was consumed (for those who bought dinner in the train). After that, it’s a very long travel so better prepare all the things that would keep you occupied like your iPod or music player, a good book to read or board games.

We arrived in Chiang Mai in the morning. After the breakfast, I headed to my hotel. The hotel I stayed (Imm Hotel Thaphae) has a very good location, just across Thaphae Gate- the centre of the old walled city.

The vicinity of the Thaphae Gate is where most of the major activities like Songkran Festival (Thai New Year), Loy Krathong or other local events are usually held. Every weekend, a part of the area is converted into an instant Weekend Night market wherein they closed approx. 2 km. of road where all the streets are lined with goods, foods and almost all the whatnot you can think about. You will never get tired and hungry as the road is teeming with food stalls and foot massage chairs.

I also went to Doi Suthep, the most popular temple site in Chiang Mai, located 3,500 feet above sea level. There is a viewing deck in the Temple overlooking the city below. Really nice view.



The next day, I went into a Thai Cooking school called Baan Hong Nual. Since I am fascinated with Thai cooking and now that I have my own food blog, I made sure I enroll in a short Thai cooking class during the trip. They pick you up at your hotel, send you to a local market to buy some ingredients and give some introduction to some basic information about Thai cookery then you proceed to the school afterwards. Prior to deciding what to buy, the teacher will give you a selection of recipes you can cook. Once you selected, the ingredients had to be bought. On that day I was the only student (that day being a Sunday and a Buddhist Public Holiday). The previous day my teacher said they have over 20 students in the class so it was actually my advantage since my class is a one-on-one session or like a VIP class (which is definitely more expensive than normal joined class). For my course, I cooked 4 recipes namely: Pad Thai, Tom Yum Goong, Thai Green Curry and Som Tam. After cooking, I get to eat what I prepared. Tastes like real Thai cooking..Yumm…(Btw, I will not be posting my cooking in this blog..If you want to see the picture of the foods I prepared, visit: http://kikokitchen.wordpress.com)


After my cooking class, I transferred to another hotel, The Small Chiang Mai., It is a design hotel (Boutique Style) with stylish interiors in the room. The room assigned to me has 2 angels painted on the wall. The location of this hotel is also convenient (less than 10 minutes walk to the Night Bazaar and about 10 minutes walk to Thaphae Gate and Weekend Market). Around dinner time, I had the Traditional Chiang Mai Dinner called Kantoke Dinner. Kantoke Palace is the largest restaurant offering this kind of dinner in Chiang Mai. The restaurant has over 80% foreigners on that night enjoying the food and the cultural dance presentation on stage. At the end of the performance, they invite some guests to join the dancers to perform the traditional dance. I was one of the chosen few…hahaha.

The next morning, I went to the Maesa Elephant Camp. Again, it was a private tour with only me plus the driver and the tour guide so it is a better experience. The tour would let you see Elephant closely during feeding time and shower time. Seeing these big animals taking a bath in the pond is a very cute scene. They seem to enjoy being watched while taking a bath..LOL.  After the shower, we were entertained by the Elephant show wherein the elephants parade first followed by various acts like soccer playing, elephants playing the harmonica, hoola elephant, one elephant bursts balloons using darts in competition with someone from the audience, a log show wherein a group of elephants work to stack together heavy logs…I was told that the Elephants in Thailand during the olden days up to now are a big help to the farmers or locals since they help in agriculture and even helping to carry logs from the forest sent downhill. However, the highlight of the show is the Elephant painting. About 5 elephants showcase their art skills by painting using their trunk. One elephant created a colorful abstract design, 2 elephants draw bouquet of flowers, another one draw a landscape of mountains and a forest and the last one draw a portrait of an elephant face. They say the Elephants in Maesa Camp are the most talented in painting. There was even a museum displaying the very large painting made by several elephants and said to be the most expensive painting created by Elephants that was sold in public as awarded by the Guiness Book of Records. Not sure though how much it cost since it was not indicated in the museum. Moreover, no cameras were allowed inside the museum so I am unable to share to you the masterpieces. After that,we went to the nursery to see the youngest elephant in the camp (only 26 days old but weighs over 100 kg).  You cannot go close to the Baby elephant because the protective mom can get wild. I then took a picture with a cute but very large adult elephant who gamely posed cross legged while I sit on it’s legs then the trunk was wrapped around my body.

A short drive from the Elephant camp would take you to the Hill Tribe Village. The highlight of this tour is the visit to the Long necked women of the Padong tribe. This is very popular and I only get to see in National Geographic Channel before and now am able to see in flesh with close up picture even..such a great experience. Wearing brass ring around the neck are their long tradition and considered beautification process for the women. My guide said a set of brass ring can be as heavy as 5 kilo. I even see little girls wearing the ring around their necks.The village is actually home to other tribes like Karen, Lahu, Hmong, etc. Their livelihood is mostly weaving or agriculture. In the village you can find a Catholic Church. I was surprised that the Long Neck tribe are Catholic and can speak Thai (they are not native Thais but are minority group from Myanmar).

After the Hill tribe visit, we went to an Orchid Farm where varieties of Thai Orchids can be found. These exotic flowers are such good tropical ornaments to one’s garden and the flowers can last longer than other flowers and is not too difficult to maintain. The farm also make gold plated jewelry from Orchid bloom which is something unique. After the Orchid Farm visit, we enjoyed a sumptuous lunch of Khao Soi a traditional Chiang Mai noodle with curry. It is very delicious and not spicy at all.

We then went straight to the Train station for my trip back to Bangkok which unfortunately was delayed for 1.5 hours. Anyway, even with the delay and a bit uncomfortable sleep due to the fan-cooled coach, I am grateful cos I arrived in Bangkok safe and sound.

I really enjoy travelling cos it gives me a different perspective of things and I get to experience the culture, tradition and food of that place. Moreover, I believe travelling gives you a different kind of maturity and independence especially if you travel alone or free and easy and not following a very strict itinerary. I am now looking forward to my next travel!

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

This morning me and 2 of my friends watched Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince in Siam Paragon IMAX Theatre. This was actually a special screening conducted by some Thai-Japanese companies to help some disabled people. Proceeds of the ticket sales will be donated to charity so actually it served 2 purpose for us moviegoers..that is to be entertained and to help those in need.

The IMAX Theatre of Siam Paragon is very impressive with very wide and high screen not to mention it is very spacious. Since I had anticipated the movie version of this Harry Potter book for the longest time, watching it in an IMAX Theatre made my excitement double.

The only discomfort is actually wearing face mask the whole time while in the movie house. At the entrace of the cinema they distributed face masks together with 3D glasses for the protection of the moviegoing public which is appreciated since they also keep the health safety of their moviegoers.

The movie started with Harry in the muggle world but was fetched by Professor Dumbledore before the Hogwarts Headmaster went to persuade Professor Slughorn to be the potions teacher in Hogwarts and eventually become Harry’s Teacher. It turned out Professor Slughorn is a key character that could unravel some secrets to the past life of Tom Riddle a.k.a. Lord Voldemort during his brief stint as a student of Hogwarts.

This installment of the Harry Potter series has many long conversations and less of the excellent visual effects we expect from a Harry Potter movie. However, it is not boring because it also has some touch of budding romance between Hermione and Ron (who at first seems infatuated with another Hogwarts student-Lavander Brown) and Ginny Weasley-Harry Potter. Moreover, I was really looking forward to the scene when Harry and Professor Dumbledore had to go to a cave to destroy a hidden horcrux created by Voldemort since in the book, JK Rowling successfully described the place to be very dark, eerie and full of evil enchantments and mysteries. One scene showed the many Gollum-like creatures (from Lord of the Rings)  are trying to pull Harry at the bottom of the lake. Fortunately, Professor Dumbledore rescued Harry with a spell that made his wand spew huge flames to destroy the creatures. He was like Moses when part of the water of the lake was parted into half, only it was parted with Fire.

The scene where Dumbledore was killed by Professor Snape with an Avada Kedavra spell and he dropped to the ground from the tower at Hogwarts is not as dramatic as I had expected although I noticed many people are really glued to the screen and never said a thing nor moved so maybe many of them were surprised of this development especially if they have not read the book before.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince movie is a few notch less exciting than the book version which is quite acceptable considering they have to squeeze a lengthy book into a 2.5 hour movie. Moreover, the book is a very good prequel to the finale of this uber popular series. Maybe another thing that made it less thrilling is it has more teen romance than the expected wizardry magic.

Ultimately, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is worthy of your time and money and its worth the wait for 2 years to see anothe Harry Potter movie.  So if you have not seen the movie, better troop to the nearest cinema soon. Just make sure you bring your own face mask just for your protection.