:: Sunday, March 31, 2002 ::

Just got back yesterday from a gruelling trip up north and I've learned a few things about myself along the way,...

... that I'm really a patient person. With the traffic jams and all, it was wonder that I was able to keep my top from blowing off !

... that I can't drive straight for 350km. Well, I thought I can since I did it once from Boston to Niagara Falls(... and this was a longer drive!). But here it's different. You'd stressed yourself out dodging wayward jeepneys and buses !

... that it's only my mind who said that I can go all the way to Pagudgud. A classic case of the spirit is willing but the body is weak scenario. After reaching La Union, I totally nixed the idea of going further up. I was so exhausted and used up that I didn't wake up until late in the evening. By the way, did I mention that I was on the road from 11pm(Wednesday) to 11am(Thursday)?

After all that's said and done, my Holy Week was quite good and was well-spent with my love ones.

:: rene 3/31/2002 06:53:00 PM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, March 26, 2002 ::

I'll be driving up north to la union this evening. Yeah, I know - sounds like a bad idea to be driving together with all the people wanting to rush to their northern destinations(baguio, pagudpud, etc.) as well. Let just say this is my way of doing the Holy Week sacrifice.

And so I must go. Have yet to pack my bags. Wish me luck!

:: rene 3/26/2002 05:45:00 PM [+] ::
:: Thursday, March 21, 2002 ::

Sometimes in our hasty world, we need to slow down, unwind, relax and just be one with nature. That's what I exactly did last weekend with nineteen of my colleagues from work ! JR, our group leader, had been telling us about this not-so-high mountain in San Miguel called Mt. Manalmon. Initially, I was hesitant to go since he has this reputation of downplaying everything ! The first time I climbed with him in Laguna, his "30 minutes more" became 2 hours !!! And his beginner's climb turned in a major climb which led me to climb BAREFOOT(!!!) because my "for-beginner's-climb-only-sandals" succumbed to the treacherous and muddy trails.

Anyways, he had been selling Mt. Manalmon to us with really beautiful pictures of the river which is supposed to be around the place also. When I saw them, I right away bought his stories and with the thought, "To hell with his 30-minutes-more promises".

Ever since I came back from the States, I had been rarin' to go someplace where I can shoot(pictures, I mean). I thought, "This is it !". So come Saturday morning, we were all packed up and ready to go. But I was still drowsy because I attended an overnight get-together party in Pansol, Laguna and I just went back to my apartment to get my things for the climb.

Things didn't go as planned when we met up at the Baliwag Transit Terminal in Cubao. The driver of the jeepney that was supposed to take us directly to San, Miguel Bulacan had a miscommunication(darn cellphones!) with our group leader. He waited for us alright... at the Baliwag Transit Terminal... but in Baliuag, Bulacan !!! So we took the bus and got as much Zzzz's as I can. Finally, we reached Baliaug and our transpo was there to take us to San Miguel. Then we realized that it was a blessing in disguise that we didn't take the jeep from Cubao. Imagine fitting 20 persons/20 mountain climbing backpacks in one jeepney. What do you get? Numb feet !!! I couldn't feel my legs when we reached the starting point of our climb!

After a few minutes briefing from our MADLUM(the org that was taking care of the mountains there) guides, we proceeded to climb. It was nothing difficult really. What was exhausting was the HEAT ! Being summertime, it must have been about 36C or more as we were trekking at 3pm !! It took us only an hour to reach the summit.

Immediately, my tent-mates set up our tents for the night. Another group already set up camp when we got there. Some guys and gals from U.P., I think. I begged off from tent-duties first because I had a sunset to catch. It was exhiralating to be at the summit. You get a 360 view of everything around Bulacan. You could even clearly see Mt. Arayat of Pampanga. So I fiddled my aperture and shutter settings and shot away. After two rolls of film, I called it a day.

Dinner consisted of all the canned goods you normally keep in your cabinet for emergency purposes only. But they're a staple when your mountain climbing and much more, they all taste like gourmet food! Hahaha! After the traditional "tagay-tagay" and everything, everybody went off to sleep... but not so soundly. Sometime around 1am, I was awakened by a grumbling sound. My stomach! And you know what that means. I was frantically groping for a flashlight but couldn't find any. I didn't want to attract attention at first but when the "grumbling" wouldn't stop, I had no recourse but ask for a flashlight from another tent. Which I did. So I did my "thing" and it was a relief. Somehow my stomach was so bummed that I did it two more times that night.

When morning came, I thought I was gonna be the "butt" of jokes(no pun intended). It turned out that most of us also suffered the same fate. We each had our own "survival" stories. Hahahaha! And we each had our own "special place". Hahaha! It was really funny. It turned out that our cooks used water that they got locally. Seemed that boiling the water didn't kill all the bacteria mixed with it. What a way to catch a bum stomach!

Luckily, later in the day most of us felt better. But it was still scary. One "grumble" is all we needed to send us careening to the next available toilet or if not, the next available "special place".

Sunday afternoon, we got back to Manila but not without leaving some "mementos" in Bulacan. It was a good experience though. Never trust local water. Always carry PuriTabs or something. Bring enough mineral water to last the whole trip. And lastly, remember that there's never a perfect climb.

Oh! did I mention that my Nokia 8310 together swam with me in the river? I did. But it's okay now and working fine as before. So grab yourself one. It's definitely waterproof. Hehehe! Later.

:: rene 3/21/2002 05:32:00 PM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, March 13, 2002 ::

Last night's football game in Alabang gave me the much-needed confidence to be scoring goals again. Lately, I haven't scored a goal that really drives home a point(meaning a net-ripping shot) until last night. The ball came from a low-driven cross from the right flank. I rushed and took a first-time shot. The keeper never saw the ball went past him! My teammates then rampaged for 5 straight goals! When we thought that the other already gave up, they answered with a couple of goals to narrow down the margin. Luckily, we were able to hold on and I again scored for a 9-6 win.

It felt good. Hope there'll be more nights like that.

'til next game...

:: rene 3/13/2002 07:01:00 PM [+] ::

Filed my Income Tax Return yesterday. With all the hocus-pocus in the government, I still have the eternal hope that my money is in good hands. Oh well...

:: rene 3/13/2002 06:45:00 PM [+] ::
:: Thursday, March 07, 2002 ::

Found a link to a dear friend's musings. I had been a regular recipient of her musings awhile back but there was a dearth of them for sometime too. Well, I guess her latest writings would explain them all. She took up her masteral studies at the American University in Washington, D.C. and now she's working at ASE, Alliance to Save Energy.

Quoting ASE's description on its website, "The Alliance to Save Energy is a nonprofit coalition of prominent business, government, environmental, and consumer leaders who promote the efficient and clean use of energy worldwide to benefit the environment, the economy, and national security.". Yeah, I know - pretty heavy stuff. But that's Lyra. Always there for mother earth.

And she's not the geeky type either. She's one cool, hip, urban chick! When I went to D.C. last summer, I met up with her and Rem(another very good friend) for lunch at Bangkok One, a Thai resto. From Chinatown, I took the Metro(their subway system like our MRT) and got off at McPherson Square. Rem was first to meet me since her office was just a stone throw away from the resto. Later, we heard somebody hollering. It was Lyra. I was surprised to see her in office clothes but riding her mountain bike on the streets of D.C.! Hahaha! Funny girl. But it was the epitome of coolness. And I envied her.

More links about her:

GetAsia.com.ph - Family Logic
Running for a Cause

:: rene 3/07/2002 05:20:00 PM [+] ::
:: Monday, March 04, 2002 ::

I feel feverish today. Worse, my head feels so heavy and I just wanna lie down. Arghh! This actually started early yesterday but I decided to brush it off since I was gonna play football that night. Somehow as I was driving on the expressway to Ayala Alabang, I felt queasy that I had to steady my hands on the steering wheel. Anyways, I got to Cuenca Park just in time but we still started late since people didn't start to come in at about 8:30pm! My legs were wobbly and I knew there was something wrong because I had to gasp for air after every run. Eventually, I started to warm up and was enjoying the game until we finished at 10:00pm.

Boy, the drive home seemed so long! And now, I got a runny nose and a sore body to boot. There goes football fanaticism for you... ;-p

:: rene 3/04/2002 07:40:00 PM [+] ::
:: Sunday, March 03, 2002 ::

Sorry if you haven't heard from me in awhile. I can't blame work though since I don't have any projects lately. And that's good, y'know. After a nerve-wracking test development project, I thought I needed a break. So while I'm waiting for another project to come, --- which is anytime soon - I'm biding my time surfing the net. Shhhhhush! :-)

The 19th Metrobank Foundation art competition was just launched last month. And I'm cooking up an entry in tribute to my late maestro Mateo Beronga. I don't expect to win anything though. I just wanted to keep alive the things he taught me which was also taught to him by his late maestro, Norman Rockwell. When I was in Massachusetts, I had the wonderful opportunity to pay homage to this great American artist who have influenced, though indirectly, my style. His museum in Stockbridge, MA is a good 3-hour drive(with stops of course) from Boston. My friends were not too keen joining me on that trip. But since it was autumn, I persuaded them to see the best fall foliage in New England --- which is in Western Massachusetts. For me though, it was hitting two birds with one stone. Hehehe! With MapQuest giving me directions, it was easy driving from thereon.

My friends didn't have an inkling on who the hell Norman Rockwell was so they waited for me in the parking lot while I toured the museum. I tell you --- the first painting I saw --- I had goosebumps all over my body! Even though they have that yellow line separating you from those priceless original paintings, I couldn't help myself moving closer to see the brushstrokes. I was dumbfounded to see THE SAME strokes my maestro had! And that's what I'm using too! I really got excited and had to restrain myself from shouting. I didn't shout but in my excitement, I told a Russian woman that my maestro was taught by Norman Rockwell. I'm not sure if she understood what I was blabbering about. Hehehe!

Anyways, I soaked up everything there was to see there. Leaving Stockbridge, I felt proud and nostalgic that somehow, I'm part of Norman Rockwell's legacy... and Mateo Beronga's too. With that trip, my art had taken a sense of direction. It is to be shared, felt, and learned. That's my promise to those two great men.

Incidentally, my maestro used to paint for the National Historical Society in Cebu. He has a painting called "Old Colon" and now hangs at the Cebuano Studies Center of the University of San Carlos. Check that out if you're ever in Cebu.

:: rene 3/03/2002 04:52:00 PM [+] ::