OR Burmese, it doesn't matter for H, a 24-year-old communications worker whom VG and I got to share in a universal ritual eternally practiced by pretentious few who call themselves journalists: beer drinking.
I'd rather hide H's real name as insurance when he goes home sometime in the coming months. H says the ritual is best enjoyed alive and outside prison.
He says his government frowns upon such lifestyle, which doesn't concern beer, as journalism, he says, is best only when any opposition is not mentioned.
But that is what H has been doing here in the country for the past months: going to websites that have become a voice against the military junta that has ruled Burma since 1967. That is aside from drinking beer.
H said visiting such websites within Burma is risky since the government monitors the Internet and its use by an estimated 0.4 million Myanmarese in 2007, according to the 2009 Unctad Information Economy report.
The Philippines, to note, recorded some 9.20 million Internet users that year, with a penetration rate of 10.39 percent. Myanmar's rate was less than a percent (0.82) that year.
I would've brushed aside H's Orwellian notion as something coming from a drunk X-Filesphile. Except that our drinks haven't arrived yet and H's face was like that of a losing poker player.
He explained that government can play Burma's Big Brother by controlling telecommunications access.
"We can't access the websites that say anything against the government or what's happening to a particular group of people," H said adding that proxy servers are being monitored, especially from Internet cafes.
He explained that even phone calls are being monitored. "You can hear an echo when you talk."
But since arriving in Manila, H said he's never felt so free. He's been surfing every website he wasn't able to visit while in his country. Porn maybe included but I didn't ask and he didn't say.
He read and copied everything that he can. But H says he has to diligently erase every file, even links, in the laptop he also bought here.
This may be construed as paranoia for some but it has kept H alive as a communicator. It has also gave him the short freedom, however ensconced in clear parameters, he's enjoying in our country.
This gave me a pause.
On one hand, I'm grateful for Filipinos whose actions in the past allowed me to enjoy the freedom elusive in a country like Myanmar.
On the other hand, I felt silly to sometimes take small things like press freedom for granted seeing how very important it is for people like H.
H may have noticed and, despite or maybe because of his youth, said what's important is the moment and what we both can walk away with something valuable from that moment.
At that moment, we savored the bottle of beer and grateful for its chill effect.
Internet Users (millions)
Penetration (users per 1,000 inhabitants)
CAGR (%) 2003-2007/
Change in penetration 2003-2007/
bEstimates for 2007
dEstimates for every reported year
Source: United Nations Commission on Trade and Development Information Economy Report 2009: Trends and Outlook in Turbulent Times
That's what usually ail people like me who label themselves journalists.
It's neither the Coors nor the pork sisig at Dinoy's, an exclusive enclave for the Quezon City-based enlightened spender. My heart flutters when I sense I may have gotten a story wrong.
The source of the palpitation was a message from a press relations executive I've known since my stint with the Manila Times.
I am rarely honored by getting this executive's attention so I was taken aback when he cited a story I wrote about a business process outsourcing (BPO) company's lackluster third quarter (Q3) performance.
The message said I should've compared revenue on a year-over-year (YOY) basis, and not quarter-on-quarter (QOQ) since the BPO's Q3 2009 resulted better than in Q3 2008.
While my hunch was the story is correct, fair, and accurate, I felt gravel roll on my innards.
My spider senses told me to acquire wisdom through the lofty ritual a select bunch of people called journalists engage in: beer drinking.
My hand was wringing a second bottle when I popped the message to these two esteemed members of the press.
"Yup, you were sorta' wrong there," the newspaperman from Palawan said in between bites of chicken adobo-sa-gata, which he became gastronomically enamored with that balmy night.
I turned my gaze to the reporter from the Kalookan Republic hoping to get a second opinion. But he agreed with the adodo-man.
Traitor, I almost blurted out, but he was also paying for our liquid diet that night.
"Usually, QOQ data is applied to macroeconomic stories, to show how healthy or frail the economy is. We don't usually do that for companies." The now-Sampaloc resident Palaweño added that a QOQ data would present trends of a company's performance.
After realizing I'm reluctant to go Dutch after two rounds, the two wise men of Manila relented and saw the wisdom of my story.
Both realized that comparing a company's quarterly performance is okay if it's in the BPO industry.
The adobo-lover said that a BPO's revenue source is relatively stable than other firms because this is presumed to be within a contract.
He added that a QOQ story is okay because we are living in extraordinary times, e.g., a US economy requiring enema.
I wizened up and presented my case to these wise men of the ink-stained realm.
I said my story stemmed from the BPO chief executive's candor to admit Q3 revenue was nearly a million-dollar short to match Q2 because of its client's faltering business.
I argued that the closure of the client's facility had a major impact on the revenue of the BPO servicing the principal.
Finally, realizing the liquidity of our wallets hobbled our ability to order a third bucket, we agreed that a BPO company's performance in Q3 2009 is important as the US economic recovery level remains in a stupor since recession kicked in in Q3 2008.
Having chucked out our lunch money as donation to a small business, the wise men assured me I got the story right and plopped me on a cab.
But my wife nearly had a heart attack when she realized it's breaking near dawn when I arrived home.
Disclaimer: Mentioning a specific brand of beer or establishment here doesn't preclude an endorsement. The blogger also neither benefited from nor received any material privilege from the owners of the brands cited in this blog entry.
Four Catholic men and a Catholic woman were having coffee.
The first Catholic man tells his friends, "My son is a priest, when he walks into a room, everyone calls him 'Father'."
The second Catholic man chirps, "My son is a Bishop. When he walks into a room people call him 'Your Grace'."
The third Catholic gent says, "My son is a Cardinal. When he enters a room everyone says 'Your Eminence'."
The fourth Catholic man then says, "My son is the Pope. When he walks into a room people call him 'Your Holiness'."
Since the lone Catholic woman was sipping her coffee in silence, the four men give her a subtle, "Well....?"
She proudly replies, "I have a daughter, slim, tall, 38D breast, 24" waist and 34" hips. When she walks into a room, people say, "Oh My G..."
While the IRS agent was checking the books he turned to the chief financial officer (CFO) of the hospital and said, "I notice you buy a lot of bandages. What do you do with the end of the roll when there's too little left to be of any use?"
"Good question," noted the CFO. "We save them up and send them back to the bandage company and every now and then they send us a free box of bandages."
"Oh," replied the auditor, somewhat disappointed that his unusual question had a practical answer. But on he went, in his obnoxious way.
"What about all these plaster purchases? What do you do with what's left over after setting a cast on a patient?"
"Ah, yes," replied the CFO, realizing that the inspector was trying to trap him with an unanswerable question. "We save it and send it back to the manufacturer, and every now and then they send us a free package of plaster."
"I see," replied the auditor, thinking hard about how he could fluster the know-it-all CFO.
"Well," he went on, "What do you do with all the leftover foreskins from the circumcisions you perform?"
"Here, too, we do not waste," answered the CFO. "What we do is save all the little foreskins and send them to the IRS Office, and about once a year they send us a complete dick."
[*Sent from Athens via email by Ding Bagasao]
The book F'd Companies (Simon & Schuster, 2002) by Philip J. Kaplan "captures the waste, greed and human stupidity of more than 100 dot-com companies." His book sells for just under $4 in some BookSale branches. When asked if I can reprint this page, Kaplan, known also as Pud in twitter, said: "Sure".
I'd make Fuckedcompany.com smell like peas.
That was the thinking behind Digiscents' flagship product, iSmell.
iSmell was a peripheral you could plug into your computer that would make websites and other computer programs smell. The device contained a palette of 128 different scented oils. When triggered, iSmell would internally combine selected smells and expel a puff of scent.
So yeah, there's something that's both really cool while simultaneously intensely stupid.
The idea was that there would be smell-enabled games –smell the caverns, the sweat, the dead bodies...Problem is, even with their seventy employees and $20 million in funding, they never got around to releasing the thing.
Besides, potential customers weren't too keen on having a bunch of nasty-smelling chemicals pumped up their noses.
Another idea was that perfume websites would smell like perfume. Okay...just a thought here, but would a company like, say, Gucci, trust this little box to accurately reproduce their fragrance? And if so, wouldn't people then just use the fuckin' smell from the box rather than actually buying the perfume? Further still, WHO THE FUCK GOES TO PERFUME WEBSITES. We can't leave out the obvious...
Still, this is cool, but so far the only applications that anyone can think of don't translate to $$$.
That's until now. I propose BURNINGSHITBAG.COM. This is a virtual burning bag of shit, delivered right to the email box of your favorite fucked CEO. The synergies are "overpowering" and the market seems just right.
URINALCAKES.COM coming soon.
Photo shows two children checking a black plastic bag containing their catch of the day: trash from garbage cans and plastic bottled drinks from pedestrians at the shopping center inside the University of the Philippines Diliman campus. On the foreground is a plastic label the taller scavenger tore from a plastic bottle and threw on the grass. Photo by Dennis D. Estopace, Oct. 14, 2009/ Quezon City, Philippines
Yup, two bottles, in fact, and a dinner of mechado and tokwa’t baboy in tausi sauce. Yum!
Even got a free ticket for the official launch Friday, October 16, of “WombRock;” thanks to Tony Gutierrez, its main fund-raising man.
“WombRock,” as the invite goes, is a year-long fund-raising campaign that mobilizes young people to take active role in reducing overall maternal mortality as well as pregnancy-related deaths of young mothers.
Wednesday night, October 14, some members of the media -including Gil Nartea and the QC Times publisher- were treated to a sneak peak of the whys, the hows and wheres of the campaign.
I wrote a story about the launch and, hopefully, it gets to see print in my paper BusinessMirror.
Hemingway, the campaign is aimed at raising P5 million, the surplus of which would help the 40-year-old Family Planning Organization of the Philippines provide services to poor young Filipino women and raise awareness on reproductive health.
The launch Friday starts at 1800H (6pm) at The ‘70s Bistro Bar and Restaurant (#46 Anonas St., Project 2, Quezon City.
Tony’s invite said they’ve asked the following musicians to perform for the launch: Color it Red, Bayang Barrios, DJ Alvaro, Luigi De Lara, Lynn Sherman Diyosa Espina, Tao Nono Aves, Chikoy Pura, Kevin Roy, Kez, Paraluman, and Live Mission Band are those mentioned in the invite.
An entrance ticket of Php200 (US$4.30 at P1=US$46) goes with one free drink. The rest of the ticket payment goes to the campaign, according to Tony.
For reservations or more questions, he advises calling Nestor Marayag at (02) 4343597.
30 Oct - 1002 Bar, Timog
31 Oct – Penguin Bar, Malate
31 Oct – Absynth Bar, Makati
07 Nov - Guerilla Radio, Pasig
13 Nov – Conspiracy Bar, QC
11 Nov - Bamboo Giant, Manila
17 Nov - Java Café, Los Baños Laguna
25 Nov - Bamboo Giant, QC
04 Dec - Naga City
05 Dec - Naga City
11 Dec - Baguio City
18 Dec - Pampanga
19 Dec – Palawan
I'll probably get it from Ton, a good friend of mine since the GST-for-Men training days. He's also connected with Bistro70s, the 20-year-old Quezon City home of real Pinoy Rock.
Tonight, October 14, rock and roll will play there again but this time to kick off the year-long fund raising campaign of the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP).
According to the invite I got, this year, apparently, marks the 40th Anniversary of the FPOP. The group claims itself to be the “acknowledged pioneer of the family planning (FP) movement and of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) service delivery in the country.”
The gig at Bistro70s, the invite read, starts a nationwide bar tour to encourage “young people to take active role in reducing overall maternal mortality as well as pregnancy-related deaths of young mothers.”
As I gather, the money raised is expected to reach the poorest of our people through support services related to reproductive health.
Ton said in his letter they invited musicians “who have committed themselves to championing the same cause through their music.”
These musicians include: Aiza Seguerra, Cookie Chua, Bayang Barrios, Cynthia Alexander, DJ Alvaro, Skarlet, RJ Jimenez, Noel Cabangon, De Lara, The Jerks, Razorback, The Dawn, Color It Red, Session Road, amng others.
Ton added that women musicians who are also SRH champions will be the major performers of the bar tour.
The gig is only for journalists.
If you’re one of these insignificant denizens of this cosmos (like me), drop an email to Brayant Gonzales firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re lucky enough to have avoided this pitiful career called journalism, drop by the bars or restaurants the FPOP will host.
And give: it’s a fund-raising campaign, after all.
Hey, maybe I won’t have a free beer.
Ah, tough luck.
Oh, well, here’s to the music and the babies.
The trip is sponsored by pharmaceutical firm Bayer Schering Pharma Asia Pacific. This means they are forking over the cost of my plane ride, stay in the hotel (Pullman Putrajaya Lakeside: www.pullmanputrajaya.com), and my ride to and from where I stay and the airports of Manila and KL.
I and another journalist from the Philippines will meet, according to the welcome letter from Bayer, the 20 "Hemophilia Heroes" across Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand who won the “Design-Your-Own-Hemophilia-Heroes” cartoon/video contest.
I was told local journalists will also be covering the 2-day event where “hematology experts will speak on the standard of care of hemophilia in Asia Pacific.”
The camp is expected to identify how this standard could be further improved “so that young people with the lifelong bleeding disorder can manage their conditions and grow up to lead normal and fulfilling lives.”
“Patient and parents support group dialogues/forums are also scheduled to discuss the standard of care of hemophilia in Asia Pacific and what is being done to deal with the situation, all in the hope of improving the physical, emotional and psychological well-being of children and young people with the disease.”
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services website, hemophilia (heem-o-FILL-ee-ah) "is a rare bleeding disorder" usually inherited -passed from parents to children through the genes, and "occurs only in males (with very rare exceptions)." [http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/hemophilia/hemophilia_what.html]
According to the briefing letter, the Asia Pacific Hemophilia Camp is themed ‘Love.Learn.Live.’”
It has “fun-filled with activities intended to raise emotional quotient and deal with negativities (‘Love.’); inventions and entrepreneurship (‘Learn.’); health and nutrition (‘Live.’); as well as an ‘Amazing Race’ challenge (‘Love.Learn.Live.’).”
I will try to write from KL beginning tomorrow night, if I still have the energy since the program says we go back to our rooms 9pm after a day's worth of activitis. The time in the Philippines and Malaysia is the same, to note.
But I think I'll be staying up all night because, as I always experience whenever I travel overseas, I'll miss my wife and daughters Katha and Laya.
It won't help that I'll be with young people always searching in themselves the strongest will to remain victorioua over their illness.
This is a coverage that I hope can dispel the cynicism that tries to embrace journalists in their search for the next story.
As they would say in Malay: Jumpa lagi (see you again).
The Los Baños, Laguna-based Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study in Agriculture and Research (Searca) announced in a statement that it extended the deadline for submission of entries for its Photo Contest on Climate Change 2009 until October 30, 2009 (Friday).
For photo contest guidelines, visit http://www.searca.org/web/photo-contest/.
The institute’s last statement said the contest is open to amateur and professional photographers and all Southeast Asian nationals, except Searca employees and immediate family members.
Disclosure: This blogger has in no way received any compensation of any kind in posting this information. This blog post should not in any way be construed as an endorsement of Searca or the contest. The blog post should be read as a for-your-information type. This blogger is in no way connected to Searca, the contest, or the people behind the institute and its contest. This blogger has currently no information that would negate the preceeding assertions.
World Vision (http://www.worldvision.org) said they began relief operations the evening of Oct 3 in Isabela Province. 3 Oct (Dateline: Isabela Province/PR)
Kansas City, Missouri-headquartered Children International (http//www.children.org) said it donated $2.1 million in relief -water, soap, shampoo, sandals, kerosene stoves, sleeping mats and cooking utensils- to poor families and children that CI supports. Survivors will also receive funding for basic home repairs and reconstruction. 2 Oct (Dateline: Manila/PR)
Hip-hop artist MC Hammer and precious metals buyer Cash4Gold said to support hunger relief organization Feed The Children (http://www.feedthechildren.org) 2 Oct (Dateline: Pompano Beach, Florida/PR)
Ayala Foundation sent an update on its relief operations last week (http://www.ayalafoundation.org/afie-news/e-news-Ondoy.html) 2 Oct (Dateline: Manila/via email)
Save the Children said they've put up food distribution and child friendly spaces in evacuation shelters as Typhoon Parma headed towards the Philippines. The group said to help victims of an earthquake in Indonesia, flooding in Vietnam, and a tsunami in American Somoa. 2 Oct (Dateline: Westport, Conn./PR)
The Hong Kong Taskforce Operations Relief for Typhoon Ketsana (Ondoy) Victims said they raised HK$155,468 (P0.94M at HK$1=P6.0211) in cash donations, pledges and from fund-raising activities of associations and individuals. Donations accepted, sorted, packed at the Sacred Heart Canossian College Sunday. 2 Oct (Dateline: Hong Kong, via email)
UN children's agency, UNICEF (http://www.unicefusa.org) said they have pre-positioned people and supplies for typhoon Pepeng/Parma. UNICEF said preparing $1.3 million in supplies esp. for an estimated 1 million children displaced by Ketsana. 2 Oct (Dateline: Manila/PR)
ChildFund said its Philippines staff is providing food, water, medicines, shelter, cookware and tools to flood survivors building houses after leaving local evacuation centers in the metropolis. 2 Oct (Dateline: Richmond, Va./PR)
The American Red Cross (http://www.redcross.org) said it’s contributing US$100,000 worth of supplies -including mosquito nets, jerry cans and blankets -- to the Philippines from the Red Cross warehouse in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It added it is also sending a shelter specialist. 2 Oct (Dateline: Washington/PR)
Nashville-based group Soles4Souls (www.giveshoes.org) said it’s sending 15 shipping containers full of Shoe Carnival and Keds branded-shoes, clothing, food, blankets and medical supplies to victims of disasters in American Samoa, Indonesia and The Philippines. 2 Oct (Dateline: Nashville, Tenn./PR)
InterAction said 20 of its total 187 US-based member-groups “are responding to the crises in Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines, preparing assessment teams and providing water, food, nonfood emergency items and health services.” It gives a guide on how to help at http://www.interaction.org/how-help. 2 Oct (Nashville, Tenn/PR)
A school sought a story about students doing relief efforts for ondoy –fil-am, lithuanian, Indian, chinese. "U myt want to ask ur editor to send u to intrvw …students. Good for ur good news section." 2 Oct (Dateline: Manila/via sms)
Funded by the USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, the Center for International Disaster Information CIDI, (www.cidi.org) encourages Americans to donate cash rather than clothing and canned goods. 2 Oct (Washington, DC/PR)
The Jesus is Lord Movement said it has called off its yearly celebrations to channel funds to relief operations. 2 Oct (Dateline: Manila/via email)
Western Union Foundation said it gave US$50,000-worth of relief good to 500 Filipino families. Cash will be given to ABS-CBN Foundation. The statement said it's working with World Vision. 2 Oct (Englewood, Colo./PR)
The Paco Catholic School Batch '85 group said they distributed goods packed at the PCS Alumni Office. 2 Oct (Dateline: Manila/via sms)
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) said through its PR that it has donated relief goods for the victims of typhoon Ondoy. It still asked for "any medicine requirements the community has." 1 Oct (Dateline: Manila/via sms)
US group AmeriCares (www.AmeriCares.org) said it delivered $3.2- million worth of antibiotics, pain relievers, water purification treatments, and other medicine to the Philippines. 1 Oct (Dateline: Stamford, CT/PR)
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (www.ifaw.org) said a water rescue team arrived in Manila Oct 1 to help "animal victims of the disaster," as requested by the Animal Welfare Coalition and the Department of Agriculture. 30 Sep (Dateline: Yarmouth Port, Mass./PR)
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) said it gave $1.1 million for the Philippines (www.usaid.gov/our_work/humanitarian_assistance/disaster_assistance). Also, it sent two disaster response experts. The US federal agency for disaster response added the Defense Department provided a helicopter and six Zodiac boats. 30 Sep (Washington, DC/PR)
Wells Fargo said it won't charge the $5-$7 fee to those sending money using to those affected by Typhoon Ketsana. The fee waiver would be lifted after October 12, 2009. Wells Fargo said it donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross. 29 Sep (Dateline: San Francisco/PR)
Binalot Greenbelt 1 accepting donations in kind 4 Ondoy victims. U may also donate cooked meals @50 pesos each 2 b delivered 2 evac centers. Spread the word! Tnx! -28 Sep (Dateline: Manila/via sms)
Government study foresaw flood–Palafox
Written by Dennis D. Estopace / Reporter
Monday, 28 September 2009 21:39
THE government was warned 32 years ago that ceding control of urban development may have adverse consequences, such as the devastation experienced by the metropolis on Saturday.
“Some are saying it’s [the flooding of key Metropolitan Manila areas] an act of God. It’s not. It’s neglect on the part of the government,” architect Felino Palafox Jr. told the BusinessMirror on Monday as casualties of Typhoon Ondoy grew to more than a hundred dead and thousands of people displaced.
In the document sent by Palafox, the Metro Manila Transport, Land Use and Development Planning Project (Mmetroplan) already cited the Marikina Valley as among the areas deemed “unsuitable for development.”
The area that includes the city of Marikina were among those that sustained the most damage, according to news reports. In one hard-hit site alone, Provident Village, TV reports said 58 bodies had already been recovered, presumably people who never had time to leave their homes as floodwaters rose too quickly.
“Development should be restricted by the application of controls in three major areas—in the Marikina Valley, the western shores of Laguna de Bay, and the Manila Bay coastal area to the north of Manila,” said the report submitted in July 1977 to then-Public Works and Highways chief Alfredo Juinio.
“We’ve told government all along [that] this would happen because of the flooding [in] the same month in 1970,” Palafox said.
He said he was working for the government then when he and a group of researchers undertook this World Bank-funded study on a land-use plan that was finalized by Hong Kong-based consulting firm Freeman Fox and Associates.
Palafox cited a recommendation from the study that the government should monitor the Marikina Riverbank so that the water would not reach 90 meters. Likewise, no structure should have been allowed within nine meters from the riverbank, he added.
“Dahil hindi sinunod ’yun, parang massacre ang nangyari [Because the recommendation was not heeded, what occurred was virtually a massacre],” he said.
The three-volume report also noted that “urban development is spreading into [these] areas which are, in their present state, unsuitable for development—either because they are low-lying and liable to flooding, or because development is without adequate facilities for the treatment and disposal of sewage [the norm in Manila] and so will continue to contribute to the severe pollution of areas, such as Laguna de Bay.”
The study added: “The unsuitable areas for development, where pressures are nevertheless considerable, are primarily the flat coastal areas to the north where extensive areas are liable to flooding and where increased pressures for reclamation are likely to further exacerbate this problem.”
Another is “the Marikina Valley, to the east, where the land is liable to flooding and where development with inadequate provision for the treatment and disposal of sewage is contributing to the severe pollution of Laguna de Bay and where flooding is a problem in the adjacent areas.”
Finally, the study said the pressure for development, but requiring control, includes “the western shores of Laguna de Bay where development without adequate facilities for the treatment and disposal of sewage is contributing to the severe pollution of Laguna de Bay and where flooding is a problem in the adjacent areas.”
“In order to avoid development contributing to longer-term flooding and water pollution, it is necessary that the short-term development is restricted in these areas. Only when remedial measures to deal with the problems have been implemented, should the development of these areas proceed on a significant scale,” the study said.
“Lessons are to be learned, for sure, but these have been taught three decades ago,” Palafox said.
Messages of typhoon Ondoy's devastation flooded my mobile phone inbox Saturday. It was only three o'clock in the afternoon but sun rays stayed blocked by a curtain of rain.
The skies poured water equivalent to a month's rainfall. My wife Patricia's message said Manila's main thoroughfare, 33 kilometers east, has morphed into a river.
My two friends agreed there's no way the Nissan Patrol we rode on can beat the torrent of water gushing forth to reach the lowest level it seeks.
Drowned in whiskey and worries over my family and friends, I slept in the clothes I wore.
It was only nine o'clock but the weight of the day's events pushed me over to REM and the ocean of alpha waves. The singing of guests three doors from our room was also drowned out by the rain that slashed the glass window at the second floor of a second-class motel we checked into for the night.
The trip back to Manila via Binakayan, Bacoor, coastal road, and EDSA bared Onyok's strength. Piles of trash thrown into the water were pushed ashore. Borders that separated houses and rivers and creeks were erased. People waded in ankle-deep brackish water over side streets.
The sky was blue and the sight was clear as gigantic tarpaulin ads lay crumpled like wet tissue on the base of steel structures. The air that swept inside the SUV was refreshing -crisp like newly-ironed cloth, pure like a baby's breath, and soft like freshly-washed cotton linen.
Futher east of Manila, however, the air reeked of death, despair, and devastation.
Maybe that's why we were able to tolerate the loss of power in our house for 24 hours. Each member of the family in UP Diliman were accounted for and, except for my uncle, were spared the torment that fellow Filipinos suffered.
The irritation over cut power supply was only because we failed to turn on the television and share the grief, though marginal, clutching hundreds of families -father, mother, son, daughter- since Saturday.
At least, I thought, my two daughters were spared from the disturbing images of children pinning their hopes on a clump of garbage to survive. They didn't.
At least, I thought, the black out steeled me from what those images could have done to my psyche had I've seen them upon arriving from Tanza, Cavite.
It's been three days now, but the images of fellow human beings who have lost their lives and are at a loss over their lives remained haunting.
My mother still try to spare the children those images -she watches the news only sparingly. But we asked them to help gather the clothes they can spare for their less fortunate cousins in Marikina.
We also explain that while some things like nature's power remain daunting, there are some things like political will remain wanting.
If we can calculate that stepping back can help us escape the wind-shoved rain on a balcony, we can surmise that good planning can help us avoid tragedy that a typhoon like Ondoy innocuously brought to bear on our people.
"All Deans: In view of CHEd announcement, classes in UP Diliman suspended accordingly," a message sent by mobile read.
The message added that the registrar will issue a memorandum "re: adjustments in calendar."
Chancellor Cao's message added that classes in UP Diliman will resume Monday, October 5.
Likewise, the activities of groups like the Cherubim and Seraphim are suspended this week, according to Dr. Elena Rivera Mirano.
News reports said Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) chairman Manuel Angeles announced suspension of classes in colleges and universities in the National Capital Region, Southern Tagalog Region (Regions 4A & B) and parts of Central Luzon during Tuesday's briefing of the National Disaster Coordinating Council in Camp Aguinaldo with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
They have a fascination for doors that open and shut automatically.