Thursday, December 25, 2008

Noche Buena

I was busy the whole day yesterday preparing for the traditional december 24dinner and noche buena. By 7:00 am i was already in SaveMore Supermarket to buy all the ingredients i needed. Lucky me found a beautiful pork roast which i cooked for hours just to make it tender. I also bought crab meat and cooked that with some coconut milk (gata), squash and beans. Then there's the 3 mushrooms soup, dinuguan and roast chicken. By 7:30 pm i was done cooking. My brother Ben arrived (my sister Ruby is in Zambales and my sister Ruth is in Macau for Christmas with her family).

We ate til we were full then packed some of the food left over to Cogeo in Antipolo. We arrived at my Uncle Jessie's place around 11:00 pm. We brought a case of ice cold beer and Ed, our cousin Marites' husband brought out a gallon of brandy. We had as pulutan what was left of the pork roast, and Ricky brought out a batch of his freshly-fried chicken. Their neighbors sent over a bowlful of delicious pancit canton. We talked and drank until 3 in the morning. Tes gave us an overview of life in Canada, and we joked about how some Canadians think of the Philippines as a country full of nipa huts.

By then we were already too stuffed and drunk so we decided to call it da night --er -- day.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Maligayang Pasko

Ang pasko ay sumapit na naman at sa loob ng mahiwagang panahong ito ay magkakaisa ang sambayanan... mga magkaka-away ay magbabati... mga ligaw na tupa ay babalik sa kanilang mga pamilya.. ang mga kuripot magiging mapag kawang-gawa. Ngunit kung ating papansinin ay makalipas ang kapaskuhan ay balik nanaman tayo sa ating dating gawi.

Ganito ba talaga ang mensahe ng kapaskuhan sa atin? Ang pasko ba ay isang mapagkunwari at kosmetikong pamamaraan upang kahit sa isang saglit ay mapatawad natin ang ating mga sarili sa ating mga ginawa sa buong taon?

Christmas is not about gift giving or receiving nor is it about prancing about town in new get-ups that are sure to make a few heads turn. Christmas is not about new gadgets that will surely earn the envy of officemates and colleagues.

In many ways, having stepped back from the doorway of Christianity and its traditions has made me realize its moral value more than when i was deeply steeped in dogma. But what i have learned is just for me. In the end, we will all come to a realization of what Christmas is, and when it hits us like a ton of bricks falling from Empire State, we will have a deeper realization and appreciation of Christmas.

May your Christmas be as meaningful - and personal. Maligayang Pasko Po.


Do Buddhists celebrate Christmas?

In the West most of the monastery residents have come from a basically Christian culture, so Christmas has some meaning for us. We don't have Christian rituals, but the spirit of Christmas - giving gifts, kindness, love, peace to all mankind - is something we enjoy and is a reason to celebrate. We send and receive a lot of cards. This year we decorated the temple with holly and evergreens, lit a lot of candles, did some special chanting in the temple, listened to a tape of some Christian monastic chanting and held a late night meditation vigil. When you look at different religions it is not difficult to find similarities so at this time we focus on those.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Zendo Anniversary

Louie, EJ, Jade and I spent Monday at the Zendo in preparation for this coming Sunday's Zendo Anniversary. Louie found some old photos dating back to the construction of the "new" wing of the zendo (which includes the dormitory and the zendo hall itself).

We managed to put up 3 photo exhibits: a history of the zendo in pictures, the Leyte Memorial Sesshin (which was attended by Fr. Willigis Jaeger,Fr. Hugo Enome La Salle and Sister Elaine MacInnes), and The Zendo images (shots of the zendo done in black and white).

We also took out from the closet some rare memorabilia of the zendo. Rollie senei and I will be exhibiting some of our buddhas from our collection as well.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Road Trip Update

Baguio City -- We left Candelaria, Zambales at 9:30 am of November 1 for the second leg of our Road Trip. We headed next to Aringay, LA Union to visit our relatives from our mother's side. We took the back road from Zambales via Santa Cruz then into Pangasinan, passing by counteless cemeteries along the way, and arriving in Aringay at 1:30 in the afternoon. After a hearty lunch of talaba, shrimps, igado and pinakbet, we visited some of our other relatives in the area. By 4:30 we were on the road again, via the Aspiras Highway that connects to Marcos Highway. It took us about a little more than an hour to get to Baguio City, but it was worth it. We checked in at Prince Plaza and then headed to Jay-J's Inasal for dinner then to Giligan's for some "nightcap".

The next day we went to SM and Session Road where we met up with my niece Lolski. We had a simple dinner at Dencio's in CJH and then headed to Kaffeklatsche for some coffee. After coffee, we headed to Gili's to watch the bad Backtrack, plus have a little booze on the side.

We took Lolski to her dorm around 11:00 pm and had a couple of more beers at our hotel room before retiring for the night.

We decided to exted our stay in Baguio for another day. Today we will meet up with Loklski and visit our Lolo Sergio at the Naval Base, then go to Mines View Park for some shopping and Bulalo.

updates to follow, pics posted under Road Trip 3

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Road Trip: Candelaria, Zambales

The first leg of our road trip is Candelaria, Zambales. We left Marikina around 6:00 am. My ssiter Rose and I proceeded to my brother Ruben's place in Valenzuela, and from there took the NLEX to Dau, then to the Subic, Clark, Tarlac Expressway. What should have been a harrowing trip via Pampanga, then Olongapo was a mere 30 minute drive through the SCTEX. We passed by Subic to buy some supplies and arrived here in Candelaria around 1 pm. We were served a delicious lunch of rabs and shrimp and sinigang na baboy by my sister Ruby and brother-in-law Ayo. We will be staying in Candelaria until Nov.1, then move on to the second part of our road trip -- Aringay, La Union. Pictures to follow.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Tsubasa Wo Kudasai

Sometime in 1997, when i was still working for Angelicum College, we had the pelasure of hosting 4 japanese students from the Tokyo YMCA. During one of our trips, they taught us a song called Tsubaa wo Kudasai (Give me wings). I recenly found on YouTube (tm) a version of the song and i would like to share it with you.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


It has been a long time since i visited the Greenhills shopping complex. Truth be told, after my father passed away in 2004, i have been to that area a total of 5 times, including my visit yesterday. I miss the old Greenhills area with the open fountain area, the long pond, Unimart and Choo-Choo Junction. When i was a little kid, my parents used to bring me along to Greenhills when they went crocery shopping at Unimart. While my mother took care of the buying, my father would take me to the open parking area near Choo-Choo Junction (yes, the spaghetti place inside a real train). We would watch RC owners race their cars around the hastily-made track.

After that we would meet my mother at the cafe inside Unimart for some chicken mami and softdrinks. As the years progressed, we graduated from mami at the cafe to Luk Yuen fronting the pond area. My father loved their radish cake. We would then walk to Virra Mall where we would buy squid balls (during that time squid balls was virtually unknown to most filipinos). When you cooked the squid balls, it grew to the size of a golf ball, and my father served it as "pulutan" when hi "compadres" come to visit.

It was also in Greenhills where i first got to taste Orange Juilius' orange juice and hotdog sandwhich. It was also in greenhills where i first tasted sugar cane juice, and where i lusted over the imported toys in the shoppersville area. I remember my parents buying me this train set from Tita Oning Banadera's shop. I still have pieces of the train set though i doubt if it still works.

When i went to Greenhills a couple of weeks with my fellow zen members after a meeting at ADB, i was surprised how much greehills has changed -- inside and out. I love what they did to Virra Mall, but can't get over my disappointment at how much the fountain area has changed. What used to be a mini-carnival for kids is now a tiangge. I have to admit i even got lost trying to find my way back to the Virra Mall area.

I decided to go again yesterday to familiarize myself with the place. Still i couldn't get over the fact that my favorite place to visit in Greenhills is now full of people selling everything from old coins to big stone buddha statues. Oh well. They say the only thing constant in life is change. So hey, i'll get used to it.

Gotta go. I'm going to Greenhills.

Monday, October 06, 2008

La Naval

October 12 is a date to remember for all devotees of the Mother of the Holy Rosary (Nuestra Senora de Santissima Rosario de La Naval de Manila). I recently purchased the coffee table book of the Saga of La Naval. It was a steep purchase for 4k but a very good buy nontheless. The coffee table book includes an interactive cd that features old photos and even rare videos from the 1920 procession of the La Naval in Intramuros -- plus lots of trivia. Since i was raised under the Dominicans, the La Naval is an icon i will never forget. I have never missed a procession except maybe for this weekend since we have plans to go out of town.
Since the La Naval was transfered from the UST chapel to the new Santo Domingo compound, the image has been called the Mother of Quezon City. (more on the La Naval's history next blog)

La Naval

October 12 is a date to remember for all devotees of the Mother of the Holy Rosary (Nuestra Senora de Santissima Rosario de La Naval de Manila). I recently purchased the coffee table book of the Saga of La Naval. It was a steep purchase for 4k but a very good buy nontheless. The coffee table book includes an interactive cd that features old photos and even rare videos from the 1920 procession of the La Naval in Intramuros -- plus lots of trivia. Since i was raised under the Dominicans, the La Naval is an icon i will never forget. I have never missed a procession except maybe for this weekend since we have plans to go out of town.
Since the La Naval was transfered from the UST chapel to the new Santo Domingo compound, the image has been called the Mother of Quezon City. (more on the La Naval's history next blog)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Food Survey (galing kay Kats)

1.Marunong ka bang magluto?
☻ Yes. As in :D
2.Kumakain ka ba ng ampalaya?
☻ op kors! i love ampalaya
3.Anong mas gusto mo, Mcdo or Jollibee?
☻ McDo. Walang tatalo sa sausage McMuffin!
4.Anong madalas mong inoorder sa number 3?
☻ Bg Breakfast nila or Big Mac...
5.Mahilig ka ba sa maanghang?
☻ noon hindi. ngayon natotolerate ko na.
6.kumakain ka ba ng scramble?
☻ hahahahaha oo naman. walang sinabi mcflurry
7.Anong mas gusto mong sawsawan ng fishball?
☻ wala. di ako nag sasawsaw
8.Anong paborito mong sangkap ng halo-halo?
☻ nata de coco, leche flan and ice cream
9.Sumusunod ka ba sa instruction ng isang recipe?
☻i just get the general idea of the recipe and then wing it
10.Anong kakanin ang gustong gusto mong kainin?
☻ kutsinta with kinudkod na niyog
11.Bumibili ka ba ng samalamig na may sagong maliliit?
☻ oo naman
12.Banana-q o Turon?
☻ turon, hands down
13.San ka madalas kumain ng tapsilog?
☻ tapa king... masarap yung tapa king royale nila eh, pero masarap din yung tapslog
sa loob ng palengke ng marikina market mall

14.Nasarapan ka ba sa Pearl Cooler?
☻ hindi eh
15.Thick crust or Thin crust?
☻ thin

16.Kinakain mo ba ung taba na nasa dulo ng pork bbq?
☻ oo
17.Bumibili ka ba sa manong na nagtitinda ng tuhog tuhog na mangga at singkamas?
☻ yes!!!! gigil....
18.Catsup ba o Mayonnaise ang sawsawan mo ng French fries?
☻ catsup na hinalo sa mayo.
19.Ano ang madalas na Special Order request mo kapag umoorder ka sa fast food restaurant?
☻ big portion sa chicken (pag sa burger king, double cheese and triple patty)

20.Dine-in or Take-out?
☻ dine-in AT take out... tipong dine-in muna sabay pag paalis na, may dala ka pang take out.
21.San ka nakakain ng masarap na sisig?
☻ pampanga
23.Mahilig ka bang mag-softdrinks?
☻ coke light
24.Kumakain ka ba ng nakakamay?
☻ oo, pero kung may kubyertos, dun ako sa kubyertos
25.Anong paborito mong ipalaman sa tinapay?
☻ cheese
26.Nakakain ka na ba ng adidas at ulo ng manok?
☻ oo. fave ng nanay ko ang ulo ng manok, fave ng tatay ko adidas
27.Tinatabi mo ba yung komiks sa bazooka?
☻ dati kasi akala ko may kahihinatnan yung pag tago ng lintek na komiks na yun
28.Chicharon or Fish Cracker?
☻ if its from baboy, it must be good. chicharon syempre.
29.Bumibili ka ba nung laruan na may candy sa loob?
☻ laruan lang. yung walang kendi sa loob
30.Nakatikim ka na ng kwek-kwek?
☻ ay bastos!!! oo naman
31.Kinakain mo ba ung sisiw na nasa balut?
☻ oo
32.Nagmimidnight snack ka ba?
☻ hindi

33.Malakas ka ba sa kanin o sa ulam?
☻ dati sa kanin... ngayon sa ulam na
34.Champorado o Lugaw?
☻ lugaw!
35.Cheese Ensaymada o ung plain lang?
☻ cheese!
36.Boy Bawang o Cornbits?
☻ Boy Bawang syempre
37. Wet Goods, Grocery o Palengke?
☻ palengke!
39.Nasubukan mo na bang iulam ang chippy?
☻ nope, pero naisahog ko na ang bread pan sa soup. tsalap!

Dekwat mula kay kats na dinekwat mula kay cheska fayatola

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Overseas Filipino Democracy

Another article was written by my friend Pof. Jerick Aguilar on Sept. 9. I am posting his article for you. Credit is due The Philippine Star, where the article first appeared.

Overseas Filipino Democracy
By Jerick T. Aguilar
Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The sacred Islamic month of Ramadan falls exactly this September in the Gregorian calendar. Having lived in countries where Islam is the official religion (for more than four years in a row!), my Muslim friends have told me once and again how their religion, unlike any other, is “democratic” – that everyone is the same in the eyes of God. And I somehow tend to agree with them.

For one thing, during Ramadan, Muslims around the world fast. They neither eat nor drink for about 12 hours, everyday, for 30 days straight – so everyone, whether rich, poor, or middle-class, feels hungry. Having to do this every year, all of them, with no exceptions, definitely know and remember the feeling of hunger. For another, their once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to Mecca also erases their economic and social status. Prince and pauper alike – everyone has to wear the same attire and perform the same ceremonies with millions of other Muslim pilgrims. And there are no special treatment and special privileges for anyone (not even the President of Iran who was there last year), period.

Being born and raised Christian, this has made me reflect whether my “default” religion is also democratic. I remember preferring to come to Mass ten minutes late because in my parish, the lector, before the beginning of the service, would always read out the list of donors who, of course, would get brownie points in heaven while the rest of the people who didn’t (or couldn’t) donate would most likely rot in hell. So nothing democratic there.

As far as fasting or abstinence is concerned, not all Christians practice it so we are not equal in this department. The same thing also goes for our holy pilgrimages. The more money you have, the more stars your hotel and the better English your tour guide in places such as Guadalupe in Mexico, Lourdes in France, and Fatima in Portugal (which I never experienced as my limited budget had me going to these official Marian sites as an independent traveller instead of being part of a group), the better for you.

Never mind our country either. We are a democracy only on the outside as our country is run by big business tycoons and influential interest groups – not by the people. We do have elections but the results do not reflect the people’s voice but the candidate’s wallet. And everyone is supposed to be equal under the law but, as George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” so rightly put it, bribery and nepotism make some people “more equal” than the majority. Enough said.

Given that I am hung up on democracy and that neither my religion nor my country gives me the real sense of it, I was close to converting to Islam (pun intended) until I realized that I have experienced true democracy without being Muslim. I have experienced it overseas with our “kababayans” around the world. I have noticed that, especially in terms of friendship, Filipinos abroad tend to practice and reinforce the real essence of democracy.

I, a mere (international) NGO worker, was in a “barkada” once where one was a supervisor at the US Embassy and the other was a US Embassy official’s housekeeper. In our get-togethers, issues of certificates/diploma and income were never brought up – like we were colleagues with similar positions in a company. Another “barkada” of mine (in another country at another point in time) consisted of an irregular migrant who constantly jumped from one job to the next, a loyal employee of a multinational company, and a Filipino restaurant owner. Yet no one among us was above or more special than the other.

And it’s not just my group of friends who traverse artificial boundaries of educational attainment and occupational ranks. I have met people time and again who belong to a heterogeneous “barkada”. I guess one of the reasons why this is so is because we overseas Filipinos believe that we are all one and the same. Regardless of what we studied and the work that we do, all of us chose to leave our family and friends behind in order to have a much better future for ourselves and for them. We may have different degrees and varying salaries, but we have similar reasons for leaving the Philippines and staying on overseas.

Not only is there democracy among Filipino friends overseas, but also between couples. I have encountered lovers again and again who otherwise might not have paired up if they had remained in the Philippines – a cook with a manager, a data encoder (the husband) with a bank executive (the wife who has a much higher salary, of course), and a beautician (nope, not the husband) with a chief engineer, to name a few. Again, their relationship is not a question of who has more years of education and more zeroes in their payslips, but of being happy with and loving each other, regardless.

I suppose another reason for such a democracy is because a number of overseas Filipinos I met and know do not practice their real profession and, hence, do not care what kind of job the other person has. I came across a nanny in Vienna, Austria who used to be union leader in Manila, not to mention a janitor in Dublin, Ireland who was once a soldier based in our province of Batangas. And who would forget our thousands of domestic helpers who were teachers as well as doctors before who are now nurses? To reiterate, their jobs may be different from their qualifications, but their purpose to be in a foreign country is the same – to make a better life for themselves and their loved ones.

So what is the big deal about having democracy among overseas Filipinos anyway, you ask? Even bigger, I answer. The fact that Filipinos abroad look beyond someone’s education as well as salary, and treat the other person with the same importance as well as respect only goes to show that we, as citizens, are capable of practicing what our country should stand for – a democracy of the people, by the people, and for the people. The unfortunate thing though is that we practice this outside and not in our country where real democracy is needed the most. If our government officials had been overseas Filipinos, then they would have been listening to the people and satisfying the needs of the majority so that there would have been fewer and fewer of us living and working abroad.

Lacson goes bonkers

The Honorable (pweh) Ping Lacson has fired the first shot in what will be a very interesting 2010 election. The target of his volley: The Senate President himself, Manny Villar. The problem with Lacson's volley is that it doesn't hold water. Insertions into the budget are allowed, and it was made clear to me by a PDI reporter that it was Lacson himself who signed for the insertion (which allegedly went to the road to nowhere c5 project).

So Lacson's salvo backfired and now he is claiming (and i heard him say this on radio) that it was not him but Villar who made the issue "political". Whhhaaaat??? is he out of his mind?! The moment Lacson made the accusation and was supported by Jaj-ja-ja-Jambi "mana po" Madrigal, it was already political! Now they're trying to turn the tables! Lacson was also heard over DZBB saying that it was Villar's fault for making the issue political because he (Villar) was "ill-advised" by his "advisers".

Lacson further stated that Villar could have answered the allegations directly and should not have taken it as a political attack by a colleague. My God, Ping, Villar has a far better record than you will ever have so if I were you i'd just shut the f--k up before the sh-t really hits the fan it hits you right on the face.

White Privilege

I got this from an email sent by Bellen Sta. Maria.


White Privilege
By Tim Wise

For those who still can't grasp the concept of white privilege, or who
are constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it,
perhaps this list will help:

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol
Palin, and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your
family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you
or your parents, because every family has challenges, even as black
and Latino families with similar challenges are regularly typified as
irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a fuckin' redneck, like
Bristol Palin's boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes
with you, you'll kick their fuckin' ass, and talk about how you like
to shoot shit for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible,
all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six
years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of,
then returned to after making up some coursework at a community
college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to
achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as
unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first
place because of affirmative action.

White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town
smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state
with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island
of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people
don't all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black US.
Senator, two-term state Senator, and constitutional law scholar, means
you're untested.

White privilege is being able to say that you support the words under
God in the pledge of allegiance because if it was good enough for the
founding fathers, it's good enough for me, and not be immediately
disqualified from holding office--since, after all, the pledge was
written in the late 1800s and the under God part wasn't added until
the 1950s--while believing that reading accused criminals and
terrorists their rights (because, ya know, the Constitution, which you
used to teach at a prestigious law school requires it), is a dangerous
and silly idea only supported by mushy liberals.

White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make
people immediately scared of you.

White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an
extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the
Union, and whose motto was Alaska first, and no one questions your
patriotism or that of your family, while if you're black and your
spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with
her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she's
being disrespectful.

White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and
the work they do--like, among other things, fight for the right of
women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an end to
child labor--and people think you're being pithy and tough, but if you
merely question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month
governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in
college--you're somehow being mean, or even sexist.

White privilege is being able to convince white women who don't even
agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your
running mate anyway, because all of a sudden your presence on the
ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women, and made them
give your party a second look.

White privilege is being able to fire people who didn't support your
political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being a
typical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely
knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in
Chicago means you must be corrupt.

White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years whose
pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely criticize
George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an explicitly
Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian
theological principles into government, and who bring in speakers who
say the conflict in the Middle East is God's punishment on Jews for
rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you're just a good
church-going Christian, but if you're black and friends with a black
pastor who has noted (as have Colin Powell and the U.S. Department of
Defense) that terrorist attacks are often the result of U.S. foreign
policy and who talks about the history of racism and its effect on
black people, you're an extremist who probably hates America.

White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by
a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you
such a trick question, while being black and merely refusing to give
one-word answers to the queries of Bill O'Reilly means you're dodging
the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.

White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has
anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being
black and experiencing racism is, as Sarah Palin has referred to it a
light burden.

And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly
allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people
are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and the U.S. is
increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because white voters
aren't sure about that whole change thing. Ya know, it's just too
vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of the same, which
is very concrete and certain.

White privilege is, in short, the problem.

Annoy a Conservative
Think for Yourself

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Glad to be back online

it's been only a couple or so weeks and yet it feels like a decade since i last wrote a blog (much less open my site) on Multiply. My absence has something to do with the "Artist's Way", a way of "unblocking" my "artisitic talents", so to speak. You see, the one art form i really really would love to do is sculpting, but for one reason or other i failed to do so. Now i am putting my artistic endeavors back on track. This "unblocking" thingy comes at a very positive point in my life, all of them pretty good. So thanks for all you peeps who sent me their e-mails and text messages asking why i haven't been online for so long. Well, i will try to be online as often as i can, i promise.

Until then, Gassho!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

draft of banares genealogy almanac

the following attachment is a pdf file of the genealogy report for the line of bartolome banares. This is only part of the book. The whole book will include a history of the clan (narrative) with illustrations of old clan houses (and hopefully some vintage clan photos as well).

A Filipino Deported

i received "advanced notice" of my friend Jake Aguilar's article which is now posted on His experiences abroad have given me a better perspective of protocol regarding deportation in foreign countries. I learn a lot from his articles.

I am posting (with his consent) his article. Credit is due Prof. Jerick Aguilar and where the article first appeared.


A Filipino Deported
By Jerick T. Aguilar
Tuesday, August 5, 2008

At around this time last year, I was deported – and it was not for the first time. I was then based in Tunisia and found out that there were direct flights from Tunis to “Serbia and Montenegro” so it interested me to visit this part of the former Yugoslavia. Upon my arrival at the international airport, I was so excited to travel again and check out at least two cities, the capital Belgrade up north and coastal Kotor down south. (FYI, the old city of Kotor is a UNESCO World Heritage site, naturally surrounded by lush green mountains and clear blue waters. If you’ve seen the latest James Bond Movie “Casino Royale,” then you know exactly what I mean).

At the immigration counter, the officer had a look at my visa and verified the validity of my Philippine passport (which I earlier and later on flaunted to other tourists and residents in the queue). He then reached for his entry stamp, marked it on my visa, and said, “Welcome to Serbia.” After spending a few days in the capital and its outskirts, I went back to the airport (they said it was the same airport for international and domestic flights) for my trip to Tivat, another city with the airport closest to Kotor. At that time, I wondered why I had to go through the same immigration counter and was surprised that the officer put an exit stamp on the same visa. But I just shrugged this off as one of their policies.

When the plane finally landed at the “local” airport, everybody breezed their way passed the immigration counters – except me. An officer asked for my passport and kept on turning its pages back and forth. Instead of reaching for the entry stamp, he looked up to me and asked, “Where is your visa to Montenegro?”. Montenegro?”, I replied in bewilderment, “My Serbia and Montenegro visa is right there,” pointing to the page he was on. “I’m sorry,” he said, “but you need a separate visa to enter Montenegro. Montenegro had declared independence from Serbia a few months ago.”

And then everything else started to make sense – the immigration officer at Nikola Tesla International Airport left out “and Montenegro” when he welcomed me to his country, I was supposed to fly domestically but had to pass by the immigration counter again, and my single-entry tourist visa to Serbia was again stamped upon my exit. It then occurred to me that I was in another country and I didn’t have the visa to enter it.

“So can I apply for a visa here?,” was my turn to ask. “Sorry,” he said for the second time, “you need to get it at an embassy or consulate.” “But there is no official representation of Montenegro where I came from [for God’s sake, you just declared independence!],” was my discrete way of telling him to give me a visa upon arrival as in other countries. “Sorry,” for the third time he replied, “but we don’t give visas yet at the airport.” (They just declared their independence alright!)

After some futile arguing and empty threatening to report them to the Philippine Embassy (which I knew was not present in Montenegro but I also knew that they knew nothing of it), I was escorted to their detention room to wait for the next flight back to Belgrade. They confiscated my passport and exchanged it with a police escort. A few hours later with my passport on his left hand and my left shoulder on his right, he brought me to my seat on the plane and gave my passport to the pilot. In short, I ended up NOT visiting Kotor (and just watching “Casino Royale” all over again).

I thought the police escort was going to be with me on the flight so I gave a huge sigh of relief when he got out of the plane before departure. But as soon as the aircraft touched down in Belgrade, another escort was waiting for me to accompany me to a detention room. “But I have a visa to Serbia,” I remarked when he showed up inside the cabin, “and where is my passport?”. “It’s with me,” he replied, “but your visa to Serbia is no longer valid.” “But it’s not yet expired and I’m now in Serbia,” to which he said, “there’s already an exit stamp on here and it was for a single-entry only so now you’re in Serbia illegally.”

“Not again,” I told myself, “not for the second time.” A few years earlier, I went on vacation in Eastern Europe. I took the flight to Sofia, Bulgaria then took the train to visit Romania. From Bucharest, I took the train to visit the adjacent Hungary. Since my return flight was from Sofia and it was expensive to fly to there from Budapest, I took the train back from Hungary which had to pass through Romania.

The train stopped on the border between these two countries and immigration officers went inside as standard operating procedure to ask for everyone’s passport and/or visa including mine. I mentioned to them that I was going to Sofia so I showed them my double-entry tourist visa to Bulgaria. They said I still needed a visa to enter Romania so I turned the page on my passport to the one that I had. “But,” the officer said, “there’s already an exit stamp on here and it was for a single-entry only so now you’re in Romania illegally.”

Déjà vu it was. I was told to get out of the train and asked to stay in their detention room. (And yes, they took my passport and gave me a police escort). It was winter that time and I can still remember the bitter cold (there was no heating – I mean, why spend money and consume electricity for detainees?) as I was instructed to wait for the next train back to Hungary and head straight to the airport upon arriving in the capital.

At the international airports of Budapest, Tivat, and Belgrade, I was considered a deportee so I had a police escort with me all the time (protocol, they said) out of an unsubstantiated fear that I might escape and trade my current and comfortable life to a new and more comfortable one in their country. There had to be someone with me constantly that I also had to be accompanied on the few occasions I went to the restroom. Looking at the glass half-full, I just thought to myself that I was a VIP and this guy standing right behind me while I pee was my bodyguard.

When it came to board the plane, the experience was more than harrowing. My bodyguard, I mean, escort and I were the first to arrive at the departure lounge but the last to enter the jetway. While waiting to board, all the other passengers were looking at me and I somehow heard all of them whispering into each other’s ears that I was an illegal worker in their country who got caught and deserved to go back where I came from. And as the police escort and I entered the plane, their eyes met mine with the usual suspicion and depreciation.

Terrible personal instances like these need not be written and made public but rather kept secret or at least shared within an intimate circle of family and friends. But I am having it published nonetheless because I am only one of a great number of Filipinos who have faced deportation and only one of an estimated three million(!) of them who have entered a foreign country illegally (or have been illegally overstaying) and therefore face deportation.

These two incidents reminded me of several times I met Filipinos overseas who openly told me that they are irregular workers (as a side note, it is now being widely accepted to refrain from using the word “illegal” to describe them as they have not committed a “crime” against a person and/or property) and trustingly recounted how they succeeded to enter and/or stay in a foreign country without the necessary documentation.

One was a “kababayan” in Brussels who had been deported thrice. But this, or make that, “these” three times didn’t stop him from coming back to Belgium again and again – with different passports and through different points of entry in Europe each time. Another was in Munich who kept on going there and getting deported until he had sold all of his properties in his province, got a visa from Hong Kong to enter Italy, and then took the train to Germany. For these Filipinos and millions more, they would rather risk getting jailed in another country than risk staying unemployed or underemployed in the Philippines.

They say that one is enough, two is too much, three is dangerous. Getting deported twice already felt like being in jeopardy to me. But I have also been lucky twice. I was neither handcuffed nor jailed, and I had a return ticket which only necessitated a change of date. For unlucky overseas Filipinos, they only had the money to spend for a one-way ticket so they didn’t wait in a detention room but in a prison – not for hours but for days, weeks, months, or even years – until someone (or our government) pays for their ticket back home.

I was a deportee twice but this doesn’t prevent me from traveling. For most overseas Filipinos who have been deported once, twice, or even more, this also doesn’t prevent them from leaving the Philippines yet again and trying their luck to enter the same or another country, overstay, and find reasonable work there. After getting deported for the second (and hopefully last) time, it now seems petty that I make sure I get a visa wherever I go whereas they make sure that they don’t get caught wherever they might be.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Banares Clan Genalogy Almanac

I've finished the draft for the clan genealogy almanac. I'm just waiting fro corrections and other entries until august 15. Thank heavens for MyHeritage -- a software which helps me plot our family tree. What a great software! Without it, i might not have been able to come up with the alamanc at all. Speaking of softwares, my next project will be to render the various clan houses in 3d using sketchup (which i have mastered quite well, thank you!). I'm hoping to finsih these projects in time for what i am planning for: a grand reunion of ALL banares families and the establishment of an association of banares families (patterned after the Lim association of families). I need your help, dear relatives! i need fresh ideas!!!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

ADB! Wow!

We had lunch at the executive dining room of the Asian Development Bank in Ortigas, and upon entering the ADB Compound, we all said "wow!". The place is definitely high tech as well as elegant. We were invited by Rollie Sensei to a "working lunch" to discuss further the plans to renovate the Marikina Zendo. Marites Palad and i met at Riverbanks mall and went to the Podium to meet with Sars. We then proceeded to ADB where we underwent two security checks (our bags had to pass through two x-ray machines!). We were met by our gracious host, Rollie sensei at the visitors lounge. We also met Ning Tan and her draftsman Froilan at the opposite visitors lounge. Froilan took note of what we want to prioritize for the renovation. Lunch was superb. Fourof us decided on the crispy tofu with squid, shrimp and fish, and rollie sensei ordered for us to share the grilled salmon with mashed potatoes. The cake after lunch was excellent, especially the orange cheese cake that Ning got (and which we all shared). We adjourned to the cafeteria (the executive dining room was about to close and we were still not finished with the meeting). We finished around 2:45. The headquarters of ADB definitely knows how to treat its guests right! Wow na wow!

Monday, July 28, 2008


Thank God for internet cafes! I haven't blogged in a very long while and i am so itching to tell you about yesterday. We were fortunate to have with us at the zendo an old member we have not seen in a long while. He migrated to Australia with his family, you see. Who is he? Jim Paredes, of course! He told us that he frequently mentions the zen center in his column at the Star. He even joined us for lunch as he told us about life in australia. Wow! I tried not to show my awe but i guess it showed after all... and me without my camera! Well, as good luck would have it, The APO hiking society will be having their 40th concert soon at the Araneta Colliseum. San Mateo willing, i might just be able to watch that concert. Yun lang.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Island

this, for me, is one of the most sensual songs by the incomparrable Barbra Streisand. The lyrics and the way she sings it speaks for the mood of the entire song (wink! wink!) I couldn't find a video for the song, so i'm posting the lyrics instead. Hope you like it!

Make believe we've landed
On a desert Island.
Bathe me in the waters,
Warm me in the moonlight,
Taste me with your kisses,
Find my secret places,
Touch me 'till I tremble,
Free my wings for flying
And catch me while I'm falling.
Keep your arms around me
Like there's no tomorrow.
Let me know you love me.
On our little Island
Not a soul can see us.
Show me how to love you.
Teach me how to please you.
Lay your dreams beside me.
Only stars will listen
To our cries and whispers.
You were made to love me
And I was made to love you.
Keep your arms around me
Lose yourself inside me.
Make it last forever.

I can see the Island
Shining in the distance.
Now we're getting closer.
Keep your arms around me.
Oh now we're almost there.

On our little Island
Not a soul can hear us.
Silently exchanging
Fantasies and feelings.
Endlessly exploring
Learning one another
'Till the morning finds us.
You were made to love me
And I was made to love you.
Keep your arms around me,
Lose yourself completely,
Make it last forever.

I can see the Island
Shining there before us.
Now we're getting closer
Just keep your arms around me.
Come my love...
We're there.

The case of the missing shopping bag

Being the one to go to market and prepare our daily meals at home is quite a challenge. I have to think of our menu for the week, plan the budget and then buy the necessary food items i need to make that menu a reality. Being a self-proclaimed "expert" cook helps a lot. (hahahaha).

Although it was market day yesterday, i decided to forego my usual trip to the Marikina Market Mall and went instead to SaveMore Supermarket at Riverbanks Mall. The supermarket was chocful of people, being a Sunday. I had to fight my way through the chicken section just to get some fresh chicken breast fillets. Then it was off to the canned goods section for the breakfast goodies and then to Monterey's for the meats. (I found out that my "suki", mang romy, sells his meats a lot cheaper, so i made a mental note to buy all my meats at Mang Romy's instead of Monterey's).

I bought some packed veggies for the "inabraw" or "dinengdeng" which my mom used to make for us for dinner (a dish i can never perfect, but it tastes good just the same). I added some fresh mushrooms and some squash. I also bought some cleaning items for the zendo to be used by our cleaning lady this coming Saturday. I then went to the check out counter, paid for everything, did a little "personal shopping" (a little sunday leisure time for myself) and went home.

I dropped by the Zendo to drop off the cleaning items, but was surprised to see that i had one shopping bag of items missing. I panicked! i double-checked the trunk to see if i just missed seeing it, but it wan't there! Then it dawned on me: i thought i might have left it in one of the shops i visited (i went to a gadget shop to buy speakers for my mp3 player and a cute little tripod for my digital camera). So poor little me had to go back to the mall, pay 20 pesos for the parking and find a good parking space that isn't a million miles away from the mall entrance.

My first instinct was to the gadget shop to ask if i left a bag of industrial strength cleaners in their shop. I got a negative answer, aside from the incredulous look the sales lady gave me. I decided to go to the customer service area of the supermarket, and as i was approaching the counter, I felt my heart beat fast. I was thinking "what if the items are not there?" The items are worth a little over five hundred pesos and if i lost it, i would have to shell out 500 bucks for those items! I went straight to the customer service counter, spoke to the representative, and i showed them my receipt, and to my surprise they said my shopping bag was indeed with them! What a relief!

I went back to the Zendo and dropped the items off, then went home. I felt relieved that i was able to recover the items and decided to treat myself to some coke light. With that, a great weight was lifted from my chest.

Kuan Yin: Compassionate Saviouress

I am writing this piece as a backgrounder for those asking about Gentle Gwan Yin. I first encoutnered the story of Kuan Yin (Gwan Yin) in "Tales of a Chinese Grandmother", a book by Frances Carpenter. The content hereinafter is from zennun12_8 of Photo of Kuan Yin on the left is owned by Rodel Banares.


There is still much scholarly debate regarding the origin of devotion to the female Bodhisattva Kuan Yin (also know as Quan Shi Yin and Kwan Yin). Quan means to inquire or look deeply into, Shi means the world of people, or generations, Yin means cries. The Boddhisatva of Compassion was inquiring into the suffering (cries) that has come down the generations. Kuan Yin is considered to be the feminine form of Avalokitesvara(Sanskrit), the bodhisattva of compassion of Indian Buddhism whose worship was introduced into China in the third century.

Scholars believe that the Buddhist monk and translator Kumarajiva was the first to refer to the female form of Kuan Yin in his Chinese translation of the Lotus Sutra in 406 A.D. Of the thirty-three appearances of the bodhisattva referred to in his translation, seven are female. (Devoted Chinese and Japanese Buddhists have since come to associate the number thirty-three with Kuan Yin.)

Although Kuan Yin was still being portrayed as a male as late as the tenth century, with the introduction of Tantric Buddhism into China in the eighth century during the T'ang Dynasty, the image of the celestial bodhisattva as a beautiful white-robed goddess was predominant and the devotional cult surrounding her became increasingly popular. By the ninth century there was a statue of Kuan Yin in every Buddhist monastery in China.

Despite the controversy over the origins of Kuan Yin as a feminine being, the depiction of a bodhisattva as both 'god' and 'goddess' is not inconsistent with Buddhist doctrine. The scriptures explain that a bodhisattva has the power to embody in any form--male, female, child, even animal�depending on the type of being he is seeking to save. As the Lotus Sutra relates, the bodhisattva Kuan Shih Yin, "by resort to a variety of shapes, travels in the world, conveying the beings to salvation."

The twelfth-century legend of the Buddhist saint Miao Shan, the Chinese princess who lived in about 700 B.C. and is widely believed to have been Kuan Yin, reinforced the image of the bodhisattva as a female. During the twelfth century Buddhist monks settled on P'u-t'o Shan--the sacred island-mountain in the Chusan Archipelago off the coast of Chekiang where Miao Shan is said to have lived for nine years, healing and saving sailors from shipwreck--and devotion to Kuan Yin spread throughout northern China.

This picturesque island became the chief center of worship of the compassionate Saviouress; crowds of pilgrims would journey from the remotest places in China and even from Manchuria, Mongolia and Tibet to attend stately services there. At one time there were more than a hundred temples on the island and over one thousand monks. The lore surrounding P'u-t'o island recounts numerous appearances and miracles performed by Kuan Yin, who, it is believed, reveals herself to the faithful in a certain cave on the island.

In the Pure Land sect of Buddhism, Kuan Yin forms part of a ruling triad that is often depicted in temples and is a popular theme in Buddhist art. In the center is the Buddha of Boundless Light, Amitabha (Chinese, A-mi-t'o Fo; Japanese, Amida). To his right is the bodhisattva of strength or power, Mahasthamaprapta, and to his left is Kuan Yin, personifying his endless mercy.

In Buddhist theology Kuan Yin is sometimes depicted as the captain of the "Bark of Salvation," guiding souls to Amitabha's Western Paradise, or Pure Land--the land of bliss where souls may be reborn to receive continued instruction toward the goal of enlightenment and perfection. The journey to Pure Land is frequently represented in woodcuts showing boats full of Amitabha's followers under Kuan Yin's captainship.

Amitabha, a beloved figure in the eyes of Buddhists desiring to be reborn in his Western Paradise and to obtain freedom from the wheel of rebirth, is said to be, in a mystical or spiritual sense, the father of Kuan Yin. Legends of the Mahayana School recount that Avalokitesvara was 'born' from a ray of white light which Amitabha emitted from his right eye as he was lost in ecstasy.

Thus Avalokitesvara, or Kuan Yin, is regarded as the "reflex" of Amitabha�a further emanation or embodiment of Karuna (compassion), the quality which Amitabha himself embodies in the highest sense. Many figures of Kuan Yin can be identified by the presence of a small image of Amitabha in her crown. It is believed that as the merciful redemptress Kuan Yin expresses Amitabha's compassion in a more direct and personal way and prayers to her are answered more quickly.

The iconography of Kuan Yin depicts her in many forms, each one revealing a unique aspect of her merciful presence. As the sublime Goddess of Mercy whose beauty, grace and compassion have come to represent the ideal of womanhood in the East, she is frequently portrayed as a slender woman in flowing white robes who carries in her left hand a white lotus, symbol of purity. Ornaments may adorn her form, symbolizing her attainment as a bodhisattva, or she may be pictured without them as a sign of her great virtue.

Kuan Yin's presence is widespread through her images as the "bestower of children" which are found in homes and temples. A great white veil covers her entire form and she may be seated on a lotus. She is often portrayed with a child in her arms, near her feet, or on her knees, or with several children about her. In this role, she is also referred to as the "white-robed honored one." Sometimes to her right and left are her two attendants, Shan-ts�ai Tung-tsi, the "young man of excellent capacities," and Lung-wang Nu, the "daughter of the Dragon-king."

Kuan Yin is also known as patron bodhisattva of P'u-t'o Shan, mistress of the Southern Sea and patroness of fishermen. As such she is shown crossing the sea seated or standing on a lotus or with her feet on the head of a dragon.

Like Avalokitesvara she is also depicted with a thousand arms and varying numbers of eyes, hands and heads, sometimes with an eye in the palm of each hand, and is commonly called "the thousand-arms, thousand-eyes" bodhisattva. In this form she represents the omnipresent mother, looking in all directions simultaneously, sensing the afflictions of humanity and extending her many arms to alleviate them with infinite expressions of her mercy.

Symbols characteristically associated with Kuan Yin are a willow branch, with which she sprinkles the divine nectar of life; a precious vase symbolizing the nectar of compassion and wisdom, the hallmarks of a bodhisattva; a dove, representing fecundity; a book or scroll of prayers which she holds in her hand, representing the dharma (teaching) of the Buddha or the sutra (Buddhist text) which Miao Shan is said to have constantly recited; and a rosary adorning her neck with which she calls upon the Buddhas for succor.

Images of Avalokitesvara, thus then Kuan Yin, is often shown holding a rosary; describing being born with a rosary in one hand --- not unlike a similar story oft repeated regarding the contemporary Japanese Zen master Yasutani Hakuun Roshi --- and a white lotus in the other. It is taught that the beads represent all living beings and the turning of the beads symbolizes that Avalokitesvara is leading them out of their state of misery and repeated rounds of rebirth into Nirvana.

Today Kuan Yin is worshipped by Taoists as well as Mahayana Buddhists--especially in Taiwan, Japan, Korea and once again in her homeland of China, where the practice of Buddhism had been suppressed by the Communists during the Cultural Revolution (1966-69). She is the protectress of women, sailors, merchants, craftsmen, and those under criminal prosecution, and is invoked particularly by those desiring progeny. Beloved as a mother figure and divine mediatrix who is very close to the daily affairs of her devotees, Kuan Yin's role as Buddhist Madonna has been compared to that of Mary the mother of Jesus in the West.

There is an implicit trust in Kuan Yin's saving grace and healing powers. Many believe that even the simple recitation of her name will bring her instantly to the scene. One of the most famous texts associated with the bodhisattva, the ancient Lotus Sutra whose twenty-fifth chapter, dedicated to Kuan Yin, is known as the "Kuan Yin sutra," describes thirteen cases of impending disaster--from shipwreck to fire, imprisonment, robbers, demons, fatal poisons and karmic woes--in which the devotee will be rescued if his thoughts dwell on the power of Kuan Yin. The text is recited many times daily by those who wish to receive the benefits it promises.

Devotees also invoke the bodhisattva's power and merciful intercession with the mantra OM MANI PADME HUM-- "Hail to the jewel in the lotus!" or, as it has also been interpreted, "Hail to Avalokitesvara, who is the jewel in the heart of the lotus of the devotee's heart!" Throughout Tibet and Ladakh, Buddhists have inscribed OM MANI PADME HUM on flat prayer stones called "mani-stones" as votive offerings in praise of Avalokitesvara. Thousands of these stones have been used to build mani-walls that line the roads entering villages and monasteries.

It is believed that Kuan Yin frequently appears in the sky or on the waves to save those who call upon her when in danger. Personal stories can be heard in Taiwan, for instance, from those who report that during World War II when the United States bombed the Japanese-occupied Taiwan, she appeared in the sky as a young maiden, catching the bombs and covering them with her white garments so they would not explode.

Thus altars dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy are found everywhere--shops, restaurants, even taxicab dashboards. In the home she is worshipped with the traditional "pai pai," a prayer ritual using incense, as well as the use of prayer charts--sheets of paper designed with pictures of Kuan Yin, lotus flowers, or pagodas and outlined with hundreds of little circles. With each set of prayers recited or sutras read in a novena for a relative, friend, or oneself, another circle is filled in. This chart has been described as a "Ship of Salvation" whereby departed souls are saved from the dangers of hell and the faithful safely conveyed to Amitabha's heaven not unlike the Cumeaean Sibyl and her golden bough in Greek mythology.

In addition to elaborate services with litanies and prayers, devotion to Kuan Yin is expressed in the popular literature of the people in poems and hymns of praise.

Devout followers of Kuan Yin may frequent local temples and make pilgrimages to larger temples on important occasions or when they are burdened with a special problem. The three yearly festivals held in her honor are on the nineteenth day of the second month (celebrated as her birthday), of the sixth month, and of the ninth month based on the Chinese lunar calendar.

In the tradition of the Great White Brotherhood Kuan Yin is known as the Ascended Lady Master who bears the office and title of "Goddess of Mercy" because she ensouls the God qualities of the law of mercy, compassion and forgiveness. She had numerous embodiments prior to her ascension thousands of years ago and has taken the vow of the bodhisattva to teach the unascended children of God how to balance their karma and fulfill their divine plan by loving service to life and the application of the violet flame through the science of the spoken Word.

Kuan Yin preceded the Ascended Master Saint Germain as Chohan (Lord) of the Seventh Ray of Freedom, Transmutation, Mercy and Justice and she is one of seven Ascended Masters who serve on the Karmic Board, a council of justice that mediates the karma of earth's evolutions--dispensing opportunity, mercy and the true and righteous judgments of the Lord to each lifestream on earth. She is hierarch of the etheric Temple of Mercy over Peking, China, where she focuses the light of the Divine Mother on behalf of the children of the ancient land of China, the souls of humanity, and the sons and daughters of God.

Vegetarian Lunch at the Zendo

I always look forward to the regular Sunday sits with the Zen Center Philippines Sangha at the Marikina Zendo. Juju Tan was our Jikijitsu and it was good to see familiar faces and new ones as well in the zendo. We were joined for the first time by the new batch of orientees. Starting last Sunday, they will join us for zazen until the end of their orientation.

It was an overcast Sunday and the weather was not as warm as it was the past few days, which made it an "ideal sitting weather". We were joined by Irene Araneta and Alfred Tong, and teisho was delviered by Carmen Sensei.

We thought there would be no lunch, but Carmen Sensei surprised us all when we went to the mess hall. She had Norma, her wonderful, wonderful cook, make her exquisite squash soup and her equally delectable spinach lasagna. The toasted herbed bread was a perfect match to the lasagna, and the turon was very good as well.

In keeping with tradition, the orientees were introduced to the rest of the sangha. It was a fun lunch, with lots of good food and equally good company.

It was a very good vegetarian lunch and an even better Sunday aqt the Zendo.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008



Pinoy food chain a big hit in Indonesia

Chowking logo

If brands like McDonalds and Starbucks can make it big in the Philippines, there is no reason why Filipino companies can't find similar success in other countries.

This is the philosophy behind the aggressive moves of a growing number of local firms to make serious inroads in foreign markets.

One of these is Chowking, the market leader in the Chinese food segment of the quick service restaurant business and a unit of the Jollibee group of companies.

It put up its first branch outside the Philippines in West Covina, United States in 1997. Since then, the network has grown to 12 in the United States, seven in the United Arab Emirates and five in Indonesia.

Four of these were opened just last month--Las Vegas, Abu Dhabi, Kelapa Gading and Karawaci in Jakarta.

Chowking chief executive officer Rafael Dela Rosa says that by the end of the year, Chowking will have six branches in Indonesia, eight in the United Arab Emirates and 13 in the United States, complementing Chowking's local branch network, which has reached 367 as of end-May.

"We are looking to add about six more branches in Indonesia, the Middle East and the United States in the near term," he says.

Chowking is pursuing the expansion of its branches in these countries while preparing to eventually penetrate the massive market of India.

Dela Rosa says going into foreign markets takes more than just putting up a replica of local branches, successful as they are in bringing in customers.

Before the branch in Indonesia was set up, for instance, two years were spent on research and kitchen tests to give Chowking a better idea of what the market wanted.

What's good for Filipinos is not always good for the Indonesians who prefer more spicy food.

Chowking in Indonesia, thus, serves its Chicken Supreme with the Indonesians' traditional sambal sauce. The mixed rice and mami dishes also have a different taste profile to suit the Indonesians' preference.

Chowking dimsum

And because Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim country, Chowking's chopsuey has fish balls instead of pork.

The Indonesians also preferred to have their noodles served separately from the soup stock, not like in the Philippines where the noodles and soup are eaten from just one bowl.

"These are the changes that are dictated by the culture and we have to be sensitive to that," Dela Rosa says.

Dela Rosa says the changes were not limited to just the menu. Small but significant modifications were also done to the look and feel of the store.

In Indonesia, for example, Chowking did away with the bright lights and the plastic chairs because the Indonesians considered Chowking more as a casual dining restaurant and not a fast food joint.

So the Chowking branches there feature faux leather seats, warm lights and more seats were placed near the walls because the Indonesians valued privacy.

Dela Rosa says the plan is to make international operations account for half of Chowking's total sales in five years, and then exceed the sales of the local network in 10 years, with Chowking ending up one of top two players in the Chinese quick service restaurant segment in each market.

If the plan falls into place, it may not take too long before the rest of the world literally get a taste of what the Philippines can offer.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Pinoy Breakfasts

As an avid, self-proclaimed expert cook, I have searched for unique pinoy breakfasts that might eventually find a place alongside the standard sinangag (or pandesal) with processed food (your choice of sausages, ham, corned beef, embutido etc) with fried egg. Everywhere i go, it is always the same breakfast fare.

I encountered some variations in La Union and in Albay. In my mom's town of Aringay, we usually have Igado for breakfast, along with plain steamed rice and fresh mushroom soup (with bagoong isda and ampalaya leaves). In Albay, we have what we call "new look", a variation of the usual daing which i only see in Albay. It is served with sinalamog or day-old cooked rice cooked in pork fat. Another breakfast variation is the day-old inun-on or sinaing na isda (usually yellow fin or tulingan). The inun-on is usually served at dinner time, and whatever is left is fried in hot oil for breakfast. An alternative to the sinalamog rice is freshly cooked rice smothered inf resh coconut milk or carabao milk (yummy).

But the most fulfilling breakfast, although not necesarily pinoy, is the one i had in a Subic hotel a couple of years back. The hotel boasts of its famous Aussie breakfast, consisting of a thick slice of steak, 2 fried eggs, bacon, ham and their version of french toast, plus the usual sliced tomatoes for decoration. It's fat overload, i tell you!

In my memory, my Pinoy Breakfast (the ones my mom used to prepare for the family) varies from scrambled egg with tomatoes, scrambled eggs with mashed sardines, tinned sardines with philippine lemon, rock salt and freshly sliced native onions. Sometimes, my mom would serve us dilis with vinegar and local chili, home-made corned beef (yes, from scratch!), sauted canned tuna and whatever my mother can manage to serve at short notice. Then there's the very simple tapang batangas which she would marinate the night before and serve in the morning. Breakfast was definitely something to look forward to in our family. aysus!

Ikaw, what's your usual or most unique breakfast? Share mo naman!

Monday, April 14, 2008

In-House Magazine

I recently undertook a project with the Zen Center Philippines to create a mini-publications office tasked with publishing in-house pamphlets and brochures for those wishing to know more about the zen center. Another project we undertook is an in-house magazine which we launched over the weekend. Though the newsletter was still under the experimental stage, it wa met with enthusiasm anf support by the members of the ZCP. We initially intended to publish everything in full color, but the cost is too expensive so we settled with grayscale. the photo is what the in-house magazine looks like in full color.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Homphobia has no place in a Christian Country

Gay priest Fr. Richard Mickley and his organization Order of Saint Aelred was kicked out by his HOMOPHOBIC landlord in Quezon City, after the landlord's preachy preachy Christians convinced him to evict the gay priest. He needs to move the Order of Saint Aelred to a more expensive house... PLEASE HELP POOR VICTIMS OF HOMOPHOBIA by sending him as little as 100 pesos, as if that will do anything, but do it just the same. American Father Richard has donated his life pensions as a US serviceman to help Filipino gays and lesbians in the closet survive for over 15 years in Manila .... NOW IT IS THE TURN OF THE FILIPINOS to help him as he is already very old and sickly.

The letter below (with contact addresses) is the sad proof of homophobia that only brave souls like Fr. Richard is willing to share to give proof to the fact that HOMOPHOBIA IS ALIVE AND WELL IN THE PHILIPPINES despite all efforts even by gays and lesbians themselves to hide the incidents that they themselves experience.

From Fr. Richard:

You have no doubt heard that I have been evicted for "doing those same sex marriages" by our born-again preacher bigotted landowner. He knew before I moved in, and we discussed it. But his fellow bigots in his church convinced him to not let a sinner stay in his property. I told him Jesus even ate with sinners (which I am not asking him to do). He said, "It's one thing to commit a sin and repent; it's another thing to persist in living in sin."

So that's another moving trauma and expense so soon. I have helped so many people in similar situations. I never dreamed it would happen to me -- in my advanced age. I have told people that I need a place big enough (with an extra large room) to house the George DeCarlo-Ryan Reyes LGBT Library of the Philippines. Friends have helped me find a rather expensive place which is large enough. George and Ryan will take custody of the library when they (move) here in the next few years. Some of my friends want to get 1000 LGBT to come here and stage a noise barrage for my friendly landowner. I told him that, and we negotiated that he may give me back my deposit in cash (to keep the peace) if he rents this place or another unit that is vacant.

But moving is a very large expense. I am just hoping that a large number of our friends can spare P100 each, a few pesos here and there to add up to enough to cover the cost of moving, the truck and the movers. P100 from 10 people is already P1000. In the new place we can have more regular meetings (which have been forbidden here). Can you ask a few people to help out with P100 each, but no noise barrage, -- yet.

In Friendship, Richard

-- "God is Friendship." (St. Aelred, 1110-1167)
--Fr. Richard R. Mickley, O.S.Ae., Ph.D.Abbo
tThe Order of St. AelredSt. Aelred Friendship Society
13 Maginoo StreetBarangay Pinyahan, Quezon City1100
Metro Manila, Philippines

Mobile: 63 920 9034909




Fr. Richard's personal blog:

Tony Perlas

Though i was not fortunate enough to have gotten to know the enigmatic Dr. Antonio Perlas, having joined the Zen Center for Oriental Spirituality years after his death, i still remain awed by the way people still speak of him. When i joined the Zen Center and got the chance to work for them, i found a copy of the book "The Bright Field", a book written by colleagues, friends and family of Dr. Antonio "Tony" Perlas after he died, as a tribute to the man.

Dr. Perlas may not be known to many of you readers, but in the medical and psychiatrict profession, he is quite popular. He was the preferred consultant of Secretaries of Health since 1986, a distinction that reflects the esteem in which his colleagues regarded him with. After a psychiatrict fellowship at the reknowned Johns Hopkins in the United States, he returned to Manila as Chairman of the UP College of Medicine's Departnment of Psychiatry.

His love for his fellow countrymen can be seen the numerous projects he either organized or joined. His PSYCHOSOCIAL ISSUES IN DISASTERS became part of the technical monograph of the inter-agency committee for documenting and establishing a database on the July 1990 earthquake, in line with his brainchild, the National Program for Mental Health. His efforts led to the incorporation of pyschiatrict evaluation for victims of natural calamaties in the programs of the NDCC.

In the Zen Center, Dr. Perlas was known for his contagious laughter, but more famous for his strength. Even when he was already stricken with cancer, the most painful kind as i was told, he would still attend the Sunday zazenkai, and he would appear to be at peace. And when any member of the sangha would mention Tony Perlas, it would always be filled with love, longing, laughter... such is the effect he had on others. In the words of one his students, he can make you feel you are his best student, a fact that every one of his students agre on.

Today, even when he has gone to his rest, his laughter continues to echo in the halls of the Marikina Zendo. His smile and his enthusiasm, his discipline for the practice is reflected in every student of his, and even in those whose lives he has touched, directly or indirectly.

Such is the power of Dr. Tony Perlas, who continues to touch lives years after he went into the depth of Great Peace.

Tony Sensei, Gassho.

Tony Perlas

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

A Flair for the Dramatic

You have to hand it to our opposition senators. They do have flair for the dramatic. Imagine, so much fanfare in filing a Motion for Reconsideration! I wonder how much the senators spent to make the banners, get some people to walk with them, and then of course, you have to feed the people who walked with you. This sort of activity and fanfare is reminiscent of the Gay Pride Parades in Malate, which makes me wonder if some of our senators are bit on the "pink" side. And this isn't the end of it. We aren't even through wit the senate probe on ZTE, another probe is being planned by Senator Lacson concerning the "swine scam". Wow! No wonder Oscar Cruz loves the Senate! This screams of withchunt, and which group is famous for witch hunts? Why, the catholic church, of course! Bishop Cruz should become Pope and lead another Crusade. hahahahahaha. That fits his character snugly. Hmmm.. come to think of it, Obispo Cruz also has a flair for the dramatic... i wonder if....

Monday, April 07, 2008

Culture of Hate from the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines

It seems ironic that a Catholic Redemptorist Priest is biking around Luzon deploring the alleged "culture of death" of the Arroyo Administration. It is ironic because this particular priest should be more concerned about the culture of hate being circulated by some members of the Clergy. Hate that is being fed to millions of Catholic Youth under the pretense of "National Morals". Hate that has caused a great division between Filipinos. Hate that has penetrated the misison of the Catholic Church of Evangelization.

This Culutre of Hate is very evident in Bishop Oscar Cruz, who makes his hatred known all over media. This type of hate is now being copied by blind catholic faithful who think that Cruz is right. Cruz's blind anger against Gloria Arroyo has made him weak and a liability to the Roman Catholic Church. Christ's message of lvoe and peace is lost on Bishop Cruz, who prefers to bully the government by calling it names and throwing baseless accusations and using the pulpti to demonize his perceived enemies.

This culture of hate, being preached by Anti-Government priests is going to continue because no authority has taken action to prevent the use of the pulpit, the pulit of the Church established by Jesus Christ, to bismirch people's reputations without foundation.

Monday, March 17, 2008

And the Excitement Continues!

The tell-all tale of Brian Gorrell is getting pretty exciting with the alleged "Gucci Gang" fighting back in their own "turfs". Tim Yap wrote a column in response to Brian's juicy blogs, and io heard, so did Celine Lopez (but many are discouraging me from reading it as it is pretty long a boring, according to some).

I really feel sorry for Brian. He is a sick man who had his heart and his bank book broken. True or not, the allegations versus Mr. Montano should be answered by him directly. If the allegations of Brian are true, then DJ should pay up.

You should read the comments of pinoys here and abroad against Tim Yap and the Gucci gang. I mean, these are supposed to be "respectable" members of society, not the coke-snorting group depicted in the now-popular blog of Brian.

The blog now has copies of receipts sent by Brian (or members of his family) to DJ via western Union. True, unless these are taken to court, they are inadmissible, but let's face it. The court of public opinion is a far better venue for Brian that any Philippine Court ever will be.

Many are now obsessed with the blog, which has all the elements of a pinoy telenovela: love, heartache, deceit, addiction, and more, and everyone is awaiting Brian's next juicy installment.

Glimpse of Zen (2)

for those who missed our Glimpse of Zen (introduction to zen meditation) on March 8, there will be another glimpse on march 29, 2 to 5 pm at the zen center for oriental spirituality philippines at 31 st. claire st. cor. st. catherine st., rpovident village, marikina city.

pls. call me at 9331796 (rodel) for details or visit our website at

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Lifestyles of the Obscenely Rich and Famous (the High-Society Scandal of the year!)

People who go online are all agog about the latest and juiciest scandal to rock the Metro! The DJ Montano Scandal is hitting the blog community like a tsunami, with big-name personalities being dragged into shocking revelations.

The controversial blog,, authored by Brian Gorell, has received a million hits, according to one blogger's estimate. Although the claims are primarily unsubstantiated, the promise of the blogger to reveal all documents and even Western Union receipts to back his claim is throwing people into a frenzy.

That ever popular and ultra-controversial venue of yuppie high society, Embassy, has been dragged into the fray with accusations of cocaine snorting inside Embassy itself. Of course, this is merely a one-sided accusation, but tsizmosos are already having a field day.

With so many high-society people mentione din the very revealing blog (i think the author calls them the Gucci Gang), more and more people will be attracted to his site.

I am not saying everything written there is gospel truth, but i have to admit it makes for one intersting, and provocative read.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Introduction to Zen

The Zen Center for Oriental Spirituality in the Philippines (Zen Center Phil.) will be holding an introduction to Zen at the Marikina Zendo, 31 St. Claire corner St. Katherine St., Provident Village, Marikina City) this Saturday, March 8, 2008 at 2:00 to 4:00 pm.

For a copy of the map, please visit or call rodel at 933-17-96.

We hope to see you there.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Somebody Give Her some Duct Tape!

Warning: I am not very mean, but the following blog is chock-full of meanness. Reader Discretion is Advised.

I thought my friends were joking when they said Gretchen Baretto has an album coming out. Then this afternoon, i heard her sing (poor me was blogging while my niece was watching Wowowee). Where she got the notion that she can sing is beyond me. She's got the singing prowess of a hippo (no offense to the hippo). Her love song (I think the title is "Please Don't Ask Me") really made me cry (well, cringe is the more appropriate verb). To top off her performance, Willie Revillame came out and praised her singing to high heavens! My God! They should have a mutual admiration club for all the praises they bestowed on her, and vice versa. I hate to be mean, but i heard the neighbor's cat sing better than her. Gretchen, forget about singing. I mean, when Frank Sinatra sings ahead of the orchestra, that's his style. When Gretchen sings ahead of the pre-recorded background music, that's just plain lack of talent. Leave the singing to those that have talent, sweetheart. I am no Simon Cowell, but i think we have another Reynaldo Lapuz in the making. Oooops. Sorry Rey. I didn't mean to insult you by comparing you to her. :)

If you hate someone so badly, send him or her the gift of nausea. Send him/her a Gretchen Baretto Album Today. Oh how unbecoming of me... :)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Disregard for the Safety of Others

The crew of Maalala Mo Kaya has been at it since 6:00 am setting up and getting ready for this afternoon's shoot. They chose the house of one of my neighbors as the setting for one of their episodes. I can understand the need for huge generator trucks and everything, and that's okay. What really got me reeling was how they parked these big bulky vehicles. One of them chose to park diagonally at the corner of St. Therese and St. Rita. Now all cars going out of St. Rita don't know if a speeding car is on a head-on collission since the truck is blocking the view and, more importantly, half the street. I am concerned since this is the usual route of 3 school buses. I asked for the driver so he can move it, but no one seemed to care. I am disappointed that this show -- produced by ABS-CBN who claims to be on the up-and-up when it comes to following rules-- has shown little respect for the safety of others.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


I am writing this as tribute to Orly Punzalan, mentor, friend, veteran broadcaster and second father, who marked his 3rd Death Anniversary on January 7, 2008. Photos by Lourdes Valerie Handumon

In our lives, there are people who will definitely leave a mark in our hearts and minds. One such person is Orly Punzalan.

I will never forget the first time I met Orly Punzalan. Our Dean, Doctor Amelita Gaerlan told us that our Broadcasting Professor was waiting for us at the conference hall. Being a member of She told us to be very nice because our professor was the famous Orly Punzalan. Of course i knew who Orly was, but my classmates didn't. They only know him as the father of actress Princess Punzalan. Orly Punzalan, or Tatang, as we fondly call him, was more than that.

Tatang was one of the original Radyo Patrol reporters during a time when radio was more popular than television. He was a trained radio man, he has one of the most sought-after voices on radio at the time, and he was the manager of Radio Veritas Asia as well as the domestic news director of Radio Vertias Philippines during the pre- and post- Martial law era. He was also the first person to broadcast freely over Channel 4 during the EDSA revolution. He had a calm but solid voice and he talked very clearly during our lessons with him. He directed our first news program at the newly constructed Television Studio of Angelicum College.

Tatang was very encouraging as well. When i was offered by the Rector of Angelicum to be acting head of their PR office (I was in second or third year college then), I asked him if i should take on such a big responsibility. He told me to go for it. He said that, after all, i practically ran the office when my former boss went AWOL. He was the one who told me not to be afraid of taking on big responsibilities. Because of his encouragement, i became head of the PR Office of Angelicum and remained so for 8 years. From then on, it was in my office where we held most of our classes (we were a small class and my office's conference table was big enough to accommodate us).

For the rest of the school year, we got to know Tatang's family as well. We used to have lunch at their cantina near Siena College in Quezon City. and it was there that we met his wife Tita Baby and daughter Meg. Meg was then studying at the Collegio de Santa Rosa in Makati. Tatang's family was very accommodating, so we didin't pass up on his invitation to visit their home in Cavite. It was well worth the trip. We were received very warmly and we stayed until the wee hours. This, I think, solidified our friendship and admiration for Tatang and his family.

Tatang also had a radio program on Radyo Vertias then. Some of his students, including myself, were fortunate to have been "regular guests" of his show "Touching Lives". I remember that during the Edsa Tres march towards Malacanang, my friend Nigel and I were reporting for Veritas over the phone about the happenings in Mendiola. This was a couple of hours before the mayhem began.

Years passed, and our ties with Tatang and his family remained strong. The time he had a heart attack came as a shock to us. I had lost my father to lung cancer just months before Tatang passed away on January 7, 2005. Both Tatang and my father died at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute. We went to his wake and we delivered our eulogies. Tatang was like a second father to most of our barkada, and his passing has left us with a void in our hearts.

To this day, I cannot forget the day Tatang came and touched our lives. He was more than just a great professor, but he was more importantly a good father to his children, a loving husband to his wife, and a patient mentor to all of us. I remain in touch with his family because they are now a part of mine. Tatang, wherever you are, Salamat, Maraming Salamat.

>Click here< for sa feature on Tatang Orly in "The Lance" (Letran Publications)


Orly Punzalan signs off; 70.

(From Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Byline: Marinel R. Cruz

VETERAN broadcast journalist Orlando "Orly" Punzalan, father of dramatic actress Princess, died of cardiac arrest on Friday at the National Kidney Institute. He was 70.

Punzalan was brought to the hospital on Jan. 6 after he complained of severe chest pains the night before, according to his son Paolo.

"It turned out he had minor heart attacks days before," Paolo told the Inquirer in a phone interview. "He probably didn't notice, or just ignored them. The doctor said a blockage in his arteries had caused the attacks."

One such attack on Thursday was particularly damaging, said Paolo. "This enlarged his heart, and caused two-thirds of it to stop functioning."

The last one, yesterday at 11:55 a.m., killed Punzalan.

Paolo and Princess were Punzalan's children with the late broadcaster and actress Helen Vela.

Punzalan's remains lie at the Loyola Chapel in Guadalupe, Makati.

Interment will be on Tuesday at the Manila Memorial Park in Paranaque City.