Saturday, October 20, 2007

Glorietta 2 Blast: Official Statement from the Ayala Group


At around 1:30 pm, there was an explosion which, from preliminary
investigations conducted by the PNP, seems to have originated outside
of Glorietta 2. As of this bulletin (4:30 pm), police authorities are
still confirming the nature and cause of the explosion. Both the
Glorietta 2 atrium and delivery bay were damaged by the explosion.

Initial reports indicate 45 injured persons were brought to Makati
Medical Center, 25 injured to Ospital ng Makati. There are confirmed 8
deaths. Those injured are currently being given utmost care and proper
medical treatment.

The areas are now being secured and surveyed to ensure the buildings'
structural integrity and safety. Normal operations will resume as soon
as the necessary security and safety clearances from concerned
agencies are given.

Jim Ayala, President of Ayala Land issued the following statement: "We
are extremely saddened by this incident. We would like to assure the
public that we are taking all possible measures to ensure that all
affected by this incident will be attended to with maximum care."

For any further questions, please refer to the following Ayala Land personnel:

For all media inquiries: Alfie Reyes, Corporate Spokesman – 0917-807-7296
Jan Bengzon, Head, External Affairs
– 0917-840-5552

For all tenant inquiries: Myrna Fernandez, Ayala Malls Group – 0917-839-8095
Pam Perez, Ayala Malls Group – 0917-881-1009

This email was sent to our yahoogroup, the Ayala Young Leaders Alliance's, by Ayala Foundation's Sol Delantar, AYLC alumna and now program manager of the congress. It was only tonight that I was able to read it but it reached my inbox Addon the fateful day itself, yesterday Friday, October 19, 2007 6:21:10 PM. It goes to show that the Ayala Group has been very responsible, sensitive, and proactive in handling this crisis. Fernando Zobel even made a personal visit to the site just a few hours after the bombing. I believe this group will never turn away from their responsibilities - and in fact, will even go an extra mile for the victims and all those affected by this incident. Let's also pray for them and all those who have been working since yesterday just to be able to extend necessary assistance to the victims, solve this case, bring the perpetrators to justice, and ensure our safety/security and that of the entire country.

Lest we forget however, let's keep in mind that there has also been a similar bombing incident in Pakistan that killed 120 people just recently.

Let's also pray for all the victims there.

Goodnight everyone. And be safe...

Glorietta Blast: Full Statement of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

Mga minamahal kong kababayan,

Kaninang 1:30 ng hapon ang siyudad ng Makati ay niyanig ng isang malakas na pagsabog. Taliwas sa inisyal na imbestigasyon, lumalabas na ito ay hindi nagmula sa pagsabog ng tangke ng LPG. Lumalabas na mas malamang na ito ay dulot ng isang pampasabog.

We assure everyone that a full blown investigation is now underway. The Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines are on highest alert and are fielding an additional 2,000 personnel to secure our public places and to prevent a possible similar occurrence.

I warn those who seek to destabilize our government not to exploit this incident for their selfish political motives.

This is the time for all of us to unite. We urge all sectors to remain vigilant as the government steps up security measures to protect our people.

Hinihikayat ko ang ating mga kababayan na maging mapagmatiyag habang nagpapatupad ang mga awtoridad ng mas mahigpit na seguridad sa mga pampublikong lugar para na rin sa kanilang sariling proteksyon. Sana ay maunawaan ng ating mga kababayan ang mga pag-iingat na ating isasagawa.

Ako ay lubhang nalulungkot sa pangyayaring ito at ipinapaabot ko ang aking taos-pusong pakikiramay sa pamilya ng mga nasawi. Ang mga kinatawan ng DSWD at National Disaster Coordinating Council ay kasalukuyang nakikipagugnayan sa mga biktima upang maipagkaloob sa kanila ang angkop na tulong.

Sama-sama po tayong manalangin at magtulungan para malampasan natin ang pagsubok na ito.

Glorietta 2 Blast: Actual videos, reports, more photos, firsthand accounts, casualty update, and latest news

This is a follow-up post
on my earlier posts here and here.

One of the earliest reports about the 10/19 attack hereunder from ANC, a cable news network owned by ABS-CBN:

Photos (of the MALL INTERIORS) sent by a concerned citizen to media outfits, particularly to ABS-CBN:
More photos here.

Then, the reports from TV Patrol, an evening news program:

AND finally, the ultimate hair-raisers - raw videos taken by persons who were there that very moment:

The last video was taken by a certain Miru Tamano Dianalan who actually escaped unimaginable danger by a hair's breadth:

Let's hear it from straight from the horse's mouth:

Here's a video that I took while on the way out of Glorietta 4. Please be patient while it loads. There's not much to see, but hearing the screams still brings chills to my spine.

I was walking near Jollibee Glorietta 4 when it happened. My back was turned to Glorietta 2, when I saw the window glass of Jollibee ripple and felt a shockwave pass through my chest. I thought one of the streamers in the Activity Center fell down or something, so I turned around. It was so surreal. I surveyed the Activity Center and everything was okay. People were walking around as if nothing happened... and then panic ensued. It was like I was in a movie set and the director suddenly yelled 'Action!'. A cloud of smoke seeped from Glorietta 2. People running away from the scene. Screaming. I knew something bad happened but my survival instinct wouldn't kick in. I knew I had to go out of the mall, but curiosity got the better of me. I was even actually contemplating about moving towards Glorietta 2 for a closer look. Better judgement kicked in, so I walked back towards the Glorietta 4 exit.

I couldn't resist not knowing what happened, so I walked outside Glorietta 4 towards Glorietta 2. They already cordoned off the road between Glorietta and Landmark, and I saw that EMT guys were trying to revive a man in a tattered gray shirt. I had to go around Landmark to get to Glorietta 2, and when I got there I knew that a bomb exploded. They were saying it was an LPG explosion, but it was too strong. Plus, the blast happened in the lobby of Glorietta 2 and there were no restaurants nearby.

The scary part is that I was at the blast site 10 minutes before the explosion. I came from Netopia in Park Square 1 where I printed something from my email.
Miru blogs here.


Meanwhile, somewhere in the blogosphere ---

A mother shares her own story and the lessons she learned from her own experience of the 10/19 attack:

...At that point, we didn't know what it was. For some reason though, I feared the worse. My friend, Maricar, asked me what happened and I just said "I think it was a bomb". I guess it was the screams that told me. We peered though the 3rd floor gym lobby and saw the security guard rolling down the steel partitions. Beyond, we could see thick clouds of smoke (we learned later was pulverized cement) billowing from inside the mall and the screams of terror became more audible. I heard the receptionist say the blast came from nearby Timezone. My God! The children! With that thought, I knew I had to focus and look after my own safety. It was a mother's instinct in me that suddenly took control of my every move-- I needed to be safe for my own children...

Complete post here.

Then, her historian son views the tragedy through his discipline and traces back the "history of the Glorietta 2 blast":

May 17, 2000 — A homemade explosive rocks the Glorietta Mall at 5:02 p.m., injuring 12 persons, mostly teenagers. The bomb was reportedly placed in front of a toilet beside a video arcade. The blast causes the collapse of the ceiling of the pedestrian bridge connecting Glorietta 3 to Park Square 2.

May 21, 2000 — A janitor is killed and 17 are injured when a bomb exploded inside a restroom in a cinema at the SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City.

Before dawn on May 27, 2000, the now defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force raids a community in Taguig and arrests 26 suspects in both the Glorietta and Megamall bombings...

Full article here.

Also, another firsthand account from a certain Haydee:

...I distinctly remember I was seating on the couch facing the Glorietta 2 side when I heard a big boom. Together with the big boom was an earth shattering like earthquake. Then in just a couple of seconds, I saw something fell from the ceiling. It was a big chunk but it looked like it didn't weigh much. Then everybody started running as fast as they could towards our direction...
Complete story here.

More firsthand accounts and UPDATE on the injured list and the death toll here.

...Charlie Nepomuceno, an employee at the Glorietta mall, said the powerful explosion appeared to have centered on an escalator.

"It left a deep crater at the foot of the escalator," he said. "It also ripped open the roof of the building. I saw a man thrown on to the roof who had lost a leg."...


Still, somewhere in the blogosphere ---

Conspiracy theories and other suspicions hover around.

Notes from the Peanut Gallery declares:

I cannot help but suspect that the government is creating terrible distractions to draw attention away from the latest Malacanang bribery scandal, where 190 congressmen and officials were handed out glossy bags of cash ranging from 200k-500k.
Read more of his sentiments here.

The Four-eyed Journal couldn't agree more and further asks:

..Or worse, it’s rehearsal of sorts for darker times to come. (read: pre-text for declaring martial law) I pray not...
Four-eyed has more to say here.

The Warrior Lawyer meanwhile inquires if the blast was a "wag the dog" situation and The Patsada Karajaw Nation asks: a diversionary tactics?

And then, there's Bicolano blogger/writer par excellence Gibbs Cadiz who was not so impressed with the security in one of the malls in Metro Manila even right after the bombing and despite reports of heightened security. And then he even adds:

The fact that a bomb would go off now, however, in the midst of a raging political conflagration, is another point to ponder. Two weeks ago it was talk of a new coup attempt, and now this. How convenient. Haven't we seen this script before?

And still
, somewhere in the blogosphere, bloggers called for everyone to offer prayers for the victims which I also did here - like Kevin Lee here, Allen here, and Pas here.

pas-la-truie says:

For all those people who have died in the Glorietta 2 bombing...
For all those who were injured in the Glorietta 2 bombing...
For all those who have lost someone in the Glorietta 2 bombing...
Know that I do care and my prayers are with all of you...
Know that in this world there are people who care.

Prayers for people like Anthony Arroyo who was just buying take-out food at the Luk Yuen restaurant when the explosion happened. Arroyo was planning to treat his friends for a send-off party. He was supposed to fly to Germany today to work as a seaman.

Prayers for people like the two females - and one more precious soul who has yet to see the world at that time and would never be able to, ever - whom Taxi driver Mario Em claimed to had just dropped off at the mall when the blast hurled them against his vehicle, killing them instantly. Mang Mario said he pulled one of the victims, who was pregnant, from underneath his car. Their sad tales and other stories here.

Prayers for all the dead and their relatives, many of whom like Arroyo's wife see such great loss a fatal blast that "simply shattered their dreams and literally turned them into dust."

Prayers for all those who may have survived the ordeal but have to live through the trauma caused by it.

Prayers for the victim's relatives and all those who, like this blogger, are affected by this very sad tragedy.


here are some of the hottest and latest news just off the wire:

  • Oakwood mutineer turned senator Trillanes faces probe from authorities for linking the government to the Glorietta bombing.

...The Muslim community in the Philippines condemns the bomb attack. It is the work of insane people...

  • Glorietta Mall Complex reopens except for damaged portion - with an assurance from Ayala Land, the mall's operator, through Mr. Jaime Ayala its CEO that the rest of the mall is safe. Ayala also stood by their security guards whom he said conduct daily drills; thus, no security lapse could had occurred. lapses at the Glorietta mall enabled suspected terrorists to drive an explosives-laden van to the premises and set it off near a row of shops, killing nine people and wounding scores of others...

  • President Arroyo, for her part, ordered the police and the military to field 2,000 more personnel in Metro Manila particularly in critical areas.

“We assure everyone that a full blown investigation is now underway. The PNP and the AFP are on highest alert and are fielding an additional 2,000 personnel to secure our public places and to prevent a possible similar occurrence,”

“We urge all sectors to remain vigilant as the government steps up security measures to protect our people,”

  • And warns:

“I warn those who seek to destabilize our government not to exploit this incident for their selfish political motives."

  • The Department of Tourism through Secretary Ace Durano assures all concerned that it still safe to travel to the Philippines and even claims that:

“We have called our offices abroad and we communicated with local travel agencies but so far we have no reports of cancellation of bookings,”

  • Also, there is a heightened security in and around the Ninoy Aquino International Airport after the bombing.

“Even while investigation of the blast is in progress, we have increased the alert level as a precautionary measure,” Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager and Airport Security Center chairman Alfonso Cusi said. “We do not want to be complacent.

“As an added measure, requests for access passes into the NAIA will be on a need basis only,” Cusi said. He urged airport users to report suspicious looking individuals or unusual occurrences within the NAIA.

Reports may be sent through text at 0917-8396242 (0917 TEXNAIA) or to the Office of the Assistant General Manager for Security at telephone number 833-3806 or to the Airport Security Center at 8771 727.

  • Senators led by Senate President Manuel Villar Jr., for their part, condemn "abominable act" and "call on the public to stay calm while exercising caution and following security measures".
  • Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Hermogenes Esperon said that Makati blast was a "terrorist attack" that could have been perpetrated by leftist, rightist, or extremist elements - and denied that the military has anything to do with it.

...Evidence collected from the Glorietta mall blast site indicates that the bomb "contained RDX, the main chemical component of C4," the police said in a report to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo....

Back in the blogosphere,
a very interesting discussion-cum-debate about the 10/19 Glorietta 2 attack heats up inside one of my favorite hang-out places, the Manuel L. Quezon III blogsite. Care to join the fray?

Sources: The "Blogosphere", youtube, The Philippine Daily Inquirer website, The Philippine Star website, ABS-CBN Interactive

Friday, October 19, 2007

Glorietta Blast: Images that we will never forget (updated)

This is the Glorietta we always love and certainly won't forget -- during ordinary, usually happy days. Oh, how Filipinos love to go malling! And see those many happy kids? The central lobby/atrium of Glorietta is very popular with children because there they can eat, play, and even romp to the hilt. We were like them before. Come to think of it, we remain to be them. Only soulless people could ever do something to harm those unsuspecting people, much more those little children.

This is the part of Glorietta after the blast this afternoon.

Photos of the interior of the mall are uglier - as shown in the television news.

Video credit: ianmullen and dutchedpinay1
Photo credit: CNN website and the Disney Cute Land where you can see more pictures and details (The author is an actual eyewitness/survivor).

Update: Number of casualties, that include the dead and the wounded, has already reached 100.

Update # 2: --List of dead and injured here.

--Ayala Land statement as of 5:23 PM here.

-- and the president's statement here.

-- Meantime, PNP, AFP on red alert in Metro Manila; Makati hospitals received bomb threats! And at around 9:00 PM tonight, search and rescue operations at the mall ended.

--- A blogger-cum-Ayala Land employee argues that it is not as bad as the media depicts it is here.

Glorietta Blast: Let's think of and pray for the victims

At around 2PM, I received a text message from my mother inquiring about my whereabouts. Curious about the reason behind the inquiry, I asked. And then she told me about a blast that occurred in the Glorietta Mall. I immediately switched the television on and tuned in to the related news in GMA 7, DZMM's teleradyo, and the ABS-CBN News Channel. At that time, three (3) people were already declared dead with over 40 people wounded - as reported by these media outfits. The blast happened in Glorietta 2.

My mother has a reason to worry. Glorietta is one of my favorite malls. For one, as a child I spent most of my free time there having spent my childhood in the nearby city of Pasay before going back to Naga City where I finished high school and eventually went into college. Even when it was still known as the Quad, it was already one of my preferred places to hang out. In fact, one of my aunties worked in one of the stores there in Park Square. And while waiting for my Auntie Mering to finish with her work, I used to spend most of time inside the National Bookstore in the Glorietta 1 area, just beside the area the blast occurred. I actually like to hang out in the Glorietta 2 whenever I was looking for a quieter place inside the Mall. This the reason why, despite the ignominious and grave damage caused by the explosion, a lot of people are still thankful because if the blast happened in another area where more people usually go to the resulting harm could have been greater.

Personally, I am thankful because I was really thinking of going there today but was not able to because I overslept. Thank God! I was just there the other day. I actually love to have coffee there, read a book, have meetings, and somehow, 'revisit' one of the places where I practically grew up in and spent some of the happiest days of my life - whenever I am here in Manila. I and my fellow Ayala Young Leaders usually meet up there also as many of them are employed by various Ayala companies and are working in offices located on the nearby areas.

But then again, what happened greatly bothered and saddened me as I think of all the hapless and innocent victims. Convinced that my Manila-based family members are all safe, I texted Mr. Ralph Reuben Morales, an AYLC batchmate and our Alumni Relations Officer for the Ayala Young Leaders program of the Ayala Foundation, to know if they are okay. Ralph replied: "Yup. Bt nt d 8 dead and 70 wounded." (Yup. But not the 8 dead and the 70 wounded.)

"I know bro. It's despicable.",
I texted back.

"Grabe ang nangyari",
he said in return.

This is really shocking. I join all those who are condemning this act, and whoever was behind it (At first, it was thought to have been caused by an LPG tank explosion, but recently, the theory was already discounted by the Philippine National Police. They said that such explosion could have been caused by a stronger source, like a bomb). I have heard that many of the victims are students, women, and children. There are also many unlucky mall employees. Horrible! If indeed this is a terroristic act, then such evil and cowardly act deserves to be abhorred and denounced in the strongest terms!

Why target defenseless civilians - many of whom are families spending some quality time together inside the mall? Why aim one's weapons against helpless people who are just trying to live their lives or even endure life's many trials and challenges while our kapalmuks politicians unabashedly make fools out of us as they try to outwit and outmaneuver each other for power and money at the general public's expense, without even batting an eyelash for the sufferings of the Filipino people who are the clear losers in their self-directed "moro-moro", circus, or whatever you want to call it? Heck, why punish unprotected human beings, many of whom were perhaps just seeking some refuge, albeit temporarily, inside such clean, beautiful, and air-conditioned mall?


And so -- meantime, let's just pray for all the victims - the missing, the survivors, the injured, and the dead - and their families. I also offer my condolences to the victims and their relatives. And let's also pray for ourselves, for our very own families, and for this battered country.

It is the time for us to close ranks, at least in prayers, if we can't be in any other ways.

Malicious rumormongers/speculators, 'grandstanders', and opportunists go away please and go back to wherever dark, filthy holes you crawled from! Your antics won't certainly help - for heaven's sake!

Readers or bloggers, let us all condemn such fiendish act if indeed such is a terroristic act!

Update: According to the latest news, there are already more than 90 people confirmed wounded, 8 dead, and many still feared to have been trapped under the rubble even at this very moment!

ABS-CBN's Maria Ressa, award-winning author of The Seeds of Terror: An Eyewitness Account
of Al-Qaeda's Newest Center of Operations in Southeast Asia, says, in MLQ3's words, "the timing of the blast is within the 'bombing season'" and that the impact, with no visible burn marks, could have been caused by 'pure wave' alone.

MLQ3 continues:

"Last year was the only year JI hadn’t conducted a bombing within this season. The blast is strong she said, the radius is large, the strongest probably that’s taken place in the country, she says. No burn marks either, if you look at interior damage photos, so this indicates expertise and training, and there are only two umbrella groups with this capacity: JI and law enforcement agencies. It’s interesting she says, in this context, plus recent Australia warning and PNP warnings of Mindanao. She says she’s seen JI plots to bomb Glorietta but they were made in 2002-2003. She says people have to wait for the investigation and that what she’s discussing is putting the blast in the perspective of past events...She says sources say it was a bomb, and that C-4 explosive was involved."

Despite all, it will certainly help if we all stay calm.

For more news and updates, please visit the special Philippine Daily Inquirer coverage here of the said Glorietta Blast. For more related stories, some of which coming straight from actual eyewitnesses, please visit Manuel L. Quezon III's (MLQ3) blog here. GMA News has pictures and news too here.

A Pagan's Chant

I am not a pagan, but I kinda like most of the lines of this "chant", if you may. Or am I just venting - by dint of projection? Ah, fragile, even friable night. Beacons lighted. Read on folks, cogitate --- and fly.

"I am a Pagan and I dedicate myself to channeling the Spiritual energy of my inner self to help and to heal others and myself.

I know that I am part of the Whole of nature. May I grow in understanding of the Unity of all Nature. May I always walk in balance.

May I always be mindful of the diversity of Nature as well as its Unity. May I always be tolerant of those whose race, appearance, culture and ways differ from my own.

May I use my psychic powers wisely and never use it for aggression or for malevolent purposes.

May I never use it to curtail the free will of others.

May I always remember that I create my own reality and that I have the power within me to create positivity in my life.

May I always take responsibility for my actions be they conscious or unconscious.

May I always act in honorable ways, being honest with myself and others, keeping my word whenever I have given it, fulfilling all responsibilities and commitments I have undertaken to the best of my abilities.

May I always remember that whatever is sent out returns magnified to the sender. The forces of Karma will move swiftly to remind me of my spiritual commitments when I have begun to falter from them. May I use this Karmic feedback to remain strong and committed to my Spiritual ideals in the face of adversity or negativity. May the force of my inner Spirit eliminate all malevolence directed my way and transform it into positive light. May my inner light shine so strongly that malevolence can not even enter my realm of existence.

May I continually grow in wisdom and understanding. May I see every problem that I face, as an opportunity to learn and grow and to develop spiritually.

May I act out of love for other beings on this planet -- to other human, plants, animals, mineral, elementals, spirits or other entities.

May I ever be mindful that the Goddess and God in all their forms dwell within me and that this divinity is reflected through my own Inner Self, my Pagan Spirit.

May I always channel love and light through my being. May my inner Spirit, rather than my Ego self, guide all my thoughts, feelings and actions.

So Mote It Be."

- Selena Fox

Goodnight, and, well, goodluck.

Photo credit:

Thursday, October 18, 2007

AYLC nears Interview Phase; Ayala bigwigs to make final the TOP 70 studes out of 150 interviewees

This post is for Missy and all those who are interested about the result of the Ayala Young Leaders Congress 2008 screening. I first blogged about the said search here. Anyway, I am taking the liberty to copy-and-paste a related email (Italics mine) of Mr. Ralph Reuben Morales, batchmate of mine and now, alumni relations officer of AYLC division at the Ayala Foundation Inc. (AFI), for everybody's information and guidance.

Dear everyone,

Announcing the schedule for the Interview Phase for the 2008 AYLC, as the Secretariat approaches the final stretch of the paper screening to select the top 150 applicants who will be shortlisted from a record-high of 592.

We are inviting everyone to be part of the volunteer pool to serve as interview assistants for at least 2 half days from November 21-23, 2007. Please advise us of your availability on these dates by filling up and sending back the attached confirmation form on or before 5:00 PM of November 5, 2007.

We will then announce to confirmed alumni the details of the orientation dinner for interview volunteers.


Ralph Reuben C. Morales
Youth Leadership Development

Apart from the congress itself, the interview phase is one of the most challenging, exciting and unforgettable experiences to look forward to in AYLC. The top 150 applicants will be interviewed by no less than a panel of topnotch executives coming from the Ayala companies, usually with the rank of Vice President, Director and up. In fact, one should even expect to be interviewed by the Ayala brothers (Jaime Augusto and Fernando) themselves and even, Ayala chairman emeritus Don Jaime Zobel de Ayala!

Now that Mr. Guillermo "Bill" Luz, the boyish-looking, media-savvy former executive director of the powerful Makati Business Club and CEO of NAMFREL, is already with the Ayala Foundation as Executive Vice President (and possible successor of AFI President Ms. Vicky Garchitorena who is soon to retire already as I was told by someone from AFI), applicants can also anticipate meeting him in person. He was one of our speakers during our time. So, goodluck to all applicants!

Monday, October 15, 2007


Upon the invitation and prodding of my good friend Mr. JR Relloso, the AIM-trained Director of the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Institute (SMEDI) Foundation, Inc. of the Ateneo de Naga Univesity, I went to Megamall in Mandaluyong City the other day for the annual Bicol Regional Trade Fair dubbed as OK Bikol (Orgullo Kan Bikol). The Megatrade Hall 1 at the 5th Level of Megamall's building B served as venue of this year's trade fair. It was organized by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Tourism (DOT) with the special participation of Gayon Bikol.

Inside the venue, neat and professional-looking booths were set up amidst the light and festive mood.
There were, in my calculation, close to a hundred of them inside, showcasing the best that Bicol can offer to the rest of the country, and even to the rest of the world: from furniture to handicraft; from beverages to pastries; from the ubiquitous Pili nuts products to the uniquely rare tourist destinations of the Bicol provinces. Manned by apparently happy and excited Bicolano and Bicolana entrepreneurs and approached by obviously curious and eager customers, those booths became the colorful and creatively designed tiny showrooms of the region inside one of the biggest malls in Asia.

A stage was likewise set up on one corner of the venue where programs are held for entertainment and information purposes. I was told that a number of Bicolano artists performed there the past days, like the famous comedy band from Lolo's Bar the "4rk Barrel". That day, top magician Lou Hilario performed magic tricks interspersed with promotional pitches about Bicol and its tourist spots and products.

Meanwhile, all over the place, DTI and DOT officials could be spotted enthusiastically welcoming important guests and overseeing things while their staff were also seen busy taking care of a motley of things that, by the look of it, was necessary to ensure the continued success of the trade show.

Having said that, it's good to see the products of our very own local entrepreneurs being given the proper attention and support from the government through trade fairs like that. Being a firm believer of the great potentials of entrepreneurship as an engine of socio-economic growth in this country, such undertaking is something that sits very well with me. Pray that we will see more of these projects and other similar initiatives like bigger and more accessible microfinance programs, entrepreneurial skills trainings and workshops, and more proactive support systems. All of which are, as might be expected, aimed at helping our entrepreneurs make it through the oftentimes challenging road ahead and eventually succeed in this noble and very promising field.

On a very personal note, I simply loved listening to the familiar Bicol dialects being spoken by most of the people there - not to mention the familiar 'feel' and 'drift' in the air that seemed to whisper one thing to me, you are inside Bicolano territory amigo! I believe it was the same thing that was felt by many of the people there, some of whom I suspected to have been lured inside by the idea of seeing, tasting, feeling, or even smelling something that would remind them of home and in a way, would bring them back there - even for some ephemeral moments that nonetheless turned out to be opportune and sanative especially for the weary heart and the homesick soul.

By the way, the SMEDI group led by JR was there to promote the Tatak Atenista products made by the entrepreneurial students of the Ateneo de Naga University. In addition, the One Town, One Product (OTOP) program of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) was also there - and I beamed with pride upon seeing the product (Dried Abo or "Tiger Toothed Croaker"
) of my family's adopted hometown Calabanga on display - together with the other institutional exhibits like those of the Bicol provinces, some Bicol-based schools, and the Department of Tourism.

However, I had easily concluded that the booths of OTOP, Camarines Sur (that featured its now famous tourist spots and its world-renowned Camsur Watersports Complex or simply, CWC, managed by another good friend Bing Rivera), and LGU Magarao (Magarao Parahilot) were the clear crowd-drawers at least on that day. In fact, I myself marveled at the video clips of some of the world's best wakeboarders who had found their way to and raved about the facilities of Camarines Sur's CWC. I also found the products of the participating towns of OTOP to be quite interesting. Lastly, I myself queued up for a good deal of time just to have my hilot, now dubbed as the "Philippine Touch Therapy" by our trade/industry and tourism officials. Magarao, of course as most of us Bicolanos know, is really popular for its parahilots -
aside probably from being known to be the hometown of Dina Bonnevie, one of Philippine showbiz' most celebrated actresses. These parahilots are in turn known for their amazing skills in bone setting and traditional therapeutic massage.

And so when my turn finally arrived, I asked the parahilot, in Bicol-Naga of course, to give me his best shot as my entire body was really aching that day, maybe a result of braving the hustle and bustle of Metro Manila and of Megamall itself! Fortunately, he was just more than glad to comply. In our conversation, he confirmed that their booth has always been a "blockbuster hit" - even during the past OK Bikol events. That was probably the reason why their group was given two booths instead of a single booth given to the rest of the OTOP exhibitors.

In the end, after almost an hour, I came out of the booth convinced that I just had one of the best massages I had for months. I wanted to extend but the big Caucasian guy who was waiting for me to finish so that he and his own parahilot could then use the single bed alloted for male customers who opted for a full-body massage began to look and act a little impatient. And a mix-up with such a humongous, impatient "man mountain" was the last thing I want especially after that relaxing, stress-busting, pain-relieving massage! So I gave way.

My parahilot just invited me to visit their place somewhere in Makati for an unrestricted massage or hilot session. Wait, Makati? Is this an indication that the Magarao Parahilots have already begun their Metro Manila and who knows, their countrywide 'invasion' by way of the financial capital of the Philippines!? I digress. :)

So, the total cost of the full-body hilot? Php 250.00.

Not bad bako?

Before I left, I asked my parahilot: "Bistado mo noy si Ligid?". "Kumusta na man si Ligid? Yan an dinakulaan kong parahilot."

"Yaon pa duman ser sa Magarao. Nagpapa-ligid pa man guiraray!" My parahilot quipped with that piquant, peppery mixed air of humor, exuberance, and hospitality dished out with a smile -- Oragon-style.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Liga ng Bayan opens for new season; San Miguel becomes Magnolia with "super line-up"

Speaking of abangan, isa sa pinakainaabangan ng mga Pinoy ay nagbalik na. And I am talking about the Philippine Basketball Association. I have been a big fan of the PBA, Asia's oldest professional basketball league, since the 80's when my San Miguel Beer captured its Grand Slam and my ultimate Pinoy hardcore idols namely Samboy Lim, Allan Caidic, Ato Agustin, and Hector Calma were still active. Sure a lot of long-time basketball aficionados have been talking about how better/mor exhilarating the brand of basketball was in the past particularly in the PBA than that of today's PBA and how 'boring' the current style is, no thanks to the more 'scientific' and 'controlled' systems being applied by teams of today in contrast to the more exciting, more free-flowing systems of the old teams, but today's PBA has, no doubt, made its own unique mark in the consciousness of the country's basketball fans, both old and new. Now whether this new crop of basketball heroes capture the imagination, the heart, and the loyalty of the fans in the same way as legends like Caloy Loyzaga, Bogs Abornado, Atoy Co, Sonny Jaworski, Ramon Fernandez, Allan Caidic, Alvin Patrimonio, and Samboy Lim to name a few had done in the 70's, 80's, and 90's; and whether they usher in a new Golden Era for Philippine Basketball is definitely something to look forward to.

One thing I really like about the 33rd season of PBA is the adoption of a number of FIBA rules and the ditching of some old PBA rules in former's favor. This move will surely help our top players familiriaze themselves with international rules and brand of play. This will in turn bring them in a position to compete better in FIBA-sanctioned international games once our sports and basketball officials decide to tap our PBA players again to represent the country in these international tournaments including the FIBA Asia Championships and even - who knows - the FIBA World Championships and the Olympics.

So, what's my early favorite? Of course, I am still rooting for my San Miguel Beer team that now carries a new name, the Magnolia Beverage Masters. The team also boasts of a fully loaded line-up in terms of talent with the likes of RP Team veterans Olcen "Ra-Ra" Racela, sharpshooter Dondon Hontiveros, two-time PBA MVP Danny Ildefonso, and 2007 FIBA Asia Club Mythical Five Selection Danny "the Dynamite" Seigle; ex-UAAP superstars Enrico "the Raging Bull" Villanueva, LA Tenorio, Wesly Gonzalez, and Larry "the Baby-faced Assassin" Fonacier (former Ateneo Blue Eagles all); former NCAA MVPs Gabby Espinas and Chris Calaguio; burly and reliable Fil-ams Willie Wilson and Dorian Pena; and former PBA Finals MVP Lordy Tugade under one roof. On paper, this is indeed the team to beat. But of course in a team sports like basketball, as they always say, nobody wins on paper alone. The team still has to be able to work as one cohesive unit; play great at both ends of the court; and compete with the same champion's heart as the San Miguel teams of the past.

Needless to say, I am excited to see this awesome collection of established and up-and-coming superstars in action on the court this new season. I am just not so excited about the change of name though, but this is another story.

So meantime --- BAKBAKAN NA!

(Update: Magnolia -112; AIR 21 - 97 with 4:20 to go in the first game of the season)
(Update No. 2: Magnolia wins 121 - 112. Here's a related story from the PDI)

Will Naga City's very own local celebrity make it to the Pinoy Big Brother: Celebrity Edition 2?

This will be very quick. While watching TV after lunch, I saw this promotional clip for this year's Pinoy Big Brother Celebrity Edition of broadcasting giant ABS-CBN. What struck me about the promotional campaign was the apparent intention of the network to perk up the interest and curiosity of the public about the identities of this edition's celebrity 'housemates'. Some of the TV hosts even played up the speculations prevalent right now in the internet as to who will really be included in Kuya's final list. Apparently, a number of 'lists' based on these speculations have appeared in the internet already. However, while watching it, I remember a candid conversation I had with a famous Nagueno a month ago in Naga City. During the said conversation, he revealed to me that ABS-CBN had indeed approached and invited him to join this year's Pinoy Big Brother Celebrity Edition 2 but nothing became final at that time I believe. Now that this very popular TV program is all set to disclose the official list of celebrity housemates hours from now, I could not help but to think of this local personality. Will he make it? Will Naga City have its own pambato inside the Big Brother house? If ever he does make it, will he have the same luck as Beatriz Saw had when this Bicolana made inside the house and eventually got out as the reality show's Big Winner?

Abangan na lang po natin.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Straight from My Mags: 21 Big Lessons from Little Kids

While on the verge of major changes in my life/career, I could not seize some time to compose and post anything here. Tonight however I intend to come out from my own 'sabbatical' from blogging and start something new here. I'd like to call it, well at least for now, "Straight from My Mags". You see, I have been a magazine buyer/reader for many years now and I have always found valuable lessons, ideas and tips - and a lot of good reads to boot - in the magazines that I read every month. So just a while ago I thought, why not share/blog about some of the things that I get from these magazines and in the process - perhaps - be able to remember or learn from them more by 'recording' them here. From time to time, I might inject some of my thoughts regarding a particular magazine article as well. But for the most part of it, it is really just about 'throwing' something 'out there' which has probably inspired me; or shoved me to think; or made me laugh; captured my imagination; or simply moved me - because who knows, another soul might find that "something" inspiring, funny, and valuable too.

So to open up the show, err, this part/category of The Quackroom, here's something from the October 2007 Edition of MEN'S HEALTH Magazine - Philippines. I like this article because aside from presenting a lot of great and moving insights, it also brings back fond memories of my childhood that leave me chuckling; reminiscing - while being pleasantly warm inside.

21 Big Lessons from Little Kids
(In bold letters are the ones that hit me the most instantly)

1. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Even when there's not a prize in the bottom of the box.

2. Sometimes it's best to be completely blunt with people, as you used to be with relatives who wanted you to do something embarrassing or tedious for a cheap prize.

3. Asking questions is how you figure things out. Lots and lots of questions.

4. An older, wiser Gordie Lachance says in Stand By Me, "I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12." Lachance is right. The trick is to try to be the friend you were when you were 12: fun-loving and loyal, with no strings attached.

5. Playing is work. Approach your downtime with all the seriousness of a 5-year old with a secret treasure map.

6. Real guys don't dip their toes in the water. They jump right in.

7. Girls have cooties. Well, the ones you meet in certain bars do, anyway.

8. You hated it when a grown-up told you, "We'll see." It's still unacceptable. Don't say it yourself.

9. The only way to know how something works is to completely disassemble it. (This is still good advice when tackling a complex problem. Your plasma TV? Not so much.)

10. There's a reason they don't give credit cards to eight-year-olds. You're supposed to save up money before you buy a new toy.

11. Your body was designed for running around, shooting hoops, and jumping off diving boards and stuff. In the secret language of children, the word "fitness" doesn't exist. It's called "having fun".

12. Your world can be half-real and half-imaginary.

13. Homework blows. Bring work home with you and it'll ruin your night. And your marriage. And your family. And your life.

14. Too much of anything will give you a tummy ache. Like, say, Scotch.

15. If there's even the slightest doubt, hit the potty before you leave.

16. The coolest adults were the ones who took the time to listen to you. You still want to grow up to be a cool adult, right?

17. Treasure Island, Dracula: The best books are consumed after dark with a flashlight.

18. Use adrenaline as your drug of choice. You don't need a beer, pot, or cigarettes to have a good time.

19. Kissing a girl on the cheek is a big deal. Kissing her lips is an even bigger deal. Seeing her naked for the first time is a major, life-altering event.

20. Going after a target in the urinal makes the time whiz by.

21. Seeing the thunderstorm roll in is better than watching HDTV. And rain isn't something to curse, but to enjoy. Hurry up, before it clears.