Saturday, 11 July 2009

I swear

I'm now officially a UP professor.

Sure I have yet to receive my first pay check, but there you go. The pic was taken when we were sworn into office by Dean Mayo (leftmost) a few days ago. With me are Jan Flores (new instructor sa DHRIM), Prof. Baylosis (OIC, everyone's in Korea!) and Mrs. Palatao, the Admin Head.


Saturday, 6 June 2009

Congressmen for Con-Ass

(Photo courtesy of Victorina)

I got this list from Ricky Carandang's site. I hope he doesn't mind me reposting this here. It's hard to be apolitical in a country like ours. And one doesn't even have to be a Legacy scam victim to feel how difficult life has become for most of us. 2010 can either plunge us further into despair or begin a long and painful process of awakening. The choice is ours.

CONGRESSMEN WHO APPROVED THE CON-ASS:

ABANTE, BIENVENIDO M. “BENNY” 6TH District Pandacan
ABLAN, ROQUE R. JR, Ilocos Norte, 1st District
AGBAYANI, VICTOR AGUEDO E. Pangasinan, 2nd District
AGYAO, MANUEL, S Kalinga Province
ALBANO (III), RODOLFO T. Isabela, 1st District
ALFELOR, FELIX R. JR. 4th District, Camarines Sur
ALMARIO, THELMA Z. Davao Oriental, 2nd District
ALVAREZ, ANTONIO C. Palawan 1st District
ALVAREZ, GENARO RAFAEL M. JR. Negros Occidental, 6th District
AMANTE, EDELMIRO A. Agusan Del Norte, 2nd District
AMATONG, ROMMEL C. Compostela Valley, 2nd District
ANGPING, MARIA ZENAIDA B. Manila, 3rd District
ANTONINO, RODOLFO W. Nueva Ecija, 4th District
APOSTOL, TRINIDAD G. Leyte, 2nd District
AQUINO, JOSE S. (II) 1st District Agusan del Norte
ARAGO, MARIA EVITA R. 3rd district, Laguna
ARBISON, A MUNIR M. Sulu 2nd District
ARENAS, MA. RACHEL J. Pangasinan, 3rd District
ARROYO, DIOSDADO M. Camarines Sur, 1st District
ARROYO, IGNACIO T. 5th district Negros Occidental
ARROYO, JUAN MIGUEL M. 2nd District of Pampanga

BAGATSING, AMADO S. Manila 5th district
BALINDONG, PANGALIAN M. Lanao del Sur, 2nd District
BARZAGA, ELPIDIO F. JR. Cavite, 2nd District
BAUTISTA, FRANKLIN P. Davao Del Sur, 2nd District
BELMONTE, VICENTE F. JR. Lanao del Norte, 1st District
BICHARA, AL FRANCIS C. Albay, 2nd District
BIRON, FERJENEL G. Iloilo, 4th District
BONDOC, ANNA YORK P. Pampanga 4th District
BONOAN-DAVID, MA. THERESA B. Manila, 4th District
BRAVO, NARCISO R. JR. Masbate, 1st District
BRIONES, NICANOR M. AGAP Party list
BUHAIN, EILEEN ERMITA Batangas, 1st District
BULUT, ELIAS C. JR. Apayao Lone District

CAGAS (IV), MARC DOUGLAS C. Davao Del Sur, 1st District
CAJAYON, MARY MITZI L. Caloocan, 2nd District
CAJES, ROBERTO C. Bohol, 2nd District
CARI, CARMEN L. Leyte, 5th District
CASTRO, FREDENIL H. Capiz, 2nd District
CELESTE, ARTHUR F. Pangasinan, 1st District
CERILLES, ANTONIO H. Zamboanga Del Sur, 2nd District
CHATTO, EDGARDO M. Bohol, 1st District
CHONG, GLENN A. Biliran, Lone District
CHUNG-LAO, SOLOMON R. Ifugao, Lone District
CLARETE, MARINA C. Misamis Occidental, 1st District
CODILLA, EUFROCINO M. SR. Leyte, 4th District
COJUANCO, MARK O. Pangasinan, 5th District
COQUILA, TEODULO M. Eastern Samar, Lone District
CRISOLOGO, VINCENT P. Quezon City, 1st District
CUA, JUNIE E. Quirino, Lone District
CUENCO, ANTONIO V. Cebu City, 2nd District

DANGWA, SAMUEL M. Benguet, Lone District
DATUMANONG, SIMEON A. Maguindanao, Lone District
Dayanghirang, Nelson L. Davao Oriental, 1st District
DAZA, NANETTE C. Quezon City, 4th District
DAZA, PAUL R. Northern Samar, 1st District
DE GUZMAN, DEL R. Marikina City, 2nd District
DEFENSOR, ARTHUR D. SR. Iloilo, 3rd District
DEFENSOR, MATIAS V. JR. Quezon City, 3rd District
DEL MAR, RAUL V. Cebu City, 1st District
DIASNES, CARLO OLIVER D. (MD) Batanes, Lone District
DIMAPORO, ABDULLAH D. Lanao Del Norte, 2nd District
DOMOGAN, MAURICIO G. Baguio, Lone District
DUAVIT, MICHAEL JOHN R. Rizal, 1st District
DUENAS, HENRY M. JR. Taguig, 2nd District (2nd Councilor District)
DUMARPA, FAYSAH MRP. Lanao del Sur, 1st District
DUMPIT, THOMAS L. JR. La Union, 2nd District
DURANO (IV), RAMON H. 5th District, Cebu

ECLEO, GLENDA B. Dinagat Islands, Lone District
EMANO, YEVGENY VICENTE B. Misamis Oriental, 2nd District
ENVERGA, WILFRIDO MARK M. Quezon, 1st District
ESTRELLA, CONRADO M. (III) Pangasinan, 6th District
ESTRELLA, ROBERT RAYMUND M. ABONO Party List

FERRER, JEFFREY P. Negros Occidental, 4th District

GARAY, FLORENCIO C. Surigao Del Sur, 2nd District
GARCIA, ALBERT S. Bataan, 2nd District.
GARCIA, PABLO JOHN F. Cebu, 3rd District
GARCIA, PABLO P. Cebu, 2nd District
GARCIA, VINCENT J. Davao City, 2nd District
GARIN, JANETTE L. Iloilo, 1st District
GATCHALIAN, REXLON T. Valenzuela City, 1st District
GATLABAYAN, ANGELITO C. Antipolo City, 2nd District
GO, ARNULFO F. Sultan Kudarat, 2nd District
GONZALES, AURELIO D. JR. Pampanga 3rd District
GONZALES, RAUL T. JR. Ilo ilo City
GULLAS, EDUARDO R. Cebu, 1st District
GUNIGUNDO, MAGTANGGOL T. Valenzuela City 2nd District

HOFER, DULCE ANN K. Zamboanga Sibugay, 2nd District

JAAFAR, NUR G. Tawi-Tawi, Lone District
JALA, ADAM RELSON L. Bohol, 3rd District
JALOSJOS, CESAR G. Zamboanga del Norte, 3rd District
JALOSJOS-CARREON, CECILIA G. Zamboanga del Norte, 1st District
JIKIRI, YUSOP H. Sulu, 1st District

KHO, ANTONIO T. Masbate, 2nd District

LABADLABAD, ROSENDO S. Zamboanga del Norte, 2nd District
LACSON, JOSE CARLOS V. Negros Occidental, 3rd District
LAGDAMEO, ANTONIO F. JR. Davao del Norte, 2nd District
LAPUS, JECI A. Tarlac, 3rd District
LAZATIN, CARMELO F. Pampanga, 1st District
LIM, RENO G. Albay, 3rd District
LOPEZ, JAIME C. Manila, 2nd District

MADRONA, ELEANORA JESUS F. Romblon, Lone District
MAGSAYSAY, MARIA MILAGROS H. Zambales, 1st District
MALAPITAN, OSCAR G. Caloocan, 1st District
MAMBA, MANUEL N. Cagayan, 3rd District
MANGUDADATU, DATU PAKUNG S. Sultan Kudarat,
MARANON, ALFREDO D. III Negros Occidental, 2nd District
MATUGAS, FRANCISCO T. Surigao del Norte, 1st District
MENDOZA, MARK LEANDRO L. Batangas, 4th District
MERCADO, ROGER G. Southern Leyte, Lone District
MIRAFLORES, FLORENCIO T. Aklan, Lone District

NAVA, JOAQUIN CARLOS RAHMAN A. (MD) Guimaras, Lone District
NICOLAS, REYLINA G. Bulacan, 4th District
NOGRALES, PROSPERO C. Davao City, 1st District

OLAñO, ARREL R. Davao Del Norte, 1st District
ONG, EMIL L. Northern Samar, 2nd District
ORTEGA, VICTOR FRANCISCO C. La Union, 1st District

PABLO, ERNESTO C. APEC Party List
PANCHO, PEDRO M. Bulacan, 2nd District
PANCRUDO, CANDIDO P. JR. Bukidnon, 1st District
PICHAY, PHILIP A. Surigao Del Sur, 1st District
PIñOL, BERNARDO F. JR. North Cotabato, 2nd District
PUNO, ROBERTO V. Antipolo City, 1st District

RAMIRO, HERMINIA M. Misamis Occidental, 2nd District
REMULLA, JESUS CRISPIN C. Cavite, 3rd District
REYES, CARMELITA O. Marinduque, Lone District
REYES, VICTORIA H. Batangas, 3rd District
ROBES, ARTURO G. San Jose Del Monte City, Lone District
Rodriguez-Zaldarria ga, Adelina Rizal, 2nd District
ROMAN, HERMINIA B. Bataan, 1st District
ROMARATE, GUILLERMO A. JR. Surigao del Norte, 2nd District
ROMUALDEZ, FERDINAND MARTIN G. Leyte, 1st District
ROMUALDO, PEDRO Camiguin, Lone District
ROMULO, ROMAN T. Pasig City, Lone District
ROXAS, JOSE ANTONIO F. Pasay City

SALIMBANGON, BENHUR L. Cebu, 4th District
SALVACION JR., ANDRES D. Leyte, 3rd District
SAN LUIS, EDGAR S. Laguna, 4th District
SANDOVAL, ALVIN S. Malabon-Navotas, Lone District
SANTIAGO, JOSEPH A. Catanduanes, Lone District
SANTIAGO, NARCISO D. (III) ARC Party List
SEACHON-LANETE, RIZALINA L. 3rd district of Masbate
SEARES-LUNA, CECILIA M. Abra, Lone District
SILVERIO, LORNA C. Bulacan, 3rd District
SINGSON, ERIC D. Ilocos Sur, 2nd District
SINGSON, RONALD V. Ilocos Sur, 1st District
SOLIS, JOSE G. Sorsogon, 2nd District
SOON-RUIZ, NERISSA CORAZON Cebu, 6th District
SUAREZ, DANILO E. Quezon, 3rd District
SUSANO, MARY ANN L. Quezon City, 2nd District
SY-ALVARADO, MA. VICTORIA R. Bulacan, 1st District
SYJUCO, JUDY J. 2nd Dsitrict, Iloilo

TALINO-MENDOZA, EMMYLOU J. North Cotabato, 1st District
TAN, SHAREE ANN T. Samar, 2nd District
TEODORO, MARCELINO R. Marikina City, 1st District
TEODORO, MONICA LOUISSE PRIETO Tarlac, 1st District
TEVES, PRYDE HENRY A. Negros Oriental, 3rd District
TUPAS, NEIL C. JR. Iloilo, 5th District

UNGAB, ISIDRO T. Davao City, 3rd District
UY, EDWIN C. Isabela, 2nd District
UY, REYNALDO S. Samar, 1st District
UY, ROLANDO A. Cagayan De Oro City, Lone District

VALDEZ, EDGAR L. APEC Party List
VALENCIA, RODOLFO G. Oriental Mindoro, 1st District
VARGAS, FLORENCIO L. Cagayan, 2nd District
VILLAFUERTE, LUIS R. Camarines Sur, 2nd District
VILLAROSA, MA. AMELITA C. Occidental Mindoro, Lone District
VIOLAGO, JOSEPH GILBERT F. Nueva Ecija, 2nd District

YAP, JOSE V. Tarlac, 2nd District
YU, VICTOR J. Zamboanga Del Sur, 1st District

ZAMORA, MANUEL E. 1st District, Compostela Valley
ZIALCITA, EDUARDO C. Parañaque, 1st District

I hope this list helps us decide whether we want these "representatives" to stay or not beyong 2010.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Death by Chocolate


One of the better things to do with an unlimited internet access at home is look up recipes to fatten one's loved ones with. Mum turned 88 a fortnight ago and I bought an enormous cake from Goldilocks in Ali Mall but she wasn't feeling very cheerful that day that we've postponed and postponed her little birthday party until today. I wanted to make a simple cake but couldn't decide what kind until I came across a recipe from a fantastic site.

The first time I've heard of Death by Chocolate was when I was at university, and a guy who is now a chef de cuisine made it for a formal dinner function and I thought it was pretty clever. I'm not really a cake person. For the most part I think store-bought cakes are invariably dry and as exciting as a glass of water. I thought I'd give it a go after finding a recipe online. I wanted to vary it a bit so I added a dash of peppermint oil to the frosting and the result was pretty fantastic. Also, I shaved some of the remaining bittersweet chocolate I got from Chocolate Lovers.

The cake was moist and delicious and potentially lethal for folks who have heart and blood pressure problems, i.e., my entire family. The pic actually looks horrible because I got carried away with the frosting but all in all it was a fabulous cake!

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Krung Thai Restaurant in Marikina


To be quite honest, for me Marikina is not an obvious destination of choice for anything, even for shoes. The reason I've gone there fairly regularly is because Yuki's new excellent vet is there. Before then there was the very sporadic visit to Jenny's and Odessa's places and not much else.


After I found Yuki's veterinarian, I drove around the market and found a few cheap and cheerful places to get pretty much everything. I've always noticed this little place called Krung Thai restaurant but parking was so difficult at the market or I wasn't hungry enough when I get a parking spot that it took me over a year to finally try the restaurant.

Don't get me wrong. I adore Mommy Thai's canteen and all its incarnations, but Krung Thai Restaurant is equally charming, affordably priced and deliciously air-conditioned. The portions are enormous. Their glass of iced tea is enough to put out a small bush fire. The food tastes exactly like what one might get in Thailand. I've only been to the restaurant twice, most recently for my graduation dinner with Pedro, but I think the owner is actually Thai, and I wonder if the cooks are as well.



The one thing I like most about the place is that it's quite unassuming. It's a neighborhood restaurant where residents dine when they don't feel like cooking, and obviously a very popular one. The price is reasonable enough for a meal out not to become a splurge. And its a much better, healthier alternative to those pesky fastfood restaurants.

We thought about taking a few of our friends there soon. I can't wait to try their other thai dishes.

Krung Thai Restaurant
W. Paz corner M. Cruz Streets
Sta. Elena, Marikina City

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Master in Industrial Relations

What do you know, eh? Master in Industrial Relations, School of Labor and Industrial Relations, University of the Philippines Diliman. Finally

This year's SOLAIR graduation wasn't as fun as last year's primarily because I
graduated ahead of my friends who are too slow with their MA thesis. Serves them right for being lazy. Hehehhe.

The SOLAIR ceremony was actually quite sweet save for the rather blatant electioneering by our guest speaker, Hon. Cynthia Villar. Before the program started she instructed the staff to distribute 500 cardboard fans with Manny's accomplishments and pictures on it. Of course she re-told the story about Manny Villar spilling fish all over an office lobby and him not being embarassed to clean up the mess.

I suspect it's the only intersting Manny Villar story there is. Sure, says something about being brave and not being ashamed of who you are, although I would've preferred a story on how Manny Villar came to lose the Senate presidency and still bravely fights Ping Lacson on the Senate floor, but I digress.

After the ceremonies, the obligatory picture-taking. I only wanted a picture with my thesis advisers Dr. Theresita Atienza and Dr. Sani Yuzon, whose fault it is that I am graduating on time. Thanks, guys! And Pedro squeezed into the pic with Dr. Yuzon
happily shaking his hand. Don't they look pleased!


Thinking that I've never actually been to any University Graduation ever I thought I'd stay for the big one after our little do at SOLAIR. It was sooooooo long. And hot. Luckily, the SOLAIR seating area is shaded, but we had hundreds of honor students graduating this year that each one was called and given a medal.

It actually felt amazing being surrounded by thousands of UP students. Makes one so damn proud. Might be my first and last UP graduation so I'm glad I went.


After the big UP Naming Mahal song, we all dispersed and headed out of the campus. Pedro and I headed to a newly discovered Thai restaurant in Marikina (more anon) and had a lovely Thai meal.

God, I feel fat.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Rupert Everett's New Face


I'm all for a bit of plastic surgery if you really need it (and presumably can afford it) but I think we should draw the line between recapturing one's youth and evading arrest by changing your entire face until you're a completely different person.

I always thought Rupert Everett was very handsome, but now he's kind of like one of those cookie-cutter, anonymously good-looking guy you see in airports. It's just too disturbing.

What do you think?

(photo courtesy of www.bestweekever.tv)

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Why Are We a Nation of Servants?

by F. Sionil Jose
from Philippine Star

Here we go again, some inconsequential columnist in Hong Kong takes a cheap shot at our unhappy country, calls us “a nation of servants” and immediately an uproar, and magma feelings of hurt are unleashed. Editorials, columnists, politicians are outraged — they demand apology as if one would really salve the bone-deep insult. It was the same sometime back when an English publisher defined “Filipina” as a housemaid. Such insults hurt profoundly but the pain fades quickly and soon after all that enraged outburst, we settle down to the same complacency, we continue sending more of our women abroad to be raped by Arabs, demeaned by Malaysians and Chinese, heckled by the Brits. What has our sense of outrage brought us?

Go to Hong Kong, to Singapore. Visit the Star Ferry environs in Hong Kong or Lucky Plaza, and Singapore’s Orchard St. And there, on Sundays you will see them, hundreds of Filipino domestics, yak-yaking, socializing on the sidewalk, having a pleasant respite from their work.

To the visitors, tourists and the natives, they are a piteous sight, illustrating so clearly and so well how this country has sank. As a Filipino, having witnessed such, I am utterly shamed. I do not blame our poor women for their sorry condition, for I know only too well their plight is the only way by which they can help their families at home and survive.

It is such a boring cliché now, but back to the not-so-distant past: Filipinas was the second richest country in the region, next only to Japan; our universities attracted students from all over Asia, and we had the best professionals, the most modern stores and hospitals.

And what was Hong Kong then? There were slums crawling up those hills on Victoria island, and slums all over Kowloon. Singapore as an English naval base was like old Binondo, with its small squalid shops and equally small houses.

But look at Singapore and Hong Kong now, then look at our country and people.

Sure, you can find in Makati magnificent mansions, the biggest luxury cars, the tony restaurants, skyscrapers. But elsewhere the ugly sprawl of slums, the very poor who now eat only once a day. We must ask ourselves that question, why we became “the hewers of wood and drawers of water” of the world. What happened to us, a very talented and heroic people with a revolutionary tradition?

Once we have answered this question, then we should no longer wonder why there is a continuing diaspora of our brightest people, of our women. It is then the time for us to be truly enraged — not at that Hong Kong columnist — but at the creators of this dismal miasma we call Filipinas. Do not kill the messenger who comes to us to tell the horrid truth about us. Ingest his message, then turn all that outrage, that vehemence, to the Filipinos who turned this beautiful country into the garbage dump of the region: the oligarchs, the Spanish mestizos, the Chinese Filipinos and the treasonous Indios who sent their money abroad instead of investing it here in industries to create jobs for our people. Then it is time for us to rail and condemn the crooked politicians who are the allies of these wretched rich who permitted the relentless hemorrhage of this nation’s capital.

Revolutionary tradition? Ask those rebels why, after 40 years, these leeches are still feasting on our blood!

Monday, 6 April 2009

Knowing


Downloading movies is sooo easy (and still illegal) these days that I'm surprised people still go to the cinema.

I took the bastard out to Eastwood for a bit of airing because he's been ratty all week. Not his fault; it's just how he is sometimes. Luckily a seemingly good disaster flick is out.

I wasn't so sure about going to see Knowing. It sounded like a gay expression I heard from friends from UP. I'm glad we actually saw it in the cinema. The special effects were amazing. You need fantastic surround sound to actually feel the movie, and that's exactly what we had at Eastwood Cinemaplex.

CGIs have come a long way since Chuck Perez's Bagwis from the 80's no? I have to admit I miss the stupidly cheezy effects of yore, but we got to give credit to those fantastic computer techies for stimulating our senses to the brink of a seizure.

Unlike the earlier disaster flicks where Tom Jones, Liv Tyler and Will Smith survived, everyone died in Knowing. Everyone. Well, except for the chosen kids who were abducted by the creepy Scandinavian aliens and taken to a new world covered in barley. Those kids are going to start a new world with just the clothes they were wearing (which were made of hemp) and the rabbits they brought along for the possibly dull journey.

If they get bored enough they might figure out how to make beer from the barley available to them. And the rabbits might help them realize how they might populate their new planet. I sense a sequel.

Go and watch it!


Thursday, 19 March 2009

Khao Pad

I finally found where Mommy Thai went.

My friend Jessel told me that she moved to Ortigas Home Depot months ago, but I didn't get to properly look her up until yesterday. We got there at around 11 am and the place was still empty. Mommy Thai was actually doing the cooking, and it was certainly nice to know she still remembers me. I think the fact that I'm the only client she had in UP who actually speaks Thai helped, too.

We had red curry, larb moo and rice. Big servings. Delicious. Very cheap. And the place looks really nice, too.

I first tasted her cooking when she was still occupying that makeshift canteen beside the International Center in UP Diliman. We would actually walk from AS past Educ, Vinzon's, Econ and Asian Center just for her Tom Yum. When I moved to Thailand, I heard she transfered to a pink box in Balara. I went there a few times and actually chatted with her about food and a bit of Thai gossip. When I went back to her new place a few months later she had left. There were shirtless men in a steamy room playing pool. Not my idea of a good lunch.

My friend Cathe then told me that Mommy Thai actually sold everything, moved to Singapore to be with her family (daughter married to a Thai working in Singapore) and realized she had to come back.

I would definitely go back there to try her other dishes. If there's one thing I miss about Bangkok it's the food. And Khao Phad is my favourite Thai restaurant here in the Philippines, non-pretentious category. (I do love People's Palace and Benjarong, but it's not like I can eat there whenever I feel like it.)

Go and visit. I hope her loyal clients from UP rediscover her spicy dishes. And I'm pretty sure she'll get new ones from the area as well.

Khao Pad is in Auto Depot (beside Snax in the City), in Ortigas Home Depot. Julia Vargas Ave.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Transymphonia: Pillars of German Music

They're not thanking the Spanish Embassy for setting the standard on sponsorship.

Actually, the concert was sponsored by the Goethe Institut Manila, so it is quite forgiveable that they did not have much in terms of grubs and refreshment. Although during the intermission, a few confused waiters could not cope with the demand for drinks so they started serving water, iced tea and red wine. Pete and I managed to get a glass each of the wine. Nice.

Next month's the last one in this concert series. The French Embassy is sponsoring it to coincide with the French Spring Festival in Manila. This should be fun!

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Social Networking and Employment


I got this article from another HR practitioner and it just makes me realize how we don't have these protections from discrimination here in the Philippines. Tsk tsk tsk.

Employers That Use Social Networking Sites Face Legal Risks
by Ron Brand and Todd Scherwin

More and more employers are using social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook to obtain information about current employees and job applicants when making personnel decisions. Many employers believe it is essential to do so in light of potential liability for negligent hiring and retention. However, employers that use social networking sites in such a manner need to be aware of the legal risks.

Discrimination and Retaliation

Employers may be subject to potential liability for violations of state and federal anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation laws. In California, for example, there are 14 different classifications called "protected categories" on which employment decisions may not be based. These include sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, marital status and national origin. As such, if employment is denied or an employee is terminated based on one of these protected categories, an employer faces the potential for a discrimination or retaliation lawsuit.

For example, what if an applicant discloses in her Facebook profile that she is suffering from cancer, is a homosexual and is from Guatemala? What if the talent manager knows this information prior to interviewing the applicant and either decides not invite her for an interview or to not hire her? If the applicant later alleges she was denied employment based on a protected category and files a lawsuit claiming discrimination, the employer will have to prove there were legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for not hiring the applicant. Of course, it would be difficult for the employer to prove it did not consider any of the applicant's protected categories in making its hiring decision.

Invasion of Privacy

Employers also may be subject to potential liability for invasion of privacy. For example, suppose that, in conducting a random check of an employee's Facebook profile, an employer notices the employee using marijuana in posted photos. The employer then terminates the employee. The employee files a lawsuit against the employer alleging the employer invaded his privacy since he believed his Facebook profile was private.

However, for the employee to be successful on an invasion of privacy claim, he would have to demonstrate he had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the content posted in the Facebook profile. The employee would no doubt have a difficult time establishing this when thousands, if not millions, of people had access to his Facebook profile.

However, what if the employee had made his Facebook profile "private" or for his "friends" only, and the employer gained access to the profile by becoming "friends" with the employee simply to obtain information for making personnel decisions? Alternatively, what if the employer used a fake identity to become "friends" with the employee to gain access to his "private" Facebook profile? Conduct such as this would make the employer susceptible to a liability for invasion of privacy.

Federal and State Fair Credit Reporting Laws

Federal and state fair credit reporting laws, such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), require an employer to obtain a job applicant's or employee's consent before it engages a background screening firm to conduct a background check. It also requires certain notices and disclosures to the job applicant or employee regarding the background check. While the FCRA generally does not apply to situations in which an employer uses social networking sites without engaging a background screening firm, it may apply to situations in which an employer uses social networking sites in conjunction with certain workplace misconduct investigations. Some states' fair credit reporting laws provide more protection to job applicants and employees than the FCRA.

Off-Duty Conduct

Finally, using information obtained from social networking sites can be problematic since some states have statutory protections for workers limiting the types of off-duty conduct - conduct outside of work - employers can consider in making personnel decisions.

While there is no simple answer to the question "Should employers use social networking sites to make personnel decisions?" one suggestion for employers that choose to do so is to have policies to ensure all applicants and employees are treated similarly. For example, if the employer searches MySpace or Facebook prior to considering an employee for a promotion, the employer should have a policy that explains that, and it should applied equally to all employees.

Ultimately, employers that decide to use information obtained from social networking sites to make personnel decisions should carefully weigh the benefits of the information obtained versus the legal risks involved in doing.

[About the Authors: Ron Brand and Todd Scherwin are attorneys in the Irvine, Calif., office of management-side labor and employment law firm Fisher & Phillips LLP.]

Monday, 2 March 2009

Panagbenga 2009

It was going to be my first Panagbenga and we needed some Ilocos blankets so our little Baguio trip was much anticipated. So Kim, Leonard, Jem and I decided to bring the Picanto and book a room at Baden Powell Inn for one night. We met at McDonald's Philcoa at 5 am Saturday morning and headed up north.

The car broke down in San Manuel, Tarlac. It just wouldn't move anymore. It started, it revved, but it won't move. Luckily, my car insurance has a 24-hour roadside assistance phone desk so I rang them and after a few hours of waiting on the side of the highway they arrived with a tow truck which took the car to the Kia dealership in E. Rodriguez, Quezon City, and an onward transportation service for us to Bagiuo.

We arrived at about 4 pm in Session Road. Traffic was much worse than usual because they're rerouting for the festival. We were dropped off just outside Baden Powell Inn and boy we were in for a series of disappointments.

We rang the hotel to book a room almost a week prior and they referred us to their Manila reservations office. They required a 50% deposit which we didn't mind paying so we advised the reservation staff that we were dropping by that afternoon to book it. When we got there, she insisted that we pay the full amount, saying that they never let guests book for just one evening. I couldn't believe it. The hotel is requiring a minimum of two nights stay. I never thought hotels can actually dictate the length of stay of their guests. After much persuasion (and a lie: a promise that we were going to stay there again later during the week but still don't know which exact dates), they let us just pay the 50% deposit. I was already feeling iffy about the hotel, but knowing that that weekend was Panagbenga (Baguio's Flower Festival) most places are already booked, and I didn't want to spend the entire day trying to find a better room.

When we got there, they immediately asked for the balance which we paid. They showed us our room and it was horrible. There were four of us in our group, and we booked the Family Room which has two (2) double beds, cable TV, hot shower and free breakfast. We got there and the room was tiny; only about a foot between the beds and the walls, so really there's nowhere to sit except the bed. There wasn't a window and the hot shower wasn't working. The television didn't have a remote control and the buttons on the unit don't work. All four of us wanted to shower but there were only two towels, the housekeeping staff said they're still being washed so we should just share. I went to the front desk to tell them about these and they were quite surly. I asked if we can be moved to another room but they said they were fully booked because it was the festival weekend. I asked for a room rate reduction but they won't give that. I asked for a late check out but they insist that it was only until 12 noon the next day.

Then we found out that the hotel is half empty, and when we checked in at 4 pm they were still counting on desperate people who would pay thousands for a room just because everywhere else was fully booked. They finally transferred us to a bigger room after i threatened to go to the police if they don't give us our money back. The room had one double bed and a pull-out bed from under, which had a couple of cockroaches and unidentified stains on the sheets and pillow cases. The room also had a window facing the street where the bus stations are so it wasn't going to be our little quiet retreat.

Luckily we've done enough planning in terms of activities to do in Baguio so we didn't stay much in the room. The next day, we went to get the free breakfast and were told that it is just one fried hotdog, one egg, a cup of rice and brewed coffee. The brewed coffee tasted like burnt water, they ran out of hotdogs so they gave us fried fish (half bangus) instead which was burnt, and the eggs were "scrambled" so they looked like leftovers. It was disgusting. We just smothered our plates with ketchup to make sure that they don't serve it to other guests after we leave. We ate breakfast in a restaurant on Session Road instead.

Having said that, the hotel has certain advantages. It was very central. Two minutes walk from SM Baguio and Session Road with all the nice restaurants and shops. After checkout, they let us leave our bags at the lobby for safekeeping (although it didn't feel very safe because it was just behind the unmanned secondary front desk--but nothing was stolen so we guess it was OK).

All in all, it was a terrible experience. I guess we wouldn't have minded if the room we got didn't cost us PhP 3,000 for four persons per night. If they were charging PhP 1,000 (like Sagada inns where it's normally PhP 200-250/person), it would've been alright. But the hotel was horrible and the food was disgusting. Service was indifferent at best. But the location, well, there were others in the area but none of them have websites so we couldn't contact them to book.

Stay in this hotel only if you want to experience a minor stroke in Baguio.

Enough about Baden Powell Inn.


That Saturday night, we had our first proper meal for the day (having spent most of it waiting for the tow truck and the alternative transport the car insurance provides for). We went to Sizzling Plate on Session Road and ordered several items out of hunger and partial blindness. It was a great meal, but Leonard was convinced that it was because we were starving. The place was packed and smoky.

We went to the public market for a bit of Ilocos blanket shopping. We got those and went back to the room to rest for a little bit, except that by that time Leonard had diarrhea, and Kim and Jem just fell asleep on the bed in their street clothes. I wasn't
going to just lay down and sleep. I decided to have a little walk outside, maybe a drink in a small bar. I ended up in Rumours, a rustic place serving cheap drinks and Sisig pizza. I ended up drinking at the bar with the owner and a couple of local journalists covering the event the next day. Drank enough to put me straight to sleep as soon as I got back at the hotel room.

The next morning, we took turns showering and finally got out to get not the best view of the parade. It was packed. I remember reading lots of road signs just before getting inside Baguio City proper: Cleanest City in the Philippines. Really? Jeez. Baguio is like Avenida with central airconditioning. Downtown, it's polluted, crowded, dirty and
smelly. I remember several years ago newlyweds on a budget would go to Baguio for their honeymoon. If you do that now, I'm pretty sure it's enough grounds to file for an annulment. Everytime I go to Baguio there's a new monstrosity of a building erected to offend people even with the slightest sense of taste. Town planning is unheard of in this city. Someone please please please do something about this. And everytime we go, shanty-looking houses are covering the hills. It's damn ugly.


For lunch we decided to walk to Cafe by the Ruins and finally get a decent meal. We settled for coffees and breads with their signature spreads. It was awesome. Kim even got a bottle of Tira-Tira. After that, we walked back to the market and got everything we needed to prove to others we were actually in Baguio: bayong bags, strawberries, Good Shepherd bottled sweets, scarves, etc.

Then we had a walk at the Athletic Bowl where the Panagbenga floats were on display. Jem had a field day having her photos taken.

Will I go for another Panagbenga festival? Hell no.

I just hope that Baguio residents wake up soon and realize what the city has become. It is as crowded, polluted, dirty and smelly as the rougher areas in Metro Manila, but cooler. Is that enough reason for you to just let this wanton construction boom happen?

I'm convinced it's not too late. Baguio has all the trappings of a charming little quaint town, but there has to be limits and enough people who care about this place. The city government doesn't seem to.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies


This Oatmeal Raisin Cookie recipe is so easy it's ridiculous. I've never really been a cookie person but when I found this recipe (and adjusted it a bit to suit my audience) it was such a hit that I've made it a few times already. I had to swat people's hands to stop them from eating all of the cookies in one sitting. Enjoy!

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups instant oats
1/2 cup raisins

Procedure:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

3. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and the sugars until smooth. Mix in the egg and vanilla.

4. Stir in the dry ingredients, then the oats and raisins.

5. Drop the batter by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart on the baking sheets and use fork to flatten the dough.

6. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on wire racks and serve while still warm.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

When you really think about it, who cares if they made a film set in India about a slumdog who hits the jackpot in some TV contest? May we remind the world that we come from a country where Wowowee is not only a national pastime, it's the national way out of poverty. Do people still remember what happened during the Ultra Stampede? Talk about a story based on life's cruel jokes.

Watching Slumdog Millionaire after it won the Oscar for Best Picture made me wary. On the one hand everyone raves about the film, and they have several Oscars to prove it. On another hand it just makes our expectations greater, and you know how a lot of things turn out to be pure disappointments after they were all hyped up.

Slumdog Millionaire was great.
A Mumbai teen who grew up in the slums and becomes a contestant on the Indian version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" He is arrested under suspicion of cheating, and while being interrogated, events from his life history are shown which explain why he knows the answers.

It was fast-paced unlike a lot of the drivel we see these days. Fabulous acting, excellent writing, great direction, sensational music.

Is it ever coming out here in Manila? I get the feeling Pinoys have such discriminating tastes that we only notice things when they begin getting noticed abroad. Leah Salonga, Charice, et. al. Well it won Oscars. Local distributors, pay attention.

Go watch it. It made Kubrador look pale and badly shot. And I love Kubrador.

Directed by Danny Boyle. Stars Dev Patel, Anil Kapoor, Freida Pinto and Irrfan Khan (no relation to Ohdette).

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Der Vorleser


I can say I had no expectations whatsoever when I saw this film. I didn't know what it was about and boy I was surprised that I absolutely enjoyed it!

The movie poster led me to think that this might be one of those annoying Nights in Rodanthe-type flicks I can't stand. I'm so glad it turned out to be much, much more substantial.

It was about a law student who, after nearly a decade of his affair with a mysterious woman, re-encounters his former lover as she faced charges in a war-crime trial.
The performances were so exquisitely crafted and moving, with such great insight into human frailties and and faults.

I read somewhere that Kate Winslet had been nominated for an Oscar about 427 times so far. Come on. Give this one to her. Go on. Having said that, I must say my favourite Winslet performance was when she played herself in Ricky Gervais' Extras.

The Reader was directed by Stephen Daldry. Stars Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes and David Kross.

Go and watch it!

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

PPO's Transymphonia: Gabi ng Musikang Filipino

I never thought I'd have to write this.

At the risk of getting stoned to death, I've decided to be honest and call a spade a spade. The first half of the concert was so boring it was like listening to a precocious child play a made-up piece for the first time. The PPO was in great form, don't get me wrong, but the music was a bit, um, terrible.

I didn't know Lucrecia Kasilag composed music. I knew she taught music and pioneered music ethnography in the Philippines. But compose? The program said her violin concerto "was composed in two weeks in 1982 at the request of violinist Carmencita Lozada." Lozada was to play it in West Germany, and Prof. Kasilag airmailed the copies to her twice but they got lost. Somebody must have opened the envelope and said, "Oh no no no no."

It was proving to be a tricky evening. Luckily, violinist Gina Medina heard the snores and decided to give an encore. There was no way in hell she was going to be rememberd playing that Kasilag violin concerto. She played Sarungbanggi which was fabulous. Really redeemed the entire first half, if you ask me.

Since there were no embassy sponsors, there was nothing to do during the 15-minute break, not even any hyperefficient or frazzled embassy officials to stare at. I would've at least called San Miguel to provide THE Pinoy beer for the night's Pinoy music. Syempre dapat may Boy Bawang din. It's as if no one bothered to try getting sponsors because they either knew the music was going to be crappy or that not many people will turn up for the concert.

The second half was actualy much better. De Leon's Cry of Balintawak was long, pero at least it sounded like it was actually the background music to a CCP-produced drama sa Channel 4, right after Balintataw.

The last piece featured a 135-piece choir accompanying baritone Andrew Fernando to Lucio San Pedro's Sa Dalampasigan. Talk about Drama. That was truly memorable!

I actually invited several people to the concert but in the end everyone backed out. I was a bit relieved kase I didn't want to have to explain to them why they fell asleep. By the way, the entire section behind us was occupied by UP students who were probably required to watch the concert (Gina Medina lectures at the UP College of Music, plus the UP Concert Chorus was there). In the middle of one piece I turned around to see this guy snoring himself to smithereens, his friends apoplectic with amusement. Good times!

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Home-made Yoghurt Recipe


I've been making home-made yoghurt for about a year now, really because I got fed up with the supersweet variety most groceries carry these days. Plus they can charge about a hundred for a proper cup in some shops. So I looked up a simple yoghurt recipe online and after a few trials and errors I've managed to perfect the recipe and adapt it to the local weather. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 Liter fresh milk (I use Alaska Fresh)
1/3 cup of powdered milk (Bear Brand)
125 ml Nestle Creamy yogurt (this will be your starter)

Materials:

Small glass jars with screw on tops (I bought mine at SM Dept Store... 50 each)

Candy thermometer (Landmark, 89 pesos)

Sauce pot

Dish for bathing the jars (I just use a regular Pyrex dish)

Procedure:

Slowly heat the milk on the stove over low-medium heat.

At this point you can choose to add powdered milk. Powdered milk creates thicker yoghurt that takes less time to ferment.

For your first batch we are going to go with Alaska Fresh milk plus 1/3 cup of powdered milk. This combination of milk with the powder will produce a delicious, basic yoghurt.

The most tedious thing about making yoghurt is watching the milk get hot. You need it to hit 170 degrees F, but not have it boil. So you want to pay attention to the pot and have a thermometer at hand. Once you've hit the target temperature, remove from heat and then wait for the milk to cool. Unless you put the pot in the refrigerator it will take some time to cool to 108-112 degrees.

If you are using existing yoghurt as a starter, have it handy in a cup. When the milk is cooled to the proper temperature, mix a small amount it in with the yoghurt. This will break up the yoghurt and makes blending it with the rest of the milk easier.

Once you add the starter, the milk can be placed in the jars and those in the Pyrex dish with about a couple of inches or so of warm water. Cover with a wet cloth and leave in a dry, warm place (inside an oven or anywhere where it won't be disturbed) for 6 to 8 hours, better if overnight.

Most yoghurt recipes would recommend using a Thermos jug or even an expensive yoghurt maker. These are quite unnecessary. Remember they are being made in temperate regions, and it's hot enough here on a regular day so ok na ang jars!

Chill, serve plain or with honey, jam or muesli. You can even use this for Indian cooking. Make sure you save one small pot to serve as your starter, though!



Friday, 6 February 2009

Frost/Nixon

Let it be put on record that I am opposed to titles with a backslash, popularized by the series Nip/Tuck.

I had to get that out.

Having said that, I think I spoke too soon when I said that Sean Penn should win the Oscar for Milk. I'm still convinced he was brilliant in it, but after watching Frost/Nixon the other day and the obligatory Q&A with Pedro which follows any historical film, I was made to realize that whilst Frank Langella does not have the jowls to play Nixon, he certainly had the talent for it.

The movie offered a glimpse of what David Frost did before the historical interview (and yes, he was the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous presenter) and basically how he initially was on the brink of a career suicide after their first few recordings and then ended up wiping the floor with presidential Nixon during the last day of filming.

Pedro explained what happened in Watergate and Nixon's involvement with the whole mess. It's not difficult to hate Nixon, although there's a lot to be said about a president who sees enough reason to actually resign from his post and not cling onto power until all respect is gone for his office. Obama to learn from Gloria? No, Gloria to learn from Nixon.

A few random observations about the actors:

Kevin Bacon is officially not hot anymore.

And the guy who played David Frost, Michael Sheen, also played Tony Blair in The Queen. Is he now THE actor who plays all important British figures? Look closely and squint a little. It's one of those beautiful examples of Conan O'Brien's Celebrity Offspring.

Jack Nicholson and Alan Cumming = Michael Sheen. Diba?

Watch it when you get the chance.


Directed by Ron Howard. With Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Sam Rockwell.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Milk


Directed by Gus Van Sant. With Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch and Josh Brolin.

Using tape recordings of Harvey Milk and archival footages for atmosphere, Milk traces the life of Harvey Milk from the moment he turned 40 and left the closet that was his life in New York until his murder after setting up a photography shop in San Francisco's Castro district, attempting and failing a few times before finally winning a seat as district supervisor, and rallying the SF gays against legislation which aimed to bar gays from teaching in public schools.

If you're going to watch one Oscar film, this is it. Superb acting from Sean Penn, who seems to get better with age. After winning in 2003 for Mystic River, its about time he gets another one. Benjamin Button was OK, Frank Langella just doesn't have Nixon's jowls for it, and the others, well, I just don't care.

Go watch it. Now.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Playing by Ear

Ishna came along and we trotted off to Galleria Duemila in Pasay City for the Australia Day 2009 do a bit after 6 pm. The program said 7 pm, and we thought it might take a full hour to get there from home, and anyway they never start on time. So we got there at about 730 pm and realized that Grace Nono already sang, and a few people were leaving already. Shit.

The wine stopped after one glass. The beer and juices didn't. Two thumbs up for the cold drinks and the little snackettes. Well done.

Heaven knows how the Aussies found that venue. It was great though, albeit a bit difficult to find. I don't know anyone who wakes up any day and say, "Hmmm. I think I'll buy contemporary art in Pasay today." It was one of those big old houses of the old rich, those people who strolled in Dewey Boulevard after dinner at Senor Alba's. Gorgeous place, that. Actually, the entire street seems to be built round about the same era.


Sunday, 18 January 2009

PPO's Transymphonia: Glimpses of Europe


Pedro and I have gotten into this habit of getting in the car, sitting in traffic for an hour or so and watching the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra's Transymphonia at the Cultural Center of the Philippines once a month. I'm telling you it's worth it. After seeing the Spanish Embassy-sponsored concert last month our expectations were higher and of course the disappointment was greater. Where shall we start.

What I like about these concerts is that the attendees are just as interesting as the actual performance. The matrons and old gits never fail to amuse with their big hair and inappropriate wardrobe choices, and Friday night was no exception. As soon as we got there we decided to check out the mezzanine for hopefully a cocktail spread and were delighted to realize that the Czech Embassy, on the occasion of their six-month presidency of the European Union this 2009, is the main sponsor of the event. They were going to serve draught beer!

While waiting for the show to start, I walked towards the Gourmet Cafe booth where they're handing out free styro cups of coffee to the concert goers. Listen, Gourmet Cafe. If you want people to leave with good memories of your coffee, don't ever serve that watered down coffee and expect people to buy it. No wonder everyone was drowning sachets of coffee mate and sugar in their cups.

First half was great. Three anthems were played, then Sibelius and then Elgar. Great. I almost did a cartwheel to the mezzanine when intermission was announced. There was a bit of a confusion there. They weren't serving anything. And people just stood around wondering why. Hmmm. Went back for the second half. It was Lizst, then Dvorak, then another Elgar for the encore. Then a mad dash to the mezzanine for cocktails, where we were met by an efficient-looking secretary type who was turning people away. The buffet table which prominently featured Czech beer, nuts and crisps was cordoned off.

Guests of the Czech Embassy only.

That was sooo tacky. You don't hold a by invitation only drinks party in full view of all the attendees. Do it elsewhere if you don't want other people there. I don't know why these people are so elitist. VIPs only. Guests of the Embassy only. White people only. Jeez. I was feeling a bit disappointed and quite rejected, then I saw this elderly couple who was being turned away by secretary type. For Chrissakes. They must be at least 80 years old. They won't eat nor drink much. Let them in! Way to throw a fucking party on the occasion of your presidency of the European Union in 2009.

I hate the Czech Embassy.


Sunday, 11 January 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Jessica Zafra beat me to it. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button IS Forrest Gump.

Knowing that the Christmas rush is over, we left the house at 5,30 pm hoping to catch the 6,20 pm screening at Shangri La. Tangna matraffic pa rin. So we didn't get to that, but luckily the one in SM Megamall was just starting when we got there so we promptly bought tickets and went in.

Incidentally, Brad Pitt is getting hotter. For over a decade now, everyone says he's the hottest man alive, and I never really saw it until recently. Compare:

In Thelma and Louise, and NOW:













Diba?

And can I just say something here. Back in the late 80's to early 90's we went to the cinemas for movies because it was either that or a bad pirated VHS copy of the movie from your friendly neighbourhood rental store. We really didn't mind those uncomfortable cinema seats. If I remember correctly they were charging something like PhP 30-40 per entry then. Now we paid PhP 142 for a ticket to watch this movie at SM Megamall, and the seats felt like they belong to some long-haul bus company.


I don't mind paying that much if I get super comfy seats like the ones in Gateway Mall or Shangri La, but PhP 142 for a leg cramp and numb ass cheeks is just a bit too much for us. Also, what the hell is going on with the security guard flashing his torch every five minutes? I know they're trying to stop film piracy by catching those silly people who secretly film the screen inside the cinemas, but I'm pretty sure a pirated DVD copy of the movie is already available at St. Francis Square and Metrowalk anyway, so why bother. And if one's really serious about recording the movie inside the cinema I don't think the security guard's flashlight would deter him. I mean, come on. It was actually quite annoying that.

And don't you just hate those people who talk inside the cinema? Yap yap yap yap nonstop. I know it's quite rude and possibly unsanitary, but I do wish I have enough courage to stand in front of these people and spit on their faces. If that doesn't shut
them up I don't know what will. This sort of behaviour really just puts one off from bothering with catching a film at a cinema and just relying on the dependability of our pirated DVD vendors in malls.

After the movie we had a look inside Booksale at the basement and found a few books. Peter got two books on Billy Connolly and I got Graham Norton's Queer Facts for a total of PhP 500. Not bad, no?

Monday, 5 January 2009

Ganon?

After Photoshop


After beer, vodka, crispy tadyang, nankasoy ice cream, adobo flakes, tequila, biscotti, baileys, bottomless rice, chocolate mousse, fetuccine with creamy lamb sauce and orange meringue

Ngwek. Alek Ngwek.


Friday, 2 January 2009

Manila to Ilocos in a Picanto, Finale (Happy New Year and Back to Manila)

After a brief survey of the resorts on Saud Beach we realised that there was nothing happening on New Year's eve. No crazy beach party with fire dancers and loud music. Nothing. A couple of the waiters even said they're taking the afternoon off to be with their families so we weren't even sure if there was anywhere open for dinner. Luckily, there were a few places open. We didn't want to eat a crappy meal and experience crappier service at Villa del Mar, and we weren't going to Apo Idon where Peter sent two cold breakfast plates. Seriously, we've had the worst meals and the worst service from these so-called exclusive resorts that I'm left wondering what sort of hell-hole shite backpackers are left with in their budget hotels. The bigger the resort the shittier the service, it seems.

We ended up having a delicious Ilocano dinner at Saud Beach Resort which included a plate of calamari, pinakbet, bagnet and KBL, and steamed fish in white sauce. And plenty of beer. That was very nice. There was a family on the next table who shovelled food down their throats while managing to look perpetually disappointed. It turned out that they own the resort. After that, we drove back to our resort, went next door and had fruity pancakes for dessert.

By this time the wind was high and the waves crashing on the beach kept reminding e of that huge tsunami, so I took a nap and told Pedro to wake me up at midnight. After two minutes of random fireworks on the stretch of the beach it was over. We went back to the room and slept.

We woke up at 8 am, had coffee, packed and left Pagudpud. We were heading towards San Fernando, La Union, where we booked a room for one night at the Sunset Bay Beach Resort. We made a brief stop at the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse and, um, basically drove on until we were too hungry to notice the landscape. Since it was new year's day most places were shut, so we decided to go to Vigan in the hopes that Cafe Leona would be open.

The drive to Vigan took about three hours where we stopped for lunch at Cafe Leona in Calle Crisologo. Pedro had steak the size of a baseball mitt and I had my Ilocano pinakbet and longganiza. Delicious. On the side of the road from Vigan we bought several bottles of Basi wine and vinegar, two of which broke inside the car so it reeked of spiced vinegar, which still smells better than dog vomit, we both agreed.

Drove for another three hours and finally reached San Fernando, La Union. We checked into the room, I changed and headed to the beach with my trusty snorkle,
went back disappointed (murky, rocky), ordered beer and sat by the infinity pool. Sunset Bay Beach Resort is owned by an English guy called Spider who was teaching Arts in Hong Kong for decades and finally settled in this town. The resort is really qutie sweet. They only have about 15 rooms but an excellent kitchen, nice swimming pool and lots of easy chairs and gazebos where you can sit with your laptop and just use their wi-fi (not free, by the way) for free, just don't tell anyone.

We had a traditional English dinner with cottage pie, roast beef, mince pie and christmas pudding with vanilla ice cream. It was good, but not great. Went back to the room and overslept. The best thing about English food is the cooked breakfast, if you ask me. We had english sausages, minute steak, eggs, crispy bacon, toast and delicious coffee served in large mugs.

After a short while packing, we drove off to Manila via Clark. At the welcome arch in Sison, we stopped to have a look at these enormous prawns. I ended up paying up more, of course. Fuck these cons. And slap me for being stupid. They were delicious, though.

We're back home after eleven days, tired but happy. This was the break we needed. Now I'm drinking Sauternes, tomorrow I'm doing the laundry.