Friday, December 23, 2005

Disc Jockey for A Day - No, Not Really

You see, I've always wanted to be a DJ. Not a radio announcer, but one that shares his music. I think that music, like food and really good stories, should be shared, Like a friend of mine once said, I'm one of those people that relate music with memories with emotions. Besides, I'm paying good money to buy CDs, why not let professional songer-songwriters do all the hard work.

Today's playlist:

No Doubling Back by Jason Mraz
Falling In Love by Lisa Loeb
Run by Snow Patrol
Hold On Hope by Guided By Voices

Cheers and Merry Christmas everyone!
Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Scrubbing for Scrubs

Time for that annual physical exam - it better be now, before I stuff myself silly with Christmas goodies high on fat, salt, sugar, and cholesterol. While last year's ordeal found me inhaling ammonia after passing out (long story, but I am man enough to admit that I did faint after blood extraction), this time, I was more keen on staying awake, un-bored, and patient (bad pun!) while going through the whole process.


After finishing the first season of Scrubs, being locked in a medical facility full of people wearing scrubs does get you a bit paranoid. As a summary, watch Scrubs, it's funny, and like they say, laughter is the best medicine.

ps. It's on my Amazon wishlist *wink wink*

more winking going on....
Monday, December 12, 2005

Mon sac!

Someone stole my bag today. I don't remember the last time I had something stolen from me, as opposed to something I misplaced and ultimately couldn't find. So I lost my bag before going to the airport. Crap.

To make light of an unfortunate situation, I console myself with the following thoughts:

1. True to TAR form, I was wearing overlapping clothes while holding a plastic bag containing what was left of my belongings. Nanakawan na nga ako, TAR pa rin ang nasa isip ko....

2. Good thing I didn't pack, and I had all my important things in my pocket.

3. Time to get new clothes anyway.
Friday, December 09, 2005

Travel: Stalker at the Hilton

To make the most out of meeting top-ranked tennis players in Shanghai, we decided to have a more personal experience with these tennis stars. Rather than cheer for them on court, or stalk outside the stadium's VIP entrance, it would be a bit fancier if we had lunch with them. Not exactly dine with them at their table, but have lunch with them in the same place.

So, lunch at the Hilton brought me closer to Team Federer, minus Roger himself. There was Mirka and Tony Roche (who by the way has one of the easiest jobs on planet Earth), Ivan Ljubicic, Fernando Gonzalez, a bevy of doubles players, and the whole Argentinian entourage. Nalbandian, Gaudio, Puerta and Coria (who had the most lovely wife). So, I was star-struck admittedly. Had this been the WTA Championships, I would've been wiping the drool off the side of my lips.

Here's a picture of me, luckily I wasn't caught by security.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Travel: The Shanghai Pitstop

No, you scratch your brow and say, "Not another Shanghai article..."

But, this will be the last one of them I promise. And this will be short.


Forget Phil, all I needed was that pretty Shanghainese lady greeting us at the Pitstop!

That's them...

...and this is us!
Lest we forget, we went to Shanghai not just to see the sights, but primarily to watch the year-end tournament of the ATP. While not getting our money's worth to see all the big-name stars, the beauty of the location made up for it.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Travel: Pudong (Shanghai Day Four)

Rather than bore you with a long narrative of Pudong, the newly developed portion of Shanghai, I'd rather share with you some pictures.

Took pics with the Jin Mao Tower on the background, and an aerial view of the Huangpu River.

Had a great time with the Aquarium, and touched a shark in the process. I don't know how to explain this, but all I can remember is Don't Panic by Coldplay playing in the background (see the Shanghai Soundtrack article below).

Lunch was at the Oriental Pearl TV Tower revolving restaurant, but I will reserve that for another article.

Here's the link to my photo album, comments are welcome ;)

Like I mentioned earlier, the weather in Shanghai was cold. THe funny thing is, I felt confident with a black knit long-sleeved turtleneck. Boy, was I wrong. This one I did not realise unti after lunch. Of course, lunch is after breakfast, so breakfast first.

Breakfast was of the famed Shanghainese delicacy xiao long pao, a dumpling with a good amount of broth inside, to be dipped in balsamic vinegar. My only gripe, why is there not enough soup in the dumpling??? Grr.

Beside this eatery is the famed Yuyuan Gardens, a traditional looking chinese villa that once housed the emperor and his many concubines. There is nothing more perverse than having a labyrinthine house with hidden passages and dark alleys, and your concubines scattered around for you to find. Other than admiring the wonderful architecture of the estate (and having wild concubine fantasies), I searched where TAR6 placed the clue for their Shanghai leg. And thus creating a theme for my subsequent trips - but more on that in another entry. I found it in the corner of the Gardens, and took a picture for posterity.

there was a clue here!

Right outside the Yuyuan Garden is a zigzag bridge over a lake - and right across, a Starbucks shop! Presumptuous rather than convenient, I am totally against having Starbucks in touristy spots that exude a certain ambience (similar to my discovery of a Starbucks branch right smack along the walls of Intramuros). Grr.

More walking for the day brought us to the French Concession famished and thirsty, thus ushering us to lunch. It was a Hunanese restaurant and their specialty was hotpot. Look at the photo below - this dish had chorizos, pork chunks and tripe. Yummy. What I did not notice was the sauce - which was made from, no not tomato sauce, but from crushed peppers. If that was not enough, there were four kinds of pepper in the dish, none of them being the sissy bell pepper variety. For the record, this is the spiciest dish I have ever tried, beating the Bangkok Tom Yang Goong, and the wasabi burger in the process.

man, that's hot!

Feeling the full wrath of Hunan, I flailed my arms at the waitress and shouted at her 'Coke', which I could barely mumble because at this point, my tongue and lips were absolutely numb. Even my water did not taste like water because I think I just killed half my taste buds with one bite. It was at this point that I realised that actions spea louder than words as the waitress brought me a moist towelette to help ease my extreme discomfort.

I was burping the spiciness until the evening at QiZhong. It was at that point the stadium crowd was informed the Rafael Nadal had withdrawn from the tournament due to a foot injury. Foot injury my foot! He can still walk. Grr. I hope the tennis gods bequeath him with the Wrath of Hunan as punishment.
After a thrilling day at the tennis tournament, it was time for dinner. After that recent debacle with the over-ordering, we now know better. Point at the picture, and use the fingers to indicate the quantity.

*points at hummus* One!
*points at kebab* One!
*points at drink* One!

Wasn't that easy?

My first taste of authentic Middle Eastern food, and it was great. Loved the hummus.

*points at stage*

more jolting than crunching coffee beans
The day has come, it is Tennis Master's Cup 2005, where the top 8 players of the world converge for the culminating event of the ATP tour. It doesn't help that Hewitt, Safin and Roddick have pulled out even if the event hasn't started, but I'm already here.

The stadium is simply magnificent, glass walls all around, a fantastic view of the court, and that spankin' brand new scent. Yeah baby!

spankin' brand new!

Got to see the master Federer take on Nalbandian, Ljubicic against Coria, and the Bryan Brothers against Wayne/Arthurs. First ever tournament attended, first tennis match - had to be a Federer.
My "Welcome to Shanghai" dinner was a feast - 10 dishes at least, and we were only 3 people. It wasn't planned though. You see, English is not really widely spoken in Shanghai - hold that, English is not spoken by the Chinese in Shanghai. So when my friend pointed and inquired about several dishes, they assumed that we were already ordering them! Tsk!

A pleasant tree-lined walk (and at the same time give our stomachs ample time to digest all the food) to the city's new drinking joint Xintiandi featured bars, pubs and restaurants tailored into newly constructed (but with old architecture) French villas. One even boasted of a great Filipino band. Never mind that, we went to TMSK, whose glass counter is always good enough as conversation piece.

everyone's happy after a few drinks...

Then there was Luna and and a red-haired Deborah Harry. Funny, we were shouting Blondie. Anyway, I was only mildly buzzed but tipsy enough to have a direct ticket to lala-land when we arrived at the hotel.
It was my second trip out of the country, and this time, I'm travelling alone to meet a friend at our final destination. Just as a background, I've been planning this trip since May - saving up money, miles and courage to do a trip alone. So, 6 months later, twenty thousand miles poorer, but 2 guide books smarter, I find myself taking of my belt at the counter of the Centennial Airport. (No dirty thoughts please, just standard security procedure).

While waiting for the MLA-PVG (Love 'em airport codes), I met two ladies who screamed at a footage from the WTA Championships, featuring a news bit about Lindsay Davenport taking home the year-end Numero Uno for the fourth time. AHA! Tennis fans off to watch the men's version of that in *gasp* Shanghai. Then I learned that there was a Manila delegation, of about 40 people. At least our country is represented in the audience.

A thousand miles later up north, I find myself walking at the tarmac of Pudong International Airport. First time in China, and a first time winter for me. Before my illusions of snow and skates realised, I already knew that it didn't snow in Shanghai. Nevertheless, I never stopped muttering to myself, "This weather is just gorgeous". Crisp, cold, wintery, minus the slush.

Airport to hotel was a breeze. Okay, I stood in a very long line at Immigration, and given that the airport had all 26 counters open, you can just tell that Shanghai was a very touristy place. Hey, Tennis Masters Cup really drew in the crowd, at least. Again, airport to hotel, after immigration was a breeze. Gate, escalator, maglev ticket counter, maglev gate, I plopped myself to a seat on the only magnetic levitation train in the world. City center was a good hour away from the airport, and with the train, it took me 8 minutes. 430 kph baaaaby. Here's a pic to prove it.

fast, eh?

Maglev to subway was very easy, then next thing I knew, I was right smack in the middle of one of the most famous shopping districts this side of the world. Nanjing Road felt like Times Square, not that I've been there, but the blazing neon lights, people hustling left and right, and all the wares you can think of. Throw in a couple of 1920 architecture buildings, and a hotel with a giant thermometer proclaiming 17 degrees Celsius... *BAM* I knew that this trip was going to rock.

see the bling
Monday, November 21, 2005

Music: The Shanghai Soundtrack

Before I give the blow-by-blow of my Shanghai sojourn, I'll share what was playing on my phone during those times. Same with my Bangkok trip, this vacation's music was appropriately provided by my handy W800i.

Music to listen to when ...

- riding the MagLev: Don't Let Go by LMC vs The New Radicals
- weaving through the crowd: Move This Mountain by Sophie Ellis Bextor
- holding your jacket in a 10 degrees weather as you board the plane: Clarity by John Mayer
- watching planes take off and land at the airport tarmac: Desperately Wanting by Better Than Ezra
- riding the subway: Professional Widow by Tori Amos
- singing out at the top of your lungs along the Bund since no one knows you anyway: I Don't Wanna Be by Gavin de Graw
- (and my favorite) being on a moving walkway underneath an aquarium filled with sharks: Don't Panic by Coldplay

Must find a new one for this segment of my vacation....

Bones, sinking like stones,
All that we fought for,
Homes, places we've grown,
All of us are done for.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Ni Hao!

Too busy running around Shanghai, and translating to actually write an entry, but watch out when I come back from a long vacation. See ya!
Friday, November 11, 2005

Not so smart

Sabi ko na nga ba e. Hindi ako SMART.

After having getting my phone line disconnected, I immediately went to the nearest SMART wireless center to pay my dues and shove at SMART's ass that I can pay them my overdue amount of 500 big ones.

I didn't have my account number with me, nor did I have my billing statement (hence not knowing that I was already overdue) - so I just gave them my phone number. Apparently, the phone number I knew was not mine. I have been giving out the wrong number to people in my email correspondences, and perhaps egroups. Yaiks!

So to all, my apologies for giving out the wrong number. And much more so to the owner of the number I have been giving. I'm sure those pesky foreigner suppliers of ours must have had a field day looking for me.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005

My Kind of Funny

I may not have time to write an article, but I did have enough time to cut-and-paste an online quiz. Hahaha.

The results are pretty much accurate - for my case, at least.

the Wit
(52% dark, 34% spontaneous, 36% vulgar)

your humor style:

Witty, eh?

You like things edgy, subtle, and smart. I guess that means you're probably an intellectual, but don't take that to mean pretentious. You realize 'dumb' can be witty--after all isn't that the Simpsons' philosophy?--but rudeness for its own sake, 'gross-out' humor and most other things found in a fraternity leave you totally flat.

I guess you just have a more cerebral approach than most. You have the perfect mindset for a joke writer or staff writer.

Your sense of humor takes the most thought to appreciate, but it's also the best, in my opinion.

You probably loved the Office.

PEOPLE LIKE YOU: Jon Stewart - Woody Allen - Ricky Gervais
Monday, October 31, 2005

Music: Beautiful in Bloom


This is Bloom, the latest remixed album of Sarah Mclachlan. It contains 10 tracks, mostly lifted from her latest studio release, Afterglow. Remixing Mclachlan seems to be a more ethereal musical journey, as compared to listening to her studio songs. It's Enya, minus the New Age, and it's post-Missing EBTG sans the house.

The album opens with a chilled-down remix from Junkie XL, whose previous works include Elvis Presley's A Little Less Conversation (football, anyone?) - tempering World On Fire to an ambient trance mix. It closes with the Juniors Boys Mix of an older song, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy.

The album offers a limited spectrum of electronic music though, in a good way, since too much bass-pumping and beat-thumping is something I reserve for other artists. Great tracks include the haunting Dirty Little Secret, an opera-meets-dancehall Vox (reminiscent of the alien performance from The Fifth Element), together with Stupid and Train Wreck.

It's actually nice to note that McLachlan is open to musicians wanting to alter her masterpieces - here's to hoping that other artists with the same soothing voice quality do the same. Dido (who worked with Faithless on just one track), John Mayer, but probably not Norah Jones.

I've shared some of the songs from Bloom below. Enjoy. And yes, not to sound preachy here, but if you do like them, pick up the original ;)


World On Fire
Sunday, October 30, 2005

A rework of two episodes past

Just to repeat a couple of words from previous entries, I'm feeling that buzz again. In a different sense. Woohooo!
Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The tickets are here!


My beautiful Shanghai surprise!
Monday, October 24, 2005

Music: The Eighties are back!

I must admit, I hate the eighties. If there is anything that will remind me of the 80s, it would be big hair, and shoulder pads. Music-wise, they meant lots of synthesizers, dirty guitar rifts and more shoulder pads. Listen to all the volumes of Chorus Girl, and you'd get what I mean - one volume in and you'd surely feel yourself grow a mullet.

The good news? They're all back, and fortunately, in a more polished way. I sure hope I'm not confusing this with emo, but emo probably would consistent of clean-cut kids trying to scream their way out of puberty. Back on topic, I've been listening to The Myriad, Hard-Fi, The Bravery, and more notably The Killers. They have that distinct 80s feel - complete with bored vocals. It's called neo-rock, a fusion of new rave and rock, and perhaps The Matrix. Major plug: The Killers' Hot Fuss is a great buy, no ballads here, just pure rhythmic pleasure and catchy anti-pop melodies.

If you're looking for a more popular repertoire, there is the soundtrack to Sky High. Led by Bowling for Soup's version of I Melt With You (Jason Mraz did a reggae version of this for 50 First Dates, which didn't do anything good for the song). Or how about a revival of Everybody Wants To Rule The World? It's a jumble of 80s pop revisited for the post Y2K crowd. Major Plug again: Nice movie, watch it with you high school/college friends, and end up talking about the freaks from your batch. Hehehe.

There is one downside - someone did a remake of Spandau Ballet's True. Ooh, big mistake. True is the consummate Eighties song, everytime someone asks me my favorite song from the 80s, this is always the immediate answer. (The consummate 90s song would probably be Wonderwall by Oasis). Anyway, not that the remake was bad, but the original was simply a classic.

Comparing revivals with the originals where they were originally released is not a good sign, but not as bad as wearing shoulder pads, I guess.
After years (count 'em - 8, I think) of practice, I finally got drunk. Not the I'm-actually-more-sleepy-but-not-really-drunk kind of drunk, nor the my-head-aches-terribly-therefore-I'm-drunk, and most definitely not the I've-had-so-much-to-eat-I'm-not-getting-enough-oxygen-to-my-head-therefore-I'm-drunk, but the I-can't-feel-my-limbs-but-I-can-drink-some-more type of drunk.

I've always thought I'd be the quiet type, but I've been watching a lot of The OC, so I'm more attuned to mindless babbling laced with sarcasm. Like my sister said while opening our front door, how stealth.

So, congratulations to me. And good luck with that hangover.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Newer Radicals

My discovery of the week (yeah, sorry if it's rather delayed) goes to LMC vs New Radicals. You Get What You Give has got to be one of my favorite songs of all time, and I think LMC gave it a good revamp (the songs is already 7 years old, and my, time does fly by so fast).

The single is called Don't Let Go, which samples the New Radicals original. I'm hoping to put in a sample somewhere here.

It's a refreshing break from the weepy stuff I've been listening to recently (Hello Damien Rice and Jeff Buckley). Also, see entry below.

Edited to add a copy of the song. Just click here.
Monday, October 17, 2005



Picked up the Coldplay double - Parachutes and A Rush Of Blood To The Head, and all I can say is 'How appropriate'. No, I'm not in any mood to slit my wrists, but I would like to feel a little sappy and weepy without feeling sissy about it. Give me a week to wallow here. Then I'll get the new album

Just a reminder for me: Ganun pala iyon. Just like Nemo.
Monday, October 10, 2005


I'm supposed to churn out a new episode on my blog, with recent music finds, tv finds, and others, but I have no time. No time at all. Perhaps later.

Picked up The OC Region 1 DVDs (both seasons), Ministry of Sound's Dance Nation, plus the Best of U2 (1990-2000) and the OST to Sky High... I'd better come up with an entry soon.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Music: Orange County Style

However I may sound like a fan boy of the series, I am even happier that the series has a wonderful soundtrack. It takes a brilliant Oasis cover to pique my interest, and a cartload of college bands to sustain it. I cannot seem to remember any other TV show that has a great selection of unknowns and not-so-knowns in the soundtrack selection that this musical-horizon-expansion thing is simply overwhelming me.

Did I mention I just got myself a Sony Ericsson W800i? Recently being sold on the benefits of having an iPod Mini, this phone came just in time. It now houses my recently downloaded songs, recently bought albums, among others. Check out their official music guide for a detailed listing of all music used in the show, and do check out the four volumes of the TV show soundtrack – although the Chrismukkah volume might not seem to be my cup of tea. Or latke for that matter.

In conjunction with the topic at hand, the music of the OC is simply great. Mix One is not in the household right now, but Mix Two landed two weeks ago. There’s simply something for everybody. Feeling you want to rock out, jumpstart your morning? Try listening to The Eels with Saturday Morning. Pensive? There’s The Perishers with Trouble Sleeping, or Eastern Glow from Album Leaf. Sad, rainy day? Try listening to You Got Me All Wrong from dios malos or the remake of OMD’s If You Leave from Nada Surf (The 80s will be discussed in a separate article, I’m just waiting for my copy of the soundtrack to Sky High). More Oasis covers? Try out Ryan Adam’s version of Wonderwall (not as good as the original 90’s alternative scene anthem, but there’s a big bias from where that’s coming from). Snarky may not even be a word yet, but it’s a great description for The Dandy Warhols’ We Used To Be Friends.

My personal pick is by Halloween Alaska, called All The Arms Around You Now. It’s got that muted sound, plus the funky drumbeat, , and was used wonderfully at the premiere of the second season. Here is the song in full, since the song does not appear on any of the mixes of the OST yet.

Too many songs, too many bands, so little time? Sounds like it. Enjoy!
Monday, September 26, 2005

Welcome to The OC

This is not a thank-you speech, but I’m feeling rather grateful right now. I would like to thank my sister for introducing me to the OC. One mild morning, in the wake of the end of the US Open (by now, you could’ve figured that I am a major addict), she decided to show me an episode of The OC. My guy friends have been ranting about it, and I wasn’t rushing to work anyway, so I gave it the shot.

The episode?

Outcasts are in

This one. I have both movie versions on Region I, so the reference couldn’t be less than perfect. The music? This guy singing Champagne Supernova. Damn. Talk about setting the mood. Where is What’s The Story, Morning Glory when you need it?(Mental note to self: must get one. Now.) Instantly hooked, I went on a treasure hunt for Season One. The whole thing took three days, a couple of nasty DVD dealers, and well, a couple of hundred bucks. Well worth it, but probably not worth your time if I just babble about it here. Buy the DVDs instead and see it for yourself! J

Just a rundown of my favorite characters in the series:

Ryan – Do you honestly think you can get away with just one look all through out the season?
Seth – You’re funny. You remind me of me, in a less autistic way. Or maybe not.
Summer – Not my favorite character, but she sure looks good with Seth. Better yet, in a bikini.
Marissa – You are a drunk skanky who doesn’t know where to position herself in life. What the hell is wrong with you, girl?
Sandy and Kirsten – Can anyone request for a better set of parents? Open-minded, forgiving, idealistic, good sense of humor, and did I say rich?
Anna – Love the goofy pixie thing. Where can I find someone like you?
Hailey and Alex – Must stop drooling right now…

I heard that Season Three just started. As of press time, I’ve got ten more episodes of Season Two lined up. Let’s see how that goes.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005

US Open 2005 Quarterfinals - Men's Draw

Federer vs Nalbandian - The biggest news I've heard all week about the game's top dog is about losing a set (much credit to Nicolas Kiefer. Again.) No problem for him dispatching Nalbandian. Straight sets.

Hewitt vs Niemenen - I lost a pick because Safin withdrew. Drat. Hewitt has been hush-hush all tournament, and no one is complaining. Much less paying attention. He'll put out passing shot after passing shot in his match with Niemenen, the Finn will strike back with his beautiful one handed backhand. Nevertheless, I see a straight set finish.

Coria vs Ginepri - With Andy Roddick losing his mojo on the first day, Ginepri is more than willing to take the challenge. He outlasted Gasquet in 4R, and with the crowd helping him out, take out Coria in 4.

Blake vs Agassi - More reasons for US cheer. Rewarded by a wonderful summer season, Blake is expecting a trip to the semis, but not before taking out Agassi here. Having played a tough 5-setter with Malisse in the previous round, Andre just might be running low on reserves. If the match lasts beyond 4 sets, expect a Blake win. Then again, I'm predicting a 4-set crowd pleaser here.

Federer vs Hewitt - Poor Hewitt. Straight sets again.
Ginepri vs Agassi - See same comments as with previous round.

Federer vs Agassi - Sure, they've reserved the best for last. But then again, there is no stopping Federer. It is a final, and he has no plans of ruining his very long streak.
So, the set he lost today, was going to be the last one.

I'llmake sure YOU retire before I do

The game's top dog - no doubt about it.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005

US Open 2005 Quarterfinals - Women's Draw

Isn't that a beefy? One of my best pickings so far! Seven out of the chosen eight made it to the final 8. I shouldn't have chosen Svetlana. Tsk.

Maria vs Nadia - Top seed has never looked any better. Her 'home' Grand Slam may be on grass, but hard courts are the next best thing. Maria in straight sets.

Kim vs Venus - The match of the round. Kim is playing the season of her career, with only one loss on US soil all year. Venus on the other hand, is enjoying a revival of her own - she puts a stamp on Serena that she was top dog in the family. However, based on the Williams match on Arthur Ashe the other day, Venus still needs some shaping up to do to counter Kim's red-hot streak on the courts. The Belgian in two hard-fought sets.

Mary vs Amelie - So Mary got her revenge for a rather humiliating French Open final. Next up is fellow countrywoman Amelie in the QF. Much has been said that Amelie is a choker when it comes to tight matches, but the same can be said for Pierce. I have yet to see Pierce take a break point (or a set point, or a match point) at the first occassion. I'm sure she has, but they're not that much compared to "Break Point Number X" where X is greater than one. Let's see... If Mary wins the first set, she can pull through in 3; if Amelie does take it, she will win in two. I'm going for a 3-setter here for a Pierce victory.

Elena vs Lindsay - Lindsay has the easiest draw. We all know that. Straight sets again.

Maria vs Kim - Hmm. Kim will win, over a determined Maria in a 3-set classic.
Mary vs Lindsay - Mary won the battle of the veterans in her Roland Garros semis, but not here. Lindsay is too powerful for her. Straight sets.

Kim vs Lindsay - A dream final. I really wouldn't mind who will win this one: a cagey veteran on her quest for the icing on her cake, or a perennial bridesmaid to the Grand Slam weddings. I would want a Lindsay victory, but my gut says no. She got 2 out of 3 runner-up trophies from this year's Grand Slams, why break the trend? Kim to win her first Grand Slam in 3 wonderful sets. Oh, and did I say that her first GS win has a 2.2 million dollar price tag?

Runner-up again

2.2 million dollars baby!
Thursday, September 01, 2005

I got arrested today

Yup I did. One-way traffic violation. I must admit that bribery is bad, but the guy asked for it. I asked for a reprieve, a quick sorry, but he insisted. I rally don't mind, since 100 is far from 2 grand and a lot of hassle.

My bad for not knowing the city streets. Then again, it's my first day here. And my promdi accent just works wonders.
Monday, August 29, 2005

Tennis Is A Love Thing

Met her at the French Open.

Dated her at Wimbledon.

Left her at the US Open.
Friday, August 26, 2005

US Open 2005

Women's Singles
Defending Champion: Svetlana Kuznetsova

Quarter I

Defending champion Svetlana hasn't been playing well, being upset early in her recent tournaments. While nobody expected her to win last year, she comes in this tournament
with that same expectation - perhaps she can squeak in a couple of rounds without being noticed. I'm looking at an all-Russian final four here, with Alicia falling by the wayside due to injury.

Maria faces Eleni (who slew Justine in the opening round of Wimbledon), and with that very suspicious chest injury, she just might bow out early. It's funny to be seeded #1 in the tournament where she has fared the worst. :D Still, the wishes of the papparazzi will be granted - Maria can stay.

QF Match: Maria vs Svetlana

Quarter II
Kim has just lost one match all year in North America. She already nabbed 3 Tier I tites, and why not add that Grand Slam (finally) to the list. Honestly, 4 years of wishing for a Grand Slam should make one tired for her, but she's just so nice, isn't she?

Two Williams sisters and a beauty named Daniela round up the rest of this quarter. This sisters have been on a decline, with Serena just not feeling it, and Venus, not following up her surprise Wimbledon crown. Daniela on the other hand, has the confidence, and momentum going into this Slam, but surely, that wouldn't be enough to beat any of the sisters.

QF Match: Kim vs Venus

Quarter III

It's about time that Mary Pierce prove her mettle with the young ones on court. With her best showing in recent years and a recent Tier I event in her trophy case, Mary has the
momentum, and finally the confidence and fitness to make it to the final 8. She's going to face Justine in R16, and it's going to be match of that round (next to the Williams Sisters Show, since this is going to be in NYC).

I will be repeating what someone said about Amelie in the previous Grand Slam: If she doesn't make it to the quarterfinals, she probably doesn't deserve her ranking. But sure would like to see Anastasia trump her in that round.

QF Match: Mary vs Amelie

Quarter IV

While Lindsay's back has been giving her problems, I'm sure she won't be complaining with her draw. Let's all cross our fingers and hope that she won't face any injury, or be
exhausted from playing the tuneup before Flushing Meadows.

QF Match: Elena vs Lindsay


Men's Draw
Defending Champion: Roger Federer

Quarter I

How can one bet against Federer? I mean, really. A promising match in 4R would be against Ferrero, whose form is improving, only to be unlucky with the draws. Well, that's the real challenge for him then - to produce a good upset to lift his rankings. Sorry, but it ain't going to be here.

Further down this quarter is either Davydenko or Nalbandian. The Russian bowed out early at Pilot Pen, so I do hope he gets some rest. Like we all know, Nalbandian is one of the few Top 20 players with a winning record over Federer, but has been playing quite spotty during the hardcourt swing.

QF Match: Federer vs Nalbandian

Quarter II

I would have to disagree that Hewitt has a tough draw; or at least his road to the quarters. His only probable roadblock would be Taylor Dent - should it be a repeat of the Wimbledon matchup, sure would hope that this would be exciting.

Safin's draw - now that's a tough one. Mirnyi (who probably is more keen on winning doubles), Henman, Ancic and recent AMS semifinalist Mathieu. Throw in Safin's very unpredictable play, then this would be one big circus.

QF: Hewitt vs Safin

Quarter III

Poor Robby Ginepri, there was a lot of room available on this third quarter and still he snags a second-round match with Roddick. Should he make another upset, there is Gasquet waiting at R16.

A different story waits on the upper half of this quarter where Coria, the highest seed has had poor results of late, along with Puerta and Lopez whose only string of wins came from their respective Slam breakout appearances. For picking's sake, I'd go with Lopez.

QF Match: Lopez vs Roddick

Quarter IV

Things don't come easy for tennis' new 'IT' boy Rafael Nadal. Rusedski, Blake (who will eliminate one or the other on the first 3 days of the tournament), Johansson and Grosjean.

From here on out, I will be cheering for Agassi. I hope he stays healthy and ga
rners enough points to make in to Shanghai by Nov.

QF Match: Agassi vs. Nadal
Thursday, August 25, 2005

Things I'm Going To Miss...

... now that I'm going to be working in Makati.

1. Waking up at 830am, then getting to work by 9am.
2. Conversely, leaving the office at 430, then getting home by 5.
3. Playing tennis at 5, and having the tennis court all to myself.
4. Going to work in sandals.
5. Going to work in sandals and shorts on weekends.
6. Free parking. All day, every day.
7. My parking slot is 20 meters from my cubicle.
8. No elevators.
9. No traffic.
10. Napping during lunch break. On a bed. In my house.
11. Cheap lunch. Heck, cheap everything.
12. The white sand beach is 10 minutes away.
13. A very spacious cubicle.

That's the list so far. I'll be adding more when I start work on Monday
Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Packing Up

While I write this entry, I am listening to Hard-Fi, James Blunt, The Myriad and Dashboard Confessional. What a fantastic soundtrack for today.

Having spent most of the afternoon cleaning out my shelves, dumping important documents in my going-away box, and not so important ones in the gone box also known as the trash can, it was only normal that I end up with nothing but boxes. My training manuals are in Box 1, my DVDs in Box 2, and my books in Box 3. Clothes and CDs will be for tomorrow.

Didn't know that last night was the last night I will be spending in my own pad. Tsk. Goodbye independent lifestyle. The next 4 nights will be spent in a hotel room, similar to how I spent my first 15 nights here in Davao City.

And what a coincidence. The only magazine available here is PAL's Mabuhay Magazine, featuring the town I'm leaving. I was running through their list of establishments, must-go places, and I'm so proud that I've been to all of them. Not bad for a 2 year stay.

Come to think of it, I don't have pictures to prove it. Now, that's bad.
Thursday, August 11, 2005

This Just In

Opened my email today, and found that I will be transferring job positions. I have about 30 days to go around my area, and say goodbye to my friends here in Mindanao. Tough.

I'm happy that I'm going home to my family, but extremely sad to leave my adopted province so soon. :(
Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Music: Something New, Something Old

Let's start with a music history lesson. It was (already) ten years ago that a few of the landmark albums of the decade were released. Their most commercial successes and critical acclaim were collected during these years. Alanis and Mariah respectively released Jagged Little Pill and Daydream in 1995 and later slugged it out for the year's best selling album.

A decade later, both are back, with new, or somewhat new offerings. (I wanted to do a whole entry on Emancipation, but I think I can say it here: it is Mariah's most satisfying album after Butterfly - this is how I envisioned her to mature. Glad that she made that turnaround)

Jagged Little Pill should be in your CD collection. I must admit that I don't have one (Note to self: must have one), since mine was in the cassette format. I missed out on "Your House", because the hidden track was available only on CD format. Nevertheless, it was filled with angst, and enough grit to institutionalise Alanis in rock history. Selling well over 14 million copies worldwide, this album was the mid 90s.

Now, the whole album is remade into an acoustic melodious version. The songs are there, and knowing that they were made in a different context, provides me the feeling of earned maturity, and an evolution of musical taste.

I can not help but smile when listening to the album. I still buy compact discs, as I view them as photographs of the years past. Here is an old picture, with all memories in tow, breathed into life again, by the same artist. Commercial ploy, or artistic whim? I'd go for the latter.

A sweeter pill this time around
Monday, August 01, 2005

Me and My Wrinkly Nail

I am writing this entry with an injured finger (see earlier post), in a boring meeting. Sneaky.

Anyway, my right pointer finger was healing quietly until two days ago when I peeled the nail off, unintentional, of course. Imagine your second nail being peeled off. Ugh - that hurts terribly.

While I have wrapped my finger in bandage, at the same time giving it air to heal. Will give this another month or so to fully recover, and 3 months for the wrinkly nail to move.
Sunday, July 10, 2005

Somebody convince me!

I want to go to Shanghai to watch the year-end Tennis Masters Cup. As costs for accommodation would be taxing, I will be splitting it with a friend. Airfare should not be much of a problem - it's time to cash in all those Mabuhay Miles (hence that link at my blog).

What's stopping me then? First, there is still a cost involved here; there's no such this as a free lunch. The series tickets will take up most of my budget, that 266 USD, plus plane fares from my city of origin (not Manila) and back. There's travel tax, fuel surcharge, terminal fees. Not to mention my expenditures in Shanghai - taxi fares, meals, and other incidentals. On top of that, I have to buy souvenirs!

There is also the guilt factor. Should I be spending this much money on myself? Although I did earn it, saved up for it, bottom line is I feel guilty.

Last, my college scholarship forbids me to leave the country. Rephrase that - I must leave a cash bond to leave the country and claim it upon my return. Am I willing to undergo crappy redtape just to be gone for a week?

Mida, if you're reading this. Don't worry. I will be applying for my visa in a few days, and will be stacking up on my Mandarin classes. Better ask my sister to buy that Lonely Planet Guide to Shanghai pretty soon.

It might sound I'm already raring to go, but I just kind of feel guilty. To ease my guilt, here's a picture of the stadium where the top 8 players of the men's tour will be playing. Federer! Nadal! Roddick! Safin! Hewitt! That's just five of the eight, but it looks like a pretty strong field. If it was the year-end WTA Championships, I would go in the snap of a finger.

I wanna go here!

Hey, I read that the WTA Championships are moving from Los Angeles to Asia next year. I'm crossing my fingers it's going to be Beijing. Sign me up for that one right now.
After delaying this article for so long, I probably deserve to go back there right now. Not just because my butterscotch stash for personal pasalubong didn't last a week, but I forgot to take pictures of the old churches there.

Sneaking from work (sort of), I managed a side trip to Guimaras. I flew in from Cebu, and it was the worst 40 minute flight of my life. Drat. It like the plane was part of a World War II dog fight, worse, an Air Force (not ours, of course) parade. There were sudden turns, sudden dives (all I was waiting for was the loop) - in stormy weather. Sheesh!

Sparing our drunken pictures, this picture is all I have to offer. Iloilo has a new entertainment/gimmick strip, and it was one fun party - one of the bars there had ceiling fans, and they sure weren't kidding. These fans moved sideways, and the theory I have is that they're run by motor designed to rotate lechon manoks.

Fan of fans

Onward to Guimaras. It was a very short boat ride from Iloilo pier to Jordan wharf, but the drive from the wharf to the resort was a good thirty minutes. Scenic it wasn't, sorry. No mangoes on trees to pick (must've missed harvest season), and there was only one store that sold them.

This is the beach over at Rayman's in northern Guimaras. It's quiet, not too populated, and the water was fantastic. It may not have the sprawling white sand, but the water had a great temperature to it, and there were small waves strong enough for light massage. The water wasn't as salty also - not that there should be an index of saltiness, but the effect baking in the sun for half a day was only a very light sunburn. Yey.

Nice beach, eh?

We did drop by the Trappist Monastery to pick up pasalubong. Most of the areas were secluded from the public, so we just went shopping. Should've bought more cashew nuts. Some idiot stopped by to smell the flowers, but let's not post that.

This is at the lobby of the church. Contrasting with the old, old churches across the channel, this one was fairly new. Still looked good, though.

In front of the church

I may have pictures of Miag-ao Church (and me sitting on top of the tower), but I have to take pictures of the churches of Jaro and Molo still.
Sunday, July 03, 2005

Best Match Ever

No, not another tennis article you say. Sorry folks, but I can't resist. Last night, I saw the best Women's Match ever. And since I generally prefer watching ladies on court, it could just be the best match I ever saw.

Straight up: I had accepted the fact that Lindsay was going to lose to Venus in straight sets. Well, I was wrong - and unfortunately, only partially wrong. Venus smoked defending champion Maria in the semifinal, in a high quality match, and she might as well do the same to Lindsay in the championship match.

The stats were very close, 26 meetings, 14-12 in favor of Davenport. She also won the last three meetings, while Venus won the last three meetings on grass. It was one of the few remaining rivalries that were split down the middle.

No more retelling of the classic story, but its salient points that I just loved.

1. There were a lot of long rallies. Not just the regular passing balls from baseline to baseline, but ones that found all the corners of the court. Not just 8-shot rallies, but returning balls that had 12 or more strokes, including the 25-stroke cliffhanger in the third set.

2. Lindsay Davenport wasn't only serving and hitting well, she was also moving well. Last year, she didn't even want to run down the balls that were near. You can tell that she wanted to win this Grand Slam bad. Apart from that she stamped her usual (quiet) authority on court as the tour's best player.

3. Venus is back. Don't we just love comebacks? With the exception of Navratilova, of course.

4. To repeat what I had posted elsewhere, the quality of a match is not determined by how tight the scoreline is, nor by its duration, but also by the passion exhaled by its competitors. This match was off the charts on all counts.

5. Hey, this match may just convince Lindsay to put retirement on hold. She hasn't played this brilliant since she won her last Slam.

The only match that comes close to this one was the Jennifer-Martina Aussie Open Final in 2002. By 'close', I mean 'not even'.

Venus and Lindsay Lindsay with the runner trophy
Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Wimbledon 2005 - Quarterfinals

Wimbledon 2005 - Quarterfinals

Hey, the Big W had a better result for me this time around. Four out of 8 for the men, and five for the women.

Men's Draw

Federer vs Gonzalez - Strong serving Chilean blasts his way towards the QF. Sadly, there seems to be no chink the Federer armor. Federer in 3.
Hewitt vs Lopez - Hmmm. This is a nice call. Hewitt did a fantastic job wiping of the last of the serve-and-volleyers in the tournament, but Lopes seems to be quietly easing his way on court. I'd go with the Australian in four.
T. Johansson vs Nalbandian - Frankly I couldn't care less. Probably Nalbandian in 4.
Grosjean vs Roddick - Oooh. Should've picked Grosjean over Henman. Oh Well. Skipped once, and I'm not ashamed to skip picking him again. Roddick in straight sets.

Final results: Federer to meet Hewitt in the semis, and since it isn't Hewitt's birthday, Federer moves on to the finals (and gives Hewitt a bagel instead). In a rematch of the 2003 US Open semifinals, Roddick will have a tough time with the former Wimbly RUP, and will live up to his seeding. Sadly, that is all there is to it. Federer banks his hat trick of a Wimbledon, and Roddick has to do with the plaque again.

Women's Draw

Lindsay vs Svetlana - I think Kim just got a tad lucky with the tiebreak in R16. Lindsay is stroking the ball well, moving fluidly, and she actually looks like she wants to win this one. The top seed through in straight sets.
Amelie vs Anastasia - It's nice to see Anastasia clawing her way through the tournament. This should serve as her springboard to salvage what is left of the tour. Though the real question is, can she overpower the Frenchwoman? I think not. Amelie in straight sets.
Mary vs Venus - Out to prove that her Grand Slam appearance in Paris was no fluke, Mary works her way to another GS QF, with a little help from the opening of the draw. Hate to say this, but, Venus is on a comeback trail herself. Nevertheless, she will emerge as the favorite here, in 2 tight sets.
Nadia vs Maria - Sorry Maria haters, but she is looking ruthless (and okay, perhaps tactless) in defense of her title. This one shoul be in 2 straight sets also.

Final results: Lindsay will outplay Amelie, while Maria will defeat a Williams sister on grass to prove her dominance on grass. In the end, this prediction will be the same as the one I did for the French Open (but this time I will no longer be blindly wishing for their wins) - Lindsay defeating Maria in the final.
Saturday, June 18, 2005

Wimbledon 2005

Gentlemen's Singles
Defending Champion: Roger Federer

Quarter I

Top-ranked Federer is looking for a hat-trick for his WImbledon collection. His road to the quarters has been fairly easy, looking back on the previous 2 slams of the year - only to be stopped by birthday boys Safin and Nadal in the semis. Honestly, this astrology bit is not much of a bother for me, but J.Johansson is all set up to meet the defending champion on his birthday at the quarterfinals.

Pimpin has been doing poorly of late, but his serves and severe groundtrokes put him at an advantage, and to sweep past consistent GS performer Davydenko (among others) to reach the quarters is more than likely.

QF Match: Federer vs J. Johansson

Quarter II

This quarter, not the fourth one (see below) is the hardest part of the draw. A grudge match of Hewitt (did anyone actually miss him?) versus Blake, Ancic vs Hrbaty in 3R, and back to back matches against Paradorn and the Scud for Safin.

When all the smoke clears from this quarter, Safin will face super Mario and Hewitt will square off with Dent in R16.

QF Match: Hewitt vs Ancic

Quarter III

Every draw will always have a wide open quarter, and this is the one for this tournament. Canas isn't exactly stellar on grass; Novak, Schuettler and Mirnyi have had their better years behind them. On the comeback trail are Haas and Thomas Johansson, yet they will be going heads up in 3R. My guess is that Haas will get past Johansson and Novak in the next round to reach the quarters.

Former runner-up Nalbandian has a good chance go the distance this year, and will face the winner of Nadal and Schalken in R16. My guess again, Schalken will outlast the French Open champ, but will wilt against the former Wimby runner-up.

WF Match: Haas vs Nalbandian

Quarter IV

With Karlovic as the only one posing as a threat for last year's runner-up, Roddick should easily make it to the quarters. However, the story and quite the same at the top of this quarter. We have perennial favorite, Henman, and a consistent grass performer, Grosjean. Then toss in Malisse and Popp, then this part will be quite a circus.

Experience will bring Henman past Popp, but not too sure with Grosjean. I'll go with Tim.

QF Match: Henman vs Roddick


Ladies Singles
Defending Champion: Maria Sharapova

Quarter I

Top seeded Lindsay surprised everyone with a QF appearance in Paris (and surprised us consequently with her loss to Pierce), and I'm hoping she's on top of her game on grass. With or without practice. Again, she's slated to meet Kim in R16, and this time, Kim will defeat Lindsay, having gotten some practice over at Eastbourne.

Same deal for Svetlana over Patty - warm up events count.

QF Match: Kim vs Svetlana

Quarter II

Amelie needs to recover from a mediocre year (given her ranking) and salvage what is left for a great Grand Slam run. Two titles and QF at Melbourne is a great record, but we are all wondering when her GS moment will come (same goes for Kim). She's got a clear shot at the SF here, with an almost shoo-in spot for the QF.

Anastasia and Elena D are scheduled to meet in the R16, but that's if Anastasia has recovered from her emotional baggage, and Elena from her sore thigh. Most probably not. I'd like to bet that Jelena would take their place in the quarterfinals.

QF Match: Amelie vs Jelena

Quarter III

My favorite section of the draw yet. Justine to get past Mary or Ana to reach the QF, Daniela to make a cameo appearance against Venus, and a sister showdown in the 4R. This is the earliest they've met in recent memory, right?

QF Match: Justine vs Serena

Quarter IV

The defending champion does have a good draw. I want to see her whoop that Bulgarian Sesil. Hehehe. That taken aside, not much problems for her, 4R matchup with Tatiana (yes!) and a QF match with compatriot Nadia.

QF Match: Nadia vs Maria
Friday, June 10, 2005

Travel: Summer Escapade 2005 in Nasugbu

Every year, our little group tries its best to organise a summer outing. In contrast to last year's reservation disaster, this year's was an absolute breeze. Thanks Isa!


Let me start this story with my boss. He had 365 days to visit me, and it had to be the day I would be rushing off to Manila for the annual outing. Almost didn't make it. Fast forward to me waiting for 45 minutes at the Fort looking like an absolute promdi. I had boxes of fish, fruit and a big duffel bag for all my personal effects. Could've probably just walked over to Market Market to sell my produce.

Anyway, we got to Nasugbu, Batangas at 1 in the morning, after the ritual Starbucks coffee over at Tagaytay. There are a lot of establishments at the ridge you can barely see the lake anymore. Not to worry, there was a lot of great views by the beachfront.

To cut the story short, it was a fantastic time for our annual reunion. Asuide from the fact that we see most of each other on a more than a monthly basis.

We're having another one in a few days, and this time, we're crossing some islands.

Life is a beach, not a bitch

Happy campers!
Tuesday, June 07, 2005


I just wanted to update my blog by saying "I have nothing to update".

I'll be posting the summary of our annual Summer Escapade soon.
Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Roland Garros 2005 - Quarterfinals

Officially, my most disastrous prediction I've made since I started. 3/8 for the ladies, and 2/8 for the men. Tough. Let's see if I can jinx them all.

Women's Draw

Lindsay vs Mary - An instant flashback to the pre-Y2K matchups, it's nice to see both players fight through the young competition and wind their way to the finals. Mary is a lot fitter, running balls all over the court, while Lindsay has found the belief that she might actually complete her collection. I call Lindsay, in (surprise, surprise) 3 sets again.

Elena vs Sesil - I did get the Elena part, but the last name wrong. Crafty doubles specialist Elena is up against new rising star (determined to kick Maria's butt, or so she says) Sesil K-something. I'll spell out her complete last name if she makes it to the semis. Which I think she will - 2 tight sets.

Nadia vs Ana - Nadia was in Ana's shoes 2 years ago when she landed a surprise QF slot. Except for the fact thet Ana beat Nadia in their last meeting over at Miami. Still, it's experience here - Nadia in 2 sets.

Justine vs Maria - Probably the most anticipated quarterfinal match in any department. Justine, armed with her formidable backhand and a strong mental resolve to win, is up against another mentally tough, clay rookie named Maria. So, how does Justine solve a problem called Maria? Long rallies will invite the errors from the Wimbledon champ, but at the same time, it will be draining for the Henin who played for more than 3 hours last night. I smell an "upset" - Maria in 3 long sets.

Final results: This might actually go to the seedings. Lindsay will complete her career grandslam, while Maria, will come up a little short.


Men's Draw

Federer vs Hanescu - This is where it gets tricky for the tournament favorite. I bet that Federer doesn't know squat with this young Romanian. With that taken into account, the young Hanescu might scratch the Swiss record and take away a set from him. Federer in 4.

Nadal vs Ferrer - Outlasting the defending champion in the previous round should be enough for David Ferrer. Nadal in straight sets.

Davydenko vs Robredo - Winner of this QF match should get enough momentum to make it to the finals. My prediction says that Robredo will defeat another Russian to make it to the next round in 5 sets.

Canas vs Puerta - An all-Argentinian affair will be determined by experience. Canas in 3 sets.

Final results: All-Spanish affair, still. Nadal, debuts as a Grand Slam champion, ending a dream clay season, while Robredo looks by.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Roland Garros 2005

Men's Singles
Defending Champion: Gaston Gaudio

Quarter I

Like the women's top seed, the men's top seeded player is looking at this championship to complete his set of four. Shouldn't be much of a problem for Federer, not because the draw is easy, but because he's just so freaking good. Well, maybe the draw helps a bit. Gonzalez will take out consistent clay performer Christophe Rochus, Chela to take out Henman in R32, and Nalbandian in R16 (one of the few players with a winning record against Federer). The only wildcard: Carlos Moya. I don't get him, he' supposed to be good at clay, and a winning player, but it seems that the expectations (for him) are always set so high.

QF Match: Federer vs Chela

Quarter II

With the buzz in this quarter of the draw, it actually makes Federer a sideshow for the competition. All eyes are now on Rafael Nadal, with a smoldering streak in clay, and the current holder of most tournament wins this season. He is coming in as the favorite, though he is ranked 2nd in the Indesit race, but seeded 4th (then again, Seed ain't nothing but a number). Just to echo the sentiments of everyone at the thread, it would've been nicer for Nadal to square off with Gasquet in a later round, and for Nadal to be on the other half of the draw.

While Nadal will indeed injure French hopes by defeating Gasquet and Grosjean in back-to-back rounds, defending champion Gaudio will have to face the Spanish Armada to defend his title. Mantilla, Ferrer and eventually Nadal to make it through to the semis.

QF Match: Nadal vs Gaudio

Quarter III

This quarter is home to previous champions Kuerten and Ferrero all struggling their way back to the Championship race. Also, Coria is out to prove that last year's title was really his (Inasmuch as Ferrero claimed the title in 2003 after losing to Costa the year before). Not much competition for Coria, with Youzhny and Haasfalling by the wayside. The bottom side is all lucky dip. Kuerten vs Robredo and Safin vs Ferrero. An in-form Robredo will win over Kuerten, but the prediction for Safin and Ferrero wouldn't be as easy.

QF match: Coria vs Ferrero

Quarter IV

It may sound like a far-fetched idea, but I'm still betting on an all-American quarterfinals here. Almost. Agassi can make it past Clement in 3R, Canas in 4R, but Roddick will not get past R16-thanks to his best buddy Ljubicic. Other matches of note will be Lopez vs Canas in R32 and watch out for Volandri vs Roddick in the same round.

QF Match: Agassi vs Ljubicic


Women's Singles
Defending Champion: Anastasia Myskina

Quarter I

In the twilight of Lindsay's career, there is still one Grand Slam that eludes her: the French. While Paris has been generally unkind to the American tennis players, the draw gods are quite cheering for the current world #1. The only one to stop her - Kim Clijsters in R16. Then again, Kim has some last minute injuries that may stop her from winning her first slam. With all that taken into consideration, there is no better chance for Lindsay to complete her Slam collection this year.

On the other end of the draw, expect Swiss Patty to sneak into the quarters.

QF Match: Lindsay vs Patty

Quarter II

Last year's runner up pulled some surprises by clawing her way to the finals. This year, all eyes on her, as more tennis fans are taking notice of her solid ground strokes, her all-around atheleticism, and of course, that dying-albatross serve. Not much problems for her, unless she repeats her Melbourne meltdown.

The bottom part of this quarter would probably be the most interesting: titleholder Anastasia going heads up with crafty Emelie Loit in 3R, and a probably tired Venus to face former semifinalist Fabiola Zuluaga in 2R. Anastasia, has to put on her power game to outwit the lefty Loit, but with the way she's been playing (since last year), this is one upset waiting to happen. As for Venus playing the week before Paris in Istanbul, let's just hope that she wraps all her games in the Williams fashion: fast and relentless.

QF Match: Elena vs Venus

Quarter III

Where has Elena Bovina been all this time? Last time I think I saw her was after winning last year's Mixed Doubles in Australia. But I digress, [i]miss ko lang siya[/i].

Alors, the French should have a mouth-watering quarterfinal match on their grounds if all goes to plan.

QF Match: Tatiana vs Amelie

Quarter IV

How many titles did Justine win before this year's French? Was it three? Anyway, We're all glad to see that the Belgians are back on court, and the Olympic gold medalist is pulling all the stops to win her 4th Grand Slam and reclaim the top ranking. She will most definitely romp her older opponents in the first two rounds (Martinez and Ruano Pascual) before taking in Argentinian Dulko in the 4R.

If we all remember last year, before Maria won Wimbledon, she showed the tennis world that she meant business by reaching the quarters. Probably the same results this year.

QF Match: Justine vs Maria
Thursday, May 19, 2005


My right index finger hurts a lot and since I can barely type, much less have a coherent train of thought, I will say this in Tagalog. Bwakanang ina, ang sakit ng daliri ko!!

Naipit ko siya sa pinto kanina, and there's internal bleeding right here. OUCH!
Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Travel: Lost

view of Surigao City

While the boat for Siargao island sailed away a couple of hours ago, I had to be content with the mainland of Surigao City. Again. (Read my old blog for that other story). However, this time, I made sure that things will be different. Fresh from watching a Surigao City travelogue the night before, I was convinced that I can make this business trip an adventure in itself.

Travel Asia featured the Sohoton Caves, with an underground passage that's only accessible during low tide; the floating village, with houses on stilts; the Sto Nino church with a hostoric past. And just like Siargao, I missed them all. Brilliant, there goes that plan. The closest thing I almost got to was the pebble beahces of Mabua. The feature showcased black granite pebbles of various sizes sacttered on a shore, then nearby, a tall cliff with moderately sparsed with trees getting battered by powerful waves. Instead of getting a vivid description of the place, I will narrate as to how I got lost trying to get there.

The show said 15 minutes away from the city proper. My trip took an hour, and ended up in another town. Anyway, asking a couple of locals on how to drive to the beach sounded easy. You make a left at this junction with a waiting shed, then BAM you're there. I ended up to the port that will take me to the Visayas region. Not a total loss though, I ended up in Lipata Hills, on the western side of Surigao City with an amazing view of the city. Made the most of the situation, and I took this picture. An unfinished church overlooking the Gateway City of Mindanao, with a spectacular mansion right beside it.

So that afternoon wasn't so bad as I thought. Great view, with lush mountain sides and rugged cliffs on a wide shore. Tomorrow perhaps?


Image hosted by

Image hosted by

I woke up early the following morning with a strong resolve to haul my butt for some boating. Was it just me, or did 7 am look like 10, since the sun was way high up? Nevertheless, I proceeded by trike, locally called trisikads, and proceeded to a gasoline station under a bridge. My job is basically to ensure the integrity of gasoline station equipments, and of these sites included a gasoline station under a brdige. Pretty odd eh? This filling point naturally catered to boats going under the bridge, and therefore had the best idea of how to hire a boat. With my trusty camera and a plastic bag to protect an extra shirt and my wallet, my companion and I boarded the boat and headed off to the nearest island.

Upon arrival at the island, one thing came to my mind: Lost. So okay, maybe Survivor. An uninhabited island with coconut treest linig its shoreline, it seemed to be the perfect paradise. The water was clear and quite cold, but I took a bath anyway. There was a sign, saying that it was a privately owned island, and we had to pay 25 bucks for entry. I didn't see a gate, so screw that. Nobody's collecting anyway. After a couple of minutes, I re-boarded the boat and proceeded to the next island.

It's funny, since Island #2 seemed pretty close to the shore, but that was another mistake for the books. It was a good half hour from the first island, bringing the total travel time to an hour. This destination wasn't exactly an island - it was a portruding rock that had no plants, just washed up white corals. The effect of it was fantastic: nothing but white white white dried corals on a big black rock that was as slippery as a greased pig. Just check out the picture!

What we didn't know, we were already swimming at the borders of Leyte. That's Region 8, I was at Region 13. So, I guess, I have officially landed, hmm, bad word - BEEN to all regions of the Visayas and Mindanao. Just a couple more regions to go, then complete my checklist (looking forward to Region II and V).

I still haven't landed on the famed Siargao island, but this episode was well worth it. September perhaps?
Sunday, May 15, 2005

Thursday TV nights

I particularly miss the days that I devoted my time to television. It has been so hard for me to find a telly show that I will religiously follow the schedule of. Though I am halfway between a couch potato and a non-TV watcher...let me explain that. That's pretty vague.

In general, I don't watch TV. Prior to reality shows, I don't remember following anything with a passion. I didn't exacty watch the first Survivor, but I followed The Australian Outback closely that I cut work just to watch the finale. I also remember skipping parties just to dash home and catch the first showing of TAR 3 (and watch about 3 replays of it). Those were the days eh? Stopped watching Survivor when it became exclusive to a non-cable channel; and ever since The Amazing Race got too public with their stop in the Philippines (among other reasons), my interest waned.

Lucky, Mark Burnett is a greedy chap. Like all first seasons, I never got to watch The Apprentice in full. Now, my Thursdays are reserved to watch The Donald fire some business wannabes. Probably this is my personal response to the current climate of reality shows where meritocracy does not count. Survivor is never about outplaying to win, but more on outwitting by strategy, a who's-covering-your-ass affair. American Idol is never about who's the better singer, but who's the most popular. And while TAR remains to be my favorite show, reality or not, luck is a constant factor in the game.

Maybe I'm just getting older. I want to see people get fired for their bang-ups rather than see someone get the boot for believing somebody else's lies. Then again, I think that people should be lauded for the things that they get right, and people kicked out for the things they get wrong. The Apprentice gets me. I'm currently watching Season 2 while the 3rd season is under way. I haven't completed the first one (can't wait to get the DVD), so there's a lot of TV nights still in store for me.
Admittedly, TAR 7 is not my favorite season. Nowhere close. However, it's amazing that just one episode can actually endear you to the whole series. Probably that's what Season Six viewers felt when Freddy and Kendra won. Who?

I always try to look at each series as a whole. The novelty of challenges, the diversity of locations, and the dynamics of the contestants. Season Seven had its standouts: the mini-CSI clue running, native bushman challenges; jolly old England, intercontinental Istanbul, old Incan grounds, and the african safari. There are also downsides, with very physical challenges (where can you get a 70 year old woman scaling walls?), India (haven't we had enough?) and, most of all, the bland contestants.Rob and Amber were there to constantly raise the bar, but that was basically it.

But, its finale made up for it all. It's about time that the race went to the Carribean, to experience a non-mainland Latin America. Most of all, a winner that I liked. No, Uchenna and Joyce did not do much to keep their competition scrambling, but they had a back story that made them a sentimental favorite. Childless, and both victims of Enron (forgot the other company), they were literally begging for money at the gates of a million dollar prize.

I particlarly loved Joyce just for shaving her Rageddy Anne hair. Honestly, she looked more beautiful with a shaved head.

Deserving, maybe, maybe not, the most cutthroat racers racers usually ended second: Frank/Margarita, Tara/Wil, Colin/christie, Kris/Jon and now Rob/Amber, but I was throughly satisfied (so did all their co-competitors) that Uchenna and Joyce won.

Winning a race is not just a million dollars, it's the morale boost that gives you the confidence to have a fresh perspective in life. And that one really counts.
Monday, May 09, 2005

Travel: Heart of Darkness

There were quite a number of titles I wanted to use for this entry. Among the nominees were I Finally saw the Pacific, or Great, I forgot to charge my battery, or I'm so tired I can barely write my blog.


My day started at 5am, where I had to wake up much earlier than usual. Admittedly, I slept again. Fast forward to 2 hours later, still asleep, but was 100 kilometers north of home in a moving vehicle. E sa inaantok pa talaga ako nun e. So my companion and I, took a right on the Davao-Butuan road, and started the long, no, very looong trek on a winding, unpaved road for Surigao del Sur. Each barangay would have about 200 meters worth of cemented roads, for a cluster of 20 houses - probably a not so nice view, but my ass was being murdered by the van's shock absorbers that I could barely care.

I reached the city of Bislig at noon, a full 6 hours from the minute I left my house, and while the bay reminded me of Cagayan de Oro's, with this version featuring the tranquil Pacific. Everything was eerily quiet, or have maybe it's just that I saw The Ring recently and I am reminded of the mountain shack in the movie? Moving on, while you you may think that the Pacific is overrated, it's not. Not a lot of countries feel the full brunt of the largest ocean in the world, but we live in the frontline of that.

See the Pacific. Check. Now that's settled, let me tick that off my tourist-checklist, where a standout entry says "see Taiwan from Ilocos on a clear day".

Yikes, this blog entry is going nowhere. Anyway.

The batteries in my camera were not charged. Doh! No pictures for me, but there wasn't much of a view either. There were nice ones, but I didn't get the opportunity to take some snapshots. Oh well, next time.

Now, I must confess, I never did get to finish Joseph Conrad's novel. I read the first 30 pages of it, and, ultimately got bored. I did manage to fork up some details of the novel, and it was about a long river cruise in the jungle. That's exactly what I felt, except that it wasn't a smooth water ride, but a bumpy all-terrain trek. The jungle was lush with old trees, thanks to the reforestation efforts of the Paper Industries Corporation/Company of the Philippines (PICOP). Everytime the vegetation would clear, we would find ourselves almost floating in the mountain, being surrounded with mist and fog brought by the frequent rain.

The last time I entered a jungle was a trek with the 10k club, up the Mud Springs in Makiling. I heard the phrase "10 minutes na lang!" about four times. Similarly, i had to bear with "duol na ra" (malapit na lang) this trip. All complaints aside, being in the jungle again was quite disarming but reassuring that there are still trees, acres and acres of them, found in our country. Stuff I may not be able to see elsewhere includes a wild boar crossing the road, and logs with girths of about 2 feet loaded onto trucks.

I want to see the three-tiered Tinuy-an falls, and I will be staying overnight for that one.

ps. Sorry for two things: This has been more of a complain-a-thon rather than and a travelogue, and for the disastrous order of narratation. Seems like I banged my head harder than I initially thought.
Ten Years of

*couldn't get enough of the album; and couldn't get my hands on the last 2 studio albums of EBTG (Temperamental and Walking Wounded), so here I go with an ode to Everything but the Girl)


Mental note to self: write an album review when you first hear the album. however, like this one im just reviewing, it's simply so addicting. Blogging can wait.

Crossover may not be the appropriate term for Everything but the Girl, but they did just that. From the soft jazzy sounds sounds of Idlewild to the club beats of Corcovado, EBTG transformed itself from hotel lounge to club lounge. And all I can say is thank you Todd Terry.

Adapt or Die is a compendium that totally drops the subtleness of their previous records to a melange of pulsating rhythms. The songs mostly come from Walking Wounded and Temperamental, their only recent albums with totally new material. Great new mixes of Corcovado (and this time, it better captures the Brazilian party mood), a bigger and meaner version of Missing and a cooled down version of Five Fathoms. Even DJ Jazzy Jeff and Kenny Dope lend a hand to transform some of EBTG's songs.

For any true believer that Ben and Tracy did the right thing by doing House, this album is for you.
Monday, May 02, 2005

A day with GK

GK777 is a non-profit organisation with a dream to build 700,000 homes in 7,000 communities in 7 years. The end seems so far, but with lots of people pitching in their own bit of help, the goal is more than attainable.

Labor Day Sunday was spent visiting six different GK777 sites here in Davao City. Today's Nation build was spearheaded by Singles for Christ, Couples for Christ and Gawad Kalinga - none of which I am affiliated with. Proud to say, I just asked a friend if I could volunteer, so I did. Expecting some masonry work and/or painting to be part of the job specs, I was ready to get down and dirty.

It was amazing, six different sites within one city, but six different atmospheres and six different experiences. It was an immersion packed into a day.

The first site was a true site opener - Davao City Jail. The day started with a mass with the inmates, inside the jail premises. Although I am more than sure that there will be no jailbreak within the next 2 hours I will be spending there, you can't help but think that you will be sitting right beside suspected criminals that live in a prison cell. The holding area for visitors provided a clear panorama of what happens in a city jail (which was much smaller than what I had expected): people idling around, people lining up for security check, people carrying tubs of rice for their breakfast, and a cluster of people in a crowded cell peering from the shadows. I think that everyone planning a retreat, or any similar introspective event should visit a jail. It makes you think that these people have nothing to live for, wasting what could be the best years of their lives being watched by guards, within captive walls. While the picture that I paint is no cheerier than a thatched barn in the middle of a storm, the inmates were quite spirited - it was Sunday, and it was a day of celebration.

The next site was called Gravahan, right smack in the middle of downtown Davao City, and beside the Davao River. It was playtime with the kids, they had their presentations, and we toook our pictures. What caught my attention here was that the houses that GK built was adapted to combat the conditions of houses placed near rivers: flood. It was as if the houses were on stilts, like women lifting the skirt when walking across a puddle.

Off to the next area, which was the most famous one: Punta Dumalag. This site was located beside a beautiful white sand (and undeveloped) beach, and was on the news several times for pawikans shoring up every now and then. Since this was the most famous one, it was the most developed, 51 brightly colored, landscaped houses with cobblestone (or something like it) streets leading from the village entrance all the way to the Kalinga center. We arrived just in time for lunch. The residents received the houses without having to spend a single cent, and they are repaying this debt with their hospitality and graciousness. It was a lovely neighborhood, where everybody knew everyone else, even the visitors. They welcomed all the visitors for meals, and a lively chat. Remember that portion of Enchanted Kingdom leading up to Rialto with the Main Street shops and tiled floors? This was a cozy copy of that.

We got lost on the way to the fourth site, called Riverbridge, which was located beside a mine quarry. Blaring loud (Christian) music greeted us, together with kids preparing for a Knock First contest, with their own houses as the specimen. Located on a flat plain, this area seems to be the least visited, due to the inaccessibility, but there were a lot more people hanging out here than the others. I treated myself to some strawberry juice and some fried banana, to which I also served out to the participants, completing my afternoon fare.

My 5th stop was for Sta Marta, up in the mountains of Catalunan Grande. Here I got to participate with actual house building. Well, it more like soil compacting, since there weren't much equipment on hand. A happy reunion with friends I met at the jail (not the inmates, but other fellow volunteers), and a couple of sentences, I managed to commit visiting another site. Not that I'm complaining.

The last site was beside rice paddies in Calinan. It was the day's worst road conditions, but since it was the last for the day, I was more than convinced to finish the trip. We arrived at the area, with everyone finished and packed (their service jeep arrived 3 seconds after I did), there wasn't much to do. A quick inspection of the facilities, a well-filled classroom and clean water supply for everyone, the first GK site in Davao City was a sustainable community that is a testament of the organisation's mission.

It was the most different day I had ever had - rice paddies, a mountain quarry, a riverside, a mountain field, a beachfront, and a jail in one day. And the diversity beginsd there, a lot of people, much more so their background, working towards a common goal. Giving a house to these people is so much more than giving them a house. This gives them hope, a second chance to turn their lives around, or maybe begin it. I'm glad I volunteered for this.
Ooh, a new blog. Oooh

Like all people moving in, give me a couple of days to move all my stuff in here. :)