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 Photobucket.com

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

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 Remixes.com

*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. :)