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