Monday, February 13, 2012

Cam Bo Xao @Pho Hoa

Had dinner at Pho Hoa, a Vietnamese resto. I developed a love for that particular type of cuisine while staying in Hong Kong back in the mid-90s. Had Cam Bo Xao which is tenderloin beef on rice with a bowl of salad on the side. I always order sliced tomatoes to go with it as it adds flavor. Dig in!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Giving a lecture at State U

In the last three years, aside from my media work, I have taught in my alma mater, Ateneo de Manila University, and have done workshops/lectures in other universities like UST, San Beda, Immaculate Concepcion Academy, Mindanao State University, and Perpetual Help. Although I gave a talk at a UP Junior Marketing Association, today was really my first time to give a lecture in State U. I was invited by a class in the College of Business Administration to talk about social media as modern version of "word-of-mouth" marketing and how to use it. Having used it unconventionally for my career, it has been a Godsend. 

The talk was at the Villar Lecture Room where some 30 students were present for the talk. Quite honestly, I was nervous at the beginning never mind if I have done this so many times. I guess, once the first few minutes go by, I'm okay. And like my Journalism class in Ateneo, I made this as interactive as possible by making sure the audience was involved. Loved the interaction with the students.

The class' professor, Maila Pablo of Nestle was most helpful in easing me through. I am also thankful from the invite from State U to teach there. I would if there was another day in the week and there was more time. As it is, my sked's pretty full. I am not even sure if I'll be back for next school year.

Was surprised at the end how the student's signed a Starbucks mg. But the writings sort of faded as it was passed around. By the time, I got home, I could hardly ready anything that was written. Luckily, I took a snapshot while at Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. Nifty end to a beautiful day. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A class field trip to the Wawa Dam in Montalban, Rizal

A class field trip to the Wawa Dam in Montalban, Rizal
A lesson on tourism, history, social concern, and journalism.
words and pics by rick olivares

Where art thou, Bernardo Carpio?

In my journalism class, I try to make writing fun for my students by presenting topics that appeal to their taste buds and sense of adventure. Sometimes I make the classes issue-oriented. I don’t believe in forcing them to write. I will get far better results by having them write about things that are relevant.

One of our topics has been history, tourism and geography. We initially wanted to go to Corregidor but it was pricey for the students. I tried to get a discount but the travel agency that handles the tours on the Rock never got back to me after they said they would.

While talking to my dad about it, he suggested going to Wawa Dam which isn’t really too far yet isn’t much of a tourist spot. It also carries with is a special significance owing to the legend of Bernardio Carpio and that the nearby caves were used by Andres Bonifacio’s Katipunan.  

After a couple of postponements, we finally got to do it today, Tuesday, February 7, 2012 since it was also a holiday in Ateneo (President’s Day). The field trip was always considered to be “extra work” and “optional” but would help the other catch up on their grades.

We left Ateneo around 930am, 30 minutes later than we would have liked since Stu Balmaceda was late (hahaha). It took us about 45 minutes to get there as there was a little traffic owing to road construction.

Once we got there, I wasn’t sure if we arrived in some quarry because of all these massive marble boulders everywhere. But we were finally here.

I had to register first at the local tourism office where they assigned us a guide named Michael. Since it was a Tuesday morning as they mostly get their tourists on weekends, we had the place for ourselves (aside from the locals) and that was just fine.

One of the first things we noticed were the locals carrying huge sacks of coal and vegetables down the mountain to sell in the markets of Metro Manila. Busy day, I chuckled. There is money to be made.

We took shots of the stone that is said to be the footprint of the mythological Bernardo Carpio, a giant of a man who was trapped between two mountains and was trying to break free of them. As the folklore goes, when there is an earthquake, Bernardo Carpio is said to be trying to free himself.

The rocks that are said to belong to the mythological Bernardo Carpio. 
Aimee, Bea & Meg at the watchtower.
Then we went up the dam’s old watchtower that was built by the American Colonial government in 1909. The watchtower was used by Japanese forces during World War II but has since been stripped of all hardware. Most of the effects of the war have been scuffed away but our guide said that there are still a few nicks on the watchtower here from bullets. Up to the last decade, it was still common to find pieces from fallen warplanes or even munitions.

The Wawa Dam used to supply Metro Manila with water until the (Angat) La Mesa Dam was built to replace it in 1967.

The reservoir because of years of disuse and lack of maintenance is green from the moss and siltation. Below the dam are now cottages for tourist use (Php150 for the whole day). They sell beer in a nearby sari sari store and it must be a unique way to booze away.

Wawa Dam.
According to Michael, there are plans to revive the dam, to build a cable car, and to beauty the area. I sure hope so because I find it to be a colossal waste of resources as the fresh water that comes from the mountains is used as a bathing area for the locals. I inquired about the locals using the river as a dumping ground and Michael said that they mindful of further polluting the river. He hesitated for a few minutes before answering so I am not sure if he has told me the whole truth. And the path up to the dam is littered with trash. The watchtower has its share of graffiti. So much for conservation. I shook my head in disappointment.

Stef, Bea, Meg, Robi and Anne on the raft to the other side so we could go to the cave.
We took a few minutes rest at the tourist office while Michael scrounged around for flashlights as we were going to the cave -- called Pamintinan -- that was used as a hideout first by the Katipunan (during the Revolutionary War) then later by the Japanese (WWII).

We took a raft (Php100 per trip back and forth) that took about a minute for us to cross to the other side. Since there were 10 of us, that meant two trips.

From there, we had to do a little climbing to get up to an observation deck at the entrance of the cave.
The entrance to Pamintinan cave.

We prayed first before we entered the cave – for those who perished inside and in the surrounding areas during the wartime. Once inside the air became a little stale. The flooring was uneven and rocky. The flashlights and hardhats (rental fee is PhP50 each) came in handy because the last thing we needed was someone to bang their head against the rocks.

The walls and the ceiling were damp with water seeping through. After walking for about 30 minutes, we decided to turn back. It was too dark and the mud was really causing problems with our footwear. Our best advice, wear strong and thick sandals or rubber shoes because the mud will ruin everything else.

We were done past 130pm and drove back to Ateneo.

I thought it was a fun day for the class (even if only nine of my students – Robi Non, Meg Rementina, Aimee Dacanay, Stef Martschei, Bea Ocampo, Chris de Chavez, Denise Jose, Anne Malicdem, and Stu Balmaceda not to mention my comrade in arms Brosi Gonzales made it). The idea was to awaken a sense of adventure especially for local tourism, to get a better grip on Philippine history, and to introduce a sense of awareness about social issues that plague our country. All that and to write about it.

As for this old dog, it’s never too late to learn new tricks. It was a day well spent.

With Stef and Anne after our "rafting."

Check out my students' group blogs here:
Aimee Dacanay and Robi Non

Chris deChavez, Bea Ocampo, and Anne Malicdem

Meg Rementina

Stef Martschei and Stu Balmaceda

Denise Jose

and some videos that I took:

Monday, February 6, 2012

I'll be jamming today.

Today, February 6, would have been the 66th birth anniversary of Bob Marley had he not been cut down by an assassin. I became a fan of Marley way back when I was in high school. My love for reggae music intensified through the years and his music remains a constant in my iTunes rotation. Happy Birthday, Bob Marley! One love.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Completing my collection of animated film faves

For as long as I have lived, I have always enjoyed animation. Those old Marvel superhero cartoons complemented my love for comic books. As a kid, I wanted nothing more than to write and illustrate a Marvel comic book series. And to this day, it is still a dream. And I got to stalk former Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada outside their Park Avenue offices in Manhattan while trying to pursue that dream.

Back in my school days, I tried to collect betamax tapes (later in VHS format) of my favorite cartoons. The problem with tape-based material is they get worn out after repeated playing so I was quite thankful when DVDs were invented.

In recent years, I began to collect the animated films of my youth beginning with the Ralph Bakshi animated adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Then I picked up Ninja Scroll, Mobile Suit Gundam: Stardust Memory (my all-time fave Gundam series), Akira, and Battle Angel Alita. I also got Appleseed, Patlabor the Movie, Cowboy Bebop, and Blood the Last Vampire.

Then the other day, my package containing the other Baskhi films Wizards and Fire and Ice as well as Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind arrived. In a marathon session, I watched all three films including their bonus features. Watching them was more than a trip down memory lane. It was like visiting an old friend. It was a happy thought and a good memory that brought a broad smile to my lips. It all the more convinced me to pursue what I really want. As soon as my eldest soon graduates from college, I can earnestly pursue these dreams of mine.