Monday, December 1, 2008

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Birthday - The Bird and the Bee



Hold on hold on
Keep holding on to me
I will love you from the bottom
No one holds you better than me
Hold on hold on
Doing the best we can
I will love you on your birthday
I will love you better than them

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Are you in a good year?

I often recall which years were good ones for me, or at least which were particularly memorable based on what happened in the year, or what my predominant emotion was at the time; to the best of my memory, was I happy, or frustrated, or tired most of the year? Based on my perception, I make the determination as to whether the year was 'good', 'bad', or 'uneventful'.

It's also possible for a year to appear to be bad during the time I was experiencing it, but in hindsight, turned out to be a good year after seeing the eventual results. I take this into account also. In fact, some of the worst years actually turn out to be good years in hindsight.

I found that the common theme occurring among the favorable years were that these were the ones where I felt the most alive, carefree, and passionate. They were also years where I achieved some profound insight, or had some experience that had a big effect that stayed with me up to the present. Here's a list of my 'good' years starting from 1985 up to the present. The years in bold text were ones that were particularly memorable.

1986
1989
1991
1993
1994
1996
1998
1999
2001
2004
2006


Are you in a good year?

Monday, May 12, 2008

ADX Basketball Game Highlights

Highlights from the 3-game series organized by ADX at Ayala Heights Court. ADX won the final game in OT 35-32.

Monday, April 28, 2008

We don't live here anymore

Lately, I've been obsessed with history. Not the type of history you read in books, but rather 90's history. Or more specifically, 90's mall history.

You may not have known that back in the day, I was a world class walker. I once walked three hours straight all around the city, passing through busy smoke-filled streets, and going through various outdoor and indoor malls along the way. Exploring the ins and outs of various marketplaces was a passion of mine.

When I was in college, my favorite places to explore were the old Greenbelt shopping center, and Virra Mall in Greenhills, Ortigas. The great thing about these places was that they were relatively safe to hang out in, and they had a lot of hidden areas you could discover. Greenbelt and Virra Mall were also very disorganized and decentralized, which added to its appeal. You would have to make an effort to go from one cool spot to another, sometimes needing to cross a street or walking several blocks to another structure to get to the next place.

It remained this way up to the late 90's, until the Ayala and Ortigas developers decided to 'modernize' these places. This led to a lot of changes causing these places to be barely recognizable today from what it once was. The Virra Mall building was demolished to make room for a brand new structure which was well-lighted, had modern air conditioning, and floor tiles. While on the surface, this seemed to be an improvement over the old mall, I felt that something was lacking. The old magic was gone. It had turned into a much nicer, yet overcommercialized and dull place.

Greenbelt, as you might remember from the 90's was composed of a bunch of disjointed shopping areas such as Plaza Fair, Makati Supermarket, Greenbelt Cinema (which had only two choices of movies), Coronado Lanes bowling center, and a sprinkling of eateries such as Mushroomburger, Ulam ni San Pedro, and Tokyo Tokyo. I loved walking outside in the sun, going from Greenbelt Cinema to Plaza Fair, to Mushroomburger. If you had more energy, you would explore the streets where the multinational corporations had their offices - particularly Legaspi, Salcedo, and Paseo de Roxas. 'Jolly Jeeps' lined up the streets, these were passenger jeepneys that sold food in plastic bags to office workers.

Today, Greenbelt is barely recognizable. All the old structures are gone. They were systematically demolished and replaced piece by piece by more upper class establishments catering to yuppies and high society people. What you have in place of Greenbelt Park, Mushroomburger, and Ulam ni San Pedro is now Greenbelt 3 - ground zero for the yuppie crowd. You no longer have to cross the street to get from place to place, instead you have to pass a narrow passageway with a security guard who inspects your belongings before you can go through.

There is also this new multi-story class 'A' mall called Greenbelt 5, where all the fancy restaurants are stationed. My friend and I were even turned away one late Friday night by the guard, as he told us it was 'closed', although from a distance, we could see that he was still letting through attractive well-dressed couples in the building. He probably thought that we didn't look like we can afford any of the pricey restaurants inside.

Similarly, the bowling alley, Coronado Lanes, is gone, replaced by more yuppie restaurants and a hotel extension. The small department store, Plaza Fair, is now a pile of rubble, and I see more construction going on in the spot where it once was. I'm not sure what they are constructing in its place, perhaps more yuppie spots.

The streets of Greenbelt are not as fun to walk around as before. Instead of the free-flowing stroll around the various streets with the sunshine and fresh air, what we have now are covered pathways converging into small bottleneck checkpoints that are covered by security guards, making sure the area is safe and secure for the yuppies. I am forced to find alternate walking paths, usually small back alley streets where the air conditioning exhaust vents lie.

Which brings me back to my obsession for history, namely mall history. As I walk around these old areas, I close my eyes and try to remember what it once was. I look through old pictures, and old maps showing what these places looked like before they were 'modernized'. I try to identify where the old Mushroomburger, the old Plaza Fair, the old Coronado Lanes, and the old shops of Virra Mall once existed. When I am able to successfully recall these and get back the old feeling, I make a note of it for future reference.

In essence, I am like a ghost, wandering around the old hangout places, trying to remember the way things used to be. These places used to be home. Today, they are just malls.

Monday, April 21, 2008

ADX Basketball at Ayala Heights

Basketball Addicts invitational game at Ayala Heights.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Independence Day


For the past nine months, I've been eagerly anticipating the day I return back home to the Philippines. And that day finally came last Wednesday. And let me tell you, the past few days have been some of the happiest days in my life. It was such a great feeling to see my parents again, healthier and happier than they were last year. I have experienced a reawakening - a rebirth of the old 'rob'. I feel much more healthier, happier, stronger, and more inspired than I've ever felt the past five years since I left my home country.

I've been analyzing what it is exactly about the Philippines that makes everything so much better. What is the secret sauce in it that enhances the flavor of almost everything in daily life? I still haven't figured it out. It could be the warm, sunny weather where you can go out in shorts and sando on the street, and feel right at home. Maybe it's the genuineness and friendliness of the people where I can be myself. In the US, everywhere you go, people have their defenses up - they don't reveal too much of themselves out of fear and privacy. I have found this environment both very strange and uncomfortable. In the Philippines, people have their defenses down and are mostly free to talk about anything without fear of malice or offense. Here, I can be as silly or act as dumb as I want, and we all have a good laugh about it - trivial matters are not taken seriously. There is also a very relaxed attitude on time ('Filipino Time' as it is popularly known). I would talk to my parents and friends without needing to rush to the next appointment or meeting. This results in a healthier outlook on life, and a state of mindfulness where we are all living in the moment. There may not be a single secret sauce, but rather a whole smorgasborg of spices in Philippine life that makes everything taste better.

In the west, people have a tendency to equate material possessions, career achievements, and 'busyness' with happiness. The one with the most toys, most prestigious title, and the one who is preoccupied the most is judged the winner. In the Philippines, these are all side quests in life - distractions to the most important goal of joy and happiness. We take our time to appreciate the finer things of living: Family, Friends, Food, Relationships, Health.

Having lived in the US the past five years, and just returning home, makes me appreciate so much more the country I came from and my true identity. Filipinos already live in a paradise - most just don't know it yet. But let's keep this a secret between the two of us, ok?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Monday, January 7, 2008