Thursday, April 30, 2009

Elevated laptop for better ergonomics

A simple solution that works well for me.

Transport Strike in Davao

I honestly believe that the days of transport strikes that cripple the city are long past. Somehow our leftist groups still persist with this idea of mass action. And though there were noticeably fewer jeepneys plying their routes yesterday, and though classes were cancelled, life went pretty much the way it does.

The Keymaker

I know because I *must* know. It is my purpose. It is the reason I am here. The same reason we are *all* here.

The Text Generation

In all likelihood, my nephew will never have known a time without cellphones. Or computers. Or the Internet.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Not the Real Deal

Saved here for posterity: the Philippine Airlines notice of capitulation. Back story: last week, PAL advertised a promo for very cheap rates. Flights to the US were as low as $400, when the usual rates are $800 or more. The catch, of course, is that you have to book through their web site.

I tried to connect yesterday and early this morning but received long delays and persistent errors. Early this morning, too, I received a call from a friend of a friend, asking for help with some "Generic Error" the web site was throwing. Then on Facebook, another friend complained of wrestling with the web site for three hours, then having to wait for confirmation.

In other words: EPIC FAIL.

I would think that this is what they have web server stress testing tools for. Apparently, PAL's IT didn't make the most of this before they launched. Result: PR nightmare.

Somehow, I'm glad I didn't get a ticket. The first time I tried PAL's Internet booking service, I managed the reservations alright. Then they took my money. Then a couple of weeks before the flight, they told us that the flight was no longer available, and could we move to another flight. As we were hoping to connect to an outgoing international flight, we declined and asked for a refund. Which they gave to us six months later.

Winner, man.

Update: On Mother's insistence, I tried again. Surprisingly, I got through! And the response was much smoother. Except, I eventually hit another wall: the same error my friend had this morning.

Epic Fail.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

(Mountain) Biker Gang

Pics of the gang I rode with today.

Biking to Cabantian

It turns out that my sister's friend Hans has a biking group that meets regularly. I got an invite yesterday. Did I want to go biking with them? Absolutely!

Our route took us through Bajada and onwards to Cabantian. T'was a pleasant uphill climb through the highway with lots of greenery on both sides of the road. Eventually, we went offroad and took a scenic hillside trail before heading back.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Davao Writers Workshop Update

Some announcements about the Davao Writers Workshop:

First of all, we're moving the venue from La Storta in Shrine Hills to Ponce Suites in Bajada. This should be a welcome development as Ponce Suites is more accessible (Shrine Hills residents excepted).

Workshop will proceed as scheduled, from May 4 to May 8. We want to invite observers to expand the workshop experience to more people. Panelists may ask observers for comments after the fellows have had their turn, but otherwise, the status is just that. Regardless, workshop virgins will find even observer status helpful and can highlight this in their future workshop applications. If you are interested to become an observer, please reply to this blog post as slots are limited.

We have opening ceremonies on May 4, 8:30am at Ateneo de Davao University AVR. Our guest panelist, Marjorie Evasco, will be giving a craft lecture entitled "Obligations of a Writer." This event is open to the public.

Finally, we have a culminating Poetry Reading/Performance on May 8, 2009 at Kublai Bar in Ponce Suites, 8 pm.

Please remember the dates, and do attend if you can.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Keeping me busy in my spare time these days is the Davao Writers Workshop. Believe it or not, I am the Deputy Workshop Director, a position I achieved (or was volunteered for, depending on your perspective) on account of my technical expertise and willingness to sully my hands. Tiring? Yes. Madcap? Absolutely! But fun and fulfilling as well.

The Davao Writers Workshop doesn't quite have the same prestige as, oh, let's say the Dumaguete National Writers Workshop. It's a much smaller undertaking, only a week long, limited to Mindanao residents, and geared towards workshop virgins. Nevertheless, I was pretty happy with the turnout. All in all, we received 51 submissions. After that came the arduous deliberations that whittled it down to 15 fellows.

More fun ensues: budget allocations, printing the manuscripts, preparing the certificates...and to think that the workshop proper isn't actually until May 4.

If you had asked me some three years ago if I would ever get involved in an undertaking like this, I would have said no. That, for a variety of reasons: I didn't have the experience, I didn't know the people, I didn't move in the circles. Pray tell, just what do you do in a workshop again? And yet, here I am.

If I'm throwing myself into this project, I can trace my motivations to my own experience with the 45th Dumaguete National Writers Workshop way back in 2006. I didn't know it then, but it was a course-changing event. Sure, I was already writing for the Metro Post (another venue and opportunity I am very thankful for), but without the Workshop, life would have gone pretty much the way it did.

Attending the Workshop is probably a semester's worth of an MFA in Literature. Nowhere else in the country would you get three weeks' worth of intensive tutelage and criticism from some very fine writers. More than that, it's also an inside track into the society of local literature, a circle that feels aloof and exclusive from the outside. Probably because it is.

Now, I'd like to say that it's warm and friendly on the inside, but that wouldn't be entirely truthful. As I've come to learn, it can be petty and pedantic and catty and strange. At the same time, there's no denying that there are also brights spots of warmth and friendship.

Looking back, I'm very fortunate to have done the Workshop at the time that I did. It was the perhaps last time that Dr. Edith Tiempo would chair the panel for the entire three weeks of the Workshop's run. I sat in the workshop of the subsequent year and, without meaning to denigrate the dedication, skill, or caring of the panelists then, it just didn't feel the same.

When I first met Dr. Tiempo, I felt overawed. After all, I had never met a National Artist before. A few days into the Workshop, awe gave way first to admiration because her mind was keen and her explanations lucid, and then with affection because she always spoke with kindness and encouragement -- she could point out where your work was weak and still make you feel like you were the smartest person. Towards the end of the Workshop, well, I couldn't hold out any longer: she would be Mom Edith to me forever.

Which leads me back to where I am and what I'm doing now. In a way, I feel like I'm the son born out of time, as-yet-unaccomplished and just beginning to make his way. Despite my inexperience, I consider it an honor and a responsibility to be able to continue, in my own fashion, Mom Edith's legacy. Out there, there are young writers who are still struggling with acceptance and direction. As the Mom Edith gave me opportunities, I hope I can pass along those same opportunities to them. And I hope that, in time, I will also reflect Mom Edith's keenness, lucidity, kindness, and nurturing spirit.

Thanks, Mom Edith, and a very happy 90th birthday.

Ubuntu 9.04, Jaunty Jackalope

Ubuntu 9.04, a.k.a., Jaunty Jackalope, has been released. Here's a screenshot of it running as a VirtualBox guest. As per my quick review, nothing earthshaking, but it's good to see the Ubuntu team stick to their schedule nonetheless.

Anyone want a CD, let me know. Will have Kubuntu available, too.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Bali-Bali, Samal

Ateneo de Davao's Computer Studies Division had an outing yesterday. As part-time faculty, I was invited to attend. I'm normally too shy for group activities, but since it was in Samal, I readily said yes.

As I did last Black Saturday, I took the ferry to Babak and biked the rest of the way to Bali-Bali resort. It was a much shorter distance than last week's trip, though. And I actually beat the group to the resort by five minutes! I am so buff.

Since there was a lot of down time, I biked a bit further to PeƱaplata, and was sorely tempted to proceed to the eastern coast of Samal. However, it was too late in the morning, and I didn't want to be missed, so I turned back.

Pretty pictures aside, we were not too happy with the treatment from Bali-Bali. When some in our group wanted to use their infinity pool, the staff told them off. I can understand that they didn't want us crowding the facilities, but perhaps they could have said it better.

Which leads us to

Question: "In Bali-Bali, what does infinity equal to?"

Answer: "Ten."


I rarely notice clouds these days, what with the city horizon littered with so much junk. So wonderful to be able to see cloud formations in their unimpeded glory! I took these pics in yesterday's CS Division outing in Samal.

Robinson's Cybergate Davao

Only while biking back from the Samal outing yesterday did I notice that Robinson's Cybergate in Davao was ready for opening, The Robinson's facility itself won't inaugurate till this weekend, but Rai Rai Ken and Mang Inasal are already serving customers.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Driver's Rally

Just trying out the Blogger posting capabilities of my Nokia N79. Looks like Shozu does the trick!

Workbooks for Davao Writers Workshop 2009

Product of my labors over the past week -- the workbooks for the Davao Writers Workshop 2009.

Monday, April 13, 2009

"GMA in Dubai job hunt"

Ano na ba naman ito? Hindi na ba sapat ang sahod (at kurakot, sabihin na lang natin) ng presidente at magbabagong bayani na rin si GMA sa Dubai? Nakapag-training na kaya siya bilang "supermaid"?

O, mga kababayan natin sa Middle East: mag-iingat kayo! Makakasama na ninyo si Madame President! Aagawan kayo ng trabaho!

Sunday Inquirer Feature: "A Time for Dragons"

Apparently a feature on "A Time for Dragons" came out in yesterday's Sunday Inquirer. I'm surprised why none of my usual sources has highlighted this yet (or I just missed reading it). So anyway, here it is:

With their outstretched wings scarring the fictional sky and their scales mimicking shades of blood and ice among other elements, dragons are an integral part of western folklore. But what do dragons have to do with Filipinos, a people of the east and endless shores?

Plenty, according to Vincent Michael Simbulan. “We are exposed to the concept of dragons through almost all forms of media—from television and movies to books and video games,” he explains. “Even the Chinese zodiac, which is popular thanks to the local Chinese community, has the dragon as the only mythical creature in the roster of animals.”
That explains why the 37-year-old Simbulan is the editor of “A Time for Dragons: An Anthology of Philippine Draconic Fiction” from Anvil Publishing, a book that gathers stories about dragons from Filipino authors. “The anthology is Filipino because the stories are written exclusively by Filipinos. Many of the stories are filled with references that are Filipino and I would argue that the sensibilities of the authors inevitably mark their stories as Filipino.”

In case you're wondering, I have some vested interest in the book: my story is in it.

Read the rest of the story at And check out Vin's blog, too.

Also, a feature on Elbert Or.

Samal as seen from GPS

At various stops during my biking trip to Samal, I would take a GPS reading using my Nokia N79 to track my progress. Here's a short clip of my progress, animated using GIMP. Not to the proper timescale, of course.

Easter Mass

After all the activities during the Easter Triduum, my Easter Sunday felt quite anticlimactic. I didn't make it to the vigil mass because I arrived home late. For some reason, Sacred Heart Parish had their vigil mass at 5:30PM of Black Saturday. I didn't wake up early enough for the Pasugat, either. But for completeness' sake, here's a picture of my Easter Mass at Sta. Ana Parish.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Kaputian Ferry

This is the port for the ferry services between Kaputian and Sta. Ana Wharf. Took these pictures on the request of Jenny.

There are four ferries plying the route: the Palbros, the Palbros 2, the Grace, and the Shirley. (Don't look at me, I'm just reporting.) Passengers are holiday-makers enjoying the beaches of Kaputian, and Kaputian businessmen purchasing stocks in Davao City. Cargo consists of various foodstuffs and supplies sold at the local sari-sari stores.

The port is really very basic: just a cement dock jutting out over the beach, probably measured out to match the high-tide height. Facilities? Less than basic. It has the dirtiest non-functioning toilet I have seen anywhere. Such a shame!

The ferry trips are far between. There's a 7:00am trip to Sta. Ana, followed by another one at 8:00am. The next one isn't until 4:00pm. The trips can also be irregular. Yesterday, because we had filled the boat up early, we left at 3:00pm (not that I'm complaining.) I do believe they had another trip ready, though, to make up for the additional traffic.

All the lifting is done via stevedores. People take away the cargo on carts, motorcycles, tricycles, and trisikad.

I made the acquaintance of this family while waiting for the boat. They were waiting for their cargo from the ferry. I do believe they run a small sari-sari store inland.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Black Saturday Romp: Samal

After a long hiatus, I got back on the saddle today and biked Samal. My trip took me from Babak to Penaplata to Kaputian. It's a trip I've been wanting to do since my biking trip in Christmas 2007. All in all, it was a trip of over 30km, with a lot of uphill sections.

This is the best photo of the trip, taken at Penaplata.

To get to Samal, I had to take this rickety ferry from Sasa launch terminal. The terminal is in a public market found at Km. 11, locally called "onse." There were several other bikers on the trip, though I found out later they were travelling north.

I really wasn't up to the uphill climb. It's been a while since I've been on a bike. And talking about uphill, there were plenty of long uphill sections. I had to take plenty of breaks in between.

I enjoy meeting barrio folk on these biking trips. This roadside barber was right beside a sari-sari store where I stopped for drinks.

This old fellow sells gasoline in softdrink bottles to passing motorcycles. Roadside gasoline stalls are quite common in rural areas.

Kaputian! It was a long trip getting here, but the roadside scenery was quite monotonous. Hence, the fast-forward.

At the beach.

And finally, my souvenir from this trip. I took a hard tumble on a steep rocky road from Anonang to Kaputian. Thankfully, no broken bones, just scratches on my knee and my hands.