Thursday, January 28, 2010

Writing Bilingual

A few years ago I would never have thought I'd be writing in Tagalog or Bisaya. That's starting to change now, as I turn out translations for stories and poems. I owe this shift in perspective to the influence of the veteran members of the Davao Writers Guild.

Why write the same piece in two or more languages? Because it's a challenge. Because there are some things you can express better in one language than the other. Because in that space between languages, there's a thought waiting to come out. I think these are the main reasons.

Oh, sure, there's the matter of audience and heritage, as well, and these are important, too. But compared with the challenge of expressing the inexpressible, they're secondary.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Ako, usa ka bala.
Gamay. Wa'y hinungdan.
Usa ka buling sa hangin:
nikaging nga muta
luha gikan sa bato
gitunaw sa kalayo
ug gilumos sa tubig.

Ako, usa ka bala.
Gamay. Wa'y hinungdan.
murag ang kalibutan
nga asa ko gikan
gi-bitik sa kuko
nga naporma sa imong kumagko ug
imong panudlo.


I am a bullet.
Small. Insignificant.
A speck in the air:
hardened mote of
tears from the rock,
molten from fire,
and drowned in water.

I am a bullet.
Small. Insignificant.
like the earth
from which I came
encircled in the claw
made by your thumb and
your pointing finger.

In the labs

Plenty of things went wrong in lab class today, most of it probably my fault. You see, I have 29 students in Operating Systems, and last week, I introduced them to the Linux kernel. If you've ever had to configure and build a kernel, you can probably tell what kind of mess I was headed in: hundreds of complicated options, long compilation times, and the high probability that your operating system won't boot.

As we say: nosebleed time.

In hindsight, things could have gone better if I had written the lab manual more carefully and tested each and every step. But I felt like going cowboy with this one.

On the other hand, I'm of the firm opinion that you learn more when things go wrong than when they go right. Next time, you know what NOT to do, and that's important, too. No better place to go wrong than in the lab, where nothing will explode, no accounts receivables systems will go down, and no one will get seriously injured. Or so we hope.

I think in the long run students will respect a teacher more if they can enter a less-than-ideal situation, admit the boo-boos, and figure a way out of that logically. That's what I'm hoping, anyhow.

And yes, I will fix up that danged kernel configuration lab manual.

Teacher evaluation

Presenting the evaluation from my students last semester. I don't know if I'm Stanford- or Harvard-level yet (probably not), but the comments are certainly, well, nakakataba ng puso, as we say in Filipino.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Stash Chai Tea

Patrice Riemens reintroduced me to the pleasures of tea at AsiaSource3 last November; I've been drinking tea regularly since. I've also ventured beyond the usual Lipton bags. Quite surprising how many kinds of tea you'll run across in the supermarket, if only you look.

For example, I bought a Stash sampler box a few weeks ago. Today I tried the Holiday Chai and Spice Chai. Verdict: undoubtedly the most fragrant chamomille teas I've ever whiffed, though a little bland on the taste.

More on this front in future posts.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sikat, a solar-powered vehicle

Sikat, DLSU's second solar-powered vehicle, stopped by Ateneo as part of its nationwide tour. It certainly looked sleek and impressive. Unfortunately, I never got to see it during its rounds of the campus. Or drive it, for that matter (then again, I might not have fit).

Running on batteries, the car is be able to hit a speed of 80kph over a distance of 450km. Under certain conditions, it can even hit 110kph. Counting daylight travel, it can go for as far as 900km per day.

I didn't write down the other specs for the vehicle, but you can view the details of SINAG, DLSU's other solar-powered car, at its own web site.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Rainy Days

Gray skies and rain over the past few days, making for uncharacteristically wet mornings over Davao. Not that I'm complaining much: perfect bed weather for bundling up in blankets and breaking the alarm clock.

I've been sick, too; but we can blame a virus for that.


I received these images via email some time ago. They depict Avenida in Manila as it was during the 1950's. I suppose the original poster wanted to drive home the point that Manila back then looked so neat, pristine, and cosmopolitan -- in comparison to the mess that it is today.

Personally, I don't see the benefit in any large degree of self-recrimination. If anything, it just points how poorly the growth has been managed; but I don't think we should bewail the fact that we grew at all.

So instead, let's hold what's good in these relics from the past as possible templates for the future. If this is the city that you want Manila to be, or the country that you want the Philippines to be, what will you do to make it a reality?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

New domain, new 'do

Celebrating my new domain name with a new haircut. Nah, they just coincided.

Man, I'm fat.

Up vs Avatar

'Avatar' won Best Picture in the Golden Globes? Seriously? Seriously?

If any movie should have won Best Picture, it should have been 'Up.' 'Avatar' should have won Best Animated Film. They got it the other way around.

Did anyone cry in 'Avatar'? I don't think so. But I'll bet plenty cried within the first ten minutes of 'Up.'

Sure, 'Avatar' made more money, but 'Up' had emotional resonance.

Welcome to!

You really didn't think I was going away, did you? is now

Step right in! I promise it'll be like I never really left.

Goodbye to

For the better part of five years, has been my main URL. In a few hours, I'm going to say goodbye to it. Yep, that's right; I'm moving. Thanks for being along for the ride....

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Dana, our pomeranian, now running 12 (or is that 13? or 14?) years old.


This happened over a week ago, in the first week of classes. I was walking down the circular stairs of Ateneo when I saw policemen facing off against protesters in front of Marco Polo. I don't know what the snafu was about. Pretty lame as far as protests go, which is probably a good thing.

Fondant puppy

My girlfriend makes fondant cakes.

Can you guess the password?

Found at a local car dealership. Even more surprising to me is the fact that they still run Windows NT 3.51.

Ladies and Boys

I don't know why, but something strikes me as odd about this sign. This hangs, incongruously enough, along the auto parts row of Magsaysay Street.

(I can only guess what sort of ads the AdSense robot will display based on the title of this post.)

Sick days

It started as a slight itchiness in the the sinus and a constriction down the throat last Wednesday. Then and there I knew what was coming. But like always, I hoped bodily resistance would come into play and head it off. Heh. Wishful thinking.

I still managed to soldier on through early Thursday afternoon. But later in the day, there could be no denying. I was sick, sick, sick. It hardly helped that I had to stay out late owing to filial obligations.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010



Thanks to t.y.p.o.r.g.a.n.i.s.m.

Love those D'oh Moments

Teaching may not pay as well as industry jobs, but nothing beats this profession for the mirth and merriment. Just make sure you know how to enjoy it.

Case in point: in our operating systems laboratory class this morning, a student asked me for help concerning a point that confused him. Conversation follows.

"Sir, is there also an index.php file inside the wordpress directory?"

"Well, gee, what do you think?"

"Uh...I think there is?"

"Are you sure? Why don't you tell me."

" there isn't?"

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Captain of the Enteprise

The fact is all of those years in Royal Shakespeare Company -- playing all those kings, emperors, princes and tragic heroes -- were nothing but preparation for sitting in the captain's chair of the Enterprise.

--Sir Patrick Stewart

Palindromic Date

Today is:

01 02 2010

My Mom uses Ubuntu

I don't quite know how it happened, but my parents finally got the Internet / computing bug. Last year, my Dad bought a Dell Studio and my Mom bought an HP Mini. For the longest time, they went largely underused -- my Dad used his to play pinball, and my Mom, well, she hasn't been using hers at all. For the most part, the HP Mini fell into my hands.

But not anymore. Slowly, my two senior citizens have been getting the hang of things. My Dad has moved up to web browsing and photo management, and he's added Chromium BSU to his game repertoire. He's using Windows Vista, though, so his story isn't of much interest here (the Dell Studio came with the operating system, so it felt like a waste to wipe it out.)

My Mom, on the other hand....

Read more on Ubuntu Living...

Friday, January 01, 2010

Looking forward

Instead of resolutions, I'm setting goals for the year.

Resolutions are far too nebulous and general; hence they're easily broken or forgotten. Goals, on the other hand, are more concrete and specific.

For a goal to be concrete, you should be able to (1) set actions to reach the goal; and (2) identify deadlines for the actions. Admittedly harder to do because, well, there's no escaping: if you slip, you slip. But then again, no better way to effect real changes in your life.