Thursday, December 27, 2007

Finally done ... the Christmas Blog

It took a lot of arm-twisting, bribes and cajoling but finally I finished our Christmas blog, which can be found here.

Oddly enough the younger kids were quite enthusiastic about the project, as soon as they had been bribed with enough rewards for sitting down in front of their computers and typing out something.

T and B came in last, pushing their submission deadlines. B wrote a beauty though - it's so rewarding for a parent to read good stuff that a child has to say.

It's amazing that we've got our Christmas letters on the site dating back from 1994. Reading through it all is getting to be an exercise in archeology!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Dancing on Christmas Eve

Athena decided to dance all night long on Christmas Eve:

Monday, December 17, 2007

Child Labor

Here's our latest addition to the workforce ... Athena!

It's amazing that DOLE actually has pretty strict procedures on child labor. This permit is only good for two weeks and only for her Nivea "spokesbaby" appearance with T on GMA. That appearance was supposed to happen two weeks ago but the organizers forgot to get this permit.

Now that we have this, can we get celebrity manager Joji Dingcong to handle Athena too?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Size DOES Matter

I just saw the Palau pictures of CH on her Multiply blog and I suddenly feel inadequate.

Here are two pictures of the same Napoleon wrasse:

All the pictures on the left were taken by CH using a Canon 300D with a beautiful, domed u/w housing and two strobes.

The pictures on the right were taken using my little Sony.

Spot the changes eh? The amazing thing is that I actually felt good about my pictures when I first saw them. At least until I saw CH's output!

CH's blog address is and it is worth a visit to see all of her great photos.

Here's another example of what strobe lights do to improve color underwater:

This black manta was really amazing. He (or is it a she?) stayed with us for about 40 minutes, all the while doing loop-the-loop turns as he fed on plankton. I've got some pretty good videos of this feeding behavior on my YouTube site.

The black manta is also very identifiable because a piece of his left wing tip has been bitten off. Perhaps he was attacked by a shark when he was younger, as the crescent-shaped bite looks about the size of a shark's mouth. Luckily he survived to regale us with his u/w antics at German Channel.

I'll end the post with a couple more comparison shots. The first set are of grey reef sharks at Blue Corner.

Here we can see the greater color variation in the Canon, as the silhouettes of the sharks are more pronounced against the lighter surface. The Sony produced a more monochromatic image.

The last set are of the spinner dolphins that visited us twice. The first shot was taken by CH during the dolphins' sunset visit.

T took this second image, the shot of CH and her husband R with the dolphin - a perfectly timed shot! This one was taken during the dolphins' day visit though, which is why the sunset has disappeared.

My complete pictures, together with T's, can be found on my Kodak Gallery site.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Pilgrimage to Palau

Palau is first and foremost about sharks. Sharks in Blue Corner, sharks in Ulong Channel, sharks in Siaes Corner, sharks everywhere.

But this year, it was so much more.

This year, the mantas put on the show to end all shows:

(More manta videos are here and here. And here is a great shark video from Blue Corner.)

But the best part of Palau this year was just the people we were with - as usual, Tita Mary, but now also Tita Jojo Castro and her niece, Kimie, Rommel and Cris Hinlo, Gigi Santos, and Tessa and Annika. As usual, the crew of Capt. Ken was fantastic, Sixsei, Eddie, Richard and Chetra the chef.

In a day or so, I'll find the time to load up all the pictures to Kodak Gallery.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Yvette Lee's Pictures from the Dona Marilyn Wreck

Yvette just e-mailed a link to her Multiply site, which has photos from our recent trip to Malapasqua. I "borrowed" these two from her album, as I don't think I have any photos of Tyrone and I underwater. (Thanks Yvette!)

These photos were both taken at the wreck of the Dona Marilyn, one of numerous inter-island vessels that have sunken off Philippine waters over the centuries. Although the shipwreck is only about a decade old, it is already well covered with soft corals.

Yvette gave us some pointers on how to be an underwater model. The obvious one is to avoid exhaling during the shot, so that no bubbles are there to distract the viewer. We also practiced looking off to the right of the photographer, as if we're seeing some huge whale shark or something.

Tyrone's diving has really progressed. He's grown since our previous dives in Dumaguete earlier this year, so he had to wear Tessa's Mares suit. With our matching gloves and computers, we look like a pretty good team!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


My wife truly leads an enchanted life. Tuesday, she jetted off to Hollywood to watch the premiere of Disney's "Enchanted" on November 21, on an all-expenses-paid invite from The Little Gym.

If that seems like a lot of flight time for a two-hour movie, let's not forget that Hollywood premieres usually have a bit of red carpet magic woven into the event. So, I am anxiously awaiting pictures of T in whatever Seaprincess costume she turns up in on the big night.

The trip was also a good chance for her to swing by SFO and spend some time with B, who is now happily ensconced in some internet company's cube farm, working at his first job. B will fly down to LA with T for the weekend, the better for the two to extend their bonding time.

Meanwhile, back here at home, I am already wondering how to spend the weekend with the three other kids...

Inquirer columnist Ruben Napales just wrote about T's trip to Hollywood:

"LOS ANGELES―Tessa Prieto-Valdes stopped traffic, literally and figuratively, on her way to and from the world premiere of Disney’s “Enchanted” at the El Capitan Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard..."

The photo caption says, "DUETS” champ Tessa Prieto-Valdes with Masi Oka of “Heroes.”

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Yes, It's That Time of the Year Already

There've been Christmas songs on the radio since September, so it's no surprise that Christmas wreaths and trees are now making their appearances.

For us, it's gonna be a bit of a longer transition from Halloween witches to Christmas trees this year. For one, T is leaving for SFO to visit B next week, and I'm not really into decor.

For the moment, the extent of my Christmas preparation has been limited to updating our Christmas list and installing this classic ringtone on my phone:

Also, I'm beginning the update of our Christmas blog. The old version is still up, but new posts have to be added. It'll be fun working on those with the kids again.

Meanwhile, in our office building, one sure sign of the season is that so many of us office drones are lining up to collect Starbucks stickers again. It must be a coffee high to get the 24 stickers needed for a 2008 planner that you won't use cuz you've already got a Treo.

Last year I was so bummed when I got to about 20 stickers and then lost the card! Oddly enough, if I had just re-started I'm pretty sure I could still have finished the 24!

I must be a glutton for punishment - this year, I not only have the Starbucks card but I've also started collecting the Seattle's Best stamps!

The reality is, though, buying a coffee from either store hardly makes any difference. Starbucks acquired Seattle's Best in 2003!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Seniors Save More at Save More

Before I leave Cebu, it's worthwhile to revisit a conversation I had with a supermarket cashier when we arrived there last week. A bunch of us dropped by the local Save More to buy batteries and chicheria for the trip.

When I got to the cashier, we had this interaction:

C: Ma'am/Sir, do you have your SM Advantage card?

Me: No.

C: Do you have your Senior Citizen card?

Me: [pause] Is it part of your routine to insult your customers at Save More?

The Elusive Thresher Sharks of Malapasqua

Tyrone and I spent the November 1-4 long weekend in search of thresher sharks. We were aboard the M/V Borneo Explorer, part of the Scuba World fleet, together with his scuba instructor, GS, and other hardcore divers.

The thresher is a notoriously shy animal. The best way to see it is to head to Malapasqua Island, on the northern tip of Cebu. The Monad Shoal, off the south end, has several fish cleaning stations, literally submerged beauty parlors for the sharks to get spruced up. At 5 A.M., just as dawn is breaking, the sharks come out of the deep and hang around the cleaning stations for several minutes.

Trouble is, we arrived at Monad just after the full moon and together with a wave of Korean divers. Not only is there too much light but there are too many unusually colored fins and other dive gear around. Over the five dives we did at Monad, only three divers got a fleeting glimpse of the thresher. The rest of us had to be satisfied with octopus, squid, tiny pipefish and other non-pelagic denizens.

Nevertheless we had a great dive adventure. Tyrone did all five dives on the first day at Malapasqua, a record for him, and completed a total of 11 over the three-day cruise.

We also did two night dives, during which he was completely comfortable - even during the first one when his flashlight bulb died. The night dives were, in fact, the saving grace of the trip.

On the west side of Malapasqua, just off the lighthouse shore, are corals that are home to the elusive mandarinfish. When Ty and I dove of Dumaguete earlier this year, all we got was a photo of the tail of this colorful fish. At the lighthouse reef, the mandarinfish were in full display. They come out at sunset every day in order to mate!

Ty and I took a lot of pictures of the fish darting around the corals, but we left the R-rated photography to GS and DC, one of the best Philippine underwater photographers. We took over a hundred photos, the best of which are on Kodak Gallery. Sea horses, crocodilefish, frogfish, etc., etc. - Malapasqua has a lot of things to offer ... just not the thresher shark!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

This might be the quickest million that T has ever spent! :-)

Actually from the very start of Celebrity Duets, she had pledged the entire prize money, if she won, to charity. So it's nice to know that there will be ten charities getting some additional funding soon.

When the studio gives her the money, T and I agreed to have a small event where we can gather all the recipients and have them properly receive the money, and maybe even have a group photo. That will be a nice memento of the contest.

I got the above video thanks to a text tip from EB, a former colleague at the ill-fated who now works with GMA New Media. It's great to see that their Philippine Entertainment Portal website loads up all these quick little video bites. This where there are more PEP videos.

Meanwhile, here's a funny photo from one of the last few Saturday tapings at GMA, with Athena's hair seemingly electrically charged, but probably only unkempt from her removing her clips after an extra-long taping afternoon.

This coming weekend will be our first TV-free weekend. It's been months since we've been able to spend a quiet weekend in Tagaytay, so we're all eager to do just that.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

T wins!

Whodathunkit? From perennial "bottom two" to the Celebrity Duets champion?!?!? T and I are still in shock from last night.

Thanks again to nonshowbiz for loading these up so fast:

Before the winners were announced towards the end of the taping, a couple of production crew guys came over to Jessica's husband, Dave Bunevacz. We were actually seated near each other, so I could see that they were putting a lapel mike on him.

I thought, "Well I guess they want to get all three spouses' reactions." But after Dave was wired up, the crew left and didn't come over. I glanced at Vicky Belo, and she hadn't been wired either.

So I leaned over to Dave and said, "Hey Dave, that's a great sign, that they're wiring you up and not me." He replied, "No, no, this is for something else, an anniversary thing I'm doing for Jess. It's a surprise so I really can't explain."

"Really?" I felt that maybe he was just trying to make me feel good. I mumbled something about congratulations if/when Jessica wins and tried to re-focus on the stage.

Behind me, Alex P had also noticed that Dave had been wired and not me. Later Popsy told me that he started crying because he thought that T had certainly lost as the wiring must certainly be to get the reaction of the winner's husband.

So when Ogie called out T's name, I was all the more in shock. I really thought Jessica had won it. I actually thought that maybe the crew made a mistake and thought Dave was me. (Yeah, right, me plus 8 inches and 30 kilos of muscle.)

After the cut, we were all still on stage and the tabloid reporters and GMA crew were asking me what my "surprise gift" to T would be. Aside from a kiss, I really couldn't think. I mean, she just won a million pesos for charity. What was I supposed to give her?!?

When we got outside the studio, the haze was lifted.

Dave had just presented Jessica with a brand new BMW X5, complete with a big red bow tie on the hood. Now that is a statement!

Wired for sound, he could now explain to the TV crew how he was rewarding his wife for all her hard work on Celebrity Duets over the past three months, plus his anniversary gift to her.

AZ, the BMW Account Executive, came over to say hi. (Hoping to sell another, I suppose.) I said, "Wow, that's 5.5, isn't it?"

"No sir," she cheerfully explained, "5.6 ho."


P.S. Some websites that carried the Celebrity Duets news:
It’s Tessa in ‘Celebrity Duets’
by Bayani San Diego Jr.
MANILA, Philippines -- Tessa Prieto-Valdes, Inquirer columnist, still thought of herself last night as the underdog, even after winning “Celebrity Duets,” a reality singing contest among celebrity non-singers on GMA 7...

Philippine Entertainment Portal
Tessa Prieto-Valdes beats Dr. Hayden Kho Jr. and Jessica Bunevacz in "Celebrity Duets"
by Jocelyn Dimaculangan
The Social Butterfly outperforms the Kilabot ng mga Kolehiyala and the Statuesque Beauty...
[The reader comments on this site are particularly insightful.]

Tessa Prieto-Valdez: Celebrity Duets champion
by Loretta G. Ramirez, iGMA
It was an afternoon like no other. All the finalists came in prepared to sing their last songs, but one star shone brighter than the rest...

PEP goes behind the scenes of Celebrity Duets
by Jocelyn Dimaculangan, PEP
The finals night of Celebrity Duets aired last Saturday, October 20, concluding the 11-week competition that was shown weekly on GMA. It premiered on the Kapuso Network last August 11, hosted by Regine Velasquez and Ogie Alcasid...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

This is it!

Win or lose, T is having a Thanksgiving Party after the Celebrity Duets finale today. The season has been 14 weeks long and tomorrow, we get our lives back!

Josh Groban

Here are some uplifting videos from Josh Groban's recent concert. Something to put us all into a positive mood...

10.19 = 09.11 ???

Do terrorists think about dates?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

On to the Finals!

There are days when just the YouTube videos of nonshowbiz tell the entire story. He has all the episodes on his YouTube site. Here are the ones that tell everything about the final elimination that got Tessa, Hayden and Jessica into the finals:

This is Tessa's performance with Michael V. I didn't load them here but a click-through to nonshowbiz will show you Hayden's and Jessica's, which are worth watching too.

This last clip is the cliffhanger ending, when Regine came down to choosing between Tessa and Doc Manny. Naturally the tears were flowing from the get-go.

An interesting aside is that Doc Manny's wife Pie has not been to the past few Saturday tapings (as can be seen above). The official line is that "someone has to do the operations," but the scuttlebutt is that she got pissed when, a few episodes ago, part of the post-performance routine was to get comments from the celebrities' supporters and direk called on Doc Manny's Mom instead of her. Rumor is that her complaints went all the way to FLG's wife. To the CEO's credit, nothing came of the alleged complaint.

Here's my own version of Tessa and Michael V., using my Nokia E90 video camera:

The best part of the taping day is watching Athena get more and more comfortable being around people. Here she gets up on stage and starts dancing! I guess she wants to be like Mommy!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Three Amigos

JB, AL and I have been friends since grade school. Even now, when our scheds permit, we find time to renew hostilities on the golf course.

Today was perfect. A sudden holiday announced - the start end of Ramadan - and we all quickly re-arranged weekend plans to give us time off at Summit Point - to see who would get the bragging rights for the weekend.

On Hole 15, a short par 4, all of us hit spectacular iron shots, ending up all over the flagstick, PGA-style. We thought this sort of unplanned, coincidental excellence deserved a picture.

Of course, the knowing golfer will quickly ask - how many birdies did the group get out of this? Well, sadly the answer is none. (We don't have enough golf time to keep our putting skills honed.)

For the record, JB walked off the course with both AL's and my money. His 90 beat us hands down. Total take after 18 holes: P70.00.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Four to Go...

What a sad day on Celebrity Duets, as Wyngard Tracy, arguably the best singer of the group, was eliminated. Just another sign that text rules our lives.

Here's the video of T with singer Aia, doing her hit song "Taralets," which is almost a musical translation of "We got the beat!"

The "official" video is here. There are two performances on the clip, the first being Doc Manny, so viewers are free to decide which performance is the better one. Hopefully, those who choose T's routine are also texting in their votes! Otherwise, the Doc's blast-text voting for himself will rule the day.

After the emotion of the afternoon taping, it was great to relax and take Annika and her cousins to Billy Crawford's concert at the Araneta Coliseum. When Billy asked for a volunteer lady to come on stage though, he sighted T in the second row (we were right behind VSR, who was instrumental in selling out the Coliseum) and called her. This is part of his song with T:

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Ty's New Toy

Got Ty a new iMac for his birthday and Christmas. (Just so we can quickly defuse any comments that he's spoiled.)

Am glad we did, even though at this point the brushed-aluminum beauty is just being used as a dandified YM machine. He gets home and starts chatting with his friends, both boys and girls(!). Twelve seems a bit young but I guess that's just my age showing.

On the good side, the new Mac is sparking his interest in computers and the web. His other main interests now include YouTube and gaming sites.

I'm glad we didn't make a mistake and buy him a Window-based PC. I remember how we did that with B and within a year, he was screeching for a change. Speaking of which, here's a cool video about Vista that we can all appreciate:

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Proud Mary Redux

Immediately after Celeb Duets yesterday, T and I went off to the Tatler Ball. At the end of the evening, the band was rocking and oddly enough, launched into "Proud Mary," the same song T had just sung on TV.

With that, she hopped on stage and finished the song with the band:

Compare and contrast that with the "official" GMA video of her performance:

If you got to the end of that GMA video, you'll note my shameless plug for Wow! Magic Sing. L, seated behind me then whispers in my ear, "just goes to show all La Sallites are sluts!" I dunno. I think advertisers appreciate that sort of unpaid endorsement. :)

Saturday, September 29, 2007

We Want Our Lives Back!

Athena, Annika and I are getting weary of Celebrity Duets. It's an amazing effort to allocate every Saturday afternoon for a 13-week TV season - that's over 3 months!

Oddly, T's energy is still up, as you can see from her performance today:

This rendition of Proud Mary was one of her best performances yet. She is clearly improving from week to week.

Amazingly, the Celeb Duets season was just extended by a week. The finals will be on October 20, so we might still have a few Saturdays to go, assuming she does not get voted off.

Friday, September 28, 2007


Raymund Isaac launched a book called Dimsum earlier tonight. Naturally, I was interested in who might have printed the book but there was precious little info on that.

Facial Care Centre helped publish the book, as both the beauty company and Raymund were celebrating their 25th anniversaries.

There's a great photo of T in it, entitled Sayuri. At the Ayala Museum exhibit, there's a five-foot-high version of the photo, with a short write-up explaining that Sayuri is a Japanese goddess of chastity and innocence.

Ordinarily, I wouldn't blog about an SE (aka social event, as Annika says) but that Sayuri stuff on "chastity and innocence" deserved a post.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

News Flash: Autobots Win!

Autobots defense prevented the Decepticons from scoring the tying goal during the last half of the game, thus prevailing 4-3 and winning the series 3-1.

The heartbreaking score does not show the fury of the last half, as the Decepticons controlled the puck on the Autobots' side, but could not penetrate the Mariano brothers' "wall" defense. Eventually, time ran out on the frustrated Decepticons.

Key non-play of the game was the altercation between players A and G, each alleging a holding violation, with tempers flaring all around. Luckily, all was calm immediately after the game. As always, what happens in the pool, stays in the pool.

Also heartbreaking for the Decepticons was the missed goal by player R on an otherwise excellent breakaway. With his adrenalin pumping, the puck was flicked over the goal, akin to missing a slam dunk.

R is pretty young though, and with his explosive speed, there will be far more many winning moments in his hockey career. He's the sort of new breed that can form a core RP Team that might contend in the U/W Hockey worlds one of these days.

Autobot captain B called tonight's game the roughest of the series. With 12 men and a shallow, narrow pool, it was pretty rowdy.

P.S. from Friday:

Polo management called me today and said a member had complained about the noise from the pool. It remains to be seen if this will be a cause for kicking us out of Polo.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Staying Alive

For the first time, T was not part of the dreaded "bottom three" on Celeb Duets. Perhaps her rock-themed singing is catching on, who knows?

Here she is performing with rock legend Mike Hanopol (who almost kinda looks like one of the guys from Geoffrey Rush in Pirates of the Caribbean).

On a sad note, Tim Yap was eliminated tonight. I can only guess that the Buzz Lightyear and doggy costumes hit the wrong demographic.

The "bottom two" were Tim and Wyngard. As much as I like Tim, I have to say I'm glad Wyn is staying, because he is truly the best singer of the bunch.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

I Know!

Athena's first sentence, from September 17:

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Decepticons 3, Autobots 2 *

New flash: Decepticons squeaked past the Autobots last night, 3-2, avoiding a sweep and bringing the series closer, 2-1.

The Autobots will call it an asterisk game though, as the Decepticons prevailed on Lifeguard Angel to call "time" at 9:50 PM, thus preventing a possible tie.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Calayan Clause

Quite a surprise on Celebrity Duets yesterday, when instead of culling the Sensational Six down to the Fab Five, GMA instead threw in a "Wild Card" - all votes were reset to zero and texters were only given from 6:45 PM to midnight to text in their votes. A further kicker was thrown in: only a maximum of ten text votes per cellphone would be counted.

Needless to say, T and I spent the rest of the night forwarding texts to everyone we knew. We'll know by next Saturday whether she gets to stay on the show.

I suspect the Wild Card was thrown in because the rumors had been that Doc Manny was buying load for his drivers and employees and just having them text in to keep him on the show. Whether true or not, I have to say that this tactic was well within the rules.

To the Doc, it made perfect sense. Why buy 30-second TVC's at P150,000 a spot when a text vote is only P2.50? In other words, everyday the good Doc stayed on Duets was free advertising for Calayan Surgicenter. So if the rules allowed didn't prevent a cellphone from submitting a hundred thousand or more votes, so be it.

Unfortunately for Doc, this oversight on the part of the Rules didn't necessarily make for good television.

Again the rumor mill was that yes, Doc was ahead in the total vote count, but if the rules only counted unique cellphone numbers, he was in fact, behind. So the rest of the Dueteers are actually more popular, but their texters just don't have enough load to spend.

Thus, new the Wild Card rule, which gives the unique cellphone numbers greater weight due to the ten-vote cap. IMHO, the Wild Card rule should truly be known as the Calayan Clause.

So all Six stay alive for another week.

Meanwhile, I actually believe that T's performances are improving. Here she is with Rufa Mae Quinto, singing "Like a Virgin" in flagrante delicto.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Autobots vs. Decepticons

I thought I would put in a guest post from C, one of the stronger hockey players and apparently also a potential blogger:

“One shall stand… and one shall fall”.. said the great Optimus Prime. And in their quest to rule cybertron, Team Autobots once again defeated Team Decepticons 9-3. The scores may not be close, but it wasn’t as easy as it looked. Though missing their leader Megatron (A.C.) due to injury and Alex Reyes, Team Decepticons were clearly ahead in terms of firepower. They had their full roster (10 players) going against the depleted Autobots… who come game time, only had a dismal 5 players.

That alone caused concern throught the Autobot Camp… How the hell would they be able to defeat this team? Thoughts of forfeiting the game and just having an all mens mixed game that night were instantly brought up. But if you're gonna lose and die anyway.. wouldn’t you rather die fighting?

As expected, the game started with the Decepticons scoring the first goal but even if they did, Team Autobots realized then on that they actually have a chance. Because even with just 5 players, the Autobots were able to bring the puck into the opponents goal area and were able to hold most of their attacks. Playing 2:3, Team Autobots definitely had their hands full. It's tough enough to go against a team with 6 players.. what more if they have 4 subs?

Fortunately for the Autobots, Ferdie arrived just in time before the second strike. It's now even-steven. But how far can the Autobots last without an ample supply of energon cubes (subs)? Though they have a full team, they still don’t have any subs. Team Autobots were eventually able to tie the score and then get the lead. Just attack and pressure the defense of the Decepticons... that was the game plan of Team Autobots.

A.R. would later arrive as reinforcement for the Decepticons but was instantly barred from joining his team 1 nanosecond (hehe..) after the Autobots saw him. Unfortunately for Team Decepticons, though A.R. would have been a great addition to their frontline, they were already playing with their declared 10-man roster. Which to my understanding, correct me if I’m wrong, you won't be able to change once the game starts. B.J. arrived a couple of minutes later and joined his fellow Autobots, which instantly boosted the team and helped them seal the deal and get the W.

The night was capped at Pizza Hut with birthday boy Ferdie treating the after-hockey-dinner people to a sumptuous pizza buffet. Six(?) different flavors of pizza were laid out in front of the PUHCers and as a true PUHC tradition, the food was gone in a few mins. =P Happy birthday Ferdie!

Team Autobots now leads the best of 5 series 2-0. Game 3 will be next Thursday. Which surely would be the hardest game of the entire series. With their backs now against the wall, Team Decepticons will definitely come back with a vengeance. No team wants to get swept and Team Autobots can't afford to get too overconfident even with their 2-nil lead because it's common knowledge that in sports, a close out game is usually the toughest one to win. Just ask the New York Yankees (NBL) and the Dallas Mavericks (NBA). =)

In support of the team and to try and lessen the now tense and extreme tourney like atmosphere of the series., yours truly… the gentledog arrived with a mascot in tow.. Abu-Optimus-Dog-Rahim =).

Monday, September 10, 2007

To Bench or Not to Bench

Tomorrow is the Bench Underwear Show. T invited me to go and she usually has a first-row seat, as evidenced by my video of Alessandra da Rossi from last year's show. However, tomorrow is also a Tuesday night, ergo an U/W Hockey night.

Hmmm. So do I watch men and women parade on a stage in their skivvies or do I flick a puck around with men and women in their swimsuits? Tough call...

Sunday, September 09, 2007

We got the beat!

Maybe it was because of her secret birthday wish, but T had a great performance yesterday on Celebrity Duets. She and her partner, Manilyn Reynes, sang that famous Go-Go's song, "We got the beat!"

I recorded the song using my new Nokia E90. T bought me the new phone at the Gifts and Graces Charity Auction a few weeks ago. I'm happier with it than the Blackberry, which I just never connected with. The key advantages of the E90 are:

1. a better Contacts database (I still find it hard to believe that the BB only allowed one mobile number per Contact)
2. a camera/video camera (better than the Treo's, but that's not saying much), and
3. the still-remarkable-as-ever Nokia speakerphone.

On the downside, the E90 database is still not a perfect match to the Treo and as we speak, Nokia Customer Care and Smart's Tech Team are still tag-teaming on getting the Calendar function to operate. Unfortunately, with the worldwide decline of Palm, I can see that their OS and products will soon go the way of Lotus 1-2-3. So a transition from Treo was always going to be inevitable.

The Blackberry functionality of the E90 is also not as beautiful as on the BB, but then that was truly the BB's only redeeming feature, and not one that's important enough to make it a primary phone.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Huwag na huwag mong sasabihin!

I found the best quality YouTube video of T's performance last Saturday. You can hear every crack in her voice!
It was uploaded by someone sporting the username nonshowbiz, which just makes me feel he/she must be part of the Kapuso team.

In the second half of the clip, Tim Yap performs in a Buzz Lightyear suit and then wishes his mom a happy birthday. When the camera flashes on her, she looks like a super conservative Chinese lady, about as far removed from Tim's outre persona as can be imagined.

She also had the line of the evening. After Dr. Hayden Kho performed, she asked aloud, "Anak ba yan ni Vicki Belo?" In response, there was an audible gasp all around.

As Kitchie says, "Huwag na huwag mong sasabihin!"

Monday, August 27, 2007

And now ... Billy Crawford!

These last two weekends have been a blast. First off, both have been long weekends, thanks to GMA's "holiday economics" that moved mid-week holidays to Mondays, thus creating successive three-day holidays.

Also, another GMA, not the president but the network, has been taping Celebrity Duets on Saturday afternoons. It's been tremendous fun watching T sing and dance with various professionals, and just this last Saturday was the hip-hop artist Billy Crawford.

Here's the short video of their performance that I took from my front row seat using my Treo 650. (Blogger has a new video upload feature, which I'm trying out.) The video is also on YouTube and I'm sure someone will eventually load up the TV version itself.

The inside scoop is that three of these contestants wanted to perform with Billy but T got the nod after some finagling between his manager and VSR, the owner of Gift Gate. Tita V, as we call her, is someone who really knows how to make things happen - at least in the showbiz world.

The whole weekend turned out to be a Celebrity Duets weekend because earlier this evening was the 40th birthday party of the show's host Ogie Alcasid.

GMA glitterati were in full force at the Polo Club for the affair. T and I turned up late but in good time to scout for possible future partners for her succeeding stints on C.D., assuming, of course, that she doesn't get axed.

Naturally, I also took the opportunity to have my own photos taken. After all, if the wife can sing with the stars, then the husband should at least get to pose with some heavenly bodies.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Spokesbaby?!?

What a pleasant surprise - I was flipping through the Inquirer over breakfast when I saw this article, "Motherhood becomes her," starring T and Athena.

MANILA, Philippines -- Lifestyle icon Tessa Prieto-Valdes, heretofore known to many for her colorful outfits, is now getting much-deserved attention for her mothering style and skills, too.

After being conferred the title “Idol ng Breastfeeding” by the Department of Health, she is now championing healthy baby skin as endorser of the new Nivea Baby line.

Valdes was chosen because she exemplifies the modern mother and she is a staunch advocate of proper infant care.

The accompanying picture had this caption: NIVEA Baby spokesperson for healthy skin, Tessa Prieto-Valdes, with 2-year-old daughter Athena.

It's a terrifically winsome picture, of course. Too bad Athena's vocabulary is limited at this time, otherwise she could have been the spokesbaby!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Even the Caddies are Voting

T and I played in Canlubang South today and even our caddies have been texting their votes to Celebrity Duets. I just know this show will be central to our lives for the next few weeks...

Meanwhile, someone finally loaded up the YouTube video of T and Jolina. When Athens was watching the video, she recognized herself when the camera panned to us, and she said, "Dad" and "me."

Saturday, August 18, 2007

... but not everyone will ...

Today was the first elimination round on Celebrity Duets and T survived the first cut. YouTube has the playlist of all the shows, easily found by doing a search for "celebrity duets tessa."

The first victim was Bb. Pilipinas Universe Ana Theresa Licaros, which is too bad since the show lost some valuable eye candy. It's a text elimination process, which simply says Theresa wasn't able to attract as many votes as, say, one of the guys who gave his driver P20,000 of load to use on texting in his name. Well, some guys need to win more than others, I guess.

Here's what the U.S. version of the show looks like:

Thursday, August 16, 2007

"Anyone can ... sing!"

T is now on the Kapuso network's new show, Celebrity Duets. Here she is, thanks to YouTube:

Part 1: Intro

Part 2: Performance with Kyla

Our good friend Rosan also blogged about Tessa's performance here and T herself wrote about the show in her Sunday column.

To support Tessa and get her to avoid elimination, text "Duets Tessa" to 367 (Smart/TalkNText) and 2344 (Globle/Sun/Touch Mobile).

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Where's Macau?

"It's in the bahn beside mah hoahse."

"Where's Macau?" used to be the kids' old joke. After all, who knew where this sleepy backwater of Hong Kong was?

When I lived in HK in the early '90's, I can still remember periodically taking the ferry to the Portugese enclave, lounging on the beach at the far end of Coloane island, shopping for bacalao and port wine, dining on Macanese food and even spending the odd dollar or two in one of the casinos.

How times have changed.

The Lisboa casino is a small indicator who how everything has changed. The old casino is now ringed with color-changing neon lights. Its most prominent feature, the wavy roof that was like a dragon's mouth that ate the gamblers as they walked in (the savvy ones took a side entrance to avoid the bad feng shui), is hardly noticeable.

Behind has mushroomed the Grand Lisboa, a giant soccer ball in front of a towering flame of glass. The soccer ball is coated with high tech, computer-controlled neon that can flash advertising messages as well as change colors and patterns.

And that's just the one, old, Stanley Ho-owned casino.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

A Star Magic Ball

Annika would have loved to come with T and I tonight. We saw her favorite Kampanerang Kuba, Anne Curtis, together with PBB heartthrob Sam Milby at the Star Magic Circle Ball.

After 15 years of developing stars, TV giant ABS decided to throw a dress-up ball for all its batches of talents. The idea came from PR guru Keren Pascual. There were so many glitterati around that we said the question of the night was probably, "Anong batch ka?"

Naturally all the star(lets) had to sing and dance as part of the show. The most notable dance for me was the tango danced to Norah Jones' Come Away With Me, which featured a wardrobe malfunction of sorts. I guess the starlets don't really practice with their gowns, so who can tell what colors of pantyhose might be inadvertently exposed by the odd dance lift or two?

I'm sure the paparazzi photos/video are already on the web somewhere, probably right next to the current YouTube hit of the Cebuano prison inmates dancing to Thriller. It's too bad we don't have a local version of to chronicle the miscues of our stars. Then again, maybe we're better off unchronicled.

Ironically, the scene stealer of the evening was an older talent whom I've never seen or heard of, a comic lady called Pokwang. Among her memorable lines was about how she had to earn money, "kasi may pinapaaral pa ako sa IS ... sa ilimintary school."

Kellogg 90 Reunion

Way back in 1990, seven Pinoys graduated from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. Four of us got together for coffee early this morning.

(R-L) Anthony Ty was back in town for a four-day visit. He currently lives in Southern Cal, working for Honda USA. Aleli Morales is working with Kellogg 89 alum Carol Dominguez of John Clements on an e-learning project. Giles Puno is CFO of First Gen and is staving off male meno-Porsche through early morning drives in his black 911 Carrera.

It was great catching up and seeing how life's journey has brought us all along these past 17 years.

Friday, August 03, 2007

The Return of the Natives

August 1 was a complicated day.

Number 1 son, Bryan, left for the U.S. on the late PAL flight. His short, post-graduation summer is done and he is heading back to look for a job and enter the proverbial "real world." It's been a poignant last few days thinking about him, all poised for this next stage of life.

Of course, upon arrival in SFO, his first e-mail was somewhat more prosaic: "As usual, the house needs to be cleaned so for the most part of today will be spent cleaning."

Meanwhile, Number 2 son, Tyrone, arrived at 8 P.M. from his CISV summer camp in Florence. It seems our 11-year-old has grown up, evidenced by this text message from the mom of one of his companions:

From J: Super thanks! Apparently Tyrone has a girlfriend from France and Steffi has a boyfriend from London. Can we just kill the two of them. :-)

Well, at least she put a smiley emoticon at the end of it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Blackberry Blues

I got a Blackberry a couple of weeks ago and it's been a difficult transition. Smart actually sends an "After Sales" person to help migrate files over to the new phone.

I kept it simple. All I wanted were my Treo's Calendar and Contacts. These are files that started when I got my first Nokia 9000 Communicator in June 2000 so that's a lot of stuff. The data has successfully made several device transitions over the years, eventually into my current Treo 650.

The Contacts issue was that the Palm OS has far more fields than the BB. So none of the Birthdays, Spouses, Kids, etc. made it from Treo to BB. OK, so maybe some of that is not too important but the killer was that the BB would only take one mobile phone number and one e-mail address, and in doing so wiped out quite a bit of data from my Address Book.

The Calendar fared worse. The BB first showed that it got all the data but a few hours later, all had been erased save for data from the past month. After Sales Guy tried twice unsuccessfully. Worse, somehow during the transfers, certain events in the Calendar became double entries. It seemed that whenever I had used the Details field in the Event, the event got re-entered, this time with the details as just part of the Event, shown in parentheses. Worse, there was no coherent pattern to which Events were repeated and which were left alone.

So I tried a new method.

I first downloaded PocketMac for BB from the BB website. Separately, I synced all my data from Treo's Palm Desktop to Mac's Calendar and Address Book software. That actually synced very well, except now the Mac Calendar has double entries and is a mess.

From the Mac Calendar and Address Book, I synced with the BB using PocketMac.

The Address Book made it with more info, but I am still working on sorting out exactly what fields were left out and which made the entire trip.

The Calendar was a mess with all the double entries and BB still had issues with disappearing events.

So today, I have three gadgets to carry around. My Globe is a Samsung U600, my Smart is the BB and my old Smart line is the Treo. I still use the Treo as my Calendar. One of these days, I'm getting the new Communicator and moving all that data over to that device so I can finally retire my Treo.

As for the BB, bottom line is: it's a one-trick pony.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Huugen Daz

We got a special delivery from the folks at Haagen Daz today - a huge container of one of their ice cream flavors: Pannacotta & Blueberry.

Unfortunately, there was no note attached, so we don't know if they were sending T a sample, hoping to get a mention in her column or if this was a misdirected delivery and should have been sent to an outlet instead.

Athena, of course, didn't have any problems with the delivery. She knew exactly what to do. Get it open now!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Interview with U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney

I had a great interview with U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney recently, for Forbes In Touch magazine. Here is the article:

FIT had the chance to interview U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney last July 18, 2007 at the Ambassador’s residence in Forbes Park. It was a wonderful chance to tour one of the most well-known residences in our community and to get to know the personal side of one of our busiest diplomats, one who has risen up to the very challenging job of looking after the interests of her country. FIT is proud to introduce our community to the more personal side of Ambassador Kenney.

FIT: Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to meet with us.

Amb. Kenney: You’re quite welcome. Would you like some coffee? I figured since we were neighbors we could have normal mugs instead of the Embassy china. These are my Galapagos mugs.

FIT: Thank you. I’ve always been impressed to come here and see the nice little touches of the U.S.A., like the Embassy logo on the napkins, and meet your long-serving Filipino staff.

Amb. Kenney: These guys are wonderful – Sally, Ledesa and Edgar. They’ve stayed and looked after the house, they look after me, they look after my cats. As to the logo, every ambassador gets that. That stays with the house along the official china. I like my coffee out of a mug, but the official china is more of a cup. So these are mine. An actual Kenney household item.

FIT: As a career diplomat, you must have lived in a lot of countries.

Amb. Kenney: I’ve been to a lot but haven’t lived in that many. Let’s see … Jamaica, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Switzerland, the Philippines…

FIT: A lot of Latin America! Many people say that we’re very Latin American.

Amb. Kenney: I see a lot of that here but with a different flavor. There’s a lot of Asia here, too. I think some of the best parts of Latin America are here, like the attachment to family – which I think is great! Also, Filipinos and many Latin Americans are able to make events special. There are ceremonies that make events special, like company anniversaries, openings, school awards… All these teach Filipinos of every age to be good public speakers. It’s amazing to me that people become very comfortable very early in life with speaking in public.

FIT: You’re the first female U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines. Have there been any special challenges?

Amb. Kenney: No! Not at all. People here are very friendly. This is a country that has a lot of dynamic women – you’re married to one! You’ve had female presidents, female heads of corporations, female NGO heads … I’ve never had trouble anywhere I’ve served in the world as a female diplomat. It’s also a modern era. I don’t think people care that much about gender anymore. If anything, the challenges would be tiny, odd things. The chair in my office was designed for a large male. The first time I sat down in it, my feet didn’t touch the ground! Teeny things like that.

FIT: I guess most ambassadors are still male! I looked you up on the web and noted that your husband is also an ambassador.

Amb. Kenney: Yes, Bill is currently moving to Colombia. We met in the foreign service, when we were both working for [Secretary of State] George Shultz [under President Ronald Reagan]. When we got married 21 years ago, we decided we would never take separate assignments unless we were offered two really good ambassadorships – nothing else. And now it happened. Who knew? It’s difficult of course. We see each other every three, four months. I’ll catch up with him in Washington in August.

FIT: What brought you into the foreign service?

Amb. Kenney: Actually, sort of peer pressure … when I was at university. The State Department gives a test every year if you want to be a diplomat. So my friends were all taking it and they said, “Well it’s free, why don’t you just sign up?” So, I signed up and I passed the test. And then there’s an oral exam. And I sort of just kept passing and was offered a job. At age 25, I said this might be fun for a year or two. I liked it and never left.

FIT: Do you have any children?

Amb. Kenney: We don’t have any children but I have three cats – Niles is 10, Emily is 9 and Junior is 8.

FIT: What breed are they?

Amb. Kenney: I’m not sure. I found them in an animal shelter in Washington and adopted them. Niles is still quite wary of people and I suspect he must have been badly abused. Emily is very shy. I like to say that she’s sensitive because a photographer called her fat. She was quite thin and hungry when I first got her. They’ve been to Chile and they were in Ecuador with me. They’re all fat now. They’ve gained weight since we moved to the Philippines. My attitude is that’s okay as long as they’re happy. They have a great life. They sleep 18 to 20 hours a day.

FIT: You’ve always seemed like such a friendly person, so natural.

Amb. Kenney: I actually love people. The thing I like best about my job is the chance to meet new people and understand what they do and why they do and what’s different and what’s special. Locking me in an office is the worst thing you can do to me. I learn better by seeing. It helps me get a sense … Why are we doing that? Why do we have this program? Part of my job is to look at what the United States is doing here. Is it good? Does it make sense? Are we adding value here?

FIT: How many people work at the Embassy?

Amb. Kenney: We have 1,500 staff, with 1,000 Filipinos and 500 Americans. What I try to do is, a couple of times a month, I have a lunch with different sections of the Embassy. Sometimes I have lunch with just the Filipino staff; they don’t always like to talk if their supervisors are there. I had lunch with the Motor Pool last week. That was fun. The drivers, they have a lot to say. They’ve been here for years. They have a lot of views. I actually have a great job. I like living here. Filipinos fit my personality so well. Very friendly, very outgoing, very interesting. This is a huge city, there’s somebody who does something of everything. A place where people are easy to talk to. There’s no door closed.

FIT: Well, the U.S. has had a relationship with us for over a hundred years now.

Amb. Kenney: Yes, and you want to be sure you don’t take that for granted. Just because you’ve had a good relationship doesn’t mean you can sort of just say, “Oh well, we don’t need to agree.”

FIT: I think one of the things that has been fantastic is that the relationship has had its ebbs and flows, but the institutions remain. U.S. AID has always been here…

Amb. Kenney: … the Peace Corps has been here forever. In two weeks we swear in the newest group of Peace Corps volunteers. There’s always been good moments and bad moments. I think that’s to be expected.

FIT: Like in any relationship.

Amb. Kenney: Somebody asked me that on TV the other day – there have been issues the Philippines and the United States don’t agree on. And I said, I don’t know about you guys, but even with my husband we don’t always agree.

FIT: Exactly. But you move on.

Amb. Kenney: Yes, exactly. We can agree to disagree. Or this one we don’t see eye to eye. My husband “claims” he doesn’t like cats. We have three.

Custom Search