Saturday, May 26, 2007

Why Kids Sometimes Hate Their Parents

Annika was Reyna Esperanza at the Santacruzan in our village today, escorted by Tyrone.

I guess every Pinoy joins a Santacruzan at one point or another in his or her life. In the kids' case, it was kind of a shocker since they had just come in from their vacation in the U.S. Having to dress up in one of Tessa's heavy gowns and a barong was a mood dampener. And the heat and humidity of the afternoon did nothing to buoy their spirits.

The event itself wasn't too long nor too involved. Just a few pre-teen to college-age sagalas escorted by reluctant boys, one flower-festooned careton of the Virgin Mary and one drum-and-xylophone marching band. The little procession did a small loop of the village streets and then marched right back to the basketball court for a merienda of hotdogs and fries.

Afterwards, I took Annika to Rockwell and bought her Shrek the Third for her Nintendo DS. Then we had a steak dinner at Myron's, a new place in the basement that serves very nice, reasonably priced steaks. That got her somewhat mollified. After all, she's now the first kid on the block that will have Shrek.

In this video, you can just feel the enthusiasm of the two, as Daddy's plaintive requests to smile and wave at the camera are barely acknowledged. The band's cacophony in the background completes the ambience. For the aficionados of religious processions, I've loaded up more pictures and videos on Kodak Gallery and YouTube.

Friday, May 25, 2007

It's All Good!

T and the younger kids flew in early this AM. They woke me up for a swim and then we all had breakfast at Pancake House. It's amazing how much the kids have grown in 2 months.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Minimizing My Carbon Footprint

T was asking me the other day what I'm doing now that she and the kids are all off on vacation. I told her I was minimizing my carbon footprint, which of course brought up the obvious retort, "What is a carbon footprint?"

I guess it's the latest new age-vegan-Greenpeace-global warming thing. According to, "A Carbon Footprint is a measure of the impact human activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of green house [sic] gases produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide."

In short, if you're breathing, you're contributing to global warming.

Of course, we can't all just keel over and stop breathing just to save the earth. So the tree-huggers came up with the idea that we can at least feel less guilty about global warming by buying what they call carbon offsets. (Who knew there was a shopping angle to this?)

The premise is that these carbon offsets fund "green" projects all around the world. It's certainly an innovative way to get people to contribute to tree-planting and similar activities. ("Don't worry about your 12-cylinder SUV; just buy another carbon credit.")

Interestingly, the idea has taken enough root in Europe, such that even Buckingham Palace bought carbon credits to offset the airplane emissions from Queen Elizabeth's recent visit to the U.S.

As for me, I'm just seeing how low our electric bill can get without the entire family watching TV, lighting up the house, using air conditioners, etc. So in the past month, my carbon emissions have been confined to surfing the web and using the electric fan.

Considering that temperatures here have been approaching 40C, I am so glad that T and kids are arriving on Friday - just so I can start maximizing my carbon footprint again!

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Struggle to Remain Relevant

Ages and stages. The kids are so young and full of life, but on the other end of the spectrum are both sets of our parents, now in their 70's, now and then given to the strangeness of the old.

In a sense, all this reminds me of Dylan Thomas's famous poem. Here is a cool recording of the poet himself reading his poem. To those who are still on dial-up mode in this broadband world, just read this in a deep voice:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

It seems to me sometimes, that as one ages, he/she struggles to remain relevant. It's not easy to be aware that one's physicality is gradually deteriorating, and hence to wonder if one's life has been of import.

Thus the inexplicable rage we sometimes experience from our beloved 70-somethings.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Weekend in SFO, Part 3

Here's the other reason why I had to be in SFO for the weekend: Athena. At two, she owns me completely. I shudder to think what she can do with me when she is say, 16.

Her elder sister, the inspiration for this blog, is Annika (at far left). Annika is clearly the bright one in the family, with grades that would make any parent proud.

But it is Athena that has made my life stress-free. She has a look that would make any burden disappear. And an energy that keeps me awake, even after a 12-hour, trans-Pacific flight.

As she enters her "terrible two's," Athena is as active as the Energizer Bunny, continually running around and waving her hands in the air, always smiling, testing words like "Barney" (unfortunately) and "Dah" (for Daddy).

It almost makes me want to fly there for the weekend again...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Weekend in SFO, Part 2

"If you were sure you could not fail, what would you choose to do with your life?" That's the memorable line from Bryan's commencement speaker at his graduation ceremonies last May 5.

I thought about that a bit - how the line really challenges these young adults to shoot for the stars. It's a great way to encourage them to take some risks.

That night at the dinner party, I noticed that B's friends were all writing him their best wishes in his Guest Book. I decided to also put in the flipside of the speaker's comment - that often in life, we do fail. In fact, we stumble countless times and in myriad ways.

The path to success is to never give up, never despair, never surrender.

One little story I remember comes from my first meeting with Cyril Pereira, then General Manager of the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. I was just getting my feet wet in the printing business, trying to learn as much as I could from the old pros.

The SCMP presses that CP had set up were the creme de la creme of the industry when I first visited in 1996. You could walk all around the press hall and never get any stains, not even on the bottom of your shoes.

I asked CP how he had achieved all this, arguably one of the most impressive press rooms in the world. I'll never forget his response:

"What you'd don't see are the mistakes I made getting here."

Friday, May 04, 2007

Weekend in SFO

Just a quick post while I'm dining al desko as usual. I'm really excited to be flying off to see T and the kids tonight. PR104 leaves at 10:30 P.M. and gets in to SFO by 8 P.M., still on Friday.

Tomorrow, Mr. B graduates from Notre Dame de Namur University. It's amazing that T and I now have a college grad. I was telling B to go work for Google and find out how they plan to conquer the world.

Tomorrow also, Athena turns two. That's a twenty-year gap between #1 and #4, from 1985 to 2005! We'll have a small, joint celebration for both kids tomorrow night and leave the big partying for when everyone comes home at the end of May.

It will just be a 50-hour stay for me, because on Sunday night I get on PR105 to fly back here. We're still finishing the Annual Report. This weekend is a perfectly timed getaway because the proofs are coming in this afternoon and the printers will be working over the weekend anyway. When I arrive on Tuesday morning, the first printed copies should be ready for inspection.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

We'd All Rather Be Flicking!

My hockey mates posted this invite for the summer, in case anyone is interested in learning how to play underwater hockey.

The Philippine Underwater Hockey Club aka PUHC is a fun group of young people, from very diverse places all over the world. For example, this "ad" was created by Margie, who in real life works with Arkeo Films, an indie movie group. Other members range from professionals to students, entrepreneurs to corporate animals, triathletes to weekend warriors.

The club has its roots in the late '70's, when the U.P. Skin Divers Club was formed, then later, the U.P. Divers Club came about. These divers were always looking for some water-related sports and underwater hockey was introduced. By the mid-80's, a core group of aficionados had broken away and devoted themselves full-time to hockey.

Today, three decades later, there's a hockey game in some pool somewhere in Manila almost every night of the week! If you liked the previous post on the hockey players showing off their flicking skills, this might be the sport for you!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I'd Rather Be Flicking

This is a fascinating video of some really skilled underwater hockey players. They seem to get fantastic height when flicking that heavy, lead puck. More amazing is their ability to catch it in mid-water, spin and drop it in front of them, ready for the next flick.

Today's u/w hockey game wasn't quite the same. The Army Pool visibility was down to about three tile-lengths, so the best way to score was to start a big swing to the other end of the pool (where no one could see you), then continue on and swim to the other goal.

It was a good workout day for me though. With T and the kids all in SFO, there's absolutely nothing to do here but exercise. So I swam 1.2k in Polo when I woke up, then had an hour of Pilates with Linzi at 1:30 P.M. and finally got to the hockey game at 4 P.M.

With all my workouts over the past week, I'm down to 139 lbs.

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