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!

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