Friday, November 21, 2008

The AUHC Video

Asian Underwater Hockey Competition Plug from fiona borres on Vimeo.

The guys from the Underwater Hockey club are so talented and so diverse. Jay Abello, who hails from Bacolod, is a film director and got his group to produce this 30-sec. TVC for the 2nd Asian Underwater Hockey Championships. Now everyone wants to see the unedited footage.

The AUHC starts tomorrow and we've all been practicing for over a month now. Results to follow!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Black Tie Brawl

Tyrone and I were invited to the Black Tie Brawl last October 18th. Now ordinarily, I would never be able to drag Tyrone to any kind of social event. The draw of the BTB though, is that it's eight Mixed Martial Arts fights thrown in with a five-course dinner at the Hyatt Hotel and Casino. There must be some bloodlust in my son, because he readily agreed to go to the fights with me.

The BTB was a dress-up event, so a few days before, Ty and I went off to find a suit for him. We found one in our first stop - The Landmark. On the third floor kids section, we found a blue suit for P1,980. Add in a few pesos more to get it cut the right length and we had a great deal! This is what we looked like before heading off to the Hyatt:

At the event, quite a few people were actually wearing tuxedos! It's a good thing that Tyrone and I dressed up. T was actually of the opinion that there might be a few people in jeans with jackets, but actually there were hardly any dressed down attendees. If anything, my light grey suit was under-dressed, a fashion faux pas!

We sat at a table with guys from IPVG, as I had been invited by Enrique Gonzalez, their president. We decided to put up a small betting pool, with the pot going to whoever had the most number of correct guesses as to who would win each of the eight fights. Tyrone and I could only get 3 of 8, less than a 50:50 rate! The winner was Rodney Hall, who is in the Sports Betting area and got 8 of 8 correct. I guess his abilities to spot winners extends even to sports he is unfamiliar with.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Valdes Bonding at the O3

"I love it when a plan comes together!"
- Col. John "Hannibal" Smith from the A-Team

I just know yesterday is gonna be one of the highlights of 2008 for all of us. Our O3 adventure turned out fantastic, with a 3rd place finish among the relay teams.

We're all still on Cloud Nine, but just to bring us back down to earth, perhaps it is also best to clarify how we got our podium finish.

First off, only 7 teams registered for the Relay O3, and then, only 5 actually showed up.

The first place Powerade Team was unbeatable. They had the Philippine Long Distance swimming champion, who did the 4k swim in about 48 minutes, then a Tour of Luzon biker for the 120k ride and finally a champion marathoner for the 30k run. Their total time of 6:05 was so fast that they caught up with the overall O3 winner, Mathieu O'Halloran, who was flagged off 30 minutes ahead of the Relay and finished on his own in 6:36.

So really only 4 teams were vying for 2nd and 3rd. Then the two other teams actually got DQ'd, the Cagayan de Oro Team because their swimmer started with the O3 pack instead of with the Relay start, and the Happy Feet Team because, unfortunately, their biker had a crash as she neared the finish.

So that left Team Valdes vs. the Ocean Adventure Team, who all turned out to be pretty young and athletic guys. Ocean Adventure won 2nd place with a strong 8:20 time, a good 48 minutes ahead of us, with each of their team members winning against us individually: their swimmer finished in 1:09 vs. my 1:21, their biker did 4:01 vs. Robin's 4:15 and their runner clocked 3:09 vs. Tessa's 3:31.

I think Robin could have potentially matched or beaten their biker, but he had a bike crash in Tagaytay a week ago and was still nursing bruised ribs and hips. We're just glad that he was able to make it to Subic. Tessa's best 10k is already sub one hour, so the 3:09 is within her reach. As for me, 1:21 is the fastest and longest I've ever swam, so a 1:09 seems pretty far away.

Well, win or lose, we did have loads of fun, especially with Dave, Mona and the kids in our support group. Lots of pictures will be loaded up on our Multiply sites soon.

The official race results are here. Our official times are:
Swim 4k 1:21:01
Bike 120k 4:15:56
Run 30k 3:31:10
Total 9:08:07

Sunday, July 06, 2008

47 is the new 30 = O3

How strange it feels to get into one's late 40's. A few days ago, I could still legitimately call myself "mid-40's." But now a new plateau has been reached and my math skills tell me I should be rounding up rather than down.

One consoling text was received from my bro, Robin, who noted that "47 is the new 30." Well, let's just hope I can continue to keep up with the many tireless thirtysomethings in the underwater hockey games.

Perhaps in "celebration" of this latest milestone, I started training today for the upcoming O3 triathlon. The official race name is the ITU O3 Asian Long Distance Triathlon and it is scheduled for August 2, 2008 in Subic Bay, just 27 days away.

All this is to help T with her preparations for the New York Marathon in November. As part of her training for that 42k run, today she ran 21k in the Manila Half Marathon, finishing in a strong 2:13. Her coach, Ani, says she should be scaling up to the 30k level by August, so the O3 is perfectly timed.

Unfortunately for me, the O3 is a triathlon, so for T to run the 30k leg, she first needs teammates to do the 4k swim and the 120k bike. Robin is a very good biker and has been pressed to duty to take care of the 120k bike.

That leaves the challenging swim leg, which is described as:

O3: Two 2km loops (Cut-off: 2 hours & 45 minutes, 8:45AM )
Description: Clockwise direction with a surf-run each loop. The swim course will be marked with buoy lines. Kayaks will be deployed to guide some of the swimmers or provide safety assistance. A C-shaped buoy line will be located offshore. The distance from swim exit to transition is 50m, beaches and path with shower.

Today I swam 1.5k at the Polo pool, with no waves and with 30-sec breathers every 500m. I'm quite far from getting to 4k. But I guess that's what goals are for.

Robin, of course, quipped that he and Tessa may not even get to start their races in the event I don't finish the 4k! Ah, now that's a consoling thought!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

A Long Time Ago in a Tunnel Far Far Away

During our HavItAll scuba weekend, Ichay B and I were reminiscing about our scuba diving days in the eighties. We remembered one near accident we had inside the Mapating Cave, which is a tough cave dive complicated by its deep depth.

Not surprisingly, we had different recollections of the near-25-year-old event. The third person in the cave, Jingjing T, couldn't be reached by cellphone but we all did get to contact each other weeks later.

Here are the e-mails and the three versions:

To: Jingjing
From: Dennis

As I recall that dive from 20 years ago, we were all in the short tunnel in Mapating - me in front, followed by you and Ichay. Somehow, I remember looking back (for what reason I cannot recall) and then seeing Ichay and you moving into a buddy-breathing position.

However, you couldn't get your reg into her mouth. When I looked closer, I saw that her reg's mouthpiece was still in her mouth! Somehow, her reg and mouthpiece had separated in the cave! I remember sticking my finger into the mouthpiece hole, still in Ichay's mouth, and flicking it off with my finger. Then I gave her my reg and I went for my octopus.

Once we were both breathing again, we moved to the cave mouth, I gave her the octopus and I got my own reg back, then we made our ascent with you following closely behind.

In Ichay's version, she recalls that she started buddy breathing with you in the short tunnel and that I took over for some (unrecalled) reason.


To: Dennis
From: Jingjing

Well, for my version of the story...
Before the dive, Ichay and I had an agreement that since we were buddies, that we would do the buddy breathe just in case anyone was low on air during the deco stop.

What I remember is that we just got out of the cave and before our ascent, Ichay pulls my reg from my mouth. I obliged because I had expected it. But I wondered why it came a bit too soon. Anyway, so we calmly moved into the buddy breathing position. I didn't notice she had her other mouthpiece still in her mouth. That's why she had water every time she inhaled and couldn't get enough air. I thought she was breathing well. After she took two breaths, I was expecting my reg back but she wouldn't give it back yet. I waited another 2 breaths and before the situation got worse, you came along. You saved both our lives from damage at that point. We never thanked you. Thanks!


To: Jingjing
From: Dennis

How galing your memory. My recollection has got to be wrong then since I must've sensed you both struggling with the reg - that's the reason I must've looked back. The only question is whether we were still in the short tunnel or already in the entrance.

And, of course, the craziest question of all - how did Ichay's reg get separated from her mouthpiece in the first place???


To: Dennis
From: Ichay

My and Jing's versions match. Dennis, you're not much older than us ha! :)

To add on to Jing's version- we were in the short tunnel, Dennis was ahead, I was next, then Jing. I started breathing water and immediately, there was a sharp and intense pain - must be the lack of air at 150 feet. When I was at the verge of blacking out from the pain, I just had enough sense to think that I needed air so I turned around because Dennis was too far ahead and saw Jing's silhouette (the light from end of the tunnel was several meters behind her). I grabbed for the general direction of her mouth. At this point, everything was a blur and luckily, my hand landed on her reg. Until now I wonder what would have happened if my hand missed Jing's reg.

I must have not been thinking well anymore because I realized after the dive that I never gave Jing back her reg. Sorry Jing!!! That's when Dennis came.

So Dennis, yes. Thanks for saving Jing and I! :)

And as to why my mouthpiece came off, I have no idea.


Funny how a single event can have multiple shades of memory. Very Rashomon.

The reason Ichay never got into any trouble, of course, had nothing to do with me. It's because she has six toes! (As blogged by her sister here.)

Her Dad once told me that because of this, "maswerte si Ichay." And true enough, she has always been a lucky person.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Fourteen Years

June 24th was our 14th wedding anniversary. T and I have come a long way from marching down the aisle of the Santuario de San Antonio, with a long-haired Afghan hound as part of the entourage. Funny how it's the little details that I remember.

The morning of the wedding, my Mom woke me up with a frantic phone call. "Dennis, is there a dog in your wedding?"

"What? Of course not, Mom. Why would we have a dog in the wedding?"

"Well, I'm looking at the entourage list and it says right here, D-O-G."

"Oh that must be a typo or something. It's probably a code from the bridal consultants. D-Oh-6 or some crazy thing like that. Don't worry about it."

Of course, T had never told me about the dog. Apparently one day about a month before the wedding, she'd been walking in Urdaneta Village and saw Lito and Kim Camacho (this was way before his Secretary of Finance stint) walking their Afghan hounds.

She quickly convinced Lito to lend her the dog for our medieval-themed wedding. Their ten-year-old daughter Bea became a last-minute additional bridesmaid (to control the dog!). When designer Inno Sotto's staff presented me the additional bill for Bea's gown, I still remember saying, "What's this for?" And T snatched the invoice and said, "Oh never mind, it's a surprise for you. Just pay it."

So on the evening of the wedding, there I am at the foot of the altar watching everyone walk slowly up the aisle, the violin strains of Pachelbel's Canon providing a medieval ambiance. Suddenly I see this beautiful hound bouncing up the aisle, led from behind by a young girl (I'd never seen before).

In my mind, the only thing I can think of is, "Oh my God. On my wedding day, I lied to my Mom."

So with that intro, I must say it's been a remarkably interesting fourteen years. These days it's no less subdued, especially on T's part. The costumes continue to be outre, the wigs outlandish, the accessories oversize.

(This photo is from our anniversary dinner at Azu Thai, the Gamboa's new restaurant at the Milky Way Building. T's necklace was a gift from my Mom.)

Thing is though, we don't have any dogs. But things do come full circle. Annika is ten now and she's been asking for one.

P.S. I was looking through our old wedding albums and came across this photo, which includes the very svelte Gigi and the alluring Rosan. Very worth posting.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fathers' Day at the Shang

Today is Fathers' Day and I spent most of it in a business lunch with some foreign visitors. Ironically enough, just outside the Shang's Inagiku restaurant was a small exhibit celebrating the day. The sign says,

"A Tribute to Fathers"
Captured moments of distinguished men in the role they play best ... fathers.
June 13 - July 6, 2008
Makati Shangri-La

The exhibit featured a framed photo of a bunch of different fathers, all from pictures taken by their kids. Thanks to T and her good friend, J, who works with the hotel, my photo was deemed fit to join the exhibit.

We decided to submit a photo taken by Tyrone when we stayed at the Sangat Island Reserve in April this year. Funny but I just realized that I never blogged about that trip. All I did was post our pictures in Multiply. The caption under my photo says,
"a photo taken by Tyrone on a scuba diving trip in Coron, Palawan"

That was a fun trip, a continuation of the annual Father-Son Trips that Bryan and I used to do when he was younger. Sangat isn't a plush place; in fact, it's quite basic in amenities (although they did have wireless connectivity at the resort's bar). For me, its key attribute is its proximity to the ten or so Japanese World War II wrecks in Coron Bay and Busuanga Island.

Ty and I got to dive six of the wrecks: Tangat, Kogyo maru, Irako, Taiei maru, Akitsushima and Olympia maru. Actually Tyrone skipped the Irako as that was a deep dive, and the dive guide and I penetrated into the ship's kitchen at 113 feet. The wrecks and Coron Bay have lately been getting a lot of good press. Hopefully that will improve the tourism numbers of the area.

As can be seen from this photo alone though, it was a good bonding trip for both of us. And Ty is clearly learning to frame his photo subjects properly. Some good thoughts to take away from the exhibit ... when I should be home with the kids and not negotiating contracts.

Friday, June 13, 2008

An Old Hockey Picture from Marilen

In our underwater hockey group, the "vets" are those players who have been playing since the early 90's, when the Philippine Underwater Hockey Confederation or PUHC was formed. There are also those who've been playing since the 80's, of course, during the Jurassic, pre-hockey Period when we were all U.P. Divers.

Marilen Carpio recently sent this blast from the past, a hockey picture from September 1989. From L-R, that's me, Marilen, Gigi Santos, Martin Reyes, Toti Turalba, Freddie Reyes (Martin's brother), Jingjing Llamas and my brother Dave.

How time flies! Gigi looks like Marcie, the friend of Peppermint Patty in Peanuts. Toti looks like a boy and now he and Jing are married with two kids. And we all miss Martin, who passed away a few years ago.

The funny thing is that this is probably the only hockey game I played in 1989. I left Manila in 1988 to take my MBA. In between the two years, I got a summer job working for NutraSweet. What I did that summer was to fax (no e-mails yet) John Concepcion in Manila and talk about launching a diet version of Sarsi.

That project worked out pretty well because at the end of the summer, NutraSweet sent me to Manila with another manager to finalize the launch plans for Diet Sarsi. I was only in town for about five days, but obviously I found time to squeeze in a hockey game one night. I guess that's why Marilen describes me in the photo as "visiting."

I ended up working for NutraSweet until 1996, during which time I didn't get to play any hockey at all because they stationed me in Chicago, then Singapore, then Hong Kong and finally in Manila when T and I got married in 1994. Gosh, indeed how time flies!

Monday, June 02, 2008

A Visit to the Rainbow Warrior

OK, here's a good debate. On the face of it, "Quit Coal" seems like something we can all agree with. Even the totally uninformed must have some awareness of "global warming," "Al Gore," "clean energy" and the hundreds of buzzwords and issues surrounding climate change.

One of the best articles I've read on the issue was in National Geographic, entitled "The High Cost of Cheap Coal." Here are a couple of choice quotes from that issue:

Coal-burning power plants ... supply the United States with half its electricity. They also emit a stew of damaging substances, including sulfur dioxide—a major cause of acid rain—and mercury. And they gush as much climate-warming carbon dioxide as America's cars, trucks, buses, and planes combined.

For the past 15 years U.S. utilities needing to add power have mainly built plants that burn natural gas, a relatively clean fuel. But a near tripling of natural gas prices in the past seven years has idled many gas-fired plants and put a damper on new construction. Neither nuclear energy nor alternative sources such as wind and solar seem likely to meet the demand for electricity.

"Aye, there's the rub," as Hamlet debated with himself: Coal is bad, yes, but other sources of electricity are more expensive. And given the current national debate on the already high electricity prices in our country, majority of which is coal-derived, clearly the issue is not easy to resolve.

So on a sunny Sunday, T and I decided to go and visit the Rainbow Warrior, the flagship of Greenpeace's "Quit Coal" efforts in the Philippines. We may not have the solutions, but we can at least listen to what the vanguards of alternative energy have to say.

Trouble is we came late and so didn't get to fully hear Greenpeace's solutions. Looking around, the crew seemed just like you and me and not the fanatic, tree-hugging vegans that one might expect from their anti-big business exploits. And yet, there on deck were those massively powered rubber dinghies that Greenpeace puts to such media savvy use, zipping around international waters buzzing Japanese whalers and such.

For me, Greenpeace is on the fringe of these debates. Does painting "Quit Coal" on the side of a freighter resolve the issue? Wouldn't a contribution to research on how to make alternative energy cheaper be a better way to resolve the debate?

Still the afternoon is pleasant enough. There's Dave the Dolphin gracing the ship's bow, always a good spot for a photo op.

And there are a lot of students aboard, some probably just getting their first thoughts centered on this Gordian knot called energy. I just hope they keep an open mind towards the myriad solutions that are out there.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Athena and T for Met Tathione

Looks like the Met Tathione wars are escalating. (And I don't even know what the product does!)

Anyway, T is on one of their billboards. Here it is, on the corner of Quezon Blvd. and EDSA. (I got quite a few motorists angrily blowing their horns at me as I stopped to take this shot with my Nokia.)

T also just recorded this TVC 15 for Met Tathione. The maids said they saw it on a GMA show tonight, so it is airing already.

Not to be outdone, Athena decided to record her own version. Unfortunately it's only a sound clip, so to listen you'll need to visit my Multiply site.

Post update:
There seem to be some Blogger video issues, so here is the same clip via YouTube:

Monday, May 26, 2008

A Time Capsule for T

About a month ago, T's MacBook crashed. A hard disk failure can be like a death in the family especially when, as in T's case, her last backup was from a year ago. (Of course, the lack of backups was my fault, but I won't get into all that.)

Here's part of T's Inquirer column about her Mac crash:

Parting with my cyber memories
By Tessa Prieto-Valdes
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 04:16:00 04/27/2008
MANILA, Philippines - Lost in cyberspace, I have a year’s worth of digital photos and files waiting to be retrieved hopefully by some computer geek. Just last week, my iMac’s hard disk crashed. When the screen went blank, my electronic life flashed before my eyes! But as with any loss, I’ve learned to “just let it go!” To help me move on, this week I want to write about cleansing, both in the real and cyber worlds.
I had failed to back up my files, so my first call was to Mac genius Elbert Cuenca. I went to visit him in his superb restaurant, Elbert’s Steak Room at Unit 3-A, an almost hidden walk up the side stairs of the Sagittarius Building at 111 H.V. De la Costa St. in Salcedo Village, Makati. If you’re lost, call 3393363 or make reservations at

Unfortunately not even Elbert could save the disk. All T had done was initiate the Shut Down procedure and then closed the MacBook cover. Elbert said that wasn't the cause, but who really knows with computer gremlins?

MacBooks are equipped with SATA hard disks, which have a small failure rate. Worse, when a crash occurs, the SATA drives have a rep as being unrecoverable. All this was explained by the techies at Ynzal and Xyon Systems, where we sent the hard disk for any possible Lazarus effects. They suggested sending the hard disk to the U.S. for clean room recovery, but the price tag on that is $2,000. Hmmm. Luckily, T said no.

After I got her new hard disk installed, I decided to also get a Time Capsule for the house. I first read about TC from David Pogue's column, Pogue's Post, in the New York Times (which unfortunately came out two weeks after the crash).

TC backs up a computer automatically, constantly and wirelessly. I named the machine Yellos Base, after one of Tyrone's Internet code names. YB does a backup of T's Mac every hour, on the hour. At the end of the day, it saves one version for the day. It does the same at the end of the month.

In the event of a hard disk failure or if T wanted to find a file she had previously deleted, all she'd have to do would be to start up Time Machine. The display would show a space continuum with all the backup versions lined up. When she finds what she's looking for, she simply clicks Restore.

At home, YB is not a one-trick pony. It's connected to the main internet cable and acts as a wireless router to connect Tyrone's, Annika's, Tessa's and my computers together. So all our computers are now backed up regularly. Of course, true disaster-recovery pros would still scoff, since our backups are not stored offsite, but hey, these aren't the Bangko Sentral's records.

Also when we have guests who want to connect to the web, they can easily do that since YB acts as a wireless hub. Why talk when we can just check each others' Facebook accounts from across the table? That's what I call cloud socializing!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Garage Sale

I never thought a garage sale was a bloggable event, but apparently, T's garage sale made the blogosphere. As always, it was another of her charity fundraisers together with her Assumption Batch 81 classmates.

I was just amazed at the whole production, from the posters to publicize the event all the way to the security guards to - what? Guard against shoplifters?

I also found out that in Forbes, you can't just have a garage sale. You have to notify the association and, I love this, pay a garage sale fee. It's all of P50 so I don't even know what this covers.

The complete post, including great photos of the stuff that was sold, is here.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Kids are coming!

I can hardly wait...

Daisypath Vacation PicDaisypath Vacation Ticker

P.S. Thanks to Meyan's blog for introducing me to

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Mom's Day Surprise

On Mother's Day, I found myself lounging around the Polo pool with the rest of the Valdeses - a laid back way of celebrating the day. Suddenly my cell rang. Joey Campillo, an old friend I hadn't seen in ages, was asking where I was. Minutes later, he was walking towards our cabana.

That's when I noticed there was a wide-brimmed hat bobbing up and down behind him. T was back from Tubbataha one day early! She had enlisted Joey's help to be able to sneak up on all of us.

It was such a cool Mom's Day surprise, especially since all the kids are in Oz and the house has been empty.

Tubbataha weather had turned bad on their last day, so they had come back a day early. More photos of their trip are on Vina M's Multiply site
and will eventually be on Cris H's Multiply site, when our fave photog gets the energy to post them. This photo by Cris is a good example of the great viz they had during their week there.

T's early return without advance warning to me generated a lot of funny comments. The best was from her Tita M, who noted, "You're lucky. Many wives would be the ones who are surprised."

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Acquire Night

Over the past decade, four friends and I have been playing Acquire. We average four nights a year when we all get together at someone's home and play three games for the night.

Total accumulated winnings for the evening determine the winner and runner-up, who then share our prize pool in a 2:1 ratio. The pool is pretty small, P500 each plus fines for latecomers and for the last to arrive. The pool just brings a bit of excitement to the game.

The complete rules for Acquire are here.

We've been playing so long that when we first started, the game looked like this, with a Dracula-type banker on the box cover. (It was produced by 3M, the Scotch tape guys. The modern version above was developed by Hasbro.)

On Acquire Nights, we bring our wives, who gossip on their side of the table while the five of us play and chat on ours. (Note that I'm being politically incorrect by saying the women "gossip" while we "chat," as if our talk was any more substantive than theirs.)

Over the decade, four of the five of us have remained with the same spouse, which is a pretty good batting average for Manila. Also, about five children have been added in that decade, which is a pretty low figure for the country.

Acquire was invented by a board game designer named Sid Sackson in the '60's (interesting job title). Sackson also collected games and when he died (in 2002), had over 18,000 in his collection. As a nice touch, when Hasbro updated the game, they named one of the corporations Sackson (although they also used it for the cheapest corporation, which is kind of a cheap shot).

There are various websites that talk about the history of the game, its rules, variations, tournaments and all sorts of Acquire trivia. Naturally I read through it all, especially since there's nothing to do when nobody else is at home.

The point of all this is that we had an Acquire Night last night and I just now figured out we've been doing something wrong all this time. We've always dealt each other $5,000, and just tonight I read the exact rule:

Each player begins the game with $6000 in cash ($1000 x 4, $500 x 3, $100 x 5) and six tiles picked at random for their starting racks.

Oops, time to return all bets!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Athena's Birthday

I called her up this morning. When it's your third birthday, it's important to get a call from Daddy.

We had a fairly long conversation too, as discussions with three-year-olds go. She was babbling away and in the back, I could hear Yaya Juvy instructing her, "Thank you, Daddy," "I love you, Daddy," and finally "Bye-bye, Daddy."

All the kids are in Oz with their Prieto grandfolks; T left yesterday for a week of scuba diving in Tubbataha... the house is dark, hot and humid. To keep myself occupied, I played 22 holes of golf and swam a kilometer yesterday and then swam another today.

At home, it's the second round of mechado and binagoongan, but one hardly cares when you get home from the office past ten. And anyway afterwards, there's this blog to keep me occupied!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Why We Should Scrutinize Our Meralco Bills

I've often been amazed by our electric bill, which makes me feel like I might have an entire barangay surreptitiously connected to my meter or something. Last summer, for instance, T and the kids were all in the U.S. for a month. So I decided to "minimize my carbon footprint." At the end of a month of April's heat and darkness, our bill was still over Php 30k.

Here's a classic story of a guy with a high electric bill who should have bothered to look into it, from Agence France Presse:

AMSTETTEN, Austria (AFP) — A former tenant in Austria's "house of horrors" ... could have pointed to the secret dungeon where a woman was held as a sex slave by her father for 24 years, in an interview published Friday.

Sepp Leitner told the daily Die Presse he had come eerily close to discovering the windowless prison a decade ago. Leitner lived for four years in a small flat on the ground floor immediately above the cellar in the 1990s. He said he could never understand why his electricity bill was so high, considering he was frequently absent and did not even have a washing machine.

Leitner only realised this month after the case emerged that he was paying the utility costs for the underground prison as well, which had an elaborate security system installed by owner Josef Fritzl, a former electrician.

"If I'd been a bit more persistent and not let it go until the mystery of the high electricity consumption had been resolved, perhaps we'd have found out about the dungeon earlier," Leitner said.

This month, Ty, Annika and Athens are all in Oz with their grandparents. Only T and I are home, but she leaves for a week of diving in Tubbataha on Sunday, while I hold the proverbial fort. With the lights and the aircon shut off...

Thursday, May 01, 2008

You Can HAVitALL!

It's not often that T's "SE" (social events) stuff can actually be fun, but it was when HAVitALL multivitamins paid for us plus six friends to have a scuba weekend at Dive Solana.

We ended up inviting u/w hockey players aka the Solana Six (although the rest of the group who didn't get to sign up called us the Solana Seniors). All our pix are on our Multiply sites, so you need to click here to see them.

Here's what Tessa had to say about the weekend in her column:

New challenges

The newest multivitamin in the market, HAVitALL, has been actively promoting their product by inviting friends to take on new challenges. The invitation was a marvel of cute packaging, encouraging me to take up a new activity, like surfing, karting or even pottery making. Although I already scuba dive, I chose this activity so that I could bring along my husband, Dennis, and several of his friends from underwater hockey.

Dive Solana was our chosen resort, because of their friendly service and homey accommodations. In between the dives, we visited with agency bigwig Ichay Bulaong, who was spending her weekend on a personal social responsibility project with her family and friends—to help paint an underwater mural on the fence of the San Teodoro Elementary School in Barangay Mabini. The project organizer, Sandy Hammet, noted that the mural painting was part of Project Utay Utay, the barangay’s environmental initiative.

It’s great to see how many Pinoys find different ways of helping their communities. For me and the underwater hockey group, it was a great way to spend our HAVitALL weekend. Indeed, good deeds are cleansing for the soul!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Cross-posting from Multiply to Blogger to Facebook...

Amazing. FB has an app called My Blogs, which imports postings from any blog URL. So I can write this in Multiply, which would then cross-post to Blogger and finally be grabbed by FB.

What's all that about? Why have so many ways for Google Ads to be displayed? It's really amazing how Google's hegemony has completely changed the world.

For me, the best thing about FB has been Scrabulous. The other apps don't really hold my attention, although Text Twirl is promising.

Multiply on the other hand, is good for posting pix. It's photo loader is so much better than sites like Kodak Gallery. So I think I'm gonna be loading more pix on Multiply than the latter.

The other thing I like about Multiply is the polling thing. This way, I can see that 3 people read one of my posts and bothered to vote. Ha, ha.

As for Blogger, it's claim to fame is that it is still a better blog template than Multiply or any other site I've visited. Plus, since I've been blogging on that since 2004, it has all my content in its archives already. I also like the Preview function, which allows me to see if a photo is properly placed on the site or not.

With all this digital dallying, it's a wonder I find any time to go to the beach and hang out with the kids...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Whatever happened to March?

I blinked. And March was gone.

How funny that life can suddenly speed up and just like that, the blog gets de-prioritized. I guess Holy Week took up more time than its actual 7 days.

This image is my favorite from March. Tyrone and Annika walking on the beach in Surfers Paradise, on our way to body surf. We spent 11 beautiful days in Oz - great bonding time with T and the kids.

The pix are all here. Multiply has the best photo uploading software, so now I am uploading photos there rather than Kodak Gallery.

I'll post more about Oz when I have time this weekend...

Friday, February 22, 2008

Annika's 10th Birthday

Annika's Birthday Party last January 19 was a dance party. Dance obviously is not one of my passions, so I'll quote from Tessa's Inquirer column of Sunday, February 24, to describe it:

"The freedom of expression in dance is liberating. I’m so hooked on the series, “So You Think You Can Dance.” In fact, for my eldest daughter Annika’s tenth birthday party, we chose a dance theme. As she enters her pre-teen years, Annika and I have started enjoying more girly activities together.

As with any party, preparations start with the invitation itself. Talented graphics couple Norman and Mye Cruz of Adworks (tel. 688-0085 or e-mail artistically creates both the invitations and the giveaways; always perfectly done despite the limited time I give them. This creative duo does everything from wedding invitations, baptisms, birthdays and debuts. For an artistic twist to your own invitations, check out Adworks and have a really personalized and wonderful memento made.

Once the invitations and giveaways are settled, my next appointment is at Cupcakes by Sonja (tel. 856-0308 or e-mail at in Serendra. For two birthdays in a row, Sonja Ocampo has made Annika’s cake along with a smaller version for Athena. And so all the kids get a bite of the delicious cake, there are matching cupcakes for all to enjoy.

And what’s a dance party without dancers! Dance sport champion Ednah Ledesma, one of the world’s best ballroom dancers, was our very special performer. Ednah had training in almost all dance varieties from ballet, jazz and hip-hop, but not ballroom, until entering the sport in 1997. Her performance was graciously captivating.

To date, Ednah has won over 5 major titles, including the championship in the prestigious Senior Latin Division of the Blackpool Competition in 2005. To those in the know, this is considered the Holy Grail of Dance Sports, held annually in England.

At the Ginajane Grey Dance Show last year, Ednah did a Latin Tango number with her partner Cecil Go. In her own show last month at the Music Museum, she showed off her skills accompanied by other dance sport champions. Entitled “Adventures of Dancing with The Champions 2,” the show’s theme was Hollywood Silver Screen musical scores. The show featured celebrity guest performer Regine Tolentino reprising the role of Catherine Zeta Jones in Chicago.

After watching the highly entertaining show, I congratulated my Assumptionista friend and Dance Sport Champion Anna Marie Periquet for her action-packed samba with heart-stopping stunts, performed to the theme of Mission Impossible. She was so kind to reprise her act for Annika’s party at Bykes CafĂ©, along with Ednah’s Catwoman number and a special Cheetah Girls dance by Margie dela Rama.

To those who want to venture into the exciting world of dance, Ednah gives lessons at Studio 116 at 116 Building, V.A. Rufino Street, Legaspi Village, Makati City (tel. 813-1549 or 0917-628-2477). I will be taking lessons soon, but honestly, I am just excited to try on a Catwoman costume and other outfits.

Adding to the high-energy at Annika’s party was the break dancing of the hip-hop group, All-Stars. These international champions can spin on their heads, balance with one hand and defy gravity all together!

The girls at the party were also interested in Nail Art, a digital airbrush painting by Creative Party & Balloon Design. All girly parties should get this feature. Call Cory Marquez at 0917-624-2679 or e-mail to ask about her other party activities."

I sure wish Annika would take up underwater hockey. Then I'd have more to write about!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Feng Shui Sudden Death

The quick news: 3rd place for the Metal Team.

We had one more game left in the round robin; unfortunately we lost a squeaker to the Fire Team 2-1. When the standings were done, Air and Earth played for the Championship, with 3-1 win-loss records. Fire and Metal had 2-2 records and played off for third.

Our medal match turned out to be really exciting. Fire scored in the first half and we were unable to match until the closing seconds of the second half. With 10 seconds left, we managed a goal. On to sudden death OT and in the ensuing play, we stayed down long enough to find Center Forward Cesar free, and he scored the winning goal.

All in all, a good tourney!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Our Feng Shui Hockey Tournament

I can't believe it. The "old men of hockey" are both on the team that's leading the tournament.

We started our Feng Shui Underwater Hockey Tournament last night at the rejuvenated, crystal-clear Army Pool. I was on the Metal Team, together with Boying Santos-Viola, a fellow diver from the echoes of the U.P. Divers past in the late '70's. I'd known that Boying and I were some of the last remaining dinosaurs still playing but I hadn't been in a pool with him for at least a decade.

We also had stronger and younger players, of course, but when I was looking at the team line ups, I couldn't help smiling that the two of us "olds" had somehow been put on the same team.

The five teams are playing a round-robin over two nights, and we just happened to play 3 games last night. In the first game, we beat Water 5-1. That got the adrenalin flowing and we managed to squeak out a nailbiting 1-0 over the Air team in the second game.

Perhaps age or conditioning was starting to show, as we lost the third 2-3 against a fired up Earth team.

So after the first night of games, Metal leads the tourney with 4 points (2 points per win) and 8 goals, followed closely by Air with 4 points and 7 goals. Earth and Fire have 2 points a piece, although the former has the goal differential lead. Water has a way to go, what with its 0-2 record for no points.

Let's see if we can hang on for victory tomorrow night!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Another Day, Another Cover

It's amazing to me that Athena is not yet three and can hardly speak a complete sentence, and yet, this is the fourth time she will be on the cover of a magazine. She must truly be lucky!

Here are the other three:

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

From the Mouths of Babes

Children, it is said, cannot lie. T and I got a huge kick out of Annika's English test, which we just got last night.

In Section B, the test asks her to write a sentence for the preposition "after."

Her answer: My Mom always comes home one hour after the time she said [she would].

T and I could only tell Annika, that's so true!

Being the wanna-be editor that I am, of course I also went through the test and cringed at the grammatically challenged portions (like the rule redundancy "Follow grammar, spelling, capitalization and punctuation rules in spelling.")

My favorite "gotcha" in this test though has to be:

6. The Titanic sank because it sailed towards an enormous iceberg.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

If it worked for the Golden Arches...

It was Saturday, January 19, Annika's 10th birthday, and she was working hard on a drawing. She said she had just gotten an idea - that Shakey's pizza parlors should have roofs shaped like giant pizzas.

I said if she wrote a short note to her grandma Marixi, then I would send the note onwards.

I kinda liked the drawing though, so I scanned it first. The details are amazing. There's a parking lot, with just one car slot empty. There's even a drive thru, and the car going through has a doggie in the window.

Annika is a smart one.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Like a Mexican Jumping Bean

What Athena likes to do these days is jump. She's forever hopping around, whether on the floor, on the bed, or even from table to sofa, as she does here on the beach last New Year's Eve.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Pop Psych

Here's the latest Pop Psych stuff on the web. How much is really true?

What Dennis Valdes Means

You are balanced, orderly, and organized. You like your ducks in a row.
You are powerful and competent, especially in the workplace.
People can see you as stubborn and headstrong. You definitely have a dominant personality.

You are friendly, charming, and warm. You get along with almost everyone.
You work hard not to rock the boat. Your easy going attitude brings people together.
At times, you can be a little flaky and irresponsible. But for the important things, you pull it together.

You are very intuitive and wise. You understand the world better than most people.
You also have a very active imagination. You often get carried away with your thoughts.
You are prone to a little paranoia and jealousy. You sometimes go overboard in interpreting signals.

You tend to be pretty tightly wound. It's easy to get you excited... which can be a good or bad thing.
You have a lot of enthusiasm, but it fades rather quickly. You don't stick with any one thing for very long.
You have the drive to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. Your biggest problem is making sure you finish the projects you start.

You are the total package - suave, sexy, smart, and strong.
You have the whole world under your spell, and you can influence almost everyone you know.
You don't always resist your urges to crush the weak. Just remember, they don't have as much going for them as you do.

You are very hyper. You never slow down, even when it's killing you.
You're the type of person who can be a workaholic during the day... and still have the energy to party all night.
Your energy is definitely a magnet for those around you. People are addicted to your vibe.

You are usually the best at everything ... you strive for perfection.
You are confident, authoritative, and aggressive.
You have the classic "Type A" personality.

You are relaxed, chill, and very likely to go with the flow.
You are light hearted and accepting. You don't get worked up easily.
Well adjusted and incredibly happy, many people wonder what your secret to life is.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Coming Soon ... the 3rd Anniversary

I was just working on my calendar for the month, when it struck me ... January 19 is coming soon.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Spot the Changes

At the Prieto New Year dinner, conversation turned to the Prieto book that's soon to be released. I was reminded of one of the photos from that book, of some of the Prieto cousins as pre-teens.

It's interesting to spot the changes vs. the picture from New Year's Day 2008, about 35 years difference. There are four people who are in both pictures - Jane, Karla, Nannette and Tessa.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Year in Bora

We welcomed 2008 in Boracay. New Year's in Bora is something we've never done before. In April 2007, I was able to book two rooms at newly opened Discovery Shores, thanks to C, the wife of the owner and also an old friend from high school. With that we decided that we would, for the first time in a decade, not spend New Year's Eve in Tagaytay.

We flew down a few days after Christmas and were greeted by perfect sunny weather. The sand in Boracay is perfect for sculpting. This little mermaid is something I've been carving from Boracay sands since the early 80's when I first visited the island. Annika was happy to be my little helper.

Tyrone's own sand castle had all the anime effects imaginable, as well as some perfectly formed sand cannonballs. All the kids loved the water and even Athena had her first chance to go wading at night.

This was also Athena's first trip to Boracay and she really enjoyed just swimming in the beach and in the pool, and also jumping around the resort - this video from when we were waiting for the New Year's Eve fireworks. That was a fantastic sight, as all the resorts along the 7-km. long beach put up their separate displays. The result was a barrage worthy of a war zone.

Among the hordes of people on the island, we somehow managed to meet other Prietos. So a dinner was planned and it turned out that each of the six branches of children of Lolo Bibilo and Lola Chucha Prieto were represented:

Bianca and Karla (2nd from R), representing Tita Peachie; Tessa, representing Poplex; Nanette, representing Tita Bettina; Jane, representing Tito Raffy; Anito, representing Tito Mauro; and Martin, representing Tito Jaime.

Now that's serendipity!

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