I'm just a small fish in a small corner of this big Laguna, and this is how I've been swimming it

31 August, 2013

Back in the Neighborhood

     Just realized reports said Janet Napoles lived in Binan, Laguna before.  So now she's simply going back to this province...

     So this is probably the photo our new helper saw on television last night.  No wonder she told me "but it is surrounded by tall grass"..after I told her that the fort is actually within the barangay sto. domingo also in our city; that this barangay is also full of residents, that the street to the entrance gate is actually surrounded by residents.  She had imagined it to be an isolated grassy area.


      There are those trees...very Silang-Sta. Rosa. 

    Maybe just my imagination, but sometime ago when I first heard the initials JLN,  I kept recalling seeing vehicles with JLN license plates. It must have been a regular sighting around here; I remember correcting myself, thinking JIL?  And yes, it is because I have a weird fascination or curiosity about license plate numbers.  This is rooted in my childhood when I would read license plate numbers on the drive to and from school. Plus of course sometimes they can be cryptic.  They can also get irritating, such as when they are composed of only the number 8 and happen to be luxurious; happen to be the latest model Hummer, Lexus or what not...happen to speed, weave, with blinking lights and a convoy of goons in lesser suv's.  Stand along the Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay highway on weekends and you will get to see all these.   Not that I do that. 

   Until recently I would notice all these license plates around here all the way to Tagaytay----plates with NBI, or PNP. And many times, these were the cars of Koreans.  How nice they are to celebrate with their police friends, with those commemorative license plates.

   Anyway, I don't have a point...except maybe when we see these luxury vehicles, with special plates and convoys that attract attention...I mean, really, many of them come from new wealth or wealth that is "ill-gotten". New wealth is not wrong.  I'm just saying, that it seems many of them are from government. Truly "old rich" do have more class and go about in simpler, unmarked vehicles.  Take the case of one of the handsome owners and developers of the "neighborhood"...you wouldn't know it but he used to get on his motorbike, stop for coffee in these parts...      


30 August, 2013

Welcome to the Neighborhood, Janet

   Sorry I cannot resist.

   Breaking news is, Janet Napoles is being transferred to Fort Sto. Domingo. Home of the Special Action Forces.  Here in wonderful Sta. Rosa.  The sweet corn mais vendors along Bgy. Sto Domingo's stretch of highway will make more than their usual weekend sales, I am certain of it.  Journalists get hungry too.

   It's the end of the month, and with good weather, there will surely be more commuters by tonight, and then back Sunday evening.  

   I hope they show aerial views of the place. Just curious.

   Here's a bit about the Fort... 


21 August, 2013

video for Green Lung Gone

Green Lung Gone

     In the half a year I spent traveling to and from Kuala Lumpur some eight years ago, I heard the term "green lungs" often.  KL's valley-location makes it vulnerable to polluted air hovering over it...and it seemed news features frequently reminded Malaysians of the importance of their "green lungs"--areas lush with trees and plants located in the city center and the surrounding suburbs.

   Back to my own reality from the KL stay, I grew increasingly obssessed with the pocket of green behind our rented apartment.  It was in Guadalupe Viejo, Makati City. Years before I had tried to put an end to the burning of leaves that happened weekly in the garden directly behind us.  I phoned the seminary it belonged to, I reported the situation directly to the MMDA (Metro Manila Development Authority) chairman, whose headquarters, ironically, were just across the compound, with EDSA between them.  I sent them an information booklet from the Mother Earth foundation to provide alternatives to the burning.  I began with friendly phone calls, and ended with angry pleas.    For a while, something happened, one of those efforts worked.

   Just perhaps two years before we moved out, I somehow found an ad selling the huge property next to the seminary.  I studied the ad and with the help of Google Earth, found that the property was actually the only existing green space of that size in the area.  It even had a small body of water.  It was most likely the habitat for all the creatures I observed.  I can't tell you how I wished I was a billionaire with money to spare for that tract of land.  I remember making a note to try and enter the skyscraper next to it to view the land from the air.  Obssessive, excessive, right.  It must have been the lack of oxygen.  I even played around with shooting wildlife---with cameras.


   Recently news also featured the squirrels in Dasmarinas and Forbes Villages in Makati, as well as birds that have been seen in such urban settings.  So it's not as if the wildlife is gone.  

   For that place, with excess funds, I wanted a sort of learning destination. I envisioned an urban garden-museum-school-whatever. A fantasy, really. I also just wanted those creatures to still have their home.  I also tried learning more about that area's past.  Were there residents along the banks, could we dig and find artifacts...the church at Guadalupe is supposed to have had steps leading all the way to the Pasig. What did that hill look like long ago? 

   Now I again find something about that property.  A condominium tower is being built (or is it finished) on it.  It was inevitable...sayang. Who am I to say this though, I'm no urban planner, no ecosystem expert.  

   This is a sentimental post for me.  I know it can sound insane.  I guess it's the lack of sunshine, the vitamin D deficiency...the gloom and sadness of the flooding and too much rain.


20 August, 2013

Fishing in Santa Rosa

     Just learned from a certified life saver that they drove towards Santa Rosa yesterday to check the road situation. Their chapter (from Silang) was not called to help this time. Apparently they did some rescuing in Marikina during Ondoy.  When she texted "GOD HELP THEM", I thought, oh dear...poor Santa Rosa...what happened.  I have not really seen pictures of the place. In the news there was video footage of Binan's floods, a clip of Binan's mayor doing inspections.  All I could imagine was perhaps news teams had difficulty even reaching Santa Rosa.

    My concern was calmed after life saver friend replied that what they saw was people happily fishing on the streets. That's the Filipino for you. Thank goodness (sometimes) for this attitude.  (An aside, this calls to mind what I found in my files recently...an essay I wrote for the university paper--that's 20+ years ago--about the Filipino's smiles in times of trouble).

    Unfortunately, I do not have any interesting photos to post with this post.  In my younger, childless years, I would have gone out during the lull to take photos.  In our former location in Makati, I did take photos of the flooding outside our home, similar to what this friend-i've-never-met-except-in-the-santa rosa-blogosphere has posted:


     Dear retiree friend, I was shocked too to see your photos.  I have not seen pics of Santa Rosa these past two days. Well, I have not actually searched online.  I did think of you all day yesterday, knowing you are in the bayan area. Shocked, yet relieved to see you are okay. Stay safe.
P.S. I am not a fan of Wagner; but the description coupled with "rain rage" is so apt, in my humble opinion, and would now like to put some of that music on.

   Now back to fishing in Santa Rosa streets...I wonder what the catch is.  I would like to know HOW they're catching the fish.  Mudfish, maybe.  How are the koi in Nuvali?  I've coincidentally sent my husband to shop for groceries, telling him to ignore the fresh seafood section, as prices are surely up owing to the constant rains.

19 August, 2013

Santa Rosa, Laguna state of calamity

     I've often said we are in a part of Santa Rosa that is largely unaffected by flooding from rains. We are higher and away from the Laguna de Bay. 

     As I type I am listening to the Mayor Arlene Arcillas speaking on the news about 15 of 18 barangays being submerged. It rained continuously since yesterday.  She says the town proper is submerged. 

     Binan, Laguna is also flooded.

     There was a report of a flash flood in the Southwoods exit on the SLEX (Southern Luzon Expressway).

     Anyway, friends, time to put together goods for donation. The Mayor is saying companies like San Miguel and Asia Brewery who have factories in the city are providing assistance.

     Okay the broadcaster is asking her where exactly she is located. I am curious too. Where is she?  "In the car""...she says. Okay mayor, where exactly is your car now?  Just wondering.

17 August, 2013

Annyeong Friday (refer to post in 2012)!

     Speaking of Koreans in Laguna...
a surprise upon my return home.  Another neighbor (on a another street), a handsome couple, came by with this 'bento' box.  Yum!

     It was their young daughter's birthday, they said, and they had prepared some lunch. They wanted us to have this set.  The cookies came in a cute loot bag.

     This handsome couple have been here less than a year. They are quite young, modern, and are expecting a second child very very soon.  We have not actually spent much time together, our daughters having played just a few times.  The woman's own mother has been in and out from Korea, and she is actually who brought us all together. All without speaking English. Play is its own language, and serves to forge links, after all.  And so does an exchange of food and treats!   Maraming Salamat neighbors!

Brazil in Binan

    Two years ago I  blogged about a palo china carpentry shop in Bgy. Platero, Binan, Laguna.  
 Yesterday I went on another shopping errand and didn't realize until a parade began that I was standing across that palo china shop.  This is right at the border of Binan and Tagapo Sta Rosa.

    As I arrived there were men, well not really men, you know, bodies painted in glittery gold, silver, yellow...large peacock, golden, auras attached to their behinds and stretching up and  out.  Carnival in Rio style, you can imagine.  They were sitting in front of the Banahaw Heals Spa, waiting.  They were not very many, just around a dozen or so, so I was confident I would not be caught in a jam.

    Anyway, as the band played, the shopkeeper told me it was actually the barangays fiesta day.  So this was a "Karakol"...the procession started and at first I saw children and adults at the lead, holding small Sto. Nino statues, waving them a la Cebu Sinulog.

     It was cheerful all around, as having the costumed ones is often a guaranteed fun and happy time.  The drum beats and music were also moving...but I asked aloud "why Gangnam style" in the beginning.

        Again, sorry to comment on my religion's practices...but really, here again is a sort of "young" and "animistic, childish" ritual of faith...I myself have a Sto. Nino image and am a devotee, but I don't get this kind of Rio-type parade coupled with outfitting the Christ-child's image in equally sparkly costumes and dancing around with it.  Well, just plain fun, I guess, and especially important for children, I suppose.  Other cultures have their seemingly quirky rituals. To each his own.  I like ati-atihan anyway.  For as long as the beat is our own...not Gangnam. Then again, somewhat apt considering the large Korean population in these parts!  

10 August, 2013

Vesper Service

     I am Catholic.  I am in Laguna.  I attended a worship service at the Philippine International Church of the Seventh Day Adventists in Silang, Cavite.  It was peaceful.  Very meditative, and especially as it was evening, like a long lullaby.  Musical, as many seem to know. They simply..sing...and it was new to me to hear, rather than applause at the end, a somber, low "Amen" by the congregation after each song.  

     The Adventists have what is called a 777 prayer at 7 pm, and we paused for it outside the church before the service.  The voice leading the prayer over the PA system was soothing. It was good meditation.  It was easy to be "in the presence of God" with a background of various creatures sounds. Crickets...unlike the usual cricket noises.  Forest sounds.

     This evening's service was led by their Handbell Choir.  There were also piano, strings and wind instruments.  I have been invited to attend service once in a while, to listen to the music hosts. Some days there is the organ, some a choral group.  

      It was not my plan to be publicizing my personal thoughts especially about my religion.  It's just that this experience comes after some disappointment over my own church's having changed the melodies of standard mass songs again.  I do not like the new melodies at all.  I cannot seem to learn them. Never caught on with the new Ama Namin melodies. I miss the old, original ones.  I mean, Manoling Francisco, SJ's melodies were lovely.  Why fix what to me is not broke.
We can assume why they have to change melodies...an effort to liven things up? To ''make new''?  Sad...because my own young child had just started enjoying what many young church-going children I know enjoy...the "Hossana" with all the sss-es in the song.  

      Anyway, I regret not having brought a proper video recorder for this one.  Even the audio does not capture the gentle tinkling of the bells. They come out rather shrill in parts. But here they are, the AUP Handbell choir, composed of Filipinos and students of other nationalities: