Saturday, September 13, 2014

TSAA's Family Day

Two Fridays ago, September 5, The School for Academics and Arts (TSAA) held its first Family Day this school year. Venue was the Makati Coliseum, not far from the school in Davila St., Makati City. I was not there as I attended a round table discussion by Citizen Watch at UP Diliman.

My wife and our younger daughter, Bien Mary, accompanied Elle Marie (Grade 3) at the event. The grade schoolers showing their Filipiniana dance number. They also performed a musical number using  bamboos and other local materials.

The kinder schoolers showing their talent too.

Co-parent Mike Luis, lead singer of a famous local band, Free Style, singing a song. His son joined him.

The games, funny.

Another game. The kids and parents were having a great time.

Fathers and their kids. I really miss that...

Other parents. Gilbert Maramara (rightmost) and Dean Gioia (beside him) are my usual chatmates whenever we see each  other at the school picking up our kids. And Noel Sandicon too, not in this photo.

Elle Marie, Bien Mary, Elle's two classmates.

All photos above from Dean, Dee Oh and my wife's facebook pics.
Good job TSAA. I honestly miss that event.

* See also, The School of Academics and Arts, July 07, 2014

Uly Veloso's Sculpture

Last July 26, 2014, I attended an arts exhibit -- paintings, sculpture, artistic lights -- in a building at the FTI Complex in Taguig, Metro Manila. A good  friend since the early 90s, Uly Veloso, was one of the exhibitors, showing his recent metal sculptures.

Uly's spacecrafts. Space shuttle Discovery in the front, two "Tora Tora" (WW2 Jap war planes) at the back. Stainless steel on granite base. Discovery is 36 x 86 x 36 cm while Tora Tora is 36x 74 x 36 cm. 

He is using this metal that cannot be bent, so hard, yet there are curves in these planes. How did he do it? A different  kind of delicate, complicated and time-consuming welding process so that the various pieces are attached to other pieces as if they were one piece of metal. Fantastic.

From a spacecraft and planes to the outer space. Constellation Ursa Major or the "Big Dipper". Stainless steel on granite base with glass beads. Again, these are delicately welded and the rounded joints in the middle of those short metal sticks represent the huge stars or formation of stars in the galaxy.

Constellation Leo, Stainless steel on granite base with glass beads. This granite is hard and will not easily break.

Constellation Aries. I took this photo of the sculpture in between  those two nice paintings on the wall.

Back to Earth. Uly's trees.

This one is cool. "Infinite narratives from a Bonfire". Ala UP bonfire after UP Men's basketball team won one game after two years of straight losses at the UAAP. 

44 x 30 x 27 cm.

painted stainless steel 

Below, the artist on the left, and our common friend from UP, Jun Realica in the middle.

Uly and our friend in Congress Mountaineers, Kristin Paredes.

We are the gliding airplanes :-)

Not Uly's work, another artist's work. I like them, cool.

Lots of food and beer that afternoon. Thanks again Uly for that invite. My art-barbarian mind is imbibing the beauty of arts through friends and my daughters.

Those pieces are for sale. I think many of them are still available. If interested, the artist can be reached at

See also stories here that include Uly:

Mt. Pinatubo, 1994 and 2006, March 08, 2006

Mt. Pinatubo Climb, December 1994, January 24, 2014

Gen. Nakar, Quezon, Mountaineers' Outing, April 30, 2014

Veloso Ancestral House, Baguio City, June 03,  2014

Monday, August 25, 2014

Philippine Construction Boom

I shared this story from Quartz (posted August 21, 2014) in my facebook wall a few days ago with a note, "Magagalit ang mga anti-government groups dito. They will not believe this news." Today it has 23 shares, wow.  This means that many people like to hear positive news too, not just the negatives.

SM North Edsa in Quezon City is the 3rd biggest mall in the world I think. This SM Seaside Mall in Cebu will be the 4th largest, to be opened next year. A friend who saw it says it is "massive". From the other photos I saw, there are at least seven cranes working simultaneously. 

Photos below I got from the Philippine Construction Boom facebook page.

Hundreds of construction workers now have jobs. Once it's done, thousands of sales people, small and medium entrepreneurs (some jobs outsourced with micro entreps), delivery people, etc. will have continuing jobs.

Sprawling urbanization.

changing skyline of makati. The Circuit. Former Sta. Ana racetrack.

NAIA terminal 3 and Makati skyline.

It seems CDO and Davao cities in Mindanao are business-friendly and attracting good investments too.

The Iloilo Convention Center is projected to be finished by March next year. The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit next year will be held there.

From Bloomberg,

The old airport, replaced by a new one in 2007, is a construction site, where developer Megaworld Corp. is building a 35 billion-peso ($800 million) business park with a Marriott hotel and condos sporting names like One Madison Place and Lafayette Park Square.

A mile down the road, the planned hospital, shops, hotel and homes of Ayala Land Inc.’s Atria Park District may create 10,000 jobs on former salt pans. For Ilonggos and Ilonggas, as the city’s residents are known, the growth brings new opportunities.

My clubmate in Rotary, Norlan, has a medium size construction business. He once told me that they are sometimes losing their workers to the big construction firms. Naiipit nga daw sila, some of their workers will resign and go to the big firms with bigger salary. So they are obliged to pay bigger pay too

From Manila Standard, QC to host half km-high tower, June 27, 2014. 612 meters high, 200 floors, to rise in QC, wow.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Loss and Grief: A Friend's Deep Sorrow on Losing His Son

A friend, Prof. Rene Azurin, faculty member of the UP College of Business Administration, lost his son, Mikah due to sickness, last April. He has written several articles about Mikah. This is his latest article, posted in BusinessWorld today.

Being a father myself, I can relate to Rene's deep sorrow. Reposting it here, part of the travels and journeys of being a parent. Condolence once more, Rene....

HOW DOES one deal with losing a son? The terrible truth is, there is no way of “dealing” with such a soul-shrivelling tragedy. The grief is so overpowering that the best one can hope for is to snatch occasional glimpses of the world beyond the enveloping gloom so that one can at least function. Some days you can do this; most days you can’t.

The writer Joan Didion once wrote, “Grief, when it comes, is nothing we expect it to be.” That’s not actually true. Every parent has doubtless imagined -- in fearful, unguarded moments -- the horror of losing a beloved child. Every parent has an idea of what it might be like. It’s just that no parent can possibly be prepared for the emotional nuclear bomb that goes off should the unthinkable ever come to pass. No parent can be prepared for the silent scream that reverberates unendingly in your mind.

One of the things this does to us is blast away the belief all we parents share that, amid all of life’s uncertainties, we can be certain of at least one thing: that we will die before our children and that they will live full lives after we’ve gone. In our minds, we will thus have seeded the future with better versions of ourselves. We might hope that our children will perpetuate a few memories of us and at least some of the values we might have lived by. Perhaps, even, on certain cold December evenings, they might entertain their own children with stories of how their grandparents were silly or crazy or (maybe once in a while) curiously wise. Somehow, that gives us a sense of immortality.

I really do not know how to deal with losing my son Mikah. A card from a sympathetic friend contains the line, “If my passing has left a void / Fill it now with remembered joy.” Indeed, Mikah’s passing has left a dark, gaping void. So, though I cannot remember without intense pain, I do fill my days with rememberings because it is all I am able to do. Deep in my subconscious, I suspect, is the desperate hope that, if only the pain is great enough, he might come back.

I remember of course some “highlights” with great pride -- like, for example, Mikah taking his school all the way through to the televised finals of the National Science Contest (for sixth-graders) or his being awarded an Oblation Scholarship by the University of the Philippines for obtaining the highest scores in the UPCAT (UP College Admission Test) or his graduating at Diliman with a degree in Applied Physics or his playing at events like the Fete de la Musique with his bands and at gigs where they’d launch their own CD albums.

Mostly, however, I remember clutching him to my chest when he was little and feeling his heart beat as he fell asleep, picking him up from school and holding his small hand in mine as we walked along school pathways to the car, having conversations with him (about anything) at the dinner table. I remember riding with Mikah in his car and listening to him point out the nuances of the music that was playing on the radio (“Count five beats, not four, Dad”), hearing him pound his drums and practice with his metal band at home as he started out on his fascinating musical journey, observing him frown at his computer as he worked out the logic on a complex piece of programming code. And, mostly, I remember the feeling of hugging him while saying, “See you later, Mikah,” every time he would walk out of our door.

Mikah gave us -- his mother Carmela, his sister Sarah, and me -- tremendous joy. We felt privileged to know from up close his rare combination of genius mind and compassionate heart. He seemed born with knowledge beyond his years. He was talking at eight months. As he grew, he read everything he could lay his hands on, processing stuff from science books to history tracts to fantasy novels into perceptive insights that filled his fabulous brain. Along the way, he acted as counsellor to his friends, financially helped less fortunate cousins, pampered his many dogs, and took in neglected rabbits.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Our Dog Gives her Milk to Kittens

We see photos of dogs and cats playing or sleeping together, not fighting as often stereotyped. See here, Dogs, Cats and Harmony. Well, one of our dogs in the farm caretaker's house whose puppies we separated from her to be the new guard dogs in the farm, would allow kittens to get milk from her.

Her name is "Jenny white" or Elle Marie would call her as "Requel" when the dog was still young. Jenny white has another sibling, color black, we called her "Jenny black", who was guarding the farm. Jenny black died of a particular disease several months ago.

Danny, our part time caretaker, got two kittens, newly separated from their mother and are still sucking milk. Jenny white would give them her milk.

The two puppies stayed in our house in Makati for about two months. Their mother, Jenny, was a hunter dog in the farm.  When she was alive, she would hunt and catch different birds, monitor lizards ("bayawak"), wild turtles in the creek, small snakes.

The two puppies were getting noisy in our house, I brought them to the farm. Danny got the white, Nong Endring got the black.

When the puppies were just about 5-6 weeks old, I brought them from the farm to our house in Makati. Elle  Marie was very happy with her new puppies. Photos taken May 02, 2013. 

Until now, Elle would ask me to give her new puppies. I am hesitant because we did not have any house helper for the past nine months. There's a new helper but may not stay long too.

I explain to Elle that the puppies might get dirty and the house will also get dirty, if there is no one to clean them regularly.

Anyway, Jenny white is a kind and gentle pet to share her milk even to cats. 

Tour de France 2014

Tour de France (TDF) is the most famous cycling race in the planet. It also has the most number of live audience, could be 15 million or more, people lining up on the roads to watch the riders and their team vehicles, organizers' and media vehicles.

TDF 2014 first three stages were held in UK. Part of Stage 1 last Saturday. This is from BBC's Tour de France 2014: The "grandest" of Grand Departs.

I was active in cycling from 1992 to around 1998. In the mid 90s, I was riding about 100 kms. a week for two years or more. Just a recreational rider, not a competitive cyclist.

Britain's royalty watched the opening stage on the road.

I was a member of the Neopolitan Cycling Club in Fairview, Quezon City. Many of my cyclist friends are still there.

The BBC report said about 2.5 million people watched Stage 1 alone. Even in rural parts of Britain, there were many people.

During the heydays of Marlboro Tour in the 90s, me and some friends would travel to Baguio City to watch the punishing stage in that big mountain city, elevation about 4,500 ft above sea level.

Part of the crowd in Stage 2, York to Sheffield. These photos from the TDF facebook page.

We would also bike from Fairview to Tagaytay and back (about 160 kms.) in the 90s. And join the "Century Ride" from UP Diliman to UP Los Banos via Rizal towns and eastern side of Laguna.

Still part of the crowd of Stage 2 in Britain.

The beauty of being a stage winner. Vincenzo Nibali. Look at the crowd at the finish line.

Part of the crowd yesterday, Stage 3, Cambridge to London.

The Brits are hooked on the tour.

TDF and road cycling is the only sport in the planet where atheletes pass by remote rural areas...

To big cities, on the same race, or same day. Big Ben in London.

I wish to see TDF live someday, in my lifetime.

Monday, July 07, 2014

The School of Academics and Arts

Our elder daughter, Elle Marie, changed school this year. From St. Scholastica in Manila for two years, me and my wife transferred her to The School for Academics and Arts in Makati. Near to our place, Elle hardly comes late. About 5 minutes by car from the house, or just one jeepney ride.

The school offers nursery, kinder 1 and 2, and Grade school 1-3 classe. It's only their 2nd year this year, and 1st year in their new location at Davila St., Barangay Tejeros, Makati. Elle is in Grade 3.

Last Saturday, the first Parents-Teachers Association (PTA) meeting was held. Good attendance; parents of nursery to grade school students came. All the teachers were there too.

TSAA School Directress Cherry Fernandez explained the various school policies, like class schedules for nursery, kinder and grade school, why incorporate arts with academics in various subjects, why no traditional exams and grading based on exam results, and so on.

Cherry was a friend way back in UP Diliman in the mid-80s. She's two or three years younger than me in UP, was a Political Science major but involved in the UP Repertory and was active in theater and the arts. So it is no wonder why she came to this school.

I have not seen her actually since she left UP in 1987 and went back to her beloved city in Davao. I saw her only last May -- after 27 years! -- when we decided that Elle will transfer to TSAA.

Parents were all ears listening to this cheerful, articulate and passionate lady.

Since it was the first PTA meeting, an election of officers was held. Famous actress and tv personality Giselle was unanimously voted as President.

School owner Audie noted that last year, all the PTA officers were women and suggested that men should be involved as well as being a PTA officer is a good experience. A cue for me to nominate the man seated in front of me, Dean, for Vice President. Then I signed a mother behind me to close the nomination, she did. 

Dean "revenged" and while I briefly walked away, he nominated me as Secretary. I took it as a "balance of terror/harassment" so I was shy to object, and as usual, no one else was nominated.

And more men were nominated and voted unanimously. Five of nine officers including representatives from nursery to kinder and grade school were men. In this photo, Dean to my left.

There was a discussion whether students should wear uniform or not. In theory, diversity and creativity are opposed to uniformity. Thus, having a uniform somehow contradicts the progressive, critical thinking discipline that the school intends to inculcate. That's one side of the coin.

The other side, there is a need for a uniform to show an identity, a brand, much like a trademark or logo of successful and known companies. A sense of belongingness and uniqueness. like "This is the TSAA brand and color, I belong here." Nice to hear. Thus, the need to have a uniform was supported unanimously.

But the earlier side of the coin also has a point. So a compromise was made -- three days a week with uniform, two days, diversity and dress spontaneity would rule. Cool compromise and everyone in the room supported it.

Below, parents of grade schoolers plus their teachers. Elle sat on my wife's lap, left side. Her classmate, Happy, is held by PTA President Giselle.

The school prepared really great and plentiful food. If I knew that such yummy food would be served, I would have not taken breakfast and dinner the previous day. Sayang yong space na occupy ng breakfast and dinner the night before eh. hehehe.

Thanks TSAA administrators and teachers. Thanks fellow parents, for that wonderful and warm meeting and fellowships.

See also:
Elle Marie in Negros Occ., August 20, 2012

Elle Marie Oplas, Part 2, May 28, 2013

Elle and Bien at Camp John Hay, Baguio City, June 29, 2014