Sunday, November 15, 2015

My young lady, Elle Marie

Elle Marie turned 9 years old last month. Just the sight of her getting bigger, taller, prettier gives me so much happiness. The perks of being a parent :-)

Here, Elle when she was in her Nursery class about six years ago.

Elle and her two puppies from the farm which stayed with us in Makati for about 3 months. After which, they have grown big and noisy, I brought them back to the farm. Elle protested but she realized the noise and mess of having two dogs in the house.

My wife enrolled Elle in a ballet class at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, it's a Saturday morning, one hour class. As usual, I was her driver. Below left, she and her dance classmates participated in one big play at the CCP, "Inamorata" I think. Short appearance by the girls in a big play by adult and mature dancers, but it was a nice exposure for them. This photo was about 4 years ago.

Elle's invite card on her 5th birthday celebration. She was in Kinder 1 then at the Early Achievers Learning Center (EALC) in Makati.

Aspiring model :-)

 At Lingayen beach, Pangasinan, few years ago.

During the TSAA Entrep Day last month. Elle enjoying her role as store keeper.

During their class dance number.
Elle would cry whenever I leave the house for a short foreign trip. Last month, I was leaving for only 1D/1N in Bangkok and she cried very hard, protesting that I should not leave them in the house.

Last night, when I left the house for a short trip to Kuala Lumpur early morning today, she again cried. Silent weep but huge tears in her eyes. She pulled my legs, or pull away my luggage, asked me to carry and hug her tight. It melts my heart. I love you my first child.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

TSAA Entrep Day, Part 2

After the dance show by different classes....

Cameras and cell phones out. Pictures with the Kinder 1 kids.

The bazaar begins. The kids assisted by their teachers and parents sell these food, drinks, some souvenir items. The Nursery classroom.

The Kinder 2 classroom. Bien, Miggy and Kyle holding their paper money, watching some souvenir items for sale. They were also selling kebab, pita pocket, brewed coffee.

The paper money that day. Parents, guardians, exchange their real money for these, which are used to buy items.

Grades 1-2 kids were selling cakes, brownies, salad, other items.

Grades 3-4 were selling cupcakes, pizza, others. Elle Marie watching the items, behind her is Teacher Hannie.

Mark and Joseph taking orders for pizza.

 The inflated tent with slide was a hit to the kids.

All photos above from Audie Gemora's fb album.

These 2 photos from K2 Teacher V's fb page.

Clockwise from the top: Teacher V, Jac, Miggy, Pollux and Bien. Kyle and Agatha have not arrived yet when this photo was taken.

Got this from Marco Garcia, dad of Miggy (in green). Kyle (in red) and Jac (in blue) looking serious :-) Nice shot p're.

Thanks again to TSAA for that wonderful morning of dances and entrepreneurial skills implanted with the kids.

See also:

TSAA's Family Day, September 13, 2014

Pidro Sing in Palawan

My family and I went to Puerto Princesa City (PPC), capital of Palawan island-province, last Friday. We were going to Astoria Palawan because we got a low, promo rate for 3D/2N stay, in an extended birthday gift for the two girls, Bien Mary and Elle Marie who turned 5 and 9 years old respectively, early this month.

We arrived evening that day and we stayed at Aquari Suites, not far from the airport. The next day, my friend from more than 3 decades ago in UP Diliman, Peter "Pidro" Sing, arrived from Manila and he offered to take us to launch, then have his driver bring us to Astoria later, about 61 kms. from PPC proper. Pidro has several businesses in the city.

Pidro brought us here, a famous restaurant in the city because of its location -- seafront, the walkway from this entrance to the dining hall is surrounded by huge and mature mangrove forest with their extensive root system.

This is my second visit to this resto. The first time, another friend from UP, JB Baylon also brought me and his other friends here, after our visit at Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corp. in the southern municipality of Bataraza.

Lots of nice food over-flowing in front of us. And lots of interesting conversation on what he's been doing recently, including the results of a self-financed survey of Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates this month.

 Pidro is an all-around guy with his hands spanning from corporate and political consultancy to running his own personal and family businesses to personal advocacies and civil society work of spreading personal financial education to many poor and middle class people. See my earlier discussion about this, Financial education and Pidro Sing.

Pidro likes to treat us, some of his lesser entrepreneurial buddies and former dormmates at Narra Residence Hall in UP Diliman in the early 80s, to an occasional and spontaneous buffet dinner. Either he would text one or two days ahead, or hours before. Below, in one of those spontaneous treat in 2009 (wow, 6 years ago). From left: me, Ding Aguila, Cliff Espinosa, Jim Naval, Sarge Colambo and Pidro. All former Batang Narra Kids.

From Badjao resto to Astoria Resort last Saturday, Pidro's driver, Dong, drove a Toyota pick up. Yesterday, from Astoria back to the City and the airport, with a side-trip at the Crocodile farm, Pidro sent this van. Dong posing with the van, at the Viet Ville where we had lunch before heading to the city.

The two girls enjoyed the van, sleeping in the trip as they have wide and long legroom. Thanks again Pidro for the VIP treatment. Tummies and memories still full of our Palawan trip.

See also:
Pan de Pidro, July 28, 2012
Palawan Tour, by Patty Soliman, October 19, 2012

Crowded Puerto Princesa Airport, Palawan, April 05, 2014 

CSOs and State 23, Financial education and Pidro Sing, October 27, 2015

TSAA Entrep Day, Part 1

Entrepreneurship is a skill, a virtue that cannot be possessed by anyone. It can be innate, or it can be taught, with lots of failures and heartaches in between, before one can finally succeed, or finally close shop. So teaching the skill at a young age is a good educational pursuit.

Last Friday, October 23, The School for Academics and Arts held its "Entrep Day" for its students from Nursery to Grades 3-4. It was also a dance and cultural show for the UN anniversary, so young students were in some international costumes and dance. Below, the Nursery students in Mexican/Latino attire and dance. Cute young kids.

The Kinder 1 students were in African/Safari attire, and juggled at a famous African dance. Another batch of cute kids.

Kinder 2 kids, in Indian-Arabic attire and dance. The costumes alone make these kids so adoring. Below, my daughter Bien Mary behind Kyle.

They are only six in the class, all present. From left: Miggy, Kyle, Agatha, Bien, Pollux. Hidden behind Bien is Zac.

The Grades 1-2 kids, in Filipiniana dance and costume. Lights were off except the spotlight, candles were lit, and they swayed. Nice contrast and moves.

They cannot fit in the stage, so the boys on the stage, the girls below. After the dance, and the lights were on again.

Before the dance. Such beautiful girls.

Finally, the Grades 3-4. In another Filipiniana dance and costume. The five girls. From left: Akisha, Elle Marie (Bien's older sister), Happy, Minday and Ysa.

And the two boys in their macho attire, Joseph and Mark.

A small class, but intimate and fun.

Thanks TSAA for another wonderful day. Thanks Teacher/Directress Cherry and all the teachers from Nursery to Grade school. It was a greeeaat treat for us parents.
Part 2 will be the bazaar and entrep scenes.
All photos above from Audie Gemora's fb album. Thanks Audie.

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

TSAA's Family Day, September 13, 2014

Monday, October 26, 2015

Thailand's bright nights

When I went to Bangkok last October 14-15 this year for a workshop-seminar, my plane landed at midnight. I saw the huge, wide, extensive well-lighted areas of Thailand, even hundreds of kms. away from Bangkok proper. Very very few dark areas. They must have cheap and stable power sources.

This photo I got from the web, that's in Bangkok already. Even outside Bangkok, there are just too many lights, they do not economize on energy as electricity prices I think are cheap and affordable.

Compared to Metro Manila at night, Bangkok and its suburbs are much much brighter.

Thailand heavily relies on natural gas, 68% of their total energy needs as of 2011. Other ASEAN countries that are heavily dependent on natural gas, a fossil fuel are: Singapore 78%, Malaysia 45%, Vietnam 44%. PH only 30% dependent on nat gas.

Suvarnabhumi International Airport and terminals near Bangkok is also very bright. It is not as big as the airports of Singapore or Hong Kong or Incheon-Seoul, but if compared with Manila/NAIA international airports (composed of four separate and non-contiguous local and international airports).

See also:
Thailand trip, part 1, June 10, 2008
Thailand trip, part 2, July 22, 2008

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Washington DC memories

The first time I went to Washington DC in the US was in May 2004. I was one of several International Fellows of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, then based in Fairfax, Virginia (now based in DC), and I attended several conferences in the US. First was the Mackinac Leadership Conference in Michigan, then the Heartland conference + Atlas Liberty Forum in Chicago, then meetings in DC and Virgina area. I stayed in the US for one month.

The second time I went to DC was in November 2009, also for another Atlas event and I was one of several panel speakers. Below, with Cindy Cirquitella of Atlas as panel moderator, Paulo Uebel from Brazil, and about three other speakers from Croatia, Nigeria, and Argentina I think. Thanks again to former Atlas VP, Jo Kwong, who would find funding for my travel scholarship.

I also attended a one-day discussion on several literatures about liberty. Below, Jo Kwong, in red dress, standing and introducing the activity.

Then I visited again the Americans for Tax Reforms (ATR) office. First time I saw their office was in 2004 and it was my first time to meet ATR President, Grover Norquist. Very articulate and intelligent free market leader. Below, with Grover's deputy, Chris Butler and a Russian lady scholar, Victoria Strokova, who authored the International Property Rights Index (IPRI) 2010 Report.

I also visited some buildings and structures, also the Smithsonian center.

I think this is the US Department of Agriculture.

I don't remember what  this building is, but it looked beautiful to me.

It was a freezing November for me; the locals would wear some not-so-thick jackets while I covered myself with a thick jacket even at daytime.

I hope to visit DC again soon.

See also:

Mayflower Renaissance Hotel, Washington DC -- I stayed there, Nov. 9-12, 2009;

Ronald Reagan National Airport, Arlington, Virginia -- I exited the US from this airport twice, in 2004 and 2009.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Mango tree for sale; rice planting season

Huge, old mango tree for sale

We are selling this huge mango tree in the farm in Bugallon, Pangasinan. It should be at least 100 years old. It has been producing less and less fruits (if the fruits survive the annual pest, "kurikong manga"), some branches are dying or dead, they just break and fall down. Before other diseases will cause more internal rot inside this huge tree, we are selling it to furniture-makers.

How big in terms of diameter at breast height (dbh), I don't know, I did not bring a measurement device, but it would require about three men to hug the tree. Below, our farm caretakers, Nong Endring Paragas and his son, Danny.

There are many huge branches at the top, but some of them are already dead/rotting and some are dying, can no longer sustain even few leaves.

About 11 or 12 years ago, we also cut a huge, old and decaying mango tree in the farm. This is our dinning table in the house made from that mango tree. About 2 inches thick.

The wooden desk made from some big branches of that tree. If there are buyers interested for that lone mango tree, please email me at Thanks.

Rice planting season

I visited the farm last Sunday, July 12. Here is the rice field in front of my treehouse, being tilled by our long time caretaker, Nong Endring Paragas. To save money, he and some rice farmers just spread the rice seeds randomly.

Advantage is that they save on the cost of labor planting. Disadvantages are (a) this requires more seeds, (b) grasses and weeds can grow simultaneously with the young rice plants, and (c) more difficult to remove weeds later that compete for soil nutrients and sunlight for the crops.

Below, this is outside the farm. Another rice field in front of the house of Nong Endring's son, Danny, who also helps in the farm. The women in the photo (with umbrellas) are uprooting the young rice, bundle them, to be transported to nearby rice fields for planting with equal spaces in between them.

Another side, just beside Danny's house. The south west monsoon (aka "Habagat") has resulted in nine days and nights of almost continuous rains in western Pangasinan-Zambales and nearby provinces.

Another set of rice fields, near our farm. Lots of water.

A mama carabao and her few months old kid. A few farmers still use farm animals to till the soil. This is non-costly of course but work is slow. One hand tractor can do work of perhaps 5 carabaos.

Above are among the sights that I enjoy whenever I visit the farm.

See also:
Vietnam rice terraces, April 03, 2013
Around My Treehouse, May 02, 2013 
Maya Bird as Rice Pest, May 05, 2014

Fields of gold, harvested, March 02, 2015