Saturday, September 29, 2012

Galerie Joaquin and the UPSEAA

My appreciation of painting and other artworks can be compared to the appreciation of an average grade schooler of calculus or advance algebra. Nahh, just kidding. I appreciate music, classic rock music especially. But painting, not much. Not only that they are generally expensive for me, my interest of them is generally passing.

But last September 18, 2012, I joined a number of fellow UP School of Economics (UPSE) alumni in trooping to Galeria Joaquin to see lots of beautiful and rather expensive works of art. The galerie is owned by Jack Teotico, a kind hearted and former President of the UPSE Alumni Association (UPSEAA).

It was actually a fund-raising activity by the UPSEAA. Prices of each art work were as is, no discount. But whatever profit margin by the galerie for the sales that night will all go to the UPSEAA fund as the association is helping our alma mater have a great 50th year anniversary in 2015 or just three years from now. There are grand plans for the school such putting up a new school building, expanding the scholarship fund, creating more professorial chairs, and so on.

That is why I said that Jack is a kind hearted entrepreneur and alumni of the school. Every year, there is a general alumni homecoming, sponsored by graduates 25 years ago. And every year, Jack would donate some art pieces to the school for bidding. Whatever amount to be raised will all go to the SEAA fund. Jack is definitely among the most gallant alumni of the school.

There are other rich alumni too, who gave substantial amount to the school, mainly to modernize each classroom. If you see the classrooms there, you will be impressed, they are word-class lecture rooms with high tech facilities -- all from donations of alumni. The taxpayers subsidy alloted for the school only goes for the maintenance (electricity, water, books, office supplies, etc.) as well as salaries of faculty and staff.

Me, I went there just to eat as I knew that Jack would prepare really yummy food for all guests, buyers or plain kibitzers. I was not disappointed as the food was really nice. But I was disappointed also because I thought that there would be some medium or high octane drinks, say 17 percent alcohol content red wine or even 5 percent serbesa, there was none. Disappointing Jack! :-)

There were lots of juices, soda and water.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Food of Penang, Malaysia

It's been four days since I left Penang, but I can still savor in my mind its delicious and often spicy food. Before I went there, a number of my friends were telling me that "food there is delicious", so I was curious to see it for myself. I was in Penang last September 7-9, 2012, for our seminar-workshop on "Promoting Markets in Healthcare" sponsored by EMHN-London and IDEAS-Malaysia.

Our hotel was the Red Rock Hotel, a modest one in the city. To its left is this complex of many small food stalls. I walked here around 7:30pm on Day 1 (September 7) and though we have a scheduled dinner at 8pm somewhere, I could not resist the temptation of tasting one noodle soups there, it was nice at 4 Ringgit.

That night, our local hosts, Wan Saiful Wan Jan and his staff at IDEAS, brought us to this Indian restaurant, Kapitan. I was intrigued by this long line of fried chicken, upper right. Hmmm, yummy.

Lower left, some of the different viands that we ordered. The prawns and those fried chicken were not included in this photo. Lower right, not in this resto, from a food stall somewhere, frog meat for sale, cool.

Around Kapitan restaurant is a district of many Indian shops -- clothes, music, bags, jewelries, etc. And not far from it are old mosques. Nice place.

On our second and last night in Penang after our workshop ended in the afternoon, Wan brought us to this famous Malaysian restaurant, "Cina Muslim Restaurant". This is several kilometers away from our hotel.

Haaa! Really yummy food -- chicken, vegetables, grouper, I'm still salivating until now. Lower right photo, that's durian desert, mmmmm.

I think Wan ordered 3 or 4 orders of grouper ("lapu-lapu" in the Philippines) and they were all wiped out by 14 hungry tummy :-)  Tea and another juice complemented our yummy dinner. I kidded Wan that I needed to walk at least 3 kilometers in order to hasten digestion of my food intake that night.

On our way back to the hotel, Wan toured us to Georgetown proper, lots of interesting places there. Then not contented yet, Wan brought us to another Indian restaurant, "Pelita" for some drinks, tea and black coffee (above, lower right), bread and desert. Another round of delicious food.

The food list, they are not expensive, and yet delicious and clean. I noticed that many food shops are open until midnight or even early morning even on a Sunday night. Many locals, I was told, prefer to eat outside than cook at home (do groceries frequently, wash the dishes, etc.), as it is not time consuming and not costly at the same time.

From Indian food, Chinese food, Malaysian food, to a combo or mixed of those cuisine, there are many food choices and restaurants or food stalls to choose. 

I liked Penang. Thanks to Wan and his friendly, hard working staff at IDEAS being great hosts.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Kuala Lumpur International Airport

I landed at Kuala Lumpur International Airport this morning to get a connecting flight to Penang in the afternoon. I am writing this in my hotel, Red Rock Hotel, here in Penang, about 45 minutes by plane from KL. I've been to KL three times before -- 2005, 2009 and 2011 -- but it was only today that I took many photos of the airport. So as usual, I'm shrinking them three photos in one frame to minimize space.

It's definitely a modern airport, comparable to the huge and modern airports of Singapore, Hong Kong, Seoul-Incheon, Tokyo-Narita, Bangkok, etc. Glass and steel structure, silent walkalator that have sensors, meaning they move only if there are passengers using them.

But unlike the airports in HK, Singapore, Narita, or even Manila, there are not too many planes and passengers landing and taking off at KLIA. I noticed at the planes monitoring station, there is a take off every five minutes on average, and consequently, a plane is landing every five minutes too on average, for both international and domestic flights.

In HK for instance, I think a plane is landing every 30 seconds, In Manila, despite the small airports compared to those in its Asian neighbors, I think a plane is landing every minute or so. That's mainly because there are may domestic flights. Our country is an archipelago.

Colorful decorations. This is after the immigration going to gates for domestic flights.

I landed at KLIA from Manila around 11:30 am and my connecting flight to Penang left around 2pm. So I was at KLIA for two and a half hours, I did not notice too many planes nor too many passengers. Middle photo, nice replica of different airlines.

This is the gate I boarded this afternoon for my Malaysian Airlines flight to Penang. It's huge for a domestic flight, so passengers can practically roam around the departure lounge. I think on number of passengers per sq. meter of airport terminal, Manila's terminal 1 (the terminal used by foreign airlines) has probably 10x that in KLIA. Meaning Terminal 1 is too small relative to the number of passengers who are flying out and arriving.

Nice monitor for departing planes from different airlines. This is where I noticed that a plane was taking off about every five minutes on average. Below the departures monitor, are maps of the domestic and international concourses.

There was a cultural presentation in one side as I roamed around the airport this afternoon. Nice performance. Some guys were distributing a Malaysian flag and cookie to passersby.

Photo above, I took last year. I think this was at the main arrival area for international flights.

On toilets and drinking fountain. I don't know how much is the terminal fee at KLIA that is incorporated in the plane ticket, but at least there are plenty of clean toilets and many drinking fountains. In Manila airport, we pay P550 (nearly US$14), was P750 before, terminal fee. and the terminal does not even have one drinking fountain. Passengers have to buy bottled water if they get thirsty, even if they have paid a high terminal fee.

Trees in our Farm, Bugallon, Pangasinan

I visited the farm last week, August 31, 2012. I think the "representative" photo of the farm will be this -- a treehouse perched on a big and live mahogany tree, is itself surrounded by many big trees, and a small rice field in the front.

This is part of the "public road" passing by our farm. That road going up is generally abused with deforestation and various forms of illegal logging by the local folks themselves who live in the barrio. Only the portion in our farm that the trees are allowed to grow tall and big. The thieves respect the "private property" aspect, so long as there are people watching the property regularly.

Another view of my treehouse, the rice field, and many trees around it.  If our caretakers do not visit the farm daily, plus our dogs who accompany them and stay in my treehouse at night, thieves and illegal loggers will simply chop these trees for their own interests.

Several panoramic view of the trees. 

Another side of the farm, not far from my treehouse. The young trees, they multiply like grasses once the mature and bigger ones have started bearing seeds. The seeds are spread anywhere the wind will blow them.  

My treehouse, back view. And the trees beside it....

A portion of our mango orchard. Not too many trees. Strong typhoons would rip apart some of them, or uproot them. Below it, more trees near my treehouse.

I feel "recharged" whenever I visit the farm. I used to do it every two to three weeks before. In recent years until now, I can only afford to visit it once a month, or sometimes, once every two months. Have many household errands and activities on weekends with my family.