Saturday, December 30, 2006

Author Interviews

Just adding to my database:

Here are some links to mp3 interviews with various authors:

R.A. Salvatore

Jeff Vandermeer

Naomi Novik

Harlan Ellison

Japser Fforde new interview and old interview

Jeffrey Ford

Elizabeth Kostova

Chuck Palahniuk new interview and old interview

Kazuo Ishiguro

Steven Erickson

Lucius Shepard

Susanna Clarke

Clive Barker part 1 and 2

China Mieville

Terry Pratchett part 1 and 2

James Barclay

Terry Goodkind

Dan Simmons

Margaret Weis

.Mov files:

Gene Wolfe

Neil Gaiman 1 and 2

Laurell K. Hamilton 1 and 2

Naomi Novik

Peter S. Beagle

Ellen Datlow

Robert Jordan 1 and 2

George R.R. Martin

Terry Pratchett 1 and 2

Orson Scott Card

Susanna Clarke

Jasper Fforde 1 and 2

China Mieville

Tamora Pierce

William Gibson

Garth Nix

Margaret Weis

Mole People

Just got back from meeting with some people who actually purchase moleskin notebooks on a regular basis, apparently ordering them all the way from Hong Kong and paying twice the price at what's being sold here now by Fully Booked.

Of course one week after the infamous bookstore started importing them, the notebooks are going faster than Starbucks Planners. According to my estimations, supplies of the regular one and the ruled notebook variety should be running out in two weeks time unless Fully Booked restocks. Of course some versions I expect will linger on until 2008. I mean how many people really need Memo Pockets? Or will use the one for Water Color? Just goes to show that you shouldn't order everything in equal quantities.

Technical Difficulties

Perhaps rivaling the disconnectedness brought about by typhoon "Milenyo" is Taiwan's recent earthquake. The Internet isn't stable, or rather there are some sites I have trouble accessing. Such as Google and its affiliates (which unfortunate includes Blogger.

Of course I was talking to a friend a few hours ago and her problems are the opposite: Google's just fine. It's Yahoo that she has problems with. And for some time, I couldn't access the servers I go to for chat rooms.

Hopefully 2007 will be better for everyone.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Delusional in December

So I have a cold/migraine ever since yesterday. Perhaps it was getting caught in the rain while doing my Christmas shopping last Thursday. Or the Christmas party last Friday. Or going out last Saturday when you weren't feeling 100%. But that's life and while Banzai Cat will be spending Christmas in bed, I'll be spending it in my sick bed.

Oh and if you got weird text messages from me during Christmas, that's what I get for sending text messages amidst hallucinations and hunger.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

To Aspiring Writers/Artists Part 2

Dear _______,

If you didn't like my previous letter, then you won't like this one as well. No one ever said the path of a writer would ever be easy. However, I will give you one consolation. It's okay to get hurt by criticism. Everybody gets hurt--it's an instinct, an emotion. Even the best of writers get hurt by critics. Some even go as far as channeling this pain into their work. I'm not telling you to deny yourself of this pain. What I am telling you, however, is how to react after the pain. At the end of the day, it's not about you: it's about your work, your craft, your vocation. If there's anything that makes people remarkable, it's our ability to grow, to mature, to learn. In the end, that's what criticism is about: improving one's writing, honing one's skills.

Before I begin talking about criticism, it's only relevant if you know who your audience are. And writers should, even if it's only at a fundamental level, know who they're writing for. If you're writing only for yourself, then criticism from other people is moot. Feel free to disregard this letter. But more often than not, writers will write for an audience other than themselves. Be careful to note that there is a distinction from a writer saying "I will only write this for myself" from "I will write a story I can enjoy". The former is only concerned with themselves. The latter, while placing himself at the top of his priority list, still has other people in mind when writing.

Not all criticism is constructive. Not all points criticism shouldn't be heeded. But that's not to say we should ignore criticism. Who to listen to and who to ignore? That's why knowing your audience is important. When somebody critics your work, more important than them liking or disliking it, the foremost question in your mind should be why. Why do they like this story? Why do they hate it? It is only in asking the question of why does criticism become constructive. No one progresses from a comment like"this story is horrible". A writer can grow, however, if it is stated why the reader thinks the story is horrible. And when we listen to their reasons, we find out if they are indeed our audience or not.

Some writers, even successful ones, will tell you to ignore reviews, to ignore criticism, to even ignore editors. That's only true under one of a few conditions: if you're confident in your talent and skill or if you're only writing for yourself. The latter is easier to explain. You can come up with what others might deem horrible writing, but if you're honestly just writing for yourself, why should you care? The former is more ambiguous. How can you tell if your skill has already been polished? Ego plays a part. Not all published writers are good writers. But some do mistake popularity for skill, or publication for talent. One can easily claim that their writing is polished enough already and pursue publication. But there are also others who continue to re-evaluate and constantly seek improvement. I'd choose the latter, because that is the path of growth. However, a writer must at some point possess the same decisiveness as the former. One can get caught up in perpetual revision that your text never comes out.

In the end, I am writing this letter for the writers who want to grow. If you attend a workshop, you're admitting to yourself that 1) there's room for improvement and 2) the people attending the workshop have something relevant to say. The same goes when you solicit comments from other people. It's your choice what to do with unsolicited advice, but like I said in my previous letter, if you're asking for honest criticism, do not get angry at the person for giving you actual criticism. With every endeavor comes pain and disappointment, and writing is no exception.



Saturday, December 23, 2006

To Aspiring (and Even "Professional") Writers/Artists

Dear _______,

Please be aware the criticism is part of the craft, just as praises and awards are. If you can't take criticism, don't write publish. And while every point of criticism should be taken with a grain of salt, that's not to say that every point argued against your work isn't valid of constructive. If you can't take constructive criticism, then you can say goodbye to workshops, editors, and honest reactions from readers and writers alike.

Also please be informed that when you ask somebody to review your work, that means that they can point out your weaknesses as well as strengths, and to not be angry at them for pointing the said flaws. It's one thing to receive unwarranted criticism, it's another to ask someone else to look at your work, and be mad at them for giving an honest--if unflattering--opinion. Readers are not yes-men nor are they idiots, even if they are your "friends".



Thursday, December 21, 2006

Moleskine Notebooks

Aside from the ever-elusive Copic Markers, Fully Booked is now stocking Moleskine notebooks. Not that anyone I know will be interested... (Neil Gaiman uses them)

Too Many Accessories

I'm not a fashion guy (I'm not metrosexual). Given the choice between practicality or aesthetics, I'd take the former any day. If I'm complaining about accessories, it's probably because the cyborg culture theory is catching up to me.

One of the legacies of the random bombings a few years ago is that mall security is still relatively strict. The strictest so far is still the Podium. There's an actual metal detector (or at least that's what it looks like it's suppoed to do) at the entrances in addition to the frisking. There's an occasional security dog from time to time (or is that Mega Mall?). I cannot stress how much of an inconvenience it is to enter the Podium because I have to unload all my electronics into a basket, and the amount of electronics I carry far exceeds the size of my palm.

First off are my two mobile phones, one for Globe, one for Smart. If I had a choice, I'd throw both phones into the ocean, but it's required for work (and for people who do not pay me but require me to produce the same output as work... some people know them as "family", others as organizations, clubs, friends, and my current gaming group).

Second is my Creative Zen: Vision M mp3 player. You'd be surprised at how much my output has doubled because of the thing (not because it plays music but how I can listen to PodCasts and videos while waiting for meetings, as well as acting as a voice recorder). Oh, and I can view porn on it too (but alas, it does not allow me to read e-books or manga) assuming I owned porn to begin with.

Third is my flash drive. I used to place it in the same pouch as my mp3 player (since it's easy to loose that tiny device) except I just bought a 4 GB model the other day (I'd buy the 16 GB model if somebody would actually import them to the Philippines) and it came with a strap. While I eschew the wearing of ID's, the same cannot be said for flash drives. So now I have a flash drive dangling by my neck (and making sure it does not get tangled with my earphones).

Somebody should write a fashion article on tech accessories. I'm not yet one of the borg, but you know what they say, "resistance is futile".

I'm just waiting for somebody to import e-book readers so I can read porn my manga and my pdf files on the go.


I feel like I've been isolated from the world and just crawled out of a cave.

Back in college, I was part of this non-accredited (i.e. unofficial) organization called Comic Collective. I don't think I need to elaborate what exactly the interests of the organization was. Anyway, the president of the org back then was TinTin Pantoja. It's only today that I found out, from a stray email from Elbert (the Comic Collective's president two years after TinTin) that TinTin is doing some work for TokyoPop (moral lesson of the day: read your email!).

Of course how I originally met TinTin is a story in itself...

Long Lines

No, I'm not talking about the lines of Christmas shopping (although yes, they are long, and traffic is horrible... it's a good thing I walk).

I managed to drop by Mega Mall today and discovered that the Krispy Kreme branch (in between Goldilocks and Pizza Hut on the ground floor) has finally opened. And it's the longest line I've seen (but then again, it's a really small shop). It reminds me of the days when Zagu first opened, or when Gonuts Donuts first popped up.

Not that I'd be buying donuts anytime soon. I'm allergic to food you know.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Mission and Vision

I'm a product of 17 (yes, seventeen!) years of Jesuit education and the term "mission and vision" has been ingrained into me. What's the school's mission and vision? What's the club's mission and vision? Even in college, the organizations had to have a mission and vision. And since these were Jesuits who demanded that we have a mission and vision, the "mission and vision" had to be socially relevant and not insular.

Of course to those out there in "the real world", the concept is laughable. Mission and vision, what's that? Last year, there were some students who came to our offices, asking if our boss could be interviewed and asking what the magazine's mission and vision was. One of our former editorial assistant's laughed and said the publication had no mission and vision. We existed to make our boss rich.

On the surface, that's true. Business and companies and organizations exist for their own sake, usually for the sake of profit. Why are we in jobs? Again, on the surface-level, the answer is probably for selfish reasons: for our own sakes, so that we can earn money, so that we can get by in the world. Yet this answer did not satisfy me--not because I disliked the answer that I was seeing, but because I saw something more.

I think every corporation, every business entity, even every human being has a mission and vision. It might not always be socially relevant in the sense that it affects the community, and it doesn't always operate on a conscious level, but it's there. I mean my boss, while seemingly always on the lookout to save money or to earn money, nonetheless has standards. There are some things which he won't comprise on, such as the magazine's photos and art. If the magazine I was working for had a mission and vision (and on a subconscious level, it does), it would be aesthetics. And this just doesn't apply to my company. Bookstores, for example, operate on the belief that people will read. The cause it supports, even indirectly, is literacy.

Of course what brought about this realization is something closer to home. A few months ago, I'd game at a friend's house in San Juan. He'd offer to bring us dinner because it was near his grandfather's restaurant. His grandfather, upon starting the restaurant, swore that no one in his family would starve. Thus my friend always had free food (if he so obliged) whenever he was in the area. And this wasn't a unique case. Another friend of mine (part of the gaming circle I'm with) also had a grandfather who used to be a farmer and promised that the family would always have rice (unfortunely, it only applies to rice and not the wide menu of an entire restaurant unlike my other friend).

Brain Drain

It's amazing what a lack of Internet access can do for your imagination. Or in my case, sheer impotence in updating my own blog.

Updates on my Internet connectivity: Monday, I managed to get through to PLDT. Their networks seem to be fine, it's either our cables or our modem that seems to be having problems. They'll be sending a guy to see what's wrong, but you know, waiting for them to actually arrive will probably inspire me to write the next Waiting for Godot.

Of course come Tuesday, I have access once again to the Internet, albeit sporadic. And today's Wednesday, and with the exception of the early morning, I have sporadic Internet access once again.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Writing Theory

In one of the rare moments when the house actually has Internet (it's going on/off every few seconds), here's a PodCast with author R.A. Salvatore, known for his Drizz't series in Forgotten Realms. What's particularly interesting about the interview is that Salvatore has a different approach to writing. I'd say a more "modern" approach that breaks some of the old rules of writing. Listen to it for yourself to see what I mean.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Ink & Stone Book Sale

Last big sale, Dec. 15 - 17, 2006 at Ink & Stone Podium, 15% of regular items, additional 5% off discount holders. Great bargains from P120 up.

Internet-less Limbo

Almost two weeks now since the home DSL has gone down. And yes, it only works when it rains. So if you had a choice of getting PLDT/SMART DSL or something else, I'd choose the latter.

On a side note, it's my last day of work, so I'll be virtually free next week. If anyone wants to meet up, I'm a text message away. I can also bring your Christmas presents like a skinny Santa Clause.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

No Hidden Cameras

For those who missed the Speculative Fiction Vol 2 Launch, here's the mp3 to the event. For the most part, the voices in the foreground is Sage and babysitter Elbert, but just crank up the volume and you can hear Dean and company.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Stalking the Spec Fic Vol 2 Book Launch With A Sucky Camera

Taking the lists of names from Dean's preliminary table of contents, here's the cast who was available at the photo op (from left to right, unless you're Chinese, which I am, by the way): Joshua Limso, Russel Stanley Geronimo, "Masked" (sandwiched and "hidden" in between two authors), Joey Nacino, Yvette Tan (must plug my boss), Madeline Rae Ong (hiding behind Yvette... my angle's awful for not catching the pretty people at the launch), Dean Alfar, Oscar Alvarez (a.k.a. Tyron Caliente), Andrew Drilon, Vincent Simulban (we only see his shiny head as he's covered by Alex), Alexander Osias, Kate Aton-Osias, Nikki Alfar, and Jessi Albano (who is protesting the picture).

Oh, and there were eight male authors who showed up, and five of them were bald (by choice). So if anyone needed signatures, I told them to look for the bald men. =)

Witness to Disaster

Because I'm a weak-willed person, I was buying a coworker's food on the street next to Emerald Ave. when I saw one of the pole lines explode. It was a brief explosion, nothing blinding and not the type that would wreak havoc in the area around it, but you knew something had gone wrong.

Five minutes later, I'm back in the office and I discover there's no electricity. And then something clicks in my head. "Oh."

DSL Ironies

I think by now, it should be obvious to anyone that PLDT and its affiliations (i.e. SMART) are the worse people to approach for their DSL services. The only thing going for them is that they are PLDT, and thus you don't need to apply for a separate phone line, and they have a package that's P999.00. Everything else is crap, from the service to your Internet connection.

Of course in a bizarre twist of fate, I had sporadic Internet access last week. How sporadic? Try 4 hours in a 24 time period. And this didn't seem to have been caused by anything. The weather was fine, the sun was out. It's only yesterday that I got a steady Internet connection. Of course the funny thing about yesterday is that it was raining all day.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Singapore Ironies

Friends staying in Singapore are currently going home for the Christmas, while other friends are heading to Singapore for their Christmas vacation. Hmmm...

Farewell Libreria Books

The large bookstore at Tomas Morato will be shutting down soon, so if there's any book you want to take a look at their shelf, I'd suggest doing so now.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

We Don't Need a Cure of Stupidity

There are two kinds of stupid people. Those who acknowledge that they're stupid (hopefully I fall into this category), and those that think they're always right. We don't need to cure stupidity, we just need to cure arrogance.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Classic Pag-Asa

No offense to the country's official weather bureau, but Pag-Asa is what one of my teachers in high school called a joke. They call off classes when so-called storms amount to fledging rain (or worse, sunshine), and allow classes to continue when there's a storm outside. Not that living in a tropical country makes meteorology easy by any means, it's just that we've grown accustomed to believing the opposite of what Pag-Asa declares.

And perhaps that's why Milenyo was such an awful typhoon. It's not that Pag-Asa didn't warn us, but it's the fact that they did. Who knew that their 1/100 forecast would actually come true? How did that old adage go? Even a broken clock will tell the right time.

Classes of course were called off last Thursday in light of an approaching typhoon that's even worse than Milenyo. Of course as far as Metro Manila was concerned, it was simply a windy day with some drizzle. And thankfully, when it was supposed to arrive last Friday, it didn't. Just relatively stronger winds and the DSL going out.

This is what I call classic Pag-Asa, or as far as the Philippines is concerned, all returns to normal. We can't have Pag-Asa predicting the correct weather, right?

A Different Bookstore Discount Cards for Sale

In the lull that was Friday (a holiday and potential threat of a torrential typhoon), I managed to pay a visit to Ink & Stone at the Podium. The new stocks are in. But aside from that, as a Christmas promo, you can now purchase discount cards for P300. Or P200 if you already have one of those cards that needs stamps for every purchase. The mathematician in me calculates that you'll need to spend P3,000 or P2,000 on cash purchases in books to break even so it's a worthwhile investment if you buy that much books.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Ateneo Press Christmas Booksale

We are happy to invite you to the much-awaited Christmas booksale of the Ateneo Press, from November 27 to December 15, at the press bookshop in Bellarmine Hall, ADMU Campus. All books will be sold at 10 to 50 percent discount. Sale hours: Monday to Friday, 8am to 12 noon, 1 to 6pm.

As always, browsing--like the warm salabat--is free.

To reserve copies of your favorite titles, call Vangie or Anne at 02-4265984.

Ateneo de Manila University Press
Bellarmine Hall, ADMU Campus
Katipunan Ave., Loyola Heights
Quezon City, Philippines
Tel.: (632) 426-6001 loc. 4610

Monday, November 27, 2006

Random Stories

It's Monday and it seems so many stuff has happened over the weekend but I had to cope with a stiff neck. So that's news for you.

My boss is finally back, and the World Battle of the Bands held in Hong Kong is over, so it should be an interesting week (read: work!) on how it's going to affect us.

Late Saturday evening, I suddenly receive this phone call from one of my classmates in high school saying that there's this alumni homecoming and I should hop right over to Xavier. Except you know, I was dealing with a stiff neck and I was in Pasig. Of course now waking up and doing the math, I graduated in 2000 and if homecomings are supposed to be held every four years, the batch is supposed to reunite on 2008, not 2006.

Friday was another Pulp photo shoot and involved a visit to Victoria Court. Of course the female staff didn't want to be seen entering the place, while I had to run back and forth between the office in Ortigas (near Tektite) and the shoot location on foot because of miscellaneous duties that needed to be done.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Buffy Season 8

Entertainment Weekly has a recent interview with Joss Whedon and he talks about his plans for a Buffy sequel that's part of the canon. Faithful fans, however, might be disappointed (or thrilled) at the new medium: comics.

From: Newsarama

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Launch

Because they bribed me (they arrived at our office with eight boxes of doughnuts and there was barely anyone at the office: no graphic designers, just the AE's and two writers):

Krispy Kreme will be opening on Thursday, November 30, 2006 at 8:30 am at the City Center in the Fort (Near Serendra). First customer to ring the cash register will win a one year supply of Original Glazed doughnuts, while the first 500 customers will be getting a limited edition Krispy Kreme original t-shirt. There'll also be raffles for the 2nd up to the 500th customer.

And if you're wondering how much they'll cost, the Original Glazed Doughnuts are selling for P30 each, while Assorted Doughnuts for P38 each.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Dennis the Menace

I never thought I'd experience what Mr. Wilson felt from Hank Ketcham's Dennis the Menace comic.

At random days in the morning, fumes of smoke would seep into the house, choking my sleep-deprived lungs. I didn't know the source until today, when my mom entered the guest room and randomly blurted the fact that the enigmatic source of the smoke were our neighbors (which isn't really a surprise because it's either them or La Salle) who were practicing Buddhists and burned paper at regular intervals.

Unfortunately, as much as I'd like to say my woes ends there, this is also the same neighbor that is known for its maids singing out of tone at midnight with the volume of the karaoke at maximum. Back in the day when Virra Mall was still known as Virra Mall and not V-Mall, there'd be regular song competitions on the weekends, and the reason why the radio of most stores in the vicinity are loud is because it's to drown out all that horrible singing (to be fair, not all the singers are out of tone, but every weekend I drop by, there's always someone singing horribly). The shop I was working for was located in the third floor and we could hear the singing (damn centralized sound system!) even if the contestants were at the ground floor. That's what it feels like on certain days, when you're weary and tired and want to get some rest, and then you hear the awful shrieking of their maid (at least I hope it's a maid singing those Filipino songs, with a shrill voice, and horribly out of tune).

Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume 2 Book Launch

Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume 2 Book Launch
Sunday, December 10, 2006 - 3PM
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
Ground Floor, The Promenade
Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila

Copies of the book will be available then.

Afterwards, the anthology will be available at Fully Booked, Comic Quest and other venues.

From: Dean Alfar

Pacquiao for the Victory

I'm not really what you'd call a natural sports aficionado. That domain belongs more to my brother who was a basketball jock back in his day. I didn't enjoy watching games like basketball, boxing, or billiards, although I did enjoy participating in the casual basketball games we had in school, as much as a guy who can't dribble and can't shoot can enjoy it.

It was only after exposure to sports anime--and manga-- that I'd develop an appreciation for such sports. Slam Dunk, for example, taught me about the rules of the game (aside from the basics that I already knew, such as traveling) and the dynamics of the team (I didn't even know there were five people on the court) more than my Physical Education classes ever could. And during my college years, I did watch the basketball games of my alma matter, especially as they'd make it to the finals but falling short of winning the championship (except on one occassion when they finally succeeded). Of course nowadays, I don't watch much basketball as I never really followed the sport and what kept me interested in basketbaall during my college years were the personalities I became familiar with.

The other popular Filipino sport which suddenly had a resurgence is boxing. Again, I'm a neophyte in terms of my knowledge of the sport, but my anime indoctrination with the likes of the show Hajime no Ippo has made watching boxing much more interesting. As a spectator, a fight (or any game for that matter) is more interesting if you know what's going on, who's winning, and what the viable tactics are. I mean to someone unfamiliar with boxing, it all seems like people duking it out in the ring, throwing random punches and jabs. But in reality, it can be a complex sport with feints, counters, body blows, and a lot of seemingly unseen attacks to the casua viewer that makes boxing so exciting.

Writer Krip Yuson once wrote that Filipinos excel in sports that begin with B's: boxing, billiards, bowling, but alas, not basketball despite fervent interest in the sport by Filipinos. One of the country's living sports icons is Efren Bata Reyes, a recognized billiard champion, not just here but internationally as well. Yet in a certain way, he has less impact than a Manny Pacquiao fight. Perhaps it's because we've grown accustomed to Efren Bata Reyes, who has dominated the pool scene for quite some time. Efren is perhaps best described as the vanguard of Filipino billiards, the reigning champion and guardian of the sport. In other words, he is expected to win his fights, and is this seemingly otherwordly skilled master of the sport.

Manny Pacquiao, on the other hand, is a boxer that is the complete opposite of Efren Bata Reyes. While talented in his own right, Pacquiao is a protagonist fitting for a soap opera. He has all the elements, everything from a rags-to-riches story to a youth discovering himself to the underdog winning fight after fight. He's the country's black knight, the man whose odds are aren't in his favor, yet he manages to win fight after fight just the same. Filipinos not only empathizes with Manny Pacquiao's because of his common-man roots, but they feel that he's earning each reward with each fight, a very mortal man slowly earning his place as a champion step by step (Efren Bata Reyes, on the other hand, seems like he was destined for his greatness because it's simply been so long that he's dominated the billiards scene).

To the uninitiated, perhaps the best analogy I can give of Manny Pacquiao's popularity is that of Bruce Lee to Hong Kong. Back when The Green Hornet TV show was airing in the US, the Chinese in Hong Kong were watching it as The Kato Show. Bruce Lee inadvertedly became a hero to many Chinese despite the fact that being an accomplished actor, while an exemplary feat, isn't really a unique profession. I mean Manny Pacquiao probably garners more attention than his foreign rivals and counterparts would in their own home country.

Anyway, Manny Pacquiao's third fight with Erik Morales came to a conclusion today. Losing to Morales in their first encounter and making a combat in the second, it seems like fate when Manny Pacquiao won his third fight on the third round--after knocking his opponent thrice, twice during that pivotal round--and establishing himself as one of the world's finest boxers (at least at this point in time). To the casual viewers, this is probably the best fight they've watched of the three matches that Pacquiao's has had, simply because a lot of blows were exchanged early on and there were a lot of knockdowns. Unlike other sports, combat sports (and not just limited to boxing) aren't necessarily the most rewarding shows to watch visually. The problem with fighting is that attacks are usually quick and fast, and depending on the range, don't necessarily have lots of audience appeal. The best example I have are the UFC fights where both contenders are grappling. To a spectator, it seems like two people hugging. It's really difficult to see the strikes going on there (because it's being covered by the grappler's bodies) and the strain it puts on both fighters. That can also happen in boxing, especially when both boxers are in-fighters. That wasn't the case with this fight though as both Pacquiao and Morales were fighting with range, and there were a lot of head blows as well as body blows.

It wasn't a first-round knockout but it was nonetheless an exciting fight. Both warriors slugged it out in comparison to their previous fights where both fighters were more cautious and avoided long exchanges. There were also knockouts instead of depending on the judge's scorecards to determine the winner (and has come to plague a couple of Filipino boxers in our history) although I will applaud Morales for getting up after not just his first knockdown, but his second as well.

Again, I know Pacquiao's previous fights were just as fierce and competitive, but three-round victories and winning by knockout is what comprises drama. It was a pleasant fight to watch and only serves to increase Manny Pacquiao's image as this macho, courageous Filipino.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

American Anime Awards in 2007

The New York Comic Con which will be held in late February next year will be having an Anime Awards ceremony. Personally, I'm just wondering how the fan community will be receiving it, whether they'll laud the event or simply ignore it (I mean it's not exactly the first time that someone's tried to host an anime awards ceremony).

Of course the cynic in me is thinking that this is all being done to try to get more non-American comic readers into the con. On a side note, why is there a separate category for "best actor/actress in a comedy?" It's like saying there are just two kinds of anime, those that are funny, and those that aren't. The fact that there's a "best comedy anime" doesn't help change that perception.

From Newsarama

I've Forgotten How to Write!

Not quite true, but it seems so long since I last had a blog entry that it might as well be true.

I'm currently in the phase of my life where I'm simply unproductive. No books read, no writing done, and there's no money in the bank.

Anyway, the weekend game was a mix of both good and bad. The former because me and my friends got to talk about D&D and created our optimized 20th-level characters. Bad because the game we joined wasn't our gaming group and well, let's just say there were a lot of things that made the game sub-optimal play (I think I should stress that one should never play in a party composed of a dozen players and you know something's wrong when the one taking initiative [the person who keeps track of whose turn it is] asks "when's it my turn?").

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Back in grade school, high school, and college, I wasn't a fan of studying. In truth I'm one of those lazy people who gets bored easily. Reading is one thing, studying is another thing. The latter involves repetition and reviewing, a chore that gets dull too quickly. (On the other hand, a subject like Math can't be studied because there's nothing to review. I can work on problems and that's it. And Math is designed in such a way that once you know how to solve a certain problem, you know how to solve the rest so there's really no need of say completing a word problem that involves simple addition.)

Early this week I received news that if everything goes as planned, there'll be a one-shot D&D game this weekend. I miss playing D&D and it's been a year since I last played an authentic game. So I'm really looking forward to the game this weekend. It's a high-level game however, 20th-level at the very least, so creating a character will be far from quick.

I'm quite familiar with the game and one of my goals whenever I create a character is to optimize them... within limits of course. An example of a limitation would be that it might fit well into a story, for example, or perhaps a restriction such as no spellcasting or easy to use. Right now, my current plans for the character is that 1) it won't be using Polymorph spells (basically spells that alter a character's form and abilities) because it leads to too much game imbalance and rules clarifications, 2) won't be spending much time buffing, and 3) relatively easy to use.

In order to fully optimize a character, one needs to be familiar with all the options that's available. Unfortunately, D&D releases hardcover books every month (a hardcover is usually twice as large as most hardcover fiction books but thinner... barely 200 pages at most, but they're usually in full-color) and I have quite a huge collection. I found myself last night, doing of all things, studying.

Not that I mind of course. For me it's fun, assembling data as if it were a jigsaw puzzle and suddenly discovering pieces that "fit". What's interesting for me is how we perceive certain subjects. I mean the only other thing I dislike more than studying is doing research. Yet when it comes to subjects like say anime, I don't mind doing the leg work. Simply put, there are certain subjects for me which are interesting, even if they're boring and tedious to the rest of the world.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Still Alive

Still alive, although this is definitely one of my more positive moods.

Last year, I ranted about how Christmas songs precedes Halloween (and in fact Christmas hits the Philippines as soon as the first 'ber month hits) so all I'll say now is enjoy the sales, and do your Christmas shopping early.

On a side note, right now I'm enjoying the benefits of Google Docs and Spreadsheets, which not only gives you an online word processor to store and save your documents, but the fact that you can also selectively share them.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


I'm one of those people with low self-esteem and a lack of confidence. When I'm thrown something I'm not qualified for, I remember that if I only keep on doing the things I think I can do, then that will indeed be the only things I can do, in the future as well as in the present.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Politics and Religion

I question the belief that the two are separate, or that they should be so. When the Philippines claimed “independence” from its Spanish conquerors, one of the proposed constitutions was the distinction between church and state (a reaction to some of the corrupt practices of the church during that era). Yet I don’t think that separation was fully upheld. Our Catholic forbearers remained Catholics, and they put into practice their religious belief, be it in their political life or their personal life. Nowadays, one can’t make a political decision without taking into consideration the reaction of the church – and in many ways, it does hold a vestige of authority in the country. Many theorize, and I agree with this proposal, that the reason why population control in the country was never successful in a post-Marcos era was because of the church’s stance against the use of alternative methods of family planning (the only option given to married couples are withdrawal or the rhythm method). Of course the educated of our society will rebel at this idea, at how religion interferes with the state. Yet taking a closer look, in certain ways, such unity is inevitable.

What most people fail to see is what politics and religion have in common. More than the propaganda of politicians or the promises of salvation by religion, the common cause of the two is that they both unite people. Whenever a civilization congregates into a cohesive force, they’re usually following a political ideal (i.e. something as simple as fair wages to something as complex as democracy) or a religious one. In fact, I don’t really see any distinction between the two except for the fact that most people treat the latter as irrevocable truth and the former as a necessary evil. What I find interesting is how the two forces manipulate people into following their tenets. Politics usually employs force of the law in the real world, either a fine or some physical punishment. Religion, on the other hand, employs something subtler. It can be punishment in the form of being socially ostracized, and in some cases, actual physical recompense. However, more often than not, religion threatens your faith, usually the afterlife, more than having an immediate, real-world impact on the offender.

The literati might clamor for a clear distinction between the two yet society’s answer is otherwise. Metro Manila, the capital of the Philippines, is for all intents and purposes a Catholic-centric city. I can only assume since I have no experience with Mindanao that that part of the country is similarly Islamic-driven in nature. Yet ours is far from a unique case. I mean one simply needs to look at America, a nation of the free and hodgepodge of cultures. Yet if we are to believe the courtroom dramas we see on television, why does their judicial system swear on the Bible for witnesses to testify the truth? If I weren’t a Christian, aren’t I less obligated to state the truth considering my oath to honesty is less binding than that of a Christian believer? Of course colonial America is merely one example of religion seeping into a country’s political system. There’s China for example, where preaching and distribution of the Bible has been restricted by the government to say the least. And what of various other Islamic countries where obviously, Islam is the dominant religion and how it wields much authority in the political arena?

As much as people want to separate the two, I think the telltale signs of any civilization is the existence of politics and religion, and how it manages to govern the lives of its members. Would it be possible to live in a country where the two are clearly and cleanly separated? If only the human psyche can be broken down into distinct components but alas, we are all but too human, and we must accept things in their totality than simply by their individual parts. Even if our political system was segregated from religion, our political leaders will no doubt still be influenced by their political beliefs.

Friday, October 27, 2006


While still gathering the courage to ask a friend out on a date... it'll probably never happen.

In the latest news of the human relationship dynamic (females in case the gender matters, and it probably does), I have these two friends who are also friends with each other. Lately, I don't get to talk to them together but I do manage to chat with them independently on occassion.

Of course what I found peculiar is how each one is acting like a big sister and telling me how I'm screwing things up when talking to the other friend.

The me of four years ago will probably complain about how I'm hearing about my faults from the other person, and wishing that the person themselves would tell me directly what's wrong so that I don't have to wait for the other friend to give me feedback before I correct myself (because you know, I'm simple, dense, and direct).

The me of the present knows how futile it is to expect such things, so I'll just have to work with what I have, and investigate how I can have a similar "attachment" to all my female friends, so that their new companion can tell me what I'm doing wrong and vice versa. (Or finding their hidden locked posts on livejournal or vox or whatever secret blog they have will have to do).


Kinda like a long-term mood swing, I operate in phases that usually has no relation with the previous phase. Since most of the blog entries have stopped, the reader/writer phase has gone and has been replaced with the pen-and-paper RPG phase, although it's not like I'm playing D&D nowadays (if only someone would run a D&D game...).

And as much as I want to join up for this year's NaNoWriMo challenge, I'll have to pass as there's so much non-novel writing that needs to be written, blog entries included.

Collective Nouns

Apparently, that's the term for words included in statements like a murder of crows, a crash of rhinos (ah, Magic: The Gathering, is there nothing you do not teach?).

You can visit The Collective Noun Page for an unofficial list. One of the more speculative ones include an anthology of prostitutes ("Hey, we should come up with an anthology!" "Of writers? Or prostitutes? Either way's fine...").

Mabuhay Doctor

Just plugging fashion guru Jenni Epperson's blog, Mabuhay Doctor over at Multiply. I was supposed to teach her how to blog, but genius that she is, managed to figure it out for herself. This is probably the wrong audience for it but for all your fashion, beauty, and shopping needs, drop by and join one of her contests (or just look at her fancy photos).

It's Been So Long...

...since I apparently last updated.

As for updates on life, work has been quasi-busy, mainly because the boss is off on his vacation, and that's really a double-edged sword. A blessing mainly because there's no one to look around your shoulder so there's less tension in the office (because we get the work done anyway even if no one is looking), but a big challenge as well as there'll only be certain decisions he can make, and no one will be approving future bills.

There's a big sigh of relief on my part that this year's The Philippines Yearbook has been released, but there are still three other magazines to work on...

Monday, October 23, 2006


It doesn't happen too often but a source of emotional distress for me is pondering on asking a friend if I could court her (no, it's not anyone you know, and right now there's only one person who reads my blog who's acquainted with the person, but it's obviously not who you might think). If the gambit fails, I doubt if the relationship can return to what it once was. And even if it does succeed, the dynamic of the relationship changes as well. But if I never ask the question, the relationship can never move forward (as I'm doing all the initiating). I'm just caught in the web of procatination, making the excuse of "finding the right time", which most of you should realize by now, will most likely never occur unless you yourself creates the scenario.


Occassionally, I will be struck with such laziness and inefficiency that I will get nothing done. No books read, no writing done, and I break off communication with the rest of the world (which is quite easy because no one really calls unless it's a chain-letter text message or they need something).

The past week was one of those days, which will explain much of the inactivity.

Today's agenda is an interesting one as I start out with a photo shoot in the morning, and end with a book launch in the evening. I'll be expecting Murphy's Law to kick in during those vital moments, throwing my lifeless husk into chaos. To give you an idea how wrong things can go, last year's book launch involved the circulation manager getting drunk on wine and punching my boss.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Gaming Blog

Some members of the informal group Cult of Tin (it's a private joke) last week told me to get a Vox account if it was just the new features of Blogger Beta that I was interested in. Signed up last week but it was only early this week that I received an invite (yes, I have several friends from livejournal who have spare invites to spread around but I didn't want to impose) so yes, I have another blog.

While I figure out how to use the various options of Vox, in the meantime it'll be used as a gaming blog. I have three posts already there and for the time being, it'll be centered mostly on Dungeons & Dragons but in the future who knows? L5R, GURPS, and other pen-and-paper RPGs are a possibility. I might even do a comprehensive guide to DotA or something.

In the meantime, D&D gamers visit. Those who aren't familiar with the game will get uncomfortable as I throw jargon after jargon. It's surprising though how bold and italic faces can make reading a whole lot easier.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop

Anne Bishop's Black Jewels Trilogy is an interesting animal. On one hand, it can be quite dark and amoral (the darkness is worshipped for example). However, it's not really as visually graphic or as mature as say, Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel series. On the other hand, it's pop bordering along the lines of David Eddings and Mercedes Lackey fare storytelling, with occassional wish-fulfillment and stupid evil overlords creeping in at times. I will give credit though to Bishop for creating a challenging concept and executing it successfully. Her writing style is fairly easy to understand and is as consumable as any fantasy-pop novel like R.A. Salvatore or Terry Brooks. The mood is quite dark despite the use of a child protagonist, but on the other hand the characters can be quite kind and innocent at times, despite them being the keepers of Hell or the boytoy of several queens. Those blindly following their pastors preachings should avoid this book, but paradoxically it's not as dark as some of the other fantasy series's out there. Bishop doesn't score any bonus points in the description department as it's pretty much standard fare, although I am impressed at how many times she manages to avoid saying the word penis. It can best be summed up as a romance of sorts with magic and mystical creatures thrown into the mix. What also throws me off is how Bishop ends each book, not quite comic cliffhanger, but not fully resolved either. The Black Jewels is half-part dark, half-part pop-friendly. I expect it'll be a guilty pleasure for a lot of people, at the very least for the deviants within each one of us.

The Last Hero by Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett's The Last Hero is one of those books that while it works without the illustrations, you'll be missing out a lot on Paul Kidby's fabulous Discworld art. The book follows the trail of several popular Discworld characters and this is the closest you'll get to a world-splanning crossover. There's no real villain in the story, simply lots of good guys working on opposite ends. As typical of a Discworld novel, Pratchett pokes fun at the convention of fantasy and what makes a hero a hero. Comedy aside though, the book contains depth and at the end of all this, the one thing I can promise you is that at least one character comes out of it more mature. Pratchett is a fine example that comedy and fun doesn't have to mean a story can't be meaningful or deep.

The Girl Who Played Go by Shan Sa

Another of those blind-buys, The Girl Who Played Go is both a romance and coming-of-age book, but its Eastern roots are quite evident in the sense that it's starkly different compared to how a Western writer would write it. The book constantly juxataposes between two characters, a Chinese girl and a Japanese soldier invading China. As can be expected, love develops between the two, but not in the way most readers might expect. It's all indirect, subtle, and even innocent. Throw in a background of historical conflict and you have an unparalleled story. I'm not a real fan of romance but exposure to writers like Shan Sa are a welcome deviation from my reading norm. Thankfully, Asian romance isn't necessarily mushy, but this book leaves you this feeling of catharsis by the time you're done.

The Changeling Sea

What I'm impressed about McKillip is how she can keep her stories short but entertaining, deep but simple, descriptive but appropriate. The Changeling Sea is such a book and while it's barely more than a hundred pages, she makes full use of the pages she's allotted. McKillip's focus are usually her characters and this isn't any different as they have the right mix of virtues and hubris. As most McKillip novels, The Changeling Sea can be passed off for a young adult book because she uses simple words and short sentences, but they're quite enthralling and vivid. The book's a bit more straightforward than others and less winded but that's not necessarily bad. It has this fairy tale type of feel that only the best writers can successfully pull off. The Changeling Sea is a good introduction to McKillip's writing style and with little investment in time.

Shadow of the Giant by Orson Scott Card

It's amazing how a series can change in focus over the series of a few books. That's the case with Shadow of the Giant, the latest book in the Ender's Shadow series. Political is the best way to describe it, as our protagonist, Bean, has lost his nemesis in the previous book and all that seems left is to tie up loose ends. Card has an interesting theory on war and on unity, and it's best voiced by the characters of this novel. Is it an interesting read? Yes. Are the characters still interesting? Yes again. But the conflict of the story has shifted from something personal to something bigger, to something more global. For people who've followed the series so far, it's a reward. For those who haven't, checked out Card's famous novel, Ender's Game first.

The Iron Dragon's Daughter by Michael Swanwick

If at first you don't succeed, try again. That's how I managed to finish reading Swanwick's The Iron Dragon's Daughter although the second time around, it wasn't as dragging as I thought it would be. At the time, Swanwick's novel blended modern machinery with the fantastical so his concept of an "iron dragon" was quite revolutionary. Steampunk but not quite. Mixed up in this bizzarre world is our female protagonist who seems to be trapped in a recurring world and her defiant stance at everything. Manipulation and sex abound, and Swanwick carves out an interesting narrative. Admittedly, there are lulls while reading the novel but the protagonist's exploits and emotions keeps you returning, if only to find out how it all ends. Halfway through the book, things start to get quite bizzarre, more so by the end. The Iron Dragon's Daughter is quite a slipstream novel, crossing several boundaries and presenting them in an unprecedented way. Not the easiest of reads, nor is it for pop consumption, but the journey is quite an experience.

The Etched City by KJ Bishop

I've heard praises about KJ Bishop and I must say she lives up to her reputation. The Etched City begins in a seemingly-modern setting revolving around two central characters. Midway through the novel, however, the book's true colors show as smatterings of the imaginary, the unreal start popping up. By the end of the book, you have this truly speculative tale with stories-within-stories. The descriptions are vivid without getting dragging (a problem with Anne Rice) and imaginative as she constantly mixes the mystical with the mundane. I didn't expect I'd be captivated by a book that was set in the real world but apparently it did. Her characters are equally interesting, especially the two protagonists, one an optimistic physician, the other an anti-hero of sorts. The Etched City isn't your pop-fare type of book, but it's not too high-brow as well, but it does challenge your imagination. For the right mix of fiction and entertainment, you might want to give Bishop a chance.

Waiting by Ha Jin

Occassionally, I'd blindly pick up a book just so I don't end up reading the same type of books over and over again. I gave Waiting a chance as it belonged to Vintage's line of Asian authors. What's evident about the novel is how Ha Jin's writing style is starkly different from Western authors. The story begins in medias res and we witness the love story (or lack of it) of a reluctant man. As can be derived from the title, the theme of the novel is waiting, and it recurs throughout the entire book, even getting philosophical at times. While the text is relatively easy to read, the subject matter can get dragging at times, even if the novel really isn't that long. Waiting is a very peculiar love story and while it's not a book I'll read again, I can't say that buying it was a waste of money.

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Anansi Boys for me can best be described as Gaiman's latest attempt to write a novel-length comedy and achieves mediocre success at best. It's not his first attempt to do so as he did an excellent collaboration with Terry Pratchett on Good Omens, but the comedy of this book seems like Terry Pratchett's style (minus the footnotes) with less of a bang. That's not to say that there aren't funny parts, but they're rather low-key and not the laugh-out-loud type. Thankfully, Gaiman is nonetheless a good writer, period, which is why Anansi Boys isn't simply a punchline type of book. The plot is interesting, and more so the characters. Drawing from African folk lore, among other sources, Anansi Boys has just that right mix of mythical and modernity plus shreds of pop culture and literature (K, anyone?) references. Overall not a bad book but it's also far from Gaiman's best work.

Apple's War on Windows

I know Apple didn't intend it but apparently less than 1% of Video iPods came with the RavMonE virus. While it's not detrimental to Mac, it is for Windows-operated computers.

On a related note, McDonalds/Coca-cola branded mp3 players in Japan come with a trojan worm, so viruses preloaded into your mp3 player might be the latest trend in propagating malware.

From: Engadget


25 November 2006, Saturday
UST St. Thomas Aquinas Research Center
Espana avenue, Manila


Opening Remarks: Alejandro Roces
Introduction of Keynote Speaker: Teresita Erestain
Keynote Address: Azucena Grajo Uranza

“Literature and the New Media”
Chair: Lito Zulueta
Panelists: Dean Francis Alfar, Ian Casocot, Khavn de la Cruz, Marjorie Evasco,
Vim Nadera, Ambeth Ocampo, Charlson Ong

The Jose Rizal Lecture .
Lecturer: Eugenia Duran Apostol

“Literature and Human Freedom”
Chair: Domingo Landicho
Panelists: Boni Ilagan, Malou Jacob, Susan Lara, Danton Remoto, Paz Verdadero Santos

“Literature in a Time of Repression”
Chair: Bienvenido Lumbera
Panelists: Sheila Coronel, Rosario Cruz Lucero, Axel Pinpin, Jun Cruz Reyes, Luis Teodoro, Jose Victor Torres

Conference Coordinator: Elmer A. Ordonez

From: Dean Alfar

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Anime Anime

A few months back I've started watching anime again, mainly because I'm downloading videos for friends and it'd be ironic if I didn't get to watch the shows. Anyway, here are two anime shows that has a special place in my heart.

The first is Martian Successor Nadesico, a show from the late 90's. It's not the first time I've heard of the show but it's only lately did I get to watch the series in its entirety. What appeals to me is its post-modern take on the mecha genre. Aside from the anime-within-an-anime (Gekiganger 3), the plot and pacing draws upon two decades of anime and makes a parody of it. The resolution of the TV series is also priceless, a stark contrast to how similar shows end. Even character death is handled very differently, everything from anti-climatic to seemingly meaningless (but every death has a meaning). Suffice to say, Nadesico is a meta-anime. Or if you've been trapped in a cave for the past two decades, just enjoy it for sheer pleasure.

The other series which I'm engrossed right now is much much older, a product of the 80's lasting until the mid-90's. The title is Legend of Galactic Heroes, a 110-episode anime based on a popular Japanese novel (which is actually quite common). Of course while its track record of 110 episodes is spectacular, what makes it interesting is that it's an OAV release, which is the equivalent of a video-only release. Imagine selling a show through direct-to-video sales alone, and lasting nearly a decade at that.

With regards to the show itself, I just finished the first season and I was blown away. Legend of Galactic Heroes is this huge military space opera, and before I started watching it, I expected there'll be parts where I'll simply get bored. I was wrong though and every episode is as captivating and enthralling as the first, or the last. It also uses a peculiar technique as two worlds are at war and the two protagonists belong to opposite sides. While the two heroes share much similarities with each other, they're also foils of one another and this is developed as the story progresses. A hallmark of the series is its character development as well as the mortality of its characters (this is a war after all). If there's anythng to complain about, it's the cast of thousands which the anime employs. I mean if any of Harry Turtledove's books or Erik Stevenson's Mallazan series was ever turned into an anime, it'd have the same number of supporting cast as Legend of Galactic Heroes.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Of Heroes, of Success

Perhaps it’s the nature of news, or what people find interesting to read, but sifting through the headlines of the past two decades, what’s all too-common are the failures of the nation: crime, corruption, kidnappings, natural disasters, murders, and a failing economy. That’s not to say that the country doesn’t have its own share of achievements. We have scientists making breakthroughs in science, businessmen succeeding in their enterprises, or even the successful arrest of criminal suspects. Yet the real positive newsmakers are our celebrities and sportsmen, from winning beauty pageants to making a name in the international scene via song, dance, or theater, to simply gaining medals for the nation. In light of the gloomy atmosphere surrounding the country where politicians cannot be trusted, successful businessmen are envied but seldom praised, or simple, honest and hardworking men and women are underappreciated, the only heroes the public can cling to are the Lea Salongga’s, the Manny Pacquiao’s, and the Precious Lara-Quigaman’s. Because honestly, who else can they look up to?

Of course critics would complain that all of the news of doom and gloom needn’t have happened if the EDSA revolution was a success. And many detractors would say that it wasn’t, that we’re in the rut right now if the then Cory administration had succeeded in doing their job. So was the first EDSA a success? It all depends on what you thought EDSA stood for. Some people cling to EDSA as if it was the day of judgment, when the wicked would all be punished and the just rewarded. For me, however, it seems foolish to place the hopes of a nation, or even that of an individual, in the hands of one event and one person. Life is not a fairy tale where everything neatly falls into place, that once Prince Charming arrives and saves the day that all problems will be solved. More often than not, it’s simply just the beginning. So what could possibly be the intent of the first EDSA revolution? The most immediate that comes to mind is the toppling of a dictator. And when we look at it from that sense, yes, it was a success. The Marcoses fled the country and while people will argue that the cronies and the family are currently active in local politics again, it’s a far cry from the authoritarian rule they once wielded. At the very least, they are in office by the people’s choice (a flaw of democracy if you will, or of rampant cheating) rather than at a whim of a dictator. Some were hoping that EDSA would install a better government. Well, better is a relative term. In a way, yes, the current government is better than what it was two decades ago. But the problems of our country still exists: poverty, corruption, overpopulation, lack of education, and a horrible solution for land-reform. Some even hope that EDSA would uplift us from the economic pit that we were in back then, and complain that the situation has only grown worse. However, we must remember that EDSA wasn’t so much an economic movement as a political one. We wanted the Marcoses out and so we rallied under Cory Aquino, the unlikeliest of president’s. In fact, we must remember that she didn’t want the position in the first place, and only agreed upon the signatures of Filipinos. What were her credentials for the office? Indeed, her husband Benigno Aquino seemed like the perfect ruler of the country yet he never got the chance and we merely settled for his wife. Can we really blame her if her administration was less than what most people hoped for?

Yet perhaps even if we got the most ideal of presidents and let’s throw in the best cabinet possible, would the Philippines have been better in the six years that followed? There was, after all, the debt we incurred, not to mention the death throes of a post-Marcos regime, from coups to energy crisis to appeasing the various political groups. Even if we had the best politicians, would the trials the Filipino people faced truly have never occurred? And perhaps we should also take into consideration the behavior of our citizens, of our very selves. We ask for long term benefits without willing to sacrifice short term rewards. We condemn corrupt politicians yet secretly yearn for them to be our relatives, our business associates, our family friends. When a scandal breaks out, we quickly look for someone to blame, even if in the end they are merely scapegoats. We are governed by mob rule, and our government surrenders to the mob’s will lest they lose the next election. Are we truly better than our current leaders, or are we simply mirrors of them? When we look back at history and start complaining on how futile everything seems to be, do we not contribute to the existing problem of merely complaining but not acting to resolve it?

If there’s any consolation, it’s perhaps my belief that we are our own worst critics. Every nation has its own share of problems and perhaps we’re too critical of the state of things simply because we’re citizens of the country and our nation is the only perspective we know. Does Japan or America or China think that the Philippines is an abysmal country where reform is impossible? I highly doubt it. In fact, the Japanese are probably just as critical about their own problems as we are of ours. The same goes for the Chinese, or Americans, or whatever country you can think of (well, maybe except Canada). There’s always room for improvement and each nation will always have its own share of challenges. A nation that has a need for heroes is a nation that has a problem that needs to be solved. And what nation doesn’t have its own share of heroes?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Gatchaman Goodness

Newsarama contributor Steve Fritz has a fabulous article on the classic anime series Gatchaman, coinciding with the release of the DVDs.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Chinese/Japanese Characters 101: Lesson 3 Chinese-Japanese Transparency

The language I am most familiar with, first and foremost, is English. Chinese was a subject I was taught for at least eleven years but the lessons at the time didn't seem to sink in. Japanese, on the other hand, was a language I taught myself, and it was easier for me to grasp it thanks to my prior knowledge of Chinese.

This an attempt of mine to share my frugal knowledge on Chinese and Japanese characters. I'm tackling the two, instead of say just Japanese, because for one thing, both languages are linked to each other (or rather it's more proper to say that Japanese is linked to Chinese). Moreover, while there are several books and online webpages there that tackle Chinese and Japanese exclusively, I think it would be more interesting on my part to tackle them both and how they're related to each other.

Based on the previous lessons, one might think that just because you know Chinese you’ll automatically know Japanese (at least the kanji part) and vice versa. Unfortunately, this isn’t true. Will it be easier for you? In a way, yes, especially considering navigating through a Chinese and Japanese dictionary is the same, but I’ll get to that in the future. In the meantime, here are some significant differences.

First is the fact that both Chinese and Japanese might have the same kanji, but they’re pronounced differently. For example, in Chinese, water is pronounced as shui. In Japanese, however, it’s pronounced as mizu. However, that’s just the beginning. In Chinese, you can combine two characters to form a word with a new meaning. I call these compound words, and it’s much like English compound words. In Chinese, when you combine water with the character for location, wei, you get water level. In Japanese, the same characters can be combined to form the same meaning. However, the pronunciation becomes different in Japanese. Alone, water is pronounced as mizu, while the character that’s location in Chinese is pronounced as kurai (its meaning is also slightly different, meaning position or rank instead of a location). Combined, it merely becomes suii. It is important to note that in compound words, Chinese characters are always pronounced the same way, although their meanings can change. Japanese, on the other hand, alters in pronunciation depending on which characters it’s paired up with, as well as its meaning.

Of course sometimes, when you combine the same two characters, their meanings change. For example, huoki in Chinese means anger. Using the same characters for Japanese, you end up with kaki which stands for fire.

There are also situations when the Japanese kanji is supplemented by hiragana characters. For example, the character for new in Chinese is xin. In Japanese, it is atarashii, and it is comprised of a combination of kanji and hiragana.

Then there’s the rare instance when the characters have been corrupted. For example, the Chinese character for book is shu. In Japanese, it’s hon. Yet these are two entirely different kanji characters. Where did the latter get its meaning? Well, hon has a Chinese equivalent. It’s pronounced as ben. It’s normally used as a unit for books. What I mean by unit is that in Chinese, in between a number and a noun is a Chinese character that’s used as a unit. In English, the closest I can think of is storm in a storm of crows or fleet in a fleet of ships. Now ben is usually a unit used to measure printed material, such as books. In Japanese, there are no such things as units. Shu still exists in Japanese, except its meaning is now penmanship rather than book.

Lastly, there are more Chinese characters than Japanese kanji characters. The Japanese government has 1,945 recommended characters to be used as a guideline by the populace but that number is still dwarfed by the number of total Chinese characters. To make a long story short, there will be Chinese characters that do not exist in the Japanese language. It is harder for a Japanese person to learn Chinese compared to a Chinese person to learn Japanese (because the former supposedly has a better mastery of kanji) but the Chinese person will still need to readjust to the different meanings of words he is familiar with, not to mention grammar and syntax. A Japanese learning Chinese, on the other hand, has a lot of kanji to familiarize himself with, in addition to readjusting to the kanji he already knows.

Brand New

There's a certain feeling when you own a brand new item. It feels so raw, so virgin, so perfect... And more often than not, the said item will never be as good as the first time you open it from the box. In a certain way, brand new comic shops also feel like that, except on a bigger, grander scale. The place is well-organized, the displays pretty and complete, and the comic stocks haven't been touched.

The first time I've been to a sparkling brand new comic shop was during college, when CCHQ opened its doors in Katipunan. Last week, Comic Oddysey set up shop at Robinsons Galleria. I wasn't there during the opening day but I got to drop by yesterday and one could easily get mesmerized. At the center of the shop was a box of singles comics, arranged alphabetically. On the right side were displays of graphic novels and toys, arranged either by genre (I.e. X-Men), or by author (i.e. Alan Moore). To the right were various US-translated manga volumes, from the likes of Ouran to more mainstream titles like Naruto.

Anyway, I suggest you drop by during the weekend because Robinsons Galleria will be having its three-day mallwide sale, so you can discounts.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Adding to the list of toys, I mean gadgets, that I want is the HR-28 mp4 player. Aside from supporting DivX and Xvid and your standard fare mp3s, what makes it unique is probably its OS. It has a toned-down Winamp and best of all, a NES and Gameboy emulator. The only thing lacking is memory as it only has 1 GB of storage, but you can increase it via its memory card slot.

From Engadget


One of our photograhers referred to me Pando when he forgot to burn some pictures of our last pictorial. Basically, pando lets you email large files and folders via email, as high as 1 GB. Most email servers have a limit (Yahoo and Google only lets you send up to 10 MB worth of files in a single email) but Pando is a small (no more than 2 MB) P2P program that lets you download large files thanks to an email link (think of it as a .torrent file that gets sent to you via email). Tried it out on our office's Mac OS X and it works terrific, but Windows XP people can enjoy it too (sorry Linux people...).

Monday, October 09, 2006

Chinese/Japanese Characters 101: Lesson 2 Pronunciation

The language I am most familiar with, first and foremost, is English. Chinese was a subject I was taught for at least eleven years but the lessons at the time didn't seem to sink in. Japanese, on the other hand, was a language I taught myself, and it was easier for me to grasp it thanks to my prior knowledge of Chinese.

This an attempt of mine to share my frugal knowledge on Chinese and Japanese characters. I'm tackling the two, instead of say just Japanese, because for one thing, both languages are linked to each other (or rather it's more proper to say that Japanese is linked to Chinese). Moreover, while there are several books and online webpages there that tackle Chinese and Japanese exclusively, I think it would be more interesting on my part to tackle them both and how they're related to each other.

In the previous lesson, we established that Chinese and kanji characters are more like symbols rather than the phonetics common to Western languages. So how does one go about figuring how to pronounce a word?

Let’s take the kanji character for love, “ai”. In Japanese, there’s two ways to write this: in hirigana, and in kanji. Obviously, hirigana will reveal how the kanji character is pronounced. In this case, the kanji character is used more often than not, and resorting to writing ai in hirigana betrayers a person’s lack of familiarity with the language. As a learning tool, certain kanji characters are sometimes accompanied with hirigana characters written above them (and more rarely, katakana characters if the author intends to have the kanji characters pronounced in a different or foreign way). This is called hirigana and can usually be seen in books and comics designed for teenagers (or basically any printed material that’s helping the reader make the transition from hirigana to kanji).

The question you might be asking is why bother with kanji at all if there’s always a hirigana equivalent for it. Well for one thing, as mentioned in the previous lesson, kanji characters speed up the reading process. The other, perhaps more important reason, is that it helps differentiate from other similar-sounding words. In English, it’s what we would call homonyms. There’s only so many letters in the Japanese alphabet and it is inevitable that certain words will be pronounced the same as other words. However, a distinct difference will be how they are written. It could be a different combination of hirigana and kanji characters or simply a different kanji character altogether. Third is the fact that kanji characters are like symbols, and kanji characters are composed of other kanji characters (I call them “root words”). Sometimes, the meaning of root words are related to the kanji character which they’re a part of. For example, in the case of ai, it contains the kanji character for heart, shin. It’s not a significant logical leap to associate heart with love.

Chinese, on the other hand, poses a different problem. Unlike Japanese which has three scripts (hirigana, katakana, and kanji), it simply has one. Its entire alphabet are composed of kanji characters. So how does a Chinese person figure out how to pronounce a word?

Well, there’s zhuyin, which is a pronunciation guide for the Chinese. If the Japanese have furigana which uses hirigana to guide readers on how to pronounce a kanji character, zhuyin is the equivalent of hirigana. However, unlike hirigana, zhuyin is never used as a standalone word but simply exists to show how Chinese characters are pronounced. You can think of them as the funky pronunciation guides preceding the definition of a word in English dictionaries. You only see them when you’re interested in figuring out how a word is pronounced but aside from that, never see it used in formal texts. For each Chinese character, a zhuyin will usually comprise of one or two characters, plus an accent note. Unlike Japanese, Chinese is monosyllabic: that is, there’s only one syllable sound for each character, whereas Japanese characters range anywhere between one to three. To compensate for this lack of variety, Chinese has four accents which act to differentiate similar-sounding words. Nonetheless, Chinese still has homonyms, and either the written characters or familiarity with the usage (in the case of actual conversations) enables people to distinguish between similar sounding words.

Of course if you’re an English speaker, you’ll probably be more familiar with romaji and pinyin. The former is used for Japanese, and is a guide on how to pronounce Japanese words using Roman characters. The latter is like romaji, except it’s used for Chinese characters.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Chinese/Japanese Characters 101: Lesson 1 Signs and Symbols

The language I am most familiar with, first and foremost, is English. Chinese was a subject I was taught for at least eleven years but the lessons at the time didn't seem to sink in. Japanese, on the other hand, was a language I taught myself, and it was easier for me to grasp it thanks to my prior knowledge of Chinese.

This an attempt of mine to share my frugal knowledge on Chinese and Japanese characters. I'm tackling the two, instead of say just Japanese, because for one thing, both languages are linked to each other (or rather it's more proper to say that Japanese is linked to Chinese). Moreover, while there are several books and online webpages there that tackle Chinese and Japanese exclusively, I think it would be more interesting on my part to tackle them both and how they're related to each other.

Japanese has three "alphabets": hiragana, katakana, and kanji (Chinese characters). The first two is pretty much like most of the western languages. Hirigana and katakana act as pronunciation guides, and when we hear certain combination of letters used in conjunction with each other, they form the actual words which we’re familiar with. For example, "I" or "me" in Japanese is watashi. This is usually written in hiragana. It’s when we see the characters of wa, ta, and shi together that we make the mental translation of it meaning "me".

Kanji, on the other hand, doesn’t work that way. There’s no inherent guide on how to pronounce the word. Instead, it’s like signs and symbols. The closest approximation I have for Western culture is that it’s like Egyptian hieroglyphs. Chinese characters are pictograms which convey a certain meaning, depending on the characters used. For example, in Japanese, watashi also has a kanji character. However, it gives readers little insight on how it should be pronounced. However, the advantage of this is that when one is familiar with such characters, it’s faster to comprehend such words. Unlike wa-ta-shi where we process three characters to make sense of a word, the kanji of watashi is simply one character. It’s like seeing a sign on the street: we immediately know what it signifies once we catch a glimpse of it.

The Chinese language only uses kanji. There is no such thing as hiragana or katakana in Chinese. Japanese, on the other hand, can come in hiragana, katakana, kanji, or a combination of hiragana and kanji (there is no mixed combination of katakana and kanji).

Here are other examples of kanji characters: (Pronunciations so far have been in Japanese; the Chinese way of pronouncing them is different, and will be tackled later on.)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Schizo at the Funeral

I should have noticed this earlier but when it's happened three times previously, the shock factor fades into normalcy. In the hodgepodge of religions of our family, my grandfather was in a Catholic church, with a Protestant minister, and Chinese marks all over.

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Howl of Milenyo

It's late in the coming but just in case you were wondering what it was like last Thursday, cooked up in the office amidst a typhoon, you can listen to what we were hearing at the corridors of our building, mainly because one of the tenants left their windows open the day before and didn't bother coming to work (which is a wise decision). And while I do a good impersonation of howling winds, doing it consecutively for two minutes is not one of my talents.

Beam Me Up Scotty... or Just Your Data

Professor Eugene Polzik and his team from the Copenhagen University in Denmark has managed to teleport light. The implication is that still no Star Trek beaming up, but the practical uses of such a discovery is that data can be shared more efficiently and perhaps more importantly, with better safety measures against leaking it.

You can read more about it from either Scientific American or CNN.

From: Engadget

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Hand-Held Translator

Right now I'm basking at the irony of using a web translator to read a webpage about an audio-input translator (scroll down). Just speak into it and the device will translate Japanese into English and vice versa in real time. It's not yet at Star Trek level sophistication, but hey, we're getting there.

From Engadget

Nostalgia + Nickolodeon

Those suffering from Avatar: The Last Air Bender withdrawal symptoms can buy themselves an early Christmas gift: Avatar-themed Lego toys

D&D Cartoon Out on DVD

Ink & Paint will be releasing the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon on DVD on December 5, 2006.

Impossible Feats

I'd post this sooner but the Internet connection at home is still unstable. Whether it can be attributed to PLDT's lousy service in general or due to the recent ravages wrought by the typhoon is best left to the reader to ponder upon.

Anyway, my New Year's resolution for this year was to read 60 books, an increase from the 52 I set for myself last year (FYI, I didn't make it last year, ending the year with having read around 40+ books). Unfortunately, by the end of September, I had just read 28 books, mainly because of a 3-month slump where I didn't really read anything, and the next few months after that has been sparse.

So in order to reach my quota, I have to read 32 books in the next 3 months. That's an average of 11 books in a month. Of course I could cheat and pick up a really thin book, but I won't do that (but I'm not picking up those really thick books either, so sorry Robert Jordan, Knife in Dreams will have to wait). I also didn't count the various graphic novels (you do know that Alan Moore's writing can be dense at times), manga (I'd have met my quota earlier if I did), comics (a single will take me around fifteen minutes?), or RPG books (which I use to make me fall asleep).

So anyone wanna take me up on a wager?

D&D Ads

Starting last year, Dungeons & Dragons started coming out with ads that's equivalent to mud-slinging MMORPGs in general (yes, I know, D&D has its own MMORPG, and I'd like to point out that D&D has its own RTS as well).

This was actually the first ad, which made its debut last year. It wouldn't be until in 2006 that the next one would come out.

So far this is my favorite ad, mostly because of the guy's expression. Either he's a good actor, or the photographer's a good art director (or maybe there's an art director involved in the shoot). In my opinion, this image is something that could only be evoked in print (it wouldn't be as effective if it were a TV commercial for example).

The latest one so far, it's so-so, although I'm sure everyone can relate with the message.