Friday, April 27, 2007

5 seen below

Career change

After an impressive amount of procrastination, I finally sent in my application yesterday. I also changed my mind and applied for environmental science instead of marine biology. I have long been in love with the dream of a career spent almost a hundred percent of the time in the ocean. I wanted to study marine biology first, because I wanted to rescue the whales and dolphins from extinction (I know...I was a little girl!). Then, I saw this documentary about jackass (Who knew?) penguins being rescued from an oil spill in Boulders Beach, South Africa. I felt something like terrible purpose when I watched those penguins get released back into the sea. I wanted to be on the beach, setting those clean penguins free. My heart was really set on marine science, but in the months leading up to now, the passion has been waning. My mind has been turning to other things like conservation, genetics and even writing. For a short time, I thought genetics might be the science for me. I thought that if I couldn't do any research, I could work in a sperm bank. Although now that I think of it, there is no lack for sperm here in the Philippines. I also like the mathematics of genetics, the probabilities. There is also a degree of prescience, which I find fascinating.

My love for writing may again be put to the test. I will soon be making a journey back to the empirical world. I will be getting ready to squeeze out literary creativity to make room for solid science. Don't be surprised if, in a few months, my writing will be wrung dry of romance or imagination. Join me in mourning the imminent demise of my artistic soul.

What finally prompted me to go for environmental science was when my father and I were watching this bit of news about global warming. My dad nodded to the TV and said "Why don't you try this out?" The idea of working on something related to global warming was actually already hop-scotching around in my head at the time. I had just seen An Inconvenient Truth a couple of weeks ago and I had since been thinking of the widespread effects of the phenomenon. I found myself particularly interested in the ecological effects of climate change and considered making a career of it (Sorry, went all geeky there for a second) So, sitting on our blue couch with my puppy lounging on my lap, I thought "What the hell, environmental science it is."

I have a couple of weeks to wait and see if I got into the program. I have my fingers crossed. I need mojo, people! Weirdly apt for the occasion, there's this article in the NY Times about how a dean of admissions got a little nuts about her academic background.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

5 seen below

Graduation 2007, new puppy and Roger Federer

Just a quick recap of things that have been going on.

Last Friday, I finally received a diploma for my four-year (plus one summer) stay at UP Baguio. After a year of being in a vacuum, I feel like the graduation was my final nudge into seriously pursuing my career in marine biology. For the past year, I have been (no other word for it) dawdling. I have taken a job teaching English to Korean children and while there is no lack for kids' winning precociousness, I find that it is a career that will not sustain me. I plan to finish out my contract and then it's the highway for me - the Northern Luzon Expressway, that is. I intend to send in my application to the Marine Science Institute this week. Wish me luck.

The major reason I have not been writing is because of the newest addition to our family, a black labrador mix named Rako. It took a while for us to name him. On the days when we were still waiting for him, my mother took to calling him Blabri (as in black labr(i)ador). I suggested Leonidas, since 300 was still fresh on my mind. My dad didn't like the idea of naming our dog after a warrior king. He said labradors had pleasant dispositions, not at all like the ruthless Spartan leader. Then we thought Shadow, pronounced "Shedow." To make it funnier, we added the tag the aso prounounced "the esow." Shadow the Aso. Shedow the Esow. It didn't stick. Then after a long day of plucking names out of thin air, my father suggested Barako. My mom loves strong coffee. She brews it, and drinks it as it is. No fussiness with how much sugar or cream she wants in her drink. We shortened the name, ending up with Rako. There have been contentions as to how we are to spell the name: Rako or Racco? Apart from being named after a steaming cup of Benguet coffee, he also bears the name of an Italian chef my mother watches on BBC Food.

The other night, while watching a match between Richard Gasquet and Ivan Ljubicic (Gasquet won, yey!), I decided to christen our puppy with a second name: Rako Federer. I told Lem that I was trying to get my dog to like tennis, and he promptly reminded me that I was trying to get a dog to like tennis. I'm not sure what his point was.

Say hello to Rako Federer Follosco.

And speaking of Federer, there was an article on the ATP website about the Swiss being on the cover of Men's Vogue (ohmigod!). There was the unexpected surprise of a link to the online version of the magazine. Wonder of wonders, the full article is open to the public. No membership hoopla, which I vastly appreciated. You can read it here. The icing on the cake is Annie Leibovitz's glamorous photos of Roger and his girlfriend Mirka. In the article, Roger describes how crazy in love he is with Mirka and I felt slightly disappointed. Apart from that, you can also read about how he looks forward to matches with Rafael Nadal, his friendship with Tiger Woods and his home in Dubai. This evening he faces Rafael Nadal for the Monte Carlo Masters crown. (8:00pm, Philippine time, Star Sports)

(Jessica Zafra mentions Roger Federer being in the December 2006 issue of Vogue. I'm still hunting for that one.)

More later.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

6 seen below

Worthy events

Odd things.

This digital art exhibit opened in SM last Saturday. Huge black boxes were put up in the Atrium so that several noted artists could show their most recent pieces of digital photographs. The area was roped off to the public. Inside were artsy rich folk, clad in black and slowly sipping red wine from tulip glasses. They looked extremely pleased with themselves, feeling as if they were living their own version of the New York art scene. They were trying very hard to remain oblivious to everyone on the other side of the ropes. Women with poofy hair speared bland zero-calorie greens from styrofoam plates. Men who were pretending not to be gay were trying to make interesting conversation with the women obsessed with their weight. Hey, look, we're edgy...behind a flimsy blue rope. We were so close, I could have dipped my finger into their expensive wine. Their efforts to ignore the common folk were remarkable. They would not be distracted.

I seriously contemplated dropping fishballs on their coiffed heads from the second floor. Sauce and all. Maika stopped me, pointing out that I shouldn't spend my money on fishballs just so I could pelt rich people with them. It would have been fun.

On my way home last Sunday, I decided to buy garlic from one of the old lady vendors parked under the Km. 0 arc next to Tiong San Harrison. All of a sudden, the old ladies grabbed their baskets, rose as one unit and scuttled away from a gorilla in combat boots. The leather clad goon, who had vaulted over a flower bed, was from the city watch. They were on one of their raids. “Let’s go pick on old ladies who sell vegetables! Let’s confiscate their only source of income and laugh about it while shining our boots!”

I, normally jaded and unfeeling, was shocked for a minute. My fingers were already around two five-peso coins to pay for my garlic. There was a small explosion of surprise in my chest as I looked at the scene unfolding around me. It happened very quickly. The manang was getting ready to bag my purchase one moment then vanished in a cloud of dust the next. I was rooted to the ground for a full minute before I realized I had to leave. Fucken cops. I wanted my damn garlic.

As I was walking away, I noticed one lady hadn’t been as quick as her companions. She was locked in a tug-of-war with one of the goonies. He had the muscle but she had determination. They struggled in a deadlock for a while, then some seemingly random thing happened. The copper adjusted his grip slightly to gain more ground. Manang saw it as an opportunity to make her move. Somehow still clutching her basket, she grabs a tomato, aims aaand…throws! The tomato hits the cop squarely on the right shoulder, with juice and seeds spraying wildly across his outraged features. “Naglastog nga baket daytoy! (Insolent woman!)” he roars, taking several menacing steps forward. The manang, still dangerously within arms’ length (that humanoid had a very long reach), shouts back her own profane retort. With a last grunt of a challenge, she turns purposefully and disappears into the crowd. And somewhere, a cosmic scoreboard lights up for the underdogs.

Then yesterday, when Maika, Lei and I were in Kamiseta at SM Baguio, all the lights went out. (Maika wants everyone to know she was very brave when it happened. She didn't scream like a girl.) The saleslady rushed to the doors and shut everyone inside. It was just like in the movies: "Bar all those doors. Nobody goes in or out." I also chose that moment to yell, “Quick! Grab something.” I was joking, of course. –ish.
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