Thursday, October 18, 2012

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Things I Love Thursday

I'm back in the big city and have been feeling a bit grey. I've been trying to finish a couple of papers for a class I kind of neglected last year. The writing is not going as smoothly as I imagined, so I've been angry and frustrated in turns. In the past, I've gotten out of my hole by thinking about things that make me happy. I've always wanted to do a Things I Love Thursday* post, so I thought this is a good time to start.

1. Green cargo shorts - The big city is sweltering. Right now, my favorite thing to wear is this comfortable pair of green cargo shorts I found while thrifting some months ago. I'm practically living in them. And more pockets are always excellent.

2. iPod skins - I ordered a couple of skins for my iPod from stickitskins on Etsy and they arrived recently. They are pretty. My iPod is pretty. I feel pretty. (I love getting things in the mail.)

3. Mendeley - Mendeley is a free reference manager, basically a cheap alternative to Microsoft EndNote. I've been using it for about two years now, and it's been a godsend. It lets me organize my document files in my own arcane way, so it appeals to my obsessive compulsive tendencies. I can also tag my articles and search for specific content. There's a Web version too, so I can access shared folders wherever I am. It's perfect for when I'm cramming writing for work and/ or school. Nerd up, yo.

4. Charcoal leather flipflops - These flipflops are reasonably priced and extremely comfortable. They make me want to forget shoes altogether. They're also good for my skin, which has been recently revealed to

5. The Elements of Style by Strunk/ White/ Kalman - The "little book" with Maira Kalman's illustrations is quite lovely. With her drawings, the elegant classic is pleasantly whimsical, but maintains its gloriously self-assured tone. (I wonder now if I bought it to resuscitate my ailing writing skills.)

6. Looper (dir. Rian Johnson) - My friend Joyce and I saw Looper when it opened yesterday. JGL puts in a strong performance. Bruce's badassery is indisputable. I think they could've dropped the prosthetics (although JGL may be too beautiful for the intended grittiness). Science fiction was sound (hm?) - time travel is always a good crowd-pleaser.

7. My running shoes - They are like air.

*Things I Love Thursday is a project started by Gala Darling whose philosophy is to live in the present and focus on the positive things around us.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

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Making positivi-tea.

You guys. Sometimes, I think about taking down Baguio Below because I barely write here anymore. It's been a good run, but perhaps it's time to move on. Nonetheless, it is early and deathly cold in the mountains, and these conditions make me introspective and compel me to inflict my thoughts on the universe.

I have been making a point to do good things for myself lately.

First, I have been trying to eat better. I'd been thinking about transforming my eating habits for a while, since I'd been steadily gaining weight since I left college in 2006. Many people I haven't seen for a long time often use my weight gain as an icebreaker. One gets used to it, but sometimes I wish I owned a samurai and that laws regarding evisceration were more forgiving. I kid, I kid. Anyway, coming back, I have decided to eat better (not less, as it were). So more vegetables and fruits, and less of the deliciously evil things. But not chocolate. I can't seem to get rid of chocolate.

Also, I lost my long hair and am now wearing a 'do that dates back to my senior year in high school. The change has been invigorating, I like to think I shed a lot of bad energy. There would be a picture, but I am bleary.

Another thing is that I have resolved to read more books that I borrow. Hanna and I regularly have an exchange, and I have a growing pile of just her books. Several of them have been with me for months now. I also have some of Nicole's, many of which have been with me for so long, they are practically mine. My friends have been very kind to loan me their books, so I shall read them. This will also allow me to talk to said friends about said books, and not be a disappointment when they ask how I liked them. (Movies are another story).

Finally, I have also decided to start running again. I've been preparing for it (mostly, mentally), and I feel I have reached the point where I am ready for implementation.

I should go make some tea now. Later.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

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Roger Federer (SUI) def. Andy Murray (GBR) 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 (Photo source)

It's been a week since Roger Federer won his 7th Wimbledon title.

On the night of the Final, I was nervous. It had been two years since Federer had won a major, and if he was going to win another, it was likely to happen on his favorite surface. But Andy Murray, his opponent, had a winning head-to-head record against him. He was also the home favorite, the British eager to end an eight-decade drought.

The first set was harrowing, and it certainly appeared that the powers-that-be were giving Murray the nod. But Federer held on for the second, and things evened out. Then 1-1 on serve in the third, Federer leading 40-love, play was suspended due to rain. The match stalled for nearly 30 minutes while officials closed the roof over Centre Court. When play resumed, it was a different Federer that stepped out unto the grass. He moved better and faster, made fewer errors, and kept finding the corners and lines. The crack of the ball connecting with his racquet sounded, somehow, more intent.

I haven't written here in a long time, but I felt I had to for this, because a lot of what this blog was about for a long time was Roger Federer. And this Wimbledon was particularly special. There are the obvious reasons, of course: this tournament is his 17th Grand Slam (he holds the record for most won in the Open Era); it is his 7th win at sw19 (he is now level with Pete Sampras); and he has regained his place as World No. 1 (which is almost like an afterthought).

Then, there are the less obvious reasons.

There are younger, stronger players out there (grunting beasts terrified of approaching the net), and Roger Federer is getting older and slowing down. These other guys have discovered he can be beaten, resulting in some disappointing losses over the last couple of years. He no longer dominates the game the way he did five, or even four, years ago. Now, he's in it with the rest of them, in the melee. Federer has never been more exposed. He is playing as a mortal, without his superpowers, but is still able to win Grand Slams. The man's got style.

Also, he beat Novak Djokovic, arguably the best player in the world today, in the semi-final. That guy gets under my skin, but I'll try to be objective here. Or not. Federer beating that upstart was immensely satisfying.

Few things are more beautiful than Roger Federer at Wimbledon. His game is suited for grass, and this year, he looked especially nimble. The Final was a demonstration of precisely what it means to play on the surface. He engaged net play and used serve-and-volley to great effect. His serve was accurate, and his shots from the baseline were absolutely lethal. The elegant angled backhand for the break to 3-2 in the fourth is the kind of genius Federer fans live for. If this truly is the age of his decline but such sublime tennis is still possible, surely this is the stuff of legend.

I have always felt that the events in my life have resembled the dips and swells in Roger Federer's own journey. It has been a challenging few years, but there have been moments of pure magic. And maybe we are seeing the end of his golden era...but what a magnificent end it is turning out to be.

P.S. I have nothing but affection for Andy Murray, and he will have his time.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

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On The Exchange...

...we are reading 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami.

Joss Whedon is my master

A comprehensive article on Joss Whedon on GQ, "The Geek Shall Inherit the Earth."

"Buffy gets made in 1992 by director Fran Rubel Kuzui, with Kristy Swanson as Buffy. It isn't terrible, but it plays way campier than Whedon wanted it to be. He'd imagined it as a pop feminist allegory about a young woman discovering her own strength; it ends up just being about a cheerleader fighting vampires. After that, he does a lot of script-doctoring work, hired-gun stuff, lucrative and frustrating; writes most of the dialogue for Speed but gets arbitrated off the credits; rewrites the original Toy Story, which becomes the first animated movie ever nominated for a Best Screenplay Oscar; punches up Twister and the Kevin Costner maritime disaster Waterworld."

(Image from article)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

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My week in random bullet points

Just a few things:

  • I am a fickle blogger, but like to avoid the customary preamble explaining my absence.
  • I enjoy reading other people's stuff. If you like, you can leave me your blog address in the comments section. I will likely follow you if you write about, as Rob Gordon puts it, the important things: books, movies, music. However, if you are also given to ranting and/ or griping about your life, that is also fine, because obviously it is your blog.
  • Flipboard is probably the best thing to happen to me this month. I've never been happier to browse my feeds. Everything is so clean and pretty.
  • I'm struggling with my reading in Manila because it is just too frakking hot. But being home (yes, in Baguio now), I'm looking to Christopher Moore to get me out of this slump. (In other news, you can add me on Goodreads.)
  • I walked around town with my little brother this afternoon, and we talked about traveling and markets. I'm discovering what it's like to have a conversation with an adolescent sibling. It is very new and interesting.
  • It is cool here at night, and my soul dry sobs at the thought of having to go back to sleeping in hell.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

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Just a couple of updates (21 April 2012; I know, I know, these should have been up earlier.): The Temporary Environmental Protection Order issued to SM has been extended until the case against them is resolved (13 April 2012)Suddenly, there is talk of soil erosion happening on Luneta Hill and that constructing a seven-storey building and a parking lot will help address it (18 April 2012). Eh? How convenient. One of the earliest environmental lessons we are taught is that the presence of vegetation reduces erosion.


The community is in an uproar about the 182 trees SM City Baguio is cutting down (What's all this crap about earthballing?) to make room for additional parking space. The most recent piece of news is SM refuses to comply with a court order demanding it cease its midnight felling. The idea of losing those trees just for parking sickens me. I love Baguio. I love its trees. God knows I love the environment. But I have been feeling torn about the protests. I think we're barking up the wrong tree (ha-ha).

SM City Baguio is a shopping mall. Their primary objective is to make money. When fulfilling their "social/ environmental responsibility," they simply push the use of green bags and hang up poster boards about "protecting the environment." I'm sorry to say this, but that's all we can really expect from them. SM is a money-making enterprise, not a conservation initiative. Henry Sy is a businessman, not a public servant. So, I don't think the "Shame on you, SM" argument is going to fly with me. Who are we kidding?

We've all spent years going to SM Baguio. We've shopped there, eaten there, seen movies there. I'm a sucker for their Bills Payment Center. They've made life a hell of a lot easier. We overlooked the fact that before there was SM, there happened to be a greenspace on Luneta Hill. A true greenspace with aesthetic and ecological value. And I'll tell you, there were a lot more than 182 trees. But we went to SM anyway. Our memories are so short. Now it's happening again, we're so quick to turn on The Big Bad Corporation. We've lapped up the convenience of having a mall, and suddenly we're all so indignant about 182 trees.

What did we expect, honestly? We were screwed the moment SM Development was allowed into the City. We lost those trees the moment esteemed members of the city council had their pockets lined with Big Bad Corporation dough. Bayad na eh. Matagal na. It pisses me off that the failings of those actually responsible for the ecological well-being of this City are only an afterthought in this battle for the trees. Members of the local government, these so-called public servants, have betrayed us time and time again. Oh sure, there have been different faces, but it's the same inadequate administration. They allowed SM to colonize our City, among other lamentable crimes. These supposed leaders opened their legs for commercialism, and have been whoring away Baguio's soul since. They condone the actions of SM now, and are getting away with it. Development in our City has been going in the wrong direction for a long time.

A couple of weeks ago, this article appeared in the Baguio Midland Courier and sent me off the rails. A little bit from that piece:

"The city council committee on health, sanitation, and environment stated that it is not the proper body to act on the demand of concerned groups opposed to the project for the council to support their cause."

So who exactly, if not a committee for the environment, should have been keeping an eye on the trees?

In Camp John Hay, even more widespread clearing of trees has been happening under our noses. These pine trees are getting cut down to accommodate the construction of hotels and townhouses people from Baguio can't afford themselves. The pine cover in the trails are thinning out while the area for golf courses appears to be increasing. Important fern and shrub species are getting cleared with no thought as to how this might affect the ecosystem. Camp John Hay is an urban greenspace, if there ever was one. It is a habitat, provides clean air, and improves the climate. It is one of the few remaining areas near the center with a pine forest. Who is looking out for the trees and the plants there? The people of Baguio must fight for ALL of the trees.

The 182 have become famous. But if you ask me, it shouldn't have gotten to a point where we could already count the trees.

(Also, while we're at it, bakit kasi kailangan ng additional parking sa SM? Dahil marami na masyadong kotse at taxi sa Baguio. Nakakapikon.)
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