Saturday, April 25, 2009


From what I’ve seen in some countries in Europe and Asia that I’ve been to in the course of my work, pedestrian lanes are respected by drivers and pedestrians alike. People crossing the streets use the lanes where available. Drivers slow down when approaching pedestrian lanes and stop if there’s someone crossing. What I’ve seen in many instances in my country, particularly in Quezon City where I live and in the capital city of Manila where I used to reside, is that pedestrian lanes are like a magnet to many drivers. Many don’t care if there’s a pedestrian lane ahead, they don’t slow down nor stop even if there’s already a person OR persons crossing the street. At the sight of a pedestrian lane, they speed up, as if the white lines are pulling their vehicles to run faster. Sometimes, the drivers don’t even give a hoot if the pedestrian signals that he/she wants to cross. When the light turns red, drivers stop their vehicles on top of pedestrian lanes while waiting for the green light, effectively covering the area where pedestrians are supposed to safely and comfortably cross. The drivers of these private or public transport vehicles/public utility vehicles (PUVs) EXPECT the people on the pedestrian lane to GIVE WAY TO ONCOMING VEHICLES. Now how can pedestrians with just legs contest the conviction of people who control the steering wheel and the brake of three-, four-, six-wheeled vehicles? Many drivers speeding up to the pedestrian lane are seemingly competing with the pedestrians as to who gets to cross the line first—even if the pedestrians ARE already walking over the lane.

I’ve observed that drivers of PUVs on the road (in the Philippines, that’d be mainly jeepneys, tricycles, taxis, buses) (and throw in also delivery trucks of some companies) are more pedestrian-blind than drivers of private vehicles, even though there are also this breed among the latter. And among the PUVs, I’ve also observed that the most disrespectful of pedestrians and pedestrian lanes are drivers of jeepneys (usually 17-seater vans), and tricycles (usually four-seaters, where a covered seat with a wheel is attached to a motorbike). I surmise that it could be due to the drivers’ plain ignorance of road rules; eagerness to earn money so all their focus is on their income for the day, never mind the rights and safety of other road users; lack of proper licensing/training/information-sharing on road rules at the concerned government agency; corrupt traffic officers who look the other way in exchange for grease money (corruption which also might have started in the concerned government agency); and other reasons. Of course, these drivers also violate many other road rules and laws, like their habitual swerving or suddenly going out of lane with nary a light or hand signal (see photo below), and I go back to the same reasons I cited in the previous sentence. And no proper law implementation by the authorities, no apprehension, and the presence of corruption breeds undisciplined drivers. That’s why traffic in the Philippines is one of the worst in the world.

Be careful
So if you’re visiting my country and you happen to be crossing the street on a pedestrian lane, watch out!!! Give way to that speeding vehicle. Run for your life!!! Hurry up or you might not make it to the other side of the street (and you'll make it to the hospital or worst-case scenario). Be ready to be scolded by the driver for blocking the way!!! (And which has happened to me a few times.) Congratulations if you happen to encounter drivers who respect you and many other Filipinos who dutifully use the pedestrian lane. And you’ll continue to live and enjoy the Philippines's many tourist spots (like Tagaytay City's Taal Volcano, said to be the world's smallest volcano, in photo from and the delightful food that the localities offer, in the company of genial hosts. :)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Susan Boyle's dream

Another of God's angels has descended on stage via "Britain's Got Talent," and showed 'em what she's really got, despite initial smirks from the judges and catcalls from the audience. Susan's video on YouTube, 20 million-plus hits as of this time, brings me to tears each time I watch it. And I've been watching it since yesterday. Especially that "I've Dreamed a Dream," which Susan sang, bringing her audience to an ovation, is one of my all-time favorite songs. The link to Susan's YouTube of that song is below (embedding has been turned off by YouTube), and the actual video from Yahoo Video (thanks for the posters) (the YouTube video has a better audio than the Yahoo Video version). Below that link is another link to her re-discovered version of "Cry Me a River," which she recorded in 1999 for a charity CD that also featured other singers (thanks, too, to the poster in YouTube). Only 1,000 copies of that CD have been pressed. I'm sure Susan will have more songs and CDs to delight audiences worldwide who will make all her dreams come true. Hurray, Susan!

Susan Boyle: I Dreamed a Dream

Judge 1 couldn't help but clap with amazement. Judge 2's jaw dropped the minute Susan started her song. Judge 3 (famous for his
acerbic comments for contestant's performances) couldn't repress his pleased smile duringSusan's song.

Susan Boyle: Cry Me a River

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Yesterday, Easter Sunday, I regret that I still wasn't able to carry out the plan I've had for years to attend the Easter rites and early Mass in Sampaloc district, Manila, where my family and I used to live about 11 years ago. Parishes around the Philippines have their own Easter rites in the early morning, but the one in our former place in Sampaloc is extra special because it's also the feast (or fiesta) day in the area, specifically for the streets surrounding the chapel of Balumpare (a combination of the words "balon" [water well] and "pari" [priest]--because it's said that in olden times, many priests lived in the area and they fetched water from a well in one street corner which later was replaced by a faucet). Thus Easter Sunday being the area's feast day, there's a steel arch as tall as a two-storey house that's been permanently installed in a street corner about 10 houses away from the chapel. The arch is the center of dawn festivities to celebrate the feast of the Risen Lord. On that day, the arch is decorated with many flowers, lights, and veils. A big paper flower is hanged from the arch's center, in which a little girl or boy will emerge as an angel who will pull up the veil that covered the face of an image of the Virgin Mary. The image was placed underneath the arch by a procession of people. The pulling up of the veil, done along with the live singing of a choir, symbolizes the end of the suffering of Mary over the death of Jesus, as also symbolized by the image of the Risen Lord, which was also placed underneath the arch. Then, together the two images will be led by the procession to the chapel, and the Mass will be held. After the Mass, the streets of the place, which is also decorated by buntings, will be filled with different games organized and participated in by the residents. Toward noontime, the streets will be filled with vehicles as visitors from other places arrive to partake of a hearty lunch in the houses, and also to take part in more street activities in the afternoon like more games, bicycle stunts exhibitions, and other mini-shows in the streets. Throughout the day, a marching band goes around the streets playing anything from old songs to the latest hits. A group of curious kids would usually follow the band as it went in and out the roads. Later in the afternoon, another procession emerges from the chapel. The evening is highlighted with a free show on a stage built somewhere in the area. An amateur singing contest among the residents is usually held (actually the finals night since the eliminations would have been held the night before on the same stage). It's also usual that some invited celebrities would drop by to regal the crowd with a song or two, or just to give their greetings on stage.

I certainly miss that feast day in our old place. Especially since the arch I mentioned earlier was just beside our old two-storey house, and I could watch the solemn and colorful proceedings right from my bed or window. There were also times that the evening show was held on the corner across our house, and, again, we always had a good view of the show. The only drawback was that the show always ended in the wee hours of the morning, and the loudspeakers were blaring right toward our house, too. But, well, it was fiesta time and the little disturbance was part and parcel of the merrymaking.

I do intend to carry out my plan of visiting our old place in the next year's Easter, and relive some more memories of the years we spent there.

Happy Easter, everyone!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Summer ripe

Earlier in this blog, I wrote about mouth-watering green, crispy Philippine mangoes, particularly dipped into "bagoong" (shrimp/fish paste) before eating. Well, the Philippines is now in its summer or dry season, and this is much proven not only by the swe
ltering heat but also by the abundance of fruits in the market. Local fruits that always make their appearance around this dry season. Foremost among these fruits in taste and aroma are the ripened Philippine mangoes. With their golden-yellow to yellow-ochre smooth skin and tender meat, ripe Philippine mangoes are simply the best, yearned for not only by Filipinos but by any foreigner who is lucky to taste them. It's also said that ripe Philippine mangoes were a favorite of the late Pope John Paul II, who was a visitor to the country for at least two times. And I've heard a number of stories of people going abroad trying to bring with them these mangoes from the Philippines, even basketsful if only the customs people will allow them. Because, really, each bite, each mouthful, of these mangoes is an experience. Your taste buds savor the juicy, tender, sweet meat of the mangoes, and you forget your name. Especially if the mangoes are cooled for a while in the refrigerator, whole or already sliced. If eating the mango fresh isn't your jive, you can also take it as a dried fruit, usually made, and neatly packed into plastic bags, in Cebu province in central Philippines (mangoes are produced by various Philippine provinces, but I've heard that the best come from either Guimaras, which is also in central Philippines, and Zambales in Luzon island, which is upper north of the country). If dried mango still isn't to your liking, you can order at the restaurant, or make it yourself, ripe mango shake, smoothie, or juice (by the way, green mango can also be taken any of these ways). Perfect for cooling off this summer. Hmmm...for those with really sweet tooth, there's also the variations of mango cake or pie from Philippine bakeshops, like the mango-cashew roll from Red Ribbon and mango bravo cake from Conti's, among other well-known bakeshops in the country. Well, then, don't wait for summer to end and for the Philippine mangoes to take their break. Grab one now, or better yet, a basketful! Errr..wanna try some mango ice cream, too?

Image of ripe mangoes from