Archive of ‘try this’ category

nakaya piccolo kuro-tamenuri

A Nakaya fountain pen, no matter the price, comes beautifully packaged in a simple pauwlonia wood box with a pen wrap. It’s just one more instance of the company’s attention to detail, their commitment to giving their customers not only quality products but also a satisfying experience.

Every Nakaya fountain pen comes with a pen wrap like this one – its own kimono, if you will.

I prefer my Nakayas without clips. They have a tendency to roll on flat surfaces, but I find the sleek uninterrupted line true to the aesthetic, the finish gleaming unbroken along its length. 

The kuro-tamenuri finish is black lacquer upon red. In time, the lacquer will become more translucent, and more of the red underneath will start to show through. This pen is about four years old; its color was darker when I acquired it over two, maybe three, years ago from Leigh. 

The parts of a Piccolo: cap, barrel, nib and feed, and converter, filled with ink. See the ink bubble inside.

Writing sample with the stock flexible fine nib. There is good line variation, and I’d probably get more if I were better at calligraphy. As it is, it’s a modern nib that flexes much like vintage ones.

“Love is a Memory” is the title of an essay simmering on the stove (it’s what I had workshopped at this year’s University of the Philippines National Writers Workshop last April). Excerpts from the essay are here, here, and here.

taste more:

new at starbucks philippines september 2011

Starbucks Philippines finally figured out that the perfect complement to their coffee in the mornings is a more substantial breakfast than they had been wont to serve.

This August, customers all over Manila were delighted to find new breakfast offerings.

 Apart from the breakfast, there’s new merchandise too, in the warm earthy colors of fall.

Via ceramic cup with lid, a great partner to Starbucks’ instant coffee. I got the orange one. It gives a more ‘morning coffee’ feel to my first-thing-when-I-get to-the-office java, than in a plastic tumbler.

The familiar tall plastic tumblers in a Via version. 

The Starbucks Anniversary designs always feature the original siren. The brown echoes the hues of coffee.

Here’s what’s new – a glass water bottle. The steel tumbler also boasts a new color scheme.

As always in each seasonal merchandise collection, there is a gaggle of gaily-colored plastic tumblers, these covered in a drift of autumn leaves. 

Photos taken with a Nokia C3 at the Harbour Square (Pasay City) and Greenbelt 1 (Makati City) branches.

taste more:

pop goes the world: in the eye of the beholder

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  15 September 2011, Thursday

In the Eye of the Beholder      

Keyboards ceased clattering. Phones stopped humming. Work ground to a halt in the country the other morning as people downed tools to watch the live airing of this year’s Miss Universe pageant. It was said that the Philippines stops for only two things – the Miss U contest, and Manny Pacquiao fights.

Such is our fascination with the contest, which was established in 1952. Year after year, people have sat glued to their sets to watch how our candidates fare. Those at work had to rely on word-of-mouth for the results, and watch the replay at a later date. But with the Internet now providing the live feed, anyone with a broadband connection could watch it. The contest this year garnered more interest, with the well-beloved Shamcey Supsup fighting other Amazonian beauties to uphold the pulchritude of Filipinas on the world stage.

Shamcey was a pambato on many levels. Physically, she is a gorgeous specimen. But what’s more interesting is her blazing intelligence – a magna cum laude Architecture graduate of the University of the Philippines and Board topnotcher? Her future offspring would be formidable if they inherit her combination of beauty and brains, assuming she has them with a male of such impeccable DNA as herself.

Whether or not she should have won is a moot point. Beauty contests are subjective. The question is why someone as intelligent and talented as Shamcey, who has proven the quality of her brains in the academic arena, should still seek to validate her physical worth as well in a contest that looks primarily at appearance.

Shamcey Supsup’s Philippine Architecture Board exam result here.

We know the question-and-answer portion is a mere accommodation to deflect accusations of shallowness. If you really wanted to test a person’s intellect, then ask them to solve an algebra problem or write an essay. Pageant questions generally ask what a contestant would do given a certain scenario. The answers are usually grounded on the candidate’s cultural background, which the judges, who also come from different backgrounds, may not entirely agree with. So how can the Q & A be considered as a serious criterion for choosing a winner? No, it’s still primarily the looks.

And there we see that no matter how long the feminist battle has waged, it’s still the world’s commercial standards of beauty that prevail. Women all over the world strive to reach this ideal. Many spare no expense for cosmetic surgery and dentistry. Advances in knowledge and technology in cosmetic surgery have made it easier for non-contestants – the average person – to look like a “Miss U” candidate.

Those who can afford the procedures end up looking like each other, blank-faced Barbie dolls with breasts larger than nature can make them, their foreheads immovable from Botox. (Google images of US reality show celeb Heidi Montag.)

What’s alarming is how, in the process of socialization, these standards of beauty are being applied to younger females. Children have always been sexualized at various points in history; the question is, is it in their best interest for adults to allow this, in this day and age that we supposedly know better? Can we not protect children from this trend?

But in America, for instance, we see how child beauty pageants are so popular that there’s even a reality show for it – “Toddlers and Tiaras”.  Girls as young as two are dressed in frills and made-up. Those six and older sport fake eyelashes, elaborate hairstyles, and are made to look as much like adult women as possible.

Some studies have linked preoccupation with appearance to dissatisfaction with body image, trust issues, impulse disregulation. Other women suffer from eating disorders – anorexia, bulimia – or put other forms of pressure on themselves as they struggle to conform to the world’s notions of beauty. Is this worth chasing after?

We need to revisit our ideas of beauty and body image. Filipinos are racist. Some have expressed dissatisfaction with the victory of Miss Angola, the lovely Leila Lopes, because of her skin color. Otherwise, they said, she had attractive facial features and a great body. This mindset hearkens back to our colonial mentality. It’s a cultural disadvantage that prevents us from seeing more beauty and goodness in the world.

The debate will rage on. One thing is certain – our fascination with beauty and beauty pageants will not go away.

* * * * *

Education through entertainment: Web developer Bea Lapa announced the release of an “edutainment” online game that will help children learn about history and geography by taking a virtual trip on “Janjan the Jeepney”.

The game took three years to develop and is a pro bono project of Anino Games, Inc., the Cultural Center of the Philippines, and the now-abolished Commission on Information and Communication Technology. Says Lapa, “It’s part of our mission to uplift Filipino talent and culture and support our education sector.”

The game is free for access at http://janjanthejeepney.com/.

* * * * *

Art Alert: Controversial artist Mideo Cruz’s all-paintings show “Phases of Ra” runs from October 8 to 29 at Gallery Duemila, Pasay City. In this group of portraits in oil on canvas, Cruz looks at “the representation of power and how the public assigns reverence to those who have it.” The images are of the elite of society, but with the heads “replaced by filled-in or imprints of circles, a direct reference to Ra, the Egyptian sun-god.”

Mideo Cruz, “Eclipse”. Oil on canvas. 36 x 36 inches. From the artist’s Facebook page.

“I always look at how people attribute to sacredness to a thing,” Cruz says. “I try to deconstruct those things and put parallel meanings to them.”

Long interested in the “dynamics of belief systems,” Cruz’s works ask: “Why do we sanctify something and how do we arrive at doing so? In this cycle of paintings, he asks us to look at the “neo-deities” and see why we revere them because what we hold in high regard says much of ourselves.” ***

Shamcey Supsup image here. Toddler in tiara here. Leila Lopes here. Janjan the Jeepney here.

taste more:

jo malone orange blossom cologne

It’s not available in the Philippines yet, but it’s something Pinay fashionistas feel they absolutely must have – Jo Malone fragrances. Some have resorted to buying online or asking relatives abroad to do so. Others travel themselves and bring back the geometric bottles in the signature yellow-and-black packaging.

A friend went to Bangkok and brought this back for me.

Jo Malone started her business by giving facials in her kitchen at night. At 19 she met Gary, the man who became her husband, and her home-based dabbling in beauty and fragrance took off after that. She launched her first store in 1994, in London. Her products proved so popular that lines snaked outside the store at Christmas.

In 2006 she sold the business in its entirety to Estee Lauder.  But her desire to share with others the fragrances she concocts led her to start a new company, Jo Loves, which launched this year. By Christmas all 40 new products will have been released, sporting dark red packaging.

My friend chose Jo Malone’s Orange Blossom cologne for me. “The scent of clementine leaves in the morning dew sparkles above a heart of orange blossom and water lily, transporting the wearer to a garden oasis,” reads the ad copy. I spray it on in the morning and smell like a basket of oranges; I smell good enough to squeeze.

taste more:

swarovski white pearl ballpoint pen

While I use fountain pens exclusively for note-taking, signing documents, and making lists and checking them twice, there are situations when only a ball-point will do – filling up carbon-copy bank forms, doodling on napkins, and poking things to see if they’re naughty or nice.

But of course it can’t just be any old BP. It’s got to be special, blingy, and blindingly handsome. Like this one.

It’s a Swarovski BP in White Pearl.

 The lower part of the barrel is metal painted a pearlescent white, while the upper part is clear plastic filled with Swarovski crystals. They are fixed; they do not move within the barrel.

The brand name is engraved on the clip. Seen up close, the crystals are shaped like faceted diamonds.

The fill system inside is unusual. I have no idea how I will replace the ink refill later on.

The combination of white and crystal is elegant and timeless; this is a pen to treasure and use often.

taste more:

nakaya piccolo cigar

The Nakaya Piccolo Cigar is a triumph of understated design. It draws on the Japanese aesthetic – simple, clean, minimal. Its lines are sleek and elegant. It is a zen koan brought to life.

Nakaya calls this model the “Cigar” because it is sans clip; their model with clip is called “Writer”.

The black lacquer finish on this one gleams subtly, an inky pool that laps up light.

The Piccolo is Nakaya’s shortest size.

Uncapped, it’s just right for my hand. I try not to post the cap when using it so as not to scratch the barrel finish, though urushi wears pretty well.

The nib is, as all Nakaya nibs are, reliable from the get-go and doesn’t skip nor railroad.

The 14-k gold medium stock nib is firm with a hint of spring. It is perfect for note-taking and daily use.

This pen was rehomed from bleubug two years ago. I’d put it away for safekeeping, but lately I’ve been thinking, Life is short. Let’s use the good china – and the fountain pens.

So I took it out of hibernation and let it rock.

Nakaya Piccolo Cigar, black Wajima urushi nuri finish. It poses at the Senate of the Philippines (Senate seal in the background).

“Wajima” is the area in Japan where world-renowned lacquerware – urushi – has been produced since the 16th century. Nuri means “coating”. Nakaya Fountain Pen Company artists work with a Wajima-based company for the urushi finishes for their pens. The lacquer work is a painstaking, labor-intensive process. It takes a couple of months of expert craftsmanship to build up the urushi finish by hand on the ebonite base of a Nakaya fountain pen.

The Piccolo Cigar rests on a Pocket Moleskine on my lap. Since the pen does not have a clip, it has a tendency to roll on flat surfaces. One of these days I might get a roll stopper for it like this one. I’d like a horse or a cat.

More than a functional object, it is a work of art. It is a marvel of Japanese engineering and design. With my Nakaya, I feel I can take over the world. Or, at the very least, stylishly make notes on how to get it done.

taste more:

2011 carlos palanca memorial awards for literature winners and judges

Here are the winners and judges of this year’s Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature – the 61st Palanca Awards.

The awarding ceremony will take place tonight (September 1) at the Manila Peninsula Hotel, Makati.

 

ENGLISH DIVISION:

Essay

1st – Jennifer Rebecca L. Ortuoste (The Turn for Home: Memories of Santa Ana Park)

2nd – Jeena Rani Marquez-Manaois (The River of Gold)

3rd – Rosario Cruz-Lucero (The Stain of Blackberries)

 Full-length Play

1st – Joshua L. Lim So (A Return Home)

2nd – Peter Solis Nery (If The Shoe Fits)

3rd – Jonathan R. Guillermo (Freshmen)

One-act Play

1st – Floy C. Quintos (Evening at the Opera)

2nd – No Winner

3rd –No Winner

Short Story

1st – Asterio Enrico N. Gutierrez (The Big Man)

2nd – Alexis A.L. Abola (Disappearance)

3rd – Johannes L. Chua (Prodigal)

Short Story for Children

1st – Georgina Veronica (Nikki) Alfar (Tom Yum)

2nd – Georgianna R. de Vera (Tatay, Through Wind and Waves)

3rd – Benjamin Pimentel (Gagamba, the Spider from the Islands)

Poetry

1st – Eliza A. Victoria (Maps)

2nd – Lourdes Marie S. La Viña (Stones and Other Poems)

3rd – Simeon P. Dumdum, Jr. (Maguindanao)

Poetry for Children

1st – Cynthia Baculi-Condez (The Universe and Other Poems)

2nd – Peter Solis Nery (The Shape of Happiness)

3rd – Kris Lanot Lacaba (The Shaggy Brown Chicken and Other Poems for Children (and for chickens of all ages)

Kabataan Essay

1st – Mariah Cristelle F. Reodica (The Golden Mean)

2nd – Scott Lee Chua (Of Pixels and Power)

3rd – Leo Francis F. Abot (Gods of the Internet)

REGIONAL DIVISION:

Short Story – Cebuano

1st – Richel G. Dorotan (Ang Tawo sa Punoan ng Nangka sa Hinablayan)

2nd – Errol A. Merquita (Isla Verde)

3rd – Macario D. Tiu (Black Pearl)

Short Story – Iluko

1st – Ariel S. Tabag (Saddam)

2nd – Juan A. Asuncion (Ayuno)

3rd – Norberto D. Bumanglag, Jr. (Ti Agdamdamili)

Short Story – Hiligaynon

1st – Peter Solis Nery (Donato Bugtot)

2nd – Alice Tan Gonzales (Kahapunanon sa Laguerta ni Alberto)

3rd – Kizza Grace F. Gardoce (Pabalon)

GRAND PRIZE DIVISION:

Nobela

Allan Alberto N. Derain (Ang Banal na Aklat ng mga Kumag)

Novel

Maria Victoria Soliven Blanco (In the Service of Secrets)

 

FILIPINO DIVISION:

Sanaysay

1st – Bernadette V. Neri (Ang Pag-uwi ng Alibughang Anak ng Lupa)

2nd – Rosario Torres-Yu (Nagbibihis na ang Nanay)

3rd – Nancy Kimuell-Gabriel (Kubeta)

Dulang Pampelikula

1st – Lemuel E. Garcellano (Tru Lab)

2nd – T-Jay K. Medina (Huling Isang Taon)

3rd – Helen V. Lasquite (Emmanuel)

Dulang Ganap ang Haba

1st – Rodolfo Vera (Paalam Señor Soledad)

2nd – Liza Magtoto (Tamala)

3rd –Joshua L. Lim So (Panahon ng Sampung Libong Ilong)

Dulang May Isang Yugto

1st –Remi Karen M. Velasco (Ondoy: Ang Buhay sa Bubong)

2nd –Layeta P. Bucoy (El Galeon De Simeon)

3rd – Bernardo O. Aguay, Jr. (Posporo)

Kabataan Sanaysay

1st – Mary Amie Gelina E. Dumatol (Ang Makulit, ang Mapagtanong, at ang Mundo ng Kasagutan)

2nd – Abegail Joy Y. Lee (Nang Maging Mendiola ko ang Internet Dahil kay Mama)

3rd – Ma. Bettina Clare N. Camacho (Isang Pindot Sa Kamalayan)

Tula

1st – Enrique S. Villasis (Agua)

2nd – Rosmon M. Tuazon (Mga Nakaw na Linya)

3rd – Christopher B. Nuyles (Ilang Tala Hinggil sa Daangbakal at iba pang tula)

Tulang Pambata

1st – Marcel L. Milliam (Ako Ang Bida)

2nd – Eugene Y. Evasco (Isang Mabalahibong Bugtong)

3rd – John Enrico C. Torralba (Manghuhuli Ako ng Sinag ng Araw)

Maikling Kwento

1st – No Winner

2nd – No Winner

3rd – Michael S. Bernaldez (Metro Gwapo)

Maikling Kwentong Pambata

1st – Segundo Matias (Alamat ng Duhat)

2nd – Joachim Emilio B. Antonio (Sa Tapat ng Tindahan ni Mang Teban)

3rd – Christian Tordecillas (Si Inda, Ang Manok at ang mga Lamang-Lupa)

 

This year’s boards of judges include:

FILIPINO DIVISION:

Dulang Ganap ang Haba

Mr. Roy Iglesias – TAGAPANGULO

Mr. Clodualdo Del Mundo, Jr. – Kagawad

Ms. Maribel Legarda – Kagawad

Dulang May Isang Yugto

Dir. Rosauro dela Cruz – TAGAPANGULO

Mr. Chris Millado – Kagawad

Mr. Robert Seña – Kagawad

Dulang Pampelikula

Dir. Ricky Davao – TAGAPANGULO

Dir. Gil Portes – Kagawad

Dir. Joel Lamangan – Kagawad

Maikling Kuwento

Dr. Jimmuel Naval –TAGAPANGULO

Mr. Fidel Rillo, Jr. – Kagawad

Mr. Marco A. V. Lopez –Kagawad

Maikling Kuwentong Pambata

Dr. Dina Ocampo – TAGAPANGULO

Mr. Virgilio Vitug – Kagawad

Dr. Fely Pado – Kagawad

Sanaysay

Dr. Pamela Constantino – TAGAPANGULO

Ms. Vina Paz – Kagawad

Mr. Lourd Ernest De Veyra – Kagawad

Tula

Dr. Rebecca Añonuevo – TAGAPANGULO

Dr. Rofel Brion – Kagawad

Mr. Alfonso Mendoza – Kagawad

Tulang Pambata

Ms. Heidi Emily E. Abad – TAGAPANGULO

Mr. German Gervacio – Kagawad

Mr. Jesus Santiago – Kagawad

REGIONAL LANGUAGES:

Maikling Kuwento – Cebuano

Mr. Edgar S. Godin – TAGAPANGULO

Dr. Erlinda K. Alburo – Kagawad

Dr. Jaime An Lim – Kagawad

Maikling Kuwento – Hiligaynon

Mr. Nereo Jedeliz – TAGAPANGULO

Mr. Ressureccion Hidalgo – Kagawad

Dr. Genevieve Asenjo – Kagawad

Maikling Kuwento – Iluko

Mr. Honor Blanco Cabie – TAGAPANGULO

Mr. Roy Aragon – Kagawad

Ms. Priscilla Supnet Macansantos – Kagawad

ENGLISH DIVISION:

Essay

Dr. Federico Macaranas – CHAIRMAN

Ms. Katrina Tuvera-Quimbo – Member

Ms. Thelma Arambulo – Member

Full-length Play

Mr. Miguel Faustmann – CHAIRMAN

Ms. Malou Jacob – Member

Mr. Nestor Jardin – Member

Poetry

Mr. Mariano Kilates – CHAIRMAN

Mr. Joel Toledo – Member

Mr. Mikael De Lara Co – Member

Short Story

Mr. Dean Francis Alfar – CHAIRMAN

Dr. Shirley Lua – Member

Esther Pacheco – Member

Short Story for Children

Ms. Beaulah Taguiwalo – CHAIRPERSON

Ms. Feny delos Angeles-Bautista – Member

Mr. Luis Joaquin Katigbak – Member

One-act Play

Mr. Glenn Sevilla Mas – CHAIRMAN

Mr. Ronan Capinding – Member

Ms. Josefina Estrella – Member

Poetry for Children

Mr. Edgardo B. Maranan – CHAIRMAN

Ms. Mailin Paterno-Locsin – Member

Dr. Lina Diaz de Rivera – Member

 Kabataan Sanaysay and Essay

Ms. Grace Chong – CHAIRPERSON

Mr. Perfecto Martin – Member

Mr. Ruel De Vera – Member

GRAND PRIZE DVISION:

Nobela

Mr. Reynaldo Duque – TAGAPANGULO

Dr. Lilia Antonio – Member

Dr. Fanny Garcia – Member

Novel

Dr. Jose Neil Garcia – CHAIRMAN

Mr. Benjamin Bautista – Member

Ms. Criselda Yabes – Member

 

taste more:

james soriano on language and identity

It seems the debate on Filipino language and identity remains hot as ever, the flames stoked higher recently with the posting last August 24 at Manila Bulletin Online of Ateneo de Manila student James Soriano’s essay “Language, Learning, Identity, Privilege”.

It was incendiary and touched off a flurry of comments pro- and -anti on the Internet. I first read it at the MB website on Thursday, the 25th. By next day, Friday (perhaps even earlier), it had been yanked off the site.

Good thing it was retrievable via Google cache and posted here at Citizen Media Blogwatch. I repost here in full:

Language, learning, identity, privilege

Ithink
By JAMES SORIANO
August 24, 2011, 4:06am

MANILA, Philippines — English is the language of learning. I’ve known this since before I could go to school. As a toddler, my first study materials were a set of flash cards that my mother used to teach me the English alphabet.

My mother made home conducive to learning English: all my storybooks and coloring books were in English, and so were the cartoons I watched and the music I listened to. She required me to speak English at home. She even hired tutors to help me learn to read and write in English.

In school I learned to think in English. We used English to learn about numbers, equations and variables. With it we learned about observation and inference, the moon and the stars, monsoons and photosynthesis. With it we learned about shapes and colors, about meter and rhythm. I learned about God in English, and I prayed to Him in English.

Filipino, on the other hand, was always the ‘other’ subject — almost a special subject like PE or Home Economics, except that it was graded the same way as Science, Math, Religion, and English. My classmates and I used to complain about Filipino all the time. Filipino was a chore, like washing the dishes; it was not the language of learning. It was the language we used to speak to the people who washed our dishes.

We used to think learning Filipino was important because it was practical: Filipino was the language of the world outside the classroom. It was the language of the streets: it was how you spoke to the tindera when you went to the tindahan, what you used to tell your katulong that you had an utos, and how you texted manong when you needed “sundo na.”

These skills were required to survive in the outside world, because we are forced to relate with the tinderas and the manongs and the katulongs of this world. If we wanted to communicate to these people — or otherwise avoid being mugged on the jeepney — we needed to learn Filipino.

That being said though, I was proud of my proficiency with the language. Filipino was the language I used to speak with my cousins and uncles and grandparents in the province, so I never had much trouble reciting.

It was the reading and writing that was tedious and difficult. I spoke Filipino, but only when I was in a different world like the streets or the province; it did not come naturally to me. English was more natural; I read, wrote and thought in English. And so, in much of the same way that I learned German later on, I learned Filipino in terms of English. In this way I survived Filipino in high school, albeit with too many sentences that had the preposition ‘ay.’

It was really only in university that I began to grasp Filipino in terms of language and not just dialect. Filipino was not merely a peculiar variety of language, derived and continuously borrowing from the English and Spanish alphabets; it was its own system, with its own grammar, semantics, sounds, even symbols.

But more significantly, it was its own way of reading, writing, and thinking. There are ideas and concepts unique to Filipino that can never be translated into another. Try translating bayanihan, tagay, kilig or diskarte.

Only recently have I begun to grasp Filipino as the language of identity: the language of emotion, experience, and even of learning. And with this comes the realization that I do, in fact, smell worse than a malansang isda. My own language is foreign to me: I speak, think, read and write primarily in English. To borrow the terminology of Fr. Bulatao, I am a split-level Filipino.

But perhaps this is not so bad in a society of rotten beef and stinking fish. For while Filipino may be the language of identity, it is the language of the streets. It might have the capacity to be the language of learning, but it is not the language of the learned.

It is neither the language of the classroom and the laboratory, nor the language of the boardroom, the court room, or the operating room. It is not the language of privilege. I may be disconnected from my being Filipino, but with a tongue of privilege I will always have my connections.

So I have my education to thank for making English my mother language. ***

I was stunned. I too have issues with language and identity, but Soriano’s essay on the surface stank of the arrogance of privilege and caste. But wait – read again, and what jumps out is an unformed, immature personality that somehow reminds me of nothing more than a social climber.

But wait, there’s more. The lad was born this way. He’s had that attitude for years. Our Daily Bore found this piece also by Soriano, dating back three years ago.

Filipino as a Second Language

By James Soriano

 2008.12.03

The eve of Bonifacio Day brings back memories of my first days as a freshman in high school, particularly the one where I was sitting in Filipino class listening to my then-teacher, Mr. Pioquid, give an introduction to the course.

I especially remember that the reason it wasn’t boring was because he made a lot of noise by dropping his empty tin can onto the cement floor, and then proceeded to liken our young minds to tin cans which must be empty in order to be capable of receiving new and valuable knowledge. Back then, it struck me as very profound.

But there is one other thing that I remember from that first Filipino session, and that is a small parenthetical remark he made while glossing over the more boring (and unfortunately, the more important) parts of the syllabus.

He mentioned something about us taking an Honors course in Filipino by the time we got to sophomore year. I remember that this struck me as very strange: I could understand taking an Honors course in Math or Science or English, like most other gifted students would in other schools. But why would we have an advanced course in Filipino?

Looking back, maybe I was asking the wrong question. What I ask now is: why don’t most other schools have advanced courses in Filipino?

Oops, dumb question. There are a number of good reasons why we don’t.

For one thing, what is the Filipino language in the first place? Is it Tagalog? Is it Tagalog with tidbits of regional dialects? Or is it a genuine halo-halo of all of our major tongues?

As for me, I really don’t know. Members of the academe are still debating these questions as we speak. Therefore, maybe Filipino is just our cop-out: it allows us to say that we have a national language, even if in reality, we don’t.

Besides, it’s not very wise to master a language that isn’t utilized very often in politics or trade. Our laws, for example, aren’t written in Filipino, and neither are our court rulings and executive orders. They are all written in English. That’s why our lawyers take the bar examinations in English, and those who come out on top, more often than not, are people who are very well-versed in the English language.

The same is true with the language of education. In what language are we taught Science, Math, and Religion? Heck, we can even go beyond that: what is the language of the educated and the elite?

It really isn’t a surprise, then, that people who belong on the upper limits of society, like many of the people I come into contact with everyday, like to laugh at people who don’t speak English very well. English is the language of the man in the mansion, while Filipino is the language of the man on the street.

Besides, English is the language of the professional. It is the key to getting employed. This is especially true nowadays, when the trend is to go abroad where all the lucrative jobs are. If your employers can’t understand you, how can you expect them to hire you? In fact, this is also true with jobs here at home. Do you think call center agents are paid to speak in Filipino?

Hence, maybe I should be thankful that I’ve been trained to value the English language ever since I was a young boy. I should be thankful that I was exposed early to English cartoons and stories, for without them I don’t think I would have developed affection for the language. I should also be grateful that I was sent to schools that put a premium on being able to express yourself effectively in English; otherwise my skills as a student would never have been recognized.

Finally, I should be grateful that I was born in a society that never fails to remind me why that’s important.

After all, you don’t need to love your language to be able to love your country. Right? ***

Reactions ran the gamut from “Sunugin!” to “Hahaha!”

Here’s my favorite so far – a translation by Singapore-based writer Kat Nisperos of Soriano’s MB piece into Bekimon, a speech code said to combine “baklese” (gayspeak) and Jejemon. Nisperos, a graduate of University of the Philippines-Baguio, posted this faaahbulous essay on her Facebook Notes last Friday, August 26, and it has been Shared many times at FB.

Dear James Soriano: Bekimon is the True Language of Learning

by KAT NISPEROS on Friday, August 26, 2011 at 5:15pm

Bekimon ang kuda ng mga brainybells. Knowsline ko na ites even before nyumorsok si watashi sa school. Nung litol gurl pa lang akechiwa, acting teacheraka si mudak with flash cards effect malearning ko lang ang jolfabet in Bekimon. More ng in Bekimon ang mga storybookells at coloringbookells kes, pati cartoonella and songlalus more in Bekimon din! Pati ang piyok sa ballure, Bekimon pa din! Pumaylor pa si madu ng tutorlina para may I train si watashi to kyorsa and kyeme in Bekimon.

 Bekimon din akes mag-jisip, nalearning kes ang style na itembang sa schooliber. Bekimon lahat ng nyobject, numeraka, shorkulation, the works mga teh! Jobservation, jinference, moonsalugells, dancing with the stars, monsoonella, kyorthosynthesis, still in Bekimon! Nahearding din ni watashi ang word of the Lord in Bekimon, thus more ng I say a little prayer in Bekimon din.

Pero ang Filipino, imbey! Imbey to death! More ng imbyernakells kamos ng mga tita kes with Filipino! Aneng, jugas jugas ng shinggan? Wass itong kuda ng learnsalugells. Kuda itembang ng mga jugasera ng shinggan! Kuda iteng sa elm street! Kinukuda lang ites pag babaylor sa mga ateng, pag best in jutos kay yayabell, and textsalugells sa driveraka to fetch galore na si watashi.

More ng survivor in the wild ang drama ng bakla in the real world, and wass akembang magegetget ng mga atengs and manongs and chimi-aas kung wass ko knows ang Filipino. Wass ko namang bet majoldap ang beauty ko sa jeepney! Wazelei! Wizzlebomb!

Cry cry, pero keriboomboomlei kasi smarties ang ate nyes and more ng naging proficient din si watashi sa Filipno. Out in the wilderness (i.e. province lolololol) Filipino ang kuda nga mga cousinboom and titobang and lolobells so best in nakikibagay naman ang beauty kes.

Pero teh, ang jirap jirap jirap.. jirap kyorsahin, jirap kyorlatin, imbey! Wititit na nyortural ang Filipino to me, kumukuda lang akesang ng Filipino sa nyorvince and sa.. ugh, lansangan. (Kyorho ng term!!!) Eh Bekimong neng? Kyorsa, kyorlat, jisip, all in Bekimon bet na bet!  Pero like I pyoked earlybird, smarties akesang so nalearning ko din ang Filipino (in Bekimon!) and for more Gumegermany din akes! Ganda lang!

Pagnyorsok ni watashi sa juniversity nagetrakells kes na languagebells din ang Filipino, wass itong shoryalect! Wass lang itong may I steal from Spanish and Bekimon jolfabets, may systembells, may grammarlyn, may semanticles, fireworks and cartwheels! For more, best in original ang pagkyorsa, pagkyorlat, at pag-jisip ng kudang iteng! Which explains kung ketketloo wass makronslate ang ibang pyok, like shupatembangan, nomo-mes-bakla, baklang nagwawater, at digahan/kyemehan!

Knows ko mga teh, more ng makyorho pa akechiwa sa baklang isda. Filipino daw ang main celebrant sa kudahan, pero carebears mga teh; best in Bekimon akes, sa kuda, jisip, kyorsa, kyorlat, kahit anong kyeme pa yan Bekimon akes!

So I say keriboomboomlei, carebearina lang coz way better itembaloo in a societybells na more pang makyorho sa julok na shorne and fishing pond. Ang Filipino ay kuda sa lansangan (zomg), wass itong kuda ng mga brainybells at edukadang becky.

Sa schooliber, sa la-burat-ory, sa boardroomina, sa joferating room.. wass namang Filipino ang kuda, coz wass itong kuda ng mga mutya ng lipunan (pak!). Best in wit akong signal and na-DC ang beauty ni watashi when it comes to being a Filipino, pero keri lang! Bekimon ang tabas ng dila ng ate nyes and I therefore conclude na forevermore connected na akes everywhere else.

Bet mes? Bet na bet! I have my beckys and parlor gays and beauconessas (whether top, bottom, or versa!) to thank, kung wass kayes wass din akes chechembolin ng ganitells in Bekimon. ***

Amen, sisteraka!

This is the first time I have posted other people’s works in full – I do this only to preserve the texts and to provide a springboard for further discussion for those who are unable to access these works otherwise.

As a communication scholar, one of my major academic interests is language and speech code, therefore my curiosity about this. For now, I shall marshall my thoughts to write a “Pop Goes the World” piece on this issue for next Thursday on Manila Standard-Today. Meanwhile, mga teh, feel free to discuss in whatever language you like. ***

James Soriano image from his Multiply site.

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asquith & somerset massage bar

I’m fascinated by soap and candles – how they’re made, the shape and scent of them. I also love tins, because so much packaging nowadays is plastic.

So when I came across this massive bar of soap packaged in a tin, and in my favorite color, I had to have it.

An English brand little known in the Philippines, Somerset is a manufacturer and distributor of toiletries mostly made in  the UK and Portugal.

This is the Asquith & Somerset massage bar in Cherry Blossom. It smells divine.

As a “massage bar”, it has bumps all over one surface. In the shower, it feels fine going over my shoulders. But because it’s immense and heavy, once I have that bar behind my neck, gravity takes over and the soap slips out of my grasp. Every. Single. Time.

It’s a great product. It’s triple-milled, smoother and “soapier” than the average kind – with just a few strokes, you can work up a rich lather. As for its touted exfoliating action, I didn’t notice any, but that didn’t matter, as its creaminess is a treat.

I expect this gigantic bar will last me a couple of months or more, even bathing twice a day.

It’s available at Beauty Bar at Powerplant Mall, Makati. They also have the Olive, Lemon, and Mandarin which all smell fabulous. Perhaps those’ll grace my bathroom one of these days.

The full line of Asquith & Somerset massage bars. Image here.

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pop goes the world: e-book publishing now here

POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 30 June 2011, Thursday

E-book Publishing, Now Here!

With the steadily increasing cost of paper and ink, books are getting to be even more out of reach for students and those without much disposable income. They are considered luxuries, rather than essentials, in many households.

I’ve advocated time and again in this column about the supreme value of reading in building vocabulary, grammar, and writing skills in any language. The publication of works in digital formats would make them available to a wider audience. You don’t even need an e-book reader like a Kindle, Nook, iPad, or other tablet gadget; e-books can be read on a desktop computer or laptop loaded with the proper app, many of which are available for free download on the Internet.

It’s a giant step forward  that e-book publishing is now being done here by a local company, and this news should give heart to writers who’ve despaired of getting published the traditional way, or wish to reach a global audience for their work (and earn better than they usually would, which is not bad at all.)

Let me tell you about one example.

Carljoe Javier’s latest book, Geek Tragedies, is going to be launched on July 1, 5pm, at the GT Toyota Hall of Wisdom, Asian Center, UP Diliman. It’s published by UP Press which will also be launching eight other new titles the same day, among them UP professor emeritus Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo’s Six Sketches of Filipino Women.

The interesting thing about Carljoe’s work is that it’s possibly the first time a book by a local author will be released in both print and e-book form.

The digital format was supplied by Flipside Digital Content, which has also made Carljoe’s book available for download at giant e-retailer Amazon.com. Flipside also recently released the digital version of another book of Carljoe’s, And the Geek Shall Inherit the Earth, on Amazon. It was originally published in traditional form by Milflores Publishing.

Flipside’s CEO, Anthony de Luna, waxes enthusiastic about the e-publishing trend:

“Our titles are distributed through Amazon (170+ countries) and Apple iTunes iBookstore (six major market countries). We will also distribute through Barnes & Noble Nook later this year.

“Flipside has notched 12 years of experience in e-book production as an outsourced service provider to publishers in the US and UK, with more than 100,000 e-books produced. It started as a subsidiary of Barnes & Noble (I served as Director of Digital Content for B&N during the early years of e-books).

“We use leading-edge production techniques, resulting in some of the bestselling and highest-profile e-books for our publisher clients, including Grufallo Red Nose Day (it was No. 1 in iTunes UK not just for e-books, but including songs and apps); the enhanced e-book edition of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Notes from My Kitchen Table; the enhanced e-book edition of Nelson Mandela’s Conversations with Myself; and the enhanced e-book edition of Ken Follett’s Fall of Giants.

“In April 2011, we decided to leverage the company’s international experience and resources to enable local authors and publishers to publish internationally via e-books. In our first month as a publisher – May 2011 – we published 16 titles and now have a fast-expanding title line-up.

“UP Press is the traditional print publisher of Geek Tragedies; the author Carljoe Javier asked and gained permission from UP Press to simultaneously publish an e-book edition through Flipside. It is the first time in the Philippines for a book to have print and e-book editions published simultaneously.

“On e-book publishing, the bottom line is that in the US, e-books are outselling print books three-to-one.”

Cover of Carljoe Javier’s Geek Tragedies. Image here.

While they will never replace the tactile and sentimental enjoyment one gets from ink-and-paper books, e-books are the future. In fact, many analysts say that that their future is now, and that it is only a matter of time before they will become more common than traditional books.

I’d say the major barrier to this happening fast, especially in developing countries, is the cost of the e-reader, which makes the reading experience convenient, personal, and portable, just like reading traditional books.

A major advance in this direction is the Rizal e-tablet, released by the Laguna provincial government on the hero’s 150th birth anniversary last June 19 in Calamba. The tablet may be loaded with textbooks and other reference materials, and is manufactured by Laguna-based semiconductor firm Ionics. It was distributed in Laguna schools starting last week.

I remember writing about this in my column last year when the project was first announced. It’s terrific to see that promises were kept here. Hopefully other local government units will follow suit.

One thing more needed to complete this winning recipe? The electrification of all barangays unto the remotest of rural areas. How can one effectively use gadgets if one can’t recharge them?

The Rizal tablet distributed in Laguna schools. Image here.

*****

Many thanks to veteran broadcaster Jo Salcedo for giving me a break on radio. Without fully knowing whether I would talk sense or drivel, she took a chance on me and starting February 2 this year had me on her show “Buhay Pinoy” five days a week on AFP Radio at DWDD 1134 khz AM as a guest analyst. For 15 minutes, we’d discuss current events from a cultural perspective.

For some strange unfathomable reason, she and station manager Capt Emmanual Diasen found merit in my mumblings and gave me an hour show which debuted on June 4. It’s called “Kwentuhang Pinoy”, on Saturdays at 8-9am, and live streamed over http://www.afpradio.ph.

I was a horseracing commentator from 2002 to December 2010 on cable TV in a live format much like radio, doing six to eight hours at a stretch up to six days a week. However, doing opinion and news in a radio booth instead of horseracing in a TV studio is new to me.

If you tune in, please be patient; it’s a work in progress, and I’m grateful to have the support of Ms. Jo and her daughter, broadcaster Jaimie Santos, who’ve promised to stay with me in the booth till I get it right.  *** (Email: jennyo@live.com, Blog: http://jennyo.net, Facebook: Gogirl Cafe, Twitter: @jennyortuoste)

Black-and-white portrait of author Carljoe Javier from his private collection.

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