April 27, 2005

Dismantling 101

Two nights ago I decided to take matters in my own hands and did something I haven't done since grade school: dismantle a camera.

My first victim was my grandfather's vintage Kodak, one with the eyepiece located at the top and weighs about a quarter of a pound (back then, it was pretty heavy for me). I was grade three then, and with dreams of becoming an inventor, if not a robotics scientist.

And so when my grandfather gave the go signal for me to try and "repair" his camera, I wasted no time and attacked the poor thing with nothing but a pocketknife and lots of imagination.

Although it didn't get fixed, I ended up making an improvised periscope out of it, which became a big hit with my classmates because we can spy on the big house near our school without scaling their tall fence wall.

The second camera would be my recently damaged Nikon digicam. This time, though, I have system.

I learned in highschool CAT (Cadet Army Training) that the basics in dismantling any firearm is FOLI – First Out, Last In. There I learned to dismantle .45 caliber pistols, and the standard M-14 and M-16 rifles. I remember our humble squad winning the mini-competition in CAT, where each one of us dismantled the firearms in the shortest time, in blindfolds.

And so two nights ago, just like my grandfather's Kodak, the poor Nikon digicam looked like a sacrificial lamb on my worktable -- ready to be slaughtered, and has resigned its fate to unlearned hands.

But I was determined not to turn it into another periscope or something, and I've armed myself with a complete set of precision screwdrivers, brush cleaners, super glue, and dust blower, with a soldering gun at a standby.

It took me about an hour to crack it open and strip it down to its barest essentials. The culprit was a tiny speck of Pagudpud sand lodged deep within the lens mechanism. I have to remove most of the gears to get the sucker off and give the whole thing a thorough dusting and cleaning.

Dismantling the camera was easy enough. The real challenge for me was putting it back together.

I wonder how many watches, toys, clocks, and radios were dismantled in my childhood days, and failed to put back together? Countless. Most ended up collected as scraps in a box that still sits in a corner in my room in the province, while some got recycled into toy robots that my mother put up in display at home. She told me that one day she will contact the TV network to make a feature on my trash robots. Oh nooooooooo! *pure horror*

Okay, enough robots. Back to the camera.

It's working fine, and although it now makes a sound like that of a dentist's drill when you zoom in and out, the images are just as fine as it’s always been. The FOLI principle did its job, so I'm back to my old camera-totting self (Wheee!).

Dang! This is one tough camera, and looks like it'll last for another thousand pictures. ^__^

April 25, 2005

Never ending

It’s a feeling similar to finding a 20-peso bill in your pocket when you’re dirt broke. Or when someone pays you money s/he owes you a week before payday. Or when your highschool crush, whom you haven’t talked to since you both graduated from highschool, confessed that she had a crush on you, too.

Small and unexpected things that never fail to give you a lift and make you smile.

I’ve spent my entire student life under the impression that my IQ is Above-Average. I left college with neither fame nor award, except for a single recognition of being a college scholar for one semester (ancient history blah blah). I was happy and contented with that, knowing that that’s what I am – above-average. Also, many would agree that communication research majors have the toughest math and statistics subjects in the college of MassComm.

But just recently my mother told me that my IQ is, in fact, Superior. She found my elementary school records with the IQ test reports. This newfound info is making me think now how things would have been had I lived my student life believing that I am, indeed, superior in IQ.

Sigh. This is what happens when you’ve spent most of your adult life away from the family – you fail to learn a lot of things about your own self.

At least now I feel a little more assured that my future kid would have a better chance of having good IQ. I read somewhere that 30% of the child’s IQ depends on the mother’s, about 10% from the father, and the rest from his/her first formative years.

I pray my future child won’t get his/her EQ from me, though. Haha!

Last Friday we had our annual physical examination at the office. The following are my vital stats:

Blood pressure: 110/70
Pulse rate: 70/minute
Respiratory rate: 19/minute
Eyesight: 20/20
Blood type: O

Here’s what I didn’t expect:

Height: 5’ 7.5”
Weight: 144 lbs.
Body Mass Index (BMI): 23 Overweight

Not only that I’m taller than I thought I am, it turns out that I’m 4 pounds heavier than the suggested normal weight indicated in the BMI. Dang! Everyone in the office is either overweight or obese. I had to re-check my BMI using one of those hi-tech contraptions found in Mercury drugstores and malls. The results were consistent.

I guess all that beer-drinking sessions paid off – I don’t feel scrawny anymore. Ü Here’s to good health! *Raise pale pilsen* Cheers!

April 24, 2005

Almost famous (Laoag escapade part 3)

Here's the blog that hotmail lost somewhere...

Our second day in Laoag (April 3) was a flurry of sightseeing and city tour. Aileen’s cousin became our all-around tour guide and driver for the day. And since my digital camera decided to die on me the day before, we were so grateful Aileen’s uncle lend us his trusty Canon instamatic. Yey!

First stop was the Marcos Museum. On Sundays only parts of the museum is opened, including the mausoleum where the body, or should I say a replica, of the former strongman lies preserved in a glass coffin.

Cameras are not allowed, and people entering the mausoleum are not allowed to stay too long inside. That’s fine with me, though. Not only that I don’t have a camera, I’ve no plans of lingering inside that dark and musty room – I think I have seen much the late dictator in action during my younger days to even bother looking at his lifeless image now (darn, am I that old?). It was interesting, though, browsing through the artifacts and mementos shown in the museum (Marcos’ handwriting was rather, uhm, scratchy).

Paoay Church was our next stop, and the first thing that caught our attention was the UN citation posted at its front grounds. It named the Paoay Church as one of the five baroque churches in the Philippines, and that it is important that these structures be preserved for the benefit of mankind. Okay. That made me think. I need to read more about the baroque churches of the Philippines, and why UN wants them preserved.

When I was in highschool, I was told that one is entitled to three wishes on their first visit to a church. Since then I made it a point to visit a Catholic church, and say my little prayer with the three little wishes in it, everytime I’m in a new place.

The practice has become special to me somehow. More than the wishes, it’s the chance to leave all your burdens and problems to the Higher Being through prayers – and the aura of old churches like Paoay Church seem to offer a solace that is hard to find these days.

Next stop was Fort Ilocandia.

My first impression was the whole place was dedicated to catering to our Asian neighbors. Posters of various promos and packages in English, Korean and Chinese abound. Pictures of Ms China, Ms Thailand, Ms Singapore, among others, from the Ms Earth beauty pageant decorate every wall. I was later told that the property is indeed owned by a Korean national. That explains it.

Too bad we didn’t get to play at the casino, which opens at around 12 noon. We were there at 11 am.

So off we go to Malacañang Palace in Ilocos.

The structure is unmistakably reflective of the opulent lifestyle fit for a head of state and his family. I have nothing much to say, except that I wish the palace tour guide speak a bit clearer and louder. It’s nice, though, that the local government preserves places like this one.

After lunch, we went to Vigan to visit the famed old street and search for the famous Vigan empanada, Marsha’s bibingka, and Lynn’s ever-elusive fabric called “hablon”. After asking around, however, we doubt if the latter even existed in Ilocos. Maybe Lynn meant “abel” and not “hablon”.

The famous old street of Vigan is a wonder in itself – a small stretch of cobbled street that, with enough imagination and appreciation, can take you back a century in time.

Antique furniture littered the sidewalks, matching the faded facades of row houses that showcase old architecture. Galloping handsome horses with guardia sibil riders in spanking starched uniforms occasionally fill the street with a staccato of clippetty-clops of shiny horseshoes on old pavement. Ladies in baro’t saya walk around, chatting among themselves while easing the hot weather with their lovely fans. Borgee Manotok walking alone, inconspicuously weaving his way through kalesas (horse-drawn carriages), sightseers, and church-goers, followed by a small band of crew lugging cameras, tripods, and lighting equipment.

Okay, the last one snapped me back to present day.

Eating is always the best part of the trip, and two orders of empanada at the Vigan plaza really hit the spot. Yum! A quick stop at Marsha’s for bibingka and brownies completed the day. The queue of buyers at Marsha’s reminded me of Collette’s buko pie. It really pays to be the best in something, especially when it comes to food. I hope my friend pushes through with her dream to compile her list of the best of the best in Philippine foods (Hi Rubs!).

It was raining when we got back to Manila the next day, Monday, at 3 in the morning. Office work and Monday blues await at 9am. Back to reality, and reality bites, but life is a joyride, after all. ^__^

April 20, 2005


hmph! blogger is not blogging my email blogs again...

April 11, 2005

Behind enemy lines (Laoag escapade part 2)

My first visit to Pagudpud last April 2, Saturday, would later on prove to be memorable.

Not because I almost got into a wordspar with a girl who made fun of my companion's appearance. Truth is, I hate arguing with people, especially obnoxious ones, and I'd rather stay away from these vexations. But if my precious peace is broken and one of my friends is being blatantly maligned, I usually take a swing at them.

And so this lady came back to their cottage -- next to ours where I was snoozing -- laughing loudly and cackling about a dark-skinned girl she saw at the beach. I opened my eyes and saw a fat girl in one-piece swimsuit, bulges jiggling as she laughed and told her friends about "that dark-skinned girl" at the beach.

My my, look who's talking, I sighed and tried to shut out her squeaky voice and go back to sleep. Funny, though, her friends were not laughing with her...

"... you guys should go there and see for yourselves. It's such a funny sight. Look oh! She's over there, the one in the middle..."


I got up and sat motionless for a few minutes. Getting disturbed from a nice snooze and losing your temper at the same time don't really sit well in my head -- kinda gives me a small but sharp headache. I saw some unripe mangoes at the table, and remembered that Aileen was so nice to even give the people at the next cottage some of it.

Oh well, a diplomatic approach wouldn't hurt... maybe... Making a scene is never my option.

I got the mangoes, fixed my shades, and walked to the fat girl's cottage. I approached her friend who was still eating some of the mangoes given by Aileen earlier. The rest of her friends were huddled outside their cottage, drinking beer and paying no attention to the fat girl.

"Hi! Here, we still have some mangoes left. My friend gave you some of these a while ago. If you remember my friend," I shot a glance at the fat girl who was suddenly quiet, "she's the one with the 'dark skin', as you were saying a while ago."

Both fat girl and her friend went silent. The latter was smiling, while the former was looking at me with raised eyebrows.

"Miss, that's so bad of you to make fun of my friend." I said and started walking back to our cottage. I was not in the mood to linger around. At times, I am guilty too of being carried away with boisterous fun and end up being tactless, making fun of other people. But I do try to go at some lengths to make sure that no one gets hurt. The fat girl may have no idea that the dark-skinned girl is my friend, but just the same, I feel I should tell her something, at the least.

The fat girl said something behind my back. "Tell her she should have it covered." I stopped and looked at her. My goodness, the audacity of this person is appalling. There she sat on her fat ass like some beached white whale and still she has the nerve to malign others like that.

Breathe in, breathe out, Leo...

"Miss, please, we're in a BEACH... *bitch*" (how I wish I said the last word a little louder, but apparently the fat girl didn't hear it).

I waited for another retort and, thank goodness, none came. I walked back to our cottage in silence. I searched for beer but, of all luck, there was none left (Graaaaargh! Potah ang mahal pa naman ng beer dito! Mas mura pa ang beer sa Boracay!). I sat there nibbling leftover "bagnet" (an Ilocos version of lechon kawali. Oh my ghulay, such a delicious and deadly food this is. Cholesterol!!) and watched my three companions sunbathe, with Aileen lying in the middle. Sigh! She was wearing shorts, so how, for the life of me, can that fat bitch tell she has dark skin "there"? Also, Aileen's been my housemate for over two years now, so how come I don't see that? (Haha! Just kidding, Ai!)

As we were wrapping up to leave, the fat girl was nowhere to be found in their cottage. Sigh! Wouldn't it be so nice if she could just see what how pretty and sexy Aileen is when she not lying face-down and half-covered in sand? (Libre naman dyan, Ai! Hehehe!)

My first visit to Pagudpud will be memorable, not because of this, but because this is where my second digital camera will, later on, meet its end. Come evening that same day, with no hair dryer available, the sea spray and sand did their work, and finally rendered my old digicam useless.


But the photos at Pagudpud and the nearby old lighthouse were worth it. At the last moment, that humble Nikon 2200 never failed to amaze me. Adios for now, my good ol' camera. I pray that we find a good repairman soon to bring you back.

That evening we were treated by Aileen's cousins to a nearby KTV bar. I must have given the best I got, but my highest score was just 96. The locals even sung a Tagalog rap song using the tune of "Make it Real" by The Jets, and still they got perfect 100s.

But to heck with the videoke scores. Free beer! Thish ish the layf! *hik*

April 06, 2005

Laoag escapade (part 1)

As I always tell myself, great gimmicks happen when they are least planned. Ü

Last weekend's trip to Laoag has been planned almost a month ahead. The gameplan was simple: take the van, hire a driver, leave on friday after office hours, then tour Laoag the whole weekend.

But then came the glitches: both van and driver won't be available. On public transport, the budget for the whole event went up by almost half. One by one, those who signed up for the trip backed off. By thursday morning, only our host, Aileen, was intent on going.

I was intent on going, too, with or without the driver or the ride. Problem was, I wasn't so vocal about it by the time the glitches came up. I only spoke of it on Thursday evening while having some beer with the officemates. It must be the spiral of silence theory at work -- the drinking session ended with three of us going, and one more joined us come Friday morning.

The bus trip wasn't bad at all, despite tales of legendary rigors of traveling to Ilocos by land. The key is finding a good sleeping position (which may require that you are in good terms with the person sitting beside you Ü), keeping yourself warm (bringing a scotch tape to plug the aircon duct worked pretty well), and making sure your fluid retention capacity is at their fullest before the bus leaves the terminal.

We left Manila Friday, 10 p.m., and arrived at Laoag Saturday, 6 a.m.

Our first stop, and already quite a find, was the house of Aileen's grandmother. "Bahay ni Lola", as I call it, has the distinct architecture reminiscent of the olden days -- capiz shell windows and window panels that allow natural lighting, mostly hardwood construction, and an array of memorabilia in every corner that boasts of over three generations of families. I lost count of the doors and rooms that have no clear pattern of entrances and exits. Truly an antique.

After a quick breakfast and some preparations, we're off to Pagudpud on a handy-dandy owner-type jeep with jolly ol' Manong Edi at the driver's seat. From Laoag it took us less than two hours to reach Pagudpud (I never thought a Saturn engine owner-type jeep can go that fast).

The place has all the makings of a great beach -- light, powdery sand, blue waters, and a view that was made even lovelier by the surrounding mountains. But my first question was, "Why isn't there anyone swimming out there?" People were just wading at chest-high waters a few feet from the shore.

I found out that the beach has one of the steepest slopes I've ever encountered -- standing ten feet from the shore with arms stretched upward, the water depth already exceeds the tips of my hands (I'm 5' 6"). Good thing the undertow is minimal and the water is amazingly bouyant, otherwise this setup makes for a perfect trap for non-swimmers.

I tried swimming farther out to check why no one ventures into deeper waters. I got the answer right in my face (or should I say, entangled in my goggles).

Seaweeds. *Ack!*

It must be the weather that day and the high tide. The wind and waves were unusually strong and chilly. Underwater visibility was unfavorable. I dived just in case there's something to see at the floor, but found only cloudy sand and some fishes.

More to follow. Ü