December 29, 2010

Oral history

Forget IPad or IPhone. The first gadget I'm getting myself this 2011 is a handy-dandy video recorder.

It's always a treat listening to my father-in-law share his life experience. This morning he recounted with great detail the story behind his signature "bao"(Hiligaynon for turtle) or the turtle power tiller.

By the time we finished our morning coffee, I learned about the person who first patented the bao, how my father-in-law worked his way around that patent to come up with his own design, how these patents work, and the names behind the pioneers of mechanized farming in Panay.

Throughout his sharing one could piece together the kind of life he's lead, and how it explains his current relationship with his children.

Priceless nuggets of wisdom, as well as stinging jabs at us and the rest of today's generation -- each time I hear them I wish I could capture them verbatim.

So there, the first item in my electronic wishlist for 2011. ^^

IPad would probably be second.

December 18, 2010

Sleep

It's 2:30 in the morning. Just finished Arnold Arre's graphic novel, "Martial Law Babies". My Ragnarok Online PH client is patching in the background while I review the data from mother station's latest survey.

I just formulated the news headline that will come out on Monday. I can't wait to discuss the latest update about people's satisfaction with how democracy works in this country.

It's been almost six years since I last saw my hunter and assassin in Ragnarok Online. These are the very first characters I created in the world of MMORPG.

I'm not playing them again, though. They have in them a lot of memories -- mostly wonderful -- that I dare not disturb their rest. They will stay immortalized, safely tucked in the pay-to-play server.

Instead, I'll just create new characters in the free-to-play server. I've been wanting to see the features of the newer server Valkyrie.

The Ragnarok client is done patching, and I hear that same, unforgettably haunting opening music at the log-in screen.

Memories, memories...

But my new archer will have to wait some other time.

And I'll write about the rest of the data later.

It's 3:45 a.m. I must get some sleep.

(My goodness... fezbook's news feed is still buzzing with activity, mostly by local friends. Amazing. Is this the new meaning of Saturday dawn?)

Goodnight. ^^

October 31, 2010

PW's Tideborne

After a year of waiting, Level Up! Games unveiled last July the new race in Perfect World -- the Tideborne. On July 24, I created my Wu Shih (Sorcerer).

The Wu Shih (WS) is everything I hoped for -- with the right build, this class is designed to be the ultimate weapon against the Soulless. Playing one has given me a refreshing break from my Yu Ling (Priest) -- I'm loving the firepower!

For a brief period after the Tideborne patch, the game client had a minor glitch that allowed players to log-on multiple accounts at once (it still can be done, but let's not go there haha). So for a while, my Yu Ling (YL) watched over my WS like a big brother.

But as always, real life takes precedence, and I had to revert back to my so-not-hardcore gaming habits when my WS reached 50+. My primary motivation is still to bring my YL to level 89, and get that first fairy (Sublime or Diabolic, I still can't decide).



October 25, 2010

The SWS-TAF friendship games

The Asia Foundation (TAF) has been mother station's longest institutional partner, going way back in 1980's when TAF gave SWS its first grant.

In my career in social research, my most memorable and fulfilling projects had been with them.

After so many years working with TAF, it was good to see them -- for the first time -- in their sports attire, talk about something else aside from projects, and engage them in a friendly competition last Saturday at the Timberland Nature and Sports Club in San Mateo, Rizal.

TAF did well in the 3-on-3 basketball, free-throw and 3-point shootout, volleyball, and three-to-five-legged race, while SWS excelled in cheering competition, billiards, "going to market", tug-of-war, wall climbing, and pool relay.

By evening, we all shared that love for wine, beer, and videoke (and Glee! Haha!).

Cheers, TAF!

(Photo credits to Mae L.)

***

I know I can swim since elementary days, and I have taken 4 units of swimming as PE. But it was only last Saturday when I was finally comfortable calling myself a swimmer.

I can swim fast. And if I practice and polish my techniques some more, I can go really fast and far.

But I'll leave it at just "fast" for now. It's nice to know I'm good at something.

And I was reminded how important it is to stay fit and healthy.

October 17, 2010

Naruto weekend

It's a Naruto marathon weekend for me and Joan.

I'm not a die-hard fan, but there will come a time when I must watch the series again in their undubbed, subtitled version. It's a different experience hearing the emotions in the original voices.

And my wife agree that that time is now.

***

And because of Naruto, I totally forgot about the scheduled Territorial War in Perfect World.

Congratulations, Sanctius, new ruler of Great Wall, Dragon server!

October 06, 2010

Honeymoon

We've seen something like this before -- a president with enough social capital that even a string of major and minor blunders could not spoil the honeymoon moment.

That, or we are simply too patient and forgiving, if not forgetful.

We'll see.

I just hope he puts all that precious social capital to good use.



Note for the news clip below: "satisfied" is "nasisiyahan", not "kuntento". Also, my family name is Laroza. Rando is my second name. ^^

http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/video/nation/10/06/10/pnoy-give-report-his-1st-100-days#ooid=Q2ZTRyMTq2rUiIRuhRtcxa93UqyDS1S4

***

Hello, dear blog! It's good to be here again.

September 15, 2010

Salads and mushrooms

A good weather on a long weekend with no pressing errands would usually mean a little road and food trip, so off to Tagaytay we went last Sunday.

Our objective was to have a healthy and relaxing day, and Sonya's Garden was just the place for it. A hearty lunch of healthy salad, pasta, and salmon, -- followed by an hour-long body massage -- took care of the stress I accumulated for the month of August.

Of course, the trip home wouldn't be complete without Sonya's freshly-baked delights, and a pitstop at Mushroom Burger. Yum!




September 04, 2010

Trenta y cinco

The birthday greetings started arriving two days ahead, and ended four days after. I don't remember ever celebrating my birthday that long.

And it's been a while since I last celebrated it outside of office-related festivity -- my birthday usually falls within the same date of mother station's annual general assembly.

Turning 35 is another personal milestone, and calls for nothing less than an all-out inuman and singing session haha!

The original Pork Barrel gang of 2009 were there: Anne, Mear, Micko, Mike, Liz, and Ramon. A few more guests completed the party: Anne's fiance Sergey, Ramon's wife Anna, and mother station's latest discoveries Eunice, Anna M., and Cherish.

Cheers!

July 29, 2010

That's it

I'm done here. ^^

After six years, two months, nine days, 220 posts, 16 drafts, and 10,625 visitors, Chemical Rhapsody is wrapping up.

First of all, I have to thank Lynn, Cez's sister, because the name Chemical Rhapsody was inspired by her site. Hers was one of the few personal websites I follow back then, and it was there where the words "violin rhapsody" and "chemical-free zerg" caught my attention.

So however late this may be, my apologies to Lynn for ripping bits of words off her site to arrive at Chemical Rhapsody.

Nevertheless, I could not think of a better name for the online incarnate of Jughead (the name I use for all my journals).

And I could never be prouder than I am now with this blog's small achievements: aside from saving my sanity countless times, chances are this blog will be among the top five pages if you search it now in Google.

So here's to you, my dear ChemRhap *raise mug of coffee* for housing my hopes, dreams, adventures, beliefs, alter-egos, vices, illusions, anger, frustrations, joys, triumphs, failures, pain, and everything else that is Leo, Leigh, Lei, Lee, or Bon over the past six years.

Cheers!

And thanks to you all. The comments left within the pages of this blog will be reminders of how wonderful this little ride has been.

Catch you all somewhere, most likely (final fezbook moment here), in FB hee hee. ^^

Ingat po ang lahat!

July 21, 2010

Silenced

The words will come out eventually.

For now, they're all in my head and heart.

July 12, 2010

So high


For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

June 17, 2010

Destroy and build

There are four things I want utterly destroyed this very moment: 1) the new Monday uniform of a certain government institution; 2) its new Tuesday uniform; 3) its new Wednesday uniform, and; 4) its new Thursday uniform.

I'm not blaming the designer. Not anymore. They will always stay consistent to their unique styles, even if at times such styles may be inappropriate. I'm putting all the blame and responsibility to the committee -- if at all there was one -- that approved those designs.

The designs are unique and the construction is sound, but in my humble opinion, the uniforms scream of something else -- something distant from what the institution represent.

Anyway, it all depends now on the people who will be wearing them. If majority of them like the new set of uniforms, then indeed the world is changing.

***

My friend Cez inspired me to go back to keeping a journal.

I'm going to enjoy making this one -- the fifth since I began in 2001 and stopped in 2007. The office has been accumulating quite a pile of recyclable bond paper after the elections. ^^

***

It's been so long since I've done anything that involves creativity (the aesthetic kind, that is). Judging by how I worked in the past, it's a kind of task that requires a different kind of inspiration.

As the office's 25th anniversary celebration draws near, I'm in desperate need of this particular kind of inspiration.

Mercifully, a piece of that familiar mix of feelings came back yesterday -- driven, informed, updated, motivating, challenging, and inspiring.

How I missed that feeling!

It's been a while. Thank you thank you!

May 29, 2010

Lost

I was almost an hour late for work yesterday when my usual route got blocked by road constructions along Espana Avenue in Manila.

It's normal for government infrastructure projects to sprout like weeds as another fiscal year comes to an end. However, with just a month to go before the Arroyo administration ends, I'm not sure if these massive road constructions are preparations for the rainy season, or just last-minute hustle for more corruption money. Oh well, it could be both.

The re-routing was unplanned as no proper scheme was in place. So thanks to my pathetic navigation skills, it was easy for me to get lost after missing the tiny and obscure sidestreet that could have put me back on course.

That brief moment of being lost, however, was strangely pleasant. The unfamiliar streets gave me refreshing new sights as I groped my way through the innards of Manila, Balintawak, and Sta. Mesa.

But I guess that moment was pleasurable only because I had plenty of fuel in the tank, and I'm no longer required to check-in with the office bundy clock.

***

I've been wishing for the rain, and it finally arrived yesterday.

It brought flooding, too.

At least, I got what I wished for. Like many things in life, it's a package deal. Not much room for complaints, I'm just glad it's there.

***

I'm still finding my way back after missing a very crucial detour in the past.

I want to be in that familiar route again, even if so much has changed.

I miss that path.

May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

I may not have her genetic and psychological makeup, but I'm sure darn proud that we have almost identical signatures.

Just one of the thousand things I'm thankful she's my mom.

Cheers, Mamidir! Labs guid!

Happy Mother's Day to all!

Urban legend

Kage bunshin no jutsu!

I found myself reciting these words more and more often over the past weeks. With just hours before the elections, I’m almost wishing that when I say those words again (complete with the requisite hand signs haha!), many Leos would appear in a puff of smoke.

Imagine having my clones help me with work, household chores, and visit loved ones in other places. Cool!

But, truth is, I am terrified with the idea of facing another Leo.

I’ve played this hypothetical scene in my head before: “How will I raise a child who is exactly like me?”

I imagine that for the most part of his/her developing years, raising a child with my exact same frame of mind would be a breeze.

The tricky part would be when the child begins to be aware of his/her emotional weaponry, especially those that I’m not so proud of. My father and his father have them, and apparently I have them, too. Few have seen the kind of monster I can turn into, and to those few, I offer my never-ending apologies.

Of course there’s always the good side. I have blogged before of people I’ve met who represent better versions of myself – highly evolved in everything we have in common. I’m eternally grateful having met these people.

Facing myself would probably be great, but I say the world is better off with just one Leo.

***

I had my share of mistaken identity way back in high school. It was a simple question, “What were you doing in Iloilo?” from someone so convinced it was me he saw that day. The problem was that I’ve never been to Iloilo yet at that time.

For years I’ve treated that incident as a simple case of “mistaken identify”. It was only just recently when an incident made me realize that, maybe, there was more to it than just someone out there looking like you.

I saw Gem one Monday evening while I was on my way home. I would have called out to her, but the jeep moved along before I got close enough.

The following day I wrote her a note in FB checking if she was in that area at that time. She then went online in YM to confirm that indeed she was. The only thing that didn’t fit was that she was not riding the jeepney at all.

I’ve met Gem in person only once, but I was 99% sure it was her I saw that night.

***

I have always thought that it is not a good sign when people allegedly see “you” in highly unlikely time and place. The literature I’ve been exposed to speak mostly of bad things when people encounter their replica.

Doppelgänger. The closest encounter I had with anything of this sort was some time ago in Batangas, when one late afternoon on our way home, a farmer told me and my cousin “Dumaan na kayo dito kanina lang ah” (You already passed here just a while ago).

Kinda creepy, but nevertheless a harmless incident. None of the accounts I’ve heard about such sightings placed anyone in mortal peril.

But as Gem and I were discussing the night I saw someone I thought was her, she presented a more extreme possibility: you cannot come face to face with your other self because one of you will die.

Urban legend.

Well, at least that pretty much solves my worries about meeting that other Leo.

Still, real or not, I hope we stay clear of our other selves.

***

My first encounter with Gem was online, in the world of Pangu. She was then the Marshall of Sanctius, and eventually became the final puzzle piece to a lingering personal question I have about online gaming: can a camaraderie borne within the confines of a game be real?

There are many groups out there that could have easily answered my question, had I put serious thought about it. I thank those who have offered me membership (Ria, your offer to introduce me to HOL looong time ago was most appreciated ^ ^), and I give special thanks to Sanctius because somehow they found me in the most unexpected time -- the right time haha!

And like the first time I met Gem as the kind and generous Yu Ling (Priestess) in Perfect World, meeting her and some of the Sanctius folks in person on this day was just as magical and memorable.

Wow. Amazing how long it has been.

April 02, 2010

Memory gaps

The young journalists waited expectantly as mother station’s Papa Bear reflected on his response. They just finished reciting the questions they have prepared for him. In that pause, I snapped a few candid shots of our unexpected visitors.

Ten minutes ago, I was summoned by Papa Bear to observe while he’s being interviewed.

“Bring a recorder,” he said.

It was an unusual request, one that I normally get when we’re up to something more serious.

“They’re from (name of organization).”

Darn it! I’m bringing my camera, too.

I was poised take down notes the moment I sat down the round table, directly facing the two journalists, ready to jot down whatever these guests were up to.

But the first set of questions was pretty standard, and Papa Bear coolly and efficiently answered them.

As the interview proceeded, however, I noticed something was amiss. The questions were coming more and more from Papa Bear, and the skin under his collar was slowly changing color.

The unchanging pleasant expressions on the journalists’ faces, and the kind of questions they were asking, confirmed my suspicion: they have no idea at all – zero, zilch, nada – what their organization did, or haven’t done, to mother station.

I let go of my pen, leaned back, and watched the young journalists with wonder. Has it been that long? Was it neglect on the part of these younglings’ superiors to send them here to mother station without any idea of what happened in the past?

Or is it because they simply don’t care anymore about history, much more bother rectifying the deeds of their own organization?

And so the next half hour was spent Papa Bear educating them of what transpired ten years ago.

I hope those young journalists see the whole point of what happened during their visit. If they really embody their organization’s claim of being fair and transparent, it would do their organization good to rectify their own history.

Only then can both organizations finally close that particular chapter of democracy with smiling faces.

And I don’t have to bring a voice recorder and camera next time they send someone over.

***

Yesterday, Maundy Thursday, Joan and I chanced upon a local romantic movie that was partly about how neither party can move forward without the other clearing up the past.

I was only previously aware of the movie One More Chance, starred by Bea Alonzo and John Lloyd Cruz, because a fellow techie knows its famous lines – about breaking up and moving on – by heart.

Can anyone fully move on when something’s amiss in your shared history?

Perhaps, like in the movie, a simple question or a confession could have made everything okay.

And that it’s never too late to do so.

***

My mother has been doing a good job documenting the lives of her children and grandchildren. Neatly archived in her home in Aklan are bits and pieces of our lives – photos, old school uniforms, medals, diplomas, trophies, sketches, and even my recycled toys.

This is the place I’d go to if I ever lose myself.

But there are gaps, of course.

The most obvious would be the absence of baby photos in my albums. The yearbook for both my highschool and college never saw the light of day. And, maybe the most painful of all, my earliest creations of recycled toys were lost.

It can’t be helped, I guess. Some memories are bound to be lost, through nobody’s fault.

***

In my evening jogging sessions, warming up is usually spent on stretching and brisk walking.

However, when the back entrance to the UP Theater is empty, it’s a chance for me to practice some TMD kata.

As the body isn’t as supple and strong as it used to be, kata numbers 2 to 4 could really warm me up, if not tire me out entirely. The memory of the movements is vivid, alive, and wonderful.

Amid the motions, a totally different move would occasionally slip in – awkward, wide, arching, and dance-like.

Definitely not any of the TMD moves. But the memory of that beautiful, graceful move is broken, lost.

This one is my fault, and one of the saddest moments of my life.

***

Rafiki, Smores, blue, Naruto, Chuck Bass…

It’s nice to be reminded of, and again take a closer look at, your favorites. Funny how some changed, and others stayed the same.

A blessed weekend to all.

March 20, 2010

New light

The coming May 2010 elections will be my fifth national election since I joined mother station. And just as in the past four, I will not be casting my vote this year.

It’s not that I’ve lost faith in democracy. On the contrary, with all its flaws, I marvel at the whole process that I rather step back and watch it unfold from an emotionally sanitized distance.

The elections of 1998, 2001, and 2004 will always be my best experiences of national elections. From getting down and dirty setting up regional command centers (I love you, Region VI!), training field staff, doing the interviews, to spending long, sleepless, nerve-wracking hours getting the data ready for broadcast.

In 2007, I was not given any field assignment, and it seems I won’t be getting any outdoor adventure this coming election either. Being the station’s “communication guy” requires me to stay put in the office.

Oh well… I just miss going on field at the crossroads of Philippine history – personally asking the questions and listening to the answers.

Anyway, the excitement generated there at the frontlines is not so different compared to the indescribable moment as you watch the numbers reveal how the sample has spoken, and telling the latest story to everyone else.

This year’s automated election – a first in Philippine history – amid the colorful political show the major players are putting up, is putting a whole new light to an old exercise.

It’s scary, but exciting.

******

I’ve been swimming the beaches of Napti since my family moved to Batan, Aklan in 1983. Last January we paid a visit to one where, once upon a time, I nearly drowned.

It’s not the same beach I used to know. There are fewer coconut trees now, and there is nothing but a long stretch of sand in places where houses used to be.

This beach, like the others lining the coast of Batan, is slowly disappearing. The coastline is eroding at an alarming rate of at least 10 centimeters a year.

But in the face of its slow destruction, the beach has become more beautiful.

I hope the locals find a way to preserve the beaches, soon.



******

Oh no… here comes yet another fezbook moment.

I’ve already expressed my initial reaction when my brother and sister connected with me in FB.

It felt creepy. The idea of any family member getting to know my virtual lifestyle was something I did not approve of at first.

But with FB, I guess it’s just a matter of time.

True enough, I now have nephews, nieces, cousins, and my cousin’s children in my friends list. Uh-oh haha!

But that’s just a minor moment of resistance. For the most part, fezbook did good in keeping me in touch with old friends, finding new ones, and reconnecting me with those that were lost from my sights for some time.

Hey Jov! Our fezbook kwentuhan is giving me a new way of looking at ancient highschool history. Thanks haha! Keep in touch.

To Ria and Sanctius folks, I see you now under a whole new light. Cheers!

February 27, 2010

Gamble

As the saying goes, be careful with what you wish for.

For the longest time I’ve been wishing for a little extra body weight. It was granted last December, when I effortlessly gained 5 pounds in less than a month – thanks to the steady supply of delicious brownies we get every Christmas time, and fresh seafoods at home.

It’s been two months since the brownies stopped. But despite the regular jog and workout, the weight gain continues, and I am 10 pounds (edit 3-1-2010: not kilos!) heavier now than I was before the Christmas season.

It may look small, but that figure is big enough to concern an ectomorph in his mid-thirties like myself.

The worst part is, all that added weight went to just one spot (groan!).

It’s good that my “chi” reserve (as Euge and I would call it) could probably sustain me for a few days without food. While El Nino poses a real threat to our food supply here, it’s my wardrobe that’s really beginning to suffer.

I have to get rid of the blubber surrounding my “chi” before the next office R-and-R, scheduled after the May 2010 national elections.

***

I was faced with a similar challenge over three years ago, when I have to look presentable in my wedding barong.

In the months leading to that big day, I assembled a program of punishment that will guarantee a reasonably fit Leo walking down the aisle.

But I wasn’t contented just sticking to my methods of madness. I had to have something more to motivate myself: a wager.

And so one was made: if I develop a six-pack abs, one of my officemates will have to do something (sorry, can’t reveal this one yet… still under embargo) in front of everyone. If I lose, I will have to kiss my wife a certain number of times on wedding day (don’t we just love statistics?).

Fair enough.

I lost. I managed to sprout maybe two and a half packs, but at least there was no unwanted bulge in my barong on that big day. That nasty pimple, however, completely caught me off-guard.

Oh well.

I think the kisses that went on that day were more than what the bet asked more.

***

In our last dinner date with Joan’s friends, one of her officemates shared how she dealt with her three-year old son’s “utosero” moment.

Scenario: Kid wakes up craving for french fries at 9:00 p.m, wakes up mother, mother leaves bed, goes to kitchen and cooks while kid waits comfortably in bed, mother serves french fries, kid changes mind and asked for fried chicken instead, mother cooks and serves it, kid changes mind again… and boom! Mother, in a performance that could put Judy Ann Santos to shame, cries and delivers a heart-wrenching speech, “Buti pa doon sa office, nakakaupo ako. Dito, hindi na ako nakakapagpahinga dahil utos kayo ng utos…!” Kid cries and hugs mother, “Mommy, tama na. Sorry na, mommy. Sige na, mommy, matulog na tayo…”

Wow.

At the end of the story, all I can think of was, “What if it didn’t work?”

The husband, who was seated next to us and was smiling the entire time Joan’s officemate was telling the story, provided the closing.

Closing scenario: As mother goes back to bed, father says, “The winner is… Mommy!”

***

Anthony Bourdain has the best description of how it is like to cross a street in Manila: “It’s all about timing and commitment.”

I could not agree more.

Pedestrians crossing an average street in Manila must time their move and stick to it to very end, leaving the rest to faith that oncoming motorists will respect that commitment and life itself, and let the pedestrians through.

Of course, things can go wrong and the little gamble could end up in injury or death. This incident is minimized by a simple pact between pedestrian and motorist – declaration of commitment. A raised hand or a flash of the headlight, coupled with mutual respect for each others’ welfare, and life goes on amid the chaos.

***

The concepts of declaration and the respect for it first made sense to me in high school. As far as I can remember, I tried to live them as well.

In that age of volatile emotions and developing characters, those concepts were crucial to order and camaraderie – especially as one goes through high school while attending to matters of the heart.

“Ang kay Juan ay kay Juan” was a simple way of putting it, assuming that Juan made the proper declaration, and that such declaration does not violate any prior declaration. It’s quite restrictive of freedom, but served well in minimizing both physical and emotional injuries haha!

***

Our high school batch has been slowly gathering up in fezbook.

Just the other day, I got reconnected with one who’s been out of hailing frequency (at least in mine) since our HS graduation. Hi Jov! ^^

Yet another FB wonder.