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Posts Tagged ‘videos

Nicolo’s Body Recovered, Car Found; Romulo Still Missing

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I have a confirmed report from a Batangas Police Provincial Office source that as of 3:42 pm Manila Time (GMT +8) today, 3-year-old Nicolo Soriano‘s body was recovered near Tingloy, an island-municipality across the Batangas Bay, a linear distance of about 15 miles (about 25 kilometers) from the site of the collapsed bridge and 32 hours after the incident. His remains is now at the San Fernando Funeral Homes in Batangas City.

Meanwhile, their white Honda Civic car was found underwater near RK Village, a few hundred meters from the disaster site, and search and recovery operations continue for the missing Romulo Soriano.

Maria Lourdes Romulo Soriano or Malou, the survivor, is still confined at Saint Patrick’s Hospital in Batangas City. According to the same source, Malou was heard crying for help by one Lolit Cos as she was  floating among the flood flotsam near Wawa, a seaside community in the city. She then sought the help of a Badjao (known for their swimming and sea-fearing abilities) whose name’s phonetic spelling (he couldn’t spell) is Karsani Bartapa to retrieve her from the raging water.

There is also an unconfirmed account that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) did an inspection of the bridge a week prior to the collapse and found it to be structurally sound.

So many questions, so few answers.

But kudos to Karsani and the tireless, nameless Philippine Coast Guard and Philippine National Police rescuers and other volunteers. They are our heroes. [d]*

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Written by nealm

1 November 2009 at 9:50 AM

A Bridge That Broke Its Promise

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Bridge of Promise by bobit (goaguila)

Typhoon Santi (Mirinae) washed away a four-decade-old, 20-ton-capacity steel Bridge of Promise at 7:30 a.m. today, when the Signal #3 typhoon was leaving Batangas City.  A family in their white Honda Civic car was crossing the bridge on their way to Manila when it actually collapsed and plunged into the murky Calumpang river. One of the three passengers, Malou Soriano, 39, a Provincial health worker, was rescued almost an hour later a few hundred meters downstream after people saw her hanging to a tree and was rushed to Saint Patrick’s Hospital in downtown Batangas City. As of this writing, search and rescue is still on-going for her husband, Romulo, 40, and her son, Nicolo, 3.

When I went to the site, the trusses appear to be intact hinting at the questionable structural integrity of the weakened bridge piers in the middle of the span which witnesses saw were the first to succumb to the raging water.  One driver told me that he felt the “weird shaking” of the weakened bridge yesterday before the storm’s onslaught prompting him to drive faster across the bridge for fear it would “give in”. I saw a Coast Guard rubber boat plying the river once downstream and twice upstream when I was there for  about an hour. No frogmen/divers in sight, neither were there any frantic rescuers. Only curious onlookers, mostly with their camphones, a guy with “Official Photographer” emblazoned on his shirt, and other rubbernecks. Talks were aplenty about premonitions, hindsights, and how corrupt politicians and disasters don’t go together. I asked if anyone saw the Mayor (Eddie Dimacuha). None in the crowd could answer me. “How long do you think they (the government) could rebuild this?” I asked a couple of guys next to me. “If not for Shell (which uses this bridge to transport their crude and refined oil), this bridge would not have been built,” the guy in white shirt retorted.  I disagreed. It’s election time, duh.

We are a nation of resilient people. But the worst disaster that we have yet to recover from is corruption. We didn’t need Ondoy, Pepeng and Santi to know this. I pray for Malou’s recovery and Romulo’s and Nicolo’s rescue. I pray for our enlightenment.

P.S. I searched online in vain to validate the details on the bridge and what not. I am an amateur blogger so the facts on the bridge are not fully vetted, except for the details of the disaster and the family which are in the news. [d]*

Written by nealm

31 October 2009 at 10:05 AM

Shine

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From Musical Competition to Missionary Preparation, this Next Big Star Finalist Casts His Light on the World

Anton Cruz (Anton Paolo Bayona Antenorcruz in Real Life)While waiting for his turn during practice for this year’s finals of GMA 7’s Are You the Next Big Star (AYTNBS)? singing competition, Anton Paolo Bayona Antenorcruz is in a quiet nook of the dressing room struggling, though unperturbed, with the questions he needs to answer himself. With a million pesos cash prize from SM, an Avida condominium unit and a lucrative GMA management and recording contracts only at stake, giving the winner a sure stab at instant fame and fortune in Philippine show business, what’s not to worry about, right? Interestingly, those were the least of his concerns: “I make it a point to work on all the assignments for my Seminary class whenever I get the chance so come Saturday, I’m ready,” says this 17-year-old crooner known as Anton Cruz to his fans while leafing on the scriptures he totes along with him everywhere. “I grew up in the Church (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), and my parents taught me the gospel. Like learning a new song on my own, where they have been my influence on what to learn and sing, I need to gain my own testimony apart from theirs; and if I put God first in my life, everything else will just follow,” he mutters decidedly.

All-Natural, No Artificial Additives

How old is he again? People tend to ask that question at each close encounter with this unassuming teenager whose reserved persona, refined demeanor and refreshing Pinoy good-looks, a welcomed departure from the mestizos or the mixed-race looks du jour the media fondly glorifies, are enough reasons to elicit curious glances and silent admiration. The moment he sings his heart out and reveals his soul – both seemingly well beyond his years – audiences are captivated, leaving them star-struck by his pure melodic artistry and his simple unstudied charm. All it takes is to listen to his rendition of Eric Benet’s 2005 song, “The Last Time”, and one will know that this kid is the real deal.

Where does that voice come from? Why do people gravitate toward him? Who is this nice luminous young man?

All in the Family

A closer look at this young prodigy unravels his mystique that is more than 17 years in the making:  “He got his singing genes from me as my family is musically inclined especially from his lolo, my dad, who is a good singer,” says Cecille, Anton’s mother. “On my husband’s side, they’re not bad singers either as they all can carry a tune.” She recalls Anton at 8 years-old trying to perfect the vocal acrobatics of Destiny’s Child’s remake of the Bee Gees’ song, “Emotions”, over and over to the point of them getting tired and irritated by it. “But that’s how he developed his R&B style, by giving justice to the song his way, apart from singing Pop and joining Church choirs since he was in Primary. People are quite surprised by his wide vocal range,” she continues. His tenacity not just for winning but for actually honing his craft and his love for music drives him to join contests. “He is just thrilled to sing and be a part of a contest regardless of the prize,” adds Cecille. Not too shabby a passion when it nets him awards after another, including a 4-year Informatics scholarship, both in individual and choral competitions. He is the first freshman to ever beat the senior contenders to clinch the “Anthonian Singing Idol ” title of the School of Saint Anthony in Quezon City and also the lead tenor and soloist of the school’s Coro San Antonio, the reigning champion of the University of the Philippines’ annual Musikappella, a singing competition for high school choral groups. Winning is expected of him – and he does every time – when he represents his school in singing contests (which explains why two of his pictures are in the school’s website).

The higher his achievements are, the more grounded he remains having been raised by parents who make sure he attends Church service, his Young Men and Mutual activities religiously and that taking his Seminary class to heart and qualifying for a mission are necessary pieces to a peaceful, happier and fulfilling life. “It’s really hard preparing Young Men for mission nowadays because of their exposure to temptations we never encountered during our time. It’s a constant struggle, and we are always there to guide him to the right path. I feel that if I make the Church and living the gospel a part of his life, he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6),” she reiterates resolutely. To validate her point: “He’s known to be kind and humble even in school. People would come up to me and tell me I should be very happy and thankful for having a son like him,” his mother affirms affectionately. For Anton, the depth of his affection is evidenced by his ready remark when asked who inspires him: “My parents. In my heart, I dedicate my song and performance to them every time.

All for God and Family

It must be the way he does his share of family responsibilities like ironing clothes (Mom says he does it best!), his penchant for reading books like Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey and his strong spiritual anchor, not just his singing prowess and all his winnings, that set him apart and prepare him for a big break such as AYTNBS.  “I wash my own clothes, I clean the house, I cook, I learn to schedule things,” Anton nonchalantly points out. Wait, a teenager doing household chores and talking about time management?! He chuckles at the suggestion that these are anomalies in a typical 21st century teenager. “When I entered the finals of AYTNBS, my life became like a call center with my crazy schedule. I knew I needed to manage my time to keep up with the contest schedule without sacrificing my family, Seminary class and other Church activities. I’m thankful though that this contest also gave me the opportunities to build on my self-confidence and taught me to be out-going and sociable. Besides,” says he, “ I know that these will all help me prepare for my mission.

The pressure to compromise his LDS standard in exchange for the “cool factor” of being one of his peers and being one with them –drinking, smoking, being in the spotlight and parties all the time, which are, sadly, typical of showbiz scenes– must have been more challenging than the actual singing competition? “When they asked me why I don’t drink and smoke, I told them right off I am LDS. Somehow, I feel guided to keep my standard, so it isn’t really that difficult. I am reminded of my favorite missionary scripture to be an example in situations like these: ‘Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.’ (Matthew 5:16), ” he enthuses.

Being a missionary seems to be second nature to Anton.  He fondly recalls the time when he was 12 years-old and had gone out tracting with the full-time missionaries. “I love sharing my testimony and observing the missionaries when I work with them. I also realize the importance of the gospel of Jesus Christ for all men to return to our Heavenly Father,” he shares solemnly. His mother tells how happy he is to work with the missionaries, and how each time he comes home he would always express his desire to go on a mission. Recently, he spoke at their Stake Conference where he outlined to his fellow Young Men the ways to prepare most effectively to serve a full-time mission by becoming a missionary instead of going on a mission (Becoming A Missionary, Elder David A. Bednar, Liahona, November 2005). “It is not enough for us to be convinced by the gospel; “ he quips, ”we must act and think so that we are converted by it.” Furthermore he relates: “I realized preparing for a mission is just like learning a new song. My parents influence me what songs I need to sing. It is not enough for me to hear my parents say that the Church is true. I can sing a song because they told me so. I can also go on a mission because it is a commandment and that my parents told me I must go. But I know that it would be best if I study the song myself and understand what it means; that it would be best for me to go on a mission if I know in my heart that the gospel is true and that The Book of Mormon is true by myself apart from the shadow of my parents’ testimony.

Soar and Shine

After waiting in line with his father, Hermie, for 16 hours for 2 days on end just for the audition alone, and 10,000 registrations, and 500 qualifiers, and 16 finalists, and 2 months of grueling rehearsals and shows, a different winner was declared. “How do you feel now that it’s over?” I asked him. “Sad but relieved. I’m just happy that my life is back to normal, to be back to my family and the Church. Oh yeah, to wash my clothes on schedule again!” he laughs with uncontrived joy in his voice. “If you won’t have a singing career, what would you be?” I bait. “A pilot. I will be a singing pilot!” More laughters.

With a talent and soul this raw, real and reassuring, I couldn’t help but be reminded of what my late mother told me about winning : “Politics may take the win from her child but it can never deny the winner in him.” His example and desire to serve God is the star that will matter in the lives of those who are in darkness, a light to those who want to follow the Savior. [d]*

P.S.

If Anton’s voice won’t give you chills and leave you enchanted in this YouTube sample, I don’t know what will…

… comparing to Eric Benet’s 2005 original, it’s Anton from the first note to the last (sorry, Eric).

Written by nealm

7 September 2009 at 5:34 AM

Humans vs. Simians: Peeling A Banana

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11971185651793535779antontw_Monkey.svg.medThis could be the most mundane task involving one of the most popular fruits : peeling a banana. Chances are, you might have wolfed down hundreds of them in your lifetime already, but it never crossed your mind you’ve been peeling it wrong, like, well, a human. Who to teach us how to do it best than our closest animal cousins which have perfected it, right? A video of a monkey actually  peeling a banana can be found here, but a human simulating a simian? Now that is far more interesting! So here’s Kyle Bradshaw expertly demonstrate it (in his pj, no less) as taught by his friend, Britney, who saw a monkey carelessly revealed this pre-Darwinian secret. It’s like the he-said-she-said-it-did kinda second-hand account but as long as you can seriously take the misery off of peeling your dang banana, who cares if Britney turns out to be a you-know-what? So the next time you enjoy that luscious and sweet banana hassle-free, you have Kyle to thank for (and Britney, of course, who had the human sense to decode this simian secret and, of course, to that monkey)! 😉 You can tweet him if you want to thank him for the tip and the video.

I wonder what happened to that monkey (no, I’m not talking about you, Freddie)…

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Written by nealm

11 July 2009 at 10:46 AM

Posted in Random

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Nouveau Nomads

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BackpackingIf money is not an issue…

Where would you go? How far? What would you do? And for how long? Who would you share your adventure with?

Backpack. That’s what I would do… backpack all over the Philippines, then Asia, then the world. I could care less about chic-y hotels and snobbish shops. I just want to enjoy nature and life as trailblazing nomads before me did– go,  seize and memorize the moments savoring the colors, sounds, sights, flavors, aromas, sensations, and then leave. To be just in any place to satiate this primeval urge to explore, to actually leave your footprints behind and take the moments with you as a reference to your next conquest is, for me, the true essence of an adventure.

I stumbled upon a video of Johannes Petrone and Samuel Petrone, who had such an adventure in places you and I just dream of.  The two Finnish brothers chronicled their 6-month backpacking sojourn in the Philippines, China, Tibet, Nepal, and Malaysia in 2006. Lucky dogs! Makes me wonder what am I doing in front of the computer and not out there drinking yak’s milk (huh?) or screaming myself silly while trying that world’s highest bungee jump (I’ll take the milk instead!).

This is the Philippine leg of their Getaway Asia 2006 video, appropriately set to the haunting, hypnotic tune of Moby‘s Porcelain (the theme song of the 2000 movie “The Beach” starring Leonardo DiCaprio from the novel of the same title by Alex Garland ). It includes stunning locales like Boracay, Palawan, Bohol, and Negros.  Enjoy!

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Written by nealm

11 July 2009 at 4:50 AM

Tokyo’s 6-Storey Gundam Robot!

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As a child of the Voltes V generation, this is the closest to the real thing for me. It’s a 1:1 replica of a Gundam robot, at 59 feet (18 meters) tall, weighing 25 tons! This is pure robot nirvana! (Japan – 1, US – 0; sorry Roomba, you’re just a cowchip with a chip. And oh, R2D2 was a dwarf actor in tin costume… how lame!) ‘Nuff said.

Gundam

Click on the picture for the Flickr photoset.

Here’s the video!

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Written by nealm

10 July 2009 at 3:22 AM

Posted in Entertainment, Tech

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Your Other (And Better) Country

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Philippine Flag

Can you call yourself a stranger in a foreign land when you actually feel right at home? Sounds paradoxical, but the Philippines is that other country you have never thought you had– your other home– only far stranger than you have imagined and more familiar than it can possibly get.

Welcome to the land of pleasant paradoxes and exceeded expectations (yours, that is)!

Blessed with a generous sprinkling of 7,107 islands in the Pacific, the Philippines beckons with paradisiacal allure and a welcome respite from the harried world and a hurried life. Here, we have mastered the art of living, the intricacies of friendship, and the passion for life.

It is just an archipelago of emerald isles that break the monotony of the mighty ocean if not for its people who are its real gem and the Pacific‘s real pride. For centuries, guests and conquerors attest to the warmth and hospitality of the Filipinos which is second to none. Magellan‘s men expressed their desire to end their quest for the Spice Island upon discovering the Filipinos and when they experienced the spices of life : bounteous feasts, verdant hills and mountains, powdery white beaches, and the hospitable people (not to mention the beautiful women).

These are just some of the obvious reasons why I made it my ardent cause to tell everyone of this wonderful place the world can call home; to experience what it is like to be a friend, a stranger, and a family member all at the same time: a friend because you will never feel left out, a stranger because it is okay to be different and yet be accepted, and a family member because you may end up marrying one of the gorgeous maidens we have here (now that is another story)! Kidding aside, you will find a kinship, a sense of belonging, with the Filipinos the moment you see the unpretentious smiles, lavish in their unconditional welcome, and witness their unscripted lives. In fact, we have elevated hospitality from an art form to a time-honored tradition that you can’t help but feel and experience the Filipino way of living not just observe it. And yes, your pictures may tell a thousand and one words of what the Philippines is like, but your heart will tell what it is like to be with the Filipinos.

To the world, you are a traveler. Here, you are family.

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Written by nealm

31 January 2009 at 10:11 AM