Thursday, April 30, 2009

"I have Aquaphobia"

A Theme Thursday post

Actually, no I DON'T have Aquaphobia. (sorry, lol!)
But I could very well have developed a fear of water after having experienced two, shall we say, "watery" accidents.
"...getting an anxiety attack when splashed with water..."
What is Aquaphobia anyway? Aquaphobia is an abnormal and persistent fear of water. Not to be confused with "Hydrophobia" (which is also fear of water but in a more I've-been-bitten-by-a-dog kind of way), Aquaphobia is manifested by avoiding activities such as swimming or boating, and may extend to getting an anxiety attack when splashed with water or thrown into a pool.

Wikipedia explains further that Aquaphobia may be "a reaction to a traumatic water experience - a near drowning or other such event."

The first of two events happened in Feb 1999... It was our graduating year in high school, and one of our friends was celebrating her 18th birthday (traditionally called the "Debutante"). It was a formal afternoon party followed by a swimming party. Unfortunately I had a bit of a fever that day and so I decided not to go swimming. After the formal event, I was just lounging around the pool watching some of my friends swim.

"...I found myself flying through the air and down into the deep end..."

While I was standing near the 6-feet deep side of the pool, I suddenly felt a jolt and found myself flying through the air and down into the deep end of the swimming pool. Someone has pushed me in as a prank!!! Mind you, I was all dressed up in my slacks and leather shoes. It was too deep for me I don't even remember reaching the bottom (yep, I'm that short...) and when I finally surfaced, the panic began.

I was trying to scream "Help! I can't swim!" but I couldn't even breathe. I willed myself to reach the side of the pool, thinking "will nobody help me?". I was almost at the side when the debutante herself shouted "He can't swim!" and only then did people help me out of the pool. It must've been only a few minutes, but it seemed like an eternity to me. Gasping for air, shivering and coughing, they scampered to get me a towel and a change of clothes.

I only found out later on that everyone thought I could swim.
"Damn it. I need to learn how to swim..." but I didn't. And so when accident #2 came around, I was still grossly unprepared...

READ PART 2 HERE: "If I let go, I'm going to drown!"

"If I let go, I'm going to drown!"

This is the conclusion of the post titled "I have Aquaphobia, a Theme Thursday post"

It was a bright sunny summer day back in 2004.
We were having a great time in Sur, Oman, visiting my dad. We went to the Turtle beach early in the morning and saw sea turtles laying eggs, dozens of tiny baby turtles, we also rode on camels, rode ATV's and went up and down the sand dunes.

Off on a speedboat along the coastline of the Gulf, we were being stupid adventurous and accepted an invitation to ride on the banana boat... with no life vests.
"...since I was going on a floating device, I wasn't so worried..."
I asked them to be careful and not go too fast because I wasn't a very strong swimmer. At the time, I had learned how to swim short distances, but I've never been in open water before without a life vest. They reassured me that they would be careful, and since I was going to be on a floating device, I wasn't so worried. It was my first time to go on a banana boat. I didn't realize it was going to be like that...

The banana boat was big enough for only 2 people. My dad and I boarded, and the speedboat started pulling us. It was great! Exhilirating! Exciting! I was even cheering and howling while holding on tightly to both side grips of the banana boat...

And then it happened: the speedboat revved-up, and with the change in speed, the banana boat tilted, then turned on its side. My dad let go instantaneously (which was the proper thing to do), but I didn't. The turn made me lose my grip on my right hand, so I was holding on to the banana boat with just my left hand.

The speedboat was still running and I was being dragged over the water, my left hand holding tightly on to the banana boat for dear life. My arms and legs were flying all over the place (which my sister later described as like watching a rag doll). But I had no feeling in my body other than my left hand. And I had no other thoughts just, "don't let go...don't let go or you'll drown! DON'T LET GO!"

I managed to hold on until they slowed down and pulled me in. I even managed to laugh and say I was fine after the fact. But for a while after that I was seriously scared of the open water.

The lesson folks: Don't be crazy, wear a life vest.

Have you ever almost drowned or had a "near miss"?

We actually have this on videocam, but when I fell off the banana boat and was being dragged over the water, my sister who was holding the cam forgot all about shooting so all you see is the floor of the boat. :p

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hall of Fame: Filipino Blog of the Week

My 5-week run at the Filipino Blog of the Week has ended on a high note!

Today, talksmart of The Composed Gentleman has elevated Born on a Syzygy~ to the Filipino Blog of the Week Hall of Fame after dominating the blog voting this week with 196 votes. This was the 2nd win for me, the first one was on the first week that I was a nominee (March 21-27). See my rankings for the 5-week run on the sidebar.

The prizes below come with the win! Click images to take you to the Filipino Blog of the Week definition and list of past winners...

Because of this week's win, "~Syzygy" will also be featured again on The Composed Gentleman's site for this whole week.

It was really an amazing voting week for me. I actually was not promoting the contest as much as I had done during the first week, and yet the votes kept coming it. I received more votes this week than any other week prior. So for everyone who took the time out to vote for me, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

Did you vote for me? Please leave a comment below so I can thank you!

Friday, April 24, 2009

"See pictures of my boxers"

On a friend's blogsite...

kaich: "Early this morning, we got a call from our security office: they have an unclaimed boxer, approximately 8 months old, who has no one to care for her..."

kaich: "We can't keep her at home anymore because our house is full and our resources are short for the care of another, but she's so sweet I want to make sure she finds a nice home."

Friend #1: "me"

Friend #2: "Awwww, cutie doggie!"

Friend #3: "aww kawawa! but with the house i have now, my cats would do anything in their power to drive her out..."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Living Batangueño: My new vocabulary

I'm a city born boy living and working in Batangas City for the last 4 years. This post is part of a series about adjusting to life in Batangas - Living Batangueño. Please subscribe!

Don't call the ladies "manang"

In Manila, it is common to refer to anyone older than you as "manang / manong", or "ate / kuya", both meaning elder sister or brother. In Batangas, the proper term for respect is "Ka". For example, you would call an elder who is not your relative "Ka -insert_name_here-", say for example, Ka Roger or Ka Pedring or Ka Linda.

When I was newly transplanted, some colleagues and I would have lunch at this nearby "bangihan" (bbq) place. One time, I was wanting something spicy for my sauce, so I called out to the serving lady, "Manang, pahingi ho ng sili (can I have some chili)". The lady just smiled at me and asked for some chili from another serving lady. The other lady then brought her some chili teasing, "O, Ka Manang, eto na yung sili! (here's the chili!)". Hehehehe. Pwnd! :p

Call me "Utoy" (not tutoy!)

On the other end of the geriatric spectrum, while elders are called "Ka", young Batangueño boys are referred to as "utoy" and young Batangueño girls are called "ineng". Being baby-faced and short (ouch!), I'm often called "utoy" here. That actually took some getting used to for my ears as "utoy" sounds very similar to "tutoy" which is in Manila, a short name for a kid's penis. Lol!


It's pronounced "gah"

One of the very first Batangueño things I learned was how to properly pronounce "ga". I had always thought it was pronounced with a shortened guttural "a" sound, pronouncing the "g" then closing your throat as if you choking. I was wrong! :p It's pronounced with a bit more sustained "a" (like "gaa" or "gah").

Now go practice!

"Ano, ga?"

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Random: I've been on vacation mode since last week

Vacation Mode
I cannot for the respect of everything corporate continue like this...
Sure I have completed some tasks...
Sure I replied to some emails...
Sure I have not wasted my manhours on nothing...
Sure I'm still net positive on output vs input (haha, whatever)...

But damn, dude, my brain is already at the beach, receiving a relaxing massage by the shore, listening to the waves and soaking up the sun. My brain has been, since last week, off to Boracay or Puerto Galera or Palawan, begging my body to go and book a flight already! Please please please...

So I went and finalized a trip to Puerto Galera Beach in Mindoro this coming Labor Day long weekend! ...Excited much? I'll bring back photos. Haha.
Don't know yet where we will be staying, but I'm looking forward to relaxing and partying, maybe play with some fishies, go snorkeling, go dancing, swimming, whopee!

I accompanied a friend of mine to a vulcanizing shop to take a nail out of his tire. Turns out he had 2 tires that had nails in 'em, for a grand total of 4 holes. lol. He's been driving around with 4 freakin' holes in his tires. :p

While we're on the topic, I think vulcanizing shop mechanics are terribly underpaid.

10,000 blog hits!
I do believe I am semi-obsessive.
How many times do you check your blog daily just to see if someone left a comment? :p
Do you keep an excel spreadsheet of your daily blog hits? (By the way, I'm approaching 10,000 hits on this blog, and expecting it to reach 10k within the week! 10,000 hits, and MORE THAN HALF of that was just in the last 4 months!)

I just restarted blogging in January of this year, and from an average of 3 hits per day last year, I'm now up to 80+ hits per day. I know that's not a lot yet, but hey! Thanks to all the visitors.

OK, all for now. Off to dinner.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The new (last) Harry Potter and the HBP trailer

The final Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince trailer is out! It's below after the "jump". Are you excited? The trailer looks awesome. Really dark and mysterious. Need to review the book though, it's been more than a year since I read it, haha.

And read this: "The release of the new Harry Potter film in the US has been brought forward by two days. It'll now open on Wednesday 15 July - the same day as it opens in the UK."
I had reported on this blogpost last month that Harry Potter and the HBP will come out in the Philippines on July 16. Are you going to watch it?

'Ere's the trailer:

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Theme Thursday: Earth!

This is a blast from the past for me, from my childhood (which, come to think of it, is now quite distant...) watching cartoons on television. One particular cartoons series I enjoyed was Captain Planet and the Planeteers. This week's theme reminded me of it because it's always the first element they shout. I actually know this next one by heart...

Kwame: ...Then let our powers combine! EARTH!
Wheeler: FIRE!
Linka: WIND!
Mati: HEART!
Captain Planet: By your powers combined, I am Captain Planet!
All: Go Planet!
*Song - Captain Planet, he's our hero! Gonna take pollution down to zero...

- then I don't know anymore. Haha!
This video, I conveniently found on YouTube, the intro to Captain Planet's first episode:

I really enjoyed this series because aside from the entertaining action sequences (hehe) they also have tips on how to save the earth at the end. I think this is really helpful in making children aware of how pollution affects the world.

This is one of my favorite cartoons from the 80's. But just to reminisce, my other favorite cartoons then were Transformers, Voltes V, Daimos, Thundercats, He-man and the Masters of the Universe, Care Bears (stare!), Visionaries (this one is my favorite!), King Arthur and the Knights of the Round table, Thundercats, and so many others! Haha...

What was YOUR favorite cartoon series?

I live on a golf course but cannot play to save my life

Next week will mark the 4th anniversary of the first time I came to live on a golf course. And in those 4 years, I have never been able to hit a golf ball properly. Not once. Nope.

Let me qualify though, that in those 4 years, I have only held a golf club a maximum of maybe 10 times... Haha! But truthfully, I am all praise and respect for anyone great at golf because it is one mind boggling game. I have never been able to get my mind around how to actually play it. That oddly shaped stick and the tiny hole where you have to putt it in is just too much of a mismatch to comprehend.

I mean, basketball, even though I suck at that too, is fairly easy to understand HOW you get to be good at it. The same goes with football, volleyball, even tennis or badminton. Chess, the game of strategy, is also a concept not that difficult to understand: you anticipate your opponents moves and make your own strategic plans...

But golf, dear Holy God, whoever made this sport was crazy...

Some more photos of the golf course...

Okay, some of those are not really part of the golf course, but who's keeping track anyway? :p

The white thing in the
foreground is a mushroom!

With the swimming pool and some flowers along the driveway too.
And lastly, here's a funny blogsite with jokes about golf.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Photographs: Good Friday Procession

For the first time in a long time, I joined a procession in my home baranggay of Santolan, Pasig. The procession went around the whole baranggay and then back to our local church the Santo Tomas de Villanueva Parish Church where I used to sing with the choir and was commentator for the "children's mass" on Saturdays. Liz and I walked with the huge throng of people (must've been more than 500 people there...) but only for a little bit coz we had to leave for the province.

More photos below...

Armed with candles and fans, we joined the throng of mourners, remembering Jesus Christ's death on this Good Friday.

Happy Easter (tomorrow)!

My Visita Iglesia

In the spirit of the traditional Visita Iglesia, here are some photos I took of Manila Cathedral in October last year (2008) while waiting for some papers to clear at the Bureau of Immigration.

Although my camera was only a point and shoot Canon Ixus 90IS, I was trying to learn how to play with light at different settings. When I have enough experience and money, or when the recession is over, maybe I'll get a better camera! Here are some of my favorite shots:

I was sitting in front of the church, then I looked up to see the noontime sun. It was really hot that day so I went under an Ipil tree for shade and got the above shot...

I loved how the light from the stained glass was reflected on the newly polished floor. :D

And it being really bright outside, I got good even lighting on the stained glass window.

This sculpture was on the door of the cathedral. I actually never noticed it before. I liked the way the side lighting gave it more depth.

See some more of my Manila Cathedral photos HERE.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

How to eat Balut

Really, there's only one thing that came to my mind when I found out Thursday's Theme was "egg", and that is...


For the weak hearted, DO NOT PROCEED! :p ...

Balut is a Filipino delicacy (yes it's food!), a soft boiled duck egg with a semi-formed duck embryo. It is also widely regarded as an aphrodisiac.
Enjoy the rich taste of balut, the yellow part is soft and the darker part is crunchy! Why crunchy? Because it's the little unhatched baby duckling!

How to Eat Balut

Here's how to properly enjoy a balut:

1. Well, first you have to buy one from a street vendor who usually comes at night yelling, "Baluuuut!!! Baluuut!!!". He will give you one egg wrapped in old newspaper shaped liked an upturned sailor's hat, and a small plastic packet of salt.

2. The egg is kept warm in the vendor's cart, so it will be a bit warm to the touch. Hold it firmly at the smaller end of the egg and crack open the other side by lightly tapping it on a hard surface (you head will do!)

3. When you've created a small hole by removing some shell bits, you suck out the juice of the balut (complete with all the duckling's amniotic fluid!). Slurp! Very good!

4. Take off the rest of the shell to get to the "meat" of the balut. Chow down with conviction (and don't stop to think!) eating the yellow part with a bit of salt, and the crunchy baby duckling too.

5. Enjoy your balut! "Pampalakas ng tuhod!" (To make your knees strong!)

All photos are from a friend's recent birthday party, with san miguel beer and balut among other things!

Related article on Balut!
NBC's Fear Factor

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Filipino Blog of the Week: Going for 3rd week in the top 3!

Hello everyone! I just wanted to quickly say a BIG Thank you to everyone who voted to make this blog the Filipino Blog of the Week:

Filipino Blog of the Week Winner for Week 153! (March 21 to 28)
Filipino Blog of the Week 3rd place for Week 154! (March 28 to April 4) - akalain mo yun?

Born on a Syzygy~ is again (yes again!) in the roster of nominees for Filipino Blog of the Week for Week 155 (April 4 to 11). If you want to show your support, please visit THIS SITE to tick the box next to reyjr on the sidebar, and then VOTE! You can vote EVERYDAY so please do!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Hello Baguio!

Liz and I, with Belle (Liz' twin sister) and her 3yo daughter Keisha went up to Baguio last March to spend a few days relaxing in the cool weather.

Baguio is a Road Trip

It was kind of a spur of the moment decision: Liz and I wanted to go out of town for our 6th anniversary as a couple and we also wanted to celebrate my birthday. And since there was an available staff house in Baguio (only P1000 per night!), we decided to drive up and stay for 3 days at the Summer Capital of the Philippines.

Friday, April 03, 2009

The 2008 Philippine Bar Exam Results are out!

To all those who passed the Philippine Bar Exams!!!

with special Congratulations to my friend,
Ramirez, Shaina Anella B

Here is the link to the exam results c/o GMA News
~2008 Philippine Bar Exam Results~

The Top 1o are as follows:
  1. Judy Lardizabal, San Sebastian College, 85.70%
  2. Mylene Amerol-Macumbal, Mindanao State University, 85.65%
  3. Oliver Baclay Jr., Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), 85.6%
  4. Majesty Eve Jala, Ateneo de Manila, 85.50%
  5. Ma. Elizabeth Liceralde, University of the Philippines (UP), 85.40%
  6. Michael Macapagal, UP, 84.15%
  7. Denise Dy and April Love Regis, ADMU, (tied at seventh place), 84.00%
  8. Christine Joy Tan, ADMU, 83.80%
  9. Shirley Velasquez, UP and Gian Jacob, San Beda (tied at ninth place), 83.75%
  10. Vanessa Raymundo, San Beda Collage, 83.70%