Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Solar Eclipse Photos - Philippines July 22

It wasn't a total solar eclipse in the Philippines, but nevertheless, the partial Solar Eclipse today (July 22) still elicited some excited giggles from my female colleagues, some expressions of awe and wonder, and some feelings of minisculity.

I half-ran back to my office after a meeting, glancing at the sun, but just hurting my eyes in the process. I stopped and squinted to see if there was anything happening up there, only to be betrayed by my eyes, tearing up from the glare.

When I got to my office, I found a couple of my colleagues had taken out some x-rays of pipelines (I work in a refinery) and were using those to watch the ongoing eclipse. When I got my turn to look, I was hugely disappointed! It was already 830AM by then and all I could see was a small chip on the upper-left portion of the circle that was the sun, so small it was virtually unnoticeable! Bah!

But I was sure that it was going to be amazing. So sure in fact that I did not, could not, stop watching, waiting for the awesomeness to happen.

A few minutes passed. Then I realized... the eclipse was not ending, it was only beginning. :D woot! And my spirits picked up.

I still had to work, but for that hour before my 10AM meeting, I went out every 10 minutes or so to see the eclipse in progress. A few colleagues passed by after learning that we had some materials for viewing the spectacle. They left with exclamations: "beautiful!" "amazing!" and "awesome!" reflecting what I had been shouting in my heart as well. The moon's shadow covered about one fourth of the sun's face at it's "peak". Not much, but still remarkable.

Yesterday, I was reading the Time magazine's article on the celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the first moon landing, and today I was floored in amazement, seeing the shadow of the moon run past one side of the sun. Wow, the moon's really there even though we can't see it. It really is! Haha.

I felt small, watching the solar eclipse. Tiny. And awestruck. And now I wait for the next one, the countdown to the next Total Solar Eclipse begins today!

*Thanks to Boks for the photos!

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Syzygy Watch: July 22, 2009 Total Solar Eclipse

Bring your solar filters and cameras, a Total Solar Eclipse, one of the rarest celestial events on Earth is happening on Wednesday, July 22, 2009! It will be visible between around 8AM and 9AM on that day (at GMT+8hrs, just compute for your own country's time! ;p) in the following countries: India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and China. The moon's shadow will then blot out our sun in Japan's Ryukyu Islands before hovering over the Pacific Ocean and eventually disappearing. The solar eclipse will be partially visible for the most of Eastern Asia (including the Philippines! woot! woot!), Indonesia and the Pacific Islands.

Packaged Tours are available in places in the world where the eclipse will be completely visible, like in India, where they will witness the "100% solar eclipse with diamond ring." It is only the third total solar eclipse to be visible in India in the past 15 years and one has to wait for another 78 Years, to witness such a spectacle again. The next total solar eclipse will occur in 2087.

In the Philippines, I remember 2 solar eclipses in my lifetime. The first one was the total solar eclipse on March 18, 1988, when I was a young (and innocent, hehe) 6 year old kid (I just turned 6 the week before that!). I remember my mom brought out a basin of water and told us to look at the reflection on the water and not directly at the sun. Some of my neighbors brought discarded film negatives and looked through those.

I had excitedly anticipated the partial solar eclipse of June 11, 2002, but the sky was uncooperative. The clouds hid the sun completely so I didn't even partially see the partial solar eclipse.

I did not know about the most recent partial solar eclipse, visible from the Philippines. Apparently there was one last January 29, 2009, but that it was at sunset.

Now the next total solar eclipse will be on April 20, 2042. Mark your calendars folks. lol. I'll be 60 by then, but I promise you, I will watch that solar syzygy with my children and my grandchildren and I will tell them all about my first total solar eclipse when I was 6 years old. :D

I'll tell them all about syzygies too, and how I was, well, born on a syzygy. :D

Image from here.
Solar eclipses in the Philippines

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Michael Jackson is dead and why I even care

I am a fan of Michael Jackson. And I'm devastated that he's dead.

If you've seen the movie "Mr. Holland's Opus" in the scene where the lead character finds out over the radio that John Lennon of the Beatles had been shot - that's exactly how I felt like when I found out about MJ.
"...the King of Pop, his heart has stopped..."
I found out through a text message from Liz, and I actually thought it was another one of those so-and-so-is-dead-hoax things, but when I checked, it was all over the news. On all news websites, on Twitter, on Facebook, on all TV channels, on all radio stations, they were talking about nothing else: "the King of Pop, his heart has stopped". Yes folks, the Jacko is dead.

Everywhere you go they were playing Michael Jackson songs, you could even listen to "Thriller" in the mall in broad daylight. They've stopped playing David Cook's version and opted for 80's style "Billy Jean". In my car you'd hear "The Way You Make Me Feel", one of my all time favorite MJ songs.

There were numerous tributes on MTV, Channel V, even the local Myx channel. Variety shows had all these celebrities singing and dancing to MJ songs. Michael Jackson was ubiquitous again, at least for the moment.
"...I respect him as an artist... "
Now, I am not a HUGE Michael Jackson fan: I do not have any of his albums, nor do I have any posters or souvenirs; I have never seen his concerts or saw him performing live, (although I wanted to when he visited the Philippines almost 10 years ago, too bad it was my final exams at the time!), I do not know all the lyrics to his songs, or his life story or anything like that... some fan, right?

But I still do consider myself a Michael Jackson fan.

I am a fan because despite all the media frenzy about his molestation charges, his weird behavior, his disappearing melanin, his disintegrating nose...I say: I may not understand his person, but I understand his talent. He is a very talented man and I respect him as an artist...
"...did he really defy gravity..."
I grew up in the 80's, this I guess, influenced much of how I perceived Michael Jackson. I distinctly remember hearing myths about him, stories about him never needing to sing lipsynch, seeing his concerts full of people screaming and crying like crazy just to see him, I grew up listening to his amazingly high songs (hee hee! go on girl!), his uber amazing videos, his amazing dancing (he floats!)...I mean who was this man who commanded the attention of the world so easily? Can he really float over the stage, did he really just stand on his toes? (must be the shoes). Did he really defy gravity in Smooth Criminal (yeah, it's gotta be the shoes, gotta get me those shoes!).

Sure, some of his latter songs or albums did not sell as massively as the earlier ones, but MJ still commanded the attention of the world. I was actually excited when I heard that he was recording new material for an album, collaborating with today's hottest artists. I was interested to see how his style will re-emerge seeing how relevant his old songs still sound even though they are a few decades old already. I was looking forward to buying my first Michael Jackson album...

But now I'd have to settle for one of his catalogue albums which are not at all less compelling to buy, especially now. I'm thinking of getting "History". What do you think?

Michael Jackson: His talent, his uniqueness, and his passion for performance has captured the imagination of the whole world, including mine. Thank you for the inspiration!

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What is a syzygy?

"I was born on a syzygy."

"And what is a syzygy?" I have been asked several times already, so here's a quick explanation!

Where did the word come from? Pronounce as [see-zee-jee], it is late Latin syzygia conjunction, from Greek, from syzygos yoked together, from syn- + zygon yoke. And If you've seen the musical "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee", it's one of the first words they spell. :D Haha!

"...a syzygy is basically an alignment of celestial bodies."

Syzygy definition: In Astronomy, a syzygy is basically an alignment of celestial bodies. From earth, when we see a solar or lunar eclipse, it means the moon, the earth and the sun are in alignment or in conjunction, hence the shadow of one on another.

This is not limited to the sun, moon and earth, solar eclipses and lunar eclipses. Syzygies may be made up of the different celestial bodies in a gravitational system, e.g. our solar system.

So which one was I born on?

On March 10, 1982, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto was on the same side of the Sun, within a 95 degree wide interval (the closest they have been in more than 800 years!).

Almost a decade before that, in 1974, John Gribbin and Stephen Plagemann published The Jupiter Effect, a bestselling book that predicted that on March 10, 1982 the alignment of the planets would create a number of catastrophes, including a great earthquake on the San Andreas Fault.

"...the alignment of the planets would create a number of catastrophes, including a great earthquake..."

A few weeks prior to that, there was indeed an earthquake somewhere in California which triggered a lot of talks and a lot of press about the "coming end of the world".

Three days before that, my mother went into labor for her second child (me!). She had labor pains and was already in bed with the comadrona (midwife) and my dad by her side. However, I was not ready to come out yet. Not yet!

On March 10, 1982 the predicted Syzygy did happen to the delight of star gazers but the catastrophes did not occur, as the gravitational effect of the other planets on the Earth’s crust is minimal even at their closest approach.

Then at the stroke of midnight on March 11, 1982, while everyone was celebrating that they were still alive (haha!), my mom, already 3 days in "labor" finally gave birth to a handsome, I mean healthy baby boy.

I suppose I really had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with it, but it's nicer to think that the world did not end because I was going to be born! Hehehe!

What are the effects of syzygies on the Earth?

So, I emailed a real astronomer about this and here is and excerpt of the reply that I got:
"The syzygy of 1982 had no real "effects" on Earth - even the combined gravity of all the planets aligned can't hold a candle to the gravity exerted by the Sun or Moon. That said, there was one important consequence of the 1982 alignment of the planets: the Voyager missions.

Because they were all relatively close at that time, it allowed us to launch two spacecrafts in 1977 to conduct a "Grand Tour" of the outer solar system, and one of the spacecraft at least was able to visit Jupiter in 1979, Saturn in 1981, Uranus in 1986, and Neptune in 1989. So, I guess in that sense it can be said to have an "effect" on Earth in that we were able to greatly increase our knowledge of the outer solar system..."

Corny, right? lol.
I refuse to end this post on a corny note. So I go back to my earlier (non-)assertion...that it nicer to think that the world did not end because I was going to be born!

Still not satisfied?

Definitions of sygyzy:
Merriam Webster definition
The Free Dictionary definition
Answers definition
Your Dictionary definition
Dictionary definition
Encarta definition

Sites that talk about the Jupiter Effect & the 1982 syzygy
Alaska Science Forum

Syzygy images from:
Syzygy Poets
Institute of Creation Research

Monday, July 13, 2009

Auditions for Hongkong Disneyland Performers on July 16 and 17

I received this note in my email twice, so now I feel compelled to blog about it. Hahaha!

Around 5 years ago, I would have auditioned, if just for the heck of it. I did for Miss Saigon Korea, and actually got a callback. :p I sang "Why, God, Why?" I did well enough, I guess, but couldn't impress the panel for the dance auditions. Hehehe...

Now, the first time I auditioned for a play outside of UP and of the UPCC was for Repertory Philippines' "The Secret Garden." I sang "Lily's Eyes," a duet. For that, I also got a callback and a semi-compliment from the late Bibot Amador (on my way out of the theater she asked me if I was going to the "callback", and I said yes). Too bad I did poorly at the callbacks, forgot the words both times I sang it. :p Haha!

Even if I never fulfilled my dream to be a professional thespian (see Profile: "...frustrated thespian") I had tremendous fun auditioning for these plays, and now remember fondly how nervous and excited I was during the auditions and how great it was to get a thumbs up afterwards. At the end of the day though, I knew that it wasn't for me, I am happier being a nerd than a rockstar. :p So as it turned out, not being hired was perfect for me! Hehe!

But for the rest of you out there who "dream the dream", get your dancing shoes and vocal chops ready! Mickey wants you in his Kingdom!

Here are the details of the Hongkong Disneyland Auditions:

In partnership with The Music School of Ryan Cayabyab,

representatives from Walt Disney Entertainment Talent Casting will be holding auditions in Manila searching for Vocalists and Dancers to perform at Hong Kong Disneyland.

Professional performers at least 18 years old who possess both excellent musicianship and showmanship are being sought in auditions that will be held on the following dates:


Vocalists should bring sheet music of two contrasting songs.
Pre-recorded accompaniments in any format and a cappella are not allowed.
10:00 a.m., July 16, 2009 (Thursday)
The Music School of Ryan Cayabyab, Robinsons Galleria


Dancers will be taught a dance combination. Wear appropriate dance attire.
9:00 a.m., July 17, 2009 (Friday)
Halili-Cruz School of Ballet, 1227 Quezon Avenue

Pre-registration is now going on!!!

Please bring one non-returnable recent 2" x 2" colour photo and resume to:

The Music School of Ryan Cayabyab
Park Avenue, Robinsons Galleria, Ortigas Ave. cor. EDSA, 1100 Quezon City
Telephone: 637-9840 and 914-5055 / E-mail:

For more information concerning Hong Kong Disneyland, please visit:

ps. this is not a paid advertisement!

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Tali Beach, Nasugbu, Batangas


If you have inquiries about the Tali Beach private resort featured here, text or call the owners at 361-7091 or 0917-8828760 or email them at talibeach[at] - Tell them you got their contact info from! :D

It was Liz's department outing, and I was one of the designated drivers! Hehehe. The tradeoff: 2 days on a private resort on Tali Beach, Nasugbu, Batangas, with hotelier people who have great taste, great skills in the kitchen, and a ton of hilarious hotel stories. The 2 hour drive up was worth it. :D

Squeezing in some Tali Beach time

It was my first time in Tali Beach, and actually also my first time on a beach resort in Nasugbu. I know Nasugbu only for the wedding chapels, haha; a whole lot of my colleagues have gotten married in Caleruega, Chapel on the Hill and thereabouts, so I was pretty familiar with the place. :p

We were there on June 12 and 13. A sliver of one of the shortest summers I've ever experienced. During our stay, the sun was tucked away for the most part, although we did get to swim for about an hour or so. Liz's colleagues prepared several games for the group. I am always amused at how game everyone is in their team and I like it that they create the fun for themselves and for everybody. I think it's an important lesson, that even in a corporate setting, with hierarchies of positions and office politics, that it shouldn't prevent you from enjoying yourself and participating in a few games. Besides, everyone needs a bit of fun!

Tali Beach Resort - Holding Hands While Walking

At dusk, we walked around the short beach and "visited" the neighbors. We found the whole beach actually had a row of vacation houses, most probably for rent. It was a nice enough place, although if you're after sand, there's not a lot of that. It's not comparable to the white sand beaches of Boracay or Puerto Galera in the vicinity of the place we stayed at, but rather I would describe the beach as private and relaxing, very well suited for big families that are not much on swimming, but more on spending quality time together, in a getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Tali Beach Resort - Non Stop Eating! 

True to form, the food was always exquisite, although I probably gained over 10 pounds in those 2 days, with nothing to do but sit, eat, drink, relax, talk, and sleep. Hehe. Well, I'm not complaining. I had a great relaxing time.Before we left, we bought ourselves some lobsters straight from the fisherman's net. It was quite pricey at Ph600 per lobster, but I figured it would probably cost a lot more at the Market in Manila.

On the way down, we stopped by Tagaytay for lunch then stopped again at Ming's garden for some Yellow Bells and some hanging plants.

Click on the photos to view full sized.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Vote for me on MTV Blogger Contest

Sure, we want the best of both worlds: we want lots of money and musical independence. But can you have both?

Being an indie band offers freedom to decide what musical direction to take, which songs to release, how and where to promote your music. The advent of internet sites like iTunes, MySpace and YouTube have also allowed more indie artists to "earn from their living rooms" than ever before. So as an indie artist, you should first as yourself, do you really need to be under a major label..

Read the full post on the site by clicking here: Indie artists: Pragmatism in the face of adversity!

and please VOTE for me by clicking the THUMBS UP symbol on there. Hehehe!

Thanks in advance! :D

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Funk" and other funky movies

We used to play this hilarious game where we replaced words in movie titles with the word "itlog" or "egg" in English. Now, let's try it for the word "funk", replacing words in the worldwide top grossing movies of all time (as of end June 2009!)

#1 (1997) "Titanic Funk" - hm.. it's one word!
#2 (2003) "The Lord of the Rings: Return Funk of the King" - hahahaha!
#3 (2006) "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest Funk" - he's dead already!
#4 (2008) "The Dark Knight Funk" - why is it dark? on second thought, I don't want to know...
#5 (2001) "Harry Funk Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" - can you imagine if J.K. Rowling named the lead character Funk instead of Harry?
#6 (2007) "Pirates Funks of the Caribbean: At World's End" - or Punks. hahaha, maybe the writer had a bad case of "P & F syndrome".
#7 (2007) "Harry Potter and the Order of the Funk" - yah man @ Harry.
#8 (2002) "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Funky Towers" - I wonder what funky towers look like? Maybe there's a huge photo of James Brown on the facade!
#9 (1999) "Star Wars Ep. I: The Phantom Menace Funk" - it goes together right? Phantom Phunk! cool..
#10 (1993) "Jurassic Funk Park" - OK, i can't think of anything witty (and wholesome) for this one...

Other notable titles:
#12 "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Funk" - erm... eherm... this is a wholesome blog!
#38 "Kung Fu Panda Funk" - and the protagonist fights using funky dance moves lol!
#57 "WALL FUNK-E" - yeah! funky baby!
#150 "My Big Fat Greek Wedding Funk"
#176 "The Curious Case Funk of Benjamin Button"
#190 "As Good Funk as it Gets"

What's your favorite movie? Replace one word with "Funk" and see what you come up with! Share it in the comments box below!

Interested to see the full list of highest grossing movies worldwide? They're monitored by The Numbers! Check 'em out.

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