Sunday, January 14, 2007

Sana Maulit Muli: My Take on the Initial Story

I was hooked the moment I saw the debut episode of ABS-CBN's new soap Sana Maulit Muli. The network giant took a great risk in topbilling showbiz newcomers Kim Chiu and Gerald Anderson in the roles of Poknat and Bokbok. But as far as the latest episode, the two have been able to hold their ground.

Every night saw me glued on the boob tube absorbing each scene with intense concentration. It makes me feel nostalgic remembering experiences of the past. I'd say that the performance of Kim and Gerald has been excellent so far. A few flaws here and there but overall, it is great.

One notable point is the consistency of the characters Poknat and Bokbok. You can really see the same person from the time they were introduced until they finally meet again. At least it shows that a lot of thought has been put into the script and that is good.

However, I find the character of Michael de Mesa a bit off, even vestigial. He seems disconnected from the entire story line. It would have been better if de Mesa's character has been scrapped altogether. The soap has been solid and convincing as far as the other characters are concerned.

I do admit though that it is still very early to concretely determine the merits of Mang Andres' character. He may yet play a pivotal part in the later installments but as of now, he is merely a nuisance. The realistic standpoint of the early episodes has been sabotaged by the introduction of this character. Until I see the point in this move, I'll remain against him.

Just my two cents.

Mental Health Issues

This interesting article from MedicineNet talks about the mental health differences between Asians and Americans. It revealed that Asians enjoy better mental health as compared to their American counterparts.
"Roughly 48 percent of Americans will have some kind of lifetime disorder. In our study, less than one in four Asian-American immigrants will have a disorder. However, that won't necessarily be the case for their children and grandchildren. If trends continue, rates for them will go up, and that suggests that more investment is needed for prevention programs,"
This is statement from study lead author David Takeuchi, a sociologist and social work professor at the University of Washington.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Buhay ng Isang Bampira

Noong umpisa mahirap dahil hindi pa sanay. Pero nang tumagal ayos na rin. Marami na kaming ganito. Gising at buhay kapag gabi at tulog naman pag umaga. Nagtataka nga ako kung bakit napili ko ganitong buhay. Pero wala magagawa eh, kailangan at hinihingi ng pagkakataon.

Naalala ko pa noon, halos tatlong buwan ding ganito ang kalakaran ng sitwasyon ko. Hiningi ko rin naman talaga ang ganung buhay dahil mas mulat ako kapag pumatak na ang dilim. Ewan ko ba pero parang mas masigla ako kapag lumubog na ang araw. Tila ba nais ipahiwatig na sa dilim ako humuhugot ng lakas.

Parang saliw ng musika sa aking tenga ang huni ng mga kuliglig habang ako papalabas ng bahay. Ang sinag ng buwan na sadyang nakakahalina ang nagsisilbi kong gabay sa daan. Malimit, natutulala ako sa kanyang ganda at magigitla na lang ako kapag may narinig na ugong ng sasakyan. Tahol ng mga aso ang kasama ko habang binabagtas ang masukal na daan. Bagamat marami sa kanila ang naglalabas ng mga pangil, di ko alintana ang paghingi nila ng pansin.

Sa aking pagdating sa aking sadya, magaan ang pakiramdam at ngiti ang nakapinta sa aking labi. Tahak ang daan pataas, dahan dahan kong pinagmamasdan ang mga bagay-bagay na abot ng aking paningin. Magaan ang aking loob sa lugar na 'to kahit puno ng pagkukunwari at kasinungalingan. Ngunit hindi ito naging hadlang upang ako ay maging masaya.

Naaninag ko na ang aking mga kasamahan, naghihintay at nag-aabang ng kanilang pagkakataon. Sa pagsapit ng takdang oras, kami ay hihimlay na sa aming mga lugar. Maya-maya lang ay rinig na ang lagatak ng keyboard ng aming mga computer. Magdamag kaming ganito para kahit papano ay kumita. Kinabukasan, matutulog habang ang mundo ay gising at muling babangon sabay sa pagbagsak ng takipsilim. Ganyan ang buhay naming mga bampira.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

My Personal Legend

I was intrigued by the buzz people were making about the book The Alchemist written by Paulo Coelho. It made me feel like I was being left out on something good so I looked for a copy to see if it’s worth my while.

I finally found one and was not disappointed. The book was really good and I found myself hanging on every word written by this master storyteller. I read and reread it not getting enough of the cleverly woven tale.

The story is all about the journey of a shepherd boy named Santiago in his quest for his personal legend. Along the way, he meets different people who in one way or another contributed to the fulfilment of his destiny.

This voyage helps him realize many lessons that shape his person into what he is supposed to become. I saw myself in the same situation as Santiago is in but me being just halfway in finding my personal legend while his is done.

I liked the idea about the universe conspiring to help a person achieve his destiny. It is indeed true for many, if not all people trying to reach for their dreams. The book says that one has only to listen to his heart since it will be a guide pointing to the right path to be taken.

I realized that actually, the many setbacks in my life were the result of me not paying heed to what my heart was saying. These failures could have been life’s way of nudging me to make a detour maybe because I have strayed too far.

Strayed far I did. It feels frustrating to find that the path seemingly right is not what it appears to be. Probably because it seemed easy that is why I took it only to realize later how wrong that assumption was.

When the alchemist did what is considered as the Holy Grail of alchemy, to turn base metal into gold, the boy asked if he could one day do it. The alchemist said that it is not his personal legend and he is not meant to do it.

That particular scene sensibly explained the many frustrations people like me feel about themselves. We are meant to take different paths to fulfil individual destinies but most of the time we wander along the way.

The final part of Santiago’s travel takes him back to where he started. There, he finds treasure that has been lying there all along. It took him great lengths to discover this wealth which was waiting for him to come and get it.

Much like in our life, we keep on doing things that we think would give us happiness. We work like slaves to accumulate all the riches there is while failing to see what we should value most.

The journey may be long and arduous but we must realize that the best things in life are just within our arm’s reach. This much has been seen in Santiago’s story. We just have to look hard and listen to our hearts to show us the way.

I feel that I’ve taken a very long detour and one that cost me a great portion of my life. In my mind, there is this feeling of hopelessness that this detour may be all that it is, a detour and I may not be able to go back to the right path again.

Still, my heart is beating and I hope that this time I will be able to listen to what it is saying. May the universe conspire once more to help me see my personal legend become a reality.

The Beauty of Black and White Photography

Thing of the past? Not really. The beauty of black and white photography lies in its crisp and simple patterns. The interplay of the changing hues between black and white create a sense of intrigue that lends an air of mystery lacking in most colored photographs today.

While modern photography can render images exactly as it looks, it lacks artistry that people look for in pictures. It’s simply looking at an exact rendition of something. There is nothing exciting at looking at a colored photograph of you since it’s just what it is, a copy.

Black and white photography strips the cosmetic addition of colors leaving only the essential elements. You will not only look at things as it is but look for stories behind and beyond the picture.

It’s like looking at the very core of things or people without walls or inhibitions giving an intense feeling of connection and satisfaction. It is an honest and transparent expression evoking the artist in all of us.

Credit goes to Pixi Port for the photograph.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

How to Improve Site Traffic with Great Web Content

There are so many websites published in the internet today all offering fairly the same information, products and services. The web is becoming crowded generating so much “noise” making it a challenge to be “heard” by people browsing.

While it is wise to have a properly laid-out page complete with the needed buttons and pictures, being “seen” can prove to be difficult. An important feature of any decent webpage is an adequate content targeted to provide visitors with good information.

This helps establish credibility on your part and creates a rapport between you and your site’s visitor. It also lends authority to the particular field you are involved in. Good web content will not only hook your guests but also make them come back for more.

The competition is tough making it necessary to create an effective web content. The challenge lies in writing one that provides not only great information but also one that can get a high page rank in search engines like Google. Writing content replete with rich keywords can help you chalk up the chart significantly increasing traffic in your website.

As always, make it a point to write web content that is targeted towards your particular field rich with helpful information that helps to promote your product or service and at the same time flavored with the right keywords to give you a better page ranking in Google and other search engines.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Light Amidst the Darkness of Despair: My Encounter With Reming

The day started out calmly like any other day with no indication whatsoever of a looming disaster. This seemingly surreal tranquillity felt like a “deep breath before the plunge” as what Gandalf has said in the movie Lord of The Rings before the decisive battle against the Orcs. But this quiet is soon to be broken.

We’ve done packing everything in the house stacking them high enough to avoid the flood that is sure to come. The lesson from Milenyo is still fresh in our memories with the waist-deep water that soaked almost everything and we are not about to let that happen. Again. Or so we thought.

Reming came and furious was he. The torrential rains poured all its rage against our house while we closely watched the water level slowly rise. Protecting the appliances and clothes was foremost in our minds wary of the flood although we expected it not to exceed the level of the previous one brought by Milenyo. Little did we know that trouble was brewing.

The continuous outpour brought with it insane amounts of rainfall and the rising water was more than what we expected. It rose at such an unexpected speed that left us dumbstruck. I saw the plastic closet slowly wobble and crash with a mighty bang to be followed by another. The heavy cabinet housing the television set and the component would then follow. We frantically held on to it as it was slowly being lifted by the still growing flood. Try we did but nature proved to be far stronger and we were left to watch the component on top slowly take a dive with the TV following closely behind. The refrigerator would not be left out and crashed noisily a few minutes later. We were too busy minding the things floating that we failed to notice the rapid rise of the water until it was neck deep. Only then did the danger of drowning in the freezing water sink in.

After seeing the desolation, we decided to abandon all hopes of saving anything and try to go to a safer place. A dry place if you please. We tried to open the front door only to find out that it won’t budge. The lock has been busted and the water is still rising. Shivering from the frigid flood water, we tried everything to pry open the door. Knives, pieces of wood and even bare hands had their share of attempts but to no avail.

The kitchen door was working but using it was dangerous due to the strong current and swimming was not an option. More so on my part since I have the swimming skills of a two-year old. I had the crazy notion of using my mattress as a sort of a boat for us three but pushed the thought aside with the rapid gush of water outside.

Still shivering and harder this time, we were left to think of a way out of the house fast. My brother-in-law shouted for help outside when we saw the landlord and his wife calling for us. They were lucky enough to have a 2nd storey where they were safely tucked. Our shouts were barely heard due to the noise of the combined might of the howling wind and furious rain. And then a saviour came.

The sound of someone shouting from the front door was sweet. Our next-door neighbour was yelling for us to open the door and we replied that we can’t and he would have to pry it open. After using a piece of wood as a battering ram, we saw the door slowly nudge and finally open. Relieved and at the same time exhausted, we got out of the house bringing with us a few change of dry clothes and proceeded to leave the deluged house. A line of clothes tied up was given to us to serve as a rope for us to hold on to due to the still overwhelming water current. Slowly but surely we trod the few meters to safety ignoring the thorny touch of the bougainvilleas.

We were finally on the second floor of the apartment complex and were served steaming coffee. It was the best drink I’ve ever had after enduring such harrowing experience and I was very glad to be on safer ground again. Our hosts were neighbours who until that time were total strangers whom we never had a chance to share smiles with.

In retrospect, I was able to reflect on many things that have transpired since then. I realized that we were too concerned with the things we wanted to save that we failed to give enough recognition to our personal safety. Too focused were we on our material possessions that our very lives were put in jeopardy. Had we evacuated as soon as the typhoon hit, we would have never experienced the horror we faced foolishly.

It was a refreshing feeling to know that people who we consider as total strangers whom we ignore for the most part would be the first to lend a helping hand without asking any questions. They simply chose to risk themselves to help us out of the predicament we are in. In sum, that experience has taught me that in the end all that matters is life and one that is lived with the spirit of sharing.