Throwback Thursday: treadmills for atonement

America’s favorite piece of workout equipment was developed as a device for forced labor in British prisons. Convicts slogged for up to 10 hours on the machines, often partitioned so they could not socialize.

Over time, the device’s purported ability to cure criminality through sweat—never mind the actual work output—was called into question. As time went on, prevailing ideas about incarceration, work, and punishment continued to evolve. But by then the treadmill had secured its place in the popular imagination as an instrument of penitential toil.

Today’s treadmill lets people run or walk even in inclement weather, at home or at the gym. It’s a painful, boring, and sometimes cruel device: People still do get injured and even die on treadmills. But we still climb on, by choice, letting our other devices amuse us while we sweat.

-Read the complete article Treadmills Were Meant To Be Atonement Machines at JSTOR Daily


Saturday specials: film festivals

It’s Festival de Cannes season once again! Incredible that this year is already it’s 71st edition! While I’m yet to make a list of the Festival films I like this year (Spy Gone North though is in), I’m nonetheless floored to see a more artistically mature and confident Kristen Stewart in the jury toeing it with the ageless Cate Blanchett. How do they do it, these accomplished women-artists?

via @festivaldecannes

And just as importantly how could we here not have thought of open air film screening during film festivals – thus inviting more to watch – as is the set up at Cannes’ Cinema de la Plage where screenings are held nightly under the stars?

Cinema de la Plage

via @festivaldecanned

Locating the Festival in Cannes promotes the French Riviera, the place, it’s people, and culture while lending the place that unique kind of excitement, glitz, and glamour only artists from filmdom could. The place, as a result, has become an institution. Borrowing that concept, why don’t film festival organizers here also take advantage of the country’s tropical island weather, marine resorts, and plethora of gastronomic offerings in place of the rather passive and humdrum celebrity-focused motorcade around town and mall-based film screening?

Why is the Manila Film Festival held in December when it’s not resort season? Or should I say why Manila when we have 7,100 islands? Is it only just business, that is, the fact that there more people in Metro Manila who could pay their way to the movies especially in December? But, if that’s the case, how sad!

Let us go back to the why of film festivals- what are they for? To put out there commercially-viable patok sa takilya movies? No. The festivals are not the venue to launch these type of films. Film festival kind of films are, to borrow from the fashion world, the haute couture to the street or ready to wear.

Following this, one could therefore have films by filmmakers in Ilocandia rendered in the Ilocano dialect, or by Moro filmmakers rendered in Maranao. In such a diversity-friendly setting, imagine the richness of the stories and artistry that film audiences of different ages and inclinations have access to? That’s what film festivals are.

Make art quote by andy warhol

I don’t believe money is an impediment to it’s achievement rather it’s the lack of organization and marketing-savvy champions within the industry. If money is the issue, many cash-strapped filmmakers in other countries with stricter regulations wouldn’t have been able to see their stories on film.

How to get potential funders to bankroll a Kidlat Tahimik type of film? is a skill that seems to be the least applied in the industry. Otherwise, we’d have seen more “films for art’s sake” (oft-quoted by local celebrities when what they really mean is films that have nudity or explicit scenes, reasoning that foretells what these celebrities make of their audiences). The current situation in the Philippine film industry, in it’s film festivals, is one that business people would cringe at– it’s a house full of talent lacking strategic vision.

Food Friday: goin’ bananas

I could eat bananas, my favorite fruit, all day, no pun intended. In one of my posts here I wrote that bananas are an excellent source of naturally occuring minerals such as magnesium and calcium and helps prevent muscle cramps that people with hyperthyroidism suffer regularly from (the signal that my stress level’s up and calcium’s dangerously low is when I wake up mornings with excruciating leg cramps).

At our new place we’re practicaly surrounded by banana trees! Ten! There are two varieties which I differentiate by size- one’s medium-sized and kind of stout (not saba or plantains) and the other’s small-ish and thinner (not lakatan), but both are really sweet. We’re right now waiting for a bunch of the latter variety to ripen.

Previously, I buy the fruit either at the fruit market or the supermarket. At the latter, I typically grab for the Cavendish variety. It had been a staple during my pregnancies taken to be sure effects of my hyperthyroidism’s contained, thrice a day for the entire nine months. I’m not saying it was from eating bananas but my babies came out healthy.

But it’s only just now that I’m wondering how the fruit actually gets to tables. The process, according to National Geographic, is a complex one. And, did you know the banana’s not a fruit but a berry?

Gardening 101: basics of seed planting

Gardening or hobby farming is like being a new mother. You won’t really know unless you’re actually one, that is, bathing your newborn, breastfeeding, cleaning poop, administering first aid, identifying the various reasons for why your baby cries, putting your baby to sleep. turning over your baby so s/he could burp (the first time I did this, I felt faint with anxiety), preparing food and feeding your toddler, the works. The wonder of it is doing the tasks repeatedly makes you more efficient at doing them, even getting to establish your own ways of doing things better, quicker. Just, you know, trust your instinct. And ask around.

“Auntie, can you imagine it? Me, planting?” I’m like a broken record, because I still couldn’t wrap my head around it. I don’t voluntarily go out to the garden at my parents’ before, not even offer to water the plants. It’s because of the bugs.

Aunt told me most highland vegetables grow here. “Really?” I said. “Huwag maging ignorante. I’ll give you seeds,” my aunt said.

I found this video on Youtube, the simplest and most useful I’ve gone through. It makes an effort to show rather than tell.

Gardening 101: soil testing

Reviving the land around the house, come to think of it, is in keeping with the message of Easter which is renewal and new growth. I’m done with Step One, that is, I’ve decided to get my hands dirty and deal with muck and worms and ants (nothing better than return to the earth after the day’s white-collar work!) for at least an hour a day (half hour each in the morning and late afternoon). Right, then. I’ll start with the raised bed by the inner gate. The soil there looks lifeless like overly dehydrated and extremely undernourished skin. What should I do to revive it? What plants would grow in this soil? There’s nothing growing other than the palm tree on one corner.  And what is the state of this particular soil? This brings me to Step Two. A soil test. Yes, I’ll be scientific in this undertaking. I’m not a researcher for nothing. But most importantly if I’m going to grow food I’m going to do it like I’ve always wanted my food grown: clean.

Here’s my reference for why a soil test is necessary, from Hobby Farms:

A soil analysis will tell you how much of any given nutrient that you have in your soil. Your plants will need nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K) in higher quantities than the secondary macronutrients, calcium (Ca), sulfur (S) and magnesium (Mg). Smaller amounts are needed of the trace or micronutrients, boron (B), chlorine (Cl), manganese (Mn), iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), molybdenum (Mo) and nickel (Ni), but they’re still important for proper plant functions.

Knowing your soil’s pH is the key to understanding what nutrients will be absorbed in your soil. Many soils have the appropriate amount of nutrients, but because the pH is too high or too low, these nutrients are not available to the plant.

Testing for the presence of heavy metals should be a first step before considering the production of any edible crops. If metals are present at hazardous levels, remediation must occur before you can grow food there. The presence of heavy metals in trace amounts is not always cause for concern—plants and people alike need certain amounts of iron, manganese, copper and zinc—but arsenic, lead and cadmium are metals that you don’t want to find.

And here’s how to get a soil test, according to urbanfarmcolorado:

  1. Use a clean trowel to collect soil from various locations in your garden. The more locations the better. (A good way to take soil samples is to walk through the field in a W pattern, taking samples of soil without plant residue at each point of the W.) Take soil from the top 6″ of the garden, avoiding any leaves or mulch on the top.

  2. Mix all the samples together in a clean 5 gallon bucket, or on a clean tarp.

  3. After mixing, take 1-2 cups of soil and put it in a ziplock bag and label the sample. (It needs to be analyzed quickly for accuracy—ideally within 24 hours.)

Now, where to have it analyzed. I heard that the State universities are equipped. I just need to decide which to go first. I’m not sure if there’s a fee. Otherwise, has the local DA office such a service? It ought. I’ll go check too.

Full potential

Belo thermage korina sanchez-roxas

In the development community, child development vision statements typically close with the phrase develop children to their full potential. I would like to emphasize here full potential; because that’s apparently what Ms. Korina Sanchez-Roxas has to an extent achieved with, well, the help of Belo Thermage.

But, beyond the treatment the message in there for me is that our goal in life is to work toward the realization of our full potential which won’t happen when we live our lives according to what others wish or think them to be.

Ms. Korina Sanchez, for example, as a long time broadcaster was shaped into the image the broadcast company thought best for her. As Mrs. Roxas however it seems she has relatively more say in further developing herself. It’s not that conforming to company rules was bad, it was doing that that she became a household face and name; it’s that attainment of full potential is a lifelong process. And I think for the radiant fifty-something Belo Thermage model her new physical self indicates an inner self that’s more confident and ready to fully embrace life. That inspires.

A theory about heat

Couple in bed sleeping

The Global South, because of poverty, gaping disparities, corruption, overpopulation, continues to be the object of international development. This post explores a bit about overpopulation. My recent observations and experience tell me it might have something to do with the heat. As in the tropical climate. How so?

I’m from a mountain city where annual temperature averages a relatively cool 26 Celsius although at this time of year it could dip to five Celsius or even lower. In other words, I’m quite sensitive to temperature changes. Where I relocated at least temporarily, the lowlands, is hot like the rest of the country. Early mornings since December are cooler but as the day progresses the temperature also rises reaching it’s peak at noon to three o’clock in the afternoon. In these hours one can go and stand on open ground and catch fire from just the sun. The indoors are not spared. Heat bouncing off warmed walls makes you sluggish which makes work and movement akin to swimming in a thick current of slush. It’s why lowland folks do siesta. I don’t nap hence I could be found maybe by the outhouse even doing the laundry, anything to resist inactivity caused by the heat.

The outhouse opens to a serene scenery of bright green field of corn now nearing harvest. The other day, I watched my uncle and his son irrigate the field. “Where do they get the water?” I asked my cousin’s partner. “They’ve got a well over there,” she said. “How do they water the field from just a well?” I asked. I was imagining them going through the rows of corn with, like, a pail of water. Ridiculous even to my mind, and of course it was. Padanum is pumping water from the well with the use of a machine and letting the water spread out, irrigate, the entire field. Apparently that took up an entire day. These “distractions” take my focus off my body’s reaction to the heat, which is, it constantly throbs everywhere. Imagine your body post-coitus. In the right mood and with the right stimulation, it’d take little to light you up again as you’ve already been primed in the right places. It’s like that.

Do other folks here feel this way as a result of what the heat – the climate – does to their moods and bodies? Is this, along with the tropical lifestyle that includes siestas, the trigger for a heightened mood toward coupling?

Whereas in the cool mountain city (and airconditioned offices and establishments in the country’s urban/metro regions), since my body isn’t battling with and weighed down by heat and it’s effects it’s freed up to do more economically-productive work ie. toward creative and innovative thoughts and products. Toward invention. Toward competition. Toward fueling the rat race.

Northern countries are, for a start, climatologically favored for development.

A theory.

Let’s bring back a walkable downtown

walkable downtown Session Road, Baguio CitySunday off-peak season traffic (also when people stay at home or opt to leave their cars at home or take a day off from driving preferring to walk about) in downtown Baguio. This is the Baguio that my and earlier generations grew up in. One feels the immediate effect of such on the payche- one feels happier, lighter, peaceful. Also, as the air is immediately cleaner, lungs take a rest from having to work doubletime in order to purify what we breathe in. For today’s City residents, old (lest they’ve forgotten) as well as new, this is the image of a car-less or less-car Session Road. We don’t need to debate what ‘car-less’ or ‘less car’ looks like. What is needed is a plan to actually make the downtown walkable. We have to understand though that ‘walkable’ also means developing the suburbs (and LISTT towns) as a strategy to direct traffic as well as people outside of downtown Baguio (congestion in downtown Baguio has gone the way similar to that of Metro Manila wherein image-building and investments hence development were concentrated in the Metropolitan). And we don’t have to look very far for a plan- there are lots of masteral studies on this in the universities (here). And we don’t have to look very far for a plan- there are lots of masteral studies on this in the universities (here) that students (professionals) invested their knowledge, time, and money in. What City Hall needs to do is to talk and sustain a relationship with the universities.

Sustainable tourism for Mt. Pulag National Park

The third highest peak in the country, Mount Pulag, which is part of the 11,500 hectares Mount Pulag National Park straddling the three provinces of Benguet, Ifugao, and Nueva Vizcaya, has been closed off on all weekends of this year. To me, the decision is inconsistent with the region’s tourism goals.

Closing the area reveals that the towns and officials are not prepared to manage a biodiversity-based tourism strategy and are without the necessary resources to realize the plan despite the region’s Department of Tourism’s rhetoric on competitive tourism for the region.

To sustain tourism at Mount Pulag and neighboring areas throughout the area regardless of temperature, there need to be

  1.  A business proposition, as in, what ways can tourism harness biodiversity at the same time preserve it? how can conservation of Mount Pulag Park and neighboring areas contribute to the economy and cultural preservation of local communities through tourism? At the moment, mountain climbing. What else? A wedding venue? A fitness center? Host to a local music, arts, wine and food festival? All that as an “on top of the world” experience, because why not? It should be something tourists would value ie. to come running across oceans for. Then build up the area around that idea.

comparative advantage of a mountain city

  1.  Lodging places, not just to sleep but to comfortably rest, sleep, and/or eat. Places for solo travelers, backpackers, for families on a budget, for guests who could splurge on a thousand dollar a night accommodation, in other words, for all classes of tourists.
lodging for backpackers
Accommodation for backpackers
  1.  These lodging places should put in appropriate heating. In Baguio City, it is most ironic that hotel rooms, even those that charge four- or five-star rates, do not have heating! Instead, they have airconditioning as in cooling! Hotels supposedly spend the most in heating (keeping guests warm in the dead of winter) which is why they ask for the equivalent price of it’s maintenance. So when guests pay five-star rates and there’s no heating and not even a fleece blanket, just thin cottony ones, bloody hell! It’s a rip off! So yes, heating, because we’re a mountain region.

adjusting hotel room thermostat

  1.  Transportation. You don’t suppose tourists unless they’re on penance, reenacting the nativity would want to go by donkey, on cold foggy days, all the way to Mount Pulag? Yet this approximates the present state of transportation, for instance, from Baguio to Mount Pulag. It’s why only mountaineers, athletic college kids, are the usual tourists on the site. A more tourist-y ride, one that gives a bird’s eye view of the picturesque mountain scene, a once in a lifetime experience, should already be in the works.
chamonix mont blanc cable car ride
Chamonix Mont Blanc cable car ride
  1.  Other details, such as signages. Signages do matter. What we have with many small businesses are names and signages written on clapboards and cartons, often indiscernible, and hung haphazardly on strings. They are a distracting irritating sight. This projects irresponsibility, of the business not caring whether or not it’s potential customers have to twist their necks just so they would know the product or service it offers. Signages and their content are part of a business’ asset pool, it’s intellectual property, and if businesses don’t give a shit about their property, it only tells the public about their worth which is they’re not worth the premium. So, yes, the small but important details in image consistency matter.

signages at mountain resort

Local tourism need a local government, a private sector, and a citizenry whose mindsets are ahead of the needs and wants of their guests; who are able to see opportunities in their surroundings and create new things of it; who are generous in their vision ie. they want to have others – tourists – partake of their creation because that in itself is tourism (hospitality).

Tourism, creating a brand and sustaining it to meet expectations, is actually hard work. It takes mental work. It requires networks. You don’t say It’s More Fun In The Philippines! and then sit back and expect a million a day visitors to just stream in. Where will you get the money to realize the things stated in your tourism strategy? It takes hard work, constant assessment – how are we doing? are we meeting needs and wants of our target guests? are guests meeting expectations (they’re not raping the park?)? if not, why? and how can we all do things better? – and at times rebranding.

Kitchen experiments: chamomile, vanilla and lemon infused oil


These days of cold, yesterday was 8 degrees celsius, the lowest for Baguio in recent years, I find myself spending more and more time in the kitchen. It’s deliciously warm in there. The warmest room in the house. Ha ha!

Burning food on the stove as a result of first trials of recipes is not exactly cheap nor satisfying, well, except for the heat these activities generate which I welcomed, so for a change I tried my hand on infused oils. I love vanilla, lemon, and chamomile so why not start with those?

First off, we need to distingush the methods in oil infusion: cold, warm, and sun infusion.

This reminds me of virgin coconut oil preparation I got to know first hand several years ago when I was at field office. We supported farmers training among other capacity building activities in sustainable agriculture. In one of the farmers training, I sat in and learned about the process in cold pressed VCO preparation. Though, actually, I saw it done first at my grandparents’ place during the summers my cousins and I vacationed there. I watched my grandmother prepare the oil, quite a lengthy process, which she used for her hair and skin. I loved the smell from the warm oil. I wasn’t a fan, though, of coconut oil. I didn’t want oil anywhere on my body. But I should have nonetheless taken note then. The preparation is a traditional knowledge that should be coded, I realized much later.

Infusion Methods

Cold Infusion

A glass jar

1/3 herb and/or spice of choice, fresh or dry

2/3 oil or mix of oils of choice

This method is the most effective but requires a little patience. Make sure the jars and herbs you use are clean, add the ingredients to the jar, close it well and leave it in a cool, dark place for at least 40 days and up to 2 months. Shake the jar every week or so. After this time, the oil must be filtered. Prepare a sieve with a paper napkin, or a very fine cheesecloth, and let the oil drip into a clean container. Let it take its time – it might take hours. When it has finished, squeeze out the oil left in the herbs.

Let the jar stand for a whole 24 hours, so that every residue falls to the bottom. At this point you can filter it again, or transfer it to a clean, dark bottle. If you do not have one or want to keep it in the same jar, you can wrap it in aluminum paper.

Warm Infusion

If you are in a bit of a rush and want your oil ready within a day, you can infuse the oil in hot water. Mix the herbs with oil just as in the cold method, but close the jar if using dried herbs, and leave it open if using fresh herbs, so the water can evaporate. Add the jar(s) to a pot and add enough hot water to cover the jars by half, put the pot on the lowest flame setting possible and let it infuse for 4 hours. Take the jars out of the water and let them cool completely before filtering the oils like in the cold infusion, and storing them in a dark bottle and in a dark place.

For this infusion it is best to use extra virgin olive oil or a good organic sunflower oil, which stand high temperatures better.

Sun Infusion

Not all herbs will release their benefits into the oils just by leaving them in the shade or in hot water. Some herbs can release some very powerful healing properties when exposed to the sun – as is the case of St. John’s wort. This particular herb, which is great to cure sunburns, small wounds, redness and has anti-aging properties, turns the oil red when all its properties are fully extracted. You just add the herbs and oil to a jar, then cover it with a paper towel secured with an elastic band, and leave it out in the sun for 20 days, taking it back indoors for the night. This herb only blooms during summer.

Just like for hot infusions, it is best to use sunflower or olive oil for this infusion.

Chamomile, vanilla and lemon infused oil

2 tablespoons dried chamomile flowers

Half a vanilla bean

The peel of a small organic lemon

½ cup of Linseed oil

2 tbsp Almond oil


  1. Prepare a clean jar and add the flowers. Take the peel from the lemon, making sure there is no white part attached to it, and split the vanilla bean in half. Add both to the jar, and pour in the oil. Proceed as described in the cold infusion, or use the warm infusion if you are in a rush, but make sure the oil never goes beyond 60 C˚.

  2. Once ready, this oil is great for treating skin redness, for dry lips in place of lip balm, for improving fragile nails, and for nourishing dry skin. You can also add this oil to nourishing hair and skin treatments.

  3. Consider making it with organic sunflower oil and use it for baking sweets in recipes that call for oil, or in a lemon coffee cake.

Source: Hortus Natural Cooking by Valentina Solfrini

Friday4farmers: black gold


via pioneer settler

New knowledge I’ve acquired going into 2017 is…composting with worms. Vermicomposting. A whole new world of shit. Good shit. And it’s callef black gold.

I learned about this during my evaluation of a post-disaster shelter project that has a livelihood component. Reading through the pile of project documents, vermicomposting training module in this case, interview with the trainer sourced from the Department of Agriculture, focus group discussions with women beneficiary-trainees in the villages, and visits to the vermicomposting sites– I knew everything theoretically about this composting technology as well as the business side of it. Only thing lacking is for me to actually do it.

After one of the visits, when we were already inside the van, someone from my team jokingly chided the two field officers, foreigners, who accompanied us to the sites of their feàr and squeamishness in getting near the worm beds when everybody else were excited of the chance. How could you say you’re an agriculture person if you’re afraid of worms? he said. The two women laughed. You should have dug into the beds, he continued, acting it out and with accompanying flourish of his hand, and savor the feeel of earth and woorrmsss. They laughed again, shaking their shoulders. We joined in. Yep that’s what goes on behind closed doors, away from the eyes and ears of communities.

But, seriously, the two ladies are true advocates of sustainable agricultural practices, one of which, vermicomposting, even if they don’t actually practice it. Us as well (although the guy on my team who’d humored them is a practitioner, organic gardening and landscaping in his spare time that is. I learned to distinguish seeds from him).

Vermicomposting is very easy actually and can be done right in your backyard. Inexpensive too. With PHP5,000 you’d already have everything to start a backyard venture. With the project, they utilized African nightcrawlers (vermi worms), worms especially for composting not the ones we find in our gardens, said to best suit Philippine climate.

organic waste for vermicomposting

Best of all, you need not worry about what to feed vermiworms. They eat 100% of their body weight. Feed them your household waste including shredded paper, egg shells, coffee and tea grounds except: butter, oil, salad containing salad dressing, eggs, meat, highly acidic fruits and vegetables (lemons, limes, oranges), hot peppers, salt, animal waste, plastic, synthetic materials, insecticides.

Interestingly, unlike the “organic composting” without the aid of vermiworms, there’s no smell whatsoever when the vermiworms start feeding and doing their thing. I learned that this is due to moisture regulation. Too moist and the bed will smell.

vermibed in vermicomposting
Vermiworms crawl out of their bed if they’re not fed enough. Also, according to the project beneficiaries, they built a perimeter of water trough around the bed to keep predators eg. lizards out. They said that the vermiworms are like their children- they wake up in the middle of the night worrying if the worms had enough food and they’d actually go and check to the consternatuon of their husbands.

In terms of backyard yield, the general computation goes:

  1. 1 vermi bed 2x1x0.3m yields 12 harvests per year.

  2. African Night Crawlers costs PHP250 per kilo.

  3. 2 kg. of vermiworms per bed yield 4 kg. additional vermiworms in 4 wks.

  4. 150 kg of biodegradable wastes + 2 kg vermiworms = 90 kg compost

  5. Harvesting is done after 30 days.

  6. Compost sells at P6.00 per kilo.

Now, worm poop, or compost, called vermicast, or what folks in the industry refer to as black gold, is why we’re into vermicomposting. Vermicast is 100% natural nitrate or fertilizer and nothing of the bad. Vermicomposting after all is replication of nature’s processes in the nitrogen carbon cycle. “During digestion the worms mix and blend compost, micro-organisms and standing nutrients into a tidy little packet of perfectly conditioned soil.”

vermicast or black gold

From further readings I’ve done I also learned that beyond the household enterprise scale vermicomposting has started, as for example as part of waste management solutions of hotels eg. Mexico’s Cancun Palace Resort in which they feed their daily waste to worms in vermibeds maintained onsite. On the side, they teach their guests about the technology. Here, I’m thinking City-wide or village-wide vermicomposting to help ease it’s growing waste problem.

Start-ups can be further assisted by their local Department of Agriculture, Department of Trade and Industry, and State college or university.

How’s our English?

The news about Miss Philippines receiving flak for English grammar errors  while speaking at a press conference opens up a long-running issue in Philippine education. In fact, with K12 launched in 2012, public schools have added ‘Mother Tongue’ as a subject in Grades 1 to 3  as “studies show this helps children learn not only their lessons, but second or third languages as well.” That’s a non-debatable fact. Our problem rather is how we go about teaching English. And it is most unfortunate that an individual, Miss Philippines, has been singled out as the receiving end of a national frustration.

DepEd teachers are known within their communities for openly reprimanding students for errors in grammar. This is partly from having been themselves schooled in traditional teaching approaches. I had a colleague, a retiree of DepEd, who came on board as a senior advisor. She’d correct other colleagues, young and old alike, even while they were presenting, when she believed they made grammar mistakes. She did it as if that’s what’s been programmed into her. A habit. Since she was in her early 80s everybody took it in good humor. Of course we would’ve appreciated the gesture if it was done behind closed doors.

For me, correctness in spoken English is non-negotiable in these situations: presentations of studies, proposals, and the like, legal proceedings, certain interviews, debates, certain speeches, and such like. If the speakers cannot do it in straight English, then in straight Filipino or in the dialect of the audience. Otherwise, have a translator. The reason is elimination of misinterpretation of facts as well as to convey that you mean business and also out of respect for the language (which is a nation’s heritage and cultural asset hence the term ‘huwag babuyin’) and the audience who may have had to walk miles and probably slay dragons along the way just to be able to hear your talk.

In all others, non-native speakers should be at ease speaking the language. Made a gaffe? Laughter is still the best medicine. Hopefully the other also finds it humurous (in a good way). You’ll know better the next time at least.

I once taught conversational English and writing as part of an ESL programme to two Korean grade schoolers on winter vacation here. The first thing I did before our initial meeting was visualized that if I were to switch places with them ie. if I were the one learning the Korean language how would I want or expect my teacher to proceed? For sure I didn’t want a Miss Smarty Pants with a glinty metal ruler attached to her hand that she’d smack me with every time I hesitated, were unsure, tried to check with my dictionary app, or actually uttered a mistake. I wouldn’t have learned anything from her, or if I did at all it would’ve been because I didn’t want the metal anywhere near my skin. I would associate learning the language to dreadful feelings. As soon as I’d have completed the programme I’d probably immediately go into self-imposed amnesia in the attempt to flush out the experience from my system.

Sadly, this is the fate of Filipino- or dialect-speaking pupils in the public schools who are learning English for the first time. The Koreans on the other hand are doing it right by learning the language outside of the formal school system through appropriate learner-paced programmes. For Filipino pupils in public schools, as young as six or seven, imagine the mental shock and confusion as they are made to fast-navigate on their own this wholly new and peculiar world. Teachers demand correctness at once when such ought to be arrived at through a process, a mutually-rewarding process that is.

What if ESL is brought into the school curriculum especially public schools? But first in order to do that a review of public school teacher-training programs. What trainings and skill-related programs are English teachers receiving? Many English teachers in public schools especially in the countryside are left behind compared to their counterpart in the urban areas, private schools, and even independent ESL teachers. Many public school English teachers today themselves cannot speak or express lengthily in straight and error-free English. As what IT people would say, garbage in garbage out. Also, English, or any language for that matter, cannot thrive where it is not spoken or utilized by others in the community. After all, English is a living language.

A second look at furniture

A research manager from the UK and I were having a late lunch of bibimbap at a Korean restaurant on busy Tomas Morato that we espied after a few rounds of circling the area for dining places. Two other tables were occupied- one by an all-female group who appeared to be society matrons and were obviously celebrating an occasion, and the other by serious-looking all-male group who looked like businessmen. When we entered, we were given lingering looks the kind directed at white foreigners and locals accompanying them. I loathe attention but it’s something I bear as part of work. We quickly chose a table, nearest the door.

Having placed our orders and while taking sips of green tea, I commented to my companion that the place speaks of true or traditional Korean design. My companion had the same observation. Uncluttered minimalist look. Wood furnishing. And to drive home the point, the rack by the door held papers only in Korean. I wouldn’t understand anything of what’s written (reason to learn the language?). There were no windows on our floor (ground) but curiously the room didn’t feel claustrophobic. Maybe it was the high ceiling and muted mid gray palette.

Then she told me about the time when her family – herself, her husband, and their first child – relocated to Sydney from London. For their first sets of furniture, and considering their need to put together a living space quickly (she still works in London; her husband an Australian maintains business in Australia) they took to IKEA which recently opened in Sydney at the time. She wasn’t an IKEA fan previously but discovered that the brand carried some really good stuff especially for new couples or families. Laughing, she recounted the fun time they had making the several trips to the store and home and assembling the pieces. But forgive me she said did you know about IKEA though? I said I knew about it from magazines and if it opened in the country I’d definitely visit. I mentioned that Muji which also carries similar pieces has already opened stores in major cities here and is the more familiar brand locally.

That was the first time talk during lunch hour had been about furnitures and it wasn’t boring at all. It opened to me new insights about the place of furnitures in the home. Recently I came across an article on the subject, fortuituous really- IKEA’s Head of Research on the Future of Furniture.

When it comes to your home and to purchasing home furnishings, you typically do it very seldomly. You buy a car more often than you buy a new sofa or a new kitchen. It’s hard to relate to it, compared to clothing or whatever you buy at the supermarket. Also, in our homes, we are often unaware of how we actually behave. And many people play a specific role out in the world, then you come home, maybe you undress yourself, and you feel like my god, now I can be myself. In our research we want to come closer to people’s everyday lives, people’s reality.

Read the article here.

What comes in threes?

zumba on heels

Nearly 92 billion videos were watched over the course of 23 billion visits to the site by many millions of very horny visitors. That’s 64 million visitors per day, or 44,000 every minute.

These statistics from Pornhub are informative! And we thought everybody’s glued to Aleppo, Brexit, US Elections, Pokemon Go, and just generally, their fave TV soaps on Netflix!  I’m thinking porn is beginning to look like climate change. Plenty of deniers.

From Southeast Asia, Philippines is the lone wolf. It also holds the record for longest average time spent streaming porn videos:

The Philippines is holding onto its first place position here with an average visit length to Pornhub of 12:45, exactly the same as where they were at in 2015.

Wonderful! But did we not drop out of the 2015 TIMMS (and was it due to embarrasingly-consistent low scores from previous years)? When you look at porn viewing this way, Japan’s higher ranking (fifth) (as well as that of first world nations’) is justifiable. Work hard, play hard, no? What did Pinoys work hard at in the past two years?

For the second year in a row ‘ lesbian ’ was the number one search term worldwide. ‘Step mom’ was second (up 1 spot from last year) followed by ‘MILF’ up 2 places from 2015. ‘Lesbian scissoring’ jumped a couple dozen positions to make the top 20 this year. An all-new term that shot into our top search terms lists of 2016 is ‘Overwatch’, in reference to the popular video game released earlier this year. Well known for its fast action and overtly sexualized characters, the game quickly became the subject of hundreds of fantasy porn parodies and tribute videos. “It appears that the trend is moving more toward fantasy than reality. ‘Generic’ porn is being replaced with fantasy specific or scenario specific scenes. Is this as a result of boredom or curiosity? One thing is certain; the typical ‘in-out, in-out’ no longer satisfies the masses, who are clearly looking for something different” notes Dr Laurie Betito , sex therapist and author of The Sex Bible for People Over 50″.

Ho ho ho! moms sure haven’t lost their appeal. And lesbian? Were not gay men and transgenders at the forefront of gender issues last year? The data however give credence to the observation that what happens in front of the world isn’t necessarily the same as what goes on “in the shadows”. Let’s see this year.

porn watching 2016-shower beer-high heels dancing

Need a drink in order to make sense of the mind-boggling data? An equally interesting invention’s out there: shower beer. As in beer to be downed in the shower. It also doubles as conditioner! The drink reportedly flew off shelves in just one minute! Cue for hotels here to stock their guest rooms with these samplers now?

Revived by the shower, are you suddenly hot for dancing? In the Metro are dance classes on high heels ala Yanis Marshall but for women. Ditch zumba for a day and put on instead your snazziest highest pair.