Monday, 3 December 2012

The End is Near, in Siargao?

It's actually 18 days till the predicted doomsday on December 21, 2012 but down south in the eastern coast of Mindanao, it may well be sooner. My friend posted the  typhoon warning on Facebook last Saturday. She said "It seems that the end of the world is coming sooner to Siargao than the rest of the planet." Well, with the 44-ft wave forecast at 3pm tomorrow (encircled in red below), I guess a tsunami is expected to hit the island. Most of them (including her great dane 'Napo') have already  been herded to higher ground.

typhoon warning  of Gai on Facebook
As of this writing, super typhoon Pablo (international code name Bopha) is supposed to be in the Philippines' Area of Responsibility (PAR) already. The typhoon is carrying winds of up to 250 kph and is expected to make landfall over the Surigao area (direct hit) tomorrow. This is the 16th storm to enter the Philippines and is much stronger than last year's December typhoon Sendong which packed winds up to 75kph. 

Pablo's path (Source: Australia Network News)
Windguru forecast

Windguru concurs that waves may reach more than 40-feet tomorrow in Siargao;  however, it will be much earlier  from 6am to 12noon. The rainfall is heavy from 8.7 to 15.7 mm per hour.

Thank God Manila is spared! Public storm warning signal #2 has been hoisted over the following areas: Surigao del Norte, Surigao Island, Dinagat Island, Augsan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Davao Oriental, Davao del Norter, Compostela Valley, Bukidnon, Misamis Occidental and Oriental, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte and Sur, Siquijor, Bohol, Biliran, Camotes Island, Souhern Leyte, Leyte, Eastern and Western Samar.

Let's do pray that the typhoon slows down and will not wreak havoc in the Visayas and Mindanao areas.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

J-Lo's Dance Again Tour in Manila

My favorite "Let's get Loud"
Karaoke time with "If you had my love"
Yessss!! I am a J-Lo fan and definitely wouldn't miss this concert despite the ummm -pricey ticket. I just love J-Lo!!

I was totally enthralled by her high energy, non stop dancing, her forever windblown hair and her genuine kindness.

Between sets, she would  reach out on all fours and extend her hand for a high five or handshake. She even cried out "Mahal Kita Manila"!!

In the second set she pulled a fan onstage to sing "if you had my love" with her (lucky lucky girl, right photo) and to top it all she kept  hugging her!

Towards the end of the set, someone threw a Philippine flag onstage. She wrapped the flag around her and grabbed a camera from one of the fans and took a photo of herself onstage. She's totally adorable!!!

check out the abs "Going In"
The concert promptly started at 9pm where came out all glitzy in a diamond body suit and from then on, it was non-stop dancing for an hour and half.   Which also meant non-stop dancing for us in the audience.

The die-hard-fans next to me were not too happy though. She didn't sing the whole tour's set list last night (that's 25 songs).  Well, thank god I didn't get a chance to compare. I thoroughly enjoyed J-Lo and ended with sore feet from dancing all night!!

Here's Manila's set list (note: my service unit is still funky so the videos below are not mine but sourced from youtube):
1. Get Right
2. Love Don't Cost a Thing
3. I'm into You
4. Waiting for Tonight
5. Going In
6. I'm Real
7, Aint it Funny
8. Jenny from the Block
9. If you had my Love
10. Until it Beats no More
11. Lets Get Loud
12. Papi
13. On the Floor
14. Dance Again
and she's totally enamorata dancing with her beau

ends with a blast
and check out her tweet today:

Monday, 12 November 2012

Philippine Holidays 2013, time to plan!!

As early as August, P-Noy has already declared via Proclamation No. 459 the regular holidays and special non-working days for the year 2013. Alas, unlike this year's seven long weekend breaks, 2013 has only four long weekends - - specifically, three 3-day weekends and one 4-day weekend. It would be great if the government can either move the Tuesday holidays (April 9 and August 21) to a Monday.

Here's the regular and special holiday for 2013:

January 1 (Tue) - New Year's Day

February 25 (Mon) - EDSA Revolution Anniversary (only for schools)

March 28 (Thu) - Maundy Thursday
March 29 (Fri) - Good Friday

April 9 (Tue) - Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valour)

May 1 (Wed) - Labor Day

June 12 (Wed) - Independence Day

August 21 (Tue) - Niony Aquino Day
August 26 (Mon) - National Heroes Day

November 1 (Fri) - All Saints Day
November 2 (Sat) - Additional special non-working day
November 30 (Sat) - Bonifacio Day

December 25 (Wed) - Christmas Day
December 30 (Mon) - Rizal Day

The national holidays for the observance of Eid'l Fitr and Ediul Adha shall be announced after the approximate dates of the Islamic holidays have been determined with the Islamic calander (Hijira) or the lunar calendar.

Eat right for your blood type, not cohen

This 'eat right for your blood type' diet is definitely less expensive than Cohen at PhP 1,980 for three months! @RezzyWezy mentioned this new diet called CGN - which stands for chrono-geno-nutrition. Her main motivation for dieting is, I quote - "I don't want to be a size XL on my wedding day!!"  She found Dr. Claude Chauchard who founded CGN through one of her numerous online deals.

Since I've been packing a few pounds lately, yes, believe it or not, I went online and signed up too. It's actually quite easy because I don't have to do any blood work or go to a clinic for a face-to-face consultation. Everything is done online. I filled up a form where I indicated my height/weight, blood type and eating behavior - specifically, eating out and gluten-free.

Here's a sample meal plan which I would've started today (well... no time to shop).

First week's Chrono-Geno-Nutrition diet
Chauchard Tea (photo from CGN site)
The meal  portions are quite small and measured in grams and/or a cup. As a bonus, 70% dark chocolate is recommended daily as a snack; however, the amount is limited to two squares only. And Chauchard tea is to be taken with every meal.

This tea must be the secret of CGN (?!?). It's easy to prepare and the ingredients are available in the supermarket or organic store.  Just mix one piece star anise, 5 sprigs of thyme (or tarragon) and 5 sprigs of rosemary in one liter water and boil.

In the video shown online, Dr. Chauchard guarantees a 5-pound weight loss in the first week. Hmm.... and I only need to lose six pounds.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Yogabody Detox with Lucas Rockwood

Lucas Rockwood
Lucas Rockwood was in Manila last weekend and conducted a "Yoga Detox Retreat" at Yoga Plus. The program consisted of yoga exercises, breathing techniques and a 3-day 100% liquid diet. Yup, no solids! He said that  the program is designed to reboot our bodies and "one of the most exciting things this process is, changes can happen very quickly."

Very quickly indeed. In three days, I lost four kilos and didn't feel weak at all. I experienced a slight headache though on the second day which may be a withdrawal symptom from no coffee.

It's actually safe to do the detox program on your own. He gave us three simple steps. First is elimination through yoga-based breathing techniques, sweating through yoga and the all- liquid diet guaranteed regular treks to the bathroom to pee out all the toxins.

Second is through proper rest. Mind you, this is not through sleeping or being immobile. How then? Rest by not eating any solids.  Yup, no solid intake. He said "On any given day, digestion takes 40% (or more) of your body's energy and resources... by cutting your digestive demands by 75%, your body can devote the same energy toward self-cleansing." The all liquid diet requires only 25% of the usual digestive energy to process.

one of the six juices
And lastly, through superfood nutrition to simultaneously detoxify and rebuild body. He defined 'Superfoods' as those loaded with vitamins, minerals, nutrients and phytonutirents.
We were provided six bottles of freshly made juices and one uncooked soup taken every two hour intervals throughout the day. The juices contain dark greens, fruits, grains and seeds and essential fat acids (e.g. flax seeds). 

Pre-tox tips: reduce or eliminate anything made with wheat, dairy and caffeine;  increase water consumption to at least three liters a day; and, add green vegetables to at least two meals each day. And to break the fast,  he recommended to eat fresh fruits and vegetables and to eat slowly.

the detoxers
Lucas said that we all have toxins inside us that need to come out. I guess from everywhere - the air we breathe, foodstuff, pesticide sprays, etc. As a parting word, I'm sharing his advise- - 'how you choose to live your life before and after the cleanse is totally up to you; but right now, I'd be smart to take some action because when you lower your toxic load, you feel better - - a LOT better."

Monday, 1 October 2012

Claudio Bravo in Manila until October 20

After 44 years, the Manila paintings of Chilean national artist Claudio Bravo can now be viewed at the Metropolitan Museum Manila until October 20, 2012.

Trust me, the exhibit is such a rare treat! The 35 portraits have remained in private collections throughout these years and the first and last time these portraits were seen was way back in 1968, during a 10-day exhibit at the Luz Gallery.

Mr. and Mrs. Zobel next to their Bravo painting (original in Spain)
Bravo was born on November 8, 1936 in Valparaiso, Chile and relocated to Madrid in 1961 where he was a celebrated  portrait artist sought after by royalty.

As the story goes, in Madrid in 1965, businessman Jaime Zobel de Ayala saw the portrait that Bravo did of his uncle  the artist Fernando Zobel and commissioned Bravo to paint him and his wife as well (the portrait is behind Mr. and Mrs. Zobel, left photo).

Back in Manila, upon seeing Zobel's portrait on a Christmas card, then First Lady Imelda Marcos loved it and invited Bravo to come visit. However, it was only in 1968 that Bravo was able to make the trip to the Philippines. He came together with the Spanish royals who were invited to the Ruby wedding anniversary of Eugenio and Pacita Lopez. He then stayed on for six months doing commissioned portraits for Manila's society.

After his sojourn in Manila, he was catapulted into international recognition. His first exhibit in New York in 1970 was critically successful. It was reviewed by the New York Times as an "art dealer's dream" and marked Bravo as a hyperrealist artist.

Baby Araneta-Fores 
If you have a chance, take a close look at the portraits and you will see his technical genius in action. The portraits are so life-like, they look like photographs. The proportions between the body, limbs and hands are in perfect symmetry. Gaita Fores said that her mom Baby Araneta-Fores (right photo) didn't even know that she had a slight bump on her forehead until she saw the portrait done by Bravo. That's how perfect his portraits are.

In a video interview, Bravo recalled his experience in Manila: "I think the Philippine portraits are, perhaps, my most lucid paintings, because it was a different race, beautiful! .. The Philippines was the tropics, a different vision of the world and light. There I began to use more 'electric' colors and enjoy color."

Curator Tats Manahan said that Bravo's stay had a great impact on his later works, noting the boldness of color as seen in his portraits and the use of light. She said "he was practicing on everything here for the paintings that eventually made him famous. That's what makes his stay here [in Manila] important." She added "It's an honor and we should be proud to be Filipinos that we inspired somebody as good as Bravo."

These Manila portraits are actually important in Bravo's career. These were his last big body of work before he concentrated on doing still life objects like his famous crumpled paper and packages; and figurative works.

Here's some of the portraits with the sitters (or children and grandchildren):
Cedie Vargas next to Pacita Lopez, her grandmother's portrait 
Berta Feliciano next to her mom's portrait, Chita Lopez-Taylor

Amb. Mercedes Tuason next to her portrait
Techie Ysmael-Bilbao next to her mom's portrait, Chona Kasten

Lia next to her mom's portrait, Tingting Cojuangco

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Horsing around Seoul gangnam style

The first time I heard of Gangnam was when Madonna English posted "oppa gagnam sytle!" on my Facebook wall in response to my Seoul airport check-in.  Honestly I didn't know what she meant until I googled the whole phrase and Korean rapper Psy popped out in his sleek back hairstyle, dark shades and white suit riding an invisible horse.

Believe it or not,  this guy everywhere in Seoul! On gigantic video billboards, television,  radio, everywhere!  In case you don't know who Psy is (which I doubt),  watch the youtube link. As a trivia: he already ousted Justin Bieber's number one slot on youtube.

Tree-lined Gargosugil in Gangnam
Anyway, back to Seoul. To be honest, my first visit in 2007 was so horrible that I vowed not to go back. The people were unfortunately unfriendly and all out rude.

What capped it was my flight on board Korean Airlines from Seoul to Chicago where I had an allergic reaction from the meal served. My body developed rashes, my lips and eyes puffed up and I had difficulty breathing. When I asked the flight attendant for antihistamines, she handed the first aid kit and kept screaming that the airline didn't have any. She only stopped screaming when I said that I may sue the airline if I got worst in Chicago. That's when she called the purser, who then called the captain, who then requested for a doctor and yes, I was given a shot of antihistamine and an oxygen tank sat next to me throughout the rest of the flight.

I am pleased that Seoul has changed in the last five years. The people are much friendlier, can converse in English, smile a lot and they look generally happy. There were English-speaking guides strategically located in the tourist sites to help out foreigners find their way around.

Male standees all over 
Aside from the food, one thing I love about the Koreans is that they are quite disciplined and clean. I did not spot any litter on the street. Also, most of the people that I've met - both men and women - have beautiful skin, Yes skin!  This must be because beauty products are aplenty. After all, Korea made blemish balm creams or BB creams popular throughout Asia.

If you haven't been to Seoul, it's definitely worth a trip. Do plan to stay at least four to five days to shop, eat and see the sights. The flight form Manila is only four hours.

Five things to do:

1. Sights - there are five palaces to choose from - UNESCO world heritage sites Gyengbokung and  Changdeokgung are my top picks.  Visit the Cheonggyehcheon restored stream on a weekend to check out the market (we were lucky to spot a filming crew).

2. Shop - check out the specialty shops in Gargosugil Street in Gangnam;  for antiques, celadon pottery or wooden masks in Insadong, the malls in Meyongdong (do get your BB products in Lotte's  Duty Free shop); and visit the night markets- Dongdaemun, Yongsan (electronics).

3. Facial or massage - there are lots of spas! Go for a massage, facial and you may even want to get an eyebrow or eyeliner which may last for 2-3 years.

4. Eats - of course, the best thing to do is to enjoy eating! Do try their ginseng-ginger chicken, arirang, kalbi, my favorite spicy tofu stew called soondubuchigae, bibimpap, Sunday brunch in Gangnam and don't forget to drink soju (Korean vodka)!! 

5. Night light - check out Itaewdon reminded me so much of Lai Kwai Fong, Hongdae (lots of college students) and Gangnam. 

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Rx: Salt is actually good for you!

Yup, sea salt that is. My doctor advised to take at least 3 tsp daily in water.  Sad to say, it is not easy to find sea salt here in Manila. What's sold in supermarkets including the wet markets is iodized salt.

As a side note:  in December 1995, then President Fidel V. Ramos (FVR) passed Republic Act 8172 or the ASIN Law to prevent iodine deficiency disorder (IDD). At that time, it was the leading cause of mental and physical retardation, including stunting and goiter. World Health Organization said that IDD "can start before birth, jeopardize children's mental health and often their very survival."

Anyway, the benefits of taking sea salt  are:  (dissolved in water) it reduces blood pressure, helps in the elimination of toxins and regulates PH balance; (when bathing) gives an antiseptic effect to the skin and may reduce histamine that causes inflammation and itching sensation; (in a diffuser) helps in relieving congestion and/or asthma (trivia: salt has been known as the first antibiotic); (and under the tongue) stops persistent dry cough.

Best of all, sea salt is apparently a natural hypnotic and helps aid sleep.  Before going to bed, drink a full glass of water  and put a few grains of salt under the tongue. You will feel sleepy within an hour.

I know that some of you may say that salt is salt and the chemical property is sodium chloride (NaCl).  Mayo Clinic nutritionist Katherine Zeratsky said that the differences between sea salt and table salt are in the taste, texture and processing. She said sea salt is produced through evaporation of sea water, usually with little processing; while table salt is mined from underground salt deposits.. and thus, "more heavily processed to eliminate minerals and usually contains an additive to prevent clumping."

So there! I now use sea salt as my homeopathic remedy for everything!  I get my supply from my doctor (which is sourced from Pangasinan) and when she runs out, I get in Rituals (at The Collective on Malunggay St.). For those who still believe in IDD, try eating foods that are loaded with iodine like saltwater fish, squids, shrimps, crabs, seaweeds (kelp, arame, hiziki, kombu and wakame), even cranberries and strawberries!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Solar return in Lisboa

Photo taken by Gai in Oliver's
Have you ever wondered why people say "many happy returns'  on your birthday?

Astrologically, it means that "on your birthday each year the sun returns to its natal position. This is known as the solar return and thus, marks the beginning of a new year... Where you are at the time of the solar return can affect the house positions of the planets ... changing your location, even just for that day can move the planets into different house and thereby influence other areas of life instead."

So for my solar return this year, I opted to spend it outside my country of birth, in other words - - abroad to shake up my planetary configuration!

BFF Gai helped in choosing and planning. Since I wouldn't be able to enter our first choice Beirut (Lebanon) because of an Israeli-stamp on my passport, we narrowed down the destinations to PIGS which is the acronym for Portugal-Italy-Greece-Spain or countries that are currently experiencing debt crisis and therefore, to some place reasonable.

May I add that it helped that the peso was strong at P50 to 1 compared to last year's P70. By process of elimination, we settled with Portugal where neither of us have been to. Well, I was there when I was 17 backpacking but I don't remember much.

Vasco de Gama monument on Tagus River
Before finalizing, I took a last minute poll just to be sure, between Prague and Lisbon. Prague won hands down. I guess like everyone else, I must admit that  Portugal is not one of my top-of-mind destinations and still think it's part of  Spain because of its proximity! Actually it was until 1494 when both countries signed the treaty of Tordesillas which divided the world - yes, the world, between two hemispheres. Portugal at the time led the age of discovery with its explorers Vasco da Gama who was the first to sail eastward to India around Africa in 1498 and Ferdinand Magellan who was the first to circumnavigate the globe and  discovered the Philippines in 1521.

Anyway, Gai made all the arrangements including finding the best located funky apartment in Sta. Catarina on the fringe of Chiado and getting acquainted with the warm, friendly folk. We looked to Anthony Bourdian as our guide to glorious food. We're both familiar with Portuguese food having visited Macau and Goa but nothing beats eating in the country itself.

Tram No. 28
For first timers in Lisbon, I strongly advise to do a walking tour with the We hate Tourism company to get your bearings and have a good feel of the districts. The tram No 28 was plying through our neighborhood but with all the pickpocket warnings, we ended up cabbing everywhere. Warning: ditch stilettos! The place has seven hills and thus hilly [duh!] plus it will be extremely difficult to negotiate the cobblestones without the heels getting stuck.

Barrio Chiado, one of the eight districts 
The best way to explore Lisbon is to map out the sights per district as Gai had planned.  For instance, spend half a day in Belem and check out Vasco de Gama's monument and Tower, have cocktails by the river, visit Berardo museum and the Monastery, eat the local food in the area and of course Pasteis de Belem for the best egg tarts in town.  Another is to spend a full day in the old district in Alfama on a Tuesday or Saturday starting with the Feira de Ladra flea market which opens at 8am, the Fado museum, Castelo de Sao Paolo (castle), Se cathedral, etc. Or go out of town to visit the beaches - not to miss is Sintra! Or soak up the view in any of the districts' park with a glass of vinho verde (green wine) or hangout in Fernando Pessoa's favorite cafe Brasileira in Chiado to watch the various acts - it may be a mime, a flame thrower and believe it or not, even an alpine horn blower.

Five must do in Lisbon:
Clams served in Ramiro with garlic and cilantro, a staple
1. Restos - Portuguese food is basically seafood - the famous bacalau (cod), sardines, and my favorite octopus!  Try Ramiro for its fresh seafood (warning: check menu prices becaue it's by kg) and make sure to order a Prego for dessert and end with a Pedrini which is ice cream, orange juice and vodka; Cantinho da Avillez for lunch, Oliver's Restaurant (of the three, I like the Restaurant where I spent my birthday), 100 Maneiras, Pasteis de Belem or Nata for the best egg tarts, Pareirinha de Alfama for some original Fado music and arroz de marisco which is much better than paella, or if you want some fresh organic veggies try Flower Power on Calzada do Combro and of course, anywhere in Barrio Alto for a good meal. Also Santini for ice cream, breakfast in a Padaria Portuguesa.

Gai with designer/owner in Feira de Lard
2. Shopping - Feira de Ladra flea market (Tuesdays and Saturdays from 8am to 2pm), designer shops at Barrio Alto and Chiado, El Corte Ingles.

3. Bars- Pensao Amor,  Silk, BBC, Instituto do Vinho for the best Porto wine,  anywhere in Barrio Alto - where, mind you,  the nightlife starts at midnight!

4. Museums - the ancient and modern art collection of Armenian billionaire Calouste Gulbenkian and the contemporary art collection of Portuguese millionaire Jose Manuel Rodrigues Berardo, theManueline-style architecture Jeronimos Monastery in Belem which is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mude Design and a must-see is Sao Domingos Church in Chiado which has been left untouched since the 1755 earthquake.

breathtaking view in Cascais
5. Sights outside Lisbon -  the mystical Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which has masonry alchemy symbols (do skip Cascais if you have only one day), visit  Fatima to join the hopefuls and kneel all the way to the shrine, Estoril where we spent our first night in Tamariz and if you have more time,  go visit the much talked about Porto!

After shaking my stars so to speak, let's see how my year pans out and maybe.. I may spend my solar return again elsewhere.  Read Gai's Guide to Lisbon part 1 and part 2.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Palawan's secret: Tabon Cave

Tita Flor and Roca 
Over Sunday lunch on July 8, my sister Roca who will soon be migrating abroad, declared that she wants to explore the Philippines before she goes. Top on her list was Palawan.  I told her that I've been to St. Paul's Underground River several times before and would love to join if Tabon Cave is included in her itinerary. So lo and behold, the very next day, she made plans and that following weekend, we were off to Puerto Princesa - my aunt (Tita Flor), Roca and niece flew a day earlier to visit the Underground River.

I have never been to Tabon Cave and learned about it in history class in grade school. The site is where the skull of the earliest man in the Philippines was discovered in May 1962 by an american anthropologist Dr. Robert Fox.  The fossils date back between 22,000 and 20,000 B.C. Actually, the site is a cave complex in a 138-hectare island in Lipuun Point in Quezon municipality about 145 kilometers southwest of Puerto Princesa.

It is not easy to get to Tabon. My sister found only one travel agent that services the site. And it is a whole-day trip, a three-hour ride from Puerto Princesa to Quezon and mind you, some portions are quite bumpy. Then, another  30-min ride by banca (outrigger boat).

The ride is quite scenic going through vast rice fields  including that of the Iwahig Penal Colony or prison without walls. It was built by the Americans in 1904 to serve as a source of food supply for prisoners and now, it is known as a source for finely made handcrafted bags and souvenirs.

At the National Museum in Quezon
The first stop in Quezon was the National Museum. Here we registered, toured the museum featuring some of the excavated artefacts and watched the required educational video about the island.  Since it was past noon, we decided to abort the planned picnic on the island and eat in the museum.

After lunch, it was a short drive to the pier to get on the banca. Note: wear trekking sandals! We had to walk through rocks in the pier and upon reaching the island,  we had to carefully tread our way through urchin-laden water to shore.

Entrance to the cave
According to our guide, the Tabon Cave complex has 218 caves, only 22 have been explored and only seven are accessible to the public. Unfortunately, 'accessible' doesn't mean you can enter the caves. We were allowed up to the mouth of each cave. If you want to enter the caves, you must ask permission from the National Museum before going.

The place is not a popular tourist destination at all. We were the only ones on the island. The last tourists who came, logged in two weeks before us. So you can imagine how pristine the place is. It was so quiet that we could hear the birds chirping, the wind rustling the leaves and hear our heart beat from climbing steep steps and that's a total of 1,054 steps! Our guide said that often times, he would spot snakes, wild boars and even bear cats.

White sand beach of Tabon Cave
The tour is a good trek - an hour or two depending on your stamina. The path will cut through rainforest. If your knees are weak, I would suggest to climb the steps slowly - - or go for a swim, walk the white sand beach or tan.

For those who wish to visit Tabon Cave, you can do it yourself - hire a van, bring packed lunch and drinks and text Jay of the National Museum in Quezon at (0948) 159-0955 to inform him of your date of arrival and number of tourists. This is much cheaper than the P4,500 per person we were charged by the Tour operator. The cost though included everything - the van and driver, a licensed tour guide,  entrance fees, packed lunch and drinks.

Tabon Cave

Some of the caves as seen from the shore
Low tide
Site where Dr. Fox found the skull

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

You might have TMJ (Temporo-mandibular Joint Disorder)?

Are you experiencing headaches, ringing in the ears, hearing loss, pain in your neck or shoulders, or sometimes back or leg pain? Or maybe you grind your teeth at night?  Chances are you are suffering from TMJ or Temporo-Mandibular Joint disorder.

The joint is where the upper temporal bone (skull) is hinged to the lower bone (mandible) and is responsible for jaw movement such as chewing, talking, yawning, etc. So, what is the connection between this joint and all bodily pain or symptoms I just described earlier?

Well, according to statistics, nine out of ten people have at least one sign or symptom of TMJ and mostly high stress women are prone to it. My osteopath Dr. JP Prado who was treating me for my back pain, was the one who spotted the problem and recommended that I consult with his mom, Dr. Dorothy.

I did go for an x-ray and to my surprise,  the x-ray confirmed that I was suffering from TMJ. As you can see from the image below, my left jaw joint (right side of the image) was not firmly in place and would've popped out of the socket in a matter of time.

Panoramic x-ray shows the misaligned joint 

TMJ is known as the Great Impostor because it not only mimics the conditions I mentioned earlier but believe it or not -  is the root cause of all other problems. I'm referring to these problems I've experienced throughout the years -  balance problems, nausea, cervical pain, lower back pain, restriction of neck motion, constant throat infection, sinus congestion, ear infection and even asthma.

Note that for each of the problem, I would see a specific doctor such as EENT, pulmonary, orthopedic, physical therapist, chiropractor, etc. You can just imagine the cost of my medical bills.

If you have any of the following, you may be a TMJ candidate:  history of trauma or dental work like braces, orthodontics;  jaw clicks; limited or painful range of jaw movement; teeth fail to meet properly; grinding or clenching at night; recurrent symptoms in head, neck, shoulders, back, knees; including headache or migraines; biting of tongue, cheeks or lips.

the Splint
By the way, when I saw Dr. Dorothy, my lower teeth was half its original size from all the grinding, my jaw was already receding, my face was a bit lopsided to the right and my left shoulder was higher than my right. Dr. Dorothy recommended a splint (which looks like a mouth guard) that I wear 24x7 to correct the misalignment. While she's correcting my jaw (upper body), I still see her son the osteopath to address my spinal problem.

P.S.,  Do you know the saying that there is no such thing as a coincidence?  Well, I met Dr. JP in one of Yoga Plus's weekend wellness talks. He was giving a lecture on Yoga and how to address spinal alignment problems. It was right after that lecture that I booked a session with Dr. JP and the rest is history. All I can say is, I am so happy that I discovered the source for all my seemingly unrelated medical problems. And in closing, I do agree with Albert Einstein,  "Coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous."

Monday, 2 July 2012

Stipple art using SnapDot app

Stipple portrait
"That's cool" I kept cooing as my sister showed me how to make a stipple portrait using an iPhone app called SnapDot. In less than two minutes, she created a stipple portrait of the two us (right photo).

Stipple is a method of drawing using dots or in the art world, the technique is referred to as  pointilism.

The creator Jim Collier was inspired by the pen and drawing headcut portraits in The Wall Street Journal. He said in an interview with Gigaom's Erica Ogg  "In the 1980s as a student at Harvard Business School, Collier said he’d often be distracted and reading the paper in class. 'I would see the stipple drawings in The Wall Street Journal and think, I wish I was doing that instead of sitting here'.’” Fast forward to 22 years later, he is now sharing his passion and created this app together with Adrian Secord of Dotwwerx.

The itunes description says "SnapDot gives your iPhone the ability to draw professionally with the ideal fine art format: dots! SnapDot applies your creativity to your favorite photos with intuitive controls..... each setting turns your photo into a unique work of art to share with friends and hang on your wall." 

How to use the app:

M-Maybe by Roy Lichtenstein (1965)

The stipple drawing instantly reminded me of Roy Lichtenstein's artworks where he uses dots in various sizes and colors.  I was lucky that I caught his retrospective exhibit recently at the Art Institute of Chicago, the largest so far mounted with 160 works from 1960s to 1990s.

Jim says though that there is no comparison. His app is not pop art but stipple. Well, they're both dots to me <LOL!>.

I do like the SanpDot app since its easy and fast to use, there is an option to convert to black and white and also choose the background paper (I chose sepia). The android version is yet to be made.

The app was released on June 22  is already highly rated. The introductory price of $0.99 is only up to July 15. If you want to create dot art like Lichtenstein or as Jim insist on calling 'stipple' portraits of yourself or your friends and family, check this app out.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Chicago Chicago! 5 Must do things in Chicago.

Chicago River
Did you know that the Chicago River is color green because of the clay floor and the algae that grows on that clay?  Well, that's what the guide said during our architectural boat river cruise which by the way is a must- do while in Chicago. 

Here's my five must do things while visiting Chicago:

1. The restaurants! Its a foodie's haven. "Chicago cooking" has been buzzed about in the last couple of years as one Chicago resident described it as "daring, snout-to-tail, chef-driven." 
Blackbird chef Paul Kahan was the first to defy the foie gras ban way back which led to the city repealing the law. Must try are: Purple Pig food from rising star chef Jimmy Barrios who opened Batali's New York restaurants (note: no reservations so best to go off-hours), top Chef winner Steph Izar'ds Girl and the Goat, Maud's Liquor Bar by Chef Jeff Pikus, Boka in Lincoln Park, Naha on Clark, the new Italian-fare Balena. To book a table try 

Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate sculpture 
2. Take the  Architectural River Boat cruise. Actually, it  should be the first on your list to give you an orientation of the City, its history and architecture. Note that it was scorching hot this June with temperature as high as 100! So, best to go early to avoid the lines and also wear a hat and sunglasses.

3. The Millenium Park to see the modern  art sculptures laid out in the 9-hectare garden and the iconic Cloud Gate (right photo), the gigantic, biomophic  sculpture made by Anish Kappor. It took him two years to complete this biomophic piece referred to by Chicago residents as 'the bean'. It is huge! 33 x 66 z 42 feet and apparently weighs 110-tons and made up of 168 stainless steel plates welded together with a mirror finish. 

with Eileen, Torpedo Los by Lichenstein behind
4. The Museums - top of my list is the Art Institute of Chicago on South Michigan Ave.  I was lucky to catch the retrospective show of Roy Lichenstein (until September 3), the largest exhition so far of the pop artist mounted with more than 160 of his works up. I heard it took four years to mount this exhibit. Also check out the Museum of Science and Industry on Lakeshore Drive. The museum has four floors and special exhibits so allot at least 4-5 hours!! I was able to see the interactive exhibits You! The Experience, Genetics and the Baby Chick Hatchery and Fast Forward and missed Mythbusters Explosive Exhibition and Smart Home: Green + Wired
If you have more time, go visit Sheld Aquarium which has the largest shark exhibit and tank and the natural history museum,  Field Museum

5. And lastly, go check out the theater scene which now rivals New York. Clybourne Park was first staged by Steepenwolf before winning a Tony for Chicago-playright Bruce Norrisand now playing in New York. Theater! I watched the Million Dollar Quartet, a fun musical about the story of Sun Records producer Sam Philips' last night on December 4, 1956 with his four bankable talents - Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and his then new discovery Jerry Lee Lewis. To get discounted tickets, visit

Last tip, bring your running shoes and run along Lakeshore Drive or Michigan Ave to the Water Tower. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Happy birthday Jose Rizal (June 19)

Jose Rizal, photo from Lopez Museum via Eric Ambata
Philippine alternative filmmaker

In commemoration of our  national hero's -  José Protacio Rizal birth month, internationally acclaimed filmmaker and author Nick Deocampo will trace the beginnings of Philippine cinema signalled by the first feature film on Rizal, and how the history of local cinema has been further enriched by films about him and his works. Deocampo's lecture "Rizal, Cinema and the Filipino Nation" is on June 30 (Saturday) from 2 to 4pm at the Lopez Museum in Ortigas, Pasig.