Sunday, 27 May 2012

An afternoon stroll along Estero de Paco

Estero de Paco view from Pedro Gil sans trash
I've always wanted to check out Paco especially since it is the first tributary cleaned by Gina Lopez's project called Kapit Bisig Para Sa Ilog Pasig (KBPIP) or Linking Arms for the Pasig River.  So, when  I saw Jude's tweet inviting any would be walkers to join him in Paco on a Saturday afternoon, I immediately replied with a "Yessss!!".

The Pasig River is 27-km long that stretches from Laguna de Bay to Manila Bay. Unlike the Thames, Seine, Chao Praya or any other river in the world, the Pasig River has been deemed biologically dead in the 1990s due to 80 years of abuse brought about by over population and pollution.  Several efforts were undertaken by past governments to clean the river but have fallen short because of lack of funding and technology as well as difficulty in relocating the informal settlers.

with some of the active River Warriors
Instead of attacking the whole stretch, Gina divided the river into its tributaries and focused on cleaning the river one section at a time starting with Estero de Paco - the dirtiest and largest.  In two years, she managed to relocate over 1,200 families to Caluan, Laguna, removed 3,200 cubic meters of trash, landscaped the area and installed biomatrix floating machines (aerators) and lastly, created and recruited River Warriors.

spotted five aerators along the canal
There are about 200 River Warrior volunteers and 25 of them are active. The 25 are charged with cleaning  the headwater (the area covers 16 barangays) five times a week from 6 am to 5 pm and half day on Saturdays. They admitted that it's hard to break a litterbugs' habit. No matter how hard they try to discipline the residents, some still do litter.

The River Warriors are also responsible for the MRF (material recovery facility) which transforms the garbage collected into usable products such as the hard tiles that are installed on the walkway along the canal (below).
tiles made of trash
the newly renovated Paco Market
The newly rennovated Paco Market which took ten months to build is right next to Estero de Paco. We were told that it will be formally launched on May 30.  The market with its white painted walls, high ceilings and clean stalls looks more like a tiangge for clothes, shoes, whatnot. At the center is an area for gatherings possibly for staged events.

Pasig River has at least 48 esteros.  The next section targeted is the area of Malacanan Palace - specifically Estero de San Miguel.

Our impromptu afternoon stroll in Estero de Paco is more like a do-it-yourself tour. We started at 3:30 pm and ended past 5pm,  over two hours. We started off at the corner of San Marcelino and walked down Pedro Gil where Jude pointed out the art deco buildings along the way (lucky for us he lived in the area since his University days as a medical student and loves architecture).

art deco Bellevue Theater built in the 1930s
walk-mates Charlotte and Jude
Our first stop was Paco Market to check out the stalls and view the exhibit about the history of Paco. Then, walked down the canal which is about 3-km long admiring the colorful homes painted in bright colors, the greenery - flowers and all.  Mind you, the river is clean (hopefully, clear soon) and rid of any stench. The children would either gape at Charlotte's dreadlocks and try to touch or ask why we were walking.

The walk was leisurely, meandering down the canal's path until we reached the end at the railway tracks across South Super Highway. We were looking for the MRF and accidentally met the River Warriors who were in a prayer meeting. We doubled back and chanced upon the first masonic lodge in the Philippines on San Marcelino.

Kids touching Charlotte's dreadlocks
We ended the day with a hearty italian dinner prepared by swiss Chef Chis in his new restaurant called My Kitchen located at the ground floor of Oasis Hotel, right next to Paco Park.

and me matching the flora (photo taken by Jude)
I must say that there is a huge potential to market Estero de Paco as a tourist destination. The tour is much like the Hutong tour I enjoyed in Beijing (which included a lunch though with a typical family) and the reality tour I booked in Mumbai inside  Dharvi, one of the largest slums in the whole of Asia. There are other tours offering this such as the Favela tour in Brazil and the Township tour in South Africa. In fact, Charlotte kept saying that backpackers would love the place. So, paging Secretary Jimenez of the Department of Tourism!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Bravo Jessica Sanchez aka Bebe Chez!!

16-year old Filipino-Mexican Jessica Sanchez aka Bebe Chez is American Idol's Season 11's Number Two. I'm having goosebumps all over as I'm watching her finale with Tony award winning actress Jennifer Holiday singing "And I am Telling You I'm Not Going" (Dreamgirls, 1982 billboard R&B hit).

According to the reports, as early as April, international R&B artist and record producer Akon said that he can't wait for Jessica to be eliminated so he can offer her a record deal.  He told E! news in Miam "I know I shouldn't be saying this, but I kind of want her to get voted off so I can sign her.. she's beyond the talent that's supposed to be there, I think she's overqualified, I really do." Akon who is ranked #9 in Forbes Hip-Hop Top 20 earners signed Lady Gaga in 2008 under his label KonLive.

However, as of today, rumors are abuzzing that Jesicca may sign with Casablanca Records owner Tommy Mottola who incidentally managed Idol judge, Jenifer Lopez in the early 2000s. When MTV asked Sanchez to confirm she said "Right now, I don't know what to expect. I've been in the "Idol" bubble, and now it's popped, and I don't know's going to happen. I don't know what's going to be thrown at me, but I'm excited to find out." Well, Motolla's Mexican wife Thalia revealed the deal through twitter

WOWgreat news!  just call me from & he is confirm to work in the first  CD!

Photos sourced from the Internet
So, what's in store for Bebe Chez?  I guess with Motolla (or maybe Akon) backing her, she will make it big, BIG time in the industry like all the other non-idol winners in the past. Starting with my fave Season 3's #7 Oscar and Grammy winner Jenifer Hudson, Season 5's #4 Chris Daughtry, Season 8's #4 Adam Lambert who was nominated a Grammy for best male pop vocal performance in 2010 and Season 2's #2 Clay Aiken who co-wrote a New York Times best selling book Learning to Sing: Hearing the Music in Your Life.

Good luck girl!! You make us proud!!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Going Gaga over Born this Way Tour in Manila

Critics missed Lady Gaga wrapping the flag around her face
Amid calls by religious organizations to cancel Lady Gaga's concert, her two-day Born This Way Ball Tour  in the newly built 20,000-seater Mall of Asia Arena was sold out despite the pricey tickets.

The protesters accused her of 'symbolizing everything that is corrupt and demonic'. Well, 26-year old Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta a.k.a Lady Gaga is definitely far from being demonic, she is believe it or not honest, modest and quite charming!

This college drop out (like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates), started her career in 2007 as a songwriter and in 2008 became famous for her debut album The Fame. Since then she has sold 23 million albums and 64 million singles worldwide and received five Grammy Awards and 13 MTV Video Music Awards.

Lady Gaga in her infamous meat dress
Frankly, after watching last night's performance, this pop diva actually strikes me more of an activist, a crusader campaigning against bullying, against gay discrimination and even against the treatment of women as 'a piece of meat'.

She dedicated Hair to "... all those kids  who take their lives when they're so young because they feel bullied, or they're afraid because they're gay and they don't want to tell anybody... what I don't respect is homophobia and hatred.. I reject intolerance to the gay community."

Her message to all the little monsters last night was simply about acceptance and self confidence, to be proud of who you are. She said "I know that everybody.. thinks that I stand for... really inappropriate things that are really bad for.. ... The truth is, I want the best for every single one of you. I love you with all of my heart and all my soul.. and all the things that I think about and the way that I am, it's my lifestyle, it's just part of this one big giant performance art statement of liberation. So, I hope that you feel tonight as free as your hair. And to those of you that don't feel free, take the best opportunity to free yourselves."

From the lyrics of Born this Way: Don't hide yourself in regret, just love yourself and you're set, I'm on the right track baby, I'm born this way. 

Lady Gaga's set list in Manila:

For her opening act Highway Unicorn, she came out on horseback clad in a horned headpiece

Government Hooker
She wowed the little monsters by donning a yellow terno (Philippine national costume) in Born this Way

Black Jesus + Amen
In a towering white outfit singing Bloody Mary

Bad romance

Alas, the battery of my phone ran out.. so I'm just sending the youtube links below. :-)
Fashion of his Love
Just Dance
Love Game
Heavy Metal Lover
Bad Kids
You and I
Electric Chapel
Poker Face
Edge of Glory
Marry the Night

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Oops I did it again.. lower back pain

Honestly, I don't remember when I last hurt my back.  It was an awful feeling waking up last Saturday not being able to move. I met up with a friend later during the day who offered some muscle relaxant which I hesitatingly took and insisted that I see a doctor if the pain doesn't go away.

Well, the pain worsened and the first thing I did yesterday was to hobble to Intercare to get some kind of relief. Luckily, the rehab doctor Dra. Annie Dizon was there to attend to me. She ruled out sciatica, pinch nerve and said that the cause was muscle-related. She also mentioned that I had the same issue as early as 2007.   (Note: I now love medical records!) Specifically,  she diagnosed left lumbar strain and sacroiliac joint dysfunction:

Since the pain was unbearable, Dra. Dizon recommended that I undergo daily treatment consisting of Physical Therapy (i.e. hot packs, light massage, ultrasound with tense and stretch), myofasial therapy (deep tissue massage) and chiropractic treatment with Dr. Martin Camara. She said that the cause may be attributed to stress, improper bending or lifting and even poor posture.

I did a postural alignment test, actually a video of my spine was taken using the Kinesio Capture, an iPad app. As shown in the video below, the result indicated that my spine is off a few degrees in certain portions of my body. One of the doctors of Intercare pointed out that the misalignment may be causing the muscle strain and tension and thus, over time triggered the lower back pain. He added that good posture and chiropractic treatment may help relieve the tension in the low back area.

The axiom health is wealth is a popular cliché but after this week's bill plus next week's (unfortunately, Intercare is not covered by my insurance policy), it is best to take this dictum to heart. Prevention is the key to good health. After this week's experience, I made a list of resolutions that will prevent such hiccups  and let me go on doing the things I love to do.

All taped up
Here's my list of resolutions: (1) Because core muscles support the spine, focus on core stabilization and strengthening exercises; (2)  Always stretch especially the hamstrings and piriformis - i.e. after work out, sitting for a prolonged period of time, and before sleeping;  (3)  Book a massage at least once a week (preferably, myofasial release); (4) Lift objects properly by bending knees (hmm.. I have to check with Miggy though regarding  dead lifts); (5) And lastly, apply kinesio tape (left) to support the strained areas - back, legs, shoulder.

Since it's Buddha's birthday this week, let me end with a quote from him To keep the body in good health is a duty... otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.