Let Your Voice Be Heard: The Philippine Issues Writing Project

If you are Filipino blogger, there's no better time and venue to express support for the country than here and now. You, who have been given the gift of words, the freedom of expression and the power to effect change -- you can do something. If you can write exactly how you feel about the many issues and problems plaguing our country today, I urge you to join. It wouldn't take too much of your time, really. An article or two wouldn't be so hard to write specially if you feel strongly about it and you know that it is relevant. If there's ever a burning topic in your mind that you've always wanted to write about concerning politics, the philippine society, the environment, technology and other highly talked about issues, now is the time to share it to all Filpinos and to the world. And you know what, It doesn't even have to be a celebrated or publicized issue at all because sometimes, those not discussed publicly are those that actually matter. It's high time that we get these issues out in the open for everyone to see and realize. Not a political blogger? Not an issue. Anyone who wants to write, even non-bloggers can join. If you can write an email, you can join. You decide your topic, the number of words, and the style to use -- eloquence is not a requirement. Don't just be another part of history, be a significant part of it. Let your vote be counted, let your opinions be heard. After all, that's what democracy is truly about. So much has been said about our country, I know, probably even too much. But that doesn't mean, we've heard all the "good" ones. For all you know, what you want to write and will write about would make a difference, a dent in the minds of Filipinos everywhere that will bring about much-awaited and much-longed-for change.
Join us and make history! Not sold yet? Well, if making history isn't enough for you, there are other perks and prizes waiting for you as well...

Prizes will be P10,000 worth of books, cash prizes, and t-shirts among others. The list gets updated regularly so that's just for starters. Many people are generously giving their share of prizes in support of this project.

Update, May 4: Prizes

To join, visit the FilipinoVoices.com website or better yet, click here to get to the exact sign-up page. Remember, it only takes one person to blaze a trail but it takes a collective effort to create a significant impact. Be that person and be part of that collective! I'll be waiting for your article, kabayan.

Gardening is Therapeutic

My mother is such a sucker for plants. I remember when I was younger, so much younger than today (haha..), she would wake up very early in the morning never forgetting to water her dear plants. She would lovingly check each leaf for aphids (whitish plant insects) and remove each one carefully as if a brain surgeon reconnecting neurons and nerves..haha.. Oh, she loved her plants dearly. And how happy was she whenever she sees leaves looking all "green and shiny". Every morning, that was her joy, her piece of heaven on earth, her communion with nature. It's no wonder then that she has a "green thumb". Whatever she plants, whatever the condition, I can always bet that it will grow. Now, I'm not a hopeless romantic when it comes to plants, although somehow I knew that deep inside me, I probably am like my mom -- only that I wouldn't admit it. I just can't live in a place that doesn't have greenery, if only a few pots of it. Incidentally, we live in a townhouse, so unfortunately for me, the small patch of earth that we have here can only provide living, breathing space to a few plants. And now that we are talking plants, let me introduce you to my favorite right now. Well, it's not really a "plant" per se, but a vegetable I think (haha).. drum roll please... my "malunggay" -- otherwise known as "moringa oleifera". Today's much-talked about, much-hyped vegetable is indeed a wonder. It is known in the English-speaking countries as ben oil tree, the horseradish tree, or the drumstick tree. I'm not certain about the specifics and I leave that to you to research on, but from what I know
it has vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, iron and calcium in even greater potency as compared to the so-called main source of these vitamins.

Now, that's a lot of vitamins!

So, the other day, I did what I have always been planning to do. I planted my very own "malunggay". And boy was I glad that I did it. I felt really good. Gardening is indeed therapeutic. One thing is certain, I will be doing it again. I guess I'll be adding this to my cheap thrill list. :)

A Tooth for a Tooth, An Eye for An Eye?

Last night, I saw the news. Four people were killed in another shootout, this time, in Tanauan, Batangas. These men were believed to be or are suspects, so they say, of the RCBC bank robbery massacre in Cabuyao, Laguna where 10 people were mercilessly murdered. Now, I'm not saying that this right or wrong. It's just that somehow I think the police aren't doing their operations as covert and as tactically as they should. I mean, think of this: You raid a house of a suspected robber and expect to be treated to dinner? Obviously, if there was any truth to your accusations as evidenced by initial investigations, it is only normal to expect hostility from the suspected party. So, if these guys from the police actually know how to deal with this properly, shootouts would be prevented. I understand that we all want a speedy delivery of justice. But if you keep on shooting people (although inevitable in a shootout), how can you possibly say that justice has been served when the people can't even talk to spill stories that would shed further light and understanding regarding the incident? Now, I wouldn't want to think that the police are looking for a "fall guy" or "fall guys" as that. I know that the PNP can really deliver sometimes, if not most of the time. But the incidents of shootouts only add to the death toll of violence. I don't know what sort of strategy they should employ, but I'm sure there are other ways of "getting" the suspects aside from getting them dead in body bags. And let us also not forget, that these people, however evil they may be, are just like many of us -- they have families as well. And for all we know, their families may not even have an inkling as to the extra-curricular activities of their family members, thus, they too are victims. They will mourn as well. Now, if there's ever a good reason for the US Military to visit us, I guess giving the police a training on how to properly conduct an "extraction" in the least violent way possible is what they should do and what we should request. Many times have we seen such scenario in the Philippines. The police can't properly handle a hostage scenario. Remember the boy who was taken as hostage in a bus terminal somewhere in Manila years back? I'm sure you do. I had nightmares after seeing the footage in the news. Clearly, something has to be done differently. Peace and order can only be achieved if our main goal is to save people's lives, no matter how good or evil they may be. After all, we are not God.

Why Silk Plants Make Perfect Sense

These days, just about anything is disposable. We live in an age where we prefer convenience over sentimentality. No longer do we hold on to things that we don't find functional at present. And sometimes, it's actually a good thing. Our house becomes uncluttered, we travel light and we become somewhat free to focus on things that matter most rather than sweating the small stuff.

There are, however things that we prefer to keep, things that we know are valuable to us today and in the future -- something whose functionality will probably outlast any fad and will always be useful to us in the future. Enter silk plants. These "little wonders" are so indispensable in today's living. Let's face it, a house or room without some sort of greenery is less appealing than one that's filled with decorative plants. It adds beauty, creates an ambiance and so much more. But since "living spaces" nowadays tend to be just that -- a "space", we know better that as much as we'd like to decorate it with real plants and trees, it's both almost impossible and impractical. For one, if you live in a high-rise condominium, it might suggest two things: 1. You are a career-driven city-dweller (and a busy one at that), which means that you might not have the time to care for natural decorative plants -- and what a shame and a waste if these plants die uncared for and 2. You are exposed to pollution, which may have caused you to develop asthma or any other lighter although equally annoying allergies that will make exposure to "pollens" intolerable to you. If that's the case, then silk plants are definitely the way to go.

As for me, I have two (2) reasons why I believe silk foliage makes perfect sense. Foremost reason: You will do Mother Earth a great favor by preserving / avoiding felling trees for, say, setting-up the traditional Christmas tree. It's indeed a very special occasion yet we know the harsh reality that the day after it's been set-up, it gets thrown away. There goes another tree -- one that might have lived longer had a silk/faux plant/tree counterpart been used instead. Buying silk foliage will also save you money since, as in the case of the well-loved Christmas tree, you get to use it the following year and the year after. The beautiful real tree then lives and you save money for more important things like presents. Everybody's happy. Second reason, having real plants inside the house also poses a threat of insect infestation. As I've realized of late, a little natural "money tree" we have in the living room harbors mosquitoes that as you might be well aware of, spreads deadly diseases.

That said, I would say that for people who love to decorate their houses or other living spaces with greenery, silk foliage will provide you with many benefits. So, for those who don't have a green thumb but are interested in "greening" your place, there is hope. There are silk plants.

My Podcast is Now Live!

Hello there! :) I'm thrilled to announce that my podcast "A Day In The Life Of RJ" is now live! This is an enhanced version of my new self-hosted blog "A Day In The Life Of RJ" because it contains rich media (meaning audio, video and the like). It took me a little less than two days to set everything up ( see blog here) but I'm very happy with the result. You can check it out at my blog link above or if you want to hear me in your iTunes or iPods, you can can download specific podcasts or sign-up for real-time feeds (updates) powered by FeedBurner. I will be podcasting audio-based journals (maybe videos as well--in the future) of daily adventures and misadventures at home and elsewhere, will express views on certain political and social issues, rant and rave about movies, tips and tricks on how I do stuff and a lot more.. Subscription is not a must but if you do subscribe to my feeds/podcasts, please let me know so I can thank you by writing a review about your blog on my site or podcasting about your site as well. Cool, huh? :) Thanks for your time! Have a nice day! :)

Migrating to My Self-hosted WordPress Blog

I have signed up with Blogger late December 2007 and had much fun blogging ever since. Although, on many occasions I had to put-off blogging for other important things so I ended up having erratic posts. My blog "At A Loss for Words: Writings of a Blogger Wannabe" has served me well and it is definitely my first love, so I can't just delete everything there and start over, even if I must admit that I was tempted to do so..I have realized, however, that this free account at Blogger has been limiting me in many ways in terms of plugins that many WordPress users have been taking advantage of for the longest time. I did try signing-up for WordPress free blog but it turns out it's more limiting than Blogger's free account since most codes aren't accepted and advertisements are barred as well. So I figured, might as well accept the inevitable -- a self-hosted blog. Besides, I've had a paid webhost for many months now but I haven't been taking advantage of this since I'm emotionally attached to my first blog. It's a tough decision to make since the traffic and Technorati authority, however little is very important to me. But as I've written in one of my entries, the "blogger wannabe" needs to grow somehow. It's also been said and blogged, time and again, that a serious blogger must do away with free hosts as much as possible. And I felt that it's high time that I do it since I would eventually do it anyway. Postponing it would only prolong my agony. So there, I installed WordPress on my host and bought a new domain that would go with it. From now on, my official blog will be at ADayInTheLifeOfRJ.com which is proudly powered by WordPress. I'm new to WordPress, still learning the ropes, but it's alright. I enjoy the thrill of learning new stuff and I marvel at the realization of "self-taught" knowledge. I will still run my Blogger blog though, since I run paid posts on that site, and my new site wouldn't qualify for SocialSpark until a certain period isn't satisfied. I suppose on my new blog's 3rd month, I can perform 100% migration. Deleting my old blog would still be difficult for me, I know. But 3 months is a long time anyway, I might still change my mind and gather enough strength to click that "Delete Blog" button. Until then, I need to get used to updating quite a few blogs. If you happen to visit ADayInTheLifeOfRJ.com, you will notice that I have imported my entries from Blogger. I'm still working on redirecting individual post links to make sure they point to my new site. I will post updates here as soon as they happen. I have one problem with my WordPress blog though, I think cross-posting isn't possible, one which I love about Blogger. Cross-posting has allowed me to just post one time at Blogger then all of my other blogs, including Multiply's will be updated. Maybe it is possible with WordPress. If it is, I will need to figure that out, and soon! If it's not, well.. as in anything, there are tradeoffs. And I'm cool with that. :)

Is your Name on The "Death Note"?

Assuming you have no idea what a "Death Note" is, I guess we can all agree that the mere relationship of those two words would bring chills to your spine. Imagine how it would feel if you did find one and saw your name written all over it. Scary, isn't it? Well, I'm sure I would freak out if not faint instantly or drop dead, if you may. I've had a few encounters with the supernatural and others may not even consider it entirely supernatural at all. But if I had one supernatural characteristic, that would be seeing the future 2-3 seconds ahead. It has happened to me several times before. It manifested in not so grand an event though. I remember the few times it happened when I somewhat saw clearly in my mind that the glass I was holding will drop and break, and break it did, 2 seconds later. Weird, huh?

So, have you heard about "Death Note"? If you haven't yet, read on. It's a new movie from NCM Fathom and Viz Pictures which is based on the highly-successful action mystery manga. It's a story about a student whose name is Light Yagami. It all begins when he finds a "Death Note" which has been left or dropped by a roque Shinigami death god called "Ryuk". Anyone whose name is written on the "Death Note" dies. Light, discovering the supernatural power the note possesses, used it in his mission to eradicate evil from the world. Bad people die, perfect world -- end of story. Sounds right? Not quite. After criminals start dropping dead like crazy, authorities decided to send "L", an ace-detective to hunt down Light who must have been using the Death Note's power irresponsibly and beyond reason. The movie then evolves around character clashes of Light and "L" both trying to prove each other wrong and claiming only one of them is right.

If you are a manga fan, you shouldn't dare miss this movie. For the first time, this story will come alive on the big screen for two (2) nights only, that's May 20 and 21, 2008 at 7:30PM. A special 20-minute feature will also be shown, discussing how this movie came about and the concept behind its adaptation from manga to the big screen. If you dig Red Hot Chili Pepper's music, better still, since their hit song "Dani California" will also be featured.

There's no official rating for the film yet, but it's expected to get an "R" rating. So, please be advised. Tickets are available now but seating is limited so you better get yours now if you're up to see this movie. You can buy tickets by going to the DeathNote website. Just enter your ZIP code and you're good to go. Remember, this movie runs for 2 nights only.

My First MRT Ride

I love firsts. I stood for 15 minutes but I enjoyed every minute of it. I wanted to take photos inside but I respect other people's privacy so I had to restrain myself..hahaha.. :) I wish there was one like it in Calamba.. traffics's horrible here..

My 4th Mother's Day

It seems like yesterday when I celebrated my first Mother's Day, six months after giving birth to my son. Now, it's my fourth. And it always felt even better than celebrating my birthday. Maybe that's because when I celebrate Mother's Day, I always celebrate it with my son. It's like a "mother and son" day. And rightfully so, since without my son, I would not have been a mother. It's amazing how motherhood changes you. Your hormones raging like a teenager -- all whacked-up and uncontrolled, your weight more difficult to manage than ever, your emotions more unpredictable than the weather, your patience tried every minute, makes you irritable and grumpy at times -- many times.. and yet, we mothers know that a simple, innocent and sweet smile from our children makes all those worries and anxieties go away. And somehow, all of a sudden, you don't really care how fat you are or how tired you are chasing your kid the entire day or even how you lose sleep every night making formula for your baby. All you care about is getting that feeling, that certain "high" that nobody else can ever give you, that no amount of promotion, reputation or monetary reward could ever duplicate. And yes, all of a sudden you realize there is meaning to your existence in this world after all. I am blessed. Very blessed. Not all mothers have the luxury of being with their children 24/7. Most mothers are compelled to work all in the interest of their children's future, of course. And I salute those moms. It takes a determined and strong mom to do it everyday. It's heartbreaking to leave a crying child, begging you to stay forever at his side. I remember when I used to work, everyday is a struggle. It would take me almost an hour just saying goodbye. It's never easy.

I thank God for the gift of motherhood. It made me the person that I am today. It may not have made me perfect but it gave meaning to my life. A lot of people go through their lives trying to make sense out of it. Hence the songs like "What's this life for?..". I'm happy to know that I know what my life is for. All I wish is that when my son grows up, he would remember how much I loved him and how having him made living in this crazy world worthwhile and fulfilling.

This is also a tribute to my mom. For all the love and support, for all the pain she endured for us, for all the lessons she taught us, for all the patience she had, for all the understanding she willingly gave us, and for all the time of her life that she spent choosing to do what's good for us over what's good for herself, no amount of words or flowers can ever compensate her.

Today is "Pangea Day"!

Today, May 10th, marks the first run of "Pangea Day". It is a global event whose mission is to unite the world through film and music. Cairo, Kigali, London, Los Angeles, Mumbai, and Rio de Janeiro will be joined together for a live program that will showcase films, live music and speakers. It is remarkable that this entire show will be broadcast in seven languages through the internet, television and mobile phones through the support of Nokia. A slew of select films, all 24, will be showcased in the event. These films have been chosen through a contest participated by over a hundred countries and generated over 2,500 entries! It will run for four amazing hours featuring performances from music artists and visionary speakers with no less than Queen Noor of Jordan, CNN's Christiane Amanpour, musician/activist Bob Geldof, and Iranian rock phenom Hypernova participating in the event.

Who's Idea is this?

From award-winning filmmaker Jehane Noujaim who won the TED prize in the annual TED Conference, came this idea, a wish that the world come together for a day through film. This was the realization of that wish.

Why the name?

"Pangea" is a term used to call the single, big continent the world used to be 250 million years ago. As you know, various environmental conditions resulted into its break-up to the continents we know today. So "Pangea Day" is anchored on that hope, that although now physically apart, we are still one world. We are essentially one continent, with the same aspirations, dreams and goals.

My Thoughts

The real essence of "Pangea Day" however, rests in the gradual change that it expects to generate from the event. Because long after the movie's over, the music's gone, and the speeches done, the fact remains that the world is in chaos. There are pressing issues around the globe. Local insurgency, terrorism, food and energy crisis, global warming and climate change, politics and atrocities being committed here and there. I pray that those who participate in this event whether directly or indirectly would effect change in their lives that would cause a chain reaction and inspire more and more people to do the same. As I write this, I am listening to an internet radio stream, the song goes:

" If I had one chance to
In my life again
I wouldn't make no changes
Now or way back when
And if everything turns out
The way I hope it goes
But I cant wait to find out
What it is that God knows
But I don't wanna think about
What's gonna come around for me
I'll just take it day by day
'Cause it's the only way
To be the best that I can be..."

I hope we all turn out to be the best that we can be. And I hope we take it a day at a time. Change will not happen overnight. But it always feels good to know that we're doing something about it, however little. Today is "Pangea Day". Happy "Pangea Day" everyone!

"I'm Sick and Tired of this Business"

That's what Oscar Lopez, chairman of First Philippine Holdings Corp. said amidst all the issues surrounding Meralco these days. And you couldn't really blame him for feeling that way. With the government and the entire Philippines, if you may, all pressuring Meralco to lower the rates while on the contrary a request to increase its rates is still pending at the Energy Regulatory Commission, what's a chairman to do? There doesn't appear to be any move from any party since if I were to believe the papers, GSIS lead by Winston Garcia isn't even sitting down with Meralco's executives to actually discuss means of solving the issue. Instead, they talk to media and expect to arrive with a miracle solution by exchanging views through a third party medium. Are they really that busy to not have time to actually talk face to face? The government, through GSIS has already explicitly denied any intention of a takeover and said they just want a change in management. Now, when you control 33% of stocks, aren't you supposed to have a significant influence on the board? And that said, I guess it's about time they stop talking "over the tv" and start doing it over coffee. Why is this power issue becoming more and more political than economic in the first place? This is probably why power rates in this country is among the highest in Asia if not the world. We're breaking records here, huh? We're also the number one rice importer in the world, among the most corrupt, and what else? Remind me please. Well, I'm sick and tired of Philippine politics. It's gonna kill us all. Run for your lives people!

Blogging has never been this fun!

I've been hanging out at the SocialSpark community these past few days and I must say that I've been having a great time. SocialSpark is a new community for bloggers and advertisers but it's a lot more interactive and fun. It owes its intuitive features to IZEA, the people behind PayPerPost. Just like PayPerPost, it can help you monetize your blog. So if you are looking for a way to earn some money from your blog, it's the best time to sign up. SocialSpark provides an avenue for establishing good reputation with advertisers and within your peers. It's like a cross between a social networking site ( so you can also build a community; but remarkably more fun because at SocialSpark, you meet people who share the same interests as you) and a problogging community of advertisers and bloggers. Because of the many people you interact with, you also drive traffic to your blogs. And aside from earning money, you also gain more exposure through the "spark" opportunities. A "spark" gives you a chance to exchange reviews with other bloggers in your community, thus gaining readership and more traffic.

If you want to connect with fellow bloggers from all parts of the world, you should check it out. I was amazed to see how many Filipino bloggers are in there, specially stay-at-home moms like me. Their blogs are witty, edgy, funky and really interesting reads. It's a relatively new community yet you somehow feel that you've been there a long time because the people are so warm and helpful. Blogger and advertiser profiles are publicly available too, including site statistics. You also know which "opps" goes to whom. So transparency is strictly observed. I haven't taken opps though, my blog has been approved just now. It takes from around 24-72 hours I before it gets approved because they do it manually. It takes time but I'm all for it. Manual verification is the way to go these days, specially that the blogosphere has been penetrated by splogs (spam blogs) and the likes. Blogs with true and relevant content are now few compared to splogs. These people at IZEA have done a really great job coming up with something as wonderful as SocialSpark. It's just my second day as member and I'm loving every minute of it. Pure fun and fulfillment. I also like the "prop" feature. If you liked the blogs and profiles you see, you can give them props. It's a good way to encourage fellow bloggers to write some more. Another thing that I love about SocialSpark is the way their code of ethics is laid out. They have 100% Audit-able In-Post Disclosure , 100% Transparency , 100% Real Opinions and 100% Search Engine Friendly.

They will never force you to write something in a certain tone. You write your opinions and that's it. Blogging has never been this fun and easy and rewarding at that.

There is of course, room for improvement. As I said, this is relatively new. But my personal experience has been awesome. I've met friends online and I look forward to meeting more. SocialSpark has definitely revolutionized the blog advertising and it did so with a blast!

See you at SocialSpark ! :) Sparks are flying!

I Disclose

A Disclosure Policy is a must for every blogger, specially for bloggers who accept paid posts. So, here's mine.

This policy is valid from 08 May 2008

This blog is a personal blog written and edited by Cecilia Regina "RJ" Blanquera-Marmol. For questions about this blog, please contact "RJ Marmol (ceciliareginamarmol [at] yahoo [dot] com)".

This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation.

This blog abides by word of mouth marketing standards. We believe in honesty of relationship, opinion and identity. The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post will be clearly identified as paid or sponsored content.

The owner(s) of this blog is compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics. Even though the owner(s) of this blog receives compensation for our posts or advertisements, we always give our honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the bloggers' own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question.

This blog does not contain any content which might present a conflict of interest.

To get your own policy, go to http://www.disclosurepolicy.org

Spare us the "Losses" Please

Our Meralco bill used to be around 2,800 pesos. The last month's bill however is just a little shy of 4,000 pesos. Tsk, tsk. I guess there's no stopping power rates from skyrocketing. I suppose the inevitable is here and we must learn to accept it. Gone are the days when electricity computation is extremely easy. I remember being taught in school how to read those Meralco meters, subtracting the previous month's reading from the current month's and then multiplying it with the prevalent rate per kilowatt-hr. And voila! You have the amount due. Now, it's a little bit complicated than that. The frequent clamor for a lower charge has left Meralco with no choice but to "unbundle" the computation specifying where the payment goes to. They would have opted to just lower the rate but I guess that was too much to ask (if we are to believe that they're doing their best to give us the lowest rate) so they chose to just lay out the specifics, hoping that will appease consumers. Apparently, it didn't help at all. Remember electricity "pilferage"? Ring any bell? Well, why would there be a need to track down energy robbers when they can easily get this "loss" from us consumers? Under the "Systems Loss" category, technical and non-technical losses are paid for by end users -- us. Natural and technical losses, those that we can't do without, well I guess we can accept that. But those non-technical ones like power cables and transformers being stolen, can't you spare us that? Please tell us why this is so? Or better yet, can't you find other solutions than just charging this to our bills? There are talks of suspending the VAT for both gas and power, and with Meralco, VAT accounts for a significant amount. However, I personally believe that this should be deliberated well because there are clear repercussions to this move. I read an article that reducing power rates would actually be more anti-poor in that the rich people would actually benefit from this. And this must be true since the needy actually had their power accounts cut-off already. This problem is bigger than how we see it. And it therefore needs a bigger solution and suspending VAT will be a small solution to an already mammoth problem. Something else has to be done, I wish I knew what. But if people in government and business can't think of any, how can they expect commoners like myself to come up with a brilliant idea? Or maybe, they actually know what to do, only that they lack the political will and the business will at that, to act out the plan in their heads because they will somehow be inconvenienced by this plan. Pity. We need more self-sacrificing people around here. I guess what I can do now is use power wisely and sparingly. I guess I should start by using the laptop instead of this desktop. My appeal on the "system loss" charges stay, though.. :)

We Should Be More Thankful

I understand that we are in a crisis right now. Inflation rate is high (power, food, services), bidding for rice purchase has been canceled by PGMA because there aren't any takers, revamp is ongoing at her Cabinet, the peso is not gaining any strength against the dollar for days now and so on and so forth. Problems abound. Wherever I look, whatever I read, whatever I hear all shout of the same issues. And I must admit that I actually felt as if we're the most problematic and hopeless country right now. Not until I heard of the Myanmar (Burma) tragedy. A cyclone has left 22,000 people dead and thousands more remain missing.. Hopefully they're not dead, but we know better. When people get lost amidst a cyclone, chances are they are dead or die looking for shelter and food. A million more people were displaced and lost houses. Aid is coming in from the UN and many other countries including the US which has previously economically banned Myanmar. Reports say that the people weren't properly warned about an incoming cyclone and this is probably the reason for such high death toll. Just the same, I pray that Myanmar recovers from this the soonest they can, although the way their government is run, it doesn't seem likely they will recover anytime soon. This is a time for pondering. I believe that we should be thankful that God has been taking care of us for the longest time. We have endured many economic problems of this kind in the past and I know that we can survive this. We are a strong people. We must not forget that. We should be thankful.

Iron Man, Finally.

"Iron Man" has been out since April 30 and I've been itching to see it long before it was shown. Although the idea that Robert Downey Jr. plays the lead role doesn't excite me that much, I knew that he is a good actor. Talent is not an issue, he did extremely well in the few movies I saw which included him in the lead stars. My dear son, though not a fan of "Iron Man" went to see the movie as well because I forced him. He was actually more excited in watching "Speed Racer" but the movie is yet to be shown May 8 at WalterMart Calamba. Anyway, going back to "Iron Man", I had a great time watching the movie. Special effects, cinematography, script, everything's great. Gwyneth, playing the role of Tony Stark's (Robert Downey Jr.) personal assistant Pepper Potts was very convincing as the "almost in love" and well-meaning assistant who takes care of everything for Tony including occasionally "taking out the trash" -- referring to laundering the clothes of Tony's women (he's a huge womanizer..) and escorting them outside the house that rests on the summit of a hill somewhere in Malibu. Being the whiz kid and now the tech and weapons design and manufacturing genius that he is, you can of course expect that his house is fully-equipped with everything "hi-tech". He even has robots who aide him in his project development and testing. The story effectively unfolds the change of character and "heart" of Tony Stark line by line and scene by scene. Unlike other super heroes, Iron Man is more "human" in the sense that he has clear flaws and shortcomings. He is arrogant and bossy, a wanton womanizer, and well, a happy-go-lucky guy who indulges in probably all the vices there are (I'm assuming, of course). The fight scenes maybe not as many as in other action movies but the ultimate fight between Iron Man and his nemesis (a business partner) is comparable with that fight scene in the "Transformers" movie. Iron Man's suit is awesome. Complete with probably all that a super hero would ever need in a day's work, his suit is a bright and glowing red and gold. My favorite line was perhaps the one where he said to his assistant Pepper "I'm not crazy, Pepper. It's just that, now, I finally realized what I had to do. And I know in my heart that it's the right thing." And I have to give credit where it's due. Robert Downey really nailed it this time. It was a very simple line, no profundity of any sort, but appeared deep and meaningful when he said it that I even want to forget all that issues that he got himself involved with prior to this movie. A good actor has the capability to make a simple line stand out and shine. And now that I've seen Iron Man played by him, I couldn't think of any other actor that would do justice to the role (well, except for Christian Bale, I guess.. my favorite actor since "Equilibrium"). You know what, as much as I'd like to tell you everything about the movie, I'd rather not. And that's because it's too good a movie for any of you to miss. And if only for that reason, I want you to watch it yourself and see exactly what I'm talking about. Watch it guys, it's gonna be worth every cent. A movie this good doesn't come by that often. And for my review rating, I give it 5 exceedingly shiny stars. :)