From Nuffnang

Friday, January 31, 2014

Chinese New Year Celebrations: Dragon Dance

Chinese New Year celebrations often include the performance of the dragon dance because dragons are believed to bring good luck to people. The dance is performed by a group of skilled people who manipulate poles positioned at regular intervals along the length of a long flexible figure of a dragon. The dragon figure comprises a series of hoops that is covered with fabric. The ornamental head and tail pieces are then attached at the ends.

The dragon represents the river spirit, so the dance is conducted in a flow-like manner. A successful dance can be achieved depending on the correctness and accuracy of the different parts of the dragon figure. The motion of the head of the figure should be  be able to conform with the the body in synch with the beats of the drum. Sounds produced by the clashing of a pair of cymbals also accompany the dance.

dragon dance, Chinese New Year

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Horse Decorations for the Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is an important traditional holiday that is also celebrated in the Philippines because of the presence of significant Chinese population in this country. Based on the  12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac, the new year which will begin on January 31, 2014 and end on February 18, 2015. It will correspond to the "Horse" that bears the elemental sign of "Wood."

It has been mentioned that the Philippines has a significant Chinese population. As a result, customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese New Year have also been adopted by many Filipinos.

One such custom is decorating homes with lucky charms that is related to the animal sign of the new year. Shown are some horse-themed lucky charms that can be seen in Filipino homes during the celebrations.

Chinese Zodiac, Chinese New Year, decorations

It can be noticed that all three decorations have horse figures in conformance with the animal symbol of the year. The tassels are red as the color, in Chinese culture, corresponds with fire and denotes good fortune and happiness. It can be presumed that the golden color is for wealth.

The decoration at left features Budai, who is regarded as a representation of contentment. The one at the middle has a pineapple and coins, both of which denote wealth. The horse at right is accompanied by lanterns, which to some Chinese, symbolize new beginnings.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Recalling "The Great Raid" in Cabanatuan

The 2005 film The Great Raid is based on the liberation of more than 500 prisoners-of-war by a force comprising over 126 Filipino resistance fighters and American Rangers at a camp held by the Japanese Imperial Army in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija. 

Cabanatuan, The Great Raid
Promotional material for The Great Raid, which opened in Philippine theaters on August 10, 2005

Preparatory action for the daring rescue started on January 27, 1944 when Lt. Gen. Walter Krueger, the US Sixth Army commander, tasked Lt. Col. Henry A. Mucci and his 6th Ranger Battalion (also known as the Alamo Scouts) to undertake the mission.

A pair of Alamo Scout teams, each under 1st Lt. William Nellist and Thomas Roundsville, infiltrated behind Japanese lines to survey Cabanatuan. Lt. Col. Mucci and a 107-strong Ranger company led by Capt. Robert Prince sneaked through enemy lines in Guimba.

On January 28, Lt. Col. Mucci met with USAFFE guerilla Capt. Juan Pajota, who had knowledge of the camp's terrain. The raid was postponed for another day based on the information gained from Capt. Pajota.  The job of determining how to get the Rangers in and out of the camp with minimal casualties was assigned to Prince.

On January 30, 1945 the raid was successfully conducted. Prince's strategy involved sending two groups of guerillas, one under Capt. Pajota and the other under Capt. Eduardo Joson, in opposite directions to hold the main road that passed by the camp. The Rangers were then divided into those who would go to the front gate and those who would come through the rear.

Following are the list of the actors and the parts they played in the 2005 film. It can be noted that there are some differences between the real-life event and the film.

Cesar Montano as Capt. Juan Pajota
Richard Joson as Capt. Eduardo Joson
Benjamin Bratt as Lt. Col. Henry A. Mucci
James Franco as Capt. Prince

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Fernando Poe, Jr. as Epifanio Velasco

An action movie that was based on the life of National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Epimaco Velasco opened in theaters on November 30, 1994. Fernando Poe Jr. plays the title role in  Epimaco Velasco, NBI: True Story. This Viva and FLT Films presentation was directed by Edgardo "Boy" Vinarao.

Fernando Poe Jr., FPJ, Epimaco Velasco

A spoof movie was later released on May 4, 1995. Comedians Leo Martinez and Dennis Padilla play the lead roles in Epifanio, ang Bilas Ko: NB-EYE. The supporting cast includes Jean Garcia and Jackie Aquino. This Viva and Merdeka Films presentation was directed by Edgardo "Boy" Vinarao.

Leo Martinez, Dennis Padilla, Epifanio

Monday, January 27, 2014

Pellet Guns

The "pellet gun" is a type of toy gun that propels spherical plastic projectiles by means of a built-in spring mechanism. It looks very much alike the real thing, so caution must be exercised in usage. In the picture shown below, the imitation shotgun costs 150 pesos while the fake UZI costs 90 pesos.

pellet guns, pellet guns

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Last Ten Days of January in Philippine History and Culture

Jan. 22, 1952: Ace Vergel (d. December 15, 2007), popularly known as "The Original Bad Boy of Philippine Movies," is born in Manila. Vergel started young in show business: At the age of seven, he portrayed the human friend of the titular giant bird in the 1959 film Anak ng Bulkan.

Vergel started as an action star in the late 1970s. He continued starring in lead roles in the genre until the mid-2000s. Some of Vergel's notable action movies include Batang City Jail, Kanto Boy, Hari ng Tondo, Pieta, Bomba Arienda, Seth Corteza and Masamang Ugat. 

Jan. 22, 1957: Rene Requiestas (d. July 24, 1993) is born in Manila's Tondo district. Requiestas started playing bit roles in the late 1970s. A stint in the 1980s satire TV program Sic O' Clock News led to the rediscovery of Requiestas' knack for comedy, resulting in him being cast as sidekick in movies.

Requiestas eventually became top comedian, topbilling movies such as Pido Dida, Cheetae! Ganda Lalake and Hulihin: Probinsyanong Mandurukot. 

Jan. 22, 1987: Philippine security forces open fire on a crowd of at least 10,000 demonstrators at Mendiola Street near Malacañan Palace in Manila, killing 13. The incident later became known as the Mendiola Massacre. The demonstrators were demanding fulfillment of the campaign promises that had been made during the campaign of President Corazon Aquino. 

Jan. 23, 1899: The Malolos Constitution is inaugurated at the Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan. The event marks the inauguration of the first republic in Asia. Emilio Aguinaldo is also sworn in as President of the First Philippine Republic. 

Jan. 24, 2011: Journalist, environmentalist and community organizer Gerardo Valeriano "Doc Gerry" Ortega (born August 28, 1963) is assassinated apparently due to his advocacy against mining on the island of Palawan. Ortega was also known for promoting crocodile farming in the Philippines. 

Jan. 25, 1933: Corazon "Cory" Aquino (d. August 1, 2009), the 11th President and first woman president of the Philippines, is born in the town of Paniqui in the province of Tarlac. Aquino was regarded as the most prominent figure of the 1986 People Power Revolution, which ousted the two-decade regime of Ferdinand Marcos.

Aside from being named as Time magazine's "Woman of the Year" in 1986, Aquino was also the first Philippine president without any prior political experience as she had not held any other elective position. 

Jan. 26, 1930: National Artist for Sculpture Napoleon Isabelo Veloso Abueva is in Tagbilaran, Bohol. He is a sculptor given the distinction as the Philippines' National Artist for Sculpture.

Among other works, Abueva's best known sculpture commemorates the international treaty of friendship between Spaniards and Filipinos in the 16th century. Popularly known as the Sandugo (Blood Compact), the sculpture is now one of his home province's tourist attractions. 

Jan. 27, 1961: Film and television actress Geraldine Schaer Bonnevie, better known as Dina Bonnevie, is born in Quezon City. Bonnevie first appeared in teen dramas Underage, Temptation Island, and Katorse. She continues to portray dramatic roles in television. 

Jan. 27, 1961: Television host, comedian and recording artist Willie Revillame is born in Manila. Revillame hosted the ABS-CBN variety game show Wowowee from 2005 to 2010. When he left ABS-CBN in favor of rival TV5, Revillame also hosted programs with the same format. Those programs were Willing Willie, Wil Time Bigtime and Wowowillie.

Jan. 27, 1989:  Dancer-turned-actor Bayani Casimiro Sr. (b. July 16, 1918)  dies in Manila. Casimiro was among the leading stars of bodabil (vaudeville) in the 1930s and 1940s. Due to his excellent skills in tap dancing, Casimiro was earned the moniker "Fred Astaire of the Philippines." 

Jan. 27, 2004: Salvador Roman Hidalgo Laurel (b. November 18, 1928), the 10th Vice-President of the Philippines, dies in  Atherton, California. Laurel also briefly served as the Prime Minister of the Philippines from February 25, 1986 to March 25, 1986.

Jan. 28, 1861: Julian Felipe (d. October 2, 1944), the composer of Lupang Hinirang, the Philippine national anthem, is born in Cavite. Felipe's composition was originally titled Marcha Nacional Magdalo. It was was played during the raising of the Philippine flag following President Aguinaldo's declaration of Philippine independence in 1898.

Jan. 28, 1904: Stage performer and Canuto Francia (d. September 4, 1979), better known as Canuplin, is born in Manila's Tondo district. Francia's screen named is a portmanteau of his given name, Canuto, and the comedian Charlie Chaplin's surname. Francia became known for impersonating the said comedian in Filipino movies and in bodabil (vaudeville) performances.

Jan. 29, 1979: Actor-turned-entrepreneur Marvin Agustin is born in Manila. In 1995, Agustin started his show business career at ABS-CBN, where he stayed for ten years. He spent another six years at GMA Network until transferring to TV5. Agustin has also ventured into concert production, bringing popular foreign acts to the country.

Jan. 30, 1911: Taal Volcano in Batangas erupts at about 2:30 in the morning. Official records show that the eruption claimed 1,335 lives and injured 199. Some sources report at least 1,500 casualties. 

Jan. 30, 1945: A force comprising 126 Filipino resistance fighters and American Rangers raids a camp held by the Japanese Imperial Army in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija. Over 500 prisoners-of-war are later liberated. The daring rescue is the subject of the 2005 film The Great Raid. 

Jan. 31, 1876: Pedro Abad Santos (d. January 15, 1945), founder of the Partido Sosyalista ng Pilipinas (Philippine Socialist Party), is  born in San Fernando, Pampanga.

Friday, January 24, 2014

"Palengke" (Public Market)

Palengke is a Tagalog term for a type of public market common throughout the Philippines. It comprises numerous stalls arranged in rows and columns under a shared roof. Most of the time, the stalls are categorized based on the type of product sold. Categories include meat, seafood, produce and dry goods.

palengke, public markets, Binmaley
Public Market in Binmaley, Pangasinan

Many regard the palengke as the cost-efficient alternative to supermarkets, where prices are fixed. Tawaran (haggling) with vendors is a common practice. Eateries that offer affordable food, also known as carinderia are commonly located at palengke spaces.

palengke, public markets, Malolos, Lina's Refreshment
Lina's Refreshment at the Public Market in Malolos, Bulacan

On the other hand, the palengke is much dirtier compared with a typical supermarket. A greater amount of chaos also exists because of the crowds.

palengke, public markets, Malolos
An Alley at the Public Market in Malolos, Bulacan

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Fish Called "Galunggong" (Round Scad)

Galunggong (round scad or mackerel scad) is a fish that is popular among the Filipinos. Colloquially known as GG, this fish is usually fried, smoked or cooked in vinegar. Galunggong is dubbed as the "poor man's fish." Its price is used to determine whether the economy was better or worse off. During the administration of President Corazon Aquino, the fish was used as an indicator of economic performance.

The fish is scientifically known as Decapterus macarellus. It has an elongated body that appears circular when viewed head on. A small, detached fin is situated between the dorsal and caudal fins, the color of which ranging from black to blue-green.

galunggong, scad

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Two Ace Vergel Movies

Action star Ace Vergel (January 22, 1952 - December 15, 2007) was known as "The Original Bad Boy of Philippine Movies." Vergel was part of a well-known family in show business: He was the son of Alicia Vergel and Cesar Ramirez, while his sister Beverly is an actress-turned-acting-coach.

Vergel began his acting career at the age of seven. He portrayed the role of the human friend of the titular giant bird in the 1959 film Anak ng Bulkan. Following a decade-long hiatus, Vergel ventured into the action genre. He won the URIAN Best Actor award for the 1989 film Anak ng Cabron. In commemoration of the sixty-second anniversary of his birth, shown are newspaper advertisements of two of his movies shown in 1996: Seth Corteza and Huling Sagupaan.


Seth Corteza, a Regal Films presentation, opened in theaters on February 1, 1996. It has the tagline "Tingga ... Bakal ... Pusong Bato" (Bullet ... Steel ... Heart of Stone). This action movie was helmed by Efren C. Piñon. Other cast members include Joanne Quintas, Carlos Padilla, Jorge Estregan, Bernard Bonnin, Luis Gonzalez and Amado Cortez.

Huling Sagupaan, another Regal Films presentation, opened in theaters on August 8, 1996. It has the tagline "The Ultimate Action Triangle." Vergel led the cast along with Aiko Melendez and Monsour Del Rosario. This action movie was co-directed by Philip Ko and Teddy Gomez.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Original Chichay

The younger generation of television viewers know Chichay as the character played by Kathryn Bernardo in the primetime series Got 2 Believe. Many generations of older viewers, however, watched the comedic performances of the original Chichay on stage, movies and TV.

The original Chichay, whose real name is Amparo Robles Custodio, was born on January 21, 1918. According to the CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art, Custodio started her career in show business as a singer and a chorus line dancer. "Chichay," the stage name for which Custodio became popular, was given by the actress Atang de la Rama. It is a corruption of the Japanese word, chiisai, which means "short."

Chichay, Amparo Custodio, Bondying
Chichay as Lola Tisya in Bondying: The Little Big Boy (1989)

Aside from having a short and stocky stature, Chichay had a characteristic scratchy voice and prematurely aged appearance that made her perfect for portraying grandmothers. Her almost-four-decade-long movie career started with the 1949 Sampaguita Pictures production, Huwag Ka Nang Magtampo.

Chichay also appeared in the 1962 Hollywood film No Man Is an Island. She played the title role in the 1985 film Mga Kwento ni Lola Basyang. Other films in which Chichay appeared in include Gorio at Tekla (1953), Pitong Atsay (1962),  Karnabal (1973) and Bondying: The Little Big Boy (1989). She was also lead star of Ginang Milyonarya, a TV series during the 1970s.

Chichay passed away on March 31, 1993 at the age of 75.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Ginebra Sampaguita

Ginebra Sampaguita is an old brand of gin that was manufactured by Destileria La Corona Inc. in Caloocan City. Its label features a lady wearing a red Filipina dress and a crown. The lady carries a  shield that is marked "D.C.I.," the distillery's initials. These framed Ginebra Sampaguita labels are among the vintage items that can be found at the Adarna Food and Culture Restaurant in Quezon City.

Ginebra Sampaguita, Adarna Food and Culture Restaurant, advertisements

Sunday, January 19, 2014

All-Time Favorite Food Combo: "Itlog na Maalat at Kamatis" (Salted Duck Eggs and Tomatoes)

When it comes to food combinations, itlog na maalat (salted duck eggs) at kamatis (tomatoes), more often than is always mentioned in every Filipino food lover's Top Ten list.  The all-time favorite combo can be eaten with boiled rice any time of the day. The rich and salty taste of the egg white and the mushy-yet-somewhat-fatty yolk merges with the acidity and mildness of chopped tomatoes. Patis (fish sauce) may be added to smorgasbord to enhance the savoriness.

There is also aesthetic value when eating itlog na maalat at kamatis. The white, the yellow and the red (or greenish-red if the tomatoes are almost ripe) provide a gastronomic color palette that is visually appealing.

 food, salted duck eggs, salted eggs, itlog na maalat, kamatis, tomatoes

It can be noticed that the two eggs at the right are dyed magenta. Before being sold at the market, itlog na maalat is dyed as such in order to distinguish it from ordinary duck egg. To prepare  the food combo, the egg is shelled and chopped, or halved and scooped out with a spoon. Chopped kamatis and patis are then added to taste.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Goodbye, Studio 23; Hello, ABS-CBN Sports+Action!

UHF television network Studio 23 made its final broadcast to give way to the birth of ABS-CBN Sports+Action, a new free channel that makes its initial broadcast today, January 18. The new channel will showcase local and international sporting events, along with programs geared toward viewers who like action. As viewers bid farewell to Studio 23 and welcome ABS-CBN Sports+Action, let us recall some milestones in the former's 17-year history.

Studio 23 was officially launched by ABS-CBN on October 12, 1996. Dubbed as the "Premium Network," Studio 23's programming was deemed upscale at the start. The network gradually targeted the youth and young adult markets through the airing of English-language shows such as Smallville, Charmed and Dawson's Creek.

Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer - October 12, 1996

Acting as ABS-CBN's extension, Studio 23 eventually produced original programs such as the talk show Y Speak and the news programs News Central and IbaBalita. Tagalog movies, Tagalog-dubbed anime and Asian drama series, were also broadcast on Studio 23.

During its 17-year existence, Studio 23 underwent numerous slogan changes. From "Premium Network," the slogan became 'This is My Channel." Other slogans were "Cool TV," "Watch U Want!," "Kabarkada Mo,"and "Get It Here!" At the time of its dissolution, the slogan was "IbaKabarkada!"

Source: Studio 23 website

The transition to ABS-CBN Sports+Action is not that surprising considering that Studio 23 has a long tradition of covering sporting events. Studio 23's first major sports coverage was the Metropolitan Basketball Association or Metroball games from 1998 to early 2000s. When ABS-CBN acquired the broadcast rights to the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) games, Studio 23 covered the basketball matches. Studio 23 also covered the Philippine Azkals football team.  

Source: Facebook page of ABS-CBN Sports+Action

In accordance with the slogan "Play Hard," ABS-CBN Sports+Action will continue the coverage of the UAAP games and the Azkals. Top Rank and Pinoy Pride bouts will still be seen by boxing fans on the new sports channel. Major international sports tournaments such at the National Basketball Association games, the Ultimate Fighting Championship and FIFA World Cup will also be covered.

During ABS-CBN Sports+Action's January 16 trade launch, non-sports programs such as News+, The Ultimate Fighter: China, Zero Hours, and Fernando Poe Jr.'s memorable films were also announced as parts of the new channel's lineup.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Universal Motion Dancers in the Movies

The Universal Motion Dancers (UMD) was an all-male group whose fame peaked during the '90s. In its heyday, UMD was so popular that they had lots of stage shows and television appearances. Of course, movies were also produced to capitalized on their popularity.

Their mother company, Universal Records, produced Sige ... Ihataw Mo! Dancin' with the Motion.
The movie's opening date - April 14, 1994 - may have been chosen to take advantage of the summer school vacation so many students who idolize the UMD would have the opportunity to go to cinemas. An original movie soundtrack was also released, and it was on tape (What?!) format.

The supporting cast is led by Claudine Barretto, who is one of the most sought-after young actresses at that time. Under the direction of Chito S. Roño, other cast members are Tirso Cruz III, Gina Alajar, Eric Quizon, Jimmy Santos and German Moreno.

Sige Ihataw Mo Dancin with the Motion, movies, Universal Motion Dancers, UMD

Following is a video of a television guesting by the Universal Motion Dancers to promote
Sige ... Ihataw Mo! Dancin' with the Motion:

Ibigay Mo Nang Todong-Todo, the group's follow-up movie, was released on August 23, 1995. Regal Films and Universal Records collaborated in this production. The action movie was written and directed by Baldo Marro. Other cast members include Pia Serrano, Nova Villa, Ray Ventura, Bob Soler, Ogie Diaz, Daniel Figueroa, Charlie Mendoza and Kier Legaspi.

Ibigay Mo Nang Todong-Todo,  movies, Universal Motion Dancers, UMD

Thursday, January 16, 2014

This Week in Philippine History and Culture (January 15 to 21)

Jan. 15, 1954: Palanca Award- and National Book Award-winning writer Jose Y. Dalisay Jr. is born in the island province of Romblon. Dalisay's body of work covers a wide array of genres including fiction, poetry, drama, nonfiction and film scriptwriting.

Jan. 16, 1979: Film and television actor Mark Anthony Fernandez is born in Manila. Fernandez's popularity increased when he was part of Gwapings, a teen trio that saw fame during the '90s. He belongs to a family of renowned entertainment personalities: He is the son of the late actor Rudy Fernandez and the late director Gregorio Fernandez. 

Jan. 17, 1981: President Ferdinand Marcos lifts martial law eight years and five months after declaring it. The purported threat of communist insurgency, terrorism, and the ambush of then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile were among the justifications for the declaration of martial law. 

Jan. 19, 1607: The San Agustin Church in Manila's historic walled city of Intramuros is officially completed on this date.  It was designated as a National Historical Landmark by the Philippine government in 1976. Seventeen years later, the UNESCO named the San Agustin Church as a World Heritage Site. 

Jan. 20, 1984: Actress and television host Celestine Cruz Gonzaga better known as Toni Gonzaga, is born in the town of Taytay in Rizal province. Gonzaga became popular when she appeared in a TV commercial with Piolo Pascual in 2001. Aside from being a part of the musical variety show ASAP, Gonzaga is also a recording artist. 

Jan. 20, 2001: President Joseph Estrada is ousted in a nonviolent four-day revolution, which was dubbed EDSA Dos. Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo succeeded Estrada. Teofisto Guingona was appointed as Macapagal-Arroyo's vice president.

Jan. 21, 1883: Eulogio "Amang" Adona Rodríguez Sr. (d. December 9, 1964), the seventh and tenth President of the Senate of the Philippines, is born in the town of Montalban (now called Rodriguez) in Rizal province. Rodriguez served as Senate President from April 30, 1952 to April 17, 1953 and May 20, 1953 to April 5, 1963.

Jan. 21, 1918: Film and television actress Amparo R. Custodio (d. March 31, 1993), popularly known as Chichay, is born in Manila's Tondo district. With a career spanning almost fifty years, Chichay portrayed grandmother roles in many comedy movies. 

Jan. 21, 1984: The twins Richard and Raymond Gutierrez is born in Beverly Hills, California. Both started their careers in show business as children. They were introduced in the 1987 horror-comedy movie Takbo, Bilis ... Takboooo! (Run, Fast ... Runnnn!).

A few months later, they were launched in the Kambal Tuko (Siamese Twins), a fantasy-comedy movie. Richard grew up to become an actor and commercial model, while Raymond focused on television hosting.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Remembering the Metropolitan Basketball Association

The Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA) or Metroball was a professional basketball league in the Philippines from 1998 to 2002. Backed by the ABS-CBN Sports, MBA was regarded as a foil to the older and more established Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).

Source: YouTube / Axesys08

Each MBA team represents a city, province or island in the country. On the contrary, PBA teams are named after companies or product brands. With the thrust towards regional pride, MBA's popularity among fans skyrocketed quickly. Huge expenses, mainly related to travel and logistics, took its toll. ABS-CBN withdrew funding, leading to the league's eventual dissolution in 2002.

During the inaugural season, MBA's 12 teams were grouped into the Northern and Southern Conferences. The Northern Conference comprises the Pangasinan Presidents, Pampanga Dragons, Manila Metrostars, Pasig Blue Pirates and Laguna Lakers. The Southern Conference comprises Iloilo Volts, Negros Slashers, Cebu Gems, Cagayan De Oro Nuggets, Davao Eagles and SocSarGen Marlins.

The inaugural games were held at the Narciso Ramos Sports & Civic Center on March 7, 1998. Those matches were simulcast on Studio 23 and IBC-13. Peter Martin of the Manila Metrostars made the first shot in the league's history. His team won against the Cebu Gems. In the second game, however, the Max Delantes-led Socsargen Marlins defeated host Pangasinan Presidents (which was later renamed Waves).

Following is a video of the introduction to each MBA game broadcast during the league's first season. It is characterized by a ball that travels across the Philippines, making a stop in the geographical area that each team represents. Towards the end of the introduction, main players from the opposing conferences face each other and vie for the ball.

Video Credit: YouTube / Axesys08

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Moon Halo: A Rare Astronomical Phenomenon

Filipinos' fascination with astronomical phenomena went alive last night, January 13, when a moon halo appeared on the night sky. It is not my habit to observe the night sky, but my attention was caught by people who look up. The halo motivated many people to instantly grab their smartphones and digital cameras to take pictures and share the images on social media.

According to superstition, moon rings portend storms but science has a better explanation. Technically known as the 22-degree halo, the phenomenon is caused by the refraction of light through the 60-degree apex angle of the hexagonal ice crystals in cirrus clouds is deflected twice leading to deviation angles ranging from 22 degrees to 50 degrees. The variation in the refraction results in an effect similar to that of the rainbow.

moon halo, moon ring, astronomical phenomenon

Monday, January 13, 2014

Robin Padilla and Daniel Padilla in "Sa Ngalan ng Ama Ina at mga Anak"

More than a month after starring in their respective entries to the recently concluded Metro Manila Film Festival, action star Robin Padilla and his nephew, teen heartthrob Daniel Padilla, will co-star in a new movie, titled Sa Ngalan ng Ama, Ina at mga Anak. This joint venture between Star Cinema and Robin Padilla's RCP Productions is scheduled to open in Philippine cinemas on January 29, 2014.

The film is based on the story of the Kuratong Baleleng, an anti-communist vigilante group that turned into an organized crime syndicate. The group was founded in Mindanao during the '80s. The movie also apparently indicates the industry's renewed interest in the action genre, which started to decline in the early 2000s

It can be recalled that many of Robin Padilla's past movies such as Mistah feature his real-life brothers. Other younger members of the Padilla clan such as Kylie, Bela, Matt, and RJ also play key roles in Sa Ngalan ng Ama Ina at mga Anak. Following is the first trailer for this movie.

Video Credit: YouTube / ABSstarcinema

Sunday, January 12, 2014

"Sotanghon" (Mung Bean Noodle) Soup

When it comes to comfort food, sotanghon soup usually comes into one's mind. This sumptuous soup dish includes sotanghon, or clear noodles made from mung beans, and minced beef or chicken. The orange hue is provided by achuete (annatto) seeds. Chopped leeks, fried garlic and hard-boiled egg can also be added to sotanghon soup before serving.

Beef sotanghon soup is one of the best-selling offerings at Lina's Refreshment in Malolos. It has become my habit to eat this soup dish everytime I visit the eatery. A filling snack or meal can be availed of for only 30 pesos per bowl.

sotanghon, sotanghon soup

Saturday, January 11, 2014

List of Names for Tropical Cyclones within the Philippine Area of Responsibility

PAGASA, the state weather bureau, reported yesterday (January 10) the entry of a low-pressure area (LPA) to the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR). If the LPA strengthens, it will be locally named Agaton, the first tropical cyclone in the Philippines for 2014.

Last year, PAGASA revised the list of names for tropical cyclones within the PAR. There are four sets of names, and each set recurs every four years. If the number of cyclones within a given year exceeds 25, an auxiliary list will be used as well. 

Main List


Auxiliary List


Friday, January 10, 2014

This Week in Philippine History and Culture (January 8 to 14)

Jan. 8, 1945: As part of the Asia-Pacific theater during the Second World War, troops under the Philippine Commonwealth Army units enter the province of Ilocos Sur in Northern Luzon and attack the forces of the Imperial Japanese Army.

Jan. 9, 1945: The United States invades the Philippine island of Luzon, three years after being under the Japanese forces. 

Jan. 12, 1911: The University of the Philippines College of Law is formally established. Its first permanent dean was Associate Justice George Malcolm. Malcolm Hall is the building that currently houses the main offices and classrooms of the college within the U.P. Diliman Campus in Quezon City. 

Jan. 12, 1977:  Film and television actor Piolo Jose Pascual, popularly known as Piolo Pascual, is born in Manila. Pascual is also known for recording award-winning albums such as My Gift, Timeless and Decades. He has also ventured into movie production, most notably in the Kimmy Dora comedy film trilogy. 

Jan. 14, 1899: Carlos P. Romulo (d. December 15, 1985), who became the first Filipino President of the United Nations General Assembly is born in the town of Camiling in Tarlac province. Romulo served as the President of the Fourth Session of U.N. General Assembly from 1949-1950.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Procession During the Feast of the Black Nazarene

Today, January 9, millions of Filipino Catholic devotees are going to participate in Traslacion, or the transfer of the image of the Poong Itim na Nazareno (Black Nazarene) from the Luneta/Rizal Park to Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Manila's Quiapo district.  The Poong Itim na Nazareno is a life-sized, dark wooden sculpture of Jesus Christ carrying the cross.

Miracles are attributed to the presence of the image so many of these devotees will brave the crowd to wipe their towels or handkerchiefs on the image. They believe that doing so will bless their intentions or heal their sicknesses.

Black Nazarene, Nazareno, Nazarene, Quiapo
Source: Wikipedia

The image has notable historical significance. According to the website of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, Augustinian Recollect friars brought the image of the Black Nazarene to the Church of San Juan Bautista in Bagumbayan, (now part of Luneta/Rizal Park) on May 31, 1606. The image was transferred to the bigger Recollect church of San Nicolas de Tolentino in 1608. Basilio Sancho de Santas Junta y Rufina, S.P., the Archbishop of Manila, ordered the transfer of the image to the Church of Quiapo in 1787.

Following is a schedule of the activities for this year's observance of the Feast of the Black Nazarene:

Luneta/Rizal Park and Quirino Grandstand

January 8
7:00 p.m. - Start of the vigil

January 9
12:00 a.m. - Continuation of the vigil
4:00 a.m. - Wrapping up the vigil activities, short catechesis, and closing prayer
6:00 a.m. - Holy Mass to be led by His Eminence Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle, D.D.
7:30 a.m. - Procession of the image of the Black Nazarene from Luneta to Quiapo Church

Quiapo Church

January 9
3:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon - Masses
7:00 a.m. - Band parade
3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. - Masses

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Movie Ads: "Enteng Manok: Tari ng Quiapo" (1993)

Enteng Manok: Tari ng Quiapo, an action movie produced by Magdalena Films, opened in theaters on September 30, 1993. This movie features Eddie Garcia in the title role, under the direction of Francis "Jun" Posadas. It can be deduced that Garcia plays the role of a sabungero (cockfighter) named Enteng. Tari refers to a three- or four-inch blade attached to the leg of the cock.

The Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, popularly known as the Quiapo Church, can be noticed on the advertisement. Every January 9, Filipino Catholic devotees converge to this religious landmark to observe the Feast of the Black Nazarene.

Enteng Manok, Enteng Manok: Tari ng Quiapo

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The First Seven Days of January in Philippine History and Culture (January 1 to 7)

Jan. 1, 1892: Manuel Acuña Roxas (d. April 15, 1948), the fifth President of the Philippines, the last of the Commonwealth of the Philippines and the first of the sovereign Third Philippine Republic is born in the town of Capiz (now Roxas City).

Jan. 2, 1942: As an implication of the outbreak of the Second World War II in Asia-Pacific, Manila in the Philippine Islands is declared "Open City" after being captured by Japanese military forces.

Jan. 2, 2006: Cecilia Muñoz-Palma (b. November 22, 1913), the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court of the Philippines dies at the age 92. Muñoz-Palma was appointed to the highest judicial court by President Ferdinand Marcos on October 29, 1973. She served until reaching the then-mandatory retirement age of 65.

Jan. 3, 1949: The Central Bank of the Philippines, precursor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), is established by virtue of Republic Act No. 265, which was signed by President Elpidio Quirino.

Jan. 6, 1812: Filipina revolutionary Melchora Aquino de Ramos (d. March 2, 1919), popularly known as Tandang Sora (Elder Sora) is born in Balintawak, Caloocan. Tandang Sora was known for giving refuge for the sick and wounded Filipino revolutionaries during the fight for independence from Spain. Her house functioned as a venue for the revolutionaries' secret meetings. 

Jan. 6, 1966: Multi-awarded singer, actress and TV host Sharon Cuneta is born in Pasay City. Cuneta is popularly known as the Megastar of Philippine Entertainment. She currently leads the cast of the TV5 series Madam Chairman.

Jan. 6, 1995:  A chemical fire in an apartment complex in Manila results in the discovery of plans for Oplan Bojinka, a large-scale three phase Islamist attack by Ramzi Yousef and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Oplan Bojinka would involve a plot to assassinate Pope John Paul II, an air bombing of 11 airliners flying from Asia to the United States and a scheme to crash a plane into the Central Intelligance Agency's headquarters in Virginia. 

Jan. 7, 1901: Major General Arthur MacArthur Jr. orders the deportation of Filipino leaders of the Revolution, including Apolinario Mabini, to the island of Guam.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Movie Ads: "Megamol" (1994)

Actress-singer Sharon Cuneta, who turns 48 today, co-starred with rapper Andrew E. in the comedy movie, Megamol, which opened in theaters on August 3, 1994. Megamol is a portmanteau of Megastar and Gamol, the lead stars' respective monikers.

The title of this Viva Films production might have also been an apparent pun for SM Megamall, a shopping center that was newly-built at that time. Same as nowadays, the movie served as an avenue for product placements. Megamol was brought by Selecta Ice Cream and the Jollibee fastfood chain.

Megamol, Sharon Cuneta, Andrew E

Sunday, January 5, 2014

"Goto" (Beef Tripe Congee)

Goto is the Tagalog word for beef tripe. In the context of a carinderia (eatery), ask for goto and you will be served lugaw (rice congee) cooked with strips of beef tripe. Aside from beef fat, goto may also include other protein-rich ingredients such as heart and intestines. Chopped leeks and gingers are also added to goto.

You may also add pepper and patis (fish sauce) until the desired saltiness is reached. Goto is comfort food to me. Every Sunday at Lina's Refreshment in Malolos, it has become my habit to eat the goto that eatery offers. The store owner even claims that goto is their best-seller. For only 30 pesos per bowl, you can have a filling snack or meal.

goto, congee, lugaw, tripe, beef tripe

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Throwback: Sarsi TV Commercial

One of the most notable TV commercials during the late 1980s and early 1990s was that of Sarsi, a sarsaparilla-based soft drink. This soft drink is still manufactured by RFM Corporation's Cosmos Bottling (now owned by Coca-Cola Bottlers' Philippines Inc.)

The commercial is part of a series that showcases pride in being Filipino, highlighting the tag line "Angat sa Iba! (Standing Out in the Crowd!). With a catchy jingle composed by Ryan Cayabyab and visuals deemed ahead of its time, the commercial is regarded as one of the shining moments of Philippine advertising.

Video Credit: YouTube / No3lNobl3

Following are the lyrics to the TV commercial's theme song.

Hindi ka ba natatawa?
O kaya'y nagtataka?
Ganun nga bang talaga
Pare-pareho na lang ba?

Minsan ako'y nagtatanong
Bakit nga ba nagkakaganoon
Umurong man o sumulong
Ang nasa harapan mo'y iyon nang iyon.

Uulan, aaraw
Lulubog, lilitaw
Isipin mo mang maiba,
'Yun pala'y katulad rin nila

Huwag na lang nating piliting tumulad sa ating katabi
Pwede namang maiba paminsan-minsan ay baguhin

Mag-Sarsi ka para maiba
Pagkakataong umangat sa iba
Mag-Sarsi ka para maiba
Dahil may pagpipilian ka

Di ba magandang malaman
ang 'di mo pagsasawaan
Di ba magandang isipin
na di ka pipilitin

Mag-Sarsi ka para maiba
Pagkakataong umangat sa iba
Mag-Sarsi ka para maiiba
Dahil may pagpipilian ka
Sarsi, angat sa iba!

English Translation:

Isn't it funny?
Isn't it strange?
Do you have to be so
Just a face in the crowd?

I ask myself
Why is it so
Anywhere you go
You see the same old thing

Rain or shine
Up or down
No matter what you do
You're still a face in a crowd

You don't have to do what others do.
Once in a while do something new.

Stand out with Sarsi
Stand out in the crowd
Stand out with Sarsi
Because you want something new

It's a great feeling
Always feeling new
It's a great feeling
It's what you want to do

Stand out with Sarsi
Stand out in the crowd
Stand out with Sarsi
Because you want something new
Sarsi! Stand out!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Some Observations on Current Philippine Banknotes

The Central Bank of Philippines was established on January 3, 1949 as the country's central monetary authority.  Forty-four years later, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) took over as the central bank of the Republic of the Philippines in accordance with the provisions of the 1987 Philippine Constitution and the New Central Bank Act of 1993.

The BSP oversees the circulation of the New Generation Banknote Series of the Philippine peso. Here are some observations about the six denominations, namely 20 pesos, 50 pesos, 100 pesos, 200 pesos, 500 pesos and 1,000 pesos:

* Of the nine persons whose portraits appear on these denominations, only three were born during the twentieth century: Diosdado Macapagal (1910), Benigno Aquino Jr. (1932) and Corazon Aquino (1933). Interestingly all of them were born in Region III or Central Luzon.
 * The other six were born during the nineteenth century: Sergio Osmena (1878), Manuel L. Quezon (1879), Jose Abad Santos (1886), Vicente Lim (1888), Manuel A. Roxas (1892) and Josefa Llanes-Escoda (1898).

* There are two persons named "Manuel" on Philippine banknotes. Manuel L. Quezon on the 20-peso bill and Manuel A. Roxas on the 100-peso bill. Moreover, both Quezon and Roxas died in 1944 and 1948, respectively, while serving as President of the Republic.

* Four persons who never became president appear in the banknotes. They are Benigno S. Aquino Jr. on the 500-peso bill. On the other hand, portraits of Vicente Lim, Jose Abad Santos and Josefa Llanes Escoda appear on the 1,000-peso bill.

* There are two persons prominently shown on the obverse side of in the 500-peso bill, while there are three persons in the 1,000-peso bill. There are two zeros in the number "500," whereas there are three zeroes in the number 1,000. Could the number of zeroes represent the number of heads?

* Six animals are represented on the reverse sides of these denominations. The only invertebrate is the pearl oyster (Pinctada maxima) on the 1,000-peso bill. The rest are vertebrates.

*The palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus philippinensis) on the 20-peso bill and the tarsier (Tarsius syrichta) on the 200-peso bill are land mammals. The scientific name of that tarsier, however, should have been Carlito syrichta.

* Along with the pearl oyster, the maliputo fish (Caranx ignobilis) on the 50-peso bill and the whale shark (Rhincodon typus) on the 100-peso bill live in water.

* A stylized Philippine eagle, the national bird, is included in the BSP logo on these banknotes. The blue-naped parrot (Tanygnathus lucionensis) is also present on the 500-peso bill.

*Similar with Mayon Volcano on the 100-peso bill, Taal Lake on the 50-peso bill is volcanic in nature.

* UNESCO World Heritage Sites can be seen on the lowest- and highest-valued banknotes: Banaue Rice Terraces on the 20-peso bill and Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park on the 1,000-peso bill.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

"Tuyo" (Salted Dried Fish)

Tuyo, a mainstay in Philippine food, is a delicacy made from salting and drying fish, typically tunsoy (herring). Dipped in vinegar or eaten with chopped tomatoes, grilled or fried tuyo is a suitable viand to rice. Tuyo can also be paired with champorado (chocolate porridge).

Filipinos' preference for tuyo might have been attributed to the country's coastal nature, so there is an abundance of fish. The salt from the sea has offered an opportunity to preserve the fish, and tuyo is the plausible result. 

Tuyo is popular with Filipinos from all walks of life. Jose Rizal, the national hero, used to eat tuyo for breakfast. (He, however, referred to tuyo as sardinas secas). Even some celebrity chefs formulate new recipes that take advantage of the culinary offerings of tuyo.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Philippine Holidays for 2014

Today, New Year's Day, is the first regular holiday in the Philippines for 2014. This holiday was stipulated by Proclamation No. 655, which was signed by President Benigno S. Aquino III last September.

We are encouraged to look forward to a more productive year than previous ones as many of us return to our respective jobs tomorrow. The proclamation can help us plan vacations ahead. (Of course, we have to work hard and smart first.)

A. Regular Holidays 

Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor) - April 9 (Wednesday)
Maundy Thursday - April 17
Good Friday - April 18
Labor Day - May 1 (Thursday)
Independence Day - June 12 (Thursday)
National Heroes Day - August 25 (Last Monday of August)
Bonifacio Day - November 30 (Sunday)
Christmas Day - December 25 (Thursday)
Rizal Day - December 30 (Tuesday)

B. Special (Non-Working) Holidays

Chinese New Year - January 31 (Friday)
Black Saturday - April 19
Ninoy Aquino Day - August 21 (Thursday)
All Saints Day - November 1 (Saturday)

C. Special (Non-Working) Days
Christmas Eve - December 24 (Wednesday)
Day After Christmas - December 26 (Friday)
Last Day of the Year - December 31 (Wednesday)

D. Special Holiday (For All Schools)

EDSA Revolution Anniversary - February 25 (Tuesday)

The national holidays for the observance of Eid’l Fitr and Eidul Adha will be declared "after the approximate dates of the Islamic holidays have been determined in accordance with the Islamic calendar (Hijra) or the lunar calendar, or upon Islamic astronomical calculations, whichever is possible or convenient". The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos will inform the Office of the President on which days the holidays shall respectively fall.

It can be noted that there will be at least four long weekends:

January 31 to February 2, 2014 because Saturday and Sunday follow the Chinese New Year celebrations

April 17-20, 2014 in observance of Holy Week;

August 23-25, 2014 for the commemoration of National Heroes Day;

December 24-28, 2014 for the Christmas holidays