Monday, May 26, 2008

capoeira camara

When I, in a moment of what on hindsight must have been insanity, decided to become a doctor, a lot of stuff in my life got shelved. One of these was capoeira, which, for those who haven't heard of it, is a Brazilian martial art which sets its movements to music. As a dance, it's a bit like breakdancing (which I can't do to save my life. See the picture on the left -- it's a common dance move in hiphop and breakdancing, but it's also actually a capoeira move called au batido). Capoeira is also a game, in the sense that, during training, we do a roda (pronounced as hoda; Portuguese pronunciation is beyond me). During the roda, we all form a circle and, two by two, capoeiristas come forward and engage each other in a fight. The unique thing about a capoeira fight is that you don't actually hit each other. One makes a move and the other reacts in such a way as if he had actually been hit, then retaliates. It's a bit difficult to explain. ;-) What I love most about capoeira is the music. The usual instruments are a berimbau (the thing they're holding that looks like a stick), an atabaque (a percussion instrument), and a pandeiro (a tambourine). For samples of capoeira rhythms, you can check out More than a martial art or a sport or a cardio workout (warm-ups were often exhausting!), though, what was great about capoeira is that, after a while, it becomes a way of life.
When I was still doing capoeira, we were trained by Archi and Aris Mahvashi, two Danish teens who had been capoeiristas practically their whole life. They also had this cute little brother named Artin, with whom all the female capoeiristas fell in love. Logistical troubles eventually plagued our group, though; what remains is a bunch of dedicated capoeiristas who train by themselves on weekend afternoons at the Abellana Sports Complex. There's another capoeira group in Cebu being trained by a guy who went to Brazil and studied capoeira for a year, but his training sessions are reportedly quite expensive. So the old capoeiristas practice in Abellana, and those who approach them for training get free instruction and great camaraderie.
These recent developments, I learned when I met Pra-Pra this afternoon at Jollibee Banilad while I was leafing through (more like getting stuck in a page of) my borrowed BRS Physio. I realized how much I miss capoeira. If any of you guys are interested, there are a bunch of capoeira websites that you can browse. Better yet, you can go to Abellana on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday afternoon (when it's not raining, mind you!) and just approach any of those guys throwing kicks in the air. They'll most probably be in white, and some might be wearing cordao (the capoeira belt), and they'll be sure to welcome you into the Cebu capoeira family. Hey, we might even see each other there one of these days.
Till then, axe!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Come back for your clearance at 3:30 PM, I was told by the Medical Director's secretary, as Dr. Reyes would be coming in at around that time. With still more than an hour to go, I took a pedicab to the Dumaguete pier, bought myself a ticket for the 12MN boat, then whipped out a camera and took these shots of the Dumaguete that I've come to know this past year.

The Boulevard:

The Silliman campus:

The library, which I never actually entered, hehe. I shot this scene for the strikingly red post.

Luce Auditorium: MSO, Fiddler, the UP Guitar Ensemble, and Pinnoooo-chiooooo ;-)

Abby Jacobs Hall.


the last few days

Here are a few shots from my last few days in Dumaguete.

The night they left: (from left) Jeanette, me, Benjo, Jo Anne, Brian, Lurjie, Arlyn and Ria.

Brian, Benjo and Jo Anne (and Sherwin, who's nowhere to be found) leave Abby.

Sisig, barbecue, puso and Mountain Dew at the Plaza during the Kabulakan festival -- already our second in Dumaguete, thanks to mountains of paperwork. ;-)

Our last night out at the Boulevard.

Lurjie and Arlyn provide the "background" for this supposedly solo shot.

Fighting over Kent -- ?!?! Haha, won't that be something to watch, if all Kent's girls came together and knocked each other out. Even if somebody charged admission, I think I'd be willing to dig into my pockets just to witness that spectacle. ;-)

Like kids in a zoo.

During my last day, Ria and I had to go to SUMC for clearance-signing in our shorts, as we really had nothing to wear. Most girls (they say), when they say they have nothing to wear, really mean they have nothing new to wear. But this time we really had nothing to wear, except for these. That's me in the upper half of a scrub suit and shorts. But the bottom line -- our clearances got signed! Woohoo!

Thursday, May 22, 2008


It started Saturday night, when Tonette left for the first time. After an impromptu farewell dinner of Sr. Pedro liempo and lechon manok, Tonette finished packing up and just lay in her bed, listening to music and writing. I stretched out in Ria's bed and, as I stared at the wooden bottom of the upper deck that is Jouie's bed, I realized it would be the last time I'd share a room with Tonette. No longer would I end up watching the DVD marathons she'd start and fall asleep in the middle of. No more getting up to turn the player off. No more waking up to the sound of her alarm tone and, after a few minutes, waking her up myself. I got up and left the room before I started crying. Later, as we watched the taillights of Brian's car, taking her and her impossibly heavy boxes to the pier, I couldn't help feeling sad. One down. And still so many partings to come.

(I said "for the first time" because Tonette came back; the boat she was to take to Cebu had had an engine malfunction and refused to take passengers on board. So there was a "second time," which we went through with less-heavy hearts. Proof, if any was required, that farewells are only temporary, especially when guba-on means of transport are involved.)

Not crying became an even harder task when it was the turn of Brian, Benjo, Jo Anne and Sherwin to go. With Jo Anne gone, there would be no one left to join in when I sang Disney songs in the shower. And she had a way of making us laugh, thus compensating for all the chlorofluorocarbons she contributed to world pollution via her sumpay-sa-kinabuhi hairspray. Sherwin, my duty partner for 5 months before he abandoned me during the last month of our Surgery rotation, also had a way of making us laugh till our sides hurt. He holds the distinction of being the only one who foiled Ver's "Idol gyud tika bai" line with his own "Mao ba bai? Nganong idol man ko nimo bai?" and is still, in my opinion, the most outstanding intern in our group despite the fact that I haven't quite forgiven him for the aforementioned abandonment. (Bitaw... I just missed my favorite duty combination of Sherwin a.k.a. Boy Abunda, Jo Anne, Chofi, Dr. Christian, Dr. Bunot and Dr. Cuyacot a.k.a. Chase, is all.)

Benjo is almost my cousin (his auntie married my uncle) and I will miss his sinigang. Well, actually, he only cooked sinigang for us once, but it was very lami. More than that, I'll miss the times he went up to Room 10 and ate our food, his refreshingly blunt truthfulness (which he is remarkably able to put on hold, even when drunk, for the sake of loyalty to friends), and the little ways by which he took care of all of us. Spineless (boneless, I should say) when dancing, he has a spine and a half when it comes to making decisions, and I look up to him for that.

And as for Brian... What can I say about a person who is the most likely to read this blog? If Benjo was my cousin, Brian was my "Kuya Bri" who took care of everything for everyone (the Calinawagan in him popping up despite his decision to become a doctor; I'm sure his dad is as proud of him as he would have been if Brian had followed his footsteps in Finance). He was also "Papa Bri" (hahaha, sorry na lang, ako man gasuwat ani) who, along with "Mama Tonette" (ahehehe), would bring me dinner for when we watched American Idol together. Brian also was just this good friend who was always there to give you a hand, a reprimand or a funny face, whichever you needed most at the moment.

I'll be seeing them again for sure. But seeing someone, as I have had occasion to remark before, is different from seeing him or her everyday. It's not like losing an arm or a leg, but it sure comes close.

Farewells have never been this heartbreaking.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

a journey captured

The infamous khao san road, by night or by day, makes you feel that there's something going on. Tourists on a budget come here for good bargains, cheap guesthouses, better currency exchange rates, anything-goes pubs, and plates of pad thai or sticky rice.

Busy, bustling Chinatown is the place to go for trinkets and flashy gold. And for authentic Chinese restaurants, of course.

The Golden Buddha and his monks look on as we indulge in souvenir photos.

Air-conditioning at last! Provided by the one and only MBK, recommended by the Lonely Planet for the diversity of its food court. A meal and a drink can be had for only 50 baht.

Back to Khao San to meet up with Ruby.

A walk across Pinklao Bridge over the Chao Phraya river, breathtaking at night, leads us to foot-baring Bombay Blues for Indian food.

What's a visit to Bangkok without stopping by the indescribable Chatuchak Weekend Market? Few pictures here, just loads of shopping bags.

Shop-all-you-can precipitates eat-all-you-can[-cook]. Lost and bewildered at first, we slowly learned to pick, cook and partake...a bargain for only 99 baht per person.

We confess! We actually went back to Chatuchak for another round of walking and bargaining. Girls will be girls, and Bangkok encourages addiction to shopping.

A 30-minute 600-baht elephant ride takes us through a "jungle" where our own Dumbo stops every once in a while for a bite of leaves and, yes, for a photo op as well.

Ria takes a boat ride through the iconic Floating Market...

...while I walk around, taking pictures of myself against the colorful waterway.

Damonoen Saduak floating market, teeming with life and color, and a photographers delight, is simply a way of life for the multitude of Thais living by the many klongs and canals branching off the Chao Phraya.

The intricate Thai handicraft is for our eyes only, as a carving such as this costs thousands of dollars, and rightfully so.

At the Rose Garden, visitors get a chance to have a photo taken with a playful elephant. A mannequin display shows various Thai fashion, and shops let you indulge in your own fashion preferences. A cultural show exhibits Thai ceremonies, dances, music and even a few abbreviated rounds of Muay Thai.

A dose of culture takes up our last day in Bangkok. The murals and structures of Wat Phra Kaew are breathtaking.

These stone figures seem to be enjoying themselves too over our fun shots.

Ruby and Ria roll a stone in the creature's mouth three times in hopes of a wish fulfilled; Ria and me in front of the Grand Palace, used nowadays only for special ceremonies; Ria and me chatting up with Wat Phra Kaew's golden chedi in the background; a monk turns his head as Ria strikes a pose; Ruby and me, also with the Grand Palace in the background; Ria and me, gossiping royally.

My fascination with monks is indulged in Thailand. I saw more of them this time around and realized that they can be quite ordinary as well. Here, monks shop for bags, wait for a River Express boat (with the famous Temple of the Dawn in the background), and...oh, wait, sorry, the monk in the third picture is behind my big smiling head.

Thailand: a temple, a river and a monk: in gray, in sepia, and in color on the verge of a sudden thunderstorm, its flag waving proudly in the furious wind. Images to last a lifetime.

Nothing tells a story of a journey like moments captured in film. Okay, so film wasn't actually used here, but you know what I mean. Hope you enjoyed these pictures just as much as I enjoyed the journey. More tales of adventures and misadventures to come, but for now, these photos will tell their own story. Good night, and God bless you all.

Monday, May 12, 2008

the bangkok chronicles - day 3

Or, more appropriately, a series of unfortunate events, day 3:
1. I still can't use my Thai SIM to call or text.
2. I managed to melt the bristles of Ruby's treasured Denman brush with her hair dryer.
3. The MBK travel-and-tours lady got the date of our tour wrong and we had to go argue with her about it.
4. The driver of the cab we took from MBK refused to use his meter and quoted a price of 150 baht after he had let us in and driven us a few meters away from the taxi stand queue. If I'd known Thai swear words I would have used it on him. Probably. Grrr! Oh, well... Wa'y sukod ang gaba!

But life is still good because:
1. I have the world's best mother. Happy mothers' day ma! Luv u!
2. I have the world's best family and friends. Luv u all! Miss u guys!
3. I am not a cab driver who has to resort to unscrupulous means to make a living. (Hehe, can't let it go, sorry.)
4. I'm going to Damnoen Saduak (the floating market) and the Rose Garden tomorrow. Gonna see some elephants, woohoo!!
5. God's in charge.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

the Bangkok chronicles - day 2

Skip the jazz band, sleep instead, and get an early start the next day. That was the plan.

Eleven A.M. and we were still sleeping in. But what are vacations for, except for sleeping late not because of work, and waking up when you feel like waking up?

Eleven-thirty. Having finally overcome inertia, we had lunch at the Thai equivalent of a carenderia just across Ruby's apartment and then headed for the bus station where we caught Number 509. While on the bus, I accidentally dropped my water bottle (the orange one, courtesy of Azyth) and it broke, flooding the front third of the bus floor. A nice move, if it were the Songkran festival, which it wasn't. I've gotten used to being a klutz, though, and I've somehow learned to cope with all the embarrassment I unwittingly generate. Still, it was a relief when we got off at the Victory Monument and thereafter took the Skytrain to Mo Chit station, which was right beside our destination (perhaps the real reason we came to Bangkok): Chatuchak Park and Weekend Market.

Thousands of stalls, perhaps tens of thousands of shoppers and shopowners, and millions of products ready to change hands the moment a price is agreed upon. One could spend an entire day at Chatuchak (or Jatujak, or simply J-J) and not see half of everything. Needless to say, Ria and I went crazy. I managed to buy 4 bags in as many minutes, and that includes the haggling. A natural haggler I am not; in my family, my sister Lani is the best at getting storeowners to lower their prices. This time, however, I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to get decent discounts. It's probably just a game to a lot of the shopkeepers, though. I once bargained for an item originally priced at 400. "Three hundred," I said. The lady smiled encouragingly and said, "No, no, I give you for 350." I thought about it and said, "How about 320?" "No... Okay, okay, 340," the lady said and winked. Feeling like I was reading from a script, I said, "Uh...330?" She beamed like she was proud of me, agreed, and hurried to get a plastic bag. Ritual completed; would the next gullible soul please come forward?

After spending more than I would care to admit, I got into a cab with Ruby and Ria and promptly fell asleep.

Dinner was another adventure altogether. Leaving an exhausted Ruby home, Ria and I walked to the banks of the Chao Phraya, where a restaurant promised an Eat-All-You-Can for only 99 baht. I hurried excitedly to the buffet table and found myself staring at raw marinated meat. Apparently, we had to Cook-All-We-Can before we could eat it. Caught off guard, I tentatively put strips of pork and chicken on a plate and went back to our table. The waitress instructed, using sign language, that I was to put the meat in the steel grilling plate that was surrounded by steaming hot water for broiling our vegetables and cooking our noodles and whatever else we planned to do that involved water. The whole contraption was placed above a kalan stuffed with glowing charcoal. Slowly, I got the hang of things and repeatedly went back to the buffet table for a little more of this and that. The variety of the food we could potentially cook was amazing: there was marinated pork and chicken, there were filleted slices of fish, there was rolls and balls of fish and squid and quite possibly octopus, there were around 5 types of greens (all of which I ignored), there were 3 types of noodles (one colored green), and there were broths of curry and tomato and, gosh, who knows what those other stuff were. The possibilities, as they say, were endless; definitely a must-do for anyone visiting Bangkok.

Good night!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

the Bangkok chronicles - day 1

If you ever find yourself wandering in Bangkok's Khao San Road looking for a place to rest your weary head, do think twice, make that thrice and even whatever is the -ice word for 4x, before checking in at the Marco Polo Hostel. That is, if you're not used to roughing it. They take the word "bare" to a whole new level. The walls are made of wooden planks, in a wood cabin sort of way, with inscriptions as noble as "Free Tibet" and as shocking as "Gav and Cath had s** in this room 71 do you feel about this room now?" (I'm not sure about the names, but I'm pretty sure how I feel about the room now.) The mattress was lumpy, the bed was too short, and there were no (as in jamo) cabinets or shelves or even attempts at shelves in which to put our bags. There was an a/c but no blankets, so after a few hours of freezing, Ria got up and turned the a/c off. So much for that perk. Things that I'm thankful for: there was warm water, there were at least no cockroaches (can't say the same for bed bugs), and we were situated right above a pub, so the walls vibrated with music the whole night, giving us a taste of the Khao San experience right from the comfort (if you can call it that) of our room. And the nice lady at the Front Desk let us leave our bags while we gallivanted around Bangkok the next day. For 350 baht a night, well, that wasn't so bad.

May 9 found Ria and me walking from Khao San to Phra Athit, the nearest pier, where we took a River Express boat to Chinatown for only 15 baht per person. We cruised down the Chao Phraya and disembarked at Tha Ratchawong, where we then slowly made our way through Chinatown. We entered a shop selling earrings and bangles and discovered, in its interior, a whole maze of shops that sold everything from glittering gold jewelry to slimming supplements. After buying a few pasalubong, we emerged from the maze hungry, and we headed to a restaurant in Yaowarat Road. We both decided on rice with roasted duck and barbecued pork, which cost us 70 baht, including soft drinks. A bit too expensive, actually.

Refreshed, we followed Yaowarat Road and sought Wat Traimit, the temple that housed the Golden Buddha. As we took our seats inside the temple, a monk in saffron robes waved at us to kneel before him with the other Buddhists and receive his blessings. With a sheepish smile and a small shake of the head, we managed to decline politely and instead took photos of ourselves with him at the background. After managing to leave an impression of being tourists who only cared about souvenir photos ("pang-Friendster," as it is now called) instead of trying to attain Enlightenment and going on the Eight-Fold Path (or was it actually 8? Sorry, History was a long way back...), we took a cab to MBK.

Mah Boon Krong is like the SM of Bangkok. Its 6th floor contains Thai handicrafts and souvenir items, and we got to practice our haggling skills. What almost made me cry with longing were framed photographs of Thai life, black and white except for a few details that stood out beautifully. There was a black-and-white photo of monks, with only their robes colored. There was another of the floating market, with the fruits standing out in colors of the rainbow. And so much more: if I had a coffee shop, I swore, I would hang pictures such as those in its walls.

We arranged a Monday tour with the MBK travel-and-tours agency, then we took another cab to Khao San. We claimed our bags (thank you, nice lady, for keeping them safe), and shopped a bit in the many stalls along Khao San Road before finally meeting up with Ruby at Burger King. We took the barge to the other side of Chao Phraya, walked quite a bit to Ruby's apartment, freshened up, and walked across Pin Klao Bridge back to the Khao San area.

At Bombay Blues, a nice Indian restaurant where you take off your shoes at the doorway, we had a sumptious dinner of mushroom masala, fish curry and chicken ginger. Our table came equipped with a tower of wooden blocks (I forgot its name), where the object of the game was to remove the wooden blocks underneath, one by one, without causing the tower to fall over. There was also an apparatus for smoking a shisha pipe after dinner if one wanted to. (As none of us could stand smoke, we didn't.) Sleepy and full (the colloquial term being "the baboy syndrome," we decided to forego the planned listening to a jazz band and instead fell sound asleep at Ruby's apartment.

Thus ended Day 1.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

last hurrahs

As night falls on my Dumaguete adventure, our PGI batch take a breather in scenic Siaton. Antulang, nested in cliffs overhanging a clear blue sea, provides the backdrop for this, our last hurrah. But perhaps this really isn't the end, but merely the beginning.

A beautiful beach, a laugh with friends and
a hibiscus behind one's ear...
not such a bad way to end post-graduate internship.

Antulang has an infinity pool as well as a beach.

The cliffs of Antulang are also perfect for thinking and staring out into the sea.

Chofi and me by the pool before night swimming

Seeking closure from a bonfire

All aboard for our cruise to Tambobo Bay.

Me and Benjo hanging out at the Annabelle Lee before our cruise began.

Isn't this fun?

Uh...can't quite remember what I threatened the photgrapher with a punch for...

Contemplating...nothing. Just enjoying tanga-tanga.

Bianca and me, with Tambobo bay's sailboats in the background

Me and Lurjie posing by the Antulang signpost. And our roads lead where? Who knows...

Thanks for the memories guys. It's been one heck of a year.