felix felicis

felix felicis: June 2012

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

88 Books Shaped America; How About the Philippines?

So I was browsing my Facebook feed and here’s what I found: 88 Books That Shaped America! Cool. The article, released by the Huffington Post was based on a list made by the Library of Congress last Friday.

The books, according to Librarian of Congress James Billington as interviewed by the Associated Press, aren’ meant to “best” in the field. Rather, they were considered as the more influential literary pieces. The list was created to ignite conversation among the public, allowing them to debate whether such books have really influenced them in a way or not.

Most of the books included touched on themes that explore America’s path towards achieving democracy and freedom, their racial struggles, and several social commentaries induced on fiction. The list includes literary classics like Little Women, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Moby Dick. There’s also Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird and Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. And then Noli Me Tangere’s English counterpart, Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Beecher- Stowe’s also made it to the list. The journals and compilation of social critiques written by American statesmen like Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison were also on the extensive list. If you want to view the whole list and do your own checklist there (as if we’re Americans, hahaha), click this link: 88 Books That Shaped America.

As much as I was fascinated and intrigued by the books that made it to the American list, I was also wondering what books would make it if the Philippines also had one. What could be those books that shaped our country? Hmmm. Of course Jose Rizal’s Noli and Fili would top the list. I’m thinking the works of Lualhati Bautista, Ricky Lee and other contemporary writers would also make it. And then older writers like Rogelio Sicat, Nick Joaquin and Alejandro Roces would also have their works there. Popular authors like Eros Atalia and Bob Ong could also be there, who knows. Well, I’m just gonna ask my friends for their opinion on this and then post it later on. Hehehe. Or you could drop in your suggestions on the comments section below. :D

Meanwhile, if you’ve got nothing to do right now, I’ve got here some ebooks free to download. Just click this link: Free Ebook Downloads

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Spending A Day in Paradise

Again, another super delayed post but I’ll put it up anyway. Hehehe.

My parents would always tell me that recreation and work has to be balanced. Life would be too wild if one’s playing and partying too much, while it would be too dull and boring if all we do is work, work, work. The old adage rings true: “all work and no play make Jack a dull boy.” Motivated by the need to relax after a week full of grueling work—assisting our principals during their board meeting plus taking notes of all the tasks that would be done post-meeting plus running errands for your Moses-like boss plus slightly dealing with bad vibes and numerous complaints—basking in all the glory of the sun and playing by the beach would be one welcome treat. Especially pag nasa Puerto Princesa ka na. So there, after ng meeting, the next day, we really tried our best to join the Underground River Tour. But before we’re able to clinch that much needed recreation, there are a few stumbles along the way.

The Scrooge Challenge
With Mayor Ed Hagedorn. Starstrukkk. Lol. JDL's lurking somewhere. 
After the fellowship night and after squeezing through the audience just to have a picture with Mayor Ed Hagedorn, we decided that we MUST join the tour. Kaso, the Scrooge have already told us that we MIGHT NOT be able to join. So syempre, sad face ang lahat. Setting our minds that we won’t be able to see the newest wonder of the world despite us being there in Palawan na, we just enjoyed the audio-visual presentation played on the wide screen. It showed how the archaeologists and expert spelunkers from Europe entered the secrets of Puerto Princesa’s famous Underground River. Awesome. Pero nakakainis pa din kase party pooper talaga si Scrooge. We decided that since there’s a slim chance of us joining the tour, we’ll just enjoy the nearby sights within the city and shop for pasalubongs. T_T

O but then sabe nga sa The Alchemist, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it (Coelho, 1993).” Ate Anna really pushed for us to go so Scrooge has nothing to do but tell us that we have to wake up early since the departure for Sabang Port is at 6.00AM. Yiheee! Happy happy joy joy everyone. So set na, it’s an all-girls weekend getaway—me, Ate Anna, Ate Fina and Ate Joy.

Getting to Sabang Port
The colorful boats in Sabang.
Fast forward to the next day. I woke up to the sound of my alarm and to Ate Anna’s missed call. Time check: 4.45AM. After preps and morning rituals, I grabbed my phone and a few bucks and I’m all set. An hour after, tour guides assigned us to different vans and we’re off to Sabang Port. Scrooge told us that the tourism officers told him that it would take four hours before one gets to Sabang Port since it would be a rough road. Ok then, I took some time to take a power nap so I’ll be energized when we get to our destination. Dahil grupo-grupo yung sumama, the red van’s left alone to us girls plus Sir Jon Gales and Kuya Adrian the shy tour guide. So much for being a tour guide. Or maybe because my companions are just too madaldal. O but well. Hahaha. 

After two hours, we’ve reached Sabang Port. Yeah, right Scrooge, four hours. Anyway, when we got there, I was just arrested by the beauty of the place. It’s not your ordinary beach port—the water’s crystal clear and the sand’s just soooo fine. Perfect for picture taking. Good thing I charged my phone. I opened Instagram and clicked for nice pictures worthy of posting sa social networking sites. Hahaha.

Team Orange. :D
The Sabang Port serves as the jump-in point going to the Puerto Princesa Underground River. It would take a 15 to 20-minute banca ride before getting to the said natural wonder so if you’re kinda seasick take some Bonamine or whatever. Each roundtrip banca ride costs 700 PhP to 900 PhP (i.e. minimum of 6 persons to a maximum of 9). Be sure to wear clothes that are ready to be wet as the ride to and from the beach may have strong waves. Plus, you’ll have to walk a bit on the shallow side of the beach so preferably shirts and shorts and flip flops or sandals would be good enough. If you don’t know how to swim, lagoooot. Hehehehe. Joke, life vests are provided so nothing much to worry about.

Side story: Ate Anna asked if she could take off her life vest so she can have nicer shots while the banca’s in transit. Kuya Adrian the tour guide said it’s tourism policy to ensure that guests have life vests so no-no-no way. Mind you, Ate Anna doesn’t know how to swim. How braaaaave. Hahaha.

Finally, after breathtaking views during the ride, we reached a secluded shore. Yun na pala yung daan pa-PPUR. Ayiiii, egg-cited. Super.

Hunger Games Mode
Run, Katniss, Run. Char.
Can I just say that Puerto Princesa Tourism People are just so great? Everything’s just so organized and the people are just so nice and accommodating. As soon as touched down and waded on the beach, there’s already a photojer willing to take our photos. He told us, it’s part of their tourism campaign plus syempre income generating mechanism. After a few snapshots, Kuya Adrian led us through the jungle. Hehe. We registered our names and went straight to the wooden bridge that serves as the pathway. Ala-Hunger Games lang. I’m Katniss and I’m running from the jabberjays! Hahaha. Choz. The tall trees and their leafy shades. Then there’s the sun shining its rays through the leaves. Adventure na adventure lang ang peg. Then, we’re there on the cave’s shore. River na nga pala yun.

Trivia: Bilang nakarating na siya ng PPUR last year, Ate Fina was so eager to tell us that the sea and the river meets by the mouth of the cave. It’s called an estuary. Steeeg.

Cave entrance. The estuary's on the left.
Wasn't able to get a picture of it.
Since it’s my first time and naka-ignot mode lang me, I volunteered to be a tribute to sit in front of the boat and hold the light for everyone. And at last I see the liiiiight, and at last the fog is lifted (Tangled, 2010). Charot Pempengco. 

Our boatman was one cool guy. Lahat naman pala sila. Since there are also foreign tourists visiting the cave and the river, these mamang bangkeros are compelled to speak in English. Galing lang nila. And they’re not just plainly telling us what formations to look at and bits of trivia to remember, there’s also Pinoy humor laced throughout their boat speech. Mejo nakalimutan ko na jokes nila Kuya because of too much excitement. Hahaha. But trust me, they’re funny and endearing at the same time. You’d really see that they’re not just doing this because it’s their job but more so because they’re proud that they have such a wonder within their place and because they just love to help in boosting their city’s tourism potential. Who wouldn’t be proud to have one of the world’s newest wonder right beside your nipa hut?

Since my phone camera’s not much techy and all, I just saved all those wonderful rock formations in my mind. :D there’s a part of the cave they call The Bahay Kubo cause there’s half a squash rock formation, then there’s also a corn-like figure and a carrot one. Then in the middle of the cave (i.e. the part of the cave that is allowed for public viewing) is the Cathedral. This is because the cave ceiling’s higher than the other parts. Plus it’s circular in shape. There’s a melting candle figure in the middle and we also saw the Three Kings. There’s also a Nativity Scene there. When we’re on our way back, mamang bangkero also showed us half of Christ’s face. I thought I saw the light all over His face. Joke. That’s just my heavy-duty flashlight. Hahaha. Oh and may I just say that it’s a tough job to hold that giant flashlight. You have to listen to Manong’s speech to know where to put the light next. I don’t bother listening and flashing the light but with the entire echo throughout the cave, mejo nabingi lang naman ako. Or well, not listening lang talaga ako.

Ang maunlad na jumpshot. :D Happy happy joy joy
Then we see the light at the end of the tunnel again. Enlightenment Period na. We took more pictures while walking through the wooden bridge ulit. No monkey showed up. Sayang. Then we claimed our pictures from the printing area and paid around 600 bucks. Ganda. Galing ni Kuya kumuha. :D

More snapshots then a few jumpshots and we’re off again to our boat. As we’re leaving that secluded place, I can’t help but look back and just relish the beauty of God’s creation laid before my eyes. Galing lang talaga ni Lord. Most creative. Hehehe.

Tamilok Nilunok Bow
Lunch was served at Sabang Beach. Nomzzz.

Then Ate the server gave us a bowl of tamilok. Tamilok is a locale fare often served here in Palawan. It’s mistaken for a worm because it’s called shipworm in English but really, according to instant encyclopedia Wikipedia:
“it’s a group of unusual saltwater clams with long, soft, naked bodies; they are marine bivalve mollusks in the family Teredinidae. They are notorious for boring into (and commonly eventually destroying) wood that is immersed in sea water, including such structures as wooden piers, docks and ships; they drill passages by means of a pair of very small shells borne at one end, with which they rasp their way through. Sometimes called "termites of the sea", they also are known by the common name "Teredo worms" or simply "teredo".”

Tamilok. Yameee. Char.
Ok so there, they’re not worms. Kaya pala they taste like oysters. Ate the server told us that the tamiloks they gave us were freshly picked from the mangroves by the shore. Soaked in vinegar kinilaw-style, tamilok’s good to go. Mouth watering. Hahahaha. 

Ate Anna and I took on the eating challenge. Ate Fina refused. Weeeeaaak. Chos. She doesn’t like daw so there. First up was Ate Anna.

Then me. As said, it tastes like oysters. Just like any other exotic food siguro, it’s not easy to eat. Lumalaban si Tamilok. It’s long and colorless and slimy. Okra or alugbati colorless version. I thought I was gonna vomit the whole thing but thankfully, I managed to swallow it. Konting nguya and I survived the challenge! Yay. Di na ako umulit. Hahahaha.

Home Sweet Home
After that hearty lunch and stomach-churning challenge, Kuya Adrian told us it’s time to go back to the hotel. Onga pala, we have a flight to catch. Haha. It took us an hour and a half to get to our hotel. We dashed to our rooms to get our bags, stuffed it to the hotel van for airport transfer and we’re off again. Ate Fina was left because her flight was scheduled the next day. We could’ve haggled to stay also but because the Scrooge did some not-so-good schemes, we just settled on going home that day.

Bye Paradise. Hello, Real World na ulet. World Domination by smiling and doing the Oblation. Lol.
Even if it’s just a day, I thought it’s still worthwhile. I was able to see one of the world’s natural wonder plus I got to eat something exotic. I felt so adventurous that day. I resolve to go back there with family or friends. This time, I’ll take every opportunity to enjoy everything Palawan has to offer. It’s indeed a paradise and it’s something every Filipino should really be proud of.

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Exploring Arrietty’s Secret World (Movie Review)

We were once again introduced to another make-believe world with Studio Ghibli’s recent offering—The Secret World of Arrietty (Kari-gurashi no Arrietty). While there are no stink spirits, ghouls and walking radishes in Arrietty’s world, we still see traces of magic and enchantment as we meet these four-inch people and join them in their “borrowing” adventure.

Largely based on Mary Norton’s 1952 novel “The Borrowers”, TSWA is a heartwarming tale of a girl named Arrietty and her family’s struggle to make ends meet and to survive the harsh world full of “human beans” by “borrowing” things that they wouldn’t normally miss. Throughout Arrietty’s existence, they have lived under the floorboard of an ancestral house somewhere in the suburbs, evading the possibility of being discovered and eventually evicted from their little nook they’ve called home.

Sho finally sees Arrietty.
In her first borrowing trip, Arrietty and her father would have to get a single sugar cube and a ply of tissue paper which they could use for one whole month. Everything went as usual, her father teaching her the tricks of the trade—from operating the simple pulleys within the wooden walls to climbing the cabinets and tables by sticking double-sided adhesive tapes on their shoes and gloves. But in the middle of their borrowing expedition, a young boy named Sho sees them. Sho tells Arrietty not to be afraid but her father thinks otherwise—it’s time to move out.

Determined not to leave their precious little home, Arrietty finds the courage to go on her own expeditions and pursue her friendship with Sho—that sickly boy who gets captivated by Arrietty’s existence. But her father would not allow—“Many borrowers have already died thinking the same.” With several run-ins from the fierce housekeeper, Haru, Arrietty exhibits a different kind of courage, something that makes her a heroine on her own right.

Haru captures Arrietty's mother.
The film was not directed by modern-day animation guru, Hayao Miyazaki but because he handpicked Hiromasa Yonebayashi to steer the movie into fruition, his influence and guidance is still glimpsed throughout this masterpiece. As soon as the first frames showing the garden enter the screen—those carefully water colored flowers, flowing grasses, pattering raindrops and those ferocious little insects that does not hinder Arrietty from exploring the big human world—one could not help but be enchanted and entranced.

What adds to the beauty of this little film is its quiet story. Compared to other Miyazaki- Studio Ghibli films, the adventures here are lesser and there isn’t much suspense-bring-you-to-the-seat’s-edge factor. Well, that’s one welcome thing to me because I get to relax and enjoy the sheer simplicity of the movie. Sweeeeeet. :D The music infused throughout the scenes is also nice to hear. It’s not too loud and not too boring too. Right in the middle of pleasant music friendly to our ears.

The ending was not as rosy as the movies’ frames. It allows us some room for imagination and tiebacks. It’s sad. And while it doesn’t strike a full happy note in the end, one would love the nostalgia it leaves behind. As soon as the credits started rolling, Arrietty’s song plays one last time. I can’t help but wonder, are there really small people living among us? Or maybe, I’m one of the small people and I just have to find that courage to face this big human world.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Other People Enchanted by Arrietty’s World:

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