Pedring, Ondoy, — Are we ever ready for them?

On September 27, 2011 Typhoon Pedring hit land. It did not hit Metro Manila directly, yet, the rains that pour on the metropolis cause flooding in various places. The situation is worse in Central and Northern Luzon. All of a sudden we remember the floods brought by Typhoon Ondoy which wrecked havoc on Metro Manila, two years and one day ago.

The government was more prepared in 2011 compared to two years ago.  Emergency workers evacuated river areas that are notorious for flooding.  Authorities enforced forced evacuations to prevent casualties. And some residents acted more quickly this time to evacuate homes as waters rose. The weather bureau has forewarned the nation about the forthcoming scenario. Their regular updates have guided disaster management officials and the general public.

But still, some government offices that have not stepped up to the plate. The suspension of classes at the college levels came at a time when most students have already gone to their colleges and universities. Likewise, the announcement that government employees not involved in emergency work do not have to report to their offices also came late in the morning Result:  thousands of students and employees got stranded. The joke around town was that people were already swimming in the floods when they heard that classes and work were already suspended(see image).

There is also the question of why those in-charge of the dams have to wait for the water levels to reach almost spilling levels before they start releasing the waters. After all, the amount of rainfall hitting the various areas in the country has been measured and forecasted by Pagasa with a comfortable margin of accuracy.

In fairness, we have improved a lot in the disaster management side of the issue.  But on the prevention side, much work needs to be done.   Following are my reasons for making this conclusion:

  1. I am not sure if there is comprehensive plan to abate if not solve the flooding problem. And if ever there is one, I am not sure when it will be started. I have read a lot of press releases from several national government agencies and local governments on what they plan to do. But even the simple act of reforesting the Marikina watershed has not been started.
  1. There is no improvement in our garbage disposal system.   Tons of garbage fill up the whole stretch of the shorelines of Manila Bay along Roxas Boulevard after every typhoon – trash that are from the esteros and canals upstream. Obviously, residents are still throwing their garbage directly into our waterways, and the government appears helpless in enforcing whatever law that prohibits throwing of garbage to the waterways.
  1. We have not relocated the squatters occupying waterways and floodways. Illegal residents continue to squat on easements and clog waterways with trash.  Even middle to high income residents do not respect the easement laws.  Just look at upscale and mid mid-scale subdivisions where residents appropriate public easements, either fencing them off or worse still, covering them over with permanent structures that clog waterways with concrete.
  1. We have not de-clogged our drainage and dredged our creeks and waterways. In fairness, there were so many projects aimed at de-clogging of canals and esteros immediately after Typhoon Ondoy. Two years after, however, these efforts have slowed down. A casual inspection all around the metropolis will show that many of our canals are still clogged with trash.
  1. We hardly maintain the dikes and sea walls separating bodies of waters from land. The breaching of dikes in Pampanga and Bulacan as well as the destruction of the sea wall along Roxas Boulevard attests to our failure to maintain these types of structures.

Given all the above, it is a foregone conclusion that floods will still be prevalent. Heavy rains will result in submerged streets and the best we can do is prepared for the floods. Following are simple reminders that will help anyone reduce the losses brought about by floods:

  1. Have an emergency plan and an emergency kit.  Talk about an evacuation plan, what to do, where to meet, what things to have, and the contents of a grab and go bag in the event that calamities would happen. Make sure all members of the family, including household help are aware of this plan.
  1. Make sure you have an Act of God insurance coverage for your house and your car.  This will protect your house, its contents, as well as provide coverage for lost rental income if you are renting your properties. The same goes for your car.
  1. Secure your important files and documents?  Back-up your computer files and store it online.  Scan important documents like land titles, passports, transcripts, diplomas, pictures, certificates, and pictures so that electronic copies can be stored safely in different secure locations or you can even store them online. Rent a safety deposit box in a bank located in a flood free area or invest in a fireproof and waterproof safe at home. Waterproof containers or plastic bags could also help  protect documents against floods.

And one last suggestion. Pray for our safety.





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VIVA Señor San Miguel!

The St Michael the Archangel image at the main entrance of the Catholic Church of Padada, Davao del Sur*

September 28-29 is  the parochial fiesta of my hometown – Padada, Davao del Sur. Our patron saint is St Michael the Archangel. I remember with fondness the image of our patron on the front wall atop the main door of our church. It is a symbol of the triumph of good over evil.  It is a concrete sculpture of St Michael stepping on the body of Lucifer and burying his spear into the devil’s heart. Below the sculpture is the phrase “KINSAY SAMA SA DIYOS.”





Exterior of St Michael's Church of Padada, Davao del Sur*

I often tell my friends that only those who can clearly describe how the image look like can rightfully claim he is from Padada. Moreover, I also have kababayans who maintain that only those who can explain the meaning and the context of the words “KINSAY SAMA SA DIYOS” can rightfully say that he understands the Story of Creation.

The church of St Michael in Padada was built 59 years ago in the spirit of bayanihan. The original chapel  was located  beside the national highway, more than a kilometer away from the present location of the church.  My grandfather told me that led by a Fr. Paul Gravel, a PME priest,  they first repaired the old chapel, after which they literally carried it on their shoulders to its present site. Of course, there were hundreds of them who enthusiastically did it.


Interior of the St Michael's Church*

Town folks, rich and poor alike, pooled their resources to build the church. They contributed money, materials, and labor in order to build the present church. That they contributed the best construction materials can be better appreciated if one examines closely the type of wood used in the construction of the church. Before it was unfortunately painted over in the 80s, the upper walls, pillars, and ceilings glistened in the natural sheen of the hardwood used.

Every year, the  parochial fiesta is a much awaited event in our small town. The fiesta proper is preceded by a nine-day novena. Every night during these nine days, there are cultural and/or sports events held either in the church grounds or in the municipal auditorium. After the fiesta mass, the catholic school students hold ground demonstrations wherein they showcase their terpsicorean and musical abilities. Parents and visitors watch these activities which usually end before noontime. During lunchtime and well into the evening, visitors are treated to sumptous feasts in various houses in the town.

Fiesta is an excuse for us to go home to our hometown to renew ties with old friends and to visit parents and relatives. If one fails to do so, the tradition is to light a candle in any church and say a prayer for St. Michael. The better option of course, is to gather some kababayans and their families and celebrate the fiesta in the part of the world where they are staying.

Let me close this post by sharing with you the Prayer to St Michael:

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in the day of battle; be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast unto hell, satan and all the other evil spirits, who prowl through the world, seeking the ruin of souls, Amen.

Mary, Queen of the Angels, pray for us.
All your seven Archangels of God, pray for us. 



VIVA Señor San Miguel!

*pictures in this post are from


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Lugang Cafe At Greenhills

The venue was Lugang Café –a three-story restaurant on Connecticut Avenue in Greenhills serving Taiwanese and Cantonese cuisine.

The ambiance is perfect. The interiors are posh and opulent in a modern oriental design. The owners have taken every effort to make sure the overall look, feel and appearance of the restaurant would justify the price range of the food, which is a little bit on the high side.

Level of service is excellent and consistent throughout the whole visit – from the time we arrived and looked for parking space, to when we waited to be seated up to the time we were served our food.

We arrived at the place a few minutes past 6pm. It was early enough to be able to get a slot at the resto’s parking lot across the street assisted by very able parking attendants.  However, we were already number 3 in the waiting list and had to wait for almost thirty minutes before we got seated.

Considering that the place was full of customers all the way to the third floor, the staff were trying their best to be on top of the situation.We got seated in the dining area on the third floor. We pre-selected our orders while waiting for our seats, but they did not start cooking the food until we were seated.

And probably in their desire to provide quick service, at one instance even the janitor served a plate of food when the waiters were busy getting the other viand from the kitchen in the lower floors.

And now for the food.

Putting Lugang Café’s Oyster Omelette to Test

Oyster Omelette with Sweet Spicy Sauce

Somebody from Chinatown told one of my sons that a good barometer of how well a chef cooks Chinese food is via the taste of his oyster omelette in sweet spicy sauce.  We always thought the better test was via pork or fish in sweet and sour sauce.  But since we all agree that we may be biased for our own kitchen’s version of sweet and sour sauce, we decided to check the correlation between the oyster omelet on one hand and the other Chinese food that we will order that evening on the other hand.  So that was the first dish we ordered and tasted for the night.

The verdict: 8 on a scale of 1 to 10 for the dish. After the dinner, we agreed that this rating has a strong correlation  with the way overall rating we gave to the dinner — majority of the food were very good but one or two may stand some improvement.

 Xiao Long Bao and Steamed Vegetable and Pork Dumplings

Xiao Long Bao
Steamed Vegetable and Pork Dumpling







These are soup-filled dimsums which have become popular offerings in the past year by new Chinese restaurants. Lugang Cafe has one of the better versions.

The pork  xiao long bao is good.   The skin was thin but the soup is contained.  As you bite into it the juice oozes  and you enjoy the taste of the  filling that’s you should into the  soy vinegar with ginger slices.

The steamed vegetable and pork dumplings is delicate and delectable.  We had to  make a slurping sound as we put the dumplings into our mouth or else we may have burned our tongues with its broth.


Stir-Fried Beef with Chilli Peppers

Stir Fried Beef with Chili Peppers

Served on a hot pot, a fair amount of dried chilies accompany the dish.  It has the heat spunk but is totally tolerable unless you eat the actual chili or chili seeds. The very thin slices of beef  has splinters of fat on the side. These absorbed the flavor of the sauce, resulting in a tender and flavorful bite.



Kung Pao Prawns (650)

Kung Pao Prawns

The kung pao prawns was cooked in sweet and spicy sauce with rings of red pepper and lots of cashew nuts. It tasted sweet, spicy and tart.  It was good enough but not great. This may have been due to a high expectation we had of Chinese restaurants as regards to the way they cook prawns and crabs. Moreover, we thought that for the size of the serving , it is a bit overpriced.


String Beans with Salted Egg (220)

String Beans with Salted Egg

This is the dish that impressed us the most. The vegetable was cooked just right and has retained its crunchiness. The addition of salted egg brought out just the right amount fo  saltiness to the dish. While eating we made some effort at trying to identify what other ingredients may have been included in the  dish — with the intent of cooking one in our kitchen.



Dong Bo Pork with Gua Bao

The Dong Bo Pork is  best eaten tucked in-between a sliced Gua Bao.The pork is very fatty, with a soft-stewed skin still on the cube. The meat breaks apart easily and is tender. The fatty layers between the meat is soft and juicy.

Dong Bo Pork
Gua Bao








Bellagio Breeze

Bellagio Breeze

This dessert was the big come on of the evening.  It is a  a tower of shaved ice, with all sorts of beans, tubers, sago mixed. We had a great time  sharing and enjoying the dessert.







There are still a lot of items in the menu that are worth trying. I am sure that we will go back to Lugang Cafe some other time to try its other dishes and desserts.


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Tongue Twister from Jose Yparaguirre

Got this from my college classmate – Jose Yparaguirre. I am posting this because most of the time having “nosebleed” moments refer to situation when we have a difficult time with a foreign language.  Check out how well you can translate the paragraphs below:

“Ang kinabuhi nato sama sa usa ka basurahan. Sulod niini ang mga nagtapun-og ug gilangaw natong mga kagahapon. Adunay mga gum-os nga gugma, lata ug gi-ulod nga mga pagmahay, mga silopin sa kasilag ug mga botelya sa kasaypanan. Kun kini dili nimo ilaba, mamahimo kining BARA sa imong mga PANGANDOY.

Mao, balik-lantaw sa nangagi aron matugkad ang kinauyukan ug lintunganay niining tanan sa kasamtangang panahon aron ugma damlag makab-ot ang gihanduraw ning atong tanlag.

Higala, kinsay nag-ingon nga english lang ang maka -nosebleed”?

Good day!

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Walingwaling: from Bud to Full Bloom

Vanda sanderiana – that is what the folks at the Philippine Orchid Society and a lot of hobbyists call this orchid. But to people from Davao, Cotabato and Zamboanga, where this orchid is, we call it waling-waling. Before scientists propagated it in nurseries under laboratory conditions, waling-waling only grows as an epiphyte attached to dipterocarp forest trees.

Waling-waling produces beautiful flowers worthy of its description as the “Queen of Philippine Orchids”.  The species bloom in the Philippines from July to October, usually after experiencing close to a month of continuous downpour brought about by the monsoon.

Having a waling-waling in our garden and watching it grew from a small seedling to a full-grown plant is one my those things I  always wanted to do. I cannot afford the hobby when I was young. And I did not have time to do it when I was engaged in full-time corporate work. So when, I took the early retirement plunge, I finally had the chance to do it!

I bought the young plant (less than 4 inches tall) in 2005. I attached it to a driftwood and watched it grew to full size until it had its first spike four years later. So, for more than two weeks sometime in July to August 2009, I was watching the orchid develop from spike to bud to full bloom to the time its last petals fall. And I took snapshots of the waling-waling orchid from bud to full bloom.

Below was the first of the series of pictures I took. The flower bud had been there for more than a week. The spike started to come out around two weeks earlier. On 27 July 2009,  I took my first snapshot using a Canon Powershot S3 1S.

July 27


Over the next few days the buds started to open. Notice in the pictures below how the shape of the buds changes, starting from the lowermost portion up to the topmost until they are all extended and ready to open (pictures July 28 to July 31).

July 28
July 29


July 30
July 31


They were on their way to bloom by August 1  with the lowermost buds opening up first and working their way into the uppermost buds.

August 1


August 2


I was on out-of-town trip in the next three days, so I failed to take photos. When I came back, the buds were already fully opened. I spent the next week enjoying the grandeur of the waling-waling flowers until its fullest bloom.  i took snapshots until the petals started to wilt, but i am not posting those pictures here.

August 6
August 7


August 9


August 10
August 11


August 12

Being an amateur photographer, I did not get the best photo composition deserving of the waling-waling.  But I am happy with the thought that I had the patience to go back to the same spot almost every day for 3 weeks to observe and to take snapshots of the Queen of Orchids as it bloomed.

Should you want to see the series of pictures again watch the slideshow below. Just click the photo for the slide to move to the next one.













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