Friday, December 26, 2008

Family Christmas Reunions

Until the early 2 years of 1990, we were having family, if not a clan, Christmas reunion every year as far as I can remember. We were still ten (10) sibling surviving until the 3rd quarter 2000 when my sister to whom I am next to passed away due to cancer. Except for her, all 9 of us were married and each had at least 2 children. Some of their older children had their own families too! So you could almost imagine how many there were of us in one house from Christmas eve to the following day. Same is true for New Year's eve and the following day!

As early as October or November of every year, plans are made on how Christmas festivities would go. Who would prepare or bring food, pot-luck style. Then, you could imagine the number of gifts
under the Christmas tree. With gifts coming from each family to all the children. With 9 families giving around 27 gifts that would be a total of 243, more or less! Every year one among us would stand as an emcee to announce who gets each gift and from whom it came from. It takes about an hour to give those gifts to them.

By around 1995, when many of the children were grown ups and some of my brothers and sisters have moved abroad, we had smaller reunions until to none when our parents passed away in 2000 and 2001. The bad economy had also caught up with most of us that we could no longer afford festive occasions like that. My brothers and sisters who reside more than 250 kilometers away from our hometown Baguio City, could not longer afford to come and stay for the two holidays.

It was obvious that when my father still had a good memory until the early 1990s, he was the factor for those reunions. He would remember those who were not around. He was a strict disciplinarian and put much value for those once-a-year reunions. It was our mother then who would be coordinating the coming reunions. That's how our parents were until old age and memory gaps caught up with them.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

My vision was OFF!

OK so my vision was wrong on the then and now for the Pacquiao-dela Hoya Dream Match. It was a very easy win for Manny Pacquiao. Oscar dela Hoya didn't even seem to be a threat at all to the "Pacman"! He looked impressive during the weigh-in showing his "pandesal" abs! But that was all looks - no performance at all during the fight. He was just tapping at Manny! They were not even legitimate jabs! He was just annoying the Pacman.

If I remember right, the Golden Boy then wanted to be the promoter of Pacquiao. There was a controversial contract signing that Manny has denied because it was signed by someone in his camp. Eventually, I believe, the contract was not good and did not go in effect. Getting the contract to be null and void would have had some costs involved before and after. Probably more on the the side of Oscar "Golden Boy" dela Hoya. (Anyone reading this see where I am leading to?) So, there must have been some way for both parties to recover lost expenses. My guess is as good as yours! There is some pride involved in it, also before and after. But who cares about the pride? They are in for the money and nothing more! The Golden Boy blamed Roach when he lost to Mayweather, did he recover that pride going against the Pacman? Off course not! He "threw in the towel" even before the fight was to continue! It was a plain fact that he already earned the money, forget about the pride in retaining or regaining the title and who wants to get hurt more for the same money?

The fight of Pacquiao-Diaz was true to the last punch. Diaz fought gallantly although he was being battered by Pacquiao. Manny Pacquiao always did his best in training and the results always showed in his fights. Oscar dela Hoya said he prepared more than he ever did in any of his previous fights. His abs showed the results but not for his performance.

Manny Pacquiao fought according to his skill. Oscar dela Hoya did not fight to the skill that people know him for. I would have cheered loudly if he fell down face first like Diaz. Manny fought someone who just wanted "his money" back.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The End for the Pacman?

This would be an off-topic of then and now, but I felt that Manny Pacquiao might become then and would be now after his fight with Oscar dela Hoya.

3 or 4 months back from this date, it just came to me that the results of the fight will not be in favor of Manny Pacquiao. I wanted to blog about it but I don't know how it just came as a vision while I was awake. I was not watching TV or doing anything. Some sort of a vision or picture came in my mind out of nowhere of his beaten and bloodied face. I tried to watch all his previous fights and I did not see one that had that much beaten and bloodied face.

He was awesome and outstanding in his last fight against David Diaz because their height is almost the same.
His win against Juan Manuel Marquez had cast some doubts in it. Against Eric Morales there were doubts on the condition of Morales having cut down much weight in short period.

His giving away of tickets worth millions and turkey for thanksgiving lately seems to be a premonition for the Pacman of what is about to come. Is it some sort of a "farewell" or "good-bye"? I believe he did nothing similar to this in his previous fights.

By the way I am not "seer" or a fortune teller. I just felt the need to post what I experienced for whatever worth it is or will be. I am for Manny Pacquiao to win his fight against Oscar dela Hoya. I believe in his skills but height does really matter in boxing.

UPDATE (11/28/08): Pacquiao giving up WBC Lightweight Crown? Is this another sign? He had more difficult fights in lower divisions! Yes, he overwhelmed Diaz but did he fight anyone else in that division? He's saying he's more comfortable now at 140 to 147!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Observations while Walking

When you reach the age of late 40s and above, there are many things around you that reminds of the past. In a city, now appropriately called a "concrete jungle", you'll find tall buildings and edifices that were not once there. In its place could have been a plain lot with bushes, trees, grass and other plants.

Our city would be no different from others 30 to 40 years back. The City of Baguio is also known as the City of Pines because of the predominant Pine Tree growth. The city used to have that fresh air scent of pine and that is what you experience when walking around town during those days. Hardly would you notice public transportation stop because of traffic. They would only stop to pick up passengers. Walking up or down the main street Session Road, you practically know everyone or looks familiar. It was rare to see a stranger but it was easy to detect a tourist. Sidewalk or street vendors were even a rare sight to see except, of course, in the public market.

Police officers were very respectful in their navy blue uniform as they were respected highly by the civilians then. There was a very low incidence of violence and crime then that the police had their eyes more on jaywalkers and littering! Concern for vehicular traffic and traffic violations was almost nil. Even with vehicular accidents. Drivers then were so disciplined and everyone was willing to give way to another. You could even call a taxi cab company for taxi service! They would not even flag down their meters from their point of origin! That's made taxi signs, " ON CALL" in our city famous.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sports & Youth

In my younger days from the 60s to early 80s, I really loved sports. I played dodge ball, roller skates, some softball, chess, basketball, table tennis, lawn tennis, billiards, pool, some soccer, volleyball, badminton, pelota, duck-pin and Ten-Pin Bowling. The only sports facilities that we had to pay for were billiards, pool, duck-pin and ten-pin bowling. But they were relatively cheap because we were the youth then and could afford it. In our city, there was little concern about crime because the youth had practically many sports to engage in for free. It was only those not interested in sports that went into drugs and frat or gang like activities.

All around our city there were a lot of basketball courts from gyms to open-air standard full courts down to street half-courts. There were sub-standard sized courts to even smaller ones that players use smaller balls like tennis balls. We sometimes play for long hours until our strength is drained without worrying for the cost of using of the facility. The same free use could be said of volleyball, table and lawn tennis.

Probably since the mid-1980s until now, all of those free facilities are already pay-for-use facilities. The hourly rate is quite high that only well-off people could afford to use them frequently for two hours or more. It is sad to see many youth these days who want to be in sports but could not afford it anymore. This is one of the many reasons why the youth now have turned to cheaper computer games, use of drugs and gang activities. It is really a sad combination of seeing the past in your mind while seeing the present with your eyes.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Careers then . . .

During my elementary school days, I could recall my Mom talking about others who are in the banking or teaching industry. Maybe those were the high paying or respectable careers in the early to mid 1960s. She was so awed by children of other families in that job. Probably that was her way of telling us what course to take in college. One of my older brothers, our eldest, was into sales in the pharmaceutical industry. There was nothing really said about people in sales during those years. It could be that the term "salesman or saleslady" was a few grades, or levels, lower then when it comes to career. Another career that was said to give a good future was engineering. Quite odd, but during those days we thought, or we were oriented, that engineers were those who operated trains! That was why I never said in school that my Pop was an engineer (LOL), though he was both a Civil and Mining Engineer, and a good one at that!
Somewhere in the 1970s, the career as a salesman started to edge other careers. There were sales engineers and other sales people from other professions. As for myself, I was in the banking industry as a working student in 1974, then got into automotive sales in the last quarter of 1976. Why? My brother I was next to, was in that industry and I saw him making good! Commissions alone on one car sale is twice that of my regular one month salary with the bank! True enough I made it good and in less than 4 months, I was promoted as a Branch Sales Manager. The car sales industry was good in our country until early 1979, then it suddenly went slow in the second quarter. I was only 25 years old then and decided to find employment in the pharmaceutical sales industry. It was not difficult to find a job in those years as long as one had a college degree. When I got into that industry, I never thought that it was better, career-wise and the pay. As a medical representative, it was almost glamorous as you worked on your own time and disposal! Visits from higher-ups came only once a month or as rare as once in three months! There were so many perks in that industry then. Being in that industry started to look so good in the mid 1980s. It was a blessing in disguise for me to have left that industry in late 1982 when we started to go on our own business.

Now and the recent past, time has changed career opportunities. Sales and engineering careers are no longer that lucrative, except for Electronics engineering. In a third world country, there was nothing foreseen on this until the mid 1990s. Our country was entertaining "new" gadgets that were actually discards of first world countries. Anyone who specialized on them were simply misled. A good example was the Beta format video as against the VHS format. Same is true with cellular telephones. The career opportunities in our country, as of this writing, is the Nursing course and the Information Technology (I.T.). It hasn't changed for quite some time now.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Philippine Peso - Dollar Exchange Rate Review

Unbelievably it was difficult to search on the history of the Peso to Dollar exchange on the internet. It took me more almost a week to find one that would really show a history since the 1960s or earlier. And I had to dig deep into the web site. It simply just shows that many did not care about keeping records on it. To my recollection, the Philippine Peso was somewhere 4 is to 1 Dollar in the 1960s. And, had gone up to something like 7 Pesos to a Dollar in the early 1970s when the first oil crisis came about.

In my search for a history in this I was surprised to find one at seaquestdivecenter! It was posted by Benjamin A. Usigan under the title "The Evolution of Philippine Exchange Rate Policies". It was updated only until 1992. Here's an excerpt of some of the exchange rates on the article that I am quoting directly:

"From the post-war period up to the beginning of the 1960s, the Philippines maintained the official par value of P2.00 to US$1.00.

In response, the monetary authorities adopted a multi-tier exchange rate system starting April 1960. Under this system, exporters were allowed to surrender 75 percent nof their foreign exchange receipts at the official rate while the remaining 25 percent was valued at the free rate initially set at P3.20 to $1.00.

In November 1960, the decontrol program enlarged the amount of transactions valued at the free market rate to 50 percent of all foreign exchange receipts with the exchange rate at the free market reduced to P3.00 to $1.00.

On November 8, 1965, the decontrol program was completed and the peso was devalued to P3.90 to a dollar.

On February 21, 1970, the Philippines adopted the floating rate system with the first interbank guiding rate subsequently determined at P5.6282 to US$1.00 on February 24, 1970.

The peso's exchange rate experienced two hefty depreciations in 1983: from P10.083 per US$.00 in May to P11.0015 per US$1.00 in June (9.1 percent) and from P11.002 per US$1.00 in September to P14.002 per US$1.00 in October (27.3 percent).

After June 1984, when the peso depreciated by 28.6 percent from P14.002 to P18.002, the peso thereafter settled at P19.97 at the end of 1984 and appreciated by 7 percent to P18.4 in January 1985."


In early 2007, if I remember right, it had gone to something like 56.00 Pesos to a Dollar! As of now the exchange rate hoovers at around 47.00 pesos to a dollar. If my memory serves me right, the biggest jump was some time in 1984 when the exchange rate jumped from somewhere 7 is to 1 to 14 Pesos to a Dollar! I would say I remember that correctly because we had to stop construction of a house extension due to the sudden increase in construction materials.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Island of Palawan circa 1967-68 - Part 1

Thinking about the island of Palawan, it is almost 40 years now since we were there. Well, what I have to say here is how it was before because I have not been there since. It was there where I went through my second year in high school and half of my third year. Among a brood of 10, two of our youngest sisters and I were taken along there with our mom. Our father was then the superintendent of the Palawan Quicksilver Mines located some 14 kilometers from the islands capital of Puerto Princesa, now also a city. It didn't mean anything to me then. All I cared for was sports and as long as they had basketball there it was alright with me. The relocation of 884.56 km to 961.47 km south of our hometown didn't matter. It was our parents' decision and there was nothing we could do about it. It was like a dream. In an instant, we were there! No talk, no orientation - no nothing about anything that I could recall! When we got there, we never realized that we were going to live a life of a highly respected family (almost royal lol)! It was funny and at the same time weird living there during those times. It was as if the people there then were informed of our coming into town. The mining company even sent a car there from Manila just for our use going to and coming from school! We were the only students in the best school there that were being brought to and from school chauffered! We were treated very well and highly respected in that school run by nuns.

Actually, it was only in recent past about 5 or 6 years ago, that I came to realize all these. There are a lot of stories I could blog about here during our almost 2-year stay in Palawan. But as my usual self, I would not want to make this a boring article to read as I know most of you should be doing more important things online. Part 2 of this series will be my personal adventures, what I did on my own there that my siblings and parents wouldn't have known about. I hope I could write it very soon as I am excited myself to tell the stories about them too. Some of them were scary or weird growing-up scenarios.

As of this writing the Palawan Quicksilver Mines has mined-out itself for many years now. I have not been in contact with any of my former classmates or friends since we left. Having been online frequently for the past 4 years now, I have not come across any of them yet, inspite of some searches I have made.

Map Photo & Other PhotosCourtesy of:

Lunch Break

Since the late 1980s, it was no longer convenient to go home for the one (1) hour lunch break. Both for those who go to work and go to school. It might be only convenient for those who live just a stones throw away from school or workplace. What has caused this? Traffic. It has made travel longer and inconvenient going home for an hour of lunch break. Vehicles should make life easier but it has caused some inconveniences. Only a few families could afford to live close to the central business district these days. They would probably be those who own a commercial building or a business in the area.

Until the mid-1980s, our city, the City of Baguio was a pleasant place to go around in a car or just walking. The cold early mornings could still be felt and the refreshing smell of Pine trees was still much around. Taking a ride home was still easy especially for those who live not more than a 15-minute ride away. It was usual then that someone would be at home who has prepared lunch. So, some 20 to 25 minutes could be used to eat and watch some TV and still be on time to go back to school or work. Many people were still residing within the central business district. When the city needed more office or business spaces, rentals within the business district went high for commercial use. This meant people had to reside farther away and had started having difficult time to go home for lunch breaks. Living farther calls for a need of vehicles - more vehicles caused traffic. And that is how it is now in our city.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Baguio Day - September 1

Coincidental with the start of this blog today, September 1, 2008, it is the 99th Anniversary of our hometown Baguio City. Sadly, I have very little knowledge of our City's history. The city was founded because of its cool if not cold climate. The cool climate allows for the abundance of Pine trees and wild Sunflower. The city has been dubbed the "Summer Capital" of the Philippines. Another good reason the city was developed was because of the several Gold and Copper mining areas surrounding it. The Kennon Road leading to the city coming from the lowlands was named after the American who took charge of its construction. It was also known as Zig-zag road because it snakes up to the mountain top city.

There are some things unique to the city. It is the only city that has a Presidential Mansion in the country, that's aside from the Malacanang Palace in Manila. The city also boasts of having a Supreme Court and Court of Appeals buildings along with cottages for the Justices and Cabinet Members. The summer court sessions used to be an annual thing. I am not really sure if it still is that way now. The Presidents of the Philippines have always used the Presidential Mansion at least twice or thrice a year.

The premier military school of the country, Philippine Military Academy (PMA), is also located in the city. There could still be two of them military schools had it not been for some financial issues and problems, the Baguio Military Institute (BMI), that closed down in the 1960s. Camp John Hay, an American Military base for rest and recreation was also located there before reverting back to government ownership some time in the 1990s.

That's what the City of Baguio was as far as I know why it was a special city in the Philippines.

The Philippines

The Philippines is a small Asian country among the nations in the South-East Asia region. Up to last count (we'll never know if some has disappeared or some new ones popped out from under the seas - lol) it has 7,107 islands, the largest is Luzon on the North. Next largest is Mindanao in the South and in the middle of these two big islands are relatively smaller islands comprising the Visayas islands group. The total land area is approximately 300,000 square kilometers populated by almost 90 million, as of this writing. It is the 12th most populous country in the world.

Photo Courtesy of

The country has several ethnic groups and dialects. The official national language is Filipino, also known as Tagalog, and English an official language too. The Filipino race is a blend of several coming from Malay (brown race), Chinese and Spanish. The Spanish has colonized the country for 400 hundred years until the late 1800s which explains more of the mixed race. This also made it for a religion, predominantly Catholic.

The Filipinos generically show utmost respect to elders. This is the reason why most families are closely knit. We use some words to show respect when addressing elders or while speaking with them. Sometimes though, it's either funny or weird when an older one unknowingly addresses another person
with those words of respect
to a younger fellow. The more so for those not well acquainted and age gap is difficult to determine. Well, those are some customs or traditions which at times could be improper, if not embarrassing. With some western influences, that custom or tradition has dwindled down a bit. Another worthwhile mentioning here is, Filipinos have developed addressing Caucasians as "sir" or "ma'am". This could have cropped up from some sort of feeling inferior in race color.