Bugging

If anyone can tell me why I’m the first person in a room to be bitten by mosquitoes, I’d be happier. Well, not really happier because I’d still be bitten, but at least I’d know why it happens.

Is it because I release more carbon dioxide than the next person? Is it my slightly warmer body temperature (only applicable when I have my period)? Do I have some sort of insects appeal?

I think I might have to start wearing insect repellent round the clock. If only it didn’t smell so nasty and lotion-y, though…

I Am Supergirl

Many, many years ago, my parents took me to see Supergirl: the Movie. I don’t really remember seeing its first run, but I do remember (and have a picture of) being dressed up in a Supergirl costume.

Later on, my parents bought me a Supergirl Which-Way Book, akin to the Choose Your Own Adventure series of books. I enjoyed the book immensely even as I started getting confused with all the Golden Age/Silver Age/whatever that DC Comics had perpertrated in its universe, and Supergirl was changed from being Superman’s cousin to being Matrix, a completely different alien creature.

Today my dad called me and asked me if I wanted the Supergirl DVD. When he came home with it, to my joy it was the Director’s Cut which features scenes that were cut from the final version shown in movie theaters and on cable television. Ü I never realized how much I love this old movie until I found it in my hands. It’s playing on my laptop as I type this, and I love it as much now for its fantasy storyline as well as its campy graphics and effects. If you’re interested (like I am), you can read more about Supergirl: The Movie.

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For those people who got to this site looking for more information on tennis at the SEA Games, I’m writing about that on Game, Ms. Noelle, my pro tennis journal. Cecil Mamiit and Eric Taino helped seal the gold medal for the Philippines in the team tennis competition. They are both entered in the singles and doubles event that started today at 10am.

Market

My dad and I made the requisite appearance at Lung Center’s food market this Sunday morning. Normally it’s my mom, my sister, and I who go there to buy fresh produce such as eggs, vegetables, fruit, and the odd loaf of Uncle George’s sugar-free high-fiber bread.

Today we just bought the bread, some taho, longganisa, and grilled catfish. My dad likes going to the wet part of the market where they have fresh cuts of meat and live fish. His favorite part are the field frogs still jumping in a large mesh bag, waiting for the exotic food connoisseur to come along and… I don’t even want to think about that. My dad took me past that mesh bag two times! The frogs jumped, I jumped, the frogs jumped, I jumped.

We bought the grilled catfish last. As we were paying for it, I noticed a tub of live catfish at my feet. One of the fish was discreetly trying to make its escape and wriggled up and out of the tub. It landed splat on the outdoor cement floor of the market. I let out a little “Oh!” but the fish vendor didn’t notice.

The catfish wriggled onwards. Bystanders started murmuring. “Uy! Namamasyal! (It’s taking a stroll!)” said one of them. The fish had gotten three or four feet away before the vendor caught it and sent it back to the tub along with the other catfish.

It’s probably now waiting for some food connoisseur to come along and… Ü

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By the way, check out my Photo Log sometime, would you? I just updated it with some pics from a party I attended last month.

Pat Morita died last week of natural causes. Mr. Miyagi, we shall miss you. Wax on, wax off in peace. (Link via Brownpau.)

SEA Games? Here? Really?

Five weeks ago, I had no idea that the South East Asian Games were taking place right here in the Philippines. In fact, it took a Singaporean friend’s excitement over the SEA Games to make me aware of it.

On Sunday, November 27, the SEA Games will officially commence. For the past four weeks I’ve seen banners and billboards from Globe Telecom celebrating its status as official telecom partner of the SEA Games. this whole week at UP Diliman the Pre-SEA Games Conference on Sports Science was held at the Film Center and Bahay ng Alumni. This morning as I walked through Holiday Inn Galleria’s lobby to take the elevator down to my car (I’d come from Gold’s Gym Galleria), I saw that the hotel was an official partner hotel for the SEA Games as well: part of the delegation from Singapore was checking in at the front desk. I think they were the badminton team, since there were several Yonex badminton racquet bags lying on a table near them.

Still, I don’t feel much fanfare about these Games. The Malaysian Star reports that you wouldn’t even know the biggest sporting event in the region was going to kick off here in Manila.

From the Malaysian Star:
The planes into the Ninoy Aquino International Airport are packed with incoming athletes and officials. But step out of the airport, and it’s just another day in the town.

There are hardly any banners to herald the 23rd SEA Games, which begin in two days. There is no excitement and even the mascot, the eagle, is nowhere in sight.

At the airport, though, singing girls and bands welcome the Games “families” and Immigration and Customs clearance is a breeze while policemen and security personnel greet visitors with big smiles.

The Malaysian Star also reports that the Malaysian athletes are being crammed into small hotel rooms (three athletes to a 10-foot by 10-foot room) even though the Olympic Council of Malaysia is paying for the accommodations.

While I’m honored that the Philippines is hosting the Games, I’m embarrassed that they come at this time of political turmoil and financial belt-tightening. That the SEA Games are being used as a diplomatic tool (akin to India and Pakistan’s “cricket diplomacy”) isn’t much of a morale-booster, either.

To know more about the Philippine involvement with the SEA Games, the Philippine Daily Inquirer has a good write-up on it. The article doesn’t have what I really want to know, though, and that is: where are they going to hold the Games’s tennis tournament? Ü

UPDATE: a fellow tennis-obsessed friend of mine found two articles (Manila Standard and Inquirer) on Cecil Mamiit and Eric Taino representing the Philippines at the SEA Games tennis tournament in Rizal Memorial Stadium (where else?). The two Fil-Ams play on the ATP Tour and represented the US up until this year.

Vote for Her!

The last time I focused totally on watching an international beauty pageant was the Miss Universe pageant held here in Manila many years ago. After that, I didn’t bother to keep up with the whole shebang of glitz and glamour. (Well, I made an exception for Miriam Quiambao.)

Ganns kind of changed that for me in the case of this year’s Miss World. He’s been writing enthusiastically about the Philippine candidate, Carlene Aguilar. I didn’t care much whether we won, but when Ganns posted that most oddsmakers find her the favorite, it got me thinking that the Philippines actually has a serious chance of winning. I mean, Miss International was won this year by Precious Lara Quigaman, one of ours. Miss World actually solicits votes for candidates from viewers; if we could just vote enough to get Carlene into the final… The last time I tried to vote, however, the Miss World site asked for a credit card; voting was on a pay basis.

Then one morning, I spotted a commercial on ABC5 detailing how people could vote through their cellphones. It took me a few days more before I actually went ahead and voted, but here’s how to vote. I’m duplicating info from Ganns’s site, but I think that voting instructions should get as much exposure as possible.

  • Globe subscribers: text “mw 114” to 2345.
  • Smart subscribers: text “mw 114” to 2441.
  • Both networks charge P2.50 per SMS.

Vote now! Vote often! Vote for Carlene Aguilar!

Roadkill

(A post not for the squeamish.)

When I was around nine years old, I rode bicycles with my cousins every time I visited them. We only rode them on the street they lived on, but it was a long street with lots of obstacles in the way–a road that on both sides sloped downward into a canal, driveways we could pedal up and down on.

The most disgusting obstacles, of course, were the frogs that had been haplessly squished by car wheels. Some of them had been there for more than a few weeks and had been run over repeatedly, leaving behind a flat hide that was nearly indistinguishable from the road around it. I’d be cycling on top of one before I could manage to see and dodge it, and I frequently wondered whether people scraped these off the road with a shovel or just let them disintegrate.

These days, I drive a car on more than one street. I’ve found that there are more than just frogs on the blacktop. Ü

Cats are probably the most common dead animals you see on the roads of the Philippines. We may not have big-antlered deer that freeze in front of oncoming headlights, but cats seem to be fine substitutes. There are whole cats, half cats, pulverized cats, and leather. Yes, sometimes the road cleanup crews don’t get to the carcasses. In time, the heat of the sun and the pressure of wheels mashing into the pavement turn the cat into a lovely piece of hide.

But let’s not forget about dogs. They’re not as prevalent as cats on the roads I travel, but there was this one time I had to swerve around a dog lying paws up. The poor expired canine lay there for two whole weeks before finally being cleaned off the road.

The same day the dog disappeared, I narrowly missed turning a cat carcass into leather.

Plagiarism and Blogs

I stumbled across this lovely food blog today, called Market Manila. However, it wasn’t the food stuff that intrigued me, but the entries concerning an unauthorized publication of one of the owner’s pictures in the country’s best-read daily newspaper.

November 18, 2005:
In the Philippine Daily Inquirer yesterday (page C4) and on their on-line website (both with a readership numbering in the millions on a local and global scale, compared with my modest base of 2-3,000 wonderful and loyal readers) an article by James Anthony R. Ceniza on Yema Balls features a stunning photograph of a yema sitting on an unwrapped pink cellophane wrapper…. The problem is that the photo is EXACTLY like a Marketmanila photograph that I took on April 16 (shown here at right) of a yema I had purchased from the Salcedo Saturday Market and which was featured in my own post on yema. And the other photograph used in the article is exactly like the photograph of yema by fellow food blogger Karen at Pilgrims Pots & Pans…

Yikes. MarketMan has a follow-up post about how he and the Inquirer are trying to resolve the issue. Micketymoc has put together pictorial evidence of the plagiarism and Sassy Lawyer recaps it.

The Inquirer is keeping mum on the issue right now, although they did take down the photos. The only coverage I’ve seen on this is entirely from prominent Pinoy blogs. Blog power, indeed.

UPDATE: Inquirer writes:

IN LIEU of the PDI Family Recipes Contest winner this week, we are reprinting these two photos, which appeared with the winning melt-in-your-mouth yema balls recipe in this section (Nov. 17, p. C4), to properly credit them to two food weblogs.

Both photos were submitted by James Anthony Ceniza with the yema recipe. It has come to the attention of the Inquirer that he took the photo of the yema with the pink wrapper from the food weblog Market Manila (marketmanila.com), and the other photo from the food weblog The Pilgrims Pots & Pans (karen.mychronicles.net/?p=53. Mr. Ceniza has apologized to the owners of these food weblogs for the unauthorized use of their photos.

Not quite an apology, but at least an acknowledgement of what happened.

Music

Today, Marielle and I stopped by Eastwood City because several major record companies were holding a sale of audio and video CDs. Yesterday she had already bought a copy of Lifehouse’s second album “Stanley Climbfall” priced at 100 pesos, so I was excited to see what else I could find at that bargain-basement price.

What’s ironic is that a few hours before that, I was at Robinsons Galleria downloading music files off Limewire. For some people this sort of behavior might be contradictory; as the ads want to have it, “Piracy is illegal.”

I don’t necessarily consider downloading music as piracy, though. I don’t download to make profit or to dodge having to buy the artists’ CDs; I use Limewire to find extremely rare tracks that didn’t even exist on commercially-released CDs, or to determine whether an artist’s album is worth buying. In the case of Gavin deGraw’s “Chariot Stripped” two-disc special edition, I haven’t seen a single copy in local record stores, so I downloaded the acoustic disc one afternoon. I’d still like to have an original of that album eventually, since my interest in it was piqued by the downloaded songs.

But what choice does one have when legitimate copies of music CDs come with hidden software that cripples your computer? On October 31, the news broke that Sony Music had packaged software into their CDs for copy protection purposes. I don’t blame them for trying, but the issue wasn’t copy protection; the issue was that Sony had used rootkit technology to hide the software. According to Mark Russinovich, the person who discovered Sony’s doings, “[r]ootkits are cloaking technologies that hide files, Registry keys, and other system objects from diagnostic and security software, and they are usually employed by malware attempting to keep their implementation hidden…” Russinovich detected the rootkit and removed it painstakingly, but this resulted in his computer losing access to its CD-ROM drives.

After Russinovich reported this in his blog, the issue snowballed; Boing Boing has a timeline of events, but basically the rootkit was discovered to serve a more insidious purpose: it opened a backdoor into the infected system, which trojans and other malicious programming could use to install themselves undetected or to play havoc with the system. Sony’s program also violated privacy rights of the people who had bought these discs legitimately; once installed in the system, the program reported disc usage back to Sony, though the company denies paying attention to this data.

Sony confounded matters even further by providing an “uninstaller” of the rootkit. Unfortunately, one was required to provide personal information before downloading the uninstaller, and the additional program didn’t actually do anything to remove the rootkit, but only made it visible. Additionally, the uninstaller opened an even bigger security hole in systems where it was installed. And the End-User License Agreement is even worse than these security holes: here are the conditions you must agree to before you can even listen to the CD.

Note that none of these things would have happened if the consumers had simply just downloaded the songs file-by-file off peer-to-peer networks. I’m not advocating illegal behavior, but Sony’s deeds were a serious disservice to the people who trusted them and attempted to do the right thing by buying original CDs. Here’s a full list of the infected CDs from Sony.

And since I’m supposed to be a good mass comm student, I have to mention the media angle to this issue. Apparently CNN failed to pick up the story in the early days of the controversy, in stark contrast to the tech news sites that were abuzz with it. A conspiracy theory attributes this to CNN being part of Time Warner and the RIAA (the industry body that is attempting to rein in digital piracy of audio and video).

As for me, I was able to find a good CD at the sale. One hundred pesos for “Long Gone Before Daylight,” The Cardigans’s fourth album. Ü

More Constantine, More Mig

As an addendum to my uber-excited post about Constantine Maroulis in Manila, I’m pleased to report that Mig Ayesa (of Rockstar: INXS fame) is also in Manila.

From Inq7.net:
TWO CHARISMATIC rockers who became famous worldwide this year landed in Manila yesterday.

Filipino-Australian rocker MiG Ayesa and New Yorker Constantine Maroulis stepped off the same Philippine Airlines flight from Los Angeles, California, and into a quiet welcome each from a small group of fervent fans. It was 3 a.m.

Ayesa placed third in “Rock Star INXS,” which featured 15 contenders and was broadcast worldwide for 11 weeks from the CBS Studios in Los Angeles. The prize was the position of new front man for the Australian band INXS, a phenomenal success in the 1980s whose lead singer died in 1997.

His impressive showing, Ayesa believed, was boosted by text messages from his two home countries. During the final leg of “Rock Star,” he said in a previous Inquirer interview that, win or lose, he was definitely Manila-bound “sooner than next year … to personally thank every single fan” who sent an SMS in his favor.

“It’s nice to be treated like a long-lost son, to feel the nation behind me. It’s very nice to come home this way,” Ayesa told a handful of reporters upon arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Centennial Terminal 2.

It was a surprise, too. Ayesa was initially expected on Dec. 1 to perform at the “MTV Staying Alive Music Summit for HIV/AIDS.” As it turned out, he had to turn up two weeks early as negotiations pushed through for him to perform the finale number at the opening ceremonies of the Ad Congress in Cebu City on Thursday.

At NAIA, he briefly exchanged “hey, man” hugs with “American Idol” finalist Constantine Maroulis, who is in the country for a series of performances at Ayala malls nationwide.

Like Ayesa, Maroulis did not win the competition he joined, but emerged as a big audience favorite. “I did not expect to make friends on ‘Idol.’ I treated the audition like a job interview,” Maroulis said at a press conference later in the day. “But I did make friends. In fact, we were like family.”

Ayesa, 35, describes himself as a “funk soul rocker.” His fans have heard him render classic rock songs like they were his own. He has also treated them to soulful ballads.

After a little prodding, the rocker revealed that he was also performing at the Ad Congress with Lea Salonga. “We will be doing a duet,” Ayesa said, grinning, the handsome face lit up by his amazingly beautiful blue-green eyes.

He wouldn’t say what the duet would be, but for his solo numbers, he said, he would reprise a song he did on “Rock Star” and the legendary British band Queen’s signature, “We Will Rock You.”

I have a silly little smile on my face now. Those lucky Ad Congress people.

That Nice Greek Boy

Constantine Maroulis is coming to town.

Who? He’s that nice Greek rocker boy from the latest season of American Idol. He was one of the early favorites (and my personal favorite), but the one week–the ONLY week–that he fell into the Bottom Three, he got eliminated. Some people said this was stage-managed by American Idol’s producers, who felt that if he didn’t get eliminated, the singers they had pegged to advance to the final would exit. Others said that Constantine purposely wanted to leave because his band, Pray for the Soul of Betty, was already releasing their own album. In any case, I stopped watching American Idol after he left.

And now he’s going to be in Manila next week. Drool. Swoon. Shriek. Rub shoulders with hundreds of people who want to see him as well. To that I’d say, “No, thanks.” I love Constantine dearly, but I think I could handle not actually seeing him live.

The embarrassing thing about this post is that I accidentally entered it into my tennis blog. The poor people who subscribed to the RSS feed from that blog must be wondering what in the world Constantine Maroulis would be doing in a tennis blog. Oops.