carlo and i found ourselves in van gogh is bipolar again. totally unplanned visit, we were in the area and decided to visit jetro and listen to tales of his recent trip to india, mongolia and the himalayas before his service starts at 6pm. apparently it’s been a year (ed- apparently it was dec 2011 as seen here) since we saw him because the cabinets from his shop in alabama is now in the resto since january last year.
my architecture barkada and facebook friend, amillah, posted a question on her page, “what’s your dream for manila?” a few days ago. there were a few comments and i decided to join in the fun. a few short suggestions grew to a longer list. i apparently had my bone to pick and had more things to say than i would like to admit. if you were president, or at least mayor, how would you improve things here in manila? or in the philippines, as a larger whole? here’s my random, clearly unorganized list of wishful thinking:
1. strict implementation on jeepney stops, an organized and logical pila system. what we can do in UP, we can do in the world. add to that an improved traffic decongesting scheme on top of the color-coding and a stricter anti-smoke belching campaign implementation. also we should have a centralized/unified smoke belching certificate. right now, you have to get a different one from every city –pasig, mandaluyong, makati etc and they’re not offering official receipts! read: raket! we must have more MRT train cars. and more blowers in the MRT stations! ang init kaya! and an EDSA skyway that skips cubao and mandaluyong haha 🙂
2. Save the earth, Manila!
stronger better programs on recycling and campaigns on environmental awareness, privatized garbage collection, garbage cans every 100 meters, urinals every half kilometer. we should promote a greener Manila, a greener Philippines. i applaud how Bayani cleaned up Marikina (though he garnered more critics when he became MMDA chief) and how Hagedorn practiced green living in Palawan . it can be done! Cuerpo’s garbage disposal solutions in Montalban were for the books and his methane plant would have really helped. unfortunately, his detractors pushed him out of office, dont quote me 🙂 a lot more cities should adopt the no plastics/styro ordinance. please! yes to recyclable bags for groceries and to wheeled carts. we also need more trees. our urban development should include a tree plan or better yet, a park plan. more parks built = more trees planted. building codes should be revised imposing a 30% tree/park plan for every site being developed. and a 10% provision for pedestrian passageways! walang daan ang mga tao juskoday. our streets are almost not people friendly. i do commend makati with trees, the parks, the wide walkways and an elevated catwalk along dela rosa. it’s practically fun to walk in makati because you wont get run over!
3. appreciation (and preservation) of heritage structures. yun yon
4. no more billboards EVER (esp since di na pwede underwear ads hahaha). we’ll miss views like this but let’s look up to the night sky instead. no more free-standing billboards on EDSA and the major highways.
5. clean, potable water from our faucets. in my childhood, we could drink water from a hose. let’s bring that back.
6. clean fuel for vehicles. if our gasoline and diesel were processed better, there would be less carbon emissions (please correct me if i got this wrong). less soot on roadside structures, less pollutants in the air. better yet, let’s go electric! or have a hydro car or a solar-powered one.
building more construction of farm-to-market roads, more rewards for farmers and removal of middle men. let’s help the farmers, not the men who do less sweat and still take home the larger bulk of income. also, if we invest more in our lands, we may need not import goods we can grow ourselves.
8. subsidies and more education grants for IP youths, more lumad schools so they get educated but still maintain their cultures. land certificates for the indigenous people, more programs for training IPs to be better farmers and managers of their lands. empowerment to the people, let’s not keep them in the dark.
9. streamlined tax collection system. perhaps we can pay our taxes through online banking. or have we already started that?
10. promotion and patronizing locally produced goods. the US market is receiving flak because of high fructose corn syrup and many other unhealthy extenders in US processed foods, indirectly causing a high rise in obesity and diabetes cases in the states. we should be grateful, for example, our locally made peanut butter is unstable and has oil (check lily’s); that means it’s natural and there is less preservatives. our veggies have lesser carbon footprint since the Philippines is a much smaller country than the US. our food may not be exempted from the use of preservatives and extenders, but i think it’s way better than their US counterparts. please read food labels and their ingredients!
11. improved health classes in schools, encouraging better dental and skin health for all and providing more services for them; the passing of the RH bill. health is wealth, so they say. PEHM classes should now be more comprehensive, discussing food and diet in detail, making gym fun and accessible to even the dweebest of the dweebs. schools should teach how to read and understand labels, effects of too much sugar and salt, calorie content and how to measure their intake. kids should know which food item is healthier just by reading labels. the first three ingredients listed in any product indicate the largest components of that item. bottled iced tea lists water, sugar and tea, in that order. that means, there’s more sugar than anything (which is why i stopped drinking bottled iced teas). school programs should encourage our youth to be fit, toned and be body gorgeous! we should instill dental hygiene practices like flossing, gargling with hydrogen peroxide, the pinas is not exactly dental health conscious. the RH bill should already be put in effect 20 years ago so we can start reaping its benefits. sex education, information on reproductive health for our kids and in barrios where it is most needed. aborti-what? even the pope encourages condom use.
12. promotion of tropical design versus american/euro style homes. the greater population should understand why we cant keep having all this american style homes in a tropical country! it’s too damn hot! also, tropical design is also green architecture; design considers orientation of the house to maximize airflow and minimizing solar heat. more windows, better ventilation and lighting, lesser use of air-conditioning and lights. redirect rainwater and laundry water for washing the garage or for flushing toilets. form should follow function. bathrooms are living areas too, dont make it the size of a broom closet! we need to promote our cultural sensibilities in design! we need more kenneth cobonpues, more budji layugs and ann pamintuans, more locsins and lichaucos! more important than promoting them abroad is promoting them here in the philippines, maximizing their talents and creating awareness and more appreciation in the motherland. we tend to look up to international designers when we can do better by buying local.
13. centralized ID system, centralized banking system if possible. forget what nostradamus feared, 1 ID may be all we need.
14. cheaper unlimited data plans for mobile phones or tablets hehe or a wi-fi ready manila! how about being out in the park and bam! we got wi-fi with up to 16mbps speeds! haha
15. instill nationalism and pride in local efforts and practices (like, support pinoy movies!). no more colonial and crab mentality! please no more negativity. there should be no factor in the bakya. ok, there’s jejemon and pre-2k jologs type pero kanya-kanya lang yang trip. no need to separate yourself from the other. we’re all in the same boat, we breathe the same dirty air and hide from the same sun. japan was able to help its economy after the world war by keeping out of the world market. the japanese bought japanese. by this they were able to instill local pride. when the japanese go abroad, they still bought japanese-made products and that helped their economy a lot. since products continued to improve, the world wanted their products and so a happy cycle was established. in the same vein, if pinoys bought pinoy, quality of products would improve because tayo na nga gagamit then more would buy it. if pinoys watched more pinoy movies, im sure we’d have better fare since we’re helping the industry. if pinoys stopped heckling lower class sentiments and see the beauty in the positive, our culture would be richer and more exciting. i love what team manila is doing, maybe they should instead be called the Department of Tourism. oops.
it was only after writing my first draft that i read this other article on dreaming for a better manila. there are a lot of similar wants for manila here. goes to show a lot of people want the same basic things and changes. im sure the government would have picked up on these ideas as well. i just hope it translates to some constructive reality.
early this week carlo and i headed to van gogh is bipolar to drop off some floral teas for jetro. it was around 9pm and since carlo and i havent had dinner, we decided to eat there. cuzin tricie was with us and would have joined us but had to attend to the mother so she left early. there were very few diners that night so it was a treat to find jetro relaxed and had time to sit and talk to us. it’s been a while since we were able to just sit and talk.
we tried his 3-course meal that night: virginia vegetable soup with pieces of shredded chicken and some beans, norwegian salmon belly with bowls of cabbage leaves filled with sting’s spicy marble potatoes (we opted for this instead of rice) and a slice of orange, mel gibson’s darkest sin and a refreshing cucumber tea with sprigs of tarragon and mint (see photo on left). a better lighted photo is posted below but we already dove into the drink, enjoying it like kids who picked on flowers and leaves from the backyard and mixed it up for a dare. sorry for the quality of the photos, had i known we were going back to van gogh and staying longer i would have brought my dslr (photos were taken with my phone cam).
we were already in high spirits finishing the soup when the main course arrived. it was overwhelming and i thought the only way i could deal with it was by eating with my fingers. and so i started picking on the cabbage leaves, the lettuce et. al. the downside to this was carlo and i werent speaking to each other because we were so engrossed with the food and the experience of eating it (we’re normally engaged in conversation while eating), though not entirely bad because we savored every aspect of the meal. and kudos to the well-cooked salmon belly, superb. there might be some truth in jetro’s diet since we were left heady and clearly stoked.
it’s no surprise we are fans of mel gibson’s darkest sin. jetro tells us he tweaked it since then but we still enjoyed it immensely– mel gibson’s darkest sin is a jägermeister shot with a chocolate bottom and finished off by a walnut. call it crazy, we call it love.
winding down, jetro mixed us a tea concoction and pulled out all the stops to setup the bed out in his garden with candles and lace table covers. we then chilled out under the stars and talked until midnight. we could live like this forever 🙂 jetro was kind enough to offer us a suggestion for our bluementritt cafe we couldnt resist. we’ll keep you guys posted. i marveled at the dill flowers blooming in jetro’s garden and asked for a few to bring home to mindanao for mom before we left the cafe.
van gogh remains a large part, jetro’s home and it really was just visiting an old friend and enjoying dinner with him. but more than anything, van gogh will always be that moment where life stands still long enough for you to reflect on it. this universe is always worth visiting, a necessary trip to discovering what you might just need to do and unravel things about yourself. over tea, childhood drinks and cabbage leaves.
gutten nacht! till the next universe hop.
it’s a crazy time to be living. the freak flooding that happened in metro manila only happens in emmerich’s disaster movies, scenes played out for all the world to see. crazy crazy. the networks get their news from facebook and twitter, their video footage from youtube. this is the age of technology and alarming climate changes.
last saturday we were in a shoot on location in new manila when it started to rain all day. ondoy was at work. titatems started calling me about the flooding in the metro. fortunately we werent being encroached by rising waters so we continued to shoot in what would become an island. vans could not get into or out of the area we were in. by merienda time, the staff could only serve cup noodles because the caterers’ kitchen in makati got flooded, plus the roads have become impossible to traverse through.
i was worried for the dogs at home and none of our neighbors were responding to texts. communication started to lag or waver and we eventually lost electricity in the shoot area. good thing we were running on generator. apparently, carlo’s family were affected by loss of power too and a bit of flooding in their house in montalban, rizal. his grandmother’s backwall collapsed and the floodwaters started to pour in her yard. my aunt and her family in cainta is currently in waist deep waters and has practically lost everything. my colleague lolafer’s house in pasig was also filling up with waist deep waters while we were shooting. his neighbors broke down the door and tried to bring up his stuff to the 2nd floor in his apartment. most were saved, including his 3 dogs, except for his electric organ and the refrigerator. he left the shoot early so he could tend to the house. was texting him way into midnight and he only been having coffee since there was no food to be had.
we’re fortunate to be living in an area in katipunan that was not affected by the rising flood. electricity, water, phone and even cable tv and internet were unaffected. carlo and i got home around 11pm saturday and found the dogs extremely hungry though. we slept troubled but well enough to prepare for the 2nd day of shoot the next day. the production decided to go on with the shoot since everybody else was practically stranded in that house location. there was no way the equipment could leave anyway. even the talents that were packed up at 10am had to stick it out until the next day in the house, otherwise theyd just be stuck immobile on the road home.
it’s heartbreaking to realize thousands of people losing a lot in the flood. and i cant even begin to comprehend how much damage has already been done. personal belongings, clothes, houses, cars, pets, family members. as i stay here dry and comfortable, im compelled to do something and reach out. this afternoon carlo and i decided to go get food and cook them for distribution. we couldnt afford to get sacks of rice and boxes of canned goods. but we strived to have cooked food for the victims and so we sent tuyo, boiled egg and steamed rice to akbayan, food you can easily eat off your hand even while standing up. also packed our old clothes and shoes and sent those off.
tomorrow’s another day and we’re expecting two more storms coming our way. like in cagayan de oro when the city got flooded again 1 week after the first flooding early january this year, im sure when it starts to rain again, the flooding in metro manila will get worse. the earth’s climate is really haywire and we’re suffering. i dont know if any of this is repairable. how can you fix that hole in the ozone layer? the warming of the earth’s atmosphere? the melting of antartica and the snow caps, the shift of ocean currents and the mercury retrograde?
dear Lord, only you can save us from all this. Lord, help. love, ben.
images pulled out from the internet. no copyright infringement intended.