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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What It Takes to Be A Cook

White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford

Interesting article on the apparent search for a new chef and how "big name" celebrity chefs won't make the cut.

The former executive chef for the past two administrations shares his old wisdom as someone who's been there: "You have to be a person who has a real heart of service. . . " That's saying a lot about his successor and current chef, Fil-Am Cristeta Comerford, and how he's 90% sure she'll stay on as chief cook. The link below -

Monday, November 24, 2008

On The Middle Way

On realizing that the ultimate truth and freedom from the wold's ills is not found in the extremes of earthly pleasures of his former princely life, nor in the severe bodily mortifications of an ascetic, he overheard a master of the lute passing on the river remark:

If the string is too tight, it will break. If it is too loose, it will not play.

- Gautama Siddartha
The Buddha

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What the Heck?! - The Shemagh

The latest fad?

I've been meaning to write this piece for some time now. Lately, you've been seeing them everywhere. In malls, coffee shops, cinemas, parks. Scarves or large neckerchiefs with exotic designs worn by the younger, hip and trendy set (someone said to me that their popularity even made Jessica Soho do a segment on them for her show!). You can bet with coming cold from December to February you'll be seeing a lot more of them.

'Lang hiya naman! This latest craze is almost a guarantee I won't be wearing mine now as I've always prided myself for not going with the herd!

Waaaaaaaaaay back in 2000, when my old job required me to do a lot of traveling, I bought this piece of cloth from down south in Zamboanga from the Moslem sale and trade port area. As I was the only one in my circle sporting such at that time, I got my fair share of strange looks or questions asking if I was a muslim (since I didn't seem to fit the type). You see, I wasn't a total ignoramus as to what they were.

Also called by such names as yashmagh, keffiyeh and gutrah, it was the traditional cloth worn as headdress of men in the Middle East. Not only did it protect you from the sun in the hot climate, wrapping it completely around your head also offered protection from the dust of sand storms in the dessert.

I knew them even earlier from my affinity with all things tactical. Because of their utility, they were probably first popularized by British soldiers and SAS troops who were assigned all over the world and bought them back to their country. The American forces then followed suit. Its more popular name (shemagh) then stuck. It was then that its popularity spread from artists, rebels and the youth. It did however have some negative political and cultural stigma after 9/11 because of the stupid backlash fearing all things Middle East as being associated with "terrorism".

Mine was the traditional black on white design motif. The cotton material was actually comfortable and gives a sense of security and just enough warmth on the neck and nape, such as in the air-conditioned flight on a plane for example. I removed the frilly thread things from the borders of the cloth as I never really understood the idea for them other than for traditional aesthetics.

Now these new "fashion" designs don't even measure up to the traditional make! They're thinner and made with a different cloth rather than cotton and the attention to detail is lacking! Obviously just a mass-produced item in response to the trend.

Neckerchiefs though have been worn by Filipinos some generations back but I believe they fell into disuse at the turn of the last century probably due to foreign influences. Even my lola wraps a neckerchief around her head for when she works out in the field.

For the rest of Asia, in Cambodia for example they have the krama which is said to be a distinct and distinguishing piece of wardrobe -

Aside from its traditional use as a scarf or neckerchief and being a mat/blanket or towel you could sit on for picnics, out in the field or treks it could be used as a splint for injuries, a tourniquet or bandage for wounds and emergencies, a hammock tied to a branch to secure light items or gear off the ground and a rough "cheesecloth" filter for water.

I also have a military sniper's veil that roughly functions in the same way. Besides the visibility it offers because of its perforated design, the sniper's veil could also be secured on a bent sapling or flexible branch and used as a fishnet.

3 Things Why I Like This Ad. . .

1. The overall "cute" and funny theme

2. It's green thrust for alternative energy sources for the environment

3. A nice 60's folk song from the US

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Rare Primate Rediscovered

I believe we also have a similar endemic species here; the Philippine tarsier of Bohol and Palawan. I had a pic of me taken holding some in the palm of my hand when I went somewhere along the Loboc River in Bohol some years back (this was of course before the stricter laws forbidding the practice). They're really strange micro-sized creatures with their big bulging eyes, resembling a cross between a monkey, a rat and a tree frog. They could leap and dart quickly among the branches and were said to be nocturnal.

Stories like these give me hope that we haven't totally FUBAR'ed the environment. Yet a great deal of work still needs to be done to minimize, if not reverse, what we've damaged. The link below -

Genovese Syndrome: When All of Us Just Looks On

The case of Catherine Susan Genovese would leave an indelible and ugly stain forever in the mingling of the studies of psychology, sociology and forensics. Its impact reaches into the collective of who we are called humanity.
On the early morning of March 13, 1964, "Kitty" Genovese was arriving home to her apartment at 82-70 Austin Street in the Kew Gardens area of Queens, New York City at 3:15 am. Finishing her shift as a bar manager and all that that entails at Ev's 11th Hour Sports Bar, she was probably tired and sleepy after a long day and was glad to be home. She parked her car at the Long Island Railroad Parking lot, a mere 30 meters (100 feet) from her doorstep. As she was alighting from her vehicle, a man was coming close to her. Sensing something dangerously wrong, she instinctively ran to her home which was so close, yet the much larger figure overtook her 5'1" and 105 pound frame. Winston Moseley, a business machine operator, stabbed her twice in the back. She cried: "Oh my God, he stabbed me! Help me!" pleading to her neighbors in the proximity who were within earshot of what was happening. Someone was heard to have shouted "Leave that girl alone!" which made Moseley back-off and leave. Kitty struggled sobbing, staggering and bleeding, trying to get to her apartment building door. Somehow everybody was hoping and praying that it was all over, which made residents close their windows and turn-0ff their lights. This was not to be.

Moseley returned several minutes later. He carefully searched the perimeter of the area, as if looking for his previous injured prey. He found her lying barely conscious in a hallway at the back of the building. He mercilessly stabbed her several times again. She cried once more to the emptiness: "I'm dying! I'm dying!" only to fall on ears that were uncaring, afraid or indifferent to her plight. As she lay dying, Moseley committed his last beastly act: he cut-off her bra and underwear and proceeded to rape her then and there. He even stole about $49 from her wallet and left her dying in the hallway.
Help arrived only when somebody finally called the police and medics. She died in the ambulance as she was being rushed to the hospital. She was 29 years old.

The crime scene photo of the first and second stabbing attacks on Kitty Genovese
The stabbing and sexual assault of Kitty Genovese lasted half an hour (32 minutes) and was witnessed by handful of individuals, a report even mentioning up to 38 people who witnessed the crime.
Here's a long and more detailed account. The actual description of the crime is on Chapter/page 3 -

The nation’s sensibilities were rocked. The cold hard questions of “Why didn’t someone call for help?” or “Didn’t anybody do something?” rang thru the media rallying people to question what was going on in our society. Was this outrageous level of apathy pervading our culture today?
Psychologists tried to tackle what was supposed to have occurred and has since integrated Kitty Geovese's case as a basic study reference for all students taking up the course. It prompted research into the so-called Bystander Effect of which the crime was a textbook case. The surprising thing about this phenomenon is that unlike a single good Samaritan who would likely help or intervene during such events, when it comes to larger numbers of bystanders/onlookers, they were less likely to help or intervene for a victim. Some of the reasons for such was that one was "trapped" into not acting based on the perception that another will know what to do or act appropriately---unable to see the fact that no one is actually doing anything. Another is that since others weren't helping, they won't either. It's as if bystanders or onlookers were assured more into not doing anything because of their numbers.

This inaction is related to another social phenomenon called diffusion of responsibility, in which no one is identified with the burden of responsibility. Thus, all become passive and implicitly or tacitly pass the burden to another rather than own-up to being answerable to the consequence/s. In effect it became somebody else's problem.
See the links below for further info -

To us here locally though, it begs the question: could culture have an influence in this? What if the setting had been here in the Philippines? As part of our orientation towards family, sense of community and neighborly relations (i.e. - bayanihan spirit) and religious sentiments would we have acted differently?

This tragic case serves to hold up a mirror for us to view ourselves and see how ugly, uncaring and ignoble our natures can sometimes be.

As Edmund Burke once said: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing".

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

14 Surprising Signs of Living Longer

I usually take such articles with a grain of salt (I don't believe the significance of item #9 for example) . They are after all just "signs"- i.e. - indicators. To me, it's a confluence of factors and circumstances.

Some points are noteworthy though. Take it FWIW. Click the link below -

Certain cultures though owing to their mores, lifestyle, diet, location and community interaction or relationships have produced more elderly folk who comparatively lead a better quality of life for their age, even as centenarians. The natives of the Okinawan Islands for example. Scientists are trying to find out the why and how of the phenomenon culminating in the study called The Okinawa Program.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Not So Changing Face of the Noche Buena Table

Christmas is indeed just around the corner and as is tradition every year for us Filipinos, the Noche Buena feast on Christmas Eve with the entire family is the central occasion we all look forward to. Here in the province, that's especially a big thing more so in our household that loves to eat!

Nowadays though the meal that's going to be set is dependent on two main things: the state of one's health with all that cholesterol-laden, salty and sugary sweet stuff served right in front of us and the state of one's finances and budget considering the pinch we're all feeling right now.

That being said, being the resilient people that we are, we're bound find a way around such issues and say in all cavalierhood "Minsan lang naman" or "May gamot naman eh" to our issues of diabetes, high-blood pressure and heart ailments. As for money concerns, the mothers who usually handle the budget will find a way to make do with what they have and prepare something special at least in keeping with the occasion---or with the neighbors.

Each family has its "staple" that manages to be made each year. Its become the trademarked specialty of a mother, aunt, lola or some other relative. Remember mother's lengua? How about an uncle's lechon de leche or how ate makes the ubiquitous fruit salad (ugh! Coconut meat shreds and fruit cocktail DROWNING in a sea of overly-sweet cream and evaporated milk! And there's like three barrels of it for all to enjoy 'til the new year! Susmaryosep!). This however is the stuff memories are made of.

In our family, it was the inescapable potato salad. It was always there. Some years it was good, some years it was with too much mayonnaise (ugh again!). That was my yearly designation. Not the usual fare found in the traditional menu I know, but I believe it was the influence of a maternal grandfather who served as Chief Steward for the US Navy. Potatoes boiled and diced, macaroni and your choice of various add-ons like quail eggs or ham bits all mixed together in a moderate amount of mayo and salt and pepper to taste. I add a dash of herb like basil or oregano sometimes. You're a heretic if you try to put pineapple, raisins, cheese or any kind of brightly-colored gelatin thing in there. This is POTATO salad which should rightfully be the highlight, not the schizophrenic mixed-with-fruit-version I see in others.

This year I'm planning to have a less conventional menu that's geared to be more health friendly. I plan to include Japanese sushi to the menu. Healthy, filling and delicious and not nakakasawa and heavy in the belly like meat dishes. I know there are ready made sets out in the larger supermarkets like Rustan's or take-out from Japanese restaurants to take the effort off. I've never made any so I simply refuse to experiment and would rather buy better prepared ones so as not to mess-up the planned feast.

In case though you're interested in making your own I put a link below for the recipe. Better if you have a bamboo mat to roll the rice and nori in. Works best with wasabi in your soy sauce. Scrambled eggs, cucumber, kani or crab sticks are standard but you can add lettuce, green onion, shrimp, tofu, salmon, bacon or luncheon meat for variety -

Next is Arroz ala Cubana. Too common you say? Not to me, it's like a more upscale version of the giniling dish we have everyday. Unhealthy? Well I substitute ground chicken for the beef or pork. They sell at Magnolia Chicken stations in supermarkets. For a bit of zing to the taste, I'll add julienned siling labuyo with the seeds removed of course. I'll skip the saging na saba that accompanies it though.

The third, I'd want fish. Escabeche would be nice. Labahita or even large tilapia in some marinade then fried or grilled is good.

For the veggie side, I wanna add a green salad with dressing or Chinese fresh lumpia to the menu. The coriander (wansuy) really does give it a distinct flavor from the Filipino version and the crushed nuts make it more yummy.

Those are my planned contributions to the Christmas dinner table. I'm sure there will be others offered by the rest of the family. I know mine will be a hit though!

Of course the potato salad will still be there.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

On Contentment

"Contentment is a quality found only among the gods. Why? Because they have cursed man to constantly better himself."

Friday, November 14, 2008

It's That (Vulnerable) Season Again

Ok the blessed season of Christmas is almost with us again. It's also the time when money, no matter how tough the times are, flows freely with all the bonuses and spendings going on.

Unfortunately criminals or those that feel disadvantaged out there know this too and take advantage of it. They may even be bolder or more daring now. Don't think because you're in a crowd or with many people means you're safe already.

Some simple reminders:

1. Do a self-check before going out. Look for jewelry, accessories, gadgets or exposed items that could look attractive to the bad guys.

2. Busy and pre-occupied shoppers in malls, tiangges and market places are prime targets. Be especially vigilant and not too trusting with anyone. They may sometimes pretend to be part of the sales staff or crew (an M.O. of some groups like the Salisi Gang). Some use taxi's as well for their accomplices to "crowd" a victim.

3. Aside from who their intended victim is, they go when and where the money is. Some know when payday is and withdrawing money from ATM's has always been a favorite spot for them to select their prey. It's better if you can withdraw over-the-counter before the Christmas rush as well since sometimes ATM's run out of money because of too many withdrawals during this busy season.

4. TRUST YOUR GUT. When your intuition or that "little voice" inside you is pestering you that something is wrong, heed it! It comes in many forms; a taxi driver that looks suspicious or something doesn't feel right about his cab, a smiling stranger that suddenly appears offering to help carry your baggages, a feeling of being stalked or followed, etc.

5. If you do happen to become a victim and have thankfully come away unharmed, at least have a good look at him/her/them or take note of their appearance so you could offer a good description to the police afterwards.

Take note, be aware, be careful. Recognize your POV's.

Ingat kayo ngayong pasko! BE SAFE!

FMA Weapon Transition Skill

Nice "flow mechanics" from this high-level Pekiti Tirsia practitioner from the States.

Looking Foward To This One: The Spirit

I grew up with American comics (my icon is actually DC Comics' Zauriel, [*UPDATE - See below] a guardian angel turned super hero from the Eagle Host, one of the 4 main groups of heaven's army ). As a kid growing up, they were a major influence in my learning English, things about the USA as well as a myriad of topics from pop-culture to history to science. Not only are they entertaining, they're intellectually engaging too. Admittedly I moved on to other interests and haven't been keeping abreast with them for the past decade or so. This interest later on made me delve into classical mythology.

Those that have been made into movies, IMHO, fall into several translations; classic (Superman - Christopher Reeve era), decent (Spawn), well-made (300, Iron Man and Batman - Christian Bale lead/Christopher Nolan directed) and just flat-out laughable and a disgusting waste of your time and money making you wish a slow and painful death to director Joel Schumacher (Batman and Robin)!

There are two upcoming ones though that's really making me go nuts with excitement: Watchmen sometime early 2009 which I'll tackle later and The Spirit this Christmas!

The Spirit's first trailer -

Then the second "babe" trailer -

Sweet huh? It's gonna have a Sin City and 300 graphic-genre feel to it!

The Spirit was created by the late Will Eisner in 1940. He was known to have introduced certain innovations in comics - i.e. drawing figures outside or without "the box" format making the characters and overall theme more organic - and was one of those that evolved the medium as a graphic novel through the seminal work A Contract with God and Other Tenement Stories.

*As of 11/10/08, an icon change in effect.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Our Little Friends Are Missing

When I was a kid, I used to run around and capture dragonflies especially in the summer when there would be swarms of them flying about. At that time, they were so plentiful that you could chase after them swinging with a stick and you're bound to knock one down. We preferred catching the mid-sized green ones and in catching them by hand, two "methods" were usually employed; one was the swinging grab technique which was very inaccurate and caused you to squish the poor bug. The other was the grab the tail/wings from behind approach which I preferred because chances of catching one was high and less damaging to the insect. It was a more refined move that required patience, finesse and stalking ability though. Good memories.

Past forward to my college years in the 90's. It seemed to be that they became less and less as the years and seasons passed. Now I DARE ask you, have you seen them in swarms lately? In fact when was the last time you saw one?

I then read something disturbingly similar to another insect - the bee or bubuyog to us locals. Recently, scientists are studying reports from around the world that entire bee populations are actually disappearing and they don't know why! There are a lot of theories trying to explain this phenomenon but so far none have been conclusive. They call it Colony Collapse Disorder.

If you've seen the recent Shyamalan film The Happening, at the beginning there is a statement there "attributed to Albert Einstein" (unverified though) that says: "If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left".

The links below provide more info -


Here's a site that proposes to have identified the problem. Personally, I'm skeptical but it does merit further looking into -

If we stop to consider though and remember the tired old truth which we take for granted that everything in this world is connected, that there is indeed a balance to the existence of all creatures great and small, it shouldn't really surprise us. No bees, no pollination. No pollination, no plants. No plants? Well it gets really scary from here with the domino effect - the herbivore animals suffer and dwindle and thus affecting the larger animals that feed on them, this affects their patterns of grazing/living and migration. This puts pressure and unnecessary competition on the populations of species. The conversion of O2 and CO2 is affected, the excess CO2 is trapped in the atmosphere causing the earth's climate to heat up. . . well, you get the idea. . .

I may sound like an eco-alarmist but what I am sure of is that WE (man) have had a hand in this somehow. We've forgotten that WE are not the owners or masters of the earth to do with it for our own ends. WE are just part of it. And yes, I believe in the old saying that "we are only borrowing it from our children".

Let's all help in being GREEN!

R.I.P. Michael Crichton

I like to read and have a small collection of books. However, rarely do I read novels. I guess I don't have the patience to sustain my interest to read at length.

That being said, back in '97 when I read the cover of Eaters of the Dead at a National Bookstore, I was intrigued and I felt I just had to buy it. The plus was it wasn't even that long. I wasn't mistaken, "Eaters" turned out to be one of the best books I've ever read which later became the movie The Thirteenth Warrior (a good movie though like many translations to film, a lot of things were lost. Go read the book!).

I once saw him in an interview on TV once looking every inch like a respectable academic and very tall (6'9")! Among his other famous works are The Andromeda Strain, Jurassic Park, and part of the creators of the TV series ER.

Doctor, surgeon, successful writer and great story teller. He will indeed be missed.

Click the link below for more info -

The 10 Power Foods

Was glad to know that two of my faves are included: spinach and salmon!

Whether pan fried with some lemon/herbs and butter, in maki, sushi or in our very own sinigang broth or even straight from the can, I LOOOOVE salmon! The link below.

"The Big 3"

Do you feel anything about such a place or location?
Listening to it could save you from harm!

It's the coolest thing in the world for me to be able teach those who would listen how to defend themselves. It's not about the "techniques" of martial arts, the tough macho attitude some guys project or the feeling of being "safe" leading to complacency out there. All these could get us into serious trouble. It's about not letting ourselves get sucked into something untoward. That means living a healthy and decent lifestyle and listening to our "gut" (intuition or kutob for us here locally), our primal survival and early warning device, when it goes off to warn us beforehand. Everything becomes academic if we're already in such an unwanted predicament.

Put simply, these are The 3 Commandments of Functional Self-Defense which we could all live by:

1. Don't be there! There are certain times and places you must never allow yourself to be in. Period. Never allow yourself to be in such a situation.

2. Get out of there! If you happen to have the bad luck of being caught in a bad situation, don't lose your head! Create as much time, space or distance away from your attacker/s in order to seize an opportunity to remove yourself there.

3. Do everything you can to get out of there! If things turn critical, then by all means punch, kick, scratch, elbow, bite, scream and use anything within arms reach you could turn as weapon on your attackers with everything you've got so you could escape from there.

An ounce of prevention is definitely worth more than a pound of cure in this case. Remember: your priority is surviving and getting home as safe with as little damage or injury as possible.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Great TV Series: Millenium

"This is who we are"

Boy am I stoked! Just visited my suki DVD seller after a long spell and what did I stumble upon? Not just one but the entire three seasons of one of my fave shows on TV: Millennium!

Back in 1996, the same creator of "X-Files" (another fave which I also happen to have) Chris Carter, introduced this dark and brooding series led by Lance Henriksen as Frank Black, an investigator and forensic psychologist/profiler who has this "gift" of being able to psychically put himself into the mind a killer which aids him to get the bad guy. He was then tapped as a consultant by the "Millenium Group", a mysterious group of fellow ex-law enforcement professionals that's also supposed to be centuries-old. It touches on the paranormal as well since Frank and the rest of the group not only tackle regular criminals but supernatural forces as well. They believe their battle with evil is also preparation for the "end times" of the Apocalypse too.

If you wanna know more, here's a Wikipedia entry with some links below -

Lance Henriksen also had an adventurous and hard life growing-up. You could see and feel this by how intense he is on screen. IMHO, he is one of those under-appreciated actors whose artistic talents also include painting and pottery making in real life.

BTW, the "Millenium Group" in the series was modeled after a real forensic behavioral science firm, The Academy Group, Inc. made up of former law-enforcement professionals who provide consulting, research and training services in the area of criminal behavior. Among their staff is well-known former FBI Special Agent and the pioneer of profiling sexual predators Robert R. Hazelwood.

Given my psychology background, I would've liked to have worked for such a company. Here's a link to their site -

Ok enough. Gotta go watch!

Sunday, November 2, 2008


(Note: Edited to accommodate a recent entry)

If you grew up in the Philippines, chances are like me you were brought-up Roman Catholic and according to some (it is said the French think so) we are the most rabid kind!

I'd like to talk about though what I remember though from the religion classes we were taught in school on "the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit". Ok, don't ask me what they all are off the top of my head. I can't give you an answer without having to "cheat" and look for them on Google!

That being said, I'd like to talk about one of them: the sense of joy.

What is joy? Well the simple man-on-the-street answer is that it is like happiness but of a greater kind. There is a sense of profoundness about joy as opposed to just plain being "happy". The thing about happiness though is that it is for itself alone. It is limited and self-centered. We can be happy for the wrong reasons can't we? Like when we see an enemy's defeat or someone whom we dislike suffer a misfortune. We can be happy only for ourselves and not share it with others. We can derive happiness from "substances" and abuses of the body too, but these are only temporary.

Joy however isn't concern with the "self". It is a genuine feeling that begets goodness and encourages it. It wants to be shared and passed on to others. It is deep and attaches itself to the soul and not just the fleeting moments of selfish motives. Thus, it is long-lasting and sustains us.

This is the real essence of joy. In his greatness, the Supreme Being shared this with us deep, transcendental feeling.

As Michael V. sang on a dish washing liquid commercial on TV: "I've got Joy deep in my heart! Deep, deep, down in my heart! . . ."

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Maestro Ireneo "Eric" Olavides of Eskrima de Campo JDC-IO

A bit grainy but the motion and the speed are still there.

A Short Introduction

Kamusta po and welcome to my blog!

First off, I'm still new to this whole blogging thing and still feeling my way around.

If you've accidentally stumbled on to this site, it will feature stuff, ideas, techniques I find worthwhile as well as my personal passions and opinions. Initially they will cover the following topics: Martial Arts, Tactics and Functional Self Defense, Gadgets and Gear, Knives, Fitness and Wellness, First Aid and Emergency Management (FAEM), Faith and Spirit, Paranormal and Hyper-Science, Outdoors and Survival, Jokes and Humor, Quotes, Earth Matters and of course the good stuff: Books, Travel, TV/Movies and Food! More will be added or deleted if and when the life of this blog deems it.

The photographs or other materials that will be posted here are not meant to infringe on the copyright of the original owner/s and shall be acknowledged or redirected to their original sites or sources whenever possible.

I hope you enjoy the site and find good info here. Maraming salamat po!