Tropang Gutom: A year of fellowship, food, and everything fun

Last January 31, Tropang Gutom turns a year old. Somehow I feel like we have been together much longer than that. I have known Mia and Cel since 2002 when the three of us first joined the SMCM high school faculty of which Ma’am Noems has been a member since forever hehe. Badong and I were among the first batch of ISO internal auditor trainees. Benjie was my fellow first year adviser when I was a substitute teacher for Miss Javier. I would see Vhong, Rheena, Ele, and Marianne around whenever I came to SMCM to visit during the period I was not teaching there and when I rejoined the school from 2011 to 2014. Actually, TG has been formed before I became part of it, but our love for food and adventure has forged our bond. Though there are times that some members (read: me) would miss meetings (aka food trips haha), TG keeps everyone updated through Facebook.

In 2015, TG embarked on two major adventure: a camping trip to Nagsasa in Zambales in April and a nature trip in Baler, Aurora (which I have yet to write about, sigh) in November. With TG, planning a trip is as much fun as the trip itself. No stones would be left unturned; hence, the numerous meetings held. Just imagine the amount of calories consumed in all those meetings lol.

To Tropang Gutom, because our kind of hunger leads to happiness, may we always be hungry for the next adventure.

We are Tropang Gutom and we are hungry for the next adventure!
We are Tropang Gutom and we are hungry for the next adventure!

Take a feels trip with The CompanY’s Nostalgia

This 2016, I am turning 40, to which I attribute my frequent bouts of nostalgia. Seeing a boxful of old cards and letters, watching old films or a new film based on an old one (Star Wars The Force Awakens, yeah!), hearing old songs on the radio, they just bring, you know… So. Much. Feels.

Among the songs that never fail to make me nostalgic are those of The CompanY, their “Everlasting Love” particularly so. I was a high school freshman when it came out and I remember my classmate Claire giving me a copy of its lyrics. I remember listening to The CompanY’s album on my cassette player.

Isn’t the album design neat? 🙂

Listening to The CompanY’s 25th album, aptly titled Nostalgia, is a feels trip. The opening track “Times of Your Life” takes me back to second year high school and makes me remember my Values Ed teacher and class adviser Ma’am Tina Romano. Most of the songs are actually older than I am, but I am familiar with them because of Sunday radio shows, the kind my parents listen to haha! My favorites are the mouthful “Waters of March” and the very emotional Jose Mari Chan classic “Here and Now.” Confession: I really thought that the song whose first line goes “A stick, a stone, it’s the end of the load” was originally a commercial jingle for a local shopping center. Thanks to The CompanY, now I know it’s based on the Brazilian song “Aguas de Marco” composed by Antonio Carlos Jobim.

The CompanY is turning 31, and they are still bringing on the vocals and touching people with their music. I’m just happy that I finally got to see them perform live and even meet and greet them after their show at the Shang last January 24.

In good company (sorry, couldn’t resist haha!)

Because I have yet to find the person I would want to sing “Everlasting Love” to, I will sing it along with The CompanY whenever I hear it on the radio. (Also, I can sing along to the songs in Nostalgia as it includes minus one of the whole album. Awesome, right?)

SMCM at 100: Random thoughts of a Marian teacher

Since becoming a teacher, I have worn many school colors. Understandably, I would always identify myself primarily as a Fighting Maroon (although the university hymn says luntian at pula) but wherever I teach, I proudly wear the school colors. This 2016, aside from gold and green, I wear blue for St. Mary’s College of Meycauayan (SMCM) for the third time.

St. Mary’s College of Meycauayan (formerly St. Mary’s Academy) in City of Meycauayan, Bulacan turns 100 this 2016.

The first time was in 2002. I was a late addition to the highschool faculty as classes had already started when I joined to replace a member who decided to teach in a public school instead. I must admit that it felt a bit strange to be teaching in the school I had considered to be my high school’s rival. Obviously, I had some preconceived ideas about Marian students. Those would of course change over the course of my stay at SMCM. Marians would be among my closest friends, fangirling buddies, and travel and foodtrip companions. My first year of teaching at SMCM was not exactly a walk in the park but it was a memorable one. For one thing, as a young teacher at that time, I felt supported, valued, and loved. I would stay another year, and even when I decided to take a break from teaching to pursue another path, I came back for a few weeks as a substitute teacher in 2005.

The second time was in 2011. SMCM was the first to give me an opportunity to teach in the college level. Now I have former students who are members of the Integrated Basic Education (IBEd) faculty. Seeing them in the school never fails to make me smile.

I am just happy to be back for the third time since November 2015 on time for the centennial celebration this year. Now I declare myself a centennial junkie haha! Kidding aside, I think I will always think of SMCM as more than a school. To me, SMCM is like home. It is like my old neighborhood, always warm and familiar. This is why I am looking forward to see other Marians and Marians at heart to come home and celebrate 100 years of faith, service, and excellence with us. See you February 8 to 13 Marians!

SMCM at 100: A Centennial of Faith, Service, and Excellence



SM x Chan Lim: Ushering in A New Light of Prosperity

Over 100 Chinese paintings on lanterns by the Chan Lim Family of Artists and Students are on exhibit at The Block Atrium until February 11. The exhibit launch held last January 24 kicked off SM City North EDSA’s Chinese New Year celebration.


Meeting and learning from the master: Alex Chan Lim

Before the exhibit was formally opened to the public, there was a Q&A with and an on-the-spot demonstration by Alex Chan Lim. Like his siblings Felix, Rolex, and Jolex, Alex is an engineer by profession, but he has kept painting since he was 11 years old. The name Chan Lim is formed by combining the last names of the siblings’ parents. The family patriarch, whose real name is Jose but signs as Chan Lim, has dabbled in Western art, specializing in oil and watercolor.


Alex Chan Lim finishing his Chinese painting on rice paper.

The Chan Lim family of artists have conducted numerous art classes, workshops, and on-the-spot demonstrations, and have joined several art exhibits locally and internationally. To date, they have held 14 family exhibits.

Experiencing Chinese painting

I have always been interested in Chinese painting but never gotten around to attending a workshop until yesterday. The Chan Lim Family of artists and students helped us participants set up the materials (paper, Chinese brush, ink, water) and patiently guided us in making our first brush strokes.

This is me with Chan Lim painting student Ma’am Linda who became my teacher for the day 🙂


More activities to celebrate the Year of the Monkey at SM City North EDSA

Aside from wishing all its visitors a bright future with the grand collection of beautiful hand-painted lanterns at The Block Atrium, SM City North EDSA has lined up other exciting activities in celebration of the Chinese New Year:

  • Oriental Culture Market, February 2 to 15, mall hours, City Center East and West Mall 2nd Floor
  • Astrological Forecast with Marites Allen, February 7, 5 PM, The Block Atrium
  • Golds of Fortune, January 24 to February 11, The Block Ground Floor and the Annex Ground Floor
  • Oriental Classics, January 31, 5 PM, The Block Atrium
  • Chinese Wushu Arts, January 31, 5 PM, The Block Atrium
  • Chinese Arts in Letters Calligraphy Workshop, February 6, 2 PM, The Block Atrium
  • Chinese Court & Folk Dances, February 8, 2 PM, The Block Atrium


Thoughts on KCON2015 I’m Coming Home

Back from blogging hiatus! 🙂

I’m writing this on a Thursday, November 25, a week after the KCON 2015 was supposed to have started. Originally, my plan was to participate on Thursday, then have my friend Ku attend on Friday and Saturday because I couldn’t take a leave from work, and then come to the Grand Feast. Due to APEC road blockage, however, the four-day event was shortened to two days—21 and 22—with the Thursday activities moved to Saturday and Friday activities to Sunday morning. Though I could only attend the Grand Feast on Sunday afternoon, it felt like I have really come home.

I have been a Kerygma reader since 1993 when my second year HS adviser gifted me with a subscription for my graduation. I renewed that subscription, but stopped after some time. In 2000, I met a Kerygma shepherd during one of my daily commute to the office. That shepherd eventually became my soul sister. Ate Mhean introduced me to the Light of Jesus Family, and invited me to my first Feast in Camp Aguinaldo.

Though I haven’t been attending as consistently as I did back then, LOJ is indeed like family—warm and welcoming. There were thousands of attendees, all friendly faces. Like home, there is something very comforting with the old and familiar (although there were also many new things). Because I came late, I was expecting a general admission ticket but a member gave me his upper box ticket (Salamat, Kuya!)

The messages were all moving—from the homily to Bro. Justin Fatica’s “You’re amazing!” reminder, from Bro. Alvin Barcelona’s thoughts on coming home based on the Parable of the Prodigal Son to the reps (Bro. Eng Si, Bro. Jon Escoto, and Bro. Velden Lim) of the three generations of Feast Builders’, and Bro. Bo’s “You already have it!” I got all the affirmation I ever needed to overcome the challenges I am facing, and for that I am immensely grateful.


Championing creators and users: The Korea-Philippines Copyright Forum 2015 on Fair Use

Resource speakers respond to queries during the Open Forum at the 2015 Korea-Philippines Copyright Forum on Fair Use last June 25 at F1 Hotel, BGC, Taguig City.

More than a hundred participants of the 2015 Korea-Philippines Copyright Forum have learned about Copyright and Fair Use in Korea and the Philippines from distinguished resource speakers. Organized by the Korea Copyright Commission (KCC) and hosted by the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) and the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism (MCST) of South Korea, the forum was well attended by academic personnel, students, researchers, IT service providers, and bloggers last June 25 at the F1 Hotel Infinity Hall, BGC, Taguig City.

Senior Deputy Director Sung-Woon Hong of the Copyright Division Policy, MCST, gave the opening address while the welcome address was given by IPOPHL DG/OIC DDG Allan B. Gepty. Ambassador Jae-Shin Kim of the Embassy of Republic of Korea in the Philippines and Chairman Seung-Jong Oh of the Korea Copyright Commission congratulated the organizers, hosts, and participants of the forum.

The talks were divided into three topics: (1) current enforcement status regarding fair use in copyright and the policies of the two countries; (2) fair use of copyright works in the digital environment; and (3) current activation plan for use of copyright of the two parties in the digital era.

Under the first topic, Mr. Hyun-Wook Jung of of the Copyright Industry Division, MCST, gave an Introduction to Legal System for Copyright Use in Korea. He shared about KOGL, which is a set of licensing marks that helps the public to easily understand the condition of use when they attempt to exploit the works created by public institutions. The goal of KOGL is to realize a creative economy in Korea by establishing the basis for free use of the public works.

Mr. Hyun-Wook Jung and his Introduction to Legal System for Copyright Use in Korea
Mr. Hyun-Wook Jung talks about the legal system for copyright use in Korea.

Atty. Mark Herin of the Office of the Director General, IPOPHL, gave the counterpart talk on the Introduction to Legal System for Copyright Fair Use in the Philippines. He emphasized the four factors to be considered in determining fair use as stipulated in Section 185 of the IP Code (Fair Use of a Copyrighted Work).

Atty. Mark C. Herin and his Introduction to Legal System for Copyright Fair Use in the PH
Atty. Mark C. Herin defines copyright during his talk on Introduction to Legal System for Copyright Fair Use in the PH.

For the second topic, Ms. Soohyun Pae, Asia Pacific Regional Coordinator of Creative Commons, talked about the Development of Internet Service and Fair Use of Copyright Works. She shared how civic communities, public offices, and institutes have collaborated on various projects to promote the reuse of data, knowledge, and content in Korea, and how Creative Commons Korea plays a role in promoting open knowledge and creativity in Korea.

Ms. Soohyun Pae shares about Open Knowledge and Creativity in Korea.
Ms. Soohyun Pae shares about Open Knowledge and Creativity in Korea.

Associate Professor of the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law Atty. JJ Disini talked about Fair Use Issues in the Commercial Sector.

Atty. JJ Disini discusses Fair Use Trends.
Atty. JJ Disini discusses Fair Use Trends during his talk on Fair Use Issues in the Commercial Sector.

For the third topic, Mr. Chul Nam Lee drew analogies from culture and the cultural industry (Kpop and traditional Korean music) when he talked about Copyright Protection and Fair Use In View of Technology, Market, and Institution.

Mr. Chul Nam Lee discusses Copyright Protection and Fair Use In View of Technology, Market, and Institution.

Atty. Aileen V. Sicat drew from her experiences as a professor in the College of Law of the Lyceum of the Philippines for her talk on Issues and Challenges Regarding Copyright and Fair Use in the Academic Sector.

Atty. Aileen V. Sicat discusses Issues and Challenges Regarding Copyright and Fair Use in the Academic Sector.
Atty. Aileen V. Sicat discusses Issues and Challenges Regarding Copyright and Fair Use in the Academic Sector.

After the talks, the resource speakers responded to the participants’ questions on copyright and fair use.

My Osaka-Kyoto-Tokyo trip in retrospect: Lakad-kain-lakad in Osaka Day 2

Day 2 Osaka by day (and night again)

We had an early start by eating breakfast in the same restaurant we had dinner in the previous night (Hai, it was that good!).

Day 2 Breakfast in Osaka
Day 2 Breakfast in Osaka

First stop: Tsutenkaku

After breakfast, we walked to see the Tsutenkaku, which takes approximately 10 minutes walking time from the Shin-Imamiya Station. It was still early so there were not many people around. We did not go to the observation deck so I have no idea how much the admission fee is.


A popular Tsutenkaku souvenir is anything Billiken-san, such as figures, lotto ticket wallets, and cakes. Billiken-san is their God of Luck and is just one of the Eight Deities of Good Fortune. I did not buy any but I had a picture taken beside a huge Billiken-san figure in the area. We returned to Hotel Taiyo to look for our next place of stay, which would turn out to be a challenge for us. But in the course of looking for La Maison, we were able to explore our accidental second stop.

Second stop: Naniwa Palace

Naniwa-no-miya Palace Site
Naniwa-no-miya Palace Site

The Naniwa-no-miya Palace Site marker reads:

The Naniwa-no-miya Palace was situated around this site between 645 and 743 A.D. Not much was known about the palace until the archaeological discovery of fragments of SHIBI (ornamental fish-shaped ridge-end tiles) in 1953. The excavations confirmed the structure of the Main Palace, the Imperial Office and other governmental buildings. This site, covering a total area of 90,667 square meters, is designated as an important national historical site.

Third stop: Osaka Castle

A trip to Osaka would not be complete without checking out the Osaka Castle, one of the most famous landmarks of Japan. The Osaka Castle Museum is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (last admission at 4:30 pm). Admission is JPY600 for adults and free for 15 years old and under.

Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle

Fourth stop: Shitennoji 

After a palace and a castle, we went to a temple. Shitennoji is one of Japan’s oldest temples. In fact it is the oldest state temple. Because we missed the last admission (we got there late in the afternoon), we were not able to see the Gokuraku-jodo Garden and the Treasure House. We explored the grounds instead.


Fifth stop: Dotonbori

Dotonbori is a lively place where there are numerous restaurants, shops, and amusement facilities. This is where one can sample the very popular Osaka takoyaki and okonomiyaki. Walking through Dotonbori is such a sensory experience. Busog na busog ang mga mata, and if one has the budget to try all the food being sold there, mabubusog talaga. But we were still going to Kyoto and Tokyo, so we had to spend wisely.

Colorful signages in Dotonbori
Dotonbori is livelier at night.

We did our initial omiyage shopping at Don Quijote, one of the biggest discount shops in Japan. We were going to Kyoto the next day so as much as we enjoyed being at Dotonbori, we had to go back to the hostel to pack.