Tuesday, 27 March 2012

jsncruz.com

Hi! Thank you for visiting my blog.
I have moved on to a new website - far more exciting and reader-friendly.
I hope to see you there!

jsncruz.com

Thursday, 15 March 2012

The Lounge at 7th High

It's TGIF-mode for you and friends. Where to go?

When you're in the mood for a classy and music-filled chill night-out with friends, why not spend it at
The Lounge at 7th High?

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

The Lounge at 7th High - Full Menu

The menu of The Lounge at 7th High.

Know the Difference: Energy Drinks and Sports Drinks

The fitness scene has been quickly and steadily growing in the Philippines. One of the effects of this trend is the increasing interest of people in learning how to maintain and improve on their personal goals, be it weight-loss or strength-building. A keystone in the pillar of fitness is, of course, proper hydration. This article aims to explain the difference between the two, and which one is better than the other for specific activities.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Wisdom in Four Words

Wise advice need not be long, complicated, and draggy. Sometimes, the best things come in small sizes, and wisdom in four words stand testament to that. Here are my favorites.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Friday, 9 March 2012

Banrock Station Merlot

A review on the Banrock Station Merlot.
Banrock Station Merlot, '09.

Unilab Active Health - Run United Trilogy Leg 1

It was a great experience to be invited again to lead the warm-up at yet another prestigious event last March 4. I met some great and inspiring people, and I saw first-hand too the admirable large-scale organization that RunRio Events are known for.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Presidential Car - 3 Reasons Why PNoy Deserves a New Car

For the past few days, the debated issue of giving Philippine President Benigno "NoyNoy" Aquino III (or PNoy as he is affectionately known) a new presidential car has been gaining quite a bit of heat from many fellow Filipinos. Granted, any significant expense for a public official automatically raises eyebrows here in the Philippines (who can blame them?) but here is my rundown of reasons why it is perfectly alright to grant PNoy his new presidential car.

President NoyNoy Aquino, probably wondering Y U NO approve his new car.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Healthy Eating Plate

Say goodbye to the traditional (and imbalanced!) food pyramid.

Harvard University released what I believe is the more balanced and much healthier approach to food portions throughout the day. The classic pyramid puts in too much carbohydrates in the body (and here in the Philippines, this only means high-G.I. index carb sources such as white rice and white bread), and not enough good fats to satiate appetite. Also, I'm a big fish protein fiend, and this new chart emphasizes that a little more. The Harvard Healthy Eating Plate properly portions - and explains - why each section is as large (or small) as it is.

The way to eat.

Don't forget to share!

Image and information on the Harvard Healthy Eating Plate from Harvard Medical School.
For more information on the Glycemic Index, visit University of Sydney.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

MTBO Bible Run 2012 - Result and Opinion

I opened up my March running calendar with an easy 5k at the May They Be One (MTBO) Bible Run held at the Quirino Grandstand, Manila. It was a packed event, and in my opinion highlighted why organizations wishing to organize a run - even a fund-raising one - should really try to get professional events organizers to handle their races.

5k in 28:07, bib #2117

Skittlez Crew Total Body Conditioning Circuit

The current conditioning circuit I designed last month for my dance crew. 
Major focus on short-duration endurance, core strength and stability, and flexibility
Feel free to get for your personal use.

Running our way to be the fittest crew!

Warm-up
Brisk walking (2-3 minutes)

Cardio Conditioning
3km run (20 minutes max)

Strength Conditioning
Crab-walk pushups (1 minute, 2 sets per side)
  1. Assume the pushup position. 
  2. 'Walk' towards the left by bringing the right hand and right foot simultaneously towards the left hand and the left foot. 
  3. Now extend the left hand and the left foot to the left. You should be back at the pushup position once more. 
  4. Do one pushup. 
  5. Repeat from the beginning. 
  6. After the designated time/distance, rest 30 seconds and repeat going to the right.

Hand-walk with pushups and hamstring stretch (1 minute, 2 sets)
  1. Assume the hamstring stretch position (bend over and touch toes, keeping knees locked). 
  2. Slowly 'walk' the hands forward in a controlled motion until you read the pushup position. 
  3. Do one pushup. 
  4. 'Walk' your feet forward, keeping hands/fingers on the ground until you reach the hamstring stretch position once more. That's one repetition. Repeat for the designated time/distance.

Walking lunges (1 minute, 3 sets)
  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width. 
  2. In one controlled motion, lunge forward with the right leg. 
  3. Upon landing, the forward (right) leg should maintain a 90-degree angle; knees will not go past toes (do not lunge too far forward). Left knee should be 2-3 inches from the ground. 
  4. Push up with the right leg and lunge with the left leg. 
  5. Repeat for the designated time/distance. 

 Wheelbarrow carry (1 minute, 2 sets per position)
  1. Assume the pushup position. 
  2. A partner will lift your legs. Keep your core tight; body position should be as if doing a plank. 
  3. 'Walk' forward with your hands, keeping the core tight all the way for the designated time/distance. 
  4. For the next set, assume the role of carrier, lifting partner's legs this time. Throughout this part, keep your chest out and your back stable.

Cooldown Jog
2km (14 minutes max)

Monday, 5 March 2012

Green Day

On March 7, 2012, join the Lasallian community as we celebrate Green Day, when we countdown one hundred days to De La Salle University's centennial year celebrations on June 16, 2012.

Download the posters below (courtesy of De La Salle Philippines) and use them on your blog, social network profiles, or even print them out and use them as cards!
Different Shades of Green

Never Shall We Fail

Animo La Salle!

Friday, 2 March 2012

Nike Dual Fusion TR-II

The Nike Dual Fusion TR II is a great entry-level shoe for the budding running enthusiast. While by no means a pure running pair, the TR II is light enough to be comfortable even after 12 kilometers yet sturdy enough to handle different surfaces and remain stable.

Nike Dual Fusion TR-II

Cushioning
The TR II features a higher ride on the heel than on the forefoot, a feature common among many trainers. The cushioning is quite soft, providing comfort and safety especially since I was a heel-striker when I first acquired this pair. The transition to mid-foot running was smooth with this shoe, and there was no significant ‘thud’ when hitting the ground.

Stability
I have an injured ankle, so a pair with good stability is a must. This pair is alright for the most part, but I have experienced that on occasion – especially on unstable surfaces like gravel – it does not quite prevent my feet from ‘rolling’ outwards. However, for the weekend warrior who spends most of training and/or running sessions on the blacktop or the treadmill, this shoe is perfectly fine.

Aesthetics
Nike will always be producing handsome-looking kicks, and I appreciate the simple but functional design of the TR II. The pair comes with oval laces, which hold a knot quite securely; I have never experienced laces coming undone during a run. The tongue lays nicely flat top of the foot without excess material chafing the ankle. Also, the trademark triangular arch support on the TR II provides the necessary visual detail, in my opinion. It would have been preferable to have the ‘NIKE’ logo at the back of the shoe printed using reflective material instead of matte paint. Still, it is quite a good-looking pair.

Price
For under PHP 3,500, this is one of the better pairs out there on the market. Most specialty running shoe brands that carry everyday trainers still sell those trainers at comparatively steep prices, sometimes hitting the PHP 5,000 mark. For the price, the TR II is definitely a pair of kicks that can only be described as bang for the buck. You get a well-cushioned, comfortable pair that is versatile enough for indoor cardio sessions as well as 10k road races.

The Verdict
Well-cushioned, good-looking pair of shoes for a beginner runner that is affordable and durable. More experienced runners will require something better, but for anyone who runs less than 30 kilometers a week, this pair is well-worth the money. 

Image from MRR Sports, retrieved on March 2, 2012.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Psalm 46:10

I am just so inspired by this verse.
That is what the verse literally says, but it means something a lot more profound to me. I feel this is a great reminder for each and every one of us to occasionally kick back, close our eyes and just be.

A minute of conversation with Him daily does the soul good.

TOMS Shoes - Desert Botas

TOMS International just recently launched their Summer Collection in a press release which I was fortunate enough to be a part of, covering the event for When In Manila. Quite a pleasant surprise after when TOMS gave each of the three bloggers who attended a pair of shoes. Mine was a pair of TOMS Desert Botas.

For every pair you buy, TOMS gives one to a child in need. Truth.

The pair was TOMS take on the classic desert boot, that rugged and versatile footwear used by many military men in desert countries. I was given the dark brown pair.

Aesthetics
From the get-go, the boots (or as TOMS likes to call it, the 'botas') definitely look pretty rugged, albeit with a much thinner sole, giving it a sleek but utilitarian look. It's a simple pair, and it went perfect with a pair of jeans. My favorite detail about it though is the houndstooth detail on the inner lining. I thought that was classy.

Comfort
Since I wore the shoes to work today, I was expecting it to be a tad bit more comfortable than my regular leather shoes. I was wrong; it was WAY more comfortable, to a fault. This pair has a low ride on the heel (unlike most shoes) so it felt weird at first, but after about half an hour, they felt really good. The canvas upper was light and there was no restrictive feeling whatsoever in the toe-box. However, since I wasn't a fan of mid- to high-cut shoes, I had a little bit of discomfort from the edges of the botas rubbing against my ankle. Thankfully - and a great feature, may I add - the edges can be folded down solving the chafing problem in seconds, though this gave the shoes a much more casual look.

Cushioning
I dance and run, and it has become second nature to feel how much support a pair of shoes gave my feet. Even though the TOMS botas had a low ride, they felt well-cushioned enough for a serious amount of wear-time; in fact, they felt very comfortable even after work and walking along Jupiter Street, Makati earlier. The flat sole is something I personally like as well, though I don't suggest stepping on wet tile floors. The tread of this pair isn't designed to handle smooth and slick surfaces.

Oh yeah.

All in all, I love the pair, and they look awesome with your favorite jeans. Good enough for a casual workday or a weekend out, in my opinion. Also, it's interesting to note that TOMS International is serious on social responsibility; in fact, the TOMS One for One program gives a child in need a pair of shoes for every pair that you buy.

For more information on the TOMS Summer Collection Press Release, read my article on When In Manila.

How's that for a bargain.

Check out TOMS website for more items.

TOMS International - Manila Stores

A comprehensive list of TOMS retailers in Metro Manila.
Updated as of March 2012.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Comparative Review: Books vs e-Readers

It's the modern-day debate that has divided the classic 'nerd' camp into two: the old-school bookworms representing one side and the techie geeks on the other. The debate? Which is better, a classic book or an e-Reader?
Archaic artifact or old-school cool?

I will divide this post into sections, tackling the merits of each, as well as the disadvantages. I have strong opinions on this of course, having grown up loving reading more than any other activity. Which one is preferred by a reader totally depends on which factor is most important to the individual: access, convenience, and emotional value - what I call the 'A.C.E.' factors.

DLSU Employees' Workout Program

A twelve-week fitness program designed for staff and faculty members of De La Salle University.


Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Haters Gonna Hate - 3 Reasons Why Haters Are Good For You

Haters. This word has come to be understood as vaguely as 'people who don't like you' and as specifically as 'critics who don't have anything positive to say about a musician's music'. Whatever it is, it's an inescapable fact that - as the famous meme goes - haters gonna hate. While the ignore-rinse-repeat reaction is common (and safe) there may actually be a positive side to having haters (or being hated on).

It's good for you!

When in Manila: Running in Manila

My article, as featured on When in Manila.


Enjoy, and don't forget to share!

Monday, 27 February 2012

Taylors' Promised Land Shiraz

A review on Taylors' Shiraz, from the Promised Land collection.

Taylors' Promised Land Shiraz ('09)

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Kick the Habit 2 - Result and Discussion

The run against smoking concluded earlier today with a late morning start (as compared with other races) and an amazing personal experience.

10k in 1:01 hours, bib #1918

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Rivalry: Ateneo-La Salle Musical

"Rivalry" is a play that puts the famed blue-vs-green pissing contest between two of the top private universities in the Philippines on-stage in a musical.

Blue vs Green, since 1939.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Jean Moreau et Fils Syrah

A J. Moreau et Fils review on their Syrah vin de table. 

Jean Moreau et Fils Syrah ('07)

Notes:
This Syrah was deep red in color and its scents hinted of currants with slight hint of plum. A hint of spice was present too. For a Syrah, it was relatively on the sweeter side, and featured a good acidic balance. It was very slightly 'hot' on the palate, suggesting a high alcohol content. Medium-bodied wine. Soft tannins, but still noticeable. Short finish with slightly peppery aftertaste.

  • Winery - Jean Moreau et Fils
  • Country - France
  • Region - Languedoc-Roussillon
  • Vintage - 2007
  • Varietal - Syrah (mostly)
  • Price - Approximately PHP 400.00 ($10.00) per bottle.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Fortant de France Skalli Cabernet-Sauvignon

A Fortant de France review.

Fortant de France Skalli Cabernet-Sauvignon ('09)

Notes:
The wine had a deep red color. It had a delicious, fruity aroma that hinted of red fruits, berries in particular. A little on the sweet and mellow side. Well-balanced and fresh-tasting. Very easy to drink, with noticeable fruity undertones. Light-bodied. Noticeable tannin but not distracting. Light and short finish, with fruity aftertaste. Delicious with light cheese.

  • Winery - Fortant de France (crafted by Skalli)
  • Country - France
  • Region - Languedoc-Roussillon
  • Vintage - 2009
  • Varietal - Cabernet-Sauvignon
  • Price - Approximately PHP 400.00 ($10.00) per bottle.

Montes Alpha Cabernet-Sauvignon

A Montes Alpha review.

Montes Alpha Cabernet-Sauvignon ('09)

Notes:
The wine had a deep red color. Its aroma had a very fruity character that reminded of dark berries and currants. It had good acidity and tasted fresh. Well-balanced wine, but I found it a little strong. Very full-bodied with good consistency. Pronounced tannins. It had a full, satisfying finish albeit a little hot.

  • Winery - Montes Alpha
  • Country - Chile
  • Region - Valle Colchagua
  • Vintage - 2009
  • Varietal - Cabernet-Sauvignon
  • Price - Approximately PHP 1,200.00 ($30.00) per bottle.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Lindeman's Bin 50 Shiraz

For the inaugural post in this label, I would like to feature my current favorite Shiraz, the Lindeman's Bin 50, from the 2008 vintage.

Lindeman's Bin 50 Shiraz ('08)

Notes:
The wine had a very deep, ruby color. The aroma reminded me of currants and dark berries. Good acidity balance and very fresh taste. It was a very balanced wine, with noticeable peppery flavor and sensation. Medium-bodied. Pronounced tannins, but noticeable in a good way. Good finish, and provided a spicy aftertaste and finish.

  • Winery - Lindeman's
  • Country - Australia
  • Region - Southeast
  • Vintage - 2008
  • Varietal - Shiraz
  • Price - Approximately PHP 600.00 ($15.00) per bottle

Friday, 17 February 2012

Wines

Introducing a new post label/category!

I've been drinking wine on and off for the past 14 years or so (my first sip was at age 10) and early last year, I decided to make this a hobby. It hasn't been easy - nor cheap - but the education, information, and sheer enjoyment I've been getting from this is amazing.

As of Nov/Dec 2011.

Here's to the amateur wine lover that is me! :) I hope to share whatever I know with all you fellow wine lovers out there!

DLSU UnivWeek 2012

Today is the day! Wear our school colors GREEN and WHITE proudly today, February 17, for the culminating party and concert of University Week 2012!

Green is More Fun in DLSU!

Join us as we celebrate our Centennial University Week today.
We have food stalls and apparel shops at Yuchengco Hall Lobby, Central Plaza, and SJ Walk, and Miguel Walk! Indulge, shop, and have a blast, the Lasallian way!
Party and concert begins 5pm onwards. Entrance is free for all Lasallians.

Photo by Andrew Pamorada.
"Wear Green" poster by the DLSU University Student Government.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Thankful

It has been one of the roughest periods of my life, the past few months.

Now, at least, some semblance of things looking up for the better.

Thank you to the people who have been there for and with me every step of the way.
God, PJ, my parents, Skittlez, PJ's dad, and my adopted Lizada family.

And so my favorite Bible verse says:
"I thank my God every time I remember you" - Philippians 1:3

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Remember that this isn't just a day for couples or ones with significant others; it's also a celebration of love itself, and the love we can share to and with just about anyone.

Take some time to show love especially to the ones we most overlook - our families :)

All that matters.

Have a good Valentine's! :)

Image from We Heart It, retrieved on February 14, 2012.

Friday, 10 February 2012

The Street Food Guide

They're cheap, they're accessible, and they're in every street corner.

No, 'they' do not happen to be illegal entertainment. 'They' are Filipino street food, the ubiquitous feature on virtually every street in Manila. They are inherently popular due to being cheap and quick snacks - in quantities, even meals! - and one may be lucky enough to find a place that serves really delicious servings. However, with the reputation of Filipino street food as 'dirty' and 'unhygienic', let this be your ultimate guide to a tasty and SAFE experience. Remember, street food is definitely more fun in the Philippines!

Calamares or fried squid.

Safety and Cleanliness
These are the most important things to look out for when scouting for street food (and to avoid the many diseases transmittable through raw food). 
  • The brush (and sauce) used for uncooked food are in a separate container.
  • The raw food on display are covered from the elements and insects.
  • The sticks are clean; no soot marks indicating reuse.
  • Bonus points if paper food containers/plates are given out (so that customers don't dip the cooked food into the common sauce containers).
Avoid the place if:
  • Flies are on the raw food.
  • After cooking the food, the vendor places them on top of the raw food again before packing them.
  • The common sauces look murky or discolored.
  • The oil being used is dark and murky.
  • Charcoal is placed on the grill by melting the plastic bag (with the charcoal inside) through. This is downright poisonous.
  • The sweet sauce is exactly the same one used as brush on grilled street food.
  • The knife used to cut and slice raw food is the same one used to stoke the charcoal.
  • The vendor is smoking while preparing the food (ash droppings).
  • Customers touch raw and cooked food items with their hands (to check if it's still hot - a disgusting practice considering what we touch on a daily basis). 

Yes, that's blood or 'betamax'.

Food Quality
Most grilled street food are pretreated with an orange- or reddish marinade to give the food a 'fresher' look. While this hides many of the raw items' flaws, you can usually spot bad food if:
  • The visible meat missed by the orange-colored marinade is grayish or grayish-yellow.
  • The seafood items smell a little funny.
  • The breading on some items are uneven or overly crusty (from experience, these taste bad).

The general rule of thumb is, if the food stall looks like it was crafted from scrap material twenty minutes ago, that's probably how they prepared their food as well. If the stall has a proper cart with cooking utensils, covered food display containers, or even a building, chances are that the food there is much better (and slightly more expensive). If the food items are prepared right in front of you, it will take a little more time to cook, but again, chances are the food is much better.

Food Types
There are a lot. So I will break them down into categories, depending on how they are prepared and/or the usual time of day that they are popularly consumed.
  • GRILLED: Pork barbecue (pork meat), chicken and pork isaw (intestines), adidas (chicken feet), betamax (coagulated pork blood), pig ears, pig skin, butsi (chicken throat), ulo (chicken heads), chicken barbecue (chicken meat), hotdogs, corn.
  • FRIED: Chicken and pork isaw, turon (bananas in flour wrapper), lumpia (fried spring rolls), kwek kwek (quail eggs in orange breading), assorted balls (fish, chicken, squid), kikiam (processed fish bites), siomai (Chinese dumplings), kamote (cassava in brown sugar), banana-cue (bananas in brown sugar), calamares (squid), baga (cow lungs), laman ng baka (orange-dyed cow innards), tokwa (tofu bites), mani (peanuts), butsi.
  • STEAMED/BOILED: Siopao (Chinese dim sum buns with pork meat inside - sometimes rumored to be cat meat), siomai, peanuts with shells, corn, the infamous Filipino balut (egg with a developed duck/chicken embryo inside) and penoy (regular egg, but tastes gamey).

Good Eats
I've been in Manila for almost five years now, and I've gone around quite a bit to know some good (and bad) street food places or ihawan in Filipino. Here are some that deserve some mention:
  • Mercato at Bonifacio Global City offers a wide-selection of over-sized street food at a reasonable price. The items are also guaranteed to be much cleaner and safer than anywhere else. Budget per person is roughly PHP 200.00.
  • Barbecue ihawan near R. Papa LRT 1 station. The pork barbecue here is amazing and very cheap too. Food gets sold out here by 6pm-7pm, so a late afternoon visit is best. Budget per person is roughly PHP 50.00.
  • Ihawan at Agata Street, corner of Zobel Roxas Street, Osmena Highway. Slightly more pricey than the regular street food, but the servings are quite good. Budget per person is roughly PHP 50.00.
  • Grilled corn in the back-alleys of Divisoria Shopping Center, Manila. PHP 20.00 each if I remember correctly.
  • Tinuhog ni Benny in an alley across De La Salle University serves excellent pork and chicken barbecue at cheap prices, and the place actually has tables and chairs to dine in. Budget per person is roughly PHP 60.00.
  • Noel's Barbecue in another street behind De La Salle University (near Quirino LRT 1 Station) is one of the most affordable places to have street food along Taft Avenue. The food served are well-prepared too. Expect the place to be full all day. Budget per person is roughly PHP 50.00.

Quail eggs, or kwek-kwek (also known as pugo).

I purposely omitted exact location addresses because I believe that part of what makes street food so good is the experience of hunting for a good street food place :) Ask around, explore! Of course, be mindful of your safety always.
Please feel free to share your favorite street food havens by giving a nod below! 
Let's share the love of food together.


Calamares image from tumblr, retrieved on February 9, 2012.
Betamax image from venzsecretworld, retrieved on February 10, 2012.
Quail eggs image from Coffee on the Side, retrieved on February 10, 2012.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

7 Dangers of Human Virtue

I think the picture says it all.

Gandhi knows his lists.

What is Hip-Hop?

Earlier, we - Skittlez Crew - had the great honor and privilege to be taken under the wing of none other than one of the founders of Filipino hip-hop, Jmasta.

Aside from the bboy foundations, hip-hop history and culture, and tricks he taught us, he shared some amazing pearls of wisdom that isn't just for the random street dancer. He taught us how to 'keep it real', really.

Over 20 years on, and still rocking.

Note: These are not verbatim; I have kept the spirit of the lessons alive (even if synthesized for clarity), if not the exact wordings. Any and all errors of fact are mine alone.

On Knowledge
"Hip Hop isn't just about choreography or the dance itself. You have to know your roots and your history. The years when hip-hop was born, its roots from disco, its music from rock, the first important events, even historical hip-hop places. You have to know all of these to know hip-hop."

"To truly know hip-hop, imagine you're entering a big box. Inside that box are all the styles ever created and invented, all within the big thing called hip-hop. Bboy, locking, popping, krump - they're all part of the big hip-hop entity."

On Battles
"You can't be a hip-hop dancer if you haven't been battle-tested on the cypher; you're just a toy. The cypher is sacred; when you dance in it and you have no idea what you just did after (and no one else does) - the spirit of dance took over."

"Losing is never an option. When you do anything, do it to win. When you do lose, that's okay, learn from it because it shows the things you need to improve on."

"If someone in your crew is weak, it's everybody's fault. You dance as a team, you learn as a team. No man left behind. Everything is done as a team."

On Hip-Hop
"You can never ever say 'I was hip-hop'. Years from now, you may be older and working already, dressed in your corporate attire.. but when you hear a beat and your head bobs to it, you're hip-hop. You never left; it's in you forever."

"My generation is getting old. I'm giving these knowledge to you guys, and I pray that you continue this, continue teaching and giving knowledge to the next generations. One day, one of you will teach my kid hip-hop.That's how hip-hop works because we are all in a family.

"I've learned not to ask for anything when I give knowledge on hip-hop. Why? Because these things, they are small stuff here on Earth, but they're big things for God, and He rewards with many blessings."

"The things every hip-hop practitioner must know are the four elements and the four pillars. The elements are emcee, bboy, DJ, and graffiti. The pillars are peace, love, unity, and have some fun."

*

So what is hip-hop? I think more than a dance and a culture, it's also a rich and sacred living thing present in each and every one of us. It's something we just know when we feel it.

We're proud and so humbled to have him call us 'family'. It wasn't simply inspiring; it was a call to action for us - the new generation of hip-hop artists - to make sure the torch is passed on and the rich culture and history kept alive.

Jmasta is from Battle Crew International and Zulu Nation. He gives workshops to aspiring and experienced dancers alike all around the country, and is heavily involved with bringing the love of hip-hop to orphans.

Skittlez Crew holds open training sessions almost daily at the Yuchengco Lobby, De La Salle University. No experience necessary. All you need to bring is an open mind and the hunger to learn.


Share if you were inspired!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Old Man Arrested for Chocolates - A (Violent) Reaction

While browsing the news site Inquirer.net a while ago, I saw this news posted from yesterday.


The security guard at the grocery store, Ultra Mega Wholesale and Retail Store, said that he saw a bulge in Mr. Ricardo Castro's (the septuagenarian) pocket - the allegedly stolen pack of chocolates. What is appalling with this story is that the man is seventy-nine years old (as in, a hoot short of eighty) and that the pack of chocolates was worth PHP 36.00

That's right. Less than a dollar.

Otherwise known as "jail time" in the Philippines.

The man offered to pay for the item, which he claims he forgot to pay for since he was thinking of his son, who was sick. The representatives of the store refused and insisted that he is to be jailed for his 'crime'.

No Mercy
I don't even know where to begin. I know for a fact that the country is experiencing a bit of a downer financially, but to exert this amount (or rather, the non-existence) of mercy to an old man is too much. To put it into perspective, he stole roughly the price equivalent of 25% of a typical Starbucks coffee drink, 50% of the typical McDonald's burger, or three sticks of street-side pork barbecue. I am so disgusted at the morals and values sacrificed in this incident all in the name of pseudo-justice and 100% business. If we have small mom-and-pop wholesale stores willing to destroy the remaining years of a senior citizen, something is very wrong with our business ethics.

Price of Mercy
PHP 36.00. That's the price of mercy, as shown by Ultra Mega store. I reckon, if every single person who reads this blog, the newspaper article, and other concerned citizens raised PHP 36.00 each, we can all either help bail Mr. Ricardo Castro out, or at least assist his family with legal and/or daily needs.

Spread the word if you are concerned that mercy is becoming ever rarer.

Original article can be found here.
Image from reciprocatellc, retrieved on February 8, 2012.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Condura Skyway Marathon 2012 - Perspectives from the Other Side

The annual Condura Skyway Marathon is one of the most anticipated road races in the country. For one day a year, thousands of runners ranging from recreational runners to international elites take this opportunity to enjoy Manila in a one-of a kind experience – running atop the Skyway. I was initially supposed to run in this race until I received an offer to experience a running event aside from, well, running in it. I was to lead the warm-up sessions before each race for all distances.

Over 14,000 runners!

5k Run Playlist

My current hip-hop and R&B music playlist when running a 5k.
Enjoy!

Good beats sometimes help with PRs.
  1. "Deuces" ft Tyga & Kevin Mc by Chris Brown
  2. "She Will" ft Drake by Lil Wayne
  3. "How We Roll" by Don Omar
  4. "Black Camaro" by T-Pain
  5.  "6 Foot 7 Foot" ft Cory Gunz by Lil Wayne
  6. "All I Do is Win" by DJ Khaled
  7. "Green Goblin" ft Chris Brown by Jae Millz
  8. "Swag" by David Banner

Image from The Curvy Nerd, retrieved on February 7, 2012.

Evolution of Man & Woman

I saw this awesome post at Damn LOL and I just had to share it.
I don't quite understand the female evolution, but the male one makes so much sense (and perhaps pictures the things to come).

A whole new meaning to "I haz cheezburger".

Image from this Damn LOL article, retrieved on February 7, 2012.

Monday, 6 February 2012

iPhone 5 - How It's Done

iPad 3

I think this infographic explains quite well how we consumers fall for the 'latest' in technology.

Infographic from The Techlabs, retrieved on February 6, 2012.

2012 Prep 7

Training for 10k starts today.

7k in 47:55 (short run)

Live the Day as if it was the First

Just a while ago, my colleague gave me some bad news the minute I stepped into our office. One of our co-workers, from another office, passed away last night.

No illness, no weakness in the body or the mind preempted his death.
I suppose this is why we are in a state of terrible surprise and shock right now.

It's a sobering thing, learning of someone's death, especially if the method was as sudden as it was unexpected. The first thing I thought of was something I read some time ago; "live not as if every day was your last, but rather as if it was your first". I agree with this. For me, living every day as if it was our last means we are dreading an end, expecting something we don't want to happen to, well, happen. My co-worker passed on with no warning, and I believe that he at least went to his final goodnight not thinking about the negativity and sadness that one associates with death. I believe that he went to bed on his last night alive just looking forward to tomorrow; as if it was his first.

We all mourn the loss of this soft-spoken fellow. It's never easy to lose someone we're familiar with, whether that person is a friend or a mere acquaintance. I pray that his soul is at rest, and that his family receives all the support we can muster. 

Rest in peace, man.

"Death is the condition of higher and more fruitful life"
- E. H. Chapin, Living Words

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Ashton Taxi Driver - An Anecdote on Goodness

I occasionally have some choice words about many a taxi driver in Manila, but I was pleasantly surprised today experiencing what I can only describe as human goodness - especially when one least expects it.

I went to Makati City for a couple of appointments (which were very good appointments, may I add) and was generally having a good day. I flagged a cab home and went back to my place in Taft Avenue, Manila.

I was halfway home - I usually walk once I reach Taft Avenue proper; it's only a few minutes to my condominium - when I realized I did not have my house keys. Horrible feeling. I must have left it in the cab! I walked around a bit, silently trying to accept the fact that I was going to have to spend some money breaking open my condo lock and knob, and installing a new set, when I saw a familiar vehicle.

The driver of Ashton Taxi (registration number UVT 734, white Toyota Vios) headed towards me, jangling something shiny. He drove around Taft Avenue for fifteen minutes, backtracking where he dropped me off just so he could return my keys to me. Do you know what that means for a taxi driver in Manila, to spend a quarter of an hour hoping to find a previous passenger?

The chosen of weapon of Kindness today. Totally works.
Sometimes, the human spirit is just so damn amazing.

Image from this blog, retrieved on February 4, 2012.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Fixed Pay for Bus Drivers and Conductors

As of February 1, 2012, the Philippine government has mandated a fixed-pay salary for bus drivers and conductors, in a move to promote better working conditions for employees of the public transport industry.

"... the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has issued Department Order No. 118-12, series of 2012, which establishes the rules and regulations governing the employment and working conditions of drivers and conductors in the public utility bus transport industry."

I agree with the implementation of this system for the following reasons:

Better Financial Compensation
The public transportation system of the Philippines - as far as I am aware - has been working on the 'boundary' policy for the longest time. A driver needs to pay X amount to his employer at the end of his shift, regardless of how much he actually pulled during the day. For example, a driver may be given a PHP 2,000 boundary, to be given daily to his employer (the vehicle company/operator). This ignores the fact that the driver needs to buy fuel too, and maybe even pay for some maintenance of the vehicle. At the end of the day, a public transportation driver in this country sees an average of PHP 300.00 - PHP 500.00 as his net daily income. This is, according to drivers I've spoken with, a 'good' day. Now imagine if he was ill or unable to drive. A fixed-pay system that cannot go below the minimum wage ensures that the driver will always have some sort of financial stability that is independent of his health, weather conditions, and passenger availability on top of whatever commission he may receive from his efforts.

Risking life, limb, property, and public safety.

Better Public Safety
Since drivers will now have some 'bacon' to bring home on a regular basis (no matter how small the amount may be), I believe public transportation employees are far less likely to involve themselves in dangerous activities in order to 'make the boundary' as well as bring home a little bit for the family. I have personally taken late-night bus rides home, where drivers run red lights and take risky short-cuts in order to maximize the number of 'rounds' they can do. Pedestrians in the Philippines will attest to these buses madly speeding - even through pedestrian crossings! - in streets and highways. Perhaps this fixed-pay system could encourage drivers to drive at a more leisurely pace and increase awareness for safety not just for the public but for themselves as well.

Better Environmental Practice
While seemingly having no direct correlation to the Order, buses that move slower during trips and buses that are not operational for longer hours (since employees will not be trying to push for longer driving hours) simply mean less emissions on a day-to-day basis. This is probably not a long-term effect, but in my opinion, having buses belch out poisonous and smelly smoke for eight hours is much better than having these said vehicles produce the same emissions for twelve, even fourteen hours daily. Also, buses that aren't too over-used would require less maintenance and parts replacement, which surely saves on materials and resources.

I think that this Order is one of the better policies that the Philippine government has implemented in recent years, and certainly one of the highlights President Aquino's term in office. I look forward to a similar Order mandated for public utility jeeps, tricycles, and pedicabs.

Also, as a public service announcement, this is the list of the Top 10 most dangerous bus operators in Metro Manila, according to this September 2011 Inquirer article.

Based on the number of deaths (passengers and bus personnel)
1. Admiral Transport
2. Nova Auto Transport
3. JAM Liner
4. Gassat Express
5. Joyselle Express
6. Philippine Corinthian Liner
7. Rainbow Express Inc.
8. Alberto Garating
9. Alps the Bus
10. EM Transit Service

Based on the number of injured (passengers and bus personnel)
1. Admiral Transport
2. Nova Auto Transport
3. AM Liner
4. Gassat Express
5. Joyselle Express
6. Miami Transport
7. Pascual Liner
8. Philippine Corinthian Liner
9. Rainbow Express Inc.
10. CEM Transit Service

Based on damage to property
1. Don Mariano Transit
2. Nova Auto Transport
3. Gassat Express
4. Miami Transport
5. Pascual Liner
6. Rainbow Express Inc.
7. Ropal Transport
8. A&B Liner
9. GELL Transport
10. CEM Transit Service

Sources:
Montecillo, P. G. (2011). "Most Dangerous Metro Manila Buses Named". Inquirer News. Retrieved on February 2, 2012 from Inquirer online article.
Image retrieved from same Inquirer online article.
Philippine Government Website (2012). "Bus Drivers, Conductors to Get Fixed Pay Starting Feb 1". Retrieved on February 2, 2012 from Philippine government online press release.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Signature Removal

For years, I've been ending my blog posts with my signature "Jay~" at the end. I've decided to remove that, as I don't really sign anything else off with that.


Posting this just to inform :) Thanks for the patronage, as always.

The 10 People to Show Appreciation to this Valentine's

It's that time of the year again. The 'love month'. With Valentine's Day fast approaching, let's also take the time to show our love and appreciation to people who mean more to us than we think. So pick up your phone, send a text - or even call, just to say and remind them that they're very much appreciated. Plus points if a small but significant gift is included!
  • Parents
  • Grandparents (or a quick prayer if they've passed on)
  • Favorite uncle/aunt
  • A single cousin (as in, unattached)
  • Favorite teacher
  • The best friend
  • A sibling (especially the unattached one)
  • An inspirational mentor/role model
  • Parents of a friend who always take care of us
  • A friend you've lost contact with

It's not always just about two people sharing a fancy dinner in a candle-lit restaurant, or going on a romantic getaway together. Sometimes, 'love' is also about giving a simple 'thank you' to someone - anyone - who may have changed our lives, even a tiny bit, for the better.

P.S. For the next 2 weeks, a person will either:
a) plan a date
b) find a date
c) hate this date

How about just forgetting the date, and treasure our loved ones for the three hundred and sixty-six days this year, and not just the one day in February :)

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Dance and Fear

What enables a dancer to freestyle? What opens up a dancer's mind to a limitless sky of creativity and a never-ending well of move after move after move? After spending almost four years dancing, and learning so much from so many people, I suppose I have some semblance of an answer.

Not a care in the world.

The Mind/Heart Killer
Fear, not just in dance, kills the ability of the heart and mind to act in unison. Everything that we do passionately, I'd like to believe that it is because we consciously love doing and learning it (the mind) and we will subconsciously feel incomplete and dissatisfied without it at all (the heart). Fear brings doubts, and doubts raises self-consciousness to such a level that a dancer feels s/he "needs to impress" and "look good" in a session. Fear of negative comments, laughter, and getting labeled as 'wack' creates a dancer that thinks too much of rejection and 'not being good enough'. Fear's essential impact is preventing a dancer from sharing his/her entire being (feelings, emotions, skills, etc.) on the dance floor. In other words, a dancer who feels s/he must prove something to someone ends up not being able to freestyle with a limitless mind and a sharing heart.

The Opposite of Fear
In the book Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield (which, by the way, is my favorite book of all time), the Spartan general Dienekes (of "We'll fight in the shade" fame) teaches his young warrior-squire Alexandros the meaning of fear and its opposite. While defending Thermopylae (of "300" fame), Alexandros - exposed to the horrors of war at the young age of 18 - eventually discovers the opposite of fear. It is also the exact same answer that I've learned from several individuals I respect highly in the Filipino dance community. The opposite of fear is love.

Unconditional
Love doesn't judge; it doesn't have an opinion. All it does is be. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. When a dancer loves his/her art so much that the world ceases to exist around him/her, something magical happens. A dancer in love with everything about the art will not care  S/he hits every single beat every single time, moves that flow into each other materializes one after the other smoothly, and best of all, a story is told. Freestyle is considered by some to be somewhat of 'a test' on whether or not a street dancer can really dance. No practice, no choreography, no pre-sets. Just the music and the moment. Love for the art, love for one's inspiration(s) (be it one's Faith, a life-changing moment, or someone important), and love for one's self all brings out the dancer in his/her best form. A dancer just dances. Love doesn't care who wins or loses, who's amazing or who's wack, and it definitely doesn't have a standard of 'good' or 'bad'.

Just dance.
Out with the fear, in with the love.
One love, chyeah.

Jay~

This post is inspired by my experiences with my beloved Skittlez Crew, a group of friends that have grown into a huge family that inspires many Lasallians. Also much inspiration came from my dance mentor Michael 'Decky' Decano, first Papi of Skittlez and a leader not just in the crew but of people as well. Many thanks go to Phillip Pamintuan aka Adrum the Warrior of Murda Fam and Krumpinoy, a titan in faith and in the dance community. I have so much love and respect for crews that freestyle out of love: Unschooled, Krumpinoy, UPM Indayog, and Bandila Fusion, among others.

Picture courtesy of morethanastance.com; retrieved on January 31, 2012.

"Just Dance" quote courtesy of Phillip Pamintuan, 2012.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Rainbow Run - Result

Congratulations to the organizers, Pep Squad, for an amazingly fun event!

5k in 29:00, bib #0922

One thing I enjoyed about this run was the fact that it wasn't very crowded. The gun-start of the different distance classes were spaced very evenly and this ensured - for the most part - that runners weren't ending up in big, crowded clusters. There were also a ton of water stations all along the route, which I'm sure many runners appreciated. McKinley Hills' intense elevation variations drained a lot of the participants - I heard a lot of groaning and complaining at uphill approaches! - but it was a great challenge for me, especially as I was very ill on that day. As this run was for the LGBTF (the F stood for "and Friends") community, I invited my former gymnastics coach, Coach Ajjie, to join me. We've been running buddies all month, and this was his first race of the year. We posted a pretty good placing (I was #32, he was #33) considering we started a whole five minutes behind the 5k gun-start!

All in all, Rainbow Run was a great race. The pick-up-as-you-go-along system for the Finisher's Kit/Goodie Bag was also a nifty idea, and we went home with nice loot.


Jay~

Saturday, 28 January 2012

DLSU Back in the Day

I saw these great pictures of my Alma Mater, De La Salle University, on my Facebook updates a little earlier. DLSU is situated smack in the heartland of the capital city, and it's quite a different sight now. 

Pictures are all courtesy of Lasallian alumnus Mr. Bibera, from his photo album "Nostalgia Manila".

Circa 1925.

Circa 1930s.

Post-Second World War.

St. La Salle Hall, circa 1970s.

St. La Salle Hall aerial view, circa 1970s.

Taft Avenue, home of DLSU, early 1980s. No LRT island yet.

St. La Salle Hall, circa 1980s.

Aside from being a beautiful school (we're quite famous for featuring Neoclassical architecture on our halls), the images above depict Manila at its finest, in my opinion. Note the clear, blue skies and the visible sky. Currently, there are almost a dozen condominiums surrounding De La Salle University (I live in one) and the skies are grayish-blue at best due to all the pollution. It's my dream that the Green Zone project* may help bring back Taft Avenue to its glory days as a gorgeous, sexy campus.

A hundred years on, and we're moving for a clean, modern look with the Centennial Hall, expected to rise by June 15, 2012. That's another blog post, though.
Jay~

I cannot thank Mr. Bibera enough for these images and making them publicly available. Animo La Salle! Pictures retrieved on January 28, 2012 from photo album "Nostalgia Manila". 

De La Salle University was known as De La Salle College when these images were taken. The creation of De La Salle - College of St. Benilde paved the way for DLS College to be DLS University. Just some info :)

*The Green Zone is an institutionalized project to turn Taft Avenue (from V. Cruz LRT 1 station to Quirino LRT 1 station, respectively) from the most polluted place in the Philippines (in terms of air quality) to the cleanest. Launched on January 18, 2012. Expected results between 2017 to 2022.