i create. i am a creation.

I am now fighting off flu that has been threatening to bog me down since the beginning of this month when I arrived in Japan on 3 May.

After 11 days in Japan, I went back home to be with my girls for 7 days and I was off again to Singapore. Just got back yesterday. Now I’m sick. Been working like crazy for weeks.

I will write about Japan in a few days. Let me get these work-related stuff off my desk.

But first off, I’ll give you a preview of what Japan for me is like this time around (my first visit was in 2009, Kansai region).

Hitachi Seaside Park

Pretty, no?


My head is aching right now. I could not write a single word for work. I’ve been having a hard time sleeping here in Singapore because martial law has been declared over the southern region back home. And just as I suspected, the president has been wanting to declare it since November. Now he has the perfect excuse to do it.

All I can think of right now is Plaza Miranda.

I don’t think I’ll be sleeping well for quite a while.

Martial law on Duterte’s mind as early as November —Lorenzana 

Published May 24, 2017 6:43pm

President Rodrigo Duterte has thought of declaring martial law as early as November to combat ISIS, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Wednesday.

“Actually, matagal na iyan pinag-iisipan ni Presidente iyan. Matagal na naming pinag-uusapan iyan,” he told reporters in NAIA after Duterte gave a press briefing.
Lorenzana said they advised the President against it.

“In fact, iyong pumunta kami sa Butig last year, sinabi niya na, ‘You prepare for martial law. Pero saan ba ito? Island by island ba or whole Mindanao or Philippines?’ Sabi namin hindi pa naman dapat. So the thought process niya nangyari na eh long ago pa,” he added.

Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on Tuesday while he was on an official visit in Russia.

He cut his trip short and arrived in Manila on Wednesday afternoon. —NB, GMA News


No, this is not an issue of “hurt” feelings of one journalist. We are made of sterner stuff, so one f*ck you is just the many f*ck yous we will receive in the course of our professional lives.

This is about how a public official sees and treats people around her, how she belittles people who are not within the same social and economic circle. Makes you wonder if her “concern for the poor” is really genuine or her “passion for the environment” is really true or is just a means to glorify herself. I don’t know the answers—these are real questions of an inquisitive mind.

I’m neither pro nor anti-mining (you can see from my background, who my parents are) but if a public official, an environmental crusader, wants genuine change, she should look inward. Then she should go through the legal and right processes so the directive and department orders that she implements are fool-proof or have legal bases so these won’t just get thwarted by technicalities used by the lawyers of the entities she wants penalized. Because long-lasting institutional change cannot be achieved by shortcuts.

Post-script: And this is what I’ve learned in my short stint in UP Pahinungod. Pahinungod = offering; dedication. Not outreach. Outreach means you come from a different place and will still be in that different place. But offering = dedication means you are not separate from the people you serve…you are one of them.

There lies the difference, Madam Lopez.

Quizzed on mining directive, Gina Lopez vents ire on BW reporter: ‘You’re just a f—ing employee’

By: InterAksyon
April 6, 2017 6:08 PM

MANILA – Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Regina Lopez on Wednesday unleashed a tirade on a reporter of BusinessWorld, whose questions about mining she resented, in the process describing the journalist as “bought by the greed and selfishness.”

Sec. Lopez had earlier on made known her impatience in responding to questions from BusinessWorld reporter Janina Lim, calling her out as she started asking: “You know, you’re just a f—ing employee” and then saying that Lim had “no heart for the poor.”

Lim, however, pressed on with her questions, asking the twice-bypassed secretary to elaborate on her new order for miners to set aside more funds apart from what they are required to contribute to a “Rehabilitation Fund” for formerly mined lands.

Lopez said she wants miners to draw from their profits and pay hard-up farmers “out of the rehab zone”.

Lopez told Lim: “All I am asking is to give 2 million pesos to every farmer of a farm that’s out of the Rehab Zone. What’s wrong with that? They’re disadvantaged, it’s out of the rehab zone. Who’s gonna take care of it? Why don’t you have a heart, you know? All I am asking is to put money for a farmer who has been disadvantaged by the mining, what’s wrong with that?”

Told by Lim that miners have appealed to the Office of the President questioning the “additional requirement” and sought for her reaction, Lopez cut her short: “What questioning? They disadvantaged all the farm lands, they should f—ing take care of it. What’s wrong with that? They’re making so much money from the stock pile. Don’t you think, they should take care of the farmers that they disadvantage? You in your heart, don’t you think they should? Who’s gonna take care of the farmers? It’s out of rehab zone. Who’s gonna take care of it? The money that they have for rehab doesn’t take care of the farmers out of the rehab zone. Who’s gonna take care of it?”

Read the rest of the story here.

Gina Lopez recorded telling reporter: You’re just a f—ing employee

Published April 6, 2017 10:07pm
Updated April 7, 2017 1:17am

…Sought for comment, Lopez said it was “tabloidish” for Business World to publish her “private conversation” with the reporter.

– See more at: http://www.gmanetwork.com/…/gina-lopez-recorded-telling..

Sidenote: It was an ambush interview with five reporters that time. It was not a private conversation and she is fully aware that there were recorders.

DENR’s Lopez defends new mining directive as she accuses BW reporter of ‘being bought’

In the process of defending the proposal — which is being questioned by miners — however, Ms. Lopez lost her composure and suggested that reporters covering the matter had been “bought.”

The Environment secretary told BusinessWorld reporter Janina C. Lim: “You’re just a fucking employee,” Ms. Lopez blurted out the line as she was stopped by Ms. Lim and another reporter on the landing of the second floor of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) office in Quezon City.

At that time, Ms. Lopez was taking the stairs on the way up to her office on the fourth floor.

The exchange between the official and the reporter took place minutes after several DENR employees supposedly called off a rally against the secretary that was set for nine that morning. Just a few days before the incident, Ms. Lim filed an exclusive report, saying that the Civil Service Commission rejected the temporary appointment of Mr. Philip G. Camarra, who was appointed by Ms. Lopez as DENR undersecretary.

The incident on Thursday morning began when Ms. Lim, who has been covering the environment and agriculture beats since January last year, asked the secretary whether she was attending a meeting of the Mining Industry Coordinating Council that afternoon at the National Economic and Development Authority office in Pasig City.

Read rest of the story here.

[Statement] No excuse for Sec. Lopez’s treatment of Businessworld reporter

April 7, 2017

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines condemns Environment Secretary Gina Lopez’s totally unjustified behavior toward Businessworld reporter Janina Lim, who she cursed and maligned Thursday for simply doing her job.

It is doubly unfortunate that Ms. Lopez, the scion of a family intimately involved in media, should justify her boorishness toward Ms. Lim by blaming one of the qualities indispensable to being a journalist – persistence.

A recording of Ms. Lopez’s tirade captured her berating Lim of being “just a f—ing employee” and asking the reporter why she did not have a “heart for the poor.”

Ms. Lim was simply asking Ms. Lopez to elaborate on her order for miners to set aside more funds apart from what they are required to contribute to a “rehabilitation fund” for formerly mined lands but the DENR secretary berated Lim and another colleague, telling them: “You know, you guys should do your work, but why don’t you have a heart for the poor? Where’s your heart?”

When Ms. Lim tried to follow up, Ms. Lopez turned on her and said: “You know you are so young and you’re already bought by the greed and selfishness.”

It was at this point that Ms. Lim finally answered Ms. Lopez squarely, saying: “I was not bought, Ma’am. I was not bought. Thank you. Thank you.”

Ms. Lopez subsequently sent a message to Businessworld attempting to explain her side. If anything, however, she only helped indict herself even more.

She claimed she was late and rushing to a TV interview when accosted by Lim in a stairway and was piqued because she had “often been irritated” by the “line of questioning” of the “young and persistent reporter.”

“She was not the best person to meet while rushing for an appointment. So I lost my cool with her,” Ms. Lopez said in her message to Businessworld.

She also attempted to blame Lim for recording “a repartee that took place in a stairway” that, she claimed, should have been “left in the privacy for which it is meant,” even hinting the whole incident seemed to be “like looking for some kind of hole to punch.”

When does being “irritated” by a “persistent reporter” give a public official or anyone else for that matter the right to verbally abuse them?

If, indeed, Ms. Lim had consistently and persistently shown objectionable or offensive behavior in the course of her work, Ms. Lopez could easily have communicated this with the reporter’s superiors and asked that the situation be rectified.

And no, Ms. Lopez, what happened was not “repartee.” It was a legitimate attempt by a journalist to interview you on an issue related to your work and, thus, of public interest.

If you were, as you claim, in a hurry because you were late for an interview, you could have simply said so or even ignored the question. Instead, you actually took the time to stop and insult Ms. Lim and, worse, belittled her for being “just a f—ing employee,” as if honest toil were something to be ashamed of.

Ms. Lopez, your zeal for the causes close to your heart can never justify your despicable treatment of Ms. Lim. If anything, such a mindset, which brooks no questioning or dissent, is anathema to democracy.

We demand that you apologize to Ms. Lim and pledge to be more open to questioning. This is the least you can do.

Ryan Rosauro, chairperson
NUJP Hotline 09175155991

A friend posted a perplexing problem on Facebook, asking for a nicer Tagalog translation for “ferment” (being a Bisaya, it is difficult for him to translate it into Tagalog). A couple of people suggested “buro” (preserve in salt), which doesn’t really capture the essence of what was needed to be translated.

It turns out it was a poem he was trying to translate. So I decided to translate the entire thing into Tagalog because the poem would lose its rhythm and soul by translating it literally, I think.

And my friend liked it and told me to post it here.

Absolutely Clear Poem by Shams al-Din Hafiz Shirazi – Poem Hunter

Don’t surrender your loneliness
So quickly.
Let it cut more deep.

Let it ferment and season you
As few human
Or even divine ingredients can.

Something missing in my heart tonight
Has made my eyes so soft,
My voice
So tender,

My need of God

(my translation)

Huwag agad isuko
ang iyong kalungkutan.
Hayaan mong ito’y sumugat nang malalim.

Hayaang ika’y timplahin at iburo nito
Na hindi magagawa ng ilang tao
O banal na sangkap.

Ang pangungulila sa puso ngayong gabi
Ay nakapaglamlam ng aking mata,
At nakapagpalambing
Ng aking tinig

Ang aking pangangailangan sa Maykapal
Walang pasubali


…The Voice Russia, that is.

A nu metal artist in the roster. And she is mesmerizing to watch.

The only time I could play music like this is when I am driving alone in my car. To make my soul-sucking commute more bearable. My girls couldn’t bear to listen to my real music.

Daria Stavrovich made me revisit 30 Seconds to Mars. I would like to see a Jared Leto and Daria duet.


On my last day in Taiwan, I checked out that morning from Chaiin Hotel and deposited my luggage in one of the metered storage/boxes at the Taipei Main Station. It was TWD 100 for I don’t remember how many hours. It was a better option than rushing back to Chaiin Hotel, which was a long walk from the Main Station, then walk back again dragging my luggage to ride the airport bus.

After depositing my luggage, I went back to our Taipei office to take photos and say goodbye to colleagues. Then I had lunch with a colleague a few stops away from the train station nearest our office. I had a few more hours to kill before I travel back to Taoyuan Airport.

I went to the Taipei Confucius Temple instead of the more popular Longshan Temple because I always avoid the touristy areas. I am suplada like that. But you know, the older I get, the more I dislike crowds.

Yes this is a selfie fail

I spent an hour or two in this place, away from crowds. It was peaceful but annoyingly hot at the same time.


A perfect way to end my birthday trip.

‘Til then, Ilha Formosa.


Tags: ,


One of the reasons why I wanted to go back to Taiwan is I wanted to visit the National Palace Museum of Taiwan again. When I went there in 2007, it was a very rushed affair, only an hour or two and only the most precious exhibits were shown to us by the guide (a Filipino-Chinese who migrated to Taiwan). I barely had time to admire the paintings. When I view paintings, especially landscape paintings, I spend so much time staring at them to get the feel of the art work. So I told myself that when I get the chance to go back, I will be spending at least half a day to stare at paintings.

Well, because I am such an idiot, it took me some time before I figured out how to reach the Museum (after alighting from Shilin Station, Tamsui-Xinyi Line, I still had to look for the bus that goes directly to the museum). It was already 12 nn when I got there.

I figured that the best time to go there is between 10 am to 2 pm. By 3 pm it will be teeming with tourist groups. That can be annoying when you’re gazing at a painting and trying to contemplate the meaning of life in 10th century AD.

This Museum has an amazing collection of Chinese art since the treasures from the Imperial Palace in Beijing was carted off by Chiang Kai-shek to Taipei before the Japanese, and eventually the Communists, took over mainland China.

If I am not mistaken, this is Chiang Kai-shek

What I remember most about the exhibit there is the explanation of my guide about how jade became important to China and the origin of the Chinese character for jade (was a pictogram depicting an axe or some kind of weapon). My guide ten years ago said before the ancient Chinese discovered metals, they used jade as material for to make farming tools. Jade was just a stone, according to the guide, until a craftsman shapes it into being. A skilled artist can also use the imperfections of the jade to create something beautiful, like this lettuce jade, considered as one of the most important exhibit in the museum.


An ex-colleague of mine, who thought I was ethnic Chinese, said a woman of age must have jade jewelry in her collection so I ought to have some kind of jade bracelet or earrings. But I said I will not fork a fortune for such things. Hahaha. Real jade is expensive.

So you could only imagine how this screen must have cost. The label says this was “given” (quotations mine) to the Emperor of Japan during the war and was returned to Taiwan in 1945, after the war officially ended.


Here is a slideshow of the rest of the exhibit


I spent the longest time in the scroll paintings section of the museum. Among the different forms of visual art, I am drawn most to paintings since I dabbled in it when I was younger (charcoal, water colors, a bit of oil but was a failure in that). This painting (I forget what it’s called but the subject is a scholar in a meadow) is not the prettiest among the bunch but this has resonated with me the most. I could almost feel the wind blowing against the grasses and scholar’s robes. I was transported back in time to that meadow, to that moment when the scholar was taking his walk, contemplating about or searching for something.


Here are some paintings from the collection.

Ancient Chinese paintings

There are a lot of pretty things inside the Museum (about three floors of exhibits) and every now and then they have to take some collections out of storage because the thousands of treasures they have in their vaults cannot be displayed in the museum all at once. When I was there, they had the Tibetan Buddhist Art, Buddhism in China, The Mongol Princess collection (a collection by a Mongolian princess during a brief occupation of the Mongols) and some exhibits I didn’t bother visiting because it was already getting crowded with group tours and school children.

After four or five hours, I went back to Shilin station and hunted for something to eat (forgot to have lunch since I had brunch). I saw a long queue for this one near the MRT station.


And decided to check it out. I just pointed to the lady flipping the “pizza” which toppings I wanted. It was greasy but not bad for a streetfood in the middle of the city.


I had enough time to kill before meeting an editor for dinner that night. A quick jaunt at the Shilin Night Market wouldn’t hurt.


It was quite early to do a night market but there was something to see already at around 6:30 pm. Some clothes, a lot of cellphone accessories, toys and some souvenirs. This market is targeting tourists. And yes, some Studio Ghibli items too.


After that quick run, I went to this shabu-shabu place along Civic Road and how I found the place, I don’t know. Google Maps saved me. I got back to my hotel at almost 12 pm. Last trains I think run at 11 pm.


This is how the subway at the Taipei Main Station looks like at 11 pm.

*to be continued