Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A tragic event: Typhoon Ondoy, 26-Sep-09

On September 26, 2009, a typhoon named Ondoy (International codename: Ketsana) hit Metro-Manila and dumped 13.5 inches of rain within 6 hours—one month's worth of rain in one afternoon... and kept raining at this pace for days.

It's population of 11,553,427 was caught unaware. Extremely heavy and relentless rain caused rivers, lakes, estuaries, and creeks to burst their banks and collapse dykes. Clogged sewers, poor drainage aggravated the situation. Roads and hi-ways turned into fast flowing rivers.

My brother was a victim of this typhoon. He and his wife stayed safe on the second floor of their house as the waters rose. The flood waters were five feet high. My other brother braved the floods with relief supplies to come to the aid of my stranded sibling. By ingenuity, perseverance, and God's graces, they all made it out. They are now safe at our ancestral home.

Others were not so lucky. Several persons drowned in my brother's neighborhood.

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Notes for comparison:

Average annual rainfall
Manila: 80"/year
New Orleans: 51"/year
Seattle: 36"/year

Manila: 11,553,427
Seattle: 582, 454
New Orleans: 311,853

Population density
Manila: 26,774/sq mi
Seattle: 6,717/sq mi
New Orleans: 2,518/sq mi

Manila: 256 sq mi
Seattle: 142.5 sq mi
New Orleans: 4,190 sq mi

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Philippines, Philippine, Pilipino, Filipino, Filipina

A little clarification of the use of the following:

  • The only predominantly Catholic country in Asia
  • Home to the Filipinos, a predominantly Malay race, intermingled with Chinese, Spanish, American peoples
  • It was from 1500's to the early 20th century, a cross roads of inter-continental commerce
  • A collection of Kingdoms before the Spanish
  • Datu (King) Lapu-lapu killed Ferdinand Magellan in battle after burning his village for refusing to bowing to Spain's authority
  • A Spanish colony for 333 years
  • An American colony for 50 years
  • The inventors of "People Power"

  • Anything pertaining to, belonging to, or originating from the Philippines

  • The national language of the Philippines
  • Predominantly based on Tagalog, one of the major dialects of the Philippines
  • a.k.a. Filipino

  • A person from the Philippines, spelled in English
  • The language of the Philippines, spelled in English
  • A Filipino man

  • A Filipino woman

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pancit Bihon

Pancit Bihon

One of the most famous of Filipino food. Bihon noodles, cooked in a shrimp broth with stir-fry vegetables, chicken and pork pieces. Topped with fresh squeezed limes

Monday, August 10, 2009

Chicken arroz caldo

Chicken arroz caldo

Chicken pieces and Jasmine rice, slow cooked to create a rich porridge. Cooked with roasted garlic, ginger, and spices. Topped with lemon slices, spring onions, a raw egg with a dash of soy sauce

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Dessert ice cream

Growing up in the Philippines, one of my favorite types of ice cream was cheese. Yes, ice cream with chunks of cheese. Bizarre, yet yummy.

This is my 21st century take on an old Filipino favorite.

  1. Vanilla bean ice cream
  2. Angel food cake (Ice cream's soul-mate)
  3. Toppings:
  • Homemade mango sauce, using tropical (Philippine) mangoes (DO NOT use mexican mangoes. They produce a bland and extremely fibrous sauce that gets stuck in your throat (like a hair ball)
  • Grated Argentine Parmesan cheese (It's sweeter and much milder than Italian parmesan. If you can't find Argentine parmesan, a medium sharp cheddar will suffice)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A requiem for a fallen hero

On August 1, 2009, The Republic of the Philippines lost a hero to colon cancer. Her name was Corazon "Cory" Aquino.

The people of the republic love, honor, and mourn you.

Farewell, and may you rest in peace in the glorious grace of God in heaven.

Áve María, grátia pléna, Dóminus técum. Benedícta tu in muliéribus, et benedíctus frúctus véntris túi, Iésus.
Sáncta María, Máter Déi, óra pro nóbis peccatóribus, nunc et in hóra mórtis nóstrae. Ámen.

A tribute to my people

On August 5, 2009, former Philippine president Corazon Aquino was buried in Manila. She was an accidental president. But, by popular demand, she became president nonetheless.

I was fortunate to have been a 1st hand witness to these events.

August 21, 1983...
Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino was in exile in the US. He was the primary opposition leader. On August 21, 1983, he took a flight to Manila. Before anyone could leave the plane, soldiers boarded the plane and escorted him off via the stairs at the side entrance.

Before he could lay his foot on the tarmac, he was shot in the back of the head. Bloody and lifeless, his body carted off in the back of a truck.

His martyrdom was the event that spurred a revolution

Outrage over Ninoy Aquino's assassination generated massive protests. Unrest was rampant, and the winds of change was in the air.

By 1985, Ferdinand Marcos had been dictator of the Philippines since 1972. Secret police was everywhere, people were
disappearing. Civil rights were non-existent. The government controlled everything. Social security, public health care, business, banking, auto, agriculture, gun control... everything—nothing worked.

Since the government controlled everything, they could easily put the people down. The whole country had been under Martial Law, since 1972.

In 1985, world opinion was critical of the Marcos regime. As a consequence, he called a "Snap election" to prove his legitimacy.

Ferdinand Marcos was the candidate for the government. For the opposition, it was Ninoy Aquino's widow, Corazon Aquino.

The returns were tabulated electronically via mainframe computer. A large number of the systems people realized that the computers were rigged. The hard copies did not match the computer results. They decided to not take part and walked out of the electoral office. A media frenzy began. Alarm bells were sounded.

Protesters flooded into the streets of Manila. The people of the Philippines had had enough. The elections were rigged. Marcos was declared the winner.

A coup, turned revolution...
A small group of officers and men of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) had formed the RAM, The Reform the AFP Movement. Their goal was to restore integrity and order to the Armed Forces and return its loyalty of service to the people.

Roughly 400 men would storm Malacañang palace (and other strategic targets) to force Marcos to abdicate, and restore the government to the people.

The rigged election was the last straw. The RAM had, had enough of the excesses of the Marcos regime and were going to put their plan, long in the making into action.

They were going to stage a coup!

On Marcos' side was a massive intelligence network. They succeeded in penetrating the RAM and uncovering its coup plot. Marcos started arresting RAM members.

Two of the major leaders of the coup were the (then) Minister of Defense, Juan Ponce Enrile, and the (then) Chief of the Philippine Constabulary, Fidel Ramos. The RAM leader, Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan could not wait, and moved. Enrile, Ramos, and Honasan publicly announced their Breakaway from the Marcos regime.

They were badly outnumbered and outgunned. However, they were confident, as they stood in the path of righteousness, and believed that God would stand by their side, as they were "just" in their cause, and represented the truth.

The RAM was now in open revolt, and the country was on the brink of civil war.

The convergence of God, People Power, and a miracle...
February 22-26, 1986.
The rebel's coup attempt had been thwarted at the last minute. Most of their operatives had been blocked and arrested by loyalist forces. The only thing they could do now was to dig in and hold for the inevitable final assault of the loyalist (Marcos) forces.

They were going to make a valiant last stand. They knew they were all going to die. At least, they were going to die for the freedom of the Filipino people!

From nowhere, the Archbishop of Manila, Jaime Cardinal Sin went "On-Air." He urged the Filipino people to support the rebels as they were good men fighting for the freedom of the republic.

A miracle happened. Nuns, priests and (literally) millions of people both privileged and plebeians took to the streets and surrounded the rebels in their strong hold. They brought them food and drinks.

People Power was born. The people surrounded the loyalist forces and stood in front of their tanks, trucks, armored vehicles, and formations. They offered the soldiers rosaries, flowers, food, and drinks. They melted and sapped their will to fight with love... in the name of God.

Further calls of support for the rebels came out. Not only from the Catholic Church, but now (also) from the rebel leaders themselves. This time, appealing to the loyalist soldiers.

The excesses of the Marcos regime now grated at the conscience of the loyalist forces. They turned and donned the mark of the rebels. One by one, loyalist commanders from all over the country, pledged their support for the rebels. A few units of the Philippine Navy and Air force, shelled and strafed Malacañang palace. Other elements of the rebel forces were successful in capturing critical government communication facilities.

On 26 Feb 1986, Marcos, his family, and his cronies were airlifted by the US military. They were going to Hawaii to live in exile.

The other miracle—There were NO civilian casualties, and only 1 loyalist sniper killed. The people had saved the rebels, and kept peace in the republic.

The Philippines was now free from tyranny. It dissolved the parliament and brought back the Congress and Senate. They created a new Constitution. Corazon Aquino took her post as the rightfully elected president of the republic. The country was now going to rebuild itself from ruin.

Marcos was rumored to have plundered (estimated) US $20 billion from the Philippine treasury. US customs reported that upon entry into the US, Marcos and his cronies had 24 suitcases full of gold bars, diamonds, gold certificates worth billions. Imelda had to abandon her 2,000 pairs of shoes in Manila.

To this day, the republic is still paying the the massive debt the government amassed.

A gift to the world...
For that brief moment in history, the Philippines showed the world that there could be a peaceful revolution.

The following is a video montage of Philippine history, heroes, Ninoy Aquino's funeral, the revolution and People Power. The song "Handog ng Pilipino sa mundo" (A gift from Filipinos to the world). It was composed as a tribute to freedom.

Historical notes about the music video:
  • KKK was the Philippine revolutionary organization that fought the Spanish successfully.
  • The KKK, known as the "Katipunan" later fought the American invaders—They lost
  • Yellow was People Power's color for opposition
  • The "L" sign being flashed means "Laban" in Tagalog, which means "Fight!"

Handog Ng Pilipino Sa Mundo

by Apo Hiking Society

'Di na 'ko papayag mawala ka muli.
'Di na 'ko papayag na muli mabawi,
Ating kalayaan kay tagal natin mithi.
'Di na papayagang mabawi muli.

Magkakapit-bisig libo-libong tao.
Kay sarap palang maging Pilipino.
Sama-sama iisa ang adhikain.
Kelan man 'di na paalipin.

Handog ng Pilipino sa mundo,
Mapayapang paraang pagbabago.
Katotohanan, kalayaan, katarungan
Ay kayang makamit na walang dahas.
Basta't magkaisa tayong lahat.

Masdan ang nagaganap sa aming bayan.
Nagkasama ng mahirap at mayaman.
Kapit-bisig madre, pari, at sundalo.
Naging Langit itong bahagi ng mundo.

Huwag muling payagang umiral ang dilim.
Tinig ng bawat tao'y bigyan ng pansin.
Magkakapatid lahat sa Panginoon.
Ito'y lagi nating tatandaan.
(repeat refrain two times)

Mapayapang paraang pagbabago.
Katotohanan, kalayaan, katarungan.
Ay kayang makamit na walang dahas.
Basta't magkaisa tayong lahat!