Visit my new blog.

Posted: June 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

This blog is under indefinite hiatus. I started a new blog with my newsroom friends. Visit http://subselfie.com. We are nine different authors in this blog providing nine different stories. Enjoy reading 🙂

Tacloban is the hometown of my mother and I have only been here twice: 1997 and 2008. I would only stay then for a few days. Last week, GMA News deployed me in Tacloban and I knew it was an opportunity to know my province more especially in light of Yolanda.

Stopping in the middle of the San Juanico Bridge to take pictures is really not allowed. But many people simply can’t resist the beauty of the bridge. I guess we agree.

San Juanico Bridge with my news team Winston Lucas and Rommel Bantog

San Juanico Bridge.

Tacloban is steadily rebuilding from the devastation of typhoon Yolanda. Four months have passed since and yet the local government still recovers an average of two to three corpses every day. Most of these remains are no longer recognizable and in advanced stages of decomposition. Thus, there is a need to put them in temporary mass graves (see picture below).

The City of Tacloban assures its citizens that there will be proper resting places for the dead in the cemeteries of Holy Cross and Basper. There will be closure.

Temporary mass grave.

Temporary mass grave.

The spirit of volunteerism is still strong in Tacloban. I did a news story on Efren Penaflorida’s kariton classrooms. The project targets out-of-school youth who may have lost interest in studying because of the calamity.

Kariton classroom.

Kariton classroom.

I also did a report about another volunteer group called MyRights. They distribute bicycles and conduct reading and feeding programs in various barangays.

Volunteer bikers of MyRide

Volunteer bikers of MyRide

Up to now, there are still large ships in the middle of communities. It’s a daily reminder of the height and might of the storm surge that killed thousands of Taclobanons.

Mayday!

Mayday!

I also stayed for one night in the Leyte Park Hotel, the base of my fellow reporter Jiggy Manicad during the onslaught of the storm. After Yolanda, numerous bodies were scattered on the hotel grounds. Thankfully, all my relatives in Tacloban survived.

Leyte Park Hotel

Leyte Park Hotel

I’m back to writing new songs. But that’s a topic for another day. I’ll look back on the previous songs I recorded with my band No Parking for our debut EP in 2011 entitled Pawis Steering.

Firefly is a favorite of the band since I finished writing it in July 2007. I wrote the initial line “There’s a fire inside your heart” even before Adele released Rolling in the Deep. Anyway, her version is “There’s a fire starting in my heart.”

No Parking.

No Parking

I wrote the song in two places. One was the new building of the College of Mass Communication of UP Diliman. It was dark and there were fireflies. I did the finishing touches besides the statue of the Oblation.

Basically, I think people always assume that the darkness is evil. But sometimes there’s peace where it’s dark. When you think about it, you won’t be able to see fireflies while the sun is up. For some lovers, the darkness can be a sanctuary too.

Firefly

There’s a fire inside your heart.
You are a firefly, flickering.
It can be so difficult
to see you shine in the daytime.

But I can take you to a place
where darkness flows with majesty.
Amidst the grace of all you see,
will your flame stay the same?

I have seen you at your best.
You render Polaris out of business.
But I fear the sun will come
and take the night away with you.

But I can take you to a place
where darkness flows with majesty.
Amidst the grace of all you see,
will your flame stay the same?

Twinkle, twinkle firefly.
How I wonder who you are.
Up above the world so high.
Like a diamond in the sky.

Twinkle, twinkle firefly.
How I wonder who you are.
Up above the world so high.
Like a diamond.
In the sky.

But I can take you to a place
where darkness flows with majesty.
Amidst the grace of all you see,
will your flame stay the same?

Video  —  Posted: January 29, 2014 in No Parking Music
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note: you can click the images to enlarge them

Real life trumps reality television shows all the time. I met these fishermen in a hospital in Mati, Davao Oriental. For five days, they were drifting in the Pacific Ocean (near Surigao del Norte). Their fish boat never stood a chance against the low pressure area.

Ocean survivors.

Ocean survivors.

They were eight in all. For days, they ate nothing but toothpaste. They even drank their own urine when they managed to surface using some of the debris.

The fishermen managed to access the storage room of the capsized fish boat. It served as a makeshift roof that could accommodate four people. But it was humid inside and every time they would sleep here, their lower bodies had to be submerged in the sea.

The sun never shone on them during their ordeal. They could not tell what time of day it was just by looking at the sky. They were lucky one of them had a water-resistant watch to keep track of reality. But in a sense, the clock was ticking on their survival.

BRP Magat Salamat docked at the pier of Mati, Davao Oriental

BRP Magat Salamat docked at the pier of Mati, Davao Oriental

The timing of their rescue was coincidentally precise. Fishermen from GenSan found them just before sunset of their fifth day. The survivors were not sure they could make it if they had to endure one more day at sea.

The worst part is that one of the eight survivors died after the rescue! On their way to the hospital inside a vehicle, the unfortunate fisherman quietly lost his life — probably because of intense fatigue.

note: you can click the images to enlarge them

I’m spending my last day in the Davao region. Thankfully, the Low Pressure Area that became typhoon Agaton (and returned to being an LPA) is now out of the Philippine Area of Responsibility.

While most of the news team have been here for more than a week, I am just on my third day as the replacement of Mav Gonzales. She got sick and had to go back to Manila. But still there were plenty of stories to tell.

These giant logs and stones may look like set pieces in a movie shooting. But they are actual souvenirs of a landslide. These uninvited guests destroyed up to 200 structures in Barangay Marayag in the town of Lupon, Davao Oriental. At least, no one died here.

Giant logs and stones remain in Brgy. Marayag, Lupon, Davao Oriental.

Giant logs and stones remain in Brgy. Marayag

All of these debris diverted the flow of the river. The road is part of the river already!

Road river.

Road river.

Meanwhile, I encountered numerous landslide sites as we were driving around Davao Oriental. If only I can stop them from happening, I would!

Landslides everywhere.

Landslides everywhere.

The LPA also triggered river currents strong enough to destroy concrete bridges like the Manurigao Bridge between the towns of Caraga and Baganga. It resulted in isolation; food and basic supplies were scarce in three municipalities. A week after the LPA, the DPWH created a temporary bridge for pedestrians and motorcycles. Business interests took advantage again. Motorcycle rides to Baganga cost 150 pesos per head.

Manurigao Bridge.

Manurigao Bridge.

The San Jose Bridge in Caraga also took a beating from the low pressure area. But it’s now passable to light vehicles. The new temporary bridge rests on a portion of one of the collapsed approach.

Times are really changing. It only took a low pressure area to cause significant damage in the region. But then again, the residents here are the same victims of the devastating typhoon Pablo. They have yet to recover and they will try again to regain their lives back.

San Jose Bridge.

San Jose Bridge.

Davao Oriental is a beautiful place though. Before you enter its capital Mati City, you’ll drive by a zigzag road with a postcard view. Residents call this place the Sleeping Dinosaur.

Sleeping Dinosaur.

Sleeping Dinosaur.

My little Arkin is a fanboy of GMA News. He would rather watch news than cartoons. If you give him an online iPad or iPhone, he can navigate Twitter and identify the thumbnails of various Kapuso newscasts. And he’s just a year and eight months old this December.

So for this Christmas season, I brought Arkin to work and he visited some of his fairy godmothers. Arkin would wave his hand whenever he would see them on TV. But whenever he meets them in person, he is always a quiet and starstruck kid.

Ninang Pia Arcangel

Ninang Pia Arcangel

Ninang Mariz Umali

Ninang Mariz Umali

Arkin didn’t smile for his pictures with Ninang Pia and Mariz. And he never did as well during photo-ops with a few more news personalities! If it were a picture with my boyhood idol Dirk Nowitzki, I don’t know if I can contain my giddiness the same way Arkin did.

Luane Dy, Sandra Aguinaldo and Tonipet Gaba. No one made Arkin smile for the camera.

Luane Dy, Sandra Aguinaldo and Tonipet Gaba.

Arkin was a happier fanboy when he had his picture with Tita Mel Tiangco. He even danced in front of her! There was no need to see a smile on his face though. His eyes wandered happily inside the set of 24 Oras.

Starstruck with Tita Mel Tiangco

Starstruck with Tita Mel Tiangco

I still had to work though. For State of the Nation with Jessica Soho, I did a live report about creative ideas for Media Noche. Chef Nathaniel Uy did three dishes to maximize the round fruits of New Year’s eve.

From this image below, let’s start from the top left dish called an Elvis french toast. The bottom left dish is my favorite; it’s another sandwich that uses ham, apple slices, bleu cheese and arugula. Yes, arugula. Google it up; it’s similar to lettuce.

That mouth-watering dessert in the right panel is a pudding of leftover fruitcake bits and grilled pineapple. Chef Nathaniel recommends a scoop of ice cream on top!

Media Noche Ideas.

Media Noche Ideas.

And after this taste bud treat, I returned to the newsroom just in time for the Friday selfie tradition of the men and women behind Saksi. Another of Arkin’s fairy godmothers found time to join us too!

Saksi selfie

Saksi selfie with Vicky Morales

So there I was walking in one of our office corridors when I stumbled upon Santa Claus. I know he is checking out who has been naughty and nice. So I took a nice picture of us.

I realized we never ask whether Santa actors are naughty or nice themselves.

Unexpectedly but in his typical jolly way, Santa Claus shared her thoughts about Filipina women. He told me never to give them cameras (unlimited selfies) or videoke microphones. I once read in an Internet meme that Santa Claus knows where all the bad girls are. Seriously, Santa, where have you been hanging out?

Santa-Claus-Bam-Alegre

Nice and Naughty

Anyway, Merry Christmas to all of you. I posted a tweet a while ago when I realized I have been living a very fast life because of my work as a news reporter. December drove past me quickly like a blur. But Christmas is a perfect opportunity to stop and think about things that are important to us.