iPhone Meets iFawn

If you have read my previous post, you know that my iPhone drowned in the ocean.

So I got myself a new iPhone. And I like it. Not because it is bigger, but because it can do more. Except swim, I guess.

I took the following video a few days ago during my morning run. Then my son played with my new phone and he turned this video into a film. He put music, words, and edited it with very little assistance from me, all via the iPhone. Smart kid!

Hope you enjoy.


(*Tapa is cured meat; a favorite Filipino breakfast, usually served with eggs and garlic rice.)



Casualty of Vacation

There are many things that an iPhone or any smart phone, can do. It can let you talk face to face with someone across the globe. You can do your research and write your thesis with it. You can check the weather of any place around the world, even on Mars. It can be your personal secretary and will remind you of your appointments and special events.

But one thing an iPhone can’t do. It cannot swim. That I learned first hand.

We were in Palawan, Philippines, and were doing island hopping. Yes we hopped like bunnies on islands. No, we did not.


no bunnies hopping here

Anyway, we were visiting this one particular island, and I wanted to get a better photo of my son while he was in the water. So I waded in the waist-deep ocean water with our SLR camera in hand, trying so very carefully to keep it above my chest so it would not get wet.

But I forgot that my iPhone was in the pocket of my swimming shorts!

Call it a senior moment. Call it forgetful. Call it distracted. But in our vernacular, we also have a term for it: Tanga! (And it does not mean underwear.)

So my iPhone swam in the ocean. And it drowned.


where my phone took a swim

Right after I realized what happened, I turned off the phone immediately like what I heard from self-proclaimed experts. I wished to do mouth to mouth resuscitation on it, but I knew it was of no use.

I also heard of putting the phone in uncooked rice right away to try to draw out the moisture, just as what I’ve seen in some videos before. Though I don’t really know if that was proven effective. But we were on an island. The only rice we had, was left-over cooked rice from our lunch. I don’t think that would do.

Several hours later, after we’re done from our island hopping, and we’re back in our hotel, me and my nephew tried to do surgery on my phone. My nephew had a kit to open iPhones, though I’m not sure why he carry along these particular tools.

So we opened up my phone, and tried to shake off the salt water inside. We blew it dry with a hair dryer. Yet I could already see signs of damage inside it.


hospital, ah…er, hotel for iPhone surgery

The salvage surgery was unsuccessful. No signs of life in my phone. It was dead on arrival.

I left my phone turned off for several days, still hoping that it will resurrect to life. After a week, and only after we got back in the US, that I brought my iPhone to the Apple store, in their Genius Bar.

After running diagnostics on my phone, it confirmed what I knew all along. My phone was dead.

They cannot even retrieve any data from it, including all my photos. My videos and photos of me on the zip-line were gone, and now I have no proof that I did it.


zip-line where the iPhone rode

I tried to rationalize my loss. Well, it was a 4-year-old phone with a 4-year-behind technology. I needed an upgrade and I was planning to replace it soon anyway. Yet, I have drawn attached to that phone, sentimentally and literally. I never left home without it for the past 4 years.

I guess, I have nobody to blame but me. Or maybe I could blame the iPhone engineers, on why they did not teach the iPhone to swim. Even in ocean waters.

Maybe the next generation of iPhones will. I hope they teach it how to fly too, in case it fall off while I’m zip-lining or bungee jumping.

Um, about bungee jumping….. I think I’ll pass.


In Loving Memory of my iPhone: October 2011- August 2015 

Palawan: Photo Haiku

(The following photos were taken during our recent trip to Palawan, and also inspired these haikus, which are short poems, with traditional 17 syllables, in phrases of 5, 7, and 5.)




Hawak ko iyong kamay,

At ‘tong tsinelas.

(Shadow selfie with wifey at a beach in Sabang)




Hindi tataob,

Alon ma’y maligalig,

‘Pagkat may katig.

(In the sea of life, we also need “katig.”Photo taken at Honda Bay, in Puerto Princesa.)



Lulubog Lilitaw

Dito sa Luli,

Sa Lulubog-lilitaw,

Phone, nagtampisaw.

(The island was named so, as it will appear and disappear depending  on the tide. The water here was so inviting that even my cellphone tried to swim. It drowned.)




Mga bayawak,

Mayro’n sa gubat, at sa

Gobyerno’t syudad.

(Bayawak or monitor lizards are “cold-blooded animals” that prey on smaller creatures and their eggs, or their balikbayan box.)



Dagat at Gubat

Dagat at gubat,

Ng lupang pinagpala,

Ba’t ginahasa.

(Acres of virgin forest in Palawan are being ravaged due to mining.)




Likas na yaman,

Ngunit paraiso man,

Ay mayro’ng kulang.

(Part of our trip was a medical and dental mission in Narra. Here I observed the lack of health care for the people in this paradise island, especially the natives, known as “natibo.”)




Hindi si Batman,

Ang nakita sa kuweba,

Kun’di si Boatman.

(That is what our bangkero called himself, when we explored the Underground River, which is named one of the New 7 Wonders of the Natural World.)


Mission Accomplished

A couple of days after arriving in the Philippines, I found that my credit card was suspended. I was able to use it for 1 or 2 transactions, but the next transaction was denied. I was trying to buy a Barong for myself for my cousin’s wedding, which was the main reason of our trip.

It is not an unusual practice by banks to temporary suspend your credit card, if they think there are suspicious transactions done in your behalf or if your card was stolen. Several back to back big purchases or transactions occurring outside your home area can trigger this alert. It is an added security for the card holder.

Last month, my wife’s credit card was fraudulently used by someone in California, and our bank suspended her account. Good thing they did, for it was not us who made those purchases and the bank did not credit those transactions after they notified us and we confirmed it to them.

Since I was doing transactions in the Philippines, a half a world away from my home address in Iowa, the bank deemed it suspicious and temporary suspended my card.

Usually it is not a big deal if your card is temporary suspended. You just have to call the bank and prove it to them by answering a series of security questions that you are the one indeed who made those transactions, and they will open your account again. Better yet, if you inform the bank that you will be traveling to a particular place, you will save all this hassle. This I forgot to do.

Since my local bank was relatively small, they don’t have 24-hour customer’s service available. I have to call them during their normal business hours, which means at night or very early in the morning while I was in the Philippines. Des Moines and Manila has 13 hours time zone difference.

But I really need my credit card resumed. Going to Tambunting’s pawn shop was not an option.

So there I was, tired and weary from jet-lag, making a phone call to my bank at an unholy hour of 3 o’clock in the morning. Plus my cellphone’s signal was spotty, which is another issue in the Philippines. The known cellular carriers in the US, like Verizon, ATT and Sprint, are not readily available there.

Then after I made my call, I learned that the 1-800 number which was supposed to be free of charge, was not free after all, since I was making an outside the country long distance call.

It was in the wee hours of the morning, and I don’t want to wake up my family, so I made the call inside the bathroom, as I was almost shouting on the phone just to be heard with the poor phone signal and reception.

On top of all of these nuisances, an unwelcome visitor showed up and walked into the bathroom. A visitor I don’t want to see again. A plump big black cockroach!

I don’t need this added distraction.

After several minutes of shouting (or near shouting) and some intense negotiations, I finally did it. Mission accomplished!

I killed the cockroach.



Luneta Revisited

Hindi na siguro kaila sa marami sa inyo, na maraming taon ng aking pagkabata ang aking iginugol sa Luneta. Sa katunayan isa sa mga mabentang akda sa blog na ito ay ang “Alaala ng Luneta.”

Malaki na rin ang pinagbago ng lugar na ito mula nang ako’y lumisan ng bansa, mahagit dalawang dekada na ang nakalipas.

Ngunit muli akong nagulat sa progresong aking nakita nang huli akong magbalikbayan. Talaga namang matayog na ang monumento ni Rizal. Mas mataas na ito kesa George Washington Monument ng Amerika. Niluma rin nito ang Eiffel Tower ng Paris. Wala nang panama ang mga iba pang monumento ng ibang bansa.

Bakit ba hindi natin naisip ito noon?

At kung hindi pa po ninyo nakikita ang bagong monumento ni Rizal, heto na po ito ngayon.


(*image from the internet)

(**ang akdang ito ay bunga ng bangag kong pag-iisip sanhi ng matinding jet-lag.)

Bagong Umaga

Iminulat ko ang aking mga mata. Umaga na pala. Siguro dahil sa pagod at sa puyat, ay tuliro akong nagising at hindi ko alam kung nasaan ako.

Parang kakaiba ngunit parang pamilyar din ang aking kinalalagyan. Parang nakarinig yata ako ng traysikel. Parang may tumilaok din na manok na pansabong. Naalimpungatan ba ako?

Marahil nami-miss ko na ang Pilipinas. Marahil naho-homesick lang ako.

Isang taon na rin ang nakaraan nang huli akong tumapak ng Maynila. Isang taon na pala ang lumipas nang ako’y biglaang napauwi ng Pilipinas dahil sa malubhang kalagayan ng aking ina.

Salamat naman at nagpang-abot pa kami. Ngunit malungkot ang aming pagkikita, dahil siya ay nakaratay sa ospital. Sabi ng aking kapatid, akala daw nila hindi ko na dadatnan na buhay si Mommy. Pero nang mabatid ng aking ina na siya ay aking inuwian, ay parang nabuhayan siya, at uminam pa nang konti ang kanyang kalagayan.

Ngunit matapos ang mga pagsisiyat ng mga duktor ay aming napag-alaman na bumalik ang kanser ng aking nanay. At ito’y lubusan nang kumalat. Wala nang maiaalay pang lunas.

Aming pinagpasyahan na ihanda na ang aming ina sa isang katunayan na doon din naman lahat patutungo. Kaya’t inuwi na lang namin siya sa bahay mula sa ospital, upang doon na mag-hintay na dumating ang kapahingahang magwawakas ng kanyang paghihirap at pagsasakit.

Iyon na ang aming huling pagkikita ng aking ina. Iyon na rin ang huling yakap ko sa aking nanay. Halos mabiyak ang aking dibdib nang ako’y mag-paalam na sa kanya, upang tumulak pabalik sa Amerika.

Dinugtungan pa naman ng dalawang buwan ang kanyang buhay, mula ng kami’y magkita, hanggang siya’y tuluyan nang mag-paalam. Hindi na ako nakabalik sa kanyang libing.

Pero tuloy pa rin ang ikot nang mundo. Tuloy pa rin ang buhay.

Alam kong ang lungkot at pagpapaalam ay bahagi ng hibla ng ating buhay. Ngunit alam ko rin na sa bawat lungkot ay mayroon namang katumbas o higit pang kasiyahan ang sa ati’y ipinangako. Sa bawat pagpapaalam ay may bagong pagkikita tayong maaring tanawin. Ang dilim ay lilipas din at darating din ang umaga. Lagi nating panghawakan ang pag-asang ito hangga’t tayo ay nabubuhay sa mundong ibabaw.

Tapos na ang gabi. Sumusuot na ang liwanag sa mga siwang sa kurtinang tumatabing sa bintana. Bago nang umaga. Panibago nang araw upang lumikha ng mga panibagong alaala.

Tuluyan na akong bumangon at lumabas sa aming silid. Dumungaw sa veranda ng bahay. Sinamyo ko ang mainit na hangin, habang may nagdaraang traysikel at tumitilaok naman ang tandang ng kapitbahay.

Hindi lang pala ako nananaginip. Nasa Pilipinas akong muli.


Tara na, tayo’y mag-almusal muna.

(*breakfast courtesy of my aunts)

Strange Language

A foreigner arrived in the Philippines and was observing how the locals talk.

After she checked-in in her hotel room, she planned to go outside, so she headed to the elevator. While waiting, a mother and her toddler son were also waiting for the elevator.

The toddler tugged on his mother and said:

Child: Dede!

Mother: Dedede?

Child: Dede.

Then the mother handed his son the milk bottle.

When the elevator door opened the mother asked the lady inside the elevator?

Mother: Bababa ba?

Lady: Bababa.

So the mother and her child hopped inside the elevator. The foreigner hopped in too.

After a couple of floors down, the elevator stopped and the doors opened. A man outside asked:

Man: Bababa ba?

Bababa.” The two ladies inside chimed.

What a fascinating language theses locals speak, the foreigner thought to herself. How can they understand each other with just repeating one syllable?

As the elevator doors closed, the toddler tugged again on his mother and whispered:

Son: Pupupu po.

Mother: Pupupu?

Son: Pupu.

The elevator reached the ground floor, and as the elevator doors opened the foreigner tried to break the ice with the locals. She said to them with an amusing smile:

Foreigner: Dadadada.

The locals looked at her baffled? Of course they did not understand her. They just shook their heads and under their breath they uttered: Gaga.

(*Dedicated to all who speak this strange language. Para sa Buwan ng Wika.)


May Isang Batang Nangarap

(Ang tulang ito ay nahugot galing sa baul. Ito ay kinatha at isinulat mga ilang taon nang nakaraan bago pa isilang ang blog site na ito. Dito hango ang post na “Mula Palayan Hanggang Maisan.” Inilathala para sa Buwan ng Wika.)

Sa gitna ng ginintuang palayan,

Sa parang na malayo sa kabihasnan,

Habang pastol na kalabaw ay nakahingalay,

At sa pilapil magsasaka’y tumutulay;

Ay may isang batang nangarap,

Sa ilalaim ng kawayan at alapaap,

Makatapos ng kolehiyo’t sa Maynila manirahan,

Ang matayog na mithiin niyang tangan.

Lumipas ang maraming mga araw,

Yaring bata’y sa hangarin ‘di nagbitaw,

Tinumbasan ng sikap ang mga pangarap,

Hanggang ang panaginip ay lubusang natupad.


Sa gitna ng masalimuot na Maynila,

Sa makitid ngunit balisang kalsada,

Habang ibang bata’y pinupukol pitpit na lata,

At mga traysikel ay umaarangkada;

Ay may isang batang nangarap,

Sa lilim ng pader na malapad,

Magpakadalubhasa’t ibang bansa’y marating,

Ang tunay n’yang mataas na adhikain.

Lumipas din ang maraming araw,

Yaring musmos sa hangarin ‘di nagbitaw

Tinumbasan din ng sikap ang mga pangarap,

Hanggang kanyang panaginip din ay natupad.


Sa isang bahagi ng malawak na Amerika,

Kabila ng patuloy na ugong ng makinarya,

At kislap ng daan-daang ilaw at karatula,

Sa siyudad na walang gabi’t parating umaga;

Ay may isang batang nangarap,

Sa ilalim ng buwang maliwanag,

Sa “space shuttle” lumulan, sa himpapawid lumutang,

Ang mithiin n’yang nais makamtan.

“Bangon bunso, at sa’kiy makinig nang tapat,

Tulad ko at ng aking amang minsan ding nangarap,

Tumbasan ng sipag at pagsusumikap,

Iyong panaginip ay lubusan ding matutupad.”

Bawal Umihi Dito

Bawal Umihi Dito!

Iyan ang sigaw ng maraming pader sa Pilipinas. Kung ikaw ay maglalakad sa ating mga lansangan, ito ang tatambad sa iyo na nakasulat saan mang sulok ka tumingin. Marahil masasanghap mo rin ang mapanghing kalagayan ng ating mga siyudad.

Bakit nga ba kailangan pang isulat ang babalang ito? Hindi ba common sense naman na hindi tayo dapat umihi sa pader, o sa poste, o sa kalye? Sino bang magpapaskil ng “Pwedeng Umihi Dito.” Hindi ba dapat alam natin na ito’y labag sa batas? Pero tanong ng iba, against the law or against the wall?

Sa katunayan, karamihan ng mga munisipyo ay may ordinansa laban sa pag-ihi sa publiko. Maari kang kasuhan ng disorderly conduct o kaya’y indecent exposure pa, at maaring magmulta o makulong. Pero bakit pawang hindi ito ipinatutupad?


(photo from internet)

Hindi sa ako’y nagmamalinis o hinuhusgahan ko ang mga gumagawa nito. Dahil minsan din akong umihi sa gulong ng kotse ng tatay ko, nang ako’y musmos pa. At saka noong panahon nang ako’y nasa kolehiyo, maraming mga lalaking estudyante ang “nagdidilig” ng halaman doon sa may grandstand ng UST bago magsimula ang aming ROTC, dahil hassle ang pumunta sa CR. Join na rin ako sa pagdidilig.

Ngunit ano nga ba ang dahilan kung bakit palasak sa Pilipinas ang pag-ihi sa pader?

1. Una sa lahat, dahil tayo ay nai-ihi.

Oo nga naman, hindi mo gagawin ito kung hindi ka nai-ihi. Pero hindi iyon ang gusto kong sabihin. Ang aking tinutukoy ay hindi kayang mapigilan ang pag-ihi.

Baka may enlarged prostate na si kuya? O kaya nama’y lasing? O baka naman may hyperactive bladder o balisawsaw si ate. (Totoo, hindi lang mga kalalakihan ang gumagawa nito.)

Pero Pinoy lang ba ang hindi makapigil ng kanilang ihi?

2. Dahil nais nating markahan ang ating territoryo.

Alam ba ninyo, na kapag inihian ng aso, o kaya’y isang hayop ang isang puwesto, kanyang ipinapaalam sa ibang aso, o ibang hayop, na ito’y kanyang territoryo?

Pero hindi yata ito angkop sa tao. Dahil kadalasan, hindi natin pag-aari ang pader na ating ini-ihian. Kaya naman maraming nauuwi sa away dahil sa pader ng kapitbahay tayo umiihi. At kung ika’y umihi habang nakadungaw ang ang may-ari, baka hindi lang sigaw, kundi itak ang abutin mo. Putol!

3. Dahil walang sapat na public toilet.

Hindi naman siguro makakaila, na kulang, o talagang wala, tayong sapat na pampublikong palikuran. Kung ika’y nai-ihi, kailangan mong pumanta sa loob ng mall o sa restaurant para umihi. At maaring may bayad pa ito, o pagkahaba-haba ng pila. O kaya nama’y sasabihan kang “para sa customer lang po ang toilet.”

Kaya walang ibang choice kundi pigilin hanggang sa maiihi sa salawal, o humanap na lang ng pader.

4. Hindi ipinapatupad ang batas laban dito.

Alam kong mas maraming malalaking problema ang ating bansa. Tulad ng trapik, o mabagal na ekonomiya, o corruption sa gobyerno. Kaya ba hindi na lang pinapansin ang batas laban sa pag-ihi sa publiko?

At sino ang magpapatupad nito? Ang may-ari ng pader? Mga baranggay tanod? Mga pulis? Mahina siguro ang “kotong” sa mahuhuli dito, hindi tulad sa nahuhuli sa batas trapiko.

Kaya maliban na ikaw ay umihi sa poste kung saan nagtatago ‘yung pulis, malamang bale wala ito. Kaya hanggang sa paskil na “Bawal Umihi Dito” na lang, at ipinauubaya na sa pader na ipagtanggol nito ang sarili.

Pero mayroon na ngayong bagong hydrophobic paint na “pee-proof” daw. Kapag ipinahid ito sa pader, tumatalbog pabalik ang ihi sa sinumang salarin. Makakaganti na rin ang inaaping pader! Magkaroon kaya nito sa Pilipinas?


kaliwa – karaniwang pader; kanan – may “pee-proof” paint (image from internet)

5. Dahil walang galang at walang disiplina.

Siguro dito nauuwi ang lahat ng ito. Wala tayong disiplina sa ating sarili.

Walang disiplina sa batas trapiko. Walang disiplinang pumila sa linya. Walang disiplinang tumupad sa oras. Walang disiplina sa pagtatapon ng basura. Walang galang sa pag-aari. Walang galang sa ibang tao. Walang galang sa ating sarili.

Kung simpleng bagay gaya ng hindi pag-ihi sa pader ay hindi natin kayang disiplinahin ang ating sarili, paano pa kaya ang mas malalaking problema ng lipunan tulad ng pagnanakaw ng kaban ng bayan, corruption, at pagiging tapat sa isa’t-isa?

Kawawa naman ang ating bansa. Sabi pa naman sa ating pambansang awit “duyan ka nang magiting.” Pero siguro nga, kaya sinabing duyan, dahil laging nai-ihian.

Kaya sa susunod, kung may makita kang umiihi sa pader, magalang mo na lang silang paalalahanan. At kung ikaw ang iihi sa pader……”Humarap ka, duwag!”

Special Occasion Candles

Sitting atop of an armoire in our living room is a set of decorative candles that were given to us as a gift, when we moved to Florida. That was about 15 years ago.

When we moved to Iowa, we brought it with us, and these candles remained purely ornamental, as I don’t recall lighting them for the past 10 years or so that we’ve been here in our home in Iowa.

Last night, we drove home in a torrential downpour of rain. It was raining so hard that the road visibility was reduced to a few meters, making the travel perilous. When we arrived home and got into our driveway, the automatic garage door would not open. After several attempts and failing to open the garage with the remote key, I finally went out of the car in the pouring rain, and got in the garage through a backdoor using a traditional key.

That was when I discovered why the garage door would not open. The electricity was out.

Power outage here in our area, or in all the US for that matter, is rare. Unlike during my younger days when I was still in Manila, where black-outs were as common as having dried fish for supper.

I’m not sure what caused the power outage. Maybe it was the heavy rains. Maybe a lightning hit one of the transformers. Maybe the strong wind knock off the power lines. Maybe a deranged cow wandered in the power station. Or maybe the Martians hijacked the power plant. Who knows?

But one thing for sure, there’s a lot of things you can’t do when the power is out. Can’t browse the internet in the computer. Can’t watch TV. We can’t even get in into our house!

As we enter our house, we fumbled to get flashlights. It was a good thing my son has a collection of small flashlights and so we have plenty to go around. He even put on a headlamp, as he excitedly move around like a miner in a cave.

It was dark, so we lit up some candles. We have a couple of aromatic candles that we use whenever we cook fish or other “stinky” Pinoy food to neutralize the smell (see previous post here). Yet the house was still dark, so I proceeded to light the decorative candles in our living room as well.


That’s when my wife told me that they were “special occasion” candles only.

Well, the power was out. It was dark. To me, that was a “special occasion.”IMG_5900

(*photos taken with an iPhone)