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.)


On-a-Beach State of Mind

At the time of this writing, it is 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-12 C) outside here in Iowa, with patches of unmelted snow from a snowstorm three weeks ago. Typical condition here in our winter “wonder”land (like I “wonder” why I’m still living here?).

This is not your ideal beach weather you would say. But it is a perfect weather to escape to a tropical paradise, even for just a daydream. Please indulge me for posting these photos.


Few weeks ago, my family and I spent a day in a beautiful beach in Ilocos Norte, Philippines. The place is named Playa Tropical Resort.








my son jumping into the infinity swimming pool

During our visit, there was even a wedding being held that day at the resort. I should have crashed into the party and had a free drink and dinner.



If I could just walk again in the sand barefoot, and wade into the warm ocean water….




No, I can’t walk on the water.


O well, time for reality now. I’ll bundle up and clear the snow.


Ocean Dreaming

Growing up in an archipelago means that you cannot go very far from the ocean. Raised in Manila, the nearest ocean is the Manila Bay. Yes it may be filthy to swim there, but it still is an ocean. Of course, I’ve been to nice beaches in the Philippines too.

That’s what I’m missing now. The ocean. Iowa is a land lot, smack in the middle of the continent. The east coast, or the Atlantic Ocean is 1200 miles away, or 19 hours of continous driving. The west coast, or the Pacific Ocean is 1700 miles away, or 27 hours drive. The south coast, or the Gulf of Mexico is 1000 miles away, or 16 hours drive. Forget about the north coast for that will be the Arctic Ocean, which is more than a week drive, plus you don’t want to be there anyway unless you are a polar bear.

There are a few people who grew up here in Iowa who have never seen the ocean, which to me is hard to believe. No idea of the sight of the beautiful vast blue-green waters dancing in the light of the sun. No idea of what the sound of ocean waves lapping against the sandy shore. No idea of the scent of the ocean breeze and the salty ocean mist. No idea of what it feels to walk barefooted in the sand and wade in the warm ocean waters.

That leaves me day dreaming……….sitting idly in a beach…….. under a swaying coconut tree………. sipping fresh cold buko juice. Pinch me.