Friday, August 7, 2020

Painting and Poetry - The Emerald Peak


Acrylic Painting: "Abstract Topography" 

(reference note: artwork is like a topography map, top-side is north)


I sailed through a rough sea; enduring the biggest waves that one could ever see;

Saw an island and landed on its shore, looked around wondering what was in store;

Then I started to walk towards south,  enduring thirst and a drying mouth;


Then to the west I saw a peak, hiked towards it wanting a peek;

Then suddenly I heard a thunderous ‘boom!’; I ran towards north, dodging rocks - escaping doom;

Exhausted but soon reached the far edge, then I rested safely on a ledge;

Then resumed and walked heading northwest, and suddenly found myself in a pretty forest;

Surprised – I found a big river, the cold refreshing bath gave me a shiver;


Beyond it and past the tree line, a majestic emerald peak stands sublime;

Tackled its steep slope, the view filled me with hope;

And alas on the top I proudly stood,  to find beauty I say – explore we should;

For life’s blessings are not given free, face the danger and favor will come to thee.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Pandemic - Art and Poetry

"Noah at the Sea of Corona"
Related Poetry (re-posting from my Instagram)

I. "Follow the Light"
In a difficult journey, during a raging storm;
Beware of the danger, in all its form;
It's a battle for survival, on the way to the top;
A wrong step or turn, could mean a big drop!
'Twas said - false leaders, they stumble & fall;
Their deputies - struggle & crawl;
The blind? They ignorantly follow,
Plunging into the dark abyss, everyone & all!
But the enlightened ones, they follow the Light;
Through a treacherous, merciless fight;
Painfully, they trudge on relentlessly;
Past the Kingdom's gate, they soon reached gleefully!

II. (untitled)

Take it easy my friend,
Pandemic hasn't reach its end.
The party that you wish to "attend,
Opens the heaven where you'll soon ascend. 
(or, the hell where you'll descend).
The end.

III. (untitled)

Look away & be still - the big storm will soon pass,
Look down & reflect - see the beauty of life,
Look outside & hope - that brighter days will soon come,
Look up & pray - God is with us all the way...

IV. "The Curve"

The way to the Peak is tough & slow, just endure - one step at a time;
Beyond - is a downhill path, easier, fast but slippery;
As the steepness ends & the 'Curve Flattens' - Life brightens up with hopes & dreams...

V. (untitled)
Wait out the big storm,
Wait out the outbreak,
It will pass & end,
Just stay in your tent.


Pandemic Lockdown - Surviving Isolation

Enduring a long stay in Everest Base camp (2006)

Some of our compatriots struggle daily in this difficult time, while some of us have the luxury of finding ways how to live a good life at home.  So let’s be thankful!

I’ve spent 2.5 months in the mountains for my Everest expedition, including +1month (on & off) at the remote and miserable base camp.  While not limited in the confines of a house or a building – it’s a life of isolation devoid of the usual urban luxury.  So how can one survive such a challenge? Let me share what I learned from the experience.

1.      Routine. To put order and system – build a routine & schedule for regular tasks. This will reduce stress of ‘randomness’ and helps one refocus from worrying to executing. That could include your daily tasks (cooking, eating, exercising, playing with kids, reading or watching), or those done weekly (grocery, drive-thru, bike to market, etc.)

Sunday, April 19, 2020

What happens after the Covid-19 crisis?

"Noah at the Sea of Corona" - Painting exercise during locked down period. 

Post-pandemic Predictions
Life – as we know it, will never be the same again.  And more so for our medical front-liners, for those who got infected, and especially those who lost their loved ones.
The SARS COV2 virus is a transformational element that will drive all of us to re-think, reflect and hopefully, do things better for the future.

So, how will the future look like?  Here’s some of my thoughts and predictions of what the world would be like post-COVID19.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Karinderia sa Bahay – My Home-cooking Culinary Journey

Cooking is fun, and with the right ingredients - could be healthier for you. Fun experiment with paella and bell pepper rice. Buying this paella pan made me cook so many paella and jambalaya dishes! 

I advocate active lifestyle and fitness.  But we know that true fitness requires superb health.  And no matter how fit one seems to be, health could be invisibly suffering.  I’ve seen colleagues and heard athletes who all seemed to be in their top shape, suddenly died due to undetected or hidden sickness.

At high altitudes, I’ve seen healthy people suddenly becoming unhealthy and unfit – the lack of oxygen exposing their true health.  And I’ve concluded a long way back that without solid good body, one wouldn't have true, long-lasting endurance and fitness...  
And the capacity to climb big mountains!  Literally and figuratively.

And as cancer seems to run in my family blood – I also became more 'conscious' of my personal health and specifically on what I eat.
Now food is the primary ‘input’ we give to our body.  (For this post, let’s not talk about emotional/social, mental or spiritual health as it will lengthen and complicate my food topic).  And we all know that bad food or wrong nutrition causes bad performance in the short-term, and bad health in the long run.  And debate of what is good and what is bad will be long and endless – so I’ll stick with the basic ‘known’.

My culinary journey is a continual experimentation of cooking to discover new things that better comply with my own requirement on nutrition or health, sustainability, or quality of life (i.e. in terms of what is ‘good-tasting’ and reducing preparation time and cooking effort).

Monday, March 2, 2020

Covid-19 and Earth's Real Virus

Perspective – People are Earth’s virus and Covid-19 is nature’s equalizer
(not pro-disaster, just a self-reflection post)
Eagle ray captured by local fisherman (Bohol, Philippines).  It's cousin - Manta, and other types of rays are hunted for their gills used in traditional chinese medicine resulting in thousands of ray kills every year.  Shark trade is even worse amounting to about 70 to 100 million kills a year!

Imagine – today there’s about 900 million metric tons of CO2 yearly contributed by the aviation industry adding to that +6-degree threat in global ave. temperature. And that’s only 2-3% of total CO2 global emission!
As reference, it will take a big hard wood tree 40 years to absorb 1 ton of CO2.  But 7 billion trees are cut down every year, which will leave the planet forest-free in around 5 generations!

Wildlife trade is a 20+ billion $-trade, 4th to drugs, humans and arms trade – and covers 300 million specimens yearly!  I can’t even imagine how this is possible!

Consumer goods shipments (with the rise of consumerism) is about 300 billion worth of parcels (packaged shipped goods) or about +2,300 parcels shipped every second! Imagine the amount of fuel and resources consumed to produce and ship these products!

These are but some glaring numbers on how humanity abuse and overuse the world’s resources with its infinite demand – to satisfy its insatiable needs.

Imagine Earth’s “delight” seeing an extreme reduction of commercial flights and tourism - offering fresher air and a nice blue sky; a sudden slump on wildlife capture, shipments and trade – promoting animal population recovery if not simply giving back their freedom and peace; or hopefully – a huge reduction of parcel shipments especially those coming from ‘hot zones’ like China. Forget about Lord Vader, nature has its way in ‘bringing balance to the force’.  And this ‘NCOV’ is just a glimpse or taste of what she can do.  

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Taal Volcano National Park - The Brighter Days

I was lucky enough to have visited Taal lake, the pulo (island) and its neighboring towns so many times that it has now become a ‘usual place’ for me.  From a casual weekend getaway in Talisay town coupled with an easy hike to view the ‘island within a lake within an island within a lake’, to an easy hiking trip on Mt Maculot (which is part of the Taal Volcano National Park), or the countless overnights in some hotels along Tagaytay (caldera) ridge;

And once in a while – a more serious lake activity ranging from boat rescue training or race event, a +2-hour kayak visiting the innumerable fish pens, a topper or hobie cat sailing course, and even a grueling 35km Taal island kayak circumnavigation. 
Rescue Regatta event - using plywood 'bahangka' for the race (myself standing, doing final checks before the whistle-start).  At Talisay town (north of the lake)

Although I’ve “seen” Taal in its nastiest mood – particularly old black-and-white photos displayed in Taal Hotel (Tagaytay), I couldn’t say that I’ve really seen her violent side.  Until now, or perhaps more on the days to come.

While it’s temporarily difficult to see the true beauty of Taal, and just to peel away from the sobering sights of ‘death and destruction’, it may be a good time to reminisce the good old days.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Of Yosemite, Boracay, Travel book, 100 runs and Rabbits

2019 – A year in review

I finally made it to Yosemite, finished writing the first draft of my travel manuscript, did an outreach in a urban poor day care center, finished my 100 x5km run (500km), discovered recipes for my healthy dish versions of duck and rabbit meat, and did a few other minor things.
The summary somehow revealed that I should be doing more in life, but of course – my summary did not mention responsibilities at work and at home which usually takes a lot of our personal time.
Still, it was a good enough year creating a momentum to do more, to eat healthier, to travel more, and yes – to go back climbing!

My US travel was my only major travel last 2019 but which covered New York, Cincinnati, San Francisco, Napa Valley and the highlight – Yosemite national park.
At Pier 39 San Francisco - tourists meet lazy sea lions!  (2019)

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Of Sheep and Kiwi


I arrived at Christchurch in an icy early morning time and not wanting to lose a day, I decided to skip town and headed north.  Kaikoura on the South Island’s northeast would be my first point of tour.  

Violating my flexibility principle of not booking anything in advanced, I’ve decided to play safe for the first day and booked a 25-NZ$ hotel in this remote town.  Who knows what I’d find or who I would encounter in some mysterious far-off coastal village that had killed and harvested thousands of whales in its hay days.  I’ve imagined drunk old men resembling a bad version of Jack Sparrow, glistening hooks hanging around and blood-stained walls. Of course, that was just the effect of watching too many horror movies.

It was a tolerably long bus ride covering a little more than 180 km in less than (3) three hours.  Along the long road, countless sheep in vast green fields were the common sight. And as if to emphasize that point, one road section was temporarily blocked by hundreds of slow-going sheep strutting their way on and along the road.   The bus driver halted on the roadside letting every single one of them safely cross and move to the other side. For us tourists, it was a curious moment. We alighted for a good photo opportunity.

Interestingly, sheep – among many other larger-than-rat mammals were not native to New Zealand and most were in fact invasive.  So were snakes.  Presence of a single snake on board a docked ship would be a headline news!

Friday, September 20, 2019

Like Summer in Tuscany

Above the hill overlooking the city of Florence.

Riding a train from Roma to Florence was easy.  Except that we were left behind by our train. Like in a movie scene where one was running tens of meters behind an accelerating train, sprinting hard to catch its rail… In real life and in our case – we ran as fast as we could but we failed to catch the train!
Booking the next train seemed painful but there was a simple lesson there.  Don’t buy a ticket 10 minutes before departure!

After an hour, we boarded our more patient train. The ride was easy, the train clean and fast and the country-side view compensated for my ‘pain’.   It was not long before we arrived in the station. 
Disembarking with my 20-kg bag, I started navi-guessing and this time, given relatively smaller city– I found it so much easier to navigate around.  Our yet-another-mysterious hostel, do not have signage but a mere building number. We buzzed in an old building when we saw a floor that bore the hostel’s name ‘Leonard’.  It seemed like, few of the rooms and floors of the old building were rented as hostel.  Probably a common practice in Europe.  Why build a hotel when you can rent a building floor, right?

The room was old but wasn’t bad.  Its toilet has a vintage mechanical flush which was functional and looks cool. We settled down, changed clothes and prepared for a stroll-out.  It seemed for me that Italian in general, and specially in Firenze – people make an extra effort to dress up unlike a typical New Yorker.