Wednesday, April 28, 2010

37.3 deg C in Manila

Highest temperature recorded in Manila this year.

And the air-conditioner in my office are broken. Holing myself in a conference room where the air-cond still works.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Being Good at What You Do and Doing a Good Job.

One other thing that interest me is how some people are good at what they do. Its talent of course but finding talent is not so easy. Well, I came across someone that I thought worth talking about.

get invited to all sorts of events due to work. Recently I was invited to this joint-campaign from Johnson & Johnson with a local retailer called Bayo and I thought was pretty innovative. It combined J&J's Body Care product with the retailer 'Soft-Look' Collection,  Their product really fits into each other image.

But that is not what I wanted to talk about.

I want to talk about the model headlining the campaign. I forgot her name but she was really good at what she did.

This is her walking down the runway

This is her with the crowds after the show

What struck me really is how good she was in conducting herself at all times. She was professional down the runway giving the usual various model looks i.e. poutty, serious etc. , but when required, she turned on her killowatt smile on a dime. She did it all night for a long list of adoring fans and each time the camera flashed. At one time, I was actually hanging out with supermodels in Milan, Paris as part of my job. I met Claudia Schiffer, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, etc. They were the same way at shows but of course they hung out only with the rich and famous. This is what it takes to be good like any job  - talent and dedication.

I like people who are good at what they do and do their job well.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hot Summer in the City

I mentioned it was hot and hence hankering for either the beach or the mountain. One of my friend updated me that he thought the temperature hit 40.5 deg C.  So I decided to check it. The papers said that it hit 36deg C last Sunday - no wonder it was still hot up in the hills of Antipolo. Yesterday it hit 36.5deg C

According to weather report most days the temperature is around 35deg C most days. But during the night, it falls to as low as 24deg C. It literally dessert weather we are looking at here. There is no cloud in the sky during the afternoon. There are some during the early morning.  This is El Nino year which means this is as hot as it gets here.  When and if the rain comes, the temperature should be better.

Nevertheless, the humidity is not very high so its actually not that bad. It kind of remind me of when I was in Arizona visiting my younger sister when she first entered college.

Its suppose to hit new records again this weekend. Just makes you want to go to the beach (or the mountain) but the nice beaches are at least a few hours away and can't do a day trip.  Any small nice beaches nearby is owned by an expensive resort or gated-development.  There is a bit of beach reclamation work being done as part of  the Coastal Highway project - I think if it gets done decently right - it will help tourism in this country. Seriously which self-respecting European and Aussie don't want to head to good beach in this weather and then party all night in Makati, Ortigas and Malate later?

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Hills of AntiPolo

If you look at the satellite map of Manila, you will see that Manila basically sits on a big plain with mountains to the North and East. The eastern hills are part of the Sierra Madre range that covers the Eastern side of Luzon Island. The current hot weather makes the hills look like California Hills from parts of the city. I was curious about it so decided to venture out to see it.

I took the Marcos Highway through Antipolo City all the way to Tanay province to a small town called, get this - PALO ALTO! (Palo Alto actually mean Tall Tree). The two-lane-each-side-road was choked full of Jeepneys and trucks and a few parts were not in good condition. Most part of the roads had either small shops, building. At various points there were actually large open air markets.

If you.glance at the roadside, there appear to be nothing interesting with small shops, buildings, stalls and some points were big open wet markets. On lower elevation, the hill houses are huts or looked make-shift - poor neighhourhoods. But as you climb up the hills the houses begin to look nicer and at some places, there were even big developments including golf resorts. I saw a few hillside resort signs but they did not look very promising. In this hot weather, its not very cool in the hot sun. During the 'Ber' months it should be pretty cold though.

There are no convenient point to stop along the road although you can catch some view of the city from a few places. I stopped at these points and the wet market to get an idea what people here do and why they live on these hills. At some point in the past there were labour-intensive factories nearer to the city and these people used to work for those factories. At nearby Marikina City, they are still known for their shoe making. Many people probably still commute to those towns for work by the look of the many Jeepneys plying the route.

What you do see is a lot of hardware stores, building suppliers and auto-shops although there are not many cars on the roads. Its obvious there are construction. But the markets do not look like they have strong agri-industry. The north and eastern part are mostly mountain and secondary forest. Building roads in these types of terrain is also difficult. But I expected some sort of strong hill economy like fruits and vegetables but there are none to be seen. There is not much traffic also because the eastern part of the Island do not have much of an economy. They have some great beaches and there are good surfing to be had but when the typhoon season comes, this eastern part of Luzon Island get the worst hit especially the North.

It dawned on me why there is so little development on these hills - while its only slightly cooler in the summer compared to the lowlands, in the 'Ber' months it could be cold especially at night requiring HEATING. Coupled with the higher cost to build roads, earth moving and building walls, having homes here is either out of necessity, tradition or a luxury. Just make sense to build on the plains than it is in these hills..

Saturday, April 10, 2010

South West Manila - Coastal Road, Bacoor, Novoleta, Cavite City, Rosario

Since I got here I have been wondering about the Coastal Road that goes from Manila to the South West Part of Luzon. I just like driving through coastal towns - something about sea air and open road just refreshes me. I have explored many parts of the world's coastal towns - they usually have rich history and interesting character.

Anyway, no one I know said much about it. Someone told me, there was some rough neigbourhoods. Others told me the traffic is bad and the roads are narrows. So given its a long holliday weekend, I decided to brave it and burn some gas.

The first part is pretty much a big highway. On one side is actually mostly sandy wetlands. Long time ago, there must have been thriving fishing activities. Whatever sea economic left are fish and salt farms. On the other side of the road it looks like any average urban neighbourhood in Manila with lots of billboards, narrow neighbourhood streets. There is a lot of roadwork being done. After the first big town Bacoor, then you noticed something - the roads are narrower especially if you turn towards the towns of Cavite City, Noveleta, Rosario.

One of the thing that struck me was, while you don't see a lot of wealth and economic activities and there are pockets of slums and huts along the many small river banks, pretty much most of the roads are clean, well-paved, well-lit, the houses are pretty and well-maintained (some even quite interesting with Spanish influence. Some parts is even quite charming with lots of 'beach colors' like GREEN(lots of green for some reason), ocean blue, red, yellow. There is a lot of tricycle like many small towns in Philippines and the colourful buses (its not jeepney!) that clog the roads, people look seemingly healthy, well-dressed, comfortable. I stopped by a few places to get refreshment and even walked the narrow neigbourhood streets and wet markets. The houses were VERY CLEAN and well-maintained. It looked like a new village or big politician kampung in Malaysia but more colourful and more interesting architecture close to the Carribean.

This is Cavite City town center

If you look at look at the background below, you will notice how nice the houses are although the streets are very narrow.

Young Pinay Muses from Town Fiesta

This is landmark building with old Spanish influence.

The First Center of Power

These are actually minibuses but they are not so mini and like Jeepneys and tricycles, they tend to block the roads..

bus- jeepney hybrid 4

What I could not figured out was what the people did for a living. There were good number of fish farms, some small resort hotels and a few up and coming big development and resorts but it does not explain what the very sigificant population do for a living. There are no big factories, no bpo activities, not much agriculture or offices - yet there are quite a few banks, a number of new malls, the many tricycles and buses are quite packed with people with shopping bags must be doing something to afford it. The houses really are pretty and well-maintained - many with a few new big cars too. There were skin care clinics, internet cafes, fast-food places and malls of course.

One thing I learned was that there is a big project called Sangley Point - its a former US Naval base and now a Philippine Naval Base that will be turned into a logistic hub port, airport, rail - a kind of Tanjung Pelepas but more integrated and with tourism added. It explains why there is a number of big infrastructure project including huge reclamation and highways being built. .Its a great idea. I would love to come by on weekends just to have a picnic, take some seafood, take in the sea air especially with the heat we are experiencing. (If you are thinking Jersey Shores, that is about right) The wind is really good for some great sailing. Someone should look into a Sangley Point Regatta at some point.

There are suppose to be some crispy chips made from mussels called Tahong Chips and one pickled in corn oil but I could not find them. Also supposedly a very famous pao place that everyone stops to get. Next time..