Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tekkie, Tekkie

In 1992, my computer was a 386 clone. It had two megabytes (yes ..megabytes) of memory, a forty megabyte hard disk and runs on the first generation of Windows (the one with the leafy wallpaper) and a colored monitor. By present standards, I could load that computer with approximately ten MP3 songs, or about twenty mid-resolution pics, or one bootleg video clip. Nothing else.

I also own a dot matrix Epson that took three days to print one page of my term paper.

Not satisfied with mediocrity, I decided to update my computer myself. I bought memory chips, a 120 megabyte hard disk and went about my merry way of installing it myself. When I booted up the computer, the screen just froze, nothing. At this point, all of my illusions of becoming the next Bill Gates vanished like cheese samples on a toothpick. I brought the unit to a friend who happily repaired it. I ended up having four megabytes of memory (sweet!!), and a slaved 120 megabyte hard drive (sweeet…). I could now do more stuff with my computer like play strip poker (cyber porn’s humble beginning) or play Flight Sim (first generation, grainy stuff).

I remember during this time having a conversation with my law classmate Bobbet Bruce. He told me that his uncle was involved in a new technology that will change the way we store data in our computers. I told him then that with the way hard drives are being made (remember, I had 120 megabytes of bad-ass memory!!) and how they are improving, a new technology in storing data is pointless. He told me that the new technology would have no moving parts and could store data in small devices. It could also store data for missiles and a host of military application. It is called FLASH MEMORY.

I’m glad I ignored him.

At around this time also, another friend told me another stupid idea. His idea is simple, open a portal in the internet where people can look up their friends and post their pictures.


I told him in all sincerity.

I’m glad he took my advice and he never followed through with this stupid idea. Otherwise, he would be today just another dotcom billionaire instead of a successful lowly- paid government lawyer. Did I mention that he wanted me killed?

Fast forward to 2009. I own an upgraded Net book, a four-year desktop, a Garmin GPS, two 3-G phones. My USB thumb drive’s 4-gigabyte of memory is also 100 times more powerful than my 386’s hard drive.

I also practice New Technology Law and I am also the company’s copyright master on the internet.

Does this make me officially a geek? Heaven forbids.

Now where is my latest edition of PC Buyer’s guide?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Last Day of School

Ateneo de Manila University Campus, Loyola Heights Q.C., March 28, 2009, 0945 AM.

I always have the misfortune of having one of the last exam dates on campus. By design or by some cruel joke, my class is always the last to take the exams, and this year is no exception. This is the last day of the school year and the last day of the exam week and I have the last time slot in the finals. By now the campus is almost empty of students and teachers. The hallways which used to be teeming with the noise of close to 12,000 students and faculty are now gone. In their place is the clanging of hammers and cleaning equipment as the maintenance personnel start the grueling ritual of regenerating the school’s facility.

There are now very few vehicles parked in what used to be crowded parking lots. The only distant noise comes from a group of youngsters playing baseball in Loyola’s fields. The JG SOM mall’s food kiosks are being boarded up in anticipation of new concessionaires. The benches are empty except for a young couple oblivious to the change of seasons.

This is the time to remember the old campus—the one I fell in love with when I was a college Freshman 23 summers ago. How times have changed.

In 1986, we only had the old College of Arts and Science and close to 3000 students or about 750 students per batch. Now there are 750 freshmen in the School of Management alone, and the Loyola Campus is now home to close to 12000 students. Back then, if you walk through the Loyola Campus on a Saturday afternoon, there would hardly be a soul there –except for those taking ROTC. That is one bonus of being here on the last day of the school year; it sends you back to simpler times.

But there are still hints of Ateneo’s old charm. The big tree lining the main roads and the Bellarmine Field still unfurls its loose shades. In the last 23 years I’ve seen these trees felled several times by typhoons, but they are still standing today—a testament to their strong roots. Outside on Katipunan Avenue, their brothers have been mercilessly cut and balled by Bayani Fernando’s minions. The C5 road system now cuts across what used to be the sleepy Katipunan Avenue. At least Shakey’s and Tia Maria are still there.

The Blue Eagles Gym and its huge logo have been dwarfed by the many high-rise buildings. At another corner of the campus now lies the Blue Eagle Gym’s grandson—the Moro Lorenzo Center, whose hardwood used to carry the markings of the Golden State Warriors of the NBA.

The baseball and football fields now sport well manicured lawns---in contrast to the summer brown we were used to. These green fields are littered with the blood, guts and tears of so many defeated athletes. The place is also littered with broken hearts and broken promises of so many love that was found and love that was lost. I used to joke to my class that their generation has sex appeal, while my generation had “sex sa field”. Impossible to do now, since there are several condominium units facing the fields.

Forty three minutes go then, then it’s officially summer for me.

Monday, March 9, 2009


My memories of summer will not be complete without mentioning the old movies that we used to watch in the afternoons. When I was young two stations RPN-9 and GMA-7 showed old movies in the afternoons. When the sun is scorching hot and it’s too sunny to play, you spend the early afternoon hours watching tagalong movies.

My favorite afternoon movies are the X-44 movies of Tony Ferrer. Ferrer played a James-bond like rip-off character named Tony Falcon, Agent X44. While Bond works for the British Secret Service, Falcon works for the NBI. Bond is assigned to the licensed-to-kill Double 0 section. Falcon works for the X-Division.

While Bond prefers a tuxedo or a coat and tie, Falcon wears an all white outfit that always remain clean, even after a fight. His fighting style reminds you of Bruce Lee. The sound effect for the fight scene sounds like this:

Whozzzut !!! Whozzut!!! Whozzut!!!

While tons have been written about the gadgets of Bond as created by Royal Armorer Q, Falcon has his own fancy gadgets. I am fascinated by Tony Falcon’s leather shoes, at the end there is a knife blade that stick out during a fight. The heels are also conveniently an emergency breathing apparatus. During one movie, Falcon was trapped in a flooding tank (they ripped that too from James Bond) and just when the water was about to reach his head, he takes out the heel of his shoes and there it is an underwater breathing device.

In another movie, (Don’t laugh yet) Falcon used his shoe as a gas mask to protect himself from poison gas.

Who makes his shoes? Is it my imagination or is the NBI armament guy from Marikina?

And, how can you forget Tony Falcon’s sports car? It has a black and white TV monitor there as part of the communicator. Sadly, the props department was a little bit rushed to create the hi-tech dashboard as they forgot to erase the brand “RADIOWEALTH”.

As if ripping off Bond is not enough, at the opening of each Falcon movie, he gets a coded message from the NBI director giving him a new assignment (ala Mission Impossible). In one of the movies Falcon was standing in Luneta Park, waiting for his message. Then a lone balut vendor approaches him. Naturally the balut vendor is the courier, but off course, they would have to exchange in coded spy-flick nonsense before the message is passed on :

Vendor: Ang Pusa ay Umakyat sa bunganga ng bulkan..
Falcon: Mukhang malamig ang hangin sa hilaga
Vendor: Masaya ang mga huni ng lorong ligaw
Falcon: Ang araw ay mas makinang kung sisilipin ng salamin

(ay, ambot...)

Only after this coded exchange will the message be passed on. In this case, the message was inside the salt packet given with the balut. Isn’t the NBI office just a few blocks away from Luneta? Would it have easier if Falcon reported to the office?

The bad guys in the movies feature stereotypical local thugs whose lines are limited to “Mga Inutil”. “Mga Bata” and the famous last words “Eto na ang katapusan mo Falcon.”. However, there are also the James Bond inspired villains out for world domination.

And the girls? What will a James Bond rip-off look like without the girls in skimpy outfits. Here’s the funny part, many of Falcon’s girls are actually caucacians!! Thus the most memorable scene in Pinoy action movie. Picture this, Tony Falcon, in a round mattress bed (yes..round…like the bed where they found the dead Barry White), bare chest, brandy glass in hand, suddenly a Caucasian girl in lingerie enters the bedroom, Falcon takes one long look at his prize, and mouths the immortal words..


So much for the art of seduction.

Fast forward to the 21st Century. Two years ago, they produced another X44 movie that starred Vhong Navarro. Bad choice. The movie flopped and I am not surprised.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Grill of My Dreams

There is a little caveman in every manly man and every once in a while we get this manly urge to cook things using an open fire. They say that what distinguishes Homo Sapiens from the rest of his predecessors is the use of tools and the application of fire. We are a specie that gained dominance over this planet not through brute force-- like the dinosaurs before us. We learned to use our head and extended our limitations through our tools and of course fire.

Grilling is almost second nature to any man. Everytime he sees fire the first thing that comes to mind would be “Could I cook with that?”. Thus the necessity of having his own grill is probably one of the most essential part of a man’s house. Here’s a hot tip for all the women out there: don’t let the man design your kitchen. If you do, you’d end up not having a stove, but you will never run out of firewood. At least your kitchen would look like something used by George Washington.

My first grills were the aluminum thingy that you buy from the grocery. Made from aluminum and tin scraps-- not very strong. A few weeks later, the thing is ruined –softened by the intense heat of the charcoal.

My next attempt at fiery love took the shape of an old steel drum. I had it split length wise, had a hinge made on the cut mark and viola, a barrel grill similar to the ones you see in those roadside eateries. Having two barrel halves meant that I could use one of them as the cover for my grill. Came out quite nice. The shape of the bottom half created a nice shape to concentrate the heat on my meat (heat on my meat..I don’t quite like the sound of that). I was cooking steaks and barbecues like a pro. A one inch, 8 ounce steak would be medium done in ten minutes or so. But just like any hot and sordid affair, all things have to end. I was having so much fun with my barrel grill that I forgot about how heat changes the chemical composition of metal. High heat and exposure to moisture would result in rust. Thus, my barrel grill ended up like the rest of the metal barrel population, eaten by oxygen and turned to a rusty hulk.

At this point, I should have given up and just simply bought one of those expensive high end porta-grills that you see at ACE Hardware. But there is something inside me that would not accept the idea of defeat and settling for one of those ready-to-have, nice to look at LPG/ electric combo grill. Ok..not to mention the fact that I am bone stingy (Ilokano here..).

So I embarked on a new quest. This week my trusted handyman Peter made me a concrete pit grill. The grilling are is BIG, about 26 inches long and about 16 inches wide. When I saw it taking shape, I almost had a woody (maybe not..hahaha) . I know that I had to get the perfect grate for me to cook on. Never mind those stainless grates you buy in the grocery, I just had to get one from a foundry. So off to the phone books I went, looked for a foundry shop selling cast iron metal grates. Luckilly, I found one in Baesa.

The place was a sweat shop! Run down factory, dilapited walls and furniture, scrap metal strewn all around. But, in the midst of what seems like ferrous hell, I knew what I came in for : METAL GRATE, CAST IRON, HEAT TEMPERED. I was imagining metal grates that I saw on a TV cooking program.

What they had in the factory were ditch covers. But the covers were cast iron and had the perforations I needed to sear through meat. They were thick too, about ¾ inch thick and quite heavy at around 15 lbs each. I bought four of them so when placed together will cover my grill.

When I got home, I was overwhelmed by the size of the grill and how manly it appeared after I placed my cast iron grates. Having a grill 26 x 16 inch meant that I could cook in one sitting eight large cut of steaks or about thirty sticks of barbecue. All cooked and seared by charcoal and the direct heat of cast iron.

My next project will be a rotisserie like the ones they have in Kenny Rogers. Now all I need to do is tear down the living room.

I'm Back

Six months later, here I am typing away. A lot of things have happened since the last time I wrote in this blog, and the feeling of starting again is never easy. There are millions and millions of blogs on the worldwide web, I disillusioned myself unnecessarily by thinking that I could get an immediate audience. The silence of not having to hear a feedback was indeed deafening to say the least. I started this blog as an experiment in creative writing—I needed to see if I can undo fifteen years of writing as a lawyer . Somewhere along the way, the original plan got sidetracked and I began deluding myself with having to establish myself as a well-followed writer. Thus, it became harder and harder to write and the keyboard strokes became more difficult as I plowed through the ritual of trying to please my phantom audience.

I needed to find out what I wanted to do with this blog. There are so many things I wanted to do with this blog but could not come around and do it.
Not to mention the many things that life threw my may in the last six months---a new baby, the health problem of my father, the seven unit teaching workload I was given in Ateneo.

So just like millions of bloggers out there who lost it and are now aching to come back, here I am, back, I hope for good.