Friday, December 22, 2006


I got interviewed by the inimitably irreverent Benito Vergara. He is the thinking man's Mo' Twister of blog interviews. Nice chap. Nice questions. Not so nice answers.

1. Ever thought to yourself: frack it, I should be Secretary of the Department of Tourism? Where would you start?

I would start by....

Read the rest here. It won't take much time.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Well, people in MY neighborhood actually. Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to ANTHONY SJ DEGUZMAN CPO PN (Res) of the 201st Philippine Naval Reserve Command, a fellow tour guide for the city of Intramuros. For months, I promised him a plug and here it is (Sorry, Anthony, for the delay). He comes with my highest recommendations if you are looking for a tour on a kalesa at the last minute (he is posted by the ticket booth of Fort Santiago everyday). I especially recommend him if you are looking for a tour with a military history angle. It's his specialty and he even wears his military uniform to complete the effect. Anthony is the one in the center of the picture above, the large white man on the right side is a retired US Navyman from Texas who apparently was rather pleased with his tour. I totally forgot the name of the guy in the kalesa to the left. I just call him "Manong" (a term of respect meant for an elder one).

Anthony's mobile no. 0919 8005731.

Sunday, December 10, 2006



This is not going to be a post about the movie, "Borat". Lord knows there are enough people on the blogosphere rambling on about how much they loved or hated this movie. This will be a post about Kazakhstan itself (below), who's reputation truly suffered in Sasha Baron Cohen's inglorious depiction of their country as a urine-drinking, sister-pimping nation of Anti-Semites.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed Cohen's edgy brand of covert ambush comedy, I must admit that was slightly disturbed as well. Hailing from a frequently misunderstood and overlooked place like Manila, I too sympathized with Kazakhstan's offense at his portrayal of their perceived "backwardness". So in order to set myself straight about the facts surrounding this energy rich nation of 16.7 million people sandwiched between Russia and China, I naturally referred to "google" of course. And lordy, was it an enlightening endeavor. Just click onto Kazakh Info: a non-profit "Official Site" for Kazakhstan information and for the promotion of all things Kazakh, and you can see perhaps where SBC mined his content.

Entry describing the former Capital of Almaty: "Today, Almaty is known as the commercial capital of Kazakstan. Since the official move of the capital to Astana in July, most businesses have remained in Almaty. One of the main reasons for this is that there is no international flights directly into Astana at this time."

Okidoki. Kind of an odd entry. Why would one who wishes to promote their country want to emphasize the inaccessibility of their capital?

Or their entry on the city of Aqtau: (It} means "white mountain" in Kazak, so named after the vast, flat steppes surrounding the city! It has become somewhat of a tourist location because of it's location along the Caspian Sea. Just don't plan on taking a bath while you are there as the water comes out of the tap brown."

Um. Ok. Who wrote this one? I would send him on the first train to Siberia if I were his boss. But this entry by far is my favorite:

"This city was originally founded as a fortress in 1824 and named Akmolinsk. It was renamed Tselinograd (Russian for Virgin City) during the rule of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. The main reason for this name change was to promote more permanent agriculture in Northern Kazakstan during the Virgin Lands Program. The cities name was again changed in 1991 to Aqmola, when Kazakstan gained it's freedom. Because the name Aqmola sounded too much like "White Grave", Nazarbayev changed the name to Astana (literally "Capital") in 1998."

I truly enjoyed this one. It was so understated, funny and surreal without trying at all.

But not that the site is without it's more disturbing parts:

"The climate of Kyzl Orda has also under gone a change since the Soviets took power. Talking to Kazaks who have lived there for many years, they have noticed that the winters are colder and the summers hotter. Much of this may be attributable to the shrinking of the Aral Sea."

Or even worse, this:

"Semey is perhaps best known for the nuclear testing that was done nearby. This was the major nuclear testing sight for the Soviet Union. Much of the testing was done above ground, causing the spread of radiation throughout the area. Reservoirs were even made using a nuclear explosion to provide water for the residents. Over 470 nuclear bombs were exploded here between 1949 and 1989. Semey is only 93 miles (150 km) from where most of the testing occurred. Because of the lack of environmental concerns, many of the citizens of Semey suffer some form of radiation poisoning."

Good heavens. It's no wonder that this site gives barely any information about travel and accomodation at all. So the next time one complains about the negative and inaccurate information disseminated about the Philippines out there on the world wide web, well, think again...

Click onto more accurate information about Kazakhstan here:

And read about their desire to build the world's biggest yurt here:

And finally, thank you Ivy, for the lovely post about the CCP tour on your blog. Yes, I know, the bureaucracy was mind-blowing, no? But things are better now between the CCP, Coconut Palace, and I.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


So apparently UberadagencyBBDOGuerreroOrtega is opening a gallery called "Cemento". It opens tomorrow night at 6:00PM at the 11th floor of the Insular Life Building. (Ooh. Cool. What a retro address.) Insular Life is located at the corner of Ayala Avenue and Paseo de Roxas in Makati. The opening exhibition is David Byrne's photos for the book, Manila Envelope. Yes. That David Byrne. The Talking Head.

After checking that out, I'm also going to head out to Green Papaya in Quezon City for "Postmodernism is So Last Season". Hope I don't get there too late. Lots of great artists on the list.