The Pacman Up Close

My small fist meets Pacman’s fist in this photo.

I had the chance to watch Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao shoot a TV commercial, then joined a small group of media people interview him up close.

Today, Manny Pacquiao seeks his 8th world boxing title against Antonio Margarito.

I blogged about my experience with the Pacman up close at my other blog, The Philippine Beat. Read all about my interview with him by clicking HERE.

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Bloggers Join in Welcoming U.S. Cultural Affairs Officers

Ever since Pres. Barack Obama was ushered into the highest position of the land in the United States on the back of a campaign built with the help of the internet and new media, the landscape of government has never been the same. The ease of Pres. Obama with tech, new media (bloggers), the web, and social networking sites is showing in the way the U.S. embassies around the world are slowly becoming open to bloggers being included in their events.

Right here in the Philippines, I am witnessing a new openness, a willingness by the U.S. Embassy to engage the citizens of the country they are living in and reach out to the ordinary man in the persons of bloggers. To me this is a delightful FIRST. After all, we bloggers do not hold any outstanding achievement in any political, cultural, academic or artistic arena. We are not part of large media organizations that are normally invited to cover embassy events. All we own is that piece of real estate in the blogosphere we can rightfully call ours where we exercise our right to freedom of speech and thought, where we express our opinions and dreams, and very rarely, rant.

Firstly, my wedding godchild (inaanak sa kasal), Jay de Jesus, became the first ever to join the U.S. Embassy in Manila as their Emerging Media Specialist for Public Affairs. That title is loaded!!! Jay is basically the point person for the embassy’s social network sites (SNS), really raising the bar of SNS as  a major communication and feedback tool.

The very first invitation I received as a blogger from the U.S. Embassy was for a reception dinner at the USS Blue Ridge (the flagship of the US Seventh Fleet) when it docked in Manila for a visit.

Last Friday, bloggers got a second invitation. This time, it was a reception for the U.S. Cultural Affairs Attache, Alan R. Holst, and the Assistant Cultural Affairs Attache, Joseph Tordella.

The cozy dinner, hosted at the home of Counselor for Public Affairs, Richard W. Nelson, was meant to introduce the two to Manila’s cultural circuit. Present were people representing their own spheres of influence in the arts, music, literature, sports, theater, education and so on. The Cultural Affairs spearheads, sponsors, and is involved in several projects in these fields. Professional visits and exchange programs between the Philippines and the United States are handled by these officers.

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The Other Side of My Blogging Life

I have not really had time to blog about what I had been doing these past months. It’s been a whirlwind time doing my usual mommy activities while participating in a new advocacy. Since October of 2009, I became part of a group of concerned citizen bloggers who wanted to do something other than our normal blogging. We wanted to push voter education and thought we could do something as there was quite a large online community if we put our readership together.

With my mommy blogger friend Noemi starting the whole effort, Blog Watch was put together. Starting with 16 bloggers, we grew to 31 by the time the May 10, 2010 elections came. By then, we had interviewed 7 of the 9 presidential aspirants (see pics below. I missed out on Bro. Eddie’s interview), some running for VP and senators, and a few local government candidates.

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President Aquino’s Inaugural Cake

As I was covering the post oathtaking of President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III at Malacanang Palace, I entered a room leading to the venue of our media briefing when something caught my eye. There before me was a beautiful, fondant cake shaped like Malacanang Palace itself.

It turns out the cake was the masterpiece of Penk Ching and Shen Ratilla of Pastry Bin. I was lucky to bump into Penk, the master cakemaker herself, to get some initial cake details.

She was busy overseeing the moving of the cake so I got more details on the cake itself the following day. Here are some interesting trivia on the cake from Penk herself (as well as some other info I gathered from press articles):

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Earth Hour 2010

Earth Hour 2010 happens on March 27, 2010.

On this day, people all over the world will turn off their appliances and lights for one hour starting at 8:30 PM.

This will be the third year that my family will be joining this endeavor. Here are my 2008 and 2009 posts on it.

We can no longer ignore the effects of climate change. Just see the frequency and intensity of earthquakes happening around the world. In my own country, the Philippines, we are now experiencing a very harsh El Nino with very little rain and drought in many agricultural places. Last year, we were hit by Typhoon Ondoy which brought floods to Metro Manila in places that have never experienced floods. Many other countries are experiencing freak weather activities as well.

Rather than leave it up to the different governments around the world to do something about it, we should act as individuals, living on this one and only home planet of ours, to make changes and adapt greener and more eco-friendly lifestyles.

You can support Earth Hour by:

1. Turning off your lights at 8.30PM on March 27
2. Showing your support and adding yourself to the Earth Hour world map
3. Adding Earth Hour widgets, logos and banners to your blog or website to help us spread the word
4. Talking about Earth Hour in your social network by updating your Facebook status, grabbing a Twibbon, tweeting about your support, and more
5. Get together with your friends and family, by hosting an Earth Hour party or holding your own candlelit affair
6. Rally your local council or community group to run an Earth Hour event for your community
7. Encourage your employer and workmates to take part in Earth Hour and make energy savings every day
8. Make an Earth Hour Lantern as a symbol of hope for the future
9. Be creative! Find a new way to mark Earth Hour and let Earth Hour know all about it!

Tikoy Takes a New Shape in 2010

Chinese New Year is always celebrated by the Chinese on the 7th day of the 7th month according to the Lunar Calendar. This year, 2010, that day falls on still another big event – Valentine’s Day.

To celebrate the New Year, Chinese families usually buy glutinous rice cake (locally called tikoy) to give out to friends, family and colleagues.

Tikoy in the Philippines has truly evolved. When I was small, all we had was the usual white tikoy.

What used to be just plain white tikoy evolved into a brown version some years ago as more people preferred to eat brown sugar over white.

Then a few years ago, we began to see flavors that can only be found in the Philippines as these use locally found ingredients. Yup, you can’t find these in places like Hong Kong!

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