July 2001 Archive
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 67. During my break last week my wife and I also stayed overnight at The Royal Mandaya Hotel, and since we had just come from a trek in Samal we decided to do nothing but rest in our room. I was dozing off when my wife turned on the television, and lo and behold, it was tuned in to Channel 67 on SkyCable.
 What we have left. Jack Riemer of the Houston Chronicle gives this inspiring account: On Nov. 18, 1995, Itzhak Perlman, the violinist, came on stage to give a concert at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City. If you have ever been to a Perlman concert, you know that getting on stage is no small achievement for him. He was stricken with polio as a child, and so he has braces on both legs and walks with the aid of two crutches.
 Six Months. Last February an email worm made the rounds of computers worldwide and caused serious damage amounting to millions of dollars. Unleashed by a 20-year-old Dutch, the worm was named after tennis star Anna Kournikova and posed as a picture that many unwitting people opened. But while that worm caused considerable damage, it is still considered the second most destructive virus ever unleashed; the top spot is still occupied by the Pinoy who created the Love Virus last year.
 Lucky Fish. I was chatting with Glenn Escandor, executive vice president of The Royal Mandaya Hotel, yesterday and noted that his hotel seemed to be teeming with people these days. In fact, I said, the major hotels in the city appear to be experiencing something of a boom, with seminars and conventions and meetings filling up their respective calendars. About two weeks ago a friend from Cebu said hotels here were so booked he could not even get a room for him and his wife and had to wait a whole day for one. What's going on? Isn't there supposed to be a crisis? Aren't visitors supposed to be afraid of coming to Mindanao?
 A little help from Microsoft. I have always been a Beatles fan and have always loved their music even as individual artists after their break-up. I particularly like the music of Sir Paul McCartney, and was bowled over when I read that he, one of the richest musicians in the world, is teaming up with Microsoft, chaired by Bill Gates, the richest man in the world, to offer fans (like me) unreleased songs.
 The Best. During the days of the first World War, Enrico Caruso was asked if he would sing at a concert for the benefit of the soldiers. The chairman of the committee who invited him said, "Of course, Mr. Caruso, as this is a charity affair, we would not expect you to do your best. Your name will draw the crowd. I would suggest that you merely sing some song requiring little strength or skill."
 Passive Smoking. There is a growing call for government to ban the sale of cigarettes to youths below 18 years old, an effort that to seems both too little late and too late (well, at least long awaited): these poison sticks deserve nothing but total banning not just for the young ones but for adults as well. Actually I couldn't care less if people want to kill themselves with cigarette smoke (which contain over 4,000 harmful chemicals, not just nicotine); what I'm mad about is when people puff away when non-smokers are around. Over the past years the police have been rather lax in enforcing the smoking ban in all public places in Davao City, and so many of have been forced to inhale the poison these no-brain smokers puff in.
 20. Tomorrow, July 19, is the 20th death anniversary of my father, the writer and lawyer Agapito Joaquin. On hindsight my siblings and I should have made this a grand event, perhaps complete with a retrospective of his works. But we all live in different parts of the world (three in Canada, one in the US, three in Manila, and me here in Davao) and mounting such an event would have been a huge undertaking, all things considered. Perhaps someday we can pay homage to our father, a great man in his own right, and let the world know what it's missing.
 Tourism Talk. Over lunch of shark's fin soup with chicken and vegetables - and nine other courses - the other day at the Lotus Court of The Marco Polo, Davao, conversation went to tourism and the potentials the city has - if only it is given the right breaks. The lunch, which was a preview of the Chiu Chow Food Festival, was hosted by the hotel's new general manager, Mr. Hartmutt Ballin, and was attended by Tita Josie San Pedro of SunStar, Gil Abarico of the Mirror, assistant regional tourism director Roger Layson (and also of the Mirror), as well as Art Boncato, Nikki Serrano, and Mimi Tupas of the hotel. Mr. Ballin commented that during a meeting with other Marco Polo people in Hong Kong recently, he and Art heard their colleagues express fear that Mindanao - including Davao City - is an unsafe place for tourists.
 Never too old. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Tita Josie San Pedro (who writes for SunStar Davao) has recently taken up the computer, writing her articles on the high tech appliance and making her paper's encoders and lay-outers happy because they no longer have to retype her work. We were waiting for the Chiu Chow lunch preview at The Lotus Court of The Marco Polo, Davao to begin last Tuesday when the conversation among Tita Josie, her daughter-in-law Yolly, Roger Layson of the Department of Tourism, my wife, and me turned to computers. For Tita Josie, who is in her 70s, it is not an easy move from typewriter to computer because the latter has the annoying habit of changing the way her articles look with a wrong key stroke. Besides, she said, how could she make side notes on her work?
 Messing it up. There's something strange about being in a room full of mostly male visual artists, with the men sporting long hair and having that "donker" look ("donker" used to be a hip word; it means "don't care"). As I sat at Remedios Café of The Apo View Hotel I kept asking myself, "Why do visual artists feel compelled to keep their hair long?" Must be a sub-culture thing. Anyway, it was strange being one of only a few men with short hair - skinhead at that - and being one of the few who couldn't draw a decent stick man if their life depended on it. I was actually awed by such a gathering of talented men and women - including the prize-winning Ega Carreon - because I knew in this pool of talent lay the artistic future of Mindanao.
 Art Awards. As expected, part of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's State of the Nation Address (SONA) yesterday dwelled on her program to develop information and communications technology (ICT), which she believes will ultimately save the country's economy. She had already expressed her support for ICT early in her term, saying the "new economy" requires that the next generation of Pinoys be prepared to take on technology like fish to water. Yesterday she harped on the fact that the Philippines is second only to India in terms of ICT minds, and she intends to develop the country's potential in this area and push the country to prosperity.
 One Tourist, 2. Surprisingly (or not, depending on your perspective) The Barceló Pearl farm Island Resort never closed after the May 22 incident. General manager Alex Groizard said business picked up rather quickly after the attack. "Two days later we had 165 people here," he said. Alex, however, admitted that business has slowed down a bit, but he attributed this more to the fact that the months of June to September are traditionally the low season in the hotel industry in the Philippines. "September is the end of the low season, and we expect things to pick up soon after," he said.
 Even a Little. A friend sent the following email in response to an article I wrote on passive smoking. Apparently, it doesn't have to take long exposure to second hand smoke (that is, the smoke of other smokers) for damage to be done
 Living Example. I'm finding that more and more people who are in top positions in big companies are younger than me. On Wednesday last week I chatted with Alex Groizard, general manager of The Barceló Pearl farm Island Resort, and found that he is only 30 years old (I wrote about that interview last week). Then the following Friday a few media people met with Mark Liu, general manager of Cathay Pacific in Cebu, and he's even younger at 29. I'm starting to feel like a senior citizen next to these guys.
2001 Jon Joaquin. All rights reserved.