Lakbay-aral sa Bundok Banahaw

After more than two weeks, I still wish I were in Banahaw, in that crazy field trip we had for our PI class.

Most of the time, we didn't ride inside the jeepney; we rode on top of it. Imagine the thrill of getting slapped by tree branches. The three Americans with us had the time of their lives.

On top of the world

After we arrived at the ministry center of the Rizalistas, we toured along the compound. Just when I thought I had escaped from all the academic pressures in school, I saw "MBB" written on top of the Teachings of Jesus.

MBB?

The place was full of candles. In that trip, we lit more than a hundred. Maybe we should consider getting a candle-making company to sponsor the trips in the future.



I saw this beautiful gasoline station just outside the Santoyo compound.

Gasoline station

After a day of hiking on mossy rocks, the prospect of getting to the end of the journey excited us all.



Here's our PI 100 class. I'll miss those guys.

The Class

Here's Rochelle, about to take a dive. I tried this, too, and it scared me at first. But it was fulfilling, and you should absolutely try it when you go there.

Ready for the jump

Cool streams

If you're planning to take PI 100, don't ever forget to sign up for Dr. Nilo Ocampo's class. Half of the fun was because our professor was the wackiest there is. You won't believe he wrote all those amazing books when you hear him sing the Pinoy version of Rihanna's Umbrella.

Dr. Nilo Ocampo

And here I was, still alive and breathing after that trip.

495th post. And the countdown to 500 begins.

This is my 495th post since I started blogging in 2004.

Bottled has undergone massive changes in layout but not so much in writing style. I'm pretty much the same guy I was in 2004, except for the facial hair.

I still write about the usual things I blogged on when I started: God, Christianity, school, dormitory life, family, and photography.

Blogging is a wonderful exercise of thinking logically. The process is simple yet complex: you think what to write about and how to write it.

It saddens me that many people use their own sites to rant, gossip, or talk idly of things. When blogging transcends self-promotion, it becomes a powerful tool for encouraging others in the faith, spreading God's gospel, informing others of current events, and developing one's opinion.

Off to Banahaw

I'm off to Dolores, Quezon Province tomorrow. A friend asked my why. I said the reason's personal. I want a day off somewhere far so I could think things over. I was kidding, of course. It's a field trip.

The subject is PI 100. In UP, that's the equivalent of Rizal 101. Anything and everything about Jose Rizal. I thought I was going to get bored. In high school, I only read the summary of each chapter of Noli and Fili. In college, it'd be the same old grind. Apparently, I was wrong. PI turned out to be among the best classes I've had in UP.

And tomorrow, the class is going to the mountains. We're visiting the Rizalistas, a cult movement that calls Jose Rizal a god. I don't know much about them, except that they live in Banahaw and their women really have long hair.

I'll be climbing my way to the top of the Banahaw. I hope I don't slip and knock my head off. I can't afford to collapse, so I'm crossing my hands that nothing of the sort happens. We'll stay there for two days. Dr. Ocampo warned us there wasn't enough water for taking a bath. I wonder how I'd smell when I get back.

I need all the sleep I can get, so off I go.

Manny Pacquiao is going to do politics again

So Manny Pacquiao, the most popular Filipino sportsman I know, has decided to retire in 2009. That's bad news enough, but here's an even more depressing one: he's going to run for office. Again.

He's not sure which office exactly. I won't be surprised if Kampi, the party he signed up for, is going to include him in the senatorial slate--or, who knows, make him run for vice president. Popularity, at least in this country, is everything. And with the upcoming match of Manny this December where he's expected to win, his name will be the talk of the town. Name recall, friends, is the reason why politicians have begun their tv ads this early, and Manny Pacquiao will have it easy.

Manny Pacquiao's reason is almost heartwarming: he wants to serve the Filipinos better. As if the boxing titles he's been winning for this country haven't been enough.

In this way, he demonstrates a textbook example of one of the things that's wrong with us: the notion that for us to serve the country better, we have to be in politics.

For my part, I can serve this country by coming to my classes on time. For his part, he can probably set up a foundation (which popular people like him are bound to do) to help give scholarship to poor children.

One can argue, of course, that it's too early to tell: Manny may emerge a good politician, inasmuch as he is a good boxer. But,you see, Philippine politics is an arena where one's idealism gets swallowed up by the corrupt system. I think Manny shouldn't risk it. His name beckons Filipino pride. Once he gets into politics, I'm almost certain it will be muddied up.

Replication

The winners of the Ramon Magsaysay Awards, the Nobel Prize of Asia, have just been announced. Among them is Grace Magno Padaca, current Isabela governor, who has been handed the prize for government service.

In an Inquirer article, she said, “Breakthroughs and victories against ‘oppressive political structures’ need to be encouraged and supported to be replicated.” Gov. Padaca came into the limelight after toppling the Dy family’s political grip in the province that spanned 30 years.

Gov. Padaca’s speech should therefore come as a reminder. We don’t sit back and look at our politics like television shows. We participate, air our views, and stand for the truth. We don’t shoo away news of corrupt government practices, we pray for our leaders and for our nation.

We think we have already won by toppling our corrupt, incapable leaders. That, in a way, is prematurely declaring we’ve won the war when we’ve only won a battle.