Admittedly, this one has been long overdue. Way, way, way, way overdue.

In my case, after I end up processing email contacts all day at work, I somehow lose the drive to stare at a monitor and punch in words on the keyboard of our humble computer. It has caused one of the worst fits of work-induced writers’ block in recent memory, something not seen since my days handling emails with EA Games almost two years ago.

And to those who missed my crazed mania over the past two (more like three) months, I apologize. My absence from the blogging universe ends today.

These past few months have been about celebrations, and I dedicate this post to them.

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I received a personal best 150+ well wishes posted to my Facebook Wall alone on my 30th birthday just over a week ago.  Just when I thought I had started to go into a state of aloofness and isolation, along came the people who thought well enough of me to celebrate the day I was, in the worlds of an esteemed friend, “vomited into the world”.

So quoting my recent status update, I gratefully acknowledge all and sundry who have expressed their heartfelt wishes on my natal day. The celebrant is only as awesome as the people who have made his journey through life truly worth the ride. Cheers to you all!

In light of turning the big 3-0 (pun heavily intended), I have contemplated as to whether I should continue celebrating my birthday in traditional fashion or treat it as an ordinary day instead. Then again, this may have been the best one yet personally since I got happily drunk with my officemates in the morning and feasted like mad at home with my siblings, cousins, niece and nephew in the evening. And of course, getting some nice Iron Man collectible figures and a long-overdue pair of running shoes made things all the happier.

At least knowing I don’t look a day over my mid-20s is neat. Not that I’d want to go to a casino and get mistaken for a minor again.

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In their bout Saturday night in Texas, Manny Pacquiao decimated Antonio Margarito with punches such as this. The Filipino pugilist would go on to win the bout and cop a record-setting eighth world title in as many weight divisions.

Manny Pacquiao has done it again.

With his spectacular demolition of Mexican pugilist Antonio “The Tijuana Tornado” Margarito capped by a unanimous decision in last Sunday’s globally televised bout, the congressman and now eight-division world champion has further staked his claim to being the “Best Pound-for-Pound Boxer in the World Today”. Concerns were ever-present that Pac-Man would not have the focus needed to train to peak form (owing largely to his duties as congressman of the lone district of Sarangani Province) and to boot, the Mexican contender had stooped so low as to poke fun at the Parkinson’s disease suffered by Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach in a video released on YouTube. But Manny in true form would put those concerns aside and become an octuple world boxing champion in the process. While not getting the knockouts at the rate he used to, he can certainly go the distance in any bout while remaining a legitimate knockout threat.

Focus has now shifted back to Gayweather (better known as Floyd “Pretty Boy” Mayweather Jr.), who was put to shame recently when a video of him dissing Pacquiao and the Filipinos in general was shown also on YouTube. With his celebrity fading fast owing to his antics stirring up revulsion even in his most die-hard supporters, the only chance he has of saving his star at this point would be to face Pacquiao in a match devoid of stipulations and crass behavior. And whether he succeeds or not, he should make that an opportunity to regain the respect of fans anew.

Pacquiao is no saint, but he knows how to put on a good show and act respectable in the public light. And in a sport that has more cliché statements, dirty money, filthy souls and lame gimmicks as part of the show, that is all that matters.

Gayweather, it’s time you put your Manny where your mouth is. Contrary to your twisted beliefs, there is a difference between concern and cowardice.

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Nobel laureate and Myanmar Opposition party National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Aung San Suu Kyi poses with a portrait of her late father Bogyoke Aung San, a national hero in the independence movement from British rule in the 1940's.

Just the other day, Burmese opposition politician and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi was finally released after spending 15 of the past 21 years under house arrest at the the hands of the the country’s military junta that has ruled the country since 1962. This was done on the heels of the first national elections in 20 years, in which Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) party decided to boycott. While many nations and celebrities have praised setting the much-respected politician free, they have called on the junta to do more by setting the remaining 2,000+ political prisoners free as well and restore basic human freedoms along with a fully democratic government.

Back in 1990, Suu Kyi’s NLD won over 59% of the popular vote and 80% of the seats in Parliament, with the junta-backed party scrambling for the small number of remaining votes with other parties. The junta never recognized the results and brutally crushed uprisings that occurred while imprisoning many members of the opposition, including Aung San Suu Kyi herself.

Many, including myself, consider the elections no more than a sham as the junta used the guise of a national election wherein despite their apparent resignation and/or retirement, the incumbent senior officers would have personally backed parties to continue their legacy of corruption and fear and legitimize their rule in the minds of their people and other critics. As a result, even the few opposition parties that ran did not stand a chance.

Suu Kyi has mentioned that while the junta did treat her well personally during her time under house arrest, she has vowed to continue the fight to establish a fully democratic government and for the emancipation of the political prisoners and the Burmese people alike. She has continued to espouse direct negotiations with the junta and other peaceful means to this end, which have garnered her respect the love of the Burmese people and the world.

Aung San Suu Kyi is the daughter of the late General Bogyoke Aung San, a Burmese general recognized as the father of modern-day Burma (now Myanmar). Sadly he was assassinated by a rival group of generals in late 1947, mere months before independence was granted by the British. Despite being only two years old at the time, it is not surprising perhaps that the genes to carry on the family legacy were awakened when a trip home to care for her ailing mother became the start of a lifelong battle for the people her father loved with equal passion.

May Burma (or Myanmar, if you prefer) and its people see the light of day soon. Walk on and walk without fear, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

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The Philippines has become a mecca for pool aficionados with a string of pocket billiards events being held here in the country in the last few years. This year alone, events such as the World Cup of Pool, the World 10-Ball Championship and the Predator Womens 10-Ball Championship have pockmarked the calendar with appearances from some of the world’s finest pool players. While Filipino cue artists such as Efren “The Magician” Reyes and Francisco “Django” Bustamante have highlighted the skill of our homegrown athletes, only in recent years have the global pool bodies begun to recognize the tremendous value of the Philippines as a pool-crazy nation. Akin to its strategic location at the crossroads of Southeastern Asia, pool may have found its new home on the world’s largest continent.

Although I missed several chances to catch these events in the year, I have made plans to attend these wonderful events next time around. With the pros giving nice feedback to their experiences in the country, it looks like we are poised for a clear run-out off this big break. I hope to get a few autographs from the big names in the process, if I am lucky.

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Manila got a taste of MMA greatness when UFC welterweight champion Georges "Rush" St. Pierre arrived for public appearances and a taste of the exotic culture earlier in the year.

Recently, UFC welterweight champion Georges “Rush” St. Pierre visited Manila and was greeted by huge crowds wherever he went. Despite not being able to get a better glimpse of arguably the best pound-for-pound mixed martial arts combatant today with the packed hall at SM Mall of Asia, seeing the legendary fighter in the flesh was still quite refreshing. In many ways, he is like Pac-Man: talented, relatively down-to-earth, charismatic, upfront and a source of pride for his country.

After missing a chance to see Chuck “The Iceman” Lidell on the previous occasion, the French Canadian superstar solved my MMA teething woes. Combien frais est ce?

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Recently, SkyCable decided to start airing JackTV again after a lengthy period. It was deeply gratifying for two reasons:

  • The channel remains the main source of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) telecasts. As they are carrying the network shows (RAW and Smackdown) as well as the monthly pay-per-view events, I am guaranteed my fill of WWE without having to switch cable providers or line up at the movie theaters.
  • I have become a fan of The Big Bang Theory, a sitcom focusing on the lives of four geniuses and their hilarious interactions with multiple personalities such as the waitress living in a neighboring apartment. The combination of scientific dialogue and the geniuses’ awkward manner of dealing with everyday situations has won me over and got me back to enjoying good television again.

Hoping for Solar Sports and Basketball TV (BTV) is a longshot though, since they are only available as premium channels entailing additional installation and monthly fees. I’ll just count my blessings and enjoy what I have.

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Typhoon Megi (codename Juan by PAGASA) slams into Isabela Province with a force equal to a devastating Category 5 hurricane. The furious winds and extremely low barometric pressure (885 millibars) rank it among the most powerful tropical cyclones in recorded history.

The strongest tropical cyclone anywhere in the world in the past five years devastated the Philippines in mid-October, taking 31 lives and leaving billions of pesos in damage in the process. Typhoon Megi (Juan) made landfall in Isabela Province, Northern Luzon on October 18 with winds gusting up to 305 km/h accompanied by torrential rainfall. After leaving a trail of destruction in the Philippines, it would wreak havoc later on southern parts of China and Taiwan by dumping heavy precipitation before eventually dispersing over the Asian mainland.

If there is anything to celebrate from this storm though, it would be the extraordinary efforts the national and local government took to minimize casualties. For a weather disturbance of such ferocity, the low death toll of 31 is testament to what people can accomplish in the face of adverse circumstances. More people actually died in Taiwan after Megi swept through the area, despite the storm having less ferocity after making landfall in Luzon. Perhaps even more surprising, far more people in the Philippines were killed by the weaker Typhoon Conson (Basyang) earlier in the year and Typhoon Ketsana (Ondoy) which devastated Metro Manila last year.

While I am still saddened by the loss of life from any such natural disaster (hence the motto “One life lost diminishes my own”), the fact that the government spent less time pointing fingers at each other and more time lifting fingers to get everyone out of harm’s way is a sign that hope still exists in this archipelago nation of 92 million people.

If only this were more the rule than the exception.

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And who may she be?

It is a good sign. I can finally look at her picture (and catch mention of her name) without feeling that stinging pang of longing and regret I used to have. While serious relationships are not yet in the picture, this may be for the best pending ongoing upheavals in my personal life. That final piece may be due another time, after the dust has settled and the insanity has faded, which may take longer than expected or hoped for.

Or until Cupid stops his elusive taunting behavior and finally grants me a break. Knowing him, he won’t do so unless I call in The Expendables. Or do something a little more extreme. But I think it may not be worth the trouble at this point. Seriously.

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I normally don’t share video links on my post, but I though this would be a good way to complete my comeback. Enjoy!

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