[Shown on this photo is a sample of  the monstrous traffic on EDSA,  the metropolis’ main thoroughfare which cuts across major cities in Metro-Manila. Jeepneys have customarily been  pinpointed as the root cause of the traffic problem due to the common perception that most if not all of the jeepney drivers are ignorant of the basic traffic rules. But the sheer volume of vehicles in the metropolis nowadays plying EDSA, sparked perhaps by the aggressive marketing strategies of car dealerships coupled by the affordable down payments,  and the lack of a reliable mass transport system have made the traffic problem a hard nut to crack for the Duterte administration. ] 

One problem in Metro-Manila which has seemed to have become a hard nut to crack for the Duterte administration is the perennial traffic jam, which has continued to worsen from day to day.

Most people consider the problem as rooted simply unto the sparse network of roads and highways that certainly cannot logically cope with the volume of the vehicles that have been plying the roads, the streets and the highways of metropolitan Manila.

But what could be done to alleviate this seemingly unsolvable problem that has brought stress to many motorists, heightened tensions and brought a lot of traffic related disputes that led to brawls and even killings.

In some discussion, it has been said that the lack of road courtesy and the sheer seeming ignorance of most Filipino drivers to basic traffic rules and regulations could be the root of the problem.

Based on 2013 data, there are about 7.7 million vehicles in the whole country and 2.1 million of those vehicles are in Metro-Manila.

Of the total number in the country, about 870,000 of these are cars, 1.8 million are utility vehicles, about 347,000 are SUVs, 360,000 are trucks, 32,000 are buses, 4.2 million are motorcycles or tricycles and 40,000 trailers.

There has been an emerging campaign to scrap the jeepneys from the streets especially in Metro-Manila. However,   such surely would result in very dire consequences especially because jeepney-driving is the livelihood for a number of household heads of the country’s hoi polloi. But those jeepney drivers undoubtedly, are considered as most reckless and most of them are said to be blindly ignorant to the basic traffic rules and regulations.

And how did these UNIQUE jeepneys  emerge in the Philippine scenario? When American troops began to leave the Philippines at the end of World War II, hundreds of surplus military jeeps were sold or given gratis to Filipinos. A famed American soldier, Harry Stonehill, was involved in the disposal of military surplus. Eventually, Stonehill created a black market for the military surplus including jeeps. Thus, the military jeeps were stripped down and altered locally: metal roofs were added for shade; and the vehicles decorated in vibrant colors with chrome-plated ornaments on the sides and hood. The back saloon was reconfigured with two long parallel benches with passengers facing each other to accommodate more passengers. The size, length and passenger capacity has increased as it evolved through the years. These were classified as passenger-type jeeps. The non-extended, original-seat configuration jeeps were labeled owners, short for owner-type jeeps, and are used non-commercially.

Those originally manufactured military-issued jeepneys were refurbished military jeeps by Willys and Ford.

The jeepney rapidly emerged as a popular and creative way to re-establish inexpensive public transportation, much of which had been destroyed during World War II. Recognizing the widespread use of these vehicles, the Philippine government began to regulate their use. Drivers now must have specialized driver’s licenses. Routes are regulated and prices are fixed fares. Illegal (un-franchised) operators are officially referred to as “colorum” operations, from the color of the vehicle plate, which denotes a private rather than public registration.

Indeed, jeepney driving has then become a very attractive source of livelihood. And these jeepney drivers would alternate at times as taxi drivers or bus drivers. However, as it is very easy to get a driver’s license in the Philippines, a  lot of drivers who eventually drove jeepneys as well as taxicabs and buses, plying routes within the metropolis became reckless drivers as they tend to be ignorant of the basic traffic rules and regulations (this is because more often than not, the licenses issued to them, churned out via sleaze money; would just pass through a truncated process bereft of the usual orientation on traffic rules). And an ordinary motorist who would always experience and see how jeepney/taxi/bus drivers would cut and swerve with gusto and zest; would eventually drive like those jeepney and taxi drivers.

In other countries, it is very hard to get a driver’s license. Take the case for example of driver’s license issuance in Sydney, NSW. The following regimen must first be complied with to culminate in one’s having a full-fledged driver’s license. 

  • Pass the Driver Knowledge Test (“DKT”) – this gets the applicant a learner’s license;
  • Hold the learner’s license at least 12 months for drivers under the age of 25. Complete 120 hours minimum driving practice (log book records the driving experience);
  • Pass the Driving Test – progress to a Provisional License – Stage 1 (“P1 License”);
  • Hold your P1 License for a minimum of 12 months;
  • Pass the Hazard Perception Test – progress to Provisional License – Stage 2 (P2 License);
  • Hold one’s P2 License for a minimum of 24 months;
  • Pass the Driver Qualification Test (“DQT)”Progress to a full-fledged License.

Perhaps, the sheer easy route to get a Philippine driver’s license is one reason why we have a bunch of reckless drivers who are ignorant of basic traffic rules. In fact, one time, in a driver’s license issuance scandal which got sensationalized in national TV was about a totally BLIND person who was able to get a driver’s license in a jiffy.

In this regard, as there are thousands of drivers who may have not been actually briefed/oriented on basic traffic rules, perhaps it would do well for us all, for the government TV network (which perhaps should be replicated in other TV networks) to telecast via video clips basic traffic rules and regulations. Among those traffic rules often violated is the prohibition against getting caught inside the orange box in road intersections as well as the BAN against COUNTERFLOW. In fact, I am even swayed to have stickers made out (and I would affix them on my front and rear car bumpers) which would scream in BOLD and GLEAMING letters: “HUWAG NA PONG MAG-COUNTERFLOW; SI DUTERTE NA PO ANG PANGULO.”


[Indeed, proper implementation of traffic rules is one aspect that needs to be focused on to put a solution to the monstrous traffic problem in Metro-Manila. More often than not, the ORANGE BOX in most intersections are filled with vehicles as motorists are all craving to beat the red light creating gridlocks therefore in those intersections. Also, the ill-bred Filipino’s proclivity to do a COUNTERFLOW entices many motorists to follow suit, as most of the time, the streets are without traffic enforcers that could visibly thwart such violations.Along EDSA, motorists are fond of swerving from one lane to the other, right and left, influenced perhaps by jeepney/taxicab/bus drivers who have been regarded as “kings of the road” during the halcyon years of a traffic-free EDSA and who need to hurtle through the highways with speed to insure that they get a decent day’s wage (as their wages/take-home pay are customarily based on the number of trips).]



[Photo shows at right, Mike Muller aka Antoine Michal Muller,  one among FOUR (4) personalities from among the many veterans who fought for freedom and democracy during the 1950-1953 Korean War, to receive the highest South Korea’s award— the Taegeuk Cordon Order of the Military Merit Medal, on the occasion of the 63rd Korean War Armistice Anniversary on July 27, 2016. To Mike’s side is his lovely and classy wife Katie. This photo was snapped at their cozy Pretoria, South Africa home.]

When I went to South Korea in the 4th  week of July 2016 to represent Daddy Max (i.e. Maximo P. Young) in receiving an award, the Taegeuk Cordon Order of the Military Merit Medal from the Republic of Korea’s Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, I became friends with THREE (3) notable personalities.

These THREE (3) personages (myself included which made us a QUARTET of notable men)  jointly became the cynosure in that 63rd anniversary of the Korean War Armistice; namely: Antoine Michal Muller (“Mike”) from South Africa, Patrick Beaudoine (“Patrick’) from France and Jeffery Coalter Davis (“Jeffery”),who represented his granddad, Raymond Davis (“Raymond”); from the U.S.A.  These THREE (3) similarly received the Taegeuk Cordon Order of the Military Merit Medal;  Mike and the late Raymond for their Korean War feat just like Daddy Max and Patrick for his invaluable/dedicated service as President in Paris, France of the French Korean War Veterans’ Association.

From among those THREE (3) awardees, Mike became    closer to me as we were almost always in touch during that 6-day Korean War Armistice event. In fact, we (i.e. myself and Mike) sat side by side, as we shared the same head table during the THANK YOU Dinner held at Seoul’s Hyatt Hotel Ballroom, after that morning’s awarding ceremony on July 27, 2016 at the Seoul Olympics Hall. And from those tidbits of information that I was able to gather from Mike, in our casual talks, boarding the same car unto the Seoul Olympics Hall, and those had inside the shuttle bus which ferried the event participants from place to place, including my further research; I now want to share this BLOG which I have transcribed about my friend Mike. Though Mike was very much taciturn in regard to his Korean War feat, virtually curtailing me to write about it; I got so fascinated with Mike’s outstanding humility, dignified and polished manners. As only tidbits of information came out from Mike’s seemingly sealed mouth,  I actually embarked on an intensive research on Mike’s life and the daring Korean War feat of the 2 Squadron SAAF. Thus, I hope Mike will forgive me for this well-meaning intrusion.

Antoine Michal Muller aka Mike was born on June 28, 1930 in Krugersdorp, Gauteng, South Africa. Mike went through his secondary education at the Hoerskool Monument in Krugersdorp and eventually at the Hoerskool Sentraal in Bloomfontein, South Africa. After his secondary education, Mike studied at the South African Military College, now known as the South African Military Academy.

During the 1950 Korean War, Mike saw action as a pilot. Mike was part of the famed 2 Squadron SAAF2 Squadron SAAF is considered as an elite air force unit of the South African Air Force which has a long history of combat. During the Second World War, it made a name for itself in the battles for East Africa, before reaping laurels in North Africa as part of the Desert Air Force.

In this year’s celebration of the Korean War Armistice Anniversary, the Republic of Korea invited the so-called United Nations (UN) soldiers who fought in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953 to celebrate the 63rd anniversary of the signing of the armistice agreement that halted the South Korean-North Korean conflict.

As earlier said, among those who were honored (actually only 4 personalities were awarded the South Korea’s highest military decoration, the Taegeuk Cordon of the Order of the Military Merit Medal), was Gen. Antoine Michal Muller, for his daring war feat in providing cover to the UN forces who were on the ground fighting off the North Korean soldiers with their Chinese communists reinforcements.

It would appear that in the many combat sorties flown by the F-51D-Mustang operated by Mike, after some scary skirmish; Mike needed to parachute out of the cockpit as his plane got hit and for this, he was brought deep into the enemy lines. However, after some time, Mike was successfully rescued.

During the Korean War, the 2 Squadron SAAF came under the operational control of the US Fifth Air Force and it was charged with the following main tasks:  (1) destruction of enemy air power; (2) close support of UN ground forces; (3) maximum range armed reconnaissance and offensive strikes; (4) interdiction of enemy ground lines and communications to include attacks along avenues of escape for enemy forces; (5) escort and/or cover for UN air, sea and land forces; and, (6)  air defense of military installations.

On those successful combat sorties had during the Korean War of the 2 Squadron SAAF where Mike served as one of its elite pilots, they invariably received commendations of “outstanding performance” from the then Commanding General of the US Fifth Air Force, Major General Earle E. Partridge.

Mike eventually rose to the rank of Lieutenant General and was named South African military commander, who thereby held on the post of Chief of the South African Air Force.

Ultimately indeed, Mike was appointed Chief of Air Staff operations in July 1978 before becoming Chief of the Air Force in December 1979. After his retirement from the military, Mike served as Ambassador to Chile, which explains Mike’s genteel, well-bred and good-mannered persona. And Mike was so overly humble too, because when I commended him about his daring  feat in the Korean War, his casual repartee was this: “I WAS JUST DOING MY JOB.”


Group photo shows Mike Muller 3rd from left.
Photo shows SOKOR’s highest military decoration, the TAEGEUK Cordon.



[Photo above shows the GLEEFUL GARCIA family with their signature INFECTIOUS SMILES most especially ADRIE, who is shown at center, sandwiched by her sweet and cuddly son JEREMY to her right; and her endearing and romantic husband IVAN to her left. With ADRIE’s long locks, alluring pose and seemingly playful pout, she could  easily be deemed as a dead ringer for a petite version of Angelina Jolie.]

Adrienne Llorca Garcia aka Adrie is my niece being the daughter of my maternal cousin Arlene “Beth” Lever. Beth served as our host together with her hubby, Steve Lever, when my family stayed in their Oxley Park home in Sydney, NSW in the 2nd week of September 2016.

During her toddler days, Adrie was alternately called as either Bombom or  Pompom. These names which evoke merry-making (i.e. in the Philippines, “bombom” would denote a musical instrument actually a drum for some kind of festivity; while a “pompom” is an instrument used in cheering up teams in a contest), perhaps is an extension of the legacy of happiness which has endured in the Llorca household where Adrie spent her infant and nonage years. That household is located at No. 69 20th Avenue, Murphy, Cubao, Quezon City, Metro-Manila, Philippines. Personally, I was more attuned and comfortable then, at referring to Adrie as Pompom instead of Bombom.

And more often than not, when Adrie was growing up, that place called home by Adrie was a virtual happy house where evenings and nights would feature Adrie’s uncles and their friends — singing, barbecuing, drinking, feasting and merrymaking.

First and foremost, the patriarch of the Llorca clan, Tio Gene Llorca (i.e. Adrie’s grandpa), is of Visayan descent; and the Visayans are known for being exponents of a happy and carefree life; a life of singing, merrymaking and carousing. In fact, the province of Negros where Tio Gene hailed is deemed as peopled with fun-loving folks and its city was even considered and named as the City of Smiles.

A pompom actually is a loose, fluffy,decorative ball or tuft of fibrous material, made from a wide array of materials, including wool, cotton, paper, plastic, and occasionally feathers; and they are usually shaken by cheerleaders, to arouse jubilation, merry-making and enjoyment.

And happiness seems to have not left the psyche and persona of Adrie though she has migrated with her Mom Beth to Australia in 1988. Indeed, happiness may have attached and latched on unto Adrie’s very character. Moreover, it would show that happiness is contagious,  nay infectious, just like the infectious smile of Pompom (i.e. Adrie).

On October 7, 2006; Adrie’s infectious smile ( a kind of smile which engenders a smile from another) and her steady stroll to find lasting happiness reached its fruition and zenith when she married an equally gladsome gentleman named Ivan Paul Santos Garcia (“Ivan”).

Ivan, who from his dapper looks could even be considered as a Philippine version of Aussie’s  Russel Crowe is currently studying Nursing and will be graduating in October of this year, while he continuously works at a leading medical, surgical and research facility in Sydney, the St.  Vincent’s Hospital at Darlinghurst, NSW. Ivan also has roots in the Philippines particularly in Lubao, Pampanga, the hometown of two (2) distinguished Presidents of the Philippines, the late President Diosdado Macapagal and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Adrie, on the other hand, is employed as a Premium Personal Banker at the Westpac Banking Corporation, Australia’s first bank, where she has been working for over 10 years. The Garcia couple is blessed with a son, Jeremy Austin, who is currently in Year 10 and studying at the Champagnat Catholic College located in Maroubra, NSW. Jeremy zestfully enjoys Art and Photography, and as he will be starting Year 11 in January 2017;  Jeremy has graduated into tinkering ways on the art and science of  making music videos which he intends to resoundingly upload in Youtube.

Innately animated perhaps to always trek the happy path, Adrie and Ivan chose to live near the beach at Hillsdale in the eastern suburbs of Sydney; where they enjoy in gay abandon to take conventional coastal walks from  Coogee to Bondi Beach through a coastal trail. And the coastal trail is a well-marked and well-maintained path; indeed a HAPPY PATH.

And Adrie’s trek to lasting happiness continues, as the Garcia family has made it a habit to go places on holidays particularly in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, USA and into their native land, the Philippines. This December, the Garcia family is planning another holiday to go around places in Hong Kong, Macau and the Philippines; for them to gel and bond together as one happy, jovial, blissful and fortunate family.


[This group photo taken on September 9, 2016 with the Sydney Harbour Bridge as backdrop shows the Mom-and-Son tandem of Adrie and Jeremy (5th and 6th from left). Others in the photo are: (L-R: Beth Lever, my wife Dang, my daughter Cheska, Steve Lever, Adrie, Jeremy and myself).]




[Photo above shows the VENALs and the would-be VENALs fashionably dressed/attired like those  elegant guests at the Sydney Opera Bar whom I espied on my first up close and personal sighting of the SPLENDID SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE on September 9, 2016. From L-R: Sean, Leah Mitchell, Jun, Kit, JC, Krystle and Matti.]


Quakers Hill      is the vibrant village where the family home of the Venal clan composed of its household head, Conrado “Jun” Venal and his dainty wife, Annabelle “Kit” Venal (together with their youngest child Krystle), is located. Quakers Hill indeed, has become a fairly populated suburb, experiencing major growth in recent years. The famed Quakers Hill Parkway bridge (going over the train line) has been widened from two to four lanes; population has indeed risen and numerous educational institutions are existing.   Truly, a vibrant village among the suburban districts of  Sydney, NSW.

Jun and Kit, both Filipinos at birth (the latter being a first cousin of mine) migrated to Sydney, Australia in 1982 and found greener pastures therein. Personally, I admire to a great extent,  people who displays valor and much courage in migrating to another country, uprooting one selves from their native land and to be away from their origins, their beginnings and their own natural hub.

And I admire most especially, Jun and Kit for having spearheaded the sequel migration of Kit’s older sisters (i.e. Kit is the youngest sister among her siblings of the Llorca-Tobias clan based in Murphy, Cubao, Quezon City, Metro-Manila, Philippines); namely: Arlene aka Beth now known as Arlene Lever of Oxley Park, NSW and Araceli aka Cely aka Sally Beckham of Rooty Hill, NSW. 

Now, Arlene aka Beth is happily married to that suave and sociable Aussie of Irish descent, Steve Lever, who is so madly in love with her. Indeed, if not for Jun and Kit, Beth would have not found paradise in the persona of his lover, soul-mate and friend,  the smooth and slick Steve.

On the other hand, Cely got transformed and has metamorphosed into a beauty therapist thereby allowing her to hobnob and rub elbows with Sydney’s crème de la crème and the city’s upper crust particularly of the venerably-aged variety.

Jun and Kit are the proud parents of three (3) responsible and loving kids, namely:  John-Conrad (“JC”) who is the eldest having been born in 1983, Sean-Conrad (“Sean”), who is the middle-child having been born in 1986 and the youngest, Krystle-Anne (“Krystle”), who was born in 1995.

JC works as a Mortgage Settlement Officer, Sean as a specialist IT Recruitment Consultant; while Krystle just commenced studies at the Macquarie University in the Creative Field.

Jun is still at it working in Sydney, NSW’s bureaucracy continuously displaying his courage and valor in efforts to maintain placid peace and social order in this splendid Sydney of Oz.  On the other hand, Kit exhibits her valor and courage too, in tune with the bold, brave  and innovative spirit customarily shown by SONY, AUSTRALIA, where Kit works, in churning out new and similarly bold and brave models and brands of home appliances and electronic appointments.

Next year, Sean (who now lives in Olympic Park which plausibly explains his “Olympics Games-inspired” heft and the cock-sure image and the swagger of an USAIN BOLT), the couple’s (i.e. Jun and Kit) middle child will express his own valor by embracing domesticity in married life, via bringing to the altar his fiancée, Aussie Leah Mitchell.  JC, on the other hand, is affianced too unto Edrea Teo, while Krystle is dating Chile-born and Leonardo di Caprio-look alike, Matti Bolla.

As Matti, a Spanish-speaking Chilean, would surely holler and howl, with the valor and courage shown by the VENALs—VIVA VALOROSOS VENAL!


[The macho-honcho of the Quaker Hills Venal clan, Conrado “Jun” Venal, is shown in this photo at left, with my son Tonton at center; and with Jun’s beauteous wife, Kit (my maternal first cousin), at right. Photo was taken during my birthday bash held at the Oxley Park home of Mr. & Mrs. Steve and Beth Lever on September 12, 2016.]



[The THREE (3) gracious and most helpful ladies that made the LEGIT STATUS HIPHOP DANCE TEAM’s stay at their ROOTY HILL HOME in Sydney, NSW most convenient, comfortable and NUTRIFYING. CANDICE GALVAN aka CANDY at the foreground; to her right is her MAGNANIMOUS MOM, CELY aka ARACELI LLORCA and at near background, to CELY’s right is CHARMY aka CLARISSE MAUNG.  Photo was taken when CHARMY and CANDY treated their MOM CELY to a movie during CELY’s recent birthday.]

Cely is my other lovely maternal first cousin who has for years been based in Sydney, NSW; while Charmy and Candy are her daughters; and therefore, my nieces. And I just want to commend these three (3) gracious ladies for the help they purveyed unto my daughter’s (i.e. Alee’s) Legit Status Hiphop Dance Team (“LS Team”).

The LS Team which competed at the 2016 World Supremacy Battlegrounds-Hiphop Contest (Varsity Division) [“WSB”] in Sydney, Australia; eleven (11) of them plus their coach Vimi Rivera (“Vimi”) and their team manager and my eldest daughter Shayna Young (“Shayna”), actually got billeted in the Rooty Hill home of my maternal cousin, Araceli Llorca aka Cely aka Sally Beckham.

The members of the LS Team who were transient guests at Cely’s household were: Vahan James “Jim” C. Arceo, Lorenzo Gabriel “Enzo” S. Banayo, Janea Racquel “Jaja” R. Dancel, Jhunvie A. De Paz, Judd Delos Reyes, Franklin N. Francisco, Justine Elin “Justine” M. Ramos, Tim Ricafranca,   Jan Jayson S.D. Tirados,  my daughter, Ma. Winnalee “Alee” E. Young; and, Jim Sten E. Yumang.

Earlier, the beauteous Beth Llorca Lever, the elder sister of Cely, was able to close a deal for the rental of a commodious house situated near the Mount Pritchard Mounties Club (venue of the WSB contest], except that the house-owner eventually got a surprise arrival of her kin’s family which would need commodious lodging accommodations too.

Finally, as we, my family which includes myself, my wife Dang and my two (2) other children; Tonton and Cheska, were all scheduled to stay at Beth’s Oxley Park home; it was decided that the LS Team members plus Vimi and Shayna, be quartered instead at the Rooty Hill home. The cemented driveway leading to Cely’s Rooty Hill home got transformed into the LS Team’s transitory rehearsal venue

Upon arrival from the Philippines (via an 8 hour Cebu-Pacific plane ride), our group which included the LS Team  and my family partook of a Filipino-cuisine lunch of SINIGANG NA BABOY, BISTEK TAGALOG and fragrant steamed white rice at Cely’s Rooty Hill home.

About the LS Team’s hospitable hosts, namely: CELY, and her two (2) daughters CHARMY and CANDY,  have been long-time residents of Aussie. Cely is a beauty therapist and is doing part-time geriatric care to people living in high-end areas in Sydney. On the other hand, Charmy (being the eldest daughter of Cely) who is now married to Phillip Maung, actually lives separately with her hubby and is on the family way with her first child. And the proverbial stork is expected to come on January 26, 2017 coinciding with Australia Day.

Candy is a Cruise Consultant, actually part of the Administrative Staff of the Inventory Department  at Carnival Australia. Carnival Australia serves as the parent company of several popular cruise brands including Carnival Cruise Line, Cunard Line, fathom, Holland America Line, P&O Cruises, P&O Cruises World Cruising, Princess Cruises and Seabourn.

Candy, standing up to her hospitality-consciousness by reason of her being a Cruise Consultant virtually served as BIG SISTER, together with her Ate Charmy; to the members of the LS Team, even cooking and churning night snack-foods for them such as pastries and cakes (i.e. M & M cookie  bars, chocolate rocky road cake, etc.). In Candy’s recent post in her FB account, she mentioned having missed the LS Team as she imagined herself having a lot of brothers and sisters during the LS Team’s stay in their home. Candy with her BF, the winsome Gilby Gaynilo, loves going to Aussie’s beaches and hiking. In fact, they have come up with an Instagram account called “hikeunamatata” which journalizes their various hiking experiences in colorful photos displaying Aussie’s rural and bucolic  locale in its pristine and natural beauty.

Charmy who despite being recently wed to her handsome hubby Phillip Maung (who is Burmese) and pregnant even, took time to help the Rooty Hill household just as to make the Legit Status Team’s stay convenient, comfortable and nutrifying. Charmy works with the Australian Military Bank   and that as her share in the seeming nutrification regimen for the LS Team, Charmy would churn out specially baked cheese dips and nutella pizza. Charmy excitedly recounted too that every time the LS Team would do their practice dances at the driveway at the Rooty Hill home, she would be so mesmerized by the dance movements as she would fantasize and imagine herself (while watching) to have become a hiphop dancer too during her teens.

During our brief stint in Sydney especially at Sydney’s city, I felt so cosmopolitan…for this, I want to thank CELY, CHARMY and CANDY…..SALAMAT… THANKS… MERCI…GRACIAS….KYAAYYJUUTAINPARTAAL (that is Burmese, I think for THANK YOU)…


[This was Candy’s post in her FB account which came as caption to this photo: “Feels so weird coming home to an empty house. For the past week, me and my Mom played host to my cousins from Philippines and their lovely Legit Status dance crew. It was nice feeling like I had so many brothers and sisters. I enjoyed cooking for you guys late night snacks. Hopefully see you all again, next year! Miss you already!” —Charmy and Candy are shown in this photo (i.e. 6th and 7th from L-R, respectively) with the whole Legit Status Team which competed at WSB.]



[Scenic and majestic view of the BLUE MOUNTAINS from different perspectives with the ICONIC THREE (3) SISTERS, a natural rock formation at the backdrop. Left photo shows, from L-R: Steve Lever, Beth Lever, my daughter Cheska and my wife Dang. Top-right photo shows, from L-R, myself, Cheska and Dang. Bottom-right photo shows, from L-R, myself Steve, Cheska, Dang and Beth.]

Legend has it that  the THREE SISTERS which are the iconic and popular figures in the BLUE MOUNTAINS of New South Wales refer to three aboriginal sisters of the KETOOMBA Tribe in New South Wales. The THREE (3) sisters of the KETOOMBA Tribe are named: Meehni, Wimlah and Gunnedoo, who all lived in the Jamison Valley. The story goes that these THREE SISTERS all fell in love with THREE MEN who are BROTHERS but who belong to the neighboring NEPEAN tribe. However, aboriginal laws forbid the inter-marriage between tribes and so, the marriage between the THREE SISTERS and the THREE BROTHERS was forbidden by the said aboriginal-tribal law. But the THREE BROTHERS  were not happy to accept this aboriginal-tribal law and so they decided to do an elopement and had to  use force to abduct the THREE SISTERS. A major tribal battle ensued, as the THREE BROTHERS attempted to abduct the THREE SISTERS; and the THREE SISTERS were turned to stone by a mystical elder to protect them. But the said mystical elder got killed in the fighting between the Ketoomba and the Nepean tribes. Thus, no one else from among the members of the Ketoomba Tribe possessed the mystical power to turn the THREE SISTERS back.

Truly, the BLUE MOUNTAINS is one of the most majestic scenery in Sydney. The appellation BLUE Mountains, which pertain to the mountain range which sort of envelopes/encloses the Jamison Valley got its name according to what I heard from the phenomenon that happens every day usually at near dusk. It is said at dusk, the emanating vapors from the vast bunches of eucalyptus trees planted in the depths of the Jamison Valley (underneath the ECHO point, which serves as the viewing deck for one to behold the majesty of the Blue Mountains) would form a bluish color haze and that it would gradually turn the color of the mountains from green to BLUE.

It is apparent though that even if it is still not yet dusk,  the farthest mountain ranges from the observation deck at the ECHO Point would actually look BLUE already.

The Blue Mountains is a mountainous region and a mountain range located in New South Wales, Australia. The region borders on Sydney’s metropolitan area, its foothills starting about 50 kilometers west of the state capital. The public’s understanding of the extent of the Blue Mountains is varied, as it forms only part of an extensive mountainous area associated with the Great Dividing Range. Officially the Blue Mountains region is bounded by the Nepean and Hawkesbury rivers in the east, the Coxs River and Lake Burragorang to the west and south, and the Wolgan and Colo rivers to the north. Geologically, it is situated in the central parts of the Sydney Basin.

The Blue Mountains Range is a popular tourist destination and is ideal for rock climbers, mountain bikers and hikers. Those who are interested to do rock climbing and hiking ventures are well catered for by guiding companies and equipment stores located mainly in Ketoomba.

Popular climbing destinations include the Centennial Glen cliffs near Blackheath, Mount Victoria, Mount Piddington and Mount Boyce. Climbing is currently banned on The Three Sisters area.

Mountain biking takes place mainly on the many fire trails that branch away from the main spine of the Great Western Highway, such as Narrow Neck, and Anderson’s Fire Trail. Likewise many of the fire trails are popular with day hikers, though many dedicated walking trails exist away from the fire roads.

Canyoning in the Blue Mountains is a popular sport and caters for various skill levels. Canyoning actually is some kind of sports which is done by travelling in canyons using a variety of techniques that may include other outdoor activities such as walking, scrambling, climbing, jumping, rappelling, rafting and swimming. It carries inherent dangers, yet for those with the appropriate skills or those looking to take a guided trip there are many great opportunities to experience a different view of the Blue Mountains.

Also, there are numerous rappelling (i.e. roping down sports) options available in the Blue Mountains Range including single and multi-pitch routes. There are some restrictions however, with respect to certain areas which have been closed for rappelling.

[Top-left photo is another view of the Blue Mountains Range.Top-right photo shows myself resting on a bench at the ECHO Point as I encoded some caption on the majestic view of the Blue Mountains which I posted on my FB account.Bottom selfie-photo taken by my daughter Cheska shows our group at the SCENIC WORLD Station  within the Blue Mountains Range resort where cable cars are available for a more thrilling view of the Jamison Valley below and the panoramic view of the Blue Mountains Range in the horizon.]



[Top-left photo shows the nighttime view of the SPLENDID SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE from behind; top-right photo shows the front view of the Opera House; and bottom photo shows the Opera House from the side near the site of the Harbour Bridge.]

From photographs that I have seen and from video clips on TV, my initial perception of the Sydney Opera House was that the seemingly-looking shells that adorn its virtual roof structure were just splashed with white paint. But I was wrong, the white “shells” which also resemble as though petals of an immaculately white flower sprouting up in its entire splendor are plastered with stone ware tiles.  Though the shells appear uniformly white from afar, those tiles were so arranged and juxtaposed featuring thereby subtle chevron pattern composed of 1,056,006 tiles in two colors: glossy white and matte cream.

The Sydney Opera House is a multi-venue performing arts center in Australia. It is considered as one of the 20th century’s most famous and distinctive buildings.

The Sydney Opera House was designed by a relatively unknown 38 year old Danish architect by the name of Jørn Utzon. It was Utzon’s entry, Scheme No. 218, which on January 29, 1957 won in the INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION FOR A NATIONAL OPERA HOUSE IN SYDNEY.  Work in putting up the opera house begun in 1958 and it was formally opened by Queen Elizabeth II on  October 20, 1973. Yes, it took 15 long years for the edifice, a true work of art to be finished/completed.

Actually, planning for the construction began in the late 1940s, when Eugene Goossens, the Director of the NSW State Conservatorium of Music, lobbied for a suitable venue for large theatrical productions. The normal venue for such productions, the Sydney Town Hall, was not considered large enough. By 1954, Goossens succeeded in gaining the support of NSW Premier Joseph Cahill, who called for designs for a dedicated opera house. It was also Goossens who insisted that Bennelong Point be the site: Cahill had wanted it to be on or near Wynyard Railway Station in the northwest of Sydney’s  Central  Business District.

Indeed, it was the government of New South Wales, led by then premier, Joseph Cahill, which authorized work to begin in 1958 with Architect Utzon directing the construction. The government’s decision to build Utzon’s design is often overshadowed by circumstances that followed, including cost and scheduling overruns as well as the architect’s ultimate resignation. Due to a change of government in NSW which eventually questioned Utzon’s costings culminating in the stoppage of payment to him, Utzon resigned in 1966 and never ever returned to Australia to see and behold the completed Sydney Opera House.

The building and its surroundings occupy the whole of Bennelong Point in Sydney Harbour, between Sydney Cove and Farm Cove, adjacent to the Sydney central business district and the Royal Botanic Gardens, an area which is close to the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Though its name suggests a single venue, the building comprises multiple performance venues which together are among the busiest performing arts centers – hosting well over 1,500 performances annually, usually attended by more than 1.2 million people.

Performances are presented by numerous performing artists, including four resident companies: Opera Australia, The Australian Ballet, the Sydney Theatre Company and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. As one of the most popular visitor attractions in Australia, more than eight million people visit the site annually, and approximately 350,000 visitors take a guided tour of the building each year.

The building is managed by the Sydney Opera House Trust, an agency of the New South Wales State Government.

On 28 June 2007, the Sydney Opera House became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The whole building covers 1.8 hectares and is 183 meters long and 120 meters broad at its widest point. It is supported and stands on 588 concrete piers sunk as much as 25 meters below sea level.

The original cost and schedule estimates in 1957 projected a cost of AU$ 7 million and completion date of 26 January 1963 (i.e. Australia Day). However, the project was completed ten years late and at a cost which was 1,457% over the original budget in real terms.

When we went to take an up close and personal viewing of the Sydney Opera House, the venue’s frontage at the foot of the majestic stairs unto the Opera House’s lobby, about a quarter of a hectare large, was rhapsodic, euphoric and jubilant. An Indian yoga master, who seemed to be adept at ZUMBA dancing too, and who was standing atop an improvised pedestal was directing and  demonstrating the steps, the sways and the hand movements of a melodious and rhythmical dancing to the tune of Indian exotic music. And joiners, old and young; tall and wide; black and white; sexy and pulpy; congregated in.



[People dancing near the Sydney Opera House!!!]



[President Rodrigo R. Duterte is depicted in this artistic rendition in a very pensive mood; trying to churn out ideas on how to make living in our country most convenient, truly peaceful and superbly salutary for all.]

The art of subordinateship should perhaps be taught in our schools so that the noxious vestiges of crab-mentality in the Filipino psyche would be totally lost into the haze of oblivion. 

Crab mentality, has been defined as some kind of thinking which is best described by the phrase, “if I can’t have it, neither can you.” This veritable metaphor refers to a bucket of crabs. And, individually, the crabs could easily escape from the bucket, but instead, they would grab at each other and bring down the other in a useless “king of the hill” competition which prevents any from escaping or the climb to the top, so to speak, and ensures their collective demise and/or peril. The analogy in human behavior is claimed to be that members of a group will attempt to negate or diminish the importance of any other member who achieves success beyond the others, out of envy, spite, conspiracy, or competitive feelings, to halt their progress.

Most Filipinos are touted almost around the world, to be afflicted with this kind of mentality and this mentality in fact knows no bounds.

The foregoing is so, as it not only propels the hatred sown by the instigator unto the subject of the instigation but also upon those who would be influenced, so to speak, by the instigator, and they will all  eventually reek with rage, anger and indignation. Lalo nating pinagngangalit ang matagal nang galit na mga tao sa ating bansa na halos ay nawalan na ng pag-asa dahil sa mga pagkukulang ng mga nakaraang administrasyon.

On the other hand, the art of subordinateship tells one to be supportive, caring, understanding, sympathetic to everyone, especially those who are above us. But perhaps, the better rule is to be supportive, caring, understanding, and sympathetic to all. And that is verily a Christian precept of the fundamental tenets of charity and love.

This art of subordinateship started as a human resource strategy whereby the subordinates would exert his/her best efforts to do his/her best to make their respective bosses look good.

In the field of human resource management, career experts would surely say that it is perfectly acceptable to make the boss look good. In fact, it is highly recommended.

Truly, it is said: “If you strengthen your boss’ position it not only helps your own career but most especially, your team’s and eventually, the company you are working with.”

One HR expert has said that: “I think employees should always try to make their supervisor look good. The supervisor is the team leader. Others understand that a team’s success is almost always a result of both the leader and team members performing well.”

On a macro-level, we are all subordinates of our President, President Rodrigo R. Duterte. And it would perhaps do as good, not only us, but all of the people in our beloved country good, if we all try to make Duterte look good. It is only fitting and proper to make him look good as he is the President of the Republic and our own leader. And that any soiling of his image would be a soiling of the image of our own nation.

But it would seem, that those who up to now cannot accept defeat and recognize Duterte as the President of the Republic, are so much passionately focused on waiting for Duterte’s flip-flops. And they would seem to be so centered into lunging unto him like condors waiting for the last gasp of breath before they do their virulent attack, a virtual coup de grace.

The reason for this unwholesome mentality is perhaps the overpowering regionalistic sway among Filipinos of hyping up the evil about the Tagalog, the bad about the Bisaya and the detestable about the Ilonggo, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Once more with feeling….we ought to remember that if we destroy the image of the President, we are actually destroying the image of the nation. In one of my more momentous talks with my friend Fr. Bernardo Blanco, a Spanish priest of the Claretian order who have lived in our country for more than 40 years; when I asked him as to his insights as to why the Philippines has not progressed much; he turned serious and gave an answer. And Fr. Blanco’s riposte was that it would seem that the Filipino has not totally grasped the true meaning and concept of nationhood.

Perhaps for the sake of our country, and the sake of our children, and our children’s children; let us all join together as one and leap up into one giant step in support of the DU30 presidency to make our country great again. Indeed, instead of making fun about the defects and deficiencies in the Filipino and the DU30 presidency; let us all try to find a way to make those flaws insignificant, those imperfections negligible and those mistakes as inconsequential.

LET US ALL SUPPORT THE DUTERTE PRESIDENCY!!!duterte-common-sense-blog3




[Mr. & Mrs. Colin & Minnie Ferguson are shown in this photo in a truly romantic and loving pose at their  Hume Greenacre  love-nest in Sydney, NSW. Minnie was my Secretary in the Philippines before she migrated to Australia and I truly admire her EFFICIENCY. In fact, it was Minnie who has been proudly promoting  amazing Australia to me through our regular and non-ending chats through Facebook. It certainly means that Minnie has not only fallen in LOVE with COLIN but more so, with AMAZING AUSTRALIA.]

During my family’s recent trip to Sydney and the eventual celebration of my 67th birthday at the Oxley Park home of Mr. & Mrs. Steve and Beth Lever, another of my surprise guests to the birthday bash, were Mr. & Mrs. Colin and Minnie Ferguson. Colin is an Aussie with Scottish lineage and who to me, appears to be a chubby version of Hollywood actor Ed Harris (a recipient of the GOLDEN GLOBE AWARD for his playing the role of US Senator John McCain in the 2012 movie, GAME CHANGE). On the other hand, Minnie who is more popularly known here in the Philippines as Herminia Abaño Salinas aka Hermie or Minyang, is a petite version of a great actress of the Philippine movie industry of yesteryears, Lolita Rodriguez.

Earlier, when I communicated to Minnie that I and my family will trek to Aussie, she foisted some kind of a seemingly insurmountable excuse, which was about the distance between places in Sydney and which would entail long hours of driving for Colin. And I really thought that Colin and Minnie will not make it to my birthday bash. Minnie indeed showed much concern and solicitude to his husband Colin, a unique trait among those doting Filipina wives, happily married to non-Filipinos.

Years ago, Minnie was one of our more efficient secretaries at the Legal and Collection Department of the former Allied Banking Corporation, now merged with Philippine National Bank. And it was fortunate then that Minnie was invariably assigned to me.

As has been the practice among  Makati-based  banks in the Philippines, its Legal Department carries a sobriquet  with a Law Office name  and ours at Allied Bank then, was Ocampo Quiroz Mina & Associates. Minnie was so truly efficient as a Law Office  secretary as she can by herself alone, draft legal documents with ease and can even cause its notarization like an authentic lawyer PRONTO. When Minnie’s husband, a Filipino-Spanish mestizo named Miguel Salinas (Mike), a Makati-based bank officer, died after  Minnie retired from Allied Bank, Minnie was almost crest fallen as she  could barely make both ends meet with the meager  pension that she was receiving to nourish and support her children as a single parent. Minnie    was forced to do various odd jobs to eke out their needed household income to sustain their living. Thus, after my separation from Allied Bank (when I put up my own Law Office) at times when I would need an additional    hand in my Law Office, knowing that Minnie is so truly efficient and so diligent, I would call her and she would readily assist me even on Sundays when urgent and important court pleadings have to be filed. I am actually amazed, as Minnie can type/encode direct into the computer my dictation and the finished work would be so precisely correct even to the last punctuation mark.   And I made sure that Minnie is sufficiently compensated and would bring home enough dough to nourish her children, as she    would commute and spend hard-earned money shuttling from far away Santa Rosa, Laguna to Cubao in Quezon City (about 50 kilometers away and almost 2 ½ hours to negotiate due to Metro-Manila’s perennial heavy traffic).

Eventually, in a stroke of serendipity, Minnie  met Colin, a grass widower,  in August  2014 after   Minnie got invited  by her sister  who is an Aussie permanent resident to Sydney. And on the very first moment of their  serendipitous meeting in Sydney, Colin got so love-struck while Minnie easily got fond of Colin as Colin displayed his gentle and suave  manners to a gracious and elegant lady in the person of Minnie.

Being Arian-born (i.e. born on April 15), Colin is shockingly honest, so cheerful and so creative which explains his ardent predilection to the art of photography, as he lugs around a mid-sized state-of-the-art SONY camera. On the other hand, Minnie who was born under the Taurus zodiac sign is truly a faithful and a dependable person.

Minnie and Colin now make home at their Hume Greenacre love-nest in Sydney. Minnie  and Colin have promised     to visit Manila in  the month of the hearts in February 2017. By then, I and my family members will show Colin the     Filipino brand of hospitality; that     kind of caring and sharing   which Colin  has showered   upon a friend, an efficient   ex-colleague and a    dedicated       extra hand during  hectic days at my Law Office joining me in my hankering to meet  court appointed deadlines. And that is no other than my marvelous Minnie! Indeed, Marvelous Minnie is in very good hands with her soul-mate, the Charming ColinCheerio!


[Photo above was taken during my birthday bash at the Oxley Park Home, Sydney, NSW of my cousin, Arlene “Beth” Lever on September 12, 2016 with Colin & Minnie as guests together with my PI O brods from the University of the Philippines. Shown above from L-R:  Beth Lever, myself, Minnie, my UP Diliman PI O brod Danny Daguio, Colin and Prospero “Porong” Ceguerra,  my UP Los Baños PI O brod,  who gaily graced the affair.]


[A larger group photo during my Sydney birthday bash at the Oxley Park Home of Mr. & Mrs. Steve & Beth Lever on September 12, 2016, with Charming Colin at center as this was being snapped by his wife Marvelous Minnie. From L-R: Boy Mayor, Danny Daguio, Charmy Maung, my youngest daughter Alee, Colin, Cely aka Sally Beckham, Porong Ceguerra, my wife Dang, Vimi Rivera, myself, my eldest daughter Shayna, Jun Venal, Candy Galvan, Cheska, Krystle Venal, Kit Venal, my son Tonton, Beth Lever and Steve Lever.]


[Top left photo shows the SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE nestled in the Sydney Harbour in all its majesty and splendor. Top right photo shows our hosts during our brief stay in Sydney: Mr. & Mrs. Steve and Arlene “Beth” Lever. Bottom photo shows my bonny and beautiful cousin, Beth Lever, in such an enticing “Marilyn-Monroeish” pose. Though it was my cousin Beth Lever and her husband Steve Lever who played hosts to us, it was my former Secretary Minnie Ferguson in the Philippines then, who incessantly promoted the amazing beauty of Australia particularly the Sydney Harbor in our non-ending chats via Facebook and when I met her in the flesh with her charming husband Colin Ferguson in Sydney. For which reason, I intend to write a BLOG about their wonderful amorous entanglement too.]

There always is a feeling of fascination when you come to a new place, a new scene, and new surroundings. When I first traveled  to Europe in 1999, I got so fascinated in my visit to Rome in all its grandeur. I was awed and astonished by the St. Peter’s Basilica most particularly the tedious work in putting up, piece-by-piece, the dainty mosaic tiles which has adorned its ceilings and Michelangelo’s paintings too at the Sistine Chapel. I was so exuberantly titillated by that tale about the Trevi Fountain; that if you throw a coin unto the fountain, you surely will return to Rome. Indeed, I returned to Rome in 2011.

The Taj Majal in Agra as well as the Golden Temple in Amritsar, both in India got me similarly awestruck; and in Algeria in North Africa (intrigued by the usual stereotyping of Algiers, which is Algeria’s capital as locale for many spy-thriller novels), the Basilica of Saint Augustine where the remains of St. Augustine for some time got interred (until it was transferred to Pavia, Italy) amazed me particularly its Carrera marble and its breathtaking stained glass. It is unfortunate however that the basilica located in Muslim-dominated Annaba, Algeria is not a church anymore, but is a mere museum. It was a revelation too, when I traveled to Algeria in 2009 that St. Augustine is actually an African.

But having gone recently to Australia, I got so fascinated  with Sydney most especially its famous Sydney Harbour.

Indeed, Sydney Harbour is regarded as one of the most beautiful natural harbours in the world. With more than 240 kilometers of shoreline and meandering waterways, there really is an abundance of sights and sounds to explore, discover and behold.

In this first trip of mine to Sydney, I surely cannot but proclaim to all and sundry that Sydney has one of the most stupendous, and truly spectacular city! The Sydney Harbour and the Darling Harbour feature amazing sights and scenes especially with the reported regular dazzling firework display at exactly 9:00 pm on that cool and breezy Saturday evening. Upscale bars teeming with fashionably attired yuppies dot the fringes of the harbour both at the Cockle Bay Wharf and at the opposite border near the Sydney Opera House. The skyline in that evening was truly dazzling and colorful too.

Sydney Harbour is one big aquatic playground too for Sydneysiders, and surely as was told to me by my cousin-in-law, the suave and sociable Steve Lever; on a warm sunny day, the harbour is vibrant blue and is dotted with hundreds of sailing boats, cruise boats and ferries.

The vibrant hub of Sydney Harbour is the Circular Quay, a ferry terminal located on the edge of the Sydney city centre. Ferries leave throughout the day to different parts of the harbour, connecting the city with Sydney’s waterside suburbs. Circular Quay is also the major transport hub for water taxis, harbour cruises, buses, trains and taxis. Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art and historic Customs House are also located at the Circular Quay.

On the southern side of Circular Quay a walkway leads to the Sydney Opera House. On the northern side, a short walk takes you to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. A climb to the summit of the Sydney Harbour Bridge would enable one to have a panoramic view of the whole Sydney city as far as the eye can see.

For a quick transport, one can catch a ferry to Darling Harbour and visit tourist destinations thereat: Sydney Aquarium, Wildlife Sydney Zoo, Cockle Wharf Bay and King Street Wharf. At the Pyrmont Bay Wharf, you will be close to the Australian National Maritime Museum and the Harbourside Shopping Centre.

Many special events are based on or around Sydney Harbour throughout the year. Some of the major events when the harbour comes alive are the Vivid Festival when the city’s buildings are illuminated each night. When we visited the Sydney Harbour, the Festival of Chocolates was ongoing, where various goodies and wares are being sold. It was indeed serendipitous that among the booths at that Festival of Chocolates was a booth of Filipino entrepreneurs selling both pork and chicken  barbecue on sticks and the queue of customers lining up to taste their products was so long. Steve, my cousin-in-law, who sports a PROUDLY PINOY shirt, posed with me beside the booth which pompously announced its signage as HOY PINOY! Perhaps, the reason why I felt greater fascination with this trip to Sydney was the convergence of events: the Festival of Chocolates which featured the HOY PINOY booth teeming with seemingly-famished customers lined up in a long queue hankering for a taste of the Pinoy barbecue and the dazzling fireworks display that night at the Sydney Harbour. Photos of those Pinoy entrepreneurs are featured below.

Another majestic scenery in Sydney is the BLUE Mountains located in Ketoomba. The BLUE Mountains got its name according to what I heard from the phenomenon that happens every day usually at near dusk, as the emanating vapors from the vast bunches of eucalyptus trees in the Jamison Valley (underneath the ECHO point, which serves as the viewing deck for one to behold the majesty of the Blue Mountains) would gradually turn the color of the mountains from green to BLUE. Anyway, even it is still not yet dusk,  the farthest mountain ranges from the observation deck at the ECHO Point actually would look BLUE already. Sydney is truly ENTICING, just like the enticing photo of my cousin, the BONNY and BEAUTIFUL BETH!

Aussie…Aussie…Oi, Oi, Oi……Cherrio, as I wish to return to Aussie too someday.




[Photo was taken at the Oxley Park home in Sydney, NSW of Mr. & Mrs. Steve and Arlene “Beth” Lever who served as hosts in the celebration of my 67th birthday on September 12, 2016 with my Pi Omicron Fraternity brods based in Australia. From L to R: Johnny Capuyan, Norman Jave Javier, Florentino “Boy” Mayor, myself, Danny Daguio, our host Steve Lever and Prospero “Porong” Ceguerra.]

College life in UP Diliman (i.e. University of the Philippines) particularly my undergraduate stint thereat, following my secondary education in San Beda College in Mendiola, Manila; was, I feel the most memorable.

In February 1967, I passed the final initiation rites of the PI OMICRON FRATERNITY (“PI O”) at the La Vista, Loyola Heights home of the late Brod Pete de los Santos; where I suffered severe beatings from my master-brods then, most especially from Brod Jamel “Jimmy” Lucman.

I was not much of a gregarious kid during my high-school days as I had to quickly board a JD bus for our Murphy, Cubao home at dismissal time. This was in keeping with the disciplinarian ways that Daddy Max has adopted, decreeing then that we ( I and my siblings)  must all be at home by 6:00 PM.

As a fratman in UP Diliman, I enjoyed all the excitement of hanging out at our “tambayan” (i.e. our favorite spot of convergence), the after-class drinking sprees in those joints along Timog or Katipunan Avenue and those on-and-off shenanigans.

And that was almost 50 years ago, a befitting and felicitous time to reminisce those memories indeed. And that reminiscing came when I celebrated my 67th birthday on September 12 at the Oxley Park home of my cousin Arlene aka Beth, who is happily married to the suave and sociable Aussie Steve Lever. A mini-reunion ensued as my PI O brods came as my surprise birthday bash guests: Danny Daguio, Florentino “Boy” Mayor, Prospero “Porong” Ceguerra, Johnny Capuyan and Norman Jave Javier. Danny earlier forewarned me that he does not drive long distances anymore, for which reason I was doubtful if he can really make it. Boy Mayor was even farther as he is based in Brisbane.

In early 1970’s, when I was feeling overly ashamed about not being able to present to my late Mommy Norma and Daddy Max, my UP diploma [I made out a ploy that I lost a Philippine flag which I borrowed from the UP General Services and thus, cannot get my clearance (due actually to my having overstayed and lumping up a lot of subject-deficiencies, as it became a habit for me to do a leave-of-absence, every time I felt I will fail a subject) and that the UP wanted the same flag and no other replacement flag…he,he,he…]; Brod Danny Daguio  (who was then an Accountant) gave me a job as stock clerk at the SPICERS International, Inc., a British company engaged in paper importation and wholesale of paper products. Thus, I begun to work while I took up my subject-deficiencies at the UP Manila where it offered evening class sessions.  Indeed, I am so deeply indebted to Brod Danny as the doubt haunting my kin’s minds, of myself not having graduated from UP got erased from Mommy Norma’s mind. After a stint at the SPICERS, I also worked briefly at the Ateneo’s Institute   of Philippine Culture as a Research Assistant. And when I finally got my UP diploma, I got employed at the National Housing Authority, which became the  successor of the Tondo Foreshore Development Authority, which administered the World Bank-financed Tondo Foreshore Urban Renewal Project. Danny is now a retiree, and so very busy pandering much love for his grandkids especially Cameron who looks like a toddler-version of Harry Potter. Danny’s  last professional engagement in OZ is as an officer at BLUM (pronounced as BLOOM) a company engaged in churning out kitchen cabinets and other kitchen-related appointments.

Boy Mayor is truly a character. Though Boy is actually from the PI O San Beda chapter, Boy became an ubiquitous presence at the PI O UP Diliman hang-out, as he became good friends with my contemporaneous cluster of casual and carefree chums in the UP Diliman PI O, namely: the late Gerry Santos, Oca Badillo, Ronnie Manalastas, Monching Tojos, the late Marcy San Vicente, Rene Taruc, Butch Soriano, Jimmy Lucman, etc.

As I narrated during our reminiscences at the Levers’ Oxley Park home, Boy actually churned out the first driver-less car in the Philippines. Up to now, I am so much amazed how Boy was able to drive home so safely every night after getting besotted with beer and quaffing whiskey on the side.  He would board his VW crimson red bug (i.e. Volkswagen beetle) and would drive it virtually snoring. Next morning, after we would pester him with questions on how he drove home safely, he would jocularly say that he would just turn on a toggle switch at the bug’s dashboard and off , it would go as though a remote-controlled car. Boy is  still at it, tinkering cars… as he is presently AUDI’s Service Warranty Manager at its  Audi Center Brisbane dealership.

Porong is actually a brod from the UP Los Banos (“UP LB”) chapter, but just like Boy Mayor, he was also an ubiquitous presence in UP Diliman especially when the PI O is engaged in a fraternity rumble. Porong’s usual pep-talk when we, armed with a lead pipe or a kamagong pole (i.e. kamagong is a kind of a Philippine hardwood),  are about to launch a blitzkrieg assault (it was our usual stratagem as we were not then so many…HIT and RUN) was to hurl, lunge and propel oneself into the enemy as, according to him, when adrenalin is high; you actually will not feel the pain of a blow, a rapier’s thrust not even a searing whizz of a bullet….DARING WORDS FROM A BRAVE WARRIOR INDEED! Porong is now retired but is always busy in the mornings tinkering his personal  computer and other electronic gadgets as a hobby. It was a revelation to hear too that in 2002, Porong (already then an Aussie national)  won the Australian National championship in ARCHERY.

Johnny Capuyan is also from UPLB and that he really looks too young for his age; even overwhelmingly divesting me with my FOREVER YOUNG sobriquet.  Johnny is engaged in an Aussie company involved in HYDROPHONIC technology. Actually, when Steve learned about his involvement in HYDROPHONY, Steve jokingly asked whether it is similar to MODERN MARIJUANA technology; actually throwing  some kind of potshot unto an Aussie who reportedly got caught years ago,  raising MARIJUANA using inside his palatial mansion the modern HYDROPHONIC technology. Wow, not only in the Philippines pala…he,he,he…

Norman, who belongs to the younger brods of mine from UP Diliman, on the other hand, narrated that he has been engaged in various small-scale businesses. And these businesses include a home catering business venture where he said that he would cater and feed partying groups to the extent of almost 500 mouths.   Eventually, he felt that he was not made out as an entrepreneur and decided to merge once more into the Aussie gas and gear industry,  making home happily with his gracious wife who is engaged in the teaching profession in Sydney. Norman is sales representative of BOC Ltd. (a member of the LINDE Group of companies)  in its Gear & Gas business venture.





[Shown in the photo are my cousins: from L to R- Arlene “Beth” Llorca-Lever and Araceli “Cely/Sally Beckham” Oconer; Cely is actually unattached nowadays but she is pining, hankering and dreaming that David and Victoria Beckham might split up and that David would in a  serendipitous and magical episode emerge at her doorstep in her Rooty Hill, Sydney home and would ask for her hand in marriage….(suntok sa buwan) To my left at their back is my suave, sociable, superb, sanguine and supportive STEVE, my cousin-in-law and Beth’s hubby. We were then all lining up attired in the official LEGIT STATUS t-shirts, at the dance contest venue, the ROSE HILL GARDENS in Parramatta, Sydney; as the queue spilled up to the stairwell.)

This hispanic-sounding name Llorca is actually the surname of my maternal first cousins. These cousins of mine are the children of my late aunt Teodora “Tia Doring” Tobias and my late uncle who hailed from Silay City in Negros province, Generoso “Tio Gene” Llorca. Lever, on the other hand, is the surname (actually of Irish descent) of my cousin-in-law; the suave, sociable, supportive, sanguine and superb Steve. And Steve is married to Arlene, whom we (her kin) have been accustomed to endearingly refer to as Beth. Finally, Legit Status is the name of the hiphop team of my youngest daughter ALEE which participated in the World Supremacy Battlegrounds hiphop contest (“WSB”) here in Sydney, Australia particularly in the Varsity Division.

Beyond this fondness for the letter “L” in a virtual alliterative composition, the letter “L” is actually the 12th letter of the alphabet and today is the 12th of September, my first birthday with my family in a foreign land peopled with hospitable personages. And as it is my birthday, I have decided to write this BLOG  as a gift for the Llorcas, the Levers and the Legit Status team with whom I will rub elbows with, wine and dine at today’s simple feast with kith and kin. For it has been said, it is better to give than to receive.

I got so inspired to write this BLOG as it really pained me to hear as a Filipino, at last night’s FINALS at the WSB  a plaintive utterance by the leader of one Philippine team from Cavite (a province south of Manila). The team’s leader of a group of young Filipino passionate hiphop dancers unashamedly narrated after the emcee asked for some remarks after their number, their plight.  He was in near tears when he confessed, certainly to scrimp on expense, that on their first night they actually slept in one of Sydney’s commodious camping parks. But unable perhaps to withstand the coldness of the night, they were compelled to eventually rent a house to shelter them all, 30 young Filipinos who just want to show their talent to the whole world. Thus, they pleaded to the audience for help as they admitted having spent money for house rent which was allotted for their food. And copious financial help from both their countrymen and Australians poured in.

But the LEGIT STATUS team, though they neither was able to snatch the gold nor the silver nor the bronze (they actually landed in 4th place); was copiously blessed, for they not only have the Llorcas but the Levers too. [Actually, the LEGIT STATUS Team topped the semi-finals held on Friday, Sept. 9, 2016; which was participated in by all foreign teams. The next day (Saturday, Sept. 10) was the AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL COMPETITION, and from these competing Aussie teams, 8 Aussie teams were seeded to compete in the FINALS on Sept. 11, 2016.]  My cousin Beth (who is so gracious, funny, elegant and so “bongacious”) is an organizer par excellence, as she not actually planned for the team’s lodging accommodation (except that due to some unforeseen mishap, a contingency arose— but still Beth’s contingent plan was even better) but also the team’s transport needs. Beth is  actually a looker too which explains why Steve is so madly in love with her. In 2012, Beth won FIRST RUNNER-UP in the Lola Queen Pageant held in Ontario, California where she represented Australia.Though Beth did not win the top prize, the consolation as I personally perceive it, is that the organizers of the pageant accorded fidelity to the title of the pageant, and awarded the top prize  to an old looking LOLA. Photos of that unique and exciting pageant are shown below.

It really gave me a sigh of relief when last night too, after the scramble to head for home (the festivities ended at almost midnight at the WSB venue) begun, another Philippine team pleaded for help as they did not plan for their transport back to their rented home in Sydney’s Bexley district almost a 2 hour drive from the WSB venue (as the train service was already closed; and taxicab service is so very expensive). A friend of Beth (who is kin to one of the team’s members) narrated that they had to seek friends’ help to aid the 40 man team using their own cars to shuttle them all. Actually, the owner-driver of the shuttle service which Beth engaged was sought for help, but the Chinese driver said that he was dead-tired already.

On top of the shuttle service which Beth engaged, Steve who is manager of one of Sydney’s upscale supermarket, the Woolworth, and who took a leave for the whole period of our stay, announced to all of us that he is our OFFICIAL DRIVER. And true to his word, Steve lived up as our driver, shuttling us to here and there; never complaining  and even serving as porter, carrying this and that for us. On the other hand, my other cousin, who is Beth’s younger sister – Cely aka Sally Beckham, opened her home for the team free-of-charge and with her daughters’ (i.e. Charmy and Candice) fed, nurtured and took care of the kids together with their coach Vimi Rivera, who is my daughter’s (i.e. Shayna) fiancé.

Well, about Legit Status’ not winning a prize—2 of their team mates got denied in their visa application and the denial came a day after the team’s departure to Sydney. And, ALEE, my sweetest daughter, sprained her ankle, a day too before the trip to Sydney…. and with medication and some special kind of bandage, the dance routine had to go on.

But what is most important is family and friends…our KITH and KIN! And that I want posterity and the whole world to read and see the Llorcas’ and Levers’ HOSPITALITY!

Oh, I almost forgot, we met Steve’s mom, Bettina, at Sunday’s holy mass at the St. Mary’s Catholic Church here at St. Mary, Sydney; and I am sure Mom Bettina uttered a little prayer for the Legit Status Team too. And it was good, ALEE’s sprained ankle did not worsen (thanks to the timely advice and medical prescription given by my friend, orthopedic doctor Bibs Carilo before we left for Sydney).