Sunday, September 28, 2008

Me and my Yamaha Sniper One Rainy Afternoon

Motorcycle riding is considered as the most dangerous form of transportation in the world. Motorbike accidents have been the leading cause of road accident and fatalities in the country in recent years.

Based on January to December 2006 records from the Metro Manila Development Authority [MMDA] alone, motorcycle accidents have the highest fatality rate with 122 bikes involved, or 23.60 per cent of the total road accidents. Cars were next on the list, with 113 or 21.86 per cent.

Just 3 days ago, i was one of the unlucky ones who luckily escaped death in a motorcycle accident.

It was friday afternoon just after rain stopped. I was supposed to go to San Jose (provincial capital) riding my Yamaha Sniper 135cc to help my wife with shopping for the groceries we needed for our son's 5th birthday party for the next day. Due to the unfavorable weather brought by typhoon Ofel, we changed our previous plan of celebrating it in Iloilo and have it instead in our house. So there we are doing our last minute shopping. Im glad that we will just be preparing for a small number of visitors since we decided earlier to have this birthday party just for the closest family members (brothers,sisters, cousins and nephews).

I am running 60kph and about to cross this uphill bridge when these deep moonlike craters lying in my path surprised me and staying away from it is already futile since it covers the whole lane and a multicab going the opposite direction is on the other lane. My motorcycle swerved and 3 meters after, another deep crater surprised me that pinned my motorcycle to the gutter. I went blank after that.

The first thing i remembered after i regained consciousness is that im already sitting in my motor cycle with helmet on and these people i dont recognize (maybe motorists who stopped by to help) asking me if im okay or if i want them to bring me to the hospital. After examining my face with detached side mirror on my hand, i told them im fine since theres only slight scratch and bruises on my face. I was thankful that i had my helmet on. It has a crack on the side due may be to the impact. It should have been my head splitting had i not put it on. my arms were scratch free since this hard padded riding jacket absorbed all the scratches and abrasions. I only had this 3 inch scrape on my right knee, a very small one on my right shoulder and light scratch and bruises on my face.

I still managed to drive 4 kilometers on the way home soaked in water and mud and there i finally felt the pain and throbbing of my head.My Sniper suffered cracked and scratched cowlink, scratched headlight, bent telescopic bars, dent on muffler guard bent footrest and detached side mirror.

I am very grateful i am wearing complete safety protective gear that afternoon. I might probably be dead in that instant and will not be able to celebrate my son's birthday alive.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Habal Habal

"Habal" is a Bisaya term which means “the sexual (act) intercourse of animals” wherein the male animal enters the female animal by striding at the female’s back. However, in some areas in Visayas and Mindanao, the term “habal” is not only applicable to animals but to human also. In other words, “habal” literally means “sex”.

Now, “habal-habal” is the term used to call the motorcycle taxi because the driver and the passengers are in “habal” (animal) position.

Habal Habal is a single motorcycle without sidecar carrying two, three, sometimes four passengers on its pillion seat used as a form of public transportation especially in places that jeepneys or tricycles cannot reach and where roads are mostly narrow and unpaved.

This form of public transportation is already present all over the Philippines for decades and had gained its popularity in our place in the recent years. This is maybe due to a lot of motorcycle distributors who opened their business in our place and their affordable leasing programs that a lot of people were able to avail and use it to generate extra income. And that is by transforming this simple motorcycle into a Habal Habal.

Though this is illegal, a lot of passengers prefer riding these Habal Habals than the conventional tricycles and padyak/trisikad for speed and convenience.

The only sad thing is that these Habal habals are prone to accident. Just yesterday, a Habal Habal with 2 passengers collided with a delivery truck after it turned on a blind curve. The passengers were in critical condition and is needed to be transfered to Iloilo City for treatment and observation. The sad thing is that it turned out that the driver of Habal Habal has no driver's licence and the motorcycle he is driving has no registration and not covered with accident insurance.

With these kind of incidents happening frequently, the government seems cannot regulate the operations of these Habal Habal since there"s no franchising and regulation for this kind of transport, safety of passengers and drivers is really compromised.

The local LTO (Land Transportation Office) is strengthening their operations and become even stricter in implementing the No Helmet/Plate, No Drive Campaign especially for motorcycles but it is not enough monitor every municipality regularly.

On the other hand, the restriction and regulation of these Habal Habals means lesser opportunity to generate income and food for the family. In these times of job scarcity and continuos soaring of prices of prime commodities, more and more people tend to ignore their personal safety and of their passengers just to have something to put on the table. At least, they can consider this job honorable.

Rain or shine, safe or not, these Habal Habal drivers will continue on riding and thread the narrow and unpaved road towards their dreams.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hubert and Joy

What’s in a wedding? Everything. That is, just about every single happening that fabricates the couple’s story of love that’s about to share the very first day of the rest of their lives bound as one.

Last August 2, 2008 at San Agustin Church in Iloilo City, two hearts that endured the test of time and distance finally tied their knots.

I want to share with you the SDE that the newly wed showed on their reception with the help of their Wedding Videographer, Mayad Studios.

This video really left me and all of us jaw dropped and wanting some more! Very good job Mayad Studios!

To Hubert and Joy...... Best Wishes!

Joy and Hubert from Mayad Studios on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Rebels on the Bridge?

A week before my scheduled departure from japan, i decided to treat myself and visit places i longed to see while i still have the time and chance.

One of the must-see places in my list is Harajuku...

Harajuku had been popularly known worldwide with its out of this world and extra ordinary teenagers flocking its bridge on sundays. Even Gwen Stefani had this in one of her song.

Armed with my Point and Shoot camera, i marked Harajuku as one of my destination that sunday afternoon.

It was almost 2pm when i got out of Harajuku JR Station and the crowd is overwhelming.
The famous Takeshita-Dori on the adjacent street is teeming with teens and not so young people in its narrow quarter mile long (400 meter) strip lined with shops, cafes and fast food outlets catering to the young and hip in Tokyo. This ‘back alley’ in the Harajuku neighborhood has a distinctive entrance and is one of the symbols of the Harajuku area and has been known to spawn many fashion trends in Japan.
About 300m to the south of Takeshita Dori is Omotesando a street lined with international brand shops such as Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci, Ralph Lauren and other expensive fashion stores. The avenue is sometimes referred to as "Tokyo's Cham-Elysees". I just contented myself with watching from the outside since i know that my one month salary will only get me only an item in one of the stores and the money in my pocket is just enough to buy me a takuyaki meal and my train ticket on the way home.

The most interesting part of my trip is found on the brigde Above the JR Yamanote Line Track leading to the Meiji Shrine entrance and Yoyogi Park.

The world known "Harajuku Bridge".

The bridge is teeming with people both local and foreign and seems to be enjoying with the scene. I was excited to see the main purpose of my trip...... the "Girls of Harajuku Bridge".

Joining the crowd (of mostly foreigners and Ojisans), i took out my camera and tried my best to get the best shot i can even without asking permission from my subjects. Some willingly poses while some are quite alloof seems not minding the flashes fired upon their faces while busily chatting with friends.

For decades, teens in Cosplay (costume playing their favorite anime, movie or manga character), Lolita, Gothic, Ganguro flock this bridge on sundays and become a Japanese subculture over time. Most of the girls are middle or high school students, aged between twelve and nineteen. Many seems to make their own costumes, although some ot the more ornate designs are maybe bought in specialty boutiques around Harajuku. Their hai colorings come in brilliant hues, anywhere from fiery red to canary yellow.
Not far from the bridge i can hear rock and roll music. i went further and it directs me to the nearby Yoyogi Park entrance.

I was surprised with what i saw. It looks like a Sunday Carnival cum rock concert cum comedy show by Elvis wannabes strutting their stuff, twisting their sole-less electrical tape bound shoes, tight leather jeans, quiff flying and grease dripping hair. Most of them seemed to be drunk and dance with gusto with
eardrum breaking rock and roll music from portable boomboxes. Their audience looks with awe and amusement.
I even witnessed one guy attacking a member of the other group fro reasons i dont know. Maybe because of drunkenness and group rivalry.
With all these displays and drama, i cant help myself from asking WHY? What on earth they are doing in this place on a Sunday afternoon dressed up like some sort of punk-retro-elvis-anime carnival act? Some will say the are "Just Hanging out."

Is this just a normal way of "just hanging out?" Surely when two fifteen year old girls feel the need to dress up like dolls and put on black make up and these long past puberty males do the Elvis and strut in deafening rock and roll sounds till they drop with drunkennes on a weekly basis, one should not hesitate to ask why and probe deeper. Along with crazy TV, rampant drunkenness and karaoke, Nintendo and PSP addiction even with youngsters, is it an escape from the Japanese routine of work, or study, and no sleep?

Is it a cry of individuality in a society which doesnt encourage difference?

In truth, this is just another area of life in Japan where it is futile to ask questions. It just happens. Someone starts something and someone follows. This is Tokyo and ours is not to reason why. Anyhow, if they just want to be different, they are certainly succeeding. And if nothing else, they certainly brighten up their day and certainly mine!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Realization of Dreams

"Sa hinaba-haba man daw ng prosisyon, sa simbahan pa rin ang tuloy".

Last week i witnessed my good friends exchange their vows and sealed their commitment to each other.

I had given the opportunity to live with them for several years and witnessed how they grow as a couple and a family. They stood as my foster parents, best friends and counselors.

After ten years.... the long awaited day has finally come.