Friday, September 28, 2007


Today is the 6th month of BISEAN blog. Here are the 50 Eurasians & biracial personalities we featured from 28 March - 11 Sept 2007. We checked the stats and guess who got the most hits? The Perfect Specimen you liked most...

Here's a countdown.

"We are Hitler's worst nightmare."

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*Me, sitting at Greenbelt Park enjoying my afternoon latte while Sofia, Akihiro and Morgan are shopping to death…*

“Hello! Where do you come from?”

OMG! No-no-no!…not this conversation again! Am I back in Thailand? Huh!? Nope, the sign clearly says Greenbelt Park, so this is Manila. But why am I getting this dreaded question again? No, no, no…there’s gotta be a mistake. I’m not gonna fall for this again. “Excuse me? What did you say?” *oh shoots!*

“You look like a tourist. Where are you from?” the guy said smiling.

“Oh! I’m from Thailand.” I quickly replied, sipping my latte.

“You’re from Taiwan! My sister is a factory worker there. Many years already.”

YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! This is a new conversation after all!

“No, no, no…Thai – land.” I studied his reaction… NOPE! It didn’t register. So I changed my statement…

“I’m from Bangkok.” There! I think he would recognize my city.

“Wow! You speak Tagalog? Anong bangko?”


He meant -- “What bank?”!!!


Related Article: ”Wer You Cam Phom?”

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OUR TREASURES: The Las Piñas Bamboo Organ

45 minutes drive south of Manila is Las Piñas City – where the world’s only organ made almost entirely of bamboo is located.

The Bamboo Organ isn’t just something with a whimsical name – it’s a real musical instrument that can actually be played! The annual International Bamboo Organ Festival is held here every February. International organists and musicians come to the Philippines to get the chance to play (or at least hear) the world’s only Bamboo organ.

It was built by a Spanish priest in 1816 and finished it 8 years later. The whole gigantic instrument was entirely made of bamboo except the tubes were replaced by metal after it was shipped to Germany for restoration in the 70s.

The Bamboo Organ can be found inside St. Joseph Parish Church in the center of Las Piñas City. The church itself is equally historic. It was first built in the 1700s, destroyed by an earthquake, and was rebuilt again in 1819. Its beautiful baroque-style architecture gives the place an almost melancholic feel to it. The sound of the Bamboo organ liven everything up, as we were told.

Bamboo represents the sturdy but flexible character of our peoples. It’s power, strength and versatility embodies our region like no other.

The Bamboo Organ of the Philippinesa Southeast Asian treasure.

*I guess the “Can I play your organ?” joke won’t crack anyone here, eh?*


Thursday, September 27, 2007


Simply lovely.

Sharon Leal is an American actress of Filipino-African-American descent. She was known for her role as Michelle in the movie “Dreamgirls” with Beyonce Knowles. She had numerous TV series roles previous to the big hit film. Sharon was born on 17 October 1972 in Arizona to an African-American father and a Filipino mother.

Sharon was nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture in the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards in 2006 for her role in Dreamgirls.

More of Sharon's photos here...


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MT. MAYON: Her Volcanic Majesty

YOU ARE NOT GONNA BELIEVE THIS! The chopper came at 9am, brought us to an airbase and took a 6-seater plane to Legazpi City in Albay province -- all because I’m a sucker for volcanoes! Woohoo! I think our hosts are enjoying watching me and my friends -- jump up and down like little kids upon seeing what appears to be a quiet mountain that could explode anytime. LOL!

Mayon Volcano is one of the most picturesque of all the volcanoes in the world. Its perfect cone-shape appears menacing since it really looks like a volcano (unlike the ones in Camiguin) -- And at the same time almost hypnotic as you stare at its powerful presence. Akihiro was like: “It kinda looks like Mt. Fuji without the ice caps” and I was like: “Are you kidding?” Pffft!

Mayon is the Philippines’ most active volcano -- It erupts every 8 years or so! The last time was just last year in July! *whoa! We missed it!* The deadliest eruption was in 1814 when more than 1,000 people died.

Legend has it that once there was a beautiful girl named “Magayon” – meaning “beautiful” in local dialect. She fell in love with a handsome man from a rival tribe. *don’t we all?* Their families did everything to separate the lovers so the 2 made a run for it. As a result, a bloody war broke between the rival tribes; Magayon and her lover felt guilty about it – *oh you betcha!* so they chose to kill themselves to be together for all eternity. When their families found their bodies, they were buried in separate places. After a few months, a volcano grew on the same spot where Magayon was buried. And it was named “Mayon” after Magayon. *Awww, Filipinos do love their love stories, don’t they?* WAIT, I thought “magayon” means “that’s swollen”? Nah! Forget it.

We spent most of our time in the air hovering around the volcano because this is what we came here for anyway – not to mention the time constraint of this unscheduled trip. This region is called Bicolknown for its distinct spicy food and nuts. We landed briefly on an airfield around 3pm and after 15 minutes -- we were in the air again heading back to the base. The chopper was waiting for us when we arrived to take us back to Tagaytay City.

BISEAN highly recommends a visit to see Mayon Volcano – now that we’ve seen it with our very own eyes; we agree that Mayon is one of the best natural wonders in the whole of Southeast Asia. Take that!


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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

TAAL: The World’s Smallest Volcano (?)

I told you I’m a sucker for volcanoes. We don’t have them in Thailand nor in Spain or Belgium. The moment our hosts mentioned they are going to take us to a volcano, my adrenalin was oozing like lava. *swoosh!*

Early this morning, we were driven 60km south from Manila to Tagaytay City in a nearby province called Batangas. Our hosts have a vacation house here and guess what? – Over looking the world-famous “volcano-within-a-lake-within-a-volcano-within-a-lake”. The one in the center is also (apparently) the world’s smallest volcano at 406m high. My mind gets almost numb thinking about it...

Taal Volcano last erupted 30 years ago in 1977, fortunately nobody died. But looking at the surrounding areas, why are there so many houses around? Aren’t they afraid living this close to danger? We were also told that real estates here are one of the most expensive in the Philippines -- But who can blame them? The view is to die for!

A local said that if the volcano is completely covered with clouds and fog and you really wanna see it – you have to yell out to “Maria-something” *I don’t remember the full name, sorry -- I'll edit this later* and ask her to clear the clouds. She is apparently a goddess watching over the volcano. But the day was clear! – so, no point of yelling out to her, is there?

Earlier this evening, I asked our hosts if they can bring us to Mayon; the Philippines’ most famous Vulcan. But they say it’s 500km away and it’s gonna take us at least 8 hours to get there UNLESS… *hold your breath*their H E L I C O P T E R is available tomorrow morning. *eyes closed, lips pouting*

I invoke Maria-somethinglet the chopper be available tomorrow. Please, please, please, please, please. I promise I won’t buy pirated DVDs anymore. Amen.


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I noticed there are lots of roadside stalls selling fruits, fresh produce and souvenirs on our way to Tagaytay City earlier -- these are very important to Filipino culture. They call it “pasalubong”, meaning; when you are coming from a faraway place, you have to bring something back for the people who would (possibly) welcome you.

It’s a small gift or a “token” that you actually thought of them while you’re on a trip. Or that you actually went out of your way to get them sumthin' while you’re on a holiday.

Filipinos buy key chains and t-shirts by the tons! One time there was this friend of mine... who was on a 3-day holiday in Bangkok. All she does is buy this for dad, buy those for mom, aunt, uncle, sister, brother, cousins, friends, neighbors and the neighbor’s cousins, the neighbor’s neighbor too! I asked her if she came for a holiday or just spend all her time looking for “pasalubong” --She said its tradition.

For the ones left behind, it’s actually not a taboo to ask for a “pasalubong” from the new arrival. Hands-on-waist, they would indignantly ask: “Pasalubong ko?” (Where’s my pasalubong?”). Filipinos use this gesture as a “lambing(affection) to indirectly express that they missed you too and they are happy to see you back. But it would be best if you DID bring them something.

This “pasalubong” thoughtfulness is a trait deeply embedded in Filipino culture – a trait that makes them so endearing. Truly one of our region’s golden traits from the Philippines.


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Tuesday, our 3rd day -- I’m beginning to think this Manila trip is pre-empted. I mean, we can’t go out on our own. We have schedules to go here and there, visit this and that and we are always driven home early! I really wish they would lend us a car to go around without a chauffeur. So, we planned to break our way out! Ha!

Akihiro phoned a taxi because we wanted to go to P. Burgos St. and visit Jools or Mogambo to see a hundred girls in bikini. But the governess told us that the taxi was turned away at the gate. And if we try to walk our way out the village, we might be turned away too on our way back! *Whadda?!* This is not good. No siree!

So what’s for us to do? -- We called Trouffles. The youngest member of the XXXXX clan (our hosts) and asked her if she can drive us around. And what do you know – she said yes, BUT – after she parade us in front of her friends and classmates on a nearby mall! *This little girl needs some serious spanking, I tell you*

“Ok, ok! Just get us outta here!” I yelled on the phone. I planned to manipulate her to ditch her friends and bring us to P. Burgos instead. Ha!

A few minutes later, here she comes with her full entourage of 5 cars! OMG! What in the world?! I thought the classmates would be at the mall?!! “Oh! They don’t want to wait, kuya.” Trouffles said. (“Kuya” means big brother in Filipino). “Ok let’s go, LET’S GO!” I’m not really sure about this – I wanna call it off! It turned out that all of the 5 cars have a personal driver-slash-bodyguard on it! *sigh* There goes Jools and Mogambo…

The girls (and boys) in the car knew a lot about us. I’m not sure if they have been reading our blog or Sofia is being a big mouth donkey again. A few minutes more and a couple of “wave-your-phone-in-the-air-and-say-cheese”, we were on this mall called Market Market to meet some MORE friends! *Oh! C’mon! Akihiro, do sumthin’!*

The excessively hospitable Trouffles and her friends took us to Dusit Hotel Nikko and for some reason, picked a Thai restaurant called Benjarong Royal Thai. *yeah right, don't we like eat Thai food like everyday?* Afterwards, we went to a nearby mall and we were also “showered” with Selecta ice cream which they said is a local brand (we actually have it in Thailand but its called Wall’s). What happened to Magnolia, by the way?

Just as you are beginning to think this is already the icing on the cake well, you’re wrong! -- The parents started to show up one by one (I mean, pair by pair) to say hi! The girls and boys called them to meet us! *Ugh!*

And they didn’t come empty handed -- We got miniature jeepneys, a rosary *huh?!*, 2 teddy bears wearing Barong, 3 peuter ashtrays with “Philippines” etched on it, a small clock with seashells, a mini Bible *huh?!*, a box of polvoron sweets, 4 packs of dried mangoes…what elseah! The Maria Clara Barbie doll for Sofia. I think there’s more, I just forgot the rest.

Akihiro and I was in total awe!… Here we are, complete strangers whom maybe they just heard about from their kids, meeting us for the first time and we were showered with gifts! We never felt so welcome in our whole lives! This is “Welcome”Filipino style.


* We later met Sofia and Morgan to go to Malate District. I think Sofia blogged about it already, yeah?

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007


In the recent situation of our neighbors in Burma, we get news from networks a day late. Journalists has to risk their lives smuggling footage or information and most of the time, the reports are censored by the repressive Burmese military government before being aired.

If you would like to know and be updated with what’s really happening over there, you can visit BISEAN’s link to Burma here.

The blog is authored by Dawn. A socially conscious civilian in Yangon and courageously blogs what she see. Dawn is actually risking her life doing this. Thanks very much Dawn, for this unselfish act. Peace to Burma.


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