Tuesday, September 30, 2008


The Hari Raya is one of my most awaited events in Southeast Asia. I would go to my Muslim friends’ house and eat and eat as much as I can – uhm, did I just sound like a free-riding cheapskate there? LOL. Nah, kidding aside…the Hari Raya is a special day when Muslims celebrate the end of the fasting month of Ramadan with their families.

Greeting me, greeting you. Hari Raya literally means... “Day of Celebration”. Aidilfitri is the Malay term of the Muslim festival of Eid-ul-Fitr. Muslims in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei use the greeting “Selamat Hari Raya” while Muslims in Indonesia use “Salam Aidilfitri”. This is also a time for reconciliations and the words...“Maaf zahir dan batin” are added which means “I seek forgiveness with all my being”. “Happy Eid” is acceptable to English speaking greeters.

New stuffs for the kids! Just like Christmas or Songkran, Hari Raya is also most awaited by children. This is the day they get new clothes, new shoes, new PlayStation *that’s for me!* and all sorts of presents. The adults are extra generous by giving small amounts of money they call “Duit raya”. *Ch-k-ching!*

Everybody is in a festive mood! People would be extra happy, extra friendly and seem like they are switched on to shopping mode as well! Big cities and towns would have sale, big promotions, discounts and the malls are playing Hari Raya songs non-stop! TV show extravaganzas and concerts rule the airwaves for the succeeding days.

1 light bulb, 2 light bulbs, 3 light bulbs…City streets transform into a Disney-like feel with all the thousands of light bulbs on just about anywhere they can stick in onto -- like stars descended from the heavens. More traditional families in towns use lamps to decorate their houses at night time.

Traditional costumes galore! It is customary for Malays to wear traditional Malay costumes on Hari Raya. Men would wear “baju” and women would wear “kurung” or “kebaya” – they will take pictures of themselves and post it on MySpace for the entire world to see! I really love it when they flaunt and proud of wearing their traditional costumes! Simply admirable.

Honk! Honk! Most people would hold traditions the best they can. There is “Balik Kampung” which means going back to one’s home town and celebrate Hari Raya with their relatives and childhood friends. You wouldn’t believe the nationwide traffic caused by this mass exodus! Traffic enforcers are on a 24-hour alert!

Come in! Come in! On the eve of the celebrations; mothers, grandmas and aunts are busy preparing food, cakes, sweets and the best dishes – Ketupat and Rendang are on top of the menu. Supermarkets would sell instant-versions of it for the city people. And the most beautiful of it all is the “open house” – where you can just show up to other people’s house and eat to your hearts’ desire.

Behind all this modern celebration of the Hari Raya is an earnest tradition of keeping close to their religion. Muslims would start the day with a prayer at the mosque, visit people who are close to their hearts and be compassionate with all sincerity.

The Hari Raya is truly a Southeast Asian tradition to behold.


* Note: The Eid-ul-Fitr is also a national holiday in the Philippines.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

PERFECT SPECIMEN: Deborah Priya Henry

More than just a pretty face.

Deborah Priya Henry is a famous model/product endorser in Malaysia. She was born in Dublin, Ireland on 07 July 1985 to a Malaysian-Indian mother and an Irish father.

She grew up in Kuala Lumpur and started modeling when she was 15 in London. After completing 2 degrees from the University of Queensland in Australia, she became Miss Malaysia-World 2007 and went on to become a semi-finalist in the Miss World 2007 contest. She was the first representative of Malaysia after a 9-year absence in the said contest.

Deborah is now active in modeling and founded “Open Doors” – a charity org helping people with sustainable development programs and assistance.

More of Deborah here...

(Click photo for larger view)

Eurasians are the most beautiful people on Earth.


Friday, September 26, 2008

HTMS CHAKRI NARUEBET | จักรีนฤเบศร :
Southeast Asia’s Only Aircraft Carrier

The Chakri Naruebet is an aircraft/helicopter carrier of the Royal Thai Navy. It is the one and only in Southeast Asia and the smallest serving aircraft carrier in the world. It holds the distinction of the most technologically advanced vessel in the region.

Though an aircraft carrier in an Armed Forces may depict offensive warfare, the Chakri Naruebet was purchased mainly to modernize the Royal Thai Navy and for surveillance for Thailand’s Exclusive Economic Zone. In fact, the anti-aircraft missile systems were never installed and the Chakri Naruebet is rarely put to sea. Starting up its engine alone costs US$4,000 already.

In time of war (which I don’t think will happen), the vessel is the Flagship of the Royal Thai Navy. It will be sent for air and surface defense missions and anti-submarine warfare. It can carry 6 Harriers and 4 Seahawks at the full speed of 26.2 knots.

This prestigious vessel was delivered brand new to Thailand in 1997 (at a cost of US$175 million) by Spanish shipbuilders Izar from Ferrol, Spain. The design was based on the Spanish carrier "Principe de Asturias".

The Chakri Naruebet’s size and power can withstand rough weather at sea. It was used for search and rescue when the tsunami hit Thailand in 2004 and other disaster reliefs. This is why the ship is numbered – “911”.

The name "Chakri Naruebet" means “The Protector of the Chakri Dynasty” given by His Majesty the King of Thailand. HTMS means “His Thai Majesty’s Ship” used for the Royal Thai Navy’s vessels only.

The HTMS Chakri NaruebetPrestige of the Thai Kingdom.
Treasure of Southeast Asia.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

PHAM TUAN: Southeast Asia’s First Man in Space

The great Phạm Tuân deserves perennial recognition. And this is BISEAN’s contribution to continuously appreciate the Heroes of Our Region.

This amazing dude will be forever written in our history --
Vietnam’s pride, Southeast Asia’s honor and Asia’s first man in space.

Phạm Tuân was born in Quoc Tuan, Vietnam. He joined the Vietnam People's Air Force in 1965 and actually fought in live air-combat against America’s bests (?) in the Vietnam War till 1975. He also holds the distinction of “the only pilot in the World to ever shoot down a B-52 bomber.” *super cool!* -- although America diligently denied this. *Yeah, right. They even denied they lost the war! Haha!*

After he became a Major General and a research engineer for the USSR-Vietnam Space Program, he was selected (with another Soviet cosmonaut) to be sent on a space mission on board Soyuz37 on 23 July 1980 at Baikonur, USSR.

Our hero was in space for 7 days, 20 hours and 42 minutes and completed 142 orbits before going back to Earth on 31 July 1980. He did a lot of scientific experiments up there.

Looking at his photo (above) in his prime, Mr. Phạm is a very handsome fella indeed! And the photo (right) is, more or less, how he looks like today – still very handsome and dignified. *Mr. Phạm, you are my idol! I’m sure a lot of girls are running after you! Woohoo!”*

Mr. Phạm was married in 1975 and has 2 kids. He is now a Lieutenant General -- Head of the General Department of Defense Industry of the Ministry of Defense, and a member of the Vietnam National Assembly.

The Great Phạm Tuân of VietnamHero of Southeast Asia.


Related Article: Malaysia’s First Man in Space

*** Author’s trivia: Pisanu’s 3rd son was named “Marcus Pham Tuan” nicknamed “P.T.” in honor of Mr. Phạm.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


A collection of encounters, thoughts and funny tales. These are blog posts too short to have their own titles.

Whenever me and Sofia have to share a hotel room, I am not allowed to smoke in the bathroom. She will bark for hours if she smells the dang smoke when I get out of the pooh-pooh room. Waha!

Just this morning, I accidentally found a solution.

I splattered CreamSilk conditioner (which I bought in Manila) on my hair while secretly smoking in the bathroom. When I opened the door, ready to take the wrath of Sofia...she called out

“OMG! What shampoo did you use?!! Smells soooo terrific! Smells like fresh flowers in there! I luuurrrrvvv it!”

Haha! Now I can smoke in the bathroom till kingdom come. *and I don’t even know why I posted this. Darn.*


Speaking of smoking… anyone of you heard of Champix?

It’s a drug regimen (legal!) which supposed to help you/me/us/them QUIT smoking.

Mother sent me 2 months worth of tablets, because she wanted me to stop the habit but

Dad emailed me an article from America that Champix is being recalled (?) because it was making users depressed and there were 3 suicide incidences leading to the drug. Side effects include ulcers, loss of vision and vertigo. *I can take the ulcer and vertigo but LOSS OF VISION?!!!!* Yeah, my lungs are healthy but I won’t see any darn thing! Ha!

Ma, I flushed the Champix on the toilet this morning just in case I would have the urge to take it. Thanks anyway.


Mother, my brother and other friends including enemies say:

“Quit smoking, $%*&)=+@!!!”

Dad and I say: “Yeah, right. Die anyway."


I met a dude on the beach the other day. He looks like a bum – homeless, dirty, skinny, dry skin and all… unhealthy...the total package.

Absolute curious cat that I am…I made an effort to make a conversation with the sickly dude.

“Dude, maybe you should quit smoking till you get well.” I said with genuine concern and much irony to myself.

He said “No, I don’t smoke. Never did.”

“Oh! Ok. Maybe you should stop drinking…or maybe stop going out to parties at night.” I said looking away.

“No, I don’t drink. And I don’t even have money and friends to go out with.”

My vision was blurring in confusion. “You don’t smoke. You don’t drink nor go out to party at night?” I took out my camera-phone

He shook his head and silently said …”No.” He was looking at my cam-phone.

“You mind if I take your photo? I’ll give you money…”

“What for?” the dude looked straight at me.

“I just wanna show my mother what happens to people who don’t smoke, don't drink and don't party.”

He let me take his photo for US$ 1. Mother, check your email.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008


This is the Ferrari 456 Venice -- Custom made for Sultan Bolkiah of Brunei.

It started out as a 456 GT with a V12 442 HP engine. The Sultan specified to add 2 more doors and a hatchback to make it look like a "family car" -- and what do you know?...

He ordered 7 units for him and his family!

But intriguingly (and highly strange), the Sultan only purchased 6.
He reportedly paid $1.5 million for each in 1996.

What you see on the photo is the one the Sultan didn't want.


**Special thanks to Wise Kwai for the email and link =) ขอบคุณครับ

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Exotic sensuality.

Simon Tham is a Canadian model based in New York City. He was born in Toronto on July 1986 to a Thai-Chinese mother and an English-Canadian father. Simon is the latest "image" model for Abercrombie & Fitch and worked for Calvin Klein prior. He is currently managed by Major New York.

More of Simon here...

(Click photo for larger view)

Eurasians are the hottest people on Earth.


Photo Credits: Gregory Vaugh & Adam Raphael for DNA Magazine

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