Last year’s post about Valentine’s day: this year wasn’t any better.

Valentine’s was a running joke in highschool, a curiosity in college, and a kick in the ask of a realization last year.
It was last year that I first saw the natural order of things on Feb. 14.

Surprisingly, last year’s 214 was, in many frames, the first for me. Prior to this, I never had the chance to see the love dipoles in action while painting the city red, not in the ordinary sense of the idiom which means engaging in violence, but in a more romantic sense which only a guy as creative (and as arrogant!) as me can think of.

I even saw a couple of friends and their respective dates outside Jollibee,one of the many publicly desecrated places unfitting for privacy time.

It was like a lecture of semiconductor electronics, electron-hole recombination, photon emission in the form of lampungan ehehe. Love is in the air, inasmuch as the optical field of a laser is calculated, realized, emphasized, and analyzed through photoluminescence calculations.

Moreover, as a spectator of this bizarre action, I am a passing electron, no hole to come back to; a dynamic entity, a single lad clad in a cloak of personal reflection and scrutiny.

Yes, the world is a semiconductor on any given date.

But come February 14, the world transforms, evolves, heightens and whatnot, into a conductor. And with my boring presence, I roam free, wandering, not necessarily looking; the eyes are open but there is a black curtain behind it which is closed for the most part.

I command the Conductor identity, as I scan for other free charges, without actually scanning, and as we try to make sense out of this Confusing turn of events.

There is always a hole to recombine back into. I’ve seen some of them in action.They increase the Photon emission, and congest the air with more love oxygen than is required. As a free electron, I was still under the influence of the crystalline structure that is quite, and ridiculously, randomly delineated by clouds of love dust — choking my aorta!

I do hope, however, that things will be different this year.

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Why is our government so corrupt?

How brave of me to try to answer that question!

Honestly, I believe that there’s more than just one answer to this question. There are several issues that contribute to the sorry state of our government, which, from the lowest to the highest tier, have adopted a culture of corruption veiled by justifying tradition.

I want to go back to the most fundamental part of society, and that is the family. I will answer the question from here.

For me, corruption starts at the bricks. Well, close family ties is good. By looking at other nations and seeing their definition of family relations, I can’t help but look back at my own country and smile. For one, I smile at saying good riddance to anxieties of living my retirement years alone, and desolated, perhaps playing chess with other old men at a home for the aged.

However, even the thinnest paper has two sides to it. Close family ties is room for a lot of love and assurance, but like everything else romantic, a cancer cell looms in the horizon, ready to burst out and inflict damage when the smallest pint of opportunity reveals itself.

And damage caused is felt not from within, but towards unrelated, and oftentimes, inanimate necessities. Necessities that keep the entire country clean.

Some families keep the ties too close, perhaps fueled by the same fear that is gripping other nations; the fear of being left alone. No one is an island, and no one should. I can go so far as saying that inasmuch as our country is made up of thousands of islands, the people in it also have archipelagic ideals and comfort zones.

Yet it is through this desire that the cancer cell emerges and throws its weight around to maintain an imbalance of logic and selflessness. Family members who tend to keep it close, they find it hard to say no when it comes to their families. Family is placed above Integrity, Honesty and everyone else’s fare share of oxygen.

Close family ties are good, but let us remember to bond our ties with the right kind of glue.

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First time at MOA

The first time I visited Mall of Asia was roughly three years ago. From our Baguio trip, we decided to stay in the airport for the remaining hours before our flight back home. However, we got bored because there was nothing fancy to do in the airport except take pictures, which I had a lot of back in the summer capital. That’s why we decided to visit the Mall of Asia.

I was with two people that time; one was Dr. Tee, who was a NASA professor during his glory days and a physics and astronomy teacher in the US. The other one was Alviu Nasir, who graduated magna cum laude and is currently a faculty member of the physics department of MSU-IIT.

I know, right? Two geeks (well, okay, make that three) head to the mall of asia where you can shop, dine, play and do lots of crazy stuff. Just for the fun of it,  I let the two decide where they want to go, and I just followed.

Hilarity. This is where we ended up being among all places we could possibly be inside this huge mall. The stereotypical clouds are beaming over us when we gathered inside the only haven of geeks inside a contemporary setting.

In case you didn’t get it, we went to the bookstore. Then we had to go back to the airport, and I didn’t get the chance to see the life size replicas of movie stars in the theater my sister was talking about while she was talking to me over the phone. Oh well, the MOA will always be there for me to visit anytime soon.

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Fun with Frisbee

I played Frisbee today. My teacher, Dr. Ryan Balili, invited me to a game of frisbee at our school’s soccer lawn, or baseball lawn, or reserved officers’ training corps lawn. I guess it’s a multipurpose lawn.

He invited me once before, but that time we were only paying catch because there weren’t enough players to set up a team versus team. This time, however, there were eight of us. We could play 4 versus 4 and I was so excited about that. Then, my excitement grew as 8 more came. Now we’re playing 8 versus 8. More players means more fun.

I didn’t know the rules of the game. Sir Ryan told me think of basketball and football. There were two touch-down border goals on opposite ends. If my team had the frisbee, someone from my team will throw it as far away from our goal as possible, and as close to the other team as possible, so that they don’t have to start passing frisbees near our goal.

They will then start passing the frisbee as we try to tap or catch them mid air before someone from their team catches it. If their team member fails to catch a pass, the turn goes back to us. If their team member catches the frisbee successfully, he will then pass it to another team mate. He is not allowed to move and run with the frisbee. They will keep passing it and we will keep on trying to deflect or steal it. If they do well, they will be able to pass the frisbee to their team mate who is positioned right after their own touch-down goal. That will score as a point for them.

If their team scores a point, teams will exchange goals. This is the boring part for me. But it’s just reasonable to change goals after every point. I really enjoyed playing the game. But at first, I didn’t know what my role was. I just stayed at the back because I was too tired to run and contribute to the offensive aspect of our game.

I was content on playing the role of goal keeper, until I realized I sucked at being one. I did manage to get a few steals however, from passes that went over my head. I simply jumped and took advantage of my high vertical leap, to the surprise of the opposing team, who thought they could pass overhead. But often times, i jumped off timing, and miscalculated the height.

I then decided maybe I’m good at being a mid fielder. So for the second game, I decided to position myself at the middle, where maybe I can contribute to some balanced offense and defense. I did fairly better as a mid fielder, because there was more action in that area of the field. Still, I was envious of the cherry pickers who positioned themselves near the goal most of the time to score for our team. I needed to score.

And score I did. In fact, when I decided to just run towards the goal and wait for my teammates to pass the frisbee to me, I did score my first and only goal for both matches. And the cool thing was that it was the winning point for our team, in a hill to hill thrilling battle.

I’m definitely playing frisbee again. Thanks for inviting me Sir Ryan.

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Fratres Scholarum Christianarum

When I was a grade 5 student, I approached Fr. Dalumpines, FSC because I was a desperate kid. The guards won’t let me out. They told me there’s a school-wide activity that merits everyone to stay inside the campus. Compulsory. I hated that word. Actually, the guards didn’t tell me anything. They just brushed me aside without explaining. Who am I to complain? I was just a fragile little kid with no say in this democratic society.

I was desperate. My family was going to the beach and they are leaving without me, because the guards won’t let me out. I didn’t care about the rules. Screw the rules. This is emergency. I just wanted to cry out of frustration. My heart was desperate. My mind was desperate. Even my feet were desperate. They carried me running towards the closed open space that I call my second home, but at that time I called my only prison. They marched to a random beat in hopes of finding something, anything; a solution. Maybe a launch pad that will hurl me over the walls and out. Freedom!

Instead I saw Fr. Dalumpines from the corner of my eyes, as I was frantically looking for that launch pad in the hallways of Highschool county. Perhaps the post adolescents had that kind of technology. But I saw hope in Fr. Dalumpines, FSC. And I mustered all my courage and chutzpah or hutzpah, and approached him. Most kids would go near him and give him a mano po. He was legendary for being more child friendly than your regular van, whose only evidence of such is a bumper sticker which suggests so.

With that knowledge under my belt, I negotiated. But an 11 year old can only say so much to a 111 year old school president. The man’s 100 years older than me, and that’s how far away he is from allowing me to go outside. He could have given me the exception. Because I was desperate. Because back then, it was an emergency situation for me. Forget that I didn’t have puppy dog eyes, or that I was sweaty and smelly from all that running. He could have been lowly enough to sense that I was too depressed for my own age. I was getting the age equivalent of stress of a mother scolding her son for being too indifferent. Well that is me now, but that was me then.

And so I left unsuccessful. The father dismissed me, even more than the guards did. The father had absolutely nothing to do with me. Oh yes he did, but only if he wanted to scowl and frown back at me. Maybe it was because I didn’t give him the mano po. Maybe I wasn’t cute enough for him. Maybe he was just having a bad day. Whatever the reason may be, that tiny incident really left a prejudiced mark on my head.

Because of that incident, and only up until last year, when I met a really cool FSC, I have always had, at the back of my mind, the prejudice that FSCs were snobbish, self-centered, and had absolutely nothing to do with unlovable kids. This view diminished over the years, and now it’s totally gone, but all those years of having that prejudice in my head were indelible. All those years, I had it in my history that these FSCs were discriminating. And it’s just sad, but I’m just glad that the arrow of time is pointing forwards and not backwards, and that the issue of approach vs avoidance is finally settled for the good. Father Dalumpines, FSC, I forgive you, even if there’s good reason to believe I don’t have to forgive or be forgiven for anything.

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The early bird catches the worm

My friend ate Vannie Joy Resabal shared a funny anecdote to me. When she attended a seminar in Manila, the speaker was very frustrated with the participants because they always came in late during his lectures. Finally, the speaker gave up, and expressed his disappointment with a common phrase straight out of John Ray’s 1670, 1678 A collection of English Proverbs:

The early bird catcheth the worm.

Basically saying that if you want to succeed in anything, you need to be well prepared for the tasks at hand. I don’t quite recall the story as it was, but I think ate Vannie Joy then whispered under her breath to her seatmate, But sir, we are not the bird, we are the worm.

One word, clever! That’s exactly how we feel sometimes. Sometimes, we feel like we are the bird, so we need to be early. We need to be prepared. But there are times when we feel like we are the worm; like we need to be late so that the opportunistic and selfish bird will not come and swoop us down from our dwelling places.

In the context of learning, because that’s where the original setting of the anecdote is, this funny illustration has a deeper meaning that I believe every teacher and student should keep in his or her list of fundamentals. A teacher should not make his or her students feel like they are worms.

Why do they come in late in the first place. Who knows? There are many factors to consider, and I still have to ask ate Vannie Joy a lot of questions. On the other hand, it is very likely that their speaker is acting like a huge bird and the students aren’t feeling like they are the tiny little chicks inside that bird’s nest and waiting to be fed and nourished.

In my theory, learning was impeded from the little chicks, err the worms, the students, I hope you’re not getting confused as much as I am, because the speaker, or the subjects that he delivered, was creating an environment filled with threats and intimidations.

Some scientists call it reflective vs. reflexive. Learning, in this case, was defeated and had to give way to the students’ emotional reactions to the threatening environment. Other scientists call it downshifting, and it is as much of a natural brain phenomenon as hunger, or anger, among others.

It could be that ate Vannie Joy is merely expressing what she was feeling about the speaker and his teaching methods in a clever and funny way, which, having known ate for so many years already, is characteristic of her identity: a witty, funny, and beautiful woman. Ate Vannie Joy, I hope you can read this.hehe.

Then again, it could be that I’m making something a lot more complicated than it really is, because that is characteristic of my identity as well. I tend to make simple things complicated. That’s the price you pay for studying to learn Physics. LOL

I’m staying.

I
You started to breathe and the wind blew against it,
But you battled to show that you won’t back down.
You opened your eyes and in an instant,
The chorus ascends to a lively sound.II
The sound of blinding hope that your blood will choke and strangle tides,
And feel stronger when your hard-pressed life form tears in your eyes.

III
Time slows down to the fear of living each dilated second
And losing ground, as your peers
Devour every single gold-plated door in existence.
Doors that are more than just a way in,
They are a way out.
Away from your skin.

IV
Inviting you to breathe your last,
To start exhaling your past until you reach the handle
And turn your saddle towards the opposite direction;
Your back against the stained canvas of hard work and hard luck,
Where dreams get stuck to a slow-moving pace;
The charity of haste approaches.

Your legs carry you as far as you desire
If, against you, conspired plains and not mountains.
But hills are like fountains, they hit a certain peak
And go down, to a level of mystique and assurance
That you christen, ‘Hope’.

VI
Live by hope, and Stay.

If it’s made in the Philippines, buy it.

I went to a Chinese store to buy a set of baking tins. When I approached the Chinese vendor, she took me to a section of baking tin boxes. Apparently, she took me to the right little spot in her Chinese store. I took a good but quick look at the available products. Finally, something caught my eye. I approached the Chinese vendor and told her, “I want that one”, in my most basic Bisaya. I had to assume her familiarity with our local language.

The Chinese girl blurted out, “Don’t choose that set of baking tins because it’s Made in China. Choose This one, instead, because it’s made in the Philippines. Or this one, because it’s made in India”.

I was tempted to tell her, “Gee, this baking tin set is really serving up to its display purposes”. But even more than tempted, I was seduced into telling her, “You’re a Chinese gal with Chinese blood running all over your Chinese circulatory system, and you mean to boycott your own Chinese products”?

If anything, this little encounter allowed me to look into a periscope that points back at what’s behind me, and I saw my own compatriots laboriously laboring to produce products and serve services for their country’s countrymen.

I badly needed this kind of sudden spark of patriotism, now that the elections are approaching and I have yet to decide on who I want seated on that preciously abused presidential seat. But whoever I choose, I know I’m choosing one man along with him, and that is Mr. Wisely. And I know for certain that I’d want this guy to have a clean and honest butt and enough diapers to retire from the chair and leave it unsoiled.

Post script. If it has dawned on you to become skeptical of my story, and say to yourself, I know this guy too much to believe he actually went to a Chinese store to buy baking tins. He doesn’t know a thing about cooking, much less baking! I tell you this, unless you are Victor Rafferty, or Matt Parkman, I’m telling the truth. 😛

Chutzpah

Classical Electrodynamics was nothing short of a nightmare for me when I was still studying. It came to a point where I had to solve 3 problems from a book so frighteningly called Classical Electrodynamics just to complete the subject.

Solved the first two after a while, was confident with my answers, until i came across a wall. The king of the hill. The level boss. Problem 11.28.

I did everything that I could and eventually realized that the dragon was hovering above me, and there was nothing I could do to fly up there on my own. I had to borrow someone else’s wings. Certainly not one from my teacher, who was, although powerful, a mere mortal who cared less about his students than he did the chalk dust on the tip of his nose.

If I had to go up there and slay the dragon, I have to do so with the wings of an immortal who gave birth to this dragon with the sole purpose of unleashing hell as a manner of segregating the strong from the unprepared. I have to borrow the wings of Mr. John David Jackson.

Okay that was too dramatic. I just actually emailed the author and asked for help, but not expecting any reply nonetheless, at least a real one at that, since I was half-expecting that at best, a bot would reply with some sort of programmed message.

Okay so here was my message:

hello Mr. Jackson,

I need to solve problem 11.28 of your book Classical Electrodynamics Third Edition by the end of this week to complete my grade. Please help me! thanks

In letter a.) how do I transform r prime to R?

In letter b.) I don’t know how to start.

In letter c.) I solved this one already.

Thank you very much! Mabuhay!

Best Regards,

Neal Alfie Lasta
Iligan City, Philippines

You can sense that it was a half-hearted email, and that fact alone all the more contributed to my amazement and amusement when he came back with this message:

Dear Neal Lasta,
	It has been quite a few years sincei received a request for help with a
problem in homework, and with a deadline. Do you know the word, chutzpah
or hutzpah?
	I will give you a hint or two, provided you tell your instructor that
you got help from me by attaching this e-mail to your solution. Agreed?
  Part (a): Time and space oordinates transform in a certain way under
Lorentz transformations and so do the scalar and vector potentials. Use
those expressions and then specialize to first order in velocity.
Part (b): The Lorenz condition is stated in Chapter 6. Just calculate
the left-hand side and see whether you get zero.
Sincerely,
J. D. Jackson

Words from the maestro! And his hints really helped. To some extent at least. I still had a lot of work after borrowing his wings and eventually landing at the back of the dragon. Apparently, my sword was too blunt for dragon skin, as feather is to stone. But I was there, and I would chew at his back, slowly and surely, tickling it more than I was hurting it at first, but eventually wounding it open.

Sorry I had to bring back that melodramatic analogy again.

Sikat visits the Silahis.

Just trying out this upload feature of wordpress really. I’ve never posted a blog with a picture on it before, but i’ve always wanted to because..

if you do a word count in this blog article, you’d get, say x plus a thousand more words per picture. That’s definitely a bargain for blog space. If you don’t get it, think If by Bread (the Band).

Sikat is the second installment of DLSU’s extravagant hobby of making solar-powered cars. Now this car may be closer to the ground than conventional clunkers, and you may have seen it paraded on the streets of metro manila, running at the pace of snail mail, and assume that it runs slow on any given occasion.

But this savvy (J.Sparrow, 2003) car doesn’t have a low profile, and it’s made for speed. The former because coating the solar panels alone costs a million pesos, and the latter because it was designed to reduce aerodynamic drag and allow a light frame ( around 200kg) supported by three small wheels that are just enough to get a good hold of the ground and avoid unwanted skidding, to at least compete with other solar-powered cars around the world.

And compete they will, at the World Solar Car Challenge in Australia by 2011. I personally hope that it gets the same amount of the support we have for the Pacman, although that maybe a little farfetched for now. But who knows, maybe by 2011 he may no longer be the household name that he is right now, after he gets beat by the Pretty Boy…

(RUNS FOR COVER from the PACNUTS!)

P.S. can anybody lend me a hand at basic photography?