The longest Christmas

Christmas Light & Sound show at Ayala Gardens, Makati

 

“Where would you find the most Christmas spirit in the world? It’s hard to say for certain, but if a global competition were to be held, the Philippines would have an excellent shot at winning.

“The southeast Asian island nation has the world’s longest festive season — and pulls no punches in its celebratory zeal for the period, with lavish light displays, masses, and festivals held throughout the country from September until January.

“One of the most populous nations in Asia, the Philippines is an overwhelmingly Christian nation. Approximately 90% of Filipinos are Christian and 80% of those are Catholic, an influence gleaned from the country’s period as a Spanish colony from the sixteenth century until the end of the nineteenth.”

On CNN: The Philippines shows the world how to celebrate Christmas

Thirty-Two

“To begin with, for you to be here now trillions of drifting atoms had somehow to assemble in an intricate and intriguing obliging manner to create you. It’s an arrangement so specialized and particular that it has never been tried before and will only exist this once. For the next many years (we hope) these tiny particles will uncomplainingly engage in all the billions of deft, cooperative efforts necessary to keep you intact and let you experience the supremely agreeable but generally underappreciated state known as existence.

“Why atoms take this trouble is a bit of a puzzle. Being you is not a gratifying experience at the atomic leve. For all their devoted attention, your atoms don’t actuall care about you–indeed, don’t even know that you are there. They don’t even know that they are there. They are mindless particles, after all, and not even themselves alive…Yet somehow for the period of your existence they will answer to a single overarching impulse: to keep you you.

“The bad news is that atoms are fickle and their time of devotion is fleeting–fleeting indeed. Even a long human life adds up to only about 650,000 hours. And when that modest milestone flashes past, or at some other point thereabouts, for reasons unknown your atoms will shut you down, silently disassemble, and go off to beo ther things. And that’s it for you.

“Still, you may rejoice that it happens at all. Generally speaking in the universe it doesn’t, so far as we can tell. This is decidedly odd because the atoms that so liberally and congenially flock together to form living things on Earth are exactly the same atoms that decline to do it elsewhere. Whatever else it may be, at te level of chemistry life is curiously mundane: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen a little calcium, a dash of sulfur, a light dusting of other ordinary elements–nothing you wouldn’t find in any ordinary drugstore–and that’s all you need. The only thing special about the atoms that make you is that they make you. That is of course the miracle of life.”

—Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything. New York: Broadway Books, 2003.

Fifteen, Six, One

Roger Federer wins Wimbledon 2009

After 4.5 hours of harebrained tennis that topped the excitement of last year’s final, Roger Federer prevailed at 16-14 on the fifth set, denying Andy Roddick the Wimbledon title for the third time. Their previous championship battles were in 2005 and 2006.

Fifteen is also his sixth Wimbledon title, and it sets him up as World Number 1 in the ATP rankings this week after languishing in second for almost one year behind Rafael Nadal. It’s interesting to note that three months ago, he was behind the Spaniard by almost four thousand points and only ahead by 30-odd points of world number 3 Novak Djokovic; now let’s see how many more weeks he will hold the top spot, and if he will beat Pete’s record of 280 weeks at the top of the rankings.

Federer vs. Roddick Wimbledon 2009 Scoreboard
Did he fly in Sampras to the finals? I’m not sure, but had Roger lost, that would have been as heartbreaking as the last Australian Open results, where all five men who held five career grand slams were in attendance. Sampras and wife walked into the Royal box where Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg, and Henri Kissinger were already watching as the first set was progressing. Spotted somewhere else, Woody Allen.

Pete Sampras, Rod Laver, and Bjorn Borg on Centre Court Royal Box, Wimbledon 2009
Unlike in previous Wimbledon championships, the giddy GOAT did not collapse on the ground. No tears either, but only a victorious yell followed by several high leaps that made him look like a ballet dancer instead of a tennis player. I was almost disappointed to not see tears flow down the champion’s face, but I suppose he can also win and not cry.

Roger Federer's 15 Grand Slam Titles
What did I say? What did I say? I made the wrong bet, didn’t I? Oh Andy, thine had put up an awesome fight, but I had put my bets on thee. Record-wise, shouldn’t this put Roddick as second best on grass? His performance at Sw19 this year has been so much better than last year’s where he lost to Tipsarevic on the fourth round.

Today’s Facebook message: “so excited and thank you for the support!!! more to come soon…” Does he mean more grand slam titles to come soon, as the US Open starts in six weeks? Or are we getting more news from him, as his wife is about to give birth soon? Will it be a girl or a boy?

Thirty-one

birthday cupcake

Birthday cupcake by emma.c

I celebrated my birthday yesterday in almost the way I had lived each of the days in recent years: went to work, got in touch with friends, finished the day’s business in a not so fabulous fashion. I had a 12-hour workday, which began with a status meeting in the morning and ended with another meeting, paper work and an overseas call in the evening. In between were ten million emails, follow-ups, and cursing the ATMs at Cash and Carry for running out of cash and then debiting the amount that I was not able to withdraw from my account in the first place. And then there was the stupid mishap during merienda that proved for all time that I could not be a domestic diva.

I came up with two birthday wishes that popped right off the top of my head, like in a Freudian kind of wishing, except that the wishes were neither sexual nor violent (remarkably, not romantic). First wish was dashed even before the day ended. Bummer. Second one is still up in the clouds, but I won’t be holding my breath for it. It will happen when it happens, and I am at least thankful that the person who matters in making this come true is on my side.

Thanks to everyone who remembered. Catherine was beaten by Joy, and then Fulton, in the annual competition for who’s first to greet me happy birthday. Joy greeted me at 11PM on August 13. Fancy that, sister! Tina, you still owe me a kitteh. Morguers, thanks for the cake. Top prize goes to my mom for the drama.

UPDATE:

Nice…nice…nice greeting on Friendster from Club.net badminton club. They kinda know the stuff that interest me–books, badminton, food. Not sure about Jose Cuervo, as I had a bad episode with tequila last summer.

club.net greeting

This one is quite frustrating because there is no way right now for me to get the Sephora birthday gift. Merci, just the same. I registered last year for the store’s freebies, and every now and then, I get vouchers by e-mail. I just love this store. I had loads of fun trying their fantastic potions and colors last year with Mary and Keng. Je veux à nouveau rendre Sephora.

sephora bday freebie

UPDATE AGAIN:

First wish wasn’t dashed completely. It was granted in a slightly different form, but it still happened.