Thursday, 23 December 2010

Stories from my allapu

Allapu/allapo is a generic (kankanaey) term in the Philippine Cordillera meaning grandparent or ancestor.
Apu/apo is the same term in other ethnic groups and is also the spoken word in Mainit.

When I was a child living in the barrio, I used to look forward to visits from my apos. Not least because of the food items they always brought with them, and they would always bring the finest from their kitchen and from elsewhere, but also because of the pearls of wisdom and lessons from their stories and tales of sang-adum.

This tradition continued as we were growing up, through to starting school. But throughout the rest of primary school and high school years in the capital town of Bontoc, I always looked forward, during vacations and school breaks, to visiting my grandmother, and the many aunties and uncles and cousins in the village. (Mainit is a lazy 3-4 hour hike from Bontoc).

I remember one day, quite vividly, she was saying something ( i was never very attentive to my elders)-

“Aka kay ay apok ta jengrem
ta hamet se-semken:
Na makan ay ninling-etan, uray no ak-akitan, uray no hiya yanggay, maag chadlo inlami-is.
Ngem na makan ay inakeo, uray angsa-angsan, uray no kaman chinomno, inpait kayet.

My rough translation of these words:
"Come now child and hear what my apos used to say
And that you heed the words:
The food from your sweat is sweetest, no matter how little, no matter how simple or humble.
Yet though lavish or extravagant a banquet or feast that is thieved, 
is bland and bitter, and will make you sick."

Apo never went to school
but she is as wise as a biblical sage.

Let us heed these words as we partake of the fruits of our labor,
or share in stolen goods...

And know too that thieves may be lurking in an alley,
or lording it in high office...

Sunday, 12 December 2010

winter reading guide (for summer)

My, hasn't time flown! I thought my last blog was only a couple of days ago, but it’s been a couple of weeks. Well, whilst i think of something to do, so i can write a blog about it, here’s some more reading ideas to distract you. Oh and also some music. And don’t forget the DVDs. All good.



Nelson Mandela. Conversations with Myself. Mandela tells his story through his correspondences, journals, speeches, diaries and various drafts. He even mentions Luis Taruc's 'Born of the people' when he (Mandela) was training as a guerilla leader in Ethiopia.

Margaret Atwood. Curious Pursuits is non-fiction. And so is A Critical Companion. For her fiction check out below.

Paul Kelly. Makes some mean gravy, i mean music.

Brian Greene. The Fabric of the Cosmos (the dark-spined book in the pile) is the follow-up to The Elegant Universe. The book zeroes in on space and time, and reality. It is written with the general reader in mind. It has lots of interesting stuff to help understand the various concepts of cosmology and the universe.

Tony Blair writes his memoir in A Journey. It is honest and candid but he spends too much time defending the actions of his government especially on Iraq. There’s some porky pies in there too.

It is said that retired politicians are more concerned with keeping secrets than with telling them, as in Tony Blair above. This is quite true with Australia's John Howard. Lazarus rising. 'Lazarus' in the title is reference to his political cunning coming back from electoral defeat three times as opposition leader, to becoming the second-longest PM of Australia. He is a realist but very hardnosed to see where he got things wrong. He is always quick to take credit and to bask in glory, but reticent and slow to acknowledge responsibility for wrong decisions. He advised against his MPs indulging in hubris and arrogance, but that's exactly what led to him becoming the second sitting Australian Prime Minister, to lose his seat in an election duly won by Labor under Kevin Rudd.

In Confessions of a Faceless Man. AWU (Australian Workers' Union) head Paul Howes relates his role in the the fall of Kevin Rudd as Labor leader and PM.

Leaving Politics behind...

The Grand Design. Stephen Hawking (with Leonard Mlodinow) continues to seek answers for the questions that humans still don’t know, and presents the most recent scientific thinking about the mysteries of the universe.

More Good News. David Suzuki and Holly Dressel provide inspiring stories of real solutions to the problems besetting the planet. They write about the many people and organisations (and cooperatives) that promote and enact real green change everyday.

Sean Wilentz. How various events such as the assassination of President McKinley and McCarthyism, helped mold Bob Dylan in America and turn him into such a significant cultural and literary figure.


Luka and the fire of life. This book is for younger readers. It is more thrilling than a harry potter or the lord of the rings. It is also instructional in the sciences and is populated with delightful wordplay from the witty and great storyteller Salman Rushdie. Here’s a passage-
The big bang? Or some other bang i don’t know about? There was only one Bang, so the adjective big is redundant and meaningless. The Bang would only be Big if there was at least one other Little or Medium-Sized or even Bigger Bang to compare it with, and to differentiate it from.
I am now on the hunt for the previous book Haroun And The Sea Of Stories. How I missed this I don't really know.

Margaret Atwood is also in the pile with The year of the flood and The Blind Assassin.

And then there’s the latest of Lustbader’s continuation of Ludlum’s The Bourne (fill-in-the-blank). Christopher Hitchens in Hitch-22 relates an anecdote about a  gathering where he and Salman Rushdie, Martin Amis and others, played some game about book titles, naming the Bourne books with Ludlum as the Bard eg The Elsinore Vacillation (referencing Hamlet).

David Baldacci’s Deliver us From Evil is not a prayer book, but a filler.


Some older issues of Blitz, Uncut and Mojo. Featured artists include Kings of Leon, Dylan, Neil Young, Graham Nash, Nick Cave, and reviews of albums by Robert Plant, Clapton etc.

The latest issues of Uncut and Mojo feature Neil Young with 'Le Noise', and Dylan with the latest of 'The Bootleg Series (Vol 9)'. These magazines also have free CDs.

The Moonshine Sessions.
Easy Listening Hits.
Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band
Perfecting Sound. This is a 14-CD cd-book.


Some viewing over Christmas, if you’re somehow bored of watching Santa Claus movies.

Darwin’s Brave New World
Richard Dawkins presents The Genius of Charles Darwin.

And when you’ve gone through the lot, you can settle down again and enjoy the choice selections and relax to the Leonard Cohen tribute I’m Your Man soundtrack. Or maybe put on Mojo's CD on Dylan’s Greenwich Village scene in the 60s, while reading about it all in Sean Wilentz’s Bob Dylan in America.

Now, all that remains is to tell the 'new year' to take its time - that there's no rush in coming.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

summer reading guide (for winter)

It's Summer. Time to pull out a chair, find a shady spot, and read away the hot muggy days.

If only life was that simple.

One of the books in the pile is called 'the long thaw'. This may be so in the northern hemisphere, but i fear it's more the long slow roast, this season of the heat down under.

The thunderbolt kid. Bill Bryson. I’d rather read his other books. Such as-
Seeing Further: The Story of Science and the Royal Society. Bill Bryson (ed) has done a lot to bring the story of science to a popular audience. The list of authors here is impressive and eclectic: novelists such as Margaret Atwood; historians including James Gleick; and some of the most recognisable faces in modern British science: Richard Dawkins. These distinguished writers offer their take on the achievements of science.

In The Elegant Universe Brian Greene writes a book to explain in simple, non-mathematical terms what superstring theory is or what is known so far. It goes through the history of modern physics and cosmology, and comes highly recommended to anyone who has ever gazed at the heavens and wondered. Just don't expect to read it in a weekend. (What’s ‘superstring’? I thought it was a kind of shoe lace that does not come loose while running. But you learn something new everyday).

In The Long Thaw, David Archer, one of the world's leading climatologists, shows how, burning our planet's carbon, impacts on our climate for millennia. Archer argues that it is not too late to avert dangerous climate change--if humans can find a way to cooperate as never before.

On its release in 2007, Mark Bowen’s Censoring Science caused a bit of a stir. The book is about the gagging of NASA climate scientist James Hansen and his foiled attempts to warn the public about the dangers of global warming. It exposes the U.S. government’s resistance to adopt meaningful environmental policy. This book is a must-read for environmentally and politically conscientious readers. To date Hansen despairs that no real progress is being made on global warming.

Eaarth. Bill McKibben has spearheaded a global campaign to put the latest science at the heart of the global talks on climate change. He proposes 'maintenance' over 'growth' or 'expansion' as a guiding principle, but is not optimistic of the role of government in an economically broke, climate-changed world. McKibben’s solutions are mainly community-based and focused on meeting our top-line needs: food and energy; and small, smart, labour-intensive natural systems.

Eureka!: Scientific Breakthroughs That Changed the World. In this collection of twelve scientific stories, Leslie Horvitz describes the drama of sudden insight as experienced by twelve great minds, from Darwin, Einstein, the team of Watson and Crick, and to lesser known luminaries.

Rainbow Pie: A Redneck Memoir. Joe Bageant is a commentator on the politics of class in America. He reminds that everything exists within a wider political context and his memoir is peppered with monologues on the politics of class, economics and religion in his beloved USA. Rainbow Pie is a social history of a class of America, a testimonial to how America has lost its way. He is not subtle in his harangue of corporate America. This follows his 2007 book, Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War.

The Age of the Warrior. Robert Fisk is probably the most celebrated foreign correspondent in Britain, and rightly so. This selection of his journalism finds him at full throttle against a host of familiar deserving targets: Bush, Blair, the Iraq war, Western policy towards the Middle East. Fisk's pessimism is not even tempered when he regards his own colleagues. Fisk is accused of going over the top in his indignation. This book has 500 pages of truthful scorn. If only there was more journos like him.

Curious Pursuits. Margaret Atwood is my latest favorite writer. She said:
          "You learn to write by reading and writing, writing and reading."
This selection of reviews, speeches, essays and obituaries - dating from 1970 to 2005 is a joy to read. In some ways this book is a sketch of the writer's life and foregrounds. She was also a dedicated and voracious reader, finding shelves of classics in the family cellar and freely working her way through them. Atwood explains that if she doesn't like a book she doesn't review it. I wish i could do the same.

True Blue. David Baldacci’s books have worn out their welcome.

The Essential Dixie Chicks. ‘Mississippi’ did not make the cut, but ‘Not ready to make nice’ did.

1001 songs you must hear before you die. The editor says it himself: "preferences can be hopelessly subjective". I agree with maybe 10.01% of the songs here. Or is that 1.001%? I was never good at music, let alone Maths.

How To Make Gravy. Paul Kelly. The Bob Dylan of Australia writes the stories about his songs and his music. Kelly muses about the places, characters and musicians that inspired him.

Our Kind of Traitor. John le Carre. An English couple on holidays in the Caribbean meets a Russian millionaire who is fanatical about tennis. The Russian has a hidden agenda which becomes apparent to the lovers. Another enjoyable thriller about espionage that le Carre has been producing since the 1960s.

Downunder: Live In Australia is a live album by Scottish folk musician Bert Jansch. The concert was recorded over two nights at the Continental Café in Melbourne.

Wellsprings. Mario Vargas Llosa. The 2010 nobel prize winner writes about his inspirations.

Solar. Ian McEwan. A novel about when human frailty contends with the times.

The Reversal. Michael Connelly. The DA of The Lincoln Lawyer and The Brass Verdict teams up with his detective half-brother, and ex-wife, to prosecute the retrial of a child murder. My patience has about ran out with Connelly.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

running on empty - the 2010 mt coot-tha mousdash

14th November. The roads are wet. Puddles of water reflect the brightening morn at daybreak. But the overnight showers have ceased for now. As I drove down the streets of Brisbane, I spied the tv towers on the taylor range in the horizon. I was travelling early to Mt Coot-tha to find a parking spot before they closed the roads.

The name Coot-tha derives from the local Aboriginal term 'ku-ta' meaning honey. Of course kuta is a Filipino word for ‘fort’. It is also a word in Indonesia and Europe. And there is a place up a steep mountain cutting deep in the ‘mountain trail’, between Abatan and Sinto, near the boundary of Benguet and Mountain Province. This is called kut-kuta-so, a place notorious for erosion and landslides, especially during the rainy season. After decades of observing numerous funding and substandard construction works literally going down the drain in kut-kuta-so, I take the term to mean ‘unscrupulous scratching dogs’ or ‘rabid dogs’. I think I’ll leave the etymology of Kuta there.
But why Kuta? Well i happened to be in Brisbane on a work assignment. Last weekend I was checking out the lists of sights and things to do in Brisbane. And Kuta was listed in both. So i thought it’s about time i checked out the spot again.
And I was running on empty, but i thought i'd join one more run for the year.

On a sidestreet on a ridge i turned off, then explored a bit before finding a steeply sloping road opposite a quarry site next to the Kuta botanic gardens. There was ample space for parking. I pulled up and parked on a grassy verge. The trees looked greener after the recent showers. As i leave the car it starts to drizzle. I hurried across to the gardens at the foot of Mount Coot-tha. The beautiful gardens is a popular spot, home to many community events and festivals. We used to come here for sightseeing and walks to admire the flora and such activities.

My kids enjoyed feeding ducks, ibises and other birds and wildlife that make their home here. The japanese gardens is one of the better attractions.

Situated within the gardens adjacent to the carpark is the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium. You can take a trip around the milky way galaxy right here in the planetarium.

We also visited this place once or twice in the past. The Queensland Herbarium is also found in the Brisbane Botanic Gardens.
My kids are older now and i didn’t come here for a picnic.

I came for the second running of the Mousdash - a 10.5 km run up and down Mt Kuta. The 2010 Mt Coot-tha mousdash is the final scheduled race in the 2010 running calendar.

Before the race I checked out Nova. She didn’t take any notice of me. She wasn't super and she wasn't even a star. I didn't take any notice of her too. But of course I noticed many other beautiful sights.

The gents hogged the startline, so i made my way to the back for a change of scenery.

I stretched a bit telling myself to save energy for the big climb ahead.

The first 2.5 to 3km section of the run is the hardest. It is all uphill, with an average gradient of just under 10% and a gain in elevation of about 210m. This uphill section is like jogging up to the lookout hut near Chata in Pagturao in Bontoc. There is one good thing with the ascent up a mountain. It is great for viewing. And on the road to Kuta you can view most of Brisbane. On New Year’s eve, people come up to these slopes to watch the fireworks. Kuta was once known as 'one tree hill'. It is a natural bushland reserve and non-residential area. On the southern hill is the fabulous Kuta Lookout, offering spectacular panoramic views of the city, Glasshouse Mountains, D'Aguilar Range and Moreton Bay for visitors in the day time. But nighttime on Kuta is a memorable magical experience when you see Brisbane defined by lights rather than by landscape. Lovers spend hours on the lawns enjoying the scene.

I could smell the bitumen start to heat up and interrupting my thoughts of reclining on the grass. The chatter and small talk around me have suddenly changed to heavy breathing. Many of the younger runners have gone past.

The next section (3km to 6.5km) is up and down the rolling ridges under the eucalypts. I saw a koala clambering up the blind side of a gum tree. Now there's a sight you don't see everyday. My mouth has dried up. There is little or no breeze, but thankfully the air cooled down by the drizzles has not yet warmed. Along the ridges of Mt Kuta we go past the tall transmitter towers for the various television stations. The towers are visible for miles around. We pass some picnic grounds. Grey gum picnic park is popular for picnickers and walkers. The Mt Coot-tha – Simpson Falls circuit starts from the Grey Gum car park along the main ridge. The Bibak group of Queensland had an encounter with the locals here before (see side trips).
The adventurous members also checked out the walk which has a bit of everything – views, up and down the paths of nature’s home among the gum trees, wildflowers, gullies, creeks and a waterfall on a rock-face.

The third section (6.5km to 8.5km) is all downhill. We met some hikers, bikers, cyclists, a couple of walkers, and the odd car with a police escort. Running downhill means hard jarring on the feet. There is also the risk of falling on the still damp surface. So i took it easy. (What a handy excuse for a slow one).

At last we get to the foot of mt kuta at a road tee-junction off Simpson falls. From here you can head out to one of the many bushwalking tracks in the area.
The final 2km section is mostly flat, with one last little climb. The support crew at the drinks station at JC Slaughter Falls carpark (about 1km from the finish) cheer us on. Soon we merge with some of the 5km walkers. I wobbled as i sped up, from a walk to a jog, over the final 500m downhill stretch.
I had no idea of my time. I set my stopwatch at the start line but when i checked it after i crossed the finish line, i saw that it had broken down. The official race clock had broken down too. I think my time's slower than last year's. Am a year older so...:-).

I'm spent. Take bib off. Couple of slices of watermelon. Water and energy drinks. Head home. Back to the rat race.
looking out at the road rushing under my heels
running on...
but i'm running behind
now the streets are all empty
let the road rage take the stage...
listen to: jackson browne

My previous attempts at mt coot-tha:

Monday, 15 November 2010

cool night classic 2010

When hot northerlies blow near
November’s here.
As the mercury climbs high
Christmas is nigh.

The glut of rains in warm spring
Did tempt the tempest's temper.
The tides they are a-warning
Beware the times of summer.

It is not hot yet, tho it’s getting there. you're not a poet, ah never ever.
okay i'll run some more garud et. to slimmer my powet. arrghh.

To see off the running season, i signed up for a couple more runs. One is called the cool night classic, now in its 16th year. The course is on familiar rounds.
Along the Brisbane river and through the botanic gardens. Yeah old stomping grounds.
The run was on a working day Thursday. I wasn’t too tired. But with the pressures of work, you can use up more energy in the office, than toiling in hard physical labor. And I was worried about making it to Brisbane in time.

In the evening i strolled across the victoria bridge to the north bank of the Brisbane River in the CBD. I tracked the pathways and the byways.  I loitered under the bridges and freeways. In a few minutes these paths will be swarming with runners.

The cool waft of the river breeze guides my recons. I hear the rumble of car wheels on the bridges above as dusk beckons.
I come out to the QUT’s forecourts, and see the assembling hordes.

I proceed to the river stage to check out the start line. Powderfinger were just here this last weekend.

That's 'M block' of the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) campus here at Gardens Point.

Soon the grounds of the riverstage fill up with thousands of runners and walkers.

I join in the warm up session. We limber up for a few minutes. Then we make our way to the start line. We nodded along pretending to listen as the lord mayor was making a speech. Come along Campbell, Join in the run instead. And do heed what the experts are saying at the 'City of the Future' conference. It's not all about freeways (and tunnels). How about more walkways and bikeways? and no more runways too. Maybe some jogways eh?

Case in point: The footpaths of the botanic gardens are sufficiently wide for park users, but just a little too narrow for eager runners. "Mr Newman" I said. "We need more pathways." Oh did I really say that?
I think i saw the lord mayor look my way, then he pulled out and pointed a gun. I quickly pushed my way into the middle of the throng so i didn't see him point the gun up to the sky. At the sound of gunshot, I ran off thinking the lord mayor's a-hunting for me. The other runners were off and running too. Jogging and walking really, the paths aren't wide enough to overtake.
Apparently Campbell fired in the air to start the race. Oh was that what that was? What's wrong with Ready, Set, Go!?

Many of the plants and flowers lining the loop of pathways from the start line to the goodwill bridge were trampled as runners overtook each other.

On to the bridge i joined the heavy-breathing fray. Soon we came to the riverwalks in southbank. Upstream we jostled each other on the tight inclines of the ramp up to victoria bridge. Then on the bridge we negotiated the footpaths with people making their way home from work. Commuters in the buses and cars caught in the busy peak hour traffic stared at us. Some cheered, waved, urged us on. Some were probably hoping they were running with us.

I said before there is such a high in running. This exhilarating feeling is unique and you only experience it while running, or more like after a run. That’s why runners love to run. It's better than - uhm, what's that f-word that rhymes with secs? I got it.
Running's better than frolicking.

We meet more people going home. Many are walking. Some on their bikes. Sometimes you’re breathing so heavily you can’t acknowledge them. But you just gesture with a wave and keep going. It is always good to smile and nod at people, even when panting and labouring up the hill.

At the finish line, after we crossed, we had to keep moving along lest we get crushed by the mass of runners behind us. So quickly I took off my timing chip, and looked around for the water stands.

Another month, another run. Not my best effort. But there’s always next time. I should make a bet with the lord mayor in 2011. But i hear he's a mean runner. Maybe i'll hide behind Anna Bligh's skirt. She could abolish the City Council. Or sell off city hall. he he. But even Anna can run faster than me. I better shut up. Am just lucky am not from around here. Else i'd be in strife.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

mo'vember books of the month

Some notes (mostly cut 'n paste) on some books and some other stuff.

Richard Feynman: A life in science, by Mary and John Gribbin, is a book about one of the important physicists of the 20th century. Feynman himself wrote or related stories about his personal experiences and adventures in the humorous auto-biographical books Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! and What Do You Care What Other People Think? (with Ralph Leighton). This biography by the Gribbins is an excellent companion book to the other two, capturing Feynman's life and also discusses some of his physics.

Paul Krugman. The conscience of a liberal. A brilliant history of the rise and fall of middle class America.

In Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War, Joe Bageant offers an enlightening, humorous, sad, and often scary look at the rural white working class. The key difference between Bageant and “his people” is that he left and got an education. Access to quality education apparently liberalizes society. Indeed knowledge liberates the mind.

A life in letters. George Orwell, despite his commitment to intellectual honesty, was a habitual self-mythologist. This is a choice volume for readers wanting a vivid self-portrait of the man behind Nineteen Eighty-Four, Animal farm and other classics.

James Hansen Storms of My Grandchildren This is a whistle-blower's account, of how political systems are so willfully and deliberately blind to environmental realities that we have now no choice but to take direct physical action against the polluters. Hansen explains the basic science that the burning of oil and coal is emitting so many warming gases into the atmosphere that we are now at the point of triggering a series of catastrophes we won't be able to stop. He has advised that if the leaders weren't going to act:
"they should spend a small amount of time composing a letter to be left for future generations. The letter should explain that the leaders realized their failure would cause our descendants to inherit a planet with a warming ocean, disintegrating ice sheets, rising sea level, increasing climate extremes, and vanishing species, but it would have been too much trouble to oppose business interests who insisted on burning every last bit of fossil fuels. By composing this letter, the leaders will at least achieve an accurate view of their place in history."

Editors James Gleick and Jesse Cohen have selected 19 choice eclectic pieces for The Best American Science Writing 2000, resulting in this engrossing enjoyable volume with something for nearly every reader. The scope of topics is broad: a stellar collection of accessible scientific papers, science-related essays and prose about evolutionary biology, medicine, paleoanthropology, particle physics and more.  

Kasey Chambers Poppa Bill and the Little Hillbillies is an album made up of 16 of family friendly songs recorded by Kasey and Bill Chambers and the Chambers family.

Valleys of Neptune — a collection of more-or-less previously unreleased tracks recorded with the Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1969.

Bryan Ferry. Dylanesque. There is nothing here to rave about or as potent as his 1973 cover of "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall." Ferry’s choice of the usual covers rather than the less obvious cuts is the main gripe here, but this just highlights once again Dylan's class-above-the-rest as a songwriter.

 Jamie Buchanan. As Easy as Pi. In this book you’ll find what makes "seventh heaven" and "cloud nine" so blissful and the number 13 so unlucky. Or why "fourth-dimensional" thinking is really out of this world.

 John Brockman (ed). This will change everything. "What game-changing scientific ideas and developments do you expect to live to see?" This is the question John Brockman, publisher of, posed to more than 100 of the world's most influential minds. Read the thoughts of: Ian McEwan, Frank Wilczek, Brian Eno, Alan Alda, Jared Diamond, Richard Dawkins, Lisa Randall, etal.

The economist. Style guide. This new edition of the best-selling guide to style is based on "The Economist"'s updated house style manual, and is an invaluable companion for everyone who wants to communicate with clarity, style and precision.

Philip Roth's latest book, The Humbling, is his third in as many years and he apparently has already completed another. Defying the concept of retirement, Roth is speeding up instead of slowing down with age.

Lustbader. Ludlum’s the Bourne objective.

Mungo MacCallum. Quarterly essay - In Australian Story, Mungo MacCallum investigates the political success of Kevin Rudd. The book argues that Rudd overlooked the concerns of Australia’s very fickle swing voters, that his predecessor Howard chose to ignore in his final term. To their regret, the conservatives kept Howard as PM for too long, but alas for Rudd, Labor panicked and subsequently chose Julia Gillard to lead them into the next election.

David Marr. Quarterly essay - Power Trip shows the making of Kevin Rudd, prime minister. In Rudd’s formative years in governance, Marr found recurring patterns: a tendency to chaos, a mania for control and a strange mix of heady ambition and retreat. Marr sought to discover what makes an extraordinarily driven man tick, and duly finds that what led to Rudd’s rise also causes his subsequent swift fall.

Backstage Politics. Phillip Adams has been close to governments of various persuasions for over fifty years and has built up an unparalleled collection of anecdotes about Australian political and cultural leaders. Backstage Politics is a funny, insightful and revealing journey through the Australian political landscape.

Tim Flannery is a distinguished biologist, environmentalist and global warming activist. He has made significant contributions to our understanding of the unique biota of Australia and New Zealand. This is a very good book exploring evolution and sustainability. Here on Earth is not just a dazzling account of life on our planet; it will change the way you live. Jared Diamond and Bill Bryson (among others) endorsed this book.

In An Explorer's Notebook is a selection of essays and articles written over a period of twenty-five years. Tim Flannery, the Australian of the Year (2007), writes about the challenges of the climate crisis that is now upon us. This traces his evolution from the young scientist doing fieldwork in remote locations to the major thinker about climate and global warming.

Alistair Wisker. TS Eliot a beginner’s guide. The Complete Poems and Plays of TS Eliot.

Sean Wilentz. The age of Reagan. Strange that Wilentz, a professor of history at Princeton University, would write about Ronald Reagan as the historic alpha dog of postmodern American politics. In 1998, Wilentz testified that the impeachment of Bill Clinton was an abomination. He also endorsed Al Gore in 2000 and Hillary Clinton in 2008.

The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln. Sean Wilentz traces the checkered history of American democracy from the Revolution to the Civil War.

I enjoy reading Wilentz's writings on music and shorter articles and columns, more than his books on history, but i can't wait to read his latest book (on Bob Dylan).

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

dissertations and theses on the philippine cordillera

A website - dissertation express (UMI Dissertation Publishing) - publishes original research of current and former students.

Below are some titles of dissertations and theses on the philippine cordillera listed in the above UMI site. This is part of an intermittent blog series attempting to document various written resources made available through the internet.
documents on the cordillera

• A feasibility study of using Landsat MSS data to map tropical rice fields in Ifugao, Philippines by Woo, David Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara, 1991

• A study of the analysis of attitudes of ministry among the poor and impoverished among seminarians enrolled in Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary Baguio, Philippines by Knight, Michael Scott Ph.D., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2009
• A STUDY OF TINGUIAN FOLK-LORE by COLE, FAY COOPER Ph.D., Columbia University, 1915

• American business in the Philippines: The sociocultural impact of Benguet Corporation by Ramos, Patria Pilosas Ph.D., University of Hawai'i, 1988

• An analysis of household wealth correlates in a Kalinga village by Trostel, Brian David M.A., The University of Arizona, 1989

• An analytical study of the relationship between the religious orientation of faith of ten-, eleven-, and twelve-year-old children and the faith maturity of parents in Baguio Benguet Baptist Churches Association, Baguio City, Philippines by Firmantes, Lizette Nombres Ph.D., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2000,



• Causal thinking in the prayer practices of traditional and Christian spiritual leaders of the Kankanaey (Philippines) by Gossman, Paul Ph.D., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, 1996,

• Ceramic deposition and midden formation in Kalinga, Philippines by Beck, Margaret Elizabeth Ph.D., The University of Arizona, 2003,

• Christian missions in the American empire: Episcopalians in northern Luzon, the Philippines, 1902--1946 by Jones, Arun Wayne Ph.D., Princeton Theological Seminary, 2001

• Crossover, continuity and change: Women's production and marketing of crafts in the upland Philippines by Milgram, Barbara Lynne Ph.D., York University (Canada), 1997,


• Essays on decision making in rural households : a study of three villages in the Cordillera region of the Philippines by Crisologo-Mendoza, Lorelei Dr., Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium), 1997,


• Fantasy realized: The Philippines, Orientalism, and imperialism in turn-of-the-century American visual culture by Brody, David Eric Ph.D., Boston University, 1997



• Globalization and health knowledges in the Philippines: Tuberculosis and the infectious other by Ladia, Mary Ann J. Ph.D., Michigan State University, 2008

• Gold from the gods: Traditional small-scale miners from Benguet Province, Philippines by Caballero, Evelyn Jadormio Ph.D., University of Hawai'i, 1992,

• Health, illness, and culture in a Philippine community: The social and cultural construction of clinical reality among the Kankana-ey speaking Igorots of Bauko, Bila, and Otukan by Gaioni, Dominic Togni Ph.D., University of California, Riverside, 1994

• Imagining Igorots: Performing ethnic and gender identities on the Philippine Cordillera Central by McKay, Deirdre Christian Ph.D., The University of British Columbia (Canada), 1999

• Malnutrition, gender, and development in Ifugao, an upland community in the Philippines by Kwiatkowski, Lynn Mary Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley with San Francisco State University, 1994,

• 'Mansida' in Buguias: Economic, ecological, and ideological transformations in the Philippine Cordillera by Lewis, Martin Wayne Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 1987,



• Pottery economics: A Kalinga ethnoarchaeological study by Stark, Miriam Thelma Ph.D., The University of Arizona, 1993,

• Railroads and regional development in the Philippines: Views from the colonial iron horse, 1875-1935 by Corpuz, Arturo Garcia Ph.D., Cornell University, 1989, 335 pages; AAT 8924604

• Regional consciousness and administrative grids: Understanding the role of planning in the Philippine's Gran Cordillera Central. (Volumes I and II) by Finin, Gerard Anthony Ph.D., Cornell University, 1991


• The archaeology of the Ifugao agricultural terraces: Antiquity and social organization by Acabado, Stephen B. Ph.D., University of Hawai'i at Manoa, 2010,

• The ethnoarchaeology of Kalinga basketry: When men weave baskets and women make pots by Silvestre, Ramon Eriberto Jader Ph.D., The University of Arizona, 2000,

• The experience of crowdedness in a Philippine mining community by Alabanza, Mary Anne Enriquez Ph.D., Michigan State University, 1991,

• The Gawad Kalinga Project: Re-creating the subject of poverty by Coloma-Moya, Nel M.A., York University (Canada), 2010,

• The human endeavor of intentional communities: The Gawad Kalinga movement by Villanueva, Ronald Hector A. Ph.D., The University of Arizona, 2010,

• The Kalinga bodong: An ethnographic moment in legal anthropology by Benedito, Roberto Medina Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo, 1994,




• Toward a contextualized practice of the Tengao custom of the Bontoc of Mountain Province, Philippines by Romack, Jeffrey Paul M.A., Fuller Theological Seminary, School of World Mission, 1991

• Transformations of gender, tenure and forest in Ifugao by McKay, Deirdre Christian M.E.S., Dalhousie University (Canada), 1993,

• Traversing boundaries: A situated music approach to the study of day-eng performance among the Kankana-ey of northern Philippines by de la Pena, LaVerne David Carmen Ph.D., University of Hawai'i at Manoa, 2000,

This is an update of the list posted in the Igorot e-group 'bibaknets' a few years back, by a kailian (my kayong) from Mainit.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

I went chasing skirts one evening

On a rainy day in early October I happened to be in the office twiddling my thumb. And while I was surfing the internet and pretending to work, an email message popped up saying: Get Ready Australia!
With the amount of spam mail going around, I clicked to delete the message but my mouse slipped and instead opened the message. (Yep, I blame this skirt chasing on my mouse).
The email piqued my interest as I read about some skirt chasing event. I was getting excited until it said something about a race series – a running event.

Well to cut the story short, gullible me signed up for the Brisbane leg of the Skirt Chaser 5k Race Series. The venue was at the Brisbane Botanic Gardens. Now that sounded like a familiar place. I searched my memory. Then I remembered that I had run there before in the Brisbane running festival.

The email linked to some blurb describing the skirt chaser as-

an experience unlike any race you’ve run. This innovative event puts a flirty spin on a running classic by mixing running and fun in an innovative social fitness event. The Skirt Chaser 5k is a 5km run within the City Botanic Gardens.
On race day I lazed for a bit, skipped on my chores thinking there’s always a mañana. Ahh procrastination, it comes as a thief in the daytime. I drove up to South Brisbane, found a park near the convention centre, and then trudged along the Brisbane river at the parklands.
There’s some worthy attractions along the riverwalk of southbank. From the Grey Street bridge going south and east are: Kurilpa bridge, gallery of modern art (GOMA), Qld state library, Qld museum, Qld cultural centre, Qld performing arts complex (QPAC), thence the parklands attractions – ferris wheel, Qld conservatorium of music, southbank piazza, boat harbour, beach, numerous cafes and food outlets, park amenities, the arbour walk, formal gardens, maritime museum etc. Walking along these places shortens the distance and suddenly I found myself at the foot of the Goodwill bridge about a kilometre down from Grey street bridge.

Grey skies aided the onset of evening as i strolled along the Goodwill bridge overlooking the CBD.

I could see Qld univ of tech (QUT), the parliament house, and a few other of the Brisbane highrise as the dark clouds loomed ominously. I got caught up with sight-seeing when i glanced at my watch which read 4:50pm. I hastened along for the race start.

I got there after negotiating the maze of QUT - the wayfinding map looked like alien script to me.

The girls were about to start as I quickly pinned my race bib and then joined the back of the chasing pack – the skirt chasers group. I was quite certain it was all male.

The ladies scooted off at the gun. And then the males followed 3 minutes later. The starter gun sounded like thunder, or maybe it was thunder I heard, because just two minutes into the race, the first rains of Spring (in the southern hemisphere) tumbled down on that October eve.

The rain didn’t bother me at all. I was running in the rain and loving it – brings back memories from childhood. If only the shoes weren’t so sloshy.
Well we did two laps through and around the beautiful botanic gardens. I managed to catch and pass a few of the ladies.
The single girls had a sticker on the rear of their skirt. This tells that they are single and that the males could flirt. But alas none of the ladies I caught had a sticker on them. I was too slow! The story of my life really.

Hello Jessica. Jessica (from work) was shackled to her running partner.
But hey I beat her.

I took a couple of happy snaps then retraced my steps back to my car as the night fell.

I wrote this blog as October ended. It was a rainy month, and a bit quiet on the running front. But i did do one race. The Skirt Sports Skirt Chaser 5k Race Series. It was held on 2nd October 2010. It now seems like months ago.