Friday, February 20, 2009

Flickr Is Being Really Lame


I have moved my blog over to but Flickr is still "pointing" users over to this dead site.

Please go to the all-new blog at

See you there!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Big Reveal -

I've been thinking about moving this blog for the longest time, from Blogger to Wordpress. Blogger's been good to me for the past year, and I have learned so much about operating a website. This coming from a person who didn't have a clue on how to sign up for a blog, let alone add sidebar items and linking. And don't even get me started on RSS feeds.

Even though Blogger and I have become close, I've always felt there was something missing. I don't like that Blogger has this crappy "About Me" section that I can't change (well, I could but it would take some investigating on my part that could take WEEKS), and I've never been a fan of the way the page is formatted. While we're on the subject, can we talk about theme choices (or lack thereof)? While I do like the pink and gray I think it's time to move on to something different.

With all this in mind, I finally made the switch last night. And it looks good - check it out for yourself. Beginning today, future posts will be at (That's right I bought my domain name too!) This will automatically redirect you to my new Wordpress site.

I love the new digs but it's still a work in progress. I've imported most of my old entries from Blogger but ended up having to delete a few due to formatting issues. Because of that I am keeping this old site for archive purposes (not that I expect y'all to read all my archives or anything, but you know, just in case you were curious about how this all came together and how horrible my first posts were). I still have to figure out how to replicate some of the features that I like here at Blogger ("Picture of the Day") and write a brand-new "About Me" page that doesn't suck.

See you on the brand-new Speedy Canizales!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Suffering from a Case of Delayed Trip Gratification

I’ve been back almost a month now. I’ve been holding off the itch to travel by reminiscing about my time in the Philippines, and now that I’m finally done with that exercise I fear that the itch is coming back.

Rene thinks I suffer from Delayed Trip Gratification (DTG) when it comes to traveling abroad. It doesn’t happen all the time but it does hit me now and again. DTG is when you are in a foreign place and all you can do that moment, that afternoon, that day is whine about something silly: how hot (or cold) it is, how it ruined your day that [blank] wasn’t being served for lunch, how rude that waiter was, how obnoxious all the tourists are (except you, hee), how you have to wait so long to get from point A to point B, yada yada the list goes on. Does that sound like something you do? Then after you get home all you can tell your family and friends is how wonderful that trip was, how you’d love to visit again, how the sights were marvelous, and how you wish you were still there. It’s almost downright schizophrenic, really, to switch from Whiny Wendy to Thankful Tammy once you get home. Then you regret letting all those petty worries take over you and beat yourself for not living in the moment. This has happened to me more than once.

All I can remember about my trips are the good times, and the bad times are either forgotten or romanticized. For example, Rene and I once took a boat launch from a small Australian town called Gladstone to Heron Island (in the Great Barrier Reef). That launch was rough – practically all of the passengers were out in the deck throwing up and praying for land. I took Dramamine an hour before and was doing fine; Rene, however, “wanted some air” (read: was feeling seasick) so we ended up hanging out in the rear deck, breathing in the acrid smell of vomit for a solid hour and a half. Now we affectionately call that vessel “the Barf Boat” and find it amusing that everyone was hanging off the side rail with a deathly green pallor.

I suppose DTG is better than the alternative – remembering only things that went wrong on the trip. Because honestly, who doesn’t want to cherish their travel memories, no matter how imperfect?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Pearl of the Orient

On my second-to-the-last day in the Philippines I scheduled a tour with the great Carlos Celdran of Celdran Tours. (If you are planning to visit Manila in the future, I highly recommend bookmarking his website.) His tours are among the best I’ve ever taken, and that says a lot coming from a person that LOVES tours, particularly walking tours and bike tours.

His tour, entitled Living La Vida Imelda! is an “architectural tour of the Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex as seen through the life and aspirations of Imelda Romualdez Marcos.” I was intrigued with the juxtaposition of architecture and Philippine history, not to mention the woman herself. Who could forget Imelda and her 3,000 pairs of shoes? This was the woman who famously said, after her family was exiled from the country, “They went into my closets looking for skeletons, but thank God, all they found were shoes, beautiful shoes.”

I’ve been intrigued by Imelda ever since I visited Malacanang Palace in the late 1980s. Malacanang Palace is the Philippine equivalent of the White House, and for a time it was open to the public for tours. I remember going with my mom, wearing my brand new white peep toe shoes, feeling sophisticated and grown up. I was astonished by the fact that a woman could own THAT MANY pairs of shoes (and with labels like Chanel, Ferragamo, Givenchy and Dior! A girl can only dream of owning such precious jewels!), and a light bulb went off in my head. I’ve never looked at shoes the same way again. Currently, my closet is home to about 30-something pairs of fine-looking shoes, shoes that I adore and treasure.

The Cultural Center of the Philippines (or CCP) is located in Manila, and opened its doors in 1969 to promote and preserve Filipino arts and culture. It opening was attended by then-California Senator Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy, and has showcased the Bolshoi, Kirov, Royal Danish ballets, as well as contemporary American, French, German and Philippine companies. In its heyday, luminaries such as Marta Graham and Rudolph Nureyev posed alongside the former First Lady onstage.

It’s hard to imagine that such a promising young couple, Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, would go down in history as one of the most corrupt leaders in the free world. In the beginning, the Marcoses were branded as the Philippines’ version of John and Jackie Kennedy. During his first term, Marcos made substantial land reforms, developed infrastructure, improved health care, and boosted the economy, leading others to see the Philippines as a country on the rise. Sadly, along with these improvements came human rights abuses, rampant corruption and embezzlement, and voter fraud. Marcos was finally thrown out as a result of the People Power Movement. I remember my parents participating in the and wearing lots of yellow at that time, the color of the movement. Marcos and his family were exiled to Hawaii in 1986, where he died three years later. The saddest part about Marcos, in many people’s eyes, was the great president he could have become.

In a way it was fitting that I ended my vacation with a tour like this. It reminded me of my heritage, my history, and how great this country was, is, and can become. Despite its many faults, it’s hard not to love your homeland, a country with unshakeable spirit and an abundance of natural beauty. I plan to visit again in the future, and have already created a list of must-see places that I didn’t experience this time around:

Mt. Mayon: This is one of the most photographed sights in the Philippines. In the shape of a perfect cylindrical cone, Mt. Mayon is one of the world’s most active volcanoes, erupting 14 times since 1900.

Banaue Rice Terraces: Natural landmark created by the Ifugao tribes nearly 2,000 years ago. The tribe created a sophisticated irrigation system using bamboo tubes and mud channels to bring water to the terraces. Growing up I thought it really was the eight wonder of the world, not realizing how subjective and oft-used the title is when it comes to landmarks.

Vigan: a Unesco World Heritage site since 1999, this city is an example of a Spanish colonial town with its cobblestone street, Spanish-era mansions and horse-drawn carriages. This city was spared from American carpet bombing during WWII when the Japanese fled the city.

Palawan: a true diver’s paradise, Palawan boasts some of the best wreck diving in the world at Coron Island and some of the most stunning marine seascapes at the Bacuit Archipelago. There’s also a subterranean river at Puerto Princesa that can make you feel like you are journeying to the center of the earth.

Apo Reef: one of the largest coral concentrations in the world, the crystal-clear waters of Apo Reef is home to diverse species of coral and underwater wildlife such as hammerhead sharks, turtles, and manta rays.

Donsol: once a sleepy fishing village, Donsol is the place to go if you want to snorkel alongside whale sharks. Supposedly you can see as many as 15 of these gentle giants during the peak months of February to May. The only catch? You have to be a decent snorkeller and in relatively good shape to keep up with the sharks.

Boracay: the one-stop shop for a beach vacation in the Philippines, where you can indulge in everything from relaxing spas and white-sand beaches to sports like windsurfing and diving. There are also many dining options, and there are many local clubs to spice up the nights.


This is my last post about my trip to the Philippines. I hope you enjoyed hearing about my experiences and learned something along the way.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Having a Gay Old Time

A week after I arrived in the Philippines my dad’s friends from high school took me and my mom to a comedy club called Laffline. Unlike most comedy clubs here in the US (except maybe some in San Francisco or West Hollywood) all of the comedians are gay Filipino men. Actually, let me re-phrase that: FLAMBOYANT gay Filipino men.

Their “look” ranged from someone you could mistake as a beautiful woman to what can only describe as hot tranny mess: men wearing pancake makeup and trendy but ill-fitting clothes. What they all had in common was their talent and comedic chops, which kept us entertained from 9 pm to 2 am.

It’s hard to keep an audience entertained for five hours straight on original material (which could take YEARS to write and perfect), so the warm-up act (which consistent of six entertainers) used the audience as the material – as in, make fun of. They warned us from the very beginning that this would happen and that the audience shouldn’t be offended – it’s all in good fun. I was a little apprehensive because we were sitting in the front row, and the easiest targets are the ones they can see. There was no cover of darkness between the stage and us, so I had to make sure I didn’t do anything to catch their attention. They did make fun of me eventually – for not finishing my food and for sitting with “rich ladies” who also didn’t finish all their food – but I got off easy compared to other people. There was this poor man from Cebu who got ribbed for the way he looked. He was not an attractive man, and they zeroed in on that, teasing him about where he came from and who he was related to (insert unattractive animals here). I am so glad he was a good sport about it; otherwise there’d be beat-downs in the alley after the show.

The featured performer didn’t hit the stage until close to midnight but he was worth the wait. He sang, told jokes, picked people out of the audience to join him onstage, told more jokes, sang again, and called it a night at 2 am. This was our cue to call it a night as well – we had so much fun and laughed so hard that our sides hurt, and by then we were pretty tired. It was non-stop entertainment that night, which meant that we didn’t get a chance to talk to my dad’s friends, three very lovely ladies who took us to the comedy club. Maybe next time we'll pick a venue more conducive to conversation.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Taal Lake

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been intrigued by Taal Lake. I’ve visited many places in the Philippines during my childhood but never Taal Lake or the surrounding city, Tagaytay. I finally got a chance to see the lake during this trip, and I’ve got to say: it’s one of the most beautiful and interesting places I’ve ever visited.

Taal Lake is about an hour south of Manila by car, close to Los BaƱos. My aunt’s old friends Tito Boy and Tita Mila drove us there and another friend, Tita Gloria, showed us her family’s resort on Lake Taal’s waterfront. We had lunch at this fabulous place called Josephine’s that had a stunning view of the lake. I couldn’t believe that such a lovely scene could also be deadly: in the middle of the lake lies Taal Volcano, which is submerged underwater. The only part you can see is the caldera, which is also called Volcano Island.

(I don’t know if you’ve noticed that I sometimes put “Tito” or “Tita” in front of people’s names. In Philippine culture it’s a sign of respect, and it means “Uncle” and “Aunt.” Everyone who’s older than you has to have a title before their name, like “Uncle” (Tito), “Aunt” (Tita), “Big Brother” (Kuya) or “Big Sister” (Ate). It’s just how we roll.)

Taal Lake is a freshwater lake (the third largest in the Philippines). After a series of major eruptions in the 16th century, the lake was closed off from the sea by newly-formed land bridges. Succeeding eruptions buried numerous lakeside towns, and only three towns are on the lake's shore. Old lakeside towns with buildings and walls are reported to be seen under the lake's waters. Several centuries of rain has diluted the lake's salty waters into pure freshwater.

Because the lake was until recently, connected to the sea, it is home to many species that have evolved and adapted to the desalination of the lake's waters. Its most popular endemic species is the overharvested tawilis, the world's only freshwater sardine. Taal Lake is also home to one of the world's rarest sea snakes, Hydrophis semperi. This particular species is only one of two "true" sea snake species that are known to live entirely in freshwater. (Source:

If you are ever in the Philippines, you should definitely visit this place. More pictures here.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Vintage Manila

Above is a newsreel of Manila from 1938. This was shown in American movie theatres before the feature. It's interesting seeing images of the city 70 years ago, back when it was under American rule, before the city was mercilessly bombed by the US during WWII to drive out the Japanese.

You should watch with the sound on to hear the commentary.