Sunday, 30 November 2008

First ray of light - 30 Nov 2008

Whenever I watch a sunrise, I feel that life is rejuvenated. The first ray of sunlight brings hope that the day will be brand new and that we can make things possible, which were impossible yesterday.

At this time when the world has gone mad, I count it a blessing that I am "insulated" from all the madness and that I can sit back and watch how peaceful a day begins.

Let us not take for granted each sunrise, because, who knows, what will happen to us tomorrow. Let us all pray for world peace.

See more photos here!

Friday, 28 November 2008

A song for 同志

A song that I've liked for a long time, but I never fully understood the meaning of it until I came to know that it was originally written as a 同志(gay) song.

The version that we frequently hear today has some parts of the lyrics re-written to "fit" a commercial album. The original version, while probably controversial is subtly beautiful. 既暧昧又含蓄。

First version in 1998 sung by 小平 and included in 《拥抱 同志专辑》
Later version in 1999 performed by 五月天 and included in their first album 五月天第一张创作专辑

Please enjoy both versions.

小平version (music by 五月天). Beautiful acoustic. Singer has a great voice.

五月天version. From their first concert. The singing part ain't great, but it's such a pretty sight to have 4 of them sit in a row strumming their guitars. Rarely get to see these days.

愛情的模樣 (Original 同志版)

你是巨大的海洋 我是雨下在你身上
我看到遠方 愛情的模樣
愛在你身上飄蕩 品嚐你黃昏和朝陽
是我的幻想 是你的樂章

你是誰 教我狂戀
在一樣的身體裡面 一樣有愛與被愛的感覺
我愛誰 已無所謂
在一樣的身體裡面 迷樣的魔力卻是更強烈

荷花池中泛著月亮 我在池邊不停流浪
身體和靈魂 失眠的晚上
不過你的可愛模樣 你讓我舉雙手投降
跨出了城墻 長出了翅膀

你是誰 教我狂戀
在一樣的身體裡面 一樣有愛與被愛的感覺
我愛誰 已無所謂
在一樣的身體裡面 迷樣的魔力卻是更強烈
你是巨大的海洋 我是雨下在你身上
我看到遠方 愛情的模樣

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Cebu, where sun, sea and fun are in abundance

Arriving in Cebu, I was greeted with a landscape that was totally unexpected. In my mind, the Philippines is "branded" with the over-populated and congested images of Manila, so when the welcoming coast line and blue water came into view, I knew I had to reset my expectations about this place.

Despite having been told by my Philippino colleagues that Cebu comprises of many beautiful islands and is an ideal vacation destination, I was skeptical about it all as I thought they could be tinted by the patriotism and national pride that seem to flow in the blood of every Philippino. But now, I am truly convinced that "beautiful" is a word of understatement.

Whether it is the white sandy beaches that emerged during low tide...

Or the fancy corals and colourful fishes you'll find when you snorkel in the turquoise clear water...

Or the sea that glitters so brightly in the far horizon under the afteroon sun, as if someone has spilled gold onto the water...

There is only one way to explain these grandeur and beauty, that is our Creator had planned these for us, in the world that he built.

Often, our selfish pursue of nature's wonders inevitably lead to destruction of things which were once beautiful and precious. Part of the primitive charms would give way to modernisation and development. You'll know that a place has become "touristic" when you feel instantly at home after you arrived. In many ways, Cebu has been tailored in a fashion to suit the needs and fancies of the foreigners. All the familiar amenities and international brand names can be found with relative ease in Cebu city. The "poor" and the "unsightly" bits have been "censored" out from a typical touristic itinerary. And together with the propaganda speeches by a trained tour guide, you may be compelled to believe that all of Cebu is as good as the sun, sand and sea it has to offer.

The truth is, for many of the natives who live in Cebu, life is not exactly a permanent vacation. When comparing the per capita income (about FY2005 - 2006) of Singapore (US$29k) against that in the Philippines (US$1.4k), it is not difficult to imagine the disparity in the standard of living and quality of life of people in the 2 countries. If economic jargon is hard to digest, we can also measure quality of life by the volume of shampoo purchased. Here, we buy them in bottles, sometimes 2 or more at a time, saving them for "god knows when" the next time we'll run out of some. In Cebu, shampoo (and other basic necessities) are sold in small sachets, as people live by the day, buying more on days they feel wealthier, lesser or none on all other occassions.

People who live in make-shift houses under bridges, men who haul and pull ropes for tourist boats to dock... I don't think they appreciate the sun and the sea exactly the same way as the occassional visitors do. But I am sure the beautiful natural setting do mean something to them or they will not be boasting it so much to the rest of the world. Unfortunately, tourism in Cebu (and the Philippines in general) has suffered much injustice because of security concerns over the Abu Sayyaf and annoyance caused by the rowdy crowd at Lucky Plaza on weekends. However, as soon as we let go of our preconceptions and learn to embrace differences (ha, it is funny that I should be saying this), we will find some truly amazing things, especially in this place where the sun and sea are in abundance.

More Photos here!

Video courtesy of K.B. Adore him, listen to his breath haha...

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

The price for perfection

The flawless skin, one sharp pointed nose, a set of well defined eyes... and the perfect smile. We saw them on TV, read them in magazines, perhaps even encountered them on the streets. Ask the beautiful women who walked with poise and great confidence, what is the price for perfection?

4.5mil Korean won, that's the price for a perfect nose. If you pay by cash, you get 20% off the list price. Of course I wouldn't miss the chance to check out on plastic surgery while I was in Korea. That place is like the Mecca of cosmetic surgery!

For the whole of last week I was preparing for the day that I would visit a plastic surgery clinic in Seoul, thinking of what to say and planning my responses. More so I was worried that I would become too self-conscious when come face to face with someone so accustomed to perfection. Maybe he would think that I need a total overhaul.

Turned out that my worries were unfounded. As I stepped into the consultation room, I was put totally at ease by the doctor. He was good looking, extremely mild mannered and most importantly, not judging at all. So I thought I didn't have to prepare much for the dialogue because I would be relying on my colleague for translations. Bad move. Little did I know that doc spoke fairly good English and as he started spouting out English words, I got nervous... Oh no, which part of my face do I want to do?

I was asked what "makes me feel complex" (I think he meant inferiority complex). My instinct matched his question with an answer "Nothing". Wrong answer! I shouldn't be sitting there if I felt there is nothing wrong with me and I couldn't let him know that I was there only for some touristic fun. Somehow "maybe nose" (to make it smaller) came out of my mouth after pausing to think for a few seconds (gosh the silence was dreadful, as if my lies were about to be exposed!).

I was given a detailed run through of what needs to be done to fix my nose. It is a complicated process which requires my nasal bone to be partially flattened, flesh removed and then remove cartilage from a ear to create support for a new sharp pointed nose (like scarfolding haha!). As my nose is "not in such a good condition" (literally quoting doc), I was told that it could only become 20%-30% smaller after the surgery. So much pain for such small improvement... it doesn't make economical sense.

Unfortunately, plastic surgery is often associated with negative stigmas. But in fact, the skill and precision required in such procedures are as much as, if not more than the other types of medical surgery. After my visit to the plastic surgery clinic, I have absolute respect for doctors who are in this business. They are true professionals who are knowledgeable and skilled and I don't think they are less honourable than any medical doctors. So what's wrong with helping people gain confidence and fulfilling dreams? Even if it's a bimbotic dream.

For me, this was definitely a fun-filled and rewarding experience. I've learnt some techniques used in plastic surgery and understood the difference between fat injection and botox...haha big discovery! As a consolation, I was told that I don't need a facelift until 10-20 years later... listen only to the good things!

So, will I pay the price to be more perfect? Though I am no ravishing beauty, I am pretty happy with the way I look. And I am a chicken who wouldn't even dare to take a flu jab, do you think I will let someone break my nasal bone and cut off my flesh??? Not unless you tell me I will look like Angelina Jolie afterwards.