30 November 2007

Deja Vu

After the curfew imposed on Manila from 12.00 a.m. to 5.00 a.m., I am finally arrived safely in my apartment. The newspaper was filled with articles talking about the filed coup that happened yesterday. I found this article in The Philippines Star papers which I find very interesting. It was the Editorial in the paper and was titled Deja Vu.

This one ended even quicker than its precedent four years ago. Saying they wanted to avoid bloodshed, detainees accused of plotting a coup led by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Army Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim surrendered and were re-arrested early last night. Hours earlier, the two men had walked out of their court in Makati and then marched in the rain to the five-star Manila Peninsula Hotel in the heart of the nation's financial district, where they demanded the resignation of President Arroyo and called on other members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to join them.

Both men are not new to trying to topple the government from posh accommodations. Lim led the takeover of hotels in Makati in December 1989, in the bloodiest attempt to topple the administration of Corazon Aquino. How the government dealt with him has to have a bearing on his action yesterday and on those of Trillanes and their supporters. After getting a slap on the wrist for the 1989 coup, Lim was eventually reinstated. Under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who rose to power on the wings of a military-backed popular revolt, Lim was even appointed to head the elite Army Scout Ranger Regiment.

Trillanes was a junior officer when he joined several others and staged a mutiny in July 2003. That time, they picked the posh Oakwood serviced apartments, also in the heart of Makati, to stage their mutiny. From detention, Trillanes managed to win a seat in the Senate last May. when adventurism is rewarded, it is bound to be repeated. Thus we had the hotel siege yesterday staged by individuals already facing charges of plotting a coup last year.

29 November 2007

An attempted coup and curfew in Manila

I woke up at noon today (after performing my night shift) and was watching CNN over the TV when it was reported that there was a coup going on in a hotel in Makati. I switched over to the local TV channel where there was live coverage of the coup going on at the Peninsula Hotel. The hotel is located about 800 meters away from my apartment.

It seems that a Senator who lead a failed mutiny against the President in 2003 and a General who were in trial, walked out of the trial and took over the hotel. There were also about 30 soldiers who have joined in the coup. The hotel was surrounded by army personnels, police and SWAT team. They were given up to 3.00 p.m. to give up. When 3.00 p.m. arrived, nothing was done.

At about 4.30 p.m. an army armoured vehicle knocked down the main entrance of the hotel. The Senator and the General finally gave up citing that they do not want anyone to get killed in the crossfire. All the people involved were arrested which include the people from the media. The people from the media were also rounded up because the authorities was afraid that the soilders might disguise themselves to escape the arrest. So the tension has ended.

While I was having my dinner with my "Angel", they received text messages that the President has impose curfew from 12.00 a.m. to 5.00 a.m. in Metro Manila and Luzon area. The curfew was imposed to facilitate the arrest for other personalities behind the standoff today.

Whew.. this is the first time that I have encounter such a turmoil and being in a place where curfew is imposed. Luckily, there was no serious incidents that have happened.

For duration of my stay in Manila, I have experienced two explosion incidents, an earthquake tremor, a near typoon, a near coup and a curfew. My stay in Manila will be a memorable one!!!

28 November 2007

I feel the earth under my feet!!!

I was alone in my apartment on 27 November. I was on the night shift where I only go to the office later in the day. I sat on the couch to access the net using my notebook. Suddenly, the couch being pushed from the back. I was surprise and wondered whether it was someone playing a trick on me by pushing the couch. However, I knew that there was no one around. I also saw the curtains moving and I realised that I was shocked by an earthquake.

Wow, this is the first time that I have encountered an earthquake!! Later I overheard the radio announcement that a tremor of 6 on the Ricther scale has hit the Luzon island about 100km away from Manila. The earthquake has sent tremor to the Manila area including Makati area where I am staying.

For the past week, tropical storm around the Philippines has turned into typoon. I was waiting for one to hit Manila so that I can witness how strong the wind will blow. The typoon did not arrive at Manila but has lashed out on the northern part of the island. The typoon has created flood and have cause the death to at least 10 people who drown during the storm.

24 November 2007

Fun in Manila

After a long six months, my project in Manila is coming to an end. The project has been very successful. To celebrate the success of the project, a party was organised by the office staff.

In the project there were some colleagues who were from Indian, food for the party was a bit of problem becuase some of them are vegetgerian and strictly no meat for their meals. To make every one happy, the party was held at an Indian restaurant called Prince of Jaipur which was located in Fort Bonafacio. The restaurant was decorated with many Indian paintings of Maharaja and Maharanis.

Almost every one who were involved in the project attended the party. Food was a mix of vegeterian and also non vegeterian consisting of mutton and fish. The Indians were the most happy seeing the food which they are familiar to. Whilst the Filipinos and others.. well they are accomodate to have Indian food which is treated as a different cusines from their routine food.

After the food, time for some fun. There was a lovely belly dancer who serene us with the lovely smile and twisting hips and belly. The guys' eye were all on her. There was also free flow of drinks from the bar, tequila, rum and volka. Everyone were having fun drinking. Some went too fast and too furious on the drinks that they were drunk before 11.00 p.m.

By 11.00 p.m. the Indian restaurant was turned into a disco. Music machine was placed on the stage and there was a female DJ spinning dance songs. By 12.00 p.m. I need to leave the restaurant because I still need to go back to the office to continue my work.

I had fun during the party and here are some of the photos taken with the people at the party.

My project team in Manila, From left, Selvi from Chennai and Rika who is working with me from KL.
The lovely Yahoo
The belly dancer
Happy people

I will leave my heart in Manila.. see these lovely and beautiful ladies with me!!!

14 November 2007

Another bomb blast in Manila

When I arrived back at my apartment last night at about 10 p.m., we were watching BBC where the news report that there was a bomb blast at the House of Representative, in Quezon City. The bomb blast killed 3 people including one of the local Congressman Wahad Akbar and also injured 7 people.

This is the second bomb blast since I was here in Manila. Luckily I am still fine. Quezon City is located about half and hours taxi drive from Makati. The tension of the bomb blast last night can be seen when we reached the office where our bags are throughly checked by the security guard for any conceal weapons of destrution.

Here is a news clipping of the news in the local news site:

A bomb explosion at an entrance of the House of Representatives in Quezon City on Tuesday evening killed three people, including Basilan Rep. Wahab Akbar, and injured at least seven others.

The National Police and the Armed Forces immediately went on full alert.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ordered Director General Avelino Razon, National Police chief, to personally lead the investigation of the explosion. The President said Razon should "submit periodic reports as warranted."

In a nationwide telecast late Tuesday evening, the President called for sobriety.

Director Geary Barias, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office, said the driver of Gabriela party-list Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan was also killed in the explosion. The driver was identified as Marcial Talbo.

Maan Bustalino, a staff member of Negros Oriental Rep. Pryde Henry Teves, who was also injured in the explosion, expired while being transfered from Malvar General Hospital on Commonwealth Avenue to the St. Luke's Medical Center on E. Rodriguez Sr. boulevard. She was rerouted to the Capitol Medical Center on Quezon Avenue instead where she was pronounced dead.

Teves, 34, is a nephew of Finance Secretary Margarito Teves and a grandson of his predecessor, Rep. Herminio G. Teves.

Bustalino, who is from Dipolog City, is in her early-30's. She is taking up law at the University of the Philippines - Diliman.

She has worked at Congress since the time of the finance secretary when he was still a congressman. She is a relative of the Teveses.

The explosion went off as the House ended its session at past 8 p.m.

"At this point in time I'm saying it's a bomb, but I can't say what type of bomb," said Razon.

Police investigators suspect the bomb might have been placed on one of two parked motorcycles then remotely detonated as Akbar approached his car, fatally wounding him and ripping the motorcycles apart, Barias said.

"It looks like Congressman Akbar was the target," Barias said.

Akbar, a former governor of Basilan province and reportedly a former member of the Abu Sayyaf group, had claimed he was a target of his former comrades.

Some security officials have suspected that Akbar knew the leaders of the Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim radical group that has its roots on Basilan island. But they said he later had a falling out with Abu Sayyaf commanders and started fighting them.

Akbar also had political opponents, including those that ran against one of his wives who succeeded him as governor of Basilan.

The bomb went off as drivers were picking up lawmakers and their staff and damaged a number of cars outside the south wing entrance to the Batasan Pambansa building.

"I felt the blast although I was on the other side of the building. The ceiling of the canopy near the south wing entrance came down," Rep. Teodoro Casino told The Associated Press.

Rep. Joel Villanueva of the party-list Citizen's Battle Against Corruption said he was at the south wing of the building when he heard a "very loud explosion."

Witnesses said they saw a van and one or two vehicles burning after the explosion.

Razon said a destroyed motorcycle was found and experts were conducting chemical swabs on it to find out if it was used to carry the bomb.

Police cordoned off the massive House complex in suburban Quezon City shortly after the explosion.

"If this is terrorist action or work of an anarchist I'm sure it was deliberately done to cow us," House Speaker Jose de Venecia told reporters at the site.

Political tensions are high in the country. President Arroyo is facing a third impeachment complaint in as many years.

"We cannot rule out anything until the investigation is completed," De Venecia said. "There are many threats to us personally and officially. We will have to decide whether we have to augment security."

He said he will speak with the President "to inform her tonight that we will not be cowed by terrorists."

The Philippine capital has been jittery since last month, when an explosion damaged a shopping mall in the financial district of Makati, killing 11 people and injuring more than 100 others. A preliminary police report said it was an accident, although the owners of the mall disputed the finding.

Militants have bombed targets in the capital in the past.

08 November 2007

02 November 2007

Staying in an apartment

For a change, I moved into a service apartment during my stay in Manila. There were three of us in my assignment team and we managed to secure a 3-room apartment at Fraser's Place in Makati which is about 15 minutes walking distant from my office.

Fraser's Place, Makati

The 3 rooms apartment is more than 2,00 sq. ft. with a large living room, a large dinning room, a large kitchen, a washing area and a servant room. Staying in an apartment take the loneliness I have when staying alone in a hotel room. We get to cook ... instant noodles (or if we have the chance and skills we can cook up something more decent), have a big 2 door fridge to keep our stuff and a washing machine and dryer to do our own laundry. Even though there is laundry service, the three of us took turn to do out own laundry.. the only thing we did not like is the ironing of the cloths.

The very large living room
The dinning room is at the end of the living room

The washing machine and dryer side by side

The very large kitchen with a 2 door fridge

The apartment has to be rented on a monthly basis to get the full worth of it. It is cheaper to stay in the apartment than a hotel room taking the cost of three rooms in an apartment against three rooms in a hotel.

The only draw back is the lousy breakfast they serve. Breakfast is just normal omelette, bread and some other stuff unlike the various varieties of food to choose from in the restaurant of the hotel. The other thing is housekeeping is not available on Sundays and public holidays so we better keep the apartment clean to cover the days when housekeeping is not available.

Overall, I am beginning to enjoy my stay in the apartment more than my stay in the hotel room.