Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Schmap has selected one of my photo collection in Flickr! Here’s the iPhone version where my photo is being displayed and credited: The Adelaide St. Peter’s Cathedral.

I would like to thank Schmap for putting the
Chook-minder’s Lens on the map of the world!

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Best Things in Life

This is the photo of my snacks during our smoko* last Friday—a jelly-cream cake. It is a downgraded trifle (less the custard, fresh fruits and the port wine flavour in the jelly). A big thanks to Roger, his 82-year old mum was the one who made it, actually.

As I sank my teeth into the sponge cake, I instantly forgot to think about the trifle because the spongy treat was very delicious and has the special taste of its own! I enjoyed it with my tea and milk.

The best things in life are, indeed, FREE! Just like this cake, it may not look great, or visually taste great at a glance but once you start to indulge yourself on it, you will eventually begin to appreciate and finally enjoy its own beauty!

I’ve listed a few things in my life that are free:
1. Housing (my caravan), water and electricity
2. Vehicle and fuel to and from work
3. Trip to Elizabeth(Thur) and Adelaide(Fri & Sun)**
Beautiful Winter Scenery in S.A.
5. Clean, fresh air
Chicken and Mushroom
7. Nice workmates
Thoughtful friend
9. Loving family
10. Calls to my 5
Yes Optus friends

I’m sure you have yours, as well. Why not start counting them?

* smoko - unofficial Australian slang word; informally means a cigarette or cigar, but it is being used as a term to describe a mid-morning/mid-afternoon break at work.
** Free lift (ride?), a compliment of my

Monday, July 21, 2008

SOMEBODY is Watching

Despite having a very hard day inside the chook sheds today, I’ve been staying awake until late evening tonight because I am watching the finale of Big Brother Australia—2008 on TV. I am quite sad and lonely because there's nobody here whom I can share my opinions and analysis about the show. If I am only in the Philippines right now…

I instantly remember those days when I was very devoted in watching the Philippines’ version - Pinoy Big Brother. I am well-aware that many of my ‘friends’ out there have raised their eyebrows before (or maybe until now) why I was madly hooked with the show, but I didn’t care, because I know I am getting much lessons in life out of it daily.

I’ve actually written an article about Pinoy Big Brother last October 13, 2005 but unfortunately it was not published (I submitted it to one of the Philippines’ respected daily newspaper). Anyway, I am happy that at this very moment, I have the power to share it to the world! Be careful because…

By Ruel P. Pagoto

I was proudly wearing my white T-shirt printed with Pinoy Big Brother logo when I dropped by the CD shop in the mall. Suddenly, I saw one of the salesgirls making some gestures (after she had noticed the print on my shirt) to the lady behind the cashier... They smiled and put a CD on their player... three seconds later the MTV of the now famous Pinoy Ako song eventually filled the air inside the shop.

Every shopper, who was by then very busy browsing for CD’s smiled and was delighted—as reflected on their face. All eyes were then focused on the monitors hanging on the walls of the store. While those who were just passing by the shop started to mumble the song as the MTV continue playing.

The young boy (maybe 6 years old) suddenly laid a finger on his mom’s arms and pointed to the logo on my shirt. Indeed, almost everybody in the country already knows “Kuya.” Only few were left innocent about this reality show—others are so curious and are finding ways to come across the PBB house through Big Brother’s cameras... while others have chosen to stay ignorant about this talk-of-the-town show without knowing they are missing a lot of fun, excitement and much lessons to learn.

Pinoy Big Brother is a respite after a long day work. As we laugh (or even shed tears with the housemates) it brings relief after hearing all those dreaded political, economic and environmental issues concerning the country and the whole world.

Perhaps, it is worthwhile to join Jayson and Franzen as they take life so easy amidst the pressures around... or we can accompany Sam as he strums his guitar amidst the communication barrier between him and the other housemates. Choosing to be as smart as Nene as she considers every situation as part of the game is equally admirable. It is not an issue if we wanted to be frank like Uma, or as tactless and unreasonable as Cass... Falling in love with somebody, like JB and Say is normal, while admitting our faults and making countless ways to go over and fix it, like Rico is somewhat exceptional. Of course having self-confidence, courage and determination while conquering all the hurdles along the way just to win the battle of life, are only few but inspiring values of the other PBB housemates.

Just like the PBB housemates, every task assigned to us, whether great or small, is equally significant and should not be taken for granted. It doesn’t matter if in the end we fail to accomplish it. What is more important is—we have the virtue of camaraderie and teamwork while extracting every talent, skill or ability we possess every time we work on the responsibilities entrusted to us. If every Filipino embraces the value of esprit de corps, the dream of becoming a strong republic is within stone’s throw.

Having the freedom to confess everything we think and feel is really great! It only shows that even inside the PBB house, the housemates aren’t deprived of democracy.

Nomination Night reminds us that everybody has the ability to identify and has the right to choose somebody who does not belong to the group. It reminds us that our character really matters because it determines our fate in this real world—whether we can continuously survive or be evicted right away. Perhaps the essence of self-discipline is very important if we wanted to thrive in this real game called “life.” We should start knowing our limitations so we can draw a line between our neighbor’s expectations and our attitude towards them without compromising our real personality.

We sometimes, if not often, neglect someone close to us. At times, we ignore those who love and care for us, we become insensitive to their needs, or we even disregard our feeling of affection towards them. We only come to realize they are special to us when we know they are leaving or when they are gone.

Perhaps, those tears during eviction nights will serve as reminder to us that every imperfect person has his own significance if we only exert extra efforts to discover it.

The twelve housemates were once very conscious of their languages and gestures because they were well-aware of the microphones and the cameras around them. But as days passed by their alertness had deteriorated and now they have started to act and speak naturally. We, sometimes, are offended and irritated by their actions and words so we want it to undergo proper censorship. We are very much concerned of our children because we are afraid that younger generations might be ruined by the biting realities showcased in this reality show.

Indeed, the show is very effective... it has been gradually opening our eyes and now we have seen our own reflections inside the Pinoy Big Brother house. We have discovered and are scared by the beauty and the beast within us...

Much as we want the PBB housemates to be extra careful of their actions and words because the cameras of Big Brother are monitoring them, in this real world (which is more likely the real ‘Big Brother’ house) it is worthwhile to be extra careful too... because Somebody up there is also watching us!

Monday, July 14, 2008

The World's Pilgrimage

For six days this month, Sydney, Australia will be hosting the 23rd World Youth Day. A quarter of a million registered pilgrims from all over the world are expected to come as a response to Pope Benedict XVI’s invitation. In this international event, the pontiff encourages the youth of the world to unite, and celebrate their faith.

However, not every one of us can go to Sydney. But we can still join the pilgrimage by genuinely rekindling or celebrating our faith in our own home, church or diocese. With this, I believe that our faithfulness to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit will remain young and fresh, no matter how old we are.

This sacred festival is being initiated by The Vatican but its message is, clearly, not just for the Catholic ‘youth’ alone because we all know that the Holy Spirit has been constantly knocking on everybody’s heart so everyone will become a living witness of God’s unconditional love for us!

I haven’t been to Manila during the WYD in 1995, and surely, I can’t be present in Sydney for this year’s event. But just like the pilgrims that are determined to come to the Randwick Racecourse, no matter what and where I am, even in this isolated poultry farm amidst the barren fields of South Australia I am striving to seek and pursue my life’s mission in my day to day journey.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

'When Love Begins'

One of the inevitable challenges of being away from home is the loneliness. Aside from the very tiresome job I have as a chook-minder, living in a secluded Australian township is really very difficult (who will put up a chicken farm just beside the Sydney Opera House, anyway?). I have to deal with the local TV shows (with low-budget, nagging advertisements) and the delayed broadcast of the American TV series after work until before bedtime that had made the movie Iron Man a very fantastic treat for me already! I admit, when I was still in the Philippines, watching movies in the malls was once my favourite past time during weekends. Both foreign and local movies (even if others might call these movies corny), I have no preference.

It’s good that Filipino population is gradually increasing here in the Yorke Peninsula. Recently, my workmate’s wife and two sons came to join us here in Port Wakefield—and to live with the chooks day and night (of course not inside the shed, we have our own decent accommodation in the farm). I am happy to have somebody who just arrived and update me about the Philippines ‘informally’ (I consider the Bandila news every 6:45am in SBS as my source of ‘formal’ information). I enjoyed browsing their lists of DVD’s and selecting Filipino movies that they’d intentionally included in their baggage. At last after 18 months of living in Australia, I have finally got a chance to watch a Filipino movie that was released after my departure!

A movie from Star Cinema and Viva Entertainment was my first choice, written and directed by Jose Javier Reyes, DGPI. I instantly missed my country because the first shot was the coconut trees, then the white sand in Boracay (which according to the movie, those sands are once sea shells—that were ground by nature into tiny bits and had started to build-up since millions of years ago)!

The cast, I reckon, was just nonchalantly but (it ended up) fairly selected. I can’t believe to see Anne Curtis (Michelle Valmonte) that beautiful and sexy, the last time I saw her acting was in her fantaserye* Kampanerang Kuba as Imang. Aga Mulach played as Ben Caballero, whose age is quite 'incompatible' with Curtis, but the writer-director Reyes have found the right story (by Kriz Gazmen) in this movie for them.

Somehow, I can call their story ‘love at first sight’. But it is the love with NO commitment, as these lovers apparently believe that passion is enough for their love to flourish. Michelle is a young, successful business woman, working with her dad’s (Christopher de Leon as Paul Valmonte) company is afraid to fall in love and to suffer the consequences just like what she had with her previous relationships. While Ben, whose one and only girlfriend broke up with him just a day before their wedding, is a lawyer by profession but had a traumatic experience with his job so he finally decided to help save the planet—an environmentalist. The two met in Boracay.

Just like other movies, their uncommitted love was as well challenged. It came to a point when Ben’s group have to make a stand to save Mother Nature against the housing project of the Michelle’s family. Michelle’s dad hates Ben, but Ben’s Mom (Boots Anson-Roa) likes Michelle. (Sorry, just read it again if it’s unclear.)

Once again it was proven that in love, age doesn’t matter and that no true love should be left uncommitted. Serendipity and destiny have also been highlighted in this film, and if we love somebody, here's what the script says, "you shouldn't only accept me for who I am, but you should also accept me for who I am not." Aga Mulach has once again shown his charms to create a beautiful love story, and Anne Curtis had definitely started to establish and should now be included in the list of leading ladies because of this movie.

There are English dialogues in the movie that had really made me smile because once again I heard that Filipino accent from others when speaking English (I’ve been hearing my own accent here for a while).

Though Ben has been called ‘Attorney’ by Michelle for three times, Mulach had failed to present even a little aura of being a lawyer in this movie. There were moments in the film when Curtis should show a more distinct emotion, especially her sadness and surprise, but the scenes were too short that it had never given her the chance to show it vividly. There was a very noticeable flaw in editing when Ben is convincing Michelle to join his family affair. Ben have uttered, “...so I decided to meet you...” when he, supposedly, have to say, “...so I decided that you should meet my family.” But these imperfections are nothing, because this movie has been very successful in carrying out its target to entertain the movie-goers and let them fall in love in a very different way!

The movie does not just touches a viewer with its love story, it also teaches the audience with its lessons. It emphasizes that each of us can do something to improve our world, and that we should always make things better in our own simple ways.

The cinematography is good enough to feature the real beauty of Boracay Island! I haven’t been there but now I can say that the famous island is, indeed, a ‘must see’ place. I wish I could visit Bora when I’ll take my holiday soon (so I can meet my own Michelle there)! For the guys, Anne Curtis and Desiree del Valle will never disappoint you in this movie! For the girls, Jon Mullaly, AJ Dee, Rafael Rosell and Aga Mulach will never let you down, as well.

For those who haven’t seen this movie yet, it’s not too late to feel the heat of summer! Watch it, and see When Love Begins.


fantaserye* - is a nickname for a Pilippine television series; literally, a fantasy series.