of soaring & dreaming

August 26, 2008

Field trip to Bangkok

Our first field trip during the recently concluded training on Sustainable Communities was to explore Bangkok using the different public transportation modes, especially the modern ones. First we went to the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority (BMA) Transportation Division, then later to the Metropolitan Rapid Transport Administration (MRTA) Office. In both offices we met AIT alumni both from the older (70s and 80s) and recent batches. We were shown what they are doing regarding mass public transport and their plans to better the situation in Bangkok and nearby areas, regarding transport system for the public. It was nice to listen to their dreams and they really are sincere in trying to make things better. It would be good to have a seamless transport system in Bangkok and we do not have to drive our cars but just hop on at the nearest train or bus station near our home. We were shown the plans of BMA for a Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) System and hope this will be successful. Also MRTA’s expansion plans which include going even to AIT/Thammasat. Wow that will be the day, when we do not have to drive, with the train station just next door and we can go all the way down to Bangkok. That will be good also to the environment, and our pockets.

Smile! We were all camera crazy inside the train!

Smile! We were all camera crazy inside the train!

After the meetings, we went to the nearest MRT station, at the Thai Cultural Center. All of us were excited, even me, as I do not use the subway really. The last time I used it was a long time ago. If I have a choice I would use the sky train. But actually I did not have any qualms using the same thing in London, Manila, Netherlands, Singapore, Tokyo and Toronto . Except here because of some safety issues. But maybe it is better now. We used the subway to go to Chatuchak Market/Mochit Station so we could transfer to the BTS/sky train. We were quite a big group and so it was quite a worry maybe for the guides in case some of us got lost! It was quite easy in the subway as there was not much crowd there. So we got to the Chatuchak Station and we went up to connect to the sky train. We noticed immediately that the two stations are not connected as one has to go out to the road to get up to the sky train station. It would have been better if a connection from the inside goes directly up to the sky train. With our big group joining the outside crowd, it was hard keeping up. Some of us were already up in the BTS station while the others were still walking on the road trying to catch up with the first group. Anyway we finally got together and my, what a crowd! We waited for the card tickets and some of us were given the coins to experience the use of the card machines. Nice. Some went to the mini-mart nearby to buy some cold drinks and gum. Another convenience. We were on a field trip so we had to observe these things that will make transport system in Bangkok more efficient and effective. Once everyone had the card, we went up to wait for the train.

)

Some of us had to stand. Some were shy to look at the camera 🙂

There was one waiting already but we did not take it. So we just moved to the side to wait for the next train. Unfortunately those in our group who came up last thought we were already in the train, and so they ran into the train. The train was about to leave and there we were, shouting, “come out! come out!” They had to hurry to come out or else they would not know where to go once they were on the train, and they would probably not know how to contact us. If that happened, probably they would just go shopping! Anyway, one of them said that the way we were screaming “come out! come out!” was so frightening!!

When the next train came, we got on. It was good to get seats and a relief as inside was so cool. Even cold. We got off at the Victory Monument, where we really felt lost in the crowd. We had to keep our eyes on our leader, Amorn, a PhD student. But after some time we lost him. But I knew we were going to look at the Victory Monument and the transportation dynamics there, so I just kept on. The others followed. After that we saw him again so we knew we were on the right track. We continued also to take photos. It was fun for me to be in Bangkok and not in the car for once. I get to see and experience some other different things. Anyway, time was up and our vans were waiting under.

Traffic was ok at this time but could get worse during rush hour and heavy rains.

Traffic was ok at this time but could get worse during rush hour and heavy rains.

Our next stop was the canal for the boat transport in Pratunam near the Central World. It was a short drive and surprisingly there was no traffic in Petchburi Road. We got off our vans and walked up to the bridge and observed the boats with passengers. At first we thought we would ride the boats but we just observed it. Even looked around as there were many other things to see, such as the sidewalk vendors and the pedestrians. It seems the water in the canal is cleaner than before and there was not much smell. Anyway, it is surely a cheaper and faster means of transport but people can get wet from the water spray.

We did not try the buses, taxis, motorcycles and tuktuks, but I bet that everyone had a chance somehow to experience them during other times, esp. when they went out to go shopping!

Didn't get on the boat this time.

Didn't get on the boat this time.

After the trip we went up to cross the flyover to go to Central World to have our dinner. However, for me and two friends from Kenya (Edith and Lillian), we crossed back again to go to Big C, where food and other stuff are cheaper. We had about 1.5 hours before we got back to AIT. We had dinner at the Food Center and they were quite impressed with the taste of the food and the price, which was quite cheap. They ordered Thai fried rice which cost 30 baht per plate. For me I ordered Pad Thai. Then we bought drinks and our dinner was less than 100 Baht per person. One of them said that food was cheap, and wondered why the previous night they paid more than 1,000 Baht for their dinner. Probably they had it in a posh hotel? We then moved around the hypermart and grocery section to buy some stuff.

View from the flyover between Big C & Central World

Then off to the meeting place in front of Arnoma Hotel. It was a long wait for the vans to arrive due to traffic (as usual). It was indeed a long day and we arrived back at AIT at around 9 pm.

View from the flyover between Big C & Central World

June 18, 2008

A hundred years!

Filed under: Events — carnationzky @ 9:16 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

My beloved alma mater is turning 100 years old today! I studied there when she was between 80 and 84 years old. Too bad I could not participate in the celebration there now. How I wish I could be there and feel the excitement and fun and the nostalgia and many more … I just rely on the internet to witness the events during the whole year of celebration. Sharing one article I received by email today. It somehow captures the 100 years of UP existence, but of course we know that 100 years magnified by her impacts on many lives could not be confined in just a few paragraphs. Yet this short article somehow still stirs up what UP was, is and will be.

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UP turns 100 today
By Juaniyo Arcellana
Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The University of the Philippines , the school that bred many of the nation’s leaders, artists and rebels, turns 100 years old today.

UP officials have prepared elaborate celebrations for the milestone event, culminating in a grand alumni homecoming this weekend at the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, site of many a sporting spectacle but on Saturday will be transformed into a melting pot of memories and nostalgia of all things UP.

Barely two months ago the new UP Charter was signed into law in UP Cebu , granting it fiscal autonomy as a national university.

Created by an act of the Philippine legislature in 1908 during the American period, the State University has come a long way from its early halcyon days along Padre Faura, the original campus, where the first seven colleges were constructed of sawali and galvanized iron.

There are now seven constituent universities located in 12 campuses throughout the country.

Act 1870, otherwise known as the UP Charter, created the university to “provide advanced education in literature, philosophy, the sciences and the arts; and to give professional and technical training to every qualified student irrespective of age, sex, nationality, religious belief or political affiliation, ” a statement from the Diliman Information Office said.

In those days that section of Ermita was like a mini university belt, with nearby schools Ateneo and Assumption also located there. Many of the streets were named after the states in the US : Florida , Colorado , Indiana , spilling all the way to Malate area, the exception being Isaac Peral, now United Nations Avenue , names only the oldtimers would likely remember.

When the Centennial Year was launched last January, celebrations began early in the morning in UP Manila , the template campus that houses the College of Medicine , precursor of the 1908 university charter, and wound up in the evening with a bonfire on the main campus of Diliman across town. Today at the Philippine General Hospital the UP Manila ‘s Indayog will be dancing the tinikling.

The Faura campus survived the war years, with the Conservatory of Music (Villamor Hall) being turned into a headquarters by Japanese occupying forces where the indios were supposed to surrender whatever firearms they had, as documented by author Benito Legarda in his book “Occupation ’42.” On the upper floors of the Conservatory, the intellectuals of the day were detained and interrogated, including the American editor of the Free Press magazine.

In 1948 UP held its last commencement exercises on Padre Faura, before transferring to Diliman the following year. Emerenciana Yuvienco, the lone summa cum laude of that batch, recalls that President Manuel Roxas was the commencement speaker. An April downpour gave them all a good drenching and Roxas himself refused an umbrella being provided by an aide. Two days later he was dead, after suffering from a heart attack in Clark Field.

Of things UP there are many, consisting of a random enough timeline that varies with each person who walked – maybe even sleepwalked – through the groves of that academe.

The General Education Program was introduced in 1959, which the university president of the new millennium, Francisco Nemenzo, sought to strengthen alongside the system’s fiber optic backbone, and so better equip the UP graduate in the 21st century.

The Creative Writing Center was set up in the late 1970s with a seed fund of a million pesos from the late President Ferdinand Marcos, but even before that there were already regular writers’ workshops being held both in Diliman and the campus in Baguio City .

Any history of UP would not be complete without mention of student activism, as it has been commonly known as a hotbed of radicalism and free thinkers, the well-off families who weren’t necessarily stingy would think twice about sending their children to State U.

Unforgettable was the Diliman commune in 1971, the smoke coming from the barricades could be seen kilometers away, and dzUP was taken over by ideologues mouthing the isms over the static. Of course, the likes of Joma Sison and Ninotchka Rosca hung out at the basement cafeteria, among the other bohemians (both political and apolitical) of the day.

During martial law the university seemed to be under temporary sedation, but only on the surface: dissent in its most extreme form hovered just around the corner. Rallies were nipped in the proverbial bud, but this didn’t stop the Iskolar ng Bayan from putting in his or her five centavos worth against the dictatorship.

The student publication The Collegian soldiered on, with its slogan printed in bold type near the masthead: Kung hindi tayo kikilos, sino ang kikilos? Kung hindi ngayon, kalian pa?

Billy Lacaba, a staff member of the Collegian editor Ditto Sarmiento during the late ’70s, spoke of the time the paper’s adviser Francisco Arcellana, whose job it was to read through the contents to check for anything incendiary, merely signed his name to approve the galleys without bothering to look at the copy, all in the name of press freedom. Both editor and adviser, may they rest in peace, were soon invited to Camp Crame for debriefing and an intensive refresher course on the New Society.

There was Lean Alejandro walking around campus in slippers. Francis Pangilinan, who would one day be senator, already looked kind of slick even then.

Members of the Eraserheads lived in the Diliman dorms, while Yano’s song State U remains a wake-up call for the Iskolar ng Bayan.

The Ikot jeep too has now a special place in UP annals, the ride round campus that started with a 5-centavo fare. There was subsequently a jeep that plied the opposite route, known as the Toki, because history too can run counter-clockwise.

And whereas tuition in the old days added up to little more than spare change, lately there have been grumblings – not unjustified – about the 300-percent increase in enrollment fees starting with those with student numbers beginning with the numbers 2007.

Long time employees are also wondering when their centennial bonus will come, before the money from katas ng tuition and assorted fund-raising gets lost in the mammoth celebrations.

Yet the bitterness and heartaches can be set aside for a day or two, for the sake of UP Naming Mahal, not coincidentally host of this year’s University Athletics Association of the Philippines (UAAP) games.

Though UP won NCAA basketball titles in the pre-war years, its first and only UAAP basketball crown was notched in 1986, when Benjie Paras, Ronnie Magsanoc and Eric Altamirano led the charge at the Ultra in Pasig . This centennial year the Fighting Maroons hope to win a game or two, after going 0-14 last year.

Not at the Ultra, but at the Araneta this Saturday will there be a lookout for the great beauties of Dekada 70 – Ascencia, Rosanna, Jacqueline – if they are in more ways than one still aboveground, and if time has been kind to them as UP most likely has.

Grand community sing-alongs during flag-raising at Quezon Hall in Diliman, and a multi-media tribute and concert at the Cultural Center from today till Friday conspire to usher in State U to its next one hundred years.

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