Tuesday, January 31, 2006

State of the Union Take.


I was not sitting watching intently for most of it, I listened to some on the radio and watched some and some of it I chit-chatted with a buddy through it.

We need to get off of our oil habit but that is no small project and Tom Friedman's ideas are looney.

The State of the Union
Followed by the Disarray of the Union
Followed by the Boredom of the Union

Friday Night Cockfights in Ronda.

The Ronda Cockfights

One Friday while in Barili we went to the Ronda cockfights.

My nephew Don-Don (who is preparing to take the Philippino bar exam) was slated to fight three birds. I have always wanted to see this and finally got my chance.

We loaded up and arrived roughly at 3:00pm on Friday and the fights were already going on. My other nephew Augustine (not the same as Augustus) was experienced in these matters as his father was fond of cockfighting in his younger days. So he hung next to me and clued me in on what was going on.

The Process

The birds were weighed in, their blades chosen and affixed to their legs (one blade per bird), and the blades sheathed. The bird owners then assembled their bets and presented them to the house. The bird with the larger bet was tagged mayroon (has) and the lesser bet was tagged wala (without). The funny thing was mayroon and wala are Tagalog words and the crowd here spoke Bisayan so when the crowd would bet they would use the Bisayan equivalent to designate their bets. There were guys scattered through the crowd who would write the contracts and those who would purchase. The writers would yell the contract out and find the buyers. As time went on the contracts would change in order to attract the bets, no writing just yelling at and over each other, it was amazing everyone could keep things straight.

While this was going on the bird owners would be in the pit with their bird and perhaps another rooster. They would then put the other rooster into the face of the fighting bird to get the fighter into a fighting mood. I am not certain how much help it was as most of the birds after being released to the fight would just peck around for corn and grit until one bird or the other noticed its opponent.

The judge would then remove the sheaths from the roosters, the owners would meet up in the middle and let each bird see the other and step back and release their bird. Only one or two birds remembered the other bird and went straight to the fight. Most often the birds would peck and scratch for food and grit. Usually in under a minute one bird or the other (or both simultaneously) would notice each other and go at it.

A Flurry of Feathers

As you can see from the photo when they went at it, it was a flurry of feathers. One bird would attempt to jump over the other and as it came down would kick at its opponent. Usually after about one minute of this one bird would be on its way to the stewpot (these birds have tough stringy meat, they make great stew or soup). The judge would pick up both birds and if they both pecked at each other the fight continued. Eventually one bird would be dead and the other in some state between death and life. Most often a winner would be declared but in two instances (at least, and one of them involved Don-Don's first fight) the judge would declare a tie.

Don-Don's first bird was about to win when the opponent's bird gave a kick that buried its blade into the head of Don-Don's bird and both birds died about at the same time. The judge declared a tie and we got our bets back (I put down 500 pesos about $10). The second fight was a clear loss for Don-Don and the third fight was a clear win. I doubled my bet on the second fight (1000 pesos about $20) and lost that, and the third fight I won P1,0000 minus 10% grease so I ended up losing P100 ($2.00) on the night, plus the money I was out on beer.

The Wisdom of the Crowd

One thing I noted that amazed me. Being a complete neophyte to the sport I had no idea on how to pick out a winner from a loser. I paid particular attention to the betting when Don-Don's birds were fighting. The first fight, Augustine told me the betting was split evenly on Don-Don's bird and the opponent. Well, that was a tie, the crowd was correct. The second fight, the betting was mostly on the opponent's bird and Don-Don's bird lost, the crowd was correct again. The third fight, the crowd bet most heavily on Don-Don's bird and again the crowd was correct, Don-Don's bird won. In fact, Augustine bet most heavily on the second bird (the clear loser) but only did so because he thought it was the third bird that was going to fight second, that is he picked out Don-Don's winner as a winner. But of course, he spent his childhood caring for his Father's fighting birds so he had the knowledge and experience to know what a winning bird looked like.

The Weigh In.

im000428, originally uploaded by maurelius.

My nephew Don-Don weighs in the first of three birds prior to its fight.

After the weigh in a metal blade was affixed to the cock's leg just above the bird's spur. The blade was then sheathed and the judge removed the sheath prior to the fight.

Cock Surgery.

im000433, originally uploaded by maurelius.

Don-Don's first bird tied (it was turned into stew by its defeated opponent before the other bird expired), the second one lost, but the third bird won its fight.

After the third bird was done fighting they took it to the surgeon who stictched up the bird's wounds and administered anti-biotics. Last I heard the cock was well on its way to recovery.

The Fight Begins in Earnest.

im000426, originally uploaded by maurelius.

The roosters have noted each other and do what they do in such circumstances.

The Fight is Underway.

im000425, originally uploaded by maurelius.

Though, it often took some time for the birds to notice each other. They would be released and peck around a bit looking for food and grit.

Sooner or later one bird or both would notice the other and the fight would begin in earnest.

The Arena

im000423, originally uploaded by maurelius.

Outside the cockpit. On the side were the stalls of vendors selling food, water, drinks, and of course, San Miquel beer.

The Betting Begins

im000419, originally uploaded by maurelius.

Crowd betting was amazing. Since I don't understand the venacular it was even more confusing, fortunately a nephew was nearby to decipher what was going on.

As the night wore on it the betting was a good guide to which bird was going to win.

Which to Bet On?

im000418, originally uploaded by maurelius.

The crowd looks over the birds considering which bird to bet on.

Getting The Bird Ready.

im000416, originally uploaded by maurelius.

One of the two cocks shown is about to fight, the other is used to get the fighting bird in a fighting mood.

Justice Alito It Is!

Judge Alito just received his 51st vote in the senate. He is now Justice Alito!

I need to get a moon graphic!

Monday, January 30, 2006

Dem Talking Points.

A little shot at the left first. The Dems can breathe easy, Zawahiri has delivered their talking points to them they can be ready for post-State of the Union.

On a more serious analysis Walid Phares notes:
As I argued on MSNBC in my first assessment, along with my colleague Ret Col Rick Francona (NBC analyst), the most important impact of the tape is going to be in which way the Western and Arab commentators will "explain" the tape MSNBC link. From a global and immediate analysis of the message the bottom line is about how to explain the War between the US-led coalition and the Jihadi-led Al Qaida axis. The Jihadi camp is increasingly concerned that out of the West and the Arab world, a new analysis is explaining that it is al Qaida which is not achieving its goals with the peoples it wants to enlist. [emphasis added] It is against this particular analysis of the War on Terror, that the "architects" of the tape are attempting to redress the political situation in their own midst.
Source: The Counterterrorism Blog (Walid Phares) - Zawahiri's message: "your -US- assessment is wrong, we're winning"
Walid previously quotes an analyst highlighted on Al-Jazeera saying how it is time for the West to cry uncle.

What we have here is Zawahiri trying to pre-empt the President in his state of the union address. In fact as I kid above it sounds like a fair amount of the same things the left is saying. However, Walid's point is well taken. There was recently that strike against Zawahiri and Zawahiri has to show himself to be alive and well and of course who is to say they are defeated? No, of course not they will try to claim they are soundly kicking @$$ but it is quite curious to note how their former haven of Afghanistan is nothing at all like he claims it to be. Perhaps Iraq is a bit from being straightened out but we certainly have the initiative there. Old Zawahiri is trying to cast doubt on the President's upcoming speech.

The media war continues.

All We Need.

Michelle Malkin reports on a screaming and hollering Teddy Kennedy. What an embarrasment he is to American politics he is the cranky old scrooge type that has completely forgotten civility. I am suprised he did not remove his shoes and bang them on the podium.

Why the Fuss?

Why are the Iraqis bothering with Saddam Hussein? Saddam and his team should be told they have a choice. 1.) They can play by the rules and be allowed to participate in the trial and in his defense, or 2.) They can be told if they disrupt the court they will be removed and the court will continue on and treat him as in abstentia.

In abstentia trials are not unheard of, they should essentially consider Saddam Hussein in abstentia and try him that way.


Are (highlights) photos from our visit to Corregidor.

For the written description see Corregidor. Sorry, the photos are not sized down to fit better into the blog but this is a mass operation. I will write a batch job to blog-size the photos for my next swarm of photos!


The Pacific War Memorial Reverse View

PacWarMemII, originally uploaded by maurelius.

The eternal flame is to our back. The water on the sides had fountains but all the fountains were silent and the pond was being cleaned.


IM000182, originally uploaded by maurelius.

You can see the tip of the Bataan Peninsula in the distance across the waters. The Japanese were able to further dominate Corregidor when the American and Filipino resistance ended on the Peninsula. Also visible are the ruins of a barracks (center left) and the Pacific War Memorial (lower right).

No Commentary Needed.

IM000178, originally uploaded by maurelius.

The sign says it all.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Personal Weapons Used

IM000161, originally uploaded by maurelius.

During the Corregidor battle. The top rifle is an Enfield, my father owns just such a gun that has been sportsterized. Also on the board is a M1911 .45 ACP which is also a firearm in my father's collection.

Even The Guns

IM000135, originally uploaded by maurelius.

Lend an air of peace and tranquility. Augustus poses next to a silent mortar to give you an idea of how big these guns are!


IM000148, originally uploaded by maurelius.

One of the several barracks where the soldiers were quartered. There were multiple barracks all in ruins.

Speaks for Itself.

IM000164, originally uploaded by maurelius.

View the full size of the image.

The Trumpet Shall Sound and the Dead Shall Rise Incorruptible.

Peace Now.

IM000102, originally uploaded by maurelius.

Looking out to the waters on Corregidor Island. Peaceful now, but in 1942 and 1944/1945? Nope.

The Eternal Flame.

PacWarMemI, originally uploaded by maurelius.

Of the Pacific War Memorial overlooks the ocean.


IM000134, originally uploaded by maurelius.

Malinta Tunnel was originally built to facilitate communications between troops straddling the mountain but was used as a shelter during the Corregidor campaigns.


IM000110, originally uploaded by maurelius.

Another shot from Corregidor looking out at one of its neighboring islands. None of the other islands were as important as Corregidor.

The Tour Starts.

IM000101, originally uploaded by maurelius.

Our tour guide points out where we are and the general geography of Corregidor Island.


As promised here is an installment of the things we did while on vacation in the Philippines.

A Brief History

The second foray from our place of residence was to Corregidor Island. Corregidor Island as you may recall was the site of a famous last stand. The Japanese attacked the Philippines the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor and by January of 1942 had pretty much controlled Manila and the surrounding areas. By April of 1942 American and Filipino resistance on the peninsula of Bataan came to an end leaving Corregidor isolated. The forces on Corregidor held out for another month and surrendered to the Japanese on May 6, 1942.

This is the location where General McCarthur (a son of Wisconsin) uttered "I shall return" when leaving under presidential orders. Also to leave the island was Manuel Quezon the President of the Philippines at the time. Unfortunately, President Quezon never returned to his inang bayan (mother land) alive. President Manuel Quezon's grandson Manuel Quezon III now blogs here (and we tried to arrange a meeting but it never happened, next time na lang!, visit his blog and tell him Marcus Aurelius sent you!

The Visit

We woke up fairly early on the day we went to Corregidor. The boat leaves fairly early and Manila traffic is punishing to even the most seasoned big city commuters. Fortunately, my sister-in-law has a nice mini-van and a couple of expert drivers who know Manila and how to drive in the traffic. Driving in the Philippines is worth a blog of its own!

We reached the wharf and bought our tickets and had about a 30 minute wait until we would be permitted to board the boat to Corregidor. So, we bought newspapers and waited. Eventually we were allowed to board and were subject to security searches, bags were looked through, we were patted down, and metal detected. After seeing the wanted signs in the waiting room the security was a relief. Terrorists had in the past struck ferrys in Manila Bay, so the company that was conducting the tour was working to minimize such risks.

The day was nice, seas smooth. Our boat ride lasted a little more than an hour and each group or a set of groups was assigned a tour bus and tour guide. We landed, disembarked and located our tour bus and settled in. The tour guide was a "kinkoy" (joker, does the Global Tour Guide Union specify this as a qualification?). Busses was designated for Japanese visitors, visitors speaking only Filipino, and for others speaking English. Needless to say we were on the English bus (my Tagalog is not that great and my buddy Augustus is not studying Tagalog but Bisayan). One set of busses went in one direction and the remaining busses went another.

On the boat ride they played a film on the histories of Manila Bay and on Corregidor and while not being off from anything I know I thought were a little hokey. I am a patriotic American but I thought the puffery on my nation could and should be minimized. The guide gave a good outline of the history too and was good about explaining the details of the guns found about the island.

We stopped at various sites spent about five to 15 minutes at each site and from time to time our guide would get out and provide further commentary on the site. There was one site memorializing the Filipino people and the Filipino leadership of the time and it was helpful to have our guide at this site. Quite a bit of the memorial was dedicated to President Manuel Quezon (see above).

Eventually we found ourselves at the island's hotel for a lunch stop. They served a drink (I can not recall what it was but it was good and not something most of my American countrymen would be familiar with) and then led us into the dining room where a buffet lunch was served (part of the tour deal). The food was good and most Western tastes would have little problems with what was served, especially good was the San Miguel Beer! A three man combo was taking requests from each table and seranading the tables with the songs. Since Augustus and Adria had Sarah Lynn along the combo chose to sing Freddie Aguilar's Anak. Other songs heard were Waray-Waray and Manila.

The Ugly of it All

It was at the end of our lunch that I spotted the only ugliness of this trip. This should serve as a warning to all who visit the Philippines and any other place for that matter. A man was at the register settling up his bill (must have been on a different tour than us or had a couple of drinks he had to pay for) and one of the tour guides (not ours) went fishing for his wallet or goods in the man's back pocket. It was my determination the guide came away empty handed and so I said nothing but I should have asked the potential victim to check his goods out.

In fact, no matter how upscale of a place we were at there were many signs that said to keep a close eye on one's valuables. Good advice no matter where you are.

Back on the Road

The rest of the journey was pretty similar to the first half the highlights of the second half were the museum, the Pacific War Memorial, and the lighthouse.

The museum contained artifacts from the fighting uniforms, flags, weapons, letters, etc related to the fighting on Corregidor. It contained a full wall map containing dates and locations of major WWII battles.

The Pacific War Memorial was nice but was undergoing maintenance so could have been much nicer. It was still a moving tribute to the men who died fighting in the Pacific theater of WWII battle.

The lighthouse afforded spetacular views of Bataan and the island most notably the Pacific War Memorial. That was the end of the tour for us and we boarded the ferry and headed back to Manila.

Its Not the History, Its the Contrast

Corregidor without a doubt is a place of history. Therefore our schoolchildren will not be taught about it and it will be mostly forgotten after my generation passes (or perhaps mine + 1). However, what stirs me most about visiting battlefields is how they are now places of great peace and beauty which stands is in stark contrast to what they were in history.

The winds blow the flags standing on the island (Japanese, American, and Philippino) and the waving of the flags with the wind and the ocean do not bring to mind the screams of wounded men. Even the now silent artillery pieces and mortars have lost their warlike auras and it is hard to imagine these things lobbed tons of fire and steel in the hopes of causing personal and material destruction.

The only exception was Malinta tunnel. Deep in the heart of the tunnel there wasn't serenity but something else, what? I can not say, but the quiet in the tunnel was not tropical peace.

In the End

If you ever find yourself in Manila you MUST put a Corregidor tour on the top of your list.

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Saturday, January 28, 2006


The Empress and I are back in Appleton Wisconsin. Stories to follow!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


I have not had a fresh post here now for nearly two weeks and my average readership is amazing! I am sure it is mostly hit and run and a fair amount of search engine traffic but I am still amazed.

BTW we are back in Manila.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Keep It Up!

I just finished reading Michelle Malkin's website and from what it appears the Dems strategy for opposing Samuel Alito is very much akin to what bullies do on the playground. Call him names. In fact they got his wife to crying.

What a pity. Are they so blinded by the hate they feel they can not see the giant bag of poop they are stepping on?

Michelle Malkin picks up on this from Jon Podhoretz:
John Podhoretz marvels: "A Kennedy who has never known a moment's worry about money is now grilling a lifelong middle-class public servant with no family fortune from New Jersey about the public servant's mutual fund -- which, if memory serves, was and is the world's most popular mutual fund, currently serving more than 18 million investors. Teddy Kennedy, by contrast, is showered with money from his family trust. Have you no shame, Senator, at long last?"
A colleague of mine related how when he was in the service he was stationed in the DC area. He would hire himself out privately when off duty or security jobs and would often find himself doing security at senate parties and would often find himself in close proximity to the senator. My buddy was disgusted by that experience.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


From my limited view o the situation it appears to be a very interesting affair. Oh well, blog on Alito in the cold and snow or hang out in a nice warm place?


Sunday, January 08, 2006

Backbone on Brokeback Mountain.

Gene Schalit has dared to not call Brokeback Mountain the greatest film of all time let alone this year. In fact he characterized one of the gay lover stars as a stalker.

Yahoo News reports:
For the most part, the critics agree that Brokeback Mountain is one of the year's most commendable films.

Then there's Gene Shalit's point of view.
Source: Yahoo News - GLAAD Mad at Shalit's "Brokeback" Breakdown

Michael Medved once noted how a critic friend of his hated The Last Temptation of Christ but knew to pan the movie would have been the death of his career. Same situation here, I wonder how many of those critics truly believe their reviews? Bravo to Gene Schalit for standing against that pressure! Anyway he is set.

See you in a couple of weeks!

Busy Busy Busy.

The last couple of days have been a routine of getting up early, washing, eating, piling into the mini-van and ride-ride-ride until we get to a destination. Then arrive back home late, eat, go to bed repeat.

I suppose there are a lot of sights and things to do in Manila so we really have to pack it in but sometimes it seems like—work.

Tomorrow the routine repeats itself but varies in our trip is to the airport and we get on a plane to go to the home island of the Empress: Cebu. I am anxious to meet the rest of The Empress' family and to see Cebu. I suspect internet access in general let alone broadband is going to be lacking so expect about a two-week blackout here.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Gun's Ghost.

mortar2, originally uploaded by maurelius.

A 12 inch mortar rests in peace its ghost haunts all who see it.

The husband of The Empress' sister poses on the mortar to give you size perspective. It is hard to believe that on such a beautiful and peaceful island such horror went on.

The bravery and determination of the men who defended the island is remarkable and should never be forgotten.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Tagaytay Today.


Things are well. Last night Augustus & Adria arrived and we picked them up. In addition, we went to Pampangas and visited the family of my wife's brother in law that was nice. Am told that was real close to the site of the former Clark Airbase.

Don't have time to say a whole lot as we are all getting ready to go to Tagaytay and am told fishing is going to happen. Sounds like a fish pond and the girls will catch bangoose (milkfish) which they love. Anyway I hope to get some pix up soon.