Sunday, September 23, 2007

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Joy of Mid-Autumn

It's that time of the year again! The Mid-Autumn Festival! And although people in the Philippines will never experience Autumn, let alone Mid-Autumn, there is still the joyfully different atmosphere in the Chinese community and beyond since it's the period of mooncakes and dice and prizes. This is my favorite time of the year, probably even more than Christmas since I get to loot goodies and angpao everytime, hehe. Last night, we went to Dad's Chinese association dice party and guess what? I got zhongwan the very first time I threw the dice. Well, I thought that this time around, I ought to be lucky with probabilities since I bombed the Stat long test, haha. Anyway, let me post an article I submitted to Celadon more than a year ago.

Modern though our times may be, I cannot deny that Chinese customs and traditions have been an integral and essential aspect of my life as a Filipino-Chinese. I believe that ancient rituals should never be forgotten because they give us insights on our rich heritage, and remind us how special our identity is: a Filipino with five thousand years of history and culture in our blood.

One of the Chinese traditions which I find most fascinating and which holds a special place in my heart is the dice party. The dice party takes place during the Mid-Autumn Festival of the Lunar Year, and it is one of the occasions I most look forward to in a year. Our family is a traditional Chinese family, so we unfailingly celebrate this event every year.

During every dice party, I become appreciative of my being Chinese as I acquire euphoric memories year after year because there is always an unpredictable atmosphere, a sense of community, and of course, excitement over the prizes at stake.

I feel this giddy, excited feeling the moment I roll the dice in my cold, sweaty hands. As I throw the dice into the bowl, I keep on praying inside my head that the six dice might roll to as many fours as possible, or create various number patterns that will win me prizes. My heart thumps with a sense of relief and fulfillment whenever I pick my prize from the center table. As I do this, I could hardly wait for my next turn, hoping for a better combination, wishing for a more desirable prize.

There have been several funny and unforgettable instances through the years during the dice parties. Not many mid-autumn festivals ago, I, together with all my relatives, kept shaking our heads in disbelief as my baby brother kept on getting "zhong wan" (four fours in the dice or better) - the top prize - for seven consecutive turns! We kept on shaking hands with my baby brother after that, hoping that his luck could somehow be transferred to us. There was another instance when I was in third year high school. We had our class dice party and were only playing a few turns when my classmate rolled the dice and got an extremely rare six fours! That was out of six dice, the best combination possible in the game. Oh, such fond memories of people and their lucky hands.

Dice parties became more than tradition for me, it was a source of cool prizes, great fun, and unforgettable memories. Even more importantly, it continually reminds me of the richness and color of Chinese culture and makes me proud of the Chinese blood flowing through my veins.

Can Technological Developments lead to Utopia?

The Ipod Touch is the stuff of dreams. It's been priority number one in my wishlist ever since I saw it on the web. The multi-touch interface is revolutionary, and the ability to surf the web on that gorgeous screen is just tech wizardry. I wonder how those guys at Apple can come up with gadgets that actually make people lust about their products. I am awed at how the company can cook up tech revolutions on a regular basis, about once every few months.

Speaking of tech revolutions, there is so much excitement in the tech world today.

The emergence of technologies such as motion-capture, as pioneered by the Nintendo Wii and further explored by Gesture Studios, can someday lead to an absolute sense of virtual reality.

The interactive 3D web, championed by Second Life, could lead to a rethinking of the Internet. I can imagine children in the future laughing at us, "Daddy, why did you have to click on words to surf the web?"

Incidentally, a new 3D technology is generating buzz in Hollywood, as 3D movie projection has evolved into an immersive virtual-reality experience, and movie studios are already investing heavily on it.

Then, there is the sensor revolution, which has produced cheap sensors no larger than specks of dust. This development could make the entire physical or even microscopic world accessible and interactive to humans, leading to an "internet of the physical world".

Google is also planning something called the Gphone, which purportedly has free calling, texting and surfing since everything will be subsidized by ads.

There's also the One-Laptop-Per-Child project which aims to provide $100 full-functioning and Internet-connected laptops to poor communities around the world. This and the GPhone can grant the poor access to a rich world of information on the Web.

Antoher visible development is the lowering of tech prices like Internet connections and computer hardware - which could cause the Net to reach a broader audience.

Conversely, there is Moore's Law and Law of Accelerating Returns - which will inevitably make computing power equivalent to the computing power of the human brain, and then all of humanity. The implications include the merger of biological and nonbiological intelligence, immortal software-based humans, and ultra-high levels of intelligence that expand outward in the universe at the speed of light.

The wireless revolution is taking place at a faster pace than it has ever been, and cellphones have transformed into high-res cameras and powerful computers in themselves. It has become a gadget where people are able to access anything anytime anywhere.

In the internet (Web 2.0), there is an explosion of content, from blogs to videos to games and podcasts, since more and more people gain access and become active users of the Web.

Another notable trend is that of alternative energy, since it is a more efficient way of gathering power and is certainly the wave of the future. In line with this is the development of better hybrid cars, such as the roadsters engineered by a start-up called Tesla.

There is also the new invention of wireless power, wherein charging and even powering our gadgets and appliances would not need wires anymore as power can be emitted through low-frequency waves packed with electricity.

In biology, there is also the proliferation of stem-cell research and baby engineering. Medicines are getting more effective. The human genome has been deciphered, and soon, the mysteries of the brain will be unlocked.

Imagine a world where all of these developments combine in an optimal manner. We would be living in a utopian world, where lives are long and rich, where anybody can be what he desires, and where information is free, abundant, instantly accessible, and entertaining.

Eras are defined by technology: agricultural, industrial, then the space and information age. Our generation will enjoy the zenith of technology, and life will become more convenient than ever. In this lifetime, we might see utopia rising out of these technological advancements.

Another entry without a real topic

It's been a long, long time since I last blogged! Hmm.. what has happened since? It's been a stressful September for me... This month is truly hell month! Long tests are scheduled one after the other, homework and papers keep piling up, and oral reports are springing up here and there. In the past few weeks, sleep has become a mere privilege. The consecutive nights with Accounting and Stat long tests were probably the most academically challenging two days of my life. These exams were literally mind-numbing! It reached a point where I began to question my intellect and my chosen course. Academics aside, what have I been up to this month? Well, it's been interesting. Last Saturday, I watched a musical at the Kaisa about Chinoys. It was a brilliant and inspiring performance, and the message is effectively carried across by the fusion of different genres from comedy to drama. The story highlighted the sacrifices endured and the eventual contributions achieved by the Chinese in the Philippines. After watching the play, it made me real proud to have Chinese blood in me.

Just a few hours ago, we rushed to Saint Jude to attend the Gary V. concert celebrating the Alumni Homecoming. His performance was a blast! The show was magnificent! He brought out the entire arsenal - 70s and 80s songs, modern dance music, romantic ballads, and spiritual melodies. His voice was amazing, and the dance moves were slick. It was so touching since it brought the Saint Jude community of all batches together as one singing, rocking crowd. After watching, I was so inspired to sing, but still not inspired enough to dance, haha.

I walked around my school, and it felt so special and poignant. Every nook and cranny was filled with memories. Every step I took made me relive my thirteen years there. As I walked along the hallways, I could almost hear the loud chattering and boisterous laughter I once shared there with my batchmates. As I looked around the school buildings, I smiled and reminisced all the friendship and laughter, tears and hardships, fun and mischief I experienced in SJCS. It tugged my heart to know that those fond memories will forever just stay as memories. I left my childhood in Saint Jude. Then, with a resolute affirmation in my heart, I promised myself, "Yes, someday I want to give something back to the school that has given me so much." That woke me up from my deep state of nostalgia and I remembered, now I have memories to create and live. With this, I hope to someday look back at college life with the same fondness and longing as I had with my home of thirteen years.

Okay, enough of that. First sem is drawing to a close. I am torn between wanting sembreak and not wanting the s1st em to end yet. This sem has been a blast - I met a lot of new great friends, studied under inspiring teachers, and enjoyed college life as never before. But somehow, I feel that I haven't learned enough yet. It feels bitin but I don't know why. Hopefully, all these can be resolved in the next two weeks.

Tomorrow is the Ateneo-UST game! A do-or-die match between two equally strong teams! I'm so glad my friend bought me a ticket. It's win or go home for the Blue Eagles so they really have to give their all-out effort in the game. I wish that we could pull off another miracle again and proceed to the next round with La Salle. One big fight!