Friday, January 16, 2015

Rasa Istemewa: Delicate Rasa

Singapore is a place for good foods and the best known is Chili Crab. No one should ever leave Singapore soil without tasting this distinctive delicacy.

At a first glance, one would think that Chili Crab is extremely spicy that you cannot eat it. Yes, it's huber spicy but you can still eat it.

It is the tasty red sauce which makes you craving for this delicacy. A glance at the sauce would tell you that is has a lot of chopped chili and pepper. But its taste is delicate for the palate. Try dipping the fried bun into it and all the more your appetite will increase.  

In Singapore, the most famous Chili Crab is offered by "No Signboard Restaurant" located in Aljunied. But in the west, there is also "Rasa Istemewa" located in a park at Choa Chu Kang. I have tried both restaurants and both serve the same quality Chili Crab. 

The view of the restaurant taken from the park.

Rasa Istemewa's Chili Crab with Bun.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

What's in Store at Fullerton Hotel?

Fullerton Hotel is among the best hotels Singapore has to offer. This edifice has been iconic because of its role in Singapore's history as a former post office and as the address of visiting dignitaries in Singapore.

Adding to its grandeur is its architectural style dating back to the British colonial times. It appears stately as any government buildings in Singapore such as the Parliament and Istana.

Within its walls are magnificent way to dine especially at "The Courtyard." This restaurant offers buffet dining as well as a la carte. You can choose from a range of food offerings from the menu, but I tried there the bento box.

You can have various selections of bento box there but I tried the one with tempura and sashimi. It also includes miso soup, rice with sesame and slices of fruits.    

The view of Fullerton Hotel from Asian Civilizations Museum.

A floral depiction of F1 sports car with the 
Fullerton mascot driving.

Orchid adorning the dining tables.

Sparkling water

The bento box which is among their menu offerings.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Cult of Papacy: Filipino Style

Every Papal Visit to the Philippines is an occasion of national significance as well as controversy. It is with Filipino's deep faith in God that everyone would struggle just to see God's representative on earth in person.

This occasion also give rise to the issue of separation of church and state as mandated in Philippine constitution. Though both the church and Philippine authorities are astute enough to circumvent this constitutional provision by regarding the Papal Visit as a state visit by a head of state.

Previous Papal Visits by St. John Paul II, gathered throngs of Catholic faithful to the events, the aerial shots of which show sea of humanity.

What is behind this kind of Filipino's following for the Pope?

Interviews of Filipinos who encountered the Pope have lots of stories to tell. In the Pope's presence, they feel the presence of God and hence, they also feel blessed. One testimony was that of a poor family visited by St. John Paul II. The couple said that his visit was pivotal for the transformation of their fate into affluence. 

Another story was that of a lady who was brought to Vatican by her parents when she was still a baby. She was fortunately picked by St. John Paul II during his audience at St. Peter's Square. She grew up to be an intellectually gifted child, and that blessing was attributed by her parents to God's blessing through her contact with the Pope.

There are also many stories of healing brought about by St. John Paul II's Papal Visits way back in 1981 and 1995. 

Transcending all these material affluence, fortune and miracles, Pope Francis' intent for his visit is to show compassion to those marginalized in the Philippine society. These sector comprise a significant number of Philippine population who are vulnerable to suffering, oppression and exploitation by unscrupulous compatriots including politicians. 

Knowing the dire situation of his suffering flock, Pope Francis wants to show them that they belong to the love of God and that no sin can ever surmount His compassion. 

As such, it is in this very love and compassion where the cult of papacy emanates which every Filipino are blessed by their faith.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Scientific Reflection on the Existence of God

I am writing this article as a tribute for the gift of faith just in time for Pope Francis' Papal Visit to the Philippines.

Times have changed since the medieval times when it was theocentric. Though there are still a significant number of believers in God, there are also an increasing number of people who question that very existence.

This discourse only tackles my reflection on why God exists as was said in the bible and how that biblical claim aligns with scientific reasoning.

To start with, I would like to borrow the term from mathematics which is axiom. Axioms are facts which does not need to be proven. As such, I would say that God's existence is an axiom, it is an accepted truth by believers which does not need to be proven.

God's existence cannot be proven in the same way that 1+1=2 and 1/0= infinity cannot be proven. But we accept them as true.

One will ask, how did you know about the existence of God? The answer is the bible. A further question might be, can you prove the veracity of the bible?

My argument here could be, how come the bible exists if all the things contained therein are lies or fabricated fiction? And how come many people believe in it? The mere fact that the bible exists and many people believe in it, in spite of the absence of scientific proof tells us its veracity. A further questions is, what harm or danger did is cause to the believers? As I see it, at least in my family, there is none.

In addition to that, those written in the bible have historical basis and those were written because of witnesses.

Let me state my point, science as a body of knowledge also has its limitation. To date, it cannot explain all the phenomena in this world. So, what I was thinking was, those phenomena beyond the limits of science belong to God because we have no way to find out the reasons behind it.

On the limitations of science, for any endeavor to be considered scientific, it has to undergo the scientific method. In employing the scientific method, one has to define the "system" under study. In order for the results of this study to be replicated anywhere else, the "system" should be under controlled conditions. But all "natural systems" cannot be controlled as such and even generalizations also have exceptions. In certain circumstances where these systems exhibit peculiarity, that we can leave to God who knows it all (e.g. disappearances in Bermuda triangle and a lot more mysteries which cannot be explained by science).    

I would even claim that there is parallelism between science and religion. These two domains are not contradictory as they are mutually reinforcing each other.

Let me start with the "Theory of Evolution". Nowhere in the bible can you find the word evolution but I think the bible alludes to it in the book of Genesis. I think, in the wisdom of God, there is no mention of "scientific terms" (such as evolution) in the bible because it cannot be understood by human beings at that time. Instead, he used symbolism which still depicts how the creatures came to being.

No one knows, but granting that humans  evolved from apes how does it contradict the bible? It is still possible in biblical perspective because as was stated in Genesis, God created animals first before human beings. With this scenario, wouldn't it be possible that human beings could have "evolved"from apes? Possible, isn't it? So where's the biblical contradiction of science? In fact, there is a question on the veracity of the "Theory of Evolution", in the first place it is just a theory and to date, apes are still apes. No human beings were observed to have transformed from apes.

Natural selection as espoused by Charles Darwin is also in the bible. The stories in the bible about wars and human struggle depicts the picture of "survival of the fittest." Not only the physically fit but also employing human intellect one can subdue the enemy (as in the story of David and Goliath).    

One may claim, human existence and subsistence are due to chemical reactions. Sure this is true, but there should be "someone" putting an order to effect such chemical reactions because chemical reactions by and of itself cannot occur without order or favorable conditions. That "someone" providing order is nothing but God, a higher being who has the only capability for doing so.  

Remember there is also mortality, in which case these chemical reactions have to stop. And who can stop such chemical reactions? Of course, someone who is a higher being.

In the bible, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah was also told. In that story, indiscriminate sex was prohibited. It really makes sense, isn't it? Why? Because promiscuity can lead to diseases such as STD, gonorrhea, HIV/AIDS, etc.

With these arguments, don't you think that the lessons of science and the bible are mutually reinforcing? Isn't it that scientific facts just shed light or provide deeper understanding of biblical facts? Certainly, scientific facts and biblical facts are not contradictory.

For me, there is no questions about whatever religion you subscribe to. Religion is nothing but a means to an end, who is God (however you call him). Whatever you believe in and however you express it, it all goes to God. Who can ever go to eternal damnation so long as we obey the precepts of God the way we know it to be?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Diversity of Beliefs

Singapore as a bastion of cultural diversity is host to various beliefs and religions. Among these are Chinese folk religion, Buddhism (both Theravada and Mahayana), Hinduism, Judaism, Islamism, Christianity, etc.

What impresses me with this coexistence is the fact that religious tensions do not exist unlike in my country, the Philippines which has only two predominant religions, i.e. Christianity and Islamism.

This is also advantageous for Singapore in educating their young because the presence of religious edifices as well as the students' diversity of beliefs make the discussion on religions more concrete (unlike in the Philippines, discussions on Buddhism, Judaism, etc were very abstract). 

The presence of places of worship in various architectural styles adds color to Singapore's landscape and make it a place where people of all beliefs feel belonging. 

With this harmonious coexistence of diversity of beliefs, Singapore is a singular model for the world to emulate where religious tolerance is highly encouraged and besmirching religions is an unacceptable societal norm (that is why there are no "terrorist" attacks or religious riots happening in Singapore). 

Here are the pictures of places of worship in gallant pageantry worthy of offering to omnipotence.   

The colorful fa├žade of a Hindu Temple near Fort Canning Hill.

A Buddhist Temple

Armenian Apostolic Church of St. Gregory the Illuminator

The magnificent St. Andrew's Cathedral, a place 
of worship for the Anglican church.

St. Joseph's Church, a Catholic church which belong 
previously to the Portuguese Mission. 

Maghain Aboth Synagogue

The Sultan Mosque

Thursday, January 8, 2015

How can Filipino oil and gas industry professionals find an overseas job?

There has been an observable trend in the Philippines in which many professionals are seeking for overseas jobs.

Specifically, professionals working in the oil and gas industry have leeway for mobility wherever they want to work. Now a days, searching and applying for overseas jobs can be done easily through the internet. 

Multinational companies such as Shell, Chevron, etc. have their own "Careers" webpage where one can create an account, upload resume and other supporting documents and apply for job openings. Seeking job in these companies however, seems to be quite challenging for they have very stringent hiring criteria. 

More popular companies to look for jobs are engineering and construction companies such as Fluor Corp., Jacobs Engineering, KBR, Bechtel, etc. The websites of these companies also have "Careers" page where an applicant can create an account, upload resume and other supporting documents and apply for job postings. Some of the postings in these websites however might be specific for citizens of the country where the office is located.

A relatively easier and more efficient way to find an overseas job is through applications in "job boards" such as Work Abroad, Seek, Oil and Gas Jobsearch, Fircroft, Rigzone, etc. There are just so many "job boards" out there but I will focus on three "job boards" through which I have found my overseas jobs.

The first "job board" which is tailored for Overseas Filipino Workers is Work Abroad. Many openings posted there are jobs in Asia particularly in the middle east. There are a few jobs there for Singapore and Taiwan but mostly in the semiconductor industry. Sometimes, there are also engineering job postings for Canada and the US though very rare. When you apply in this website, your resume is directed to a local employment agency which will help you process your work visa in the country where you are going as well as your Overseas Employment Certificate. Below is the link for the said "job board."  

If you want to seek employment in Australia and New Zealand, then the Seek "job board" is for you. Most of the postings there are for engineers with experience in mining industry. Sometimes, they also post job openings for engineers with experience in dairy processing.
Another "job board" which is global in scope is the Oil and Gas Jobsearch. In here, you can find jobs in Europe, US, Canada, Asia and Australia. When you submit your resume here, employment agency personnel will contact you if you are qualified for the position you are applying for. Sometimes, the job openings posted there are specific for certain nationalities. The common employment agencies posting here for job opportunities for Filipinos are JVR(for jobs in the Netherlands), NEC, Progressive, Brunel, Spencer Ogden, etc.       
For professionals who are seeking job in the US, there are two famous websites where one can apply. These are IPS and G.A.S. Unlimited. Below are the links to these websites.


Note: When applying for jobs in the Middle East, South East Asia, South Korea and Taiwan, you have to be under a local employment agency. This is mandated by law to protect Overseas Filipino Workers. In case, the employer abroad fails to pay the Filipino employee, the Filipino employee can claim his/her salary from the local employment agency.     

Book Review: The Catcher in the Rye

Author: J. D. Salinger
Title of the Book: "The Catcher in the Rye" 
Year of Publication: 1991   
Place of Publication: New York  
Publisher: Little, Brown & Co.   
Number of Pages: 224  
Price: Please see link to Amazon
ISBN: 978-0316769488
This novel is one of the best that I have ever read. It is about a life's exploration of a teenager by the name of Holden Caulfield. 

Caulfield, as curious as he was, tried the things teenagers are usually curious about. He drank and even tried to have sex with a prostitute though it did not push through. 

The plot of the story tells us that part of Caulfield's life when he was expelled from school and there was confusion in his mind maybe brought about by his sickness or the dynamics of the world around him.

He was far from seeking something meaningful as he sought fun but makes sense out of it. He wanted to date and he dated, he wanted to show his affection for his sister and he showed it. 

The world seemed to be a highly disordered jungle for him in which he was clueless of what was his place in the grander scheme of things. Phoebe, his sister even accused him of not liking anything. 

Despite the challenges of his life, he never wavered to look at his future in a positive way as any human being would wish for his/her future to be bright. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Filipino Nobel Laureate Materials

With the recently concluded Nobel Prize awarding ceremony in Norway, our thoughts lingers on who will be the next laureates. We even have in our thoughts the people who deserve the Nobel Prize.

In my mind, there are two Filipinos who deserve the Nobel. They are former Philippine president Corazon Cojuangco Aquino and AIM professor Federico M. Macaranas.

Corazon C. Aquino, popularly known as President Cory in the Philippines deserves the Nobel Peace Prize for her relentless struggle to restore democracy in the Philippines during the dark-years of martial law. 

The restoration of democracy in the Philippines is a fight to uphold human rights and President Cory's means for peaceful revolution is worth emulating the world over.       

President Corazon C. Aquino
Another Filipino whom I strongly feel deserves the Nobel is Professor Federico M. Macaranas of the Asian Institute of Management.

He deserves the Nobel Prize in Economics for his contributions in this field particularly the application of chaos theory in economics, his innovations in teaching economics and his practical application of economic theories for the development of Asian countries.  
Prof. Federico M. Macaranas of the
Asian Institute of Management