Kiki & Lala

Archive for the ‘Earth Matters’ Category


Posted on: October 30, 2012

Wild is all I can say about Sandy.  Last night was nothing like the Signal No. 3 Typhoons we’ve experienced back home.   The winds weren’t just howling, they were growling.  The night sky was perennially lit by transformer explosions around the city.  It was like a movie.  I grabbed these photos from Spider Man who documented the damage in his neighborhood.





Wind is now back to howling, thankfully.  The subways are all down.  Path train is down.   Grand Central, Penn station and Port Authority all closed.  Even Broadway shut their lights.  But as the human spirit is infinitely resilient, the east coast-ers will rise above this.






I know. I know. I’ve been a delinquent contributor to this blog lately.  I am almost settled and I promise to update you with new adventures in this city I now can call home 🙂

So this weekend was all about Hurricane Irene whose bark was louder than her bite because she quickly transformed into a tropical storm.  She was powerful nonetheless, knocking trees and power lines down.  While the city was pretty much spared from her wrath, the burbs did not escape the floods and harsh winds.  Just to give you an idea, check out this video.

I know, its nothing you haven’t seen before but for a city that almost never sees a Hurricane, this was pretty scary.

And then you have those who didn’t seem intimidated by Irene’s warning showers.  How very pinoy no?

And how was your stormy weekend?

About a year ago I wrote about pouring myself in a particular extracurricular effort. No I’m not talking about biking…OR my dating (mis)adventures.  I’m talking about my efforts in launching MADDEL shelters.  I’m happy to report that my “Aussie Posse” and I have made significant progress and continue to gain some traction in this area.  We are working hard to get several projects off the ground in the Philippines, Indonesia, Panama and Haiti.  Basically, we are trying to build a community of this.

With one flat pack, a homeless family is given the possibility to rebuild their lives out of poverty and into prosperity.   Before they begin to think about livelihood, sanitation and education for the children, they need to first dig their roots deep into a home and into being part of a community.  MADDEL gives them that first boost.  We give them a transitional house and empower them to transform it into a home.

I’ve inserted this video to show you how easy these houses are to erect.  Please ignore the Marlboro Man music in the background.

When they are rooted well into a community, then they can work on their livelihood and on sending their children to school and on living dignified, sanitary, disease-free lives.  All this starts with a (flat pack) home.

The city’s already used up half of their snow budget. Just when residents finally had their front driveways ploughed and things are finally operating normally, mother nature decides to send more snow our way.

Here’s the view from my office window. Check out the kiddies still playing out in the snow.

Ahhh to be as carefree as those children again…

It felt like the worst snow storm in my almost 6 years here.  But apparently the one in February 2006 was even worse.   A State of Emergency was declared throughout the state of New Jersey, all 3 major airports were shut down and The City was in a standstill – no bus service and no trains.   I couldn’t even look out my window as the window sill accumulated so much snow.  I was literally snowed in.  Here are some shots I took on my way to work this morning.

This is how my street looked like this morning.   Thank goodness my street was already plowed.

Pity the fool who owns this car…

This is the 4th street park I pass everyday.  Check out the playground buried in snow.

After the snow storm, comes the gross, grey slush.  Eeew!

Show this to your Little Twin Brats…perhaps they’d like to come visit me in the winter?

A few weeks ago I caught this interesting documentary called Running the Sahara. It was produced by Matt Damon and directed by James Moll. Being snowed in (again!) today, I thought I’d watch it in its entirety.  What inspiration!  It documents the journey of 3 runners who made the commitment to run the entire Sahara Dessert to raise awareness for a continent we almost always easily forget.


Charlie Engle, Expedition Leader



Ray Zahab from Canada



Kevin Lin from Taiwan

By running through this dessert they wanted to get to know the people and shed some light on the alarming lack of potable water in Africa.  What was projected to take 80 days stretched to 111 days.  In those 111 days they ran 7,300 Km (4,500 m) starting in Senegal and ending at the Red Sea just below the Suez Canal.  They ran an equivalent of 160 marathons! Here’s a trailer I found to give you an idea.


I’m pasting this video because I like the song in the background – Given to Fly by Pearl Jam

With the runners came a team of equally committed professionals – from doctors to explorers – that made sure that the runners were safe, nourished and motivated.  They ran through Christmas and New Years and in those 111 days they did not skip a day running.

Those days were not short of drama.  Egos clashed, emotions were high, friendships were tested and even safety was compromised just to achieve this lofty goal.

This whole documentary was riveting.  And you know the kind of sucker I am for break-out-of-your-comfort-zone stories like this.  What struck me most was how water, a commodity we take for granted, is so scarce and precious over there.  Before watching this movie, my idea of low water supply was that drought one summer where we found Natasha, in a dark bathroom, tirelessly filling pails of water.

This is the continent’s only access to potable water.


Well in a village in Timbuktu, Mali


While running, they found a 7 year old boy left for 2 days in the middle of the dessert to tend to the family’s cattle while his parents look for water.  I’ve been trying to find pictures or an excerpt of this part of the movie and I only found this trailer below.  At around 1:30, they will briefly feature the boy.   Imagine having to leave Kim in the middle of nowhere so you can travel for 2 days for water!

I am well aware that you do not have an endurance bone in your body but I think you will appreciate the audacity, the courage and the insanity these runners possess to make a very important statement.  Here’s to the Crazy Ones!

With the Copenhagen Summit fast approaching, various global climate change awareness groups are coming out of the woodwork competing for our attention and more importantly our empathy and compassion.  One such organization is In a nutshell, they are saying that many scientists believe that we are way past the limit of CO2 levels in our atmosphere (you don’t say!).  They actually have a number. They claim that the acceptable upper limit of CO2 levels should be hovering around 350 ppm or parts per million Carbon Dioxide.  We are currently in the level of 385 ppm.


So what exactly does that mean?  To put it simply, it means this.


The presence of too much CO2 in the atmosphere has made our world warmer (duh!).  But  seriously, I think its very cool that scientists have found a way to measure and track the quantity of CO2 in our atmosphere.  Parts per million is a unit of measurement they came up with to measure the amount of CO2.  Its just the ratio of the number of CO2 molecules to all the molecules present.  Did I sound smart just about now? Now we also don’t want to swing to the other side of the spectrum by not having enough CO2 in the atmosphere.  Scientists say that anything below 275 ppm would just be too cold for us. And so the the magic number is 350.

So what needs to be done to bring down the CO2 levels to 350.  According to  “We need to stop taking carbon out of the ground and putting it into the air. Above all, that means we need to stop burning so much coal—and start using solar and wind energy and other such sources of renewable energy –while ensuring the Global South a fair chance to develop. If we do, then the earth’s soils and forests will slowly cycle some of that extra carbon out of the atmosphere, and eventually CO2 concentrations will return to a safe level.”

After watching An Inconvenient Truth this really isn’t earth shattering news (no pun intended) but  the quantifiable manner presents the problem and solution to us makes me appreciate this a little more.  Doesn’t it make the concept of carbon footprints more tangible?  And to further drive this point, they’ve produced a cool video.  While you enjoy this video, I will excuse myself and hop on the bike in my futile attempt to have a bod like these damn models!

Tulong Para Sa Rizal

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