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Lakaw is a journey is a step is a move. I love to travel around the world and this is my travel and travel gadget site. Welcome and Enjoy!

1 comments | Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What do political leaders John Adams, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and author Ralph Waldo Emerson have in common? Answer: They are the few of the famous alumni of Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

When I was still in my early years of schooling, each time I hear the word Harvard, I immediately associate it with great knowledge and brilliant people. My high school and college teachers never failed to describe the university in superlative words, like it was the most ideal and the only top-notch academic institution in the United States. For those who haven't seen and been to Harvard, they could only give a rather convincing nod and an enchantment look that goes with full reverence.

My Harvard fascination started when I began to value education. That would date back to the time when medals and academic honors were bestowed in my name in every end of the school year. Imagine a guy who proudly tells everyone about his academic achievements and adds that he desires to be a lawyer, a doctor or a scientist in the future. In every dream I had before, Harvard has always been at the back of my mind.

But I came from an average-income family with parents that have to support three kids in college. The Harvard thought, thus, remained a thought that slowly vanished in thin air. And as everyone put it, "aiming for Harvard is one crazy idea" - it is hard to enter Harvard.

After spending a 2-year Masters degree in one of the universities in Europe, I promised myself to take my PhD in the USA. If I have the time, I would travel and see Harvard with my own two eyes.

Yesterday, I did.

The air was never hot. The sun never shone in full with few clouds hovering the buildings at midday. I entered the brick entrance gate and felt the pieces of a long vanished dream collecting as fast as my mind could bring them in. At the sight of the statue of John Harvard, the founder, just few meters away from me, I realized that the dream was never gone, rather only kept in some shrine of consciousness for easy mnemonic recollection.

I touched Harvard's foot, as tourists think that doing so brings good luck. I looked at him - this guy sitting with a book on his lap. Frankly, his statue was never impressive yet say his name and it'll ring a bell anywhere on earth. I took quite a lot of pictures - me standing on his right side, then me on the left, then me sitting at the foot of the statue, me with a couple of Filipinos I met, me with my friend and more.

There were many inquisitive minds around the campus. Like myself, they were awed by the stories they heard about Harvard. They were tourists who traveled to Boston and to see this oldest institution of higher learning in the United States.

As I walked along paths lined with trees that might be as old as the institution, I couldn't help but smile inside of me for a reverie that seemed unthinkable. Am I here? Am I walking the same paths traversed by Ralph Waldo Emerson? I am.

I did.
What could I have become had I studied here? I pondered in each step I made, in each photo I took in almost every building, every corner. The experience will forever be etched in my memory. I am not sure when I could come back to see it again. Maybe when I'll have a child, then I could send him to this prestigious university.

Here are few photos.
In 1884 Samuel J. Bridge presented the University with a bronze statue of John Harvard as conceived by Daniel Chester French. At the unveiling, President Eliot recalled Harvard's bequest, saying, "He will teach that one disinterested deed of hope and faith may crown a brief and broken life with deathless fame."

Behind the statue, University Hall (1815), designed by Charles Bulfinch, divides the Old Yard from the New. The Hall was originally constructed to provide dining, classroom, and chapel space. Currently the building holds the offices of the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Dean of Harvard College, and the Dean of Students in the College.
In 1936, to honor Harvard's 300th-anniversary celebration, the New Yard was dubbed Tercentenary Theatre. Every June, graduating students, their families, friends, and other well-wishers pack Tercentenary Theatre for Commencement. The colorful tradition includes parades, costumes, speeches, music, and the conferring of degrees.

More Boston photos in my next post.

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Who says this? "Take every opportunity that life drops at your doorstep and live every day to make your dreams come true. Life is to be enjoyed to its fullest and this is what drives me. We each hold a little bit of magic inside and I love making the magic come alive. And don't EVER forget to thank all the people who helped you along that magical journey."

Give up? It's Mirelly Taylor, an actress who has appeared in "Kiss Me Again", "Serving Sara", "Las Vegas" and "Numb3rs" movies. See photos of her below.

Mirelly Taylor is not only beautiful. She is also very talented and intelligent. In high school she was given the solo parts in all the choir performances and won many first place awards from touring competitions. She graduated with honors and her academic achievements allowed her to attend SMU where she majored in cinema.

The good news lately is that, you can have the chance to win a date with a HOT Hollywood celebrity, which is a great opportunity. GoFish.com is running a contest that allows you to win a date with her. Yes, all you need to do is seduce Mirelly Taylor!

How to do that?

Step 1:
Watch the introduction to the Seduce a Celeb promotion. Mirelly will explain how the promotion works.

Step 2:
Watch Mirelly's videos with 3 specific calls to action and create a video for each one. Be as creative as possible; now is the time to separate yourself from the competition.

Step 3:
Upload your videos and you will be entered for a chance to win a date with Mirelly Taylor!

Three easy steps to make your dream date with Mirelly Taylor come true! One hint: the more videos you submit, the better your chances are of winning.

To start the seduction, proceed HERE.

Or you can watch the video first.

Free videos at GoFish.com



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0 comments | Sunday, May 27, 2007

Saturday. It was the longest day of my life in the USA. I planned this trip to Boston, Massachusetts since early this year and I couldn't count the number of times I changed plans to find ways to steal time from work. A close friend who have been inviting me since time immemorial that I'd go and visit her in Boston has been becoming so impatient. May, 26, 2007. Saturday. The day the plan had seen fulfillment.

As per my itinerary, departure time from Sioux Falls, South Dakota was 2.32 PM. Excited since it'll be my first trip outside the Brookings city where I spent over 8 months of work and study, I was in the airport 2 hours prior to departure. I was told by the check-in officer that the flight from Sioux Falls to Chicago (the connecting city) was delayed for an hour. Few calculations inside my so-aroused brain nerves dictated that I could still catch up with my connecting flight to Boston. I rested and waited for more announcements. An hour later, it was announced that the flight would be further delayed for an hour more due to a storm in Chicago.

Two hours of delay made me so hysterical. This couldn't be since it would send everything in my plan to mayhem. If it happens, nobody could fetch me at Boston airport. Being a Boston neophyte, I was afraid I may end up not seeing Harvard. Then I was told by the ticketing officer to wait 30 minutes before boarding so she could get to the bottom of my serious predicament.

To kill time, I tried to use the available WiFi connection at the airport. What a damn! The wireless connection wasn't free! That's why nobody was using their laptops at all, because no one wanted to pay 10 dollars for an hour of internet connection. It was bulls#*t in full form. Time wasn't on my side. To cut the story short, I ended up using my credit card, paid an hour of web surfing for reasons very worthwhile -- to BLOG.

I blogged. Posted two posts. Then I was called by the officer after almost an hour to discuss my concern. The solution was to run to the boarding gate the moment the plane touches down the Chicago airport. I had ten minutes to get to my connecting flight, otherwise, I'd be spending the night God-knows-where.

Sioux Falls to Chicago was about one and a half travel time. True enough, the very instant I was out of the plane, I ran as fast as my feet could get me, stopped at the nearest toilet for a quick pee (hahaha)and searched for the gate for my connecting flight. Gasping for breath, I had a big sigh of relief to know that the flight was delayed for 12 minutes. Thanks goodness!

Chicago to Boston was 2 hours and a half. I was seated between a old man who slept with his mouth open and a gorgeous blonde girl who never cared to even give me a glimpse as she busied herself with her book. So, inside the plane, when you can never start a conversation or a friendship, the best option to do is to watch people go in and out of the toilet. There were those who stayed only for few minutes inside. There was one guy who stayed for almost 30 minutes! I wondered what he just did or was about to do.

I browsed the free magazines and looked for fun stuff. Thank God, there was a Suduko game at the back page. This is one number puzzle that I like doing when I get plenty of time. I did this every night at Bo's cafe while I was still in Cebu. I also answered the crossword puzzle and found out that it was easier than those I resolved before. I had all spaces filled! Yehey!

Touched down at 9.40 PM, Boston. First thing I did was to call my friend, informing her that Eric, the guy who was pissed off moments ago, has finally arrived. I waited for almost 30 minutes but wasn't bored since I enjoyed myself watching everyone crossing the street, waiting for bus rides, talking on their phones, kissing their loved ones and thinking that in a day or two, I will be face to face with Harvard.

My friend, Ate Rose, arrived with her American husband, Gerry. It was a long-time-no-see type of meeting. The last time I saw Ate Rose was way back in 1996 when I was still a youngster who never ever thought of going to the USA. Beso-beso and lots of smiles inside the car. Had a good conversation with her ever friendly better-half. What made my eyes grow big and wide was when Gerry promised me that he'd bring me to Harvard.

They live in Melrose. And before the night of May 26, 2007 ended, I had a good dinner that made me forget the almost-close-to-catastrophe experience. I slept well.

More stories coming...


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0 comments | Saturday, May 26, 2007

What's new at payperpost? Didn't you hear the latest buzz? Something big has just been launched. If you have been earning some cash with your daily postings, there is more that you can do now to increase that. PayPerPost Direct is the newest feature in town.

This is how it works. With PPP Direct you can earn more as advertisers would just directly click the PPP direct button on your blog for a sponsored review. The only part you must do is to specify the minimum amount that you want to get paid for these Direct opportunities and stick a widget on your blog. That's it. Then wait for advertisers to click on the badge if they want you to blog for them.

PayPerPost Direct has a full negotiation and transaction auditing system so that Posties and advertisers can really hash out all the details of a post together, without any involvement from PayPerPost.

The best thing about this is, there is no middleman. This assures you that you earn what you deserve and get majority of the money. While competitors like ReviewMe charge 50-100% markup, PPP direct only charges a meager amount of 10% service fee, and nearly 5% of that is PayPal and Credit Card Fees.

Start earning now through PPP Direct and maximize your blogging experience.

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2 comments | Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I now own a domain. I have told you that. I would have wanted the www.composedgentleman.com domain, however, someone stole the name from me. I know all my blogs are popular, especially "the composed gentleman" blog. Try to google the name and all you get are my precious, not to mention, famous links. Yes yes Yahoooo!!! That's right. I am listed all over the web with those keywords.

There are many specific keywords that make my blog #1 in google search engine, and even in yahoo and msn. Thanks to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques and to SEO friends who have been helping my blog reach a status that I cannot even believe I am enjoying right now. Who doesn't want their blogs to be popular, anyway?

Two of my blogs are now in the top 50 list of Philippine blogs -- one is in the 20s (receiving about 50 to 60 thousand hits a month) and the other in the 40s (around 25 to 35 hits a month)-- and they are going up the ranks.

Why do I need such traffic? Because traffic converts to income. The more visits I get, the more possibility of getting the bucks flowing in.

I would not deny that blogging satisfies me financially and emotionally. There have been things that I own that blogging bought me. I have been receiving offers from companies that they'd pay me for a year just to get a link from my blog. Most of them contacted me to have their company products included in particular posts that I did long time ago. I couldn't blame them. Those posts appear in search engines often. They need traffic for their products, they need me. LOL. These opportunities are coming every so often. I just could not resist the offers. And thanks PayPal for managing my finances online!

Most of all, blogging satisfies me emotionally because of frequent visitors or blogger friends (i haven't met yet) who visit my blogs constantly and commenting when possible. These are people who appreciate what I do. These are people who give me love links because they share the same aspirations as mine. And to think that they come from all over the world is so so so amazing!

With my current PageRank, with all the efforts I have done and time I have spent so far, with all the blogs linking to me or to my individual posts, I don't see myself taking a rest from blogging. Also, I now have the responsibility to update my blogs for my daily readers. My posts connect me with them. I might not see their actual reactions while browsing through, but their coming back daily already connects them to me -- in a fulfilling virtual way.

My new domain? It's www.composedgentleman.net.


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2 comments | Sunday, May 20, 2007

I haven't blogged for quite time now because of a very hectic schedule. For the past weeks I have been working on a new idea that I believe will make big in the scientific world in the near future. You see, I think a lot these days and each thought comes great responsibilities, just like spider man. Only that in my case, no magical powers are involved. Only pure wits and guts.

I came up with a concept of formulating an equation that will detect levels of vegetation stress. This algorithm will measure how healthy or diseased the vegetation is, using satellite images. It is an equation that will be named as "Salas Index". Isn't it great to see your name printed on journals and scientific publications and scientists slash researchers slash academicians from around the world use and/or quote your algorithm?

As of this writing, I already have initial results and it looks very promising. I needed some more tweaks to make this perfect and then submit it for journal publications. Once approved by the scientific community, I'll be rejoicing to the max.

I cannot reveal too much for now. Someone might be spying on me here on my blog and then copy my concept before I could even have it published. LOL.

Wait for more updates!


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2 comments | Thursday, May 10, 2007

A valedictory speech from a 16-year old girl. Sounds ordinary huh! But wait. She didn't deliver the speech in an unknown remote high school somewhere but during University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman's commencement exercises last April 22, 2007, where she graduated summa cum laude with a BS Physics degree. Now that is amazing!

A mere 16-year old, who was not even 5 feet tall, who could just be graduating from high school, but is actually finishing at the top of her entire graduating college class with a GWA of 1.099.

The graduates and those present at the UP Ampitheater encouraged, inspired and compelled to make a difference in this world, after listening to this girl's valedictory speech.

The girl is Mikaela Irene Fudolig and this was her speech.

Mikaela Irene Fudolig / BS Physics Speech at the Commencement Exercises, University of the Philippines in Diliman
April 22, 2007

One of the things that strike me as being very "UP Diliman" is the way UPD students can't seem to stay on the pavement. From every street corner that bounds an unpaved piece of land, one will espy a narrow trail that cuts the corner, or leads from it. Every lawn around the buildings sports at least one of these paths, starting from a point nearest to the IKOT stop and ending at the nearest entry to the building. The trails are beaten on the grass by many pairs of feet wanting to save a fraction of a meter of traveling, no matter that doing so will exact some cost to the shoes, or, to the ubiquitous slippers, especially when the trails are new.

What do these paths say about us, UP students?

One could say that the UP student is enamored with Mathematics and Pythagoras, hence these triangles formed by the pavement and the path. Many among you would disagree.

Others could say that the UP student is naturally countercultural. And the refusal to use the pavement is just one of the myriads of ways to show his defiance of the order of things. This time, many would agree.

Still, others will say that the UP student is the model of today's youth: they want everything easier, faster, now. The walkable paths appeal to them because they get to their destination faster, and presumably, with less effort. Now that is only partly true, and totally unfair.

These trails weren't always walkable. No doubt they started as patches of grass, perhaps overgrown. Those who first walked them must have soiled their shoes, stubbed their toes, or had insects biting their legs, all in the immovable belief that the nearest distance between two points is a straight line. They might even have seen snakes cross their paths. But the soiled footwear, sore toes, and itchy legs started to conquer the grass. Other people, seeing the yet faint trail, followed. And as more and more walked the path, the grass gave in and stopped growing altogether, making the path more and more visible, more and more walkable.

The persistence of the paths pays tribute to those UP students who walked them first -- the pioneers of the unbeaten tracks: the defiant and curious few who refuse the familiar and comfortable; the out-of-the-box thinkers who solve problems instead of fretting about them; the brave who dare do things differently, and open new opportunities to those who follow.

They say how one behaved in the past would determine how he behaves in the future. And as we leave the University, temporarily or for good, let us call on the pioneering, defiant, and brave spirit that built the paths to guide us in this next phase of our life.

We have been warned time and again. Our new world that they call "adulthood" is one that's full of compromises, where success is determined more by the ability to belong than by the ability to think, where it is much easier to do as everyone else does. Daily we are bombarded with so much news of despair about the state of our nation, and the apparent, perverse sense of satisfaction our politicians get from vilifying our state of affairs. It is fashionable to migrate to other countries to work in deceptively high-paying jobs like nursing and teaching, forgetting that even at their favored work destinations, nurses and teachers are some of the lowest paid professionals. The lure of high and immediate monetary benefits in some low-end outsourcing jobs has drawn even some of the brightest UP students away from both industry and university teaching to which they would have been better suited.

Like the sidewalks and pavement, these paths are the easiest to take.

But, like the sidewalks and pavement, these paths take longer to traverse, just as individual successes do not always make for national progress. The unceasing critic could get elected, but not get the job done. The immigrant could get his visa, but disappear from our brainpower pool. The highly paid employee would be underutilized for his skills, and pine to get the job he truly wants, but is now out of his reach. And the country, and we, are poorer because of these.

Today, the nation needs brave, defiant pioneers to reverse our nation's slide to despair. Today, we must call upon the spirit that beat the tracks. Today, we must present an alternative way of doing things.

Do NOT just take courage, for courage is not enough. Instead, be BRAVE! It will take bravery to go against popular wisdom, against the clich├ęd expectations of family and friends. It will take bravery to gamble your future by staying in the country and try to make a prosperous life here. It might help if for a start, we try to see why our Korean friends are flocking to our country. Why, as many of us line up for immigrant visas in various embassies, they get themselves naturalized and settle here. Do they know something we don't?

Do NOT just be strong in your convictions, for strength is not enough. Instead, DEFY the pressure to lead a comfortable, but middling life. Let us lead this country from the despair of mediocrity. Let us not seek to do well, but strive to EXCEL in everything that we do. This, so others will see us as a nation of brains of the highest quality, not just of brawn that could be had for cheap.

Take NOT the road less traveled. Rather, MAKE new roads, BLAZE new trails, FIND new routes to your dreams. Unlike the track-beaters in campus who see where they're going, we may not know how far we can go. But if we are brave, defiant searchers of excellence, we will go far. Explore possibilities, that others may get a similar chance. I have tried it myself. And I'm speaking to you now.

But talk is cheap, they say. And so I put my money where my mouth is. Today, I place myself in the service of the University, if it will have me. I would like to teach, to share knowledge, and perhaps to be an example to new UP students in thinking and striving beyond the limits of the possible. This may only be a small disturbance in the grass. But I hope you'll come with me, and trample a new path.

Good evening, everyone.

I like the way she ended it. That she would want to teach in UP so she could share knowledge, and perhaps to be an example to new UP students. Very inspiring indeed!

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4 comments | Thursday, May 03, 2007

Mother's day on May 13th. This article is for all the moms, most especially my mom.
Not to build castles in the air, but castles made of bricks. My mom used to tell me that. She, who constantly pushes me forward and stirs me to strive to become the best that I can, is the woman who deserves every accolade of wisdom, honor and strength. I feel excited counting the days left. The second Sunday of May is celebrated for her.

In the countless times that things went south and continued to fall apart, there she was, the wonder woman by my side shielding the unwilling part of me from the falling debris. When melancholies were about to break into tears and roads seemed long and endless, she was there to make me realize tomorrow's another day. Mom was there when Superman failed to show and when any other superhero fell short to save me.

Unlike Papa, whose character could be likened to a silent harp, Mama harps her subterranean emotions out. One instance, I cried with her when she said how much she loves me and my older brother. Oh, she cried a bucket.

Mama is full of love and the abundance of that gift is what I see in her. I also see strength only the strongest person could be blessed with. Ready to shed a tear wherever, whenever, on my behalf, I am convinced that what a mother cannot do is to abandon her child in grief.

Mothers are awe-inspiring individuals. If God had to dispel all the blessings in heaven, I would ask Him to hand over the lion's share to the moms. Happiness is what they deserve for their sacrifices.

When I was still in the Philippines, a colleague named Janice would often turn sentimental in each mention of her son, Johann. Her sacrifices in making her first boy enjoy a normal childhood is both lightening and heartbreaking at the same time. When she finally came to grip that her son wasn't growing the way she hoped for him to be, it was the saddest moment. At the age of two, Johann should have passed the crawling stage and started walking, or somehow attempted to walk. He should have been responding to noise and the call of his name. He should have been the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed little boy running in the house. Sad to know, Johann is the complete opposite.

Janice agonizes in the silence of her heart. Would her son grow big and run someday? When would be the moment that he would be able to meet her when she gets home from work in front of the door, with a smile? Would he someday say 'Mama, I love you?" Would he ever know how dearly she loves him? How would Janice tell Johann that she would be delighted to hear his first words and would long for him to hug her when she says "Come my son?" Every day, Janice talks of love, patience, maybe even giving more love and giving even more patience!

Patience is what Janice needs, and Johann needs it most. It might be a battle to fight to the finish, and every battle can be won. This is no basket case, as far as I know, many have survived and ended with many happy stories to tell. Janice's comforts now lie on a dream that, in the fullness of time, her son will become someone great - someone she would be so proud of.

Nevertheless, Johann doesn't have to be a perfect son for Janice to love. Only for Johann, would she continue to explore avenues, talk about love and communicate with patience. What Janice, a sacrificing mother, cannot do is desert Johann in grief.

God bless the mothers for their unyielding love that see each one of us through. Advance Happy Mother's Day to all mothers out there!
More of my articles here.


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1 comments | Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I took this video during the project presentations of two of my colleagues. Warning though, the topic can become so technical for a layman. As an overview, the projects deal with land-cover change detection and monitoring.


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