Scrutinizing Google Pagsasalin (Translation) Feature

Let’s take one of the most recent posts:  Our Own Voice, Issue # 35

Here are translations of some of the passages:

  • Short story title “If” is translated “Kung”
  • “Essay” is “Sanaysay”
  • “Joy, joy, joy” is translated as “Joy, kagalakan, kagalakan”
  • “Dear blog readers” becomes “Mahal na mga mambabasa ng blog.”

Now to one of this week’s most popular posts:  “Typhoon Pedring and TV Patrol”

  • “Negligible rain” becomes “bale-wala ulan” (Self doesn’t know why, this one makes her laugh and laugh)
  • “Here, the streets are running” becomes “Narito, ang mga kalye ay tumatakbo.”
  • ” . . .  if somewhat inchoherently” becomes “kung medyo incoherently” (Bwah.  Ha.  Haaa!)
  • “showed no compunction” becomes “nagpakita ng walang pagsisisi.”

On to sidebar!

  • Interview is “Interbyu.”
  • “Dearest Mum” is “Dearest Walang Imik” (Belly laugh!)
  • “Good Ideas” is “Magandang Ideya.”
  • The TV show “Justified” becomes “Pantay.”
  • Necessary Fiction becomes Kinakailangan Fiction.
  • “Log in” is “Mag-log in.”

Oh, well, some of these are really amusing.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Our Own Voice, Issue # 35

This week has been super-exciting:  first came Typhoon Pedring, then the PAL strike.  Self discovered a 180-peso whole body massage, at a spa on the second floor of the Mayfair Building.  She tasted her first spicy pork sisig (Dee-lish!)

Today was packed with happenings, from early early breakfast at Santa Fe Resort, to dinner this evening with La Salle’s Elsie Coscolluela at Café Uma.

L’Fisher hosted two wedding receptions.  The lobby was almost wall-to-wall suitcases:  a large group of students from a private college in Iloilo checked in.  According to the front desk, they reserved 43 rooms.

Today self also received news that Our Own Voice, Issue # 35, is now live.

This issue has two of self’s newest short shorts, “The Seeker of Buried Treasure” and “If.”


  • Aileen Ibardaloza-Cassinetto’s “Welcome Reader” essay (“The world, according to Google, has about 130 million unique books.”)
  • Terry Hong’s conversation with Jessica Hagedorn
  • Poetry by OOV Editor Reme Grefalda and JoAnn Balingit
  • a gallery of visual art by Geejay Langlois
  • M. R. Weddum’s Notes on the Rizal Holdings at the Library of Congress

Joy, joy, joy.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Santa Fe Resort, Barangay Granada, Bacolod City

The chef's name is "Junior"

Today, it behooved self to become really, really nosy.  Why?  Because people here are so patient with her!  She feels like a little girl!  No, in fact, a baby!  A baby who’s come new-wrapped from the great U.S. of A.!  Who knows nothing, nothing at all, especially about practical matters like:

When is the best time to plant a mango tree?

Why aren’t there more flower farms on Negros?

And:  How does one cook sisig?

So, she surfaced in Crocodile Haven a little after 7 a.m.  Only one employee was in the restaurant, which was not yet open.  Fluster, fluster.  People started scurrying.  Everyone recognizes her from when she was a little girl.  Never mind that self is now very old.  In fact, ancient.  Here, she’ll always be Inday Batchoy.

The waiter’s name is Joey.  He is the hinablos (nephew, self presumes) of the kusinero.  He had just begun to walk to the kitchen with self’s order when she grabbed her camera and decided to follow him.  And she burst into the kitchen and —  TA RA!  There she was for the first time, in the kitchen of Santa Fe Resort!

In the picture above, Leo the Lifeguard is the man whose back is turned.  He was having breakfast: a small plate of bihon.  Self ordered pork sisig.  It turned out spicy —  first time self has tried pork sisig that was spicy, but she liked it.

Looking down on the Big Pool from Crocodile Haven

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.



Dear Merlie,

Self is deeply apologetic that you never received your author copies for your wonderful poem in GOING HOME TO A LANDSCAPE, the Filipino women’s anthology published by Calyx Books.  Now, self is heading to the LBC Office in Bacolod with the books you should have received, ages ago.  But before she mails the books, she just has to re-read your poem, “Odysseus Cripple at Bantayan Island.”  It touches self like never before!  Here it is, for the edification of dear blog readers:

“Odysseus Cripple at Bantayan Island”

The light, the light here how pitiless
it burns from the vast skies at noon.
All day the heated wind
presses its salt kiss on the skin.
Bantayan Island, not such a way
from home, West of Leyte where I come.
Straggler though I am, this isle still
is my own — the starveling dogs, the armies
of sandcrabs guarding their holes,
the children too, brown and thin
with sunburnished hair, lilting seasounds
in their speeches, my bittersweet familiars.
Not that one — white and blue-eyed traveler
hefting himself by his two good arms
on crutches of steel, dragging his body
on shriveled legs inch by careful inch,
Odysseus cripple, wandered from his own
ice-locked continent to this atoll
east north west south of Read the rest of this entry »

Typhoon Pedring and “TV Patrol”

Last night, after two weeks of negligible rain, the heavens opened.

Today, it continued to pour, with a vengeance.

Self thanks her lucky stars she is in Bacolod, not Manila.  She watched “TV Patrol”:  Manila looked abysmal, miserable:  flooded streets and over two million people rendered homeless in the Greater Manila Metropolitan Area.  Here, while the streets are running, self is at least not ankle-deep in water when she steps out of a cab.

Whenever it rains, self finds herself in the New Museum Café.  No rum for her this time, however.  Instead, Dory with Chef Gemma’s special pesto sauce, green salad and thin slices of corn bread.  Also, fresh orange shake.  Also, Talisay ham.  The dish looked so beautiful self almost cried at having to eat it.

This evening, self belatedly learned that “TV Patrol” was nominated for an Emmy! For its coverage of the 2010 Philippine hostage crisis.

Apparently, it was nominated in a new category, The International Emmy Awards.

Yay!  Self loves “TV Patrol”!  She remembers when it first began (She even wrote about it in a short story, for heavens sake!):  there were all these intrepid (nosy) reporters, lifting the newspapers covering the faces of vagrants sleeping around the Caloocan monumento.  Such is the ability of the pinoy to rise to the occasion:  each homeless person who had been thus rudely awakened by having a microscope shoved in his/her face nevertheless gamely attempted to answer the reporters’ questions, if somewhat incoherently.

Reporters also showed no compunction about thrusting microphones into the grieving faces of murder victims’ families.  And the really astounding thing is:  People actually answered the reporters!  Even though wracked with grief!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Early Sunday Morning in Talisay

Self attended mass in Talisay.

Well, it was a choice either of attending 6 p.m. mass in Sum-ag, or the 8 a.m. mass in Talisay.

Someone advised her that it would be better to attend the mass in Talisay.

So she awoke bright and early.  And when she arrived, it was well after 8.  Oh no!  Self thought:  you should have gotten up earlier!

The church was packed with people.  They were all lined up to receive communion.  Gee, self thought.  That must have been a short mass!  She looked around to see if there was someone she could ask.  Ah, here’s someone!  A woman sitting in self’s pew, with her eyes closed, apparently saying the rosary.  Self slid over to her.

“Excuse me,” she began.  She had to repeat herself three times.

The woman’s eyes reluctantly opened.  She looked at self with utter shock.  Or amazement.  Or perhaps —  bwah.  ha.  ha! —  admiration?

“Do you know if there’s another mass after this one?” self inquired.

“Yes,” the woman said.  “At 8 a.m.”

Which then confused self even more, because the time on her watch said 8:20.

“You mean,” self asked, “the mass is just beginning?”  Which was really strange, unless masses in Talisay begin with communion–  ?

“No,” the woman said.  “This is the 7 a.m. mass.”

Whoaaa!  You mean, masses in Talisay last an hour and a half?

“There’ll be another mass right after this one,” the woman said.  “The 8 a.m. mass.”


Self slid away from the woman and attempted to look perfectly nonchalant.  Even, prayer-ful.

But, she just had to ask this poor woman one last question.  She just had to.  She sneaked a glance at the woman, and she had once again closed her eyes.  Her lips were moving silently.

Self slid over once again.  “Excuse me,” she said again.  Again the woman’s eyes opened, but this time, much much slower than before.

“I just have to ask one last question.  I promise, after this one, I won’t ask you anything more.  Is it OK to take pictures?  During the mass?”

The woman nodded.


Self slid away.

There is another funny story to tell, about what happened during the collection.  But now self has an appointment to keep.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Surrealism and Nostalgia

. . .  I went over to the wrought iron gate and began to watch the traffic.  And then I saw my old ’74 Impala go by, looking worse for the wear, its paint peeling and with dents on the fender and doors, moving very slowly, at a crawl, as if it were looking for me along the night streets of Mexico City, and it had such an effect on me that then I did start to shake, grabbing the rails of the gate so I wouldn’t fall, and sure enough, I didn’t fall, but my glasses fell off, my glasses slipped off my nose and dropped onto a shrub or a plant or a rosebush, I don’t know, I just heard the noise and I knew they hadn’t broken, and then I thought that if I bent down to get them, by the time I got up the Impala would be gone, but if I didn’t I wouldn’t be able to see who was driving that ghost car, the car I’d lost in the final hours of 1975, the early hours of 1976.  And if I couldn’t see who was driving it, what good would it do to have seen it?  And then something even more surprising occurred to me.  I thought:  my glasses have fallen off.  I thought:  until a moment ago I didn’t know I wore glasses.  I thought:  now I can perceive change.

—  Roberto Bolaño, The Savage Detectives


And this one, dear blog readers, is true:

The Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) reported yesterday that the condition of the 21-foot crocodile “Lolong” has improved after it was earlier reported to be suffering from stress, although the animal has still refused to eat.

Rhodina Villanueva for The Philippine Star, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011

Murcia: The Farm in the Rain

The road threading the sugar cane fields is just a dirt track

Self told her Manong Genray that she wanted to see her father’s farm, Oliva Dos.  So he took her today, Sunday.

There were three huge trucks lined up, one was already completely filled with cane.

The canes grow so thick in the fields that one can’t walk anywhere between them.  It’s the start of the milling season.  The worth of a field can be estimated by how long it takes to complete milling.  Last year, some of self’s relatives didn’t finish milling their cane until April or May.  The lousy fields, the ones whose owners don’t care, get done by December.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Gifts, Part 2

The Church in Sum-ag

Every small town in Negros has a bakery like this one

Charming Waitress

Kanlaon, I

Kanlaon, 2 (Looks like it might rain)

Kanlaon, 3 (Mystery)

Kanlaon, 4 (The Field and the Volcano)

Ladder 3, 9/11

Self remembers searching from one bookstore to another:  Kepler’s, Barnes & Noble, Borders, even Safeway, searching for a copy of The New York Times.  Not one single copy remained, anywhere. Sold out, sold out, sold out. The glass entrance to Kepler’s Books was a wall of newspaper front pages. The same photographs, almost:  the planes hitting the towers. She could kick herself for not having a camera.

The following day, self went searching again, and this time she was succesful.  The Sept. 12, 2001 copy of The New York Times is something self has hung on to, for 10 years now.  Every time she leafs through it, she thinks how amazing it is that there were so many detailed and informative articles about a cataclysm not even one day old, even lists of names of the firemen who were known to have perished.  So soon!  All the reporters must have been pulling double-time, no doubt finding in work the only palliative for grief.

Here is self in Bacolod.  It’s just past 6 p.m.  The city is gearing up for the Masskara Festival, an annual extravaganza of song and dance.  Occasionally, self hears fireworks.  Bands play in restaurants, the music spilling over into the street.  She’s had a busy day.  She was up early this morning to hear mass at San Sebastian Cathedral.  There was a male choir singing in exquisite harmony.

She finally made it back to her hotel around 5.  She ordered room service, changed, and switched on the TV.  As luck would have it, she landed on a Discovery Channel documentary of the men of New York Fire Department’s Ladder 3, most of whom perished on 9/11.

There’s the engine the men rode, nicknamed “Big Red.”  It’s just a wreck, crushed by the collapse of the North Tower.  It’s now in the 9/11 museum at Ground Zero.

That day, it was “riding heavy” because several men who were off-shift had come in to volunteer their help.  They hung on, anywhere they could.  Twelve firemen, including Ladder 3 Captain Paddy Brown, perished in the collapse of the North Tower.

Mike Moran was one of six surviving members of Ladder 3.  He is alive only because he had just ended his shift and had returned to his home, just outside Manhattan.  “It was just another Tuesday,” he says, “until 9/11.”

343 firemen lost their lives that day, resulting, Moran says, in the loss of “about a hundred-fifty years of experience.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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