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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Giving Bicol's Shopping Experience A New Look

What do you think? 
As part of my series of rehashed articles to fill up space on my blog and to hide the fact that I'm too lazy to write new material, here's a feature story I made last semester for our Feature Writing class. I'm no way affiliated with Embarcadero de Legazpi but this story, in my opinion, was written so wonderfully that it would be a waste not to post it. Also, I also would like to think that this would boost tourists' interest in the place if I posted this (Hello, Catapult Nation's foreign audience!). Also, this is a pretty awesome way to promote Legazpi's tourist hot spots (Hello, Embarcadero de Legazpi managament! I need a job after I graduate!)


GIVING BICOL’S SHOPPING EXPERIENCE A NEW LOOK
by Andrew Garcia Gahol
AB Journalism-3A


E
MBARCADERO DE LEGAZPI prides itself as being one of the top revolutionizing shopping malls, not only in the Bicol Region, but also in the entire Philippines.

Situated at the Legazpi City harbor area near the ravishing Kapuntukan Hill, Embarcadero is considered as the first waterfront shopping mall in the country. Zaldy Co, the visionary behind the idea of opening the first waterfront mall in the Philippines, had a passion for sea fronts and the Bicolano people. Co’s desire to provide a new shopping experience to the Bicolanos, while at the same time actualizing his love for waterfronts, encouraged him to develop Embarcadero de Legazpi.



Embarcadero de Legazpi opened just last July 18, 2009 but is already generating some buzz and acclaim. With its slogan “Embarcadero: Changing your lifestyle”, the country’s premier waterfront mall never fails to continuously transform the way we look at the Legazpi City shopping scene.

Part of the Embarcadero adventure is witnessing how well it reconciles nature and the metropolis. Embarcadero’s location close to the Kapuntukan Hill’s foliage and the Legazpi City sea port gives clients a first-hand experience of nature while shopping in the heart of the city.






What’s in store

Embarcadero isn’t just about shopping, it’s about changing your lifestyle.

What sets Embarcadero de Legazpi from other the other malls in Albay is that it hosts several top-of-the-line boutiques, restaurants and stores you will not find anywhere else in Bicol. Clothing stores such as Mango, Plains and Prints, F2M, Giordano and Cinderella are shops that you can only find in Embarcadero and nowhere else in the region.

If you’re looking for top-quality gastronomical escapades, Embarcadero also has a wide variety of restaurants to satisfy your gustatory cravings. Food places like Gerry’s Grill, Mang Inasal, Harbour Wok, Kitaro, La Mia Tazza Cafe, Tapa King,  and Bigg’s Diner are only some of the establishments in Embarcadero ready to satisfy your appetites.

Embracadero also has a first-class bowling alley, beauty salons, videoke bars, spas and clubs.

Want to indulge without spending too much? Embarcadero’s Market Place and Celebration Plaza provides clients with an assortment of products that everyone will surely enjoy. Kiosks at the Celebration Plaza serve many on-the-go food items such as ice cream, roasted nuts, waffles and donuts. The Celebration Plaza is also where you can find recreational rides like electric trains, bumper cars and merry-go-rounds for fun family time as well.

The Market Place is a where local products and souvenirs are sold for affordable prices. To promote tourism in the Bicol Region, there are stalls and souvenir shops dedicated to selling locally made products like candies, handicrafts, accessories and clothing that show the best merchandise Albay has to offer.

Embarcadero is where you could go to have a good time without even spending money.

Aside from Embarcadero being a entertainment center, it is also a place where you can take in the breath-taking bird’s eyeview of the city. The 30-meter tall lighthouse found in Embarcadero provides a panoramic view of Legazpi City including the Legazpi City seaport, Kapuntukan Hill (Sleeping Lion’s Head) as well as the majestic Mayon Volcano. At night, it becomes a spectacle of bright and colorful lights that serves as a public attraction every night. The Embarcadero lighthouse may be very well on its way to becoming Legazpi City’s most famous icon.

Other notable features in Embarcadero de Legazpi are the Paseo Palmas, a promenade inside the mall where you can walk through the entire mall while you pass the ocean side and the retail stores and kiosks in the site.





More social life

Embarcadero isn’t just an entertainment center, it is also a social cornucopia.

As part of its vision to take the Legazpi social scene to the next level, the Embarcadero management is also upholding various activities and shows at the mall in order to bring people together to interact and to be entertained.

Activities such as bikini opens, singing contests, gay pageants, dance showdowns, band competitions, senior citizen nights and the Ralanguyan are only a handful of programs that Embarcadero is currently sponsoring to showcase local talent and promote social entertainment.

Aside from the long list of activities and programs Embarcadero is holding, the shopping center also has an in-site club, Padi’s Point which is open every night welcoming club enthusiasts and partygoers all over the city.

Embarcadero supports enriching the social activities in the city in order for Legazpi to become at a par with major metropolitan areas like Metro Manila and Metro Cebu in terms of the social scene and night life. This way, Embarcadero is also promoting Albay tourism.


Embarcadero has come a long way from its grand opening last July, 2009. It is only more than a year old but it is already changing the way the Bicolano defines fun and adventure. Embarcadero is definitely one of Bicol’s precious gems. In just a span of one year, this pioneering shopping center has already introduced the future of shopping to Bicol and has definitely put Legazpi City on the map.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Harmonizing Medicine With Music

What do you think? 
This is another article I wrote for Interpretive Writing class. Enjoy.


HARMONIZING MEDICINE WITH MUSIC
By ANDREW GARCIA GAHOL
AB JOURNALISM-3A


The mind is just as significant as any other form of conventional therapy that may be given to patients during rehabilitation. The brain is the body’s natural drugstore. In certain states, the brain produces natural chemicals called neurotransmitters that work hand in hand with medicine to improve the patient’s health. The more positive the mind’s disposition, the more effective the patient’s rehabilitation is.





Rehabilitation calls for the restoration of body systems that have been damaged or affected by disease. In this process, treatment regimens and therapies are given to patients.

However, it is difficult to neglect the physical distress caused by traditional therapy. Patients are administered with chemical substances to stop the spread of diseases, undergo surgery to remove tumors and are required to lie in bed for a long time to convalesce. These situations give rise to depression, loss of hope, anxiety, fear and physical pain. When the mind is immersed in stressful conditions like these, it’s harder for the body to recover. This is where MUSIC THERAPY comes into play.

Music therapy encourages the brain to get involved. It’s a process in which music is used to develop the physical, emotional, mental, social and spiritual well-being of a client and improve his health. By allowing the patient to listen to music, the brain is rendered active in helping the body recover. This is due to the correlation of the facets of music – pitch, rhythm, dynamics and timbre – to the responses of the brain. 

Sounds affect the mind in very subtle ways. Songs with fast tempos excite the nervous system while songs with slow tempos calm it down. High pitches in songs result to higher vivacity in clients. The quality of sound, like that of the saxophone or the piano, may also evoke feelings of relaxation and positive thinking. Hearing is not only a mechanical phenomenon; it is also a perceptual event.

Music therapy is now an established health profession. It works by assessing the client’s medical needs and “prescribing” the appropriate musical genre to answer them.




Accessing the body’s drugstore


For cancer patients in rehabilitation, pain management could be a grueling undertaking. Dr. Deforia Lane, director of music therapy at University Hospitals of Cleveland Ireland Cancer Center, says “The brain uses the same neurotransmitter to send the sensations of both pain and music. If both elements are received at the same time, neither can reach the brain with full intensity. Hence pain is felt less intensely, so patients may experience a decreased dependence on pain medications”.

Listening to feel-good music like smooth jazz triggers the brain to produce neurotransmitters called ‘endorphins’ that serve as the body’s natural analgesic (pain-relievers). If you’re a cancer patient experiencing pain from therapy, Chuck Mangione’s jazz number, “Feels So Good” is a song highly recommended for you to listen to. The blissful, soothing sound of the flugelhorn and saxophone in the song activate the release of endorphins in the bloodstream that reduce the amount of the pain caused by surgeries or chemotherapy.

Endorphins in the blood also increase the activity of the immune system's natural killer cells which provide the surveillance system that guards the body against newly forming cancer cells of all types.
Studies indicate that classical music is able to lessen the effects of sleep disorders like insomnia by triggering the brain to produce ‘melatonin’, the neurotransmitter in charge of regulating sleep cycles. Rehab clients having sleeping difficulties due to the therapy-induced pain may listen to Johann Sebastian Bach’s classical piece “Minuet in G Major” to help them relax more easily. Classical music from the baroque period causes the heart beat and pulse rate to calm down to the beat of the music therefore making it easier to sleep.
It was discovered that slow music like “Minuet” could slow the heartbeat and the breathing rate as well as bring down blood pressure, making it possible to alleviate the troubles caused by anxiety disorders.



Psychedelic, man!


Psychedelic music is a genre of music that became popular in the 60s along with spiritual freedom, creative expression and many attempts to reach a higher level of consciousness. Psychedelic music gained notoriety for its role in enhancing the neurological effects of recreational hallucinogens like LSDs and marijuana in “expanding the mind”. In rehabilitation, one does not need these addictive drugs to enjoy psychedelic pop.

It has been found out that listening to psychedelic music such as that of Pink Floyd or The Beatles develops one’s creativity, spiritual being and optimistic attitude. Psychedelic music is an experimentation of sounds and lyrics that aim to “paint pictures” in the psyche. With psychedelic music, people become more spiritually introspective, and subsequently, create a more positive outlook on life.

When one hears the surreal lyricism and dreamlike arrangement in The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”, the listener is taken to a delightful realm of different sights and sounds. Psychedelic pop has a profound effect on the brain. Recent studies say that psychedelic music sets off the discharge of both endorphins and ‘serotonin’ (neurotransmitter responsible for the feeling of well-being and happiness) needed to uphold healing and pain management in patients.




Upbeat it!


Grooving to upbeat and rhythmic songs like the Michael Jackson classic, “Beat It” isn’t only a great way to find some extra energy, it’s also a useful procedure in physical therapy.

Patients who have been in car crashes, shootouts and other severe physical accidents sometimes end up having ruptured nerves or torn muscles and thus lose some of their motor skills after surgery or intensive care. People rehabilitating from these incidents have great difficulty in recovering their motor skills and thus need physical and occupational therapy to help them in retrieve the physical facilities that they’ve lost.

Rhythmic music’s role in physical and occupational therapy is vital. Rhythmic and upbeat music aid clients regain their motor skills. The music, in conjunction with physical exercises that physical therapists render, encourages the patients to move and train their movement skills.
Rhythm organizes physical movements when it collaborates with the brain and the body. For example, the body contains rhythms in the heartbeat, while running and during breathing. An autistic boy who could not tie his shoes learned how on the second try when the task of tying his shoes was put to a song. The rhythm helped organize his physical movements in time. The same principle applies with people in movement rehabilitation. When upbeat music is played, the more effectively the body is able to cooperate with the brain in making motor responses.

-----O-----

The task of music therapy is an indispensable contribution in today’s rehabilitation protocols. It stimulates the often untapped powers of the most profound source of medicine there is – THE BRAIN. Its array of pharmacological benefits is far more sophisticated than any capsule available in the market today.

While invasive surgery may cause pain, the endorphins released by the brain have been proven to be three times more effective as a pain-killer than morphine. Chemotherapy may kill cancer cells but it does not discriminate. It will damage even the cells in your body that isn’t cancer. Neurotransmitters, on the other hand, destroy and monitor cancer cells without compromising other essential cells in the body

Music therapy fills the gap that traditional medical procedures fail to recognize. When we allow music to invite our brain in promoting our health, we do not only recover faster, we also pay less for the therapy that our own body could’ve covered for in the first place.

The brain knows your health better than any pill. It’s never a bad thing to utilize its natural prowess.

Oil Apocalypse

What do you think? 
One of the write-ups I done last semester for Intrepretive Writing class. Hope you guys find this insightful.


OIL APOCALYPSE
by Andrew Garcia Gahol
AB Journalism – 3A


Albert Einstein once said “You cannot solve this world’s problems with the same thinking that created them”. Ironically, one set of scientists are working to cure cancer while another set are developing toxic products that may cause cancer. The same paradox applies to our obsession for petroleum. Our desire for oil-driven technologies is the same desire that will destroy the Industrial Age as we know it.




Fuel is the fuel that drives modern society. It is the dynamic force behind absolutely every form of technology in the world. Without the power of petroleum, there would be no gasoline to power our automobiles, nothing to run machines and appliances existing in the world today, nothing to power commercial manufacturing equipment and even nothing to handle generators that create other energy forms such as electric, hydroelectric, wind, solar, etc. In short, without petroleum, civilization would still be in the Dark Ages.

The Hubbert Peak Theory is an idea formulated by M. King Hubbert in the 1950s which holds that the amount of petroleum available on earth is finite and therefore will eventually dwindle until it is completely exhausted. ‘Peak oil’ is the point in time when the maximum rate of global petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline. According to experts, considering the rate of oil consumption the world is experiencing right now, the globe is expected to experience peaking within the next 50 years. This is not a good sign for humankind
.
The global population consumes 80 million barrels of oil a day – the amount earth stored in nine million years. Of the 65 largest oil-producing countries in the world, 54 have passed their peak production. 
Peaking is inevitable. Man’s error lies in not doing enough to mitigate the effects of peak oil and failing to construct enough economic and political policies which could help extend the time before it actualizes.

Our craze for petroleum has been making the peaking process faster. We as a global community must now face the imminent consequence of an “oil apocalypse” when oil shall totally cease to exist.


Oil wars


The addiction to oil was one of the factors that led to the U.S. occupation and invasion of Iraq. War is a terrifying offshoot of peak oil. In an article at a website called Grinning Planet, Richard Heinberg discussed four kinds of war-for-oil conflicts expected to happen because of peak oil.

First is war between rich oil-consuming nations and poorer oil-producing nations. Second is conflict between consuming nations. Third is the occurrence of civil wars within oil-producing nations for control of resources. Last is terrorism which may take place among rich oil-consuming nations and non-state entities in oil-producing nations. All of these wars are the upshots of the rising demand of oil in a world where supplies are diminishing. As the stock of a commodity lessens, it becomes more valuable. Nations will fight to the very last drop of precious oil in order to survive even if it violates international policy.

Kelvin Rodolfo, professor emeritus at the University of Illinois in Chicago, compares oil obsession to drug addiction, “The true addict will do whatever it takes to get his drugs, even kill if necessary.” 



Return to the Dark Ages


Petroleum rules all forms of technology. Technology is a global lifestyle. What happens then when the driving force behind technology suddenly disappears? 

Oil depletion is not an evolutionary process; it is a revolutionary shock upon the very foundation of modern civilization. It will happen far quickly than the time it took for oil consumption to peak. Whenever we engross ourselves to oil-powered technology, we become a leap closer to the demise of petroleum. When there is no more fuel to run our machines, the industrial world would be no more. The death of modern technology would be the death of everything that stems from it like transportation, computers, electronics and mass-production.

It took 50-300 million years for these non-renewable sources to form, and yet we have burned nearly half of all oil reserves on the planet in merely 125 years or so. If oil consumption continues at the same or faster rate, oil exhaustion does not seem to be far away.

When oil is no longer available, the transition would be instantaneous. In a matter of less than a decade, after the last drop of fuel is used, we will experience a decline in civilization so unprecedented that humanity could not possibly handle it successfully. No oil means no technology. With the aggravating condition of fuel in the 21st century, a second Dark Age may be very well ahead of us.



No alternatives


Once these non-renewable sources of energy cease to exist, there is no alternative form of energy powerful or cheap enough to take over where petroleum has left off. According to studies, alternative forms of energy such us biofuel, biodiesel, solar power, hydro power, nuclear energy and other organic-based fuels only constitute about 2% of the total energy being utilized globally. This means that once oil has dried out, energy substitutes cannot possibly fill in the large shoes that petroleum has abandoned. Oil is such an almighty natural resource. Of all energy forms in reality, it provides the most concentrated energy value, the greatest quantities available, the easiest to produce and the most versatile uses that can be employed in almost every contraption and device on earth.

Even if today’s technology provides us with hybrid cars that don’t run on gasoline or breakthroughs in optimizing the utilization of hydroelectric, wind, solar or nuclear power, all of these innovations combined simply cannot surpass everything that petroleum has accomplished throughout time, not even close. The peak oil threat is a rare case in human history where human modernism and know-how cannot possibly compete with geological and physical reality. 



Addressing the issue


Man will always have a slow yet sure effect on nature. But when the time comes when the environmental distress that man has caused piles up, collapses and buries humanity under its weight, there is no prospect for resurgence. This is the message that the global community does not recognize enough.

How can our politicians promote policies in mitigating the impending crisis of peak oil when they are too busy focusing on corruption-oriented agenda? How can our scientists create options and feasible energy alternatives when scientific trends focus on innovations that exploit the very petroleum that is plummeting into obscurity? How can we as a global community prepare for this oil apocalypse when we simply do not know enough about energy and do not initiate the fight against the peak oil effects? Only man can help himself overcome struggles even of these catastrophic proportions. The world must prepare itself for the blow even before it strikes hard.

The malignant omen brought about by peak oil is an iconoclast to man’s idea of the planet as a boundless cornucopia.

When there is global concern, there will subsequently be global action.

We may not be able to stop oil from vanishing completely, but we have the capacity to slow down the process. We must advocate conservation of energy and endorse of resource-friendly innovations like hybrid cars and biofuels right now. When these things are supported on a global scale, we will be able to slow down the dwindling of oil, and even perhaps come up with valuable time to create ways to lessen the impact of peak oil. The peak oil crisis should not only serve as a threat but also a global challenge.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

What's on my iPod: GOLD MOTEL

What do you think? 
If you live in the Bicol region along with millions of other people experiencing the lovely backlash of the Philippine cold front, then you'll know that sunshine is nothing but a remote possibility.And during those days when I feel like a corpse since the sun's rays can't seem to permeate through layers upon layers of dark clouds, I resort to music and let it do all the heating up inside the house.

The last thing I need in this dreary, disconsolate weather is the Twilight Saga OST. So I guess the best way to go is find music that is summery and sweet or anything at all to get my mind out of the cold.

Luckily, Gold Motel does just that.


Gold Motel is a Chicago-based indie/pop/alternative rock band and brainchild of singer-songwriter Greta Morgan of The Hush Sound. 

What I love about Gold Motel is how their music seem to transcend even today's pop trends. In a time dominated by club-oriented music, they prove to be something that need not compete with current pop acts to be considered relevant. Gold Motel gives you the opportunity to just sit back, drink some iced tea or pluck your armpit hair and relax. Whether you're a college student like me, a world-class slacker (like me), an office  worker on board the MRT or simply a modest stripper working at Lady Anne, Gold Motel caters to every discriminating taste and  musical interest.

Inspired by the moods of summer, their first album Summer House is a collection of high-spirited songs that range from the highly animated to the dreamlike. The band's pop hooks infused with Morgan's melancholic vocals mesh to create a warm and relaxing feel to their music. Their sound is also heavily influenced by the California beach scene and jangle pop.

Notable tracks from their record are the lively beach anthem "Summer House", "Perfect In My Mind", and the rhythmically playful song "We're On The Run".

So if you're an eclectic music connoisseur looking for a new and refreshing kind of pop or just someone wanting to get away from the cold weather, Gold Motel is definitely the pop/vintage/rock fix you need to satisfy your audio needs.



"Summer House" by Gold Motel is a pretty goshdarn way to get rid of the rainy day blues.


To catch more of GOLD MOTEL's music, check out their website: www.goldmotel.com


Hello, blog reader!

What do you think? 
Hi there, potential blog follower. The catapult is still being built. It will become functional real soon. While this blog is still under construction, please enjoy this picture of two dogs in a bathtub.