Ondoy’s Insights, Part II

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

As a new storm develops off the east coast of Mindanao, threatening to bring more rains to flood-wracked Manila, I’ve been forced to think of how I should deal with future emergencies.  While my house came off OK, my street is in a low-lying area and we’re in a cul de sac that’s easily cut off by flooding. Water came within 2 inches of entering the house. I believe in preparing now for a flood that’s possibly worse than the last one.  And as Cat and I helped out the the CFC (Couples for Christ) center in Sucat, I also observed some things that bear thinking of for the next disaster.

Home Strategy:
I don’t quite foresee flooding here on a level with that experienced in Marikina or Cainta, as the density of houses is not as great and drainage probably better.  We have a roofdeck and my sister’s house next door is roomy and has a 2nd storey; no problem with where to run. My main problems will be isolation, as the floodwaters block the street, and loss of electricity over a period of several days. 

Solutions: lay in a stock of canned food and bottled water good for 2-3 days at least, draw up a checklist of what needs to be done/stuff to be moved should floodwaters enter the house, have some clothes ready packed, have a first aid kit with lots of disinfectant (for injuries, and if I have to wade out/in). That’s done. (Is this kind of planning easier because I’m a gamer? I think so. Games make you think strategically, and I think that’s as valuable as stuff you learn in college.)

Observations on Relief Program at CFC:
It was great to work with the volunteers at the CFC center, inspiring and kind of humbling to see that kind of bayanihan spirit still so vigorous.  So many donations, so many volunteers!  Filipinos do shine in adversity.  I think though that we can still improve the way we do volunteer relief work.

Item: I think we should reconsider the idea of sending flood victims instant noodle packs.  I seriously doubt if many of them have the facilities to cook or even heat water.  Same observation goes with oatmeal and rice. Perhaps we could focus on sending biscuits, and bread – stuff that people can eat without preparation or need for utensils.

I sort and pack food with the young volunteers Donating raw ingredients or stuff that needs preparation like instant noodles maybe should go to groups that are running soup kitchens.  Anton Sheker’s group also had a good idea – they prepared hardboiled eggs.  Thousands of eggs. Hardboiled eggs are a great relief food – they’re nutritious, they’re easy to eat, and they come in their own sanitary packaging.

If you’re planning to give cooked food, cook it in a way that maximizes shelf life.  You don’t know how long it will take for the food to reach the victims, so a dish that will spoil in just a few hours is sub-optimal.  The funny thing is, we Filipinos actually have the exact solution for this in our traditional culinary repertoire already! They’re called adobo and paksiw.  Cooking in vinegar practically pickles the food, letting it last for days even without refrigeration.

Item: Canned goods are only useful if they can be opened.  I wonder how many victims have can openers? Not many, I’d bet.  That’s why I told Cat to select only cans with easy-open tops for donation and for our own emergency rations.

Item: Not all PET bottles are equal.  Some brands come in relatively flimsy bottles, and we had bottles cracking and leaking as we packed them.  Bottled water for donation to relief efforts should be chosen for the sturdiness of their bottles as well as cost and quality. Also, I believe it’s far more useful to send 1-liter bottles.  Less waste afterward, for one, and more is better. 

All that plastic ... where will it end up?Item: Next time, perhaps advisories could be sent to would-be donors on what is appropriate to donate, and to sort the items to be given.  One of the overwhelming tasks facing the volunteers was the need to sort the great piles of clothing donated into packages by user – adult males, adult females, male children, female children.  Next I donate clothes I’ll put my shirts in one bag, shorts and pants in another, and Cathy will do the same with her items.]

The mountainous task of sorting clothes

Item: I think we could also have used more coordination.  One of the things local governments or homeowners’ associations can do in the future is to hold seminars on dealing with disaster, both as victims and as aid volunteers.  The people at the center were actually getting swamped with the number of donations and volunteers. 

If team leaders had been assigned to each task/area we could have been much more efficient.  I got assigned to pack food and water, and I was able to speed things up by organizing the young volunteers into an assembly line – A, ready the bag, B, you put in item1 and pass to C, who puts in item2, and so on until the pack is complete and ready for transport. Before I went in the kids were all over the place scrounging for items, each making up pack on their own.

Human conveyor belt!

Come to think of it, this is where training in organizations like the Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts or heck, even the much-dreaded CMT could’ve been put to good use.  I remember hating my CMT with a passion – what the heck was I supposed to learn baking my brains out in the sun in formation? If they’d used the time instead to do stuff like teach us CPR, basic rescue work, swimming and water rescue techniques, team-building and leadership, stuff like that, I would’ve  been much more motivated to attend my CMT classes.

I don’t think we can deny any longer that global warming has made our weather more violent.  And it’s going to get worse before it gets better, if at all.    Best thing to do is be prepared for the next blow.

And for that lesson – thank you, Ondoy.

Ondoy’s Insights, Part I

From TIME: “Last weekend's flood was in large part the result of the capital's poor drainage and sanitation systems, which have been neglected by several successive administrations in power. As Ketsana rained down upon Manila, sewers that were clogged up by plastic bags and other refuse led to roads becoming rivers and gardens lagoons. Video images of desperate people riding floating pontoons of garbage down inundated streets were a sign not just of the consequences of the flood, but also its causes….”

When will the Filipino people ever learn?

As Cat and I packed relief goods for the victims of Typhoon Ondoy (aka Ketsana), I had to comment on the irony of the situation.  The priority is to get those goods to the people who desperately need them as quickly as possible, and in a useful condition.  Plastic bags are a cheap and practical solution to this, as they’re light, cheap, and for packing food and bottles of drinking water, watertight. 

That last consideration has now gained in importance because the floodwaters in many districts have tested positive for E. coli bacteria. As I told Cat, I don’t think we have a choice right now but use plastic. The other side of the coin is that the relief goods may be coming packaged in the very things that will contribute to the next mega-flood. Moreover, a lot of the items come in – you guessed it, non-biodegradable plastic or foil wrappers.

I hope the affected people realize this and take care to dispose of the waste packaging properly.  I want to help. As one whose house was almost flooded, escaping by only 2 inches and perhaps an hour of rain, I have this distinct feeling of ‘there but for the grace of God go I’ for the victims.  But the thought that I may be handing the weapon that will drive me out of my home to unwitting perpetrators sends a chill down my spine.

Ten Easy Things You Can Do for the Environment

Sunday, September 20, 2009

DSC06646I just blogged about participating in the International Coastal Cleanup, and while I hope more people join the succeeding ICC’s, I realize not everyone can. If you’re a concerned citizen of Mother Earth but lack the time or resources to join some of the more visible efforts, you can still do your share right at home.  Here are ten easy, common-sense things you can do to help protect the environment:

  1. Segregate your waste.  At the very least, segregate your biodegradable garbage – trimmings from meat, fruits and vegetables, spoiled food, paper or carton that’s been used to wrap food – from the dry/non-biodegradable stuff like plastic. Better yet, practice composting your organic waste if you like gardening.

  2. Don’t litter!  What does it cost you to find a trash can when you need one? A few calories’ worth of effort?  Compare that to the calories that would’ve nourished a child, if the plastic you threw away hadn’t killed that fish … Yes, that’s how much life can be connected.  Keep a plastic bag or small trash bin in your car, put your trash in there while you’re driving or traveling, and empty it when you get home. How easy is that?

  3. Be a responsible vacationist. When you travel, leave no litter behind you, and take home nothing that should remain in its natural environment. If you go to a beach, take care not to step on corals because this will damage them.  And no matter how tempting, don’t try to take any wildlife home. It’s unlikely you can keep it alive, whatever it is, and taking it from its environment means you’re not letting it breed.  
  4. Get your cat neutered, and better yet, keep it indoors. Stray cats are hell on our bird population.  The Philippines is one of the countries that has the most diverse bird populations, many of them unique to our islands.  As cats are very prolific and likely to become feral, they are in position to really threaten our wild birds.  So keep your cat where it can’t do harm to our wildlife, and keep it from filling the neighborhood with stray kittens!

  5. Buy groceries in bigger packages.  Even as we push for more eco-friendly packaging, we cannot help but get some of our necessities in plastic or styrofoam, etc.  But you create less waste if you buy less packaging – so buy in bigger quantities when you can.  The tingi system may seem cheaper, but only until you realize that a) the packaging costs more than the product in those tiny sachets; and b) it’s Mother Earth that pays the price in the end for all that plastic.

  6. Don’t be a consumer of endangered animals and plants.  You might say I’m not one of those, I never buy tiger skin or ivory anyway – but what about other products within your range?  From your dinner plate to your living room to your aquarium, ask yourself if there’s anything there that shouldn’t be. 

    • Don’t eat sharksfin, or other endangered species like the mameng (giant wrasse), or pawikan (sea turtle).  You’ll be doing yourself good too, as sharksfin tends to have high concentrations of mercury, and sea turtle meat is sometimes toxic.

    • Don’t use Chinese medicines that contain products like bear gall, rhino horn, tiger’s, er, privates, seahorses, and the like.

    • Don’t keep endangered species as pets.  If you want something other than a cat or dog, choose something that’s bred for the pet industry, not a wild-caught animal.  If it’s very unusual, chances are it comes from the wild.

    • If you’re an aquarist, ask reliable sources if the fish you want is farm-raised. Especially if you want to start a salt water aquarium. Some saltwater species can be bred in captivity now.  Most, though, cannot; buying them encourages, among other things, cyanide fishing.

    • Don’t purchase shells and corals when you go to a beach resort, or collect live ones. 

  7. Be a locavore.  Prefer to eat stuff that’s been grown or caught near where you are, and in season.  Save the imported stuff and out-of-season fruits for special occasions. Doing so not only gets you cheaper food, it means you’re not contributing to the carbon emissions caused by shipping that food from where it was produced to where you are.

  8. Replace your laundry soap with an eco-friendly organic soap, e.g. the Victoria brand laundry soap. 

  9. Reduce the time you keep your car’s engine idling. If you’re not going anywhere, turn the engine off. Keep your vehicle well-maintained, and prefer ‘cleaner’ fuels such as E-10.

  10. Spread the word. The more of us who take care of Mother Earth, the better off we’ll all be.

If you own a business:

If you own a commercial establishment like a restaurant, cafe, bar, resort, hotel, etc., make it easy for your guests to dispose of their trash. Provide marked trash cans at convenient locations.  You might see it as extra cost at first, but it actually makes a better impression on your customers.

If you own a farm, do make sure you have proper drainage and waste management. That river in back is not the place to channel your pigpen’s runoff! Yes, it’s extra cost – but it might be your kid that gets sick swimming at a contaminated  beach miles away, a beach contaminated by your farm’s runoff.  Even if your kids will never swim there, consider that you’ll still be affecting someone’s kids.

ICC 2009 at Anilao

Yellow-lipped sea krait. Image from wiki commons, used under the Creative Commons license

Ask me what I’ll remember most about this year’s International Coastal Cleanup, and I’ll have to say it’s this guy. 

For the first time since my childhood in Puerto Galera, I saw a sea snake – and this time not one immured in a net, but right out in the open with me.  First reaction – holy shit, it’s a sea snake, get a closer look! So I take off and swim toward it.  Fortunately common sense returned when I got right above it – it was only about 8 or 9 feet below me, hunting among the corals – for when it stopped its search among the crannies to stare at me, I realized I was looking at one of the most poisonous denizens of the reef. 

Yes, sea snakes are docile compared to their terrestrial cousins the cobras – but having no experience swimming with them, I had no idea what their limits were.  I backed off, and was able to continue observing it for some minutes before I looked up to see Cat about to enter the water, and I swam off to meet her. Cat tends to stop and tread water to clear her mask ever so often, and I was afraid she’d do it near this snake. 

But damn, that was one fascinating encounter. The yellow-lipped sea krait, for that’s what the snake I encountered was, is common throughout Southeast Asia. The pic I found of it (above) is of the Indonesian variety; are the kraits at Anilao a different sub-species? Because its snout looked more vividly yellow than in the picture.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  I was in Anilao with Cat and her sister Arlene to participate in the ICC.  Not being certified scuba divers yet, Cat and I had to content ourselves with snorkeling in front of Planet Dive, and picking up whatever I could reach (which is about 20 or so feet).  Cat was literally left holding the bag.  The good news: there was hardly any trash in front of Planet Dive at all.  All I picked up were a freshly discarded PET soda bottle and some plastic food wrappers.

Boatmen in their new Caltex gear prepare for the diversThe other scuba teams toured the dive sites around Anilao, each team going to just one or two sites.  A surprise power interruption, announced only the day before, put a limitation on the cleanup – because there’d be no chance to refill until power returned late in the afternoon, depth for the divers was limited to 30 feet.  Fortunately this was also the depth where the greatest concentrations of trash were expected.  The divers set off Dive master Butch Javier with his findsThe teams made two dives, one before and another shortly after lunch.  As expected, a majority of the take was plastic in one form or another – grocery bags, toys, and Arlene’s group found no less than 18 disposable diapers in one spot. No kidding. Various dive sites also had differing levels of trash – Bubbles and Bebot’s, the dive sites Arlene’s group worked on, had relatively very little.  Mainit on the other hand seemed to suffer more, as the divers who’d gone there returned with laden bags.

Sorting and cataloguing the collected trash16 ... 17 ... 18 diapers!

But there’s good news, however. According to dive master Butch Javier, leader of the team Arlene was in, the amount of trash hauled in during the ICC over the past four years has dropped drastically.  Six years ago, Javier says, the teams would bring in sack after bulging sack, practically filling the beach in front of Planet Dive with sacks.  Now only a few bags are brought in. 

If you think you’re seeing a lot of Caltex logos here, you’re not mistaken.  Caltex Philippines has been a strong supporter of both travel and environmental initiatives, and I was very glad yet totally unsurprised to run into Caltex brand specialist Ickhoy de Leon overseeing Caltex’s participation in the event. 

Me with Ickhoy Along with Ickhoy were also some familiar faces from DPP – Tok Paler, BJ Hernandez, Momon Baula, Jiggie Alejandrino, and Kha Santia, to name only those I knew already.  Tok was badgering me to stay overnight, as we’d only planned a day trip, and I told him we would if it rained hard.  The road to Planet Dive can be risky in a hard rain, as it’s prone to landslides. Tok’s solution: let’s drink up and do some karaoke, that should bring in the rain!

In the end it did rain, but not too hard or long enough to prevent our going, rather to my regret.  We packed our gear and drove off just as the bar was opening and the after-event party getting started. Only later did I find out Arlene would’ve been amenable to an overnight … I should’ve convinced Cathy!

I have to say the development of dive resorts has been an improvement for Anilao.  With the local populace offered an alternative employment from fishing, the area could be declared a no-take zone, with very visible effect. The waters right in front of Planet Dive are simply teeming with marine life, right from the surf line.  And as divers tend to be more conscious of how they use the environment, there’s a lot less trash to be found here than off the more popular public beaches. I recall a conversation many years ago with the owner of El Capitan, the resort that is now Divers Sanctuary; she was telling me she was considering converting her property into a dive resort, because “binababoy ng customers yung lugar” (customers were messing up the place like pigs).  If the Filipino public want to continue enjoying their beaches, they should clean up their habits.


Cleaner waters and better environmental policies (and sticking to them!) will eventually open up more dive sites as our reefs bounce back.  As the world recovers from recession, divers from abroad will begin to look toward tropical Asia again – and if the Philippines can play its cards right, there’ll be jobs for people like this poor Badjao boy hawking pearls. 

I’ll be back next year to do my part – and I swear, it’ll be as a diver.

Photography Workshop in St Scho

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Cat and I had the pleasure of doing a photography workshop as part of these senior high students’ Visual Arts program.  Great fun! It’s such a pleasure to discover that some of these young people have an eye for making images, and as their teacher Louise Arnaldo told me, quite a few of them are planning to enter Fine Arts when they graduate.  Maybe some of them will become photographers too.

Cat and I seem to have found our niche, which jives in perfectly with what I do for Kodak here: acting as a bridge for people who’re interested in photography but are still using point-n-shoot cameras.  I have to say that some of the best photos that came out of this workshop were taken with point-n-shoots.  You may not have too many options, but they’re still a lot more than the Kodak Brownies and Instamatics photogs of my generation started with! It really all boils down to seeing light and excluding whatever doesn’t belong.

Great work, girls – no, make that great work, ladies!

Are Saltwater Aquariums Bad for the Environment?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I used to be an enthusiastic aquarist, and only the lack of space where I live now is keeping me from starting a new one.  But ever since I was a kid, I dreamed of having a saltwater aquarium; having grown up going to Puerto Galera every summer, I wanted to bring back a piece of that wonderful ocean experience with me. Turns out it may have been a good thing I never did get one.

Why? Well, I was wondering about this magnificent dragon-like fish, the ribbon eel, and in researching it, found some disturbing facts.  I was wondering what had happened to this fish, as I used to see a lot of them in aquariums in the 70’s and 80’s, but now I don’t; and I used to see them in Batangas when we’d go snorkeling there, and up to now I’ve yet to see one again in Anilao. Last time I saw a ribbon eel in the wild was in Bauan, off the El Capitan resort (now Divers’ Sanctuary), back in 1994.

Have they gotten scarcer? Have they simply lost popularity with aquarium keepers? Or worse – have they been overfished?

The latter may just be the answer. Up to now, most saltwater fish are sourced from the wild, unlike freshwater aquarium fish which now come from farms. Government officials will usually say this is good for the fishing communities, as it gives the fishermen an additional source of livelihood; but on the other hand it encourages destructive practices such as using cyanide to stun the fish (killing other organisms in the area), and overfishing the sensitive reef habitats.  (Here’s another article on cyanide fishing, this one focusing on the Hong Kong food market, and another from Australia, on why it’s a bad idea to buy cyanided fish.).

If you’ve ever gone snorkeling or diving, you’ll notice that some of the most beautiful fish are only seen in ones and twos, scattered across the reef.  In other words, there aren’t too many of those species on any one reef. Giving fishermen incentive to catch more of them – which is exactly what market forces do – can lead to unsustainable harvesting.

From an environmentalist’s point of view, a saltwater aquarium has many negatives: it encourages the destructive catching of reef fish; it adds to electrical consumption by its need for pumps, filters and lights, and in temperate regions, heating; and because some fish like the ribbon eel are very sensitive and hard to keep, fish mortality is often high.  Which in turn can drive even more buying, driving the cycle of overharvesting.

So: goodbye to my plans for a saltwater aquarium, and I’ll just use the money to get to Batangas. Where I’ll see more than I can keep in any aquarium, even if I were as rich as Henry Sy.  And when I do get space for a new aquarium, I’ll be happy to stock it with gouramis.

Encyclopedia of Earth

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A nice handy reference on the environment at http://www.eoearth.org/. Found it while browsing for info on Crown of Thorns Starfish, which I saw way too many of in Zambales last May.  Just hoping the troublesome buggers won’t be too numerous in Anilao …

Looking Forward to ICC 2009 in Anilao

It’s that time of year again when we take the beaches – to clean up after the more witless members of our obstinate species. It’s International Coastal Cleanup Day coming up, and this time it falls on a long weekend. Why is the ICC so important? Just look at this picture below:

Better yet, click on it (Nat Geo story on the Eastern Pacific Garbage Vortex).  This trash is just part of the great Sargasso Sea of debris floating practically right outside our backdoor. We’ll never be able to get it all – but if we can at least reduce the amount of additional waste that’s going there, it’ll help.  Help save our reefs, fish, turtles, seabirds – and let’s not forget, our fishermen and anyone who likes to eat fish.  And I happen to be partial to my tuna belly.

So it’s off to join the Scubasureros – and if I can’t dive on the day, I can at least cover the event, then snorkel after. I’m looking forward to another fun day, this time at Anilao with Cat and Cat’s sister Arlene.  With luck Cat’s new diving choirmates Jon and Jong will join us, and we can stay overnight for the long weekend. Not sure yet whether we’ll be there on the 19th or 20th though.

And not sure yet if the weather will cooperate! Last year’s ICC turned out nice and sunny despite a leadup of rain over the days previous, but this year has been the wettest September I can remember.

Mutton Rogan Josh @ New Bombay

It’s a bad thing when I leave home without a proper breakfast, if you ask my wife Cat. Because when I do it, I get ravenous – and we can end up a spending quite a bit eating out. But I was not to be denied, as I’d just finished an article and fixing my computer in an all-nighter, had a major meat craving, and I knew the original branch of New Bombay was literally a hop skip and jump away from our meeting.

So we end our meeting late in the afternoon, and I tell Cat I’m hungry.  We wrangle over where to eat, then I pop my secret weapon – the word “kabab.”  Instant yes!  

Well, we didn’t order kabab as originally intended, as I got fixated on the mutton rogan josh while Cat went for a dish of paneer tikka. I ordered chapatis to go with it, which in hindsight was a mistake – hungry as I was, rice would’ve been more filling.

But the food was incredible – never mind that New Bombay at De La Costa looks rather dingy, the food is real North Indian and there’s no cuisine I like better! The mutton was very flavorful, and there was a nice added crunch from the generous amount of chopped almonds thrown in. The only complaint I had with it was the presence of many small sharp bones – the price I guess of eating the bonier cuts of mutton.  The paneer tikka was also great, especially with coriander chutney as dip.  Hungry as I was, I ended up ordering a side of samosas too – and again, those were great. Definitely eating there again!

Epilogue: got to chatting with my old friend Vimla, and she’s a fan of the rogan josh and korma mixes from Santi’s, and she gets her yogurt supply from New Bombay itself.  Gotta try those!

The Magnetic Mountain Points Home

Among the tales that captured my imagination in childhood, the maritime adventures from the Arabian Nights stand out as among the most inspiring.  They fed my love of the sea and my eternal craving for sensawunda, and they still do til now.  The Sea Rovers of Syrene setting is inspired by this.

sindbad-1Among those tales, one of the most fascinating elements for me is the legend of the Magnetic Mountain, featured in the story of the Third Kalender Prince.  The Magnetic Mountain was a perilous landmark for sailors, for coming too near was said to draw out the iron nails from a ship causing its timbers to come apart.  Only when the Kalender Prince shot down an idol of a rider in brass with a bow of brass and lead arrows did the menace come to an end.

Now I’ve always known that many of the Arabian Nights voyages were to Southeast Asian waters, but little did I know how close to home this legend was to bring me.  When doing my research for Syrene I came to the conclusion that the Magnetic Mountain story was a fantastic justification for Indo-Arabian ship construction vs. Western and Chinese, the former having hulls ‘sewn’ together with rope while the latter used iron nails.  Ships of this ‘sewn’ construction were apparently better at surviving going aground or colliding with submerged reefs, always a danger in the shallow tropical seas where the Arab mariners traded. The flexible sewn timbers would bend and spring back, while rigidly nailed timbers would shatter.

This was the conclusion of James Taylor in his article for the British Yemeni Society:

According to al-Jahiz, in the last decade of the 7th century CE, al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf ath-Thaqafi, the iron handed Marwanid viceroy of Iraq, tried to introduce flat-bottomed, nailed ships like those of the Mediterranean to the waters of the Arabian Gulf. The experiment failed because experience had taught Arab seamen that the ships they were used to, in which the planks were fastened together with coir ropes and daubed with grease, were better equipped to withstand the frequent groundings and collisions with the sandbanks and submerged reefs that abound in the inshore waters of the Red Sea and the Gulf.

But what of the specific landmark, and the action of shooting at something to dispel the evil?  I found this blog post only yesterday, and it was an eye-opener.  Apparently there were indeed  seamounts in the Philippine archipelago where magnetic anomalies caused compasses to go wild, and rough water nearby spelled fatal danger for any ship that made a navigational error here.  As Spanish historian Pedro Chirino relates:

In the island of Mindanao between La Canela and the river, a great promontory projects from a rugged and steep coast; always at these points there is a heavy sea, making it both difficult and dangerous to double them. When passing by this headland, the natives, as it was so steep, offered their arrows, discharging them with such force that they penetrated the rock itself. This they did as a sacrifice, that a safe passage might be accorded them

Compare this to the Arabian Nights version:

On hearing this the pilot grew white, and, beating his breast, he cried, "Oh, sir, we are lost, lost!" till the ship's crew trembled at they knew not what. When he had recovered himself a little, and was able to explain the cause of his terror, he replied, in answer to my question, that we had drifted far out of our course, and that the following day about noon we should come near that mass of darkness, which, said he, is nothing but the famous Black Mountain. This mountain is composed of adamant, which attracts to itself all the iron and nails in your ship; and as we are helplessly drawn nearer, the force of attraction will become so great that the iron and nails will fall out of the ships and cling to the mountain, and the ships will sink to the bottom with all that are in them. This it is that causes the side of the mountain towards the sea to appear of such a dense blackness (Lang 1898, 102-3).

The prince then dreams that he must dig up a brass bow and arrows, and shoot down a brass horseman that is on top of the mountain.  If you account for the story becoming distorted in the telling, with the act of shooting at the mountain becoming an attack on its guardian instead of a propitiatory offering, this jives perfectly with Chirino’s account. 

A legend more than a thousand years old, that first came to me through the Arabian Nights, now revealed to come from practically just outside my door.  How’s that for inspiring a sense of wonder!

Note: the blog of Paul Manansala, a Filipino researcher, has many interesting articles on the ancient Philippines and its maritime links with the rest of Asia.  Very interesting reading!