Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes


Observations and trivia

Posted on January 17, 2008 by jimparedes

The past few weeks, I’ve come across some interesting observations and trivia which I’ve been wanting to write about.

– On the way to Cronulla Beach in Sydney, we passed by a bridge with a great view, which was unbelievably called ‘Tom Ugly’s Bridge’. Ala (my daughter) and I were imagining the teasing and ribbing Tom Ugly (whoever he is) must have experienced in his lifetime. Imagine growing up with a name like that. Imagine the school roll call. Imagine him a grown up and having a child and his friends visiting the nursery and commenting that the kid looks like his father by saying, ‘That sure is an Ugly child’.

– I am having some house repairs done currently, and one of the handymen, a Pinoy graduate of PMA told me something interesting, and quite amusing. He said that during their masses at PMA in his time, they actually sang the APO song , ‘Love is for Singing”.

For the life of me I don’t know how this song I made can be an Offertory hymn. I kinda find it funny imagining soldiers and cadets standing straight and taut and with their manly voices singing,

Love is for silly, silly things that you never think of doing
And all in a sudden little things have bigger meanings.
It’s getting up at night and climbing up a tree so high
And then you try and touch the sky and you ask why…’

In church at that!



– I learned from a military general’s son that the best rendition of the song “My Way’ can be heard during PMA reunions. It is sung with so much feeling and passion that almost everyone present is brought to tears.


– I have observed that Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, unlike GMA is NOT in the news everyday. Sometimes, you don’t hear about the Prime Misnister at all for 4 days or even a week. There seems to be a lot more things happening in this country other than politics.

– The Prime Minister’s house is called the Kiribilli House. One can pass by it when sailing at the harbor, or go by car. Right next to the house are just regular neighbors!

– Australia is now officially the country with the highest percentage of obese people. There is a reality TV show here called The Biggest Loser where contestants compete against each other by losing the most weight. The government also has ads on TV and print encouraging people to have a fresh go at weight loss this new year.

– Behind our house is a very small farm with a corral and meandering cows. And beyond that is a park which gives us a great view of the outdoors. Driving around the neighborhood and even in parts of the city, one can see cockatoos, and other very colorful birds everywhere.

– Think of prime time TV shows in the Philippines. There’s BIg Brother, Marimar, dramas, and inane comedy shows. Over here in Australia, even if they have game shows, comedies, dramas as well, they also have great, well-made documentaries. Aussies are also big on gardens, and one of the shows on prime time features Australia’s most beautifully made gardens!! That would be totally unheard of in the Philippines.

– Past 10 PM, there is so much soft porn on TV, including ads for downloading erotica on your cellphone or meeting singles, etc., it’s actually irritating. I sometimes wonder how much of the percieved ‘breakdown of morals’ in the Philippines is caused by pornography when there is relatively so little available there except for the occasional accidental ‘exposure’ in variety shows. Sex is so much more open and seemingly more casual here, from people going topless in beaches to legal brothels in many places. Yet, there doesn’t appear to be a moral breakdown in the sense that there are not too many rape cases, at least not as much as we seem to hear about back home.

We should worry about drugs more.

—-Still on the same topic, I find it quite refreshing that open discussion of sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction are openly tackled. One sees advertising (serious ones, and also funny and clever ones) on TV, and on radio.

A memorable one features two pianists who go in front of the piano, drop their pants, raise their hands and play Chopsticks with… you get the picture?

– I watched the Spanish Harlem Orchestra at the Domain. It was quite a show with great musicuans playing latin, zalsa and all that. Furthermore, it was a free concert. There’s lots of things going on in Sydney at this time of the year being art month. So many free events everywhere. People show up in outdoor concerts with mats, and with elaborate meals, at times complete with appetizers, cheese and wine.

Aussies are quite informal and know how to party. I sort of draw the line though (meaning, I wont do it) when it comes to walking barefeet and shirtless in the city no matter how hot a summer’s day it can be.

8 to “Observations and trivia”

  1. BabyPink says:

    – I have observed that Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, unlike GMA is NOT in the news everyday. Sometimes, you don’t hear about the Prime Misnister at all for 4 days or even a week. There seems to be a lot more things happening in this country other than politics.


    kailan kaya mangyayari sa pilipinas ito? probably not in this lifetime. hay.

  2. Titoboy says:

    Hi Jim,

    Just wanted to share an anecdote I recently heard from my son who is in high school. After reading about cadets at the PMA singing one of your compositions in a mass, this did not surprise me at all.

    While this may not explain reasons as to specific occassions when one should perform or play an APO song or one of yours for that matter, I hope that this might give you an idea how big and profound an influence you and the APO as a group have etched your mark into the cultural psyche of our young as far as OPM is concerned.

    Apparently my son was playing his flute on an adjoining classroom when he heard this 2 Fil-Canadian boys arguing during a music class. One was asking the other if he knew who the APO was. The other replied that he did not. The argument is as follows: “You do not know APO?” You do not know THE APO Hiking Society?” “Dude, you are a POSER!” The boy asking the questions proceeded to push the other boy knocking him off his chair. Chuckles all over!

    Now I do not condone this aggressive type of behaviour by any stretch of imagination but to present yourself or to feign ignorance to the APO Hiking Society’s existence as a Pinoy is totally unacceptable by this boy’s standards.

    I hope this gives you a locator beacon for yourself and your group’s journey as to where you’ve gone from whence you’ve started and maybe one of these days I’d agree not to say; “treinta centimos ika’y makakaltasan…” and attune myself to more recent economic barometers.

  3. stirrer says:

    Just some info on Tom Ugly after googling it!

    http://www.dictionaryofsydney.org/www/html/179-newsletter-september-2006—the-real-tom-ugly.asp?intSiteID=1

    Also nice to hear about your fresh observations of Sydney/Australia.

    Originally from the Philippines, I am 44 years old and have lived in Australia for 22 years now and although I talk like any native born Australian and fully integrated into Australian society with my Kiwi-born partner, we still long to go back to our respective countries of birth. This is a dilemma at the moment since she longs for NZ and I long for a self-sufficient and quiet rural life in a Philippine Island somewhere? Am I just dreaming?

    Like you, I also had similar impressions about the Filipino press obsession with Politics (GMA) vs Australian press (Kevin is not as newsworthy as Cricket Scores!) etc. Does this mean that some things in Australia and Philippines have not changed all that much after all these years? Filipinos are still talking about coup and people power and human rights issues while Australia has just had a new Government which booted out John Howard after 11 years in office(what a regime change!) in a peaceful, organised and gracious democratic election (with the exception of Jackie Kelly’s husbands Liberal campaign in Penrith!!!).

    But then again, Australians also misssed the opportunity to become a republic in the 1999 referendum which was defeated because of John Howard’s lack of support and his governments divisive misinformation and fear campaign.

    Is it too simplistic to say that Australians are an apathetic law abiding lot and Filipinos on the other hand
    are a bunch of rebellious, politicised, ungovernable albeit passionate people?

    I have some disatisfactions about living in Australia, racial tensions and intolerance similar to the Cronulla riots still crop up every now and again and the conditions of the indigenous population in remote communities is appalling! These and others (conspicous materialism for one ) creep in after living here for so long but your blog brings back good memories of how I felt about Sydney and Australians when I first arrived here.

    It might sound like a cliche but the French are probably right in saying “Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose”.

    Good luck and I salute you for having the courage to make a new life in a different country. At my age I find it a little daunting to move house much less uproot myself to another country and culture!

  4. jay says:

    yeah, you’re right about your observation about GMA being on the news everyday. i’m actually starting to get sick of reading the philippines’ top dailies especially the editorial section. our writers seem to know how to run the country better than anyone else – very much into their big words, very articulate and critical of anyone in office. unfortunately, that’s all they’re (we’re) good at. apologies if this offends.

  5. jimparedes says:

    Thanks everyone for enjoying this entrt and commenting.

  6. benign0 says:

    Hey Jim! Great observations. It’s interesting to note that most of what you observe seems to be stuff that many Pinoys simply don’t *get* about life in the First World — the egalitarianism (ordinary people living side-by-side with the PM), a mature attitude towards sexuality (vs the judgmental and false aversion seen in the Philippines), etc.

    Most of all politics are in its proper perspective. Which is kind of the message i try to bring across in this new slide presentation of mine:

    http://getrealphilippines.com/sh01/slide01.html

    Anyways, have a great day!

  7. totskie says:

    Hi Jim,

    I am so amused about your anecdote of the PMA cadets. My hubby is also a PMAer and i too can’t imagine his entire class singing that song in their uniform and in church at that! hehe, that would have been nice to hear/see.

    But there’s no question that we both love The APO! More power to you.

  8. jimparedes says:

    Yes, it is quite amusing!! I love it that you love APO. heh heh



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