Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Play Chess and Control a Kingdom!

Chess is a game that is easy to learn but very difficult to master. It takes a lot of time before one can be considered to have mastered the game. Earning that much coveted title of being a National, International or a Grandmaster entails sacrifices. It means investing a huge amount of time and effort to master, or at least, have a very respectable knowledge of all phases of the game. Consistent practice is also essential to win games in chess. In other words,  playing chess seriously requires time, effort and practice. Time is a very valuable commodity for anyone who wants to excel at the game or simply to become a strong chess player. Unfortunately, in this very busy world, time is something that most of us do not have.

What is good at this time is the fact that technology has radically changed the way chess is played. Now chess can be played anywhere and with anyone around the world with the use of the Internet. Technology has connected all chess players in the world. With the Internet, chess can be played without actually going to a chess venue.However, despite advances in technology coupled with the surge in information, studying chess remained practically the same. It still takes a lot of time and demands consistent practice. Playing online most of the time does not guarantee success in chess. There are still other factors to consider. Moreover, playing chess with the use of a "real" chessboard has that unique kind of feel compared when playing online. 

While chess has been around for centuries and is played by millions around the world, the game still has to attain a high level of popularity to attract investors. Since it is not a spectator sport, funding is a common problem faced by chess organizers. It is difficult to find sponsors for chess tournaments. Compared to other spectator sports such as basketball and boxing, chess is not a treasure trove. 

But despite of the lack of time and lesser "earning" opportunities, what is it that make chess attractive and alluring?  Admittedly, playing chess gives several benefits. However, aside from these benefits, playing chess gives that rare experience of  being in absolute command of a Kingdom including the King and Queen.  This kind of experience having absolute control of the situation makes chess a very addicting game. It provides a very different kind of satisfaction in achieving victory based entirely on your own effort.  In other words, chess encourages independent thinking by allowing players to act solely on one's beliefs. It is this kind of independent and absolute control type of experience that everyone should try playing chess.

It is entirely different however when chess is played for fun and when you intend to master the game. As I said, mastering chess requires a lot of time investment. Just look at the life of great chess masters and see how much time they devoted to the game to attain their level of expertise. Almost their entire life was devoted to chess. Practice and more practice took most of their entire time! It is even said that to reach master level, it would take at least 3,000 hours of dedicated devotion to chess! If you want to attain Grandmaster level, you need at least 10,000 hours of practice, study and more practice. It requires tremendous sacrifice and self- denial. 

To enjoy chess however it is not necessary to be a master. What is important is to always give your best. Be humble when winning, immediately accept defeat, learn and get ready for the next game.  

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Anti-Distracted Driving Act (No Texting While Driving)

To be safe on the road, we have been reminded not to text while driving.  With the “Anti-Distracted Driving Act” which lapsed into law on July 2016 – using mobile phones, tablets, laptops and other gadgets while driving or when the vehicle is temporarily stopped at stoplight is now illegal except during emergencies. The law applies to diplomatic, public, and private vehicles including motorcycles and tricycles.

If followed or religiously implemented, this law is good for us travelers. While driving, it is an absolute must that we keep our eyes on the road for our safety and others.  Accidents happen in just a matter of seconds. Just like in chess, a few seconds of distraction is what it takes for a very disastrous ending. In fact, there is a report by the Highway Patrol Group that “driver error” (as a a result of distraction or being sleepy on the road) was the cause of around 12,620 road deaths between 2010 and 2011.

Violation of this act is penalized with fines ranging from (1) five thousand pesos for the first offense; (2) ten thousand pesos for the second offense; and (3) fifteen thousand pesos for the third offense with suspension of driver’s license for three months. The penalties provided under the law are without prejudice to other offenses committed as a result of the violation. Imagine the very hefty fine if you are caught using your cellphone while driving!

However, if you are caught using your phone while driving, you will not be violating this law if you are using your phone for emergency purposes such as making a call to the police or fire department or you are driving an ambulance or fire truck in the performance of your duty. Further, If you really need to use your cellphone or gadgets while driving without violating this law, use the speaker!. This law says that the use of communication devices is not considered distracted driving if done with the use of a “hands free function” such as speakerphones, earphones and microphones.

Anyway, if for example, you are caught calling your wife to inform her that you would be very late for dinner because of the traffic, are you still exempted? Another thing about this law is how it can be enforced with respect to vehicles that are heavily tinted? I hope these matters are clarified in the implementing rules to be issued soon.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Develop Patience by Playing Chess

I think everyone has heard about that road rage incident in Quiapo, Manila involving a cyclist and an army reservist.  It is really a very unfortunate event and I hope that justice is served in accordance with the law.  I hope further that it is the last of such kind.

The incident clearly underscores the need for patience when driving a car or riding a bike.  What transpired there is not caused by notorious traffic but a sudden burst of uncontrolled emotions. It is something that is very regrettable in the end and may have been avoided if the protagonists knew how to control their anger.

It is said that one effective way of controlling anger is simply to take a deep breath and count from one to ten.  One way that I practice is that I imagine the person (I am angry with at that time) as a relative or a loved one. Just imagine if the person who cuts you off on the road or scratches your car is your brother or sister? You may still be angry but the anger is a “controlled anger” and not something that may propel you to take a person’s life. Another way is try putting your place in the shoe of that person and honestly attempt to understand his actions.  Whatever the situation may be, patience is the key to avoid such dreadful incidents. In fact patience may save yours or the other person’s life.

With a very inconvenient and "fight-provoking" traffic conditions that we have in Metro Manila, patience is a virtue that commuters, drivers or any other traveler should have. If you are easily agitated or prone to anger, try playing chess. Chess helps develop patience by training players to think first before making a move. Just like in real life it is prudent to think first before saying or doing anything. Making a move without thinking often results to something regrettable later on.

In chess, patience is a necessary virtue. With the “touch move” rule, a player who touched a particular piece is bound to move it! A move once made on the board cannot be taken back without violating this very cardinal rule. If a bad move is made, a good chess player learns to accept the mistake and continue to play the game without being annoyed. 

In life and in chess, lack of patience leads to blunders or a bad move that may end in checkmate.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Just Get Out and Bike!

There is an unexplainable thrill in solo biking - that kind of thrill which cannot be duplicated by any kind of ride in the Circus. Being alone on a bike does not mean being lonely however. It is sometimes a way to find oneself. Anyway, whether solo or with a companion, biking has countless benefits to the body, mind and the environment. It is a very good stress reliever after a long day at school or at the office. Pedal and feel the wind on your face! Immediately, the stress appears to disappear and life’s challenges become very surmountable.

Biking burns a lot of calories.  Unlike running however, biking can burn those unwanted calories without too much stress on your feet and legs. The bike pedal moves the joints in the legs without the pounding that it subjected to in running. I consider this as one pivotal reason why I shifted from running to biking. During a run, I often experience pains in my legs and feet. In biking, I can take some rest while gliding on my bike. But occasionally, I still run as well.

I think what is important in biking is to have the proper “bike fit”. Not all bikes fit all riders. There is bike that is appropriately fitted for a particular cyclist depending mostly on the height of the rider. Injuries can be avoided if the bike is fit for you. Thus, in buying a bike it is better to buy in a store that provides a “bike fitting procedure" before a purchase is made.

Aside from having a proper bike fit, it is important to have the right gears and equipment to avoid injuries.  The helmet is one very important piece of  equipment. I often see a lot of bikers without helmet. I think most bikers consider wearing a helmet to be an inconvenience. But accidents can happen when you least expect it and it has been proven many times that wearing a helmet can save your life. With the very hot and humid weather in the Philippines, cyclists also have to be fully hydrated. Water is essential. It is a must for every biker to have water while biking.

Biking is for any age group. I have seen several bikers who are in their senior years and yet are still pedaling their way to wherever as if they are teenagers. There are even much older bikers who can give younger ones a run for their money.  Age is definitely not a factor for anyone to enjoy biking.  Just get out and ride!  There is nothing to stop anybody from riding a bike (except perhaps the lack of bike lanes).

I hope government continues to support biking in the country. Biking despite its tremendous contribution to good health has yet to reach a majority of the population. Many bikers are discouraged to bike because of the lack of bike lanes and other dangerous circumstances on the road.  Biking can be an effective solution to the traffic mess and the unreliable MRT. Just imagine if half of the cars on the road were bicycles? Traffic and the country’s dependence on imported gasoline is solved in an instant!

In Quezon City, very near SM Fairview, there is a place ideal for biking aside from the well talked about La Mesa Nature Reserve. A medium rise condominium project is being built there ( I think it is moving-in time by now) where joggers and cyclists can be seen either in the early morning or late in the afternoon. I have biked in the area in the morning at around 6 and there were plenty of bikers and joggers. There is also a “zumba dance lessons” where everyone can join for free.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Sidcor Sunday Market (Centris Walk, Quezon City)

This market is definitely worth the visit at 6 in the morning! If you desire fresh seafood, meat products, plants for your garden, delectable cuisines from all over the world and a whole lot more, you got to wake up earlier than usual.  For the usual market goer, 6 am is just right for the market. For nocturnal creatures however this  require a lot of effort. Waking up early however provides  several benefits which includes, among others, the chance to savor what this Sidcor Sunday Market has to offer.

Parking at Centris Walk is almost full by 7 am.  A great number of market goers can already be seen flocking at  different stalls where the best produce are sold at the most reasonable price.  Stalls offering native and foreign delicacies – from “bagnet” to different flavors of Hungarian sausages – are all ready to eat. How about trying the “black paella” and the different flavors of “hopia”?

If you are into gardening, there are several varieties of ornamental plants, grafted trees and supplies to ensure that your garden of whatever size is at its best.  There are also succulents and colorful orchids.  There are various sizes of flower pots of different colors.  Everything is available for the beginner and seasoned gardeners.

I walked around and and tried to discover what else this market can provide to its customers and I can definitely see that there is a lot lot more. It is really up to you to discover!

Monday, July 18, 2016

UP Town Center (Katipunan, Quezon City)

The UP Town Center Mall is not an extension of UP Diliman and Ateneo. But its proximity from these schools makes this mall an ideal destination for students to hang out after a grueling day at school.  Favorite comfort foods, the latest brands of clothes and school supplies are all here just like in any other mall. But what set this mall apart from those gigantic malls along the traffic riddled EDSA is its greens and plenty of open spaces.  

The two storey buildings create a very laid back atmosphere where there is easy access to a natural environment. Moving around the whole mall is akin to just a walk in the park.

In a highly urbanized Metro Manila where steel and concrete is common, it is a cool respite to be in a place where there are trees and plants. The greens create that atmosphere of calmness and relaxation. 

UP Town Center Mall is indeed very student friendly and can provide that atmosphere soothing for intellectual contemplation while not foregoing the desire to shop.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Landers Superstore (Balintawak, Quezon City)

There is something new in membership shopping and that’s Landers Superstore. Before plying the North Luzon Expressway, shoppers cannot miss this newly opened store with a wide parking space in Balintawak, Quezon City.

Shoppers to this newest retail store cannot help comparing it either to S&R or with Costco.  Landers however can be considered a more direct competitor of S&R located at the nearby Congressional Avenue. With the opening of Landers,  membership shopping is on its highest level of competition for the benefit of customers.

Prior to S&R and Landers, membership shopping is something that appears to be not the usual. It is a concept that is somehow beyond the grasp of most shoppers. It is often asked why go for membership shopping when you can easily shop at those gigantic malls without paying any membership fee? However, if you are a “shopping addict” or just a plain buyer in bulk – membership shopping can bring tons of benefits. One is that prices of imported and local goods are, as expected, lower compared to other malls. Buying a lot definitely means a lot of savings as well. There are also a number of items on “sale” or on a “buy one take one promo”. Speaking of promos, members can buy gasoline at Caltex Balintawak and avail of up to “2 pesos per liter member discount” and there is a “20% off on membership fees until September 15, 2016” where you get to pay only P 640.00 membership fee instead of P 800.00.

Landers provides a very convenient shopping experience and endless opportunity to avail of discounts and savings on local and imported items. It also has a restaurant where, similar to S&R, there is pizza and bottomless drinks.

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