by Oliver Carlos

In my Philippine History classes, I always emphasize the importance of digging local history. During the pre-pandemic years, I asked my students to go out, look around, and interview old folks. They must research and discover for themselves stories that are not yet in history books. This is quite challenging, but many enjoyed this activity. A few of them discovered a Katipunero or a World War 2 guerrilla deep down in their own family tree, while others were able to unravel some historical mysteries about old buildings and structures in their neighborhood.

Right: The sugar tower in Pulo, Cabuyao. It was built in 1890. Left: The sugar tower in SESAM, UPLB. This one was built in 1920. (photos by Jet Castillo)

One recurring report every term…

by Oliver Carlos

I was made, born, and raised in the town of Los Baños. I studied elementary, high school, college, and graduate school in the same campus in my hometown. I had all my jobs, except my current job, in my beloved birthplace. I think I have been to every corner of Los Baños, including the peak of Mount Makiling, its famous mountain.

Me in the jungles of Mt. Makiling. (photo from the Castillo Family collection)

Los Baños is indeed a very special and unique town. There’s something different in the atmosphere above it. You can ask the thousands of UPLB alumni and Los Baños visitors, they would all say that its…

by Oliver Carlos

In my hometown Los Banos, there was a famous bakeshop in the 1980s and 1990s. Dainty Bakeshop was a byword in many households, especially when it comes to custom-made special occasion cakes like birthday cakes and wedding cakes. This establishment was owned by the family of my good friend Rene Deriquito. Their business existed from 1981 to 1997. Rene was the icing man in the cake house. He designed the cakes and scribbled greetings on it using icing.

Rows of freshly-baked banana bread are laid out on tables. After cooling, they will be packed and delivered to the Dainty Bakeshop outlet in Grove. (photo by Rene Deriquito)

I first thought that the birthday cake was their flagship product, but actually, it’s not. According to Kuya Rene…

by Oliver Carlos

My very first real fulltime job was being a research assistant in my alma mater, the UPLB College of Human Ecology. That was in 1993. I remember that my salary then was around P6,000 a month. Minus taxes and other deductibles, I think I grossed a little less than P5,000 monthly, not bad for a rookie in the labor force. I was so happy I now have my own money, I can now buy the things I wanted.

I used my 1st salary to buy this guitar. It costs P2,500 in 1993. (photo by Jet Castillo)

My mother gave me a very nice advice before I got my first salary. She said that I shouldn’t…

by Oliver Carlos

Very near my hometown is the world’s 4th largest geothermal powerplant, the Makiling-Banahaw Geothermal Powerplant in barangay Bitin, Bay Laguna. We call it MakBan for short. When I was a teen, I used to ride my mountain bike all the way to the powerplant located at a plateau on the eastern slope of Mt. Makiling. It’s not as high as Peak 2, but climbing it is a good workout as the road really gets steep near the top. That was in the late 1980s when the said road was not yet paved.

The giant pipes of the MakBan Geothermal Powerplant. (photo by Jet Castillo)

You would know that you’re…

by Oliver Carlos

What’s the most popular song in the history of the world? No, it’s not a Beatles hit, nor a Michael Jackson beat. It’s not even that Jose Mari Chan carol, even though it gets sung daily from September to December every year. It’s not a church hymn either. It’s actually the “Happy Birthday To You” song! While church songs are sung on Sundays only, that birthday song is sung by millions of people from every corner of the world every second, every minute, every day. There are more 8 billion people in the world, and only 365…

by Oliver Carlos

The Laguna Copperplate Inscription (LCI) is the oldest written document dug up here in the Philippines. It was accidentally found by a laborer near the mouth of the Lumban River in a dredging operation in 1989. Lumban is a small town in Eastern Laguna which is more known for its hand-embroidered Barong Tagalog cottage industry. The LCI, as its name suggests is a copper plate the size of a short bond paper, with engraved characters that looked wiggly worms. There are 10 lines that were written in an ancient language older than Tagalog. Experts peg the date…

by Oliver Carlos

There’s a road in Cabuyao, Laguna which I call Sheep Boulevard. It’s approximately 1 kilometer long extending from the expressway tollgate up to the science park entrance. There, you will see a flock of sheep numbering around 3 dozen, roaming freely, back and forth that street. They’re always there every day, and all the time. It’s quite a dangerous place for the sheep as the road is the passageway of monstrous trucks coming from the factories in the science park. Good thing the large trucks and all other vehicles would stop or slow down to avoid hurting…

by Oliver Carlos

As a basketball fan, I observe that the golden years of the PBA was probably the mid and late 1980s. I based my opinion on the rabidity of the fans and live audience in following their favorite teams. That’s the time when the “never-say-die” spirit of the Ginebra team was newly born, when Jaworski’s ragtag line-up went up against stronger teams such as San Miguel, Purefoods (who took over the Tanduay franchise), Alaska, Great Taste, and Shell. …

by Oliver Carlos

I once saw a shirt that has outline images of a man and woman similar to the ones we see on toilet doors. There’s an accompanying text printed on the shirt: “The Woman is Always Right.” That made me think. Beginning that day, I started observing the comfort rooms I see, and to my surprise, the woman is indeed always at the right!

I observed that in most cases, the ladies’ room is at the right. (photo by Jet Castillo)

Is this always the case, that the woman is always right and never wrong? The husband and wife need not struggle for power or fight for supremacy in the family. That’s not God’s will…

Blog is Life

Oliver Carlos wears many hats. He's a history professor, a life coach to young adults, an athlete, a sports media practicioner, and a loving family man.

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