Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Philippines Trip - August 29, 2011 - The Loon Macaques

After our bit of fun at the Danao Adventure Park, we headed back to Loon.  Along the way, Stuart wanted to stop at this dairy shop by the road to get some bottles of locally produced milk.  All of us bought a bottle, including, against my better judgment, myself, as I bought a bottle of chocolate milk.  The reason I say against my better judgment is because I do have a problem with lactose intolerance, though only certain dairy products have an adverse affect on me.  At worst, I figured I would have quick case of the shits later on in the day.  But that's a story for the next post.

Anyway, after the stop at the dairy, we continued on to the Loon Macaques Habitat.  The habitat is located in a mangrove swamp near the shore of the northwest corner of Bohol island.  If you click on the link I provided, you will see a picture of the entrance to the bamboo footbridge that brings you into the swamp.  Led by a guide, we walked about 100 yards or so to the end.  The guide had some food with her for the macaques, who in small groups or one-by-one, started to gather around us.


During our time there, about twenty minutes, I observed a variety of behaviors displayed by the macaques, including some episodes of fighting and bullying amongst some of them.  But then you see moments like this one.


The whole time we spent at the macaques habitat was about a half an hour at the most.  If you're in the northwestern part of Bohol, I would say it is worth a visit, though you would be advised to add it to either the beginning or end of your itinerary for the day. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Quote of the Day

From Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince:

"To those seeing and hearing him, he should appear a man of compassion, a man of good faith, a man of integrity, a kind and religious manAnd there is nothing so important as to seem to have this last quality.  Men in general judge by their hands; because everyone is in a position to watch, few are in a position to come in close touch with you.  Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are."  Emphasis mine.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Philippines Trip - August 29, 2011 - Danao Adventure Park

The highlight of our stay in Bohol was our last day, when Stuart and Mia took us to Danao Adventure Park, which is located near the center of the island.

During the course of our ride there, which was probably a couple of hours, the quality of the roads varied greatly.  There would be stretches of freshly paved road, followed by several miles of unpaved road, followed by more paved road, and so on.  I distinctly remember one odd moment where we were on a lengthy stretch of unpaved road, and then suddenly the road was newly paved for at most 50 feet, and then after that it was unpaved again for another few miles.  I was puzzled why they would pave just a small segment of road in the middle of a long stretch of unpaved road rather than starting from where the last paved section ended and then working their way onward to connect to the next paved section.

The first activity, which we all participated in, was a zipline called the Suislide.   It's actually a double zipline.  For the first part, you zip acoss the canyon to the other side.  Then after you get there, you walk over to the next line, which takes you back across to the side where you started from.  Stuart went first, because he wanted to film us all during our arrival at the end.

That's Stuart with the yellow helmet and Flip camera in hand, getting into position for his launch.  Below is a picture of the cable strung across to the other side of the canyon to give you an idea of what it looks like.  While it's not very long, it is rather high and you definitely would not want to fall.

And away goes Stuart!

Next up was my wife and my son.  They opted to go tandem, with my son riding alongside my wife.

My daughter and I woud follow them.  She rode on my back.  Unfortunately, I don't have any picture of us on my camera of the two of us.  For the return zipline, I was able to get photos of my wife's sister Myla and her sister Mia and Mia's daughter Zoe.

Next up was my turn to shine as I decided to take The Plunge.  The following set of pictures should tell you everything you need to know about it.

As you can see, I went head first instead of feet first.  After the drop I was supposed to pull out my feet and then lift myself up to an upright position, with my hands holding on to where my feet were.  I had trouble getting one of my feet out for a moment and briefly feared that my sneaker would come off and fall down into the river below.

For the next one, it might be a little hard to see me because I am so far down. 

And then for the return.


Yeah, I just did that!

After that, the whole gang road together on the Sky Ride, which is like the zipline except you ride in an open air cable car that goes much slower and the zipline.  It was more for the view than anything else, but it did allow me to take some photos that give a bird's eye perspective of the Suislide and the Plunge.

Now here's a birdseye view of the Plunge.

And here's the Suislide.

After the day's adventure activities, we stopped at the Adventure Park's cafeteria for some Filipino buffet.  Afterwards, I went roaming outside and came across this sign.

For someone who lives outside of the United States of America, this sign would be considered unremarkable.  But here in the good old USA, words like "socialized" and "socialism" are considered dirty words.  I can just imagine how your average Tea Party Republican would react if they saw a sign like this at some national park here in America.

"Whut?  My park fees are supporting socialism?  That's a goddamn disgrace!  I want my fucking country back!  Take this sign down or I'm never coming to this park again for the rest of my life, so help me god!"

Philippine Sunsets

After our Ngong Ping 360 Crystal Cabin excursion, we returned to the Hong Kong International Airport and caught our flight to Cebu.  We arrived at Mactan International Airport around 7 PM, and after clearing immigration and claiming our luggage, we found our ride to the Montebello Hotel in Cebu City.  The next morning, we went by taxi to the Super Cat ferry pier to catch the fast ferry to Tagbilaran City in Bohol, which takes about 90 minutes.

During our stay in Bohol for this trip we were guests of my wife's sister Mia and her husband Stuart at their new house in Loon, north of Tagbilaran City.  The house is perched on high ground overlooking the Cebu Strait to the west.  This afforded me the opportunity to take numerous photos of the sun setting behind Cebu.

The last one is my favorite, with the fast ferry in the Cebu Strait approaching Tagbilaran City on its last run of the day.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Darn! I'll Have to Bail on the Reason Rally

I was looking forward to going to the Reason Rally this coming Saturday and getting the chance to meet fellow nontheists, including some of my favorite bloggers.  But alas, I simply have too many errands and things to do around the house.  To all those who are going, I hope the weather cooperates and you have a great time.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Maybe Rick Santorum Was Right

I recently finished reading Jon Krakauer's Under The Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith, which in part tells the story of the murder of a woman and her toddler child by two of the brothers of her husband because they believed it was a deed sanctioned by God.

I started reading Under The Banner of Heaven a few days after Republican presidential candidate and self-appointed busy body of all things sexual Rick Santorum called colleges "indoctrination mills" and claimed in an interview with Glenn Beck that 62 percent of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it.”

Where Under The Banner of Heaven ties into this is near the end of the book.  One of the persons Krakauer introduces the reader to is an apostate from the Mormon Fundamentalist Church named DeLoy Bateman.

Bateman tells Krakauer what led him to eventually leave his church and abandon his faith.

"Even as a young boy," he says, "I remember wondering about contradictions between what the religion taught and scientific truth.   But Uncle Roy told us that the way to handle that was just to avoid asking certain kinds of questions.  So I trained myself to ignore the contradictions.  I got good at not letting myself think about them."

When he turned 18, Bateman attended Southern Utah State College, because his church wanted him to become a teacher.

Bateman says, "I loved college.  Looking back, I suppose it was the beginning of the end for me.  I stayed in the religion for another twenty years, but going to college in Cedar City was when I had my eyes opened.  That's where I took my first geology course.  Afterward I came home and told Uncle Roy, 'There's a professor over there trying to tell us the earth is four and a half billion years old, but the religion says its only six thousand years old.  How can that be?'  Which shows you why education is such a problem for the Work.  You take someone like me, who was always as stalwart as can be, and then you ship him off to get an education and the guy goes and apostasizes on you.  Happens over and over again.  And every time it does, it makes the leaders more inclined to keep people from learning."  (Bolding mine).

You see some of that with Rick Santorum, who constantly likes to point out that he homeschools his kids.  After all, he doesn't want his children to be exposed to somebody else's agenda, and Heavens forbid, be indoctrinated into becoming a liberal!

One of the things I have noticed about right wing conservatives is the way they frame their language.  They begin with the premise that their beliefs are normative and correct.  Therefore, anyone who advocates for positions that run contrary to their own have "an agenda."  Anything taught to their children that runs counter to their beliefs is an attempt to "indoctrinate" them.  These people are either being disingenuous or willfully obtuse when they refuse to recognize that they too have an agenda and trying to teach their children strictly in accordance with their own beliefs involves indoctrinating them.  After all, to believe in the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation ultimately involves telling a child, "This is what the Church teaches.  You just have to have faith and believe it."

I don't know if anyone has explicitly asked Santorum this, but I would like to see him be asked, "What is the difference between telling a child that a Communion wafer becomes the flesh of Jesus Christ when it enters one's mouth and telling a child that human activities are releasing large quantities of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, which traps heat and warms the planet?  After all, one cannot physically test the communion wafer to detect changes in its properties when it enters the mouth of a believing Catholic, but one can measure the increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the rise in temperature and the shrinking of glaciers and Arctic sea ice." 

Rick Santorum may consider it a terrible tragedy if an 18 year old Catholic enters college believing in the doctrine of transubstantiation and leaves college at 21 believing it to be nothing but medieval superstitious nonsense, but it shouldn't be a reason to oppose expanding opportunity for Americans to  attend college.

Mormonism in One Sentence

A religion founded by a guy so that he could have theological justification to bang as many women as he wanted.