Philippines’ National Holidays for 2016

The Philippine Gazette published an Infographic that lists the 2016 holidays in its Twitter account.

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It's More Fun in the Philippines Android App

If you were a fan of the new Department of Tourism slogan, “It’s More Fun in the Philippines”, and you own an Android device, then good news for you.

It's More Fun in the Philippines Android App screenshot

You may download the app, “It’s More Fun in the Philippines”, from the Android Market if you want to come up with something like this: Check out my sample photo »

Who Wants to Play Tongits?

Tongits (or Tong-its) is a three-player card game using a standard Anglo-American deck of 52 cards (without jokers). It’s knock rummy game that has become popular in the Phillipines in recent years.

Just like any other challenging card games, what makes Tongits truly enjoyable to play is that winning and losing (after a series of deals) does not totally depend on pure luck. In fact, besides luck you also need to possess a set of skills, among others — mathematical, memory, bluffing, guts, timing, etc., to come out a winner.

This article is not about how to play this card game. Instead, this is about a computer program that somehow knows how to play it, and can actually play it quite well.

Although the game requires three (and only three) players, you can actually download and install this program in order to play Tongits on your own (against two other computer players).

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The official website summarizes the features well enough:

  • Drag & Drop Interface. The game feels like the real thing with its intuitive drag & drop interface.
  • Realistic And Challenging AI. The computers play like live human tongits players.
  • Innovative Way of Organizing Cards. Just like in the real game, you are free to group and organize cards in any way you like. This significantly improves your planning and strategy.
  • Betting Simulation. Betting enhances the realistic feel of the game. It adds excitement and suspense and gives the player a sense of accomplishment and progress.
  • Game Saving. The game is automatically saved after each round to preserve the precious progress you have made.
  • Statistics. Relevant game statistics such as number of wins and money won, are saved for each player.
  • Clear Card Images. The cards were designed to be easy to read and identify. This helps you easily spot important cards that you might need to win the game.
  • A Solid Trainer. If you are a professional Tongits player, the game can supplement your training. And with the high level AI, you won’t need human opponents to practice with.
  • Continuous Development. The game is continuously being developed and improved to further enhance the player’s experience.

Being built on Adobe Air, this application ensures compatibility with multi-systems including Linux and iOS. Plus, it allows playing through the browser.

The AI could be challenging, as according to the website, but not challenging enough. It’s just so easy to win against the computer players. Here are the reasons why (the way the computer plays):

  • It’s very much predictable when it calls draw. It doesn’t bluff. I believe it calls draw anytime its cards point total less than 20 at any stage of the game;
  • It calls chow even when what at his hand is already a set. For example, you throw a queen at it, it calls chow with three other queens from its hand, ignoring opportunities to form more sets from the “undrawn” stock of cards;
  • It calls “draw” even if the other player has only one card left. This is I guess the effect of it calling draw anytime its hand’s point totals less than 20. Think about it, the fact that the other player has only one remaining card and the last card it/he/she threw or discarded was a three, then the remaining could only more likely be an ace or a two. Yet, it calls draw even if its point total is, say, nine;
  • It lays down its cards prematurely–not to avoid “burn” at all. As soon as it gets a set at his hand, it lays it down immediately, allowing other players to get rid of some of their cards early by laying them off (sapaw) to the cards the former laid down;
  • It challenges nevertheless. It never bluffs, that’s one case. It challenges however its hand look like or count, that’s another. You as the only human player can’t even call a bluff against the computer players, because they will always challenge your call.
  • It sometimes miss a lay off (sapaw). Yes, after playing a number of games, I noted some instances where it missed a sapaw;
  • Patience is a virtue. It does not wait for a straight (flash) currently laid down to continue, before throwing away or discarding its possible continuation card/s;

Well, despite of these lack in the AI, the computer game is always fun to play. After all, who doesn’t like winning, right? If you are a seasoned tong-its player, you’ll never lose against these computer players.

Oh, I have to warn you. This program is a available for 10 free trials. That is, it allows you to click on the “Play Tong-its” button 10 times and play the game before it forces you to upgrade in order to play further. The upgrade price is a meager US$ 5.00 anyway — I guess worthy enough for a total winning satisfaction. 😀

PNoy State of the Nation Address 2010

guest-post-iconThis is a guest post from Raymond.

While it is very much welcome for the President to report to the people what kind of a sh*t hole the past administration has driven our nation into after nine inglorious years, it shouldn’t be the end all and be all of the SONA.

Though it seems that nothing can shock us anymore regarding the GMA administration’s wicked ways, we are still bound to be shocked by what we are about to be told, according to PNoy.

Beyond the impending shock coming our way though, what will be more shocking is if we’re going to dwell and end there. The overwhelming majority voted for PNoy because they believe that he can and will deliver the reforms we need. The SONA should indicate how people responsible for such despicable acts will be brought to justice, and what concrete steps will be undertaken to address what we are left with after the dark days of Arroyo.

If it’s mere reportage that we need, former VP Noli De Castro, with his signature voice, should have been the man. But what the people thirst for is rectification and what they clamor for are solutions.

Realistically speaking, the next six years shouldn’t promise for us a hacienda at the end of the path. Just leading us through the “daang matuwid” will already be a journey very much worth undertaking.

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Would Brgy. Ginebra Appreciate FIFA?

guest-post-iconThis is a guest post from Raymond.

Why is football a long shot in generating significant fan interest and sparking a sporting revolution in the country to overtake basketball in the hearts of gullible Filipino masses?

  1. As it is right now, nothing much can be expected from our various National Sports Associations in terms of funding, support and initiative in promoting their various fields. With athletes’ cries of delayed and entirely lacking and/or undelivered allowances, what more can we expect when it comes to solid provision for local and international exposures, gears, coaches and trainers, etc.

    With this, much of the needed funds and publicity will and should obviously come from corporate sponsors and sporting godfathers. Of course, nothing comes free. In exchange for sponsorships, athletes, teams, meets and leagues serve as marketing tools and vehicles of these interested sponsors.

    If one is a marketing manager with funds at his disposal, it is a no brainer to sponsor someone and something which will be gaining media mileage and publicity, say for example a basketball team participating in tournament complete with prominent coverage in the tri-media, over a grassroots football program at the heart of an almost empty, unkept football field doubling as shelter of carabaos with nary any media attention.

  2. [adsense]

  3. We have enormous successes from the RP Blue boys of youth softball, jungolfers and tennis players, note even chess wizard Wesley So. But without much fallback in the form of commercial and professional leagues, athletes are left to fend for themselves with limited opportunities in sporting fields other than basketball.

    A man has got to eat. And without a promising long term horizon in other sports, not much interest is generated and sustained in the hearts and minds of our young athletes to pursue their passion. Government pension for athletes won’t take anyone anywhere.

  4. Come up with an improvised hoop and a ball and you’re ready to go. Roads in our country can double as basketball courts easier than converting them into football fields.
  5. I don’t know if this is entirely accurate. Or I may just be hating to admit it if it is indeed the awful truth, but we Filipinos have a penchant for the “bara bara“, lack of a system, free wheeling, anything goes, “bahala na si Batman” kind of an attitude. Football being the Beautiful game, may be something that is not ready to be appreciated by our masa. For a country thriving with one upmanship, “kanya kanya“, counterflows and cutting corners, the purity of Football will surely lull the masa to a deep slumber even before the first tagay of Ginebra.

With the international success of Pacman, Bata Reyes, Django Bustamante et al, again with the private sponsors and managers funding all their stints, awareness and interest in football will remain so so in the national scale.

So, what keeps a nation of vertically challenged citizens with not much success in the international scene in the significant past still addicted to hoops? Apart from ending, point shaving and the like which adds even more spice to the game, maybe it’s because of the immediate gratification in terms of points and fastbreaks, much the same as jabs and KO punches in boxing, that fans get to experience.

I personally believe that the excitement from basketball is something that Filipinos can relate to more than the excitement and appreciation to be derived from football. We absolutely don’t have a chance winning big in basketball globally. But it doesn’t matter to the fans. James Yap’s jumpers are enough for them to get their fix of adrenaline rush. They wouldn’t care less if James Yap won’t be able to convert those same shots over foreign behemoths in various international meets.

Basketball caters to Filipinos’ impatience more than football. Are you still wondering then why lines in lotto outlets as well as lines for showbiz auditions and gameshow contestants are eternally long?

Filipinos want a quick fix to everything; and they simply won’t last 120mins. with the score reflecting 0-0.

Parañaque Chess Open '09 — Another Photo Op with the Masters

Went to the Parañaque Chess Open ’09 today, not really to join in the tournament (although I would have loved to), but to take some pictures. Another photo op with the young Grandmaster Wesley So.

I recalled four (4) grandmasters participated in the tournament: Wesley So, Bong Villamayor, Mark Paragua and Darwin Laylo (somebody correct me if I missed some other grandmaster/s who was/were in the tourney). Wasn’t able to get the final results, although I heard Wesley So lost the tournament to the defending champion Darwin Laylo by tie-break (everybody is welcome to post the actual/official results in the comments below). Continue reading

Donaire wins WBA super flyweight title by unanimous decision

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LAS VEGAS — Nonito Donaire unanimously outpointed Rafael Concepcion on Saturday night in his first super flyweight fight to take the WBA interim title.

Donaire, the 26-year-old Filipino star who vacated his IBF flyweight title to move up in weight, improved to 22-1 with his 21st consecutive victory. Judge Max De Luca scored the fight 117-111, Duane Ford had it 115-113, and Jerry Roth called it 116-112.

via Donaire wins WBA super flyweight title by unanimous decision.

Congratulations to Nonito Donaire! We Filipinos are truly proud of you!

The Cory Aquino Funeral and the Error 99

I don’t think I could let it pass when I knew that former President Cory Aquino’s funeral march will pass by near my place. So I grabbed my camera and tried my best to document the event despite the heavy rains.

However, as I was shooting around, I got the much dreaded Error 99 by every Canon camera owners. Maybe it was because of the dying battery, maybe the CF card, maybe the lens, or worst–the camera itself (God forbid!)

Everytime the error occured, I had to turn off the camera and back on again before I can actually get the shot. It was real annoying, but at least I got to take some pictures (see below). Continue reading

Velbon Sherpa Pro Pod 1 Monopod for Sale

Velbon Sherpa Pro Pod 1I’m selling my monopod. It’s a carbon fiber Velbon Sherpa Pro Pod 1. Asking price is at P4,500, negotiable.

Bought this in Qatar in 2007. I don’t use it too often that’s why I decided to dispose of it.

A monopod adds stability to your camera to avoid camera shake. It’s not as stable as a tripod but definitely more convenient to carry around. It’s mostly used by photographers who have long lenses, as they add support to the lens as well.

Media college summarizes the advantages as follows:

  • Lighter and easier to carry than tripods.
  • Can be set up much faster than a tripod.
  • Can be set up in places which are difficult or impossible for a tripod (e.g. rough terrain or in the middle of a crowd).
  • Gives you some added flexibility for different types of camera movement.

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Bullet Points: Island Reef Job, White Whining, Email Encryption, Youtube and PS3, Air Travel Tip

The Best Job In The World

An Australian state is offering internationally what it calls “the best job in the world” — earning a top salary for lazing around a beautiful tropical island for six months.

The job pays 150,000 Australian dollars (105,000 US dollars) and includes free airfares from the winner’s home country to Hamilton Island on the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland’s state government announced.

Applications are open until February 22. Eleven shortlisted candidates will be flown to Hamilton Island in early May for the final selection process and the six month contract will commence on July 1.

Read more in the Island Reef Job website.

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