My Own Happiness Project

My Own Happiness Project
because happiness begins inside and flows out...


the day i went to a concert... a jazz concert!

Date achieved: 11 August 2007

the jazz scenario in kota kinabalu is still limited to a very minute group of jazz-lovers but most of the people around does not mind any music as long as it's good

Something that I've always wanted to do, and finally given a chance at it, was to attend a Jazz Appreciation Concert. I have had many opportunities before, I mean, it happened right under my nose a couple of times while I was still studying, but never got the money for it.

the appetizer for the night was presented by a local group from SIA. they were quite good, really..

It was a fine show, well, Jazz can't really go wrong (my biased opinion) and I enjoyed myself tremendously that night. The concert started on time, the bands were great, but I feel that KK people still has a long way to go in Jazz appreciation.

More than a Jazz Appreciation night, it was really a night for the upper middle and upper class people to come out, put on skimpy dresses and thick make-up, hit a few beers, meet influential people... and make a lot of noise through-out the show.

In more than one occasion I was really tempted to shush some people and ask them to shut-up.

There is a plan to make this a yearly event. Well, yea, I'd like that.

this group played a fusion of east and west, the usual jazz instruments and erhu - the result, splendid

another of those local bands

double take - mia palencia and roger wang... i took pride in telling that roger actually strung my guitar when i bought it from his shop some years back

and of course, the highlight of the night was a photo session with my favourite local jazz duo (Sandra, Mia, Roger and myself)


the one about getting my hands dirty

The government is very sensitive when it comes to addressing our country's current issues on sex-trades, and even more when it comes to the people involved in it. The sexual-taboo is not exactly particular to our country alone but also generally a culture of the common Asians. While trying to be sensitive in addressing prostitutes, and calling them 'commercial sex-workers' so as to reduce the negative connotation attached to such trades, we are also very prone to avoid talking about them at all, or even worse, to pretend that such issue is not that big a deal to us.

The society, at large, is uneasy when forced to confront the reality of these issues. Even for us, at the medical level, try to manipulate words and give broad-covering names to address a certain group of people that you-know and I-know. I am referring to the "marginalised group" that we target, as vulnerable to HIV infection and AIDS.

Who doesn't know what we are talking about when use the phrase "marginalised group" - but to the untrained, anybody can be marginalised in any given context. So what are we trying to achieve here,.. sensitivity and tactfulness - but at the cost of ignorance?

I think the world is ignorant enough as it is already.

Running a meeting a few weeks back brought me to realise, that I too may have a pinch of reservation when it comes to the marginalised groups. I am thinking specifically of the transvestites that roam the night scenes, cat-calling passers-by with their more often than not gruffy voices and sometimes proudly showing off the effect of injectable steroids on their pseudo-appendages. These are the people that too little in the world is willing to work with.

I once gave the permission to a friend to give me a good tight slap on the face - if I ever loose sight of our purpose - our mission, that is to preserve, or fight for, the quality of life. Sounds like a terribly big word - QUALITY OF LIFE. Sometimes I do find myself pondering into its deeper meaning, as if it needs lots and lots of explanation to comprehend.

I once belong to a group of activist yuppies, going round a red lantern district of Kuala Lumpur, fighting for quality of life. We were the Rounders of Jeffrey Rounds. Other members reading this may not exactly conform or agree to my definition of purpose, but there lies the beauty of JR. Apart from about four common ground rules, we were pretty free to come up with our own philosophy and purpose regarding our participation in JR.

Three out of four of the ground rules were basically just to cover for our safety: do not carry money, always wear shoes and always watch for each-others' backs (or back-sides, as we like to put it) and number 4 actually states that we are here on a neutral banner: which pretty much says that people of any religion, race, motives, anything, can come along.

Yep, those were the days when bills and taxes were not much an agenda in our daily lives.

Another remarkable thing about JR was how the ideology of it were spread. Being young and eager, the world belonged to those with a clear vision and an interesting philosophy. Well, clear vision wasn't really one of our greatest strength, as we too build our ideas as we went along, but being able to relate the philosophy behind JR and transplant it in the head of others was the key strategy that kept us going for years, come rain or -- no rain.

One other thing about JR that I just have to mention here, was the willingness to get down and dirty. The street people were very sensitive to whether or not we were sincere in our approach, as we were not the only group going around the area doing 'charity'. So the only way (to me, at least, I can't think of any other better ways) to scrap off prejudices and get down to their level, was really to get down to their level, literally. We would come and sit on the floor, cross-legged, keeping our eyes peeled for stray needles and cockroaches as we listened to their stories. Everybody has a story to tell, and if listening to them will elevate their morale for at least 2 minutes, hey, we're all ears.

So back to my current story. As I was saying... what the world needs more of, is people who are willing to get down and get their hands dirty. As I realised that the HIV picture will never come down by having me sitting down in my air-cond room analysing figures months after months, I will have to come down and and get my hands dirty.

As we were told, once a rounder, always a rounder.


the day i took a walk in the rain...

date achieved: 15 August 2007

my boss getting a good dose of skyjuice

I remembered the last time I had a good walk in the rain was with Vic, probably some 8 years ago, from SFX Church after Sunday Mass to Sunway Pyramid. A whole 45 minutes of poedal action in the rain, avoiding splashes from motor-vehicles on the Federal Highway. Crazy, but it was all fun..

In fact, for some people, especially for Vic, Keets and some other people I know, walking is a purely spiritual thing. Walking cleanses the soul, they claimed, as they boasted of a 40km adventure cross bushes and highways a while ago.

For me, the big thing was not in the walking alone, but also in the rain. I used to watch the sky and got my cycling gears ready as the clouds gathered.

My most recent adventure out in the rain was in Hong Kong few days back. I put my money where the travel book said it would be hot and humid because of summer, but I never imagined the humidity would drench me out in the open. I can't say that I welcomed the rain as much as I did many years ago. But fun was still fun, and though it did not do much good 'cleansing' as it soaked my Camel loafers, I did enjoy the downpour.

So, yes, I walked in the rain - and this is one of thing I wanted to achieve this year.


the one about the song that's been playing in my mind

James Taylor

Just yesterday morning they let me know you were gone
Susanne the plans they made put an end to you
I walked out this morning and I wrote down this song
I just can't remember who to send it to

I've seen fire and I've seen rain
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I'd see you again

Won't you look down upon me, Jesus
You've got to help me make a stand
You've just got to see me through another day
My body's aching and my time is at hand
And I won't make it any other way

Oh, I've seen fire and I've seen rain
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I'd see you again

Been walking my mind to an easy time my back turned towards the sun
Lord knows when the cold wind blows it'll turn your head around
Well, there's hours of time on the telephone line to talk about things
to come
Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground

Oh, I've seen fire and I've seen rain
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I'd see you, baby, one more time again, now

Thought I'd see you one more time again
There's just a few things coming my way this time around, now
Thought I'd see you, thought I'd see you fire and rain, now

the one about the movie: 9 naga

the actual controversy is the belly button and the strands of hair noted under it. rubbish...

We all love a feel good movie on a weekend. I have a fancy for Indonesian movie, especially the ones directed by Rudi Soedjarwo, among many, Ada Apa Dengan Cinta? (Keets, right?), Tentang Dia and 9 Naga. I do not know if he has released any newer movies but the ones I have, I watched over and over again.

Just now I was in a mood for the rerun of 9 Naga.

The story tells of a special relationship between 3 youngsters: Marwan, Donny and Lenny, who has been friends since childhood. They met through a fated tragedy, involving a lot of violence and death, a bloody one at that, unexpected profitability from the incident and from then on became a team of hitmen, taking lives for money.

What I like about the movie, is definitely the cinematography. The story-line about standing up for each other, and going through the pain of losses, grips tight on the heart.

I didn't know the movie went through quite a bumpy ride before its release, as reported in Detikcom - Indonesia's Entertainment Website - specifically 2 issues were brought up for questioning.

First, was the tag-line for the movie that went: Manusia terbaik di Indonesia adalah seorang penjahat. Rudy got a lot of trouble with the tagline and was forced to take it off before release.

Another hiccup, was the poster - that showed the guy's belly-button (or as they call it in Indon, pusar) Probably it has got something to do with aurat, but I took the liberty to post up the actual banned poster up here.

You think I'm joking about this... as taken from

Hal kedua yang bikin "gerah" LSF adalah foto Fauzi Baadila yang memperlihatkan pusarnya di poster film itu. "Hal lain adalah pusar dan soal rambut yang terlihat di bawah pusar dalam foto di poster itu. Memang masih pakai celana tapi bisa menimbulkan penafsiran yang negatif. Kami juga minta supaya itu ditutup saja," ucap Titie.

Tacky taglines and belly buttons aside, I still think this movie is a winning must see. Watch it for the abstract meanings, watch it for the friendship and loyalty so nicely captured in the acting. Watch it for the superb script. I have watched the movie countless times, and will do again some other time... it's THAT good... have a go at it.

(while watching this, I was reminded of the friends I spent most of my formative years with - fighting for a cause, standing for our beliefs... guys, I'm waiting here, for when you all come back, we'll do it all over again...)

The feel good part about this movie is having people in my mind - of my friends.

p/s: Damn it, I miss you all!


the one about my trip to sibu...

here I go again...

With so many travels and hotel stays, I've decided that it would be futile to keep up with my caloric intakes... not that it is impossible, just that.... well excuses shmexcuses, I just don't feel like doing it for now...

i can still do this with one hand tied, blindfolded and turned round and round 10 times...

My last travelling itenerary brought me over to the rear end of the Borneon Dog-shaped map, Sarawak. Spent a week in Sibu attending a course on Scientific Writing for Publication.

not very different I'd say...

I had to sit through a 5 hours transit for a connecting flight from Kuching before getting on board again for Sibu. Kuching, after weighing the enormous hu ha about how it is much cleaner than my very own KK, and how much livelier, more beautiful and all sort of unseen glories, I concluded that I still like KK better.

rajang river - the longest in Malaysia

waterfront walk in Kuching - Sunday morning and almost all the shops are closed...

The whole experience brought me back to a very recent past, during my pre-clinical days when we were force-fed modules on research methods and statistical analysis bla-bla-bla... I thought as I grew older and more mature, I'd be able to tolerate more of these serious stuffs... which proved me wrong right at the first quarter of the hour. Soundly asleep and literally soundly asleep, I had to be shaken awake a few times by the poor guy next to me.

But Sibu as a town isn't bad at all... what I'd imagine to be something like Kudat or maybe Lahad Datu turned out to be as big as KK itself - packed, colourful and interesting.

Taking a stroll at night across the hotel I stayed in (Kingwood Hotel) there was a bigger than life Swan, with an equally bigger than life head. It's cute, and nothing else. Sibu was christened the swan city, believed to be the landing pad for swans migrating across the equator but according to some honest locals, they'd never seen any of those around... Wikipedia gave a more brutally honest account on how the town's connection to this particular avian came about, just check it out.


Just like Kuching, Sibu (I'm beginning to suspect the whole of Sarawak) does not have any proper shopping malls, with the most happening one being Parkson. I was asking around when I arrived in Kuching, where is the recommended shopping mall to hang out (I need aircond) and I was suggested Parkson. When I reached Sibu, I asked the same question, and was again told Parkson..

"Parkson juga?"

So this is Parkson, the most happening hang out place in Sibu (sure beats Lahads Datu's Milimewa anytime)...

It only took approximately 37minutes to walk around the mall before you finished the whole tour...

and lunch wasn't quite a selection... guess what did i have?

the Sibu Jetty

I particularly appreciate the marketplace - taxi uncle that brought us for a tour claimed that this is the biggest market plaza in Malaysia - I don't know, I have to check in the Malaysia Book of Records to be sure - but I enjoyed most hunting for pics here...

varieties of vegetables...

dried groceries - salted shrimps here are called udang lurus - after the way they straighten the shrimps



This could be a local version of McD's Chicken Foldover... this one wins by its super freshness!

no chicken were harmed (yet) during the photography session

there's also McDucks Foldover

Courses are the only time I can rest actually, and during one of the free afternoons, I took chance to watch Harry Porter in Sibu's only cineplex - only RM5 and free seating - reminiscent of my earlier days watching movies at Rex Cinema at Petaling Street.

of all places...