Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas 2011

I am celebrating Christmas for the first time in a far away land... Away from the usual smell of puto bungbong in the air, away from the sound of little boys and girls singing to the usual Pinoy melody, away from the Titos, Titas, Kuyas and Ates that I usually share the days with. But everything's okay because this is also the first Christmas that I will spend with my one and only.

We usually spend Christmases away from each other. While I rumble with my aunts, uncles and cousins over the microphone of the Videoke playing all night, she is with her own aunts and uncles, sharing a lot of laughs, stories, gossips, and even play games with nieces and cousins. This is the first time that we were together. And this time, it's just the two of us. :) Oh, I forgot. We are three. One is comfortably nestling in Bubbles' womb.

Even when we are miles away from home, we are happy... We are happy with each other's company, anticipating the next few weeks where we will be three. Our first and last Christmas alone. Next year, there will be three... :)

Happy Holidays!!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

On Fatherhood

Less than two months to go and I am officially embarking on a new road called Fatherhood. Fatherhood, a path I kept on imagining but could not fathom. A journey too complex that no perfect formula exists to go through it smoothly. Since Bubbles conceive our little boy, never was there a day that I ask myself if I am up to the task. I sometimes ask Bub if I am up for it. I always end my reflection with a sigh and a phrase of encouragement, "Of course I can." Amidst the incomprehensible bliss and excitement for little Juancho to come, there is an underlying nervousness, often fear for the task at hand. The last time I got nervous this much was when I was graduating college, thinking about how I could succeed in the "real" world and make good money. This, I think is a hundred times more daunting. Now, a life will depend on me.

While the mother provides the love, the serenity, the order and the light, the father gives the guidance, the direction, the courage, the wisdom. This partnership among shapes the child. I sure hope I give my fair share. 

Am I ready? They say that a person has some sort of an auto-responsibility mode, that when you know someone depends on you, you automatically step up. Am I up for it? Can I wake up in the middle of the night not just to take a bathroom break, but to feed my baby in 3-hour intervals?

When Juancho grows up, am I a role model? Would he be proud of me?

While his mother teaches him how to read, write and be an outstanding student, will I be able to teach him how to be a street smart, how to get things done, how to be a good leader?

Will I be able to teach him what's right and wrong? Will I be able to discipline him in the manner most effective? 

Will I have the strength to wake up in the morning and take him to school? Will I have the patience to wait for him during dismissal, or fetch him when it is late and he needs a ride home? 

Will I be able to provide for his tuition? Will I be able to provide for the college of his choice? 

These are only few of the questions that are yet to be answered. Amidst all these concerns, there is only one thing I can promise my boy: I will try my best to give him the best, to shape him to be the best that he can be. Can I do all these? Of course I can. Am I ready for this? I am and I will be...

I have personally witnessed this daunting task successfully done. Thanks Dad! I'll make sure I emulate all the good things you and Mom have shown me with Little Juancho.

Can't wait to see you Juancho! :) 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Manny Pacquiao: Still the Welterweight Champion

As expected, Manny Pacquiao pulled off another thriller of a fight during November 12's Pacquiao-Marquez III. Just like any boxing rivalries old and new, the Manny Pacquiao - Juan Manuel Marquez came in three. And on the third fight, it was still a close one. Though unclear until just before the scorecards were announced, there shouldn't be any doubt after two out of three judges gave the fight to Manny. This should have ended the questions.But of course, just like any other close-call fights, many question the authenticity of the win. 

View from our TV

For me, I can sum the fight up to two points why we shouldn't question the decision of the fight:

1. Two out of three judges called it a victory. One of them decided that it was a tie. Nobody decided it was Juan Manuel Marquez who won. So Marquez, why say that you have been robbed? In the first fight, judges were confused on who won, thus a tie. On the second fight, one judge saw that Marquez won. Thus, the split decision. This time, nobody saw Marquez win, and Pacquiao won by more than two points at least for the two judges. Need I say more? Why question the decision of three people who were as close to the fight as possible? I believe we have no right to question the judges' decisions, unless we were watching as close as them in the ring. 

2. A counter-puncher challenger normally doesn't work. If you are the challenger, you should show that you are hungry for the championship, and not just wait for the champion to make a mistake. I agree that Marquez is a great fighter, but in this fight, he was cautious, he wasn't that hungry. He must have had a heavy lunch that dwindled his hunger for the title. 

Juan Manuel Marquez is a great fighter, probably the best Manny Pacquiao has ever fought. It wasn't the most decisive of Manny's fights, but has indeed brought us another classic. In the end, Manny proved to be the more mature and better fighter, as how the judges saw it. As Dom Toretto put it in the first installment Fast and the Furious, " It doesn't matter if you win by an inch or a mile; winning's winning." Better luck next time, Marquez. That is, if there is a next time.

Hey Floyd, this was a close call. Maybe this fight will give you the ball-boost to challenge our dear Manny. :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fall 2011

My first-ever fall seems to be the shortest season of the year. As early as October 29, snow was falling the fall skies of DC. And by now, we are experiencing a pre-winter temperature, ranging from the high-forties to the low sixties. Brrrr...

The shot above was taken in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. We went there to see its famous foliage in the fall, as the season helps shave off the leaves of the trees. But to our surprise, as we were only going on our second month of the fall, leaves have already fallen, and trees are now on winter mode. There were very few leaves left on trees, and a couple of them we see above.

Is the earth really shifting, or is it really just the time of the century where seasons change and weird things happen?

*Photo taken using Nikon D3100

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Halloween Happening

Bubbles and I experienced the Halloween festivities in Georgetown. It was fun to see all the people dressed in their best costumes of frightening, amusing, even funny characters, ghosts, ghouls, superheroes and even cartoon characters. The sidewalks of M Street (Georgetown side) were filled with people: bystanders, media, picture-takers, and cops. All were having fun watching the characters stroll the street, strut and frighten the kids, even adults. Here are a few pictures:

Man without a face
Their version of the white lady

Truly scary...

Me and my posse
I just noticed that there weren't too many frightening characters they portray, except for a few, most notable the guy who had the mask of Moammar Ghadafi! NOw that was freaky!

I miss the Filipino folklore characters who really give the little kids and even the old one the fear of their lives. Halloween parties in the Philippines the past few years depict these characters real good! :) 

Here is a list of my favorite characters that we won't see in a Georgetown Halloween party: 

1. Tiktik - I remember my yaya telling me the stories of pregnant women of their village remaining indoors especially when it is near dusk because these mythical characters hover around their village searching for fetuses to devour. To counter these baby-eaters, always keep garlic in your house. Apparently they're scared of sauteed food. 

2.Manananggal - Those halflings. Literally. those women who split their bodies in two, where they leave their torso on land as half of them fly and hover around barrios searching for kids and women as food. To fight these monsters, people should find their torsos in the woods and pour salt so that their other half won't be able to reconnect to the torso. Although, folks didn't specify which salt is most effective: rock, iodized, powder, or kosher... And another thing: why aren't there male manananggals? I never did ask about that from these story-tellers.

3. Kapre - These hairy, tall guys give you the scare of your lives especially when you have a tall tree in front of your house. I was just thinking who will win in a boxing match between the kapre and basketball legend Bonnel Balingit...

4. Tikbalang - Our version of the Centaur (only that ours have the face of a horse and the body of a man), stories of these half-man, half-horse creatures are our yayas' way of keeping us indoors in the evening. I was told that these tikbalangs invite children to be with them to their world. 

5. White Lady - be careful not to pass by these white women with long straight black hair. They are not Lux or Pantene commercial models. They are said to be lost spirits still hovering the streets seeking justice and peace. The most famous story of the White Lady is that of Balete Drive.

I would to see these Filipinos living here to wear such costumes of these mythical characters... I'm planning to wear the kapre costume but Police might grab me and arrest me for indicent exposure... 

Happy Halloween! 

The smell only Filipinos can love

We were given an ample provision of dried fish from back home when we had our two-week vacation in October. We had Danggit, Squid, and Tuyo. I was hoping for a supply of anchovies, or dilis, but mom said they were out-of-stock in our local market. Dried fish has been an integral part of Filipino cuisine. Even if we are in far away countries, we still try our best to have supply of the dried stuff in our fridge, and enjoy them for breakfast, lunch or even dinner. Filipinos usually sneak in a few pounds of these dried fish and squid, cook them in places with very high ventilation and definitely away from the neighbors; or else firemen, or even policemen will come knocking at your door a few minutes after you start cooking.

Not all people smell the same. People have distinct smell depending on their places of origin, even if all people would wear the latest from Kenzo, Dolce and Gabbana, Paco Rabanne, or Brut. For example, no matter how they try, Americans would have the smell of milk. African Americans also have distinct smell. Same with Chinese, Koreans, and of course, Indians. Since we are islanders, people who smell us tell us that we Filipinos smell like fish. Not dried fish hopefully. This is primarily because of what we eat. We perspire what we eat, thus emitting the smell of our food. And it doesn’t smell too good if we work out after eating onions, garlic, and of course, dried fish… gwarrrrkkkk.

A couple of days ago we cooked the danggit that we took home from the Philippines. The danggit was soooo good, having that ultra crispy texture and salty taste. It was to die for. Our friend Aja stopped by to give us our pasalubongs from New York: no, not your traditional Yankees cap or “I heart NY” shirt, but rather two servings of Jolli-Spaghetti and 2-pc Chicken Joy from the Queens branch of the greatest Pinoy fastfood of all time, the fat funny, funky bee, Jollibee. We returned the favor by cooking dinner for her, with the best combination ever: Sinigang na Baboy and Danggit. If we were to be rated by Nigella Lawson or Ina Garten about our culinary combination, we’d be given a flat F-mark for that. But for us, it was the best. We had a hearty, plenty dinner, while leaving our kitchen, dining and living rooms heavily scented by the combination of the sinigang mix and the salty sensation of the danggit. Neither scented candle, nor Lysol can take the smell away. You need a few days for it to just be diffused into the outside air! But the heavenly taste of the danggit was all that mattered. It just gave us a portion of home. We were eating the danggit and sinigang as we listen to how John Lloyd implies that he and Shaina are now separated.

On Tuesday, I agreed that my lunch for the office is the dried squid. Bubbles woke up early that day to fry them, while I attend to my early-morning duties: sleep. I was awakened by that familiar smell, seeping through the tiny holes of our bedroom door. I thought the door was open because normally the smell of the food would not enter the bedroom. I underestimated the power of Pusit… That smell woke me up real fast, as I tried to extinguish the scent by spraying Lysol all over the place. And I was successful. I could smell both the dried squid and the Linen scent of Lysol at the same time. The freshener did not take out the smell, it just added another scent. Fantastic.

As Bubbles and I were walking to the doctor (she had gestational diabetes test this day), I smelled the familiar scent of home. I was nowhere near home but I could still smell that combination of linen and squid… Then, I realized: the smell stuck to my shirt and jacket! Luckily I was able to sneak into the office without meeting anyone or else somebody might have called the cops or fire brigade already. Knowing that the scent of the dried squid was overwhelmingly strong, I needed to do my fastest lunch break ever in our pantry. The squid is good and the smell, terrific. That is of course based on someone who was born and raised to tell that that scent was great. But for a modern American neighborhood, they would think otherwise. :) So I instantly finished my squid, washed the container and sprayed some alcohol and my tummy was satisfied. I won’t do the stunt again, in a few months again though. Probably during the summer so I can eat somewhere with proper ventilation. :)

Dried fish: it surely has that smell that only a Filipino could love. I would love to have a weekly fix of this delicious breakfast. I’ll make sure to also stack up on some fresheners just in case non-Filipino visitors come by (which is very seldom).


Thursday, October 27, 2011

A different Christmas this year

It's just a little over 60 days to go before Christmas. We're stuck at home because Bubbles is no longer allowed to travel, or even move much. She is almost due by Christmas time...

I have to get used to a new Christmas atmosphere. I have to tell myself that this is the new Christmas:

1. There will be no Christmas countdowns by local reporters.
2. There are no Christmas lights in September
3. "I'm dreaming of a White Christmas" has become a reality
4. I no longer need to shout "patatawarin!" to people singing Christmas carols in front of our gate. And for one, we have no gate!
5. I don't need to worry about what to buy for the next category of "Monito, monita."
6. I don't need to wait for All Saint's Day to put up Christmas decors. We only need to put up decors on the 24th and bring them down on the 26th...
7. I don't need to worry about new crispy 20- or 50- peso bills for our "inaanaks" knocking on our doors early Christmas day.
8. I don't have to wake up early in the morning to attempt to attend mass, only to end up not attending because I was too sleepy. whoops. :)
9. I no longer have a 10-day holiday (from the 23rd to the 2nd of January). If I don't work, I don't get paid. Period.
10. I have to forget about the rowdy noche buenas and exchange gifts of Christmas Eve for the time being.

Bubbles and I will get the first hand experience of an American Christmas. It will be a totally different experience, but at least we have each other as our permanent monito/monita to exchange gifts with. And pretty soon, little Juancho is going to be helping us open gifts from friends and family. We'll miss the Pinoy Christmas, definitely.

Advanced Merry Christmas! Ay Halloween pa pala, then Thanksgiving. :)

Vacations, vacations...

The trouble with vacations is that it goes by so fast, you won’t realize it’s done until you wake up the next morning about to do your normal routine. That is how I felt a day after I took a 2-week vacation in Manila. Short and sweet: two words to describe our stay in Manila.
We have long prepared for this trip to Manila. Ticket was bought in April. Shopping for “pasalubong” began in May. Preparation took much longer than the actual trip!
With all those preparations, we almost weren’t allowed to fly. A month before the trip, Bub did the routine ultrasound/sonogram of our little baby, to find out if it’s going to be a boy or a girl! And we did find out. It’s going to be a boy! And we also found out another thing: the little boy’s placenta is lying lower than normal, or what doctors call a marginal previa. The doctor warned against strenuous activities, including TRAVEL. We told the doctor we needed this travel (to keep our sanity intact), so she advised for us to do another sonogram before we leave, which is around 3 days before departure. On October 5, we did another sonogram to check on how our little boy’s placenta is, and voila! It showed that it has migrated already, thus, we are clear to fly! Amen! Thus, on October 8, Saturday DC Time, we were on our way to the airport. Aja, our dear friend from way back in college, drove us to the airport, torturing herself into imagining that she is joining us on this trip, but only to wake up into the reality that she is just driving us there. :)
And so we flew. At 11pm on October 9 (Philippine time), we gazed at the familiar sight of the lights, that surround the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. We were home.
Days went by real fast. Bubbles and I needed to maximize our time so we decided to take time apart so we could do our individual activities. While Bubbles bonded with her sisters as they prepared for her eldest sister’s wedding, I also made up for lost time with my brother to play with his pasalubong, the Playstation 3. We played until the wee hours of the morning, as we exchanged victories one after another. Of course being an old-timer, I lost more, but that did not matter. What matters was that we were having a hell of a fun time together playing games and telling funny stories. Breakfasts with my parents all seemed so routine, just like when I was still single. Everything was a thing of the past, except of course the fact that I was 10 months married and about to be a father.
We didn’t go out much, we just stayed with our families. Bubbles stayed a couple of nights in our house so that my mom could have her share of pampering her daughter-in-law. We had a couple of homecoming parties, one with my loving aunts, uncles, and cousins, and another with my beloved colleagues from both my previous jobs. We were also able to attend the traditional Octoberfest, and as usual, it was held in my friend Mike’s place.
And of course, we spent a few nights in the hotel, to spend time with family as we celebrate our dear Ate’s wedding. It was a solemn, happy days for all of us, as we witness the much-awaited wedding our big boss, Concep, and her now bigger boss, Bogs. We were very fortunate to be part of the preparations and the actual execution, and also, the after-party. :)

Short and sweet. I never would want it any other way. No frills, just pure family, friends, food, and fun. What sucks about this vacation is waking up the day after it. I am still in the aftermath of that two-week blast. The trip just further stressed my resolve of going back very soon.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ang Pagninilay at Pag-alala ng isang Batang Batibot

Isa ako sa mga batang napasaya at napalaki ng mga aral ng Batibot. Ang Batibot: ang tambayan ng isang pagong na nagngangalang Pong at ang matsing na si Kiko, at ng kanilang mga pinakamamahal na kaibigan, kasama na sina Kuya Bodjie, Ate Shena, Kuya Mario, Kuya Dwight, Ate Isay, Kuya Ching, at marami pang iba. Sa huli ko na lamang nalaman na ang Batibot pala ay iyong mistulang silyang nakabakod sa puno sa gitna ng palaruan.

Bagamat ito’y hango sa palabas sa Amerika na Sesame Street, naituro ng Batibot ang kultura at aral Pilipino. Hindi natin maitatanggi na malaki ang naitulong ng palabas na Batibot sa mga batang manonood, hindi lamang sa larangan ng panitikan at sining na Pilipino, kundi pati na rin sa pang-araw-araw na buhay. Siguro’y sasang-ayon sa akin ang mga kapwa ko batang Batibot na hanggang ngayon ay hindi namin nakakalimutan ang mga ginintuang aral na itinuro ng palabas nito sa pamamagitan ng tula, kanta, at kuwento. Hayaan niyong magbanggit ako ng ilan sa mga hindi ko malilimutang bahagi ng Batibot:

1. Isda-da-da, isda – Sa kantang ito, tinuri sa atin ng Batibot ang bawat parte ng isang isda. Palikpik, taliptip, kaliskis, ang ilan lamang sa malalalim na salitang Pilipino na madali mo nang maituturo sa pakikinig at panonood lamang ng kantang ito. “Anong hayop ka ba? Sa tubig nakatira? May palikpik, dalawang mata, walang kamay, walang paa?

2. Balut, penoy – Sino ba naman ang makakalimot kung paano ginagawa ang balut sa Pateros? Eto ang isang yugto ng Batibot na kung saan ang “music video” ay mala-Ating Alamin ni Ka Gerry Geronimo ang dating, na kung saan sinusundan ng camera and mga itlog ng itik mulang pagkuha hanggang pagiging balut, na may background music na kinanta ng batikang mangangantang si Sylvia La Torre. “Balut, penoy, balut, bili na kayo ng itlog na balut…”

3. Mga Kuwento ni Kuya Bodjie: (Ang pamilya Ismid) – Ito ay isang kuwentong ibinahagi ni Kuya Bodjie sa isa sa kanyang mga pagkukuwento. Ang Pamilya Ismid ay isang pamilya ng mga Baboy na matapobre at hindi mahilig makipagkapwa-tao (este baboy). Ang nais lamang nila ay manatili sa bahay at pagandahin ang kanilang nagkukulutang mga buntot. Nang minsang nagkaroon ng sakuna sa kanilang baryo, nasunugan ang pamilya Ismid at doon nila natutunan kung paano makipagkapwa tao. Napakasimpleng kuwento na may ginintuang aral.

4. Ako ang kapitbahay, kapitbahay niyo – Isa na naming kantang mananatili sa iyong isipan kahit ilang oras matapos ang segment na ito sa Batibot. Ipinapakilala ditto ng Batibot ang iba’t ibang tao sa paligid ng inyong komunidad: Pulis, Metro Aide (noong panahon na wala pang MMDA), Karpintero, Tubero, Magtataho, Panadero, at kung anu-ano pa. Magpapakita ng kung anu-anong mga bagay na gamit ng taong ito upang lalo mo siyang makilala. Halimbawa sa Pulis, papakita isa-isa ang kanyang tsapa, silbato, batuta, sombrero. Para makilala mong pulis siya. “Kilala niyo ako, kilala niyo ako, ako’y isa sa kapitbahay kapitbahay ninyo!!!”

5. Pagsama-samahin ang pare-pareho – Isang simple ngunit praktikal na aral na ating nakuha sa Batibot: Ang magkakapareho, pagsamahin. Sa lahat ng bagay magagamit mo yan, hindi lang sa paglalaba o sa pagsasalansan ng gamit sa mga bodega. “Ang magkakatulad ay ating igrupo. Kay saying libangan, kay daling gawin.”

6. Tinapang bangus – Isa na namang segment sa Batibot na hinding hindi ko makalimutan. Pinakita ng Batibot sa kanilang Music Video ang paggawa ng Tinapang Bangus, at kung paano pagsaluhan itong ng mga pamilya Pilipino. Matapos ang kantang ito ay mapapabili ka talaga ng tinapang bangus sa palengke. “Tinapang bangus, tinapang bangus, masarap at masustansya.”

7. Sitsiritsit, Alibangbang – Ang magbarkadang alien na sina Sitsiritsit at Alibangbang at ang kanilang nakakahawang pagpasok sa eksena ay walang tigil na humahanap ng mga bagong kaalaman sa mundo ng mga tao. “Sitsiritsit, Alibangbang (repeat 3x).”

8. Ang bakang si Puti – Alagang alaga naming si Puti. Yan ang awit ng ilang mga batang may kaibigang baka na nagbibigay sa kanila ng tuwa’t saya. Isa na naman sa mga kantang Batibot na nagbibigay aliw at tuwa

9. Perlas na bilog, wag tutulog tulog, sabihin agad sa kin ang sagot. Ba be bi bo bu! – Sabay iilaw ang bolang Kristal ni Manang Bola at masasagot ang katanungan ng bawat batang lumalapit sa kanya. Ang kakaibang malumanay na boses ni Manag Bola ay nakatatak sa aking isipan hanggang ngayon.

10. Teatro bulilit – Ang segment na ito ay madalas kong gayahin noong ako’y bata. Nagdodrawing ako ng mukha sa aking daliri at gagawa ng kuwento at mayroon na akong munting puppet show. Napakagaling na konsepto ng pang-aliw sa mga kabataan. Sa mumunting mga daliri, marami ang natuwa sa kuwento hinahatid nila.

At paminsan-minsan, may ilang mga segment ang Batibot na nagpapakita sa ilang mga katha n gating mga kapatid na Pilipino sa iba’t ibang parte ng mundo. Halimbawa’y ang paggawa ng basket na rattan, at kung anu-ano pa…

Sinong batang Batibot nga ba ang makakalimot sa ganitong mga eksena? Isa sa mga kagalingan ng palabas na ito ay ang pagkiliti sa damdamin ng bawat batang Pilipino. Ito ay nagagawa nila sa tulong na rin ng mga tauhan at mga puppet na kumakatawan sa bawat kakatwa, minsan ay nakakainis na katangian ng mga Pilipino. Sa mga tauhang ito, may ilan din akong paborito:

1. Irma Daldal at Direk – Sinong batang Batibot ang makakalimot sa batikang aktres na palaging nagkakamali sa eksena, na kung saan sumisigaw si Direk ng “CUT!” sa bawat maling katagang sambitin ni Irma? Ipinapakita ng eksenang ito ang pagmamahal ng Pilipino sa sining ng pinilakang tabing at ang pagkahumaling natin sa mga artista. Kaya’t si Irma ang kumakatawan sa mga taong ito, na kahit ilang ulit magkamali ay minamahal ng masa.

2. Ate Ningning at Gingging – Paggalang sa kapatid ang aral na dinudulot ng magkalarong magkapatid na ito. Sa bawat suliraning kaharapin ng dalawa ay palaging nakahahanap sila ng solusyon. Ipinapakitang halimbawa ito ng dakilang pagmamahalan ng magkapatid.

3. Manang Bola – Paggalang sa matatanda ang nasi ipakita sa mga eksenang kasama si Manang Bola. Sa tuwing kokonsulta si Manang Bola sa kanyang Bolang Kristal tiyak may kasagutan siya sa bawat batang magtatanong sa kanya.

4. Kapitan Basa – Ang sikat na superhero ng Batibot, ang pangunahing misyon ni Kapitan Basa ay hikayatin ang mga bata na magbasa nang lumawak ang kanilang kaalaman.

5. Pong Pagong – Ang palaging matanong na si Pong ay ang simbolo ng isang batang pilit tinutuklas ang kanyang kapaligiran. Sa tuwing may bago siyang natututunan maririnig natin ang tunog ng kanyang pagkasabik: Wheeeeeeee!

6. Kiko Matsing – Ang makulit na si Kiko ay ang simbolo ng isang batang mapaglaro. Makulit, matanong, masayahin, tulad ng isang batang masayang sinasamsam ang kanyang kabataan.

7. Kuya Mario – Sino ba ang makakalimot sa mababang tono ng boses ni Kuya Maryo na isang jeepney driver, isang matalinong Jeepney driver. At mahilig kumanta. :)

8. Ate Isay – ang tagapagpayo ni Kiko at Pong, si Ate Isay na palaging binibiyayaan ng himig ang dalawa

9. Ate Shena – Ang isa sa mga pangunahing tauhan ng Batibot, si Ate Shena ang tagapagpayo at tagakuwento sa mga batang Batibot. Hanggang ngayon sa tuwing nakikita ko siya sa ilang mga pagkakataon ay hindi ko maiwasang mapasabi ng “uy si Ate Shena!” Ang ate ng bawat batang Batibot.

10. Kuya Bodjie – Ang pinakatumatak na kuya sa lahat. Ang tagapagpayo, tagakuwento, tagalathala, at voice over na rin ng Batibot. Isa siyang alamat para sa ming mga batang Batibot. Hindi hindi naming makakalimutan ang mga kuwento niya. Ako, hindi ko malilimutan ang kuwento niya tungkol sa pamilya Ismid.

Ilan lamang ito sa mga tumatak sa aking kaisipan nung ako’y bata pa. Masasabi kong bilang isang batang Batibot, malaki ang naitulong ng palabas na ito sa akin sa paghubog ng aking kaisipan bilang isang Pilipino. Nakalulungkot isipin na wala nang palabas na katulad nito sa Pilipinas. Ito ay dahil mas gusto ng mga network na Pilipino na kumita ng malaki kaysa tumulong sa pagpapalago ng kaisipan ng kabataan. Hindi kasi bumebenta ang palabas na pambata, at hindi pinapanood kung ito’y hindi telenovela o nagpapamigay ng pera. Nakalulungkot namang talaga.

Oras na siguro upang ibalik ang mga palabas na tulad ito nang hindi naman lumaki ang mga kabataan Pilipino na walang ibang alam kundi kantahin ang mga awitin ni Willie Revillame na madalas ay walang katuturan o hindi kinapupulutan ng aral. Panahon na upang tumulong ang Philippine media sa pagsulong ng mas malalim na kaisipan ng kabataang Pilipino. Panahon na upang magkaroon ng mga palabas na may katuturan… GMA, ABS-CBN, kayo ang pag-asa namin. Utang na loob, pahingi naman po ng mga palabas na may katuturan sa mga kabataan Pilipino! Aking nabalitaan na sinubukang buhaying ng TV-5 ang Batibot. Nawa'y mapalawig pa ang palabas na ito!

Ako po ay batang Batibot. Pinalaki ako ng mga kanta at kuwento nito at masasabi kong ito ay nakatulong sa aking paglaking maliksi at masigla…

Malamang ikaw din ay may paboritong parte ng Batibot. Maaaring magbahagi sa pamamagitan ng pagkomento. :)


“Pagmulat ng mata, langit nakatawa sa Batibot.."

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Amigo: In US Theaters 2 September 2011

It is a rare occasion to see Filipino movies being shown in foreign theaters. And if they happen, Filipinos must show their utmost support! That is what I do as a member of the Filipino community here in DC. Amigo, an independent film about the Philippine-American War is to be shown in Washington DC, Gaithersburg and Virginia Beach on September 2, 2011! It will also be shown in 15 other states in the US!

This movie has a cast of great actors from both the US and the Philippines, headed by one of the best Filipino actors of this generation, Mr. Joel Torre, award-winning veteran great Mr. Chris Cooper and and a roster of Filipino greats like Ronnie Lazaro, Rio Locsin, John Apacible, Pen Medina and Bembol Roco.

I was fortunate to meet Joel Torre in his presscon here in DC.

Amigo's synopsis:

AMIGO, the 17th feature film from Academy Award-nominated writer-director John Sayles, stars legendary Filipino actor Joel Torre as Rafael, a village mayor caught in the murderous crossfire of the Philippine-American War.

When U.S. troops occupy his village, Rafael comes under pressure from a tough-as-nails officer (Chris Cooper) to help the Americans in their hunt for Filipino guerilla fighters. But Rafael’s brother (Ronnie Lazaro) is the head of the local guerillas, and considers anyone who cooperates with the Americans to be a traitor. Rafael quickly finds himself forced to make the impossible, potentially deadly decisions faced by ordinary civilians in an occupied country.

A powerful drama of friendship, betrayal, romance and heartbreaking violence, AMIGO is a page torn from the untold history of the Philippines, and a mirror of today’s unresolvable conflicts.


I sure hope Filipinos in the area watch this movie and bring with them their non-Filipino friends so that they could understand and learn what history books seldom brings out. It is for the whole world to see that our relations with the US is not entirely a bed of roses, but started out as a thorny one. At the same time, it is to show the world how Filipinos survive amidst the war, and how they cope and learn and thrive in the midst of oppression or struggle.

Kudos to John Sayles for taking this opportunity and to Joel Torre and the entire Filipino cast for masterfully braving this project. Mabuhay kayong lahat!

To know more about Amigo, visit

Friday, August 05, 2011

God works in mysterious ways...

No matter how clich√© this may sound, God indeed works in mysterious ways. And I do know He is on my side and He trusts me so much. Fatherhood is one good sign that He does trust me that I can carry on my back the responsibility of becoming a parent. So does He trust my wife, to mother a child. And we are, in God’s guidance, about to embark on another journey called starting a family. As of this writing Bubbles is going on her 15th week. :)

Our unexpected gift came last May. I just started work (thank God that I was able to find work early in my stay in DC!) on May 2nd, and Bubbles was busy preparing for her big event, the annual Independence Day festivities. In the midst of the busy schedules, we would also attend receptions, and even watched a Weezer concert! We were oblivious of the fact that Bubbles is already on her way! On the 28th of May, we noticed that Bubbles’ monthly visitor hasn’t arrived yet and we were a bit “concerned” since the visitor comes regularly. Thus, we decided to take a little experiment called the “Home Pregnancy Test.” Never did we know that the little plastic stick could change our lives that day.

I went out for a few errands and Bubbles decided to stay home to finish some chores. I got back a few hours later. As usual, I knocked on the door, she opened, I entered, sorted the grocery on the table, and decided to go to the bathroom. I didn’t notice anything different except of course for having a pail, detergent, gloves and scrubs in the bathtub since Bubbles was supposed to be busy cleaning the toilet. Until I noticed a recognizable plastic stick we both a couple of days ago in a grocery nearby, and alas! I saw two pink lines crossing the two boxes! I then ran back to Bubbles and gave her a big hug as we cried and celebrated the beginning of life in her tummy.

But of course, we needed to confirm it via a visit to an Ob-gyn. That was another great adventure. We were referred by a friend some good doctors, however, their clinics were packed and they are not taking in new customers until later July. So we decided to look for other options. Bubbles then remember she had met a doctor from the Filipino community who was then practicing and knew a lot of good doctors. She called her and she referred a few. One of the names in her list responded and gave us two appointments: one, a nurse appointment to do the lab work, and another, for the doctor’s appointment which can only happen on her supposed 8th week.

And so we came for her first appointment, the nurse tests. She insisted on going there even without a doctor just to confirm her pregnancy from a person, and not just a piece of plastic stick. We went in the clinic, she filled up some papers, then waited. After a few minutes we were fetched by the clinic administrator, telling us that we had the wrong clinic since they do not honor Bubbles’ insurance card! So we went out embarrassed and looked for another doctor. We again called Bubbles’ doctor friend and asked a few more names hoping that we find one that is accredited to her health insurance. Voilah! We found one! She gave two names who are partners in a different clinic from the same hospital that we were in. We called the clinic, scheduled for an appointment, and finally, on June 20th, in the middle of her 8th week, we were able to confirm from a doctor that she is indeed pregnant! Words could not express our feelings as we walk out of the clinic. We are going to be parents! Wow!

The Sonogram day - 18 July 2011

As I said, God works in mysterious ways. My child is supposed to show sign of life on his/her 3rd month. And by a very fortunate stroke of luck, Ichi, Bubbles’ sister was to be in town on that week! And since Ichi is with us that week, Bubbles’ Auntie Chit and Uncle Noy decided to fly in on that weekend too! So my child had an audience of 5 as we listen to his/her heartbeat for the first time!

The doctor initially did a routine checkup on Bubbles as we waited on the reception area for us to be called for the sonogram. We were then called, and I was escorted by Ichi, and Auntie Chit. Uncle Noy waited in the reception area. We entered the clinic and the doctor was surprised to see a big audience for my baby. She then asked a few questions to Bubbles about her weight, and how she felt, and then she asked the doctor back with questions on what to eat and not to eat. I even cracked a joke asking the doctor on what the husband can and cannot eat, which gave her a short chuckle. After a few minutes of what seemed to be the most exciting 5 minutes of our family life, the doctor then brought out what seemd to be the baby’s microphone, and the stage was set for his/her performance. Doc stroke some gel and afterwards stuck the mic in my wife’s tummy. And in an instant, we heard it… My baby’s first signs of life… Rub, dub, rub, dub to the tune of 150beats per second. There he/she was. My baby with a heartbeat…. Tears welled Bubbles’ and Auntie Chit’s eyes, and as for me, I held back my tears but I was bursting with joy deep inside as we listened to my baby’s first one-minute performance. I am going to be a daddy! I am! Yahooo!

God works in mysterious ways. I always tell it to myself. I remember my boss mention to me that somewhere, somehow, there is a laid out plan for all of us. No matter how bizarre life gets, there is always a plan. As for me, I kept on praying that I may be able to provide for my family. I prayed everytime that I will be ready to be a father as soon as I get to be a provider. And there it was, a job, that struck me like lightning and I suddenly felt the jolt of being back to working after a 4-month "vacation." And after a few days, we found out Bubbles was pregnant. For some reason, Ichi, Auntie Chit, and Uncle Noy had a chance to be with us to share with us this joy in my baby's first sonogram. Truly amazing. Things happen and they happen for a reason. They are all part of God's grand plan for us. Truly Amazing.

I thank God for entrusting me with a child, now 15 weeks on the way. I will ensure and am very much confident that I will not let Him down. I will try my best to raise a happy, wealthy, God-loving family as we go on through this adventure called life.

The adventure continues! :)

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

On the road to Fatherhood

It’s official! I am going to be a daddy by January! I am lost for words as to how happy I felt the day the home pregnancy test gave a two-line result (yes, it says, my wife is pregnant!). I always pray that I will be a good example to my child and I pray that I am and will always be a role model for him/her. :)


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Happy 150, Dr. Jose Rizal!

A hundred and fifty years old, that is our national hero, Jose Protacio Mercado Rizal y Alonso Realonda. To friends and family, Pepe, to us common men, Jose Rizal. On the 19th June 1861, never did any Spaniard expect that one man, a not too tall or fair one, a common-looking man, would be born to spur an oppressed nation into fighting for their freedom. Never have the Spaniards seen the potent powers of this short young man from Calamba, that he would be able to inspire millions of Filipinos from all over the nation. Pepe was truly a one-of-a-kind Filipino. The first Filipino, as the historians would say. A renaissance man, that even other Asian countries praise his various works.

After a hundred and fifty years of existence, hundreds of writings and tons of contribution to building our nation’s history, how do we take Rizal to heart? Does he still inspire Filipinos of today?

In one forum held at the Philippine Embassy here in Washington DC, one of the speakers, Trixie Herrera, who is a descendant of Narcisa, one of Pepe’s sisters, talked about her roots and how to “Rizalize” the present and the future. She did a little elaboration on how to go about it, and I agree with her in all of her examples of how to do it. After the talk, I asked myself how can I, as a regular Filipino, “Rizalize” the nation?

Rizal indeed taught us many lessons that we Filipinos could be inspired and emulate in our daily lives. I will only enumerate and elaborate on three. These three Rizal traits I believe, may be used to Rizalize our nation’s present and future.

In my early years as a student of Philippine History, I found myself amazed at how much Rizal had contributed not just in our nation’s history, but also in art, literature and science. He never ceased to want to learn. Even when in exile, he learned new things. He never stopped learning despite having mastered at least 5 languages, mastered Opthalmology, and wrote a few books. He just kept on learning. Here’s the first “Rizalizing” trait I think we Filipinos should emulate: Never cease to learn. Learning does not end in a College Degree, nor does it end in having a child. He who ceases to learn ceases to live. That is one way a Filipino can Rizalize his life.

Another way to Rizalize the nation is to strive to be the best that every Filipino can be. Rizal showed us how the brown race can be at par with any other race in the world. He was persecuted in his early days in Letran and Ateneo because of his color, but these did not stop him from being excellent. Her showed that he could be equally great in the medical profession as he studied in Spain. He showed the world that a Filipino has every right to be great with his various writings and teachings. He showed how a Filipino should stand in the grand scheme of things. Competitiveness, that is how we could further Rizalize our values.

Remember the famous Rizal quote? Who wouldn’t? Every Filipino in one way or another, has come across the saying, “Ang hindi marunong magmahal sa sariling wika, ay masahol pa sa malansang isda.” I myself am ashamed of having written this in English, but of course, the bottomline of this saying is not just the language, but the total package of being a Filipino. Rizal, for one, had many encounters where he was teased and made fun of because of his brown complexion. In his earlier days, he would often get into fights because of his color. He fought for it to the very end. He wanted equality among the white race in the Philippines. He died for it. We got it afterwards. How do we Rizalize the present then? We should be proud to be Filipinos, and continuously work to uplift our race, wherever we may be. Rizal had left the country to study abroad, and he came back to help improve the country. Our OFWs can do the same. Work abroad, learn new things, apply them in the Philippines. Work abroad, gain enough capital, invest in the Philippines, generate new jobs, teach, improve the country.

Some might say that it’s a daunting and very difficult task, but I think every Filipino, in one way or another, can od at least one of these ways to Rizalization. Rizal did it a hundred years ago, when the world was far more oppressing and difficult. In this technology age, the sky is the limit in reaching our potential.

Mabuhay ang ika-150 taon ng kaarawan ni Dr. Jose Rizal! Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Eat Bulaga's Bayanihan of the People: A Variety Show with Sense

What makes Eat Bulaga the undisputed noontime show in the Philippines? It's the dynamic trio's wits, ways, and their ability to keep on innovating to keep up with the changing times. This time, they changed from the all-fun variety show into a "bayanihan" type of sharing wealth and fun to others.

Bayanihan is an innate Filipino characteristic where a group helps each other to attain a common goal. A perfect example of Bayanihan, or in English helping hand, is the way we do our outreach programs in times of emergency or tragedy. We saw last year how we helped each other after Ondoy struck our neighborhoods. This and a lot more recent experiences have shown that the bayanihan spirit among Filipinos is still alive.

This is Eat Bulaga's latest theme in its segment "All for Juan, Juan for All." This segment not only gives tons of laughter from Tito, Vic and Joey, and their newly-formed trio of Jose, Wally and Paolo. The new trio are embedded into the communities to provide fun, laughter, and prizes and surprises as they walk in the streets of their target barangay/village. Vic Sotto selects from the raffle entries in the home studio on which house the trio will attack and give prizes to, then Jose and the gang will do their thing, giving away cash prizes and gift packs from their major sponsors. This, alongside life's lessons on how to further their lives are what jose, Wally and Paolo offers to the residents.

The segment does not stop there. Other than giving out prizes, Eat Bulaga also asks from their target barangays. They will ask each of the hopeful residents to donate at least three empty plastic bottles, while falling in a line with numbers. When the number that they were stepping on gets picked by Vic, they will instantly win cash prizes. Each of the people who lined up in numbers 1-100 will each get cash prizes. Eat Bulaga will then take the plastic bottles that they brought to the line, and give them to plastic manufacturers. These manufeacturers will then turn these bottles into monoblock armchairs that will then be claimed by Eat Bulaga to give out to schools come school day. Now this is what I call sustainable and meaningful gift-giving.

Now, after Vic Sotto's April birthday, it has since became his year-long wish for people to give him gifts of school supplies so that they could share it with the less-fortunate barangays/schools during schooltime. And since then, the outpouring of love and generosity among our brothers and sisters showered upon what used to be an all-fun variety show. Eat Bulaga instantly became the official bayanihan variety show of the country. From a simple show segment, this has turned into a successful avenue to help our countrymen improve their lives, and our children to continue their education.

May Eat Bulaga and their crusade for better education be an example to each and every variety show in the country. Never has a variety show been this meaningful. This and many other simple yet meaningful actions make me think that there is indeed hope for the Filipino people. Mabuhay ang Eat Bulaga!

As for me, I thank God that I am able to watch Eat Bulaga even when I thousands of miles away from Manila. Yahoo!

Friday, June 24, 2011

The 2011 NBA Champions: The Dallas Mavericks

In the end, it is indeed a team that wins a game. This is a tough but very important lesson taught to us by the Dallas Mavericks. When everyone in the team is united towards a specific goal, that team succeeds. As for the Mavs, their eagerness (is an understatement) and longingness for an NBA Championship just simply took them to it.

Each and every Mav had this goal. That one ring to rule them all. Most, if not all of the players in the team reach as far to the playoffs, but failed until this year. Dirk and Jason Terry witnessed how Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat snatched their supposedly dominating regime in the 2006 season. Wade and the Heat came back from a 0-2 slump in the finals to win the championship in 6 games. Dirk and Terry lost almost all their comrades, including their coaching staff. What happened next for them was a series of first-round exits from 2007 to 2010, including a shameful first-round defeat to the 8th seeded Golden State Warriors a year after their championship experience. If there were two players most eager to win the ring, it was these two original Mavs.

Jason Kidd was also an epic fail to win championships. In New Jersey, he won season MVP and a slot in the Finals, but not the championship ring. He was always in a very successful, high-seeding team, but they always come short of entering the finals. He waited for 17 years. He almost joined the ranks of those called “greatest players who never won a championship.” He trusted his comrades, and they trusted his leadership and coolness. At 38, he won the championship.

The supporting cast are no stranger to failures as well. Shawn Marion witnessed how they fell many times to the domination of Kobe and the Lakers. Peja Stojakovic is also a Lakers casualty. Both West-based superstars in their prime, Marion and Peja are victims of championship dynasties. This time, it was their turn to rejoice.

The Mavericks proved that winning a championship takes not just talent, but also heart and determination. They relied on their lone-superstar and leader, Dirk Nowitzki, and when he’s slumping, the other guys stepped up and gave them the needed boost. Players knew their role when they stepped in the Mavericks team, and that role was kept and maintained, keeping the camaraderie and unity amongst comrades.

They had two star centers in Brendan Haywood and Tyson Chandler, and each respected one another so much, they looked so comfortable when subbing each other. They knew their role, they played it, and succeeded.

Jose Juan Barea proved to be a strong replacement to ageing Jason Kidd. When it is needed for him to step up, he never fails his teammates. He had his share of game-winning plays and baskets.

Despite the strength they showed in the season and the playoffs, the Miami Heat, lacked that sense of magical touch. Indeed, the camaraderie and rapport of their version of the Big three: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh was awesome and fun to watch, what they lacked was a supporting cast that could fit in their “clique.” This, coupled with lack of having a go-to-guy among the three, seemed to have contributed to their loss. In late-game situations, it seems that all three shy away from being the main man or the go-to-guy, and the result is a loss by a few points. One should have taken over, but too shy to shoot so he passes to another guy who is too shy to shoot so he hesitates, until time runs out and they lose a game by five points or less. That is one problem of having three Superstars in one team.

They had sensational players in their roster, like the streak shooting Mike Miller and dynamic point-guard Mike Bibby, however, they found it difficult to swallow the fact that they demoted themselves from star-players to role-players. It seemed like they failed to adjust their respective statuses, missing a myriad of shots, losing a few possessions, losing concentration.

Udonis Haslem was their most reliable defender and rebounder, but he can’t be the only supporting cast. Yes, Mario Chalmers had his share of good games and when he does good, they often win the game. However, Chalmers sometimes lets his great game get into his head, forgetting that he is not one of the “Big Three.” The result? Lost possessions, loss in games. And who are the other notable supporting cast? I was too busy watching the big three to recall the other John Does in the team. Oh yes, Juwan Howard is in that team as he wants to wear a Championship ring so he could brag that he’s the only member of the Michigan Fab Five to win a championship. But of course, his pep talk didn’t do much to win a championship.

The Mavericks showed that focus, teamwork and depth are all important components in winning the crown. The 2010-2011 season showed that fusion of stars is not a perfect formula, as shown by Chicago, Memphis and Oklahoma City. NBA teams should rethink their strategy.

As for LeBron, he still has plenty of years under his sleeve. He can learn from his mistakes and focus in the future. Jason Kidd patiently waited for 17 years for a championship. He could probably do the same.

For now, Dirk, Kidd, Terry, Chandler, Marion, Stevenson, Peja, Haywood, Barea and the rest of the Dallas Mavericks deserved the championship ring.

Now, Mark Cuban should stop bashing the NBA.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pinoy: Maging Tunay Kang Henyo

When does one’s love for country end? As for me, I have been away from my mother land for 5 months now, and it seems that my new home (at least for the next five months) offers the best and the brightest for me and my family. Never have I seen as much species of birds in the metropolis, ducks hovering around parks without worry of being “Pekinged,” People running and jogging in parks without worrying about their health and safety, parks and monuments free of vandalism and destruction, a totally different package from where I was raised and grew up.

It is sad to see that from where I was, it gets much worse every day. As I watch from a local channel to get updated to the news, I see the current events of a worsening nation. Fishkill, flooding, lack of school supplies and buildings, Kris Aquino quitting showbiz, and many others.

Even when I watch what is supposedly a fun lunch-time variety show, I get dismayed by the fact that kids and teens nowadays don’t know much about Philippine History and Geography anymore. In Eat Bulaga’s segment “Pinoy Henyo,” the hosts give the most mundane Filipino terms, places and people, which I think should be answered in a few seconds. But when it comes to Philippine places and heroes, Filipino kids of today are lagging behind. The Pinoy Henyo game is rather simple. A team of two persons need to guess the correct word in one’s forehead by asking the right questions to his/her partner. The partner can only answer questions with a “Yes, No,” or “Puwede (Could be?!),” until the person guesses to word using those questions. Teams were very good with pop terms like the network GMA’s artists, or even mundane objects like a belt or dipper (tabo). What’s frustrating is that when it comes to Philippine Geography, kids tend to get lost in translation. Here’s one sample:

The Term is “Bukidnon”

A: Lugar?
B: Oo
A: Sa Pilipinas?
B: Oo
A: Sa Metro Manila?
B: Hindi
A: sa Luzon?
B: Hindi!
A: Sa Visayas?
B: Hindi!
A: Sa Mindanao?
B: Hindi!

WHERE ELSE COULD IT BE?!?!?! It turns out that the kid didn’t know where Bukidnon was. Time was up and they didn’t a single cent.

This is a mere reflection of how not just Philippine politics, but even culture and tradition, has been deteriorating. So as a person from outside looking in, I am compelled not to stay where I am, where the grass is greener and the pockets are fuller, but to go back to my mother land in due time and help curb whatever is deteriorating in our system. I feel a great sense of hope and faith in our people that someday, we will once again be Southeast Asia’s Tiger Economy.

As the cliché goes, it all starts with the self. We Filipinos need to learn a lot about ourselves, because the more we learn about ourselves, the more we can brag about it and be confident. The more confident we become, the stronger mindset we will have. The stronger mindset, the farther we can proceed. The technology age has helped us bring closer information, so close that we no longer need to travel miles to visit a library and process information. It is in the palm of our hands. Scholars nowadays use IT more and more to bring information closer to the people. Information is there, all we need is to reach out for it and grab it, and learn it.

The Philippines, amidst its bad news, has plenty of good news to offer, we just need to focus more on the brighter side. For example, our economy grew by a higher-than-expected mark. Instead of criticizing where the growth is coming from, let’s use the information, sustain it, learn from it, and proceed. The Peso is strengthening. This means we should further our business domestically and start becoming self-sustaining. Transportation plans are starting to execute. Let us support it and don’t shoot it down. The more we shoot it down, the more we shoot ourselves in the foot, the more we would limp forward.

So when will I stop loving my country? I say never. I will ensure that my kids will learn and speak the Filipino language, that they would learn and honor the values of resiliency, respect for family, and nationhood, all those that make a Filipino great and unique from other nationalities. In due time, I will go back to the Philippines, apply my new learnings to my motherland, and help ensure that my motherland will be a better place for my kids and their kids.

Filipinos in other countries should do the same. Leave if you must, learn new things, be proud of your roots, go back to the Philippines, help in the most sustainable way possible. How? Retire in the Philippines, buy property, put up a business, teach in colleges, adopt a child to go to college, adopt a provincial classroom or student, respect and obey the rules, be a proud Filipino.

I am confident and hopeful that in my lifetime, I will see a better and brighter Philippines.

Friday, June 03, 2011

American Airlines Stadiums are busy!!!

It's the 2006 NBA Finals all over again! Once again, the two teams whose stadiums are named after one of the US' top airlines, are back to either avange their defeat, or have a second take over the other. Dirk's Dallas are up against Wade's (or Lebron's? or Bosh's? No, not Bosh's) Miami. It's Offense of the West versus the all-out defense of the East in this year's biggest basketball spectacle.

Dwyane wants to repeat a 2006 championship experience, this time with bossom buddies Chris Bosh and LeBron James, all of which were drafted the same year in 2003. With the help of has-been guard Mike Bibby (he chose to be a has-been by joining this team), loyal Power Forward co-captain Udonis Haslem, streak-shooting Mike Miller and Mario Chalmers, and defensive-minded Joel Anthony, this team plans to gain its second championship since being an expansion draft back in the 80's. On the other hand, a roster of shooters and slashers with Dirk at the helm, 38-year old but still very reliable point guard Jason Kidd, Shawn "The Matrix" Marion, "The Jet" Jason Terry, Peja Stojackovic, DeShawn Stevenson, and JJ Barea, try to bring home its first-ever NBA championship crown.

I am supposed to be rooting for the Miami Heat for I am a D-Wade fan, but this time, I'm going to side with Dirk's Mavericks. Jason Kidd is deserving of a championship crown for his exceptional performance all these years. Having survived a career-threatening injury, Jason Kidd proved that he is one of the best point guards the NBA has to offer. He could still match up with any young point guards of today. And did you see his sticky defense against Kevin Durant? Truly an exceptional player. And for that, I am for the Mavericks.

Game one showed that Miam was a dominant force to reckon with. And this game gave Dirk a series-threatening finger injury, causing his shooting to slump to below his normal average. Miami took on game 1.

Yesterday, Dallas showed that they should always be taken seriously, even if they are down 15 points. I was about to sleep because with only 6 minutes to go in the game, Dallas was down 15 points. I thought to myself, with Miami's big three shooting big hoops this game, looks like the Mavs are going to Dallas with a 0-2 win-loss record. But lo and behold, with just 3:00, the Mavs were able to turn the game around and I found myself awestruck with the sight of the Mavs leading by three with only 26.5 seconds remaining in the ball game, after a dazzling rainbow shot by the dangerous Dirk. Miami was able to tie the game after Chalmers' surprise corner three-pointer, but Dirk once again nailed the final basket for Dallas to take home the win. Now, it's down to a best-of-five series, with Dallas hosting the next three games.

The past two games showed that these two teams will give us an exciting best-of-seven series in this year's NBA Finals. Can't wait for game three!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Moshpitting and Crowd surfing with the Nostalgic Weezer!!! - 21 May 2010

What better way to jumpstart the summer heat than to enjoy artful nostalgia with the 90's rock band Weezer?! DC was fortunate to witness Weezer play their greatest hits in this year's DC Chili Cookoff sponsored by radio station DC101. The Chili Cookoff was held at the parking grounds of the RFK Stadium, the home of the Major League Soccer team DC United. Panic! at the Disco, Neon Trees, Papa Roach, Seether, Middle Class Rut, and Paper Tongues played alongside the 90s hitmakers. Of course, all the bands did not disappoint as they all played famous hits like Panic!'s "I Write Sins Not Tragedies," Neon Trees' addicting tune "Animal," and Papa Roach's "Last Resort."

The repertoire was perfect! Weezer played famous hits like "Hashpipe, Island in the Sun, Say it Ain't So, Sweater Song, Surf Wax America," and their recent hit "Beverly Hills." To cap the electric evening, they played one of their most famous hits, "Buddy Holly," and the crowd went crazy, as boys and girls ride the crowd surf, others sing along, while the rowdier ones creat mosh pits. Truly and exhilarating experience! 

Despite the boring food (I don't really get why they call it a chili cookoff without the chili...) the event was fun and exciting. People, despite having been drunk in the middle of the blazing sun, enjoyed the music and magic of the whole afternoon. I even saw parent expose their children (as young as 12) to American pop culture. And that day, it felt like we were in the middle of Miami beach as we were surrounded by bikini-clad ladies!

I hope to see more bands play here. Too bad the U2 concert is in Baltimore and it happens on a weekday. I hope they play in Verizon or the RFK Stadium. 

Go Weezer! Yahoo! 

Here's an excerpt of Buddy Holly with the crowd surfers:

Some photos:
Neon Trees

Panic! At the Disco

Papa Roach

Awaiting the Arrival of the big W

"Say It Ain't So"

Rivers Cuomo

Taking their Bows

Couple with friend (candid)

One heck of a good time!

"And it makes me feel so fine I can't control my brain..." --Island in the Sun

Sunday, May 22, 2011

"Macho Man" Randy Savage, 58

The Superstar Wrestler of my youth, Macho Man Randy Savage, was killed in a car accident on May 21, 2011. He was 58. He was said to have had a heart attack episode while driving along the highway near his home in Florida. He lost control of the vehicle and it crashed to a tree. 

Randy Savage's superstar days was the time when I still believed that wrestling was true. He, Hulk Hogan, and the Ultimate Warrior were my all-time wrestling idols. It's sad to hear him die a nasty death. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Osama Bin Laden - 2 May 2011

It's hard not to write about one of the most significant events in world history. The person behind the series of terroristic attacks in the US and around the world, the leader of the infamous Al Qaeda, the world's public enemy number 1, Osama Bin Laden, was killed in an operation lead by the US Navy Seals. He was 54.

Osama Bin Laden claimed to be behind one of the most destructive terroristic activities in history, the September 11, 2001 strike at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. He was also behind other bombings and killings in other areas around the world. Now, he was silenced, killed in a way that he has predicted: violently.

Is the world a much safer place now? Definitely not. Are we still under threat? Indeed. So what now? We remain vigilant.

Bin Laden's death brought as much worries as relief in the international community. At one side, we are happy that he can no longer make videos of instructions to his operators of which embassy, country, or building to bomb next. On the other hand, we are also cautious and afraid of further activities from the people he left behind.

Bin Laden's death was a big leap towards quelling terrorism. President Obama scored big on this one. But still have a long way to go to wipe it all out. I wish we could just all wake up one day and forget that we are fighting one another. But of course, we do not live in a dream.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Blessed John Paul II

Today marks the beatification of this generation's most-loved Pope. Karol Wojtyla from his Polish roots, Pope John Paul II was officially proclaimed by Vatican as a blessed one, and now lay people can officially pray to him. It is only just a matter of time that he will be cannonized. 

Pope John Paul II was close to his Asian brethren. He visited the Philippines twice, and one of his two visits was to grace the World Youth Day in 1996, held at the Quirino Grandstand. Too bad I was not there to see him, but those who did felt like they were showered with love, grace, joy, and abundant blessings. Some of the reporters even got teary-eyed when the Pope Mobile passed by their location. This was how strong his presence was felt during his visit in the Philippines, and I'm sure the same feeling was felt by the people he visited. 

Blessed John Paul II, pray for us.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Philippines in DC

Where can you not find Filipinos around the world? Much like our Indian friends, Filipinos can be seen anywhere and everywhere. A Filipino became a starting pitcher for the 2010 Major League Baseball championship. One Filipino of four Black Eyed Peas played during the US's most watched sports spectacle this year. "Just the Way You Are" has been sung many times by American Idol contestants, and this song was composed by a Filipino. President Obama's appetite is ensured to be on high by a Filipino Chef. I wouldn't be surprised if there are Filipinos invited to the Royal Wedding. A Filipino is truly emerging among many races around the world.

The Philippines and the United States have long been related in history and development. The US, after the Spaniards have inhabited the Philippines for quite some time. During the War of the Pacific, the US liberated the country from Japanese rule. The US gave the Philippines its independence on July 4, 1946. The US also gave the influence of Basketball, reality shows and Lindsay Lohan...

Washington DC is one of the many melting pot cities in the US. You can see a lot of different cultures from every corner of the city. This is why everytime I stroll the Nation's Capital, I try to see if there are any monuments, objects, signs, or sights related to my beloved hometown. And I was surprised to see that there are places and sites in DC that highlights or mentions the Philippines.

Just across the Philippine Embassy to the United States along Massachusetts Avenue, there exists two (2) streets named after two Philippine places liberated by the Americans. Beside the Embassy there is the Bataan St., while across the rotunda there is Corregidor St. Bataan is a province in Region 3 of the Philippines where the infamous Death March started. The Fall of Bataan, or better known as the Araw ng Kagitingin is still being commemorated in the Philippines until today. On the other hand, Corregidor is an island off the coast of Manila Bay, which was an American stronghold during the second World War.

We have been strong allies with the US during the Second World War. This made us worthy to have our country's name etched in one of the pillars of the World War II Memorial, which is found just across the Washington Monument.

Etched on the "Pacific" side of the WWII Memorial are some Philippine provinces were much battle took place during the war. Places mentioned were Bataan, Corregidor, Leyte Gulf, Phillippine Sea, and Manila.

The name of our country can also be seen in the Korean War Memorial, located on the left side of the Abraham Lincoln Memorial. If we recall our history right, the Philippines sent the 4th largest troop under the United Nations command. Around 7,420 Fillipinos participated in the Korean War. Former President Fidel V. Ramos was among the soldiers sent to Korea.

Various Filipino-sounding names can also be seen in the name wall of the Vietnam War Memorial. The Philippines, just like in the two previous wars, participated in the Vietnam War, which took place from 1964-1973. Around 2,000 Filipinos participated in the Vietnam War.

The Iwo Jima Memorial, or the US Marine Corps Memorial, is located in Meade Street in Arlington, Virginia, just a few miles from Downtown DC. The monument depicts the flag-raising Iwo Jima island, much made famous by the Clint Eastwood movie "Flags of Our Fathers." The US Marines participated in what the United States call the "Philippine Insurrection," a more politically correct terminology for the US regime in the Philippines.

In the Arlington Cemetery, where the famous Tomb of the Unknown Soldier can be seen, there is a museum that features military decorations from all over the world. There, the Phillippines' Medal of Valor is exhibited. I have to brag that ours is one of the most beautiful military decorations. :)

It is also exhibited in the Cemetery the several plaques of appreciation and commemoration to the Tomb of the Unkown Soldier. In 2009, then AFP Chief of Staff Narciso Abaya and Army Chief Gen. Delfin Bangit offered their respective plaques. 

On matters of faith, of course the Philippines is famous for being the only Catholic country in East Asia. Here in DC, the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception houses many chapels of images of the Virgin Mary from many countries. Of course, the Philippines has its share of image. The replica of the image of our Lady of Antipolo can be seen in the beautiful crypt church at the basement of the Basilica. 


The paintings on both sides of the chapel were painted by the famous Blanco family of Rizal.

Also, thank God for stores like the Manila Oriental and Fiesta Oriental, where we buy our stock of Stik-O, Lucky Me Pancit Canton, Choc-Nut, Patis, Sinigang Mix, Tocino, and Pan de Sal, we wouldn't have to be uber-homesick after all.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sing Forever - Bukas Palad US+Canada Concert Tour

I'm so blessed to have had the opportunity to watch the soulful concert of one of my favorite choral groups, the Bukas Palad Music Ministry, who recently held a US and Canada concert tour in commemoration of their 25th anniversary. Wow, 25 years of lovely original Filipino spiritual music for us to enjoy, reflect on, and pray with. They spent their last leg of their tour in Virginia, held at The State Theatre in Falls Church.

The Bukas Palad Music Ministry is a collaboration of music lovers from Ateneo: Academicians, professionals and students, who wish to serve the Lord and the church by singing beautiful music originally composed by their members. Founded by musical geniuses Fr. Manoling Francisco, Jandi Arboleda and Norman Agatep, Bukas Palad is now on it's 25th year, alongside several volumes of CDs and music books, continuing to serve the Lord and the entire Ateneo community through its beautiful music of praise and prayer. 

I was lucky to have watched them here in the Metro DC area. It made me feel so much at home. Back, in the Philippines, I attended 1st and 3rd Sunday masses at the Ateneo, and most of the time, Bukas Palad sings in those masses. Their songs give me the needed atmosphere for reflection and prayer, that is why I always loved going to mass during these days.

Bukas Palad sang around 22 of their famous hits, plus a bonus performance of the "Hotdog" medley. Their singing simply gave me a flurry of goose bumps, plus some moments of tears when Jandi and the rest of the gang sang my favorite "In Him Alone."

It felt good to be in the theatre watching Bukas Palad. For a time, I felt I was back in the Philippines. I was surrounded by Filipinos speaking the native language, and I was surrounded by Ateneans, young and old. And of course, I felt the mighty and loving presence of God through the entire show. The 2-hour event gave me the needed relief, comfort, joy. Indeed, God was watching that night. 

I also had the opportunity to meet my former teacher who was part of Bukas Palad. Sir Lui Morano, it was good to see you! Bubbles was also able to meet one of her former classmates back in AJSS. 

Bukas Palad also left me with a few lines to reflect on everyday:
In Omnibus, Amare (In everything, love)
In Omnibus, Servire (In everything, serve)
In Omnibus Amare et Servire Domino (In everything, love and serve the Lord).

Mabuhay, Bukas Palad! Here's to many more years of prayerful and powerful music! 

Here are some pictures:


Student and Mentor

Here's a short clip of Tanging Yaman from the concert: