June 12, 2011- 113th Philippine Independence Day

Last June, my aunt and I went on a trip to Hong Kong. We flew from Butuan to Manila on June 12. Our flight to Hong Kong was on June 13 around 8AM. We have the afternoon of June 12 to spare. What better way to spend than to visit Luneta. It was Independence day after all.

Luneta is the park in Manila where a monument of the Philippine's national hero, Jose Rizal, stands. Almost every town in the Philippines has a Rizal park. Luneta is the mother of all Rizal parks. Luneta was formerly known as Bagumbayan. It is where Jose Rizal was executed by the Spaniards through firing squad.

I have never been to Luneta. My mother used to tell as a child that the Jose Rizal monument has guards. I remember my mother saying, “Why do they have to guard him when he is already dead? It was only just a statue. It is not like they (the Spaniards) can kill him again.”  I was amused at her story.  I was doing my grade one project on heroes when she told me this. (Papa recorded our conversations on a cassette tape. One day I will convert it to digital format. )  My father, on the other hand, had some riddle in Bisaya (or Ilonggo?) referring to Rizal: “Hantungtung habato, hapilit ha posporo, ha uwanan ha initan, dili hahilantan“. Roughly translated: ‘ On top of the rock, glued on the match. Rain or shine, he will never get sick.”

Jose Rizal: On top of a rock (concrete) and on a match

 LUGGAGE & MORE

Because our flight is on 8am the next day, I already told my aunt beforehand that we are going to sleep at the airport. She needed no convincing because my cousin’s house is in Fairview and my aunt knew how far is that place from NAIA Terminal 3. While I was planning for the trip, my only problem is where to leave of our luggage. I can carry my backpack but I do not think my 65-year-old aunt would want to carry her bag while we stroll Luneta. Good thing I came across an article about Luggage & More. It is a luggage storage facility in NAIA terminal 3. For P150, you can leave your small bag for 3 hours; P300 for more than 3 hours up to a day. Large bags have different rates . The facility is tucked in the right wing of the arrival area. Ask an airport personnel for directions. Luggage & More opens at 6am and closes at 11pm. If you have a plane to catch early in the morning and you leave your bags there, make sure to pick them up before they close.

NAIA Loop and LRT

The commuter in me already search the cheapest way to reach Luneta. The airport taxi’s flag down rate is P70. So, that was not an option for the budget travelers like us. Good thing there is the NAIA Loop. It plies from NAIA3 to Pasay Rotunda for P20 per person. Waiting time is longer though. I think we stood in line for 30 minutes. My aunt had some crackers and candies so the wait did not seem long. Besides, we were busy chatting. It was a short trip to Pasay Rotunda. All I knew was that we passed Baclaran area. NAIA loop dropped us at the terminal near Taft MRT station. There is a McDonald’s and Chowking in that area so we picked the latter for lunch. I already researched beforehand the nearest LRT station to Luneta which is the UN Ave station. I already checked google maps and saw that I only need to cross a few streets to get to Luneta.


The Taft MRT station connects to the LRT station. We just had to follow the signs. The fare was P15 per person. When added, our fare from NAIA3 to Luneta was P70 -a steal considering the flag down rate for an airport taxi was P70. I am giving myself a virtual pat on the back.

One probinsiyana (from the province) booboo though: A man standing beside me on the LRT asked me for direction. Uh-oh. I was not prepared how to react. I knew he was from the province like me. He spoke to me in Tagalog with a hint of Bisaya (like me!). Plus, he was carrying a luggage. He asked, while we were approaching the Gil Puyat Station, “Dito ba Buendia?” (Is this Buendia?) . I stared at my ticket. There is no Buendia in the route. So I answered, “Gil Puyat, po“. The man did not get off on that station but he quickly realized his mistake and hurriedly left the train when we reach the next station- before I can say sorry. I should have said, “I don’t know” so he can ask other passengers. Gil Puyat Avenue is formerly named Buendia Avenue. Oops.

LUNETA

The map was right. Luneta was a few steps away from the LRT station. Since it was Independence Day and a Sunday, there were a lot of people in the park. I see families spreading a mat and having a picnic in the park. Mental note: I should do that one in my lifetime.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines showed their wares (hehe power?). I saw people posing for a picture holding some kind of weapon. There were long lines of kids waiting for their free ride in an armored personnel carrier. Cameras clicked on people in different poses in different areas of the military tank. Some posed with the soldiers. If not for the number of people, I would have had my picture taken there, too.

Tanque de Guerra

What to see in Luneta?

There is the relief map of the Philippines commissioned by Ferdinand Marcos.

Information on the Relief Map

I was trying to locate Mindanao. It is somewhere there.

There is a very imposing statue of Lapu-Lapu (the Filipino who killed Magellan in Mactan). While I was looking at the statue, I was thinking, “Lapu-lapu or Dagohoy?” I know. My ignorance showed. I got confused why Lapu-lapu was given a prominent place in the park. When you think about it, Lapu-Lapu is the first Philippine hero. He fought against Spanish invasion. (Dagohoy led the longest revolt against the Spaniards.) He deserved to be immortalized in stone! ( or is that bronze?)

Lapu-lapu

There are beautiful, old buildings near the park. The National Museum is near the park. This is the Department of Tourism Building.

Department of Tourism

The highlight of being in Luneta is to visit the Rizal Monument. FAIL! My senior citizen companion got tired of all the walking. The weather was warm and sunny. It would have been a perfect time for strolling. There are trees for shade. I even wanted to go Intramuros. As we walked towards the road that will lead to Intramuros, my aunt hesitated. The roads were empty and she was afraid we will get mugged or something. I was telling her, ” Why should we be afraid? This is the Philippines. Our country. You should be afraid tomorrow. We’re going to Hong Kong.” It has been my wish to visit Intramuros but my travel companions before were not as thrilled as I was in visiting there. Neither was my aunt. Hmp! Maybe I should start traveling alone.

Not yet Rizal, not yet. I will visit you one day.

The Mall of Asia

Because of the heat, my aunt wanted to go the nearest mall. After a train and a jeepney ride, we arrived at the Mall of Asia. I told her we should watch a movie. We checked what is showing and none caught her fancy. I wanted to try any 3-D movie but she doesn’t. So, we just roam around the mall and passed by an open area. I was curious so we checked it out. It is the Manila bay!

The Manila bay from MOA

I was thinking, “This is a good time to experience the sunset!” I wanted to wait for it but my aunt was too tired and wanted to sit down. She wanted to be in an air-conditioned area.

Tired feet.

We were sitting on a bench where people gathered. My aunt dozed off while I watched people go about their business. There was Filipino music in the background so I sang along to the ones I knew. When she woke up, we decide to find a place to eat. As we went near to an entertainment area where the music came from, we found out there was a free concert featuring Kuh Ledesma. We looked for a good vantage point and enjoyed the free concert. Henry Sy was there. He was on his wheelchair looking down from the second floor. I did not see his face but I saw the wheelchair as Kuh acknowledged his presence. It did not look like he had many bodyguards. He was watching like regular people.

Nice concert. Thanks, Kuh!

After we had dinner at Jollibee (Filipino fastfood chain for Independence day), we rode the jeep to the MRT station. I made a mistake of using the pedestrian walkway instead of the LRT station to cross the busy EDSA traffic. It was scary. We were on this metal platform traversing over a very busy highway (EDSA). We could see vehicles in moving fast underneath us. I could feel the walkway vibrating as I took a step. I kept praying that the walkway will not collapse. Thankfully, we reached the NAIA Loop station in one piece.

Another booboo: I thought the drop off point of the bus in the airport is the same place where we took the bus. While quite a number of people got off in the middle of the arrival area where the bus stopped, we stayed on our seats thinking we should stop near the area where we took our exit because the Luggage&More is near that area. There would be less walking for the senior citizen. I saw the confused look of the driver when I asked to be dropped there. As we reach the door where we exited, I realized my mistake. There is only one entrance. The door we used to exit was for exit only. We walked (long walk) again towards the only entrance (where the bus stopped first).

We gathered our luggage and found a good spot were we could spend the night. I thought sleeping at the airport was my novel idea.  Nope, there were a lot of people who found a good spot for themselves. A lot of them were sleeping soundly already.

Fruit Salad

Fruit salad is a favorite dish in the house. Simple, healthy and delicious.  We use fresh fruits in our fruit salad plus evaporated milk and sugar.  There is no exact recipe. We just use fruits available in the market. Our fruit salad is usually a combination of any of these fruits- papaya, mango, apple, banana and avocado.

Yes, avocado is a fruit in my country. It is an ingredient in dessert recipes. We have avocado ice cream and avocado shake.

On avocado: My father used to tell me that the nutritional content of the avocado is equivalent to 8 eggs. He told me that my mother who is hypertensive should avoid eating avocado. We used to believe that until we heard that the avocado helps increase the good cholesterol which will fight the bad cholesterol.

If we want a fancier fruit salad, we add raisins and marshmallows and use condensed milk+cream instead of the evaporated milk+sugar combination. It is only recently that I like eating fruit salad.  I used to dislike eating anything mixed. I used to be a purist. I eat the fruits but when they are not combined with other fruits. Before,  when I eat fruit salad, I eat all the papayas first, then the avocado, and so on. The preparation of the fruit salad is my task in the kitchen. I like cutting the fruits into bite-size pieces. I feel like a chef because I can cut them with ease due to their soft flesh. The simple procedure ( cut+dump in bowl+add milk and sugar+mix a little+refrigerate) has become second-nature to me. Foolproof! On a regular day, there are 5 of us who share the fruit salad. We usually make just enough for one meal. Because we all like fruit salad, we tend to overeat. Some more voracious than others. The slow-eaters are at a disadvantage.  We figured we must portion out the salad instead of just putting one large bowl. Thus, we have these. If there are leftovers, we freeze them and we got ice cream the next day! Yum! Truth be told, my tummy is still heavy with the salad I ate for dinner. Therefore, I am still awake because sleeping with a full stomach is not advisable. Afraid of bangungot. Bangugot, according to my nurse relatives, is acute hemorrhagic pancreatitis. From what I gather from them, it happens when the body is on sleep-mode while the stomach continues its work in digesting the food. Before I end up in nightmares, I end the day with this prayer.

Angel of God, my Guardian dear, to whom His love commits me here, ever this day (or night) be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.

My First Nephew

Being an only child,  the closest I get to having a niece or a nephew is through my first cousins. Although I have nieces and nephews from my father’s side of the family, I did not grow up with them. I have met 3 or 4 of them but it did not feel like I was an aunt. They live far away from me.

The first week of July this year, we welcomed a new baby in the family (mother’s side). My cousin is the father of this cute little boy. It is amazing how one little boy can make a grown man cry with joy.  Yeah, my cousin is one proud daddy and I am a proud aunt.

My First Nephew

The sight of the baby sleeping is calming. I can stare at this all day. I tried carrying him but I worry that I might squish him or drop him. I have held a baby only a few times in my life so there is that fear that I was not doing it right. I do not think I can babysit for this kid. I’ll just wait for him to grow up and I’ll be his playmate. Hopefully, I will be the cool aunt- the one with all the candies and junk food. Hey, it is not my role to discipline. I am not the parent.  I do not think my cousin is reading this blog so I am safe to declare this things.

I pray that this kid will grow up to be a fine young man.

Below is a favorite poem of mine by Rudyard Kipling. It says everything I want to say to the little boy when grows up.

IF

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

What to do when the computer needs repair

Fair warning: This is not a self-help guide on computer repair.  The blogger is just narrating about the alternative activities she got involved in without using her Internet connection.
 

 I confess. I am online almost 16 hours a day. (Gasp!) I wish I am one of those people pounding the keyboard doing codes to create innovative websites. Embarrassingly, I am usually on Facebook and Twitter. I use Facebook to get in touch with friends and Twitter to promote my articles.

This year, I have been to the computer shop twice already: the motherboard and power supply were replaced. Last year, the hard disk was replaced and RAM was upgraded. When the computer conked out the third time this year, I decided it is time to get a new one. I am glad to learn that the new system will cost me Php 7,000 cheaper than the amount it cost me to buy the old computer six years ago.  I can not see myself buying a laptop because with the same specifications as the new desktop I am eying, it will cost me Php 10,000 more. As much as I like the mobility in having a laptop, it is more of a ‘want’ than a ‘need’.  Besides, I am not that mobile. I like working with a normal keyboard.

With the computer under repair and the new one still being configured, what should I do with the free time?

CLEAN THE ROOM

Stacks of paper have accumulated in the room. Old CDs are still kept even if I do not use them anymore. I do not even know what is in them. While the room looks in order and neat. Dust had settled in the nooks and crannies. Since I am buying a new desktop, I might as well clear all the clutter and start anew.  So, the cleaning begins.

In the past, I still managed to keep some items because ” I might need these one day”. Then I thought of the hoarders I saw on Oprah. I decided I can not be that kind of person. I should not hold on to material possessions. I closed my eyes and placed all those papers I stacked all these years in a garbage bag.  I hope the garbage collector will find something of use for them. ( Do they segregate trash? I hope so or this trash is going to a landfill. Oh no!)

READ

The Hunger Games is a trilogy by Suzanne Collins. A copy was saved in my phone. IBecause of the free time I have, I was able to finish it.  All I can say is that I LOVE the story. The trouble with finishing the book is that I want to continue with the next book which is still in my computer that was under repair. Today I found out that it is going to be a movie next year. I hope it is gonna be a good adaptation.  GO and read this book!

Photo credit: http://www.thehungergames.co.uk

Visit the official website and download some excerpts here to see if this book catches your fancy.

 LISTEN TO MUSIC

Lately, I have been listening to The Script, Adele, Train and Katy Perry.  But alas! I have not loaded the music files into my cellphone so I have to be contented with what I have previously loaded. I checked my cellphone and I saw that I still have Lea Salonga, One Republic and Wicked cast recording on my track list. Not bad. In the middle of the night, I put my headphones on and listened to the soothing voice of Lea Salonga.

Here is a youtube video of her singing Promise Me: (Video courtesy of MSManila80)

http://youtu.be/dw4SroBh5RQ

LAUNDRY

This is not one of my favorite chores to do. But I got ‘new’ clothes from the thrift shop that need to be thoroughly washed. (Read: Ukay) My hands got some beating after all the wringing I did. Although my fingers looked tired and sinewy, it looked beautiful. (Like they say, “Beautiful hands are hands that work.” ;) ) I went to sleep with a feeling of accomplishment.

One of my favorite things to do though is folding laundry. I find comfort in the smell of fresh laundry. Smoothing the fabric and folding it is zen-like. I like seeing neatly piled clothes.  Maybe I should get a job in a clothing store.

REFLECTION

I am relieved to know that I am not that dependent on technology. I still can enjoy my day without my computer. I knew this last year when we had scheduled brownouts for two months. Every afternoon, I spent it looking through old photos, reading magazines and listening to music. I found a nice spot where there was natural light. While some of my cousins ranted about boredom, I was perfectly contented where I was.

I am never bored anywhere:  being bored is an insult to oneself.  ~Jules Renard

New Puppy and other Dog Stories

The last time the house had a dog was when I was still in grade school. His name was ‘Bagets’. If you are not familiar with the ’80′s Philippine pop culture,  Bagets is a coming-of-age movie which stars Aga Muhlach, Herbert Bautista, to name a few.

I was afraid of the dog. (I am afraid of dogs. Period.) Being the new face in the house then, Bagets would go near me which frightened me. I was so afraid to go near the dog that they let him out of the house just to stop me from crying. But when it was time to let him in, they could not find him. He strayed to some house a block away from the house. Even my grandfather looked for him. Good thing they found him. I realized that I should try not to panic around  Bagets because I saw how worried everyone was when he got lost.

It is evident in this photo that I was afraid of him. Bagets tried to ignore me. Thus, he was almost cropped out of the photo.

I was the little girl at the back who was afraid of Bagets.

Since I was often visiting my aunt’s house, Bagets and I became friends.  When we moved to this house, Bagets treated me the same way he treated other members of the household. He would bark and run about when I return home from school.  When my cousin and I would ride the tricycle to go somewhere, he would run after the tricycle wanting to go with us. We sometimes feared he might not be able to find his way home because he would run after the tricycle as far as he can. When he got into a fight with another dog, my cousin and I cried over his wounded leg. When there was a fire a block away from us and we were packing our things,  my cousin and I cried thinking that we will leave behind Bagets.  Bagets died when I was already in high school. I was not home so I did not see him die. I still miss him. He was a good dog.

Bagets died in the early ’90s. We did not have a dog until my cousin brought ‘Shawie’ home in 2008 ( Or was it 2009?). She is a dachshund.

Shawie’s stay in the house was short-lived. My cousin had to bring her to a place with a bigger lawn because my father vehemently refused raising the dog in the house. We visit her from time to time whenever we go to that place. Don’t get me wrong. My father loved animals. As a kid, my bedtime stories were stories about Rin Tin Tin (dog), the black panther and the bear. I do not know if he made the stories up. Most of his stories were the friendship formed between man and animal. My father objected raising the dog here because he believed that those in the city should not have dogs for a pet if there is not enough space in their house for the dog to run around. (We do not have a lawn.)

Now, my aunt has a new puppy and I get to play with him everyday.  I am the big sister to the puppy, so to speak. (There are no more objections from my father because he is already in heaven.) The puppy was named Joaqui. I hope he is a good dog like Bagets. He is still small and the entire house is his playground. He quite behaved. Although he is still not toilet-trained, he would find a corner to hide in shame whenever we shout his name because he pooped in the house. It is so easy to forgive his toilet mishaps when he looks at us with his doe-eyes. I think he is going to be a sweet, sweet dog. I just hope we will be able to raise him well so he can live a long life.

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