Monday, August 24, 2009

Road Trip and Some Disappointments

Right after work on Sunday morning, I prepared myself for a road trip to Los Angeles, California with my parents. My mom has some concerns regarding her retirement pension back in the Philippines and she has to visit the GSIS branch office located at the Philippine Embassy in Los Angeles. I had made some arrangements with our hotel reservations online for Sunday night in a downtown LA hotel. I wouldn't want to specifically mention the name of the hotel but definitely would give a much less than perfect review for it.

Anyway, our trip from Las Vegas which was close to 5 hours of driving (excluding our stop over at Barstow for restroom and lunch break as well as gas) went fine. I was driving a little bit slow on the highway as there were lots of cars on the road leaving Las Vegas. These people, definitely Californians, spent their short vacation in Las Vegas over the weekend and Sunday was usually their return trip in time for work or school on Monday. Armed with my car's GPS, I didn't have difficulty locating our hotel. I usually use my GPS for out of town driving specially going to California since I am not and probably never will be familiar with the highways and streets in big metropolis like Los Angeles.

Locating and checking into our hotel was a breeze, but surprise awaits us when we actually get inside our room. There were no towels in our room. This is the second thing that I usually check whenever I get into a hotel; the first one is to check the exit doors. It's kind of automatic for me. Also, another thing that I noticed was that there was no shower curtain on the shower area and having a shower would definitely leave a pool of water all over the floor. I called the front desk and I was disappointed when the clerk told me that they didn't have extra towels for us. Maybe he heard me wrong so I have to repeat what I said and clarified to him that I was not asking for extra towels but there were really no towels in the bathroom when we got in. I also called his attention with regards to the shower curtain. I did not need any explanation from him but definitely I expected a good customer service from him or from the staff for that matter. Fortunately, without much pressure from me, he assigned us to another room and he personally went to see us and gave us the new card keys. Another thing that I always expect from hotels in big cities is their internet connection. It is already quite common for hotels to provide complimentary internet connection to all their guests. This hotel has a free Wi-Fi connection but unfortunately the connection was so slow. In fact I wrote this entry on Sunday evening inside my hotel room but uploaded it only when I was back in Las Vegas using my own Wi-Fi connection. Maybe I need to do some tweaking on my browser settings but I never remembered ever doing this while connecting wirelessly in my home, in my workplace (shhhh..I sometimes go online while at work) or on any public hot spots.

I booked this hotel online using Hotels.com and users always get the opportunity to rate and review their hotel stay. I definitely would give a low rate for this particular hotel but not really the worst rating one could ever give. There are some positive things that I have seen; the room is definitely clean, even the first one given to us. I requested for a non-smoking room and we got the right one. They have free parking, some room amenities like fridge, cable TV, microwave oven, coffee maker and ironing board. The front desk staff was helpful enough with our dilemma of our first room. By the way, breakfast is not complimentary. Should I still recommend this hotel to others? Yes, especially for those who love surprises LOL. How will I rate this hotel? Probably 2.5 out of 5. Now, am I too tight with them?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Week That Was

It's been almost 15 days since I last updated this blog. It's been a hectic week for me. I was fully involved with a community organization where the members are people from my hometown in the Philippines, Maasin City. We called ourselves Kaba-Maasin Las Vegas and I have partially talked about it in one of my very old posts maybe in my previous blog.

Anyway, every year we are celebrating the feast of Our Lady of the Assumption here in Las Vegas at the same time the feast is being celebrated back home. It's been six years now that we are doing this and it's been twice already that we went back to Maasin to celebrate the fiesta in there. Every time we celebrate the fiesta, we have the Novena prayers for 9 days and the culminating party on the 10th day. We assigned sponsors to act as hosts in every Novena so the daily prayers were held in different venues. Of course food and drinks are always abundant and overflowing meaning the usual Filipino fiesta spirit already started on the first day of the Novena.

I refused to be one of the officers of this organization but I gave out all my support in order for the celebrations to be successful. I preferred to work in the background, acting like an adviser to the officers. I preferred to work this way and even with the prodding of the members to make me the group's president, I refused it but I promised to do the dirty job and let the officers do the things they're supposed to do. What are they supposed to do? I honestly don't know since I practically covered everything…well all the details I mean. Budgeting and other administrative jobs, I left that for the officers to do.

One of my main focuses is the production and program for the Dinner & Socials after all the Novena prayers were done. I also do some detailed jobs like printing tickets, promotions and maintaining the group's website, The Kaba-Maasin Online. Part of that is to come up with dance routine where the members can present during the culminating party. Coming up with a presentable production is already a big feat with people who has little or no idea in performing on stage. You still have to force them to do their assigned part but fortunately enough; most gave out their support and participated in the production numbers. As the day comes near, my "To Do" list grew significantly and this gave me some pressure to complete everything on time. I have always anticipated some minor problems that would come up on the day itself and this year is not an exception. We were holding the party in a hotel last Saturday, Aug 15th but since Friday I already stayed in the said hotel in order for me to cover all the aspects needed for the party. By Saturday afternoon, the sound system was already set up but when I actually checked the venue or the ballroom that we were renting, the size of the dance floor is not enough for any production number that we prepared. The hotel's person-in-charge could not provide more of the wooden panels to cover the carpeted part of the ballroom to serve as the dance floor. On the party itself, during the dancing portion, our president hired the wrong person to do the mixing of the dance music. He was not actually a DJ. But in spite of all these minor screw up, I would say that the whole event was successful. I was afraid that people would actually leave the party when we realized that the music was not at par with the club music we are used to hearing and enjoy during night outs. I was kind of proud of all the members and guests that night because they still tried to make use of what music was available and enjoyed themselves up to the end.

After all the celebrations, I still have lots of things to do and that is to upload all the pictures and videos to the internet and make some links to our website. I've done all these things already and I can release a sigh of relief knowing that everything is done and here's looking forward to next year's festivities.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Watching The Biggest Funeral Procession Ever

I have watched Pres Cory's funeral services last night (my time here in Las Vegas). I watched it online through a Facebook link of GMA's tribute page. I wasn't able to finish watching the live broadcast but I learned that it took for the funeral cort├Ęge around 8 to 10 hrs to reach the Manila Mamorial Park from the Manila Cathedral, a distance which normally last an hour. Throngs of people that would easily reach a million in number came out of their houses to pay their last respects to the former leader. With this overwhelming crowd bidding farewell to her only proved how she was loved by the Filipino people, how many lives she has touched and changed. It was not a state funeral as she and her family only wanted a simple funeral rites attended by her family and friends. She definitely had her wishes because the Filipino people was there with her until she reached her final resting place, beside her beloved husband Ninoy.
Indeed Cory's legacy , the People Power Revolution is still alive and showed up in full force. How heartwarming it was to see that Filipinos are united once again and set aside their differences to pay tribute to a woman considered the mother of Philippine democracy, a global icon of democracy and human rights. Even the Marcos' children were there during her wake to pay their last respects. How I wish it is always like this. As what my best friend Mike said in one of his Facebook updates; " despite all the griefs, the Philippines really needs more moments like this".

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

So Hot In The Valley

I've been complaining how hot Las Vegas has become, literally hot with temperatures reaching 120degF on the peak of summer. This year's summer is no exception. Although we are still to see the temperature to reach the 120deg levels but right now it easily reached 111degF so far. Since the year that I arrived here in the city that I considered my second home, the entire Las Vegas valley is in serious drought condition. The Colorado River which supplies water to all the states it ran through like Nevada and Arizona faces the worst on record. Since 2000 Lake Mead, a man-made lake and the largest water reservoir in the United States, dropped its water level by approximately 100 feet. The Water Authority and its agencies adopted a Water Resource Plan to meet the demands during this time of shortage. The entire community was encouraged to adopt water conservation steps and the Water Authority even gave incentives to those households who were able to save significant water usage.

Some of the recommended steps were the following:

  • Apply Xeriscaping to lawns and gardens. Xeriscaping refers to landscaping and gardening in ways that reduce or eliminate the use of supplemental irrigation. Transforming ones lawn or garden to be water efficient could receive a hefty incentive from the Water Authorities.
  • Turf limitations. When installing a landscape to a new home, homeowners and construction companies should check the turf limit in a particular area to ensure that the code requirements are met.
  • Mandatory water restrictions. Wherever we live in Las Vegas, we belong to a certain water restriction zone and being assigned with a watering schedule for our lawns and gardens. We will be cited and slapped with a water-waste fee for using our garden sprinklers outside the assigned watering days. During the months of May through October, additional watering restrictions were implemented. We should not irrigate our gardens and lawns between 11am and 7pm. This is the time of the day where it is the hottest and the water will just evaporate quickly before being absorbed into the soil.
  • Use carwash facilities instead of washing your car in your own residence. This would help prevent draining our water reservoir. By using a water smart carwash facility and with a minimal fee, the waste water will be treated and returned back to Lake Mead.

There are many ways of conserving water all throughout the household and those being recommended by the authorities but the most common that I myself been following is to have my car washed in a carwash facility. Our household doesn't have a considerable lawn that uses much water but we still follow our designated water schedule days.

Could this be the result of Global Warming? Maybe there are less snow caps being formed from the north during the winter that when it melts, they could not supply enough water to the Colorado River thereby reducing the water levels in Lake Mead. It's a given fact that we live in the middle of Mohave Desert and therefore water conservation is already a way of life in this part of the country.

An embedded video is showing my car in a carwash facility.


video

Monday, August 3, 2009

Marriage

I got this email from an eGroup and I thank my causin Raoul V. for sharing it with me.
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To those who are married, .. Not married .. and soon to be married


MARRIAGE

When I got home that night as my wife served dinner, I held her hand and said, I've got something to tell you. She sat down and ate quietly. Again I observed the hurt in her eyes.

Suddenly I didn't know how to open my mouth. But I had to let her know what I was thinking. I want a divorce.. I raised the topic calmly.

She didn't seem to be annoyed by my words, instead she asked me softly, why?

I avoided her question. This made her angry. She threw away the chopsticks and shouted at me, you are not a man! That night, we didn't talk to each other. She was weeping. I
knew she wanted to find out what had happened to our marriage. But I could hardly give her a satisfactory answer; she had lost my heart to Dew. I didn't love her anymore. I just pitied her!

With a deep sense of guilt, I drafted a divorce agreement which stated that she could own our house, our car, and 30% stake of my company.

She glanced at it and then tore it into pieces. The woman who had spent ten years of her life with me had become a stranger. I felt sorry for her wasted time, resources and energy but I could not take back what I had said for I loved Dew so dearly. Finally she cried loudly in front of me, which was what I had expected to see. To me her cry was actually a kind of release. The idea of divorce which had obsessed me for several weeks seemed to be firmer and clearer now.

The next day, I came back home very late and found her writing something at the table. I didn't have supper but went straight to sleep and fell
asleep very fast because I was tired after an eventful day with Dew.

When I woke up, she was still there at the table writing. I just did not care so I turned over and was asleep again.

In the morning she presented her divorce conditions: she didn't want anything from me, but needed a month's notice before the divorce.
She requested that in that one month we both struggle to live as normal a life as possible. Her reasons were simple: our son had his exams in a month's time and she didn't want to disrupt him with our broken marriage.

This was agreeable to me. But she had something more, she asked me to recall how I had carried her into out bridal room on our wedding day.

She requested that everyday for the month's duration I carry her out of our bedroom to the front door ever morning.. I thought she was going crazy. Just to make our last days together bearable I accepted her odd request.

I told Dew about my wife's
divorce conditions.. . She laughed loudly and thought it was absurd. No matter what tricks she applies, she has to face the divorce, she said scornfully..

My wife and I hadn't had any body contact since my divorce intention was explicitly expressed. So when I carried her out on the first day, we both appeared clumsy. Our son clapped behind us, daddy is holding mummy in his arms. His words brought me a sense of pain. From the bedroom to the sitting room, then to the door, I walked over ten meters with her in my arms. She closed her eyes and said softly; don't tell our son about the divorce. I nodded, feeling somewhat upset. I put her down outside the door. She went to wait for the bus to work. I drove alone to the office.

On the second day, both of us acted much more easily. She leaned on my chest. I could smell the fragrance of her blouse. I realized that I hadn't looked at this woman carefully for a long time.. I realized she was not
young any more. There were fine wrinkles on her face, her hair was graying! Our marriage had taken its toll on her. For a minute I wondered what I had done to her.

On the fourth day, when I lifted her up, I felt a sense of intimacy returning. This was the woman who had given ten years of her life to me.

On the fifth and sixth day, I realized that our sense of intimacy was growing again. I didn't tell Dew about this. It became easier to carry her as the month slipped by. Perhaps the everyday workout made me stronger.

She was choosing what to wear one morning. She tried on quite a few dresses but could not find a suitable one. Then she sighed, all my dresses have grown bigger. I suddenly realized that she had grown so thin, that was the reason why I could carry her more easily.

Suddenly it hit me... she had buried so much pain and bitterness in her heart. Subconsciously I reached out and touched her head.

Our son came in
at the moment and said, Dad, it's time to carry mum out. To him, seeing his father carrying his mother out had become an essential part of his life. My wife gestured to our son to come closer and hugged him tightly. I turned my face away because I was afraid I might change my mind at this last minute. I then held her in my arms, walking from the bedroom, through the sitting room, to the hallway. Her hand surrounded my neck softly and naturally. I held her body tightly; it was just like our wedding day.

But her much lighter weight made me sad. On the last day, when I held her in my arms I could hardly move a step. Our son had gone to school. I held her tightly and said, I hadn't noticed that our life lacked intimacy.

I drove to office.... jumped out of the car swiftly without locking the door. I was afraid any delay would make me change my mind...I walked upstairs. Dew opened the door and I said to her, Sorry, Dew, I do not want the divorce
anymore.

She looked at me, astonished, and then touched my forehead.. Do you have a fever? She said. I moved her hand off my head. Sorry, Dew, I said, I won't divorce. My marriage life was boring probably because she and I didn't value the details of our lives, not because we didn't love each other any more. Now I realize that since I carried her into my home on our wedding day I am supposed to hold her until death do us apart.

Dew seemed to suddenly wake up. She gave me a loud slap and then slammed the door and burst into tears. I walked downstairs and drove away.

At the floral shop on the way, I ordered a bouquet of flowers for my wife. The salesgirl asked me what to write on the card. I smiled and wrote, I'll carry you out every morning until death do us apart.

That evening I arrived home, flowers in my hands, a smile on my face, I run up stairs, only to find my wife in the bed - dead.

================================
The small details of your lives
are what really matter in a relationship. It is not the mansion, the car, property, the money in the bank. These create an environment conducive for happiness but cannot give happiness in themselves. So find time to be your spouse's friend and do those little things for each other that build intimacy. Do have a real happy marriage!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Where Were You During the People Power Revolution?

As the news came to me on the passing of our Former President Corazon Aquino, the first thing that came to my mind was the 1986 People Power Revolution which led to the ousting of then dictator President Ferdinand Marcos and made Tita Cory the first ever woman president of the Philippines. This peaceful revolution, no guns fired and no blood being shed inspired other peace-loving countries of the world. It was no surprise therefore that the former lady president became a worldwide icon for democracy and freedom. I became nostalgic and tried to remember exactly where I was and what I was doing on February 22, 1986.

I was not on the streets participating on the protest rally, but I was confined on my hospital bed instead. Earlier on that week, I went out with my friends for dinner at my favorite Chinese dimsum restaurant. Later that evening I was beginning to feel stomach upset. The following morning I was already suffering from Loose Bowel Movement (LBM). I took some medications but my condition became worse than ever. Three days later, with no improvement, I started to get dehydrated and that was the time that I decided to check in to a hospital. It was a case of minor food poisoning and I was told by my doctor that I should remain confined in the hospital with a series of intravenous fluids for the weekend. The outside world was already in chaos. Listening to the radio, I made myself updated on what was going on. Little did I know that I was witnessing a piece of Philippine history in the making.

The events on that week that led to the ultimate departure and exile of the Marcoses from Malacanang Palace was being watched by millions of people around the world. The international press stood side by side with our local media people to bring the news out worldwide. The peaceful People Power Revolution is the gift of the Filipino people to the world. It was a living proof that an alternative way to protest in a peaceful manner can be achieved. It was a new kind of revolution. In the words of Aquilino Pimentel, "We shall be forever indebted to Cory for rallying the nation behind the campaign to topple dictatorial rule and restore democracy". Cory indeed was well deserved for being named Time Magazine's Woman of the Year and a nominee for Nobel Peace Prize as well as other awards and achievements. Thank you Madam President.

So, how about you my friends: Where were you when the People Power Revolution happened?