Thursday, December 30, 2010
Here are the most common, Top 5 New Year's resolutions I found while searching online:
1. Lose weight. I guess you were thinking on this, too.
2. Spend more time with friends and family. Most people are busy with their life's business that sometimes you take for granted the most important people in your life.
3. Get out of debt. The current economic situation probably triggered this to make it into third place.
4. Quit smoking. Just like the top resolution of losing weight, quiting smoking is one tough goal to pursue. It will take a lot of strong will, self-discipline, and determination in order to succeed. There are always a lot of help and resources to help and guide you towards your goal.
5. Do more in community. I'm not sure about the statistics but I know that there are still a lot of kind-hearted people willing to help our unfortunate brothers and sisters. If you're resources are in abundance, it would be good to give back to the community. Try it, you will feel good. I have done it before with my community organization.
Now, it's my turn to come up with my own new year's resolution for 2011. I want to improve and maintain my health. I am currently doing some steps to pursue this goal. I've been trying to regularly exercise in the gym. I've been watching my diet and the kind of food and drinks to take. This year, I have discovered that I have only one functional kidney left and I intend to keep it healthy in order to outlive it. The next step is to work closely with my nephrologist in order to be successful.
How about you? What's your new year's resolution for 2011?
Happy New Year to one and all. Wishing you good health and prosperity for 2011 and beyond.
Monday, December 27, 2010
I was planning to go through these holidays as simple as possible, and I was able to send some christmas greeting cards to my friends and relatives. With the use of the advancement of technology nowadays, I sent christmas cards using online merchants. I went to these greeting cards website, designed my own card using a not-so-old family picture. I let the site mail the cards to my intended recepients in order to save some mailing times. For the rest of my friends and family, I used my social network account in order to greet them.
Since I was in the hospital where I worked, the passing of the Christmas Eve was a quick one. The hospital management provided a special free holiday meal for the night shift staff. On the day itself, I went to hear mass right after my work. I also spent lunch with my parents on that day. Right after lunch, it was my time to hit the bed in preparation for my work that evening. On that evening at work, I tried to monitor the Christmas party of my family back in the Philippines. We used a messenger site in order to transmit voice and video content over the internet. Unfortunately, the internet connection where the party was held was very slow. Since my internet connection was fast enough, my video images were clearly viewed at the other end but the video that I got from them were flickering and erratic and the quality of the images were not good. Since I was still working at that time, I decided to hang up the video call and just wait for the pictures to be posted and shared online.
The most important thing though, is that I was able to greet the child Jesus on his birthday and spent a holiday meal with my parents.
To those who were not able to receive my greetings, whether by mail or online, I wish you all the best for this Christmas Season and a prosperous and healthy New Year 2011.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
The long holiday season is here. It starts with Thanksgiving all throughout the Christmas season. This year, just like last year, I will not have a chance to be with my family be it on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas and New Year's Day. The Thanksgiving always fall on a Thursday while this year's Christmas and New Year's days will fall on Saturdays and that all mean that I'll be working on these days. As what I've said last year, I'll be working in the hospital saving lives while the rest of the world is partying and having fun with their loved ones.
Nevertheless, I still have all the chances in the world to be thankful to God for all the blessings that I and my family received this year. I am thankful that my parents were able to celebrate their Golden Wedding anniversary last July. I am forever thankful that they still remain in good health. I am likewise thankful to the Lord for giving my only brother a new lease in life. Last May of this year, he received a new kidney from a Good Samaritan. He was suffering from kidney failure for a year until someone offered his kidney to him. I considered my brother a walking miracle, a testament how the Lord blessed him with a new life. I am also thankful that God gave me a warning to take care more of myself specially my health. With my desire to help my brother, I also discovered that I too have a major issue on my health. Lately, I got accidentally involved with a social crisis and because of this I know who my real friends are. I promised myself to be contented with this set of friends as I know that they will be with me through and through. I am also thankful that I found a friend in this foreign land that became very special to me. I know that whatever happen to both of us, we remain for each other forever. Thankful to somebody special although far away from me, is loving and thinking of me from somewhere out there.
There is so much to be thankful for and what I just mentioned are the prominent ones that happened this year. How about you, what are you be thankful for?
Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
My general health is not in very good shape right now. I only have one working kidney as what I have discovered when I tried to donate for my brother. I therefore decided to improve my health but put some breaks on my heavy iron pumping in the gym. I concentrated more on the cardio training than weight training. Back in the Philippines, I was a fanatic to aerobic dancing and step aerobics classes and I could not deny that it worked in reducing my weight as well as maintaining it for quite awhile. Right now that I am here in America, I tried to regularly go to the gym and join the step aerobics classes being offered. Unfortunately, the class schedules were changed and I had a hard time attending to the classes that would fit my schedule. I work at night and I could not stay longer in the gym in the morning because I have to catch some needed sleep. Zumba classes were introduced and I was excited to know that there were some classes that fit perfectly with my schedule. I now do the Zumba twice a week, Mondays & Thursdays at 9:15am.
Zumba fitness is a fitness dance exercise program that keeps everyone motivated by creating a party like atmosphere. Zumba instructors will take their students through a combination of dance steps such as merengue, reggaetone and salsa. Zumba also incorporates fitness exercises such as bicep curls, knee lifts and squats. Zumba fitness is mostly about "booty shaking" dance moves that makes everyone laugh, smile and let loose. Zumba music uses mostly Latin rhythms but does contain other upbeat music from swing all the way to calypso. Zumba is all about the music and is probably the most important element in the class.
I still do my weight training but I no longer carry to heavy iron. I'm just crazy about Zumba, great music and killer moves, who will not be addicted with it. Cmon, let's all do the Zumba!
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Since I moved here in the US, I can only remember a couple of times that I celebrated Halloween, specifically attending a Halloween party complete with appropriate garb for the occasion. I was usually working preventing me to attend this kind of festivities. Last year I was with my friends at Fremont Street just watching people in different Halloween costumes. I even shoot some video footage and uploaded them to YouTube.
This year, I purposely requested an extra day off to be able to attend a Halloween party hosted by a friend of a friend. In other words, I was one of the invited by the invitee. I was with my close friends Emmy, her husband Teody, their 2 kids, Leslie & my good friend Rafa. This was something new for me since this was the first time that I went to a party where I did not know or even haven't met most of the people there, not even the host of the party. We were one of the first to arrive and I was already impressed by the place. It was obvious that the host really spent some time, money and effort to decorate the whole place. All the lights in the house were replaced with "black" lights; there were some little strobe lights as well. There were some scary and ghoulish creatures either hanging or standing in every corner. I was especially impressed by how the bathroom was decorated. With a bloody knife wielding creature hanging just over the toilet bowl, you can feel that somebody overhead is about to cut you to pieces. Coupled with a red light and some plastic finger cuttings and a bloody knife on the wash sink completed the effect of a hell hole. There was also a DJ wearing a mouse mask playing some cool dance music that kept the party alive. Each of the visitors, including us, brought a bottle of wine and the result is a never ending flow of booze for the whole night. It was a typical American party so there was no sitting, and only some finger foods but more of the booze. Fortunately we ate enough dinner before coming over to the party. Everyone had a nice time. People were polite enough to come up to you and introduce themselves. It was a good opportunity to make some new friends. In this kind of party, people expect that you mingle and interact with them. The best thing about the party, almost all actually dressed up for the occasion. Even Manny Pacquiao (look-alike) was there. My friend Emmy was an angel (a naughty one), Teody and their two boys were devils, Leslie was a geisha, my friend Rafa came as he is (hahahaha) and I got myself a hoodie with skeleton prints. There were also people dressed as a pussycat, an Arabian belly dancer, a cop (in shorts), some skeleton monsters, a zombie, muscleman, and a lot more. By the way I will see more of these creatures on Halloween eve itself as I cruise along Fremont Street. I am planning to come up with a video again just like last year.
Overall, we had a blast! I wish I could host a costume party like this when I go back to the Philippines so that my relatives there could experience the same fun I had.
Monday, October 25, 2010
My mom just arrived from the Philippines after about eight (8) long months to take care of my brother who was having a kidney transplant. She came in yesterday via Philippine Airlines (PR106) departing from Manila to Vancouver then proceeded to Las Vegas. I and my dad were going to pick her up at the airport but we had the best scare of our lives.
My dad and I went to a lunch party (birthday) at a family friend's house before we went to the airport. We were a little bit late, my mom's plane landed about 6:30pm and we arrived about 30mins later. On our way to the airport, I wasn't worried at all because supposedly my mom should just be waiting for us at the pickup point although I expected a long sermon from her on why we were late. As we arrived at the airport she was nowhere to be found. There were still few passengers waiting outside as well as inside the waiting area of the terminal but seems nobody came out from the immigration area already. I asked the information clerk if it was possible to check the immigration and the customs area for some delayed passengers and I even gave him my mom's name. He came out saying that there was nobody inside. Worried, I let my dad stay in the waiting area while I walked to the other side of the building to look for her. I ended up at the Philippine Airlines office and asked for their help. They checked the computers which tied up to the plane's manifesto and confirmed that my mom indeed left Manila with PR106. We tried to make sense out of it and discussed the possibility that she might be left in Vancouver point. The lady however reiterated that there was no way that she can get out of the holding area while they waited for their plane to be refueled because the holding area was always electronically closed and assuming she was on wheelchair there is always someone to assist her as she will be one of the first to board the plane again. As I told my dad about this, we thought of the possibility that she took a taxi by herself but I could not convince myself on this idea. Yes, my mom can drive a car but it was only to and from her work and driving around town was not her expertise. In other words she had directional problems outside her driving comfort zone. The next best possibility was that she befriended somebody and that person tried to help her and drove her to our house. We decided therefore that we go home and checked on her. When we arrived home, she was not there as we expected. We were already stressed out; my dad started to speculate on anything and tried to calm himself by settling on the idea that she was never able to board the plane from Manila point. We decided to go back to the airport and report the case to the airport police since the PAL office was already closed when we first left the airport. On our way to the airport my phone rang and when I looked at the caller ID it said "HOME"!
My mom said that it was so windy and cold while waiting for us in the waiting area and her new found friend tried to help her. She gave my phone number but it turned out that she gave the wrong one to her friend. She could not remember my dad's phone number so she went with her friend who drove her to our house. All the while she was inside the house while we were outside try to plan out on what to do next. We were not thinking to enter the house because my dad said that she did not have the house keys so I dismissed the idea. It seemed that a heavy burden just pulled out from my shoulders. Everything ended well that night and I'm much happy that she is back home and safe.
Some lessons should be learned from this situation: Never be late in picking up somebody at the airport; Never leave the waiting area no matter how late you'll be picked up because the airport is the safest place to stay put; and Always provide the correct phone number of the person whose going to pick you up.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
If you talk about Las Vegas, you can only think about gambling, extravagant neon lights, modern hotels and condo buildings, shopping, buffet restaurants, dining haven, clubs, girls & shows but you rarely think that Las Vegas also offers anything but family friendly activities. We have our Lake Mead (a man-made lake reservoir) where you can jet ski, boat and fish around and we have our own marina facilities. Go to the mountains on winter and you can ski your hearts out in our very own ski resort. Another thing you might not imagine existing in Las Vegas, a city in the middle of the desert is a vegetables & fruit plantation. We have our own apple orchard in the middle of the desert.
Last Saturday, I happened to visit Gilcrease Orchard with my close friends. They are open to the public 3X a week from 7am to 12noon. You can go into the field in your car at $3 per car entrance fee or just walk-in for free. You can pick and eat all the apples as you can but you cannot bring them home unless you buy them at $1 a pound on your way out. They also have pomegranate, okra, tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, sweet potatoes, peanuts, squash, pumpkin, cucumber and many more vegetables. People come with baskets and bags on hand to hold the produce they are harvesting. With the coming of the Halloween, pumpkins were very popular.
Armed with my camera, I had a blast taking pictures in the field. I only ended up having a bag of some apples and 4 gallons of fresh apple cider which I got at the gate on our way out. It was a Las Vegas version of apple picking, but aside from the apples, there are other things that you can get from that farm.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
I've been doing this since early last year when I got my iPod Touch. Starbucks had this promotion to its loyal patrons: Every week (Tuesday) they've been giving away free music through iTunes. You just have to go to a Starbucks coffee shop (purchase not necessary) and pick a card with all the information about their song pick of the week. At the back of this card, you can find the download code that you will use in iTunes just like iTunes gift card. I thought this promo was over last year since some of the Starbucks shops that I visited no longer have this Pick of the Week cards on display. Yesterday was I guess a blessing because in the store that I went, I saw a bunch of cards that were still on display on their counter for all the people to pick. Cards that were not picked up in the previous weeks can still be found together with the current choises. I actually picked 9 different cards yesterday and I've downloaded all of the them. Their song choices actually covers a wide range of music genre, from country to rock to pop and even the classics.
I could say I'm not a coffee addict but coming to Starbucks just for a free music complemeted with a free Wi-Fi (by the way) is worth the time.
Go visit a Starbucks location someday and try to look for those cards.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Earlier this week I had the rare opportunity to be close to nature by visiting the Delights Hot Springs Resort in Tecopa, California and a side trip to China Ranch Date Farm.
Hidden in the seldom-explored reaches of the Mojave Desert lies an oasis, widely known for its peaceful atmosphere and therapeutic natural artesian hot spring mineral water. The Tecopa California Hot Springs are widely considered to be of the highest quality hot spring in the United States, a reputation being held for centuries. It is located some 75 miles West of Las Vegas or about 90 minute drive through the desert landscape. The resort that we went has private hot springs bath, cottages, trailers and motel rooms for rent. The water is maintained at 99 – 104 degF. Soaking my body in this hot water gave me a relaxed feeling all over. If you go online to their website, more information are available about the mineral content of the spring water, their amenities as well as the detailed directions on how to get there. They even accept online reservations. Follow this link to Delights Hot Springs Resort.
On our way back, we made a side trip to another beautiful oasis in the middle of the arid landscape of the desert. The hidden oasis of China Ranch Date Farm is a family owned and operated small farm near Tecopa, California. It is about 85 miles West of Las Vegas, Nevada. Just imagine a lush greenery in the middle of the Mojave Desert near south of Death Valley, with towering cottonwoods and willows, wandering stream, date palms and abundant wildlife. The ranch offers home grown dates as well as other California varieties. They have delicious date nut bread, muffins and cookies as well as their vanilla date smoothie which I tried as well as some unique gifts from their gift shop. When I was there, I also noticed a small museum which houses old historic pictures and artifacts from around the area. According to their website, China Ranch offers more than just dates and dates products. You can purchase palm trees and varieties of cacti for home and office landscaping. They can even rent out some of their properties for still photography and film productions. Follow this link to China Ranch Date Farm for more information.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Monday in the Philippines: A shameful and tragic event unfolded and beamed all over the world. A lone gunman held a tourist bus hostage with mostly Hong Kong tourists on board. Due to incompetence and lack of training of the police force and SWAT officers, the so-called Manila's Finest failed to stop the hostage drama without bloodshed. The gunman was killed alright, but eight tourists also lost their lives and not to mention some injured bystanders being hit by stray bullets. All the details about this dreadful event were all over the news both local and international. The Philippines was immediately put into the black list as a tourist destination not only by China but by other Southeast Asian nations. The government should do something about this especially how to save our face in the International scene. Heads must roll in order to correct and prevent this to happen again in the future.
Monday evening in the United States of America: The Miss Universe 2010 Pageant is unfolding in Mandalay Hotel Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Filipinos in this part of the country were all out in support of Maria Venus Raj, the Philippine's representative. Excitement burst out as her name was called to be in the Top 15 among 83 candidates. As the beauty contest progressed, her name again was called to be in the Top 10. Wearing her beautiful flowing gown and with a queenly stance, she was in the Top 5. After the question and answer portion, Philippine's Maria Venus Raj was crowned as Miss Universe 2010 – 4th Runner Up. She admitted during her interviews after the pageant that she was nervous during the Q & A but it was not an easy feat to be in the Top 5. Her answer to that final question became the hot topic of the social networks around the cyber world, but she was not offended by it. In her words, she said that at least the "major, major" brought fame and pride to her country.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
My mom's birthday will be this coming Aug 19, 2010 and she will be 79 years old. This is also the first time since year 2000 that she will be celebrating this day away from me and my dad. She is still in the Philippines right now with my brother.
I am not very vocal in expressing myself how I felt to my family and loved ones. I can easily express it through letters and cards or through gifts during holidays and birthdays. Through this blog I can easily express how much I love her.
Ever since I was young she is always there for me & my brother in good times and in bad. I perceived her as the strong pillar in the family. My family recently experienced the worst crisis so far but she was there standing strong. I know she suffered as I always saw her crying but she had her refuge, God. Even if she was hurting inside, she still held herself together through prayers. Eventually, we went through the crisis victorious with God's help.
I know I could not repay for everything she had done for me but the only thing I could do for her is to love her. I had my shortcomings, yes. I may not be a perfect son for her and I'm sorry for that, but my love and respect for her is never ending. I could only wish good health for her. She is already retired from work and I hope she would enjoy this new phase of her life.
I love you Mama, and Happy Birthday.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
It's always a yearly event for the members of Kaba-Maasin, a community of fellow Maasinhons now residing in Las Vegas, Nevada to celebrate our city's fiesta in honor of Our Lady of the Assumption. Ever since we started this event last 2003, I've been totally involved with its preparations. I had committed to the group to do the dirty job, from initiating production numbers, setting up the program, printing admission tickets and ensuring availability of a priest to handle the novena mass for nine nights. It's always a big thankless job for the love of our Patron Saint and for my community.
This year's preparations was not an exception but to my pride, the kids and youth of Kaba-Maasin willingly participated in the preparations by assuming major roles such as organizing their own dance number, willingly accepting the Emceeing job for the night, to name a few. There will be a hundred Maasinhons expected to attend from all over the United States. Some of them already attended these festivities in the previous years while some were first timers.
It always boils down to one thing, wherever you are in the world and whatever you do in your life, once a Maasinhon always a Maasinhon in your heart and in your soul.
Happy Fiesta to all Maasinhons all over the world.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Way back in 2008 when I went home to the Philippines, a colleague from work told me that one of her hobbies when she travels is to buy an artwork from the places she visited, specifically a watercolor painting. I had promised her to buy one from the Philippines. When I was getting ready for my return trip back to the USA, I was looking for a good watercolor painting for her. To my frustration I could not find one, mostly on sale were oil on canvas artworks. A friend of mine from Cebu helped me find a contact person to an artist who can do watercolor paintings but unfortunately there was no stock ready for sale. My contact person told me that the artist was working on a watercolor painting that he could offer for sale and I immediately placed my reservation for it. The artwork was ready and finished after two days of waiting and to my surprise, it cost even more than an oil painting much bigger than its size. When I looked at the finished work, I immediately fell in love with it. It depicts women fish vendors in a typical Philippine market setting. I paid for the artwork and decided to have it for myself not only because it cost more than I expected but I really fell in love with it. Since there was no more time to look for another watercolor painting as a gift to my friend, I decided to buy a small oil painting for her instead. Fortunately I was able to buy small framed oil on canvas set on a small easel. It depicts a bunch of guys carrying a house on their backs, the most common picture that represents one of the best Filipino traits of bayanihan spirit. There was a small description about the painting written on the back and that would help non-Filipinos understand what the artist wanted to convey. Fortunately my friend loved it when I gave it to her and she said that it already had a place on her coffee table.
This happened for quite some time now and the framed "Fish Vendors" is still hanging on the wall of our living room. Every time visitors would ask where I got that watercolor painting, I would always tell them this story. Some would say I was bad of not completing my promise to my friend but mostly would say that it was good that I decided to keep it for myself. I could not decipher the artist's signature on the artwork but I promised myself that the next time I will be in the Philippines, I would try to get the identitiy of the artist.
After about five (5) months in the Philippines of taking care of my brother during his kidney transplant, my dad is back with me here in Las Vegas. I jokingly said that "at last my cook is back", because he is always the one working in the kitchen even if my mom was with us. My mom by the way is still in the Philippines with my brother. She probably would wait until my brother's condition is more stabilized. Her open ticket for her return trip though is until February of next year so she actually doesn't have limitless time to remain in the Philippines.
At last I have someone with me in the house. Even if our house is just a small one, enough for a family of 3 to 4, it still felt eerie when you are alone all the time. Fortunately, work and my friends helped me cope up with loneliness. I always spent my days off with my close friends and I just return back to home at nights when I was all ready to sleep. If my friends were not available to go out, there is always the ever waiting gym ready to welcome me. I had worked out very late in the gym for a couple of times and I actually liked it since there were not much people that you had to compete with in using the equipments. My laptop or should I say my netbook also helped me battle the boredom in the house. I think I became a Facebook fanatic since this is always the site that I open all the time at home and even if I didn't have my netbook, I had my mobile phone setup to open Facebook and Twitter. Everywhere I went with my friends, be it bars and restaurants or out of town places, I always update my Facebook. In fact I jokingly declared that I easily get kidnapped if ever I had a stalker since by just reading my updates on Facebook alone, one would know where I am and what I was doing.
Right now I am working with some people from my hometown in preparing for our upcoming Maasin Fiesta. This will be a ten (10) day affair complete with Novena and finally a Dinner & Socials in a ballroom of one of the local resorts here. Anyway, this is another story worth blogging. Bottom-line, my dad is back now and we are waiting for my mom to join us soon.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Some people would say I'm crazy but yes I have to make this trip. It took me so long to decide if I will make this trip but with a lot of prodding from my brother as well as my parents, I instantly made the decision on the "11th hour". I already went home last March for supposedly the kidney transplant of my brother. The transplant operation was successful and that's why this family event is so important for us also. My brother's Thanksgiving in time with my parent's 50th wedding anniversary made this so important once in a lifetime event not to miss it. Even if I don't have enough vacation leave credits to be able to stay there longer, I still opted to go home even for just 3 days. I'm sure it is worth it.
I'm at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas right now waiting for my flight to Manila and finally to Cebu City. Due to time difference, I'll lose 2 days as I will arrive in the Philippines by Thursday. The event will be on Saturday and my return flight will be the next day. Seems my time is fully loaded but again as I said, it is worth the efort and even the money.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Last July 4th, American Independence Day was actually my second time that I'm off from work since year 2000 because it falls on a Sunday which is my day off. When you talk about Independence Day here in the USA, it equates to fireworks. New Year's Day and Independence Day are the only major 2 holidays that has fireworks display by the end of the day. Unfortunately, my plan of getting close to fireworks in order to photograph them was not realized. Before going to the planned venue for the fireworks show, I went with my friends to a birthday party. Unmindful of the time, we were actually late for the fireworks show. Although I captured some pictures but those were not worth sharing or even posting online. Our location was a big factor therefore I could not play around with my camera. Since we were partially disappointed with the fireworks, we decided to do something to compensate it. We immediately embarked on a road trip the following morning for a 4 hours drive to Sedona, AZ.
The main attraction of Sedona is its stunning array of red sandstone formations, commonly called the Red Rocks of Sedona. The Red Rocks form a breathtaking backdrop for everything from spiritual pursuits to hundreds of hiking and mountain biking trails. We were planning to spend a whole day at Sedona and looking at some resources online, we were attracted to the popular Pink Jeep Tours. They offer several off-road guided tours around the city and since our time was limited we opted for the most bumpy tour package, the Diamondback Gulch tour. It's a rugged outback adventure in a 4 x 4 pink jeep with extraordinary views. We all had a blast during the 2.5 hours of bumpy and thrilling ride through the authentic Diamondback trail. After the tour we roamed around the city and visited the Catholic Chapel of the Holy Cross which was perched on top of a red rock. We could have watched the famous sunset of Sedona which they said would make the red sandstones seem to glow in brilliant orange and red when illuminated by the rising or setting sun, but one of our friends will have to work early the following morning so we could not stay overnight. We therefore ventured for another 4 hours drive back to Las Vegas.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Overcoming the most major crisis so far in his life, my brother is back home at last. It's been more than a month since he had his kidney transplant operation last May 11th in Cebu and now he is back ready to face the next stage of his life armed with a new kidney given by a kind individual. After the actual transplant there were scary moments for all of us because the new kidney did not function as expected by his doctors. Eventually the new transplanted organ came up to life and was functioning well since then. All tests came back normal so after three weeks in the hospital my brother was discharged. They stayed a few more weeks in Cebu because his doctors were still monitoring him closely but eventually he was given the go signal to go home to our hometown in Maasin City. Now ready to face his life with a new sense of normalcy, I bet he'll be missing those two days a week rendezvous with the dialysis machine. Take note that it's been a year since my brother started having his dialysis and that was last May 2009 while him and his family had their vacation here in the USA. Now those harrowing days are gone.
Thank you once again to all our family and friends who offered their help though their prayers. Our family is very thankful to God for hearing all our prayers. I would like to specially mention our parents for their love and support all throughout this crisis. With strength on our faith armed with prayers, we came out victorious.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Last Tuesday, May 11th was my brother's kidney transplant operation. It was done in Cebu, Philippines and my whole family was with him. I was alone here in Las Vegas wondering what was happening on the other side of the world. I had my computer on almost the whole day and used Skype's calling feature to get updates of the operation. I was nervous and afraid of what might happen to him and I felt I was at a loss since I could not do anything to help him. I knew my parents were also feeling the same way I did, just imagine that their son underwent a very critical operation. I didn't like the feeling of waiting, it was very agonizing.
Since I was online the whole time and planned to remain online until the end of the surgery, I used my Facebook account to broadcast updates to my friends. I did it so that I won't feel alone. I knew my brother and I had lots of friends online so I thought it was a big help to virtually gather them around for support. Fortunately I wasn't wrong. Lots of friends left positive comments on my updates and offered prayers for my brother's safety. Most of them also left assurances that everything would be alright with God's grace. Seeing all the positive feedback encouraged me to keep on posting updates online. I'd been calling my brother's wife to get updates and if there are new developments I posted them online. I felt better because I felt I was no longer alone.
The surgery lasted almost 9 hours for both my brother and the donor and the longer it took the surgery to finish the more I felt uneasy. It was a very big relief when I finally got the word that he was about to be transferred to his room in isolation. The next 48 hours was very critical for him. Infection is the biggest threat in this stage. Symptoms of organ rejection can be reversed with massive doses of anti-rejection drugs. On my last call my brother was already awake but still weak and sleepy. He is currently in isolation in a sterile environment. He will remain in that state for the next 2 weeks with a dedicated nurse monitoring over him all the time. He will stay in Cebu for another month as he will still be closely monitored by his doctors.
At this point, it's still not over. We still have to pray to the Lord for his full recovery.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
This is quite late for posting but nevertheless I still have to blog about it.
On my last days off, some of my close friends invited me to go with them for a short island trip to Santa Catalina Island often called Catalina Island just off the coast of Southern California. Catalina is one of the eight Channel Islands Archipelago of California. It is also the only one among the eight islands to have a significant permanent civilian settlement. The city of Avalon, where we landed is one of the two places where you can find concentration of population, the other one is the unincorporated town of Two Harbors.
The night before our trip, we had a farewell party for the mother of my friends because she just retired from her work. They invited me to go with them and since I was still on my dayoff I immediately agreed. I slept in their house that evening after the party since we were planning to leave Las Vegas very early in the morning. I volunteered to drive that morning all the way to Long Beach, California where the catamaran fastcraft terminal is located. In the early morning, about 3AM we started our 4 to 5 hours drive to Long Beach. I felt excited for the long drive and I even did not feel tired or sleepy at all.
We arrived at the Catalina Express terminal about 8:30AM, that was about 5 hours of drive. I was hoping to get to the jump off point in 4 hours but we were caught by the early traffic when we were in the vicinity of Los Angeles. We were still early though since the fastcraft's depature would still be at 10AM. We still were able to take breakfast at the cafe inside the terminal. After an hour of boat ride to the island, we arrived at the bay city of Avalon around 11AM. We immediately debated what to do in the island. Actually there were so much to do in the island but you need to plan them out. Since our stay there is limited we decided to take the island tour by bus since it would cover much of the island's interesting places. With our driver/tour guide talking all the intersting facts (or fiction?) about the island, we went around the city and up to the mountains. One fact of Catalina's history though is that in 1919 the island was bought by the chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. He was also one of the latest owners of the island to develop it successfully to become an island resort for visitors. We were enjoying so much of the tour specially when one of our detinations was their so called "airport in the sky" located high up the mountain at the elevation of 1,602 feet. Going up there required steep road climbing but on our way, we saw some of the glorious bird's eye view of Avalon and the surrounding parts of the island.
We still have ample time to explore part of the city of Avalon after the tour. We initially planned to rent out golf carts which is one of the available tour transportation of the city but turned down the idea since our remaining time is limited. Our fastcraft will leave at 3:45pm that afternoon. Armed with our cameras, we had a blast in shooting some pictures around the city. You can view some pictures I took in my Facebook page. By the way, did you know that Catalina Island is also rich in Hollywood hisotry? Some of the famous classic movies were filmed in the island. You need to visit their official website for more information or just Google or even search it through Wikipedia.
Check out this link: http://www.catalinachamber.com/
I'm planning to go back to Catalina Island and stay overnight there....someday soon.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
It's been more than two weeks since I came back from the Philippines and I'm still alone here in Las Vegas. I managed to get used to being alone in the house and going back to work was of great help for me. This way, I have something to look forward to every night, since I'm working on the evening shifts. My day off was quite enjoyable for me since I got invited by fellow Maasinhons for lunch last Sunday. I didn't have to think on something to do on that day. My best friend who usually was my companion on my days off was out of town having a vacation with his family but it was not a problem for me since I had some fun with my friends from my hometown. The following day I also got the chance to go out with some friends and have fun in a local bar. Even if I only got one drink, I still enjoy their company. Alcoholic drink was one of the things that I have to avoid or if not take at a minimum in order to take care of my remaining kidney. I really don't have a problem if I have to totally avoid alcoholic beverages since I'm not really a drinker and still can enjoy any party or gathering without it. I'm happy if I just settle on iced tea.
Don't get me wrong. I feel totally alright with myself. I'm still the same bubbly guy that I used to be before my trip to the Philippines. I'm not sick at all and I don't feel anything wrong on my body. It's just that since I knew the real status of my health, I have to be extra careful on what I eat and drink. You may call it paranoia but there is a need for me to be familiar with the stuff that I can take and those to be avoided. I still can do the things that I used to do in fact I'm dying to go back to my exercises. Oh yeah, going to the gym is the one thing that I still have to go back to. I missed the Zumba class already. Let's see if tomorrow morning could lead me to the gym. After all it's just a matter of will power to push me back on track.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
After my "failed" mission in the Philippines, I'm back here in Las Vegas and back to what I usually do: work, gym, eat, friends and just to enjoy life. My family is still in the Philippines eagerly waiting for my brother's kidney transplant come May 11th. Yes, he found a suitable donor after attempts on some relatives including myself. We are looking forward to his speedy recovery and back to his former person and lifestyle.
I thought I'm used to being alone at home. I spent about 17 years working and living away from my family and it gave me the opportunity to be independent and to be my own self. That was about 10 years ago before I moved here in the United States. When I got here and joined my parents, I was back to the comfort of a home and family. This time though, I'm home alone for about 2 months. My first few days were kind of confusing, I know there are a lot of things to do but I didn't know what to do first and what to do next. Fortunately I managed to do all my laundry on my clothes that I used during my brief stay in the Philippines. I also did a little grocery shopping although I wasn't planning to do some cooking for myself. It would be more feasible to just eat out than cook for myself. I guess going back to work soonest is one cure of this home alone dilemma.
I guess I got to go and wash my car next.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
For my last three days in the Philippines, I went to the now famous Kuting Reef Resort. Just less than an hour-drive away from Maasin City, this resort is quite out of touch from civilization. Why I said that? There was no clear signal for cell phones and internet connection. You need to move around the premises to get a signal. According to the management, they did not force the issue of getting full coverage of cell phones because the main purpose of spending some time in Kuting is to get lost from it all. I have noticed that there was no cable television installed in most of the rooms because again it was encouraged to forget the rigors of city life and just stay on silent mode and stay in tuned to nature. Just like a world class resort, Kuting Reef has some of the most common water sports facilities plus a little more. They offer an island tour to nearby Limasawa Island, the site of the first mass in the Philippines. The food was excellent for me and the hotel staff was most friendly and courteous. I also have noticed that even the staff speak the local dialect which is Visayan, they use the Philippines' national language Tagalog to communicate with all the guests. I occupied the casita accommodation which is like a modern bahay kubo with all the basic amenities that you can ask for including hot/cold shower.
My cousin Philip and his family spent the night with me for dinner and night swimming on the pool while my brother and his family as well as our parents joined me in the morning for lunch before I checked out.
As of this writing, I'm already in Cebu getting ready for my flight back to Las Vegas tomorrow.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
After I decided to cut short my stay in the Philippines, I might as well enjoy the remaining days before my return trip to the US this coming April 11th. I got only less than 2 weeks to do this so I went to Bohol and spent Good Friday in that familiar island. I said "familiar" since I have some friends in that place and it was not my first time to visit that island. I originally planned to go to Malapascua, Cebu's answer to Boracay but unfortunately I was told that there were no more places to stay since all the hotels and lodging houses were all fully booked. I changed my plan to go to Bohol instead. Since the hotels along the beach were fully booked also I decided to stay within the Tagbilaran City proper. I was not really crazy about spending the day in a beach so I availed the island tour. Come Easter Sunday, I was already in Cebu attending a mass at the Basilica del Sto. Nino. Going back to Maasin this week, you will probably see me spending some quality time with my family at friends at Kuting Reef Resort. I've never been there and I've heard a lot of good things about this new resort in Southern Leyte.
Since I arrived in the Philippines last March 16th, these remaining days will be the days that I could call a "vacation". Days that I could enjoy myself in the countryside, my family and friends and of course the food while still staying connected online, thanks to the wide availability of Wi-Fi. Most likely I'll be back much sooner than expected.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
After all the unfavorable results for my desire to help my brother, I decided to cut short my stay in the Philippines. Initially I have asked permission from my work for about 2 months leave but since I could no longer donate one of my kidneys to my brother, I will be returning back to Las Vegas in less than 2 weeks from this writing. Right now I'm here in Cebu to change the schedule of my return flight to April 11th. I'll also be calling my boss informing them of the sudden changes in schedules so that they could accommodate me to be able to start back to work on April 14th. I'll be going back to live my life as normal as possible although I am much aware of the state of my health. At least I know that I have to do more effort in trying to live a healthy lifestyle like eating and drinking the right stuff as not to overwork my one and only kidney. This way I could ensure that I could outlive my remaining kidney.
As for my brother, there are some positive things going on with him. We have a couple of cousins willing to help him and brought them here in Cebu for the required screening tests. One of them is so far cleared to proceed with the final tests and cross matching, while the other one had some findings of kidney stones as well as some issues of her heart. My brother's surgeon also found a possible donor that generally matches him. Right now we are focusing on this cousin as the surgeon preferred him over the other donor that he found. Its just a matter of time that my brother will be free from the grasps of the dialysis machines holding his life down.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
After undergoing all my physical tests, the bottom line result is devastating for me. I am not healthy enough to donate one of my kidneys to my brother. They found some stone formation near my right kidney minimizing the flow of blood which causes it to shrink in size than normal. I was devastated not because of the findings but because I failed my own brother. I could no longer give him one of my kidneys providing him the hope of improving his quality of life. When I got the results, I could not help myself but cry. I've been crying every night without them knowing since I don't want my brother to lose hope in finding another suitable donor for himself. He will have his own tissue cross matched from a pool of possible donor and hopefully it would just be a matter of time that he will be called for the actual transplant by his surgeon.
As for myself, I will still have to undergo a test to determine how much percentage my right kidney is working. This would determine the course of action how to treat and save my right kidney. The nephrologist told me that the stone was formed for quite some time now which means I've been living my life with literally just one full functional kidney without my knowledge. I told my family to make me an example to prospective donors that one can live a normal life with just one kidney as long as they will lead a healthy lifestyle.
Thinking on the positive side, it was a blessing in disguise for me. I have found out that there is something wrong with my health even if I don't feel any symptoms at all. I thought I was healthy enough because I've been trying to eat properly and exercise regularly. This made me realize that what I did were not enough to keep me healthy. Regular medical and physical check-up is necessary especially now that I'm not getting any younger. This made me realize how precious life is and appreciate all the blessings I received.
Friday, March 19, 2010
On my way to the Philippines, I was quite positive and excited to be able to help my brother in his time of great need. I willingly underwent various tests to determine if I am healthy enough to donate one of my kidneys to him. I was being poked and poked again with needles for blood works. I humiliated myself collecting my urine for 24 hours using a sterilized plastic container and putting it inside the refrigerator. If nobody knew about it, it could be mistaken for iced tea preparation…LOL! I underwent ultrasound where a lady doctor had the chance to see and touch my lower abdomen using her scanner nearest to my "ehem". My last test will be done this coming Tuesday where it could determine the proper functioning of my kidneys.
Taking this all in the positive side, I have undergone a major physical check-up which could determine if I'm still healthy or not.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
After 13 long hours of flight from Vancouver, we finally arrived here in Cebu last March 16th, a Tuesday. We arrived in early morning and I wasn't tired at all so we decided to start the tests immediately. I had my ECG, ECHO (ultrasound for the heart), chest X-ray and ultrasound for my kidneys. The following day, Wednesday, I had my blood works done. There were a lot to consider like sugar levels, creatinine toxicity levels, HIV and a lot more. My blood type is B just like my brother, the potential recipient of one of my kidneys. We are on the third day and we will go to my brother's nephrologist for the results. I am currently worried because initially I've heard that there were some issues on some of my test results which we will confirm today. My biggest fear is what if I am not healthy enough to become a donor? What will happen now to my brother?
Sunday, March 14, 2010
I'm embarking a trip today to the Philippines to be with my family. This is the first step in realizing my decision to do something for my brother. Making this decision was quite easy for me because I love him so much. Being his only sibling, I am his last hope to improve his quality of life. He badly needs a kidney transplant but he initially did not want me to donate one of mine. He was thinking that I am his last hope to take care of his family if something bad might happen to him. I thought that this is his own family, his wife and son, and therefore it is only right that he will take care of them himself. This is the reason why I made this most important decision in my life. It did not take me a long time to think and came up with this. Aside from being huge, it is also life changing. Upon arrival in the Philippines, we will start a series of tests to establish that we are a match. I'm quite positive about the results and I just hope and pray that we are indeed a good match and I'm healthy enough to donate. I have done some research about organ donation but I still have lots of things to ask with our doctor about my expectations after the procedure. Again, I'm positive about my brother having a second lease in life.
I will post more on my experience as a living donor, so visit this blog again soon.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Knowing that some of my friends are busy with the games, either watching or betting, I decided to lessen my preparation for my own birthday party. Almost half of Kaba-Maasin members that I invited were not able to attend my party. Nevertheless, I still enjoy the time with my close friends that evening. After watching the games on TV, we watched Michael Jackson's "This Is It" movie/documentary on our Blu-Ray player since most of my friends were not able to watch it during its limited run in the theaters. We ended the party doing karaoke while most went home because of work or school early in the morning. Overall, the small party was a success. We have so much food in excess though even if we encourage or force the visitors to take some food home.
The following day I just spent it in the house watching TV or surfing online. The following morning though was an excitement for me. I was thinking about my driver's license and something inside me has been pushing me to check if its still valid for use. I remembered that renewal dates always fall on birth dates so I sprung out from bed and checked my driver's license. I was horrified when I saw that it was expired since Feb 7, 2009...2009??? That means I've been driving my car for a year with an expired driver's license? This can't be true! I hurried to hit the showers in order to head out to DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) to supposedly renew my license. After I took my shower, my dad told me that I could have missed the renewal notice from the DMV and I said that I never got any notice from them. The last notice I got was for the renewal of my car's registration. While dressing up, I went online to the DMV website to check my records and I was surprised that my records are still on active status and there is no "Expired" note on it. My dad then told me to check at the back of my card since he remembered that he received a sticker after he renewed his own driver's license. I checked my card again and there I saw the sticker. My driver's license is yet to expire on February 7, 2013. Whew! That was close. Everything seems a bright morning once again...even if its raining cats and dogs outside.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
I just got off from work and my friend invited me to go with his family up the mountains. Armed with my camera, we spent the whole morning playing with the snow. It was about mid 20s up there but there was no snow fall at all. I felt not much cold on my upper body but the longer I stayed standing on the snow, the colder my lower body had become. I actually didnt have the right foot gear for the snow but it was okey since we did not plan of staying there for long. Maybe I would like to realize my dream of actually try to ski. Got to go to Utah as they have one of the best ski slopes in there, Winter Olympics was held there before.
Follow the link for the pictures: http://lemueljon.multiply.com/photos/album/77/Mt_Charleston_Winter_2010
Monday, February 1, 2010
A traditional Chinese New year greeting, "Gong Xi Fa Cai" which is loosely translated to "Congratulations and be prosperous", is often mistakenly assumed to be synonymous with "Happy New Year". Unlike western calendars, the lunar Chinese new year calendar has names that are repeated every 60 years. Within the 'Stem-Branch' system is the shorter cycle of 12 years denoted by animals and 2010 is the Chinese year of the Tiger. In particular, this is the year of Gēng-yín (Metal Tiger). Gēng is the seventh of the ten celestial stems and Yín (Tiger) is the third of the twelve terrestrial branches, thus February 14th 2010 marks the year of the Tiger with its association to bravery. Tiger people are sensitive, given to deep thinking, capable of great sympathy. They can be extremely short-tempered, however. Other people have great respect for them, but sometimes tiger people come into conflict with older people or those in authority. Sometimes Tiger people cannot make up their minds, which can result in a poor, hasty decision or a sound decision arrived at too late. They are suspicious of others, but they are courageous and powerful. Tigers are most compatible with Horses, Dragons, and Dogs.
Chinese New Year is the longest and most important festivity in the Lunar Calendar. The origin of Chinese New Year is itself centuries old and gains significance because of several myths and traditions. Ancient Chinese New Year is a reflection on how the people behaved and what they believed in the most. Celebrated in areas with large populations of ethnic Chinese, Chinese New Year is considered a major holiday for the Chinese and has had influence on the new year celebrations of its geographic neighbors, as well as cultures with whom the Chinese have had extensive interaction. Las Vegas is no exception, with an exclusive area within the city named Chinatown, both locals and visitors will soon see the Lion Dance, red envelopes and the firecrackers.
The best place to witness the passing of the season from Christmas to Chinese New Year is at the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Armed with my camera, I took some photos from the indoor garden. This exhibit will be open to the public through February 28th. If you are in town, don't forget to drop by.
To all my friends, I want to greet you "GONG XI FA CAI".
Follow this link for the pictures:
2010 Chinese New Year of the Metal Tiger
Monday, January 11, 2010
Lately, I lost my camera lens' cap and it bothered me because I might scratch or worse even break my lens so I've been looking for a camera store for a spare lens cap. Unfortunately during the holiday shopping rush, I always forget to buy the lens cap. I decided therefore to look for it online. I found the exact cap for my lens' size and after comparing the prices from different online merchants, I decided to place the order. Most of the time, these online merchants knows how to capture your interest on their products and lure you further to let you buy more items. My own experience was no exception. After placing my order for the replacement lens cap, the website gave out screen pop ups of several recommendations related to the item that I was about to purchase. Since the item I wanted was a camera accessory, the recommended items were also camera accessories most compatible to my Nikon D60 DSLR camera. Actually their technique worked on me, I was looking for some more items and realized that since I have now a new lens cap, I need also a lens cap keeper with elastic band. This would prevent losing again my lens cap so I place an order for it. Looking further on their recommendations, I found this wireless remote controller specifically compatible for my camera. My imagination starts rolling and I see myself to further experiment my camera and play around with its shutter speeds and aperture. A remote controller would be a great solution to prevent blurring of the resulting picture images so I placed an order for the remote controller. My shopping was not done yet because my mind still was working ahead of me. Once I got the remote controller, I would be enjoying much in taking pictures especially self-portraits or group pictures with me always in it therefore it would be possible that the capacity of my existing memory card would not be enough. This prompted me to buy another memory card as a spare. But wait, additional memory card would entail more hours of camera use and I got only one battery…whew! I've got to stop this. Logging out is the most appropriate remedy of this impulse buying.
My orders were delivered to me individually; maybe these came from various suppliers from various locations so I was not able to receive all of them in one package. I already received the lens cap, the lens cap keeper and the remote controller. I went back online to check the shipping status of the last item in my order, the memory card, and again the website showed me more recommendations….oh NO! Scanning my eyes on these items, I remembered that I've been thinking of having a set of lens filters that would enhance the clarity of my pictures so BANG! I placed another order for a set of 3 lens filters. Got to stop this craziness! Log out I just did.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Not much happened in the last 4 days but I gained some benefits by just staying home. I saved big bucks from not going out and hit the bars, and since I usually oversleep, I also gave my body the necessary rest period in between exercise days.
Monday, January 4, 2010
This post is kind of delayed. I was working for the past 4 days and this is the only chance that I find time to start updating my blog.
Just like Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I ushered in the New Year 2010 at my workplace. Fortunately it was not really that busy so there was no pressure at all in terms of finishing my job on time. How I wished I was able to leave my work earlier but there were some routine and important work to do that could not be passed on to the next shift. Nevertheless working on New Year's Eve felt just like any other evening at work. This time though, I brought along my net book so that I could monitor and watch the fireworks display on the Las Vegas Strip. It was broadcasted and streamed live online. The hospital management provided us with a special meal and some bottles of faux champagne which was actually sparkling apple cider complete with plastic champagne glasses. Anyway, at the stroke of midnight, I and the rest of the pharmacy staff (there were 5 of us) opened the bottles of faux champagne and toast for the coming of 2010.
I was working up to Saturday night and fortunately some of my friends called me up for an instant get together party, our post New Year's party. Some food and drinks were in abundance while dancing and karaoke singing on the side as this was already the norm in every Filipino party. This party was kind of special for me since most of these friends I haven't seen since August during our Maasin Fiesta celebrations. I was kind of busy and they were working, basically our schedules were not in synchronized with each other.
These were my simple celebrations to meet up the New Year. I bet ushering 2011 next year would be the same since New Year's Day would still fall on my regular working day. Nevertheless, I still can find some ways to be able to celebrate the holidays in my own little way.
I wish everyone a Happy New Year and all the best for 2010 will bring in our lives.