Sunday, October 31, 2010

Celebrating Halloween 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

Got A Scare Of My Life – My Early Halloween

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

Harvest Time in Las Vegas

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.