Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Of Shame and Pride

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

Happy Birthday Mama

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

Preparing for a Big Event

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

The Story Behind A Painting

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.

Home Alone – No More

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.