Archive for the letsgopinas goes to america Category

(lg2a) to rise again

Posted in culture, events, food, health, history, letsgopinas goes to america, locales, nature with tags , , , on March 30, 2013 by mijodo

ysla cover mike dario
It has been a while since I truly last posted here. I am in a middle of work that just exhausts me during weekdays and I just want to finish a book that I have started about two and a half years ago, right after migrating to the United States.

Now the book YSLA is complete. And I would like to think it is worth all the time. My intention has been to start a series of books that should encapsulate familiar words and themes to most young Filipinos living abroad most of their lives and who may have little idea about their heritage.

And hopefully YSLA does that through the eyes of three teens, Amiel, Mayumi and Ian who are marooned in an island full of surprises and terror, and eventually finding out the island’s history and their own culture and values. The Manananggal, the Tiyanak and the new set of colonizers move the story forward for these youngsters, pitifully stuck in another time and place.

Please get a copy of the ebook YSLA if you are outside the Philippines from Amazon.com, itunes and Barnes and Noble. And if you are within Philippines, get it from Flipreads.com.

Follow me at this Facebook account – https://www.facebook.com/mikedarios.ysla?ref=tn_tnmn

After this book YSLA, who knows I may rise again back here in this blog or even at another book for the series.

Happy Easter everyone!

(lg2a) smallville, new york

Posted in architecture, artifacts, culture, events, history, letsgopinas goes to america, locales, nature, people, tradition with tags , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2011 by mijodo

“Have you been to a place, far away from it all…?” – from the song Lost Horizon of the movie musicale with the same title.

This is how I felt all throughout when I stayed at that upstate locale, Jeffersonville in the state of New York for almost two months for a job stint.

There is a sense of isolation, a sense of being alone, specially so that there is not much of a distraction from any of the popular fastfood area, or  from any of the large shopping malls and groceries within this small village.

For those missing the citylife, it is almost cruel irony, that the borough of Manhattan, the world’s financial district, and densely populated by famous skyscrapers and megastructures is merely about 3 1/2 hours away.  However for the unfortunate ones who don’t own cars, it will take several hundred bucks for a one way taxi-ride, and that is – if there is one willing to take you there.  For a direct bus ride from the area, you have to thank the Jeffersonville Bank (the lone bank in the entire area) to sponsor one bus that should take 60 people for a bustrip to the city. And this momentous excursion happens every three months – once for every season at a reduced price of 30 dollars – two way.

However if you are not into the grime and fast paced city living, then surely you will take in all what you can from leisurely life of Jeffersonville.  From a good vantage point, there is the stretch of mountains and hills all over to envelop your visual sense.  Then trek down the scenic waterways  and probably, have a canoe ride at Delaware River.  Admire the architectural Americana of houses and inns that will transport your imagination to Jefferson’s storied past, settled in by mostly Eastern Europeans.  Saunter and buy something for yourself in several of the eclectic mix of antique shops, themed restaurants and one mini-grocery in what the community calls “Downtown.”

Overall, this is a sleepy town, no doubt. This is where you cocoon yourself to take that hobby of potterymaking, photography, or probably, in my case, blog writing to further level. This is where you consume sleep and rest without distraction from any of the urban excesses such as traffic, pollution, noise and even excessive workload.

But it is not everyday snoozetown at Jeff (nickname for the place).  Every so often, the relaxed routine at Jeffersonville is punctuated by activities that should excite its dwellers, and should invite tourists and guests to partake in.

During the summer month of August, at nearby Bethel Woods Center of the Arts, there is a number of rock and pop bands dishing out their musical wares to celebrate the Woodstock phenomenon in year 1969.  Today, people flock to this museum cum open air auditorium  overlooking the original farmland where the now iconic, three day rock festival happened, and enjoy the spirit of the legendary musicians and bands that participated before – Joan Baez, Santana, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Grateful Dead, Blood, Sweat and Tears, and a lot more.

And during one weekend in October, frenzied photographers take pictures and create photoessays about the lives of people inside Jeffersonville.  Eddie Adams, a native of this place and Pulitzer Prize winner for an iconic Vietnam news photograph, created a seminar of sorts for those interested in documenting life in still pictures some years ago. A hundred students still attend this important annual lecture-workshop series that is graced by professionals from National Geographic, New York Times, Sports Illustrated in furthering their eye for photojournalism.

Surely there is no Filipino community in this area, unlike perhaps Manhattan or even Queens. But in the very heart of Jeffersonville, there is a motley crew of Filipinos working and caring for many of its ageing and psychologically challenged residents.  The owners and workers of Jeffersonville Senior Living have accommodated their guests with the unique Filipino way of giving utmost kindness and servitude. Jeffersonville may be remote and out of the way, but to its denizens and the Filipinos staying for the meantime, just like the Burt Bacharach song suggests, it is  “Lost Horizon.”

Lost Horizon

Have you ever dreamed of a place Far away from it all
Where the air you breathe is soft and clean And children play in fields of green
And the sound of guns Doesn’t pound in your ears  (anymore)
Have you ever dreamed of a place
Far away from it all
Where the winter winds will never blow
And living things have room to grow And the sound of guns Doesn’t pound in your ears anymore.
Many miles from yesterday before you reach tomorrow
Where the time is always just today
There’s a lost horizon, waiting to be found.
There’s a lost   horizon Where the sound of guns
Doesn’t pound in your ears anymore.

(lg2a) medium

Posted in architecture, artifacts, culture, events, interior design, letsgopinas goes to america, lifestyle, locales, people, religion, tradition, travel with tags , , , , on April 24, 2011 by mijodo

Happy Easter

(No article has been produced since these two words that I have written, many months ago, to acclaim the Lord’s resurrection from death and entry to heaven. I promised myself not to write until I come back home to get back my life.)

November 2, 2011

Some months ago, as my relatives and I trekked back to the iconic travel-must, Disney World in Orlando, Florida, we passed by this beautifully erected Catholic church in Hanceville, Alabama, in the farmlands of Cullman. This monastic church of  The Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament was built by the adorably telegenic Mother Angelica, founder of EWTN (Eternal World Television Network).

After being instructed by the Lord to “build a temple” in 1995, Mother Angelica was able to finish the construction in 1999.  The church’s medieval appearance seems to be substantial in architecture, particularly with the fortress like form  of the Castle of San Miguel (a gift shop) fronting the church. Inside, the cavernous church, one will be able to draw the sense of awe and aspiration to be with God and the Creator. The interiors are rightly so grand and opulent (despite being run by the Poor Clare Nuns of the Perpetual Adoration, the congregation joined in by Mother Angelica) with marble floors, vaulted ceilings, and the gold leafed tabernacle. It is said that masses there are observed with a highly inspiring choir, orchestrated by the cloistered nuns themselves, behind the heavy altar grills.

As a sidenote, if you get to be in one of the masses, try to look for this youngish couple with all twelve kids in tow, all in their sunday formals (guys in dark jackets, and girls in laced short veils), and all sitting from youngest to eldest. The Pro-life advocates of the Church will be too happy to know this.

Testament. The church building and the media network themselves are testament to Mother Angelica’s own calling to serve God and his purpose. In the Philippines, a bastion of the Catholic Church, there have been many who have effectively used not only the pulpit, but the far-reaching, television and radio mass media to instill the values propagated by Vatican to access a bigger Filipino audience.

In the 80’s, the Dominican Father Sonny Ramirez  was the most popular priest with an affable demeanor, away from the cliched stringently inflexible personalities of priests in robes then.  Father Ramirez’s use of street language and fresh insights were utilized very well in  his own television show, Sharing in the City.

The Philippine Catholic Church has its own AM station, Radyo Veritas, DZRV which has its own league of priests, like Father Larry Faraon, and Monsignor Teddy Bacani that have disseminated the Word of God inside the Filipino homes and even outside the Philippines, mostly Asian countries (anchored by their respective Asian priests).

Through the years, there have been other religious personalities that have made waves and gained eminence in  media with their endeavors.  Music composers like Father Eduardo Hontiveros and Father Manoling Francisco, both Jesuits, have produced songs that have heavily penetrated the Filipino consciousness such as Papuri sa Diyos and Hindi Kita Malilimutan, respectively. Another Jesuit, Father James B. Reuter, although American, has been a strong ally of Philippine Theater, particularly in the 50s and the 60s, showing off Filipino thespic talents.  Too bad, his theater success , unlike songs and movies, is difficult to record and remember for today’s audience.

Lived Life. Many of the names that have been mentioned are quite lucky to find out their true calling in life – this time in preaching the name of the Lord, using the vast formats of media.  Such persuasions are gathered from the fired up passions of their hearts and the gentle murmurs that excite their minds. It is just a matter of action, and true perseverance before they get to realize all their lofty dreams, all their big aspirations.  But everything starts from saying “yes” to such calling – whether it is in the realm of religion, politics, business or other beliefs that are provoked by the spirit of a higher entity.

I come back to the Philippines, to my home country, fully knowing that this is where all my efforts should be realized. I just respond to my innermost desires and convictions, just like all those who were lucky to have known what they have been called for in life.  Abroad, my life was just a cruel negation of all my heart’s and mind’s interests. I had to constantly whisper to myself that I just had to come back.

As I arrived in Manila, on the day of the dead, November 1, 2011, my Easter has truly come. Now, I live.

(lg2a) bakya mo, van gogh

Posted in architecture, artifacts, culture, fashion, history, letsgopinas goes to america, lifestyle, locales, nature, people, tradition, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 5, 2011 by mijodo

Somehow this blog has reached Dutch country – Holland, Michigan, that is.

Cousin Barbara, and her husband, Eliot,  invited me to go aboard their recreational vehicle to visit the quaint city of Holland, about 190 miles, West of Detroit, or about 2 hours and 30 minutes of  drive while enjoying the lavish accommodation and some good conversation inside the behemoth vehicle.

Apparently, at that time, we missed out on some pretty tulip blossoms which usually make their abundant presence felt during the month of May. But I knew aside from the tulips, there would be other attractions that could be seen in this settlement, founded by the Dutch settlers that arrived mid 19th Century to establish their own religious sect, outside Holland – the country, that is.

And most definitely, there is a wealth of Dutch knowledge to be had at Neli’s Dutch Village Theme Park. Costumes, dances, music, and food which includes their famous cheese are all featured by young kids that come from generations of Dutch people who braved settling to this area.  The theme park and other Holland City landmarks celebrate the famous people from Holland where arts and crafts are salient part of its culture.

Famous Flemish painters like Rembrandt and Vermeer have their works featured at Holland’s museum while there is a depiction of Vincent Van Gogh, painting his famous “Sunflowers” series inside Neli’s theme park.

Aside from the windmills that create power and  the charming blue and white ceramics, it is their use of a pair of klompen that can generate some smiles and heartening guffaws from us outside of Holland.

Klompen are those danish wooden clogs, used during the olden times for farming and everyday use, specially for wet and damp grounds. It may feel hard on  the feet, but the wearer has put on thick socks for convenience. Today, klompen is just a reminder of Danish culture and tradition (even for folkloric dancing), and has become a favorite tourist souvenir kitsch, particularly the miniaturized ones.

In the Philippines, we have something quite similar – the bakya. These are wooden strapless sandals that were for everyday use, by women in their kimonas or other Filipino traditional dresses, particularly in the 1950s. Unlike in using the klompen, the Filipino women didn’t need to use socks or stockings when putting on the bakya hence it may be inconvenient on the feet. Hence the bakya production dwindled when the more comfortable rubber slippers were introduced.

But then bakya made a comback in the late 1970s up to  the early 1980s when the lowly bakya was adopted by a Filipino brand, Happy Feet. The bakya became a rage for the college crowd that went almost subversive against the elite shoe fashion brands from Europe.

During the 70s and 80s, the women and even the more avantgarde men happily wore bakyas for them to be seen as cool and unpretentious. However bakya, particularly in 1950s was synonymous to the hoi polloi or the masa hence Filipino director Lamberto Avellana angrily coined the phrase “bakya crowd,” particularly for the Filipino audience that appreciated low brow movies which the National Artist never subscribed to when making films. Today, such derogatory phrase has moved on to just one word – “bakya” – that is to describe a mentality that is unhip, unfashionable, unsophisticated and unclassy even outside the realm of movie preference, again, associated with the Filipino masses.

Are Van Gogh and his art bakya? Sosyal!

(lg2a) enclaves of the rich and famous

Posted in architecture, artifacts, culture, events, fashion, history, interior design, letsgopinas goes to america, lifestyle, locales, news, people, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2011 by mijodo

Oh to be famous and rich. Well I can comfortably settle for just being rich – in fact, filthy rich.

Cousin Barbara and I, together with some Los Angeles tourists,  hopped on to this white, open top, vehicle that should bring us to the hills of Hollywoodland and its environs. Again, just like what we had done at the Oscar grounds (https://letsgopinas.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/oh-oscar/), we became gawkers and probably even snoops of such exulted showbiz personalities and their real estate acqusitions.

Again, my cousin and I, make ourselves small, just by listening to such trivial celebrity information amusingly dished out to us by our driver/travel guide as we meandered in the uber exclusive roads within the Beverly Hills and Bel-Air Villages. But our first stop was where the famous Hollywood sign was perched on the top of the hill. Our driver mentioned that  in the 1930s one young aspiring actress who had been frustrated with her unsatisfying career, climbed up on one of the letters of the Hollywood sign, and leapt to her death. The following day, a letter arrived to inform her supposedly of a starring role on a film.

On a more fun note, the tour went through the houses and mansions of Hollywood and American society A-listers and some B celebrities, including Dr. Phil, Bob Barker of Price is Right,  Laurence Fishburne of CSI, Richard Gere, the late red head comedienne, Lucille Ball, and the prepubescent’s idols, the Jonas Brothers.  Each home is palatial, grand, and speaks much of the owner’s taste and requirements. At the outside, Nicolas Cage’s residence is romantic yet dark in tone, with patches of garden moss attached on its brick red facade. Celebrity heiress, Paris Hilton’s family residence has its name – West Haven, emblazoned on the perimeter wall.  Such shows the Hilton family’s self importance.  Even the guide, acerbicly asked us, “Does your house have a name?”

But whose ego is said to be as big as his Beverly Hills estate? According to our scornfully loquacious driver – it is no other than  Tom Cruise.  While tangentially passing by Tom Cruise’s place (we never actually saw his home at the top of hill, blocked by other houses), our driver mentioned that if Tom Cruise’s presence is inside the mansion, a white flag is propped up in his property.  Well during our trip, there is no flag to signal his actual stay in the mansion.

The story may just be one of the legends concocted by these enterprising travel guides to make the trip fun and interesting. Afterall, such big showbiz royalties don’t announce their presence just like that –  for obvious security reasons.  I am even wondering, how is it possible that such enclaves are open for curious tourists and outsiders to see, and possibly furthermore to inspect their actual garbage bins outside their homes (saw several at Richard Gere’s charming home.)

Certainly, homeowners of our own exclusive villages in Makati, Ortigas and Alabang will never allow such oglers in their territories. It is just too risky in terms of security, and too outlandish in terms of privacy. But yes in the Philippines, posh enclaves for the rich and probably infamous have burgeoned for several decades. The old rich , and even the ambassadors to the Philippines, may have settled in ritzy Forbes Park and Dasmarinas Village in Makati. The noveau rich may have opted to dwell in Ayala, Alabang or in the tall glass buidings of Fort Bonifacio.  But of course, there are still members of the family manning the genteel homes of Malate where the wealthy families took residence during the pre-war era.

While it is sure that these great big homes, whether in the Philippines or in Los Angeles, have happy families and individuals occupying them, there are still houses and haunts that have saddening and even paranormal experiences.  Our driver at the roadtrip had a serious tone when we passedby the last residence of Michael Jackson where he had been last taken out to the hospital for drug overdose. He also made mention of Marilyn Monroe’s apparition, visiting a favorite hotel – the Roosevelt Hotel at Hollywood Boulevard.  And just before his death, John Belushi’had gone to one favorite nightclub, the Guitar Center, and even ate his last meal – consisting of lentil soup.

And of course the tour would never be complete without the driver pinpointing where Hugh Grant made his scandalous mistake with a local prostitute – at the alleyways, near the KFC store. Oh, to be rich and horny, this time.

(lg2a) oh, oscar!

Posted in artifacts, culture, events, fashion, history, letsgopinas goes to america, lifestyle, locales, news, people, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2011 by mijodo

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“Forgive them, celebrity worshippers!” one mockingly said to another while they passedby a group of frenzied kibitzers hanging around to gawk on celebrities walking through the Oscar Award at the Kodak Theater last Sunday, February 27, 2011. In the cold Los Angeles afternoon, people still waited and sorrily grasped on wire fences, even if the Los Angeles Police were asking them to get out of the perimiter that divided the stars from the spectators who didn’t have the pass to get into Oscar territory.
——
Well admittedly, I together with my cousin Barbara, was one of those celebrity stalkers, hungry to gaze at some film superstars like Anne Hathaway or Steven Spielberg. But too bad, we never got to see anyone remotely well-known during our brief stake out at the very end of the red carpet where stretch limousines had dropped their celeb passengers, near the Hollywood Wax Museum.  Apparently even our hurried travel to some other parts of Los Angeles as tourists made us still awfully late in having  exceptionally rare, face to face encounters with showbiz A-listers.
———
Yups to some, the experience was lame, particularly that we never had seen even one notable personality.  But this annual affair is being shown to about 2 billion people, world wide, in 200 countries. And for us, just to be at the center of the hoopla was one distinct occurrence, never to be dismissed at all. Furthermore, Pinoys who are incredibly avid Hollywood movie junkies, are big about the Oscars such that the whole event is shown live on television, preempting morning and noontime shows in the Philippines.
——–
 For several years now, the Philippine movie industry has tried to submit films, worthy to be among the five nominees for Best Foreign Language film at the Oscars. In fact, Filipina ace star, Judy Ann Santos, even had an earnest campaign, costing her some precious Dollars, to include her movie, “Ploning,” among the nominees several years ago. Too bad, nothing came out of it.
——-
However, in this year’s edition, a handful of Filipinos have been nominated in their particular categories, including 14 year old Hailee Steinfeld, nominated as Best Supporting Actress for the film, “True Grit.” Apparently, she lost to Melissa Leo of “The Fighter” though.
——
There have been interesting highlights and sidelights though within the Oscars presentation itself that should tickle the Filipino in us.  In 1993, at the 65th Oscars, Lea Salonga had a lavish production number with Brad Kane. They sang “A Whole New World” which was nominated for Best Original Song from the Disney animated movie, “Aladdin.”
——
In 1986, right after the EDSA Revolution, Jane Fonda had flashed a “Laban” sign on live Oscar television presentation just before she rattled off the nominees  for a particular movie category. Obviously, our revolution has gone Hollywood.
——-
Recently, even at the red carpet, big shot actresses sashay their stunning gowns that have been exclusively made for them by Cebu raised, Monique Lluhillier who is now based at Los Angeles. This year Mandy Moore proudly wore a creation of this now esteemed couturier.
——-
That afternoon, instead of getting excited about the personalities and their outfits on the red carpet, we had to make do at ogling at some bargained Oscar statuettes at $9.95 each on some souvenir shops along the boulevard.
——-
Then the following day, we decided to go back to the same site, hoping to get better posterity shots of the giant statue right in front of the Kodak Theater. But heck the efficient organizers had removed such gold icon early morning and the only reminder of the past evening was the installation of “The King’s Speech” as 2010’s Best Picture at one of the mini marquees that give out the theatre goers of all Oscar Best Picture Awardees since 1929 (see picture above).
———
Philippine movies may not have really won at the Oscars, but just like what the other losing nominees would say, “To be part of the Oscars, is like winning itself!”  Hence, just being part of this year’s Oscars presentation makes me and cousin Barbara winners, without necessary making a speech and “thanking the Academy.”

(lg2a) slush

Posted in artifacts, fashion, history, letsgopinas goes to america, lifestyle, locales, nature, people, technology, tradition, travel with tags , , , , , , on February 18, 2011 by mijodo

A log cabin house is blanketed with pristine white snow.  Holiday lights, running along the edge of the roofing, brighten even more the icicle drops that form on the same roofing border. Heavy snow clings on the tree branches that frame the house where you can get a glimpse at one of the windows, of the smoldering cinder at the fireplace. Such scene warms your heart, particularly when you see that amusing snowman, seemingly cajoling you to play around too in the snow covered frontage. What wintery wonder!

The whole scenario may be idyllic Christmas card pretty, particularly for us, Filipinos in tropical Philippines. But the truth of the matter is, snow may only be a good backdrop for photographs.

Some, particularly my family here in freezing Michigan, consider snow as nuisance. During winter, one needs to shovel or snow blow the driveway lest your car gets stuck at the garage. Every homeowner is required to have the front pedestrian walkway clear of snow or else, someone becomes involve in a litigation, just in case a person slips. (I, myself, embarassingly tumbled when I stepped on glassy ice at a parking lot. But how can I sue my parish church!?)

During winter season, the roads are quite icy hence driving has to slow down dramatically.  And you need to be ready with the ice scraper and sometimes the plastic shovel, once the flurry of snow cloaks your car and submerges your tires into 8 inch snow. We are not even talking about winter storms or blizzards that can cause havoc to property and people – with at least 12 inch of snow precipitation.

It may be sartorially sharp for you to buy the snazziest winter gear – including, trenchcoats, beanie caps, sweaters, and scarves, to wear for those holiday parties.  But to don a litany of accoutrements – bodywarmers, long socks, winter boots, gloves, jackets, caps, just to bring out the trash in bitingly cold nights, can be quite annoying and cumbersome.

Of course, you can revel with delight in outdoor winter games and sports –  skating on park rinks, or skiing on mountain slopes. But for those who are athritic, or don’t have enough flab and fat, they may not relish the frigidly cold temperature that the snow brings along. That innocent looking snow can be quite nasty. Thank goodness, eventually such white snow will melt and turn into dirty, murky slush that you just want to get rid of soonest.

By February 2, animals, like groundhogs in Punxsatawney, Pennsylvania, customarily become prognosticators of how long winter season will be. According to such landbeaver prediction, Spring comes in early this year, 2011.