Archive for michigan

(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!

Advertisements

(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.

(lg2a) next generation

Posted in artifacts, letsgopinas goes to america, lifestyle, locales, news, people, technology, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 17, 2011 by mijodo

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

"OH LORD"

Absolutely, the average Filipino when asked which possessions he needs to have in his entire lifetime would provide two answers:  his own house, and his own car.   Of course such wishes, particularly for a car, will be tempered by the income that he gets, and the other needs to be spent on for his family.  Hence, some of them will not even think of the most audacious and most incredulous automobiles to purchase, and might settle for any brand new, economy car.  Heck, probably, he even would get by with just repossessed secondhands.  But still the Filipino appreciates and gets excited about the newest and poshest cars, to come out from the delearships. If only the average Filipino can come to Michigan, be in awe of the  jawdropping, unbelievable, next generation of automobiles, while he attends the Mother of all Carshows – the North American International Autoshow at the Cobo Hall, at Downtown, Detroit.

The whole Cobo Center which used to be the arena for the Detroit Pistons has been a veritable red carpet to the assembly of stars, made up, of course by cars, trucks and vans. From Asia – Toyota, Honda, Kia, Mazda, Hyundai. From Europe – Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz, Mini Cooper, Audi, Volvo. From the US – Ford, Chevrolet, Chrysler, General Motors. From up and coming companies like Tesla and GEM to real deal manufacturers like Porsche and Ferrari. It is every Filipino boy’s fantasy. It is every Filipina’s dream gift from her future mate.
Every square inch of the hall is a chance to ogle and peek in the future of automobiles. To many of the Filipinos who have no access to the leaps on comfort and styling in the new editions of vehicles, changes within the interiors of automobile are exciting to watch.  There are monitors that give the drivers accurate satellite information regarding position anywhere in the United States. This helps the drivers meander their way to their destination through the interstate expressways and neighborhood streets.  There is no excuse of getting lost here in the US. (But in the Philippines, our own tricycle drivers that ply within villages and barangays will guide lost drivers, to where the exact place is. That’s our own tracking device!)
Backseat passengers will not just settle with movie videos or television right behind the front seats. They will be able to fiddle their computers and ipads as they connect to plugs that energize such gizmos.  Some passenger cars even offer tables so that users will be able to employ such consoles.
However aside from the use of mapping device and the internet, there is one sure thing about many of these cars that showed up at the autoshow.  Manufacturers have tried to be more efficient with the utilization of  petroleum. Others have increased mileage with the use of gasoline and diesel or have used other sources of energy such as electricity.  It is the way of the future.  Electric car charging stations will be as common as gasoline stations.  Such change will significantly lower pollution, and decrease dependency on petroleum which has become less affordable  through the years. 
Electric cars and Hybrid cars have rolled out from Tesla with its Roadster. Other industry leaders have also produced such viable vehicles for the future like the Nissan Leaf, Toyota Prius, and Volkwagen Golf E-Motion. Luxury brand Mercedes Benz has joined the bandwagon with its own E-Cell.
The change is a function of need more than want – increasing transportation demand and depleting fossil fuel or crude oil resource.  In this car exhibit, kudos to them, the few and elite car engineers and designers are paving the way for such transition to the next generation of cars for everyone – including the average Filipino.

(lg2a) way to go

Posted in artifacts, culture, events, food, history, letsgopinas goes to america, lifestyle, locales, people, technology, tradition, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2010 by mijodo

 

It all started with a passion for photography, and some skill in writing.  Then I started to create a blog that should document all my travels , and probably show off a portfolio of pictures and articles which have been published not only in the world wide web but also in some of the more prestigious inflight and travel magazines that have literally crossed not only the shores within the Philippines, but across the whole globe.
—–
For many of the travel articles on this blog, Lets Go Pinas, the writing and photography are brought about not only by my interest and skills, but because of the circumstances that have brought me to many sections of the Philippines, and lately, to the vast areas of North America.
—–
Several weeks ago, I was invited by my cousin Barbara, and her husband, Eliot, to check on an idyllic community, west of Detroit, Michigan, using their Recreational Vehicle or RV. Basically an RV is a motorhome which can bring all the residential trappings as you go from one place to another inside a vehicle as large as a bus.  Our RV can accommodate probably about 4 people to sleep on its beds, even while the the RV is moving.  In  our vehicle, there is a full functioning kitchen and a restroom that can even supply heated water for showers.  Of course, there are amenities like the television, a comfortable couch, and table and chairs for dining. To travel the roads using such behemoth is truly a luxurious experience.
——
Just recently, another posh mode of transportation that gives that high and exhilirating feel would be gondola lifts that are propelled by cable lines usually on steep areas such as atop the mountains. This kind of vehicle provides the riders stunning scenic vistas of verdant mountains during summers or ice-capped mountain areas during winter times.
—–
However obviously, it is not always that I get to ride such deluxe transportation.  Many times, while travelling alone to create articles and photos for magazine publication, I get to employ lowly vehicles, such as tricycles which I usually get to rent for the whole day, at very minimal cost, to take me into the hinterlands. For me, these trikes -not the jeepneys – are the real kings of the road in the provinces since there are more of them that take you directly to the exact places, even if they are quite remote.
 ——
But for sheer excitement, the habal-habal of many island provinces in the Philippines takes the cake.  Again for some small fare, one can lease on such services of a motorcycle, and hop on at the back of the driver, and explore outlying destinations whether in the beaches or in the hills and mountains.  It may be a little dangerous as there is no gear provided just in case accidents occur. However definitely, using such motor bikes while my face is against the wind is already an adventure in itself.
——–
Many times, the proverbial line – the journey may be even more interesting than the destination itself – is quite true. I personally have collected some anecdotes and stories that have wiggled out during such trips.  One time, in Ilocos Norte, I had to ask my trike driver where La Paz Ilocos Dunes was.  But the driver seemed not to know where it was, or if there even was one around Laoag. So I had to describe it through another way – where Action King FPJ had done his epic movie classics: Ang Panday (series).  In a jiffy, he was able to bring me where I had wanted.
———–
By just constantly hiring tricycles throughout my trip to Ilocos, I was able to gather some quaint observation about the differences in tricycle sizes from one province to another,  The ones in Ilocos Sur are a lot roomier whereas the ones in Ilocos Norte may only fit one person inside their cabs, and one may even have some difficulty in getting out from the space as their trikes are short and squatlike. 
————
I have met some interesting and even familiar faces just by waiting out at the airports or bus terminals, boarding on boats and ships, talking with cab drivers and fellow bus passengers, and hanging on to dangerous habal- habal and speeding jeepneys for dear life.
————
However, it is most meaningful to share transport space with family and friends – from my great parents, Lita and Glicerio, constant, travel partner, Ate Mae in the Philippines to the people here in the United States and Canada, such as my sisters, Jane and Christie, brothers in law, Edgar and Rashid, beautiful niece, Ernestine, Uncle Isdoc and Auntie Lelita, Uncle Nary and Auntie Gaying, and cousins Al and Gisela,  Baby Liz, and of course RV owners, Barbara and her husband Eliot.  Thank you very much. Till our next trip together, guys. Happy New Year, and way to go, for Year 2011!
 

(lg2a) bluest and merriest

Posted in artifacts, culture, events, food, history, letsgopinas goes to america, lifestyle, locales, news, people, religion, tradition with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 6, 2010 by mijodo

The holiday season should cheer one up. But there’s no denying, it does not happen all the time. In fact, it is during Christmas time that depression becomes even more pervasive. The sad person becomes sadder; the lonely becomes lonelier. That’s the paradox brought about by the supposed merry season.

The blues becomes more apparent for Filipinos who are outside the country.  They may be eking out a living somewhere probably in the heat of the deserts of Saudi Arabia that does not allow Christmas celebrations. Or they may just be retired and watching television alone while the frigid winters of temperate countries blow in. One can probably try to make do with what they have in order to have a semblance of the Christmases in faraway Philippines – where the season is celebrated with much anticipation and much conviction.

It is said that the Philippines has the longest Yuletide season, but in Frankenmouth, Michigan, there’s Bronner’s, a store that sells all the tinsels, ornaments, and trimmings that conjure the merriest season – all year round.  By January, right after the holiday season, you can buy such decors with significant discounts. Or if you want to plan for the forthcoming Christmas, you may visit even in hot  July and see the latest trends in decorations and gizmos that should brighten up the event by December.
——-
But you know and I know that nothing beats the spirit of the Christmas in the Philippines. The  morning novena masses or simbang gabi.  The crave-inducing aroma of bibingka and puto-bumbong.  The whimsy of  lights from the parol and the eloquence of the nativity scenes that deck the homes.  Kid carollers asking for money and yet insulting you just the same – “ang babarat ninyo.”  Silly games in office Christmas parties that end up with finding your Monito or Monita.  The unending shopping list for acquaintances, friends and family despite the small budget. And the exuberant embraces  and warm meals with loved ones during Noche Buena at Christmas and Media Noche at the end of the year.
———
We outside the Philippines will just be glad and thankful of the joyful memories back home.  Such remembrances will lullaby us as we sleep throughout the holidays, just hoping that the blues will just move away.  Let us just comfort ourselves with such hopeful song – “I’ll be home for Christmas.” Till next year.
———
Happy Christmas Dad and Mom, brother Mokoy, and my cousin, Ate Mae, Little, Nang Nida, Nang Bina, and to the drivers and workers, and friends and family back home!

brava

Posted in culture, lifestyle, people with tags , , , , , , on August 7, 2008 by mijodo

It all started with a young 7 year old Fil-American girl from Michigan (USA) watching a cartoon character who was a smart girl and played the violin well. Then the young kid bravely requested her mom to take her to a music store to purchase the same string instrument, and asked for lessons right away. Since then she has put the violin into good use. From middleschool (John Marshall) to highschool (John Glenn), she has been an active member of her schools’ orchestra group and symphonic band. In fact in middleschool, she was awarded the National School Orchestra Award.

Obviously, her mentors have observed her adept technical skills despite her young age (now 15). She is into performing the works of Rimski-Korsakoff, Paganini and Vivaldi and would practice for almost three hours everyday.  For her, it is most important to carry out the music pieces the way the composer thought them to be – expression wise and style wise.

And last May, 2008, she was handpicked to do the outrageously difficult solo part of the 1970’s country composition, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” together with the school’s symphonic band in a public performance. She was required to do the material “con fuoco” or “with fire.” And she did. Everyone went abuzz after her astonishing performance.  With that I say to my one and only niece, “Brava, Ernestine.”