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(lg2a) boo!

Posted in artifacts, culture, events, food, history, letsgopinas goes to america, locales, people, tradition with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2010 by mijodo

Towards the first day of November, we, Filipinos, busy ourselves in remembering and honoring our dead.  Ordinarily, the feast for the commerating the dead is on November 2, however we seem to start trekking to the cemeteries on the first day of November for some reason.

As November approaches, we ask family members or our handymen to repaint the tombs, niches or family mausoleum of our dead relatives for All Saints Day or Todos los Santos. We spruce up the surroundings, trimming overgrown grass. Then we lit up candles, and buy a pot of flowers as an offering to our dearly departed. Some try to remember their loved ones with quiet prayer and masses, but some opt to have a grand reunion party in the very place where the dead is buried. Obviously, just like in any family gathering, filipino fare, like suman and pansit will be served for everyone who remembers. Some cemeteries will even allow some dance music and a little gambling for the people to while away until the wee hours of the morning.

However, in most parts of America, many prepare for Halloween instead. Americans busy themselves preparing their houses, with scary decorations usually made out of carved pumpkins for jack o’lanterns or some familiar creepy figures to entertain, and perhaps spook out kids, asking for some candy treats from them.

It is said that next to Christmas, halloween is the most anticipated celebration in the calendar.  Parents try to look for some fun costumes  to be worn by their kids during the day. The origin of wearing costumes with masks is done to ward off and confuse the evil spirits roaming around during this season.

It is quite interesting to see how Americans have incorporated the otherworldly into their tradition and customs such that the whole country even celebrates halloween with gusto, and with no religious guilt.  Surely, the Philippines is rich with folklores and mythical creatures like the manananggal (usually a woman who can detach its upper torso from the lower body part), tiyanak (evil toddler), or mangkukulam (witch).  And it is even very popular to scare ourselves about ghosts, hauntings and other deathly concerns during this time through television and movies, and in print. However, our national government is not into celebrating the ghouls and the ghosts of the netherworld, much less putting the event in the timetable of Philippine holidays.

However, there was one time when a certain province in the Visayas Region unabashedly played out its infamous reputation through a festival observance.  Some non-government offices in Capiz, a province in Western Visayas, thought of the Aswang Festival, despite its controversy as aswang is another diabolic folkloric creature that changes in form, from human, usually a woman, to an animal, usually a dog that pounces and eats the fetus of a pregnant woman.

But for some unknown reason, the Capizenos have been unfairly and preposterously identified as aswangs through generations. Probably many of them are offended by the connection, but some have played along with some chagrin.  Some creative Capizenos just tried to utilize the labelling as another way of promoting the province in terms of tourism.

By October 31, 1994, a day before the yearly Todo los Santos, the Aswang Festival was celebrated through parades and  costumes that depict the evil mythic creatures of the Philippines, just like the Halloween festivities in America. However, local government and the Catholic heirarchy intervened, and condemned such celebration as it relates to the evil spirits, and may just make the stigma of the aswangs in the area even more pronounce. It seemed that the festival died out eventually years after.

As they say, to each his own.  Whether we celebrate Halloween or All Souls’ Day/All Saints’ Day or both, may the good spirit be with us always.

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(lg2a) this is not panama city, panama

Posted in architecture, artifacts, culture, events, food, health, history, interior design, letsgopinas goes to america, lifestyle, locales, nature, people, sports, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2010 by mijodo

 

An aunt from Canada was to attend a family member’s wake and burial in Panama City, Florida. However instead of going directly to one of the gulf cities of Florida, she found herself in another part of North America –  at Panama City, Panama.

Probably this story has been retold amongst family members countless times, just to regale ourselves and have some hearty guffaws at such an oddball experience.  But it did happen, and can happen even in the Philippines. If you want to go to San Fernando, make sure which Luzon capital city you are stopping by – the one in Pampanga for some culinary experience or La Union for some surfing action in nearby town, San Juan.

When you think about “Cagayan,” you do ask yourself, “Is this the capital, Cagayan de Oro City of Misamis Oriental of Northern Mindanao or is this Cagayan Province of Northern Luzon?” Cagayan de Oro City boasts of whitewater rafting activities and a busy seaport while Cagayan Province has cave exploration and spelunking for tourists. But “Cagayan Province” should not be confused with “Cagayan Valley” or the whole Region 2 area,  which is composed of the provinces of Batanes, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, and Cagayan Province.

Another name, “Davao,” set in the Mindanao turf, sets chaos probably among the minds of Filipino students studying for a geography quiz. Davao City which is the business and tourism hub of Mindanao is independent of any province, including Davao del Norte and Davao del Sur. Davao del Norte’s capital is Tagum City while Davao del Sur’s is Digos. Interestingly, and even probably more confusingly, Davao del Norte’s official and newest name is Davao Province.
But heck, after some stressful geography lessons in the Philippines, I guess it is time for some destressing which you can get plenty of in Panama City Beach Florida which is distinct from Panama City, Panama.
(For some personal pics on my travel to America, please click on this: https://letsgopinas.wordpress.com/letsgopinas-goes-2-america/)
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Panama City may not be a top of mind destination in Florida. Miami and Orlando should be prime city targets among travellers in the socalled Sunshine State. However Panama City, together with adjacent environ, Panama City Beach has so much to offer for the sunworshippers – torquoise waters, powdery white shores, and magnificent sunsets. Americans from the Southern states usually enjoy the beaches and the countless high rise accommodations that line the area. Families during the summers and students the socalled springbreak troop to the 27 miles of stunning beachfront sceneries of Panama City Beach.
And between Panama City, Florida, and the country, Panama is the Carribean Gulf. This piece of info should settle the confusion once and for all.
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As we try to hairsplit these geographical names, how about finding out where the phonetically troublesome and originally named town of “Sexmoan” is.
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How about “Sasmuan, Pampanga.”

(lg2a) a world upside down

Posted in culture, events, letsgopinas goes to america, lifestyle, locales, nature, people, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 6, 2010 by mijodo

You think everything seems to be running smoothly. You feel that everything seems to be right with your life, just swimming along contently, comfortably in a world that offers much for your existence. Then a letter comes.

The letter asks you to radically alter your life; in fact the letter pushes you to move out of your shell and explore another world – America.

Hastily, you set on a journey to find out what USA is all about.  Then you get to realize that this part of the world is not “Sex in the City” sexy nor “Beverly Hills 90210” bitchy. Much of USA is all about strong work ethic and generosity of spirit – whether it is in the farmlands, industrial towns or the suburbs. There is apparent indication about the dire economic situation in almost every other town or city that I have been to, but it is the Americans’ friendliness and openess that warm the heart of this immigrant.

In the few days I have been here, this newbie has been welcomed and embraced by the relatives and friends who have worked long for years in their adoptive land either as medical professionals or bluecollar workers. I am still weighing the many options regarding my supposed stay here in this country. I am not quite sure how things will work out here in America, but I am assured by their love and concern about my unsureness, my unsteadiness. And I am overwhelmed and humbled with such gestures.

As my world has turned upside down, and some of my initial thoughts on America have completely been disregarded and erased, still the Philippines that I have cared much through this site has never been more pronounced and more vivid than ever.

In this regard, there will be postings on places and my musings on America that will intersperse intermittently with articles solely on the Philippines and Filipinos in this blog. Such thoughts on America will hopefully be relatable to what Philippines and Filipinos is all about, and should even enhance more my love for anything Filipino.  Such articles and postings will be categorized as “Letsgopinas Goes to America (LG2A).”

As early as now, let me also say that I miss my life, friends and family in the Philippines (I miss my work and bidet too). And I thank everyone who has been supportive and cared about me in my nativeland. From the land of supposed plenty – let me say to them “Ingat lagi at salamat.”