Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Feeling Minnesota

It’s late April and still snow continues to fall in Minnesota not surprising for the state at this time of year where the weather forecast says the region will be blanketed in thick snow anytime soon.

We arrived in Minneapolis- St. Paul Airport late last night on our way to San Diego and what greeted us was the nipping wind blowing right into our faces, numbing us in the process. Our Northwest Airlines Flight 755 out of Detroit was delayed by the plane’s spoiler malfunctioning and had to endure a 4 hour flight delay, transferred to another aircraft and missed the connecting flight that will take us to California.

Northwest gave the passengers $100 service recovery vouchers to appease us for the delay and inconvenience. They also booked us in some hotels in downtown Minneapolis to spend the night and catch the first flight to San Diego the next day.

On our way to downtown Minneapolis, we caught a glimpse of a city that is quiet and fast asleep, which was expected though for it was already past 1 am when we finally boarded our shuttle from the airport. The city was deserted with only a few brave souls darting in and out of the sidewalks in the freezing cold as well as a few cars plying its wet narrow streets.

We settled in a quiet Country Inn miles away from the airport. We inquired at the desk if the bar and restaurant is still open since we were all starving but was told by the clerk that it was already done for the night. So, I gave the clerk my meal voucher and grab whatever food that my two trembling hands (probably due to hypoglycemia) can grab in the small convenience store in front of the registration area.

To make the long story short, I threw all my diet plans and regimen to the wind and ended up gorging on junk foods and sodas one after the other while surfing the net until the wee hours of the morning. I never thought that Maruchan cup noodles could taste so good and the ice- cold cola beverage rejuvenating!

Afterwards, I took a quick dip at the heated pool to relieve some of the stress from my tired and aching body. I went to bed 30 minutes later since I have to wake up for the 7:30 shuttle pick up and slept like a log for about an hour or two.

When we left for the airport, I couldn’t help but smile at the sleepy shuttle driver as he zigzagged his way at the slush- covered roads of the Twin Cities with one hand on the wheel and holding a cup of steaming McCafe Espresso on the other while evading the early morning traffic rush.

Thank God, we all got to the airport in one piece with plenty of time to spare and I cannot forget the sleepy head’s expression as his droopy little eyes went wide and flashed with delight when I handed him a crisp $20 tip for the rollercoaster ride--Priceless!

Ah, the pains and joys of traveling and what have you...

One can only sigh and take it on the chin and charged everything to experience.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Power of Dreams

ASIMO that versatile Honda robot that you often see in Honda Commercials will be in Detroit come May 13, 2008 to be the guest conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in the opening act that features world- renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

The 4- foot tall robot which stands for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility (ASIMO) which was first developed by the Japanese automaker in 2000 with the objective of helping humans particularly the elderly doing their daily chores in the future can speak both English and Japanese. In addition, this latest generation robot can now recognize faces, climb up and down stairs, keep up when walking with human companions and serve tea among its many skills and capabilities.

ASIMO will be at the podium for a one song performance, the special rendition of “The Impossible Dream” before relinquishing the baton to the DSO’s resident maestro Thomas Wilkins for the rest of the show. It will be ASIMO’s second high- profile appearance in the United States after the high- tech robot rang the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange on Valentine’s Day in 2007.

I hope I could still get some tickets for I really want to see this momentous event not to mention watch Yo-Yo Ma perform in the flesh. I missed his performance in Ann Arbor last year and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I will make it this time.

You see, I have always been a fan of classical music which my Mom exposed me at a very young age, never mind that I preferred Johann Strauss during those days together with Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Bach. Nowadays, I usually listen to Debussy, Liszt, Schubert, Wagner and especially Rachmaninoff when I want to relax.

That’s why when I went to New York City last year and saw that the violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman will be having his students’ recital at Carnegie Hall, I grabbed the chance to watch him perform and I really enjoyed the show.

You can only admire his inborn talent and dedication to his craft as well as his courage in overcoming Polio, in fact he labored walking in crutches towards the center of the stage but once he starts playing the first notes from his violin, his music will take you anywhere.

When I was in the Philippines, I remember going to a lot of free events in Puerta Real, Goethe Institute and of course, the Sunday Concert at the Park in Luneta to watch and listen to the Manila Symphony Orchestra with Oscar Yatco, Coke Bolipata, John Lesaca and the like. That’s free entertainment for you in a city as chaotic as Manila.

Of course, I also have my regular complimentary tickets from a dear old friend of mine to the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ events where the likes of Raul Sunico, Andion Fernandez and Cecile Licad holds court in those days as well as some of Repertory Philippines’ shows when they still call the Insular Life Theater in Makati home.

The world- famous Detroit Symphony Orchestra never fails me when I want to have my fill of classical music both on radio and live concert. The DSO founded in 1914 is one of the pioneers in the United States when it comes to performance and innovations. In fact, they performed the world’s first radio broadcast of symphonic concert in 1922 as well as its recording of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring was the first CD to win the prestigious Grand Prix du Disque of the Charles Cros Academy (the French equivalent of the US Recording Academy).

I last saw them during the 4th of July concert dubbed “Salute to America” at the Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village where they had 13- year old Kendall Pennington as guest vocalist. They also performed Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture among others highlighted with the museum’s real live cannons firing in the background.

Here's the DSO with Kendall Pennington as guest vocalist-

MitSusurrations for more of The Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Kendall Pennington.

Monday, April 21, 2008


We Filipinos are unique in so many ways. Take for instance our sense of humor that always puzzles non- Pinoys. They shiver in complete horror whenever they hear or experience one of our patented not so politically- correct sense of humor.

Who can forget the late Secretary Raul Manglapus when he quipped, “relax and enjoy it” when asked about what the Filipinas working in the Middle East should do if they found themselves being raped by their Arab masters?

Most Filipinos are exposed to all kinds of sick jokes from the day he/ she was born until he/ she literally finds himself six feet under the ground. In fact, everything is fair game to us and our jokes can be considered as the wickedest of them all.

This is again highlighted by the recent controversy involving the conduct of medical workers at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center wherein a patient was operated upon by a team of government doctors and nurses because a body spray canister was lodged in his rectal vault courtesy of a guy he picked up the night before for casual sex that obviously didn’t turn out well for him.

The said incident happened in January 2008 but one of the persons involved recently uploaded the video on YouTube and thus revealed the circus- like scenario inside the OR and once again showed the world how wicked or sick Pinoy jokes can be--

In the video, after the doctor finally extracted the body spray canister from the patient’s rectum, he shouted “Baby, OUT! “ (pronounced in a thick Visayan accent) in obvious parody to a person giving birth amid the cheers and jeers by the OR spectators.

But the joke did not end there for the doctor uncapped the canister and started spraying around the OR amid howls of laughter. The man with the video camera, not to be outdone, in turn asked the one holding the canister to show him the brand of the body spray so he can also take a video of it.

Because of their behavior in the OR, the medical personnel involved are now facing charges that will merit the suspension or revocation of their license. In my opinion, I don’t really think that they’re actually laughing at the patient; I think it is more on the absurdity of the situation.

But I tell you, that unfortunate incident in the OR in Cebu is not the first nor will it be the last since it is inherent in our culture to crack jokes at the most awkward times. Still, they should have been more sensitive and exercised proper decorum in that situation more suited for their position.

Anyway, when I was in first year college, an accident occurred in our town in Albay wherein two cars driven by drunken persons went at it and race each other on the deserted National Highway in nighttime. I remember seeing the two cars speeding towards the direction of the nearby town of Malinao.

About 10 minutes or so later we saw the town’s Police Patrol Car speeding towards the same direction as my friends and I decided to follow them on our BMX bikes.

We arrived at the scene where a lot of uziseros are now trickling in. The place was very dark and we can only saw a glimpse of the two cars in the middle of the rice fields and miraculously the drivers and passengers survived unscathed.

Bur there was one casualty, an old man who was answering the call of nature behind the small concrete bridge, the same bridge where the two cars hit before they flew into the rice fields. You can only wonder how unlucky he was since that place was so deserted and they did not even see him since he was way down the banks when he was struck by one of the flying cars.

To this day, my memory of that tragic night is still very vivid but the thing that stuck to my mind is when one of the uziseros blurted out in the local dialect,

“Di#@%4, delikadohon na ang panahon ngonian, para ma-odo ka sa gilid kan sapa, maligis ka pa tapos magadan!!” which is loosely translated to “F#$&, times are really dangerous nowadays, imagine you’re only trying to poop in the nearby creek and the next thing you know you’re run over by a car and end up dead. “

You can only imagine the booming laughter that followed from both the policemen and uziseros alike. But to set the record straight, it was a spur of the moment joke and really not meant to disrespect a dead man.

Again, it just shows you the Filipinos knack of cracking jokes even at the most awkward moments and difficult times.

Here’s another story--

A high school classmate of mine died in an ambush by the New People’s Army. No, he is not a member of the military or the police. He was just an ordinary citizen who has relatives that live in a far- flung barrio where transportation is scarce.

One day, the police force in our town were task to arrest a murder suspect in that remote barrio and since my classmate work as a utility man in the municipal government, he got wind of the plan and decided to hitch a ride with the police in their van so he can visit his relatives whom he had not seen in a long, long time.

But when he got to the police station, he found out that he missed the police van just by a few seconds. Knowing the layout of the town, he immediately dashed in full throttle so he can catch the van in one of the town’s intersection. He finally did it near the jeepney terminal where a lot of people saw him accomplish the feat.

Unfortunately, the van was ambushed by the NPAs on their way back and he ended up as one of the fatalities. The story did not end there though, for he was now immortalized in the town’s lore (read: drinking sessions) as the person who chased the Grim Reaper or in the vernacular “Hinabol si Kamatayan!”

I have a lot of other unique Pinoy stories and jokes that are even more outrageous than the two stories that I have just told you. The point is, most often than not, a majority of these jokes are really not meant to disrespect a particular person or cast aspersion to anybody but just an expression of that unique Pinoy spirit rarely seen with other races.

Anyway, in an ideal world, jokes are supposed to be funny but not at the expense of others but in our culture it is not always the case. What I usually do if I find myself in the center of it is I just take it on the chin and roll with the punches and sneak a right hook in return.

How about you?

Read my take on
The Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center Scandal

Friday, April 18, 2008

Lea Salonga Cinderella Press Con

A very candid Q & A portion plus a cameo of her daughter Nicole. :)

video credits: vaguirre

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Hope Spring's Eternal

Hmmm, after months of blog inactivity which could be blamed partly to the cold, cold Michigan winter, I’m now trying to find my way back into Blogspot again and resume my writing chores at least on this particular blog since I’ve been writing and updating my other sites regularly.

I’m no Rip van Winkle but I surely did sleep the winter away and finally woke up to the colors and aromas of Spring which is quite a big relief to my frost-weary body.

I can now hear Vivaldi’s strings in the air as the tulips and hyacinths and such are slowly emerging from the once snowy ground.

Don’t get me wrong but I love Winter for I like walking deep into the woods covered with snow where I could commune with nature; feel the cold breeze on my hair, the gentle touch of the snowflakes on my face and listen to the howling of the winds as well as the occasional chirpings of some wayward robins and cardinals in the air.

It’s an uplifting experience, I tell you just walking in silence along a narrow trail amidst the vast white empty space wherein sometimes the only sound that you can hear is your own footfalls as it crushes the soft ice beneath it.

But Winter on this side of the world has gone on for too long as deep freeze seems to be the flavor of the season. Michigan, as Michiganders would say, is notorious for its unpredictable weather and this year it is kinda different from what I‘m used to. It was never like this during the 4 years that I've been here. Days are so short and nights are soooo long. And they’re much colder and chiller, too what with the mercury hovering between single digits and below zero (and in Fahrenheit at that), you‘re left with no other option but to stay indoors most of the time although I do venture outside from time to time especially during snow storms to take some pictures of the wonders that come with it.

Anyway, Spring is surely a welcome respite and I am now in the process of embarking on a very strict regimen that will put Manny Pacquiao’s Spartan training routine to shame in order to lose those unwanted bulges in the middle that dear old winter, sinful foods and my sedentary lifestyle had given me.

So, my game face is on and I am now ready to take on all comers, if only I can overcome the inner sloth in me.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Basta Driver, Sweet Lover?

"Our wisdom comes from our experience, and our experience comes from our foolishness."

- Sacha Guitry (1885 - 1957)

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