Friday, November 15, 2013

Thank you, New York

For lighting up the Empire State Building with the colors of the Philippine flag to raise awareness for the victims of super typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda.

My motherland and current home united as one. I love you, New York! 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Outpouring of love from all over the world

I grew up studying in international schools as a child and that experience opened my mind to the thought that regardless of race, color, gender, religion or geographic region, we can co-exist in this planet. Yes, we may have issues over trivial things but, despite that, we're also out there for each other. If there's a ray of hope amidst the catastrophe that was brought about by super typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, it's the knowledge that at the end of the day, we break borders and barriers to reach out to our brothers and sisters in dire need.

Aside from getting billions worth of aid from international organizations, private companies, the Queen mother herself, what truly is inspiring is how regular joes and janes come together to do their part, no matter how small it is.

Thank you. The Filipinos will never forget.

In Europe, there's an on-going petition to donate the 12M Euro that was not won at the national lottery to rehabilitating the lives of the victims of Yolanda. Link:

There's a man who stood at the Finnish countryside to solicit funds for the Red Cross. According to him, almost everyone who passed by made a donation.

Aside from the wonderful young ladies who sold lemonades in L.A., Brad Dubs utilized his company, to generate awareness and raise funds for the typhoon victims. Link:

I'm sharing the photo of the two kids selling lemonades again because it just warms my heart.

Middle East
A girl from the Middle East named Lana, asked how much one Riyal is when converted to Pesos. When she found out that a few Riyals can feed a lot of mouths, she decided to donate her pocket money to the 'children crying on television'.

A 6 year old pre-schooler in Japan did not hesitate to donate his childhood savings to the victims of super typhoon Yolanda after seeing how it has affected the people in the Philippines. Accompanied by his mother, he visited the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo to turnover his donation of Y5,000, making him the Embassy's youngest donor.

Shoichi Kondoh handing over his donation to the Philippine Embassy. Photo lifted from

It's always amazing to see the nation unite together for a common cause. There are a lot of fundraising events being organized by individuals, corporations and organizations right now. However, this is my favorite story that I lifted from Facebook user, Mayette Cinco.

Bigas, Sardinas at Trenta Pesos (Rice, Sardines and Thirty Pesos)
The boys and I decided to drop by the grocery after church this afternoon to buy the stuff we would be sending to Tacloban City tomorrow. Nearing our house, we saw five Tawi kids waiting for us at the gate. (Note: These are kids who scavenge for items in trash bins to recycle in exchange for money that they can buy food with for their every day survival.)

With a smile, they greeted us and handed me a small paper bag and said, 'Pakisama nyo po to sa ipapadala nyo bukas sa mga binagyo. Nangalakal kami para sa kanila. Sana po makatulong.' (Translation: Please include these in the items that you will be donating tomorrow. We scavenged the streets for items to recycle for them). I opened the bag and saw a kilo of rice, 2 sardines and three ten peso coins. 'Yung trenta po, pambili nila duon ng tinapay para hindi mayupi sa biyahe.' (Translation: The thirty pesos is for them to buy bread there. We don't want to give them bread that's squished from the long journey from here to Tacloban). I held the precious bag so tight and assured the boys that their donation will surely help kids in Tacloban. I know how hard they worked today just so they can share. It's not easy being chased by dogs & cops and be bullied by all sorts of 'tambays' in the streets (Note: Tambays are people who have nothing better to do than hang out in the streets of Manila.) Not easy to walk the entire day looking for scraps in every street garbage drums. But, they braved the heat of the sun and all other challenges just to come up with what they think would be of help to others. I said to myself, 'Nahihiya ako sa kanila. Hindi ako naaawa, hamahanga ako kasi hindi lahat kayang magbigay ng may kalakip na sakripisyo.' (Translation: I am embarrassed. I don't feel any pity for them. I actually salute them because not everyone sacrifices in order to help others). So often we give from our spare but these kids, gave out of the only things that they've got. Reminds me of the poor widow who gave 2 pennies for the Lord. She game her all for the Master and that made the difference. God bless, beautiful children of the Savior.

Photo of a kid in the Philippines who recycle in exchange for money. This image is just used to support the story above. Not actual image of one of the boys. Lifted from
My faith in humanity has been restored greatly. Notice how the kids of today willingly offered what they have (Majority of them offered ALL that they have!) to help? It gives us so much hope. Our world is in great hands after all.

Still think that you're too small to make a big difference, think again!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Helping those in need goes beyond age, gender or geographic location

There are days when I get homesick. I crave for Filipino food, notably, pancit canton and Mr. Kabab (QC branch). But above all, what I miss most about my country are the people living in it. And I'm not just talking about my family and friends, I mean Filipinos in general. 

For those who have had the pleasure of visiting the Philippines or getting acquainted with a Filipino in their lives, you would agree with me when I say that we're a bunch of warm people. We offer the sincerest smiles, are always ready with a helping hand, and give the best of what we have, even if we don't have plenty.

I recall going to an immersion when I was a sophomore in college. The point of the program is to expose us to real life situations of the less fortunate and open our eyes to the realities of what our nation is facing. It was a 3-day immersion in a fishing and farming village in Batangas. My foster family lived in a small hut along the coast. Their hut is too small to fit a family of 6. They didn't have basic amenities--a toilet or a sink--but when they came to greet me and 3 of my friends at the front of their door, they looked more than happy to accommodate visitors at their humble abode.

They brought out their best fruits and drinks, cooked fishes and squids that they caught earlier that morning knowing that they were expecting company. They even offered me and my friends the only bedroom that had a bed in it. At the end of the 3-day immersion, they even gave each of us a sack full of vegetables to take home to our families in the city. Their village is not passable by vehicles so we had to hike for about an hour to get to there. It was already quite a hike under the scorching sun and adding a load in the form of a sack full of vegetables was a bit painful. We were tempted to not take them with us because above it being added weight, those vegetables actually amount to 1/2 of their day's earnings. However, we knew that it would break our foster family's heart not to take them so, we gratefully did.

It was indeed an eye opener. My realization was that some people are so rich, all they have is money, while there are people out there who have far less, yet, they can smile and live their lives with so much happiness.

This is an illustration of how Filipinos are and I believe that it's a big reason why we're generating so much help and support for those who have been greatly affected by super typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan. For those of you who are unaware, 6 areas in the Philippines have been badly affected by super typhoon, Yolanda/Haiyan, one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded, the strongest the country has seen in two decades. To illustrate its strength, its wind forces were up to three times stronger than Hurricane Katrina.

My foster family is spared from the typhoon but unfortunately, it's not the same for over thousands who lived in the affected areas.

According to CNN, Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan is stronger than Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy combined. Watch the video above.

The typhoon washed away houses and areas near the shore
Photo from PhilStar

Photo from

The aftermath of the super typhoon
Photo from Buzzfeed
I can only do so much from where I am, but at this point, any form of help would be appreciated--donations, money or volunteering. It's actually refreshing to see how people all over the globe have risen to the occasion to help other people, regardless of age, race or geographic borders, like these children in LA:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

My favorite Central Park bench plaques

I've always thought it was genius of the management of Central Park to allow people to adopt a bench. A lot of people do it to immortalize a loved one or profess their undying love for their spouse. Then again, there are also those who do it just because they can--and, it does not come cheap. Adopting a bench costs around US$8,000. That's almost 4 months worth of NY apartment living for the average joe!

Most of the time, people just place the usual dedications such as, 'In loving memory of', or 'I love you' on the plaques but I love the ones that obviously made an effort to make their bench stand out. Here are some of my favorites that I've seen and curated from the internet.

Note: These are not my photos.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sunken Meadow State Park

Knowing how much I love nature and the opportunity to take beautiful photographs, Brian brought me to Sunken Meadow State Park last Saturday morning for a hiking trip. It being my first hiking trip in NY, I got a little too excited. Regular (practical, sane, level-headed) hikers bring trail mix for such trips but me? Nope. I brought salami, crackers and cheese. If I could have it my way, I would have tagged the vino along but with me having two left feet, adding wine to my system could turn into a tragedy. 

The not-so-practical hiker's snack pack

Aside from the above, I also packed, bagels, salad a large water jug and 2 gatorades. Brian was not too thrilled to carry around a backpack full of food but, my rationale was, hey, if we get lost in the middle of the forest without phone service, he would be thankful that he has a gluttonous girlfriend.

Anyway, many are surprised to know that New York is not just a concrete jungle. The state boasts of a natural oasis (aside from Central Park) and such is Sunken Meadow State Park. It is located at the North Shore of Long Island. The drive to get there is gorgeous. Fall is definitely the most stunning season with the leaves turning red, yellow and brown.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Halloween: The trick's on John Lennon and Yoko Ono

I've always been a fan of John Lennon. He is such a talented performer, a visionary and an advocate of peace. My favorite song of all time is 'Imagine' because of the message it brings and, to be married to him at least for one night is a dream come true.

Yes, we've decided to go as the famous multi-culture pair, John Lennon and Yoko Ono for Halloween! That's a shameless selfie of us riding the Long Island Railroad on the way to the city for a party. 

Shameless posers in the train. Kudos to Brian for bearing with my creative implementation of his costume. The beard and hair do not look comfortable at all.

Unfortunately, we did not make it to the party.

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