Archive for September, 2010

Filipino Food

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Gerry's Grill

About five months ago, we had Gerry’s Grill back in the Philippines. Tonight, we decided to try the one here in Los Angeles — Cerritos, to be exact. We ordered the classic dishes: crispy pata, bulalo, bangus, pork sisig, barbecue, crab rice, garlic rice, and even buko juice (in the shell) for dessert! I think I over-ate, so did everyone else. We had many leftovers to take back, too! I have one more week to go before going back to China, so I’m making the most of my time here. I think I’m still on vacation mode. It’s a good thing my family obliges me in my whims for food and play! It will be hard to leave again …

Freedom Song

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

During one of my Starbucks mornings (where there is free wifi!), I was writing my thoughts about vision and what I hope to do in the future, and I came across this video that I thoroughly enjoyed. I have gotten very comfortable with the convenience of stateside living, but I know that I will need to move on from here and be with people who have a lot less. I am looking forward to going back to a place where people live very simply and where I get to experience a different lifestyle. There are those who are still bound in their circumstances, living in a system where there is limited freedom. This song by Luc Reynaud and performed by Jason Mraz spoke to me because it’s a song of hope for people who can still sing in the midst of suffering — the song was borne out of the Katrina disaster in New Orleans. I have always enjoyed the songs of Jason Mraz, but this latest one is inspirational and has got to be one of my favorites. My hope is that, indeed, we will bring freedom — real freedom — as well as hope and peace and love to all who need it, whether they are here in the States or across the world. This song exudes so much joy that I just have to share it! By the way, the story behind this song is a good one, too. Google it!

p.s. apologies to friends who have no access to Youtube!

McDonald’s Play Place

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

After coming back to LA, it took me a while to get caught up. It was such a good time in Oklahoma, sightseeing and fact-finding and all, that I had to come down from a kind of “high.” Besides, the travel also tired me out. “Taking a vacation from my vacation” — only this one was not really a vacation, more of checking out the possibilities. I was really gratified to have my questions answered about planning for the future. Sometime later, I’ll write about my findings and my plans.

When I came back to LA, it was a great delight to see my nephews again. We often go to McDonald’s for snacks in the afternoon, and for the first time, they got to go on the slide. It was fun to watch them climb and laugh with delight on the way down. Avery, the little one, was a brave one. He keeps up with his older brothers and is not afraid to try new things. I think there is something to having older siblings to look up to as examples.

Maybe we’ll go to another McDonald’s for a bigger play place.

Aiden and Aldridge

Avery

Bricktown

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

me and Julie @ Braum's

After church, Julie and I were planning to have a Guatemalan lunch but it didn’t work out because I took too long talking to a professor (sorry, Julie!!) — and this, after missing a breakfast at Whispering Pines in the morning! This is what happens when you put two out-of-town girls, a rented car, a Tomtom Yoda GPS, and a free afternoon. A common theme of the trip is having to find (or miss) our destination just a few feet before we got there. Good ol’ Yoda. Lots of laughs and lots of memories from our previous travels together. Definitely lots of new memories created. One of the special memories I won’t forget is going to Braum’s for double-dipped ice cream (which was different than what we thought it was). We had just been talking about McDonald’s chocolate-dipped vanilla ice cream and ended up ordering just that at Braum’s. This picture was taken using Julie’s super-steady and dependable arm!

Riverwalk at Night

It was pretty much a laid-back weekend with a very good friend. We certainly made the most of our Sheraton hotel booking, laying in bed and talking/catching up for hours. In the afternoon, we watched a movie (“what did you do in OKC?” – “watched a movie!”). The movie ended later in the evening, so we took a stroll along the whole length of Riverwalk. It was peaceful and relaxing, especially since we ended up discussing the movie we just watched. I am so glad to have spent this weekend with my travel buddy! I wonder where our next adventure and get-together will take us ….

Oklahoma City

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

Dr. Cullen, Will, and Kent

It was such a delight to reunite with an old teacher and friend, Dr. Cullen. She took me to this Guatemalan breakfast in the city called Cafe Antigua. I enjoyed my motuleno meal, but it was the company that I enjoyed more. She is a fountain of resource and full of stories! It’s great to spend time with her again. Will and Kent later joined us. Since I was going to visit the Bombing Memorial during 9/11, Kent talked about his first-hand experience hearing the bomb and knowing people who were affected by the Oklahoma bombing. They advised me to visit the memorial in the evening as it has more of a solemn and “sacred” atmosphere at night. Dr. Cullen drove me around and helped me get oriented with the city, and they also gave me some very good tips on where to go during my couple of days in OKC. What a warm welcome to this great state!

9/11 at Bombing Memorial

There are two walls that make up most of the memorial. One is called 9:01 and the other is called 9:03. Between these two walls is a black reflecting pool called 9:02. It was the time that the bomb went off in the Oklahoma Federal Building in 1995 — and when time stood still. The memorial is indeed a touching tribute to the victims and families. Seeing it for the first time on 9/11 at night made it even more meaningful to me. I refrained from taking too many pictures so I can really absorb the impact. We even walked onto the grass area where granite chairs, looking like tombstones, were built for each victim who died. The little ones for the children were especially touching.

OU Tour

Friday, September 10th, 2010

chillin' in OU

I took quite a few pictures of the OU campus and this is one I thought I’d post. Maybe I’m still in “summer mode” since I had such a late start, but this statue submerged in the grass caught my attention. What an amusing (and unique) piece of art! I know that going back to school will be a lot of work, but I think I will also enjoy being able to read and write and study again without the responsibility attached to “earning a living.” Hopefully, I’ll have many laid-back moments like this one!

Dr. Ruan, gracious hostess

I’ve appreciated Dr. Ruan’s assistance throughout this whole fact-finding time! Besides showing me around campus, she answered questions, gave me advice, and extended her support, not to mention hosted me in her home. I love her vegetable garden! One night, our meal consisted of (most) everything that grew from their garden … it was amazing and inspiring. She introduced me to her little Sugar. What cute little fella! Sugar has her usual dog food, but sometimes eats people food. One thing we decided on though: chocolate is like poison to doggies! I think Sugar will have a lot less sugar in the future …

Red Brick Buildings

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

College of Education

I spent the day touring the OU campus and talking to my former professors. What a productive day! My first overall impression of the campus is that most of the buildings are made of red bricks, which gives them a classic look and feel … like a traditional mid-western university. I particularly enjoyed visiting the museums, the performing arts building, and the student union building (free movies on Fridays!). My favorite, of course, is the library. Enough said.

I’ve always enjoyed being a student even when I was at Cal, so coming back to a school setting is enjoyable, not to mention nostalgic. What would it be like to be full-time again? It was most helpful to talk to my professors about theory and ideology as well as details and logistics of pursuing higher education. There are a lot of factors to be considered, but the thought of having all these resources to pursue knowledge in order to accomplish a greater good is far too appealing to turn down.

To be continued …

Oklahoma Americana

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Will Rogers Airport

This is my first time in this side of America. When the plane was landing, I remembered one of my professors telling us that Oklahoma’s dirt is red — redder than red, like the down-to-earth red-blooded Americans who live there. I didn’t see red dirt, but I certainly felt his sentiments towards the people as I looked at flat lands, bungalow houses with swimming pools, and mostly (yes, red) brick buildings. There is something warm about Oklahoma. I’m not yet sure what it is.

The first sight that caught my eye as I walked out of the airport is the statue of Will Rogers, the proud son and symbol of Oklahoma, swinging his rope in confidence and ease. He seems to epitomize the American spirit in this town. I wonder if I will see this in the people I meet in the next few days!

Newport Beach

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Alvin and me

It has been a long overdue visit to my brother’s place in Newport. In keeping with our usual practice, we take a walk along the pier whenever I’m in town. He is one of those people who I can talk to for hours with just about anything. We didn’t have much time today, but the walk was enough to catch up and enjoy the beach scenery. We could have gone swimming and boogie-boarding, too, if it was only warmer. I do miss the beach! There were people fishing, surfing, taking strolls like us. I had forgotten how pretty the city looks from the pier. For dinner, Alvin and Yeegee took me to Applebee’s for my favorite dish there, pork riblets! Then, Yeegee and I stayed around for a couple more hours to chat way after Alvin left for work. It was a very meaningful talk, one that I appreciate in more ways than one. I look forward to getting together with them again soon!!

Innocence

Monday, September 6th, 2010

Kindergarten

I haven’t read this book but the title certainly grabs one’s attention. Maybe one day, I’ll pick it up.

Today, I answered the question I brought up yesterday about why we stop sharing our loves and passions with each other like my nephew Aiden usually does with the people around him. When did we learn small talk, as though there is nothing better to talk about than the weather? More importantly, why can we no longer identify our own passions?

We picked Aiden up after his class today but he had a different demeanor than before. He usually talks about class and shows off his art work, but he was quiet and more subdued. He carried his paper limply, looking bothered about something. When we asked him if he liked class, he said plainly, “no!” Because he has two younger brothers, by the time he was asked “why not?” his parents had to attend to two other crying babies. Later that day, I asked him what happened in class. He said the teacher had drawn pictures of his “Angry Birds” that he helped color and put in the eyes and beak, but when it was time to leave, they could not find the paper, so he had to leave with one artwork consisting of two leaves pasted onto paper with a few colored lines on it, obviously not his best work. I asked how come they could not find the “Angry Birds” art work? He seemed convinced that someone took it on purpose. He said he just went to play and then someone else took it. When I asked why he would think so, he said “because it was beautiful … I loved that picture.” What does a four-year-old know about love?

During dinner, we found a scratch mark on his elbow. He also complained of pain on his arm when he shakes it. His parents concluded that he probably fell during class. It gave me a fuller picture of what his day was like in the classroom. He put heart and soul into his “Angry Birds” picture which someone took from him. The adults who were supposed to make things fair were not able to do so. Moreover, he probably fell during playtime, whether or not it was an accident. And because he has other brothers who needed attention, he did not get to talk about why he did not have a good day.

What keeps us from childlike passion? What takes away our innocence? Life is tough. We love but we become vulnerable. We put ourselves out there only to get disappointed. People take from us, hurt us, fail us. Our bodies bruise and bleed. Sometimes, no one asks us what hurts our heart. Very few really listen.

So we learn to be tough — keep ourselves from loving, from putting ourselves out there, from trusting others, from sharing, from talking, from dancing, from moving, from offering to say anything.

But we can also learn hope — to hold on to beauty, delight, and wonder, even in this fallen world. We can learn faith — to trust in people even if they hurt us, fail us. We can learn love — to share ourselves with others despite the risks.

I hope and pray Aiden learns the latter.