Monday, December 28, 2009

Thank you all... blogger friends who have visited,

sent greetings by email,

and made comments on my posts.

I am sorry I have not visited any of you for a while.

I'll be able to by next year.

May you all have a Blessed

and Happy New Year!


Friday, November 27, 2009

Flash back

The ceiling fan is slowly spinning, casting a soft shadow on the cottage-cheese-finish of the gypsum board ceiling. As I stared at it my thoughts raced back to that day when I was a kid of 10, ill in bed. The ceiling of my room was made of planks of wood with old faded white paint. I don't remember how long I've been sick; never counted the days. All I wanted was to get better and be on my feet again.

In the morning my 2 older siblings and my mom would leave for school, and I was left in the care of someone. She cooked my meals which at that time was tasteless; checked on me from time to time; and felt my temperature with the back of her hand on my forehead.

It was so quiet during the morning until mid-afternoon. There were times I dozed off. When kids in the neighborhood were back home from school, I could hear them playing, laughing and having fun. I longed to be with them, and have fun myself.

At this time my mom, brother and sister would be back from school, they would come and visit me in my room. My mom would check my temperature, and made sure I was doing okay; that I was getting better...not on the brink of death. I learned later on, when I was already an adult that I had pneumonia.

One day, feeling much better, I got up and tried to walk. On my first step my knees buckled under my weight and I fell on the floor. But instead of crying, I laughed. I was so happy that I could get up and be on my feet again, though shaky. A little friend who was visiting me at that time laughed with me. I would get up and try again, though knowing that I'm still weak and would hit the floor...again. Still it didn't matter. We laughed till we were spent.

A few days later on, I was back in school; glad to be up and about.

The ceiling fan is still going on; is having a hypnotic effect, and the hum of the l e e p.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Vote for a young hero


CAVITE CITY, Philippines (CNN) -- At 16, Rhandolf Fajardo reflects on his former life as a gang member.

Efren Peñaflorida's Dynamic Teen Company offers Filipino youth an alternative to gangs through education.

Efren Peñaflorida's Dynamic Teen Company
offers Filipino youth an alternative to gangs through education.

"My gang mates were the most influential thing in my life," says Fajardo, who joined a gang when he was in sixth grade. "We were pressured to join."

He's not alone. In the Philippines, teenage membership in urban gangs has surged to an estimated 130,000 in the past 10 years, according to the Preda Foundation, a local human rights charity.

"I thought I'd get stuck in that situation and that my life would never improve," recalls Fajardo. "I would probably be in jail right now, most likely a drug addict -- if I hadn't met Efren."

Efren Peñaflorida, 28, also was bullied by gangs in high school. Today, he offers Filipino youth an alternative to gang membership through education.

(Click below to vote for Efren. --Mari)

Vote now for the CNN Hero of the Year

"Gang members are groomed in the slums as early as 9 years old," says Peñaflorida. "They are all victims of poverty."

For the past 12 years, Peñaflorida and his team of teen volunteers have taught basic reading and writing to children living on the streets. Their main tool: A pushcart classroom.

Stocked with books, pens, tables and chairs, his Dynamic Teen Company recreates a school setting in unconventional locations such as the cemetery and municipal trash dump.

Peñaflorida knows firsthand the adversity faced by these children. Born into a poor family, he lived in a shanty near the city dump site. But he says he refused to allow his circumstances to define his future.

"Instead of being discouraged, I promised myself that I would pursue education," he recalls. "I will strive hard; I will do my best."

In high school, Peñaflorida faced a new set of challenges. Gang activity was rampant; they terrorized the student body, vandalized the school and inducted members by forcing them to rape young girls, he says.

"I felt the social discrimination. I was afraid to walk down the street."

Peñaflorida remembers standing up to a gang leader, refusing to join his gang. That confrontation proved fateful. At 16, he and his friends "got the idea to divert teenagers like us to be productive," he says.

He created the Dynamic Teen Company to offer his classmates an outlet to lift up themselves and their community. For Peñaflorida, that meant returning to the slums of his childhood to give kids the education he felt they deserved.

"They need education to be successful in life. It's just giving them what others gave to me," he says.

Today, children ranging from ages 2 to 14 flock to the pushcart every Saturday to learn reading, writing, arithmetic and English from Peñaflorida and his trained teen volunteers.

Video Watch Peñaflorida and his group in action with their push cart classroom »

"Our volunteers serve as an inspiration to other children," he says.

The group also runs a hygiene clinic, where children can get a bath and learn how to brush their teeth.

Since 1997, an estimated 10,000 members have helped teach more than 1,500 children living in the slums. The organization supports its efforts by making and selling crafts and collecting items to recycle.

Video Take a look at the slums where Peñaflorida and his group spend their Saturdays »

Through his group, Peñaflorida has successfully mentored former gang members, addicts and dropouts, seeing potential where others see problems.

"Before, I really didn't care for my life," says Michael Advincula, who started doing drugs when he was 7. "But then Efren patiently dug me from where I was buried. It was Efren who pushed me to get my life together."

Video Watch Advincula describe how he met Peñaflorida in the slums »

Today, Advincula is a senior in high school and one of the group's volunteers.

Peñaflorida hopes to expand the pushcart to other areas, giving more children the chance to learn and stay out of gangs.

"I always tell my volunteers that you are the change that you dream and I am the change that I dream. And collectively we are the change that this world needs to be."

Voting is being conducted through an online poll at, ending November 19 (6 a.m. ET)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A little help would go a long way...

Click image to enlarge.

Below is a forwarded message I got in my email. I thought I would post it here rather than forward it again.

Hi Folks,

I'm sure you do want to help our poor people back home in the Philippines--we cannot but see the reality of their situation--it is all over the news, TV, radio, internet, etc. and it is truly heart-breaking and heartrending.

Well - God provided an easy way to help - He touched the hearts of the owners of MAYFLOWER RESTAURANT in Chinatown (Los Angeles, CA) . They are offering 50% of whatever sale they will generate on TUESDAY, OCTOBER 27 - FROM 10:00 a.m.. - 10:00 p.m. (Please see attached flyer)

This will only cost you whatever you are willing to pay for a meal - at the same time that you are helping our kapwa Pilipino!

But you can help further and go an extra mile by forwarding this email / flyer to all your friends, co-workers, etc - and by word of mouth - invite them to join you for a meal at Mayflower Restaurant - you can also ask your Pastors, Employers, etc. to have the flyer posted on your bulletin - the more people who will eat there - the more funds we can get .

It is really very simple, isn't it - so I am hoping to see you there on the 27th with everybody you can invite - let us match the generosity of Ha and his family - it took a Chinese Restaurant to think of this very creative and generous way of being in solidarity with those who are suffering - God will bless them abundantly.

Salamat po mula sa puso at pagpalain tayong lahat ng Diyos!

Sr. M. Christina, rgs

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Little Tokyo in a day.

overdue post

i have put this post on hold since the assault of a vengeful right hand. it took upon itself to cut the left finger on the other hand as it had alleged it doesn't do much work as itself does. however, the revenge boomeranged. it is doing much more work now; and can't wait for the victim to heal of its wound.

so does my husband who the other day asked me, "when are your stitches going to be taken out?" my evil eyes looked at him and i gave him an evil smile and said, "why? are you tired of washing dishes?" he smiled his sweetest. hah...hah...hah. he probably appreciates now what i do in the kitchen--the same boring chore day in and day out. he helps, but i do the heavier stuff.

in any event, i will put this in publication as it is now long over due.

Little Tokyo in a rush

My friend, Jun, asked me to accompany her to the Japanese Consulate in downtown Los Angeles. Jun is of Japanese citizenship; and has been in this country for over 40 years. She, however, has not changed her citizenship despite the fact that she once was married to an American and has 3 beautiful children with him. She goes to the consulate to update her papers or status...or whatever.

click image to enlarge

We met at the parking lot of the smaller train station, about 3 miles from my house. This one has a smaller lot and it was almost full when I got there at about 9:00 in the morning. We were to catch the 9:45 train. She came a few minutes after I got there. We got our tickets; boarded the train; and we were at the Union Station 55 minutes later.

We boarded the same bus as I did with my husband, and got off right across the street of the building -- Two California Plaza on South Grand Ave. The skyscraper has 52 stories constructed of concrete, glass and steel; and of modern architecture.

Security was tight that we have to present our IDs at

the front desk and they handed us a computer printed name tags we stuck on our clothes. As one of the young men handed me my name tag he said something I didn't understand. I gave him a quizzical look. With that he asked, "You're not Japanese?"

I shook my head and said, "No."

"I'm sorry. The consulate is on the 17th floor," he said.

"I'm Japanese," Jun said. And they talked a bit in Japanese.

We took the elevator to the consulate. At the door of the consulate there is a security guard. We opened our purses for inspection. I have to leave my bottled water at the hallway, as it's not allowed. We got in; got out in about half an hour. Her business there was done pretty quick, as she had all her papers ready.

We then headed to the bus stop. Took the same bus; got off; took another bus heading towards Little Tokyo where we were to have lunch...and a little grocery shopping. We were short of time, but I managed to shoot a few photos.
The Walt Disney Concert Hall
click image to enlarge

We boarded a bus across the Disney Hall...

...and got off a few yards from this tower. This tower marks where the Japanese village is. Going around in that place is like going inside a tiny village. It has walkways and trees and shops. We found a small restaurant and went in. We were not looking for a fancy restaurant, as we were famished.
I had a combo of teriyaki pork, green salad, fried potato salad, rice and...ham with scrambled eggs. The ham was too salty -- as is always with processed food. I wonder why the plate had ham and eggs. Usually it's for breakfast, but it's in their lunch menu. jun had the same combo, but instead of teriyaki she had fried breaded shrimp. The food was good for two hungry people.

After our lunch we headed to
Marukai -- a Japanese market. Marukai is in a wing of a 3-story building. Beside the building is a small plaza.
And in it is a replica of the space Orbiter Challenger...

...and a bust of the first Japanese-American astronaut--Ellison Onizuka. Astronaut Onizuka was one of the crew who perished when the Challenger exploded right after it took off.

We got inside the market and Jun grabbed the things she needed. I was checking the time. If we don't get the 3:45 train, we'll have to wait for the 6 PM one and that would be too late for us. There is one at 4:30, but it won't get to our station where we parked our cars.

Jun got most of her grocery and we got out of there in half an hour. We got to the train station just in time, and boarded right away. We stayed at the lower deck as she had a bulky rolling cart that was full of groceries. The train was packed with passengers heading home.

A few minutes before the train got to our station, a couple of sheriffs entered our car and asked each passenger to show their tickets. We showed them ours. I wonder if there ever are passengers who never buy their tickets. i hardly see anyone, a conductor perhaps, check passengers' tickets.

We pulled in at our home station in 60 minutes; and home sweet home in 5 minutes. I slept tight that night, and woke up as usual...late.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


i have spent more time blogging and surfing the internet than anything else. the summer class is over and i have completed one measly painting--pink geranium. and this painting doesn't even look any good. could i make myself better? yes, if i do more; paint more. as of now, however, i have this unshakable addiction to the internet. my day is not complete if i don't log on. i am unable to use my left hand as i have injured my finger, still i am undeterred typing with one hand.


Friday, August 14, 2009

I sliced the eggplant...and ouch!

when the knife hit my finger i prayed it would only be like a paper cut. it was not! i saw a deep cut with blood ready to ooze out. i grabbed a paper towel right away and ran to my husband and showed it to him. he dropped what he was doing and ran upstairs with me right behind him.

i snatched a clean pair of pants from the closet; pulled it on with one hand. blood was dripping on the carpet, on the bed and on my pants. my husband got some cotton and pressed them on my finger; wrapped them tight with paper-like tape. then he helped me put on my t-shirt.

we drove down to urgency care about 10 miles away.

we got there. i registered; paid my fee and waited for my call. waited and waited,,,and waited. after half an hour a nurse called me. she got my vital signs then led me to a room and made me sit. she said i'd be the doctor's first patient when he comes in. it was half past 12 noon already. the doctor must've gone to lunch.

i heard people talking in the hallway; footsteps. then silence. everyone left? they forgot me? hello? i'm dying here.

i heard footsteps again. the nurse passed my door and said, the doctor will be right with you. i thanked her. then she was gone.

a few minutes later a man garbed in white came in the room. his tag said, dr. tran, family practice. he's lightly built; about 5'-3". first thing he asked me was, what i was cutting. if i cut meat also. no, just vegetable, was my reply. can you bend your finger? i did bend it a bit.

he undressed my finger and more blood oozed. he washed it with some kind of liquid; blotted it dry a bit; and injected a topical anesthesia. he then got sutures that the nurse gave him and stitched my cut together. while he was doing that blood was still spurting from some open cut. finally, he got them all stitched up. the nurse cleaned my hand; dressed the finger and sent me off.

that was yesterday. today i am to change the dressing, i'm afraid to look at it. i'll let my nurse, my husband, do it for me.

if it's not fish bone in my throat; cut on my finger; or ear infection it's something else. it's the peril of being alive.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

And the awards go to ...

Lovely Blog Award From Bonnie Bonsai

Here are the rules that MUST be followed:

1. Add the logo to your blog.
2. Link to the person from whom you received this award
3. Nominate 7 or more blogs
4. Leave a message on their blog,letting them know they are "One Lovely Blog"!

So here are 7 ingredients, which I love to see in a blog:

1. A lovely host or in other words a good friend
2. Lovely art (candles or other crafts)
3. Lovely communities offering lovely friendship
4. Lovely memes
5. Lovely photography
6. Lovely quizzes or tips
7. Lovely quotes or inspirational thoughts


The second award.

Thanks for these awards Bonnie. They are lovely. I could use them to decorate my bedroom.

Now I pass these awards to all those beautiful posters who come and visit my blog. So, grab these they are free for the taking. YEAH!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Heading home

The bus made another turn this time to the left, and stopped right there in front of The Union Station. I nodded to my husband. He stood up and made for the door, and he helped me alight. We walked toward the station.

The fancy crosswalk at the main street in front of the station.

(Click images to enlarge)

This building was built in 1939. It is a combination of Spanish and Moorish architecture on the exterior; and the interior is of art deco style.

The information kiosk manned by friendly employees. They have maps, brochures, and schedules ready for those who come to ask for assistance, or for direction.

Behind the kiosk are a restaurant and a store, and the spacious waiting area with rows and rows of upholstered comfortable seats. All the materials are original. They have not been replaced since it was erected. The ceiling is richly designed with chandelier. On both sides of the area are doors that lead to landscaped courtyards with benches and fountains.

This was the ticket lobby that is now closed to the public, due to the decline of train ridership. It has a row of about 2 dozens ticket windows. During its heyday this was the place where every one came to travel to all parts of the country. It was then used by everyone from all walks of life -- from the rich and famous to the not rich and obscure people. There is now in its place a smaller ticket booth that is served by 2 people; and computers are used to dispense tickets. Departure and arrival of trains are posted on a board electronically by a computer

We found a secluded seat for two and waited till our train pulls in. My husband took a catnap while I looked around and observed people around me. There were 2 young people with big backpacks and duffel bags who came in and purchased tickets. I assumed they were going out of town. Some people have just arrived pulling their big luggage. They must be from out of town. They were met by some friends or relatives.

Union Station has resurrected in the early 1990's when Metrolink was introduced giving the public convenient transportation to and from the outskirts of Los Angeles County and downtown; and to neighboring counties as well. Ridership has gone up and some companies are subsidizing their employees' tickets. That saves them parking fee which costs a lot in downtown. And, also, it reduces traffic and pollution.

When it started operating, we were sent free tickets. I never had the chance to use those. Students in our area have field trips to the city to give them a chance to experience riding the train; and to encourage them to use it. It is now a popular mode of transportation. Some passengers can take their bikes on the train; and when they disembark they can use their bikes to where they are going. Lockers are provided for those who don't want to take their bikes with them.

Half an hour before our train pulls out we headed to the platform.

It was perfect timing. The train just came in and we headed to the upper level; found seats for two in the back row and waited. We chugged out of there 20 minutes later.

We passed this very old bridge. There was something I like about the arches. It's full of graffiti and grime, but I just love it. I must be nuts!

The train picked up speed and at the first station picked up some more passengers, and moved on again, stopping at other stations.

About 40 minutes later we were getting close to our home station. The traffic going north (cars in background going left) has already built up. Had we taken our car we would be one of those stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. Going south towards downtown Los Angeles, traffic was light. At this time everyone was heading home after a hard day's work. In the meantime, we were taking it easy inside the air-conditioned train. My husband closed his eyes again and took a nap. I'm glad he didn't snore.

And finally, here we were back to where we boarded the train. I was so tired from all that walking. That night I slept like a log. I was glad I woke up the next morning. I'm alive!!!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Children on the street

As I sat on the bus, I thought about that woman on the corner of 6th and Broadway streets. She has a news stand at the edge of the sidewalk, a few inches from the curb.

Click image to enlarge

The woman sat by her merchandise cuddling her baby. And among her stacks of newspapers and magazines was a small niche where her other child - about 2 years old - is confined to playing in that small area. Nearby is the baby's stroller tucked close to her other merchandise. Around her are people waiting for the bus, or for the signal to cross the street.

It saddened my heart to see these children right there exposed to the elements; to contagious diseases floating in the air. These kids should be playing in a yard, or at least in the confines of their home.

Perhaps she can't find someone she can trust to care for her children while she ekes out a living. With a meager earning,
to hire a baby sitter would be out of the question.

The bus turned a corner and Union Station is in sight.

Monday, July 27, 2009

And we walked...

...some more.

(Enlarge images by clicking.)

Broadway street had changed so much from the last time I've seen it. This portion of it where we were walking--between the 7th and 5th streets--has deteriorated. The demographic had changed. There was a stench in some areas. The sidewalk is patched up unevenly, and covered with chewing gum. Most of the buildings have been neglected, abandoned.

As I look at them, I can still see the beauty in them despite the grime and the graffiti.

These buildings have seen better days, perhaps, in the 1930's or 1940's. During those days this must have been the place to watch the latest movie and see plays on stage. This street is the theater district or was the theater district. Nowadays movie houses are in malls and other areas of the city. And the latest stage plays and musical shows are held at the Music Center which is only a few blocks away.

This movie house has been spruced up. It must be one of those buildings bought for a song and brought to life by the new owner.

Close up of building above.

This building has some intricate lattice work.

At the corner of 5th street on Broadway, we made a right turn--going east.

We made it to the corner of Main where we were to catch another bus. This street doesn't look good. There's a man in a wheelchair and seems to me he is asleep. He has been that way the whole time we were there.

We waited for about 15 minutes or so, but the bus never came. We crossed the street going north to try the other bus stop.

At this block the place is cleaner and business is brisk. There is a cafe with outdoor dining. Right across the cafe a building is being renovated, a developer bought it for a paltry $100,000.00 in 1988. It was built in the 1930's. This is the old bank district, the area that is now being revitalized.

No bus still. The route must have been changed. At this point we were already tired and decided to take the bus that goes back to the Union Station.

We crossed the street...again...heading west toward those two buildings (above). That was about 4 or 5 city blocks.

When I took the picture above, a guy offered himself for a model, but my husband readily said, "No." The guy, about late 30s, wearing a leather vest, leather gloves with finger tips cut off, giggled and walked on. Ha! Take his picture and then he would charge me a fee for that. I'm not that gullible.

We passed this square across the street. Little did we know that there is a subway station down under that leads to the station where we were headed. Ah, we are not city slickers. We are suburbanites...we didn't know where we were heading. Mga tanga sa siudad.

We continued walking, this time uphill. Gasp...hingal...hingal...whew... Finally, we got to the bus stop and the bus came in a few minutes. We hopped on, and in a few the Union Station is right there. We can rest our tired souls before our train pulls in...then we board and we're home....

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Downtown L. A. revisited

My husband and I like watching California's Gold TV show which is hosted by Huell Howser. In one of his recent shows he visited Clifton's Cafeteria in downtown Los Angeles. The place looked interesting and we thought of taking a visit to the place. Downtown LA was my stumping ground many years ago when I lived a few blocks from it. Everyone within a short bus ride would go there to shop. May Company and Sears have their stores there. My former landlady worked at May Co. until she retired. May Co. is now Macy's.

I now live with my husband about 40 miles from the heart of Los Angeles. Embarking on a mini-adventure would also let us take a peek at the old place. We decided on a week day on the second Thursday of this month. We took the most convenient way to travel there nowadays -- the
Metrolink (train), then a bus that goes around the city.

Enlarge images by clicking.

We were on the landing level--right at the top of the first steps--as the upper deck was already full. At this level there were only a few seats, about 18. We sat across a family headed to one of the towns before it reached downtown. In 50 minutes the train pulled in at the Union Station, it's final destination.

We boarded a bus, and we found the place in no time at all.

The sign at the window before the entrance.

The steps leading to the second floor balcony.

A moose head at the second floor railing.

Another stairs leading to the second floor dining room.

A stuffed deer right above a water fall.

The view from the second floor looking down.

A cabin with a small water fall beneath.

Clifton's was built in the 1930s and the forest theme is still the same to this day. The interior was kind of dark because of the woodsy decor.

We had lunch there and I had roast beef and mashed potato with gravy and green beans. My husband had fried chicken wings and some kind of veggies. The food was okay. After lunch we stepped out to the sidewalk and planned our next stop. Then we turned to our right and walked northward. And we walked, and walked...and walked...and walked...and w...a...l...k...e...d...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A visit to The Gipper.

Two Fridays ago, my husband and I drove up to Simi Valley (California), about 30 or so miles from my house to pay a visit to The Gipper.* When we got there he, Ronald Reagan, was waiting for us and all visitors, at the main entrance of the Reagan Presidential Library and Museum. He was standing tall with a wide grin on his face. I touched him. He was cold as all statues are.

Inscription at the foot of the statue.
Click images to enlarge.

We paid our entrance and got inside the museum. It was filled with memorabilia. There were pictures of him when he was a child; when he was in the service in World War II; when he was a young actor; when he was president of the SAG (Screen Actors Guild); and when he was governor of California. Pictures of him with his wife Nancy and their children; with world leaders; with people of note and others.

The original car, a mustang convertible, he used during his campaign as governor of California.

The limousine, a 1984 Cadillac, was state of the art built exclusively for the president.

The helicopter...The Marine One.

Young visitors come as well to visit and learn about the past president. Here they are guided around by a docent who explains everything to them. Just above this floor is...

...The Air Force One.

Visitors are allowed to take a walk through this airplane. They, however, are prohibited from taking pictures of the interior. The quarters inside the plane was somewhat cramped, it being a 707 plane. Nowadays a 747 jumbo jet is used. The plane becomes Air Force One once the president sets foot on it. If it is used by others, not the president, it is not Air Force One. (Two maybe, or three, depending on the rank of the user...maybe. LOL)

There is not enough room for me to get the whole plane in one shot. I have to splice three shots together.

Information and technical details.

The floor plan.
The seal.

In the garden, right behind the library is this piece of the Berlin Wall.

About the wall...

...and the garden with the view. It was said during the president's memorial service that he loved the view on this place; that on a clear day the Pacific Ocean is visible here.

A few steps away was his final resting place...

"I know in my heart that man is good
that what is right will always eventually triumph
and there is purpose and worth to each and every life."

February 6, 1911 - June 5, 2004

...and we bid goodbye to The President.

*He played the role of George "The Gipper" Gipp in the film Knute Rockne, All American; from it, he acquired the lifelong nickname "the Gipper.