Sunday, August 31, 2008

Fire Island

On the final weekend of the summer, we tried to pack as much into the day's agenda as possible.... a sure sign of separation anxiety. The US open tickets are bought for next week but it seems it just isn't complete until Labor Day weekend brings us to the beach.

Of course the beaches in New York are nothing at all like the beaches of the Philippines where I grew up. For one thing, even in the peak of the summer, the water is definitely not tropical. It is cold to my standards when on the average in the summer is 60 to 68 degrees. And it is "bring your own shade" as there are no coconut trees or picnic huts to provide relief from the summer sun. And so many people who join the exodus to the beaches take with them beach umbrellas and other paraphernalia (beach seats, beach towels or blankets to sit on, frizzbee, dog, cat, kids...list goes on).

I've adapted very well to th is style of summer living. For one thing, I can confidently walk on the beach without fear of stepping on dog poo because it is just not an acceptable kind of behavior to let dogs run loose as though they are in the wild. Or as though you bought the beach shore yesterday. There are likewise no fears that I'd step on broken glass because people are considerate to clean up when they leave. Unless you go to New Jersey beaches (news article here) there is absolutely little chance you will encounter hazardous waste - medical, industrial or anything similar.

And the fun thing about it all - going to one of the best beach shores on the eastern seaboard involved no driving. We hopped on the Long Island train, hopped onto a waiting cab and then transfered to a ferry and then is whisked away from the urban chaos. The peace and tranquility was great for the day - watching a docile deer wandering into the clearing of a meandering boardwalk was probably the highlight of our day though. Or maybe it was just sitting on the sand and listening to the lapping of the waves against the shores. Or maybe it was the sum of all of it all.

It was a beautiful day.
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Friday, August 29, 2008

Hope and Change

Four years ago, I briefly blogged about this political newcomer that had the "the charisma of JFK and the eloquence of Bill Clinton" (blog entry here).  Last night he went on stage in Denver to accept the nomination of the Democratic Party.  His speech was awe inspiring.  I was captivated and was moved by its simplicity.  It is the blueprint of a new America.  A new road map to bring the country back to glory.  It is about hope and about change. 

"Change happens -- change happens because the American people demand it, because they rise up and insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time."

I look back to my country and remember how many times we have demanded change.  And hoped endlessly for the salvation of good leadership. We have yearned for a miracle of the gift of a selfless public servant who will work for the country and its people and not personal enrichment.  As a people, Filipinos have not been indolent. We have worked hard to bring back democracy and to bring our economy back on the right track.  But we have been cursed with a breed of politicians who lack decency.

I realize that hope is not an endless resource.   In a country that had worked hard and hoped so much for change, when hopelessness prevails the people just give up and walk away.  In my case and some others that I know... we have walked far - very far away. 

And still from far away we hope for change.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

At the US Open

We spent much of last Sunday watching the stellar tennis celebrities practise at Flushing Meadows.  It has been a while since I've watched or played any tennis.  So bad that the only players I really know are was able to ID in the chaos was James Blake (tall, dark, gorgeous) and Rafa Nadal (Tall, dark and Spanish).  But the logic we decided to maintain was to keep shooting pics of the players and then just identify them later when we start to follow the tournament games on TV.  True enough, Nicole's tennis friends pretty much knew everyone. 

Nicole has uploaded many of the pictures in her new collaborative blog, En Route (is it called a CLOG?).  I have some videos to share.  Have fun!

The playful fountains at Flushing Meadows

Rafael Nadal practicing.

I have great pics of James Blake uploaded on my Facebook account. Aren't you on Facebook yet???

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


I'm suppose to be on vacation. Seriously.  Instead I am checking emails, receiving phone calls and my Blackberry is abuzz with activity.  And so in between enjoying the last few days of the summer, I am also catching up with work. 

This is what technology does to you - it keeps you connected.  Sometimes to the things you'd really prefer to be disconnected.

Sorry... I needed to rant.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Movie at the Park

On Monday, 18 August, it seemed like the whole population of the city converged in Bryant Park to see a movie.  The movie was the last of the HBO Summer Film Festival series, the 1978 blockbuster Superman which introduced to the world the dashing Christopher Reeve. And so it was the afternoon when my friend noted, 10 billion people filled the park.

Our friend Jill and Erin organized the little picnic/park hang out to share with us their son's favorite movie.  Two year old Edison was perfectly outfitted with his Superman costume when we arrived after work. They had come to the park as early as 2PM to secure our little prime spot in the middle of midtown.  Incidentally, so did most everyone else who shared in our momentary piece of real estate.

While Edison made friends with the whole neighborhood, the adults feasted on cheese, crackers, burritos and for dessert, Jill's homemade peanut butter chocolate brownies - yummy and sinful.  All around us, the catering service everywhere varied from boxes of pizza to chips and dips and even the more suburban bucket of KFC.  Some sipped wine and beer while a majority simply clung to the satisfaction of a sip of bottled water.  Others, like the big group who had sat a few yards from us consumed so much pot it literally filled the air with the acrid smell, generously sharing it with us in the form of second hand smoke. No wonder everyone was in a subdued, peaceful and 'happy' mood.

As the sun set the movie started.  People were cheering and clapping for the memorable scenes and when the villains made their appearance they were promptly booed.  Edison's eyes lit up gleefully when his favorite scenes came on.  He stayed up through the film despite the film running way past his bedtime.

Halfway through the movie, the screen went dim and there was a brief 5 minutes before the movie resumed.  In the intermission, people stood up to stretch their legs and booed the interruption.  Others used the break to call their friends stranded outside of the lawn to encourage them to find their way into the crowds. It was amazing how crowded it was - people were literally sitting shoulder to shoulder and yet the mood was very convivial, as though each knew each other somehow and this is what, for me, makes New York so New York.

To entertain Edison during the apparent engineering malfunction, Edison's dad Erin decided to throw and hold him up into the air - costume, cape and all.  The crowd quickly reacted to the substitute caped hero in their midst and playfully began cheering and clapping.  Random flashes of cameras everywhere pierced through the semi-darkness and a party spirit surrounded us.  Edison was oblivious to all that was going on around him but the joy of being bounced high in the air by his dad certainly echoed in his laughter. Meanwhile,  everyone continued to clap and cheer and the mood was lively. It was the perfect intermission entertainment for the crowd which eventually quietly settled again when the movie resumed on the big screen.

It was a great evening that was so uniquely and endemic to New York.  It is also probably the closest we can get to the more suburban drive-in movie.  We all had a grand time and by the time we joined the masses in the exodus out of the park, the experience was priceless.  A truly memorable part of summer in this beautiful city.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Calorie Counting

With Nicole staying with me, the meals at home take a whole new perspective.  My health nut of a child grazes on salads with lean dressings and warns me about anything unhealthy that I may intend to devour.  She watches what she eats as obsessively as I make sure everything around me is tidy, organized and sanitized.  While I enjoy cooking the meals most times, last night she ventured into her first cooking adventure.  With very little supervision she whipped up a very good version of linguine with Alfredo sauce.  It was delish!!!

We both have the same little guilty pleasure from a single food group which is top on our own pyramid - ice cream.  Regardless how carefully we have picked out our food from our lunch or dinner menu it only takes one to invite and we can never turn each other down.  We love them all - all flavors of pinkberry with any topping, tasti-d-lite with candy sprinkles or with choco chips, Ben and Jerry's variety of flavors (although I will kill for the Cherry Garcia), the gelatos at little Italy or Grom's or the concoctions at Stone Creamy. 

So what do you think we do on an evening when we are both bored, munching on leftovers for dinner because we are too lazy to cook and not hungry enough to be motivated to order in?  We scan McDonald's menu for their nutritional information.  This, after Nicole have read in the New York Magazine that some of them actually cheat on what they publish in terms of calories. 

This is wickedly devastating and eye-opening to the avid drive-in fanatic out there:


Deluxe Breakfast (Large Size Biscuit) w/o Syrup & Margarine 15.3 oz (434 g)
Calories  1150
Sodium:  2260
Chicken McNuggets® (10 piece) 5.6 oz (159 g)
Calories  460
Sodium 1000
Chicken Selects® Premium Breast Strips (5 pc) 7.7 oz (219 g)
Calories 660
Sodium 1680

OMIGOSH!!!! Although I've never had it (because breakfast for me is Gatorade and dry Honeynut Cheerios) a Deluxe Breakfast from McDonald's would comprise my FULL caloric daily requirement and waaaay more than the daily sodium I need for a week!!!!

What about you?  What are you putting into your mouth????

Sunday, August 10, 2008


"........tutubi, tutubi...

....wag kang pahuli .... sa batang makulit....."

Yeah I changed it a bit to suit my purpose.
Who said makulit ako?