Wednesday, February 25, 2009

American Idol Season 8: First Batch of Top 12 Finalists

Last week, the first three members of the top twelve finalists of the eighth season of American Idol were revealed. The program has new mechanics for this year. The Top 36 Idol wannabes were divided into three groups of twelve, then only three from each group will be part of the top 12. The remaining three will be picked from the wildcards elimination. Pretty slim chances though, I thought.



This is just one of the revisions the program has to offer, including that of the addition to the panel of judges, Kara DioGardi, a 38 year-old singer songwriter, composer, and record producer, who I think deserves to be given the designation of an American Idol Judge.



She wrote and produced songs for a lot of famous singers like Celine Dion, Gwen Stefani, Jonas Brothers, Backstreet Boys, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, and Christina Aguilera, just to name a few. And in case you're interested, she also co-wrote a song with David Cook and she wrote one of the songs in David Archuleta's album. Her achievements speak a lot for her - that she has been a big part of American Idol in a different way, helping the Idols on their climb to the top. This time, she emerges out from the curtains and is given the task of screening raw talents, and you can be sure she has a queer eye for that.



On a lighter vein, it also interests me, who will be in for a cat fight, would it be Paula and Kara? Or Kara and Simon. These judges have pretty much their own stand on how they look at the performance of the contestants and they really stand up to it. I have also read articles comparing Kara and Paula. Some dig the new girl and I like her too. She has a star quality of her own. She's beautiful and elegant without sacrificing authority.



Now that the Top 36 are slowly trimmed down to The Final 12, here's what I personally think of the first batch of finalists.


First Finalist: Alexis Grace


Age 20


Memphis, Tennessee



One of my personal favorites. As early as this time, I am rooting for her to be the next American Idol and I strongly defy Randy's preemptive remarks that a male is going to get this year's title. Alexis Grace is a headturner, and more importantly, she's got an extraordinary voice that could give justice to Aretha Franklin's songs. I definitely agree with Simon when he told Alexis Grace that she is someone to watch out for this season.




Second Finalist: Danny Gokey


Age 28


Milwaukee, Wisconsin



A widower with a charming bedroom voice. He makes me believe that Mariah Carey songs seem to have a punch as a choice of song for Idol specially when sang by a male. I was in another room while he sang Mariah Carey's Hero and I did not find anything extraordinary with his rendition but I changed my mind when he sang the song again when he got picked as finalist. He was somehow able to inject his emotions to the song and sang quite a lot of kulot-kulot too. I am afraid though that he might just be getting sympathy votes. His wife Sophia died last year.






Third Finalist: Michael Sarver


Age 27


Texas

An oil rigger, Michael once said that he just wants to have a job which calls him to do the thing he loves, singing that is, while earning good money for his family. For me, he could just be a recipient of sympathy votes. Now that he is on the Top 12, they might as well include that welder guy. Let's wait and see. The judges believed that he could perform better than when he sang Gavin DeGraw's I Don't Want To Be. I agree with them and although his being married might make girl fans look the other direction, let's give this guy a chance and see what else he has to show. Aside from bending his other knee and almost jumping in place while singing his piece.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Easy Money: PTC Sites (Second of Two Parts)

Let us continue our lesson on PTC Sites. Definitely, we are all in this together as students, learning our way through the tricks of this trade.

Below are the PTC site banners that you have to click in order to register and be a part of this clicking addiction. Just so you would know, these are the first few sites that I have signed up. There are a million sites out there that will try to lure you to sign up, but I have chosen to sign up to the PTCs below first because they have released proof of payments to a number of clickers. That is important for us who are still new to this venture to be assured that compensation is indeed given for the time we will be investing while we click.


It's easy to register into this PTC site. As it goes with most PTC sites, all you need is to fill in some personal information (e.g. name, password, e-mail addresses) and then you're done and ready to click. Some would send you an activation e-mail which contains a code for you to click before you can log in to the site.

Once you are successfully logged in to roudycash.com, you click the view ads icon then you start clicking the first ad or link.

Remember that you can only click and view one ad at a time. It is prohibited in PTC sites (at least in a one PTC site) to view two ads from that site at the same time.

Once you click on the add, another window opens with the roudycash.com logo on top. Observe that a 30-second timer appears on the upper left hand. Once that timer hits zero, a check sign appears along with a message that your visit was validated. Be sure to wait for this check sign and this message to appear to ensure that you earn bread for your visit. Once you are prompted that your visit is credited, you may close that window (or choose to explore the site further) and go to the roudycash site to click the next ad or link.





Once you have signed up and are successfully logged in, you can click on the browse ads button on the upper left portion. Click the first ad that appears then a red button pops. Click it then the ad itself opens on a new window. There is a bar on the left that turns green once you have completed the required time to view. A message then appears that your account has been updated with that visit. Off you go to the next ad to click.



MixBux

Still no sweat on signing up to this site. The ads to click have a clock icon beside them that is colored blue if you haven't clicked on the add for that day. The clock turns to gray once you have finished clicking that link or ad.

As with most PTC sites, it has a 30-second countdown timer on the left upper portion of the ad.

4. Ara-Bux.com

Still no sweat on this one. What's nice about this site is that it gives a sign-in bonus of $0.50. Ara-Bux however requires a $10.00 minimum cash pay outs. That means you have to earn that amount in clicks before you will be able to request payment. MixBux only requires $3.oo minimim pay out, while RoudyCash requires $2.00 for the first payment, $5.oo on the second, and $10.00 from the third payment and onwards.

Once your done clicking the ads, the ads are striked out so you have to wait another day to click them again and earn again.



In this site one click is pegged at $0.005. Minimum cash out is only $2.oo. This site is quite unique in the sense that once the 30 seconds to view the ad is up, a 2 to 4 digit number will appear and you have to click the number indicated by the command that appears too.


It's the same as MixBux with the clock that turns gray once you have clicked that particular ad on that day. The timer is on the right upper side and once it reaches zero a green pop-up pops up(!) telling you that your visit is credited. The site reminds you that you have to wait for this green message to appear for your advertisement credit to be issued. You need at least $3.00 for cash pay-outs.

NG Bux

This site has the same click-the-number game that PerformanceBux has. Not so tricky after all,eh. No minimum amount required for the first three pay-outs.


Still fairly easy to sign-up on buxcorp.com.
Buxcorp
__________________________________
So what are you waiting for? Sign up now and start clicking! For more info-blogs very soon.

Easy Money (First of Two Parts)

There's a new craze right now. It's not about the coolest clothing to wear these days. It's not about the fresh just-out-of-the-oven gadget. It's about earning money. So you have to read on.

Just when I was talking about instant money and ranting about my craving for instant coffee, I was led into this blog which talked about earning money in seconds. Instant money indeed. I'm talking about the Paid To Click (PTC) business which has been famous on the internet of late. My sister has been prodding me to post a blog about this, thus this entry. She just got herself addicted to clicking adds and so did I. This business is really an interesting way to earn money, all you need is a cup of patience and just a few seconds of your precious time.

What it's all about. It's all about clicking ads and viewing them for at least 30 seconds, then after that time is up, your visit is credited to your account. You earn in dollars. Mostly, the PTC sites give you one cent for every validated click. That may seem cheap but if you register to a lot of PTC sites, you have a lot of one cent growing by the day. There is no limit to the number of PTC sites to which you can register and registration is free. Each site will give you at least 5 ads to click. Some would give you 16 links to click. You have to click the ads or the links once a day. So if you have at least five ads to click everyday in at least ten PTC sites, how much would you be earning everyday? Do the math. At least you do something more aside from checking your mail once you sit on your computer chair.

Who's qualified to sign-up. Anybody who's 18 years old and above and has an e-mail address can sign-up to any PTC site. It would be better if you have your own laptop or computer with a reliable internet connection. This business would be the perfect answer to your dream of just working in the comforts of your home, with no boss to answer to. You are your own boss, and you manage your own time.

Getting started. Now that you've gone this far reading this blog, it's time to start the pin rolling. First, you have to set-up your payment processors. The sites would pay you through these payment processors namely, PayPal and Alert Pal. Registration is free. Now click the link below and let's get you trodding on your road to earning easy money.




Sign up for a Personal Pro Account with AlertPay. AlertPay will ask you to be verified. It means that you have to submit some papers to add more credibility to your identity however you can do that later. It's more important to sign-up for a free account now.

onclick="javascript:window.open('https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=xpt/Marketing/popup/OLCWhatIsPayPal-outside','olcwhatispaypal','toolbar=no, location=no, directories=no, status=no, menubar=no, scrollbars=yes, resizable=yes, width=400, height=350');">Solution Graphics

Same goes for PayPal. Open a Personal Account. Skip the part which asks for information about your credit card if you don't have one.

Now that you have finished setting up your payment processors. You can sign up now to the following PTC sites (click here) and let's get you clicking, baby!

I'll be posting more info-blogs after this entry. (Answers to questions that are probably starting to pop in your mind right at this very moment.) But while I start to compose that entry, as for now, enjoy clicking!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My upcoming debut album

No, no, no, no. If you are thinking what I am thinking right now, it is definitely not what's going on. I am not having a career shift at this early point of my life. I'm just feeding one of my deepest frustrations and one of my elusive dreams.





I'm sorry if I tricked you into reading this entry (Bwahahaha!) but lately the band singer in my dreams has been giving me nightmares and has been trying to damage my ears with an eardrum-popping metallic overload. This recurrence started when I read on one of my friends' blogs about a fellow kababayan who is living my dream of being a band singer. I could not be proud enough of her. She is just so amazing.





So I thought, maybe I could, in this blog of mine, in this little world I call mine, post something for the consideration of, well, whoever may want to consider it. It's like me joining a beauty pageant (I am definitely aware that I am the most unlikely candidate for a pageant but I could not think of any contest which would give this scenario) and being asked, "If you had the chance to record a music album, what songs will you sing, and why?" What a question indeed. Of course, that would be after the routine chit-chat of:





Male Host in tuxedo: Are you nervous right now?





Me, the blushing candidate, with a pa-demure smile or else I would show off my big two front teeth: Hmmm, a little. (Then I would have to shrug my shoulders a little bit while I say that to add some pa-cute effect. Well, for whatever it's worth.)





Then so goes the final question. (Yes, that was the final question. We've had enough of questions which could answer themselves "World peace.")





Then I, the nervous candidate would say, "Can you repeat the question, please?"





Then the audience would buzz.





Anyway, these would be my dream upcoming debut album. And what fun it would be, that even in my dreams, I coerce my friends to help me on this one. Everybody is welcome to suggest and help me build my figurative sand castle in the air which, in this case is a music album. I guess this would be a lot of fun.





Warning: This is quite an ambitious album. I advise you to take a deep breath before you continue reading. Unless you badly need to doze into a coma, please prepare a glass of water at hands reach, in case taking a series of deep breaths would not suffice.





1. Mary Jane Shoes by Fergie


Let me try my luck in reggae this time as Fergie does. This song is cute, a feel-good at the start, opening real slow, then almost going berserk in the middle as if the singer is having an episode of tonic-clonic seizure, then she recovers before the song ends. Whew! It gives you just the right dose of adrenaline rush.








2. My Favorite Mistake by Sheryl Crow


This song is for my, yes you guessed it, (insert drumroll here), my favorite mistake. I hope this whole album does not turn out to be one. Seriously, I simply love Sheryl Crow. And I dream to be the Sheryl Crow of the Philippines and add to our nation's versions of almost every celebrity or icon in the world - Elvis Presley of the Philippines, Mariah Carey of the Philippines, Karen Carpenter of the Philippines, Angelina Jolie of the Philippines, etc. Name it, we have it!








3. You Make Me Feel Brand New by Simply Red


Kakaiba ang birit ng singer nito. He shifts from one octave to another like he is just eating chichiria. I even thought it was a duet! I would love to do an acoustic version of this one.








4. Your Song by Elton John


I lost my musical virginity to this song. Before I shock the traditionalists, and before your imagination wanders, (Oh, please..!) I actually mean that this song awakened my musical awareness, my inclination to music. I like this original version better than Ewan McGregor's in Moulin Rouge. I found that one sensationalized in the accompaniments department although that was musically crafted for the movie, and appropriately at that.




Elton John's version, although almost bare in the musicals, actually conveys the essence of the whole song itself. Like a person stripped naked in front of you. So real, with no pretensions and just yours for the taking. "I don't have much money.. - I can so relate to that.. - I'd buy a big house where we both could live"








5. Yellow by Coldplay


I was happy that these guys grabbed a Grammy this year, although that was for another album. Though Chris Martin is usually criticized for the habit he has formed of rhyming his lyrics, he continues to be one of my favorites. The words just pierce through you - Your skin/ Oh yeah your skin and bones/ Turn into something beautiful/ And you know/ For you I'd bleed myself dry/ For you I'd bleed myself dry..








6. You Raise Me Up by Josh Groban


For those who inspired me, loved me as I am, and lifted me up in so many ways - my family, my friends, this one's for you.








7. Strong Enough by Sheryl Crow


I told you I'm serious about becoming the Sheryl Crow of the Philippines. This one's for Girl Power! Another acoustic shot on this one. I was thinking of Sweet Child of Mine but I might have to save that for another album.








8. Realize by Colbie Caillat


I tell you my version would be better. But I still have to figure out how I'm going to do that though. This song is special to me as equally as it is important.








9. Warwick Avenue by Duffy


I was counting on this young lady to bring home a Grammy Award. She's an able singer with a classic voice. Simply gifted. I see the makings of a probable Jewel. I mean the singer, but the gem would do too.


This song is about breaking up. It is brutally honest and frank, giving you no other choice but to head for the door. The vocals and musical arrangement effectively masks the sad message of the song. It feels like being a diabetic having neuropathic pain - you don't really feel the pain of having a nail sticking on your foot, going through your rubber shoes and your socks. Until everything sinks in.




10. Kiss from A Rose by Seal


One of the greatest love songs of all time. Need I say more?




11. Miracle Drug by U2


12. Melt With You by Jason Mraz


______________________________


They say that it doesn't cost a thing to dream. So I dream big. As long as I am sure, it would not empty my pockets. Nudge me a little later from now, maybe after five minutes, so I could wake up. Who knows, a voice class is waiting for me somewhere. Talking about crossing over between fantasy and reality. (LOL!)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Guess what I'm missing right now

Right now, I am craving for a warm cup of my favorite 3-in-1 Instant Nescafe Coffee. When will I have the chance to have one again? Nothing could ever equal to the taste and satisfaction that I have for this 3-in-1. It's one of the instant marvels that I adore and am thankful for.Maybe next to instant noodles. But never next to instant money.

Even those they serve at Starbucks do not pose a threat to the love I have for the coffee I am craving for now. Though I was dying to drop by and have a cup of coffee in one of them shops at New York. I wasn't able to. I tried to have it at the airport but then I was running out of time, after missing my boarding terminal and having to walk back to it pulling my roller bag with my left hand while my bulky garment bag was hanging on my frail right shoulder. Well, maybe Starbucks New York was not for me then.

Probably for now I'll just continue dreaming and yearning of that warm cup of 3-in-1 Nescafe. I promise to treat myself and buy me one whole box of them sachets when I go home.

Friday, February 13, 2009

One, two, three - Smile!

Today I read on my classmate Joey's blog that his grandfather passed away yesterday. Joey is my childhood friend and classmate in grade school. Along with a handful of children, now fully growed up (I hope) and scattered around the Philippines, and even around the globe (wherever their talents may have brought them), we grew up in that small sleepy town which was nestled in the once-virgin forests of Surigao del Sur in Mindanao.

As I continued reading Joey's entry, I started to be teary-eyed when I came to that short part wherein he recounted how his grandfather started to make him dream of big things in life. Perhaps that's what grandparents do best and I am saying that out of experience. After that sentimental part, it was admirable that Joey still managed to inject a little humor into the article and so my tears almost instantly jumped back into my lacrimal glands.



But the passing of Nong Tony, Joey's Lolo, struck a lot of chords in my heart, if you allow me to modify the famous adage. Joey's grandfather is more than just a friend's grandfather to me and he may even be more than a classmate's or a schoolmate's grandfather to all those who knew Joey and went to school with him in that little heaven we called Mangagoy.


For those who don't know yet, the late Nong Tony owned the famous (maybe even the first, I am not sure) photo studio in our place. As a young child, I was always excited when Nong Tony would go to our classrooms and talk to our teachers for a few moments. Then our teachers would tell us that it was time for us to have our class picture taken for that year's yearbook. Oh, that was the perfect excuse from class! One that you wouldn't need to have an excuse letter to submit to your teacher for.


As a class we would go out and choose a spot in the school campus where we want our pictures taken. Our teachers would then "arrange" us little rascals, and Nong Tony would help with that too - this vertically-challenged kid should be on the front, that tall kid there should be at the back. Then when every kid is "in place", Nong Tony, would position himself in front of that little crowd, and while looking through the lenses of his camera and bending his knees a little (lest he would only take a picture of the sky and not us, if he does not do that), he would then say, "One, two, three, smile!" Then the flash lights would go off. And our pictures, with our silly smiles, and bad hairdos would be forever etched in history.


That was how I learned the art of association when I saw Nong Tony inside and outside the campus. Tony's Studio. Camera. Class Picture. One, Two, Three, Smile. And as far as I could remember it was Nong Tony who took our class pictures even when we were already in high school. Practically every kid in school grew up in his eyes through his pictures. Among those shutter moments with him, I could not forget that time when he took my picture for the Grade 6 Yearbook. I guess that moment was unforgettable because that was the time we had our pictures taken individually and not as a class this time. I am sure he also took my Kindergarten picture but I only have a vague memory of that now, unlike that time when I was Grade 6 and posed for his camera and smiled as widely as I could, revealing my big two front teeth. I could even picture the set-up now. Two big studio lights, if I may call them, glaring madly on a stool placed at the center. Some loose powder were on the side table and so I placed some of those (the powder, not the table) on my face. Then I took a seat on the stool and Nong Tony blurted out his famous line again, "One, Two, Three, Smile!" Then the flash light went off and my big two front teeth got there place in history.


Now that I am growed up (I hope), I still haven't recovered from the thrill of having my picture taken. Whether it is for memoir purposes, or to feed my narcissism, or for no reason at all, there is always that certain indescribable bliss that I feel when I smile for the camera. And I realize that Nong Tony was one of those that introduced this little joy, this, which can be, for me one of the best things in life - though not necessarily free.


Joey wrote that his grandfather died in his sleep. I thought what a peaceful way to die. (That is how I want to die when my time comes, if I had the chance to choose.) But anyway, now, that he has left all of us here behind, I bet in his sleep, something went on while he was on that dark tunnel while he was walking towards the light. That dark tunnel may have not been dark at all. A lot of kiddie and growed-up smiles might have brightened his path towards the light, and in chorus echo out to him this time, "You're coming home, Nong Tony, one, two, three, smile!"

Monday, February 9, 2009

The cat chronicles

I knew she was hungry. I could see it through her eyes. So I made a bargain with this snobbish one, that she pose for my camera, and in exchange, I'll fill her plate with cat food. Let's call her Prima.

I believe that that coquettish look is actually hunger pangs on the works. Look at her left paw. It shows that she's about to purr and beg for dinner! I see an opportunity here. Just the perfect timing I've been waiting for.

Me: Hey, can I take your picture? I promise to serve you your dinner right after you pose for me.

Prima: Uh-oh! Not again. (Who's this human by the way? She looks familiar though.)

Me: Please, please, please.









She obliges but not gladly. Those cruel eyes say it. She's just forced to do this for dinner.

Me: Oh can we do that again? Uhmm, I think I can do better. Can you move to your right, please? I promise, dinner time's coming up right after this.















Prima: Okey, okey..

Me: Wow, that's great! Why don't we try another pose?


















Prima: Enough! Where's the cat food that you promised?! I'm not making any more poses. I want my dinner, dinner, dinner! And I don't care if your camera does not focus well this time.

Me: Snob. (Goes to the storage room to get some cat food.)

The criteria of emotional maturity

I saw this short list posted on my aunt's desk. Hmmm, quite interesting. Check it out and see if you have already fulfilled these criteria. As for me, I still got a long way to go, baby!


The Criteria of Emotional Maturity

by William C. Menninger, M.D.



The ability to deal constructively with reality


The capacity to adapt to change


A relative freedom from symptoms that are produced by tensions and anxieties


The capacity to find satisfaction in giving than receiving


The capacity to relate to other people in a consistent manner with mutual satisfaction and helpfulness



The capacity to sublimate, to direct one's instinctive hostile energy into creative and constructive outlets



The capacity to love



There you go. Seems like the last criterion is the simplest one and I thought, "Hey, I could do that!" But eventually I came to realize it is in fact the most difficult thing to do. Because love is encompassing and this love does not only pertain to romantic love, which is most likely our instinctive reaction after reading the last criterion.

It actually could be referring to brotherly love, sisterly love, the love we have for our family, for that matter, love for our friends, our significant others, our love for our Savior, the love we have for our neighbors, our pets, and even the love we have for ourselves, which I think more often than not is something that we leave out. (We don't love ourselves as much as we ought to probably because we do not have that kind of body, that type of nose, that skin color, or we are not as slim as we want to be, or as perfect as we want to be.) It could also be the love we have for what we do and the love we have for the community we belong to.

This criterion actually challenges us to love anyone or anything - lovable or not. I therefore conclude that the simplest (sounding at that, actually) criteria is actually the toughest one to comply to. That is, if we try to think of it and fulfill it in the most holistic sense - that our minds and our hearts can fathom. Happy Valentine's Day, everyone :-)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Spanking didn't kill me either

A couple of days ago, I came across this article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. It was about the author's confession on how she got punished for her childhood mischiefs. The article was entertaining that I caught myself bursting into boisterous laughter while reading it.


It also made me remember the share of spankings I got from my parents when I was yet a kid. Like that author's father, my father also has a temper. He is the disciplinarian in our home and although my father did not go to military academy, he ran the house more like a military general would. He usually prefers the belt when he punishes me and usually it was done in a ceremony. I suspect this ceremony was a part of his being obsessive-compulsive. Before I felt the belt on my behind he would explain that he was doing that because he loves me, then the spanking would commence.


My mother was more resourceful in using what to spank me. She would use a hanger, a piece of broomstick - the tip of that really stings when it hits you -, a slipper, and beat this, chopped wood. You could just imagine how mischievous I was when I was young.


One memory I could not ever forget was when I was about six years old. My mother just arrived from a business trip and she brought home with her this body length mirror which she placed on their bed. I missed my mother badly that time so being around her was enough then. I went to their bedroom where she was, still busy moving about, doing things that I really could not remember vividly now. All I know is that she was busy then. I was contented with her around and so I did not bother to catch my mother's attention but the mirror on the bed caught my attention indeed.


I do not know what I was thinking then but while I was trying to entertain myself I decided to just step on the mirror, and walk on its whole length back and forth, while singing Sharon Cuneta's "Pangarap na Bituin". (And don't ask me why I chose that song. My mother is probably a Sharonian and all we got to watch on television then were the Megastar's shows. Thus my mastery of that song at such a young age.) Anyway, there I was, walking on the mirror, singing that song, "Unti-unting mararating, kalangitan at bit --" when suddenly right after I took my next step the mirror broke. Oh no! My mother turned and was shocked to see what happened. That was how I got spanked with a chopped wood. I think there was some amount of pinching too. Now that I am older , I understand that maybe that was only her reaction, her way of manifesting her shock and fear that I might have been wounded by the broken glass. That was the day I last sang that Sharon song too.


A girl cousin who lived with us also got a taste of Mama's pinching abilities. But she was so good at avoiding it or stopping Mama's hands, that you would think she studied Kung Fu. The chants of "Yah! Yah!" would be replaced by, "No, Ma. Please Ma." Now when I remember that, I could only say, "Move over, Kung Fu Panda.


My mother mellowed down in her spanking methods when we were growing up. Although my sister did not go through all the spanking I got, (now again, a testimony to a naughty me), she also had her share of punishments mainly in the form of not being allowed to watch hers or our favorite television shows or not getting some stuffs that we wanted. There were even times when punishments were not in mode anymore, only sermons. You know how mothers do that. It could take hours and even days, that you wished you were just spanked.


I could remember exchanging notes (read: punishment strategies of parents) with my playmates then, and other ways of punishment included the most popular kneeling on rock salt, or even on monggo beans. My father would also recount how his parents would punish them. They were made to get inside a sack and the sack with them inside it will be hanged on the ceiling of their living room. Other punishments were more on the mild side like being made to kneel and pray in front of the altar, and being spanked with a pillow. Wow! I would have loved that!


I was amused recently that some forms of these punishment are still being practiced and are even undergoing uhm, improvements. Modifications would be the right word. My girl friend's cousin was made to kneel in front of the altar. No monggo beans or rock salt were under her knees but she had to wait until the lighted candle on the altar would burn out all the way to the tip of its wick. Maybe one candle would be bearable somehow, but the mother lighted two candles.


I am sure we can only laugh now as we look back at those experiences. More likely, there are no more traces of the skin redness caused by the pinch, or pain caused by the belt buckle or leather, or the tip of that broomstick, or the roughness of that chopped firewood.
Each parent will have his or her own way of instilling discipline on their children. Others spank their children a lot, believing that sparing the child of the rod would spoil the child. Others are not so comfortable with spanking their kids and thus prefer other methods of disciplining their kids. Well, each to his own. As for me, and maybe for most of those belonging to my generation (Am I really that old? Uh-oh!), I'm just glad I got a little spanking from my mom and dad. And most of all, I thank God, I got out of that little spanking alive.

Miracle at the Hudson



Along these waters, a miracle occured around three weeks ago when the U.S. Airways Flight 1549, a commercial passenger flight headed for North Carolina, made it to the (North) Hudson River, after losing thrust in both engines when it struck a flight of birds while on climb out. All 155 persons on board were alive. Wow.

Yesterday, the cockpit tapes were released and it revealed how calm the pilot, Captain "Sully" Sullenberger was amidst the crisis. Amazing.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Reincarnated

Please pardon the silence which overpowered this blog for a long time.

I crossed time zones in the past month and went down with colds, fever, and a little cough, along with jet lag. I caught the cold just before I left the Philippines. The cough and fever followed through like they had to.

I could not imagine how I managed to survive that wicked recipe of whatever. I got a frog on my throat then and my voice was really reduced to a croak. When my worried mother would send me text messages asking how my voice was, I would joke, "Mura'g ulitawong baka." Now help me translate that to English please. :-)

Fever was on and off, intermittent in medical jargon, and my body clock was in a total mess. Top that with the worst case of colds I ever had in my whole life! I would rather not go into the details of how bad that case of colds was but I surely was glad that I readied a bunch of hankies on my hand carry or else, I do not know what I would have done then. I took a handful of decongestants but I suspected they caused a really ugly rebound. Oh well.

When my plane landed on Detroit, Michigan, I had the first view of what snow looks like. I suspected there was a snow storm going on when we arrived at the United States. Everything was snowy white - so that's how it looks like! My seat mate even exclaimed that she thought we were still above the clouds and we haven't landed yet! The flight attendant advised the passengers to take caution while walking on the plane side because a considerable amount of snow managed to find their way there and that could make the plane side slippery.

I admit I was excited to see snow for the first time. In fact, by the time of this writing, my excitement has not dwindled a bit yet, even after I played with snow for a while in New York. I realized what people say is true, you become a child again when you see snow for the first time. You want to play with it, just scatter it around, make a snow ball out of it, throw it at your playmates, make your own snowman and see how it melts after.

Unfortunately, the snow at Detroit just flirted with me. I saw the snow on the plane side but I had to practice a little decency and stop myself from touching it. When I tried to look at it closely, the snow reminded me of Ajinomoto crystals which my grandmother was fond of using when she cooks. My first encounter with snow was also my first encounter with veeeeery cold weather, the one that makes your mouth emit some kind of smoke when you speak or breathe through it. Bbbbrrrr...!

The excitement somehow took a backseat for a while when I lined up at the immigration area. The immigration officer was suspicious - to put it mildly - when I mentioned that my purpose of coming to their country was to appear for an interview. I understand their concern because, given the financial crisis that is striking everybody everywhere, the United States included, they would not want their country men to be deprived of jobs by foreigners like me. The immigration officers, there were two of them, grilled me for around fifteen minutes. I know that was spending a long time standing in front of that immigration desk because the long row that followed me was reduced to nothing at all when I looked back. Those who were next in line probably transferred to others lines which had faster turnovers. Somehow I managed to survive that grilling and I had to proceed to the baggage claim carousel to get my luggage and recheck those at the counter again.

I spent another 20 minutes at least in waiting for my luggage to be on the carousel and another 10 minutes in lining up for another security check. After I went through all those, I barely had 20 minutes to look for my gate. I was almost in a trance of panic, afraid that my plane would leave without me in it. I was walking fast, running again, walking again, and running again on the walkalators (Kudos to whoever thought of those running floors :-) Thank God I found my gate. The attendant must have seen me run really fast towards the gate because she commented, "That was fast!" I just replied with a smile while I handed to her my boarding pass, panting and catching for my breath at the same time.

I got on my seat on my plane to Memphis, Tennessee. The snow continued to flirt with me when I glanced at the window. I allowed it to flirt with me then, knowing that eventually I will have a chance to answer to that flirtation, in a few days time. My plane did not take off immediately though, because the crew at the airport had to clean its outside with a reddish solution to wipe off the snow. There goes the flirtatious snow. Then I remembered what my seatmate on the plane said, yes the one that thought we haven't landed yet. She knew it was my first time to see snow. She's Pinoy. She told me, "Congratulations. But you'll get sick of it (snow) after a while." Then we laughed.

Maybe that time will come. But for now I'll just take my time and enjoy this another kind of high that I am in now.



SNOW CLAD. Mt. Fuji in Japan, as viewed on the plane window. It is the highest mountain in Japan, and one of its "Three Holy Mountains," with Mount Tate and Mount Haku. Actually an active volcano that erupted last 1707-1708, its exceptionally symmetrical cone is a well-known symbol of Japan. Reminds us pretty much of our very own Mt. Mayon in Albay. :-)

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