Thursday, December 29, 2011

Philippine Christmas

Christmas: A National Fiesta

The Philippines, similarly to Spain,  has one of the longest and merriest Christmas celebration. It begins formally on December 16 with the first of nine pre-dawn or early morning masses and continues on nonstop until the first Sunday of January, Feast of the Three Kings, the official end of the season. 

Being  a predominantly Roman Catholic country, the only Asian country where Christians predominate,  Christmas, therefore, is an extremely important and revered holiday for most Filipinos.  It is a time for family, for sharing, for giving, and a time for food, fun, and friendship.

The bamboo parol (pah-role), or star lantern, is the symbol of Christmas in the Philippines, representing the guiding light, the star of Bethlehem.   It emits a warmth unparalleled among holiday adornments and is unique to the Philippines.  Many Filipinos make their own lantern and it is common to compete in making the best lantern.
Recently, Filipinos have begun choosing wreaths and other decorations made with local native materials rather than those patterned after western designs.  And many houses, particularly those in the urban areas are strung with tiny multi-colored lights both inside and out. Most Filipinos think that decorating their homes for the Christmas holidays is a must.

Filipino Christmas Traditions
Christmas in the Philippines is a mixture of Western and native Filipino traditions.  Santa Claus, the Christmas tree, sending Christmas cards, and singing carols have all been inherited from the cultures of the West.   However, these have all been  adapted to fit the nature and personality of the Filipino people.

Christmas Eve in the Philippines is one of the traditions most families celebrate.  It is a night without sleep and a continuous celebration moving right into Christmas Day.  As December 24th dawns, the last Mass of Simbang Gabi is attended; then preparation begins for Noche Buena, which is a family feast that takes place after midnight.

The Noche Buena is very much like an open house celebration.  Family, friends, relatives, and neighbors drop by to wish every family member "Maligayang Pasko" (Merry Christmas).  Food is  in abundance, often served in buffet style.   Guests or visitors partake of the food prepared by the host family (even though they are already full or bloated!). 

Among the typical foods prepared in the Philippines during Christmas are: lechon (roasted pig), pancit, barbecue, rice, adobo, cakes (Western and native rice cakes), lumpia, etc.  There is also an abundance of San Miguel beer, wine, and liquor, which makes the celebration of Christmas indeed intoxicating!  

Christmas day is a popular day for children to visit their uncles, aunts, godmothers, and godfathers.  At each home they are presented with a gift, usually candy, money,  or a small toy.  Food and drinks are also offered at each stop.  It is a day of family closeness, and everyone wishes good cheer and glad tidings.

In the Philippines the countdown to New Year varies depending on family or even region. At the strike of midnight, the noise becomes deafening with firecrackers shooting and blooming in the sky while everyone gape in awe.
The banging and booming rise to a climax as people make noise by clanging old pots and pans, blowing a jeepney, car or tricycle’s horns, using assorted whistles, firecrackers to any kind of noise both awful or simply maddening. For children who wishes to grow taller in the new year, adults cajole them to jump 12 times around midnight in hopes of getting their wish fulfilled. Similar to other Asian countries, the loud noises and sounds of merrymaking are not only meant to celebrate the New Year but are supposed to drive away bad spirits.

After midnight the family also gather for a thanksgiving feast called Media Noche (midnight meal). Filipinos believe having a food-laden dinner table augurs well for the coming year and brings good luck. At least 12 round fruits are placed in the fruit basket as a sign of prosperity for the next 12 months. All-time favourite dishes such as noodles (for long life), pork, beef, chicken, rice cakes and assorted sweets are served. For Catholics there is also a midnight mass to welcome the New Year.

Long live Philippine festive traditions!
              365 Great Pinoy Stuff

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas in Spain

Source:  Deck the holidays
Christmas is a deeply religious holiday in Spain. The country's patron saint is the Virgin Mary and the Christmas season officially begins December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. It is celebrated each year in front of the great Gothic cathedral in Seville with a ceremony called los Seises or the "dance of six." Oddly, the elaborate ritual dance is now performed by not six but ten elaborately costumed boys. It is a series of precise movements and gestures and is said to be quite moving and beautiful.

Typical X'mas delicacies
Christmas Eve is known as Nochebuena or "the Good Night." It is a time for family members to gather together to rejoice and feast around the Nativity scenes that are present in nearly every home. A traditional Christmas treat is turron, a kind of almond candy.

December 28 is the feast of the Holy Innocents. Young boys of a town or village light bonfires and one of them acts as the mayor who orders townspeople to perform civic chores such as sweeping the streets. Refusal to comply results in fines which are used to pay for the celebration.

As in many European countries, the children of Spain receive gifts on the feast of the Epiphany. The Magi are particularly revered in Spain. It is believed that they travel through the countryside reenacting their journey to Bethlehem every year at this time. Children leave their shoes on the windowsills and fill them with straw, carrots, and barley or the horses of the Wise Men. Their favorite is Balthazar who rides a donkey and is the one believed to leave the gifts.

Source:  Christmas Around the World

Celebrating Christmas is a joyful event and it is filled with a lot of food preparation and gathering with family and friends.  For those of us who have emigrated to a different country to raise our own family, we tend to adapt our traditions to those observed where  we have  settled in.  But no matter where we are, the feeling of joy is still the same, for it is the  festive event of the birth of our Saviour that kindles the special gladness that comes only once a year specially on Christmas day.  Peace and joy to men.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Soldier's Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and he lived all alone
In a one bedroom house made of plaster and stone.
I had come down the chimney with presents to give
And to see just whom in this home did live.

I looked all about and a strange sight did I see
No tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.
No stocking by the mantle, just boots filled with sand
On the wall hung pictures of a far distant land.

With medals and badges, awards of all kinds

A sober thought came to my mind
For this house was different, dark and dreary
It was the house of a soldier, I now could see clearly.

The soldier lay sleeping, silent, alone
Curled up on the floor in this one bedroom home.
The face was so gentle, the room in disorder
Not how I pictured a United States soldier.

Was this the hero of whom I had read?
Curled up on a poncho, the floor for a bed?
I realized the families I saw on this night
Owed their lives to this soldier who was willing to fight.

Soon ‘round the world the children would play
And grown-ups would celebrate a bright Christmas day.
They all enjoyed freedom, each month of the year
Because of the soldiers like the one laying here.

I couldn’t help wonder how many lay alone
On a cold Christmas Eve in a land from home.
The very thought brought a tear to my eye
And I dropped to my knees and started to cry.

The soldier awakened and I heard a rough voice
”Santa, don’t cry, this life is my choice.
I fight for freedom, I don’t ask for more
My life is my God, my Country, my Corps.”

The soldier rolled over and drifted to sleep
And I couldn’t control it, I started to weep.
I kept watch for hours, so silent and still
And we both shivered from the cold night’s chill.

I didn’t want to leave on that cold, dark night
This Guardian of Honor so willing to fight.
The soldier rolled over and with a voice soft and pure
Whispered, “Carry on, Santa, it’s Christmas Day, all is secure.”

One look at my watch and I knew he was right
Merry Christmas, my friend, and to all a Good Night.

This poem was submitted by a Soldier stationed in Iraq.
The following is his request. I think it is reasonable.....

"PLEASE. Would you do me the kind favor
of sending this to as many people
as you can? Christmas will be coming
soon and some credit is due to our
service men and women for our being able
to celebrate these festivities."

Let's try in this small way to pay a
tiny bit of what we owe. Make people stop and
think of our heroes, living and dead,
who sacrificed themselves.
Please pass it on to all your friends and family...

Source: Net

Saturday, December 24, 2011


Flash mob sings Hallelujah chorus in food court.

Posted By jamesw72 about a year ago from jamesw72 on GodTube.

At noon on November 13, 2010 unsuspecting shoppers got a surprise while enjoying their lunch. A flash mob singing the Hallelujah Chorus!

This should be done in all cities and spread the good tidings of the birth of the most important "Someone" in our lives.

Happy Christmas to all.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Little Match Girl - Hans Christian Andersen

Source of Image:  El
Once upon a time . . . a little girl tried to make a living by selling matches in the street.

It was New Year's Eve and the snowclad streets were deserted. From brightly lit windows came the tinkle of laughter and the sound of singing. People were getting ready to bring in the New Year. But the poor little matchseller sat sadly beside the fountain. Her ragged dress and worn shawl did not keep out the cold and she tried to keep her bare feet from touching the frozen ground. She hadn't sold one box of matches all day and she was frightened to go home, for her father would certainly be angry. It wouldn't be much warmer anyway, in the draughty attic that was her home. The little girl's fingers were stiff with cold. If only she could light a match! But what would her father say at such a waste! Falteringly she took out a match and lit it. What a nice warm flame! The little matchseller cupped her hand over it, and as she did so, she magically saw in its light a big brightly burning stove.

She held out her hands to the heat, but just then the match went out and the vision faded. The night seemed blacker than before and it was getting colder. A shiver ran through the little girl's thin body.

After hesitating for a long time, she struck another match on the wall, and this time, the glimmer turned the wall into a great sheet of crystal. Beyond that stood a fine table laden with food and lit by a candlestick. Holding out her arms towards the plates, the little matchseller seemed to pass through the glass, but then the match went out and the magic faded. Poor thing: in just a few seconds she had caught a glimpse of everything that life had denied her: warmth and good things to eat. Her eyes filled with tears and she lifted her gaze to the lit windows, praying that she too might know a little of such happiness.

She lit the third match and an even more wonderful thing happened. There stood a Christmas tree hung with hundreds of candles, glittering with tinsel and coloured balls. "Oh, how lovely!" exclaimed the little matchseller, holding up the match. Then, the match burned her finger and flickered out. The light from the Christmas candles rose higher and higher, then one of the lights fell, leaving a trail behind it. "Someone is dying," murmured the little girl, as she remembered her beloved Granny who used to say: "When a star falls, a heart stops beating!"

Scarcely aware of what she was doing, the little matchseller lit another match. This time, she saw her grandmother.

"Granny, stay with me!" she pleaded, as she lit one match after the other, so that her grandmother could not disappear like all the other visions. However, Granny did not vanish, but gazed smilingly at her. Then she opened her arms and the little girl hugged her crying: "Granny, take me away with you!"

A cold day dawned and a pale sun shone on the fountain and the icy road. Close by lay the lifeless body of a little girl surrounded by spent matches. "Poor little thing!" exclaimed the passersby. "She was trying to keep warm!"

But by that time, the little matchseller was far away where there is neither cold, hunger nor pain.

Source: Kaboose

Christmas to many consists of a lot of buying, spending and eating, however there are a lot more of those who can only look at windows to see what they cannot have and much less eat. Let us remember the sadness in some other people hearts this Christmas and help to make some needy people smile in our own way and make a difference. These people can be nameless just like the story of Hans Christian Anderson, because they can be anybody around us waiting for a chance to have a different day.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Meaningful Christmas Tradition

Image from photobucket
It's just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past 10 years or so.

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas---oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it-overspending...the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma---the gifts given in desperation because you couldn't think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.

Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended; and shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church, mostly black.

These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes.

As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler's ears.

It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford. Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn't acknowledge defeat.

Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, "I wish just one of them could have won," he said. "They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them."

Mike loved kids-all kids-and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball and lacrosse. That's when the idea for his present came.

That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church.

On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me.

His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years.

For each Christmas, I followed the tradition---one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on.

The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal it's contents.

As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn't end there.

You see, we lost Mike last year due to dreaded cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning, it was joined by three more. Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad.
Source:  Bienvenido E. Estipona
Every family keeps its Christmas tradition, but in as much as we all would like to stick to our own tradition, sometimes there are occasions when we cannot do so by force of circumstances.  All we can do is to look forward to the next Christmas hoping that by then, things will work out just as we want them to be and be able to get back to tradition.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote

Image courtesy of Random House
A Christmas Memory" is a short story by Truman Capote. Originally published in Mademoiselle magazine in December 1956, it was reprinted in The Selected Writings of Truman Capote in 1963. It was issued in a stand-alone hardcover edition by Random House in 1966, and it has been published in many editions and anthologies since.

The largely autobiographical story, which takes place in the 1930s, describes a period in the lives of the seven-year-old narrator and an elderly woman (in her 60's)  who is his distant cousin and best friend. The evocative narrative focuses on country life, friendship, and the joy of giving during the Christmas season, and it also gently yet poignantly touches on loneliness and loss.

Now a holiday classic, "A Christmas Memory" has been broadcast, recorded, filmed, and staged multiple times, in award-winning productions.

"A Christmas Memory" is about a young boy, referred to as "Buddy," and his older cousin, "Sook". The boy is the narrator, and his older cousin — who is eccentric and childlike — is his best friend. They live in a house with other relatives, who are authoritative and stern, and have a dog named Queenie.

The family is very poor, but Buddy looks forward to Christmas this year nevertheless, and he and his elderly cousin save their pennies for this occasion. Every year at Christmastime, Buddy and his friend collect raisins and buy whiskey — from a scary American Indian bootlegger named Haha Jones — and many other ingredients to make fruitcakes. They send the cakes to acquaintances they have met only once or twice, and to people they've never met at all, like President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

This year, after the two have finished the elaborate four-day production of making fruitcakes, the elderly cousin decides to celebrate by finishing off the remaining whiskey in the bottle. This leads to the two of them becoming drunk, and being severely reprimanded by angry relatives.

The next day Buddy and his friend go to a faraway grove, which the elderly cousin has proclaimed the best place, by far, to chop down Christmas trees. They manage to take back a large and beautiful tree, despite the arduous trek back home.

They spend the following days making decorations for the tree and presents for the relatives, Queenie, and each other. Buddy and the older cousin keep their gifts to each other a secret, although Buddy assumes his friend has made him a kite, as she has for the last three years. He has made her a kite, too.

Come Christmas morning, the two of them are up at the crack of dawn, anxious to open their presents. Buddy is extremely disappointed, having received the rather dismal gifts of old hand-me-downs and a subscription to a religious magazine. His friend has gotten the somewhat better gifts of Satsuma oranges and hand-knitted scarves. Queenie gets a bone.

Then they exchange their joyful presents to each other: the two kites. In a beautiful hidden meadow, they fly the kites that day in the clear winter sky, while eating the older cousin's Christmas oranges. The elderly cousin thinks of this as heaven, and says that God and heaven must be like this.

It is their last Christmas together. The following year, the boy is sent to military school. Although Buddy and his friend keep up a constant correspondence, this is unable to last because his elderly cousin suffers more and more the ravages of old age, and slips into dementia. Soon, she is unable to remember who Buddy is, and not long after, she passes away.

As Buddy says later: "And when that happens, I know it. A message saying so merely confirms a piece of news some secret vein had already received, severing me from an irreplaceable part of myself, letting it loose like a kite string. That is why, walking across a school campus on this particular December morning, I keep searching the sky. As if I expected to see, rather like hearts, a lost pair of kites hurrying towards heaven."

Source: Wikipedia

No matter where we live or how old we are, Christmas memories from our childhood have a special glow about them.  It can be a longed-for gift we finally received, or gave to someone special. Christmas ornaments and decorations, the songs we play and sing, and even when we open our presents, these all form lasting memories and traditions. Whatever it is, we all try to remember  only the fond memory.

May you all cherish  beautiful Christmas memories  and pass them on.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Gift

Christmas season is among us -
and shoppers are on the fly,
running around like crazy,
looking for gifts to buy.

Looking for that perfect gift -
it seems so hard to find,
to give to that special someone,
who lingers in your mind.

So out the door and to the store -
and to the Mall again,
got to find that perfect gift,
to give to that dear one.

Finally tired and all worn out -
and about to fall apart.
But if you look - it's always been,
right there within your heart!

A gift that money just can't buy -
for it comes from God above,
a gift to cherish for a lifetime,
it's called the "Gift" of love!

So if you can't find what you look for -
it won't be on your list.
You'll have to search from deep within,
to give someone the "Gift!"

Written and Submitted By:
Deacon Steve A. Politte (DeaconSteve)

Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 2, 2011

Winter Time in New York

Rockefeller Center, NYC
Now, looking back 27 years ago since I have gone to live in New York city, I remember the hardship of the city life and the unbearable cold temperature I had to undergo  in wintertime.  It was the constant daily hustle of  rushing back and forth from work, specially complicated when it snowed and drizzled having to coordinate with an unbrella and at the same time making sure I did not fall on a slippery walk.  The tv dinners, I had to share with my roommate, when it was too cold to eat out and it was so cozy to get snugged in a warm blanket while enjoying a tv show.

But on a good winter day, it was fun watching the people skating in Rockefeller Center, while eating some charcoal roasted chestnuts.  As it was also fun, inspite of  having to get in long queue,  to finally get an entrance to  see a show in Broadway or in Radio City Music Hall with the stage that kept the audience at awe and with constant surprises everytime the curtains drew apart.  As it was also a great experience to watch so many elegant people just walking by in the plushy districts of the East Side in contrast with the creepy environment of some of the streets in the West End.

Finding bargains in some nooks and odd places were also a fun time specially when I needed something to wear urgently for one day and did not want to rent a dress but surprise a date with a different look.

I remember also  with nostalgia the happy times when I shared laughter and why not some tears with newly found friends.

But not to forget,  the scary moments when I had to be in the middle of two men shooting each other while I was behind a post trying to get out of range, or when I was being followed by a huge black man on 42nd street (which at that time was filled with sex shops and sex movies) only to discover later on  that he was just trying to make fun of my tiny steps, or while cycling in Central Park, a freaky guy would throw stones at me and run away.

Memories and experiences  gone by,  and yet somehow became a part of  who I am today.

Source of image:  El

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What It Takes To Be A Hero

Just being kind can make you a hero
By: Elizabeth Lolarga
Philippine Inquirer

As the observance of National Heroes Day approaches, high-school students from the Community of Learners in San Juan City share their thoughts on what heroism is, and how they can go about being heroes in their own small way.

David Yap writes, “Being a hero isn’t that complicated. Doing big things doesn’t make a hero, but being unusually kind and generous gets you there pretty quickly. Heroes are people who are true to themselves, yet can still put others’ needs first. Just simply picking up trash and putting them in the garbage bin or saving a weaker kid from bullies is already the mark of a hero. You don’t have to be big and buff. Nor do you need super strength. Doing simple things where you put others before yourself makes you a hero.”

Kimberly Yu agrees that a simple gesture like “telling someone his or her shoelace is untied can help a lot. Even going to work on time or taking a sick friend’s shift is heroic. Let the old lady or the little kid go first in the bathroom when you’re in a line. These are simple acts of heroism. It would be great to make a habit out of it. Such acts of helping somebody not to trip, pee in their pants or get fired from work may not mean a lot to the world, but they do for certain people.”

Franco Gargantiel writes, “Heroism isn’t all about dying for your country or fighting for freedom and basic rights. It’s also about being a role model for others and doing what’s right. Recycling paper is also significant. Heroism is an act that shows valor and chivalry. It is also found in the smallest acts.

Like his classmates, Junald de Guzman thinks “being a hero doesn’t automatically mean doing something big and being on the cover of newspapers and magazines. Heroism means doing something for someone, or something, whether it’s for a person, an animal or nature itself. A hero isn’t just someone who stops a bank robbery or saves a little boy trapped in a well. A hero is someone who does something for others, even if no one notices it.”

Today´s youth are weaning from Batman, Spider Man, the X-Men, Astro Boy and other comic superheroes, and are casting instead for real, flesh-and-blood heroes who are not imbued with superhuman powers, but with the wisdom to know that a simple act can be converted into an act of heroism. That it is in everyone's possibility to be a hero in his own way.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Story of Two Angels

Two traveling angels stopped to spend the night in the home of a wealthy family.
The family was rude and refused to let the angels stay in the mansion's guest room.
Instead the angels were given a small space in the cold basement.
As they made their bed on the hard floor, the older angel saw a hole in the wall and repaired it.

When the younger angel asked why, the older angel replied,
"Things aren't always what they seem"

The next night the pair came to rest at the house of a very poor, but very hospitable farmer and his wife.

After sharing what little food they had the couple let the angels sleep in their bed where they could have a good night's rest.

When the sun came up the next morning the angels found the farmer and his wife in tears.

Their only cow, whose milk had been their sole income, lay dead in the field.

The younger angel was infuriated and asked the older angel how could you have let this happen?
The first man had everything, yet you helped him, she accused.

The second family had little but was willing to share everything, and you let the cow die..

"Things aren't always what they seem," the older angel replied.

"When we stayed in the basement of the mansion, I noticed there was gold stored in that hole in the wall.

Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share his good fortune, I sealed the wall so he wouldn't find it."

"Then last night as we slept in the farmers bed, the angel of death came for his wife, I gave him the cow instead.

Things aren't always what they seem."

Sometimes that is exactly what happens when things don't turn out the way they should. If you have faith, you just need to trust that every outcome is always to your advantage. You just might not know it until some time later...

Author Unknown

Source: Net

Monday, November 28, 2011

Michael Bublé - Christmas Songs

The Christmas season, the holiday season, or simply the holidays is an annual festive period that surrounds Christmas and various holidays. While we most often think about Christmas as a single day, it is actually a season of the year. In its popular sense, it extends four weeks before Christmas Day and for two weeks after. However, the time before Christmas is a special season called Advent, comprising the four Sundays before Christmas Day.  Source:  The Voice

Today is the first Sunday of Advent.  We start to see Christmas commercials on tv and on publishing materials, and the streets start to gain decorations and luster.  Christmas  is already in the air as wind drifts and leaves fall, another season of cheers has began.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Day Celebration

Thanksgiving Day, celebrated on the fourth Thursday in the month of November, every year, is essentially a harvest festival. It is a time characterized with lot of fun and frolic, gifting, family feasting, community praying etc.

Thanksgiving is most jubilated in the countries of America and Canada. These countries witness a lot of fervor and zeal among its residents. It is a time to thank not only God for a bountiful harvest, but also your fellow for their continuous support and care.

Parades, fetes and fairs, eating at restaurants, shopping are an inherent part of the festive celebration. Football game is closely associated with thanksgiving celebration in America. Foot ball matches are organised every year to mark the occasion. Thanksgiving weekend is also the official beginning of the Christmas season in America.

It is also celebrated in parts of Asia, Africa under different names. The theme behind all the celebrations is uniform- being grateful to Lord Almighty and your fellow men.

Source: SCFI

Here are some  quotes on Thanksgiving Day:

It is delightfully easy to thank God for the grace we ourselves have received, but it requires great grace to thank God always for the grace given to others. ~James Smith

Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds. ~Theodore Roosevelt

Thanksgiving is America's national chow-down feast, the one occasion each year when gluttony becomes a patriotic duty. ~Michael Dresser

Source:  Quote Garden

Happy Thanksgiving Day to all!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I Hope You Dance - Lee Ann Womack

Here is an inspirational song on "Never Losing Hope".

I hope you dance once in a while even when you think you lack the rythmn!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Two Brothers - Happy Birthdays

Passion for beer, love of food, and appreciation for family traditions.  These characterize my two nephews.  They are similar and yet very different in sizes and shapes.  They were borne on the same date on November 19, but exactly two years apart, a perfect timing by mother nature.

Raised through the Catholic doctrine, devout and religious,  both have a talent to sing and dance like crooners and entertainers, inherited from their Dad.  Both have a happy attitude towards life and are hard working and borne to strive for the best, guided by their Mom and Dad.

Happy birthdays to both of you, and may God shower you with more of His Blessings with peace, good health and joy!  Cheers!

Here is an Irish Joke for you today:

Irishman's Two Brothers
An Irishman walks into a pub. The bartender asks him, "What'll you have?"
The man says, "Give me three pints of Guinness please."
So the bartender brings him three pints and the man proceeds to alternately sip one, then the other, then the third until they're gone. He then orders three more.
The bartender says, "Sir, you don't have to order three at a time. I can keep an eye on it and when you get low I'll bring you a fresh cold one."
The man says, "You don't understand. I have two brothers, one in Australia and one in the States. We made a vow to each other that every Saturday night we'd still drink together. So right now, my brothers have three Guinness Stouts too, and we're drinking together.”
The bartender thought that was a wonderful tradition. Every week the man came in and ordered three beers.
Then one week he came in and ordered only two. He drank them and then ordered two more. The bartender said to him, "I know what your tradition is, and I'd just like to say that I'm sorry that one of your brothers died."
The man said, "Oh, me brothers are fine -- I just quit drinking."

Source:  Funny Hub

Friday, November 18, 2011

Bags In Style


The bags by Antonio Lobato, which are sold in  "Julia y Belén" (Goya, 17), are mixed with jewelries and furniture as if they were in your own house.

Mother and daughter Julia y Belén, have designed their store so that they can present their products far from the boring and conventional showcases.

The bags  prices oscillate from 99,95 euros up to 134,95 euros.

In this time of economic crisis, luxury items are even less affordable for the middle class, but everyone can always look around and dream, why not?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Old Lady and One Euro, Short Story

Yesterday, as I opened the locker where I kept my things before I entered the supermarket in the city,  I dropped my coin of 1 Euro.  I looked for several seconds, minutes maybe while people kept passing by unmindful of my dilemma.  I kept on looking around on the floor, moving around and about, but the floor was of different shades and with a peculiar design which did not make it easy for me at all to find my coin. I was about to give up and let it go thinking that somebody will eventually find it and make good use of it, when an old lady (probably in her 80's) came by to ask me:

"What is the matter? Maybe I can be of some help".   I thanked her for the offer and mentioned about the missing coin while thinking  "if I cannot find my coin with my eyes, how can you at your age?"  She probably read my mind because she said: "Well, I may not be able to bend to pick up the coin, but I can help you to locate it, four eyes are better than two".

I smiled at her and extended my gratitude again.   But as if by magic and almost simultaneously, as I turned to the spot near me, where I looked and looked before and did not find the coin, I heard the sound of the drop of a coin, and alas!  there it was, too close not to have been noticed before, but seemed to have been dropped out of nowhere. I looked at the old lady again and gave her another smile of gratitude, wanting to give her a big hug, but afraid it would probably be too much for her fragile body, as she returned my smile and walked away.

One Euro, only one Euro, bu enough to give me a joyful day!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Endemic Flowers of the Philippines

Waling-Waling or Vanda sanderiana, is described as the "Queen of Philippine Orchids". One of the largest species in the world, Waling-Waling was discovered by German Taxonomist Heinrich Gustav Reicheinback in Mindanao in 1882. Since then, it has become the most sought-after flower in Mindanao. The discovery of Waling-Waling has influenced another thousand colorful and attractive vandaceous hybrids that are now part of the world's multibillion-dollar orchid and cutflower industry. 

Waling-Waling, the rarest and most beautiful orchid is  famous for its large and colorful hybrids. It grows on tree trunks in the rainforests of Davao, Sultan Kudarat and other parts of Mindanao. It blooms only once a year, between July and October. However, the continuous plunder of this prized specimen has brought it to near extinction. 

Source:  TxMania

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Story of The Prodigal Son

Photo by Ronald
Once upon a time, there was this prodigal son who by force of destiny, had gone astray from his family.  But by choice, he decided to return to his roots, once his obligations already allowed  him to do so.

But then when he returned and with a child,  he found out that his father has died and that the mother has been attended all this time that he was gone, by the rest of the siblings.  And that one has gained authority inspite of not being the oldest in the family, after having taken care of all of the mother's needs in all aspects.

Although the mother celebrated the return of the prodigal son, the latter was faced  with several impediments.  One of the siblings, who took the main authority, no longer wanted to cede the place that he now occupies in the family, feeling that he has gained entitlement to it and by virtue of the years that he held this authority, considered that  he has gained full right to the title.  He did not  want to discuss the matter of authority and would rather stay in his comfort zone.

So the prodigal son, thought it necessary to call the rest of the siblings as witnesses so someone can act as the jury, but not before saying that  the jury must be quiet until the complete hearing was done, from both sides.  But then the second of the siblings started to interrupt and gave what he considered to be a neutral counsel,  without consciously  knowing that by doing so, he was disobeying the order of the prodigal son and perpetuating a defense for the one in possession of authority.   The second sibling finally said:  you must settle your differences first with the one holding authority, and keep  me out of your disputes, because I cannot do anything about it.

Another sibling said that it was okay for the prodigal son to come back, but does not think it seemed right to have the prodigal son come back with his child, although he ventured that the prodigal son, has the choice to bring his child, and it depends on the prodigal son whether he wants to do so or not.  But not before having given previously the full invitation for both prodigal son and child.   To which, the prodigal son thought: "how can I come home with a partial invitation now, when at first, he gave me a full invitation to me and my child, and I already made a promise to my child that I will bring him along with me?  He was faced with a dilemma, since now  the full invitation has been withdrawn to change it to a partial one with  an indication  of  "take your child against my advice as you wish, but don't forget that it is against my advice".  Although his child is an adult now, the prodigal son thought that he still has his responsibility towards him.

So he went to the same sibling and asked again:  Please can you re-consider since my child is old enough not to give a problem of any kind in cumplying with my obligations with our mother, I just want to present my child to the rest of the family to see for himself how they live and pay respect to his grandma.  And yet, the same reply was given:  "I told you once, and I am telling you twice:  I do not think that you can give full attention to our mother, if you bring your child with you, and do not ask me again because you will no longer receive any  answer from me",  so he replied, almost angrily.

The prodigal son was at a loss, so he turned again to the three siblings and said: " Please, just let me be with Mother for a week or so and let us celebrate my return together with my child, because I  do not have any intention of taking away your authority in the family but I just want to celebrate with you a reconciliation in the eyes of our mother.  So that together we can be happy instead of waiting someday to meet and cry before her grave.  The prodigal son knew that, just like when his father died, he will not be present in a celebration of grief and condolences, it was just not one of his principles.

But all the efforts and pleas of the prodigal son were all received with "NAY, NAY, NAY".  So the prodigal son just bowed his head and prayed.  He prayed that someday his siblings will realize that he comes back with a mission of peace, that he realizes that for the long time that has elapsed since he left, his siblings no longer know him as who he is today, that his intentions are noble and honest, but on the other hand, the prodigal son realizes that he should be patient and wait until his siblings face the reality, so that he can be received as the new person that he now has turned into, a better and wholesome member of the family, an asset never a liability to be given the right to the place where he belongs as a respectable part of a family nucleus.

Thoughts, thoughts, thoughts, only my thoughts.

Monday, November 14, 2011

What Determines the Richness of a Country

The difference between poor countries and rich countries does not lie in their ages.  Like India and Egypt that have more than 2000 years,  they continue to be poor.

The difference between poor countries and rich countries neither resides in the availability of their natural resources. Japan has 80%  of mountainous lands, which are inadequate for agriculture and pasture, but it is the second in world's economy.

Japan is an immense fluctuating factory, importing raw materials all over the world while exporting manufactured products.

Another example is Switzerland, it does not produce cocoa, but it has the best chocolate in the world.

They raise animals and cultivate the earth for hardly four months a year, nevertheless, they manufacture the best milk.

It is a small country that projects an image of security, order and  employment, and this is what transformed it into a Safety Box of the World.

Executives from the rich countries in comparison with their parallel executives from the poor countries show that there is no significant intelectual difference.

The education and the culture must manifest  collective consciences, structured in the eternal values of the society:  Morality, spirituality and ethics.

In synthesis:  to transform the conscience of the people and the process must have the starting point in the communities

- where the citizens live and live with others

Upon analysis of the people's behaviors in the rich countries, it has been observed that the majority adopt a quantum paradigm, with the prevalence of the spirit over the material.  And adopt the following life principles:

1. Ethics as basic principle
2. Integrity
3. Responsibility
4. Respect for law and regulations
5. Respect for the rights of other citizens
6. Love for work
7. The effort to investment
8. The desire to excel
9. Punctuality
10. To see that something is wrong must not generate indifference.
      It is necessary to change thinking to be able to rectify
11. Our preoccupation must be on the society, the cause, and not with the political class
which is hardly the sad effect.

Only this way can we reach excellence.

Martin Luther King said:
- It does not worry me the shouts of the violent, of the corrupt, of the deshonest, of those without ethics.

-What worries me more is the silence of those who are good.

Source:  Alicia J. Butticaz

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The New 7 Wonders of Nature

From all around the World people have chosen the new 7 wonders of the world, including Puerto Princesa, Philippines. What a pride!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Key To Love

Processed Photo by Ronald
Normal Photo by Ronald

 Corazon rojoCorazon rojoCorazon rojo      

The key to love is forgiveness - to accept each others' fault and pardon mistakes
without forgetting but with remembering what you learn from them

The key to love is sharing - facing your good fortune as well as the bad,
together, both conquering problems, forever searching for ways to intensify your happiness

The key to love is giving -  without thought of return but with the hope of a simple smile by giving in but not giving up

The key to love is respect - realizing that we are separate people with different ideas that you don't belong to each other, that you belong with each other and share a mutual bond

The key to love is inside all - it takes time and patience to unlock all the ingredients that will take us to the threshold

It is the continual learning that demands a lot of work,
but the rewards are more than worth the effort

Author Unknown

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mimic Show of Ennio Marchetto

Today, we went to see a mimic show in a theater in Madrid.

This is a one man show that has triumphed in more than 70 countries, and we had the chance to see how Ennio Marchetto, 51, an Italian from Venice transformed himself  changing rapidly to do his memorable interpretations of some famous international and local personalities such as: Mona Lisa, Lady Gaga, Marilyn Monroe, Celine Dion, Abba, Barbra Streisand, Madonna, Dolly Parton, Amy Winehouse, Tina Turner, Elvis, Freddie Mercury, Beyonce Knowles, Queens, Liza Minelli,  Julio Iglesias, Lola Flores, Rafael, Alaska, Miguel Bosé, etc.

Ennio's show was inspired by the animated cartoons of Disney which he used to watch when he was a boy, with the modern coreography of Pina Bausch and the carnival air of his natal city of Venice.

Ennio's show  along with an unbeatable sound track, made him gain numerous international awards and made it a global phenomenon. 

The quickness of his movements as he transformed from one personality to the other sometimes wearing three layers of extravagant clothes and masks, created from origami, immitating different personalities, was a funny thing to watch as he danced and interpreted some all times favorite songs.

It was different from all the other shows that we have seen before and the four of us who watched Ennio, along with many others of the audience, were all delighted and entertained with the show.  Too bad we were not allowed to take pictures.

Monday, October 31, 2011

One More Hour

Processed Photo by Ronald

Last Saturday, just like every year, the time clock has been set, one hour earlier to take advantage of the daylight saving time. And I wondered: "What would it have been if instead of just moving the time one hour earlier, we were given the chance to go back an hour in the past, what would we have changed had we been given that opportunity?" I certainly would have done a lot more than what I am capable of doing in a normal hour of time. I would have done something more important instead, or would have done things differently.

One more hour, it seems so short and yet so long depending on what we are doing at the time. If we were having a good time, catching up with a deadline, or simply taking a nap, an hour will seem insufficient. However, if we were waiting for a snail to cross the street, waiting for the results of an exam, or waiting for a baby to be borne, an hour will seem eternal.

One  hour more,  or one last hour to "judgement day",  it is a matter of perspective, it is our
our own perception of our hour glass.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Happy Birthday Mel

It seems just like yesterday when we saw you the first time, and as we accompanied you in your growing years, you amazed us with your metamorphosis from a baby that cried without seeming reasons at all, to a child that did everything that she was asked to do without any complaint, to a difficult adolescent that wanted to do everything all at the same time and now to a mature woman who keeps on striving to find her place under the sun, patiently, courageously and generously offering whatever she can to be of service to anyone, who needs help.

On this your special day, your family wishes you all the best not only for today but more so when you need it most. Be assured that you can always count on us for whatever your needs are and to share with you not only the happy moments but also the sad ones (which we hope are fewer than the other).

Celebrate, our dearest Mel, for even when we cannot be in Bournemouth with you, we will be with you to celebrate it as if we were there with you. We will pray that your wishes  as you blow your birthday candles become realities sooner than you expected.

¡Muchas felicidades, de tu familia con todo nuestro cariño!

Remember that a birthday is just a start of a 365 day journey around the sun. Enjoy the trip joyfully. Many, many, happy returns of the day.

Source of images:  Goodlight Scrap

Monday, October 24, 2011

Vanity of Vanities...

Mirror, mirror, who's the handsomest of them all?

King James version of Ecclesiastes literally "Book of the Teacher" 1:2 says:

"Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity"

The first time I heard this phrase was when I was in grade school.  I was wearing a beautiful fancy dress that my mother so patiently had sewn for me to celebrate an event in school and she wanted me to wear the best dress that she could provide for me.   I proudly walked around in my soft blue, organdy dress believing that I had the most beautiful dress that day.  I saw our Mother Superior (I was in a school run by nuns) and I greeted her with a beeming hello.  To my surprise,  the only reply I received was her words:

   "Vanity of vanities, everything is vanity".

For a long time, I thought about that phrase and there was only one meaning that I could think of  then.  "That I should avoid wearing lavish and fancy clothes".

In our everyday English usage, the word vanity conveys an image of excessive pride in oneself or in one's appearance, a picture of conceit and perhaps even arrogance. But what did the author of the book of Ecclesiastes actually have in mind?

I have read since several interpretations but the one that had a more profound meaning to me,  is the following explanation:  "That everything in this physical world is transitory, ephemeral, impermanent and without any enduring substance. We often try to cling to things, and attempt to resist changes, but alas that is wasted effort, like trying to chase the wind",  (Source:  Living from the heart) or follow a rainbow.  And I have to be furtherly enlightened after reading  Ecclesiastes (NIV)  which contains the fundamental truths in life expressed in such a poetic way as I agree with and to quote American 20th-century

novelist Thomas Wolfe  who  wrote: “For of all I have ever seen or learned, this book seems to me the noblest, the wisest, and the most powerful expression of man’s life upon this earth – and also the highest flower of poetry, eloquence, and truth. I am not given to dogmatic judgments in the matter of literary creation, but if I had to make one I could say that Ecclesiastes is the greatest single piece of writing I have ever known, and the wisdom expressed in it the most lasting and profound.”

Everything being transitory, ephemeral and impermanent, we should enjoy every second of our time of co-existence but at the same time not to forget that we should aim at pursuing kindness and goodness towards one another leading to eternal peace.

On the other hand, is there anything wrong with being vain?  No, if it is not an obsession. No, if you want to take care of your appearance and create a good impression.

Everyone has his own characteristics and unless it becomes an obsessive behaviour or Narcissistic, then there is nothing wrong, with being vain. 

Source of image:  Clip Art Guide

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Story of a Soldier

A story is told about a soldier who was finally coming home after having fought in Vietnam. He called his parents from San Franciso.
"Mom and Dad, I'm coming home, but I've a favor to ask. I have a friend I'd like to bring home with me"

"Sure," they replied, "we'd love to meet him." "There's something you should know the son continued, "he was hurt pretty badly in the fighting. He stepped on a land mine and lost an arm and a leg. He has nowhere else to go, and I want him to come live with us."

"I'm sorry to hear that, son. Maybe we can help him find somewhere to live."
"No, Mom and Dad, I want him to live with us." "Son," said the father, "you don't know what you're asking. Someone with such a handicap would be a terrible burden on us. We have our own lives to live, and we can't let something like this interfere with our lives. I think you should just come home and forget about this guy. He'll find a way to live his own."

At that point, the son hung up the phone. The parents heard nothing more from him. A few  days later, however, they received a call from the San Francisco police.
Their son had died after falling from a building, they were told. The police believed it was suicide.

The grief-stricken parents flew to San Francisco and were taken to the city morgue to identify the body of their son.

They recognized him, but to their horror they also discovered something they didn't know.
Their son had only one hand and one leg.

Source:  Nenette Garrido Fishr  (facebook)

Last night I watched a documentary on travel to Thailand that featured aside from the temples in Thailand, the mutilated victims of the mines in the fields.  Since begging is prohibited in the country, one of the means of living is to learn to play a musical instrument they can manage.  Likewise, some young adults in wheel chairs aim to entertain by dancing with special choreography adapted to their physical condition.  It is still lamentable to see people that have been mutilated specially from wars or land mines.  Let us hope that the present condition leads towards a better future to people everywhere.

I Hope You Dance - Lee Ann Womack

Here is an inspirational song on "Never Losing Hope".

I hope you dance once in a while even when you think you lack the rythmn!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

One, Two, Three... Balloons

(AP) |October 10,2011
El Paí

Mahfouz Bahbah is 12 years old.  He walks with some balloons in Kabul,  not because he has been given them as part of a prize neither is he participating in a game.  He can be walking distances until sunset, but he keeps on walking with the hope that maybe, somebody would buy some balloons.

Life for some can really be tough, tougher than what it is for the majority and yet these underprivileged people have no time to complain, they would rather do something to earn a living... even if it means selling balloons.  Balloons, anyone, pls buy me a balloon.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Both Sides Now

"Both Sides, Now" is a single by Joni Mitchell and is one of her best known songs.  It has been commercialized by Jody Collins, sang by Frank Sinatra, Neil Diamonds and a lot of other artists, but I like this single best.

This song says a lot of things about love and emotions and how they affect your life.  It expresses all of the mixed emotions starting with the thrills of the beautiful and romantic feelings at the beginning and with the disappointing realities at an older stage in life.

This was featured in the 2003 British movie Love Actually.    The scene is about a woman who realizes that  her husband has given for Christmas a necklace she thought was meant for her.  She goes to her room and listens, while she cries, to this song on a cd which  her husband gave her.  (Source:  mollyc)

Through listening to  the song, one realizes  that Joni did not really feel love but only its illusions.