Being color blind

Sometimes ,the biggest lessons of life are learned or revealed to us in the simplest of ways.  After a busy weekend,  we found ourselves in a family restaurant of no special distinction.  It was already past 8pm.  We were promptly seated and had ordered our food when two families occupied the tables to each of our side.  We were in the middle, and they had a view of each other across from us.

The family seating to our left was an elderly couple who looked like any older Caucasian couple.  Mom looked someone who would be your favorite school teacher or even principal.  Dad looked like some officer in a big corporation.  They had two children with them who were both African Americans, and not the light skinned ones, but very dark and unmistakenly adopted.  These family set ups no longer surprise me in a country which flaunts their adopted children to show people that “family” still matters to many.  I have admired the Caucasian families who have adopted Asian children — but this couple deserves twice the recognition for reaching out to the less fortunate and needy children within their own shores — and there are a lot of them who need caring and loving homes.   (Lesson 1)

The family on the other side was your All-American Caucasian family.  Mom was lugging a baby, with her was a daughter probably around 8 years old, another son around 10, and a teenage boy.  I could hear Dad but couldn’t see him.  We were in a hotel with a restaurant where children eat free, and none of them ordered any food for the adults, but the children had their fill.  The adults picked on the food of the children, sometimes even going to the buffet table themselves.

The little girl was seated with her back to us and the older couple with the two young African American children, but she turned around and stared.  My own son was curious about the noisier and animated bigger family and was starting to look and stare, but I pride myself in having trained him to listen when I tell him it’s not polite to do that, and he would obey even with just a simple look from me.  Apparently, not everyone is so inclined.  I didn’t notice until the mother with the two African American children noticed that the little girl from the all-Caucasian family was staring at them because she very obviously eyed them all as she went to and from the buffet table.  Even I eventually noticed it — and I could hear the Caucasian mother telling her African-American children not to mind her.  I could see she was irritated but she held up very well, probably because she was used to this kind of bigotry even in this country that prides itself with the maxim that everyone is created equal.  (Lesson 2)

The all-Caucasian family eventually stood up, not asking for the check, even if there was a charge for adults eating from the children’s buffet.  I guess they figured that as kids are supposed to eat free, if none of them ordered from the menu, then they will not be charged.  (Even as they themselves went to the buffet and ate..)  Maybe they don’t know that the premise of the  “kids eat free” bit is that it is presumed that there were adults ordering food.  We didn’t stay long enough to see if the restaurant staff noticed.  We stood up after the Caucasian family did.  It’s another way to view how “Ignorance (can be) bliss.”  Or at least pretending to be ignorant, that is. (Lesson 3)

It was sad to see how the young girl eyed the mixed family with such a strong sense of unease.  I pity her for seeing differences in color instead of seeing people for who and what they truly are.  I felt proud, though, that I know my son is growing up to be more broadminded than her — and that he will see the differences as something that does not make one better than the other — but something that makes each of us unique.

Angelo still has his moments — but I’ve always boasted to friends how we never had to give up dining in good restaurants even when he was younger, because he had always been well-behaved for the most part.  He’s done his share of staring, but he listens when I call his attention to it.  He doesn’t quite see the differences in color maybe because he himself is of a different color and to him that’s just “normal” or “ordinary”.  And that’s how I’d like to keep it..

US Tennis Open is here again.. and it's coming to Bryant Park tomorrow!

You know it’s US Open  (Tennis, that is) season again when you start seeing the advertising splattered al around you — but most New Yorkers already treat this major sports event as  one of our regular seasonal events here in this part of the US. 

I was lugging my camera as usual  before heading up to the office when I saw Bryant Park  buzzing with activity on the Great Lawn.  I searched for my favorite flower patches but was turned away at the far end of the park to detour to the outer walk, and I asked the kindly gentleman who was directing public traffic away what all the activity was about, and he told me they were constructing tennis courts.  Nope, it wasn’t Fashion Week.  (Too early..)

So here’s the buzz:  DirectTV and ESPN will be sponsoring the US OPEN EXPERIENCE featuring: ” …Venus and Serena Williams; former pros – turned TV commentators the Jensen brothers; the World’s current No. 1 Men’s doubles team the Bryan brothers (Bob and Mike; and James Blake. ”

I guess I’m putting some sunscreen on tomorrow and wearing comfy clothing.  Weather forecast for NY is a hot 90-something.  Looks like the sun will be smiling (and even glaring) at the big apple, and this is definitely one event worth checking out.


Pre-Production: The US Open Experience at Bryant Park

Pre-Production: THE US OPEN Experience happening Wednesday, Aug. 26
The view from 41 storeys above Bryant Park
Click on the picture to go to my Flickr set of photos of the Park

Five things to be happy about

1.  Getting works of art specifically made for me by my little tyke

2.  Hearing him call me “Mama..”

3.  Getting an e-mail from Nikky

4.  Friends and family who are always there to support you

5. Nine years of wedded bliss with the one who still makes me laugh and sends my heart a-flutter when I look at him and whose hug feels even warmer and tighter as the years go by.

As summer fades away

Bryant Park one muggy morning  I had taken a detour to work one day last week (week of August 11) and started taking photos in Bryant Park  instead of heading straight up to work.  It was pleasantly cool and the sun wasn’t out full blast just yet, so it was the perfect time to roam.  There were hardly any people at the park just yet, so the chairs were still strewn around sitting empty.

Fall is slowly creeping upon us and I wanted to capture the last bits of summer.  The colors are already changing as my favorite cone flowers on the 42nd Street side are starting to wither and fade.  There is still much to see as the late bloomers (literally) are beginning to greet the world.

I find mornings the best time to roam the nooks and crannies of this tiny patch of green.  There aren’t all that many people yet and you have free rein to go wherever you wish to go.  There is a sense of solemnity during the early hours when the chairs  seem to be “asleep” as there is hardly any movement among them.

The stage has been taken down.  It can’t be because of Spring/Summer 2010 Fashion Week  (from Sept.10-17, 2009) because I remember that there was an announcement during the last one held for winter earlier this year that the next Fashion Week would be at  the Lincoln Center.   (I tried checking the official website but venue is not indicated.)

I have been watching the goings on from 41 storeys above.   The sun outside is inviting but it’s been much too hot in New York these days.  I even went as far as bringing a book to read — thinking I might have some time to sneak away.  Not today.

There have been a lot of things happening on my side of the world lately.  I’ve logged on and attempted posting several times, but it isn’t always easy to find the words to write here.  So instead I posted my pictures to Flickr.  I’m trying to jumpstart my thoughts through this hope, hoping to get the inspiration to write again.

GMA & co. at Le Cirque

I have tried my very best to stay apolitical with my posts here not because I have no political views, but I feel that’s just not my cup of tea.  From time to time, though, I am moved by some point or other relevant to me as a Filipina living here in New York, and this is one of those times.

I spend my lunch hour in front of the online version of Manila’s newspapers, and I was surprised to see the headlines of the different newspapers blasting GMA (Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) and her party for ringing up a tab of P1 Million (roughly $20,000.00) for a dinner at Le Cirque here in New York last August 2.  According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, (the) Palace Won’t Say Sorry, quoting Press Secretary Cerge Remonde as saying “(I)f the dinner was really ostentatious, then there has to be an apology, but it wasn’t ostentatious and I stand by that.” 

The buzz started thanks to a short entry in the New York Post  where it was written:  “THE economic downturn hasn’t persuaded everyone to pinch pennies. Philippines President Maria Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was at Le Cirque the other night with a large entourage enjoying the good life, even though the former comptroller of her country’s armed serv ices, Carlos Garcia, was found guilty earlier this year of per jury and two of his sons were arrested in the US on bulk cash-smuggling charges. Maca pagal-Arroyo ordered several bottles of very expensive wine, pushing the dinner tab up to $20,000.”

There was reportedly a party of around 25 in the Arroyo group who had gone to have a late dinner at the famed restaurant upon the invitation of Cong. Ferdinand Martin Romuladez who had so generously treated them all to a lavish dinner at Le Cirque in celebration of the first couple’s anniversary.  (Something the good congressman is reportedly denying and passing on to the other Romualdez, Daniel, who was with the group.)

All this is hearsay as far as I am concerned but just to give our friends back home an idea of how this could happen, yes, it could have been possible given Le Cirque’s gastronomic offerings.  The current menu will give you an idea of the kind of money one would spend here, and given that they were a large party, they were surely charged the customary gratuity of 20% of the total bill which is protocol for large groups.

Zagat places the average cost per person at $99.oo, but that’s “average”, sans the “celebration”. 

For a party of 25 and deducting the gratuity which became part of the bill automatically, and setting aside another 10% for tax, which varies depending on whether it’s the food or the liquor you are taxing — that meant that the party actually consumed around $15,000 worth of food and drinks.  Divided by the purported number of people present, (25), that meant approximately $600/person.  Even if for the sake of argument we say there were 30 which is unlikely given that there were only 2 tables for the whole group, it was still $500/person.

Sure there was an occasion to be celebrated and as the good Press Secretary said, it would’ve been impolite for the President and the First Gentleman to refuse the invitation, but I believe the sponsor of such a lavish gift would not feel offended if the President were to request that they celebrate instead in a less ostentatious restaurant.  I agree with those lambasting the palace in saying that this is one restaurant where dinner is never “simple”.  And does it make this more palatable if we were to believe that some generous soul footed the bill instead of Juan de la Cruz?

Trying to go with the flow

My blog was literally frozen for most of July due to platform migration, and I had lost a lot of ideas which I failed to write about. I know, too, that I lost at least one comment from Mrs. C. =( So now I’m trying to get caught up with the blogging, trying to pick up from where I left off.  Then again, I don’t remember where that was.

So in the meantime, pardon the fickle-mindedness as to the look.  I’m trying to figure out why my ad links are not posting — why there is no tab to click on to check the status of my account (which, I know, I had converted to a “paid” account a while back, giving me more flexibility as to the layout and content.)  I am also trying to figure out how to put up my own header images like I have always done in the past.  I am trying to be patient.  It might be part of the growing pains of migration.  When I first saw the new platform after logging on, only a third of the options and buttons and bars now available were visible.  So maybe tomorrow or over the weekend, that magical button allowing me to see my account status will pop up somewhere on the dashboard or admin bar.

As the title says, I’m trying to go with the flow. 

I’m smack in the middle of summer — and we’re trying to plan for our holiday and road trip in three to four weeks.  Then Angelo moves on to kindergarten.  I keep asking myself where the year has gone.  It’s August now.  Wow.   Angelo is sporting a glowing tan from the days at the pool and the waterpark.  And he is wont to develop another layer as we plan to go back to Splish Splash this weekend.  

Work has been hectic and not.  There are too many things happening in our little corner of Manhattan these days — sometimes, I find myself floating through the day.  We live in challenging times indeed.  Given all the frenzy, I am just wondering why everyone seems to think I bore so easily.  (Could it be because I smile too much and everyone seems to think anything slower than my current pace would give me a heart attack?  Maybe I should put on a poker face for a change.)  Everything happens for a reason as they say, and I have taken that to heart.  I know that all this will lead somewhere, and I will find my place in time.  Meanwhile, I’m holding the fort and conducting business as usual.  When asked how I was doing, I used to answer “I’m hanging in there.”  This week, I switched to “I’m still here..” which has elicited a laugh or a snicker or two.  Ha!  And I get to have the last laugh, too.

I have been immersed in crafts — mostly digital printing and scrapbooking.  I haven’t done anything monumental.  Just bits and pieces.  (Note to self: You owe Mr. C a call about those lessons in computer graphics!)  Small pages and ideas for embellishments.  I have started a love affair with those brown bags — the ones where you have your food to go packed in.. I have discovered they make for good embellishments, particularly for alphabets and phrases or tags.  (Samples coming soon…) 

I have managed to organize beads from years and years of picking up bits and pieces.  It was uncanny how I got stumped when I had them in front of me and I couldn’t quite make up my mind about what I was going to do with them.  

And don’t talk to me about knitting and crochetting.. I am holding off and hauling my supplies to the attic for now.

There never seems to be enough hours in a day, or days in the weekend.  I am typing here and stealing a glance at the screen clock on the lower right hand corner of my laptop.  11:15pm.  Time to prepare the coffee for tomorrow morning.  Dishes have been washed, drying in the rack, and it looks like my boys are happily snoring in the bedroom, off to la-la land together.

Can you believe I actually did a lengthy post here?  Wow.. (again.)  Looks like I found the flow again..

New interface.. we're back

So migrated to WordPress, and I’m still trying to get a feel of the whole set up.  It looks cool, that much I have to admit, but I’m trying to get a sense of how to change my blog layout and tinker with my header image.  (It’s a little stale..)

I’m just glad to be back!  I was beginning to worry that  might’ve been lost in limbo during the migration and my blog would remain inaccessible forever.  Hmmmm…  Fortunately, that wasn’t the case.  It was, indeed, temporary.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to pick up the pieces to start catching up with all that I wanted to blog about but didn’t get the chance to.  I don’t quite know where to  begin, but I’m getting there.