Unofficial but officially proud

I think it was through Facebook that I first bumped into this, as related to a controversy involving the Department of Tourism in Manila and McCann-Erickson. But that has been written about to death and I don’t see any added value to weighing in, so instead I’m focusing on the good thing that came out of this brouhaha.  That controversy sparked this video which is touted as the unofficial tourism video of the Philippines.

I have watched it many times over and will keep watching it because it moves me in so many ways as a Filipino.  I will always call the Philippines my home.  Like I wrote on my FB wall:

I’ve watched this over and over again and I am always moved with pride. This is us.. this is what and who we are. When you feel disillusioned by things around you, this will remind you what we are about as a people.

If you’re a Filipino, you will understand what I mean.  If you are just someone who strayed into this space or heard about this video, let me introduce you to the land of my birth.  Hardly any words, hardly any people except for tiny specks in the bigger scenery, but all Filipino in torrents.

I cannot ever hope to capture all the emotion and thoughts it stirs up in me in writing.  But I can sum it up in one word: Wow.

So true.  More often than not, it’s harder not to fall in love with its land and its people.

It’s More Fun in the Philippines from Creatives of Manila on Vimeo.

Art Journal Every Day with Angelo: My Special Someone

I was going through all the schoolwork Angelo had brought home at the end of second grade and chanced upon this essay he wrote on his “special person”.

He wrote:

My special person is someone who gave birth to me.  She is female.  I’ve known her for all my life.  She likes pink.

What that person like(s) to do is spend time with her family.  I play with her and she always eats with me.  I go to her job.  I go to a restaurant with her.  I sleep with her.

Me and this person are different and similar in a few ways.  I am male and she is female.  We both have (the) same last name.

This person is my mother.  She is 45 years old.”

He wrote this a month before my birthday, and while I was in Manila taking care of some family business in March.  Precious indeed.  Sometimes I want to keep all the paper he brings home, but not all of them are gems like this one.

He’s just growing up so fast.  I really must get started on that memory quilt I have been planning to make from his baby clothes and linens.  Most of it I had given away to my mom’s beneficiaries in her hometown in San Vicente, Bulan, Sorsogon, but I kept one or two baby blankets, plus I still have the crib liners we never used because of all the safety warnings against it.

I thought it would make for a good topic for an Art Journal Every Day post, so I photocopied the essay onto an exisiting watercolor background.  I also used one of his watercolor projects where he painted his name in different colors.  I worked my own background around the two elements by Angelo and then wrote my journal entry side-by-side with his essay.

Art Journal Every Day with Angelo: My special someone

I love the way I’ve managed to create journal entries using Angelo’s own work.  It doesn’t only give me a chance to react to his work through my art journal, but it gives me a chance to keep these special projects in the journal I hope to keep for posterity.  It’s better than just keeping it stashed in a memory box or some folder in the closet.

New discovery: Sharpie Oil-based Paint Marker in blue.  Glorious to write with on watercolor!  I thought I’d buy one piece to try and work with but I will now be getting the Sharpie Oil-Based Medium Point Paint Markers 5-color set including Gold, Silver and White next.

I’m going to try to incorporate other elements beyond just drawing or doodling on my art journal entries — hopefully doing some collage and the like.  Watch out for that.

If you want to see more of my Art Journal, please click here, or you can always choose my Art Journal Every Day page from the list on the top left of the blog page.

I invite you to view the Flickr Group dedicated to this endeavor byclicking here, and be inspired to create your own art journal. (Artistic talent optional.)

Conversations with a fellow transplant to NY

Over the weekend, I got an e-mail from a fellow Filipina who moved here to NY two months ago.  She had bumped into me via my Gotham Chick blog and had written just to say hello and to talk about Etsy.  We have exchanged e-mails, the last of which I wrote this morning on the way to work on blackberry.  I just thought it was worth sharing here because I wanted to write about my perspective as a transplant to NY after 12 years.  Here’s the edited version:

Hello, E —

I, too, moved here to get married but my husband is Filipino, too, and it wasn’t quite 5 years but we made things happen the same way you did.

Your husband is right, you know, you should get out more.  Yes, it’s so different here and adjustment takes a while.  I wish I can tell you your sleep patterns will adjust soon but w/o the pressure of a vacation timetable or work, give it another month or two more.

Since you are looking to live here a long time, may I make a few suggestions?

When I moved to New York (in 2000), the second week I was here, I was exploring the city already.  (Does your husband work in Manhattan?). I used to go to the city with my husband 2-3x a week and we’d share breakfast at Starbuck’s or Timothy’s after grabbing a bagel or some other from a street cart then he went to the office and I walked around.  We sometimes met for lunch, sometimes not, then we went home together.  Sometimes we’d go to dinner in the city.  By the end of my third week, I was riding the subway alone.  He gave me an allowance and I had an extension credit card.  (Even before we got married.)

There is so much to see in Manhattan, and it will help you adjust to “living here” and “being here”.  At home, boredom will remind you what you have left behind and everything you are far away from.  When you are ready to hit Manhattan, tell me and I will write you  a walking route.

Bell and Northern is quite a ways away from Bay Terrace but I spent my days at home basically walking to Barnes & Noble.  (we got a one-bedroom on 23rd Ave which was just behind it), I’d copy recipes from the mags, walk over to Waldbaums (had my extension credit card) and discovered I could actually cook! I  surprised my husband with some culinary delight every night.

I can cook but don’t ask me how I make kare-kare because I can’t.  I’ll tell you which Filipino restaurant in Woodside, though, has the better one.

The Michael’s in Manhasset is nearest you.  I go to the one in Westbury because it’s near our favorite Target store.  (My husband needs a Target fix weekly, which, if you ask me is better than a Banana Republic habit. Haha!  He’s outgrown it..).

Explore the Mid-Manhattan library — and the New York Public Library (the place where Jake Gyllenghal – sp? – and company hid during that winter storm in Day After Tomorrow) which are bigger than your neighborhood library.  I’ve never had a library card in Queens but always had one in Manhattan.

You need to start talking to other people because they won’t understand your English good as it may be because they talk not just w/ a twang but the dynamics are different.  I’ve been here 12 years and my first year, I had to adjust to that quickly.

People will ask you “how are you?” and about how your day is going when they just need a report or print out — in Manila, diretso yon.  Sa atin, chika yon, pero dito, conversation yon.

I still miss Manila even if I’ve been home 5x the last 3 years due to family matters I had to attend to plus our usual every other year vacation.  (Advantages of having a Filipino husband who has high school classmates and relatives in Manila.).   Take advantage of this time to explore your new city.  Hindi ka na bakasyonista dito, taga-rito ka na.

Do you have family here?  Mine are all in Manila.  All my bestfriends, too.

Take the adjustment as a forever phase in your new life.  I was a lawyer in the Philippines but I was in Corporate Communications in my last 4 years there.  Never actively practiced.  I arrived here at age 34 and I had done practically everything I had hoped to achieve except rake in the millions (ha!) so I wanted a family.  I haven’t quite forgotten about the legal part of my brain, and maybe when my son is in his teens…I’ll give the NY bar a try.  But see, I wanted a baby, and my husband was firm that we both had to work (started 6 months after I got here), save enough to buy a co-op (which we did in 2 yrs) then we started trying.  My boy was born in 2004.

Sorry I got carried away and I’m almost at my stop.  (I take the express bus to and from the city when I don’t hitch a ride with the hubby.  He has a parking spot as a perk in his job  but he stays even later than my usual 6pm cut off at work.)

I’ll send you things to do in Manhattan if you’re interested.  Tell me the relative area where your husband works if he works here so I can have a reference point.  Maybe we can have coffee or even lunch if ever you hit the city.  August, I can even take you around the bead stores here on 6th.

Explore… I’m the perpetual tourist here myself — even after 12 years.

Hitting 42nd.. Later…

Have a great day, E..

Amazed, indeed!

I caught the movie “The Amazing Spider-man” yesterday (yes, it’s hyphenated) and I must say, I was amazed.

I left the theatre with a feeling that I got my money’s worth, and that my time had been well-spent.  I marveled (pun intended.. LOL) at how they managed to generate a CGI of the Oscorp building (which is non-existent in Manhattan) and still capture the whole cityscape as if it were actually there.  (Reminds me of the “STARK Building” which was CGI’ed into the MetLife building atop Grand Central Station in “THE AVENGERS“).

As a New Yorker, I was happy with the way they presented New York sans the glam and glitz but with an awe-inspiring nightscape that gave you an authentic feel of the city that never sleeps.  I most specially liked the way they portrayed how New Yorkers can come together to make things happen towards the end — when the crane operators led by C. Thomas Howell’s character rallied together to get Spiderman to where he was going.  (That’s the New York spirit.)

If you want to see the streets I walk, the people I live each day with — look at the New York city depicted in this movie, and you’re right there with me.  I love Andrew Garfield as the new Spider-man and can’t wait for the next installment.  As Mr. Moviefone would say, “I’m in!”

In search of…

I am searching for a 1″ square punch which should be relatively easy to find but which is proving to be quite a challenge.  (audible sigh)  For something so simple and non-fussy, it seems to be so hard to nail it down.  Even Michael’s in Garden City (MY Michael’s store) didn’t have it in stock.  So I went off to my last resort: Online. has it and can give me free shipping with it’s usual $25 minimum, but for some reason, even the big and might cyber retailer cannot commit to next day shipping as “item might need 1-2 days to process”.  No good. Toys R’ Us offers scrapbooking supplies but alas, no square punch in the right size, and no, the product is NOT offered in store.  And even FAO Schwartz, our esteemed NY toy store to visit offers the line, but again, NOT in store.  And what’s worse, it takes 2-3 days for the item to leave the store, so it looks like there’s no way I will get this in time.  (Another audible sigh.)

I am thinking of braving the Michael’s store in Manhattan but it’s in the 90s, and then there’s the one in Woodside, but I’m stuck commuting so I am not too sure I want to brave that kind of an adventure on a flurry-laiden day like today.  (Twiddling fingers on the table..)

Google, though, brought something totally unexpected my way which, in turn, brought me here.  It was THAT good a find.

I stumbled across Balzer Designs which is just a treasure trove of ideas and creative inspiration.  While I don’t consider myself anything or anywhere near this artistic genius, I thought it was worth sharing to those who might look to this space for ideas.

Go visit when you have the chance.  I have to keep this short because I need to do my own browsing and try to get to know Julie!

Creative Inspiration Stop: Balzer Designs

Forever the tourist in my New York

There is so much to see and discover here in my home, New York, that I have always refered to myself as a perpetual tourist.

Even though I walk the streets of Manhattan five days a week and my office is right smack in the center of Midtown,  I still find myself admiring the everyday structures and landmarks around me.  I look in quiet admiration at the Manhattan cityscape as it greets me every morning I make my way towards the Midtown Tunnel.  On the way home, I find myself taking a peek at the Empire State Building to check out what glorious colors adorn it on any given day.  I have seen its reflection on the glass canvass of the building on the southeast corner of 42nd and the Avenue of the Americas hundreds of times before, but I still feel like taking out my camera to snap a picture each time I look up.

There is a certain thrill to sharing “my” New York with friends and friends of friends and I’ve always taken to sharing recommended lists of “musts” and a walking tour or two.

A friend of my sister and I from back home is in the city with her husband who is running this Sunday’s ING New York Marathon.  Edlynn and Brian are visiting the East Coast for the first time, and I had taken to writing them snippets of recommendations and tips for visiting the big apple.  I really must get down to writing them formally to share here.

So let’s start with the edible things you have to try when you’re in New York City — at least per my recommendation:

Bagels from the streetcarts. My personal favorite is the raisin bagel with butter or cream cheese.  There’s a different chewy consistency to this all-American favorite and I like the sweet flavor of raisins and cinnamon mixed with butter.

Hotdogs please! Whether or not you’re a health buff or one who will eat anything, the so-called “hotdog experience” is one you must not miss if you are ever in this part of the US.  What makes it different is a person-to-person experience, but besides being the equivalent of our usual streetfood back in Manila, it’s an economical way of doing something we everyday New Yorkers do.

Cupcake-wise, CRUMBS takes my vote. I had always thought that Red Velvet was overrated, until I tried their Red Velvet cupcake. The sizing can be dauntingly huge, but I usually share one with the hubby.  The medium size is okay for an individual serving, but the minis don’t quite sate my craving.  Branches on 42nd between 6th and 5th and on Lexington Ave behind Grand Central

While most others would go to the next “must” on my list for the cupcakes made famous by Sex in the City, I’d vote for the Banana Pudding of Magnolia Bakery as the hands down winner in their category! Creamy pudding with slices of fresh banana and cake bits mixed in… pure heaven!  (That’s rephrasing their own description: ” Layers of vanilla wafers, fresh bananas, and creamy vanilla pudding.. heavenly!)  They have a branch on the 6th ave side of Rockefeller center.

Going for more sweets, you’ll have to try Junior’s Cheesecake which tops all cheesecakes. They have a restaurant near Times Square w/ humongous inch-thick all-meat burgers and generally great food but the cheesecake is what you MUST try!

Pastrami Sandwich at Katz Deliwell worth the trek to Houston and the line.  I’m not a lover of liverwurst but someone told me that theirs is something worth looking into if you’re into that sort of thing.

Although they say Gyros and it’s really supposed to be pronounced “Hee-ros”, these wraps are familiar to us as the once (in)famous shawarma back in Manila. My personal recommendation: KwikMeal (corner of 6th Avenue or Avenue of the Americas and 45th street beside Citibank) or the food carts around 53rd and 6th Avenue which always seem to have quite a line forming behind them.  (Must be THAT good!)  The chicken, beef and sometimes even lamb can be served in naan or pita or over rice.  I personally go for the chicken on pita and I ask that they tame down the hot sauce and slather on the white sauce — yum!

Here’s to the taste of New York!