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.

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?

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.

Summer in full bloom

It was the eve of the Fourth of July weekend and I exercised my option to work from home. I’ve been fortunate enough to work for a boss who releases us early before a long weekend or a major holiday, so I was able to log off by noon.I told Angelo we were going to McDonald’s to have lunch. Meanwhile, I grabbed my camera and decided to take another way to the corner McDonald’s.

So we went on our way and stopped between flower bushes and took pictures. From the bright oranges of the lilies,to the pastel colored hydrangeas, summer was abloom were everywhere in various shades and colors. And we found some coneflowersand a roseor two, too. More than the visual delight of actually discovering these flowers tucked in some hidden corner here and there in our neighborhood, I cherished the walk with Angelo. It was quality time spent indeed.

He gamely posed for pictures by the flower bushes in our courtyard which was most welcome more so at this time when he gets picky about having his photo taken. We literally went around to stop and smell the flowers. He also took a shot or two which continues to show a discerning eye for framing a picture to be captured in a photograph. (Of course that’s the biased mom talking…) I have learned not to procrastinate when it comes to enjoying these flowers in bloom because they aren’t around all season.

It is remarkable how nature’s colors can be fleeting — making it all the more imperative that we enjoy the moment when we can. I remember one spring when I marvelled at the colors of the blooms on the tree in front of our place.. I was always in a hurry that week and promised myself I would take a picture by the weekend. By the weekend, the colors had waned and were fading. Too late.

Thus my Fourth of July weekend started. Basking in simple joys with the greatest joy of my life by my side.

(Originally written on July 8, 2009)

Back to work

It was short and sweet.  Three days is still three days.  We didn’t plan anything special for this Fourth of July weekend except to visit Sesame Place (Angelo’s second visit this season) Friday, then we chilled out in the afternoon on the Fourth itself in Robert Moses State Park in Long Island.  It meant driving a little farther past the other beaches, but when we got there, it wasn’ crowded at all and the parking wasn’t in the far ends of a lot across the highway.  I grabbed my book, sat under my umbrella and the boys had fun in the sun.

I’m trying to get back into the swing of things after the slowdown last week.  Getting there.  I’m just grateful that we had the chance to relax and do things as a family, even if got me all exhausted.  It was one of those tiring things that eventually recharged you.  Just being able to do things together was rewarding enough. 

Day-to-day worries “disappear” even if only momentarily in the company of my little boy.  Just remembering him playing on the beach gives me enough energy to try harder to get back to work.

Half past midnight and here blogging…

I just finished backing up one of my USB keys which is falling apart on me.  Precious pictures of our trip to the Luray Caverns and Williamsburg, Virginia were in that USB key and I have decided to burn a back up DVD before the poor thumb drive decides to conk out on me.  It made it doubly imperative I deal with the back up because I have yet to upload the pictures to Flickr.  Well the back up has been burned.  Amen to that.

I had a rather busy day although I was only physically in the office after lunch, and with Angelo in tow at that.  No, we didn’t have another date in Bryant Parklike we did yesterday — he calls it a “picnic lunch” as we brought our McDonald’sgoodies to the shaded area and ate our lunch together.  (That was something truly worth all the trouble of bringing him in, but I’ll write more in another post.)

Midway through a week leading to a long weekend, I’m in full summer mode already.  Sun tan spray?  Check.  SPF 50 moisturizer?  Check.  Bathing suits?  Check.  Rechargeable batteries for the cam?  Check.  I’m all set.  We aren’t really planning to go far — just day trips here and there. 

I’ve started reading again which is cause for celebration.  I can actually feel part of my brain stretching in a big yawn as if awakening from a long nap..  Happiness.  I am also trying to find my copy of “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” which I hope to skim through in preparation for the release of the last movie installment.  (Although I am not too optimistic I will be able to do that before the movie opens on July 15.)  Subscriptions to Fortune and Bon Appetit (thanks to unused mileage!) have also provided good reading.  The sad news of the recent deaths of my favorite Angel, Farrah Fawcett and the Gloved one, Michael Jackson, have caused me to keep checking news updates.  It’s part fan grief and curiosity, and just wanting to find out more.  The good news is it’s started me reading the papers — the real thing, and not the online version.

It’s past 1am and I’m wondering why I’m still typing away.  I have work tomorrow.  So I guess I’m saying nighty night for now.

Five things to be happy about

1. Summer’s here!

2. Warm hugs and kisses from Alan and Angelo

3. Finding a long lost book I hadn’t quite finished yet.. (So I’ve started reading again which is definitely something that makes me happy!)

4. Durian candy leftover from the trip to Manila

5. Recycling paper that would have otherwise been shredded and thrown away