Friday, October 29, 2004

Promdi Tales 2

More funny stories from inexperience in a new place ...

Ding Dong, Who's There? [from Carrisse]

I remember my first few days here in Seattle. A UPS guy rang my doorbell and left. So when I opened the door there was nobody there. I got scared and thought that someone was trying to trick me so they could get inside. I called 911. Sus kakahiya nung dumating si (It was so embarrassing when he arrived-) Mr. Police Officer and saw the UPS package in front of our house! Di kasi tumingin sa ibaba no?! (Why didn't I look down?!)

Shampoo Do

When my sister was newly migrated in the US we had this phone conversation:

Me: O kamusta na kayo dyan? (How are you all doing?)
T: Ah okay lang (we're fine) blah blah blah ... I just don't like the shampoos here it will make my hair dry.
Me: What do you mean?
T: Well you can clearly see it on the label, it says from "Normal to Dry". (She was not joking)
Me: Jaja !! (Silly girl!)

Oh It's Drying Time Again ...

A 12 year old cute girl (das me nyehehe!) who spent her primary school days in the provinces was newly enrolled in a city high school. One day, her class visited the CCP Little Theater to watch a play. Intermission came and most of them went out to the loos (CRs). She was washing her hands in one of the sinks when the square contraptions attached to the walls caught her curiosity. After she's done, she went over and inspected them. There was a big button in front so she pressed it. The machine went - Whiiinnggggggg!! In a very very noisy way spewing out hot air! She tried to turn it off by pressing the button again and again but it won't stop. Finally heart pounding, eyes wide in terror she fled inside one of the cubicles. Only when it stopped (she was still shaking a little bit) did she come out again. And that's when she saw one of the ladies walk over press the button and rubbed her hands underneath. Huh! It was a hand drier afterall ! When her other classmates came in, feeling smug and smart she haughtily instructed them on how to use it. Hehehe!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Indian Meal

Me and the rest of our project team were treated to an Indian meal yesterday. If I remembered to bring my camera this would have been in my food blog. It was very nice mostly because it was free. Hehehe! The restaurant was called Tamasha. The ambiance and decor was great with a lush and rich feel of the Raj era - palm plants, deep red carpet, window shutters, overhead propeller type fans, burgundy and cream walls and ceilings, and lots of authentic Indian artifacts including sitars and tablas. Food was equally great but I must say I enjoyed the starters more than the main courses. Everything was hunky-dory until I decided to go to the loo (CR). And there a got a little shock. On the walls of each of the cubicle were pictures (in the old Indian style of illustration) of Kama Sutra poses. My gulay !! They were in various ... ah ... permutations of ... ah ... oh never mind you know what I mean. They were all explicit and shows things very clearly much like a manual ! (I want this blog to remain PG so I'll stop at that- hehe!) And so that was what confronted me while doing my business. No wonder one of my more mahinhin (shy, reserved) lady colleagues came out of there blushing so much. Hahaha! I just wonder if they have patrons with kids, what will they say - "Mum, what's that? Why are they like that?" Ulkkk!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Promdi Tales 1

I wanted to post personal and friends and relatives' actual hilarious experiences in being new to a place. I don't want to forget them or lose them in the nether regions of my gray matter so what better way than to write them down here.

Winter Clothes

A group of Pinoys came to London to work in the early 70s. It was their first time abroad and certainly first time to experience winter in a temperate country. So they made sure that they brought thick clothes and accessories to keep them warm. Also they took note of other local people's clothing when they went out. Making sure that they buy the ones they thought they need once the cold weather sets in.

The first cold spell came and they were to go out at night. They thought - "Heh, we're ready for the cold!". Up they boarded a double decker bus to their destination. There they were sitting in the front row all fully decked in their winter clothes, wooly hats, boots, scarves, and all their hands on their laps wearing Marigold gloves (yellow kitchen rubber gloves) !!!

Picture Us

Pinoy couple came to London to work. It was their first time here and certainly the first time to ride a double decker hop-on hop-off bus. A conductor came and asked for their fare. "Ning, kailangang magbayad tayo." So they gave their money. As the conductor was giving them change, they thought that the square black box contraption hanging by a strap on the conductor's neck is a camera when it is actually the ticket machine. When the conductor wound up the handle of the box to give them the ticket you could almost see his confusion/amusement when his 2 passengers leaned together their heads and smiled ... at the box! "Ling, ang higpit naman dito kailangan pa ng picture pag nag bayad sa bus."

Friday, October 22, 2004

Fawlty Towers

It’s been a long time since I did a long belly laugh. It’s so nice to sit back with your kids and have uncontrollable fits of laughter. We watched a rented DVD of the first series of Fawlty Towers and it just reduced us to almost non stop laughter. This old 1975 British sitcom really is one of my all-time favourites. Despite having only 2 series with 6 episodes each, this comedy has won many awards and is often being replayed in the BBC and all around the world.

Besides the great writing team of John Cleese and Connie Booth, the ensemble acting is superb starting with rude, arrogant, hypocritical, social climbing, incompetent, loony Basil Fawlty marvelously played by John Cleese. Sybil Fawlty, the irascible wife of Basil is performed by Prunella Scales. Polly the maid and all around assistant was played by Coonie Booth and poor Manuel (from Barcelona) the Spanish waiter who’s the frequent subject of Basil’s physical abuse is ably played by Andrew Sachs.

I really love it when Basil’s hysteria rises to a crescendo and either he collapses or does something really funnily stupid like thrashing his Morris Minor car, or screaming down the phone. In a way I think I see myself in Basil, there are times before when I can be seen reprimanding a pet cat/dog or really scolding a faulty appliance. Sometimes I talk to my electric fan or hair dryer – hahaha!! That is true. One thing I also like about not only this one but most British comedy is that they are so politically incorrect.

This series is apparently inspired by a real ‘Basil’ in the form of Mr. Sinclair of the Gleneagles Hotel in Torquay, Cornwall. Mr. Sinclair’s idea was that hotels and hotel management is good and wonderful except for the guests. It seems the cast and crew of the Monty Python show was shooting on location and so most of them were billeted at Gleneagles. All of them took exception to Mr. Sinclair’s rudeness that they moved to other hotels except for Cleese and Booth who was fascinated by the former’s “wonderful rudeness”. And so a series was born.

I can’t wait to see the second series I rented which I’m expecting through the post. We’ll have another belly laugh night by then.

Some of Fawlty Tower’s funny quotes:

Basil: “Yes my little piranha?” - answering Sybil’s call.
Basil: “Manuel, there’s too much butter on those trays.”
Manuel: “No no no, senor.” (slowly) “Uno, dos, tres.”
Nurse tucks in Basil, gets close to him.
Basil: “My god, you are ugly.”
Nurse: (taken aback) “I will call the doctor.”
Basil: “You don’t need a doctor, you need a plastic surgeon.”
On realising the new guests speaking to him in German:
Basil: “Oh German! I thought there was something wrong with you.”

Monday, October 18, 2004

Jasmine Trias - from my hometown?

Well not exactly her, but her grandfather is personally known by my mother. When I saw headlines in online newspapers saying that Jasmine’s family is from Tanza, Cavite. I did not take much notice because I thought they were from the bayan (main town). I even initially thought they were from Malabon since there are a lot of Triases there as evidenced from the renaming of the town to Gen. Trias. It was only when I phoned Nanay (mother) last weekend that I realized that indeed her paternal lineage is from Amaya, Tanza, Cavite. My sister in Florida who has the TFS channel even told me that Kuya Emong was being interviewed. He’s Jamine’s granduncle and is probably the closest relative they have in Amaya right now.

This made me think of who else from this coastal barrio might have claims to fame. These immediately came to mind: former Senator Justiniano Montano was born there. He was a great orator and law maker in the Philippine Senate during the 50s and 60s. Esteban de Ocampo is also from Amaya. He was a writer (‘was’ because I don’t know it he’s still alive), historian, and former chairman of the National Historical Institute. Mars Ravelo, writer and cartoonist of delightful komiks characters like Darna and Kaptain Barbell, married somebody from Amaya and still has a house there. During his heyday movie stars come to stay in his place to savor the rural air and the beach. I think I wasn’t born yet at that time so I couldn’t remember. There were stories that he modeled his Bondying and Facifica Falayfay characters from local barrio folks in Amaya. How true?

Any one out there living right now in Amaya or whose family is from Amaya? Please email me or leave a comment. Maiging maka ututang dila ko kayo kahit sa panulat lamang. (It’s good if I can chat with you even just in writing). Who knows you might be my relative, you know how it is in small barrios – almost everybody is related.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Blog Snub

A funny thing happened in the Pinoy blogging community, the Sassy Lawyer alerted us to the new “Talking Points” section of and how apparently the newspaper failed to give credit to the suggestion of a Pinoy blogger they interviewed days before and also snubbing the large group of opinionated, lively, funny Pinoy bloggers.

I normally do not blog about anything political or ‘newsworthy’ things but this for me is another case that smacks of colonial mentality that should be protested in what other way than to blog about it. INQ7 deemed that ideas put forward by American bloggers is a much better source to credit than Pinoys bloggers who has been in this scene for years. I’ve been reading both western and Pinoy political/news bloggers and I can confidently say that the best Pinoy bloggers can comfortably compare with the rest and best of the world’s. They are as educated, intelligent, eloquent, articulate, persuasive, opinionated as any other western bloggers. So why deny credit from them? Why write as if they do not exist at all?

They have conveniently forgot about an article on
Migs Paras where he was suggesting a talk back site in INQ7 where bloggers can post their reactions via a link to their blogs. Also another article a few days back discussed the Pinoy blog scene. And *nothing* about these articles from the same publication has been mentioned at all in the Talking Points section. Hmmm, are they thinking that Pinoys are not worthy enough to give credit to or mention at the very least?

See other Pinoy bloggers having a go at Talking Points: micketymoc, purplegirl, tin tin, yuga, marvin, lorimer, among others.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Queen's New Singer

I'm sitting right now in front of the computer when I heard my 13yo son put on the Queen CD downstairs in the kitchen and played "Don't Stop Me Now". He and my 3yo youngest sang along with gusto. My youngest knows most of the words and can sing in tune. What makes me smile the most is that not only can she sing well but they all appreciate Queen! It's nice if kids learn to like the music of their parents. My eldest has worn out the best of Beatles CD I bought last year. They learned to like Elvis when they saw the Lilo and Stitch movie. They loved it when we play Prez Prado and Glen Miller in the car. They're learning to play the blues in the piano along with their dad. They loved it when we saw a kids' BBC Proms concert (classical). What do you think, should I introduce them to Led Zep next?

It's funny how we do our family 'karaoke'. My husband would be manning the piano, while we would be singing from the recently googled lyrics on the computer monitor behind him.

Don't Stop Me Now

(Words and music by Freddie Mercury)

Tonight I'm gonna have myself a real good time
I feel alive and the world turning inside out Yeah!
And floating around in ecstasy
So don't stop me now don't stop me
'Cause I'm having a good time having a good time

I'm a shooting star leaping through the sky
Like a tiger defying the laws of gravity
I'm a racing car passing by like Lady Godiva
I'm gonna go go go
There's no stopping me

I'm burning through the sky Yeah!
Two hundred degrees
That's why they call me Mister Fahrenheit
I'm trav'ling at the speed of light
I wanna make a supersonic man out of you

Don't stop me now I'm having such a good time
I'm having a ball don't stop me now
If you wanna have a good time just give me a call
Don't stop me now ('cause I'm havin' a good time)
Don't stop me now (yes I'm havin' a good time)
I don't want to stop at all

I'm a rocket ship on my way to Mars
On a collision course
I am a satellite I'm out of control
I am a sex machine ready to reload
Like an atom bomb about to
Oh oh oh oh oh explode

I'm burning through the sky Yeah!
Two hundred degrees
That's why they call me Mister Fahrenheit
I'm trav'ling at the speed of light
I wanna make a supersonic woman of you

Don't stop me don't stop me
Don't stop me hey hey hey!
Don't stop me don't stop me ooh ooh ooh (I like it)
Don't stop me don't stop me
Have a good time good time
Don't stop me don't stop me Ah

I'm burning through the sky Yeah!
Two hundred degrees
That's why they call me Mister Fahrenheit
I'm trav'ling at the speed of light
I wanna make a supersonic man out of you

Don't stop me now I'm having such a good time
I'm having a ball don't stop me now
If you wanna have a good time just give me a call
Don't stop me now ('cause I'm havin' a good time)
Don't stop me now (yes I'm havin' a good time)
I don't want to stop at all.
La la la la la ...

Friday, October 08, 2004

Gift With Purchase of 2 Items

I just looove these small travel sized make-ups that you get free in the cosmetics dept. Well not really free, see you have to buy 2 things before they give these to you. Seen above I got 6 tiny gifts from Estee Lauder plus a small black bag. Not bad. Love love love having them and tinkering with them. They're so cute! Don't you think so? My obsession with them got so bad before that there was a time I would go to almost every department store in our area and buy 2 of anything (even if I don't need them) just to get these. I know, I must be loca-loca. Nowadays I always coincide my purchase whenever they offer these gifts. No gift no purchase. I have to make do with the facial cleanser from Boots or Superdrug during those times - ::sigh::

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Don't Know Much About History

British Museum facade

One Saturday morning my youngest told me she wanted to get out of the house and ride the train. My brain quickly went - now where can we go via train that will not cost us much? Hmmm, central London was certainly the obvious choice but where to go there? I don't want to go to the Natural History Museum. It is absolute bedlam there ever since they removed entrance fees. And in my opinion the exhibits has deteriorated because of this. There were just too many people specifically school children who mop their feet on the place. Anyway, where was I? Ah yes where to go - the National Gallery was suggested but I thought the kids will easily get bored with looking at lots of pictures on the wall. So the natural choice is the British Museum. The last time I've been there was 1998 that's more than 6 years ago! I heard that they constructed a big covered courtyard in 2000 so I was eager to see that in person.

So we went to London getting off at Russell Square tube station. By the way, the "tube" is the monicker of the London Underground train system. The London Underground is *not* a subversive organisation. Hehehe! Sorry, lame joke from A Fish Called Wanda.

Picture above is the entrance to the massive museum. It occupies one whole block for goodness sake! We kept walking from Russell Square thinking - oh there's the building we'll be in it in a few minutes. You keep on walking and walking around the block and still you can't find the entrance. Finally after what seems like an eternity and hearing your youngest saying over and over - are we there yet? - you arrive at the Greek temple inspired entrance.

Forgive me, I still have problems aligning and putting spaces in these small pictures - where's my HTML manual?! Click on the images to view a bigger version.

The British Museum has always been free hence the donation boxes at the entrance. I think they got better with the donation thing since these boxes seems to be everywhere. Before they just have one big massive box in the middle of the entrance foyer.

Once inside you just move a few meters ahead and you come to the great covered courtyard that was inagurated by Queen Elizabeth II last Dec 2000. As you can see in the pic above right, it is roofed by this steel and glass lattice that floods the courtyard with natural light. It is magnificent to see especially since you will be coming from the dark gloomy entrance hall to the bright light of the soaring roof and the splendid courtyard graced by the round building in the middle containing the Reading Room. It was superbly designed by Norman Foster, the same man who designed the HongKong Shanghai Bank in HK, the Millenium tower Tokyo, the formerly wobbly Millenium Bridge in London, among others.

There was a great brouhaha regarding the construction of this area. Apparently the construction company who built this was required to use British Portland stone but instead used the cheaper French limestone. Kahit pala dito may nandadaya sa construction (even here builders cheat). I think it was allright the only problem is that the French stone is lighter in colour than the older surrounding Portlands. But despite that I think the outcome as a whole is beautiful.

The round building in the middle is the Reading Room. I think the courtyard itself originally housed the library but they moved all the books now to the British Library. They retained the Reading Room though. It was a good blend of old and new inside. They have these very old leather covered reading tables, some old rickety chairs and lots of books on the shelves. While on the tables are monitors and keyboards and mice that links you to their museum items database.

More view of the window in the Reading Room. The one above right is the dome roof.

We got tired ogling books, we decided to get on with the rest of the museum. And what do you see when you first turn up here? Why see the Egyptian exhibit of course. Above left is the entrance to the Near East gallery which includes Egyptian artifacts. Now the one on the right is I think is Rameses. Sorry I forgot to take note of all the 'who is that statue'. I was so busy breaking up a fight between J1 and J2 squabbling over a mobile phone. One regret was that I also forgot to take a picture of the Rosetta Stone. Ah well maybe on another rainy boring day with nothing to do.

On the left above is a sarcophagus. You can see that part of it has been reconstructed. The one on the right is another Egyptian pharaoh whose name I forgot to take down. I was fascinated by the beauty of the stone and skill of the sculptor. It looked like it was made of polished cast iron but actually was of a very fine evenly coloured black stone - maybe basalt?

These ones are from the Greek gallery. I so wanted to go to the Elgin marbles but before I could try to find it my kids start tugging me out of the building. The Elgin marbles as you know are marble frieze from the Parthenon in Athens that was taken by Lord Elgin and brought to Britain in 1801. The current controversy now is that the Greek government wanted the return or at least to borrow these magnificent sculptures in time for the summer Olympics. Alas the British Museum rebuffed the Greeks in their attempt apparently because this will pave the way for other governments to retrieve other artifacts that was looted by the Brits of time long ago. I personally think they should be returned to Athens. It is there where it came from so it is there it should stay.

We only managed to see about less than 1/4 of the entire museum but my kids were bored and hungry wanted to get out. We left the museum to head for Hamley's in Regent Street to eye up some toys. By 6 o'clock we were on a train home. A tiring day but we saw a lot 'culture' and done at minimal cost.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Ooh Baby It's A Wild World

All this discussion of old music favourites got me and my husband talking about the best loved folk singers of the 70s. Jim Croce is one, though he died in 1973. Neil Young is another one, and what about Cat Stevens? We remembered he figured in an immigration fracas in the US last month. He even wrote about it in a letter to the Guardian.

He led or rather is leading an interesting life. The guy was born Steven Demetre Giorgiou and grew up in the West End of London. The youngest child of a Greek Cypriot and a Swedish woman. They were running a restaurant in Shaftesbury Avenue in London. The first name change happened at around the age of 18 - Cats Stevens - was the result of this. It is the name he carried when he catapulted the fame. He later on converted to Islam and changed again his name to Yusuf Islam. He remains a committed Muslim and leader in the British Muslim community to this day.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

The Fat Lady Sings the Blues

I've always liked blues music but I've never delved in it much until last week when my husband, an amateur piano/guitar player, decided that he wants to learn the blues. So we borrowed a lot of music sheets and video from the library. He was playing some decent ones and it was always a pleasure hearing them.

Early last week he discovered a recent documentary film in DVD called The Blues. It is a seven part docu directed by 7 different directors and produced by Martin Scorsese. One of it was even directed by Clint Eastwood. I didn't know he was a good piano player and a great blues fan.

As blues man Willie Dixon said, "The blues are the roots; everything else is the fruits." And indeed it is - it is certainly where jazz came from, also gospel, rock n roll and consequently rock.

I'm blogging about this because after watching 3 parts of it, I am just blown away and downright smitten by this genre of music. Sure I hear the familiar riffs every now and again in rock and roll, jazz, and rock. But it was another thing hearing the old blues musicians belting out good 'ol blues music from down South. I also felt a tug in my heart when I saw the old film clips of black farm labourers working away in the heat of the sun with a background music of a wailing blues. Now I understood, the blues was created as an outlet and expression of their grief and sorrow at the state of their humanity, at the countless hardships they encounter. I felt the pain, the misery, the anguish. I feel as if I've been there in that very same situation ... not in this lifetime though.

I just absolutely love that 3 chord 12 bar blues beat. Blues greats featured there are of the likes of BB King, Muddy Waters, Big Bill Broonzy (I love his guitar playing), John Lee Hooker, Son House, Robert Johnson, Lead Belly, Ray Charles and many others. They also had Brits featured there because apparently in the late 50s and 60s these blues greats were persuaded by a German promoter to come here in Europe to tour. They were so suspicious when they got here since at that time in the States (since they were all black) they were second class citizens, segregation was the order of the day and had practically no white audiences. They were playing in some dingy clubs or bars and were barely making a living out of their music. Suddenly as they arrived in Europe the promoters practically laid out the 'red carpet' - you know first class hotels, good food, excellent restaurants, etc. And they had sold out full packed shows playing to an all white audience. Plus these young audience were asking for their autographs. They were really gobsmacked. Out of these performances in the audience were young penniless music upstarts like Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, etc. who were so inspired by these revered new idols of them that they invariably incorporated blues to their music. So when the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, etc. became famous in the US and in interviews they say that their early influences were these blues greats, people started taking notice and that's when the blues finally got its deserved recognition in the US. It was a given that the white European bands (mostly Brits) kicked started a revival of the blues to reach to wider audiences in the States. That's where their influence in the blues is wedged.

In the DVD, I just love the great blues rendition in a jam session of a simple song like 'Love Letters'. Tom Jones on vocals, Jon Cleary on piano, Jeff Beck on electric guitar, and Peter King on sax. Even Van Morrison did a wonderful blues tune of which I don't know the title. Lulu had her turn as well with 'Drown In My Own Tears'. I think all these gushing is a signal that I should buy the DVD set, what do you think?