Monday, May 14, 2007

Bienvenidos: Mexico

Birthplace of Mariachi music and Tequila, Guadalajara plays a dynamic role as one of Mexico’s most important cities, not just for business and industry but for tourism as well.


Finally had the time for a quick blog about where I'm at right now. I'll blog more about this in a couple of days.


Drop by again soon for beautiful places and the yummy foods there.


Sunday, May 06, 2007

A Week in Iligan

My wife finally finished her blog post about their trip to Iligan last month.
Here it is:


Hermie had been prodding me to do my long overdue blog on how Hannah and I spent our Holy week in Iligan so here it is. Two days before our flight back to my hometown, Hannah was very to excited to go that she didn’t want to sleep anymore. This was our first family vacation with Hermie not around due to work stuffs. My brother Nick and his family fetched us at Cagayan de Oro airport, had quick shopping and went straight home so we could catch the 7th day novena for my mom’s first year anniversary with the Lord. For me, this was a 3 in 1 trip: attend my mom’s 1st death anniversary, a holy week retreat, and a summer vacation. For Hannah, it’s a week full of non-stop fun and play with her cousins. Let me share with you some highlights of our trip:

April 2, Monday, was my mom’s first year anniversary with the Lord. We started the day by attending the 6am mass to say our prayer offering to mama together with my father, brothers and sisters and their families. Good thing Hannah was not grumpy even if I had to wake her up very early in the morning. I guess being with her cousins she seldom saw was worth every waking moment.

Hannah with cousins Ella and Mariel inside the car on our way to the church (left). Hannah with cousins Mariel, Ella and Marvin whom Hannah fondly called “Shark Boy” lining-up to give the mass offering (right).


Hannah and her cousins Mariel and Ella were inseparable. Aside from playing all day and night, they love posing for me in the camera. Here are the little girls in their unifrom white Barbie blouses courtesy of my sister Helen matched with maong skirts posing after the mass.

3 lil girls

After the mass we ate breakfast together and spent the afternoon at the memorial garden where we closed the day by releasing yellow balloons for Mama Vic, my mom’ s favorite color.


Summer vacation in Iligan is never complete without visiting the refreshing cold spring pools of Timoga.


Hannah having cool fun with her cousins (top). Ella and Justin on their summer dive pose (bottom).


My sister Celia’s room was always in chaos but filled with chuckles and laughters as it became an instant playground for Hannah and her cousins. (Top) Hannah hiding behind the curtain while her cousin Justin securely covered himself with a blanket during hide and seek. (Bottom) The cabinet and a thick foam on the floor was a perfect set-up for fearless climbs and jumps.


On Holy Thursday and Friday, my family decided to spend lent together attending a basic Life in the Spirit Seminar (LSS) exclusive for our family where my sister Helen and her hubby Cesar graciously arranged and facilitated for all of us. We rented a mountain resort in Iligan for two days. The place was not commercially advertised and we just learned it through word of mouth. The owner did perfectly well in maintaining the place and was the perfect place for the seminar. My father, my 4 brothers and 4 sisters and their respective families were all present... even my mom was there according to one of my niece who has a third eye and saw my mom in a white attire during the session when we prayed for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit :)


My sisters and sisters-in-law in a moment of prayer after a heart to heart sharing.


All the 19 grandchildren were present. Those who are 7 years old and below were not included in the seminar. We kept them busy playing inside a neatly made naturally ventilated nipa hut nearby (bottom) or climbing up the hill full of mango trees with the yayas (top left).


My sisters, brothers, in-laws, niece and nephews during lunch break. Nhards, my brother-in-law, helped facilitate my nephews during group discussion (bottom right) while I facilitated for my nieces (top right). Thanks girls for being so open.


My sisters, in-laws, niece and nephews during the siesta break.


As souvenir, I took some photo ops with my niece as my ever willing models.


Dionalyn and Mardi playfully posed (top). Karen carrying her younger sister Totit on her back (bottom). Thanks girls! You are all beautiful and special to me.


The morning when we had to go back, Hannah desperately negotiated with me to have her cousins go with us - to Cavite. We all saw how sad she was because she never smiled while on our way to the airport; not until she got herself amazed with the surroundings of “Panagatan,” a restaurant by the sea, where we stopped on the way to Cagayan de Oro to have our lunch.


The restaurant serves delicious seafoods and Filipino dishes. Built on top of the water, you can enjoy watching fishes or even live big crabs hiding on the rocks. Hannah posed beside the big golden fish statue and a small colorful banca. Now she’s smiling!


Text and photos by Lilia.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Miss Saigon (2000 and 2007)

The first expensive date that I and my then friend and now wife, Lilia, was when we watched the Philippine production of the musical Miss Saigon, a decade after it first opened in London.

Miss Saigon

Miss Saigon ran for ten years in London where it had 4,264 performances and became the third most successful musical in the history of British theatre and the longest running show ever to play in Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. In Broadway it had 4,092 performances in a span of 10 years and broke several Broadway records including record advance-ticket sales at $24 million, highest priced ticket at $100, and repaying investors in less than 39 weeks. Other Miss Saigon productions were made in Japan, Hungary, Germany, Netherlands, Poland and Korea plus tours in UK and US.

I still have our tickets to the Philippine production of Miss Saigon.


The Philippine production ran for only 6 months but before the first show started, tickets for the first three months were already sold out. Why not? Lea Salonga, a Filipina, starred as the first ever Kim in the original London production of Miss Saigon in 1989 and she was also Kim when it moved to Broadway in 1991. The musical's lead roles usually had alternates and we're lucky that on the night we watched Miss Saigon, it was Lea Salonga who played Kim. For PhP 3,605 per person it was not cheap. I knew that the cast was very talented but I was wondering what a live 3-hour musical performed on a stage can offer when compared to the varied locations and the special effects of movies especially when CGI (computer graphics imagery) was used. One thing was clear though, when the ticket says "Orchestra Side" you can bet that there's really a conductor and a full orchestra nearby that plays during the show. And after watching the show, all I can say is that it's worth it. I was amazed how they did the scene transitions using lights, rotating sets, sliding walls and buildings without any pause and dull moment for set preparation while the actors played continuously in one long medley of fantastic songs. There was a very convincing slow motion scene in the American Embassy and a scene where you simultaneously see Kim in Vietnam and Ellen in America while they both sang to their beloved Chris - it's like having an extremely big plasma display showing two different channels in 3D. And of course there was that spectacular helicopter scene coupled with great lighting and surround sound effects.

There's a Miss Saigon production now showing in Australia where Filipinos Leo Valdez and Jennifer Trijo play the role of The Engineer and Kim respectively. Why not watch it there if you want. There's also a Japanese production that will start next year (2008).

The inspiration to make Miss Saigon was a photo taken a few weeks before the fall of Saigon, of a woman giving up her child at Saigon airport in the hope of a new life in America (source: Miss Saigon Australia).

Miss Saigon Inspiration

Catch it if you can.