running in red stilettos
 
Photo Courtesy of Mars One
Would you ever consider moving to Mars? Asking this question takes me back to a time when the idea of traveling to another planet was pure fiction. We are a Twilight Zone-obsessed family and we've always believed that most of its story lines will happen sooner or later in real life. With Mars One sending people to begin a colony in Mars, we are left with little to the imagination.

My mother thought I was going bonkers when I told her over breakfast the other day that a private company called Mars One has been accepting applications for Mars since last year. Around 4,000 people from 177 countries have already qualified with the US having the most number of qualifiers. I couldn't blame her. Although I have heard of Mars One and its mission to begin sending people to this small planet in 2024, a part of me still find the whole idea too out-of-this-world (excuse the pun). I didn't think it was actually going to happen in my lifetime.


We were lucky to be at the Astronomy Week Celebration at The Mind Museum on February 22. The line up of events were indeed worth every minute of our time. The highlight for me was Cafe Scientifique's “We are Going to Mars!' It was an interactive exchange through Skype between Arno Weilders and the guests. Arno Weilders is the Co-Founder and Chief Technical Officer of Mars One. 

Live Skype exchange with Arno Weilders

Weilders gave a brief introduction to Mars One and then went on to answer questions from the audience. The questions ranged from what kind of government the first inhabitants would have, how conflicts would be resolved, what kind of food would be available, and what would the source of water be, among others. The last one was a question from a little girl in the audience.

Mars One launched its selection process in April 2013. It is a rigid process that requires an applicant to have five key characteristics such as resiliency, adaptability, curiosity, ability to trust, and creativity and resourcefulness. Applicants should also be at least 18 years old, which is what is considered the legal age in most countries.

“It will all be up to them,” Weilder said, when he was asked about conflict resolution. “There is a 20-minute delay in communication between Mars and Europe and it will be impossible to manage Mars' inhabitants from the Earth,” Weilder added.


For the first year, they will be feeding on canned goods that will be sent with them on the first trip in 2024. The trip will take somewhere between eight to nine months and they are expected to land in 2025. Other crucial details about the first trip have not yet been revealed.


When asked if he was ever tempted to apply, he answered, “Yes, it did cross my mind, but I have two young kids and I don't think it would be fair for them.” Weilders quickly added in jest, “I'm not very good at dealing with stress so I don't think I'd qualify.”

Even if you wanted and decided to, there is no guarantee that a family will be allowed to travel together. It will still depend on the result of individual assessment.

What really sends chills to my spine is that the trip is a one-way ticket to Mars. No return trip...ever. To me, it is a real-life closing credit to an episode of the Twilight Zone. 

Mars One, Mars, Arno Weilders, The Mind Museum, Twilight Zone, fiction, earth, 2014
running in red stilettos
Look! A "Legolized" me! 

If not for Cole's passion for Lego, I would not find myself walking through Nathan Sawaya's amazing exhibit at the Art Science Museum at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. There was not a second during the exhibit that I did not wish for Cole to be by my side, enjoying all those amazing creations by an artist who fell in love with Lego when he was only five years old. 

"The Art of Brick" is Nathan Sawaya's largest collection of Lego sculptures. When asked about his masterpieces, Sawaya said, "These works are very personal to me since they reflect my growth as an artist as I strove to discover my creative identity." 
The New York-based artist explains that his work of art is something that bridges anyone at any age to their interest for unique creations. "The museum exhibition is accessible because it engages the child in all of us while simultaneously illuminating sophisticated and complex concepts. Everyone can relate to the medium since it is a toy that many children have at home. But my goal with this exhibition when it first debuted in 2007 was to elevate this simple plaything to a place it has never been before."

Nathan Sawaya's latest show began yesterday at the Mansfield Art Center, Mansfield, Ohio. It will be from September 21, 2013 to November 16, 2013.

Here are a few of the very many shots that I took. Sawaya is touring the world and my wish is to take Cole to one of his shows someday.


 
running in red stilettos



the four of us were enjoying a long walk towards the south tip of the long beach in boracay a few days before our flight back to manila when our 11-year old son popped the question: “how can we bring back all the shells and pebbles we collected in the last two weeks?”

i wasn’t sure if he was worried if we’d be allowed to take them out of the island or if we’d be charged extra for “excess baggage” which of course i knew would oddly be the case. my husband’s answer was brief, simple and exhilarating for the three of us who stood under the drizzle.


“then we don’t leave,” he said smiling.


days and weeks passed and friends and family began asking if we were staying for good. my only answer was “we’re here and we’re there. we can’t bring the beach to manila and we can’t bring manila to the beach.”


you see, we believe that life is a journey and home for us is anywhere as long as we’re together.  and so, we made the decision to make boracay our home, too.


we would love to share our home with those who will be making their own journeys to this side of the philippines, whether it's a long one or a very short getaway. read and share about our bed and breakfast here:




running in red stilettos
Well, okay. Maybe it's a little too late to post something about Christmas shopping since Christmas is in seven days. But I'm pretty sure there are still some of you who are yet to rush out the door to do late (or even post) Christmas shopping. The thing is, whether it's the Christmas season or not, we all have to keep in mind things that we're supposed to do—-or not to do when we're out releasing our hard-earned money.

Click the photo to read my article at Security Matters Magazine.


The Nationwide Hotline Number for Emergencies is 117


Security Matters, Christmas, shopping, Lisa Ito, Kalikasan Partylist, toxic materials, cheap toys, gifts, WHO, ICC, DTI, Makati Fire Department, harmful chemicals, nationwide hotline number

running in red stilettos
Ronald Garcia gives a lecture on Basic Photography to kids at Cypress Towers

Saturday, 8:57 AM. Today's “Moms and Kids Day” and the photography workshop by Ronald Garcia starts at 9 AM. 

Good grief, three minutes to the event and Cole was still in dreamland while I was between checking my mails and giving in to the demands of the little one who was running around and grabbing everything she could with her chubby little hands. 

“Coleyyyyyyymolleeyyyy! It's 8:57!” Even Mr Young bolted up from the bed and asked why the alarm didn't go off. 

“My fault. Forgot to set the alarm,” I confessed.

Cole jumped up from the bed, took a really quick shower, grabbed his camera and ran out the door. Good thing the event was just at the clubhouse 22 floors below and 10 short leaps away. He got there thinking he was very late for the workshop but then he was actually the first kid to arrive at the venue. 

“Thank God they did not play 'Gangnam Style' while we were waiting for the others to arrive,” he told me earlier tonight.

“What kind of music did they play then?” I asked, amused and very much grateful that the kid has grown good taste in music. Mr Young and I would never forgive ourselves if our soon-to-be 11-year-old listened to the trash that half the population on this planet listen to these days. 

“Mostly Diana Krall.” So I was informed. 

I was the one who got there late because I had to give Attika her morning bath. When I arrived at the clubhouse Ronald was halfway through the workshop but I was able to pick up a lot of things (mostly things Mr Young already taught me many times before, but then being a good student's never really been part of my scanty positive traits). I was mostly interested in taking good photos of moving subjects—an area where I mostly fail. I've never taken any photography lessons and curiosity played a great role for me today.


Apart from being a great photographer, it turned out that Ronald could also work really well with kids. His lecture was delivered in a language that kids and all the other attendees were comfortable in even when he got to the more technical part of photography.

It got me thinking for a second there. It's wonderful that people are so much into photography now, even giving birth to the word “cam-whoring” and whatnot. In a conversation with veteran photographers Rod Banzon and Manny Fernandez years ago in the editorial box of the Big C Magazine where I was Lifestyle Editor, they expressed their heartache over how photography's been lambasted by the advent of digital cameras. Today, everyone who can afford a digital camera is a photographer. I still wouldn't place that as a parallel statement to Robert Fulghum's “Anyone who sings is a singer.” 

I found this poster on Facebook and anyone who understands what the bitching is all about would give this one a resounding “like”. 


Cole picked up the hobby four years ago. His first camera was an instamatic analogue camera (with an underwater casing) and his first photos were of a rally in UP, then our humble homestead. Mr Young, otherwise known as his dad, had given him his first lessons and those lessons continue at present. Lucky for us I guess because we have a professional photographer at home. Mr Young completed his professional training in the war zones of Mindanao prior to his stint as stringer for CNN and BBC when we were still in college. 


“Mr Garcia asked me what got me interested in photography,” Cole told me. 

“And?” 

“I told him you're a photographer and so I also got interested in it. I also told him you gave me your camera.”

No, no, no, a photographer I am not. I have had some bouts with luck when my photographs were published. I also try sometimes, like a happy little fish (I've some photos here). But to my mind, a photographer is strictly somebody who's had formal training. So clearly, I'm not one of them. I'm just another one of Mr Young's absentee students. 

By the way, it was also Cole's first photography workshop and he said that he had so much fun. I think young people should be taught the value of appreciating an art form by exposing them to the right source of knowledge. It would also help if they got their information from experts such as multi-awarded photographer Ronald Garcia and allow them to decide on their own if they want to pursue it or not. All this as opposed to just handing over to them an expensive piece of equipment and letting them do things all because everyone else is doing it. 

Just my two cents worth. 

Cole asks Mr Garcia about ISO


The event was sponsored by Ascof Lagundi and Cypress Towers, DMCI. 


basic lessons digital camera, photography workshop, Ronald Anthony Garcia, Ascof Lagundi, Cypress Towers, DMCI, homeschooling event, CNN, BBC, kids activity, arontaz images

running in red stilettos
Manila Bay full Moon

When all else fails, give yourself a Moon bath


The major plan was to take the husband out on a special dinner for his birthday last September 22. But work got in the way so I ended up having our reservations for a dinner cruise in Manila Bay rescheduled three times. We finally made it on November 1 (yes, we define “romantic dinner” differently around here). I'm grateful that Prestige Cruises, Inc. was patient with me and was always accommodating everytime I called for a change of schedule. Getting through their line is a totally different story though. It would take me more than 20 attempts before I could get through. The line was either busy or would suddenly go “out of service”.

The ship
All four of us, Mr Young, Cole, Attika and myself, were moon watching while waiting for our ship when we suddenly heard blasting music. We realized it was coming from the prosaic vessel nearing the dock. When you hear shrilling voices accompanied by a squawking sound system, you begin to get an inkling that the entire concept of an enchanting dinner becomes nothing more than a burst bubble. But no singers from hell could ruin our night — we owe that to our propensity to make fun of ourselves. When we were boarding the ship, I knew we'd have something to crack up about over chocolate drinks before we hit the sack that night. 


Prestige Cruises, Inc., host of the "romantic" dinner buffet 
The food
The dinner was supposed to be a buffet of the best Filipino cuisine. It was a buffet of Filipino dishes alright, but the choices looked like they were transported from a very distant barrio fiesta where a newbie was hired to prepare a small feast for 80 guests. The guests had to wait in a long queue to be served by waiters who gave us a little over a spoonful of serving for each viand. 

On the buffet table was pancit bihon (thin rice noodles), dinuguan (pork blood stew), fish with tofu and menudo. I grew up in the province where the simplest dish could be a heavenly gastronomic experience. My first bite that night until the last one was a doleful three minutes. It made me think of my dead ancestors and how disgraced those great cooks would be if they'd tasted what I had. It was an eat-all-you can dinner but finishing only half of what's on my plate was more than enough for that experience.

Drinks were also exorbitantly priced. I thought of drinking bottled water to make me feel better but that, too, offered nothing much — just a sting in my pocket. The upper deck, where the bar was, was offered for those who were willing to pay PhP 100 more for cocktails and “a better view” of the bay. 

Eat-all-you-canNOT
(In your) Facing the music
When dinner started, the singers, a duo of an old man who sounded like a really bad version of Allan K and a younger woman who mispronounced every word in every song, began their grand show. They had duets of some 80's songs and versions of versions of pop songs. They had a long list of people to greet after every song and that made me wonder how many people exactly boarded the ship that night. In the middle of dinner, “guest performers” were called in and two ladies enthusiastically ran up to the front to begin their song numbers. It wouldn't have been so bad if we weren't in the middle of Manila Bay where the only option was to jump out to the water. All four of them sang in turns until the ship docked an hour and a half later. 

Was I ever so glad that Attika was running around grabbing people's hairs, tablecloths and knocking down chairs. That got me very busy and that somehow offered some comfort to a harrowing night. 


Let the music play--no, no,no!
The other guests in the restroom 
Of all the things that I experienced in the ship, the one in the restroom was probably something that I could not let go easily. It was a dingy, tiny space with an uncovered trash bin. There seemed to have been no effort from the management to do something about the walls so it would look even just a bit better than panels drooling with slime. While I was in there, a tiny guest came crawling freely towards my shoe. Then another one crossed my path when I was about to leave. Really, inviting cockroaches to a dinner buffet is not the way to go. 

When all else fails, give yourself a Moon bath
To say that the dinner turned out grody is the truth exactly. However, I don't like letting experiences like that turn me into a kvetching mother of two Aliens. We do get a lot of gorgeous views of the moon every night from where we live, but watching the full moon while floating in the middle of Manila Bay offered a whole new perspective, a winsome experience for our family — that's the only reason why I'm not screaming with multiple exclamation points in this article. 

Oh well, it's the company you keep

My awesome three
Mall of Asia. We would have loved to be in that Ferris wheel instead
I've noticed that people often end their reviews with this question: Will I go back to that place? My answer to that would be a resounding “no”. There are reviews, too, that cuss from the first word to the last then end the grammatically-challenged piece with “I will definitely go back.” What the hell's all that about?



Manila Bay dinner cruise review, Prestige Cruises, full moon, eat-all-you can, sunset, cruise ship, Philippines, family event

running in red stilettos
Yuchengco Museum

How well do you know Diego Silang, one of Philippines' most important historical figures? Unless you had a fascination for Philippine History or you sat attentively in your classes in grade school, then you might have missed significant information about his life. 

One of the challenges of teaching Philippine History for me is the fact that I have lost grasp of most of the things that I have learned. Well, okay. That's sort of an excuse for being the biggest daydreamer among the 30 students in my class then. However, the one thing that I love about being a homeschooler here in Manila is having the opportunity to relearn history through engaging ways like "exhibit talks". A number of museums host such events and for very minimal admission fees.
  
Based from experience, as a grade school student decades ago and as a homeschooling parent now, young people become more interested in history if they are not forced into it. If you tell them to sit and read a history book, chances are you will be met with a moony reaction.

Come December 1, 2012, the Yuchengco Museum will be hosting an exhibit talk entitled “Diego Silang” to be presented by Fr. Jose Arcilla, SJ, history professor, writer and scholar. He has written books, papers and several articles on history. Among his books are An Introduction to Philippine History, Rizal and the Emergence of the Philippine Nation, The Fine Print of Philippine History, and Understanding the Noli.

Imagine what a great learning experience this is going to be.

Exhibit Talk Details:

Title: Diego Silang
Speaker: Fr. Jose Arcilla SJ
Date: December 1, 2012, Saturday
Time: 3-5 PM
Place: Yuchengo Museum
 Yuchengco Group of Companies Gallery, 4th Floor
RCBC Plaza
Corner Ayala and
Senator Gil J. Puyat Avenues
Makati City
Philippines 1200
Admission Fee: P100 for adults, P50 for students, P25 for children and seniors  
Registration: Email info@yuchengcomuseum.org or call (632) 889-1234 



Philippine history, Manila, Yuchengco Museum, Diego Silang, exhibit, talk, Filipino hero, Makati, homeschooling event, history lesson, Fr. Jose Arcilla SJ


running in red stilettos

My everyday is a collection of stories, inebriated with too many plots. Plots, I call them, although I think they may simply be musings. There are days when I wake up bursting with energy, there are days, too, when desolation creeps in tacitly, then leaves unannounced. Whenever this happens, I fail to find a logical explanation for it. Perhaps it's because feelings are not meant to be thought through. Perhaps because like sunrises and sunsets feelings happen, a romantic stance, not needing rhyme nor reason. There are also days when little things convulse me with rage, but anger is always overpowered by this huge, huge wonderful thing I also fail to name. Whatever feelings my day may bring, I end it in this one place in our home where all feelings and thoughts, may they be good or bad, get lost in a wide-open space. I get swept off my feet every single day. 

Manila Bay Sunset. Taken from Cole & Attika's Sunset Balcony. November 26. 5:23 PM . Photo by Mr Young 

Manila Bay sunset, condo view, Cypress Towers, DMCI, balcony view, sunset view, Philippines



running in red stilettos
mideastyouth.com

Jennifer James, founder of Mom Bloggers for Social Good (I am a proud founding member of this wonderful organization), recently published the article “10 Global Development Stories to be Thankful For”. These are stories of success that are inspiring and empowering. One story that sent me throwing my arms up to the sky was about the banning of Female Genitalia Mutilation in Somalia.

The new Somalian government has a new constitution that states: Circumcision of girls is cruel and degrading customary practice, and is tantamount to torture. The circumcision of girls is prohibited. Please see Article 15, Item number four below. 


What is FGM?
World Health Organization defines Female Genitalia Mutilation (FGM) as a practice that “comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.”

The practice has been done for centuries and insane as it may sound, FGM is done for religious, cultural and social causes in many parts of the world. Removing the clitoris of a woman will lead to the complete or partial loss of sexual desires. A woman therefore remains "pure" and her virginity is saved for when she gets married. This alone is clearly a violation of a woman's right to decide for her own body and she is left without a choice nor a voice.  

It is unthinkable enough that people could just mutilate helpless young girls, add to that the fact that 90% of the time no anesthesia is used during a clitoridectomy, excision, infibulation, and other extreme procedures including pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing. As a woman, I know what extreme torture that could be.

FGM has no benefits to the health and even endangers the life of circumcised women as they become more prone to infections and diseases.

So hearing the news on the banning of FGM in Somalia, I raise my arms up and I thank the universe for the wonderful miracle. The banning of such practice should be done in all parts of the world. The torture of women should stop!

What are you thankful for today? Share with us your stories.

Mom Bloggers for Social Good, female circumcision, Somalia, torture of women, child abuse, domestic abuse, Africa, female genital mutilation, maternal health



running in red stilettos

















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