Thursday, July 31, 2008

Horrific Decapitation Onboard Canadian Greyhound



In the beginning, it was a road trip that went off without any incident. A Greyhound bus bound for Winnipeg via Edmonton. But as the bus travelled through Manitoba, things would take a dramatic turn for the worse. A passenger would be horrifically stabbed to death and eventually decapitated by his assailant onboard the bus. So how did this trip end in such inexplicable tragedy?


Cody Olmstead, an eyewitness of the attack, told CBC News:


"It looked kind of like a scuffle or an argument, you know, and then somebody's, like, 'Knife! Knife! Run!' so I was running up the alleyway, slapping people telling them to get going, move, get off the bus. I got pushed over, some lady got pushed over, I was just making sure everybody was OK, and we all got off the bus...."





Saturday, July 26, 2008

Video Cop-Out--Queens of the Stone Age: "Make it Wit Chu" Acoustic

In keeping with my potpourri of youtube selections, I thought I'd leave you all with this Queens of the Stone Age tune that I just can't get enough of right now...



Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Omar Khadr Interrogation Tape Released

According to the CBC, a tape was released earlier today revealing a then-16 year-old Omar Khadr being interrogated by a member of CSIS at Guantanamo Bay. Khadr's lawyer pressed for the declassification of the interrogation DVDs to pressure the Canadian government into advocating for the young man's release from the controversial prison. Read the entire story here...


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Deconstructing "Interracial"...


So I'm in Vancouver visiting the cousins. We're at Pin Pin, the Filipino eatery, and everyone is snickering over the latest family joke as the row of Pinoys stare across the table at their White significant others, some of whom are daringly digging into the mystery meat, dinaguan. Being as unabashedly un-PC as we are, there is talk about accidentally "wiping-out the Filipino blood in our family" if the kids keep on dating and marrying Caucasians--an obvious pattern considering all four of us are in mixed-race relationships...


But besides some minor cultural barriers (ie. never referring to filipino elders by their first name--EVER--but instead using the universal Tita/Tito and Lola/Lolo--unless you want to risk a harsh slipper to the rear end; or accepting the fact that Filipinos will always eat fish with their hands since it's the most common sense way to pick out the bones), all of our boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, and wives have embraced our colourful family dynamic, while our Pinoy relatives have lovingly welcomed the in-laws with open arms despite the obvious interracial-ness of our relationships.


Sadly, I know the issue would have been a lot more controversial just a generation ago...


When my aunt arrived in Canada over 40 years ago, she was only 22 years-old. Winnipeg's Health Science Centre was recruiting nurses from abroad to join their growing team and my auntie, straight out of Nursing School, was forturnate enough to be chosen for the program. She was elated. The hospital was acting as her official sponsor so Auntie would have no problem gaining her permanent residency, and the accelerated training program would allow her to receive her Canadian RN credentials in no time. When it was all said and done, she would become the first Filipina nurse--EVER--at the Health Science Centre.


Somewhere along the way, Auntie had started dating. A young and strapping army sergeant began courting her and soon after, they were married. And even though the couple were happy and successful with up-and-coming careers, there was an undercurrent of disconnect brewing on her side of the family.


Auntie's new husband was Black and not everyone was on-board with this mixed-race marriage.


And without getting into the specifics of this family drama, I will tell you that for awhile, things did get a little ugly. Hurtful words were spoken, spiteful letters were written, and at times, entire family bonds were lost on account of their interracial courtship. To think, all of this fuss began over two shades of brown....


But that was then and this is now.


Our family has come full-circle from those days. Family gatherings are now a halo-halo of our multicultural roots--boisterous conversations in English laced with the native Cebuano, a bunch of White guys getting schooled while attempting to take on the Titas and Lolas in a game of Pusoy, and a husband proudly serving-up his first dish of pancit palabok after his mother-in-law gave him her secret recipe...


I ♥ summertime...

My mama admiring the ocean...





The view from Fleming Beach on a bluebird day...












Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Happy Canada Day eh!!!

Here's John Candy and the rest of the gang in a hilarious scene from Canadian Bacon which is oh so fitting....


Monday, June 30, 2008

12 million bees swarm northeastern New Brunswick!



The latest buzz in New Brunswick is the sound of millions of honeybees making a break for it! According to the The CBC, 12 million bees swarmed the Trans-Canada Highway after a transport truck carrying 300 crates of the insects overturned in an accident. While the morning rain managed to subdue the bees' activity, the afternoon sunshine gave way to more aggressive bee-haviour (sorry I couldn't help myself) as bee handlers started to feel the pinch of those darn stingers! Read the entire story here....

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

In the wake of Typhoon Fengshen...

Magdasal dahil sa ang Pilipinas (pray for the Philippines)...





photo courtesy of telegraph.co.uk




photo courtesy of telegraph.co.uk




photo courtesy of USA Today




photo courtesy of Sify News


Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin 1937-2008

From his "Seven Words" routine that got him thrown in the slammer by the censor police, to his memorable stint as the Buddy Christ-slingin'-Cardinal on Kevin Smith's Dogma, Carlin was a comdedic trailblazer who brought a no BS approach to his comedy where no stone--be it sex, religion, politics--was left un-turned. So in memory of Mr. Carlin, I''ll leave you with his most
(in)famous stand-up act...


George Carlin--Seven Words

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Holy Moses! BC Government introduces new carbon tax as gas prices soar to nearly $1.47 a litre on Vancouver Island!!


As I take the leisurely ferry ride from Victoria to Vancouver via the Spirit of Vancouver Island, I chuckle about how much cash can be dropped on a single 1 hour and 30 minute trip to the mainland. If you're smart (ie. thrifty), you'll sacrifice the relative inconvenience by parking your car at home to avoid the $43 vehicle charge which many of us have grin and beared in order to escape the plague of island fever. If you're even smarter, you'll pack a lunch. Even if you attempt to pinch your pennies with pre-made deli sandwiches from the ferry's concession, a dollop of tuna salad on a tiny bun will still set you back a ridiculous $6! God forbid you want a refreshing beverage to go along with that!


And this is before the introduction of new fuel charges that will begin to take effect sometime this summer, not to mention the corresponding prices of food. Imagine what a tuna sandwich and bottled water will eventually set you back on a BC ferry?


As global energy consumption continues to far surpass the world supply, West Coast gas prices are following suit. Gas station marquees are displaying a mind-blowing $1.469 a litre, with many grimly predicting that fuel prices will soar to nearly $2.00 a litre by the end of the summer...ahhhhh!


And British Columbia's provincial government has responded. While Bush calls to lift the ban on offshore drilling in U.S. coastal waters in order to increase oil production, B.C. unveiled a new plan to encourage those to conserve energy. On Tuesday, CTV reported that B.C. Finance Minister Carole Taylor introduced a new green budget in which a carbon tax will be phased in startng July 1st. According to this legislation, consumers of diesel and home heating oil will pay 2.7 cents a litre, rising to 8.4 cents a litre by 2012, while those at the pumps will be charged an extra 2.4 cents a litre, and by 2012, this tax will rise to 7.4 cents a litre by 2012.


Many B.C. residents will be less than thrilled by this new tax, but ultimately, all of us still have the choice to use as little or as much fuel as we want. Now, the only difference is that we are being charged accordingly for this precious resource as the days of the seemingly bottomless oil pit have now come to an abrupt end...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bamboo Blitz M. I. A.....

I know, I 've been the crappiest blogger ever lately!! I do assure all of you that I'm still alive and kicking in the blog world, however I've been swamped with what seems like a bazillion moving parts all moving at once--settling into a brand new house, re-adjusting back into the good ol' island life, searching for a new job, and other demanding family obligations...

But now that I've finally gotten my crap together, I will honestly start pumping out some new and (hopefully) interesting blog material. And of course, I look forward to catching up on all of your awesome blogs...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I'm baaaack...




What a journey!! So in a nutshell, here's what transpired in the last week:

  • I got married!!!
  • I helped my mom pack up her entire estate to move from Edmonton to Victoria...
  • ...and Mr. Bamboo and I drove a 16 ft. U-HAUL across BC.

To say that this was intense would probably be the understatement of the year!

But after everything was all said and done, I'm getting right back into Island life and enjoying every moment of it...

Here a couple photos of the drive through Jasper. (Most of these are car shots so you might catch some of the vermin from the windshield.) I'll be back later with shots of Victoria...









Sunday, May 18, 2008

Where in the world is Bamboo Blitz??

Fear not loyal readers...I haven't thrown in my blogging towel. However, I will be on hiatus from the site for an entire week since I'm heading back to the West Coast so expect a whole lotta Video Cop-Outs coming your way. I'll make sure to have some quality posts up by next week once I'm breathing in that salty ocean air...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Video Cop-Out: A Seinfeld Moment

Elaine's pathetic attempt at dancing still cracks me up after all of these years! Relive the moment yourself right here on the latest Video Cop-out:




Saturday, May 10, 2008

Hamilton Boy in Protective Custody After Father Opts Out of Chemotherapy


For a moment, just imagine you are at the centre of this terrible predicament...



Your 11 year-old son has leukemia. He has already undergone an aggressive round of chemotherapy and radiation treatment which nearly cost him his life. When your little boy is up for his second round of chemo, he vehemently refuses to go through with it and instead, pleads with you to allow him to die peacefully at home. According to his doctors, your son would have a fair chance of beating the cancer if he underwent the chemo.



What would you do?



Sadly, a father in Hamilton was faced with this very dilemma and chose to follow his son's wishes and discontinue his cancer therapy. As a result, The CBC reports that child welfare took custody of the boy to ensure he would undergo the treatment. According to Dominic Verticchio, the executive director of Hamilton's Children's Aid Society, an Ontario court ruled in conjunction with provincial legislation stating that it is mandatory for children to receive necessary care and treatment for their health and well being.



The boy's family is outraged. Granted limited visitation rights during his son's treatment, the Hamilton father claims that doctors initially only gave the boy a 20 percent chance of surviving the chemotherapy. If this round of treatment was successful, the father goes on to say that his son would have to undergo further radiation therapy and a bone marrow transplant in which he would only be given a 50 percent survival rate following the entire ordeal.



What do you think?



Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Myanmar Weeps After Devastating Cyclone



According to the CBC, Myanmar's cyclone Nargis has claimed a staggering 22,000 lives and nearly 40,000 more are reported missing. More than 1 million people have been left homeless in the wake of this devastating aftermath as entire villages have been completely destroyed, while several rice crops have also been lost in the storm. Read more HERE...





Photo courtesy of The New York Times





Photo courtesy of CTV News






Photo courtesy of CTV News








Monday, May 5, 2008

Video Cop-Out: Happy Cinco de Mayo folks!

Break out your tequila and coarse salt for this classic cocktail...


How to make a frozen margarita

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Gimme Back a "Nickel Bag of Funk"

There's nothing better than cruising around town on a hot summer day, and hearing Ladybug Mecca spit her ultra-smooth rhymes straight outta your speakers:


The Bloom, the Swoon, the Sugars on your block

The Planets land in flesh in the corners of New York...








And Butterfly and Doodlebug chime in to bring it all back with:


A nickel bag of funk...



Do I ever miss the era when Hip Hop actually offered a meaningful alternative to the ubiquitous T & A/bitch n' ho formula that dominates the mainstream scene today. By the end of the 90s, the popularity of Digable Planets and Native Tongues alumni--De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Black Star, and The Roots--gave way to the new wave of bling-slingin'-thug-struttin' rappers such as 50 cent, The Game, and Eminem (to name just a few). Yes, I know that Kanye (whether you love him or hate him), Pharell Williams, Lupe Fiasco, and K'naan have all significantly diversified the sound of paint by number hip hop, but I still can't help but throw it back to the days of Tribe's innovative jazz flow of "Check the Rhyme," or De La Soul's disco/breakbeat mash-up, "Rollerskating Jam."

So out of sheer nostalgia, here are a couple of MCs who broke out of the corporate mold to make Hip Hop their very own...


Digable Planets--"Nickel Bags"--2005 Reunion Tour Amsterdam






De La Soul--"Rollerskating Jam"

Thursday, May 1, 2008

What Makes You a Filipino?



What is the essence of a culture?


Is it language? Values? History?


Can we possibly pinpoint a single attribute that authenticates one's culture?


Recently, I discovered the Speak Out series on Youtube that originally aired on The Filipino Channel. A Filipino-centric talk show, Speak Out explores relevant issues in a town hall meeting-style forum.


So what happened when they got a group of Philippine and American-born Filipinos together to define the Pinoy identity ?


Well, let's just say it involved a heated debate about the subjective essence of Filipino-ness (you can watch the program HERE):


Assimilating into American culture...

  • "The message that I received was that my Filipino-ness was not good enough. And that I will not be accepted by my accent and by the way I dress. In essence, I have to shed my self of my Filipino-ness."

The language debate...

  • "They expect us to explain our [Filipino] club...you know...our mission statement in Tagalog. And then they came up and said, 'We don't think you should call yourself Filipino because you can't even speak the language!'"

  • "How are you going to tell me that you're a Filipino organization and you can't even speak Tagalog?! The essence--the foundation--of that organization...you can't even explain!"


What is American?

  • "What does Americanization mean or what is the American Dream? And who is American? When we think about this...when we think about this concept...most people think about White folks. So if a Filipino wants to be a Filipino American, are you trying to be White or trying to have the ideals of America--of freedom and democracy, and have wealth and privilege?"


What is Filipino?


  • "Let's just reverse the question: What does it mean to be Filipino? Does it mean chinellas (slippers) in the winter? Or does it mean putting our parents on a pedestal? "

Needless to say, the program stirred up a lot of strong feelings regarding the cultural authenticity of a Filipino, and I have to say I was getting pretty riled-up in the process! I guess the whole debate caught me off guard since I didn't realize such a strong rift existed between these two groups of Filipinos...but then...after thinking about it, I started to get it.


How can we strip one of their Filipino-ness on account of the fact that they may not speak Tagalog, but instead speak "fluent" English? Many of our parents believed that raising us in North America accent-free would allow us to become more successful within the larger culture, having encountered their own challenges with discrimination when immigrating to the new country. But the the seed of European superiority was obviously planted long ago...

Why do we often convince new Filipino immigrants that being American or being Canadian trumps being Pinoy? What is really dividing us? Why do Filipino American and Canadian kids often ignore their Philippine-born counterparts at school? Is it really because of their accents? OR is it because new Filipino immigrants remind us that we came from a place that's often been suppressed by our "good English" and North American privilege?



So what makes you a Filipino?

Family
loyalty is layers
of strength
as many Pinays
runs through my veins
my brown skin
at times
triggered the taunts
that have lingered
along
with Those dark times
All Pinoys share
the mountain
from which I see the world
and the way
that world
wishes to see me.




Saturday, April 26, 2008

PART I: Cheers to Staff Parties, First Dates, and Kickin' it with The New Deal!




Mr. Bamboo is always like, "When are you ever going to write about me in your blog?"



To which I usually reply, "Whenever I feel like it."



Well, I suppose the time has come...



Back in 2001, I landed a summer job as a hostess at a local Mexican restaurant. I know, it wasn't very glamourous but it did have its perks: As a starving university student, you could make just enough to pay your bills and then use your tip money to support your ridiculously booming social life. Talk about priorities, eh? An added bonus was the fact that all of my co-workers actually made my job enjoyable so it wasn't a surprise that we would often tear-up the town together outside of work.

So on one such occasion...


My employer threw a killer staff party. And by killer, I almost mean this literally. The restaurant also owned a popular club in town so they reserved a section of the bar for staff and guests only. Oh yeah, and it was an open bar event which had the potential of turning the night into quite a sh*t show considering they were dealing with a bunch of rowdy 18-24 year-olds (FYI: the legal drinking age is 18 in my hometown).

So after my co-workers and I did some mandatory schmoozing over a couple of complimentary cocktails, we soon hit the dance floor where we remained for the duration of the evening, only taking 5 every ten songs or so when the DJ decided to play a slow jam. And when "No Woman No Cry" came on, we all simultaneously made a bee-line towards the bar to grab another high ball when someone...mind you, a tall strapping young man...intercepted our current mission.

TSYM: Hey, you wanna dance?

Silence.

CO-WORKER: Um...I think he's talking to you BB [as she not-so-subtly elbowed me right smack in the chest while "whispering" this into my ear].

ME: Uh...yeah...sure. [I figured he was easy on the eyes so why not?]


So we danced. But don't worry, it wasn't one of those cheesy slow dance moments reminiscent of high school in which you awkwardly clutch onto your partner for dear life and rock back and forth like a pendulum as "Stairway to Heaven" blasts from the gymnasium speakers. Instead, we danced in mock-ballroom style, complete with exaggerated impromptu twirls which left us both in a fit of giggles by the end of Bob's song. And while I'm the sure that the open bar had a lot to do with our silly state, I was genuinely enjoying this guy's company. But my good sense reminded me that this was a crazy staff party and he was some random dude I had just met, so several of these one-night connections had probably been made throughout the evening.


By the time last call rolled around shortly after, TSYM and I went our separate ways to re-group and find our obnoxiously hammered friends. I was definitely ready for a gallon of water and my fluffy duvet so I quickly said my good-byes and booked it out of there so I could hail a cab before other taxi vultures even had a chance. Right as I had one foot firmly planted into my eagerly awaiting cab, I noticed TSYM walking right towards me...

TSYM: Wow, someone's in a hurry!

ME: Yup, I'm pretty wiped-out so I'm trying to beat that crazy post-bar rush...

TSYM: No kidding...um...so it was nice to meet you...and we really should hang out sometime. Can I have your number?

ME: [Right, I haven't heard that one before, but I still scribbled my damn number on the back an old receipt I had fished out of my bulging wallet.] Yeah, OK.

TSYM: Cool. Thanks! I'll definitely give you a ring sometime...

ME: Sounds good, bye! [It's been real, dude.]




********



Thankfully, I had booked the next day off work so I could pathetically mope around the house and rehydrate myself from the night before. When a girlfriend had phoned to re-hash staff party shenanigans, my little slow dance incident unfortunately did not go unmentioned:

GIRLFRIEND: So who was that guy you were making googly eyes with on the dance floor?

ME: Googly eyes?? Do people even say that anymore? OK, so his name is G and it wasn't a big deal. We were just dancing.

GIRLFRIEND: Oh c'mon! He was totally into you! It was the way he was looking at you!

ME: Honey, the way he was looking at me probably had something to do with all of the free booze that was being shoved down our throats last night!

GIRLFRIEND: You're such a cynic! Besides, he was damn cute.

BEEP. [Sweet, my other line. Saved by the bell.] BEEP.

ME: Just a sec--my other line...Hello?

CLICK. Damn, they hung up.

ME: Hello?

GIRLFRIEND: So who was it?

ME: I'm not sure, I just missed the call.

GIRLFRIEND: Hey wait a minute, did you give what's-his-name your number?

ME: Yeah but--

GIRLFRIEND: Oh man, it was probably HIM!!

ME: I serioulsy doubt it.

GIRLFRIEND: Star-69 it!

ME: What??

GIRLFRIEND: You know, star-69 the call so you can find out who it was...

ME: All right, Eager Beaver, you are soooo relentless!! haha! So what if it was him? He's just some random guy that I had a brief, 15-minute encounter with--end of story! Besides, how cliche is it to meet someone at a bar, let alone at a drunken gong show of a staff party??

GIRLFRIEND: Seriously, there's no action in my love life right now and frankly, there's not a lot of activity in yours either! So as your friend, I command you to hang up the phone right now and find out if he freakin' called you! What do you honestly have to lose?

OK, she did have a point...



To be continued...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I can't deny my Canadian accent!

What accent do you have?

Canadian

People from outside North America probably think you're from the States, but over here we wouldn`t make such a mistake.

Personality Test Results




**I promise you all I'll have an actual meaningful post up by the weekend. There just haven't been enough hours in the day lately!

Monday, April 21, 2008

SNOW DAY--An Unbelievable April Blizzard!!

The Canadian Prairies have been hit HARD (understatement of the year) with a relentless snowfall which has dumped more than 30 cm of the cold fluffy stuff in the region. What started off as a light flurry has now turned into a full-blown BLIZZARD!! And just to think, on Thursday, it was +15-degrees Celsius. Dammit!!



So here are a couple photos of this freak of nature. And you even get a one-time only sneak peak of Bamboo Blitz herself--in case you cared at all :)
















Saturday, April 19, 2008

Video Cop-out: Def Poetry Jam Featuring Filipino American poet--Marlon Unas Esguerra

In my search for Filipino poets on YouTube, I found Marlon Unas Esguerra's moving spoken word performance from Def Poetry. His poem really struck a nerve with me...



Monday, April 14, 2008

Health Canada's Medicinal Marijuana Plans Get Smoked Out!


According to the CBC, Health Canada's controversial medicinal marijuana system is leaving the government to pick-up a $500,000 tab of unpaid patient bills. While the agency has sent out 462 arrears notices along with corresponding calls to collection agencies, Health Canada reveals that only $2000 has been recouped in lost revenue. Out of the 739 current registered pot users, stats provided by the Access to Information Act have reveal that a whopping two-thirds are fronting delinquent accounts.


However, many patients are arguing that the government's 1500% mark-up of its supply is ludicrous considering most other medications are covered by Blue Cross or Pharmacare. Jason Wilcox has been HIV-positive since the early 90s, and uses marijuana to ease pain and to help him sleep at night. He currently owes Health Canada $6,770.06. Enraged by the government's enormous profits, Wilcox makes no qualms about sharing his true feelings: "At that point [upon discovering the government mark-up], I refused to pay. Also, not to mention that their product is crap." Read the article here...


So even though I support the government distribution of medicinal herb, I am shocked by what a gong show of a system it is! Are the Feds basically distributing weed on the honour system in which a buy now-pay later scheme allows patients to score their little baggie in the mail?! Doesn't this strike you as...I don't know...completely insane and not to mention--ineffective? Anyway, I've tried to find more info on Health Canada's payment procedure for medicinal marijuana users but I haven't had any luck thus far. So if anyone out there in cyberspace has any of the answers, I do pray thee to share...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Video Cop-Out: Edwin San Juan--A Damn Funny Filipino Comedian!

OK, so I randomly discovered this Filipino American comic, Edwin San Juan, and he almost made me laugh my socks off! He reminds me of a Filipino Russell Peters since he has a knack for poking fun at all races--Filipinos, Latinos, Caucasians--while still being funny. Sound like your thing? Well, this is definitely for your viewing pleasure then...



Thursday, April 3, 2008

Only the Mountain and I--A Tale of Tragedy and Triumph in the Canadian Rockies




All the birds have flown up and gone;
A lonely cloud floats leisurely by.
We never tire of looking at each other
-Only the mountain and I.
--Li Po, "Alone Looking at the Mountain"


While I was out suffering through a seemingly endless array of afternoon birthday shots, my friend, Kim, was shredding the slopes of Lake Louise. After high school, she had decided to leave Edmonton behind and live the mountain dream where a life of snowboarding and skiing was interrupted only by the need to make a living. This usually meant following in the footsteps of ski bums before her by earning a meager wage as either a liftee or server at the local ski hill. At this point in time, any crappy job seemed to be worth breathing in the crisp air of the Canadian Rockies every morning.



So it was safe to say that all of us back in Edmonton envied Kim’s new zen lifestyle.



But this didn’t stop me from having a grand old time on my 19th birthday. My girlfriends and I pub-hopped down Whyte Avenue like our lives depended on it—gulping down fishbowl margaritas, pounding back tequila shots, and wiping away beads of sweat as we danced the night away. From what I can remember, it was good times all around, which is more than I can say for that throbbing headache and dreadful nausea I was feeling the next morning…



For Kim, my 19th birthday was no different than any other day in her carefree existence. She awoke first thing in the morning and geared-up to ride the first tracks—untouched fresh powder—on the ski hill before heading to work later on that day. Since faster is always better when you’re carving through fresh powder, Kim was racing her friends down each bowl, letting her snowboard seamlessly cut through the snow like a hot blade through butter. Her newly waxed board began kicking things into turbo once she hit the smooth groomer runs, and her adrenalin started peaking as the wind made her pigtail braids sway like oak branches in the breeze.



She was now in the zone—confident and euphoric—so she decided to hit a table top jump once she arrived in the terrain park. This wasn’t that big of a deal considering she had hit this kicker a few times before and Kim figured that attempting a BIG AIR was only a fitting way to end a great day of riding.






So she carved right down until she was about 200 meters from the jump before launching right for it. Kim allowed her board to quickly shift between its front and back edges in order to generate enough speed needed for a successful take-off. Once she was right on the cusp of lip at the top of the incline, Kim's momentum propelled her forward so both her, and her board were now airborne...


********


RING! RING! RING!



Who the hell is calling me at 8 am in the freakin' morning!? Seriously, it's the day after my birthday and I went to extraordinary measures so I wouldn't have to: a) leave the house today, and b) do anything productive. This better be bloody important!!!!



RING! RING! RING!



ME: Hel-lo...


CALLER: It's Kim...oh my God! It's Kim! [sobbing]


ME: Jasmine?? Is this you? Are you OK? What happened to--


CALLER: We went snowboarding yesterday...and it was all good. It was a powder day...great conditions...but--


ME: Oh God...what happened, Jasmine?!


CALLER: She went off a jump...and we were cheering her on 'cos she got such big air...but the way she landed...



ME: Is Kim all right?


CALLER: It was awesome 'cos she got like 20 feet of air but--


ME: OK, this doesn't sound good...


CALLER: SHE LANDED FLAT ON HER BACK!!! Oh my God...she landed on her back...



Silence.



After Kim's accident, ski patrol medics had determined that she had sustained a very serious back injury. They notified S.T.A.R.S. Ambulance and she was then air-lifted back to Edmonton's University of Alberta Hospital. According to her doctors, Kim would have died right then and there had she not been wearing a helmet. But even though she was alive, things were still looking very very grim...



The impact of Kim's fall had crushed her spine and had caused permanent damage to her lower spinal chord. And over the span of a single minute, Kim had become a paraplegic.



It was completely devastating.



Kim had been a star athlete all of her life, playing on both the high school basketball and volleyball teams. She even found the time to play competitively on a club soccer team. Sports were her life. We were all heartbroken for her.



During the next year, Kim had to undergo rigorous physical therapy and by the time she was done, I had moved to another city to attend university. It didn't take long before life happened and we completely lost touch...


********



Years had gone by and through the grapevine, I had heard that Kim had started training as a competitive sit skiier. But at the time, I still had no idea how far she had actually gone.



So after two years of completely boycotting Facebook, I finally caved after a sudden desire to look-up long lost friends. It didn't take long before my nostalgia led me right to my old friend.



Kim had messaged me out of the blue and I was totally stoked! Not only was she a competitive sit skiier, she had joined the Alberta team just a year after her injury. In a few short years, Kim was already skiing for Team Canada as one of their star athletes. And now, at the pinnacle of her career, she was competing at the international level, even winning GOLD in the slalom at the IPC World Cup in February.


Truly amazing.



I just had to smile to myself. Leave it up to Kim to completely transcend her injury and make the best out of a seemingly tragic situation. The mountains really were her life and nothing was ever going to take that away from her.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Video Cop-out: Awesome Frou Frou Acapella Cover

I stumbled upon this acapella cover of Frou Frou's "Let Go" and I was completely blown away.


"Let Go" Acapella cover

Friday, March 28, 2008

10 Fool-Proof Ways to Piss Off Your Customers





Lately, it feels like I've been plagued with the worst customer service (EVER!!) lately. And believe me, I'm not on a high horse here. Waiting tables, bartending, and pushing designer jeans--I once did it all as a starving student so I've had my share of nightmare customers. You know...the ones who seem to thrive on making your life a living hell during that brief time you spend together:



Scenario #1: Hell's Kitchen


MEANIE: It isn't like it's rocket science! I asked for a blue rare steak--


ME: Uh...sir, that is a blue rare steak...


MEANIE: It's COLD and OVER-COOKED!


ME: Well, the steak was just briefly seared on both sides so the the centre is supposed to be cool...

MEANIE: I want a new steak NOW!!!


ME: Sure, no problem. I'll have a new striploin for you in a few minutes.


MEANIE: MAKE SURE THEY DON'T SCREW-UP THIS TIME!



Scenario #2: Rodeo "Dive"


TEEN MEANIE: Hi, I wanna like..return this bikini.


ME: OK, was it defective?


TEEN MEANIE: Um...no...I just changed my mind.


ME: I'm really sorry but swim suits are a final sale unless the garment is defective. We even stamped your receipt when you bought it.


TEEN MEANIE: Why?


ME: Um...bikinis are like undergarments so our policy is because of sanitary reasons.


TEEN MEANIE: But I didn't even...like...wear it! I just wanna get my money back!


ME: Well, your receipt says that you bought the bikini over 3 months ago...and honestly...it looks like you did wear it. I'm sorry but it is still a final sale.


TEEN MEANIE: I wanna talk to your manager!


ME: I am the manager my dear...




I'm sure you get the idea, right?



What I did learn from working in both the retail and restaurant industries is that it's one big play and you're the star of the show. You swallow your pride because a) you're getting paid to do it and b) good tips are usually a huge incentive. Difficult customers may require you to use every ounce of willpower in your body to suck-it-up but most of the time, customers are usually pretty easy going so a good sense of humour and kindness go a long way. They are paying for the experience after all...


And now that I am on the other side of the equation, it feels like I've just been getting shafted. Rude and incompetent seem to be the first words that come to mind when describing my most recent customer service experiences. Seriously, I'm a damn good tipper and really laid-back so what gives?! If I'm dropping $100 for a nice dinner or for a pair of jeans I demand good service dammit! So instead of actually confronting these servers and retail workers who clearly detest their jobs, I've decided to exorcise my angst with the following list:



10 Fool-Proof Ways to Piss-off Your Customers


1. Don't smile and make sure to speak to your customers in a really RUDE tone.


2. Act like your customers just asked you to cut-off one of your limbs when all they really wanted was another Coke.


3. Make sure to trash-talk your "bitchiest" customers out loud in a fitting room filled with other customers.


4. When your customers have waited over half-an-hour for their food, make sure to completely abandon their table and don't refill any of their drinks.


5. Don't apologize when the food finally arrives cold and a customer is missing his meal because you forgot to punch in his order.


6. Rudely stare your customers down when they walk into your clothing store.


7. When a customer calmly confronts you about over-charging her $10 for a pair of jeans, make sure to a) rudely argue about it and, b) not to apologize when a calculator proves you wrong.

8. Make your customers wait at their table for nearly 15 minutes before you greet them or take their drink order.

9. Absolutely chat about your sex life with another employee within earshot of a customer.

10. Make sure your customers know how much you hate your job. This may entail: rolling your eyes when asked a question, telling them that you're sooo hungover when they ask how you are doing, and looking like you would rather be cleaning subway toilets than serving their table right now...

Monday, March 24, 2008

When the Well Runs Dry...



Water.


Considering that it's responsible for sustaining all life on Earth, humans have become rather ingenious in manipulating this precious resource.


And this is not a new phenomenon.


From the Mesopotamians to the Aztecs to modern-day North Americans, we have all successfully conquered water with our elaborately constructed canals and irrigation systems. We've re-routed entire waterways with dams and levees, built golf courses and orange groves on deserts, and have filled swimming pools like they were going out of style.


Clearly, with our seemingly endless supply of H20, not a lot of thought was put into the fact that the well might actually run dry...


A few years ago, Marq de Villiers's Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource really opened my eyes to inevitability of this scenario. By exploring the geological and geopolitical implications of a global water shortage, de Villiers' message is clear. The world's water levels have remained constant since the beginning of geological time, and now the demand for this essential resource far exceeds the supply. Not surprisingly, those most vulnerable to this impending shortage are at the bottom of the supposed "water chain."


As the sub-Saharan desert continues to spread at an alarming rate, this desertification has exasperated the region's already overburdened water system. This, in conjunction with the fall-out of failed Structural Adjustment Programs, unstable governments, and weak economies continue to fuel famine and conflict within the region. According to "Water Stress in Sub-Saharan Africa, " Christopher W. Tatlock sheds light on the role water has played in the war in Darfur: "The crisis...stems in part from disputes over water: The conflict that led to the crisis arose from tensions between nomadic farming groups who were competing for water and grazing land—both increasingly scarce due to the expanding Sahara Desert."


And even though North Americans continue to believe that we have all the water in the world, shortages have already become a reality in California--a state that perfected the art of bringing the water to them. While Californians are no strangers to droughts, water scarcity now appears to be a long-term concern public officials are starting to address.


In the beginning of the 20th century, California began diverting watersheds from the Owens River to the San Fernando Valley by way of the Owens Aqueduct. Since this supply would only be used to irrigate agriculture, Los Angeles needed to find yet another source to quench the thirst of its residences. By the 1930s, the state had secured additional supplies from the Colorado River through the construction of a 400 mile aqueduct. So as we speak, Southern California depends exclusively on these imported reserves in order to sustain itself.


So what's the problem?


Well, it so happens that the Colorado River also supplies Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, and the country of Mexico with water. And complicating matters even more, the river has been suffering from a 5-year drought and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight. This imminent crisis has many calling into question the sustainability of this water system since the worst is still yet to come. So as a result, counties in Southern California have begun to look into alternative water sources in order to drought-proof themselves.


Orange County has decided to take the road less travelled in their search for water by spending nearly $500 million on a plant that purifies waste water into drinking water. NPR elaborates on this intricate process:


Engines push the water through the plant's microfilters. Using high pressure, reverse osmosis, it's then forced through a thin membrane. Finally, the water is injected with peroxide and blasted with ultraviolet light to remove lingering hormones and dissolved pharmaceuticals...At the end of every day, 70 million gallons of drinking water — 10 percent of what the county needs — get pumped back underground into the aquifer.


While this "toilet-to-tap" system may trigger our gag reflexes, all the water we consume has been recycled an infinite amount of times over the last 4 billion years so the idea isn't that far-fetched. Also, the project proves to be more sustainable than the former water transferring system by emitting less carbon into the atmosphere.


CBC's California Dry does a fantastic job in exploring the alternative water plans in Long Beach as city planners toy with a more controversial solution--converting sea water into drinking water through desalination. While in theory, the process sounds like a godsend, in practice, some argue that a large-scale desalination plant is only a short-term solution that can upset ocean pH levels, devastate marine life, and result in heavy carbon emissions.


However, proponents of a desalination project claim that negative implications have been carefully considered. City officials ensure that only the most efficient technologies will be used in the process, while certain marine habitats will even be reconstructed (ie. fish farms) in order to offset the destruction of their natural environments.


So even though sub-Saharan Africa and California are only two out of the many regions currently grappling with water scarcity, they can be seen as significant microcosms of times to come if we don't start conserving and fairly distributing the world's most valuable resource.



Sources:

California Dry--CBC documentary (watch it online)

"Low flow in the Colorado River Basin spurs water shortage discussion among seven states"

"Stepping Outside the Box:Water in Southern California"

"'Toilet to Tap' Planned for Orange County Water"

Water Education Foundation

Water Stress in Sub-Saharan Africa

Friday, March 21, 2008

Video Cop-Out: "Bohemian Rhapsody"-- amazing acapella cover

In this latest installment of Video Cop-out, I thought you would all enjoy the UC Men's Octet acapella rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody." Seriously, you have to check it out because it's really impressive...



Monday, March 17, 2008

Tag Teamin' and Sporadic Posting


Happy St. Patty's Day everyone! I apologize for my sporadic posts. I've been really busy with family and work-related stuff so I'm hoping I can get back to my regular blogging routine very soon. In the meantime, perhaps you'll enjoy learning some very trivial tidbits about me a' la memes as both Ivy and Zen have tag-teamed me.

Since I am now officially IT...

I'll start with Ivy's alphabet meme in which I tell you 26 random facts about myself that...if you haven't already guessed...correspond with each letter. Since this a lot more difficult than it seems, I thought I'd narrow the field by sharing some of my favourite movies instead:


A- Adaptation, Apocalypse Now

B- Blow

C- Clerks, Chasing Amy, and Canadian Bacon

D- Dogma (Can you tell I'm a big Kevin Smith fan?)

E- Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, Empire Strikes Back

F- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fight Club

G- Gardenstate

H- High Fidelity

I- I ♥ Huckabees, It's a Wonderful Life

J- Jackie Brown, Jacob's Ladder

K- Kill Bill

L- Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

M- Magnolia

N- National Lampoon's Animal House

O- Office Space

P- Pulp Fiction

Q- "Queen Bitch" --Yes, as in the Bowie song because I can't think of any movies...

R- The Royal Tenenbaums, Rushmore, Return of the Jedi

S- Swingers, Say Anything

T- Thelma and Louise

U- Usual Suspects

V- Van Wilder

W- Wizard of Oz, Wayne's World

X- American History X (I know, this doesn't start with an X but close enough...)

Y- The Yards

Z- Zoolander


Now moving on to Zen's 5 things meme, I have to match each category with my corresponding post:


1. Family: I think "Ode to El Familia" is an obvious choice.

2. Friends: I try not to trash-talk my friends too much behind their backs so they are often spared from my blog. However, I did make an exception for "What Happens in Mexico, Stays in Mexico...until now" since it was definitely a story worth telling!

3. Myself: Seriously? Like Zen, I'm a vapid narcissist (kidding) so my blog often revolves around ME. But if I had to choose a fave, I suppose it would be "Oh! Yeah! I wanna riot!--Slam Dancing to Pinoy Punk Rock."

4. My Love: Much to his dismay, I usually steer clear of blogging about Mr. Bamboo so this is a work in progress...

5. Anything you like: Well, in that case here are some of my faves--"The Quest for Cool", "The View from Baghdad", and "Tenenbaum Truths".


So here's the moment of truth. I'm tagging Wil, Yuk0, Soup, Divinyl, and any of my friends at Pax Compoundia. Just choose whatever meme fits your fancy and tag away. Oh yeah, and make sure to enjoy a couple of green pints today...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

What's your heritage?











When I first started my blog back in November, it felt like I was this leaky faucet just dripping with ideas. My inspiration stemmed from my desire to explore the unique faces of the Pinay identity. It was a way of reaffirming my own sense of self since coming into my mixed Filipina Canadian heritage had definitely been a work in progress.

Throughout my youth, I had convinced myself that I was a Canadian that just happened to be Filipino. So being a Filipina was merely a consequence of my ancestry. Whenever I answered the well-played-out What's your heritage? question, I always felt the need to emphasize my Canadian-ness in my explanation: “I was born in Canada but my family is from the Philippines.”

It was a reflex I had developed over the years in order to convince people that I really was one of them even though I didn’t look like them. It was a second skin I had grown way back in elementary school when kids would shrug their shoulders and crinkle up their faces in puzzlement whenever I said I was a Filipino, as if this was synonymous with me saying I am a Martian. And at the time, it was my way of resolving both my Filipino and Canadian identities since I perceived them to be two diametrically opposed entities.

Complicating matters even more was the way my family always seemed to blame my teenage shortcomings (ie. cutting classes and missing curfew) on my Canadian (ahem...White) friends, convinced that all of my own free will suddenly flew out the window when I was in the company of these infamous ringleaders.

While peer pressure obviously played a large part in my teenage rebellion, I'm pretty sure that race had nothing to do with anything considering I knew a bunch of Filipino kids, and Chinese kids, and Indian kids who used to smoke cigarettes and cut classes all the time. It was like a right of passage or something. But before I get carried away here, my point is that my family had harnessed these discriminative notions of Canadian culture from their own coming to America experiences. To them, I was doing my Pinay heritage a grave injustice by behaving more Canadian. What that really meant was well beyond me and somehow I felt like I was a square peg trying to fit into a round hole.

So with all sob stories aside...

I started to figure things out. Seeing the amazing work done by Dr. Melinda L. de Jesus (Pinay Power Peminist Critical Theory: Theorizing the Filipina/American Experience) and Sabrina Margarita Alcantara-Tan (Bamboo Girl) made me realize that I was walking down a well-worn path paved away by millions of other Filipina Canadians and Americans. We were nurses, and punks, and teachers, and queers, and professors, and activists. Some of us could speak Tagalog, while others could barely utter a single sentence in our ancestral tongue due to highly held values of assimilation. Some of us were raised in strict Catholic households where girls were just girls, while others were taught the values of Pinay Power. But despite our uniqueness, we were all Filipinas.

As I began to connect the dots, I couldn't help but feel this overwhelming affinity for all of the women in my family.

So what's my heritage?

While I was the only Filipina at those punk rock shows, my aunt was the first Filipina nurse to arrive at Winnipeg’s Health Science Centre. As I crowd-surfed my way closer to my favourite band, yet another aunt carried her sister on her back as they fled from the Japanese during the Second World War. And even though I had earned my own shred of street credibility, my mother was busy earning two academic degrees and balancing the responsibilities of single motherhood.

That's who I am...





**Note: A section of this post was previously published in my article,"That's What a Filipina Is!", which appears in the latest issue of RicePaper Magazine.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

International Women's Day--A 10 Year-Old Girl's Afghan Vision



At only 10 years-old, Alaina Podmorow of Kelowna, BC is proving that emerging generations of women are already becoming visionaries ahead of their time. After attending a lecture where journalist and human rights activist, Sally Armstrong, educated the audience about the blatant oppression of Afghan women and girls under Taliban rule, something all of a sudden clicked for the young girl.


Alaina couldn't believe that many Afghan girls had been denied an education under the strict religious laws. Even after the fall of the Taliban in Afganistan in 2001, many families still feared sending their daughters to school due to serious safety concerns. And since cultural norms dictated that girls be taught by female teachers, the shortage of this demographic within the work force stood as a further obstacle between Afghan girls and their rights to an education.


So from these new dark truths emerged Alaina's epiphany: "On the way home, I was telling my mom how moved I was and I decided I wanted to start my group, Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan." And so her movement was born...


Shortly after, Alaina organized a club of the same name at her elementary school. She successfully recruited 18 members, all young girls from her fifth grade class. Meeting every lunch hour to discuss group activities, the girls decided that Little Women for Little Women (LW4LW) would organize a series of fundraising campaigns in order to raise enough money to pay for the wages of female teachers in Afghanistan. According to this reasoning, educated Afghan women would become encouraged to become teachers if they commanded a higher salary.


During LW4LW's first fundraiser, Alaina's group raised $750 by selling donuts and recycling. This initial achievement motivated Alaina to strive for bigger and better things. She set her sights on raising even more funds through a community potluck. And after it was all said and done, all of the hard work paid off--LW4LW received $1500 in donations.


From these humble beginnings emerged and unstoppable movement. Alaina's original vision inspired Canadian girls nationwide, spawning other LW4LW chapters throughout the country. While the group has collectively raised $30,000 to date, this number was about to grow exponentially.


The Canadian government had heard Alaina's story and invited the young activist to a International Women's Day gala in Ottawa on March 6, 2008. Since her enormous contributions to the community and abroad have resulted in the employment of dozens of female teachers within Afghanistan, the federal government agreed to match all of LW4LW's earnings dollar for dollar.



*******

In order to encourage other Canadian mothers and daughters to get involved with LW4LW, Alaina posted letters to Mum on the Women for Afghan Women website. I would like to leave you with one of her letters:


Dear Moms,

I would like you to take a moment and visualize a little girl in Afghanistan. In her heavy black dress, no shoes on her feet, she walks for 4 hours to get to school. She feels like she is being watched as she walks along the path. At any second somebody could attack her. She frantically looks behind her but she continues on because she has to get to school. She is not being forced to go - she would do anything to go. Now visualize her face. Now visualize your daughter is that girl. Isn’t that frightening? It is hard to imagine girls just like your daughters, are in danger. What’s the best thing you can do? Keep teaching. What’s the worst thing you can do? NOTHING!



I challenge all Moms to tell their daughters to make a difference. I would like to see little girls across this country go to meetings with their moms for women in Afghanistan. I have started Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan in my chapter of CW4WA in Kelowna BC. My dream would be to see little girls do the same across Canada. If your daughters want to start their own chapter in your area please contact me at lw4lw@telus.net.


Sincerely, Alaina



CBC News--Video Featuring Alaina

Little Women for Little Women Official Site

Women for Afghan Women Official Site

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