Hanging up my running shoes

Yes, you read the title right. I’m hanging up my running shoes.

Though it does not mean I am done with running. What I mean is I am retiring my old beat-up running shoes.

I got this particular running shoes about 2 years ago, and I even wrote about it (see post Heart and Sole here).

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from my post: Heart and Sole

After only a couple of months of having it, my new running shoes was stolen. Somebody swiped it, right in my garage! We had different service crew and repairmen visit our home that day, and I don’t know what happened. But the next thing I know, my shoes were gone. I just hope that whoever it was, he had put it to good use.

I like that shoes very much that I replaced it with exactly the same kind. Since then, that shoes had taken me to many places.

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Iowa State Fair, while riding the sky lift

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Badlands, South Dakota

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Vail, Colorado

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Grand Teton, Wyoming

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Sedona, Arizona

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Chicago, Illinois

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Boston, Massachusetts

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Hamilton, New Jersey

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Arches National Park, Utah

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Grand Canyon

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Metro Manila, Philippines 2014

It also served its purpose, as I used it for my regular morning runs. It even let me finish not just one, but two half marathons. Is that equivalent to doing the full marathon?

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Des Moines Marathon 2012

“Hindi lang pang-pamilya, pang-sports pa!”

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Des Moines Marathon 2013

Now the shoes has way more than 500 miles under its belt. Experts on running recommends replacing your shoes after 300 to 400 miles of running. This is to prevent injury, as old shoes loses its stability and support.

Over the past two years, it gotten worn-out, got dusty from running on the dirt road, and even got muddy. Though taking me to the above places and finishing marathons were not the only accomplishment of these shoes.

These shoes got seriously dirty when they walked the muddy streets of Tacloban, and gave service to people affected by the typhoon Haiyan (local name:Yolanda) in the Philippines.

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Tacloban airport, after typhoon Haiyan

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ACTS World Relief Team, Tacloban 2013

In that regard, it went beyond it’s purpose of a running shoes.

I’m hanging you up now, my old and faithful running shoes.

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A Perfect Day

I was on-call last weekend. It was not particularly busy that I was drowning in work, but enough to keep me occupied in the hospital most of the days during the weekend. I had more toxic calls before, so I really cannot complain.

I was making my rounds in the hospital and making headway on my long list of patients to see. I have seen all the ICU patients and working on the rest of the patients in the hospital. On my way to the other side of the hospital, I passed the crossway that overlooks the center garden of the hospital.

I stopped for a while and gazed longingly at the garden.

our hospital's central garden

our hospital’s central garden

It was already early in the afternoon. It was sunny, but the temperature outside was not hot, nor was it cold. It was just right. It was early September after all, when summer and autumn are in their crossroads.

It was a perfect day to be outside.

I could have been outside. I could have been sitting outside in that garden with the beautiful flowers in bloom. I could have been outside shooting hoops with my son. Or could have been outside having barbecue with my friends. Or could have been outside riding my bike on some engaging bike trail. Or could have been outside just lying on a hammock under a tree. I could have been outside……

Instead, I was inside the hospital walls. Working.

The next stop on my rounds was the Oncology floor. I entered the room of our patient who has history of rectal cancer and was treated several years ago. But now found to have his cancer come back with vengeance, spreading to his lungs. I was suddenly reminded of my mother who has the same circumstances.

My patient was having difficulty breathing. It was quite obvious that even with high flow oxygen he was struggling. Every movement was an effort. He has been hospitalized for some time now, with no clear indication of when he can go home. Or will he ever?

As I entered his room, he was looking at the window. He was looking at the same central garden that I was looking at, a little while ago. Perhaps he had the same thoughts that I had: I could have been outside enjoying this beautiful day.

But he can’t. And perhaps he never will.

That’s when a thought dawned on me. There’s a reason why I am not outside. I was placed here inside these hospital walls, for a sacred duty to care and give comfort for people who cannot enjoy a beautiful day outside, just like today.

It was a perfect day indeed.

********

(*photo taken with an iPhone)

 

Santa Fe, A Historic Destination

About a month ago we went for a long road trip that took us to Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. After spending several days in the Grand Canyon and Arizona, we retreated to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Santa Fe is nestled at the foot of Sangre de Cristo Mountains and has an elevation of about 7000 feet above sea level.

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We stayed at a rustic lodge, just at the outskirt of the town proper.

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Here we spent a couple of relaxing days together, including quiet dinners under the soft light of Santa Fe sky.

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Though that sky can turn turbulent in no time.

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view from our room

It was in 1610 that the Spanish founded this town, that is now known as Santa Fe. Come to think of it, it was 10 years before the Pilgrims even landed in New England. Santa Fe is an eclectic mix of something old and something new.

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The iconic Route 66 passes through the heart of this town. What better photo to represent this mixture of old and new than the picture below.

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Road sign of historic Route 66, with a vintage Chevy truck and a relatively new Corvette.

With the name Santa Fe or “Holy Faith” (it was named originally as La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís, the Royal Town of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi), it is quite obvious that this town has a rich religious history.

Below is the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis Assisi which was built in 1869.

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Not too far from the cathedral is the Loretto Chapel which was built in 1872.

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This chapel is known for its “miraculous” stairway. The staircase is an impressive work of carpentry, and is built without attachment to a wall or pole.

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However, the real life of today’s Santa Fe, is after the church mass and is outside the cathedral and chapel, when the whole downtown is turned into one big marketplace.

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See the bursting colors of the marketplace.

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We were even fortunate to witness a group of young Spanish dancers performing live and for free, at the center of the town. An old tradition that is handed down to the new generation.

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Below is a photo of different “dancers” that I saw in Santa Fe, hovering among the flowers. Initially I thought they were hummingbirds as I heard a certain “buzz” when they were flying. But actually they are a type of moth.

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For some reason, this town like chili peppers. Not just in their food, but also in their art.

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Bunch of peppers being sold in the sidewalk.

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String of peppers hanging as ornaments.

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We also sampled some of its unique cuisine. It was more than just peppers.

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one of the restaurants we dined in

Visiting Santa Fe was a memorable experience for us. It left quite an impression on me.

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I think I like our visit so much that I even brought a token home from our stay there.

Yes, that is a traffic ticket. And I admit, it was all my fault.

(*some photos taken with DSLR and some with an iPhone)

 

Soaked from the Rain

During my recent short stint (only 7 days) in the Philippines, I have experienced once again the heavy rain showers of Manila. There were no typhoons, just run-of-the-mill soaking monsoon rains of the tropics.

In one instance while I was there, the heavy rains have caused flooding in Metro Manila that traffic crawled to a halt. I even heard in the evening news that my alma mater, University of Santo Tomas, was forced to close the school due to high floods in España. This brought a flood of memories as well, of my wading days in “water world” of Manila.

Our family have also experienced another type of rain. Rain that just not soak us wet but can bring us down to our knees. Yet these rains if we survive them, can make us strong.

I went home because my mother was not doing well. At one point she was even knocking on heaven’s doors.

I spent most of my stay in the Philippines inside the hospital, University of the East Ramon Magsaysay (UERM), where my mother was admitted. In fact, I slept a couple of nights in the hospital not as a doctor-on-call, but as a “bantay” or watcher of a patient. My mother must have appreciated that she have me as her bantay, not because I am a doctor, and an ICU specialist at that, but more so, that I was there as her son.

The system in the Philippines is kind of different that all patients have a family member, as a watcher, to attend to the patient’s need while they are in the hospital. In the US, rarely any patient have a watcher. They have a call light to summon the nurse if they need something. That’s it. No wonder, patients feel all alone.

One day while I was the watcher in the hospital, I went out to SM Santa Mesa mall, which was a couple of blocks away from UERM, to get lunch, as I was getting tired of the food from the hospital cafeteria. I have nothing against hospital food though.

Then it rained. Heavy downpour.

I got stranded at a waiting shed near SM during the rainfall. Of course I did not bring an umbrella. I think an umbrela will be useless in that heavy downpour anyway.

I was waiting for the rain to lighten up. But as I looked up in the sky it was getting even darker, and I may be waiting there for a long, long time. I knew I needed to get back to the hospital.

So I decided to run in the rain in full abandon.

I got wet. Though not really drenched. But to me the rain was refreshing as it cooled me off and washed away some of the afternoon heat.  It also helped clear my mind and realize what my real priorities in life were. Not getting wet was not one of them. Besides, why are we afraid to get soaked from the rain anyway?

We may prefer eternal blue skies and beautiful summer days. We don’t like the rain to spoil our fun. We don’t like the rain to wet our beautiful outfit. We don’t like the rain to ruin our perfect plans.

Yet, rain and clouds are part of our lives. I don’t mean just the weather.

I am back in Iowa now. And we are also getting unseasonable lots of rain here. We have plenty of rain that the grass here are still so green even if it’s almost end of summer. Usually by this time of year here, the grass has started to turn brown. But I’m not complaining.

This morning, I finally came out to run after fighting jet-lag for several days. I was trying to put back on track my training for the half marathon which is not too long from now, since my training was temporarily derailed by my emergent and unscheduled trip to the Philippines.

As I came out, the road was wet from the heavy rain last night. I have noticed thousands of earthworms scattered in the paved road. Why earthworms go out after the rain is not really clear. Some experts say the rain drive them out of their burrows so they will not drown, while other experts refute this, as earthworms don’t drown, and they can live totally submerged in water for few days.

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earthworms out after the rain

In any case, these earthworms who are now on the road, will die and will get baked in the heat of the sun, unless they get back to the soil in time. Are they afraid to get soaked from the rain too? But trying to run away from getting soaked put them more in harm’s way.

While I was running, the dark rain clouds gathered around above me again, taunting to pour down its contents.

I’m not an earthworm. And I’m not afraid of the rain anymore.

Let it pour.

*******

(*photo taken in our neighborhood, with an iPhone)

 

 

 

 

Duyan ng Aking Kabataan

Ako ay muling nagbalikbayan. Mga paa ko’y muling tumapak sa lupang hinirang. Tahanan ng mga mauusok na bus at jeepney. Muli akong nakipagsiksikan sa mga humahangos na pasahero ng Maynila.

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Muling tumahak sa masalimuot at magulong lugar ng Metro Manila at muli akong sumuot sa masisikip na kalye at mga eskinita.

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Muli akong natulog sa maalinsangang sinapupunan ng siyudad ng Maynila. Muling naranasang dumungaw sa bintana na may mga palamuting pinatutuyong sinampay, at tumanaw sa ibabaw ng mga yerong dikit-dikit.

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Ngunit sa kabila ng maikling panahon ng aking pagbisita, ay nagkaroon din naman ng pagkakataong makapagpalamig sa marangya’t mamahaling lugar ng Maynila. Hindi sa ospital ang tinutukoy ko, kahit apat na araw din ang ginugol ko so loob nito.

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Sa maikling pagkakataon, ay akin muling natuklasan ang alindog ng siyudad na aking kinagisnan. Siyudad na sa akin ay umaruga mula ng ako’y musmos na bata.

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Nagkaroon din ako ng pagkakataong masilayan muli ang naglalarong alon ng Manila Bay habang nananaog ang araw sa kanyang kinaluluklukan.

Tunay na ang lugar na ito ay duyan ng aking kabataan.

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(*all photos taken with an iPhone)

Alapaap

Alapaap.

Iyan ang aking nakita, sa pagdungaw ko sa bintana. Muli akong nasa himpapawid. Lumilipad. Naglalakbay. Pabalik sa aking lupang sinilangan.

Isip ko ay lumilipad at naglalakbay din. Ngunit hindi tulad ng eroplanong aking sinasakyan na mapayapang tumatahak sa mga alapaap, ang biyahe ng aking isip ay maligalig at matagtag.

Mula nang ako’y lumisan ng ating bansa, dalampung taon na ang nakalilipas, ay maraming beses na rin naman akong nakapagbalik-bayan. At lagi sa aking pagbabalik ay may bitbit itong galak at pananabik. Galak na muli akong tatapak sa lupang tinubuan. At pananabik na makita muli ang iniwang pamilya’t mga kaibigan.

Kahit nang ako’y umuwi noong nakaraang Nobyembre bilang isang medical volunteer para tumulong sa mga nasalanta ni Yolanda, ang naramdaman ko’y hamon na may kahalo pa ring pananabik. Pananabik na makapagbigay ng lunas at ginhawa sa mga kababayang nasakuna ng bagyo.

Ngunit kaka-iba ang pagkakataong ito ng aking pagbabalik. Walang galak. Walang panananabik. Kundi pagkabahala sa kakaibang bagyo na aming sasagupain.

May katiyakan naman ang aking patutunguhan. May katiyakan rin ang oras ng aking pagdating at paglapag sa Maynila. Ngunit hindi ko tiyak kung ano ang aking daratnan. Hindi ko rin tiyak kung gaanong kaikling panahon pa ang sa amin ay inilaan.

Pero ganyan daw talaga ang buhay. Walang katiyakan.

Hindi ko sasabihing hindi ko batid na darating din ang pagkakataong kagaya nito. Ngunit katulad ninyo, ako’y nagnanais at umaasa na sana ay malayo pa ang takipsilim. Sana ay magtagal pa ang tag-araw. Sana ay hindi pa matapos ang awit. Sana ay mahaba pa ang sayaw. Sana……..

Subalit tanggapin man natin o hindi, ang lahat ay may hangganan at may katapusan.

Maraming bagyo na rin naman ang aming pinagdaanan. At kahit gaano kalupit ang hagupit ng unos, ito ay nakakaya ring bunuin. At kahit dumadapa sa dumadaang delubyo ay muli rin namang nakakabangon.

Hindi lang bagyong kagaya ni Ondoy o Yolanda ang aking tinutukoy.

Ngunit kahit gaano pa kaitim ang mga ulap na kumumubli sa liwanag, at kahit gaano kalakas ang sigwa na yumayanig sa pagod na nating katauhan, at kahit gaano pa kahaba ang gabi, ay ating tatandaan na lagi pa ring may bukang-liwayway sa kabila ng mga alapaap.

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Atin na lang ding isipin na sa ibabaw ng mga alapaap ay palaging nakangiti ang araw. Sa ibabaw ng mga alapaap ay laging mapayapa. Sa ibabaw ng mga alapaap ay walang nang bagyo. Walang nang pagkakasakit. Walang nang paghihinagpis. Walang na ring pagtangis.

Malapit nang lumapag ang aking eroplanong linululanan. Malapit na rin akong humalik muli sa inang-lupa na aking sinilangan. Muli rin akong hahalik sa mukha ng aking ina na sa akin ay nagsilang.

Sana ay magkita pa kami. Sana ay abutan ko pa siya………..bago siya maglakbay sa ibabaw ng mga alapaap.

*********

(*photo taken at 30,000 feet)

Post Note 1: nagpang-abot pa kami.

Post Note 2: delayed at on-hold ang kanyang “byahe.”

 

Fair and Flair

Recently we had guests again from out-of-state who came to visit us here in Iowa. And where did we take them? Bridges of Madison County? Iowa State Capitol? Wind turbines of Iowa? Lots and lots of Iowa cornfields? Seen that. Done that.

This time we brought them to the biggest Iowa attraction. No, not the Iowa Caucuses. But something similar with that flair of craziness. We brought them to the Iowa State Fair.

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25-foot sculpture depicting Grant Wood’s famous “American Gothic.”

The Iowa State Fair is an 11-day event every August that attracts millions of visitors each year. There is something for all your fancies and interest in the fair.

Of course, since we are an agricultural state, it is hard to miss the sights and sounds of farming.

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Farming equipment and tractors

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More tractors

There’s also livestocks and produce that are showcased in the fair, like the heaviest pig or the biggest pumpkin. Below is the 1st price pumpkin.

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How much pumpkin pie can you make out of this?

If you want to experience to milk a cow, you can do it at the milking parlor. And speaking of cow, one of the most iconic piece of the Iowa State Fair is the sculpted butter cow.

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butter cow inside the refrigerated showroom

That cow is 600 pounds of butter. That can butter 19,200 slices of toast!

Do you know that the first sculpted fair’s cow was done in 1911? Since then every year a new butter cow is sculpted and graces the fair.

But do you know that since 1911, only 5 persons so far have done the sculpting? The latest butter cow sculptor apprenticed for 15 years to the previous sculptor, before she became the official sculptor starting in 2006. What a tradition!

There are also different shows and contests. From hog calling contest, to yodeling contest, to rooster crowing contest, to beard growing contest. You name it, it’s here.

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There’s even a contest trying to get your votes,  as you can see political candidates – from presidential aspirants to local government candidates, especially if it is an election year – mingling with the crowds, among other clowns that can be seen in the fair. Did I just call them clowns?

There’s also concerts that are more “mainstream” if you will. The Goo Goo Dolls, Daughtry, Lady Antebellum, Foreigner, and Styx are some of the big names that are performing this year at the state fair.

If it is the thrill of rides that you’re looking for, we have it as well.

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riding the sky glider

From sky glider which is like a riding a ski lift, to ziplines, to giant slides, to roller coasters, to several storey-high slingshot. We have it here.

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Lastly, the food at the fair is a different class of its own. They have everything on a stick. Corn-on-the-cob on a stick or hotdog on a stick? That’s too common. How about pork chop on a stick? Or funnel cake on a stick? Yes, they do have it.

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And everything deep-fried. Like deep-fried Twinkies, or deep-fried Milky Way, or even deep-fried butter! You read it right. Deep-fried stick of butter on a stick! They might as well call it heart attack on a stick!

For me though, the most interesting show in the fair, are the people themselves.  With their different strangeness and idiosyncrasies, just watching the people is entertaining enough for me. I may be one of those bizarre ones. It’s way more than fun.

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Come for a visit and see it for yourself. And bring your weirdness with you. It’s accepted here.

(*all photos taken with my iPhone)

 

Conquering the Arches

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The above photo was not taken by Mars Rover. It was taken by me here on Earth. In Utah to be exact.

The Arches National Park near Moab, Utah is an interesting place. It has landscapes that has this out-of-this-world feel, like an alien terrain.

In fact many Sci-fi movies – like Galaxy Quest, Star Trek, John Carter of Mars, and After Earth, to name a few – were filmed around this place. Of course it is also a popular location for Western movies.

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We have visited Moab and the Arches National Park not once but twice, not because we are from Mars. The first time was eight years ago, when we joined a group tour after I attended a doctor’s convention in Salt Lake City. The second time was two weeks ago when we passed by this place on our way to Grand Canyon, Arizona.

There are many baffling stone formations that can be seen in this place. Below is the “Balanced Rock.”

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How long would that rock stay balanced is a fair question. It looks like it would only take a small nudge from Wile E. Coyote, and down the rock would fall.

Then there are these building-like structures. Believe it or not the formation below is called “Park Avenue.” It may be similar to Park Avenue in New York City, without the crowd and traffic.

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Even the clouds in this place can be out-of-this-world! The photo below is not photoshopped.

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But the most unusual structures in this National Park, are the “arches” of course. Below is a photo of one of them.

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Most of these structures can be viewed by just driving around the park.

Yet the most recognizable structure and maybe the best known in the park is the Delicate Arch. However to see this beauty, requires a 3-mile hike round trip from the paved road. The hike is not so easy as well, as it is mostly uphill, and there’s even parts that the path is narrow and close to a cliff.

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Delicate Arch

During our first visit to this park, my son was only 3 years old at that time, but he was able to climbed up and see this arch. My fear then was not so much that he would get tired and I would have to carry him the rest of the way, but more so that he would wander off the path and fell off the cliff. But he made it through, and I was so proud of him.

As for my daughter, she was 8 years old during our first visit. Unfortunately she got sick, with gastroenteritis, and was vomiting that day, and so she was unable to do the hike and was not able to see the Delicate Arch, for which she was deeply disappointed.

To appease her, we just bought her a jigsaw puzzle of a picture of the Delicate Arch from the Park’s gift shop.

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However, on our second visit, my daughter was determined to make the hike and see the Delicate Arch. It did not matter if it was not really part of our plan to do the hike, as our plan was just to drive through the park, for our final destination of that day was the Grand Canyon, which was still about 6 hours drive from Moab, Utah.

It did not matter as well if the weather was hot as it was almost 100 degrees F and it was in the middle of the day. My daughter was so determined to see what she failed to see eight years ago.

This time she would not be denied. So we did the hike.

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Above is my daughter on her way to the arduous and long hike to the Delicate Arch.

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Stopping to enjoy the “breathtaking” view. Or the hike was “breathtaking” so we have to stop to catch our breath.

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Continuing the uphill trek.

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My daughter and my wife in the relatively narrow path, trying to stay away off the edge, which were hundreds of feet drop.

After some period of time of hiking, and several stops of rest; and after a lot of panting and buckets of sweat, here is my daughter taking a photo of the arch. She made it!

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Joan of Arch?

With that kind of determination, I think she’s ready to explore and conquer the world. Or Mars, if that’s what she wants to do.

 

Ebolusyon ng Wika

Pilipino ang wika na aking kinamulatan. Ito rin ang wika na malugod kong tinanggap. Sa pamamagitan ng pagsasalita ay aking napahiwatig ang aking pangangailangan.

Mama. Kain. Tubig. Tulog. Kumot.

Sa wika ring ito, ako’y natutong makipag-kapwa at ipahayag ang aking saloobin.

Laro tayo. Sali ako. Taguan tayo. Sige, ikaw taya. Ayoko na. Madaya ka.

Nang pumasok na sa eskwela, ako’y natuto ring bumaybay at bumasa sa Pilipino.

ABaKaDa. Ako ay may lobo. Lumipad sa langit. Si Juan ay may aso. Kumain ng lobo. Si Pepe ay may pusa. Hinabol ng aso. ABNKKBSNPLAko!

Sa pamamagitan ng wikang kinamulatan ay aking natuklasan na kaya kong mapagalaw at mapaikot ang aking munting mundo.

Mama, bayad ko ho. Isang Quiapo, galing Balik-Balik. Para na po sa tabi. Ale, pabili nga po ng isang hopia at isang malamig na Sarsi. Manong, gupit-binata po. 

Maliban sa tahanan at sa paaralan ay natuto rin ng mga bagong salita na nagpakulay ng aking wika. Maging ito ay salitang kalye: Pards, dehins ako makakasama sa tipar mo, dehins ako payagan ng ermat ko.

O sa pakikinig sa radyo: Laki sa layaw, laki sa layaw jeproks. Bonga ka day, bonga ka day, sige lang, sige lang, itaas ang kilay!

Nakapulot din ng iba pang bokabularyo sa panonood ng TV: Pare, bagets na bagets ang porma mo. Nakakapraning kang tignan.

Ngunit nang makadaupang-palad ko ang panitikang Pilipino, ito ay aking naibigan. Ito ay gumising sa nananalaytay na dugong Balagtas sa aking katauhan. Sa katunayan, Bulakan ang pinagmulan ng aking lahi.

O pagsintang labis ang kapangyarihan,
Sampung mag-aama’y iyong nasasaklaw
Pag ikaw ang nasok sa puso ninuman
Hahamakin ang lahat masunod ka lamang.

Aking napagtanto na hindi lamang ang wika ay upang ipahayag ang ating hangarin, ito rin ay maaring gamitin bilang isang sining upang pumukaw sa mga natutulog na damdamin.

Datapwat mahirap maging dalisay sa isang wika. Maraming pagkakataon, ay pinagsasama-sama natin ang mga iba’t-ibang wika. Ito ay upang mas lalong maging effective sa pag-lalahad nang ating objectives. Kaya’t natuto rin akong magsalita ng Tag-lish.

Aminin man natin o hindi, ay may mga salita, lalo na sa siyensa na walang katumbas sa ating wika. Tulad ng: Ano ang kayariang henetika ng langaw ng prutas? Hindi ba’t mas madaling intindihin kung sabihin na lang na: Ano ang genetic make-up ng fruitfly?

OK lang naman sigurong haluan natin ng ibang salita ang ating lengguahe. Hindi naman siguro titikwas sa kaniyang libingan si Manuel Quezon, ang tinaguriang ama ng pambansang wika, kung makakarinig siya ng salitang Tag-lish.

Para sa akin ay tanggap naman nating lahat ito, dahil nagkakaintindihan pa rin naman tayo. Pero meron din namang iba, lalo na ng mga kolehiyala, na medyo mahirap ko pa ring tanggapin. Ito rin ang tinaguriang salitang Coño.

Let’s make tusok-tusok the fishballs. It’s so maputik the road, it make dumi my shoes. Why is it so mainit here? I make paypay the whole day, and I get so pagod!

Sa totoo lang, dumudugo pa rin ang tenga ko kapag nakakarinig nito.

Lumipas pa ang mga taon at matapos akong manirahan sa ibayong dagat nang matagal na panahon, hindi ko kinalimutan ang salitang aking kinagisnan. Hindi ko ito tinalikuran, at gamit gamit ko pa rin kahit ako ay nasa dayuhang bansa na.

Dahil Pilipino ang aking lahi. Ito ang aking pagkakakilanlan. Ito ang aking wikang kinamulatan. Ito ang wikang aking minamahal.

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photo taken at Tagaytay during our last home trip

Hindi katagalan ay muling nagbalik at tumapak muli ako sa lupang tinubaan. Ako’y napatulala. Pilipino pa rin ba ang wikang aking narinig?

Matapos magkitakits ng mga kaibigan. Hindi ko ma gets ang salita ng iba. Parang nganga ang aking peg. Tunay na naguluhan akech. Sa bayan ng mga epal at jologs, kinarir na rin ba nilang palitan ang ating wika? Anyare?

Pero, tangapin ko man o hindi ang mga pagbabago sa salitang aking kinagisnan, aaminin ko, astig pa rin ang dating ng ating wika.

Mabuhay ang wikang Pilipino! Mabuhay ang mga nagsasalita nito! Mabuhay ang mga nagmamahal ng ating pambansang wika!

(*Ang kathang ito ay sinulat sa pagdiriwang ng buwan ng pambansang wika.)

More Than A Bunch of Rocks

Grand Canyon. One of Earth’s most powerful and awe-inspiring landscapes. Considered among the seven natural wonders of the world. Expanding 277 miles long and 18 miles wide and with a depth of about 5000 feet, it was said that it was carved by the Colorado River, and formed by time. For me, it was a handiwork of the Creator.

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There are many ways to see the canyon. You can view it from the bottom, when you hike down to the floor of the canyon, which I consider a serious hike, or even do rafting through the rapids of the Colorado River. That we didn’t do.

Or you can also view it from the top by hiking or just driving around the park – whether by jeep tours, or the official park bus, or by your own car (what we did most). There’s even a train ride from the nearby town to the Great Canyon.

For me though, seeing this creation wonder, has a more personal meaning.

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Back in my youth, when I was still in Manila, Philippines, I had a poster in my bedroom’s wall of the Grand Canyon. In that picture was a man – gliding and soaring, in the middle of the canyon. On the poster was these words: “You are only limited by the boundaries of your mind.” That became my life’s challenge.

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Though it took me only 15 minutes to climb to that rock, it took me a lifetime to have the chance to sit on that ledge.

So it was fitting that when I see the Grand Canyon, I need to soar above it. Which by the way, is another way to see it – by flying over it.

No, I did not do hang gliding. Hang gliding is restricted in the Grand Canyon. Though in 1976, the US National Park Service permitted a hang gliding feasibility test, and that maybe where the picture in my poster came from. Plus, my wife would not allow me to do it anyway, as she rather have me than collect my Life Insurance.

So I settled for a helicopter ride instead. My whole family flew above the Grand Canyon, and got a bird’s-eye view of this wonderful landscape.

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I have heard people who have visited the Grand Canyon and all they said was, they were just a “bunch of rocks.” That maybe true. But I think they did not see it with awful wonder. Or maybe because they just saw it in the middle of the day.

We were told that the best way to appreciate these “bunch of rocks” is during sunrise and sunset where the interplay of light and shadows will transform them into different colors. And so we did.

Below are some photos we took at sunset time. From hues of blue…..

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To fiery red.

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Here’s another shot of the sunset.

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The sunset was easy to see. The sunrise was a different story.

Since the sunrise is around 5:30 AM, we have to wake up at 4 o’clock to witness it. Even though we stayed at a hotel a few minutes away at the National Park entrance, the drive was still 30-40 minutes to where we wanted to witness the sunrise. I heard my wife, who is not a morning person, blurted again, “I hate fishing” (see previous post).

But seeing the sunrise on these glorious place was well worth it.

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Above is my family waiting for the sunrise. It didn’t matter if we have bed hair, or if my son was still in pajamas. It was really beautiful.

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Me and the sunrise

Even though we mostly drove around to the view points, my son and I took some minor hikes, where we went down beyond the paved pathways and climbed some rocks.

Below is my son and I with our Kung-Fu pose, celebrating our success, after a 15-minutes climb to the top of this ledge.

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Below is another one of that Kung-Fu pose.

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The photos may look grand, but they do not really give justice to the majesty of this place. As all people who visit this place were lugging cameras – from the professionals to the amateur photographers, with thousands-of-dollar cameras to simple camera phones – they were all busy clicking away pictures. And it may included me.

But perhaps the best way to see this grandiose place is to put down the camera, be still, and just take it all in.

As I silently stood (or sat) in awe, I finally came to the place that gave me so much inspiration all these years. Truly, there was no limits. Where boundaries exist only in our minds.

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(*most photos taken by my wife)