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Lakaw is a journey is a step is a move. I love to travel around the world and this is my travel and travel gadget site. Welcome and Enjoy!

4 comments | Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I missed the Chinese Nite. After I attended the Nepalese Nite a few weeks ago, I said to myself that I would join every cultural event that's gonna happen in Brookings - Chinese night was supposedly part of the list. Whatever was in my mind that time that I completely forgot the affair, was just unforgivable. I just couldn't accept the fact that the event was on a weekend and normally my schedules would allow some extra time for merrymaking. I could have been in the Chinese nite, eating noodles, meeting new friends, learning the culture, watching presentations and a lot more. Because of a lapse of memory (was it due to blogging?), I could only regret and blame myself for missed the fun and learning.

When I learned about the Indian Nite, I quickly took note of it in my calendar. It'd be so stupid to miss it. Bought the ticket for 6 dollars, well, a little cheaper than the Nepalese Nite. Since I had Indian friends before in the Netherlands, I have a little understanding of the Indian culture. However, I wanted to know more.
Last Sunday, finally, my memory never failed me. It was a well-attended event with so many Indians around. Of course what would I expect, it was their nite. But it was also our nite, because the main reason of holding the event was to promote India and thus, we, the guests coming from different countries, were the honorable invitees.
India is a country of historic trade routes and vast empires. Watching the slide presentation with old temples in every corner of the region, wow, what a cultural wealth indeed for such a flourishing nation in Asia.

I love the part when Mahatma Gandhi was featured. Gandhi was a major political and spiritual leader of India and the Indian independence movement. He is known as the Father of the Nation. What was impressive of his life was his commitment to non-violence and truth even in the most extreme situations. It was just inspiring.

The food was spicy. I noticed Indians love sweets too. Among the dishes that night, I personally liked the pea curry and the beans which was cooked like Pinoy 'mongo'.

The dresses were very colorful. Take a look.
Most of their presentations were dances. Not a single Indian sang. Does that mean they aren't fond of singing?

A Filipino nite would completely be the opposite. It would be a just pure singing - solo, duet, group - hours of karaoke madness. Oh, I am hoping that one to happen very soon.

I wonder what is next? Filipino Nite? Keep posted...

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0 comments | Monday, March 26, 2007

I promised to write something about it.

The Festival of Cultures is an annual activity in Brookings. It is the time when people from various cultures around the world gather in an event to showcase their respective countries. It is open to all with only a dollar entrance fee. That isn't bad at all, is it?
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Most of the exhibitors I saw, made money out of the event. Like the Chinese people charging anyone who would like their names written in Chinese. Most of the students were lured into it. With a big colored paper with your name scribbled in Chinese characters, it was a good souvenir that's deserving a place on your room wall.
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Or the Indian ladies who showed their skills in designing henna tattoos. Some sexy, young ladies had their tattoos printed on their behinds, you know that part just above the butt. It was so hot!

There were booths selling flags. Others displayed different cheap products from their countries and sold them for five times the price. Oh well, Americans bought them still. You can easily make money out of stuffs we normally throw away at home.
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The Philippine booth was simple but full of info. Thanks to the effort of 3 Pinoys who have been here in Brookings for more than 5 years already. They had these cute little things that were collected over the years from other Pinoys who had gone home to the Philippines for vacations. We had the Philippine Centennial Barbie doll, a mini jeepney, a sandal made from abaca, some purses made of shells and lots of other things on our desks.
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We were selling dried mangoes from Cebu too! Yes, everything was sold out, Americans loved the taste of Philippine mangoes. We priced them high too. LOL.
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Looking at how necklaces made of shells and wrist bands were selling like hot cakes in other booths, I had regrets. Had I known it would be like this, I would have asked someone from Pinas to send me a box full of those little thingie that we buy for 10 pesos or even less. It was a time supposedly for making extra bucks. Tsk. Tsk. Well, there is still next year...
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Didn't I tell you that there was a fashion show that featured the different countries' national costumes? Who else represented the Philippines but me. LOL. Actually, I was with another Filipina. It was awesome, my first time. No, I wasn't nervous because I know that nobody from the audience would recognize me. It took guts, really. The best part was that, I was paid -- ten dollars for a 15-second catwalk. Not bad, huh!
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Regarding the title of this post, it means, if you cannot understand what the Spanish, or Chinese, or French are saying, just laugh with them. That would already be enough.

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0 comments | Saturday, March 24, 2007

Festival of Cultures, Brookings, South Dakota.

I don't have enough time to write a long entry now. Instead I am posting a video I took just few hours ago during the 2007 Festival of Cultures. I promise to write about it tomorrow, with lots of photos, including me in a fashion show. What about that?

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1 comments | Wednesday, March 21, 2007

After a long moment of hiatus, another article rolled in. I have been waiting for this day as some of my friends have been missing my cute little photo. LOL. Frankly, I love to write for the Collegian. Although at some point I decided to give up because of few decisions by the staff that I didn't agree on. But after a few little thought -- no way, I am not a loser!

So here is this week's article:
This May 14, millions of my countrymen will once again troop the polling stations to cast their votes for the legislative and local elections. In a country where elections are often smeared by fraud and money politics, I cannot help but worry of another disorderly election day, full of political drama. Even as of this writing, the drama has already begun.

The last time I voted, I chose the lesser evil. Frankly speaking, I saw no one capable of running the government. I never believed the campaign vows, from one aspirant who promised to readily uplift the lives of the Filipino people; to another, who said that every child would enjoy good education. The administration party boasted well-developed social welfare programs. The opposition claimed the best pro-poor agenda. OK, leave me alone!

"I'm so tired of being here. Suppressed by all my childish fears. And if you have to leave, I wish that you would just leave. 'Cause your presence still lingers here. And it won't leave me alone."

I am so tired of my country's constant politicking. I am dog tired of reading tales of mockery that no one ever loses in a Philippine election - because either one won the election or was cheated. Most of the time, I dream that the scalawags would just all leave their offices and surrender the posts to whomever is deserving of the people's trust. Their lingering presence makes me puke.

"These wounds won't seem to heal. This pain is just too real. There's just too much that time cannot erase."

A number of these politicians have already wreaked havoc to the country's stability and therefore must stop. Why would they continue to fool and play mischief with the poverty-stricken, uneducated majority? Quick thought: They have vested interests. The wounds inflicted are awfully painful (declining education quality, millions of jobless citizens, etc.) that time cannot erase.

"You used to captivate me by your resonating life."

These hungry-for-votes office seekers captivate the masses through the facade of a genius who has rounded up enough academic achievements and previous political posts. However, beneath the mask they wear in public are false hopes and broken pledges.

"Now I'm bound by the life you've left behind. Your face it haunts my once pleasant dreams."

Thus, what kind of life will be ahead for the Filipinos? With the campaign now in full force for the coming voting, it scares the heavens out me to see the same faces continually propagating a massive deception. While their faces smile in assurance of a sweet victory, the hungry faces to the contrary could only hope for food provision on their tables and the fulfillment of the promises of rescue.

"Your voice it chased away all the sanity in me."

As the campaign now taps the popular video-sharing YouTube, their mouths cackle in perpetuity like a perfectly memorized hundred-page oration. I never liked the sound of their voice-they sound like irritating chipmunks. This type of flesh-pressers is definitely making me insane to the max. Sigh deepest. Unless these politicians lose in the May election, the Philippines and its people will forever be in between Scylla and Charybdis, or between the devil and the deep blue sea.

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3 comments | Tuesday, March 20, 2007

There is something just not right in the 2007 Philippine Blog Awards. Check my post last March 9, which I listed the nominees (you can focus on the 'Best OFW Blog category' to help you out), and then check this (the final list). What did you notice? Clear manipulation of the listing, huh!? I didn't check the other categories. However, I am certain it has also the same issue.

I do not know what the organizers did that we bloggers were left unaware of. Were those blogs inserted at the last minute? Or did they intentionally do this so the Pinoy bloggers would create a buzz about the upcoming awards night? Yuga has to explain this discrepancy, otherwise, it will create a negative impact to the veracity of the awards, which the Philippine Blog Awards, in itself, I must say is great Pinoy endeavor.

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0 comments | Monday, March 19, 2007

Why do Pinoys love to sing? Is it because we have so much problems around us and the way to escape from them is to sing? Or are we just so gifted by nature that we always outshine other nationalities in international competitions? Go anywhere in the Philippines and you'll never miss to hear a blaring karaoke in a corner, be it in a humble sari-sari store or in exquisite bar -- we just love it.

We sing because, I think it is who we are. It is our culture to hum, or sing, or mumble few words even if we know or acknowledge that there are times music doesn't like us. Who cares? We have the passion for music. We love to sing.

We want to watch singing competitions on TV. We want our children to join every inter-barangay amateur singing contest as soon as they can memorize the lyrics. We sing however and anywhere we want: in the office; the bathroom; as we walk along corridors; in front of the mirror; the ship or airplane; inside the coffee shop while having cappuccino; in the comfort of our rooms, cars, toilets; in the kitchen as we cook; in the living room as we sweep the floor, wipe the table, read magazines; in a bus, jeepney, kalesa; on motorcycles and carabaos; along busy sidewalks on our lazy walks; in the plaza with our lovey-dovey sweetie-pie; inside elevators, restaurants, bars, hotels, public toilets; in bed while having sex; on swings and rocking chairs, on top of the hill and the bottom of the sea; in our backyard while pulling the weeds or planting crops. If given the chance to go to space or to other planets in our solar system, we will still be singing there. That's how strong our allegiance to music proves to be.

Too sad though that only few have made it to Hollywood and international stardom.

Anyway, I saw these videos of Regine Velasquez and Sarah Geronimo with their own rendition of the song "Light Of A Million Mornings". Galing talaga ng Pinoy!

Regine with "Light Of A Million Mornings"

Sarah Geronimo with "Light Of A Million Mornings"

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0 comments | Friday, March 16, 2007

I want a can of coca-cola. I know it has a bit of caffeine and more bits of flavoring and kilograms of sugar, but that is what I want now. This afternoon, with all the stuff to be done before the week ends, I need a dose of coke in my system. Caffeine, here I come.

Wait: let me quickly grab a can of coke.

10 minutes later. The coca-cola vending machine is located at the ground floor. My office, or I fondly call it a dungeon, is situated, unfortunately, at the lower ground floor of the building. I wonder why nobody cares to provide a vending machine down here when in fact a lot of people jam pack this part of the hall during daytime. Hayy...

Anyway, if I crave for a coke, I really do not care a fig where the vending machine is. So, 10 minutes ago, I ran for a can upstairs, took some loose coins in my pocket and one by one dropped them in the machine for a $0.75 can of coca-cola. After I dropped a quarter of a dollar, the machine spew it out. I tried again, and again. Twice, the machine rejected the coin. If only the machine could talk and move, it would have shouted at me “You can’t fool me boy” and then slapped me twice, full force so I could hear my brain ping like coins in the machine.

Something was wrong. I remember getting the coins from the restaurant at lunch time. Upon inspection, aha!

The quarter dollar coin looks like a U.S. dollar. But it isn’t a U.S. dollar! It is a Canadian dollar – a small, circular coin of silver color. On the obverse side of the coin is Queen Elizabeth II, Canada's Queen; while on the reverse side is the caribou, a reindeer common in Canada. It resembles exactly like a $0.25 US. Same shape, size and color!

Someone must have used the Canadian coin to pay for his lunch. I couldn’t blame the cashier for not noticing it. Actually, it is hard to detect the difference unless you look closely and check the symbols. With the long queue every day, who would care to check the coins one by one, reject the Canadian Queen Elizabeth II and accept only American George Washington? It is also probable that the guy who used the coin was unaware of it.

Okay, I dropped another $.25 cent (U.S. cent this time), and gladly took my can of coke. While sipping to the last drop, I wondered if I happen to receive coins other than U.S. coins. Again, upon inspection, aha!

A Canadian coin again! This time it is a dime or 10 cents. I am not sure where I got this. What I am certain is that, it is never different from a U.S. dime. Just like the quarter coin, both have same shape, size and silver-made!

Canadian coins (left), U.S. coins (right)

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Oh my gully! How many Canadian coins are in circulation in the United States? With thousands of people going in and out the borders daily, who would spend time to monitor the influx of Canadian coins into the U.S.? The U.S. is in the losing side since their dollar has a higher value than Canada’s.

These are just coins. But if millions of quarter dollars are in circulation, man, that is already a huge sum, isn’t it?

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0 comments | Monday, March 12, 2007

Today, I met the guy who's in-charge of getting my room internet connection activated. It took him just few seconds to click this and that, input my room number and few details (for tracking purposes I believe...no, I won't be watching cheap porns online, if that is what they'd like to track from the residents.)

I tried to connect my laptop immediately when I reached my room. Unluckily, it didn't work. I guess I have to wait for 24 hours to be connected. Not in a hurry, though. I can wait.

Internet connection in this place is so fast. While I was receiving only few Mbps in my university in central Philippines, here in my Brookings office is many times faster. What do you think of a 1 Gbps speed? Amazing huh. I am not an expert of this "PC speed" stuff, but having a long experience with a slow to nothing Globe connection in my apartment in Cebu, this one is just very fulfilling. I do not have to wait for ages to download a file or to view an image. It only takes a wink, or even half a wink.

Wifi is everywhere. That is one great thing I like in here. Go to the library (which is huge by the way) and you'll get a wireless connection. All you have to do is find your corner. Finding the corner won't take time as the library is, as I've said, huge. Less students too so competition is not an issue. Talking about the numbers of students who visit the library, I noticed that this present generation don't care so much on books. I mean the hard copies. They usually prefer the online versions - you know just access the PDF files and print them. Sure, that's the easiest way.

However, I still go for hard copies. I like browsing pages and reading old books. Ancient books dating from eons back are not available online. They are achieves in the library and I love touching and smelling them. The smell of a yellowed page is kinda creepy but if you get used to it, it's lovely. You don't get that feeling from a PDF file, do you?

Anyway, while inside the library, you can copy all the chapters you want (opps no plagiarism please). Or even make your thesis proposal right then and there. With all the available books in front of you and the fast wireless connection, what reason do you have not to submit a report on time?

Or you can even go to any coffee shop or to a student center and you'll get the same fast internet connection.

The good thing that this does for me is two-fold. First, I can do my work anywhere I want. Second, I can blog wherever I want. Guess where I did this post?! :-)

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1 comments | Saturday, March 10, 2007

Maria Hall was the first Filipino I've talked to on the phone when I got here in Brookings. The moment I met her, I could sense she has fully adapted to the American culture. Opps, she still has the character of a true Filipina - very joyful.

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Maria works in the payroll department of the university for over five years now. She is married to an American professor named Bob. They're a lovely couple with two lovely kids. Maria has been here in the US for so long and she hasn't been in Pinas for nearly 20 years. She plans to finally go home come 2008 with her family.

I am writing this as a post because just few hours ago, I was with six Filipinos (including two kids), four Filipino-American kids and two Americans mesmerized by Filipino beauties. It was my first Filipino community gathering, sort of.

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Finally, I was able to eat 'pansit' and 'menudo' and 'leche flan', food savored with Filipino ingredients and cooked with a Filipino touch. I ended up so full I couldn't even stand upright for a short pose. LOL.

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Pinoys love to talk and talk a lot and laugh a lot too. Although I had quite a hard time speaking in Tagalog (not really good at it and would have wanted everyone to speak in Bisaya instead) I managed to insert a few lines here and there and laughed at their stories. Imagine we talked about Wowowee and TFC shows. Chika to the max.

We also chatted about how Filipinos speak up their minds no matter what social entities we are in. We are a bunch of smart people and even if we are surrounded by foreign nationalities, we must let them know what we think. This way, we boost our self-esteem.

The event tonight made me realize the importance of having people who share the same culture as you be within reach. These are the ones who'd give you support when time comes that you are in need of one. These are the people who would make you feel at home with a Mang Tomas sauce, a siningang soup, a bowl of pansit and a slice of leche flan.

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1 comments | Friday, March 09, 2007

"The Philippine Blog Awards aims to recognize notable Filipino-owned blogs in their respective niches — a venue to showcase notable blogs with quality content that engages readers from around the globe."

Bloggers’ Choice Award

Best Blog Design

Best OFW Blog

Best Free Custom Theme

Best Blog Plugin/Extension

PersonalSocio-Political category

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0 comments | Wednesday, March 07, 2007

If you have read my post prior to this, I wrote about the new laptop I bought with my Google Adsense earnings. I hated my old laptop, there were keys and symbols that I didn't even understand. I bought it in the Netherlands (in a rush, as the owner had to leave the next day) when I studied for my Masters degree and since it was a second-hand laptop, I content myself of its occasional crashes. To tell you the truth, it came to a point that I wanted to throw it outside the window from the 11th floor of the flat where I stayed in. It never happened though. My conscience prevented me. It was most likely that I'd hit a duck or a peacock on a farm below my floor had I done it.

For years, and for financial limitations, I stuck myself with my old-looking, slow-speed laptop. That was when I was in the Europe.

With what I am earning right now here in the US, and if I so desire, I could buy a laptop from my own pocket (maybe a month or two of saving). But if there is a way to buy it without spending a dime from my hard-earned mollah, why not take it?

Thanks to Adsense. Thanks to blogging.

The adsense earnings I got was more than the cost of the laptop. Thus, I thought of buying another useful stuff. The object of my fancy? The Motorola Razor phone.

Since I arrived in the US, I didn't have a cellphone. Well, actually I do have. I brought with me my Nokia 6131 from the Philippines thinking that I could use it here upon purchasing a simcard. No, I didn't have it internationally roamed as I don't know when I will be back in Pinas. Unfortunately, prepaid phones are not the "in" thing in the States. I am quite sure 99% of Americans enroll into a mobile plan - there are a lot of choices offered from a number of service providers. Even high school students are using plans. I also found out that they don't text or use SMS so much, unlike in the Philippines that we 'pindot' our keypads and send text messages even when crossing a busy street. No wonder our country holds the record of being the "text capital of the world", with hundreds of thousands of text messages sent in a day.

The Nokia phone I brought with me rendered useless in the end. I couldn't find a simcard to make it work. The next option is to get a plan and buy a new unit.

Yesterday, I did that. I've gotten myself a Motorola Razor. I know it is an old model, but it still does look sleek and chic, doesn't it?
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What do you think about that? Two new gadgets in a row. Sometimes I think I am just so blessed.

With these things I have now, who doesn't want blogging? I am waiting for another pay from another ad source. Now, this is getting interesting, isn't it?

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17 comments | Monday, March 05, 2007

I do not want to go around the bush, Google Adsense bought me a new laptop! Few hours ago, FedEx handed me a box containing the fruit of my blogging labor.

It is not expensive though, only a little more than $800 with a $100 mail-in rebate. I do not want to state the details of my new toy because I am just overwhelmed by the fact that my daily blogging has been so rewarding so far.

At first, I thought this craziness for blogging won't go far. However, I was persistent. Confident I was that my Google Adsense will do something good for me. Inspired by the testimonials of other bloggers and how they have earned their first cents and finally earning hundred bucks monthly, I pushed myself further into the blogging sphere and learned more of the monetization techniques. It paid off!

Thanks to Adsense. Really. This laptop was bought by Adsense and I just couldn't be happier than now.

Persistence is the key. Also, follow the tips from professional bloggers seriously. If you find an article online that tells you how to earn legally through blogging, do it. However, I would strongly suggest that if you plan to do something for your blog, do a little research first. There are a lot of bogus operations online that might take advantage of your excitement. Be very careful in using programs to generate traffic. Be aware of the terms and conditions of Adsense, if you plan to have one. Otherwise, your violations will force Google to disable your account.

I still am thinking of what to buy with the remaining money I have. What about for next month? Or the month after next?

Blogging has now been a big part of my day. With my new domain, nobody knows when I will stop doing this.

To Adsense, big thanks to you! To all professional bloggers out there who never fail to inspire new bloggers (been blogging for just over a year) like me, thank you too!

I hope this post will inspire bloggers to continue doing what they love doing, that is to love their blog more and more each day. You'd get your rewards when you have done your part.
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To those wanting to make money from their blogs, Google’s AdSense so far is the best way.

Google AdSense is where I earn around 40% of my income as a blogger and I would highly recommend it as a way of monetizing a blog, especially for those just starting out.

If you’re not yet an AdSense publisher sign up for it using the following button and you'll be in for a big surprise.

Read also my tips to increasing your blog traffic.
Visit my collection of Adsense posts for more.

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0 comments | Sunday, March 04, 2007

Suddenly I saw hills in Brookings.

A day after the two-day snow storm, there was sunshine over Brookings, South Dakota. What a wonderful day to see piles of snow radiating as the rays hit the slope at zenith. It was still cold, around negative six. But the sun was enough to make me smile, as the evergreens swayed their snow-covered branches to reach out for the beams. [photos after the jump]

I went out to see people with their cars stuck in the snow. Snow mobiles (I do not know the name, a vehicle that scrapes and hauls the snow from the highways and sidewalks), quite a number of them, were going back and forth to ensure pathways and roads were safe for pedestrians and drivers.
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Going out of my building, I saw these - bicycles buried in thick snow. I wonder if these are stainless ones that could survive a condition like this, especially if the snow begins to melt.
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I went for a hundred meter circle walk and the scenes were just amazing. There were kids playing with snow balls. Adults were shoveling snow accumulated on their front doors. I specifically loved the roofs all white.

But this photo is gorgeous.
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I took a photo near the police station. I was the only one outside and for sure the police officers were peeping through their windows and wondering what the hell I was doing.
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This is a photo of the restaurant near my place.
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The gasoline station and a heap of snow. I could even ski on this little hill here.
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What about this? This is a spot light outside Taco John's that was left lighted the night before. The result: a nice-looking hole.
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I ended up eating at Taco John's after my short trip. I ordered a different menu. This time I tried their burritos. It was much better than the previous one I had. After a few minutes I saw a colleague, Vincent, from Kenya.
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I went home with a soda in my hand and a batch of photos to post for this blog :-)
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0 comments | Thursday, March 01, 2007

A blizzard warning later this afternoon, weather reports say. Classes are suspended but work for staff continues, the University announcement says. [there are photos after the jump]

I am not afraid of a snow storm. Our tropical storms, extra-super-doper bagyo in Pinas, are much stronger and deadly. What can a snowfall do to a Filipino who has survived earthquakes in Mindanao (yes when I was young), super typhoon Rufing and El Nino in Cebu, and tsunami in Indonesia? The last one, by the way, I just made it up.

So I went out of the building and brave the snow storm. The real purpose is not only to test myself if I could manage to walk with the strong wind and the snow hitting my face at the same time, but to take pictures around the snow-covered Brookings city. The verdict: no challenge at all.

It is cold. Temperature is way below zero. Wind is blowing from north then south then changes in a direction you just cannot tell. But wading through the snow piles and surviving the turbulence was a piece of cake. I walked, ran, and allowed myself to be buried in the snow. That easy. See how a Filipino wanderer could withstand a stormy weather in the USA. Thanks to the experience I had in the Philippines :-)

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There are more pictures here. Visit my Flickr album.

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