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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 | Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Philippine-American Picnic in South Dakota could be traced back to 1981, when it began as a small group of 40. After 26 years, the annual tradition has grown eight times bigger and happier.

Tina Kauffman, I call her Tita Tina, started it all. Filipinos bring different ethnic foods - fried rice, egg rolls, menudo, lechon, adobo, pakbet - and all other delicacies Filipinos are known for.

The Filipino-American Picnic, or better termed as a Filipino potluck, started around 9AM on a sunny Saturday at Falls Park, Sioux Falls. Together with Mama Carol, Ate Amy and Ate Gina, we drove about 45 minutes from Brookings to join other Filipinos in the celebration. It was my first time, so I was the most excited among them all.

The park was filled with Filipinos of different colors - yellow like Chinese, light brown like mestizas, and dark brown like the normal Filipinos in Pinas. Benches were already occupied surrounding the picnic shelter. Different groups coming from different cities of South Dakota brought along with them folded chairs and tables and smiles and laughters that filled that portion of the park. Children were everywhere and what made it unique was the fact that Pinoys had their families with them.

I noticed that most of the Filipino women I met are married to Americans. Others were divorced and few others were about to divorce. The American husbands were there too and, I tell you, they all loved Filipino dishes to the max. That probably explains why these men married Filipinas: because of our food or the way Filipinas take care of their stomachs.

Kuya Dodong provided the audio system. And what is a Filipino gathering without the blast from the karaoke? There were two good singers whose vocal chords seemed not to tire over the course of time. They sang like they own the microphone. Someone told me they were siblings and that they're both singers. I would have wanted to sing too (didn't I tell you I have got the talent too? hehehe) I waited for my turn. It turned out that my turn will be in the last couple of hours before pack-up. Save the best for last. Take that.

I had the chance to showcase my singing prowess in the end. Modesty aside, I think I did well. Might not be the professional-sounding singer, but I was happy to know that other people liked my voice and not only my Mom.

There were games for kids and adults alike. Other kids were blessed with good looks that if they decide to enter the Philippine showbiz world, they certainly would have big chances to stardom.

When the event ended at past 6PM, the fun didn't stop, at least for the few of us. We went to Tita Tina's house and continued the eating and chatting. Tita Tina was the best host ever - very hospitable and friendly. These are reasons why Filipinos love this lady.

Around 10PM, we headed to a disco slash drinking bar. BUCKS, that's the name of the bar. One of the popular bars in Sioux falls and, no wonder, it was crowded when we got there. I like the policy here in the USA when it comes to bars. No one below the age of 21 is allowed to enter and one must present an identification card to validate his or her drinking age. Unlike in the Philippines that even minors can get drunk, very drunk inside a nightly bar without the management getting into trouble with any of our laws. Here, the management or those manning the doors are really strict in enforcing the age policy.

Music totally rocked! Dude, did we have fun! All the music were awesome and the dance floor was never emptied with dancing shoes and, most importantly, curves that swayed to an alluring stance. I sweat all over.

I sipped the last few drops of my beer. At around half past 1AM, we headed for Tita Tina's home to spend the rest of the night. As I closed my eyes, I etched the experiences in my mind so as when I wake up in the morning, the memories would still be vivid. I slept smiling.

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0 comments | Saturday, July 28, 2007

This is a short video taken in Flandreau, South Dakota just to give you all a taste of what Pow-wow is. Read previous post for a more descriptive story.

I will be attending another event this weekend. Next post will be about it.

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0 comments | Friday, July 27, 2007

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When I heard about the name Pow-wow, I thought it was just a joke. You know, the kind of name one creates out of nowhere. But Pow-wow does exist! Someone told me that the term Pow-wow was derived from the shout or chant American Indians do -- like that long shrilling powowowowow...

The little research I did, however, revealed a different beginning.

Pow-wow (sometimes powwow or pow wow or pau wau) actually means folk magic. The name was taken from Narragansett word powwaw, meaning "spiritual leader". For many years, it has become a gathering of North America's indigenous people - the Native Americans.

A pow-wow event in recent definition consists of people (Native American and non-Native American alike) meeting in one particular area to dance, sing, socialize, and generally have a good time.

Dancing, singing, socializing, and generally having a good time. Those were exactly what I saw and experienced when I attended the Pow-wow 2007 event at Flandreau, South Dakota last weekend.

A pow-wow session begins with the Grand Entry, during which all the dancers line up by dance style and age, then enter the arena while one of the host drums sings an opening song. This event is sacred in nature, and many Native individuals often do not allow filming or photography during this time.

Most of the various types of dances performed at a pow-wow are descended from the dances of the Plains tribes of Canada and the United States. Besides those for the opening and closing of a pow-wow session, the most common is the intertribal, where a drum will sing a song and anyone who wants to can come and dance. Similar dances are the trot dance, called a crow hop when performed by a northern drum or a horse stealing song by a southern drum, and the round dance. Each of these songs have a different step to be used during them, but are open for dancers of any style.

It was a 2-day event but I only saw the second day. I bet, the first one was equally amazing.

To see the native Americans in their native costumes and appreciating their culture though dances and songs was worth the experience. It was kinda similar to the Sinulog festival in Cebu, Philippines, if one has to think of the colorful dresses and the jubilation it creates. Yet the aura at Pow-wow was different.

I heard that there is also an annual Pow-wow here in Brookings, around mid February. I'll check it out next year and see how it fares with what I experienced in Flandreau.

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0 comments | Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Brookings, South Dakota has a zero crime rate, literally. When you watch the newscast, you will most likely see news events about road mishaps or the state of the hot summer weather. None of such nature like men in motorcycles firing the house of a politician, or men robbing a bank located beside the police station -- you know, those kind of crimes that we consider ok-fine in the Philippines. If you want to see something tragic, you'll get frustrated.

I think the most catastrophic crime that can be committed in this city is bike stealing. HAHA. Funny, but I am quite certain it is. In as much as I would want to experience a crime more than just that, I just cannot. Because Brookings is peaceful (can also be translated to boring). [warning: there is a crime video after the jump]

Last weekend, around 9PM, I became a witness of the awfully terrible crime of bike stealing. It happened just across my home, at the student halls, when the sun was beginning to wrap up its last few beams.

Two men. Since my room is facing the student halls, I clearly saw how the guys took bikes from a row of bikes parked on the rack. First, they monitored the surroundings for human presence - the usual step to a perfect crime. When assured that no one was within distance of them, they started to force open the bicycle locks, one after the other. I am not sure how they took the chains out, if they had metal cutters or what. I am certain though that the bikes were not theirs. They managed to steal two at first and took them somewhere to the other side of the hall. Few moments later, they came back for the rest of the bicycles and I saw that they were joined by two women.

This time, I armed myself with my cam and took a video of the ongoing heinous crime (heinous...hahaha). I suddenly turned into Agent 007. If I would want to, I could report the incident to the police. But I decided to keep it here on my blog and let the police discover this blog first before they would discover the crime. I bet they are monitoring my posts for updates on Brookings.

Watch the video. Or report this link to the police.

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0 comments | Monday, July 23, 2007

This is just a reprint of one of my articles that was published in the lifestyle section of the Sun Star Newspaper many years ago, during my wee wee years. I truly miss my 'Philippine jeepney' days.

What would you feel if when you have to wait for hours on a jeepney stop just to get a seat you could hardly fit in? What if hanging aft is the only choice left so you can be home on time? How would you feel if you were in a deep hurry for an appointment and the jeepney you boarded on had to stop by for a fuel refill? Grrrrr...

If you are one of the many who do not own a luxury car or even an ordinary chity chity bang bang (imagine a car that starts with two little sneezes and short blasts) you can always go out to the streets and pick up a taxi or much more exciting, opt for an air-conditioned public utility jeepney. If your budget is tight, go for the latter and experience something unique.

As far as I can remember, the first time I rode a jeepney without my mother dragging me by the hand was when I was in my last year in high school. As a young promdi then, I wasnt able to fully utilize my freedom as a commuter, that is, being free to go anywhere, as mom was never absent to help me transport myself. When the much-awaited first came upon a young, inexperienced fellow, as I was to ride a jeepney from Talamban to Colon, across the streets, alone I felt excited and rather uneasy.

LOST IN THE STREETS. I had this fear of taking a PUJ with glass windows too small to get a good view of the outside, since I could be brought somewhere else from where I wanted to go and the fact that I wasn't used to memorizing landmarks, just added to the apprehension. I could only pray that this would never happen. But I ended riding one of them, anyway. Up the lane to the highway, I kept on peeping through the small opening so I could tell where I was in the first place. As expected, I was apparently heading in the wrong direction. Why had I not been more attentive to mom when she said that 13B is for Carbon route and 13C for Taboan? Thank God that the person next to me, noticing my anxious movements and nervousness, told me where to get down and take the nearest ride back home.

JEEPNEY DREAMS. I never learned from just one instance though. For me it is cool to experience something the second time around, well this time in a different way.

A little dizziness was not a barrier for someone driven by the need to buy a school requirement for the next day. Totally drained from working on a project overnight, I could tell there was a clash happening between my consciousness and my eyelids. Still, I went out, took a jeepney and started a journey too noteworthy to forget and too odd to forget. A hundred meters and my eyes started to give in and my mind wandered through the vastness of thought. Yes, I had fallen asleepfor fifteen minutes! And that was a span of time enough to get me heading back home. Opps, ha ha ha, but no one else had noticed it though. So I acted as if nothing had happened, waited for a while, then got off and never looked back.

A LADYS TALE. One can certainly derive important lessons from another persons experience. Take this one. I was on board a jeepney via downtown one fine early summer morn. Being the first passenger, I took the rear and seat near the entrance. Minutes later, a refined, young lady hopped in. Taking a seat directly opposite to me, I knew at first glance she was bound for work, her thick red lips and facial facade told me so. I was enjoying her charms (she was beautiful) when all so suddenly, without both of us knowing, the driver braked to an unexpected halt to an old woman who wanted to get on board. In physics it is stated that in every action there is always a counterpart reaction. Newtons Law of Motion, that is. Before the reaction could affect me, I was able to quickly grip myself firmly on my seat. The lady unfortunately let herself slide, slip and skate along the lengthy passenger seats down to the front. An exhibition she did not anticipate. A little later she grumbled, called the driver filthy names and without paying she got off.

MONEY-SAVING. This is not all about the term mamukong (a word for anyone who intentionally rides without paying). It is about saving a small amount supposed to be for fare in a moral and honest way. Read this:

A friend and I happened to occupy the front seats--which we were not actually used to-- of a Colon bound jeepney. Amidst a solid jam of cars in a busy afternoon, we talked of places we have been to, memories we cherish, family origins and old generations. In the middle of a revealing tete-a-tete, the driver interrupted with statements about his personal life. He asked questions, traced two generations of my fathers family name. There was sorting out of family trees, which eventually led to the conclusion that we were relatives, not that close though. He then talked of life and how he managed to cope, and how he supported his family with his little earnings from his being a full-time jeepney driver. A moment later, we handed to him our fare but he insisted that we keep it.

I have never met someone who questioned me about what I do inside a PUJ, especially during boring trips. It sounds funny or strange huh, but I am hardly ever without something to do usually small things like singing the weeks top song, or watching the driver smokes under the NO SMOKING ordinance printed in bold letters on the jeep top or simply praying for the safety in travel.

I would sometimes make quite a big deal out of reading every bible passage, notes or even poems posted on the sides.

Ang jeep ay parang alkasiya, kaya ang ibigay niyo ay barya

I will always ride a Pasajero

Thank You. Ride Again

Load and unload on jeepney stop only

There were times I was more interested in keeping an eye on a baby sleeping on his mothers lap, or thinking about the risks those men hanging at the back could surely get into.

I have learned so many things in all my years of riding a jeepney alone. An unidentified youngster snatched a newly bought cap of mine while the jeep was on a stop: I would have to be always cautious and alert. A lady was left in shock when a man snatched her gold necklace while she was asleep: I should never put on expensive jewelry or anything valuable for watchful eyes to see - especially at night. I learned the rights of a disabled person, the right to access to any public utility vehicles.

Well, these are the things I best remember. To those coming from far-flung provinces and still orienting themselves in riding one of the coolest transports in the city, be not worried. Inside a PUJ you are safe and free unless the driver is reckless, or you are seated beside a holdupper, or a CITOM officer tells you "Sir, come down. You have been caught for jay walking".

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0 comments | Thursday, July 19, 2007

There are a lot of scams online and if you really read what they write, you would surely fall in the trap. Before you join any of them, make sure your sources are reliable.

When I heard about PayPerPost from a professional blogger slash friend, I never had second thoughts of joining in. He told me how satisfying the returns were looking at the financial point of view. He convinced me that since I blog often, why not earn from the effort at the same time?

The concept is simple: blog and get paid. Just follow the word of mouth ethics and you are in.

I did sign-up and wrote my first post on PayPerPost Direct. Guess what, I just get paid 2 weeks ago. True enough, the payment for my other posts came in, one after the other, day after day. The payment is secured as they pay you via your PayPal account. So imagine me receiving an email from PayPal day after day notifying me of the deposits made by PayPerPost. Getting a $20 dollar for a post is no joke at all. This is for real. So far, I am satisfied of how PayPerPost is paying for my bills.

Future goal: to be among the top earners. It sounds hard but never impossible.

So don’t be left behind. Go forward and be among us. As what PayPerPost always say “Spread the Love”. Take the first step here.


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Read first my previous post about Pinoys celebrating the Arts Festival 2007 in Brookings. Then enjoy the video below.

More to come soon.

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1 comments | Monday, July 16, 2007

There are only a couple of things you can do in Brookings, South Dakota. One is to stay at home. Another one is to go to work. That's it. Without the regular holidays and events like the US independence day last July 4th, Brookings will just be one very boring place to live in.

I went to watch the fireworks display with Val and Henok. To tell you frankly, it wasn't at par with what we have in the Philippines. It was too amateurish a display you'll get sleepy watching it. See it for yourself [video after the jump].

Tell me what you think.

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Read my previous post about my trip to Nebraska.

Here is a video of the countryside. The 6-hr long travel felt like 2-hr shorter by the wonderful things I saw around the counties we passed through. Enjoy the video.

Next post will be about the Independence celebration in Brookings.

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1 comments | Saturday, July 14, 2007

A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to go to Nebraska with my colleague Val and our respected boss Geoff. It wasn't a trip for shopping and merrymaking, but for research. The trip alone from South Dakota was long, about 6 hours by car. Apart from the few stops we've made and visits in convenient stores for nature's call, the trip was nothing but excitement on my part. It was my first time in Nebraska. It was my first time to see the Sandhills. [click photo for a bigger view]

I heard a lot about the Sandhills from my boss and few people from work. The name itself suggests they are hills made of sand. Indeed, they are.

I was amazed to see a vast of land with sloping hills of sand. There were only few trees surviving in the quite rigid condition. There were bushes though that have persisted all the years.

If you want to see human beings in the Sandhills, forget it. Hardly that you'd encounter a single soul; it is not just the place for people to regenerate their genes as it was far from civilization. Far, meaning, you have to drive through long, rugged, uncemented trails to buy your groceries. Far, meaning, you never gonna enjoy a night in a bar or a movie in a theater. Thus, if your existence revolves around socialization alone, you'd die looking for it in the Sandhills.

But the Sandhills is not a boring place altogether. For nature lovers, this is the right place to be. It is home to many species of animals and plants. Though it looks empty from afar, closely, it holds the secret of its hidden beauty. I saw for the first time a big eagle atop a pole, free and nobody was trying to kill it. There were all kinds of exotic birds flying and perching, jackrabbits running, snakes appearing every now and then, butterflies of different shades, wild bulls and cows and a lot more.

I love nature. If given a chance to live in the Sandhills, I'm quite certain I'd survive. Growing up in a southern town in Cebu, Philippines, the situation could be approximated as the same. Although my town is devoid of wildlife, the crispness of the breeze and the tranquility it brings are comparable. Sandhills can become my home.

We stayed there for two days and gathered the necessary data for our research study. Late afternoon of the second day, we bid Sandhills Nebraska goodbye.

God's power is in the Sandhills. Photos below are a proof.

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0 comments | Monday, July 09, 2007

There were people who deserved praise! I used "were" because I realized that I shouldn't have spoken too early. I wrote the piece two months after my arrival in Brookings and I barely knew people back then. What pushed me to write good stuff was purely 'first impressions'. Now I have proven that first impression never lasts.

I value a lot my "friendsters". To this date, I have collected quite a number already. The friendships didn't happen so quickly though. I mean the friends that I have now went through thick and thin, so to speak. I learned a lesson that friendship would only be made strong through time and I am quite certain that these people with me at this moment are the ones who stride with me all along.

Those who didn't survive, those who let go of the friendship aren't real friends at all, are they? Friends value each other. They trust each other. That is how it should be.

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I'll tell you one thing about shopping online. There is one online shop that I love to visit each time I want to purchase something online - couponchief.com, an online leader in coupons, deals, and discounts.

One of the merchants on this site is Dell, which is considered the world's leading computer system company. Dell coupons are available for you to use if you decide to take advantage of the site and buy. For instance, if you purchase XPS M1210 Notebook, you get a $175 off the price. A Dimension C521 and E520 desktop purchases of $999 or more will save you $350. That is a huge discount for a desktop, isn't it?

Aside from Dell, there are other merchants too like Gap, Bestbuy and more. Get your coupon now and save your hard-earned money!

Thank you to my Sponsor couponchief.com!


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2 comments | Wednesday, July 04, 2007

This is my last post about my New York trip. The last league of my trip was spent in the only aquarium in New York City, which is also part of the largest network of metropolitan wildlife parks in the US - the New York Aquarium.

The Aquarium is driven by a vision of a world where people understand the critical role the oceans play in human survival and the sensitivity of aquatic resources.

With exhibits featuring over 8,000 animals, the Aquarium offers diversity, superb viewing, and world-renowned scientific expertise that assures a rewarding experience and the knowledge that people can make a difference in the ocean world around them.

Whether you're getting wrapped up in the tentacles of our jellies in its brand new Alien Stingers exhibit, being awe-struck by our walruses in the rocky coastline of Sea Cliffs, or cheering on the California sea lions during the Aquatheater presentations, you're always close to some of the world's most amazing wildlife.

I took a video during the afternoon Dolphin Show at the New York Aquarium, Brookyln, NY.

Source: NY Aquarium
Please visit the NY Aquarium site for more info.

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