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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!

0 comments | Sunday, September 30, 2007

It is not a unique story of one partner being out of town. Or not seen for a week. The wife is in Dubai. The husband is in a place thousand miles away. They haven’t seen each other for almost two years now. How would romance work?

I have always questioned the efficiency and value of a long-distance romance. Even before I experienced it myself way back, I knew, with the things that could probably play in your mind, it will never work. Imagine the pain it could possibly create in you and your partner in all sorts of ways. Communication is the essential ingredient in the love concoction and being a great distance apart can surely injure that. Of course there are always love letters, phones, and emails to keep the communication alive all the time.

However, there are stories that defy the belief -- belief that love won’t work. The partners hang to the thought that love works in a mysterious way and when confronted with such situation all there is to do is to trust. If there is truth to the principle that absence makes the heart grow fonder, then it could greatly help make long-distance relationship last.

How would you survive lonely days? Here is a to-do list.

1. Keep busy! Read my daily blogs.
2. Write love letters via snail mail. The excitement of when it will reach its destination and land safely on the hand of the recipient is enough to make you alive.
3. Share pains through emails and phone calls. Acknowledge you are hurt as much as he/she is.
4. Get yourself a sense of humor especially when calling him/her. Do not wail like you won’t see the other person anymore.
5. Smell the scent of his/her cologne or touch anything he/she has left behind.
6. Call and ask his/her friend to do little favors for you, like, to leave a note on his/her bed saying “I Love You”. Don’t do this often. He/she might suspect you are up to his/her friend.
7. Give a surprise visit. It is costly but he/she would see the effort!
8. If there is a chance for both of you to meet up at least one day in a year, then make that day extremely magical.
9. Write a song. Sing in the shower.
10. Be tough. Keep friends and family around you.
11. Focus on your job and do not put your life on hold just because he/she is not around.
12. Stay active. Go the gym. Jog with your best friend!
13. Chat with a web cam.
14. Call your dog or cat by his/her name. Just to make sure you won’t forget your partner’s name after 10 years of being apart.
15. Find a place, e.g. park, beach where you could be at peace with yourself.
16. Develop a website for both of you! If you won’t end up together, there is always a delete button.
17. Remind each other how much you love one another.
18. Go to the nearest beach and send a message in the bottle. Fate can sometimes work on your side.
19. Pray. Pray genuinely.
20. Visit Romance For Everyone to know more.

Thanks to Romance For Everyone for sponsoring this post.
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0 comments | Saturday, September 29, 2007

Here I am, blogging in a time when everyone is asleep.

Know what, I am supposed to be happy at this moment! After a HOBO day party at home, I should have been feeling happy. But, honestly, I am not! Am I satisfied with the outcome of the event? - not at all. Disappointed, I am.

Weird, but I feel so stupid after the party. It feels like I need something more than what the people in my house could give.

There was a point that I didn't even want to see the faces of my housemates!

There was a point that I thought I needed to find a new home - somewhere where I could be alone, by myself, in solitary - to think of life, future and happiness without people to bother about, to care, to love - just be myself.

I feel stupid to torture myself with this stupid imaginings!

Where is happiness? Where is fulfillment in life? Where?!


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We each have our own hidden getaway. Mine was the southern town in Cebu, Philippines where I spent half of my life. I miss the place a lot. Even now that I am in the U.S., I still long for the appeal of a classic Southern town.

Wait, maybe I should not look and think beyond the wide seas.
Since I travel a lot around the U.S, I might drop by this one precious city Raleigh in North Carolina. It boasts itself with irresistible blend of big-city entertainment and Carolina charm–without the big-city hassle.
Raleigh is best known for its world-class museums, best of Broadway shows and live concerts, Capital area historic sites, professional and amateur sporting events and shopping mecca status with nine major retail areas, area attractions and entertainment truly offers a variety of entertainment all in one park-like, scenic setting.
I admit, those are all my weaknesses. If ever I get to see the place sooner, I'd stay for the whole weekend and enjoy every bit of experience. They even have this "Monthly Raleigh, N.C. Giveaways" where I could win one of nine Raleigh weekend experiences.

Why won't you be like me and register to win this FREE Raleigh Getaway?
-One night accommodations for two at the Courtyard by Marriott Raleigh Crabtree Valley
-$25 gift certificate to Bloomsbury Bistro
-Free VIP admission for two to Rum Runners
-2 tickets to the North Carolina Theatre
-2 tickets to the N.C. Museum of Art’s Landscapes from the Age of Impressionism
-2 tickets to Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences

This October, from the 12th to the 15th, the 2007 N.C. State Fair, which is the largest event in the state of North Carolina and the largest 10-day agriculture event in the nation, would be celebrated. That would be fun to be in. Don't you think so?

Whatever the season, fall getaway weekends in Raleigh, would always be fun-filled. Visit this page to know why I said so.

So, ready to jump in the plane with me? Off to Raleigh, we go....Opps, don't forget to register to win a trip.


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3 comments | Friday, September 28, 2007

China invented corruption according to Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago. Upon hearing this news, I laughed.

Welcome to Philippine Senator Miriam Santiago's universe. May I present to you the most intelligent living Filipino citizen and the most academically prepared public official!

Recently, Senator Santiago said in a televised hearing, "China invented civilization in the East, but as well it invented corruption for all of human civilization." LOL!

Not that I agreed with Senator Miriam Santiago on this issue. I laughed because I remember what she said not so long ago after her name was taken off from the shortlist of candidates for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

“I am irate. I am foaming at the mouth. I’m homicidal. I’m suicidal. I’m humiliated, debased, degraded. And not only that, I feel like throwing up to be living my middle years in a country of this nature. I am nauseated. I spit in the face of Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban and his cohorts in the Supreme Court.” You can read more comments about this from Nick and Noemi.

Then there was that time when she described less educated Filipinos as "species of lower life forms". Such a comment angered a lot of people.

What about the famous remark she announced publicly: "I will jump headfirst from a helicopter in Luneta if Estrada gets removed from power" but later recanted and said "I lied". Funny, isn't it?

Senator Santiago had already established herself as an epitome of women empowerment, scholastic competence, and professionalism. And it is just right to prove that to the Filipino people, sans her usual verbose rhapsodies.

The fact that the Filipino people voted for her in the 2004 Senatorial elections, is a confirmation that she is still trusted by many and Filipinos still hope for her intelligence and hardwork to manifest and, somehow, help change the not-so-good outlook of public servants.

I still love Sen. Miriam Santiago even if she sometimes (if not, oftentimes) behave like species of lower life forms. Or is she?


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After I saw the photos taken by a friend who's into artistic photography, I began to wonder if I could be a professional photographer too. Okay, I know how to paint and I suppose my love for art would also translate into an equivalent love for photos.

I'm still holding on to my almost-a-year-old digital camera. It's just a 6.0 megapixels SONY cam that for months have been my best buddy in covering events for my blogs.

I was actually aiming for the 7.2 megapixels, but that could wait for next year, if I won't change my mind and still go for the same brand. The price, as per last survey, was just $200, a big cut from the original price of $240.

Next on my list are Nikon cameras. My friend suggested that I should, as a beginner, look for wider lens and a better zoom capability. She suggested I should go for Nikon d40 (2kit lens). It would cost me over $700 dollars. If it is worth it, why not?

Search for affordable digital cameras at Ritz Camera shop.

This post is sponsored by Ritz Camera.


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0 comments | Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I counted the number of "HOW ARE YOU(s)" I received today. Nine. This doesn't count the other "how are yous" I heard from students at the Union, the pathways, hallways and other possible places where people meet accidentally or intentionally.
I told a friend about this kooky feeling I am having against the greeting. "How are you" could easily qualify as the most overused word next to "hi" and "hello" in this part of the world.

Here is a personal rationale. When someone says, "Hi," or "Hello," the addressee is anticipated to either smile or wave or answer back with the same word. Example: Maria meets Peter. Maria says, "Hi, Peter." Peter answers, "Hi, Maria." Simple and quick communication. Conversation ends. Single words that when said demand a simple and snappy comeback.

However, when someone asks, "How are you", since it is an open-ended question, the addressee is expected to answer in a form of a phrase or a sentence. Example: Maria meets Peter. Maria says, "How are you, Peter?" Peter replies, "I feel great, Maria. Thanks." This greeting also invites a cross-examination. Since the addressor seems concerned of the addressee, the latter might want to show a little interest and throw the concern back to know how the addressor feels at the moment, by asking something like, "How about you?" The addressee [who becomes the addressor this time] anticipates for an answer, sure. So the process is a bit longer when the "how are you" is used. Unless, of course, the addressee wouldn't want to know how the addressor feels and would just quickly answer and run away. But that is being so ill-mannered.

There really is nothing bad about the greeting. In fact, I luxuriate in it very much when someone inquires about how I am. It feels good to know that someone cares. These days though, I digested that the greeting is already losing its real sense. That it has become so ordinary, like a cliché, that anyone could say it to anybody at any time minus the care or concern that the greeting supposedly carries and implies.

Imagine this experience: Someone said, "How are you," to me one fine day. If you have read what I wrote above, the conversation followed that process. Then again, after a couple of hours, I met the same person in a different place and, for the second time, he pried into the same words, "How are you". And if you have read what I wrote above, the conversation followed the same process. Ridiculous, if you have to think of it, it could become a cycle of "how are you(s)" and "I feel great(s)" ad infinitum.

It isn't funny at all, is it? There is not just one person who would throw those words at you in a day, but countless of them. Think of how much volume of saliva you have wasted for the "how are yous" that are all kind of insincere.

I see culture as the root. The American culture of saying "how are you" is the reason, as it is their rearing to say the greeting everyday. Just like we, Asians, use the "hi" and "hello," it is their way of life and I, awkwardly, just have to bear with it.

I still wish my friends would only say, "How are you" once a day. Not two times a day. Not thrice. But one sincere "how are you" a day. That will be more than enough for me. If they really couldn't control uttering the greeting, well, I might just think of other ways to acknowledge it…to somehow break the cycle.

Link to the original post - to my Collegian column.
Read my other Collegian Articles.

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Check this out. This something new to me. It is called The Intelligent Community Initiative. Sounds so academic, doesn't it? Wait, it is not what you think it is.

The Intelligent Community Initiative is a one-of-a-kind approach designed to improve local communities via a rapid business development model, using three entities tied together for this purpose:

1. A Business and Facilitation Division
2. An education division known as the School for the Intelligent Community
3. A website interacting with a central database that links these two divisions together with local businesses.

Still wondering? Answer these questions:
Do you have an idea for a business, but perplexed about how you are going to cross the financial and legal obstacles? Do you want to learn how to improve your skills and technology, but don't have the money to invest? Do you have an idea for a learning program incorporating audio?

If you answered yes to all, then contact The Intelligent Community Initiative. Feel free to contact the and become part of the program.

There are a lot of documents that would explain everything at the The Intelligent Community Initiative Website. Why not visit it and take a peek?

This post is sponsored by The Intelligent Community Initiative.


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OMG, one of the songs that bring back past memories. I love this song "Blue", probably because blue is my favorite color. LOL. Isn't this the song played all the time in disco houses?

Blue Lyrics
Yo listen up: here's a story
About a little guy
That lives in a blue world
And all day and all night and everything he sees is
Just blue like him inside and outside
Blue his house with a blue little window
And a blue Corvette and everything is blue for him
And himself and everybody around
'Cause he aint got nobody to listen: ...
I'm blue (da ba dee)
I'm blue (da ba dee)
I'm blue (da ba dee)
I'm blue (da ba dee)
I have a blue house with a blue window
Blue is the color of all that I wear
Blue are the streets and all the trees are too
I have a girlfriend and she is so blue
Blue are the people here that walk around
Blue like my Corvette it's standing outside
Blue are the words I say and what I think
Blue are the feeling that live inside me
I'm blue (da ba dee)
I'm blue (da ba dee)
I have a blue house with a blue window
Blue is the color of all that I wear
Blue are the streets and all the trees are too
I have a girlfriend and she is so blue
Blue are the people here that walk around
Blue like my Corvette it's standing outside
Blue are the words I say and what I think
Blue are the feeling that live inside me
I'm blue (da ba dee)
I'm blue (da ba dee)
Just blue like him inside and outside
Blue his house with a blue little window
And a blue Corvette and everything is blue for him
And himself and everybody around
'Cause he aint got nobody to listen: ...
I'm blue (da ba dee)
I'm blue (da ba dee)
I'm blue (da ba dee)
I'm blue (da ba dee)


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Europe is no doubt the best continent of all in terms of things you could do and amazing places you could see for short breaks or weekend breaks. Since I lived in the Netherlands before, I plan to visit the continent of historic sites again - that would be sometime sooner. I am wondering if there is any travel promotion that I could possibly enjoy and pay only less.

A friend suggested I should check out DialAFlight. It is one of the UK’s top travel companies offering cheap flights, hotels, car hire, city breaks holidays, and travel insurance to help travelers create the perfect all-inclusive trip to any worldwide destination.

I visited the site and was amazed at how low the deals could get. Very affordable indeed, even for students. I haven't been to Athens, Greece yet. It will be part of my itinerary for sure.

DialAFlight also has more than six million cheap discount flights to a wide range of destinations around the world. Whatever you need - the best economy or business class flight fares, DialAFlight has the best deal.

Thank you to the sponsor of this post, DialAFlight.


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It is already past midnight. Today is the birthday of Madeline, the lady sub-renting one of the rooms of our house. I am quite excited to catch her reaction when she'd see the surprise gifts we bought for her.

Beautifully-arranged flowers and a box of chocolates -- what else could three men think as gifts for a single and available lady? I admit, we aren't too creative. Oh well, that's the best we could do.

Another birthday would come in a few days. More stories about it soon.


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0 comments | Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I know a lot of students are waiting for this. I know for the fact that not all students are gifted with good writing skills and most rely on help from online. This is now your chance to be served by the world's finest custom essay and dissertation writing service - MasterPapers.
The general premise of MasterPapers.com is to deliver academic written assignments at the level that students themselves feel comfortable with and provide a solution in response to the lack of competence demonstrated by some existing Essays writing services. In fact, high school essays, term papers, or dissertations supplied by such services are often so esoteric, lacking in references, plagiarized or outdated that they fail to ensure good grades for students. Certainly, costly but unscrupulous writing services promptly provide academic papers to customers, but at a much lower academic level than is acceptable.
MasterPapers.com prides itself with writers-employees who are all competent and experienced professionals. Once you get their services, you are guaranteed of quality standard papers/essays - not plagiarized! If you think you are not getting what you want, they offer you a money back guarantee - thus, there is really nothing to lose.

The service is not only for college students but for graduate students as well. One more thing, MasterPapers.com never discloses any information knowingly or unknowingly provided by their clients, so you are assured of complete privacy and confidentiality.


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I love to read almost every good printing material there is. Back home in the Philippines, my room was sort of a junkyard of books - I couldn't get through a night without reading few pages. In times that I wasn't in the office, friends knew I was frequenting the bookstores, browsing new releases; however most of the time I was hanging around second-hand book shops scouring for best buys.

I have collected so many books already. I thought of sharing some titles for you that I consider worth your while. Never mind if most of them do not have the specialty "Harry Potter" books can proffer your profound imaginations,I like them anyway.

- A Separate Peace (..jealousy, irresponsibility, denial and insecurity; two boys in an interesting plot..)

- Life of Pi (A modern classic. A boy and a tiger in the middle of the Pacific Ocean?)

- The Color Purple (No wonder this classic won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Superb!)

- The Alchemist (a lovely masterpiece!)
- Eleven Minutes (excellent concept)
- By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept
- The Valkyries (finding angels)
- The Pilgrimage (seeking for the sword)
- The Fifth Mountain (a trial of faith)

DAVID BALDACCI (He writes with so much passion)
- The Simple Truth
- Wish You Well
- The Christmas Train
- Last Man Standing
- Split Second

- Angels and Demons (A breathless adventure)
- The Da Vinci Code (It is true. This one is the master of thrills!)

- Five People You Meet in Heaven (Great writing approach. The last person the lead character meets is a Filipina girl...)
- Tuesdays with Morrie (A little book full of insights)

(I like these classics)
- To a God Unknown
- Of Mice and Men

(A true-to-life story; very moving.)
- A Child Called It (1st book)
- The Lost Boy (2nd book)
- A Man Named Dave (last book)

- Puerto Vallarta Squeeze
- Border Music
- Slow Waltz in Cedar Bend

(There's power in his writings)
- The Old Man and the Sea
- Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises

- The God of Small Things (Winner of the Booker Prize)

- Bless Me, FATHER

JOHN GRISHAM (I know why people love his books)
- A Time to Kill
- The Summons (wonderful plot)
- Bleachers

(I like the details; impressive)
- East of the Mountains
- Snow Falling on Cedars

- The Gazebo (If you are into love stories, try this book)

- Memories of Pure Spring

- Me Talk Pretty One Day (quite cool)
- Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (great collection of essays)

- True History of the Kelly Gang (Winner of the Booker Prize)

- Ghost Soldiers

- Strange Rain

- One Hundred Years of Solitude

- A Confederacy of Dunces

- A Day No Pigs Would Die

ARLENE CHAI (A Filipina Writer from Sydney Inspired by Life in the Philippines)
- The Last Time I Saw Mother

- Almost Adam (Finding the missing link and the ascent of humankind)

- 1984 (I never imagined I would love this classic..)

- The House of a Thousand Lanterns (A thousand? It is a quality story-telling)


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Do you love Extensible Markup Language (XML)? It is an extensible language as it allows users to define their own tags, with a primary purpose that is to facilitate the sharing of structured data across different information systems, particularly via the Internet.

If you want to learn more of this general-purpose markup language, I want you to check out the new XML Aficionado blog from Alexander Falk, CEO of Altova.

Falk is a true XML Aficionado and has always been interested in new technologies, trends, and innovative uses of XML.

Visit the site.

This post is sponsored by XML Aficionado blog.


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It is more than just sipping coffee.
Over the years, as medical experts and researchers are busy gathering compelling evidences of the side effects of too much intake of coffee in the body system, I seem to evade countless stories of heartburn, anxiety, high blood pressure, hyperactivity and many others that caffeine, a type of drug or stimulant found in coffee beans, appears to be a causal factor. In most nights that I am inside Cottonwood coffee (a shop located in downtown Brookings), I please myself many times with the piece of information that caffeine used in moderation is not particularly destructive (I'm too defensive). A magazine article even cited that studies of the harmful health effects from coffee are ultimately coming to a close after there are a number of verified rewards to partaking it in a daily cup or two.

Here are a few I gathered.
1. Coffee drinking may lower your risk of colon cancer by up to 25 percent because of its ability to help keep you regular.
2. Two observational studies found that regular coffee intake reduced the risk of developing kidney stones.
3. People with asthma who drink coffee can have up to 25 percent fewer symptoms because one of the compounds in coffee - theophylline - acts as a bronchodilator.
4. Other diseases that coffee may help prevent: cirrhosis of the liver, Parkinson's disease, skin cancer, and gallstones.

In the October 1999 edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, an Israeli researcher detected a calcium increase in brain cells exposed to caffeine. He said caffeine may boost levels of brain-cell calcium, a mineral essential in memory. Alright, I have no medical expertise to substantiate these claims. As a coffee drinker, I only have the impression that coffee has a delightful taste people do not need a white man in robe to inform them what a dose of caffeine could bring in or how a dose benefits them.

For me, an hour or two inside a coffee shop with my fave coffee is more than enough, while at the same time enjoy the free wireless internet connection. Cappuccino, unlike brewed coffee, latte, espresso, flavored coffee, and other multitude of iced coffee beverages – appeals to me more. Blame it perhaps to the distinctive roasted strong, obviously not bitter, flavor that never fails to excite my taste buds. Blame it to my order of medium size mug (in most cases) that sufficiently fills the longing, stimulates the wit and awaken ideas to move like troops of a grand army to a point of becoming so enthusiastic of anything that I often miss to notice how time flies so fast inside the café.

But it is more than just sipping coffee. Coffee shop is the place to meeting hard-to-find friends for the much-awaited hangout. In many instances, I was surprised to know lots of secrets leisurely exposed over a cup of coffee. These secrets deal with a love lost and found, new business started, or simply family squabble. Every sip offers a story wonderfully told.

I will tell more stories about coffee sooner. Honestly, I have many things in mind to continue blabbing and getting your nod on how coffee could be so beneficial.

Happy drinking coffee - for now!

Here is a video I stumbled upon on YouTube. It is the interview of Jacob Limmer, co-owner of Cottonwood Coffee in Brookings, South Dakota.

Visit the Cottonwood Coffee site.


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0 comments | Saturday, September 22, 2007

I am buying a new laptop in the coming weeks and I am thinking of getting a DELL. Since I am most of the time on the move, I want something with more flexibility where I could take the laptop with me wherever I go! For me, portability is a major plus for a notebook.

Price of laptops at DELL is cheap but the deals never compromise on the all-important features.

I personally like their mobility notebooks - really slim and light. They also have these performance notebooks with advanced technology for the ultimate portable multimedia or gaming experience with design and features that are cutting-edge.

Wanna help me choose which laptop? Check this out bureau pc.

Thanks to the sponsor of this post, DELL.


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I love reminiscing the long line of “firsts” I’ve had – the first time I had my ear twisted from watching cartoon movies all day long, my first good spank for teasing my younger sister, getting zero for a daily spelling quiz and the most terrifying of all, having a nightmare for an unsaid evening prayer.

I was taught to say short but sweet and humble prayers, like any other little boy: “Jesus watch over me when I sleep”. “Thank you for the wonderful day”. “Bless me and my family always”. These were my prayers, though I had little thought for their meanings, sometimes even neglected the power within them. It was like harping on the same thing. Saying them on bended knees in front of our altar before jumping off to bed and after rising in the following morning became part of my daily undertaking.

I prayed for a very simple reason: for God to listen to and answer all my petitions with a big “yes”. I had this belief of Him as a kind of Santa who by prayer could give me what I wanted.

Seems like it was just yesterday. I remember asking my mother for an expensive wristwatch for my birthday and adding nightly prayers for it. Knowing that God was just within earshot, I tried to describe to him my dream watch, dotting all the I’s and crossing the T’s. Unfortunately, I never got what I wanted, but I later began to get close to something far more precious.

When my mother finally said, “You’ve got to know, I can’t give you that kind of wristwatch”.

I did not understand. In my mind was the belief that there was no unanswered prayer.

One Sunday during the homily of an afternoon mass, enlightenment came for my troubled mind when the priest said, “True, God does answer prayers, but not always with a yes. He has the best plan prepared for each one of us. He sometimes works indirectly in a remarkable, yet smooth and calm manner. He also sees what is inside the heart.”

I used to pray only when in a crisis – when laden with worry, when struck by disaster and disease, when racked by pain or stymied by despair, or when hounded by great fear. In those moments, I had to call on all the angels and saints, say my prayers wholeheartedly and stand ready to execute my last recourse if everything fails...cry like a baby.

I had countless victorious moments in prayer. I was once beset by problems concerning my low grades in high school. My parents didn’t know about them. Aside from praying hard during Sunday masses, I made quite a big deal of writing a short prayer and putting it inside the offertory basket. The prayer read: “ I am troubled by my grades, Lord. Please do not let my parents inquire about them. And if they find out, kindly lessen their fury.”

After a month of hiding it, mother finally learned of my standing from my own class adviser. What followed next, to my amazement, was a peaceful one-on-one mother-son discussion. Pop! Prayers worked.

Some people say prayers daily, such as morning and evening prayers, grace before and after meals and the Liturgy of the Hour. On Sundays, families from different classes in the society pack the churches for the Eucharistic celebration.

When we celebrate our birthdays and anniversaries, we make sure we attend a thanksgiving mass that day, so that at the same time, we could ask God for more successful and fruitful years ahead.

A certain author once quoted, “Prayer is the best arbitrator of all differences, the best promoter of true friendships and the best cure for envy and jealousy.” Prayer is not measured words that are forcefully said and dramatized, offered with pomp and arrogant pride. It is sometimes just words unspoken, whispered in tears by a contrite heart. It energizes the will, troubles the conscience and kindles affection in the heart. It opens the sluice gates for the divine grace to pour out. And more than that, it enables us to know and do the will of God. Our souls actually hunger for prayer, but few of us find our miracles because we do not know what we really desire or what we ought to pray for.

Once, I hated this individual who interfered in all my tasks. I prayed for him and little by little, I was made more patient and charitable. No quack remedies, my hatred slowly disappeared. I became a happier person in a world that is friendlier than I was accustomed to finding it.

Now I learned how to pray without talking big or allowing flood of words to pour out from my mouth. Honestly. In fact, I let God talk also and do His part, for that is what He wants. Oftentimes, I pray for others – family, community, country and all the people I love and care about. I hope and pray that all broken relationships be healed; that there might be peace in every home and in our land; that terrorism, child exploitation, rapes, massacres and other related crimes would stop.

When anything goes wrong, I often seek sanctuary in order to find the power to face life again. There I could soar high with wings as an eagle, run and not be weary, walk and not faint. Prayer is an access to this power. Anyone weak inside can always lay down his burden to Someone stronger.


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1 comments | Friday, September 21, 2007

It's my first time to hear about this Laser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis or LASIK. With a little more browsing, I learned that it is a type of refractive laser eye surgery performed by ophthalmologists for correcting myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. It is a procedure that changes the shape of the cornea (clear front) to reduce the need for glasses or contacts. Lasik (others call it Lasic, Lasec, or Lasix) may correct nearsighted or farsighted vision, astigmatism, or reduce the need for reading glasses.

It is the most often performed surgery in the US, with more than 11 million Lasik procedures performed to-date -- even the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) has approved All-Laser Lasik technologies for use on U.S. astronauts.

Selection of your Lasik doctor is important. USAEyes, operated by the Council for Refractive Surgery Quality Assurance, provides objective Lasik information and lists Lasik doctors who meet specific patient outcome requirements and are certified by the nonprofit, nongovernmental, Council for Refractive Surgery Quality Assurance.

Just recently, www.USAEyes.org website has met the Health On the Net Foundation (HON) accreditation requirements:
The www.USAEyes.org website of the Council for Refractive Surgery Quality Assurance has been accredited by the Health On the Net Foundation (HON). HON is the leading organization promoting and guiding the deployment of useful and reliable online medical and health information, and its appropriate and efficient use. Created in 1995, HON is a non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Geneva and accredited to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
In addition to that, www.USAEyes.org was also named a "reliable Web source of information about LASIK", in testimony presented to the Subcommittee on Health of the US Congressional House Committee on Ways and Means.

USAEyes has been cited as a refractive surgery patient advocacy by the New York Times, US News & World Report, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, CNN, NPR, CBS News, Oprah, Ocular Surgery News, Ophthalmology Management, and others.

For Lasik surgery, visit USAEyes.


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It has been many weeks since our last get-together. Last weekend, in some twist of fate, I enjoyed free food served on plates of sweet Filipino smiles and fun. Ate Gina invited few of us to her house for a dinner of pakbet [thanks to Cel], bagoong, fried fish, and few other dishes I didn't even know the names. Frankly, I came there to eat and, no matter what's being served, I was there to eat. LOL.
It was Ping's first attendance. He is the newest Filipino student in town. Bisdak, as he came from Davao, I am glad I don't have to speak Tagalog all the time. I admit, it is a burden sometimes finding the right Tagalog terms when I communicate with most of the Filipinos here. Speaking Bisaya is my forte. Call me a pure Bisdak at heart!
Filipino gatherings are always worth attending!

To see the gallery, click here.


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No doubt that Dell, an American computer-hardware company, was listed as Fortune magazine's 25th-largest company in the Fortune 500 list in 2006 and 8th on its annual Top 20 list of the most-admired companies in the United States.

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Shop here and make your every cent count.

This post is sponsored by Dell Computers.


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0 comments | Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I had the chance to see the SDSU Concert Choir, with Prof. Steven Grives as director, perform last weekend during the inaugural of Pres. David L. Chicoine. To really see the group live was part of my intention of being at the event. To recall, I expressed willingness to be a member of the group last year and, in fact, had a nice chat with Prof. Grives. He, without second thoughts, welcomed me in and told me to attend the scheduled choir practices. Unluckily, all my subjects were in conflict with their schedules, which left me with only wishes that someday I could sing with them.

I still have the plan to join them in the future. For the moment, enjoy the video.

More videos to come soon.


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0 comments | Tuesday, September 18, 2007

How is your credit standing? Are you in need of credit repair? With the number of "bad credit" consumers in the U.S. growing by the day, a lot of companies nationwide [you see them on ads everywhere] promise to clean up your credit record so you can get yourself a car loan, an insurance, a home mortgage, or even a job. Be careful. Most of these companies are only after for your fees and won't even improve your credit standing. In short, most of them are just scams that couldn't deliver you from financial debt.

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Try Bad Credit Offers and rebuild your finances!

This post is sponsored by Bad Credit Offers.


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2 comments | Monday, September 17, 2007

I believe the revised article, "Zigzagging thoughts about life and living in Brookings", that I submitted for publication this week won't get published still. GC, the Collegian editor who rejected the original article because she insisted it was too critical for the newspaper and requested a revision to make it a little lighter-sounding, again thought that the revised one isn't any better than the first. She said and here printed verbatim:
Hi Eric,

I am still willing to run your last article if you do the appropriate revisions.

I want to be clear that I did not pull your article because we have different writing styles. All I ask was that you tone down the anger in your article, suggest ways to make situation in Brookings better, and if your going to site statistics of your own observation, you need to let reader know that this is your own observation and not an institutional survey done on the city of Brookings to determine the extent of racial descrimination.

I like your writing and that is why I choose you to be a columnist this semester.

Hope to hear from you.

I don't know what is wrong with the revision. Maybe there isn't really wrong with the article, rather the problem lies with the editor. Yes, I am referring to GC.

After my great disappointment caused by her rejection last week, I submitted the article to the leading newspaper in South Dakota, The Argus Leader. On the sideline, I emailed the editors and told them about the injurious fate experienced by the article in the hands of GC. Then I waited for two days. If the article gets rejected, GC was right; if it gets a light for publication - GC was wrong.

Lo and behold, the critical article that GC rejected was accepted and published online on The Argus Leader website. Everything was there, verbatim. Now, that's a slap on GC's face!

What I learned from this experience is that, never trust the editing capabilities of unexperienced editors. These editors would fail your dreams and their ideas won't do any good to you.

Go to the tried and tested editors - those who have braved all the criticisms possible and stood through time. If you get rejected by them, you'd never suffer hurt feelings because you believe in their journalistic skills and long experience. However, if your article gets accepted, it is a big confirmation that you may have a writing career ahead of you.

I know what type of articles GC wants [that probably explains why students I had chats with don't like the Collegian - telling me it's a crap]. To satisfy her premature skills, I plan to play around with her with my light articles, just for the fun of it. From now on, everyone's gonna be happy...I hope.

Note: I will post the "controversial" article "Zigzagging thoughts about life and living in Brookings" tomorrow.

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4 comments | Saturday, September 15, 2007

With south winds blowing to about 20 mph and the weather commanding a 50-degree temperature in Fahrenheit scale (that's around 10 degrees celcius), the inauguration of the 19th President of South Dakota State University could have been a big disappointment for all. However, everything went just fine as planned.
The inauguration of David L. Chicoine (Chicoine is pronounced SHE'-kwihn) started on time at 1.30 PM at the outdoor Coolidge Sylvan Theatre. It was my first time to see the theater being used, although I constantly pass by it on my way to church.

Initially, I thought the outdoor theater isn't functional and that it only existed for landscaping purposes. To my amazement, today it looked so nice when guests were on the elevated greens and many others were watching from down below the sloping ground.

Trees surround the area and the way the platform was decorated was simple. Not even a streamer that says "Inaugural of the President" hanged somewhere. For wondering passersby, they had to ask to know what the occasion was all about.

Only the colors blue and yellow dominated the backdrop. These colors are significant to the university's historic culture.
I arrived just in time for the processional. I saw the former President, Peggy Gordon Miller. She already has a place in my heart. Almost all in academic attire or formal wear, I felt like an outsider with my black jogging pants and coat, white shirt, and a black-and-white cap. With no intention of staying longer than an hour [my attendance was aimed for this blog report alone], I stood under a tree nearby - about 20 meters or so away from the platform - and observed the event unfolded so quickly. Unlike in the Philippines where guest of honors deliver their speeches that take ages to finish, especially if politicians are involved, the spiel of each guest lasted for only few minutes. Even the speech of the Governor of the State of South Dakota, Michael Rounds, was brief yet sharp. Only the inaugural acceptance speech of Pres. Chicoine took a little longer, which was expected being the special honoree.

The audience listened to the illuminating talk of the President with dragonflies hovering their heads under the bright sunshine that tried to neutralize the coldness in the air. The world flags that aligned the pathways danced through the wind in a parallel direction. Of course, I looked for the Philippine flag and found it in the middle of the pack. I felt proud.
Nearing the end of the event, I silently tip-toed away. I heard the president spoke and am assured of more good things to come for the university.

Through the greens I walked towards home.
To the new President, David L. Chicoine, congratulations to you!

More photos here.

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Get your garage a new look!

If you are running out of garage space for all your sport accessories or gardening tools, there is a quick solution for that. Try to look into what Car Guy Garage has to offer for your problem, and you'll be amazed at how easy the solutions can become.

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Visit Car Guy Garage for more interesting garage accessories.

Thanks to the sponsor of this post, Car Guy Garage.


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0 comments | Friday, September 14, 2007

What constitute a good newspaper column? Is it the author's stance and conviction? Is it the current critical issue discussed in the column? Should a columnist be allowed to just write about anything for as long as the article is within the bounds of decency? But how is decency defined?

As of this writing, I am having a bout regarding this freedom of speech/expression with one of the Collegian editors, after she rejected my weekly article due to reasons too wishy-washy. I haven't met her in person yet. She is a new staff and probably too excited to do her first "rejection" responsibility. But I am sure "kakain pa siya ng maraming bigas" [she'll never get this, I hope. LOL] to fully appreciate controversial societal articles.

I am printing her letter verbatim:

Dear Eric,
Thank you for the article that you submitted for the second edition of The Collegian. Unfortunately the article will not run this week. I would like you to re-write it and submit it to me again next week for publication.

The reasons why I, and the editor-in-chief, decided not to run the article are as follows:
1. The article sounds too much like a personal attack on the Brookings Community. Don’t get me wrong, your piece is good and I am not trying to minimize your instances of discrimination, but try to work it so that you state your points without putting readers on the defensive. Try being more diplomatic. Most people shut down and won’t listen when they feel that they are being attacked verbally.
2. The 6 out of 10 statistic that you quote in your article needs to have a reference. Did you read that information somewhere or are you just picking random numbers? Again, don’t get me wrong, I do want you to include your experiences with discrimination–like when the elderly lady clutched her purse close to her when you came and sat down beside her. That is personal and powerful and I feel will make the reader stop and think about how they may be interacting with others within their community. But if you are going to quote stats. You need to have a source.
3. The article could be made better by telling your readers what you think could be done to solve the problem or at least help improve the situation. Its ok to be critical of things that happen in and around your world, but it is helpful to try to offer possible solutions. It also shows the reader that you have put some real thought into the issue and that you are not just writing out of anger and frustration. And its ok to be angry and frustrated, but anger never solved anything. Action does.
4. The reason I am giving you a week and not having you re-write it today is that I would like you to think more about the article before you submit it again. Your piece is good, but you can make it more powerful by being less aggressive toward your readers. You want to capture their attention and you want them to listen to you–not alienate them.
Please take my criticism as constructive. I think your work is good and I would like you to continue to write for The Collegian. If you wish to discuss this further or have any questions please feel free to e-mail me or call me. I will be here in the office all night tonight (605) 688-6159.

Thank you and I look forward to reading your re-written article.

Opinion Editor

I have been writing critical articles and attacking people on important issues since I started the "Foreign Eyes" column last year. This rejection isn't just right. Ergo, I responded.


I just waited for my class to finish so I could properly elaborate what I had written and why.

I think what I had written was based on my thinking about freedom of expression through column writing. I don’t think I have violated any journalism ethics and standards, have I? Or was it obscene?

I would admit that the article was critical and many may be offended by what I wrote. But that is normal for a columnist, especially if the columnist takes a strong stance on something. I love being critical and, based on previous experiences when I was still writing back home, the masses like reading columnists who defy what is ordinary and pass judgment on real life people – not just write nameless concepts and policies. For as long as I don’t go overboard as to libel anyone, the column will only be interestingly controversial.

There is no need to be diplomatic. We write not to please anyone. We write because it is happening and it is our responsibility to make it known, even if it hurts. Freedom of speech/expression is not absolute and I know that fully well. But I know as well that I am still within the bound.

I write with conviction. Whatever I put forward is my opinion, a viewpoint that I truly believe in. If argument is necessary, I can argue my case with conviction too. I tied it to some of my personal experiences, making the topic more real and relevant and easy to defend, if the need calls.

Regarding my “6 out of 10 statistics”, I accompanied it with facts that support my position. I wasn’t just picking random numbers as you pointed out. The statistics was derived from observations I did for the last 10 months or so [after my first bad experience], observing every people I met in Brookings and tallying them. Thus,
I do not have to quote anyone from anywhere. I am my own source.

I learned in my writing class long ago that, generally, people don’t like to hear the soft side. We need to be hard-hitting or even be egotistical to an extent. That is how it should be. To quote what the editor-in-chief, Jenna Mann, wrote last week “We will do our best to deliver to you the REAL stories about life in Brookings and at SDSU, no matter who tries to keep us quiet.”

If we continue reading the article, she mentioned giving the readers the current and controversial social issues so that they, the readers, could make informed decision. It is clear that we should make the public decide what they think about the issues and not us to decide for them. Thus, we should not curtail info. If we curtail
information because we want to feed their desires, then we aren’t the “voice of the people”. I want the public to know that it is happening, and if being traightforward isn’t becoming more powerful, I don’t know how you'd do it.

I am taking all what you said as constructive criticisms, which I normally do. Exchanging thoughts like this between writers is always healthy. Maybe your experience as a writer or the themes of articles you write don’t exactly overlay with mine, yet we both work on a common ground, with the same purpose, that is to serve SDSU and the people of Brookings who read The Collegian. In that case, we could find a place to agree.

I already submitted the revised piece just before your set deadline of 3PM. Hope it gets printed this week.

Thanks for the letter and I am happy working with you this semester.


The second edition of the Collegian came out two days ago without my "revised" article. I was so disappointed. Still am.

I sent her another letter but she hasn't replied yet. Maybe she's feeling a sense of guilty responsibility or a personal pain and anguish for doing a thoughtless job as an editor!


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0 comments | Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I normally don't take personality quizzes. Not that I don't like them. I just do not have time to go through them. But today I tried one - Quiz Rocket Personality Quizzes. I never thought it would be such fun. Quiz Rocket has the answer with tons of free personality quizzes. Aside from the fact that the fun quizzes made me laugh, it helped me think about my true personality as well.
Quiz Rocket has 18 trivia quizzes and funny personality tests, with new quizzes added every week. These free trivia and personality quizzes are professionally written and fun to take. To date, quiz topics include the Dating Personality Quiz, Religion Test, Intelligence Quiz, Office Character Quiz, Where Should I Live Quiz, Personal Fashion Style Quiz,Cooking Quiz, Reality TV Quizzes, Dumb Test, Pop Culture Quiz, One Hit Wonder Songs Quiz, Pop Music Quiz, Gay Guiz,Online Bible Quiz, Teen Personality Quiz, Lesbian quiz, and the "Impossible" Quiz.
So, who are you? How smart are you? What kind of lover are you? How sexy are you? Where should you live? What religion should you be in? Or you might want to take the dumb blonde quiz?

To know the answers for these questions, head on here and try it.

Thanks to the sponsor of this post Quiz Rocket Personality Quizzes.


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0 comments | Tuesday, September 11, 2007

This post has long been overdue. The past weeks were more of home-office-home for me. Many things to do in so short a time that I have forgotten [or almost] to blog about the Filipino Potluck in Watertown, South Dakota.
As usual, as was with my ates and mamas [they love it when I address them with those]. The potluck is an annual event that is organized by a couple living in Watertown. Filipinos bring their own food and share it to everyone. Well, that is the concept of a potluck, isn't it? This year, the event was held on the first Saturday of September.
It wasn't as big as the one held in Sioux Falls last July 2007. There were just about 50 people, including quite a number of kids and teens. Honestly, I didn't see a single gorgeous lady, so I was left wondering in a corner where the Filipino-American ladies were.

The whole time I was seated alone. True. I was just on the sofa with my sunglasses on and stole few moments napping. Few Filipinos thought I was a Mexican guy who was lost in some Filipino gathering. Ha Ha Ha.
Food was superb. There was a big lechon on the table [yes, that crispy roasted pig lying flat on its belly on the table]. Whoever prepared it, bravo! Aside from the various types of fried rice - golden, not so golden, with meat, without meat - there were a lot of tasty dishes too. A friend of mine brought kare-kare. The moment I tasted it, I had my mouth watering for more. Bravo to her too! Guess what I brought. Myself. Only myself. I was there to eat their food, that was my mission. LOL.
The day ended with stomachs full. Going home wasn't complete without the "bring house", a tradition so very Pinoy . I came home with packs of lechon and a sweet-and-sour beef, enough to last me a couple of meals.

Visit the gallery for more pictures of the Filipino Potluck in Watertown.

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0 comments | Thursday, September 06, 2007

The past years I had conquered so many places in Asia and Europe and this time around, I am starting to conquer the western side of the hemisphere.

One advice from this traveler: to make each trip memorable, prepare for the trip. Plan ahead, that is. When you want to visit something beautiful in a particular place, always make an itinerary for the day. However, the most important of all in the planning is finding the right accommodation for you -- meaning, the best hotel deal for your holidays.

I was browsing online and I found this - Hotel Reservations. This is a site that offers cheap hotels. HotelReservations.com has been in operation for more than 6 years and have been providing travelers great prices on the places they want to stay for both leisure and business travel.

Looking for city hotels, airport hotels and country hotels from cheap to luxury in and around popular hotel locations such as New York, Las Vegas, Rome, Maui, Dublin, London and Paris? Look no more. HotelReservations offers more than 70,000 properties worldwide, thus you are assured of a wide choice of accommodation options for your vacation or business travel anywhere on earth.

Pricing? Hotel Reservations guarantees to have the lowest Special Internet Rates online. For instance, if there is a lower rate available for the same dates and the same hotel, they will, at your choice, either match the lower rate or cancel the reservation without a cancellation fee. That is how they will take care of your travel.

So if you want to plan your trip with HotelReservations.com's, visit the Destination Guides! I tell you it is very comprehensive after checking destination Philippines. Get recommendations on attractions, restaurants, and hotels, and up-to-date weather, health tips, and general information for thousands of destinations.

You can also book your flights and rent cars with your own preference. One more thing, they offer vacation rentals. These are suite-type lodgings that have self-catering facilities (wet bar, refrigerator, microwave, etc.).

For your next travel, I would recommend Hotel Reservations.

Thanks to Hotel Reservations for sponsoring this post.


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0 comments | Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Our rooftop has been craving rain. Leaves that happened to fall on it which have turned yellowish for quite some time-seem to alight on the angry and seemingly hot tile panels. The little creatures hiding underneath, probably unable to survive the heat, are sprouting their heads. The heat, too, hasn't spared me, as it, without restriction, passes through the ceiling of my non-airconditioned room, tormenting a noontime nap and pestering long-wished daydreams.
One late afternoon, a few weeks ago, I was awakened by the all-too-familiar sound of the falling rain. Happy that it might kick off the start of a heavy downpour, I ran out of the house and noticed how the soil bounced back slowly with each raindrop. I looked at how the leaves of plants, supposedly celebrating the bath, fell down - too frail for a shower now, too delicate for a touch.

Later on, the usual indescribable aroma of a parched and thirsty land tainted the air. One by one, I observed the crickets slowly appearing from nowhere, welcoming and rejoicing in the puddles. The squirrels didn't mind the flying insects and vice versa. The blades of greens and the rain were a great combination especially if the former hit the latter at a perfect angle.

The rain had been my profound comrade especially during my younger years. It saved me from things I hated doing: the afternoon task of watering the plants and mom sending me on an errand. Its occurrence gave me profound delight, as I was fond of making paper boats and sails.

In the past, I never heard anything about El Niño. This phenomenon, as defined, is a weather condition brought about by the invasion of warm surface waters from the western Equatorial Pacific Basin to the eastern equatorial region and could prevail for more than a year. There would be irregularities in rainfall and temperatures; strong winds and drought can be experienced in some areas. The abnormality could have crippling effects on the country's economy in general.

Indeed, El Niño affected the Philippines. Last month, dailies indicated that there had been food shortage in some parts of the country due to agricultural products that had been greatly ruined by the persisting dry spell. More importantly, the impact of water shortage has affected more and more people. In fact, some provinces have rationed the drinking water, which is supposedly unlimited in supply.

While my country was experiencing summer the hard way ­­- even in the driest of dry spell, households in Brookings still managed to water their lawns in the hottest of mid-day. Back home, I was taught to water the plants on the coolest part of the day, either early morning or late afternoon, to conserve water. Here, on the other hand, people do not care which part of the day they water their lawns and gardens.

The water crisis in the Philippines is reportedly about to come to an end. Water levels in dams are rising to normalcy. I am uncertain if it is appropriate to be in euphoria over the three strong typhoons that visited the country not long - which brought days of endless rains. They have wreacked havoc in many depressed areas but the positive side is that they have brought an abundant water supply that will last the next couple of months.

The rainy season in Brookings started in time for the opening of the new semester. Everything has turned green and gone are the angry hot tile sheets that long for rain. The squirrels are happy atop the trees as red ants navigated the sink to gather food for the rainy days.

The cold begins to penetrate through the glass-paned window of my room. I went out of the house, felt the breeze and my comrade leisurely turned up to soak me with assurance that the coming months in Brookings would be all right, that everything back home would be all right.

This is also posted on the Collegian site.
Read more of my Collegian articles.

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There is nothing like this site that I have ever seen online. I happened to stumble upon Black Friday site. I thought the site is all about Holy Week. But actually, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving when major retailers around the country discount products to help kick off the Christmas shopping season.

The Blackfriday ads are usually kept secret until you receive the circulars in your Thanksgiving Day newspaper. However at Black-Friday.net, they give you the advantage by showing you all of the Black Friday 2007 ads before anyone else.

I tried to check the so many ads available and saw the best products at the lowest prices for Wal-mart stores, for instance. With a focus on the customer, Wal-mart has been able to bring electronics, clothing, home goods, and other items to customers since 1962. At Walmart.com, you can shop online for your favorite items and have them shipped directly to your door. Products like a VCamNow 2.0 Digital Video Camera only costs $78.66. What about a Sony PSP Video Game System for a very less price?

Black-Friday.net also offers the BestBuy Black Friday Ad. Imagine a high-end 15.4" notebook that sells for less than $400 only.

The direct links to each product will soon be posted. So if you'd like to be notified when new Black Friday ads are posted, visit the site and enter your email address for updates.

Since for sure you would be shopping this Christmas holidays, why not buy the items earlier during Black Friday to save money? Check out the site to know more.


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I had visited the amazing small Vatican City when I was in Europe. Because of its historic and old structures, stories of ghost are abundant. Here is one of the most viewed videos I found in YouTube. Believe it or not.

via flyboylsl.


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0 comments | Monday, September 03, 2007

I plan to settle and find a new home in the States. There are quite a number of nice US cities to choose from - Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston and Las Vegas, to name a few. But I find Las Vegas the most attractive - for its internationally known resort, shopping, entertainment, and gambling destinations.
Las Vegas is also reputed to be the fastest-growing city in America. The big city has great homes to choose from in a number of different communities. If you search MLS Las Vegas Real Estate site, you'll see what homes are available for sale.

It is easy to find a new home that fits the need and the budget. The search feature helps to locate new Las Vegas homes by size, price and location, zip codes or to view listings by local to find out more about what each new community has to offer.

Try it yourself. Visit MLS Las Vegas.

Thanks to the sponsor, MLS Las Vegas.


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0 comments | Sunday, September 02, 2007

It’s Sunday evening once again! “Turn on the radio!”, someone shouted as the clock struck seven. As soon as my brother pushed the button, I heard a song played on very high volume – “Walk with faith in your heart and you’ll never walk alone...” – pulsating with vigor and energy.

No. It wasn’t my favorite local singer, nor a chorale singing and definitely not a DJ in a FM station. It was the first contestant of the most awaited amateur singing competition!

Tak...tak...tak...my mother came dashing into the room in her rubber sandals, hoping not to miss a single contestant singing. She was definitely keen on hearing all the songs that, moments later, we experienced being swallowed up in an indescribable "aroma" of a burning dish – the one she was preparing for supper.

Music-lovers far from the city’s attractions, denied from all the enticing music lounges and alluring karaoke bars, spend their Sunday evenings listening to on-the-air singing contests "ad libitum". Unlike in the city where one can enjoy watching the latest concerts, people in places beyond the city limits, like my hometown in Argao, Cebu Philippines, prefer to stay indoors and stay up close to their radio sets or TVs. This is their idea of hanging out.

If one takes pleasure in listening to singing contests, he can tune in to any of the two to three stations having the same programs at almost the same time. If you happen to pass by our hometown on Sunday nights, you’ll be delighted to hear a variety of "do-re-mis" and unexpected crescendos or decrescendos, ranging from half notes to full blasts blaring from our living room windows. Not only that. Aside from bringing you back to the yesteryears when Tom Jones said he’d "Never Fall in Love Again" with "Delilah" and Elvis Presley still had his "Blue Suede Shoes", you’ll also be taken into the heights of fantasy in a "Whole New World".

I should know. My mother is a devoted music-lover. Though simple, like any other elementary school teacher, she's got the voice that would cause any light bulb to crash and house lizard to slip from its stronghold. She had sent many other music enthusiasts packing during her teens as she let her high vocal chords ring for thousands of radio listeners. Her ala Shirley Bassey voice proved to be an asset when she became an undefeated champion for twelve weeks. She's been called the songbird of the teacher's department.

Maybe it’s hereditary, because my older brother started singing on platforms at six. He did so well that he impressed almost all our town folks. "Like mother, like son," they said as they appraised him. My younger sister faced a roaring crowd in her first grade. She sang the piece so well that she got a nice grade from her adviser. "Like mother, like daughter," her teacher said. They both knew how it felt to have butterflies fluttering in their stomachs as they skipped some lines and ended up ahead of tune.

Among us siblings, our youngest, Jeffrey, had the lion’s share of the singing talent. He inherited most of my mother’s vocal dexterity and eventually succeeded her to the throne. At age 10, he conquered the airwaves by becoming a champion for eight straight weeks. In no time, his little figure could be seen all over our beloved hometown and in some nearby municipalities. It is no longer surprising to see my brother during fiestas, big parties and parish activities, with a microphone.

If only I could raise a protest about the unfair share of genes, I would have done it before, for I was not that good at singing. I had my first experience on the center stage way back when I was eight. If it wasn’t for my mother, I would have not dared to stand there with my lips as dry as the Sahara and palms as moist as a teething baby's chin, among my schoolmates' parents and in front of all my proud uncles and aunts. The first few lines seemed to have no end and I just knew I interpreted them the way they weren't supposed to be. I was very, very ashamed that I had not lived up to the crowd's expectations of Mrs. Salas' son.

One time I had to try Regine's [Regine is a popular Filipino singer] strategy: submerge yourself neck-deep in the sea on early mornings and sing at the top of your voice. I had to bear the dawn's coldness and to give up my early morning dreams in bed.

Every dog has his day. That concept made me strong enough to audition for a live radio singing competition. I imagined passing it undoubtedly. There I was, in glad rags, with great enthusiasm, making an ambitious attempt. My voice was worth a gift pack of consolation prizes.

Jenny did not make it in her first three tries.

But Leo serves as an inspiration to all. He is a disabled person and walks with wooden crutches. He has nothing to show except for his powerful voice, which, in the end, led him to bag the grand prize and shortly thereafter, acquire a more convenient pair of crutches.

Henry’s love for singing began at the tender age. Enrolling in music courses, joining various singing contests and learning each thing by rote, he progressed and improved his voice quality. Now, he is busy doing live performances in and out of town.

Majority of the Filipinos know how to sing and it cannot be denied there are a lot of Jennys, Leos and Henrys out there waiting for the opportunity to reach the top. Others who have found contentment in themselves could just consider singing a form of relaxation. After a hard day's work or even during office hours, in front of piles of work, one can steal a few moments singing his most-loved yesteryears song.

We have lots and lots of cassette tapes and CDs – classical, jazz, folk – name it, we have it. I really don't know why I can't help myself from singing every time I hear familiar tunes, despite those incidents that seemed to tell me that music doesn't like me. I think I am not just destined for singing contests. I think.

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