2012 Medical Mission to the Philippines

Wednesday February 15, 2012

I started my journey by Greyhound Bus to New York City to join my niece Lydia and her husband Henry who is going with us this time. I left the house at 7:30 AM. I Walked to Crystal City Metro to Union Station, walked 5 blocks to the bus station where I had a ticket for the 10:00 AM trip but I was early enough to catch the 9:30. The bus took off on time and the driver did the routine, announcement, low voice when talking on the cell phone, etc.

We got to New York  Port Authority at 1;30 PM. Walked 7 blocks to the Penn, Long Island Rail Road train for Long Island. Henry picked me up at the station at 2:30. Lydia was still at work when we arrived in the house. We visited, watched TV until 9:00 PM when I got to bed.

We were met by a band and some dignitaries at the airport

Thursday , February 16

Woke up early and had breakfast at 7:00 AM. Got ready for our trip to Manila. We left for the airport by 9:00AM for our 1:10 PM flight. Asiana Airlines attendants distributed earphone, slippers and hot towels after  the plane took off. We had two meals during the flight. The first one I selected steak, thick and tender, with potatoes, green beans & carrots, and cheese cake for dessert. For the second meal I had shrimps and pasta, fresh fruit. We landed at Incheon International Airport, Korea – 2:45 PM, February 17 after 14 hours flight. It was always terrible to travel for long flights. I did not sleep a wink like the other passengers in the plane.

Friday February 17

Our connecting flight to Manila was 4 hours later. We landed at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila at 12:45 AM , after 3.30 hours of flight. Nestor was waiting for us. We looked for Aida, Zeny’s friend who with her son came in their new large van to take us to Ising’s house in Quezon City,  by then it was 3:00 AM.

Saturday, February 18

We were on our way to Las Pinas by 10 AM.  We took a jeepney ride to portion of the trip, transfered to a bus for Baclaran, and another bus ride to Las Pinas. Our last transfer was to a tricycle to Vergonville where the family are all located. Visited with the family , gave some cash to nephew and nieces until and stayed until 4:00 PM.  On our way back to Quezon City Nestor bought some fried chican for dinner.

Some Missionaries checked at Elizabeth Hotel

Sunday, February 19

I woke up at 2:00 but stayed in bed until I heard Henry in the kitchen having coffee. Got ready for our trip to Cebu. We took a taxi to the airport at 5:30 AM and Nestor rode to the airport with us. We were all checked in and had breakfast by 7:00 AM. The domestic airport to Cebu, was fairly new . There were few people in the airport and we had a long wait. We boarded at 8:30AM in a 747-400.plane that was huge with an upper level. There were a number of male stewards in our flight. The plane took off at 9:00 AM.  Our plane landed in Mactan/Cebu International Airport by 10:08 AM. We were met by a band and representatives of the Mayor’s Office. We boarded two buses to go the Elizabeth Hotel. The front of the Hotel is very interesting with swirly design motif carried over throughout hotel. There are also some murals along the hallways. We rested for a while before we met the rest of the group at 6:00 PM to go to Mass. The Mass was at the open plaza of the Basilica of Santo Nino, a huge open space with an open area in the center of the ground floor and several layers of seat on the second level on both sides of the plaza. After the Mass we proceeded to the Governor’s House where the Mayor hosted our dinner. The dinner was buffet style with native food. The Mayor came later and spoke to the Missionaries. The Mayor is very tall and very good looking with a great singing voice. He sang a couple of songs after his speech. We were back at our hotel by 9:00PM.

Monday, February 20

We started the Mission at the Cebu City Medical Center. Henry and I were assigned in the hospital to unpack boxes of medicines and other supplies, arranged them in right order so the runners , people who go around getting supplies for the doctors and nurses can find the needed medicines. In the afternon we went to the Hospital OR to take a look at the operations. The made up operation room was an auditorium. The doctors performed Lumps and Bumps Operations in a heated room with just a few fans. The hospital is a teaching hospital so there are tons of nurses going around and observing operations. We were at the OR at 2:00 to 4:00 PM. We went back to our hotel to take a rest.

The dinner was at the Government Building Party Hall. Henry was not feeling well so Lydia stayed with him in the hotel and ordered  food from the hotel. There was a lecture after dinner on “Dengue Fever” by a doctor who specializes on the disease.

Tuesday, February 21

After the dental treatment, the kids get a treat

We went to the Medical Group working in Port Lapu Lapu  The place is a big open place like a gym in the second level of the building. The Medical Section does most of the work on check up, examinations, registrations. That was the place where the pediatrics, dental, and humanitarian services took place. We packed clothes, shoes, crackers, chocolates canned goods and rice. After the patients got examined and treated we give them the package of goods. By 3:00 PM we were done and went back to the hotel to rest.

Our last night, dinner was at the Historic Library . It is an old , big  historic building. The buffet dinner was great with two tables on two sides of the hall. There was not much wait since there were two lines to get food. Later on, the Mayor came and thanked everyone and entertained us again with songs. There was a female volunteer from NYC with great voice who sang Whiney Houston Songs as part of the entertainment. Tony, a male nurse friend of Lydia and Henry bribed the waiters to keep bringing us food and drinks. Tony is from Cebu and knew most of the people in the place. I had 8 beers which was way much more than my two beer limit. When the dancing started. one of the dance instructor picked me to dance. I told her I do not dance anymore plus I was so drunk but she pulled me and said to just follow her lead. The music started and it was a tango. She led me very well but I was not feeling anything and everyone was having a time watching me. It was 11:30 when we finally left the place.

Wednesday February 22

After the patients treatment, gifts are given out

Woke up at 3:00 – 4:00 AM and got ready for our 8:00 AM Cebu City Tour . The first stop in our tour was the Taoist Temple on Beverly Hills which is  one of the most expensive real estate in the city. One guide showed us how to pray and request favor in the temple.. The next stop is The Heritage Monument in the middle of the city. It is a huge monument that showed the whole history of the city/province. We were back at the hotel to check out at 2:00 PM.

We were all checked in the airport by 3:30 waiting for boarding back to Manila. Our flight tool off at 5:30 and we were in Manila by 6:30. Nestor was waiting for us . We took a taxi and were back in Quezon City by 8:30 PM

Thursday, February 23

We hang around the house in the morning. Lydia called someone to give us manicure and pedicure. We left for the domestic airport early to meet Echie, Lito and Tessie at 5:30 PM. Our plane took off at 8:10 PM and landed at Laoag Airport at 9:00PM. There was a van waiting for us that tool us to Fort Ilocandia Beach Resort. The Hotel was huge and beautiful, spread over vast landscaped park. There are a lot of buildings in the compound and the landscaping was first rate. The lobby was just unbelievable with huge chandeliers and a double curving staircases that led to the second floor where there is a casino and restaurant. There are a lot of bronzes all around although new but interesting.  The pictures on the hallways are terrible. They are reproduction of European paintings of the turn of the century but the reproductions are very bad, some are cut off in certain area. There were a few restaurant in the compound, a Chinese restaurant where we ate our breakfast and some dinners, a PALM bar and a piano bar in the open area on the lobby.

Preparing at the operating room

Behind the compound is miles of beach with white sand. All around the compound are a fish pond, horse riding area, children area, several swimming pools, etc. Several beauty pageants were held in the place. Photographs of royalties, presidents and foreign dignitaries and the beauty pageants were all over the walls. I learned that the place was built for the wedding of Former Philippine President Marcos daughter. The Airport was likewise built to tranport guests to the wedding.

Friday February 24

We had breakfast in the house restaurant and had our first view of the province. We rode a van that took us  for our Tour of  Vigan. Our first stop was the Juan Luna Shrine in Badoc, Ilocos Norte. Juan Luna is one of our National Heroes, a painter who made a name for the Philippines in Spain during the Spanish time, when he won an International Arts Competition with his “La Scolliar” Painting. The painting is huge and depicted the result of the bloody battle in a collicium where the defeated gladiators were dragged from the arena. The Shrine is a big structure with rooms decorated with the furniture of the period.

Lydia in the operating Room preparing patient for operation

We passed through very fine concrete roads up and down the Ilocos Provinces. We stopped at Pinili,  known for their Garlic produce. There were Garlic Stands all along the roads, took lots of photographs and bought some garlics and local red onions.  The Burgos Museum in Vigan, Ilocos Sur was our next stop. The museum was an old two story  structure where the rich family lived in the day. The interior of the building had family photographs  and period furnitures. In Vigan, we walked around the Heritage Village where there are blocks and blocks of Spanish period buildings. The homes are preserved with the lower portions of the buildings made into antiques and gift shops. Also in Vigan, we visited the Crisologo Museum . The museum had lots of artifacts and antiques of the period and  abundant in the area. We visited Pagburnayon which is another part of the province

When we got back in the hotel, we walked in the beach which is on the rear of the hotel compound. We later took a dip in one of three pools. Met the others to have dinner in the restaurant but it was closed. We settled in the PALM Bar and Grill, a small place in another part of the compound where they put the tables together to accommodate our  party of seven

Saturday, February 25

Henry in the Humanitarian Section

The second day of our tour of Vigan is called Pagudpud Tour. Our first stop was Cape Bojedor Light House in Burgos, a two hour drive from our hotel. The  light house is located on top of a hill with narrow steps up the stiff hill. On top, at the base of the light house, the view is beautiful and one can see all the surrounding areas. We proceeded to the Bangui Windmills. The windmills are located all  along  the stretch of beautiful bright blue water beach. There are twenty five of the forty windmills planned to be built. The windmills are white tall poles with three cross bars on top that catches the wind that drives the mill. The poles could easily be a couple of hundred feet tall and fifty feet in diameter.

We drove to Saud Beach next with a stop to take pictures of the salt stand along the road. The area is known for its salt product which is supplied to a number of places in the province. Saud Beach had a big restaurant and hotel rooms for visitors. It is only one of the places along the beautiful beach with accommodations for tourists   We had native food for lunch. There were a lot of vendors selling crafts, bracelets, refrigerator magnets and kitchi stuff.

Sunday, February 26

Nilo with the police men who were with us at all time

We had an early start for our 8:45 half day tour of the City. First stop, Marcos Museum, called the Malacanan Palace of the North. Imelda Marcos built it as a 60th birthday gift to her husband. The rooms are huge and decorated with carved wood and marbles. One room had a few dummies of Marcos with the different outfits  he wore. Another room had pictures and posters of Marcos. The house back on to a beautiful lake. In the next building is the Mausoleum of Ferdinand where his body lie in state. The room is deem with flowers all around, the walls were painted black and solemn music was played.

The next stop, the Museo Ilocos. The museum displayed local crafts, furnishing, transportations, building materials, tools among others. A room in the museum displayed living room setting with antique furnishing. We proceeded to the Sinking Bell Tower. a very old structure that had been sinking for sometime. The side door of the tower showed how much the tower had sunk, only about four feet of the door is above the street level. We visited next Saint Williams church but did not take much time to look around. Our last stop was the Laoag Public market. Our tour guide took us to a place where they sell a particular meat that is popular to locals. Lydia , Etchie and Tessie all bought stuff to take back to Manila.

In our bus going to the Mass

We checked out of our hotel and got to the airport, checked in by 5:00 PM for our 7:30 PM flight back to Manila.  The waiting room in the airport is small for the number of people waiting.  There were two TV but only was working. The air condition was in full blast, it was freezing. Tessie and Ectchie looked for seats away from the air conditioning unit which was blowing directly where we were sitting.

We landed in the local station at 9:30 PM. Nestor was waiting for us at the airport and we looked for Aida, who came with her son and grand daugther in their new Van to drive us to Quezon City.

Monday, February 27

We had our first dinner at the Governor Building

We had an easy day of relaxing. We went to SM Mall where Lydia bought Patajong and Baro at Saya for a parade in July when they join the Medical Association in a Parade. She also bought Henry a new Barong Tagalog. I was able to find a pajama for Jim. We went grocery shopping in the lower portion of the Mall. The fruit and vegetable were very fresh and some of the produce were wrapped in plastic. The meat were cut right on the tables on the floor. The cashiers were young women finely made up from head to toe and in lime green uniforms similar to airline stewardesses. We rested when we got home and Gilda’s grandchildren came for a visit with their great grandfather. They had dinner with us and left at 9:00 PM.

Tuesday, February 28

We stayed home because of a huge demonstration in Manila by the Iglesia ni Cristo. There was a scandal in which a supreme court judge was involve. The judge is an Iglesia ni Cristo so the members of the religion are demonstrating. Apparently the judge was appointed by Gloria Macapagal the evening of her last day and the people are trying to have him impeached. The news said that the judge has a salary of P145,00 a  year and he had amassed 6 mansions and huge wealth while in the bench.

Henry and Lydia before the mass

Lydia and Nestor went out to market .While they out, Nestor’s ex wife Mary came with her two kids. I do not remember her but she knew me and said we had met before when we last came.  Her kid are 23, a girl who works and a boy 19 a civil engineering student. They brought some casaba cake and pansit luglug. They stayed for dinner and left at 9:00 PM.

Wednesday , February 29

We went to Morong in the morning to visit Flerry’s parents. We left the house at 8:30 AM to meet with Aida’s son who drove us in their new Van. We had a  two hour drive  through a number of towns northeast of Manila. We got to Morong at 12 noon and met Flerry’s parents. They live in a nice place with a steel gate that opens to a driveway that lead to another house occupied by his brothers. They seem to live together in the compound. Flerry’s mother is up in age and walked with a cane. Her father just had a mild heart attack  and walk with a cane as well. Flerrys two brothers and their wives and other members of the family came and drove with us to a restaurant nearby. We had a 5 course lunch mostly fish dishes.

Patients get dental treatments from the dental volunteers

After lunch we went back to the house and had a quick tour of their place. The house seemd fairly new and neat. There were lots of photographs of the family. Flerry’s parents had 17 great grand children. Later on we drove to St Gerome’s church which is a very old Spanish church with an adjoining school. Unfortunately the church was closed. Our drive home seemed much longer We had a lot of food left over from lunch thet they had us take home. We got home at 4:00.

Thursday, March , 1

After breakfast Lydia and Ising went shopping. Nestor, Henry and I went to SM Mall and Landmark Mall next to it. I bought 3 DVD Philippine music and a pair of pajama for Jim. The pajama cost  P350 and the DVD was P45 for three. Rested at home the rest of the day.

Friday, March 2

Preparing at the operating room

We left for the airport at 5:45 PM and got to the Ninoy Aquino International at 7:15 PM. Our flight took off at midnight and landed at Inchung Airport in Korea at 3:30 AM. The connecting flight we had was at 6:00 AM. We boarded at 9:00 and took off thereafter. We had several snacks and I watched three movies “In Time” with Justine Timberlake, “The Descendant  “with George Clooney , and “J Edgar Hoover “with Leo Decaprio. Played Video game and slept a little during the flight. We had several meals, I do not know if it breakfast, lunch or dinner. We gained another day coming back to the States. When we landed in JFK Airport at 10:00 AM, it was still March 2. Dario, Lydia’s neighbor was waiting for us. He was the one who drove us to the airport when we left for the Philippines. We got to Quezon City by 11:00 AM.

Sunday, March 3

The kid got dental treatments

Ready for my trip back to DC . Henry drove me to the Wantagh, Long Island Rail  8:55 AM for NYC. I caught the 9:13 train and got in the city at 10:15 AM, walked to 42nd street and got the 11:15 Greyhound Bus. Finally. got to DC at 4:00 PM , Subway to Crystal City and  back at home by 5:30.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Young At Art 2011

My Other painting "Scoop Ice Cream"

This is my winning painting”Hats in the Belfry”

            I got a call from Janet Burnett who is the, Executive Director of the Senior Services of Alexandria, co-sponsor of ” Young At Art”. Janet informed me that my three entries to the 25th Anniversary of the Juried Art Show for Artists 55 + got accepted into the Show. Janet congratulated me for ” Hats in the Belfry”, one of my three entries got First Prize.
Last year my painting “Catalina, my mother” won second prize. Janet remembered when I arrived at Durant Art Center via Metro train, wet with my paintings wrapped in plastic because of heavy rain. I called the day before to ask direction on the center’s location. The information I got, the center is 3 blocks from the Metro. As I got out of the Metro it was raining and I was not in the mood to walk in the rain. I waited for the Alexandria Trolley for 15 minutes. As I got in the trolley I asked the driver to Please  let me off at Harvard Street. The trolley went around the Metro parking and straight to King Street, the driver let me off the first stop. Harvard Street is only a couple of streets, about a five minutes walk from the Metro. If I walked, I would have been in the center 20 minutes earlier. I had thought the center is a lot further than it really is. As it turn out the center is only a block away from the Metro which is on Cameron Street, a block parallel from King Street. I discovered that if I sat in the last car of the metro going to King Street, there is an exit closer to Cameron St. The exit had an elevator and stairs exiting closer to Cameron St. Two blocks walk and I am in Durant Art Center.
My friend David Suing drove me to the Opening Reception. There was a good number of people in the center when we got there. In a short time my neighbors Janet and Bret and their daughter Heather came. These neighbors has been following my painting career since my years at Gallery West in Old Town.  They attend all the receptions they are invited to. After looking through the whole show Janet came to me and whispered, “Nilo, your paintings are the best in the show”.It was great to hear Janet’s assessment of the exhibit.
The spread at the reception looked great. There was a big round table in the middle of the hall, with a fruit punch bowl and tin bucket filled with small bottled water. A big shrimp cocktail tray, fruit and vegetable and dip trays, mixed nuts, chocolates, cheeses and crackers  and delicious pastries.
Later in the evening, was the presentations of prizes. Janet Burnett and Jeanne Jacobs, co-sponsors were MC’s of the program. Officers and representatives of the different sponsoring organizations were recognized.  Senior Services of Alexandria, Goodwin House Foundation, Corporate and Individual Foundations were likewise recognized. After distribution of prizes was the group photography. A female reporter/photographer from the Alexandria Gazette Packet took pictures of the winners with their paintings. The evening was very enjoyable.

The End

The Awarding of Prizes

Photograph of the artists in the Show.

Badet's Sari Sari Store, my third entry

View of part of the exhibit

The spread consisted of Shrimp cocktail, veggies, dip, chocolates,etc.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Panama Trip with Family July, 2011

July 16
Our Panama adventure started on Saturday, when Lydia & Henry’s neighbor took us to JFK Airport at 4:00 am for our 7:15 am flight to Miami. We were in Miami by 9:45. In JFK I was pulled over for a body scan, the only one among the 6 of us traveling to Panama. Our connecting flight to Panama was at 12:00 noon, that put us in Panama by 2:50 NY time but Panama is1 hour behind which gave us an extra hour for the day.We stayed at Gamboa Rainforest Resort in the middle of the rainforest 20 mile from Panama City. It took us a long time to find the place even with the GPS that goes with our rental with very little help from local signage.

The Resort is beautiful, from the 2 story high entrance lobby, with all hand carved tables, desk, armoire, mirrors. From the lobby the swimming pool and terrace can be seen from the two-story glass window behind the back walls.  The landscaping of the surrounding area was meticulously handled with luscious flowering plants and trees.
The front of the resort is on the street level and the rooms slopes down on the back, our room was on the first level on the back . We had to take the elevator three levels down and walk down the last level. The first rooms two bedrooms, two baths and adjoining living area. We had a leaky faucet causing flooding in the floor  The plumbers  came and could not fix the problem. We moved to a better set of rooms and got settled until later in the evening. The rooms had three TV’s. One each in the bedrooms and one in the living /dining area. The was no cooking facility, small fridge, just a microwave oven.
There were two King size beds in each room. I shared one bedroom with Lydia & Henry  and Cristina shared the other bedroom with Zeny and Flery. The first night we ate in the restaurant in the building which was very expensive. $25.00 for the the buffet dinner. with salad, soup, dessert and hot meal. We took the only hot meal for $17.50. Our total meal which was a mixture of pasta, and other nondescript dish cost us a total of $120.00 +. To add insult to the cost, every dish was fully loaded with salt, which prevented us from having second helping.

Sunday, July 17
We ordered three breakfast, room service in the morning to share, $ 12.50 each. We drove around the area to see where we can get tickets to ride around the canal. One person in the front desk informed us about a small grocery in the area where the locals get their groceries. The grocery owner informed us  that a neighbor prepare food for the locals. At 8:00 we took a nocturnal tour of the forest around the resort. The tour took an hour although there was not much to see but it was free

Monday  July 18
We had a van pick us up early for a tour of the city. Our first stop was the Panama Canal Miraflores Lock.  We went up the tower where we watched the ship went through the lock. There was an exhibit of the different ships that go through the canal and lots of information about the canal, the environment and flora and fauna that are all over the area.
Our contract for the tour was good for four hours. We continued to the old part of Panama City. The first portion of the city that we saw was appealing. Part of the city was like a war zone with lots of graffiti,  run down roads and dirty falling down walls. Both side of the narrow roads were filled with parked cars. We cannot find any space to park. Our driver stayed in the car while we run inside a couple of old Spanish churches area to take pictures.  Next we drove to the new part of the city which is on the reclaimed  land. That part of the city looked like New York City. With beautiful  new towering buildings. A big contrast between one section of the city against the other. On our way back to the hotel we stopped and went grocery shopping and bought what we needed for the rest of the week. Our total bill, $117.

Tuesday, July 19
The day was spent on a boat trip to Monkey Island. We met with other people while waiting for our boat. There were four siblings  in our boat, a triplet and their sister. Two of the triplets are identical, same egg and the other is from another egg. We had a good conversation with them. The trip brought us to an area with monkeys in the very top of tall trees. We saw tiny alligator, turtle  along the way. When we got to Monkey Island, the Capuchin monkeys came out from the middle of leaves. We were told that the monkeys are not allowed in thr boats like they used to for a number of reasons. There were only a couple of adult monkeys and a baby one that we saw from a distance. The trip took an hour.
In the afternoon, we took the Aerial Tramp, a tour of the rainforest in a metal gondola  thru the top of the trees. At the end of the aerial trip we walked thru the forest to a small clearing where we climb up a metal platform about ten story building high. The good thing about the platform is it is a ramp versus steps. At the top of the platform is a great view of the whole surroundings with the water and land for miles. The trip took us one and half hours.

Wednesday, july 20
We took a motor Banca to Embera where the aboriginal tribes of Panama lives. There are seven tribes in the Island with their elected leaders. The tribe we visited has the first and only female leader. The leader has a term good for five years. As we landed in the island, the reception group greeted us with tribal music. We were lead to a big hut where a group of the reception group were gathered. The leader thru our guide as interpreter explained to us the workings of the tribe. The tribe cannot own the land. Since the land is a park, the tribe cannot hunt or cut any trees. They can only used tress that fell. They cannot plant or hunt animal for food. They can only fish for food. When they are on their own they do not wear clothes. The men wear beaded piece of cloth to cover the front and back of the groin The women wear a colorful wrap around the lower portion of the body and a cover on the breast part covered by jewelry. The men wear metal bracelet and the body is painted with dyes that look like tattoo that wash out.
Each family weave baskets, plates make jewelries using materials from the leaves and other parts of the plants and sea weed. They use natural dyes from local sources as stones, plants and bark of trees. After the questions and answers we were led through the rainforest where our guide showed us the different kind of plants and tress and their use. They do not have electricity.
When we got back to the hut, we were served bananas. The group performed chants, accompanied by pipes and drums. The group started to dance lead by the leader of the tribe and later invited us all to join in the dance. Lydia and the rest of our group bought fabric, masks and jewelries. That was the most enjoyable part of the whole trip. On our way home we stopped by the Albrook Mall and had dinner of fresh grilled fish, baked potatoes and beverages for $6 and $7.

Thursday, July 21
We started early to the next big town of Colon which was an hour drive from our hotel. The place is popular with tourists because of FREE ZONE where everything is tax free. The place id huge with blocks and blocks of shops. Everything is available for sale except most of the merchandize are sold wholesale. Our group bought a dozen blouses in different sizes and color in a store that is closing otherwise everything is sold in volume. The public order lunch in truck vendors and find a spot in the sidewalk to eat their meal. When we got back to our hotel, we went for w dip in the swimming pool.

Friday July 22
There was a tiny bright green frog on our outside door when we woke up in the morning. We all took pictures of the creature and Henry put it in a styrofoam cup and brought it down the ground below our place.
We drove to the SUMMIT< a Zoo, Botanical Garden combination.
The whole place is huge but almost empty. There were few nimal and the cages in the place are mostly empty or under repair. The trees are huge specially the bamboos. which lines canopy like that lead to the bird sanctuary. The building is modern air conditioned . There was a video show that inform visitrors what is available in the area. Eagle is the national bird of Panama and there is one on exhibit in the center. A small room are for sell posters and post cards. We stopped by the Mall for more of the fresh seafood we had earlier in the week. We got groceries and other stuff for our trip backs.

Saturday, July 23
We were out of our hotel and in the airport by 11 am for our 1:05 flight. The Miami airport bathroom was dark, dirty and dingy when we got there by 5:00 pm. We got to JFK airport at midnight . Lydia’s neighbor who drove us to the airport was waiting for us. It was 1:30 am when we reach Lydia’s house.


Writing Helper


Send Trackbacks

Send trackbacks to: 

Canopy of bamboos form the walkway in the Summit

We had fun in the SUMMIT

The view of the back of the hotel from the lobby

Henry joined in the dancing with the leader of the tribe

Part of the group of musicians in the tribe

Lydia doing her thing

The women entertaining us with their dancing

Group of musicians that greeted us when we arrived in the island

In the gondola of the aerial tramp going up the mountain

Zeny and Flery going up the mountain

One of the Capuchin monkeys in Monkey Island

In the boat going to Monkey Island

One of the ships going through the Canal when we got to the Lock

Picture of the sign outside the Lock

Taken in the lobby of Gamboa Rainforest Hotel

The lobby had this leaded floor lamp that looked like Tiffany glass

The lobby had furnishing with great wood carving like this cabinet

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Medical Mission to Dapitan

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

St Patrick’s Day Parade in Savannah, Georgia

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

We had an early start for our tip to Savannah, Georgia. We left the house at 4:45 AM, drove to Vienna ,VA to meet up with other Shillelaghs members. Shillelaghs is a Travel Club we joined recently. The bus was to leave at 6:30 AM but was delayed starting by half an hour. There were 100 members who signed up for the trip and two busloads of moslty seniors. We learned that the club had been around a long, long time. There was a time when these members were much younger proffesionals and the club owned two jets that carry the members to far away destinations. That did not last long because members wanted to go different places and the club could not get enough members to fill up trips. The planes were finally a thing of the past. The club we heard has 2,000 members. We got back our membership fee of $35 a year with the first trip.

We had about 9 hours trip with one restroom stop and another lunch stop in North Carolina, “Crackle Barrel” restaurant at noon. We got to Savannah at 5:00 PM and checked in a Best Western hotel. In our bus we had Frankie as our trip director. Frankie is a colorful , heavy but very capable person. She was there to help anyone that  had any question or need. At about two hours into the trip she came around with a basketful of snacks. fretzels, chocolates, chips and lots of other goodies. After a short while she was serving white  and red wine, Bloody Mary’s and beer. This went on all thru the bus ride. There was also a video on the screen at some time..

There was an invited guest for thr trip. This guy is the groups driver on the clubs trips to Ireland. This Irish driver Ben started as a substitude driver on one trip to Ireland , was so enteretaining and knowledgible about Irish culture that everyone on the trip requested for his services everytime the group goes to Ireland. He told jokes, initiated singing of Irish songs and gave  us a quize game. We learned that Ireland is a favorite trip from members of the club, lots of members had been to the country several times. Since our trip was to attend the St Patrick’s Day Parade which had been attended by members annually, this year’s draw and increase in attendance was to see their favorite Irish driver.

We had an hour rest and at 6:30 we had a late lunch early dinner at “Mrs Wilkes ” Restaurant. The restaurant had been serving Savannah visitors for years until Mrs Wilkes cannot handle it. Her grandkids now run the place, open for lunch but not for dinner unless it is 30 people or more.

Wednesday, March 16th

I had a long rest and woke up at 5:00 AM. We got breakfast in the lobby of the hotel, which was setup with breakfast fare. We were the only ones with a couple other members in the place having an early breakfast.

Our schedule for the day is to go to Tybee Island with a pick up at 9:00 AM.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2011 Medical Mission

January 25 ,Tuesday

I went up to NYC  on Tuesday,  a day ahead of my original plan. I was in Long Island by 2:55 PM , Henry picked me up at the train station. I just stayed in the house and relaxed. January 26 ,Wednesday , just stayed in the house ,relaxed & watched TV the whole day.

January 27 ,Thursday

Woke up at 4:00AM and got ready for our trip to Manila. Henry drove us to the airport at  8:45 AM. We were ahead of the crew of Asiana Airline. Our flight was delayed from  12 :00 to 1:00 to 4:00 PM. The plane was huge , 9 rows accross and about 40 seats from front to back. The first 6 rows were first class, all occupied. There must be 20 attendants in the flight. The flight was 14.5 hour from New York to Incheon, Seoul, Korea. We got to Incheon International Airport at 9:16 PM January 28th. Our connecting flight left at 7:00 PM so we were stuck in Korea. Most of the Missioners were in our flight and since there was a lot of us our group was divided among three hotel near the airport.

Thirteen of us  were assigned to JUNE HOTEL which was very modern. There were two bed, a twin and a king size. The bathroom had up scale appointments like rain shower. The toilet seat had buttons on one side of the seat for different functions we did not know what for , Lydia pushed one button which was for the biddet and water started to gush all over the floor. We had to use the towels to prevent from from flooding.

We met Ronald Wu who was one of the group. Lydia and Ronald went to a store accross the street and bought a phone card to call Texas. They had trouble in using the card they bought and used all the time without getting connected. The guy in the front desk of the hotel let them use the house phone to call Zeny in Texas. Our flight to Manila was at 8:00 AM a 4.5 hours flight.

January 29, Saturday

We got to Ninoy Aquino International Airport at 12:11 AM Philippine time, we got out of the airport at 1:00 PM, Nestor and Ising was waiting for us.Violy’s Company van was already parked somewhere in the parking lot. Since we were late we skipped going to Paranaque and went directly to Baliwag, Bulacan to visit Nestor’s wife’s family. Lunch was waiting for us when we got to Bulacan , large shrimp and oysters and  local dishes. After lunch we drove to Malolos, Barasoin Church, a historic church where the Philippine Constitution was signed. It was  a long drive back home to Cubao. We stopped at SM SuperMart. A huge mall about 6 times the Pentagon Mall in Pentagon City. It was 7:45 by the time we got to Ising’s house.

January 30 Sunday

Nestor and Ising drove with us in a taxi to the airport at 7:00AM. We were checke in by 7:20 AM. There was a P200.00 departure tax. We started boarding at 8:55 and took off at 9:30 and met other missioneries. The flight took one hour . We landed at Dipolog Airport at 10:40. We were welcomed by town officials with two buses waiting for us. We headed to “Kamayan ni Manay” for lunch. The restaurant was fantastic, colorful decoration and the food was native and delicious. By 2:00 PM we were on our way to the Dr Jose Rizal Memorial Hospital for a short look at the facility. The Medical staff checked the whole facility, the ER and other areas to see what is available and what they need.

We checked in at the Pavillion Hotel. The place is big but out of date. The room we got was horrible. The counter of the tables and shelve’s top was peeling off, the toilet has no seat and the window drapes were not hanging well on the window. We asked for another room but there was nothing available in the building. We got transfered to “Alexandra by the Sea” which is a block away. Alexandra by the Sea has a large mansion and a low building on the side of the lot with rows of 15 rooms. The buildings are new. Word is they were built for the mission since there are no other building that could accomodate our number. A few of the missionaries were staying in the mansion where other activities were held, like the mass before dinner and dance after dinner. Our room was cold and no hot water until our last day.

At 5:30 PM the bus took us to “Dampa” a floating restaurant on a river. There was a program where the town officials welcomed everyone. A guitar player performed some native music. Later on there was some audience participation. People in the audience who knew the songs all joined in. Everyone seemed to have had a great time.

January 31 Monday

The first day of the mission. The room we had is great looking, There was no hot water in our room since they are still tweecking the little things about the building, unfortunately the hot water in our room was one of the things still needed correcting.

The owner of Alexandra by the Sea, Judith Fajaro, jewelry, fashion  designer built the mansion for her mother. It is huge, beutiful, well decorated. When we arrived that first evening for dinner, one of the volunteers Nito Ramos introduced me to Judith as an artist. She asked me to join her in a table she was occupying and we talked art. She pointed to me the collection of Philippine arts she had in the living room. Almost all the arts she had were from her family, very valuable collection that she to add on thru the years. She is a great hostess.

Breakfast was at Pavillion Hotel where the others were staying. Breakfast is buffet style, lots of native stuff, fried rice , sausages, tosino, etc.The bus took us to Dapitan City Cultural and Sports Center.

I was asigned to the Humanitarian Team.  The tean was responsible for the arrangement of the Center, Partitions, arranged the tables, chairs, water coolers , fans, signage, etc. My group packed bags of rice, caned sardines, noodles, clothes, books & magazines. The bags are distributed to patients after they had their treatment. I also took lots of pictures all around since Princess asked before the mission if I would be “offical” photographer.

Dinner that evening was at Alexandra by the Sea. There was mass in the Veranda of the building. After the mass, a buffet dinner outside under a huge tent. Most everyone went in the house, veranda and a few sat outside under a big tent. A band entertained while we had dinner. Later, a group of dancers started the dance and invited everyone to join in.

February 1, Tuesday

At breakfast Dr. Ismael A. Holipas, JR. president of the Medical Association and host of the Mission spoke about the agenda for the day. I joined the OR Group for the day. I observed operations and took pictures. There wa a hernia operation, Repair of Ovary, Cataract, Lumps and bumps , etc. I was done by 10:00 AM and just hanged around for a while. Dr. Fred Denaire invited me to observe as he operated to take out a ceast from the back of a 2 years old girl. After the operation he took me to another operating room where they perform lumps and bumps. He took out a lumps from a woman’s back shoulder, as big as an apple.

Dinner was at Alexandra by the Sea’s other structure accross the street from the mansion. The building was built specifically as a party place. A one level concrete place  was decorated by Judith, the owner, the same materials used in the Veranda the night  before but used in another way.

A Religious Deakon spoke some inspirational personal experiences. After dinner dance started. Lydia worked until late and was very tired, she did not attend dinner but slept early.

February 2, Wednesday

I woke up at 1:00 AM and could not get back to sleep. By 5:00 AM I decided to exercise and took a shower, unfortunately there was no hot water again. I joined back the Humanitarian Team packing rice, sardines etc. At lunch time the activities in the Center quited down a little, I walked around the neighborhood and took some pictures. An old church was accross a park, St James church was originally constructed in 1871, complited before thhe turn of the century with people of Dapitan  rendering voluntary labor and supplies free local materials. Repaired and renovated in 1904. Repaired and renovated in 1964. Later in the day, three boxes of prescription eye glasses came. We distributed the stuff until 4:30.

Lydia and the OR Team worked until 7:00. Dinner was at the Hotel Pavilion, That was the final day in the mission with a closing program.   The Dapitan Dance Group performed Polynesian dances after dinner.

February 3, Thursday

After the mission we headed to Dipolog, Dapitan City Tour. Our first stop was the Montana Food Corp. a Sardine Factory. Missioneries got crazy bying Pasalubong to folks back home. The whole bus load of us all decended on the store and crowded the couter to pay for purchases before the time was up. Surprisingly the store was very efficient in processing the orders, packing the items ready taking.

Our next stop was the Estate of Dr Jose Rizal. The estate is huge with beautiful vegetation. There were replicas of the different huts where Dr Rizal lived and worked. The replica of the house where he lived had a small wood bed displaying Dr Rizal’s picture. A hut was the hospital and another ,a kitchen, etc. At the entrance is a blue painted building , the museum with display of photographs and artifacts of Dr Rizal and others of the time. From the estate the view of the water was just breathtaking. The islands beyong was awesome, dotted by huts and lust vegetation.

From the estate of Dr Rizal was a long bus ride to DAKAK Beach Resort. Dakaaaak is a mountaing Resort where the duplex structures are built along the Mountain side.In our room are two beds, one sinle and one double.There is a sitting area, with wicker furnishing, Chairs, table & cabinet. The whole room and bathroom is covered with woven mats.The bathroom is large with a dressing area,shelves and a small fridge.One coener has a shower stall and one with the toilet. Both compartments had draperies. Fresh flowers are all over the room. There is a veranda in the front of the place. We were driven to the building by way of the road that wind up the mountain and from the front veranda is the view of the whole resort down below. We did not want to call for the car to take us down the beach and other facilities of the resorth, we just walked down the path down to the beach, restaurant, pool, bowling alley ,etc.  It rained the whole day and when the rain let off I hiked up the hill by the backway and came upon a tiny chapel at the top of the hill. It was a cute chapel with open doors along the side that allows for good ventilation. There is a mural of Christ at the back altar. The chapel was a nice sanctuary to rest and meditate for a while and enjoy greenery of the surrounding. Dinner was at the Pavilion, buffet style and after dinner was dancing. I am not much for dancing these days so I just sat it out.

Friday February 4

I woke up early and could not get back to sleep. I had planned to take an early walk along the beach and watch the sunrise and shoot some pictures but it was raining.I walked down to the beach when the rain let up and was able to take some pictures. Went back to the Pavilion for buffet breakfast. It rained off annd on ,I just walked around while Lydia stayed and rested in the room. Lunch was at the Convention Center.walked around some more til I learned about the bowling alley. I was the only one in the place, played one game, did very badly. A few huts away I saw a group plying mahjong, the president of the Asso. and his wife was visiting. I stopped by and watched for a while and got back to our room. Lydia was up and ready to go to the pool with one of our gruop. I joined them but chills after my first dip that I  had to give up. Dinner was at 6:30 PM. After dinner the Dapitan Dance Group that performed in the other place gave another prefornace of native dances.From the dancers performed indiginous dances from  the northern provinces to the muslim provinces in Midanao. As usual there was dancing after dinner. I walked back and had an early night.

Saturday, February 5

Brakfast was at 6:30 after wich we started to pack our things for our trip back to Manila. people were leaving at different time for different destinations. We left the hotel at 8:30 AM in a bus with the others who were going back to Manila in the same flifgt flight. We were cheched in by 10:330 and waited for flight 168 but did not board until 12:30 which was later than our 11:00 AM schedule.

When we landed in the Domestic Terminal in Manila, Nestor and Ising were waiting for us. It was 2:00 PM and it was decided that we go directly to Las Pinas which is closer to the airport to see relatives and forgo the other plans for lack of time. My sis ter Baby was visiting from Australia was in Las Pinas for her 80th birthday on January 3rd. All of baby’s children who live in Autralia went to the Philippines for the birthday party We had a nice reunion Ising, Baby and myself. We had a nice visit with the rest of the family.

We then went to Cubao to Ising’s house.I rested a short while and Isings grandchildren, Rico’s kids came to visit with their other grandparents. Nestor ordered pizza and spaghety from a fast food restaurant nearby.

Sunday, February 6

Woke up at 4:30 AM and got ready for our trip to Palawan.We got to the air port at 6:15 with Nestor Ising Lydia and me Princess and Tita joined us for this trip..We landed at Puerto Princesa, Palawan at 9:15 with a pick up from Ysabelle mansion.The place is in one level with beautifully aponted entrance landscapings. All the rooms are along the outside of the property with the center as a courtyard garden.The place is fairly new and very clean.The restaurant is in one end of the property where the other rooms were located.The couple that owned the place work in the place. The husband drive the van that picked us up in the airport and the wife run the front with other help. The wife suggested places to go to and the husband drove us to the market place and jewelry place.

Outside the hotel are a couple of tricycle. The driver of one of the tricycle helped carry our luggages when we arrived and would not take a tip. So we contracted the guy to take us a. I asked about the Houses over the water which the hotel owner told me are being demolished.  The driver stopped in the barong barong and asked me to follow him. I did and we went right in the middle of the place. The walkway are planls of wood over the water. The houses if you can called houses are made of anything they find around as the walls and floor of their houses. I took pictures as we went thru the place. my guide kept pointing to me spots to take pictures of. People we passed by looked curious but did not say much. I saw some kids playing and did not pay us any attention. A group of older women asked what I was taking pictures of. My guide told them I am taking pictures to see How I hepl them. One woman mentioned something, suggestion what help they need. Men working on a roofing with nipa sheets went on with what they were doing and just say hello. When we got out of the place we were about a block away from where we started. Ising and Lydia started to scold me about getting in the slum. They said they were so affraid I may not come out of the place.

We proceeded to “Badjao Restaurant”  a seafood place. We were told that it is one of the two best restaurant in the city. There is a bamboo walkway to the entrance which is about 20 ft to the restaurant which is over the water. The place is beautifully a designed place with furnishings made of native materials.  The food is delicious and very native as well. The walls of the  restaurant is open with big wide windows and the view is just awesome.The water is all over below us and there are big trees all over the water. We were all very happy when we got out of the place.

It was raining and we were late in coming back, our tour guide was waiting for us. Fritz, our tour guide for the tour we signed up for is a cute, sexy, young guy. He looked like a high school student but he is 22 yeras old college graduate. He on time and had umbrellas for our protection from the rain. Fritz also had dinner with him which was in  included in the tour. We went to the Wildlife Crocodile Farm. The farm is huge with concrete tanks of varying sizes. We started with the baby crocodile to the bigger onesone section of the farm. There were several baby crocodeles in the tanks in the covered area of the farm. On the other side of the farm the huge tanks have no cover. The grown crocodiles are huge some are 10 ft long and with huge stomach. The big one are solo or double in the concrete tanks which are about 15 x 15 ft square. There is a small shop with souvenir items on sale, a sign saying crocodile meat available. Lydia bought some meat which she had the restaurant prepared in the restaurant where we were staying. Princess and Tita who joined us in the tour would not try.

There is a small building they called museum does not have much stuff on display. In the entrance hall is a huge display case , about 4 ft high 4 ft wide and 20 ft long, in it is a skeleton of a crocodile which was supposed to have been caught in the area. The tale is it died when it ate a farmer. On the wall behind the case is the carcas of a crocodile spread out which is as long as the display case below. That was the most interesting part of the display in the building. The yards around the property is occupied with birds and other animals and flowering plants.

Our next stop in the tour is the Iwahig Prison and Penal Place. It is in the middle of a rice field. There are no fence in the low maximum security There is a gift shop selling items created by the inmates. There was only one building we visited which did not take long to do.

On our way back we stoped at a home of a politician. The house is big on top of a hill overlooking the whole area below. The house is close but people come anyway and enjoy the view around the house. We proceeded to Bakers Hill, an ammucement place, a tourist trap with small buildings selling souveneer, food concessions and a large building where the owners live. On the back is a huge garden with all sorts of plants arranged in groups with anusual stagings. A large inventory of Bonsai trees and orchids. There is a kitchie figure of Marilyn Monroe in provocative pose under a lamp post in bright red dress.

Monday, February 7

Zeny made a wakeup call at 7:00 AM to say that she called and talk to Jim. Our tour Guide Fritz Came after breakfast. We started for the Underground River at 7:00 AM.It was a two hour trip but we stopped at a gift shop on a hillside. There was a viewing spot at the top of the building. We bought some stuff, I got a baseball cap and a T-Shirt.

We got to the River which was unbelievably beautiful from the outside. Throngs of people in ornage vests were waiting for their turn to load up in boats that will take them inside the Underground River. We learned that the Underground River is competing for the first place for the 7th Natural Wonder of the World.  Currently the River is 2nd to the Amazon River but there is a push to get to number one. I recieved a clipping from a newspaper that the Philippine president visited the place and was urging the populos to vote via internet to get to first place. I hope the people do vote as internet use among the young is out of this world.

The boats that take people inside are of different sizes- fron 6 t0 20 passengers load. There were 6 in our group so we got a boat to ourselves. The man that operated the boat was also our local tour guide. Fritz is excluded in the trip and had to wait for us ouside the cave. Nestor had to sit at the front of the boat to hold the spotlight and point it to walls as directed by the guide. There is total darkness inside the cave. The only light available was the spotlight. The view that was visible was incredible. One just had to be amazed at the creator for the wonder that is inside the place. Our guide kept suggesting for us to use our imagination to enjoy the sights. There are groupngs of images on the wall, faces , giant mushroom and other wonderful images once one got accutom to the dark. The tour took a good one hour.

We were back in town by 4:00 PMand made another stop at the jewelry shop where we at the day before. Princess and Tita bought a number of jewelry, pearl necklace and bracelets and earrings mostly. We stayed and had dinner in the hotel.

Tuesday February 8

The plan for the day was a day’s adventure of Island Hopping. We began with BAT Island on Honda Bay which face on to the Sulu Sea. We were the only ones in a boat with Fritz our guide and crew of two. The island was not memorable but we mainly stayed in the water and tried snorkling. So far that was the most I had to really see through the water and observe the fish and ciral which was really exciting.

Our next stop was the Snake Island where we had lunch.Fritz brought all the food and equipment to prepare them.He cut up red eggs, onions, tomatoes and added soy sauce for dipping cause to roast pork, shrimp, grilled fish and eggplant and rice. Along the beach are huts with tables and grilling equipment. The place was crowded with people playong beach vallyball and snorkling and just getting a tan. Lydia bought fresh Sea Urchins and we tried eating them with the spines of the sea urchin still moving. The beach is mostly for prepaing and eating lunce. There are no bathroom facility or shower.

We proceeded to the next Iiisland which is Panda Island. Thia island had huts where pwople can rest and had huts with shower and bathroom facility. There are tables to sit around while enjoing the ice cream and halo halo available in the snack stand. We were back in our hotel by 5:00 PM.

At 8:00 Pm we were at KA LUI, a native restaurant with native food and decor We heard that KA LUI is the top restaurant in the City. Looking aroune the place , it seemed justified to say it is top. But the fiid did it for us. The food is fantstic in taste and presentation. As we entered ,we had to take off our shoes and placed it in assigned drawers. The booth we had had low pillows as seat. The whole place was decorated with local crfts and paintings. There were interior gardens with flowering colorful bushes, trees decorated with lights and hanging crafts. At the back of the place is an art gallery and a gift shop. Our dinner  fare included large shrimps, sea weeds, and stingrays and interesting and colorful drinks. We were back at our hotel by 10:30 PM.

Wednesday, February 9

We got ready for our trip home but we had to do someting dyring the day. We had a car to take us to the Plawan Natural History Museum. The Museum had a wonderful collection of artifacts as early as the Chinese Traders . The collection include potteries, weavings, jewejry, wood carving. When we were finished,there was a jewelry vendor in the lobby of the museum. Lydia, Princess and Tita all bought some jewelry.  We walked to the Immaculate Conception Cathedral. It was a long walk but when we got to the Cathedral, I realized I had been to the cathedral before when I walked around while we were looking for a place ,it was raining and I walked around to take a picture of the front of the cathedral and took a past peek at the cathedral.

We walked accross the street to Plaza Chartel. The park is historic in that 147 American Prisoners of War in Worled War Ii died in the location where a Memorial Marker was erected. We had lunch at Wanton King, a local favorite fast Chinese food chain. The dried fish market was our next stop to get more dried fish and f=dried fruitlike mangos and pineapple.

We left for the airport at 3:00 PM. The plane left at 6:30 and landed in Manila, 7:30 Stopped at Jollibee, another local fast food favorite specially for fried chicken and astrong competition of MsDonald.

Thrsday February 10

We were packed ready for our trip back to NYC. Frocy came at 11:00 AM from Las Pinas to drive us to the airport. Meanwhile he drove us to MS Mega Mall for a little shopping. We had hair cut,hair color, manicure and pedicure. The whole woorks came to a total of an eqivallent of $40.00 including tip, not bad. The Malls in Manila is huge. I understand that the particular mall we visited is one of the largest i Asis. It is so huge that it will probably take a whole week to see the mall just by going around and not shopping.

Back in Cubao, Ising’s place, her grand children came at dinnertime to say goodbye. Nestor ordered dinner, pizza and chicken at a fast food restaurant nearby. Frocy drove us to the airport. Since we had plenty of time hw went through Manila, along Dewey Blvd,thru the redeveloped and reclaimed waterside lands.We got to the airport at 8:00 PM ,still too early for our flight. The ticket counters of the airline was not even open, it opened at 10 PM. Our flight took offat 12:15 and landed in Incheom ,Seoul Korea at 3:40 AM , our conncting flight was for 1110 AM we had a long wait.

Friday February 11

Manila to Seoul flight 07 boarded at 11:40 and took off at 12:30  AM, Seoul to NYC departed at 10AM breakfast. 11.5 hours of flight arrived in NYC at 10 AM. Henry was waiting for us at the airport. Stopped at KFC for chickenslept after lunch from1:30 to 4:30. After dinner went to bed at 9:00 PM

Saturday ,February 12

Henry took me to the Long Island Rail station in Wantagh for my 10:45 trip to Manhatan.  My trip back to DC was uneventful. took the metro from Union station to Pentagon City and took a cab for home ,arriving at home by 6:30 PM


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Achievement Award

Saturday, December 4th was the Quadricentenial Celebration of the Anniversary of the Pontifical and Royal Univercity of Santo Tomas, the  oldest existing Univercity in Asia. The affair was sponsored by the USTAAA, Univercity of Santo Tomas Alumni Association in America, held at the Double Three Hotel in Crystal City, Arlington, VA

I  received an email November 12 from someone I did not know informing me that I was being nominated for Achievement Award by the Alumni Association in America. I was a little skeptical at first since I did not know much about the organization. I had a chance years ago during the Philippine Festival to join some members of the association during the parade in Washington DC quite by accident. I was on the parade route watching the parade when I heard Dennis Ocampo called me to join them in the parade. The banner at the start of the group was UST Alumni Association. After the parade I went on my way and forgot about the event.

Dennis and Mitch Ocampo are Galo Ocampo’s sons. Galo Ocampo is a very prominent artist and citizen of the Philippines. He worked as adviser to General Carlos Romulo when General Romulo was Secretary General of the General Assembly of the United Nation, New York. Galo Ocampo was one of my favorite proffesor at the univercity.  I loved design and he was impressed with my work and he encouraged me in my studies. One time Galo Ocampo met my uncle while my uncle was working on his Doctor of Canonization studies in Rome, Italy. As fate would have it my uncle learned that I was studying under Galo Ocampo at Santo Tomas. They visited often while Galo was in Rome and when Galo went back to Manila he carried with him an oil painting set and a palete knife from my uncle. The pallete knif was one of the few things I took with me when I went to the States which I  treasured to this day.

Tony Austria was president and I was vice president of our class in college. We visited Proffesor Ocampo at his home in Mandaluyong after our graduation from college. Tony Austria was one of two classmates who became  a famous  artist in the Philippine. Tony became well known for his childlike painting style. His solo shows were sold out. He earned him profesorship at the Univercity of Santo Tomas,  Fine Arts. Tony was the only non-family member I met with in two of my visits to the Philippines. The last time I met Tony he took me on a tour of the numerous Art Galleries in Manila. We attended  an opening reception of Malang, a well known cartoonist /artist where I met a few well known artists of the time none of whom I knew

Another classmate of mine who did well was Ang Kio Kok. While still in school, Ang had been winning all sorts of prizes in competitions and had lots of commissions. Ang did not attend full course in school, he only attended painting classes. He went on to great fame, and his paintings were greatly collected in Asia. A number of coffee table books of his paintings have been published. Ang was declared a national artist of the Philippines.

Going back to the Alumni Association Ball, Amy Quinto was the person who emailed me and asked me to consider attending the Quadricentanial Ball. I believe Amy was the person who nominated me for the award. Amy is an alumni of Fine Arts and one of the officers of the association. In her email, Amy introduced herself and said that she was in attendance at my last solo show reception in Georgetown in Washingto,DC . She urged me to accept the invitation since very few artist are nominated  and receive the award from  Fine Arts compared to the number of nominees in the medical proffesion.

I was a little skeptical when I first received the email so I called Grace Valera who was one of the names listed as contact in the invitation. Grace used to be with the cultural office at the Philippine Embassy . I had workd with Grace with my exhibits on several occasions  in the Philippines Embassy and elsewhere. I wanted to check the ligitimacy of the Award. Grace assured me that the whole thing is in the up and up. She assured me also that I am up for the award and they have all the information they needed about me. She said that all I need to do is attend the Ball. She suggested that maybe I should exhibit a few of my paintings during the ball. I did not think it is a good idea to have an exhibit during the ball. Based on my experience in the pass, most people who attend these balls are there to be seen and are not interested in looking at exhibit.

The Ball was on Dec 4th,  5:00 – 10:30 PM at the Double Three Hotel in Crystal City, Arlington. It was an incentive for me to attend since it was in my neighborhood and I only walked to the hotel. I left the house at 4:45 PM and got to the Hotel a few minutes after 5:00 PM. The place was still empty except for the organizers and people connected with the Ball. I looked for Grace and asked why the place was still deserted. Grace said that actually the ball start at 5:30. Having lived too long in the States and attend very few Philippine functions, I have forgotten about Philippine tradition concerning parties and gatherings. There is a thing called Philippine time. Everyone come an hour or more late to make dramatic entrance at parties. Since I came to the States I have been punctual in  every appointment I have. Coming to this affair brought back memories of Filipino tardiness. People did not start coming until 7:00 PM. Had I remembered the problem about punctuality I could have rested for a couple of hours instead of dying of boredom waiting for the party to start.

I have my seat assignment at table 12, a front table to the dance floor. The table was set up early with salad, with the lettuce getting wilted every minute. A table at the entrance had munchies, potato chips, pork rinde, pretzels and some Philippine delicasy called espasol. Espasol is made of flour mixed with sugar, molded dry about 1 inch X 2 inch X 1 inch thick, oval , wrapped in tissue paper. In the Philippines some of the wrappers are very fancy cutouts designs, colorful tails at one end of the wrapping. When we were young we used to take a bite on the espasol and try to whistle, the flour come out of the mouth like dust and young kids had a lot of fun with it. A number of people came hungry and finished off the munchies at the entrance table.

Finally by 7:30 the program started. The MC asked everyone to take their seat. People were so hungry they started on the salad which was lettuce with crabled blue cheese, walnuts and vinegary dressing. Not very creative or interesting for a well known  hotel chain. The MC called the attention of everyone that a  preist had to have the invocation before meal. There was an uproar, a lot of people were embarassed about starting eating before the invocation. The main course was chicken breast with mushroom sauce, roast potatos and asparagus. The dinner was very bland,  it is something like the food I prepare at home. I try to avoid salt or soy sause when I cook but I did not expect bland food from a chain hotel. Dessert was bread fudding and a 3 inch diameter non- descript thing, white floury stuff on  graham cracker- like bottom. I was expecting a little more tastety meal than what we got for $60.00.

There were speeches from guests with Ambassador Gaa giving the keynote speech before the awarding of prizes. Raffle prizes were distributed during the program and extra raffle tickets were sold during the proceedings for a round trip ticket to the Philippines. There were dance performances by groups from the community organizations and schools , a song rendered by Miss Tean Philippines. The Homecoming Queen who is a recent Fine Arts graduate from Santo Tomas helped with the program. The Queen is very beautiful in a great looking Filipina dress for most of the evening . Later on she changed to another good looking outfit for the award ceremony.

In between the awards and program there were dancing to DJ music. Filipinos are nuts about Ballroom and all kinds of dancing. They would go to any affairs that has dancing and the Filipinos, I am very proud to say are great dancers. Give us a little music and watch us go for it. I myself enjoyed a lot of wild dancing parties in my younger days,  from folk dancing to all sorts of new dance craze. I left the hotel at 10:30 and headed for home. Quite an interesting and enjoyable evening was enjoyed by everyone.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Our First Guests in Our New Kitchen


Saturday, November 20

Jim’s Family came for lunch and had a look at  our new Kitchen. We have not had any company in a very, very long time. With the new kitchen we can now return invitations we received through the years. We invited Jim’s brother Ed, his wife Sylvia, son Jimmy and wife Michelle who just had a baby boy, Ryan. David, youngest of three sons of Ed, David’s wife Cristen and their son Declan. The eldest son, Ed and his wife Denise, daughters Isabel and Alexis could not make it since Alexis has a socker game that weekend. We hope they can make it on  our next scheduled Open House in December.

For lunch on Saturday we had most of the food catered by Evelyn Bunuan, owner of Philippine Oriental Restaurant on Lee Highway in Arlington. Evelyn studied in Fontainebleau, Culinary School in Paris, France. She prepares all kinds of food and does a lot of catering. At this luncheon Jim wanted to serve Philippine food to his family since they have no idea what Philippine food is like.

Evelyn prepared 1) Chicken Adobo, a chicken prepared with soy sauce, vinega, garlic, bay leaves , black pepper. 2) Eggplant stuffed with ground beef. 3) Menudo, closest to American beef stew with more vegetables than the American version, 4) Chop Suey  and 5) Spring rolls. For dessert, Evelyn  also prepared Flan, a Philippine version of custard with thicker consistency, sliced like cake and served with a syrup-like sauce drizzled over it.

I prepared Pansit, a Philippine favorite with chicken and sausage , vegetables and rice noodles. I also prepared fried rice with bacon , sausage, chicken and vegetables. Everyone loved our new kitchen which is bright, open, with skylight on the high ceiling. They also like the wood floor, stainless appliances and granit counter tops. Evelyn prepared a lot extra food we had to send guests with take home food.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Air Force Art Program-Trip to Wright-Patterson AFB Dayton, OH

Wednesday, October 20 , 2010

I left the house at 6:00 AM , walked to Crystal City Metro, took the subway for Union Station to catch the Mark Train for Baltimore Washington  Airport. My flight at 10:34 AM, Air Tran Airways Flight 0633 for Dayton started boarding at 10:00 AM. The plane was half full. My seat was 2 rows on back of first class seats. There were 12 seats in 1st class with only 5 passengers. The flight was one hour and twelve minutes .

Entrance to the Museum

When we landed in Dayton Airport, I called Greg Thompson’s number for transport to the base but got a wrong number. Greg is the person in charge of travel for artists participating in the Arts Program. Greg had been with the Art Program since his days with the Air Force as active military. He was assisting Bob Limbtick when Bob was Director of the Art Program.  When he got out of active duty , he continued on his position as a civilian employee. I tried Elsy Morataya’s number and spoke with her about my ride to the base. Elsy is assisting Greg with the program. She is from Columbia, South America, a very competente person for the job as contact for the Art Program. She said her husband will pick me up outside, in front of baggage claim at the airport. She described her husband & what he was wearing, his name is Andy. I was not expecting Andy to show up a short while after. Andy is  5′ 6″ with heavy built , he wore a tan photographer’s vest, 4 pockets in front to hold photo equipments. Andy approached me and asked if I am Nilo. As it turned out he was in a flight from DC about 30 minutes ahead of my flight.

Andy works for  Air Force Photo which Ron Hall used to head. Ron was very helpful to me during my work days in the Pentagon. He took lots of pictures of me and my paintings during the past Presentations and gave me tons of films for my travels for the Air Force. At my retirement party, Ron and his office gave me a great framed picture of Washington at night. Every time Ron visited the our office which is not very often he sneak and take a picture of me painting in my office.

The reason for my flight to Dayton was to attend the bi annual “Art Program Presentation Celebrating the 60 Years of Contributing Aviation Art to the US Air Force and Honoring the Talented Men & Women Who Made it Happen “. The central purpose behind the program was to document the “Air Force story – with sponsorship of artists trip to Air Force installations to cover activities and events – was a natural extension of Air Force public relations program effort to tell the story through news media representatives, books, magazines, special public exhibits, trips and briefing for important community/opinion leaders.

Planes in different stages of restoration

The US Air Force invited civilian artists, members of Societies of Illustrators, New York and others , sent them on official sponsored trips to Air Force installations all over the world. Artworks produced from official sponsored trips are “donated” to the US Air Force – usually as outright “gift” to the Government – accepted on behalf of a grateful nation and Air Force by the Secretary of the Air Force. Societies review works of their members before offering them as gifts. The formal presentation of artworks took on all the glamour of a New York Society art show, as the Societies hosted a formal  “Art Presentation” every even years to unveil and exhibit the works to be donated to the services.

Since I started work for Air Force Graphics I have been invited to the Art Presentations, first as an independent artists. Eventually,  I was juried into the Society of Illustrators , New York. The Art Presentation has always been held at Andrews Air Force in Washington, DC. This 60th Anniversary of the Art Program was the first time it was held outside  Washington, DC.

Nilo in front of "Memphis Belle"

Andy Morataya drove to Wrighr Patterson Air Force Base from the airport and we met Elsy his wife who took me to meet and say hello to Rusty Kirk who is now director of the AF Art Program. I knew Rusty forever. Rusty was in active duty in the Air Force Information Service and wrote the unit’s newsletter. He shared a small cubicle with writer in our office at Air Force Graphics and at times helped edit works by our writers. Rusty started helping Bob Limbrick who was then Director of the Air Force Art Program. When Rusty got out of the service Bob took him in the job as a civilian employee. When Bob retired he got the job and went up the ranks.

Elsy gave me a tour of the Museum and the exhibit they are still getting ready for the Presentations. The Air Force Museum is a realy huge place. There are three big hangars in the front and one hangar on the back. I was told that a fourth hanger is going to be added to the existing facilities for more exhibit space. The exhibit is divided in three parts for lack of space to accomodate the 298 paintings in the exhibit in one space. Rusty and the group drove two trucks plus some artworks shipped earlier and they have been in Dayton a week working on the exhibit.

We hang around the Museum and later Elsy and Andy drove me to billeting to get to my room. I wa assigned the front building where the rest of the memmbers of the staff and VIP’s were staying. There were two other buildings in the back where the others artists occupied. The buildings are brick, 5 stories high with a lobby where everybody congregate for pick up before any activities . Our building is nearest to Billeting. The room cost a whapping $39.00 a night. It has a large sitting area with large TV, bath with a shower, a hallway with small fridge and microwave oven. The large bedroom had a king size bed, a large flat TV and closet with ironing board, flat iron . The large window on one side of the bedroom faced a park and parking lot. It was 3:00PM when we finished at billeting and had a little free time. Elsy called at 4:30 to say that people will meet at the lobby at 6:30 t0 go to dinner.

One of the Presidential planes in the Gallery

At the lobby at 6:30 were a few artists from everywhere. There were about 15 people in two buses , one driven by Rusty and the other by Greg. We drove outside the base where the group had been going to in the last few days. The food is good, big portions and reasonably priced. It was a nice group that met that evening. All seemed to have a great chat and got to know each other. The group disbanded at 10:00 PM, I left a wake up call before going to bed.

Thursday, October 21

Rusty picked us up at 6:45 AM. There were 9 of us. We had breakfast in a place in a shopping mall outsidr the base. We were back in the Museum by 8:00 and waited for the bus that took us up to the Restoration Building. There were about 20 of us by this time and we were divided into 3 groups. Each group had a tour guide wearing  blue vest covered with pins collected from Air Force groups who visited the shop. I was glad to see they made use of those pins which I have lots of mysel.

The Restoration Building is filled with Planes in different stages of restoration. The planes are brought back to life for display in different exhibit at Air Force Instalations all over the world. Planes are taken apart, put back together, with missing parts replaced or parts are made to the exact spacifications as the originals. The planes were restored as close to the real thing although they are not for flying but for exhibition,

One of the planes on display in the Museum

Our next stop was the Presidentail Planes Gallery. It housed the presidential planes  and other planes in the Air Force invenoiry. The hangars where the planes are displayed is huge. There are four presidentail planes in the building.  President Franklin Delano Roosvelt’s plane with an elevator for access to the wheele chair that the president used. All the planes were modified for exhibit. Lucite sheets were used all over the plane as corridors so the public can see the whole plane without touching anything. Too bad for people who are clousetuphobic since the corridors are very narrow fit for one person. There is only one way from the entrance to the exhit. We made a mistake of entering the wrong way, we had to turn around and exit the plane. The next plane I visited was the Independence, Harry Truman’s plane and the plane that President Kennedy used and President Lyndon Johnson was sworn in. The last presidential plane I visited I cannot even remember which president used it.

We were back in the Museum and hang around until 2:00 PM. I finally  got a ride back to to the Inn from the head of the Chicago group . We had a stop at the B-Ex where the group went shopping. They gave me a chance to get something to eat at Burger King. Got back to the inn and rested.

At 4:30 PM  I walked to Billeting to ask information about the Officers Club. On the way I met Greg who told me the Officers Club is about 5 to 10 minutes walk. The clerk in Billeting asked if I am driving and was shocked to learn I planned to walk to the Officrs Club. She informed me that they have a shuttle to take me if I dialed O in the phone. When I got out of the building I heard a white Van honking at me. The driver who looked and talk like a Pakistani or Hindu asked if I want to go to the Club.  Even though it is only 4:30 I took the shuttle. The place is really a long 15  to 20 minutes walk. When I got to the club they are having a military gathering and guests were starting to arrive. I walked to the basement of the building where I was told a sports bar is located but the sports  bar was closed.  I started to walk back to billeting when the shuttle came to give me a ride to another sports bar called Packy’s Sports Bar.

While I was having my salmon sandwitch, a guy came and asked me if I am an artist with the Arts Program. I asked him how he knew I was in the bar he told me the driver of the shuttle bus told him there is another artist he drove to the bar. The guy’s name is Jim Balletto, an artist from Georgia who is also attending the Art Presentation. We had a  great conversation until 7:00 PM when we called the shuttle to take us back to the Inn. When I got back to my room I called Susan Linders, my former supervisor and had a short talk with her and got information on who are attending the Presentations. I stayed in the room and watched TV

Friday, October 22

I called Jim Balletto as we agreed to have breakfast together. While I waited for Jim in the lobby some other artists came. We all walked accross the street to the Hospital where they have a cafeteria. There were 7 of us who found the place in the basement of the hospital. The hospital food is good and very inexpensive. I had scrambled eggs, sausage patty, coffee for $2.60. We had to rush our breakfast as the cafeteria closed at 9:00 AM. Went back to my room and rested.

Nilo & Kim Ragdale in matching color outfit

At 6:30 we all met at the lobby of our building to take the bus to the Museum for the BIG event. Everyone looked great, the men in tuxedo and the women in formal gowns. Kim Ragdale, an artist from Oregon came in a torquise satin gown that is draped nicely on her figure. The color of her gown matched perfectly  my bow tie and comberband which is black with swhirles of torquise design. Everybody were surprised about the match. I brought a solid black bow tie and comberbine to use for the occation. I like a bow tie that I can tie versus the one that is already tied.  It had been a while since I used a bow tie that it became a problem for me to tie the bow tie properly. After trying it several times I was so frustrated that I used the spare one I brought along for a back up, a black with torquise swihirley design already tied. I had that particular bow tie and cumberband  for years. I like the material but hated that the bow tie was pre-tied. I used the cumberband before with a torquise bolo tie with a huge torquise stone. Kim Ragsdale and I,  were a hit with the crowd because my bow tie and cumberband match Kim’s torquise colored gown perfectly.

There was a big crowd in the Museum when we got there. Everyone praising each other on how they looked. Susan Linders my supervisor at work was in a basic black dress and came with Adan Caraballo, one of the guys at Air Force graphics shs had been going out with. Tom Seagars, a good artist that got part of my job when I retired came alone, his Filipina wife did not want to attend this time. Lori Dawson , another artists who got the other opart of my job was with her husband. On my table was Harrison Benton and his wife. Benton was a supervisor in one of the smaller art shops in the Air Force. I have not seen Benton for so long after he retired. The last time I saw Benton he mentioned that he was going to divinity school. Benton is a very nice guy. He, together with Alice Price pass Derector of the Arts Program sponsord me to the Society of Illustrators, New York. He had always admired my work and visited me a lot to see my work when we were both still working.

A group of female artists from the midwest

I met artists from all over the country that I traveled with in the pass at these Art Presentations. It was great to meet them at these affairs since this presentation happens only every two years. Everyone was talking with people they have not seen for a while during the cocktail hour. The ” Systems Go Combo” played during Cocktails. Dinner started with an invocation and The ” Huffman Prairie Winds ” played during dinner. The “Systems Go Combo” gave an entertainment Show during Dessrt. The program commenced after dinner with presentation of awards to Presidents and Chairmen of the different Societies.

Artists from Chicago I went to trips aaaaaall over

Speaches, speaches and more speaches by dignitaries and Air Force officers. The affair went on until 9:30 after everyone had gone around the exhibit several times. The crowd    started to thin out and attendies started to go back to their quarters to get ready for the next day’s trip back home. A number of artists were staying ’til Saturday and Sunday but a great number of us were leaving the next day. I was so worried about my transport to the airport the next day that I started earlier to contact people to get a ride to the airport. Greg Thompson and people in his office assured me that I will have a ride. I went back to our quarter with Benton and his wife and went to bed early after packing my suitcase. I got a call before going to bed asking me if I would join them for breakfast next morning. I aggreed to join in, not knowing exactly who it was to met at the lobby by 7:30.

October 23 Saturday

I got a call at 6:30 AM  reminding me about breakfast, I still did not ask who it was I am meeting. I just got out of the shower and the caller suggested that I call them when I am ready. The caller gave me their room number. I called the room number when I was ready. When I got out of my room, Benson and his wife met me by the elevator. That was the time I realized it was Benton and his wife that I had the appointment for breakfast. They asked where I had breakfast before. I told them about the hospital cafeteria, so we walked to the place. The lobby of the building was empty. We walked around to find our way to the basement. A lady walking, alone soul in the hallway told us that the cafeteria is closed on weekends. We got back to our buiding and took Benton’s car and drove to Denny’s where Benton and his wife ate breakfast the morning before way out of the base. Benton was in the same flgtht as mine and he asked me to drive with them to the airport.

At 9:00 AM I saw Greg Thompson getting ready to pick up people going to the airport. I told him that Benton offered to give me a ride to the airport. A few people, Susan, Adan and  others were in the same flight with us. The flight back was uneventful. We parted when we got to Baltomore. I took the Amtrak train to DC since the Mark train does not run in the weekend. From Union Station, it was a Metro train ride back home. I got back to the house at 4:00 PM


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


A reporter from Alexandria Gazzet Packet taking pictures of the exhibit

A shot of the exhibit hall

Group Picture of artists, organizers and sponsors

Painting of ” My Aunt , Escolastica”

Picture in front of my painting “Catalina, my Mother”. The  painting won  2nd place – a cash award


I received my prize from one of the sponsors

Thursday, October 14, 2010 was the Opening Reception of ” YOUNG AT ART”,  the 24th Annual Juried Art Show for Artists 55+. The affair started at 5;00 – 7:00 PM at the Durant Center in 1605 Cameron St, Alexandria ,VA.

The exhibit  is in a large open hall with lots of walls, great for exhibiting art. The first wall to the left of the hall hang the winners of the competiton, the three top prices plus the five honorable mentions. In the middle of the hall was a table covered with festive table cloth and a selection of cheeses and crackers, fresh fruit, great variety of nuts, pastries and a punch bowl filled with pistatio colored punch. There was a big galvanized pail filled with ice and small bottle of water. The quality of the exhibit is very high . Of the over 70 pieces in the exhibit,  big number of the pieces selected for exhibit were watercolors, mostly landscapes , some still life, photography, a number of fiber art were all over te place.

The program started promptly at 6:00 PM.  The two Executive Directors of the Sponsoring Organizations, Senior Services of Alexandria and Goodwin House Foundation hosted the program. They explained the Missions of their respective organizations and introduced some officers of each organizations that were present. They also Acknowledged the Corporate/Individual/Commission Sponsors. They read the missions of each sponsors in relation to Senior Services and Goodwin House Foundation. It seemed to drag on specially when the called on officers of each organizations present to step up to the front. The Alexandria Gazzete Packet covered the reception with the female reporter/ photographer taking pictures and taking notes.

Finally they got to the best part of the program. Certicicates were given to the artists, five of them whose works won honorable mention. The top three winners was next , from third , second and first price with certificate and cash awards. The public had a chance to mingle with the artists , ask questions and take pictures. The crowd started to thin out as it got to 7:00 PM. People were waiting outside to use the center as the place have regularly scheduled activities. All in all it was an exhilirating evening.


Picture of the participating artists



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment