Monday, September 28, 2009

My Country...My Home in Need

It is always absolutely horrifying when natural disasters hit. And almost always, those people who already go through daily struggles are the ones most affected.

We all see the horror people go through around the world, whether it be from natural disasters or as a result of wars. Though we feel compassion for them, it is even more heart wrenching watching it happen to the people you love.

Manila suffered the brunt of Typhoon ONDOY (Ketsana) last Saturday, September 26th 2009. In six hours, buckets of rain fell - almost the same amount the city averages for the whole month of September.

According to the Philippine Inquirer: "The 15th weather disturbance that hit the Philippines in 2009 dumped a total of 455 millimeters of rain in Quezon City [Manila] alone in 24 hours, compared to the 250 millimeters of rain that Hurricane Katrina brought to New Orleans in Louisiana in the United States in 2005."

I don't use this news snippet in any way to marginalize what happened in New Orleans - it was just as devastating and heart breaking - but I do use it to highlight the severity and magnitude of this latest natural disaster to hit the Philippines.

I feel completely useless watching the news and reading articles from the comfort of my home half way around the world. I hear of friends and family helping, donating, taking action - everything I wish I could do for my fellow kababayans (countrymen).

Since I can't help physically, I hope that spreading the word in this manner can be my way of chipping in. We all need to be aware and help in any way that we can...

*I don't know who I should give credit to for these photos, but thanks to Kathy E. Zablan for compiling them in an album on Facebook*

If anyone wants to help financially, there are a lot of websites accepting donations, and it's a relatively easy way to make sure your money gets to where it needs to go.

Ayala Foundation
select either "AF-USA Typhoon Relief Fund" OR "Philippine National Red Cross"

Philippine Aid

ABS CBN Foundation

Kapuso Foundation

y al final...prayers. It is one of the most powerful ways to help people make it through.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

¡Viva Mexico!

September 15 in Mexico is a BIG deal! All the preparations since the beginning of the month lead up to this night where the whole country becomes one to celebrate it's Independence. People get off work early (if they even go to start with), families and friends get together, pozole is cooking, and millions gather in zocalos around the nation to listen to the grito!

I, of course, had to come down with the flu. Typical.

It was a rainy night here in Mexico City, but that did not stop everyone from gathering to shout alongside Mexican President Felipe Calderon (check out some photos here).

As I was missing out on all the festivities, I spent time perusing through our photos of Independence Day(s) spent in Shanghai the last couple of years. If it were possible to be even more nationalistic, the Mexican community in Shanghai certainly delivers.

Although celebrating half way across the world, we did so in typical Mexican fashion with mariachis, cerveza, and lots of the indispensable tequila. (It would not be a Mexican celebration without it!)

Chinese waitress handing out ice cold Coronas...

Partying lasted long into the it does here too...what else is the 16th good for if not to crudear!

Yes, that is me (que pena!) dutifully taking a shot of tequila for my new home country. Ni modo, gotta do what you gotta do in the name of patriotism!

Until next year!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Celebration Times

Almost every country I can think of has some sort of an Independence Day or National Day. While the norm in most of them is to take the day off (maybe two, so it's a long weekend) to celebrate its freedom from some evil empire.

But of course in Mexico, as things here are done with so much more passion, we take the opportunity to spend the whole month celebrating. September 16th is the day of the famous grito, back in the year 1810 when Mexico declared itself independent from the Spanish empire.

The Filipinos didn't oust the Spaniards until almost a century later - in 1898. FIY just in case you were curious. It didn't really count as independence though - to end the war, Spain handed us to the United States and we were considered a Commonwealth up until after WWII.

Anyway, back to Mexico..

I suddenly noticed that the city was being draped in red, white, and green - and I thought - gasp! This is exactly like the Philippines - preparing for Christmas 3 months early!!! Then it of course dawned on me a short while later, that yes - those are the colors of the flag. (*blush*). But hey, I'm trying to find similarities, ok!?

This is going to be my first Independence Day in Mexico, although having spent the last couple of years with the Mexican community in Shanghai, I have gotten a taste for how important celebrating this day is.

This blog is already dedicated to discovering all things Mexicans, but there is a way to make it even more patriotic. We walked around the zocalo the other day and just happened to stumble upon the daily 6 p.m. flag ceremony.


So there you go - they do that every day - twice. The flag gets up there somehow. It was fun, aside from the crowd and the fact I was worried we were going to be caught up in another one of Mexican Mother Nature's past times. No harm done though.

To continue with the celebrations this month, my comadre is dedicating her cooking blog to Mexican dishes and tales from the kitchen of her home town...worth a look for some mouth watering photos on her blog aromasysabores. I'm still a novice in the Mexican kitchen, but maybe my suegra will have some secrets she is willing to share... ;)