Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Colonial Williamsburg

Aside from attending the Grand Canao, we also managed to visit and explore the Colonial Williamsburg Park. Our hotel was just two blocks away from the park. I've always wanted to visit Colonial Williamsburg, but never had the time. I was ecstatic to finally see this place and let myself be transported back to colonial times. As the pictures will show, it's a historical park featuring 18th century culture, life, costumes, museums, and restored buildings of Virginia's colonial capital.

Our first stop would be the Governor's Palace, which was the residence of seven royal governors and the first two elected governors of the new sovereign state of Virginia. It is now known as the home of Lord Dunmore, the last British governor of the colony.

This is part of the impressive palace garden, but this arched covered pathway is my favorite. It maybe hot and sweltering outside, but it was cool and breezy inside the pathway. I thought it was the perfect place to read a book or just think.

This is the band from the Revolution City. I thought they looked great in their 18th century clothes. Oh well, everyone in the park dresses this way.

As most actors or performers in the park, every person here knows his or her craft. It's like walking back into history, and being able to converse to them about needlework, women's lives, laws, how printing was done etc.

This is where Mom and I ate lunch, King's Arms Tavern. The atmosphere was elegant and service was excellent. On the menu, it says "Victuals pleasing to the palate expeditiously served in the best manner." I thought that was really cool. For starters, I had the "Peanut Soupe" (garnished with roasted peanuts and a peanut cracker) and Mom had the "King's Arms Chopped Salat" (this one came with a tasty shallot vinaigrette). For the main dish, we both had "A Made Dish of Beef" (tender beef stewed in a red wine sauce, pearl onions, carrots, mushroom, over mashed potatoes). I highly recommend all of them paired with a cool refreshing Lemonade or Iced Tea. Cheers!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Grand Canao 2008

On the eve of July 26th, the BIBAK Northeast women donned their colorful gateng/tapis (skirts) and the men tightly worn their wanes (g-strings). The night was humid and the heat intensified as we gathered around the fire just as our ancestors did a long time ago. The men sounded the gongs to a synchronized steady beat, just like the heartbeat of every brave Igorot, and the beautiful women raised their hands, as if giving thanks to the heavens or imitating a free bird in flight. As the gongs got louder and the fire burned brightly, I was instantly transported to a different world. I was no longer in Virginia; I was home. This was the second time I've attended the BIBAK NE Grand Canao, and it was a grand opportunity to meet so many people. It was such a relief that I can call anyone auntie and uncle. Although my Kankanaey is rusty, Mom patiently translated the conversations and songs for me.

The celebration persisted through the night as different ethnic dances (Balangbang, Tadok, Banga etc.) and songs took the stage. There was a group who wore cowboy hats/boots and performed a country dance, and another group integrated a Broadway like show in their full gateng/tapis regalia. I'd actually prefer to watch more authentic Igorot dances rather than a country line dance. I see such dances all the time, and for me, seeing Igorot dances is such a rare and wonderful treat; that's just my opinion. As you can see, the photos are a bit dark because some performances took place on an open ground with just a campfire for lighting. It was tough to take photos without tripping on something. I tripped and laughed at myself a couple of times, but it was too dark for anyone to notice.

To those unfamiliar with the different colors that the tapis/gateng represent, each color combination woven through the tapis belong to a group or tribe. (For those who are more familiar with this topic, I do need your help about the color combinations.) Grand Canao 2008 was truly a festival of colors. That night, tribal identity or divisions no longer existed, as the different colors danced unified to one rhythm - the beating of the gongs.

PS: Aside from the usual Filipino dishes, there was a huge pot of Pinikpikan (if you want to know what a Pinikpikan is let me know) on the side. I got a full bowl and ate it with gusto. After finishing my plate, I wondered where was the Etag (cured meat or I prefer to call ham) because I couldn't find one in my bowl. The aunties and uncles laughed.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Road to Virginia

A road in Virginia and the Blue Ridge Mountains (2007).

I am getting ready for our trip to Williamsburg, VA tomorrow. It's a two+ hour drive, so Mom and I are hitting the road at 6 AM. I'm the designated driver, so I'll need a big cup of coffee to keep me up. The car is filled up and ready. All I need now is get my things ready - clothes, camera, map/directions, and snacks.

For road trips, I keep a few rules: (1) make sure the car is checked, full tank, and ready; (2) research about road, map, and destination; (3) gadgets - cellular phone, gps, and camera; (4) bring first aid kit and prescriptions; and, (5) most important: snack and music. The snack keeps me awake, and the music keeps me company when my Mom dozes off.

How about you? What are you up to this weekend? Whether reading a book, traveling somewhere, sleeping, or getting together with family/friends/relatives, have a wonderful and fantastic weekend.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Loony Monday

It's 4 PM, and work is starting to slowdown. I still have a stack of papers to deal with, but I'm about ready to fall asleep or just get a few minutes of shut eye. It's Monday, and I already feel exhausted. I guess that's what an early morning meeting can do to you. I've been running around the office making sure everything is ready especially that we have company members visiting. So far, the meeting was a success, and I'm just glad to be back in my office resting at the moment.

These days, my office looks boring. I took down the paintings last week, and I have a pile of documents on the floor. I still have to empty a couple of shelves and drawers; throw away stuff I don't need anymore. I am really bad at throwing things, as I seem to end up keeping most of it. Whenever I look at an old notebook or some outdated reference book, something tells me that "I might need it someday," so I end up stacking it back. This attitude totally defeats the idea of purging unneeded materials. As of now, I haven't thrown away anything. Who knows, I may never will.

Everyone in the office will be doing some office clean-up this summer due to a major office renovation. Admin said the actual work will start this week and may last until September. It's good they will be working at nights and weekends only because I can't imagine myself working while someone is hammering or drilling somewhere. My office will be getting a new paint and some new furnitures. So, while my walls are bare and my library is in chaos, I can marvel on the thought that soon my office will feel like home again.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Path Chosen

Last year, the talk was about "babies," and this year, the theme is about "weddings." Of course, I am being ostracized on both conversations. People around me are wondering what am I doing with my life, and so many questions hover on my being unmarried. Although I don't blame them for such thoughts and that's because most cousins and friends my age are already married and have two or more children of their own. But what bothers me the most is when these type of questions seem to come up on group conversations, and some people can be so blunt and insensitive about telling me - that I'll be too old to have a baby or even find a man to marry. As usual, I laugh it off and make a joke about it, after some silent thought reminding myself that I'm getting good at handling these remarks, but deep inside, something somewhere inside me hurts. I'm not hurt because I am single and choose to be child free, but I am hurt because people are making my situation a problem. I don't think there's any problem with being single and child free. Gosh darn it, I am happy where I am. Isn't that what's suppose to matter? Why does my situation bother other people more than myself? Is the pressure to marry and have babies stronger on women than men? Are married people happier than those who remain single?

To my married, engaged, and single friends, happy Friday and have a fantastic weekend!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Niagara Falls

This is Niagara Falls (Canadian side) when I visited two years ago.
Beautiful and magnificent.


Life has put a lot of pressure on me.
I chose this photo
because I feel like those rocks being dashed by the waterfalls -
tossed and confused.

I hope for calm waters soon.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sunset at Ko Olina

My favorite place in the Island of O'ahu - Ko Olina.
After the swimming, the screaming, and the fun,
I laid on the sand and watched the sun's quiet sunset.
I couldn't ask for more.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

DC Dining

On Tuesday, B and I dined at Rasika, one of the newly opened Indian restaurants in DC. The place was warm and cozy, and service was fast and friendly. I'm not a fan of Indian cuisine, but I heard great reviews about Rasika's food. B had the Fish Chutneywala (tilapia cooked in a banana leaf with mint, cilantro, and coconut) with rice and Cucumber Raita (cucumber and yogurt relish). I ordered the Palak Chaat (a crispy spinach with sweet yogurt, tamarind, and date chutney) and the Lamb Roganjosh (served with caramelized onions, tomatoes, and garam masala). The Lamb Roganjosh was cooked very tender, but the taste was just okay. I had a Mango Lassi (mango smoothie with yogurt) to go with it. The mango smoothie also helped in neutralizing the spiciness.

We didn't bother ordering dessert, as we were too full after the main entree. Overall, B and I agreed that the Palak Chaat tasted perfect. Alas, it was the only thing that we agreed on. Our meal cost us about $55 (excluding tip), so it wasn't too pricey compared to other high end DC restaurants. Rasika's food was okay, and their service was excellent.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Texas and Bhutan in DC

On Friday, Mom and I had a picnic at Lafayette Park, a park adjacent to the White House (photo). We sat on the grass as we marveled at the number of tourists flocking to take photos at the gates of the White House. Indeed, July is a busy, touristy month in DC. It was a nice, breezy afternoon, so we decided to walk around the city. We took photos at the Washington Monument, explored fossils at the Museum of Natural History, fought our way through the crowd visiting the Smithsonian Castle, and joined the festivities at the Smithsonian's Folk Life Festival featuring Texas and Bhutan at the DC Mall.

At the Texas tent (it was huge), a band played country music while the dance floor filled up easily with couples. Of course, we just tapped our feet to the music. Soon, the enticing aroma of good ol' Texas barbecue saturated the air. The smell was heavenly, and tempting as it maybe to eat again, we decided to visit the Bhutanese tent instead. The Bhutanese showcase was impressive; it was filled with paintings and different works of art from Bhutan including a colorful sand mandala. There were monks demonstrating clay sculpture (photo), the process of color and paint preparation from natural/organic materials, and cooking Bhutanese recipes. Unfortunately, I found their taste too spicy.

Overall, it was a fun weekend, as Mom and I shopped at the Amish owned Lancaster County Dutch Market on Saturday, and haggled prices at the Bethesda flea market earlier today. After going through a disheartening experience six months ago, this is the first time I feel happy again.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Road Trips and the Grand Canao

This is going to be a short work week. This Thursday, the office decided to close at 1 p.m., courteousy of the boss, and with the Fourth of July holiday this coming Friday, I am blissfully looking forward to a long, lazy and relaxing weekend. However, I am not going on any trips, as I have decided to stay at home and spend some quality time with my cable and DVD collection. I prefer not to deal with the crowded airports and slow road traffic. In addition, a number of airlines have increased airfares and are now charging for check-in luggages, drinks (except tap water), and food. With gas prices at $4.10 a gallon, I think staying at home would be the ideal way to save money and avoid the headaches of flight delays and hair-pulling road traffic. Mom knows that I need some anger management when I'm on the road. No worries, I'm currently working on it.
Speaking of future road trips, I am looking forward to attending the Grand Canao on July 25 – 27 (Williamsburg, VA). This is the second year I’m attending. It will be a two-hour drive, but I am looking forward to meeting all the attending BIBAK (Benguet, Ifugao, Bontoc, Apayao, and Kalinga) members. I am so excited about the cultural night, where every group will perform tribal dances and wear colorful costumes such as the tapis. I am forever proud and appreciative of my Igorot heritage, but part of me feels guilty that I never took the initiative to learn any of the Igorot dances. It may look easy to some people, but my shyness has always taken the best of me.