Saturday, November 28, 2009

Hawaiian Luau Night

While I was in the conference at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, my former classmates Aprille Lyn Paned with her baby Genesis and Salvador Vidal dropped by to pick me up. We warmly greeted each other. We have not seen each other since college. They viewed the photos I exhibited. I escaped from the conference to give way for our threesome reunion. They showed me around and took me to a Luau Night at the Paradise Cove.

They took me first for lunch at Kentucky Fried Chicken and visited Ala Moana mall. Salvador shopped for me some macadamia chocolates and kona coffee at the Longs Drugstores. Then went to see Aprille’s hubby to endorse her baby and we later proceeded to Paradise Cove.

Luau is a Hawaiin feast. The concept of Luau and party are always synonymous. So in every occasion luau can be affixed with it such as graduation luaus, wedding luaus and birthday luaus. The term dates back in 1856 when it was used by Pacific Commercial Advertiser. It comes from the food always served that is young taro tops baked in coconut milk and octopus or chicken. The former name of the feast is called paina or ahaaina.

Aprille registered and paid the ticket at the gate office. It was around USD80 per person. We were welcomed with lei made of shells, then we were given welcome cocktail drinks. We roamed around first, then watched some ceremonies such as the Hukilau on the Beach and the audience participated in traditional Hawaiian fishing and the Royal Court Procession with Imu Ceremony. They demonstrated cooking Kalua pig which it had to be buried underground to cook it.

We ordered alcoholic drinks and I had Hawaiian Blue. A buffet dinner was served consisted of Hawaiin food such as Kalua roast pig, poke ahi, poi and other continental food. While having our dinner, the Polynesian cultural show was started. We were given poncho before the show and that was for the rain.

It started to drizzle then it rained hard while the fire dance was ongoing. People cannot brave the rain so they ran for shelter. My enjoyment of watching the cultural performance was cut short by the rain. The people started to go home and we went home too. I dropped by at Aprille’s house where Mang Edna picked me up. It was a wonderful night sharing with my two long lost friends.

Gameng Photo Exhibit a Big Success in Hawaii

The photo exhibit entitled Gameng: Ilocos Treasure Goes to Hawaii presented by The Ilocandia Photographic Society (TIPS) at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu, USA during the 4th Nakem International Conference was a big success.

At the opening ceremony, I presented to the delegation the video sneak preview of the exhibit and most of them were amazed to see the beautiful photos from Ilocandia. The collection of photos exhibited were representative of Ilocandia’s natural wonders and the rich Ilocano cultures and traditions.

The photo exhibit was viewed by the conference delegation, administration, staff and students of the University of Hawaii. Consul General Leoncio Cardenas had viewed the photos as well and was attracted to the photos. He bought two photos from the exhibit. Besides the praises to the photo exhibit, 50% of the photos displayed were sold out.

Nakem Conference at the University of Hawaii

The 4th Nakem International Conference was held at the University of Hawaii at Manoa Art Auditorium and Campus Center Ballroom with the theme Dap-ayan: Sharing and Understanding Ethnolinguistic Worlds Towards Cultural Pluralism.

During the opening reception, I was accompanied by my host Mr. Juny La Putt and introduced me to his friend Dr. Federico Magdalena, a professor from the same university. I met the different delegates from the Philippines, USA, Australia and Hawaii. I have seen Dr. Ariel Agcaoili, Executive Director of the conference, Dr. Patricia Brown, President of the Filipino American Historical Society of Hawaii, Dr. Miriam Pascua and Dr. Alegria Visaya of Ilocos Norte. I met again Golden Miss Teen Hawaii-Filipina Alyssa who graced the event with her mom Mrs Agnes Reyes.

National anthems of USA and the Philippines in Ilocano version were sang during the opening. Welcome remarks were delivered by key personalities. It was followed by poetry reading, folk dance from Hawaii and Philippines, classical Ilokano songs, and three Ilocano books were launched during the program.

On the second day, I put up the photo exhibit entitled Gameng: Ilocos Treasure Goes to Hawaii. Several Ilocano personalities’ lives such as that of Jose Burgos, Gregorio Aglipay, Isabelo de los Reyes, and Jose Maria Sison were discussed. Various papers on Ilocano culture were presented. There was a student volunteer by the name Valerie who came up to me and asked me if I am Edwin Antonio of Treasures of Ilocandia and I said, "Yes! And why?" She excitedly responded by saying, "Manong, we've been using your blog on our presentations in class." I was elated by what she said and even their Professor Julius Soria confirmed this. The university actually offers a program on Bachelor of Arts major in Ilocano Studies.

On the third day, I presented a paper entitled Ragrag-o: The Festivals of Ilokandia where I showcased all the festivals I covered in Ilocos Norte as well as in Ilocos Sur.

Going Around Oahu

After coming from Maui, I called up Mr. Juny La Putt on his phone as per his instruction, so that he could pick me up at the airport. I met Sir Juny on the internet a few weeks before I traveled to Honolulu through his website, Hawaiian webmaster. He is so very kind. Even not knowing me that well, he welcomed me in his home.

After meeting him at the airport, he took me straight to his house in Ewa Beach and showed me my room and the different corners of the house. He instructed me on how to open the internet, how to use the coffee maker, even lent me his magic jack to call my friends in the US and Canada and even gave me the house keys. He lives in an apartment with his wife Nena, who works as a nurse.

I was left alone in the house. I had a restful night. The following morning, my host took me for breakfast at McDonalds and later brought me around Oahu. He described to me the Oahu island. It is composed of two sections, the Windward (the higher side) which is the greener part and that it always rains there. The lower side called Leeward is brown and dry.

Oahu is known as The Gathering Place. It is the most populous island in the State of Hawaii and the third largest in Hawaiian islands with a total land area of 596.7 square miles. Honolulu as the state capital is located in its southeast coast. Waipahu is a former sugar plantation town in Oahu where many Ilocanos reside. I have seen every home waving the Ilocano flag called horseradish, malunggay plant or moringa tree as they say. Ilocano migration in Hawaii is attributed to the Sacadas who worked in the sugar and pineapple plantation.

Our first stop was a visit to the National Cemetery of the Pacific which serves as a memorial to the men and women who worked in the US Armed Forces. It is where I have seen the Philippine map and Leyte in which the country was involved in the World War II. A rock from the Malinta Tunnel was brought by President Arroyo to serve as a memorial to the partnership of US and Philippines. This cemetery is located in the Punchbowl Crater where there was a deck where you can view the Pacific Ocean and the Honolulu skyline and the volcanic tuff cone called Diamond Head. It was a spectacular sight.

Later, we went to the Philippine Consulate and visited his friend Consul Lolita Capco. I was introduced to her and had a little chat. Then, we proceeded to the Nuuanu Pali State Park or the Pali Lookout where I have seen the panoramic views of the green hills and mountains especially the Koolau Range.

We headed next to the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park which features the replica of 12th century Japanese Buddhist temple in Kyoto called Byodo-In Temple. We walked through the entrance bridge and I rang the peace bell before paying my respect to the image of Buddha. Aside from Filipinos, Japanese people have a big population also in Hawaii.

The highlight of the day was a visit to the USS Arizona Memorial located at the Pearl Harbor. They gave out free tickets to watch a documentary film about USS Arizona and a ferry ride to the main site of the resting place of the 1,102 sailors who were killed during the Attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 by Japanese Imperial forces. This led to the involvement of US in World War II. This was a very educational trip to the site since I learned a lot from the past of America.

We dropped by at Iolani Palace, the official residence of two monarchs of Hawaiian Kingdom. It was built by King Kalakaua in 1882. At its opposite side was the Aliiolani Hale, the home of the Hawaii State Supreme Court, where the gold-leaf statue of Kamehameha the Great was erected in front of the courtyard.

To cap the day, we relaxed at the Ala Moana Beach Park where we watched the sun sets. On the following day we visited the PT Clinic of his friend, Janice Magdalena. I was also brought to his apartment and stayed there since its nearer to the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the venue of my conference. He sent me off and even joined me at the opening ceremony.

I am so very lucky to have met Mr. Juny. He is a retired military man and a professor. These days, it is very rare that you meet a person who is trusting. I learned from him that he also went through traveling finding some generous hosts and foster families. My sincere gratitude goes to him for this wonderful homestay.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Nature Tripping in Maui

On my second day in Hawaii, Mang Edna sent me off to the airport for my early morning flight to Kahului, island of Maui. It was only a 30-minute flight via Hawaiian airlines. My host was referred by my friend Fanny. Manong Billy Jose is her father. I was instructed to wait for him at the lobby. She gave me the plate number of his car which is colored green. When I saw this, I just waved my hand and boarded the car. We greeted each other. He treated me for breakfast at Zippys and later dropped by at his workplace which caters food to various airlines in America.

Maui is an island of the state of Hawaii which is the second largest in terms of size with an area of 727.2 square miles. It is called Valley Isle attributed to the large isthmus between its northwestern and southeastern volcanoes. The popular term Maui and Son traced back from the legendary discovery of the Hawaiian island, a Polynesian navigator, Hawaiʻiloa. He named the island after his son’s name.

Starting from the airport alone I felt that the air in Maui was so gentle, breezy and cool compared to that of Honolulu. I enjoyed my joyride. It’s so green in this island. There were lots of golf courses. We began roaming around the island with a visit to Paia located on Maui’s North Shore where we have seen the beautiful white sand beaches. Surfing on long boards were plenty on this area. We were lucky to have seen a monk seal resting and moving in the sand. It was cordoned for safety. Then our next stop was at Naska where we watched several people assemble and do kite boarding. On the other side was windsurfing. While enjoying the beach sports, we ate our packed lunch bought from the resto.

We moved to Central Maui where we visited Maalaea Harbor. This hosts marina where cruise ships and pleasure boats dock here. This is also an excellent site for surfing and windsurfing. It is also an ideal walking beach. We concluded our day with our visit to Kaanapali, a small town located in the western shore of Maui close to Lanai. Mang Billy shopped for me some clothes to wear and even jacket to use. Another perk was the Aloha money.

I was taken home and introduced to his family starting from his parents who were so amiable and began to talk to me. I met also his brothers and especially his daughter Charise. We dined together for supper and we had a bottle of beer and later had sing- along. We retired early and rose up wee hours of the morning.

At 4:30am, we rushed to the Haleakala National Park to see the beautiful sunrise and of course the crater. It has an elevation of 10,000 feet. I was surprised to see that there were already many people waiting. It felt freezing cold up there. I keept my hands inside my pocket to ward off the freezing chill. It was a wonderful sight.

We droved down the scenic 53-mile Hana highway with all that lush rainforest following the northeast coastline. It is one of the most beautiful drives of the world. There were sharp curves that limits you to only 15 mph speed limit. We ended up to Waianapanapa State Beach, a black sand beach.

We stopped by at the Garden of Eden where we saw several plants and flowers. There were birds here. We bought our pack lunch from Queen Kahuumano Center where Charise works. We proceeded to Iao Valley where we saw the Heritage Parks composed of many styles of home. including bahay kubo. We have seen the striking Iao Valley needlle, a 2,250 feet rock pinnacle.

The island of Maui is simply the best in terms of nature tripping. Fabulous sights and great people I have seen. We went home to rest and had video conference with his wife and children Fanny and Kevin and friend Mai. Afterwards, they sent me off to the airport bound for Honolulu. I thanked him and his family for that unforgettable moments.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Aloha Experience

I thought it was a just a short trip flying from Manila to Honolulu but it was a long haul flight. It was 10 hours. Aside from getting the lowest promo fare, I had so much comfort in flying the Philippine Airlines because of good service and I was able to lie down and sleep on a row of four vacant seats at the back near the galley.

Hawaii is the 50th state of the United States of America and the only state composed of island chain. It is composed of eight main islands namely, Ni’ihau, Kaua’i, O’ahu, Moloka’i, Lana’i, Kaho’olawe, Maui, and Hawai’i. It was a former kingdom from 1810 to 1893 until when resident American businessmen overthrown the monarchy and later became an independent republic. It was annexed to US as territory and became its state in 1959.

Upon arrival at the airport I saw many well-wishers armed with different types of leis or garlands waiting for their guests. I waited for a while for my hosts to arrive. Suddenly they showed up. Manang Edna Tamayo and sister Mary Ann greeted me with a lei. I was amazed by the warm welcome. She drove the car to a place where we met up with Manang Agnes Reyes to deliver packages for her. Upon handing out the package to her she gave me an envelope and that was Aloha money, as they say.

Manang Edna took me at once for shopping to an outlet. She asked me to pick something I like. I chose a T-shirt and she paid it for me. Again I was surprised. Later, she took me to her house where some guests from Maui were waiting for her. I was introduced to them and had talks. I met also her children Eric, Patrick and Kaycee. Before her guests left, they shook my hands with some cash and that was Aloha money. Wow, it was really surprising.

With her hubby Manong Primo, they took me out for lunch at a Chinese resto. They served a big pack of lunch where you get to choose a combination of viands. Sodas were of great sizes too. Later, we went to the office of Mang Edna for her to work a bit because her desk was piled up with papers as she just arrived from vacation in the Philippines.

Manong Ben Pulido, president of the Kalayaan Philippines group of Ilocanos in Hawaii with her daughters Vanessa and Raizza dropped by to get their pawit or package from me. I was introduced to him and upon getting it, he handed me some cash. I was so much delighted by their generosity. I started counting my collection when we went home.

We were invited to attend the Kimona Ball of the Filipino Business Women in Hawaii at the Ala Moana Hotel. I was lucky that Mang Ben informed the emcee to announce the photo exhibit I am holding at the University of Hawaii. I met the daughter of Mang Agnes, Alyssa, reigning Golden Miss Teen Hawaii-Filipina 2009. I met many people. There was also one person who gave me Aloha money.

Later we met up with Mary Ann and friends Tess, Rely, Lorie, Vi, Chil, Kenny, and Edita at Sorabowl where we had dinner. They took me to Club 939 for some adult entertainment and we ended our night out late with some hot noodles at Zippys and retired at the house of Edita.

A big surprise given to me was when they tendered an Aloha party for me at the family house of my host in one of my nights in Oahu. Aside from the Filipino food, they prepared ocean salad and poke ahi. Mang Edna arranged the party with Mary Ann celebrating her birthday too. Most of the relatives and friends gave me each an envelope containing Aloha money.

On my last night, Mang Ben threw a farewell dinner for me at the Aloha Tower Marketplace where we had a buffet of seafood. I love that Snow Russian crabs and lobsters. Together with Mang Ed and Mang Agnes, we proceeded to Walmart. Each of them shopped for me boxes of Macadamia chocolates, souvenir shirts and whatnot to take home.

When Mang Edna sent me off to the airport, she handed some more cash gift. I sincerely conveyed to her my utmost appreciation for her kindness in making my Aloha experience a great memory and a treasure to cherish for lifetime.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

TIPS goes global on its Gameng Photo Exhibit

The Ilocandia Photographic Society will be holding its first international photo exhibit at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu, Hawaii on November 11-14, 2009 at the Campus Center Ballroom.

It was titled as GAMENG, an Iluko term for treasure. It will feature Ilocandia's nature wonders and its rich culture and tradition.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Miss Earth 2009 Candidates Visit Ilocos

In a short notice, together with my colleagues in The Ilocandia Photographic Society, we went to cover the pre-pageant activities of the candidates for Miss Earth 2009. A group of twelve from the pageant delegation was sent to Ilocos for tree planting and tourism activities.

On our way to Paoay, we chanced upon them at the Ilocos Norte Hotel and Convention Center where they started planting trees and visited the pool of the soon-to-open resort. I met Ms Tanzania Evy Amasi, Ms France Magalie Thierry, Ms Kosovo Elza Marku and the rest of the ladies from Switzerland, Macau, Honduras, Brazil, Singapore, Northern Ireland, Guam, Malta and Peru.

They visited the world heritage Paoay Church as they were welcomed by the town officials. Majority of the delegation were of Catholic faith. They were later invited for snacks of empanada and pizza pinakbet at the Herencia Café.

This is a pageant for a cause wherein candidates are advocates of the protection of the environment. The grand pageant coronation night will be held on November 22, 2009 at the Boracay Convention Center.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tumba, Tumba!

With a couple of guest friends, we went to Paoay on All Saint’s Day to join other friends who were invited to judge the event called Tumba. This was my second time to witness this event. Tumba is a Halloween cultural tradition of the town of Paoay. It was celebrated for more than 20 years now which started just a simple showcase of celebration of Halloween in the community then later made into a contest.

Tumba refers to a catafalque. It is a platform that is used to support a coffin or casket during the wake of a deceased person. It also refers to a tomb or an altar. It is the practice of the Ilocanos to place in an altar the religious icons, especially the crucifix, patron Saint Augustine and other images. They also include to display the framed sepia portraits of their departed loved ones with candles, flowers and umras. Umras is a group of food that is being offered to the spirits. There were incantations and prayers conducted by the people of each village. Dung-aw or crying with monolugue was also performed by some ladies.

There were a total of 31 entries representing each village of the said town. They were far apart from each other so we have to hop from one place to another with the use of the municipal vehicle. We spent more than five hours to visit the tumba entries. I was lucky this time that I have seen majority of the entries and I was amazed by the big effort exerted by the locals to put up their entries. Fabulous and horrifying production sets were prepared. Aside from the altar they made, they accented them with horror unit with purgatory, hell and heaven. Some even hired limousine or caro, coffin with a shocking character inside.

They cooked food to offer in the tumba consisted of sinuman, pilais, busi, arrozcaldo, lechon, roasted chicken, different variety of grilled fish, boiled eggs and many others. I took fruits, suman and one whole roasted chicken since guests are allowed to take away some of the food displayed. After the guests partook in the eating, the community follows.

The barangays of Pannaratan, Sideq, Pasil, Nagbacalan and Monte were the top five entries who made such a wonderful presentation of tumba. This is such a unique tradition witnessed only in Paoay and a must-see for everyone.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Manzhouli: Where China, Russia and Mongolia Meet

My article entitled Manzhouli: Where China, Russia and Mongolia Meet appeared on the November 1, 2009 issue of The Philippine Starweek, Sunday magazine of the Philippine Star.