The Return of eLf ideas

ideas of an eLven being in Canada

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Even only for the moment

Adventures in Ontario, Part One

January 22, 2006
My last Sunday in Ontario

Cousin Rommel dropped me off at Kipling Subway Station to meet my friend Timmy Tan, who accompanied me to downtown Toronto to buy some books, to Scarborough to meet Ate Doy's family, and then to North York to meet Sheila Leobrera, a former officemate of mine at Quorum-Lanier (Philippines).

Timmy and I spent the whole day traveling via subway trains and buses. We would have checked out some CD stores and toy shops, but we lacked time. It was a fun adventure nonetheless. Besides, the weather was fine—sunny and not much windy cold.

I was back in the house, in Mississauga, at around midnight. I took the bus by myself. Cousin Rommel would have been more than willing to pick me up at the station, but I'd rather opted to try going home on my own, which I did without woes. Always in my mind was what my friend Pet used to tell me:

"It's all right to get lost once in a while as long as you carry these three essentials—money, address book, and the confidence to speak to people of whatever race."

My friend Timmy Tan, who lives in North York, Ontario

A statue of the four-faced and multiarmed Thai deity Phra Phom inside Springrolls Thai Restaurant in downtown Toronto, at which Timmy treated me to a hearty lunch

At the hallway leading to the washroom of the restaurant, I took fancy for these glowing tubes of reddish light which scared the Sith out of me! I thought Darth Maul was at the moment somewhere in the restaurant, feasting on dewback steak or kaadu chops.

Timmy took me to The World's Biggest Bookstore in Toronto, where I bought several books (shown below) to add to my collection.

Myths from around the World by Jean Lang, Nostradamus & Other Prophets and Seers by Jo Durden Smith, The Greatest Exploration Stories Ever Told by Darren Brown, Butterflies on a Sea Wind (Beginning Zen) by Anne Rudloe, Solo Crossing (Poems by Meg Campbell), and The Nibelungenlied translated by D.G. Mowatt

We also checked out the BMV Used-Books Store located beside the "biggest" bookstore, where I bought Star Wars: The Essential Guide to Characters by Andy Mangels, The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan, Indian Legends by Jean-Claude Dupont, and Favourite Folktales of China translated by John Minford. I spent only about 40 Canadian dollars for all the books I bought that day.

Some of the CDs which Timmy gave to me as birthday presents

Past three, we went to meet Ate Doy's family at Scarborough Town Centre, where the children (John, Gella, and Detdet) were ice skating. Ate Doy is the eldest sister of my bestfriend/brother-in-law Ramil (who is married to my sister Lovelle).

I and Timmy by the ice-skating rink

I with Mike (Reyes), Ate Doy's friend / former officemate who was also there to accompany his own children ice skating).

We proceeded to the house of Ate Doy and her family--son, John; husband, Noel; and Detdet, eldest daughter). Gella was not in the picture, busy playing or just shy.) They live one-bus-away from Scarborough Town Centre. We had early dinner there.

Around five, Timmy and I went ahead to drop by at the house of my former officemate Sheila Leobrera. She and her husband Mike live in North York, around one-hour-away from Scarborough where Ate Doy and her family live. Sheila prepared some food, on which the four of us feasted while sharing fond stories of our lives back in the Philippines and here in Canada.

Around 11 p.m. at the bus station at Square One where Timmy and I parted ways, waiting for the last trip back to the house; I was a bit tired, but happy that I got to meet all the people whom I intended to meet that day. My deepest gratitude goes to my friend Timmy Tan, without whom I would have most likely been unable to get around such a big place as Ontario; and to think that we only got to visit three cities: Toronto, Scarborough, and North York.

When one finds himself alone in a distant place, very far away from home, spending a few moments with friends (especially those not seen for quite sometime) becomes a heartwarming experience. This somehow fills a portion of the hole in the heart caused by the continual yearning to return to one's homeland.

Again, there's no place like home. But, in a special way, meeting relations or friends who also live far away from home and share with you common or similar experiences in the past has the power to lift and carry your heart back home even only for the moment.

"I Miss You" sa 'The Filipino Journal'

January 30, 2006

After lunch, I finally returned the call of Mrs. Rosalinda Cantiveros, the publisher / chief editor of The Filipino Journal, the pioneering and leading Filipino community newspaper in Manitoba. I was flattered when she said that she read all the sample works that I submitted to her, and that she particularly liked the article "I Miss You," which she said was very apt for the forthcoming Valentine's issue of the newspaper.

All I needed to do was condense the article to fit a one-pager space in the newspaper—this I accomplished in about an hour after our phone conversation. Mrs. Cantiveros also liked my poetry and articles which tackle Filipino Culture. I told her that my primary intention in writing such, is to correct the many misconceptions of Filipinos living in Canada about the Philippines and its evolving state and culture.

Wish me luck, that I may eventually become a regular contributor to The Filipino Journal. This will certainly open for me doors of great opportunities.

Here's the particular article I said Mrs. Cantiveros took fancy for. The version that may appear in the newspaper will be shorter and more straightforward.

I Miss You
by aLfie vera mella

Ano nga ba ang "I miss you" sa Filipino?

Maraming beses na ring naitanong sa akin ang mahiwaga't mapanubok na katanungang iyan. Ultimo mga bagong kakilala ko na, dito na tumanda sa Canada ay para bang sinusubukan ang wikang Filipino sa tuwina itatanong nila 'yan sa akin. May badya-ng-tagumpay nilang sasabihing "wala" nga raw katumbas sa wikang Filipino ang salitang miss sa pangungusap na "I miss you."

Siyempre, hindi ako makapayag nang basta-basta; subalit anumang pilit ko sa aking isipang mabigyan ng kahulugan sa Filipino ang "I miss you," hindi ko magawa. Magsasabi ako ng mga pangungusap na, bagama't hawig ang ibig sabihin, kung iistimahin kong maige ay sablay pa rin....

continue reading...

Monday, January 30, 2006

haLf man haLf eLf

January 29, 2006

Still tired from the trip back to Manitoba, I spent the day lying on the bed while listening to the CDs I got to copy from the collection of my friend Jessel Baltazar (of Ontario). I also continued reading The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan.

After lunch, I started organizing my boxes of stuff (as well as my still-hazy thoughts).

Tita Lucy reminded me that the publisher/owner of Filipino Journal called a week ago. I submitted to her last December a copy of my curriculum vitae. I'll return her call tomorrow. I hope she'll give me any editing job which I can work on without leaving the house.

In the evening, while waiting for dinner, I began rendering the cover concept for the first single I'm working on with Emong Payaso. Here's what came out of my mind last night. And oh, by the way, I've finally decided on what appellation to use for my musical recordings.

This CD single entitled The Woes of Emong Payaso will contain three pieces of interrelated music:

"Mahiwagang gitara ni Emong Payaso"
"Parang karnabal—ganyan ang buhay ng tao"
"Walang tigil ang palabas sa entablado"

Sunday, January 29, 2006

A Clown and an eLf

January 28, 2006

Around midday, Grandfather and I arrived at Winnipeg International Airport, in Manitoba, after a two-and-a-half flight from Pearson Airport in Ontario. The airplane trip was my sixth time to board a plane. Fortunately I've become more accustomed to it; the sudden turbulences no longer startled me; but weird thoughts of getting into a plane crash still crept into my senses.

After a short nap, we attended the 5 p.m. mass at St. Joseph's Church. We then proceeded to the children's birthday celebration to which we were invited.

Nothing spectacular. But for someone like me who is indefinitely stuck with a 90-year-old Grandfather, any event becomes eventful.

There was a clown hired to entertain the children. The clown, named Toodles, who had a few bags of stuff, was alone so I decided to give it a hand.

Here's a picture of Toodles and eLf. Funny thing, I realized that we were dressed up similarly only when I was already reviewing the contents of my digital camera back at the house. Such coincidence!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Goodbye, Ontario; Hello, Manitoba

January 27, 2006

Wow! I never thought that time would fly this fast after all. I still remember the last blog entry I wrote in Manitoba: "Goodbye, Manitoba; Hello, Ontario"; now, I'm writing a similar entry; only that this time, the greetings have been reversed.

This will be my last time to use the PC here, so I thought of writing my last blog entry in Ontario...a short one though.

Today, I will finish packing our stuff: three check-in boxes and one carry-on luggage. As usual, our stuff comprises mostly of clothes, books, and CDs.

Everything needs to be ready by lunchtime. I wouldn't have time tonight because we'd be attending the birthday celebration of Tita Zeny. By the time we return to the house later, it would already be late; and our flight tomorrow is 10:25 a.m., so we'd certainly leave around eight.

Will I be missing Ontario? Hmm. Yes. Mostly because of the tolerable weather, and also because I find the places here more enjoyable. Lastly, I will miss Lola Flor and my eight-year-old cousin Jasmine--our usual company every day.


My stay had also been fruitful because I was able to meet several friends: Jessel Baltazar (and his wife, Anna, and their daughter, Jaina), former Quorum officemate Elaine Chua, Timmy Tan, and another former Quorum officemate Shiela Leobrera (and her husband, Mike). I also got to see Ate Doy (the eldest sister of my brother-in-law Ramil) and her family (husband, Noel; and their chidren, Detdet, John, and Gella).


Lastly, I was able to visit some of Ontario's chief "must-see places" that include CN Tower in downtown Toronto and the great Niagara Falls.


Lola Flor, Tita Cecil, and Tito Junior told me that, in case I finally become a Canadian immigrant, I am welcome to stay with them if I decide to relocate in Ontario. I'm considering this option. As I said, Ontario, for me, is a great place to live in.


See you then in Manitoba!


I'm excited chiefly because I can now continue the recording project I started with Emong Payaso.

Friday, January 20, 2006

The First Leaves

To compensate for my current inability to feature ponderous articles because of the slowness of the computer I'm currently using here in Ontario, I decided to re-post some of my previous eLf ideas—stories which I find worthy of sharing over and over again with all of you. After all, these recollections may be something new for those who have learned of my blog site only recently and also for those who have short memories.

I would like to share also the fact that a cousin of Rizalina Driz (the girl I mentioned in the article below) surprised me with an e-mail, saying that she was altogether amazed and amused to stumble upon my blog site by chance and find the name of her cousin Rizalina.

Rizalina Driz was a classmate of mine in elementary whom I last saw in the late '70s, so you can imagine my surprise to "hear" something about her after more than two decades. I hope that Rizalina herself was able to read this particular entry.

Don't you find this weird—getting reconnected with old friends and acquaintances whom you've never seen or even heard of for so many years?

For me, it's like being transformed into a child once again. The memories that I got to share with these childhood friends suddenly play in my mind like a rerun set in slow motion.

I just close my eyes and smile and I'm a cute little boy once again.

Plucking Leafs from My Tree of Memories
Chapter One
The First Leaves

(Originally posted on October 31, 2004)

I was about six years old when I first had the narcissistic idea that I would be great someday—when my father told me, “Para kang si Jose Rizal, ah! mahilig magbasa at magsulat.”

At the age of five, prior to entering kindergarten in 1976, I was already fond of writing, listing different words and names of objects, persons, and places in a notebook my father gave me and of listening awestruck to his folktales and Greek-mythology stories. (Yes, at that age I could already write name-words; just ignore most of my spellings.) I used to list names of different kinds of animals, superheroes, countries, and even plate numbers and models of vehicles. (Perhaps, from this childhood hobby where my love for details and trivia originated.)

And, yeah! I would even draw the flags of different countries, the illustrations of which I would copy from the encyclopedias and books with which my father used to surprise me. (I remember always feeling challenged every time I tried drawing the flag of Saudi Arabia, which to this day remains to be the flag I’m most fascinated with.)

Speaking of Rizal, I suddenly remembered the name of my first-ever crush—Rizalina Driz, a classmate in Grade One (1977–1978), at St. Mary’s Academy in Pasay City, Metro Manila, whose distinctively round face, 'apple-cut' hair, and the prominent mole just above her right cheek I can still vividly imagine. My father used to tease me back then: “Bagay kayo ng classmate mo: Rizalina, tapos ikaw Rizal.” However, so young and virtually innocent as I was, simple smiles and silly stares sufficed what I felt for Riz.

The most enduring, earliest memory I can recall of my childhood was a typical child's naughtiness I did in 1975—Uncle Roland (Aranzamendez) who was on a vacation from California, United States, gave the children an enormous chocolate bar.

The chocolate was kept in the fridge, intended to be divided among the children after the usual for-adults-only chitchats that grace every family reunion. Impatient as I was, I sneaked into the kitchen and spirited away the huge bar of gold from the cold treasure chest and then hid under the mahjong table and started to feast on my delicious find.

I can no longer recall what exactly happened next, after they discovered that the children's treasure was missing and found me under the table, with my shirt and face full of sticky sweet brown mess.

Ba, Ba, Black Sheep

(Originally posted on February 21, 2005)

Plucking Leafs from My Tree of Memories
Chapter Three
"Ba, Ba, Black Sheep"

Ba, Ba, black sheep, have you any wool?
Yes, sir, yes, sir, three bags full.
One for my master, one for the Dane;
One for the little boy who lives down the lane.
Ba, Ba, black sheep, have you any wool?
Yes, sir, Yes, sir, three bags full.

---------------------------—C. M. Wiske, 1881

In 1976, I was in kindergarten at St. Mary's Academy, Pasay City, Metro Manila. I surprised my parents with the title role in the performance of "Ba, Ba, Black Sheep" in a school program. Only during the event did my parents know that I was acting the main role in the presentation.

It was the first time I truly felt my mother's pride in me; although, she would afterwards always tease me of my shyness—all throughout my performance I was holding the tip of my short pants.

That program, I believe, was the catalyst of my fondness for performing onstage and in front of many people. I'd since then become active in school programs, clubs, and other extracurricular activities, joining campaigns and quiz bees as well—school events in which I would delight through highschool until my College days at University of Sto. Tomas (Manila), where I won a place in an Inter-College Quiz Bee, and at Family Clinic Colleges, where I was a regular contributor to our school paper.

My first taste of performing onstage in front of a large audience became a regular and fulfilling hobby soon after I formed a New Wave band in highschool, with myself as the lead vocalist.

This band, Half Life Half Death, would consequently take my highschool friends and me to greater heights. It gave us a chance commercially to record an album of original songs, which paved way to countless and memorable appearances/guestings on television, radio, newspapers, and magazines.

The little shy boy who once performed "Ba, Ba, Black Sheep" timidly in elementary has grown up to become a gregarious and sociable youthful man who can now sing or speak in front of a crowd without much hesitation.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Don't Believe Everything You Hear

January 16, 2006

Nothing much to do, again, during those painfully restless moments before sleeptime, I immerse again myself into the escapist's world of music and literature.

Half a dozen albums I've been listening to for the past couple of nights:
1. Lowlife - From a Scream to a Whisper, 1990
2. Rumblefish - Everything Electrical, 1992
3. The Desert Wolves - Pontification, 1988
4. Balloon - Gravity, 1992
5. The Ocean Blue - The Ocean Blue, 1989
6. The Ocean Blue - Beneath the Rhythm and Sound, 1993

My current half a dozen favorite songs:
1. Lowlife - "Ramafied" and "Hollow Gut"
2. Rumblefish - "What You Do to Me"
3. The Desert Wolves - "Mexico" and "Speak to Me, Rochelle"
4. Balloon - "Transfixion"
5. The Ocean Blue - "Ask Me, Jon" and "Sublime"
6. Monaco - "I've Got a Feeling"


A dozen books I will be ordering at Chapters online:
1. The Chronicles of Narnia (Complete, Movie Tie-in Edition) by C(live) S(taples) Lewis
2. The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan
3. The Moon Lady by Amy Tan
4. Monsters & Aliens from George Lucas by Bob Carrau
5. Lucas Aliens Chronicles Book One: The Golden One by Deborah Chester
6. Lucas Aliens Chronicles Book Three: Crystal Eye by Deborah Chester


A dozen DVDs I watched (some, rewatched) in the past few days:
1. Italian Job
2. The Chronicles of Narnia
3. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
6. The Memoirs of a Geisha
7. The King of the World (I didn't like this big time!)
8. The Aviator
9. The Usual Suspects
10. Vanilla Sky
11. Pacific Heights
12. Just like Heaven

"Find someone to spend the rest of your life with, and as soon as you find her, hold on tight and never let go...cherish her like treasured childhood memories."

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Fortunately I Don't Believe In

First two weeks of January 2006

Nothing much. The mind of your pesky eLf is still on a hiatus. Two weeks to go and we're back in Winnipeg, Manitoba. My creativity is at its lowest and laziest.

The Yuletide season passed me by without a big bang. Nonetheless, my relatives here in Ontario are very accommodating, kind, and considerate. I always feel at-home. Lola Flor keeps on encouraging me that, in case I've already received my Canadian immigrant status, I transfer here.

Ontario is relatively much more livable (in my standards) than Manitoba. I am considering relocating here as soon as I become able.


Last Saturday, I finally met up with Elaine Tan Chua, a former officemate of mine at Quorum/Lanier (Phils.), 1996-1999. She lives in Scarborough, another Ontarian city. Cousin Rommel dropped me off at Kipling Subway Station, where Elaine would be meeting me.

Elaine toured me around downtown Toronto; her treat. Thanks, Elaine! We went to CN Tower, which is accordingly the highest tower in the world. The day was a bit uncooperative--snowing and breeze blowing. Regardless, the weather was not that cold. In fact, walking in the snow was quite "cool," figuratively, and literally of course.

We had lunch at Harvey's by the Union Station.

Afterwards, we passed through Eaton (Shopping) Centre.

I was still looking for a damn pair of fancy-colored Doc Martens boots. Finally, we found some shoe shops along Yonge Street that carry DM boots. I found the colors I was looking for--purple and green. Unfortunately, no size fit! Blast them!

First time to board a subway and a cable car in Ontario--reminded me of the SkyTrain system in British Columbia.

We went to a Chinatown, where we had dinner, at Pho 88 Vietnamese Restaurant.

Both Elaine and I had our digital cameras with us, so we were able to take photographs of the day's highlights. Unfortunately, the PC I'm presently using is slow so I couldn't upload pictures. I'll just post them as soon as I get back in Winnipeg.


I just finished reading Red Flower of China by Zhai Zhenhua (I recently bought for only C$3) and The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan (I borrowed from cousin Jhucel). Great books. I've long noticed that books by Chinese authors have a certain spell on me.


I already met up with my friend Jessel Baltazar, who lives here in Mississauga, Ontario. He lent me a couple of books and DVDs. I finished watching the entire 15-VCD Daimos collection in less than a week. Oh, Erika and Richard...transcended me back to my elementary days in the late '70s.


Cousins Rommel and Jhucel invited me to watch a movie at AMC Theatres, Fun with Dick and Jane. Good movie, especially that it's a Jim Carrey starrer.


Since Monday, I've been the one picking up my cousin Jasmine at school. And it was fun. Considering my condition, the mere activity of walking from the house to her school was therapeutic. At least, I get to breathe fresh air on my own.


This is it for now. I feel weird...always in a hurry to write a ponderous piece, and my mind is a bit disorganized these days. What a way to greet the New Year. Luckily I don't believe in omens.