The Return of eLf ideas

ideas of an eLven being in Canada

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Siakol with haLf man haLf eLf in Winnipeg

August 2006 pictures
.Filipino Alternative band Siakol arriving at Winnipeg International Airport on August 20, 2006, for their concert at Philippine-Canadian Centre of Manitoba

Relatives of Siakol's manager Jason Gerodias who live in Winnipeg; Jason last saw his relatives 28 years ago

I with Siakol's bassist, Wowie Flores, and Jaizen (son of friend Jason Paredes, who produced the Siakol concert in Winnipeg)

with Siakol's vocalist, Noel Palomo, and Jaizen again

Siakol's Wowie Flores (bassist), Miniong Cervantes (guitarist), and James Rodriguez (drummer) with the eLf


haLf man haLf eLf's practice sessions at Roy's basement, in preparation for the Siakol concert

Abet, bassist; Tenten, drummer, Roy, guitarist; eLf, vocalist and keyboardist

"We used to cry about the days when one of us might fall..."

"Show me, show me, show me how you do that trick..."

"Moving forward, using all my breath..."

"Here I come, my brilliant friend, knocking on your heart again..."

More pictures soon...

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Always Saturday

August 26, 2006

The past week was very relaxing and therapeutic, considering that I have been working really hard, sometimes even accepting double shifts a day--7:30 a.m. to 11:45 p.m.--at my job at Riverview Health Centre as a healthcare aide.

As usual, I worked at A&W Restaurant from Monday to Wednesday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. I'm already comfortable with the work routine there; I just need some more exposure with the drive-thru, which usually gives me a rush especially when customers come in quick succession. But I like it that way, because time flies by like a peregrine falcon when you're absorbed in what you're doing. Besides, doing nothing makes me feel useless.

After my work at A&W, I headed to the house of my friend and bandmate Roy, where my band haLf man haLf eLf had a practice session in preparation for the Siakol concert on Saturday. The practice was fruitful. We were able to polish our playlist. Our new drummer Ten-ten's work ethics reminded me of my best-friend and former bandmate with Half Life Half Death Bimbo Ballesteros, who was always punctual and always arrived well prepared.

I went to Garden City Shopping Centre after my work at A&W; came there at around seven. I met with the publisher of Philippine Times, another newspaper here in Winnipeg. After an engaging conversation, she discussed the writing style that she wanted of me for her newspaper. It would be something like an editorial, in which I would state or present an issue and then give my opinion and observation about it, using a combination of sarcasm and humor. This, I said, I could try working on. I proceeded to Roy's after the meeting and had another band practice. Abet with his family dropped me off home afterwards.

After lunch, I went to the house of my friend Jimboy, president of Famous, an association of bands here in Winnipeg. He would be taking Siakol to Pampanga Restaurant, the owner of which would be treating us to a free buffet dinner.

We proceeded to Jim's place afterwards, where several more friends arrived for a get-together. Siakol members were down-to-earth. I was also flattered because they knew my band Half Life Half Death. They even sang to some of my erstwhile band's songs when Jim played our CD--songs like "Alimango," "Kapit-Tuko," and especially "High School (Life)."

Roy arrived and we went to their place and had a short practice, and then we returned to Jim's.

I went to Computer Boulevard on St. James to buy some blank CD-Rs. I proceeded to Jason's house around four. Siakol was having a practice session there. Around 6:30 they dropped me off at Roy's. There'd be a small gig at Howard Johnson Hotel in the evening, a sort of a press conference for Siakol.

My band haLf man haLf eLf played a set. It was a tighter set compared to the ones we had in the previous gigs.

I slept over at Roy's. And now, after this blog entry, I'll be heading home. I'll be coming with my relatives to the christening of the son of my cousin Heinjie. Lunch.

I'll just head to PCCM afterwards--the venue of the Siakol concert which happens later today. I need to be at the venue for the soundcheck.

Song for the day: "Always Saturday" by Guadalcanal Diary

Monday, August 21, 2006

When the Piper Calls

August 21, 2006

Holiday in the Philippines, Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino's death anniversary. Not in Canada. Today's just another working day.

Yesterday, Sunday, August 20, we had dinner at Tita Cora's house. Some of my friends were there, including Norne who dropped me off at my friend Jason's house. I'd be joining them in picking up Siakol at Winnipeg International Airport.

Some more friends were there to pick up the band, who came from the Montreal, Quebec, leg of their Canadian Tour. We wanted to give Siakol a warm welcome, especially that they are visitors from the Philippines.

Siakol's flight arrived at around 10 p.m. Picture taking. The band comprised of Noel, Miniong, Wowie, and James with their manager Jason (not Jason my friend here).

We all proceeded to Roy's house, who prepared food for dinner.

The get-together ended at around 1 a.m. I slept over there. I had work at A&W in the morning.

Today, Monday, I was supposed to join Jason and Siakol in the radio guesting at CKJS, a Winnipeg-based Filipino radio station. Too tired, I decided not to go. Besides, I had work at A&W.

After my shift at A&W, around 6 p.m., I went to the nearby Salon de Manila (at the PCCM establishment). I had a haircut and, in a spur of mood, I had my hair dyed with streaks of red, in time for our concert on August 26, Saturday, as one of the front acts of Siakol.


While at the salon, the owner of The Filipino Journal, Mr. Rod Cantiveros, dropped by to drop off copies of the latest issue. The current article for my Engkanto series is there, "Some More Bantay-Katubigan Deities."

When I was working at Riverview last weekend, I met a sister of the publisher of another community newspaper based here in Winnipeg, The Philippine Times. When the person, named Tess, learned that I'm currently a columnist at The Filipino Journal, she invited me to give her brother a call, whom she said would most likely be interested in having me as a contributor for the newspaper. Another streak of luck! It's really helpful that I'm starting to build a connection here where I am, not for the purpose of asking favors but primarily for the purpose of increasing my chances of getting opportunities in whatever field or career.

Just a while ago, I called the brother, named Orlie Marcelino, the publisher of The Philippine Times. The result of that short phone conversation was promising. We'd be meeting on Wednesday to talk about my interest to write for the newspaper. I've also learned that, in the past, he illustrated for Adarna Books, a publisher of children's books based in the Philippines. When he learned, in turn, that I became an editor at Diwa Publishing, handling English Grammar & Literature and Science & Technology, and that I can also write about History, Music, and Culture, he became more interested. I just hope that our meeting on Wednesday will bear some fruits.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. shift at A&W Restaurant; afterwards, I'll proceed to Roy's; we have a band practice. I might sleep over there again.

Eventhough my body is kind of tired because of my jobs, I'm in high spirits because of the little opportunities that continue to greet me as I trek my path here in Canada.

I have received many e-mails from friends from far away, extending their congratulations for my newfound jobs, for the forthcoming granting of my permanent resident status, and for haLf man haLf eLf's gig with Siakol on Saturday.

Thank you once again. As I always say, mere letters are potent enough to keep my passion for life burning.

Song for the day: "When the Piper Calls" by China Crisis

Sunday, August 20, 2006

haLf man haLf eLf strikes again

August 17, 2006

Today's the birthday of my sister Karen. My wish for her is that her and her son Algae's immigration to the US may finally push through next year. My nephew Algae is already eleven, and assimilating American Culture is riper for his age.


After my work shift at A&W Restaurant, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., I called the office of my other job to ask if there was an available evening shift at Riverview Health Centre. I was in the mood to work all day. Unfortunately, my call was too late. Naiasha the scheduler told me that she left a message at home, informing me to return call to confirm if I could work in the afternoon. And when it was already past 12 and I was not yet returning her call, she had to find another healthcare aide. I went to the office instead to get my first pay cheque.

As soon as I got my first salary as a healthcare aide, my weariness from work suddenly disappeared. I couldn't believe that I earned that much, to think that I worked only for a total of 55 hours. I immediately mentally calculated 55 hours x 12 dollars per hour.

Finally I was able to buy a new knapsack, to replace my old one, the one I was using since I arrived here in Canada in 2003. Goodbye finally, my torn and tattered blue backpack. Hello, my brand new pink one!

Passing by a comics and toys hobby shop in downtown, I checked out some action figures on sale. After less than an hour, I left the store with 3 DC superhero action figures for only $5 each--Elongated Man, Black Hand, and Max Mercury.

Friday, August 18, I didn't have work. I got to rest the whole morning. After lunch, I went to the bank and deposited my first pay cheque. I proceeded to Polo Park Shopping Centre and met my friend Jason, who accompanied me to Mother's Music Store, where I rented the keyboard that I would be using for my band's practices in preparation for our concert on August 26, as a front act for Siakol.

I said in a previous blog entry that I wouldn't be accepting a healthcare job on the weekends; but when the agency called me and asked me to take a morning shift, I felt that I would be wasting money. I worked after all--both yesterday and today (Saturday and Sunday). I was assigned at Riverview Health Centre, on Morley Avenue, in Osborne Village. I like working at that facility, which was clean and more well-organized compared with the other health centers I'm also working at. Another great thing about Riverview is that Internet use is free during break times.

Last night, my band haLf man haLf eLf had our first practice in preparation for the Siakol gig on August 26. We'd be playing a 30-minute set, consisting of six songs: "I Melt with You" (Modern English), "Just like Heaven" (The Cure), "More to Lose" (Seona Dancing), "Enjoy the Silence" (Depeche Mode), "For Her Brilliance" (original), and "High School (Life)" (the version of my former band Half Life Half Death). The current lineup of haLf man haLf eLf are me (vocals and keyboards), Dirty Roy (guitars and backing vocals), Abet (bass), and Ten-ten (drums). All I wish is for us to deliver a tight set.

Today, Sunday, I worked a day shift (7:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.) at Riverview Health Centre. Aboard a bus on my way home, heavy rain poured without a warning. Fortunately, there's a covered waiting shed by the Manila/Jefferson bus stop at which I was alighting. I was stuck there for about thirty minutes. I waited until I was sure that the rain had really stopped.

Siakol members will arrive later, coming from the Montreal, Quebec, leg of their Canadian tour. My friend Jason Paredes is the producer of the concert. I'll be joining him in picking up Siakol at the airport. Their plane will arrive at 10 p.m. We'll proceed to the house of Roy, who will give Siakol a welcome barbecue get-together.

Tomorrow morning, around 7:30 a.m., Siakol including my band haLf man haLf eLf and the rest of the bands opening for the August 26 gig (FourSight, Resurrection, and Toronto's AB Noize) will be guesting at CKJS, a Filipino radio station based here in Winnipeg.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I Will Not Take These Things for Granted

August 16, 2006

I just got home from my work at A&W Restaurant. A tough afternoon it was, once again. For a few hours, I practically manned both the drive-thru and the inside cashiering. I began doing this last Monday. Considering today was only my third day to do that feat, I pulled it off relatively well, with help from the manager whenever customers would arrive in a succession.

What I found difficult with the drive-thru was understanding the accent of some of the customers, who were diverse. Funnily, I could somehow guess correctly if the race of the speaker was Indian, Filipino, or Caucasian. Verbal English really comes in various flavors of accents and pronunciation. Being attentive to all of them, I've started to imitate each accent depending on my whim. I was really having fun. I am proud to say that I, compared to some of my Caucasian coworkers who are also assigned at the front area, usually evoke more smiles and warmth. Some of my coworkers tend to be serious-looking and robotic in their manner of greeting and selling.

Wary of getting shouted at or of earning annoyance if ever I make a boo-boo, I immediately greet the customers warmly as soon as they enter the establishment and approach the counter. Seeing me smiling, they have no choice but to be kind with me as well.

I've also applied the upselling and suggestive selling technique pretty well. Usually, I use a little bit of psychology. I could somehow sense when a customer knows exactly what s/he wants to order; in this case, I minimize suggesting too much add-ons. But every time I sense that the customer is indecisive with what s/he wants to order, that's when I begin to offer the specials and the other related stuff. Suggestive selling involves psychology. I should be sensitive to the current mood and personality of the person in front of me, lest I'd surely annoy her.

The healthcare agency called this morning, assigning me to an evening shift tomorrow, 3:30 p.m. to 11:45 p.m. In the morning, I'd be working at A&W, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., so tomorrow will be a long day.

I decided not to accept work on Saturday and Sunday; I have reserved the weekend for practice sessions of my band haLf man haLf eLf. We would be opening for Siakol on their gig here in Winnipeg, on August 26; less than two weeks more to go.

Today is Grandfather's 40th day of demise. There are visitors in the house right now, ready for the prayer session. While I--am here in the basement, writing this entry.

On my way home, I'm always on earphones, listening to music. This lightens up my day. Songs for today include the following:

The Cutting Crew - "Any Colour"
The Cutting Crew - "One for the Mockingbird"
Lowlife - "Ramafied"
Lowlife - "River of Woe"
The Rain - "Girl in Mind"
The Rain - "Perfect Moment"
Sugar - "If I Can't Change Your Mind"
Sugar - "Helpless"
Toad the Wet Sprocket - "I Will Not Take These Things for Granted"
Toad the Wet Sprocket - "One Wind Blows"
They Might Be Giants - "Birdhouse in Your Soul"
They Might Be Giants - "Dr. Worm"
Translator - "Come with Me"
Translator - "Gravity"
Ultravox - "One Small Day"
Ultravox - "Dancing with Tears in My Eyes"
The Wallflowers UK - "Blushing Girl, Nervous Smile"
The Wallflowers UK - "Thank You"

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The return of the unstuck

August 15, 2006

Haynaku! Ang Kapalaran talaga, ayaw nang makita siguro na nagagalit ako. Hahaha! E paano, kanina lang e naisulat ko na naman ang aking pagkaasar sa sitwasyon ko--na kelangan kong maglakad lagi nang bente-minutos na layo, t'wing papasok sa trabaho at uuwi pagkatapos.

Tapos e nung umakyat na ako para mag-merienda (nasa basement yung PC ko, at derecho agad ako rito pag-uwi galing sa trabaho), e may nakapatong na mail sa lamesa. Galing sa Canadian Immigration, sabi sa sulat e "you have an appointment with Canadian Immigration on September 11, for the granting of your Permanent Residence status. Please bring your passport, all the immigration documents previously issued to you, and two photographs which will be used for your Permanent Resident Card..."

Yehey! Canadian immigrant na ako sa wakas! Tatlong taong paghihintay! Mabait pa rin talaga ang Kapalaran sa akin. Salamat ha?

Sabagay, hindi naman p'wedeng masarap tuluy-tuloy. May maliliit na pagsubok at paghihirap pa rin, di ba? Kelangan kong tandaan 'yan. S'yempre nga naman kung panay sarap e mawawalan na ng saysay ang aking pakikibaka.

Ika nga, Life--to remain exciting and worth living--must have challenges and little pains and struggles.

O ayan, nakangiti na uli ako.

Natanggal bigla ang pagod ko.

Maiba ako, yung isa ko nga palang kaibigan dito, Chit ang pangalan n'ya--Registered Nurse rin sa Pilipinas, nagpunta rito para mapabuti ang buhay, nag-take ng Provincial Nursing Licensure Exam several months ago, bumagsak. Then, last June, nag-second take s'ya. Ayun, sa awa ng Kapalaran, lumabas na yung resulta--pasado! Congrats!

Na-inspire tuloy ako na planuhin na ang pagkuha ko ng refresher course at ang pag-challenge ng Nursing exam.

Aba, starting salary ng R.N. dito e $28 to 35 per hour! Samantalang ang minimum wage e $7.50 per hour lang. Ang sinasahod ko sa A&W Restaurant e $7.75 per hour, habang sa trabaho ko naman sa nursing homes e $12. Layo ng diperensya, 'no?

E di lalo na kung maging nars na rin ako. Sana nga e matupad ko ang plano kong ito.

Promise, magpapakabait pa akong lalo, magiging mas matulungin pa sa kapwa, mas mapagmahal sa mga tunay na kaibigan at sa pamilya ko at sa aking minamahal, at magiging mas maunawain pa sa mga taong hindi ko masyado gusto ang ugali.

Basta tulungan sana ako ng Kapalaran na tuparin ang mga mithi ko, para naman sa kabutihan lahat ito e.

Kahit malaki na ang sinasahod ko e mananatili akong mapagbigay. Tutulungan ko ang mga kapatid ko sa Pilipinas sa pagpapaaral ng mga anak nila, mga mahal kong pamangkin. Lagi kong padadalhan ang mommy at daddy ko. Yung utang ko sa mga inaanak ko e ibibigay ko pag-uwi ko. At higit sa lahat, makakabili na ako ng sarili kong sasakyan, bahay, at maraming-maraming books at action figures.

At higit sa lahat, pag marami na akong pera, maipapa-publish ko na ang books na sinulat ko. At makakapag-recording na ako uli ng mga kantang na-compose ko na hindi nakasama sa mga releases ng dati kong banda. May pambayad na ako sa recording studio.

Panay pangarap...panay plano...

S'yempre naman. Lahat naman ng tao e ganyan. At nararapat lang. 'yan ang dahilan kumbakit tayo nabubuhay--ang bigyan ng saysay at katuturan ang ating buhay.

Pero ako naman e marunong magpasalamat at mag-share ng biyaya. Kaya okey lang na mangarap at umasam, di ba?

O siya, tuloy na naman ang ligaya. Tanggal na naman ang bagot at pagkaasar ko.

Napapakanta na naman ako...

O eto, my two current favorite Cure songs, "Return" from the 1996 album Wild Mood Swings:

Oh I really love it here!
Oh you've thought of it all!
Candlelight! coconut ice! and fur on the floor!
And I really love the way you wear your hair
And nothing more...
So tell me...
What is going on?
I was sure that I'd already gone...

But all you say is we're all spinning
It's really not just me
But that doesn't seem to help me figure out how I can be
A prisoner in pvc a minute after three...
It didn't used to be like this
Must be all that sleep I missed...

Yeah but I really love it here!
You've done everything to please!

and "Doing the Unstuck" from 1992's Wish:

It's a perfect day for letting go for setting fire to bridges
boats and other dreary worlds you know
Let's get happy!

It's a perfect day for making out
to wake up with a smile without a doubt
to burst grin giggle bliss skip jump and sing and shout let's get happy!

Do monks gnash their teeth once in a while, because of annoyance?


To all who took the time to appreciate and compliment me...thank you very much. However,

Please don't think that I'm that cool and good and that calmness and contentment have finally settled in my heart. Not yet!

I may have begun to earn my own money, but I am yet really to live on my own.

ALL I WISH right now is to have a fulltime job so I can move out of my relatives' house. The primary reason is nothing personal, but it's just that--I already blogged about this before--I'm already tired of having to cover a twenty-minute-walk distance from the house to the bus stop and vice versa when I get home. I couldn't remain in that situation, especially come Wintertime. I really need to have a vehicle of my own, but no matter if I learn how to drive quickly, my road test is scheduled not until February of next year, so whatever happens, I will certainly experience commuting during the Winter.

No person has the ability to walk that far when the temperature is below zero. And no person has the ability to get me out of this pathetic and miserable situation--no one will find a solution but myself.

I need security, certainty, and genuine concern.

How I wish that I can be out of anyone's debt of gratitude soon.

When Grandfather was still alive, I gave ALL that I could sacrifice--without accepting equal returns. Now that I'm the one who's needing basic support, I couldn't have it from anyone. I'm broad-minded, so I understand that people just couldn't, simply because they also have schedules and other preoccupations of their own.

But I'm still on my homestudy of Social Psychology, and because of this I'm becoming an expert in reading intentions, purposes, concerns, and motives.

All I want in the near future is to be able to live on my own, without having to be a "burden" to anyone, and at the same time, without feeling that my having to live with others is a burden on my own.

I have two options:

A friend who is soon renting an apartment is inviting me to join him and another common friend and share the rent with them, $300 monthly per individual.

Another friend, who owns a house, is offering a room for only $250 monthly, house's utilities may be used for free.

Both places are near bus stops. The first friend needs me so as to make the share of rent lesser. The other friend is offering a room in his house because he knew that I am having a hard time commuting. Two similar offers, two different reasons of offer.

Who, do you think, is the best choice? Hmm.

I'm sure that many will find what I'm writing here a bit cryptic and vague. But, I intend it to be this way.

All you need to do right now is read between the lines.

I have been reading between the lines most of my life here in Canada.

Once and for all, I no longer want to read between the lines. That Life is a poetry is already too much for me.

Right now, I want my Life to return to being a simple prose.

My short-term goal: ultimate independence as soon as possible.

When I finally have the chance to live in a rented room or apartment, my routine will be work-house, and I'll be okay with that. I will try to be a monk once again--this time, a monk for my own sake and not for anyone else's.

Long live the eLf! Long live the monk!

We travel on the road to adventure

"When we are young
Wandering the face of the earth
Wondering what our dreams might be worth
Learning that we're only immortal--
For a limited time"

Songs that fired me up today:

Queensryche - "Silent Lucidity"
Savatage - "All that I Bleed"
Bon Jovi - "Blood on Blood"
(Jefferson) Starship - "We Built This City"
Aerosmith - "Dream On"
Alan Parsons Project - "Eye in the Sky"
Alias - "More than Words Can Say"
Asia - "Heat of the Moment"
Bryan Adams - "Summer of '69"
Damn Yankees - "High Enough"
Darkness, the - "I Believe in a Thing called Love"
Deep Purple - "Burn"
Dire Straits - "Walk of Life"
Eric Johnson - "Cliffs of Dover"
Extreme - "Rest in Peace"
Faith No More - "Epic"
Gary Hoey - "Hocus Pocus"
Guns n' Roses - "Sweet Child o' Mine"
Iron Maiden - "Aces High"
Joe Satriani - "Surfing with an Alien"
Judas Priest - "Living After Midnight"
Lenny Kravitz - "Are You Gonna Go My Way?"
Lita Ford - "Kiss Me Deadly"
Megadeth - "Mary Jane"
Metallica - "Ride the Lightning"
Mr. Big - "Addicted to That Rush"
Ozzy Osbourne - "Mama, I'm Coming Home"
Poison - "Something to Believe In"
Queen - "Bohemian Rhapsody"
Quiet Riot - "Come On Feel the Noise"
REO Speedwagon - "In My Dreams"
Rolling Stones, the - "Ruby Tuesday"
Rush - "Dreamline"
Saigon Kick - "Love Is on the Way"
Scatterbrain - "Don't Call Me Dude"
Shotgun Messiah - "The Explorer"
Skid Row - "18 and Life"
Slaughter - "Fly to the Angels"
Slayer - "South of Heaven"
Steppenwolf - "Born to be Wild"
Steve Miller Band - "Abracadabra"
Steve Vai - "I Would Love To"
Stryper - "The Way"
Stu Hamm - "Terminal Beach"
Styx - "The Best of Times"
Supertramp - "The Logical Song"
Twisted Sister - "We're Not Gonna Take It"

Monday, August 14, 2006

Three years equals a million of moments

August 14, 2006

I survived the darkest years of my life!
...with a refurbished sense of purpose and self-confidence.

Exactly three years ago, I was aboard a Philippine Airlines plane, on a flight to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Yes, three years had passed. A hell of a tough ride that was! Those who know me, as well as those who regularly read my blog site are most likely privy of most of my adventures and misadventures here--which include all the bouts of homesickness, loneliness, disappointments, struggles, frustrations, resentments, complaints, whines...

At last! I'm past all that! I couldn't believe that I'm, after all, a strong and persevering individual. There were many times that I entertained the idea of returning home prematurely. There were times when I felt that I'd be in darkness and helplessness forever. But I soldiered on, rising above my doubts and fears.

I want to believe that I've become a stronger and better person, now more focused and mature.

Now having two wonderful jobs (add to that, my work as a writer with The Filipino Journal), and continuing to gain countless friends and to get reconnected with so many long-lost friends and relatives, and having maintained my relations with my family and sweetheart despite my distance, I am finally out of darkness. I can finally see the light shining on me. I'm happy and confident once again.

Most of all, I'm useful to myself once again. Finally I'm really out in Canada, able to prove that all my talents and skills are at par with those of many people here.

And grateful as I always am, to the Fates and my Supreme Being, I thank them once again for all the good things and opportunities that they started to lay generously on my path.

And so my dreams continue...

And so I go on spreading my wings...

Like a real fairy.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Recent Picventures in Manitoba, 2006


July 21, waiting for a bus on Keewatin Street, on my way to downtown, to the healthcare agency that hired me as a healthcare aide, to submit some requirements

July 21, walking in Downtown Winnipeg, along Portage Avenue

July 22, at a Folklorama Festival event at Garden City Shopping Centre, with two Irish people representing their culture
July 18, a Caucasian lady who was helpful enough to tell me how to go to Services Canada in Downtown Winnipeg, where I renewed my SIN card (Social Insurance Number)
July 18, in front of Winnipeg Convention Centre in downtown
July 19, all ready for my first driving-lesson session
My fears and apprehension disappeared as soon as I started to drive.
July 22, with cousins Weng and Norne and friend Haydee, at the Famous Players Cinema in Polo Park, Winnipeg
July 20, while strolling by myself around downtown, I stumbled upon this used-books store named Aqua Books; I left the shop after more than an hour, with a bag full of goodies (Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt; One Hundred Modern Poems, edited by Selden Rodman; To My Husband & Other Poems by Anne Bradstreet; George Lucas (biography) by Dana White; Weird Sister by Kate Pullinger; The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Classical Music by Lionel Salter) All these for only C$23.32

July 22, with friend King and cousin Weng, on our way to Myrna's Filipino Restaurant on Sargent Avenue, where we had lunch prior to going to Polo Park Shopping Centre

Friday, August 11, 2006

Some more things I learned in my being away from home

...the best persons to which you can run in times of neediness and sadness are your siblings and closest relations. could never move on with your life and be happy once again if traces of ill feelings remain in your heart.

...blessings do come, really, they do...really.

...I will keep on documenting my Life, which from now on I'd regard as a Book that has no Ending. the Great Scheme of Existence, there are really no sad or happy endings...simply because Life has no ending; it does not end; it goes on and on; all I can do is continue living, wishing, dreaming, and hoping.

...I once said that "how can I forgive people who never ask for forgiveness?" Now, I rephrase my take on that insight: "I should always forgive including people who don't know how to ask for forgiveness--for I'm doing this especially for my own sake--for how can I move on with my life and be happy once again if traces of resentments and ill feelings remain in my heart? I grow older I become wiser, more considerate and less temperamental, but nevertheless youthful and childlike. distance from them continues to make me more expressive of my feelings for my loved ones and friends.

...books, music, and my literary pen will always be my solace.

...from every person with whom I get acquainted, I learn so many things--things which I can use for my well-being...things which I can as well share with others for their own well-being.

...I still believe in my own Supreme Being, and this continues to make me a better person--to myself, to others, and to the environment.

...magic and miracles do happen, really, they do...really. And we are magicians and miracle makers, once in a while, in each of our own ways.

"One written word is worth a thousand pieces of gold."--Adelaine Yen Mah, one of my favorite Chinese authors

Thursday, August 10, 2006

a dozen and a haLf songs

in repeat mode today:
1 000 Violins - "If Only Words"
16 Tambourines - "When Lovers Walk"
Acid House Kings - "Song of the Colour Red"
Adorable - "Glorious"
Barenaked Ladies - "You Will Be Waiting"
The Bluebells - "Wishful Thinking (Will She Always Be Waiting)"
Blur - "The Universal"
The Boo Radleys - "Find the Answer Within"
The Dambuilders - "Candy/Guts"
The Desert Wolves - "Love Scattered Lives"
The Long Winters - "Hindsight"
Maritime - "We Don't Think, We Know"
Phoenix - "Consolation Prizes"
Roddy Woodle - "Under My Breath"
The Sleepy Jackson - "I Understand What You Want but I Just Don't Agree"
That Petrol Emotion - "Under the Sky"
The Wake - "Talk about the Past"
Youth Group - "Sorry"

"As we walk together through the autumn, nearing winter
Through the dying leaves and trees we call our home and native land..."

Monday, August 07, 2006

Patience, my Padawan

August 7, 2006
Civic Day

August 5 to 7 is long weekend. Today, Monday, is Civic Day. My relatives with some friends went camping at Tito Ren's cottage lot in Manipogo, a town three-hours' drive away from Winnipeg where we are. I was unable to go with them. I had work. That's okay. After almost three years of earning nothing and feeling useless and a bit worthless, I'd rather spend time working at my jobs than going on holidays.

Last week, from Monday to Wednesday, I worked at A& second week there. I'm learning the job fairly quickly. I'm manning now the cash register with confidence. I just needed assistance every time the order went with coupons. But at the rate I'm coping, I'm feeling relaxed and comfortable.

Thursday, I finally bought uniforms for my healthcare aide job.

Friday, I thought I'd be spending the day home, watching DVDs or listening to music, but in the morning A&W called, asking me to work, 11:00 a.m. till 4:00 p.m. Of course, I said yes. The day was busy, but I like it better that way. Time flies when both of your hands are full.

The credit-card machine was not working. My coworkers made a sign which read: Credit card machine is TEMPORARELY unavailable. Sorry for the INCONVINIENCE.

Fortunately I saw what they were making, and I overheard that they were figuring out the spellings of the words. I offered my services, of course.


After work, before catching the bus home, I dropped by the nearby Sir William Stephenson Public Library to apply for a library card. After a few minutes, I went home with borrowed stuff: 2 DVDs--The Terminal (Tom Hanks, Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Seabiscuit (Tobey Maguire)--and 5 CDs--The Lemonheads' Car Button Cloth, The Rockin' Highliners' Sputnik Cafe, The Smashing Pumpkins' Machina, Tears for Fears' Everybody Loves a Happy Ending, and XTC's English Settlement.

Health Care Aide
I was despatched to another nursing home. This time, Tache Centre, on Despins Street. I worked there on Saturday and yesterday, Sunday, both in the evening shift--3:15 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Compared with the tasks and routines at Tuxedo Villa, those at Tache Centre were easier. The atmosphere was relaxed. I did fairly well. Thanks to the healthcare aide who was my partner for those two days, Adolph Ibalama, a Black from the African country of Congo. He was serious, and he seldom laughed. But I found him okay, especially that he always gave me pieces of advice. He kept on telling me, "Be brave and focused. Maintain your composure and self-confidence. Don't panic."

At the rate I'm learning, I'm certain that I will be a good nurse someday. Years ago, I couldn't picture myself working as a nurse; but now, everything's clear. My having taken B.S. Nursing in College was not a mistake after all.

Journalism and Creative Writing were my real choices when I was in fourth-year highschool. But eventhough I didn't have the chance to take these courses, I still became a writer. And because of this, I'll always be grateful. In the end, I was able to enjoy the fruits of both careers. And with a bonus at that--my having been a musician.

The Choice
Today, I was scheduled to work at A&W from 2:00 p.m. to 5 p.m. Then, in the morning, the healthcare agency called, asking me to work today at Tache Centre, 3 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. As much as I wanted to, I declined, saying that I have a schedule at my other work. Since that I'm still new, I gave priority to A&W which scheduled me first. If I called in sick at A&W and then took the healthcare-aide job, I would have earned $144 today! (since it's a holiday). With three hours of work at A&W, I only earned around $25. See the difference? Of course, I felt a bit regretful; but I just told myself that I'm just a beginner once again. Just a little patience and consideration to which scheduled me first, and I'll be luckier next time.

I guess, I'll stay with A&W for the meantime, working Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays; until my healthcare-aide job becomes a regular thing.

I can hear Yoda whispering in my ears...

For the meantime, I heed the little green Master.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Grandfather's Viewing Service

July 14, 2006
Some pictures taken during the one-day viewing of Grandfather, at Knysh Funeral Homes on Main Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada:
I with friends Charitess Naval (former layout artist of The Filipino Journal), Jean Guiang (Executive Director of Philippine-Canadian Centre of Manitoba), and Rosalinda Cantiveros (Chief Editor of The Filipino Journal and President of PCCM)

Musician friend Joshua Bernardo and family

The children's choir that graced Grandfather's viewing service

Some more friends of mine here in Winnipeg: couple Tess & Ardie Sarao (back row), Ericson (owner of Juvian's Filipino Restaurant), son and father Jaizen & Jason Paredes

Cousins Ariel Arado and Mike Arado, helping in the preparation of the food

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Work Is a Four-Letter Word

August 1, 2006

While writing, songs are playing:
The Bluebells - "Forever More"
Tuesday Blue - "Tunnel Vision"
1 000 Violins - "If I Were a Bullet (Then for Sure I'd Find a Way to Your Heart)"

Gully dwarves! Last week was the busiest week (for my own's sake) of my Canadian life. I wished for a job, and I got two! Thanks, Fate! You've been very kind and considerate. And, thank you, my Muses, for despite my preoccupation with my new jobs, you continue to bless my pen with prolificity and my mind with an insatiable thirst for reading. And so I continue writing. And so I keep on reading. I just finished the following DC books:

Crisis on Multiple Earths, Volumes One to Four
Crisis on Infinite Earths
Zero Hour

Now, I'm juggling Identity Crisis by Brad Meltzer (DC Comics, 2005) and One Hundred Modern Poems, selected by Selden Rodman (Mentor Books, 1949).

I just finished writing three articles for The Filipino Journal: "May Dugo Ka Bang Makata?", "Mahilig Ka Ba sa Rock Music?", and "Sino ang Mag-aalaga sa 'Yo sa Iyong Pagtanda?", all of which are yet to be published, since that my series Engkanto is still running.

Reading and Writing
These will always be my catalysts in maintaining a healthy homeostasis and a sense of sanity and focus amidst the stress and weariness caused by work. As always, pen and notebook
remain to be my constant companions.

Health Care Aide
After my fruitful yet mind-and-body-exhausting orientation (or what is called "shadowing") as a health care aide (HCA) on July 27, Thursday, at Tuxedo Villa, a nursing home, the agency that hired me despatched me the following Saturday and Sunday at the same nursing home.

The Thursday orientation went smoothly, especially that I worked more only as an assistant and observer. The health care aide of whom I served as a "shadow" was named Carmen Lucero, a 45-year-old Filipina who was working as a HCA for so many years. I was lucky because she was so patient and kind with a newcomer like me, assisting me as much as she could. I was so clueless on my first day with regard to the procedures, techniques, and operating the machines like the mechanical lifts (hoyer lift and sara lift) and the automatic bath tubs and commodes. If I was a faulty droid, my memory chips would have overloaded.

Real Work
I was given a dose of the real thing on the following Saturday! Add to that, before even starting to work, I was already tired. Why? My shift was 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Tuxedo Villa is very far from home. I leave the house at 5:10 in the morning, to be able to catch the first bus at the nearest stop. First bus arrives at 5:45. (Oh yeah, buses strictly observe the time schedule.) I alight somewhere in Downtown Winnipeg to transfer to another bus, at 6:22. I reach Tuxedo Villa at around 6:40.

7:00 a.m. - the Nursing Coordinator calls a meeting of all the staff assigned at her station (Registered Nurse, Licensed Practical Nurses, and Health Care Aides). I was despatched at Station 3. The NC reads the reports from the previous shifts, gives the new assignments, and off everyone goes to carry out her tasks. Each HCA is given an average of 9 residents (palliative cases = elderly who are in the twilights of their lives). I was so nervous because I was clueless about what to do. Luckily, there was another Filipina health care aide, named Mernie, who took the time to assist me in almost every task that I needed to do. Thank you very much!

7:15 - 8:50 - all 9 residents should have already been put to the washroom for their morning toilet needs, washed, changed clothes and diapers, groomed (in time for breakfast); and mind you, most of these residents (females and males) are above 80 (there was one who was 104!) and are already incoherent and immobile, they can no longer think well nor can they walk or even move on their own. What then? So, here enters the mechanical lifts. The health care aide transfers each resident from the bed to the wheelchair using either a hoyer or a Sara lift, depending on the resident's degree of immobility. The difficulty lies in the use of the slings. One mistake with the slings and the resident may fall or break a bone. Until now, after two days of exposure, I am yet to feel confident in using the lifts without assistance from another HCA.

9:00 - 10:00 - groomed residents should already be in their designated dining areas. HCAs feed those who cannot eat on their own.

10:00 - 11:30 - HCAs bring their residents to either back to their rooms or to the leisure area, depending on the health care plan. They attend again to the residents' toilet needs. While the residents rest comfortably in their wheelchairs, HCAs do the bedmaking and make sure the rooms plus toilets are free of any soiled diapers or dirty clothes or linens.

Coffee break = 15 minutes

11:30 - 12:30 - Lunch time; feeding time again

Lunch break

An observation--since that English must be strictly observed in the work area, only during break times at the staff lounges can one hear the Filipino language. Yeah, there are many Filipinos working in the healthcare field. Funnily, though I hate to reveal this, I will anyway, gossips are usually the flavor of conversation of many Filipinos I encounter. I also observed that people--regardless of race--have the tendency to mingle and to group with their fellow races. Perhaps, this gives them a sense of belongingness. However, I intentionally avoid flocking with birds of my own race as much as possible. Of course, I easily relate with my fellow compatriots, but I made sure I also mingle with the other races. I want to broaden my multicultural perspective.

Aside from Filipinos, Blacks/Africans (Sudanese, Jaimacans, Nigerians) are also common in the workplace. Like Filipinos, they enjoy talking about their countries--how beautiful these are. I've always been fascinated in engaging other races in a conversation. This helps in changing my paradigms about their cultures.

For sure, many people (especially Filipinos), always associate Africa to either jungles or arid lands because of the popularity of the poor areas of African countries like Ethiopia. However, we have to realize that, like any other country (which includes USA and Canada), African countries have both the rich and beautiful parts as well as the impoverished regions.

When my tablemates are in gossip mode, I just keep quiet. I try to divert the conversation to harmless topics by usually asking questions like "Gaano na kayo katagal sa Canada?", "Kailan huling uwi n'yo sa Pilipinas?", "Ano ba ang maibibigay n'yong tips sa akin para mapabilis ang trabaho?" Things like that.


1:00 - 2:00 - put the residents back to their beds after attending once again to their toilet needs, using once again the mechanical lifts; make sure the beds' siderails are applied and that residents are in comfortable positions and that their diapers are dry (if not, change these)

2:00 - start making the end-of-shift report or what's called the health care plan.

3:00 - end of shift, end of work, you can now breathe


July 29, Saturday
3 p.m. to 9 p.m.

However, my agency called me around 2:00, asking me to extend until 9 p.m. I stayed. I want to learn more. And of course, that meant extra pay. Luckily, the task next assigned to me was relatively easier. I just served as a companion to this particular octagenarian resident named Wilf, who bugs everyone because he shouts "Help!" literally every several minutes.

I left the villa dead tired. I headed to the apartment of friends Lhoy and Eugene in downtown, where the birthday of our friend Joy were being celebrated and where I would be sleeping over, for I'd be back at Tuxedo Villa the next day, for another day of hard work, same shift, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Luckily, friend Chit who stays in the Tuxedo area also was also sleeping over Lhoy's. She dropped me off at the villa in the morning.

July 30, Sunday

I would like to believe that I was adjusting gradually but smoothly because, compared to my state on the previous Saturday, I was less stressed out. When 3 p.m. struck, I felt so relieved.

Saturday night when I was at Lhoy's, I got the message from Tito Ren that A&W finally called, giving my work schedule. I was supposed to come to work on the Sunday, but I couldn't, I was at work at Tuxedo Villa. I called A&W as soon as I get the chance. I got the rest of my work schedule:

Monday - 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Tuesday - 11:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Wednesday - 11:00 to 3:00 p.m.

Today, Tuesday, I just came home from work at A&W. Compared to what I am doing as a health care aide, my job at A&W, as a front-area staff member, is easy. I feel so relaxed. After two days of work, I'm already confident in manning the cashier, taking orders and talking with English-speaking customers. The great thing about working at A&W, I get to speak English all the time. My coworkers consist of mostly Caucasians, a few fellow Filipinos, and some Indians. As usual, I'm lucky because my coworkers are all supportive, they take time to teach me with the tasks.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, I'll go to the healthcare agency after my A&W work, to get my new assignments as a health care aide.

As I already mentioned in a previous blog entry, my current pay at A&W is $7.75/hour, while as a health care aide, $12/hour. But I plan to retain A&W, mainly because I feel that this job will serve as my breather for my very taxing work as a health care aide. I finally organized my work schedule. I decided that, Monday to Wednesday, I'll be at A&W; Thursday to Saturday, I'll pick up work as a health care aide. Sunday will be my rest day.

With these new activities, I'm really learning a lot. I hope that all the tasks that I'm entailed to carry out in my two jobs will become easier and second nature in due time.

I'm still on my homestudy, but inevitably, my pace became slower. But I will carry on.

Also, this afternoon, after A&W, I visited the office of another newspaper here, Ang Peryodiko, the president (Alan Canlas) of which I met at a gathering months ago. Now that I'm a regular columnist at The Filipino Journal, I had now the confidence to ask him if he's interested in publishing articles by me. I knew that he knew about my articles in TFJ. He said, "Give me some articles you want to be published, and I'll tell you if these fit my newspaper. I want the articles to be in straight English." I said, "No problem. I'll be back soon."

Songs playing now:
Acid House Kings - "Thirteen Again"
Stars - "Look Up"
Adorable - "Glorious"
The Haywains - "Why Did I Ever Turn You Down?"
Barenaked Ladies - "Everything Old Is New Again"

I try to document every blessing and adventure and misadventure that come my way. For in the future, all of these will serve as sources of inspiration to go on with life despite the constant struggles and obstacles. Just like how I'm converting into positivity all the negative energies that I got to absorb during the time I was taking care of Grandfather.

Now, I can say that I am able now to flap with ease my fairy wings. Only time will tell if these wings can really soar me to much greater heights in the near future.

All I can only do now is believe...

Move on.
Work hard.
But take time to enjoy books and music, as usual.
Continue to write
And to keep in touch with family, loved ones, and friends.

And, most of all...

Never forget to look back at where I came from and to remember how I started my life here in Canada.

"Everything old is new again
Everything under the sun..."