The Return of eLf ideas

ideas of an eLven being in Canada

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The last perfect thing

October 31, 2006

Instead of black, Halloween here in Canada where I am was white.

This morning, bits of snow fell. As midnoon approached, the sky generously unloaded its immaculate-white patters. Cool, as always--literally and figuratively--especially when you're indoors, watching the view through the windows.

Work at A&W this morning was okay. As always, my coworkers were nice to work with. As soon as I got off at 2 p.m., I called a taxi. I'd be running to my other job, an evening shift at Tuxedo Villa (nursing home), 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Cab fare: $19! Imagine that! I really need to have my own vehicle next year, after I pass the road test. I don't mind my taxi expenses, for the meantime. Anyway, that's just an hour-and-a-half slice off my one-shift salary as a healthcare aide. Better this, than not accepting the whole day shift.

Work today at Tuxedo was unnecessarily tough, compared with my previous shifts there. The reason? My healthcare-aide partner was--grr!--very unhelpful. She was too independent to a fault. She was the type of worker who follows the principle, "I won't help you because I don't need your help."

As soon as the shift started, she relayed to me the tasks as if I was her subordinate. I overheard another coworker's telling her not be too harsh with me for I might get scared. I responded by saying, "Oh, I don't get scared. Nothing intimidates me. This is not my first work. I've been working since 1992. And I've encountered far worse situations." Even though I felt irked by that coworker, I bit my tongue. I would have said, "I've encountered far worse people."

Anyway, soon as that encounter occurred, I never bothered her, unless I really had to. I was glad that the Filipina nurse in our team was helpful. She was usually the one offering her assistance. However, I didn't take advantage of her kindness. I worked throughout the shift almost on my own, asking for help only when it was called for--like for instance, in operating the mechanical lifts, which require two persons.

Minus that disappointing coworker, the shift was okay. As usual, I was in my sunny self. Both coworkers and residents frequently make positive remarks about my zanny personality.

For yet another time, I was mistaken for a non-Filipino. Two coworkers--both Filipinas--on separate occasions--were surprised to learn that I'm Filipino. Both of them mistook me for Spanish. Do I look like Ferdinand Magellan? Oops, Magellan was a Portuguese. Hehehe!

Anyway, the negative energy emanated by that *&@# coworker was balanced by another Filipina coworker during dismissal time. The snow was blowing hard. It was already about a foot high in the streets. Luckily, a Filipina healthcare aide saw me waiting by the door of the villa. She asked me if I was waiting for my ride. I told her that I was waiting for the bus. She offered to drop me off somewhere. Her husband was picking her up.

Such a streak of luck, the couple live somewhere in Tyndall, a place near my friend Roy's house where I now stay.

In short, they dropped me off right by the door of Roy's house. The trip took only about 30 minutes, so I got home before midnight. If I went by bus, I would have reached the house at past one. And to think that the chilly wind was blowing hard, and the snow on the ground was getting higher and higher.

Tomorrow, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m, I'll be working again at A&W. I'm thinking of not accepting an evening shift at the nursing home. I want to go to the mall finally to buy my Winter gear--lightweight Winter jacket, boots, scarf, and gloves.

By the way, the unhelpful coworker I was talking about was Black. But don't think that she was like that because of her color. I've worked with many South African Blacks (Ethiopians, Jamaican, Eritrian), and most of them were kind and helpful. Don't think also that all my Filipino coworkers are willing to assist a newcomer. I've already encountered a few freaking Filipino coworkers, who would not even smile at you. Caucasians? Just the same--there were those who didn't want to be bothered, and there were those who would offer their assistance and would engage you in a friendly conversation.

Bottomline? Race has nothing to do with a person's attitude. We should not stereotype. There are the good and the bad in every race.

As for me, I'll just continue being myself. Tried and tested, I acquire more friends than detractors.

One last thing, there was this octagenarian resident at Tuxedo Villa who called me stupid, just because I ignored her nonsense proddings. Instead of getting back at her by uttering a similar remark. I just smiled and said, "How did you know that I'm Cupid--the shooter of hearts, making people fall in love?" Her aggression suddenly turned into laughter. But still, I didn't go near her. You will never know...especially when you're working at the geriatric ward, where the thing most lost is the mind.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Moving forward, using all my breath

October 28, 2006

Finally, I moved in some of my stuff at my friend Roy's house, where I'd be staying from now on. I believe that the time to become independent once again has come. Winter is here; getting colder and colder by the day; twenty minutes' walk from the house of my relatives where I stay to the nearest bus stop is not a joke, especially when the weather is cold, as in cooold! Some friends in the Philippines may say that, hey, it's just like having a daily exercise. Mind you, when it's Summer, the trek is tolerable; but when the temperature is freezing cold, you can never endure even a 10-minute exposure out in the streets.

Besides, I have now jobs. I'm earning, so I should as well begin to live on my own. Also, friend Roy is very understanding and considerate. He gave me a very reasonable rental fee. Most important, I have now my own room, where I can put all my stuff--something I was deprived of for the past three years and so. I don't blame anyone. I know that these are all part of the package when I decided to migrate here into Canada. Past is past. I'm moving on. I'm recharged! I'm free once again.

I'm ready for new adventures, for writing new chapters in my book of life.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Are you narcistic?

October 24, 2006

Since Sunday, October 22, I've been getting shifts from my healthcare agency; and that's all good! More shifts equals more money and more experience in the healthcare field.

"Are you Filipino?" I've been frequently getting this question at work--and mind you--from fellow Filipinos! Hahaha! I'm unsure of the reason, but I surmise it's the way I interact with people of other races, especially with Caucasians. Having been so much experienced in dealing with people, courtesy of my previous works in the Philippines--as a pharmaceutical representative ( I got to deal with physicians), as a coding supervisor (I got to train and orientate people, as an editor (I got to discuss with academicians), as a band member....

I mean, I've been noticing that many Filipinos at work have the tendency to flock among themselves; only a few of them mingle with other races. And when they speak English, the fluency and the fluidity seem missing. I'm unsure of the reason they find talking with other races uncomfortable. Has this something to do with inferiority complex, which is--worse--aggravated by the superiority complex of some Caucasians? Difficulty in expressing oneself in English? Feelings of incompetence about things and other trivial topics that inevitably pop up in any conversation?

Oh well, there are a hundred reasons, for sure. But if one isolates herself from other races, by mingling only with her compatriots, she is wasting her chance to be broad-minded and culturally adaptable.

I--I don't feel inferior. In fact, I jump at every chance to converse with people of other races. And, surprisingly, they're the ones who usually get surprised when they talk with me; chiefly because I can always relate to whatever they're talking about.

Once, I asked this Caucasian coworker: "What country did you come from?"

She replied: "Oh, you wouldn't know. It's somewhere in Europe."

I said: "Try me."

"Okay," she said, but still hesitant. "Poland."

"What!" And then I laughed.

Half-disgusted and half-annoyed, I litanied:

"Poland is regarded as the heart of Europe because it is located at the center of the European continent. Its capital is Warsaw, which is also the country's largest city. Its flag consists of white on top and red below. Its currency is zloty. Some well-known Polish people include Madam Marie Sklodowska-Curie, the scientist; Frédéric François Chopin, the Classical pianist and composer; and, of course, the late Pope John Paul II, whose real name was Karol Wojtyla, born in Wadowice, childhood nickname Lelek...

"What else?"

Grr! You could imagine the coworker's embarrassment and amazement and my sense of pride being a well-learned Filipino.

Nagba-blush rin pala sila kapag napapahiya. Hahaha!


Many Caucasians couldn't believe that I'm Filipino. I've been mistaken for a Chilean, Spanish, German. What! German? Yeah. Hahaha!

Oh well.

More funny workplace stories next time.


All I can say is, Knowledge is power. It is also a formidable weapon against discrimination and condescension.


A coworker kept on saying "CONMITATION." Before I asked her about the meaning of the word, I checked it first. Yes! I knew it; she meant CONTAMINATION.

Instead of correcting her pointblank. I just replied the correct word every time she would mention her version. After some time, she began pronouncing it correctly.

A Caucasian coworker, a registered nurse, engaged me in a discussion about Psychiatric Nursing. She began mentioning topics like Alzheimer's disease, dementia praecox, schizophrenia. I told her that I find Psychiatry and Psychology very interesting subjects.

Then, she said that there was this one resident who looks at the mirror virtually all the time. I immediately interjected, "Ah, she has this personality disorder called narcissism.

She said: "Yeah, she has narcism.

I repeated: "Yeah, she has narcissism", giving the word a proper stress. The coworker laughed and said: "Oops, yeah, narcissism, I meant."

I would have discussed with her about Narcissus, the Greek Mythology nymph from where that medical term originated, but it was already break time. Hahaha!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

We can't feel those aches and pains, We won't listen to the voices in the city rain

October 21, 2006

2:00 a.m., I just got back home. I left the house at around 9 p.m. last night, to watch the '90s-formed Canadian Alternative Rock band Sloan, at the Silverado's on Jefferson near McPhillips, about 10-minute-drive away from the house. I rode a taxicab. I went there by myself, chiefly because no one here shares the same passion I have for such kind of music. The venue was packed. I could count with my fingers the Filipinos in the audience; most were Caucasians. The gig was okay. The front act, a Vancouver-based band named The Yoko Casionos delivered catchy music. I bought a copy of their CD. Sloan started at about 10:30 and played a two-hour set. I was disappointed because Sloan didn't play any single song from Smeared (1994), my favorite Sloan album, which contains "I Am the Cancer," "500 Up," "Underwhelmed," and "Lemonzinger." I bought a copy of their latest release, Never Hear the End of It (2006).

I planned not to work yesterday, Friday, but the healthcare agency called early in the morning, about 6 a.m., requesting me to go to Tache Centre to work from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30. That left me with no choice. I took a taxicab and got there in abour 30 minutes. I was a bit tired during the shift because my body was conditioned to rest the whole day. Anyway, the thought of earning about 90 dollars for that eight-hour shift was enough to change my lazy mood.

Later, I wouldn't be working. I already told the agency that I had to prepare my stuff for my moving out. Yes, I'm finally moving in to the house of my friend Roy--more convenient,more accessible, near to the bus stops and to the places of my works, and most of all, I have my own room. I've long been looonging for privacy--sleep when I needed or wanted to. Just lie around the house when I'm in a lazy mood.

Oops, time to sleep.

Last three songs:
"The Golden Calf" - Prefab Sprout
"Amelia" - The Mission U.K.
"Already Yesterday" - The Church

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Halven Story continues

Read the updated entry of "Half Life Half Death" on Wikipedia, which includes recent musical developments; features newly uploaded images.

The album designs below are conceptualized and rendered by yours truly.

The Halven Discography

The Halven Trilogy Part One: half forgotten songs (eLf ideas, 2003/2007)
1. Tsanel Tsek
Kapalarang Kuwago
6. Nosi Ba Lasi [Lala's mix]
7. Aligue (taba ng alimango)
8. High School (Life)
Sa Paskong Darating
12. Halina sa Peryà

The Halven Trilogy Part Two: half remembered dreams (eLf ideas, 2003/2007)
1. Channel Check
2. A Feast in Pastel Castle
3. If All Sleep Tonight
4. We Are the Saints
5. Butterflies
6. Brother's Pen
7. Summer's Rain
8. Radio Madness
9. Unfated Love
10. A Night like This [live]
11. Butterflies [live]
12. Brother's Pen [eLven mix]

The Halven Trilogy Part Three: half buried treasures (eLf ideas, 2007)
1. The Queen has a newborn son
At nanipit ang mga alimango
3. Butterflies die in silence
4. Highschool life [baluga mix]
5. Where are the saints? We
6. There’s a place I’ve found

The Woes of Emong Payaso by haLf man haLf eLf (eLf ideas / Kalabasa Records, 2007)
1. Mahiwagang sapatos ni Emong Payaso
Parang karnabal--ganyan ang buhay ng tao
Tuluy-tuloy ang palabas sa entablado
4. Sa likod ng bawat tagumpay ay kalbaryo

Songs for Moonlit Nights by The Rain (retitled, 2007; originally Girl in Mind, 2006)
1. Girl in Mind
2. Pourin' Rain
3. Singing My Pain Away
4. The Ghost in You [originally by The Psychedelic Furs]
5. Ben's Magic
6. Perfect Moment
7. Shouldn't Spoil the Day
8.Cold Rooms
9. I, Sisyphus
10. More to Lose [originally by Seona Dancing]
11. Games

half baked delicacies by Dream Kitchen (Mark I) (Purple Studio 4-track demoes, 1999)
1) Vanilla Float 2) The Never Ending Why 3) For Her Brilliance 4) Silver Spoon on My Mouth 5) Buhay-Karnabal

Thursday, October 19, 2006

It's not yet over

August 2006 pictures

Here are several low-resolution pictures of haLf man haLf eLf (aLfie vera mella, vocalist/keyboardist; Roy Gutierrez, guitarist; Abet, bass; and Ten-ten, drummer) taken during their performance as a front act at the Winnipeg leg of the Canadian tour of the Filipino Alternative band Siakol; held on August 26, 2006, at Philippine-Canadian Centre of Manitoba, on Keewatin Street.

haLf man haLf eLf's playlist consisted of "For Her Brilliance" (original), "High School (Life)" (Half Life Half Death's version), "Just like Heaven" (The Cure), "I Melt with You" (Modern English), and "More to Lose" (Seona Dancing).
Now I am free, and I feel stronger...

Native sun arising, concrete walls are I as happy as you...

October 19, 2006

This will be quick.

On my last blog entry, I said that I would start to take care of the examinations that I need and want to pursue. Well, lest procrastination afflicts me once again, yesterday after work, I got my address book and looked up the number of Canadian Immigration's Language Assessment Program.

I was able to get hold of the office and inquired if there's a challenge exam for ESL (English as a Second Language), so I would no longer take a course or something. The receptionist asked me about some details. When she learned that I'm a new permanent resident of Canada, she said that I had to undergo a four-week program which involved a crash course in English and facts about Canada.

Prior to contacting the office, a friend of mine had already given me advice that, in case Immigration brings up that crash course program, I assert that I no longer need that.

So, feeling confident and assertive, I told the lady if I could be exempted from that program since that my English is already above average and that I'm even a writer using the language, and that I already self-taught myself about Canada and its culture and that I could prove them personally at the office, that I could submit copies of my credentials and published works, and that they could interview me right away, and that I....

"Okay, wait a minute while I speak to my superior...."

Hahaha! Oh well, sometimes we need to be professionally assertive without sounding arrogant, lest we couldn't get what we rightfully deserve. Besides, here in Canada, most educational and related institutions have this program known as PLAR, which honors and recognizes a person's educational background including her/his work and other related experiences.

"PLAR (Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition) is a process of identifying, assessing, and recognizing what a person knows and can do, for the purpose of awarding academic credit." (Canadian Labour Force Development Board, 1999).


The lady said to hold on for a while so she may speak to a superior first. After several minutes, she told me,

"Okay, your appointment will be on November 15, 1 p.m., at our office. We'll give you the examination and an interview. Bring your permanent-residence documents as well as your Manitoba health card. Good luck."

Yes! I got away from having to undergo a four-week program, which would surely be helpful, but which I feel I'd no longer be needing, especially that I couldn't afford to spend four weeks of my busy time on it. I'd rather spend this one whole month on other more fruitful endeavors.

Half Life Half Death - "Kapit-Tuko"

Surfing YouTube dot com, I stumbled upon these two personally made videos that used one of the songs of my erstwhile band Half Life Half Death. The lead actor in the first video had obviously saw us back in the '90s during our TV guestings, because he seemed to know my usual moves and performance antics. He also spoofed my trademark use of a small plastic toy guitar in each of our TV performances. Great video. Thanks!

The second video employed our song as a background for his photo commentary on the administration of the current president of the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

I share what my friend and former Half Life Half Death bandmate Pet de Jesus said: "It never crossed my mind that 'Kapit-Tuko' could also have a political bent to it."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

New dreams for old

October 18, 2006

Last weekend, Saturday and Sunday, I worked double shifts at Riverview Health Centre, from 730 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. Working my ass off, hey? Well, you can say that. But can you blame me? My close friends and those who are privy of my adventures and misadventures here in Canada, since 2003, would understand me somehow.

You see, after three years of having to spend virtually all my days and nights taking care of my belated grandfather, I feel now that I deserve to be free--free as a bird that doesn't have any woe (if there's such a species of bird).

I've been analyzing again myself; like Carl Jung, hey? You can say that again. For the past two months and so of my getting to work again, I've been working so hard. Proving anything? Yes, I want to prove to myself that, wherever I may be, I am good at what I do. I don't want to be mediocre. I always wanted to excel...whatever occupation or preoccuptaion that might be.

But, of course, there are times when I feel like I need a break, when I need a rest.

Like this week--I've been working at A&W since Monday (until tomorrow, Thursday), and I didn't get any shift as a healthcare aide. I just spent some time at the public library after work. I rented DVDs and checked out some new books.

Most of all, I try to find sparks of inspiration from the spiritual energy emanating in the library and from all the diverse students populating the library. And after hours of contemplation, I decided that...

I will finally contact Language Assessment and book an appointment for the English benchmarking examination. I will be needing this in case I study at a university. The highest is 9, and I will attain that! University? Yes, I plan to study again, and playing in my mind is to take a course related to English Literature, Languages, or perhaps Anthropology or Social Psychology. Oh well, I want to realign myself in this area.

But of course, I will also pursue nursing. I will soon go to College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba to learn if I can challenge the nursing examination at once (after self-studying) or if I need to take the six-month refresher course.

Yes, I will go back to school again. I want to prove something, not to others but to myself.

I want to realign myself.

I had a dream...

And I will make this come true.

I will.

Yes, I will.


For now, I'll keep on working hard.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

On a thousand islands in the sea, I see a thousand people dressed like me

October 14, 2006

Oh wow, several days have passed without writing a new entry on my blog site. Oh well, blame it on my having no Internet connection at home. Another thing, personal Web sites like blog sites are inaccessible on the PCs at the public libraries here.


Winter has indeed arrived. Snow fell a few days ago. The temperature suddenly dropped to negative 7 degrees. I really found excruciatingly difficult covering the 20-minute-walk from the house to the bus stop. So, what I usually did for the past weekdays was, call taxicabs to pick me up at home. Yeah, that was comfortable, but it was very expensive and non-economical. Imagine, $12 for a trip from the house to A&W where I earn only $7.75 per hour! This is the reason I usually request for double shifts at my other job, to compensate for my seemingly unnecessary expenses. Yeah, I usually work from 7:30 a.m. till 11:45 p.m. at Riverview Health Centre or at Tuxedo Villa. At least, from my job as a healthcare aide, I get to earn $12 per hour, and this work of mine is really preparing me for my future career as a registered nurse. I really need to pursue this goal.

Finally I decided. I will move out of my relatives' house. I'll rent a room at the house of my friend Roy, who has really been very kind, accommodating, and understanding. And since he's the guitarist of my band haLf man haLf eLf, we can spend more time practicing during unbusy moments. He, too, works in the healthcare field--as a pharmacy assistant, so that guy is also busy as a bee. Most of all, I feel at-home every time I'm there at his house. As what he told me, I would have my own room, could use the utilities, and get to pay a very reasonable rent.

I think this is another big step for my life here. Other than finally having my privacy, I will begin living my life independently; not that I haven't tried this before, but here in Canada, to be able to live my life on my own--at last--is certainly a big welcome on my part.

I just finished the third module of my homestudy, Social Psychology. ' been topping the online exams. One last module to go, then I'm finished!

While I'm waiting for the last module to arrive on the mail, I've started reading a supplementary book, which I find really interesting. Learning about different peoples and cultures and languages is really my interest. The book I've began studying is 'Readings in Contemporary Cultural Anthropology.'

The first words that caught my fancy:

"There is nothing deviant or abnormal about being alienated from one's society."

Monday, October 02, 2006

Today, I won't think of any sad thing

October 2, 2006

I started the week with a positive vibe. I'm up and running with my jobs. This morning, I was working at A&W Restaurant, from 9 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Then, I bounced immediately to my other job, at Riverview Health Centre. I took the evening shift, 3:30 p.m. till 11:45 p.m.

Work is relatively easy, though some Alzheimer's-afflicted residents were giving me a hard time. I found a bit difficult changing them into pajamas and putting them to beds, because some of them were resisting. But I was able to manage them after all, with help from my partner healthcare aide.

Tomorrow, my work at A&W would be 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. At last, I can have a longer sleep later, not unless my agency calls early in the morning to give me a morning shift, 7:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. And I'm in the mood to work. I always think about the money that I would be wasting if I refuse an assignment.

I'm already excited about finishing the "Karnabal" single that Emong Payaso and I have been working on for almost a year. As soon as we finish it, and I have the CD cover sleeves printed, I'll drop by at Cafe 100.7 FM radio station to submit a copy for airplay. A Filipino deejay there, named Chester Pangan, is interested in playing my music on air, especially that he has already been playing regularly songs of my former band Half Life Half Death.

The Canadian Alternative Rock band Sloan, one of my favorites since the '90s, will be playing on October 20 at Silverado's, a venue near where I live. I must watch this gig. I hope that they'll include on their playlist songs from their Smeared album, tracks like "I Am the Cancer," "500 Up," and "Underwhelmed.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Time flies

October 1, 2006

One week has passed since my last entry. I've been busy with work, and, besides, I'm using Internet only when I get the chance to drop by a public library after work; or when I'm assigned at Riverview Health Centre, where there are Internet-ready PCs available during break time.

Last week was virtually all work for me. For three days, I worked double shifts a day as a healthcare aide; and on the sides, as usual, I'm still working at the A&W Restaurant. Good thing was, I could still manage to allot time for the "Karnabal" recording project of mine, which is nearly finished.

Last day, I called Chester Pangan, a Filipino deejay at an FM radio station here in Winnipeg, and asked him if I could drop by the station to give him a copy of the single edit of my first single, "Parang Karnabal," as haLf man haLf eLf. He was the person who hosted the recent Siakol concert, in which my band performed as one of the front acts. I also gave him that night copies of the repackaged, self-produced albums of my erstwhile band Half Life Half Death.

I was amazed to learn from Chester that he has been playing songs by Half Life Half Death on air. Some friends here told me that they heard Half Life Half Death's "High School (Life)" more than once. I am yet to hear the songs myself. Chester told me that he'd included once again some HLHD songs in his playlist for next week.

I will drop by at the station one of these days, as soon as I finished the CD cover for the single.

I'm currently here at Riverview Health Centre, working from 3:30 p.m. to 11:45 p.m. I'm just having my second break. Work today is relatively easy. My work as a healthcare aide is becoming easier and easier for me, an obvious sign that I've finally got into the routine of the work; and this is good, because I always go to work with a sense of excitement in what I would be doing. I've no more of the "stage fright," which I remember having during my first days as a healthcare aide. And I guess, my passion for everything I put my mind into is working to my advantage, because the nurses and other coworkers of mine always commend my performance.

Oops, time to go back to work.

Catch you later.