Sunday, May 31, 2015

Getting out of the funk

I confess that I was out of whack most days recently.  I suspect that my depression may have something to do with Michael’s death anniversary last Tuesday.  Remembering  the events  leading to  the day Michael died is always inevitable.

Funny how easy it is to go into sadness. And we all visit that place at one time or another. All I have to do is call in the troops. That particular battalion is named Regret. 
Here’s the formula: Sadness1 + Regrets +Sadness2 = Depression.  So now you get the picture.
I felt better  the other day, Friday.  I always look forward to   Fridays and Saturdays, my dance evenings.    I’m a certified card-carrying danceaholic.  And I know that someday I just might be lucky  enough to be famous. I just might go down in history as  the originator of the 12 Steps for Danceaholics Anonymous!   One of those steps will require  using one’s hips to illustrate the number “8”.  In some places, this dance step is called “Ocho-Ocho.” So now you get the picture. :)
What? I’m delusional?
I’d rather call myself hopelessly optimistic. 
Now how did I come up with that oxymoron?
The dancing made me feel better last Friday.  Yesterday, something I saw  boosted my spirits more and a seeming affirmation that everything is working towards my highest good.   The flyer jumped right out at me from  Mara's post on Facebook . It was a needed reminder and my marching  orders.

I got out of my funk. And I am grateful.

 Posted with Aloha!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Shaka sign

Hand signs are prevalent all over the world.  They are a universal language  quickly understood. Flash an upright index and middle finger and you're saying "peace." An upheld clenched fist is a sign of protest. And a thumbs down is an obvious "No."
There is a sign that perhaps not many know about,  especially those of you outside the US . Called the Shaka, the sign is associated with Hawaii and means to "hang loose" or to convey Aloha.  

Surfers visiting Hawaii in the 60s  noticed locals using the sign and quickly spread it to other places. In Brazil, the sign also means to "hang loose." In Asia, the sign is used to represent a Taoist concept of "going with the flow."
I saw the sign  the first time I visited Hawaii. While I was on the road I noticed motorists extending their hand out of their car window and flashing the sign to other motorists.  I thought it very cool.
During the parade celebrating his first inauguration as US President, Barack Obama noticed with surprise the  school band from his old alma mater, Hawaii's Punahou School, leading Hawaii's contingency in the parade.  Instinctively, President Obama  flashed a Shaka with a captivating smile quickly captured by photographers. 

Alhough I was merely watching the parade on TV, I  still couldn't help but brim with delight and pride at the President's unexpected reaction.  I was nearly completely sure that the rest of Hawaii felt like I did.

Shaka! Let's keep connecting.

Let's keep the love going!

US President Barack Obama flashing the Shaka sign during his first inauguration as President in 2009.  Photo source:
Posted with ALOHA

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Michael Murphy III

It has been nine years Michael and I still miss you. Before you left, you said that you will be with me always. And you are.

Thank you for the time we were together and what I've learned through you.

Thank you for having been my husband.

A hui hou! Till we meet again!

Posted with LOVE

Monday, May 25, 2015

Thoughts on Memorial Day 2015

Today is Memorial Day in the US. For readers of this blog who are from other countries,  Memorial Day is one of the most important holidays in the US and celebrated to honor all those in the US Armed Forces who died while in service to their country.

One of those I know who served in the US Army is my friend Ralph. During the Vietnam war, Ralph was a medic in the US army and survived two tours in Vietnam. After being at the forefront of war, Ralph went on to study at the University of California, Berkeley  where he avidly protested the Vietnam war in between pursuing his  Bachelor of Science Degree in Microbiology.

I cannot imagine how it feels being in the middle of a barrage of machine gun fire. I cannot imagine how it is not to know whether I will still be breathing by the end of a day of fighting.  I cannot imagine being a first-hand witness to the horrors of war.

But I can imagine easily that anybody who goes to the battlefield  and returns home alive  is never unscathed, be it physically or emotionally.  Not all wounds are visible just as not all wounds heal.

Some emerge from war forever damaged -- bitter, cynical, traumatized. Those fortunate, after having had first hand experience with carnage,  come out  of war with a great deal of wisdom and a compassion for others and a respect for life deeper than what they had before they left to fight.

Today on Memorial Day, I thank Ralph and others like him who laid their lives on the line and made unimaginable sacrifices fighting for our ideals of inalienable human rights, freedom and democracy.

Ralph in army uniform, 1967
At Phan Thiet, Southeastern Vietnam, 1968

 While a student at University of California, Berkeley in 1972 and protesting the Vietnam war
Posted with Aloha

Sunday, May 24, 2015

In Ireland there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow

Times like these make me proud to be a Murphy although I am Irish only by infusion.

Yesterday, the people of Ireland voted overwhelmingly to legalize same sex marriage. Ireland has become the first country in the world to make that historic and remarkable decision.

Who would ever think religiously Catholic Ireland  turning liberal enough to emerge at the forefront of social change in the world?

(The Universe sure has a delicious sense of humor.)

Could the Irish vote be a sign of increasing tolerance and acceptance for  differences in sexual preferences among people of the world? 

(Hope is not only a virtue but a necessity.)

Imagine a world where there is no prejudice,  bigotry,  racism. Half of  the problems we have now can be solved. Instead of spending the bulk of the budget on guns, planes and other tools of war, governments will have more resources to improve infrastructure, education and health. The greater the harmony among people, the more economic opportunities  improved lives.

But it is not just the money. Think  of a world vibrating at a higher level where acceptance, respect and kindness prevail.

In Ireland, there is indeed a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  That pot of gold is called love.

May that rainbow cover the earth.


Posted with Aloha

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Love, death and life

On this day nine (9) years ago, my husband Michael was bedridden and in terrible pain. I was in denial that he was dying. I never lost hope that one day his will would win over his body and the cancer in him would disappear.  Three days later on May 26, 2006, Michael drew his last breath.

Last night at a dinner with friends in a hotel in Hilo  I met Mark.

Mark returned to  the Big Island partly to fulfill a dream he and his wife had to visit the Big Island again.  Mark and his wife planned the trip together six months ago.  A month before they were supposed to fly out, Mark's wife died unexpectedly.

Throughout the evening, Mark talked about his wife several times. He remembered how good a cook she was. He recounted  wirh obvious pride a story about how his wife thwarted a would-be home invasion by having great presence of mind.  He laughed as he recalled her quirks and idiosyncrasies.

When Mark excused himself from the table to wash his hands, I told the rest of the dinner guests that I very well knew what Mark was going through.

His wife died but he was still with her, every moment of the day.

He thinks of when she was last with him driving in his car to a particular destination.

He yearns for her voice, smell, touch -- her very essence.

He wonders why there are cars on the road and people still go about their everyday business.  He questions why the world hasn't stopped.

He was mourning for his wife in the exact same way I did for Michael.

My heart went out to Mark as I remembered Michael and how I struggled accepting his death  nine years ago.

It is said that nothing ever happens by chance.

I would like to think that meeting Mark three days before Michael's death anniversary was the Universe's way of telling me something.

As my friends and I said goodbye last night, Mark gave my hand a tight squeeze.

Posted with Aloha

Friday, May 22, 2015

A heron

Yesterday while on the west side of the Big Island, I saw a  heron flirting with fish in a Koi pond. The heron was not shy at all.  Seeing that I had my camera with me, the bird stopped trying to aim its neck and bill for a quick grab at a fish and looked at me.

"Wanna take my portrait?" said the heron.

"I would love to," I answered  and began readying my camera.

I had to take several shots as the bird kept moving --  distracted by the fish in the pond but thankfully I was able to come up with what I thought were two decent photos.

I have to remember to send the heron a hard copy of the photos  with a thank you note saying, "It is hard to believe that you evolved from dinosaurs. Once you were a beast; now you're a beauty." 


Somebody was taking my picture as I was taking a picture of the bird.

Posted with Aloha

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Hawaii's phantom warriors

In George Martin's "Game of Thrones, there are the  White Walkers, a frightening massive band of undead that comes out in the thick of the night. They kill men, women, children and even animals and transform them into "re-animated corpses" with glowing ice blue eyes.

Hawaii has its own version of the White Walkers.  They're called the Night Marchers. Legend has it that during certain phases of the lunar cycle, the spirits of ancient Hawaiian warriors march towards sacred places or where they had once battled.

Imagine yourself camping by the beach.  It is close to the witching hour and  you are about to put out the campfire and head for your tent. You notice that dark brooding clouds have replaced the stars in the sky. The air has become heavy and damp. There is a pervasive odor of decay.

Suddenly you hear the faint sound of conch shells blown intermittently as drums beat and  a thousand feet thump the earth hard in unison.

Boom! Boom! Boom! The cadence remains unbroken even as the sounds get louder and nearer.

By this time practically all the hairs on your body are standing.  You are scared stiff like you've never been before.

Instinctively you run for your life

I had goose bumps the first time I heard the story of the Night Marchers. I was told that the warriors'  feet  don't touch the ground although some say that footprints have been found  along paths where the phantom warriors have supposedly trodden.

Another strange claim is that the Night Marchers only show themselves to those with Hawaiian blood.

Why? Nobody knows.


A depiction of a Night Marcher by Jake Shimabuku. Source:


Another depiction of a Night Marcher. Source:
A "White Walker" from "Game of Thrones." Photo source:
A "wight" from "Game of Thrones." Photo source:

Posted with Aloha

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

20 odd-funny Hawaiian expressions

For those of you not from Hawaii, here are some Hawaiian expressions that you might encounter should you have a chance to visit here. Except for the last two, I took all of the following from Jill Kozak in the May 14, 2015 issue of, a travel website:

1. Locals  don’t cheer when they’re excited. They shout “Cheehoo!”
2.  When everything is all messed up, things are definitely “hamajang.”
3.  You don’t get hurt in Hawaii, you get “buss (bust) up.”
4.  A Hawaii local never has a lot of something, but always has “choke” amounts.
      Example: “Punaluu beach has choke turtles.”
5. A Hawaii local never travels seaside, but always goes “Makai.” Likewise, a local never goes toward the mountains, but “mauka.”
6. If something is bad, a local will most definitely call it “junk.”
7. You might think you just got in a fight, but really, you got “in one scrap.”
8. A mainland mother might tell you to change your underwear every day, a local mom will remind you to change your “bibidees.”
9. You don’t go to the bathroom to make number 1, you always make “shi-shi.”
10. Others will question whether or not you’re a local if you don’t call soy sauce “shoyu.”
11. Anything that’s a pain in the butt is mostly definitely “humbug”
12. When your nose is runny, auntie might scold you to blow out your”hanabata.”
13. If your tan  needs work and your pale skin is noticeable, someone might call you “Daikon legs.”
14. Sitting on a hard surface too long or dealing with hamajang situations is certainly a pain in the “okole.”
15. A Hawaii local doesn’t smoke marijuana, but smokes “pakalolo.”
16. Locals don’t’ ask if you’re finished, they ask if you “stay pau.”

And if I may add my own to the above…
17. When locals eat, they “kaw kaw” and food is "grindz"
18. "Grindz" that tastes good is very "ono."
19. Hawaiians  go not to the supermarket but to “da store.”
20. A disagreement  is a "pilikia."
Shown above is part of the Big Island's Ahalanui county park which boasts of a palm-fringed thermally heated hot pond right next to the ocean. I saw a rainbow on the horizon one afternoon I was there and took this shot.

Another view of the warm pond. Photo source:

Looking at the warm pond from the ocean side. Photo source: 
Posted with Aloha

Monday, May 18, 2015

A woman's strength

I just found out today that Cassandra, the young daughter of a friend, recently died in a shooting incident.  One moment she was driving to work; next thing she was collateral damage brought down by a bullet meant for somebody else.

When my husband passed on,  my grief was physical.  There was a undefinable constant sensation at the pit of my stomach that made me retch. I felt disembodied -- a zombie walking around.

Although I have not gone through the horrors (and heaven forbid) of losing one's own child, I nevertheless have an idea of the grieving and pain my friend is going through. 

Still, one never really fully recovers from the passing of a loved one. There is a permanent wound in the heart that stops bleeding but never really heals.

"Cassandra is now home and someday you will see each other again.," I told my friend in a message. I wasn't really sure of  how to comfort my friend, what to say,  or if any of what I had told her were true. Nobody really knows  but having faith works.  It comforts. It gives hope. Because only love conquers death and endures forever.

On my friend's timeline on Facebook, I found the quote below. I thought it an apt description of my friend's strength as a mother who lost a baby she carried in her womb for months and then nurtured -- flesh of her flesh, blood of her blood.

Posted with Aloha

Sunday, May 17, 2015

I met myself at a party

I was "led" to Hawaii." That's what I say when I'm asked how I came to be in Hawaii.

I've never wanted to relocate to Hawaii. It is very much like the Philippines where I came from -- same nice beaches, same coconut trees most everywhere, same flowers, same fruits, and just nearly the same climate. Humidity is higher in the Philippines than in Hawaii. 

I thought that if I were to permanently live in another place,  I would like to be able to enjoy the four seasons, which  tropical Philippines doesn't have and which I had a taste of when I once lived in Brussels -- one of the best times in my life but that's story for another blog.

My parents didn't even want me to leave  Manila.  They were aging fast and found comfort  from the those Sunday family  lunches and dinners I made a point to have and always looked forward to.

Besides,  I was the only daughter left. In Asia, daughters are expected to care for parents in the twilight of their lives.  But I assured  my parents of constant visits. And with every visit, whenever it was time for me to go to the airport for my return trip to Hawaii, my mom would always be in tears and my dad could not be found.  My dad hated to see me go.

The moment I landed in the airport in Hilo on my first trip to the Big Island, I had the impression of being in one of the provinces in the Philippines.  Understand that I was born and raised in Manila, a big metropolis with its attendant nightmares -- heavy motor and people traffic most everywhere.   Huge shopping malls, gated communities and mansions coexist with slums and vagrancy. Neon lights turned night into day.

No way I was going to live in Hilo, I told myself silently when I first visited the place. The silence intimidated me.  It was too dark at night.  It didn't take long for me to find out that street lights were kept at a minimum  so the illumination doesn't obstruct the huge telescopes peering into the universe from atop Mauna Kea, one of the highest mountains in the world when measured from its base.

But when I woke up one morning and saw red cardinals playing by my bedroom window, I fell in love with Hawaii. I began to notice the wild orchids by the wayside and fell in love some more. Seeing the clear bright stars at night instead of smog definitely hooked me in. By the time I realized that I could just pull over by the road and gather sweet-tarty juicy "guayvies" I definitely became Hawaiian.  It was a case of osmosis. Mother nature got into me.

It didn't take me long to realize that I am in Hawaii for a number of reasons some of which have already dawned on me. The others are yet to be revealed.

I believe one reason I was led to Hawaii was to help my husband pass on. I was with Michael as he battled cancer. I fed him. I took care of him.  Many times I  fell down with him on the floor as I helped him navigate our house when he could no longer walk. I was with him when he drew his last breath. I am with him still.

Another and maybe the most important reason I was  led to Hawaii was to continue my spiritual growth. So far I've learned acceptance, forgiveness, being conscious and mindful, patience, faith, hope, love. Some lessons were painful. Others were amazingly mystical. lately, I've been discovering what things really matter and what don't. I've been practicing patience.  I continue to learn. Once growth stops, I might as well be six feet under. In Hawaii, I don't just exist. I live.

Over the weekend, I met a lady in a party. She said that she had just relocated to Hawaii and that she thinks she was led to Hawaii for a purpose. According to her, one reason she is now in Hawaii is for her to plant on her land.

I was amazed and joyful to know another person for whom, like me,  being in Hawaii is both meaningful and a destiny.

I thought that meeting that person was like having had the privilege of seeing my own self through another. It was a gift -- an affirmation of where and why I am in Hawaii at this time of my journey.

I am grateful. Aloha!

Posted with Aloha

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Opah - warm-blooded fish

That fish on your plate may be a celebrity. 

Only recently, scientists discovered, for the first time, a kind of fish that is warm-blooded and not cold-blooded as most fish are. The scientific name of the fish is Lampris Regius.

Commonly called  Opah, Moonfish, Sunfish, etc the fish is popular in seafood markets. The Opah is prized  for its mild taste and non-stringy texture. 

It is not a rare fish and is found in oceans world-wide except in the Polar areas. But unlike other fish which travel in schools, Opahs like to be solitary. Fishermen find Opah by accident as they fish for tuna or marlin and others that come in groups.

In Hawaii which supplies most Opah sold in the US mainland, the Opah is regarded as a fish that brings luck. Traditionally, instead of selling Opah they've caught, fishermen in  Hawaii gift it as an expression of Aloha.

If anybody "opahs" me an Opah, I'll be happy to accept it anytime! :)

More info about the Opah are provided in the links below this blog.

Armando Castillo, Joe Ludlow and Travis Savala (left to right) pose with opah aboard the San Diego, California-based fishing vessel "Excel." Source:

Posted with Aloha

Friday, May 15, 2015

There is a gold nugget in the yard

The "alien" in my yard I fantasized about in my blog yesterday turned out to be a mushroom. I didn't know what it was but once I shared my blog on social media, I received substantive information from readers. Thank you!

The name of the fungus is Phallus Indusiatus. It has other names like Veiled Lady, Bamboo Mushroom, Basket Stinkhorn, etc. Eaten both fresh and dried, it is a prized delicacy in many Asian countries.  The Thais use it in a soup called Tom Yuea Phai.   It is also an ingredient in Chinese haute cuisine. 

The late Chinese Empress Cixi, who is credited for spurring China to modernity and opening its doors to western influence,  was so fond of the mushroom that large quantities of it had to be scoured from various parts of China  for  a soup especially made for the celebration banquet of Cixi's 60th birthday.

 The Chinese use Phallus Indusiatus  not only as food  but also as medicine. The mushroom is thought to have anti-oxidant and anti-microbial properties. Some say it is also anti-carcinogenic but that has not yet been established.

The lone fungus I featured in yesterday's blog is no longer in my yard.  It has a short lifespan. So before it decays I thought it best to put it on a plate ready to be cooked and eaten. Now if only I can figure out how to best prepare it for the table. Any idea?

I thought that  the fungus was a gold nugget in my yard. I consider finding it as a blessing. I had a blog topic.  I learned something new. And now I'm about to eat something I've never had before.

The Universe is wonderful! I am grateful!

Here is an untouched photo I took of the mushroom ready to be cooked.
For more info about the mushroom please click on the following links:

Posted with Aloha

Thursday, May 14, 2015

An alien in the yard

Yesterday I found an unidentified "thing" jutting out of the  thick ground cover on my yard.  I've never seen anything like it before. It has a rather filigree-like  outer cover and a tiny hole sits on its top. It is not exactly what I would consider beautiful but neither is it ugly to look at. It's just interesting and strange.

 Thinking it might be a mushroom, I did some online search that yielded nothing. None of  the photos of mushrooms I saw on the internet resembled the strange thing in my yard.

Several thoughts occurred to me. Could the "thing" be a new still undiscovered species? It must be of a plant. The thing seems stationary and couldn't possibly be an animal or a reptile.

My rather wild imagination starts churning and I see a form of life. From another planet or dimension perhaps?.  It is a   tiny creature, maybe a highly developed spore. Though small, "Spore" has the energy-power of a gazillion stars and the accompanying brilliance. 

It talks to the birds and the bees, the flowers and the trees. "Let me tell you about love," it even sings and soundlessly. It radiates wisdom and benevolence.

Here it is

 All photos are untouched. Can somebody please tell me what it is?

Posted with Aloha!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Breaking the ice silly: Connect and not collect.

I find it a strange that many of us make friends first on social media even before we actually get to meet those whom we have befriended in person.

I didn't realize that Betsy, a Facebook friend,  was present at a party I went to last weekend. I didn't recognize her. I didn't speak to her. I guess the hostess presumed that friend and I  actually knew each other. And maybe we had met before. I just didn't remember. Besides, I tend to be shy.

It only dawned on me that Betsy was in the party after I saw her change her Facebook profile photo yesterday. I recognized her.

Feeling bad that at the party I had ignored my friend, I bravely messaged her privately.  I stuck my hand out. It was easier taking a risk on social media anyway than in a person-to-person, eyeball-to-eyeball situation.

All that time, I was mindful of what Aylyarys, another Facebook friend, had once said: "Connect and not collect."

I had fun initiating a conversation. I was in a playful mood and apparently so, it seemed, was Betsy. We were both willing to be silly.

Here was how our dialogue started:

Ariel: Hello Betsy. You wee at Jeanne's last Sunday, right? Oh I meant "were" and not wee. lol!

Betsy: Yes wee was. lol!

Ariel: Wish I had talked with you. Didn't know you wee da one. I'm sowee. lol!

Betsy: Wee will know next time.  

Posted with Aloha

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Four Agreements

I saw a poster in a Facebook community and thought I'd share it with you. The author, Don Miguel Ruiz,  is considered one of the 100 most spiritually influential people in 2014.  A link below provides more information.

Source:  Facebook

Posted with Aloha!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Deliciously audacious

Last weekend was unusually party-filled.   From Thursday to Sunday, live music and friendship filled each day.
Friday night was pretty special.  I went to a going-away party in a very nice 2-story house with high ceilings and a huge deck with a view of the ocean. A live band played on the deck.
The party was in Puna. And everyone knows what they say about people from Puna.  Punatics are supposedly a rather strange lot.  I would prefer to think that Punatics are just pleasantly and refreshingly different.
Take for example a friend whom I saw at the party. 

 My friend Malcolm lives in a Puna subdivision called Orchidland. He breezes about the place in his Moped with his long thick hair flying behind his shoulders and wearing what may as well be the most colorful tie-dyed shirt in the community. On his wrist is a hot pink colored bracelet that  can transform itself into a ruler.

I was happy to see Malcolm at the party. He had on the usual Aloha shirt, which is pretty standard among men in Hawaii to wear to either a dress-up formal or a semi-formal gathering. To go with his Aloha shirt, Malcolm wore a dark colored pair of dress pants.

 Malcolm's shirt and pants may have looked staid, especially since his Aloha shirt was not the colorful kind and cannot be described as "lurid," as a friend from the mainland likes to call Aloha shirts.  Still, Malcolm's attire was a dead giveaway to his being a Punatic. Conformity stopped at his pair of pants.

Malcolm had on a neon orange pair of running shoes.

It was deliciously and outrageously audacious.

And I just love it!

I regret not having taken a picture of Malcolm and his shoes. The photo above is from
Posted with Aloha

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Thinking of Rosie on Mother's Day

She wasn't perfect, like many of us.

A slave driver, she'd harrass and terrorize the househelp, hardly giving them time to rest. 

She was so frugal she bought herself only one (1) new dress and only one (1) new pair of shoes every year.  She hardly threw anything away and collected used plastic bags, bottles, and gift wraps and ribbons. She even kept little jars of used cooking oil which she got rid of only after they reached a dark brown color. "Never use oil from cooking fish for frying meat," she'd often say.

But she stashed money away in various places only she knew about and then promptly forgot she hid them. When her children needed money and didn't have the temerity to ask and go through her inquisition-like interrogations, all they needed to do was silently scavenge around her house and thank her later.

She liked to haul home goodies. She'd go on vacations to her farm in the country and return to her house in the city bringing sacks of rice, fruits, vegetables, fish and even several live chicken, with their feet all tied together so they wouldn't get away.  Her children were always in fear that one day she'd come back from the country and enter her house with a whole live cow in tow.

She loved gaiety. It didn't take much to get her to dance, sometimes just by herself. She'd cook for days, invite kin and friends to party and then complain of being tired and vow not to do it again, which of course she did. And repeatedly.  It was a never ending cycle of cooking, partying and then complaining. Sigh!

She had an extra pair  of antennae.  She'd tell stories of having been visited by her long-gone father or her favorite aunt.  Some mornings, she'd get out of her bedroom and announce that  she had smelt candle smoke and that so-and-so  had passed away. Somehow she knew when a friend or relative died even before she received news of the death.

Hers was somewhat an arranged marriage. Her husband's mother courted her mother. The two were classmates in cooking school.

Apparently, she had learned to love her husband. She was always at his side and nursed him through a stroke he suffered. Later, her husband did the same for her. They both passed away in the same year, as if they could not bear to be without each other. He died in March and she in August of 2004. 

She was a stern disciplinarian.  Nobody was allowed to leave the dining table unless his/her plate was clean of food. Spare time was to be used darning frayed clothes, wiping dust off furniture or watering the plants in the yard. She set curfews for her children, even if most of them managed to violate them and still get away unscathed except for a tweak on the ear.

Yet when one of her children had an untimely pregnancy, she gave only love and comfort  instead of condemnation and reprimand.

Her name was Rosie.  She was my mother.

Rosie, my mom, after graduating from college with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy
Posted with Aloha

Friday, May 8, 2015

A mother's love

As I think of Mother's Day, which is only a couple of days away, my friend Glenda comes to my mind.
I first me Glenda on the phone. She said that she got my phone number from a common friend.  Glenda  wanted me to help her relocate to Hawaii from New York. She swore me to secrecy. Apprarently her husband didn't know of her plans. "He has become deranged," Glenda said.
Apparently, the cocktail of strong medication that the husband was treated with  for  a liver ailment had been causing behavioral problems which made life intolerable for Glenda.
I made arrangements for Glenda's lodging in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii. When I met her at the  airport, she had three small children in tow. I noticed  Down's Syndrome in her only daughter, Mabel. Oh great, I told myself. She's starting from scratch  in a strange place with three small children one of whom is handicapped. Just what she needs.
Glenda was a survivor. As a registered nurse (RN) she quickly found a job in a local hospital. She enrolled her kids in school and hired a part-time assistant to look after Mabel during times she could not. Eventually Glenda bought a house. Life was good to her.
After about five  years in Hilo, Glenda called me one day and asked me to sell her house. She said that she and her RN friends were going to open a care facility in Honolulu.
After I sold her house, I didn't see Glenda again for several years until two months ago when I flew to Honolulu on a business trip. Glenda met me at the airport. Mabel was with her.  I was amazed at how Mabel had grown.
In the swanky hotel room that Glenda had booked for me, herself and Mabel for the duration of my visit, Glenda and I caught up with each other.  I learned that her oldest boy was with the diplomatic  corps in a good job at the US embassy in  Germany.  Her other son was about to graduate from the University.of Hawaii. Her plans to provide for Mabel in her old age were already in motion.
Glenda said that Mabel was not 100% dependent. She can bathe, eat and put on her clothes all by herself.  Noticing Mabel's loud snoring  as she slept on the bed Glenda and Mabel shared, I asked Glenda if she hires anybody to look after Mabel at night. 

"I sleep with Mabel every night. I've not been dating at all and have no interest to," Glenda responded. 

As we were settling down to sleep another evening, I asked Glenda "When you were still pregnant with  Mabel, did you know that you were going to have a defective baby and still  chose not to have an abortion?"
"Yes," Glenda answered unequivocally.
It took me a while to  digest Glenda's answer. I had to wrap it around my  brain  until finally just one word stood out --love.

Glenda's love for Mabel is bigger than life.

- Posted with Aloha

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Natural gas producer - Part 2

After reading my blog yesterday about the US jumping to  number one natural gas producing country in the world, a friend remarked: "I must then be the largest individual gas producer in the US and my immediate concern is not fracking but farting."


Link to 9 surprising facts about flatulence that you may not know:

- Posted with humor and Aloha

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Natural gas producer

 Statistics show that in 2013, the US produced  so much natural gas   that since then it has become the world's largest natural gas producing country.  The US has overtaken Russia, Iran, Quatar and Canada.

Supposedly the US was able to leapfrog to the top over the other countries with the help of fracking -- a very controversial technique of extracting gas trapped in underground shale. 

Some claim that the  recent spate of earthquakes in Oklahoma are all man-made and that the  unprecedented increase in their occurrence is due to widespread fracking.

A letter written by Rivka Galken published in the April 13, 2015 issue of The New Yorker says this:

 "Until 2008, Oklahoma experienced an average of one to two earthquakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater each year. (Magnitude-3.0 earthquakes tend to be felt, while smaller earthquakes may be noticed only by scientific equipment or by people close to the epicenter.) In 2009, there were twenty. The next year, there were forty-two. In 2014, there were five hundred and eighty-five, nearly triple the rate of California. Including smaller earthquakes in the count, there were more than five thousand. This year, there has been an average of two earthquakes a day of magnitude 3.0 or greater."

Dr. Elizabeth Cochran, a seismologist with the US Geological Survey, directly correlated the Oklahoma earthquakes to their close proximity to injection wells. In an interview published today, May 6, 2015 by Baltimore-based Cochran said that lulls in fracking saw less earthquakes.

I live in the state of  Hawaii, only about 10,931 square miles in land area (including water)  compared to Oklahoma's 69,899 square miles (including water).  I shudder to think of what fracking could possibly do to Hawaii if it is done here, especially since Hawaii is a volcanic state  with two currently active volcanoes.  My wild imagination sees cataclysm with Hawaii drowning in the blue pacific or torn apart by massive earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

We need  to strike a balance between, on one hand, what we do to support and provide for the world's growing population and, on the other hand, preventing danger to lives, property and  the very integrity of our planet.

So-called development and progress in the way we use technology may make money for a lot of people but of what use is that if ultimately we lose everything?

All over the world, regardless of country, many of us go about our everyday lives not knowing or worse, not caring, about what are going on around us. It is time to pay attention and stop  shooting ourselves in the foot.


- Posted with Aloha

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Thinking of Cinco de Mayo

Today is Cinco de Mayo, a time of celebration both in the United States and in Mexico.  Although  often mistaken as Mexico's Independence Day, which is really in September, Cinco de Mayo honors the victory of the Mexican army over the French in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. 

Over where I am in Hawaii, Cinco de Mayo means Mexican restaurants crowded with people waiting to be served  tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, rellenos and other popular favorites. The food is made more appetizing by a Tequila or Margarita cocktail and washed down with popular Mexican beer like Corona or Dos Equis.

I choose to honor the special day thinking of the  Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade

The Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade, having lasted for 250 years , is considered the longest trans-Atlantic shipping line ever.  Huge vessels at that tine called galleons carried cargo from Manila in the Philippines to Acapulco in Mexico and from there to the port of Cadiz in Spain. Such arrangement  was only made possible because both Mexico and the Philippines were colonies of Spain.

From the East the galleons carried silk, spices, hard wood, porcelain, gold, iron and other raw materials to Europe.

The effects of the trade on the Philippines, where I was born and raised, were deep and pervasive.  An obvious evidence of the close ties between Mexico and the Philippines is the use of the peso, as the monetary denomination of both countries. The Mexican and the Philippine peso are still used to this day.

Some traditional Filipino melodies and dances were Mexican influenced as was Philippine cuisine. One finds Adobo and Menudo not just in the Philippines but also in Mexico.

There are words in the Filipino language that have Aztec origins.  Guava is guwaba in Filipino and guayava in Mexican/Aztec language. Sweet potato is kamote in Filipino and camotli in Mexican/Aztec. Cocoa is cocoa in Filipino and cacahuatl in Mexican/Aztec.

Avocados, tomatoes, potatoes, pineapples, corn, cacao and tobacco were introduced to the Philippines via Mexico.

And of course, there were inter-marriages between the Asians and the Mexicans and Spaniards. To this day, Many Filipinos have Spanish last names.

As I celebrate Cinco de Mayo, I am grateful for the inter-mingling of cultures that the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade made possible. As a Filipino writer, Nick Joaquin, once said, the "Manila  Galleon Trade was the first medium to reduce the world to a global village."

I raise my shot of Tequila and say Ole as we celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

Ole to Mexican victory over attempted French domination!

Ole to the seeds planted centuries ago towards a global village!

Ole to anything that will  foster a better understanding  of our different cultures and acceptance of and love for other races.

Ole to Earth's rich diversity.

 We are one!

A Spanish galleon typically used in the Manila-Acapulco Trade

Posted with Aloha!

Monday, May 4, 2015

The door to La La Land

A lot of times at night, I have this nice idea for a blog. I get excited as I think about it. But somehow by morning, what I was so eager to blog about had completely disappeared from my mind. I can't remember anything at all.

Where does it go?  Where do  bits and pieces of memory go?

Is it in the same bin heartaches and heartbreaks go?

Most likely not. I  can reach into that bin for a heartache and look at it again. Feel it again. Turn it over, upside down and inside out again. See if it still hurts.

But I touch only air whenever I reach inside that bin for a blog idea I can't remember.  If it isn't in that bin where heartaches and heartbreaks go, where could it possibly be?

Maybe it went to La La land.  Never to return. Erased. Gone. 

I should  deport my heartaches and heartbreaks to La La land.

And just to let you know La La Land is not a mere figment of my imagination, I took a picture of the door leading to it.

- Posted with Aloha

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Hawaiian lei

Mention the word "lei" and almost always you are reminded of Hawaii.  As in most Polynesian cultures the lei is an integral part of the Hawaiian culture, both ancient and modern.

Early sea-faring Polynesians brought the custom of making and wearing leis to Hawaii.  For them, the lei was not just an adornment for men and women alike; it was also a way of honoring the other and sharing and magnifying love and  Aloha.

In those days, the lei was offered by hand to an honoree as the head and shoulders were  said to be considered sacred by early Hawaiians and were never touched by another publicly.

In modern times, a lei is placed over the head until it rests on a recipient's shoulders with one half of the lei dangling on the back and the other half, in front.  Hanging a lei on another person's shoulders is usually followed by a kiss -- a no-no in Old Hawaii. Refusing a lei or taking it off in the presence of a giver is considered an insult both now and in the past.

Leis are made not just of flowers, leaves and seeds. Early Hawaiians also used hair, tooth, bird feathers, whale or walrus bones or a combination of different materials.

There  is a lei for the head (lei po‘o), another to hung around the neck and shoulders ( lei ‘ā‘ī), another for the wrist and ankles ( kūpe‘e).

May 1 is celebrated throughout Hawaii as Lei Day.  Most people go about their day in Hawaiian attire, with a lei either around their neck or on their head or both; and greeting each other Aloha.
Last Friday, May 1, I wore a lei on my head in honor of Lei Day and my adopted culture.

I got lei'd. And it was good!

Here I am wearing a po'o lei on my head.

- Posted with Aloha