Sunday, December 14, 2014

What's Behind the MassKara?

I don't usually post about work but the other week, the hospital where I work launched the December holiday festivities. The launching featured a show of streetdancing competition by the three services namely, Administrative, Medical and Nursing. Well, in support of the nursing team, a social obligation, that is, I had to learn a few simple, easy-to-follow steps that required a show of masks both at the start and end of the performance. That's because the theme assigned to us was MassKara Festival (special thanks to Jepoy and the PHC Nursing Service Dancers for patiently teaching us the steps!).

The masks we wore during the performance
I confess that all the time I joined the practice, I had questions in my mind about the MassKara Festival. I am a Negrense, yes, but call it ignorance if I never came to know the history of this festival. I was afraid that it was cultic in nature. On the day of the presentation, I wasn't able to contain my suspicion that I mentioned it to a friend who shared with me in brief the result of her search the following day. Intrigued, I searched some more and here are what I learned about the the festival.
  1. Coined by the artist Ely Santiago, "MassKara" is a portmanteau (blend of two or more words or sounds and meanings to become one new word) of mass (crowd or mass of people) and cara (Spanish word for face), thereby forming MassKara (a multitude of faces).
  2. The 20-day festival was first held in 1980 as a way of uplifting the spirits of the Negrenses after Bacolod (the country's sugar capital city) suffered a major economic crisis resulting from the downfall of the sugar industry in Negros. 
  3. The smiling mask, symbol of the festival, was used by the people of Bacolod to showcase the jovial spirit of the Negrenses amid the dead season in the sugar industry. The festival also reflected the Negrenses' grief over lost lives after MS Don Juan, a popular luxury liner, collided with a tanker.
  4. The MassKara Festival has sincethen dramatized the steadfast character of the people of Negros, symbolizing their ability of putting on a happy face when confronted with challenges. 
  5. Characterized by merrymaking and streetdancing, with people clad in elegant and colorful costumes and headgear, this festival has become one of the country's popular tourist attractions every month of October, that has generated revenues as it has drawn not only local but also foreign visitors to the province.
Such is the MassKara Festival celebration in the City of Smiles (Bacolod City)! By the way, the masks have also evolved from native Filipino masks to modern ones such as those used in the Carnival of Venice, a tradition popularly known for its distinctive masks. Hmmm... that seems to remind me of something ---beautiful photos of Venetian masks displayed in a store at Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy.

Here they are--- photos taken by Billy, my husband, during his trip to Italy.




 And masks displayed in a store at Bali Collection at Bali, Indonesia


What's behind the massKara, you may ask? 



Well, wearing a big smile could mean a lot different possibilities!  For nurses, pangs of hunger may lie beneath the warm welcome to a newly admitted patient or a bladder that could not be emptied due to a whole line up of medications that need to be administered on time. Other nurses do manage to put on a smile despite piles of doctors' orders to be carried out. They feel they might fall behind the voluminous tasks if they leave the station to take lunch or use the restroom. Yes, nurses are good at smiling despite difficulties. So the next time you see a smiling nurse, think twice! Could it be a smile borne out of adversity? or of triumph and victory? I dare you make a wild guess!
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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Blessings

This song was sung during the commencement ceremony of a group of nurses who graduated from a cardiovascular training course yesterday.

I love the song and couldn't help reflecting on the lyrics. Come sing along!


Blessings by Laura Story

Well, did you like the song? There's no stopping you to sing it over and over again. I would like to believe that the lyrics in the last stanza are very timely as my countrymen in several regions of the Philippines, particularly in the Visayas, are once again facing another threat of Super Typhoon Ruby (Hagupit). May we, indeed, find God's loving hands in the face of the downpour of rain, the strongest of storms and the darkest of nights! Please join me in beseeching the Lord God of heavens and earth, who has all the power and might to calm the winds, the water and the waves, to have mercy on us!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Google Doodlers of the Philippines 2014

Proud mother! A colleague of mine at work, she is. Who wouldn't be, when her 11-year old son, Miko, was one of the 40 finalists out of 51,000 doodlers who submitted their entries for the first ever Doodle 4 Google event in the Philippines? This was Google Philippines' collaborative effort with the Department of Education and the National Youth Commission.


Several weeks ago, I voted in all four age categories. Oh, I didn't find that easy at all! Voting was based on the given criteria of artistic merit (the quality and skill demonstrated in the doodle), creativity (how well the student incorporated the Google logo into his or her illustration, being readable, with unique and creative uses of the letters) and theme ("What can I do for the Philippines?" expressed in both artwork and the written description).

I am no painter, neither do I draw from sheer imagination. Oh, yes, I remember coloring my drawing assignments as a kid, but that never prospered to become a hobby or talent. I can copy or imitate drawings, if you call that any talent??? hahaha! Seriously now, I have great appreciation for people who are good at this.

There were 10 entries to choose from each age category. I narrowed down my choices to four per age group. Wohoo! Tough job! Here, let me share with you my choices. You may zoom in to take a closer look at each doodle to see the name of the doodler, title of doodle and description.

5 to 8-year old category




9 to 11-year old category


Miko's entry is the one on the left.


12 to 14-year old category




15 to 17-year old category




See, aren't they all beautifully done? These were just my choices. You can view all the entries of the 40 finalists here.

And the four winning entries are--- tada!!!!




Over-all winner
Well, well, well, you must have been enamored by the artistry of the kids! In case you haven't noticed, the winners in all categories were among my four choices! Hmmm... does that mean anything? 

Before I sign off, here are some best photos of Miko during the fun and googley Arts Workshop and Awards Day by Google Philippines which he and the other finalists attended.


Congratulations, Chris Mikhail Galang!

The winners (top row) and finalists. Miko at the center, front row.

Uh uhh, lest I forget, congratulations, Criselle! Proud googley-doodler Miko's mom, you are, indeed! Have more and more other artsy works in the future!

Have a great week ahead, everyone!

The Uluwatu Temple: a Taste of Bali


How's your Sunday?


Sorting out files and photos to clear my desktop are tasks long overdue. As I did several days ago, I was reminded of photos of last year's travel to Bali when I attended a conference together with some colleagues in the hospital where I work. I remember featuring in a post (click here to view) The Tanah Lot Temple, a rock formation attraction where Miss Philippines-World 2013, Maegan Young, won the crown.  Sad to say, I wasn't able to make a sequel to that anymore. It's almost a year now and the next conference is scheduled before the end of this month. Oh, I'd better be going while the memories are still alive!

Here we go---

The Denpasar International Airport, formerly, Ngurah Rai International Airport, was noticeably still under renovation when we arrived in Bali (after Indonesia hosted  the 2013 Miss World Pageant), but that did not keep us from taking photos. 


Nunga, our driver, was already waiting with his placard!


What?! I suddenly became a doctor in Bali! This certainly  gave everybody a good laugh! A nice start eh?

A pose with all the delegates before leaving the Denpasar Airport
We were able to make arrangements with Nunga to bring us around while waiting for the 2:00 pm check-in time at the hotel. What could have been a better way of spending the time? Thanks to this brochure, deciding where to go was as easy as a-b-c!


But wait! First things first! We had to find a place to eat brunch as it was getting late.  That was no problem at all. 


Nunga brought us to the cozy Warung Nyoman where I had my first taste of Indonesian breakfast--- the famous Nasi Goreng. 
  
Does that make you crave for breakfast at this very moment?
Considered as one of the national dishes of Indonesia, it's a twist of fried rice with chicken and prawns mixed with veggies and spices, and topped with egg omelette. One serving is good for two! 

After having a taste of Balinese cuisine for breakfast, we heeded the call of nature before leaving the place. It was time to empty our bladder as we had to travel light and it was still a long day ahead!

  
Now, brace yourselves as I walk you around. Oh, make sure you already had a hearty meal as this might take some time! And please do bring an umbrella, okay?

First in our itinerary, as Nunga suggested,  to which we all agreed, was the Uluwatu Temple (Pura Luhur Uluwatu), a Balinese sea temple sitting on top of a cliff bank in the southern part of Bali. It is believed to be one of the nine temples protecting Bali from evil spirits.

While walking up the steps, I prayed that I would reach the top because it was scorching hot and I was starting to have migraine. The place was very high. Praises to God, for sustaining me all the way to the top, at the same time, avoiding the monkeys along the way. See, there was no sign of migraine and panting at all when I faced the camera... only smiles as I savored the view of the waters from above. It was simply breathtaking!  And was worth the climb afterall!

Here's another photo from the cliff overlooking the waters below


Taking a few bold steps at the edge of the cliff to get a real good view was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Patience is a virtue, indeed, as there were already a few tourists on queue. But we had to take pictures of each one of us on the very same spot. 


I couldn't resist taking a photo of the farthest point of the cliff where the temple stood. 
Take a closer look at the photo below. It's the small structure on the far left. 
You can zoom in to get a better and bigger view. 


We left the place awed by the beauty of God's creation in this part of the world. 


At the gate of the temple


Tourists were not allowed inside the worship area but it was open so I was able to take these shots.


Time to leave the place!


From the Uluwatu Temple, the next stop was another famous tourist attraction,  the Garuda Wisnu Kencana (GWK) Cultural Park. The GWK is located on the southern part of the island of Bali, east of Uluwatu, 15 minutes away from the Denpasar International Airport. GWK is a 240-hectare park that sits on the limestone plateau of Bukit Peninsula. This place was built in honor of the Hindu god, Vishnu, and his mount Garuda (the mythical King of Birds).

My companions were somewhat exhausted not only with the long climb at Uluwatu, but also with the heat during the long ride that most of them just preferred to stay at the Souvenir Shop located near the entrance of the park. That was as far as we went because it was not yet time for the viewing of the cultural show.

I was not able to take photos although I did get a shot of a very small part of the head of the 23-meter gigantic statue of Vishnu from afar. See the one on the lower right of the collage below. The full view of Vishnu and Garuda on the left, which were the main attraction in the park, were both taken from google.


The heat was gradually subsiding as we left the place and the nap during the ride from GWK to our next stop must have given everybody back the energy and the spirit to scout for souvenir items  at Krisna. 


One more ride and we finally found ourselves at  the hotel. Oh, how we longed to stretch our arms and legs! 

We were lodged at Ibis Styles Hotel Benoa. Would you be interested to go around the hotel? Sure you do? Well, I would gladly usher you around in another post. See you there!

Tired after the long walk in different places all in day one, aggravated by the migraine, I didn't have any trouble getting some sleep the moment I graced the very inviting and warm welcome offered by the hotel bed... after taking a dose of analgesic, of course!  Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

Saturday, November 1, 2014

What Greater Love?

Hello, there you are! Couldn't resist sharing this poem I just found. I thought it's very timely as everyone might have been busy traveling to go to the cemetery to visit graves in memory of departed loved ones. 

I Am Not Here

Don’t stand by my grave and weep,
For I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glint of snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn’s rain.
When you awaken in the morning, hush.
For I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circle flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand by my grave and cry.
I am not there, I did not die. (Hopi Grief Song/Prayer)
Beautiful, isn't it? 

This past week until today, it's been Happy Halloween greetings I read and spooky scary images and photos I see in my FB newsfeed. Well, my family has never celebrated Halloween. My kids have never joined any Trick or Treat. Neither have they any of those Halloween costumes. As a kid, though, aside from bringing flowers, lighting candles and offering prayers in the cemetery, I remember my grandmother cooking rice cake and my father would also buy Kalamay Hati and Bayebaye (native delicacies), in celebration of the All Saints / Souls Day tradition. 

I saw these photos posted by my husband (he has been posting his best photos via Instagram) in his FB wall and Google+. These two photos were taken in a cemetery near the Matisse Museum that he visited in Nice, France.

Tomb of French painter, Henri Matisse

"What love is this that can't let go?"
Another photo taken by my husband in a cemetery in Nice
Simple, yet beautiful! Looking at these two photos caused me to ponder on some verses about life after death and so I write---

                            Once I was dead (spiritually, that is) because of the sinfulness of sin, 
                            but what great love was it that caused a mighty God to lay 
                            down his life for me? A love far greater than the woman's love of her 
                            husband who lies lifeless underneath the tomb!

                            Yes, dead in sin, I was, but made alive in Christ. 
                            For God chose to die on the Cross and rise again, 
                            that He may raise me up to live with Him. 

                           Such is our God, rich in mercy and grace, in that even when 
                           I was dead in my sin, by grace, He saved me and made me live.
                           To the death He died at the Cross He succumbed, once and for all, 
                            that I may live with Him!

"Do not stand by my grave and cry. I am not there, I did not die."