A Green Adventure with Dad

My father loves taking public transportation. When he and mom still lived in the Philippines, he insisted during my annual visits that we use the LRT in Manila to go to the big city from our home in provincial Bulacan. Of course, my mother and relatives did not approve. Dad and I went anyway, going to places of his childhood – Divisoria, Ongpin – when Manila was still, well, beautiful.

Light Railway Transit

  View from the station

Dad & I waiting for the LRT, 2.26.2010

Exploring Divisoria



Now, because of Dad’s daily need for dialysis, my parents live very close to me. Dad has not lost his desire for adventures using public transportation. He has a senior bus pass and regularly rides, even though he is still able to drive safely at age 81.
Yesterday, he and I decided to take public transportation to see the space shuttle, “Endeavor,” at the California Science Center, in downtown Los Angeles. Dad, armed with his iPad, Time magazine and senior bus pass, and me with my iPhone and Tap Card began our adventure. We walked from home to Sunset and La Brea to catch the 212 bus.
The Expo LineView of the Hollywood Sign

This ride took about 30 min. We stopped at Exposition and La Brea to ride the Expo Line.

I found the Expo Line station impressive. It’s clean, open and inviting. The train arrives every 15 minutes and has a nice view of Hollywood and the famous Hollywood sign.

Walking along The Rose GardenThe Endeavor

The Expo Line stops right in front of Exposition Park where California Science Center is located. Dad and I explored, discovered, learned, took photos, and lunched beside the Rose Garden.

After lunch we walked with our frozen desserts back to the Expo Line to head home. The whole trip one way took about an hour. We got home safely and in time for dinner with the family, featuring Mom’s menudo.

It’s inspiring how an 81 year-old contributes in his own little way to a greener Los Angeles. Making a small difference is possible and, in fact, quite delightful.



Time for Gratitude

Turkey, football, Black Friday, food, family get-together are the hallmarks of Thanksgiving. My hope is that my fellow beings also include being thankful to Mother Earth during this season. Here are some tips on how we can express our appreciation to Mother Earth:

1)Do not participate on Black Friday. Instead of buying new things for gifts, I challenge you to create, recycle, upcycle or give the greenest of them all – time. If you must purchase things then practice eco-friendly shopping and use your own eco-friendly bags.

2)Use real utensils & plates or recyclable ones. Practice one plastic material (even if recyclable) per person for the day.

3)Compost discarded foods. For info on how to start composting and info on what can be composted: http://www.earthmachine.com/how_to_compost.html

4)Purchase local, organic (if you can) and sustainable produce.

5)Do not purchase bottled water; use filtered water instead with home filtration units.


‘Namaste’ which means: “I honor the place within you where the entire Universe resides; I honor the place within you of love, of light, of truth, of peace; I honor the place within you, where, when you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, there is only one of us.” — Mahatma Gandhi

The actions that each individual takes at home affects the entire world as we are one.  As our world cries for sustainability, the more we need to show our gratitude to one another as brothers and sisters, as caretakers of our Mother Earth. Namaste.




Consumption on Christmas

Christmas is the time of the year when I have to exercise the most discipline in resisting the temptation to consume, consume, and consume.  In light of our current global recession and burgeoning environmental challenge, is it really holy-religious-spiritual to spend money (you may or may not have) on stuff that will eventually end up in a landfill? My unsolicited advice this year for Christmas shoppers:

            1. Don’t give. Instead, spend some quality time with those you want to honor. Do something special for them. Serve them.

            2. If you must give, choose gifts that keep on giving:

                        a) Donate to charitable organization on behalf of your loved one.

                        b  Choose biodegradeable goods

                         c) Choose art

i.Treat loved ones to a live music experience,

ii.Give books – they will eventually biodegrade; better yet, get                                                 them used

iii.Give music

            3. Don’t spend money on swaddling your gift in luxurious wrappers and ribbons. Improvise. Use whatever you can at home. Recyle bags, papers, ribbons. Use old cloth for wrapping, or colorful magazines.

Don’t just “go with the flow.” There are more satisfying and loving ways to show people your love than offering another wrapped box. 


The Burden of Owning a Car


As I write another check for my car insurance I wonder why I keep my car.

Surely I know many people in Los Angeles where public transportation is

not as accessible as other major cities in the U.S. survive quite happily without one.

Then I thought of the other burdens involved with owning a car. 


Here is my short list:

1. Increasing gasoline prices

2. Annual maintenance

3. Parking fees in addition to frustrations in finding parking

4. Flat tires

5. Accidents

6. Getting stuck in traffic

7. Supporting oil companies

8. Contributing to the destruction of our ozone layer and consequently, our planet

9. Another thing to clean or pay someone to do so


Bicycling in Los Angeles

Our family has one car, which we use only when necessary. Our reason? To decrease the use of oil, to protect our environment, for exercise, and to commune with society and nature. Though the advantages of bicycling clearly outweigh the use of an automobile, I must admit I don’t enjoy it as much as my counterparts in Europe. Los Angeles is not a bike-friendly city; it can be very dangerous. I’m seemingly invisible to most drivers, despite the width of my backside! I have many times been close to accidents and the only reason it was prevented was because I’m extremely cautious. Car drivers are not. Our city promised to make L.A. more friendly for bikers. I can’t wait for this to happen. In the interim, a plea for drivers: please look both ways!


Dangers of Skin Whitening Cream Continues

 In Cambodia, a bride-to-be was found dead. The reason is allegedly blood infection from a skin whitening cream called Bao Dao cream which contains high level of mercury. The bride rubbed the cream all over her body to whiten her skin in preparation for her wedding which caused severe allergic reactions such as peeling skin, chest discomfort then losing consciousness. Vendors have taken off Bao Dao from their shelves after learning about the woman’s death.

Two skin whitening products from China were banned in the Philippines due to high levels of mercury.

I’ve expressed many times in interviews, during live performances, and online chats my strong desire for my kayumanggi (or brown) sisters to embrace their indigenous beauty. Trying to achieve artificial "whiteness" has negative psychological and social effects; it also can be a serious health issue. In the case of two whitening products from China that were recently banned in the Philippines, the creams contained high levels of mercury, which can cause multi-organ failure, among many other symptoms. There are other whitening products recently banned in other countries (Kenya, Brunei)  because of their health risks. Common ingredients that are harmful include mercury, hydroquinone and tretinoin. A recent article in Philippine Daily Inquirer caught my eye.  "Brown is beautiful," Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay said, and I could not agree more.

I VOTED (7:31AM)!

Wow, what a great feeling! I stood in line at 6:45AM and about a dozen people were already ahead of me. At 7:15 AM I cast my vote. People did not take long at all to vote. It appeared that they knew what they want for this election. I saw some neighbors in line and we visited. I saw a line up to the end of our block when I got out of the polling place. I have never seen a turn out like this for an election before. Very inspiring!

I am Proud to be an American!

The result of tonight’s election brought back my trust in our country and my pride to be an American. We were able to look outside our differences and UNITE for a better future together. As Obama said during his speech, this is our victory. His election is an opportunity for change but we need to pull together as avid servers of our country to bring about the real change that we all need.

My Endorsements for Election 2008

1. Senator Barack Obama for President and Senator Joe Biden for Vice President

2. Yes on 1A California High Speed Rail-Bond Measure

3. Yes on 2 Prevention of Animal Cruelty Act

4. No on Prop 4 Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor’s Pregnancy

5. No on Prop 7 Renewable Energy Generation

6. No on Prop 8 Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry

7. No on Prop 10 Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Renewable Energy Bonds