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.



Green is Gorgeous 1: Why an environmental column?

[published at Asian Journal July 2011]

Most Filipino-Americans know me for my music, for creating a new genre combining Filipino melodies with American jazz called “jazzipino.” Indeed, performing my original music has taken me around the globe. During these tours, exploring new countries every year, I was frequently exposed to the perils faced by our Mother Earth – perils that are largely a result of human beings.

In 2008 I started becoming active in environmental campaigns. I’m currently a member of Food & Water Watch and Sierra Club (specifically, the Water Committee). In the past three years, whenever I’ve attended green festivals and other environmental campaigns I’ve noticed that very few Filipino-Americans participate in these events. Sometimes I’m the only Pinay.

My objective for this column is to bring salient environmental information to the Fil-Am community. I encourage my kababayans to participate in the most urgent issues facing us and our families. What kind of planet do we want to leave our children, our grandchildren? These are questions that can no longer be ignored.

As I inaugurate my column, today is also the first day of a newly enacted law that bans plastic bags at large stores outside Los Angeles county’s incorporated cities.

Passed by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors on November 16, 2010, 67 large supermarkets and pharmacies are not allowed to provide customers a plastic carryout bag. This prohibition does not apply to produce bags used to prevent contamination with other grocery items, such as those that hold fruits, vegetables or raw meat.

If the stores offer paper bags, they must sell them for 10-cents each.

One of the many benefits of this ordinance is to reduce the stacking of plastic bags in our landfills. Plastic bags, usually made of polyethylene, does not biodegrade, decompose, or break down organically. This means they will stay where they’re buried forever. If they’re exposed to direct sunlight, they’ll eventually crack and turn into microscopic granules, a process that takes between 500-1000 years. Landfills being giant holes in the ground don’t receive much sunlight. Our plastic bags will be “with us” for a very long time.

A 2006 Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times documented how plastic bags have damaged our seas and the life they contain. In fact, because plastic bags are not biodegradable, a garbage patch twice the size of Texas is turning clockwise in the Pacific Ocean between San Francisco and Hawaii. You can see it on Google Earth: our trash, coming back to haunt us.

Thanks to the dedication of environmental groups working with County Supervisors Gloria Molina, Mark Ridley-Thomas and Zev Yaroslavsky, we’re starting to see positive changes in our environmental policies. Communities such as Rowland Heights, Hacienda Heights, Altadena, La Cresecenta, Topanga Canyon, Marina Del Rey, Baldwin Hills, Athens, Willowbrook, Florence, Rancho Dominguez, Valencia, East Pasadena and East Los Angeles are affected by the new no-plastic-bags ordinance.

The environment doesn’t end at city boundaries. Whether or not you live there, every time someone disposes of a plastic bag you’re affected, too.