Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 New Year's Eve Celebration

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda


Our family New Year's eve celebration for 2009 was a time of great hope and joy for my family! Like most Pinoys, our family are also set to achieve prosperity and other wishes in the coming year by observing some Filipino New Year traditions like preparing food for our media noche (Spanish for midnight), placing round fruits on the table, wearing polka dots, placing coins on the windows and stairs or using stuff around the house with circle designs on it and greeting New Year with loud noises but only through the use of torotot (cardboard horns), jingling coins and car horns (in lieu of the firecrackers and other pyrotechnics that most Pinoys enjoy using).

In addition to those common tradition, however, we wanted to make our New Year's Eve a meaningful one. At 9pm, we held our Family Home Evening. Here's our Family Home Evening New Year's Eve Program: (the assignments were done by draw lots like what we always do on our regular Monday Family Home Evenings).

Presiding: Papa Joselito Ojeda
Conducting: Kuya Mike Ojeda
Opening Hymn: (Videoke accompaniment) - We Three Kings of Orient Are
Opening Prayer: Frannie (3 years old daughter of my brother Joel)
Spiritual Thought: Ian Benedict Ojeda (10 year old son of my brother Allan)
Lesson: Joel Ojeda (it is his first time and he did very well.I think he is a born teacher and a comedian)
- Developing Our Talents
Games: Papa and Imee

- Passy Duck Quak for adults
- Hep Hep Hooray for kids
- Hep Hep Hooray for adults
- Newspaper dance for kids
- Chico Couple Dance contest for adults
- Guess What's on the Bowl? for both kids and adults

Whose Resolution? Game: Mhe-anne
Testimony
Closing Hymn: Auld Lang Syne
Closing Prayer: Jay-M Ojeda(9 year old son of my brother Mike)
Media Noche
Watch Fireworks, Making Noises and Jumping to get taller


Whose Resolution? Game
Since New Year is a time for looking back to the past, and more importantly, forward to the coming year, our family wants to know what's everyone's want (or need) to make and resolve to follow through some changes in their lives in year 2010.

I have everyone written down a new year's resolution on the slip of paper and they put the same in the can. Then, I pulled one slip of paper out of the can at a time and read it out loud. Everyone has to guess who they think made that resolution. The person who guessed it right wins a prize. There were three winners. Then I read the rest of the resolutions and the person comes forward to elaborate on what he or she has written!

From the list, I came up with Top Ten New Year's Resolution of my family.

1. Be Sealed in the Temple
"Family Life is the best method for achieving happiness in this world, and it is clear pattern...(of) what is to be in the next world." Spencer W. Kimball

It is almost everyone's desire to be an eternal family by getting our family sealed this year. Me and my two brothers Mike and Allan are already endowed and they are also sealed with their respective families, so we needed to help Joel and my parents to get endowed as well so I can get sealed with my family and Joel to his family as well. We will help the family achieve this goal by doing all that we can to make family home evenings regular and a good experience.

2. Be Patient
It seems that all mothers' patience is being tested this year since my three sisters -in-law have a common new year's resolution of having more patience. They do not realized that they are the most patient kind of all!

3. Be Kind
It is always revealing what kids want to change in their lives. My three nephews James, Jay-M and Jay-A who has been specially naughty this year committed to be kinder and stop fighting with their siblings.It was sweet to hear them apologize to those who had been hurt somehow by their actions.

4. Be active in the Church and Read the Book of Mormon and Other Scriptures and Church Magazines
My family vowed to make this year a year to learn more about the scriptures and about the doctrines of the Church. My parents especially committed to not miss a single sacrament meeting and Sunday School this year. We will also have a family scripture reading of the Book of Mormon during our family home evening. Also we resolve to have a personal reading of the Book of Mormon daily.

5. Spend More Time With Family
This year my brothers want to spend more time with their respective families by coming home early for family dinners and family prayers. We will evaluate our family home evenings and will work to improve them. Work shouldn't always come first!

6. Quit Drinking
One of the resolutions that I picked out from the can to be guessed was "I won't drink anymore". There were three names that we thought have a problem with drinking once in a while, so other guessed it is them. But it was all wrong. The one who actually wrote the resolution is our guest Joy, who is the niece of my sister- in- law Imee. But even then we could not ignore the fact that our family members have some problems with it as well, so they committed to overcome it and observe the Word of Wisdom this year and in the year to come!

7. Save and Get Out of Debt
For some family members money was a big source of stress in 2009 and have resolved to spend this year getting a handle on their finances. Before the year ends, we have resolved to pay debts starting from the smallest to the biggest and was successful in keeping only a few major but necessary debts. For 2010, we resolve to pay tithing and then pay ourselves first before other expenses. We promise that we will maintain each person savings account.

8. Be healthy and enjoy life more
We resolved to be healthy and live a less stressful lifestyles this year so we can enjoy life more.If there's anything in our life that is keeping us from being healthy - we'll get rid of it. Then we will try some good exercise, get more sleep and engage in recreational activities to meet just about anyone's wishes to be healthy and enjoy life.

9. Be more persistent and work hard
This year has been a trying one for my brother Joel doing a freelancing job connected with the media. He resolved to be more aggressive at finding a more permanent job and working hard to keep them. He resolve to be more active in the Church while doing it.

10. Have a home improvement
My nephew Ian was the one who said he wanted to have some changes in their room - make it bigger. Although it seems like a "stray" resolution considering what the other kids have written (and he cried of embarrassment when he realized that his goal is more of a materialistic wish). But I believe that for a wholistic improvement in my family, some temporal things should also be taken cared of. I believe that my nephew feels that their room is becoming very small for their growing family, them growing older. Since there is no way to widen their room, I offered to turn the visitors room as the boys' room and they will be the one to sleep there except when I have visitors. He committed to be responsible in cleaning the room and maintaining order there.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Family 2009 Christmas Celebration

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda


Our family set a Christmas tradition that let us experience a meaningful Christmas celebration each year. We wanted Christmas to be focused on family, service and teaching my nieces and nephews, now ten (10) of them, the true meaning of Christmas. A week before Christmas, the whole family -from the youngest to the oldest- would go Christmas caroling,to a chosen group of people and give them some little treats. For the last two years we did caroling around the Village, I'm being new here then. But since it is now my third year in the Village and we have lots of gathering with our neighbors, we felt that we would carol all the new members of Deparo Ward.

There were 11 families visited last December 19 and 20. Also, we decided to have a Pasalove (a GMA 7 inspired theme) recipient - an old couple who lives outside the Village. We went there last December 19 and sang Christmas carol. The couple lives in a shanty. We do not have any information about who they are, but my sisters -in-law, Imee and Bhebe always notice them on their way to their kids school, to be just sitting outside their humble home, and they didn't seem to have any relatives. They wanted to drop by and talk to them and give them pandesal, but hesitated. So they told me about it and chose them as our Pasalove recipient this year. The goal is to visit them every night and bring them treats. Last December 19 we sang carols to them and learned tatay name as Celso de los Reyes. He is half blind while nanay delos Reyes is blind. We had the kids brought them basket of apples and pears.Then the next night we bring them dinner. During our family home evening, the kids testified that they felt good giving acts of service to the couple.

For Christmas eve, our tradition is to have a family home evening and invite some special people. Last night joining the home evening fun is the family of my personal driver Mario and Joy the cousin of Ate Amy and Joy the niece of Imee. Kuya Mike's lesson is on the lost sheep, lost coin and lost son and focusing on repentance and atonement of Jesus Christ. As we celebrate his Birth, the greatest gift we could give Him is our better selves.

I am assigned for the games. First we had the Trouble game, Hep Hep Hooray and Bring Me games for the kids. They all had fun.

Then our family game, "I WILL". The "I WILL" game is our replacement to what Pinoys love to play - BINGO. Instead of the usual no. 1-75, words like Be Kind, Be patient, Participate in family activities, Listen to Others, Follow Jesus Christ are on the box. I found this game in the Friend section of the Liahona in 2005 and played it since then. The only twist we put is to spell the phrase I- L-O-V-E - U. The first to mark and form I wins the prize, then L, then O and so on. My family had fun last night as they remember the good virtues and win grocery bags and cash gift.






Then we had an apple dance contest and the Pinoy Henyo. Kuya Mike and Ate Amy won the apple dance.


We played "Pinoy Henyo" just as how it is played in Eat Bulaga. All the couples teamed up and one of them will guess the word by asking questions answerable by Oo, Hindi or Puede. All the words are related to Christmas - Jesus Christ, caroling, Christmas tree, puto bumbong, Wise men and Reindeer. The first place with only 6 seconds is Joel & Imee, then Mario & Marivic came second while Mama & Papa, Allan & Bhebe, Mike & Amy and the two Joy are third to sixth place respectively. They got different sizes of canned assorted biscuit.





After the games, we had the Monito Monita (exchange gifts) among kids and adults. Santa also did come and fill the kids' stockings.


Our Christmas definitely has more meaning to it as we focused on family, friends, service and rejoicing and giving thanks for our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Before I Hit The Twig: Love A Teddy Bear (Not One But Many!)

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda


I found this little memorabilia from my friend May about teddy bears. I find this really nice and thought of updating my blog entry on loving teddy bears, as one of the tasks in the book "2001 Things To Do Before You Die" that I have marked completed. There had also been several additions to my arctos (bear) collections that I have not included in the first blog entry.


Teddy's from CS Nabil

These cute teddy bears from Paris, Bahrain and Qatar are courtesy of my couch surfing friend Nabil Mekouar, a Morrocan from Paris who is working in Qatar. I was really elated to receive three cute teddies all at the same time. I asked him, why he got me three when I asked only a teddy bear with Qatar in it. (I know it will be next to impossible to visit Qatar and have a stuffed toy from there so when he asked me what souvenir I want, I readily grabbed the chance to own a Qatar teddy bear!)

Luckily though,he could not find a toy with the name Qatar in it, so he just got me a camel teddy that talks! (of course, I could not understand what he says but that's fine! he is soo cute!). Not exactly satisfied with the toy, Nabil got another teddy while he was in Paris. It has the word Paris in it so that would complement the camel teddy, he thought. While in Bahrain for a lay over, he found exactly the stuffed toy with a country in it.He thought that fits the description because unlike Paris (which I visited last year), I haven't been to Bahrain and will not visit it for a long while, at least. So there I have it! I got not one, not two but three new teddy bears in September.


In November, my law office partner and friend Atty. Jojie Olivete surprised me with a new NY teddy after her visit to New York,USA! I was in New York last February but didn't find a teddy bear, so getting one unexpectedly just feels so great!

So, as my eager listeners, confidantes, and loyal friends called "teddies" continue to grow,there could be no better project than a room for them. I had this cabinet constructed for my teddy bears as a home improvement project in October!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My Wonderful Family

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda



As I prepare for Lesson 45 -"The Family Is Ordained of God" for the Sunday School Adult Gospel Doctrine class, I remember our trip to the photo shop for our family photo session last November 30 so we could have a family portrait as a gift for our parents 39th Wedding Anniversary on December 19, 2009. I can't believe how big our family has become now from just 6!










Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve said:

" The plan of the Father is that the family love and companionship will continue into the eternities. Being ...in a family carries a great responsibility of caring, loving, lifting and strengthening each member of the family so that all can righteously endure to the end in mortality and dwell together throughout eternity. It is not enough just to save ourselves. It is equally important that parents, brothers, and sisters are saved n our families. If we return home lone to our Heavenly Father, we will be asked, ' Where is the rest of the family?" (in Conference report, Oct. 1996,88; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 65)



To this end, our family will continue to work hand in hand to follow the teachings embodied in "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" which contains the Lord's teachings regarding the family, given through the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. The proclamation states that "successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work and wholesome recreational activities".


Kuya Mike's Family







Me








Allan's Family














Joel's Family

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Korea's Telenovela and My Visit to Busan, Korea

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Yesterday was the airing of the Philippines' remake of Full House, starring Heart Evangelista as Jessie and Richard Gutierrez as Justin. The remake is a welcome thing for me because Full House is my favorite telenovela of all time and the airing brought lots of good memories not only of the telenovela but of Busan, Korea in general.

Full House is a romantic comedy series from Korea starring Song Hye Kyo (yes! the lovable girl from Endless Love and my friend on FB) and Asian heartthrob Rain. It is my favorite Korean telenovela that was aired in Korea in 2004 and whose tagalized version was aired by GMA 7 in 2005. It is a story about love and heartbreak, sadness and self-preservation (and I included a synopsis I found in a website on Full House).

Jessie is the woman lead character of the drama. It is shown as a cheerful, optimistic and loyal girl to her friends. Naive and not very smart, she is shown as a character with spunk and a good heart as displayed in her never ending quest to be a writer. Her journey with Justin(Bi) is filled with trials and (at first) unrequited love. She is best described as an orphaned online novelist who lives in a beautiful house (called FULL HOUSE-named by her father) which she inherited from her parents. Her troubles started when her closest friends tricked her by sending her on a trip to Shanghai so they could sell her house behind her back. When she returned, she found out the house was sold and she had nowhere to go. The person who bought the house is the famous movie star Lee Young Jae and the only way she could stay was if she would be his personal maid.

Justin is a top Korean actor. He does his utmost not to hurt other people and not to be hurt himself. Every movie he starred in became a blockbuster. He is stubborn when it comes to selecting which movies to star in, but he has received much acclaim for his talent. Although Justin always behaves and speaks as he wants, he does that only to protect himself from being hurt and not to hurt others. People think of him as a very candid person, but that is also Young-Jae’s strategy to hide himself – or rather his failure to express himself to the fullest. As one who is unaccustomed to being frank and open, Young-jae is bad at making friends and very proud of his ideals and principles. He deeply loves his childhood friend, Elaine (Hye-Won), even though she shows him no affection. One day, he stumbles upon Jessie and slowly falls in love with her.



I fell in love with Full House that I bought the complete tagalized version (at P3,500.00! then) so I would know the ending ahead of everyone else. Also, I knew that having a full volume would allow me to watch over and over again the scenes that I like the most (and they are many!!). I was so fascinated with Full House not only because of the endearing and humorous scenes but because I had been to five cities in South Korea in 2002 - Seoul, Busan (then Pusan), Masan, Ulsan and Daego and somewhat familiar with some of the places in Full House and other Korean telenovelas that I watched religiously until now - Endless Love 1-3, Jumong, the Legend, Jewel in the Palace, Stairway to Heaven, Kim Sam Soon, My Sassy Girl etc. Currently, I am watching Shining Inheritance and the Philippine remake of Stairway to Heaven in addition to the Philippine remake of Full House.

Since Busan, Korea has been the setting of most of the korean telenovelas I have watched, let me share with you the many memories of my travel to Busan in 2002 when I discovered the charm and magic of the city.

Being in Busan at that time was a magic in itself. It wasn't a part of our itinerary to South Korea as my best friend Dearie and I were bound to Ulsan, South Korea through Seoul International Airport, upon the invitation of my Korean best friend Michael (Ji Bong Gyu). Michael was one of the almost a hundred Korean students I taught conversational English from 1992-1998 and visiting him in 2002 was a dream come true.

The itinerary we chose would fly us to Seoul and from there take the bus straight to Ulsan. While at LDS Seoul,Korea Temple, we met Jee Young,who lives in Busan and she invited us to visit her there. Wanting to see more places during our short visit we excitedly grabbed the chance!


From Ulsan, we took the bus that brought us straight to the Busan Station. Not having any cellphone at that time, we were advised by Michael to borrow a cellphone just from anyone, so we can call Jee Young when we reach Busan. And so we did! We randomly stopped a guy who has a cellphone. He can speak English and he called Jee Young through his cellphone. He volunteered to talk to Jee Young in Korean language and after a few minutes Jee Young found us and brought us to an LDS house who served as Mission President in Seoul. They have one child who joined us in our Busan Asventure. The family was very kind to us and gave us a nice accommodation. Angels indeed are of different faces!

Haeundae Beach

Busan, because it is home to everything cinematic, it is called the "Hollywood" of South Korea. To me,however, Busan is the Hawaii or San Francisco of South Korea because of the Haeundae beach. The beach was nice and it is so close to the tall skyscrapers. We strolled along the white sands and listened to the sounds of seagulls.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

My Ocean Parks Adventure

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda



I love the Ocean because of the colorful varieties of the species of fish and marine animals and the excellent marine life with an abundance of hard and soft corals. It is fascinating to have a date with these water species as I scuba dive or snorkel.

But I could not always go under water when I like to, because of some limitations like bad weather, cold water (i can't handle it really!!)during winter months or in the Philippines "cool" months from October to February and of course the hassles and the expense of going and traveling to far away locations just to see these wonderful marine species. For this reason, I really love the idea of Ocean Parks and Sea Aquariums. With these structures I am able to enjoy underwater life without getting wet during the colder months.

I have been to several underwater theme parks abroad like Underwater World Aquarium in Guam,Ocean Park Hong Kong, Underwater World in Singapore,Siam Ocean World in Bangkok, Thailand, Aquaria KLCC in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Sydney Aquarium Australia in Darling Harbour and just last weekend, November 28, 2009, to our very own, Manila Ocean Park.

UnderWater World - Guam



Last January 2006, I visited Guam as part of my work as an International Legal Manager of the Office of General Counsel - Asia. With my colleagues Keith and Mary Ann Worley, Associate Legal Counsel of OGC-Asia, we went to the Underwater World Guam to eat at Sam Choy restaurant. UnderWater World Guam is one of the longest tunnel-aquariums in the world and the only oceanarium in Guam. The aquarium opened in 1999 and has more than 2,000 animals representing more than 80 different species. Many of the animals included in the aquarium are native to Guam and the surrounding Marianas Islands.



Ocean Park Hongkong


Ocean Park Hong Kong, is a marine-themed amusement park that I visited with my friends (Jean, Marcs, Ping and Nilo)in January 2007 as part of the birthday celebrations of Jean and Nilo. The park is huge and separated by a large mountain into two areas, The Summit (Headland) and The Waterfront (Lowland).

The theme park currently has 35 rides in addition to the different Aquariums - Pacific Pier which features Californian sea lions and different species of seals; Atoll Reef which is a four-story high aquarium holding more than 2,000 fish in 250 different species; Chinese Sturgeon Aquarium, another aquarium exclusively for 5 Chinese sturgeon; Ocean Theatre where you can watch the performances by dolphins and sea lions; Ocean Park Tower, a sort of observation deck that rises high enough for park-goers to survey the South China Sea and the Sea Jelly Spectacular, an aquarium built to display more than 400 jellyfish.


Aquaria KLCC, Malaysia


The Aquaria KLCC is an underwater park located beneath Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre within Kuala Lumpur City Centre development precinct. It features a 90-metre long underwater tunnel and houses over 250 different species and over 20,000 land and aquatic animals from Malaysia and around the world. I have seen the Aquarium during my first visit but didn't go inside during my visit last September 29, 2009.

Underwater World in Sentosa, Singapore


Underwater World Singapore is an oceanarium located on the offshore Singaporean island of Sentosa. Opened in 1991, it has more than 2,500 marine animals of 250 species from different regions of the world. The oceanarium is underground and has a 83-metre (270 ft) long travelator that moves visitors along a submerged 6-millimetre (0.24 in) thick acrylic-windowed tunnel from which they can look at an array of marine life including coral reefs, stingrays, moray eels, turtles, sharks and others.

Siam Ocean World Aquarium

Siam Ocean World is the biggest aquarium in Southeast Asia located at the heart of Bangkok. It is Thailand’s first world-class aquarium. The aquarium is open daily from 9am-10pm and the entrance fees (for both locals and foreigners) are Bt450 for adults and Bt280 for children (with heights between 80-120 centimetres). I've seen it in 2001 during my first visit in the country and don't have a good camera. I should visit it again when I go to Bangkok so I can have some digital pictures.

Sydney Aquarium Australia



I went to Sydney Aquarium at Darling Harbour when I bumped into Kenzie and Caleb from Colorado last July 8, 2009 although we didn't go into the Aquarium on the same day because of limited time. At Sydney Aquarium, you can walk under water and explore Australia's rich and diverse aquatic life and habitats.

Manila Ocean Park



The Manila Ocean Park is an oceanarium in Manila, Philippines which was opened only last March 2008 behind the historical Quirino Grandstand at the Rizal Park. Unlike Hongkong's Ocean Park with rides attractions, the Manila Ocean Park boast only to an oceanarium, which they said is larger than the Sentosa Underwater World Oceanarium in Singapore. The Oceanarium includes Agos (Flow) – a rainforest motif complete with 8 tanks of freshwater fishes; Bahura (The Reef) – exhibition of artificial corals in 48 tanks; Laot (Fishing Ground) – features big fish and Eagle-spotted rays in a long tank; Buhay na Karagatan (Living Ocean) – the main attraction of the oceanarium is a 25-meter long walkway tunnel with 220-degree curved acrylic walls similarly seen in Ocean Park Hong Kong, Underwater World in Singapore, Siam Ocean World in Bangkok, Thailand and Aquaria KLCC in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The difference between MOP's is a 220-degree curved tunnel as compared to the standard 180-degree curved tunnels seen in other Asian countries; Kalaliman ( The Deep ) - showcases marine animals found in the deepest parts Philippine waters;Pagi (Sting Ray)– variety of rays fly over while you're under this unique Overhang Tank; Pating (Shark) – features several species of shark.

There is also a marine-themed mall and the hotel, theme park, outdoor pools, Dr. Fish, Boat Ride and a Jelly fish Aquarium called "Jellies - Dancing Sea Fairies".

Saturday, November 28, 2009

My Own Doctor Fish Story

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda



Once upon a time, on a sunny afternoon of November 28 in the day of our Lord 2009,I went to Manila Ocean Park located right behind the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park (Luneta).

A friend from my mission Arlene, with the same spirit of adventure, joined me..

Then my Vietnamese friend Ha arrived and joined us for the day of fun before she goes back to Vietnam on Monday, November 30. .

After our lunch at the Inasal resto in front of Ocean Park,

we headed to the topmost floor of Manila Ocean Park to go to the Fish Spa. We went straight to the Fish Spa without paying the P400 entrance fee for the Oceanarium

We paid P120 and were given a small blue towels each and after a few seconds took off our footwear, and dipped our feet in a shallow pool full of fish .

There are two pools -- one with smaller fish and one with bigger fish. We chose the bigger fish which were more aggressive but quite scary to behold .

The Doctor Fish, as they are called, nibbled at our feet and ate the rough dead skin cells
. .

It's really very ticklish at first, so we were laughing out loud to our hearts' content

but we got used to it after a while. After 20 minutes of Doctor Fish nibbling, our feet felt incredibly smooth and clean. And we left the fish spa with a one - of - a -kind experience, feeling pampered,rejuvenated and with healthy skin.

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