Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Before I Hit The Twig: Love A Teddy Bear!


I can hardly imagine what life for me would be like without my eager listener, confidante, and loyal friend, the teddy bear. Being the only girl in the family of four children, my teddy bear became my priceless possession. 

The teddy bear is a stuffed toy bear. It is an enduring, traditional form of a stuffed animal, often serving the purpose of comforting children. When I was young, I only had one small teddy bear that my aunt gave me. Now I consider myself as an arctophiles (from the Greek words arctos (bear) and philos (lover),a teddy bear collector.
Teddy I Brought In Cebu

I have at least a hundred different kinds and sizes of teddy bears and other plush stuffed animals in my collection, given by friends for my birthdays, and others were specifically handpicked by me. I particularly like stuffed toys with the country name in it, or the the airline carrier stuffed toy symbol. I also have the animal collection of Shangrila Hotel, that comes in free with their drink of the month. And some stuffed toys for the occasions like Christmas and Halloween.

Country Inspired Stuffed Toys: - Paris bunny, Sweden moose, Norway, Finland, Holland, USA, England, and the latest addition is Boston red teddy bear that my prince gave me as part of his valentine gifts when we were in Boston, Massachusettes.

Airlines Plush Toy Symbol:- British Airways, Continental Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Tiger Airways, Dragon Air, Cebu Pacific, Korean Air,China Airlines and DOHA Air. The irony, however,is that the airlines where I am a mileage elite -Northwest and Philippine Airlines both don't have one. Sad!
The Lobster Stuffed Toy From Shangrila


Shangrila Hotel Stuffed Animals: - I have 3 Ox, 1 tiger, 1 goat, 2 dolphins, 1 lobster, and 2 Dalmatian.

Shopping For Teddy Bears in UK (este Ukay in Dumaguete)

Various Stuffed Animals: -include a giraffe, panda, koala bear, tiger, black dog, kangaroo, elk, etc.of various sizes..
Roni and Leni's Gift For My Birthday

With this passion for teddy bears, I can mark this task in the book "2001 Things To Do Before You Die" as completed.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Before I Hit The Twig: Shake Hands With Someone Famous!


I have the opportunity today to be at the contract signing of the lease between the Church and the City of Marikina for the establishment of a FamilySearch Center in the Marikina property. It certainly was a historic event (but I'll tell more about this in my Lawyering blog as it relates to work). In this blog entry, it is enough to say that meeting Mayor Fernando and shaking hands with her is a fulfillment of one of the tasks in the book " 2001 Things To Do Before You Die".

In the past, I have also shook hands with different famous people - ranging from politicians, actors, actresses, athletes, and LDS Church leaders.

Politicians
-Pres. Erap Estrada, Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (when she was still a Vice President), Madam Imelda Marcos, Bayani Fernando, Jovito Salonga, Raul Roco, Senator Butch Abad, Congressman Rufus Rodriguez

Actors and Actresses
- Aga Mulach, Sharon Cuneta, Martin Nievera, Gary Valenciano, Manilyn Reynes, Ariel Rivera, G Toengi, Angel Locsin, Dingdong Dantes, Paulo Avelino.

Angel Locsin at the NAIA Centennial Airport



Athletes
-Hector Calma, Jong Yuchico, Asi Taulava, Alvarado,

LDS Church Leaders-Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley, Elders Dallin H. Oaks, Quentin Cook, Russel M. Nelson, Richard G. Scott, Henry B. Eyring, David Bednar, Neal A. Maxwell, Bishop Keith McMullin,Sheldon F. Child, Rex Gerrat, Keith R. Edwards, Won Yong Ko, Michael Uy Teh,

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Before I Hit The Twig: Have My Teeth Whitened!

Our smile, my dentist said, is the window to our soul. It says more about us than any other physical feature. And that's the reason we have to keep it looking at its brightest.

I have an employee benefit amounting to P3,500.00 dental reimbursement and I was then trying to find a way to make a full use of it other than the usual propylaxis (teeth cleaning) which is only a P500 at the most. That was the time I met my dentist in 2007 and introduced me to the world of teeth whitening. He said that undergoing a teeth whitening will enhance the color of my teeth. So out of curiosity and possibly to be able to make a full use of the dental benefit, I agreed to undergo the teeth whitening which I found out to be one of the tasks in the book "2001 Things To Do Before You Die" and I have marked it completed.

I tried the Sci-Pharm Teeth Whitening system which according to my dentist is the safest, lasting and most effective kind of treatment. This kind of whitening system involves a professional strength gel and a custom made bleaching tray to specifically fit my teeth, producing outstanding results. Well, maybe it didn't do much good on me because I have very little time spent at the dental office and volunteered to do it at home. I like the bleaching tray a lot (just looking at it though haha!!) but putting it on my teeth with the gel is kinda uncomfortable and makes me salivate all night. So I stopped.

A while ago, while I was cleaning my stuff, I found my Whitening System with the bleaching tray and one unused syringe of 3g whitening gel. Maybe I'll try it again and see if it will whiten my teeth still! I paid P10,000 for the whole system so I should better maximize it!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Cagayan De Oro: A Home to My Fun and Memorable Vacation

I wrote about my whitewater rafting trip to Cagayan de Oro! Oh how I loved it! But since rafting vacations aren’t the only things CDO has to offer, I feel that CDO deserved another blog entry.

I have been to Cagayan de Oro a number of times and the many wonderful friends I have there - Jean and Leily to name a few, and the the many outdoor activities there, provide me the basis for a fun and memorable vacation every time I am in the City.

Cagayan de Oro is the gateway of the northern Mindanao. Dubbed as the “City of Golden Friendship”, the Kagay-anons are the nicest folks you'll ever met (no doubt I was instant friend with Jean when we were mission companion and with Leily after our mission!)and the city itself is as heartwarmingly cozy as the people, teeming with people-friendly parks and shopping centers.



I love CDO outdoors! Not so far away from the City are beaches and rivers basking in the splendor of the lust vegetation scenery and spectacular gifts of Mother Nature.

Several spots, like the Macahambus Gorge and Adventure Park, gave me a chance to test the limits of my nerves. The sky bridge alone is enough to give me panic attack. The park offers ropelling services, and guests can also explore the Macahambus cave, or for that ultimate adrenaline rush, ride the Zip Line – a hanging slide of more than a hundred feet of high-tension cables strung up a hundred and fifty feet from the bottom of the Macahambus ravine. I didn't dare do it, but I took time to pose for a picture!!

Asking about peace and order situation, CDO, despite its close proximity to the more notoriously turbulent areas of the Philippines, maintains a relatively tension-free environment where one can usually safely walk the streets, taho vendors sing in the streets, and almost everybody closes up shop after ten or eleven in the evening. In fact, it is only in CDO that you will see Christians, Catholics, Muslims, foreigners and various mestizos in and around the city in equal concentrations.

CDO's White Water Rafting: Enjoying The Ride of Your Life!

One of the tasks featured in the book "2001 Things To Do Before You Die" is about becoming so good at white water rafting that you can be a guide on the most difficult waters. I do not think I will ever arrive at that point, but I will nonetheless count this task completed after enjoying the ride of my life at Cagayan de Oro's White Water Rafting adventure!



White water rafting is a challenging recreational activity utilizing a raft to navigate a river or other bodies of water. This is usually done on whitewater or different degrees of rough water, in order to thrill and excite the raft passengers.



In the Philippines, Cagayan de Oro City (or CDO) is renowned throughout the country as the premiere whitewater rafting destination as it is home to some of the most scenic and exhilarating whitewater rafting. In fact, it is dubbed as the “adventure capital” of the Philippines. Safe and enjoyable whitewater rafting has never been this accessible. The jumpoff area is within city limits and just less than an hour from urban CDO.

Last July 27, 2007, my prince and I went to CDO and my friend Leily invited us to go White Water Rafting. Honestly, I didn't know anything about White Water Rafting then, but since it has something to do with water I was all totally for it!

Upon arrival in CDO River, we excitedly put on our rafting gear - helmet, life jacket and paddle. Then our guide briefed us on how to paddle correctly, and why following orders from him is important.



Whitewater rapids are rated on a scale of one (I)through six (VI), indicating the difficulty of each rapid at "normal" water level. The CDO river boasts of a twenty-three rapid count ranging from levels I to VI - ranging from very easy, to easy to moderate, moderate to exciting, exciting, difficult and the last being the limit of navigation or the ceiling of most manageable whitewater rapids.

The whole water rafting experience was a blast! It lasted for a couple of hours but I didn't notice it because I was enjoying the breathtaking sceneries along the river and enjoying every bit of my ride of a lifetime!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Beijing Olympic's Lives On with the FUWA Mascot!



Yes, the Beijing Olympic might be over, but everyday I am transported back to the Beijing Olympic fever when I get on my car. Yes, my car still has the FUWA Mascot hanging on the ceiling just above the driver's seat.



The mascots were given to me by my prince when we went to China months before the actual Olympic games. The FUWA represents the five Olympic rings, four of which represents China's four popular animals and were designed to express the playful qualities of little children. Each of their names, put together, says "Bei Jing Huan Ying Ni" which means "Welcome to Beijing".

Friday, March 20, 2009

Laoag City: Within Reach


If there are many ways to skin a cat as the old adage say, there are many ways to reach the city of Laoag. This was my thoughts when I realized that I have been to Laoag six times in the last three years aboard a lancer car, then at other time on Partas bus, then on a Philippine Airlines flight, then on my Adverture van, then on board a Cebu Pacific flight and the last time being on board a long family van.

Laoag City is a city in the province of Ilocos Norte, Philippines. It is the capital city of Ilocos Norte, and the province's political, commercial, and industrial hub. It is also the location of the Ilocos region's only commercial airport - the Laoag International Airport.

The airport services flights to and from Hong Kong and mainland China, as well as, domestic flights by Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific. Foreign airlines also offer direct charter flights to Laoag.

Since Laoag is only 10 to 14 hour- drive from Manila, traveling by bus or aboard your own car are available options depending on desired time and day of arrival in the city. The flights offered by Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific are limited, and so it is good that the city can be reached by land travel passing through the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and now the newly constructed Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) for a faster smooth drive.

Tourism has become a major economic driver of Laoag City. Places of interests include the only 5-star hotel in the northern Philippines, Fort Ilocandia Hotel and Resort, a tour of heritage sites featuring Spanish colonial buildings, Philippine-baroque churches, white-sand beach resorts of Pagudpud, and Marcos-era mansions.

Other tourist sites include:
• St. William's Cathedral and Sinking Bell Tower • Ilocos Norte Capitol • The Tobacco Monopoly Monument • La Paz Sand Dunes (on ventura hi-way) • 18-hole Golf Course designed by Gary Player • Cape Bojeador Lighthouse • Bangui Windmills • Ilocos Norte Museum • and Marcos Museum.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Before I Hit The Twig: Become Familiar With Duende!

Duende, by far is the commonly spoken word when you're in the Philippines. It seems like a household word that even kids know what that is and everyone is careful not to offend duende because it can harm the individual. Duende are believed to live under a small hill or a lump soil and the name attached to very small people or a dwarf like the hobbits. I never thought, however, that duende is not a Tagalog word but Spanish until I read the task "Become Familiar With Duende" in the book "2001 Things To Do Before You Die". 

In wikipedia, Duende (mythology) - a fairy- or goblin-like creature in Spanish and Latin American 

Interesting! Now I understand where the Filipinos got their concept of Duende as being a goblin~like~fairy in the Spanish mythology. It is not surprising how that happened because the Philippines is under the Spanish occupation for more than three hundred years!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Before I Hit The Twig: Spend A Month Without Television!

I have just experienced this task in the book "2001 Things To Do Before You Die" during my recent vacation to the US for a month from February 2 to March 2, 2009. Since I have lots of things to do, which are more exciting and more important than watching television, this task was completed rather easily than I have thought.

I was in San Francisco with my bestfriend Ate Dearie during the first week (Feb. 3 to Feb. 10). Although there was a tv in both the living room and my bestfriend's room, there wasn't any in my room. So after a whole day of touring and visiting friends, I would get home so tired that I am more concerned about sleeping than watching tv.

The second week (Feb. 11 - 15), I was in Boston, Massachusettes and was staying at Homewood Suite of Hilton Hotel. There was a huge tv set. But since I was attending the J. Reuben Clark Law Society Conference at Harvard and my first time in Boston, I preferred going out to watching tv.

The third and fourth week (Feb. 6 - 28), I was in New Jersey at the house of Greg and Miriam Stokes. I thought I wouldn't be able to resist the urge to turn on that fool's box but I was wrong. The family has a "No TV Rule", so that the evil influence of the media will not permeate the beautiful minds of the eight Stokes kids - Harrison, Parker, Hannah, JT, Knox, Gracie and her twin brother and Carter. But since media also has its good side, the Stokes family has a huge collection of good movies and tv series that they watch on week nights. Besides, I went to the City every day with my prince so I really have no time to watch tv and didn't miss it.

When I get home, I seldom turn on the tv in my car unlike before.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

New Jersey: I was Stoked! (n. Stokes Family)


New Jersey is known to be the home to some of the best recreational, historical and cultural activities along east coast, when it comes to spending time with the family. It is home to renowned zoos, beautiful campgrounds and interesting beaches that will certainly give you an exhilarating experience that you will remember for years to come. But because I came here in winter, there aren't much to do out there in the zoos, parks or beaches. This didn't stop me, however, from experiencing what New Jersey is known for: spending quality time with family - the Stokes Family that is.

I was lucky and thankful for Greg and Miriam Stokes for offering to accommodate me for two weeks from February 16 to 28, 2009. Their family is awesome! At their house, you can experience having family fun together, in any kind of weather. Everynight, the Stokes Family has a family scripture reading where even Carter, a two year old, is included. On Monday nights, they hold a regular Family Home Evening where the kids learn a lesson in a spirit of fun. On other nights, the family just do something fun without any planning, like the night we have a story telling time where everyone tells stories about spiders, and on my last night we had a game of Charade and at other nights we just watch the adults favorite taped TV Show "The Office". Yes, the Stokes family has a "No TV Rule" at home (which I believe should be the rule in everyone's family with little kids!). I really feel the excitement in the spontaneous activities that the Stokes family does. It is just like, when an idea pops into their head on the spur of the moment, they follow the urge and have a sudden moment of fun with the family.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Before I Hit The Twig: Travel Alone!

by: Mhe-anne Ojeda
Signage I've Seen in San Jose, California
Traveling alone is not my preferred way to travel.For one, when you are traveling alone, there's nobody to watch your back. And I have to carry all my luggage by myself (with my petite size!) or to watch for it while I go to the restrooms or buy train tickets.It is also more expensive to travel alone because there is no one to share costs with esp. since the rooms are usually about the same price for one than for two. But I have done this task in the '2001 Things To Do Before You Die' a number of times because of my job.

I have to travel around the Philippines to meet with lawyers and I had to stay for a night or two alone. But that's okay. Since it is only for a day or two, I normally carry a few stuff (no need for checked in luggage!) and the hotel, cars and restaurant had already been arranged previously by my secretary so no problem doing that. Besides, I don't need to worry about the costs of hotel since it is paid for by the company.

So the real experience on traveling solo for me happened only on April 30, 2006. My destination? SHANGHAI, CHINA! I agree to meet someone there who out of some bad luck (maybe), didn't make it to Shanghai, leaving me alone for a week. Initially, it seemed scary but as I looked back about that experience, I consider it as unique and a very rewarding one because I made new friends and had a great opportunity for reflection and moving at my own pace. Since I only have myself to please, I was able to do things and go to places that I really like and enjoy. I also learned a number of lessons when traveling alone:

Arrived At Daytime
I took the Philippine Airlines flight at 11:20 in the morning so that I could arrive in Shanghai in the daytime. That gave me time to scope out accommodations while inside the Pudong International Airport.

Pay attention to your instincts. If you have a bad feeling about a neighborhood, a hotel, a person, a cab, stay away.

I went through the rows of hotels (for short duration stay), and one guy specially attracted me as he seemed to know English and looked very kind. He suggested a number of hotel - all nice but also very expensive. Since I only have $300 or RMB 2,229 (Renminbi Yuan, the local currency), I wanted just a place for the night and save as much money until my friend arrives.I chose Piao Ying which looks very nice and the cheapest among all the others. A standard room is RMB 608 but the guide gave it to me for RMB 330 because he thought I was asking for a discount when I moved my hand. The hotel is also well situated and really nice as it is just a stones'throw away from the Bund (Shanghai's famous European skylines which means "embankment")

Make friends with locals

Since I am alone and wanted to be in the picture, I decided to stop some tourists to take my pictures. It was a struggle at first because most of the people I approached do not understand English so I had to do the sign language instead. I had a lucky strike when I was at the Bund. The two girls I approached to take my picture are from Beijing and viola can speak English! We had a great conversation and they even invited me to go sightseeing with them. Joyce and Penny Peng are cousins. We went to the other side of Huang Pu River to view the old streets of Shanghai. To go to the other side of Huang Po for foreigners is RMB 328 but for locals it is only RMB 2! Joyce paid for me because she has a card that allows a ferry ride. Only locals know this place so I was lucky. They even brought me back to my hotel at no cost again. I am really a Yuan Fen (or "lucky girl").

Don't look at maps in busy streets

If you do this, you'll be an easy target for pickpockets. Do the map reading in a cafe, or the bookstore. Or if you are lucky like me, you can find a map at a Postal Museum!
Because I was expecting some money from my friend, I wanted to know where the nearest Western Union branch in the area. I went to the Postal Museum which is quite near my hotel. When I was inside, I saw a guy who is holding a Shanghai Map in English. It gave me the impression that maybe, Shanghai Postal Museum sells map. I asked him where I could get one but he suddenly handed me the map he was holding. I was delighted - he gave it as a gift!

Stay safe - Do not Explore at Night

The night of May 2, I decided to walk down Nanjing Road - the major shopping street for Shanghai locals, with the greatest retail display in China, 3 kms of shops running west from the "T" intersection where Nanjing abuts the Bund. I got so engrossed with the sights and the neon signs that I got lost. That was the scariest thing I have done in Shanghai. After a long, dark, scary walk, I finally was able to find a taxi.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Before I Hit The Twig: Catch A Butterfly and Let It Go!



I experienced catching a butterfly when I visited Cebu in 2008 and went to the Butterfly Sanctuary. The sanctuary raises different species of butterflies from the caterpillar stage. Then when the butterfly or moth hatches out, they observed them and and then let the butterflies go out in enclosed net fields. I enjoy watching butterflies and then taking photographs of them than catching one though, but glad that it is also one of the "2001 Things" I can do before I hit the twig.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

March: The heat of the Homecoming

My US month-long vacation is over! And of course, it is good to be back and see the kids and the whole family. The heat that I felt when I arrived at the airport yesterday reminded me that I am now in the Philippines and the summer is here. Yes, March ushers the summer time...And when it is summer, I remember my favorite activity - kite flying. There was a poem I read a long time ago in Family Circle Magazine which is about kite flying and the child named Anne. The poem was written by Eleanor Dennis entitled "March Wind".

We made a brand - new kite today
And soon as we were through
We came out here to fly it
And the wind just blew and blew
And now the kite a tiny speck;
We've just used up all the string:
I'd like to go and get some more.
Anne's such a tiny thing
To hold the kite all by herself,
I wouldn't let her try' For fear I might look back and see
Anne sailing through the sky.

Lakbayan Philippines Grade


My Lakbayan grade is A!

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Trotting The Globe

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I've been to 660 cities in 26 countries
Mhe-Anne is an explorer that:
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