Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Shallow Stein

Here’s an excerpt from a Joel Stein article in TIME Magazine, April 9, 2007,9171,1604946,00.html

Jollibee, with more than 1,400 stores in the Philippines and 11 branches in California, makes McDonald's look like a funeral parlor. Its mascot is a jolly bee, and the restaurants are blindingly happy, all giant, shiny yellow blocks, as if they were designed by an architect from Legoland. Even if you gave Walt Disney all the ecstasy in the world, he would not have come up with this. America, according to Jollibee, is clearly a place of childlike optimism. Jollibee's two most popular items are called the Yumburger and the Chickenjoy. The Yumburger has a weird, plasticky dollop of French dressing in the middle. The crisped-up French fries are dry inside and taste as if they weren't just double fried but dunked in oil four or five times. The fried chicken is halfway decent, but the inflated, happy fakeness of Jollibee makes you feel that the only American its Filipino owners have ever seen is Pamela Anderson.

Can you believe what this obtuse clown has been saying? It’s pretty obvious that he is slanted, if not totally bigoted, writing about this. And it totally irks when reading articles like this is that everything have to “taste” like American, “look” like American, “feel” like American. And Joel Stein has been clueless (ignorant?) in writing about Jollibee’s concept and appearance. And please, Jollibee was NOT made for America. Although, it is American style-inspired, Jollibee is 100% Filipino made for the Filipino people. The bright red and yellow colors of Jollibee depict the happy, open-minded and tolerant nature of the Filipinos. Jollibee was made for, and will always be for the boundlessly good-natured Filipino children. And Jollibee has been a big hit in the Philippines before it came to America to cater to the taste of the Filipino people residing here. Why does Joel Stein thought Jollibee was made for America?

He may not fancy the taste of Jollibee, but to call it fake is outrageous. I wonder what standards Joel Stein are using. His own twisted, tainted American standard, perhaps? And to say that “the only American its Filipino owners have seen is Pamela Anderson”. Can you believe a TIME writer like Joel Stein still think that Filipinos have limited, puny and crude view and experience of America? For his information, the Jollibee owners can buy him anytime, with plenty of millions still to spare. Hmm, it makes me think if Joel Stein still believes that Filipinos live in tree houses. Can you believe this Shallow Stein?

I used to like reading Joel Stein’s articles, but this definitely has turned me off. It doesn't matter if he calls that crap a "humorous article". Down with Stein, stand up for Jollibee!!!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Niagara Falls, 16 May- 18 May

It was half-past two in the afternoon when we arrived at Niagara Falls, NY. After an eight-hour drive (and never missing any exits), we were finally there. It was cold- only high 40s, and the sun was never out! After checking in to our hotel, we ventured out to the Niagara Falls Park, and found out that the whole town was practically deserted. Very few shops were open, and even fewer people (tourists) were there. At only in the 40s temperature, who would want to vacation in that condition? We learned, much later, that visitors start coming in after the Memorial holiday. We were a tad early for Niagara Falls.

We saw the American rapids first, then crossed the pedestrian bridge to the Goat Island, where several lookout points to the American Falls and the Horseshoe Falls are located. At the tiny Luna Island, people can see the thundering rapids before it jumps onto the American Falls, and the much smaller Bridal Veil Falls. It was pretty amazing. My favorite was the Terrapin Point, where you get a magnificent quarter-view of the mighty Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side. The rising mist, the rushing water from the Niagara River, and the falls itself was a true beauty beyond words. Going down the steps to Terrapin Point, on a gloomy early evening, with the view of Canada and the soaring mist from the falls- it was a surreal experience. I have always wanted to see the Niagara Falls, and there I was, and it was all that I have expected. And much more.

I guess the perk of visiting Niagara on a cold, gloomy day is that you have the whole park to yourself and you don’t have to clamor for a spot to get the best view. At Prospect Point, and at Luna Island, you get the best view of the American Falls without anybody cutting you off.

We found dinner at the only restaurant which seemed to be open- an Indian restaurant called Punjabi which served an all-you-can-eat, cold, stale, baaaad, poorly-spiced Indian food. Ugggh. The waiters even looked as bored and as stale as their food. But what can one do? I think eating our baon granola bars would fare better. The Hard Rock Café, although it had blaring music outside, doesn’t seem to be open.

The next day, it was even colder- only in the 30s! We started the day with an oversized, overrated breakfast at the local Denny’s (no other choice, nowhere else to go). And then we headed out for the Maid of the Mist. It was surprisingly inexpensive at $12.50, and the experience was superb. We had the ubiquitous blue raincoats and we were on our way to a 30-45 minute sail at the foot of the American Falls and then at the sublime, stupefying Horseshoe Falls. The spray of cold water from the falls on our faces was unbelievably exhilarating!

The most overwhelming part of the Maid of the Mist trip was when the boat was actually at the foot of the Horseshoe Falls, and there you can see and hear nothing but the thundering waterfalls, the mist, the roar of the falling water and you can all but feel, drink, taste, smell and hear water! Actually, in the midst of it all, I spied a lone goose (a goose, the hubby insisted because I kept on saying a duck) right smack at foot of the falls, having a ball swaying in the waves and acting like it was not a big deal. I’ve seen nothing like it! A goose with a been-there-done-that attitude!

We spent the rest of the afternoon visiting a godforsaken shopping mall, a lonely Polish Catholic Church in an equally deserted neighborhood. The whole town seemed to be side-tracked, and there was nothing else to see but the beautiful falls. It was kind of sad. We talked to the Polish lady who cleaned the church, and she told us that the town is being abandoned by the young people and old people remained and they kept on dying. She said that the Catholic Church may have to be closed soon. We also drove up north-east to a village called Youngstown. It was an idyllic place, and further up on Lane Road, we can catch a glimpse of the blue Lake Ontario. Early evening we were headed to the Seneca-Niagara Casino, and this time I was let in by the bored young man at the entrance. We hit the slots, but we never won anything. Not even a dime. As expected.

At ten o’clock on our last night at Niagara, we returned to the Prospect Point to see the illuminated falls. Beams of colored floodlights light up the falls and it was incredibly beautiful. Mists rose up in a medley of colors and it had a spectacular, enchanting effect. Aaaamazing. Not bad to cap our last night.

On the day of our departure, the sky was suddenly bright and sunny, and it was warm. Luck wasn’t on our side, I guess. The trip back home was pretty uneventful except for one thing- we almost ran out of gas! In the middle of Pennsylvania back country! I feared that we may have to flag down trucks and ask for spare gas, or hitch a ride home, haha! What happened was really absurd. We didn’t fill the tanks while in Niagara, thinking it was a bit expensive there and we will find something cheaper on our way. When it was time to head for the next gas exit, the hubby got an unexpected call from his boss, and we missed the exit. The tank was almost empty, and so we thought, oh, in the next gas exit. And the next gas exit turned out to be at least 40-50 miles away! And the low fuel light was flashing, and we were panicking. We don’t wanna be stuck in the middle of Pennsylvania boonies!

So after an eternity of roads without gas signs, and every minute passing feeling like puking and passing out, we finally found four gas stations. The hubby said he was never ever been happier to see a gas station in his life, haha! Moral lesson? Always fill the tanks full, and never ever assume there’ll be a gas station at the next exit.

Thoughts on the Niagara trip? Beauty. Nature. Calm. Solitude. Abandon. Simplicity. Power.

of caves and a bell

The other Sunday, we visited the Luray Caverns in Luray, Virginia. It was my first time to be inside a cave and to be “16 floors” below the earth’s surface. I tend to be claustrophobic, but the Luray Caverns was huge inside and it was well-lit for the tourists, so my fear for confined places and darkness never cropped up. Plus there were lots of guided tours that went on inside, so it wasn’t exactly like going deep into hell’s deep alone ;) And too, there were kids who chose to cry and scream and shriek every time the guide gives a speech about stalactite this and stalagmite that, which made it harder, with her thick redneck accent, to understand what she was saying!

But I was impressed with the cavern. It was pretty amazing, with its rock formations, the clearest pool of water I’ve ever seen which reflected perfectly the stalactites, the mazes and crevasses and everything inside. It was a great nature’s creation. It was like under Pluto’s lair, yet, not that scary.

And to continue on with our touristy romps with my mom-in-law, we took her to Philadelphia on Monday. The weather was fine, and so it was an enjoyable day to be in the historic city. First, we had lunch at this Malaysian restaurant called the Banana Leaf. I had the salted fish fried rice- one of the many things I miss from home. Salted fish fried rice, we meet again! David had a ferociously spicy prawn noodles bowl, which he labored (seriously) to finish. He gave up at half-bowl, and settled to eat the chicken satay with peanut sauce.

After lunch, we went to see the Liberty Bell and the Independence Hall. Pictures here. Pictures there. Pictures everywhere. And then it was time to go home. We actually had a glimpse of the famous Rittenhouse Square, but never had time to explore it. Next time, next time.
I felt we’ve spent more time driving than actually spending time in those famous tourist spots. I was so tired. Sooo tired.

Friday, May 11, 2007

my funny names

Your Mexican Name Is...
Doña Dominga

Your Celebrity Baby Name Is...
Poppy Zola

It made me laugh! Try it! Happy weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Meat, meat, meat!

Thank God I’m a meat-eating creature! I never thought I could eat that much amount of meat in one sitting. Last Saturday, a nice lady at work who frequently treats us for lunch took us to dinner to a Brazilian restaurant called Chima (pronounced SHE-ma).

Chima offers traditional Southern Brazil style of barbecue. And the skewered meats are served on your table by gauchos (Brazilian cowboys). All you can eat! You just have to flip your round disk (which they gave to you before you start your meal) to orange to signal the gauchos to keep the meat coming, or to black when you want to take a break. First, we started off at the salad bar where you can choose a delicious selection of salads and other Brazilian specialties – Feijoada, potato salad, Waldorf salad, mashed potatoes, Tabbouleh tomato antipasta, cucumbers, assorted cheeses, beef carpaccio, farofa, fruits and a lot of other sinfully delicious things. Several kinds of rice and soups were also served. And they had this tiny round, cheese-filled bread you eat with turkey pâté which are heavenly.

And talking about the meat, gauchos with loose-fitting trousers and orange neckerchiefs were constantly making rounds serving top sirloin, lamb, rack of lamb, filet mignon, flank steak, prime rib, chicken, salmon and sausages. So it was a game of flipping it orange or black until you can’t take it anymore. Truly a meaty, satisfying experience!

We also had a taste of guarana drink from the famous Brazilian berries, which is believed to be energy-boosting. We had a great, great time! But I think I’m going to take it easy with meat for a while from now on. Meat is so good, and I won’t be timid to say vegetarians are missing out a lot! Life is too precious (and short) to dump meat completely!

Cheers to all the carnivores out there!