Thursday, February 28, 2008

Eaton Mall

It was family day anyway. It's a holiday but commercial companies have options to be open for business. Usually Holidays here in Canada mandates that all work be closed. This means all malls, all restaurants and all services (except heat, water, electricity and TTC) be suspended. It's not so bad but it restricts people to just stay home. The family day holiday allows some businesses to be open. Malls were all open and restaurants were all open. Most of the game parks are open too. This allows families to have more options on how they will spend their time together.

Eaton Mall is I guess one of the biggest mall in Toronto. It is located in downtown Toronto and is connected to the famous labyrinth called Path. Today being family day, the mall is packed of people. The streets were empty because they are all in the mall. It so happen that we were among these people.

I should say that comparing this mall to what we have back home... it is completely uncomaparable. We have far more bigger and gorgeous malls. I still long for my frequent strolls in SM Malls and I still look forward to the time that I can again walk the grounds of my favorite malls.

This is the bridge linking two commercial building. The Bay Hudson Co. Mall and the Eaton Mall is connected by this enclosed and heated bridge.

Balls of Light

The magic behind the display of light. I have no idea about the name of these balls. So I sort of invented the the title Ball of Light. These balls were one of the toys my daughter has brought home from her weekend getaway with her best friend. They spend two days and a night at great Wolf Lodge. It's a huge indoor water park. It's quite ordinary as it is but it becomes sensational once it bounces on the floor.

These balls displays bright blinking lights when bounced on the floor. They will continue to flicker for a minute and they willl stop until it gets another bounce.

I thought it would be good to capture the lights just on it's own. I turned off the light and took some pictures of the lighted balls on different backgrounds.

Such magic!

Monday, February 25, 2008

From me to you .. the light of hope...

“Three keys to more abundant living: caring about others, daring for others, sharing with others.”

It was all planned. Today at work, a group of people (including me) were scheduled to go to the Food Bank to volunteer in sorting donated food. It was my first time to do this and I am quite excited. I have donated so many times to food drives. My kids school will have one and they will rummage the pantry so they can bring some can goods to their schools food drive. The apartment will have a yearly food drive event and they will knock to collect can goods and other food stuff. The church also has this on a regular basis. But after placing all these in plastic bags and have been taken away...where do they really go? Now, I finally know.

The donated food from Schools, Churches, or any institution all goes to Food Banks. So in the warehouse where we went, we took out all the food stuffs from the plastic bags and sorted them out to different categories (i.e. milk, baby food, soup, pasta, cereal, etc.). Once sorted, they go into boxes and was stored. These boxes then goes to various social institutions. For example, boxes of soups, rice and canned vegetables will be sent to the organization who prepares free meals for the homeless.

It was an enlightening experience. Very much like the light in the picture. The light of hope. I happen to have some and I am sharing it so that hope can be passed on. I have the light of hope in my hand...take it and be blessed and then passed it along....

PS. I will reveal the real story behind the pictures in my next blog.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Union Station

Union Station is the major inter-city rail station and a major commuter rail hub in Toronto.
The station is located on Front Street West and occupies the south side of the block bounded by Bay Street and York Street in the central business district. The station building is owned by the City of Toronto, while the trainshed and trackage east and west of the station is owned by the commuter rail operator GO Transit. Serving 200,000 passengers a day, it is the busiest passenger transportation facility in Canada.

Do you know that this building was constructed in 1914 and was finished in 1921? It survived world war 1. There is too much history attached to the walls of this structure.

Someday I will go beyond this lobby and experience the train ride. Perhaps I'd go to Quebec or to Vancouver. I'm sure it will be so fine.....

Streets and Buildings of Down Town Toronto

What can I say?? This were taken during one of the official holiday. On ordinary days, these streets will be swarming with pedestrians and vehicles.
Too cold to get more pictures... perhaps next time, the weather will be more forgiving.

Brookfield Place and Richtree Market Restaurant

Brookfield Place (formerly BCE Place)[1] is an office complex in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada, comprising the 2.1 hectare (5.2 acre) block bounded by Yonge Street to the east, Wellington Street West to the north, Bay Street to the west, and Front Street to the south. The complex contains 242,000 square metres (2,604,866 sq ft) of office space, and consists of two towers, the Bay Wellington Tower and the TD Canada Trust Tower, linked by the six-storey Allen Lambert Galleria.

This structure is what they call the 6 storey Allen Lambert Galleria. It links two towers. The Wellington Tower at the right and the TD Canada Trust Tower on the left. Underground are more food courts and commercial areas. The light on the floor is not a reflection but a glass transmitting the light underneath. The achitectural design of the arcs is simply amazing.

This is a shot from the other end. The restaurant is located here. There was a line of people wating to be seated when we got there.

The restaurant is called "RichTree Market restaurant". It is almost similar to "Street Life" in Makati back home. That is probably why I like it. The setting is set up like a market. Unfortunately, no picture taking is allowed inside the restaurant. At the entrance, each guest is given a card (with magnetic strip) to be used to buy anything in the market. My kids instantly liked the idea! It's like handing them an unlimited credit card! We were ushered to our table and after that we are free to go visit the market to get our food. There were pizza stall, grilled meat stall, seafood stall, pasta stall, beverage and dessert stalls. The daughter went to the seafood grill and ordered grilled salmon with fried rice. The son went to the meat stall...chose a nice steak and had it grilled medium rare! and on to the potato stall for some gratin potatoes. Me? i went to the pizzaria and ordered a gourmet pizza. The next thing we like here is the dessert! There is a huge huge's practically dessert heaven! The daughter who finished first stood up and grabbed her card and disappeared. When she showed up, she was holding a huge banana crepe with chocolate syrup. I am too full to have dessert so I opted for a cup of coffee with a slice of cheesecake for takeout. I will not miss out on the dessert.

Hmmm.... the difference from Street Life is....there is no Band playing. It's all eating and talking. Well, close enough!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lunar Eclipse and my Imagination

“Mun!”…this is the first uttered word of my son. I remember it very well because once he sees the moon at night he would say it over and over with fingers pointing towards the sky. That was 12 years ago… a lot has changed since then. He went to school, he went through surgeries, and we went across the ocean. The only thing that remained constant is the moon. And last night, the moon played a game with the Sun and the Earth.

There was a lunar eclipse last night. I wondered if I could get a decent photo of the eclipse form my point and shoot camera. The thing is, I could not stay too long outside the balcony because the temperature is at –18 degrees C. I need to just go out from time to time to check on the moon and pick the best moment to take a picture. Tripod set and after 20 shots of adjusting here and there… I ended up with only three decent picture worth posting in this blog.

I guess earth sings this line to the moon….

“Kabilugan ng buwan
At ang hangin ay may kalamigan
Aakapin kita mahal ko
Sa buong magdamag”

And the moon sings back….

“High, higher than the sun
You shoot me from a gun
I need you to elevate me here
At the corner of your lips
As the orbit of your hips
You elevate my soul”

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Family Day and Down Town Toronto (Part 1)

It’s a new Holiday for Canada and they’ve called it Family Day. No school, no work at least for those not in the retail service. Unlike other holidays, most of the Restaurants and malls are open today. Family can go to places and really enjoy being together.

We chose to go and visit downtown Toronto. There is a restaurant that I’ve been dying to go back to and maybe this is the lucky day.

Downtown Toronto is a very busy place. With the hustle and bustle of commercialism it is the center of activity. Most commercial and financial buildings are there. With it are buildings of old, full of history and of time past. Hospitals and Universities can also be found in down town. You can imagine how the traffic is like during rush hours!! It’s chaos! It’s a good thing we don’t live and work in downtown. That is why it is still pleasurable for us to visit and take a feel of the place.

Parking is hard in downtown … it’s either there no vacancy or it’s too expensive. So the next best thing is to take the subway.

We needed to go to Union Station because the restaurant is near that station.

Here comes the train. DWA stands for Designated Waiting Area. It is priimarily used for late commuters. The area has a surveillance camera so it is better to saty there while waiting for the train just in case you get mugged or something. Doesn't it remind me of LRT back home just that this ones underground.

There's not much people. Remember it's a holiday. The train is seldom this empty during regular days.

Let's pause... next stop is BCE Place...the place to be!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Akala Mo (Did You Think?)

Akala mo hindi ko nakita
Maligaya ka 'pag ako ay masaya
Akala mo hindi ko naisip
Na kasama ako sa iyong panaginip
Bawat sabihin ko
Alam ko nakikinig ka
Akala mo siguro hindi ko nakita
Akala mo hindi ko pansin
Akala mo hindi ko alam
Mahal mo nga ako kahit hindi mo man sabihin
Akala mo hindi ko napansin
Akala mo hindi ko naririnig
Tibok ng puso mo't kaba ng dibdib
Akala Mo hindi ko nadarama
May kasama ako sa lungkot at saya
Kapag kailangan kita
Dumarating ka
Akala mo siguro hindi ko nakita
Akala mo hindi ko pansin
Akala mo hindi ko alam
Mahal mo nga ako kahit hindi mo man sabihin
Akala mo hindi ko pansin
Akala mo hindi ko alam
Mahal mo nga ako kahit hindi mo man sabihin
Akala mo hindi ko napansin
Akala mo gano'n lang yon
Alam ko 'yon kahit noon
Akala mo hindi ko napansin
Song by Aiza Seguerra

Who needs a cooler in winter??

Really…outside is an enormous freezer! It has some uses though. If I want to cool my newly cooked chicken broth as quickly as possible, I’ll simply bring the whole casserole outside. In half an hour I can skim off all the frozen fat on top. How convenient is that?

The attached picture shows another use of the snow outside. It is perfect for chilling all the drinks! It was my nephew’s birthday yesterday and the need to chill a big amount of drinks was necessary. When it comes to massive chilling without overloading the fridge is to simply throw them all out in the snow!

Just make sure the squirrels won't be having their own merrymaking at the same time! That is why buddy the dog is there! He will make sure that the squirrels and the chipmunks will be at bay.
I wonder how the chipmunks would bribe buddy for a couple of Coronas??? I probably would give in if they sing and rap "Lonely" by AKON. Geesh.. if that happens, they might as well join the paty! LOL

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Isang Linggong Pag ibig

Lunes ng tayoy magkakilala

(Monday, when we met each other)

Martes ng muli tayong magkita

(Tuesday, when we saw each other again)

Miyerkules nagtapat ka ng iyong pag ibig

(Wednesday, you told me you love me)

Huwebes ay inibig din kita.

(Thursday, I loved you back)

Biyernes ay puno ng pagmamahalan, mga puso natin ay sadyang nag aawitan

(Friday, our hearts are singing of love and passion)

Sabado tayo’y biglang nagkatampuhan

(Saturday, we had a misunderstanding)

At pagsapit ng Linggo, Giliw ako ay iyong iniwan.

( and when Sunday came, you left me all alone)

O kay bilis ng iyong pagdating (You came in my life so suddenly)
Pag-alis mo'y sadyang kay bilis din (And you left as swiftly)
Natulog akong ikaw ang kapiling (I slept with you beside me )
Ngunit wala ka nang ako'y gumising (And by the time I woke up, you’re gone )

O kay bilis ng iyong pagdating (You came in my life so suddenly)
Pagalis mo'y sadyang kay bilis din (And you left as swiftly)
Ang pagsinta mo na sadyang kay sarap (Your love that is sweet and fervent)
Sa isang iglap lang nawala ring lahat (All gone…. in a flicker. )

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Taste of Home…Turon ni Em

Where we love is home,Home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.
~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr

During my university days… (God knows when was that…but I refuse to dwell on that thought at the moment), there were timeswhen I would go home right about 3 pm tired and hungry. I would get off the jeep at the corner of Espana and Blumentritt. It would take a couple of blocks walk before I reach our house. On summer days this will always be a constant battle of will and physical exhaustion. However, in spite of all the resentment of having to walk under a scorching sun, I would always look forward on passing by the small stall of “Banana que”, “Camote que” and “Turon” right at the corner of Blumentritt and Piy Florentino Street. They are always a lovely treat after a days work.

Those were the old days. At least for me who is now living near the intersection of Pharmacy and St. Claire Avenue. And I do miss those sweet treats being sold on the streets of Manila. Yesterday was one of those days. I suddenly had a craving for “Turon”! The sad thing is, I can’t just go to the corner to buy it. I have to make my own…. with a lot of “buntunghininga” (sigh). I went to the Chinese Store to get myself some spring roll wrappers (thank God they have it), as well as some brown sugar. I can’t and will not be able to find the kind of banana that we use back home (we call it Saba) unless I want to use frozen or bottled ones. So, I found a substitute that they call Plantine bananas. The thing about these so called Plantine bananas is that I need to find the ripest ones or else I’ll end up having the hardest banana ever. Okay, I have made some substitution and hopefully it will bring me as close to the authentic ones.

I am yakking about Turon, expecting everybody to know what I’m talking about. So inconsiderate of me. My apologies. Turon is a sweet treat composed of bananas and brown sugar. This combination is then wrapped in spring roll wrapper and deep fried. It will look like spring rolls but unlike the flavorful taste of spring rolls, the turon is sweet. The only similarity of the two is that they both share the crispiness of the wrapper once fried.

This is my Turon. Fresh from the frying pan. I should say that my little exodus has sent me to the streets of Espana and Blumentritt for the briefest moment. A taste of home is all I need to get my heart all warm and fuzzy in the middle of winter.

PS. Even buddy love Turon now! :)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Artwork of Joey Velasco.... Inspiring!

When my relatives arrived from vacation back home, one of the “pasalubong” (souvenir) we got is this wonderful 2008 Calendar. It was a collection of Joey Velasco’s artwork. It’s the first time I’ve heard about this painter. So, I was off to the internet to look for him. He was a young man indeed but very very artistic. He is not just an ordinary artist. For me he is an artist with a spiritual and patriotic heart. He had brought into his paintings his faith in God and his love to the Filipino people. Each artwork touches the heart of the beholder. I know for it has touched mine. Each painting has a Title and a short commentary which is equally moving.

More information about the artist can be found on this link :

I will try to post about the painting each month to ponder on the message of each work of art.

Pagkakasubsob , 2005. Oil on canvas, 60x48

This painting is more than just about falling down. Picture a humble God who draws strength from a heavy fall; he allows a powerless and insignificant child to nurse his wound, to love him. A sign of weakness? Christ knows about a different strength. He allows people to love him. This painting is about being humbled and awed at the same time. It is about allowing others to give us a lift when we fall and feel weak. And as the paint dries and hardens on my canvas, it teaches me how to
soften my stance and tenderize the soul. Sometimes, all I need is a good cry.
Joey Velasco

Pardon the picture. Better ones are in the above mentioned site.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Sweet Thoughts

“My heart smiled when you kissed my lips. What a sweet surprise.”

Friday, February 1, 2008

5 Year Harvest!

"Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later."

Og Mandino

From a short ceremony after the All Hands Meeting, Service Awards have been handed out. These awards were given to employees who have worked 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, 25 years, 30 years in the company. During that time there were two people who had their 5th year service award (ehem ;)), two people for their 10th year, one person for his 20th year and get ready for this... one person for his 30th year! Beat that!

Meet the fruit of my labor. Labor of five grueling years. I just received my 5-year of service award from the company I work in. It also marks the number of years we have stayed here in Canada. Yup, this if my first job since my family migrated here in Canada and I have been blessed with such a caring and trusting work environment. It may not be the like the high level job I had back home. But it has given me a sense of acceptance (opportunities) and a considerable amount of trust for my abilities. I should say that I have accomplished a lot since but still need to do more. Within the five years I was able to move forward from being a clerk to a technician to a technologist and now supervisor. It was not an easy task but I'm pleased that my efforts have not been in vain.

This company has helped my family survive a completely new environment. It has earned my loyalty and dedication. I thank them for acknowledging my service and devotion.

Does it look good?