Thursday, April 27, 2006

When in Milan, do as the Milanons do???

I was in Italy again during the Holy Week vacation. The last time I was there, I was in Rome. I loved it then and I still love Italy now. I love the people, I love the culture, I love the sun! and P.S. I love the shopping!!!

We left on Maundy Thursday at about 9 p.m. because Jazu was still working overtime. We were going to travel through the Mont Blanc tunnel with Tito Roque. There was a little nervousness at the border because my Schengen visa was about to expire but I needed to get out of Switzerland. Even if just for a while.

So, we found ourselves over the mountain (and through the woods???) and spent our first day in Italy in Como, the beautiful lakeside city where the famous George Clooney owns a mansion and WHERE the golden couple of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are supposed to wed. We didn't go to Bellagio but we did take a small tour through the monuments in Como. We even went up on the FUNICOLARE, the cable car that brings you on top of the Como hills that overlook Lake Como and the surrounding commune.

Being on top of the Como hills is breathtaking and looking down on the commune below made for a few fashion photo ops [will probably upload pics to my photoblog].

When we got down, we rested a bit and went to Milan via the interregional train. And voila! Forty-five minutes later we were in Milan Centrale and making our way to the Duomo where the Pinoy movie "Milan" had Piolo Pascual and Claudine Barretto feeding the pigeons.

Saturday was market day and the "mercato" for clothes were packed with tourists and local people buying the bargain wares ranging from the latest fashion trends to matching leather goods, etc.

Since Saturday was the only day to buy, I spent the whole afternoon in the mercato. Rain couldn't stop my shopping spree. Jazu had gone on to Rome to be with her friend Princess.

Sunday was a holy day. It was the "Pasko ng Pagkabuhay" (Easter Sunday) and Tito Roque and family including my godchild RR (Roque Robert) and of course, me, went to Caravaggio where the water fountain is said to be miraculous.

That same night, I was Geneva-bound. It was the longest four hours of my life. Traveling in facing seats with strangers can be a bit uncomfortable especially if your seatmate's boyfriend's foot was touching your pants! And it had a certain odor to it. A little respect for your travel companions pls! The lady in front of me was also anxious and tried to smile but just couldn't. I was praying for the couple to get off at any stop now, thank God they got off in Lausanne. I had 30 minutes of peace with the silent lady in front of me.

All in all, the trip was fabulouso! I can't wait to go back to Milan to visit Joy, our newfound friend who is just "dying" to see us. :) Hope you'll read this Joy! Mwah Bella!

(Photos by Jazu and Me)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I'm Moving!

Hello everyone. I changed my URL address to . See you there.


When I took up journalism ethics in college, we tackled envelopmental journalism. It’s the type of journalism that “pays” journalists so they will write stories favoring a certain entity, be it a person, a company, etc.

I thought, it’s easy to give back the envelop, it’s easy to decline. It’s easy to stand on that moral high ground with the thought: ME? I WILL NEVER DO THAT. Boy, was I wrong! I had my first taste of this last Sunday. I was covering a church event. It was the anniversary of one of the Catholic Church groups here in Switzerland and they had a national conference to celebrate it.

The lady said she had something for me earlier on. She said thank you for my earlier coverage of a meeting that took place in Geneva. I was only doing my job. I covered it. I didn’t really pay attention as to what that that “something” was. But I had a feeling it would be money.

She dragged me around the conference venue and had me interview every big honcho there was. She was apologizing and prodding me at the same time. At the end of the conference, she came up to me with a folded amount of money. It was only one bill but it was big enough. I refused many times. She said, “No, no, it’s yours.” I couldn’t say outright, “It’s unethical. I’m only doing my job.” I could definitely not say “Hindi ako bayaran” (I am not paid). It would be rude. I didn’t know how to get out of it without hurting her. So, I accepted with every bad feeling in my heart and decided I would give it to charity. I will not use it for any personal gain.

She was a nice lady just thinking of my welfare. But it’s not right. Every journalist will face this dilemma in his or her life. It is a real temptation when the amount gets bigger and bigger and come Christmas time, you’re overflowing with gifts. It’s even more difficult when you are in dire need of money. I hope that journalists everywhere will continue to report faithfully, true “uncoloured” events, without money or without any gifts, because it is our job to report the truth and only that. It’s something we can be proud of.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


I was listening to 101.1, a local radio station in the Philippines, over the Internet. It was playing Original Pilipino Music (OPMs), old songs from my youth, including the OST of The Never Ending Story. I had this sudden urge to write after hearing a soulful rendition by what I suspect was Jessa Zaragoza doing a Sharon revival.

It is very funny to feel so moved by something usually taken for granted because you hear it all the time in your home country. And the association with OPMs is it blaring from the speakers, while stuck in traffic in a crowded jeepney, in a very polluted street, at the very dark of night.

Being abroad usually makes the familiar in an unfamiliar place such a welcome experience. For example, hearing the Top 40 in the Philippines even when you’re thousands of miles away or hearing OPMs that you grew up with and were already alive in your grandfather’s time.

So many things change when you are far away from the place you call home. Any little reminder of it becomes such a big deal and sometimes it moves you to tears. This time it brought a big smile to my face as I was reading The Alchemist, a book by Paulo Coelho, speaking of dreams; the radio was playing in the background and had already rendered “Ikaw ang lahat sa akin”, I’m not really sure what the title is and some song revival by Olgie Alcasid.

For many OFWs, April Boy Regino is a real idol. I heard him in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates before his X-forming “Di ko kayang tanggapin” days. I was totally amazed. I almost cried!

It is when you take yourself from what you know, from what you grew up with, from things you take for granted, that you realize what they meant for you. They were home.

Being a wanderer though, it’s hard to call one place home - but for me, I really found it in the Philippines. I could identify with the place, I could identify with the culture. I realized it was me. A part of the Philippines had traveled with me to all the places I went to. I left a little part of the country in everywhere I went as I took a little part of my host country to the Philippines. And I will continue to bring a little piece of the Philippines to wherever I go. And I’m glad that I can hear OPMs a thousand miles away from home.