A Needed Upgrade Of Filipino Independence Day

Today, June 12 my country is celebrating its Independence Day.  It’s the day when Philippines was freed and got liberated from centuries of Spanish colonial rule.  All forms of media here in my country today seem to rejoice and acclaim the freedom my country had 121 years ago.  It’s not bad.  But such commemoration seem so 121 years ago that it failed to level-up and be upgraded in a more current and present-day perspective about freedom.

My country’s celebration is still so stuck about the freedom from political and social control by the Spaniards.  Every Filipino shouts that it really feels good to be free and independent! But are we really free and independent in the true sense of the word today?

Spanish folks definitely has moved on and would not really care anymore about the goings-on in the Philippines today.  Yet still here we are, still so stuck with the thought of being freed and be independent from these folks from Europe.

Can we simply upgrade our thoughts on today’s celebration?  I would rather rally about true freedom and true independence today in the context of the present-day Filipino situations and circumstances.  I guess it would be better if Filipinos would rather contemplate on whether we are really free and independent socially, politically, morally and (wallet-wise) economically. 

Yeah we have our own government but are we really free from shameless politicians and government officials? Yeah we have freedom of expression, but are we really free and be accepted by fellow Filipinos on who we are regardless of skin color, dialect, physical attributes and sexual orientation?  Yeah we are free from economic control by other countries but are we really independent money-wise that we no longer have to worry on where to source the dough needed for tomorrow’s food, clothes, medicine and shelter? Are we really free from traffic congestion, bad education and racial discrimination? Parang hinde! (Translation: It seems not)!

I don’t want to spoil today’s revelry.  Besides, bakasyon ngayon or it’s a non-working day today!  The last time I checked, Spain has no plans of recolonizing us.  And I guess we Pinoys still have a lot to work on regarding the true meaning of freedom and independence.

smile… it’s free!

Ismayl lang yata ang libre! Pridom ka dyan!

Perfect Strangers at 72nd Street Subway Station

Every subway station in New York City seem to depict and tell their distinct story.  Each station appears to have their own unique and notable personality.  One striking subway station that I stumbled upon which I was truly impressed with was the Second Avenue subway station at 72nd Street.

And out of curiosity, I tried reading articles about the remarkable design and artwork of the station.  I then found out that the numerous glass mosaic images on the walls of the station were done my artist and photographer Vic Muniz and he appropriately named these works of art as Perfect Strangers.

Perfect Strangers being a public art display can easily be perceived as a celebration of diversity of the people who live and work in any NYC neighborhood.  It is also a powerful message to all commuters about the normalcy of life in New York.  These mosaics can simply be distinguished as the microcosm of the city which reminds everyone of us that life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.

working hard

young at heart

super friends

father figure

love wins

And it looks like this station has been earning some popularity and a amiaable reputation from people who loves taking photos.  It is because I noticed that it was not only me who was there taking photos of those Perfect Strangers on the walls! I’m pretty sure the live breathing strangers would post their photos in their respective Instagram account.  My photos however don’t seem to do justice!

Enough with the rumination! Let me just announce that I am so loving this station!  The price of the subway fare would be so worth it even if your purpose is to see and check-out the Perfect Strangers!

perfect strangers

the world has so much to offer

Galing!

OY/YO a Symbol of NYC Multi-Lingualism

I fulfilled my personal promise that I would go around Brooklyn in case I would return to New York.  Brooklyn was the dynamic and remarkable borough I failed to visit the first time I toured NYC.

One goal out of this fulfilment was to check on the chic and chichi Brooklyn Museum, one of the largest and oldest museums in the United States.  But prior to entering the fine-looking museum, one would have to inescapably notice two giant letters.  It is unavoidably apparent because the figure is about 8 feet in height, 17 feet wide and it is flamboyantly bright yellow in color.

Entitled “OY/YO” by artist Deborah Kass is a giant pop-art sculpture that is part of the public art display of the Brooklyn Museum.  And everybody who got to step into the Brooklyn Museum for the first time, for sure, has a photo with this iconic sculpture.  I of course had mine!

Let me then relay my rumination about this piece of art.  OY/YO for me presents the onlooker with an abundance of meaning.  This seemingly simple yet humongous sculpture can resonate in different languages.  It can speak to onlookers may they have differing cultural, linguistic, social and ethnic background. 

Spanish speakers for one may read it as “I am” since YO is the Spanish word for I am.  But people from Portugal and Brazil may perceive it as saying “Hi” since OY is the Portuguese word for “hi”.  While Americans (especially African Americans) may see it differently because YO has evolved as a common and informal salutation among these people.  Yes, yes, Yo!

i admit, filipinos can sometimes be so american…

i prefer this one… because it got angst in the filipino tongue

In Somali OY is a word meaning vote!  Lithuanians and Yiddish speaking folks on the other hand may regard it as OY since Oy is the word they use for expressing disappointment and annoyance.  OY in Armenian, Uzbek and Azerbaijani according to Google translate is the English word for month. 

But for me, as a Filipino, OY/YO the sculpture would speak in both ways.  It is acceptable in both forms, as Oy and as Yo.  Similar to the American salutation, Filipino folks especially the hip-hop and rapper class would also use YO as an informal salutation.  It is like saying “Hey” in a friendly manner.

But once upset, irritated and wants to confront someone, Filipinos (may they belong to hip-hop, pop, disco, techno or other freaking genre) would address that someone as OY.  Oy is also like saying “Hey” but in an ill-mannered cheeky tone. And once Oy is uttered to you several times by a Filipino in a crude and threatening tone like Oy! Oy! Oy! Oy! Oy! This would mean you must have been caught from some kind of trouble and needs to pay for the repercussions that you seem to have done.

So it is just but fitting for OY/YO to actually be placed and exhibited in NYC, Brooklyn Museum in particular.  It is because NYC is considered the cultural melting pot of the planet.  Everybody in NYC seem to know and speak a second language. And OY/YO the sculpture can symbolize the multi-linguistic representation of everyone in NYC.  I am so fortunate to have bumped into such a vivacious kind of a sculpture.

And if OY/YO would have the opportunity to visit Manila, this sculpture would definitely be a big talk of the town because it has meanings and can definitely resonate something to a Filipino like me.

Yes, yes, yo! Oy, oy, oy!

Talking to the Huge Seated Dude in Washington D.C.

When I revisited Washington D.C., I revisited a humongous guy seated on a humongous chair.  The first time I visited four long years ago, I simply looked at him, be at awe and did not dare talk to him.  But this time around, I did not miss the opportunity of speaking to him and have him hear what I have to say.

I told him that the country he once led had gone a long way.  It’s free, it’s wealthy and has gone powerful.  I congratulated him on that.  I also told the seated guy that there are still pressing problems and tough challenges in his land that can’t simply be solved overnight.

 But what impresses me most is that in his home-land everybody seem to have the right to be ridiculous yet the people strive for democracy, liberty, opportunity and equality.  I also told him that I am particularly fascinated by some of his people’s good will and listening hearts.  I then asked the seated guy if he can adopt me and snatch me away from my present country.  The guy remained seated, unmoved and did not respond.

I then left and move on with my touring of Washington D.C. hoping that on my next visit he would say hello and would realize that I deserve to inhabit his land.

Dedmabels ang lolo mo! 

Unique Looking Washington D.C. Metro Station

I have written in the past that one benchmark for me to consider visiting and exploring a place or spot on the planet is the availability and complexity of its metro or subway system.  The subway or metro train has always been my preferred mode of transportation when discovering a metropolis.  It is quick, cheap and convenient. 

Also, for me, an urban zone’s train transit system is a suggestive representation of that place’s culture, social conduct, and communal conventions.  Riding the subway train is like being one with the locals.

When I was in Washington D.C., its metro train system was my most used mode of transportation known as the Metrorail. And what is so distinct and captivating about the Metrorail is its exceptional look, motif and pattern.  Its design is like a weird fusion of retro and space-age at the same time.  Being at the station creates the feeling of being in a futuristic movie set in which such movie was created sometime in the 60’s.

It is weird but I also often felt like being inside a thermos bottle!  And it also felt like some strange alien is about to pop out at the end of the stunning tunnel.

Even the lighting of the stations were something unique.  It’s not bright like the usual and distinctly dim which adds up to a whole lot of character as compared to other typical subway stations of other urban zones!  Being at such an uncommon looking-station adds up to the unique Washington D.C. experience.  The Metrorail stations are also photo-friendly.  It’s actually Instagramable!

And through my readings, I have learned that Washington D.C.’s metro stations were voted and included in the list of America’s Favorite Architecture.  After reading such, I seem to not be so surprised by this recognition.  Metrorail is hip, cool and totally dumbfounding.

Sakay Na!

Glimpsing The White House Because Of Mayor Pete

I made a detour!  After spending five awesome nights in New York, my earthly body travelled 366 kilometers away from NYC and arrived at the capital of the United States, Washington D.C.

And like NYC, it is also my second time in this part of America.  And one inevitable spot that every D.C. tourist visits is of course the house located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the White House.  I really don’t have plans of seeing the official residence of the US President during this visit.  Maybe it is because I don’t like the one who is presently staying there.

shot this using only my samsung note 8…

But interest stirred and grew in me of taking even just a short glimpse of the White House because I am so moved and inspired by one person who I hope shall to be the next resident of the US Executive Mansion.  His name is Pete Buttigieg, the Mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

This blog seldom talks and discusses about politics, but since I am in Washington D.C. I might as well mix a little political ingredient in this post. 

There has been a big buzz about him in the present US political arena.  He has been compared to Obama and even the late Kennedy.  He is now considered one major contender to run for President of USA under the Democratic Party.  And during my stay in New York, majority of YouTube videos I watched were about this charismatic gentleman.

And it looks like he is the one who can beat and kick-out the present White House resident who plans to take another 4 years of tumultuous term as President.  Now watch this – the first speech I have seen – and be inspired, be moved and be stirred by Mayor Pete… (I also love the music his team used after this moving speech

mayor pete… really hope he makes it…

The guy is such a class act.  He seem to possess the right words and is grounded.  He has the wit, depth and moral compass which seem to be lacking in the present US President.  And what I like most about Mayor Pete is that he is not embarrassed of who he is.  If selected by the Democrats, he would then be so hard to handle by the Republicans because he pretty much is the total opposite of the present US Chief Executive.

And if he becomes President and I happen to providentially return to Washington D.C., I will definitely go and revisit the White House.  Not just to take a glimpse from far away but I may as well book and get a reservation to get inside it.  And if that happens, I will not just try to shake the hands of Mayor Pete, I will instead snatch him from his husband and seduce him out of his bottomless wits!

selfie with the white house…

Yun nga lang di ako botante sa Yu Es!

The Electrifying Time Square NYC

Stepping on Time Square every time a person tours and visits New York is always one of the main highlights.  I know that locals, unless they work there, would as much as possible avoid this pandemonium of a place.  But since I am a tourist, I have all the right to visit and feel the energy and vibe of Time Square.

New Yorkers should be proud and be pleased by the sense and feel that Time Square offers to its visitors.  Time Square for me seem to be the modern-day center of the planet.  There is no official language on this spot of earth.  Everybody seem to speak of their own.  And Time Square is one big animal that seem to celebrate a non-stop party, 24/7!

I don’t know but every time I step on Time Square, there seem to be some weird electricity that seem flow in me.  Maybe, this is the physical manifestation of a place being so electrifying!

Here’s a couple of photos I shot during my recent stepping on Time Square…

Basta! Ay lab dis pleys…